The moving stats — Hawaii to South Dakota

40+ days and counting since we have been living out of a suitcase. (* No word yet on actual delivery date of household goods. *)

11 shipping crates of our domestic bliss, approx. 12,000 lbs of stuff.

500 lbs of Unaccompanied Baggage of household essentials. (* Murphy’s Law guarantees this to be the last arrival. *)

19 mind-boggling, stressful hours waiting for word that the family dog has successfully landed in the correct destination on the mainland.

6-hour flight with an inoperable onboard entertainment system to the mainland with 2 kids depending on an operable onboard entertainment system.

21 days from drop off to pickup of family car at the Vehicle Processing Center.

1500 miles, 5-state, 3-day road-trip with 2 cars, 2 kids, and 1 set of grandparents.

55 degree cold and rainy weather welcome by Mother Nature.

0 warm weather outfits.

Complete suspension of normal family budgeting and financial operations!

Too many good-byes to count.

1 grand military family adventure to the great state of South Dakota!

Just a few hiccups: Misplaced car registration, $1500 travel bill for the Dog, Tears & Curses, Sciatica.

Are we there yet?  YES!

Are we having fun yet?  YES!

And I still have unpacking to look forward to…

Wishing you a happy, safe, low stress PCS season!

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Self-Imposed Family Separation – Geo-Bachelor by Choice

I just can’t do another move right now.  The thought of going through another move, so soon after moving to Paradise, moves me either to tears or flashes of anger.

I am getting burned out with being Mrs. Air Force always on the Move, always the Perpetual Newcomer.

This will be move #7 in 9 years and the constant move cycle with kids is not so much a fun adventure to me any more.

Add the fumbling of orders, the unexpectedness, the logistics, the decisions, the financial implications, the waiting, the unknown, the research.  All of that together stresses me out.  Does it and has it always worked out?  Yes, of course.  Have I always made the best of the situation and jumped right in to craft a life I love or at least can tolerate for the short amount of time we are there? Yes.  But the stress of moving on repeat, despite the resources available and the camaraderie of military families, has taken its toll on me.

After Hubby and I settled into the idea of looming change, we took serious consideration of our next step.  We usually embrace “Family first, no matter what.”  We have never really given much thought to a self-imposed separation.  Yet here we are, in a different stage of life, thinking about it.  I told Hubby through clenched teeth that we had to at least see if temporary separation could be a real possibility; otherwise, I feared my resentment of another move would consume me.  Sometimes, when it feels like 1 step forward and 2 steps back, it is hard to stay positive.  After spinning my wheels here in Hawaii thinking about forward motion towards education & career goals as we fast approach retirement, I found it crushing to give it all up for the time being to start focusing on the logistics of a move with kids, a dog, and too much stuff.

What about online school? What about this? What about that?  There are always options, but my point is that this requires a momentum shift and a lot more spinning of wheels to research different options.  And let’s be real – I have limited energy as it is and it’s hard for me to find balance, much less scraping my original plans and start researching online opportunities while overseas.

Hubby and I asked questions.  We crunched the numbers.  We made a short-term plan for the upcoming school year. We applied for a waiver to stay in Hawaii.

With gratitude, I gladly report that our waiver has been approved!

HUGE sigh of relief.

I feel grounded now through the swirl and whirlwind of this move for my husband.  It’s GO time in less than 4 weeks.  He’s TDY, of course.  He doesn’t have orders yet, of course.  It’s our normal operating procedure, but this time I’m standing clear, supporting from the sidelines, and not in the middle of the crazy.  I feel calm.  For now.

Things change.  All the time.  Control what you can.  Adjust your attitude to what you can’t.  And when possible, put your foot down and say “Enough! I need a break from this.”

We will reevaluate our options next spring. In the meantime, our hospitality hotel in Hawaii reopens in July.  Come visit!

Valerie

p.s. I came across this quote today:

“To live is the rarest thing in the world.  Most people just exist, that is all.” –Oscar Wilde

I Have Laundry Duty even in Paradise

One month of hotel living:  Bag drag of seven suitcases through five hotels, three states, one long day of air travel.

Our family of four brought six suitcases and a booster seat for 2 to 3 months of living minimally until we are reunited with our household goods (hopefully).

After 30+ days, I have loads of laundry to do of the same tired wardrobe.

Hotel laundry facilities are not created equal. The first hotel charged $7.50 a load (!). Our current hotel charges $3.00 a load.  The 3 washers & 3 dryers are in high demand.

My forever friend Sylvia texts me: “I thought that in Paradise you just toss your beautiful flowing garments into the ebb of the magical waves and they flowed back to you on an ocean breeze.” (Quite the wit, she is!)

This is my reality right now:

Laundry duty in paradise
Laundry duty in paradise

 

Lessons learned:

  1. Never take more than you can carry.
  2. Wheeled luggage is essential.
  3. Make sure your family of 4 plus ALL your luggage fit in your rental car! (It’s a very tight squeeze for us!)
  4. Remember living on top of each other in 400 s.f. is only temporary.

Aloha!

Valerie

The Downside of Military Life: Dealing with Aging Parents and Travel Limitations for the Holidays

The hubby and I have been on this military journey long enough that are parents somehow have gotten old (which somehow may mean Hubby and I have aged as well, but I’m not ready to admit that just yet).

grandparents

When our kids were just babies, we established with the grandparents the expectation that they come to us for the holidays, wherever we might be. Typically, travel for two seasoned travelers is easier and cheaper, instead of one frazzled supermom alone with two young’uns or, when the mission allowed, a family of four.

Since entering military service many years ago, we have never been stationed anywhere close to either set of parents. The best-to-date distance has been 300 miles, one state over. In my younger days, when I had more energy and seemingly more disposable income, I did not find the distance an impediment. Sure, I didn’t see my parents and in-laws as much as I wanted, but I know it comes with the territory.

Since having kids, I am much more wistful about the distance and the infrequency of which we see our family. It takes a lot of time and energy to maintain any relationship, but maintaining family ties is the salt of life and so worth it for generations of family to know each other. I have driven all over these great United States, mainly the Midwest, for some face time with the great grandparents, grandparents, extended family, in-laws, and friends over the years, but usually just in the summer. For the holidays, the family comes to us.

Until this year.

This year marks the switch for my parents.

After their last visit which involved direct cross-country flights, they announced that their flying days were coming to an end. They would not be traveling to us this holiday season. They just can’t do the flying thing anymore, and driving is not feasible with the current distance apart. Health issues and the inability to travel light make flying a difficult and intolerable experience for them. Quality time with the grandkids is no longer enough of an incentive. The time has come that we travel to them.

Traveling with my children doesn’t seem quite as daunting since there are no more diaper bags involved. And yet now that I am considering this new change, holiday travel does seem overwhelming, namely the logistical challenges involved and the necessity of a revised travel budget. (Yikes!)

I’m coming to realize that Life is changing again, that my family and I are entering into a new season, a new stage of life, which requires flexibility, redefined expectations and new traditions.

So, I will continue to choose my family, even if it now involves four airplane tickets for an adventurous, packed-like-sardines, cross-country trip during the most wonderful time of year. (Choose love. Budget. Breathe. This is an Adventure!)

What about you? How do you maintain family ties while in the military? What are your family expectations on visits and holidays?

Valerie