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

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Aloha…Life is Good in Hawaii

I am was in the middle of a chaotic, logistically challenging move to Hawaii, and I just don’t remember previous moves being this stressful.

HOWEVER,  This is my current view…

Our view of Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii
Our view of Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

 

I operate with these thoughts/guidelines/procedures when it comes to moving:

  1.  If it can go wrong, it will.  * Murphy’s Law always makes an appearance. ALWAYS.*
  1. Hurry up & wait.
  1. Accept that It just won’t make much sense when it comes to military policy & procedures.
  1. Agencies & their agents don’t care about you, your move, your stuff. “It’s not my problem.”

We received orders 35 days before his Report No Later Than Date (RNLTD) for an overseas move.  The Transportation Management Office (TMO) assured us that scheduling our 3 shipments* under deadline would be no problem.

Naively, I believed them.  [Insert patronizing “oh honey, what were you thinking?” right now.  It’s ok, I deserve it.]

*  3 shipments:

  1. Household Goods – Our stuff, blissfully accumulated during our marriage.
  2. Non-temp storage – More stuff, which we could probably do without but can’t bear to part with just yet. We do know we don’t need or have the space in Hawaii for these things, but presumably we will want to reunite and use these things down the road, whenever that may be.
  3. Unaccompanied Baggage – The essentials to survive while waiting for the blissfully accumulated stuff. Limited to 1,000 lbs.

The disclaimer from TMO, especially when it’s high volume season, is we should be flexible with our dates.   See Operating Procedures #4 above.

Y’all, I was stressing big time, and now I’m here and it doesn’t matter much.  We eventually will get our stuff and our car.  We eventually will move into a home.

Everything is going to be alright.  Life is good!

Aloha!

Valerie

 

p.s.  I will eventually post a few helpful hints & lessons learned, just not today.

No Orders Yet!

Bureaucracy
Military Bureaucracy

I have my last few days of freedom before summer break begins and we move.

Perhaps the military will hand us another surprise and change our location…who knows?…what I do know is that we still do not have orders and thus I have no packout date. [Cue the crazy.]

This uncertainty is making me uncomfortable and anxious.

The only thing I know for certain is that the outprocessing/TMO scheduling/packing out/cleaning out the house per the lease agreement is going to be a torrential sh*tstorm when it finally descends upon us.

As I write this, we are suppose to be in Hawaii in 35 days. Clearly to the indifferent military bureaucracy, that is plenty of time to relocate military member, military family and household goods overseas. To the planning milspouse, 35 days without any concrete plans except our lease ending is nothing but severe agitation (read: bitchiness). I know I will be jumping through hoops to get my end of the deal done without penalty and on deadline.  Everything hinges on a packout date!

Meanwhile, I am going through the dwindling pantry coming up with creative menus. I am purging. I am avoiding dealing with the self-perpetuating mounds of papers. (Seriously, where does it all come from?) I’m wondering how we are going to transport our high value items that we usually partial-DITY move with a trailer.

I am manning the homefront and waiting for the hubby to get home from his extended TDY – 2 more weeks to go. I am less than amused when I receive a text that he is enjoying beer & exchanging stories with his classmates after work. Sounds so carefree & relaxing…. I am have become bitter and resentful and not sure how to let go of what I consider a very unbalanced situation. (Sanity check: I decided to dine out for dinner with the kiddos tonight.)

There is always the balancing act of living in the present and preparing for the future when dealing with the military move. Usually, I research online extensively about the next location. But this year, I have little extra brain matter and haven’t prioritized the time to research, so it will be a true adventure upon arrival, which I’m sure will make for some interesting, blissfully ignorant, situations.  We are, after all, “stuck” on an island for 2 years.

Honestly, I am trying to not get ahead of myself. I am trying to keep in together in the here and now – the last 5 weeks have been a whirlwind (Spartan Race, completed the last of the 350 hours for massage license re-certification (and still have 1 more hurdle to go!), dance recital, TKD tournament, birthday celebration, end of school year things, and EFMP/overseas medical clearance shenanigans) – and while I had grandparent reinforcements here for a few of those weeks, I have been doing this solo and my brain capacity has been maxed out. Even though I am excited for the next leg of the journey in Hawaii, we are taking it one day at a time. Just waiting impatiently for orders, so we can get on the housing list (I can’t even begin to think about schools & rentals.) and deal with TMO.  Fun, fun!

How do you handle the uncertainty of a military move?

Valerie
#getamassage

We’re moving to HAWAII!

Aloha

 

Hubby was notified last week of his next assignment–Hello Hawaii! (Is this for real?! I’m still in disbelief.)

I wish I was more excited about the upcoming move.  We are going to Paradise, after all.

Yes, that’s right—Hawaii!

The military never fails to surprise us – even for this well-seasoned-but-getting-near-the-end military spouse.  The assignment notification came last week–a complete and utterly incomprehensible-for-about-2-days surprise. Not once on our military journey together have the hubby and I dreamed about Hawaii.  Based on his career progression, it never seemed like a realistic possibility. For goodness’ sakes, we were in the heart of Texas for 8 long years and we sure did a lot of dreaming…. about leaving! (Just kidding.  We enjoyed our time there, but it’s not our first choice for our next assignment or our post-military/2nd career relocation when that time comes.)

Anyway, I digress.  Hawaii.  I mean, HAWAII!  Really.

You’d think I’d be ecstatic.  Jumping for joy.  Delighted.  Giggly even.

I will be, once I get there, with my feet in the sand, soaking in Paradise.

I know my lack of enthusiasm won’t elicit much sympathy because “Hello? It’s Hawaii.” Literally every friend I have shared the news has enough enthusiasm for the both of us.  S/he doesn’t have to do the work of moving.  To me, an OCONUS move seems like a complicated mess right now.  I know, I know – I just have to take it one day at a time.

But dang, can’t I vent even a little?

My lack of enthusiasm stems from:

  1. I’m feeling anxious about an OCONUS move and its extra layers of bureaucracy, clearances, planning & organizing.
  2. I can’t do a post-move purge like I usually do as I unpack; and I don’t feel like I have much time to do the pre-move purge with my current commitment load.
  3. I have to give up my dream of DC/Northern Virginia.
  4. I am a planner and have been planning a glorious return to DC/Northern Virginia for months now. Yes, I entirely jumped the gun, but in my defense, all indications pointed to DC, as in this was the only location discussed with the Hubby and the Powers-that-be-aka-Assignment-gods.
  5. I know next to nothing about Hawaii. I have to immerse myself into researching housing and schools.
  6. We are trying to coordinate all of this while Hubby and I are geographically separated.
  7. I am concerned about travel and my aging parents. https://perpetualnewcomer.com/2015/10/27/the-downside-of-military-life-dealing-with-aging-parents-and-travel-limitations-for-the-holidays/
  8. I think I am mad and anxious about truly starting over in a new location. New places & faces.  Friend dating again.    I am a social person and usually enjoy meeting people and exploring, but my energy level doesn’t keep up as much these days.  I really just wanted to return to my comfort zone in Virginia, where I could be myself and be accepted and reunite with old friends.  Let’s face it – moving requires the positive attitude, the smile, and the nice persona for the chance encounter of making fast friendships.  It’s about putting yourself out there, preferably a good version of yourself, to make those little connections that might lead to a friendship.  Now I consider myself a kind, approachable person, and I have made good friends at each duty station (7 states and counting), but I haven’t always been able to be completely myself or to deeply bond either.  Those type of friendships usually take time to develop.  I think what’s wearing on me is the potential for the “lonely feeling” that comes with a move.  Yes, I have the Hubby, but our need for socializing and how we handle moving are completely different.
  9. What are we going to do with our beloved geriatric dog?!

But are you thinking “It’s Hawaii!  People pay good money for a week in Paradise.  You get to live it for 2 whole years!”

Yes, I am so excited! (Once I get there.)  Yes, I can hardly believe it. (I’ll believe it when I get there. Notice a theme?) In the meantime, I’m putting my head down, getting done what needs to get done, and taking it one day at a time.  Breathe.  I do not dare tempt Murphy’s Law (and we’ve already had one stress-maximizing, cash-hemorrhaging fiasco with our car last week just as all of this was going down.)

Here’s to perpetual flip flops, pedicures & casual wear.  Start making your travel plans to mi casa.  Aloha!

Aloha

Valerie

Update: As I looked at photos, I can feel resurfacing some of that boundless enthusiasm I usually have about moving, adventures, letting go and starting anew.  I mean, it IS Hawaii, people!  [Insert giggles of delight.] Having a small vent, acknowledging what’s bugging me and then moving on has been therapeutic.

Detaching from Montgomery – The Next Move is Approaching

We rolled into 2016, a new year of possibilities. It’s usually a time to jumpstart the routine, try new things, set some goals & resolutions.

Yet for me, it’s a time to fight the detachment from Montgomery. We rolled into a new year and I’m trying hard to stay in the present moment. I’m starting to shut down, closing myself off from here, detaching. I don’t need to accept any new invitations, or make new acquaintances, nor try too hard.

We know we will be moving in June (unless the Invisible Hand of Assignments surprises us.). We are waiting for assignment notification. Once we receive the notification (most likely in March), my head is in the new place. I will be researching the new location, searching online, visiting the area to find a place to live and to recreate our lives once again. I already have one foot out the door.

When I first arrive to a new place, I am open to Possibility. I am receptive. I invite. I look for openings for connection. I randomly drive around “exploring” to learn my way around.

This is exactly what I did upon arrival here to Montgomery – I started exploring, unpacked (mostly), found my way around, tried new things, met people, and started making my community. With seven months down, I have now met all who I am going to meet on this tour, which by the way has been plenty of very awesome people! The last five months in Montgomery are about maintaining what I have established. It’s about being present for my kids, their school events, finishing up my re-certification for massage therapy, fitness, an extended TDY, an upcoming graduation, and moving preparation. Oh, we might also squeeze in a few must-see sites and, in my dream world, another trip to the beach that actually involves lounging in the sand & surf.

Meanwhile, I am trying to make meaningful connection/time with the people I have met, although we all know, we are all just passing through. These are situational friendships. It doesn’t make the friendships less than. It is what it is. Thankfully with Facebook, there is a much better opportunity to stay loosely connected. (Aside: My friend Caputa from my South Dakota days, 15 years ago, just reconnected with me today on Facebook, after we had gone our separate ways many moons ago and had lost touch. Not intentional but just the way it is. I’m looking forward to his update! This brings a smile to my face to think about that time in our lives and now to learn about his current life.)

I don’t have much more time or energy to expend on the new anymore. I am in maintaining mode.

When do you start detaching? Or do you stay connected to the very end?

Valerie

Girls Weekend – Facing Major Change & Upheaval as we face 40!

Girls Weekend!
Girls Weekend!

Every year for almost 20 years, my tribe of women, our friendship cemented from our college days, gather for our annual reunion. The destination and hostess change every year, but our commitment to see each other is steadfast and unwavering. It is a given that our reunion location will be inconvenient for at least two of us. As we have made our way through career moves and pursued Lives well lived, we have trekked and established base camps in many states. Our living configuration typically means two live on the East Coast, two live on the West Coast, and there is the Midwest floater.

We designate our soul circle, the tribe, the gathering of Notre Dame women as the “MPU,” otherwise known as the Mobile Party Unit. A moniker self-bestowed upon us in our youthful days when we thought the fun always found us. More precisely, together WE ARE THE FUN.

Each reunion is an opportunity to pause from our hectic, balancing act of life. Work-Life balance is a debunked myth we have decided. We accept the chance to reflect and report the significant moments of our lives, full circle in a year. What were our goals and ambitions from last year? Did we make progress? Did we move forward? Stumble along or fall flat? Or this year, do we bask in our successes?

We stopped competing with each other long ago. Now we are cheerleaders for each other. We are witnesses to each other’s journey. We share. We inspire, intentionally and unintentionally. We laugh and laugh some more. And most importantly, we are ourselves.

Together, we are a safe place to express hesitation, uncertainty, or doubt.

We have collective memory of who we use to be. Who are we? Are we the same 18 year-old gals now in 40 year-old bodies? There is such a comfort and a beauty to be among women who have known each other for 20 years, who are witness to each individual journey, who notice the changes, both subtle and obvious, but know the heart and essence of the 40-year old maturing woman before them remains the same as that 18-year old young idealistic woman left behind. We are older and wiser and much more generous and kinder than before.

Together, we are a fun place to marvel over Life as we understand it—its beauty. Its indifference. Its irony. Its connectedness. The ups & downs in a marriage. In personal growth. In family dynamics. With aging parents. With growing kids. With health challenges. Life itself.

Next year, we face a milestone birthday. We are facing major change and transition, and not just the number of years and its accompanying proliferating grey hairs. 4 out of 5 of the MPU are moving out of our comfort zone to confront change. Change in career status, in love, and location.

The sales manager is considering moving out to the ‘burbs for her family.

The immigration rights lawyer is welcoming her 2nd child.

The web designer/user experience guru is embracing a new job with a highly visible tech company.

The military spouse is accepting with hard-earned wisdom and grace the uncertainty of military life while she awaits notification of the next duty assignment.

All the gals await an update from the hospital/pastoral care chaplain.

Such is life: Waiting. Living. Loving. Change and transition. Life goes on, only better when the MPU is involved. Together.

With the constant moving of military life, do you have a group of friends or a bestie with whom you meet regularly?  If not, make the call.  Plan the get-together!

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