Rapid City Is Awesome…in the Summer! I’m Getting Excited to Hibernate.

City View from Dinosaur Park. July 2018. Rapid City, SD.

Snow is in the forecast.  I’m cold.  I’m cranky.  Where is Fall?

With cold days like this, it’s easy to forget how awesome Rapid City is, primarily because I have little motivation to leave my house.

When we first arrived this past summer, I was pleasantly surprised with Rapid City.  As much as I love Hawaii, it’s also crowded and expensive in paradise. Rapid City and the Black Hills have so much to offer – to see, eat, and do, especially if you love the great outdoors.

Hubby had to work, our household goods were in transit, the kids and I had little else to do but explore our new hometown.  We had so much fun playing tourist, although we have yet to visit Mount Rushmore or Crazy Horse!  (We were initially waiting for visitors, and then our visitors ironically didn’t care to go.)

Oh, the places we’ve been!  Here are a few notable destinations:

Badlands National Park

Rapid City Memorial Park

City of Spearfish 4th of July Parade

Custer State Park – Sylvan Lake, Wildlife Loop, Cathedral Spires, Sunday Gulch Trail

Dahl Art Center

Dinosaur Park

Downtown Square @ Rapid City

Harriet & Oak Café *my favorite coffee shop*

Journey Museum

M Hill

Mammoth Site

Prairie Edge Art Gallery & Trading Post

Sip-n-Stretch @ Hay Camp Brewing Company with Sol Yoga Collective

Spearfish Canyon – Devil’s Bathtub Trail

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Wall Drug

Watiki

 

Now that we are settling in and school has started, our routine is much more mundane.  Less tourist, more daily living – school & work engagements, dog walks, never-ending grocery shopping/cooking cycle.  I am spending a small fortune outfitting us all for the cold weather.  After wearing shorts and slippahs for two years, we have zero cold weather gear.  I’ve been told by the seasoned locals that having the proper gear makes all the difference in handling the cold and wind of Sodak.  I just bought a long winter coat that looks like it could double as a sleeping bag.  Fashionable? Maybe.  I just hope when I do venture outdoors, it will keep me warm and toasty (and less cranky).

The hubby and kids are super excited for the winter.  As long as they don’t mind me watching from inside by the window, standing guard over the hot chocolate and baking comfort foods, I guess I’m excited, too.

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!

60 Days Until I Leave Paradise for South Dakota

Maybe 60 days.  Of course, he doesn’t have orders yet.   Only the invisible Hand of Military Assignment knows about orders, and he’s indifferent.  Who knows or cares?

Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota

The Handsome Hubby has a Report No Later Than Date.  The rest of the family will get there when we get there.  The good news is that I have no hard deadlines with this move.  After our one-year separation, I expect that I will do this move alone.  Or more accurately, I will do this move with the help of my military spouse tribe.

I do give kudos to the Hubby though, as he is planning on stopping here in Hawaii for 9 days to help with the move.  I, however, anticipate that getting a pack out date within his 9-day window is best case scenario.  And we know how that goes, especially for my family.  If it makes sense, then no, it won’t be.  If it is convenient, then definitely not.  Orders 60 days out?  Pfft…amateur…please.  How many days until it’s ridiculous?  That’s our MO.  “Ridiculous” is when we will get our orders and then we will jump through hoops to get it done.

What’s a few more weeks in Hawaii?  I’m not in a hurry to leave.  I want Hawaii to be my forever home.  I have loved just about everything here, and my time, experiences, and friendships have been truly awesome!  I found my way back to my love of dance, and there has been plenty of opportunity to dance – ballroom, salsa, burlesque, Bollywood, hula, hip hop.

I am currently a graduate student at UH Manoa.  No surprise here that this move to South Dakota puts a stop to my graduate studies. Or at least a major slowdown while I recalibrate and try to figure out how to make it work.   I toyed with the idea of staying in Hawaii to finish the degree program, but quickly ixnayed the idea.  Our kids are anxious to reunite the family, so another year without dad is a no go.  I do not want to be separated from my kids, so a year alone in Hawaii is a no go.   Add the financial implications of maintaining two households, and the answer becomes clear.

But not without a bit of resentment because it’s going to be “I’m cold, I’m cranky, and I’m too old for this” kind of cold in South Dakota.

Insert the positive platitudes and pep talk from the well-meaning among us: “Oh that part of the state doesn’t get as much snow because it’s in the Banana Belt.”  Yes, banana belt.  Look it up.  Please know I am smiling ever-so-politely and nodding in agreement when this is said to my face, while the Mean Voice inside my head is shouting not-so-polite things.  “Oh, what an adventure this is!”

There you have it.  I’m living this military life in one-year increments. This next assignment is for two years, supposedly.  Just like Korea was a two-year assignment, supposedly.  “Oh, what an adventure this is!”

Onward and upward…with a coat…to the Mount Rushmore State!

Aloha!

We’re on the Move Again – to South Korea!

I did not take the unexpected assignment news well.

We have been in Hawaii less than a year.

I have been crying, cussing, and hurling bitter rage towards the Hubby and the Military.

The Invisible Hand of Military Assignments strikes again, with no reason or rationale given. (Yes, I know, I know….I expect too much.)

So after my epic temper tantrum (which is still ongoing – I’m still really pissed about the unexpectedness and abruptness of it all.), I will suck it up and gear up for the next “great adventure” that awaits us.

But let’s be honest – 3 moves in 3 years with kids to different states and now different countries IS hard. Especially since the original plan was that we would be in Hawaii for at least 2 years.  I get that plans change, but this abrupt change has been really difficult for me to accept because (1) I love Hawaii and (2) I had made MY plans and dreams, which now I must put on hold, regroup and reinvent, or give up entirely.  It’s hard to not be resentful.

The hubby & kids will not accept a self-imposed family separation, especially for two years.  Trust me, that was my first thought, “Have fun!  Kids and I will stay in paradise!”

I simply don’t know what I am going to do with myself for two years in South Korea (and maybe only a year) besides traveling.  I will soon have to drop everything to get ready for this move (passports, medical clearances, household management, transportation).   We will spend time with family this summer on the mainland, especially since visits will be far and few the next couple of years, and we will then spend time getting situated in our new temporary home.  When I feel less overwhelmed, I can investigate what opportunities are available in South Korea.  I’m not saying that there are not any there.  I’m just saying I’m tired of doing this for a 3rd year in a row.  I had my plan for Hawaii and now suddenly bye-bye.

Everybody I know is starting to offer the Pep Talk Platitudes – “Wow!  What an adventure!”

Or my second favorite “How awesome it will be for the kids to experience another culture!”

Or “Everyone who has been stationed there loves it!”

It IS an adventure, and it IS awesome.  Just not for me, not today.

Seize the day, Buttercup.

Or in my case, suck it up, Buttercup.

VALERIE

P.S.  It’s been 3 weeks since the surprise announcement, I have calmed down enough that I can say that I am leaving paradise and moving to Korea, without snarling or tears.  This is an improvement.  There are still many things that make my head spin – crazy neighbor in the north with weapons, Vog masks (pollution masks?), being halfway around the world from my aging parents….but it’s an “Adventure” so therefore we can dismiss all concerns and believe it’s going to be ok.

And it will all be ok.  I just don’t have to be ok about it every second of every day.

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

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.