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Guest Blog | PCS Karma

 Posted by on July 31, 2014 at 16:08
Jul 312014
 

Blogger Biography: Sam is a mom of two young girls, married to a Marine on recruiting duty. She is a writer, baker and would be Martha. She loves volunteering and helping military families. She is from just outside of Washington, D.C., but now lives in a small town in Tennessee. She never thought she’d marry anyone in any kind of uniform, but that is where they are.

GuestBlogger_SarahD

Sam

I have only moved twice with the military. The first move was from North Carolina to Hawaii and then Hawaii to Tennessee. They were vastly different moves, and yet, somehow they both still scare me.

When the move to Hawaii was done, I looked at my husband and said, “If every move is like this, I will meet you in 20 years.” It was bad. It took a while to settle, but we eventually got it all taken care of. It haunted me the entire time we were in Hawaii; anytime anyone mentioned PCSing, I swear I became nauseated.

So I made sure I was insanely prepared for the move out of Hawaii. I had a binder ready a full year before orders were even a whisper. I had receipts for anything over $200. People made fun of me left and right, but I did not care. When my husband and I went to our PCS workshop, I took my binder and added handouts and notes. I had my power of attorney; I had piles ready for a yard sale; I knew what I needed to keep for the trip; I had talked to Distribution Management Office (DMO) and Installation Personnel Administration Center (IPAC) about what I needed to do, and I had my “plans.” I was ready.

Did I mention that I was hoping to have most of the move done while my husband was at recruiting school? I was terrified to do the move out of Hawaii alone, but because our oldest daughter is in school, when we moved mattered. My goal was to have an empty house when he came home the week before Christmas and leave the island as soon as possible afterward. This way we would be settled in our new house in time for school.

But, the Marine Corps being the Marine Corps, they would not issue orders! They told us a date we “should” have them by, and that date came and went without so much as a whisper. My husband started ignoring my texts because inevitably, I was asking if we had orders. This went on for two weeks. The week before he was due to come home, I had given up hope and was at a friend’s house when he text messaged me. “Web orders in. Working on getting them to you.” I stared blankly at my friend who, once she found out I had my Power of Attorney with me, told me to get to DMO.

I FLEW.

Thankfully, I had already been to DMO a time or two…or five, (Who’s counting?) so they recognized me. I walked in and was immediately seen. When the Marine helping me asked when I wanted the pack out and I said the next day, he looked at me like I was insane. But if it wasn’t the next day, I explained, it couldn’t be until Christmas Eve because of construction in my neighborhood. Talk about a blue Christmas. He said he would try, but no promises. We submitted everything, and I went home, convinced my house would be full of movers on Christmas, but knowing I’d done what I could.

Imagine my surprise when two hours later, I got a phone call from a moving company with the promise they’d be there the next day. I was so sure that it wasn’t going to happen that I was literally painting a dresser when he called. When he asked if I had any questions, all I could think to ask was, “What about my dresser?” Poor guy. He told me he’d be at my house that afternoon for the walk through, and the team would be there the next morning ready to go.

I hung up and immediately started texting and calling for help. My dresser was wet! I had to get my oldest daughter to and from school, and what was I going to do with the baby? Nothing was packed! I had to do laundry! I couldn’t be alone in our two- story house with FIVE movers! Thankfully, I have amazing friends, and they pulled through. Someone took the baby, someone took my older daughter to school, someone came to help me pack and someone sat with me all day. It all came together.

And then the movers came. And they were great. They packed quickly, and more importantly, they packed well. My husband came home to an empty house, got checked out in one day, and somehow got us a flight out the day after Christmas, after we were repeatedly told that would not happen. We had an amazing visit with my in-laws, got to town a week before school and found a house the next day. Everything got delivered early, including our cars, and not a single thing was broken or missing.

I wasn’t disappointed that the move went so freakishly easy. But I was scared. I had convinced myself that every move would be horrible. When we bought our replacement bedroom furniture, I didn’t like it, but I rationalized that it probably wouldn’t make the move off island, so who cared? Then it all went so well.

I tried to rationalize and say that we had earned some PCS karma, but even now, three months after the movers and their boxes have gone, I am still waiting for something to go wrong. The further we get from the move, the calmer I am, but still. My moving experiences were night and day. I like to think that the move to Hawaii was the Corps’ way of welcoming me to a world where I cannot actually be in charge of everything all the time. Honestly though, both moves have made me much calmer about any future moves. Sure, things might go wrong. But it’ll get fixed. I know I had a move people dream about, so I am sure the next few won’t be quite as smooth. At least I’ll know what to do.

Sixteen Unexpected PCS Secrets

 Posted by on April 30, 2014 at 16:52
Apr 302014
 
Kristi

Kristi

Once upon a time I had a really expensive, custom-molded bleach tray for my teeth. Then one day, I assumed that my very first permanent change of station move as a military spouse didn’t require my supervision. That was the last time I saw my bleach tray. Now, nearly six years later, I’m calling off the search, but I’m not relinquishing my bitterness. I learned quite a bit during that first PCS process (emphasis on the dreadfully long word, process).

Much of the information you need to be a successful PCS-er is – for some reason – not widely discussed. You have to know what questions to ask in order to get the answers you need, which is a situation I’ve never excelled at. Just like the times my second grade teacher would tell me to look up a word in the dictionary if I didn’t know how to spell it, my response is, “That makes no sense.” For what it’s worth, I’m still a terrible speller, so instead of committing to a lifetime of being equally bad at moving, here are my PCS secrets:

  1. No one starts planning as early as you will. If I had a superpower, it would be to make orders appear whenever I’m ready. This way we would have plenty of viable house-hunting and job-hunting months.
  2. Your family won’t understand the holdup either. Moms, dads, grandmas and great-aunts will begin asking you years in advance if you know where you’re going. Have your statement prepared.
  3. You won’t like something where you’re going if you don’t love it now. If you haven’t worn or used it lately, let it go.
  4. Packers won’t handle anything plugged in, hanging on the wall or containing batteries or liquid, but they’ll box up your full trash can.  Spend some quality time unplugging, disposing of liquids, pulling down decorations and emptying trash cans the day before the packers arrive.
  5. Annoyance pays off in every stage of your PCS. Start calling early and call often to follow up with reservations, equipment rentals, moving services, shipment delivery dates and more.
  6. You won’t use up the rest of the food in your fridge or pantry. I always think I’ll use up the ketchup or that five-pound bag of flour. For one, you won’t have your usual kitchen supplies, and your ingredients rarely add up to anything appetizing – case and point, flour topped with ketchup. Trash them, pawn them off on neighbors or prepare to carry them with you.
  7. Inflatable mattresses are useless without pillows or blankets. Enjoy the first night in your new home with the complete makeshift bedding set.
  8. Items that movers disassemble or pack, they can reassemble and unpack, but you have to ask. You aren’t obligated to use this service; we never do. I like to give the new house a good scrub before unpacking.
  9. Movers can also take care of the truckload of boxes and packing paper if they unpack your goods. Again, just ask. If they won’t, your community may have a recycling center or offer a bulk pick-up service.
  10. Cars fill up quickly; be selective with your carry-along items. If you can get by without something for a few days, pack it up so you aren’t traveling across the country in a sardine can.
  11. Cleaning supplies might not be some of your favorite things, but keep them with you. You’ll use them to clean before move out and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to clean your new home, sweet, home before you let anyone touch anything.
  12. Presents and presence are my favorite tips for interacting with the packers and movers. Be friendly and be around to answer questions. Keep them comfortable with water and possibly snacks or a meal if you’re interested.
  13. You will only need important documents if you don’t have them, so beat the system and carry everything from birth certificates to multiple copies of your orders with you as you travel.
  14. A perfectly packed car means nothing if it’s inconvenient when you stop for the night. Pack the things you’ll need for an en route, overnight hotel stay where it’s easily accessible (meaning it isn’t packed under all of your kid’s toys or your box of cleaning supplies). Also remember that your car or truck will be in a parking lot all night, so keep your belongings locked up and secure.
  15. Kids expect to be entertained on your PCS “adventure.” We used valuable car space to tote half of my son’s toys with us on our last PCS. Now with two kids, I fear we’ll need a bigger car for next year’s PCS. Plan fun stops along the way to break up the trip. Check out the Best Kept Secrets or theme parks offering free or discounted military admission and find those along your route.
  16. You will get frustrated, but remember everyone in your family is working with you not against you. Hours in the car followed by hours “sleeping” in a one-room hotel with the noisiest kids in the world turns me into one cranky mommy. I often have to remind myself that it isn’t always about the destination, but making the most of the trip.

Put your PCS fails behind you (farewell, beloved bleach tray), and move on to the next wiser and better prepared. If you have your own PCS secrets, please share them below so we can all get the answers we really need to the questions we didn’t know we needed to ask.

Expectations and Realizations While PCSing

 Posted by on March 28, 2013 at 16:00
Mar 282013
 
Staff Blogger Kelli

Kelli

MOVING! We’re MOVING!!!! Now, read into this what you will. Sometimes it is said with a big giant grin, a click of the heels and the frenzied excitement of moving begins. Other times it is said with giant question marks and accusatory tones bellowed loudly into the universe. I have experienced both ends of this emotional spectrum.

There is a certain term I have gleaned from my professional life that I find effective in other areas of my life such as family, volunteerism and my checking account: “Managing Expectations.”

I do this on a daily basis. For example, “Dear family, I am very busy tonight – feed yourselves” or “Dear hardworking husband, I have spent all the money… again. We are broke until pay day.” I find this philosophy works well when moving. Regardless of what initial emotion the announcement of an impending move is met with, you will want to quickly set the appropriate expectations for your family and for yourself. This is no time for fantasy, building up the new duty station and potentially setting your family up for major disappointment.

So, let’s manage some expectations. Invest some time in researching where you are going, what there is to see and do along the way as well as once you get there. Life really is an adventure, and if you model this attitude, it will serve your children well as they grow older.

BUT KELLI, we have to drive Interstate 10 from California to Texas. Do you have any idea what you drive through? Why yes, yes I do. Sometimes the adventure happens within your own vehicle and at rest stops along the way. But adventures don’t just happen; you have to help them along sometimes. As the kids got older, we would “PT” at every rest stop, to include pushups, jumping jacks, wind sprints and the occasional spontaneous flying ninja leap off cement picnic tables. Six kids, three dogs and a Marine running amuck off Interstate 10 is no boring afternoon.

Helping kids adjust – Not always an easy task. While our younger children are more physically tiring to manage during a move, they are pretty good about adjusting. We pack them up and stick them in a vehicle or on an airplane loaded down with electronic devices, snack cups and juice boxes. Somewhere you should have a giant box of wipes and a few trash bags too.  Older children who are more emotionally invested in people and places they are leaving are a harder sell.

Focus on the positive of the move, but be honest. It stinks to leave friends, it hurts to say goodbye and the new duty station may look like the end of the world. I recommend you don’t try and tell them something you know isn’t true. Making friends is hard, especially if you are a 14 year old introverted boy who has yet to hit his growth spurt AND still wears braces. Anyone who makes it through that emotionally intact has amazing parents!

Sit down; talk it out. By talk, I mean listen! Hear what they have to say, acknowledge their fears and then tailor your words and advice to what they need to hear. If you have a child who is a history buff, focus on what will now be available. If your children are athletic and adventurous, check out the resources that will be nearby. Above all, remind your children of who they are and what they are capable of.  All children need to know their folks believe in them and their ability to overcome challenges. They also need to know they aren’t alone in those challenges. Our truest character shows through during the most challenging times. Help them to understand that and rise to those challenges.

No kids to manage but feel like throwing a fit when you hear when and where you are moving? Do the same thing, but with your partner. Talk about what you’re worried about and what you’ll miss. Find the advantage and the silver lining. Yes, channel Pollyanna on occasion; it works. Sometimes it’s just a shred of excitement, but it can be enough. Note: you will have to take turns being Pollyanna for each other. Moving is not always fun or easy to do. We have broken down, been ill, and had flat tires and major fights on the side of a highway. However, we all got back in, fixed what was broken, found some ice cream or another sugary delight and carried on.

Don’t forget other people are affected by your move too, even if just peripherally. Address those expectations as well. Just because you were able to stop and visit every grandparent, aunt, uncle and cousin along the way last time, doesn’t mean you can or want to this time. Report dates, school, location and time of year you are traveling make this a new adventure each and every time. No two deployments are alike and no two moves are alike. Sometimes you just don’t want to stop, but get to where you’re going, get set up and settled down. Be clear about what you can and can’t do.

Finally, keep a sense of humor. Some of the funniest stories now were not funny when they happened. However I remember thinking, “This will be funny—at some point” as we met moving challenges along the way.

Looking back on a lifetime of moves, I am amazed at my family, what we have done and the adventures we’ve had together on purpose and otherwise. Our moves bind us together and for that I am grateful.

Moves, Meals and Money: Tips for Working With Movers

 Posted by on March 21, 2013 at 08:00
Mar 212013
 
Staff Blogger Kristi

Kristi

“Welcome to my home complete stranger employed by the lowest bidding moving company. Please come in and pack all of my possessions, including all those valuable, unmentionable, unorganized and embarrassing while we try to make small talk for several hours.”

Awkward…

As military service members and spouses we are sure to see our fair share of movers, so it is worth our time to make this routine interaction slightly less awkward. Everyone who has ever used a professional moving company seems to have their own little secret to a successful interaction with the packers and movers, like a free lunch or a hefty tip.

Who’s hungry?

If you need convincing that the incentive of free food is a powerful weapon, just think about all of those invitations for installation events that advertise free pizza! Still not sold? Have you ever been to a party or reception that was void of food? For shame! There is no quicker way to get a room full of people to turn on you than to deprive them of food.

But, is there a right way to feed your hardworking crowd? Simply stated, yes. The free lunch incentive is twofold; you are doing your movers a favor, true, but you’re also offering a free meal so your movers will stay put, stay motivated and stay happy. I like to drop hints of lunch when the movers arrive so they are working toward something all morning. Something along the lines of, “Let me know if you need anything, and we’ll have lunch for you all around 11:00,” usually does the trick.

Since your pots and pans are being packed away, you’ll most likely need to spring for some take out for your movers. Some popular choices are pizza, sub sandwich platters or ready-made meals from the grocery store. If you would rather not offer a meal or your movers finish before mealtime, be sure to at least have cold water. You might also offer sports drinks or sodas (chances are, you need to clean out that fridge of yours anyway).

Tipping isn’t just for cows

The tipping method is pretty self-explanatory. When someone spends the day doing a job for you that you didn’t want to do, it’s customary to offer your appreciation with a president’s face on it. Exactly which president you offer is up to you and is dependent on the quality of work of your packers and movers.

If you choose to tip, take into account that you will probably have more than one person moving your belongings, so calculate ahead of time how much you can offer so each mover gets a fair share. Like anyone else you might tip, you can also let the quality of work determine the tip amount. If you had an exceptional moving team, you might offer the full amount of cash you allotted, but don’t feel like you have to offer a tip—or at least a large tip—if you weren’t overly impressed with your movers.

Professional vs. friendly relationships

Whether or not you choose to offer lunch or a tip is completely your call, and it certainly isn’t required. You can offer your movers a great work environment. You should have a somewhat professional relationship with your packers and movers so they work. If you are just shooting the breeze with them all morning and showing little care about your belongings, chances are that they aren’t going to feel any motivation to pick up the pace and put extra care into wrapping that irreplaceable crystal vase that you love so much. Exercise a healthy professional relationship with your movers with the following tips:

  • Show them each room of the house that they will be working in. Be sure to clearly point out which rooms or items are off limits (because those items will travel with you).
  • Give any additional requests upfront. If you want all your kitchen supplies packed together, say so! Otherwise, you may end up with forks and knives in the box with your bath towels.
  • Remember that golden rule. Treat your movers like you would want to be treated in that position. For instance, if I was packing up all of your…for lack of a better term…stuff, I would want some direction from you followed by a little faith that I know what I’m doing.
  • Stay alert and available for questions and additional direction.

Nothing says you can’t be professional and friendly. If you’ve ever sent food back at a restaurant, you know that there is a delicate balance of getting your complaint or request across to your waiter and being nice enough not to tempt someone to spit in your food. Gross and inappropriate, yes, but it happens.

The same fine line exists with your movers. Let your requests be known, like please be extra careful with our wedding china, or don’t pack that bag of trash, but remember that they are people too. Don’t be afraid to make a little small talk to help them pass the time while they work, and ask more than once if they need anything, like water, a break (especially on a hot summer day) or access to the restroom.

Your next moving experience can be a positive one. Your movers have a job to do and, if you care at all about your possessions and a smooth unpacking process, you owe it to yourself and your movers to be a balance of professional and friendly. And, if you can manage it, a little lunch or cash incentive never hurts either.

Do’s and Don’ts of PCSing for Newbies

 Posted by on March 8, 2013 at 14:00
Mar 082013
 
Staff Blogger Kristi

Kristi

During my first PCS as a new military spouse, I thought I was living the dream! I walked through the door of our apartment after a day of molding seventh graders into literate young adults and the work was all done! The next day I came home to an empty apartment and I didn’t lift a finger!

Hold on folks because I’m not even finished; it gets better. Without the stress of hauling our stuff across the country, we turned our move into a vacation! I couldn’t understand why people had so much moving anxiety; this was great!

When we arrived at our first official duty station as a married couple, my rose-colored bubble burst, and things got ugly… quickly.

My husband, through no fault of his own since he was used to nasty bachelorhood before I came along, hadn’t made a big deal out of packing, shipping, pulling out essential items for us or arranging living arrangements at our new installation.

The days that followed our little cross-country road trip were some of the most stressful and uncomfortable days of my life, but they were not in vain because this newbie got wise real quick! I made more mistakes than I can count, so to prevent anyone else from living in basic overnight quarters (BOQ) for a month on take-out and cereal, followed by living in a new house with no furniture for several weeks and unpacking things that should have never made the trip, I give you the do’s and a lot of don’ts for your newbie PCS.

Do
  • Decide ahead of time: rent, buy or live on base. Don’t wait until you arrive to make this call. If you’re buying, you need to get on the ball and use that house hunting leave because it can take weeks or even months to close on a house.
  • Research, research and research some more. Find out all you can about the moving process and your new duty station. You might as well learn early that your service member isn’t always the best source of information. Make phone calls, ask around and use the Internet (that’s what it’s there for)!
  • Leave some essential items out of your shipment. I forgot to set aside an air mattress. If not for some generous friends, we would’ve spent weeks sleeping on the floor. For a complete list on what to toss in the car with you, check out the first day box list.
  • Go trash and donation crazy! If you don’t use it or like it now, you won’t at your new duty station either, so in the weeks leading up to your move, re-evaluate everything you own and why you own it. Do you ever plan on wearing that freshman homecoming dress again? If it looked anything like mine, I hope not. Donate that thing! Troll through the pantry and toss things past their prime and use perishable foods before moving day. And, darling newlyweds, you don’t need two toasters, blenders or any other household appliance.
  • Be present and involved in the packing and moving process. I made the mistake of letting my husband handle this while I was at work. In the honeymoon stage of our marriage, I’d completely forgotten the state of his apartment when I moved in—unorganized and smelling like boy.
Don’t
  • Overestimate the movers. No moving company, no matter how great, is going to care about your stuff as much as you do. Show you care by inviting them into a clean and organized house and stick around to offer help. And, if you can swing it, cold water, lunch and/or a tip can go a long way.
  • Forget to organize before the movers arrive. So you’ve tossed what you don’t need, but don’t forget to organize what you’re keeping. If you expect things to be organized when you unpack them, you need to put like items into baggies or boxes. The packers won’t do this; their job is to pack things quickly and efficiently, not necessarily orderly.
  • Be afraid to pack a few things yourself. No one wants to unpack a box of holiday decorations in the middle of a summer move! Items like rarely used linens or kitchen utensils, office supplies, seasonal decorations or child hand-me-downs not currently in use can be boxed, labeled (write “do not unpack” and list the contents) and taped ahead of time. If the packers ask, tell them not to unpack and repack these boxes. They will label them “packed by owner” and load them on the truck. Disclaimer: I don’t recommend packing anything fragile yourself since the moving company won’t be responsible for it if it breaks.
  • Forget to finalize living arrangements before you move. Use your house hunting leave to view properties and sign leases if you’re renting. The sooner you have an address, the sooner you can alert the moving company to deliver your shipment so you don’t have to camp in your new house for a month while your stuff is in a storage unit down the street.
  • Forget about your pets! If you’re traveling with a pet, identify pet friendly hotels and temporary lodging ahead of time. If you’re flying or PCSing overseas, research the process of bringing your pet as soon as possible! Some countries require certain vaccinations and quarantine periods.

Your first PCS doesn’t have to be a headache; mine was headache enough for all of us! Do your homework and get organized in advance and your first PCS will be so smooth that you’ll be able to keep pace with those veteran movers!

What to Put in Your First Day Box

 Posted by on May 8, 2012 at 08:00
May 082012
 
Staff Blogger Kristi

Kristi

I vaguely remember watching, judgmentally, through the opening credits of The Beverly Hillbillies as the Clampett clan loaded up their possessions into one vehicle and headed across the country. I had no moving experience at the time, but I couldn’t help but feel like they were doing it wrong. I’m fairly certain that Jed couldn’t see in his rear-view mirror with that pile of junk blocking his line of vision, and there is no doubt in my mind that strapping Granny into her rocking chair on top of the whole mound of stuff must have been not only dangerous but illegal in at least half the states they drove through.

Fast forward a couple decades and there I was driving my car from south Texas halfway across the country without so much as an inch of free space. I’m not exaggerating; I even had to leave a couple boxes with my parents just so my new husband could ride shotgun, and my rearview mirror was purely decorative since my stuff was piled clear to the ceiling in the back seat. My husband and I had become the modern day version of the Clampetts, and I was so embarrassed to be seen exiting or entering the car, that we only stopped in emergency situations, like an empty gas tank or full bladder.

The good news is that we arrived in one piece or, should I say with all of our pieces, and made it through the gates of our installation without being stopped for a random inspection (whew). The bad news was that I forgot to pack an air mattress. Yep! I had a yoga mat, complete desktop computer system, a box full of cooking spices, a suitcase full of shoes to accommodate any climate, but no air mattress. Rookie mistake.

As usual, I’d learned something the hard way, but the important part was that I’d actually learned something from this disaster. For the next PCS I’m going to be comfortable on the trip and I’m not arriving empty handed because I’m going to make sure the following essentials are all going to be boxed and belted in the car.

Squeaky Clean. When you finally make it to your new house, chances are you’ll want to clean up a bit. These supplies can help you sanitize the notoriously dirty places in your new home, like the bathroom and kitchen, and also keep you smelling as pleasant as you possibly can while you unpack and get settled:

  • toilet paper
  • towels
  • shower curtain and hooks
  • trash bags
  • basic cleaning supplies
  • dishwashing detergent

Organization Central. When it comes to moving, organization is the name of the game. In order for the process to run smoothly, keep a couple key objects on hand to avoid as many hiccups as possible:

  • scissors or box cutter
  • paper and pen
  • batteries
  • chargers for electronics
  • light bulbs
  • night lights
  • basic tools
  • first-aid kit
  • toys to occupy children and pets

Working up an Appetite

  • baby food
  • pet food (and dishes)
  • bottled water
  • disposable cups, plates, and utensils
  • coffee maker, coffee, and filters

Sleep on It

  • air mattresses
  • sheets, blankets, and pillows

You may have noticed that I left out some key items, like a few changes of clothes and toiletries, but I left those out on purpose. I prefer to pack these items in a separate, easily accessible bag so that they’re easy to grab should you have to stay overnight in a hotel before you make it to your new installation.

Obviously there are some things I did not list that you might really need. If you have a unique situation, like flying overseas for a PCS or making stops en route, you may have to tweak this list to better fit your needs. You might also need to be sure to pack medicines or special equipment if you have an ill family member or a family member with special needs. No matter your situation, plan ahead; I can’t stress that enough. In most cases, the items in your first day box will be the last ones you pack, because you may still be using them the day you leave your current home.

The bottom line is that this first day box is meant to simplify the moving process. If you forget something major, like…ahem…the air mattress, it really isn’t the end of the world. We managed to borrow an air mattress from some friends nearby, and all was well. Most likely, anything you forget can be picked up along the way or upon your arrival. Let your first day box be about convenience not stress!

Happy trails from the modern day Clampetts!

Guest Blog: Moving Day Memories

 Posted by on March 16, 2012 at 08:00
Mar 162012
 

Guest Blog: Moving Day Memories

Wife on the Roller Coaster is a proud military spouse, a mother of two military brats, a kindergarten teacher, and a freelance writer. During her ten year marriage to the military, she has completed countless change of address forms, mastered the art of packing, and battled Murphy’s Law as she conquered her husband’s deployments. She blogs about her adventures as a military spouse at Riding the Roller Coaster.

Moving is never easy. You have to sell your house, find renters, or prepare an on-base house for a white-glove inspection. You have to pack everything you own or prepare to have professional movers wrap/break/lose your most treasured possessions. You have to say good-bye to friends, quit your job, and pull your kids out of school. No, moving is never easy. But sometimes it takes a moving day to remind you to take some time out to reflect and reminisce.

My husband and I have PCS’ed three times. Those three PCS’s included six different houses. And because most of those moves included hotel stays in between the pack-out of one house and the pack-in of the next, as well as the staggered arrivals of overseas shipments, I’ve completely lost track of how many moving days I’ve actually endured. But despite the fact that each move had its own difficulties and complications, there are some aspects of moving day that remain the same regardless of whether we were moving to from the States to Japan or to an on-base house 15 minutes down the road. Continue reading »

Guest Blog: LC’s First PCS

 Posted by on March 13, 2012 at 08:00
Mar 132012
 

Guest Blog: LC’s First PCS

Blogger Biography: LC is a three-year Air Force Spouse about to embark on her first Permanent Change of Station (PCS) after living in her home state her entire life. She’s working through the ups and downs of being a military wife, taking care of a recently epileptic dog, and sometimes-single home ownership all the while trying to keep strong through it all.

 

There is no such thing as too much prep work when you are embarking on a PCS. I’m learning the hard way that I have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best to make this the easiest transition possible; not only for me and my husband but also our epileptic dog and all of our possessions. My husband was approved to retrain into another career field more than 6 months ago. Those 6 months leading up to the impending P-Day (PCS Day) have flown by in such a whirl wind. Between planning our 5 days of travel and in between visiting my in-laws and trying to find hotels that allow dogs; to being told we don’t qualify for on base housing at our next base because we’re only there for 6 months and trying to find a dog friendly home; to planning to travel with our precious 3 year old dog that was recently diagnosed with epilepsy in a car for 24 hours. It’s been such a rush and learning experience. One I am thankful to have.

I’ve moved plenty of times, on my own of course. I moved my husband from his off base dorms to our apartment and moved us from our apartment to our first home we purchased 3 days after being married. I’ve dealt with the basics of moving, but letting go of most of my control in this move has been the hardest learning curve. Knowing someone else will be packing our things and that I had to quit my career that I love with every ounce of my being to give my life completely to the Air Force and it’s wishes has been more than an adjustment. Continue reading »

Have you heard of MilitaryKidsConnect.org?

 Posted by on February 13, 2012 at 20:48
Feb 132012
 

Have you heard of MilitaryKidsConnect.org?

Dr. Blasko

Dr. Blasko

Military children that experience a deployment of a parent often experience the same amount of stress as the remaining at home caregiver. Even though military children often display strong resiliency skills – recent studies have shown there are increased levels of anxiety that a child experiences when a parent is deployed in addition to being at risk for emotional and behavioral issues at home and at school.

MilitaryKidsConnect.org is a web-based application aimed at improving child and family readiness throughout the deployment cycle. Developed by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, MilitaryKidsConnect.org, enhances the resilience and coping skills of military youth (ages 6-17).

Upon navigating MilitaryKidsConnect.org you will find three tracks based on age (children, tweens, and teens) and two tracks for parent/ caregivers and educators. Features include interactive maps that allow you to show your child where you are going, scrapbooks and message boards, games, inspirational videos about coping with deployment, and instructional vignettes. Continue reading »

Overseas Adventures: The Journey

 Posted by on December 26, 2011 at 09:00
Dec 262011
 

Overseas Adventures: The Journey

Staff Blogger Melissa

Melissa

“We are moving to Okinawa, Japan in October.” That is what my husband proclaimed on a cold, January morning in Northern Virginia. I had recently developed the common PCS “itch.” You know, the one where it feels like you have been in one place for too long. I was ready to move but an overseas move had not even been on my radar.  My first reaction was to shriek with delight like a teenage girl. That feeling was quickly replaced by a “kick in the gut” as reality set in. “We can’t move to Okinawa,” I thought, as a rush of questions and worries streamed through my head.  What about my job? I love my job! What about our families? How are we going to be that far from home? What about our spoiled dog and cat? They can’t fly; it will traumatize them for life.  We have such amazing friends here, we can’t leave them! Can’t we just move to California like everyone else? I had to remind myself that this is a part of our military life, and we go where the military sends us.  Immediately, my “planner” personality took over and I launched into research mode.

I typed “Okinawa, Japan, military” into the search bar on my laptop. The pages were flooded with information, pictures, and videos. I started clicking on anything that looked interesting. The more I clicked, the more excited I got! I saw pictures of a tropical paradise (hello crystal blue waters), videos of both on installation and off installation housing posted by military families (phew…the housing looked nice), and a wealth of information from military family support websites. Excited anticipation started to calm my initial fears. Then I remembered that we had to tell our family, friends, and my boss that we were moving. I have learned that things in the military can change like the direction of the wind, so other than our parents and a few, very close friends, we decided to wait for awhile to make our impending move “Facebook Official.”

I worried a lot about when I should tell folks at my job that I would be moving. I had been with my company for a year and a half, and within the previous six months I had been promoted into a position that I absolutely loved. I was worried about their reaction. I took comfort in the fact that I work with numerous current and retired military spouses who completely understand and relate to the unique military lifestyle. So, when I finally broke the news to my boss, she was thrilled for me! That was such a relief! We even discussed possibilities for me to continue working while I was overseas! I pinched myself because I couldn’t believe that things could be working out so smoothly.

The following months leading up to our move were filled with endless paperwork, medical appointments, more paperwork, logistical planning, and did I mention paperwork? Before I knew it, TMO was at our house packing all of our worldly goods into two shipments: 2,500 pounds bound for Okinawa, and the rest banished to storage for three years. We bid adieu to our wonderful friends at our current duty station. Then packed up our rental car with our four large suitcases, two carryon bags, our dog, and cat and set out on our “Farewell USA tour,” traveling the Eastern third of the United States to visit family. We ended our tour back in Washington, DC to start our trip to the other side of the world with our first flight to Seattle, Washington.

We had read articles about making a PCS move into a mini vacation opportunity, so we decided to stay for an extra night in Seattle.  The past few weeks had felt like a whirlwind, and it felt good to relax a little and explore a city that we wouldn’t normally travel to. Plus, the extra day helped us rest up for the loooooooong plane ride to Okinawa. Our military AMC flight started with roll call at zero dark thirty (translation: 3:00 am) on a Thursday morning and ended Friday at 7:15 pm Okinawa time. Factor in the time difference and layovers and we were on the plane for 24 hours straight! All the passengers on our flight, us included, were so thrilled to finally land in Okinawa that we burst into applause when the wheels hit the runway. I was so eager to see our new home country that I gracefully tripped on the last step of the shuttle and landed knees first onto Okinawan soil. I laughingly thought “Welcome to Okinawa,” as I picked myself up off the ground. Hopefully this wasn’t going to be an indication of how our time here would be!

I am so eager to learn everything, see everything, and experience everything that I am already worried that a short thirty-six months isn’t going to be enough time. So hang on tight as I share the excitement, drawbacks,  the challenges, and the memories as we embark on the best perk the military lifestyle has to offer: an adventure living overseas.

All materials copyright Military OneSource, 2012. Blog content held jointly by writer and Military OneSource, with shared rights to republish with appropriate attribution.