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May 25, 2011

The Movers Are Here!!

Ok, well that's not entirely true. The packers are here, but saying it's the movers sounds so much more fun! Our unaccompanied baggage was picked up yesterday and today we've got the packers here packing away our things! And, not to toot my own horn, but the ladies packing us said that this is the most organized home they've ever had the pleasure of packing! For real!! I guess the pound of jelly beans and cold bottles of water I've got out for them makes for happy packers. So, TOOT-TOOT! :)

With all that being said, I still hate this part of the moving process. I don't like strangers touching my things and I don't like hovering over them trying to make small talk. And yes, you must hover...in a non-threatening way. You tend to become a professional at it over the years. I've been through 3...now 4...moves with the military in D's 3 short years of service so I've upgraded from rookie to seasoned veteran quite quickly. 

Tomorrow, the movers, the big guys, will be here to load all the boxes and our furniture into crates to be shipped overseas on a big boat. Dear Lord, if you're still listening to me pray about all things Germany, please, PLEASE, don't let this ship sink in the middle of the Atlantic with all of our precious things! I know they are all material things that can be replaced, but I don't want the stress. 

We will still have one more round of movers coming for storage items next Tuesday...but after that, we're done with the movers! WHOO HOO! Then we will be having a nice 6 day stay in TLF here on base till D gets done with work and outprocessing. Believe it or not, I am kind of looking forward to this little hotel stay. I love staying in hotels, no matter where they are, as long as it is for a pre-determined amount of time. Even though I am excited about this little hotel stay, I'm not too keen on the one we will have to endure when we arrive in Germany. I have no idea what to expect there, be it time frame or living conditions. So, we will just have to wait and see! You know I'll be posting all about it. 

After the outprocessing is done, we will head home to NC for 2 weeks of family fun and relaxation. We will still have one more car to sell when we get there, but I'm not too worried about that. Anywho, back to monitoring the move! Keep checking back for more moving updates! And, keep those prayers coming!

May 20, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

It's been a few weeks since I've participated, so I thought I'd better get back into it!

1. What is one of the things you always do special when your husband returns from a deployment?  submitted by Keep Calm and Soldier On
-Well, we've only survived through one deployment so far (thankfully!), but before the hubs got home, I made sure the fridge was stocked with his favorite foods/beer and I planned a surprise weekend getaway to Asheville, NC just to have some alone time in the mountains! It was perfect, all except the food poisoning I acquired on day 2 of our trip. Ugh. Such is life. :)

2. What do you do to help your spouse and/or yourself re-adjust after a deployment or long separation?  submitted by Diapers, Dogs and Deployments
-While the hubs was deployed, I had the headache pleasure of moving into a new home all by myself, so when D got home, he had to learn his way around the new place. I had to show him where I put all of his stuff and even then, he couldn't remember where things were. It was kind of hilarious at some points. I was cleaning the bathroom and D was walking around the bedroom with a blank stare on his face. I asked him if he was lost and he said, "Yeah, like last year's Easter egg!" So funny.

3. Are you a crazy coupon clipper (I’m becoming one, so share your secrets with me)?  submitted by Married My Airma
-Not as crazy as I'd like to be. I use coupons in almost every shopping trip, whether it's for groceries or for clothing. I try to never buy things  (especially clothes and accessories) at full price if I can help it. It may not always come in the form of a coupon, but I'm always looking out for sales! I sign up for emails with all of my favorite stores to get their weekly coupons and sales updates. Sometimes I even sign my hubby up to get double the savings!

4. What’s your most treasured memory of you and your spouse (not counting your wedding – that’s a given)? submitted by Scrubs, ACUs and One Crazy Rid
-Oooo, that's a hard one. I'm going to bow out an say every moment is a treasured moment when I'm with him. There are so many times when we aren't together (not out of our own free will) so every second I get to spend with him is one to remember. Although, right before he deployed last July, I felt the closest to him that I've ever felt. It's true what they say about hardships bringing people closer together. 

5. If you could live anywhere overseas, what would you pick and why? submitted by Little Moments Like This
-Funny you should ask....because we're moving to Germany in 5 short weeks! It was our #1 pick on the dream sheet and we got it! We've always wanted to live in Europe and what better way to do it than through the military! We've truly been blessed.

May 19, 2011

Full Speed Ahead!

Time for my weekly Germany update! Aren't you excited?!

{D and I at Busch Gardens in a "German" store a few weekends ago. Do we look German yet? :)}
Things are really moving along now! Last Friday morning, we FINALLY met with TMO and officially put in our request for specific moving days. The lady we met with seemed on edge and slightly annoyed that we needed the movers to come earlier than the 3 week notice that they usually require. Tough cookies, lady. If we had gotten our orders in a timely manner, we wouldn't be here begging for moving days only 2 weeks out...but I digress. D and I left that meeting feeling even more nervous that we were going to have to totally change our attack plan. It's funny, you seem to only have a "Plan A". There is always a "Plan B" in theory, but no one ever actually plans out what plan B would be. You just pray to God it never has to go there...and that's exactly what we were doing.

Thankfully, literally 4 hours after we left the ominous meeting, we got a phone call from the first moving company confirming our dates for packing and moving our Household Goods! YAY! For all you non-military readers, this is only one of the three (yes, THREE!) sets of movers we will encounter for our move to Germany. The household goods shipment is basically all of our big stuff...furniture, clothes, home decor, grill...it's the largest shipment and takes the longest (up to 60 days as of now) to arrive in Germany. The second shipment will be our Unaccompanied Baggage. This shipment is usually picked up before the household goods shipment and is full of stuff that we will need right after our hotel stay in Germany. It will contain towels, pillows, sheets, a few kitchen items like plates, silverware, cups, a few pots/pans, any summer clothing we couldn't fit in our suitcases, a small TV, and DVDs...anything that we might need to get by until our household goods stuff arrives. The last set of movers will be for storage....things we know we can't take or don't have room for in Germany will get stored here in VA until we return to the states 3 years from now. That will include our washer and dryer, small household appliances that aren't dual voltage, our lawnmower, vacuum, miscellaneous holiday decor and stuff we've had stored in the basement and never seem to pull out of boxes. 

Shortly after we got that first call confirming the dates of our household goods move, we got calls for the other 2 moves! TRIPLE YAY! We got all the dates we had requested and everything is on schedule. Yet another prayer answered! Praise the Lord! So, there you have it. All of these lovely people will be knocking at our door at various times throughout next week, starting Tuesday! 

One of the great things about moving with the military is that they pack everything for you. Yep, I basically can't pre-pack anything...if I do, they'll just unpack it and re-pack it when they get here. All D and I have to do is take things off the wall, remove curtains/curtain rods, and unplug everything from the wall. I also go a bit further and organize piles to make the moving process go a little faster. The rest will be taken care of! As nice as that is...it's also pretty nerve wracking having strangers in your home (all day, for at least 4 days) touching your stuff. I hate that part. True, the whole "ya break it, ya bought it" thing comes into play, but still...it's no fun. You spend the entire day hovering over the movers making sure they are handling everything with care and trying to make small talk so it won't look like you are watching their every move (even though you totally are!). This process, although it may seem relaxing to not have to pack things yourself, is super uncomfortable and stressful. Not to mention, I just did this whole moving thing 8 months ago completely on my own (thanks honey!...grrr). I will be looking forward to the end of next week with a passion!

{What life will look like for us next week. Awesome, right?}
So, as of now, we've got movers scheduled, utilities like cable and internet ready to be shut off, TLF (temporary living facility or on base hotel as I Iike to call it) booked for 5 nights after we've moved out of the house, finally got my no-fee passport in (another answered prayer!), and our official port call date confirmed!!! We finally know what day, time, and where we will be flying out of to Germany! And let me tell you...we are going to be exhausted when we get there...9 hour flight starting in the wee (I mean very wee) hours of the morning. Jet lag is going to be horrible.

D still has some out processing things to complete, but it's the easy, non-time sensitive stuff. After our 5 day stay in TLF, we will have a full 15 days back home in NC to spend time with our family and friends before we fly out. I am especially looking forward to that! For now, we are busy busy and SUPER excited about the things to come! Continue to keep us in your prayers for a smooth move and that neither D nor I kill one another in the process! 

{A photo I sent D during my solo move 8 months ago. Thumbs up! It will get done!}
Onward and upward we go!

May 17, 2011

Air Show Weekend!

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of having my parents and my little sister spend 3 full days in VA with us! It was great to have them up for another visit...sadly to be the last time they'll be in VA and they were out last visitors in our lovely house. Bittersweet, but exciting! One of the main reasons they came for a visit was because of the fabulous Air Show being held on base! The base had one the first year we were stationed here, but last year it got pulled for money reasons. I guess the economy was still not doing any better and the Air Force didn't want to ruffle any feathers by burning taxpayers dollars in the form of jet fuel. As sad as it was, I totally understood. I'm just happy they decided to bring it back this year...appropriately enough, our last month in VA. We had a wonderful time and saw lots of amazing aircraft. My dad was in heaven! He loves this kind of stuff and had never been to an air show before. Made me happy to share it with him. 

We ate corn dogs, visited vendors, and got a little sunburned. Ok, alot sunburned!! It was overcast most of the day and we all totally skipped the sunscreen. Stupid us...we knew better. Now, D has nice raccoon eyes from his sunglasses. He caught a little flack from the guys at work yesterday. Kind of funny, actually. Anyway, on to the pictures...there's lots of them!

Our happy little Air Force family...minus Tucker dog.

All female parachuting team! Go girls!

The cutest and coolest trick helicopter I've ever seen. His name is Otto!

Otto with his yo-yo!

Otto showing his skills maneuvering around a traffic cone.

The F-22's are grounded due to a mechanical recall. I was super disappointed my Dad didn't get to see them fly in person. They are AWESOME!

My happy Dad

Me and my "twin"

The Thunderbirds!

Army Parachute Team

D and his yummy strawberry lemonade!

You can tell Wendy isn't used to hearing planes flying around all day. TOO LOUD! It's the sound of freedom!

The GEICO Skytypers

So cool! Makes me proud to be an American...and proud to be a MilSpouse!

Dinner at Joe's after the Air Show. We were pooped and burnt...but had a wonderful day together!

May 10, 2011

One Car Down and One To Go!

I guess I should have asked someone to pinch me a few weeks ago because sometimes it's hard to believe we really are moving to Germany. Even with all the appointments, paperwork, and running around on base, it hadn't hit me yet. Sure, there had been numerous times where I have sat alone and thought of how much my life is going to change in the next month, but the gravity of what is actually about to take place didn't hit me until last night...when we sold my car.

D and I had been contemplating since day one whether or not we should take our Nissan Murano with us to Germany. We'd heard the roads and parking spaces are a bit smaller, but we'd also heard that people bring mini vans and pick-up trucks and do just fine. So, we have been on the fence about selling it or taking it for a while now. My beautiful, shiny Pearl (that's her name, mind you) is just barely 2 years old and was a present to myself back in 2009 when I got my first "big girl" job fresh out of college. She was a bit of an impulse buy seeing as we randomly went to the dealership just to look and walked out of there 4 hours later with the first (and only) car I test drove. When you know, you just know, right? It was like my wedding dress...I knew what I wanted when I walked in and fell in love with the first thing I tried on. Pearl had everything...she was fully loaded, leather clad, and drove like a dream. She helped D and I survive driving through the worst snow storm of our lives two Christmases ago and then again last winter. She's hauled things for moves, yard sales, and family vacations. She even protected me through my first fender bender (totally not my fault...I was rear-ended at a stop light). I couldn't have asked for a better car. 

So, then came the decision to take or sell her. We had been praying about it for weeks. This decision was to be one of the biggest ones yet and had been a major source of worry for us both. We had heard horror stories about other families who didn't own their car outright and the lender refused to release the car to be shipped overseas and those families were stuck storing a car for 3+ years and still paying for it. That situation scared the crap out of me. I also didn't like the idea of possibly having trouble driving or parking in certain areas of Europe just because I had a larger vehicle. Too much travel stress and traveling is supposed to be fun! After praying and contemplating over this for weeks, D and I decided we'd take it to CarMax and see what they would give us for it. If they weren't going to give us what we owe on it...or within $500 (because that was all we were willing to fork out) then we'd just take her with us. If they gave us exactly what we owe or more, the decision would be easy...SOLD!

I just knew we weren't going to get back what we owed. I had a sinking feeling we were going to be low balled and we'd both leave discouraged. We kept putting off making the visit to CarMax because we were afraid of what they were going to say. The car is in excellent condition with low mileage, so why wouldn't they give us a great price? I tried to keep a positive outlook by repeating that to myself. Finally, after church on Sunday (we planned it that way...I figured going after church would calm my nerves) we dove Pearl to CarMax and got her appraised. We sat there for what seemed like years waiting for the appraiser to finish. When she came back inside to her little cubicle we were sitting in, she asked if we were ready to see the number. I had a huge lump in my throat. It all came down to this number. If it was large enough, Pearl would be gone and we will have just made the biggest step yet in our moving preparations.

It was like waiting for the test grade that you weren't sure you did well on or not. You want to know, but you don't want to look. You kind of peek through your fingers as you click the mouse on the computer screen until the grade pops up. You take a deep breath and finally look.

I almost died.

They gave us almost exactly what we owed on the car!!!!!!! Within $100. I was speechless. D and both looked at one another with complete disbelief. We were going to sell the Murano. The appraiser asked how that number sounded and I looked at her and said, "I'm so happy, I'm about to cry!" She laughed and said that she was happy for us and glad it was what we both wanted. She then handed us the approved offer and told us we had 7 days to bring the car back and accept it. She shook our hands, wished us the best of luck in Germany, and out the door we floated. I say floated because it was obvious D and I were both on cloud 9!

Last night, we drove back to CarMax and sold Pearl. Driving her for the last time was bittersweet. I got a little choked up in the office as they were peeling the DOD sticker off of her. I mean, did they have to do that right in front of me?!?! Gosh! I know it's crazy to get all worked up over a car...but it's what the car represents in our life right now. I got her just as we were getting settled into the crazy Virginia chapter of our lives, and now I'm selling her as we prepare for the exciting Germany chapter. If you had told me a year ago that I'd be selling parts of my life to prepare for a great European adventure, I would have laughed at you. It's crazy where time and life will take you. Completely bittersweet.

On another exciting note...D FINALLY GOT HIS ORDERS!!!! Same day as we sold Pearl....I'd say she had something to do with it. ;) We've got a meeting with TMO this week and we can now move on with the next leg of planning. PRAISE THE LORD! It's all in His perfect timing. I should know better than to worry. We've still got D's car to sell, but that won't happen till we go on leave the beginning of June. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as this transition becomes more real. I pray that God will continue to prepare our hearts and minds (and those of our family and friends) for this big change. We are very excited, but still have lots to do!

It's all finally hitting me now...and there's no turning back.

May 4, 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday and Another Germany Update!

I wish I was back in Mexico with the hubs doing this. So much more fun and relaxing than life these days.

Now for a little update on our progress (or lack thereof) on the big move to Germany. Remember in a previous post I alluded to my fear that Murphy's Law was sure to set in soon because things for this PCS were going too smoothly? Well, I totally called it. When it rains, it pours! We literally have been waiting 3 weeks for Force Health to clear D for Germany. It's quite unbelievable how long this has taken. I realize it is peak PCS season, but honestly, when someone tells you something will be ready in a 7 day window and it ends up taking 3 times longer...you start to get a bit frustrated and ready to slap email people. A week ago, we thought we were almost done and ready to submit paperwork to finally get our orders. Then we get an email saying D's records are stuck in Optometry because we need a "note" from his receiving doctor in Germany saying they will continue his PRK eye care there (D got PRK back in February right after he returned from his deployment...it was a big, huge blessing, but we had no idea it would prolong this process.) We both were like "WHAT?!" Neither of us knew where we were going to be resting our heads at night, more or less where we were going to get continued medical care! What makes things worse is that they gave us no direction on how to go about obtaining this continued care form. They weren't even 100% sure what it looked like, they just "knew" they needed it to continue clearing D. 

SO FRUSTRATING!!! Finally, D contacted his eye surgeon and the surgeon contacted his buddy in Germany and got things squared away for D. I am so thankful his doctor (who is a Major, mind you, and shouldn't have to go on a man hunt for a form even HE has never heard of for someone he barely knows from Adam!)...what an incredibly nice and helpful man. He will be getting a Christmas card from us this year! 

Anywho, the infamous continued care form is in and D picked up his packet today to drop off at Outbound so they can start the process of getting our official orders!! (And all the people exclaimed, HALLELUJAH!!) In 3-5 business days, we should have them in our hands, God-willing. After we get them, we've got to high tail it to TMO and set up our pack out dates! I am stressed to the max about this part of the process because with it being prime PCS season, they are requiring a 3 week notice. That 3 week notice, for us, should be turned in by Friday...but that definitely isn't going to happen...and it's totally not our fault. 

We've been talking with TMO, letting them know of our plans and how we might not make their 3 week requirement. They pretty much told us "Yeah, you and every other PCSer this May." Awesome. Not sure what that means for us, but we've GOT to be packed up and out of our house by the end of the month. No if's, and's, or but's about it. Like I said, still not our fault. It's really disheartening to know that even though the military needs you to do this, this, and this to get somewhere by a certain date, they are totally unwilling to help you get it done. Makes absolutely no sense to me. Seriously, if D and I could do it all ourselves and had free rein to obtain forms and files and could sign off on our own everything, I would totally do it! Sadly, we can't, so we need help...for heaven's sake. You made the rules, my dear Air Force. You can't expect us to do things in a timely manner if your men and women can't provide direction and support.

I think I'll get off my soapbox now. I feel better. Thanks for listening.

Meanwhile, D also got a polygraph test done (which he needed for his new job) and said it was the worst experience of his life. So nerve wracking and he hopes he never has to go through that again.We also applied for my no-fee passport which hopefully will be here before we start our en-route leave. They told us it would take up to 7 weeks to get the passport (I already had my travel passport, this is for the SOFA stamp to live in Germany for those who are confused). We had a scheduled appointment to do this well within that 7 week window, but we got rescheduled for an appointment 2 weeks later because the agent decided to go on leave. *Eye roll* Alas, again, not our fault that things aren't being done in a timely manner. I am going to have a positive attitude about this and say it will be here in time. I'm sending out good vibes as we speak!

In attempt to move forward while waiting for the rest of the world to chip in, we checked a few other non-time sensitive things off our list. 

* * * *
In another side note completely unrelated to Germany, in the midst of a rough week of hunting down this continued care form, D got a phone call at work that he wasn't supposed to get. He was informed that his co-worker, dear friend, and mentor had been one of the 8 airmen killed in the Kabul airport shooting. His co-worker was the first person he actually knew and had a relationship with who had died in this war. This hit way too close to home. D's co-worker made the ultimate sacrifice and I will be forever grateful to him and his service to our country. Keep the families of those affected by this random act of violence in your prayers. I can't imagine what they are going through at this moment.

Please continue to pray for our all of our troops, no matter if they are here or at war.... especially with the recent news of Osama Bin Laden's death (which I won't post about because my feelings on this are all over the place). I fear this war is far from over.
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