July 4, 2011

What in the Blazes of Craziness

My wonderful husband finally returned home last weekend, and finally graduated from his course. After two years plus, of planning, preparing, researching, and waiting (the Army's favorite thing to make wives and families do), it is finally here. We are in the final stages of our preparations to PCS to Okinawa.

I recall our first PCS from Fort Stewart to Fort Benning 2 summers ago with startling clarity. The movers came, they packed, we moved. End of story. This is NOTHING like that. Certainly the movers will come into our home and "lovingly" pack our items for shipment across the Pacific, but it's the things that come before that part that have us running in circles. Which we expected.

Our To-Do list is 17 items long and includes things like making sure the kids and I have physicals completed, getting Government passports which function sort of like our green card, termination of our lease, termination of our utilities, holding/forwarding our mail, obtaining a P.O. box on Okinawa, etc. Most of our conversations pertaining to our move have taken place while we are driving, and go something like this;

him: Babe we have to make sure that we (insert task here). Ok?
me: Ok. I think we should also make sure that we (insert more efficient way of doing said task here).
him: Ummm, (insert his rebuttal on the validity of my idea here)
me: Fine, whatever. *sigh*

In the mean time, I've been sitting up at night searching the internet for information that can help me get this move done, and making lists. I have lists for what to pack in my carry on. What to pack in the kids' carry ons. What to pack in our suit cases. What goes to storage. . . I have a list of which lists I've made!! Ok, maybe not that bad. . . So yesterday as we were in our car headed back from Lowe's with our clean-and-repair-the-house supplies, we had yet another PCSing conversation.

him: We need to sit down this afternoon and make a list of all the stuff that needs to get done.
me: Done. I already HAVE a list of stuff that needs to get done.
him: Oh. Well, can you put (insert task here) on the list.
me: Sure thing. I will add it when we get home.
him: Can you also put (insert 200 more tasks here) on there?
me: *brief pause* You're right. We need to sit down and make a list.

At this point we are both equally informed on what actually needs to happen to get our family and our stuff overseas. We're just informed on different areas of expertise so to speak. So we sat down and made a list, which really consisted of me rewriting my list, and then following him around the house while he made tiny repairs and quizzed, questioned, and badgered to get the info out of him. I know that inevitably our fresh, crisp to-do list will wind up crumpled, and ragged or lost, but it's alright as long as we get it all done. And in time, I suppose we shall.


  1. Hi, my name is Kristin, I know this was written almost a year ago, but I'm hoping that you have PCSed successfully and if you have any advice on what to pack for traveling. We will be stationed on Kadena AB and will be there this November. This is my first PCS as a spouse(I used to be in the Army) and we have a two year old. I'm also concerned about medical records. Did you just inform whatever clinic you go to for dental check ups and your PCM and give them your forwarding base? Or did you take your medical records with you? I hope I can reach you! lol Any advice on packing would be great, I have no idea what to expect, and I know for sure I will get there and WISH I would have packed something I didn't. I've got passports and everything else pretty much figured out, packing is so stressful for me because I want to just bring everything. How far in advance can my son and I have our physicals done? Aren't they usually good for a year? Hope to hear back from you!!

    1. Hi Kristin! Yes, we've PCS'd successfully! As far as packing. . . we brought pretty much everything, stored the rest, and I wish we hadn't. We had weight restrictions and now face the fact that we can't bring much back unless we sell or get rid of a bunch of stuff, which we WILL be doing before we PCS back to the US.

      Things I know I couldn't have lived without include our beds, our furniture, and our kitchen items. We live in remodeled base housing and we have tons of kitchen storage. Bring your linens, towels, etc. As for things we shouldn't have brought. . . a lot of our books should have gone to storage, a lot of our DVD's etc. DO bring your lawn care equipment if you have any. You are responsible for your own lawn in base housing. If not you can always hire someone. Also, unless you are planning on going back to the US for the holidays every year, I would bring any holiday decorations. They do have them here at the BX but the sell out FAST. My best advice is to get rid of any excess. If I could do it all over again, we would probably sell most of the things we put into storage.

      Medical records. We hand carried ours and gave them to med records at our clinic. MAKE SURE your immunization records are included. Our previous post made a mistake and did not include our shot records, so we have to wait upwards of a month for that request to go through and get them here from the states. Same goes for dental. Hand carried those as well. Also, you'll need physicals from your PCM, make sure all shots are updated. Then you need to go to EFMP and schedule an interview with them. You'll talk about you, and your children. Make sure the paperwork is filled out for that as well. You do not have to bring your child to that part. You have to do that before your husband can officially get his orders. EFMP sends their evaluation over to whomever, and then the cut orders.

      For the flights - ohdeargod the flights - First and foremost, plan on a lengthy and tiring travel time. By the time my family arrived in Tokyo, we were spent, and we still had another flight, and a drive to lodging to go. Here is what I would pack in our carry ons if I knew then what I know now: Reading material, lots of good snacks because the plane food is awful, toiletries such as toothbrush and toothpaste, a light change of clothes for each person (just in case), a comfy blanket or two, tylenol or ibuprofen for adults and children, PLENTY of wet wipes to go around, plenty of diapers, entertainment for children, laptop/tablet & their power cords, small thing of lotion, lip balm, ear plugs, anti nausea meds if you have a sensitive tummy, sippy cup or other drinking cup for your child, plenty of yen-in cash, and lots of patience!

      Good luck! If you need anything other advice or info, please let me know!

  2. Oh my goodness! You are so awesome! These are the big ones for me that stress me out. Everything that occurs before the flight. I'm dreading the lengthy flight itself. One more thing, luggage wise, is there anything important that I should pack in my luggage, besides the obvious, that you think I would want to have while waiting on HHG to arrive?

  3. You will have two separate shipments when they come get your stuff. The first one is unaccompanied baggage which I think is allotted only a couple hundred pounds. Then you'll have your regular HHG which is everything else. If your child still sleeps in a crib, they WILL take that in unaccompanied, as well as a highchair, but no other furniture. Your unaccompanied baggage should arrive on Okinawa before or around the same time you do. They ship it by air. Your HHG go on a ship and sail which takes much longer. If memory serves about 6-8 weeks.

    You should be able to schedule delivery of your unaccompanied baggage once you get your house. I would recommend calling for delivery of those items as soon as you sign your housing paperwork, and know your move in date. We had ours delivered the day we moved in.

    Our unaccompanied baggage included our bed sheets and comforters, our bath towels, the bare essential cooking and kitchen items like a few knives, forks, cups, plates, and a few pots and pans, and cooking utensils. We also put some of our kid's toys into unaccompanied baggage so they had stuff to play with in the house. Our small tv went in unaccompanied, as well as a phone so we could set up our cable, internet, and vonage asap. I just thought about what I would need to run a normal home and life for my family while we waited for the rest of our stuff.

    In our luggage that we checked in with at the airport, we just packed our clothes, shoes, nonessential toiletries, etc. We each had a large suitcase full of our own clothes and things. I also hand carried-in my carry on-my valuable jewelry, and other small sentimental items that could not be replaced. I would recommend very discrete packaging for anything like that. Nothing that screams JEWELRY!!! My kids also had a few of their favorite toys in their suitcases too. You may be in lodging for a while before you get a house. Though you can also live off base right now. Not sure if that will be the case in Nov. though. We were in lodging about 12 days before we were able to move into our house.

  4. Thank you so much, you have been so helpful! Thank you for taking time out to explain everything! I'm so excited to get there.

    1. You are more than welcome! Moving to Okinawa was my first oconus pcs too. It can be confusing and overwhelming especially if you don't know what to expect. If you need anything else please do not hesitate to ask!