August 31, 2011

What the Heck is Sleep?

It's my turn to get up with the kids this morning. My husband and I take turns getting up on the weekends or when he's on leave so that the other person can sleep in. I'm tired. No, I'm exhausted. We've been traveling for almost a month, living out of our suitcases, and the kids haven't had a normal or structured bed time for that long. To and from Toronto, back to the midwest, to and from my parents house. . . And it's beginning to show.

Our son now refuses to sleep alone, getting up at least 5 times a night to remind us of that fact. The baby randomly wakes at all hours of the night which of course wakes me. I've taken to just letting her fuss and usually she'll cry herself back to sleep within a few minutes. Sometimes.

While I sit here sipping my (elixar of life) coffee, I'm really starting to wonder about this time change business and the effects of jet-lag on my kids. The last time I dealt with a significant time change was when I went to the UK for a summer when I was 17. But that was only 6 or so hours difference. Moving to Okinawa means changing our days and nights around completely. Please explain to me how to do that with a 13 month old. Dear God, I shudder at the thought.

I guess I better saddle up for  few more weeks with out sleep. Not a cheerful prospect since I become the Incredible Hulk - without the incredible strength, when I've had fewer than 6 hours of sleep in a night. However I must remind myself  that I am the adult. I do not have the luxury of a temper tantrum when I'm feeling down and out. (Something I truly envy of our son) I have to be the one to put out the fires.

In 4 days we'll find out for ourselves. . . 

August 30, 2011

If You Want It, Bring It!

The best piece of advice I've gotten from friends who are already settled into life on Okinawa is that if you know you're going to want it, bring it with you.

I'm not exactly sure what this applies to specifically. Furniture? Electronics? Clothes? But that one sentence has been an incessant, tiny voice echoing in the depths of my brain every. single. time. we go to the store. Any store. It's like a last desperate attempt to hold onto American life. One friend I have is currently here in the states visiting her family and was super duper excited to go shop at Walmart. . .

I do a double gulp because clearly the ease and convenience of the one-stop-shop is going to be a thing of the past. Need a cheap end table fast? Too bad! Maybe some bathroom storage, and some groceries on the same day? Nope, that'll require at least 2 stops - commissary and PX.

The only thing that gives me pause to filling cart after cart with stuff I think we might probably need or want, is that we have to fit it in our suitcases. Clearly we have limited space since all of our household goods, and unaccompanied baggage are already on their way.

How about some rain boots, umbrellas, and slickers? No. Can't fit it. I've packed and repacked our suitcases at least 5 times apiece. We'll have what we have, and we'll just have to deal with the rest. However I take comfort in the fact that if we really, really, REALLY need something our families would be happy to pay an arm or a leg to get it to us.

In the mean time I am just making sure we have all of our passports, and carry on items in order. Sunday is coming up quick.

August 29, 2011


"Umm, where do you plan on putting that?" I asked my husband. We were in the process of simultaneously packing the car, emptying and cleaning out our rental house, and having the place inspected by our landlord. There is more stuff than space in our Toyota Camry, and we still have to strap the kids into their car seats. 

"Oh it'll fit in the trunk!" He replies with a grin. Great. I know exactly what that means. Our trunk is going to literally explode upon opening. Our vehicle is packed to the brim with stuff. There is stuff at my feet, the kids feet, between the kids, and we have a car top carrier - also full.

My husband is cramming as much of our beloved crap as will fit into our overstuffed trunk. And it won't close. So he jumps on it. . . SCORE. It closes. Not to be reopened until we arrive at our destination, my husband's parent's house, and then PLOOIE! As the one used to explosions, he's dealing with it, not me.

So we hop into our sardine-can car and head out of Fayetteville on our 18 hour trip.

The relief I feel to finally begin our much anticipated journey to Japan is palpable. We've been waiting to get to this place for so long. I'm happier than I've been in months. A lot of my friends from back home ask me how I can stand to move around so much, and honestly now that I've adapted to the lifestyle, I get itchy to move after a few years.

As I've said before, this move is not like any of the others. One week from today and we will be on a plane over the Pacific, well on our way. It's incredibly hard to believe that it's really here.

We spent some time at my parent's house where I grew up, and I insisted that we do all of my favorite summer activities (excluding a few things) like going to the farmer's market, listening to live music by the lake, eating sweet corn and cheese curds, and basically soaking up all the things I will miss the most.

It's incredible how quickly the time I want to savor the most zooms by in the blink of an eye. As we finished our week in my home town and pulled away from my parents house, I realized how much I want to stay, but how much I need to go. In essence its like I lead a double life. The life I have back home, I have family, friends, familiarity. . . I have a life there. I am myself there. But then there is the other side of me. The woman who knows that despite the fact that my husband will be gone half the time we are in Japan, I will live there. I am excited to experience what is coming my way. I have my fears and doubts but they won't stop me from doing what I do. Building a home, and a life for my husband and my children alone, building a new family made up of other military wives and children so we can support each other in the face of having nothing and no one familiar nearby.

The two sides of me continue to be shocked and amazed by each other. One drawing strength, and the other making a home as much like the one I leave behind as it can be. Time is not on my side. The midwestern country girl is sad to say goodbye, the military wife couldn't be happier.

August 15, 2011

It's PCS Time-God Give Me Strength.

It's been a while since I've written because so much has happened.

First of all, we FINALLY got our orders for Okinawa. Due the nature of my husband's training, they would not give us orders until he had officially completed all of his training. Now that it is done, we received our orders. It's really real! We are going to Japan.

Secondly, we've been dealing with nothing but hick-ups and setbacks during this whole entire process. Let's just say that it has been a learning experience for all of us. We've been misinformed which delayed our paperwork. Transportation never sent off our contract to the movers to get our household goods picked up. We got our storage, and our unaccompanied baggage taken, but NO household goods. Talk about frustrating.  So last week we packed our stuff, organized what was left into the proper shipments, and waited. For nothing. So instead of sitting around Fayetteville, we took off to see our nephew perform as "Billy" in Billy Elliot up in Toronto, a much needed get-away. But now it's back to reality.

Plus our rental company (First Class Property Management) is awful. For anyone moving to the Fort Bragg area, I would not recommend that you use them. They do not treat you well at all. I will not go into the details since the purpose of my blog is not to do that, but I will say that if you use First Class, you will be sorry.

Moving right along. . . Finally our movers came and packed up the remainder of our items and took them today. The kids and I sat isolated from the mess and the madness in our one small upstairs room with all of our stuff that is coming in our suitcases. God bless computers and video streaming, but it will be an interesting experience sleeping on the floor tonight.

Also, we learned a few things while we were in Canada. We still get netflix, but we get the international version. That means that most of the American tv shows I've saved probably won't stream in Japan. Second, my friend Tracy was right. You can't watch American shows via the network website while overseas due to copy write laws. Boo.

Another little detail that is gumming up the works, is that apparently the Army will not fly us from our "leave location" to Okinawa. Despite the fact that we are going home to spend a couple of weeks with our families before we move to the other side of the planet, and it would probably be cheaper for the Army to fly us from, oh, Chicago, rather than Fayetteville, so we either have to call the airline directly and change it ourselves (for a fee of course) or figure out how to get ourselves and all of our stuff back here.

In addition to that, our current itinerary goes from Fayetteville, to Raleigh/Durham, to Washington Dulles, to Tokyo, to Okinawa. Great. Just great. THAT sounds like a ROCKIN' good time with two small children. Wouldn't it just be easier to do it our way??

So in conclusion-I hate using that but in the face of this whole debacle, it seems appropriate. My husband, children, and I are going to be sleeping on air mattresses, ordering pizza, and my husband and I will drink cheap wine. We still have to clean our place, ya know, wipe down floors, pray we get our security deposit back, etc, and then we are outta here. Iowa or bust.