Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Military Moving Madness

Nobody rocks a relocation better than a military wife. 

I got to see that firsthand this week, when I spent a half hour chatting with Janet and Emily of the Army Wife Network. We talked about moving (PCSing in Army wife lingo), getting kids adjusted to a new home, and some of the funny and not-so-funny things that happen when you pick up and move your life from one place to another.

Some of their experiences moving for the military were not so different from my civilian moves. We all experienced unpacking garbage cans with the garbage still in them (I forgot to mention the time I unpacked an ashtray with ashes still in it), nuts and bolts for beds going AWOL (As I say in Home Sweet Homes what started out as a bunk bed became just a pile of lumber), and having precious possessions lost and broken. The only difference is, these women have done it a lot more than me.

While we were on the air swapping stories about moving, other team members of the  Army Wife Network were busy hosting a Twitter party and taking Facebook comments on the subject. The Facebook convo centered around “the biggest PCS lesson you’ve learned.”

I had to share some of the lessons these ladies have learned. If you didn't already have an overwhelming pride of our military and their families for the sacrifices they make for the rest of us, you will now.

Tracy: Do you have a game plan for your PCS? Great! Now scrap it bc the Army has their own plans and it will be nothing like yours!

Cindy: Biggest PCS lesson: Don't wait until you have paper orders to start decluttering and packing!

Lori: Make sure the dishwasher is empty. Just sayin’.

Cortney: I’ve learned that it is possible to pack 2500 square feet of stuff in one week. Always stock beer and pizza for movers and anyone who helps load. Always pack the safe in the car. A DITY move may be miserable while doing it but, you can use the money from it to get a massage.

Valerie: Never ever PCS without a spool of 550 cord! It makes an EXCELLENT shower curtain ring set substitute when you arrive in a new home but have no way to hang that shower curtain. Can be used to rig up a mattress when the bed slates are MIA. For a pet leash upon discovering the movers packed those. Or a pet tie out too. For an impromptu clothesline when you had to hand wash a few things and now need to dry. And of course to securely strap down all the 'extra stuff' we seem to wind up with after the moving truck has pulled away and now we need to try to stuff into already overstuffed vehicles!  Yup - 550 cord - a PCSing spouses best friend!

Alice: Never let your husband’s co-workers organize and load the truck. They may be able to fit a years worth of gear into a shoe box but give them an empty 26-foot trailer and it is chaos!

Julie: Getting a bigger U-Haul or two big ones next time. We’re a family of 9, yes 7 kids and have a lot of stuff! One wasn't enough! And to try and keep calm n label things during a pcs move!

Joan: Be very nice to the movers.

Terri: Keep the key to the lock on the moving truck in your pocket - Don't hand it to your spouse or anyone else for that matter. You will have NO idea where it is when you arrive and end up having to get a lock cutter only to find the key shortly after you've just cut the lock off.  Also . . . always take pictures before loading and after unloading. You never know what you might find. We don't smoke but our packers did and must have mistaken our tote for garbage.

Rhonda: To remember what is important. Furniture gets broken, household goods disappear, but those can all be replaced. The important thing to me is, if we are PCSing, we are still all together and healthy, planning our next adventure as a family!

Shalee: Make sure you get a big enough truck!!! Had to leave a lot on the curb and a friend had to bring us a truckload. Better to have too much room then not enough.

Teresa: Don’t be shy. Meet your neighbors. They can help you and you might help them. Whatever you're experiencing, your not the first, or the last.

Stephanie: Remember that once a friend always a friend and a lifelong one at that. You may not chat on the phone all the time but when you PCS cross country and need someone to check out a neighborhood for you as they live/lived there once. Don't hesitate to reach out so that you know what you are getting into. We have all been there once and are more than happy to help out.

Sylvia: Make sure that the 'necessities' are really necessities. We had what we thought were just necessities to take with us which was a small trailer with a microwave and our inflatable beds, etc., so that we could cook while we waited for our goods when we finally moved into our home, but it ended up taking up all the space when we finally figured out how much we really could have let the packers take. We thought keeping a 'few things' wouldn't be so much, but it was! So PURGE, PURGE, PURGE!

Julie: If you feed the movers, and give them dessert, they will do anything for you!

Kim: Any sense of control goes out the window the second orders are stamped.

Montana: Thoroughly check your belongings for creepy crawlies, after they've been in storage! A spider bite on your butt is not a welcoming PCS gift! OUCH!!

Kimberly: Always stay at a hotel with a pool so the kids can get all their energy out after a long day of driving towards the new duty station.

Megan: Always make sure you have a pair of shoes! The packers packed all my shoes last time except one flip flop!

Karen: I learned that I have to pack as early as I can instead of last minute b/c then it'll be too stressful on me.

A big thank-you to all who listened in to the show and all the Army wives who participated in the Twitter party and Facebook chatter. You can listen to the show on  Army Wife Talk Radio anytime.


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Get Ready to Be a Tourist at Home

As soon as I get organized, I’m going to start telling you about my Tourist at Home thing. Right now it’s a thing, because it’s too small to be a movement, and too undeveloped to be a project. My Tourist at Home 30-Day Challenge is going to be a blast, as soon as I can stop having so dang much fun myself to stop and tell you about it. To coordinate other people’s fun, apparently you have to stop gallivanting around town yourself.

The idea is to spend 30 days exploring your city, whether you’re a newbie or a lifelong resident, and discovering all the things that tourists find fascinating. Sometimes, especially if you’ve lived in the same town for many years, you might be even less acquainted with what is around you. There is fun and adventure, history and uniqueness right under your nose. Too often, the only people in on the action are visitors and people who have just moved in.

When we lived in New Jersey, just outside Philadelphia, we must’ve gone into the city to see the Liberty Bell at least eight times, not counting the times we took visitors. My next-door neighbor, Gina, would call out to me as we were filing into the mini-van, “Going to the Liberty Bell again?”


I’d invite her to come along and she’d laugh and go back in the house. Gina was born in South Philadelphia and had lived within a 20-minute drive from Independence Hall her entire life, and she had never seen the Liberty Bell.

“Gina,” I’d tell her, “you realize, don’t you, that school kids from all over the country come here on buses, full of teen BO, spilled juice boxes and tears, just to see the Liberty Bell. Teachers and chaperones risk their lives and sanity to see the Liberty Bell. Hell, even I have to close my eyes and floor it to get into the right lane after I cross the Ben Franklin, just to see the Liberty Bell.”

Gina would look at me with pity and a little derision, laugh and go back into the house.

I was used to teasing for being a “tourist in my own backyard.”  Because we were constantly moving, we saw each new city, in its turn, as an exciting adventure just waiting for us to explore. We would see all the interesting places, start bragging about what a great city we had just moved to, and then the visitors would start arriving. And we’d be in a good position to show them around.

This week our Florida friends came to visit and we did many of the obligatory San Francisco tourist spots. I don’t know who had more fun, our visitors or my husband and I. The giant camera I carry around completes the picture.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll be unleashing my Tourist at Home 30-Day Challenge. So here’s your heads-up: Check out the list and start planning your 30 days of adventure. Post photos on our Facebook page or on Twitter using the hashtag #touristathome. I hope to see photo evidence of your fabulous views, museums, historic sites and monuments. And could someone in South Jersey please go into Philadelphia? I want to see my old friend the Liberty Bell.


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Little Bribery Goes a Long Way

I heard from a super nice Realtor from South Carolina this week and in telling me about her move from Ohio with two - count ‘em two - teenagers, she told me about the bribes.

We’ve all done it, haven’t we? Worrying about the kids is the hardest thing about a move. If it weren’t for them and their precious stability, self-esteem and security we could rock a relocation, am I right? My concern for my kids during our moves had me a nervous wreck, I have to admit. I was more worried about their first day at the new school, specifically the 30 seconds that they walked into the cafeteria with their tray and stood looking for a table, than I was about the neighbor who may or may not have been a registered sex offender.

So . . . bribes? Heck, yes.

Here’s what Cathy, my new South Carolina Realtor friend, said:

“Oh the bribing that occurred . . . We bought iPods and a souped-up golf cart and even a piercing - LOL! Now looking back it’s comical but it was as stressful as it was exciting.”

What? No tattoos?

I wish I had thought of the golf cart. I promised a pool, then a bigger, better, in-ground pool, both on which I made good. Those were followed by a trampoline and a treehouse, which I backed out on. The trampoline is still brought up by my daughter 14 years later as a sign of my deceptive parenting. The treehouse I had to nix because, while we had a beautiful wooded lot behind our house in New Jersey, that lot was inhabited by black bears, which I was told could climb trees better than a monkey or two middle-school kids hanging out in their cool treehouse.

Giving your child a golf cart or a tree-death-house to soothe the sting of a move is perfectly acceptable. I’m not even sure it counts as a bribe, by definition. It’s more of a prize. Or a reward. Or a get-well-soon gift.

What you’re really doing is saying, “I know this move is going to be hard for you. But there’s a bright side to every life event. In this case, if you weren’t moving, you’d never get this brand new iPhone5!” And they’ll get the unspoken rest of the sentence:  “. . . which you’ll get if you stay positive and don’t whine too much.”

What you want to be careful of, however, is to keep it in the bribe column and out of the blackmail category. I’ve had some tough moves, but I’m proud to say I never threatened to show my kids’ friends their toddler naked bathtub photos if they didn’t help me pack.

Have you ever resorted to outright bribery to get your kids to be happy about a move? Or are you too ashamed to go public with it? Come on! Spill it!


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.