Now that I’ve shared about our trip to Germany, I’m going back in time to talk about our move from the very beginning. Well, not the very beginning (because this post was the very beginning), but the beginning of when everything started falling into place.
We Have Orders!
Drew’s passport photo. I die at his adorable expression.
As I mentioned before, not a whole lot can happen with our move until we have orders in hand. Even though Andy’s unaccompanied orders arrived on my birthday, we couldn’t really get moving until the final, amended orders arrived, permitting Drew and me to accompany him to Germany. Once those orders came in at the end of July, the ball got rolling fast. Within days, we made the long trip down to Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois for our no-fee passports to be submitted, scheduled the packers/movers, gave our official notice to our landlords, etc. etc. [I’m contemplating sharing my Google Doc of everything we had to do for anyone else PCSing OCONUS as I spent quite a few hours browsing for and reading OCONUS PCS checklists to ensure I hadn’t missed anything on my list. Or, even if you’re just curious about what it takes to uproot your entire life and move across the ocean ;)]
Sister Visits + Sentimental Items
Britt + Austin love their favorite (and only) nephew!
At the end of August, my sister Brittany and her husband, Austin, came to visit. Their visit was primarily to pick up our sentimental items. We originally planned to drive it to Kentucky in the early summer and visit our friends/family on that trip, but we couldn’t make the trip due to coronavirus travel restrictions. Instead, Brittany and Austin (and even Austin’s parents, bless them!) took care of storing and unloading the items for us in Kentucky. They even rented a cargo van to make the drive to Iowa! We also gave them all of our baby things since we’re not planning to have a Baby #2 while we’re in Germany. Part of me wondered if that was jinxing ourselves. To quote Michael Scott, “I’m not superstitious, but I’m a little stitious.” Even though their visit was short (a mere 24 hours!), we made time to head up to The Cities to shop at Underground Target and walk around the Mall of America.
All our things heading to KY for the next 3 years!
My sister Brandi and her husband, Aaron, came to visit the following week. Their visit had nothing to do with move prep- just a “we want to see our adorable nephew one more time!” visit- but it was perfectly timed as they were able to take a few items to Kentucky that I had forgotten to give Britt. They, too, had to visit the gloriousness that is Underground Target and explore MoA.
During their visit, Auntie Brandi and Uncle Aaron gifted Drew a UK football onesie.
Unaccompanied Baggage (UB)
A small shipment (less than 800 pounds) to arrive in Germany in mid-October by air. Think essentials that didn’t quite fit in our suitcases, like Drew’s crib, Andy’s work uniforms, winter clothes, etc.
On the first of September, our unaccompanied baggage was picked up. That was quite the cluster of an experience! We naively assumed the UB packers would arrive in the mid-afternoon, as they had told us on the phone the prior day. I decided to work my normal hours for my HR job, thinking I’d have a few hours as a buffer. Instead, they showed up 4 hours early and unannounced…. while I was still working my HR job and on a call with a client (insert cringing emoji here). We had booked a stay at the kennel for Lily, but she was still at home… again, we thought we had a few hours buffer. Thankfully, Lil wasn’t barking because I had quickly slapped her vibrating bark collar on her before she noticed the movers. Their unexpected arrival left me incredibly frazzled. Thank goodness for an understanding supervisor and a husband that could literally drop everything to speed home and help me.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the best experience with our UB packers. They arrived unprepared without markers to label our boxes and had no clue that this was even a military move when they knocked on my door. We had to pause the move to call the Transportation Quality Assurance officer to answer a question about crating our items on-site. I wanted them crated on-site to ensure nothing was lost, but the company said it’s never done that way. Sure enough, the only QA officer for our area (the one person who could answer my question!) was out of the office that day. In the end, the moving company ultimately took our loose cardboard boxes to pack at their warehouse because “if we don’t do it this way, you’ll have to find another contractor to pick up your items on another day.” Needing to get to Germany on a tight timeline, we couldn’t risk delaying our move by seeing if we could get another contractor.
I ended the afternoon by sitting on my couch, drinking wine at 1 pm and binging on When Calls the Heart.
Being a classic Enneagram 1, I was frustrated with myself for how disastrous the UB packout went. Andy and I did an “after-action review” to discuss how we could make our next packout in a few weeks go more smoothly. Some ideas we came up with: blocking out the entire day from work regardless of when the movers expect to show, pre-print labels with our email and phone numbers in case they can’t crate the boxes on-site, better inventory our high-value items, and cross-reference our list with their official list, and do a better job sorting our items before the movers arrive.
Household Goods (HHG)
This is our “main” shipment. Our weight allotment is based on Andy’s military rank, which, for his rank, is 11,000 pounds.
Well, improve upon our previous experience I did! I created a 2-page table itemizing our high-value stuff that lists the item, value, serial numbers, and space for the movers to indicate inventory and box numbers. On my laptop, I created a detailed 30-page Word doc that includes brand, pictures, etc. I even created folders on my laptop of item pictures and receipts labeled to match the item name on the table I provided the movers. Was it over-the-top? Yes. Did I put my Human Resources professional skills to good use? Yes. Did it save my sanity? HECK YES. Upon cross-referencing their list with mine, I discovered they missed approximately 1/3 of our high-value items, but this was remedied thanks to my meticulous list!
A few things to note about our packout that I want to remember: I was sitting outside on the front stoop, watching them load the truck when the movers tried to shove a box into the crate that obviously didn’t fit. It ripped open another cardboard box, and they patched it up with tape like I wasn’t sitting outside and watching it all go down. Oh, and I can’t forget about the supervisor deciding to tell us stories of cargo ships sinking. Not exactly a good thing to tell the people who just packed up all their worldly possessions to go on a cargo ship. Nonetheless, the movers finished in time for Andy and me to enjoy tacos and daiquiris before picking Drew up from daycare, so you could say the day ended on a high note.
Non-Temporary Storage (NTS)
Anything that isn’t going to Germany with us, to be stored by the military for 3 years.
By the time our non-temporary storage (NTS, aka long-term storage) packout date arrived, I was over it all. I left all the photo-taking and coordinating with the movers to Andy. In fact, I didn’t leave my room once during the few hours they were there. Granted, Drew was staying home from daycare that day due to an ear infection, so that I couldn’t leave the room, but, you know.
Well, that’s enough for this post! Stay tuned for the next installment of The Road to Germany.