Monthly Archives: January 2014

Snow Day! Er…Week…?

Well this has been, quite possibly, THE most productive pre-PCS week EVER! I’m talking ‘history-of-the-Navy-world-forever’ here! ūüėÄ

Last weekend was a long weekend (MLK day was Monday), Tuesday we were released early due to the pending storm. Wednesday: Snow Day. Thursday: Snow Day. Friday: ‘Work from home PD Day’. SCORE! ¬†This has been a HUGE boost to my morale and productivity, I have to say. I emptied out my pantry and kitchen (donated all food-stuffs to the UJC Food Pantry) and filled my freezer with Lean Cuisines. (Moving to the Year-round Swimsuit Zone…remember?!) ¬†I moved all ¬†my cake/biscotti baking stuff to the now-empty pantry so that all kitchen related stuff will pack out together. WIN! Since I finished that up, I moved into my art studio, where I have started sorting (toss/donate/pack) stuff out and pre-packing stuff (putting them in bins and bankers boxes, unsealed). The plan for today is to finish that, and move on upstairs… I need to start prepping our Unaccompanied Baggage room.

The UB room, is where I am storing our 1000 permitted pounds of ‘express shipment’ items. These items will pack out on Valentines Day (a full month before our Household Goods (HHG) leave). ¬†UB Items include such things as you would need for that weird little window of time between hotel and getting a new place and waiting for your HHG to arrive. However, thanks to a little foresight– by planning early, I will arrive on Island in mid-April. UB will arrive the day after Ryan (while we are still in the hotel). HHG will actually arrive the following week, and (hopefully!) our new place will be ready to move in on the 1st of May. ¬†Anyhow- so the UB packout should include such stuff as is needed to run your day-to-day at minimum. (Imagine an empty apartment: what is vital until your stuff arrives?) ¬†Ours is going to include an air-mattress & sheets, laundry basket full of beach towels (can also be used as bath towels), shower curtain liner & rings, empty spray bottle (I use natural cleaners- so I can buy vinegar when I get there), ¬†we have a little ‘breakfast nook’ gate-leg table with 2 stools that fit underneath, our toaster /convection oven, food steamer, a picnic basket (with full service for 4: plates, bowls, silverware, acrylic glasses, napkins), a set of go-mugs (insulated w//covers), Keurig & cups, some lunchbox bento-boxes (for leftover food storage in fridge!), a couple rolls of quarters (laundromat), microwavable Corning ware soup-mug/bowls & shallow dishes, a binder of DVD’s (can be watched on our laptops), bikes, first aid kits (human & canine), dog beds, a few dog toys… etc. ¬†I’ve seen lists that include a LOT more, but honestly, it seemed unnecessary. Toiletries can be bought on island. Clothes for immediate use will be in our luggage on our flights (the rest will be with HHG). We are packing what we need for sleep, showering, laundry, basic food prep & eating, the pups, daytime activities (bikes, swim gear), and evening unwind (movies). Really– we don’t need much more than that. I have a feeling we will come in WAY under the 1000 lbs we’re allotted, but that’s okay. ¬†Since we will be living in the hotel until we get our new place (and our HHG are slated to arrive before move in day) I’m not too worried about this.

Tomorrow– I’m meeting w/Chris at Fleet & Family/Relocation to go over ALL the crap in my mighty PCS Binder. He will be able to access the site with me and double check on details of the UB, HHG, packout. He will also be able to help me get more info on a little known thing called Operation Sea Lift… OSL (apparently) is a program that allows spouses to ship their vehicle on a Navy ship out of San Diego (not sure if that’s the only location) to HI (or wherever you are going). From what I understand, you are at the mercy of the ships schedule, but the savings is HUGE. Example: VA to HI @ $5500, could take anywhere from 1-3 mos. CA to HI (private shipper): $2500 typical time is about 2 weeks (**keep in mind, if hubby’s car is going with the Navy from East Coast– you want to cut your rental car time (CO$$$$T) down as much as possible!) Now, from what I’ve been told (*which will all be verified or denied tomorrow..) if I can get my car on board a USN CA-HI ride, it’s less than $500. HMM. So if I pay less to get it to me, that’s money I can use for the rental vehicle until one of our cars arrives! NOW. Being that SeaMonkey is off at a school (and will meet me on island a few days after I arrive)– I’m shipping his car early. As in– @ mid Feb. That’s 2 mos ahead of our arrival. HOPEFULLY- this will get his car on the island just before we arrive or very soon after. Our goal is clearly to minimize our time in a rental vehicle!! Stay tuned. I’ll let you know how all of that pans out…

Once the UB packout is done, I still need to interview and hire a property manager to pimp out my house. :-/ I’m waiting until the UB packout is done, simply because that one room is full of ‘stuff’ waiting to leave. Once it’s gone, I can make it look like a room again– so it will be photo-ready. But yeah… one more thing on the hit list for the next 3 weeks…

Saturday–The Pups.

Oh my sweet puppies… I say puppies, but they will be 5 and 9 at time of move! In the course of moving to a foreign country (or tropical island State… ¬†let’s just say OCONUS) there are customs/quarantine requirements that need to be met. ¬†For Hawaii, that means making sure you have OIE/FAVN blood test submitted (by a vet) NO LESS THAN 120 days before you arrive on island. For us, this was the 1st week of December. Done. I would STRONGLY suggest you get this big-deal test done by a military vet, since they are used to doing them and (as I found out) use the correct colored ink (yeah- THAT is a thing!), and overnight it to the lab. Once the blood work lands in the labs hot little hands, your pup is now “quarantined.” WTH does that mean? Well, nobody ever really tells you… BUT, logically, it means you keep your pups at home and away from other animals from now until you land in HI. Being that we own 2 cocker spaniels that require regular grooming– this worried me. I’m a terrible groomer. I send them both out to the doggy-drycleaners every month. ¬†How we are handling that– is we let our groomer know the situation. Instead of our pups being allowed to play with the other dogs (as they usually do!) they, unfortunately, must be in solitary confinement. The 2 of them are crated right up until grooming, then stuffed back in their crate until I pick them up. This makes me sad. However– it absolutely keeps them within quarantine standard, as they are not exposed to any other animal that may be sick or rabid.

Anyhow. Quarantine. Here’s what I’m learning. If you don’t play by the OIE/FAVN rules, your sweet babies will be in quarantine on island (think animal jail, but on your dime) for the full 120 Days. In that time, you are paying for their daily stay, you must come to feed them, play with them, take care of their needs, and deal with the sad looks on their faces when you leave. All because you weren’t paying attention to the details. PAY ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS!!! Your fuzzies are 100% counting on you to look out for them in the course of this giant mahonkin’ move! (end rant).

Insert–Helpful Link:

So, OIE/FAVN out of the way, you also have to prove your animals are microchipped. (What? They aren’t already? Have you been living under a rock?! Get it DONE!) In our household- both pups got ‘chipped the same day they each got fixed. It’s like a right of passage in our house: Welcome to the family, we’re taking your nuts, but here’s a microchip… ūüėČ ¬†Now- regarding the OIE/FAVN– you will never hear the results of this thing. Seriously. They only call you if there is a problem. However, being a skeptical-neurotic-overprotective dog owner- I questioned this. I got a wild hair across my ass, so to speak, and managed to find the Hawaiian database of approved microchip numbers (also shows earliest date the animal is welcome on the island based on the 120 rule). Pup #1: on the list (sigh of relief) Pup#2: Absent. WHAT?!?!?! ¬†So now I line-by-lined it. All 127 pages…and there, on the last page, 7 up from the bottom was her chip number. Mostly. (cue the jaw drop). MOSTLY? Yup. Somebody on the other end had turned the 4 at the beginning of her number into an A. Not a tough transformation, but one that would have landed my poor pup in the puppy-brig for 4 months! So, cages are being rattled. I’m busting my ass to get this unfucked ASAP. I have a hot date with the military vet who scanned and confirmed her chip (and submitted the paperwork!) on Saturday. They WILL be re-scanning, re-confirming and contacting the main quarantine office in Honolulu via fax with the error and correction. Me? I’ve already contacted the MQO in Honolulu to be sure of what they need… Sigh. Trust NOTHING in this process, nothing but your gut…

You will also need proof of their rabies vaccines that must be more than 90 days apart. This shouldn’t be a problem if you have kept your pups shots up to date. Now, all of this paperwork is pretty daunting. It seems like I know what I’m doing, I THINK I know what I’m doing… but I’m still hiring someone to double check on it all. Yup. I’m hiring a pet mover. ESPECIALLY after that hat-trick with the microchip! That wouldn’t have been discovered until we were on island, and she was being denied entry. NOT COOL. The purpose of the pet mover, is to take care of & follow up on the paperwork (even though I already started it– it’s the peace of mind!) involved in the pre-flight status, the customs and shipping documents, and then the (on island) paperwork at the receiving end of things. I am also paying them to escort my pups through the process, make sure both pups are exercised/cleaned/watered after the flight, and delivered to me at our hotel. Being in a hotel, and after their first flight, I have a feeling the crates will be gross. So- one of the perks I’m paying for is to deliver both pups & their crates CLEAN. Yes, this is worth it to me. 100%.

Anyhow.. that’s enough for now. I need to get back in that studio and keep ‘pre-packing’… ¬†Trash trucks just came, so those cans are empty again! All the better for me to re-fill, as I continue this pack/toss/donate cyle… ūüėČ (*Rule of thumb: If you don’t LOVE it, LEAVE it. )

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Oh IZ…. you sing it, big guy!

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TGIF!… er… sorta….

I say ‘sorta’ because it has come to my attention (bastardly calendar..) I have 3 weekends, including this one, until mid Feb. Mid-Feb. Holy Cannoli…Mid-Feb is the next biggie deadline. 1st biggie was end of Nov: 120 day OIE/FAVN test for the dogs. In the next 3 weeks, I need to get his car RTG (oil changed, inspected, windshield replaced, washed, vacc’ed and delivered to the Port/shipping place) AND our UB (Unaccompanied baggage= express packout: stuff we’ll need ASAP upon arrival). Not HORRIBLE¬† I guess, but a little intimidating on top of still working full time, hanging the art show next week, continuing the household purge, and (shudder) cleaning out the garage. I stumbled on the following cartoon– and oh hell yes. It speaks the truth. He has (his name on) the orders, but I have to follow them. QUICK! Cue IZ singing “Somewhere over the Rainbow!”¬†


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Potential New Digs…

House hunting can be tough. House hunting in an area or place you’ve never been is even tougher. House hunting when you have no place to go back to (you’re fresh off a plane with nowhere to be…!) is quite possibly the most intimidating thing ever… And most exciting. ¬†Since we found out we were going, I’ve been looking at rentals (Privately owned, complexes, base housing…) and found a few things. People love dogs– except to rent to. (Fact: HI is dog friendly, but has very few rental properties that are!) Proximity to base is relative, due to positively insane island traffic– especially near the bases. ¬†So, you re-assess your standard priorities list. For us, it goes in this order: Safe location, dog friendly, comfortably sized, and proximity to base (since he’s the only one with a job to get to, so far!). ¬†Obviously, there are things that are non-negotiable; for us, safety and dog-friendly are those things.

At this point we feel like we’ve narrowed it down to one strong contender. Their 6 minute youtube commercial was a bit hokey (okay, a LOT), but talking to friends on the island- we’re hearing consistently good things about this joint! We’ve spoken to the rental office, and so far every person we’ve spoken to has been very helpful and answered all of our questions. Good signs. For us, the goal was to get the most ‘bang for our buck’ (or BAH). If we go for base housing, we’re close to his work– BUT– we lose our entire BAH to a place that is smaller and no longer covers utilities (previously, this was the dangling carrot for .mil folk). If you (we) go off base, the options open up the further you get from base. However, the rents are still high, utilities are insane, and the thought of the morning commute— well, it makes it obvious why folks live on base.

Us? Well, like I said– we’re eyeballing this place. The Waterfront at Pu’uloa is in a beautiful location (ironically- it used to be military housing!), sizes seem good, pet friendly, and yes, the commute will likely suck. However, if you start each day on the beach and end each day on the beach– can you really complain about where you live? That commute in the middle? Yeah. It’s on a tropical island. We are still living a bucket list… ūüėČ Stressful as the search may be, and the actual logistics of moving– we are still on track for that ‘happily ever after’ and that’s good enough for me.

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Go home widget, you are drunk.

So, it has been brought to my attention (thanks ma..!) that my calendar widget is incorrect. Huh? Yeah. I plunked in my fly-date (April 14) and yet somehow, it’s telling me I have 2 months. 2 months?! Um. Let’s not shortchange me by a single day! I need every second I’ve got! At this point, I DO know that I have less than 60 days until pack-out. Our HHG (household goods) will leave during mid-March. Now, between here and there, is a whole lotta everything that has to happen. Including our UB (unaccompanied baggage- or ‘Express’) pack out. That is supposed to happen about a month ahead if the biggie– so, mid-Feb. as in: 3 weeks from now. Holy #%^^*+%#. So, in the next 3 weeks, aside from work, getting my re-certification stuff squared up, hanging my students citywide exhibit, prepping and shipping the SeaMonkeyMobile, and tossing miscellaneous crap- I need to have our UB RTG. In 3 weeks.

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Can I just say…the website is the most convoluted, irrational and ridiculous¬† typical military website I have ever come across. And of course, it is precisely what I need to rely on to arrange my pack-outs and household goods arrival. Seriously. It is the alpha and omega of the PCS. In the course of a few minutes, I have already managed to be denied access 3 times and locked out of our account. Fan-friggin-tastic, hm? Doesn’t bode well, does it? Mind you, the reason FOR the block: password/log in info is (supposedly) incorrect. So, okay, I can get that. My Sea Monkey has madskills with the password madness. Eleventy- thousand ¬†characters, some combination of Caps, lowers, symbols, Cyrillic, Aramaeic, and a language twins teach each other. I do NOT have those same skills, and indeed, can seldom even copy his p-words correctly. I’m sure I probably DID plunk something in wrong… Highly likely, in fact. So to lock me out for security’s sake, makes sense. I get that. ¬†However– this ‘uber-secure’ website, when trying to log in, (using IE or Firefox only…No Chrome here!.. that should have been my first clue..) tells you to disable your pop-up blocker. SO, what you’re trying to say is ‘turn off your security,’ now log in, but oh damn, wrong password, we don’t think you are secure. Gee, thanks .mil….

I was looking forward to scratching this task (schedule the Unaccompanied Baggage pack out) off my to-do list today. So much for plan A… :/

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Holy Hell, Here we go…

Allright, so Post #1… of who-the-hell-knows-how many…

We have orders. Yup. Super official, typed up in annoying capital letters with side-slash–side-slash spacers ORDERS. Legit stuff. The orders, (despite the annoying font, typeface -call it what you will), size, wording, etc– don’t actually suck. (How’s that you say…!?) One word for you…


In less than 100 days.

Holy Hell.

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