Posts Tagged With: HHG

Lessons learned, observed or ignored in a Packout…

Yeah, it is exactly as it sounds. I learned a few lessons, observed a few things, and ignored a few more. Unavoidable,  I guess?

One thing I learned– anything you DON’T want packed: hide it. Stuff it in your car if it’s still there! Stuff it in your neighbors car, hide it at your friends house, put it in an emptied out bathroom and tape the door closed like a crime scene! Or… if you are me, be super-uber-vigilant about doing the above, and then forget your ditty bag on the bathroom counter. Only to have it get packed anyway, despite your best efforts. :-/  Another lesson learned, showers, although lovely, are seldom even possible during the packout days if you are doing it solo. (An ugly –and somewhat smelly– truth) The thing is, when you have packers arriving early in the morning, and you are staying up late every night trying to do move-related work– early wakeups for the sake of a shower, just don’t always happen. In fact, sometimes, you greet the packers in your PJ’s, throw a hoodie on top and call it dressed. Or maybe that was just me. 😉 (Highly possible!) 

Observation: for the safety and sanity of your family pets– send them to the groomers for the actual pack out day. Our move consisted of 2 days of packing UP (boxing, wrapping, etc) and one day of packing OUT (actually loading the truck). Do yourselves and your fuzzies a favor, and get them out of the house for actual pack out day. The front door will be wide open, people will be in and out of your house, and that is the PERFECT time for a firghtened or disoriented animal to runaway. Just in time to break your heart if they don’t make it back before you have to roll out of time. So be overly-cautious, it’s all right! Book them a hot date at the groomers or board them at your vet’s for the day. (*REMEMBER: they are supposed to be ‘quarantined’ so no ‘general population’ arrangements! Don’t drop them at a friends!)

Ignored? Let’s be honest. Everything and everyone will tell you to personally observe every item that is packed, every box that is sealed, every sticker inventoried and loaded. I’m just gonna go ahead and give you the reality check: it is IMPOSSIBLE to be in 3 rooms at the same time. And that is how you will get packed up. A team of 3 guys showed up, scattered to different rooms and went to work packing. I knew I wouldn’t be able to be everywhere at one time, so I ‘pre-packed’ a little before hand. Yeah, I know, I know, “But MrsUSN! THEY are supposed to pack you up!” That’s all well and good, but there are certain items I needed to ensure went together, were packed just right, or were packed by me. What I did was buy a bunch of book boxes (the kinds with removable lids). I packed up quite a bit of my personal items, work items,etc and just set the lids on top. The movers, happy to see their job made a little easier, pretty much just taped the boxes closed and loaded them as is.

Now, if you are of delicate sensibilities– stop reading now. Ok, you’ve been warned. For the sake of your dignity, if you have anything you don’t want them to find (AHEM)– get rid of it, or pack it yourself. One of the movers, was QUITE amused to find a triangular ‘Liberator Pillow’ in our bedroom closet… Now, you have to understand– The SeaMonkey and I went through fertility treatments, and all kinds of superhuman efforts to start our family. It never happened, but the (cough-cough) “accessories for the effort” were still present. Part of hte effort involved ‘elevating your hips’– hence the pillow. The Movers of course found it, and got a hell of a laugh out of that… I had to laugh along with them on that one though.. Instead of being subtle, or discreet and wrapping the pillow and labeling it ‘pillow’ or ‘misc’ or some such, they wrote on the paper wrapping in big black letters: LIBERATOR CUSHION!

Sigh. I’m telling ya. Somedays, I just look for the camera crew, because I SWEAR I can hear the laugh track in the background. Life is ridiculous, and PCS moves only highlight that fact. So either toss it, pack it, or hide it really well– or else you may as well pack up your dignity too. 😉 

Other things I would suggest: no matter WHO is packing you up and out, certain items need to be packed by you and on your person (or safely in your carry-on binder or whatever). Jewelry. Contents of safe. Marriage license/certificate. Passports. Birth certificates. Firearms. Paperwork for your home. Don’t let any of these items out of your sight… Also, equally as important: don’t pack any of your cleaning stuff. No, really!! You’re going to need it fi you are leaving your house clean! Also, if you pack it, there is no telling what it will pack WITH. One friend, arrived at her new station, only to find the toilet plunger wrapped in her bathroom towels. FFS…. Buy new stuff when you get where you’re going!!!! Don’t risk that nasty scenario!! UGH!

Final suggestion: 

Our Pack Up began on Wednesday. Thursday they continued packing. Thursday night, I made arrangements to stay (with my pups) at a friends house. Simply because your linens and lamps and whatnot will have been packed by then! Friday morning, I dropped the pups at the groomers, stopped for coffee on the way, and met the movers at the house first thing in the morning. Chaos. As the packers moved our stuff out to the truck, they emptied my house room by room, starting upstairs. As soon as they cleared a room, that was the time to get in there with your cleaning gear and scrub it down! Walls, doors, blinds, windows, baseboards, floors, double check closets, etc. If you work this way (a step behind them) you will leave a sparkling house. It’s worth the effort, especially if you are going to try to rent or sell your home after you leave!



Once the house was clean, HHG was gone, and pups had been picked up– it was time to go. Before you leave, take LOTS of pictures! This is especially important if you will be renting out your home. You want to document the condition you are leaving it in. Big shots of every room, front and back of house, yard, and any appliances you are leaving!! After I left, I made arrangements with a friend to make sure that last load of clean-up trash made it to thr curb on trash day. (Tough to rent a house with loaded trash cans! GROSS!) I crashed at a friends house again that night (desperately in need of a good nights sleep and shower!!). Next morning, got up, had my coffee and hit the road…On my way to Florida for the next few weeks, before continuing on to the cross country part of this Herculean journey.

(Last shot of my convoy, rolling out!)

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I don’t care how old you are. When shit hits the fan, and you feel like you have too much on your shoulders–having your mom swoop in feels like a rescue. Mind you, we may just be spending the next few days drinking wine and throwing stuff out, but somehow– that’s enough. Having another living, breathing, person under the same roof– who has done this before, who understands the stress of an overseas move, and sharing the stress of dad’s illness. It helps. I’m NOT losing my mind (appearances to the contrary). Or at least if I am, I have company along the way. 

Thus far, we have killed a couple cups of coffee, discussed daddy’s treatment plan (as of right now, subject to change–of course), and laughed at my students ‘We’ll miss you’ artwork. ❤  My kids made all these little cards and pictures, featuring lots of little pictures of them and me. I love every one of them… Other things accomplished– my car will be legal (or inspected anyway) today at 4, I received my GLB (Gov’t Bill of Lading, not Gay-Lesbian-Bi! lol!) today for this weeks move, and now have an estimated HHG (Household Goods) delivery date of May 5. Theoretically. We’ll see if that works out… 😉 Anyhow– there’s that. So, today is more of the same: tossing stuff I don’t need/want, packing things I don’t want broken, and making sure my important-keep-my-hands-on-it crap is in my car (not to be trifled with/lost by movers!). Onward through the fog…






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HOW could I have done this…?

Really. HOW? HOW in the world could I have crossed off SO much stuff on my January/February to-do list for this move, if it weren’t for the last 2 weeks of Snow Days?! 😀

Seriously. In the last 2 weeks, I have only been to work twice- and both were half days due to the weather. It’s been A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. With a capital ZING.  In the last 2 weeks, I have managed to firm up our move (Both DD1299 and DD1787 have been submitted and confirmed), set our HHG packout, our UB Packout, double checked and confirmed flight info for me and the 2 pups, confirmed hotel reservation in Honolulu (finding Pet Friendly accommodations means PLAN AHEAD!!! We are using Navy Lodge on Ford Island), visited Fleet & Family for some more ‘heads up’ info (regarding pack out, unpacking, assessing our movers, etc), hired the Pet Mover (FYI: Island Pet Movers), and called San Diego about ‘Opportune Sea Lift’ for my vehicle. After speaking with the gentleman I reached, I decided against using it. OSL is a VERY cheap way of getting your car to the island, BUT (and it’s a big But–heh heh..) there is NO way of knowing when your vehicle will arrive. HUH? Yeah. So, imagine paying $250 to ship your car (such a deal!) but then the car may not show up for 6 mos. How much would a rental vehicle cost you in that interim?? Penny wise-Pound foolish. Scrimping on one end, willl end up costing you more on the other end. So, I’m looking at hiring Pasha (based on reviews I’ve read) to ship my car from San Diego to HI. It will run me about $2100 BUT (another big but! lol) it will be on island within a week. Which means… only a week of a rental vehicle. Since I want to (need to…) find a job on the island, I need my car. So- $2100 it is.  (**reminder: SAVE RECEIPTS!!! What the Navy won’t reimburse, you can claim on your taxes as moving-related expenses!)

Next up on my hitlist: Continue trashing/donating everything that is striking me as clutter or less-than-vital. EVERYTHING.  Scrub my house down and make it look nice, because I have a hot date with a Property Manager on Friday. He’s coming out to have a look at the house, tell me what he can offer me, answer my questions, etc. If all goes well, I may have him on Payroll by the end of the day. Which then means, I have crossed off: Movers, Flights, Pet Movers, HI Accommodations, Vehicle shipping arrangements, and House off my list. Pretty much, anyway… 😉  What still needs to happen of course- is I have to get his car ready to go in the next week or two, and get it gone. I have to have everything ready for the UB Packout on Valentines Day. (*Prior to that is getting both bikes re-conditioned so they are RTG with the UB, so we can ride our bikes in HI while waiting for our HHG to arrive) Whew!

So, there’s that. This is where I’m at. Sitting at the computer, instead of hurricaning through my house and tossing stuff in the trash/donate bags.  This WILL happen today.

But for now? I’m indulging a bit in some procrastination. Today is my one year Cancerversary. I have made it one year cancer free, and honestly? I kinda just want to take it all in and enjoy that simple life-changing fact. 🙂

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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! 😀

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… 😉  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… 😉 (*Rule of thumb: If you don’t LOVE it, LEAVE it. )

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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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