Sunday, October 30, 2011

TBMAC - "Home Is...

So way back when we came out to California for house-hunting, we signed a lease on an almost-perfect home in the off-base military housing.  It wasn't quite our 1st choice, but after taking a look at the location and lay-out we were happy with it and signed a lease.  It was where the Navy sent us.  Then, on the night before our packers were to arrive we recieved a phone call from the Housing Office telling us that they were going to break our lease because the home was no longer available (long story short).  After about 24 hours of pitching a bit of a fit/panic attack/freak out, I came to grips with the fact that our 2nd choice for a home was not going to be a choice any longer. On to our 3rd choice, it's where the Navy sent us. 

So the Navy Housing assigned us to this home, the Personal Property worked to get our household goods delivered (a bit late, but delivered none-the-less), and it is our job to grow our family here.  

Although this home was not our first choice, I am really quite pleased with it.  It is smaller than our previous home in Maryland so we have a bit of a "Lots of Furniture in Every Room" motif going on.  You want a place to sit?!  You can sit here or here or here or here or here or here! Anywhere! However, that will be good for entertaining, right? Hosting spouse club meetings, playgroups, parties, visitors from the East Coast (hint hint, you know who you are) will all be easy in this home.  That is where my heart is. I love having people in my home; I am an extrovert and can't deny it. 

Our home has four bedrooms, and we are blessed to be able to give each of our kiddos their own room.  Grace gets a frilly girl room with a fuzzy pink toile bedspread, Matthew got a new bunk bed and gets to choose if he wants to sleep on top or bottom every single night, and Sam will get to sleep in a big boy twin bed as soon as he's ready (we tried last night... we found him under his crib... he's not ready). I have really enjoyed making each room a special place for each kid, and they loved helping put things in their new places.  That is where my heart is.  I love embracing each child's unique personality and flare.

My husband has been on leave for two weeks and we got to set-up our home TOGETHER.  We have one more month and a few days before he heads out on deployment and I am grateful for the time we get to spend with him.  He is where my heart is. 

I'm so happy that the Navy has sent us here, that it is an "accompanied" tour and our family gets to be together, and Paul is home for a few more weeks!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

TBMAC - From California (MD) to California

A LOOK BACK ON HOW WE GOT WHERE WE ARE.... (This dates back to October 7-11)

The day after our household goods took off, Paul got into our mini-van and started his Trek (yes, with a capital "T") across the country.  Here is his timeline:
     * Saturday: California, MD - Little Rock, AR
     * Sunday: Little Rock, AR - Albuquerque, NM
     * Monday: Albuquerque, NM - Camarillo, CA

What?!  That's c.r.a.z.y.  But he did it and he made it there safely.  And I think, maybe just maybe, he enjoyed the peace and quiet. 

 Peace and quiet?! Who needs that? Not me. I got to fly with the three kids... for five hours. 

Ready to head to the airport
First and foremost, hats off to my mom who watched the kids pretty much all day for two days on her own while I cleaned out our house for the new renters.  On Monday, we headed up to Alexandria, VA, to stay closer to Reagan International Airport where we would be flying out of on Tuesday morning.  Monday was a good day and we had a nice time walking down King Street and letting the kids get some energy out. A good night's sleep at the Residence Inn in Alexandria was had by all.

With some strategic packing and organizing, and almost losing the rental van in the parking garage, we made it to Reagan at 7am.

7-7:05am: I take the three kids, two suitcases, a HUGE duffle bag with two booster seats, Sam's carseat, a diaper bag, a tote bag, Grace and Matthew's two backpacks into the terminal.  Mom takes her luggage with her and returns the van. 

7:05-7:20am: While Mom is on her way back from the rental place, I take the kids to check our bags with the help of a very grumpy Alaskan Airlines guy.  Thank you, AA, for letting military dependents traveling on orders check 5 pieces of luggage for free!

7:20-7:30am: Meet back up with Mom, corral the kids, walk all the way down to the elevators, go down one level, walk all the way back to the security checkpoint for our gates.

7:30-7:50am: Secuirty.  Yep. I knew that security would be the most difficult part of this whole day.  Trying to get our bags organized on the conveyor, telling the kids to take off their shoes (wore slip-on shoes on purpose), being told the kids do NOT need to take off their shoes, me trying to take the DVD player, the iPad, and the lap-top out of my tote bag, Grace FREAKING out (screaming "Mommy! Mommy! I'm scared!"), me trying to console her, my Mom trying to get her to go through the x-ray machine, Matthew looking back and forth not knowing what to do, Sam trying to catapult out of my arms while I lift the stroller onto the conveyor...... 

7:50-7:55am: Post-security Calm Down.  With all of our bags reloaded and our caravan walking down toward our gate, I am pretty proud of myself that we made it through.... and that I had thought ahead and wore a shirt that couldn't get "pitted out" because I was sweat-y!

7:55-8am: Mom and I herd the kids down to the gate; Sam in the stroller, Grace and Matthew holding on to the stroller and walking incredibley slowly while leaning forward because their backpacks were "sooooo heavy," and Mom pulling her roll-y suitcase and carrying Sam's carseat.  I can hear every person in the gate saying a prayer that we weren't going to be on their flight. 

8-830am: After arriving at the gate, we pick up a little breakfast for the kids and let them wander around for a bit.  I am hoping they burn off some extra excitement energy and are tired on the plane.  We get the tag for the stroller, talk to the nice lady at the check-in gate about getting all of us on the plane, and take one last bathroom stop.
Here we are... our last group photo in Maryland.
I think everyone around us was just trying to ignore the bit of circus that we were.
8:30am: We say our good-bye's and thank you's to Grandma Chris, and the kids and I get on the plane.  We have three seats right next to each other and then one across the aisle.  Sam is put next to the window since he is in his carseat, then it's supposed to be Matthew, Me, and Grace across the aisle.  Grace ended up having another bit of a meltdown and Matthew switched seats with her... what a sweet brother.  While Grace sat there shaking her head and whimpering, "I don't like this, I don't like this, let me go with daddy" Matthew just kept saying, "It's OK, Grace. You can have my seat."  Awww. Thanks buddy.

M is good to go!
G & S ready for take-off!
9:10am: In the air. Grace leans over with her hands on her ears and eyes closed, Sam kicks the seat in front of him, and Matthew looks as excited and terrified as I had ever seen him.  

9:15am: After holding Sam's feet and telling him not to kick the seat in front of him - and him just kicking it harder and smiling (I love that stage... grrrr) I decide to just apologize to the lady in front of him and offer to buy her a beverage of her choice if she wants.  Soon, the novelty wears off and Sam keeps his feet still.

915-10:15am: All's well; Grace and Matthew color, eat cookies from the flight attendant, Sam screams for a bit (more sweaty moments) and then falls asleep around 10am.  I pull out my magazine...nice.

10:20am: Sam's awake.  WHAT?! No. Way. Matthew has to go potty. So up we go to use the ever so user-friendly airplane bathroom. 

10:25am: Back in our seats and Sam screams when I put him in his seat.... if you know him, you know his scream... it makes my ear drums rattle. I do not kid about this.  I can't fight this on an airplane.  In goes the pacifier and there goes my magazine.

10:25-2pm EST/7:25 - 11am PST:  I am a jungle gym for Sam. He starts on the floor in front of his seat, climbs into his seat, into my lap, laughs at the lady behind us, then crawls out of my lap and starts again.  Grace and Matthew decide to take the two aisle seats and entertain themselves quite nicely with videos and the iPad.  Only problem arises when they are wearing their headphones and talk to me REALLY loudly.  Sam poops which means, of course, I get to change a diaper in the every so user-friendly airplane bathroom.  Matthew also needs to poop, so that's another trip to my favorite part of the airplane. Grace and Matthew eat 6 cookies each from the flight attendant.

2-2:20pm EST/11 - 11:20am PST: Pilot announces that we are beginning our decent. HOORAY! Grace and Matthew fall asleep. Seriously.

12:00pm PST  WE ARE IN CALIFORNIA. We made it!  I'm not confident that the people in front of us had a very good flight with all the jostling around, but honestly... I'm pulling the "Navy Family Moving Across the Country with Three Young Kids" card. There's only so much we can do.  

My motto for the trip was "Five difficult hours on a plane, is sooo much better than SIX LONG DAYS in the car driving from Maryland to California."

After the flight was over the kids had this to say:

Grace: "Mom, that wasn't so bad. I was afraid of my ears popping off, but it wasn't even a pinch. It was just like a little bird in my ear poked me. It didn't even hurt!"  (So, maybe I shouldn't have told her about ears popping during take-off and landing... I think it freaked her out.)

Matthew: "That was awesome. When can we fly again?!" (Not until Sam is a lot older, buddy.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Big Move Across Country (TBMAC): The Load Up

Did you know I lived in a TOWN called California in Maryland?  Weird.  Well, now I live in the STATE of California. Navy life is awesome.

G & M enjoying the excitement.
Where do we begin?  Well, at the very beginning... it's a very good place to start. (Thank you, Maria from Sound of Music.)

Packers arrive on Wednesday. A guy and two ladies. Very nice, hardworking, and quiet.  All is well.  They work for about 5 hours and leave.  Day One - complete! Success.

Packers return on Thursday. Same guy and two ladies. They finish all the packing, but leave a whole bunch of stuff out... like rugs and pillows, etc. Day Two - 1/2 way completed. 1/2 way success.

M supervising the Move...
note: moving truck trying to back down our street.
Truck arrives on Friday. "How do I get my truck down your street?" -Uh, drive it????? Hmmm.... takes a few tries, but he manages to back it down the street to our house.  (In the driver's defense, our street is more of an alley than a street and people park their cars on the two streets that intersect with ours, so it was a bit of a tight fit.)
Loading begins. The workers work hard, but notice there are some miss-tagged boxes. [For any non-frequent movers out there, the packers packed up boxes and then stuck stickers with numbers on them.... then we get a form with corresponding numbers and they write what item/box/furniture goes with that number.  When we unload, we mark off each number when it is brought into our new house... essentially it is our inventory.]  So driver is tagging some stuff, and trying to organize the items already tagged by the packers.  I'm a little worried... I've never experienced confusion at this stage of the moving game before.  Sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Loading continues.  The truck our driver brought was already 2/3 full of other people's stuff when he showed up at our house.  P and I both thought... wow, all of our stuff is going to fit in that little space?!  Hmmmm.  Well at least the truck will be ready to head out to CA right away.  Should have known better...
...around noon, the driver comes over to me, nonchalantly, and mentions "yeah... so... you know, there isn't enough room in this truck... so I'm going to call dispatch.... they'll send another truck." I think my eyes bugged out a little and my eyebrows raised - I'd like to think I raised one eyebrow in a very dramatic way, but I don't think I can even do that - so he quickly added, "I'll stay here the whole time and make sure they show up."  Hmmmmmm..... sinking feeling increasing depth.

Hallelujah - My mom shows up from the airport to help occupy the kids while all of their belongings disappear out of the house by a handful of strangers and go onto a big huge truck.

I run errands (returning cable boxes, etc.), come back, and the second truck has arrived... and a whole bunch of our furniture is sitting in our neighbor's driveway. I wonder how we are supposed to know which stuff/furniture/boxes is
on which truck.  Is there any way they are keeping track of this? Nope. Sinking feeling reaches even deeper depths.

Oh, and did I mention the second truck didn't happen to bring those big packing quilts that they wrap your furniture in to make sure it doesn't get dinged and banged up??? Nice. "Well, we don't have time to go get some," they told my husband, "but if you want we can come back on Monday to finish, [mind you it is Friday evening and our furniture is sitting outside at this moment] oh wait, Monday is a holiday... we could come back on Tuesday and finish." Yeah, that won't work.  P is leaving TOMORROW to drive our van across the country and I fly out with the kids on Tuesday.  Go ahead; pack up our stuff uncovered.  Feeling.... SUNK.

The driver of truck #1 assures us that he "thinks" he's heading straight out to California... he should be there in about a week.... but of course, remember, the contract with the Navy says they have until the 24th.  SURELY it won't take 17 days to get there, right? Riiiiiiight.

The driver of truck #2 assures us he will unload all of our stuff as soon as he gets to the wharehouse, cover all the furniture and re-pack it. Hmmmmm. Hope so.

And there goes most of our earthly possessions.... (today is October 19th and we haven't seen them since.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reunion-Farewell-ER-PICU-Houshunting-Baby Shower

It has been a loooo-oooong while since the last time I wrote.  There's a lot to catch you up on... so be prepared for a looooo-oooooong post...

Labor Day Weekend
* Went to the hubby's USNA Class Reunion.
* Had a great time visiting with friends I hadn't seen in a looooong time.
* Missed one particular friend IMMENSELY when I ran into her husband and not her. Too bad she was off traveling in Europe.
* Enjoyed a little alone time with the hubby.  So wonderful.

Weekend Trip to VA
* Sadly went down to Virginia to say "So long, Farewell, Alfeeterzane (phonetically spelled, of course), Good Bye" or in the language of the Navy "See you next time we're stationed together"  to many good good good good great friends.
* It was sad and difficult to say the least.
* The trip began a good three days of me spontaneously crying and begrudging the Navy.

Birthday Celebration for G
* Planned to take G and her good buddy (and buddy's mom, who is my good buddy) up to Annapolis to do a little pottery painting and lunching in honor of G's 5th birthday.
* Excited to do a little something special for her for her birthday AND a good way for her to make one last good memory with her buddy.

Birthday Celebration Cancelled for Trip to the ER which led to trip to PICU
* The evening before we were planning on the Big 5 Celebration, S got a runny nose and started to sound congested.  We've seen this before and it requires a trip to the ER.
* Hoped and hoped he wouldn't get worse through the night, but at 330am and 530am I had to give him a nebulizer treatment at home.
* At 7am, he was up again sounding much worse.
* My Buddy, who was planning on being with us that day, was kind and flexible and understanding and everything "friend" means, and came over to take G & M while I took S to the local ER.
* About two hours at the ER and we had S hooked up to an IV; he had received two intense breathing treatments and was not improving at a rate that pleased the local docs. The ER doc told me, "if he doesn't get better, we're going to have to transfer him to a hospital up in DC with a pediatric ICU."  My thoughts were "oh, yikes. okay. but surely he'll get better."
* Overheard Doc on the phone saying, "patient shows high pulse rate. patient's retracting with every breath... blah blah blah... yeah. we'll fly him up to you."
* Honestly thought, "'fly him up to you'? wow, i bet we're gonna get in an ambulance with the lights on an 'fly' up there."
* Doc came to our little ER room and said "did you hear?" "yeah" "so we're gonna fly him up to Georgetown University Hospital.  You can go in the helicopter too if you want." "whoah! you mean, fly-fly?!"
* Okay, so it was pretty serious.  I didn't realize how scared I was at the time until after things got better and then thought back to everything and realized how dream-like it all felt.  I got into a helicopter that they pointed me to (the view was pretty amazing... and the fact that I wasn't scared to death of flying shows that I was so scared about S, I couldn't muster up any more 'scared'), I heard what the docs were saying, but didn't comprehend much of it.  And the most obvious sign that I was kind of freaked out was that the Resident doc didn't recognize me the next morning... she re-introduced herself to me the next morning, then said "oh my. I didn't even recognize you! you were so worried yesterday."
* P was out on the boat doing some carrier qual flights with a squadron out of Norfolk at the time.  I was never able to get in touch with the duty officer at that squadron to get word to him that S and I were heading to DC.... but amazingly he got word on the ship and by the time I landed at Georgetown, he had already be scheduled on a flight off the ship for a few hours later.  I am soooo grateful to all the Navy folks who stepped up and got that done for me.
* P showed up at the hospital later that evening.  S was doing better, but still had a very fast heart rate and his breathing rate was concerning the Docs.  He was up to 150 breaths per minute.
* Stayed at a local Holiday Inn for the night so I could get some sleep (after not sleeping the night before) and take a shower and have a moment to wrap my head around everything.
* S had a slower recovery than we hoped and had to do a breathing treatment constantly for 24 hours.  By late Sunday night he was finally released from the PICU and admitted to general pediatrics.  He was released from the hospital 36 hours later for a grand total of 3 and a half days at Georgetown University Hospital.
* It has been decided that he has asthma that is triggered by congestion.  We are giving him daily allergy meds and a preventative nebulizer every day.  We also have some steroid nebulizer treatments to give him if the retraction starts again.
**** I KNOW there are many many many parents who deal with much much much worse conditions and sicknesses with their kids.  I do not, by any means, want to imply that this was the  "worst thing ever" because I know we are very very blessed. My heart goes out to all those parents who have to spend long stays in the PICU.****

And On To CA
* The day after S was released from the hospital, P and I were supposed to be heading to CA for a conference and househunting.
* Postponed the departure date (a few $$ later) and stayed home until our local pediatrician checked him out and said he was doing fine. This postponement also let us be at home for G's actual birthday, which was an extra special treat since I thought we were going to miss it and I was having immense Mommy-Guilt about that.
* Arrived in CA two days late, but were there in time for my aformentioned size 8 dress.  (Read back a post or two for more on that.)
* After the conference, we headed up to Ventura County to surprise some great friends at church who we hadn't seen for 4 years!
* Two days of house-hunting later, we signed a lease in a community we were really excited about living in.

Baby Shower in Chi-Town
* Two days after returning from CA, I headed back to the airport and flew to Chicago.
* Evening One in Chicago = worst nail salon experience ever (I'll write about that another day) and tapas dinner with Dad, my brother-in-law "R", and my most-fabulous sister "K"
* Morning One in Chicago = Hair Salon with K for a chic blow-out, Baby Shower at Tribute Restaurant (WON-DER-FUL) for my sister and my soon-to-be new niece "E" and getting to see lots of great people whom I haven't seen in quite a while.
* Afternoon One in Chicago = Drive up to my hometown to see my bestest high school friend "J" and her brand new baby girl!!! Precious, sweet, cute, loveable, snuggable, darling!!! (my friend's baby is all those things.... not my friend herself, that would be weird!)
* Evening Two in Chicago = Delicious Italian dinner with Mom and K, followed by a sleepover for the three of us at K's city apartment.  If only we had Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea to watch!
* Morning Two in Chicago = Photo shoot of my sister and her baby bump, head to O'Hare and fly back to Baltimore.

And that, my friends, is what I did from September 2-October 2.
Which leads us nicely to The Big Move Across Country.... TBMAC....