Thursday, May 26, 2011

PCS'ing to Germany (Part 4/Temporary Living)...

We've been putting it off, waiting for our actual date of arrival. My friend kept reminding me to make a reservation at the Inn on Base. Here we are about 2.5 months before arriving, and they are already booking up. It was possible that we could have even got a pet friendly room. But all of those rooms are already taken! It's ok, because we were provided with a list of local kennel services. These services cost anywhere from 9-12 Euro per pet, per day. Oh snooze you lose right? The good thing is that we have a room reservation on base. If we hadn't done this, they would put us in a hotel off post which we would have had to pay out of pocket and that can be expensive. Yes, you would be reimbursed "later" but who has the money to pay up front for everything during a move like this! Short story... make your reservations months in advance!!!!

UPDATE: We DO have a pet room now! Yay! No off post kennels to worry about (crossing my fingers)!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

PCS'ing to Germany (Part 3/Pets)...

This has been the one thing that I've been most worried about for this move. We have 2 dogs and 2 cats. In prior moves it wasn't a big deal because we just drove ourselves and our dogs and cats with us to the next station. But this time we have to fly. There are rules for flying with pets, and rules for taking them overseas. I'm not sure what all of that entails just yet but I want to explain my experience up until now.

I've read and researched... but for the most part, I've listened to rumors. Scary rumors. You can only take 2 pets. It costs over $1000 per pet. You have to put your pets in quarantine for 2 months. RUMORS! Do not listen to the rumors. Do the research yourself, it will ease your mind a bit. John set up our flight date and at the appointment they told him he would get an email explaining what he needed to do next. And THEN we could call the airline that was flying us and find out how they handle pets. But in the meantime, we were waiting for this email that we were supposed to get the next week. 1 month later we still hadn't received it so I had him call. That's all it took. A phone call. Why are men so afraid to make those phone calls? It could have saved us a lot of stressful worry. I'm not saying the worrying is over... it's still there... but it's a relief to know exactly what needs to happen now.

Basically what we were told was all pets need to have their vaccinations taken care of 10 days before departure. Not earlier. I'm not sure if that means you can get it done 8 days before you leave or 15 days before you leave. But you'll bet I'll be making our vet visit exactly 10 days before we leave just to be safe! As far as I know, there are no quarantine laws in Germany, but we will have to make arrangements with a kennel to care for them while we look for housing.

Our particular airline (I think it's American Airlines) will allow you to travel with up to 5 kennels. Each kennel can hold 2 pets, but the total weight (including the kennel) cannot exceed 100 lbs. So if you have 2 small cats weighing only 10 lbs each, they can go together in one small kennel. That takes care of the cats. But the dogs are a bit heavier so they will have to go in separate kennels. The cost for each kennel is $150. Not $600... not $1000. Thank you God the bank account can breathe. There is still one slight worry though. If the temperature is higher than 85 degrees at the time of departure, they will not ship your pets and you will need to setup separate travel through a pet shipping company. We are traveling in a summer month... so there is still some concern. BUT... our plan is to wait for our itinerary and if our departure flight is during the day, we'll try to reschedule it to a morning or evening hour. Keep your fingers crossed... because we do not want to go through a pet shipping
company. I have no idea how much trouble that will add. But for now... a little of those rumor worries are eased.

UPDATE (Thanks to my friend for providing me with this helpful information!):

-Get them Micro chipped (the microchip needs to be inserted "PRIOR" to the most current rabies vaccine)

-Pet must be current on rabies vaccine and the vaccine needs to be older than 30 days.

- Get a bilingual health certificate by a USDA certified vet (military vets are all USDA certified) for German customs. This certificate is good for 4 months. But some airlines require it to be less than 10 days old. Check with your airline to make sure! If you don't have a vet on post, you can go to any non certified vet and send the paperwork to the USDA office of your state.

And a further note... we just received our itinerary. The flight was set to leave at an early morning time out of our local airport with one stop. We wanted to avoid these hours because of the risk of the temperature being too high. So instead we will be renting a Van and driving to the airport that will take us directly to Germany. In our eyes, this is a small exchange for having to ship our pets through a pet shipping company.

UPDATE: All of the above still seems pretty accurate... but since we are traveling in the very hot month of August, we will not be able to benefit from the regular $150 crate cost of shipping them accompanied as cargo. Booo! So we've decided to leave our dogs with my parents, and the cats with his mom. The plan is to ship them over to us when the weather cools off a bit, but it's looking like that may be pretty expensive like the original rumors suggested. Darn why can't we just have orders to get there in October instead!

PCS'ing to Germany (Part 2/Preparing for the Packers)...

The next thing on the list was setting up our packing date! When moving oversees, we were told you need to plan your packing date a couple of months before you actually leave. It takes a while to get your things shipped (on a BOAT) over there so the sooner the better. That's why I decided to go to Ft. Rucker with John this summer. I don't want to sit here in this empty house. And we can make it like a little summer vacation for Aidan. The beach is 1 hour down the road and we have several friends there that we can visit with. You are allowed 2 shipments... one for everything... and then a second one closer to when you leave for the small things that you kept to live on. They suggested not to ship computers or electronics in the second shipment because there is more chance it can get damaged. I'm assuming the second shipment gets over there faster, but is handled with less care.

We have accumulated a lot of crap over the course of our 12 year marriage. In preparation for the movers, we listed and sold several things on craigslist. We are only allowed something like 13000 lbs. So a bunch of stuff had to go. I have learned a huge lesson from selling on Craigslist. You will NEVER get what you paid for it... and in most cases... not even as much as it's worth. We took a huge hit on our four wheelers. Huge meaning several thousand dollars. I loved my little pink four wheeler. But those things depreciate in value very quickly! I almost wish we'd just put them in storage so we would have them when we got back to the states. But I think we've outgrown that phase in our lives. Maybe we'll get Harley's when we get back instead!!

After selling most of the junk and unneeded "big" items, John set up our packing appointment. He had to do this through the online AKO system. Be forewarned... the online setup is a pain in the A**. I'm not sure why... but he was frustrated with it and so were a couple of our friends. I'm glad I didn't partake in that task ;)! He planned for a date of June 7th! OK... I have a few more weeks to prepare myself right? NOT! The packing coordinator came out to assess and give us an idea of what will happen. He then informed us that the packers would be here on June 2nd, 3rd, and 6th. Yes my friends... 3 days of packing and one day of pickup! And that is next week! Slight panic attack. I have not done anything I wanted to do before they come out. I wanted to go through the drawers and closets to get rid of "more" trash, set aside things that we need to keep with us, pack the suitcases that we'll be living out of for the next 2 months, and hide my spices. Haha! Guess my weekend is looking busy! Here we go.......................................................

PCS'ing to Germany (Part 1/House)...

Alrighty... so now I'm going to start documenting our moving process. Yay! Loads of fun. But this is for all of you Army wives who want to know what to expect with a move like this.

Some people may not have this issue because they live on post, or are renting out a house/apartment off post. But for those of you happy homeowners... let's just say... put your house on the market early! Not that your house won't sell in the first week because I've watched several of my friends unload their homes in the first showing. But in our price range, and given the short length of time we've lived in this place, it has become quite stressful. We are living in a time where a buyer has all advantage right now. John and I bought our house right before the market in this area dipped. We didn't plan for it to happen, and how could we know? But I love being a homeowner and I will never regret our decision to purchase this house. I started my business in it. It will leave me with many happy memories. It was perfect for me. John on the other hand... hates this house. We bought it brand new... so we have all the regular problems of a new house (mostly settling). Cracks from settling aren't really a big deal. It happens to all new homes. Nothing a little spackle and paint can't fix. But it annoys John. I think mostly because he hasn't lived here as long as Aidan and I have. He really has only lived in it for maybe 2 years because of the 2 deployments he did while stationed here. To me this is a home. Aidan and I have our own memories that we can look back on. The time he broke his tooth riding his four wheeler in the driveway (eeek...maybe not a fun memory... but a memory). The striped lawn I made last year when trying to fertilize it...hahaha! The friends we made... the backyard bbq's... the pool parties... sitting on the front porch in my rockers. All memories in THIS house. I am actually sad to pack it up :(

We listed the house for sale a few months ago and had alot of great showings. Almost even had an offer! But the showings have stopped. Maybe the buyers are finding new built homes they like better... maybe we have it priced to high... maybe it's just not our time. So we are now putting it on the rental market. I am not worried about renting. We do also have a rental in Fort Hood, TX which seems to be working out fine. And we aren't planning on purchasing another home for a while. So renting it will help us build a little equity and we can re-list it for sale in a couple of years when the market picks back up (if the market picks back up). If anyone is in this position and decides to rent your home... I suggest purchasing a Home Warranty. It will cover your butt if anything ever breaks. These home warranty's usually cost about $400 per year and you can add things to it. But when something is malfunctioning, the warranty company will send out a serviceman to fix it or in worst case replace it. But all you pay is the deductible (roughly $75) if the item is covered under the warranty. In our first home in NC our AC unit was acting up. Would have cost us over $1000 to replace, but we only paid about $200 because we had the warranty. So it's a good investment in my opinion.

There is alot of work that goes into getting a home ready for sale or rent. You can choose to do as much or as little as you want. We felt the most important thing was paint. Repairing those settling cracks and painting over all the sticky little handprints left by Aidan. Noone wants to walk into a home and see greasy marks all over the walls. So that's what we put our focus on. Almost every room has been repainted minus my bonus room where I have my studio set up. And the master bedroom. We also repainted the hand railing out front. We are also trying to make the yard look more appealing. Our grass took a heavy blow this winter and is struggling to come back. We are still playing with the idea of hiring a lawn treatment service. There were also a few holes in doors that John repaired. Good as new! We're almost ready! We dropped off our rental contract yesterday, so hopefully we get some tenants in here soon! Wish us luck!!!!

Monday, May 16, 2011


I made a decision today. I have exactly one year to spend with him until he leaves us again. In that year, there will be several training months where we will be apart (I'm sure). I have decided... if I can help it... if I have the opportunity... if there is a choice in the matter... I will follow him. I will leave my friends, my family, my life... to be with him. It does not make me happy to say goodbye. I promise you... I AM NOT leaving anyone behind. This stop has not been one I will forget. It has actually been the one with the most impact on our life as an army family. We have experienced more in these last 4 years than we have in our entire 12 almost 13 years together (not that any other station wasn't memorable). But, it's time. I watched 2 moving trucks leave my neighborhood this week. And I know of 3 more that will be going soon. It's like someone is telling me it's time to go.

The original plan was for me to stay here in this "empty" house alone for a month after our household goods were shipped. But why? Why should I sit here on a lawn chair and an air mattress in a living room for a month while he is only 8 hours away? What is keeping me here? Friends? Business? Both very important to me. BUT... he will always be at the top of that list. So... if there is a choice in the matter, I will follow him. Even if it means saying goodbye to things I love. I can't help it. The heart wants what it needs. And I need him this year. I don't know what the next deployment will bring. I need to be with him as much as I can before he leaves again. There are so many forces pulling me there. So I will go. But we will be back in July. So don't shed tears for us just yet. It's not over till the fat lady sings. And my vocal chords are just warming up!