14 days before departure
Both Jude and Joci had follow-up appointments for their ear infections this winter. Fortunately, the perforation in Joci's eardrum is healing and doesn't seem to bother her. We just have to make sure she doesn't submerge her ear in water. Jude had to visit an ENT specialist to have his hearing tested since he didn't pass the test at his well-child check. Turns out he's had a build-up of fluid behind his eardrum that is affecting his hearing. So he went on two different antibiotics to dry and clear that up before flying so he wouldn't be in too much pain. Thankfully, that wrapped up our medical records in Maryland!
That afternoon, we had a playdate at our favorite farm park and met up with a new friend and her three boys who just moved into the neighborhood next to ours after moving out of the neighborhood next to ours in Hawaii. She is awesome and I spent the afternoon picking her brain over life with kids in Kailua. It's really too bad we're switching places because I think our boys would have really got along!
|Dinner with our favorite spicy family!|
|Even a knight takes a break for s'mores!|
And that evening our best friend family invited us over for dinner since our kitchen is quite sad and bare.
13 days before departure
We love our BFF family and they love us so they invited us back again the following evening. Jon had scheduled one last golf outing to de-stress, so Mariam and I decided to de-stress at her neighborhood pool. Just kidding. There's really no de-stressing involved with 8 kids at a public pool. But we did have fun!
This was also a chance to celebrate the boys' last day of school! We took them our a few days early so they wouldn't have to be around during the chaos of moving out. I think the excitement of finishing up school helped with the sadness of saying goodbye to all their friends.
Also, Joci is apparently fearless of water--who knew?!? I kept turning around to find her neck deep in the shallow end. It's nice that she enjoys water since we're moving to Hawaii and all. But can we all just breathe a quick "thank you, Jesus" that we decided to NOT go with the house that had an un-fenced in pool? A water-loving 3YO with a propensity for running away would probably not have been a good mix there.
12 days before departure
This is where things started getting a little stressful. After talking with some Coastie friends we were told that the government wouldn't cover our hotel once we signed a lease on a house. And since our lease was starting in two days (before we arrived), we were suddenly worried that we would be paying for our food and lodging out of pocket for the 6 weeks before our household goods arrived (or camping out in an empty house.) I mean, we're all about camping, but it wasn't something we were planning on and I'm not good with having things sprung on my like that. Also, I've never camped for 6 weeks before. And we're talking thousands and thousands of dollars in reimbursements that we were counting on that would suddenly disappear. Kinda a big deal. And it was kinda weighing on me all weekend as I quickly sought to rearrange our plans in my mind.
The day before I noticed that one of my fillings had shifted so I had an emergency trip to the dentist that morning for some quick cement work first thing in the morning. While I was gone, Jon and the kids took Jäger to his new home. Yes, we are leaving our dog behind. It was a tough decision (okay, not really). In the end, we found a great house and the landlord said "no pets." And then our BFF family offered to adopt our pooch, so it was a no-brainer! He's settling in well there and the transition to a new family in Maryland was probably a better adjustment for him than flying to Hawaii and going through the whole quarantine process. And honestly, I think having to deal with a dog on top of all these children during this move would have just put me over the edge!
I returned from the dentist and met up with the rest of the family just in time to set off for Virginia and cousin Holly's wedding! Actually, it wasn't just in time. It WOULD have been just in time, if we could have predicted the terrible, TERRIBLE traffic on the way there. A 4-hour drive ended up taking 5.5 hours. I dressed the kids in the car, while we were roaring down the highway. We literally pulled into the church parking lot one minute before the ceremony was supposed to begin. But at least we made it!
|A wedding party so big it requires panoramic views!|
|Family photo with Papa and Nana!|
11 days before departure
We were planning to make it to church one last time but between getting in after midnight the night before and our list of things to do before the packers arrived Monday, it just didn't happen. We did manage to meet up with our besties for one final Sunday Brunch (it's been our thing for the last few months, taking over local restaurants with our 8 children after church.) Then we loaded up the kids and drove halfway to Pennsylvania to hand them off to Marmie and Poppa for yet another Grandy Camp while Jon and I closed up things in Maryland.
I'm one of those ceremonial sentimental type people. I count on rituals to help me process a major transition. So planning on one last gathering at church, and then not having it happen, was a little tough. And thinking about my kids' final sleep in our house--that ended up with just us carrying them in from the car and plopping them in their beds, makes me a little sad. But I'm learning that the best memories aren't always the last ones. And we certainly have a lot of Maryland memories to carry with us!
Jon and I stayed up late into the evening getting the house ready for the packers arrival on Monday. Yes, the government pays for packers and movers to do all the hard work for us, but there's still a lot of prep on our end. Basically the entire house has to be cleaned up and exactly how you'd want it to be packed--laundry and dishes washed, clothes and toys put away, and everything you don't want to be packed somewhere safe. Plus we had to have our bags packed for the 6 weeks we'd be without our stuff. I had such high hopes of having an organized move. Instead, I ended up running around like crazy and just throwing things in bags.
|My soundtrack for this move--United Pursuit "Simple Gospel."|
|Our sweet neighbor bought bon voyage cupcakes for the kids, not realizing they were already gone. So I look a picture to show them how much Ms. Pat loves them ... before Jon and I ate them.|
The packers have arrived! They sent a team of 3 and they got right to work. It was a good team and I'm full of faith that our stuff is going to arrive safely. The leader of the group (I'd call her the Mama Packer) was a machine in my kitchen. And then she moved on to the laundry/utility/storage room. I had one last load of laundry to wash for our suitcases, so I waited until she was done before throwing one load in the washer and leaving another load on top. After the packers left for the day, I went downstairs to finish the final load and ... it was gone. Lesson learned: don't leave dirty laundry out when you have packers in the house.
It wouldn't have been such a big deal except it was dirty work-out clothes (after being in a box for 6 weeks, ew!) and I felt terrible that this sweet woman had handled our dirty laundry! Jon and I tore open and re-sealed a handful of boxes but couldn't find it. So we eventually gave up and headed out to dinner and to collapse in our hotel room for the night.
|One of about 4 random piles of stuff that turns up during a move.|
|We left this couch behind, so at least we had a place to sit during the move!|
|I promised the kids I'd take pictures of the packed-up house to show them.|
The next morning, we confessed to Mama Packer that we had left some dirty laundry in her path, apologized profusely, and she immediately knew what box it was in. She said she had wondered how it had "appeared" in the area she thought she had already cleared. Since the packers had moved on to our room, we had finished all our packing the day before. There wasn't much for us to do in the house anymore, so it was basically an awkward day of trying to appear busy while someone else works in your house. Even though we had hired cleaners to come at the end of the week, I dedicated my efforts to the kitchen window and an hour later wondered why I had waited so long to make it shine!
This is our second day of eating out/staying in a hotel. With no kitchen items, beds or linens, we're pretty limited to what we can do in our house. Jared and Kylee invited us up for one last visit to Baltimore and we ate dinner by the harbor in Canton and enjoyed dessert at one of our favorites, Dangerously Delicious Pies. It wasn't our big goodbye with these two, but there was still a little sadness knowing that we'll no longer be just a quick drive from Charm City or a Date Night away from sibling time.
8 days before departure
The packers had finished up on Tuesday and the movers weren't scheduled to arrive until Thursday so Wednesday was a free day! This was Lesson 2 of our move: don't paint furniture after you've assembled it. Remember our girls' bunkbed? We had painted it white after putting it all together. And then it was kinda painted together. And the screws were kinda full of paint. So after spending 2 hours trying to dismantle it to get it out the door, the two of us were kinda over it. And when one of the side pieces shattered, we weren't too disappointed that this one would end up in the trash and we had to go out and buy a new one. So it was off to Ikea for a little day date!
Normally an Ikea run with just the two of us would be great fun, but at this point all of our stuff was packed up so I was barred from any additional purchases. We literally just headed straight for the marketplace and bought a bunkbed. What a sorry departure from one of our favorite stores that is not located on the island. :(
Our church was offering "Share Your Faith" classes this week and they included free dinner. We were already interested in taking the class but free dinner? During the week of our move? No brainer. So Jon and I had another date-night and a chance to escape from the house and hotel.
7 days before departure
MOVING DAY! You guys, I am confident that God sent us the most wonderful team of movers possible. Four big men that started loading things up while we were still showing them around the house and didn't stop until the final crate was sealed shut. Also, huge sigh of relief that they crated our goods on-site. I've heard too many horror stories of stuff being lost or misdirected because it ended up in the wrong crate.
If you don't know what I'm talking about (like me a few weeks ago), for overseas moves they put everything in large wooden crates on the back of a truck. So instead of a moving truck you have a semi with a bunch of crates on the back. The packers put almost everything we own into boxes and wrapped up the larger furniture. Then the movers load these smaller items into the crates, pack them to the gills like a Tetris game (seriously, fun to watch!), nail the lid onto the crate, put a few seals over it, and write our name on the front. Basically, they narrowed our entire home into 10 wooden boxes. Which is a weird feeling.
|Am I the only one fascinated by how they carry these boxes on their back using only a strap??|
And in case you're interested in further logistics, our weight allowance from the military is 17,000 pounds. In other words, based on Jon's rank and the size of our family. Going over that amount = $$$$$!!!! Between our two shipments, we moved around 11,000 pounds of stuff. So we were well under our maximum weight allowance, which was great! But the real test will come when our stuff arrives and we find out whether we downsized enough for Hawaii living!
The mover-men said that lunch slows them down, so they decided to work straight through lunch and finish early. Seriously guys, they were so fascinating to watch! They finished loading the crates by 2:00 and were on the road with lunch soon after.
|Do you think he got enough Burger King and Chick-fil-A for four men?|
|That's a wrap! Now we pray that none of these crates falls into the ocean!|
|It looks so big when it's empty!|
|Hiding out on the deck. I'm sitting on the railing and he's sitting on the only seat left ... it broke about 30 seconds after I took this picture!|
I don't know how to describe it. It wasn't sad or sentimental or happy or heavy, it just happened. And the next thing I knew Jon was pulling away from the curb in my dad's truck in front of me and I was adjusting the seat in my in-law's car--ready to head to Pennsylvania. I had always envisioned the final departure. One last glance at the still freshly-painted brick, the red door, the big bay window that has framed so much of our lives these last few years, the way the leafy green trees arch over the whole sweet scene. I lifted my foot off the brake, adjusted the rearview mirror, turned my eyes for the image that I'd look back on for years to come ... and saw only boxes. Loads and loads of boxes to be taken to our parents'. And then we were on our way to Pennsylvania.