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{July 31, 2015}   July Fitness Challenge

RECAP

Because of the move I haven’t been keeping up with logging my fitness challenge. I am happy to say that though I have not blogged about it, I have been good about keeping up with it. This month I kept it light because I was adjusting to the daily heat and humidity of South Korea (can we say 90-degrees and humid, even in the rain!). However, because this was a walking base, I challenged myself to 10,000 steps a day or about 5 miles a day. I am happy to say that I have been able to hit my mark most days. I have missed a few days, but in the aggregate I’ve met my goal all except the third week in July, because we were moving into our new apartment so I stayed close to home. So basically, although I didn’t walk 5 miles everyday. By the end of most weeks I did hit at least 35 miles!

RESULTS

So far the results of my challenging myself are looking good. I need to step up running, but again the heat has limited my ability. In fact, I actually have been suffering from dehydration. Even with drinking a good deal of water, it’s still not enough in this heat. However, I have lost 4 inches in 4 weeks. So far so good.



It’s all the rage on any military spouse blog: The PCS (Permanent Change of Station) Binder. It’s a lifesaver, a God-send, everything that you could ever need for a PCS. Honestly, this is only my first PCS, so take this with a grain of salt; but I spent more time preparing my PCS folder than actually utilizing it. However, I can see the purpose behind it and it did bring a measure of comfort to one such as myself who has an over-planning, anal, type-A personality. So you may find it helpful. I keep it now as my military folder, because you just never know when you need information quickly and its a ready made filing system. I didn’t use a binder per se. Instead I used one of those plastic accordian folders. I felt it traveled better than a folder (being that is literally more flexible) and I didn’t have to worry about things like passports or paperwork falling out of the plastic lining. I used the folder the most upon arriving on base and getting my SOFA stamp and ration card.

Folder Sections:

1) Personal Records

– Passport

– Driver’s License and Paper Copy

– Military ID card and Paper Copy

– Birth Certificate

– Social Security Card

– Marriage License

2) Travel Documents

– Flight Itinerary and receipt

– Storage and Shipment form: Basically a receipt of our storage shipments

3) Orders

– 5 copies of service member’s orders with my name on them (I had several copies, but I wouldn’t leave a copy with civilians. All they need to do is verify the information on there, because of OPSEC you really shouldn’t let them keep a copy of the orders themselves).

– Service member’s last Leave & Earnings Statement (LES)/ Pay Stub

– Record of Emergency Data (RED): This is a print out that shows that I am listed as my husbands beneficiary and emergency contact

4) Medical 

–  Tricare and Dental Log-In information

– Paper prescriptions for any medication

– (Optional) Health Records: Some people put health records, but I had my log-in information to my medical organizations, so I felt this was sufficient

5) Legal

– Power of Attorneys

– Spouse Dormitory Visitation Letter: My husband obtained permission for me to stay in his dorm with him while we looked for an apartment.

6) Receipts & Misc.

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Here are a couple websites with other examples of PCS Binders, you can find a bunch more here on Pinterest, these had the most pins:

http://arillablog.com/2014/02/20/building-a-pcs-binder/

http://thevollmerfamily.com/MajorMom/2010/11/the-vollmer-pcs-binder-tm.html

http://sunflowerspluslove.blogspot.kr/2014/09/pcs-files-master-pcs-binder.html



My Non-Command Sponsored (NCS) move was a little different from other military spouses I’ve met, in that I didn’t live with my husband before his move to South Korea. Nor did we have the time or ability to combine our household items for a move because prior to our marriage he was stationed in another country. And once we were married and he got on a plane three days later.  What that means for a non-command sponsored move is that while they would move his stuff to South Korea they would not move mine. Because of location and time constraints I couldn’t add my stuff to his weight limit shipment like other spouses have done. Other NCS spouses typically send their stuff along with their sponsor (the service member) and pay for their own plane ticket and no one’s the wiser. Since the government was moving my husband from another country already, I couldn’t send my stuff along. Which means I had to get very creative with packing because I’m attempting to move using only the luggage included in my ticket. I am blessed that because I am moving as a military dependent I am allotted four – 70lb bags, and two carry-on bags through Delta. So while, it will be interesting to pack my life up into six bags, it could have been worse. As the original baggage allowance for an international flight is two 70lb bags and two carry on bags.

First, I packed my carry-on bags. I decided not to waste a bag with a purse or laptop bag. Instead, I used a roller carry-on bag and a very large shoulder bag.  Incarry-on bag one, I packed two weeks worth of clothing. Everything, I would need should something happen to my large luggage. Also everything I will need while I stay in hubby’s dorm and we look for an apartment. That way, I can put the large bags in his storage area and only use the small bags in an already cramped space. Any extra clothing I would need on the flight, etc. Then the second bag was anything I would need for the flight that I would normally carry in a shoulder bag, plus a change of clothing when I landed to change into before seeing my hubby. 🙂 The two large bags were everything I could possibly fit into them for my life in South Korea. I kept an inventory of each bag, which was very helpful considering my large box was opened and inspected while in transit.

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Bag 1: Carry-On Roller Bag 1 ( 2 Weeks of Clothing and Supplies)

  • 16 pairs of underwear (enough for two weeks and couple spares)
  • 4 Pairs of socks (I wear a lot of flats, heels, and sandals)
  • 4 Regular bras
  • 2 pajama sets (to look cute in) (I don’t need a lot of nightwear because I can always use hubby’s t-shirts)
  • Robe – One that is easily fold-able, I chose my sexy black robe 😉
  • 1 tee shirt and shorts night set (to lounge in)
  • 1 Glamorous, wrinkle-proof top
  • 3 dresses
    • 2 Glamorous sundresses
    • Casual dresses that can go from day to night
  • 1 Pair of your sexiest jeans (these can double as a night outfit with heels and a hot shirt)
  • 3 Tank Tops
    • 1 Basic tank top
    • 1 Nice but versatile tank top
    • 1 Dress tank top
  • 2 Basic fitted tees that can be dressed up or down
  • 2 Sports bras
  • 1 Jacket (chose a light cotton/ leather blend)
  • 1 Shrug for nights out
  • 2 Pairs of killer heels
  • 1 Pair of flat-supportive sandals
  • 1 Pairs of comfortable flip flops (for the shower)
  • Items I need but will wear rather than pack
    • 1 comfy jacket with a hood
    • 1 pair of versatile flats
    • 1 pair of comfy but versatile pants
    • 1 good comfortable bra
    • 1 pair of thick socks

Bag 2: Additional Clothes ( All the clothes that I am taking to Korea) This was a large roller suitcase which I packed in sections. Shirts, in one section; pants in another; work out clothes, etc. I rolled all of the clothes and placed additional undergarments on top. On top of the undergarments I laid all of my suits, dresses, and blazers by folding them in half to make them fit.

Bag 3: All Shoes, extra clothing, land linen This is also a large roller suitcase, slightly larger than the first. First, I laid my shoes in the bottom of the suitcase, so that heal of one shoe was touching the toe of its pair. Then on top of that I laid winter clothing, and then any extra business suits and dresses. On top of that I put two queen sized sheet sets and a blanket. Belts and scarf accessories I put in the pockets of the suit case.

Bag 4: Cosmetics:  There’s this idea that just because South Korea has a lower cost of living that one can just repurchase everything they may need once they arrive. I happen to find that line of thought to be very wasteful. As the old saying goes, “waste not, want not.” So rather than buy perfectly good containers of expensive perfumes, lotions, and makeup, I packed a checked bag that would allow for the larger sizes. *This has proven to be invaluable in hindsight. My hubby, God love him, went ahead of me to South Korea and was there for a month. That’s a month of living like a bachelor. So when I arrived there was a lot of things that I find necessary that he did not have or even think to bring. Not to mention, while South Korea may be inexpensive, the base here is not. Simple things are significantly more expensive and while, yes, I can purchase them off base, in the first couple of weeks when you are getting acclimated that is not always a possibility.

Bag 5: Large Box of Household Goods: Thank goodness that most airlines worth their salt have a military baggage policy. When one is permanently changing stations (PCSing), airlines like Delta will allow for a large number of bags and for larger bags in general. This meant that I was allowed a total of 6 bags (4 checked and 2 carry on) and my checked bags could be larger than normal bags. Thus, I used a box slightly larger than a flat screen tv box to store a few items from my wedding and some art that I want to travel with us on our adventures to make our temporary quarters feel more like home. There is no way I would have been able to bring these items without significant cost if it hadn’t been for the military baggage allowance.

Bag 6: Carry on Shoulder Bag:  This bag is relatively unimportant for packing purposes, but I had snacks, reading material, makeup, a large pashima-type scarf to keep warm, hair supplies, warm socks, pressure socks, my journal and my Bible.

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Here is a crude picture of all of my bags and boxes for my move.

Shipped Item 1: Valuables: My final bag was actually a box and it was not checked. Rather it was mailed to me by my parents after I left. I packed it prior to leaving. The United States Postal Services has designated specific zip codes for overseas locations on military bases. When one ships a package or letter to those addresses the postage is the same as mailing something to the continental United States. This helps you save tremendously on postage. All of the blogs advised that I carry my expensive jewelry. Well I am a collector of jewelry, particularly pearls and I never wear the costume version. So for me that would have been an entire bag of nothing but jewelry. Rather than put the jewelry, and some expensive electronics, in a checked bag that could be inspected (and from personal experience possibly stolen) I decided that to mail it in a flat rate box with insurance. For one thing, the priority boxes insure timely delivery and for another the insurance gives me some peace of mind as to the safety of my items. For this box I did take pictures of each item in the box and made an inventory list.

Shipped Item 2: Gift Registry Items: I was very blessed during my wedding, people actually bought items off of the gift registry! However, no one shopped them to my hubby’s military address like I requested, LOL. What this meant for me was that I was going to have to spend more in shipping than some of the items cost, even with an APO address. Instead, my registry was with Macy’s so I returned everything and bought them again and then just shipped them to my new mailing address. It was a much more cost effective way of doing things because Macy’s prides itself on shipping to the military and in general everything over $150 ships free. As one shipment my items were well over the minimum purchase amount. My only caveat is that I shipped my stuff well in advance to make sure they arrived in a timely manner. However after nearly 3 weeks, upon my arrival, no package had arrived. Luckily I keep great records and contacted a manager (after dealing with a tone of people who didn’t know what they were doing). Apparently, the sales woman who did my transaction had never shipped to a military address before and they had no idea where my items were at, but they just reordered them all and shipped them again. All-in-all I still think this was the best way to go, just keep your receipts and records should something go wrong.



Wedding and Events by the Williams

Weddings by the Williams was my florist and day of coordinator. In this post, I will just focus on the floral arrangements provided. Its hard for me not to go on a thousand-word rant. I had some pretty disappointing moments in my wedding and I feel that they pretty much all tie to the Williams’ services. It’s hard for me not to be bitter. But I just try to focus on the overall day and not the specific failures… Except when I am writing reviews.

Jade is the front man and co-owner of the company with her husband Michael. We all spent a significant amount of time talking about the flowers I wanted, specifically I interacted with Jade and discussed my floral arrangements with her. I knew pretty specifically before meeting Jade that I wanted a broach and flower bouquet with pink roses and pink tea roses, and ivies and pearls as accents, and I told her so. Another reason I went with Weddings by the Williams was because I didn’t want a lot of flower arrangements beyond bouquets, and a few special table arrangements. Every other florist was trying to sell me packages with far too many flowers for what I envisioned for my wedding and not enough lead way to customize said packages.  Jade on the other hand, priced each bouquet and arrangement individually so it was a la carte.  Not to mention that Jade gave me a discount because I used two services from the company and my husband is in the military. So I felt like it was a good deal that combined to services, which meant one less contract and one less vendor to deal with. Not to mention the company website and Jade’s portfolio featured gorgeous pictures. I was pretty excited. She told me to trust her with the creative design, but I thought she would use the guidelines we talked about.

We discussed blush and pink flowers with ivies and broaches. What I received were mostly white flowers with a few that were a very light blush. They were browning and wilting around the edge when I received them on the day of the wedding. She said it was because it was a hot day, but I’ve had others in wedding business arena say they looked old and that’s how they looked to me too. My wedding theme was reminiscent of spring day in Paris. Yet, my floral arrangements all had dead and brown sticks and other fillers that would have been more appropriate for a fall wedding. I was glad I found broaches to be added to the bouquet, I think that saved it. That and the fact that I had an awesome photographer. The flowers don’t look drab or dead in her official photos, but in other people’s photos you can tell that the arrangements were dying. It was just one in many disappointing events working with Weddings by the Williams, but I will save that for the day of coordinator post.

These pictures were taken shortly after I received them, before the wedding, before guest even saw my bouquet and they were already wilting.

These pictures were taken shortly after I received them, before the wedding, before guest even saw my bouquet and they were already wilting.

Notice the browning around the edges. This picture was take shortly after I received the flowers and before the wedding.

Notice the browning around the edges. This picture was take shortly after I received the flowers and before the wedding.



{July 6, 2015}   Lessons in Gratitude

Today was a rough day. I am getting a crash course into military-wife life by way of TMO (Traffic Management Office) weight limits, non-temporary storage, bureaucracy, and just overall really aggravating contractors. I am also getting lessons in the kindness of strangers, old friends, and small blessings. So I thought I’d focus on the latter.

Revel in the Little Things

After a highly frustrating day that involved: the express envelope that contained my storage key not being delivered to my friend in my old home state so that she could authorize my military contract movers to move my stowed away furniture and such from my single days, the storage company trying to convince me to pay them a ridiculous amount to cut the lock (basically playing on my desperation, classy move Public Storage. I didn’t take the bait and the key was delivered too little too late), having to reschedule the said move, inconveniencing a very busy solo practitioner. On top of that I was late to an Employment Readiness appointment (great resource by the way), but was able to receive help anyway. The cherry on the day was finding out I’ve been doing all of my federal applications completely wrong, basically rendering all of my experience, education, and skills null and void because my resume is too succinct and to the point. You know the way they train you in school. As the woman told me, “You’re trying to get a job with the government, you’re going to have to learn how do things in the most long and drawn out way possible.” Point taken. Lol.

Anyways, after all of that I decided to go to the running trail by the flight line to clear my head. Just as I’m getting underway Retreat starts (some people call the end of the day trumpet sound Reveille as well as the morning trumpet, but they are in fact not the same). Instantly I stop mid-stride, face the music of the Star Spangled Banner, and put my hand over my heart.  As the music winds down and then stops, I turn to see cars that have stopped in the middle of the street begin to drive, women begin to push strollers and start conversations up again as if they never stopped, runners pressed start on their watches and picked up the pace again. It was like we all were playing freeze tag and someone yelled “GO!” I couldn’t help but smile. My back was to the scene when I stopped. I didn’t know others were nearby. I marveled at how, before getting married I probably hadn’t heard reveille trumpets in 15 years, and yet my response was so automatic, because even as kids, we knew to stop play to honor the flag. It was a simple thing part of my training as a military brat that had never left me, it was ingrained. I thought to myself, “I wonder what this scene looks like to an outsider.” All of the military books I’ve read and tv shows I’ve watched, I can’t remember anyone referencing this shared experience that occurs everyday at 5:00pm or 1700 hours. Because its such a small part of military life, one who has not truly lived this lifestyle probably doesn’t even understand the significance when they are disseminating military stories to the masses. As I saw all of us “unfreeze” I concluded my inner conversation with the thought, “I don’t know how it looks to an outsider, but to me it looked like home.” I’d come home, as a military brat, it was like stepping into the front door of grandma’s house… somethings never change, nor would you ever want them to change. So I spent most of the day aggrevated with the military and government entities in general (thank you United States Postal Service), but I ended it just feeling proud and for that I am grateful.

Angels Unaware…

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2 (KJV)

My second story of gratitude started on a horrendous wedding planning day and concluded on this very frustrating day, almost like a reminder to rejoice in the small things. When I was about a week and half out from the wedding, my parents asked my fiance and I to see if the base had loaner car seats. My sister was to fly across country by herself with a 2 year old and a 2 month old (her husband couldn’t come until later because of work and she was coming early as the Matron of Honor). To make maneuvering easier she was only bringing one car seat and would need another when she arrived. Well much to our chagrin the air force base’s resource centers no longer lend out car seats because of liability reasons. I found this out on a day, when so many things had gone wrong with wedding planning. I decided to try one last place, Adventure’s Unlimited, which is like a sporting goods store on base. When I was a kid you could rent all sorts of out of the way supplies. Well they too did not have car seats, but it just so happened the sales clerk, McKenzie, had just transitioned her daughter out of her infant car seat. She literally gave me the car seat. I offered money, she refused. It was such a nice act that it totally changed my outlook on the wedding and really people. I didn’t know this woman but her generosity was greatly appreciated. She could tell I was frustrated and tired from the day, and her kindness helped me at least accomplish one thing on a day when very few things seemed to pan out. So touched by her graciousness was I, that I bought a gift card to accompany her thank you note.

However, today when I brought in the thank you note, McKenzie no longer worked at the Adventure’s Limited. Now I’m not saying that McKenzie was an angel per se, but I am saying that sometimes we as people are called to be that light of hope and inspiration for others. McKenzie was going to drop the car seat off at a thrift store and instead she said I saved her a trip. But to me, she touched me with her act of kindness. So McKenzie, you may never read this, but Thank You a thousand times. You kept a bride from crying that day. You rejuvenated my faith in humanity. You saved me that day from negativity and despair. The other things that went wrong weren’t fixed that day, but I can’t even remember what they were except that they were pretty big disappointments. All I really remember from that day was McKenzie’s kindness. It was a small act, but that day I just needed someone to care and she did. Thank you again!

For those of you who don’t know what reveille is…  I thought this was a funny example, but it shows how seriously military service members take it. It doesn’t matter what is happening when you Retreat or Reveille starts, you stop!



Dana of Urban Utopia Photography

I loved my photographer! She is genuinely one of the best, if not THE best, decision of my wedding (besides my husband lol). Dana is amazing and such a fun person. She is so thorough. Of all my vendors, I felt she was the one who really cared about her work and making my day special. During our first conversation we talked nearly two hours. She was keeping notes the whole time and she did this with every conversation. I was so thankful for this. I was a very thorough bride, and I found most vendors seemed to resent the fact that I was fastidious with notes and could recall details they’d promised. Dana loved that quality and was even better at it than I was. I really liked how thorough she was with taking notes. I never had to repeat things that were important to me. In fact, she reminded me of details and picture ideas we’d talked about months earlier. Because of this I never felt like she was trying to take advantage of me or capitalize on an emotional time. She never tried to hard sell me on things I couldn’t afford.

Dana from Urban Utopia Photography with my Matron of Honor.

Dana from Urban Utopia Photography with my Matron of Honor.

She knew all the details about my family, who liked whom, who could stand next to who. She asked questions about details I didn’t even think of. She was fantastic. At the event I had trouble with other vendors not doing their jobs, it was Dana who comforted me and helped out where she could. She has a way of taking amazing intimate and natural pictures, while using her personality to liven people up and getting their best shots. She’s both inconspicuous and interactive at the same time. Even at the reception, sometimes I didn’t even know she was taking pictures she’s so good at blending in. Yet she also gets right in and engages with everyone. At one point I saw her holding a baby, dancing, and snapping shots. LOL! It was hilarious! So many of my guests commented on how much they enjoyed her. But its not just her personality; her photography is amazing. I love her ideas and her photos. She is so creative. You don’t get the stuffy traditional shots, but you don’t miss any of the important pictures (like pics with grandma). I also appreciated the fact that she doesn’t have standard shots. I’ve looked through hundreds of pictures in her gallery and I didn’t feel like my photos were just cookie cutter shots from other weddings.

Dana is worth every penny. I had a budget wedding, but I am glad I invested in her services. Your pictures will really be the only lasting tangible thing from your wedding and I am so glad I hired Dana, I really feel I got the best by hiring her.



et cetera