Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Checking off my List

So the weeks are going by and I'm accomplishing tons!

We have been plowing through the house and our garage has an UNBELIEVABLE amount of items in the stack to sell. I can't believe it was all in our house somewhere! We are planning on the MOTHER OF ALL GARAGE SALES in two weeks so I'm working hard to get through everything.

The picture doesn't even include our bedroom set, the crib, changing table, a few bookcases, two chairs, ottoman, cabinet, outdoor playhouse, sandbox, baby pool, another sandbox, cozy coupe car, angelfish rocker, see-saw, etc.....

Then....I can have the movers come to survey what is left for storage or shipping and set a date to have them actually pack things up.

We got our passports today too:

This means that I can photocopy them and attach them to the packets for school registration and get those fedexed off tomorrow. I'll feel better when I know they are set for school!

We received a housing application yesterday that we filled out and submitted. Our housing is somewhat based off of the size of our family and Brian's grade. Then - they ask what is important to us for a house. Ummmmmm - that was hard. I answered the questions (we had to list our top two) and we said #1 was a neighborhood with children and #2 was something close to amenities. Then I got obsessive and concerned and sent an email off to the CLO (can't remember what it stands for but it's some kind of relocation specialist) - we would be placed in a villa (which sounds great but is basically the same as a townhome here) and they don't have garages, only car ports. Ummmm we have a 2-car + tandem garage FILLED with stuff. Where do you put that kind of stuff if you don't have a garage (or basement or attic????) so I sent off a panicked email about that.

Then I spent more time thinking and researching online and obsessing and obsessing. Homes in Abu Dhabi are often referred to as "on island" or "off island". Abu Dhabi is an island with bridges that go "off island" and people can live "on island" where they are much closer to the city center but there's more traffic, cruddy parking for guests, sometimes bigger homes. You can live off island but it can take 20-40 minutes to get to some things but it can be a tighter community feel and there might be a community center/pool/play area for your compound (subdivison).

So....I obsessively looked around for "good" and "bad" places to live and shot off an email requesting certain areas.


It was explained that the government has 123 lease properties in their inventory. Some are flats (apartments) and some are villas (townhomes) and based on Brian's grade and family size we would qualify for a certain type of villa. However - I have no idea how many that leaves us with and if we get to choose from there or where in Abu Dhabi they are located.

Then...I continued to read my packet of information and explains that there is a housing board (7 people) that review the applications and suggestions and decide where you are going to live. Hopefully we find out soon!

Brian got notified today that he will be attending a class in Georgia during the month of May (a few weeks in the middle) and then will need to report shortly after.

So...I am trying to create a timeline for myself, however there are some key details that are yet to be decided (by Brian's employer). So - here's my rough idea of the next few weeks:
Week of 3/27 - Move everything to garage for Garage Sale
Week of 4/3 - Organize & Price for Garage Sale
Weekend - Have Garage Sale
Week of 4/10 - Dispose of whatever we didn't sell. Receive notice of Medical Clearance. Receive official notice of Brian's EOD (entry date)
Weekend - Isabella's Birthday Party
Week of 4/18 - Brian is in DC for training & survey to assess
time to pack everything
Weekend - Easter
Week of 4/25 - Strip things off the walls. Patch & Paint Walls
Week of 5/2 - Schedule Packing Day
Week of 5/9 - Schedule Car Shipping Day
Week of 5/16 - Schedule Movers to pack everything for Storage & Cargo Shipment
Week of 5/23 - Clean out of house to move to hotel
Week of 5/30 - Replace Carpet & schedule Merry Maids
Week of 6/6 - Relax
Week of 6/13 - Enjoy last week here
Weekend - Move to Abu Dhabi
Spend maybe an extra day in NY if we can
Week of 6/20 - Arrive in Abu Dhabi


Monday, March 21, 2011

You Tube - What I would rather see there

Do you ever get forwarded a video on You Tube and then find yourself sucked in for hours looking at random other videos?

I thought this looked amazing and it's on my to do list when we get there, assuming I get the nerve and have xanax with me.

So then I started looking for other videos of Abu Dhabi, where we will actually be living.

I also found that one and it's another thing to add to the to do list....but these are more like things to do if you're on vacation.

I want a video about things I'd enjoy on my day to day.....

I found videos about The Emirates Palace, the Grand Mosque, concerts, tennis matches, triathalons. It was all very interesting to watch.

However, where is the video about the grocery store, the Mommy & Me Classes, walking at the park, a typical house, driving (although I found videos about 200 car accidents between Dubai/Abu Dhabi).

I suppose I won't get what it's really like there for me until I live there....only a couple months to go.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Getting Organized

I have always known that I'm not much of an auditory learner, but with this move it's become REALLY obvious.

I don't seem to retain much when I hear it, as opposed to reading it. You know how you sit down to a board game and someone offers to read the instructions if it's a new game or something? I ALWAYS have to read them myself to process it.

I don't do well when I have to sit and listen to lectures either. I have to read it to get it.

So....with this move, Brian is constantly updating me on things. I am CONSTANTLY asking the same questions a million times. The poor guy gets pretty frustrated. It's not that I don't listen, I just didn't write it down anywhere so it's not planted in my brain that's all. I try to listen and I try to pay attention, but it never fails that I ask him the same thing day after day. When do we hear about such and such? Who is going to call you about this and that? What has to happen before we find out that thing? So...when do we hear about such and such?

I decided to make a big book with EVERYTHING in it that I needed. I had all intentions of doing this when it all started, but we just had folders upon folders in different places or emails upon emails. I finally feel organized.

I have checklists, I have names & numbers in one area. There's just so much to keep track of and it comes from so many different places: Medical, Passport, Visa, Training, Home Rental, New Home, Shipping the car, Shipping our belongings, Storing our belongings, Travel.

I feel clearer when I'm organized. I like to write things down and check them off and have it all be in one place.

Brian got notified that he will be going to DC for his one week training in mid-April so I got to check something else off my list today and that always feel good!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Roller Coaster is on an Upswing

I'm finding that I'm being more positive when people ask about our big move. A lot of it really seems to depend on someone's reaction. When they talk about what a great opportunity/adventure/experience it all is - it makes me excited about it and I really focus on all the positive. When someone asks if I'm nervous about what's been going on in that part of the world, I get defensive (I'm not worried by the way). When people talk about how hard it must be to move away from my mom and friends - it makes me sad and I start to think about how hard that's going to be.

So----I'm trying to focus on the positive!

As for the process - our passport stuff has been received in DC, all of our medical is done except for Brian getting his TB test checked on Monday and then that's all good and done. Next is applying for visas. I'm working on the house rental stuff - I've started filling out all the paperwork and will be mailing off my first set of stuff on Monday. We are waiting to hear if they have acquired funding for a temporary person since this will determine when Brian has to go. I'm also anxious to get confirmation that the kids are registered for school. Once Brian's medical has been received next week, they can acquire our villa - can't wait!!! I want to see pictures and know all the details about it so I can determine what to ship and get my bearings of what area of the island we will be living on.

I have been working on getting through the house stuff. Did the foyer and the front coat closet this week, along with the under-stairs storage. The plan this weekend is to do the den and den closet, games closet and finish sorting the 3 bins from the under-stairs storage. I'm also hoping to finally finish the taxes. Otherwise, we just have Bella's last soccer game and a girl scout cookie selling stint.

It's feeling good to get rid of stuff.

I went through my jewelry a couple weeks ago and finally managed to go and sell it for cash at a local Coin Store (way better deal than anywhere at the mall by the way) - got $1450. Crazy to make that much off of jewelry that was broken or sitting in my jewelry box not being worn!

Well now - it's off to bed and thoughts of positive productivity for the weekend.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spilled Milk

My morning started out bright and early when the phone rang for a phone-appointment at 6:30 a.m. to talk to someone helping to start the Property Management issue with renting out our home. This was after waking up three times during the night because I was sure I wasn't going to hear the alarm or the phone ringing. Ugh. Started out tired, not a good way to start the day.

The phone call lasted about 40 minutes as the woman explained what they would be handling and what the 1-2 other people she would be contacting to contact me would be handling. THE most difficult thing is ALL the people involved in this. You would think it would great to have so many people handling all the little issues - one person to handle the shipping of the car, someone else to handle the packing of the house, someone else to handle the acquiring of the house there, someone else to handle registering the kids for school, someone else to handle blah, blah, blah, blah. Sigh.

So after our conversation ended with a commitment to send me an email summarizing the conversation and 4-5 pages of forms to fill out about our house, I was able to hang up and get on with my day. I showered, readied myself for they gym and got lunches packed and kids ready to head out the door.

Dropped off the kids, headed to the gym for a nap in the sauna (ahhhhh), followed by 30 minutes on the treadmill and 30 minutes of zumba. I was feeling much better.

I picked up Cameron from the Kids Club (gym daycare) and he LOVES it there and USUALLY has no problem when it's time to go.


He refused to wash his hands because he didn't want to let go of the car that was in his hand and wanted to take it home. I had to explain that it belonged to Kids Club and would have to stay here to play with later. THAT did not go over well. I pried it from his tiny hands and passed it off to one of the workers. Then, I scooped up a fidgety, heavy, crying Cameron to head down the hall. I put him down for a moment to open the gate and he ran - screaming and crying for the Kids Club to get "his" car back. I scooped him up again and tried to head out without putting him down.

He continued to cry and squirm and ask for his car. Ugh!

We reached the lobby and I asked if he wanted a string cheese or a milk before we left. He asked for chocolate milk. We didn't have a straw so I patiently opened it up and let him drink a few sips from the 16 ounce bottle. He was still not happy.

Now - he was screaming for the chocolate milk.


I decided - what the heck? We are running late for gymnastics. He is unhappy, cranky and probably a little tired. Why not hand him an almost full bottle of chocolate milk - in my only a month old car - and let him drink it as I'm driving 40 mph down the street. Sigh.

As I'm heading down the road, i can see him placing his chocolate milk into the cup holder on the car door and all is well. I'm just about ready to drive onto the freeway (after glancing at the clock and seeing that I have 2 minutes to drive 10 minutes across town to his gymnastics class that we are running late for because he was throwing such a fit at the gym).

When ......

He yells.
I turn my head in time to see almost 16 ounces of chocolate milk spilling onto the door, the floor, my jacket, a library book, the diaper bag, his jacket.....ugh!!

I pull over and try not to cry or laugh as I'm staring at the GIGANTIC MESS of what will soon be stinky, sour milk in my beautiful car!!!!

I have about 4 baby wipes that don't go very far in cleaning up the mess. I then notice the tablecloth thing that is folded up under his car seat to help balance it and remove that and attempt to soak up milk with that (it is not absorbent and doesn't work too well). Sigh.

The milk is now mostly cleaned up and I'm staring at a box filled with brown, gross diaper wipes, a chocolate milk covered diaper, diaper bag, two jackets and a book and I feel like I'm about to cry.

I am debating about going home but figure - better late than never to gymnastics class and perhaps it will lift both our moods.

We take off and get there 15 minutes late, just in time for the end of parachute play. He plays, I play - we have fun and moods are lifted. Phew.

Afterwards, I make a few phone calls and manage to find somewhere that can take care of my problem. I drive over to http://www.finaltouchautospa.com/ to have them take care of it. They got me in right away and we were out of there in about 30 minutes and it cost me $27. The car looks good and only time will tell.

I just hope the 120 degree weather of Abu Dhabi doesn't bring out the smell of lingering chocolate milk.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Starting to Sort

I know our move is right around the corner and I really want to sort through things sooner rather than later.

We've had some communication from the movers and they will come and pack and ship everything. It was explained that if we pack it ourselves, it won't be covered for insurance purchases. In theory, it sounds easy to have someone come to your house and have you point around for them to pack things up. But - I KNOW we don't want to take everything and so I'm working on making piles in the garage....
2 - Items for storage. I don't need the kids memorabilia stuff for the next three years or some of our furniture stuff (it will be furnished)
3 - Items to ship.

I started with our under-the-stairs-storage. Now all that's in there are items to come with us. It feels great to whittle down the junk. I figure I'll take care of closets one by one and the garage will take several days alone. I plan to get rid of all the towels, sheets and bathroom decor and buy new stuff from Bed/Bath/Beyond before we leave - I first need to learn how many bathrooms we will have in the new house and what size beds we'll have. We plan to get rid of all the dishes too (I was ready for a new set). I'll also really pair down the kitchen stuff. I'm not sure why I have 6- 9x13 pyrex dishes??? I might have to do a two-weekend garage sale.

I will be having a conversation with the Property Manager tomorrow. The government contracts through a company called Dwellworks. I think it's just the initial call about our place. Our neighbors have friends who may be interested, but it all depends on timing.

So....we have to get the medical stuff completed (Brian is the last one with an appointment and that's this Friday and then it takes a week or two??? for lab work to be done) and it all gets sent to DC. So, I figure by the week of March 21st the medical will be done and the passports should be done.

Then when medical is done, our house can be acquired. Then I'll know.....
How furnished it is
What else I need to ship
How many bathrooms it has
What size are beds in the bedrooms

Then we will get a better idea of the EOD (forget what it stands for - estimated occupation date? estimated overseas deployment? effective occupancy date??) and we can work backwards from that. Depending on when he needs to be there will depend on...
when we leave
when the car ships
when our stuff ships
when we can rent our house

We have lists of different people that handle different things and as antsy as I am to just KNOW things, I understand that STUFF needs to happen before the information is available. So....every week I learn more and meanwhile I'm working on sorting and sorting and purging and sorting.

This is the biggest move I have ever done in 36 years of life and I'm trying to exercise enough to balance out the stress-eating. I KNOW people do this all the time - but I never had ANY clue how much is involved and how emotional it all is - I swing from excitement of a new adventure and curiousness about what awaits us to sadness for leaving friends, MY MOM and familiarity.

I remember when I left home to join the Air Force (about 6 months after graduating High School) and I was so excited for a new adventure. I was leaving home and family and friends and what I knew for the last 18 years but I wasn't looking back and I wasn't sad. I don't think I had any comprehension, at the time, that I would never return to what it was. I didn't realize it until much later that it's never the same after you leave home. Everybody goes their own way and even if I thought I would go back home, you never really do.

I think there's part of me now that understands that you can leave and never return. I think now that we will, but what if this new adventure leads us on a new path that doesn't circle back here? I think that's what makes me the saddest - what if this is it for this part of my life? What if in three years my dear friends have moved on somewhere else with their lives, what if we decide to move somewhere else, what if, what if, what if, what if.......

I've always believed that everything happens for a reason and things work out the way they are supposed to be and blah, blah, blah, blah - but that doesn't make it any easier to accept right now.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Moving Right Along, Sorta

Brian had some more communication today with a variety of people regarding the Big Move.

• Talked to his boss - he wants him as soon as possible
• Is trying to get into a one-month-long class he needs to take in GA. It's offered in May. If he gets in, he'd miss Bella's First Communion (wish she is heartbroken over - but maybe he can fly home for that weekend). Also means he would leave shortly after so we would MAYBE all go together the weekend after the kids gets out of school (June 16th-ish) If he doesn't get in, he might leave as early as April!!
• They have now been given our kids names/ages and are starting on registration for school.
• They are starting to work on acquiring us a house/home.
• He will have a conversation on Monday with the guy who helps with Renting our House, Storing our stuff while we are gone, shipping our car and shipping our stuff.
• Found out the government will cover 30 days of temporary state-side housing if our stuff has to ship before we do or we rent before we leave.

More to come next week.

If Brian doesn't get in for this class, (which means we will move there and he will have to be flown back, leaving me alone for a month while he takes it at a later date so I'm REALLY hoping he does get into the May class) he will most likely go in April or Early May and then I'll stay until July or August and then go to NY for a week and then we would pay for him to fly from AD to NY to fly back with us.

I had a momentary-freak-out when I thought we could be gone in THREE IN A HALF MONTHS!!! Wow!! That's around the corner. I was talking with one of my friends about how my emotions are swaying from up to down on not just a daily basis but a several times a day basis and I'm constantly trying to analyze it to figure out why. I'm not worried about finding grocery stores and gyms and where to get my hair done or anything like that. I know I'll find people to hang out with (eventually) and find mommy & me groups for playdates and coffee. I know the kids will find friends (eventually) and they'll find activities to be involved in. I think part of me has that insecure feeling of being replaced here and so when I come back it will be hard to fit back in where I am now. So irrational and so silly, I know. But, still - it's one of those things at the pit of my stomach that rational thinking doesn't help to make go away.

I also think about what I'm going to be doing when I come back here and Cameron is ready to go off to Kindergarten and I have mass amounts of time on my hands. What if I do nothing for three years but have coffee hours and playdates and shop and then I come back here and have to do something. Brian told me that I don't have to go back to work when Cameron starts school unless I end up doing nothing but shopping all the time. I'm so fortunate to have a husband who values having a Stay at Home Mom in the house. Maybe I'll go back to school when I come back here or find a part time job during school hours or something.

I wonder if it's easier to just think about being here whether it's now or 3 years from now?

Am I going to move there and just do the same thing I do here with a different background? Shop, Eat, Drive kids places, do fun stuff, workout, playdates, coffee hours, etc... - my friend asked what I thought I should be doing and I really wasn't sure. I don't want to leave and come back and not feel I did enough while I was gone.

I'm in such an over-analytical place right now that I find myself spending too much time thinking about things, hence being over-analytical, right?


So easy to get lost on the little things and miss out on the big picture sometimes, not that I'm sure what the big picture is. New adventures, new place. But what new adventure should I have while I'm there? It's like those choose your own adventure books or something where I'm making it up as I go along. Not my style and so it freaks me out a little.

I feel like I need to know what I want to accomplish in three years or something. Not sure why I feel that way and that's part of the problem.

Alright - this blog became a giant ramble. I'm ending that now.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Reality Keeps Smacking Me

Not sure if I want to sit in a puddle of tears or a puddle of wine.

Sigh.....what an incredibly long-feeling day. I can't believe I went from wait, wait, wait, wait for Brian's job to get us going and now I feel like rush, rush, rush, rush.

I took all three kids (on my own - because I somehow thought I can do anything and it will be fine) - to the doctor's office this morning. Alexander & Isabella were scheduled for physicals for our overseas journey.

My children are naturally filled with anxiety - NO idea where that comes from.......

So...for the last two days Isabella has been asking questions about the visit to the doctors and asking me to show her a MILLION times what getting your blood drawn feels like and how much is hurts or how little it hurts and how long it hurts for and EXACTLY what the doctor will be doing (which I told her that I had a GENERAL idea about and not an EXACT idea).

Alexander asked if he would get shots and I said probably not. He doesn't like "probably" because it means "possibly". So yesterday Brian explained that they would all need TB tests (which is like a shot where the doctor inserts a needle under the skin and creates a bubble with some fluid). So we dealt with 100 questions about THAT.

So....this morning was like the start of any morning. We got up - dressed, lunches packed, breakfast eaten and out the door as though it was for school. But, we (me and the kids) headed to the doctor's office for an 8:30 appointment.

It started with explanations at the front desk (yes I know it's been less than a year since their physicals, yes I know insurance won't cover it, yes it will be paid for, blah, blah, blah - just like I told the three different people I already talked to on the phone about this).

EVENTUALLY got into the doctor's office. We met with a new nurse for the new doctor we were going to see since I couldn't get in with their regular pediatrician until mid-April. It took about an hour to do paperwork. Ugh! I had files with me of things to be filled out. They were weighed, measured, asked questions of, poked and prodded.

The doctor came in and checked them all out and then found out that Alexander was due for a Chicken Pox booster. Hello waterworks from my son who is shot-phobic.

I was already dealing with a nervous Isabella who kept complaining of belly aches and was ready to throw up and was hiding in the bathroom across the hall because she didn't want any kind of shot and Cameron was a crazy child who acted like he snorted sugar before coming to the doctors office. He would run out the door and down the hall, he was flicking the lights on and off, he was ripping up the paper on the table, he threw his beloved motorcycle in the garbage which I later had to don gloves to retrieve and try my best to disinfect with hand sanitizer. He was throwing magazines.

Onto hour two and we were singing songs and trying to keep each other amused.


Alexander & Bella had to get their TB bubble pricks done. I held Bella down and she survived. Alexander begged to not have a shot but eventually did just fine with a quick prick in his arm and his TB prick was no problem.

We eventually finished up and headed to the lab for blood draws - yeah!

Alexander sat stoic and fine and was done in a jif.

Isabella had to be held down by me while she cried but was eventually taken care of.

Cameron freaked out and it took me and another nurse to hold my little monkey-tank down while another nurse drew his blood.

We were finally out of there by 10:45!! (over 2 hours)

I took them off to school and left with Cameron to run to a couple consignment stores to use up some credit, grab food from Trader Joe's (where Cameron rammed me poor ankle with those cute little, deadly shopping carts) and then back to school to pick up the kids.

Now it was time for our Passport appointment at 1:15. Brian met us there and I was exhausted! It took an hour for all five of us to get pictures done, fill out paperwork and get everything sealed up in an envelope for Brian to send to DC. Meanwhile - Cameron is running on chairs, scribbling on paper, flicking the lights on and off, running down the hall, marching down the hall & screaming down the hall. It was past naptime and we were both overdue.

Finally - DONE!

Time to get Alexander back to school for his Math Olympiad - after a quick stop at McDonald's because it turns out he only packed a handisnack cracker/cheese for his lunch! Ugh! So - nasty, chemical filled, protein nuggets for him along with a side of fries that will stay in his system for the rest of the month - but at least he had food.

Then it was off to Goodwill to drop off what the consignment store didn't take, a trip to the Car Wash, load up on $3.72/gallon gas (won't miss that in Abu Dhabi) and HOME!!!!

Cameron fell asleep in the car and slept for all of 40 minutes and now we are home until Alexander has a soccer game at 7:30 (which Brian is taking him to while I clean house for people coming over in the morning).

So - we go back on Saturday afternoon for the kids to have their TB spots checked, then I have my physical next Wednesday, Cameron has his physical next Wednesday, Brian has his next Friday. But that should be it for appointments, I think.