2.28.2005

TLA is a PITA

TLA is temporary lodging allowance. Which is different than TLE - temporary lodging expense. Yeah, I know. TLA is given to those in OCONUS locations (outside the continental united states). TLE is given to those in CONUS locations.

With TLA, you are given the money in 10 day increments. So every 10 days you have to settle out your bill with temp lodging (or whatever hotel the Army has put you up in if temp lodging is filled up). Settling involves heading over to housing, filling out paperwork, getting a voucher for payment, taking that to the hotel/temp lodging, paying them, and then waiting 24-72 hours for the Army to reimburse you. Every 10 days.

Our room(s) runs $195 or so per night. So for 10 days, we're talking $2000. I don't know about YOU, but we don't necessarily HAVE $2000 just lying around. And what if you don't use/have a credit card (if you're following Dave Ramsey's teachings)?

And, according to the TLA website :

"Q7. How soon is a member required to start looking for permanent housing? (See par. U9202-A.)

A7. The member is required to begin aggressively seeking quarters as soon as possible after arrival. At the end of the first 15- or fewer-day period, the designated overseas commander has the member's case reviewed to determine the progress being made toward obtaining permanent housing. If the member's efforts appear deficient, the member is reminded of responsibilities in the matter. Unexcused failure to comply with the diligent search requirement leads TLA entitlement forfeiture."

That's fine but our HHG are not supposed to arrive until the end of March. And the Army here has stopped loaning out furniture to people living off post. SO I can't say I'm going to "aggressively" seek out a rental only to have to sleep on the floor because I don't have a BED. Nor am I going to buy ANOTHER air mattress (or 2) either. There are better things to spend money on around here.

So, I DARE any "overseas commander" to "remind" me about our "responsibilities" with regard to obtaining permanent housing at this point in time. Bring it on...

On the housing front, there are some promising prospects. We are looking at 1 place tomorrow and 4 places Wednesday including a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom WITH a loft (!) and a 2 car garage. Woohoo! A friend of McGyver's swears he won't live on the south end of the island due to traffic. We're from Los Angeles...we can handle traffic. Obviously I'd prefer to live closer to post to cut down on the commute but down south, you can get MUCH more house for your money. They are newer, bigger, and most have central a/c AND garages AND washers and dryers. It's a tradeoff. Besides, they are closer to that wonderful NEX.

Keep your fingers crossed that we find something that not only meets our needs but some of our wants too!

Aloha!

2.27.2005

Sunday Ramblings

So the search for housing has begun. Although we have a month (!) before our HHG (household goods) arrive, now is the time for us to start looking for a place to live. The wait for on-post housing is 24+ months so there is little chance of us ever getting a place. Besides, a friend of mine who NEVER cusses (never even heard her use the word "damn") actually used the S-word when describing the housing we would be offered - TWICE. So I'm thinking we'll be living off post.

We started looking in the little town just below post. With what our housing allowance is, we could probably find a decent place. But garages are hard to come by, the homes are older and crammed together (everything here is crammed together), and I'm just not impressed with what I've seen for rent so far. So we've started looking further south. Seems that we could get more for our money if we're willing to live a bit further south. There are some newer subdivisions (and even some condominium areas) that look promising.

Our primary requirements for a house include at least 3BR (preferably 4) and a garage. Central air is a bonus. I'd also like something of a yard - doesn't have to be big...there are PLENTY of parks and such in the area and the beach is always just a short drive away - so the kids can play outside while we're at home. Right now, there are 8 places on my "TO SEE" list. With it being the end of the month, I suspect that we will see even more promising listings next week as tenants begin to give their 30 day notices. I'd like to find something that won't be available until after April 1st so that we can wait for our HHG to get to the island. The idea of spending even one night on an air mattress makes my back hurt just THINKING about it.

In other news, we ventured down to the NEX at Pearl Harbor yesterday. Oh. My. Goodness. WHO needs Target??? Seriously. And those of you who know me KNOW what kind of a comment that is. The NEX is awesome! I doubt I will ever set foot inside the PX here on post unless I absolutely cannot afford the drive time down to Pearl. Two stories. TWO! They have every product you can think of - books, clothes, appliances (small and large), camping/fishing/sports/scuba gear, toys, toiletries, stationary, Aloha stuff, cosmetics, YOU NAME IT. There is also a big food court, the commissary (not much more impressive than the one here on post though. BUT that's a HUGE improvement over the Charlie Foxtrot that was the commissary at Campbell...). I am in love!

Combine the NEX with the Ala Moana shopping center, the Pearl Ridge Mall, and the other smaller malls in the area and I'm good to go. Now if there were only a way to get In & Out here...

Little Man's birthday was pretty much a non-event. But he's 1 and could care less. We went out for ice cream and he got a new toy this morning so he's happy. And so is his sister - she's having more fun with his toy than he is. He's more interested in the box it came in.

He has a new nickname...Bear Trap. The boy has a knack of getting his feet tangled up in any and all wires/cables,obstacles on the floor. He even got his foot caught in the mini fridge here in the room (don't ask). So McGyver calls him Bear Trap. It may stick.

Princess Trouble is going to get a new nickname - Princess WHY. I swear, the child asks "why?" at least 50 times per day. It has to be reflex. I understand that a child who asks so many questions tends to be very intelligent but man, sometimes average intelligence seems like a blessing. And she's sassy. We're working on an appropriate way of dealing with it. My first reaction is to pop her on the behind but I don't see that as being very successful. She responds better to a harsh tone of voice from us and some form of consequence - the loss of a priviledge or a toy. And I don't know WHAT it is about the car but she must have a "Jabbernonstop" button in her butt. As soon as she gets into that carseat, her mouth starts going at 100 mph. I'm sure I was the same way. My POOR parents...thank you for not killing me.

McGyver is out looking at a car. He was *this* close to buying a Miata yesterday but someone else got there first. I wasn't too keen on the idea of a 2 seater but I'm bummed that he didn't get it. It seemed like a good deal. Hopefully he finds something soon - before he has to go back to work.

My friend who is pregnant and in the hospital is doing better but it looks like she's going to be stuck there until the baby is born. But you do whatever you need to do to make sure your baby is healthy. Keep those good thoughts coming!

And - for those of you who remember Cameron (the little baby with the hernia whose Daddy was in Iraq)...his daddy is home!!! They are adjusting well to life as a family again and his mom (Karen) is thrilled to have him home safe and sound. They are amazing people.

That's it for now.

Aloha!

2.26.2005

Lazy Saturdays

Well, the search for a swim suit is over. First, I ask you what kind of ding dong genius packs for Hawaii and DOESN"T pack a swim suit?? Me. Sometimes I wonder where I left my brain. I remembered to pack suits for the kids. McGyver remembered to pack his suit. Did I? No. I remember going through my swim gear bag and trying to figure out which suit to take. But I didn't put on in my suitcase. Nor did I put it in the box I shipped to a friend. Ah, well.

I'm finding more and more things to like about this place (not that I was having trouble liking this place but it just keeps getting better and better). I love Gap Body. Love it. But finding a store anywhere near me was tough. There's one here! Yay! I went in looking for a few items and found that they carry swimsuits too! one-piece swimsuits! In normal colors (well, black. But that's a normal color). And for only $34! WOOHOO! So, not only did I get 3 bras for the price of 2 (love those sales), I found a swimsuit. Of course, it's raining and cool today. But I have a swimsuit!!!

A friend of mine is in need of prayers. She's 21 weeks pregnant with her first baby - a girl - and her water broke yesterday. She's in the hospital and the "leak" has stopped but it's still worriesome and scary. The hope is that she can make it to 24 weeks - each month, each week adds a percentage of survival. I cannot imagine how tough this must be. The thought of losing my baby before even knowing her would decimate me. I'm hoping to go see her this coming week.

Other than that, not a whole lot going on. Today is Little Man's birthday. I went to Wal-Mart (can't say I'm impressed with the WMs here...then again, I'm just not impressed with WM in general...man I miss Target!) and bought him a new Little People toy. I would love to find a 5 bedroom house and devote 1 bedroom entirely to Little People toys. They are great.

We're off to run errands today and look at rental properties (not that we plan to move out of temp lodging anytime soon).

Time flies

My baby boy will be 1 year old tomorrow. Hard to believe that it's been a year. And what a year it has been. Hard, wonderful, stressful, glorious, joyful, frustrating, and something I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.

Little Man amazes me on a daily, if not hourly, basis. His personality is fascinating. Different from his sister in so many ways yet similar in others. And to watch the two of them together makes my heart swell. NO ONE makes him laugh like she does. No one. The laugh that he gives to her is music to my ears. He adores her and she loves him. She has from the day he was born. All of the worry, all of the guilt about having to divide my attention - it was all for nothing. She revels in her role as a big sister and he loves it too. Of course, he knows no different...

Part of me (like any parent, I suspect) wants him to stay just the way he is. I LOVE this age (well, except for the part where he puts EVERYTHING in his mouth). I love watching him learn new things and I love the way his face lights up when he comes running to us. And then part of me wants him to keep growing and learning and changing - I suspect most parents want this for their kids too.

My only true hope is that the next year is as wonderful as the past year was and that he continues to grow to be a wonderful Little Man.

I love you baby boy - more than life itself. Happy birthday!!

2.23.2005

A Better Day

A little better. I don't know what it is about mornings - they are just chaotic. Princess Trouble tends to be whiny and clingy and demanding when she wakes up (it's worse after her nap but I'm not a morning person). And between trying to get her fed, deal with Little Man, get us ready for whatever we have going on, etc. I usually just want to crawl back in bed and call it a day.

But things got better as the morning went on. McGyver figured out what the problem with my car was and I found a place with rebuilt starters for a lot less than I had expected. I had the car this morning so I loaded the kids into it and off we went to Honolulu. We missed most of the traffic (though, by Los Angeles standards, the traffic here isn't that bad) and found the repair place and picked up the part. I actually ACCOMPLISHED something today. Better than yesterday.

We've decided to try and eat breakfast and lunch in our room most days - both are pretty easy meals to do with minimal prep work (and minimal cooking amenities). The Army is giving us about $140 PER DAY for food and whatever we don't spend, we keep. WORKS FOR ME!!! That's about $4000 per month for those of you without a calculator in hand. HOLY COW! So it behooves us to (quoting Dave Ramsey) eat rice and beans/beans and rice and spend as little as possible on food. $4000 per month...holy cow. Anyway, the kids and I ventured to the commissary after getting back from Honolulu. I like the commissary here. It's clean, big, well-stocked, well-organized, and it has WIDE aisles. All the things that the commissary at our last location WASN'T.

Hopefully by the time I get done typing this, McGyver will have the starter in and my car running. My friend down in KBay got my box that I shipped in the mail today. I am hoping I thought to put my swimsuit in there. I'm sick and tired of looking for a new one. And I HATE the idea of spending money on something I already own. Not to mention the fact that I have not had any luck finding one appropriate for my body...

Dinner tonight at Outback. We're thinking of buying a crock pot and toaster oven. We're not supposed to cook in our rooms (other than with the microwave) but I'm about done with eating out and could really go for something that resembles a home-cooked meal. I can do a lot with a crock pot and a toaster oven...

2.22.2005

One of THOSE days

McGyver started "in-processing" today. So he took the car. Which means the kids and I were stuck in the hotel until he got back. They are already starting to climb the walls. There is a deli in the main building and they do breakfast so we head down there for breakfast. There is a bowl of fresh fruit on the menu - sounds delicious. But they don't have it. Great. 0 for 1.

After breakfast, we wandered down to ACS (Army Community Services) to pick up some information on some things - dance classes for Princess Trouble (starts in March - $33 a month for tap, ballet, and tumbling), youth services registration (so I can use the hourly care facilities for day care), swimming lesson information (pool doesn't open up again until March), and information on their lending closet. The lending closet is operated by ACS and loans out pots, pans, dishes, etc. to people moving here who don't have their stuff yet. Army Housing lends the furniture. Used to be that they lent it to you regardless of whether you lived on post or off. Well, they stopped lending furniture to people residing off post. Great. The waiting list for us for on post housing is 24 months. Our household goods won't get here until the end of March. So we're stuck. We could rent a house but have nothing to sleep on, sit on, or eat on. Joy. 0 for 2.

We needed a post office box too. I went to the post office on post and they don't have post office boxes. Great. So I find the post office in town and there's a WAITING LIST. Great. I'm now 0 for 3 today.

I'm still in search of a reasonably priced 1-piece swimsuit for myself. There is a Ross in town so I decide to head over there to check it out. Nothing. Unless I want to blind everyone with my white belly. I don't think so. I'm now 0 for 4.

Come back and go with the family to lunch. They have BLT's - one of my favorites and it sounded perfect. But they were out of bacon. I'm now 0 for 5 on the day. Don't think I could hit water if I fell out of a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean today.

Is it bedtime yet? I'm done with this day. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. Hopefully housing will have some good news for us - a 4 bedroom house with a garage for less than our housing allowance in a wonderful area of town. Or maybe McGyver will get my car running again and it won't cost us $250 to replace the starter. Maybe...

Have I mentioned how much I HATE moving? How much I hate being unsettled? How much I hate having to learn a new place all over again? Don't get me wrong - this place is wonderful and I'll probably be very sad to leave when the time comes. But right now I'm feeling homesick, unsettled, and lonely. Blech.

Living in paradise

I knew things couldn't go 100% smoothly. Just not our style.

We had plans Sunday to head up to the North Shore and hit the beach. First we needed to swing by the PX and pick up hats, sunscreen, etc. So we did so and when we came out and got in the car, it decided not to start. Great. But what would one expect from a 12 year old car with almost 160,000 miles on it? It's been a WONDERFUL car. McGyver set to work on it with the few tools he had on hand - a Leatherman and a screwdriver. After about an hour, he broke down and had me call our roadside assistance. While we're waiting for the tow truck to come to us, I decide to call the insurance company and get the ball rolling on changing our insurance information and while I'm on the phone with them, the car starts. Halleujah! So we cancel the tow and head back to the hotel. My husband is SO handy!

Once we get back, it dies again (or, rather, fails to start) so McGyver sets to work on it with the tools he now has on hand - Leatherman, screwdriver, crescent wrench, and multimeter. The kids and I take naps. Two hours, 3 trips on foot to the PX to buy tools, and $100 later and we *think* it's the solenoid for the starter. But the auto shop is now closed (as is the rental car place) so we're stuck. Great.

The auto shop doesn't open again until Wednesday. McGyver doesn't have the tools (not the manual to the car) that he needs to tear into it properly and get the starter off so my poor car will sit until Wednesday. Luckily, there is a rental car place (thank GOD for Enterprise!) on post and we at least have transportation.

So we finally made it to the North Shore today. We ventured out to Haleiwa Beach. Wonderful beach - it's in a cove so the 15-30 foot waves that are notorious on the North Shore didn't get to us. Princess Trouble LOVED frolicking in the water and even became brave enough to let McGyver take her out to where she couldn't stand. Little Man did what he always does - he tried to eat the sand, the rocks, the sticks...you name it. I was so busy trying to make sure the kids were slathered in sunscreen that I forgot to get my FEET. Ouch. Won't make THAT mistake again.

After the beach, we stopped in Haleiwa for lunch - Haleiwa Joe's seafood grille. Yum. I had the grilled scallops on a bed of cilantro-ginger slaw and garlic bread. Delicious. Then we wandered a bit, looking for a swim suit for me (because I managed to pack everything BUT one of my suits...duh). I have come to the conclusion that there are absolutely NO 1-piece swimsuits on this island for people who do not wear anything smaller than a size 14. Seriously. I must have looked in 7 or 8 different shops and NOT ONE 1-piece suit. Not even at Wal-Mart! Do swimsuit manufacturers not realize exactly how pale I truly am? Do they not realize that my belly has not seen the sun EVER?? I would have to pass out sunglasses to every person on the beach if I were to wear one of the 2-piece suits they have for sale. I'm not looking for anything spectacular. Just something in my size that isn't butt-ugly and doesn't cost $75. Maybe I'm asking too much.

But North Shore was wonderful and I can see heading back there often although we will make more of an effort to get there earlier and leave earlier - traffic on the way back was S-L-O-W.

This place is beautiful. Lush, rich, breathtaking. You name it. I love it.

2.20.2005

Aloha!!!

We made it. We're HERE!! Still a little hard to believe but the warm sun, the crisp blue sky (unimpeded by smog), the puffy white clouds, the GREEN hillsides, and the beautiful blue OCEAN pretty much make it real. And the smell - oh my goodness - it's luscious. Clean, sweet, indescribable. Holy COW - we live in HAWAII!!!

The flight over was thankfully uneventful - much to the surprise to the cranky woman in the seat in front of me and Little Man. As we sit down, Little Man makes a noise. Cranky Woman makes the comment (loud enough for me and those around us to hear), "There should be a SEPARATE area for that." THAT sets a lovely tone for the flight...but Little Man was good. He fussed rarely. Slept for a few hours. Works for me.

We were able to pick up my car the day we arrived so we were able to take the rental car back yesterday. Saved us $300+. We stopped in at the Hickam AFB carnival after dropping the car off and then went over to this WONDERFUL open air shopping center - the Ala Moana - to have lunch at Bubba Gump's. I was able to meet several women (and their husbands. McGyver sat with Bill, Bob, and Brad...BBB) from a Hawaii Spouse board I frequent. It was nice to put faces with names. Great women. That's one of the things I love best about being a military spouse - the networking that takes place and the fact that I *knew* people here before ever setting foot on the island.

Today we are planning to head up to the North Shore and take a peek up there. Pick up some shave ice (snow cone for those of you who don know the lingo). See the waves. Stick our toes in the water.

Then we're off to scope out some areas to look for housing. The wait for on-post housing for us is currently 24 months. Yeah - I don't think so. Besides, for the amount of money we're allotted, we can get much more off post than on. We're hoping to get a 4 bedroom with a garage. We'll see. We need to have a guest room - we already have people planning visits!

McGyver (The Husband) starts his "in-processing" this week. Fun. Even more fun when you only have 1 car. Guess the kids and I will be hanging out at the hotel room. We need to get the windshield replaced on the car and then get a safety inspection done. I feel nekkid driving around without a little sticker on the rear bumper of my car. Hopefully they won't make me replace the headlights too. The windshield is going to set us back several hundred bucks as it is. Funny thing is, it's almost a de facto requirement to drive a car in Alaska (having a cracked windshield). But here, you'll fail your safety inspection if you have a crack. Ah, well.

Listening to the radio yesterday, a radio station broadcast a new contest - win a trip for 2 to Alaska! Think we'll enter that one. :)

We're torn as to how quickly we want to get out of temp lodging. The rooms here are not what we expected - nothing like the ones at Fort Campbell. Here, there is no high speed internet access, you have to pay for your coffee, there's no oven/stove (just a microwave and fridge), and we're right on the main road so it's noisy. But is it better than living in a house with no furniture? We don't even have an air mattress. Guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

For now, we are off to swim in the ocean. Aloha!

2.18.2005

Adventures in moving - part 11...off we go...

...into the wild blue yonder!

I'm still having a tough time wrapping my brain around the concept that, as of this time tomorrow we will be not only IN Hawaii but technically LIVING there. Wow. Gotta love Army life. Who would have thought? Surely not me. When McGyver (my new moniker for The Husband...that's his actual nickname...and it fits) came home that day in September and told me we were being moved AGAIN and that our "options" were Fort Drum, Fort Hood, Hawaii, or Korea I figured that - with our luck - we'd wind up with an assignment to either Fort Hood or Korea. Neither is top on my list of "Places I Want To Live". Sorry Kolleen. I know you love Texas.

But when McGyver got the e-mail that posed the question, "Do you want Alaska or Hawaii?" I almost fell over from shock. And I don't think that shock has worn off yet.

Got an e-mail from a friend this evening that said, "Some people love to live in Hawaii & others just prefer to vacation...we'll see what you think after 3 years!" I'm definitely a "bloom where you're planted" type of person. I really have better things to do with my time and energy than hate where I'm living. And, at least for the first year or two, how the hell can anyone HATE living in Hawaii?? I mean, c'mon! IT"S HAWAII!!!

Don't get me wrong - I'm still not keen on the idea of moving twice in 9 months or leaving my wonderful house or moving away from a location that was so PERFECTLY centrally located to so many friends and family members and actually had SEASONS. But HELLO! IT"S HAWAII!!! Can't bitch about that. Really.

I'm just hoping I can get something that resembles a TAN...(those of you who know me, STOP LAUGHING.)

aloha!

2.12.2005

The Flats vs. the Hills

We're back home for a few days, visiting family and friends, before flying across to Hawaii. We've been sick all week (JUST how I wanted to spend my time in SoCal...) but I *had* to get out today and get my hair cut. Tomorrow is Little Man's baptism and I don't need to be looking as shaggy as I was looking. Not to mention cabin fever had set in BIG TIME and I needed some fresh air.

So I paid about $10 too much for a mediocre haircut (I'm going to miss Kathy...$11.95 for a good haircut) and then decided to drive around and see what all (if anything) had changed in the year+ since I had been back home.

Let me give you a little background...my hometown is a small suburb of Los Angeles. Growing up, it was referred to as a "retirement community" because we had a large population of retirees in the area. Now, it's more just an extension of Los Angeles - multicultural, crowded, and overdeveloped. But it's still HOME and it always will be. I was not a beach bum nor was I a "Valley Girl" - I kind of fell in between those two stereotypes during my childhood. It was a good childhood - spent playing with my neighborhood friends in our backyards, riding bikes, playing Kick-the-Can in the street on warm nights, sleeping over, exploring our block. A good childhood.

There are 2 parts to my hometown - The Hills and The Flats. The Husband is from The Hills. The houses are bigger - mansion-like almost - and the lawns are professionally manicured and landscaped. It's nice. But I always feel slightly out of place up there. Even for the year that I lived with my in-laws, I still felt kind of like an imposter.

The moment I cross over the overpass back in to The Flats, I relax. It's subconscious. The Flats are more familiar, more comfortable, more relaxed. Less pretentious. I feel at home among the bungalow-style homes closely spaced with wide, flat front lawns stretching out to the sidewalk. You don't see too many 2-story houses in The Flats. There are some but they tend to stand out as opposed to The Hills where 2-story houses are the norm. Most of the homes in The Flats were built around the time of WWII - either during or right after. Some have been remodled but many still retain their suburban, baby-boomer charm.

Most of the over-development that plagues the city has taken place on The Hill so The Flats are still pretty much what they were when I was growing up. That adds to the familiarity.

My old house is different - 3 different owners have left their mark on it in ways I don't really like. Gone are the atrium, the unique Chinese detail on the front wall, the one-of-a-kind picture window on the side wall of the living room, the bouganvilla that climbed the chimney, the white rocks on the roof. I miss that house. I stil harbor a bit of resentment toward my parents for selling it and moving. I understand, mentally, why they moved but on an emotional level I miss my childhood.

Driving around today was nice. It was nice to feel like I was home again. There has only been one other place that has made me feel like that and that is northern Colorado. It's a good feeling.

Sometimes I wonder if my children will have that same nostalgia. Being a military family doesn't really lend itself to staying in one spot and putting roots down. There is a sadness in me when I think that my kids will never have the familiarity with their surroundings that I had with mine. They will never know each nook and crany of a house like they know the back of their hand. They will never have the same depth of memories about a path taken on the way home from elementary school like I do.

I wonder if, when they become adults, certain smells will evoke sharp memories for them liek they do for me. The smell of a Camellia bush or a white grapefruit tree or a blossoming orange tree can whisk me back to my childhook instantaneously. All I have to do is close my eyes and I can *almost* smell it now. Almost.

We took the kids to the park this afternoon to let them play for a bit.Princess Trouble rode around on a tricycle while Little Man dug around in the sand for anything to put in his mouth. I got sand in my shoes for the first time in YEARS. What a wonderful feeling.

I suppose I am blessed. Many people do not have such wonderful memories of their childhoods and do not miss them like I miss mine. What a blessing for me. I pray I can help bestow that blessing on my children.

2.10.2005

Tricare - a shining example of the pitfalls of socialized medicine

So Little Man comes down with a rash 2 days before we are scheduled to leave and fly to CA and then on to Hawaii. Of course it's a Saturday so there are no appointments to be had. The earliest I could possibly get him in is Monday but The Husband will be doing his final clearing then (mind you, we have 1 car at this point) and most likely, they wouldn't be able to get him in anyway.

We are due to check out of lodging with our 10 pieces of checked baggage, 3 pieces of carry on baggage, 2 car seats, and kids at 1200 hours on Monday and be on the road to the airport no later than 1400 (that's 2pm for those of you not familiar with military time). There was no way.

But the rash didn't seem bad and it didn't seem to bother him - no fever, no other symptoms. Nothing. By Monday, the rash is worse but still not awful and I finally figure out that maybe it's his amoxicillin that is causing it so I stop giving it to him. He was supposed to be on it for 10 days but he got 8. Ah, well. I figure if it is the amoxicillin that is causing it, it will go away now that he's off the med. Nope. By the time we get to CA, his rash was worse. A LOT worse. I started thinking it might be the Measles so I called Tricare to get authoirzation to take him to a local Pediatrician that I know accepts Tricare (had to take Princess Trouble there once when she was a baby and we were visiting LA). I spend 30 minutes on the phone with a rep from Tricare who eventually tells me I have to call back to our clinic and get authorization from our PCM (Primary Care Manager) - Tricare can't give me the authorization. So I call our clinic and speak with the Triage nurse. I tell her the situation and she very curtly informs me that she can't do anything for me and that I need to call Tricare for the authorization. Excuse me? I try to explain that I *just* got off the phone with them and they informed me that the responsibility lies with my PCM, not them. She tells me no...it's TRICARE'S responsibility and that I need to access the Health Care Finder system to get authorization and then HANGS UP ON ME.

I was good - I didn't call back and ream her out. I called Tricare back and spoke with yet another rep and explained the situation, once again. He told me that he didn't know why the nurse at our clinic would not help me - it's THEIR responsibility - but that he would put in a note that I tried to gain authorization but could not and then he tried to transfer me to Management. After another 15 minutes on hold, I gave up and hung up. Called the Pediatrician's office and got Little Man an appointment for the next day. Had I been able to call that morning rather than sit on the phone all morning long, I might have been able to take him in that day. But no. Gotta love Tricare.

I never did get authorization. Took him in this afternoon and when we get there, the receptionist asks for our insurance card. She calls them and they tell her that Little Man isn't in the system. The rest of us are but he is not. ????? So I get on the phone and find out that not only is Little Man not in the system (I've personally been to the Tricare Service Center twice to rectify this matter), our eligibility address was at one location while our CLAIMS address was at another. And, of course, each address is in a different region so he had no idea WHO to direct me toward.

I finally said screw it and hung up. Told the receptionist that I would just pay cash and deal with these idiots later. I have $10 that says they deny my claim because we didn't have "out of network authorization from Little Man's PCM".

Those of you who like the idea of the government (or any other large scale buracracy) running any aspect of your life, beware.

There is a military acronym "CF" or "Charlie Foxtrot". That is what Tricare is and that is what any kind of socialized health care system will be. Those of you who don't know what a "CF/Charlie Foxtrot" is, e-mail me and I'll let you know.

2.05.2005

Adventures in moving - part 10

Well, we are catless, stuffless, and soon-to-be homeless. Feels kind of good. Once we clear housing Monday and are on our own, it will feel really good. Like my friend Shannon, I enjoy moving because it's like a mini family vacation. The Husband has no work to go to, we have no classes or errands to attend to - it's just US.

We had THIRTEEN crates of stuff this time. I'm hoping that we don't go over our weight allowance. We're allotted 13,500 pounds. ONe of the crates was for The Husband's motorcycle so that really doesn't count. So twelve crates and a motorcycle. Damn, that's a lot of stuff. My goal each time we move is to have LESS weight than the last time. This is the first move we've made where the military has shipped ALL of our stuff so this will give us a truly accurate measure of how much we have. Hopefully when we leave the rock we're moving to, we'll have LESS weight than when we came.

Know what the sad thing is? I had 20 bags of stuff at my yard sale today. TWENTY! And this was our second yard sale since we got here. Most of it was kids' clothes so that tells me I need to stop buying the kids so many clothes. And toys. Got rid of a lot of those today too. So I think I will impose a moratorium on clothes buying and limit us to only things that we need to get through a week or so. No need for 15 pair of shorts when we really only need and use 7.

I am sad that the cats are gone but not as sad as I thought I would be. The home they went to seems to be a good one and it sure does make life easier for us. I do hope they like their new home.

Other than that, there's really nothing remarkable to comment on. I'll be taking a break for a few days until we get settled in California. Take care and have a good week!


'night

2.02.2005

Adventures in moving - part 9

We are pretty much packed and about 2/3 of the way loaded. They are coming back tomorrow for the rest of the boxes and the big stuff - couch, entertainment center, BEDS (yes, I get another night in my own bed!!! I am so thankful!), etc. This has been a pretty good move so far. The first (government) move we made from Alaska to Alabama was stressful because we didn't know what to expect and we were worried that we were going to go over on weight. The second move from Alabama to here was stressful because our moving company SUCKED, there were tornadoes on 2 days of the move, and we just wanted to get the heck out of Rucker. This time though, I knew what to expect and our packers know what they are doing so my stress level has dropped a few notches. Now if I could just get rid of this darned cold...

Speaking of cold, *I'M* cold. I am about done with winter. I was excited when it finally turned cold after having been in the south for almost 2 years and not really experiencing a winter. But right now it's wet and cold and my knees are KILLING me. I'm about ready for some sun and warmth. I'm sure I'll be missing the cooler temps come fall but right now, I have visions of sitting on the beach, watching my kids frolick in the waves.

We have been blessed on this move. We already have wonderful friends waiting for us in Hawaii. We had enough notice with this move to be able to spend ample (though not enough) time with family and friends in the area, our movers are top notch, the people at transportation, travel finance, and housing have been helpful and accomodating (especially the people at travel - they went WAY beyond the call of duty to get us the flight itinerary we wanted...they got homemade chocolate chip cookies :). The timing of our visit to CA is working out well. It's all going really well which is a HUGE blessing.

The Husband sold his car too. It was just a beater but it's sold and he sold it for what he paid for it and the guy who bought it is willing to wait until Sunday to pick it up. And the people who were interested in the cats *should* be picking them up tonight (please keep your fingers crossed on that one).

I will be glad when the unaccompanied baggage is picked up Friday, when the yard sale is over Saturday, and when we clear housing and get on the road to the airport Monday.

What an adventure.

Adventures in moving - part 8

Day 1 of the movers being here and it's going well. They seem to know what they are doing which is a nice change from the people who packed us last time. We're STILL waiting for the settlement on that claim...

The people that I thought were going to take the cats seem to be backing out. I'm not sure what I will do with the kitties but I'll figure something out.

I was driving back from the store tonight and realized I am going to miss this place. I just got past missing our friends at Fort Rucker and now I am going to have to give this place up too. At the same time, I'm thrilled to be moving to Paradise. And I already have 2 friends over there that I am really looking forward to spending time with.

The movers were kind enough to leave our bed unpacked. One of the hardest things about moving (aside from having to say goodbye to good friends) is having to sleep on beds that aren't yours. The beds in temp lodging are adequate but not all that comfortable. Maybe the beds in Paradise are better...I hope so!

We got creative with our meals tonight. My friend, The Food Whore suggested that we military spouses write a cookbook based on all of the wonderful concoctions we make using up our food before a move. I mean, how many wonderful meals can YOU come up with that utilize dill pickles, peanut butter, and mashed potato flakes?? We had left over chicken sauted in olive oil with garlic and onion tossed in with green beans and almonds. Not bad. I still need to figure out what to do with the frozen cranberries, dijon mustard, and salsa...

I'm off to collapse into my bed for the last time (well, for a while...).


'night