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TDY – PCS – TMO – FMO….WTH is all that?

13.5 years of military acronyms. Oye! I can remember being a newly married military wife and being flat out lost when my hubby and friends were talking. Huh? What did you say? And I often thought I would NEVER ever ever understand all this.

So here is a list of some of those common military acronyms, or at least the ones I know and hear often…..

PCS – Permanent Change of Station

SFS – Security Forces Squadron

TDY – Temporary Duty Station

TMO – Traffic Management Office (the place you talk to about packing and shipping your house when you move)

FMO – Furnishings Management Office (where you get loaner furniture overseas)

HHG – Household Goods

USAFE – United States Air Force in Europe

NCO – Noncommissioned officer (SSgt to CMsgt)

AFRC – Airmen and Family Readiness Center (a place to ask just about any question)

BAH – Basic Housing Allowance

OHA – Overseas Housing Allowance (a little different then BAH, and only if overseas)

BAS – Basic Allowance for Subsistence (extra money you get for food)

COLA – Cost of Living Allowance (usually an overseas assignment gets paid this)

IPCOT – In-Place Consecutive Overseas Tour (you get to stay at your current overseas duty station for another tour)

LES – Leave and Earnings Statement (pay stub)

ALS – Airmen Leadership School

NCOA – Non Commissioned Officer Academy

AADD – Airmen Against Drunk Driving (people to call for a ride if you are drinking)

AAFES – Army and Air Force Exchange Services (BX – Base Exchange or PX – Post Exchange)

I am sure there are more, especially if I think back to the missile field days with PRP, WSA, etc. Then they have funny acronyms, like FUBAR and KISS.

I am so sure I have missed some, I just cannot remember them all at once. What are your everyday acronyms? Can you say the phonetic alphabet?

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America…here I come

3 months until I step foot on American soil, for the first time in 2.5 years. I have mixed emotions. Instead of dwelling on what I am going to miss about Germany, I am going to focus on the good things.

I cannot wait to eat a big, fat, juicy, Montana grown beef, CHEESEBURGER! I can think of other things I would love to eat, but we all know Montana is not known for Mexican food. You will also not find amazing Pad Thai there either. I can cook just about anything healthy. So, this is why I am sticking with the cheeseburger.

American sized…you fill in the blank! I am not talking Mcdonald’s supersized meals. Three years in Europe, with tiny everything. A kitchen with more then two drawers, five cupboards, one miniature sink (try washing a crock pot in that), a little refrigerator, and no counter space. Don’t forget the oven, especially on Thanksgiving. Honestly, baking cookies with two cookie sheets in the oven at a time…. excites me! Two 8×8 pans cannot fit side by side in the baby I have now. (PS I have a large kitchen by euro standards.)

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How could I forget the washer and dryer. Size matters!!!!!! One hour to do FOUR American sized bath towels. That is just washing. If I rearrange it right, I can fit two uniforms in there, at once! It takes me three loads of laundry, just to do workout clothes, for one week. Two loads of clothes, and thanks to my thoughtful hubby, who bought tiny skinny European type towels, I only have one load there! Want to wash anything larger than a twin blanket, go to the laundry mat.

Have you ever heard of musical cars? This is what hubby and I do at least twice a week, when he gets home before me and pulls into the driveway out of order!

Speaking of driveways….let’s talk about a garage with a garage door opener. And one big enough I don’t need to make everyone on the passenger side get out of, asking them kindly to push in my mirror, before I pull in. Then, I remind my lil guy, getting out of the driver’s side, “be careful not to hit the door on the wall!” Bikes, lawn mower, gardening tools, scooters, BBQ, snow shovel, trash bins???? Where do these go? NOT in the garage!!!!!

Closets! These small wardrobes just do not cut it. I miss my coat closet, my linen closet, and let’s not mention my walk in master closet (with shelves). I even miss the annoying under the stairs closet.

No explanation needed list:

Target and Kohls.

Under the sink bathroom cabinets.
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A garbage disposal.

Netflix or Hulu or whatever people use these days.

Websites in English. No Google translation needed.

Pay at the pump gas station!

Family cell phone plans.

Drive up ATM.

These are the things I have been thinking of, ever since we found out we were moving back to the good ol’ US of A. Some of them I did not miss, until I was talking with people. When they are not available, you forget about it.

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I will have a list about Germany, someday soon.

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Unaccompanied Baggage List

So, when you move overseas, many people do not realize you are allotted TWO shipments. (And you can also have a third for storage items, not accompanying you, to your overseas assignment.) One is your HHG (household goods). This is all of your big stuff, and most everything. Then, the unaccompanied baggage shipment. This is a shipment flown to your next destination, under 500 pounds. When you are stateside, heading overseas, I would suggest shipping this ASAP, to ensure it is there. When you are overseas, heading stateside, I would suggest keeping it until last minute.

Your unaccompanied baggage is the stuff to get you by, until your HHG arrives. It is a life saver! When you are overseas, you get FMO furniture (loaner couches, beds, tables, chairs, etc.) until you get your HHG. Depending on your location, some things are for up to 90 days. Other things, such as wardrobes (portable closets), microwave, pantry, transformers, washer-dryer, refrigerator, etc., can be supplied for your entire tour.

Confused? Talk to your TMO (the people who schedule your move). Check ahead if your gaining base has dish packs for you to use until your stuff arrives. Usually at AFRC (Airmen and Family Readiness) has something.

Here is a list I have come up with for our moves. This is stuff you do not want in your suit cases to lug around, or live without for months. I hope it helps some people get organized for a smoother overseas transition. Make your list your own. This is my list…..

– Bedding – sheets and blankets for a queen bed (they issued us a full, but better bigger then too small). Also twin bedding for each child.
– Pillows for each person
– Bath towels and wash clothes
– Bathroom rug
– Shower curtain (if you have one…I never needed one in Germany)
– Books for everyone
– Toys for each kid
– Puzzles and card-board games
– Small TV
– DVD player and DVDs
– Playstation ??????
– Winter or summer clothing you might not need ASAP, upon arrival (going from FL to Germany I sent heavier coats, rain boots, umbrellas, etc.)
– A couple pots and pans (eating out gets old)
– Half your dishes (plates, bowls, coffee cups, cups)
– Half your silverware
– Some cooking utensils (spoons, spatulas, etc.)
– A baking dish
– A cookie sheet
– A couple Tupperware containers (can also be used for cereal bowls)
– Favorite spices (I put a little in bags, labeled. I cook a lot. It can be expensive to replace a bunch)
– A laundry basket or two (great to hold toys or laundry)
– A small trash can (if you have extra)
– Guitar (my hubby plays, so we always ship one)
– School supplies (believe me when I tell you hey are cheaper in the USA!!!!)
– My kids scooters
– Balls for catch outside
– Air mattress (because our FMO bed killed my back and being 6′, sleeping with my 6’2″ football player hubby, in a rock hard full bed is hell!!!! And just in case there is a delay between the end of your TLF (temp lodging), moving into your house and FMO’s drop off. It happens.)
– Extra bedding for that air mattress

Good luck and let me know if you think of something I missed. I will be doing all this again soon….Germany to Alaska! This unaccompanied baggage will need to last me about 3 months.

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Beautiful and green Germany, in January, while the rest of the world freezes! I love the rare winter sunshine here.

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PCS 101

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PC-what? Permanent Change of Station. AKA, you are moving, the military said so!

You find out your moving! Yahoo! Or…Oh NO!!!!! You instantly have 1000 questions running through your head, while you celebrate or cry. When? Where? Is base housing nice? What are the schools like? Do we know anyone there? Am I going to be able to find a job?

You then graduate to thinking, Montana to Florida? Florida to Germany? Germany to Alaska? I need new clothes. Do they have hurricanes? How close is the beach? Do they have a lot of traffic? I need an ice scraper for the car. How long does it take for my stuff to get there? What am I going to do in the mean time. How many days do we get in TLF? OMG it snows there! I have to learn how to drive! I don’t speak German. Oh yeah fresh fish! Northern lights. I’m going to freeze my @$$ off!

SQUIRREL!!!!!!!

So, here we go again. For some reason, we are always moving far far distances (see my examples above). Personally, I have been excited for every move. This is where my love for adventure,
and happy go lucky attitude comes in. Quite honestly, I think I could live anywhere for a couple years. As long as my family is together, (deployments and remotes suck), God will get us through it!

Nowadays (I sound like old folk saying that) it is easy to research a new base. Facebook has some amazing pages. With a click of a button, you can like your next base spouse page. Narrow it down and there is probably a page for spouses in your career field. Some spouses out a lot of work into pages like, Military Word of Mouth. This page is dedicated to military installations all over the world, no matter which branch. Spouses have entered reviews and helpful information, about where they have lived. Are you wondering what base housing is like? Check out Moving House for the Military Spouse. A wonderful site with pictures of your next home!

More advice, feed your packers! Happy packers are a good thing. Your valuable things are being left in their hands. Have bottled water on hand. They probably get pizza all the time, so think outside the box. They are human, treat them with kindness and respect. Talk to them. They have funny stories!
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On that note: Clean your house before they come!!!!! They do not want to work in your filth.

Stay positive. You are not the only person who has moved. You are not the only one who has run into problems. Other people have to deal with last minute orders, confusing information, wrong information, delayed schedules, lost paperwork….the list goes on….and on! Be flexible and have some patience. How you look at these things, how you handle them, and your attitude about all of it, makes or breaks the move. I choose to be positive, because my kids are then looking forward to our new adventure, rather then hating the idea. And quite frankly, looking on the bright side makes for a smoother PCS!

Moving overseas? I will post a few helpful tips, such as my list for unaccompanied baggage! Stay tuned.

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“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
― Dr. Seuss

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Military life, Uncategorized

Independent Dependent

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Although I have been a military dependent or spouse, for a little over 13 years, I definitely do not have a full understanding of this chaotic, crazy, interesting, fun, stressful, adventurous, and always changing, way of life. I do know, my parents raised me to be independent. I dislike the term dependent, and am confused why all my medical forms require my sponsor’s social and not mine. Instead, I have an FMP number (Family Member ???) of 31, which somehow stands for being his first spouse. I cannot speak fluent military. I do know the phonetic alphabet, and a decent amount of military acronyms and lingo. Just today, my hubby text me about going to dinner with SFMQ. I was excited about going out to our favorite lil German place, but had to text back, “okay, but wth is SFMQ?” For future reference, apparently, this is the office he works in!

God has blessed hubby and I with two beautiful children, age eight and three. Both of their birthdays are coming so we will soon have a nine and four year old. Our children only know military life. They are amazingly understanding of the demands this “job” has. Our practical but sensitive eight year old keeps track of the number of Christmas’ and birthdays daddy has been home, in her short lifetime. I think she is up to five each. Our energetic and all boy three year old, flat out adores his daddy in uniform.

One thing I know, through all of our TDYs, PCSs, deployments, and craziness, is God loves us, and He will provide! We were chosen, by Him, for this life. Through Him, I am going to do it the best I can.

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