moving day

i was not fond of being unable to pre-pack any of our items or handing over the reins to a complete stranger. you do remember that type-a person i told you about right?

the process of setting up our move includes doing self counseling on the move.mil website & creating an account with dps. luckily my husband and i were able to do our self counseling online but the personal property office at your base should be able to help you get the process started.

the self counseling consists of taking inventory of what you’re shipping to determine a  weight estimate. they also use this to determine how many “packs” to bring, of paper, dish packs, various boxes & even boxes for certain types of mattresses. weight allowances are determined by your husband’s rank & since my husband is an e-5 we were allowed 9,000 lb. to safeguard yourself always over estimate your weight. our total weight was 6,006 lbs {including packing material}.

after you submit your counseling application it will be reviewed & you’ll be assigned a counselor. since they e-mail all correspondence i highly recommend using the e-mail address that is checked most frequently. for us that was my e-mail address {isn’t the wife’s e-mail always the primary one?!}

one of your first e-mails from your counselor will be the contact information for your local {inbound} mover company. make sure to place this information, such as a memo board or your “japan” binder where it can be easily found.

when it comes to moving dates you will probably have little control over your pack out dates, however be persistent!! don’t take no for answer. 

keep in mind you can not schedule a hhg & u/b shipment on the same days as they more than likely will be with 2 different companies.

in order to schedule your hhg {household goods} & u/b {unaccompanied baggage} shipments you MUST have your DEA, dependent entry approval paperwork!!

since you won’t have a house address before you move to japan make sure your counselor puts “atsugi japan storage” as the destination. once you have a japanese cell phone number go to the personal property office on base to let them know you’re in japan & of your new number. you can change your contact number in dps, but it’s important that personal property knows you’re in japan.

 hhg’s come by boat & generally take about 45 days. we shipped ours 5 weeks before we left knowing that we might be in the Navy Lodge for a few weeks to a month. if your shipment arrives in japan & you still are waiting for housing your shipment will go into storage. when you have housing you’ll need to contact the personal property office to set up a delivery date.

u/b shipments come by air & typically take about 30 days.

when we scheduled our move, we were still waiting on our DEA paperwork. in order to secure our move dates, as they were already 3 weeks out, our counselor recommended converting our hhg shipment to a lts {long term storage}. she would convert our shipment back to hhg as soon as i scanned & e-mailed her our dea.

i was hesitant to go this route, but i highly recommend it. 5 days later we received our dea & we still had our original move date of 26-26 september.

after our dea was approved a woman from the moving company called to set up our in home move survey. luckily you can do this without your spouse & without a POA {you’re going to need that POA alot} and my kids behaved remarkably well. one hid in their room so that helped. gotta love stranger anxiety.

i wasn’t pleased when the nice lady in the grey sweater handed me this

so we did what any normal parents would do… started polishing off all the open  “sanity savers”. luckily for us we had a month, 5 full weekends left. problem solved. pina colada, margarita, frozen mudslide anyone?

tip #6  compile a serial number list & take photos of all of your large household ticket items. this would be all of your electronics: tv, ps3, surround sound, laptops, printers, etc. make sure this list contains the purchase date, price, location of purchase, serial number, model #, warranty expiration date & service/800 number. 

i know this seems daunting, but not only is it good to have all of this information in one place, you WILL NEED EVERY SERIAL NUMBER for your shipping invoices. the shipping invoices & high value item paperwork is filled out AFTER everything is boxed & loaded on your truck.

tip # 7  before the movers come make sure you know which high ticket items are NOT being shipped, like a camera, laptop, iPad, etc. you will still want the serial numbers for all of these items & should hand carry it in the backpack with all of your other documents.

tip # place all items that are NOT being shipped in a room & close it off. in the event that you can’t do this, like we were, make piles & cover them with “do not pack” signs but make sure to point these out to the movers. don’t assume anything!

a week later our packer, yes just one arrived with the daunting task of packing up our 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment.

just like santa he worked diligently & got straight to work. i was quite impressed with his professionalism & overuse of the word ma’am. 

my husband took 3 days of leave to help with the kids during the move. my husband took the kids on a walk & to the park when the mover packed the kids toys & our tv.

where are the toys?

tip #8  if at all possible have a family member or friend watch your kids so they’re not in the house while the movers work.

tip #9   to keep your movers happy & simply to be kind stock up on cans of soda & bottles of water you can pass out. forgo the red solo cups, cans & bottles are much easier & will be greatly appreciated

sadly for us my parents spent 3 weeks gallivanting around europe {thanks for the invite!!} & the kids fairy god-mothers were no where in sight! i mean whatever happened to magic wands that went bbibbidi bobbidi boo!?

day 1 consisted of our mover packing our living room & kitchen & ended around 1430 when he ran out paper. what?! ran out of paper. 

he over wrapped my “extensive” collection of large white serving pieces so they don’t break & i’m anxious to unpack them in japan & {hopefully} find them all in one piece!

end of day 1

day 2 was another busy day, especially since i took he kids with me to base to book our flight. that’s a story for another post.

my husband was still busy taking things off the wall & having the kids out of the house must’ve been a blessing for both him & the mover. our dining room, laundry, bathrooms & our bedroom got packed that day. 

i was not excited when i came home to this.

only a man would do this

that was the last night we slept on our bed in our apartment, our home for the last 2 1/2 years. i was pregnant with our son when we moved in & know we were leaving.

the next morning we were up early in anticipation of the movers early arrival. we were in full disassembly of beds & crib mode. my dyson got a super-duper workout while de-dusting our curtains. and most of all the kids enjoyed pulling 56% of the inventory stickers off the boxes & sticking them all over themselves. when our mover showed up at 1540 he was not thrilled with this news.

it was at that moment that i felt the words

“stickers on boxes with kids! are you kidding me? you were asking for it pal!”

about to come out of my mouth

but when i looked over at my husband & saw that knowing look on his face, i bit my tongue. for once.

slowly the movers started hauling boxes to the truck to pack them in crates.

our couch was wrapped in paper & then plastic {much to my disliking as they wouldn’t allow a moving pad, then paper & plastic}. it was then hauled outside to be lifted into a crate on pallets the size of a chevy silverado & then filled with 30 of our pillows. i had the privilege of seeing “tubs” tummy as he stood on the truck above me while i waited for the box to be closed, taped & sealed with 4 stickers signed with my initials. our couch was on its way to the warehouse & i prayed “tubs” would get it there safely.

it seemed to take a century for the 4 movers {our single packer now had 3 helpers} to load our crates. i used this time wisely in the most productive manner & kept the kids occupied by chasing them with the dyson that’d i’d be without for the next 12 weeks. the giggles that came with,

“i’m gonna get you!”

and them repeating it back put smiles on my husband’s & my faces.

finally at 2015 i rattled off countless serial numbers, signed too many shipping invoices & le husband came marching through the door with the pizza i’d pre-ordered. smart move.

we said goodbye to our packer who at this point felt like our 3rd child & did our best to have a pizza party on the floor with 2 messy toddlers.

73 minutes later when the kids were sound asleep my husband walked in with this gem.

32 inches. that’ll work!

another dumpster gift

“we’re going to japan”

everything changes the moment those words come out of your husband’s mouth. getting orders overseas is very exciting a TON of paperwork!

throughout this blog i’m going to provide useful tips that worked for us. i hope these are helpful to you. 

this process will be frustrating & at times you will wish you had more, or complete control. it will be much easier if you accept this now. i’m type A, organized, & like, well need prefer to be in control of situations. this process hasn’t changed who i am but it has taught me to be more flexible. my husband would completely disagree with me.

if you’re new to the navy get familiar with the “hurry up & wait” mentality. it’s all rush, rush, rush & then nothing.

all of this paperwork is going to need a home or else there goes your counter space & who can live with all that clutter??

tip #1 buy a 3 ring binder & a few packs sheet protectors. don’t wimp out & buy a 1 1/2 in binder thinking the 3 in. one is too big. in about 4-6 weeks you’ll be wishing you’d listened to me & bought the bigger one.

make sure the sheet protectors can handle heavy loads, as some paperwork might be about 10 pages thick. for longevity i got some heavy weight clear sheet protectors. while you’re at it make a nice cover for this binder since you’ll more than likely be lugging it around for the next 4 months.

the approval paperwork consists of medical screening for both the service member & all dependents.

tip #2 as SOON as you find out about overseas orders {before the medical screening} start getting all of your medical records for yourself & your children. keep in mind doctors offices have different policies when requesting records & this can include turn around time & cost. some offices might be able to copy them in a day or you might have to wait a week.

some of our records were free of charge, others we had to pay the equivalent of 2 movie tickets & #1 combo, the large bucket of buttery popcorn & a humongo drink you never get a refill on since you don’t want to miss the movie {we couldn’t afford the box of junior mints for $4.50} sadly you can’t get around copying fees, so suck it up & put your big girl panties on.

when you find yourself in a bind, which you will & you just can’t tolerate “Betsy” the receptionist who must handle your request use this line that worked like a charm for me, several times!

“My husband is in the Navy & we’re going to Japan. In order to complete our medical screening I need my complete record for our appointment on Monday. I realize you have other requests that might be ahead of me but I can’t let this delay our screening.”

that statement was said on a friday morning, so make sure to alter your day depending on when you call. that particular “betsy” at my ent office was complaining about being short staffed, people needing to fill in & how she wasn’t going to be able to accomplish copying my records because her panty hose probably just broke.

make sure to get the name of the person who took your request & a copy of any releases you fill out. your brain will be fried as you will have to do this several times, make sure to write down the estimated pick up date, contact name & phone number so you have it all in one place.

you don’t want NOT having medical records to hold up your overseas medical screening process.

there is paperwork that you will need both your civilian doctor & dentist to sign {if you were Tricare standard, like myself}. however, the Navy doctor that signs your approval will go over this again so it is quite redundant. get used to this.

when we did our paperwork our kids had yet to see a dentist as our son was 29 months & our daughter was 17 months. i quickly scheduled them appointments for evaluations {it’s just counting teeth at his age & reinforcing brushing habits with parents} & brought in the necessary paperwork. their dental forms were signed off & everything was a go. yes even little kids need dental clearance.

medical screening is a 2 part process. 1st part is paperwork, 2nd part is when you’ll meet the doctor. my kids & i did not have a physical exam with the reviewing doctor. i’ve heard from a marine wife friend that they did have an exam with the doctor so check & see what you can expect.

the 1st part ensures that your immunizations are up to date & that you {the spouse} are up to date on your female wellness exam & that your dental class is either 1 or 2, etc. depending on how your base schedules overseas screening appointments you might get one that day, but chances are there will be a wait. we were scheduled as a family all on the same day, with a week wait.

after of our screening was completed i was informed by the doctor that my husband could’ve handled our approval screening so we didn’t need to be present. my husband doesn’t know my kids or my medical history like assassin’s creed & since we didn’t have a babysitter we had no choice but to bring the two littlest of circus with us.

tip #3 get a backpack for all of your medical records/paperwork. the less you have to hand carry the easier it’ll be. when you arrive in japan you’ll need all of this paperwork. you CAN NOT risk loosing any of this. this is your life summed up in a 24 lb backpack.

we used our backpack as one of our carry on’s on the flight & it also held my laptop & electronic devices/cords.

when you come in for your medical appointment with the doctor you will need to bring all of your records including your husband’s service record & his most recent PFA results.

you will be seated in the doctors office in very uncomfortable metal frame, black wool seat cushion, circa 1987 office type chairs while the doctor sits at a desk in front of you to review all of your records, asking questions, scribbling notes, all while making you sweat.

as hard as it will be just relax. it will be ok. i know, i know, much easier said than done. so cliche.

the doctor probably will start with your husband’s record & verify all of his medical history, but if you’re like me, your husband will be driving back to his command to print out the results of his last PFA as the friendly people in the office informed to tell him this in advance. which means you’ll be left alone with the doctor, a backpack full of records & 2 wiggly toddlers who can’t understand why they can’t touch & play with the 10 long line row of stamps on the doctors desk. forget the fact that you brought an arsenal of never before seen toys just for this purpose.

temper tantrum on the floor? sign my son up!

somewhere at this point when the doctor had his back turned to me, with sweat dripping of my face & while holding a fussy little girl i peered over the stamps, hoping to find a “DENIED” stamp that i just might be able to grab & hide for the length of our appointment.

the sound of “your son must sit in the chair & not touch the stamps on my desk” just filled my body with fear. was he talking to me or my son?

the doctor began with my daughters record & after reviewing her medical history by asking me questions & making notes that everything was normal she got the stamp of approval that she was fit for japan. then it was my son’s & husband’s time to get their approval stamps.  

yeah that same husband that left me with 2 toddlers. i sure do love him.

i was last.

gulp.

after many tears & sleepless nights over this issue, known as a thyroid condition, which is controlled through medication that is available over here, we knew this might be a deal breaker. however it had to be disclosed or else you’ll end up wishing you had mentioned it when you shoud’ve. lying is not tolerable.

i’d either get approved or denied.

service member & 2 kids approved. wife?? we’re not sure. 

what brought on the tears was the uncertainty if i was denied.

we didn’t know if my husband would have to go unaccompanied for 2 years, as opposed to an accompanied tour of 3 years or if his detailer would cut him new orders.

the thought of our family potentially being apart for so long was unbearable, especially since my husband has already missed so much, including the birth of both of our kids.

if you’re in this situation, as hard as it is, stay positive. i’ve been there & know that fear you feel but just take it one day at a time. having someone to talk to, besides your husband is also a huge outlet.

had his orders been re-written they might have been bottom of the barrel where he might not enjoy his job. there’s always a catch.

to get approved your paperwork needs to be sent to the medical review board here in japan for them to determine if they have the resources to treat you. keep in mind this is because NAF Atsugi DOES NOT have a hospital or speciality doctors, NAF Atsugi is a health clinic. Meaning general care.

there isn’t allergy testing, cardio, endo, dermatology, ent, general surgery, internal medicine, ob, ortho, ophthalmology, etc at this base. they don’t even have a pediatrician, just a general practitioner & PAs.

so if your kid breaks a leg & needs surgery ortho chances are they’ll take you to the hospital @ Yokosuka {pronounced Yo-ku-ska} which is about an hour-90 min depending on traffic.

pregnancy: low risk pregnancies are followed by the doctors here at, but high risk pregnancies are followed by the medical team at Yokosuka.

vision/optometry: you can get eye exams & prescription glasses here {finally something} but contacts are limited. if you wear contacts bring your current box {even if empty} to your appointment with you.

dental: because we all LOVE going to the dentist right?? my advice, even though i’ve yet to see dental here, brush, floss & use that fluoride rinse.

 apparently they schedule annual cleanings rather than the bi-annual you’re familiar with in the US.

 “how do you expect me to keep my chompers clean?” was what came out of my mouth..

yeah i have a minor serious problem in learning when to keep my mouth shut.

tip #4 schedule your last dental cleaning to be a few weeks before you leave for Japan. that is unless you want to see navy dental shortly after you arrive.  

braces, crowns & bridges are very extremely limited {straight wording from the dental dept.}. braces are available at camp zama, which is the army base about 10 minutes away. i’m not sure how one sets up an appointment at zama. but i’m sure i’ll find out.  

so if your kid breaks a leg & needs to see ortho chances are they’ll take you to the hospital @ Yokosuka {pronounced Yo-ku-ska} which is about an hour-90 min depending on traffic.

so the doctor reviewed my paperwork & there was the red flag.

my thyroid.

he said he couldn’t sign off on my paperwork as the medical board in japan would need to decide on my approval.

so off the paperwork went & then we waited.

we went on leave to visit family & tried our best to have a good time while constantly checking our phones & email hoping for some news.

that’s when you realize you need to ask more than 1 person to verify what you’re being told. we were misinformed of the wait time. first is was a week. then it was 10 working days. then it was 2 weeks. then it was 10 working days. gracious! get your facts straight!!

chances are you’ll have to wait 10 business days for an answer before the base medical that sent your information can send in a second request for an answer. in july, japan was 13 hours ahead of the east coast.

while on leave we talked with the person handling my paperwork & found out we wouldn’t be getting word till we got back from leave {as our waiting period for them to review the records hadn’t passed yet}. while it wasn’t the relief we needed we were able to enjoy the last few days with friends & family.

a few days after returning home i got a phone call early one morning from base medical.

tip #5  save the base medical phone number as a contact in your phone so you’ll know when they call.  

i recall jumping in bed & showing my still sleeping husband the phone & grabbing his hand for moral support before answering the phone. i hadn’t been so anxious for a phone call since i started dating! even that didn’t compare to this.

my paperwork had come back & i’d been approved!!!

i had to wait for the dr at base to sign off on my paperwork & then i could come pick it up. generally they won’t call you until you can come pick it up which is after the dr has signed it, but if you ask them to call you as soon as they get word they will. you just need to ask. make your requests known.

i was thrilled, such a huge weight off my shoulders. our shoulders.

we had told our closest family of our possible move to japan, but now we could confirm it.

we were over the biggest hurdle but now have more paperwork to complete.

here’s hoping i don’t need a rolling cart for all of this paperwork.

                 

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