[Updated mid March 2023] Welcome back! Today I am getting the ball rolling on some just-for-fun accountability about an upcoming move. Specifically that we are PCSing next summer, and I’m going to do everything to make the move as perfect as possible…but this time I’m going to share it in real time.
You don’t need to know my whole story, but a little background may help. I have moved a lot as a pure civilian, but I’m also PCSed a few times as a military spouse, specifically four times; once each in 2003, 2017, 2018, and 2019. My next PCS is number five in 2023.
I haven’t PCSed as often as others; so I’m no expert, but I’m always working to improve (which may seem like a fool’s errand because no amount of preparation can save our HHGs from careless movers – but I’m going to do everything that I can because I’m an optimist).
I’m using this space to publicly share what I’m doing, when I’m doing it, why I’m doing it. Be advised that I am a planner because I don’t like surprises. So I methodically plan all sorts of things for very specific reasons. Here is a place for you to see my PCS-related thought processes in real life and real time. Enjoy!
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— JULY 2022 —
We’re moving next summer, but we don’t know where. With eleven months before the mystery PCS, I already have a few goals, and Mister Jupiter is on board.
“Don’t move the mustard” – This is a new goal, and I wish I had used it in the past. It’s my new pledge to not stress out about moving refrigerated condiments from one house to another. I’ve done this several times, and it’s always more stress than they’re worth. I stress out about the insulated container, cold packs, the weight of the container, and the alarming amount of space it takes up in a Prius. And for what? Rare mayonnaise that can’t be purchased again? No. Common condiments that I don’t want to throw away because it feels wasteful. Sigh. We’re not moving to the moon – I can buy whatever I need in our new town…so I am going to.
Simplify Pantry – This one is obvious. I need to make sure that the pantry goods (that will get packed up and moved) are worth moving. Eleven months gives me time to discard anything expired, and to use things that I don’t want to move. Majority of our pantry is my spice collection, and a variety of dried grains and beans. Both useful things, but the spices and beans are literally purchased to be used…not to get dusty. I want to move with as little food as possible, but I want to keep the good stuff. Keep the saffron, toss the expired condensed milk that I never made caramel with…etcetera.
Give Away Living Plants? – My last several moves have included living plants. They take up a lot of space (riding shotgun in my car for air flow and avoid getting squished). Do you know what stresses out plants? Moving them. Do you know what I can buy in most towns and cities? Happy plants. It’s my issue with moving open mustard again – big stress for a small ROI. Eleven months gives me time to find new homes for my plants, or at least determine which will travel with me (if any). I love them, but I do not love moving them across state lines.
Find & Ship Gifts – This is one that I’ve been working on over the years. I’m really good at finding unique gifts for people, but I’m not good at remembering what I bought or where I hid it in the house. I’ve gotten better by reducing the amount of incoming gifts, but I still find little treasures here and there. I have eleven months to find these little things, and ship them out. We have plenty of our own objects -no need to move things for other people- I’m going to pay for shipping regardless, so no need to delay (unless it can melt; I don’t ship chocolates in the summer).
Luckily I learn something valuable with each PCS, and I try to write about them in detail when I can. Here are a few highlights.
Just before we moved to Kansas I dabbled in Container Store shoe boxes for organization. It was a success, and I have since gone all in. One day I’ll write all about Container Store shoe boxes – but the short story is that they are stellar for more than just shoes. Think about shoe boxes to round up small, like-objects such as oral healthcare things (toothbrushes, brush heads, tooth paste, floss, Plackers, whitening strips), or tangential financial details like old wallets, checkbooks, and assorted wallet-fodder like expired IDs.
When we moved to Alabama I knew that I wanted to be able to cook right away. Sure, takeout is fun for a few meals, but not long term. So I made room in my car to move my largest dutch oven, and a medium-size box of kitchen essentials (dishes, flatware, can opener, a good knife, and some cooking tools). This was a big win because our two-week house camping plan turned into two MONTHS of house camping and living out of our suitcases. Sure, we did regularly eat out, but thanks to the basics in my car we could make a range of one-pot meals at home.
When we moved back to Arkansas, Kid Jupiter was six-months old. We didn’t want to chance any delays with his stuff, so Mister Jupiter got a hitch installed on his car instead. He rented the smallest U-Haul trailer, and we filled it with the things Kid Jupiter needed (plus bulky stuff like our inflatable mattress, and pillows). This was great because the dogs had plenty of space in Mister Jupiter’s car, and our stuff didn’t get super furry. Yes, it took a little more time, and it cost a little more money – but it was worth it to set up Kid Jupiter’s room before our household goods arrived. Baby Jupiter loved being in his own room right away.
24 July 2022, Minimalist Thoughts
PCS Status: no change (month is known, but not destination)
The big thought: minimalism / my closet needs to go on a diet
I’ve been thinking on and drafting this update for days – I am having the kind of writer’s block where I have so much to say but I can’t find the structure to sort the information. It’s like having my arms full of glassware; I know there are different shapes and types that can easily be sorted, but the problem is that I can’t set them down to see them. Words are hard.
So, back to the point. I have too many clothes, and I wouldn’t mind being a closet minimalist instead of my usual state (and preference) of being a closet maximalist. I actually have a reluctant history of having a successful capsule wardrobe. It was when I was pregnant, so my wardrobe was mostly thrifted maternity clothes. My options were so few that I easily shared a small, dark closet with Mister Jupiter, and needed to do laundry every 4-5 days. I hated the lack of options, but I liked the simplicity and ease of getting dressed each day. When I was a pregnant stay-at-home-writer, nobody cared what I looked like and that worked for me.
After Kid Jupiter was born I was excited to get back into the smaller body that I was used to, but I definitely wasn’t trying too hard because I was busy with a newborn. I got into the habit of buying clothes for my future body, this was good and bad. Good because I got some great deals on some great dresses, but bad because the dresses took up space for two years before I could fit into them, and double bad because I don’t like some of the clothes I bought now that I finally fit into them.
So that’s where I am now. I have a large closet, and I’m still losing the baby weight. I miss the simplicity of having a tiny & operational closet, but I don’t want to be unhappy with a smaller selection. This is where the minimalist thoughts come in. I subscribe to the idea of minimalism being a careful curation of the best things, and prompt removal of the things that are not well loved. For my closet and current preferences, that means that I need to really evaluate my selection of pants. I’ve found that I don’t actually like most of the pants I bought. Either the rise is too low, I don’t like the color, they attract dog fur too intensely, or they don’t have usable pockets (that’s become a real dealbreaker for me; I refuse to wear a purse in my home just to have a place to frequently put my phone when I suddenly need my hands).
Luckily I finally found the perfect pants for me right now. I have two pairs and I wear them most days because they are comfortable like leggings, but they are actually pants with a real zipper, belt loops, and FOUR phone-size pockets. I honestly think that I’ll buy two more pairs (my current pairs are both black), and donate majority of my other pants. Sure, it’s bringing in two more pairs of pants, but it’s also giving me the green light to donate at least a dozen inferior pants.
31 January, 2023 — Tiny update.
Still waiting on the actual orders, but we do have a RIP. This month we learned that everybody in the family needs medical and dental clearance before the orders can be made – so we scrambled to meet that requirement ASAP. One appointment remains. Hopefully it’s the last barrier between us and the orders we need to do the rest.
But hey – at least we know that we’re expected OCONUS! This makes it significantly easier to “not move the mustard;” our pantry will be emptied before we get packed up, and we’re using this opportunity to say “adios!” to any belongings that we don’t love to pieces.
16 February 2023
We’re four months out. No orders, so no TMO scheduled yet (and nothing packed because we’re not allowed to pre-pack anything). I’m ready to be living out of my suitcase RIGHT NOW.
13 Mar 2023
WE FINALLY HAVE OUR ORDERS – ONLY TOOK SIX MONTHS. UGH! BUT HAPPY!
Check out some other similar posts in my PCS Series; a collection of posts all about PCSing. I’ll basically be using those tools and ideas to try to make this move as perfect as possible (fingers crossed)!
☞ Related: PCS Series