Welcome to the Wandering Drays!

Not all who wander are lost...

Welcome to my blog dedicated to my family and our crazy foreign service life. Never content with staying in one place, we are excited to share our journey. We've survived two unaccompanied tour (Baghdad 2010-2011 and Baghdad again in 2015-2016), multiple TDYs, and enjoyed a two-year family assignment in Cairo, Egypt. The fab hubby is currently learning Turkish for our next assignment...Istanbul, Turkey! We leave for Turkey sometime in summer 2017. I write about what I know. Which is mainly kids, tween drama, gross pets, dealing with lots of government info, our moving adventures, being a nurse, yoga, running, living on too-little sleep, and an addiction to coffee lattes. I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into our lives.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's Time to Ask for HELP!

Einstein was right.  Time is relative.  One year in Los Angeles?  I swear it was much shorter than a year.  It flew by.  A year with a hubby in Iraq while I [im]patiently wait it out in Ohio with our munchkins...an eternity.  Except when it comes to getting all the details of planning a new life overseas while said hubby is off in Iraq.  Obviously, I didn't take time into consideration.  I SWEAR it seemed like I had forever to get everything accomplished to get us there.  An entire year has to be more than enough time, right?!?!  I mean, what exactly would I need to do?

Passports.  OOPS.  Kids and I don't have them.  Nope.  No one but Jason has a passport.  Before we left L.A. we had the photos done.  But not the passports.  And it takes both parents to be present to get passports for the kids, unless Jason can send me a notarized statement practically saying I'm competent enough to handle it on my own.  However, by the time the mail would come in from Iraq to Ohio, I would be in Colorado (more on that below).  And then when I'm back form Colorado, Jason would be arriving from Iraq on his final leave (!!) and we could just go and do it together.  So that's where this stands.

Medical Clearance updates.  OOPS.  Apparently Kellen didn't actually exist in the State Department's eyes until I could prove otherwise.  I faxed a copy of his birth certificate and thought that was all that was needed.  Luckily, Jason found out that a medical clearance was also required, and our pediatrician dutifully filled out the required forms for us quickly.  But this lack of knowledge on our part still lost us weeks in getting any sort of travel orders for my husband.  Because until Kellen is added as a dependent we can't do anything.  We're still waiting on this to be accomplished - Kellen officially exists in medical clearance but not as a dependent just yet.

Which means we can't get visas to enter Egypt.  We can't get arrangements made for any pack-out.  We can't get arrangements made to ship our car.  We can't get airline tickets.  We just...can't.  You get the picture.

And then I looked at the Medical Clearances we have for the big kids and for me.  OUTDATED.  Yup. Expired as of April 2011.  OOPS.  

Now, I have to be in Colorado Springs, Colorado at Ft. Carson for my 2-week annual military training the first two weeks of May.  I work as an RN for the US Army Reserves and it's my yearly duty to fulfill.  Honestly, I am looking forward to it.  After a big hiccup in planning (my mom was injured at work, and while she is doing well now, she can't watch the kids for the first week of the two I am gone), childcare has been fully arranged for the two weeks I am gone.  I can't tell you what a planning nightmare that was!  Special thanks to my in-laws for taking the kids for nearly the entire two weeks (I will be buying them some very nice bottles of wine in CO!) and to my friend Suni for taking a couple days to help out as well (the kids love 'Aunt' Suni -- "She always brings us sweets!").  This will be a great assignment for me this year - should be working in the ER at Ft. Carson and I fully intend to sightsee in Colorado Springs on my off time!

But the two week annual training couldn't come at a worse time.  After realizing that I have to get MY medical clearance achieved BEFORE I leave, I will be spending all of Monday getting poked and prodded in some uncomfortable places by multiple MDs.  Luckily, I was able to get the kids taken care of last week.  Poor Abby.  She has a serious phobia of needles and well, even a small finger prick for a hemoglobin sent her over the edge.  The doctor, me, and a nurse had to hold her down.  She screamed and then kicked the pediatrician square in his goods.  MORTIFIED.  Thankfully, he's dealt with kids for 30+ years, so he wasn't shocked.  We managed to get her finger prick done and she actually screamed at us:  "THAT WAS IT!  THAT WAS IT!!??"  Then I took the kids out for ice cream.  And a Starbucks for me.

No matter how I look at this, the overwhelming feeling is that we are drowning trying to plan it all out.  Information is scattered and hard to find.  There are multiple agencies to coordinate our move.  And we aren't yet familiar enough with the the big machine of all this.  I feel especially isolated in Ohio - I mean, I can't just drive to HR at State and get things processed (although, even if I was in D.C., I have no idea how I'd even find it.  Or if I'd find the right one!).  Yes, yes.  It's time to ask for help.

So, after a long email to a fellow spouse who's been through this before, I have been pointed in the right direction(s) to get the above achieved.  She got me the appropriate HR contacts and made a step-by-step how-to for me to follow in getting passports.  Literally.  Step-by-step!  All I had to do was ask for help.  Which, from my past blogging noting that I was going to go childbirth all alone, you'll realize I'm not always so good at.

Stress is definitely taking it's toll on me.  I've had non-stop heartburn for days (thankfully, TUMS are a great way to get calcium, right?!?), my sleep is short and fitful, and I am ingesting far more caffeine than any human body should ever attempt to take on.  I was terribly worried about my mom (again - I reiterate - she is doing well!  I'm just not ready to write about it yet.), fretting about planning my training in Colorado, and getting nowhere on all the things we need to get done for Cairo.  Where did time go?  It seems like it's been FOREVER since Jason left, and yet, I feel like I haven't had enough time to get anything accomplished.

But the stress stops here.  From now on I vow to ask for help every time I need it.  I vow to reach out to those who have experience and knowledge about what's going on when I have none.  And I will vent when I am frustrated!  I will work on things ahead of time (umm...ok, this may be a lifelong challenge for me).  But really.  This new life is crazy and chaotic and I just need help figuring it out!

On a final note.  After a long 12-hour shift at work yesterday (but a great shift), I picked up our little man at 11:30pm and we went home.  Owen and Abby were at the fab in-laws for the night.  Anyway, Kellen fell asleep in his carseat and being the exhausted Momma that I am, I just carried him upstairs in it and let him sleep away the night comfortably snuggled in the carseat.  I collapsed into bed and got a decent six hour stretch of sleep until Kellen woke me.  When I went to change his diaper, which had been changed last at daycare just before I picked him up, I found the funniest thing written on it.  Check out the photo.  The nickname on the diaper reminds me to relax, have fun, and enjoy life.  All this stuff will get figured out somehow (especially if I'm willing to ask for help).  

"Uncle Fester" - what our wonderful daycare
jokingly calls our very VERY bald baby.  Gave me
the best giggle of the morning!


  1. Vent to me ANYTIME! I (yes, shamefacedly) had a huge collapse and freak-out last night about my medical clearance. Pete just shook his head, but I am so nervous even now that somehow I will be denied (yes, I know, I'm worried for no reason). Trust me, getting it out of your system is the best thing you can do...and I will listen and help in any way possible!

  2. You are so very right. I should have got this out of my system as soon as I began to feel the tension take hold! It's been an ugly week just waiting to see if Jason COULD even get his last leave in May. It was finally scheduled today for 16May. Whew. But I've been just sick over it. I'm thinking when I'm in CO, I'm going to find a nice spa and sign up for a massage and facial. I'm ready for it! And you'll get the med clearance - but I bet the paperwork will be a bear to muddle through. It's already insanity to figure it out when no blips are involved. I've found it's meltdown and then pick myself up. (You, too?) No shame in that.

  3. I have found the FS community to be SO great in helping answer questions. Good luck, it will all come together. LOVE the diaper.

  4. Honestly, it can all be done. No one goes through changes without a little stress, or a lot. We got Tess done in 4 weeks and even had a week where we weren't doing anything for her but waiting for her hip to get correct. Pretty sure I lost most of my hair and now have a constant eye twitch from our first move, but we're here now, so just keep pushing forward!