Monday, August 04, 2014

Coming Home to Home Leave

We made it home, including all of the pets (pausing to say another round of thank you thank you thank you) and are currently enjoying home leave.

Yes, I said enjoying. There are lots of folks who disagree with me on this, for completely valid reasons.

Home leave is the vacation we are required by Congress between tours. Yes, you read that right. Congress, in an effort to make sure we don't forget we are American, gives us one day of leave for every month we are overseas. We are required to take that leave in between tours and we are required to take that leave in the United States. Never mind that I feel MOST American when I am overseas...I'll just thank Congress for the free vacation anyway.

Of course, as I said, many don't enjoy it, not because they don't love their country (why you would live this crazy life unless you loved your country is beyond me), but because it isn't exactly free.

In fact, it is pretty expensive. If you don't have a home to camp out in, you are essentially a vagabond for about five weeks. Five weeks in hotels can get expensive. Five weeks camping out for free with relatives can get...well, you insert your own descriptor. And if you have kids, that becomes an even greater hassle.

Luckily for us, we don't have kids except for the pets. We own a home in the DC area and we arrange to come back for more than five weeks between tours. So last time, we came home and served in DC for a couple tours. This time, we are home for a year of language. Each option makes it worth our while to live in our own home. So we don't "have" to get hotels for the whole time. More on that later, as we ARE using the opportunity to travel a bit.

The other complaint people often have with home leave is competition among families to get to see them while they are stateside...that can be think "who do we visit at Christmas?" is bad - try, "who do we visit when we are only stateside for five weeks every three years?"!

Again, having some time in DC avoids that conundrum for us (though we are visiting both of our families on this trip, it is only a short stop with each set of parents because we will be home for a year). It is harder on R&Rs, but then we have opted for the "home base" route of renting a place, usually at the beach, and inviting the family to visit. So far, that has worked pretty well.

All of which is prelude to say we got home just over two weeks ago. Because I am uber-organized/insane, I arranged for our stuff from storage, our UAB, AND our car to be delivered the day after we arrived. Yes, all of them (packing out the UAB and car early worked and they both arrived stateside before we did!), PLUS I had the cable guy come set up our cable and interwebs that day. Of course, that meant pure chaos the whole day, but also meant we had a bed to sleep in that night and a television to watch while sitting our our sofa.
Lots boxes on the lawn

Our car...with a very dead battery
because the parking lights were left on!
I planned for our vacation to start exactly one week later so we would have time to go to the Department and get new badges (success!), get our new Maryland drivers licenses (success!), and get the car inspected, registered and plated (success!...after spending $1000...sigh), and be completely unpacked (not a complete success, but not bad considering our new place has three levels and my knees post-surgery are not liking that one bit.

Side note: I think all DMVs are awful...we went to get our licenses and I brought all the stuff needed for proof of residency, including our mortgage statement. We went to separate clerks. My clerk would not accept the mortgage statement because although it was for a Maryland home, it was mailed to me at our DPO address. So I needed another proof. They said they would accept the vehicle registration, which my wife was working on. Meanwhile, my wife's clerk accepted the very same mortgage statement as proof of residency. So I go over to get the vehicle registration from her, and her clerk says, "Oh, she can just sign for you as proof of residency since you are married."

Yay, marriage equality. Boo/yay for bureaucracy!

So for unpacking, living room, dining room and kitchen are done. Spare bedroom, where we are sleeping, is mostly done, as is my wife's office. Our bedroom is done to the degree it can be until our HHE arrives...our bed is in it. My office/the parrot's room and the basement are started. I'll call that a win.

So for now, we have a home. And the pets seem to approve.

The cats approve of Birdie TV in the back yard

The dog approves of the porch from which to survey her new domain
And now we are vacationing. But I will leave that for later posts.

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