4 Tips for Packing To Move Overseas

We moved many times while stationed in the US. It was always easy to move because we did pretty much door-to-door moves, meaning we went from one house to another and met our stuff there. It helped that we did DITY (do it yourself) (now called PPM – personally procured moves) moves. We were in control of the schedule of when our stuff would leave and when it would show up. Moving overseas is a lot different. We had about a month between when we left California and when we were to fly overseas. We had to pack for the month on the road, but also for the time we would be living in a hotel once we got here.

Our luggage, as seen getting a ride through the San Francisco airport

1. The military offers something called an Unaccompanied Baggage shipment. That is 1000 pounds of your stuff that is said to arrive before your HHG (household goods) arrives. There is lot of information out there, advice, about moving overseas and a lot of what I read indicated that the UB shipment didn’t show up any earlier to make a difference. In some cases it showed up at the same time as the regular shipment, and it could even show up later! What is the point of sending 1000 pounds of your stuff early if it doesn’t even get to you early? Even worse, what is the point of sending it if you were going to be living in a hotel for an extended amount of time? Look online to find out what others experienced for the specific place you are going. We did not do the UB shipment, and we ended up in a hotel for 47 days. Our stuff arrived before the apartment we rented was ready to live in.

1a. Add to that, overseas posts have rental furniture you can borrow. Sure your own bed would be nice, but no bed at all would be worse! We were loaned wardrobes (homes outside of the US are very different compared to in the US. Our apartment does have a couple of closets, but not in any of the bedrooms.), a dining room table and chairs, a couch, and nightstands.

2. Make a list of clothing, and then cross items off of the list. I was not sure exactly what the weather was like as I was told European weather can change from morning to afternoon (um, just like anywhere else? LOL), so my first list was basically anything I loved to wear. Since that wouldn’t work I ended up with basics (four jeans, eight tops, three dresses, two cardigans) that I could layer and wouldn’t look like I was wearing the same thing ever day (something no one but me would notice anyway!). My list for the kids was the same, except for the youngest as he usually gets messy quicker than the older kids.

2a. Not every hotel will have an on-site laundromat! We found one a few blocks away from our hotel. Keep this in mind as you pack underthings!

3. Look up what the airline will let you bring. Often people think that all airlines will let all military members fly with an unlimited amount of luggage. This just isn’t true. We flew three separate airlines to get to out final city in France and had three sets of rules to follow. The first let us fly with an unlimited number of bags, as long as one bag didn’t weigh over 100 pounds. The next airline let us fly with four per person, as long as they weren’t over 100 pounds. The final airline let us have three per person, with a 70 pound limit. The last one was the only time we ran into trouble as we really stuffed our luggage. We were fine, we just had to redistribute the weight in the bags. We were lucky because the last airline had a separate check in area for those flying with children (because people often fly with car seats, strollers, etc.) so we didn’t hold up the regular line.

4. Remember that there will be stores wherever you are going. Sure the military can send you to out of the way places, but in general you will have access to a store with anything that you need. We ended up packing a lot more liquids than we planned on packing, because the moving company would not pack everything to ship it. We used a lot of zip lock bags in case anything spilled. And even though there are stores here, it was nice to not throw away something we already spent money on.

We ended up driving around with (and then flying with) 13 pieces of luggage, and my sewing machine, which was in its original box. We packed towels, blankets, the extra shampoo, soap, etc., in luggage that we didn’t access every time we stopped somewhere. When we did stop we only took in two or three pieces of luggage, just having enough outfits for however many days we were at each place. We visited family in three states over four weeks. Luggage is an investment that I highly recommend! A good set will last you years, well years if you get a nice guy/gal handing it if you are a frequent flyer.

Living in France without a Car

Thus far we have managed to live here without a car. At first we figured we would buy a car after crossing our fingers and hoping to find an automatic, but the extra costs associated with having a car outweighed our desire. We would have to find a place to park – either paid on the street or paid garage. Said garage would not be that close to us, which means we would have to get to the car to go anywhere, which just adds time to whatever we want to do. I did not check but I have read that car insurance here is a high cost, in addition to any car here would be a second car payment since we are still paying for our car we left in the US.

We have the tramway (right outside our door), and of course trains and planes. Any trips we are going on will be taken that way. I’m sure we’ll run into delays because that is just an inevitable thing, but we are willing to deal with that. I signed up for the train newsletters and every time a deal hits the inbox I want to go somewhere!

Living without a car is SO easy, and many people also don’t have a car. The transportation in town is good and if they go somewhere nearby they rent a car. I love that we have these options available.

Nametag Swap

I joined the Nametag Swap hosted by Rachel at House of Pinheiro, and I realized I haven’t been posting so my partner can learn more about me! I am teamed up with Jen at Tea for Two. And then I recall high school newspaper and my teacher being frustrated with me, saying that using bullet points in an article wasn’t acceptable and I knew that, so why did I do it. But in this case, when I still need to take pictures for the blog posts I have planned, seven bullet points it is -

  • I love to sew. I know how to embroider, crochet, cross stitch – but at the end of the day, I love to sew.
  • I love bright colors – when I sew. I don’t dress like I love bright colors – my wardrobe is full of dark dresses and tops.

2012-08-29 11.13.12Okay there are some exceptions. (forgive the lighting!)

  • Since moving overseas I wear cowboy boots every day. It’s like I’m in high school again! And my hair is halfway down my back, another high school throwback. I am getting a haircut as soon as I can make an appointment, but the boots won’t go away. Fashion here is far from my jeans and sneakers, but I’m not that evolved so I merely wear jeans and boots. Comfy and though I’m sure I don’t look French, I wonder if I still look super American. Probably.
  • I dress fairly conservatively so I wear flashy jewelry. I wear almost only Native American jewelry – beaded, cooper, silver, quill, etc. The majority of my jewelry is handmade by someone, maybe I know them, maybe not. I do wear other jewelry not specifically Native though! I just love jewelry in general I suppose.

2012-08-28 08.05.48 2012-08-30 18.15.10 2012-09-01 16.29.14

  • I have just as many WIPs as I do finished projects. Since moving here, I have easily seven quilt tops – to be honest I haven’t counted. I am quick to start a new project without finishing, to get the idea out of my head, to cut the fabric to have it ready to sew.
  • I love binge watching tv. We gave up on conventional cable when we moved to Pebble Beach over a year ago. Moving overseas we do subscribe, but of course it’s in French – which is great because we need to learn, etc. – but the truth is we don’t watch much of it. We have Netflix and Hulu and watch a show a night when we are interested in catching up on a show we forgot about (Revolution!), and I have a few tv shows on DVD to watch/listen to while sewing. Grey’s Anatomy is a favorite, but sometimes I fall back on oldies like Friends or yes I admit it, Dawson’s Creek.
  • I love to read. If I love a book, I will stay up late to finish and focus on only reading it. If I don’t love a book though, I’m quick to toss it to the side. We left so many of our books behind, in storage. We have ordered some from Amazon here and there, and I have yet to jump on the e-reader bandwagon. Books and magazines may take a lot of space but I’ve always been okay with that.

And with that, I am off to take pictures of a quilt back I finished, and another quilt top I finished, and a bag I made, and whatever WIPs I have covering my sewing and cutting table! My room, it is a mess.

How To Adjust Time Zones Quickly

When we left the US and moved to France I was prepared with a bottle of melatonin for us to all take so we would have an easier time getting adjusted to the time change. Of course when I read about how to use it, I came across all the scary, don’t take this or else, omg all of this can happen to kids stories. So I figured we would have to just sleep and figure it out.

F-GUGBPhoto via flickr

First of all - fly at night. We flew from San Francisco and with the flight time and the time difference, we landed in Paris in the morning. It was a little difficult to sleep on the plane, but everyone in the family managed to get at least a handful of hours of sleep.

When we finally got all of our luggage and found the van that was taking us to the hotel, we were excited, tired, and hungry. After getting checked in and separating the luggage into storage and using for the week, we ventured to find food. We found it right up the block – and paid about $50 for some small, sad, salads and a sandwich. Talk about being taken!

But we went back to the hotel and I and the youngest ended up taking a nap while the rest of the family went for a walk, and they laid down soon after they came back. I woke up for dinner and we went for a quick walk to get a power cord for our laptop before returning. Everyone woke up off and on between dinner and about 1 A.M. before I said okay everyone to bed. After waking for a busy day of finishing things, we all went to bed early and enjoyed a long night of rest.

So – take a night flight, nap on and off the rest of the day when you arrive, sleeping all night and wake at a normal hour. Let’s hope this works when people come to visit!

Conflicted about HIMYM

It’s taken me a couple of days of thinking about HIMYM (and watching old episodes on netflix) before deciding if I like how the series ended. And I’m still not sure.

Barney – I do love that after years of not really loving anyone, he loved his daughter. Sometimes that’s what it takes right! Kids can change people. But he did love Robin. I’m not sure I’d accept a great three years as a great marriage and have that be that. Especially after we watched them all season work toward getting married. If the series kept going, would they have gotten a divorce? I suppose so since the show ultimately ended a certain way…

Robin – why can’t Barney just stand by her, realizing that her career is awesome, and be supportive! He had to have grown up and not be so selfish, right? I like that she had a great career at least.

Lily – what happened to her painting, or her involvement in art anyway? I don’t think it’s that great that her accomplishment in the end is that she had kids. Is that great, yes, but she is more than a Mom. She and Marshall broke up because of her painting! They moved to Italy for her painting! Did she go back to teaching?

Marshall – Supreme Fudge! Kind of cool. But whatever happened to saving the environment?

Ted – Ted. Ted. Ted! What the heck. He’s stood outside Robin’s place many times, but geez. Did we really watch this show for this long to have him and Robin get together? The idea is telling stories to your kids about … how you met their mother. Not how you met your mother, but really you wanted to hook up with Aunt Robin, even after all those years. Bad form.

The Mother – she seemed like Ted’s perfect person. The bass guitar, the two kids, one boy, one girl (okay no one really gets to pick that). Their story seemed like it was a great one. But her dying – that sucks. That had to happen for Ted and Robin to hook up, the Mother was too built up to have them get a divorce. She was perfect.

If the show ended once they met, it would have been awesome.

I read that the actors playing the kids filmed their scenes years ago, since they would of course grow up as time went on. But why not have them film a bunch of different scenarios!

I think I like this alternate ending a lot.

WIP It Now

I have been sewing an insane amount. Seriously. Well, I was until a few weeks ago. I am in a sewing slump. I haven’t sat and sewn anything in all that time! After four or so months of sewing every single day, a slump had to come at some point right.

Anyway, moving here has changed my day. All three kids are in school (even the just turned four year old – more on French education/schools soon) four days a week, and so I am free to do whatever. Once I got a sewing machine (because I plugged my American one in here and boom, wrecked it), there was no stopping me. I love sewing so this has been a new feeling for me, I am even late on a swap! I feel terrible about that, it’s the first time I’ve ever been late.

Over the weekend I cleaned my sewing room, thinking that cleaning it would motivate me. And it sort of worked! I found what I think is my oldest WIP, here are the strips for half of the blocks -


I started this in I think 2008 or 2009. It was a class at a LQS when we lived in Texas. I love the main fabric for this. I put the finished blocks up on my ‘design wall’ (really a piece of batting stuck to the wall) to remind myself that I loved it. It worked. I am very excited to finish this.

I often download patterns and just save them. It’s like pictures that live in your computer – patterns live in mine. I decided I needed to just print one off and do it. So I printed the Cargo Duffle and forced myself to pick fabric. I love what I picked, but I need to decide if I like the flaps for the pockets. I’m leaning toward yes, but also just leaving them laying there (only since yesterday!) to decide. I cut the fabric and sewed Monday and Tuesday. I need a zipper though, I bought one but it isn’t big enough so I need to go looking again.


And I have so many projects I decided to pick one out that is close to being finished and just finish it. This starquilt (that is actually either a large wall hanging or a large table runner) needs the corners and triangles cut out before the top is finished.

IMG_6421[1]Linking up with WIP Wednesday

After Six Months

FlowersFlowers in a garden by the castle, early morning last week.

It’s been about six months since we have been in France. So far -

~ we eat a late dinner. Almost every single night! We don’t eat until 7:30 or 8PM. This is relatively normal for families here. There seems to be an emphasis on goĆ»ter – which means a snack – after school (or on the weekends) which holds you until dinner.

~ ride the tram or bus or walk everywhere. We love this. It’s a fifteen minute ride to IKEA, from end to end it’s probably 40-45 minutes, though we have never done that. The only problem with that is IKEA has turned into our version of Target. And we all know how easy it is to jump in the car and go to Target.

~ the kids are all speaking French. While I knew this would happen, it’s still kind of amazing to hear them having conversations with their friends or have them help me when we are out somewhere.

~ we have some friends that have already made their mark. I’ve been called Auntie, someone gave me a recipe that was from their Grandma, we have people we can call in case of an emergency (we haven’t had any, knock on wood, but I am happy to have phone numbers saved in my phone).

I was doing a photo a day on instagram, but admit I lost speed. I am getting back to that, I need to figure out what day I would be on first! Our first six months here included a living in a hotel, figuring out the bus schedule, getting used to a new way of eating, enjoying that everything is closed on Sunday’s, and so much more. Here’s to another six months, which will include more pictures, travel, friends over for dinner, birthday celebrations, and so much more.