Now that we've got Christmas over with it's time to get serious about leaving. We leave in less than a month and the packers are coming (as soon as Brandon finally gets his TM4 back from DC so he can schedule them. Christmas is a bad time to try to get orders processed) in less than three weeks.
I've been working on some preparations for leaving, but it's mostly been organizing computer files, collecting all of that important information like bank account numbers and passwords and putting them in one file, and organizing our music collection. The last task isn't exactly vital but I know myself enough to realize that if I don't do it now I'll never do it. So even though my house is a mess I now have all of the music we own organized in iTunes complete with cover art and correct genre. Not necessary, but very satisfying every time I open iTunes.
It's a good thing Brandon has three days off this week for New Year celebrations.
Every time we move we have a weight allowance, which is generally the bane of every Foreign Service Spouse's life when it's time for packout. When we joined and I found out the allowance I was schocked - how in the world could anyone have 7,200 pounds of stuff? That's over three and a half tons. It's not like we even have to furnish our own houses. We could never own that many possessions.
All of you FS folks can now stop laughing.
The first time we packed out of Utah we had 2,500 pounds. Then we shipped an additional shipment from VA that was about 750 pounds. When we left Cairo we had 5,000 pounds and shipped another 1,000 from VA. And in the two years we've been here the stream of packages from Amazon hasn't stopped coming. Combine that with the impressive amount of leftover consumables we have (a hundred pounds of popcorn? One-fifty of wheat?), and I'm definitely getting nervous.
So now it's time to play how much weight can we lose in the next three weeks. I've been mentally preparing for the last six months and marking various items for the axe. Brandon has whole shelves of textbooks from college that the internet, my kindle, and geopolitics have made obsolete and I'm pretty sure that some of the children's toys can quietly be sent to the donate pile after they've gone to bed. But there's still just a lot of stuff that I can't get rid of. Sure you use Christmas decorations only once a year, but they still have to come. Children's clothing can be reused by a younger sibling, saving hundreds of dollars. And homeschooling in foreign countries means that you get to be your own library.
A few weeks ago I was in a good mood so I attacked my closet. I tried to be as ruthless as I could bring myself to be. If I hadn't worn that grey sweater in the last two years I probably wasn't going to wear it in the next two. And that swimsuit hadn't seen chlorine in at least seven. As much as I liked the idea of those jeans ever fitting again, five children say that probably won't ever happen. And even if it did (major illness is always a possibility), the jeans are already out of fashion anyway.
Dresses that were too short, even if I still liked them, got regretfully folded up and put in bags. Shoes that I don't wear at least once a month were sent to the same place. Sweaters, shirts, pants, jeans, skirts, and shorts all ended up in a rapidly growing pile of plastic bags filling up the middle of my closet. Then I pulled out the bin of maternity clothes and filled more bags.
As the girls drifted through watching the proceedings they would occasionally lodge a protest. "But Mom," they would wail, "maybe I could wear that when I'm a little older!" "Not that dress! You look so pretty in it." But I stayed the course, keeping moving scales in mind. Time to slim down.
After a few hours I gathered all of my bags together and admired the collection. 'That is a lot of clothes,' I marveled, 'I've done pretty well.' Then I got out my travel scale and started weighing. The first bag came in at a disappointing ten pounds. I moved on. Seven. The next bag was shoes. Thirteen. Spirits sinking, I kept weighing. Eleven. Nine. Fourteen. After all was done, I totaled up the weight of my biggest clothes purge ever. Fifty-two pounds.
So we have a lot of work left to do. I'm hoping that somewhere in our house there is a closet full of lead bars that someone snuck into our shipment last time that will weight at least a ton or two. If that doesn't happen, maybe another miracle might help me out. Wish me luck.