A couple of weeks ago I posted two calendar pages (July and August), as well as those orange sheets of paper you see (each sheet of paper is divided in two, with two lists per page...the bottom sheet on the right has only one list though). On the calendars we only listed events that affected both of us/the whole family, such as birthday parties, meetings that I needed to attend and that required Chet to leave work at a reasonable time to come home and watch the girls (they always work late nights in the weeks leading up to deployment), date nights we planned, etc.
As far as the lists on the orange paper, I thought it best to divide our to-do items into categories. Here are the seven categories everything more or less fit into:
- Chet Buy
- Chet Pack
- Household (this is the "honey do" list)
- Baby ("decide on names" was the first item on this to-do list)
- Post-Deployment (this is for me only, and lists things I need to wait to do until after he leaves, such as put his cell phone plan on hold, etc.)
The "Baby" list is also short. In addition to "decide on names", we are still working on getting all of the paperwork together to allow our non-military family members to come visit and help while Chet is gone. There is a lot of paperwork involved in obtaining permission for people be allowed to drive on and off base without one of us as an escort.
"Paperwork/Misc." lists items such as attaining Powers of Attorney.
"Fun" was the most fun list to take care of (duh). There were a few shows that Chet and I wanted to get caught up on before he left ("The Office: Season 8", the latest seasons of "Grey's Anatomy" and "Parenthood"). The Daddy Dolls were also on the "Fun" list, as well as putting together our candy jar:
We counted out how many days Chet would be gone (although it is impossible to know exactly at this point, but we tried nonetheless), and multiplied that number by two. Every day, Sydney and Lorelei will each get to eat one dark chocolate M&M from the jar. I've heard something like this is a good visual reminder for kids in understanding how much time is left before a loved one returns home (especially towards the end). Lorelei was "helping" do this. Here she is, requesting/begging for "more":
Having those calendars and lists posted on the front of our kitchen cabinets has been instrumental in keeping us organized. This is the first time I've done this, and I don't think I'll ever not do it again. Having our to-do lists visible to everyone (rather than hidden in a notebook that only I maintain) has prevented surprises that lead to squabbles, and has forced us to actually do the things we know we ought to do. I can tell you now that not everything on these lists will get done, but that's okay. Chet and I are on the same page with what's crucial and what's "nice, but not 100% necessary." Also, it is so satisfying to cross off the items with a red Sharpie.
The only thing that hasn't happened yet is Chet starting to pack. Well, he's started a little bit, but not enough. That's another mistake we've made over and over: waiting to pack until the night before. It's miserable, and we're not going to let it happen this time. In fact, he's going to do quite a bit of packing today, and continue a little bit each night this week. Hopefully it will make that night-before-deployment a little more pleasant than it has been in the past.
I think one reason packing beforehand has been so hard is because of the lack of space we have at home. What Chet needs is a giant empty room to lay everything out in, and we just don't have one. Perhaps he could spread everything out on the floor in the main living areas if we didn't have Sydney and Lorelei running around, but we do have Sydney and Lorelei running around, so...
Anyway, here is the packing pile so far:
And one of his bags, waiting to be filled:
Like I said, we don't have much space at home, and we already have tons of piles going right now. For example, here is Sydney's preschool supplies pile, which we will take with us to her Open House on August 1st:
And here are boxes and boxes of baby girl clothes, all of which I lent to my next-door-neighbor, and she recently returned:
I am not going to open these unless we find out we're having a girl. If we're having a boy, these boxes may just go straight to the thrift store or someone I know with a girl (I'm certainly not going to hold on to them -- I've already saved the items I love best).
And there you have it, folks! Our pre-deployment preps, and the piles of stuff around our house!