We found many gems on last year's list. Sweet Baboo and I have a specific way of handling The List. He calls me the instant he can to inform me it has been published. I will immediately work to clear the schedule for the evening, if possible, so we can hover over all of the possibilities. When he brings it home, I immediately make two copies. One stays unmarked so he can make the final decision and send it to branch. One goes to me, and the final copy goes to him. I mark the crap out of my copy. Highlighters, colored pens, pencil marks... I unashamedly use them all. I scribble, make notes, and even draw simple smiley faces to quickly annotate my immediate thoughts on the area. Then I rush to the computer to look up exact geographical locations, homeschooling laws, and other details to see if we would enjoy living there or if it would be simply "surviving the duty station". (To date, we still consider ourselves to not have had to "survive the duty station".)
Sweet Baboo, on the other hand, grabs a pencil and sensibly marks his page according to what would be the best next move for his career. He does take into consideration the happiness and ability to adapt on behalf of his family, but he also knows that he has a house full of adventurers who get hungry for action. He takes the list to several people in his MOS to discuss professional development potentials, and seek any first-hand wisdom they may provide. Then, we come together with our lists to compare notes.
Most of the time, we have at least one thing in common in the top three. In the top ten, we generally share at least four desires. We laugh, drink a glass of wine (or beer... depending on what we have at the time), and make big plans for the future. We negotiate... he always gets to pick the top three since he's the guy in the boots. But he's a good man, and asks me what I would put up there. He always sneaks at least one of my wants in his top three list.
During last year's negotiations, we agreed that a trip to Korea would be fantastic. He had already done a tour in Korea; we hadn't even met yet. He has been itching to get his family there since the day we married, and with Korea on The List, we finally had a chance! So it went at the top of the list. Months went by with no word on where we would move. Branch has a lot to do during PCS season, and we have to learn how to sit and wait. But eventually, we got word that we got Korea! And Sweet Baboo and I celebrated... until the next day, when we were told that the tour would not be command sponsored. Basically, that means that the girls and I could move to Korea, but we wouldn't be officially recognized by DOD (either financially, or in the event an emergency happened and the family members of troops would need to be evacuated). It also meant our 2 year tour would be changed to become his 1 year tour. We would stay behind at our current location.
For the next couple of weeks, I was in a fog of denial; I would spend hours scouring the internet for information on the command sponsorship freeze in the hopes to find some loophole that would allow us to continue with Sweet Baboo. I thought I had found it one time, but the information was so outdated that I didn't trust it was pertinent. Finally, a friend in Korea told me that she had heard about the possibility of an exception to policy. "Give it a try", she encouraged.
|The closest thing to a family portrait we have ever had: our two dogs, two kids, and Sweet Baboo photobombing me (on purpose) on a mini vacation.|
|The day the packers came to take Sweet Baboo's stuff to Korea... and leave our stuff at home.|
|The day Sweet Baboo left for Korea. Our farewells aren't sad... until he's out of sight. But we had a glimmer of hope in our back pockets to hold on to...|
And we waited. And I heard nothing. And I waited. And I asked my husband if there were even whispers to hint of what we could expect. Nope. So we waited even more. My calendar was full of activities for me and the girls; between those activities and our homeschooling we were very busy during the day. But then night came, and Korea was awake and I couldn't sleep. So I waited even more.
Then one night, as I was dozing on the couch, Sweet Baboo called from Korea: our packet was approved! I was half asleep and dreaming of our family being together again, so when I awoke the next morning I wasn't sure if the call was a dream or not. My inlaws were staying the night with us so I didn't check my email until late in the morning. The orders were at the top of my inbox's unread messages!
My dream was about to become a reality, but not without a whole lot of insanity first. This is our Great Big Korean Adventure. Hang on... it's going to be a stressful ride!