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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Decisions, Decisions!

Thank you all so much for your support over the news of Joe's upcoming year-long deployment; it's meant a lot to read all of your comments.

Now that we've had almost a week to get used to the idea we have some decisions to make; and of course the military wants these decisions yesterday! To say I've been consumed with all the choices and what-ifs and what-nots is an understatement. We had an 8+ hour drive back from OK and believe me we hashed it out over and over about what the best decisions would be and the pros and cons and still haven't come to a definite decision on anything!

One decision is whether Joe wants to come back to this base after the deployment or get orders elsewhere. He's not guaranteed his first choice, but he does receive priority preference. He's been stationed here 9 years come Nov and I guess you could say we're used to it. We know we don't want to retire here though and would like to go somewhere else for a change (although I realize the grass isn't always greener on the other side!) So the first decision is to submit a list of bases we'd like to go to.

The other decision is the choice of us staying here, or moving "back home" (and I refer to "back home" loosely since I don't have a hometown, back home would be moving in with my mom and stepdad in MD) . Years ago I was of the opinion I wouldn't move back home just because Joe would be gone for a year - I'm an adult and have my own life and didn't see the need to move back home. That was pre-children and when I had a job. Even after Kayla was born I still didn't see the need to uproot everything and move in with my mom; I knew families who did that, but I didn't think it was worth the trouble of moving. When Joe received the phone call last Mon he did bring up the possibility to me and again my initial reaction was not to move because we're settled here and would get through it. I did ponder the possibility of having my mom move out here with us though!

Then Joe reminded me that if I did move to MD we would receive BAH. For the non-military BAH is 'basic allowance for housing', extra money, or a stipend, in your paycheck - if you're not living in military housing you receive BAH to help pay for rent/mortgage and utilities. BAH rates are based on your rank and the area's cost of living so it's different all over the country. So he decided to look up the rate for where my mom lives just to see, and it's $2000 a month, when you multiply that by 12 months, well I'm sure you can do the math!

This isn't money I would need to touch at all - I would automatically put that aside every month because we would live off his base pay like we do now. This would be
"extra" money and at the end of the year we will be able to put away $24K just from the BAH alone, and we would get the full amount because his paycheck is tax-free while he's deployed. Once I started thinking about it like that I realized this is a great opportunity for us to put a large amount of money away for our future - it could be a down payment on a house, college savings account, retirement account...

But it's still not that easy to just say, 'ok let's move!' - so much to still think about. There are pros and cons for every decision. Here are some of the things I've been thinking about to try and help us make this decision.

Reasons for staying here on base:
- We wouldn't have to move (although if we stayed we would most likely move to one of the newer, bigger houses on base in the next couple of months, so we would be packing/unpacking)
- Kayla wouldn't have to move in the middle of the school year (but since Joe's orders upon returning would probably be Feb/Mar she would be moving in the middle of the following school year anyway)
- I'm "settled" here- I'm used to the base/town and everything being so close. I have most of what I need on base within 5 min - BX, Commissary, Post Office, gas station, library, church, gym, school
- It would feel weird not living on base anymore, although Andrews AFB is about 1/2 hr from my mom's place
- I'm involved with MOPS, the enlisted spouses' group, and a Bunco group I play with monthly
- Since Joe deployed last year I'm familiar with the support we would get from on base organizations
- I've been "on my own" for almost 15 years and I think it would take some getting used to not living in my own house, having my own things etc.
- We wouldn't have to make another cross-country drive (ugh! just the thought of it!)

Reasons to move:
- I've already mentioned the extra money we would make from living off base
- Being close to family and having that support
- There is a MOPS group in town
- There is a Down syndrome support group
- My sister comes home from college just about every weekend and Kayla absolutely adores her Aunt Kelly
- Live-in babysitters!
- I get along great with my mom, so I know it wouldn't drive me crazy to move back in with her
- I think it might actually help Kayla cope with Joe being gone if we were around more family - she would have other adults there for her, who love her and can help provide support...it wouldn't be just me she was depending on. I know she will still miss Joe, but it might be a nice distraction to have grandparents and her Aunt Kelly around

If we move we would have to put pretty much our whole household in storage though... there wouldn't be any need (not to mention room!) to move everything to MD if we move in with my mom...we wouldn't need any furniture, dishes, cookware, etc, so everything would go into storage except clothing, personal belongings like photo albums, paperwork, toys, books etc. We need to find out if the military will move our stored stuff to his follow-on location, and if they'll move the other household goods to MD - otherwise we can only bring what will fit in the van and Joe's truck, which will fill up really quickly!

It would also help to know where Joe will be stationed next. It wouldn't make a lot of sense to move us to MD if he ends up getting orders on the west coast! However if he got orders somewhere on the east coast then we would already be in MD and be closer for the next move.

I don't really want to make another cross-country drive so soon, but we can't really fly out there because we have our vehicles to move too...so much to think about!

Stressed already? Check!

We're leaning towards moving to MD, we just need to figure out some details and get some questions answered. I've put up a poll on the right side bar...(disclaimer - I am not basing such a big decision on the results of the poll, I just think it would be fun, and I'm curious, to see what the majority would do in this situation - provided you have a good relationship with your mom/parents and could handle living at home again!)

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AZ Chapman said...

this is a tough one I don't know but I do have a suggestion

why not buy /rent a house in MD close to your mom?

remeber this comes from a 16 year old what do i know

Sandra said...

Michelle this is a tough one and it's going to be hard deciding. I, myself, if I had the chance, I would move back home with my parents, it wouldn't just be the extra money thing, but being able to have someone there to help me because you know when our guys get deployed, EVERYTHING goes wrong LOL

But I also understand the need to stay put and where you are used to being, you are familiar with things, you have the security of the base and feeling safe, you have everything on hand.

Ugh, it's a tough one!

I will be praying for you guys, things will be fine whatever you decided.


Lilith Silvermane said...

Hey hon.. you've been tagged :)

Lilith Silvermane said...

GAh.. I published too soon!!


rylie's mom said...

Oh my goodness, you do have a big decision to make. I have know idea what to even suggest for you, but I will keep you in my prayers. Things always have a way of working out!

annie said...

I think it would be hard, but I would move home with my mom. It's so hard to parent without any help... and while it would feel weird to not have my own space, knowing it was only for a year would make it tolerable. I think you would be so much less lonely and you could still do fun things with built in babysitters. The BAH would make it totally worth it too! You two could take a second honeymoon when he comes back with part of it... or take the kiddos to Disneyworld and have a wonderful family vacation and still save the rest. The possibilities are endless!

Mom24 said...

Wow! Big decisions. That is a LOT of money, I do agree. Wow! I don't think that makes it black and white though. Good luck deciding. At least no matter what you do, we're here for you! You can take us anywhere. I'll be praying for you. I'm sure no matter which you pick it will work out for you.

Shelley said...

Stay where you are! You are going to want your own space and to be around people who understand. You also want to keep as much consistent for your kids as possible. Putting the money away would be nice....but it's not worth what you'll be giving up. JMHO from someone who's been there.

Dori (Aviva's mommy) said...

First off big HUGS. It is a tough decision. I wish it was easy to make.

But being with family and having the help may make it easier on you then being alone. Even with all the support you have.

Good luck with the decision.

Me said...

That is a tough decision to make! I know I'd probably move back to my parents in a similar situation though. :) Good luck with the decision making process!

Trace :)

Heather said...

Wow, Michelle! These are tough ones. Also, there is a program that the AF offers that allows you to have money directly taken from your check and saved away and it will earn 10% interest for the length of the deployment so that is another opportunity to make extra money. I think it depends on how the orders are worded if they are listed as a 365 deployment or 365 PCS but it may be worth checking into!
I'm thinking about you guys!!

Omaha Mama said...

I think I would move back with my parents. But I don't know how "at home" you feel there. I would be lonely, and wouldn't like living alone. You already did it for four months, but that wasn't with two kids! I think that by moving to MD, you could make it through the deployment with more help and support. But what do I know? Not much! I just hope that the decision comes to you and you can feel very secure in whatever you choose.

Ctevia said...

I know that I'll be where you are in about 2 years and it freaks me out already! For me, with one child, I couldn't move in with anyone. Too much time has passed with me being on my own. Living near, sure. In the same house? Couldn't see it. But MAN, that $24K would be tempting!

But I've never been the mother of 2, y'know? I know you'll do what's best for your family.

Shannon @ Gabi's World said...

You have to do what is best for you, but if it were me, I'd be moving home! It's only a year, and I think you are right about it helping keep Kayla distracted from the fact that Daddy won't be there. I cried tears with the video of his last return. I think I'll be a blubbering fool with the next return.

Best wishes in whatever you decide.

Tricia said...

l selfish reasons aside (like you living in the same state as me), I have to honestly say I would move back home. I was already wondering if you might consider it, but I have to say (not having my second child yet) that I can only imagine it would be a HUGE help with the kids, not to mention that extra $, and wow...this weekend has really opened my eyes in terms of having family around. I wish I had a way to do it myself.

Where in MD does your mom live again? If there is anything ANYTHING I could do to help if you do move here, DO NOT hesitate to ask!

Also...there are companies that will move your car for you if you wanted to fly with the kids. Or move one car and all drive together. There are companies who will either ship the car or drive it for you and depending on WHEN you do it sometimes you can hire, like, a college kid to drive it for you b/c they are looking for a ride home.

It's a huge and difficult decision. Good luck!

Dave and Rachel said...

First of all I want to say to your whole family thanks for serving our country. I will be praying for the decision!

Anonymous said...

Decisions, decisions, decisions... whatever you decide will be the right decision, but know that whatever you choose, you will always second guess yourself. Isn't life funny that way... :)Michelle, always remember that I love you... Love mom

Kiki said...

That is a tough decision that only you and your family can make. However, before you decide, the BAH that you will get will be for the duty station he is at now, not where your mom lives.

Karen said...

You know you'll be so much closer in MD, and that would be great!

But I'll pray with you over the decision, it's a biggie.

Michelle said...

Oh, if you have the opportunity to have family to be with for the time Joe is gone? I would totally vote for that! (and, I did!)

Good luck with your decision...

Heidi said...

Wow, tough one. Aren't you glad to have people to talk to about it. A pro either way is that you will still have your "blogging friends." Here's my 2 cents. You are already making a sacrifice by him leaving, make it worth your while & get the money & the sanity from having your mom help with the kids, you may just go crazy all by yourself.

Shelley said...

michelle - that is such a toughie - and i have no idea - but I'll be praying and hoping that things go well - whatever you decide to do...

chelle said...

Have faith, the right decision will be the one you make.

Nancy M. said...

Gosh this is a hard one. I think the money you could save would be awesome. And if you get along great with your mom, then I would probably move back there. But, I so love living alone, so it would be a hard decision. I would pray about it.

Every minute counts.... said...

It would be a very tough decision. I would probably move back to family, like you said, it would make it seem to go by a little faster for the kids if no one else. Plus, you could make some awesome future plans with the extra $$$ that would be coming in. It would be really tough to leave all the friends/ familiar surroundings though.

Michelle said...

Awww - fudge. That's just tough to decide! I stayed where we where when Michael was in Korea. But (big but!), we'd just gotten married 6 months before, had NO kids, a house off base and 2 dogs and a cat. I had a full time job and all our friends where there. The extra money and help would be awefully nice though, huh? Hoping for many clear thoughts for you all! :)

Michelle said...

Awww - fudge. That's just tough to decide! I stayed where we where when Michael was in Korea. But (big but!), we'd just gotten married 6 months before, had NO kids, a house off base and 2 dogs and a cat. I had a full time job and all our friends where there. The extra money and help would be awefully nice though, huh? Hoping for many clear thoughts for you all! :)

Beck said...

A YEAR! Oh, Michelle.
I would move in with my mom. I totally would. The money part makes utter sense AND the extra support would be wonderful - since she doesn't drive you nuts, I think the extra help would be a blessing.

mom2noah said...

No matter what decision is made it will be the best one, you just have to believe that. Personally, I was excited to read you may be moving back East, as that would put us closer to one another. Keep faith the right decision will surface. Lots of hugs coming your way.

Laura said...

I'm praying for you and what you feel is best to do. I'd love to vote but I'm 50/50 on this is one. I'm not sure what I'd do. Whatever you do I know you'll make the best of it, and you'll remain in my prayers!

Killlashandra said...

You're going to move to MD and our kids still won't get a play date. ;) I missed the first post about this and will have to backtrack a little. But I do have to tease just a little bit too.

It looks like you guys have really put lots of thought into this. Moving is stressful no matter which way you go. But I have to say, the idea of being closer to family is always so wonderful.

I think the real catch is whether or not the military helps rather than hinders your decision to move. Sometimes the best laid plans result in contingency plans when orders change again.

I hope you're not stressing too much. :)

Kim said...

Go with your gut. You know what is best for you and your family. :)

Thomas said...

Good luck In deciding. We live near our parents and it is nice. As long as you get along well with them. It may be a good chose. My sister moved back with my parents for a time to save money. It seems to be going well for her. Her dose complain that she has got stuck cooking a lot ofthe meals and doing most the dishes.

Tara said...

Michelle, I'm thinking of you all. You are a tower of strength, that is for sure.

Barb said...

The bottom fell out of my stomach when I read that he's going to be away 13 months this time, Michelle.

I've sat here and asked myself what I'd do in your situation and as much as it wouldn't be the perfect situation, I think I'd move in with my family. There's the money of course. That's a very nice nest egg. And you make a good point about how having her family around will help Kayla.

And then there's the fact that you yourself may find comfort in your family, with him gone so long.

I'm sorry you even have to make these decisions. I know this is part of the military life, but it must be so hard.

You and Joe are in my prayers.

Robin said...

UGH! I feel for you! So sorry to hear about Joe's deployment. I am so sick of this 15 month deployment. So many friends have already been (or about to go) through this too. Hang tough.

Julie said...

Since you do get along well with your mom I voted for you to go. I on the other hand would NEVER want to move back in with my mom. Love her to death but so wouldn't go well. Anyway I still think you should pray really hard about it. He will help you make your final decision.

The Girls' Mommy said...

You'll figure out what's best, and if it helps Kayla would automatically have 4 little girl friends happy to play with her if you do move out here :)

Amy said...

I've always wondered what I would do in this situation. I've always told my husband that if we lived across country from my parents when he was deployed I would want to go home to MD. Luckily we just got restaioned in MD for at least another 3 years so my family is close enough to help out when he is gone - like now for 8 months.

I'm sure you would be able to handle it on your own but having that extra support from family is always great. My Mom comes over at least once a week when my husband is gone to help out and give me some much needed adult interaction.

It won't be an easy decision but either way I think you'll be able to make it work!

Jill said...

I just came over by way of Mommy doesn't live here anymore... and had to comment. I saw the photo of your beautiful children and it warmed my heart. My best friend's daughter is 6 - and also has Down's Syndrome. I've known her since she was 1 year old, and just moved away from her 2 weeks ago after living next door for almost 5 years. Your daughter's mesmerizing eyes and smile brought back much needed memories!

We're with the State Department - currently living overseas for our 5th year - and at our first post that doesn't have a military presence. I can't even imagine what you're going through with your husband's deployment - but wanted to offer support during this decision making time. Good luck to you and your family! We've watched many a friend get deployed and it's always tough for everyone involved.

Dana a/k/a Sunshine said...

Sorry I'm a few posts behind. Wow, that is a big decision, but honestly, you've laid it out with the pros and cons quite nicely. It would be a difficult decision, but $24,000 a year, and you would be with your family and an opportunity for your kids to spend time with them...and for you to have some support...WOW, I have to say, I would probably have to go with moving. I think the benefits for me would outweight the drawbacks.

Money for college, for expensese, wow - I have a 13 year old who will be off to college (presumably) in less than 5 years and I am really worried REALLY worried about how I'm going to pay for it. If I had $24,000 socked away, at least that would be a great start and financial security.

Good luck with your decision. I'm sure you'll let us know once you decide!

Sue said...

This just stinks. I can totally see why you'd be debating this. Even when you get along really well with people, it's harder to live with them. I have a great relationship with my parents, but living with them would be tough at times. But so much easier with the kids.

Hey - NJ isn't too far from Maryland. ;) Maybe we could visit. There's another for the Pro list. LOL

Jeanette said...

Oh Michelle, I am so sorry that you are having to make this kind of decision. I've lived the life of a military wife, even spent 4 years overseas, but never went through this situation. You are in my prayers. Whatever decision you make, you will make the best of it. Take it from a military brat (dad was in the Navy for 20 years), your kids will take their cues from you. However you "respond" to his deployment, they will follow suit. My father was gone anywhere from 3-12 months at a time for most of my childhood. My mother made those transitions as smooth as possible. You all will make it through regardless of where you are. Take care!

Bonita said...

Michelle, I know that deep in your heart you know the answer and God will bring it to the surface so you have peace about it. I, however, don't know the answer and can't participate in the poll for that reason. However, I do want to mention a few practical things to consider in addition to what you've already said.

You mentioned your relationship with your mom and also how hard it might be to go back home when you've been living your own life for so many years. One other big thing to consider is that your parents are in that same boat. They aren't used to having you and the kids around 24/7 either. It's one thing for the grandkids to visit and another to have them around All.The.Time. Is your stepfather as gung ho as your mom?

I only ask these questions because this past year my mother-in-law lived with us for 8 months. While we got along way better than I expected it was still a tense time, especially for me. We were set in our ways and routine and she was set in hers and even though we did really well working things out, it was still hard. And I don't have little kids, only teenagers.

Just thought I'd add those thoughts since having a family member live with us is still so fresh in my mind.

Amanda said...

Our only problem when we move din with my mom was that it was her house. And my kids were used to getting way with things at Grandma's house. So I constantly felt like it was a struggle to maintain our rules. Also, the kids had to share a bedroom and did not like it.
I wish that we had moved close but not in with her.

Joy said...

That is such a hard decision!! My mom has asked/begged me to move in with her every time we go through a deployment. I don't. I only do an extended visit. But then my husband has never been gone for an entire year! I have no idea what you should do but I sympathize with the decision.

Anonymous said...

I see the poll is closed...

did you make a decision about staying or moving?

McKenna said...

I'm so sorry Joe is going to be deployed! Thank you both for your service to our country! As for moving, gosh, I will just pray that God guides you as you make that big decision and that the year of separation goes by very fast!!