Round One of Household Effects Arrive

Foreign Service Life
August 16, 2009

As of Friday, we are officially 3500 pounds heavier.  Round 1 of our “stuff” arrived on Friday.  In case you hadn’t already guessed, this is a BIG DEAL.  My chance to set up shop had finally arrived and boy was I ready!  First, the bad news: it was NOT the shipment I was expecting!  No ravioli or Diet Coke for me.  It ended up being all of our furniture and miscellaneous books, etc from storage.  To be fair, this was probably a better shipment to get first, as it’s more of the foundational stuff but I was SOOO looking forward to that first bite and sip!  Alas…

Household Effects Arrive

The emotions were high.  I was having a bit of an overwhelming week to begin with, so I was counting on the arrival of our stuff to bring me back to equilibrium.  Let me take you through the emotions of they day: It began with anticipation – knowing they were set to arrive at 9 AM.  Euphoria set in when I went down to the loading dock and saw them break the metal bands off the containers and open the crate.  I’ve never been so excited to see boxes before… I went back up to the apartment to wait for arrival and found myself getting irritated.  Why was it noon and we still didn’t have any boxes up here yet?

Turns out I didn’t really have a good handle on just how much stuff we had shipped.  As the boxes arrived and the workers unpacked box after box, my delight morphed into shame.  How could I seriously have accumulated 50+ wine glasses?  Did I really think we needed 3 sets of dishes?  I had no idea I would feel that way but I was very embarassed by the quantity of things we had.  What we had stood in such stark contrast to the amount I know that most Filipinos make do with everyday.  Wow – nothing like a little perspective.

Household Effects

A little about the day.  We had a crew of 8 doing the job.  They opened the crates and hauled the boxes up the elevator from 9 AM until 12:30 PM.  Once all the goods were inside, we began opening.  Nick directed traffic, I dealt with the back bedrooms and Norma was in charge of the kitchen.  It was quite overwhelming to open every box at once and just set the things out randomly.  On the other hand, I did like it that they broke down all the boxes and took the garbage with them!  Our air conditioner chose this day to malfunction, so it was an 85 degree sauna in our living room.  We did manage to get the crew out by 4 PM, which I thought was pretty reasonable.

Norma prepares PB sandwiches for the crew

Norma prepares PB sandwiches for the crew

First, a little background.  The stuff that arrived was packed up in MN back in December.  With this being our first move, we didn’t do a very good job of labeling the boxes at the time.  So unfortunately, when we were handed a list of our 100 items and boxes and asked to put an X next to the items we wanted to go to Manila, we had very little idea what we would end up with.  With choices like “Black bag” and “Box with knick-knacks”, we opted for a strategy of bring too much rather than end up with too little.  I’m not sure that was the best choice….

Here are some of the random things we ended up with that we have entirely NO USE FOR here:

  • My box of momentos from my dead grandmother
  • A bike pump (the bike isn’t coming)
  • Nick’s graduation cap and gown
  • My box of childhood artwork from K-8.
  • A vacuum cleaner that runs on 110 volts (we don’t have a powerful enough transformer to use it)
  • Jumper cables for those cold winter nights

Household Effects

In summary, I give us a 7.5 out of 10 on our first move.  Granted, there is nothing that I would say we are missing.  We just have WAY MORE STUFF than we know what to do with in our 2 BR apartment.  Perhaps this is our invitation to simplify our life and get rid of some stuff.  The process was pretty slick and I liked having all the help.  I sure wish we still didn’t have another 2000 pounds coming, as I haven’t even dealt with the first 3500 pounds!  Good thing we have 7 days until that shipment arrives…

The top 3 things I’m thankful for from this shipment:

  1. My pillowtop mattress, bed and bamboo sheets
  2. My cookbooks and never-used kitchen gadgets (Norma was beyond delighted)
  3. My entertaining stuff (glasses, dishes, wine charms, etc)

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  1. Rebecca White says:

    OK…your blog continues to be GREAT…and I’m absolutely going to need to keep up with you and the great unpack. I’m starting to wonder what to bring & what not to worry about – all the senior FSO’s from AID have said not to worry about buying tons of stuff before I leave because you are able to get it THERE. I don’t want to bring TOO much stuff!! Oy! Decisions!

  2. minnesotagal says:

    I feel like you need to go through the process, make mistakes and learn to compensate. It all works out somehow – or you decide what stuff you’re going to give to charity in Manila! When will you be arriving? And do you know your housing yet??

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