July 13, 2012

How To Pack Nearly Everything. Or...How to Have Nearly Everything Packed For You.

I'd like to think that we're handling the stress of moving internationally about as well as this toothy camel, but I think we averaging about a C+ in terms of sanity.

I moved a lot as a kid.  Always from Malaysia to the US and back again.  (Hobbit anyone??!!)  When I was little, I would proudly wear my overalls on the plane, because they kept me warm and ensured that every metal detector between southeast Asia and the USA went off.  (I like to keep those security guys on their toes).  Being on the kid end of things certainly skews your perspective.  Moving back and forth looked like this to me...
1.  Parents say to me, "Hey, we're going back to the states to visit family for the summer."
2.  Suitcases are suddenly packed.  "Allison, you have to pack as least as many clothes as books".
3.  We get on a plane.  (Overalls keeping me toasty!)
4.  We arrive and vacation begins.

Pretty simple.

When you're an adult, you realize very quickly how much the parentals were actually doing behind the scenes when I was too busy with my stamp collection.  (Andrew's Note: Or sassing to your parents and getting a spanking.)

Hello movers! Yes, we need that hose.  Yes, the trash pile stays.  (And the car stays.)

1.  Get a job offer.  Cool.  It's in Saudi Arabia.... whaaaaaattt??  Spend a month deliberating the pros and cons of moving to 120 degree weather.  (If you're wondering....it's all cons.)
2.  Spend 4 months purchasing stuff.  No really.  If you like a particular brand, you need to buy a year's worth of it.  In addition, look at all your crap.  Divide EVERYTHING into 4 piles.
     a.  Illegal Crap:  Anything with a pig, alcohol related, or religious.
This is no longer a  Pork Pie brand snare drum!  
     b.  Garage Sale:  Because do you REALLY need that many swords?  (Oh, you're lucky it's illegal to bring them in.)
     c.  Air Shipment "E-Box":  This will arrive 3 weeks after you.  Its like glorified camping!  How much crap can you stuff in a box that you just can't survive without?  I don't know about you but there are few situations where I can't survive without a rubber spatula.
     d.  Sea shipment:  This will arrive in 3-4 months.  Depending on the... sea (??).  You should put EVERYTHING ELSE THAT YOU OWN (excluding Won Ton) into this pile.  Also be aware that anything in it could be taken by customs officials if they are feeling particularly needy when they look at your stuff.
3.  Get on a plane....August 4th.  Holy Cow!  Because I don't own an abaya yet, (that big black gown thing I have to wear outside the compound) I went to GAP and purchased an outfit 2Xs too big.  It is wonderfully comfortable and covers those pesky elbows (because mine are soooo seductive!).  (I like your elbows...)
4.  Arrive and start your new life with nothing but your suitcases, because everything else will arrive in either 3 weeks or 4 months.  Aramco provides us with furniture, linens, and kitchen cooking stuff until ours arrives.
This is an official Aramco temporary couch.  Very.....something....

Figuring out what to put in the E-Boxes was fun.  We get 2 of them, each can hold up to 400lbs.  We basically had to ask ourselves what could we not live without until November.  And while Andrew was content only packing the "Lord of the Rings" DVDs, computer game, and trivial pursuit game... I had other plans.   (Booooo-ring)
This is an E-Box!  This is also Andrew pleading for me to let him pack the grill. No husband, no.  
Here is a list of some of what went in our E-boxes....

Clothes hangers, hot water heater for tea, vacuum, food processor, pie dish, nice cooking pots, snorkeling equipment, ironing board cover, broom and dustpan, coffee cups (2), printer, cookie sheet, 13X9 pan, knives, mop, Tupperware, place mats, soap, tampons, dryer sheets, q-tips, bed sheets, tumblers, microwave (filled up with spices), measuring spoons and cups, Thanksgiving decorations, kitchen towels, beach towels, hammer and nails, paint supplies, trumpet, bagpipes, flute, ceiling fan and cooking utensils/spoons. 

We've got to be the only people moving to Arabia bringing a trumpet, bagpipe and flute in their E-Box.  (You do what you have to do.)      

Suitcases were next.  We decided that we would bring our winter clothes (for a family trip to Istanbul, Turkey over Thanksgiving), but not in our suitcases, being that it will be around 90 degrees in November.  The winter clothes and fancier dress clothes will come with the sea shipment.  This leaves all the rest of the clothes.  We both have been frantically shopping for clothes for the entire year.  Evidently the water is hard on the clothes, so extra socks, underwear, bras, shorts, tops, undershirts were necessary.  DARN.  I also felt it was necessary to supplement my wardrobe for my new role as a Susie-homemaker.  Think Mad Men here.  Lots of 1950s dresses with puffy skirts and full make up for when husband arrives home from a long day at work.  (Don't forget my slippers and martini.  And well-behaved dachshunds ready for inspection.  And pot roast for supper.)  

Obviously I haven't quite perfected the Susie-homemaker look yet.  Must locate make up first.  (It's probably in the kitchen.  OHHHHHHH)

This is my pile... all of the clothes.  Pretty amazing.  Can you see the ginormous bag of ear plugs?  (That's just her supply from August through November, actually.)

Additionally, certain things don't do well in a sea shipment, so they are coming in the suitcases, ie: medicines, technology ("i"everything), and running stuff.  All packed in 2 suitcases that have a 70lb limit (yay for business class).  Having recently discovered space saver bags which allow you to suck the air out from your clothes, packing got significantly easier...and more entertaining! (So much fun!!)  In fact, I managed to get ALL my clothes into 2 suitcases with room to spare, all weighing in at 69 and 69 lbs respectively.  Gold star for Allison.  (Must be nice to not have to fit a BluRay player and 6 speakers in your suitcase.)

Lastly, the sea shipment.  Aramco sent us packers.  And this, folks, was just about the best thing ever.  As long as everything is sorted into the list listed above, having packers come is a beautiful thing.  A whole armada of people arrived at our house early Thursday morning.  About the only thing we did was provide donuts for them.  The process is insane.  They wrap EVERYTHING!  Each individual plate!  Each shoe! Each piece of the fridge!  You know that junk drawer?  They wrap everything in that too.... !  Our house was filled with the sounds of packing tape.  My only instructions to them were this:  "Don't label any box as having Christmas stuff in it."  (We also had to throw away our box of bacon and bacon-related paraphernalia :-(
Kitchen table chairs never looked so cool.  I had to resist the urge to sit on them.

This is a bit creepy. 
Christmas Stuff:
It's banned.  All of it.  From the tree to the ornament with your baby photo on it.  And being the good high school teacher that I am, this immediately gave me the urge to hide all of it.  Which I did.  : )  (That was after the urge it gave her to prank it multiple times.)  I spread everything out, lots of the bulky garlands and even our tree is all hidden in our bigger linens and blankets.  Decorations are dispersed among yard equipment, inside drawers of tapped up furniture or just inside random boxes.  I figure that if it is spread out, the less likely they are to take it.  Yes, we could lose all of it, we are definitively taking a risk.  But in the end its just all stuff, and stuff can be replaced.  While the stuff is nice to celebrate the Christmas season, it is definitively not the reason for the Christmas season!  We can celebrate the gift of God's Son without a tree!
Yes.  There is a Christmas Tree in this bag.  Hope Saudi customs officials don't read blogs....

So where does this leave me?  Right now I'm sitting in what used to be our office/guest bedroom.  Sitting next to me is my lunch on a paper plate and the ironing board.  The packers are all eating their lunches (taquitos!).  I'm hoping they don't forget to load the ironing board.  Although if they leave it I won't have to iron??  Hmmm.... : )  (What else will you do all day besides pine for me?  You have to have some outlet for your creativity...like ironing, washing dishes, cooking, and making me bowties :-D)  We have officially moved out of the house, which closes on Monday, and into my parents house.  They are feeding us for free.  This is good thing as I don't think I can stomach too much more Steak and Shake take out food.  (DON'T YOU EVER TALK LIKE THAT AGAIN!!)

On Tuesday, we are taking a road trip to Atlanta and then Flordia, to visit Andrew's side of the family and both sets of my grandparents.  We are taking Chile and Won Ton with us (........)(................).  I'm looking forward to 2 weeks of no sorting or shopping or storaging.  (I doubt if you're looking forward to any time with no shopping...)  A last little vacation before the desert!  Here are a few more pics of the past few days! 

The garage sale was a huge success thanks to the many hours I put into preparing for it.  (Indeed.  We (I) made $300!

Somebody MIGHT need it!  (Nobody did.)

Keeping Andrew away from the bubble wrap has been a constant source of irritation for both the movers and myself.  (Ahhh it's just THERE and sitting there and nobody's popping it and it's a whole roll and I don't even know what to do.)

Hey look!  We're still smiling and still like each other!  Gold star for the Redmons.




  1. Sweet. Looking forward to the next stage of the saga - unpacking!

  2. Ich Bin Ein Berliner7/25/12, 9:04 PM

    i. could. not. stop. laughing!!!
    several things:
    -did your parents take that picture of the camel above? i recognize it from China.
    -the vacuum-sealing packing idea is interesting. i might have to switch over from rubber-bands galore.
    -i can only imagine how loud the packing of the entire house was. paper and boxes and tape with all the movers there? NOISE!!!
    -packing x-mas stuff in various locations will result in trouble finding x-mas stuff when it comes time to decorate. :D
    -Garage sale... used tin foil? seriously?
    -I COMPLETELY understand Mr. Reds' urge regarding the bubblewrap! it's irresistible!

    you guys are awesome!