This morning is our last here in Washington DC for a few weeks.
We packed up our Oakwoody (not The Mothership) apartment yesterday. James is off at his last morning of Training Class #1 ("The Education Needed Before He Can Go to our next post in Chengdu, China"), and when he gets home about noon, our stuff is getting packed into our minivan and we're outta here. (We have to go back to Houston, Texas (our previous post) to pack up and sell our house, and so that James can process out of Houston.)
Poor James. The task of getting all our STUFF into our vehicle always falls on him.
Last night, as we were gathering items and packing, he randomly said to me:
"My Native American name would totally be: Fits Crap in Minivan."
For that is what James does. He fits all our crap into the minivan. I don't know how, but he does it. And he will showcase his Minivan Crap-Fitting Skillz again for us this afternoon. Don't you wish you were he?
But enough of that! Let's talk money. For oh, how I love talking money.
We "moved" here to Washington DC three months ago for James' Training Class #1 (the first of the many classes needed before he can go to Chengdu, China, next year) about three months ago. Fun little fact: we have YET to even FILE for the reimbursement of our travel here...from three months ago.
Guess why? Oh guess, guess, guess.
Because we traveled here not *just* without Orders (being as it was a last-minute thing), but also without any rubric for billing. Because the three-month-long Training Class #1 was only meant for him, and not for all of us... so sayeth the Orders. Thus, only travel for James is on the Orders.
But - ha ha!! For this training class (Training Class #1) was three months long, and the Orders only authorized him to fly to Washington DC from Texas. But a rental car wasn't authorized for the three-month-long class time. So... that would have meant that he would have been here for THREE MONTHS without a car. And he wasn't even able to be housed at the Oakwood Mothership with the shuttle service (no room there, because this was so last minute). And not even that, but this three-month-long training class was held at something crazy like ten different sites. Some even scattered about in Virginia. Be here three months without a car, without us, and without being at the Oakwood that has shuttle service to class? I don't think so. We ALL came, and we SO drove.
So the whole time we've been here, James has been trying to figure out how to bill *driving here* against what would have been paid on the Orders (just him flying here)... had he had any Orders to begin with. Various and sundry Departments have told him that they are not the ones who will be paying it, so not to bill against them/ their Orders.
He thinks it's all ironed out now. Basically, we get to bill against what the plane ticket would have been at the last minute (about $800) to get him here. That was only half the battle, so please don't anyone say anything like Oh, I knew that! The other issue was the Orders, or which set to bill against. For there are so many. Different sets from different places.
All this to say: when he was getting hired by State a couple of years ago, I remember hearing about how having good credit was such a big deal. You HAD to have GOOD CREDIT. And now I know why. They want to know that, when you float lots of travel money (which you will), you will still be able to be financially responsible (which we are). Because you WILL float money. For long periods of time. And that's not EVEN when you go on Insanely Expensive Home Leave (Email from the Embassy), which is financially painful and scary. Holy cow!
So, we're leaving Washington DC today and driving back to Texas. We then have about a month until we have to report back up here for James' Training Class #2 (Mandarin Chinese at FSI for 45 weeks). Between now and then (the beginning of September) we're going...
... from here to Texas (driving).
From Texas to Seattle, Washington (another James training class, and I'm going, too!)(flying)
From Seattle, Washington (and the Vancouver, Canada area) back to Texas (flying)
From Texas to Florida (driving)
From Florida to Washington DC (flying)
From Washington DC to Florida (flying)
From Florida, with the children, to Washington DC for real and for good until China (driving).
All within the next month. And somewhere in there, we're packing out and selling our Texas house.
So those are the plans for the time from now until Mandarin Chinese starts and we're moved (yes, we're PCSing to Washington because we'll be in training for longer than a year) back here.
So now, all that's left is to catch you up on what we've been up to in the last few days.
After Matthew finished his Eagle Scout project, we flew from Florida back up here to Washington DC, and James gave Matthew a hero's welcome at Dulles Airport in the Baggage Claim area:
The first was the Boy Scouts Centennial Parade in downtown Washington DC. It was the first time since 1937 that the Scouts had a parade in Washington DC... and we were there for it!
There were, of course, lots of Scouts. And lots of American flags.
Red, white and blue were very much the theme.
There were also a TON of historically-dressed folks.
When these guys marched by, I couldn't help but feel insanely sorry for them. Yes, they looked so snappy (of course), but honestly- it was something insane like 105 degrees with the heat index. The heat had to be almost unbearable!
These ladies, also, were dressed so beautifully - but all I could think when they were walking by was Oh my goodness, I'm SO glad I'm wearing shorts and a tshirt!
We've come a long way, baby. Yes, the above was more attractive and feminine, but GOSH. I'll take shorts and a tshirt on any 100 degree plus day!
They had all sorts of historical vehicles.
Everyone in the cars was always dressed in authentic Scouting attire from the period. So neat!
The parade even had balloons! Like this cake, for Scouting's 100 year Anniversary.
On one side of the street from the parade, there was the Adventure Base 100 truck and the Adventure Base 100 setup, complete with portable Scouting Museum.
A huge area of grass was roped off...
So - now you're all caught up! I'll only be on Twitter via my million-year-old Dinosaur of a cell phone for the next few days (as we drive from Washington DC to Texas) until we get everything back up and running in Texas.
A HUGE thank you to everyone for the comments you have left for me and for our family on this blog... on Twitter... on Facebook... via email. I'm so sorry I've not been on y'all's blogs lately- or returned email lately. Please forgive me for being so absent and so silent online.
And now, Fits Crap in Minivan and I have some travelin' to do. See you on the other side! :)