How to Make it Cheerful when You’re Spending Christmas Apart

Christmas is about spending time with family, but sometimes military life can stand in the way of that! Here are some ways to celebrate Christmas apart.

We have been in the swing of the holidays for a few weeks now, and have a few weeks left till New Years and we go back to normal. It seems like the holiday season can last forever. With Christmas decorations hitting the store before Halloween it definitely can last. But sometimes as a MilSO we end up spending the holidays and specifically, Christmas apart from one another. When this happens it is hard to get into the Christmas spirit!

This year I am finding myself in this camp! While last year we were marking off our Holiday to-do list, this year I am contemplating Christmas care packages. And longing to decorate; especially when my Christmas decorations are all packed up in storage with the rest of our HHGs.

So what am I doing this Christmas to make it feel like the holidays?

I am focusing on the good parts of Christmas I do have this year! This year I will get to mark all the great milestones of Baby’s First Christmas! I get to spend Christmas with my parents and brother and be surrounded by all the Christmas traditions I grew up with. I may not get to decorate a tree, but I get to decorate great Christmas care package for my hubby to bring some feelings of home to him.

Doing all this makes it feel more like Christmas, even if we can’t be together.

Baby’s First Christmas:

I love to craft! It makes me feel productive. Throughout my pregnancy every time my nesting instincts kicked in I started crafting- making burp cloths, baby blankets, baby mobile; rather than channeling my energy into extra cleaning! So since this was going to be baby’s first Christmas I started working on Christmas ornaments, Christmas photo set ups, picking out outfits for Santa pictures.

This gave me something to focus on rather than just missing my husband! As much as I wish he would be here for all of this, I know she is only a few weeks old and so I know next Christmas will be like another First Christmas for her to experience again, at just over a year old!

Spending the Holidays with my Parents

We flew to visit my parents last year for Christmas, and with a newborn I definitely would not be making the 15 hour flight to Hawaii to spend Christmas with my parents again if I wasn’t already here. Since moving home after the hubby left it means I get to spend Christmas with my family while I am alone. It means Grandma and Grandpa get to help me celebrate baby’s first Christmas.

For me it brings feelings of comfort because while I don’t get to be in my home for Christmas with my own Christmas decorations; I get to enjoy all the traditions I grew up enjoying. Christmas breakfast after opening presents. Making Christmas cookies by the dozens and dozens. Bubka’s famous nut bread (my favorite treat!!). Christmas even candle-light carol service.

Care Packages for the Hubby

My favorite part of Christmas is picking out gifts for everyone! And I love buying presents for my hubby. He doesn’t always think he needs presents, which makes it all the more fun for me because I get to do it just because! And so I get to know I warmed his soul just a bit when I send him his Christmas care package! In my mind I plan to decorate the box, however I know if I come into a pinch I can order one from my friend over at Countdown and Cupcakes! And my box will look like the holidays for him!

 

So while this is one holiday I will never forget, getting out and enjoying the parts of Christmas I can without my husband will make sure I don’t remember it as an only sad time. It can still be a Merry Christmas.

 

How do you celebrate the holidays when you are missing your loved one?

Christmas is about spending time with family, but sometimes military life can stand in the way of that! Here are some ways to celebrate Christmas apart.

PCSing to Hawaii: You Guide to Avoid Quarantine

PCSing to Hawaii can be stressful, especially when there are animals involved. Here is my step by step guide that got my dog there safely!

When I decided to go to Hawaii while Brian was in Korea the hardest part of the whole transition was making sure my puppy got there safely. As ya’ll know my puppy is very important to me, and she has proven invaluable in adjusting to new places.

My first instinct was to head to Google and Pinterest to see what I could find about getting Lucy to Hawaii with me. Of course, what I found was all convoluted and unclear. So I thought I would help consolidate some of the information I found! All I found was that there was a FOUR month quarantine period if you didn’t get to it in a timely manner! There is a 5-day or less track that you can get your dog on if you start early enough. So I made sure to start as soon as the possibility of going to Hawaii became present!

Here is everything you need to know about getting your pet (cat or dog, I am not 100% sure on procedures for other animals!) to Hawaii on the 5-Day or less Quarantine Track!

  • As soon as you have a hint that you might be going to Hawaii, make an appointment with a vet! I started before we had hard orders because I knew the vet care process would take a while (about 6 months!)
    • At this first vet visit my pup had a check up to make sure she was healthy, and she got her 2nd rabies shot. This is important because dogs need TWO rabies shots (At least 31 days apart) to be able to get into Hawaii. The 2nd must be no less than 90 days before entry)
  • Before you get your animal’s rabies shot, ensure that your animal has a microchip implanted. If the microchip is not implanted prior to the rabies shots and FAVN test, he or she will still spend 120 days in quarantine.
  • Three weeks after that first visit we returned to the vet. At this visit she had her blood drawn and sent to a lab. The test preformed was a FAVN. It is a blood titer test to make sure she had enough of the rabies vaccine in her system. This important because Hawaii is a Rabies free state. The results will be sent from Kansas State University to Hawaii- it is good for 36 months!
  • After the FAVN is done your animal begins 120 day quarantine period. This is why I started the process before we had hard orders. Even if orders get changed having the 2nd rabies shot won’t hurt your pet. If you wait till too close to your departure date, then your pup will have to spend the remainder of those 120 days in a quarantine facility once landed in Hawaii.

I was personally willing to spend a bit extra upfront with the chance our plans would change to avoid my puppy spending up to four months in quarantine and paying for that cost- since it is out of pocket!!! That is a big expense!!! And a lonely time for your animal!

  • After your pet passes the FAVN test then it is mostly just a waiting game until about 2 weeks before you leave for the islands. Within 10 days of arrival on the island your pet must get a health certificate from a vet. I am personally choosing to use an Army vet to do the health certificate since they are very well practiced at sending animals overseas for service members.
    • During this appointment, the vet will administer and sign off that your pet has flea protection. Regardless of what normal flea medicine your animal uses this will be frontline.

 All Documents you will need for your pet to gain entry into the state of Hawaii:

  • Original Ink signatures of Rabies shot certifications- you will have 2!! Must be original, no photocopies accepted
    • Vaccination certificates must have vaccine name, serial number, booster interval, vaccination date, and expiration date
  • Original Health Certificate done within 10 days of arrival in Hawaii
  • Vet must treat pet for fleas and ticks with Frontline within 10 days of arrival- noted on health certificate
  • Send all documents to Animal Quarantine Station:
    • Completed Dog and Cat Import Form
    • Payment and Fees:$165 per pet in advance for direct airport release or $224 for 5 day or less program. Must be a Cashiers Check or Money order (no cash or personal checks)

Other considerations that need to be made when sending your dog to Hawaii:

  • How big is your pet? If it is a cat or small dog you can carry them in a soft carrier under the seat.
  • If your pet is an emotional support animal you need a letter from your health care provider. Let the airline know as soon as possible. Have all the proper documentation. Same for Service Animals.
  • If your pet is large and not a service animal then you will ship your pet as “checked” luggage. However, most airlines will not allow you to check your animal when it is above 85 degrees Farenheit or below 65 degrees F.
  • You can either wait to send your animal for the weather to cooperate. Or you can consider a pet shipping service such as Island Pet Movers.

So, there you have it, a condensed version of the information needed to move your furry loves to Hawaii. Unfortunately, the military will not pay for any of these pet related expenses, which can really start to add up!

If you want a printable checklist to make sure that you have everything done in the proper order, please check out this checklist. This will ensure your dog spends as little time in quarantine as possible!

If you have any other questions you can check out the Hawaii Animal Quarantine Information Page for FAQ that I found helpful!

PCSing to Hawaii can be stressful, especially when there are animals involved. Here is my step by step guide that got my dog there safely!