Camping in our Apartment

So, using the word “camping” is a bit of a stretch. We have everything we could possibly need to make life comfortable. But, we aren’t using our things and therefore, we are feeling the discomfort of being without.  It’s good, though. Every few years military families move and gain an appreciation for the word “home.” We know what it’s like to be in major transition: jobs, friends, homes, cars. I believe it makes us so much more grateful for our things that were we never without. We may live for years not even thinking about how amazing it is to have a vehicle that seats everyone facing forward, heads not touching the ceiling and then we PCS overseas…

So, I call it camping because life as we are currently living it isn’t normal. We only have about 5% of our personal belongings; just enough to consider it comfortable camping.

Something is going on with my computer and I can’t “mark up” my photos at this time, but I’ll come back later to edit. For now, these two pictures show the front and back of our house. We’re the center apartment, third floor. From the front our windows are those between the two gray drainpipes. The stairwell entry is in the middle of our house.


From the back, same thing. Third floor, all windows between the two gray drainpipes.


I wanted to give a shout-out to some pretty amazing people who have helped to make our transition better. I won’t give names because I don’t have their permission but here are a few of the sweet ways we’ve been welcomed.

  • We were able to borrow the Volvo even before we bought it.
  • Flowers!!
  • IMG_0494
  • Pail with treats
  • IMG_0543
  • Basket with the makings for spaghetti as well as fruits, teas, and chocolates
  • Banana muffins
  • Pillows, sheets, and quilts to make sleep possible
  • Fridge
  • Microwave
  • Loaner furniture
  • ACS lending closet
  • duty bus
  • USO – home away from home
  • nail polish remover and a shovel (It’d take too long to explain)


Our van arrived this week and I am THRILLED because it’s so big compared to the Volvo. I no longer have to ride the duty bus, though I’m thankful that it’s available for the kids to run around town. I don’t have to take them all the places anymore!  Sure, Hayden ins’t able to get his license here, but the flip side is that ALL THREE TEENS can come-and-go as they please, not just Hayden. Last week I took the duty bus a few times and twice it never came. It runs on an hour-loop and twice it just didn’t show up. The first time I only had Anna with me and I was heading home from PWOC. (Please let me pause here to say that Matt offered the car but that would have meant I would have had to come back to get him that evening after worship practice and I’d rather take the bus!) We waited for thirty minutes, and, rather than wait another thirty minutes, Anna walked from the chapel to the PX where we took a potty break, I bought some gloves, and then we caught the bus from their. The second time the bus was a no-show I was with Hayden and Carson. We were heading to Panzer (where Matt works) to pick up our van. Matt was jumping through all the hoops to get our van registered and through inspection (Esso card, plates, etc) so he couldn’t come get us. Plus, that’s a waste of gas. So, the bus failed to show so we walked back home to kill the thirty minutes before the next bus. While we sat in the cold waiting, though, I told the boys, “This is what people are thanking you for when they say, ‘Thank you for your sacrifice.’ People can imagine the loss you experience with leaving family and friends behind, but they don’t see these little inconveniences like having to use a duty bus that sometimes doesn’t show. They don’t know that they’re thanking you for the sacrifice of being without your own bed or car for months, but they are. They don’t see these little ways that you sacrifice for the decision your dad to serve the Army. But please know that when they say thank you, they really do appreciate it all, even if they don’t know all the little ways you sacrifice.”


Matt and I knew we’d need some kind of cabinet in the bathroom so we went to IKEA to scout the place. We made a list and then, once the first shut-down ended, we made our purchases. The piece we selected for our bathroom is perfect! Another way we’re making this apartment our home.

Carson and Bailey have a huge wall of closets but Hayden’s and Parker’s room has only one. We bought a shelf for Hayden to display his record player and other things.

The very day we picked up our van we found out our HHGs are here. I was able to call within the three-hour window they allow once the email is sent and got our delivery scheduled for this Thursday! I can’t wait!!  I’ve made our school schedule to reflect this and plan to spend Wednesday preparing; preparing meals so that I don’t have to put much thought into food while I will be organizing the house, and preparing the house by sticking post-it notes where I want the movers to place furniture and taping signs I made before we moved by the bedrooms so the movers can tell where boxes go by the color of tape I placed on the boxes back in Texas.

Because the living room is one huge open space and echoes like crazy, we moved all the furniture into the room we’ll use as an office to make it cozy. Works beautifully!



I struggled in the kitchen when preparing meals because the lighting was so bad. I even asked the inspector why there wasn’t an under-cabinet light under the center cabinets and she didn’t know. None of them have lighting there. Standing and preparing meals my body blocked the light from the ceiling lights and this was just completely unacceptable. So I did my research and found that IKEA had what I needed. I had to use some broken (butchered) German and the grace of an employee and got all the pieces I needed plus a bonus wireless light switch. I can turn them off and on from the same spot I turn on all the rest of the lights. I am even more pleased with this than I expected I would be! (And again, thanks to all of you who suggested I fly with my Instant Pot. That was such a great suggestion! It’s a little dented but the dents were worth it!)

Before images on the left, after images on the right.


Camping in our apartment has been so much easier than living in the hotel, even though our experience at the Panzer Hotel was great. I am so thankful for this house and for our amazing neighbors. We love our location even though we do have a 20-ish minute ride to church/work. We really do feel at home and we know that that’s in part due to the generosity of those who have loaned us things and brought us treats. Soon it will be my turn to bring treats to new people! Until then, I’ll be doing school, cooking meals, and receiving the other 95% of our household goods!




About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
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5 Responses to Camping in our Apartment

  1. Maria Currey says:

    You keep the adventure real, Jennifer! What it is and means to be a military family – the challenges, inconveniences, and pure joys of serving our God, our country and precious family! Love your stories and insights!! Hugging your hearts in prayer!

  2. Judy Gloy says:

    Oh you beautiful family! You are such a blessing – Jennifer, you are a very special wife, mom, daughter and woman all around! You are so strong, positive, and that is such a great lesson for ALL of us. I can’t even BEGIN to thin about what I would do in your situation. But, I’d try my best, I guess. That’s all a person can do. But to be so organized, thinking things through, etc., you are the BEST! Love to all.
    P.S. I had more cancer surgery. This one was really hard. It went very deep into the “floor” of my nose! What an ordeal. I have a stent in both nostrils to help me breathe better, I have had to have my upper front teeth removed, so they put in a temp. prothesis to cover the hole that was created when they had to remove that cancer that was so deep into that area. I can’t eat regular food. Just clear liquids – through a syringe. My mouth had been worked on so hard, etc., it is really sore, can’t open it wide, so the syringe is used to shoot the liquid down my throat. It’s very difficult but I am thankful that I’m still here. Ralph and our daughters, and friends have been helping to take care of me. I’m not doing the greatest, and it’s difficult to swallow. Tomorrow, back to the surgeon and see what he has in mind. There is still a lot of work to do. But, I’m thankful and trying to be as positive as I can. The worst part is because of all the work that was done on my mouth, I lost some feeling and it’s difficult to open my mouth – the lips are “numb” and so when I syringe liquids in my mouth, I can’t keep the liquids all inside of my mouth like I should. It’s really a nightmare, but we’re working on it. The Dr. will help us through this. We are so thankful that God has stepped in and given us the strength to get this done and over with – we hope for now! So thankful for you, Jennifer and we pray for you and family – for your safety and all your faith and strength you have. It’s certainly an encouragement for us! Love to all. Judy.

  3. Pingback: A Teacher’s Summer | thehamricks

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