Military Moving Mom: Kori Lance
We had the chance to speak to another great military moving mom this week and we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share their story with you as we get ready to celebrate the Fourth of July. Kori Lance is a mom of three girls, Vivian, Eleanor and Genevieve, and an Air Force wife. She and her husband, Chris, have had eight moves in the last 16 years, with their most recent in the last month. So… let’s get right to what Kori has to tell us about their moving experiences:
Tell us a little about your family.
I would say my husband, Chris, probably chose the military lifestyle because that’s what his father did. His dad retired from the Air Force when Chris was five years old, but he always wanted to join. He went to the Air Force Academy, and then to Abilene, Texas upon graduation. He got his first deployment notification about a month after September 11, 2001, so as you can imagine, his mom was a little frazzled. She asked her church for prayer, which happened to be the church that MY parents went to, and my mom told me of this young man going off to war that needed prayers. I said I would pray for him and wrote him a letter. Like, on paper. For real. He wrote back. He came back to GA to see his parents before his deployment and we went out a few times. We corresponded throughout the deployment and then saw each other as much as we could when he got back. He proposed at the top of Stone Mountain on the 4th of July and we were married three months later.
The first move was classic because it wasn’t a military move. They moved him from Texas to Washington D.C., but with moving me from Georgia to D.C., we were on our own. We piled all of my worldly belongings on the back of his father’s hay trailer, covered it with a tarp, and wrapped it in duct tape. You just can’t make this stuff up. We spent two years in Washington D.C. and then got orders to go overseas to the Azores, Portugal. My favorite story from that move is the packers. The truck showed up with the driver and three helpers. They were all very polite, but the helpers were all from The Republic of Georgia. In a move, everything that is wrapped goes in a box marked with the room it came from and a brief description. As a good first time mover (I HAD gone to my briefing, after all), I noticed that one of the guys wasn’t writing anything on any of the boxes so I told the driver. He went down there and gave him a talking to and made him unwrap everything to write it on the box. As I watched, he looked at an item, looked at the box, looked at the item, looked at the box, then in sheer frustration wrapped it up and wrote in Russian. I felt so bad!
Here’s the breakdown of all our moves together:
Move 1: Geogia to Washington D.C. in 2002. We were just married.
Move 2: Washington D.C. to the Azores, Portugal in 2004. We acquired our first baby, Thor the German Shepherd Dog.
Move 3: Portugal to Anchorage, Alaska in 2006. This is where we had our first human baby, Vivian Sinclair, on March 2, 2008. Chris was deployed to Iraq for six months of the pregnancy and the birth. He came back when Vivi was seven weeks old.
Move 4: Alaska to Panama City, Fla. in 2009 with a 16 month old baby and six and a half months pregnant. Eleanor Gail was born October 9, 2009, the only pregnancy Chris would be here for its entirety. Chris later deployed to Afghanistan for six months, and I found out I was pregnant again, two weeks later.
Move 5: Florida to Rapid City, SD in 2011. This time we moved with a three-year-old, one-and-a-half-year-old, and I was seven and a half months pregnant with our daughter, Genevieve. You’d think I would’ve learned the first time.
Move 6: SD to San Antonio, Texas in 2013. No babies! and finally…
Move 7: Texas to Cheyenne, Wyo. this year. Just as a disclaimer, our family HAS moved more than some others in our career field. Just the luck of the draw, I guess.
How can civilians best support military families?
Just say “hi.” We don’t know ANYONE almost all the time. We are ALWAYS starting over, and it’s hard. People get comfortable with their friends and their lives, and they don’t think to reach out and just to be kind to newcomers.
What is greatest thing you’ve learned from moving?
It’s all just STUFF. Both of our parents tend to hang on to things “because I might use that some day.” I used to be like that until I had to move it. We have just a few things that we keep as keepsakes, and the rest of it we have pictures of. You don’t need the stuff to keep the memory. Another thing we learned is you can find family anywhere. Just because you aren’t blood doesn’t mean you can’t be family.
Advice to a young family on their first move?
Be sure to organize on the packing end. I have one box that is entirely the bedding for the beds we will use the day our beds show up. I buy brand new toilet brushes and move them new so I don’t have to run out and buy some as soon as I show up (there are some things I just WON’T move.) Any purging you can do, do it on the packing end. Because by the time I get to this point of the move (we’ve been doing this move since mid-May), I just want to throw it ALL out. Secondly, be patient with each other. Moves are incredibly stressful and are usually the most difficult times in our marriage.
What has been your favorite place to call home?
It would have to be Anchorage, Alaska. Alaska is AMAZING in its own right. We made friends from our church that are still family. The girls have their honorary GG that is just as much a grandmother to them as their biological grandmothers. Vivian is named after our friends that took care of me when Chris was gone.
What is the best part of being a military family?
The people we get to meet. It’s really hard leaving great friends every two years, but the silver lining is that we are leaving great friends after only two years so we are sure to make NEW great friends. I have met at least one lifelong, dear friend at every base. I can’t imagine my life without these women, and I never would’ve met them if it weren’t for our crazy life. My Facebook feed is from all over the world. And it is not only that I get to meet the people in those places, but the eclectic group of people that are in those places, if that makes sense. Chris’ boss is from San Diego and a big Chargers fan. I have a friend here from Oregon who plays underwater hockey. I have a friend from Arkansas. We come from all over, with all different backgrounds, but for a short while we are all together and we get to learn from each other. It is amazing to see how God brings us all to one place at just the right time.
What do you do to make a new town feel like home?
The first week I try to take the girls to one thing that is specific to that area. This time GG and I took the girls to the Wyoming State Museum and this really neat Children’s Village at the Botanic Gardens.
Are there any mistakes you’ve made along the way that you think others could learn from?
My biggest mistake has been not paying attention to the packers and I do it almost every time. You’d think I’d learn. This is not their stuff, it is their job. This last move really bit us in the bum with that. Mercifully, only a couple of things were broken, but it should’ve been a lot worse with the way we found things packed.