Sunday, November 30, 2008
It is a nice chilly and quite soggy sunday morning here in England. I think it is somewhere near 40 degrees outside and very cloudy. I think it must have rained earlier, but I wasn't awake to see that event. In any case I think most of my day is going to be spent indoors, not at the hotel hopefully, but indoors in any case. Yesterday we spent all day inside the hotel, well when we weren't hunting for the blue folder that has been lost in the mix of shuffling between here and D's house. There was nothing EXTREMELY important in the folder, it is just annoying to lose something and my husband got his OCD on and was hunting for it all day long.
Anyhoo, last night we were completely bored and not at all tired after the girls went to sleep. I suggested watching a movie, he wasn't feeling it. Next thing I know this game was on the computer screen. Flight of the Hamsters? Yes. I was in stitches laughing at this game. Concept of the game is to get the cute little goggle wearing hamster to fly as far as possible, using the rockets, hamster balls, and springs to your favor. I am serious folks.
Speaking of hamsters. I am not really a fan. I used to work in a pet store when I was in college and those little bastards are mean. When I used to place the food dish in the cage of the little Siberian Dwarf Hamsters, those little wolves would cirlcle my hand like it was a Christmas ham. I took to wearing a gardening glove when I would feed the hamsters in order to prevent their little rat razor teeth from biting me. I used to try to get people to buy gerbils instead of hamsters because I thought that the hamsters were so vile.
Couple of Things About England that I am Befuddled by:
-OK, I understand that their is a law that you can not have any type of drink while you are driving in England, but seriously, no cup holders? Last night I went to get dinner for my husband and I (the kids had had chicken nuggets) and I had 2 drinks to get home. I ended up carrying one drink between my legs and holding the other one on top of the emergency break while driving and hoping that I didn't A) spill either drink in my lap and in the rental car and B) wreck the rental car on the way back to the hotel. I made it back to the hotel with both car and cups intact but I couldn't help to think that this would have been a whole lot easier if there had been at least one cup holder.
-The toilets here have a button on the back of them to flush not a little handle on the side. I keep reaching for the side of the toilet to flush. Oh and some of the buttons are split in half. Push one half to do a little flush, push both to do a big flush. I guess 1 for #1 and 2 for #2.
I got an award from Mama Dawg over at Two Dogs Running. Thanks MD! This award apparently comes with rules. You know how I feel about rules, but since Mama asked nicely I will comply.
The qualifications to receive the award are:
A. Display a cheerful attitude. (Umm if you say so..)
B. Love one another. (I guess I can try..)
C. Make mistakes. (All the damn time)
D. Learn from others. (Why do you think I read so many blogs?)
E. Be a positive contributor to the blog world. (I am a contributor, not all of it is positive, but I contribute none the less)
F. Love life. (yes please!)
G. Love kids. (Mine yes, but sometimes only because the law says I have to)
1. Must link it back to the creator.
2. Post the rules.
3. Choose 5 people to give it to.
4. Recipients must fill the characteristics above.
5. Create a post to share this.
6. You must thank the winner.
The five people I give this to are, Tismee2 from Squared Off, Jenni from Oscarelli, Miss Grace from Miss Grace's Disgrace, Cameron over at Get The Stink Off and Cape Cod Gal from Diamond in the Rough.
Is this enough Sunday morning radomness for you guys. Good, I'm exhausted. Time for a nap.
Friday, November 28, 2008
There were 15 people in attendance. D and her husband M, their 2 kids, Alistair and his wife Melanie*, their 2 kids, N and L who work with D at the barbershop, The Man and I, KiKi and LaLa, and T (who's husband is in Texas right now for some Air Force school). Alistair, Melanie, N, and L are all English and this was their first Thanksgiving celebration.
Dinner started around 6pm in order for our English friends to get off of work in order to come over for dinner. Since this is an American holiday, of course they don't have the day off from work like all the Americans around here. There was a lot of good conversation, a few pints had by all (or wine), and of course the oohing and ahhing over the shere amount of food that was available. The kids had a great time playing together and when D broke out the ginormous bag of leftover Halloween sweets I thought all hell was going to break loose. Alistairs youngest girl is almost as hyperactive as LaLa and doesn't have an off switch. We added candy into this mix. Then we warned Alistair. His response was classic "Thanks for that" as he lifted his pint.
The celebration broke up around 9:30 and we caught a cab back to the hotel around 10:00pm. Thankfully the cabbie seemed very knowledgable of the base and took us directly to the hotel. We lugged all of our car seats, bags and children back to the room and then watched some American football on the Armed Forces Network. My husband and I caught most of the Dallas game and then a little bit of the Phillidelphia game. We ended up finally passing out around 2am.
I think this Thanksgiving proves one thing. It doesn't matter where you are in the world, as long as you have good food, good friends, and good conversation you can have a fabulous time. Also if you add a pint or two into the mix, it is always a good idea to catch a cab, no matter what country you are in. Happy Post Thanksgiving to Everyone! I hope you are all as blessed this holiday season as I have been. Cheers.
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent, or not so innocent depending on who you speak to.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
1. Birthdate Feb 24
2. That makes me 27 years old.
3. My natural hair color is brown.
4. My hair color now is red. (sorry mom)
5. I have 2 kids. LaLa is 4. KiKi is 2.
6. I have a cat, Sam, he is orange and white.
7. I have a dog, Elizabeth, she is a blond cocker spaniel.
8. My favorite color is pink.
9. I am not one of those people who will only wear their favorite color, or decorates their house in their favorite color.
10. I think those people are kinds weird and may need help. Sorry if you are one of those people.
11. My husband is in the Air Force. I don't let my husbands job define me like some Air Force Wives though.
12. I just finished my degree in Technical Management with an emphasis in Human Resources.
13. I left traditional college when I was 21 years old and only had about 36 hours of courses left.
14. My original degree was going to be International Business with a minor in Russian Studies.
15. I thought my mom was going to kill me when I left school.
16. I moved to Texas to be with my husband..that is why I left school.
17. I had every intention to go back to school when we moved to Missouri, but then I found out I was pregnant.
18. 2 kids later and I finally went back to school.
19. Now that we are in England I am going to have to get a "real" job and not be a stay at home mom anymore.
20. I feel guilty that I am going to have to put KiKi in daycare.
21. But I am excited that I am going to be able to have conversations with adults during the day.
22. I love my children, but I have little patience with other people kids...well except for my friends kids, usually.
23. I think this is because I used to work in a daycare.
24. I also have worked at an accounting office for a senile old man.
25. He fired me on my birthday because he needed someone full time in the office and I could only work part time because of school.
26. My best friend is, D.
27. She is the yin to my yang. When I freak out, she talks me back off the ledge.
28. My husband is also my best friend. He is a little OCD and apparently moving brings out the OCD in him. He lost 62 cents the other day, and he is still looking for it. "What if I lost it on the flight line and it got sucked up into the engine of a plane" This is what I am dealing with folks! LOL!
29. My favorite soda in the entire world is Cherry Coke Zero. They don't have that here in England.
30. I am totally bummed out that they don't have Cherry Coke Zero here...not even at the commissary.
31. I have switched to Diet Dr. Pepper, but it just isn't the same.
32. Man, I sound like a drug addict.
33. I get weirded out by people who start crying in front of me.
34. I am really not good with emotions.
35. I also am not a hugger.
36. I only hug my family and really good friends unless there is a circumstance where I am forced to hug someone or look like a complete jerk.
37. I talk to my mom and my granny almost every single day. They get worried if I don't call at least every other day.
38. If I don't call them, I get worried messages left on my voicemail saying things like "Kat, it's your granny, I haven't heard from you in a couple of days, call me back." or "Kat, it's your mom. Where are you?" Or I check my cell phone and I have 9 missed calls from my mom in the span of 4 hours.
39. My mom and granny both read this blog. They will probably deny #38. It is true though.
40. My favorite moment of the day is catching one of my kids in bed and getting to wake them up gently and cuddle with them. LaLa is especially good at this. Of course then she will whisper "Tickle Me" when we are cuddling and it makes me laugh every time.
41. I miss my friends back in Missouri and my friends back in Charleston.
42. I am grateful for the friends who stay in touch.
43. I believe that a new hair cut, a new pair of shoes or a new purse can fix almost any problem.
44. I am really glad I got a hair cut yesterday. It came at the perfect time.
45. I am not good at worrying about money BTW.
46. I don't think my daughter should get gypped out of a really special birthday just because her birthday is 3 days before Christmas.
47. Christmas is my favorite holiday.
48. I think gifts are secondary to being with family or friends that you love.
49. This is only going to be the 2nd Christmas that I will not be in Charleston for. It sucks big time.
50. I am also praying that I have my own furniture before Christmas. Actually that in itself just might be a Christmas miracle.
51. My favorite Christmas song is "Sweet Little Jesus Boy"
52. My favorite Christmas song used to be "Oh Holy Night" until this girl at church kept butchering it every year for like 5 years. My mom and I would sit in the pew and try not to laugh every year. My granny would shoot us evil eye. Hey, you guys have your Christmas/Holiday traditions, I have mine.
53. I kinda like being 5 hours ahead of the Eastern time zone now, because it lets me write my blog posts in more time. I can post by 3 pm GMT and still have by post up by 7am eastern time. Booyah!
54. I am really needing that time today because this 101 facts is really time consuming.
55. The last book I read was "The Christmas Sweater" by Glenn Beck. I think everyone should read it. It had me crying on the plane on the way over here. It isn't just a tired old story about Christmas.
56. It is really hard to cry quietly on a plane and not be noticed. I really didn't want to look like a nut job. I apologize to any fellow passengers on the plane who I may have offended or scared.
57. I love riding on planes. I hate the safety briefing though. I mean really, do they think that I am actually going to use that seat cushion as a floatation device.
58. When I see someone pass me on the highway at double the speed limit I feel angry at them and bad for them. I have actually said "When they wreck they better hope they die, because they won't want to live after wrecking at that speed."
59. I try not to go more than 5 mph over the speed limit.
60. I think that is because I have kids now and I am more careful with everything I do now.
61. Before I had kids, I was a speed demon.
62. I no longer feel the need for an adrenaline rush. I value my life a lot more now.
63. I do get angry at people who don't at least DO the speed limit though.
64. I always seem to get stuck behind this person, when I am running late no less.
65. Sometimes my husband is THAT person. He blames it on having to drive 15 MPH on the flight line.
66. My favorite material possession is my engagement ring.
67. I use my parents and my grandparents as my moral compasses. I often think about what they would think before I do things. I still dyed my hair red. Sorry Mom.
68. My eyes are green.
69. I feel compelled to write something naughty right here, but I won't. That would be so cliche'.
70. My dream vacation destinations are Greece and Russia.
71. I think I will get to Greece one day. I am no so sure about Russia.
72. My favorite saying I heard on Oprah. It is "Trying is failing with honor. Never try, just do it."
73. I hate watching Oprah.
74. Have I ever mentioned that I am a conservative?
75. I didn't vote this year.
76. I feel guilty about not voting. I don't think my vote would have made a difference. I feel guilty about the apathy I had towards voting this year. I really didn't like either candidate very much.
77. Have I ever mentioned that I am glad that I will be living in England for the next 4 years.
78. I am not pissed off that Barak Obama won. I just hope he does the best job he can. I think partisanship has torn the US apart.
79. I am not a fan of Housing Offices on Air Force Bases. They always prove to be a pain in the ass. It doesn't matter what base you are on.
80. Arbitrary rules piss me off.
81. Sometimes I need a time out.
82. I think I am a better driver than my husband. He begs to differ.
83. I can drive stick shift. Sorta. If I have to.
84. I think it is a good skill to have, just in case.
85. I know how to do a lot of things in theory, but have never actually done them.
86. For example. I know how to mow grass. I just have never done it. That is what dads, little brothers and husbands, and good friends are for.
87. I know how to change a tire, in theory. See #86 for the reason I have never done it and add friendly bystanders as another reason.
89. My dad is hillarious and befuddles me with his logic sometimes. Hi Dad.
90. I like to visit my parents at their offices. It is fun to meet their co-workers or talk to the ones I already know. Hi Sandy.
91. My favorite movies are Labrynth, the Princess Bride, Shawn of the Dead, Grandma's Boy, and Army of Darkness.
92. I hate the movie Baseketball with a passion.
93. I will walk out of the room if my husband is watching it.
94. I will also remind him that he will never get that 2 hours of his life back.
95. I do not think pajama pants are acceptable attire for grocery shopping. Ever.
96. I prefer to wear my hair down and straight, but sometimes my hair has other ideas and that is when I throw it up into a ponytail.
97. My hair is naturally curly.
98. My eating habits are questionable. Sometimes I skip meals and then other times I eat everything in sight that isn't nailed down all day.
99. I love my kids more than myself. You guys probably already knew that.
100. I can usually write a blog post in 20 min, though they usually aren't very good when I write that fast.
101. I hate when I try to be witty or funny and end up just looking stupid. It happens. A lot.
Ok I feel I have satisfied my obligation as a blogger to spill my 100 facts about me now. Feel free to comment or discuss amongst yourselves.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
We had been here about 5 days when we decided that not having a car was just not an option anymore. Sure we could walk around the base, but in order to get to D's house we had to call her or her husband to come pick us up and frankly it was getting exhausting for all parties involved. I hate having to depend on others, she was getting behind in her everyday activities, and we couldn't fit all members of both families into one car.
Finally on Thursday my husband, the kids and I walked our behinds down the the local base car rental office and paid entirely too much money to rent a shoe on wheels, I mean car. We rented a VW Polo, with an automatic transmission and UK specs. In other words it has its steering wheel on the right hand side of the car.
Now at this point I have been riding with D all over the area for days. I am pretty used to what it feels like in a UK spec'd car. The Man, well he had been at work for most of the week and then on Wed. he was struck down by the 24 hour stomach virus from hell. He was still not up to snuff on Thursday when we went to go rent the car, and had not had much time in a UK spec'd car or riding around learning the rules of the road. So what possessed me to let him be the first one to drive the car is still beyond me. I am not saying it was the worst decision ever made in the history of the earth, but it might be right up there on the list.
So there we are sitting in the parking lot of the rental company, armed with a map of the surrounding area outside of base, a map of the base, and a vague idea of where the base hotel is. We just need to get to the base hotel. Not hard, right? Yeah, that is what I thought. So wrong, so so very wrong. The Man inches out onto the road, left hand side. Good. We head down the road at a turtles pace and I am telling him the directions to get back to the hotel. Everything seems to be going fine.
Me- "Now we need to take the 2nd exit on the roundabout to get onto this road to head back to the hotel"
Him- *confused* "What? Do we need to go left, right or straight?"
By this time we are entering the roundabout and he takes the first exit to the left and we are heading off of the base into the English countryside. Wonderful. Just wonderful.
Him- "Damnit Kat, you didn't tell me which way to go!"
Me- "Ummm yeah I did, you just didn't listen buddy."
Him- "Oh great, now what do we do?"
Me- "Dude, just turn around."
Now we are heading down the road towards one of the towns near base, but I couldn't tell you which one, because the map of the local area...yeah it sucks. I get him to pull over onto a little road so that we can turn around. Then I realize that I have left my ID to get back on base in my purse which is in the trunk of the car...ya know, cause going off base wasn't exactly in the plan. He pulls to the side of the road, I hop out like we are doing a chinese fire drill and grab my purse out of the trunk.
Me-"Ok now go. Remember, pull out onto the LEFT hand side of the road."
Him- "I know that much."
Me- "Alright. I was just reminding you. I mean it isn't like you have had so much experience driving or riding around."
Him- "It doesn't help that the roads are only 3 feet wide."
Me-"They aren't 3 feet wide, it just feels like it."
We head back down the road, me clenching the door handle so tight my knuckles are turning white and praying we don't hit the little curbs on the side of the road and flip the car. Lucky to be alive, we make it back to the base.
Me- "Ok now when we get to the roundabout, just take the first exit. That should take us back towards the room."
On the way back we hit a four way stop intersection*. Now that is something my husband can deal with. This whole looking for cars coming at you, paying attention to turn signals and guessing where the car you are merging in front of is going thing. My husband, I don't know if he is gonna catch onto it really quickly. He has already tried to kill me roughly 4 times since he has been driving.
To quote my husband when we got back to the room a couple days later after yet another near miss at a roundabout where he tried to kill us all. "I love the feeling of almost dying everyday. It really makes you feel alive."
For the record the first time I drove here. It was dark, a Friday night, and I made it there without one near death experience and the kids were screaming and talking the whole way. I am not saying I am a better driver than him, but ya know, I didn't almost kill anyone.
*These are the only stop signs on base. Anywhere you would think there would be stop signs are roundabouts or give ways. Also, give way does not mean stop. It is basically a yield sign.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Thankfully we won't have to stay here for very long because we have already found a house that we want to rent. We are just waiting for the OK from the landlord to have pets. It is a cute little detached house (to Americans that is a single family house), with 4 bedrooms, 1 1/2 bathrooms, and a detached garage that had been turned into a play room by the previous family. The Man is going to use the garage for his "Man Cave", in other words a place for him to go play guitar and be a man. Why do I all of a sudden hear that Home Improvement guy Tim Allen?
My new love is also Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars. Someone will have to try to pry on of these suckers out of my cold dead PMSing hands. Hershey ain't got nothing on Cadbury chocolate. Whitmans, kiss my hiney. Mars...pfft. Cadbury is where it is at. Maybe I should have a contest for a chocolate bar...I need to think about this one.
This week was also marked by the 24 hour stomach virus from hell. First KiKi got a little diarhea and the next thing we know, The Man is laid up in bed for the next day and a half going at both ends, KiKi starts puking her guts up and then D's family all get it. Thankfully Me, LaLa and D were all spared from the virus. D felt a little queasy on Friday, but never actually got sick and I felt a little queasy this morning. When The Man and KiKi were sick I was feverishly Lysoling the bathroom and kitchen repeating the mantra "I will not get sick, I will not get sick, I will not get sick" I think it worked. Mind over matter, right people?
*Need to think of a nickname for best friend D
** Don't know enough about new English friend,N, to make a nickname for him yet.
*** For another post
**** see above.
Friday, November 21, 2008
OhCaptain (no it's not, but this is the Internet). Kat asked me to guest post for her while she takes her family across the pond. Wow! What on honor. Thanks for the opportunity!
When I agreed to do this, she gave me a topic and asked if it was OK. What's the topic? (it's in the title...geez)
Seemed like a pretty broad topic with lots of room to wiggle. Just my style. As a
very experienced k now it all husband and father of two, I got to experience the absolute hell joy of traveling by air on a one week vacation this past summer.
I have gone in spurts at work when it comes to traveling. There have been times when I didn't want to unpack because the next trip was right around the corner. Now, I'm on a stretch when I never seem to leave the office.
Here are some helpful hints that I discovered that made our trip a success.
Practice Makes Perfect
I can remember my first business trip by air after 9/11. These new checkpoint rules were confusing and some just seemed really weird.
When we started getting ready for this trip, this experience made me think. What are the kids going to do when we get to the checkpoints? How will they react when we are told to remove our shoes. I'm a grown up and that seemed really weird to me.
With that in mind, me and the Mrs talked about what was going to happen with the kids and even practiced a little bit about going through security. We used a doorway as a metal detector and took off our shoes to walk through.
This really helped, when we got there, we had no surprises and the kids just did everything like we practiced.
Some little things to consider when getting the kids ready for the checkpoints:
- Have the kids wear slip on shoes. You may not have time for a beginner to tie their shoes.
- Pack all electronics in one bag and make sure you can unpack and repack them quickly.
- We packed those Kool-ade to go packets that you add to water bottles. Sure, $3 for water is ridiculous, but what you gonna do. You can't bring through security.
Study Your Itinerary Carefully
I'm a planner. I like to plan for spontaneity. Being prepared when you travel is critical for smooth sailing.
I'm not rich, so traveling direct is not always an option. Layovers happen and it's best to know what to expect.
For our trip, we changed planes both ways. We figured an hour or two might be fun with the kids. We could go exploring some airport and do things we've never done before. As it turns out, that wasn't in the cards for us. In fact, on the trip home from vacation, we had 35 minutes to cross 5 terminals at ATL in Atlanta.
Yikes. Knowing this ahead of time gave us chance to make some plans. We packed extra light carry-ons for the trip home. Nothing extra. In a pinch, Dad (me) could carry almost everything, including the 5 year old, and high tail it across the airport.
You Can't Pack Too Many Crayons
Traveling cross country by air takes time. Granted, in our case, it was much faster then the 3 day drive it would be if we hopped into the minivan, but it still 4 hours of being good sitting in one spot.
In the kids carry-on's we packed:
- Lots of crayons
- Coloring books
- Mp3 Players
- Leapster/Nintendo DS
- Extra batteries
- Books for reading
- Something to hug
I was so proud of our kids. It seemed to be the right mix. We did take out a little insurance policy. We bough each one a new game. We gave it to them just before we left and neither knew they were getting it.
So, how did our trip go? We had a blast. The kids loved traveling by air and we the parents found it a very relaxing way to go.
I know, not everything is going to always go as planned. Flights can be canceled, luggage can be lost, but if you plan ahead and don't put too much pressure on yourself, you can have some fun.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
It's that time of year again, and the Great Turkey Debate is in full
swing. My mother volunteered to do Thanksgiving this year, since
we're going to Florida right before the holiday, and I REALLY wanted
to take her up on her generous offer, but...
It will be stressful for me to do it, but I have to. I'm not about to
let my 73-year old mother take on the huge task of cooking and baking
for 12 people. It's way too much work, and she's paid her
Thanksgiving dues already. My sister and brother don't seem to mind
who does it, as long as it's not them, so it will be my job once
again. The aforementioned brother and sister also refuse to go out
for Thanksgiving dinner again, which my mother and I have both
suggested, and they can't seem to contribute anything other than
store-bought pies. I'm not bitter; I'm just used to it.
This has been going on for years, and I end up doing it, along with
every other holiday and special occasion. Since I love to cook and
throw parties, I actually enjoy being the hostess; that is, except for
Thanksgiving day. It used to be one of my favorite days of the year
when I lived at home. I loved to help my mother peel the squash and
apples for the pies and set the table and spend the day with family.
Once we moved into our house, I couldn't wait to host our first turkey
day. I was so excited. I did all the shopping, had the table set and
all the fixins ready to go. I just had to get the turkey in the
This is when I discovered my hatred of turkey or at least uncooked
turkey. I love me some fully-cooked turkey as long as someone else is
doing the cooking, but that Thanksgiving day when I was pulling the
fresh turkey's internal organs out of its butt, touching the bumps
where the feathers once were and seeing a couple stragglers that they
didn't pluck while I washed its slimy, whitish-pink skin, I was
gagging. I had no idea what my mother had endured all those years. I
was so disgusted that I screamed for my husband to finish the job.
Being such a great guy, he finished cleaning it and got it in the pan
and then the oven. I thought I was safe, but the smell of the flesh
cooking made me sick all day long. When that baby came out of the
oven all brown and pretty, just the way I like it, I couldn't eat a
bite. Since that Thursday in 1994, almost every turkey day has made
me ill. I can't eat it if I clean it or smell it cooking. We went
out to eat one year, deep fried one outside another year, had my
mother cook it at her house, but it was not close to done when she
brought it down. Nothing seems to make it easier.
So, this year, I'm going to change it up. It might be an Italian
Thanksgiving or we might have chicken breasts on the grill or maybe
even tofurkey. I'd rather enjoy the day with my family than stress
over cooking a 20-pound bird and keeping everything else warm. It's
time for some new traditions for this family, and I've just got to
decide what they will be. If my siblings don't like it, they can do
it next year.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, especially you and
yours, Kat! Good luck across the pond, my friend.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
So I wish Kat and her family good luck, and I share a tiny sampling of the joy that German Engineering can bring.
We’ve done about 7 loops around the country in the Westy since we started traveling in the beginning of 2001. Each time, we do things slightly differently, stay in different campgrounds, check out different things depending on the time of year, the weather, what we know, and places we hear about.
But I’m combining 7 cross-country loops into 1 here, and zipping with you from one corner to the next. Maybe I should have called this Southeast, Southwest, Northwest, Northeast?
South. We are always compelled to head south. When we first started traveling it was January, and Connecticut was covered in snow and we arrived warm and happy in the Florida Keys 5 days later.
We’ve spent many winters in the Keys – this is Bahia Honda State Park in Big Pine Key. We’ve been volunteers there, so have been able to camp there for 2- or 3-months at a time. I am itching to get back there, as I sit here in my freezing house today….
West. Heading west, we drive across the gulf states, and into Texas. We stop in Fort Davis, of course, a lovely little town where we have a house . . .
. . . and where we’ve also volunteered at the state park. That’s the Westy, in the photo above: that tiny white dot, where the roads meet. No we were NOT in a helicopter; we were hiking in the Davis Mountains. 5000 feet. In Texas!
Heading further west – we are Americans, after all, and do absolutely believe in the Romance of the West – we pass through the badass states of New Mexico and Arizona, and into California. Aahhh, California.
But wait! First: a detour into Mexico’s Baja Peninsula for 2½ months, in 2003.
We camp in places like this all the time. No people, no traffic, no distractions, no nothing, except sea and sky and peace.
Oh, and these guys.
Back to California. We always camp in the Anza-Borrego Desert, which is the biggest state park in the United States. The whole of the Anza Borrego Desert is the state park. It’s in San Diego county, it’s 100 miles from Jacquie’s door, and it not only feels like a different county, or state, than the one that San Diego shares, it feels like a different planet.
Is there anything better than camping under the stars, with no ambient light, in the warmth? No. No, there is not.
Well, camping right on the coast is pretty great too.
North. Driving up the California coast is one of the most spectacular trips on this continent. The Pacific Coast Highway, Big Sur, the Bay Area.
And then, aaaahhhhh. The mysterious grandeur of the Gigantic Sierras. Hang around those trees for a few days, and your attitude about the importance of your place on the planet shifts a little.
East. Heading East – always poignant. But exciting, too, because lots and lots of our peeps live east of the Mississippi, thousands of miles away. And the driving’s good, too, with the sun at our backs all afternoon (hey! These are things you think about after 7 years on the road!)
I really love the remote campsites we get, like this one in Nevada, and I just love the fact that Mistah makes the effort to photograph them.
And then over the Rockies and into the heartland. The corn belt. Nebraska (a great place to picnic, clearly), Iowa, Illinois. I love those state. So wide and vast and corn-filled.
And that’s it. A full loop. Until we pull right in to the East Coast . . .
. . . and arrive home (at least for now) in the Nutmeg State. Connecticut.
Is it time to go to the Florida Keys yet?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
When Kat approached me to write a guest entry for her during the time that she was going to be relocating to her new home across the pond, I agreed without hesitation. She gave me a few suggestions when I asked her what I should write about, and although she gave me freedom of subject matter (short of religion or politics), I decided to go with one of her suggestions and write about something I have a lot of experience with: moving.
I boast that I have a lot of experience with moving because in the past three years, my wife (who I refer to The Boss over at my blog) and I have moved a back-brakingly high number of five times. To say that we are adept at safely packaging our dishes and other things destined to be labeled as “Fragile” would be a gross understatement. Due to the frequency of our address changes, a majority of our possessions have spent most of their time tucked safely away inside a growing number of plastic storage bins, saving us the work of having to re-pack them for the eventual moving process in a couple months down the line.
Now, anyone who follows my blog knows that I am fond of making lists, and can make a list out of just about anything. Since I am just one job description on my résumé away from being a Professional Home Relocation Contractor, I figured it’d be appropriate to share a list of things I’ve learned about the moving process from personal experiences…
Important Things To Remember When Moving:
· Don’t pack essential items that you use daily, like deodorant or toothpaste, until the last day at your soon-to-be former residence. Your spouse and others helping you move will appreciate this.
· It is foolish to rely on the strength of cardboard boxes to transport the contents of your bookshelf. The bottom will fall out approximately three steps before you arrive to the moving van/truck.
· Use caution when using cleaning products. Proper ventilation is necessary to avoid dangerous side effects such as dizziness, loss of consciousness, and the waste of an afternoon from sitting in your vacant living room, laughing about nothing in particular whilst feeling stoned.
· If you forgot you had it or haven’t used it in six months or more, get rid of it. If you don’t, I promise you’ll be kicking yourself in the ass six months later when you have to move it to another apartment… again.
· Do not eat large meals when moving. Otherwise, after consumption you might experience what is called a “Food Coma”, or worse, vomiting.
· Invest the money in large, heavy-duty garbage bags. They are good to have on hand when you are fed up with putting things in boxes, and can hold a surprisingly large amount of stuff. Remember to differentiate the bags of Things You Want To Keep from the bags of regular household trash, so you don’t accidentally set something important, like your wife’s wedding dress, out on the curb for pickup the next morning.
· When selecting the proper attire for Moving Day, choose clothes that are loose-fitting. Your favorite old pair jeans might be the most comfortable if just a little tight, but the cool autumn air will cause a chill when the crotch rips open when you remember to lift with your knees.
· If the number of trips you make between your old residence and new residence exceeds the number of fingers you have (assuming you’re not an amputee), you have too much crap.
By the time this post reaches the wonderful readers of Kat’s blog, my wife and I will probably have been awarded a Guinness World Record for moving again, for the sixth time in three years. Just as I’ve become skilled at packing and lifting heavy things without giving myself a hernia or a slipped disc, with each move we make I’ve become equally as skilled at complaining about it every step of the way. You are not going to hear me complain about it here, though. Moving from one place to the other, with no more than 20 minutes and 11 miles between them, is just a drop in the bucket compared to the time-zone traversing relocation that Kat and her family face.
Good luck with the move, Kat. We look forward to hearing about it all when you come back.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I found the Steenky Bee via Captain Dumbass when I first started blogging. Jen is one of my favorite bloggers and has cultivated quite an audience in the last couple months. I am honored to have her post over here at 3 Bedroom Bungalow. She is a great mom and a wonderful bloggy friend. Please make her feel welcome while she is staying at the Bungalow.
When the lovely Kat over here at 3 Bedroom Bungalow asked me to guest post while she moved her family to England I was thrilled for a few reasons. First, I love Kat. She’s the second person to ever comment on Steenky Bee without requesting money. Second, she’s moving to England. She’s only person I’ve ever known to make good on the threat “If this country doesn’t get out of the crapper soon, I’m moving to Europe”. I begged and begged her to stay in the States until she at least knew the outcome of the election, but she claims she’s had this move planned for months.
Anyway, her move to a foreign country has brought back memories of a move my husband I made just a little over eight years ago. At the time, we were just newlyweds and shacked up in a tiny, one bedroom basement apartment in Salt Lake City. We had only been living there about three months when we were forced out due to a water main break in a sprinkler line just outside our front door.
When I say “forced out“, I don’t mean that someone actually came and forcibly moved us, unless you count the fireman that showed up at our door after the building manager called them. They eventually gave up trying to stop the flooding and just concentrated on hauling our furniture and other belongings out safely to dry land. I guess in theory, Jeremy and I could have tried to give it a go and live in four inches of water, but most of my shoes had leather uppers and entertaining in those conditions would have been next to impossible. I mean, have you ever been to a water party where you didn’t feel just a tiny bit self-conscious?
Before the fire department arrived on the scene, Jeremy and I were frantically gathering up irreplaceable items like photos, heirlooms and our PlayStation II. When the first fireman knocked on our door, I immediately threw the box of photos I was holding for safe keeping aside and ran squealing with excitement into the bathroom.
As I ran off in the ankle-deep water, Jeremy shouted after me, “Good idea, honey! We’re going to need a few toiletries to tide us over at the hotel for a few days until we get settled somewhere else.”
What was he smoking? I wasn’t in the bathroom packing up shampoo and cotton swabs. The last thing on my mind was where I would be sleeping that night. I had much bigger concerns. If I was going to be hanging around glistening and well-toned fireman that afternoon, I was damn well sure going to look my best. After all, I was the proud owner of many “Three-Alarm Firemen Calendar” years 1987-1999. I knew from studying those things intently that firemen were likely to hang out wearing just those pants with red suspenders and nothing else. They also seemed fond of leaning against fire polls wearing their jackets while seductively staring forward. And for some odd reason, they spent a great deal of their time just standing around in groups of three or four leaning against miles and miles of fire hose. No matter what they were doing, or not doing, to me, they looked like all kinds of fine.
So there I was, locked in the bathroom furiously primping away. Once I freshened up my make-up and got Jeremy to confirm several times that the jeans I was wearing did not, in fact, make my butt look fat, I was ready to approach my first fireman.
When I walked out into the living room I was did my best coy little strut as I cornered the one in our living room. Looking hot proved more difficult than I originally thought. The water was now nearly up past my calf so wading in freezing cold water while trying to look sultry was pretty much out of the question. I was disappointed when I noticed that the fireman who was busy emptying out my book shelf had his shirt on. In fact, every fireman on the scene was fully dressed. They had shirts, pants, boots and everything. Each one of them was even sporting a bulky yellow rain coat. Now how the hell was I going to see any freshly waxed chests if they kept themselves covered up like that?
As the hours passed and more and more of our stuff was being hauled outside onto dry land I grew more desperate. It wasn’t every day I had the opportunity to rub shoulders with actual firemen. While Jeremy was busy calling our insurance company and loved ones, I was dialing every girlfriend I could think of to tell them that they better hurry over to see the firemen at our place. Of course, the only person that showed up was my mom, and being the smart lady that she is, she brought her camera with her so she could get some picture of the hot men in suspenders.
The fire crew eventually left after all our furniture was safely out of the apartment. However, a few of them left even earlier when my mom and I threw buckets of water on them in hopes that they would remove their wet clothing, thereby exposing their chiseled abs. No such luck. Not only did it upset the fireman, but my mom and I lost our bucket privileges all together.
Eventually, almost everything Jeremy and I owned dried out. We were able to salvage most of our valuables including our wedding album, my fireman calendars and our two cats. The building manager put us up in a spacious two-bedroom apartment on the second floor. We had a spectacular view of a pond, a winding walk-way, but more importantly, we had a perfect view of our previous tiny basement apartment. Like clockwork, every two weeks or so, that area would flood completely and someone would call the local fire department out to deal with the mess. I was able to scope them out from the privacy of our apartment window.
Jeremy and I only stayed in our new apartment for about six more months We decided it was time that we invest in a home of our very own. We settled on a four bedroom, three bath nestled in a more rural setting. We wanted somewhere with quiet solitude, somewhere for our children to grow up close to family, somewhere close to good schools and parks. But most importantly, somewhere that had a fire station just around the corner. After all, a girl can never be too safe.
Friday, November 14, 2008
So Kat and the 3 Bedroom family are off to England and she's asked me to house sit for a day. Me, a Canadian. From the province of British Columbia. Get it? British? England? Ya, it was lame. I'm scrambling. Kat asked me back in September if I'd like to post and I was all sure, that's two months from now, plenty of time. Now it's November and I'm getting angry emails. "Where's my post, dammit!" Hubby handles bombs for a living, right? Ya, I'll get it done right now.
I'm so envious of Kat and her family. Well, envious in an I'm-not-the-one-who-has-to-
I was in England in nineteen...ninety? Was it '90? It was before the first Gulf War. I remember because Sadam was firing Scud's at Israel and we decided it might be best not to go there. 1990. That was eighteen years ago. Eighteen years, two kids, one marriage and a house ago. Now I feel really old. Gee, glad I could do this post, Kat.
I had such an amazing time in England. Of course our experiences will be slightly different. I was twenty years old, no wife or children and my diet consisted mainly of barley and hops. I didn't have to put a house together in a foreign country with two little girls in tow. Thank goodness she has friends over there already to help, cause they don't even speak English. Sure those cockney accents are funny when you see them on tv, but just try that conversation in real life. I remember being on a bus in Glasgow that had just picked up a couple of drunken soccer fans. Those guys were on the bus for an hour and talked loudly the entire time. Understood one word and one word only. It rhymed with duck. I'm joking, of course. Somewhat. About them speaking not speaking English, not what happened on the bus ride.
Just think about the blogging gold Kat's going to have. The move alone will give her a month's worth of material. Language differences, driving on the wrong side of the road, strange English tv and strange English people. She's so lucky. Take lots of pictures for us, Kat! Oh, and apropos nothing, when you're on an army (navy, whatever) base in a foreign land, how do holiday's work? Do you get to share in that country's holidays? Just wondering because all of my American cyber-friends are talking about Thanksgiving now and it's making me hungry. Ours was last month and it's so long until Christmas. Sorry, sometimes I wander.
Where was I? England! Right. If you're a regular 3 Bedroom reader and aren't familiar with me, you were probably expecting this to go somewhere, maybe a story or two relating to Kat's move or something. Ya, not so much. Oh, and the title? In the middle of Norway there's a little town named Hell. Obviously 'Hell' does not mean the same thing in Norwegian as it does in English, but when I called my mom collect from there (a month or so after I left England) and she answered the phone at 4am on a Monday morning because I hadn't calculated the time zones correctly, I don't think she saw the difference. What did that have to do with the rest of this post? Nothing at all, but it did make for a good title. Alright, I think Kat wants the keys back now. Good luck, Kat! Write it all down.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Today we are off to Kansas City to spend the night so that we can catch our 6am flight to Minnesota and then wait 12 hours for our flight to London. Needless to say we will be busy bees. Wish me luck. I just may need it!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
On the bright side, last night my good friend Angie, who used to live across the street from me here on this base, cooked dinner for my family and a couple of other families that we are friends with. It was a nice dinner and the kids of all the families got to play with each other for a few hours while us adults sat around and had some nice conversation. The food was great too.
On the bright side, Christine one of my other friends who was at the get together, had a picture of herself, Angie, our other friend Amy, and myself printed out and framed for me. It was very sweet. I am gonna miss my girls when I leave this base, but they are only an email or myspace message away.
Note: This is a before picture of this night. I don't have the guts to post the after picture for fear that Angie would KILL me. Fun Times. Good Night. Well for me, Angie maybe not so much.
Also on the bright side, I will be in England in 3 days. That's right folks, in 3 days this nightmare of a move will be over. No more living in this tiny TLF room. No more having do deal with airlines. No more having to live out of a suitcase. No more having to type blog post while sitting on a pull out couch, watching Playhouse Disney in my pajamas. Well I might still blog in my pajamas watching cartoons, but hey, it's comfortable.
Bright side. On Saturday morning, I will be at London Heathrow airport seeing my best buddy Dawn for the first time since September. This will all be worth it in the end and I just have to keep that in mind and always look at the bright side of life.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
This morning I called the clearing agent and they said NorthWest decided they were not going to ship my animals. They told me as long as my kennel picks the animals up, they will clear the animals. When I called NorthWest, Kimika (yes I am using names at this point cause I am sooo pissed), decided that she would ship the animals if she got confirmation from the clearing agent that they would clear the animals and the kennel would pick them up. I called the kennel and they said they would do whatever I needed them to do (they are waving the white flag of surrender as well). I hope NorthWest realizes with crappy service comes pissed off customers. This pissed off customer also has a blog. I hope I get a million hits on this post and I hope NW see it themselves.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Now as soon as I am done on the phone to the airline, once again, to give them the phone number and address I am recieving via email, I SHOULD be able to book my tickets for the animals to London Heathrow airport. SHOULD, anyways. Doesn't mean these idiots and the opposite of SouthEast are going to get it right, but we will cross our fingers and hope for the best. Stupid airlines and their stupid airline rules that they don't even know how to apply properly. I win. Oh and I told ya so!
EDIT- Airline arbitrarily changed their mind. They have me over a barrel and I have to do it the way THEY want me to. No saving money. I am still right, they just won't let me be right. Screw them. Off to send import paper work to the agent THEY want me to use and pay MORE money than I want to pay. SCREW them I HATE them and I'll be damned if I will ever fly this airline for ANY reason. You hear that Northwest, SCREW YOU!!
Saturday, November 8, 2008
But that is not what I am going to blog about. Okay I don't know what kind of music you guys listen to, but my dial is usally set to the rock station here in Kansas City. Sometimes I switch it over to the pop mix station or the classic rock station, even country sometimes, but mainly it is the rock station. What I have noticed lately though is a disturbing lack of creativity. For instance, Kid Rock completely has bastardized one of the greatest southern rock songs of all time.
Then there is the band Disturbed who apparently have found a formula and are going to stick to it until thier 15 minutes are up. Short staccatto words with palm muted guitar licks and then a couple of seconds of soaring dramatic lyrics. I am sure it is just because "that is the way that guy sings" (according to my husband), but I can't help to notice all of their songs sound the same. Example #1
Another band that is guilty of this is Nickleback. Example#3. No offense to anyone who likes Nickleback. I am just not a fan and I get the feeling of de ja vous every time I hear one of their songs.
A note to all bands. Please do something orignial. Have a sound, yes. Please also vary the music enough that you make so that I know I am hearing a different song. Take a lesson from Metallica, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and the *gag* Eagles (my husband loves them, me not so much but they are a decent band), they all have destinctive sounds, but none of their songs could ever be mistaken for one another. Seriously, if I can't tell what song a band is about to play within 5 notes in, maybe it is a little to similar to another song they have written. Just sayin'
Friday, November 7, 2008
I also just shelled out money to the cleaning lady who is finishing up the cleaning before our final housing inspection. She got to witness my lovely tirade when I was talking to the airline. I won't say the name of the air line but it is the complete opposite of SouthEast (if ya get my drift). The Man had declaired that if I ever insist on taking the animals to another foreign country, he will take me out. Y'all got my back right??
Thank you guys so much for the words of encouragement yesterday. I just have to keep telling myself that in a week I will be in England and all this crap will be behind me. It just feels like it is taking forever, especially since I am stuck in TLF (which is basically a glorified hotel room with a kitchen) with two kids who will not stay quiet and are refusing to eat their dang chicken nuggets.
One other thing. I kinda did an inpromptu interview with one of the movers yesterday.
Me-*watching them load the large wooden crates on the truck with all my worldly possessions* "So do you enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles, cause you are really good at finding items to fit in there snuggly"
Him-"I used to really enjoy them, now they are too much like work. After 20+ years of doing this, I just kinda have a knack of what goes where."
Me- I bet you have seen some interesting stuff moving all these people all over the country!
Him- "Yeah you would be supprised at some of the ummm "toys" people don't hide. I like to go up to the lady of the house and say "ma'am we can't figure out how to get the batteries out of this.."
Me- You don't REALLY do that do you?
Him- "Nah we usually find the husband before the wife sees us! Ya know some people just let their freak flag fly a little too high!
Me- So do you wrap your presents a Christmas? I notice all you guys are really neat when wrapping all my items up.
Him- No way, that is the wifes job.
Another Mover Ciming In- I wrapped like 90% of the presents lastyear because my girlfriend decided to wait until the last min. I did a kid per night a couple nights before Chrismas Eve.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Today I will be supervising while the movers put my packed household goods onto the gigantic moving truck with KiKi and LaLa and The Man are going to be driving to St.Louis with one of our buddies to drop off the new Jeep at the port to be shipped to England. Then our buddy will bring them back to base.
The cleaning lady started cleaning our old house last night. I stopped in there last night and checked to see what they were doing. She had her husband, daughter, her daughers boyfriend all helping her clean the house. They were cleaning the bathrooms and the kitchen when I got there. Today she will be coming over once the movers leave to finish up.
I guess the one bright spot is that TLF has wi-fi and my husband is being a sweetie and letting me use his lap top to blog. I don't know if I will get around to reading very many blogs while this move is happening, but you all know I love you. I wish I had more time in a day to get everything read and commented on. Just bare with me for the next month or so. Also smooches and big thanks to all the guest bloggers who have sent me posts. They are all entered and scheduled to post. You guys are the best ever!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
How do I feel about moving to England? Well actually I am really excited, scared, and stressed out. I know when I get there that the stress will go away, but until then I am a big 'ol ball of stress. Cussing when my kids are not around seems to relieve that sometimes.
Is this the first time I have lived in a foreign country due to the military? Yes. Well unless you count Texas or Missouri as foreign countries.
How do the girls feel about the move? LaLa is really excited. Her best friends (my best friend's kids) already live at the base we are going to. When she tells someone she is moving to England she says "I am moving to England and I will get to play with C and C"....like anyone knows who her best friends are. EDIT: About 5 min ago LaLa realized that we are not coming back to Missouri and that this isn't going to be her house anymore. She burst into tears and started asking what was going to happen to her friends and if she was going to be able to see them again. It broke my heart into a thousand different pieces. I know she is going to have to do this every few years and it is going to be rough on her. I just hope we can handle it each and every time we have to do it. It is cute. KiKi, well she is 2 so I don't know how much she actually gets. She can say England though.
How long will we be over there? 4 years. Longer if my husband really likes it over there and applies for an extension, or tries to get another European base (and actually gets the assignment).
If you send me money will I get and send you some Doc Martins? Yes I would, but I think you might could find them cheaper in the states. Everything is more expensive over there. Yankee Candles go for almost $50!
Will I live on base? Most likely no. We are looking at living in a little village between the two RAF bases in the area.
Will I befriend Gwen Paltrow? I dunno, she doesn't seem like my cup of tea. Maybe I will find another famous US ex-pat who wants to be friends.
Heinous- The odds of losing the car..hummm..well knowing my luck very good. For a normal person slim to none.
Sprite's Keeper- I hope my girls pick up the accent as quick as possible. I know my friends little boy who is 5 picked it up really quickly and her daughter who is 9 also has it a little bit. My friend also has picked up a slight English accent and she has only been there a year.
Will the animals have an accent? Well I already imagine that my cat has a french accent. I imagine it could change once we get to England. I guess he could say "Oy, get me some water" instead of "Le Mew, water S'il vous plaite"
Will I say "God save the Queen?" No but my kids already say it around here.
Will I take loads of pictures and show them to you guys? Of course! Why else do you think my husband got me the coolest graduation present ever?
Lola- What will I miss the most about the US of A? Driving on the correct side of the road.
Do I like British humor? I love Monty Python does that count?
What the hell do they eat over there? Fish and Chips
CaptainDumbass-Where is my base? NE of London about 70 miles. Kinda in the middle of nowhere, but all Air Bases are in the middle of nowhere. Seriously. Right now my base is in the middle of nothing but farm land.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
This is my family for Halloween. I am a Queen (of course), followed by "The Man" as Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th, Lala as a princess and KiKi the kitty. Aww aren't we so cute you want to puke.
Next, the new car. Isn't it pretty? It is an '08 Jeep Compass. I love it. I am sad that I have to say goodbye to it on Thursday when my husband drives it to St. Louis to ship it to England. Damnit! I only got 6 days to know you Jeep Compass and you have already been a good friend to me. You got me to Kansas City and back to get food dishes for the animals crates (apparently your pets have to be able to eat and drink on the flight too...lol) and you are magnificently clean, have a smooth ride and feel like a car not an SUV when I am driving you. I will see you again, good friend when you return to me in England.
OK...now I am taking requests. Is there anything you want to know about my move to England or anything in general you would like me to write about? Think about it guys, this is an open invitation to ask me almost anything. Of course there are some things I won't respond to, naturally.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
The past 4 days have been a whirlwind. We have done a lot of fun things and some things we definitely didn't plan on. Lets start with what we didn't plan on. We didn't plan on buying a car. The man took our '99 Jeep Grand Cherokee into the dealership to have some work done before we shipped it to England. When the mechanic called and said that there were over $2500 worth or repairs that needed to be done in order to be able to ship it. Ummmm yeah, not so much down with that. I told my husband to tell them to stop all work and we would be there to pick it up. We decided to go ahead and bite the bullet and trade in the Jeep on another car. Well the other car we ended up trading the Jeep Grand Cherokee in for was a Jeep Compass. I love my new car. It is so shiny. Oh and orange. Also very pretty.
We also didn't really "plan" to go to the zoo. It was more like "Hey what are we doing tomorrow? Oh nothing, lets go to the zoo." So we did. It was great. The weather was perfect and all the animals were out. My kids also kept complaining to a minimum. It helped that they had their own personal shuttle.
And...well there were no bears...but this Orangutan apparently wanted to eat LaLa's head.