9.29.2011

If These Walls Could Talk

The war on cardboard continues and I think I'm winning. The empty boxes outnumber the full boxes so that's a point in my favor. The fact that the empty boxes are still here is driving me batty but that should be remedied this weekend, thanks to Craigslist. Currently, there is a wall of approximately 25 Dishpack boxes separating me (where I sit in the kitchen) from my living room.


Not. A. Fan.


The house we've rented is huge. It's easily twice the size of our house in Hawaii and then some. Our goal during our time here will be to NOT expand to fit the space. As I unpack, I am amazed that we managed to fit so much into so small of a space. In Hawaii, our "school room" was simply space in the living room that I eeked out. Here, we have a basement that measures somewhere in the vicinity of 800 square feet that will house not only our school area but MacGyver's office and the kids' video games and Legos. Both The Boy and The Girl now have their own room whereas in Hawaii they shared a room. And it's funny because, in Hawaii, I thought they had too much stuff but now that they are each in their own space, their rooms seem sparsely furnished.


The town that we live near (not in...we're *just* outside city limits) is a combination of the typical "outside the gate" town combined with a town that actually has quite a history. Many of the homes in the original city neighborhoods date back to the 1920s and earlier. The "downtown" district is ripe with history too but the socioeconomic situation prevents it from truly showcasing that history. And that kills me. The houses here have what my dad would call "good bones" - old Craftsman-style homes with sweeping front porches and tons of architectural detail. The buildings downtown are the same. This town is ripe for an episode of "If These Walls Could Talk" and yet, no one is developing this. The houses are run down. The downtown district has more bars and pawn shops than actual stores or eateries. It truly is a waste. Part of me wishes we were going to be here longer than we anticipate so that I could not only buy a home in the "historical district" and fix it up but also get on to the Chamber of Commerce or city planning committee and encourage them to work to bring in businesses that better reflect the character and history of the town as well as to start up a city beautification push.


I did find out - through MacGyver's inprocessing - that classes at the local community college are FREE. F.R.E.E. FREE. So that EMT course that I was interested in taking just became a little more attainable. Now I need to see about a babysitter because it looks like MacGyver is going to be busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest once he gets back in the cockpit. Which is just fine by me.


It's late and I'm getting the stink eye from my husband so I will wrap this up for now. More to come. In preparation for my next post, I encourage you to read the children's book, "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie". Trust me, it will make sense once I post.




Pau.




- hfs

9.20.2011

I need a name

The state that we've moved to requires us to name our homeschool. I am not creative in any way, shape, or form. So I"m asking for input from you. Ideas? I'd love to come up with something witty, using Hawaiian words, or a possible Calvin & Hobbes reference. Let me know what you come up with in the comments!




Pau.




- hfs

9.18.2011

Adventures in Moving - Road Trip 2011 (part 3, I think)

I had to go back and read where I left off so I know where to start. Story of my life! Grand Junction wasn't anything remarkable...mainly because we weren't there long enough to see anything. The next day, we rolled out after gassing up and started our long, slow slog up the Continental Divide. About an hour outside of GJ, we passed what had to be the most pristine setting for an RV park - right on the Colorado river and right next to a horse pasture. If we had only known...


However, if we had known, the 10 year old would still be there after refusing to get back into the RV. So it's probably a good thing we didn't know. The drive up the Rockies was slow but relatively uneventful, save for the beautiful scenery. And the gorgeous temperatures, given the fact that my car was without a/c. The descent into Denver was stressful for me, driving behind the RV that my husband drove which carried my children. I do not doubt his driving skills. He's a solid driver. But gusty winds, winding roads, 6% downhill grades, and a 28' RV with a 12' trailer make this mama stressed out. Thankfully we all made it safely. We spent 2 days in Denver which is nowhere near enough, if you ask me. But we'll be back.


We introduced the kids to the glory of Beau Jo's pizza. They got it. Part of me was hoping that they didn't so I could steal their pizza crusts and slather them with Colorado honey. Alas, they gobbled up their crusts and didn't share any with their mother, the woman who gave them LIFE. Ingrates. Both of them! We spent a few hours at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in LoDo. Not nearly enough but it was a start.


We'll be back.


Then it was time for the 500 mile push into the Sunflower State. It was a hot day and a LONG drive. That pretty much sums it up. MacGyver reserved us a site on a lake which was a nice introduction to Kansas. Pretty scenery, nice people. We're slowly getting acquainted with our new surroundings. We hit the ground running the next day, scoping out houses. After a few days of searching, it looks like we have found a house that works for us which is a blessing. After our last temp lodging experience - all 75+ days of it - I was worried we'd see a repeat and wind up languishing in temp lodging hell yet again. I'm doing my best not to count my chickens before they hatch (we do not have a signed lease as I type this but we do have a verbal agreement) but it looks like we have a house.


The house is more than DOUBLE the square footage of our house in Hawaii. I'm not sure how I'm going to fill it - we don't have enough furniture to fill that kind of space. We'll have a bedroom for The Boy and The Girl (previously, they shared a room), an office for MacGyver, and a dedicated guest room! In addition to that, the basement family room is big enough to serve as both the family room (read: video game area...no video games upstairs! Yay!) and our school area. I am beyond excited! I can put a map on the wall, a white board, posters...you name it! There is room not only for my desk but for the kids to each have desks/tables once I find them on Craigslist. The master bedroom is easily double what we had in Hawaii. The backyard is huge and has a nice hill that will make for some great tubing runs once the snow falls. It's in a quiet neighborhood that is comprised of both local and military families, is relatively close to the airfield, and is close to a few friends. We're hoping to solidify a move-in date and a date for delivery of HHGs this week.


We've not yet started school (1OCT is our start date) but we did hook up with the local military homeschool group and go on a field trip/tour of a local dairy. We were able to see how the cows are raised, the milking facilities, the veterinary facilities, the bottling facility, and we were able to taste some incredibly delicious farm-fresh milk. The families in the group seem nice and were quick to welcome us which was great. It's not as involved as our co-op back in Hawaii but they offer art classes, a choir program, and monthly field trips.


And, because every move needs some excitement, I've managed to catch a cold and I'm losing my voice. My kids are thrilled. I am not. Hopefully it's short-lived. MacGyver should be hopping back into the cockpit in the next few weeks. It's been 26 months so he's rusty but he's studying as much as possible and I'm hoping it's a lot like riding a bike in that it comes back to him quickly.


So that brings us to today. Somewhere in that chaos, The Girl turned 10. I'm not sure how that happened, exactly. She was just born yesterday. But now she's 10 and wearing my shoes. We're taking her this week to get her military ID. She's over the moon about that prospect. Where does time go?


I should hit the sack and see if I can regain my voice somehow.




Pau.




- hfs

9.10.2011

Adventures in Moving - Road Trip 2011 (part 2)

We've managed to survive 3 days of our road trip thus far. No one has been killed, no children have been offered to the Gypsies, and no obscenities have been yelled. However, we're only about 1/2 way there. We've had some major changes in our plans, starting off with deciding not to drive the RV up to the Pacific Northwest. Given our experiences over the past three days, I'd say that was a wise decision on our part. Let me recap.


We were aiming to leave SoCal around 9am (entirely too late in my opinion but it had it's upsides). Between the last minute minutiae (I LOATHE minutiae of any kind) and a blown fuse that prevented the inverter from, well, inverting (and thus powering our assorted electronics), we didn't really get on the road until 1030am. And that was after being accosted by two of the grumpiest old men I've had the displeasure of coming across in the Costco parking lot.


When the kids and I landed back in SoCal, MacGyver picked us up...in MY car!! We could only ship it to SoCal on the military's dime and we were going to pay our of pocket to ship it on to Kansas because it wasn't due to get to SoCal until after we had left. But it arrived EARLY. I was so excited to see it! And, since we had it before we had to leave, we decided to take it with us. Because we are towing a trailer, I am driving my car. It saves us (after deducting for gas) about $600 by not having to ship it in addition to having the added convenience of having a car and not having to drive the RV in and around town.


So back to the trip. We drove out of SoCal and made it as far as Adelanto (near Barstow) when the RV suffered a blow out. Thankfully it was on the rear and MacGyver was able to pull off safely. We swapped it out with the spare and were on our way. Just a side note to the story: my a/c blew a hose days before it was to be shipped. Not a big deal - MacGyver planned to fix it once the car (and we) arrived in Kansas. We didn't plan on driving it through the desert of Southern California in a late-summer heat wave. Needless to say it was HOT. And my car runs warm on the inside to begin with. Not fun. I chugged more water that day than I have all summer long. We made it to Zion late in the evening, missing the splendor of the drive in. We found our camp spot and settled in for the night.


The next morning, we awoke to some of the most majestic views a person can imagine. If you've never been to Zion, I would recommend you do so. Tomorrow. We didn't get to see 1/10th of what we wanted, having only a day but what we saw was incredible! The kids now have National Park passports and are learning all about our National Park system. I was sad to drive away from Zion this morning.


From Zion, we started our slow climb up to the Continental Divide. We made it as far as Grand Junction and that is where we camped for the night. A few maintenance issues took up most of our time this evening but thanks to MacGyver's skillz on the waffle iron, we had delicious waffles for dinner. Next, it's on to Denver. I can just about taste the Beau Jo's pizza from here!


And we received word yesterday that our HHGs are already in Kansas, waiting for us. w00t! Now we just have to find a place to live.


For now, sleep. Pictures when I have decent bandwidth.




Pau.




- hfs

9.02.2011

PacNorWest

It's COLD up here. We were supposed to have driven the RV up here to visit friends and family on our way to the Sunflower State but, after giving that some serious thought and checking out last-minute ticket prices on line, we opted to fly up instead. Actually, some of us opted to fly. MacGyver, given the fact that it's been 2+ years since he last set foot in a cockpit and given the fact that he's going to have to hit the ground running (to the cockpit) once we arrive, opted to stay home and bury himself in the -10, the 5&9, and the MTP checklist/handbook that he has. Saved us wear and tear on the RV, 20+ hours of hard driving, and really only cost us about $150 more than driving up would have cost.


All in all, I think it was a wise decision.


So the kids and I are visiting while MacGyver studies. We're freezing while he bakes. It's chilly up here, even when it's warm. And SoCal is still experiencing quite a heatwave. One of the first things we did when we arrived was go SHOPPING. My poor children only had shorts and T shirts. So we hit up Kohl's, Target, and Fred Meyer. Oh, how I have MISSED Fred Meyer. During our time in Alaska, that and Sam's Club were the only evidence that civilization existed in Fairbanks. I spent many an hour with my baby girl in Fred's in Alaska.


Today we hit the Point Defiance Zoo with the cousins and had a great time! We've missed them and it's always good to reconnect with family. I did not bring a camera on this excursion so I don't really have pictures to post. The zoo was nice - the setting was gorgeous. And the fog burned off nicely to the point where I could actually say I was warm! Tomorrow is supposed to be even nicer!


I had to resist the urge to buy The Boy a Carhartt jacket. It was a great jacket and I had forgotten how much I love Carhartts. They are a staple in Alaska. But I couldn't justify spending $75 on a jacket for a 7 year old boy. So I didn't. It's very possible that we might wind up living over this way in the future so I'll think about it if and when that happens.


It's been great to hang with old friends here. It's a lot like going home. It was so hard to say goodbye to them in February so it's wonderful to be with them again. Almost like we're back in Hawaii, hanging out as usual. And it won't be AS hard to say goodbye to them this go-round because we'll be back in a few months for Christmas. So I'm not dreading it quite as much.


I'd write more but there is a Tempurpedic mattress along with a warm blanket calling my name. So I'm out!




Pau.




- hfs