Saturday, November 29, 2008

Measure At Least Once

You might remember that Thanksgiving Day was supposed to be Hubby's assembly day of some Ikea furniture. You can put whatever number you want on the word 'some'. Well, that didn't exactly happen, but it didn't have anything to do with that Cowboys game.

I mentioned in my last blog post that I purchased our Thanksgiving turkey. I've never purchased a fresh one. I've always purchased frozen. I think I might try fresh next year, especially if I purchase at the last minute.

I've decided that store version of frozen is more frozen than home freezer frozen. Because after two days in my refrigerator, it was still frozen, probably home freezer frozen. That's about all the thawing that big bird had done.

So Thanksgiving morning instead of putting that bird in the oven, he had to go in a sink of water for about three hours. Or so.

And did Hubby and I use that extra time to assemble that Ikea furniture?

Nope. We were so tired from the last couple of weeks that we went back to bed for a few hours while that turkey took a cold bath.

We usually eat at noon to 1:00 p.m. This year, it was about 4:00 p.m. But not a single person really cared, because we were all together in our new house and I found enough dishes to cook everything in. And I also found the meat thermometer during the time the turkey was cooking, so we were assured no one would get salmonella.

Yesterday, some assembly took place. We emptied fourteen Ikea boxes. Here's most of what we did:

Now I made a kind of serious oops. See that dark brown/black shelving unit above? Well, there is a lovely tv cabinet that is the same size. It has room in the middle for the tv, components below, and then the cubbies surround the entire piece. Sixteen cubbies of storage bliss. The paperwork for the piece gave the dimensions/warning for the maximum width of the tv, and ours would squeak in with a little less than an inch to spare. There was no information on height, but I assumed that if it fit width-wise, it would certainly fit height-wise.

Three of those boxes we opened and started assembly on...they were that tv cabinet.

Guess what my assumption got me?

Hubby has been very understanding about the whole thing. It helps that we haven't put too much of it together and we can still manuever it down the stairs. It has been determined that it will be taken down to the dungeon for future use for a future tv when the basement is completed in the future or when a tv is put there in the future for whatever future reason it might be put there. The cat might want to watch it when he goes to live there, because after this morning, I don't care if he is using the litter box. See what we found on the kitchen floor this morning:

That's after he broke a decorative glass jar holding m&m's yesterday...on the counter! The home inspection walk-through guy was right — when you drop something breakable on the granite, the granite won't break, the breakable item will.

We've emptied and assembled the pieces from three more Ikea boxes today, and we have 'some' more to do. Since our tv is still sitting on one of those white plastic folding tables, I'm going to have to go get a tv table at some point. I'm a little concerned about the security of the tv long-term, read short-term, on that table. I wonder if I can find something else that requires assembly.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

That Was About As Close As I Get To Silence

And coming from a non-stop talker like me, that silence was probably deafening.

Thanks to everyone for the nice words while I was being silent on my blog. Believe me when I say I was not even close to silent in my actual everyday life. It's been a whirlwind. I want to update you, and I'll try to keep to the point, but knowing it's me you might want to prepare yourself. Go get a cup of coffee or a cup of tea, or if you live somewhere that it doesn't feel like the frigid arctic (read between the lines that someone still needs to acclimate here), go get a cold drink. This could potentially take a while.

I wish I was as together as Betsy thinks I am. Ten years ago I was. I used to get unpacked and have pictures on the wall and everything put away within a week at the most. I don't know what has happened to me, and no comments about age necessary here. I thought when it took me four weeks in Virginia it was because our quarters were so small that I was fighting an uphill battle, trying to get around boxes and then trying to figure out what to keep and what to give away. But since it's happening here and I have lots of room, I can't use that excuse. So here are some of the things that have been going on in the last two weeks since we found out we would be closing on our house.

Our 30-day notice for the apartment got turned in on Tuesday as soon as we found out we finally had a closing date. There were some last minute glitches that were fairly minor prior to the Friday closing of our house, the 14th of November. We closed at 4:00 that afternoon. We did end up sleeping at the apartment for several more nights until we had beds and kitchen appliances.

Of course I have had all kinds of delivery people and installers at the house. Blinds were a priority, and we had already ordered them thinking we would close in October; they just had to be installed as soon as we took possession. Internet, phone, and cable, our alarm guy, furniture, appliances, installation of some appliances...the list kind of goes on and on. In between all that I've made numerous runs to Target, Wal-Mart, Home Depot and/or Lowe's for things we have needed or returns for things we didn't. I finally got to the point that I bought things if I remotely thought I might need them knowing I could return it later, just to save a trip in an hour.

Appliances have been my nemesis. I am learning to boil water. Literally, people. I know that many, many of you out there probably love to cook on gas if you're anything like all the other people I've run into along the way in this whole process, but I don't. I'm an electric range kinda girl. Me and the gas cooktop just don't seem to get along very well. The gas cooktop would blame my ignorance. I do everything I'm supposed to, but it just doesn't work for me. I make my flame the right size and everything, but it can take me 20 minutes to boil a stinkin' pan of water to make Kraft mac & cheese. That's absolutely ridiculous in my book. So maybe you can figure out what I made the kids the first night we ate here.

Here's what happened...I had already been to Sears and knew every black appliance I wanted. No, thank you, Mr. Salesman, I do not want stainless. Harder to keep clean with my crew, and in addition the refrigerators have gray sides that wouldn't look nice from the side view in my kitchen. No, thank you, Mr. Salesman, for the 3,246th time, I do not want a microwave hood combination. I do not like them, not one little bit. Yes, I know that most people love them. I have plenty of counter space for a regular microwave. I personally despise them above my stove. I've only had one up there when I lived in Virginia and in this apartment we just had. Guess what? Only my husband can see in them for the most part. And they take away cooking space too. At least it seems like it to me. Gets kinda crampy there on the top of the stove. So Mr. Salesman, I just want the pretty black range hood all by itself, thankyouverymuch. We buy our appliances, instead of paying for them forever in our mortgage, and plan to have a refrigerator, stove, range hood, and dishwasher delivered on Saturday, the day after we close. Appliance installation guy is scheduled for Monday (as in just over a week ago) for the range hood and dishwasher.

As we are standing in the house rather late on Friday night and Hubby is putting boxes in the garage (more on that in a minute), I check out where the clothes dryer is going, because if you remember my full-size washer and dryer in the apartment was made for the childless island couple only wearing bikinis and swim trunks, and I am rather anxious to wash more than a handful of clothes at a time and actually try to get some serious laundry done soon. I think I came close to hyperventilating. The only other time I came close was on an unplanned helicopter ride that had to do with emergency labor and delivery (story coming in December, I promise, but wasn't that a tease?). There is no electric hookup for my dryer. I know what it is supposed to look like. I had to change my four-prong plug to a three-prong plug myself in Virginia. There's no special prong plug outlet ANYWHERE. Just a plain old outlet. And then I spot it. A gas line in the floor, all ready for my electric dryer. We had this discussion when we signed our contract and met with the building superintendent, but when we did the walk-through we missed it. I specifically wanted electric for my clothes dryer and stove. Oh, no, my stove. That's when the true panic set in and I spotted the gas hook-up for the electric stove that was coming the next morning at 8:30.

Well, one refused delivery later, another trip to Sears to purchase a stove that was not my first choice and a gas clothes dryer to replace my four-year old electric clothes dryer that really wasn't efficient anyway, we have our appliances. The builder would have come and at least put electric for the clothes dryer, but we decided that as many clothes as we do in our house that we will probably save significant money by having that gas dryer. But no, Mr. Salesman, I do not need a matching washing machine.

Hubby rented a 26-foot Supermover from U-Haul, again, to unload the two storage units where the majority of our things were located. Well, everything that wasn't in the apartment or apartment garage. He did that on the Friday morning we closed with a friend from work, and then on Friday night he unloaded it all in the 3-car garage. Until about midnight. While I was fuming about the appliances.

We had been moving over vehicle-loads of things from the apartment but it was going slow. Plus we got an email from our contact at the complex and it looks like we will not have to pay for the full 30 days like we thought. So we started busting our tails to get our stuff out. I don't know how we managed to create the chaos we did in just three months, but that is definitely how I would categorize it. I also don't know what people normally do when they leave an apartment, but we cleaned it. We are used to clearing military quarters, so it's kind of normal for us. Personally, I would like my deposit back and not get charged the extra days, so anything I can do to make someone happy, I will. Getting out of that apartment has truly been an awful experience for me. It just seemed to go on and on with no end in sight. We just finished yesterday, so that is no longer a cloud hanging over my head.

In between all this, our battery was dying in one of our vehicles. Our newer, bigger one, of course. It happened the first time when we were out at the house getting ready to leave to go back to the apartment to sleep. The second time we were at the apartment and had just loaded up both vehicles. I took it in to Sears and thankfully I only needed to have a battery and the alternator was fine. The kicker is that my speedometer is still messed up. It works part of the time, usually when you just start driving, and then after a while you're going 0 mph. Fun...

We went to Ikea on Saturday (four days ago) and rented a trailer to bring the stuff we bought home. We also knew that we could use it to clear the rest of the things out of the apartment garage, so there was a dual benefit. Hubby carried all those Ikea boxes, and I'm not telling how many, up flights of stairs, while me, Sparky, and Buddy, switched off or paired up on the other end of the boxes. We carried them in on Sunday afternoon between morning and evening church. You could say we all had muscle failure. Not a single lick of that furniture has been assembled yet. I told Hubby he could do that instead of watching the Cowboys play football tomorrow. What kind of a look do you think that got me?

When we brought the cat over, there was no furniture yet, since it was getting delivered in a couple of hours, and apparently that was a problem for him. He was a little freaked out and went upstairs to hide in a closet for a little while. After we showed him where the litter box was, of course. Which, by the way, Hubby does not like my choice of placement, but we can worry about that later.

On a happy note, Hubby will not be placing the cat in the dungeon, as he affectionately calls the basement, because the cat is using the litter box.

By the way, we've had snow, ponds are starting to freeze, I have to use moisturizer on my face morning and night, and my face feels like it's freezing when I go outside. It's a little bit cold here. Hubby threatened to get me one of those face masks you pull over your head with the holes. You know I'm doomed when it really does get cold here, because I really am smart enough to know that it's going to get a lot colder.

Even though we have our Christmas tree ornaments, I don't know if we have a Christmas tree. I think the government movers have it. We may have to buy an inexpensive Wal-Mart tree, because I'm not waiting until the second week of December.

I also have no pictures, because although I have some on the digital camera, I have no idea where the cable is to get them from it to the computer.

But I went commissary shopping yesterday and have a fairly full kitchen. And a turkey for tomorrow! Now I just need to find the boxes in the garage that have the dishes to cook everything else in.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Veteran's Day Surprise!

Lora thought my silence might have meant I was busy moving into my new house. I thought that was funny. No blog post for something like four days and that was silence. I had to giggle a little at that thought. I really am a Chatty Cathy. So much for disguising my true identity...blew the cover myself! But honestly, I had been a little splotchy with posting, skipping a few days in between, so I see her point.

Just to get everyone up to speed, we:

1. signed our contract on our house July 15,
2. pulled into Michigan on August 1 and have been living in a two-bedroom corporate apartment with four children sharing a bedroom,
3. had our original closing moved from October 30 to somewhere between October 7-10,
4. found out in September that there might be a small delay because VA had not approved our phase of the subdivision, even though it usually only took them six weeks and it had been eight weeks,
5. were unable to give 30 days notice on our corporate apartment since we did not know when we were closing,
6. had to pay extra money twice to extend and lock in our loan rate, which already extended 15 days past the October 7-10 closing date,
7. found out the builder's office only sent the paperwork in to VA in September to have the subdivision approved and it was their fault we were having to pay all this extra money,
8. found out that said builder refused to pay our extra costs because the contract says we are responsible for paying for the costs in obtaining our mortgage (I could get on my bandwagon about normal costs versus costs because of negligence of others, but I won't),
9. found out that the packet was actually overnighted to VA on October 20,
10. have been in this apartment even though our house has been finished since the beginning of October,
11. and have been working on, quite frankly, a very stinky attitude.

Because really, after what happened to Heather's family, I felt about an inch tall. This was an inconvenience for me and my family, and I have been mighty complainy about it, especially to my husband, and I've just used a word that isn't one I think. But it fits what I've been. I have struggled with this something awful and I still don't think I have the right attitude. And I really didn't know how to post an update without sounding like the whiner I am, so now I'm whining anyway, but good news follows...

Today, we found out that the subdivision approval is completed and we will be closing on Friday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. EST!!! I get to have Thanksgiving in my new house in my new kitchen and cook my own turkey in my new oven. I AM SO EXCITED! Honestly, I was worried we weren't going to be in the house in time for Christmas, and we hadn't been able to put up a tree for the last two years because our military quarters were so small that with all six of us there just wasn't room. And of course there wouldn't be room in this apartment, so I was getting a little nuts. I shouldn't have been, and knew it, but for some reason we were made to wait until now for our house. It was the last thing we expected today, being a federal holiday. We can only assume that they found out late yesterday, because VA had to be closed today, so Hubby had a great Veteran's Day surprise!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Memory Monday

Joanne Heim at The Simple Wife has started something new, Memory Monday. She is the author of the book Living Simply, an absolute gem. I am leisurely reading through it, treasuring each minute even though I will probably re-read it as soon as I am finished, all the while whipping through fiction after fiction after fiction. I refuse to read this book when I am drifting off to sleep because I don't want to miss a thing! (Just as a little side note: being a math brain, I don't do so well with reading comprehension unless I read something a second time...then it seems to sink in a little more permanently.)

So about Memory Monday — Joanne started this to provide accountability and motivation for herself in memorizing God's word and writing it on her heart, and she's invited us along. Each Monday we will type our verse or passage out by memory that we've memorized in the past week. I'm so fantastic at paraphrasing and knowing the content of a verse, but not the actual word-for-word verse or the specific scripture reference. I freely use my concordance or my husband to find verses, not always in that order. I'm reminded that there are countries in this world that are not allowed to have Bibles for fear of persecution, or don't have enough for everyone to have one. They will cut one up and share it, carrying that paper around, treasuring it and memorizing it, until trading it for a different one. Those people know what it means to hide God's word in their heart. I am spoiled by convenience. I, too, have been convicted recently about this same thing, and I am so privileged to participate in Memory Monday.

The verse I picked for this week is one of my favorites, and when I learned it at the beginning of the century (isn't is so much fun to say that?) I learned it in a different version than the one I'm going to share here (all mine will be NIV here), then got it mixed up with another one soon after (probably NIV at that point), and another version confused me sometime later. And for some reason I could never remember exactly what verse number it was: five or eight. So I decided it was a good one for me to start with. Being a perfectionist, I even tried to remember where the punctuation was, but that's where I might get it goofed up. By memory:

Philippians 4:8
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

If you want to read Joanne's explanation about Memory Monday, you can go here, and she has a button you can pick up if you want to participate. And to see what Joanne and others memorized this week, here's the link for that. While you're there, look around her blog. I think you'll be glad you did.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Book Review: Sin Boldly

This is not a book I would have typically picked up while browsing through the bookstore or CBD online, but when Jessica over at What Can Brown Blog For You? was giving away several copies, I put my name in and was fortunate enough to get one.

The book title originally seemed to me as permission to go out and sin because grace would be there in abundance, but that wasn't the gist of the book. Sin Boldly by Cathleen Falsani is a compilation of multiple short stories, some from her travels to different continents, and her experiences with what she deems grace.

At the beginning of this week my devotional that I'm subscribed to by email came through from Insight for Living and it was titled Grace Unlimited. It was so timely to the reading of this book for me. Here is the text of the devotion:

My plea is that we not limit grace to Christ. We, too, can learn to be just as gracious as He. And since we can, we must, not only in our words and in great acts of compassion and understanding, but in small ways as well. Let me describe four practical expectations you can anticipate as you get a firm grasp on grace.

1. You can expect to gain a greater appreciation for God's gifts to you and others. What gifts? Several come to mind. The free gift of salvation. The gift of life. The gift of laughter, of music, of beauty, of friendship, of forgiveness. Those who claim the freedom God offers gain an appreciation for the gifts that come with life.

2. You can expect to spend less time and energy critical of and concerned about others' choices. Wouldn't that be a refreshing relief? When you get a grasp on grace — when you begin to operate in a context of freedom — you become increasingly less petty. You will allow others room to make their own decisions in life, even though you may choose otherwise.

3. You can expect to become more tolerant and less judgmental. Externals will not mean as much to you. You'll begin to cultivate a desire for authentic faith rather than endure a religion based on superficial performance. You will find yourself so involved in your own pursuit of grace, you'll no longer lay guilt trips on those with whom you disagree.

4. You can expect to take a giant step toward maturity. As your world expands, thanks to an awakening of your understanding of grace, your maturity will enlarge. Before your very eyes, new vistas will open. It will be so transforming, you will never be the same.

Falsani is an excellent writer with an easy writing style and I enjoyed reading the book. But was it a field guide for grace? Does it affect my relationship with God? Is it a realistic book for most of us who have children at home and don't travel to all ends of our own country, much less the world?

I don't really think I would call it a field guide for grace. Many of the stories can be tied back to one of these practical expectations listed above, but this devotion also came from Proverbs 3:34, and most of this book wasn't specifically tied back to the Bible.

Many of the stories were also just that — stories that were enjoyable to read, much like I would read Philip Gulley's books that are compilations of short stories. At the same time, I don't agree with Gulley's theology on universal salvation. Falsani's stories seemed laced with too much liberalism for me. I still believe you can be conservative, believe in what the Bible says, and love people and show them grace.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Meet The Kids: Part 2

Today I'd like to introduce you to Chatty, who is the oldest of the twins by a whoppin' seven minutes. Actually, I don't think we'll ever know exactly how much older she is than her sister due to the excitement in which her sister was born. They probably just picked Sparky's time when they had a chance to look at the clock again, because there really was no way it could have been seven minutes. But that's beside the point I guess because she is older, and you will hear the story in December on their birthday.

Chatty has had a total of seven surgeries, the first when she was about two-and-a-half weeks old and got to fly in a plane somewhere else to have it done (and then they flew her back a few days later since she had a twin and it was four hours away), and four of which were eye surgeries. The two I didn't mention here were the most serious. Her last eye surgery included a botox injection, which at the time was a new treatment to paralyze the muscle so that when the eye floats back into place the muscle will hold at the right spot. Seems to have worked so far, and that was roughly three years ago. She also has the ability to shut one eye off, which isn't bothersome if she's reading and you can't see it but is quite unusual if she's looking right at you. As long as she's wearing her glasses she doesn't do it, so she always has them on.

That's my little intro, here's her interview:

What would you like for people to know about you?

I like to read. I like to listen to music. I like watching TV. I like shopping.

What do you like to read?

Nancy Drew, The Lady Grace Mysteries, American Girl Mysteries, and The Mysterious Benedict Society.

You seem to like mysteries quite a bit.

What type of music or artists do you like to listen to?

The Jonas Brothers, FFH, Avalon, and PureNRG.

What do you like to watch on TV?

Jon and Kate Plus 8, The Suite Life of Zach and Cody, The Suite Life on Deck, I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Leave It To Beaver, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Dennis the Menace.

What do you like to shop for?

Shoes, purses, and clothes.

Do you get to do that very often?


What do think about having a twin sister?

It's really awesome because you're never alone.

What do you think about having two younger brothers?

They're really funny (did she really say that?) and they're really good at playing hide-and-seek and DS games (did she really say that?).

Do you think Caboose is funny?

Sometimes. It depends on if he's trying to be funny or not, and if he's made me mad or not.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A veterinarian.

Do you realize you're going to have to go school for a long time and be good at math?

Yes, although the thing is I don't like math. But I love animals.

Everyone in the family seems to like sports. Is that true of you also?

Sports are okay, but I'm not a huge fan.

What do you like most about Michigan?

The scenery here is really nice. The people here are really nice. I can't wait until it snows.

What do you like least about Michigan?

There's really nothing I don't like yet.

What do you think about being interviewed? Is it what you expected?

No, I think it's more fun than I expected. I've never been interviewed. So it's cool.

Do you have any closing thoughts you'd like to leave with the readers?

My favorite food is chili. My favorite animal is either a cat or a dog or a squirrel. My favorite game is hide-and-seek.

Obviously I didn't ask enough questions to let her answer her favorite stuff. She also didn't seem nearly as chatty as her name would indicate. I had to rephrase several questions to get away from the standard yes, no, and sometimes answers. And here I thought she'd be the easiest one being so chatty and all.

But the squirrel...that came out of left field.

Oh, and by far, our giggliest child, whether it's appropriate or not.

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