May 28, 2009

Moving soon

So 13 days from now, we fly off Oahu as we move to our next military assignment.  So much has had to be done in preparation.  Sorting, purging, organizing, packing, notifying, planning, confirming.  Feels like juggling.  Fortunately I don't have to do it all myself.  After 15 months without my husband home, and now having had him home for 3 months, it's so nice to have someone else to talk through decisions with.

    Nearly every corner of our home has been sorted through, looking for things that need to be put elsewhere, things that should be thrown away, given away or sold.  I have a closet full of things to consign, and an appointment to do so next week.  They told me I could bring a maximum of 45 things.  That inspired me, and I have exactly 45 things.  We've donated bags of things to the thrift store.  We've thrown away lots of old papers, and some old broken or worn items.  I've organized the girls' toys into Rubbermaid containers and kept them off-limits so they don't get lost and mixed together again.  I've done the same with their craft supplies, games, and books.  The books aren't off limits, but they must put them back where they found them, exactly, with the other books that are like them.

    We've notified important people of our move, and asked the USPS to forward our mail (starting tomorrow).  We've made arrangements with housing, the movers, hotels, rental car places, airlines, and family members and friends.  We've made extensive to-do lists and conquered much of them.  We've debated how many checked bags we'll have, how many carry-ons, and which ones, and whether or not it will all fit in our car, or in the rental car going to and from the airport.  I've made packing lists for myself and the girls, and modified those once we realized how little space we have to work with.

    We've said goodbyes and "see you laters" to many great friends and acquaintances made here, and there are more to be said.  We've turned over responsibilities and roles to others who will remain here.  We've given things we can't move to friends who can use them.  (There's more of that to be done too.)  We've creatively used up most of the food in our kitchen, though I'm sure I can squeeze a few more meals out for the few days we're still in our house.

    We've researched and explored things about our next location, both on post and off.  We've gotten pre-approved for a mortgage and have looked extensively at houses on the market through the internet.  We've seen several we like in our price range, and anticipate seeing what's on the market when we can actually view them in person.  My husband has priced used Honda S2000's in the area, and has determined the price he wants to pay, and what colors he does or doesn't want.  We've gotten names and tips about people and places in the area we should find when we get there.

    So it's been a busy time.  Monday the movers will come and start boxing up our "unaccompanied baggage", necessities that arrive first to Colorado.  We're allowed not quite a ton of weight for this group of stuff, so my husband told me to picture a pile the size of our car.  Then Wednesday and Thursday the other movers will come and box up the rest of our household goods.  We'll start staying at the hotel on post this Thursday, and check out of our house completely on Monday June 8th.  We fly early in the morning on Wednesday, June 10th.

    We're anxious to go and see family and friends, and to then get to know our new location, but also sad to leave good friends, familiar places, and tropical paradise behind.  It's an odd mixture of stress and excitement.  Strange, but we've been through it a couple of times before.

    We feel truly blessed to be a military family, and we accept the challenges involved in the moving process, because we know that our jobs here are done, and that God will use the jobs that we face ahead of us in the next place will grow us in the way that He desires.  It's an adventure, and we are enjoying the ride!

May 14, 2009

Waffles and Spaghetti anyone?

Recently I had a chance to hear Bill & Pam Farrel speak on their book, "Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti". I had heard of the book before, and was amused by the title, but never had picked it up to read. I have been exposed to so many great Christian books on marriage, and figured it would be more of the same. I was wrong!

From their presentation, I gained several practical how-to's for better communication. For example, if you are a wife trying to draw out communication from your husband, you should learn how to go into his box and stay there, and listen to him, and repeat back key phrases. I recommend reading the full explanation on this from the book.

Also, their explanations of how men and women think differently are illustrated so well, and so uniquely that it made even more sense to me having been explained differently. Did you know that we as women sometimes tend to cut the walls between the waffle boxes down in our husbands' brains? That doesn't work well, because then the syrup all runs together, and it's now how God intended for them to process things! God's design for the way we each think differently was a very good design, and we need to learn about each others' differences, and accept and appreciate them, and the benefits of our two differing approaches to life.

To view a video clip of their presentation that I heard, go here.

I thought that Mark Gungor's "Laugh Your Way to A Better Marriage" series was my favorite resource, and it still is, but the Waffles and Spaghetti book, as I call it, has definitely come to the forefront of my recommended resources!

May 10, 2009

What we're looking for in a house

We are planning ahead to buy a house in Colorado Springs!  It's not the first house we will own, but the last house we owned was pre-military, and we thought we were going to live there a lot longer than 3 years!  Well, we didn't.  We sold it using the methods found in the book, "How to Sell Your Home in 5 Days" and made a profit from the sale.  It was a situation blessed by God in many ways, because we then went debt-free into my husband starting Seminary to complete his M.Div., which was required to become an Army chaplain.

Now it's 5 years later, and we're ready to own again.  We expect to re-sell the house in 3 years, or if it seems more prudent to do so, rent it.  The house will be an investment, so we plan to buy it with a 15-year mortgage to have more of our payments going to principal, which means it won't be the most we can afford, but rather more middle-of-the-road.

So what are we looking for in this house?  Here is our list of "must haves":

Good bones - good strong structure.
4+ bedrooms
1+ car garage
2+ full bathrooms, one must be a master bath
Washer/dryer hookups in a laundry room (no laundry closets please)
A house we are confident will sell in 3 years
Livable basement (our first house had a cellar-type basement)
25 minutes or less drive away from Ft. Carson
Back yard suitable for our children to play in
Plenty of storage space
Adequate kitchen (we both love to cook)
Low/no maintenance windows/siding (we don't want to have to paint siding, or maintain wood-frame windows)
Good roof
Good insulation and efficiency (to keep energy costs down)

And here is our list of "would be nices":

2 car garage
5+ bedrooms
15-20 minute or less commute
Central Air
3+ bathrooms
Level lot
Office space
Gas appliances and heat
Not a split-level
Not a busy corner lot
Efficient water usage fixtures
Garden space

One side-note - we aren't highly concerned about the school district because we plan to homeschool.  That is a huge freedom that many families with children don't have when deciding where to live.

We've put a lot of thought into this, and have searched for such houses online through several venues.  Craigslist, the MLS, For Sale By Owner sites, etc.  There are actually several houses on the market that fit all our criteria and are in our price range.  Too bad we can't just hop over and check them out now.  So we'll see how God works things out - what will be on the market when we actually arrive July 1st.  Meanwhile, it's fun to look, and fine-tune our preferences!

May 09, 2009

Our last month in Hawaii

We're enjoying a lovely day in Hawaii today.  We notice it because the last month or two have been wet, cold, cloudy or voggy.  Vog is the haze that comes from the volcano on the Big Island, and many of us have allergic reactions to it.  Without the breeze that usually comes with the tradewinds, the Vog had built up and hung stagnant over our islands for a few days.

One month from tomorrow, we'll be flying off this island to the mainland, as we move from this duty station to Ft. Carson, CO.  A lot of things are happening in the  meantime.  This Sunday and next will be my final times as chapel pianist.  We are having some friends over for on birthday for BBQ pork chops.  The two older girls are doing swimming lessons this week and next each afternoon.  They also continue in their gymnastics class throughout the month.  My husband will lead a portion of this weekend's marriage retreat for over 100 couples.  The following weekend, he'll lead the entirety of two back-to-back marriage retreats.  We have a couple of social events to attend - hail and farewells which are common in May and December when lots of people are coming and going; a couple of coffees which are for the wives; and some random other things with the spouse's club and the chapel.

The last week of May we'll start prepping our house for the move:
- unhang pictures and curtains
- sort things so that like things are together that I want to be packed together (and hopefully the movers will oblige)
- give away food and cleaners that we can't move with us
- Separate the "unaccompanied baggage" that gets shipped faster (things we want sooner, like linens, dishes, other necessities, as well as my husband's "professional gear" - the stuff he has in his office for work) from the "household goods" that come to us last, and includes everything else.
- Pack our suitcases that we'll take with us on the plane, and that will sustain us through 3 weeks of travel around the Midwest to see family and friends.

The unaccompanied baggage gets packed June 1st.  The household goods get packed June 3-5.  June 4-10 we stay at the hotel on post.  We have final inspection and check-out of our house June 8.  June 10 we fly to St. Louis.  The next morning we'll go to the VPC (Vehicle Processing Center) and pick up our car, which we shipped 3 days ago.

After that, we'll be driving figure 8's around IL, IN, OH, and WV to catch up with family and friends.  June 30 we leave for CO, and arrive there July 1st.

Once we arrive in CO, there will be a continued flurry of activity as:
- my husband reports to his duty station and begins inprocessing.
- we set up a P.O. box to have our mail forwarded to us
- we search for a house to buy in the area that fits our needs
- we find a church home, which may be the on-post chapel, or a civilian church in the area
- we explore our new surroundings, see what the area has to offer
- we order and gather together supplies for beginning homeschool for M's 2nd grade year
- we hopefully close on a house soon after (or if we're lucky, right before) our household goods arrive
- we settle into our new house
- my husband finds and purchases a used Honda S2000 (hopefully yellow) for our 2nd car

We're searching online for houses on the market and are finding several that fit our needs, and in the price range we want to pay.

Three months from now we should finally be settling down into a routine and a "normal" lifestyle.

I plan to start homeschool in August, with M in 2nd grade, and J in as much K material as she seems ready for.  A will just absorb and imitate whatever they're doing.  (Bonus learning!)  We've chosen to use Sonlight Curriculum for 2nd grade.  Their headquarters is in Littleton, CO, less than an hour's drive North of Colorado Springs.  For Kindergarten, I'll use the multiple resources I have lying around that I used with M already.

There is a good chance my husband will deploy mid 2010 to Afghanistan, so we are thinking ahead to that.  With the Army trying to make the necessary changes to retain soldiers and keep families healthy, they are moving toward 9 months as the longest deployment, and 24 months as the dwell time between deployments.  We're hoping that will be instituted before my husband's deployment begins.  Whereas we thought he would be going to a Cavalry unit, now it looks like he'll actually go to another Infantry unit.

So there is definitely a lot happening for us this summer, and we're excited about it.