Friday, December 13, 2013

Our arrival

We are now in Kansas!! I am now at my new job!!! Layla is in daycare!!! And the Studly Hubby is... looking for a job. But, he will find one, because he is pretty studly (he has already turned down one offer).

My report, so far:

1. Hot diggidy, it is friggin' COLD back here in the midwest
2. I am so BUSY!!!
3. Montessori (Layla's new school) seems to be a good thing, we think.
4. How did I get so BUSY??
5. It is soooooo nice that Derek did not have to start a new job right away
6. Our new house is still pretty empty - we have had no time to buy furniture
7. Dang, it is COLD!
8. It is fancy to be a professor. I actually wore my suit the other day, just as a regular thing (gave a talk for another department in Kansas City). I have an OFFICE, and bought a NEW COMPUTER and HIRED SOMEONE. Wow.
9. It was kind of extra cold that day I wore my suit.
10. Making lists is much quicker than writing whole paragraphs.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The pros and cons of Midwestern life

After being in Seattle for seven years, the Studly Hubby and I had really acclimated to the Pacific Northwest lifestyle. Moving back to the Midwest has provided a little culture shock - even though it's all still strangely familiar. I've realized I have missed a lot and also will miss a lot now that I'm back.

What I love about the midwest:

1. It smells good here. Did you ever notice this? It smells crisp, maybe it's the dry air?
2. Everyone is soooooo, so, so nice. And not sort of nice, or nice for the first five minutes you meet them, but sincerely nice. This trait in me gave me away as a midwesterner in Seattle, and I really missed it in my interactions with people around me.
3. Prime time starts at 7. I can't stay up past 9, so this is perfect for me.
4. It is CHEAP here. Seriously, gas is $2.95!! What in the heck?
5. The FOOD - like pizza, awesome ice cream, Mexican, cheap Chinese... it is everywhere here, and nowhere over there.
6. Small town/big city. Small midwestern towns (e.g. Iowa City, Madison, Champaigne-Urbana, Lawrence) are famous for being metropolitan, with amazing libraries, restaurants, a progressive culture (our recycling gets picked up more HERE than in Seattle!!!), and advanced art scene. Maybe it's the University influence? Or maybe it's the midwest!!

What I miss about the Pacific Northwest:

1. The FOOD - it took me a while to figure out what food is good in the PNW, but I finally did - it's 'PNW' food: fish, organically grown garden veggies and fruits, with good wine. SO YUM.
2. Prime time starts at 8. Now that I have a kid, and she goes to bed right at 8, it's actually kind of nice - and I never watch much anyway so who cares that I have to go to bed by 9.
3. Mass transit. The Seattle bus system alone has hundreds of routes, and there is also a lightrail, a trolley, a train, and another bus system that the county runs. Our tiny midwest town has one bus, 9 routes, and no other options. It sucks!
4. Water and mountains and old forests EVERYWHERE... ooooohhh myyyyy (as George Takai would say). Every view is amazing.
5. Fresh berries, awesome fruit, green veggies, blooming flowers, all over the city, all year round.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Moving to Kansas, Part II: GET SET! (with a brief story about the Crazy Lady in Fremont)

The movers came on Halloween, and the Studly Hubby helped them pack while Layla and I had our last day at daycare and work, respectively. The next day, Layla and I boogeyed down while the Studly Hubby and the movers finished packing and loaded up the van.

The 'mancave' full of boxes - this is where we stored the already-packed boxes before the movers came
A brief story about the Crazy Lady in Fremont
The day that the Studly Hubby packed and moved all our stuff, Layla and I were trying to have some fun in the next neighborhood over (Fremont) where we were staying with some good friends. We went with them to a coffee shop a few blocks away, and then they took a bus to a playdate while we walked back together to get our car and go on our own way. Unfortunately, Layla (understandably) had said good-bye to too many friends at that point and even though that particular friend was meeting up with us again later that evening, she still unraveled into a great big epic tantrum.
       Some of you already know that when Layla throws a fit, it's quite the event, so you might not be surprised to hear that we attracted some attention. Several folks in our path stopped to lend their sympathy, and one lady in particular stopped to try to 'help.' After a few minutes I realized her version of helping (by trying to engage with our totally unresponsive fit-thrower) wasn't very helpful, and we tried to move on. At that point the lady grabbed Layla to give her a stern talking-to, and that's when I realized the lady must be a bit crazy and we should focus quite hard on moving on - which required picking Layla up and carrying her down the street, even though she was screaming, kicking, scratching, and carrying on. The lady followed us, yelling weird stuff at us (again, trying to be 'helpful' but really not). I stopped at least 3 times to tell her to lay off, more and more aggressively, until somehow I found our friend's house and went inside. The lady wandered away before the Studly Hubby could get there. He pointed out we probably could have called 911 and reported an assault but I wasn't sure if it was that big of a threat since the lady was probably in her 70s. Afterwards, Layla finally understood what had happened and perhaps it was a good lesson to her to pay more attention to her mom than to her own fit-throwing when there's a danger alert (ever since, we have been working on a family protocol to follow when Mom or Dad says 'danger'). Anyways, I was a bit shaken by it all and definitely sore the next day.

Back to the Kansas move:
On Saturday, I took care of Layla again while the Studly Hubby and a friend cleaned up the house, repaired a few problems, shampooed the rugs, disposed of all our garbage (how do you generate SO MUCH garbage when you move???), and did a walk-through with the landlord. It was a very long day. In the process, we managed to spill a couple liters of laundry detergent in our friend's car (sorry about that!), trash their house with all our garbage, overflow their washer with said laundry detergent (sorry about that too!) and then we left town (see Hawaii post, below).

Moving to Kansas, Part I: GETTING READY

I posted earlier about our trip to Kansas to buy a house, followed by a flurry of other trips and business. When that was all over, and we landed back in Seattle, we realized something: it's time to GET READY.

We had a bunch of logistical stuff to do, like find and hire a moving company, decide to drive or fly and then arrange it, close on the house (which we did in Seattle), etc., etc. Then, we both had a bunch of work-related stuff to do - for me, that was organizing all my strains and stocks and files to be shipped to Kansas, transferring my grants and writing a few new ones and hiring a post-doc, not to mention all the normal stuff I had to do related to the job I still had in Seattle.

But what was really, really tough was saying goodbye to all our friends.

It started with a surprise visit from our most favorite neighbor L who gave us the sweetest note and bottle of wine. The note made me cry. Then our beloved baby group threw us a totally unexpected SURPRISE party - we unknowingly walked in on the whole group wearing matching t-shirts and bearing gifts and giving out hugs and passing around margaritas. It was possibly the first time we had ever ALL been together without kids. I cried and cried and cried. Then we had goodbye parties with other friends, each of our work groups, another neighbor party, more baby group parties, even people we didn't even know at the daycare were inviting us over. It was incredible. And a very welcome distraction from the stress of moving. Although, a little bit busy. In the end it got too busy and we had to cancel on one of the things we had planned. But we had a nice good-bye with most everybody and hopefully soaked up enough social interactions to last us until we could make some new friends in Kansas.

Our baby group surprise party - all 16 of us!
Layla's last day of daycare and my last day of work was Halloween. That was also the day the movers came to take our stuff. It was perfect timing - although Layla knew what was happening, she was too excited about Halloween to get down about it (or maybe, she's just happy like that - she's been a good sport overall). She cheerfully said good-bye to everyone at school, had a blast trick-or-treating in her WordGirl (superhero) outfit, and then we went to a friend's to spend a few days until we flew out to Hawaii.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hawaii trip!!

While our stuff was being transported from Seattle to Kansas, we went to Hawaii!!

We decided to go to Oahu, and stayed in a little 1-bdr cottage in a beach town called Kailua (about 30 min from Honolulu). We rented the cottage from, and had a great experience with them.

Our house in Kailua, the "Lilikoi Cottage"
The cottage was 2 blocks from the Kailua beach and about a mile from the Lanikai beach, one of the best beaches in the world.

Kailua beach

Lanikai beach, right next to Kailua beach
We were stressed from just having moved out of our house of four years and bidding tearful good-byes to all of our great friends in Seattle. It was a long flight with our ornery kid. It was the perfect place to land.

The first morning (Monday), we were all up at 4 am (only bad part about Hawaii - jetlag is a beast!). When the sun rose at 6 am we piled into the car and went to the beach. We were so excited we jumped in with our clothes on!

Kailua beach at sunrise

Layla and I, buried in sand
The next day, we went to Waikiki in Honolulu to ride on the submarine. It was pretty fun (we saw a sunken boat, and lots and lots of fish). It was slightly long and boring for a 3-yr old, and Layla had a hard time coping with being stuck there. But she was good enough that we could really enjoy it - I wouldn't have taken her any younger though.

We spent the rest of the trip visiting other beaches in Hawaii, including the North Shore (and delicious shaved ice at Matsumoto's) and Haunauma Bay (the Studly Hubby and I snorkeled while Layla watched or played in the sand, we all really enjoyed it there). We also visited the Farmer's Market in Kailua where we bought coconut and pineapple, and had the most delicious Lilikoi ice cream we have ever had (Lilikoi is the Hawaiian word for passionfruit).

Layla standing near the largest avacado I have ever seen, from Kauai

Layla having some of the most delicious Lilikoi ice cream

Layla and I at Lanikai beach
I was sad to leave on Thursday. We had a loooooong flight back to Kansas with an overnight in LA, and although the weather was nice in Kansas it was not like Hawaii. I hope we can go back someday.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Our fabulous new house in Kansas

We bought a house!!

It's a lovely 2-story, recently built (2006) suburban home on a cul-de-sack only blocks from a great elementary (and close to our new daycare!) and near a great ~5K 'urban trail' and bike route. We are about 5 miles from campus (only about 15 minute drive) and less than a mile from Hy-Vee (Hy-Vee! I have so missed you!). We have four bedrooms, and a fully finished basement and HUGE yard (seriously, you can hardly see the fence - I have no idea how we're going to mow it). It is a little bit bigger than our current 2-bdr, 800 sq-ft craftsman rental in Seattle.

My husband is staying on with his current employer and working remotely, so he will be claiming some space for a 'home office.' We have no idea what to do with the rest of it. Probably, we'll be so overwhelmed by all the extra space we'll all end up together in the smallest bedroom with everything else we own taking up about half of the next-smallest bedroom. Hopefully, we can decide on some furniture to buy or fill up the space with bouncy balls or something.

We also plan to make or buy a Little Free Library to put in the front yard. Won't that look lovely?

Fall is here!!

I saw a book on blogging at the library today and remembered my blog - boy it's been a while!!

After a totally fabulous summer, we were almost relieved that fall was here. Almost.

The end of summer was particularly busy: we went to Kansas to get ready for our upcoming move (and buy a house!). The next weekend, we went on a group camping trip by Mount Rainier, which was beautiful and very, very fun. I didn't quite make it through the weekend without showering but the Studly Hubby did (and was not very studly at the end). The weekend after that we went back to our favorite vacation destination, Lake Chelan, for a too-short weekend of awesomeness. We were only there two nights but actually left earlier than planned because we were all so totally worn out. In between all that BOTH grandmas made trips out to visit.

Fall has brought some rest, earlier bedtimes for all of us, a cleaner house (we are really clearing out now - and even packing!), and now we are in the final stretch - less than a month left - getting extra busy getting in final visits with all our great friends, planning the move, booking a fabulous trip to Hawaii during the week we'll be homeless (yay!!) and even throwing a few parties. Fortunately we've only been mildly sick while everyone around us is flattened by some horrible Seattle Daycare Germ and the weather has continued to work in our favor - beautiful long enough for a garage sale and some park time but rainy when we need to get serious and do some packing and cleaning.

And through it all we are doing as much visiting as we can with all our great Seattle friends and all the fun stuff we enjoy before we leave. We are sure going to miss Seattle!

Monday, July 08, 2013

Photo Books

One of my Summer Goals is to make another awesome photo book for Layla. For my last one I used Creative Memories software, which was totally rad. But, the company is going bankrupt so I'm looking for a new one. I just found this GREAT site that compares different companies and tracks printing deals and even has a bunch of tutorials and tips. On there I found out there are like 800 different companies that do this and probably a million hard-core digital scrapbooking fans (some that use a different company for every book depending on which one has the deal). I think if you aren't trying to be complicated you can put together a book in less than 2 hours but I can't imagine being that fast, like ever (it took me over a month to put together my last one, and I was working really hard).

After doing some online research, I went with Blurb, which isn't quite as cool as Creative Memories but about half the price.

Also while we're talking about photos check out these amazing photo cubes from Shutterfly:

Update: I found a more professional review of digital scrapbooking companies here.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Wallingford Kiddie Parade

Every year, our neighborhood has a parade and festival and a lot of businesses in the community get to march in the parade. Our daycare usually marches, and we had planned to go march with them. How exciting! Except, when we got to the start we couldn't find our group! We looked EVERYWHERE (we found out later they were one of the last to go, so they went to the playground while they waited to to entertain all the kids). So, we joined up with a local business, Family Works, where someone we know is employed. We have NO IDEA what Family Works even is, but they got a lot of cheers as we marched with them. They also gave us some awesome butterfly wings to wear (sorry I didn't get a picture)!!

About halfway through the parade, Layla's shoes became uncomfortable. We pulled aside and fixed her shoe while our "Family Works" group kept on going. I convinced Layla to hang out for a bit and watch (hoping maybe we'd find our daycare group). We had a lot of fun - we saw clowns, got some candy, heard a marching band and saw a dance troupe.

Then, a group from Layla's gymnastics place (The Little Gym) marched past. They all had super-cute matching purple T-shirts and a banner. We didn't recognize anybody, but Layla wanted to join them anyway (she LOVES her gymnastics class!).

So as they passed us, we ventured back into the parade and walked with them. We got a few startled looks from members of the group but nobody said anything. We were the only ones in the group without the matching purple T-shirts, and we didn't know anybody! (Although, I found out later there was someone there from her class).

We finally got to the end, where there were bouncy houses, food venders, lots and lots and LOTS of people, and more music!! We found our daycare friends (finally!) and had a blast until everyone was sunburnt and exhausted.

Some garden posts

There is a hippie gym down the street from us, called "Om Culture." The place is really fun and Layla and I go whenever we get a chance. In front of the building is a wild area that sometimes looks like a garden. Just this week some signs went up that indicate it is indeed meant to be a garden.

This last one explains the part that looks the least like a garden - it's a mess of different stuff on purpose!! I never thought of that. Maybe next time I don't get a chance to weed I can say "it's for the bees..."