29 October 2008

tour time!

First off, today is the reveal day for Daring Bakers and I'm not ready. Apologies, apologies, but don't worry. I'm not skipping this month, it's just delayed. With the unpacking and cleaning and registering with various governmental agencies and dealing with debris from the hurricane, the only time I could have made it was yesterday and Dug is traveling for work and it is his favorite food(it's pizza!!). So since he returns Thursday night, we'll have it for dinner on Friday and then you'll get a post on it soon after. Okay? I'm sure the magnanimous Powers-That-Be of the Daring Bakers will give me that one concession.


While I'm supposed to tell you the many interesting differences between Oregon and Texas, I've decided to just give you a little outside tour of my house instead. I'm not quite happy with my pictorial representation of the differing cultures yet. Soon.

You only get the outside because the inside isn't quite ready to be snapped yet. I won't wait until the decor is perfected (or even hanging on nails that weren't already there) but I do want to at least have the empty boxes dealt with first.

Enough said.

Here is the first view of the front of our house when you turn into our driveway. Isn't it huge?! This is what buying real estate in Texas is. Way under half-priced compared to Oregon's market. We purchased this for a manageable sum. The same house in Portland would be a million or more. (We didn't/couldn't pay anything close to that, believe me.) Please understand I'm not bragging at all. I'm astounded and am only just starting to begin to believe that we actually live here. I still can't believe how cheap houses are in this part of the country.

Looking at the picture above, see the little walkway that my kids are riding their bikes on? This next picture was taken on the right by those little bushes and facing the street. We loved this lot because it had some seriously easy yet nice-looking landscaping and also because it is wooded. It gives us a bit of privacy. You can just see the greyish-white road through the trees

If I continue along the walkway, I come to the garage/driveway side of the house. My very first garage that I can park in! It's so exciting. The windows are black because they have this sun-blocking screen on them. Apparently it helps keep the heat out in the summer. The driveway is nice because it's big enough to turn around in even if someone is parked in it. Our first HOA (Home Owners' Association) no-no is that we keep our garbage in sight from the road. Seriously, though, do they expect me to keep that stinky thing in my garage? I don't think so. They've got some massive cockroaches here. (Mej is my witness.) No way, no how is non-poisonous roach bait going to be inside any part of my house.

Continuing around the house, do you see the electrical boxes in the photo above? Well, there'a little walkway right next to them, leading to the back patio. If we followed it our first sight would be one of our two injured trees, bruised and battered by Hurricane Ike, our bottle-brush bush. It couldn't stand the 100+mph winds and bowed to their strength. Dug and I tried to tie it up to the tree but it was too heavy to get it straight. Our next step is to hook up a strap to the big ol' Dodge and force that baby up. We really want it to be happy. It's rather pretty in bloom.

This is the back of the house. We have a lovely patio that is strewn with pinecones and long pine needles and other such plant debris from Ike. With the moving and slight yard maintenance (with an acre lot we actually need a riding lawn mower) that we are capable of at this moment, sweeping the walks, driveway and patio is not up there on the priorities list.

When we first looked at this house in June, we noticed the outside fan and thought, "That is so awesome!" What we didn't notice was that if you look behind it (I've circled it in red.) there are outdoor speakers wired into the living room! How cool is that?! I called Dug (he was in Pennsylvania at the time) and let him know. Funny, isn't it? We didn't even know about it before we moved in.

These last two pictures are two of the plants in our backyard. They are beautiful and I'm so happy they are so well established. They are huge. I only know that one is an Elephant Ear (the bottom one I think) but I don't know what the other one is. Of all the plants in the yard, these two are by far my favorites.

And that's it. I'm not great at housing or landscape pictures, but it gives you an idea where we landed. Probably the best thing to do is come and visit us. Then you'll get a real "feel" for the place. *hint, hint*

21 October 2008

Brain-teaser/Quiz/Game Time!

Try this little quiz out. It's enough to make your eyes cross and give you vertigo, but it's fun and challenging.

You want to put the rows in order based on hue. The best score is a 0 and in my demographic, the worst score was over 1700. I scored a 7! Let me know if you beat me!!

20 October 2008

the road less traveled...well, twice traveled

I had already written a few paragraphs of our story of moving when I accidently closed the window and lost it all. (My mouse is in its charging dock and I'm trying to navigate my browser using only my keyboard. Lesson learned: Ctrl + N is New Window, not Ctrl + W. I could have Alt+F'd it to pick from the File list, but I was trying to be Super Smarty-Pants Memory Girl. They really shouldn't make those so easy to confuse.)

I really don't have the heart to rewrite it so here's the gist: Wanted to leave Friday morning, at the crack of dawn, for various side-splitting, very cleverly written reasons, we left Saturday evening, at the crack of dinner-time. End of gist.

Since Dug accrues massive Marriott points from his plentiful travel, we really only stay at the Marriott Brand of hotels. This, while very thrifty, is somewhat limiting. For example, our first night we had the choice of Medford, 4 hrs away or Sacramento, 9 hrs away. (We were taking the south on I-5/east on I-10 route again.) Nothing in the middle. Of course, since we didn't leave my brother's apartment (We were there after we left our house so Dug could shower and we could eat.) until sometime after 6pm, we decided that Medford would be an ample drive that evening. And it was.

Oh! I forgot one major, super-important detail. Dug was driving our blue diesel Beast, with our sweet Honda CBR in the back, pulling a little U Haul trailer. This left all four sweet, little angel children with me in the van. But don't worry, I wasn't alone. And no, I'm not talking about God being my co-pilot. I was being kept company BY MEJ!!!! Sweet, wonderful Mej worked out all the details for her five children to be taken care of for almost two weeks so that she could come on our little adventure! Wasn't that so cool?! Between the two of us we have nine children between the ages of two and nine. Both of us in a van with only four? Piece o'cake!

Sooooo.....First night, Medford. Second night's goal: Valencia, California. We slept well, seven of us in a double queen room. (Don't tell Marriott.) Well, everyone but Mej. She wasn't used to Dug's Darth Vader-like bi-pap machine (for his sleep apnea), but we picked up some Tylenol PM and the rest of the trip was a breeze. So we drove all day and many hours later, around the stroke of midnight, we arrived in Valencia. We were hoping for a good night's sleep, but that wasn't to be. The front desk told us that if we didn't leave by 6am, LA traffic is so bad that we might as well sleep in to 11am. Dang it!

Five and a half hours later, our cell phone alarms woke us up and we dragged our seven butts into our vehicles. And let me tell you, we didn't have to worry about needing coffee. At 6am, LA traffic is frightening. Absolutely life-threatening. I have never been so white-knuckled driving before. Wasn't sleepy at all. It was worse for poor Mej since she was the passenger and could merely watch. And Dug navigating lane changes with a trailer? I don't even want to think about how he did it. Somehow we survived and made it to Palm Springs for some Starbucks and Jamba Juice. The rest of the day's scenery was this: desert, desert, desert, desert, desert, desert, double queen room at Marriott. Well, there were some very big windmills, too.

When you're driving long distances there's a point you get to towards the end where you think you are going to go crazy if you spend another minute in the car. You don't know how you can possibly make it another fifteen minutes, let alone three hours. With the lack of sleep from the previous night, we hit that wall right about dinner time, when we still had about 5-6 hours left in the drive. We stopped for some Chipotle mexican food and the act of walking with the added benefit of decent nourishment gave us just the boost we needed. Thank goodness, because we were in some major need of sleep by that point.

I need to make note of a couple things. I need to give Mej the credit she deserves. While I usually drove until lunch-ish time, Mej drove the rest of the day, which is by far the majority of the driving. Luckily, while I prefer passengering, she is much happier in the driver's seat. And let's not forget Dug. The whole time he was driving the loud, rumbling diesel truck sans air conditioning and stereo, with the added stress of pulling a trailer. He was not only driving the entire way by himself, but he was almost constantly on the phone since he could not have a web presence for four days. And while he was on the phone, he had to have the windows rolled up since the wind was too loud for his cell. No air-conditioning + windows rolled up + driving through CA and AZ deserts = very hot Dug. Poor guy. We may have had the kids, but we also had a GPS/nav system/laser cruise control/Bob Marley on a kick-butt stereo/Nintendo 64/DVD AND zone-controlled a/c. I made sure not to complain.

It took us four days this time. Well, really three and 1/4. But it was fun. Mej and I got to talk about all sorts of girly things while the kids were headphoned into their movies.

We arrived in Houston Tuesday night. We didn't have power, the water was undrinkable, power lines lying across the roads (all the above, thanks to Hurricane Ike) and Dug had to leave at 6am the next morning to grab the next flight to Pennsylvania and save his project. This all sounds bad, except Dug's best friend lives in our neighborhood and his family welcomed us in with their filtered water, their generator and their fridge full of food.

next...Texas through the eyes of an Oregonian.

15 October 2008

How to get comments for your posts: Do what comedians do for instant applause and announce your bday/anniversary/big event.

Okay. So I was supposed to post some pictures on here. And I found a few free moments. Here's the deal though: Dug took off to Pennsylvania and came home. I downloaded (finally!) all the photos from my camera (713 of them!) onto the computer. Our new friends (and only ones within 45 minutes of us) went on vacation. Dug took off to Pennsylvania, again. I decided to take this time of isolation and abandonment and, instead of going to church by myself and getting to know my community and neighbors better, I grabbed my kids and ran away to San Antonio. My parents live there now. I know. Cowardly. But there it is.

Unfortunately, all those great new photos are in Houston and I'm in San Antonio with an empty SD card in my camera. That's why there are no photos today. My youngest son turned four and I could post a few pics, but I'll save those for Shnozberry and just make this a big "excuses" post instead.

I know, just what you wanted to read. Dug says, "Excuses are like holes in peoples' butts. Everyone has one and they all stink." Lovely, isn't it? You have to admit that it's pretty descriptive, though. And true.

So I guess to redeem this post, I'll make it informative rather than excusative. (Is that even a word? I don't think so, but I like it.) Some news: I'm 15 weeks pregnant with my fifth child, we didn't plan it and it's a surprise, but we're happy. We like the name Emma, but we won't know the sex until April.

How's that for post redemption?

09 October 2008

some semblance of normality

After having no power the first week of our Texas adventure (thank you Hurricane Ike!) and then only getting a fridge five days ago (soooo sick of any sort of restaurant) and just getting internet today (I've been dying!) it's been eventful to say the least.

Good news: Our delayed arrival of two days helped since by the time we got here, fuel was back to normal, as opposed to super expensive, super long waits. (up to two hours at one point!) And we actually bought gas for $2.98/gallon the other day! Can you believe it?! And our house is super-freakin' awesome. And the weather is a lovely 80 degrees and sunny... in October!

Bad news: Dug has been working on the East coast practically the entire time. We arrived at 10pm or so Tuesday night and he had to catch of plane at 6 am the next morning. Of the fifteen days we've been here, Dug has enjoyed three days with his family, only two of which were actual non-working days. The lovely folks in Philly and Boston have seen their share though. (Repeat to self: It's only a season...It's only a season...) After he comes home this weekend, he's off for one more week with those Philadelphians and then back to Oregon to make last touches on our rental and then finally...as far as I know at this moment, he's back home for an extended stay. And four words: cockroaches and fire ants! 'Nuff said. (sorry about the whining there.)

I have some more big news to share but it's late and I'm exhausted and I'm going to bed. I had so much internet-y stuff to do today: online banking, etc. and i only spent a few hours on vital necessities. Even though I wanted to soak up all the info I've been dying to find out, I fed my kids some home-cooked enchiladas and continued the unpacking process.(it never ends, does it?) Aren't you proud of me?

Pictures will be a part of this blog again as soon as I can find some free moments. They're sorta hard to come by. Have any you can loan me?