Sunday, October 5, 2014
But we managed.
Currently the place is pretty bare. We have our fairly complete camping kit and quite a lot of stuff borrowed from the property manager. She's lent us dishes, towels, an air mattress, bedding, a small table and two chairs suitable for tiny children. Like ours.
The day is sunny and glorious.
It feels extremely weird to be pulling stuff out of the minivan for the last time. Not literally the last time of course, but in a very significant way the last time. We have stopped. The journey is over. We might move again, who knows. The world is large and life is long. That will be, if it should be, a new journey.
This one has reached its end, and we are well pleased.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Friday, October 3, 2014
We go to sign a lease today for the house we saw first. The one with the two fruit trees and the raspberry bushes. The final house we saw--in the Columbia neighborhood where we think is where we might want to end up even though The Lettered Streets looks mighty awesome so far--was horrendous. Struck us very much as student housing. We hope to move in this weekend and then spend a couple weeks literally camping inside the house while we wait for our stuff to be delivered.
Yesterday afternoon, after a fairly abortive morning (thank you children), we all 4 went into town. Alice and I checked out Half Pint children's consignment (1 of at least 3 in the town, including one within easy walking distance of our new home) and then walked to Haggen's, the awesome, slightly spendy local grocery store chain, to buy some wine for dinner. Molitor and Beatrice went for a walk and ended up downtown, which they loved. Art supply stores, restaurants, bike shops, green spaces, used book stores. This place is like Disney World for us.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
This is the other one we've looked at: http://bellingham.craigslist.org/apa/4661929194.html Looks better on paper. Some of its advantages are: 2-car garage (read: storage) and in better (perhaps just more modern) repair.
But we still much prefer the first one, as it has a central area for dining, which would be the physical and behavioral center of the house, hardwood floors throughout, a small but enclosed backyard that the kitchen looks out on and with 2 fruit trees, a very sweet neighbor cat who let Beatrice poke at it for a while, twice-yearly-bearing raspberry bushes in the side yard, and two quite large bedrooms. The third BR is technically not, as it doesn't have a closet, but we hope to task our 3rd BR, wherever it ends up being, as an office/guest room anyways. The owner was busily repairing/updating/fixing everything as we toured: new paint, floors are new, brand new landscaping, etc. Evidently the last series of tenants left it sort of trashed. Downsides: no storage (which I would take as a personal challenge to continue our downsizing bonanza that we started while packing up in Norfolk), only 1 BA, a picturesque but unusable wood-burning stove in the living room that is going to be a constant danger for our kids unless we figure out a way to tastefully surround it with a soft deterrent.
We still think we'd like to end up in the Columbia neighborhood, and this is in The Lettered Streets neighborhood (it's on B street), and the place we're going to look at tonight is in Columbia, but The Lettered Streets look preeeeetty nice so far. Columbia is the neighborhood recommended for "families with young children" and that's where the elementary school is. It'd sure be nice to be able to walk the kids to elementary school. On the other hand, the parts of Bellingham we're interested in are so compact that literally nothing is more than 2 miles away. An easy bike ride at the worst.
In any case, we hope to have made a decision by tomorrow and have the owners say yes and get our stuff on its way from Whereversville, VA!
(Note from Mommy: If you can zoom in on the photo,l you'll see they're magenta with tiny lavender polka dots on top of the toes, with a velcro-attached strap across the top, with tassles just like traditional loafers. I am in love! Beatrice is definitely having an adjustment period, especially as I bought them for 18-24 months so they're just a tad big (she's 14 1/2 months now, but has her momma's feet, I'm pretty sure), but I want to get a lot of wear out of these things). A few weeks ago we bought her sock-shoes at Walmart so she'd have something to protect her feet because she had refused to crawl anymore by then. But she really didn't like them and could easily pull them off. The weather is too cold and she walks too much outside to continue barefoot.)
Monday, September 29, 2014
I sometimes feel it is remote, but I am reassured that it's connected in several ways to both Seattle and Vancouver. We have checked out the airporter shuttle from SeaTac to Bellingham and it seems convenient and reasonably cheap (so all you loved ones who want to come visit, please don't despair! It's not like a trek into deepest Alaska.). I also checked out bus and Amtrak access to Seattle for weekend jaunts, and it is abundant. And I know access to Vancouver is quick and easy (customs permitting).
So now the hunt is on, probably for a rental for the next year or so (make sure I can survive the winter rains before buying!) and then buy a house of our own. I am finally ready to settle. Get a house, a dog...the whole catastrophe!
Large wooden cutting board
1 large pot (probably a cast iron dutch oven, which would be nice for oven work too)
1 medium pot
1 frying pan (all pots and pans made of stainless steel or cast iron)
1 large bowl and 1 small bowl (probably metal)
Some coffee making device, a cone would suffice
Some utensils: tongs, big spoon, spatula, whisk
We were profoundly tired on arrival, but the lake looks beautiful based on our glances. The house is also quite lovely, although to a slight degree a work in progress. The owner appears to be a Restoration Hardware fan based on the decoration and the catalogs lying around.
We'll be resting up today, looking for rental properties on the internet and maybe even making some phone calls. We don't intend to budge from here today, though.
Beatrice was allowed to holler quite a lot last night. In hotels we spoil her to avoid keeping the neighbors up all night. So she is now spoiled. Now we need to un-spoil her so she and we can get back to sleeping decently. This is pretty hard on a little kid. It does not help that she is super busy in a new space, checking everything out three times, like a dog. She was not done when it was bedtime, and had been too busy to really eat well. We did feed her up before sleep, but she probably would have eaten more had she been less busy.
So, possibly a little hungry. Definitely interested in pacing the place over and over and exploring and moving things around for another eight hours. But trapped. Trapped in hated crib. Poor baby.
She's catching up on sleep this morning. Big time.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
We leave Portland today. We spent all day yesterday here, which really amounted to about 2 hours of neighborhood investigation because we had lunch with an old friend of ours and we barely made it there in time for the 1130 rendezvous thanks to our children.
Molitor and I have both known Brian for about 10 years, having worked with him at nCircle. He underwent a pretty awesome transformation about 5 years ago, from a pallid software-is-my-life type to a hiking, sailing, outdoorsy, interested-in-life, slightly-less-pallid vegan who moved to Portland from the Bay Area. We dined at Laughing Planet, which made me So Happy. Organic! Tofu! Kale! Definitely back in the PNW.
We investigated the Woodstock neighborhood more at dinner time. (Thai food. Oh thank you lord. Back on the west coast...) It's supposed to be a family neighborhood. It has a nice retail strip and fairly dense housing and Reed College is Right There. In my opinion, if we were to ignore the people aspect of choosing a place to live, Portland might win over Bellingham. But then we'd miss out on Suzanne and Dan and Aunt Bef and grandparents. And that is Very Important.
In other news, Beatrice's sleep habits have deteriorated to Complete Crap so we are sooooo looking forward to checking into our 2BR (read: you can just cry it out at midnight, B. And 3am. And 5am.) airbnb cottage on Lake Whatcom tonight for 6 nights. During which time we hope to figure out what to do next.
Bellingham is closer to my family, and we know people who will be living there shortly. I personally find the intensely urban aspect of a larger city less and less palatable. Portland is great but I know I'd find myself driving on a loaded highway more often than I'd like. Uncharitable though it is to be concerned with this, there are more damaged people in a big city.
I don't want to raise my daughters in an isolation chamber filled with puppies, but I do want some middle ground between a perfect affluent suburb far from sin, and the gritty realities of downtown. Portland doesn't feel quite like that.
Bellingham it is. We think. Time to head north, start looking for a home, and to ponder. Portland is still in our minds, but Bellingham feels more like home right now.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
As Alice and I were walking down from the viewing bridge at Multnomah Falls yesterday, she told me a spooooky tale.
Alice: #eldritch voice# According to legend... Now Mom, this might not make you happy, but every 2 years...
Me: What happened every two years, Alice?
Alice: #eldritch voice again# well, every 2 or 3 years...
Me: What happened every 2 or 3 years, Alice?
Alice: I need a few minutes to think about it.
Then later when we were in the bathroom together:
Me: whew! My bladder has been telling me for a while that I needed to pee.
Alice: mine, too!
Me: do you think they speak the same language, our 2 bladders?
Alice: well they ARE both american.
Oddly enough my sister is in town for a wedding but in all probability we will miss one another. She's busy with the wedding and we're wildly constrained by nap schedules and wanting to look at Portland.
We drove the Columbia Gorge to get here, a route I recall from my youth when my family moved from Alberta to Oregon. It's beautiful. Wild, dry, austere at one end; wild, lush, beautiful at the other. We stopped off to see Multnomah Falls, which was fantastic and just as I remembered it. To be fair I do not recall espresso, fudge, or ice cream available at the base, but if these are indeed new, they are welcome additions.
Friday, September 26, 2014
The sunsets and sunrises are lovely. The city is down in a green valley that cuts across a dry wasteland. The usual sort of thing in eastern Washington and Oregon. The hotel is up on the wasteland part, so the view out the window is a genuine vista. I'm very glad not to be trying to walk across it but it's pretty nice to look at.
Today we drive to Portland. Gresham, to be exact, a suburb with inexpensive hotels. Tomorrow, investigations of Portland.
The children are sleeping pretty badly lately, so we're looking forward to wrapping this thing up in a couple more days. We hope!
Thursday, September 25, 2014
To entertain her while we waited for food I put her blanket over my head and said 'Where's daddy? Where's daddy?' As one does.
Beatrice was holding one of those little bundles of flatware and a napkin they do up in some restaurants and brained me with it, to everyone's delight except mine.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
The best thing about this BW, as usual, is the pool. It's outdoors (and the daytime temperatures are in the 90s) and very pretty as these things go. It has a big waterfall, a sloping entrance, steps, etc. We are supposedly going to go in again tomorrow morning before leaving, to keep Alice satisfied.
We blasted through Salt Lake City without stopping, though Molitor pointed out the Mormon cathedral in the distance. He'd visited here 20 years ago and found the whole place just horrid, especially the lake, and had no interest in touring anything. I am pretty laser-focused on finishing this trip, so a lack of sightseeing is fine with me.
Right now Daddy and the girls are downstairs having the free breakfast, giving me time to blog and perhaps even do 5 minutes of stretching (I daren't call it yoga :) .
1) Locals like to eat at Panera <or insert other chain restaurant>. I have gotten several recommendations along this trip from locals regarding where to eat, and it's frequently a chain.
2) We have different (snootier?) food tastes than most people. In Norfolk, we stopped taking people's restaurant recommendations within the first year because we disliked all of the ones we'd tried so far.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Mom told B 'go get the blue bowl' pointing at a blue bowl in a welter of other objects halfway across the room. Damned if B did not toddle across the room, pick up the blue bowl, and bring it back.
To be fair, maybe mommy points well. Also, Alice was eating out of an identical bowl, which was probably a tip as well.
Monday, September 22, 2014
We had some good BBQ for lunch in Frisco, CO and Alice had her first slurpee ever.
All is well. We're still really really far from Portland, OR, which we have in mind as a next stop before - probably - proceeding onwards to Bellingham.
But this morning we head out. The plan is to head west via I-70. Evidently it's quite scenic, but we will probably just see it at 70 mph as opposed to stopping anywhere notable. We really just want to get back to our new hometown (probably Bellingham, though we'll be stopping in Portland, OR and seeing how that suits) and get ourselves settled.
We're on tap for sending Alice back out to the Maley household in a few years so she can have a ball (again) with the Maley family, especially Sophia, whom she was attached to this entire visit. This was a compromise because Christine wanted us to just leave Alice here. And thankfully, Sophia seemed to like her just as much. When I told Alice last night that "I'm glad you and Sophia got to be such good friends," Alice corrected me, "such good sisters." It didn't make me cry because I'm a hard-hearted wench, but when I told Christine, she teared up. Sophia desperately wanted Alice to sleep with her last night, and Alice said Yes in the evening, but when push came to shove, Alice said No, which evidently crushed Sophia, poor thing.
Christine never says "good-bye," she says "see you for lunch." So, see you for lunch, Penfield/Maleys!
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Molitor and I have tried to do as little as possible while here, to recover mentally and physically, and have done a pretty good job. There's been a lot of grocery shopping and cooking and socializing with Christine's family and, surprise, child care. And of course the fact that they love Alice and Beatrice and are vocal about it...that doesn't hurt. Sophia has been clamoring to have Alice sleep with her, but Alice is Very Clear about not wanting to sleep in a room with anyone but Mommy and Daddy.
We had thought about Denver as a possible place to live, but after driving through commute traffic and seeing all the cookie-cutter neighborhoods along Route 25 and it's so damn DRY here...well, we decided this isn't the place for us. Though the draw of my awesome family here is strong...
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
I was tickled pink the other day, though, when I was trying to use the restroom and Beatrice of course had to come visit me and I really wanted some Damn Privacy, so I suggested she "go find your blanket! Blanket, Beatrice! Where's your blanket?" Darned if she didn't toddle off and bring back her blanket!
Monday, September 15, 2014
There are two levels of interior rooms looking out on the atrium, and one level of exterior rooms looking out on the parking lot, facing away from the atrium, and at a height halfway between the two interior levels. It's a very peculiar bit of architecture.
I think this place might be more of a conference center?
Anyways. Glass wall. What?!! There are drapes but with children drapes are a bit futile until you immobilize the children. So there's a sense of no privacy at all.
No microwaves in the room. They do have one you can use, though. In a storage closet that contains among other things:
- Boxes of pamphlets for, no doubt, some pamphlet rack someplace
- A Kodak slide carousel
- A pile of credit card imprint machines
- A dot-matrix printer
- An active phone switch, no doubt running the phone system
One day out from Denver, in theory.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
We just did one short leg of the road inside the park, west entrance to old faithful and back. One stop at old faithful for lunch and to watch the geyser go off. Bison meatloaf. Alice enjoyed the geyser. Beatrice found some gravel to play with. Peak experiences for both kids basically.
One stop at the Midway geyser basin where the grand prismatic spring is.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Butte has a 90 foot statue of the Virgin Mary way way way up on a ridgeline over the city. It was built and erected by volunteers. Volunteers who, among other things, blasted a road up the mountain. Another volunteer donated engineering, as the statue is evidently in a pretty exciting spot in terms of wind. Only in a mining town. Most places, volunteers serve soup or on a good day apply paint.
Now we are in Wyoming, about 15 miles west of the west entrance to Yellowstone. Tomorrow, we tour some Geothermal Wonders.
Friday, September 12, 2014
Tomorrow, (West) Yellowstone!
Thursday, September 11, 2014
6am. B wakes up to nurse. She may have been awake for a while or not. She's allowed out of her crib at six. Occasionally she goes back to sleep until 7 or even later. Mostly not.
6:30am. Take B out of the lodgings. Walk around, or get breakfast, visit a coffee shop. Mostly, free hotel breakfast and wander the hotel for an hour or so. Let Alice and the other parent get some more sleep. [Molitor is being kind. It's almost always he who gets up with B.]
7:30ish. Return to lodging, wake other parent. Alice gets up about now. Maybe as late as 8.
Entertain kids and get the un-fed fed. Maybe get some packing up done if it's a travel day.
8:30-9:00ish. B down for morning nap. Do something with Alice. Swimming? Walks? Spinning, plying, weaving, if we happen to be staying with Aunt Beth. Until B wakes an hour or two later.
10:00-10:30ish. B wakes. Either pack up and leave if it's a travel day, or go do stuff if it's a non-travel day.
12:30-1:00ish. Stop for lunch which will take about an hour.
B will nap again around 2:30, in the car if we're traveling, otherwise we need to be back in lodgings for the next hour or two.
4:30pm. Arrive at hotel on travel days. B awake about now either way. Entertain kids, relax, etc, until it's time to get dinner. Maybe an hour.
The attentive reader will have noticed that it's pretty much hustling all day to this point.
5:30 start dinner, feed children.
6:30 start getting kids to bed. B will finally give up and pass out about 7:00 or 7:30 after a diaper change, into jammies, some more playing, some angry screaming on the subject of definitely not sleeping, settle Alice down enough to get B settled down, etc, etc.
Alice will go down about an hour later after some wind down time and some tooth brushing, reading, peeing, and maybe a story.
Then the parents go to bed, if they're smart, around 9.
It's a busy schedule of which far too much time is spent tip-toeing around and shushing Alice so that B doesn't wake up.
We can push on, driving around four hours a day, OR we can look around a town, or be slightly harried tourists, or similar, for about the same for hours, perhaps a bit more.
Nights are variable and often not very restful on account of belly-aching children who need to be bullied back to sleep.
We're getting a little tired of it all.
Getting lodging inside Yellowstone Park was, of course, an unrealistic expectation (not that I didn't try), so we will be staying at the World's Most Expensive Super 8 in West Yellowstone, MT for 2 days. Hopefully, we'll be able to get a couple highlights of the park in on our 1 full day there. Though being terrified of having Beatrice around giant pools of boiling hot water, I will be staying in the car with her at certain sites while Daddy shows Alice around.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Quite unexpectedly, Alice had had much more opportunity to swim this summer then in previous summers. Thanks to that, her water skills have improved very quickly. First was getting used to putting her face in the water. Then putting on her life jacket and paddling all around. Etc etc until today I felt compelled to start instructing her to raise her arms above her head in the freestyle fashion instead of the dog paddle she's gotten very good at by now. And she was able to wheel her arms around accordingly surprisingly well the very first time. She can swim, in a fashion, for several feet without drowning. We have alas been goggle-less for several weeks and have had no luck finding goggles at places like Walmart. But Alice's progress in the water had been awesome. Next step, swim team! But only if she wants. Of course.
The Cascades are beautiful in the sunlight. We saw them in rain and mist on the drive west, and they were pretty. On the drive east today, in the sun with the highest reaches wreathed from time to time in puffy white cloud, they were spectacular.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Monday, September 8, 2014
We left Aunt Beth's today. Alice was sad so I proposed we leave her there for a couple of months as the rest of us finished the trip and figured out where we want to live. She thought that no, that wasn't a good idea, but perhaps a sleepover?
Customs went fine though frustratingly inefficient with their lines instead of queues. We were waved through after 2 questions.
Now we're staying at the Coachman Inn, a cheap but well kept and nicely located motel. And I have appointments with 2 local fee-only financial planner tomorrow to see what they have to say about the planning profession in this area. I should be Highly Caffeinated by 3pm tomorrow.
The time in Canada was really pretty great. Beth was a trouper. A family of four stuffed into her bedroom while she sleeps in the living room has got to be trying. The apartment is... Not large. Small is really the word. Very might be another word. So, generous in the extreme. We had a really nice time in Burnaby, not doing much. The park she lives next to is awesome and we walked a lot. The takeout is great and we ate some. Cooking was done.
Things on the island have been mentioned. Breakfast in the hotel and so on. Dad and Betty-Anne are always a pleasure. It was good to see them, good to see that life, while no piece of cake, still works pretty well for them. Dad continues to deteriorate, but not very fast. Betty-Anne seems to have found a groove which, while not easy and not always particularly jolly, works for her. We are happy to see all of the above.
Courtenay is gorgeous in the sunshine. I begin to see the appeal, having mostly seen it in the fog and rain. It is quintessentially Pacific Northwest, in the rain, and thus beautiful. But a bit exhausting in large doses. In the sun, though, it's really awfully nice!
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Alice: Aunt Beth, maybe we could spin right now. Or work on a dinosaur dress. [Beth is making one for a dinosaur-themed wedding]
Mommy: Alice, honey, maybe Beth doesn't want to do that right now. Maybe you could phrase it as a question, as a request?
Beth: Oh, so is that a request, Alice?
Alice: No...it's an offer.
Friday, September 5, 2014
Thursday, September 4, 2014
We are staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Courtenay. This is our first time in this hotel chain, although Molitor has talked it up a bit because it's known for its Hot Breakfast. It's pricier than we're accustomed to paying, $155 ($5 off thanks to our awesomely useful AAA card) vs. $100, though these are tiny Canadian dollars so the difference isn't as great.
Alice is loving the hell out of this hotel with its push-button pancake maker (literally, you do nothing but push a button and 1 minute later a pancake is gently spat out of the black box) and fruit loops and its Indoor Pool and Waterslide and Hot Tub! We've already spent an hour there this morning before 11am, although Alice went down the slide once with me (it was fast and awesome though frankly a little scary) and I believe that'll be the last time.
We have plans to rendezvous with the rest of the Molitor family for a low key lunch. We're going to pack everyone in the trusty minivan!
The ride over was uneventful. Drive, ferry, drive. The ferry ride is always beautiful. Alice completely ignored it and played her heart out in a tiny kid play area, making friends a mile a minute. Beatrice divided her time between playing there and bossing her parents around.
The children are, as I write, making up for the exhausting, almost nap-free day yesterday. It's two hours past Beatrice's normal waking, and an hour past Alice's. We may have to wake them in order to get to the free hotel breakfast!