Sunday, September 30, 2012

name tags

A friend asked me to make some name tags for her kids to have on their back packs. Here they are...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

moving continents--after

The after list is not as pressing, since we can do absolutely nothing about it right now, and it's also the exciting part:

  • Find a place to live--Preferably buy a house, which depends on selling our house in England.  We will live with my parents for a couple of months (they have more than enough room for us and a POOL) and if it seems like it's going to take a long time for the sale to go through we will assess the situation and consider renting.
  • Find jobs--We are fairly certain this can be accomplished pretty quickly, we wont be too picky to start off with and we're lucky that Houston has a strong job market right now.
  • Buy a car or two--We have shared a car for the past three years but we will most likely need two now.  And of course we are now thinking about size and safety ratings since we have a baby to protect! Although I am drawing the line at mini vans or suburbans, aint gonna happen.  It's just a personal preference thing. 
  • Get phones--We will need to get new cell phones in Texas so that will probably be one of the very first things we do, that way all those companies who want to offer us jobs can get in touch. 
  • Pick up our shipment--This should be fun.  We are so lucky to be moving to a port city so we can go pick up our stuff ourselves, either borrow a truck and trailer (we are moving to Texas after all, most people have a trailer lying around somewhere) or get a Uhaul truck. 
  • Catch up with friends--We figure if it takes us at least a month or so to get jobs we can spend that time visiting with friends we haven't seen in a long time. So we will be doing quite a bit of driving around and catching up!  I can't wait!
  • Eat, or not--Whenever we have gone back to visit we always have a list of places we want to eat and we have to plan out our time so we can hit them all up. It wont be like that this time since we wont be there for just 10 days like we usually are.  In which case we need to be careful because we really don't want to live up to the old steriotype of becoming fat because we live in America.  It could totally happen, I love me some Chick Fil A. 
  • Drivers Licenses--My Texas drivers license is expired and Sam will need to take a test to get one so we will need to do this pretty soon after we get there.  We can drive on our UK licenses for up to 90 days. 
Am I missing anything major?  I also have a personal to do list which includes sleeping in, shopping, drinking margaritas and getting my hair cut.  It's really hard to think that we are moving back on a more or less permanent basis, it still feels like a holiday where we just have a lot to do.  I bet it will take a while to sink in.

Friday, September 21, 2012

moving continents--before

Moving can be stressful. **Hahahahahhahaaha** That is me laughing insanely at such an understatement.  I have been having a little trouble sleeping and went to see my doctor recently and he said that moving can be as stressful as getting a divorce.  I don't know about that but at least he said it's normal that I'm experiencing anxiety about it.  But as with anything else, a good to-do list can help keep things under control.  Well at least it should.

I have a before the move (BTM) and an after the move (ATM) list.  That's how it's working for me right now, two completely separate and yet not exclusive lists of things to worry about.  Somehow it helps to focus on only 50% of my worries at a time.  Today we will look at the BTM list.

(not in any particular order)

  • Sell the house--Sort of a priority.  We have had an offer but they still need to sell their house so it's a waiting game.  I've always  been terrible at waiting.  A lot of things depend on this one.  Such as the ability to get a house on the other side so we don't have to live with my parents forever.  Such as not having to continue paying for this house when we are not living in it--we are on a deadline because of Sam's visa; he has to be in the USA by Christmas for his visa to be valid.  We always knew we could have trouble with timing, but since we could control neither the processing times of Sam's visa nor the sale of our house we just have to do our best with what we've got.
  • Ship belongings--We went back and forth about this one for a long time and have considered all of the options.  In the end we realized we were either going to be checking about 30 suitcases of things we simply can't part with onto a plane with or we could get a shipment.  Sam has a lot of sporting equipment that would just be silly to replace--bike, snowboards, surf boards, cricket and rugby gear, golf clubs etc.  We were able to find a company with a great reputation where we can ship about 2-3 pallets worth of stuff for less that the cost of Sam's bike and golf clubs. It would cost so much more to take it all onto the plane with us, and we'd need a moving truck to pick us up at the airport which would be ridiculous.  This company will come pick up all of our stuff (which will be all of Sam's sports stuff, our kitchen table and Maya's cradle and then about 20 boxes of our personal things like photo albums, pictures, kitchen stuff and odds and ends), take it to their warehouse and pack it all onto a few pallets then measure and charge us for the exact amount of space it takes up. It will be shrink wrapped so everything is nice and secure, then they'll put it into a container with a bunch of other peoples' stuff and send it to Texas, transit time is 16 days. Amazing right? 
  • Buy boxes and packing stuff--You can find reasonably priced moving kits on ebay that include lots of boxes in whatever sizes you need, tape, bubble wrap and markers.  It's the cheapest I have found so far.
  • Pack--This can't be done until right before we go.  We will probably move in with the in laws for the last couple days after our shipment is picked up since we wont have anything in our kitchen. I think we will pack what we want to take on the plane first so we can make sure we have what we need and can ship anything else that doesn't fit.  We will have up to a month without the stuff in our shipment so we will need to spend a little time thinking about what we absolutely need during that month, especially for Maya.
  • Book flights--Simple enough, we just hope to get the bulkhead seats which will be easier with a mobile baby. 
  • Get rid of stuff--We have been doing this little by little for a while now.  We are giving away almost all of our furniture to family and friends, the rest we will ebay or donate.  We are also going to leave behind our appliances since they wont wont work in the US, so we will sell bigger items like our fridge and washing machine and give away or donate little things like the toaster and mixer.  We are also leaving behind lots of clothes, shoes, pictures, books, pillows, linens and basically anything we can live without. 
  • Get record copies--We will need to get copies of our medical records as well as vaccination records.  They have different required vaccinations here than they do in the States and Maya will need to be up to date in the far and distant future when she starts school. 
  • Cancel utilities/services--This is something else that we do at the last minute.  Some of them we will have to keep paying until our house sells like our house insurance but we will need to change our correspondence address. 
  • Change our address--We need have our mail forwarded and let our bank know we are moving and make sure our statements are forwarded to our new address as well as a few other bills we will have to pay until the sale goes through.
  • Change life insurance companies--We both got life insurance policies before Maya was born but we will have to change to a US company when we move because the one we have here will not cover us if we live abroad.  No big deal but not something we want to overlook.
  • Get medical insurance for Maya--Since we will be between jobs and without insurance for at least a few months we want to make sure that Maya is covered.  It is not a situation I am totally comfortable with but at least if she is covered I wont be as worried.  There are very few independent options out there to cover just a child, most require that at least one adult be covered as well and that makes it quite expensive.  She also may be eligible for CHIP or Medicaid depending on how long it takes us to get jobs or what we earn to start off with.  This is one of those issues that keeps me up at night. I will miss the NHS. 
  • Give notice--I have already handed in my notice to work which feels great and terrifying at the same time.  Sam's notice period is a month so he will be handing in his pretty soon. They already know that he is going and even though they are happy for him they'd love for him to stay, which is nice. 
  • Wire money--We will be keeping our joint bank account open here but we will be wiring the majority of our money to our account in the States.  We also have to have a meeting with a bank manager who will handle the wiring of the money we make on our house if we don't sell it before we go. They wont just let us call and wire it so we have to arrange all of this in advance.  Hopefully we will sell the house before we go and wont have to deal with this at all.
  • Say goodbye--I hate this one the most and I hope to come up with a way of avoiding it, such as sneaking away in the middle of the night. 
  • Get excited--I spend so much time thinking about all of the stuff I have to do that I forget that we are moving back to Texas! Yehaw! The land of guacamole and queso, big cars and big people, Target and air conditioned shopping malls, my family and friends! But let's not get carried away, there's lots to do before we get there...
Of course there are a lot of other little things that will come up but this is the gist of it.  A pretty good example of the things that must be done when moving continents. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

for sale

We are moving back to Texas and our lovely little house is on the market.  Anyone interested in a two bedroom cottage in a quiet rural setting in England?  We actually have had an offer already which is fantastic, but they still have to sell their house so things are moving very slowly. 

I am really sad to be leaving this house in this beautiful place.  It has been such a special house--our first home, the house we brought our first baby home to, a place where we have grown into a family and spent the first three years of our life together.  We have grown with this house and feel very fortunate that we have been able to be a part of its long and rich history.  It was built in the 1830's and has been the home to many families, a butcher shop, and a post office.  It has been wonderful getting know the nice people in our village, we have some of the best neighbors you could ask for.  Everyone has been so kind and friendly and we will be sad to say goodbye.

It's funny how much a building can affect you, I feel like this place has had an impact on us and I'm proud to have had a small impact on it as well with the updates we have done.  We had a lady named Hazel come by one day last year who was visiting the area and who's mother was born in this house, she was incredibly sweet and asked if she could look around to see how much it had changed.  Her mother was one of 11 children who lived here at one time--a family of 13!  Two of Hazel's uncles still live in the area who we have met since who were also born here and they shared a lot of memories with us from growing up here which were so fun and so special to hear.  I like to think that one day, years from now, we will come back and have a look around as well, and Maya can see the house where she spent her first year of life. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

a birthday present for a little girl

Our niece turned 4 last week, it was an exciting occasion.  I always struggle getting gifts for her because she has everything.  What do you get for a girl who has two real life ponies knowwhatimean? So a few weeks ago an idea came to me, I would make her a hop scotch mat--she could play inside (since it seems to always be raining) or outside (and would be easily washable).  Bam.  I was so excited, it seemed like such a good idea, and it became an even better idea when I was at her house a week before we gave it to her and she asked me if I would teach her to play hop scotch!  And sure enough when she opened it she said, "Oh Auntie Bethany, I love it." and then we went and hopped.  

On one side I sewed fabric rectangles for hop scotch, and on the other I sewed fabric circles for a bean bag toss game.  I also wrote numbers on the rectangles and circles, and they aren't as impossible to see as they are in these pictures.  Sam suggested that I cut out and applique the numbers on with coordinating fabrics and I laughed in his face.  But it would be cool, IF you are insane and have millions of hours of free time. 

 I also made 2 sets of 3 bean bags so she can play with her sister or a friend.
And here she is playing at her birthday party:)
**Another bonus is that I have been commissioned to make a couple more of these!