Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
And of course the bathrooms. As I opened the stall I half held my breath having a conversation in my head. It's a nice airport - they won't be squatters. But maybe they will. I hope not. I'm too worn out to squat today. I was pleased to see a sitter but smiled to see it was all wet from the bum squirter hose. And the toilet paper was almost gone. Welcome back was all I could think.
One more one hour flight to go then customs/luggage/visa/immigration and then a one hour drive home. We will be home about 11:30 pm I would estimate. Then they can run around and tour the house and crash for a sleep in morning while Brian goes off to work.
Monday, August 4, 2014
Sunday, August 3, 2014
When we moved to Singapore we were given a 40-foot container as our shipping allotment. At the time we had no real understanding of how much stuff could fit into a 40 foot shipping container. We divided our household up into to groups: 1) our furniture, clothes, and other items we used frequently to be shipped to Singapore (about 2/3 of our stuff), and 2) the remaining items we felt we could live without for three years. These items were loaded up into two moving trucks and taken away to be packed into the shipping container or sent to long-term storage. Once the shipment arrived in Singapore we found out we had used about 26 feet of the 40-foot container. We could have fit much more. Many times we found ourselves thinking, "I wish I just had that [name an item] that we put in storage. It sure would be useful today." Sometimes we ended up purchasing the item we needed and sometimes we just made do without. Overall I believe we were glad we did not bring much more than we did because our Singapore house just did not have a lot of storage space. If we brought more we would not have had anywhere to put it.
As our Singapore chapter ended and we prepared for the move to Saudi Arabia we were informed we would only receive a 20-foot container as our shipping allotment since our Saudi house would already be furnished. Wait a minute, we have to leave Singapore with only half the shipping space we received when we arrived? I asked for clarification to the policy and eventually received authorization for an additional 20-foot shipping container to send to the USA for storage. Then came the hard part--what to take with us and what to send to storage? The furniture, of course had to go to storage. We knew we were still probably over our limit for the Saudi shipment and needed to reduce our Saudi shipment a bit more. Angie did a great job of selling/gifting/trashing many items in an effort to trim down the amount of stuff we had.
Finally the packing day arrived. We loaded the back of our car with our suitcases packed with the clothes we would need for the next two months and opened the house to the packers. After only one day of packing nearly everything was boxed up ready to go. On the second day the two shipping 20-foot shipping containers arrived on one trailer: a blue container bound for Saudi Arabia and a green one for the USA. Our house is on a bit of a hill, so they parked the trailer at the top of our neighborhood circle where the road is level so they could load both sides without the boxes falling. The movers finished packing the remaining items and started loading them into the containers, starting with the Saudi shipment. Because the containers were a little distance from our house, they loaded in a two-step process: first they loaded the items onto a moving truck at our house and then offloaded the truck into the container.
I imagine it must have been hot moving the stuff from the truck to the container. In Singapore it is common to call taxi drivers, grocery checkers, movers, etc. by the name Auntie or Uncle. One of the uncles moving the boxes would take his shirt off during this part of the move. Ashlyn saw the guy with his shirt off and started calling him "naked uncle." When they came back to the house for another load the uncle had put his shirt back on. Ashlyn kept asking where the naked uncle had gone.
Even after all of the great work Angie did to reduce our stuff, we could tell our Saudi shipment was going to be tight. I grabbed some of the larger and lower priority items and set them aside to load last if room remained in the container. After three truck loads the blue shipping container was completely full. We were not able to add back any of the items I had set aside. The packers forced the door closed and then moved on to fill the green container. There was plenty of room for the items headed to the USA--the shippers did not have to work nearly so hard to fit it all in. In fact, they purposely spread everything out across the floor of the container so it wouldn't shift while in transit.
With the house empty, we had a few days remaining before leaving Singapore. We cleaned the house and prepared it to turn back to the landlord. We were also able to enjoy our kids' last days at school. Then Sunday morning we all headed to the airport and parted ways. The family went to the USA to spend summer vacation with grandparents. I returned to Saudi Arabia to work for a couple of weeks before joining the family in the USA.
After two weeks of work I made my trip to the USA. On my second day there I received an email stating that my shipment had cleared customs in Saudi Arabia and was ready for delivery. I was very surprised it made it through customs that fast. I had heard stories that sometimes it takes weeks a shipment to clear customs because they will search the shipment for magazines and videos and remove or black marker over anything they considered inappropriate (basically any woman not fully covered). Our shipment must have slid through without any inspection (once we received the shipment it appeared that not a single box had been opened). I had to ask for the shipment to be stored for a month until I returned to receive it.
Once I returned to Saudi I was able to receive the shipment. It arrived in two moving trucks: one closed box truck and one open flat bed. Both trucks were completely packed--the flat bed truck had boxes stacked slightly higher than the fences on the sides. Within two hours of arriving both of the trucks were completely empty, the bikes were reassembled and lined up in the front yard, the contents of the kitchen boxes had been emptied out onto the kitchen counters and dining table, and the movers hauled all of the trash and empty boxes away. The rest of the boxes were scattered through the house, with some in each bedroom and a large pile of boxes containing toys and office stuff in the center of the main floor.
I was now left all alone with a massive challenge: Put away as much as possible in the next week before leaving for the USA to pick up my family. I started by targeting two areas: the kitchen and living room. One of the things I missed most was my stereo system--the house has been very empty and quiet over the last four months and I was really looking forward to listening to music again. I had identified the boxes containing all of the audio equipment as they were brought into the house and had them set aside so I could easily find them. Once I got the music going then I moved onto the kitchen, which was the second area I had missed moset. After two full days of unpacking and organizing I pretty much had the kitchen and living room taken care of. I celebrated being able to cook again with a fresh fruit smoothie in the recently unpacked blender.
As I unpacked I did come across one item we did not expect to be in our shipment. Apparently one of the Singapore geckos was excited to travel the world and jumped into our shipment. Unfortunately he did not make it--the month in storage was just too long and hot for him. I feel bad for the little guy. Someone should have told him it was not a good idea to stow away. Now I wonder how many more we will find when we finally unpack our USA shipment a few years from now.
Friday, August 1, 2014
I have now spent a full week unpacking. Out of 240 items, I pretty much opened every box, although I left the stuff in about 70 boxes (mostly office stuff and toys) until we have a plan for where to put them. The rest are all put away. Attached is a picture of the packing paper I pulled out of about half of the boxes (I have more packing paper flattened out in a stack behind the table). The empty boxes are all stacked in a big pile upstairs waiting for the kids to build forts. Now, what to do with all this paper?
Monday, July 21, 2014
Ben, Maddie and Jacob have been working on their brag tags for being Unplugged this summer. They are loving it! Here is the picture Ben had to show to prove he went to Cedar Breaks. It’s been a fun program and keeps the kids out of the house and electronics free. They are really motivated to earn the badges too so it keeps them interested.
This cracked me up and I’m so glad I got a picture of it. Ben is just too small for the rifle. His shooting form looks like he’s a cooked spaghetti noodle.
After this one, he tried a pistol and a higher power rifle. I was switching camera cards at the wrong time when he had the shotgun, but boy I missed an awesome video/picture when he tried the BIG gun with some kick. He pulled the trigger, got knocked back just a little tiny bit but nearly ran away from it after he shot it and said it was too big for him. He had us all laughing at his surprised response.