Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Heading West

In case you missed the "We Don't Live Here Anymore" post, we recently moved cross-country from Virginia to Washington. In June we packed up for the move and sent the twins to stay with family in Georgia while Peter and I headed west with Riley and Sasha. The trip from Charlottesville to Poulsbo took us four days. We drove through a total of 11 states: Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington. We drove along the border of Nebraska for a long time, but we never entered the state. Here are some pictures from our road trip.

Our first stop at the Welcome Center in West Virginia
The first day of travel was not that eventful. We made progress but I don't have many pictures to show of it. While the landscapes changed, I guess it was not that different from things I have seen before and I didn't take pictures. We really focused on getting as many miles in that first day as possible since we left a little later than planned. After getting the old house empty and clean, we felt we didn't have steam or time left to start driving, so we spent the first night in Charlottesville. We left the next morning and drove through Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, and then spent the night in Peoria, Illinois. 

Traveling with the dogs affected our options for hotels. There's a website www.gopetfriendly.com that was a great resource for us. You can plan your trip out on a map and see all the pet friendly hotels. We used it on the road and would search for a hotel an hour or so before we wanted to stop and that worked well. Peoria was easy enough, but once we really got into the mid-west I had to call around for options. We managed to find some cool places to stay. Peoria was nice but nothing special - the place was by the mall and several other hotels. There was a Chipotle there. I think that was the last time I've eaten at Chipotle! I just realized Peoria was a lot more special than I thought. The next day we drove through the rest of Illinois, through Iowa and into South Dakota.

Scenic view off I-680 in Iowa

This is what I climbed up to see the scenic view.
We ended up staying the night in Murdo, South Dakota, at the Sioux Hotel. It was a last resort after calling the few places I could find on the Pet Friendly site. I remembered seeing a sign for it and called, and the lady agreed that our dogs could stay. After checking in, we found a pizza place that we could walk to and sit outside. The special thing about the pizza is that it includes its own dessert. They fill the pizza crust with cinnamon sugar and give you icing to eat with it. It was not the greatest pizza in the world but good and with the best idea for stuffed crust ever. Walking around Murdo we spotted a sign that says that the city was named after Murdo Mackenzie for herding cattle through there in 1880. 

Riley, Sasha and Peter at Prairie Pizza in Murdo, SD

The longest part of the trip was driving through South Dakota. Planning our trip, I remember thinking that driving through there will be so boring. You look on a map and it's just a big rectangle with two interstates going through it. Other states had their beauty, but we agreed that driving through South Dakota was actually the most interesting part of the trip. I was not able to capture it in photos. But the sky was so blue, the green prairie was so green, the rolling hills with the changing textures, and there were these ponds of water that didn't look like water I'd ever seen before - they were a dark, dark blue, almost black. I wonder how deep they were. We saw lots of cows but didn't see any buffalo. Of course, most of our views were from the interstate, but still. It is vast.

We took a slight detour on our third day to visit Mount Rushmore. Then a slighter detour to visit Wall Drug. There were signs for a lot of other places I wanted to visit, but I couldn't go through without stopping at Wall Drug. And now I have the bumper sticker. Peter balked at stopping there, but I think he enjoyed it. He got some South Dakota socks with buffalo on them.

Mount Rushmore selfie
Wall Drug
On the third day we drove through the rest of South Dakota, Wyoming, into Montana and stayed the night in Butte, Montana at Eddy's Motel. The motel had a fenced in area for dogs. I thought that was cool. Peter would later comment that it confused the dogs and made them think we were staying there for good. They were not as motivated to leave as usual in the morning. The motel rooms each had garages that were not being used (there was probably something in there but I didn't ask). Inside the room there was a small room with a closed off door that would have gone into the garage. The sink and tub seemed original to the place, which was built sometime in the '30's. I thought it was cute. Peter thought it was eerie and creepy. But he seemed to go along with it as part of the adventure.

Sasha and Riley at Eddy's Motel in Butte
The final day we finished driving through Montana, then through the top skinny part of Idaho and into Washington. We reached the Seattle ferry terminal before sunset, took the ferry to Bainbridge Island and drove to our new home in Poulsbo. 

Peter and a scenic view in Eastern Washington
The last leg of our journey - Seattle Ferry Terminal

After a few days, I flew to Atlanta, spent a couple nights in Georgia and came back with the girls. There is a lot to explore here, and we are all enjoying our new home.

Mary and Sophie at American Legion Park in Poulsbo

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Going Back in Time - Back to the Round House

Goodbye Charlottesville. Goodbye round house.
About a year ago, we were probably putting some finishing touches on our round house. Maybe we were getting curtains. I held out on the curtains for a long time, drove Peter crazy. We did have some big windows. Like little sliding glass doors. (Actually the windows in our new house in Poulsbo are similar - not quite as big, though.) Most of the work we did before we moved in. The property was overgrown and full of poison ivy. Peter took care of most of that, with some help from my dad one weekend. He burned a lot of stuff. We were lucky that the owner let us work on the property before the sale was final. The other major undertaking was the floor. There was carpet in the bedrooms, some hideous peel and stick tile in the kitchen and one bathroom, tile in the updated bathroom, but the main part of the house was just subfloor. Subfloor that for some reason was painted red.

A picture of the red subfloor and one of the few right angles in the house
So... we had to do something about the floor and do something before we moved all of our stuff into the house. We have two dogs and the house is on a partially paved road with a gravel driveway. Because of that we knew we didn't want carpet. We would also have to schedule carpet installation and not knowing the time frame of when we'd move in, we didn't want to make that commitment to have professional installation. Another thing is that the floor was not level. Because of the way the house was built and the way it settled, the floor was a bit higher in the middle of the house. The inspector told us that hardwood would probably not work but maybe laminate since it was more flexible. So we decided (read: I convinced Peter) that we would install the laminate ourselves and used some really nice laminate flooring we purchased at the Habitat Store. We installed it over the course of three days then moved in our things. It turned out quite nice. There were lots of angles involved as you might imagine. Now that we've installed laminate in a 15-sided house, we consider ourselves experts. The instructions that came with the flooring said that the planks must be laid left to right along the longest wall, starting in a corner. We didn't start along the longest wall, but we did start on the only right angle we had to work with in the large room. We found that to be absolutely necessary to start the installation.

Laminate flooring installed starting at the right angle
Going back again a bit - I have this crazy idea that we're buying this round house and I start posting about it on Facebook. Lots of people comment, some have seen houses like this before, some haven't, then one friend says he wants to see a diagram. This is the basic layout of our round house, not to scale. And as mentioned above, it is actually a 15-sided house, not really a circle. The house was built in 1975. The same person also built two other round houses next door, which I think are 12-sided, and they are two story duplexes. There's also an A-frame house behind the round house. I don't know if it has anything to do with the other three, but there are some interesting shapes on Reservoir Road. Also bears. I shooed one out of the yard that was going through our trash can one night before we moved here to join Peter! But I digress.

Diagram of the round house. Lisa is available for your technical drawing needs.
The next update was the twins' room. Their room had five sides. I let them pick the paint colors and did this project after Christmas while they were staying a few extra days in Georgia. It was a surprise. This is what it looks like from a few different angles - I could not capture a small room with five sides in one photo.

Looking into Mary and Sophie's room
Looking out the door of Mary and Sophie's bedroom
Mary and Sophie's beds
Now February rolls around and Peter moves out. He finds a temporary studio to rent in Bainbridge Island, where his company is located, and he buys a truck. He sells his old truck, which in my opinion, was worth all of the upheaval. (Sorry for the jab. I admit, though, I did feel a little sentimental as I watched it leave.) I'm sure it was bittersweet saying bye to the S-10, but the new truck more than makes up for it. I'm left in Charlottesville to sell my dear old Maxima and to get the house rented (among other things). That brings us to the kitchen. Boy is it ugly. The property management guy comes to look at the house and says not to worry about the kitchen (as well as the aqua/magenta/purple bedroom), and I was somewhat relieved. But that didn't change the fact that I still had to look at that ugly kitchen for about three months. So, in the midst of what seemed to be a million snow days stuck at home, I decided I was going to paint the kitchen and replace the ugly peel and stick tiles.

Before picture of the kitchen. The "brick" is a textured wall covering. That stayed.
Kitchen after new floor and paint, also Sophie and lots of magnets.
Another "after" view of the kitchen. On the other side of that white wall is the front door.
This is a "before" view of the kitchen but check out the artwork and these cool stools I found!
One of many snow days that got me motivated to renovate! This was one of the first snowfalls of the winter.
I miss the round house, though we do have much nicer digs in Poulsbo, so it's mostly a nostalgia thing. Kitschy nostalgia. We are currently leasing the house through a property management company in Charlottesville. We were fortunate to find a renter to move in less than a week after we moved out. However, I just found out our tenants have accepted employment in another state and will be moving out at the end of October. So, if you know anyone looking for a unique place to live in C'ville in November, please let them know our home is available. And if they see a bear getting in the trash can, all they need to do is just step out on the deck and yell at him to leave and he'll lumber off.

Round house for rent! http://charlottesville.craigslist.org/apa/4649028013.html

We Don't Live Here Anymore

We live in Washington now. Washington State. (I've explained to people here that where I'm from you have to specify "state." Some seem surprised. Well, we did live about 100 miles from Washington, DC, and about 3000 miles from here... I'll eventually get used to Northwesterners. They do seem generally friendly and welcoming no matter where you're from. Really, it is nice here. You should visit.)

It's been over a year since we abandoned this blog. I logged on and saw that the last thing I posted about was Bailey. Sigh... Not that he could ever be replaced, but we do have another family member now - and it has been exactly a year today! The twins and I got Riley for Peter's birthday, because he wanted another hound dog. Riley is a Foxhound, which is actually the official state dog of Virginia. He lets the twins dress him up sometimes. I chose a conservative look to share for his first time on the blog. But we do have a collection of photos of him in tutus. A few with fairy wings. He doesn't mind. He is gentle with the girls, but other times he is crazy and loud. We took him home after his second time at the animal shelter. The people that adopted him the first time took him back a year later saying he had too much energy. Can you imagine giving up this face? It worked out for him though, he was meant to be our dog. And his name is appropriate as he now lives the "life of Riley."

On the last post about the twins, they were starting 1st Grade at Murray Elementary in Charlottesville. We had sent them to Kindergarten a year early at a new Christian school. They were in a class of six with just one other Kindergartener. They did learn a lot there but didn't have the independent learning skills they needed for public school. So we ended up with another fun year of Kindergarten. Now both girls are in 1st grade at their new school here in Poulsbo, WA - Poulsbo Elementary. The school year just started here, but they are both doing well so far. They have adjusted well to living in Washington too. It's pretty awesome here, lots to see and do. We also live in a great neighborhood and have friends to play with down the street.

Sophie and Mary on their first day of school at Poulsbo Elementary
When we were last on the blog, we didn't know we'd be living here. There was a chance - Peter came out here for an interview the week we moved into our new house in Charlottesville. But we didn't really think about it much. They had him fly to the other headquarters in Boston after we moved in the round house... that was maybe August or September. But it was not until January that the job offer arrived and we made the decision to move. It was one of those opportunities where if we didn't take it, we felt we would regret it later. Peter moved in February and the twins and I stayed in Charlottesville until the end of the school year (which was delayed by much, much snow... that could be another post). It took some work but we're all here now and enjoying life in the Pacific Northwest. Stay tuned for more posts about our new home and pictures from our trip across the country. I promise you won't have to wait another year.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Remembering Bailey

Coonhounds are known to be incessant nesters

I mentioned we lost good dog Bailey in the last post, but I wanted to share a few more memories of him. He really was a very special dog. I got him in fall of 2002 from someone we used to work with at IHOP. I stopped by there after seeing her in the parking lot one day and she told me about him. Someone had dropped off a litter of puppies at her home out in the country and he did not look like the rest. They called him "Baby." We named him Bailey because it sounded a little like that and was on a list of names for hunting dogs. He was very timid and it took him a long time to get used to us. It took Simon a long time to get used to him, though he took to Simon immediately and always followed his lead.

Bailey was a creature of habit and always stood to the right of Simon when going for a walk. After Simon passed on and we adopted Sasha, he kept to the right of her. He always played the assistant role and would never eat his food first. He always waited on Simon to eat. Then he waited on Sasha when she came along. One day, when Bailey had not been eating well, I confronted Sasha about eating Bailey's food. She hid in a corner (as much as a big German Shepherd can hide).

Here are a few pictures of Bailey. I've heard people say that you always take a lot of pictures of your first child but not so many of the ones that come after. That's kind of what happened with Simon and Bailey. We had a lot of puppy pictures of Simon. Maybe one of Bailey, and it is on an old computer. But I can safely say he looked just the same, only smaller. He never did change much. We always called him our puppy, and he was. Our puppy forever.

We were playing dress up here
With Sasha in the snow

Bailey loved to climb onto Mary's bed when he thought no one was looking - Mary didn't mind
Bailey with Sophie in July 2010
Mary asked me to take this picture - I think this was fall of 2010
Bailey's last visit to GA in early May 2013

New House and New School

Where did spring and summer go? I haven't been here in a while and just noticed our last post was from March. Since then, the twins graduated from Kindergarten, spring and summer have come and (almost) gone, we're now living in a round house, and the twins are riding the bus to their new school. The summer went by quickly and we've been so busy we could not afford the time or expense for a family vacation. Sophie has reminded me of this a few times. I feel her pain. But most of the changes have been good ones, and hopefully we can make up for it by getting settled in our new home and planning a fun vacation for next year.
Mary and Sophie at Kindergarten graduation


Saying Good-bye

Sadly, we did experience some loss this summer - Peter's grandmother, "Kadi Mama," passed away in June after a steep decline in her health over the last few years. Peter spent ten days in Hungary with his mother to take care of some family business and the funeral. We last visited in November 2011 so the twins could meet her for the first time. They remembered her and were sad about her passing but happy that she is no longer sick in bed. It was not an easy trip with all of us traveling that far (the girls had just turned 4 years old), but it was important - I'm so glad we did it, especially now. We'll go back again... one day. It won't be next year's summer vacation.

Sophie, Kadi Mama and Mary - Kesckemet, Hungary, November 2011

Going back a bit, the day before the last day of kindergarten, we said good-bye to our dog Bailey. He was really the sweetest, most simple dog I've ever known. I used to say that Simon (who died last year at age 14.5) thought he was a person and Bailey thought everyone was a dog. He was shy and timid, kind to everyone, but he would risk his life for me if I was in danger. He was very loyal. His health declined rapidly the last month or so of his life and we had to let go before we were ready. He was 10.5 years old. I still miss him a lot but mostly remember the good times. And how terrified he was of hot air balloons - you see them a lot around C'ville - I've never seen someone so scared of anything! Even after he'd get inside the house, he'd be shaking and still looking up at the ceiling. Poor Bailey.

Bailey (right) with Sasha, now age 12, who we adopted in December 2012


Summer Fun

Though I really missed my trip to the beach (maybe there is still time?), I don't think the twins missed out on much fun this summer. They went to summer camp for the first time this year and got to do something fun and different every day. They had a lot of trips to the pool, the spray park, and a few out of town trips to places like Amazement Square in Lynchburg and the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton. Sometimes Sophie said she was not having fun, but there were pictures posted on Facebook that said otherwise.

Mary having fun at a magic show with her summer camp

You can tell Sophie had such a boring time at the spray park, right?


New House

Sometime in June I was trolling the real estate ads and noticed a round house down the road from us was on the market. I was familiar with the house - there are two other round houses next door that had been on the market at one point. In fact, a few years ago, I drove down that road with the twins to show them the round houses. I'd always wanted to go inside one. So I took Peter there one day and told him, you know, we could buy this house... The next week we went inside with the listing agent, and the week after we got our own agent and made an offer on the house. After what seemed like some long negotiations, the offer was accepted, then after several more delays I won't detail, we miraculously closed on the house in time to enroll the girls in school and move in before school started. (We moved less than a mile, but from the city to the county and into a different school district.)

This is our round house. This is the first day we went inside.


New School

The twins started 1st grade at Murray Elementary last week, in different classes, and so far all seems to be going great. They are riding the bus, which arrives very, very early (they are the first ones on the bus!), but they've adjusted to that as well. Their school mascot is the Mustang, same as I had in elementary school, and their bus driver is called Mr. Mac (that's what we called our principal). Mr. Mac is a man of few words, but he seems very fond of Sasha. They greet each other every morning. Then when the bus takes off, Sasha excitedly motions for me to go back to the house and get started with our morning run.

Mary and Sophie waiting for the bus on the first day of 1st grade

We're ready to go to school!

Back home!

We had a great day! (And Sophie picked up a few rude gestures.)

So far life in the round house is good. We have until Saturday to get the old rental house cleaned up, then we'll be able to relax for a few minutes before starting the next project. We still have a lot of work to do, but the place is all ours, so that is not bad at all.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Artwork and Birthday Party Photos

The twins have been drawing a lot of pictures lately, so I thought I'd share some on our blog. Since I don't come here that often now, I just realized we had a great birthday party back in October and I haven't posted any photos.

Here is a link to more photos from the birthday party! I've only included two of them here below the artwork.

Sophie and Mary (Mary)

My Hippo (Mary)
Princess (Sophie)

Richie Rich and Dollar (Mary)
Ricky and Sherilyn Byrdsong (Sophie's schoolwork)
Sophie at her 5th birthday party, getting ready to ride Boyd the horse.
Mary riding Boyd with her friend Savannah, at her 5th birthday party.

 Here is a link to more photos from the birthday party.