Friday, January 31, 2003

A few more things checked off.

We've gotten an overseas insurance quote (including marine, etc) for our van, so we'll send off the application and fee, and our car will finally be set. Then we'll have to schedule the pick-up to have it driven to the port.

Also have the landlord insurance finally getting somewhere. What a pain that has been.

I'll be picking up the girls' dental records today to keep for school admission. On Tuesday of this week Rebecca went for her 5 year check-up along with a vision and hearing screen, so she should be set for Kindergarten in the fall.

We also e-filed out tax returns, so getting our refund us will totally set us for our move.

Monday, January 27, 2003

More stuff done

My my my I'm chatty today.

I've called the chimney sweep and although they didn't have the one requirement by Ian's standards (an outrageous cockney accent), I saw their truck down our street last week, so I know they're doing actual business on our road. I also called the carpet cleaner and scheduled a chem-dry cleaning for the whole house. I also called a couple maid services to come in and clean the kitchen and bathrooms once the house is packed and empty. This is totally new territory for me, but I figure anything they do beyond what I've already done by then has to be good, right?

Now if only I could get landlord insurance for this blasted house. I called again and wouldn't you know their computers are down *weep* I'm waiting on this litle piece of information before sending in the papers to the property manager. I guess I could send it without but I really wanted it to be out of the way beforehand.

The Black Hole

How do these things disappear? Yesterday it was Nicholas's blanket, which we still haven't found. And today my checkbook that was right on my nightstand no longer exists. How does this happen? Thankfully Katherine's other tennis shoe finally appeared, after going missing for nearly a week.

My current issue, should we ever get landlord insurance so that the papers can be sent out to the propery manager so we can finally get the rental process going, is how on earth I'm going to keep this house neat for potential renter viewings. I tried it last week and it did nothing but drive me nuts. I know the only true way to keep the house presentable is to not be here, but 8 hours a day every day is going to be tough to fill with errands. What to do.

Yes, I've been on the computer a lot today. On Saturday we're going skiing with Jerry and Julie and Jeff, so I was checking up on Ski Liberty and Massanutten. This will be Rebecca's first time on skis. It should be amusing, to say the least. Jeff and Jerry will be taking lessons as well. Hee. I'm wondering though if it wouldn't be worth just going tubing like Julie suggested. Sounds like fun.

Like I said, here's more

Who knew that today and tomorrow are teacher in-service days at school, so Katherine is home, and the kids are happily playing on the main floor (while I stay warm upstairs).

I've been steadily reading _Culture Shock: Philippines_ and it's making me nervous about the whole hired help aspect of living overseas. I'm looking forward to having the help, but all the training involved is nerve-racking. I know I'm almost 30, but I still feel like I'm in no position to be giving anyone (but the kids) orders. With a part-time maid and a full-time driver though, I guess it'll just have to be done.

Manila really is a cosmopolitan city. With 10 million people and the influences of China, Japan, and mostly the United States, there's a McDs on every corner, just like home. You can find anything there and while I'm not brand specific in most things, there are some that I've become accustomed to, like Pampers. It's the only diaper that doesn't leak on Jonathon and the least likely to cause rashes. He is so sensitive that it's not worth taking the risk on the unknown with disposables, so I'm seriously considering switching to cloth. Seems really late, doesn't it, especially since we aren't having any more kids. But it also seems to make the most sense. After all, there will be someone else to do the laundry.

This summer proves to be interesting. Manila has summer camp offerings for ages 3 and up so I'm hoping to put the 3 older kids in camp this year. Wouldn't that be great? The school also has Brownies/Girl Scouts so Katherine can continue with that, and hopefully (haven't heard for sure yet) Rebecca will be able to start Daisies this fall when she starts Kindergarten.

So, we're flying to Honolulu on the 24th of March, via Chicago. And my mom is coming with us. She offered to come all the way to Manila, but that's a 2 full day flight and she'd have to do the return flight on her own which is no fun. So, she's coming to Hawaii and will no doubt be a huge help on the Chicago-Honolulu leg. Once we're in Hawaii, we have 3 nights and have reserved 2 adjoining rooms at the Hilton which is right near the water (what isn't, right?) but also has lots of kid targeted activities including a mini penguin zoo right in the hotel. Ian's consultations are the mornings of the 2 days we're there so it seems this will be a fabulous break for everyone. The rest of the flight takes us through a stop in Guam, somewhere I've always wanted to go. Does anyone really believe all those snake stories?

So. we'll arrive in Manila the evening of the 28th, Katherine will have testing for school at 8 a.m. on Monday, the 31st, our air shipment should arrive sometime in that week or the next.

That brings me to my actual question, what do I do with an 18 month old for 18 hours on the plane?

We're on our way

With the never ending list of "Things to Do" in order to move half way around the world, I get the feeling that we're not doing to poorly. So far we have...

Gotten our passports

Gotten our plane reservations

Gotten our hotel reservations in DC and Hawaii

Received our Manila housing assignment

Gotten our HepA and Typhoid shots along with our yellow immunization cards

Applied for all the advances/per diems

Scheduled our packouts, had the walk-throughs

Scheduled the INS consultations

Sent Katherine's school application to ISManila and scheduled her testing

Been clearing out the house

Today I need to call around about insurances and schedule a carpet cleaner, a chimney sweep and Merry Maids to clean the kitchen and bathrooms, all after the packers are gone and the house is empty.
Of course, we haven't done a thing about the car yet because Geico won't cover us overseas so we need a new insurance company, and our Property Manager forms are in a holding pattern until we can get landlord insurance for the house. Everyone keep your fingers crossed that we'll have a renter in March. It would just make things that much easier.

Oh, some particulars. We'll be flying out March 24th from DC and arriving in Manila the evening of March 28th, after spending a couple days in Hawaii. Yeah, this tour is starting our rough :)

On a more personal note, we decided against having a going-away party. After all, what fun is it throwing a party for ourselves? And along with that, we realized that so few people have expressed an interest in our departure, and so few people have kept in contact with us the past couple years, that it would feel more like work and strain than a fun gathering of the folks who did bother to show. Do I sound bitter? Yeah, well, I'm not apologetic.

On the other hand, we are doing special stuff for the kids. Down the road we have a Filipino grocery store so we've stopped in there and picked up regional foods. Most have not been well received, but we figure it's a matter of time before we get used to things like Fish Chips.. made from real bits of fish. We had a full hot meal from there a few weeks back and while there were some good parts, the fishy clear noodles were not loved, no one really cared for the sour pork soup and the barely boiled whole squids had Rebecca in tears and Katherine earning an adventurous gold star with her ability to choke a bite down.

Oh, but back to the girls. Since we're pulling Katherine out of school, on the 7th of February I'll be going to her class with some story books, a big picutre book, a CD of The Mabuhay (Welcome) Singers, and a tub of purple ice cream and cookies. The purple ice cream is a favorite in the Philippines, and it gets it's color and flavor from the purple yam that grown there. I found a distinctly mild yam taste to it (very good by the way) and Ian liked it too, though he said it didn't taste like yams at all. There is another favorite in the Philippines of Cheese ice cream, but we haven't quite taken that step in tasting yet. The halo halo ice cream that we have in our freezer is coconut flavored with bits of tropical fruit in it and it's very good too. Ok ok.. we're readily delving into the sweeter side of Filipino food. We'll get around to the rest of it again later :) Back to the visit to Katherine's class, I'm trying to come up with a quick and easy craft for the kids to do and so far I've come up with them making their own flags. On the backs of the base sheets I was going to put our snailmail and e-mail address so that if any of her classmates wanted to write to her, they could. Well, we'll see if that actually materializes! Also I'm going to see if her principal will make an appearance. Mr. Shaw knows every kid in the school by name and even recalls a lot of their siblings, and recognizes every parent at least by sight. In a school of over 500 kids, that's no small feat and he has always been loved by Katherine. He sits down with her and her friends often at lunch, and when I brought Rebecca to school for Bec's birthday, he stood her on the lunch table and had the whole cafeteria sing Happy birthday to her. How cool was that?

Anyway, more to come later, when I don't have Jonathon climbing on my lap, so hopefully this afternoon during nap time after I've finished my phone calls.