Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mixed Results

I'll write more about the Divisionals swim meet when we're back at home, but for a quick overview: Rebecca broke her 40s 50m freestyle mark (yay!), Jonathon won third for his 25m butterfly as one of the few kids who actually made it across the pool legally (yay!), Katherine was DQed out of her 50m breastroke which broke all our hearts as she did two strokes under water before coming up because she had 4th place (boo!), Nicholas was lazy and actually added time to all his swims (boo!), Katherine's relay team came in 3rd out of 6 (yay!), and there were other ups and downs too, but there you go. We did have any Frogs of the Year or coaches awards, so there's plenty to work towards next year. As for going year round, we're going to let it go for now, and see where we are in a few months. We may go for it if they don't find other activities they want to do in the meantime, of if they miss it too much. Until then, we'll just enjoy our summer camps next month, start school, and get into a normal routine of work/school/house cleaning. It'll be good.

This week we're at Beach Babies house in Sandbridge. If you go to Sandbridgerealty.com for Beach Babies you can see the house.
What you can't see is the peeling paint all over the outside and underside of the house, which makes it truly ugly compared to the neighbors. The non-working outdoor shower. The lack of space to sit outside because the seating is all old wooden furniture that's pretty nasty. The plethora of HUGE spiders all over the outside (the first time my mom walked down the outside stairs to the beach she went with a broom in hand to clear the webs), and the cobwebs all over the inner corners inside. The broken towel bars, the broken shower knobs. No coffeepot. Dead bugs and old food stuck to various pieces of furniture. Light switches that don't work. Torn screens, rusted fixtures, one grill that's never been cleaned and another that looks like it's about to fall apart.
More later. Thank goodness the great room is pretty good as that's where we do spend our indoor time, but really, for the price, these sorts of things should not happen.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Questions for the experts

Our cats have gone nuts and what to do about swim team.

Our cats are 2 1/2 years old. We brought Tandoori and Masala with us from Chennai. Both male, both neutered, siblings, have gotten along since day one. Tandoori has always been skittish with anything new, loud, different. Masala is into everything, keeps escaping from the house, eventually warms up to everyone. A couple days ago,Tandoori flipped out at Masala: hissing, growling, the works. Eventually nails, teeth, fur and spit go flying. Masala usually is just passing by or checking things out and is always the one to walk away at the end, and he's gotten a few scratches too, so though he's clearly the dominant cat in character, he's also not the one instigating the confrontations. Tandoori feels threatened, that's obvious. The "experts" have all sorts of ideas from battling over resources to new surroundings to misdirected aggression. We've doubled the food and water dishes and added a second litter box, but the relationship has not improved. Each cat still curls up with us and wants petting. Periodically we segregate them to allow some peace, locking one in the basement while the other hangs out with the family. But how long can this go on? And will it stop?
The swimming issue is still just that. I feel strongly that the girls should continue with swimming through the school year. Actually, I'm not the only one, their coach would like them as well (that's her job, I know). There's the registration ($125/kid), the yearly cost ($1000/kid), plus additional training tools (hundred dollars/kid?). And then the time involved, 3-4 days a week for the next 7 months plus meets, some of which involve travel. So what are the pros? They enjoy it and have made friends who will be on the team, they'd improve and have regular exercise, they'd have something they could bring to our next post and be really good at. I do understand Ian's POV. Give the girls the year to adjust to school here and let them explore other activities we didn't have access to overseas. I do get it, and I do agree. But... Ack. They have such potential. Did I just use the word potential? I'd hate for all their progress from the past 8 weeks to be entirely lost with the absence of swimming til next summer.
So what say you, knowledgeable folks of cats and swimming. What are our next moves?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


We saw the midnight showing of Half-Blood Prince and thoroughly enjoyed it. Go go go! Yes, there were people dressed up in silly wigs and capes, but they behaved themselves and there was dead silence during the final big scene. By far the funniest and cutest of the saga I also thought it had an easy flow and the actors seemed at ease with their characters. I look forward to seeing it again.

There was a trail of people returning home along our street at 3 a.m. We are not alone.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


... and we're back.

Nope, didn't go anywhere, just enjoying and readjusting to having more stuff (more stuff to clean really and we have no idea where our HHE will fit in this house besides in boxes in the basement), a new mattress too thick for any sheets we've found yet, my UAB, a trip to Kings Dominion courtesy of my mom, and of course swimming swimming swimming on top of Ian's birthday, 4th of July, my birthday, and afternoons at our lake beach. Did I mention that all 4 kids are swimming now? Yeah I thought I had. Today was the first meet for all of them.

Kings Dominion was awesome. The kids didn't go on any huge coasters through no fault of their own. We did a few things everyone could enjoy then moved to the log flume and rapids before going to the water zone. Ian would have enjoyed it and would have insisted on a big scary coaster, too bad he was still in India. He made it back in time for his birthday, we took him out to Famous Dave's where I've discovered they do not have the best ribs in town. They were actually not that good at all, bummer. But who cares this early in our American tour? We have choice and we have the ability to get ourselves there whenever we feel like. Not having a driver is AWESOME. Can't say that enough. AWESOME. When we go out to eat I don't bother asking where the kids want to go but instead what kind of food they want. We have everything and everything is accessible. Yup, awesome. I smile whenever we drive down a broad, windy, tree-lined road with a brilliant blue sky above us.
We've taken some time to just enjoy our new surrounds. Our neighborhood has 2 man-made beaches to go with the man-made lake. During the weekday afternoons there are just enough people to make it fun for the kids but not too many to let me find a shady spot and chill for a few hours. Sweet. We've managed to get together with our Chennai neighbors a few times as well, had them and my parents over for a 4th of July cook-in (don't have a grill yet or deck furniture), plus a few afternoons at the house and beach. It's been a nice. They're in Ecuador and Colorado now, will have a couple weeks back here and then off to Venezuela for their next tour.
We're also trying to enjoy our little house. Like goldfish we'd grown accustomed to our large residences abroad. Now that we have our items from storage and my UAB, the house is full. Not a clue where Ian's UAB or our 7000 pounds of HHE will go. Seriously, not a clue. We have plans to finish the basement into useable space and the couch, recliners, TV, Rock Band will go down there, but that's not until next spring so for now it's all on the main floor. Our living room furniture simply doesn't fit the space at all but at the moment it's not worth investing in all new furniture. Of a more urgent nature is getting the carpet taken out and the wallpaper down. We're checking out bamboo flooring and really just need to make a decision and get it done ASAP. We'd planned on buying paint and choosing flooring tomorrow until I remembered we have a baptism after church. There was no time today with the home meet, lunch out with my mom who came to see the meet (yay!), a quick run through the mall for a gift and then a collapse at home.
Meets are exhausting, and obviously I'm not one swimming. Ian was conscripted into being a time recorder today and we'd donated 196 hot dog buns and 2 cases of Coke. We were far behind on our volunteer hours but have caught up a bit with helping set-up last night, donating food and being a time recorder. It's a way the team keeps costs down, by having family volunteers do loads of the work.
The boys had never been in a swim meet but did, forgive me, swimmingly. OK, Nicholas had a bit of a rough day, disqualified in 4 of his 5 events. When you do butterfly, both hands must touch the wall together and feet must pump together, same with breast stroke. When you do backstroke, you cannot take a stroke on your tummy, even if it's to touch the wall at the end or if you're scared to whack your arm on the wall. He has a killer freestyle. His technique needs some tweaking but the speed is there. His freestyle relay team fizzled on him (2 swimmers had already left the pool?!) but he wanted to swim and one of the 11/12 boys swimmers was missing so Nicholas filled in and kept pace, almost too easily. It was actually a little freaky to watch. Rebecca was awesome in her freestyle as well, keeping pace with her time of 40.46 in the 50m Free. For some reason she was 3rd in the Free Relay instead of anchor, but I'm sure her coaches had a reason for that. She did great in the 100m Individual Medley and won her heat. Katherine swam the 100m IM for her age group and had a bit more trouble with butterfly but did awesome in her preferred stroke, the 50m Breast, coming in 1/3 of a second behind the heat winner. Jonathon won his 25m backstroke heat and came in second in the 25m breast stoke heat. Our family provided nearly 30 points to the overall team total which isn't huge but pretty cool to us.
Next week is an away meet at Lake Ridge, then we see if any of our kids make it to Divisionals the following week. Rebecca really wants to continue with year round swimming with the PWC Amberjax but the cost jumps significantly, and the Stuff requirement jumps as well. The actual practice time drops to only 2-3 hours a week so it wouldn't impact school too much, but we're torn between having her continue to improve and encouraging her to make time to try other things while she has the chance. Decisions decisions.
Before I log off for tonight, and hopefully our connection will continue to hold and we've finally left behind the non-connectivity nonsense, I wanted to say a huge thanks for all the birthday wishes. I turned 35 on Wednesday and life is good, made all the better by wonderful family and friends. It's going to be a great couple of years.
P.S. Remember the heat pump that kept me up at night? It was set on "ON" not "AUTO" Hmph.

Friday, July 3, 2009

It's 1:20 a.m. and I'm the one awake?? Yes, yes I am.

Though I love my husband dearly there is one thing in particular I did not miss when he was gone, and in fact I'm having a very hard time adjusting back to having it in my life Which would be why after about 2 hours asleep I'm now downstairs and wide awake. And pondering the mysteries of the heat pump.

I've never experienced a heat pup before and I'm both confused and worried about it. Is it normaI for the fan to not turn off? That seems like a huge waste of electricity especially on cool days like today was. Did I break it somehow when I moved the thermostat a degree upwards last week to 76? Does it work subtly (and constantly) rather than freezing a house into submission? All I can think is that something isn't quite right as it's cool outside and the thermostat reads 75 but it's still too warm in the house. This is what's keeping me up right now.

That and the fact my husband snores so loudly it woke me up and then steadily grew, even after I kicked him, until I moved to the couch. I don't have jetlag but I'm the one awake. Not cool.

Oh well. Anyone have suggestions/thoughts? I'll take them on both the heat pump and the snoring.
Our bleeding credit cards were slowly starting to recover, then Ian came home. Yay! He made it with kitties in tow! It took Tandoori about 24 hours to accept that this is the end of the torture ride, the poor thing was resigned in his carrier and wouldn't even look at us. It took Masala about 3 seconds to pop out of the carrier, only to continue complaining loudly and continuously about the horrors of international travel. I think he forgot now to NOT meow because in the house he made his voice heard for hours. They're here, they're alive, that's what we care about and they remain devoted lap cats.
Ian's arrival meant we could start plunging into all the things I hadn't yet gotten around to. Garbage pickup for one thing. I simply hadn't arranged it, figuring the garage couldn't really burst with just one more box shoved into it. It's not kitchen trash piling (that would require foodstuffs and cooking... foodstuffs I got on Monday, cooking should commence in the near future), it's moving boxes and painting materials. Ian squared that away. Today we went shopping. Again. A fan for the boys' room (see: complaints about heat pump), a toaster, a mattress (see complaints: about snoring, maybe it'll help? Has to be better than a 10 year old full sized futon mattress on the floor, right?) for our arriving-at-some-point-in-the-future-from-India platform bed, and a TV, That is all you shall hear about the TV.
Swimming was canceled due to a broken pool pump, something we only learned once we waited at the pool at 6 p.m., and since I doubt the pump will be fixed between 7 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. Friday I doubt we'll have swimming in the morning either.
Everything is coming together. It's been a long month and I'm tired now (see: snoring, previous mentions of illness and busy days). If I can get over the fact that the heat pump won't stop bowing, maybe the couch will be a comfortable place to sleep.