Category Archives: Packing Up and Moving

The Next Chapter

Umm, I don’t think we’re in London anymore…

img_25491

Our first day in California, we woke up to bright blue skies and the SUN… and it was 70 degrees the entire time!

Such a contrast to the dark, dank, and dreary winter we left behind, huh?

The overdose on Vitamin D clearly made me gitty as I kept asking Mike, “Do we really get to live here? Really? Really?”

We’ve breathed in the sweet, plastic-y aroma of Target and gorged ourselves on Tex-Mex, but there’s a part of me that still wishes we could have continued our adventures in London.

I still  have so many stories to tell. The sightseeing we did, the people we encountered,  the nuances of  daily life that we still haven’t made any sense of….

(Will we ever?)

From California, we flew to Texas to visit family and friends before Mike starts his new job. It was parties and play dates the whole time, each another opportunity to laugh about our experiences and poke fun at our life in England.

That is to say poke fun of ourselves living in England…

Things may not have turned out the way that we had planned, but not for one minute do I regret throwing ourselves whole-heartly into our new life. As much as I complained about things like our leaky roof and  NHS, there is no denying that living in London was a fantastic experience, both culturally and personally.

We are still tying up loose ends in the UK,  but it’s fair to say that this chapter in our life has officially come to a close. I no longer have any claim to being the “American Mom In London”, but as with most titles in the UK, I plan to keep it forever and ever. Ha-ha!

(Who knows? Maybe one day, I’ll come back to reclaim it.)

This is only one of many, many sad farewells and promises to “keep in touch” for me lately. I’m usually pretty terrible about the “promising to keep in touch” part, but this time I plan to follow through..

I’ve made the leap to my own URL and  a new blog called FormerlyGracie.com, so please readjust your readers.

It’s still in the development stage.  I’m working on the “Blogroll”  and tweaking the design. The “About Me” page needs a lot of help, but there are a few posts up and more to come.

*********************************

By the way, my first purchase upon arriving  in the USA…

img_2553

… an electric kettle just like the one I had in London. I sort of developed a tea  and scone addiction while living in the UK. (Surprise. Surprise.)

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Life In The States, Packing Up and Moving

House Hunting

Okay. So, I lied on Facebook.

We didn’t actually go house hunting in San Francisco after all. Being completely unfamiliar with the Bay Area, I had no concept of how much of it was considered “San Francisco”.

(i.e. We used to live in Flower Mound, Texas, but no one knows where that heck that is so, just said we lived in “Dallas”)

Turns out we’ll be a bit further south… as in Silicon Valley. (a.k.a. the geek heartland)

Does this make me less fabulous? Absolutely not!

Not only did we end up in one of best school districts in the country, we also found an incredible house.

Not a shack. Not a bungalow. A gorgeous, better-than-I-deserve-in-fifty-lifetimes HOUSE!!!

Of course, we will have to sell our first born in order to afford it, thereby making the great school district aspect of it kind of pointless, but oh well…

Did I tell you I’m going to have granite countertops?

I don’t mean to be Ms. Braggity McBraggy Bee. I’m just so EXCITED and rightfully so, considering where we recently lived…

Remember? Leaking roof, broken oven, minimal hot water,  no dryer, no heat

Fortunately, one of the many perks of Mike’s new job is use of an excellent relocation company. They offer services such as accompanying new employees to get their California driver’s licenses and finding their families places to live.

This is also in sharp contrast to London, where we had no clue and did all of the research and footwork (literally) on our own. Within my first twenty minutes with the estate agent, he…

A. Set off a very obnoxious security alarm at one house

B. Locked us INSIDE of it and alluded to having me shimmy out a window to open the door from the outside…

C. Spotted a traffic cop from the second story window of the next house, at which point he leapt to the first floor and took off in his car…

D. …leaving me stranded holding the house keys*.

House hunting was much less drama this time. I called ahead with our “like to haves” and “need to haves” and when we met with the agent on Monday morning, he had eight homes that presumably met ALL of our criteria, with the option of two or three more if we were up for it. LOVE. IT.

Now, that’s not to say that every single one was dream…. far from it, in fact. The very first house we saw had all of the warmth and charm of a semi-converted garage.

I would have been put off had it not been on par with most of the dwellings Mike and I looked at in London.

One house had the biggest backyard I ever expected to see in Northern California, including an extended patio and dilapidated metal swing set (lead paint included).

You could have fit two more (sizable) houses on the lawn alone. Only problem? The house hasn’t been updated since the Brady Bunch lived in it.

All nine of them. Circa first season.

The kind, but bewildered elderly owner appeared a bit run down himself. Weary, watery eyed, and shuffling around with pants completely undone and falling off, he gave me the grand tour recalling how his daughter loved, loved, LOVED ”pale baby girl pink” and just have to have an entire bedroom done in it.

It broke my heart to lie to him and say, “We’re considering it” when what I really wanted to do was buy it on the spot and flip it.

Com’on. Don’t smirk. I’ve watched enough reality TV to know everything I need to know, right? I so could have done it too.

Oh, if only we had an extra $1.3 er, $1.6 million lying around, it would have been awesome. Sigh!

The next house smelled like curry, which was only slightly less disgusting than the  filthy carpets. Another had a super secluded entrance, hot tub, and yelled “Key party, anyone?”

The rest were oh-kay, but when we walked into our house we knew it was meant to be. Avery even told me which room is for him and which is for little brother or sister. Guess which one is bigger?

(Photos to come)

I think I’m going to like living here… a LOT!

*Parking is VERY strict in London. The fines are outrageous and officers ticket you immediately. However, if you can move your vehicle before the officer can place the ticket on the windshield; it doesn’t count, hence the leaping and abandoning, but still…

14 Comments

Filed under Life In The States, Packing Up and Moving

Clicking Our Heels Together Three Times

After 18 hours of flying (+ layover) across an ocean and then across the country, we’ve made it to San Francisco safe and sound for the next part of our crazy adventure.

Just like on the flights to London,  Avery was a total champ,  completely content to stay in his seat, play with cars, and watch DVDs.  He also didn’t doze off until the last 10 minutes of the flight, just as the plane made its decent into JFK.

Going through airport security for the second time that day, I was forced to wake up  my sleeping bear and remove him from his stroller…. of course.

As I held Avery with one hand and used the other to collapse, then lift the stroller onto the belt (while five TSA officers simply stood there and WATCHED, by the way), I overheard another one telling  an elderly lady she had to get out of her wheelchair.

Do you think really she and/or my child are  a threat to national security? REALLY?!

Ah yes, America… the land where senseless airport hysteria runs rampant.

Other than that, our trip was blissfully uneventful, so I actually shouldn’t complain about it… much. As Mike reminded me, “I’m just so happy to be somewhere familiar that I don’t care what it takes to get here.”

True and true.

It was rather surreal to look out at the twinkling lights of the bay as our plane landed, only to realize that we’re home. We are really and truly and finally home.

For now, at least.

6 Comments

Filed under Life In The States, Packing Up and Moving

2008 Signing Off

Whoa! Whoa Whoa! When did 2009 sneak up on us?

Wait! Was it while I was drowning in packing peanuts and cardboard or having my fifth anxiety attack over the logistics of our trans-Atlantic/cross-country move…

It’s funny to think back to my New Year’s resolution for 2008…

LOSE THE BABY WEIGHT ALL READY!

Little did I know at the time that all it would take was a few simple changes to my daily routine… drinking more water, fitness boot camp, moving to London, giving up my car, moving back from London…

Little things really.

Of course, I fully expect to gain it all back in 2009, but I’m totally okay with that. (No, really. I assure you, I am very, very, very happy about this pregnancy. Trust me.)

All in all, I really can’t complain about 2008. Employment uncertainty, worldwide economic collapse, and threats of deportation aside, it truly has been great year for us.

I know, I use the word “adventure” a lot, but there’s no better way to describe our past year.  Okay, so we didn’t exactly give it all up to help feed orphans in a third world country, but we took a risk nonetheless and are all the better for it.

We’ve learned a lot… and not just how to pack up and move overseas in 30 days or less. We’ve grown a lot and have memories that we will cherish for a lifetime, provided our family and friends won’t be too sick of our “Well, in LONDON…” stories.

Thanks for everything 2008. It’s been fun while it lasted, but it looks as if 2009 is already giving you a run for your (bailout) money with Baby #2 on the way, a new American city ahead of us, and an OBAMA PRESIDENCY. Whew- Hew!

Happy New Year, everyone!

83157055_b3417e33d9_b

4 Comments

Filed under Holidays and Merrymaking, Packing Up and Moving

A Reason for Everything

I’m a big believer that there’s a reason for everything. God has a larger plan for all of us and the like, but I just could not understand the reason for sending us back to the States so soon.

I mean, the “bigger” reason… beyond visas and global economic collapses.

Sure, Mike has a great job waiting for him in the US, but he already had a great job… in London.

Yes, we’re moving back the States, but it’s not as if we’re going “home” to our family and friends in Texas. California may be closer, but it’s still going to be miles and miles away. What difference did it make?

We just got settled in London. Our expat life may entail a LOT of compromises, but we have friends, daily routines, bank accounts…

Avery is finally sleeping at night again! Do you know how long it took  him to recover from the “time change”? Do you know how much I’m dreading going through that AGAIN?

Why, God, why would you send us back now?

Well, a few days ago, I got my answer.

Life just got 150% more crazy and we couldn’t be happier!

14 Comments

Filed under Family, Life In The States, Packing Up and Moving

Everyday Is Like A Game of Charades. One word. Four Letters.

With our upcoming return to the States, I’m up against a challenge…

We have certain household items that need to be sold. We don’t want to do without them until the very last minute, but that doesn’t leave much time to haggle.

Giving it all away is NOT an option.

This proves problematic when up against variables such a market saturation, demand, and other nifty things I learned in business school…

One afternoon, I popped into a pawn shop by our house to inquire how much the second-hand market could bare such items. After giving the clerk a quick description, I asked what he’d be able to offer for them… just a ballpark figure.

The clerk refused, insisting that I first bring in the items before we discuss pricing.

I quickly explained my situation– moving back to American right away, don’t have much time, need to know the best way to sell this stuff, I just live around the corner, blah, blah, blah.

They were still, “No. No. No.”

“Look,” I said, “I’m not going to hold you to the price. If I come back and you don’t think it’s worth the higher end, I won’t make a fuss. I just need a ballpark figure to work with… an idea of what this stuff is worth used.”

Then it dawned on me…

“Wait. Do you even know what I mean when I say ‘ballpark figure’?”

The clerk smiled meekly and shook his head.

“OH! I’m so sorry (thunk!) It’s just an American phrase. Ballparks are… Okay, nevermind. Look, again this is our situation… I just want to get your opinion on what you think these items are worth should I try to sell them.”

“So you want a range, like an estimate?”

“YES! Exactly. A RANGE! An ESTIMATE! Can you give me a range?”

“No”

(grumble, grumble)

By the way, there was a time in my life when I would have been absolutely appalled to be living so near to a pawn shop. Like… six months ago when I lived in the suburbs.

Oh, how city life has made me tough…

3 Comments

Filed under Misconceptions and Mishaps, Packing Up and Moving, Undiplomatic Behavior

Home Is Only An Absract Idea Anyway

I got stumped while booking our flights to the US today…

what-now1

I… umm, have no idea where we “reside” anymore.

Dallas? London? California?

By our fourth and final day in Paris, the fatigue of being tourists had set in and all three of us were yearning to return to London.

Even our sweet little Avery asked, “Go home to see Tower of London, now, Mommy?”

“Yes, Baby. We’re going home to see the Tower of London now.”

For the time being, London is still very much “home” to us. It seems rather unfair to be leaving so soon after making it so, and that it took a trip meant to re-establish our tourist visas to feel the first real  aches of missing it.

Of course, the officer at the UK boarder was quick to remind us that London is, in fact, NOT our home. Upon eying the expiration date on our visas, he gave me a stern lecture on the intricacies of the UK’s Immigration policy.

A VERY stern lecture.

Okay, USA, it is…

3 Comments

Filed under Packing Up and Moving