Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wyatt is so excited about Halloween this year. Every day, he asks us if it's the day. I've been told everyone comes out for the holiday, so I'm hopeful he won't be disappointed. It will be hard to top last year, however. He was a fireman that year, and one of the base fire trucks came through housing. The firefighters handed out candy to the kids who excitedly ran up to them.
I'm excited for a very different reason: I had a lot of fun with their costumes this year. I'm really not crafty by nature or interest outside of cooking, but sometimes a project interests me and I run with it. Wyatt, my little Star Wars-obsessed boy, is going to be a bounty hunter. I'm not sure why, but he is quite taken with them. So, before we moved, we bought him an appropriate toy gun. I'm making my first foray into paper mache and building him both a helmet and a jet pack. We have a safety vest he can use in the car in lieu of a car seat (although, there seem to be no seat belt laws here in the Bahamas; I plan to keep strapping the kids in, though). He has called it his "bounty hunter vest" ever since I bought it, so that works out just fine as armor. I'll post pics when I'm done with it all.
Then, there is little Oscar. Originally, he was supposed to wear the Mickey Mouse costume Wyatt wore when he was about the same age. However, it's a little on the warm side. Coming up with a costume here means finding one that will keep them cool, not warm. So, back to the drawing board.
When I asked him about a week ago what he wanted to be, he promptly answered, "A turtle!" Oliver, typically the more creative of the two of us, fashioned a nice looking shell out of a cardboard insert that came out of our grill box. Unfortunately, Oscar freaked out when he tried it on him. I'm hoping we can convince him to wear it when he sees Wyatt decked out, but I'm guessing it will be a no-go. We don't have much of a backup plan, so that's a bummer.
In other news, I heard eggs may have arrived today, so I'm going to run to the store tomorrow to hopefully get some. Powdered eggs work for a lot of things, but definitely not brownies, as I discovered this week. Oh, and Oliver had his first duty day. He had to go in at 0500, but was home by lunch. Nice. I know we'll see busier days, but nothing at all like what we've been dealing with for the last six years. Coming here was definitely a good choice.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I keep writing posts in my head, and I even have one waiting to be finished in my drafts folder. The problem is always dealing with the pictures. I don't know what it is, but uploading them from camera to computer, resizing, and doing a very small amount of editing are just pulling me away from it. Without the pictures, though, my posts always seem lacking. Because we have wireless here, and where the computers are has changed, I'm bouncing between the laptop and my computer. So many times, I realize the pics I need are on the wrong computer. It's driving me crazy!
I think I'm going to stop fretting about it. If I have no pictures, I have no pictures. I'll just add them later, or move on. I really will try to get them there, but it's keeping me from writing, and I hate that.
Posted by Ana at 21:24
Monday, October 26, 2009
Apparently, that isn't a good idea around here. Most of the action was over, it seemed, so we were milling around debating what there was to do. They had advertised they were doing hay rides, so when a tractor pulling a trailer full of kids arrived about then we decided to get on for a ride with the boys before we bought our pumpkins. On getting in, we discovered that around here, a "hay" ride is actually a "coconut frond" ride, which I thought was funny.
This coconut frond ride ended up taking almost an hour. I guess they do two rides, a shorter one for the little kids, then a long one for the older ones. The long one took us around the perimeter of the base on dirt roads. The base seems quite small until you ride around it at 10 miles per hour. By the end of the ride, half the kids were begging to get off, and the other half were busy decimating the coconut fronds and attacking each other with them. We were in the former camp, and jumped out to see everyone else cleaning up.
I no longer saw the pile of pumpkins, so I asked someone where they had gone. Sadly, they had all been sold while we were on our trip around the base. Someone offered us use of their golf cart to get one from the store the next morning before they were all sold off. We walked off thinking we would do that.
However, we woke up yesterday realizing it was Sunday. It was a really hard decision to not buy one. On the one hand, I didn't want to not be able to get one, but on the other, I didn't want to set a poor example to both our sons and the people we live with here, none of which are LDS. We decided the latter trumped the former, and we waited until today to try to get ours.
I'm grateful it worked out all right, but I was willing to go without. It would have been worth it to do the right thing. I know that will last longer than the pumpkin.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
This is a question that has morphed into something else around here lately. Now, it's something like this: "What do you think we can make out of the produce they had at the store this week?" I will definitely post pics of our store when I get my real camera, but the one I'm carrying now doesn't do indoors very well. I need to do it justice.
Imagine a decent sized gas station store. Throw in a three foot section of shelving and cold space (that's the produce section). Add another wall of random household stuff, like a vacuum (yes, I meant to say only one), a toaster, and other such necessities of life. Add in a shelving unit for all cleaners, toiletries, and paper goods, including diapers. Then add a collection of random things such as a couple bikes, boat gear, AUTEC branded stuff, and various playthings aimed at the children. Got all that? Then you have a decent picture in your head of what our store looks like.
Basically, meat comes in about every two weeks. However, it's so expensive you are better off flying to Florida to get it. Oliver had to go there last week to take care of our car (yes, that story is still coming), so I asked him to get whatever meat he could to fill out his weight allowance. I'm now making it stretch as much as I can as I have no idea when we will get another chance to buy more. So tonight, we had chili with about 2/3rds of a pound of meat and some tofu mixed in (because we can get weird stuff like tofu; good thing my kids love it). Not too bad, actually, and definitely healthier.
We can usually get eggs, although sometimes they don't handle the trip very well. I was lucky last time I was in there. Most of them were broken, but I was able to patch together a good dozen. We are out, so I'm not sure if we'll be eating eggs this week or not. The barge comes in on Thursdays, so if they are all gone I'll have to wait until Friday after they restock. I shipped some powdered eggs for cooking just in case that sort of thing happened, but, yeah, no eggs for breakfast.
Really, though, I'm not complaining. Just trying to paint an accurate picture of what life is like here. I know this probably sounds terrible to many of you, but it's kind of more like an interesting scavenger hunt to me. I like a challenge, and cooking has always been a bit of an adventure to me. When I lived in the States, it was all about eating as healthy as I could manage, with organics and local produce. Now, it's more like trying to figure out what to make out of a head of cauliflower, a handful of potatoes, and an onion, as that was what looked good enough to eat this week.
I'm really grateful I decided to learn to bake bread last year. Bread is flown in three times a week, but they still run out now and again; plus, it isn't typically the type I would normally buy. I now own a grain mill, and shipped enough wheat, oat groats, and other grains to last us at least a year. So, we aren't starving. We just don't eat as much meat, which is fine with me. I was actually eating almost no meat when I met Oliver, and kind of met him in the middle when it came to cooking after that. He's ok with being a little more adventurous because he doesn't want to pay twenty bucks for a small pack of ribs.
I'm also glad I cloth diaper. Diapers here run about $13 for the smallest size pack you can buy. They don't even carry the jumbos, which I remember paying $11 for in the commissary right before we moved. There are never sales on non-perishable stuff unless it's damaged. Yeah, diapering Oscar would have left us broke. Since our utilities are included, we are saving about $100 a month on diapers right now.
It's an adventure around here, that's for sure! When my mother-in-law called to tell me whose family we had this Christmas and ask what might be good presents for us this year, I told her to just send us some food. Especially some good dark chocolate.
Friday, October 23, 2009
I even remembered to bring my camera. I've forgotten it every other time we've gone. The boys ran for the water, and I pulled it out. I had just turned it on and was changing the settings when it flashed, "Battery Empty". So much for beach pictures yet again.
I'm actually not a big fan of this new camera. The pictures are not the greatest. We mostly bought it because we can do crazy things like snorkel with it, but I've been spoiled by my lost camera. The last time I checked, it was still being mailed to us via my mother-in-law. Here's hoping it finally gets here. I miss it!
So, back to the beach, sans photos. Our base is fairly small, but the beach is in one corner and our trailer is in the opposite corner. I've run the distance while out jogging, and it took me 25 minutes. Since we had to return the loaner golf cart and are still waiting on our car (more on that in a later post), our only choice was to walk it. So, we put Oscar in a stroller, then let Wyatt ride in the wagon with our beach gear, and we were off.
As it turned out, we didn't have to walk either way. One of the nice things about living here is everyone, whether they know you or not, are quick to offer you assistance. We were picked up by an MP on the way there, then managed to catch the base taxi (which is either a minivan or a three car golf cart and free to ride) right as we were leaving the beach. The walk there didn't bother me much, but I'm really glad the taxi driver was fine with how wet and sandy we were. We were tired, the kids were cranky and ready for dinner, and my swimsuit was soaking through my pants, making it look like I had a little accident. Both embarrassing and uncomfortable.
Despite the challenge of getting there, we have to go back soon; this is the first night Oscar has gone right to sleep since we've been here. He typically spends a good hour bouncing around his crib while Wyatt snores in his bed. He's also the first one up in the morning, even beating Oliver, so I'm not sure what's up with that kid.
Well, despite the lack of beach photos, I do have a few of the day our household goods arrived.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I ran across a blog today from an Army wife. The first post I read talked about how hard it was to sell their house due to a PCS. The next one was about the sweater she had just made for her first grandchild. I stopped reading then and thought, ugh. There's no way I want to still be dealing with PCSes when I have a grandchild on the way. Even if we decide to finish this thing, twenty years is it!
Posted by Ana at 22:45
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
So, right about the time I wrote my last post, I got a knock on the door. There was a man there who informed me our household goods had arrived and they would be dropping them off in twenty minutes. Needless to say, I was quite surprised; the last we'd heard, they hadn't shipped our HHGs from Washington until September 25th. We'd been bracing ourselves for a very long month without our stuff. Instead, we were happily overwhelmed with boxes and crates.
One interesting thing about living here is that when your stuff arrives, they don't unload it. So, we got to do that fun task by ourselves. Luckily, everyone here is quick to offer their help, and we had a couple sets of guys over two days that helped us with most of it. (We might have been able to do it all in one day, but they only delivered half our crates at first. We had to call and ask them to find the rest of them, which they did and delivered that evening.)
Now that we are close to being done setting up, we have found this place is both smaller and a tad challenging because it seems to have nothing but wire shelves in all the closets. Wire does not hold much. For the most part, that has worked out, but we shipped a couple thousand pounds of dry goods and canned food. We've had to get pretty creative in where we put it. Luckily, the kitchen has proven to be much larger than our townhouse, which is a huge plus for me, but I have been using extra space in the boys' bedroom to stack cases of canned goods.
Overall, though, everything is fitting just fine. I was worried for a bit because there just wasn't much space for all the boxes. For a couple days, our house was a maze of narrow pathways through the stacks of boxes. I left lights on at night so I wouldn't kill myself if one of the boys woke up and needed something. After we began unpacking in earnest, however, it became clear that amongst all the packing paper there really wasn't as much there as it seemed. I think this became clear to me when I unwrapped a large wad of paper and discovered two pieces of candy inside.
However, all that paper has done its job. Our stuff is here, no big mishaps or breakage, and in record time. I think it will be another week or two before we really finish setting up, but most of it is done. I was going to add a few pics, but didn't get past uploading them. Hopefully, I can make myself sit down to edit and add them tonight.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I was all set to order a set of Fiestaware baking bowls today. I found them on the AAEFES site for cheap. Since this is a military-run site that is FPO-friendly, I figured there would be no problem. It was after I was about to check out that I discovered they won't ship Fiestaware to an FPO. Sigh. I can tell this is going to be an on-going problem for the next three years. It's especially irritating because for us, it just goes to West Palm Beach, where it is then put on the puddle-jumper plane we flew on. Nothing complicated, like most overseas packages. However, there are no exceptions to where your address actually is.
So, I figured I'd use this post to ask a couple questions:
Anyone out there have a line on a decent APO/FPO friendly site? And when I mean friendly, I mean a site that doesn't charge more than the cost of the item just because you have to fill out a customs form. It costs the same to mail to an APO as it does to a U.S. address.
Anyone have any questions about our new home? I have quite a few myself, so I can't promise I'll be able to answer right away, but I'd love to focus a couple posts on answering them.
To answer one in the comments in my last post: Oliver has only gone to work a couple of days so he hasn't done much more than check-in, but so far so good. They have a lot of stuff going on this week, so he's going to get to monitor some helicopter action.
There's a helicopter pad on base, so we were able to watch one taking off yesterday. They boys were quite excited about that. We also got to see a few military planes fly over us on the way to the airport. This is definitely a great place for plane/helicopter/big ship sightings.
Monday, October 12, 2009
We've actually been here since Thursday, but have been spending time getting acclimated to our new home. It's a little weird moving here. Because the base is so small, it kind of feels like going to a new high school that started classes months before you arrived. To make matters worse, you have to wear a badge all the time (although a lot of people don't after they've been here a long time). Ours are yellow, temporary badges, so it's even more obvious that we are new. The first couple of days, I felt conspicious and stared at whenever I left the house, but that's starting to wear off now.
We flew in on a tiny, 20-passenger plane. The seats were placed two to a row, with an aisle between. The boys and I ended up in the last three seats, which were straight across the back. Behind us was a bulkhead separating us from our baggage. There is no bathroom on board, as they pointed out before we left the airport, so I'm glad Wyatt had to go before we left. It was a short flight, less than an hour, but a rather exciting one. I could see out of the cockpit for a lot of it, as they left the curtain open for all but the middle of the flight. When we are coming down, it had the feel of a rollar coaster ride. I never realized a plane moves up and down so much when landing. Yes, this is the same plane you will fly on if you ever come visit us, family and friends. If you are scared of flying, this might be an issue. If not, it's just an exciting part of the journey.
So far, I love it here. It's about as hot as it was in Florida, but with a nice breeze that makes it comfortable. We were sweltering in Orlando because the air never moved. We are living in a trailer. We'd been warned over and over not to take too much stuff because there was no storage. We got here and realized pretty much everything we owned would have fit just fine. Obviously, the people we talked to didn't realize how small our townhouse was! The main difference is we have no garage, but there is a shed out back to store bikes and outdoor things.
We do have three bedrooms, though. They are small, but I'm excited to have the opportunity to turn one into a playroom/guest room. There's really no room for a bed along with the boys' toys, plus place to play, but I think we'll put our hide-a-bed couch in there. The living room furniture that is already here is brand new, so I think we'll hang onto it. While we are technically living in a furnished house, we were told we could remove anything we don't want. I'd say that's about half the stuff here, including a very ugly fake plant in the living room. I'm glad we decided to ship a lot of our own stuff.
Golf carts are authorized to drive on base. We see more of them than we do cars. I have never seen so many different golf carts in my life. We drove past one a couple days ago that was decked out in blue camo. Here's a pic of our ride:
We plan on walking a lot until we can get our car down here, but for now we have a loaner golf cart. Wyatt is in love with this cart, and has already convinced his dad to give him a driving lesson. (I'm considering putting the video up, but will have to think about it.) He's going to be quite sad when he realizes we have to return it. As for Oliver, he wants one of these babies for himself. Preferably a souped up one, I'm sure. I think we'll just have to settle for getting our car here; ultimately, that will be cheaper.
I have a lot more to say, but I now have a two year old in my lap who is dripping oatmeal all over me, so I'll leave you with this picture:
Monday, October 5, 2009
Today was our last day in the main parks. We are going to hit up one of the water parks tomorrow before we leave, but that's it. We've had a ton of fun, were able to do nearly everything we wanted to do here, and discovered our boys are ride junkies.
My favorite memory was made on the Teacups in the Magic Kingdom. We all went together in one cup. I had Oscar on my lap, so Oliver did the spinning. And spin he did. I had foolishly left my sunglasses on my head and they were quickly sent flying away. I wasn't sure how the boys would like it, but they were laughing so hard. Oscar was laughing this full-on belly laugh of pure babyness that I hope I never forget. He was pretty upset when it was over.
Wyatt was tall enough to do a lot of the bigger rides. Even some I refused to go on. Oliver took him on the Tower of Terror in Disney's MGM Studios. Look that one up. My little four year old walked off that ride exclaiming, "That was awesome!", and talked about it off and on for the rest of the day. He said he didn't want to do it again, however.
So, tomorrow we head to West Palm Beach, then hop a plane to Andros. It's not going to really feel like home until our stuff catches up with us (everyone pray it doesn't actually take until November 14th to get there), but home it will be. I'm ready for a little stability, despite the fun times we've had.
I'm also a tad nervous, though. This is a big change, but the bigger issue for us is what we are going to do with the next three years. I was actually leaning toward staying Navy if Oliver could find his groove, but I recently ran into a news article that made it appear they are very seriously moving toward beginning the move toward putting women on submarines. I'll find a link and write a more indepth post about this when we are in Andros, but I've been disturbed by this ever since I read it. Add that to all the other reasons we don't love the military life, plus that fact that we really, truly, love being together and dread the whole deployment cycle, and staying in is becoming unpalatable. But that leaves us with this huge, scary transition ahead.
I know we are lucky than many others who face this. We have time on our hands, and a good shore duty that should allow Oliver to take a good chunk of classes. Still, though, there are so many unknowns. Staying in the Navy is the easy way out in some ways. It's all we've known our married lives. Oliver makes good money and has shown constant movement in rank. In only thirteen more years, we'd have a retirement check for the rest of our lives'. But, at what cost?
So, lots of things to think about. I hope we make good on our time in the Bahamas. I hope Oliver doesn't end up reenlisting just because we didn't. I hope leaving the Navy doesn't mean moving into a staid, predictable life that keeps us in one place forever. I hope when the time comes, we really, truly feel like we've made the right decision.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Today was a fun day. We hit up Epcot and the Magic Kingdom until closing. We went to take the Monorail back to Epcot so we could hook up with the ferry to take us to our hotel. Unfortunately, closing time turns Walt Disney World goers into crazed animals who push and shove to make the train. I am very glad we are here in October, and we opted not to do this last year in August. I can only imagine what a nightmare it gets in the summer. The parking lots here are massive, and we are only seeing a few of the lots filled at each park.
We did see Mickey, though. I meant to add the pic, but, um, yeah, I want to sleep more. Animal Kingdom tomorrow, I think.