Posts Tagged With: moving

Where do I begin?

I knew February was going to be insane, and I tried to plan for it.  I didn’t plan well enough.  February was INSANE.  March hasn’t been much saner.

A quick run down on the move and what’s been going on.

  • Two days before we left Finland, I picked Baby J up from daycare and was informed that several of the kids had chicken pox.  (Finland doesn’t vaccinate for it, FYI)
  • We flew to the US on January 30th.  The trip was okay – we were able to upgrade to Business Class.  Hello, lay flat seats!  It was very nice, quite comfortable, and it was great having a “bed” to lay Baby J on.  He took 3 decent naps on our transatlantic flight – if we had been in Economy, his naps would have been shortened because he wouldn’t have been able to get comfortable.  So yeah, that upgrade was totally worth it.
  • We had ordered cars from Volvo to meet us stateside through their expat program.  Mine was due to arrive on February 1st, but it was delayed.  Not going to get into all that at this time, but suffice to say, I am quite unhappy with Volvo right now.  Anyway, we were supposed to get one car, then drive to see family in Texas and Arkansas.  We didn’t get a car until  February 10th, so our road trip was delayed a week.  During that week, we received our household items from the US (that had been in storage for four years while we were gone) and unpacked most of that.
  • We did a road trip from February 11-19.  Baby J got chicken pox the day we left.  We got to see some family, but not everyone we wanted to see, thank you very much  Highly Contagious Disease.  Poor baby was miserable for about 3 days, but then it was better.  Luckily, he’s not quite old enough to realize that scratching made the itchiness feel better, so all he would do is sit there and squirm.  Small favors.
  • On February 22 our goods from Finland arrived.  Stephen was back at work, and my mom had come to help out through February 26th.  We unpacked more boxes, piled stuff on counters and tables, tried to get through as much as we could.
  • My car finally arrived on March 4th, then Baby J started getting what we thought was carsick – he managed to christen both new cars.  But then I came down with a stomach bug and was down for the count for two days, so we figured that’s what Baby J had.  Then when I was better, Stephen got it, then actually ended up in the hospital last week, spent 2 days there.
  • And this week, Baby J got sick and started having breathing issues again, so I took him to the doctor on Wednesday to make sure he got diagnosed and treated properly with a new doctor.  He’s been getting breathing treatments three times a day since then, which take about 10 minutes each.

I’m exhausted.

I still have a pile of linens that were in storage that need to be washed, I still need to sort through most of the kitchen stuff, the office is a complete wreck, and there are still about 10 boxes that need to be unpacked (not including the 6 boxes full of DVD/CD cases that we’re not bothering to unpack).

And, we’ve started looking for a new house – we are in a six month rental right now.  So we have to move everything again in a few months.  I’m desperately trying to reduce our inventory before then.

So I haven’t been blogging.  I haven’t been working on the new podcast I started.  I haven’t really had the equipment to do it until recently, anyways, and now I just lack quiet time without a two year old asking for more food (the bottomless pit).  Baby J will be starting part time daycare in April, so if I can just survive two more weeks without life going sideways – again – I might get some things accomplished.

Meanwhile, this conversation happens:

  • Stephen:  “You really need to-“
  • Me:  “I really need to do a lot of things right now, and whatever you were about to suggest is probably on my list.  Do you really want to go there?”

I have a bunch of thoughts on the move and acclimating back to US customs.  But that’s a post for another day.

How have you been?

Categories: Random | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Plans for January

2016 is, unfortunately, front loaded.  If you read my last post, I have a lot of plans for this year, and I’ve already been working on about half of them.

  • The Big Move!

It’s three weeks away, and I can’t tell you how excited I am.  There’s a lot to do, though – packing up the house here, finding a house there, planning a long road trip to see family almost immediately (three days) after we get back.  We’ll be living out a suitcase for about three weeks.  Once we get back from the road trip, we’ll have a house and some of our stuff – the stuff that’s been in storage for four years (which we’ll need to sort through – ugh).  We’ll have to wait another three weeks for our stuff from Finland to arrive (which includes most of Baby J’s toys, almost all of my office/writing stuff, and the other items that have made our house a home for the last four years).  So February and half of March will be discombobulated as we wait to really get settled.

  • 30 Day Challenge:  Organize!

I think this is actually the one that made me come up with the idea of doing a different challenge every month.  With The Big Move coming up, I needed a way to get through the house, and I was looking for a simple “organize one thing a day” plan. I used this one from Milk and Cuddles, and modified it to suit my needs.  I actually started around December 20, so it’s more than 30 days, but January will be cut somewhat short (probably about five days) due to packing and moving, and I missed some days around Christmas.  Plus, I needed the time!  Things are progressing nicely, though, and I’ve already gone through most of the house.  A lot of things have been moved into the office for further sorting and cleaning out, so I’m working my way through that now.

  • 30 Day Fitness Challenge – Strong Knees!

My knees are pretty bad, so when I found this 30 Days to Stronger Knees Challenge, I knew this was where to start, especially if I wanted a good base for the rest of the year.  Like with the 30 day challenge, I had to keep The Big Move in my mind as I planned this – since some of the equipment needed will be packed up prior to the end of January, I decided to start a few days early.  (That’s also why this challenge got done first, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do it until April, since the equipment would be in transit.)  So far it’s going well, I haven’t missed any days yet.  I don’t know that my knees are stronger yet, but I’ll let you know at the end of the month!

  • Start a Podcast!

Podcast has been started!  It’s a writing podcast, so if you’re a writer (or are just looking for a writing prompt) or if you know a writer, please share!  It’s called The Writing Promptcast, and it’s a writing practice within a podcast, using word prompts, giving you no excuses about finding the time or inspiration.  Check it out!

  • Use a bullet journal

You guys, this has changed my life.  I first heard the term “bullet journal” about six weeks ago, while listening to a podcast about a TV show.  I didn’t pay it any attention.  Then, while browsing (read: wasting time on) Pinterest, I ran across several posts about it, and started looking into it.  I am the worst about “keeping” multiple journals…and by that, I mean starting a notebook about one thing or another, writing five pages, and putting it aside.  (This notebook is all about photography.  This notebook is where I’ll keep all the stuff about the move.  This notebook….  Ugh!)  The bullet journal puts all that stuff into one notebook, and typing that it sounds like a serious no-brainer, but I love it!  I’m still adjusting my format some, as I use it and see what works for me and what doesn’t, but two weeks in I’m a convert.  (That’s the other great thing, it’s totally customizable.  Some people are way artsy with theirs, others are bare bones.  If you need a page to keep track of blog post ideas, recipes, books to read, movies to see, whatever, you just make that page yourself and move on.  Do your own thing!)

  • Work on “finding myself”

If you read my blog post from a few weeks ago, I talked about how I’m really having an identity crisis lately, so something I wanted to do this year was take a look at who I am, what I want, and what I need to do to feel comfortable with myself again.  I’ve found a couple of questionnaires online, all about finding yourself, and I know it sounds kind of hokey, but I feel like I need it.

  • Do morning pages

I had really wanted to start this one off as a 30 day challenge, but I also wanted to get on it ASAP.  So instead of making it a monthly challenge, I decided to do it on top of everything else.  So far…I’m not loving it.  But I’m trying to give it a chance.  I think that once I start working on one of my novels again, it will be a great place to work through some story problems, but for the moment, it’s a cross between a daily journal, a writing journal, and a to-do list, with a lot of “I don’t know what to write” thrown in.

  • Write a short story a month

As a part of the Podcast, I started a story challenge, and it’s only right that I craft a story myself.  I should also add to my writing plans for 2016 that I want to work on enjoying writing again.  So this is part of it.  No end goal of being published, just writing for the fun of it.  Remembering why I used to love it so much.

  • Books I’m currently reading (2 of 16)

Finishing up a couple of books I started in 2015:  The Spice Necklace and Bet Me.  I need to finish The Spice Necklace before the move, because it’s in print and I’m close enough to the end that I don’t want to put it in my suitcase because I’m two chapters from the end.  So I need to finish it in time to box it up to be shipped back.  Hard deadline on that one.  Bet Me is in e-book format, so I have a little more leniency there.  Still, I expect to finish both by the end of this week.

  • Get my email cleaned out and organized.

I currently have 100 email accounts.  Okay, that’s an exageration.  It’s only 15.  But I’m working on getting it down to 5 (one of them is for Baby J).  I’ve narrowed down the ones I plan on using, and as I sign up for new things I’m using one of these 5, but I still need to change all my current online accounts, as well as notify friends and family.  This may take a while…

  • I really wanted to start sending birthday cards this month, but with everything else, it’s just not going to happen.  Or it might, who knows.  No promises.

So, like I said, my plans for the year are pretty heavily front-loaded.  I hope it doesn’t hamper my progress.  I’m trying to figure out how February is going to work with everything, since we will literally be nomads for much of the month, living out a suitcase.  I just keep telling myself, it’s basically like the last two (10-day) vacations we’ve taken.  It won’t be as bad as I’m making it out to be, I’m just stressing.  My mental reminder:  They’re just plans.  Plans are meant to be changed.

How is your January going?



Categories: Random | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Our (barely) furnished apartment in Finland

With the move to Finland, the company provided us with a furnished apartment.  We finally moved in last week, and after living in a hotel for six weeks it was good to have a home again.

With so many ex-pats here, apartments are hard to come by.  We saw one place right after we got here, available immediately – a one bedroom right on the sea, with a front yard, in an area that we were sure would be gorgeous come summer.  But it was about 3km from town – not all that far, certainly, unless you consider I would have to walk 6km round trip to go to the grocery store.  We wanted to be closer in to town, so we chose a 2 bedroom apartment, but it wouldn’t be available for a month (last week).

Technically, yes, it is a furnished apartment.  But barely.  A bed, a couch, a coffee table, a sitting chair, a desk and chair, a kitchen table and four chairs, a nightstand, another small side table, and assorted dishes, glasses, and other kitchen supplies.

And really bad drapes.

But, we have a great view from the 6th floor, overlooking the football (soccer) field (and some factories in the distance).  You know how they say it’s the smog that gives LA such beautiful sunsets?  I think the smoke plumes from the factories on the coast give us great sunsets.

I wanted to do before and after shots of the apartment, because it looks so depressing in the before shots, but it’ll be a few more weeks before the after shots happen, so I’ll go ahead and share.

Entering the apartment - a long wide hallway to the living room.

In the living room looking back to the front door.

Big master bedroom - big window to the left, built in wardrobe to the right.

The kitchen. Window to the left, very little counter space, no dishwasher (but big draining cabinet - more on that later).

The second bedroom - very small, no closet space, so definitely more of an office.

The balcony

The football (soccer, for Americans) field across the street (Photo taken from balcony)

Sunset view

Categories: Finland | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Our move to the nursing home

It’s been a fairly uneventful week, but I guess I do have some news to share.  We found an apartment!  But it won’t be available until mid-March, so we resigned ourselves to living in a hotel for another month.  However, the company evidently wasn’t keen on continuing to pay 140€/night for the hotel, so they forced us to move…into an assisted living facility.

Oh, how I wish I was joking.

Actually, it’s not bad.  This is a private facility, which means they don’t have enough residents to fill the place up, so they rent out rooms to fill the space.  I’m not sure how many other younger people are currently staying here, because I’ve only seen two people in the five days we’ve been here – both elderly women.  It’s pretty quiet around here.

Other than a certain…smell…it’s actually a really nice place.  We basically have a studio apartment, quite roomy, with plenty of closet space and floor space, and a comfy sofa.  We also have a small kitchenette, refrigerator, microwave, and access to a washer and a dryer.  Yay!  I’ve been able to cook again, which has been lovely – we haven’t eaten out for dinner in several days now.  But when we do go out, we can bring home leftovers and heat them up!  Let me tell you, you think you’d like eating out all the time, but trust me, it gets old fast.

I spent the last two days doing laundry, because it takes two hours to wash clothes, and another two hours to dry.  But all of our clothes are now clean.  Very happy.  When we sent the clothes out to be cleaned at the hotel, everything came back with this sticker on them – a hard, plasticky sticker that was quite difficult to remove.  The sticker on the jeans and Stephen’s undershirts were okay, but it pulled off some fluff on one of my fleece pullovers, and they placed the sticker right on the seam of each sock, so I ended up pulling out several seams.  In other words, I paid 73€ to ruin some clothes.  I was NOT happy about that, and was not looking forward to sending everything out again, so it was a huge relief to move here and be able to do my own wash.

Listen to me, complaining about not being able to cook or do laundry…

The one thing we don’t like about this place is the bathroom.  It’s large enough, with plenty of space, and the water pressure, as usual, is wonderful, but there’s no shower curtain.  When you shower, everything gets wet – including the toilet.  We’ve had to place a designated cloth to wipe down the toilet after the shower, otherwise the next person who sits gets a wet surprise.  And, really, who wants a wet surprise when they sit on the toilet?  We’re going to get some sort of shower curtain to place between the shower and the toilet, and hopefully that will help.

Open shower = wet toilet

We still have individual twin beds, and we both miss cuddling at night.  But, these beds make up for it by being adjustable!  Stephen and I get a good laugh out of propping ourselves up, him to watch TV, me to cross-stitch.  We figured that would be us in forty years, but not quite yet!

Another European thing I’ve found…they don’t have washcloths here.    I am a big washcloth person – I generally use one each day.  Not having any has been hard to adjust to.  I went to Ikea the other day and bought some .50€ handtowels, cut them in half, and am working on sewing the cut seams on all of them.  Necessity is the mother of invention….  They won’t be the prettiest thing ever, but I don’t care.

"Homemade" washcloths

I haven’t taken many pictures this week, because when I’ve gone for a walk, I’ve gone to the store and back.  Not a lot to see along the way.  But hopefully some more pictures soon.

Categories: Finland | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The waiting game

Hubster and I are excited about the Finland move, and we want to get going already.  We have a ton of stuff we need to do before the move, but we can’t do any of it until we have a Move Date.  And we won’t have a Move Date until the visa paperwork goes through.  Which we’re still waiting on.

It’s been almost five weeks since it arrived at the embassy, and we are simply itching to get word on it being approved.  I’m getting a bit nervous that maybe there’s an issue with the applications – maybe that C I made in Science in college is coming back to haunt me.

Hubster is supposed to be on the job site February 1.  Today is January 17.  Between now and being in Finland, we need to make a trip to see our families, which will take 6-7 days, throw a going away party, get my hair cut, and finalize all the other stuff before we go.  We’ll also need to have packers in, perhaps two separate sets, to pack our stuff for either moving or storage.

That’s a lot to do in a short amount of time.  Even if we knew for sure we were leaving on January 29th, it would be a lot to do from now.  But we have no idea when we can leave – and we don’t want to plan on January 29th and have it be February 27th.

One might ask, Why not?  Why not go ahead and do everything, and if you leave later it will already be done.  Well…

  1. If I quit my job now, then we don’t leave for another month, that’s a month’s pay that would have been nice to have.
  2. We could take the animals to the parental units now, but we’re also dropping off a car to sell, and at that point we’ll be down to one car.  That might make things a little more complicated.
  3. I want to wait as long as possible to get my haircut – plus, since we’re in limbo and will be jumping at a moment’s notice, I don’t want to schedule something too much further out than…tomorrow.
  4. Same goes for the going away party – see number 3.  Plus, it seems weird to have a party, then be around for possibly another month…

I’ve been looking online – self-diagnosing the visa applications, if you will.  I’ve seen some visas get approved in two weeks, and others take six months.  As usual, self-diagnosing has made me more anxious about everything, and I just want it DONE.  Like NOW.

Dear Finnish Embassy,

Please approve our visa/resident permit applications, and let us know they’ve been approved.  We promise to respect your country and its rules, and we promise we’re not moving there to abuse the system.  We have health insurance, and a good source of income, and plenty of savings, and we promise we don’t intend to overstay our welcome.  We promise to at least attempt to learn your language, although we appreciate your understanding that we may never be fluent.  Please ease my anxiety and give us a sign.  Kiitos!

Categories: Finland | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Stuff you can live without

A year ago, if you had told me I would now be married and moving to Europe I would have asked what you were taking.  But that’s exactly where I am.  I met the most marvelous man in March, we got married last month, and by next month we’ll be expats living in Finland.

I just keep wondering how I managed to rack up such huge Karma points…

The last couple of months have been a whirlwind, and I won’t be able to truly stop and take stock until February sometime.  I spent all of November planning the wedding – and it was beautiful.  At the same time, I was trying to clean out my condo and get it ready for rental, and we were both having to make decisions and prep things for The Big Move.  Since the wedding, we’ve both been sick, I had a big yard sale and got rid of a TON of stuff, and we’ve done some maintenance work to the condo.  It’s now finally ready to rent out.  But we can’t rest yet!  We still need to do some maintenance work on the house, and some more prep work for moving.  Buying the right clothes, deciding what to take and what not to take, worrying over bank accounts and international issues and when we’re going to get the all clear on the visas.  Getting our beloved fur babies to their adoptive homes.  Planning a going away party.  People keep asking us if we’re going out to Finland for a house-hunting trip before The Move, but we can’t – we currently don’t even have passports, they’re at the Finnish Embassy!!

It’s truly interesting when you have that moment of clarity regarding your stuff.  When I first moved in with Hubster, it was just a trial to see how the furbabies got along, then we decided to continue living together.  I went over to my place a couple times a week, each time picking up stuff I needed.

It’s amazing how much you have that you don’t need, when it really comes down to it.  I would look around my condo and think, I don’t need anything.  Wow, I have a lot of crap.  Then I started looking around with an eye on what I wanted, wanted enough to pack into storage for two years.

There wasn’t a lot of that stuff, either.

It’s not a bad little exercise.  Pack your house up as if you’ll be putting everything in storage for two years.  Determine what you really want to keep so badly that it should go into storage, and what you need so badly you’ll be taking it with you.  Then think about it this way – if you can live without it for two years, chances are you can live without it for five, ten, or twenty years.  So get rid of it, let it go, free yourself from the stuff.

Do it now.  It’s amazing how much lighter you’ll feel.

*Not* my house. But almost...




Categories: Random | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

Blog at