Friday, August 29, 2008

What Will the Neighbors Think....

... when the Haz Mat team arrives on Tuesday morning to begin the cleanup process? I keep picturing my neighbors peering out of their windows on Tuesday wondering what their new neighbor is up to.... could it be a trouble making Desperate Housewife has moved into THEIR neighborhood? It is a funny thought... what would you think if you saw a Haz Mat Team arrive at your neighbors house tomorrow morning.... hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... I would think the worst... it would also scare me.

Seriously, our storage shipment that was delivered the first of August has been declared a Bio Hazard. It is covered in mold and mildew. The claims office finally arranged for a mold/mildew expert to inspect yesterday and the first words out of his mouth were "Hello Mrs. Judge, please get your children out of the garage now". He left after an hour giving me strict instructions to stay out of the garage and to not touch anything.

So... I was trying to pretend that everything was not this bad. I was trying to tell myself that I would be able to salvage a few things that mean so much. This will not be the case. Everything from the shipment has to be "double bagged" in special disposal containers and removed by a special team to a special location. Our new home will then be deep cleaned and chemically treated for any mold spoors left behind. The kids and I will have to move out while this process is taking place.

They will test after the cleaning and we have requested that they retest in 12 months to ensure that the cleaning really "took".


I am really too overwhelmed to feel much emotion over this. Honestly, when my mom and I were unpacking the boxes, we would only last a few hours a day before we were overtaken with headaches and body aches. We stopped each afternoon to a glass of tea and a handful of Excedrin. I was thinking all along that it was the stress of the whole thing. Nope... it was the mold making us sick.

I keep telling myself that we are only loosing "things". Objects that are not important. But I know this is not true. They are only things... but some things mean a lot. Joey's baby blanket, Daniel's wooden antique highchair, and Holly's dolls among other things. These mean something. If they did not, I would have not kept them and I would have not left in the US for safe keeping.

I am just as upset with the fact that our shipment from Australia is ready for delivery and can not be delivered until the cleanup/treatment is finalized. Enough of living out of suitcases as we have for nearly 2 months.

Day by Day... that is how I am looking at this. I am dealing with today right now and will worry about tomorrow in the morning.


On another note.... please keep my family and friends in southern Louisiana in your thoughts and prayers. They do not need any bad weather but it appears as if that is just what they are going to get.

My parents have decided to stay with us until the storm has dissipated. I also have a few more family members that will join us tomorrow afternoon. Wish they were coming under better circumstances.

That is all folks... I am so tired I am falling asleep at the "wheel"... or keyboard!!!

Good night!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mutual Influence

Abby is teaching Lilli many many new things! It is cool to watch as they interact and Lilli shadows her big sister (by 8 months). But... the influence is a two way street with these two!
Lilli is also teaching Abby a few things. Among those is to be brave and a bit more adventurous and... drum roll.... twirly twirly dresses are pretty cool after all!

To be completely honest; in the beginning it was clear that the "idea of Lilli" was much better for Abby than the "reality of Lilli". Over the last 5 months, that is no longer a true statement. The girls are amazing together!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Without a Playroom FULL of Toys...

What do little ones do without an entire playroom full of toys? They use their imaginations!

They make believe that the top and bottom of a puzzle box are princess crowns and then Broadway hats! pictures aren't looking so good these days. Waahhhhhhhh! My camera broke... the same shutter problem that I just paid nearly 300$ to fix a few months back. Wahhhhhhhhh! Joe is going to take the camera back to Australia with him after his visit next month and attempt to have it repaired again by the same folks under the warranty of the repair. I can't believe that I paid so much to have it repaired by SONY and not just any camera shop! Obviously it wasn't repaired properly.

I might be camera shopping pretty soon... any suggestions, leave me a message in the comments below!

PS... What does a mom do when the kids are all asleep and her hubby is on the other side of the world and the house is empty.... join NETFLIX!!!

What have Joe and I been missing out on while living on the other side of the world for so long????? I am the queen of late charges... last time we lived in the USA, our local blockbuster added a wing and named it after me! NO MORE! I think this is such a brilliant idea! It is amazing how fast the turn around is on DVDs. Our local ship center is in Birmingham. The turnaround is literally 3 days. I mail a DVD back on Monday. They receive it on Tuesday morning and the Post Lady is placing a new movie in my mailbox on Wednesday afternoon... just in time for the littles' nap time! I am catching up on all the Grey's Anatomy, The Office, Lost, Army Wives, Lipstick Jungle, etc etc that I missed out during the last few years!

Full Circle Moment... I Do Believe....

The boys and my dad worked very hard this weekend cleaning the playground in our backyard... definitely a HUGE BONUS with the house! Before we moved in, the spiders and ants took up residence in the slide along with a few other critters and a lot of dirt.

With all the low hanging branches removed by the lawn service folks last week, the only thing needed was some serious elbow grease. So... armed with some bleach, a pressure washer, a scrub brush, and some muscle... the work began. You can see the before and after pics above. I have special ordered some new shade "thingys"... what do you call those???... and when I install them the playground will be good as new! The boys did a GREAT job!!!!

The hard work was completed yesterday evening, but the play set was way too wet to enjoy. The girls woke up extra early this morning and headed straight to the backyard. They were loving their "park". They have decided to name it... as all parks have names Abby tells me. What did they name it... Luna Park. Named after a very fun old fashioned theme park in Sydney, Australia.

They played for hours. As I called them in to take a bath and get ready for the day, Lilli informed me with sheer joy that she had seen the most beautiful ladybug with huge black spots. Full Circle Moment... I do believe!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Olympic Inspiration

We have enjoyed watching the Olympics at the Judge house! Daniel has decided that he should return to swimming after watching Phelps do amazing things in the water!
And as for the littles... hmmmmmmm... wonder what event they are interested in:

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Running Around Town

We have been unusually busy running around town trying to get settled. First was the house and school and now selecting doctors and dentists and fun stuff like that. The girls spend a lot of time in the back of my car!

This afternoon Abby made me chuckle! I guess she has run one too many errands and she informed me that she wanted to go back to the America where she plays in the sprinkler every day and gets to relax.... "that" America being my parent's house! I guess Alabama America is too much work!!! : () )

Our Household Shipment has Finally left Australia

After over one month of sitting at an Australian Air Force Base North of Sydney in a town called Richmond, our household goods have finally been loaded on a plane bound for the US of A! YEAH! We will be surrounded by our things soon! I am so excited... but that does not mean I won't make a post when it all arrives wishing we did not own so much junk that I had to find a "home" for in our new "home"!!!

Until then, we live in a almost empty home with the exception of the few items we were able to salvage from the storage shipment that was a mess and some odds and ends that I have purchased because we could not live without them! hehehehe! My mom made a comment last night that the kitchen almost looks like someone actually lives in the home!

Here are a few pics... notice we are ready for Halloween... a bit early! Could not pass up the cute pumpkins and sweet witch! And seeing as we only have a few things... they are not going in a closet until next month! So... Happy Halloween a bit early from the Judge Family!

Also in the pictures... Daniel's bedroom... we managed to save his beds and dresser from the storage shipment. There is a bit of damage on the dresser, but a good wood worker should be able to fix that right up! The girls are sitting on their mattresses... soon their room will be beautiful and pink!

My kitchen table set was missing two chairs when it arrived and the seats were covered in mildew. So... I just recovered the seats really quick (still actually missing a few screws) and added a few inexpensive stools to the ends to give us enough seating for now. What was crazy is the hutch that is in the breakfast area that matches the table and chairs arrived with no legs. Seriously... no legs anywhere in the shipment. I was crushed as this piece, although not worth much monetarily, is worth millions in sentimental value as it is one of the first pieces of furniture that Joe and I ever purchased together. Anyway... the day after the storage arrived.... and many tear later (most about the hutch legs) I received a phone call from Miami, Florida. The gentleman on the phone asked if I was missing 4 table legs. I actually started to say no and hang up... what kind of crazy was calling me?????... then I realized what he was saying! The moving company had delivered my legs to him by mistake... all the way from Delaware! How did they get to Miami instead of Alabama? Who knows.... All I know is the nice man wrapped them up, put them in a box, and shipped them to me that same day. So... our hutch is intact... legs and all!

The laundry room is actually my favorite room in the house at the moment! Funny how exciting it was for me to pick out a new washer and dryer! You see... long ago, Joe came with a washer and dryer when I married him. Since then, we have been under the care of many US Embassies that also come with appliances specific to the countries that we were living in! This is really my very first washer and dryer... and that was very exciting to me! These Samsung beauties make doing laundry for a family of seven fun fun fun! Not really... but it is very simple now and not time consuming at all!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Taking a Moment to Enjoy the Backyard

The older kids are all in school now. All 3 came home with smiles on their faces and lots of stories to tell yesterday afternoon. I am one relieved mother ~ that they are starting a routine and have had a great start!

Our shipment from Australia departed while I slept last night. It was packed over a month ago but has sat in limbo at an Australian Airbase waiting for a US Military plane to pick it up... along with the shipments of quite a few other families I would imagine! So... once it hits US soil... an Air Force Base in California, it should be to us within a few weeks! YEAH!

My parents bought Joe and I a nice all weather patio set as a housewarming gift. Yesterday we had a quiet day that included enjoying the patio set, the cool (86 degree high) weather, and watching the littles enjoy their new backyard patio!

A huge "Thanks" to Aunt Elaine, Uncle Scott, and Ashley for visiting us so soon! Yeah!!!! And for the fun elephant sprinkler and sidewalk chalk! They are both being put to great use!!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

You Know its Bad When....

... the government sends a representative to your home 30 minutes before the movers arrive to prepare you for what you are about to see. This is what happened to me this past Thursday.

Our "Storage Shipment" that has been packed away and in the hands of the government since we departed the US many many years ago was due to be delivered to the house on Thursday morning. It didn't arrive and when I called, I knew something was "up". I demanded that it be delivered ~ even if they had to do it at midnight. I fussed, I cried, I threatened, and I begged... and finally I was told, "OK, this afternoon at 3:00pm". At 2:30, the government inspector knocked on my door. He was shaking his head as I answered the door. He proceeded to tell me that he was informed that our shipment was nearly a 100% loss. There had been a flood and a building collapse... where? when? how? I was never told. I was just told to prepare myself.

Joe and I thought we were "ahead". Our storage shipment contained the 3 older kids' bedroom sets ~ all pretty darn new upon going into storage. Our kitchen table, chairs, and hutch and a few beautiful rosewood pieces that we had custom made in Thailand to pass to Joey and Holly one day as a reminder of their birth country ~ we thought we were ahead.

I tried to be tough ~ it is of course only things... all of which can be replaced. But I cried ~ to Joe over long distance ~ to my parents ~ to the kids ~ and to the poor inspector that was looking desperately for a way out of my house! : () )

So the trucks pulled up and yes... our shipment was in no way close to what it was when I signed the original papers and watched the movers load it onto the truck in early 2000. 63 boxes are missing... what is left is in disarray.

It will take a month or more for me to go piece by piece and fill out the paperwork necessary for the government to offer me 20% of the depreciated value of my memories... the table and chairs that was the first major purchase that Joe and I made together... Daniel's high chair... Holly's barbie car... pictures... etc etc. I am sad.


Tomorrow is August 6th and Daniel and I will leave the house at 7am sharp to make sure he is not late for the first day of school. We attended open house for all the new 7th graders and he feels pretty good... but he is still a bit nervous! Understandable as I would be crazy nervous!

The older kids must wait until we are called by the High School Counselor to set up their schedules. We should receive the call in the next few days and they should start school no later than Monday.

We are all impressed with how nice and helpful all the staff at the local schools have been. Alabama is a bit "odd" with the necessary paperwork for school enrollment... but luckily with a few emails, a lot of good information, a fed ex package or 2, a few prayers, and lots of running around we finally met all requirements for enrollment this afternoon. YIKES! Talk about cutting it close! : () )

I need to close for now and go to bed as we will start very early in the morning! Cheers!