Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Repeat after me.... D ~ O ~ N ~ E ~ DONE!!!!! ... with the movers that is!

As I was typing the last post about the pumpkin patch, the moving truck pulled up with our "found" crate! They unpacked it in a little over an hour and we are DONE!

A total of 5 boxes are missing... but in the scheme of things... we can never forget how blessed we are!

The girls went down for a nap and Joe and I got busy putting a few more things in place... it is all starting to come together. By the time Joe leaves to return to Canberra, we should be pretty settled. I simply need to organize a few curtains, hire a professional to hang a few excruciatingly heavy items on the wall, and finally sit back and relax... as much as a parent of 5 can!

Check out a few new pics from the inside...
Foyer before:

Foyer after:

Looking from office to the dining room across the foyer:

Master before:

Master after:

End of the hallway... I love family photos... can you tell??? : () )

The office... still needs some organizing, but it is now "functional".

... and last but not least, my little Jim Thompson elephant that has been traveling with me for the last 16 years has found his place!

Nestle and Hershey's Have Tried....

As well as every other major candy company; however Halloween has just not caught on worldwide! Soooooooooo.... when we pulled up to our local pumpkin patch yesterday, it was certainly a first for the youngest two judges!
Smart move for the month was going to the pumpkin patch on opening day ~ way in front of the crowds! Abby and Lilli only had to share all the fun with a few other children... a number that will grow to 4000 per day (we were told) as we get a bit deeper into October. Needless to say, it was hard for them to decide what to do... pet the bunnies, play on the John Deere tractor slide, go through the hay bale maze, run through the pumpkin fields, play in big huge boxes full of corn, roll through the truck bed full of cotton... oh the choices were endless! The two "littles" enjoyed each and every activity! Holly enjoyed the bunnies! I guess you are never too old for bunnies!
We ended the evening with a wheel barrow full of pumpkins for the front porch and an earlier bedtime than normal!
Enjoy the pics...
In the continuing saga of my "camera issue"... please notice how horrid the pictures are! These are from the camera that we purchased for Holly. It was not cheap. It is being returned. Anyone have a camera in the <$250 price range that they recommend... leave me a message please!

Monday, September 29, 2008

School Photos

The girls came home from school today with their "school photo proofs"... how do I choose???

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A WHOLE Week????

I can't believe it has been a WHOLE week since my last post! The old saying is correct ~ Time flies when you are having fun!

Joe is here and we have not stopped since his arrival! He arrived Friday night, only to depart on Saturday morning with Daniel for Atlanta and a Braves game. The Braves won and even more cool ~Daniel and Joe were on TV a half dozen times! On Sunday morning, Joe and Daniel met up with Joe's little brother Mike and his wife Courtney for a visit before heading back home.

Most exciting day of the past week... the 23rd... and Lilli turning 4! Lilli called it her "Happy Birthday Day". We celebrated quietly this year with dinner at Chik Fila (Lilli shares a love of my favorite restaurant!!! : ) YEAH!!!). Cake and presents followed at home. Lilli opened her presents very slowly, like she was savoring each and every second. She is such a neat girl... she even let Abby open one of her presents. Can you believe that Joe and I have two 4 year olds???

Most depressing day of the past week... when Joe and I received a call from USCIS and were told that Abby's paperwork was "different" because she was Muslim from a Muslim country. WHAT???? Discrimination. Plain and simple. Our sweet, Innocent, beautiful 4 year old daughter is being discriminated against. Joe and I have worked through the "chain of command" at Homeland Security and found that the woman who told us the above and also told us that Abby's file was "Dumped" on her desk and she was too busy... was a bridge inspector for 20 years in New Jersey. She now holds the power over immigration paperwork of young children. Abby's file has now been removed from her and will be processed in the Birmingham field office. We are in hopes that Abby will finally have a Certificate of Citizenship within the next 2 months. I am feeling as if we can see the light at the end of the tunnel... it is small and faint... but it is there! All I have to say is it has been one REALLY LONG tunnel!

As for the house...
Mold clean up is complete. We need simply to file our claim for damage and loss this week. I am so glad Joe is here and will help me fill out the heaps of paperwork that this claim requires. The POD that has been sitting in my driveway for over a month will be picked up and shortly be replaced with an in ground basketball hoop. Much better use of the space I do believe!
All boxes have been unpacked and all things have found a home... some temporary but most permanent! I took a nap today and when I woke up Joe had cleared the last 6 boxes and everything that was sitting "homeless" on the dining room floor! YEAH JOE!!!!

As for the "lost" crate from our Australian Shipment.... It is no longer lost!!! In fact, it is in storage about 30 minutes away and will be delivered on Tuesday. I will have a dining room table on Tuesday!!! I am thinking by Tuesday night that we will be completely unpacked! Only thing left to do is hang pictures! This is our 20th move with the US Army... It is also our last!

I have enjoyed our crazy life. I am looking forward to our settled life now! Just think... I can actually plant tulip bulbs in October and be here to watch them bloom and even multiply in the years to come!

Must run for now... check back for pictures! We bought Holly a small digital camera and I took some photos this week with it... but don't know how to get them from the camera to my computer... I need to slow one of the kids down long enough to learn!


Saturday, September 20, 2008

All is Right in "MY" World

Joe is HOME!!! Well, he was home... for about 14 hours! He has now departed for Atlanta with Daniel for the Braves game tonight. It was sooooooooooooooooooo hard for the rest of us to say goodbye after having him for just a few hours... but we know he will be back by lunch tomorrow!

We will enjoy every second of our 3 weeks... knowing that our separation is 1/4 DONE!!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oh My Back...

From this:

To this:

As you can see, our Australian shipment arrived! I have been working non stop since Tuesday morning to unpack and organize. I am down to 24 boxes! Joe will be home tomorrow.... I was hoping to have everything in it's place when he walked in our front door for the first time; however, now I have decided to let him help me! hahahaha! That is because I am running out of time!

You never know how much stuff you have until you move and you have to find a "new home" for each and every item! I am thinking GARAGE SALE right now!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Birthday Abundance

We have 2 birthdays this month. Daniel officially trades his preteen title for true teen status on the 18th and Lilli turns fabulous four on the 23rd!

Daniel opted for an adventure for his birthday present. We will depart for a road trip to Atlanta Saturday morning and catch the evening Braves game! We have field level tickets... near 3rd base... for the Braves vs. the Mets. First pitch is at 7:05.... I am sure Daniel and I will be the first ones in when they open the doors to Turner Field on Saturday afternoon.

We will spend the night in Atlanta, enjoy a yummy breakfast and head back home... just in time for JOE to land at the airport!!! YEAH!!!!

After much thought, Lilli has requested a Dora cake for her birthday. Sounds good to me!

She was surprised yesterday with a box from Grandma Judge and Aunt Diane... filled with birthday surprises! Funny how Lilli knows how to tear into a cardboard box with her name on it! I think that has something to do with the boxes that I sent to China over the year before we traveled!

One very cool item in the box is a stuffed pony .... one that the girls can ride! They are having a blast taking turns "riding" and "leading". Daniel even "tried it on" this afternoon ... but ran away when I took the camera out! Lilli says, "Thank you for my happy birthday" to Grandma Judge and Aunt Diane!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Team Work

We are still living in a mostly empty home. The mold cleanup is in full swing ~ the inside of the house completed and work in the garage well under way. All should be completed this week.
Hopefully our main shipment from Australia will be delivered next week. Until then, the girls are finding fun in the ordinary! Ordinary... such as folding our tablecloth this afternoon!
It takes a lot of effort for 2 tiny little girls to fold a huge table cloth... teamwork, giggles, bossy directions/demands, a rest, and an unfold to try it again (I think it was fine... it was just too much fun not to do it again!) .... and the job is finally done! Finally done after almost an hour of fun!
Notice how horrid my camera is/pictures are! Joe will hand carry the camera back to Australia (under warranty there) for a repair in October... we decided that the very strict customs agents in Australia might charge more for the camera to "arrive" in the country via the mail than the actual repair would cost. Until then... I am going to either have to break down and buy a new camera or live with really bad photos. what to do... what to do.....
GREAT NEWS this week.... We received Lilli's Certificate of US Citizenship! Yeah!
BAD NEWS this week... We received a Green Card allowing Abby to "legally reside" in the US for 5 years. WHAT???? I have called USCIS and of course this is a mistake. They did not even apologize. Gave me an email of the people that will "fix" the problem. That email ended up NOT being the correct office. I have now been given a "mailing address" of the correct office.
Why is dealing with USCIS so difficult? I have met so many Consular agents at many US Embassies and all are great folks! I just don't get it...
I am trying to find a phone number or email to the correct office that needs to "fix" this problem. I am hoping it will be resolved before the expiration of the green card... in 5 years!
In reality, they told me that it can take 45 days to correct any processing mistakes.
As they say in Korea ~ "I-GU" .... I bet you don't need a Korean Dictionary to understand the meaning of that phrase!!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lilli's Mexican, Chinese, Hawaiian, Vegetarian Taco

I cooked a small Mexican Feast for dinner ~ Tacos, Refried Beans, Corn, Rice, Nachos, and some fresh pineapple to finish off! YUMMY!

This is the second time I have cooked a Mexican meal since Lilli arrived home. The first time, she tried a little plain meat and told me how she "no like" beans, cheese, tortillas, nachos etc.

It has not been seven years, but WOW how her taste buds have changed! She loves everything with the exception of butter and corn now!

And... she loved dinner tonight because she was able to "build" her own taco! Art and Food all in one! So what did she build? A Mexican, Chinese, Hawaiian, Vegetarian Taco complete with meat, cheese, rice, pineapple, carrots, and broccoli! And.... she ate the WHOLE thing!!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How is it....

How is it that Lilli sees a toy commercial while watching Kai Lan this morning and she knows to say "I want that for Christmas Mommy". Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm....................

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Retail Therapy

Grocery shopping always makes me feel better. I know... strange, but I contribute this to being "deprived" for so many years while living overseas. So... it was off to the Super Target for some retail therapy yesterday.
As I walked down the bread isle, and then through the fresh produce section I started feeling a bit better. By the time I reached isle number 7 and the overflowing shelves of breakfast cereal, I was in fact a bit cheery!
As my dad says, life is never so bad that it can't be worse....
As I pushed my bright red cart with a bad front wheel toward the checkout, something in the ladies' department caught my eye. A trenchcoat! Ever since Tim Gunn's Guide to Style made its debut in Australia, I have had this sinking feeling that my wardrobe was not complete as I did not own the perfect trenchcoat. Definitely an essential says Tim Gunn and his former super model sidekick.
So... for 39$ I decided to go for it... and go for it big! I bought the BRIGHT PINK trench coat. Now... granted, there is no rain in the ten day forecast for my new hometown... nor any remotely cool weather; but I am READY! and smiling!!!!!