The Next Chapter ...

Early this morning I heard the soft tap, tap, tap on the hotel room door. A sound I was anxiously awaiting. An arrival that was long overdue. I knew he was coming. I just didn't tell the girls.

The flight landed an hour earlier than expected. It usually does. Though this time it was bittersweet, as with our jet lag, I knew there was no way I could get everyone up and dressed and dragged to the airport hours before the sun rises.

It's been a year. A year filled with change. With challenges. With accomplishments. With love. There were moments when it felt like the year would never end. There were days and weeks when it felt like it was flying by so fast my head was spinning.

I answered the door this morning to the weariest of travelers. One who has spent the last thirty hours making his way home. To his new home. And family. Who couldn't be any more excited to finally have him back.

It has been equally tough for him to be away from his family. Long hours. Seven-day work weeks. Months in between R & R trips. Everyone concentrated on how I was doing, yet often forgot that it wasn't exactly a picnic for him either.

For the first time in 364 days we don't have to look at a calendar and worry about a count down or missing a moment. Instead, we have the final walk through and inspection on our brand new house. We have the opportunity to finally relax for a few days before the the chaos of the movers, the boxes, the mess sets in. We have new memories to build together in Virginia.

Today we are closing one door and opening another ...


Hello Virginia!

Your newest residents have finally arrived.

So let's just sum up our travel day with two words ... "It's Over."

After being used as a human jungle gym, a napkin, and a bed for the 4 hour, 40 minute flight, I was more than ready to land. Probably not as much as the people around us who had to endure the multiple fits, the jumping, the shushing, the walking the aisles, and the bickering coming from row 31. But at least they were friendly. And helpful ... as I needed someone to carry my bags when Grady insisted on being carried off the plane in one of his epic fits.

Now we're here. Our bags made it in one piece. And better yet, I even managed to sweet talk the United agent into waiving the baggage fees ($240) when I pulled out my travel orders and told her we were moving.

But the icing on the cake? Having our dear friends, who we've known since Oman, deal with the dead battery in my car just prior to picking us up at the airport. One issue I actually didn't have to deal with myself!!! How's that for timing?

Not only that ... They washed the car. Put gas in it. Took us out to dinner. They even left us with a large gift bag of snacks and goodies ... and the all important bottle of wine. Holy rockin' friends!

Eight days until we close on the house ...

Nine days until the movers start delivering our stuff ...

Ten days until we move in ...


Stick A Fork In Me ...

... because I am DONE with packing.

Oh, don't misread that I'm actually done packing ... I'm just done with packing. There IS a difference.

For the third time in five weeks I am packing up our eight suitcases and 4 carry-ons. An insane amount of cr*p that I'm stuck schlepping around because the movers decided to condense our pack-out into one day. Remember?

However, this time, I'm packing for the BIG move. The one that has us leaving California and finally becoming Virginia State residents.

In between the packing and organizing, I'm working with 3 different moving companies to have our 3 shipments of "stuff" delivered to us starting the day after we close on the house. A small feat considering each company has their own set of contractors who they have to contact to secure the dates we want ... during prime moving season.

Thankfully, with just minor complications, every delivery is now confirmed.

And my Land Rover? Sitting safe and sound at my friend's house as we speak.

And our mortgage? Moving along with the underwriter.

In all, a process that is slowly coming together, piece by piece, at the very last possible minute. Though, should I have expected anything different?

Wish me luck and sanity tomorrow ...

... that all our bags make it there in one piece

... that Grady somewhat sits quietly on the plane

... that no child has a colossal meltdown in the airport

... that the passengers around me offer help rather than criticism

... and when we arrive in Virginia, that I don't look like I need my friend (who's meeting me at the airport) to bring me more than one cocktail ...

Two at the most.


Mini Me(s) ...

We all know that Grady looks identical to Matt ... thus proving that I was solely the vessel.

Left - Circa 1973 ... Right - Circa Oct, 2010

But after looking through photo albums at my parent's house, here's proof that I have my own little doppelganger ...

Circa 1977 ...

All photos ... Circa 2009


The Height of The Matter ...

Ever since my parents moved into this house 30+ years ago, they've kept a wall chart of my brothers' and my height. Sure the walls have all been painted a few times since they've lived here, but not this one particular section in the laundry room. No sirree! It's been unbelievably maintained. A wall we all enjoy looking at every time we walk through the room.

I've noticed in many of my friend's and cousin's houses that they've done the same thing. Kept a running chart of their kids measurements. Compared how one child grows to another. However, being the nomads that we are, aside from the yearly well checks, we haven't kept track of how tall the kids have become, nor lived in any one place long enough to start our own wall.

Luckily, years ago my dad had enough foresight to realize this, and start charting our kids on this very same wall.

Every time we come to visit, the kids immediately run into the laundry room and ask to be measured. They know they need to stand perfectly still, with their head straight and feet together touching the base of the wall.

Sure this method may not be as scientific as a chart from the pediatricians office, where we can see their exact measurements and percentages compared to other kids their age. But I'd be willing to bet that this wall chart is better. Because it compares the kids to me AND to my brother's heights from the very same ages!

But the best part? Last year my parents spent many painstaking hours transferring this exact height chart onto a large roll of butcher paper so that when we move into our new house, we can transfer the kids heights onto their own wall.

Pretty amazing, eh?

So here are some interesting stats ...

I am 5 feet tall. My brother Scott is 5'10''. My brother Randy is 5'3''.

Riley at age 8 is the exact same height as my brother Scott when he was the same age. She is the same height as my brother Randy when he was 12, and the same height as me when I was 11.5.

Sheridan at age 6.5 is the exact same height as my brother Scott when he was the same age. Sher is the same height as my brother Randy when he was 9, and the same height as me when I was 8.5.

Grady at age 2 is the same height as both Sheridan and my brother Randy when they were 3.5.

I've always had one wish for my kids ... it's that they're taller than me. It looks like there's hope!


See Ya Soon!

Bye-Bye Land Rover. Have a safe ride to Virginia. See you in a few weeks ...

Car shipped early because it is less expensive to rent a car here than it is in Virginia. And if it arrives before us? Then it'll be delivered to my friend's house. The same dear friend who is kindly letting me send loads of other cr*p that I forgot to have the movers box up.

10 days ...


Nothing Says Independence Day Quite Like a SIX Mile Hike ...

... with your brother, father, AND your daughters. Up the 2500 foot Mission Peak mountain. In the 90 degree heat.

As much as you really want to stop and turn back because not only are YOU tired, but your daughters have b*tched, whined, and moaned about EVERYTHING under the sun since the MINUTE you stepped on the trail. You don't. Because frankly, you all needed the exercise. And you're a glutton for punishment.

So after an hour of the insanity, you do what every good mother does. You bribe your kids. With money. And tell them that for every 15 minute increment they don't whine, you'll give them a dollar. Which Zadie will match. Then you shake your head in bewilderment as the true depth of their physical pain is proven when they completely forgot about it ... after being bribed with money to continue.

But in the end, after the three mile hike in the two hours and two minutes it takes you to get to the top, you let out a huge sigh of relief. You pat yourself on the back for persevering through the pain. You shed a tear at the beautiful sight of the two American flags waving in the wind at the peak and the gorgeous views of the San Francisco Bay.

Only to be snapped back to reality as your descent takes you another hour and a half. More whining and moaning ensue after several falls on the steep, rocky trails. Your brother carries your youngest daughter down several precarious shortcuts. You finish the last of the five water bottles, the Mike & Ike's, and the M&M's. You continue to look back at the peak where the flags get smaller and smaller and smaller as you FINALLY reach your car.

And you realize that the ENTIRE hike was worth it when your eldest daughter turns to you, after crying the last thirty minutes of the hike, tracking gum into the backseat of the car, complaining how thirsty she still is, and matter of factly says, ...

"You owe me four bucks."

Though in reality, she could have earned twelve.

Happy 4th of July.

P.S. While I jest, I absolutely must compliment my girls for an amazing job well done. It was a tough hike, and though I tease, they really were troopers and truly deserve to be congratulated!

at the top of Mission Peak

can you see the flag at the top of the peak?

about 1/3 of the way up

almost there

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