Thursday, July 30, 2009

Oh California! (to the tune of patriotic CA state music...)

It's moving time! Strangely, for the very first time in over a year of living in our beach bungalow, I spotted an ocean view... from our guest bedroom! It's not very big-- although if the Winnebago hadn't been in the way, it might have been more exquisite of a photo... oh... the irony...with only two days left to enjoy it. These pictures are of the beast of a truck we were given for moving. We managed to, with the help of our beyond fantastic friend, Nik, fit everything we own (aside from what's coming on the road trip in the car with us... but it would've fit) in a 10x10 spot on this truck. They charge by the foot... but overall it was a great deal. They're driving it 2,000 miles and we don't have to. They dropped the truck off early Tuesday and came to pick it up Thursday afternoon (actually, as I write this blog, they still aren't here to pick it up). Notice the VW Bug I've been driving in the distance in the above photo. At least 2 of them would have easily fit inside this monster truck.
That's our stuff... all the way in the back of the truck. To show depth perception, Ray is pulling it shut with at least another 15-20 feet empty.
A few pictures of compression device that was used to hold our stuff in place (in addition to a cable we used ourselves). Note the mattress and chair you can see at the top.
Our lives, in a truck!
Now... onto the Part II of the blog where I talk about all the things I'm going to miss terribly about California (in order) and ways I'll cope with the loss):
1. Family and friends. You guys are amazing and while I know we'll meet friends wherever we go, we can't replace you and we certainly can't replace family. We will certainly have extra beds for you if you happen to come visit the Windy City anytime in the future!
Coping Mechanism: Modern technology, Skype, and airplanes will save us! Hopefully my parents moving to Colorado to make the plane ride/car ride/time difference even shorter.
2. The weather. It's obvious that Chicago's weather doesn't include sunny skies and 80-degree, low humidity weather with cool breezes and temperate ocean climate all four seasons of the year. Ah, but a girl can dream. At least we'll miss our first winter there-- being in Germany until March 2010.
Coping Mechanism: heated seats in my (soon to be) new car, heated garage, automatic car starter, amazing new wool lined peacoat (also future purchase), well insulated house, ponytails for windy days... or all days...let's be honest, a husband to hug, down comforters, and finally, indoor schools.
3. Mountains. We're moving to a plain (used as a homophone!) state. Sadly, we lose our mountain view and the option to drive 1.5 hours to hike these wonderful creations (on a non-smoggy day, we could actually see mountains from our place in Redondo Beach!).
Coping Mechanism: Drive out of state, visit California or Colorado to visit/ski.
4. The beach. I used to LIVE there during the summers with Alison as we baked (how unhealthy!) until it was dinner time and we were freezing with nothing but a towel as a blanket. Now, I go only a few times a year and take walks/run rather than bake in the sun. But it is beautiful and I just don't know how it will be living in a place without an ocean just a couple miles away!
Coping Mechanism: Clearly... the only thing to do is visit somewhere tropical or come back to California for a visit!
5. Similar to #4 -- The sun setting over the ocean. There's just something gorgeous about it.
Coping Mechanism: I have tons of photos... and again... just a plane ride away!
6. Pei Wei restaurant. This delicious, noodle establishment has not made its way to Illinois yet; for some terrible reason. They are a cheaper version of P.F. Changs... but I think better. Oh Blazing Noodles... how I will miss you.
Coping Mechanism: Noodles and Co.? Any ideas? Hope pray, send letters to the man and demand they open one... say... in Naperville? ;)
7. In 'n' Out Burger. Yeah... I know it's a "burger" joint... but I do enjoy going there for a grilled cheese and delicious fries every now and again. Maybe it's just because it's located near LAX airport that I always seem to enjoy seeing it...
Coping Mechanism: Five Guys? Never been there... but Ray's excited there's one located in our future Illinois neighborhood. There will be some replacement... just not sure what since... #8 and #9 will also be missed!
8. Islands restaurant: It's more of a tropical-themed restaurant (obviously successful in more tropical-ey areas... but this I will certainly miss). The clear winner: Sunset (veggie) burger, no onions, sub onion strings with a side of BBQ sauce for the fries. And... it's one of the only restaurants my parents, Ray, and myself actually enjoy going to together. We have such different taste in food...
Coping Mechanism: See #7
9. Same situation... lost veggie burger: Rascal's Teriyaki. There are only 3 that I know of, but they're amazing. They have a Veggie Curry with a side salad of the most amazing dressing on Earth. They also have one of the best veggie burgers I've ever had.
Coping Mechanism: See #7 still.
10. Disneyland: Okay, so I obviously don't go much and I'm not a season pass owner like it seems everyone I have ever met is... but I still like knowing I live close enough to go. There's something nostalgic about it. I will be a bit closer to D-world... so no major complaints.
Coping Mechanism: not sure yet. There's bound to be something exciting... like... taking the
Metra train downtown and people-watching (behind the glass of a Stabucks so I don't freeze my fingers off, obviously).
The rest of the list are items I'll miss, but that have (or will have) very similar replacements:
1. Vons Grocery Store = Dominick's in Illinois... same Safeway labels though, phew.
2. My Honda Civic. Obviously, I'm still not over it. It doesn't help I have been carless (aside from borrowing my dad's VW). I will soon have a car of my dreams... and if that's too expensive or not available, maybe a Honda Accord. Love my Hondas.
3. Outdoor schools. I love the fresh (smoggy Los Angeles) air that comes into my classroom as I teach (or the occasional bird to fly in that nearly sends some of my students into shock from fear). But... the replacement are indoor schools of which are well heated, no scary birds, no lunch in my classroom on rainy days! That last one needed some serious bolding-- any fellow teachers... can I get a hear, hear? :)
T-minus 1.5 days!

Monday, July 27, 2009

365 days!

We celebrated our 1st anniversary yesterday in style-- Dodger game, and dinner. Here we are sitting high in our seats (but so thankful they were shaded the entire game!) between home plate and first. Clearly this photo was taken to display the "Trader Joe's" sign in red on the left.
That's the Hollywood sign in the distance. Last year we hiked the sign and took pictures from behind the letters.
Trader Joe's sign #2. It's clearly an important sign to get two blog pictures!
This photo is for Dad. He'll understand. ;) Love you!
What good is a Dodger game without a little people watching? Peek-a-boo view of the sweet rat-tail this guy was sporting!
You thought I wouldn't try a little harder to get a better view? Ha! Here it is, in all its glory.
Another sweet find: man with kitchen towel on his head. I understand regular towels (the heat is brutal), but he obviously pulled this from the kitchen rack before leaving the house.
Here's a "selfy" shot -- Dana will appreciate it!
Ray very excited for dinner at McCormick & Schmick's!
Best year ever! Those gorgeous earrings I'm sporting were a present from my incredible husband-- dangling Tahitian pearls with a small diamond (in honor of our amazing honeymoon in Tahiti ...and New Zealand).
Thanks to all our friends and family who have loved us and shared their support this whole year. We're thrilled to be married to one another and we're having the times of our lives!

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Difference Between Men & Women (in the Wilson house)

Naturally, Ray is organized and begins packing boxes the moment he arrives home from work. I have contributed a bit. I am the cook and dishwasher while he packs, and I even patched and painted over the holes in the walls. That was a task. For some reason though... I'm finding it daunting to pack this time. I just don't want to pack things I think I'll need in the next 8 months, since we won't be opening them until we return from Germany... probably around April 2010.

If you know Ray, though, you know how much of an engineer mind he has. Here he is fitting the chair legs into the base of the table in an effort to prevent them from falling out. Notice the technique.In my first attempt to pack a box, I chose to start in the bathroom. Naturally, I ran into my 80's crimper and figured that if you "run into" a crimper... crimping you must perform. The results:
Here's the old-school tool. He's had some good use over the years and still works-- but takes forever to warm up! to the boxes... again...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Talk about FUN!

What a whirlwind of fun we've been having! In preparation for leaving California, we've been hanging out with some wonderful friends and family and going on adventures. While they aren't over (stay tuned for part #2 of July festivities), I had so many pictures that I wanted to update a couple times to keep up.

Here are my fantastic parents on a luge ride in Big Bear, CA. My parents invited us to come stay with them at their timeshare and go out on the lake in their speed boat a couple weekends ago. We enjoyed our time with them and the fun barbecue with their special recipe corn-on-the-cob. Seriously good eats!
Here they are... heading up to the luge on the ski lift.
We ran into a "big bear" in Big Bear and I insisted on taking a photo. My parents wanted nothing to do with the hairy animal... but luckily I married a trooper.
A year after our graduation from Pepperdine University with our Master's degrees, Jessica, myself, and Samiya (fellow alum. and now friends) met up for lunch in Manhattan Beach. Samiya is pregnant with a girl and is due in 2 months! Jessica just came back from Greece and travels a bunch every summer.
As an early anniversary present to my husband, we visited Disneyland with our friends Nik and Solange. Here I am, beating Ray on the Buzz Lightyear ride. While I beat him, it's obvious who has better technique.
My favorite ride at Disneyland (Space Mountain)... although you wouldn't know it from the fearful look on my face! I am one of those people who takes the photo of the photo screen.
Here's Ray in front of the Matterhorn Bobsled ride. For those of you unaware, the Matterhorn is a 14-er mountain in Switzerland, just under the height of Mt. Whitney. Maybe we'll visit it while in Europe for 6 months!
In front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland-- classic picture. We have a "kissy" one too, but we'll spare you. I have recently made the goal (with the help of another couple we recently met) to visit all 5 Disney parks. I don't know when this goal will be accomplished, and I'm not really a Disney fanatic, but it's a good enough excuse to get myself into Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo-- as well as Florida which I've seen, but never entered the park.
Here we are with Nik and Solange on Splash Mountain. Solange looks absolutely thrilled and Nik is his usual hilarious self. Ray was drenched (there were reasons for me placing him in the front!). The lady in the back of the ride was not pleased with our rowdy behavior and actually referred to us as "teenagers" during the ride. She didn't want to get wet. Does anyone see the irony in that?
Quite possibly the most famous picture of Disneyland...
This photo was taken in front of California Adventure, a newer park connected to D-land (opened in 2001) at the "I"-- which we pretended to be a "1" since the word California does not have an E, B, or W. We were going to photograph in front of the "R" for Ray, but we thought it would be cuter to show our 1 year anniversary instead.
One of the treats to having our friends Nik and Solange with us, is that we were able to get the insider scoop. We learned strange things like the architecture has tons of hidden Mickey symbols, and that you can go to the "City Hall" upon entering to get these fun pins. It was Ray's first time at the park, so we had to get him a first-timer pin, of which he wore proudly in his pocket the entire day. We also got anniversary pins that we proudly sported in every photo you've seen so far.
Here's our second run on Space Mountain with Nik and Solange. Ray is very wide-eyed here, just like the last photo on this ride!
Although hard to make out, this is the photo from Calfornia Screamin' at California Adventure. It's the one and only ride at Disneyland that has a loop! It's the face of Mickey that you can see in the upper-left of this photo.
We had to fight some kids out of the way for this photo. We're in Toon Town (which I remembered being somewhat new last time I visited... but it really opened in 1993, when we were graduating from 5th graders to middle schoolers!). We laughed about this car being about the same size as the one we'll probably be driving in Germany for 6 months.
Here are a couple of amazing friends we're going to miss so much when we move. We spend about every week having dinner, playing games, and/or watching out latest addiction of Whale Wars with them.
One of the final rides we went on at the park. I am player 1. As you can see, I'm pretty good at beating Ray at these games. Pay no attention to the accuracy score on the bottom. What are percentages anyway... hehe!
Final ride of the night, Autopia. I remember "driving" these cars as a kid and it's more nostalgia than anything. You're looking at about 11:30 p.m. here. We spent 16 hours at the park and closed it down! We went on over 20 rides and accomplished everything we planned in both parks. We're trailblazers!
The next morning, we woke at 6 a.m. to catch a plane to Maryland. We were greeted by Ray's parents and headed over to Samantha's (Ray's sister) house for an awesome dinner. She has a great apartment in Ellicott City, MD in the city that she teaches high school Spanish. She recently started her Master's program at Johns Hopkins University too... in addition to recently returning from South Korea where she taught English lessons for almost 3 weeks... busy girl! Unfortunately no photos to show here of the amazing dinner and amazing sister in law!
We took a day trip out to Luray Caverns in Virginia on Saturday. It's said to be the the most breathtaking of caverns in the Eastern U.S. It really was spectacular. We weren't the only ones who thought so-- it was a packed house!
One of the unique traits about this cavern is displaying the world's largest organ. Here is one of the stalactites that they used to produce the unique sound with a rubber mallet.
More gorgeous views from the Cavern.
On Saturday night, we were joined by Ray's grandparents for a celebration dinner at Dutch's Daughter-- a restaurant in Frederick, MD. It was amazing! The place is gorgeous and the food was delicious. I wish I would've taken a photo of dessert at Gramie and Papa's house after-- red velvet cake!
After church the next morning, we visited another restaurant for brunch. Ray's grandparents treated us to a beautiful restaurant and awesome meal. We sat outside at a table that looked out to the countryside. After our meal, we headed back to Samantha's apartment to hang out before leaving back for California by plane... for the last time of our residency in the state! From now on, wherever we travel in the United States will be less than a 5-hour flight; thank goodness. With my parents moving to Colorado in a few years, that would drop down our plane flights to around 2 hours going west, or east! We couldn't be more elated.
Many of you know... I recently sold my beloved Honda Civic (by far the best car I've ever owned, I just can't trust that it's a good fit for Chicago winters). It's been sold into a good home with a pretty savvy new owner. You've probably also figured out that now I'm carless... and my latest wheels have been my very own two feet, that have been taking me back and forth to see friends, appointments, etc.
...Until the bug was brought into my life yesterday. My dad owns this guy and has loaned it to me until we officially move so that I don't have to walk everywhere. So far, it's only been a day and it's certainly bringing back memories of my very first car, a 1980's Volkswagen Rabbit. The stick shift and lack of power-steering really makes me thankful for option to drive automatic. While fun, I think my future of driving manual transmission as a daily choice is gone. This may be good practice in case we end up with a manual in Germany to drive for 6 months..........
Some adventures in July that are not pictured here: beach day with Jen, beach day with Alison and Gabrielle, and happy hour with my friend from elementary school, Jen.

More adventures to come! The month's not over yet!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Welcome to our Humble Abode!

Being newlyweds, we needed a sweet newlywed pad. We selected Redondo Beach as our new area because of the price and the convenience... and we love living here. It's a bit of a crooked little duplex with awful landscaping and baby blue paint, but we were able to make it our own... and it became our first place together as a married couple. Here's a tour for those who haven't been over for a visit: (this is actually for us to remember our first place, but I wanted to share with our friends too!)

Here's where we live, right on the corner.

Here's the view from our front porch to the left. It's a bit creepy that what you're looking at is the high school (Redondo Union) I graduated from 9 years ago. I can't believe it's almost my 10-year reunion! No, I won't be attending. Sorry, when you live this close, there's no urgency to hang out with the people who you still see at the local Starbucks.
This is the view to the right while standing on our porch. It's this awesome park that gives us better scenery than houses and makes us feel more comfortable in general.
Here's the view directly out our front door. I love it. I sure hope we can find a wonderful house in Naperville that has something as enjoyable... like a stream.......
Then, I turned the camera around. Here's the little bitty duplex we've called home for the last year. It really has been great!
Here's a side profile. This is the back door and next to it is the best window that gives the most wonderful breeze-- especially on summer nights!
This is what you see when you walk right into our front door. Please wipe your feet. ;)
Walk a few steps forward, then turn around to see the other side where the door is...
Here's the tour of the kitchen. I like how spacious it is, but it has no counter space! What you see is all there is! Thank goodness for pull-out cutting boards...
Here we're seeing the left view. We made do.
Here's the final part of the kitchen. It's quite cute, just not practical for more than two people. That is my pantry and cupboard space, and that's just about it!
Here's what you see to the right, directly right of the kitchen. That's the awesome window (when opened, that breeze I mentioned... killer!). This place also has a laundry area. While not completely closed off, we are so thankful for it. The best thing about the place, by far.
I actually love my kitchen floor! How rad and retro is that! Totally fitting for our first apartment together.
Oh, welcome to box room (when not moving, it's actually quite normal with a bed-- seen under all the boxes) and minus my entire classroom since I had to move out of that at the end of June.
More of the guest bedroom view.
It's not a huge room, but it does the job. It's a guest room/office.
Now we're turned around, as if you turned back around heading towards the front door.
Entered... the bathroom. I closed the door and we're looking at the door that walks into the guest bedroom (we just left). The whole house is one big circle. It's awesome because although it's small, there is more than one entrance/exit to every room. We don't run into one another and it's great!
Turned around facing the rest of the bathroom. Quaint, but not the most exciting bathroom in the world.
Here's the hallway facing the second entrance to the bathroom.
Here's the bedroom and our closet. We have certainly maxed out the amount of clothes, etc. that people are supposed to put in closets. But, alas, it has worked.
Turned around in the bedroom. That door leads you to the front door. Are you catching on the the whole "loop" of the house? Pretty cool, huh?

That ends the tour of our first apartment! Off to our second apartment together in Germany, then our first house in Illinois! Come visit!