Saturday, August 25, 2012

Luxury living

Did I ever mention that I love our apartment? I really do! I love it so much, that I really don't think I want to go back to a single family home again. I love apartment life and all the kids who are always around for Jack to play with. I love having a swimming pool and spa that I never have to clean. I love the game room and movie room and I love our view. 

Anyways, here is a tour of our luxurious temporary living accommodation. 

I guess the one bad thing about our apartment is that it is on the 3rd floor. Which is a pain for me, but I guess it can be considered my exercise for the day :-)

Here is our apartment on the top floor
When you walk in the front door you will see our bedroom.  (remember we are living off bare necessities since all of our stuff is in London and everything thing we have is either borrowed or rented)
Our no frills bedroom
 Our apartment is only a one bedroom, but we have a good size closet which also doubles as Jack's room
 Jack thinks his room is the coolest thing ever! And we are happy for that.
 Here is our living room
 Dining table
 And the magnificent view of the lake

We even have a washer and dryer right in our apartment!! After 2 years of having to share a washer and dryer, it's almost too good to be true!

 Here is my kitchen, and up above you can see where Luke spends 90% of his time working in the loft.
The loft is a magical place. No one is allowed up there except for Luke. The gate at the front of the steps keeps all little feet out. Of course, that doesn't stop them from trying...or begging to be allowed into the "special" place.



 Our bathroom:
 And some more views of the sunset from our living room



 There is also a nice paved path right along the lake so Jack can ride his bike
 Now, I'll show you the clubhouse where we get all sorts of extra goodies.

Here is the entrance to the clubhouse:
 The game room with a wii, playstation 3, XBO 360, pool table and shuffle board
 Jack and his buddy Liam playing Wii

 There is also a huge kitchen in case you want to have a party in the clubhouse
 Lounge area by the fireplace
 Movie room with popcorn maker and all sorts of delicious toppings
 Movie screen
 Work out room
 And the best part of all... the pool! This is the most amazing pool ever. Half of the pool is shallow with beach entry and Jack can play alone without having to wear floaties. Then the other half if the deeper lap pool.
 The zero entry makes it fun for Lily too! She loves to crawl in and out of the water.
 The hot tub
 Jack and his buddies by the firepit
 Outside lounging
And there you have it! Our luxury living. When the time comes it will be very hard to say good bye to this place. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

The pain of temporary living

Our life is kind of a mess right now. When we left Switzerland, we planned on having a month long vacation before moving to the UK and starting our new life. I never imagined that our vacation would turn into a long term situation. But since we will eventually move to England, we are kind of in a transient state of trying to have a normal life, while still needing to be ready to pack up and move at a moments notice. Living in this transient lifestyle has caused us many problems. First and foremost is our health insurance.

Temporary Health Insurance (AKA the nightmare):
When we first came over to the US for our "vacation" we signed up for one month of temporary insurance. When July rolled around and we still weren't in the UK we signed up for another 50 days of temporary health insurance. This policy is set to expire next week and I tried to get another month long policy only to find out that once you have had two short term health policies you are disqualified for one year for any more short term health insurance! So what are we supposed to do? Well, we have to pay more money and sign up for normal health insurance. Thankfully the cost of health insurance in Colorado is 1/3 the cost if we were still living in California. But still, it is frustrating that we have to go through the entire application and health screening process for health insurance when we may only be here for another month.

Car Rental (AKA the ripoff):
My mom was nice enough to let us borrow her car for the month and a half that we were living at my parents place. But once we moved to our apartment it was time to get a car. But what do you do when you don't know how long you will live somewhere? We considered buying a cheap car, but then we have to get auto insurance, pay for maintenance, worry about reselling it, etc. Or, we rent a car. But have you ever rented a car for a month at a time? They are EXPENSIVE!!! I'm talking thousands of dollars a month. We searched and searched and found a used car lot that rented us a "well loved" car for which we pay nearly $700 per month! Can you believe it? But what can you do when you are living month to month and not knowing if you will be around to make purchasing a car worthwhile...
Jack and our awesome "race car"


Short term apartments (AKA the blessing)
Since our application for visas has not even been touched by the UK immigration office (who is completely backlogged due to the Olympics) we decided to sign a three month lease and move into an apartment so everyone could feel a little sense of "normal life" again (as if we ever knew what a 'normal life' felt like). So I search the internet for short term apartments and was happy to find several good places. I had a list of about 10-15 places to visit, and one morning I decided to call all of them to see if they would do a 3-month lease. One by one I had to cross off the apartments because no one offered a 3-month lease. My huge list was dwindled down to two places. Place #1 was a nice apartment, completely furnished for $3,000 per month. Not only was it ridiculously expensive, but it also had the train tracks running through the backyard. There was only one option left for us. I was crossing my fingers that it would be at least decent. The kids and I made a trip to check out this one last option and it was like the clouds parted and the sun shone down on us. The apartment complex was perfect! And the cherry on top was that they even had a game room with a Wii for Jack (apparently the thing he misses most about Switzerland is our Wii). We signed the contract the next morning.
Playing Wii in the game room


Furniture rentals:
So now we have an apartment but we have nothing to fill it with. Each of us has one suitcase with clothing and that's it. What about a couch, a table, spoons, forks, knives, coffee maker, etc? Do you ever think about all the little things you use everyday that you take for granted? Well, we had to start thinking about them. We looked online at renting furniture and housewares and the prices were $600 and more for very basic living supplies. Thankfully my mom and dad had a ton of furniture that they let us borrow. We have their couch and ottoman, dining table and chairs and mattresses to sleep on. But we still needed things like can openers, pots, pans, cheese graters, etc. So I looked online again and found a small used furniture store who rents out "house ware packages" for around $150 per month. This gives us all our linens, plates, bowls, cups and all knifes and utensils. It's hard to say if we could have just bought all this at the Goodwill for the same price...we probably could have. All the stuff is "well loved" and the pots and pans are a complete frustration every time I cook since everything sticks to them. But it works. And I can cook and we have everything we need in order to live. Except, I guess I'd really like a better can opener. The one we are renting only does half the job and I have to use a knife to help it along... but I have a nice one sitting in storage in London waiting for me.
Rental coffee pot

Rental blender and toaster

Rental plates and bowls 
Rental utensils


Clothing:
August will soon be coming to an end we are noticing cooler nights and mornings. Soon we are going to need some Fall weather clothing. But of course, we packed only summer things. Everyone has flip flops and shorts. Of course we all have nice shoes and warm shirts/jackets in London, but if we are stuck here we are going to have to buy all new Fall weather clothing. I guess I shouldn't complain about that... I think most women would love to shop for more clothes. But, really I hate it. I think we will all be in shorts and t-shirts as long as possible.

School:
School starts soon, but Jack won't be able to attend the bilingual school in England that we hoped he would go to. Instead we had to search around here for a preschool who would be okay with the idea of him attending for just one to two months. Thankfully the church that we are attending (and really love) has a great preschool and he is signed up to start next week. He will be able to go twice a week for three hours at a time. I think the harder part is going to be trying to find a preschool in England mid school year.

All this is to say that temporary living is no walk in the park. Everything is about double the price and half the quality. Except for our apartment. This is the one saving grace to our whole situation. I absolutely love our little apartment and Jack has been able to make several friends which is just awesome! We finally have a fairly normal life again and we are even getting back into a day to day routine! Life is comfortable and I know Luke would be happy if England didn't work out and he was able to work from our apartment for several more years. But for me... I still really want to go to England. I loved our experience in Switzerland and I would love to have another chance at living abroad. So I'm trying not to get too comfortable just yet because I'm hoping that any day we will finally be able to book our tickets to the UK and start another chapter of our Expat Adventure. Until then, I will just enjoy living in our apartment with the amazing view:
View from our balcony of our new apartment

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More summer fun

Last week we said goodbye to Luke's family and we also moved out of my mom and dad's house. We decided that since we haven't heard any update on our visas that it was time for us to make a stand and plant ourselves down for a while. It is really difficult living in a constant state of limbo so we decided to go out and rent an apartment for three months while we are waiting for our visas. I will have a post soon about our new living quarters, but for now here are some pictures from the last week we spent with Luke's family.

Lily graduating from swim class

Jack going down the slide on graduation day

Luke and Lily at the water carnival

My sweet, cuddly girl

At the splash ground with Amanda

Playing in the warm water

Kisses from Grammie

Little blue eyes
Stay tuned to see pictures of our new digs.

Cute videos

Some recent videos that I think are really cute. First here are Jack and Lily playing together (turn up the volume if you want a laugh)
video
Next, here is a video of Lily ready to walk any day now.
video

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

County Fair

The county fair came into town while Luke's family was visiting so the whole gang went for the day. The best part about the county fair was that they also had a beer festival. So we spent the first half of the day drinking beer and the second half walking around the festival. 

Both families together at the beer festival


Lily practicing her standing
Luke and I were able to go to a beer and food pairing event where they gave us samples of four different beers paired with four different foods.
The last one was my favorite with a dessert beer and piece of chocolate cake
Meanwhile, Josiah was our keeping both kids happy by letting them climb all over him

Lily will be walking any day!
Jack and Lily with their drinks
Jack with Nana and Papi and his funnel cake
Josiah beating Luke at an arm wrestling match
Jack and Nana
After drinking beers, we headed out to the carnival
Jack loved the petting zoo
Lily wasn't to sure of the llama
Jack and Grammie
Playing carnival games

Fun on the rides!