Sunday, May 19, 2013

Quick update: Driveway

UPDATE: Driveway, before and after:

This is delivery method for 13 tons of gravel, which my brother-in-law smoothed out for his weekend exercise instead of going to the gym.  Just too bad my boys couldn't enjoy a *real* *live* dump truck in their own front yard!  But, I have a feeling Mr. Mulch (gravel delivery company) may be back with mulch once we've settled the unpacking enough to try our hand at basic yard landscaping.

In the long term, hope to lay down interlocking paving stones which are supposed to be best for drainage.  The driveway declines from street level to basement level, and the home inspection said we will have to closely monitor the drain at the bottom because it will be prone to clogging.  Asphalt or concrete don't appear to be good options because of the run off.

Paving stones, though, have many options and are a bit tricky to choose when I still haven't seen this house in person.  The current mud-ridden (with bits of broken glass) state required immediate attention, so we stuck with the easier gravel option for now.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Why you should always be nice to your sister

Save three years or so between eighth and tenth grade, and one particularly contentious month in college (January 2001), my middle sister and I have thankfully pretty much always gotten along.  (side note: My littlest sister is eight years younger (versus two for the middle), so we never encountered the same rivalry type of issues.)  I'd like to say she felt compelled to repay all the love and guidance I've provided her the last 27 years (would be more, but can't count the above mentioned non-speaking periods) in tackling our home purchase process on our behalf.  But, in reality, she (and her new husband) are just generous people.

As I've noted in previous posts, our whole family frequently helps us out with difficulties of living overseas and during our brief stints back home - but the efforts on our house (especially on the yard) go beyond normal.

In order for the general world to appreciate the work done, enjoy the photos below. As I was putting this together, she was raking up leaves before a rain storm so that our drain doesn't clog.  And this weekend my brother in law will be spreading out new gravel on our driveway (having already spread out dirt to even it up).

Few words are necessary, given the photos.  First, the before in Feb and then in April:

Looking back towards the house and also along the side of the house:

Interim work revealed a mess hidden under brush, including a chain potentially used for taming lions:
So we called in a professional crew to do some excavation and grading:

The new state of our back yard and side of the house with the fence: 

They've also seeded the yard, but given the amount of poison ivy and other weeds pulled up (FYI: poison ivy root can still cause rashes :( ), we're not sure if it will take.  We will start with a book, but may need to call in a professional service for this summer season.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The next move

Our life is so crazy, I can't even believe I was having these thoughts today -- after all, we haven't even completed *this* move.  Still one week left to enjoy in Texas, and we're savoring every moment.

All the same, for 30 minutes during the ride from Houston to Austin when two boys were sleeping and the third was quietly playing on the iPad, I started thinking that since we'll be in DC for two to four years, on our next move:

-- No more long haul flights with infants.  In fact, Ian might even be 4.5 by the time we go overseas again which means potentially no more long haul flights with diapers.  This is totally game changing.
-- If we can manage a person to pick her up, shipping Bagwelle a few days ahead saves on airport stress (us and her).  Or, maybe we should just stagger our moves.  One person flies one day with one kid and dog, the other follows two or three days later with other two kids.  After all, kids will be older and easier to travel with.
-- We "need" another iPad before our next move.  Maybe just a mini will do, but maintaining the 1:1 iPad:kid ratio is key.
-- Wm could possibly be 10 when we move again. 10! In fact, he could fly on his own (ha ha)
-- Oh yeah, and, once again, did I mention no moving with infants?  It didn't seem hard the last three times, until I realized this was the last time, since we don't have to get on a plane and go half way around the world again in a few weeks.  Which means this time, I can fully allow myself to think about how difficult it was and is.  Bigger kids have their own issues, but babies have gear. And schlepping that gear is tiresome.