Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving with the Swearingens

We just arrived back from the five-day Swearingen Thanksgiving extravaganza in Wichita. 
Complete with some awesome food...

... lots of quality time with Jake's two little nieces...

... and a few cold beverages. 
Besides the awesome food, the Thanksgiving tradition in the Swearingen family is the highly competitive domino tournament, in the garage, otherwise known as the "domino dome."

People come from as far away as New Orleans and Rhode Island to try their hand for the title of "domino-ator." This is Cousin Jimmy and his girlfriend, Sandy, who are hoping to make it out to visit us in NZ in a few months. 

And those who skip the annual post-meal nap and pass out early in the evening are bound to be subjected to some form of embarrassment. It's a tradition. But it's not Jeromy's fault. He has two little ones to keep him busy. 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

First stop on our nationwide farewell tour...

We're just back from beautiful Delaware, where we spent the weekend with our friends Brad and Francia and their beautiful daughters. Jake had a free flight on each of two airlines so we actually flew separately to take advantage of the opportunity to save some $$. But I did end up spending a bit more than I intended on my layover in Chicago...

It took a bit of coordination to make arrangements so we'd arrive at the same time. Then both our flights we delayed some, and we rented a car and navigated about an hour through traffic to arrive at Brad's door. Of course we'd called ahead to let him know what time we'd be in. After all of this planning and effort and traveling across the country, we grabbed our bags, knocked on the door, and ... it wasn't Brad. Wrong house. Apparently he moved his family across town in August and didn't tell anyone! The guy who answered the door was really nice and actually from KC, and he knew the Yopses vaguely. We got some new directions and headed out. Looking back, it wasn't quite as embarrassing as it could have been.

But we had a great time catching up with Brad and Francia and getting to know what life is like with two little munckins. That doesn't look so hard... :)

The upcoming weeks are likely to be filled with lots more visiting and saying (not goodbye but) "see ya later." Last Thursday night was my last budgeting session with CommunityLINC, an awesome nonprofit that helps local families move from homelessness to self-sufficiency. I've been working with these folks for about three years, so they went in on a going-away gift for jake and me -- a really beautiful and stylish platter/bowl set. How sweet! Unfortunately, it's about 40 lb., so we may not be able to take it in our luggage, but we'll keep it safely in storage and enjoy it when we return. I'm going to miss all the cool folks there.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More excited than nervous, but…

Lots to do these days … set up an NZ bank account, sell our cars, reserve a U-Haul truck, confirm travel arrangements… and schedule one last trip to Vegas! Even though that's still a couple weeks away, we can't wait.

We're in the process of opening a bank account over there. Apparently you're supposed to open the account and wire money over before you go, then show up, flash an ID and you're good to go. Two of Jake's colleagues as well as his company have recommended this bank and this process, but still it makes me nervous to send money over before we get there – money we won't have access to until we're there.

When Jake's dad, Jim, heard I started packing boxes a couple weeks ago, he laughed and told me that it wouldn’t be long before we’d be opening the boxes back again looking for something that’s already put away. I haven’t changed my mind on anything yet, but now I consider it something of a personal challenge. We’ll see how long I last…

We finally found out that yes, we’re allowed to bring four suitcases each (two free, the others are $80 each) to carry all our treasures. But still waiting on our travel agent lady to confirm/purchase our actual flights. We’ve had them reserved for a month or two pending our visas. We’re a little concerned that we’ll be responsible for the difference if the prices go up, so we’re anxious for our agent to go ahead and book… not sure what the hold up is.

Thought I’d share a pic of Jake in the Kansas City office. Isn’t he handsome??

Hope New Zealand has Golden Tee (a popular arcade game you find in lots of local bars). If not, I’m worried Jake will make us turn right around.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Bring, store or give away...

With seven weeks to go, we've begun to pack. In our basement is what we call Staging Area 1. We're not shipping anything over, so we're bringing only what we can stuff in a bunch of suitcases.  

In our second bedroom is Staging Area 2... It's a bit messier. This is command central of our packing efforts. All this stuff is going in storage. Gotta give a shout out to Mooresville Mini Storage in Mooresville, Mo... we hear the owners are good folks.
But the chaos has some level of organization to it. All the boxes that are going in storage will be numbered, and we're keeping an inventory list. So in a year, when we realize we've forgotten Jake's favorite fishing lure, we can send Mom into our packed-to-the-ceiling storage unit in search of box #14A.  Thanks Mom!
So far, we know we need to bring sheets, bbq sauce and Jake's long underwear.
And water shoes. Can't go without our $1 Wal-Mart water shoes.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

We're in!

Found out that our visas were approved yesterday! I was so excited I did a little dance in  our kitchen, while Jake looked at me like I was crazy. He's excited too -- he just doesn't show it through dance. So I guess all our visa consists of is a big sticker on one page of each of our passports that says we can work and stay through April 2011.