Thursday, August 28, 2008

Blubber Love

Melanie pulls a favorite shirt on. Once again, her blubber hangs out smooshing over her pants. It's time to talk:

Melanie: I wish you wouldn't hang over my pants like that. It just...looks so gross!

Blubber: What's your problem? Just suck me in. Problem solved!

Mel: I AM sucking you in. And I can't breathe like this anymore! Am I supposed to spend the whole day thinking about you? You're so self-centered. I'm 3 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. I knew you were coming to visit after the pregnancy, but quite frankly, I thought you would be gone by now.

Blubber: What? It's nice here! Besides, where else can I to go?! There's always Dr. Pepper and Peanut Butter Cups here. I love peanut butter cups!

Mel: too. I mean, I always have. I just don't understand - when I was 16 you were so flat and thin. Now, I just feel like you've given up. I don't even recognize you anymore!

Blubber: Ah, baby, things have changed. But, I still love you, love the kids. I'm just trying to help out. That's why, I mean, when they lay on me, I'm just like a pillow underneath their little heads and I love it. I really do.

Mel: too. But we just can't keep going on like this. Something has to change. I've started biking and swimming now, even running, and, eventually, you'll have to leave.

Blubber: Hey, it's what's best for you baby, that's all I want. But, you know, if you ever feel like giving up, slowin' down, I'll have a Reese's with you for old times sake. Ok?

Mel: You're so bad for me, blub. Why can't I leave you...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wedding Bells

Well...I watched my oldest daughter get married last night. It made me cry. Fortunately, she just married her dad...and "marrying" consisted of her twirling in a circle with her dad while I sat in the "bride chair". I think this was all a re-enactment of a wedding we went to last weekend. Still, I am overwhelmed with how fast time has been moving lately. Why are these kids growing up so fast? How have four years of marriage flown by so fast? I want to slow everyone down. I'm the reflective type, and sometimes I just want to sit down and think about who we are, and whether we are living up to the people we want to be. I'm also the organized type, and if people in this house would just stop growing up for two seconds I might have a chance to put our wedding pictures in an album, or document my 3-year-olds first year.

But, the days are passing like minutes right now, each one like a popsicle melting in the heat. So far, I haven't had much success in slowing down my melting days. Since sitting around and savoring every bite doesn't seem to be a choice at the moment, I guess I will just have to gobble them up as quickly as I can so I am sure to enjoy every last bite. And while I would love to alphabatize spices, lose some baby weight, make photo albums, and get to know my neighbors, when push comes to shove, I just want to sit in my living room watching my little girl grow up because that is one thing that simply can't be done later.

Swap Success

Just an update on the Back-2-School Clothing Swap. We had the event yesterday, and 30 families participated. Just 30 families had over 1000 items of clothing! It was nice to see all of these things recycled and put to use by local folks. Part of the advertising for the event was done on the radio, and people even came all the way from Spokane to participate. The event was such a success that we are looking into doing it again soon. Next time, I hope we can get some translators together to do some advertising in Spanish, Korean, and Chinese. I think that would help us reach more members of our community.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Saving Money

Two great things just happened that will help us save money for our journey. A record freshman class entered WSU this year, and the shortage of classes led to an opportunity for Luke to teach one section of a freshman communication studies class. In my office, a co-worker is leaving to take another job. I will begin working full time in August to fill her position, which will also give us a little extra money.

We are also changing our lifestyle to try and save a bit. We use reusable bags at the grocery store, as local grocery stores give discounts ranging from six to ten cents per bag. We also turn off our water heater during the day. I was skeptical when Luke made the suggestion, because I can't stand it when the water goes cold. However, we actually forgot to turn it back on one afternoon, and didn't even notice until Luke had taken a shower and I had given baths to everyone else. We'll find out in the next few months if this amounts to any real savings.

Passport and Visa Applications

Don't we look so cute? These are our passport photos, which we are submitting for the various passport and visa applications we have to do for our journey. Today I started folders on each of us, with a note-taking page, and dividers to separate out the different applications we need to fill out. Hopefully, this will help keep things organizied.

Out of all of the countries we are visiting, only five require visas. Three of the visas are fairly innexpensive and will be aquired while we are on the program. However, the visas for China and India are quite expensive and we are beginning work on those now.

With passports and visas, a little extra time helps lower the prices. We applied for passports for the kids as soon as we decided we were going on the Spring voyage, Luke needed to renew his, and I needed extra pages in mine. We applied last month and have already recieved them, even without using expedited service. We now have plenty of time to secure visas for China and India without getting extra fees.

Can you believe this? India has actually outsourced its visa process to an American company called Travisa. India is currently the only country to take this approach. Travisa recieves $13 for every visa issued, and manages the online application. Indian visas automatically start on the date they are issued, so we won't be able to apply for the Indian visa until October or so to recieve the cheapest rate.

Chinese visas can be obtained by any agent that applies in person at the San Francisco Consulate. This gives us two options: 1) fly one of us to San Francisco to get all of our visas or 2) apply through one of the hundreds of agencies willing to act as an agent for a "fee". The third option would be if someone out there wants to go take our applications to the consulate out of the kindness of their hearts...anyone??

We will probably use China Travel Service. This is the company used by the study abroad office I work at, and they are very reputable and don't charge too much.

Semester at Sea has a Visa Service they use, and it is very economical for the average student. However, as a family, we do not want to pay to have each visa shipped to us separately. That would cost us about $60 extra. We'll let you know in a later post if we come to regret this decision:)