31 July 2010

Getting Down to the Wire

2004 VW Jetta, purchased Sept 2009 Dave only put on 6,000 miles in 10 months

Wow, Dave will be leaving for Australia in just 8 days! Dave's car, the 2004 VW Jetta, just left yesterday.

My van, 2001 Sienna XLE, will be leaving on Monday night. I have loved owning/driving that van.

We rented a car - with keyless start - that we'll use until the kids and I depart on the 18th of August.

2001 Toyota Sienna XLE with leather seats, dual power doors, sun roof
Great van! Loved driving it.
I took my first load of boxes to the storage unit yesterday so I feel good about the progress of packing. I have plans for how the last few days go, and the reservations are all made. Now to just finish packing.

Looking forward to friend visits before we leave. One more meet up with my mom. Dentist appointments for the boys. Neo has 1 more filling. Tristan need to get his braces removed. A few more phone chats with long distance friends and family, before the time change adds a layer of complexity. Last few days to swim at the Shorewood pool. A friend of Clara's, who has been out of the country since January, will be returning on August 11, so they will have one more visit before we head out....

Getting down to the wire....

17 July 2010


Our wonderful cat, Fiona

Our cat, Fiona, just left with Dave on their way to Kent, Ohio where she will be loved and cared for by Dave's sister, Jennifer and her husband Bob. There's something nice about having her go to family. We'll be able to get updates on her well being from time to time.

Fiona was supposed to be a dog. After our dog Harley died in December 2004, we wanted a new dog after some months. We went to the Dane County Humane Society but they didn't have any dogs that were good with children under 8 - and I had 3 under 8. Of course we couldn't go home empty handed, so the kids begged for a kitten. The staff set us up in the visitation room and proceeded to bring in kittens to interact with our family. Most of the kittens introduced to a walking toddler, a preschooler, and a kindergartener ran for cover. When Fiona a.k.a. Funny came into the room, she didn't flee. She played with the kids! We knew she was different from the start.

Fiona with Neo

Fiona does well with children and with other cats as well. When she arrived to a house filled with cats: Sweet Pea, Muser, and Joey. She didn't mind being hissed at, she even playfully jumped on the other cats. Which they hated - especially Sweet Pea. The other 3 cats died in 2008.
Dave and Fiona resting together

Fiona is a beautiful cat. She is mostly grey with brown and white mixed in. She has some strange habits, like lying down when she eats her food. She's a great companion. She loves to come and lay down next to you when reclining on the couch. She lays at your feet during the night. She has her claws, but rarely scratched - even when being handled roughly by the children. Neo was especially rough on her.
Fiona eating a blueberry

She loves to eat and will walk on you while you're sleeping to let you know that her bowl is empty. She also loves to eat blueberries, raspberries, and pumpkin.

We love Fiona very much and will miss her greatly. But the drive to Ohio is less stressful for her then a flight to Australia and a prolonged quarantine.

07 July 2010

Costly Tuesday!

Tuesday, July 5, Dave took his car into the body shop. Over the winter, he slid off the road on his way to work and hit a guard rail. The front end of his car was damaged - mostly the bumper. He had received an estimate from the body shop of $1700 - so we decided to turn it into the insurance as we have a $500 deductible. We were told a check would be issued to us, and we could schedule the repair.

On Monday night, I went to the laundry room and was surprised to find water standing in the basement near the floor drain. Dave said he smelled sewer. We decided to wait until Tuesday morning to call the plumber.
Pipe as it appeared near the internal clean out.
When the plumber arrived, they ran the roto-rooter to the street, but didn't find anything. When one of the kids flushed the toilet, the plumber noticed water come up out of the floor drain. They ran the rooter machine from the inner cleanout across the house toward the street - but the machine got stuck. When the couldn't free it, they started breaking up the concrete floor.
New pipe near the internal cleanout. The tape measures 4 ft
When the pipe was uncovered, it became obvious that the lead pipe had rotted out. The rooter had gone through the hole in the pipe but could not be pulled back out. Because the pipe had deteriorated, the sewage water was no longer contained in the pipe but was probably draining into the ground under the basement (nice thought).
Old broken pipe near the internal clean out.
Three plumbers spent most of the day in the basement. Breaking up concrete, pulling the rubble out of the house in buckets, removing the old pipe, and replacing it with plastic pipe.

By the time I picked Dave up from work, the house smelled badly of sewer plus we had no ability to dispose of used water. We went out to eat at Pasqual's - a tex/mex family restaurant down the street.

When we returned home, it smelled worse from the glue used to connect the plastic pipe. The note from the plumber read that more floor needed to be dug up and pipe replaced tomorrow, but that we were connected for sewer for the night. That's a relief.
New pipe going toward the front of the house.
We are glad that this plumbing project is happening now rather then in a few months when we are out of the country....at least we can see the situation and understand the problem.

06 July 2010

A Newly Minted Teenager

Clara turned 13 on June 30, 2010.

Grandma Sorenson came to celebrate with her by taking us all ten pin bowling (Clara's choice). Before Grandma arrived on Wednesday, we took Clara to see "Percy Jackson and the Lighting Thief". At the bowling alley, they were playing a "Red Pin" game. One way to win was to leave only the red pin standing for the spare - I picked it up - and we won $5 food coupon. We enjoyed a light lunch at the bowling alley. Then picked up some ice cream treats.

Neo fell asleep in his car seat on the way home from bowling - we tried to get a picture with him included, but you can only see the tuft of his hair over Grandma's shoulder.

We were delighted to learn that Grandma Stallman would be visiting over the weekend. She arrived late afternoon on Friday, July 2 and departed early Sunday morning, July 4. We spent time talking, cooking, a walk on Picnic Point, and enjoying each other's company. It was a very enjoyable visit.

Clara and Rachael clowning together

Neo was thrilled to catch a frog on Picnic Point

On July 4, our friends the Rosebooms, came over for the afternoon. We enjoyed a bbq. Their children: Rachael 13, Ryan 10, and Erin 7 match ours quiet well. In fact, Erin and Zoe are only 10 days apart.

Sunday night, July 4, the children and I went to see the fireworks at Shorewood Hills golf course - our chosen spot for several years now. (Much lower key then "Rhythm and Booms" which was on July 3) The sky threatened rain most of the afternoon. Just as the Grand Finale began, the sprinkles started. We were one of the first back to our van - just in time for the downpour.

Dave had Monday, July 5 off from work for the holiday weekend. So we enjoyed some quiet family time.

05 July 2010

The Odyssey Begins Again

We have purchased our plane tickets for Australia! Dave leaves on 8 August, 2010. He arrives in Sydney on 10 August. He'll be staying at a holiday house in Mac Master's Beach. The house is right on the lagoon. We used to walk past this house regularly. He's really excited about this location. This link is the holiday rental.
The children and I will be flying out on 18 August, 2010. We will stay overnight in Anaheim, CA. On 19 August, we'll spend the day in Disneyland. About 6:30pm, we'll collect our luggage and head to LAX. We're flying out on V Australia. We flew Qantas last time, this will be different. We arrive in Sydney on 21 August.

Much to do when we get back: get the cars up and running, find a permanent rental, buy furniture, get the kids back into school.

We did not sell our house (see my previous post). Our tenants are a married couple, both work as coaches on the UW Crew Teams. They are excited about living in our house - and we believe this will work well. We acquired the lease forms from our attorney. This couple have lived and worked in Madison for 2 years. They come highly recommended from their current landlord.

Dave's sister, Jennifer, will be taking our cat, Fiona. Dave has to take her to Ohio some weekend in July.

After that we have to pack up the house. Some of our stuff will be donated, some stored, some sent to Australia. We'll send some of our personal effects. We are not taking any furniture. We are taking Clara and Tristan's new Trek bikes and the scooters.

We hope to be gone 1 -2 years. Our flights are all One-Way tickets!