Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Moving: A Guide... Sort of... Okay, not really.

We all know it, there's nothing FUN about moving. Yet, somehow, we (and by 'we' I'm just assuming this happens to everyone) let the excitement of something new overshadow the ugly truth- moving SUCKS. Here's a few things I discovered we should have done/leaarned during this process:

Take your estimated expenses and double, no triple, them: You never know what will happen. Like trying to save $100 on a dog proof trashcan and ending up with a $5K vet bill after said dog eats the wrappers/tape from 4 packages of ground turkey and requires emergency surgery. Or realizing that your mattress should not have been stored standing up on it's end for 2.5 years and the movers forgot to wrap it.

Follow the 'don't' rule- don't need/use it, then don't pack it: We were in a bit of a different situation with all of our stuff being in storage. We really didn't know what we were actually unpacking (that was fun for about 3 boxes) but I really wonder what the heck I was thinking while I was packing. I know I only had 6 days to pack the entire condo AND we thought we were really only going to live on St. Thomas for 6-9 months but can someone explain the thought process I had behind packing a $1.89 (open) bag of FLOUR??? This kind of parlays into...

Become intimately familiar with Craigslist: Who needs an awesome plush king featherbed topper for their bed? Well not us anymore because (see above) we just had to buy a new mattress. What are we going to do with the 64" projection TV that was meant for the basement and can't make the turn? Gets a little too cold here in Iowa to turn the garage into a sitting area! And then there's that mattress!  How about a Playstation 2? I didn't think people even played that thing anymore (again, wth did we pack it?) but three separate people have asekd about the posting. Maybe it's because I'm bundling it with Dance, Dance Revolution...

What can go wrong, will go wrong: And you'd better be able to laugh about it or you're gonna go insane. We measured everything in this house. Except for the door to the basement. Who knew we'd have an abnormally narrow (29") door that an abnormally large couch (32") wouldn't fit through??? Tim has a plan, I'm sure there will be blog post in my future when it happens. We actually got a pretty good story out of one of our wrongs. The brand new washing machine broke on the third load-flashing error codes and door locked. Yes, my washer held our duvet covers hostage- mind you I had a zillion loads to do because everything in storage had to be washed. When I say broke, I mean BROKE. As in  for 4 days until they could deliver a new one. Even the installers couldn't figure it out. They had to take my washer back to the store with the laundry in it and deliver it to me later in the week. Apparently this has NEVER happened before to Nebraska Furniture Mart. I've made my mark :) they know me not by name but as 'the girl whose clothes were held hostage by the washer.' This leads me to...

You will spend many days not REALLY getting dressed: I wore yoga pants and running shorts so many days in a row that when I went to our PO Box to get the mail dressed, with make up on and my hair down the guys that work there didn't know who I was. True story. Ouch.

Things you think you will use right away, nope: Given my love of baths and the fact I wasn't able to take one while we lived on the rock I pretty much bet I would be in the tub that first night!! Not so much. First you have to find the towels, that only took me about a day and a half. Then they had to be washed. See above, they were not in the first two loads. By the time I had towels I was working so feverishly at unpacking that I could barely pour myself into bed at night, much less laid in the tub and not drowned. We'll have been in here for two weeks tomorrow and it has yet to happen.

You will become incapable of making even the simplest decisions: Yes, it's exciting to have new places to put things- especially in the kitchen- but after getting everything out of the boxes (and washed by the way) I was a bumbling idiot. For the life of me I couldn't decide where to put a thing and I just walked around the kitchen island picking things up and putting things back down on the counter. This transferred to most shopping trips- I'd stand in Walmart or Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond and not be able to pick out a freaking spicerack (because FYI spices do not last 2.5 years in storage)! Don't get me started on where to hang things- that would be why there is a pile of wall art leaning against the dining room wall. For all my friends/family who have built their houses I applaud you.

Cashiers & Customer Service Reps will know you by name: I've gotten REALLY good and making the 'loop' of stores here in West Des Moines. I go to Bed, Bath and Beyond, then the JC Penney Home Store, then Target, then Walmart then CostCo. I buy whatever I think will work. Then I take back 90% of it. You should see our credit card statement. Tim can't even yell at me because he likely can't make heads or tails out of it! Now that I've discovered Big Lots (Dad- you were right all these years. I'm sorry) and the Dollar Store I'm going to have to adjust my route...

You bought it, it broke, you'll buy it again: Our final breakage tally: 1 champagne flute, 1 martini glass, 1 wine glass. If you know us, you know we have PLENTY of back up of each. 1 dinner plate, 1 square side plate, 1 round side plate, 1 serving platter and 1 serving bowl. All from our everyday dishes and all still available online at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Woot woot! 1 (out of 2) really cool Ikea lamp that I found on eBay. Not sure if it's the right size til it gets here.. Regardless, not bad!! Of course, I'm not telling you about the things that grew mold on them in storage that were tossed :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Cardinals Fan in Cub Territory

This isn't the first time I've lived in Cubs territory- I spent 8 years in Chicago for goodness sake- but this is the first time (minus one tipsy purchase of a floppy Cubs hat) I'm conflicted about who to root for. Yesterday at the game I found myself unintentionally cheering for the dirty Cubs. Yep, you heard me right. Please just hear me out.

* For starters they aren't really the Cubs, they are the Iowa Cubs- referred to here as simply 'I-Cubs'. Yes, I understand they are part of the overall (evil) organization. Yes, I understand that I-Cubs generally become Cubs. But they are KIDS! I mean it- I referred to half the team as pint-sized. The other half was full sized boys or just full grown. You wouldn't root against kids, would you?

* Minor League stadiums are very intimate which means your voice carries loud and clear. If you're rooting for the other team it is BEYOND obvious. Trust me. It's not like big parks where just the people around you know you're rooting against the beloved home team, here everyone knows. And stares. With evil stares. Now, I'll have no problem rooting for the Memphis Cardinals when they are here. I'm also guessing there will be more people on our side for those games vs. yesterday when it was the Texas Ranger's AAA team. However, yesterday I found myself getting into it with the crowd. I actually had to turn to Tim a couple times and say I forget who I'm supposed to be cheering for...

* It's cheap. I mean cheaper than cheap. Not just tickets- EVERYTHING! And because of that we now have A LOT of tickets. Originally we had bought a Groupon of 10 tickets for $25- that's $2.50/ticket! We were able to upgrade our GA tickets to first row for $5 more. That made our tickets $7.50 - the SAME price as our 24 oz beer we bought! Which leads me to how we got our next group of 10 tickets...For $35 you can join the I-Cubs Beer Mug Club. Yep, I said Beer Mug Club. That buys you 5 tickets and a reusable 18 oz mug. The mug gets filled for $4 and, on Thursdays, your first beer is FREE! Don't even get me started on the cost of suites or the party deck...

* They serve beer until the end of the 9th inning. No joke. We heard last call when there were 2 outs in the 9th. I don't need to further elaborate on this.

* Seeing the kids get so excited to do all things Minor League parks offer is heartwarming- the games between innings, the t-shirts and hotdogs they shoot out of cannons (yes, I said hot dogs), the foul balls (there is actually a voiceover that says 'Give it to a kid' when an adult catches it) and getting balls from the guys in the bullpen. They all look so cute in their I-Cubs gear and it's the innocence that makes me feel bad if I root against them. Not to mention these kids will have a rude awakening if they ever get to go to Wrigley. Why kick 'em while they're down when they don't even know they are?!

* Tony LaRussa was an I-Cub! Yep, had to see it with my own eyes! I had no idea TLR was one not just once, but twice!

Maybe he'll come back to his old stomping grounds now that he's retired!

So that's my argument. What do you think? What if I solemnly swear to never purchase any I-Cubs gear? No matter how many times my mug is refilled..

Friday, April 6, 2012

Make New Friends but Keep the Old!

(If you were, at any point in time, a Girl Scout I bet you just sang 'One is silver and the other's gold' either outloud or to yourself. I know I did! Let's do it in rounds girls!!!)

Okay, now that we're past that... have you ever thought about HOW you make friends? I hadn't, it's always come pretty naturally to me. I think I'm pretty laid back and get along with most people so making friends has never been an issue. Let's look at major life changes in the Timeline of Mary where making new friends was necessary:

Kindergarten (1985): Making friends at this age is pretty natural. You borrow a red crayon or share your cookies and voila.

Move (1990): This one was a bit tougher. Luckily it was only 5th grade and that's generally before girls get catty. At least it was back then. I have a feeling, with the way the world is now, that might start in Kindergarten these days... You hang out on the playground, maybe play some foursquare (the game with the red ball, not the Ap) and make friends in your subdivision by riding bikes and playing freeze tag.

High School (1993): Living in St. Louis and going to Catholic grade school it was a natural choice for me to go to a all girls Catholic high school. In fact, I never thought twice about NOT going to one. So unlike my friends in public junior highs who would travel on to high school with the same group of friends, there were only two of us from my grade school that went to Nerinx. I remember meeting several girls at uniform fitting and when we had to buy our books- actually, that may have been the same day- but until those first days of school it's few and far between. Still, it's school and you find out who has the same interests as you through many channels- your classes, sports, extracurricular activities, mixers, etc.

College (1997): Who doesn't make friends in college? There's thousands of teenagers living on their own with newfound freedom! Making friends is natural- be it in the dorms, during rush, in class or at bars- there's a common ground that everyone is standing on.

Move to Chicago/First Job (2001): I moved with my best friend who I met in high school and lived with 3 of our 4 years at Mizzou plus another one of our friends. We knew a handful of people in Chicago including some family. This was an adventure! My first job was with Hyatt and I made some of my closest friends to date there. 3 of them were bridesmaids in my wedding! One came to visit me on St. Thomas THREE times all the way from San Diego. I'm Facebook friends with, I think, nearly all the people that were in the Sales Office during my two years there. I talk to quite a few of them on a regular basis. And the ones I don't talk to quite as often? I can pick up the phone or run into them and we fall right back into conversation like we just talked two weeks ago. Those friends made in the office also because the core group of friends I hung out with after work, on weekends, etc.

Move to St. Thomas (2009): We were lucky enough to have our friend Billy C. give us the names of his good friends before we moved and they quickly turned into some of our best friends. I honestly don't know what we would have done without Kate or Potter when we got there! Both of them took us under their wings and showed us the ropes which included me getting a job and making a circle of girlfriends that are second to none. I thank my lucky stars that we had the opportunity to experience what we did on the rock and I'll never forget the friendships I made there.

What do every one of those situations have in common? I was in a situation where meeting people was not only easy, it was unavoidable. It's not so much about making friends but having the opportunity to meet them. That brings us to where we are now- having just moved to Iowa. So what's the difference you ask? We're not in a situation where we are thrown in naturally to seeing people on a daily basis. For starters, neither Tim nor I go into an office on a daily basis. Tim has a great team (with great families) but it's always different when you spend 8 hours a day in an office with someone. We know about 3 people here and it's been challenging trying to get together with them- schedules, time, etc. just haven't meshed. Plus, you never want to feel like you're intruding on people's lives. Ironically, one of these people is a girl I worked with back at Hyatt in Chicago! Second, I have a lot of travel coming up with my freelancing. I'm gone end of April/early May, late May through mid-June and end of July/early August. Boo.

So this means we have to make a concerted effort to meet people so we can make friends! How? Well, this is what I've come up with so far:

The Gym: Everyone said joining a gym will help make friends and I get it. It's camaraderie, especially in classes. However, so far, I've found that while people are friendly at the gym and talk before/after classes this doesn't necessarily translate into hanging out outside the gym.

Young Professionals Connection: We joined this group last week and went to the New Member gathering the same day. Seems promising- people around our age who are professionals and active in the community. They have a ton of events planned and plenty of opportunities to get involved. It is whatever you want to make it. I'm looking forward to this one!

Meetup Groups: This one is new to me. I had never heard of Meet Ups before and I can't quite remember how I found them but they are basically groups of people that share common interests. There's one for singles, one for knitters, several for moms. There's one for JUST about everything it seems. The one that intrigued me was the Couples Meeting Couples. We've met several couples here that seem like a blast to hang out with- we have yet to meet one without kids. It is quite obvious that, here in Iowa, we are WAY behind in this area. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we don't want to hang out with our friends with kids but I can't just call them up on a whim and expect them to be able to hang out that night. So as long as this Couples Meeting Couples doesn't have a freaky deaky side to it we will be checking them out soon.

Sports: It sounds like the YPC will coincide with this one. Unfortunately we got here too late for the indoor wiffleball season but YPC does soccer, volleyball, dodgeball, softball- just about anything you'd want to play! I'm looking forward to it!

Church: I know this one will take a good lot of you by surprise but it's true. It's certainly not a matter of whether or not you are a practicing Christian here but what kind. It's happened quite a bit and I'm okay with it. People ask if you're Catholic and tell you that you need to go to St. Francis. I'm anxious to check it out!

Bike Clubs: Biking is HUGE in Iowa. Trails (really nice paved trails) connect soooo much. Tim's boss is part of a group that bikes to a bar every Wednesday. They also bike to a Farmer's Market every weekend. You can bike from our new house all the way downtown without setting foot (wheel?) in traffic- awesome! My bike will be here Wednesday and we just have to purchase a new one for Tim. We kind of forgot it was stolen out of our garage in Chicago before we moved...

All in all we have a lot of options and I'm excited to explore Des Moines (did I mention there are 15 wineries with an hour!?!?) and all it has to offer. Of course, I'm always up for suggestions! And visitors from my 'old' friends :)