Thursday, August 25, 2011

The real work begins

The title may be a little mis-leading. It should read " the real work began." It began last Monday on the 15th. We've been a little overwhelmed and tired, tired, tired. But we got our container and things are moving with the house so YAHOO!!!

We were a bit concerned (mild statement) that our container would not get delivered as scheduled. It was a week overdue into port and then it was chosen by US Customs for "intensive inspection." Fortunately, our prayers were answered and Customs did not fool around with it and released it quickly (most likely was sniffed and scanned as none of the contents were disturbed). What a blessing!

It arrived into Oakland/Alameda on a container ship similar to the one shown going under the Bay Bridge here:
And showed up on our doorstep that Monday morning - Wow!

It took approximately 1 hour, 10 minutes for them to completely unload the container. Yelling out item inventory numbers and stacking boxes in the garage and driveway, they moved fast.

We had the crew for 2 days and you have to make the most of them while they're there. Day 1 was unpacking the container and then you start to identify what goes where in the house - especially the furniture pieces. Most of it is wrapped so there are times you're not sure what it is. I didn't get a picture of all the "stuffing" as they were so quick to unwrap and stuff it into boxes that were then thrown back on the container.

They worked on reassembling furniture and placing boxes in the proper rooms for unpacking later. Part of the crew (with a little side $$$) also made a delivery to my dad's as our sectional was going to his house in addition to returning a dining room table and some odds and ends. That worked out great as we would otherwise be walking around that piece(s) of furniture.

We had to work out some logistics as we also needed the house painted (interior) and had to wait our turn with the contractor. Painting started this week on Tuesday meaning we would have to leave some items boxed and some furniture "loosely" placed. It's just a little goofy here. In the past we've always painted ourselves but this house has really high ceilings and we just can't do it all. Oh, and Bart is really busy. He just can't do it all.

Here's Bart on the Wednesday he took off after the moving crew was done to help organize and put away what we could. What a mess. Where does it all go?

We didn't consider storage or the lack of when we bought the house. We would still buy this house - we love where it's at. It really hit home as we started unpacking that we had a lot of storage in Iowa (basement! and big closets) and Switzerland (built-ins). We have decent sized bedroom closets but there is little in the way of convenient storage elsewhere in the house - but it is big and airy. Just not equipped with storage. Except the kitchen - lots of storage there! :)

We've also had the "Barbeque" project going. The "island" has been ready - 3 weeks earlier than estimated! - and we've had to hold off delivery until our preparation for it is completed. There were Jasmine bushes to tear out, wood railing to be sanded(Susan), primed and painted(Bart & girls) and an electrical outlet (Gpa Paul) to be finalized before it can go in. We're almost done! Bart has just a little painting left. We'll enjoy it when it's done.

While the rest of the house is still "in flux" (exception is Rachel's room now that paint there is finished - she is Bart's "mini-me" - can we all give an "Amen") I am most comfortable when the kitchen is all in place. Day 1 of the move - afternoon:

Day 2 of the move - evening:

The move-in of everything caused another shift in the tenuous balance of the Olson's readjustment period so there have been many a "not so many sleeps" nights. K started sleeping in our bed again (thankful we switched to a King!) and Rachel standing next to the bed saying "I can't sleep" and our responding "nothing we can do - lay down and relax." Makes us all a little crazy - I'm having the same problem some nights. Plus - school was starting (yesterday morning) and we were a little concerned that we were all overtired.

Naturally, as nothing has really gone to plan, the painting started on Tuesday (originally scheduled for previous Thursday) - the night before school. So the girls were on air beds in the Family room and Bart and I have moved into the guest room. Bart & I have to stay there until our new blinds arrive - I'll have to get a pic posted of our "open" space. The painters have been great though and made the girls rooms a priority so theirs were done by Wed. noon and they were able to sleep in their own beds again - and they slept all night! Hallelujah!

I don't have pic's of the girls together on the first day of school. Their departure time is about one hour different: Rachel leaving by 7:25 and Kendra at 8:20. They can both walk to school and they both had a good first day! I don't necessarily want to Blog all the personal things that go on with moving countries and schools but those of you who've done it will know and those who think about it will understand - it's a stressful period. What a sigh of relief and a "thank you Lord" yesterday afternoon when we talked about their day.

I feel like a new kid too! I still know our banker more than anyone else in the community - all the wire transfers to pay remaining bills in Zurich....... I even think Rachel had a better day than Kendra which suprised me. I think that subject is a post of it's own.

Kendra leaving for 5th grade:

Rachel ready for 8th grade - she'll officially be a teenager next week!

All I know is that time flies - whether you're having fun or not!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Which way did it go?

HI!!! Back again. Another trip. To Hawaii to visit the family and celebrate the 1st Birthday of my sister's twins. No pictures as I haven't had time yet to unpack my suitcase let alone download pictures but here I am on the Blog.

The warnings that Re-patriation (return to the Home Country) is harder than the leaving are to be headed. It is. Can't always explain it but it's a different adjustment. The school counselor put it well to Rachel this morning "make sure if something doesn't make sense, you speak up - even though the teachers will be notified you've come from overseas/Int'l school, you look and speak like any other kid around them and they won't know that things are different for you unless you say something." We don't look or sound different but we sure feel that way.

Good News! Our sea-going container of household goods finally reached the Port in Oakland/Alameda.

Bad News! US Customs randomly selected our container for intensive screening. Part of the "harder" of Re-patriation in our book.

It may be that it will still get released quickly but depends on their backlog and whether they want to take a quick peek or deeply dig into our stuff. I can say for the record - there are no verboten, re-sale, weapons, flammable, animal, plant, food product or otherwise forbidden items in our container. So I don't care other than I don't want yet another person touching my stuff when I'm not looking. Just creeps you out a little - or a lot. And we're still rattling around this empty house.

So I'll show off the container for you. After you see the Magic Box.

Magic Box:

This box contains ALL the pieces necessary to put ALL the disassembled items of furniture back together. It is a very, VERY important box. US Customs better not mess with it. Just sayin.'

A lot of people wonder how the boxes/furniture got out of our house and to the container. No one wants to traipse all down 120 steps to the garage area. Everything was entirely boxed and wrapped (patio furniture included!) then loaded onto this small truck via the wanderweg (walking path) next to our house and driven and reloaded into the container. I don't know how many trips they made.

But they made quite a few because I became a bit concerned that what I saw still in my house would not fit into what appeared to be a quickly filling container. The crew chief was pretty sure it would all fit but wasn't fully committed until the end. He said the Swiss tend to pack heavier with the paper wrapping than other shipping companies so they take up more space. Apparently they used over 7 kilos (18-20 lbs or so) of paper on our kitchen items alone. My gosh - we had a 40 ft container, surely it would all fit???

It did. Snug and tight with a bit left over. Not much left over.

Our container has gone by truck from Waedenswil to Basel, loaded on a ship for its trip up the Rhein River to Rotterdam, loaded on a cargo vessel which traveled Rotterdam to Oakland via the Panama Canal and is sitting and waiting it's final destination by truck when released.

I wish we could have earned some miles for freight. Praying the customs process is speedy.

It will be a real treat when this shows up at our door.

Hmmm - What will the neighbors say?