Saturday, August 6, 2016

Hamping it up

Usually, when you live in your home without any of your household goods, you say you're "camping out." But that's not really accurate, since the word "camping" doesn't usually conjure up working bathrooms and stove/ovens... or several rooms. But it's not "glamping" either, because personally, there's nothing glamorous about air mattresses and sleeping bags (especially in July in Hawaii.) So I think we need to go a bit further and create our own word to describe our experience these past four weeks--hamping. House camping.


Starting good habits of riding bikes in the house.



Don't even ask me how many times a day I have to say "Stop hanging on the counter!"


The one part of our new house that's "bigger"--the kitchen!
It goes without saying that there are many aspects of this move that I'd wish we'd done differently. Or rather, that I now know better for when we move out of Hawaii.

Remember that Advanced Shipment we sent out before Memorial Day in Maryland? Well that arrived on-island safe and sound and was delivered on Friday, July 1. Eight days after we had arrived and the timing was perfect. If we hadn't had that shipment, I'm not sure I could have pulled this off. When we were deciding what to send ahead back in May, we had no idea we'd be moving into our house early. Otherwise I would've packed very differently.

Dining room.

Den.

Girls' room.

Girls' closet. Overtime I open this I see the scene from "Pride and Prejudice": "Shelves in the closet, happy thought, indeed."

Boys' room. 

Not as many shelves in this closet, because apparently, it's meant to be actually used for hanging clothes.

Master Bedroom. This room is SMALL and it's also the hottest. Which is sad, because the master bedroom should not be the saddest room in the house.

Every day I look at this sink/cupboard combination and try and figure it out. And every day I just don't get it. Why not use a sink that is also a vanity? The world may never know.

Main bath. What you can't see is that there are no exhaust fans in these bathrooms. My boys think this is hilarious and like to lock their sisters in the bathroom when they are particularly "stinky."
But we did decide to send all our camping stuff, just in case we got tired of living in a hotel and wanted to get out in nature for a little while. I didn't actually go through our camping supplies--we just set the bins out to be packed up. But for the most part, it was enough to get by. We had one pot, one skillet, one kettle, plastic plates/bowls/cups/flatware, and cutting board. We also had our camping grill and my Blendtec blender.

This is our camping awning that we're using temporarily.


Our yard is a pretty decent size for living in town in Hawaii!

And we have a 2-car garage, which can be hard to find here!

You guys, I am trying to get into this whole "no shoes in the house thing." I know it's better. But now I just have a house full of muddy footprints.
For sleeping, everyone had a sleeping bag. Unfortunately, due to some mishaps, we were down to only one air mattress. And then we had three camping chairs. We had thrown in a folding table and chairs and our new patio table set that we had just purchased from Ikea (and kept flat-packed in the box.)  Originally, we were going to send our beach stuff ahead but since the shipment was going out right before our east coast beach trip, we decided to keep it back. But we did send our bikes--and having those for the kids was pretty much a game changer!

This child. I just can't.

We went from barely making it out of the driveway to riding loops around the neighborhood without training wheels in about 3 days!





My biggest kid.
So despite having some essentials, we still had to make several pricey Target runs. Pillows, for instance. They're not expensive. But when you multiply each pillow by 7 (because a certain family member requires two), it's a bit more than I'd rather spend on something we wouldn't even need in a few weeks. We also got each person a new beach towel and that was to be used for both recreational and essential drying needs. A cheap knife, some measuring cups and spoons, a mixing bowl and spatula...

This is how we brewed our coffee each morning. It tasted so good but took so much longer!

6 towels!

This is how I ironed--folding table, towel, and an iron we bought for Jon to use at work.

And this is how I cook bacon without a stove exhaust. I mean, it's Hawaii. Why would you not want a stove exhaust? The world may never know.
In short, it was enough to "get by," but not exactly easy-living. Thankfully, because Hawaii is truly a "small world," the sister of a friend I went to college with (and who married on of Jon's best friends from high school) is also living here and she not only dropped by to say hello and introduce herself, but also came with a box full of kitchen things, extra towels, and sheets. I gotta say, more than anything, I was most excited about the sheets. Sleeping bags are not my jam. Ew.

We're still adjusting to geckos in the house. 

And cockroaches everywhere. I think it may take the full 4 years to adjust actually.
The first few days of "hamping" went fairly well. The kids had lots of new things to keep them occupied. We're not used to this whole 2-car garage + large/flat driveway deal, so our new MO became wake up, open the garage, and ride bikes around for a few hours. I had to go out and by some new pajamas just so I could be dressed appropriately for sipping coffee and watching kids on the front stoop by 7am. Speaking of the front stoop--we quickly realized we needed some comfortable seating for the many hours we would be spending out there. I had my heart set on rocking chairs. We've never had a front porch before and although this doesn't quite fit the bill, this small bit of Pennsylvania farm charm warms my heart!



I always thought the best set-up was a window over the kitchen sink facing the backyard. But a kitchen window overlooking the driveway seems to work much better here!


It rains here pretty much every day.





Making a animal habitat out of packing material.
As is typical, everything seems to go wrong when you move into a house. Even though our lease started in mid-June, we had told our landlords that we weren't moving in until July. So they didn't quite have everything ready. That was okay. But within our first few days we noticed that the fridge was leaking, and that it had been leaking for a long time, and that the wood side panels around the fridge were now covered in mold. *shudder* Mold is kinda a given here in hot, humid Hawaii. But I'm still new. So I'm just gonna go ahead and let myself be grossed out.


More fun with packing materials!


It's a Coast Guard helicopter! We're not used to living so close to Coast Guard action--it's pretty fun!
The leak was caused by the water hose and we had to turn off the water to the fridge (and the new replacement fridge does not have a water hose) so now we no longer have a filtered water dispenser or automatic ice maker. Which makes me a little sad. Because it's hot, humid Hawaii and mama likes her ice. But after making our own for the past several weeks and filtering our own water, I can say it's not really so bad and I'm no longer worried about losing hours of my time each week to making ice and filtering water. Just call me an overcomer.

First real meal in our house--Mango Chicken Salads. They were sooo good, but even better after weeks and weeks of not cooking!


Speaking of overcoming. Let's talk about air conditioning. Houses in Hawaii, especially older ones and ones on this side of the island, generally don't have AC. First, electricity is much more expensive here. And second, when it's breezy it's actually quite pleasant. It's just the days that it is not breezy that are borderline unbearable.


FaceTiming with our favorite Spicy Family! Gosh we miss our BFFs!


You can just imagine how smoothly FaceTiming with 8 kids goes...

After weeks of sitting on folding chairs, we were all just dying to relax on a couch!
Personally, I'm a huge fan of this set-up (at least for most of the time.) I love breezes and keeping windows open and not being shut up in some artificial box of artificially chilled air. It's nice, because I can hear my kids everywhere--outside or inside. Although I can also hear my neighbors, and what music they're listening to or what movie they're watching (and smell what they're having for dinner!) And when you consider our spicy family, I'm sure they're hearing a lot more of us.


When you really like the taste of your sister's My Little Pony toothpaste but don't like the picture on the front--duct tape!


The neighbors dog keeps coming over. I have no idea why.

This is our neighbor. She's really attached to her dog.
But like I said, there have been some unbearably hot days. So our first major purchase was a portable AC unit for our room. Sorry kids, you'll just have to deal. Our landlords decided to upgrade the one AC window unit in the main part of the house. And they paid big bucks to have a professional install it and professionally build out one of these ancient louvered windows. It wasn't until it was all said and done that we all realized the unit's plug was not compatible with the nearest outlet.

Playing [I have no idea] with whatever we can find in the house!

This girl, she's got a pose for everything these days.
And so then we had to have an electrician come in and build a new outlet closer to the unit. But thankfully, we now have this shiny, new AC unit that I'm scared to death to use because I have no idea what it will do to our power bill!

Ah yes, power. In order to save on electricity, many houses here use solar panels. They're expensive and the waitlist can be several years long. So often people will just get them for their water. Which is what we have. But since the landlord's weren't ready for us, the solar panels weren't flushed/turned on/whatever it is that needs done. And since we're living on "Hawaii time" now, it was at least two weeks before the solar panel tech guy could finally find time to make it out to our house. So for our first two weeks, we didn't have hot water.

She begged for a tubby our first day here... and then drew all over the walls. Making ourselves right at home!
Well, sorta. There is a way to override the solar and heat water with electric (for overcast days), but it takes about 30 minutes to heat up. And then it automatically shuts off after a few hours. Let's just say, as a mother of four, I don't exactly schedule my showers, laundry, or dishes 30 minutes ahead of time. Or I will, and then something will come up, and by the time I get around to it, the water is back to being cold. It was an experience to be sure. But it's been so hot that cold showers weren't really a problem anyway!

Playing with the hose ... While it's raining.




We love sitting out here ... when it's not raining.
And then there are the typical adjustments with moving into a new house. Jon and I hardly slept a wink that first night. Between trying to sleeping with the windows and doors wide open in a neighborhood that is completely unfamiliar ... and trying to identify all the weird sounds and new lights, it was hard to relax. Also, the curtains that came with our house are rather, er, questionable. Some are mildewy, others are ripped, and all are stained. Most don't even fit the windows, but since you want the breeze to flow through, you don't really close the curtains anyway. So while it gets dark a little earlier here (before 8pm), the sun is up before 6am ... and therefore, so are my kids.

Front porch views.



It's hard not to move into a hew house and just see all the things that need done. We need new curtain rods in all the rooms, new curtains, shelves here, shelves there, the patio needs power-washed and refinished, the laundry room would look so much better if the floor was painted. The can lights needs spray painted. The closet doors need painted. The back patio needs some sort of shade. We need plants! Can we build our own Bermuda shutters for the front windows? Replace all the shower heads! Replace all the fans! Build more shelves for the closets!

I'll just stop there. Because there's this tension between, this isn't our house and we don't want to dump too much money into something that will give us no return and, we have to live here for the next four years, let's try to make this as comfortable as possible!

No TV for 6 months! So we watched movies on the laptop.

We've been on a quest for the perfect after-church brunch restaurant. TripAdvisor led us to this interesting establishment. Let's just say, I don't think they have building codes in Hawaii. 
So yes, this has been our earliest experiences in our house. We spend most of our free time doing projects and then forcing ourselves to take a break and do something Hawaii-esque--gotta take advantage of living here somehow! But those first few weeks of camping weren't all about the house. There were children involved too. And next time, I'll tell you all about entertaining children in an empty house with no car. Until then!
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