Monday, November 15, 2010

To Move or Not To Move

..that is the question that's been plaguing us for the last year. Although there are many things I love about living in Southern California, there are just as many things I could live without. The traffic, the barren feel of the desert, the meth-heads. MM is especially unhappy here. He works outside and the temps in the summer are always in the triple digits.

MM is the type of person who goes somewhere on vacation and decides he wants to move there. Every time he goes somewhere he comes home, checks what type of pay he could get, then starts scheming ways to get me to move. The first time he did this was when we were still dating and he wanted to move to Montana. Y'all remember how that turned out. Since then he's focused on Alaska (Snort), Texas, Oregon, Idaho, Nebraska, Northern California and a billion other places I can't remember right now. I'm open to moving, but it has to be somewhere that's good for our family as a whole. Good schools, jobs, housing, cost of living, etc.


MM's dream is to live in a small, out-of-the-way town in the mountains somewhere. I'm opposed to the mountains because of the snow, but I could do a small town. Of course, when I think small town I think around 5,000-10,000 people. MM, on the other hand, thinks 50-100. No, that isn't a typo or a joke. He really wants to live in a town of 100 people.

Now, I've lived in a town of 100 people. It isn't all it's cracked up to be. Especially when you're a kid. Sure it was great to be able to run around from sunup til sundown and know every single person in town, but it sucked balls when you wanted ice cream or pizza or to see a movie and nothing was available. As an adult I can see the frustrations piling up - the price of groceries, the lack of options for shopping/oil changes/etc.

After much (as in A FREAKING LOT) of debate, we agreed to focus our energies on Northern California. It's still relatively close to our families, my brother lives there and MM's retirement wouldn't be effected. Plus, it's green and pretty. Then we did the thing you're never supposed to do when you want to move. We set all our hopes and dreams on it. We fell in love with some of the small mountain and coastal towns. We found excellent shopping and restaurants. We met people we knew we could get close with. We even found houses we absolutely had to have.

Then we didn't get hired. Anywhere.

With the current saturation in the job market, literally 1000s of candidates were applying for the same job. MM made it into the top 5 a few times, but we were passed over in the end. We were crushed. Especially since we thought we'd found the perfect compromise - somewhere high enough in elevation that it wasn't 100 degrees in the summer, but low enough that it didn't dump snow in the winter. Good schools, good access to shopping, amazing landscape and outdoor activites...the whole ball of wax.

Because the kids are about to start high school and we don't want to move them once they do, this was sort of our last shot. If we didn't move this year, we'd have to wait a minimum of 7 years - the amount of time until the kids graduate high school. So the blow was especially crushing. It isn't like we could say, "oh, that's alright, we'll just try again next year."

There are some good things about us not moving. We've made some excellent friends here, and so have the kids. Our families live here, and moving away from them was going to be hard on us. Especially since they're really involved with the kids. MM's job is really stable. But..well, we just had our hearts set on moving.

All is not lost. We'll revisit the idea in a few years, and start making plans. I don't think MM will ever be able to talk me into moving to the mountains, but I'm sure we can find a place that's a good compromise. Especially once the kids have gone on to college.

In the meantime, we did decide to look for a bigger house. MM bought this one when he was single and we grew out of it pretty much the second we moved in. We found a place nearby that's twice the square footage, with a huge fenced yard for the dogs and tons of trees for the kids. I might want to have babies with the kitchen, it's so gorgeous (Casee called it Amazeballs..I agree).

As much as I love the new house, I hate moving. I'm not looking forward to it at all. I have this week to pack. We're moving the bulk of our stuff on Saturday. The good news is that we aren't moving far, so we can take our time and not worry about packing as meticulously as we would have otherwise. I'm clinging to that, because I effing hate moving/packing/unpacking.

Speaking of..I'm hosting a moving party on Saturday. You're all invited. BYOB and BYOS (bring your own boxes and sharpie).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cruisin'

We're back from our cruise! I can't believe how fast time flew by. Not only did the cruise come up way faster than I expected, but it was over before I could blink! Four days zipped right by.

We had a great time. Sunday night we drove to Long Beach and spent the night in a hotel. We went with some friends of MM's, and they all had rooms, too.  We had a little cruise pre-party in one of their rooms and then had dinner together at Hooters. To make my night even better, Greenbay won (a shocker, I know). They really trounced Dallas. It was awesome.

Monday was cruise day. We left the hotel around 11 - after eating breakfast - to check in and board the cruise ship. I wasn't sure what to expect since this was our first cruise, but it was pretty painless. The line was already pretty long when we got there, but once they start moving people in it went quick. We checked in and got our Sail and Sign cards (which were also the room key), some instructions about boarding and had our bags searched. Then it was time to head onto the ship. We posed for pictures going on, then made our way to our stateroom.

We sailed on the Paradise. I'm not sure what I expected the ship and our room to look like, but both were surprising. The ship was huge, of course, but it wasn't as big as I expected it to be. I never felt like I was going to get lost or that I couldn't find my way around. And yet I never felt hemmed in, either. I was worried that I'd get cabin fever or feel claustrophobic, but I never did. Our room was small, but it wasn't so tiny that we couldn't move around. We spent time relaxing in our room with no problems. Ours was an interior room. I don't know that I'd do that again. It was too disorienting being in the dark like that. Waking up in the morning especially was a bitch, because there was no sunlight available.

After checking out our room, we met our group for lunch on the Lido deck. The restaurant on the deck was a buffet style, with stations for pizza, sandwiches and dessert (MM and another friend really took advantage of the dessert..esp the ice cream). We snuck in there more than once during the course of the cruise for midnight pizza and chili french fries.

We set sail Monday evening around 5:45. We watched the ship leave port from the balcony. Afterward we met for dinner, then turned in early after a few drinks and some dancing. Tuesday we spent the day at Catalina Island. The Island is gorgeous, with green rolling hills and amazing architecture. Most of it is protected land, so it isn't overdeveloped. We stayed in town and did some shopping, then MM and I broke from our friends and wandered around on our own. We ended up playing mini-golf, which I lost (though I still think MM cheated), then having coffee together while we browsed some shops. It was a really great way to spend the afternoon.

We caught up with our friends and headed back to the ship together. Everyone broke up to nap or change for dinner, so MM and I explored the ship. We chose the anytime dining option (meaning we didn't have a set time we had to eat). It's a little more expensive, but totally worth it. Our restaurant was excellent. Over the course of the week we sampled smoked duck, crab cakes, wild mushroom soup. stuffed mushrooms, burgundy wine soaked pears, prime rib, lobster. There were a few things I didn't care for, but overall I was very impressed. We generally met our entire party for dinner, though a few nights we ate with just one or two couples (there were a total of 13 of us, 6 couples and one single woman).

Wednesday we spent the day in Ensenada, Mexico. We had originally planned to do an excursion to La Bufadora (the blowhole) but we decided to nix the idea after some reports of violence and shootings came out. Instead we stayed in town, close to where the shuttles were to take us back to the ship. We browsed the shops and got some souvenirs, then planted ourselves on a patio, drank cheap beer (literally cheap - 20 beers for $10) and people watched. It was a fairly relaxing day for me, though MM was on guard the whole day.

We headed back to the ship early, before dark. After dinner we watched the Newlywed Game, which was hilarious, then caught a comedy show late that night, which was also hilarious. Thursday was an at-sea day. The ship was really pitching and rocking, and I ended up feeling kind of seasick. I rested in the morning, then met MM and the rest of our group for bingo at 11. Afterward we had lunch, then went to an art show they were having. One of our friends ended up buying some amazing artwork.

That afternoon we napped, then met for dinner. Half of our party was doing a special chef's dinner, so the rest of us ate together, then got drinks and relaxed in the piano bar. We saw another comedy show (same comedian, new material - he wasn't as funny this time around), then drank some more. Us girls got a table and gossiped while the guys smoked cigars on the other side of the bar. It was nice to visit and relax. We caught another comedy show later that night, then went to the disco and danced. And then we hit the pizza bar at 2 am, naturally.

Friday morning we met our group for breakfast, then waited to disembark. Once we cleared customs, it was back home to the kids. Boy did I miss them. My mom stayed with them so they wouldn't have to miss school, which was nice for us. THANKS MOM! I love it when the kids are with my mom, because I don't have to worry about them.

We did get a call from our friends on the way home. Somehow my luggage ended up in their truck, so I wasn't able to unpack last night. I also had all the souvenirs in my bag, which means no presents for the kids. Luckily one of our friends lives not too far from here, so she was going to bring my bag to her house so we can pick it up today. I haven't gone through our pictures yet. I hope we got some good ones.

The first thing MM did when we got home was start pricing out another cruise. He wants to take the kids on a family cruise next year, maybe for Thanksgiving. Our friends are going again in January and asked us to join them, but I'm not sure we will. We have a lot going on in the next few months and I think we're going to need January to recover (I'll post about that later). I wouldn't mind doing something over Thanksgiving, though. I guess we'll see.

I'm glad to be home, regardless of how much fun we had. I missed the kids and the dogs. I do wish I could have brought some of the amenities home with me.

I really miss the 24/7 room service, cabin steward and pizza bar.

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