Sunday, June 28, 2009

Frugal First Days in MA

A cross-country move is fraught with expense and inconvenience. To compensate for the hassle and cost, the company gives us a lump sum for incidentals—meaning we get to keep any excess for personal use. Naturally, being frugal folks, Jerry and I have strategized how to get the most out of our money over this past week.

1. Transportation: Had to start with a rental car (approx. $110 per day after outrageous taxes, insurance, and mileage, etc.), because our flight came in late and that’s all that was feasible from the airport. Granted, $110/day is painful to behold, so as promptly as we could, we downgraded to driving a U-haul truck (brilliant! we know!) to total approx. $36 per day after taxes, insurance, and mileage, etc. After learning our car may take yet another two weeks to ship here, we have seriously considered downgrading from the U-haul—is that possible?--to riding bicycles around town. But as it has been raining every day, we are still in the deciding phase of that option.
2. Food: We were brave and ate the free continental breakfasts at EconoLodge, because savings were approx. $5/each for the meal cost. By the way, “brave” is the appropriate adjective, because that place was smelly and dirty like none other, with insects on the appliances and employees who touched things with sketchy hands. Also, since we moved into our apartment as early as it was available, that means we have started cooking meals instead of eating out. Spaghetti last night turned out to be veggie-less when we realized we forgot to pack a can opener. Anyway, the stay in our new apartment brings me to my next point…
3. Housing: Obviously renting. The realtor who assisted us in finding a rental said most people with our income are looking to buy a home, so we feel more frugal than the average consumer already. (all you home buyers, we know it was probably the right option for you—but for us right now a mortgage is just a big liability). Econolodge was approx. $50/night. As soon as the signage occurred for our new apartment rental, we moved in, sans furniture, to save that amount. Our landlord was generous and let our rent begin on July 1st, so these last days of June in our apartment have been actually free.
4. Sleeping: Did I mention we have no furniture? When the air mattresses at Wal-mart looked expensive ($11) we decided to sleep on the floor. Our living room carpet is fairly padded, but it was still soaking wet from being cleaned yesterday. So we slept on the bedroom area carpet, which is equivalent to a firm, firm, firm mattress. Recall what sitting on the floor does to us and it will not surprise anyone to learn that we had a hard time falling asleep last night due more to laughter than discomfort. We laughed hysterically as we discussed ways to save money further. I will refrain from sharing any of the ideas we brainstormed last night because they were coming from sleep-deprived minds and are therefore embarrassing. Funny but embarrassing. Anyway, one night on the floor is all this pregnant woman could take so we did splurge and get an air mattress & pump today.

Well, there is our report for the first few days in Massachusetts. We have found the people friendly, the setting green and gorgeous, and our initial reaction is extreme gratitude to be assigned to this location. We are excited to go to church tomorrow and meet our new ward family. More updates to come…

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Location, Location, Location!

Just in the knick of time, a mere week before the official move-out date from our current apartment, we received notification of the location for our next abode. A few fun facts about the state where we are headed:

1. Home of the first Subway System

2. Home of the first basketball game (played in 1891)

3. Home of the first United State's postal zip code (01001)

4. Home of the first Thanksgiving Day celebration (in 1621)

5. Home of the first college established in North America (if we tell you the college name, it would be even more obvious, so we'll attempt to let the suspense hang a little longer...)

6. Official State Dessert: Boston Cream Pie

Have you all guessed it?

Massachusetts here we come!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Concerning heroes, pancakes, and horses

Though a week after the fact, I figured we might as well still document Memorial Day 2009.

This year more than ever, I seemed to focus on the deeper meaning of this holiday. As a child growing up, I largely looked forward to Memorial Day for our annual pancake breakfast with extended family and friends. Tradition requires borrowing a huge grill for it and everyone has their fill of talking and eating.
But this year, I found myself thinking less about pancakes or chatting with favorite cousins--and instead musing more on the ancestors and heroes of days past.

The day before Memorial Day, the Sabbath, I watched my parents and little brother sing in the church choir. The choir program gave homage to the prophets--both ancient and modern--who mark our heritage as Christians of the Latter-day Saint variety. Then, that evening after church we gathered with cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. for the grave site re-dedication of Uncle Tony, my father's brother. (re-dedicated because they moved Tony to rest next to his parents' graves). He died as a toddler about 50 years ago, so most of us alive today never knew him. But I feel like I know him better now, and look forward to the day when we will all rejoin him to live as an eternal family unit in the life to come. Of course, Memorial Day also means celebrating those who work hard to preserve our freedom and way of life; I felt glad to talk with my cousin Drew who just completed his military service in Iraq. I am happy for him to have time now to be nearer his family.
We also had a Memorial Day barbecue dinner on Monday evening with family on my mom's side. Pictured above is a cute three generation shot of grandpa, son, and grandsons.
During the trip to Boise, of course we took a moment to say hello to the family horses. I get so tickled watching Jerry interact with farm life; everything about it is novel to him. It is like seeing my old world through new eyes as I watch Jerry point to the tractors, ask questions about hay, snap photos of cows, etc. I guess the cow he captured here is a little unique (classy horns). Here is a video of Jerry frolicking with the horse Jasper. My little brother Justin is the expert cameraman whose voice narrates.