Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Electrical Inspection...Still Waiting

Here's an update on our saga with the City of Richmond Department of Permits and Inspections. I shared before about the first step in our attempt to get an inspection on some electrical work we had done in our home. There was a waiting period, followed by the extremely disappointing day when they showed up while we were there and left us a note asking to reschedule.

Two days after that, on Friday, I called the automated system and set up another appointment for the following Monday. In hopes of talking with a real person and getting some pointers on how to actually get this inspection to occur, I called back and waited on hold for 25 minutes. No joke. Never got through.

Since the recording tells me that they are still running three days behind schedule, I assume that they will definitely not be there on the actual day of the appointment, following suit from our prior appointment. Well, I was wrong. They came by, no call, and we weren't there. So they left us another note telling us to reschedule.

I made another appointment today. I then talked to Pam. Pam is wonderful. I got the address to her supervisor, I'm sending a letter in to recommend her for a raise. Her job must suck, she has to listen to people like me complain about the cities inefficient way of handling things when she has nothing to do with it and doesn't get payed nearly enough. She says she gets tons of calls just like mine every day. She was very patient and even let me give her my idea of how to better run the process.

Maybe the work will never get inspected, but at least Pam might get a raise.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Missing Fairmont

I mentioned before that James was out of town for most of last week. I didn't talk about where he was for fear of another flood of tears, and I tried to keep it to a minimum.

For the past 7 years, James and I have been involved in a mission trip with our church, Stony Point. We travel with a team to Fairmont, Wv and are paired up with a host family. This family is usually a widowed lady, and may include her children, grandchildren, or other family members. We do either minor repairs on her home, construction projects, or aesthetic improvements to make her life a little easier and manageable.

The construction isn't the "main thing," as we always say. The main thing is the people. The people of Fairmont, the other teams who have traveled from all over the country to be paired with other families, the people on our own team. But mainly the people of Fairmont. The work we do is really just the avenue we use to allow us to spend time with these people, love them, and restore some hope to their lives.

Living in poverty in the hills of West Virginia is a hard life. You see the despondency and lifelessness in the eyes of the people. By the end of our week, it's worth all the work to see a faint glimmer of hope begin to return to their eyes.

The team from Stony Point has varied from 30-50 people. The third year of the trip was mine and James' second year attending, but first year attending together. I won't go into detail now about how we first started dating and all that stuff, maybe some other time. There are all kind of crazy happenings and "coincedences" that make up our story, and it all began that year in Fairmont, building a roof on a widow's home. We've been every year since then, and were the leaders of the trip the past 2 years.

When the planning began for this year's trip, we knew we couldn't sign up to go, and definitely couldn't lead again, with all the planning it's taking to get to Scotland. But we both wanted to be there.

Time came for the trip, and I couldn't get off of work. James quit his job a month ago to do the hundreds of jobs that need to get done, and be supported by his sugar momma. Just because I couldn't go, I couldn't hold James back from having a great time. But it didn't make it easier to see him go, knowing I would still be here. I cried a bunch. Especially when I talked to people on the trip and heard the amazing stories about what was happening. It was hard. Fairmont holds a big place in my heart.

But! There's a reason for everything. I don't know why I couldn't be there, but at least it was only because we're planning a much longer trip to a far-away place.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Weekend Review

-Worked 'till 12
-Visited my friend & co-worker who just had a baby: the first boy after 4 girls. He's rediculously cute. But it's not a surprise, because the whole family's so cute you just want to hug them.
-Drove from way west on Staples Mill to Chester. Was so tired; fought to keep my eyes open the entire 47 minute drive
-Sat out in the sun for a little bit
-Did some laundry/wrote some thank you notes/played with Owen/cleaned up/talked on the phone/read some blogs/did some reading from actual books/ate a bunch of fruit and vegetables in hopes of staving off my ice cream craving.
-It didn't work. Ate some ice cream.
-Got excited that James was coming home the next day.
-Went to Bed

-Bike Ride
-Post Office
-Relaxed outside
-Welcomed James home
-Left for wedding in Bethesda, MD
-Sat in traffic, missed the first half of the ceremony
-Had a good time at the wedding; took my favorite type of photos: self-taken

-Enjoyed an easy ride home, no traffic, good conversation with my friend Lynn while James caught up on his sleep

-Church at Stony Point
-Lunch w/ parents at Panera
-Hung out around metro Richmond, no time to drive to our temporary home
-Church at Franklin Street
-Enjoyed a delicious Rainbow Donut after the service
-Evening church service at Stony Point to talk about vision and mission of church for next 5 years
-Had an intense conversation about intense things
-Dinner with friends at El Cap-something (tiny place next to 7-11 by Regency Mall)
-Had another intense conversation about the same intense things
-Home, mentally exhausted from thinking about intense things all weekend
-To bed.

My Inexperienced Jewelry Store Rating

Today my boss asked me to do him a favor during work. He often asks these favors of me. I truly don't mind doing them. For one thing, I get to get outside into the fresh air for a little bit. A lot of times the errand is picking up bagels or fruit, of which I get to partake. And he usually hands over the keys to his car, and it's a fun car to drive.

Today's errand was getting the batteries in two of his watches replaced. First I tried Jack Kreuter's, then Carrera's, then Schwarzschild's. They all said they needed to be sent of to the "watch guy" to have it done. Not a successful trip, he wanted it done today.

But it was pretty interesting to go into these places that I typically would not go. Typically, I'm not much of a jewelry person. I love my wedding rings and like to wear simple silver earrings, but other than that, it doesn't do much for me.

The first wasn't anything special. I actually had been to JK's before to get my grandmother's pearl's restrung. Carrera's had a separate viewing room that was by appointment only, and a friendly funny lady with really flashy glasses greeted me. Schwarzschild's was the most impressive of them all. The people were extremely nice, even to little ol' me in my scrubs. They also had a little snack area with coffe/tea, chocolate, and those cute mini soda cans. One of the employees was even polishing the china that you would drink the coffee out of. The security guard was SUPER nice. I'd like to be his friend. I even saw something I wanted to buy for a baby, no baby in particular, just a baby.

If I every have to buy a nice piece of jewelry, I'd be tempted to go to Schwarzschild's. But I'd have to return to the place we got our wedding ring's from: Adolph's. I'm slightly emotionally attached, plus they have good billboards on 64 by the Staples Mill exit. Ask for Eric, he's the best.

By the way, none of these places have websites, that I could find. What's up with that?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My Dinner Tonight

Instant mashed potatoes, slices of a cucumber, a couple spoonfuls of Bunny Tracks, and a *Champagne of Beers*.

I never used to cook when I lived by myself, and since James is out of town, dinner was whatever was easiest and quick. When it's just one person, it seems like more work than it's worth to actually cook something.

I've realized that I only enjoy cooking (more like preparing a meal...I'm no chef) because it's a way I can care for people. James is easy to cook for because he'll eat anything (except for most vegetables) and be satisfied with it.

Upon my request, James' grandmother mailed me a couple of recipes she'd used last time we visited. She included a note that summed up how rewarding it can be to feed your loved ones, "It's always nice to see a smile on the face of the one you've cooked for."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Grossness to the Max

I like gross stuff. As odd as that sounds, it's true. It helps since I work inside people's mouths all day. And let me tell you, there are some gross mouths out there.

I love to hear gross stories from friends who work in the health field. I have a pretty strong stomach, I don't really get queasy at the sight or sound of things. Sometimes I'm a little bothered by gross smells, but it has to be really bad. Today I encountered the really bad kind.

Sometimes, bad breath is an indicator of a problem much larger than just not brushing your teeth after eating Funyuns. Periodontal Disease (aka gum disease) is one cause of bad breath. If a person's bad breath is caused by gum disease, it is a very distinct smell. Unfortunately, I can smell that odor and know the problem without even looking in a person's mouth.

Today I had the pleasure of assisting a man with a huge amount of oral challenges, to put it nicely. I won't bore you with all the details, especially since you might not like gross stuff as much as I do, but essentially his mouth is in horrible shape because of extreme neglect and smoking.

I was recementing this man's permanent bridge over two implants with temporary cement. His bridge needed to be cleaned. Cleaning something like this bridge that is covered in plaque, calculus, and bacteria usually releases the smell. Blowing air in the patients mouth also gives you a good whiff. I had to do both of these things for this man.

I had to leave the room quite a few times just to get some fresh air. I literally gagged a couple of times. The rest of the morning I was ready to run to the bathroom at a moments notice, expecting to see my Kashi cereal for a second time today.

It was really that bad.

Ugh. I have to stop thinking about it, I'm getting nauseated again.

Monday, July 23, 2007

this is what we do with our free time

We used to be consumed with a ridiculous number of house construction projects. We've moved out of our house, so we have another whole list of non-construction things to do. But it's easy to procrastinate these things since we don't have a definite deadline yet.

Wondering how we spend our free time? Well, take family photos with our ibook, of course:

Sunday, July 22, 2007

we have the best friends ever. period.

It's a wonderful thing to be loved. When I read Val's recent post, I wasn't halfway through the second paragraph before my vision was so blurred from a flood of tears, I couldn't read a word.

The process of raising support and preparing to move to Scotland has been a long one, and I'm very thankful for the length of it. If I had to move 20 months ago, intense emotional damage would've been done. I've had 20 months to prepare myself, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I've also had 20 months to get used to the idea of saying goodbye.

Val's right, there are certain events and triggers that bring on a rush of emotion and a vivid realization of our imminent departure for Scotland. The first one for me was the night we finished packing and left our home. I realized we had to leave our cat, our home, and begin the transition period were we don't really have a home. I had a 10 minute breakdown, and then pulled it together out of necessity to get things done.

Breakdown #2 came while reading Val's blog post. We have so many amazing friends here. It's hard to explain the joy that comes with having friends who love us for who we are, support us unconditionally, and are so much fun! It's comforting to know how easy it is to keep in touch; but nothing can replace being here, face to face. If I wasn't so sure that this is what God's calling us to do, I'd have some serious misgivings about leaving. True friendships, like the ones we have with Ross & Val, aren't hindered by time or distance. Actually, many times these friendships are strengthened by challenges like these.

I'm going to miss all of my friends and family more than I'll know how to express; I'll never stop thinking about you guy's and wishing I was here with you. Please know I always want to know what's going on in your lives, keep me updated!

I'm looking forward to coming back and picking up right where we left off. There's so much more of our lives to share...we're gonna have kids to raise together!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Great News!!!

I just spoke with a wonderful friend and learned some exciting news...she's pregnant! I won't tell you who she is, in case you know her and she hasn't told you yet; I mean it his her news and her body and her baby, so that pretty much means she has a right to tell you, not me. So when everyone who could know does know, I'll post some pictures of us from back in the day so you can have a taste of just how much fun we've had together. We go way back.

It's hard to explain the excitement I felt when she told me. I don't have kids myself, so I have no idea how it feels personally. And I have friends who have had babies, and know plenty of older women, and family members who have had babies, but this was different. My friends that have had babies thus far have all been surprises that they weren't necesarily hoping for. That in no way diminishes the beauty and wonder of pregnancy and babies and all that stuff, or their love for their children; it's just that the initial excitement is different when it's someone who's been trying and hoping for a child. And the bond I have with this friend is one that will last for our lifetime, and then some, so when something wonderful happens to her, I'm able to share in her joy at a much deeper level.

Congratulations _________ and ____________! I'm so excited to be an "aunt"!

The Continuing Saga of City Inspections

You may have read here and here about our adventures with the city in our attempts to have some electrical work done on out home inspected. Here's the latest update:

Tuesday (one day after the proposed inspection date) we did not hear anything from anyone about the inspection.

Wednesday, James was at the house all day, working on projects on the exterior. In the afternoon, he found a notice on the front door. It stated the time the inspector came by to inspect and that he found no one at home. The notice instructed us to call and make an appointment for the inspector to come by again. Funny thing is, JAMES WAS THERE THE WHOLE TIME! If the inspector, or any other city employee had given us a call and said, "Hey, you might be receiving a visit from the inspector today, you should keep an eye out for him," I would be writing much happier news.

So tomorrow, I will call the city, the nice lady will make an appointment for the following day, (even though they are running 3 days behind schedule) they will call a couple of times to say they're NOT coming, but then they'll show up unannounced, unbeknownst to us, leave a message for us to call them to reschedule, and the cycle will begin again.

God grant me the patience I most certainly do not have.

Monday, July 16, 2007

short drives to work rule

Living in our temporary housing is wonderful. It's a nice, big house, we can have our dog here, we still get to live by ourselves (some friends of ours preparing to move overseas choose to live with family or friends during the transition times). We really couldn't have planned it better than it was planned for us. And it's cool to know that our friend's whose home we're living in feel that we are helping them out by house sitting while they're traveling. A win-win situation!

So, you see, I have no reason to complain. I'm simply observing some differences. I knew that I loved living 12 minutes from work, and being able to bike there. But I didn't realize how many people must suffer everyday not knowing how wonderful it is to travel a short, traffic free distance to their place of work. My commute is now 30 minutes at best. There are at least 5 routes I can take, but none are direct, and they're all about the same time-wise.

I've talked to people who like the distance to decompress, get a moment of alone time before ariving at home to a whole nother set of responsibilities of family stuff. I guess I can see that perspective, but really, why spend such a large portion of your time in the car.

Just another reason why living and working in a city is such a great idea.

Waiting For a City Inspection Update

Today was the the third day from the day we made our appointment with the city to have our new electrical work inspected.

Guess what...no inspection.

We'll just have to wait until tomorrow to see if we get a call telling us the inspector won't make it that day either.

Maybe if they actually let us set an appointment that they could commit to being at, they wouldn't be so far behind. But that would make too much sense.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The City of Richmond: A Model of Inefficiency Yet Again

My husband and I had some electrical work done on our home in Churchill before we moved into our temporary housing, and our renters moved in. We acquired our permit, like good renovators, had the work done, and called for an inspection. I have to admit, the calling for the inspection bit wasn't the most enjoyable way to spend my lunch hour. I'll share this experience with you, in hopes that you will know what to expect shall you every find yourself in the same position.

I called the number of our inspector that is listed on our permit, Eugene. After leaving Eugene a message and not receiving a call back, 5 days later I called him again. His voicemail box was now full. I called again the next day. Still full. Silly me, why would I think it would be a good idea to call the inspector himself.

I then called the general number for the department of public works. After following the prompts, I reached a city employee. I was unaware that there is an automatic system to schedule an inspection, the employee is unable to help me. She transferred me to the system. Said system informed me that I needed a 3 digit code that is not on my permit which states the type of work done. I requested that the system transfer me to a real person. The same employee gave me the three digit code, told me there was nothing else she could do for me and then transferred me back to the automated system. After listening to the prompts and getting to the end, almost ready to set an appointment, the automatic man told me the system was disabled, and transferred me to the same employee. Now, she could help me, but only because she had to.

Employee: "When would you like to set up an appointment, the inspectors are running three days behind."
Me: "Well, I'd like to set it up for Friday, but does that mean they won't be there until Wednesday?"
E: "Yes it does. I can set it up for tomorrow for you, and they might make it by Monday."
M: "Alrighty, tomorrow it is."
E: "The inspector will call you in the morning if he's not able to make it that day."
M: "OK. So will he set up another appointment with us when he calls?"
E: "No."
M: "Well, should I call you and set up another appointment through you?"
E: "No."
M: "So I guess he'll just call us on the day he will be able to make it?"
E: "Nope, he sure won't."
M: "Well what if we're not there when he comes by?"
E: "He'll leave a note for you to call in and set another appointment."
M: "Wow. Really? I mean, I know this isn't your decision to make, but don't you think that's a pretty inefficient way for them to go about this process?"
E: "Yeah, I guess so."
(Had a chuckle with the employee.)
M: "Would you mind taking my husbands phone number and asking the inspector to call his number instead of mine, he's able to take phone calls during the day and I'm not."
E: "I'll write it down for you, but I can't promise that I'll be able to remember to do it."
M: "Well, I appreciate your honesty. What's your name? I'm sure I'll be talking to you again soon!"
E: "I'm Charlotte. Have a nice day."
M: "You too, thanks for your help!"

A city employee did call my husband the next day and told him he wouldn't be coming by. Tomorrow is Monday, I'll be waiting with abated breathe to see if the inspector makes it!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

How can you say no to this adorable cat?

I've needed to write this post for a while, but have put it off because I hate the thought of being separated from my precious Naomi

As you may know, my husband James and I are preparing to move to Scotland for two years.
I've hoped and prayed that taking Naomi with us would work out, but alas, my dreams have been shattered. I've realized that flying her across the Atlantic might cause her irreparable mental health issues so now we are faced with the the dilemma of finding a new home for her. If we can't find the perfect match for Naomi, we will take her with us and hope she arrives with some of her sanity still intact. Take a look and fall in love:

If you're interested in learning more about Naomi, or know someone who might be, let me know!

Weekend Review

-Worked on many of the millions of projects going on at our house with my parents and James' parents from early in the morning until late at night.

-Ditto of Friday


Thursday, July 05, 2007

House Projects

With our move out date, July 13th we have a to-do-list that is half a mile long. When we bought our lovely home less than two years ago, we had a 5 year renovation schedule. Deciding to move to Scotland shortened our time line by 3 years. Below is a list of what we've done in the last week. The same amount of items have yet to be checked off the list.
It's a TON of work, but exciting to know that it's all part of getting us to Scotland.

If it weren't for our parents, 95% of these items wouldn't have been accomplished. Seriously. My parents live right outside of Richmond and are here helping all the time. My dad knows how to do EVERYTHING. Really, everything. The hours he's used his skills to beautify our home are easily in the hundreds. My mom comes to work also, but more importantly, always brings food. My husbands parents live in Indiana, but visit often and always do so much work when they're here. My mother-in-law has been here a week, my father-in-law since yesterday. They haven't stopped working since they've been here.

We'll soon be able to come out of hiding and be social again.

Drywall and Mud:

Hung Trim:

Hung New Doors:
Foyer Closet
Back Exterior Door

Hung New Ceiling Fan:

Primed and Painted:
Foyer-Walls, Ceiling, and Trim, Closet Door
Bathroom-Walls, Ceiling, Trim, Door
Kitchen Ceiling

Touch up paint:
Living Room

Removed existing floor in Foyer

New Floor:
Ante-Room of Upstairs Bathroom

Hung New Chandelier in Foyer

Built Closet in Bathroom

Replaced Electrical Outlets:

Plus lots of other little projects I've already forgotten about

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Goodbye's Begin

While our projected date of departure for Scotland isn't until Septemberish, our renters will be moving in soon, which means we'll be leaving our home, our neighborhood, and our beloved Churchill. Below is a letter I wrote to our immediate neighbors, but the same sentiments go out to all of our Churchill neighbors. Thanks to all of you for making this a great place to live!

Dear Neighbor and Friend,

It’s with joy and sadness we write this farewell letter. After a year and a half of planning and preparation, we are getting very close to the time we will move to Scotland for 2 years. In case you don’t know the details, we’ve been raising funds to live and work in Dornoch, Scotland. We’ll be working for a church that is in a partnership with the church we attend here in the metro Richmond area. Mainly we’ll be assisting with the church’s service to the children, youth, and young adults of the town. We’re hoping for an early September departure date, but the exact date has not been set.

We’re very excited about this opportunity, but we are heartbroken to have to leave our home in Churchill. This is the first home we’ve bought, and we didn’t know what to expect of Churchill or of our immediate neighborhood. I can assure you, our expectations have been exceeded far beyond what we could ever imagine. You have all had a huge impact on our lives here. From the simple hello’s from across the street, to the quick catch-up conversation in passing during dog walks, to talking about the significant aspects of each others lives: being a part of your lives has been a huge blessing in ours.

When we first moved in, we were one of three occupied homes on our block. You can imagine our excitement when, in the first month, we saw a moving truck bringing us another neighbor. Now, after 2.5 years, there are only 3 vacant houses left, with two of those under renovation! I think that’s pretty significant. But the changes we’ve witnessed don’t end with the houses. We’ve seen a new litter of puppies, a couple of marriages, and 3 new babies (with one on the way!), all within a three-block area.

The sense of community here is amazing. I’ve bragged, countless times, about my “awesome neighbors,” and the way everyone looks out for one another. That was one of the first things that I noticed, and have not once been disappointed. We've learned how much better living in a community like this one is, compared to the suburbs. Now, after living here, and with neighbors like you, we know that the city is where our hearts are.

We will be back in a couple of years, and we can’t wait to see how much the neighborhood will have changed, as well as see all of you again! Please feel free to contact us and keep us updated on the happenings of Churchill, and our little corner of the neighborhood!
-James and Jennifer

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Weekend of Work

-Worked until 12:00
-Treated to Lunch at Stuffy's by Mr. Boss Man

-Bought Rainbow Donuts for the fabulous friends who helped us move
-Moved everything into a big truck
-Drove it to my parents house
-Unloaded almost all of our belongings into their new resting place for the next two years
-Made a second trip with the rest of the stuff
-Dinner at Akida for my Birthday celebration!

-Church at Stony Point
-Lunch, cheap gas, and iced coffee from Sheetz
-Home to sit outside with my mother-in-law and chat with my neighbors
-Church at Franklin Street
-To my parents house to have the family birthday celebration for me (27) and my nephew (9)
-Home to our house with limited belongings in it