Polar Bear Plunge!

Guess which one of us is doing this crazy thing this morning?!

Free s’mores? Yes, please.

Staying warm by the fire.




It was actually a really nice day for it as opposed to what it could have been this time of year…but it was still REALLY cold. It took about five groups before someone popped up and said HOLY SHIT THAT’S COLD loud enough for the spectators to hear. 🤣

Owen said he’d been in cold water before—swimming with Papa. We told him yes, Lake Superior is cold, but that’s still like 65° and it was in the summer. We looked up the water temp for today and it was about 38°.

2017 Marine Corps Birthday Ball

Turns out we have zero good lighting spots in our house for pictures. Which means I should have gotten out my real camera…

So we did a selfie and hope that our actual ball photo will be better (they took professional pics but they were free so we have no idea when we will get them).

Doh! The first time ever we could bring our own wine and I forgot.


It’s always fun to get dressed up and go out but I never know anyone so it’s honestly kind of awkward. We ended up leaving early because we were both tired…

A chilly family day

Tom’s new office had a Family Day today at a park on base by Lake Michigan and of course it was the coldest day we’ve had since being here—we were all in long pants and jackets and I was still freezing. It would have been an amazing day if it would have been in the 80s. Needless to say that made the event less than stellar for us but the kids had fun playing some lawn games, watching people get pies in the face, and getting dunked in the dunk tank. I only took one picture the entire time and it was as we were starting our walk to the beach: 

This is how unpacking goes. 

I start working on the upstairs hallway closet which leads me to take stuff to our MBA which leads me to put stuff away in the kids bath which then leads me to see Owen’s room needs attention where I find a box of guest room bedding so now I’m working on the guest room and the hall closet looks like this. It feels like I’m spinning my wheels. 


OMG this house. THIS HOUSE.

Ugh. UGH.

I knew this house wasn’t perfect (I don’t think we’ve had a perfect house yet) but it’s always SOOO surprising the little things that are annoying as hell once you actually move in and start trying to unpack.

Here, it’s like the past tenants (actually the owners) didn’t actually live here and use things. Burnt out lights, outlets that don’t work, a ceiling fan so unbalanced the chains jingle loudly on every rotation, cabinet doors that can’t open because the fridge is too high (they actually hacked away part of the bottom of one cabinet so they could open the door halfway), and the fridge placed badly (the spot isn’t big enough for newer fridges) so that one side door can’t fully open and the nearby drawers and cabinets can’t fully open (and there’s obviously no other place to have it).

Let’s see. What else.

Katie’s “touched up” pink room looked like this:

[Note: Long story short, they’re coming to repaint. The owner had no idea what it looked like. His painter used the old paint and when it was wet it matched.]

The living room was “touched up” in the same manner:

Behind the stove (which we had to pull out because they left it unplugged):

The owners “cleaned” (I’m guessing just a basic surface clean) but there seemed to be YEARS worth of grime and food bits stuck on every surface and into the stove crevices. I really didn’t expect to have to deep clean my kitchen… But I mean, look at this. Barf. /shudder I literally almost vomited trying to clean this.

The cabinets and drawers were also all sticky and had disgusting peeling cracked liner on them. We pulled off some of the liners because they were more disgusting then the shelves underneath…but both were still sticky. It was at this point I decided to hire someone…who spent THREE HOURS (with help from her daughter) deep cleaning a 10×10 kitchen. Yikes, I know. (Mad props to my awesome neighbor who had a cleaning lady who could come ASAP.)

Moving on.

The MBR closet racks look good but are somewhat useless in practice. None are tall enough for my dresses, the door can’t open all the way when filled with clothes, and there’s a useless knee-high shelf—I was excited to see a shelf but if you hang clothes on the rod above it, they reach the shelf. The light was also super old, not bright in any sense, and made a loud humming noise.

There’s about 164 different types of light switches, dimmers, slides, knobs, timers, etc., none of which are where you’d expect them to be and all of which are old.

The washer is nice, but…more cleaning required.

Every single outlet is sideways. [Note: I’ve learned that this is apparently an Illinois thing.]

Whoever stained the kitchen cabinets just left the appliances in place so the sides of everything are stained as well (which you can also see in that disgusting stove pic above).

Whoever stained the privacy fence didn’t protect the windows so there are tiny stain dots on them which we’ll have to clean because it will drive me insane to look out through them for three years.

We were happy to see they left a hose and reel. Except when we went to use it we saw it was a water-powered reel that was broken and completely useless so now we have to get rid of it.

They left a crap ton of leftover tiles, wood flooring, etc. in a jumbled mess in the basement which we get to clean up if we want to use the space.

There’s an annoying step on the first level (seriously, whoever designed it was an idiot—there is NO good reason for the step) that not only is annoying but is also slightly higher than a normal step height and is constantly causing us issues. Owen even noticed it was higher than normal.

The stairwell to the basement is a 180° switchback so it’s impossible to get anything big (like a refrigerator or a couch) down there.

There are about four different type of blinds throughout the house. Nothing matches. And some windows don’t have blinds at all. Same with curtain rods. Some rooms have them (but they’re not even basic curtain rods), some don’t.

The vents in the MBR are placed so that our king bed/head board/frame and/or nightstand sits directly on top of it—not over it, like we could use a vent deflector, but actually ON it—so that to avoid that (it’s too heavy) we have to put the bed right up against the wall (which we learned won’t work because every time you roll over it runs against the wall and makes noise) or pull it out about 8″ away from the wall which takes away walkway space and makes lots of unusable room. As it is now, we managed to get the bed placed beside the vents but then our nightstands are about 8″ away from the bed.

And silly/minor things like this:

Tub parts just sitting in the tub:

Fixes by a homeowner who isn’t handy (on the front porch):

A bunch of these door stops are missing. So we either replace them/ask for the landlord to replace them or risk ruining doors.

Missing storm door lock.

The master bedroom closet light that is so dim it’s useless. Now with bugs and a loud humming noise! (We’ve already bought the replacement light.)

I spent probably an hour cleaning the sliding door tracks. They were SO crusted with gunk I’m surprised the door even opened. I was using vinegar and baking soda, a toothbrush, toothpicks, and probably a whole roll of paper towels to get it all out.

Oh! I forgot! They fixed a few broken tiles and apparently also regrouted the whole floor…but did it wrong and it just crumbles like dirt. Fail! [Note: the landlord has decided to replace the entire floor with wood. It was too short notice to do it while we were planning to be gone so he’s going to have it done over Christmas while we’re away.]

And there is one single outlet in the entire garage. One. So we have an electrician coming and all I see are dollar signs…


My shirt says it all.

So overall the move-in went well. We thought the house felt full before they even got here…so halfway through unloading it was really full… And at the end they were saying “This says boys room but it’s full. This says kitchen but it’s full.” 😂 The basement looked huge when we started. Ha. Haha.

The topper might be the awesome living room set we got from Julie that I was super excited about (because we haven’t had a matching set of furniture in forever) and… The room is just too small for the oversized pieces. 😭 So now the unpacking “fun” starts. Normally I like this part but not when I know it all won’t fit. Cheers!!

Here we go! Let’s unload!

The weather was much nicer today—overcast and about 80°. The truck arrived about 8:45.

Kids keeping out of the way!

Stack o’ mattresses!

Because why not have Comcast here to dig the cable line at the same time!

It was definitely interesting. And frustrating. The boxes just. kept. coming. And we didn’t have room for them. Well overall we did but the kitchen is literally one-third the size of our last one so none of my stuff fits. So the kitchen boxes were overflowing everywhere. So the boxes that went in the other rooms got more cramped. And then we realized that the living room set we got from a neighbor was too oversized and was not going to work (and the basement stairway is too small and curved to get any of the pieces down). It was actually getting comical because the guys were like “This says boy’s room but it’s full. This says kitchen but…” 

At one point I jokingly screamed “PLEASE STOP BRINGING BOXES INTO MY HOUSE!” And the guy said “Funny you say that—this is the very last box!”

Done! Goodbye! At only 2:35! I always forget that unloading takes less time.

Now the unpacking hell begins. Normally I don’t mind being creative and finding new homes for things… But this one is going to be tough. 

This is a brilliant moving hack…

Even more so if you actually remember to keep all the sticker sheets so you can label all the rooms at the new house. 😣 Oh well, at least all the boxes have dots and they should be able to easily find the kitchen, dining room, MBR, Pink bedroom, living room, and garage. 😂


[Note: The movers loved the stickers. One guy just couldn’t get over the idea. He took the sheet with him to show people. 😂]

Gurnee, we are in you. 

  1. Gurnee, we are in you. 
  2. There’s nothing like a 13-hour road trip to remind you that douchebag drivers exist everywhere. It’s a good thing the kids weren’t in my car. 
  3. The house…is a house. It certainly doesn’t compare to the house we just left and there’s lots of stuff we need to do to bring it to our standards (i.e. what I can stand to look at and deal with for three years) but it does have natural light going for it. 
  4. I can see me visiting Chicago much like I visited DC…which is probably close to never. And DC even had all the free stuff going for it. 
  5. I am exhausted and cranky so take everything I say with a grain of salt. 😂
  6. My brain can’t handle Central time yet.

Leave it to a kid to make me laugh.

So Caitlin had taken the kids for the afternoon so they would be out of our hair and able to play with their friends. After the truck left she dropped them off and we said our goodbyes and we were hugging and crying. After she left Owen asked why I was crying and I said it was sad to have to leave friends. And Katie pipes right up “Like Miss Julie who she drinks with all the time.” 😂 Leave it to a kid to make me laugh.

Game on.

Our promised “crew of seven” were supposed to be here at 7:30 to try and start catching up. Notice I said SUPPOSED TO BE. The truck rolled in around 8:30. Here it is, taking up two neighbor’s driveways (which we had to run and tell them to get out of their driveways ASAP if they wanted out at all, otherwise they’d be stuck all day). Our house is at the very far right at the end of the truck. They only sent ONE packer. Hoo boy. But, on the positive side, there were six loaders.

Our staging area for stuff we’re taking that they don’t pack. It’s all suitcases, bedding, and toiletries.

We walked out to see the couch wrapped and up on boxes. It seems strange until you realize that makes it so much easier to wrap.


One bad thing is that the doors obviously need to stay open and it was godawful hot and humid so the inside temps were about 82°—even with the A/C running full bore—but a quick trip outside then back in told you it was still cooler inside.


Storm clouds were quickly moving in so they were hustling to finish. The temps had also dropped about 15° and a breeze had kicked up.

And to those who doubted me when I said we filled a semi…Here’s proof! (And keep in mind Tom already took up a 16′ truck—though, granted, not as well-packed as this one.) Unfortunately our work isn’t done as we need to organize and pack the small U-Haul with all the stuff they can’t take!

And to give credit where credit is due, the sole packer did get everything done and even left before the movers were done. (But that said, lots of little things got overlooked and I spent a lot of time finding stuff to toss in boxes so she could tape them up and inventory them.)

Right as they were packing up to go, the ice cream truck came by so a few of them ran down to get some ice cream!

So they did get it all done, but it would have gone A LOT smoother with a few more packers. I felt like it was way more stressful then it should have been.