Which seems to be all I’m capable of these days. Must. Try. Harder. I have a feeling I’ve said that a few times before….
So, what have the Peppers been up to since all that pumpkin carving fun (said pumpkin went mouldy several days before the 31st, incidentally. Note to self – put pumpkin in the fridge overnight next year!! I’ve also heard that smearing it with Vaseline does the trick….)?
We joined the gym!
And, wow – apparently it’s not just cars and fast food that the Americans like to go super-size on! You would not believe the size of this place. I’m quite sure I will get completely lost the next time I go, stuck forever more in a maze of squash courts and steam rooms. There are four fitness rooms. Well, five if you could the separate free weights room. One is a ladies only room (yay! Great news for me and my self-conscious belleh), one is disco-dark for those who are maybe a little less keen to share the sight of their wobbly bits as they pound the treadmill, one’s just normal mid-level lighting for ordinary folk, and the final room is operating-theatre light and bright – I guess for the real gym bunnies, all the better to check out their lean, mean, posing machine physiques in the mirrors, I guess.
There’s a creche there which reminds me of Evie’s nursery in Brighton – separate rooms for each age group, and a structured agenda for each day’s activities, including singing, active play, painting and drawing and snack times. At $8 an hour, I think it may be an absolute God-send for us. They don’t even mind if you need to go off-site to run some errands!
I won’t go on (and on and on) about every single detail of the place, but a few of the highlights can’t go without a mention: on-site spa and salon, including hairdressers, fake tan and botox, of all things (!!); on-site physios, podiatrists and dieticians; 3 or 4 cafes / restaurants; a florist, a dry-cleaners and car valeting service; a shuttle service to/from Microsoft; and “Family Fun Night” plus “Super Fun Sundays” at the weekends. And the locker rooms look like something out of a movie about Roman emperors:
And, oh yeah, blah blah, there are a whole load of sporty type things available as well. All I can say is thank goodness we’re not actually paying (full whack) for it all. I’ve heard quite shocking things about what this place costs if you’re not a Microsoftie family.
We passed our driving test!
We’re both now proud owners of bona fide Washington state drivers licenses. And I beat Damyan’s “score” by 4 points. That’s all we really need to say about that!
We said goodbye to The Beast (sad face)
And we’re now the not-so-happy drivers of a Jeep Liberty.
Well….it’s definitely boxy! I mustn’t be too negative, but it’s really shocking how expensive car rental is in the States. We were so lucky to get the first month paid for through our generous relocation package, but now we’re in the unfortunate position of not being able to buy a new car until we’ve closed on the house (just in case the mortgage company do an unexpected last minute credit check on us, and flip out over a new car loan). We could try and buy a car as cash buyers, but getting a car loan is one of the easiest ways to start building up a credit history here, so it would be mad not to get at least some of it on credit (there are very few ways to get a credit score, as, ironically, nobody will lend to you with zero borrowing history!). So we’re stuck with a rental until at least the 16th November, and the Jeep was the only affordable car available with room for Milo in the back. Disappointingly, there’s not room for Milo plus iCandy in the back, hence the sad face over the loss of The Beast (aka the Ford Flex). And when it comes to moving into The Dream House, I imagine it will mean an extra half dozen trips to try and squeeze everything into the wee silver box with wheels.
Next task on the list – choosing a suitable family car. Which has to squeeze in a giant labrador, a double buggy, two car seats, and all the paraphernalia that comes with trying to leave the house with a newborn and a toddler in tow. Wish us luck with that one!
It was Halloween
And we went to the Microsoft campus, of course. Actually, it’s pretty amazing. For a bunch of super-geeks, they really know how to celebrate a “holiday” (I use the term loosely – although it’s not a vacation day or anything, they seem to refer to it as the Halloween holiday regardless. So, who am I to argue?). From 11am to 7pm, Microsoftie kids were invited to the commons area, where they had all sorts of treats laid on for little monsters: pumpkin painting; a “spooky train” ride; a family photo booth and, the best part, a Haunted Museum. Which is sort of like a ghost train, but on foot. And themed loosely on the movie, Night at the Museum. It was quite amazing actually – several conference rooms transformed into different themed sets, complete with zombie cowboys, creepy mummies and a giant ogre.
The kids were invited to go around trick-or-treating all the super-geek’s desks as well – all the old-timers (i.e. everyone except Damyan) knew to bring in a big bowl of sweets (or candy, as I must now learn to say) to put out for the teeny masses, which I think is pretty amazing for a working day.
But the best part about Halloween?? Getting to dress up my little pumpkin like this: