Chapter 1: The Move...
Construction in Reno makes no sense to me. I seriously believe that the city only believes in tearing apart roads one month per year- and that month happens to be July. Because of the roads being half removed (or at least it felt that way) the U-Haul company offered to give us the truck for an extra day if we wanted to come and pick it up a day early. We went to church and then picked up the truck and had it parked on the street, ready for the big day of moving ahead on Monday! We went to bed at a decent time and everyone was pretty excited! It was strange to see our home so empty...
We had lunch with my parents and said goodbye, and our friends Rachel and Evan stopped over and brought fudge!!!!
Kurt woke up at 5:30. He was ready to start the day!!! He let me and the kids sleep- he wanted to get things ready by himself. Help arrived at 6 and between 6:00-7:00 the truck was almost half packed!!! I woke a bit later, along with the kids, and got ready for the day. Carter and I ran some errands and then picked up snacks for the road, then we picked up Kurt's parents from the airport. We wrapped up loading, cleaning, and turning in the keys- and we were on the road much later than we had hoped- but still excited to be on our way!!!
We arrived in Salt Lake City at 3:30am. Ouch. Late night! We were all up and around at 10, and we had breakfast at the Corner Bakery on campus. Being back in Salt Lake was so nice- but it made me realize how much I missed Utah!!!
Back on the road at noon... we drove!
We stopped in Ogallala, Nebraska for the night. We had actually made pretty good time, but boy were we tired!!!
(Best part of the day? Fudge!!!)
With breakfast in our tummies, we were ready to roll! We drove all day and arrived in Iowa!!! We pulled into our new home just before dark- so we got a chance to look around with the kids for just a moment. We were very thankful for Kurt's parents and his Aunt and Uncle for doing such an *amazing* job on getting the house ready for us- we literally walked in and had fresh sheets and fluffy towels waiting to greet us!!!
We arrived so late, we had forgotten about dinner. Kurt offered to drive us into town for McDonald's - and we all agreed that sleeping with dinner in our bellies would be a good plan, so we left. Just as we set out it started raining one of those nasty Iowa rains. For those who have no idea what an Iowan rain storm is like- imagine having a fire-hose spraying your windshield... that pretty much captures the experience. Kurt drove through it just fine (I believe that native Iowans are born with special genetic abilities to navigate through weather such as this), while the kids and I were freaking out.
We arrived at McDonald's and placed our order- but because of the storm they had a reset in their power and their Debit/Credit processors were all down. We shrugged it off, and we were ready to leave, when we were presented with our food! The smiling McHelper (I don't know what you call them- cashier? Waitress? Attendant? I thought McHelper was more witty) smiled and said, "If you would just allow us to try and run your card one more time, before you leave here, we will see if it works then. If it doesn't work, it's okay- dinner is on the house." She gave Kurt back his card, and we sat down to eat. Kurt smiled, "That's so Iowa!" was all he could say. (After dinner Kurt went back and offered his card, and the machines were working so it was accepted without any issue. This event was one of the examples of the differences in rural Iowa than we would typically experience in the west.)
Chapter 2: Farm Life...
Before I begin, I want to stipulate: I have lived in Iowa before. I lived here for about five years, during my late teens, and I moved when I was 21. I had lived in Salt Lake City prior to Iowa, and was used to an urban lifestyle.The Quad Cities was the most rural culture I had experienced at the time. Quad City dwellers most likely would not consider themselves rural at all- the area is a pretty decent size and has many of the amenities of a larger metropolitan area. Still, to me, it was small and foreign (and compared to Salt Lake culture, it was). However- now that I live in rural Iowa- I can say without hesitation: Iowa farm life and Iowa city life are two *VERY* different things. Iowa has vastly different cultures between populations, so my short time here thus far has been unlike anything I have experienced thus far.
I made a grocery list while Kurt worked on unloading the truck. The kids ran around like crazy people, they couldn't get over how large the yard was and the amount of room they could access to play. We knew we needed to head into town to get groceries before the internet service guy came and hooked us up, so we left in time to do a fast grocery trip and come home.
A few observations from the grocery store:
While at the store, if Kurt was getting a product, elderly people wouldn't hesitate to ask Kurt to get a second one for them- even if the product was light and within their reach. This is vastly different from the "wait-your-turn" mentality that seems to dominate the west (where strangers do not usually talk to one another).
I couldn't find the meat section. I wandered for a few minutes and was so frustrated with the lack of selection!!! Kurt pointed me to an isle- a whole isle- with butchers waiting on the other side. Here, you ask for everything from whole chickens to ground sausage- it is not prepackaged at all. (Again, forces us to talk to strangers!)
I went to the butcher and asked for "grass fed beef" and he had to go ask someone what it was. Another man came over, smiled, and explained they did not carry any such product. Later, I asked Kurt's brother about it- he laughed too, and commented, "That is some California mentality right there- having happy cows in pastures full of daisies!" and laughed some more. When I asked Kurt's dad about it later, he didn't comment at all, just chuckled. So, I will be crossing grass fed beef and butter off my list for the time being =p
There is no "organic" section.
Our groceries were less than half the price we paid in Nevada/Utah. Not kidding. Same brands, same foods, just that much less expensive.
The internet guy was scheduled to show up at 2pm... he drove into the driveway at 2pm exactly.
Kurt's dad stopped over for a few minutes. He brought our mail. No, it wasn't in the mailbox, he had picked it up from the post office for us. Apparently you can get other peoples' mail out here.
I was so bummed I had forgotten to pick up eggs at the grocery store. Kurt's mother provided us with the name of a guy who has chickens and sells their eggs, just down the road. Kurt took the boys- who loved running around with the owner's dog, seeing chickens, and generally messing around. Kurt bought 4 dozen cage-free chicken eggs from organic chickens for $6... (this retails for $24 in big cities, or 50 cents per egg. Kurt's family was floored when they heard we used to pay this price).
After the grocery store, we came home and Kurt helped the internet guy. Kurt and the internet guy knew a lot of the same people, and they chatted. Kurt is *so happy* about fiber optic internet, and is surprised to find that we are in a 4G wireless area. So, for the things rural Iowa does not have- it has equally strange amenities!
Carter and Harrison spent most of the day exploring and playing around. Carter was interested in local insects, so Grandma brought him a book all about insects (he carried it around all day!) and he had a great time trying to identify ones he came across. Carter also fell in love with a ceramic cat that Kurt's grandmother had made- he requested we move it to his room =) Harrison enjoyed wandering around and looking at all the trees. They call the clump of trees near the house "the forest" and Harrison enjoyed running around and hiding there. =)
The kids woke up to find Grandpa's truck in the yard, and they ran out to see what was going on. Grandpa was taking the combine into town to have it looked at before harvest, and was moving it out of our machine shed. Grandpa let the boys climb into the cab and ride over to his house! The kids were THRILLED!
Following the combine adventure, our family enjoyed farm fresh eggs (quite literally, farm fresh! NUTS!) and sweet potato hash (one of Harrison's favorite foods). The kids then went outside to play while Kurt worked on unloading and unpacking. I washed laundry, and Kurt hung it on the line for me (my ankles were still giant, so he asked me to spend the day inside, doing lighter housework).
Kurt's brother came over with his two kids, and all of the children played together. They took turns riding Carter's bike, they climbed trees, and they ran around (like little kids are so good at doing!). It was a really nice time, and it warmed my heart that my kids didn't want their cousins to go, and their cousins didn't want to leave!
It was 10:30 as we climbed into bed, and Kurt had spent the entire day finishing unloading the truck. So many things were already put away- I am so proud to say that 50% of the house is already unpacked! I gave Kurt some ibuprofen and he fell asleep quickly... and woke at 9:30 the next morning! He really needed some sleep!
Funny things that happened today: Kurt got a hand-written note from our postal carrier, she took the time to explain a form (even filled out part for us) and she signed her name. Lectures on the differences in corn: seed, field/commercial, sweet, Indian, etc- apparently are still Greek to me. Our rural cousins thought it was a bit odd that our kids didn't know how to bike very well on grass, or climb trees. Our children found that it was odd that their cousins didn't have their own golf clubs and weren't comfortable with swimming pools that have high dives. I learned that out here it is polite and expected to wave when someone drives by- not waving to everyone that passes by your home is considered rude.
I woke up, and begged Kurt to let me mow! This will sound crazy, but I have never ridden a riding lawn mower, and the idea was pretty exciting. It sounded like lots of fun! The day started pretty hazy, so Kurt thought I should start in a part of the front yard. It was a great time!!! I got about 1/5th of the yard mowed, and it started to rain. Thankfully that 1/5th was its own section, so it doesn't look silly. I had hoped to do more- but the rain is still falling! (Good news for farmers!)
We returned the moving truck and then we visited Kurt's grandfather. The kids really liked visiting, and it was nice to see him. As we were leaving Harrison became serious and asked, "Where is the grandma?" We didn't even think about talking to them before hand, we had not realized this was the first time they knew of a grandpa without a grandma living there too. Kurt and I talked to Harrison and Carter and explained Grandma Arlene's death- and both boys were *really* sad. Kurt's grandmother died almost 20 years ago, but it did not lessen the boys' somber attitudes. We took the kids to a playland (still raining!) and got them treats, but both the boys only ate half, and gave the other half to Kurt- feeling sorry for him for not having his Grandmother anymore. I can tell this is something we will need to cover more in depth, but the kids' attitudes and compassion were remarkable and touching.
We stopped over at Kurt's parents' house, and the boys got to see the kittens that are living in the garage (4 of them!). The kittens were so adorable!!! We chatted with Kurt's parents while the kids played with a basement full of toys, and we all set up plans for next week. Kurt's parents stopped over for dinner- Kurt made chicken salad =)
Today Kurt rearranged the boys' bedroom. They were originally in two separate rooms, but they requested to be together, so Kurt set them up. Kurt has done an amazing job with unpacking, while I have been enjoying access to our internet (as you can tell!). This has been our laziest day thus far, and we are both really looking forward to tomorrow- when our family observes a real "day of rest."
So far farm life is pretty enjoyable. I say "farm life" but really we are not farming- just living on a farm. Today when I had finished mowing, I pointed out a tractor that was working on a field across the street- what a neat thing to see!!!! What made it even more special was that it was Kurt's dad! Such a different life out here- with really neat equipment, and a culture unique to us- it is a pretty amazing experience and I am so glad that Kurt gets to share it with our little family =)
**My husband can drive a mower with some seriously mad skills. John Deere should really feature him in their commercials- he makes it look SO easy!!! He insisted on mowing parts of the yard before allowing me to try- he was worried there would be hidden holes or bumps that might shock me into labor or something (he is already overprotective of his daughter! SO FUNNY!!!!!! LOL!) He also trusted himself enough to attach the trailer-thingie (notice my technical jargon there?) and pull the boys. Our boys had such a blast riding along with Daddy!!!