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2007 June » Philoxenos


Garage sale wrap-up

23rd June 2007

Garage sale wrap-up

We had our garage sale today. Guess what the weather forecast said? Squally south-westerlies. Remember I live in the Southern Hemisphere, so any wind that comes from the south comes from Antarctica. It’s kinda cold there. So I was not impressed when I read the MetService forecast. We were praying for brilliant blue skies. Didn’t happen. But what did happen is that God was so totally in charge that heaps of people came anyway, despite the cold, rainy weather. And guess what?? They bought stuff! And they paid money for it!

I should give you a bit of background. Because I hate for anyone not to understand where I’m coming from. I have been forbidden to go to garage sales by myself. Not because I buy too much, because I’m theoretically opposed to clutter. But rather because I pay too much. I HATE bargaining, although I love a bargain. My husband has watched me pay too much one too many times to allow me to do it any more. Background finished.

So here I am at my own garage sale, having to bargain with people. And I hate it. Because I’ve already agonised over the prices of things, knowing that I need to price them low enough so that people buy them but also high enough so that we actually make some money. I think that some people got some REALLY good deals and others got good deals. Other times capitalism was definitely at work. After all, something is only worth what someone else will pay for it. And if someone else is willing to pay twice as much as we actually paid for it originally, then good for us :)

The good news is that we sold the refrigerator. And we were pretty sure that we had sold the washing machine, too, but they decided not to go with it. We still have the bunk beds, but every other large item is gone, along with most of the smaller things.  The kids’ stuff flew out the door, as did all my picture frames. Granted, the picture frames were dirt cheap. Only two dollars each.

The only negative part of the day is that something got stolen. In order to use the phone at the same time we use the internet (I don’t know all the complicated terms) we have to have this special filter thing on the phone. It got stolen. We only discovered this when my husband was trying to use the phone when he was online checking our auctions. Didn’t work. He was really hacked. It’s worth about $15, which isn’t chump change, but he was more irritated with the fact that someone would actually steal from us. I honestly don’t remember the last time I stole something, physically stole something ( we won’t talk about the times I used the internet at work for personal use - I’ve since repented). Actually, I do remember. I was in the fourth grade and I stole some chocolate from my teacher. To this day I am plagued by this, to the point that I’ve seriously considered trying to track him down and confess. It was like 22 years ago, but I don’t care. Moral of this story: don’t steal.

For those of you that were praying, I really really appreciate it. Really.

I have heaps more to say, but my eyes are crossing.

On a completely unrelated note, 15 people visited my blog yesterday! Wow! You guys are awesome. And for all the people that have commented the last couple days, don’t despair. I have been thinking about you and when things slow down here in a few days, I’m going to write you back. My mother-in-law is going to watch my kids on Monday so I can finish cleaning our rental house (yippee!) and then I think I’m going to go into town and find an internet cafe with really really fast internet and drink a coffee while doing things I like to do on the computer. Like respond to your kind comments :)

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21st June 2007

What does 200 calories look like?

I found a very interesting pages here   that shows you what 200 calories worth of food looks like. Shocking was more like it. Have a look. I think I’m eating too much peanut butter :) Just goes to show that portion control is very important. Actually weighing and measuring food is a key to weight loss.

Thanks to Melanie for the tip.

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20th June 2007

Where are you from?

My husband installed a site meter thing on my blog so now I can do all kinds of freaky things, like track how people find my site and where they’re from. Who is from Maine? And someone is from Minnesota. Another from Arizona, and of course I have two New Zealand readers, other than my husband. In all there are about nine people who have read my blog in the last three days :) Thank you!  I’d love to know where you’re from, if you’re interested in letting me know.

Not much time tonight, we’re moving tomorrow and my house looks like a bomb went off. We don’t have to be out until Monday, but we’re going to be housesitting from tomorrow so we’ve got to get our stuff over there.

More later!

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19th June 2007

What things are really worth

It’s been very interesting to see how much stuff we really have. When we first got married, we had a lot of junk treasured momentos. During our first year of marriage I was able to separate my husband from a few of his precious things, like t-shirts he’d had since high school. But some things I wasn’t allowed to touch. But every year or so we’d revisit some items and slowly he was able to let go of those things that really didn’t need to be kept anymore. Now, interestingly, one of the things that he has doggedly clung to for nearly eight years is a piece of elephant dung encased in glass. An item that every family really needs. Truly. I wish I could tell you that I have lovingly dusted it every week, but I can’t tell you the last time I dusted. With each move we’ve made (we’ve moved six times in nearly eight years) we’ve reduced our things.

Now that we are moving overseas, we are actively purging our possessions. And I’ve been surprised how much we still have. I’ve gone through my sock drawer and realised that I simply don’t need 12 pairs of white socks.  Because we have three children who create massive amounts of dirty clothes, I wash clothes on a regular basis. I will never go through 12 days without washing clothes, so I don’t need 12 pairs of socks, so I’ve kept only six pairs. Similarly I went through my underwear drawer and realised I could probably start my own Victoria’s Secret because I already had my own inventory. For years my husband has been telling me that I have too much underwear but I’ve been loathe to ditch any of it. Now that I’ve gone through three pregnancies, some of them are never going to ’snap’ back like they should (much like my abdominal muscles) so they’ve gone in the rubbish. I refuse to donate used underwear to the local op shop.

But what’s been the most interesting to me is how much money some people will pay for our old things. We were given a copy of Trivial Pursuit Millenium Edition for Christmas 1999, just after we married. We played it a few times, my husband trouncing me soundly each time (and it was the American edition too!) Some guy bought it for $25. He thought it was a great deal, I thought it was a great deal. We both won.

This afternoon a woman came by to pick up some Huggies Little Swimmers that I had listed on Trade Me. For some reason I had 17 of these in medium. I think I had them leftover from our trip to the States last year. My daughter will never fit them again and my son is too small. I’m certainly not going to take them with us to America, taking up precious luggage space when I can replace them for what I received for them online. She got a deal, paying only $12 for 19 (I found two more in the closet) and I got a deal, getting money for something I’d never use again.

We’re starting to make lists of things. One list is things that we must replace. This includes pots and pans for the kitchen. We rarely eat out so we much have something in which to cook. We have another list of things we’d like to replace, such as picture frames. Obviously not a necessity but being far away from home we want our kids to see Nana and Granddad on a regular basis, even if just from the wall in the hallway. And I’d really like to replace my piano :) And I have a list of things that I want to get for the kids. Our oldest daughter, just 3.5 years, has been watching her toys and other household things get sold and taken away. She understands that her tricycle can’t fit in the suitcase, but it’s still difficult for her to watch these things disappear. I’ve promised her that she’ll get to pick out new colouring books and markers when we get to America and this has placated her.

In the end, what things are worth is whatever someone will pay for it. For us, none of the material things that we have are worth keeping because we know that they are just temporary. As we’ve sorted and tossed and sold, we understand more that our greatest possessions are those memories that we carry in our hearts, wherever we go. And those are priceless.

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18th June 2007

Journey to America, Part 4

Part 3


We have our appointment at the Consulate next week (27 June) and we have yet to receive the needed documents from Papua New Guinea. We are praying HARD.

Because we really believe that this is what God wants us to , we have taken a few HUGE steps of faith. One of the big ones is the decision to move out of our house, prior to actually receiving the visa. Friends of ours are going on holiday for four weeks, leaving in two days. When we realised that we were going to be leaving the country we talked to them about housesitting for them while they were gone. They were more than happy to have us live in their house (our daughters are great friends and the mom is one of my best friends) which helps us in a couple ways. One, we get to save over $1000 in rent. Two, we get to sell all of our stuff and not have to worry about not having a fridge or whatever for the last three days we’re in the country. It’s worked out really well. Oh, and we get to use their car, too, so we can go ahead and sell our van. Really excellent. So that’s what we’ve been busy doing the last week or so - getting everything ready to sell.

One of the things that we did was create a list of all the things that we’re selling, most with pictures, and we’ve been giving the list to whomever might be interested. This has been great  for taking to church and giving to people when they ask what we have. We managed to sell quite a few things that way. We also had a ’sneek peek’ garage sale yesterday afternoon after church so we had a few people come by and we managed to sell another $600 worth of stuff.

This coming Saturday is our BIG garage sale where we hope to get rid of most everything else. We hope. We still have our washing machine, refrigerator, lounge suite, bunk beds and other various things. Interestingly the things I thought would take the longest to sell, like my piano, went first. And by the way, I almost cried when the piano got taken away. I think it’s because I don’t think we’ll be able to afford to replace it when we move. It’ll go on my wish list though.

So. Where were we? Yes. My husband does not have a green card. He has no job to go to in America. We have no house to go to in America. We are moving out of our house and selling all of our possessions this week.  Does this sound nuts? You bet. Are we excited? Absolutely. Do we still believe it’s what God wants us to do? Without a doubt.

More later.

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18th June 2007

Listings on Trade Me

Sorry for the lack of posts the last few days. We’re seriously in “we’re moving in four days” mode, so we’re spending most of our evenings sorting through things and deciding what to put up for auction on Trade Me  For my American readers, Trade Me is the equivalent to Ebay. And it’s huge in New Zealand. Apparently some of the large companies are actually blocking Trade Me from being accessed from work computers because of the sheer amount of time people are spending checking auctions during work hours. When I worked at the University of Waikato we had a newsletter from the IT department to say that outside of Google, Trade Me was the most frequently accessed website from university computers.

Anyway, for my few New Zealand readers, please go look at our auctions HERE!   My husband said that if you or someone you know wants the washing machine or refrigerator he’d deliver it to Auckland, or anywhere between us and Auckland.

And I will be continuing my series on Journey to America soon. We’re not moving to the States yet, but we’re going to be housesitting for four weeks for friends, which saves us a bit of money and gives us a chance to transition. More on that soon.

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14th June 2007

My little blessings

This week I have had a few words said to me that I haven’t forgotten. Indeed, they frustrated me so much that I keep thinking about the things that I should have said in response.

At The Warehouse on Tuesday I had at the baby in the Ergo (a baby carrier, strapped to my chest), the middle daughter in the pram and my oldest was walking. They were all very well behaved, just having a good time. We were briefly stopped at the music section, which, at our store, is at the front by the doors. An older gentleman on a mobility scooter came around the corner and gently herded my lot out of his way. He gave me a big smile and said “Which one can I take?” Now, silly me, thought he said that because they were just so cute. I said “I’m sorry, they’re not for sale.” And he said “Oh no, I don’t want to buy one, I just thought you’d want me to take one off your hands.” And he motored away.

Take one off my hands? I realise he was being facetious, but just because I have three children under four doesn’t mean I don’t want them all. Yes, they’re a handful sometimes. Yes, I get tired. But would I ever say that I don’t want one of them?

And the second incident was yesterday. Because we are moving out of our house the rental agent has been trying to find new tenants. Occasionally she rings up and asks if she can bring over a prospective tenant. I normally don’t mind. She brought an older couple over yesterday about noon. They had a look around the house and were heading out the door. The woman said thank you and then she said “You’re a busy lady! I don’t envy you.” And she left.

Perhaps by this point I was just getting a bit too sensitive. I’ve discovered since having three children that not everyone thinks that’s a good idea, particularly having them so close together (in their opinion). But I heard implied in her comment that having my three kids wasn’t worth the effort, that it was just too much work. Yes, it’s a lot of work! I don’t need people to tell me that it’s a lot of work. But why oh why do people think that in some way I regret having three kids? Why in the world would they ever suggest that my children are not the blessing that they are?

I have three kids and I love them.

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13th June 2007

the really important stuff

Okay people, I need to know. Do you wash your towels after each use or do you re-use them?

We now have five people in our family and the big people have at least one shower per day and the little people have a bath approximately five times a week. This creates a lot of towels. I feel like I’m always washing towels.  I hang them up after each use, or try to anyway, so we can at least use them again one time. But sometimes I forget.

I’d really like to hear from my New Zealand readers. Do you re-use? Do you use a heated towel rail? Give me the scoop because I’m really interested.

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13th June 2007

The light at the end of the tunnel

The baby slept through the night!!! From 7 pm to 5:15 am. I realise that for some 5:15 isn’t considered part of the morning hours, but rather the middle of the night. For me, someone who’s been waking two times a night for the last three months, waking at 5:15 was no problem. I went to sleep at 10 so I got 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. This is just a little piece of heaven on earth. Long may it continue.

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13th June 2007

Journey to America, Part 3

Part 1

Part 2


We received an email from the seminary to say that my husband’s New Zealand Bachelor’s degree is not considered equivalent to an American four year degree. I knew that this would probably happen based on my experience working in admissions at a NZ university. What this means is that he’s not able to go directly into a Masters degree but has to begin the Diploma first. If he maintains a B grade average over 20 credit hours he can transfer to the Masters programme. Since he’s such a smarty, this won’t be a problem. But the really bad news is that because he wouldn’t be enrolled in a postgraduate programme, he would not be eligible for a student visa.

SLAM. The door shut. Or so we thought.

Obviously at this point we had no choice but to wait for the green card application to run its course. For several weeks we had been in touch with the consulate to find out if any decisions had been made regarding the procedures to be followed in light of the law change. Finally we heard from the consulate. They WOULD be able to process the green card applications and it would take 6-8 months (this seems to be a standard answer). I rang them for clarification and asked for a new packet of information, hoping that it would be clearer in writing. Up to this point I thought that they had lost our original papers or threw them in the rubbish or took them home for their toddler to scribble on.

We waited and waited for the stuff to come in the post. Nothing. We’re now in early April. After two weeks, I asked my husband to ring. I was so frustrated I didn’t really trust myself to make the call. He rang and was able to talk to a real, live American person. She said “Don’t you have an appointment already?” And he was like, um, no. And she said “Let me go and get your file.”

File? He has a file? WHAT? We couldn’t believe it.

She comes back on the line and says that yes, indeed he has a file but something’s not right with her computer and could he please call back the next day between 6:30 and 7 am so she can check on the status.

The next day happens to be the day he’s picking my mom up from the airport so she can meet the new grandchild. Her flight came in at early o’clock so at 6:30 they were in Huntly, stopped at the McDonalds there to get a cup of coffee. He rings and indeed his paperwork has gone to Bangkok to be processed and when would he like an appointment?

Now, you have to understand that we thought this was going to take months and months and months. Of course, considering we first sent the paperwork in January, it has been months, but we were expecting it to be like 2008. So he makes an appointment for the end of June, June 27 to be exact. Which is now just two weeks away.

We have all the paperwork done (including my taxes, which is a whole other story) except for one very important piece of paper. My husband spent nine years in Papua New Guinea from the age 10 to age 19. Because of this he requires a police report from Papua New Guinea, to show that he has no criminal record. We originally requested this back in January, knowing that it would take a while. We are now in JUNE (June!!!) and we haven’t received it. He has a lawyer friend in Port Moresby that is working on it for us, but still no joy.

So. Please PLEASE PLEASE pray very hard that it will arrive in the next two weeks. PLEASE.

And, oh, did I mention we’re moving out of our house next week? But I’ll tell that part of the story later.

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