25 June 2013

Car Buying

So we have to buy a new car.  We haven't done that in 15 years, and we were lucky that time because I knew exactly what I wanted to buy and that car was perfect. We drove it for years, it got amazing gas mileage, it fit all five of us even though we bought it before we had children, and we hardly ever had to repair it. And it went for well over 200,00 miles. We finally sold it before we went to Kyrgyzstan the second time because it wasn't practical to store it.  I will always miss that car.

Now we can ship a car to Mexico, but we're having a really hard time finding something that works.  We've been told that having a car with a high clearance is really important because of the flooding in Guadalajara every summer, although I'm sure that there are plenty of low-clearance cars getting driven there.  But we'd also like to not just have to stick to neatly-paved roads, so there are some good reasons to get a high-clearance car.  It also can't be more than 10 years old and we can't ship anything really big.  And it needs to be easily serviceable in Guadalajara.

Those are their rules.  For me, I don't want a car that only seats five. That worked when our oldest was 10, but now he's 14 and taller than me.  My next son will likely be taller than me before we leave Mexico.  Two adult-sized people plus a child in a booster seat don't really sit well on one bench.  So we need a third row that's easy to get to because it will be needed every time we get in the car.  I'd also like something with decent gas mileage and that's not going to need lots of maintenance, but that is used and inconspicuous.

We are having a really hard time finding a car that fits all these needs. Minivans have the seat configuration and space we need, but they're not high clearance.  SUVs with more space are too big to ship (plus they're annoying to drive).  Crossovers are awfully small for three children when two are teenagers.

And I really want a car in Mexico. Jalisco is a big state with lots to see and I want to be out on the weekends.

24 June 2013

Logavina Street

This is by the same author who wrote Nothing to Envy (which I would italicize and link to my review, but I'm on the iPad and it's not worth the effort) and is about the people she met while reporting from Sarajevo during the war.  It's quick to read and good window into what the war was like for people living in Sarajevo.  Definitely worth reading.

14 June 2013

The Light Between Oceans

This was both one of the both beautiful and most horrible books I have read.

Hour of Peril

This was an interesting book my mother recommended about the plot to kill Abraham Lincoln as he travelled to Washington for his inauguration. And I learned what Pinkertons was which was nice since it came up in a book I was rereading this week.

Crystal City Water Park

When we first moved to northern Virginia a few months ago, we lived in Crystal City.  The best thing there was the little water park, and the best thing about the water park is the stand selling food. Turns out it's one of the few places outside Egypt that you can get koshari.  The owner is from Alexandria so he makes a more toned-down version than we had in Cairo, but it was fun to eat koshari that someone else had made.  He also does good shwarma and hummus and I love the labna wraps.

Table for Seven

This was a perfectly adequate story for a summer afternoon.


In a lot of the US there are two standard warehouse stores- Sam's Club and Costco.  I've never really been able to get into either store for lots of reasons, but the closest American grocery store to me now is BJs, a smaller warehouse chain. I like it so much better than Sam's or Costco.  They have smaller package sizes for lots of things. The store is smaller and less overwhelming.  There are fewer people- Costco is crazy on the weekends. It feels like a warehouse store that's manageable.  So much better.

03 June 2013

At Home

It's always fun to read Bill Bryson even if his books are often too long for their own good.  It's nice to have someone to all the research for you and pick out the interesting parts, although you know this is history according to Bill Bryson. 

Heart of the City

I think I picked this up on a whim at the library. It's about 10 or so couples who met by chance in New York City.  The stories are generally pretty quick and focused on the meeting- not on all the relationship stuff afterward (although some were a bit too dramatic for me).  Overall, an interesting read.

A Spoonful of Sugar

This was an interesting look at the life of a woman who worked as a nanny in Britain for decades.  She's awfully preachy in some parts, but mostly she loved what she did and the children she worked with.  Fun to read.

Visit Sunny Chernobyl

I had really mixed feelings about this book.  I enjoyed the first few chapters, but then I really go bogged down.  To me, the chapters could have been much shorter with less of the author and more of the people he was talking to as the book went on. He was good at using those people and situations to make his point- I didn't think he needed to keep telling us.  I finished because it was for a book group (just in time, too), but I don't think I would have otherwise. 

An Embarrassment of Mangoes

I liked this much better than I thought it would.  Reading about a wealthy couple who cruises off for two years didn't quite sound like my thing, but they were way more down-to-earth than I expected.  I was reading this during the March move and it was really a pleasant distraction.