We would really like it if our blog was chock full of funny posts about all of our travels but maybe one day...eh? I have wanted to write about the mental gymnastics it takes to go from a big family home with lots of stuff to living in an apartment since the first week we moved in. I'm glad I have waited until the shock wore off- I think time has sharpened my perspective some. My five weeks here do not qualify me as an expert but I think others who are searching out details about living at Oakwood/Falls Church might find these types of details helpful.
First, let me make it clear that this is not a rant of any shape or kind. I think the Oakwood staff and crew, Falls Church specifically, does a great job of what they do. Everything is clean, well maintained and the list of summer activities is well planned and impressive. Our youngest son has loved all of the pool games and activities. Just the shuttle service alone is worth its weight in gold... and then add to that the nifty coffee machine that whips up Cafe Mocha anytime I want one (a decaf cafe mocha to be exact), oh ... and the housekeeping crew who shows up sets my life on the straight and narrow once a week! Yes, safe to say I'm happy, really happy about living at Oakwood Falls Church. It goes above and beyond what I expected apartment life to be.
For those who are moving here and who delight in these types of details -this post is for you!
This is the view from our balcony
The buildings and facility has:
Beautifully designed rooms for activities and shared meals inside the office area.
B.B.Q pit/bank of gas grills and a couple of tables with nice umbrellas for relaxing while you cook
Work out room
Beautifully kept pool and hot tub area (with life guards)
Convenience store on site (with reasonable prices and lots of choices)
Pro-shop for tennis players
Play ground for kids
"Dog" potty areas, including little baggies for your pup's personal needs
and trash can just for them.
An activity room where kids can meet, play games and a small but sweet library
Kitchen Things Already Stocked For Your Arrival:
Utensils (the usual stuff)
2 Kitchen towels
Nice dishes, plenty of place settings
Aluminum cookie sheet
Small rectangle glass pan (perfect for brownies)
Measuring cup (one liquid measure/Pyrex type)
Glass bowl set
Salt/pepper shakers (clean and empty)
Ash tray (for the balcony only, no smoking indoors)
Place mats and cloth napkins
A brightly colored vase
Paper towel holder
This picture shows the color of the wall in the kitchen in contrast to a brightly colored painting that I added after I got to town. The same brown color is used all throughout the apartment. Imagine dark khaki pants... yep, just the sort of hue to drain the life blood right out of me. I suppose others might find it inspiring- if so- God bless them.
Oakwood house keepers clean the kitchen, bathrooms, floors, make beds, bring you clean towels weekly and they changes the bed linens weekly.
We also have a small washer/dryer combo in my closet (not all units have these)
The office people will hold and sign for your packages if they are too big for your mailbox.
Your apartment will have a few boxes of Kleenex, TP, paper towels, soaps and a sponge waiting for you. :) Coffee for the first day, too. You replace them when they run out, of course.
Recycling in the first floor trash rooms
Parents' night out babysitting (must register early)
Activities for kids (art/crafts, reading clubs, Beach Week, sports)
Free breakfast on Sunday morning
Probably lots more I am forgetting....
Other items I didn't expect:
A lockable safe
A land line telephone, complete with number
A TV in just about every room
A balcony- blank but nicely sized
Kitchen Things I Either Had To Buy Or Should Have Brought With Us:
1. Food processor
2. Hand mixer
3. Muffin tins and/or loaf pans.
4. Plastic reusable containers (they have a few here, waiting for you)
5. A few extra kitchen towels
Here is the one thing that I have chosen to spend a little bit of money to keep me sane-
1. Bedding, actually just pillowcases and throw blankets, and a whole duvet set our bed, all brightly colored! I am an artist and I personally need color in my world. Otherwise everything is either white or beige. Photos below show the before and after.
2. Sun blocking curtains (found them at Goodwill for like $3) and a cheap-o spring curtain rod so that they set inside the window, thus allowing the vertical blinds cover them and hide their ugliness. Our windows are facing East which is wonderful but the sun seems to come up earlier here (East coast... surprise!)
3. Big sturdy bags for grocery shopping. Though we have lovely elevators it is still a pain to use grocery store plastic bags to bring stuff into the apartment. I like having the cloth reusable ones that I can fit lots of groceries into, plus it is as enviro-friendly as it is efficient.
4. Hangers for the big closets
5. Febreeze or some other bathroom spray. We call it the "spray of kindness" at our house. Reason this is so important- bathrooms are void of exhaust fans.
Our bedroom the first day we moved here.
Our bedroom now, with color (!!!) and lamps on.
Home away from home?
It took me several weeks to not feel like we were living in a hotel. There are perks, so many perks, here that we would have to work hard to miss owning a home. We even had private sector/home owning friends come from out of town and they loved our new place! They got the value of what a place like this is worth living about 5.5 miles from DC proper. These are not small apartments- lots of closet/storage space.
Speaking of friends, the adults and to some degree the kids too, seem to be pretty stiff at first. It can take a while before you feel like your not invisible. There is an odd "I don't see you... you don't see me" no eye contact thing. At first, it struck me as really odd but after a few weeks the weirdness of that seemed to fade for me, especially when I stuck around long enough to realize that people are moving into and out of these apartments all the time, like daily. Nearly everyone here is the misery of transition/shock! Honestly, I believe that I was just used to "Texas kind of friendly" and it's just not that way here. A friend who used to live pretty close by explained it like this- "DC and the surrounding area is like a big airport, everyone is going somewhere fast and no one plans sticking around too long so they don't take the time to get to know you". It's so true! So, readjusting my expectations helped but then, I discovered where all the friendly people are... the Oakwood barbecue area- (like duh!) Now, grilling down in there is a once a week "must do" for our family. We've learned so much about life in the Foreign Service because of all the helpful folks chillin' out next to the fire/meat area!
This is our daughter's bedroom/studio apartment. She loves it! What more could a senior in high school want? Unfortunately, this apartment has a shared door between her little casita and her little brothers' room- so lots of grace is required but it is still a cool thing for a kid almost ready to fly the coop. She has her own entrance, key and bathroom - everything!
This is my daughter's kitchen, it is identical to my kitchen, but minus the dining room table and pantry.
I also want to note how lovely it is to live among such a racially diverse group of folks. It absolutely adds to the fun when you meet people from all over the world, literally. If you enjoy that kind of thing you'll love it here.