Monday, August 20, 2012

Apartment Living With Three Kids, Falls Church- Oakwood

We would really like it if our blog was chock full of funny posts about all of our travels but maybe one  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
Office center
Beautifully kept pool and hot tub area (with life guards)
Volleyball pit
Convenience store on site (with reasonable prices and lots of choices)
Pro-shop for tennis players
Tennis court
Dry cleaners
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:

knife set, including kitchen shears
Coffee pot
Utensils (the usual stuff)
Hot pads
2 Kitchen towels
Chopping board
Measuring spoons
Wine opener
Can opener
Nice dishes, plenty of place settings
Wine glasses
Glasses and coffee mugs
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)
Butter server
Ash tray (for the balcony only, no smoking indoors)
Plastic pitcher
Ice trays
Rubber spatula                                                                                    
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)
Movie nights
Free breakfast on Sunday morning
Probably lots more I am forgetting....


Other items I didn't expect:
A lockable safe
Vacuum cleaner
Laundry baskets
A land line telephone, complete with number
A TV in just about every room
A balcony- blank but nicely sized
Iron/ironing board

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 boys' room. It doesn't seem very nice in the photo but the room has a lovely, tall dresser and flat screen television to boot! That closet (open door) has ample room for toys, shoes, clothes and more clothes, shelves, a washer/dryer combo unit, vacuum, and more. I'm showing this photo so that folks can see how they fit two kids into a single room.

   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.


  1. This is super helpful! Thank you. We are still wait-listed for the 3 bedroom and will probably all be in the 2 bedroom for a bit. It is great to see the set-up and the detailed list of what is available.

  2. Hey Erin, we were supposed to be wait listed as well but to our utter amazement all rooms were ready when we arrived! :) Let's hope it will be the same for you guys. Please feel free to pass the link for our blog along if you know of others who are coming this way anytime in the near future.

  3. Thanks so much for the post and photos! We have visited friends in Oakwood before but moving there now- I'm more interested in these exact details.
    Hope to meet you soon. We are TheSolleyFive.blogspot (but we're actually the solley six now). Lovely blog you have here.

  4. Looks a lovely apartment and bet your daughter loves it!

  5. hum, you people must be born with $$$$.... how anyone can afford to live in NOVA is beyond me.

    it's also not about small business, it is also not about community.

    you must be part of the 'bedded district'... transients don't 'get it'. if you see what i mean.

  6. Thank you so much for these details. I am currently in a pretty good place on the register, so I have already been preparing for my move. This post helps immensely. On another note, I am also an artist. I would truly enjoy your advice on how/if to transport paints abroad. I use both acrylic and water-mixable oils, and can't seem to get clear information on what to do. If you know, or anyone else knows, please drop me a line:

  7. So a 3BR apartment is s 2BR plus a studio? Fabulous! I've been trying to figure out how in the world we will fit our large family in there. Let's hope they have one available when we get the call!

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