Wednesday, December 30, 2009

these are real problems, as you can see

I'm in a slump these days. A downward trend, perhaps. A sad spell.

I think the selling of houses and buying of houses, and packing and unpacking, and husbands traveling, and being ill (first my mom got the stomach flu, then I got the stomach flu, then Gabe, then Josie, then Josh, then my dad, then Josie got a double ear infection, then Gabe, Josie, my mom and I all got some sort of vicious virus with runny noses and sore throats and fevers- all in a 2 week time period), and of course, absolute worst of all, the dogs leaving, have pushed me into a sad state.

I miss Tango and Murray desperately, and only the reports of their complete and utter happiness and change of attitude keep me from running to her house and demanding them back. I am devastated, but they appear to be adjusting beautifully. Their new living situation is childless and full of attention and love. They even accompany our family friend to her work with her (a back office at a homeopathic health clinic), so they are rarely alone and very rarely lacking in attention. I've had several moments of panic and tears, but I still firmly believe that although I want the dogs with me, we're doing the best thing for everyone by letting them go. Sad though it may be.

Additionally, it sounds silly to say, but this whole move has been a major adjustment for me. Even though we're only a couple of miles down the road, the atmosphere is totally different. I felt much more urban in our old neighborhood. I could walk to ice cream parlors (two) and drug stores (three) and coffee shops (four) and even a mall with my favorite stores. I could walk to sushi, to a toy store, to a few parks. It was busy and fun and I felt like we were close to everything. I knew my hood and I felt comfortable in it.

The new house is amazing. Perfect for us and ridiculously large. It makes our furniture look like doll furniture, the scale is so different. The kids have space to run and play and make messes and we don't feel cramped. But it is a total suburb. I can't walk to anything except the local parks, and anywhere I go I have to get on major roads. I feel like I'm constantly battling traffic and constantly in the car. I hate it.

Do I sound like a spoiled brat yet? Because every time I talk about this, I feel like one. We have this awesome new house and got everything we'd hoped for (within reason, I mean, because obviously the house is small in the grand scheme of things), but yet I'm still complaining. I miss being close to everything, I miss driving 2 minutes to Gabe's school, I miss walking for ice cream.

I think the other problem is that unfortunately, there is a lot of stress in this house at the moment for all the reasons I mentioned above. I can't seem to separate out the stress from the house, and so it is all jumbled together and sometimes it feels like only badness has happened in this house since we moved in, even though it totally isn't true.

Josie started really walking and running around here, Gabe learned to ride a bike in these hallways, we will eventually celebrate birthdays here (when we are healthy)- we'll make lots of memories in this house, I know.

Is this normal, though? When you moved, did you ever miss what you had before, even though your new place was so much better? There are moments where I think I might be losing it over here. I've dropped several things on my toes (besides the broken one) and I told Josh the house has it in for me. Maybe we need an exorcism? Or maybe just more chocolate?

Monday, December 28, 2009

three!!!

My sweet, wonderful, loving, lunatic boy is turning three today.











I know I always say I can't believe it, but this time, I really really can't believe it.

I look at him and feel as if he was just born. It was only last week that I wrapped his tiny body into my arms, only a few days ago that I rocked him to sleep, only yesterday that he smiled for the first time, said mama for the first time, took his first steps.


How is he the same little boy who sings funny songs, tells jokes, gives his sister hugs and kisses, helps me make cookies, rides a freaking bike!

Explain to me how this happened? My sweet easy baby has remained a sweet easy toddler, or as sweet and easy as a toddler can be, I guess.




Gabe is easily appeased, almost always happy, eats everything we give him, sleeps like a dream, and continues to be loving and exceedingly sweet. I always cringe before I write this stuff because I might jinx myself, but I know he won't always be this delicious, so I have to write it down for posterity. He also beats on his sister a little too much for my liking, but let's leave that for a non-birthday post, shall we?

These past three years have been the best of my life, and I can not wait to see what he has in store for us.

Happy birthday Gabe! We couldn't love you more!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

the pooches

I took Tango and Murray in for a check-up on Friday and had another long talk (just one of several) with the veterinarian and the behavioral consultant. The consensus from everyone is that the best thing for the dogs is to go stay with our family friend, at least for a while, and see if things improve for them. The veterinarian felt that their health was actually deteriorating- Murray had lost weight, their heart rates were up, they seemed more stressed and nervous (both the vet and the vet technician commented on that), they seemed needier and more unhappy. Tango also has started to develop cataracts, which explains his extreme terror around the kids. He may not be able to see what they are doing clearly, and so everything surprises them and he lives in a constant state of fear.

My mom walked in the door from her flight after not having seen them for 6 months and asked, "what's wrong with Tango?" The change was obvious to her within 20 minutes. She said she hadn't seen him wag his tail and all he did was cower in the corner. A friend commented on the same thing the other day when he came to visit.

The bottom line, as the behavioral consultant keeps hammering home to me, is that sometimes you have to do the best thing for the dogs, even when it isn't what you want to do. We have to ensure they never ever bite the kids, and that means removing them from the current situation.

The plan is for our friend to come pick up the dogs tomorrow (Monday) and they'll go home with her. We'll keep evaluating as the days go by, but we're hoping we see an immediate improvement in them. If they seem dramatically happier, then they'll stay. If it doesn't work, they'll come back and then I don't know what we'll do.

I'm heartsick just thinking about tomorrow.

Making matters worse, Josh is away for the week in Germany and was supposed to be home today but has been delayed because of the storm. It is looking like he won't be here when she comes, and won't get to say his goodbyes to the dogs.

My mantra every moment I think about Tango and Murray leaving (which is approximately every 5 minutes) is that we are doing the best thing for the dogs. And the best thing for the kids. They shouldn't live with me yelling at them all the time either, which is what I've been doing because the dogs are so terrified all the time, I'm constantly managing everyone. I have to believe this is the right thing to do, and I have to believe the veterinarian and the behavioral consultant wouldn't tell me it was the right thing to do if it wasn't. If there was an alternative.

Still, tomorrow is going to be a fucking nightmare. I prayed and hoped it would never come to this. But this is the best thing for everyone.

It's the best thing for everyone.

It's the best thing for everyone.

Monday, December 14, 2009

happy birthday josie!

Today completes my first year as a mother of two. Can you believe it? Sometimes I can't, but then again, sometimes I can't believe Josie has only been here for a year. It feels like she stole my heart ages ago.

A year ago, I looked like this:













At midnight on December 14th, my water broke as I was climbing into bed, 7 hours of labor later and 3 minutes of pushing (literally) and my sweet baby girl was here.













She didn't make me a mother, but she has made me a better mother. Josie has taught me patience, she has shown me how much more love you have in your heart, she has graced our lives with laughter.

A short year later and she talks and laughs and runs around the house and rules the place. Her brother doesn't know what hit him and it is only the beginning.

I can't wait to spend the rest of my life watching her grow.

Happy Birthday to Josie!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

good news!

I took Josie in for her repeat lead test on Friday morning, and HURRAY! Her lead levels were back to normal!

Oh, the relief I feel is overwhelming.

We also had her ears checked, and the drug-resistant ear infection we've been fighting for NINE WEEKS and THREE different antibiotics has finally been kicked to the curb! Sleeping through the night again, here I come!

Well, as soon as those FOUR TEETH she is working on are finally through her gums, I mean. This child has no teeth whatsoever, so she decided to be an overachiever and work on several at one time.

I am so grateful and happy and it hammers home the message that healthy children is the only thing you can ask for! Yeah!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

adoption

The woman came over, and it was good. Or I should say, as good as this whole situation could be. She loves the dogs, and she had a Brussels Griffon puppy who passed away, so she is desperate to shower her love and attention on new dogs. She and her fiance won't be having any children (both in their late 40s and 50s) and the house would be all doggy, all the time. She even received clearance from her boss to bring the dogs to work with her, which I know they would love. They seemed to like her and kept going over to say hello and bring her toys and all that.

All of this doesn't make it any easier to contemplate not having Tango and Murray anymore. When I think about it from their perspective, the decision seems clear. They are clearly unhappy, clearly stressed, clearly and obviously do not like the kids. It has been 3 years, and they just aren't adjusting and in fact, it seems to be getting worse. Gabe walked into the room yesterday afternoon, and Tango got so stressed from seeing him 5 feet away, he pooped on the couch. Josh stepped in pee in the front hallway, right after they went for a walk. They cower behind the downstairs bathroom toilet if the kids make too much noise or start getting too rowdy, even if they aren't remotely near the dogs. The only time they seem happy is when the kids are napping or asleep for the night.

From my perspective, though, it is much harder. I feel like such a failure because I can't find a way to make this work. People have kids all the time and their dogs learn to adjust, so why can't mine? I can't bear the thought of them continuing to be unhappy, but I also can't bear the thought of abandoning them with someone else. I cannot believe they will grow old in someone else's home, in someone else's life. They are my dogs and I love them and I selfishly want to keep them, and I keep believing that a magical solution will come along to make things better.

I told Josh last night- I don't know if I can do this. I think they would be happier without kids around, but can I really let them go?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

literally and figuratively stinks

It's easy for me to blog about the things that are funny or annoying, frustrating or interesting. The stuff that really hurts, though, I always find myself holding back. It isn't a conscious thing, I'll just realize that days have gone by without me posting, and I know it is because I don't want to talk about the giant big (Gabe's favorite phrase) elephant in the room.

In this case, it's the dogs.

It just isn't working.

I kept telling myself that our problems with the dogs would be resolved once we were done moving and packing and selling the house, and our frustrations would magically disappear. I called the behavioral consultant, I tried walking them more often, playing with them a bit more, giving them their own private space, locking them out of our way for a while every day, letting them outside more often. I have yelled at Gabe more times than I'd like to remember for harassing them or chasing them or kicking them. I've cleaned up so many messes in the old house and the new house without saying a word to Josh because his frustration level is 3 times mine with regard to the dogs.

But still, things just stink.

As soon as we moved into the new house, despite taking them out several times a day, the accidents began happening right away. In one night, 4 pee accidents on the dining room rug. In one afternoon, poop in the kitchen, the living room, the front hallway, and the dining room. The dogs dislike the kids, but won't stay away from them, so I end up yelling at everyone because the dogs snap at the kids, the kids won't leave them alone, and the dogs won't leave the room.

Worst of all, the dogs seem anxious and sad. I know what they want- they want the life they had before we had kids, when I came home from work and played with them for a couple of hours, cooked their food, took them everywhere with us, slept with them in our room, but I can't give them that life anymore. The truth is the kids are here and I'm doing my best, and nobody is happy with the way things are going.

Josh is the most frustrated of all, and we regularly have arguments because I'm clinging to the idea that it will get better, and he is far beyond that point. A family friend would love to take the dogs, a middle-aged couple with no kids, and he thinks that is the best place for them. It kills me, though, and I'm drowning with guilt. I've probably cried every day for a week, anytime the subject comes up, and I simply cannot fathom not having Tango and Murray anymore. They were my babies! I pampered them in a totally insane, ridiculously extravagant way. I used to cry at the thought of them growing old. I have heaps of dog toys and sweaters and leashes and accessories. I love them, I do. I feel like I'm holding on to this life, though, while everyone else around me is unhappy.

Just tonight, about 10 minutes after they went out, the dogs pooped once in the living room and twice in the kitchen. I ended up stepping in the poop and tracked it throughout the house. Then I discovered that Josie had crawled through another area of poop and had it all over her hands and knees. I finally found it caked into one of Gabe's toys, smeared all over the cloth wheels and side of one of his favorite school buses.

I can't live like this, and the dogs shouldn't have to live locked in the kitchen or the bathroom or the basement, or wherever else I lock them when I just can't do it anymore.

Maybe this makes me a shitty dog owner, and trust me when I tell you, I'm consumed with enough guilt for all of us. Maybe, though, if I meet this couple, if I let Josh bring them in, maybe the dogs will be happier, maybe I'll be less stressed, maybe Josh will yell less, maybe we'll argue less over this.

I'm at the end of my rope on this, and I wish someone would just tell me the right thing to do.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

happy thanksgiving

This is going to sound crazy, but it felt kind of funny to not be pregnant this Thanksgiving. I've been pregnant for two out of the last three holidays, and for a while yesterday and today it felt strange not to be anticipating a birth.

I'm thankful for so many things this year, not the least of which is my wonderful husband and beautiful children. I can't believe last year's belly contained this amazing little Josie who spent the last two days perfecting her walking skills. By the end of this week, I suspect she'll be running, at the rate we're going. I cannot believe the little boy playing with trains and drawing and helping his grandparents is my baby Gabe. I know I say this all the time, but what is with all the growing up? He is such a little boy! Barely a toddler! It is happy and heartbreaking all at the same time.

I'm thankful for healthy parents and that my children still have all of their grandparents healthy and happy. My father in law is one week out of hip replacement surgery, and nothing drives home how valuable our health is than a major surgery. My parents will be here in just two short weeks, and I cannot wait to see them. This is the longest we've gone without seeing them in years.

We have our health, broken toes excluded, and our happiness, and a new roof over our heads, and life is good.

We have much much much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and I wish all of you many blessings and joys for the rest of this year and in the year to come. Thank you for your support and comments and advice and for just listening. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

at least I got out of cooking tomorrow

What's that? You asked where I spent my morning? Oh... in the emergency room at our local hospital, of course!

First thing, bright and early this morning, I went down to our basement to get milk for Gabe's cereal, because if you'll recall, our fridge is in the basement so any time I need to get anything for anyone, I have to go down to the basement. Anyway, I went to grab something on one of the shelves in the basement and then who only knows what happened, but a massive glass jar fell ONTO MY TOE. I immediately started SCREAMING with poor Gabe standing right in front of me, doubled over with my eyes closed, and after just a couple of seconds opened my eyes and blood. Blood EVERYWHERE. An actual, honest to goodness, puddle of blood. Also, excruciating pain, but also lots of blood.

I did what any logical person would do- I sat on the basement floor, and somewhat calmly begged Gabe to go upstairs and get the phone and paper towels. And then I cried.

It took Gabe a while to get the paper towels and the phone because, well, two year olds have a hard time following directions occasionally, but he did get me the paper towels and the phone eventually. I called Josh to try to impress the seriousness of the situation on him, and his response was that he had a conference call and couldn't possibly leave work. Because of a CONFERENCE CALL. Did I mention the blood? And the excruciating pain?

Long story and 17 calls later, I finally convinced Josh that I really really needed him to come home, and we took a trip to the emergency room where I was diagnosed with one broken toe and a laceration that probably required a couple of stitches, but because of the placement and proximity to the bone and blah blah doctor speak, they decided to bandage instead of stitch. I'm also on an antibiotic because of that proximity to the bone and the risk of a bone infection. I couldn't really tell you what they said because when they came into the room with the big needles I passed out.

So I'm at home now with throbbing toe and screaming children and no husband and feeling just the teensiest bit sorry for myself.

The good news, though, I don't have to unpack anymore, right?

Friday, November 20, 2009

hopefully no poltergeists either

The cabbbiiiiiinnnneeettttssss, you guys. Let's get back to the cabinets, please. My children crawled around TOGETHER inside one of the cabinets. Shrieking and carrying on and climbing shelves and then getting down and passing each other from side to side. I think Josh and I could probably fit inside these kitchen cabinets. Tightly, but still. Now, don't get me wrong, the look is a bit dated (understatement of the year) but who cares?! All my stuff fits! I have drawers up the wazoo! I keep putting stuff away and then not being able to find it because there are so many possibilities for locations. I'm in lurve.

I feel like I'm living in the Amityville house, and every little creak or sigh I'm waiting for the ghosts to pop out and say, what? You thought you were getting a legitimate deal? There has to be a reason we could afford this house, and I'm just hoping it isn't because it is haunted by demons or something. I'm only half joking on this one. Have you been to see Paranormal Activity yet? You'd understand if you'd seen it.

Last night I was rocking Josie in her room for bed and kept hearing what sounded like footsteps, so I'd jump up and go into the hallway and then nothing. I'd sit back down, hear the footsteps, jump up again. Rinse and repeat. I called Josh at work and made him stay on the phone with me while I searched the house. Finally, I figured out that the sound of footsteps? Was the ROCKER. I'd get up and the rocker would keep rocking for a few more seconds and then stop.

Funny, but I really am waiting for the other shoe to drop. The house isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination and needs tons of cosmetic work and I haven't even shown you pictures of my hideously pink on pink tiled bathroom, but on the whole, it is amazing and perfect for us. I'll get sick of talking about it soon, I promise. Just give me a few more days of rolling around naked in the laundry room.

In other news, big day for us today! I found my hairbrush! For the first time in 6 days! Also, the silverware! You don't appreciate spoons until you live without them for a week! Let's hear it for spoons! And brushed hair!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

parking his cars

I want to buy Gabe a parking garage for his birthday, and I don't know where to start. Does anyone know of a good one?

These are the ones I've been perusing as possibilities:

1. Alex Parking Garage

2. Plan City Parking Garage

3. Le Toy Van Parking Garage

4. KidKraft Garage Set

5. Garage and Crane Train Set

Anyone have any other suggestions? Gabe will be very grateful, come December!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

preschool spells relief

My preschool hunt is OVER, thank goodness! We were accepted this morning into my top top top choice! The school was refusing to even give me an application until January and wouldn't be giving an answer until the spring, but after begging and pleading and cajoling and telling them that they were forcing me to pay a hefty sum in unnecessary deposits at another preschool to which I don't want to send Gabe, they agreed to give him a spot. HURRAY!

I felt a little awkward when I sat down with the director and she asked me to tell her about my child, because I hate being put on the spot, and really, how do you quantify your child? I sort of hemmed and hawed and said that he was great, but I wish I could have found a way to tell her how awesome he is, how funny and sweet and interesting he is, how we adore him and how he'll be a wonderful addition to her school. Oh well, at least she took him anyway, even with my bad description. HURRAY AGAIN!

The question now, however, is whether I send him to morning or afternoon preschool. Chatty Cricket is going to laugh at this, because I was adamant about not sending him to afternoon preschool, but the director gave me food for thought.

The advantage of morning preschool is obvious, I guess. We start the day early, he gets into the routine of attending school in the mornings the way he will for the rest of his life, he gets to continue his routine of napping (or barring napping), of resting in the afternoon. I can run errands in the morning, Josie's afternoon nap won't be interrupted. He'll be on the same schedule as his friends.

The director feels that although everyone wants mornings, the afternoon children are more focused, better rested, more ready to come to the table and work. She said they are able to have a leisurely morning, eat a good breakfast, go to the park or play or whatever, and then get to school ready to pay attention and do good work. Of course, if Gabe wants to nap or rest or whatever, which he might since he STILL takes a 3 hour nap every day, then his resting or napping time will be totally screwed. And I won't get that quiet time for myself, although I guess he'll be at school so there's that.

Additionally, truth be told, I am the furthest thing from a morning person, and afternoon preschool will be more convenient and less stressful for me and what is less stressful for me is less stressful for everyone. UNLESS, he still takes a nap in September, and then it'll be super stressful for me.

Oh, what must life be like when you have real problems, huh? No time to agonize over inconsequential items like this. So help me with my silly decisions- morning or afternoon for Gabe? At Dream Preschool! HURRAY INDEED!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'M BACK!

So much for Nablopomo. That whole moving out, closing on one house, then closing on another house, then moving the same afternoon, then starting to unpack, then shopping for appliances (because did I mention the new house has no appliances? NONE!), then dealing with sick kids, and then breathing, kept me from blogging. It has been... well... an interesting weekend. That is the mild way to describe it.

We're here, though, and the new house is fabulous. Except for the no appliances situation, which is fine, albeit stressful because I have no garbage disposal, no oven, no cooktop, no fridge (because our fridge didn't fit despite Josh measuring the opening 3 times). Yes, with two children this has been challenging. The no appliances thing also makes unpacking challenging because I have to spend a good amount of time out shopping for new appliances. You'd think that wouldn't take that long, but you would be wrong. We have very specific measurements for the new appliances, and it is darn near impossible to find appliances to fit those sizes. It'll work out, though, it is just taking longer than we'd anticipated. We'll all be sick of microwave cooking and takeout by the time our kitchen is suitably dressed.

The best thing about the house (and there are a lot of wonderful things) is the CABINET SPACE. Oh lordy, the cabinet space. What a glorious pleasure it is to have more than enough cabinets to hold all of your shit. It is enough to make me lie down on the kitchen floor among my gaping non-appliance holes and weep. Also, separate bathrooms for adults and children. Another amazingly selfish and decadent feature of the house. Also, a walk-in closet for me! Well, Josh and me together. Still! Walk-in closet!

We're finally home. And it feels great. We are so lucky.

Friday, November 13, 2009

the horrible threes

I think it is funny that everyone talks about the terrible twos, when I definitely think the threes, or at least the almost threes, are much worse. Gabe is his normal sweet, funny, happy self most of the time, until... (picture creepy music) the monster within comes out. The almost three year old monster within has been pushing his sister, screams bloody murder when she touches his stuff, lays on top of her while she also screams bloody murder, and demands to do everything "all by himself" even when it is clear that he CANNOT DO IT. Like microwaving food, or getting dressed, or buckling himself into the car seat, or paying for items in stores. He is adamant that he does NOT need me, even though we all know he does.

I have to say, though, this new stage is teaching me to have endless stores of patience. I definitely value independence in my children, and I am all about him learning to use the bathroom all by himself, and get dressed all by himself, and put his coat and shoes on all by himself, so I'm finding it inside of me to let him keep trying and trying and TRYING even if it takes us forever to get out of the house.

I know this is totally typical. Any tips for me?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

move out day!

I was just informed that our internet provider won't be able to come to the new house until next Tuesday to set up the Internet!!! This is going to make Nablopomo very difficult, I can tell.

Anyway, I'll do my best.

Today is move-out day on the old house, and I am stressed and sad and sick as a dog. An ugly combination for sure. I feel fairly certain that I have a sinus infection and possibly an ear infection and no time to go to the doctor. Additionally, I'm also fairly certain Josie's ear infection is not getting better, since she threw up, had a fever, and has been uber-fussy since yesterday. Sigh. I feel like all I ever do these days is bitch and moan!

Forgive me. I promise it'll get better next week.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

sexy shoes

The theme of my wedding shower was "Sex in the Kitchen", and my friends asked guests to bring something hot and heavy as well as kitchen appropriate as a gift. Consequently, I have an indecent (tee hee) number of sex books in my collection. This gifts were hilarious, and it remains the best wedding shower theme I've ever heard (in my unbiased opinion).

I just packed a box full of shoes and sex books, and for some reason that combination seemed totally fitting. Don't you think so? Both can be passionate, I guess.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

decluttering

Packing is a strange thing, I think.

The first pass was fine- I pulled out clothes and books and videos and small appliances and other items and packed them away. The first pass covered our most used and most needed things. The second pass was also pretty much fine, although I started to touch on some of those strange parts of packing, where you come across all that stuff you have that isn't essential to your day to day life. The old letters and cards, the clothing you haven't worn in months or years, the old school books and papers left over from college, Josh's snowboard and rollerblades. Many of these things are sentimental, or are used rarely, but we're still unwilling to get rid of them.

And then there are those items in perfect condition, gifts or something that cost a legitimate amount of money. I don't need them, but how could I possibly get rid of them? I need a professional packer who would come over and point out what is junk and what isn't, and what I'm holding onto for the wrong reasons.

I'm trying my best to weed out the unnecessaries now, rather than move them AGAIN, but it is hard hard hard. I'm sure I won't miss whatever I give away, and that is my mantra as we near the final stretch.

Monday, November 09, 2009

always looking forward

My mother in law is coming this afternoon to help and I may fling myself at her feet in gratitude when she walks in the door. I'll be doing the packing, but she has agreed to watch the children and also to patch up all the holes left by paintings and drapery rods. I also talked her into raking all the leaves that we are never going to have time to rake before the move on Thursday.

This is crazy! We're so close!

I took a book out of the library for Gabe about moving called "Goodbye, Hello" and it tells the story of a little girl's move from her old apartment into a new house. I sat down and was reading it to him while the little girl said goodbye to her old room and her old walls and her old friends and her old neighborhood and on and on, and then she moves and is very sad.

Gabe was paying attention, but really could have cared less because all he can talk about is his new playroom and his new room and his new big rock in the front yard and the swing set I promised him. Anyway, I'm reading through all the goodbyes and then... I started BAWLING. I'm totally crying through the book and trying to hide it and Gabe is looking at me like, what is your problem lady?

It turns out that amidst all of this excitement is a lot of sadness too. I can't wait to move, but this is the house where I brought home my babies! This was my first home with Josh! Gabe and Josie both took their first steps here! I love it! It is a lovely, wonderful, happy home, and I'll be so sad to leave it. I'm consoled by the fact that my friends have told me that once I move, I'll never look back, but still. For now, I'm sad.

So I'll be putting the "Goodbye, Hello" book away for now, not because of Gabe, but because clearly it is too traumatizing for ME. He's not the looking back type anyway, like soooo many other moments in life, Gabe is ready before I am.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

like college, only more stressful

Back to the preschool drama for a moment, if you all don't mind.

No, nothing new has happened, but I've been surprised at how many of you think I should switch him from this toddler program. In theory, I'd love to grab him and run since I have a burning hatred of confrontation, but I also have been feeling guilty because I can't teach him that running away is the right answer to a problem.

Yes, I'm upset, and yes, I think the director acted inappropriately, and yes, I'm uncomfortable with what may be taking place going forward. I am relatively confident, however, that his teachers are okay with Gabe. They said repeatedly that his behavior is typical for a 2 year 10 month old, and every day when I come they are adamant that he had a great day. He seems happy with the program and I've been inquiring more often lately about whether he likes his teachers, does he have friends, what does he do, how does he feel. I'm treading lightly here, since I don't want to give him a complex, but I also want to make sure I am actually hearing what is going on.

We aren't moving far away from our current town, just a few miles down the road. It will be a bit of a trek to keep him here at his school, but I think continuity is probably a good thing with all of these other changes. The drive will probably be 20-25 minutes in traffic, as opposed to 5-10 where we are now. Not ideal, but doable.

I'm going to think about other schools, in the meantime, and once we've made the move and I've seen what is going on at the toddler program over the next few weeks, I can always make a switch after the holidays, if it seems warranted. What do you think about that plan? Any thoughts?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

packing is my nemesis

OH MY GOODNESS, the packing, you guys. The packing is going to KILL ME. I have been nonstop packing for weeks, or at least that is how it feels, and there is no end in sight. I guess I can see that some progress has been made, but holy smokes, why do we have so much shit? I'm considering packing a little more and then calling the new owners and telling them we'll throw the rest in for free. They'll totally want all our junk, right?

Plus, Josh is wandering around the house and starting boxes left and right and then wandering away, and is currently outside the house looking in the shed doing God knows what, and I can't even yell at him because he has threatened to stop packing because I am too critical. I didn't know that asking someone to finish a box was critical. I also didn't know that asking someone not to dump out all their drawers on the bed and leave was critical. For your information, it is also critical to ask someone not to take all the pictures and mirrors off the walls until we have some boxes and/or open space in which to put them. FYI. All critical and not to be tolerated.

Oh lordy. This is going to be a loooonnnggg week.

Friday, November 06, 2009

I'm kind of laughing, but kind of not

Gabe loves dinosaurs.

Loves dinosaurs, as in knows all the names of all the different dinosaurs and talks about them all the time and tells me how he wants to visit them and asks for stories about them and we often ride the "dinosaur train" through the "time tunnel" to meet different dinosaurs and have picnics. These picnics often include Frosty the Snowman, because didn't you know? Frosty also loves dinosaurs. According to Gabe, I mean.

Anyway, yesterday I'm flipping through channels and come across Jurassic Park (the movie) and said to Gabe, "Oh look! Dinosaurs!" Are you cringing yet? I didn't completely remember the movie, but it started off great with beautiful big dinosaurs off in the distance and then a triceratops up close (which he loved) and then... the jeep breaks down in the movie right in front of the Tyrannosaurus Rex pen and... yeah. Do you remember this part? This is the part where the Tyrannosaurus EATS A GOAT and FLINGS BODY PARTS from the goat over the fence, and then busts out of the fence and starts trying to EAT THE HUMANS and then ACTUALLY EATS A MAN and there are screaming kids and screaming adults and... oh geez. This may have been a bad decision.

I'm not totally paying attention to the movie at this point because super stellar parenting going on here, and Gabe starts saying, "Mommy? I don't want to watch the scary movie, Mommy. Please no scary movie Mommy." I change the channel quickly and say, "Oh, it's just a movie, just pretend, don't worry." and leave it at that.

So today, we meet up with friends and decide to go to the pet store nearby to check out the turtles and cats and birds and bunnies and all that. I'm excitedly telling Gabe about how we're going to see some animals, and doesn't that sound great, and we're going to have so much fun, and then he says, in a small small sad voice from the backseat, "I don't want to go see the animals, Mommy. When the animals come, the T Rex comes. No animals, please."

Mmm hmm. Mother of the year, right here. Damage control, please.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

draaaaaaaaama

I made an appointment with the director of Gabe's preschool on Monday because I wanted to get her thoughts on the tangled mess of preschools for next year. Before we even got on the topic of preschools, she asked me how I thought Gabe was doing at school. Umm, fine? According to her, apparently not. Despite my asking every single day how his day has been when I pick him up, she went into a laundry list of complaints, including "wandering nonstop, beats to his own drummer, doesn't want to participate with set activities, doesn't sit still for circle time, doesn't want to do art projects, has trouble transitioning, etc".

I was... stunned. I couldn't even really respond, for a number of reasons, I guess. First, I don't do well with confrontation. Second, I was totally unprepared for this to turn into a parent-teacher conference. Third, this is ABSOLUTELY not the message I'd been receiving from his actual teachers. I left the meeting feeling totally upset and shocked and thrown off and not understanding what I was supposed to do about all of this information.

She didn't give me any tips of preschools, and now I had a whole list of "problems" I needed to address. She also went into a long discussion about how he wasn't getting enough discipline from me, and I needed to be stricter and more disciplined and the preschool I choose next year needs to be VERY disciplined to control him. Umm, okay.

I stressed nonstop about this for the whole morning until it was pick-up time at his TODDLER PROGRAM, need I remind you. As I was getting his stuff ready, I told the two teachers about my conference with the director and about how I was stressed and confused since this wasn't the message I'd been receiving from them. They looked at each other strangely, and then told me they had no idea what I was talking about. According to them, he is perfectly fine. Developmentally appropriate, doesn't wander, doesn't have trouble with transitions, has plenty of lovely skills and strengths (none of which were mentioned in my earlier conference), and yes, he doesn't want to sit for circle time, but he's two. He isn't the only one.

Sigh. I felt relieved, albeit confused, and decided to just forget about it. As long as the teachers were assuring me he was fine, I would push it out of my mind for the interim, at least until we move, and hope it all blows over.

Well.

Today, I came to drop him off and the director asked to speak to me and laid into me about how she was "sorry I was angry with her, but she has been a director for XX number of years and she isn't going to lie to me about my child and she has been receiving horrible reports from the teachers, and she thinks I need to know about the problems." Imagine yourself a huge mess, a startled and upset me, and you have yourself our morning scene. She insisted on showing me the notebook on Gabe, which I read through and by the way, said NONE of the things she kept going on about, and she says it is because the other teachers haven't "caught these behaviors".

I finally started crying in the hallway and asking what her point was. Was she saying he had a problem? Did he have ADHD? Did he need help? WHAT? She looked visibly stunned and softened a little and said no, not at all. He was perfectly normal. Definitely didn't have ADD or ADHD and he was a typical and normal 2 year old and she didn't mean for it to come out so harsh. She just thought I needed to know these things so I'd have something to work on. I continued crying while she apologized and said that from now on she was going to make the teachers write a daily progress report on Gabe (which I don't want) and we would have an accurate picture of what he was doing every day. And that was that.

I left crying, and dreaded pick-up and seeing the progress report all day and have been sad about this all day long. I don't know what to think- is there a problem or isn't there? If he is typically developing, then what is the big deal? If he isn't, then why isn't everyone on the same page? The director certainly isn't going to back down on her stance at this point. She is adamant that Gabe is doing all of those things she mentioned and his teachers just haven't noticed it.

I'm tempted to pull him out of the school and go to a school closer to our new house, but I don't want to go down that road, and I also don't think this warrants a change of school, sad though I may be. Ugh, what a mess. I'm just praying it doesn't affect him, and hopefully none of the teachers take their annoyance out on him.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

because I needed something else to freak out about

I got a letter late last week for jury duty. Jury duty.

For this coming Monday. As in, the Monday of the week I am moving out of this house, closing on this house, closing on the new house, and moving into the new house. Mmm hmm.

You're permitted one postponement for jury duty, but unfortunately, I've already submitted my postponement, because I was supposed to do jury duty about 2 weeks after Josie was born. That wasn't going to happen, and I could never have imagined this was the week I'd be moving.

I started scrambling to find a babysitter, trying to figure out how I could afford to take an entire day off from packing, and worst of all, how Josie was going to make it through an entire day without me, because she STILL won't take a bottle. The other day I left her with Josh for an afternoon while I attended a baby shower and she sobbed for two hours until I finally came home.

I didn't let myself contemplate the possibility of actually being PLACED on a jury, because I assumed between the moving and the breastfeeding, I'd be getting excused.

Thankfully, I called to ask about the process of getting excused, and how long I'd need to plan on being at the actual courthouse, and the kind, sweet, blessed woman with whom I spoke told me to get a letter from my pediatrician and fax it into the office explaining the breastfeeding situation. She said I didn't need to show up at the courthouse with the breastpump in hand, as I'd originally planned. I could get a medical exemption ahead of time, and it would be good for 3 years.

I got my letter, faxed it in, and I'm waiting to hear back, but my stress level has gone down 200%. Can you say "phew"?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

I have a death wish

It is totally insane to even consider doing this NaBloPowhatever, right? RIGHT? I can't even ponder the thought. Tell me not to even think about it please.

The last time I attempted this was when I was 8 months pregnant with Gabe and I almost succeeded, except for that one pesky night when I tripped and fell in the Home Depot parking lot and ended up in the hospital for 2 days with contractions. Stinking Home Depot. I don't know why they didn't anticipate that a gigantically pregnant woman would trip in the middle of the parking lot with nothing around her to trip on. I should totally sue them.

Anyway, I'm considering doing it. Even with packing up the house, and moving, and sick kids, and ear infections, and husbands working around the clock. Maybe. Perhaps what I'll do is do my best to post every day, and not ever say I'm officially doing it, so if I can't do it, I don't have to feel like I failed.

I think that is what I'll do. I'll do the daily posting thing, but I'm not officially doing the daily posting thing, and let's all hope for the best. Anyone else on board?

Monday, November 02, 2009

priceless satisfaction

Screaming

+

Not eating

+

Not sleeping

+

Not wanting to be put down

+

Tugging at ear

+

5:15pm rush over to the pediatrician's office

=

You guessed it... another ear infection!

A good one too! Every nurse and doctor I've talked to has insisted that ear tugging is NOT a sign of an ear infection, but it turns out you should trust yourself because if your baby is nonstop tugging at her ear and screaming, it just might be an ear infection!

After being chastised by the doctor for bringing her after hours without calling in advance, I found myself hoping he would find an ear infection, even though I felt guilty for wishing it on Josie. Is it terrible that I felt overwhelming satisfaction when he admitted that I was right to bring her because her ear looked horrible? I'm a totally mean mommy, right?

The poor little monster is having a rough time tonight, and I'm just praying the combination of baby Motrin and Amoxicillin will knock her out for the night, because she was a mess- all goopy eyes and runny nose and tons of sobbing. I'm just going to throw as many things as I can into boxes for the short period she is sleeping! Off I go!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

happy happy happy halloween!

What's that, you ask? How could I possibly forget to post on FREAKING HALLOWEEN? Yes, I am wondering the same thing. I blame it on the moving and packing, the crazy children, the multiple colds, and the absentminded me. Don't bother telling me anything these days, because I know I looked like I heard you, but I wasn't really listening. 30 seconds after we talk, I will have no idea what you said because my brain is fried with all of our to-dos.

All of this to say, Happy Halloween! Gabe and Josie send you an abracadabra, a little hocus pocus, and a magical day!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

boys boys boys

A friend invited me to a talk in her town about the "art of raising boys" (more or less). It was interesting, to say the least. The speaker covered some of the topics I'd heard before, such as the higher rate of psychiatric diagnoses in boys, especially things like autism or ADHD. He also covered what he viewed as the causes- larger classrooms, less outdoor time, more time expected of boys to sit still, overmedicalization of childhood, etc., in addition to what we can do to ease the stress and strain on our sons.

It was a timely talk for me, because I've been in preschool interviewing hell. The town to which we are moving has a much more competitive preschool process (can you see me cringing as I write that?), and we are wayyyy behind on the ball for next year. We are so far behind, most of the places I have called already have their classes full for 2010-2011, and usually have several people on the waiting lists.

I have found myself swiftly and surely falling into the anxiety trap over this whole preschool situation, and I'm stressing about finding a school that is good for Gabe, that doesn't cost a fortune (the norm is around $7,000/year-ouch), and that will even consider us for next year since they already have so many applicants. There are many schools in the area, so that is the good news, but the problem is the ideology is all over the place. Play-based vs. more disciplined, parent involvement vs. not, lots of outdoor play vs. not, religious vs. secular.

I heard from one preschool director that many of the mothers in the town apply to several preschools at once, wait to hear if they got in to their top choice, and when January or March comes around, release tons of spots at other schools so people will get in off of the waiting list, but who knows how many, and the thought of letting this go until March gives me hives. I just want to know Gabe is going to get into one school, and then when March comes around I'll do a little dance if we have options.

The preschool I visited today requires both parents to attend without kids, so we hired a babysitter, Josh took the morning off from work, and we both attended. Can you even believe this? It is like college! Anyway, it was gorgeous. Beautiful gardens for the kids, amazingly large spacious classrooms, high teacher ratio, great toys and activities and philosophy. Except... the director went on and on about how they don't say "no" or "don't". The teachers and staff try not to feature it in their vocabulary, so everything is an "I prefer if you did..." or "how about..." or "let's try..." rather than clearly telling them not to do something or other.

Umm, I'm not sure that will work for my kid. Gabe is lovely and sweet and compliant, sometimes, but he is also busy and active and a little nutty. He loves to run, and he loves to make his friends laugh, and that can be a dangerous combination. When he gets in one of his moods, it can be difficult to rein him in. I also feel that when he is in the midst of some unwanted behavior, my best bet is to simply remove him from the situation for a while, rather than try to talk to him about it right then and there. He'll look at me if I ask him to, he'll appear to be listening to the words coming out of my mouth, he'll even give me a sing-songy "ooooookay", but two seconds later he's doing it all over again. Frustrating, to say the least.

Tonight's talk made it clear that Gabe's behavior is typical. I spoke to the speaker after the talk and he rolled his eyes when I told him my dilemma, and agreed my best bet would be to continue to discipline Gabe in the way I thought best. He said that in his experience, all the talking didn't really work with most boys, because it simply isn't the way they learn. Boys do best with clear boundaries and expectations. Most of that unwanted behavior, they just outgrow.

I felt better, a little less stressed after hearing the whole talk, and I will definitely try a little less "no" and a little more positivity, but at the same time I won't feel badly about having to give a strong "NO" when Gabe shoves his sister out of the way or chases the dogs. He's an amazing little lunatic, and I need all the help I can get. I can't believe these are only the toddler years! Someone send me a drink when he turns 13.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

life as we know it is OVER

Josie started walking.

And by 'walking', I mean, flinging herself in the general direction of things with absolutely no balance whatsoever. I am not exaggerating on the no balance thing, her desire GREATLY outweighs her skill in the walking department.

The poor little thing has bruises all over her legs and rib cage and arms and forehead from falling headfirst into everything, but she managed to take 1 step on Friday, two on Sunday, and three steps today. Enough to get her between the coffee table and the couch, or from the dining room table to... splat... the floor.

The attempted walking generated tons of excitement over here, although Gabe is not understanding how to help her along, and he ends up pushing her or tripping her a lot, which with her limited skill is pretty dangerous.

2.5 weeks to go until we move, and I'm just praying she doesn't figure out how to climb stairs too because we dismantled all the baby gates! Someone needs to explain to these kiddos that they are supposed to be making my life EASIER, not crazier.

Monday, October 26, 2009

half-priced halloweenlover

Have I told you about my love for Craigslist? I think I might actually be addicted. I have had the best luck on Craigslist, and because of that, I refuse to buy anything without giving myself the chance to find it first on Craigslist (and Ebay, but I like Craigslist more).

When I wanted to attempt some basic sewing, I bought a used sewing machine for $30 on Craigslist and have used it for the last 5 years to make window seats and pillows and curtains and even two quilts. It started to break down over the last couple of weeks, but I think I've gotten my $30 worth.

When I needed to clear out the guest room furniture in preparation for Gabe's big move, I sold all our furniture in one weekend for exactly the prices I was asking.

When I needed furniture for Gabe's new room, I knew which furniture I coveted and which furniture I could actually afford. We shopped around endlessly, and I'd finally resigned myself that in order to get something decent, we were going to need to buy unfinished furniture and I'd try to paint or finish it sometime during my pregnancy. At the same time, I kept an eye on Craigslist in the hopes that something would turn up. It did! I ended up finding this exact bunk bed set, in the color I wanted, in almost perfect shape.


The family had owned it for 2 years (they purchased it for $1,199 + $150 delivery fee + tax) and still had all of the paperwork, but were moving and buying their kids new furniture (picture borrowed from PBKids).






They also had this dresser, colors perfectly matched, that just happened to fit Gabe's room perfectly (they purchased it for $799 + $150 delivery fee).

I bought both the bunk beds and the dresser for $650, and they dismantled it for me and loaded up the truck I'd borrowed from my inlaws, and even threw in a repair kit and a wood staining pen they'd purchased for the furniture). 2 year old furniture! Original price more than $2400 (after tax and delivery), and I paid $650! Granted, still a ton of money, but not compared to what it cost in the stores. Craziness!


Then, of course, I needed bedding and a rug for Gabe's new room. I needed a large rug and all of his sheets and comforter and quilt, and everything I liked kept adding up to several hundred dollars, so I checked Craigslist (and Ebay) and between the two of them, ended up putting together this adorable bedroom set for about $300 after purchasing a quilt, a Euro size quilted sham, twin flannel sheets, a down alternative blanket, and 8x10 rug- all brand new in their original packaging! If' I'd purchased all of these from the stores, it would definitely have been more than $1000. More craziness!

Since then, I sold our bassinet and bought a larger one since Gabe outgrew his bassinet before we were ready to move him from our bedroom. I sold our old bassinet in a few days, and picked up a sturdier one for Josie, all on Craigslist. I sold old bedding on Craigslist and old furniture we had lying around our basement.

I really want to try to make my own baby food for Josie, but I was overwhelmed with the process when I tried it with Gabe. I found this little gem on Craigslist, brand new in the packaging, for $80 instead of the original $149.99 + tax. It was a splurge, but a splurge that cost half the price of the splurge I really wanted!

I was in a mood for a new diaper bag, but didn't want to spend any real money, so I found this bag used and purchased it for $15. The only thing that was wrong with it was a few smudges and the zipper pull was broken off. I called Bugaboo to ask whether I could purchase a new zipper pull from them, and they asked for all my info and said they would get back to me. 4 days later, a BRAND NEW diaper bag showed up on my door step! And all I paid was $15! Even more craziness!

Ok actually, this is looking like a lot of money, despite the cheaper prices, but I swear this is over a few years, not all at once.

With all of the new house excitement, there are TONS of things we are going to need for the new house, like rugs and appliances and curtains and a couch, and I'll definitely be checking Craigslist for deals.

Honestly, it is getting a little ridiculous. I may never pay full price for anything ever again!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

jinx jinx jinx

Our luck may finally be turning around.

Our buyers got confirmation that they have a mortgage, a real concern these days because so many people are being turned down by the mortgage companies. There are so many steps these days, including very difficult appraisals, very high down payment requirements, and very high income demands. Thankfully, they got their mortgage and we are set for the sale of our house.

And (drum roll please)... we found a house! Just when I was scraping the bottom of the barrel morale-wise, a house came back on the market that had been under agreement. It was way out of our price range, but I've been desperate, so we asked for a showing anyway. I was in the house for about 3 minutes before I realized that this was it- this was our house, so I called Josh frantically and tried to convince him to let me make an offer without him seeing it. Understandably, he was a little nervous, but he did agree to rush home early from work and meet me there. 3 minutes into his own tour, he turned to me and asked, "Why didn't you make an offer this morning?"

Of course, as these things always seem to go, by the time we'd put together an offer just a few minutes later, the owners had received another offer. The other offer was for more money, but we were offering better terms (dates, mortgage, etc). After some haggling back and forth, they went with our offer! Since then, things have been flying smoothly along. The inspection was great, the seller is actually an estate so they've been very flexible, and we are set to close on the same day we are selling our current house.

All of this means- we're really moving! For real! I need to start packing! Like yesterday! We have less than a month to go, and I am only now realizing this is actually going to happen. I love the house, and although the particular town wasn't my first choice (more on that later), I'm sure I will come to love it. I had my heart set on staying in our current town, but this town is close by, the schools are excellent, the neighborhood is lovely and very family friendly. I'm confident it will work out.

Now, does anyone want to come over and help pack? I can provide the cookies and candy corn.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

the good, the bad, and the WTF

Oh dear, where should I even start.

We left off last talking about how overwhelmed I was feeling because of the kids and the dog and the house. Little did I know, that was nothing compared to what has been going on the last 2 weeks. I'm starting to wonder what I might have done to piss someone off.

Exhibit A:
Josie had her regular 9 month checkup that same day (which by the way, how can she be 9 months old?), and she had a regular blood draw to check her blood count and do a lead test. And guess what? She tested with an elevated level of lead in her blood.

We rushed her to the hospital to have a repeat draw, this time a real one in her vein. The test itself was stressful enough, honestly. And guess what? It really was elevated! No false positive for us!

So we proceeded to rush Gabe to the hospital to have his blood checked for lead too, since it would stand to reason that if one child was positive the other would be too. While I was out of the house, my mother in law was staying at home with Josie. While she was at home with Josie, she answered the phone, spoke to my real estate broker and told her Josie's blood tested positive for lead.

Wait. Did you read that correctly? She told my REAL ESTATE BROKER my daughter tested positive for LEAD. Are you sensing a problem here?

I'm going to cut the story short here, because I cannot possibly rehash the nightmare that has been my life for the past week. A nightmare that included me hysterically sobbing on the phone several times, screaming matches with my broker, multiple attorneys, threats from my broker's firm against me about disclosing the information to our buyers, and finally a written disclosure we drafted (with the help of an attorney) and sent over to the buyers on Saturday.

And then we waited for a response. It never came, and Tuesday was the final date for our buyers to get their commitment from the bank (i.e. a mortgage), and they did. And that was that. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, couldn't even think about anything but this for days, but it looks like in the end the buyers were okay with it, and trusted my pediatrician's assertions that such a low level of lead combined with Gabe's negative lead test, meant the source of the lead was from a toy or from some other random singular event. The pediatrician feels confident that this is not coming from the house.

I feel tremendously guilty about this whole Josie having lead in her blood thing, and every time I talk about it, I start crying all over again. I don't know what I could have done, but it feels like I should have been able to do something. It feels like I didn't protect my baby. I shouldn't have let this happen.

The good news is that it is a very low level, as my pediatrician calls it, "a very slightly elevated level" and that level doesn't even need to be treated, although we are proactively giving her iron supplements.

Exhibit B:
At the conclusion of the weekend, and while we were still waiting to hear from the buyers, Josie was a mess. At midnight on Monday night, she woke up screaming (SCREAMING) inconsolably at midnight, and would not calm down until 6am, at which point I called the pediatrician in hysterics, because Josh was insisting we needed to take her to the hospital to be checked out. The pediatrician sat on the phone with me for 20 minutes listening to her scream and suggesting various possibilities, and he finally told me to meet him at the office so he could check her out before we went to the ER. As we were getting ready to walk out the door, Josie starts projectile vomiting all over me, herself, and our bed.

I rush over to the office, and the doctor and nurses start examining her and running bloodwork to figure out what the problem is. She would scream any time they touched her stomach, and the possibility of an intestinal obstruction started floating around. I, meanwhile, was crying quietly in the corner, because OH MY GOD, seriously?

We sat in the office for 3 hours, me rocking her quietly while she lay limp, pale as a sheet in my arms, and feeding her teeny sips of pedialite and discussing whether we should go to the hospital. Finally, the pediatrician gets the results of the blood test indicating she has some sort of infection, and he says we should go in to the ER for some tests. I'm packing up her stuff, and turn to him to ask, "this couldn't be an ear infection, right?" He assured me it couldn't, but then decided to check her ears right as we're leaving, and guess what? RAGING ear infection. Raging.

The relief, I cannot even begin to tell you the relief. The guilt came later, but the relief was amazing. We had a terrible 24 hours, but she is a different baby today after 48 hours of antibiotic and food and SLEEP, glorious sleep.

Exhibit C:
Yesterday I went to pick Gabe up from school, and somehow, within the span of just a couple of hours, he has become goop city. He is drooping, feverish, snotty, and generally unwell. I had to do the walk of shame out of the preschool, while all the other mothers eyed me angrily, all but saying out loud that I sent a sick kid to school to infect their precious babies.

I swear, he wasn't sick! I'm super paranoid about sending sick kids to school! Alas, no one believes me anymore, and although he seems better today, I'm probably going to have to keep him home tomorrow just to prove a point. Damnit.

Honestly, though, if karma is a bitch, as I always like to remind rude people, what have we done to deserve all of this? And I know that sounds totally self-involved to say that all of this is falling on me, but that is how it feels! Many many times this week I have thought about crawling under a rock to cry. Or at least under the covers. At this point, I'm thinking we should call 2009 a wash and move onto 2010. It can't be any worse than this year.

Friday, September 25, 2009

whine fest: you might want to move right along

I'm restraining myself from writing this post in ALL CAPS because I am in a yelling mood, but I'll try to keep myself under control.

The universe. is. conspiring. against. me.

My child, she has stopped sleeping and is a fucking basket case all the time. We are talking whining and moaning and crying and general annoyingness all the freaking time. I'm assuming she is finally (FINALLY!) getting some teeth since she is 9+ months old with no teeth, but at this point I honestly don't care, I just want her to cut me a break. Yesterday I actually walked upstairs and put one crying toddler into his room and one crying infant into her room and locked myself in the downstairs bathroom, which was the only room in the house where I couldn't hear the screaming.

I stayed downstairs for 10 minutes, seething over what jerks both of my kids were being, and then I walked upstairs and pasted a smile on my face and brought them down for dinner. I paid for those 10 minutes by having to calm Josie down for the next 45 minutes. She has been doing this thing where as soon as something doesn't go her way, or you don't entertain her, or you try to put her down, or you try to drive in the car, she goes from 0-OHMYGODITISTHEENDOFTHEWORLD. Complete with tears and great, heaving sobs and shaking. It is exhausting.

Then, THEN, the dog (Murray) has started shitting and peeing in the house again. (I am banging my head against the desk for effect right now). Again. I can't even begin to discuss how this makes me feel except to tell you that yesterday I screamed out loud that I was calling the breeder to ask her to take Murray back. I just don't know what to do. I am completely, utterly, totally SICK OF THIS. I am sick of finding poop on the living room rug, or poop outside of my bedroom door, or pee on the dining room rug, or having Gabe leave his clothes on the bathroom floor for 5 minutes and having Murray pee all over them.

I don't want to be that person who can't take care of her dog, but I also cannot be this angry and frustrated. I cannot have a dog who is 6 years old and continues to have accidents. I take him for walks and he won't go to the bathroom on a leash, or in front of me. I let him into the backyard multiple times per day and watch him through the window while he stands there and looks around him for 20 minutes, or stands at the back door scratching and whining and barking to be let back in, and then has an accident on the floor 10 minutes later.

I have trained him, and retrained him, and retrained him, and I know I am opening myself up to people saying that I am an idiot that cannot train her dog, but I swear, this dog was trained for YEARS and it is only over the last year that this has started again. Plus, we go through weeks or months where he is fine, and then something sets it off again.

I'm just sick of this. I'm done. I do what everyone suggests and keep them fenced into the kitchen where at least the messes are easier to clean, but seriously? Is this a life for the dog? He hates being outside, so he can't even hang out in the backyard, and all he wants is to sit on the couch with me, but I don't want that because I don't want pee and poop all over the house. Oh geez, I could cry right now just thinking about this. Plus poor Tango pays for Murray's accidents because he also gets caged into the kitchen and he jumps all over me in excitement everytime I come in to the room. I just don't know what to do anymore.

Josh is also working, ALL THE TIME. He was in San Francisco on Monday through Wednesday, then in New York on Thursday and today, then Chicago early next week, then Indiana at the end of the week. He works through most of the weekends, and doesn't see an end in sight until October. I haven't had a break, no time away from the kids, in weeks. My only breaks are naptimes, during which I house hunt, call inspectors, and moving companies, and organize and pack, and keep the rest of our household floating while Josh isn't here. The working situation is beyond absurd, honestly. I'm grateful for a job and a paycheck and the opportunity to buy a house and all that, but I miss my husband. I miss my partner. I'm tired of being alone.

And then, of course, there's the house situation, which is shitty shitty. No good houses on right now, and no sellers who are willing to budge. We made another offer on a house that should be priced about $50K less, and the seller doesn't want to move. At least the Fed is going to keep the rates low for a little while so I feel a bit less pressure.

Rounding this all off, is the packing, of course. I started this week, because my mother in law is coming to visit on Tuesday through Sunday and she expects me to be prepared to do a massive packing spree while she is here, and I am thoroughly overwhelmed by the process, but everyone does it, and so will I.

My one bright shining spot is that I pulled out some Halloween decorations and the leaves are starting to change and tomorrow we'll go buy pumpkins and I'll bake apple muffins and applesauce cakes and I'll pretend I'm not ready to crawl under the bed and cry.

Tell me some terrible moving and packing stories please, so I'll stop feeling sorry for myself. Tell me it could be worse than this.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

short and not-so-sweet

The inspection on the pseudo-dream house was a @#*%& NIGHTMARE. A nightmare in which you have to jack up the house and rebuild the whole structure. A nightmare in which the sellers removed structural beams because they "thought it would look nicer" and so now it turns out the whole stairway is lilting to one side because it isn't being held up. A nightmare where there is rotting wood all over, and bathrooms not done to code, and wiring that is so freaking old, we can't even get a mortgage or home insurance.

In some ways, it was a blessing to have so many gigantic problems, because it didn't leave us in a gray area. We needed a huge number off the price of the house, and we needed the wiring throughout the house redone correctly in addition to that huge number.

I have no idea what kind of workers this seller has been hiring, but both the inspector and a contractor we asked to come give us some estimates, told us that every single thing he touched was done incorrectly. Electrical sockets were wired incorrectly, bathrooms were plumbed wrong, venting was incomplete or illegal. There were sump pumps tapped into the sewer line (not allowed) and drywall that was improperly attached.

By the time I'd visited the house with the inspector and then the contractor I was completely overwhelmed and Josh was beyond terrified. We loved the space in the house, but we couldn't imagine what we might end up uncovering if all of these problems were visible just on the surface!

We asked for tens of thousands of dollars off the price of the house, and the additional non-negotiable items like rewiring the house and bringing the bathrooms up to code, and weren't surprised when he said no. I think the seller was surprised, though, when we said thanks but no thanks, we're withdrawing our offer. In fact, he has since called us 4 times to ask why we aren't negotiating and to insist that he thought that was his starting offer.

It would be funny if I weren't so tired of this jerk.

So we're back to being homeless as of November 13th, and I've taken to looking up rental apartments rather dejectedly. I don't want to have to move twice, and I know I said I was okay with it, but now I'm fretting over the double moves, and the packing for storage and packing to live in a rental, and with the fear that we'll never find a home (irrational as I know that sounds).

I worry that we are in a precarious situation because we sold our house in a down market, with very low interest rates, but if home prices start to go up or mortgage rates start to go up, we'll be TOTALLY screwed. Screwed as in, won't be able to buy a home.

Sigh. If I let myself go down this road too long, I start panicking, which isn't like me, but we've never taken quite this big of a risk, and I've never sold a home. It is a lot of money, and the process is harder than I imagined. Everyone keeps saying that selling your home is the hardest part, and I hope they are right. Now we just need to find a house!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

you think I'm joking, but I'm not

I met this new mom on the playground the other day.

Our little conversation was going swimmingly as we discovered that our two children are just a couple of months apart, agewise. (convenient! check)

She has just moved to my town from a not-too-distant town and she mentioned that she stays at home and really wants to make some new friends. (friendly! check)

She asked me for my number so we could meet up for a playdate at the park one of these days. (outgoing! check)

We were both pretty excited after spending the afternoon together watching the kids play. It really seemed like we could get along and had a good amount in common.

Until...

We were packing up the kids to leave and talking about whether the neighbors around here are friendly or not and I said she would probably meet tons of people on Halloween since everyone comes out in full force. And she groaned and said, "Ugh, I HATE HALLOWEEN."

I looked at her in horror and said, in all seriousness, "I honestly don't know if we can be friends anymore." and she said, "why? Let me guess. You love Halloween?" I don't even know how to express the whole truth to her that Halloween is more than just a love to me. I'm counting down the days until I can start decorating. I've already bought the paper products to have a little shindig on Halloween. I'm lamenting the fact that we won't be in a new house already for Halloween because I'll have to pare down the decorating here. I have actually considered moving to one particular town based on the sole fact that they have a Halloween parade.

So the question is, do you think we can still be friends? I have my doubts.
(a) Yes, you lunatic. Get a grip and hide the candy corn when she comes over.

(b) Obviously not. You lack fundamental shared values and it'll never work.

(c) Maybe. You should make it your personal mission to turn her onto Halloween. Drop secret Halloween presents at her house, send her decorating and costume suggestions, and make it clear this is a friendship prerequisite.

Monday, September 14, 2009

taking all the joy out of buying a house

If I could record myself to this post, you would hear HUGE SIGHING throughout. I'm emotionally exhausted just thinking about everything that's been happening since last Tuesday. I mentioned that we found a house. A big house in a great neighborhood with 6 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms and 3 floors and a little playroom off the kitchen and a tiny, but flat, backyard with a cute little deck and lots of space. Lots and lots of space, which is precisely what has been lacking in our current house.

This house, let's call it pseudo-dream house, or PDH for short, needs work. A lot of work. Lots and lots of painting and sanding and repairing and replastering, and all new kitchen, and 3.5 new bathrooms and basement repairs and general cosmetic work. Clearly, this terrible shape is the only reason we could afford a house like this. I should call it pseudo-dump instead, but whatever, let's be positive about the situation. We haven't had an inspection yet, so we have no idea if anything structural is wrong with it, but we don't have high hopes. In fact, we're scared silly over what might come out in an inspection.

Regardless, we love the house. It is enough space for all of our bedrooms, plus a guest room for our two sets of parents that live out of town, plus an office for Josh, plus maybe even another kid (or two, which is my secret hope). Fixed up, it would be great. Really perfect for us.

Starting last weekend, we decided to make an offer, but a really low offer since all of this work would take the house way out of our price range. It took us all weekend to come up with a number and get together with our broker, so Tuesday morning we made our offer, and within an hour, we'd been back and forth with the seller 4 times. In the end, we stopped bidding because it was happening too quickly, and we were getting too close to our absolute maximum. We took a step away, a day off, and asked to see the house again. In the meantime, the seller offered to repaint the inside and refinish all the floors before we moved in. That would have been a huge expense for us, because we were planning two moves. One move out of our current house and into storage, another move from storage into the house while the floors were being refinished. We finally came up with our absolute maximum and sent him a lovely letter telling him how much we love his home and that this was the most we could afford- really and truly. We were only about $9,000 apart, so we really believed it might actually happen.

And he gave us a big fat no.

No no no. He wanted his $9,000, and he wouldn't move on his price. For 24 hours, we were stalled out here, with much hand wringing and tears and spreadsheets, trying to figure out which kid would fetch the highest price. Finally, we figured out a way to meet his price, and sent our final offer accepting his number.

And he sat on it and hemmed and hawed, and I swear, I know he wanted to ask for more, but he finally said yes. Success! We'd agreed on a price! We drafted up the paperwork and started to send it over and asked for it to be returned to us within a couple hours.

Then the fun really started.

1. First the broker said he was going to a college football game and couldn't deliver the offer. Fine, my broker was happy to drive it over to the seller.

2. The broker said he didn't know where the seller lived and wouldn't be able to find out until tomorrow.

3. Also, the broker said our low offer PUT THE SELLER INTO THE HOSPITAL, and now he was home recovering. He couldn't possibly ask him to sign today while he was resting in bed.

4. Then he decided he wanted to have quotes done on the refinishing and painting and ceiling work he'd agreed to do before he signed the offer. The work he'd already agreed to do, regardless of price.

5. Then he couldn't get us the offer first thing in the morning because the broker likes to sleep in.

6. Also, the seller wanted to change all the dates upon which we'd already agreed.

My broker sat in our dining room on the phone arguing with the seller's broker until a tentative truce was reached and a time of 9:30am was set for Sunday (yesterday) morning. The next morning, on pins and needles, 9:30am comes and goes. At 10:30am, my broker called the seller's broker, who said he was still in bed. Still in bed. Are you feeling my tension yet?

He and the seller had an appointment at 1:30pm and he'd sign it then. 1:30pm comes and goes, and at 2:45pm, my broker calls to ask what the hold-up is, and the broker claims they are working on it but want to talk dates again. My broker says that we'll talk dates after the inspection, at which point I'll ask my buyers to move their closing forward also. At 6:30pm, we still haven't heard anything, so my broker calls and demands an answer.

At this point, I was a basket of nerves. We've been waiting for responses for days, dealing with crazy excuses, and I've taken to doing drive-bys on the PDH to make sure they aren't doing mass showings in the hopes of soliciting higher offers (I am POSITIVE this is what they are doing by stalling). I finally called my broker and told her to tell the seller that I don't care anymore what they do, they can accept or reject the offer, but have the decency to give me an answer once and for all.

When she called to deliver the message, he simply said, "Oh, it's signed already." No phone call, no fax, no email, nothing. And he wasn't even apologetic. She asked for him to fax it, and he said he didn't have a fax machine, so she had to drive over to pick it up this morning.

To add insult to injury, he also flagged the property and put in caps on the listing sheet, "LOOKING FOR BACKUP OFFERS. PLEASE BRING ALL YOUR BUYERS!!!" Complete with exclamation points and everything. Plus, this morning he already lost my deposit check and has made all these ridiculous demands about mortgage letters and the like.

Asshole. My broker is at a loss to explain his behavior, although she has stated more than once that she wonders whether the broker might be on drugs. He's on something, that's for sure.

So all this to say that we do have an accepted offer on PDH, and an inspection scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, and I'm trying to keep my hopes very very low, but you never know. Maybe this will work out and we won't have to rent and we'll be able to do this seamlessly. Ugh, it's a longshot, but you never know, I guess.

anyone want to sell their home to me? at a discount?

One of my favoritest friends has a blog where she recounts her adventures in purchasing foreclosed homes and rehabbing them. It is totally addictive, and I cannot stop reading her posts! It makes me want to run out and buy a foreclosed home with my nonexistent money and even less available time.

She visited us during the weekend of our first open house, way back in June, and witnessed the flurry of activity that took place over those Friday and Saturday nights. The truth is that Josh and I have put a ton of work into this home, the vast majority of which we did ourselves. Those of you who have been around for quite some time may remember the good old days, when I used to talk about something other than my kids. I read through these posts and feel exhausted at my old self. Where did I find the time to do this stuff? I worked! At a law firm! As a corporate lawyer! For long hours! Ahh, those days are long gone now.

Also, wow. I was way more interesting before I had kids. Apologies.

Anyway, it looks like we are really going to sell this house and will (HOPEFULLY PLEASE) be moving to a new house. As we look at these dumps shitholes lovely homes people are so ridiculously absurdly reasonably pricing, we are having to make decisions on how much work we are willing to do on a new home.

The towns in which we are looking have very few new homes, so almost everything needs work. The question is whether we do minor work, cosmetic work, heavy cosmetic work (bathrooms and kitchens), structural work, or huge renovations. Considering the whole 2 children thing, husband working around the clock thing, plus I do have plans for going back to school or work at some point in the not so distant future, I'm leaning toward heavy cosmetic work as the most I'd be willing to do.

We made some offers on a house now that would need exterior and interior top to bottom painting, all new bathrooms, all new kitchen and laundry rooms, and some renovations in the basement. The roof is probably old, and I'm guessing several problems will come out in the inspection, just judging from the look of things. So why are we bidding? Well, it is far far bigger than we could ever afford normally. 6 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms, to be exact. It is in one of our most favorite, safest, loveliest neighborhoods, close to the train and shops, nestled among much more expensive homes, and priced way under assessment. Still, despite all those benefits, I'm thoroughly afraid of taking all of this on.

I figure a quick overview of all the work we have done on this house might depress cheer me on to the prospect of what is to come:

Downstairs:
Living Room: took down wallpaper, scraped walls, painted walls and ceiling and trim and fireplace, tore up carpet and refinished floors, patched cracks, replaced hardware.

Dining Room: took down wallpaper, scraped walls, painted walls and ceiling and trim and doors, tore up carpet and refinished floors, , replaced hardware, patched cracks and patched cracks again. And again.

Kitchen: gutted the whole kitchen, with new walls, new hardwood floors, new ceilings, new electrical, new plumbing, new cabinets and countertops and appliances and lighting and hardware.

Mudroom: gutted the mudroom with the same changes as the kitchen and installed cabinets and a pantry.

Half Bathroom: took down wallpaper, scraped walls, painted walls and ceiling, installed new medicine cabinets, tiled floor, had existing wall tiles reglazed.

Office: painted walls and ceiling, tore up nasty gross carpet, recarpeted.

Foyer: replaced front door and screen door, had front brick stairs rebuilt.

Upstairs
Master Bedroom: took down wallpaper, scraped walls, painted walls and ceiling and trim and closet and bedroom doors, redid closets with new organizational systems, tore up carpet and refinished floors, all new windows.

Gabe's bedroom: took down wallpaper, scraped walls, painted walls and ceiling and trim and closet and bedroom doors, father in law built radiator cover, tore up carpet and refinished floors, all new windows.

Josie's bedroom: painted walls and ceiling and trim and built-ins and doors, redid closet with new organizational system, tore up carpet and refinished floors, all new windows.

Hallway and Stairs: took down wallpaper, scraped walls, painted walls and ceiling and trim and stair risers, tore up carpet and refinished floors, all new windows.

Full Bath: took up old linoleum tile, took down wallpaper, scraped walls, painted walls, replaced lighting, replaced medicine cabinet, replaced shower hardware.
Basement:
Main basement: carpeted part of the basement, tiled part of the entry area and laundry area, painted and plastered walls and ceiling and trim and stairs and pipes.

Garage and Work room: nothing.

Exterior:
Painted whole exterior, replaced front steps, painted foundation and patio foundation, tore down and replaced fencing around yard, planted new perennial garden in front yard and back yard.


Phew. We've done a lot, especially when I see it all written down. Thank goodness we did most of the work ourselves, or we never would have come close to breaking even. As it is, we are getting our money back on the major stuff, like the kitchen, but nothing back on all of the carpeting, tiling, and painting we've done over the years. No wonder it feels so much like home,-it literally has our blood, sweat, and tears.

It'll be hard to move on November 13th, but I keep reminding myself that we are hoping for something bigger and better. Now we just need to find it or come to some sort of agreement on this fixer-upper. And then find the money to fix it. Or my inlaws will have to house us indefinitely, and I think no one really wants that, although my inlaws are too polite to say so.