Friday, March 28, 2008

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

If I ever decide to buy a house from across state lines, somebody please kill me. Seriously. Or you could just beat me with a large dirty brick until my brain leaks out my ears and then pile all our worldly posessions on top of me. Make sure you clean out my checking acccount first. That would yield almost the same results as I have right now, with less effort.

We're moving using one of these. Notice how the pictures don't show the length of the thing? I mean, they give you the dimensions, but you think "Oh, six feet long? Eight feet high? No problem!" However, when they delivered it on Tuesday, it was quite short in person. I had some serious doubts about how much of our stuff would fit in there. But my brother came over and rocked out, cramming our shit in there like a pack-master. I was still worried about fitting the remaining stuff that was scattered around the house, so I took the clothes/soft things and stuffed them in the cracks between boxes. Our crap is wedged in there so tight, my brother joked that when we finally get around to unloading, we'll open the door and there will be a slight tremble from within and then poof, everything will explode outward in a cartoony avalanche of household goods.

But, fine, whatever, we got most of it loaded. Ryan was flying in Wednesday night, so I thought we could finish up the packing/loading Thursday. He called me Wednesday before he got on the plane and said he'd heard from the realtor and mortgage people and they said everything was 100% go for the March 28th closing date they promised us six weeks ago. He boarded the plane happy, Piper and I picked him up at the airport, and we went to bed Wednesday night a snuggling little family, feeling quite secure that this was our last night in Michigan. We awoke Thursday tired but pleased that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Our plan was to finish loading the stuff, go pick up our rental car at 4:30 and take off between 7 and 9 pm Thursday night. It's a 10-12 hour drive, so we should've arrived in plenty of time to drop off the rental and go to our closing at 4:00. By 5pm Friday, we were supposed to be unlocking the the door to our new house.

Except for the part where Ryan got a phone call at 2:00 pm yesterday and was told "the lawyers need 72 hours to look over the paperwork" and the VERY SOONEST we can close is some time Tuesday.

Panic erupted. We were mere hours from transporting a minivan full of cats, crap, and baby due South with nowhere to go once we got to Charlotte. Ryan used up two of his three available days off to come here and drive us down. We paid $230 to fly him here, for fuck's sake, plus almost $300 for the rental car. The movers were scheduled to pick up our stuff on Friday and drop it off at the new house on Tuesday.

After more than an hour of freakouts, back-and-forthing, and debating, Ryan's dad offered to drive us down some time this weekend. Ryan's roommate said we could put the cats in his basement for a couple days and crash there until we can get into our house. So we canceled our rental van and will be going on Saturday night instead, and I just hope to God the cats don't trash the basement and that "the lawyers" don't decide they need until Thursday or Friday of next week to do whatever the hell it is they're doing.

In the meantime, I have to make the stuff I left out stretch to cover nearly a week. I've arranged for our belongings to be delivered to the new house Wednesday or Thursday, but the lone suitcase of clothing I left out contains three outfits for each of us - outfits I picked out for the 70-80 degree weather in Charlotte, not the two inches of snow we got here last night. I'm already out of clean socks; I can't find my hairbrush; this morning, the baby pooped all over the one long-sleeved shirt I have for her; Ryan brought just one change of warm clothes, since he had shorts and t-shirts he had left here. Oh, and for some reason, Piper is trashing her clothes worse than usual. Which means my clothes are trashed worse than usual, because whenever her face and shirt are smeared with gooey chunks of graham cracker, drool, and floor lint, my face and shirt wind up smeared with it too.

Aaaaaand I woke up really late this morning and I have a ton of things to do, which means our plans for the three of us to take a family day and go to the museum will probably have to be shelved.

So, like I said, just beat me with a dirty brick next time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Day Without Pants

We love us some St. Patrick's Day around here. A couple of loud, rowdy Irish kids who like beer - it's a holiday practically tailor-made for us. So I made Piper wear green every day in March leading up to The Day of St. Patrick. On the actual day, however, she refused to wear anything. Everything I tried she pulled back over her head, screaming "nononononoooo!" and threw it across the room. I managed to talk her into a hoodie and some socks, because the house was freezing. Then I guess she decided cold was good, and played in the open fridge:

This is what she looked like when I told her she had to get dressed so we could go to the store:

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Days Grandmas Are Made For

My mom took Piper outside for a long walk today. Then she took her downstairs to play with and sort the craft supplies down there. In fact, she and Piper spent much of the day together today. Normally, I would probably have been midly irritated, because whenever my mom spends time with the baby her attitude toward Piper takes on a quality of ownership that I object to. That's my fucking kid, lady, so back the fuck off.

Usually I hate to give her any ground, because I am constantly battling my mother for control of my own child. I have to say things like "No, she can't have any Chee-tos. Because they're too salty, that's why. Yes, it does matter." Or "No, I'm not putting her on formula. She has colic; my breastmilk is not making her sick." Or "because she puts everything in her mouth and chews on it, so batteries, can openers, old Christmas decorations, and cellphones are not the best toys." Don't even get me started on my near-daily battles to get the woman to stop trying to rock the baby to sleep at the wrong times (and I say "wrong" not because I am a strict schedule-keeper but rather because my mother chooses to make naptime whenever she feels like it, which usually results in me staying up with a hyper, off-schedule baby until 3 a.m. or trying to manange a sleep-deprived crabby child in a crowded grocery store).

Today, though, all I could do was heave a sigh of relief as I watched her put Piper in the (large, dirty, rickety, and ugly) stroller she bought from a yard sale and charge off down the street. I took a sip of my rapidly-cooling coffee and I think I made an audible "ahhh" noise. Because let me tell you, that kid has worn out her welcome with me today.

Truthfully, I have been short-tempered and crabby with Piper for a couple of days now, and feeling pretty guilty about it. She has been crazed for days, not sleeping, throwing food and toys around, scratching and biting me, unpacking every single box I pack, unfolding every piece of laundry, toppling every stack of books, shredding and eating papers, and generally being a pain in the ass. I have not been responding well. A couple of times this week I have almost-yelled "StopstopSTOP! Let go!" when she was climbing all over me, pawing at my shirt and pinching me because she wanted to nurse; I shrieked "GODDAMMIT!" when the combination of baby using me for a jungle gym + cats trying to eat my food caused me to drop red pizza sauce on my parents' cream-colored carpet yesterday; Thursday night I grumbled "would you fucking go to SLEEP already?!" at her because she'd been alternately gnawing on my nipples, shrieking, smacking me in the face, and climbing all over the bed for an hour and a half. I have picked her up and plopped her down with a little more haste than actually necessary to avoid her eating cat food, crawling through a puddle of red pizza sauce, or tumbling down the stairs. Last night I was trying to do up the last 3 of the approximately 574 snaps on one of her footie sleepers and she wouldn't sit still, instead finding it more fun to try and roll over, stick her finger in the nearby cat litter, and shriek at me when I wouldn't let her eat toilet paper. After 10 minutes of this, I was so frustrated, I yelled "For fuck's sake, Piper! SIT STILL!!" Then she started to cry, and I didn't feel nearly as bad as I should have.

Last night, she slept in 40-minute stretches from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., then got up and refused to go back to sleep until almost 4 a.m., and even then to get her to conk out I had to put her in my bed and nurse her to sleep, which meant laying uncomfortably propped in the bed while she chewed my nipples for 35 minutes. She woke a couple times after that, pawing me and yowling in my ear to indicate she wanted to nurse. When the alarm went off at 8:45 this morning so we could get up and go to storytime at the library, she screamed like it was the end of the world and was clearly not interested in getting out of bed. So I dozed off, thinking that we'd sleep until 11:00 or so. Nope. Ryan called at 9:45 and after that she was up. I tried to settle her back down, hoping for even fifteen more minutes of rest, but instead she stuck her fingers in my eyes, grabbed my lower lip and yanked it, then amused herself by trying to stick her fingers up my nose. When I gave her a stuffed toy and turned over so she couldn't get at my face anymore, she threw the toy off the bed and started yanking on my hair.

So I got dressed and stumbled downstairs with her, and while I was making myself a pot of coffee, she crawled around on the kitchen floor slamming drawers, eating lint, and terrorizing the cats. The coffee had not even finished brewing before I noticed a telltale stain spreading over the back of her pajama pants. I cleaned her up, dropped the mega-poop diaper in the outside trash, and put her (white) pajama pants to soak in a bucket of Oxy-Clean water. Then I put her into the Exersaucer and went to feed the cats & clean their boxes. I was downstairs for less than six minutes, but during that time she managed to coax the noisy Exersaucer talking book toy into sounding like it was dying. I don't know what she was doing, pushing too many buttons at once or leaning on them hard or something, but that sucker was freaking out. She also decided she wanted out of the Exersaucer and started to screech at top volume, competing with the noise of the toy she was harassing. I came back upstairs and freed her, only to have her scream at me when I tried offering Cheerios and chunks of banana. I tried chunks of apple and she spit them at me. I put her down and she immediately yanked all the books off the lowest shelf of the living room bookcase. Throughout all of this, she was making the dissatisfied moan-whine that rears its head when she's overtired. It was nearly ceaseless, and nothing I did managed to stop her from making it. I almost got her to take a nap, but as soon as she fell asleep the cats started a ruckus and that was the end of that.

By noon, I was pretty much done. I felt like a pressure-cooker, a volcano. If this were our own house, I would probably give myself a break and stick her in her crib for a while, crying be damned, and go make a pie or read a book or organize a closet or lay on the couch with a blanket and watch Entourage. This is not, however, our house, and there is always somebody around (usually my mother) to rush in and go "what's wrong? why is she crying? what happened?" when I try to let the baby wear herself out. I feel pressure to keep her from crying at all, because my mom will try to pry her from my arms (no, seriously) all the while repeating, "Oh, she just wants her Grandma, that's why she's crying." Meanwhile, an overtired Piper will continue to scream even as her grandma "soothes" her. My stress level is through the roof because of all this; it's no wonder I can't seem to unkink my neck and my face keeps breaking out.

However, today it was nice to have some actual help, instead of just interference.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Amazing/Crazy Thrift-Store Sweater

Isn't this thing just NUTS? I had to buy it. It's huge, it won't fit her at all for at least a year (probably two) and even then she'll swim in it. Aaaaaand I'll have to pack it and lug it from here to North Carolina to God-knows-where-else until then. But look at the thing! There's half a zoo on there. The colors are bright enough to burn your retinas out. It's some seriously crazy 80's fashion.

It is so worth dragging around. I think the only bad thing about it is that they did not have one in my size.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


1. Our house passed muster, with only a few tiny things that will need looking after (missing piece of siding, hairline crack in cement slab,etc). We are now sitting around twiddling our thumbs while the finance people hash their shit out. They have given us a preliminary closing date of March 28th, which seems a very long away but is really like three weeks. I am trying to figure out how we're going to get all of our shit down to North Carolina, plus me, the baby, and the cats. It is probably going to cost us another thousand dollars to move our stuff again. We have no furniture except a couch and the baby's crib, just a small storage unit worth of boxes and lamps and totes and what-have-you. I can't imagnine the astronomical cost had we decided to hang on to everything.

2. Our former apartment complex in California has continued their pattern of shadiness by sending us to collections for $230 of fees that they assesed after we left and then never told us about. I have been trading phone calls with the collections agency (for some reason I can't seem to get the guy in charge of our case on the phone...hmmm) and wishing a pox upon the managment company and staff, since nobody could return our phone calls this summer when we asked for our copy of the move-out invoice and, oh, yeah, where is that hefty security deposit we paid? Also, their timing is both faaaabulous and suspicious - being sent to collections is precisely what we needed when we are knee-deep in applying for a mortgate.

3. I have been trying to spend as much time as possible out of the house when my mother is home, because I really can't stand her anymore. Problem is, when left unsupervised, she tends to get into my stuff and rearrange, throw away, move, or destroy things. And then denies it. I find my stuff rooms away from where I left it, or in the trash, or completely not where it belongs, and when I ask her about it she just starts screeching "I DIDN'T DO IT! WHY DO YOU YOU ALWAYS ACCUSE ME?! I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING I NEVER DO ANYTHING I NEVER DO ANYTHING NEVER EVER!!!" I grit my teeth so much these days I'm going to need some serious dental work done after the move.

4. I have to find some affordable health insurance for Piper & myself, because my husband's new job does not offer automatic coverage to families, and the plans available to buy are crappy and start at $500 a month. Max's coverage is no cost to us, which is helpful, but I can't believe they don't cover families! One of the plans I looked at charged an additional fee for pregnancy coverage - either you pay extra every month, or if (God forbid) I got pregnant, they wouldn't cover it. Who the hell ever heard of health insurance not covering pregnancy?! I don't know what we're going to do - I guess we've just been spoiled by our other jobs in healthcare & education, where the coverage was great and cheap/free. My mind boggles at paying $750 a month in premiums and still shelling out a $25 copay per office visit.

5. I hate living here more than I can describe, and that is not helping the homesickness that now permeates every moment of my day. I've decided California is like an abusive boyfriend: when you're with him and it's good, it's really good, and when it's bad it's damaging and possibly life-threatening. When you're away from him, you start to forget all the bad stuff and miss him. And so you go back time after time and get the crap kicked out of you. A couple of weeks ago, I told Max "I feel like Jack - 'we have to go back, Kate! We never should have left!' because that's what I want to do. I want to go back and do everything right, not make the mistakes we made last time." I am posessed by this, I am burning up with it. Every day I wake up and hope that I will find myself back in our old apartment, with a chance to reclaim everything this move has taken from us. It's been hard not only on our pocketbook, but also on our marriage and our burgeoning parenthood. I long for sunshine, I ache to be near the Pacific Ocean again, and most of all I want to be away from here.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I don't even like dogs, I'm just that lazy.

Sometimes, I think we need a dog.

It doesn't happen very often, and the urge only lasts about ten seconds, but sometimes I think it would be okay to give in to my husband's wishes that we become a dog-owning family.

Now, I'm sure you're thinking "Mother of God, woman, you have nine cats. What the hell would posess you to get a dog?!"

Rice. Rice makes me think we should get a dog.

Or, more accurately spilled rice. These are the times when a dog is necessary, times like today, when I was making some fresh hot rice to go with my leftover Thai carryout from last week (mmmm, week-old leftovers, lunch of the Supermom) and somewhere, between the baby howling (she'd just woken up from a nap on the living-room floor and oh my God that means I've been tricked into sleeping again and that is the worst fate imaginable) and the cats winding themselves through my legs and begging while I was cooking, I managed to dump a sizeable scoop of steaming-hot Basmati rice onto the kitchen floor.

Fritz, the cat who had been foremost in leg-winding and begging while I was cooking the rice, rushed over to peruse the bounty. He tried some, but quickly gave up when he realized that it was plain rice and I was eating a delicious plate of drunken chicken with my rice, which meat that he was entiteld to some delicious drunken chicken too. And then the baby scooted in and began eyeing my food (she loves spicy things, and chicken is her favorite food, so I was pretty much had). So I spent ten minutes shooing the cat away, giving bites of food to the baby, and, once in a while, taking a bite myself. I felt like I was in some sort of Ultimate Fighting Champion cage match just to eat my lunch.

After all that, I had to go back into the kitchen and clean up the rice. Of course that shit's not coming up with a sponge, rag, or mop. I crouched down, picking up the individiual grains of rice and trying to shake them off my fingers into the trash can.

"A dog would so eat this shit," I muttered to myself. I looked over and noticed stray Cheerios, bits of dried apple, and chunks of cracker on the floor under the high chair. "And that."

But then one of the cats jumped into the trash can and tried to drag out the two-day-old chicken bones that were in there, and I decided that perhaps I don't need more pets. I think what would really get the rice off my kitchen floor is a week-long vacation in Maui.