This is me...

This is me...
I'm having a mom moment....

Friday, September 28, 2012

Waiting For Change

Tuesday, I started writing a post about parental responsibility.  It is going to be a great post when I finish it, but as usually happens with me, life interrupted and now I have a different story to tell first.

Tuesday my youngest goes to preschool, and after I picked him up we came home and I got him a snack of yogurt and pretzels while I went all ADD on the house while making my lunch -- started unloading the dishwasher because I needed a plate for my sandwich, then stopped halfway through to get the clothes out of the dryer and put the wet clothes in from the washer, went to throw away the lint from the dryer and grabbed some chips from the pantry, went upstairs to get some more laundry and remembered I was still hungry, went back to the kitchen to make my sandwich only to start unloading the dishwasher again -- you get the idea.  My youngest was sitting at the table eating his snack as I was running around all crazy, when all of a sudden he started coughing and gagging.  I knew that he was "okay" because he was coughing, crying, and breathing, but I still went into mom-panic-mode and scooped him up and slapped his back, and made him drink all in an attempt to wash down the pretzel stuck in his throat.  He was scared and he said that it was still in his throat, I assumed that the pretzel had scratched his throat and just kept making him drink. 

I finally got him calmed down, and my sandwich abandoned, I was cuddling with him on the couch.  I asked him if he was okay as I stroked his hair and kissed his forehead and he looked at me and said:
"Swallowing that penny was scary."
Well of course I FREAKED OUT because I thought that he had been choking on a pretzel.   I probably could have gotten it out when he first started choking and gagging, but silly me, I wrongfully assumed that he was choking on the food that I gave him to eat and not some random object he'd found on the table.  I thought that at 4, we were past the point of putting money in our mouths. 

So I called the doctor, who sent us for X-rays to confirm that it was a penny, that it wasn't lodged anywhere, and to determine best course of action based on that information.  The penny was there, and thanks in large part to my pushing fluids after it first happened, it was in his stomach.  We were told to go home and wait and watch for it to pass.  Call if there was any pain or vomiting, or if there was no sign of the penny by Friday.  In case you've never had the pleasure of dealing with a swallowed foreign object, that meant that I got to catch and go through poop until I found a penny.  My life is so glamorous.

Tuesday -- No poop.
Wednesday -- No poop.
Thursday -- Still no poop, so I called the doctor who asked if this was "normal" for him (and I honestly don't know.  I mean, I haven't closely monitored his poop since he's been out of diapers).  In any case, they instructed us to give a laxative and extended the timeline to Saturday.

Finally, this morning, we had a little poop, but no penny.  Conversations with my little piggy bank revealed that swallowing the penny had hurt so much that he was now deathly afraid to poop because he thought it would hurt again.  We had tried in vane to dispel this fear, but the 4 year old was having none of it, until he finally pooped today.  Now he believes us that it isn't going to hurt, but still no penny.

So the downstairs toilet remains wrapped in Saran Wrap to catch the elusive penny and unavailable to everyone but him, and my box of latex gloves is on the counter.  And I will spend my day trying to catch up on housework and asking the 4 year old every 30 minutes or so if he needs to poop so that I can play with it until I find the penny. 


Just waiting for change.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

From 'ARRRRR!' to 'Awwwww'

I wish that I had some profound post in store for you tonight, but I don't.  What I do have is an awesome little story about something I witnessed today.

Today is "Talk Like A Pirate Day" and to celebrate the occasion Krispy Kreme Doughnuts was giving away a single free doughnut to anyone who came in and spoke like a pirate, and a free dozen doughnuts if you donned a full pirate costume.  Fearing that my town's single Krispy Kreme would become a complete madhouse after all the public schools got out, I headed over with the youngest right after preschool.  He wanted to dress up, but I explained that buying a $15-20 pirate costume (or more) in order to get a "free" $6.99 box of doughnuts did not make sense.  Knowing that I could only get a free doughnut for me and him, I planned to go ahead and buy a dozen (which is why Krispy Kreme does such a promotion).  So after we got there and got our free doughnut and paid for our other doughnuts, we sat down to eat them (partly because the youngest was getting an extra doughnut and partly because you simply do not take a 4 year old to Krispy Kreme for a free doughnut and then tell him it's for later). 

We watched as the people would come in to get their free doughnuts.  There were lots people dressed normally but speaking pirate to get their free doughnut, quite a few families with little kids in various costumes, and a few adults in full on costume.  I sat and watched as the workers judged whether or not the costumes were "complete."  They turned down a man who had tied a bandanna on his head, an eye patch, and a plastic hook in his hand because it wasn't a "full" costume, and after several full costumes did walk in, I agreed with them.  I was enjoying the people watching. 

But there were 2 that really caught my attention. 

The first, had the entire store doubled over in laughter.  At first glance, these two women were nothing spectacular -- one in costume and one in plain clothes.  Then, as they got closer to the front of the line, I realized that it wasn't just a pirate costume.  It was a guy, dressed like a girl pirate.  After some debate, the workers gave him TWO dozen doughnuts. 

The second, was more of a "I see what you did there" moment.  There is a military base in town so it was not unusual to see a group of 4 servicemen come into Krispy Kreme.  There was one guy though who was wearing black fatigue pants instead of the urban camos of the others.  When they showed up, it was basically me and my youngest in the store with all of the workers.   They all walked in and up to the counter and one of his buddy's spoke spoke to the cashier.  This is basically what transpired:
Buddy:  "Don't freak out, okay?"
Krispy Kreme Lady #1:  "What? Why would I freak out?"
Black Fatigue Guy: (Yells something, full of anger, in another language and slams his hands on the counter)

His buddies all laugh and my youngest jumps and then asks me what's wrong with that man
Krispy Kreme Lady #1: "What was THAT?!"
Black Fatigue Guy:  "Somali"
Krispy Kreme Lady #1: "Somawho??"
Buddy: "See, he's a linguist specialist.  He speaks Somali and other languages.  So he's a 'Somalian Pirate.'  So he's in costume, and he spoke like a 'pirate.' Can he have his free dozen?"
Krispy Kreme Lady #1:  "Uh-huh....hang on a minute."
Although in poor taste, I snorted.  The ladies behind the counter conferred with one another.  Finally, one of them came to the counter.  She was an older woman.  I think she worked at this Krispy Kreme back in 1979 when my kindergarten class came on a field trip to watch them make the doughnuts.  She had a look on her face that said this poor soldier was about to face a lecture the likes of which they don't allow in the army because they consider it too extreme.  One of the other ladies looked at me and my son watching all of this unfold and she winked.
Krispy Kreme Lady #2: "Son, are you from around here?"
Black Fatigue Guy: "No ma'am, upstate New York, ma'am."
Krispy Kreme Lady #2: "You married?"
Black Fatigue Guy:  "No ma'am."
Krispy Kreme Lady #2:  "You ever wanna get married?"
Black Fatigue Guy:  "Yes ma'am."
Krispy Kreme Lady #2:  "I'm gonna give you a piece of advice: Don't you ever -- I mean never, ever, in a million years -- talk to a woman the way you just talked to us.  Especially not a woman down here.  Do you understand what I'm saying to you son?"
Black Fatigue Guy: (a little sheepishly) "Yes ma'am."
Krispy Kreme Lady #2:  "Cause boy, you in The South. (nods of ascension from the other ladies behind her and a few 'uh-huhs' and 'you know that's right' as well)  Women down here don't care what language you speak.  You talk at them like that, and they'll knock you into the middle of next week and not be sorry about it, you hear me?  I'm gonna give you all a free dozen doughnuts -- not because you so smart comin' in here tryin' to work the system -- but because you boys are soldiers and one dozen doughnuts is not enough for 4 soldiers and I'm afraid your buddies here might try the same trick."
He thanked her, apologized and told her that speaking Somali isn't a skill he gets to use much in his current assignment.  She told him that her grandson was in the Marines and he could eat a dozen doughnuts in about 5 minutes.  You could tell that she was thinking of her grandson as she looked at those boys and it made her proud and sad and happy all at once.  Growing up in a military town, it is a look I have seen many times.  In the end, she hugged all four of them and told them to be safe. 

And they totally made my day by hugging her back twice as hard.

Anyway, that's my Krispie Kreme Pirate Day story.  If y'all hurry, you might be able to make it over there and speak like a pirate to get your free doughnut before they turn out the "Hot Now" sign.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

JJ Abrams, You're Killing Me

There were so many things I was supposed to do today.  I was going to wash the sheets on all of the beds, sweep and mop the downstairs and vacuum the den.  I blew it all off and went to Target for 3 hours instead and its all JJ Abrams's fault.

Sometime around March, ( least I think it was around March.  I mean, I know that The Walking dead had just ended it's season, so I believe that it was March....) my husband, friends, and I were sitting around discussing doomsday scenarios.  We had just watched The Walking Dead season finale, I had read and been to see The Hunger Games, and I had recently been watching a lot of "Doomsday Preppers" -- so I seemed very knowledgeable in this discussion.  We were discussing all of the things that would or could happen if there was doomsday scenario -- loss of power, loss of jobs, the rise of the criminal element, and the loss of the general societal structure that we, as Americans, have become to believe is expected. 

Then my friend said "Yeah, but that wouldn't happen, the government or someone would step in before things got that bad."  Well, that got ME thinking -- what if they couldn't?  What if they wouldn't?

And a story began to form in my head about a family fighting to protect themselves and their neighbors and what might have happened to make such "protections" necessary.

That same week, I began writing.  I was writing a story about the end of the world as we know it.  Kind of a hybrid of the TNT series Falling Skies, The Hunger Games, The Walking Dead and my own ideas.  It took place years after the fall of civilization in the U.S.  There were no longer any utilities -- no power, no water, no internet.  Stores were empty having been looted at the beginning of the end.  Each family had to learn how to make do or do without -- growing their own food, gathering their own supplies, and securing their own safety.  It was told from the point of view of a young girl -- the oldest in her family -- who had been forced to grow up too soon and who survived along with her family, a few close friends, and neighbors in a distant suburb of a metropolitan area.  It was about how the government had been unable or unwilling to stop the events that led to the situation where everyone was now responsible for their own survival.  There were militia that tried to enforce a sort of faux government, numerous gangs of bandits, and a big part of survivng was knowing who to trust and who to fight.

I would have late night sessions where I'd write for hours -- trying to get the dialogue write (my biggest weakness is writing believable dialogue).  I had to stop to referee fights, fold laundry, make dinner, act as chauffeur to my kids, clean up messes, enforce bedtime, and do all of those things that I normally write about here.  I was proud of myself for daring to tackle the task -- writing a novel is hard work and a daunting task that is much different from blogging.  It is also much harder than the 10-15 children's books that I have written (and haven't been able to get published).  It was always in the back of my mind that I hadn't been able to get those stories published so why was I wasting my time on another work of fiction?  But the story was there.  It was in my head and my characters seemed to do stuff whether I wanted them to or not.  I had the main writing on my computer, but I also had notes in my iPhone and on random scraps of paper (even napkins) for when an idea about something that my characters might say, do, or encounter, came to me. (Incidentally, if you can avoid it, don't move cross country while you are working on a novel.  Keeping up with all of the random scraps of paper long enough to transfer them into something electronic just adds to your stress.) 

This story I was writing was aimed toward the teen audience -- I was hoping to send it to publishers and capitalize on some of that Hunger Games success.  It had an underlying warning message that becoming too dependant on anything was dangerous, and that we should appreciate modern conveniences but also learn to survive without them. 

It was an AWESOME story.

I had a little less than 8,000 uneditted words written. 

Then last night, I saw JJ Abrams's new series Revolution on NBC.

I loved it. 

And I wanted to die.


I sat aghast and in awe -- both at the realization that playing out on screen was basically my story (or parts of it anyway) and that it was done better.  (Obviously, JJ Abrams has no problem writing believable dialogue.)  It was like what I had envisioned my story to be after I had finished it, edited it, and gotten professional help with it. 

It was very surreal.

As amazingly awesome as it is that JJ Abrams and I think alike, now all of this progress that I had made on my very first novel was a waste of time.  My slim chances o getting published just fell below zero because it is a story that has already been told now.   My husband, who knew of the work I had done and who wanted to be supportive, suggested that I just "rework it" into something that wasn't the same.  While I appreciated the sentiment, he isn't a writer.  You can't just "rework" it.  It isn't that easy.  Basically the same premise and characters, MY story was now Mr. Abrams's story.  And he told it in HD.  Sigh.

So JJ Abrams, if you (or any of your representatives or staff) are reading this -- you rock.  You have the best ideas.  And I am totally stoked that we had the same idea, because it is a total boost to my confidence that I could have almost the exact same idea as you.  But Revolution was a brutal reminder that there is very little left that is original.  I'll just continue to watch your shows and movies, read, and wait for the next stroke of genius to occur.  Next time, I hope that I can beat you to the punch.  (I would also like to point out that if I had your resources, I TOTALLY could have finished this book and had it published in at least 5 languages before Revolution premiered, but I had to write while being mom to 4 kids, moving cross country, and battling a serious addiction to procrastination).

I originally wrote this to Joss Whedon who had nothing to do with Revolution.  It was Mr. Abrams (along with Eric Kripke) who had this great idea (another couple of geniuses whom I admire).  As one of my Facebook followers pointed out, when we see strong female characters in this genre, we automatically think of Joss Whedon, so that shall be my defense.  So, sorry Mr. Whedon, you are still awesome, but aparently its JJ Abrams and Eric Kripke who ruined my day. (I ruined my geek cred all by myself though....)

So if you wanna know what my book COULD have been, watch Revolution on NBC, Mondays at 9pm Central.
(And I totally stole this picture from NBC -- I hope they don't sue me.)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Explaining Death To My Kids Reminded Me About Life

Death is hard.  It is even harder when you have to explain it to your children and answer their questions about it. 

This past week, my great aunt passed away.  Now, I don't know if it's a Southern thing, but I have found that many people seem to be surprised that my family had a close relationship with my great aunt.  We have close relationships with a LOT of our extended family -- aunts, uncles, cousins, 2nd and 3rd cousins, great aunts and uncles, -- literally everyone.  We have big families, and we know them and love them and are involved in each other's lives.  So when my great aunt passed, we were sad and we made time to travel to her hometown a few hours south for the funeral.  This was the first funeral for my 2 youngest and I wanted them to be as prepared as possible since death is a difficult concept for adults in many cases and they are only 4 and 5.  Also, they have yet to develop that voice in their heads that tells them "Hey, you shouldn't say that out loud because it could offend someone" so I wanted to try to get a little ahead of their possible reactions to hopefully keep them from embarrassing themselves (but mostly me).  The night before the funeral, I sat down with the 2 of them to discuss what would happen the next day and to answer any questions that they might have.  This is that conversation to the best of my recollection:
So you guys know that Aunt Martha died and that we are going to go to her funeral tomorrow, right?


Do you know what a funeral is?

Okay, well I thought I'd talk to you guys about it a little bit so that you'd know what to expect and so that I could answer any questions that you might have, okay?

(Nods of assent from both)

When someone dies, the people that loved them come together to talk about them and their life and to comfort one another because they are sad that they are gone.  It will be at a funeral home, which is a place especially made for funerals.  Aunt Martha's body will be there, and we will be able to see her.  She will be in a coffin which is a box that they will bury her in. 

In the GROUND? 

Yes, they will bury her in the ground after the funeral.  The funeral will be sort of like church -- we will be quiet, listen to people talk about Aunt Martha and about death, and there will be prayers and maybe singing.  It is important that we sit quietly during this part, okay?


When the funeral is over, we'll get in the car and drive to the cemetery.

Like the graveyard?


Will there be ghosts there?


What about zombies? Will there be zombies there?

No, there will not be zombies there.  When we get to the graveside, there will be a few more words spoken, probably a prayer, and then we will leave before they bury her, okay?  Do you guys have any questions?
At this point, I was sort of patting myself on the back.  I thought I had done a pretty good job preparing them without going into unnecessary details that would only confuse them.  I was expecting them to have a few general questions, but nothing major.

Can we watch?

Watch what? 
Watch them bury her. 

It's not proper to do that. 

Because it's just not. 
Where will they bury her?

In the cemetery.

But where?

In the ground.

But where in the ground?

Well, in her hometown.

In the ground, next to her husband, in the cemetery, in her hometown.   
(Shocked) You mean they killed her husband too??!!  
NO!  He died before you were born -- he's been buried a long time. 
Like with the dinosaurs?

 So maybe I gave myself a little too much credit.  Or maybe I gave THEM too much credit.  But in any event, I had talked to them about what to expect and I felt a little better about everything.  After a little bit more discussion about death and how Aunt Martha had lived a long time and that she had died because she was old, etc. we went to bed so that we could head out the next morning.

When we got to my aunt's house the day of the funeral, my fears about the 5 year old's lack of a verbal filter were renewed.
Who lives here?

This is Aunt Martha's house.  
But she died. 
Yes, but this is her house. 
She died because she got really, really old, right? 
Just like you will die someday when you get really old, right mom? 

(Okay, thanks for that brutal reminder about my mortality). 
So we got dressed and went to the funeral home.  All of our family was there (including the 11 grand kids from our side of the family) and the kids seemed to be taking everything in and not freaking out at all.  I did have to stop all of the kids from running and laughing through the funeral home during the visitation -- they were playing some version of hide-n-go-seek.  I sent them outside, problem solved. 

The funeral home that hosted my family is very nice and the set up is good because it is adjacent to the cemetery.  When the funeral was over, we only had to drive through the parking lot and into the pretty large cemetery.  As we were winding through the graveyard, the 4 year old looked out the window at the headstones, puzzled:
Wait....are all of those rocks DEAD PEOPLE?!

(the 5 yr. old) Yep!  All them flowers too!

Sooooo.....will Aunt Martha grow into a rock?  Or a flower?

(the 5 yr. old) No!  They don't plant you.  They put you in the ground and then they put the rocks and flowers on top of you.

So you can't get out and be a zombie?

(the 5 yr. old) Yeah.

 I didn't try to correct any of this.  I was just thankful that this discussion had happened in the car.

In the end, the service was beautiful, my aunt was laid to rest with respect, and my kids made it through their first funeral with no emotional scarring and no embarrassing comments in front of other people.  Funerals are hard matter how old you are, and I am proud of my kids for the way that they behaved.  They may have had an inappropriate comment or conversation, but they lightened my mood with them.  Their curiosity and precociousness throughout the day were a welcomed reminder that life goes on and that we should always ask questions, be silly, and LIVE while we can, the best that we can.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wait....You Mean I'm not as Important As I Thought?

My day has been.....well, weird.

My great aunt passed away on Tuesday night and I have been getting ready to make the 2 1/2 hour drive with the kids tomorrow for her funeral.  Although I am saddened by her passing, she was nearly 85 years old, she had lived a long and wonderful life, and in her own words, she'd "been ready to go for a long time."  I have been a little stressed about the funeral as it will be a first for my 2 youngest, and there will be awkward questions and most likely inappropriate ones.  I'm hoping that they use their inside voices. 

Hmmmm....according to your label, you contain "Miscellaneous Crap."
Having just moved and still battling the cardboard box takeover, I am busy trying to locate things that we will need for the funeral like the oldest boy's dress shoes.  I KNOW he has some, because I bought them for graduation this past Spring, but we just cannot locate them.  We also cannot find any of his jackets, but luckily he hasn't needed them yet.  I am hoping that the shoes are at one of the 3 houses that we were floating in between before we found ours, and NOT with the jackets.  There is also a box somewhere with the girls tights in it....  
Okay.  It's lost then.

In addition to the obvious clothing issues for a woman who wears nothing but T-shirts and yoga pants and her 4 kids who mostly exist in jeans, there was the notifying of the school of the upcoming absences and getting the car ready for the 5 hour round trip drive which included getting the oil changed as well as saying prayers of longevity over the brakes and tires that need to be replaced, (but there just isn't time).  So even if that was all I had to deal with over the past couple of days, it would have been enough. 

But it wasn't.

This morning, I had a meeting at the school about the decorations for the 5th and 6th grade social next month.  Through a strange twist, I am on the decorations committee, the food committee, the set-up committee, and I am down to be a chaperon and event photographer.  Well, the demons of tardiness were upon me this morning from the moment my feet hit the floor.  Kids didn't want to get up, they couldn't find their shoes, the hairbrush is missing, this one left his lunchbox at school (again), and it was all I could do to get them out the door in time to meet the bus.  Then I made coffee, spilled some sugar on the floor, cleaned it up and looked up and it was nearly 7:45.  Crap.  So I rush upstairs to get the youngest up because he is supposed to be at school at 8:30 and my meeting is at 9:00.  I get his clothes laid out for him, thrust an Eggo into his hand and tell him to get dressed and eat while I make myself presentable.  Anytime that I have to wear clothes with actual buttons and zippers, it takes me longer than my usual 7 minutes to get ready because it most likely means that there is makeup involved.  By the time I got everything done to make myself look like an adult, it was 8:30, and we were late.  After a brief argument about putting on the seat belt all by himself, we were on our way.  After dropping him off at preschool, I was all set to make the meeting just in time when a tractor pulled out in front of me.  (Yes, an actual tractor).  I made it to the school 10 minutes late.  I went to the meeting and while we were discussing decorating ideas, my phone was blowing up with email notifications.  One of the ladies asked me if I needed to check it because she thought it might be work related. (I neglected to tell her that I do not work outside the home because she seemed like the type who was a little "judgey" of someone who is "just a stay-at-home-mom").  I had no idea what was going on, but since there was a family funeral tomorrow, I thought it might have been condolences or something.

I was wrong.

Understatement of the year....
After the meeting, I pulled out my phone to find over 250 emails.  I was floored.  I opened the email app and almost immediately saw that they were 99% new comments on my blog and I got super excited thinking that one of my posts had gone viral.  I started speculating about which one it could be while I began opening the messages.  My excitement quickly turned to bitter disappointment.  They were all, every last one of them, SPAM.  Some payday loan company had commented on every.  Single.  Post that I have ever done.  Well, crap.  When I got home, I pulled out the laptop to begin the deletion process both in my email and on my blog, and I discovered a couple of legitimate emails mixed in with the blog notifications.  There were the usual requests for reviews or to plug someone else's blog on mine or on my Facebook page, but I also had an email from one of the fabulous bloggers that I had met in Chicago last January at the Kenmore Blogger's Summit.  I thought "Yay!  I love this lady!  Maybe she has some new blogging opportunity that she want to tell me about!"  Well, I was half right.  She was asking me if I was going to the Kenmore thing next month. 

I got very excited.  I began weeding through those spam emails faster and faster looking for my invite.  Soon though, it became apparent that there was no invite for me.  I checked my junk mail and went back through the trash folder just to make sure, but nope.  I had not been invited.  So with a pang of jealousy, I emailed my friend and let her know that apparently I wasn't coming this time.  To her credit, she seemed as bummed as I was and told me that I should email them and see if there had been a mistake.  That seemed a little needy (although I wished that all of the returning bloggers had sent an email and said "Hey, what about superrpsychomom?" since that is my Twitter handle).  I felt like I was in middle school all over again where every minor snub makes you feel as if the whole school has somehow blacklisted you and you'll never be invited to anything ever again.

(sniff, sniff)

I AM sending an email off to the organizers to let them know that if any of their first round picks are unavailable that I would LOVE to come, but I am not expecting much.  I tried to be very nonchalant about the whole thing:
 "Hey, I heard from one of my bloggidty buddies that you're doing another Summit.  That's cool.  Well, hey, if you have any trouble rounding up enough participants, I guess I could come again.  I had a pretty good time last January and all.  Just let me know if you need me." 

That's the gist of what I sent, but in my head I was actually more like this:
I think I probably looked a lot like this too....

I think that I may not have been exactly what they thought I was when they invited me last year....
I'm pathetic, I know.

So there you have it -- two major blows to my ego in one day.  First I thought that I had finally won the internet, and then I thought that I was going to get another fabulous blogging experience via Kenmore only to be let down.  I guess I am not quite as important as I thought and I may forever be the runner up on the internet.  Oh well, on to other, more pressing where in the heck are that boy's shoes??!

Yes.  Yes it does.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hey, Remember Me?

Things have been a little nuts in the Caballero household for the past month or so.  I haven't had time to even open my laptop and although I have remained semi-active on Facebook, I've done so from my phone which is rather limited on features like sharing and tagging.  My last post here was a serious one and the morning that I posted it was the same day that all of the Chick-fil-A crap hit the fan (and if I had known that all of that was happening, I probably would have waited to post it) and that has caused me a lot of unintended grief as well.  But I am back now and THIS post will have nothing to do with politics, religion, or social rhetoric -- I promise.  This post will be all about the random things that have been happening that have kept me from posting all of the random things in a timely manner...

We finally found a house that we could rent to own and despite all of the promises to help us move into it, we did most of it by ourselves.  (Special thanks to Christy and her kids, the Bruce's, the Johnson's, and my parents who DID help!)  So we got the keys on a Thursday and excitedly came over after dinner only to flip on the kitchen lights and find it covered in roaches.  Now, if you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that if I have one phobia, it is roaches.  These weren't the flying, 2 inch long variety that caused us grief in Texas, but rather the relatively tiny yet still disease infested ones known as German Cockroaches.  To say that I flipped out would be an understatement. 

We had planned to move in that weekend, but instead I spent the next 5 days researching these squatters online and then eradicating them.  After we determined that they were living in the dishwasher, we ripped it out and had the owners replace it.  Having eliminated their nest, I set to work to kill off the stragglers and prevent them from ever returning.  With the help of a good friend who is almost as bug-phobic as I am, I meticulously cleaned every square inch of my kitchen.  I then used expanding foam insulation to fill in every visible crack and crevice around the plumbing.    I emptied about 3 gallons of Ortho Home Defense Max both inside and outside of my house spraying every window, door frame, and baseboard as well as the outside walls from three feet above the ground.  I did spot checks after dark every day.  When we started to see them outside of the kitchen, I determined that we were pushing them into other parts of the house.  So I did what any other partially insane, bug-phobic person would do -- I bought about 10 pounds of boric acid and diatomaceous earth and got to work.  I removed the light switch and outlet covers and dusted inside and behind all of them.  I dusted the entire attic and garage.  I dusted behind and under the stove, dishwasher, and fridge.  Then, because I HATE bugs, I drilled holes in the interior walls between every stud and dusted inside the walls.  It sounds extreme, but after a few days, no more bugs.  Now we could move in.

Throughout the bug elimination, I was able to meet all of our neighbors (since we live at the end of a cul-de-sac, we are literally surrounded by them).  Everyone seemed nice and fairly normal except for one -- my immediate neighbor to the right of my house.  I won't post his name, but we call him "Richard" (for obvious reasons).   Our first encounter went like this:
Hi!  We're your new neighbors!
Are you renting or buying?
Both!  We are renting until --
Did you have a survey done?
Um, well, no.  The owners didn't want to pay for one and the fence was already up, so --
Well your fence is 2 feet onto my property.
Oh.  Well, did you want the owners to move it?
No. I just want you to be aware that YOUR fence is on MY property.
Oh.  Okay.  Well....nice to meet you...

Encounters after that were equally as annoying -- he let us know all of the problems with the Target shopping center behind our house, he nosed his way over to investigate everything that we unloaded into the house (which led to some label changes on a few of the boxes to things like "Bomb Parts -- EXTREMELY FRAGILE" just so that he'd have something to stare at), and then, when he found out that my husband had a motorcycle, he let us know that he had put quiet pipes on his own motorcycle because it was more polite.  My husband said that there is no way that he's putting "quiet pipes" on his Harley.  And sprinkled among all of the nosiness, and judgement was some outright bigotry.  He kept telling us everything that was wrong with our house and why it had not sold before now and pointing out all of the problems that he had had with the owners, (who happen to be Chinese) by referring to them as "those damn Orientals."  I REALLY do not like this man.  So, as soon as we were about halfway moved in, I had my Puerto Rican father-in-law, his business partner, and my brother-in-law, all show up on their respective not-so-quiet Harley's early one Saturday morning and hang out on my front porch for an hour or so.  We haven't seen much of him since that.

All 936 boxes, all of our furniture, pictures, etc. were in the house in just a few days, but I am still trying to get everything put away.  I have almost decided to just live with the last 15 boxes or so though because I don't know where to put the stuff inside them.  After we got everything here, we discovered that the roof has multiple leaks.  Not "Oh look, there's a wet spot on the ceiling" leaks, but "Holy crap get a bucket" leaks.  Since we are still leasing and not buying yet, we contacted the owners.  They said that they would send someone out to look at the roof.  They told us that the roof was new.  Well, it IS new.  The problem is that they hired some fly-by-night guys to do the roof on the cheap and they did it wrong -- like ALL wrong.  They put the new roof over the old roof, which although not "forbidden" it is not a good idea.  Then they just sort of slapped the shingles up there without laying them properly, so we have exposed nails, misaligned shingles and, of course, leaks.  So now we are waiting to see if they are going to fix the roof.  If they don't, then I get to move.  Again.  I REALLY don't want to move again.

We moved into the house about 4 days before school started so I was really scrambling to get the kids registered and get everything lined up for the school year.  The first week, I was driving them to and from school every day.  They had to be on campus no later than 7:35 every morning and they were supposed to be released at 2:40.  After a week of fighting morning traffic and then sitting in the car pick-up line for 30 minutes every afternoon, I agreed to let the ride the bus.  The only downside is that the bus picks them up at 6:45.  In the morning.  I LOATHE early mornings.  I am a nocturnal person.  My ideal school schedule would probably be 10-5.  But, I have been doing okay -- they haven't been tardy or missed the bus.  I don't think that I am going to have any issues with the teachers at the kids new school, but me and the cafeteria ladies may have to go a round or two.  See, my 5 year old daughter started school this year.  I make my kids lunches every day -- they include everything that they need (actually MORE than they need) and yet, I was sent home a stern letter stating that my kindergartner owed the lunchroom some money.  I asked my daughter about it and she said that she really likes their applesauce.  While that totally explained why her fruit cup was coming home unopened every day, I didn't understand how she was getting their applesauce without any money.  She said "Oh, I just tell them the magic number and they let me have it."  Great.  My kid's lunchroom was teaching her a lesson about credit and helping her rack up debt.  In this letter, I was reprimanded for not sending my kid with lunch money, I was told that "Charging is NOT allowed," and I was told to pay the balance promptly.  So I did.  I sent in a check with a little letter of my own explaining that there was absolutely no reason for my daughter to be in the lunch line since I send her lunch in every day.  I pointed out that allowing her to charge items was their fault, not mine, since I am not there when she eats lunch.  And I asked who was watching my kid at lunch that they weren't aware of the fact that she had a more than adequate lunch packed for her.  My husband accused me of picking a fight, but seriously, they started it.

And now you are up to date (more or less) with the shenanigans of the past month.  As soon as we settle back into a somewhat normal (for us) routine, I'll try to post a little more regularly.  I am certain that I will have more Richard stories to share, and hopefully I'll get good news about the roof issues.  In the meantime, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the brief updates.