Wednesday, July 30, 2008

First Night

We made it to the rental house. Later than planned, but we're here.

Just about everything is still in boxes. It's uncomfortably hot as the AC tries to recover from months of vacancy and open doors in the midday heat. The phone isn't on yet, the cable is out, and the water pressure is pitiful. The walls and floors still echo.

All the stuff from the condo, the stuff housed temporarily at Aunt Bob's, and the stuff from both storage units made it here too. It's the first time in months all of our things have been together under one roof.

I'm surrounded by my family and my belongings in the place we will live for the next several months. But all I want to do is go home.

Aunt Bob Rocks and Has Awesome Shoes

Aunt Bob also has wifi.

The kids and I had a wonderful sleepover at Aunt Bob's. Lumpyhead and Lula slept all night, and now Lula is napping. Lumpyhead is parked in front of SuperWhy, which Aunt Bob recorded for him. She also cooked us breakfast sausages before leaving for work.

Bump's experience has been less enchanting. He packed all night and has not slept. The movers are there and he is not done packing the kitchen. Nana just went over to help him finish. Bump has to spend the day directing movers as they collect items from four different locations and then make sure they get it all in the right spot at the rental house. I predict he starts seeing imaginary ants on his arms around 1:30pm.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Last Night

I slept in our condo for the last time. This afternoon the kids and I will head over to Aunt Bob's so Bump can finish packing in peace - well, maybe not peace but at least he can make as much noise as he likes - and we'll spend the day at Aunt Bob's tomorrow while the movers do their thing.

We've lived here for 12 years. It was raining on the day we moved in. We had two incomes and no kids and played golf on the weekends and drank lots of beer.

I'm attached to this place because of the memories we made here, not because there's anything so spectacular about the condo itself, I suppose. But it has served us well. The second bedroom went from a game room to a guest room to a nursery to Lumpyhead and Lula's room.

This new place is only temporary, so it's hard to feel excited. I expect we will find a permanent house in a few months (when we can undertake this whole moving bullshit all over again) and I'll feel differently about the next move.

Temporary. Will we love this new house? What will we hate about it? Will it be just a blip in my family's collective memory, or will "The House Baby 3 Came Home To" be remembered fondly even after we move on?

Monday, July 28, 2008

This Week's Schedule, Brought to You by the Letters OMFG

Today: Pack
Tomorrow: Pack, Nana arrives
Wednesday: Move
Thursday: OB appointment, unpack, Bump's mom arrives
Friday: Unpack
Saturday: Unpack
Sunday: Have baby

Sounds reasonable, doesn't it?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

NOT What We Were Expecting

Today we signed a lease and picked up keys to the rental house.

Our experience with the new landlords has been positive thus far, save the head-shaking wonder with which we watch their realtors flail about. While I hesitate to call the realtors "bumbling incompetents," let's just say that working with them has really made me appreciate our realtor and her ability to get things right on the first try.

For example, the realtors emailed us a copy of the lease that had been faxed too often to be legible. We asked for a better copy, so we could at least make out the name of our new landlord and the address to which we should send a rent check. The realtors re-sent the same document, just as fuzzy as the first time.

After we explained that we wouldn't sign something we couldn't read, one of the realtors suggested we meet at the house. We could sign a less-faxed version of the lease and pick up the keys. She wanted to meet in an hour and a half. We changed our lunch plans and herded the kids out the door.

Maybe I'm being overly critical here, but if you were meeting someone to sign a lease, wouldn't you make sure to bring, oh I don't know - THE LEASE? Because that's what I would do. Maybe that's just me, because this realtor brought several copies of a document that was NOT the lease.

She decided to run to the closest office and print out the correct document. The realtor returned 40 minutes later - with the lease this time! - except it was the same illegible lease we had been emailed. Twice.

This was yesterday. After 45 minutes on my feet in an echoing house with two screaming children and no lunch, I was fried. Bump worked out today's solution with Brilliance the Realtor while I sat on a forlorn coffee table the owners hadn't moved yet and yelled at Lumpyhead to STOP SLAMMING THAT DOOR. That one, too.

This morning we left the tormentors with Aunt Bob and went back to the house. We were greeted by two men: the Richard and James listed on the lease. Bump was expecting a father and son, maybe brothers. I was expecting a couple - I had guessed "Richard," but maybe "Janie" or "Joan" or "Joyce" on the illegible lease - but certainly neither Bump nor I ever imagined our landlords would be younger than us.

They're brothers who bought the house in 2003. One got married and moved out a few years ago, and the other had been living in the house with roommates until his girlfriend demanded they move closer to the city (and I'm guessing away from roommates). It's a great house for a family, and I can see how it would work as a group house, but it's not right for a couple starting out.

Bump, Aunt Bob, Scrubly and I lived in a house not unlike this one many years ago. I wonder if this house has seen the same drinking games and poker nights and beer pong as that house on Quincy Street. While there's an extra fridge in the basement - a beer fridge if I ever saw one - I don't think this basement has seen same the spilled beer and drunken drool that it would have had we lived there right out of college. These boys seem a little too responsible. (It is my theory that if you are a new graduate who can buy a house with your brother, find tenants to help pay the rent, and maintain or even improve the property over the course of several years; you're not drinking as much beer as we did.)

I regret that we cannot show this house how much fun the childless versions of ourselves could have had in it. While I expect Aunt Bob and Pete will come over for beer, pizza, poker and wii bowling; we'll be checking the baby monitor while we demand Aunt Bob finish her beer for throwing a strike. Even if Scrubly can take a weekend away from his job as a corporate lawyer in New York and come see us with his beautiful wife and two children, I bet he won't get drunk and pour water on his own head or tackle a recliner.

Instead this house will hear the echoing laughter of overtired children who slam doors and chase each other in circles until they fall down. Maybe this house prefers that.

Oh, weirdness alert: when we told Aunt Bob the address, the first thing she said was "We almost bought a house on that street." It's not a very long street. In fact, the timing is right, so Aunt Bob and Pete may have made an offer on THIS VERY HOUSE five years ago.

That's almost creepy.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


We've been asked recently - on more than one occasion - if Lumpyhead and Lula are twins. It happens when it's not obvious that Lumpyhead is a head taller than Lula - like when one is being carried or they're both sitting down. Because Lula's head is gigantic and Lumpyhead is so skinny his arms are the same circumference as his sister's, I can understand the confusion. And if you can't hear that Lumpyhead speaks in full sentences and Lula only has a few intelligible words, or you don't notice that Lula is still a BABY for heaven's sake. . .
um, right. Fine. They might look like twins.

But then, doesn't everyone wearing Small Paul pajamas look alike?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Big A, Little A, What the - Why You Gotta Be Like That?

Hey, any idea how to convince my son that this letter:
is the same as this letter:
Because I've tried, and he just ain't buying it. He calls the second example "g" and looks at me like I'm nuts when I try to tell him it's an A.

We already messed with his status quo by introducing lowercase letters to him when he was perfectly happy with capitals. Now we're trying to tell him that the above two shapes are the same letter.

I'm expecting him to throw up his hands in frustration and tell us we can keep this "literacy" bullshit, he doesn't need it.

Maybe we should just move on to math. Or coloring.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

They're Reading Your Blog. Yes, Yours.

They were about to leave a snarky comment,
but that blasted word verification foils them every time.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Not Guilty by Reason of Rental Disease or Defect

When we went to see the rental house, the woman who posted the Craigslist ad couldn't be there. "Just go in the back door," she told me. This gave me some pause. She was going to leave her back door unlocked? For complete strangers who answered an ad on the internet? What if we stole all her electronics and silver?

We had spoken a couple of times on the phone. Mrs. Butterfield talked a LOT. She warned me about the mess; she was not expecting anyone on such short notice, and she was sure her twins had not made their beds. She said I had a nice voice, and she could tell a lot from people's voices. This prompted Bump to immediately label her a nut. The whole unlocked door thing only confirmed his suspicions.

We drove to the house at the end of a cul-de-sac, in a neighborhood where we couldn't afford to buy. The backyard was huge, with an old but sturdy little swingset and lots of mature shade trees. The back door was flanked by potted plants and opened onto a small kitchen. There on the stove was half a frozen pizza, burnt to a crisp. "These," I said to myself, "are my people."

The house was small, with only one bathroom on the upper level. But the circumstances were ideal - we could rent short term and move out whenever we needed to.

Bump and I went back a couple of days later, to talk with Mrs. Butterfield in person and see the house one more time. We brought the tormentors, who spent the entire visit running in the backyard and playing on the swingset. She was a lovely woman - who talked nonstop - a teacher who was hoping to take a leave of absence. She was looking to sublet for the month of August while she went overseas, then things got a little murky. Her leave had not yet been approved, but she thought she would hear in a couple of days. Even if it wasn't approved, she assured us, she had a place to stay in the area, so we could live in the house as long as we needed. She would talk to her landlord and realtor, and should have firm answers in a couple of days. "If this is meant to be, it is meant to be," she told me. "I have a good feeling about you." Bump managed not to roll his eyes.

So we waited.

There were several points of nagging concern, despite how darn nice Mrs. Butterfield was. There was the whole "Bump thinks she's crazy" aspect. He didn't think she was a knife-wielding psychopath, just a little flaky. We started calling her Mrs. Nutterfield.

Then there was the odd fact the Mrs. Nutterfield wasn't the owner of the house, but a tenant. A tenant who didn't have a lease. Her landlord lived in Arizona somewhere, and Bump and I got the distinct impression we would be paying much more in rent than she was - with the extra amount split between Mrs. Nutterfield and her absentee landlord.

The whole sublet thing seemed like an awful lot of trouble to avoid paying one month of rent, but I guess if you're turning a profit from it, it makes a bit more sense. A family of police officers lived next door, which meant a cop car was parked semipermanently out front. Mrs. Nutterfield said she had never locked her house or car as long as she'd lived there. Mrs. Nutterfield loved the neighborhood and the house, and didn't want to risk losing it over the one month she wasn't going to be there.

Most of the points of weirdness could be explained away, but we were still . . . uneasy. How do you sublet from a woman with no lease? What protection did we have - other than the word of a nice but possibly crazy lady - from being thrown out after one month? Why did they have DirecTV but only one 13" television?

We waited for a few more days, then decided to secure a backup plan that didn't involve long-term squatting at Aunt Bob's or a tent. I started combing Craigslist regular rentals, asking owners if they would consider less-than-year-long leases. When Mrs. Nutterfield called to check back in - with no real news other than her landlord and realtor were talking things over and she thought we were an adorable family - we decided not to tell her we were looking for other options.

Out of an original list over 20 places long, one owner was willing to offer a two-month lease, month-to-month thereafter. We would pay $200 more than the listed monthly rent for the convenience.

Bump went to see the place and came back convinced it was a better option. It had three bathrooms, two on the main level, so we wouldn't have to race up stairs with Lumpyhead when he announced he needed to use the potty. It had a nice yard and a screened porch and an open floor plan. It had five bedrooms; we would even have a room for guests. Most importantly, it had a lease and a rental application and a real estate agent from a reputable company.

With the short-term premium, it was $90 more per month than Mrs. Nutterfield's house.

We filled out the application and paid a deposit. All that was left to do was break the news to nice Mrs. Nutterfield. I went over some possibilities in my head, eventually settling on lying to her. I would tell her some friends were renting their place (which is actually true, unfortunately we wouldn't fit in their 2BR 1BA townhouse), and we felt obligated to take it.

Before I could work up the nerve to call her, she phoned the next day. She said had terrible news; her landlord was not willing to sublet.

We move in less than two weeks.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Illustrating the Point

One of the side effects of letting Lumpyhead watch Monsters, Inc all the time, in addition to the underpants thing, is that he is constantly slamming doors. Often while reciting lines from the movie.

We're always yelling at him to knock it off, because OH MY GOD STOP SLAMMING THAT DOOR ALREADY, but also because we are certain he is going to smash Lula's hand at some point. She follows him around like a puppy, and has gotten trapped alone in rooms as a result of all the door action. We've put the child-proof doorknob covers back on most of the doors to stop all the slamming and protect Lula's fingers.

So imagine my embarrassment - and horror - when I shut the bathroom door this morning, firmly pinching the baby's fingers. She's fine now, although there was much howling immediately following the incident and I spent a lot of time wondering how you could tell if an 18-month-old's fingers were broken. Maybe I wouldn't have this problem if I slammed every door shut like Lumpyhead.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Verbal Reprimand

A couple of weeks ago Lumpyhead was trying to kill himself by climbing the 4' high rail of his bed. My repeated requests for him to stop trying to kill himself were roundly ignored.

I finally shouted. "Lumpyhead. GET! DOWN!"

Lumpyhead stopped and looked at me, one leg high in the air. "Mama," he said sternly, "you are being very loud."


I raised my voice at my son, and he scolded me for it.


Last night, Lumpyhead asked for some crackers. I couldn't find them, so I stood on a chair to look in a different location.

"Mama!" he said sharply, "Get. DOWN."

I meekly obeyed. What else could I do?

That kid can get his own damn crackers from now on.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Phase 1: Collect Underpants. Phase 3: Profit.

For a stay-home dad who has spent the last three years immersed in bodily fluids, Bump is remarkably squeamish about the thought of being peed on. Or cleaning up pee. Or pee being anywhere but a bladder or a diaper or a toilet.

I'm not saying I'm a big fan of misplaced urine (Gidge's post has an Ew Factor that I still can't shake) (Bump, for the love of god, do NOT click that link!) but I can't say I'm afraid of a little pee. It's mostly water. It's not radioactive.

Bump's discomfort has become relevant because we've moved past the stage of "appropriate" and into the stage of "high time" for Lumpyhead to be toilet trained. Lumpyhead seems to understand the process, and is certainly physically ready to be trained. Problem is, diapers and even the "cool-feel" pull-ups don't provide the sensation Lumpyhead needs to reliably use the potty. He needs to be in underwear.

My problems are two-fold. First, see above regarding Bump not being all that excited about puddles in the living room. Originally there was the "new carpet" and "on the market" excuse to not let Lumpyhead pee on the floor. Now there's the "decent thing to do" reason for not saddling the new owner with recently laid urine-scented carpet. My suggestion of covering the floor with a layer of newspaper was met with the withering reaction it probably deserved.

Second, Lumpyhead has requested Monsters, Inc. underpants. Mr. Bile underpants, specifically. Mr. Bile - his friends call him Phlegm - would be the first monster in the movie, who fails miserably at scaring the trainee child. I can't find Monsters, Inc. underpants, period. I'm fairly certain that if there is a company out there making Monsters, Inc. underpants, Mr. Bile is not among the featured characters.

I'm going to have to buy plain underwear and iron on pirated screen captures of Mr. Bile, aren't I? You may remember how well my last iron-on experience went (see pictures 6 and 7).

Lumpyhead's second request, after Bump told him we probably couldn't find Mr. Bile underpants, was for Mr. Waternoose underpants. Sigh.

No one's making those, either, Buddy. I think your father wants you to wait and pee on the floor of the rental house anyway. When I'll be home to clean it up.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rental Retardation

After a few fast-paced days last week of looking wildly about for a rental that might suit our needs and not cost a bazillion dollars, things have slowed down a bit. We're waiting for confirmation about a 3 bedroom, 1 bath house with a lovely backyard and a flexible move-out date. We hope to move in on August 1.

I feel like I should be doing something, but I'm not sure what it is.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Us in SC

Photo courtesy of Aunt Bob's Uncle Herb. Not that he's a professional or anything, he snapped this with my camera, I just liked typing "Aunt Bob's Uncle Herb."

(And yes, I'm standing on a step. Bump is on the ground. Shut up.)

Dress courtesy of the fabulous Xiobhan. When I complained that I didn't have anything to wear, she stepped up and lent me this. Nice of her, huh?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

More on Bedrest

As awesome as bedrest sounds, it's really not as cool as one might think. Although I'm starting to feel like a prisoner, most of the time I feel crappy enough that the bedrest doesn't bother me. I remember being really miserable for the last month of my prior pregnancies; it's sort of nice to have the doctor's excuse to be lazy.

I'm really regretting that staging the condo meant getting rid of the bedroom television though.

Bedrest is a lot like watching your family on reality TV - or maybe listening to them on reality radio, if there was such a thing. I hear the daily goings-on of the house, things I would miss if I were at work. The entertaining little incidents not notable enough for Bump to report at the end of the day.

Like when Bump answered the phone and Lumpyhead immediately began running around the house yelling "I wanna hock a loogie! I wanna hock a loogie." I don't know who Bump was talking to, or how the other party interpreted the rumpus. Also, I'm pretty sure Lumpyhead doesn't know what a loogie is, and has no idea how to go about hocking one.

While the noise is often entertaining, sometimes it's difficult not to get out of bed and step in. For example, when you hear "I'm putting things in the toilet!" but the response "Do NOT put things in the toilet" comes from too far away. It tests one's will, really.

But every once in awhile I get little visitors who drink my water and jump on the bed. They giggle and tell me stories and put their heads down on the pillow next to me to pretend sleep. They crawl all over me and shove knees and elbows into their little brother until their father comes in and shoos them away.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Every time I start a post it becomes some rambling diatribe on how much bedrest sucks or how I'm trying not to panic about our housing situation.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.


Condo sold.
Offer on new place didn't work out.

The closing date and our move-out deadline is fast approaching. I thought we had a brilliant short-term rental option lined up, but Bump is worried the place is not workable for us.

So here's our status: we need to move - probably twice - into places yet to be determined.

Then there's the small matter of another baby arriving soon-ish. I can't fill out the hospital pre-registration form because I'm not sure what our address will be. I'm contracting every once in awhile and really grumpy. Everything just kind of hurts.

Well, that was a real downer. Here's a picture of the tormentors in South Carolina.

Friday, July 04, 2008

I Survived a 16-Hour Road Trip with Two Kids and All I Got Was This Lousy Tee Shirt

Wait, I didn't even get a tee shirt. Don't I deserve a medal or something? Maybe a parade? [Turns on tv] Oh, hey, look! A parade!

Phase 1, Southbound trip
Keys to Survival: nighttime and a DVD player.

We left Thursday evening, stopping at a hotel along the way, and finished the drive on Friday. The tormentors slept less in the car than we had hoped, but settled down pretty easily once we got to the hotel. On Friday morning, with the words "Abracadabra" and a flourish, I revealed to Lumpyhead that the van had a DVD player.
He looked pretty much like this for the next four hours.

I've heard there are parents who still travel without portable DVD players. (It's true. There are also women who give birth without epidurals.) Live and let live and all that, but you people are CRAY. Zee. Really. Nuts. I'm making little "doodeley doodeley" noises and drawing circles in the air around my temples.

Phase 2, Hotel stay
Keys to Survival: sensible setup and an awesome babysitter
I originally booked a single king room using the wedding block, out of habit, I think. (Which: no. That would have been bad. Very, very bad.) After a minute-and-a-half of thought, I realized once the kids were asleep a single king room would become a prison. Aunt Bob recommended a hotel that had 2-bedroom suites, which turned out to be perfect. There was a little kitchen, where we could store milk and juice and cut grapes in half, and an in-unit washer and dryer. It was quite affordable, too, probably because the interior decor could use some serious updating. It's funny how parenthood changes your sensibilities. There was a time when Bump and I would have sniffed "It's clean, but this place is kind of a dump." Instead we were both like "AWESOME! Our kids can't ruin this place."

A Magical Babysitter Fairy - someone who should be showered with good luck and free booze for the rest of his or her natural life - sent us a babysitter for the rehearsal dinner and wedding. While the bride was pretty clear about welcoming little ones at all events, Bump and I knew we wouldn't enjoy ourselves if the tormentors were there. The babysitter we were sent is a college student working two jobs this summer - at the children's museum and as a part-time nanny. A nanny. Who also works at the children's museum.

I think I managed not to squeal when she told me that.

Oh, and the college she attends? GW. That would be The George Washington University, located in Washington, DC. She'll be local in the fall. And no, you can't have her number. She's MINE!



Phase 3, Northbound trip
Keys to Survival: DVD player and an energy-draining rest stop

The drive back was more daunting, with naps as our only respite from and for the tormentors. Massive use of the "Abracadabra" featured heavily in our plan. Lula was whiny, which we attributed to being tired but unable to sleep, so we gave Lumpyhead a headset and suddenly his sweet ride became even awesomer. The DVD player has headphones with an independent rear entertainment system. Bump played one of his own CDs in the front. Lula fell asleep.

And then I kissed our new minivan. With tongue.

Around Richmond, we decided to try to find a playground or place for the tormentors to run a little bit. Using highway signs and a little luck, we headed for the children's museum. By time we got there, the place was closed. But the museum next door had a large courtyard and an outdoor water sculpture and other children. The tormentors squealed and got soaked and had a great time. We changed them into dry clothes - we had a set at the ready in case we needed to overnight at a hotel again - and got back into the car.

After enduring the typical shitty traffic around DC, we were home. Rocking the bedrest for real.