May 3, 2015: What a Couple of Weeks!

We’re baaaaack!!! It has been insane around here for a couple of weeks! I’ve written several blog posts today, so I’ll try to keep this one short, and I’ll provide links to the others for you.

Last week, when I didn’t post, it was because we were in the throes of fixing up the new house and getting the rental packed up. Wow. So…much…work! And so much fun! Honestly, I was pretty sick of painting by the end of it, but there’s something so satisfying about watching your hard work unfold. Speaking of hard work, Chris’s giant work project has been very busy lately, so I handled most of the new-house renovations. Chris would come home from a full day of work and pack, pack, pack at the old house—he definitely did the lion’s share of the packing. The new house didn’t really have much light in it, so the renovations had to be done during the day—which is why I did most of them. But when the painting got to the point that I just wanted to throw the paintbrush out the nearest window, Chris did take over and do several hours of edging work for me. (I needed my mom there! She loves doing the edge work! I hate doing the edge work. Thank god Chris was there to take over when I was ready to shriek!)

Also, I was grading student finals and submitting grades. So my days were a whirlwind of grading, meeting contractors and workmen, painting…and managing to get the boys to and from school and fed and bathed. And then Sam got sick for a few days (double ear infection), which slowed down my progress because I couldn’t bring him along to the new house. When the floors were pulled out, he managed to fall into a floor vent. Thankfully, he’s much bigger than a floor vent and there was no harm done, but really…I couldn’t get anything done with him around.

We finished packing last weekend, and the floors were done by Saturday evening. So we spent some time Sunday moving stuff over, and then the movers arrived to do the big furniture on Monday morning. We slept in the new house, amidst the chaos, on Monday night. However, Sam’s crib had suffered some issues and couldn’t be reassembled for several days, so we had to improvise. Lesson learned: Sam is not ready for a toddler bed yet. Thank god for spare Pack-n-Plays!

Tuesday we had to take the day off from moving/unpacking because we had Sam’s long-awaited mediation with the school district! The details are confidential, but I can tell you that we reached a mutually agreeable resolution, and Sam will be able to continue at his mainstream preschool. He will also be able to restart speech therapy, as soon as I can get that lined up. I have to say, this was a very amicable process. Although we obviously disagreed with the school district’s offer of placement for Sam (or we wouldn’t have gone to mediation!), at no point did I ever feel like the district felt that Sam couldn’t succeed in a mainstream placement or that they felt he was incapable of keeping up with his peers. Really, it seemed to be more a matter of the district just not having anything appropriate to offer. So the resolution was amicable and peaceful, and we are very happy with the result.

Chris had been able to take Monday and Tuesday off of work (thank god!), but he had to go back into the office Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for all-day meetings. That left me to unpack and work on my speech for the Gala for Giving. (Click here to read about that.) That would’ve been enough, but I also had to finish moving stuff out of the old house and clean it before Thursday night, when we had to turn the keys back over to the landlords.

That was the sticky part of the move. The move itself and the new house all went smoothly. The finishing up the rental house…well, that’s not going quite so smoothly. Chris ended up spending several nights in a row working until midnight on cleaning it, and I’d clean during the day. That meant Chris was getting up for work at 5:20am, commuting into the office (on transit, thank heavens), working for an entire day, commuting home, and heading straight over to the old house to clean until midnight. I was essentially a single mom in a chaotic new house with no food and boxes everywhere. I would spend my days cleaning at the rental house, then pick up the boys from school and parent them until bedtime, then spend hours unpacking boxes while I waited for Chris to come home. We would fall into bed after midnight and get up at 5:20 the next morning to start it all over again.

In case you are thinking the rental house must’ve been a disaster to require that much cleaning, I assure you that it wasn’t. And it’s positively sparkling now that we’re done. (As we sat outside the last evening, waiting to return the keys to the landlord, a passerby commented that she had never seen such a clean garage in her life, and that you could probably eat off the floor. Indeed. Thank you to my very hardworking husband for scrubbing the darn thing by hand.)  We’re having a difference of opinion with the landlords on who is responsible for certain items, but I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to resolve that without requiring mediation or small-claims court. I’ve had enough mediation for the week. 😉

By the time Saturday rolled around, we were so ready for a break, and thankfully we got it because we were offered a chance to attend Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area’s annual Gala for Giving. What a fun event! It was a Hollywood/glamour theme, and it was super fun to dress up for the night and hang out with grownups! And they debuted the short film that we participated in—I think the final product turned out really lovely! Click here to see it…

So that we didn’t bother Grandma Kathy and Papa (our babysitters) by busting into the house at midnight, we stayed overnight at a hotel. What a treat!

Big thanks to my good friend Amber for helping me pick out a dress! The dress I ended up with is nothing that I ever would’ve thought would flatter me at all, but I was very happy with it. I’ve gained a lot of weight in the past year, which doesn’t thrill me, but I felt like the dress looked as nice as anything would on my not-so-fit body. Chris did a double-take, so I think that’s a good thing. 😉

There’s just a small gallery in this post, but if you click here for my “before and after” post for the house, you’ll see a ton of pictures of the work we’ve done on the house.

Before I wrap up, I have to say how absolutely delighted we are with the house. It’s such a work in progress—we’re constantly finding more things to address. Most recently, we learned that the iron fence at the back of our property is our responsibility (we had hoped it was the HOA’s, since it is on the property line with the golf course), and it’s in very poor repair and will cost $1,700 to rebuild. But there’s something so satisfying about putting money into something that’s yours. $1,700 doesn’t seem like such a bitter pill to swallow when it’s part of our lovely backyard. I’m finding that pruning and clearing in the backyard is excellent “therapy” for me—whenever I can sneak in 20 minutes outside, I go out there and trim branches and bushes, and it just gives me such a sense of peace and accomplishment. And at night, the frogs sing a chorus as I take the dogs out in back to do their business. It’s really lovely! (The frogs…not so much the dogs pottying.)

When I’ve moved into other places, it has always taken me a while to feel at home. But with this house, it felt like ours from the moment we moved in. I think that’s because we put so much work into it right away, and it looked like an entirely different house by the time we moved in. We have had the chance to put our stamp on it from day one, which is just a really wonderful, satisfying feeling.

And our neighbors seem terrific! Many have stopped us outside to introduce themselves and offer help. Our local garbage company kept messing up on delivering our recycle bin, and I had to go door-to-door asking to “share” recycling space as our cardboard piled up. Everyone was so wonderfully friendly and happy to help! The woman next door has already invited us over to see her backyard and her newly redone bathrooms. The woman two doors down has invited the boys out to the farm she owns east of here, to pick fruit and have a picnic, and she’s offered to help us eradicate any rats if they return. (They seem to be gone, but you never know.) The guys who live next door (and share a driveway with us) have been unbelievably patient about backing their trucks out around our van and our workmen’s vans as we’ve been pulled up to the house to unload stuff. And countless other people have gone out of their way to welcome us to the neighborhood and take the time to meet the boys.

I think we’re going to be very, very happy here. We already are. 🙂

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