Thursday, April 24, 2008

Postscript to "Rescue Me!"

By the way, just for the record, today I went to Target and all I bought was a toilet brush and some rubber gloves. So maybe there is hope.... =]

Rescue Me!

For those of you who have been holding your breath since my last update, Dave did eventually take some time off of work to move. One day to be exact. So between Friday March 28th and Saturday the 29th we loaded most of our earthly belongings (besides the furniture we are using to show the house) into our mini-van and took it to the new house. Of course this took about 5 million trips, but we did eventually get all of our stuff either to the new house or at least into the garage of the old house. And thus we took up residence at the new house.

That settled, Dave went back to his normal multi-all-nighter, continuous-conference-call schedule on Monday...which would have been fine, except a) none of the stuff in our new house was out of boxes, and b) our old house still needed to be cleaned out, fixed up and made ready to go on the market. I, of course, being the all-powerful superwoman that I am, decided to deal with this by putting on a movie for the older kids and diligently finding the best moves possible while playing Scrabulous on Facebook. Except we didn't have internet (or even phone) yet, so I had to figure out how to "borrow" the neighbor's wireless first. So yes, I was a bit overwhelmed and yes, I pretty much shut down.

I tried several times taking Camryn and Jackson over to work on the old house while Jared was at school, but this was basically an exercise in complete frustration: as soon as I would get started Jackson would want to nurse or be held and Camryn would start messing things up or whining because there were no toys and she was bored. So I dealt with it the way that any reasonable woman would: I went shopping.

Now this I could easily justify because we needed to sell our house and in order to sell it quickly in a down market, we needed to have it looking its best, right? So obviously, the best use of my time was to find a few things to help "stage" the home and make it look nice. After all, this is an investment in getting our house to sell, and so, obviously, worth whatever petty, small amount of money I might spend on it. Right??? Well, regardless of whether this was the best use of my time and money, it was something that I could do with a baby and preschooler in tow and feel like I was accomplishing something, so this is what I did.

I found some cute piece-of-junk quality furniture and a nice clock and picture at Marshall's to use for showing our 3rd bedroom and was surprised when Dave was not upset and even agreed that the furniture made the room look much better. "But," he added, "will you please stop there?" He reminded me that when you go to buy a new house you need to have some money left over for the house itself, so we at least needed to make an effort to be frugal.

Unfortunately for Dave I went to Target. At Target I found the perfect armchairs to put in our now-empty family room (both Dave and I agreed that while perfect in all matters of comfort, the LoveSac isn't exactly a beautiful piece of furniture). These chairs were on clearance for 1/2 off, making them very reasonable. And to seal the deal, they even matched the LoveSac so we could use them to make a matching set at our new house. While knowing that I was risking Dave's wrath, they were on clearance and I could always return them... so into the cart they went along with some toiletry items and some Sunday pants for Jared.

When Dave came home that night I was a bit nervous, wondering how long I should wait before I broke the news and made my pitch for keeping the chairs. After all, they were an investment, and money spent to help us sell our house is money well-spent. Right??? While I was mentally rehearsing my lines, Dave interrupted my reverie and asked, "Did you go shopping today?" "Um, yes," I answered guiltily, "I went to Target." "What did you get? he queried. "Well, I got hand soap, shampoo, and some cereal," I nonchalantly recited. "Anything, else?" "Well, I did get Sunday pants, a tie and a belt for Jared.... um, and then there was this great deal on some chairs and I really think they would make the family room look way better when we show our house and they really weren't that expensive at all but we can always return them if you don't think they're worth the money, OK?"

Dave didn't say much, but I could tell he was none too happy. We went about our business for a few minutes as I waited for the blow to fall. Finally, Dave spoke: "Karen, I thought we had talked about trying to be frugal? I thought maybe you would at least make a token effort?" [Ouch.] Well, I knew it was coming and here it was. "Well Dave," I said, "I know it's not necessary and if you really don't think they add enough to the house to be worth it, we can totally return them. I haven't even taken them out of the box yet, so if you want me to return them, it won't be a big deal." "Forget about the chairs," he said, getting the slightest bit annoyed with me, "they're probably fine and big expenses will come every so often. That's not the problem. It's the sunday pants that I'm upset about."

I admit that I was completely unprepared for that one. He went on, "Big purchases will have to be made every once in a while, but what really concerns me is how much we spend on little insignificant things here and there all the time. It really adds up." Trying to extricate myself from the bewilderment that temporarily overcame me, I finally came up with a response: "You're absolutely right. It's way to easy to spend way too much just by walking into target and buying 10 random things that cost $5. I definitely need to work on that." After a suitable pause I continued, "On the other hand, it does concern me that Jared has one pair of Sunday pants right now and they are hand-me-downs that are now a size too small." Dave said, "Well, if you've been waiting 3 months to buy Sunday pants and just happened to buy them today, fine, but it's the principle of the point that counts. We just need to cut back and stop spending so much on useless little stuff." "I wholeheartedly agree," I concurred, still bewildered that I had somehow made it out of this conversation without hardly a comment on the armchairs, "and I will definitely make a point to work on that."

Before long I had larger matters than armchairs at hand to demand my concern. While I had made some great strides in making our house more attractively staged, I was making little to none in getting the old house cleaned out and fixed up or the new house unpacked and moved in. Any efforts to clean or fix up with kids resulted in a net downgrade in the condition of the house. Meanwhile, Dave was having one of his worse work weeks on record in terms of hours being gone and I was starting to despair of ever making any progress on either house. It was getting to the point that even Scrabulous did not offer sufficient therapeutic relief from the stress it was causing me.

So at this point, I did what any reasonable woman would do: I called my mother. "Mom, if I get you a plane ticket to Portland will you come and rescue me?" And rescue me she did. Between unpacking my kitchen for me, gently prodding me to unpack my closet and drawers, texturing/painting/cleaning/vacuuming/furniture-set-upping with me, shopping for the perfect towels and plants to stage the house, watching the kids while I ran to Home Depot and about 1/2 a dozen trips to Panda Express in one week, by the time she left I was a new person.

It could not have been better timing for her to come either: the week she was here was crazy for Dave. He did several super-late-nighters followed by 6:00 am emails and conference calls. It got to the point of being ridiculous. On Saturday morning, we decided to take a break and go to brunch at Rose's Deli. We waited patiently for Dave to get off his conference call and finally he told us to go ahead without him and he would meet us there. We waited to be seated, ordered our food and still no Dave. Finally, I called Dave and asked if I should order something for him. Dave finally arrived when mom and I were starting on our omelets. I told him to have some bites of mine while he waited for his blue cheese bacon burger. Dave had been up since 6:00 am and apparently was famished, so he quickly finished off 3/4 of my omelet. His burger finally came and no sooner did he take a few bites than his phone rang and he was outside on another call. When he finally came back in, he took a few bites of his burger and then stopped because he said, strangely enough, he wasn't very hungry. Luckily, I am quite fond of blue cheese bacon burgers.

Since my mom left, I have been learning the ropes of a would-be realtor. Having already finished staging and photographing our home with my mom, I have since listed our house on a flat-fee MLS service, designed and printed fliers, created a web page and online ads, put ads in the paper and craiglist and so on and so forth. Now if only I could be half so successful at getting our house cleaned....


Quote of the Week:

Camryn: "Mommy! Jared won't share his candy with me!"
Jared: "But mom, I EARNED this candy by turning in an assignment at school. It's not like it's candy I bought or someone gave to me. I EARNED it. "
Me: "What assignment did you do?"
Jared:"Oh, I got the smarties for turning in the sign-up sheet for a parent-teacher conference that you signed."
Me: "Oh, so you mean, I earned them by doing an assignment?"
Jared: "No you didn't! It's not like you go to school, mom!"
Me: "Can't you just share them with your sister?"
Jared: (getting emotional) "But mom!!! They're mine. I EARNED them."
Me: "Fine. They are yours so I'm not going to make you share. By the way, Camryn and I made a treat for her today. We made monkey bread."
Jared: "Yummy! I want some!"
Me: "It's Camryn's treat. She can share some if she wants to, but it's hers so I'm not going to make her."
(slight pause)
Jared: "Hey, Camryn! Do you want some of my smarties??"

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bedtime for Jared

Hmmmm.... no more trips to the planetarium? This is a short excerpt from the conversation I had as I attempted to put Jared to bed tonight:

Me: "Climb in bed, Jared. Time to put your head on the pillow. Light's out."
Jared: "Mom, I hope I don't have any bad dreams again like last night's dream about the scary fish."
Me: "I hope not. Good night, Jared."
Jared: "Well, mom... do you know what I'm most scared of?"
Me: "What Jared?"
Jared: "A comet hitting earth."
Me: "Well that's not very likely."
J: "But what if it happened?"
M: "Well, scientists would see it coming and stop it."
J: "Oh, you're right. They would just make a spinner thing to stop it. Or they could do a gravity thing. But do you know what the best thing to do would be?"
M: "What Jared?"
J: "A laser circle around the earth that would blow anything up that came near it. And then space ships could have a special thing so they could get out."
M: "Good night Jared. Have a good sleep."
J: "Well, mom, does dad come home at night?"
M: "Yes, he does."
J: "Then why don't I see him?"
M: "Because he comes home really late after you're asleep. "
J: "Yeah, I get to see him on days that are days off or on Saturdays."
M: "I'll tell dad you want to see him some more. Good night Jared. I love you."
J: "Well mom, when does summer start?"
M: "In June. That's two months away."
J: "Well, I'm having a summer camp and it starts in May."
M: "Then it would be a spring camp. You'd have to make sure it wasn't on a school day."
J: "It would be on a Saturday. It will be the day after the day after Camryn's birthday. And we're going to have a cake shaped like a leaf or a tree and lots of activities.
M: "Good night Jared. I'll see you in the morning when the sun comes up."
J: "Well mom, do you know the only thing that is specialer than summer camp?"
M: "No, Jared. What?"
J: "Christmas camp. Then you hang stockings and decorate gingerbread cookies."
M: "Good night, Jared. I love you. Have a good sleep."
J: "Well, mom, you should stop eating so much food. Your stomach is getting big."
M: "Jared, when you have a baby your stomach gets really big and it takes a while for it to get small again."
J: "Mom, I wish you had twins-- then we could have a boy and a girl."
M: "That would be fun."
J: "What if you had triplets? Then what if you had to feed three babies at the same time?"
M: "That would be a lot of work. Good night, Jared!"
J: "Wait! You forgot my prayers."
(Jared says his prayers)
M: "Good night, Jared. Have a good sleep."
J: "Well, mom..."
M: "GOOD NIGHT! I love you." (As I close the door)