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Anything you want, you got it ... but not really

New house - Sam's room (4)
So this is kind of funny, in a pathetic way. Suddenly I think I understand how moms get all crazy caught up in the Cabbage Patch/Elmo frenzy at Christmas time. Chevy Chase said it best playing the role of Emmett Fitz-Hume in Spies like Us: "we mock what we don't understand."

After the first three houses we made offers on didn't work out, we were weary of showing Sam any more until we knew for sure it was going to be our next home. In my heart I knew as soon as we saw The One that it was The One but, just in case, we waited until after the ink dried on all the paperwork before introducing it to him.

As we got to the top of the stairs I heard Matt, without warning me, tell Sam that he could pick any room he wanted. Really?

Sam looked around for a minute and instead of picking the room I already had pictured for him, he went for the room with the "Mater" truck in it. No problem. I figured I'd just grab another one of those trucks next time I was in town and have it waiting for him in the room I had originally chosen for him.

One small problem. I had no idea this particular toy was crazy expensive. It was $150 new. Yes, $150. We just bought a new house on the promise that I would do a million things differently to cut our budget to make the new mortgage work - I mean near-exclusive use of cloth diapers, no store-bought salad dressing or cable for a year folks. There is no room in the new budget for $150 toy.

But he really wants it. Matt assures me he won't remember it. But I know he will based on our conversation that morning: "I move to new house. I get Mater truck." So I searched Ebay and found it new, in the box, for $50. Also not in the budget but so, so much more reasonable than the original sticker tag.  I lost sight of the fact that it's still a $50 toy and the thing doesn't double even double as a vacuum . Luckily Matt came home and talked me back to my senses just as I was starting to engage in an Ebay war over it.

I trust there's enough to love about our new house that he'll get over the disappointment of not having the truck!

And the winner is ... me?!

Sorry to be all braggy but I feel like I share enough of my professional and personal angst with you so I trust you won't be offended that I'm sharing this awesome news with you, friends.

 My friend Starla from the paper called me the other day to say she had something to drop by for me, another thing to pack, she teased. And then she came over with this: SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists) FIRST place award for my column. {click if you want to read more about it}. The News-Register rocked in general and I am thankful to my editors for submitting my work for consideration as I wouldn't have thought of it, nor would I have dreamed it would get that kind of response. I always figured ya'll were being super nice.

What I'm really proud of - and excited about - is that I've truly managed keeping my foot in the door career-wise in the margins of mothering these two rad little dudes of mine. It makes me hopeful that I really will be able to continue growing my career alongside them.

Grandmaster Flash at the turntable

I'm sure the tickle in my throat is just a reminder to keep laughing as I make my way through this adventure of moving. Surely it has nothing to do with the crap care I'm giving myself while I take care of two sick kids and the details of dealing with utilities, insurance companies and packing as well as -- and this is the biggest challenge -- the normal things like meals, laundry ... life. I say that's the hardest part because while "normal" isn't quite the word I'd use for how we roll, there was a rhythm to our life here and lately it feels like Grandmaster Flash is the DJ here, scratching in the background.

This morning, for instance, after a night of "Sophie's Choice, light" where I went back and forth between the boys' deciding who was more "deserving" of our one humidifier, it was looking like my odds for getting a little blissful morning sleep were pretty good. Just a quick diaper change for Jake and we'd be off to sleep, sweet, sleep. Instead Jake peed all over me, himself, the bed and my one clean towel scoring points in distance, gravity defiance and timing.

'Round here

This time next week we'll be living in our new house. It takes my breath away to write that. One week. Partly it freaks me out because that means someone has to pack all the rest of this crap up before then and also because ... we're moving in one week. There are goodbyes to say, things to do for the last time, and lots of details to wrap up. Maybe this won't be the week I make Jake's birth announcements.

Since I'm up most of the night, it's hard to say if I'd be this sentimental about the whole thing if I had a wee bit more sleep but as it is, at 2 a.m. I started bawling when it hit me that we really are moving. For real. Even though I'm so excited about so much of this next part of our journey, living in Carlton ... our life here, the people we've met and befriended, the place we moved to as a young married couple and are leaving as parents ... well, there's a lot to be sentimental about ... if you're the type. And, of course, I am that type. Plus, I'm a Pisces, so there's that.

Life, I think, is about being able to have a picnic under any circumstances ... today we were set to walk to the park, Sam on his trike, to have a picnic. I got us all packed and dressed and just as we were heading up the street ... more rain. We were going to brave it but it just kept coming down harder and harder and we realized this was not a good idea. Sam, happy to be out of the house with our full attention wasn't into turning around until I convinced him we could have a special picnic in the living room. So we did. And we talked with him some more about the move. He was quiet as he took it all in. Occasionally he said: "Ah. Yes. Our neeeeeeeeeeeew house." But we have no idea which house he's thinking of because there've been a few he's seen and called that since January. It was a strange feeling to talk with him about what he'd like about the new house and what some of his feelings might be. It was one of those times where we look at each other and trip out on the fact that we're the parents here.

The view from here today ... my printer is set up on a folding chair. Drafts of my column are scattered around my desk and I can't staple or paper clip them together because I packed all of my office supplies today. All 3 staplers and all 84,000 paper clips. for inspiration, there's a bouquet of mint from Matt tucked in a recycled applesauce jar, yep - packed the vases too.

Good news ... I got an email saying I got a first place SPJ award for my column but that's all I know so far.

This site made me laugh this weekend: Shit my Kids Ruined and this one inspired me Refurbiture  - be sure to check out her before and afters. To see her work in person, stop by the Saturday Market in McMinnville.

May's column

Taking a little break from packing because I'm getting down to stuff I either a) need in the next 9 days or -- more often -- b) stuff I don't know what to do with ...

Meanwhile I remembered this morning, I have a deadline looming. Which reminded me I've missed working. The boys slept for an hour at the same time this morning from 6:30 to 7:30 so I worked a little bit and sent out two proposals. I got a "yes" back on one of them by 10! Which is really, really nice because this packing without seeming end is getting discouraging.

Speaking of remembering ... I didn't post my article for May yet:

School Brings Lessons for Mom

I guess it wasn't the barrettes

Moving in 9 days!

So you can imagine how things are going around here. Mini-anxiety attacks aside, things are going pretty smoothly. Though, I've adjusted my expectations of "smoothly."

It helps to be blessed with awesome people in my life who help in all kinds of ways from advising me on the basics of avoiding meltdowns (once you've taken on too much, get through it as healthfully as possible), or who call to remind me that this is temporary and soon(ish) things will calm down -- and also that I've been through much, much worse, or, those who recruit helpers and organize the logistics of moving day before I've even written it down on my personal punch list.

Thank you to friends and folks I've yet to meet who send encouragement via phone and online and to friends nearby who roll up their sleeves and help. Amy and the girls came over yesterday to get some more packing done - the second wave, I'm calling it. You can't let just anyone come help you do this kind of thing because you don't want the whole world knowing there are parts of your house you haven't actually dusted since the day you moved in (sorry, Mom) or that you really do keep ridiculous things. For instance:

Amy suggested we actually make a goal to get one entire room packed as opposed to the "box here and there" approach I'd been applying while working around the boys and life in general. So we were in the downstairs bathroom and she was helping me sort some things.

Amy: What about this?

Me: Keep.

Amy: What about this?

Me: Keep.

Amy: What about this?

Me: Keep

Amy: Did you know you have four things of deoderant?

Me: Yeah (no, I did not know that but as she pointed out, I don't have to buy any for awhile now).

Amy: Where are you going to put all this stuff? She makes a good point. We're going from 3 bathrooms to 1.

Me: Okay, you can toss that. A plastic, yellow butterfly barrette from 1983.

Amy: What about this? A hair band with clips.

Me: Keep

Amy: Really?

Me: It's cute, I'll show you I start to put it in my hair

Amy: This is how you get distracted. How about this?

Me: Ohh, I had that in my hair when I met Matt. Glittery, bright blue butterfly barrettes ... the look on her face suggested Matt did not ask me out because of the hair clips. I let her toss them.

Before she left we had that whole bathroom boxed up and packed save a few things we'll use for the week.

Today, our goal is to tackle the kitchen.

Testing, testing ... 1,2,3

Dear God ... not to be bossy but enough with the testing already!

I have had ample opportunity in the last few weeks to decide what kind of person I want to be under stress. It turns out I'm able to take a lotwhile keeping up a good attitude with the help of good friends, awesome kids and the right partner in love and life. Also with spoonfuls of Nutella. This.Must.Stop. But we'll discuss that later.

Thank you to all of you who listened to me vent and helped me find solutions, even the obvious ones like: make a pile, start at the top. Keep going.

In summary:

 - We finally closed on our house as of late Friday afternoon! It was stressful up to the last second so by the time we got the good news it took awhile to get over the negative aspects but we have and are back to feeling super stoked! So the details leading up the final moments of the transaction ranked high in creating the perfect storm for my first panic attack in ages. On Friday morning I had the kids in and out of the car 4 times with different instructions on whether or not I had to get to the bank to get additional funds for the transaction to close.

- I found out that despite hours  of time on the phone verifying coverage and services Kaiser will not be covering the kids' well-baby checks and immunizations. Having been told that it WAS covered, I feel this is fraud but don't have the money, time or skills to fight the insurance company. Worse, this means parting ways with our favorite pediatrician, the fabulous Dr. K and the amazing Angie - the mere thought of this makes me cry.

- The aforementioned insurance company is denying a few other claims that I was ASSURED were covered, several times by several people. Again, I've done my due diligence and am on the hook for services received. On the upside, my anxiety meds, should I decide to turn to them, will be covered at a reduced rate if I find a new Kaiser doctor.

- I got notice I'll be fined up to $5,000 for not filling out a stupid form for city council because I threw it away thinking I was resigning in time. (This situation has been worked out after several phone calls and emails).

- I got a letter in the mail stating we'd been victims of identity fraud. (After many phone calls this situation doesn't appear to be as bad as it could be and I'm thankful for that.)

There are a few more, but I'm trying to stop dwelling and move ahead with things. It really was clear to me how much the boys learn by watching us and luckily the only expression Sam learned this week was: "That's unacceptable."

Shifting expectations

DSC_0303 DSC_0349

Matt and I ran away from home for a couple days. Which is to say we took a road trip to Walla Walla to return his parents' truck - because they graciously loaned it to us with a trailer so we can load our things up and stop tripping on ... everything.

This also means I took my first five-hour road trip with the kids - alone. We can file that under "what was I thinking?" Which, by the way, is turning into a bulging file ... moving at this particular time is also tucked in there. 

We had a good time visiting with everyone, Sam loved playing with his cousins and Jake enjoyed being put down twice in 4 days.  

Mother's Day wasn't exactly what I had in mind but I'm learning to be more flexible with my expectations. My special day started with me wandering around WalMart in Walla Walla at 5 a.m. looking for a snot sucker and some saline for Jake in hopes of that being the reason he slept for 23 minutes the night before. I also bought myself a couple pairs of pants I liked in a size I don't, but that's a story for another day. My sister-in-law made up for the less-than-super start of the day by taking me to the scrapbook store.

With all the driving, visiting and not sleeping I nearly forgot about what was going on back home ... until I opened the front door and was greeted by piles of boxes, empty and full. And a message that the move-in date we thought we had is now a problem. Again, a story for another day. But soon, friends ... soon.

Directional {and other} challenges

Welcome to Carlton I've been posting my notes on the house hunt and moving in the "Adventures and Travels" category because to me it seems like one of the biggest adventures of all - moving to a whole new place and starting over. 

I've moved enough times to know the drill. {Tacoma→University PlaceGig Harbor→Bellingham→Olalla→Gig Harbor→Back to BellinghamMcMinnville→Garibaldi→Rockaway Beach→Carlton}. And of course, within some of those places I moved a few times, especially in college.

I know that moving means all new people, but you get to take the friendships you made with you, even if you lose the proximity and convenience of those relationships.

Carlton is one of the best places I've lived. The sign on the way into town says "Carlton - a great little town." And it really, really is.

I remember when we first moved here, I was driving to the post office and I passed my friend and real estate broker on the road. He called to say hello and asked where I was off to. "The post office," I answered as I drove down Highway 47.

"Uh...not that way." It took awhile for me to figure my way around town, not that Carlton is so big but more that I get a little turned around and don't retain directional details.

Once I was driving with a friend to a new scrapbook store in Portland and as she was driving I called the store for more specific directions. I listened for awhile before hanging up.

"So?" Christine asked.

"Oh, I don't know, I tuned out when she started with the norths and easts ..."


Tantrum, posted

On the outside I've been handling the stress of this whole moving nonsense just fine. But I think I'm going to totally unleash on the next person who advises me to move in a way that works for them and their life without considering what their cliched advice might sound like to, say, me the one who is moving. Right now. With the baby and the toddler and the dirty dog and messy husband ... and the bronchitis that won't quit.

When people kindly suggest I don't pack and move something I haven't used in a year, I want to scream at them. It was not my choice to have everything in storage for TWO years. "If you didn't need it for two years, you don't need it now." Usually said smugly as if to prove their point. But the thing is, I did need some of it. I did want some of it. And now that I have it back ... I'm moving it. Besides, in keeping with that advice, am I supposed to only move maternity and post-baby clothes? Because that's what I've been wearing since I've been pregnant twice in the last three years. Thanks, but I think I'll send that pile to Goodwill and keep some of the clothes I've been dreaming about wearing after I work this baby-weight off.

So, no.  No, I won't sort every damn thing before I pack it. And, no. No I won't donate it to Goodwill if I haven't used it in one, two or even three years. I don't care if that's what the experts say. Moving is in fact, not the best time to get rid of clutter. As far as I'm concerned asking a person like me to really sort through everything and not move it if I don't "love it or use it in x amount of time" is paralyzing. I'd much rather get rid of the stuff I'm obviously done with, say the expired coupons I run across, and wait till we're in the new place and settling in. Then, if I can't find the proper home for something we can talk about letting it go. No, I don't need to go on a reality show to cure this disease ... I just need to get through these next few weeks without taking any more crap about my things and my process, thank you very much.

I feel so much better after my online tantrum. Thanks!