No, as a matter of fact, I did NOT get a good night’s sleep

Today is Peter’s 7th birthday.  He’s the only one up and is already happily putting together his LEGO dump truck, which I bought back in December with some BOGO pre-Christmas sale.

~~~~~~

Midwife said 1-2 cm and thin.  Not at all worth the indignity to obtain that info.  I told my sister I was going to start doing squats, and she told me to wait until after Peter’s birthday.  I’m definitely not walking.  There’s a heat index warning from 11 am until 9 pm.  Our town is doing their fireworks tonight, and I’m trying hard to generate enough enthusiasm to go, despite the heat, the crowds, the walking, etc. 

There’s a board at the midwives that lists “ladies-in-waiting” and their due dates – it goes out about 2 or 3 weeks.  The oldest date posted is poor “Amy” who was due June 21st.  I’m next, with some gaps showing that others have already delivered their bundles of joy.  Once you have your baby, your name gets moved to the other side of the board and they add a pink or blue circle with the baby’s name and weight.  I hope Amy goes soon.  I can wait until tomorrow.

~~~~~~

While I was at the midwife, the owner of the house came through with a realtor to discuss what needed to be done to put the house on the market.  He, the owner, has been saying for months that he planned to have a painter come in and do everything (all the walls are the same beige and all the trim is high-gloss white).  Despite this, Bill had spent the previous week spackling the holes where we hung our pictures (or furniture had caused a dent) and touching up those spots with that flat beige color.  The walls look great.  He hadn’t had a chance to do any touch ups on the trim, but I insisted on two things: first, this is not our walk-through…we’re still here for 2 more weeks, and secondly, the guy said he planned to paint, so he should expect normal wear and tear of 30 months of occupancy.

{insert eye roll here}

According to Bill, the guy touched and commented on every single spot in the woodwork that needed to be painted as if it was proof positive that renting to people who actually spend time in the house was a huge mistake.

Meanwhile, there are still a few things I have not yet deep-cleaned.  One most glaring place is the door frame between the kitchen and dining room.  The trim in the rooms is fine, but the door frame itself is really really gunky.  Disgusting.  That was completely unnoticed.

The owner also seemed upset about a few things I had told him about.  The ceiling in the sunroom is bowing.  It leaks when it rains heavily, too.  Sometimes quite badly.  I’m happy there were only toys out there – no furniture or electronics.  I told him several times, and he sent his buddy out to look.  Since it only leaked with heavy rains, it was not considered a big deal, I guess.  I mean, I only had to move toys and mop the floor a dozen times or so.  But that bowing ceiling: not my problem.

Oh, and the front door he painted black that faces west and gets full sun all afternoon long?  Yeah, I told him the paint was peeling on that, too.  He really should have installed a powder-coat paint finish door from the get-go because you can’t expect any painted surface to survive long in direct sun 24/7/365.

{sigh}  Just hoping we get our deposit back in full.

~~~~~~~

Speaking of deposits, the water company, despite me sending them proof that I had paid a $95 deposit, told me to pound sand, which is mil-speak for “take a long walk off a short dock.”  I may not get that money back, but EVERYBODY will know about it.  If I do get to the town’s Independence Day celebration tonight, I feel bad for anybody who crosses my path wearing a name tag indicating they are in any way connected with the town government.  If you see a very grumpy, very pregnant woman heading in your direction: RUN!

~~~~~~~

And last bit of complaining, I am so thankful that my replacement box spring is slated to be delivered next week, but the timing could not be worse for it to break.  My lower back and hips ache so badly from fighting the black hole in the center of the bed that keeps trying to suck my husband and I in.  I spent the night perched on the edge where it was firmest, no easy trick for a woman approaching 41 weeks of pregnancy.  I think I’ll have Bill put the set on the floor to see if that works better.  Sad to say, but I think an air mattress might be more comfortable at this point.

~~~~~~~

Yesterday somebody asked me if this was my last baby.  She said it with that hopeful, encouraging tone that made me feel the only acceptable answer was, “Oh, yes, I am SO done!!!”  Instead, I pointed out that I’m 41, and that time was running out on my biological clock.  I’m not one to be offended by silly remarks made by people who don’t understand large families, but I find the expectation that I should want to be done very amusing.  First of all, the number of children I raise has zero bearing on this person’s life (why does she care if I’m done or not?), and secondly, I wonder if there is some deficiency in my current children which would make someone encourage me to stop.  I mean, if my children were ugly…or violent…or spoiled, I could see someone begging, on behalf of society, for mercy.  Not that I agree, mind you.

But when you and your husband seem to be producing a bunch of good-looking, decent human beings who give all indications that they will become productive, good citizens…you would think that society would be cheering: MORE! MORE!

No baby, just busy

Thought I’d pop in to say no baby yet.  Important issues going on in the world right now, and I can’t even think about them.  Just so disappointed in my country.

*******

On the baby front, some cute stories.  Mary made a jelly sandwich today – two slices of bread and half a jar of blackberry jam.  She got halfway through and then couldn’t eat any more.  Go figure.  She brought it to me and said that “the baby” needed the rest of the sandwich.  I don’t know where she gets this, since I never say I’m eating for two or any of that nonsense.  I told her I would ask the baby, but she bent down to my stomach and asked for me.  The answer was yes, of course.  I had a bite, but that’s all I could manage.  I like blackberry jam, but there’s a limit.

*******

The nice thing about midwives is how many things that really aren’t necessary become optional, instead of “how things are done.”  With every doctor/group I went to, by week 38 or so, they wanted to check you internally for effacement and dilation.  And since I generally went to 41.8 weeks, I had to endure this procedure 3 or 4 times with the exact same results: about 2 – 3 cm and very very soft, but not effaced.  Always.  I have prodromal labor, which means, for me, that I can feel my cervix efface.  I’ll have contractions that are relatively mild, about 30 minutes apart and lasting 20 to 30 seconds or so – for hours and hours and hours: like 12.  I even did this with my one induction (Katie) where I had pitocin administered and after hours of that was finally effaced fully, but not any more dilated than when I walked in the door.  Once I efface, dilation moves along more rapidly, though.  It’s just the way my body is.

Anyway, with my last pregnancy, I never once had an internal exam before I was in active labor.  It was refreshingly wonderful to have someone tell me that I was 7 cm (and fully effaced).  Last Friday at my appointment, the midwife asked if I wanted an internal exam.  I declined.  I knew, having had very few BH contractions, that there would be nothing to get excited about.

I have another appointment tomorrow, and I told Bill I was debating having an internal exam.  I have been having some BH contractions, and I’m more interested in having this baby soon-ish.  Last week, I wasn’t interested at all.  He asked what the pros/cons were to being checked, secretly wondering if I had bizarre anti-information tendencies.  He believes that knowledge is power, so why would I not want as much data as possible?

“Well, I have to take my clothes off, for one thing,” I explained, “and then I have to have someone stick their finger up inside me to feel my cervix.  That would be the main “con” to being checked.  Would you like to have someone check your prostate weekly?”

And with that perspective, my husband decided that the price of knowledge was certainly worth weighing the benefit and the actual “power” obtained.  I guess I’ll decide tomorrow.

*******

I spent the day on the phone with services and utilities that needed to be turned on/off.  Tedious stuff.  Frustrating, too.  Over 2 years ago, I gave a deposit to the water company here.  They went out of business, and didn’t tell the company that bought them out about that deposit.  I was able to find a copy of my bank statement online with the canceled check marked “dep”, but I don’t have a printer, and don’t want to send an entire month’s bank statement to the water company.  Anybody know how to copy a portion of a pdf file?

Oh, and the cable company which tried very hard to get me to transfer my service to my new address in Florida, told me that I had to turn in their equipment (one tiny little modem) at their office during normal business hours to cancel service.  I could mail the modem, but they don’t recommend that, since it might get lost.  I spent more time on hold with them than any other provider, only to be told I had to do it all in person anyway.  I happily explained that this inconvenience would weigh heavily in my decision to use them at my new home.

And speaking of inconveniences, the boxspring on my newish mattress set broke.  It is covered under warranty, and will be replaced, but I have to go down to the (not-so) local Sears, get a model number (under $250) and call them back with what I want.  Since I spent the morning wrestling the mattress and boxspring to get a photo of the damage and the tag showing the model number, I’m pretty unhappy that they want me to do this legwork.  I shall try calling the store tomorrow to see if this can be done without me making the 35-40 minute drive.

*******

I’m also keeping busy with cleaning.  I’ve done the refrigerator, inside and out.  Most of the woodwork in the house has been scrubbed (by the kids).  I re-strung several of the faux-wood blinds that had frayed (tedious tedious job) and replaced the mechanism that turns the slats open or closed (that was an easy and inexpensive repair).  I’ve polished light fixtures and wiped cabinets.

With no school, minimal possessions, and little desire to stray far from home, it’s amazing how much one can accomplish in a day.

And still manage to take a nap.

Getting Ready

Billy was at camp all last week returning on Saturday morning at 1030 am.  Naturally, this was the absolute most inconvenient time.  A friend’s mother had died, and her funeral began at 10 am.  Bill was a pallbearer, so I sat in the last pew and tried to sneak out of the tiny church just as our pastor began his homily.

I retrieved Billy, took him home, then went back to the church.  Mass had finished, but I was just in time to hear the end of our friend’s eulogy…the part where he thanked his wife for being the best daughter his mother could have (he was an only child).  And no, I still didn’t have any tissues in my purse.

It was difficult, emotionally, to attend a funeral the morning after the change of command.  We did not really know our friend’s mother, but funerals always recall other loved ones who have died.  And watching our friends and their children suffering this loss was rough. 

Afterwards, at a reception in the church hall, a woman came up and introduced herself to me.  She had noticed me leave the Mass and had hoped my water hadn’t broken!  There is no way to unobtrusively leave a small church, especially not when one is enormously pregnant.

Our pastor came up and told us about Bill’s picture being in the paper.  He told us how much he was going to miss us, and insisted that we return, with a higher rank for Bill, saying how the military needed good men to serve.  He made the Sign of the Cross on Bill’s forehead and prayed for him to do well in his future and to hopefully be promoted to General someday.

When he walked away, I turned to Bill and asked, smilingly:

“Was that a blessing or a curse?”

We’ve had a glimpse at life as a General.  It isn’t pretty.

*******

Funny thing about the human mind.  I knew I needed to get through the change of command, and also wanted to get through this funeral.  But beginning Saturday afternoon, it was as if my body decided enough was enough.  “Holy cow, woman,” it said to me, “did you know that you are very very pregnant?”

This has been a blessedly easy pregnancy, except for some minor issues with varicose veins (oh, I should write a post about compression hose…).  I did have a minor bout with insomnia, brought on by pre-move anxiety and solved by some melatonin for 4 or 5 nights in a row.  But insomnia, sciatica, heartburn, headaches…all things I have battled on a weekly or even daily basis with most of my pregnancies at some point have been mere occasional issues, not frequent or routine.  Even just the cumbersomeness of being nine months pregnant and the general aches and pains associated with adding 40 pounds to your midsection were minimal.

But now, my body has decided: it is time to get ready to have a baby.  My lower back aches.  My lower abdomen aches.  My thighs and pelvis ache.  Rolling over in bed or getting out of a chair are suddenly more difficult.  I am walking at a slower pace, sitting and standing gingerly.  Braxton Hicks contractions, barely noticeable a few days ago, are getting stronger, increasing my heart and respiratory rates, and stirring me out of a light sleep.

These are all things I’ve dealt with for weeks before birth, so I don’t expect to deliver today.  But definitely, the time draws near.  I finally washed the baby clothes yesterday, and I’ll probably pack a bag for the birth center today.  I paid the bills, and went to the grocery store.  The kids will be cleaning window blinds today, and I’m almost done with the fridge.

We’re getting there.

Change of Command

Friday morning, I had to get myself and the kids fed, dressed and out the door by 8 am.  This is no small feat on ordinary days, and was additionally challenging since we all needed to actually look nice.  As it was, when I turned to unbuckle Mary from her car seat, I noticed for the first time that she was not wearing her sandals as I instructed her, but rather her silver sequined Hello Kitty sneakers.  With her Easter dress.

At least she had shoes.

At least they weren’t the well-worn but absolute favorite red cowgirl boots.

And they did have sequins.

Bill’s outgoing change of command ceremony was on the same field as his incoming ceremony had been.  Instead of bitter cold, we fought the rising heat and humidity.  I didn’t mind the early hour because of that.

All week long, Bill had been working on his speech.  He had five minutes, but he wanted to say so much.  He wanted to list all the programs and accomplishments that his team had done.  He wanted to thank so many people by name.  The night before, he didn’t come home until 10 pm carrying the last few personal items from his office.  He worked on that speech until midnight…he would set the timer on his watch and then he’d read it to me.  He’d stop and look at the time, and his shoulders would droop in frustration: too long.  He’d try it again.

Twenty-nine months of the most challenging yet most rewarding time of your life are hard to summarize in 300 seconds.

At the end of his speech, he thanked me, of course.  It’s required.  I had strictly enjoined him to not make me cry, and listened carefully to that part.  Aside from being a bit too profuse in describing my rather mundane activities, it was fine.  Not too flowery or sentimental.

After a brief awards ceremony, the battalion formed up on the fake grass, and we took our seats in the shaded stands.  I smiled broadly at my husband, directly opposite me, standing at parade rest at the head of his unit.  And I was thankful for my sunglasses, especially as I mentally kicked myself for forgetting to bring tissues.

He won’t miss this job…except maybe how everybody stood up when he entered a room or that meetings began when he got there.  But he – and I – will miss the people.  There are so many incredible, dedicated, self-sacrificing people in that battalion.  I am honored to have met them.  I know Bill is, too.

The ceremony itself was brief.  The colors – the flag of the battalion – are brought forward and symbolically passed from the Command Sergeant Major to the outgoing Battalion Commander to the Brigade Commander to the incoming Battalion Commander and then back to the Command Sergeant Major.  The Brigade Commander spoke for 5 minutes, then my husband.

Of course, having your husband read a few sentences of thanks to you in your kitchen at midnight is one thing.  My husband tells me that he thinks I’m amazing fairly frequently.  It’s quite another for him to say the same thing in front of several hundred people on an emotional day that you have been looking forward to and counting the hours to for quite some time.  Dang those missing tissues.

Outgoing Commander’s spouses traditionally receive red roses

After the incoming commander’s speech, we sang the Dog Face Soldier Song (worth at least reading the lyrics: “So feed me ammunition, Keep me in the Third Division”) and the Army Song, and then it was over.  The incoming commander headed to a reception elsewhere, while we, the outgoing commander and family, stood on the field for final handshakes and hugs and congratulatory remarks.

They warned us – they being people who had been there and done that.  They talked about what it was like when it was all over.  The line of those wanting to shake your hand dwindles.  A few people linger to get a photo.  A reporter wants a brief word for the next day’s paper.  Several people quietly pack up folding chairs or collect random water bottles or discarded programs.

And then, suddenly, everybody is gone.  Some may have a new boss, or a new boss’s boss.  Others may have said farewell to a co-worker or subordinate.  But their lives are relatively unchanged, and they go back to their work day, the same daily grind.

But you, the commander and family, are on a field in the hot Georgia sun with the American flag snapping smartly on a flagpole high overhead, and you are alone.  Your Blackberry now belongs to someone else.  Nobody needs your signature.  Nobody is vying for your attention.  You don’t even really have a job.

It’s an odd feeling – for both of us.  It’s taking some time to sink in.  As I said to Bill last night: “You now have 7.9 dependents…not 407.9 dependents.”  We still have plenty of transitions coming up, but we’re looking forward to a slower, more peaceful time – at least for the next month.

links:

This one has a video clip

This one was on page 2 of the Savannah Morning News (you have to click the “next” button for Bill’s photo)

I’m hoping for more photos from others, since I took none.  The unit’s Facebook page hasn’t been updated, because my battle buddy – Larry Wooten – who does the page has been sick.

The Story of the Washing Machine

A Tale of Hope, Disappointment, Despair and Redemption

Where would we be without clean laundry?  So many people consider the tasks of running a household to be mundane, unimportant, unworthy of special recognition.  Cooking, cleaning and laundry are not on par with saving lives or establishing diplomatic ties with foreign nations.  I’m sure there are many who think their Really Important Job of making sure all the numbers in Column A sum total to all the numbers in Column B is of greater value than that of the lowly housewife simply because they get paid a whole lot of money for it.

But would you want to have your hair shampooed at a salon by someone wearing the same shirt for the third day in a row?  Or sit in a tiny, cramped, windowless office with someone whose underwear wasn’t fresh?

Getting the laundry done isn’t heroic, until it isn’t done, and then it becomes The Most Important Thing in the Whole World.

Last Wednesday, some man came and turned off my washing machine.  I’ve never moved a front loader before, but I guess there are special things that need to be done.  The truck came and took my washer away on Thursday.  On Friday, I stared at the growing pile of dirty clothes, and had a brief panic attack.

But I quickly calmed down.  I had hope.  I had told my lawn guy and his cousin, my neighbor, that I needed a washer that day.  They had seemed to think they could get me one.  And if not, there was always Craigslist.  They showed up at my house that afternoon to cut the grass, and I asked them.  Yes, they had one in mind.  Yes, they would get it tomorrow, Saturday, and bring it over.  Life seemed so easy.

But they didn’t come.  And they didn’t come on Sunday, either.  I knew they wouldn’t want to bother me on a Sunday or Father’s Day out of respect for my piety and our family time.  I’ve seen them both working on Sundays, so it’s not their own duty to rest that motivates them – but they think I’m up there with the saints, spending my Sunday in peaceful prayer. 

Meanwhile, my laundry pile was quickly moving into the Necessary Servile Work category.

I checked Craigslist.  There were tons of washers listed.  There was my husband, just sitting there, relaxing on Father’s Day, doing nothing much, which was totally fine, except I knew he wouldn’t be able to help much this week with any washer moving.  But I did nothing for fear that I’d end up with two washers come Monday.

Monday morning I had several appointments scheduled, and when I returned around noon, I had a voicemail from my neighbor: the friend’s second cousin’s dog sitter’s washing machine was not $100, but closer to $200, so they didn’t get it for me, being double what I said I wanted to pay.

Alas.  I was disappointed, to put it mildly.

So, I kicked the kids off my computer, turned to Craigslist, and started calling, texting and emailing.  Gone!  Gone!  Gone! 

Then one man: “Well, somebody said they wanted it, but I don’t have the cash in hand yet…”  He was tempting me to buy it out from under them.  I hesitated with this moral dilemma…would I want someone to do that to me?  Of course not.  “What time did you give them until?” I asked.  “Five P.M.” he said.  I told him to call me at 5:01 if they didn’t show, and hung up the phone.  I’m sure he got a call 10 minutes later from someone who was willing to buy it out from under both of us.

Jenny had a swimming lesson at 5:30.  At the pool, I ran into an acquaintance.  “Know anybody selling a washer?” I asked.  She told me about some local yard sale online posting site and promised me she’d check it and let me know if she found anything. 

The first thing I did when I got home was check Craigslist.  Posted at 5:44 pm was a washer and dryer for $100, and the guy would deliver them too!  I called the number, but the guy said he had just sold them.  It was 6:14 pm. 

Forget hotcakes.  Used washers sell on Craigslist like used washers on Craigslist.

I was pretty low that night, despairing that I would ever find a washer.  I resolved to take two loads to the laundromat first thing in the morning to restock our duffle-bags-turned-dresser-drawers and push off the emergency for another day or two.  I also resolved to spend the day glued to the computer refreshing the screen for the latest Craigslist postings.

And so I did.  And nobody posted a washer. 

Brand new Viking gas range for $2500.  Ice cream maker for $10.  Refrigerator, air conditioner. 

No washing machines.

By late morning, I started racking my brain for other options.  I finally decided to call the rent-to-own thieves and see what they could do.  They could deliver a washer the next day, the man told me.  Price for one month: $70.  I decided this wasn’t bad for one month, even though I wouldn’t be able to recoup any costs by re-selling the machine.  If I needed it for two months, the price would be insane.  The man put me on the delivery schedule, but said I needed to come in and sign the contract.  The store is more than 30 minutes from my house, so I decided to take a nap first, lest I spend that drive dangerously bobbing my head.

Good decision.

An hour later, the phone rang.  It was the lady I spoke to at the pool.  A couple was moving…they had a washer and a dryer that they needed to get rid of…they planned to drop them off at Goodwill that day…I could have them for free.

Apparently, they don’t know how quickly washers sell on Craigslist.

I spoke to the owners and then called my neighbor, the one who had so disappointed me the day before.  He has a pickup truck and said he could get them later that afternoon.  The man who owned the appliances could help with the loading.  The unloading would have to wait until Bill came home that night.

When I went to take Jenny to her swim lesson that afternoon, a pickup truck with my “new” washer and dryer was backing into my driveway.  Navigating the vehicle was another neighbor whom I admiringly call (behind his back) the “one-legged snake killer” because of the time my friend had a snake in her garage and she went running down the street looking for help and the only person she could find was this octogenarian who shortly after this episode had his leg amputated due to circulatory issues.  That’s a Real Man, folks: one who will respond to a damsel in distress to slay the serpent while balancing on his one good leg.

“Mr. Van,” I said, because that’s what everybody calls him and I assume it’s his first name, “are you going to carry that washer into my house?”

“Not me,” he laughed.  My newly redeemed neighbor was in the passenger seat.  “We’re waiting for Dennis,” he explained, “and then we’re going to just put them in your garage.”  As I opened the garage door, Dennis showed up.  I didn’t know his name, but he’s another neighbor – probably about 75 years old.  Oh, heavens, I thought, and went in the house to get Fritz.  I had to get going, and I wasn’t sure how helpful a 14 yo would be.  But at least he knows how to call 9-1-1 if somebody has a stroke.

That night, Bill, with some assistance from Fritz, managed to get the washer into the house.  I just watched, because in my condition, it would be completely foolish to lift such a heavy load, so, of course, I just watched while my husband grunted and strained.  The dryer remains in the garage for now.  I have my rack, so it is less urgent.  I certainly wasn’t going to have him carry two heavy appliances in the house on the same night.

The washer works just fine, and is one I have owned before – I think the last one I owned, actually.

Come July 10th or 11th, you will find it for sale on Craigslist.

No news is no news

No, I’ve not had the baby.  No, I’m not in labor.

I realize that silence on this end, normally not noticed or not considered a big deal, is, now that I’m a watched pot that’s been on the stove top for a long time, a possible indication that I’m laboring.  Nope.  Just cleaning the house gradually – not exactly an exciting thing to blog about – and, up until yesterday, obsessing over my lack of a washing machine. 

{The laundromat has enormous washers that fit 2 big loads in one.  They cost SIX BUCKS.  But they take less than 40 minutes.  And if you forget your detergent (forgive me, it’s been over 14 years since I’ve used a laundromat, so I don’t have a routine down), a single package costs 75 cents.  Ouch.}

I know that every baby, every labor and delivery, is different.  But I have never ever ever gone early – not even when I fibbed about my cycle and used a date a week or more later than it actually was. 

At a store recently, a young clerk, a little bitty thing, said that the best way to bring on labor was to walk.  She walked a whole mile and that got things going.

Sheesh.  If that’s all it took…

I have tried just about everything.  Walking (miles and miles and miles), spicy food, a whole bag of peanut butter cup candies, castor oil, sex.  Some of these are obviously more enjoyable than others, so I tried them more often.  If one takes castor oil once, and has no result, there’s little motivation to try try again.

Babies come when babies come.

Again, each pregnancy is different, but six babies all coming late lends statistical credence to the notion that this one, too, will not be here before the due date, which is Monday the 25th.  In fact, based on previous experience, my guess is not before July 1st or 2nd. 

My goal is to have the deep cleaning of the house done by the end of Saturday.  I could push and get it done today – there’s not that much left – but I’ve been taking my time and putting my feet up in between.  No point in killing myself, right?  After that, my calendar is clear.  I’ll start walking and eating peanut butter cups and Mexican food.  Or not.  It won’t make a difference.

Change of Command is in TWO DAYS.  Incoming commander got into town this last weekend, so we’re good to go.  It seemed like this week would never come, but like a watched pot, despite dire predictions, does too eventually boil.

One worry done; next, please!

Last night, we bought the kids McDonald’s chicken sandwiches, and then Bill and I went out to the local Irish pub for sandwiches.  The truck had just left with 99% of our household goods.  It was a good feeling I had – one of relief and accomplishment.  Of course, I was exhausted, too.

I told Bill how I felt this transition is so much different than most of the others.  Usually they pack the truck, we spend a day cleaning, and then we’re off to new adventures.  This time, we’re telling others (and ourselves), “We’re still here for a month!” 

There’s a farewell dinner this evening for Bill, but his change of command isn’t until next week (next week!!!), so it’s not really goodbye.

And then the change of command, but we will still, hopefully, be waiting for the baby, and we’ll just have to bring that baby into the office to show people who have been waiting for months to see him or her, right?  So, that’s not really goodbye.

Then Bill will go set up our new home, but I’ll still be here, and he’s coming back for me, so no need to say goodbye then, either.

Eventually, perhaps, we’ll just stop popping up in places as we stealthily head down I-95 one day.

I do hate goodbyes.  Gradual or not, at some point, they become final.

So, last night, I had a calm sense of relief that we had gotten all of our things loaded and headed for Tampa.  I had no other cares in the world.

This morning, I have plans to get my kiddos cleaning baseboards and door frames and windows while I shampoo rugs.  We’ll get all the heavy work done now, and then just focus on maintaining it after that.  Even working alone, I could probably do the whole house in this coming week: move the fridge, wipe out the cabinets, dust the ceiling fans.  I’m not concerned about the cleaning.  It will keep us all busy and productive.

The change of command will come with no effort on my part.  Every few days, Bill tells me about some other person with influence who seems to have issues with the date, just because the incoming commander isn’t in country.  Nobody likes plans that have so little wiggle room.

“Why are we rushing things?” asked the latest VIP.  I had a fit of apoplexy when Bill relayed that to me.  We were supposed to be in Tampa back in February.  I don’t see where anybody has ever made any effort to rush things.

“Don’t worry,” my husband comforted me.

“I’m not worried,” I told him.  “You should be worried about your crazy, hormonal wife plopping her big fat belly on somebody’s desk and giving them what for.”

But really, I’m not worried.  What happens, happens.  These conversations were pesky diversions from the stress of getting ready to move.  Now that the pack out had been accomplished, I shouldn’t have another care in the world other than what to put in my bag for the birth center.

But no, no no no no….there must be something to stress out about.  My very first thought this morning was that I absolutely, positively had to get all the baby clothes washed and ready right now.

The problem is, I don’t have a washing machine.  I DON’T HAVE A WASHING MACHINE!!!!  Was I crazy for letting those movers take my machine?  What was I thinking?  Why didn’t I do all this laundry before the packers came?

I had to talk myself off the ledge.  I do have a plan.  Between Craigslist and the word on the street, I am confident I will get a washer in the next 48 hours.  Something old and used and cheap.  I told my lawn guy and his cousin I would need it on June 15th, so for all I know, one could just show up here this afternoon.  Otherwise, my husband will go out hunting tomorrow.

It’ll be fine.  It’ll all work out.  No need to panic.  Not yet, at least.

166 Boxes Later

Around 8:40 yesterday morning, I started worrying that maybe the packers weren’t going to show.  I waited until 9 am to call, and Alfonso assured me that they should be there any minute.  I think it was about 9:10 when they pulled into my drive.

A team of four ladies came in my door.  I’ve never had 4 at once.  The last move, I had only 2.  Usually, I get 3.  I showed them around.  I pointed out the labels I had made using that blue painter’s tape: LINEN CLOSET, SCHOOL BOOKS, PROFESSIONAL GEAR.  “Just label the boxes with what I wrote on the label and I’ll be happy,” I said.

I pointed out several closets and doors with another label: DO NOT PACK.  “We’re here for another month,” I explained.

I showed them that I had already pulled down things from the high shelves, grouped like items together, taken half the pictures off the walls.  They noted the mostly empty dresser drawers, the bagged stuffed animals, and the ziplocked loose items.  I told them I still needed to sort through one corner of the dining room which was piled high with various sewing projects put on hold to prep for the move, and I wasn’t completely satisfied with the garage, and that Mary, who refused to go with her siblings to a friend’s house to play, had some toys out in the sun room.

They got to work.  I got to work.  I sorted my sewing stuff and was able to get much of it upstairs into the appropriate bins before the upstairs ladies got to my sewing totes.  The rest of my sewing stuff was piled on the ironing board.  “You don’t need to pack this,” I told the packer in that room.

While sorting, I heard another packer on the phone with the office.  “This is a one day pack job,” she said.

When the guy did the walk through last month, he had said, “A house this big is a three day pack.”  I assured him it would only take two, but didn’t argue with him too much.  This week it is better for the truck to come on Thursday than on Wednesday.

The packer repeated to me that she thought it was a one day pack.  I told her I’d get to the garage as soon as I was done with the sewing stuff.  And I did.  It didn’t take me long, and soon one of the upstairs ladies moved out there and started boxing bicycle helmets and Nerf footballs. 

I had nothing to do.  Mary was watching Netflix on my computer and I thought it was inappropriate to put my feet up and read a book while these women worked.  So, I went back to my sewing pile and looked at what I had kept behind.  I had made Fritz a cape for Halloween, but had never hemmed the bottom, and the tie at the neck had pulled free.  I finished it and mended it, and then got it out to the dress up box before the lady packed that up.  There was my favorite pair of jeans from pre-pregnancy which had raggedy hems and had been patched at the knees.  I cut them off and hemmed the bottoms.  I don’t know when these shorts will fit me again, but they are ready to go.  I repaired a quilted pillowcase that had come apart at the seams.  And I sat and darned 14 running socks (all mine) with holes in the big toe.  A six-pack of Hanes running socks costs about $11, so I feel like I did my frugal good deed for the day.

By 2 pm, I noticed a significant slowdown in the pace of the packing, and by 3 pm, they were all sitting around my kitchen table filling out paperwork.  They were done.  And not just done with the packing, but they were completing the inventory – 166 boxes labeled with orange stickers and listed on 6 inventory sheets.  By 330 pm, I was signing everything in triplicate, and by 340 pm, they were waving goodbye. 

6 1/2 hours times 4 workers: 26 man-hours to pack me up.  Not bad.

“That’s fabulous,” texted my sister when I told her.

“It MIGHT be fabulous,” I texted back.  “It all depends on the condition of the stuff when we get to Tampa!”

I’ve learned to withhold judgment until the end.

As it is, one of the upstairs ladies did not use the labels I put on the blue painter’s tape, and I had to mark up some boxes last night so my husband will know which room to put things in.  It’s really nice to label a box “Mirror”, but which mirror?  The white one that attaches to Jenny’s dresser…or the brown one that matches the boys’ dresser…or the one we had hanging over the fireplace?

So, here I sit with a maze of boxes.  I still have a few more sewing projects that I’ll try to finish up in the next few days.  I can do some cleaning (bathrooms) with my helpers and a few last loads of wash before they take my machine away.  But Phase I of the pack-up is done and I have a breather until Thursday.  I am hoping that the trucker wants to come tomorrow to do an inventory.  If he does that tomorrow, and the boxes already have their stickers, Thursday’s loading shouldn’t take more than 5-6 hours.

And that would be quite lovely.

There has to be at least one moving rant

Every other move, my husband has gone into the transportation office, sat down for a half hour or so, hammered out all the details, and walked out of there all set to go.  This time when he went in, he was given a piece of paper with a web address and directions to log onto a secure site and arrange our move that way.  He was booted out of the office in a few minutes.

I suspect that he, busy man that he is, was perfectly happy with that at the time.

Unfortunately for me, that meant that the arrangements weren’t done that day, and the piece of paper sat on the kitchen table, then my desk, for some time.  Eventually, I decided it could wait no more, so I did it myself.  And guess what?  It took way longer than a half hour, the secure government website was anything other than user friendly, and we weren’t all set to go when it was over.

Besides reducing me to tears on multiple occasions, lack of a human interface meant that simple questions and clarifications went unanswered, and miscommunication was actually increased as I struggled to guess what their questions meant, exactly.  I don’t remember how it was phrased, but one question was about the date we wanted to commence the move.  Now in my mind, this is the day that we want people coming into my house to start packing up.

But actually, that was wrong of me.  The date THEY meant was the day the truck showed up to take my stuff away.

So, I put in June 11th.  This coming Monday.  The day I want packers to come and pack me up.

Once I submitted this information to the anonymous governmental server, I started receiving all sorts of email confirmations.  There was one from the transportation office.  There was one from Mayflower, a moving company.  There was one from A. C. White, a moving company.  There were a bunch from “Shipment Manager” which I think is the transportation computer system.  Now, I know that the transportation office is nothing except a bunch of people who send your paperwork off to others, so their emails are of minimal importance.  It’s not like the person assigned to our move is actually following our move and making sure that things happen as they need to.  Oh, no.

I do not know what the relationship is between Mayflower and A. C. White.  Both say they will be handling our move, but not exactly which aspects of it.

It was a guy from A. C. White who came to look at our stuff to see how many days it would take to pack.  So I guess they are taking care of that part of it?  When this gentleman was finished, he had the forethought to confirm the dates with me, and that’s when I learned that the 11th had been put down as the day the truck would come, so the packers had been assigned to come on June 6-8.  Since this was more than a month ago, we had plenty of time to correct that and change it to June 11-13.

Bill sent an email to the woman at the transportation office.  We got an email confirmation back.

But I knew that wasn’t good enough.  I called Toni at Mayflower a few days later.  Sure enough, it was in the system, but not in the system.  However the transportation office chooses to communicate with the moving companies has no follow through. 

Back when I worked for a big fat paycheck at a civilian company, one of my jobs was ordering supplies from the manufacturer and coordinating the delivery with the customer and the installation crew.  Sometimes I even had to call trucking companies.  Of course, this was back in the days before email, but even picking up the phone and calling somebody didn’t always guarantee that every single document would reflect every single change.  I had to call multiple times and re-confirm everything.  Oh, and guess what?  If things got screwed up, it was my fault.  Oh, and guess what else?  If I screwed up, sometimes it cost money to fix it – money that usually came out of the profit, which meant less money for my employer and less commission for the salesman.

So I find it more than a little annoying that the people who work in the transportation office do nothing other than update a computer system and then let everybody else be responsible for checking that system, noticing changes and acting accordingly.  And since they didn’t even take the time weeks and weeks ago to sit with my husband and enter our information for us, I fail to see what purpose this office actually serves the military.

Harumph.  (My sister has gently mentioned the possibility that I am more annoyed with people and life in general when I am pregnant.  She is very very right.  However, this doesn’t mean that I am wrong in being annoyed with annoying people…rather it means that my usual sweet disposition and charitable attitude is only functioning at about 80% capacity.  Pregnant or not, this system could be vastly improved.  I just wouldn’t complain as much about it if I weren’t hormonal.)

Back to Toni at Mayflower.  Toni changes everything in her system.  Or so she says.  Again, I’m not really sure what Mayflower is responsible for.  Things become less clear the more I interact with them.

I did not call A. C. White.  I should have called A. C. White, because on Tuesday, the 5th of June, I got a phone call from A. C. White.  After Alfonso identified himself, I said, “Don’t tell me you’re calling to say you’re coming to pack me up tomorrow.”  There was a silence on the other end.  And then he told me that he was calling to say they were coming to pack me up the next day.  I dimed out Toni at Mayflower, and he seemed to know who she was and said she had not called him and made the changes.

So there seems to be some sort of relationship with these companies. 

Alfonso said he’d call me back.  They must not be hugely busy right now, because they were able to change our pack dates to June 11-13 with no apparent trouble.  Of course, come Monday, I may have a single packer here, but at least for now we’re all pretending that we’re good to go.

I thought that would be the end of it.  I didn’t know of any other people I could possibly call to make sure that they knew of our changes.

Yesterday, the phone rang.  It was a trucker wanting to come and inventory our stuff.  That means he looks at all the furniture and notes ding, dents and scratches (a very tedious job).  He sees how many men it will take to load and how long.  He decides if he needs any special equipment.  Now, I really appreciate that this guy wants to do this in advance of the load day.  Noting all the scratches on the furniture sometimes takes hours, depending on how detail-oriented the trucker is (and how badly he’s been charged by customers who claim he is responsible for what he feels are pre-existing conditions).  We’ve also sat around and waited for one or two more guys to show up so that they could get the piano loaded.  So, coming in advance means the load day goes faster and more smoothly.

Unfortunately, I had to tell this diligent trucker that our load day wasn’t until Thursday.  Somebody had to hire this guy.  Mayflower?  A. C. White?  I don’t know who gave him his marching orders, but nobody bothered to tell him that the dates had been changed.  Having been on the other side of these transactions, I know that mistakes like this can cost people money.  What if that guy isn’t available on Thursday to drive a load of stuff to Tampa?  Maybe he’s contracted to drive a load to Kansas on Thursday.  Maybe he’s contracted to pick up a load in Tampa on Wednesday and drive it to Kansas.  Now maybe he has to drive empty down to Tampa.  Or maybe he sits for a week doing local loads or no loads.  It’s just not right.

I received one more phone call on Friday, from Alfonso at A. C. White.  When we submitted our original information to the transportation office, we did not have a new house address yet.  Since we don’t want delivery until July 9th anyway, this was O.K.  Our stuff is going into storage for a few weeks.  (Just so you know, our experience is that this is not a good thing, but it is unavoidable in this move.  When your stuff goes into storage, it gets handled off and on an extra time.  And you aren’t there to watch them do one of the unloads and loads, so they aren’t necessarily going to be as nice with your belongings as they would be if you were right there watching them.  The most damage we ever had was after a move where our stuff went into storage.  It was awful.  And, I’m not saying that definitely your furniture gets used while in storage, but we’ve heard stories of people finding evidence that indicates it has been.)

Anyway, Alfonso wanted to know if we had a delivery address in Tampa yet.  “We do,” I told him, “but we don’t want delivery until July.”  

“So, it’s going into storage?”

Oh, yes.  And even though we’ve submitted our new address into the system, I guess I’m glad nobody checks that, since my landlord doesn’t need somebody showing up at 8 am in a week trying to delivery our stuff there.

I’ll have to make sure that my trucker has a delivery address of a warehouse somewhere. 

Because that’s my job.

(sigh)

Two more days to get ready.  I’m off to work outside before it gets too hot – moving our bird feeder to the garage, dismantling our raised garden bed.  And I’ve got linens from 6 beds to wash and dry.  Fun stuff.