Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Bunny, The Bunny, Oh I Love The Bunny

If you're starting to sing right now, you've likely watched a lot of VeggieTales. If not, well, you've missed out on anthropomorphic produce teaching Christian values and re-telling Bible stories. You don't know about 3 veggie friends who did not worship the giant bunny idol and were thrown into a fiery furnace only to be joined by an angel and saved by God. 

And that's ok. It's actually irrelevant to the rest of this post. But I can't see a rabbit without singing the song about the bunny idol:  "the bunny, the bunny, oh I love the bunny..."

I came home today and the girls dragged me out to the back deck. "You've got to come see this! It's awesome!"

I expected to see some art project or creation. But the girls were standing still, watching a rabbit munch on our yard. According to the nanny, they'd been there for a while. Now this bunny frequents our yard, and our neighbors'. We've seen him pretty much every day since we moved. But we're still excited every time we see him. 

I guess we didn't really have neighborhood bunnies at the old place. Perhaps there were too many neighborhood coyotes and fisher cats? Or maybe this neighborhood is more bunny-friendly. More bucolic. With actual grassy yards. 

I went walking with a neighbor tonight, and we saw more bunnies. All over the    place. I miss living across the street from the Arboretum. But this neighborhood is definitely cuter than my old one...

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Spices of Life

I'm discovering today that it takes an extra long time to unpack a large amount of stuff into a small space. There's a process of prioritizing and purging that really slows things down. But there was one heavy box that I knew needed no purging. 

Spices. They filled a whole box. It was a heavy box. And I need them all. 
I love spices. We use spices. Lots of them. And my accomplishment for the evening? I found a place for them all. 

I only needed two cabinet shelves, one double-stacked drawer, and one spice rack to hold them all. They all fit. My job for tonight is done. I finally felt like I could open that bottle of bubbly I had bought for the closing and actually celebrate. 

Cheers to new chapters in life. And spices. 

The Fridge

So we found out the day of our house closing that the previous owners decided to take their fridge with them. We considered moving our old fridge with us, but realized that it was too large for the small opening in the cabinetry. So we decided to buy a small cheap fridge that would fit in the slot and become our basement fridge after we updated our kitchen. 

We went to Home Depot. They had a sale! But they couldn't get us the fridge until Thursday. Too long. We passed on the offer and went to Lowe's. 

The saleswoman told us that she had one of the fridges we were interested in actually in stock, and we could have it tomorrow! We could buy it on Saturday, and use it on Sunday! We were sold!

We plunked down some plastic, and waited for our phone call to tell us our delivery window. It never came. 

When we called to follow up, we discovered that we had been misinformed. Since we ordered after noon, we couldn't get it on Sunday. 

In conversation with the manager, I might have used the word "defrauded." He made a lot of phone calls to try to get us a fridge on Sunday. I talked to him half a dozen times. No luck. 

So he got it scheduled for end of day Monday so I wouldn't have to miss work. I got a call telling me it would be delivered between 3 and 5. Ok. 

Monday morning I got a call telling me it would be delivered around 1:00. I could accept the delivery at 1, or reschedule it for another day. I needed a fridge. So my boss kindly excused used me mid-day to get a fridge. 

The truck arrived at 1:10. I asked him to install the handle on the opposite side. He protested. I might have given him The Look. He did it. While yelling on his phone. 

The fridge was installed in my kitchen. It fit in the slot, and started cooling immediately. Finally! I could shop for groceries! I could feed my family! 

I went back to work, relieved. My stress level had dropped dramatically. I had to work late to recover the time. I rushed home to relieve the nanny and take the girls to my Dear Friend's house who graciously hosted a dinner play date so I could go shopping to fill the fridge. 

I came home and ogled the fridge briefly and check its cooling progress before leaving. And then it happened. 

The door fell off. Onto the floor. Completely off the fridge. 

My family needs food. Perishable food that needs refrigeration in July. 

I put the door back on. It stayed. As long as the door wasn't opened. 

Good enough. It could hold food. And keep it cold. We'd just have to be careful until the door was repaired. 

I played phone tag with the store manager throughout the evening. The frustrating conclusion came at 9:50 pm. Instead of ruining another work day, we'd reschedule a delivery of a new fridge for Wednesday, my day off. 

Sometimes expectations need to be violated to realize what your expectations are. 

Apparently my expectations include:
Salespeople understand the details of "next day delivery". 
Things get delivered during their pre-determined delivery times. 
Things get delivered in working order. 

How much money do you have to pay to get what you're promised? When it's promised?

Friday, July 3, 2015

Transylvanian Mover

The big stuff is gone. Our condo echoes with every noise I make. The movers wrapped up our furniture, and swooped out every last piece. I'm left to fill a few random boxes with the odds and ends that weren't ready to go. We'll be completely out by the end of the day. 

The moving crew was a group of 4 appropriately fit-looking guys. They were professional, courteous, and a flurry of energy. While the crew chief was American, the other 3 were European imports. I chatted up one of them briefly while we were simultaneously packing stuff in the girls' room. He told me he was Romanian. "You heard of Transylvania?" His English was great, although accented. He was an IT professional back home. But he came to the U.S. for the moving season every year, where he out-earned his yearly salary many times over. 

We talked about my new job, where many of the health aides were educated professionals in their home countries. But the chance to earn a living here in the U.S. is better, so they feed and bathe the elderly instead. 

The young gentleman from the moving crew described the ongoing corruption at home. "One group of Communists was just replaced by another." I mentioned the exchange student we'd had from Moldova when I was younger. She's living in the U.S. now. "So she escaped. Moldova's even worse," he said. "When the Berlin Wall fell, the only freedom we really got was the freedom

 to escape."

I consider it my job as a parent to make sure my girls know how lucky they are. We occasionally grouse about not living closer to family, but we don't have to live in a different country to find a job. My girls live in a country where smart people jump at the chance to move their belongings, babysit them, and care for their great-grandparents. They are growing up in what is considered the promised land by people all over the world. 

I find that to be a sobering thought. Certainly with that great privilege comes some great responsibility?

Occasionally, HeyMama will ask us if we're rich. Our standard answer is, "Well, you'll always find people who have more money than us. But we never have to worry about having enough food to eat. We never have to choose between heat in the winter and medicine. If you outgrow your shoes, we can get new ones. So yes. We are rich. "

And now I realize that we have to add to that definition. We live in a country that other people pray for the chance to come to. People jump at the chance to take menial jobs here. Are we rich? Yes. We're super rich. 

So good luck, Transylvanian mover. Kudos to you for taking the hand in life you were dealt and playing it well. I hope your back stays strong and the work keeps coming. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Little Gifts

The previous owners of our home were an elderly couple who needed help from their kids to move. And I'm finding more and more things left behind. The fridge was not, unfortunately. But these were:

I have some dirty dishes, and some chips. I guess they even out, right?

The New Chapter

So we closed on a house. After about two years of looking. 

I call it a restoration project. It has great bones, is very liveable, and is a great find. It needs a little help to be loveable. But we'll get there. I've set a five year deadline. The probable cost is more frightening, but hey, it's just money, right? (Cough, gag, hyperventilate...)

The big girls and I opened the house with our own key for the first time today. 

This is real. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Another Ode to Mr. Fariss

This is Teacher Appreciation Week. Earlier in the week, we were able to celebrate with the rest of the girls' school when one of the 5th grade teachers was named Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. That's quite an honor. I'm not surprised it was bestowed on a teacher at our school. We have some super teachers. But I've been thinking about teachers in my life. I remember quite a few that were noteworthy. But I found myself quoting one of them in particular throughout the week.

I guess it makes sense that a band director, a teacher that I had for 4 years, would leave a huge impact. It makes even more sense when that band director is a larger-than-life character. I know he's known for quite a few signature sayings. Some were more colorful than others. But there are two that have stuck with me that I had the chance to pass along to my oldest daughter over the last few weeks.

HeyMama has been practicing a piano piece for tomorrow's school talent show. She's a kindergartener. She's been playing piano since this past September. So less than a year. And she wanted to play the Star Wars Theme. So with the help of a musician friend and some free online software, we obtained a version that was appropriate for a beginning pianist. Challenging, but attainable. She's been diligently practicing. Well, sometimes diligently.

"Practice like you'll perform."

This was one of Mr. Fariss' many sayings. If you practice something sloppily, you'll perform it sloppily. If you prepare and practice with the goal of a performance-worthy production, that's what you'll get when it's time to perform in front of an audience. I found it to be true in my marching band days. I found it to be true in non-musical endeavors since then. And these past few weeks, I've been saying it to HeyMama.

But as we've gotten closer to performance time, another saying has resurrected itself.

"Fake it 'til you make it."

HeyMama is concerned about what happens if she messes up during her performance. This is reasonable. I encouraged her to just keep going until she feels like she's got it under control again. In marching band, you can't stop moving on the field just because you forget what to do next. People are running all around you with instruments in their faces. Bloodshed would ensue. You keep moving until you figure it out. And if you've "practiced like you'll perform", it will come to you. And typically, no one is the wiser of your temporary lapse of memory. Again, I have found this advice to be helpful in professional and social situations.

But this week, I've had to take that advice to heart to merely get through the day.
This past Sunday, BestestHusband and I decided that we'd get the big girls on their bikes, HurricaneDebbie in the jog stroller, the dogs on their leashes, and running shoes on our feet. We'd take a family exercise excursion to the other side of the Arboretum to see the cherry trees in bloom. It was truly glorious. The weather was finally sunny and warm. The trees were extravagantly decked out in white and pink blossoms. The place was full of people basking in the glory of a warm spring day. And we had a great workout. I had to do some sprints to keep with the girls. The girls had fun on their bikes. And I think the run was even tolerable for BestestHusband. But two days later, it became apparent that the excursion was not the best idea. I had inhaled a lot of pollen, and my body was rebelling. I couldn't breathe. My nose was ok. It was my lungs that were in crisis. Here are some of the things that have left me out of breath:
Walking up stairs
Walking across a small room
Picking up HurricaneDebbie
Picking up a fork
Making phone calls
Sending emails
Lying still on the couch
Trying to sleep at night
Sitting quietly

I coughed so hard and so much that I strained my back. I went to the doctor, and got a nebulizer treatment and inhaler. I've been vaguely headachy and have had no appetite since then. I'm a mess.

But I had a job interview on Tuesday. I think I nailed it. I picked up extra work hours today. And I will on Friday and Saturday. Getting off the couch has required great effort. But the words "fake it 'til you make it" have echoed in my ears. It doesn't have to be easy. You just have to do it until it gets easier.

I only cooked dinner tonight because I was afraid of $15 worth of chicken going bad in my fridge. But I ended up making a pretty good meal. (Hey, I got BestestHusband to eat cauliflower and be happy doing it!) I only went to the grocery store tonight because buying ice cream sounded really appealing. (The fact that we were out of fresh fruit and a lot of food staples wasn't enough to get me there.) But I just got started doing the tasks, and they got done. Even though I really didn't feel like I could do it.

So the wisdom of my teacher's words becomes apparent yet again. And I am grateful for Mr. Fariss and all of my teachers that have gotten me here today. I just hope that my girls have at least one teacher who will leave an equally strong impression.