Monday, March 02, 2015

update #5

Again, I've been meaning to write something. But, again, I've been hoping to have more exciting news. I guess we're kinda at the tentatively exciting stage. Maybe. That sounds convincing, right?

We're still at the in-laws'. We were supposed to have moved into the apartment today but that got pushed back to Friday. That means we'll be here to welcome the in-laws back from vacation. And hang with them a few days.

So the apartment was all kinds of fun. Everything went swimmingly the last day I posted. Then the next day we were told we couldn't move in there at all due to a new company policy not allowing leases shorter than 12 months. I called them and was on the verge of tears, threw the kitchen sink at them, they called corporate and had a "change of heart." Then last week they had a wrong date for move-in. Whatever. I'm rolling with it but not counting on moving in until I'm actually in. And then it will be harder for them to get us out. We'll be squatters. I'm not proud.

But moving into the apartment means we'll be getting our clothes back. I'm more excited about that than I should be. But I have a seriously limited wardrobe. And the kids are outgrowing those clothes as we speak. So yea for that! And yea for hopefully regaining some normalcy.

We're now at about 99% re: garage and trash belongings in the dumpster. We have a couple of non-trash things that I think I'll end up just moving to the apartment. Other than that, everything else will be handled by the contractors. We've made good work of it.

Contents are settled. That went well. Now comes the task of making the most of that money. I've bought a few things that we need to live but most of it (like furniture) will just have to wait till we're closer to moving back in.

I really love my car so that's something.

The house? Yeah. That's been a pain. We did get a new claims examiner with the insurance. I really like her and she lays down the law for folks who are dragging their feet. And she's helpful and informative and communicative. We also got a new, seemingly more reasonable building consultant assigned to our case. So he, our contractor, and I walked through the house again on Friday to try to get everyone on the same page budget-wise. We should have this ironed out hopefully this week or next and then can seriously get started on things. And things are supposedly coming along with getting permits and temporary electricity. Oh, I did have to call the electricity provider and tell them that their "estimated" meter reading was off. We, in fact, don't have a meter to read. Haven't for months. Estimate should be zero. Sigh...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

update #4

It's my birthday, and I gloriously took the day off. It's been awhile since an update but I guess that's because there hasn't been much to say. Annoyingly.

We moved out of the hotel at the end of last month. I weaned myself from the family that week. Hubby came over first to take care of the dogs and for me to let him have a tiny break. Then I sent Buns over because he had to go to daycare the next day while I took Chicken to her 4-year pedi visit. And then I had a night to myself. I was hoping it would be glorious but there ended up being work crises. At least I could handle them without the help of my tiny co-workers.

Being here is great for the kids, I think. They're so familiar with the place and have their own rooms (that they feel really belong to them). And it's super near daycare. Obviously it's bigger than the hotel, and Maggie gets some outside time more easily. It's still just not our own place. But we're happy to have it.

I think I figured out our housing for the rest of the time. Just today. I wasn't having luck with the folks who were supposed to be helping with this. I have to say, though, that she called just minutes ago. After not being that responsive and after I did the work myself. So it goes... Anyway, I think we're going to move into a 2-bedroom apartment that's right across the street from our neighborhood. We're going through corporate housing so all the bills will be included (and they'll even do all that legwork getting the utilities set up), and housewares and furniture will be provided. I think it will be great. We'll be able to keep an eye on the house and the progress there. I will easily be able to run over during the day when I need to. And we'll be able to walk Maggie on our own street. Hopefully the kids will feel more connected to the neighborhood again.

As for the house, we got about 95% of the garage and about 90% of our "trash" belongings piled into a dumpster a few weekends ago. Folks were GREAT help that day and made short work of it. We now have a new, empty dumpster to work with.

Everything is almost settled re: contents I think. Just need one estimate and I think we'll be good. Definitely get replacement cost in your insurance policy. That's my free tip for today.

As for the actual house? Sigh. Still trying to hash out the budget. And we have to get the house plans from the builder for the contractor to use. That had lots of hoops to jump through as well. So if I can just get people to respond to calls and emails...

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Four

Child, I'm ridiculously behind on about all things these days. But you're 4!  When we planned your brother's birthday party, you told me that you want a princess party yourself. It wasn't surprising then and you stuck with it for 6 months. We narrowed it down to a Frozen theme, however. I had all sorts of fun ideas and even looked into getting snow but then all hat fell to the wayside when our house caught on fire. The opposite of a Frozen party...  But we took advantage of the birthday package at the gym you and your brother attend and it worked out great. I feel like I phoned it in but y'all had a good time and Mommy didn't go insane so win-win.

You are still so smart and chatty. You ask TONS of questions. Sometimes when I say something you will repeat it under your breath, like you're processing it and committing it to memory. You do have a fantastic memory. You still have a lot of empathy and love babies. You're very resilient, as evidenced by this whole nomad lifestyle we have. I think it has bothered you a bit but not as much as I would have expected. You do still whine and pitch some fits. Does that ever stop?  Maybe when you're grown.

You're finally getting better with the coordination. You've been going to ballet/dance since August and it seems to help a little. And you can ride a bike with training wheels!  Granddad mentioned it right before your birthday because you borrowed another little girl's at the playground. So that was your big birthday gift. And, yes!  You can ride it.

You're doing great in school. You get little report cards. It's funny how I have a bit of anxiety over that. I want you to succeed. Still struggling with handwriting but you've made HUGE improvements during Pre-K4. Your teacher is wonderful. When you first started in her class, I think you thought she worked you too hard so you weren't sure if you liked her. But then you adjusted and you love her, too.  You still have some of the same classmates as when you started there plus a few new ones you enjoy. We invited your friends to your birthday for the first time. Y'all are so cute together.

You keep thinning out and growing. You were something like 77th% for height and 65th-ish% for weight.  You're still size 9 shoes but I think can do 10s.  You mostly wear size 4 or 5 clothes. Your hair is still your most notable feature. We keep it long but trim it regularly. You still like fancy hairstyles but also just want it down sometimes. You had some whispies that got on your nerves so you cut them off. You had super short bangs that basically stuck out perpendicular to your face. Ah, a right on passage of childhood.

I'd say you still like pink the best closely followed by purple. You'll also tell me you like silver, gold, turquoise, and coral. You still love reading. You do enjoy watching movies, going to the park, playing with neighbor girls, walking Maggie, playing dress-up. I think I'm still your favorite but you do mostly get along with your brother.

Regarding sleep, you are still at a stage where going to bed or going down for naps (which you still take--yea!) is pretty easy. Bedtime is usually between 8:30 and 9. You mostly sleep through the night but still wake up altogether too early. You and your brother slept in the same room (your room). Sometimes y'all would sleep in different bunks but sometimes both in the bottom. You've had separate beds or even rooms since the fire and have done just fine. But you both tell me that you want to sleep in the same room once we get back home.

You eat pretty well. You have a reasonably balanced diet and like veggies more than your brother. But you do still have your daddy's sweet tooth.

Well, I'm already late at writing this and we all (except you, miraculously) have a horrible stomach bug. I guess that's it. You're still awesome, and I'm very proud to be your Mommy.  Love you, Chicken Licken.

Chicken, I had to come back and make an addition. I can't believe I left it out before. I blame illness and fatigue and general life craziness. But about your attire. You know how there was a period where you wore only dresses? Well now you wear ALL THE CLOTHES. At once. Like a long-sleeved shirt under a short-sleeved shirt with leggings and a skirt and leg warmers. All of it. It's very Punky Brewster. I think you'd love her, but I have mixed feelings about showing her to you for fear that you'll want to wear mismatched shoes or something. Anyway, it's hysterical and I'm totally giving you control there.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

update #3

I can finally breathe at work for a bit. And by "a bit" I probably should mean about 5 minutes. But I'll spend a few more here. I wish I had the day off and could just do whatever outside. It's so beautiful. I would die up north. A week and a half of dreary days in the 40s leaves me just this side of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Obviously the weather makes me distracted and rambly. Back to business.

If you've been playing along on FB you saw that I got a new car. It's a 2015 Highlander. I love it. It's a greenish grey color that doesn't show up well in photos, and it's way fancier than I am. I think we got a good deal but even better than that, we got something big crossed off the list. I had one glorious solo ride in it. Without carseats even. But then back to reality...which, of course, I wouldn't trade for anything.

We're still at the hotel, and things are still going well. Our transition to the grandparents' house starts next week. We check out of the hotel on the 30th. Still no idea what we're doing come March. There are quite a few things to consider.

We picked a contractor and I am pleased with them so far. They seem proactive, which is good. Right now they're trying to settle on the budget with the insurance company so wish us luck with that. I've started a wish list and am thinking about what changes I'd like to make. It helps me to focus on that part instead of things like being homeless for months or that the chairs I really liked in the living room are no longer made (and I swear nothing like them can be found).

Our inventory folks were great. They were so much faster than we would have been if we had to do it alone. Now we await their list and see what the insurance folks say. Again. So I guess the next step is to start piling things into a dumpster. Hopefully by the time that's done we can get going with piling the interior of the house into a dumpster.

So my tip of the week. If you find a contractor you actually like and would use (or use again), keep their number. Then if some disaster befalls you, bring them in to create the estimate alongside your insurance adjuster. That apparently shaves a lot of time off the front end. I didn't even realize you could do that. We wouldn't have been able to, of course, but it's worked out fine since we can't exactly drop everything and deal solely with the house. So far the pace seems ok. I'm about to get a little antsy, though. Patience.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

update #2

I remain exhausted but still wanted to let y'all know how things are going. It feels like there has been a lot of progress in the last week.

My car was removed from the "garage" yesterday. Yea! Hopefully I'll have a check for that by next week. We've done a bit more research and more test driving and I think we are narrowed down to two. Let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've car shopped with toddlers/preschoolers. Oh, did I mention that I had about 6 payments left on my old car? Isn't that the way it always goes?

I love our hotel. People are so nice and it doesn't feel weird staying here. Maybe it's because I've stayed in so many hotels over the last several years for work. It's really quiet, and I'm able to work fairly well here. It's obviously much smaller but that hasn't been a problem yet. And I have to say that I do enjoy that someone else cleans and cooks (at least several meals). Someone who isn't me. So I'm not sure what we'll do starting in March. We'll see what the options are.

We've interviewed several contractors and I think we've narrowed it down to two. We'll probably decide over the weekend. It does seem like everyone is thinking that it will be about 6 months to finish. And it will basically be a new house inside. And obviously a new garage.

Yesterday morning folks came to get our larger furniture that we'll have professionally cleaned. And last weekend we had so many people come to help pack things up to move to storage. And by that I mean sift through the good and the bad, clean everything, pack into boxes, load the truck. We even had some extra nice folks come with us to storage to unpack. I tell ya, people are nice. So we made tons of progress then. Hubby and I took off on Tuesday to get a little more done. Maybe one more good workday and we'll have all the salvageables out.

On Tuesday, a guy comes to help me inventory all the total loss items. It really isn't that bad. Well, except for the garage. My tip of the day is to take pictures of what's everywhere in your house AND garage. I have house pictures (I take them every year on the anniversary of our move-in date) but none of the garage. Sigh.

Everyone is still doing fine. The kids like the hotel. They say we could stay here a long time. They really are well behaved. Buns will remind us every time that we need to be quiet in the halls. And of course they love the elevator. I don't think I've wanted to stab people since the last update so that's good. One thing that is interesting to me to observe is that I'm annoyed when people ask how the fire started. I'm not sure why. It's a perfectly natural question that I would totally have done myself before this. I think even though it's not intended, I feel like there's an accusation there or something. I don't know. I'm defensive I guess. And perhaps I don't want to look back. I'm trying to focus on progress instead.

We're really back at work and that is making me a little insane. This is honestly the busiest time of the project and if I can just make it through this month I think I'll be ok. But I could use a sabbatical. There's so much to do. All. The. Time. Speaking of, I guess I better get back to it. Thanks again for all your help, concern, gifts, etc. It really is nice to have you in our lives.