Monday, December 26, 2011

Moving Day (or days)

Every time we move, I swear the next time we move we are hiring movers to do the packing and heavy lifting.  Then the next time rolls around, and I get to feeling frugal (ha!) and decide we can do it all ourselves.  This is almost always a mistake.  Oh, the moving gets done, but not without a bunch of cursing, late nights, and usually some damage to the furniture.  And at the end, I swear we are never moving ourselves again.

So Thursday rolls around, and we close on the new house.  We head straight from closing to U-haul, and get started.  The first load goes ok.  We had to remove only the front panel from the crib, rather than take it completely apart.  Other furniture was more difficult, and we did manage to damage the awesome, and heavy, bed we bought we we moved here.  Moving things up the stairs at the new house was a pain.  But things were moving along.  We knew we'd have more help on Saturday, so we tried to prioritize.

Our last load of the night was supposed to be the washer, dryer, and fridge.  I rented an appliance dolly along with the U-haul, and thought it would be easy - after all, we had moved all of the appliances into the house without one!  The washer and dryer were fine, if heavier than I remembered.  The fridge, not so much.  On the last corner before the front door, my husband said to tilt it "this way" and apparently his idea of "this way" was my idea of "that way" and my fingers ended up smashed between the fridge and the wall.  Ouch.  The fridge did not get moved that night.

A quick trip to the ER made sure that nothing was broken.  A night of broken sleep made sure that the prospect of still having to move stuff was enough to make me want to cry.  My husband's coworkers came to the rescue with a suggestion of a moving company several had used with great success.  I was doubtful that they would have any availability (it being 2 days before Christmas), but they said they could come out at 8 a.m. Christmas Eve.

It was wonderful.  They moved the rest of the furniture, the fridge, bikes, lawn mower, basically all of the heavy stuff, and took it to the new house.  They then moved everything in, and moved all of the stuff we had moved only downstairs to the appropriate place upstairs.  They were even able to move the elliptical machine upstairs - a machine so heavy that I can't even move it a few inches by myself.  These guys are my heroes.  In less than 3 hours, they had moved stuff that would have taken us a whole day.  And I don't think I heard them swearing even once.

If we ever move again (no!), I'm hiring movers from the start.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sick today, moving tomorrow!

I think I've slept 20 of the past 24 hours.  I was feeling poorly at work yesterday, and by the time it was time to go home, was alternately having chills and sweating.  I made my husband drive home.  Got home, went straight to bed.  I called in sick today, and spent most of the day in bed sleeping.

We close on our new house tomorrow at 10 am., and have a u-haul reservation at 12:30.  I hope I'm feeling well enough that we can actually get stuff moved.  Fortunately, our lease on our current house goes for a while, and the landlord isn't relisting it until January, so if we can't move tomorrow, it isn't the end of the world.  A few of my husband's friends said they can help on Saturday -- but I hope we are long moved in by then.

I was planning on attending a social run hosted by a local running store, but that is obviously not happening tonight.  Maybe next week.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

4 miles plus a little more

Feeling much better after an day of Christmas shopping with my husband and the fat little rabbit.  We went way overboard, as we do every Christmas.  The plan every year is for Santa to bring 3 gifts, plus stocking stuffers, and then a few gifts from Mom and Dad.  We stuck to the 3 from Santa pretty well, but the Mom and Dad gifts, well, that's another story.  They just make too many cute toys these days, and then add in some books and dvds, and suddenly we've got too much again.

My present this year is new running shoes.  My old shoes are more than a year old, and even though I didn't run much while pregnant, my husband and I took a mile long walk every day during lunch, and I wore them to do errands and stuff, so they are pretty shot.  The last time I went shopping for running shoes I was very frustrated by the lack of in-stock women's shoes in wide widths.  I have bony, wide feet.  New Balance was the only store that had what I wanted in stock.  I like New Balance, so that's what I went with.  Today, the closest New Balance store was out of our way, but there was a RunOn! store on the way home, so we stopped there.  The helpful salesperson measured my feet, and suggested that I just try men's shoes.  I did, and yay!  they fit!  Now I just have to act surprised when I open them Christmas morning.

I also learned that the store hosts a social run on Wednesday nights.  I inquired about the pace that they run, and was told they take all levels.  I am really slow though.  I'll go this week and see how it goes.

When we got home from shopping, I went for my run that I put off this morning.  I decided since I downloaded a running app that tells me my distance every 5 minutes, I'd just run through the neighborhood without a plan.  That may not have been the best of ideas.  I ran up to one of the major roads through the city, but when I got to halfway on my planned distance, there wasn't a good road to cut back through towards my house.  I didn't want to just turn around, because I find that too boring for words, so I kept on.  In the end it added only around a half mile more than I was planning.  i think I'll stick to at least roughly mapping out a route before I run next time.


Yesterday was a bad day.  But not so bad that I should be feeling as crappy as I do.  I hate feeling this way.

Closing on our new house was delayed two days because our mortgage company can't get its act together.  The boys were terrible at dinner, and hardly ate anything.  We settled on a restaurant with more kid friendly food, and then they spent most of the dinner making a mess.  My husband hates one of the pictures I used for the Christmas cards.  We didn't order enough of the cards anyway, so I offered to take more pictures and order different ones for his family, but he doesn't want to do that either.  My boys wanted to have a sleep over in our room last night, which meant I spent most of the night shoved to the very edge of our bed, freezing, because middle child wanted to sleep right next to me but *hates* blankets.  I had trouble getting to sleep, and when I finally did, our stupid cat decided to claim my pillow.  I kept having weird dreams about people I haven't seen or talked to in 10+ years.  My boys are spending the day with my mother-in-law, and I'm going to miss them.  The foundation repair people, who left a total mess in our backyard when they were here before Thanksgiving, and then "forgot" that they weren't done with the work, are late.  They were supposed to be here between 8:30 and 9:00 this morning.  It is now 10.  I wanted to go for a run this morning before we had to take the boys to my mother-in-law's but I woke up feeling so crappy I didn't go.  Now I'm mad at myself for not.

On the bright side, the fat little rabbit rolled over for the first time today!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

House Hunting Ruminations

The first house my husband and I bought was a mistake.  We were moving from Texas to Boston, and after years of being poor undergrads, and then poor law students, we were finally making good money.  We were sick of renting, and wanted to buy.  The market had finally started going down, and we thought it would be a good time to buy low.  This was 2007. Oops.  We made a lot of mistakes buying that house, from not researching the schools, not knowing which parts of the neighborhood were best, and not understanding exactly how much repairs were going to cost. Three years later, when we decided to move back to Texas, we had a hard time selling.  We ended up selling for around $70,000 less than we bought, and that doesn't count the money we spent deleading the house, replacing the roof, the furnace, etc.

We rented in Texas while waiting for the house in Boston to sell.  When it finally did, we felt comfortable with the area where we were renting, and wanted to buy again.  For one, we could afford to spend more, and since the area we moved to has a much lower cost of living, the money we can spend goes a lot farther.  Instead of looking at 100 year old capes, with 1 bathroom, and tiny kitchens, we were looking at homes built in the last 30 years, with huge kitchens, multiple baths, plenty of space for the kids.  Most importantly to us, no lead paint!

As we toured the houses on our shortlist, having been so recently in the seller's position, I kept imagining myself back there.  It didn't help that many of the homes were still occupied, and at a few the owners were leaving as we were getting there.  I remembered when we first put our home on the market, being excited at the number of showings that were scheduled.  When someone scheduled a second showing, I allowed myself to hope that we'd have an offer soon.  Did these owners get their hopes up too?  I can't imagine the stress of keeping your house in showing condition -- we didn't put ours on the market until after we'd moved out.

We really liked one house - it was almost perfect.  But the one thing it was missing - a room we could use as a playroom for our three kids, was not something we were willing to compromise on.  I wanted to tell the owners how much I liked their house.  But I know they don't really care that I loved their yard, and the wood they choose for the flooring.  They want me to love it, yes, but they really want me to make an offer.

We asked our agent to pull the seller's disclosures for 2 houses, and ask what information was available about a third, a bank owned foreclosure.  A few days later, the bank dropped the price on the foreclosure - to below what we had been considering offering.  So we put in an offer.  While waiting to hear back, we looked at more houses.  One I loved.  Another both my husband and I liked an awful lot.  They both went under contract while we were waiting to hear back on our offer on the foreclosed house.

Our offer was accepted, and we scheduled an inspection.  Then we had to ask the bank to do some repairs.  While the bank was considering our repair request, we went to look at one more house.  Just to check.  Just to make sure we wanted to go through with the foreclosure.  I wanted to either love or hate the house.  Loving it would make our decision easy - we'd offer on it, and walk away from the more expensive, but bigger, foreclosed house.  If we hated it, we'd stick with the foreclosure.  We liked it.  A lot.  We didn't love it, but it was a very nice house, and would work very well for us.  And it was less expensive.  We went home to agonize.  We asked our agent to get the seller's disclosures.  We had her ask the seller's agent if there were any pending offers.  We decided we'd probably make an offer on it.  Our agent drew up a new offer.

And then we woke up the next morning and changed our minds.  We felt we were settling.  This is supposed to be our forever home, and we didn't want to settle.  There were more things we loved about the foreclosure.  And so we didn't make an offer on the other house.  And I felt awful for the owners.  Their house had been on the market for 6 months.  They'd done some major improvements to it.  I imagine their agent told them someone was very interested.  And then an offer never came.  I was there a few months ago. I remember waiting for an offer to come it, hoping that was the reason my phone was ringing.

We're closing on the foreclosure next week.  I've still got all of the other houses we looked at, and liked, saved on our agent's website.  I'm rooting for my favorites to sell soon.  I've been there.

Monday, December 12, 2011

4 miles

I was not able to run this weekend, as my husband went out of town to a bachelor's party for his friend.  By the time he got home Sunday night, I was to tired from running after three kids to go running for myself.  When we got home tonight, I said I was going for a run as soon as he was done with the elliptical.

I printed out the Hal Higdon training schedule the other day, and counted out on the calendar how many weeks I have until the half marathon in March.  I'm going to do double weeks of 4, 5, and 6 mile long runs, before ramping up to increasing one mile each weekend.  So tonight was the first 4 mile run.  I learned some important things about running in my neighborhood:

-It is not advisable to try to cross one of the main roads at a minor intersection.  I had to double back to the intersection controlled by the light, as there was just never a break in traffic, and I though it was not advisable to cross in the dark!

-All of the houses on one street in our new subdivision use the exact same Christmas decorations.  They are pretty, but by the time you've seen 4-5 houses, it just gets boring.

-Apparently emergency vehicles in our town can make all of the lights at an intersection stay red except in the direction they are approaching.  I spent a very long time jogging in place while waiting for them to go through, and then through a whole new light cycle.  Next time I'll just turn around and run towards the other intersection.

-There were more people out running after dark than I expected!  We live in a very safe neighborhood, and it gets dark early now in the winter, but I still expected to have the sidewalk mostly to myself.  It was nice to see so many other people out for a run!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Photos

I bravely ventured out for the annual holiday photo shoot.  The year before last, we said we would never spend money again for the mediocre stuff we got from Sears -- we could do better at home.  The at home pictures last year were fine, but were complicated by one boy recovering from a fairly bad cold, and another who didn't want to hold still.  I finally got a good one in the front yard, when they were wresting.  It looks like they were hugging.

With three of them to wrangle this year, and our house lacking a good place to stage a photo shoot, I thought I'd try our luck at Target.  When the studio called to confirm our time yesterday, they mentioned that during the weekends in December they book every 10 minutes, so we had to be on time, and no wardrobe changes.  I am not organized or motivate enough to buy more than one set of coordinated holiday outfits anyway, so the no wardrobe changes rule was fine by me!

Given the 10 minute appointment increments, I was expecting a mad house.  When we arrived 15 minutes before our appointment though, we were the only ones there.  I chose two backgrounds, and we started.  The photographer started with the red head holding the fat little rabbit, while middle child sat next to them.  First shot, fat little rabbit starts sliding down, and it looks as if her brother has her in a choke hold.  Next shot, the boys are looking at the camera and smiling, fat little rabbit is looking about to scream.  Then she smiles, but middle child is sticking his tongue out.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  Somehow we manage to get a great shot of them all looking at the camera, with expressions at least approximating smiles.  Individual photos go better, as the photographer has to get only one kid to look at the camera at a time.  Grandparents will be appeased for another year!


I complained to Gap about my botched order.  I received an apology, and a coupon code for 40% off.  I picked out a new onesie, and a footed sleeper, and got ready to checkout.  And, the coupon code isn't valid on baby items.  I give up.  Gap clearly doesn't want my money.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Somehow, I have turned into a runner.  My husband and I ran off and on during law school, but it was always something to do for free exercise, not something I did because I particularly enjoyed it.  After law school, I'd run every once in a while, but never anything regular.  Running was boring, I wasn't very good at it, and who has the time?  I ran in a couple 5Ks when my law firm had a team, but I never got into a good training habit, so these were always one-off races.

The day after my sister-in-law's wedding, I sat on the balcony of our hotel room and watched runners in the Austin 10K.  I decided I wanted to be a runner.

Somewhat crazily, I signed up for a half-marathon six months out.  A cousin had run in the Smuttynose Half Marathon the prior year, and was planning on running again that fall.  I asked if I could tag along.  I googled to find training programs that didn't look like they'd kill me, and found Hal Higdon's novice training program.  Awesome!  That program is set out for 12 weeks, so I figured I could spend a lot of time repeating the early weeks.  I was still very skeptical that I'd ever actually be able to run 13.1 miles, but I'd give it a good go. 

My first "long" run was 4 miles - a full mile longer than I'd ever run before in my life.  It was awesome.  The 5 mile run two weeks later was great too, until it started raining on me precisely 2.5 miles away from my house.  But I was loving running.  I'd set out a different course each weekend, and head out, ipod in hand, and just run.  The 6 mile run on week 5 of my modified schedule kicked my ass.  I ended up on a long, boring, flat stretch of road for the last mile, I was tired, and I was bored.  How was I ever going to get to 13.1 miles? 

Right around that time, I ended up traveling a lot for work.  Treadmill running bores me to tears, so I tried to find places to run at the end of the day.  In St. Louis, I ran across the Mississippi river to Illinois and back.  (Speaking to opposing counsel -- also a runner -- at a deposition the next day, he looked at me in horror when I told him where I went. Apparently that was not the safest place to go running by myself.  Oops.)  In Jefferson City, I ran up to the capitol building (I think - maybe it was the governor's mansion?) and promptly got turned around and lost.  By the time I found my way back to the hotel, my pre-work run was twice as long as originally planned.  Back home, I found myself having to plot runs farther and farther from my house.  I ran around Jamaica Pond, and found it so much more fun to run when other people were around than I thought.

My half marathon day came, and even though I am still a slow runner, I ran every step of the race.  I am sad to say that I did not keep up with my lofty goal of doing at least an 8 mile run every weekend after the race was over, but I didn't stop running altogether either.  More of my running moved indoors to the treadmill though, as the temperature in Boston continued to drop through winter.

In January, we learned I was pregnant with the fat little rabbit, and we moved to Texas in February.  I couldn't run in the first trimester, as it made me sick.  Second trimester, I could not find a sports bra sturdy enough to make running comfortable.  Third trimester?  Well, I'll just remind you that we had maybe 2 days in July and August that were below 100 degrees here in Texas, and there was no way I was dragging my 7-8 months pregnant self out to run in that heat, having done precisely no running in the previous 6 months.

But oh, how I missed it.  I asked my OB/GYN when I could start running again after the baby was born, and she said whenever I felt up to it.  10 days after the fat little rabbit was born, I felt up to it.  I started with a slow 1 mile run, and have slowly worked up to 3 miles.  I love it. I  missed it.  I convinced my husband to run the Dallas Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon with me this spring.  I can't wait.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Shopping Disappointment

We're buying a house.  It has a lot of potential, but right now is very beige. The walls? Beige. The carpet? Beige. For a little variety the countertops are off-white.  This must change.  We like color, and we don't much like carpeting.  Carpeting in the dining room, when we have three small kids, seems like a particularly bad idea.   The house is also huge.  Like three times bigger than our first home.  But helpfully, due to the move from Boston to Dallas, not three times as expensive!  As with most housing purchases, we will be bleeding money for the next little bit.  Especially to get rid of the beige.  Oh, and to get furniture.  And fix the myriad of tiny things the inspector mentioned we just might possibly want to fix, but aren't huge problems.  And so we are trying to have a less expensive Christmas. 

As our fat little rabbit will be only three months old, we figured we could get away with getting her mostly clothes as gifts -- she needs them anyway, and she really will not know the difference.  So cyber Monday rolls around, and I have a 35% off coupon for, along with free shipping.  We really like Gap's baby clothes, so I log on and start filling up my virtual shopping cart.  I also had coupons for and, so I looked there as well.  As I shopped at all three stores, my orders at Gymboree and Carter's would occasionally update, as items sold out.  My loss, as I was taking my sweet little time making up my mind what I wanted.  I finally had the three carts filled with what I wanted, and decided to go with the cart at  I finished my order, and made a mental note to watch for the package.  That night, I showed my husband the order, and was particularly excited about a super cute lilac cardigan, with a matching onesie.  My husband humors my desire to dress our little girl in purple; he prefers the pinks.

Around 3 a.m. this morning, I was nursing the fat little rabbit, and playing on my iPad.  I checked my e-mail, and noted an e-mail from regarding my order.  "We're sorry, but while processing your order, we found that the item(s) below are no longer available. Your Order Total has been adjusted to reflect any changes."  it said.  The items?  The onesie and cardigan I was most excited about.  But wait a minute.  Gap is just now processing my order? A week after I placed it?  And it just now "found" that the items are no longer available?  Does Gap not have an inventory control system?  I have visions in my head of a huge warehouse, and frantic holiday hire employees walking around with order forms.  They walk to the spot on the shelf where the lilac cardigans are kept, and oh no! they are gone!  Surely that's not how it works.

The real kicker is in the adjustment to my order total.  I had a $20 rewards coupon I earned from previous purchases with my Banana Republic card.  The way Gap handles the coupon when you buy multiple items is to allocate the discount across all of the items.  So when credited my account for the two items it was unable to sell me, it credited back only the price minus the allocated portion of the rewards coupon.  But it wasn't my fault that Gap can't keep track of its inventory.  I didn't decide to return the items; Gap refuses to sell them to me.  In the end, I didn't get to use around $4.50 of my rewards coupon, because Gap made a mistake.

Gap does feel sorry though.  To make it up to me, they've offered a 10% discount code.  What?  The 35% off discount is no longer valid, and I've lost $4.50 from my rewards coupon, but I can have 10% off a future order?  Is that really supposed to make me feel better? Credit the $4.50 to the original order, so I can use the whole $20 rewards certificate, honor a 35% discount for two like items so I can replace the items you agreed to sell me but now cannot, and I'll feel as if I'm at least back in the same position I was last Monday.  At that point, throwing in a 10% oops-we-messed-up discount is a nice thing to do.  As it stands, I think your customer service is crappy.