We pick up with our characters two weeks later…

This week the eldest sister asked if I was keeping quiet on the blog so that my new coworkers wouldn’t see it. The husband asked if I was going to continue the blog now that I’m working every day. And someone in the elevator at work asked how many months along I am and after pausing far too long, I responded, “Six! Eight! Nine! Seven! I don’t know even know what day it is!” Time, as one can tell, has gotten away from me.

It has been quite a week and a half.

Commonwealth of Virginia: Oh ho, Virginia’s got jokes. Last Saturday the husband and I went to the DMV to get our VA drivers licenses. It took us a half-hour to get a number from the information lady and then it was three hours of sitting and awaiting execution. On the information sheet that was necessary on top of all our other information, “weight” is a required field. I swiftly called BS on that one and made up a rather flattering number. The field trip to the DMV really requires its own post, so we’ll let this rest here for now.

Job: I love my new job and although the work days were about 11 hours, my first week flew by. When the House is out of session the days will be shorter. My fellow staffers are awesome people with my sense of humor and the good congressman is a precise and capable gent who communicates exactly what he wants. Considering that the old job in the old home state is currently embroiled in a scandal, I’m especially glad to be where I am now. My new chief of staff and the good congressman are ok with dog visitors in the office now and then so Dietrich can come to work with me when the House lets out. Speaking of…

Dietrich: Knowing our days would be long when the House is in session, the husband and I wanted someone to walk Dietrich in the afternoons. Easy enough, since I just left a job with a dog walking company, right? But frankly I didn’t want to pay a stranger to come into my house and let my dog out for such a pretty penny. Besides that, we can’t get another key to the building so there was no way to let someone in during the week. Fortunately, the husband belonging to the other housemate (from shoebox days) has moved to the east coast and is working for the same dog walking company. It can be slow going to build up a client base and, in the end, we agreed to a very reasonable rate for all-day dog care at their house. The husband and I drop Dietrich off at their place on session days and pick him up on our way home. Everyone is happy.

Home: Last weekend the husband and I went to Ikea and, at long last, purchased a bookshelf sufficient for holding the bulk of our library. We also came home with a small buffet for the dining room and now Dietrich’s goodies are discreetly tucked away and large yet attractive servingware is tastefully displayed. After our paychecks are deposited at the end of this month we are planning to acquire a couch in time for company.

Company: The parents are coming to visit just as August kicks off. Tomorrow I have brunch with a friend from the old job days and on another weekend two of my dearest buddies are planning a trip to see me. At the end of the month yet another friend will be in town and we have lunch plans already forming. Somewhere in there the husband and I will travel to the farm for a weekend and that will be our last trip before the baby comes, unless we decide that we do have time to do a babymoon in Baltimore.

Little oyster: She is 30 weeks old! During a commercial break in Master Chef this week, the husband leaned over her to holler, “Hi baby, it’s your dad!” and she immediately commenced an enthusiastic dance party. I think she can’t wait to meet this loud voice that talks to her all the time and I know she won’t be disappointed when she does.

Baby’s room: With a curtain, painted giraffe, and bookshelf, the secondary layer of necessities is in place. I spent time organizing the closet with her wee clothes and colorful goodies after my June baby shower (Frugal Oyster Budget Tally #4 will be posted soon) and in a few weeks we’ll unbox her Pack ‘n Play and car seat so they can off-gas with the Baby Bjorn. Then we’ll just need a dresser or changing table and a rocker and she’s welcome to come. And by welcome to come, I mean I’d selfishly like to sit up from a laying position without doing a three-point turn but really not before late September, so let’s hope she keeps that in mind.

Drivers licenses: As I said before, Virginia’s got jokes. Our licenses arrived yesterday and after much scrutiny, determined that yes, they had sent us the right ones. The husband looks like a felon and I look like his rather unwashed accessory to the crime. I think we both have mustaches. One of my eyes isn’t open all the way and the husband has a distinct leer. I had tried smiling in my photo but the DMV lady told me I couldn’t show my teeth, so the result is me looking toothless and yet extremely satisfied with the crime I have clearly just committed. The husband and I are comforted by the fact that if we ever DO do something bad and our photos are on the news, no one we know will recognize us. We don’t even look Caucasian. And now I know why they don’t let you proof the picture after they take it. The best part is, the license is good for eight years. We’ll have these until we’re 35.

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Before and after

The last few weeks have been productive ones in terms of home projects. Or rather, I have been productive, and have the projects to prove it.

Here’s what Dietrich and I have been up to:

1. The little oyster’s giraffe clothing rack.

Before. Yes, it’s a giraffe. No, it’s not a sea monster. Yes, I’m sure.

After. See? Giraffe.

Dietrich wanted to be helpful all day and didn’t want to miss his chance to be in the picture. At the last minute he changed his mind and came over to sniff my knees.

2. My bedside table.

Before. When the shabby-chic salvage look worked with our decor and before the table had been through four moves.

After, with a clean, high gloss white finish, perfect for a stack of chick lit and a new lamp.

3. The husband’s bedside table.

Before, when pale vintage blue worked as a nice punch in our apple-green-and-white bedroom.

After, with a lovely thick coat of high gloss white and a new lampshade. The husband even put his bedtime water glass on a coaster of business cards for the first few nights. Ha!

4. Bedroom bookshelf.

I didn’t take any before shots because I had the paint open after the husband’s bedside table and just jumped right in. Mostly I just spruced up the inside with the bright white paint, so now it looks sharp instead of dingy.

Before the oyster comes we are still planning to paint the kitchen and, if possible, the ceiling in our bedroom. But I’m afraid that would lead to baseboards and door frames and a touch up here and a touch up there, so we might just draw the line at the kitchen walls. We’ll see.

The next big thing is finding a couch that fits here and fits us, and coming up with shelving options for our piles of books that are residing on the floor. Now that we have a coffee table and I have found and hung living room curtains (one more thing from the pre-baby, pre-parent-guests check list), the overall look isn’t very conducive to the college stand-by of moving boxes for “shelves.”

You never know unless you ask

No, I didn’t ask for the job I interviewed for this week, although that would have been the bold, sales-trained thing to do.

Instead I asked the old landlady if, instead of waiting for her to write us a check for our security deposit, I could just have our last rent check back since, believe it, she never cashed our May rent check. In a month when we paid an even bigger security deposit for the new place, a pet deposit for the new place, all of our regular bills, and a prorated rent to move into the condo on the 15th, the shoebox rent check of $1,300 was pending all month long, to my aggravation.

Of course I phrased it more diplomatically in my email, presenting it as a way for her to “not have to deal with running to the bank” when I know she’s “so busy” and thinking this would “make it easier for her and works for us, if it works for you.” Sure enough, it worked for her, so I left the walk through yesterday evening with our full security deposit in my little paw, wrote VOID across the check and the carbon copy in the check book, and took the husband out for dinner.

And with that, we’re officially done with the shoebox era. With Dietrich’s help I’m spending today unpacking our final boxes at the condo, setting up the desk in our new work-area corner of the living room, washing floors, and reveling in the fact that I don’t have to drive anywhere today to move boxes. Welcome, June!

No word from the interviews this week. I did end up wearing the same suit with a different, though still black, shirt to Round 2 yesterday. No one gave any indication that they suspected or noticed I’m 23 weeks preggo, although I do think the congressman himself might have noticed. The ball is in their court though, and I really don’t know where it’s going to land. I’m not worried, just curious.

And now, back to Agatha Christie and unpacking the boxes. A girl’s gotta rest after a week like this.

The land of milk(bones) and honey

And pictures of our awesome new bathroom!

We knew moving out here that DC/NOVA is a dog-friendly place to live but calling Alexandria dog-friendly is an understatement of Mastiff-sized proportions. Our new neighborhood in particular is full of dogs and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that they outnumber the people here the way sheep do in New Zealand.

There are 12 units in our new building, and one of the neighbors said that at one point since she has lived there over the last five years, every unit had a dog. On our first morning here, the husband took Dietrich for a walk around the block and came back telling me about the friends our little pup had made, because walking your dog at 7:30 on a Sunday morning is as much a social hour as 7:30 at night.

Another person–also walking his dog–mentioned that this is a great place to let your dog walk off-leash if you’re comfortable with that. Having a dog that can walk responsibly off-leash has always been a dream of mine (judge not) and apparently it’s not frowned on around here. So on Monday night the husband and I took Dietrich for a trial walk up and down the street, off-leash. He was superb, if a little hesitant that walking meant we wouldn’t also throw his tennis ball for him and he couldn’t decide which he would rather do before bed.

Dietrich also walks off-leash to and from the car when we drive places, which has been especially helpful as we haul boxes and juggle different sets of keys this week. I feel like this is the relief a parent gets when a child masters the big-kid toilet months before a little sibling is due to arrive. If Dietrich responded to gold stars, I’d set up a chart for him.

In a few days, I’m done with the new old job. I continue looking for real full-time career-track work, but just to cover all the bases, I’m applying this morning at different dog walking companies in the area. The husband and I talked about me starting my own company, but I’m not a businesswoman, I don’t want to become one right now, and who would walk my furry little clients after I have the oyster? We agreed that now is not the time to start my own biz.

But it IS the time for me to unpack our clothing boxes, now that those have come over from the shoebox and I’m not longer wearing crusty yoga pants and the husband’s t-shirts. Victory.

What’s this I hear?

That’s right, it’s the rumble of our little dishwasher, automatically washing away the final remnants of dinner and breakfast, saving me and the husband the time and backache of hand-washing everything in a travel-size sink in a basement.

What else do I hear? The chirping of birds and the pitter-patter of rain dropping outside our open windows. And the occasional clunk of the vacuum against a baseboard as the cleaning people spruce up the hallway outside our door, keeping this place fresh from wall to wall.

What didn’t I hear? I didn’t hear our old landlady barreling down her uncarpeted stairs beginning at 6:45 this morning, apparently acting out the part of both wildebeest and pursuant pack of carnivores. And I didn’t hear her tearing around the kitchen talking baby talk to the cats and plunking their large ceramic bowls around the dining room. And all weekend we didn’t hear her put her phone on speaker phone and conduct personal conversations, both sides of which we were privy to thanks to speaker phone and conversation partners who shout into the phone as loud as the old landlady does. We also didn’t hear her running (yes, running) from one side of the uncarpeted house to the other and eventually out the door, with which she wrestles for many loud minutes because the handle is broken and one must open and shut the front door with a firm grasp on the deadbolt thingy.

Yes, yes, with the help of two fine friends and a U-Haul pickup truck, this weekend the husband, Dietrich and I moved into the condo with the green ceiling and haven’t looked back.

Ok we have to look back a little bit because there are a few things left at the old place that we need to pick up, and we still have to clean there, but we are sleeping, eating, and yes, watching TV (free! reception!) at the condo and we could not be happier. Last night the husband and I went grocery shopping and not only did we buy enough food for a week, but we bought milk in a gallon jug and we also bought ice cream. Two of them. Mostly because we could, and partly because I’m pregnant. Dear freezer, I love you.

This morning begins my second last week at the new old job, and I am working comfortably from our dining table with an internet connection we’ll be sharing with our new friendly neighbors for pennies a month. We met these neighbors, a young-but-older-than-us Christian couple who said they were praying for another young Christian couple to move in. Boom, here we are! When we got home from the grocery store last night, they had left on our doorstep a small vase of purple tulips and a note saying ‘welcome to the neighborhood!’ Thank you, we do feel welcome.

Today, in between press releases and newsletters, I’ll be looking for summer work, hanging a few things, and unpacking the clothes we have managed to bring over so far. As I said to the little sister this morning, I’m very tempted to call Goodwill and tell them they can have everything left in the basement but since many of my clothes are still there, it’s probably not prudent.

Then the shoebox cleaning will commence. The husband and I are neat people, and I enjoy cleaning and keeping things clean. So imagine our surprise and disgust when we moved furniture and found green mold along the baseboards, and piles of dead roly-polys in corners we assumed were clean like the rest of the visible shoebox. Dis.gus.ting.

But that was the old place and this is the new place. The paint we’ll be keeping is perfect, the paint we won’t be keeping also looks pretty dang good, and the bathroom is basically my dream bathroom (I’m easy to please), with subway tile half-way up, a high ceiling, a window that is shaded by a huge holly bush, and robin’s egg blue paint that covers the top half of the walls and the ceiling. A modest but sophisticated vanity and a mirrored medicine cabinet with a new light fixture above make it a wee water closet I don’t mind visiting in the middle of the night.

…the middle of the night which is now only disturbed by bathroom visits and not by the landlady’s cats chasing mice they snuck into the house to play with after midnight. Ahhh, bliss.