RWN and the senior citizens brigade

Today on our morning walk I realized that we were out and about in our little condo community with the senior citizen brigade. They probably don’t call themselves that and they weren’t an organized force with matching T-shirts or anything but there were enough of them power walking through the streets and not enough of any other demographic for me to realize that the only people home during the day are me and the AARP mailing list.

I had always suspected this.


It’s a nice new normal

The little oyster’s sleep schedule has gone haywire in the last week and her parents’ sleep has been duly compromised. After another night of one-hour sleep increments, I was extremely thankful when my boss shrugged off my email request to work from home with a casual “No prob. Enjoy!”

And I am. It’s a privilege and, especially as a new parent, a relief to be able to work from home. I recognize that not everyone has this flexibility at work and I’m thankful I do, at least when the House isn’t in session.

Last week the little sister moved in with us to be the little oyster’s nanny while the husband and I are at work. Having her here has been really nice. We enjoy her company when we’re home and love knowing that the oyster is in great hands when we’re not. Dietrich is pretty sure he just got a live-in girlfriend out of this deal, so really, everyone is happy, if a little possessive.


If media requests and the little oyster’s nap schedule allow, the little sister and I will dash into Old Town later this afternoon for a bit of shopping. Now that I’m less than 10 lbs. away from my pre-pregnancy weight but inhabiting a slightly altered shape, it’s time to buy clothes that will be comfortable and professional for the semi-permanent-meantime. I’m ok with buying a size (ok, two) up if it means wearing normal-people clothes again.

Dietrich and the little sister are on a date as we speak, walking around the neighborhood while maintenance paints the front door of our unit, sprucing things right up. The little oyster is napping (glory, glory halleluuuuujah…) and I’m working with full access to my office. The husband will leave work at 5, we’ll have BLTs for dinner, one of us will vacuum the living room, then we’ll all settle in for a night of West Wing reruns, Modern Family, or the Downton Abbey season premiere. It’s anyone’s guess.

So this is our new groove. It’s a nice new normal. I realize how blessed our home is and I’m thankful for it. Work, family, dinner at home, repeat. If I made a resolution this year, it would be to maintain a humble thankfulness for this nice new normal. And also to do laundry more often.

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.

It’s curtains for the shoebox

The little shoebox was rented yesterday to the second person to do a walk through. Probably not the way I would have handled renting out the bottom half of my home, but hey, I’m not the landlady and it’s not our problem!

The new tenant signed a one-year lease and currently lives with her parents way out in the middle of nowhere. Sounds to me like a prime candidate for moving in before June 1 and helping us out with the cost of two apartments for two and a half weeks. We shall see.

This weekend the husband, Dietrich, and I are off to the farm to see the husband’s family and watch his brothers in a play. I like that people won’t be walking through our little home while we’re gone, as was the original plan.

And so it’s curtains for the shoebox! I can’t say I’ll miss living here, but I will always appreciate what this tiny little place represented for our little family. And in three weeks I will appreciate living above ground, where the spiders aren’t so numerous and the daylight shines in through windows that open.

It’s the final countdowwwwn

Anyone know that song?

Today the shoebox is auditioning for new tenants. The landlady posted it earlier this week on some eco website she’s part of and immediately had a handful of calls. Yesterday she posted it on craigslist and immediately had more calls. Today between the hours of 4:30-7:30, she has 12 people coming to look at it.

And what a lovely sight they will behold. In order to avoid a rushed cleaning and packing like we had when we moved out of the carriage house, I have started already on the cleaning and packing of the shoebox, doing something every day to bring us closer to leaving here with the turn of a key. This means that the place is cleaner right now than it was when we moved in, and our already pared-down possessions continue to shrink in volume as I come across things we have lived comfortably without lo these six months.

The husband and I rented the shoebox sight unseen, which was as much a gamble for us as it was for the landlady, I admit. It really has worked out, all things considered, and I hope it’s a great little landing pad for another person or couple.

But in less than three weeks we get to move on to bigger and better and we’re excited. Not because bigger is necessarily better, but because I am really really really tired of having to kneel down to see anything in the fridge and then wedging the “freezer” shut with a clothes pin while I’m down there. I hope the shoebox doesn’t show anyone that “talent” while it’s auditioning today.

The green ceiling lives

Home sweet home-in-the-future.

For those of you who didn’t get a good mental picture from my Microsoft Paint rendering 🙂 this is a picture of the green-ceilinged dining room from the real estate website we used.  The light fixture is a springy little piece, with leaves and vines. The ceiling is, as established, green, and the walls are a lovely fresh light gray-blue with crisp white on the crown molding and baseboards.

The windows are new and all throughout the condo have deep windowsills, perfect for indoor plants (although there are window boxes outside the dining room and kitchen windows) or air-drying cloth diapers.

And this is the little oyster’s room, taken from the doorway. There’s a walk-in closet to the right and a huge holly bush outside the window. The walls are the same pale gray-blue as the dining room and living room.

Sleep tight, little oyster.

Speaking of the living room, it could hold the entire shoebox.

And the master bedroom comes complete with windows (seriously, this is novel), a big closet with shelves, and a whimsical little chandelier. If I can get the ok to paint it some other color–probably the warm gray or light green I want to use in the kitchen–we’ll be in business.

Blinded by the light.

The little oyster will sleep in his/her Pack N Play in here for a while after getting born, so the oyster’s room is available to guests. Just throwing that out there.

Next stop: Condo with the green ceiling

The wait is over! The condo with the green ceiling is ours as of May 15! Our application was approved yesterday and this morning I spoke with our realtor. The condo’s status on the real estate website is Rented and now the more exciting search for boxes begins.

Of course, we don’t need that many since half of our household is still boxed and in the furnace room down here, but I did unpack most of our prolific library and that will all have to be repacked. No worries though, books are our friends.

When I got the email from our realtor last night, I cried happy tears. And then I got a bloody nose. Thanks, pregnancy, for both of those things.

The wait begins. Again.

The husband and I have done a lot of apartment hunting in our time together. A little over a year after we were married, we even looked at a house or two. Since then we have moved way far out this way and now we have a dog and a kid to plan for, but we still know what we need and, somewhat less important, what we would like in a home.

The condo with the green dining room ceiling is the sort of place that any friends or family would look at and say, “Yep, that’s them,” so we applied for it, and now the wait begins. Again.

Apartment hunting around here is a new game. Back in the old days, in the old home state, if you wanted an apartment you applied for it and the only real question was, typically, when you could get the keys.

Out here, apartment hunting is a competitive sport. It’s not enough to have good credit and a security deposit, you have to be the first to apply, the first to drop off said security deposit (only accepted in certified payment format, such as cashier’s check or money order, which means a trip to your bank or the grocery store, the latter often requiring that you hold that $1,500 cash in your hot little hands), the best at making sure the realtor has all your information to “help make a decision,” the most excited about the place when you do view it in case you decide later it’s what you want after all, and hopefully no one who knew the owner in college has a neighbor whose kid’s best friend from growing up is looking for a place in DC because then your only chance of getting the place, with that wrench thrown in, is if The Other Person works part-time for a small community organizing group. That’s where working for the big guys weighs in your favor.

Also, being married helps, as does a willingness to sign a long lease. Like, two or three years.

So yesterday afternoon we dropped off our application for a two-year lease at this wonderful little place and today we woke up early to get all of our ducks in a row to do battle with our credit unions, one of which has very stringent lending/debit requirements and is out-of-state, and the other of which is right here but in which account we keep exactly $65. The application fee alone is $80, and that’s cheap.

Yesterday we talked through all possibilities for getting the money from the out-of-state account into a money order in Virginia. We could…

1. Go to Wal-Mart and see if they would give me a money order using my debit card which we run as credit and is attached to the account with all the money. But they require a PIN-based debit and again, we run ours as credit for added security.

2. Call the out-of-state credit union and find out if they will issue a PIN over the phone. Although I tried that two years ago and not only will they not issue one, you have to make the original request for a PIN in person. 800 miles away.

3. Go to the local credit union and see if they can call the OOS credit union to transfer funds so they are immediately available. This seemed dicey at best.

4. Go to the local credit union with a check written to ourselves from the OOS account and see if we can deposit it with no two-day hold on the funds so we can get a cashier’s check rightthissecond. We thought this would be our best bet.

5. Go to the local credit union with a check written to ourselves from the OOS account, cash it, and take the dollars to the grocery store. This was a close second.

6. Find out if the realtor will accept a PayPal payment. They don’t.

So this morning the husband and I drove to his work together and from there traipsed along to the credit union to see what they could, please oh please, help us with so we could be the first ones to get our security deposit to the realtor in Alexandria.

Well. It turns out that none of our 6 Main Plans (with variations of each upon which I did not expound here) was necessary. We strolled up to the teller at the local credit union, told her our situation, and asked if we could deposit a check from one CU to the next, and have the funds available immediately.

She did us one better–turns out our two credit unions do shared branching, which means they can provide services to a member of either CU as if that member is standing at the CU he or she is a member of. Follow that? Since we are members of both, she typed in both account numbers and had two cashier’s checks printed for us in less than five minutes. No transfers, no phone calls, no checks written to ourselves, no holding of funds. She stamped our certified funds, put them in an envelope for us, and sent us on our merry way.

With the checks safely delivered to the realtor ahead of other interested parties (I hope–it was 10 am on a Monday, and we were the first to drop off an application at 2 pm on a Sunday) now all we do is wait and trust that as quickly and smoothly as everything has come together so far, we will get the right place for us at exactly the right time.

But I still really want it to be the condo with the green ceiling.