Friday, July 23, 2010

at which point it helps to have a VERY good attitude

So. Today.

We met with a Realtor.

It didn't go so well.

But wait, before I go there ... let me back up.

Charlie and I decided that it would behoove us to hire a baby sitter for the triplets since dragging four children all over Northern Virginia to look at ridiculously overpriced homes in 100+ degree temperatures would go well for about twenty seven seconds.

As luck would have it, one of my co-workers has a 14- (almost 15) year old daughter who loves to baby sit. And she was available today. So we called her, hired her, and Charlie drove over to pick her up early this morning.

(If you consider 8:50 early. Which we do, because our bodies are still on Pacific Time.)

Although her name is "Becca", our children insisted on calling her "Sarah" for reasons that I do not understand, but I think are hilarious, nonetheless. We'd practice with them by saying, "Guys. This is Becca. Let me hear you say BECCA BECCA BECCA BECCA BECCA."

They'd repeat it, verbatim.


Then I'd point and ask, "What's her name?" And they'd look at her and very casually say, "Sarah." So we left our five-year-olds with Sarah and carted Henry off with us to the Realtor.

Imagine our glee as we plugged her address in to our GPS and began the drive to her office which is located approximately 10 miles north. After driving 15 miles, we realized that we were heading west, not NORTH, and wha....?!

Note to self: It might have REALLY helped if we'd had our six-year-old dash mounted GPS updated before we moved in to an area that makes me feel like we're navigating a noodle in a messy and construction ridden bowl of spaghetti.

We arrive at the Realtor's office an hour late. She shows us a few properties on line and then we take Henry's carseat from our van and put it in her beautiful and spotless BMW X5. Henry proceeds to kick the living bejeezus out of the bottle fed cow leather hide driver seat while I try to distract him. She drives us through one neighborhood after another. All told we looked at 15 homes today. Only one showed a remote hint of promise. The drawback(s) are that the kitchen is approximately 25% the size of our California home kitchen, the layout is crazy funky, and when you stand in the backyard, you can clearly hear the never ending traffic on the 66 freeway, which is approximately 500 feet away.

That was the BEST home we saw. And, to buy that home would give us a mortgage payment approximately TWICE what we owe each month in our California home. Not including property taxes. Good times.

We drive back to the hotel. We pay our 14-year old babysitter $100.00 for watching our children for 8.5-hours ... because the going rate is $10.00 per hour and Charlie was generous enough to offer her $12.00 per hour ... even though the pool is closed until 5 PM, so the kids did little more than watch movies on Charlie's laptop, tune in to PBS Sprout and eat an exorbitant amount of yogurt. And whatever, they were safe and not out being dragged through 15 houses in 100+ degree heat, so it was worth it.

After she left, I logged on to Charlie's new Mac laptop to "electronically sign" the offer papers that came through for our California house. As I'm logging on, I notice that the keyboard is sticky. And there is some kind of liquid (?) on the screen. I call the kids over and ask them what they know about this. William looks at me very sheepishly and says, "Do you promise you won't get mad if I tell you the twooth?"

"Of course I won't get mad, Love!" I reassure him.

"Well, I spilled a little bit of lemonade on it today."

Since the computer was firing up, I thought that maybe whatever lemonade had been spilled was quickly wiped up and all would be well. And then, midway through my electronic signing session, the computer made a popping noise and the screen went black. A puff of smoke came up through the keyboard and I instantly smelled something burning.

I dashed out to tell Charlie what had happened and he immediately went in to shock because ALL of his work information is on that computer and he has a report due to his primary client, yesterday, and his computer hasn't been backed up since we left California.

Charlie runs off to the Apple store, while praying fervently that whatever is ailing his computer is covered by the warranty while I try to cook the children dinner. TRY being the operative word because we have no butter in our tiny apartment and so cooking a cheese quesadilla in a stainless steel pan on a tiny electric stove with NO lubricant didn't go so well. To the point that the smoke detectors went off and I was afraid that the hotel sprinklers would activate.

Just as I'm serving the children strawberries! and bananas! and uncooked flour tortillas! (i.e., any food I could round up that doesn't require cooking), Charlie calls to tell me that when the computer technician opened up his laptop, a small river of lemonade poured out. And oh, as it turns out, liquid damage is not covered by his Apple Care Plan, and his computer (and hence any of his work activities and my ability to upload photos to my blog) will be delayed by approximately seven days and that will cost $1,300.00 thankyouverymuch.

Not included in that is the $200.00 to repair Charlie's iPhone which I inadvertently dropped and SMASHED during our trip to South Carolina.

I'm not entirely sure why Sarah didn't mention that a cup of lemonade was spilled on the shiny new laptop. I definitely need to bring that up tomorrow when she comes back to baby sit the triplets and take them to the hotel pool that will be open at 10:00 AM. Thankfully, they are fantastic swimmers and there is a life guard on duty or we would undoubtedly be dragging them through 100+ degree heat looking at another 15 homes. Once again, it will only be Henry accompanying us. I just need to remember to make sure he is wearing non-mark soles.

Now I must go since I've got a really nice bottle of wine waiting for me.

Where is that straw?


  1. Oh dang, I am so sorry. Really, that just sounds so crummy. I have signed on several times today checking for an update from you. I don't even know you personally but I have worried for your family all day long today!

    Please hang in there and try not to be discouraged.
    Sometimes you gotta get through the storm to get to the rainbow. :-)

  2. STRAW! Don't you mean, funnel?

  3. OMG. I did not think it was even possible for you to move to an area MORE expensive than you are in now. I took a peek at some real estate there and HOLY COW. I could afford a 750 square foot 1 bedroom, 1 bath condo.

    Good luck!!!!!!

  4. I'll say it for you......

    I think you need more wine.

  5. sorry about ur laptop, i had the same thing happen to minds...

  6. I'm praying for you guys!!!!

  7. I've been meaning to leave you a comment to welcome you to the area. I've been reading your blog for some time and find it very entertaining. I moved to Northern Virginia from Oregon 5 years ago and remember feeling the same shock and dismay over housing prices and condition not to mention other quirks about the area. Now it just feels normal and just like home. I hope you find what you are looking for in a home! Good luck! It really is a great area to live once you get settled.

  8. oh - hang in there! it'll get better! really it will!!!!!

  9. Ah Jen - things are not going according to plan huh? Relax - it will work out - you will find a house, and William won't go near the laptop again. Just remember to not be too hard on the babysitter - you know how it is to keep an eye on 3 children at once -damn near impossible!

  10. Oh Lord Jen, I'm ready to cry just reading this! Okay, okay, GOOD attitude - no crying. Hang in there . . . . . . lots of WINE!

  11. Good luck on the house hunt today!

    When you get your computer back, if you don't already have some kind of internet backup & file sharing program, take a look at Dropbox. It's free to 2 GB and it's worked perfectly keeping files in my Dropbox folder synchronized across 3 computers. Also, you can access your files from any computer with internet access, or view and email them from a free iphone app.

    That turned out to sound more like a commercial than I intended :) It's just been very nice to avoid paying $99 per year for Mobile Me.

  12. Good luck the next time you are out looking for a house. Hope the kids have fun in the pool. Sorry about the mishap with the computer.

  13. Seriously, my kitchen was the size of a cubicle in VA - and I bake like a super freak. The one advantage was that my kitchen was never that messy because there isn't enough room for it to get super messy. Also, as I recall, we rarely left our windows open. Maybe in September we would leave them open, because the rest of the year it is too cold or too humid/hot. I can't imagine you'd hear the 66 as much as you'd think. The windows should be pretty well insulated.

  14. I am so sorry to read about all the stress you and Charlie are going through right now. It's still new and all these changes are hard to deal with. Take it one step at a time...any maybe buy one of those spillproof keyboard covers haha.

    I loved your San Diego posts. I adore San Diego and just returned from there a few days ago. I can't wait to see what you find to love in Virginia.

  15. Crappy viewing day, huh? Also, here in the DC area we call them "interstates", not "freeways." ;0)

  16. Check your homeowners insurance for the computer repair. I spilled a bottle of water on my new MacBook Pro and it had to go to the Apple Depot for the $1300 repair. Our homeowners covered all but $250!

  17. I identify 110% with your moving pains...but hang in there, you'll find the right place. When we moved to Virginia in 2004, the inside/outside the beltway debate lasted about 2 minutes because like you, we didn't want to spend hours a day commuting. We gave up on the dream of a single family home with a yard and picket fence because we just couldn't afford it, and instead moved into 3-bedroom townhouse where our "back yard" was a parking lot...But we could walk to Old Town/restaurants/metro, the community had a pool and a playground, and our commutes were a breeze. I'm sure we took advantage of all DC had to offer because we were so was easy to zip in for concerts and museums and parades and such (unlike my co-workers who would "commute" in on a day off). I guess what I'm trying to say is that you know what matters and the right house will come along. Good luck!