I love my job and one of the things I love about it is the perks. In September, when I was 6 months pregnant, I learned we were offering 6 months of paid time off to parents. One other perk nested in there was that my company was offering memberships to a company called Cleo, which offers pregnancy and postpartum guidance through experts. Always wanting to take advantage of free things, I scrolled through the list of topics and one that resonated with me was advice on how to prepare big siblings for little siblings. It’s a topic that was weighing heavily on me as I realized how much we were going to be disrupting Harrison’s world, so I set up time with an expert. The call was a 1:1 with a psychologist and was really great. I got a lot of great nuggets out of the conversation and shared them with my husband, who was on Harrison duty during the call. I’d read before that often when you’re in labor your contractions will slow down when you get to the hospital due to the bright lights. I was surprised when the psychologist also mentioned that contractions typically slow when you leave the house and leave your child/ren behind. Knowing how fast and furious my contractions were last time, I didn’t think much of it.
One complicated thing about this pregnancy has been nailing down a due date and I’ve been given two: December 30th and January 6th. I’ve always gone by the earlier one, knowing I could fall back to the later one when convenient (like when flying late in the pregnancy or preventing being induced).
My sister arrived late last Wednesday (26th) with her daughter to help take care of Harrison when the time came and I went into labor. Right on cue, last Friday I had my “39/40 week” checkup and learned, to the shock of my doctor, I was 5 cm dilated and unlikely to still be pregnant by the end of the weekend. That afternoon at my non-stress test I learned I was also having consistent contractions, every 10 minutes. It helped me recognize the pressure of these early contractions to now know what to look for. The nurse flagged a doctor for review and after waiting for her blessing to leave, in spite of having contractions, I promised to come back if the contractions got worse or my water broke, given they didn’t think it would be a long labor. These contractions continued into the evening on Friday, again Saturday afternoon and evening, and Sunday afternoon and evening. Each night we’d prep Harrison that mommy and daddy might not be there when he woke up, but Aunt Kari and Brielle would be while we were at the hospital having the baby. You could visibly tell that stressed him out as he’d lay awake, not falling asleep, and would call for us in the middle of the night. And, shortly after bedtime is when the contractions would stop.
I didn’t have any contractions Monday and Tuesday and that started to worry me. Combined with the fact that my sister and her daughter had been here for almost a week with no action, I was starting to stress. We had booked them on a one-way ticket so they could go home after the baby was born, but hadn’t thought about what happened if the baby was overdue. I finally asked my sister the fateful question of when she’d told her work she’d be back and she told me Monday, the 6th.
Thankfully the contractions came back Wednesday (2nd), but ended again early into the evening. Desperate and having tried most old wives tales to naturally induce labor, I scheduled an acupuncture session to promote labor on Thursday. Upon leaving the acupuncturist, the contractions started again. That evening I also had a “40/41 week” doctor’s appointment. I had inquired to his nurse earlier in the day to see if they could do a membrane sweep to attempt to promote labor. She said the doctor typically wouldn’t as he liked to see things progress naturally, but would check with him. She later called back and confirmed that the doctor would not, but was happy to talk to me about it. I couldn’t get an appointment with any other doctor for the week, so I had no choice but to keep my appointment. At the appointment the doctor was shocked when he realized I was 6-7 cm dilated, admitting he’d assumed the doctor from the previous week was inaccurate. He also confirmed the baby had dropped and was in station 0, at my pelvis. He gave me a membrane sweep and offered induction options for me to think about since he couldn’t give me an answer on why this baby hadn’t been born yet. He was as puzzled as me.
By the time I got home the contractions were coming pretty fast and furious along with cramping. I found myself unable to sit and wanting to do the familiar pacing. I was convinced the baby was coming and had my husband verify he had everything ready for the hospital. In pain, it was time to read Harrison his bedtime stories, which I decided I wanted to muster through for his sake. By the time I finished and said goodnight to Harrison, the contractions stopped. Disappointed, I went to bed, hoping maybe I could will the contractions to start up again. It didn’t work.
Now here we are two days before my later due date, with my sister leaving in less than 48 hours to fly back to Wisconsin and not having held her new niece or nephew. The guilt and stress are destroying me along with the panic of what we do for childcare for Harrison if the baby comes after my sister leaves. In the midst of all these emotions, I can’t decide if this baby is just being extremely inconsiderate or if my love for Harrison is preventing by body from letting him/her enter this world.
I write you this letter as your last Christmas as our only child. And, while I look forward to meeting this new addition to our family, it also breaks my heart to think about how much is about to change in your world that you won’t be able to understand right now.
You have brought your dad and I so much joy in just 2.5 years. You have taught us the meaning of unconditional love with your innocence and constant affection. You have expanded what we believed to be our capacity to love and taught us how to be selfless people. You have even taught us how to love each other differently than we did before. You made us a family and you made us parents. And, you did all of this by just being yourself. You’re a very special child and are absolutely perfect.
Since you were born we’ve realized that you alone are enough for us. There is nothing else we could ask for in this world right now. However, we felt it was unfair to keep you to ourselves and not give you a sibling to grow up with. Because of this, we decided to give you the gift of a brother or sister. We keep telling you that this is your baby and I hope you know s/he is. They are going to be your best friend, your new family, and your constant tie to your father and me. And while things will be hard in the beginning and we’ll all be making sacrifices, know that this child is going to look to you with the love and adoration we do. And, we hope you shower him/her the same love and affection you show us daily.
Harrison, we love you with all our hearts and look forward to the memories you guys will make together.
Mom and Dad
Saturday is my grandfather’s funeral and unfortunately I’m not going to be there to say my final goodbye to him. It especially saddens me because it’s not just goodbye to him, but goodbye family traditions that he and my late grandmother worked hard to uphold.
I feel like there were four Roger Rech’s in this world – the life before kids, the life with kids, the life with grandkids, and the life without my grandmother.
I obviously never knew the Roger Rech before kids, but I like to think that life started when he met my grandmother in high school. He and Grandma would talk lightly of it, especially when they would talk about my great Aunt Kate that they went to high school with. It wasn’t until after my grandmother died that Grandpa would open up about stories of his time in the military and missing my grandmother. At one time he shared with me a picture of my young grandmother sitting on a car. While it would seem like an ordinary picture, you could see the picture was folded and he explained that he kept it in his wallet and it was what kept him going during his military time while he missed my Grandmother. He said Grandma was proud of the car she had purchased for him with my Great Grandma Lela and both were waiting for him to return. You could hear the love and longing for my grandmother as he told those stories.
The second Roger Rech was the father of seven children. Again, this time was before me. Interestingly, this was also not a time he shared stories of, but my parents and aunts and uncles did. I knew a few things were important to him, which he instilled in his children: agriculture, hard work, saving, family, and education. I believe he’s proud of how his children have helped to instill these in their children.
The third was Grandpa Rech and the one I got to grow up with. During this time the household duties were still split with Grandma spending much of the time in the house with Grandpa outside on the farm. Grandpa would come into the house every day to eat and in the afternoons to nap on the living room floor. When he came in he’d always ask about our sewing projects and want an update on school. On rainy or winter days I realized his knowledge capacity when I’d find him reading the Encyclopedias for fun or crushing a game of Jeopardy on the computer. For fun, he’d also come out for a game of basketball or sledding with us and seemed ageless. Given his passion for farming, he taught the next generations what he knew and loved spending time on the farm with the grandkids. He’d find a common interest with each of us, whether baling hay or introducing us to the new farm kittens. He’d also let us keep our animals there after we moved off the farm and give us regular updates on how they were doing. This was my favorite part because it gave me an excuse to talk to Grandpa and make conversation, jealous of the farming time my brothers got to spend with him.
The last Roger Rech was the one without my grandmother. This stage started before we lost my grandmother, but as she was sick. I remember watching both their patience as she taught him how to cook and bake his favorite recipes, knowing one day it would be a skill he would need. This is when Grandpa also showed his tender side and started taking over all the traditions that Grandma had upheld for the family. He’d send a card with a heartfelt letter for every birthday, telling a story about what was happening on the farm. He even did this the day my son, Harrison, was born, talking about what was happening and his wish to teach Harrison how to drive the farm truck as he got older. In Grandpa’s mind, he was always going to be there and I think we all believed the same. Every time I would come home to Wisconsin to visit, Grandpa always prioritized the time to come into town to visit and get updates on our lives. He was never too busy and nothing was ever more important.
I think that’s why it pains me to not be there for the funeral. My life got too busy and his time ended before I could make it back and show my respects. I hope that as he looks down on my life, he feels pride in how I raise my children with the same values he taught his children and grandchildren. Our family was blessed to know him and further blessed to learn from him. His legacy will live on in all of us.
Last Friday was the 15 year anniversary of my paternal Grandmother’s death. When I was a teenager I grew very close with her. She taught me how to sew and I would spend long days at her house creating clothing masterpieces under her guidance. When I was 16, I worked with her to make my prom dress and matching men’s vest and bow tie. By this point, she taught me how to make up my own patterns and we created it into what I wanted it to look like (pure late 90’s style). I remember how proud she was when she came to my prom and heard the compliments on my dress. I then took it to our annual sewing competition and my dress got picked to be modeled at our State Fair. She was beaming. She also worked at our local school as a lunch lady, so I got to see her daily and would always walk to the cafeteria when I knew she was on a break with the other ladies. One of my teachers told me I was the apple of her eye. I got engaged to my prom date and we said we were going to get married on October 23, 2004. Grandma and I promised we’d make my wedding dress.
When I was 18 I left my parent’s home and eventually moved to Madison. I also left that old prom date behind and found other love interests. During this time my relationship with my grandmother changed and grew more distant. In my mind, I was too busy to come back to my hometown all the time or take the time to see her. She had also been battling colon cancer and I found myself avoiding her even more as I didn’t want to admit that I wasn’t emotionally prepared to see her that way. When I was 20 I learned he had developed pneumonia and went to my hometown hospital to see her. My mom and sister knew what was happening and told me she was dying. I remember seeing her and feeling like she was a stranger – she looked like an old lady gasping for air, not my light-hearted grandmother. I was uncomfortable being at the hospital and chose to take a previously planned long weekend trip to Detroit to watch a Packers/Lions game. We were on our way home when I got the call to say she died and learned her funeral would be on my old wedding date, with a groom and a wedding dress that never happened.
I never really mourned her at the funeral or after she died. I was too busy with my life and this lady wasn’t my grandmother.
In April of 2007, I learned my maternal grandfather was dying. However, this death was different. I was still living in Madison and they had moved him home to live out his final days. No one thought or wanted to call me in his final hours, probably assuming I would flake out again like I had with my Grandmother. When I learned of his death, it was less about the death and more about what happened as he died. He had such a humble presence, yet a giant presence when he left us. Everyone in the house could feel the energy when he left. Even the dog knew. After he died it was very evident to the family that he was still with us. The first Christmas, my mother hosted, and every person that took pictures had the ghost orbs in the pictures. In big events following his death, people would still find the orbs as an indication that he was still with us. When my niece had to be delivered very premature, my aunt called us out of the blue to tell us of her psychic friend told her that Grandpa was there for my mom that day because she was going through a rough time. We then told my Aunt about our new niece and how they had to deliver her early. He was there. He knew. And, he made it known to us.
Instead of being grateful for this gift of my grandfather’s continued presence I found myself just getting angrier. Where was my grandmother? Why wasn’t she here? My grandfather was a great man, but so was my grandmother. Why did he possess this ability to still communicate with us, but she didn’t? Did she not want to? Was it because of how I had behaved in her final years and days?
On September 20th of this year, my four-year wedding anniversary, I learned my paternal grandfather had been found unconscious and was rushed to the hospital. Even though I was now living 1,000 miles away, I rushed to pick up my son and get on a flight to see him in Madison, not knowing what to expect as an outcome. My KISA was unfortunately in San Francisco for a work trip, celebrating his company’s IPO, so I had no choice but to take my son with me. Thankfully, if my son has access to YouTube the rest of the world doesn’t seem to exist. While I spent hours at the hospital, so did my son. Apparently, during this time my son still noticed what was going on. He knew it was Grandpa and he knew that he had a tube in his mouth helping him breathe or an “owie” in two-year-old terms. He also noticed the “yucky water” draining from him in the various tubes. Through the ventilator, now tracheotomy, and pacemaker my grandfather is still physically with us. We get message updates on his health, that seems to change day by day and week by week.
Out of the blue on Sunday, my son started talking about my grandpa again – a month later. This morning when he woke up he declared he wanted to go see Grandpa in the hospital. He is obviously on his mind. At the same time, I’m receiving text updates on a bacteria my grandfather has caught that is antibiotic resistant. This evening, my KISA and I were in the dining room and we hear my son having a conversation with someone. Granted, he’s still young for pretend, so we weren’t really sure what was going on or who he was talking to. My KISA went in and my son shared he was talking to Grandma and Grandpa at the hospital with owies. As I hear this, I’m trying to hold it together. I go in and say, “You’re talking to Grandma and Grandpa?” to which he replies, “They’re over there”, pointing to the corner. I lost my composure and immediately texted my mom to share this with her. She asked if I had any pictures of my late grandmother to show Harrison to see if he would know who she was. I pulled out a picture from my graduation with my grandmother and I and asked if he knew who was in the picture. He pointed to me and said, “Mommy” and then pointed to my late grandmother and said, “Grandma”. I asked if that was who he was talking to earlier and he got really excited and said, “YES!”. We then went through some other pictures and he saw a picture of my mother and referred to her as “Other Grandma”.
I learned my grandfather was alone at the hospital at the time and my mother did some quick thinking and called to check in on him. The nurse confirmed was still there and had just smiled at her. He’s still with us, but somehow my son believes he was physically here with us in Boston along with my late grandmother. I believe him too. And, I’m grateful my grandmother has finally found us.
Over 5.5 years California became my home. Wisconsin was the home that built me, but California was the place where I grew as a person and my KISA and I grew as a family. It’s where our careers flourished and our dreams grew. It’s where we saved every penny we had to buy an expensive home from dirty hoarders and then continued to save every penny to make it a home and an investment. It was the home I paced around for hours, doing laps, on the evening of April 10th as I went into labor. It’s the home we brought HR to from the hospital, realizing we had no idea what we were doing and no local family to guide us. It’s the home where HR took his first steps and soon ran laps around the same circular layout I paced in the evening I went into labor. It’s the home he spent every other week in with his best friend, Iggy, and second mom, our nanny, living a second life and a second language outside his parents.
It’s also a home that in a few years HR may not have memories of, outside of the pictures he sees. It’s a nanny and best friend he may not remember. It’s a life he’ll struggle to recall, regardless of how great or foundational it was. Yet, that doesn’t seem to stop the guilt of tearing him away from the familiarity he has learned and the second family he loves. He’s not going to understand that it’s all for him – to be close to a set of grandparents and have access to some of the best public schools in the nation. Or to realize the sacrifices we’re making in our personal lives and our careers to make this happen. He’s two. All he’s going to know is that he misses his best friend and nanny and can’t understand why he can’t get in the car to see them. His heartbreak is my heartbreak, but maybe if I pretend to be brave he will be too.
We were in the final stages of buying our house when we learned that the owner’s father had died in it. Normally that would alarm most buyers, but when you’re on the eve of buying your first house in a ridiculous market in the Bay Area, you don’t even give it a second thought.
Since moving in, my KISA and I have believed there’s a ghost in the house, mostly just by sensation. After having our son that thought was mostly confirmed. Our son apparently thinks Casper is a friendly ghost and will often “whooo” or give a gummy smile off into nothingness. You’ll look over your shoulder, realize nothing is there, but pretend like he was talking to the closet or wall and it’s totally normal.
About a month ago my KISA came home to what he believed was someone leaving the house out the back slider at the same time. It kind of freaked him out for obvious reasons, but the alarm system didn’t catch it.
Now tonight, I was dead asleep when I felt someone put their hand on my leg. Obviously I woke up, fully expecting my KISA to be waking me to tell me something about our son. And no one was there. They say a ghost’s presence is cold. Well, my adrenaline kicked in so much I was sweating, so I would have welcomed any coldness. Instead, I laid under the covers with my eyes closed in hopes that could be enough to protect me from whatever or whoever lurks in our house.
They say that when you’re pregnant you intuitively know. I didn’t. Maybe it was because I had an unreasonably easy pregnancy. Outside of the growing stomach, the only symptom I had was the occasional nausea from going too long without eating.
At my 6 week postpartum checkup I decided to get another IUD, knowing the immediate success we had when I’d gotten it removed before. Plus the almost 100% chance of preventing pregnancy was a high selling point for me. I had a lot of bleeding afterwards, which hadn’t happened to me before, but after talking to my neighbor about her very similar experience I decided it was probably normal combined with postpartum.
Around this time my KISA started asking me how long I wanted to wait until baby #2. Stressed out and sleep deprived I kept avoiding the conversation and told him I didn’t want to talk about it. One day he told me I couldn’t avoid it forever. I thought to myself, “Yeah, we’ll see.”
I’d always thought I wanted four kids, no doubt. Having met my KISA, who was a two kid guy, I compromised on two, knowing in the back of my head I’d be able to convince him on number three when the time came and maybe then God’s good graces would give us twins. (Mind you this was before I’d had kids and naively thought that would be cool.)
I started a new job a month ago. I really like the job and am very happy I made the move. It gives me new challenges and I welcome the distraction from feeling like I abandoned my son at daycare. However, I’ve noticed every night I feel wiped. I started going to bed between 8 – 8:30 every night and then get up to feed my son between midnight and 1 pm, again around 4 pm, and then he’s typically up between 6:30 and 7 am. I still feel sluggish every afternoon and am concerned that I may have to welcome caffeine back into my life.
Four weeks ago I had to get surgery on my mouth. I’ve had three root canals on a tooth that just doesn’t seem to take. This was a last-ditch effort to try and save the tooth instead of having it removed and getting a transplant. The surgery caused a lot of pain and I was on pain killers for eight days and penicillin for ten days. I found I was nauseous some afternoons and would have headaches, which was unusual for me, but I chalked it up to either lack of sugar in the afternoons or else due to the meds.
Recently I’ve found that I’ll feel movement in my stomach. It’s eerie because it’s a similar fluttery feeling to when I was pregnant with my son. Tonight as I was thinking about it I thought to myself, “Am I pregnant?” I recalled how my instincts failed me the first time and how I’ve been having these crazy pregnancy symptoms. Maybe all the bleeding was a sign that the IUD had pulled out? I started calculating how far along I could potentially be. 16 weeks. Fuck. I started feeling my son really move at 18 weeks, and that was mostly because I didn’t know what I was feeling until then. My mind flashed to a picture I’d seen on Facebook last week of an 11 month old girl with her newborn brother/sister. I specifically remember it because I’d told my KISA that would be my worst nightmare. I don’t even care to create a timeline on #2 until my son sleeps through the night. Until then how are you expected to think clearly?
I realized that my limited amount of sleep was going to be considerably less tonight if I didn’t just take a pregnancy test. My KISA, having apparently failed 7th grade Health class, asked how it would even be possible. I kept telling myself I probably wasn’t, but had an adrenaline rush as I rummaged around in the closet looking for the leftover pregnancy test I knew as in there. Naturally, as I was taking the test my son woke up, so I had to let it sit and decide my fate while I put him back to sleep. As I waited I was trying to understand what I would feel if I was indeed pregnant. Excitement? Dread?
Thankfully I won’t have to worry about the answer to that question. Negative. Maybe I should schedule a follow-up doctor’s appointment just to make sure the IUD is still in there…
Sunday night neither my KISA nor I got much sleep in part because we couldn’t stop thinking about the house and the other part because I’d come down with a terrible cold and was sniffling all night. Around 5 am we gave up with trying to sleep and instead starting doing individual planning on the house before work. On my mind was that smell. Granted, we had hardwood floors coming in two weeks after we moved in, but there was no way I could sleep in that room (or possibly the entire upstairs) until that happened. And, I was worried about what would happen if the hardwood floors didn’t mask the smell. Since replacing all our subfloors was out of the question, I started researching solutions to cover it up and remembered my father-in-law telling us about a Kilz product when we remodeled our last house that had smelled like smoke. After reading a couple of blog entries, I found the exact type of Kilz we needed to get rid of pet smells on wood. At the same time I told my KISA about it I saw he had the same product page up on his phone. We were on the same wavelength and knew something needed to happen. I was also worried that while the carpets were up in the master and hallway, they were not in the other bedrooms. What would those subfloors smell like? There was only one way to find out. We both agreed that if we bought the Kilz early enough, before the painters came, maybe we could convince them to apply it for us as well. The local Home Depot to our new house opened at 6 am and I had a 7 am call scheduled. In fact, I had a packed day and felt like absolute crap. So, I did what any other woman on a mission would do – I called in sick for the day. Granted, I had one late morning meeting and two afternoon meetings I needed to attend remotely, but it would give me time to get some things done and an afternoon to rest. My KISA also let his boss know he was going to be out for the morning.
We stopped to get some coffee for my KISA and then headed to the Home Depot. I asked the guys at the paint counter their opinion on Kilz and their solution was to actually put straight bleach on the subfloors, buy a scrubber brush, and scrub it around. He said that if you did that the Kilz was merely an optional additional step. I made sure my KISA was paying attention to this since we both knew I wasn’t going to be doing it (bleach and babies don’t mix). We weren’t going to take any chances and bought a gallon of bleach, a scrubber brush, four quarts of oil based Kilz (they only came in quarts), and a heavy-duty dust mask for myself.
When we got back to the house my husband got to work at removing all the intercom cords, wrapping each wire with electrical tape, and then patching each hole. And, he did this five times over to cover all the interior rooms with intercoms. (Of course there are three of them on the outside of our house as well.) I put on my dust mask and got to work pulling up the carpeting and padding in the nursery and spare bedroom. As I pulled it up I was happy I had done it as I realized the pet urine had essentially glued all the padding to the floors. I was literally jamming my feet at it, trying to get it to come up in a lot of spots. And the soot that was below the padding was equally as disgusting.
My KISA took a break from his work to help me carry the two bundles of carpeting outside onto a pseudo deck that would later need to be removed. When I saw all the soot that was remaining on the subfloors I knew I had to take another Home Depot run to buy a ShopVac as a broom was not going to even be feasible.
When I got back I vacuumed up as much as I could and then went to work with a crowbar to lift all the nailed down carpet tacking in each room. During this time the seller stopped back as she had a Bagster that was being picked up, holding a lot of her debris. When the WasteManagement guy pulled up to dispose of it I asked if we could throw that extra carpeting on top of her things and he obliged since I was pregnant and it wasn’t over the weight limit. I figure if we weren’t charging her additional rent to get her stuff out I wasn’t going to feel guilty for doubling up on her investment. (As a side note, by this point in time she had moved everything out of the house and into the garage and backyard so that she wouldn’t get in the way of the painters…who thankfully called that morning requesting to start a day later as they had to finish up some touches at another place.)
The head painter had swung by before we had to leave to assess all the paint we’d purchased and to make sure he understood what was expected. At that point in time we also negotiated for him to paint the interior of all the closets, the bedroom ceilings, and the Kilz on the floors, none of which were agreed to, for a mere $100.
We left the Oakland house feeling better about our situation. We had to get back to the city for my KISA to get to work and for me to get some rest (runny noses and dust masks don’t mix very well). I also had to order a couple extra gallons of paint for the ceiling, closets, and trim as the painter was worried he’d come up short. I took it easy all afternoon before heading downtown to pick up my husband after work to go finish up our work at the house.
When we got to the house I still had to finish the tacking in the spare bedroom and my KISA had to get to work bleaching the floors once I was done. We had thought to go to Home Depot before that to buy a new floor lamp to have some light while we finished. We’d just gotten back from grabbing some dinner before the last push and were at the house. This is when my newfound pregnancy experience happened. I had my dust mask on and from out of nowhere I had three strong sneezes in a row. Granted, I’d been sneezing all day from the cold, but evidentially not with a full bladder. And not out of nowhere. So, I wet my pants. I called for my KISA as I stood there in total shock. Him being the sweetheart he is offered up the jeans he’d worn to work. I’m not sure even my pre-pregnancy body would have fit into them, but it was kind of him to offer. And, everyone knows that when you wet your pants it’s more your underwear that make you uncomfortable than your pants. Or at least I’d just learned that. So, I took advantage of the high waist on the maternity jeans and pulled them down low-rider style while I waited for them to dry. At least my KISA hadn’t bleached the already pee-riddled floors before that.
On Saturday night when we went back to the house it was mostly vacant. We had to order our paint for the painters, even though we hadn’t truly gotten to sample the paint colors. When I say “truly”, I mean I got to slap them on the walls at 6 pm that night when each of the bedrooms and living room were dark, forgetting that all the light switches powered outlets, not light fixtures. They looked ok wet by the light of our phones and there wasn’t much more we could do. My amazing KISA had found a coupon for $5 off each Benjamin Moore gallon, so I took the liberty of ordering them all online that night for pickup Sunday morning. I found that it allowed the discount for only up to five gallons, so I placed multiple orders to the local hardware store. When you’re buying 15+ gallons of paint, every dollar counts.
We got up early Sunday morning and I called the local hardware store shortly after they opened to get a timeline. Of course they didn’t have the right base for the master bedroom color I’d picked out, but were helpful at calling their other stores upon my persistent suggestion to see if they stocked the base. Luckily there was one on the way to Oakland that we could swing into. When I was told our paint would be ready I swung in to the hardware store with my KISA waiting in the car while it rained. I spent the next 45 minutes waiting for the clerk to figure out how to ring up my orders because the dollar amount didn’t match how it was ringing up. I really tried to be patient, in hopes the karma would pay off in the day ahead. Thankfully at the other location, with our master bedroom paint, I was literally able to swing in and swing out. They didn’t seem concerned about the price not matching and let me go on my way.
By the time we made it to the house neither my KISA nor I were in an especially happy mood given the crappy weather and the extended time it took to start our day. I realized I was going to have to sacrifice the Packers game that afternoon to get done what we needed to do. The seller stopped by to continue loading her belongings, so I tried to ignore her and go about my day. My day was going to consist of pulling all the nails and screws out of the walls and washing down the walls. My husband’s day was consisting
of doing other cleaning and inspecting the 80’s intercom system that was in every single room to figure out how to remove it. I went about my business, realizing how disgusting a person’s place could be. I know my KISA thought I was just being anal with the walls until I showed him what I was washing off. It was everything from smoke residue from all the incense burning to food remnants on the walls to filth from the knees and below from the dogs. I was fearful that with the ridiculously low price we were paying the painters that they wouldn’t spend any time washing the walls and would rather just paint over the lumpiness.
While I was going about my business my KISA made a couple of trips to Home Depot. During his time he bought all the products to not only patch the intercom system holes, but to also put a knock-down texturizer over the top to make it look like the texture on the rest of our walls. He’d also made a return trip at my request to buy an electrical tester so that my child wouldn’t be born without a father.
By the time he returned from his second trip, not yet started on his project, I was five hours into scrubbing the walls and removing wall hangings and had finally made it upstairs. Upon working upstairs I realized that the disgust of the walls was only getting worse, not better. And, that the seller burned all the incense and removed the carpeting on the steps and in the master because her four housedogs peed everywhere. And, since the carpeting had been removed, that now meant they’d also peed all over the subfloors. Being 22 weeks pregnant at the time my sense of smell was rather acute and I didn’t know what we were going to do once we moved in. So, my hormones took over and I started crying. My poor KISA came leaping
upstairs, wondering what was going on and if the baby was ok. Between sobs I explained to him how dirty the house was, how tired I was, and how awful the smell was. We had also run out of daylight again and I didn’t feel like the house was ready for the painters to come. My KISA grabbed the washcloth from me and did a quick scrub job of the three bedrooms that weren’t Sarah-quality, but I was too exhausted to care. We had dinner plans with our newly engaged friends that night and someone coming to our apartment to buy our old mattress, so we had no choice but to leave the house and call good-enough good enough.
In case you’re interested, here are the paint colors we picked:
- Dining Room: Louisburg Green
- Living Room: Sandy Hook Gray
- Downstairs Bathroom, Downstairs Hallway, Laundry Room, Upstairs Hallway, and Upstairs Bathroom: Elmira White
- Master Bedroom: Yarmouth Blue
- Spare Bedroom: Van Courtland Blue
- Nursery: Hollingsworth Green
- Trim, Ceilings, and Closets: Simply White
Our home remodel is officially under way! We did a rent-back to the seller while she moved her items out. She was a pseudo-hoarder and was moving into an apartment, so appreciated the extra time. She informed us she would be out the 11th of December; so we set up time with her at 10 am on the 12th (Saturday) to do our final walk-through, get the keys, etc. We also brought our paint samples, as our first project was to finalize our paint colors and remove any nails/screw holes before the painters came on Monday. (Between my KISA’s herniated disk and dislike for painting combined with my pregnancy we decided it was probably best to keep that to the professionals since we were repainting every room in the house.
As we were preparing to leave our apartment to head to the house, the seller texted to see if we could back-up the walk-through to noon so that she could finish some cleaning up she wanted to do before we took over. Appreciating her desire to help us clean up, obviously we obliged. During this time drought-ridden San Francisco received a massive down pouring of rain…that wouldn’t stop. Our apartment master bedroom doesn’t have a window, but instead a patio door going out to our little enclosed patio/light well. As the rain kept coming down we noticed the gutter at the rooftop was blocked as the water level kept rising on our patio. There is a small drain on the patio, but there was enough plant debris and leaves that it was being blocked. As the rainwater was reaching the bottom of our patio door, that’s a good six inches above the patio, the reality hit that a bedroom flooding would mean ruining our brand-new king-size mattress that was on the floor – as the new bed was being delivered to the Oakland house. I called the apartment manager to let them know if the situation and then grabbed my goulashes and rain jacket. I found my way to the blocked drain as the sheets of rain tried to knock me on my behind. Thankfully I was able to swish enough of the plant debris away from the drain long enough to watch the water recede away from the door. Crisis averted, or at least temporarily.
We made our way to the new Oakland house and were rather surprised to see a U-Haul in the driveway with people milling about our new house. We found the seller inside with a house full of furniture. She’d originally told us she would be out the Monday before, but apparently things hadn’t gone as planned. She told us the guy she’d hired to help with the move the day prior didn’t come back after lunch. The seller said she expected about four more U-Haul trips before everything could be moved out. I was rather annoyed to say the least since we had things we wanted to do in our house, but there wasn’t much we could do about the situation.
As we were turning to leave and go kill time I realized all the appliances were gone. And I don’t mean just the washer and dryer, but also the stove and refrigerator. Already annoyed I confronted her about where they were. Nonchalantly she informed us she sold them. I told her it was in our contract, in fact itemized out. She denied it. And then started crying. The seller is a god-loving woman and I knew would never intentionally try to screw us over. During the home inspection the seller had made a comment to my KISA about selling the stove, which we immediately had our realtor take up with her realtor. We later had written e-mail communication from her realtor saying that if the stove were gone that she’d be forced to replace it. Apparently the realtor never spoke with the seller about this or any of the other appliances.
We left the house to go sit in the car and try to figure out what in the hell we were going to do about the circumstances. We’d already scheduled the painters to come that Monday and the movers to come to our place the following Saturday. In addition to that, I’d given notice to our apartment complex that we’d be out by the 24th and had hired a house cleaner to come to our apartment the following Monday. There was no way we couldn’t continue with our planned time-line. The next concern was how do you move into a house without appliances? Would we have to throw out all our perishable items and live without a stove and refrigerator for a while? Replacing the appliances was definitely not in the budget.
We decided our next course of action would be to call the listing agent to understand why the appliances were gone when we’d already called out to her that it was in our contract. The listing agent began with trying to deny that it was in our contract or that she didn’t know anything about the appliances being a concern…until we informed her that we had in writing the communication between her and our agent discussing it. She told us she’d have to review the contract in a few hours and that we should determine the value of the missing appliances. We followed up this conversation with a call to our buying agent to let her know. She pulled the contract while we were on the phone and recited what I’d remembered, with them all being listed. In addition to that, she forwarded us the countersigned copy of the contract along with the picture of the kitchen to help guide us with the appliances. She also told us that we needed to determine the REPLACEMENT value of the appliances, not the actual value, like the listing agent stated. We felt better about that and chose to look at it as a blessing in disguise as we now got to pick new appliances, minus the replacement value of her like items.
We spent the reminder of the day at Home Depot and Best Buy researching her appliances along with our choices for appliances. Being a couple weeks post Black Friday we realized we missed out on all the appliance deals and were somewhat limited on the stock of appliances to be delivered in the next week to have when we moved in. We knew there would have to be a bit of negotiation with the seller and listing agent on the value of the replacement of those appliances (the seller admitted she sold them all for next to nothing), but decided we had to take the plunge and order all the appliances to have before Christmas. We weren’t going to let a lack of appliances ruin our Christmas plans…