I’m good news for the real estate market

So the cold that I had early last week appears to have come back. On Friday afternoon, I started feeling really grotty and went to bed early, having popped a lot of ibuprofen (I should have stock in Advil). This morning, Bucket let me sleep until 8, and then I took Peeta to farm league, and then came home for about two hours (long enough to feed both children and myself, put Noodle down for the world’s shortest nap, supervise Peeta’s creation of a birthday card for his friend, get Noodle up from said nap and get everyone in the car for a birthday party). Then we all went to a totally rad superhero party that involved capes, masks and a whole lot of freeze dancing.

I was feeling okay until we got home, and then I wanted to pass out. Or find a spider hole. Or go sleep in the car, where the children couldn’t find me. Bucket had finished mortaring the MFing bathroom floor, so he was finally available for child care. I tried to lie on the couch and watch TV, but suddenly, both children developed an overwhelming urge to be on top of me. We just watched Jumanji and now the kids are in bed.

As it is 8pm, it is obviously jim-jam time. I went upstairs to find that all my jim-jam pants are in the dryer. And I needed to pee. And the  only access to a bathroom with a toilet is in front of a bank of windows facing the street. I’ll admit it: I was too tired to care, so I just walked in front of all the windows wearing a t-shirt and knickers. I’m pretty sure that no one could see me, but I’m also willing to bet that if they did, there will be a sudden onslaught of neighbors putting their houses up for sale, traumatized forever at the sight of me walking around in my underwear.

 

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28 hours, 2 minutes later

In case you were wondering what is happening with my Blowe’s/Home Depot saga (and why wouldn’t you?), check this out:

 

 

That, my friends, is the shipping confirmation notice from UPS saying that the package I ordered from Home Depot 19 hours before WAS OUT FOR DELIVERY. Not processing, not sending a notice to the vendor via Pony Express, not hoping that the tilemakers in China (or wherever) somehow get the order via ESP. DELIVERY.

I predict it will be delivered any minute now, when the UPS guy does his late afternoon sweep of our neighborhood. About 29 hours after I ordered the tile. THAT is what I call customer service. (In case you’re keeping track [and why wouldn’t you?], it took Lowe’s 14 days to tell me that it would be another month for delivery, due only to the fact that I CALLED TO ASK THEM WHERE THE FRIGGING TILE WAS.) Home Depot, I heart you, even if Peeta thinks you’re hell.

I would make the promise that this is the end of my ranting about how Lowe’s is vile, evil and must be destroyed, but I know myself too well. We’ll see if all the tile actually arrives, if my refund from Lowe’s actually comes through, and if we ever get this MFing bathroom finished. Until then, stay tuned. Mama loves to bitch.

Gots to go. The UPS man is here.

Hell on earth

Hee hee. Bucket came up with a new name for my favorite store: Blowe’s.

Corporate never called to apologize. The local store did, but since it wasn’t really their fault, it was small consolation. Thus, I cancelled my order and ordered basically the same thing from Home Depot, who confirmed that they had the tile in stock and would ship it to me within 10 days.

 

P.S. I’m still bitter.

P.P.S. In fairness, Peeta would want me to let you know that while I hate Blowe’s, he hates Home Depot. The other day, he told me it is his hell. Tonight when we were there, an employee walked past us and Peeta whispered, “Did you see that guy with the glasses? He’s the devil.”

Oh, the irony

So the children got really ratty after I TOOK THEM TO THE MOVIES and BOUGHT THEM POPCORN AND CANDY today (Who’s the fairest mother of them all? I AM THE FAIREST MOTHER OF THEM ALL!) and they were starting to make me twitch with their whining.

I looked longingly at the bottle of wine with one glass left. No, I thought. Don’t drink the last glass of wine before Bucket even comes home. That would be selfish and mean, and besides, you can make it until 6:30 when he gets home, you pathetic lush.

Bucket comes home, goes into the kitchen to finish up dinner, and I go hide from the children in my office. About 10 minutes later, Bucket yells that dinner’s ready. I walk into the kitchen, and GUESS WHO IS DRINKING THE LAST GLASS OF WINE?!!

And guess who is going to the liquor store to buy some more so that he doesn’t get a revenge pillow over his face as he sleeps tonight?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: better to be mean, happy and drunk than nice, sad and sober. (Actually, I’ve never said that, but I stand by it regardless.)

Thank God it’s over

Today is the first day back at school for Peeta after April vacation. We had a lovely time, but let me please be clear: I am not equipped to spend every day, all day, nine days in a row with my children without help from Bucket. Bucket was working this weekend and last on the bathroom, and I was in charge of child entertainment. Don’t get me wrong: he did his best to help out, but you can’t be in two places at once. As such, here is the final tally for me, Peeta and Noodle over vacation week:

Burritos consumed: 9

Pizzas consumed: 7

Pasta dishes consumed: 6

Miles biked/walked/scootered: 43987529384

Hours of Go, Diego, Go! watched: about 47

Visits to Fenway Park: 2

Number of times the Red Sox blew it: 1 (Witnessed in person. Let us not count the actual number over the week.)

Visits to Lowe’s: 1

Visits to the Science Museum: 1

Sleepovers: 1

Number of brain bleeds had by Mama: maybe 10

Number of bitching colds experienced by Mama on the last day of vacation and after: 1

Number of times Mama said “I am not cut out for single parenting.”: innumerable

This weekend was supposed to be the last one Bucket was working on the bathroom (but not anymore–thank you, Lowe’s!). Pray to the gods that he finishes up soon and I can have shared parenting responsibilities back. Pray, damn it!

 

Escalating the situation

Bucket and I had the stellar idea to gut our bathroom and put a whole new one in. To do so, we decided to use the services of lowes.com, despite that there is a HOME DEPOT RIGHT DOWN THE FUCKING ROAD.

This is when my love of beauty has come back to bite me in the ass. Instead of going with trusty old Home Depot, I have the products delivered to our “local” Lowe’s, about FIVE TOWNS AWAY. When I place the order on April 9, I’m told that the wall tiles are in stock at the store, that the floor tiles and showerhead should be there on April 18, and that the accent tile (see what I mean about my bathroom vanity?) will be ready on April 23.

April 10, I go to get the floor tile. April 17, I get a message saying my products are ready. I check online, and sure enough, it says the three outstanding items are at the store! Hurrah, I think as I drive the HALF HOUR to get there. But no. Lowe’s hates me and has decided to toy with my mind. Only the showerhead is ready and the tile won’t be in until Monday, says the customer service lady.

TODAY IS MONDAY, people. I have a wicked cold and Peeta decided to plunge the toilet today and then leave shit-colored water all over our working bathroom floor. I was already cranky, to say the least. And then, I went to the website and it said the tile will be there on April 30 and May 5. I called the store, who passed me off like a hot potato but eventually called the vendor, who said the tile is ON BACKORDER UNTIL THE END OF MAY.

And then I lost my mind. Now, I talk a good game, but I am charming as hell with customer service people. I worked a summer for USPIRG and had some people act really douchey, so I try very hard not to be rude to people who are just doing their job (which usually involves getting yelled at). That said, when we were in Botswana, I watched our friend Daisy deal with the internet people who wouldn’t get her wireless to work. She was amazing. She said things like “unacceptable” and “Live box? More like dead box!”, instead of politely accepting whatever they told her. And then they came to fix the wireless.

From now on, I am going to channel my inner Daisy. I just called Lowe’s main customer service line and yelled at a very nice lady named Sierra about how THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE AND HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED AND WHY WOULDN’T THEY HAVE TOLD ME TO BEGIN WITH THAT THE TILE WAS ON BACKORDER AND I HAVE A BATHROOM UPSTAIRS WITH NO FLOOR!!

And then I apologized to her (because I was pretty sure I’d gotten my point across and as good as the ranting felt, I still felt badly for taking it out on her) and told her I knew it wasn’t her fault, but THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME I HAD DEALT WITH LOWE’S AND IT WILL DEFINITELY BE THE LAST.

Beautiful Sierra got the point. Beautiful Sierra is contacting corporate to “escalate the situation” and see what can be done. Beautiful Sierra told me that corporate will be calling me within 24 hours to discuss the matter.

My friend James had a similar situation with Best Buy when he was renovating his house. He blogged about it, and then this happened. I am now hexing Lowe’s and putting the word out. Don’t trust those assholes (except for Beautiful Sierra) about anything. You will undoubtedly end up with a tile-less bathroom and a stroke for your troubles. If I get a brain bleed, I’m sending them the hospital bill. Which they will probably put on backorder, the bitches.

I shall conclude with this mature and articulate thought: Suck it, Lowe’s. You’re dead to me. Now send me my fucking tile.

Know what? Warthogs.

Out of all the amazing, beautiful, wondrous animals in Africa, my daughter fell in love with the warthog.

In the field behind our Botswana hotel, there was a warthog family who would wander around, digging holes and rolling in mud, rooting around for food, and generally being kind of unappealing. And Noodle loved it. She and Peeta would sit in the restaurant, waiting for them to come, and if they didn’t, she would yell, “WARTHOGS!” If they did come, she would blow kisses.

I kid you not.

And now we’ve been home a month and they’re still all she can talk about.

If you ask her what animals we saw in Africa, she will tell you warthogs.

If you ask her what she wants to drink for dinner, she will tell you warthog milk.

During conversations, she will yell out, “WARTHOGS!” for no reason whatsoever.

At toddler time, when we’re singing Old MacDonald and they ask for animals, she shrieks, “WARTHOGS!!”

And, she has a new joke she’s telling all the time. It goes like this:

“Know what? Warthogs. Just joking.”

It started out cute and endearing, but now I’m starting to wonder what this obsession says about her future mate. Hairy, toothy and dirty do not sound attractive.

I heart my elitist liberal neighbors

So I live in a town near Boston that is regularly referred to as the “People’s Republic.” There are a few major universities here, and a disproportionate number of the locals are unusually well-educated and very, very liberal. (I just gave the game away. If you didn’t already know, it shouldn’t be too hard to guess where I am.)

I love it here. Partly because I am sort of a dirty hippie and partly because I am sort of a liberal, elitist snob (that’s right, Sarah Palin!). We have playgrounds with all kinds of cars for the kids to ride on, and no one steals them, because they are communal. My neighbor (whom I actually do not like) waits for her daughter to get off the bus as she reads the New Yorker (this might be the one thing that endears her to me. Bucket would say the opposite). The only instance of racism we’ve seen here is when Peeta and I went to vote a few years ago and we stopped to buy him a cookie at the bake sale outside the auditorium, and the woman selling them gave the change to Peeta and said, “Here. Give this to your….caretaker.”

And so, the other day I took the kids to the biggest, fanciest playground in town. We played with Peeta’s friend E., whom Noodle adores and regularly screams out for. “E!!!!!!” all through the day. They rode scooters, they rode bikes, they played in the sand. It was a good time.

We left and met our friends for burritos at a local restaurant and when I was taking Noodle out of the car, I noticed she had only one shoe. I asked her where the other one was, and she gave me a shrug. Needless to say, it was one of the brown shoes.

So we had dinner and went back to the playground to look for the shoe. No luck. Finding a brown shoe in the dark is tricky business. We went home, and I realized I had lost her water bottle (the metal kind dirty hippies carry around, so as not to create too much waste).

I told my neighbor, and she told me to join our local parents’ Yahoo group and ask them if they’d seen it or the shoe. About 12 hours later, I got this email:

Strangely I think I might have seen the water bottle in the playground. We were there for sometime yesterday late afternoon and I noticed a lone water bottle sitting on a bench (I think the one by the entrance?) for some time. I didn’t pick it up, it might be worth going back and seeing if it’s still there.

And then I got this one:

Losing a shoe is a bummer. May be you could post around the playground with a photo? Usually people put found kids items in visible places. The other day I put a kid’s hat on a bench.

Solidarity, brother. I like it. We went back to the playground and started looking on all the benches. We looked behind the one where we had been sitting, and there it was, on the ground. I don’t know if it had fallen or someone put it there, but the point is, NO ONE STOLE IT. It’s easily a $20 water bottle that anyone could have swiped and taken home.

Thank you, dirty hippie elitist liberal neighbors! I emailed the water bottle woman back to thank her, and I told her good karma was coming her way. She loved it, as I knew she would.

I still have no idea where that goddamn shoe is, though.

South Africa, the promised land

After leaving Ethiopia, we got a flight to Johannesburg. A long flight that Noodle did not care for, thank you very much. Somehow, we managed to make it through the flight with her slapping us and shrieking and trying to drink all the juices we had. Take note: Ethiopian Airlines has terrible food and no in-seat movies. This is not a great combo for travel with small children.

We made it, and were greeted by the friendliest immigration officer in the history of time. He was a beautiful man who saw me by myself because I have a different name than the Bucket and the kids. He made small talk about how hard it is to fly with children and waved me through. I loved South Africa already.

But then I remembered that we were in Johannesburg airport, hotbed of crime and danger, according to TripAdvisor.com. We had to get to the hotel bus depot, which apparently involved leaving the airport and being led to the parking lot by people who supposedly worked for the information desk, who would then jump you and steal your valuables! I got directions from no fewer than two information desks, because simply following the directions printed on 439578394875 signs, or listening to just one information giver would surely lead us to certain death.

And so, we began our trek out of O.R. Tambo airport (which I must say is very shiny and nice), out INTO THE SUNSHINE! AND ACROSS THE STREET! AND PAST A HOTEL! Fortunately, we made it. It seemed like a very dangerous place for the whole three minutes we were walking. After all, there were only dozens of people walking around in broad daylight, probably just waiting to attack us and steal our Ethiopian knickknacks.

The van arrived just as we did, which was fortunate, because we would have surely been attacked and killed by all the seemingly upstanding travelers milling about. Our driver was a charming man who kept asking us to take him to America. Bucket gently tried to tell him that America isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for immigrants, but he didn’t buy it. Damn you, Hollywood!

We had no South African cash for tips when we got there, which was terrible because the bellhop was a charming fellow who talked to Peeta for ages while I was checking in, and let him ride on the bags up to the room. I made Bucket go back to the airport and get cash later so we could tip him, but he was already gone. Yet another reason I’m going to hell. And yes, I still feel guilty. Thanks for asking.

The hotel. Oh, the hotel! It was clean and shiny and you could flush your toilet paper! There was a pool and a restaurant and a bar and satellite TV and the beds were so big and lovely.

We arrived just as they were finishing lunch in the restaurant, so they put us in the bar, where I realized I forgot to check the exchange rate. As I calculated it, the burger I wanted to get for lunch was $50. That sounded high, but I was hungry, damn it. We decided to suck it up and just have snacks for dinner. Later we realized the burger was something like $12. This, people, is why I did not major in math.

Peeta and Bucket went swimming in the very scenic but also cold pool for a little while as I lay around with Noodle, trying to figure where we could move that would let us have a garden like that. Then we all went upstairs, watched TV, ate snacks from the airport, and fell asleep.

In the morning, we had the world’s most glorious breakfast buffet. I only wish we had more time for me to chow down there. The waiter was charming, like all the other staff. The strange but unifying theme at the hotel was that the entire staff was charming, and the entire staff was black. Do white people not go into hospitality in South Africa?

We went back to the airport where the Air Botswana woman was stunning and lovely, and she gave us our tickets, but then we couldn’t figure out how to get to immigration. Turns out OR Tambo airport is a little too modern for us. We finally got through, the immigration guy was a dick (which I’m pretty sure is a prerequisite) and we waited a while for our flight. A Chinese woman took a picture of Noodle, because she thought she was cute, and we took a 47-mile bus trip to get to our plane.

And then, like a dream, it was gone. And now I need to go back to South Africa.

On Ethiopia

I’m not going to talk too much about Ethiopia, mostly because it was work related, but also because I don’t feel as if I have a whole lot new to add that people haven’t already heard.

I went on a home visit with our friend who runs the orphanage, and it was heartbreaking. The house we visited was owned by a woman with four kids (no partner, as seems to be the norm with so many of these families). Her oldest son is 14, and he wears a size 4T. Bucket saw him and thought he was 6. Her oldest daughter is about 10 and she spends her days in the orphanage and goes to her mom at night. There are two other kids in the family, both of whom live at the orphanage.

So we went to the house, where I was supposed to take photos. Just to be clear, I hate that part of the job. “Hi! I’m a rich white American here to document your poverty! Put on your sad face! I’ll be gone in five minutes, and you’ll be stuck in this one room shack for the rest of your life! Click!”

She lived in a one room shack with a single bed that was about 10′ x 10′. She sleeps in the bed with both the older children. She had some posters of Jesus on her walls, some pots and pans, and a picture her kids had given her. She beamed with pride when I told her it was nice. She was shy and clearly ashamed of her situation. I was told later that she is an amazing mother and is totally committed to her children.

She pays $20 a month for rent. She can’t cover it, so her older son goes out at night after school to tell gum on the streets. $20 a month. For one room with one bed that she shares with two children. She had to send her youngest two children to an orphanage so that they can get food and education and medicine, because she can’t provide it.

This is how people live in the rest of the world. There are women out there who can’t pay $20 a month for rent, who have to send their children to orphanages to see them thrive, who have to send their son out at night to make money. And compared to so many others, she was probably doing well.

That’s about it. I don’t have a lot more to say. I probably think about her (or the other women whose homes I’ve visited) every time I bitch about how hard my life is. Oh, Noodle woke up in the night! I’m sleepy and no one’s life has ever been as hard as mine! Waaaaah!

I have it so easy and it’s good to be reminded. That’s all.