Saturday, November 22, 2008

Best of the best

Below are the best of the best "What have I gotten myself into" emails.

Our Big Move, or “What have I gotten myself into?”

July 28
Hello Everyone,

Well, a week later, we finally have internet (there was no wireless to pirate, so we had to actually pay for internet). We also have a new home phone number, but they forgot to tell me what it was when they hooked it up, so I'll let y'all know as soon as I do.

All is well here - unpacking is a pain, but I can't live in the chaos for much longer, so I suppose I'll have to suck it up and empty all of the boxes - right now our bonus room looks like a storage facility and/or dumping ground for used packing paper.

Just in case any of you had any doubts, it's hot here . . . In fact, it's supposed to be 95 degrees today, with the added bonus of lots of humidity. Addie and I can usually only tolerate about 15 minutes outside at a time before we have to come in and enjoy the air conditioning.

There are appetizer-sized bugs here that think I taste good, but have thankfully been avoiding Jeff and Addie. Every time I step in the grass, I come back with at least three new bug bites that itch like crazy. They have wasps here that are an inch (no exaggeration) long and look like they could carry Addie away if they ganged up together.

We're pretty lucky, our development has a lot of green space and walking paths, so we get to see wild-life every day - loads of frogs (even orange ones that look a little poisonous), turtles, deer, rabbits and we saw a falcon in our yard yesterday. We've been told there are snakes all over, but we haven't seen any yet - thankfully!

Although we admit we're being super judgmental, Jeff and I feel like we've moved into Pleasantville and/or Stepford (sp? i.e. The Stepford Wives). Everyone is SOOOO polite, it's enough to put you off and some of the men come off as being a little slick. On the up side, one neighbor brought us homemade bread and another brought us a bucket of peaches. Since there are so many, I thought I would make some peach pie - is it considered polite or rude to bring some pie over to the neighbor who brought the peaches?

Just about everyone we see apologizes for how they're dressed, so Jeff and I are a little nervous about what they think of our casual wear (I've been trying to get Jeff to at least throw out the T-shirts with holes in them).

We've haven't picked up any accents yet, but we've definitely embraced "y'all" as standard for more than one person.

Since it's just Addie and me at home, we're getting a little bored. Although there are a lot (so it seems) of stay-at-home moms, we don't see anyone during the day. I assume it has to do with the heat, but they could just be avoiding us.

We had our first walk-by proselytizing - We met one of the neighbors across the street, and the second thing out of her mouth was (imagine a very strong southern accent), "if y'all are looking for a church, we go to the First Baptist out on Dave Lyle. It's a real nice church, and they have a great children's program." After all the warnings we'd been given about that type of thing, we were surprised that it's only happened once so far.

As for other adjustments, groceries are really expensive here - I paid $4.25/gallon for milk and nearly fell over. Jeff and I got in trouble for trying to buy beer on Sunday - because you can't, it's against the law. I have found the local Wal-Mart and find it just as detestable here as I always have.

The house is fine, but with any house (new or old), we've found some small problems that need immediate attention - the toilet and garbage disposal leak and although there are closets-a-plenty, they only have one small wire shelf in each, so the storage is really poor. Needless to say, Jeff has been keeping pretty busy when he's not at work.

We've seen some pretty fantastic anti-yankee bumper stickers - "If it's tourist season, why can't we shoot them?" and (with a picture of a mosquito), "send more Yankees, they taste good."

I realize this is a pretty long email - sorry. I'm just making up for not having any sort of outlet for the past week+.

Aug. 2, 2008
Hi Everyone,

Well, we've been here now for two weeks, and if I still didn't have unpacking to do, I might just go stir crazy. I think Addie is even getting a little bored with me.

It's hot as blazes, and humid to boot, but there are some pretty fantastic storms (we've had three in the last week - something to do with the hurricanes off the coast). Jeff and I had a particularly bad Monday (see below), so we sat on our porch and watched the lighting, heard the rolling thunder, and got soaking wet. Had any neighbors been watching, they must have thought us insane.

Jeff and I have decided that South Carolina is conspiring to take all of our money. Not only do you have to pay property taxes on your cars (what?), they made me pay sales tax on my Pilot, even though I did not buy it in South Carolina, nor was I a resident at the time. Needless to say, I'll be taking it up with the Revenue Department. Four hours, and too much money later, I finally got SC plates . . . Ugg! That was also right on the heels of a nice letter from the city about an annual back-flow inspection for our sprinklers - who's heard of that? We may have to sell Addie for scientific experiments.

We have some good and bad news about the house - as of Mon 7/28, Hewitt took over ownership, which means it's no longer our hassle to deal with. The bad news is, they have yet to pay us for said house. Silly us, we thought we'd get paid for our house . . .

Our house has some very strange noises and we are not entirely sure it is free of all things supernatural. Last week, I was sitting at the computer and I swear I saw something dash past the door and a moment later an alarm clock (that was sitting in the hall) went off randomly. We also had some very strange garage door problems the first week we were here. I'd close it, and sometime later (an hour, three hours, 15 minutes, etc), it would be open. This went on for several days, and I was already starting to imagine the REAL reasons the last two families had moved out (three owners in seven years is a lot after all). Thankfully, we figured that mystery out. Turns out the old owners still have our garage door programmed into their car buttons, and since they only moved across the street, the button still activated our door.

Our nature walks are the highlight of our day. Needless to say, once we're 100% unpacked, I will be looking for a job.

I think that's it. Hope all of you are doing well. I'd love to hear from you when you have a chance.

Take care,

Sept. 3
Subj: Greetings from the Rock Hill Public Library
Hi Everyone,

I realize that mass emails are less than desirable, but for some reason, since I'm not an email person, they seem to be the only emails I can reliably get out.

Well, our computer decided to become our own private porn peep show - thus using the Rock Hill library computer. I'm supposed to back up all our files and wipe out our computer and reinstall stuff . . . or something like that. I just know we have two trojans and a virus that have attached themselves to our Windows Operating System - yippee for us!

Addie started preschool today. Since there are so many more stay-at-home moms (or it seems that way anyway), than what we had in Portland, Preschool is a very big deal here. Almost all of the churches offer some sort of preschool program, and most seem pretty good. Addie has joined the ranks of the United Methodists - we'll see if she gets religified or not. There was a parent meeting last night and I learned NOT to go pick up your child during a tornado warning. That in fact, they would not release the child to me in the middle of a tornado . . . All these new things to think about.

Overall things are getting better here. I'm meeting more neighbors and we're a bit more social now (not much more mind you, but a bit). After school gets out, it's a free-for-all in our neighborhood for the kids. They ride down the street on their bike looking to see who's home and able to play. Addie desperately wants to be a big kid. Thankfully, the older kids (at least the girls anyway), are pretty tolerant of her.

On Friday afternoon we decided on the spur of the moment to drive to Myrtle Beach for the weekend (Labor Day weekend mind you). I know lots of people think the Atlantic is beautiful and all, but I have to say they don't have anything on the Oregon coast. That is, unless you like that flat beach, sun and able to swim in the ocean thing . . . We had a good time, but there were loads of people on the beaches and in the water, and I kept thinking about the fact that there are many more sharks on this coast than our old coast.

For those who have not been, Myrtle Beach is kind of like Las Vegas, but without the gambling. There is a lot of shopping, lots of tourist attractions, and it's hot. Jeff talked me into going to Medieval Knights on Sunday night. I thought Addie would be too young for it, but she absolutely loved it! And we got to eat with our hands, since silverware had not been invented in the 11th century (or so they told us).

For those of you who are still reading (as this is a very long and arduous email), here is the big news - I'm pregnant! Turns out I left Oregon knocked up. I'm due in early April, which makes me 9 1/2 weeks along. I realize that this is pretty early to be announcing it, but since I don't have any close friends to share the news with here, it's even harder to keep it from you all. I had my first doctor's appointment last week, and it was utterly uneventful - they didn't do an ultrasound or a fetal heart monitor, and when I asked about it, they looked at me like I was crazy.

The only other slightly interesting news is, Jeff got his hands caught up in a fire ant nest - several non-expletives (since Jeff doesn't swear) later, he got them all off his hands and feet. Apparently we also have Copperhead snakes in our yard. Our next door neighbor came over and warned us that her gardner had just found a nest of Copperheads under their hammock, and perhaps we shouldn't let Addie go out into the backyard for a few days. She was going to put out mothballs to drive them out of her yard (right into ours I'm sure). Jeff thinks he saw a small one when he was mowing, but he's not sure. We've also been told that Copperheads are really aggressive, and instead of running away as most snakes do, they can and will take up chase.

I think that's it. I've come to terms with the fact that my life is pretty dull, so other than run-ins with the wildlife and daily naps, our lives are pretty uneventful.

Hope all of you are well, and I'd love to hear how you're doing.

Much Love,Kate

Sept. 12

Hello and how are things? I'm still emailing from the library, and right now I'm watching a little girl in front of me (under 2 years old I think) alternate between sticking a pen up her nose, in her mouth and then try to stick it in the light socket before her mother stops her. Since I have a better vantage point than her mother, am I obligated to stop her from sticking the pen in the outlet? Such a moral quandary . . .

As part of my, "what do I do while Addie is in school" time, I have been searching for coffee shops. Coming from the land of coffee, it's a little strange to have to drive many miles to get to one. I had a rude awakening on Wednesday - I ordered a mocha at a coffee shop in the grocery store (only one grocery store in town has one) and the girl behind the counter dutifully read off from her handy dandy reference sheet (complete with photos), "steamed, iced or blended?" It then took her a very long time to make said mocha, and in the mean time, an older (but not that old) man came up and was waiting for help and asked me what in tarnation I had ordered, and when I told him, he had said, "a what?" and infact, had never heard of a mocha. Just when you think things are safe . . .

Take care,

Sept. 26
Hello All,

Okay, so we've had our computer fixed, but it is sitting on the floor of our kitchen - apparently the subject of a Jeff and Kate stand-off. Although the Geek Squad reinstalled our operating system, we still have to install Microsoft, our security system, and all of the other bells and whistles you take for granted. Who wants to do that? And besides, I have to prove I'm more stubborn than Jeff is.

I am sorry to inform you all, that Addie will not be performing in the Little Miss Fort Mill pageant this year. By the time we heard about it, it was too late to enter (we'd have to find her a talent, quaff her hair, get her one of those big poofy dresses, and she'd have to learn to take stage commands). But don't you worry, we'll be ready next year. I was thinking Addie seems to show a natural talent for interpretive dance, and maybe flaming baton twirling . . . Any thoughts on the matter?

For those of you who haven't talked to me in the last week, we have a new member of our family - Bubbles the kitten. A neighbor found her abandoned under a bush, and being the suckers that we are, we took her in. She was two weeks old when we got her, and we have to feed her with a bottle every 2-4 hours. We're supposed to feed her at night too, but we decided that if she ain't bawling, she ain't hungry.
The real reason we agreed to take the cat was because Addie is enamored with and petrified of all animals. She thinks they're great, up until they get within 10 feet of her. We've had major steps though, Addie now pets (ie pokes and pats) Bubbles and will talk to her. She likes to have her in her lap, but won't commit to real kitty strokes, so bubbles either falls off, or crawls away. Right now, her (Bubbles that is) favorite spot is Jeff's neck.

I don't know if any of you are following the news, but there's a gas shortage here. I think it's the biggest bunch of hooey on the face of the earth, but it doesn't change the fact that every gas station in Rock Hill is out of gas. There was some yesterday, but the two hour lines were prohibitive. I'm about three miles from the empty light coming on, but refuse to get into the panic of it all. I believe what we have here is something they call self-fulfilling prophecy. The news channels said we might run out of gas, and low and behold, the run on the stations did it. We have been told there's a big shipment of gas headed our way tonight or tomorrow, but who knows. I was contemplating my options yesterday and the only two I could come up with were, 1) use the mower gas and 2) siphon gas from Jeff's car while he's not looking. I was all set to go with number two, until Jeff informed me that we have anti-siphon gas tanks (whatever that means).

The good news is, we had an ultrasound yesterday, and all is healthy and well (a big relief mind you), and there is only one baby (also known as an alien at this stage) in the oven. I'm past the nauseous stage, and into the gotta eat every 20 minutes phase (although I lost two pounds from appointment to appointment). Our pantry is a testament to my cravings and whims. But honestly, wouldn't you all like your own Costco pumpkin pie?

I know mass emails are no good, but I like to think that I am on some reality show, and you are all my adoring fans waiting for the next installment of "What have we gotten ourselves into?!" Although I am open to new ideas for the title.

Since I have lots of free time, I decided to organize a neighborhood BBQ - on Sunday we are expecting 70+ people at our house for burgers and dogs. When I was talking to my neighbor about planning it, her word of advice was, "you better check the Panther schedule first." Don't worry, the game starts at 1pm and the BBQ is at 5pm.

When there's a Panther game on, no one goes outside, and if something good happens, you hear cheers from all over the neighborhood. We had been warned, but boy do they take their football seriously here.

Hope all is well with each of you.


Oct. 13
Hi Y'all (notice the southern twang with which I speak?),

Sorry I haven't emailed in a while. I'd like to tell you it's because we lead such busy lives, but the truth is, it's because I've started taking regular naps . . .

For good or bad, since South Carolina has no fabulous state family leave laws like Oregon, it just doesn't make sense for me to get a job, only to leave in six months, so I'm trying to come to terms with the idea that I'm taking a year off . . . Needless to say, this might be one of the biggest personal challenges I've faced thus far in my life. But being home with Addie (who by the way, the moment she turned two, turned into part holy terror), is an excellent exercise of my patience, so I'm trying to learn and grow from this experience.

I've also decided to become one of those volunteering moms - I baked brownies for the preschool fundraiser, and I have volunteered to be a substitute teacher at the preschool as well. Who knew this is what the South Carolina chapter of our lives would be?

We have gone overboard decorating for Halloween, and have turned our front yard into a graveyard, with new scarier additions each weekend as we get closer to Halloween. I figure since we live in an area where they really trick or treat and have kids galore, we should embrace it. My new goal is to be known as the "Halloween House."

We just bought tickets to fly back to Portland for Christmas, and because of Jeff's awesome holiday schedule, we will get to be in Oregon for two weeks. We did have to sell Addie though to pay for the tickets, but hey, we can always make more of her . . .

Take Care,

Oct. 13
Subj: When did I become one of those moms?

Hi there,

So after many years of being a die hard pro-career feminist, I've become a brownie baking, preschool volunteering stay at home mom - who knew?

I've decided that since I have so much free time on my hands, I would volunteer for just about everything and anything. So far I've baked brownies for a church/preschool fundraiser and have signed up to be a substitute teacher at the preschool. I had my first subbing day on Friday with the four year olds.

Did I mention that I never ever wanted to be a teacher because, well, I don't actually like children all that much? Well, strangely enough, I thought that although staying home with my own daughter in not actually fulfilling for me, surely being around other peoples kids would be . . . And, amazingly (and I am still stunned by this revelation), it was not. Weird.

But I will endure, as I am now looking at this time off as a chance to grow personally. Since I have never been known as a very patient person, there is no test better than throwing ones self into a deep pool of shark-like four year olds. I am kidding a little though, the 0-4’s are much preferred over the 5+ year old kids.

One of the little girls who was the appointed "door holder" for the day, asked me if it was okay if she kissed some of the other kids as they came through her door. I told her it was absolutely okay, and in fact, they really encouraged indiscriminate kissing in a preschool . . . Upon reflection, perhaps that wasn't the wisest thing to say . . .

We went to the state fair on Saturday, and I'm happy to report that state fairs are state fairs. The only difference being a few more confederate flag T-shirts here.

I'm sad to report that the state fair also had a little person (they called it "Little Princesses and Princes) pageant. Where does one find out about these pageants? Is there a website for this type of thing? I really feel I've missed my calling as a stage mom.

This pageant was on the level of Jean Benette (sp?) - Big curly hair, big poofy dresses and big (I'm talking at least 18 inches) sparkling crowns – forming a mental picture yet?

One of the little girls we watched (and mind you, she probably wasn't more than four) came out on the stage, stepped to the center, and blew the judges a kiss . . .
My favorite part though, was how the judges introduced each of the girls - "and here we have little Miss Ashley Mae Carver who has blond hair and blue eyes. Ashley's hobbies include: coloring, playing with her cat, and cooking."

I thought if Addie were to do this next year, her introduction would sound something like this: "And here we have little miss Addie Sue, a recent transplant from the west coast, but judges, please don't hold that against her, she does after all have blond hair and blue eyes. Addie's hobbies include, throwing food, drawing on walls, and let's not forget, torturing the family cat." Do you think we'd have a chance?

Take care.

Nov. 7
Subj: In the running for Domestic Goddess

Hello everyone, and happy post Halloween,

Although we had three hours of trick-or-treating rush, we still have a good five pounds of candy left (admittedly, I may have bought too much). Jeff is on a diet (damn him), so it's up to me and Addie. And since we restrict Addie's candy intake to one a day, it's really up to me to make sure it doesn't hang around until Christmas. We all have to take one for the team now and then.

I realize it's been nearly a month since I last emailed, but I was waiting until I had something interesting to say. Or at least not a drop dead boring email.

As I've mentioned, I am a sub at the preschool, and Wednesday I subbed in the one year old class. It probably would have been fine, had the teacher not kept leaving me alone with the kids. Do I look like someone capable of handling eight one year olds? The only thing I could figure out was that she really didn't like teaching, and she saw an opportunity to take long peaceful breaks throughout the day. Needless to say, I earned every one of my $18.00 that day.

The real trouble came when she left me alone in the activity room. Two of the girls started crying and wanted to be held, and then the two year old class came in to play - which included Addie. Poor Addie has been suffering some serious separation anxiety lately, and there Mom is holding two other girls. Suffice it to say, she wanted up on my lap, and nearly displaced the other little girls (under the pretext of comforting them), meanwhile the other five kids were being beaten by the newly entered two year olds. Why did I sign up for this? I figured out that I could conceivably entertain two to three kids at a time, and the rest were on their own.

Our friends Peter and Loraine came to visit a few weeks ago, and we went to a civil war reenactment. I'm sure it's hard for all of you to believe, but we have our very own historic civil war town/marker 20 miles away. Peter got a field shave (with strap and razor), and they finished him up with a few sips from their flask. In addition to wandering around the camp (I had to hold Jeff back from enlisting us all), they reenacted the Battle of the Wilderness - any history buffs out there know what that was? Basically it's a bunch of guys in costume running around the woods shooting each other. The highlight of the fight was a horse stepping in a hole and getting stuck. It fell over and wouldn't get up for a long time. Needless to say, we're all a little bit deaf after the battle. Between the cannons, the rifles and the pistols, we all heard ringing for some time afterwards. I realized that that was the first violence and/or gun exposure that Addie has had - if it's in the name of history, it doesn't count right? By the way, the horse was fine.

In an effort to use my time wisely, I have endeavored to become a domestic goddess. I have started cooking again, and I had the brilliant idea of making a class quilt for Addie's preschool class. The quilt turned out fine, but with all my sewing projects, you don't want to look too closely. I had a couple of the other moms over to help put it together, and we ended up sewing it backwards twice (don't ask me how that happened). But, since I had just baked fresh pumpkin bread, had cleaned my house, and was making a quilt, I totally snowed the other moms into thinking I was Martha Stewart. Now for those of you who know me, you realize there's something wrong with that picture. Shhhh, don't tell.

We had our 18.9 week ultrasound yesterday, and now know what type of baby we're having. Attached is one of the ultrasound pictures, if you're curious.

I'm afraid my writing mojo is just not as free flowing at home as it is at the library, so I'll cut this email short. Before I forget, in an effort to share the ultrasound video with our families, we resorted to starting a blog. But 14 hours (and I kid you not) later, the video is still uploading (160 MB). I'll be giving up on it later today.

Hope all of you are well.

Much love,

Nov. 14
Good Morning and Happy Friday,

Well, here's another installment of "What have I gotten myself into?"

I just got back from taking Bubbles to the vet (this cat is about $5.00 away from kitty life-time maximum spending allowance), where I found a delightful magazine called, Garden & Gun . . . No joke, it's a real magazine that purports to represent the "New South." Sadly, I didn't have time to read it, as I got sucked into Bon Appetit' - always trying to increase my Domestic Goddess standing.

Never fear, we'll be back at the vets in three weeks (anyone want a cat who seems to think it's a dog, and may be a little brain damaged?), and I'm going to make sure I get to read it. I'll steal it if I have to. Who knows, with my new life, I may become a regular reader. I wonder if they give any free gifts away with a life-time subscription. There's a dealership here that's giving away a free deer stand with the purchase of a truck, so I figure hope springs eternal with the magazine subscription . . .

During the election, there was a great radio ad in which Hank Williams Jr. came on and reminded all us southern folks that the two most important things were church and the freedom to bare arms, and that since Obama wasn't a southerner, and did not understand this way of life, thus inferring that he was against God and Guns (maybe a new idea for a magazine?). I really don't do the ad justice, but I think you get the drift.

I had what should have been a very depressing day on Tuesday, but strangely, I am at peace with what transpired. Just further proof that aliens have taken over my mind and body. Since Tuesday is a non-preschool day, I try to plan one outing, just to get out of the house. At full brain capacity, I decided it was a good idea to go to Wal-Mart, and then to the mall to play. When did I become one of those mall people? Oh I know, it was last week when I was waiting for a store to open, and found myself walking aimlessly back and forth, talking on my cell phone. I should have felt worse, but I passed (twice) one of the other preschool mothers doing the exact same thing.

Addie managed to lock herself into our walk-in closet (not sure why there's a key lock on the closet), and we don't have a key. Jeff was trying to get ready for work, but all of his work clothes were locked inside with Addie, and the cat. Periodically we’d see Bubbles’ paws poke out from under the door, hear a pained, “meeeooowww” and then Addie say, “Sorry kitty.” That coupled with "I want get out," every few minutes. Only about 25 minutes later, she managed to turn the lock button, and get herself out - which, I might add, she was very proud of.

I'd like to say that Addie has learned to be nice to the kitty, but alas, the scratches on her face and hands are proof to the contrary. Yesterday I caught her sitting on the kitty, trying to pull her out from under her by one paw.

Before I forget, parent tip #1: If you find yourself with permanent marker all over the business side of your CD's and DVD's, rubbing alcohol will get it off.

We finally made it to church on Sunday, and we've all found God . . . Okay, maybe not. The best thing I can say about the service was that it was short. I was surprised, and a little sickened by how much of the focus was on money - specifically donating it to the church. Although, I suppose it takes a lot of money to keep the giant Costco-sized churches up.

Well, I'm off to clean the house. We're having some of Jeff's co-workers over for a BBQ tomorrow, and I have grapefruit topiaries to make . . . eat your heart out Martha Stewart!

Just kidding. I'll probably save the topiaries for Thanksgiving . . .

Have a great weekend!

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