Sunday, May 06, 2007

Catching up

So, due to my chaperoning adventure in D.C. and Williamsburg, I have left everyone in a lurch. I posted that we bought the house, and that is as far as I've gotten.

It took less than half an hour Friday morning. I didn't even have to take off work to do it, because Friday was the first day of Jazz Fest. Our school is fairly close, and we sell parking spaces for it, so we close down for the day on each Friday. Only one other school, the one next door, gets Jazz Fest Fridays! After we signed the papers, we got lunch and ran errands. Bought 15 cans of paint plus supplies, a shower curtain rod, a microwave, got the water work order in, and finally got a new copy of our marriage license. We are officially married again! And next time, we evacuate with it. Now I just need a birth certificate, a college diploma, and a social security card, and I will be a real live human being again.

Saturday was spent scrubbing. The people who lived there before had 4 teenagers (and one of them had a baby of her own), plus the mother and the grandmother. They lived there for 11 years. They trashed the house. The roaches....ohhh they're awful. We're buying stock in Raid. The filth on the walls from these people is astounding. We have to take Chlorox wipes and rub them down before painting. They have holes in every interior door. Nine windows are broken/cracked. Savory people, I tell you.

We had to do it alone. My mom worked, my dad worked, my brother was helping Alicia and Kurt move, and no friends could make it. It was a very frustrating day, especially since I was leaving Monday. My mom and I went to Wal-Mart and bought over $200 worth of cleaning supplies. It was ridiculous. We still ended up having to buy more stuff as we went through the house.

Needless to say, Saturday was rough. We also fit in picking up my Dee-Dee, whose retirement condo is down the street, practically. We showed her around and got her to agree to sitting at the house Monday to wait for the water to be turned on.

Sunday, though, my parents and Geoff showed up. We painted the den a lovely light buttery yellow color, Morning Sunshine. We didn't get the crown molding, though. We needed a better brush. That was done today. We also started on our bedroom, which is a deep, yet light, greyish purple color to coordinate with our bedspread. We got the first coat done in there. By that point, it was too late to do much else. I had to get home to pack for my flight. We had a 6 a.m. flight, which meant that we had to be to the airport no later than 4 a.m. Blech.

I didn't get to bed until almost midnight. Or maybe after. I had to get up at 3 a.m. It was rough. I was so sore and so exhausted. Made it to the airport on time. Flew out on time. Had a fairly smooth flight to Atlanta, where we had a 25-minute layover. They moved our departure gate, and that caused some confusion. But we sorted it out. We settled in for our flight to Dulles. It was uneventful until we were preparing to land. Now, I am NOT a fan of flying. I'm terrified of it. And we hit some of the worst turbulence I've ever experienced. And I hit that air pocket that time. This was way worse. As we were coming in, one student got sick. A parent chaperon took care of her. We were almost on the ground when the pilot had to pull back up and circle the airport. Which meant much more turbulence. Another kid and a parent chaperon got sick. We finally landed. It had all of the rest of us green and quaky. I've never been airsick before, but I could tell that if we went much longer, I would have been. I was so glad to be on the ground.

We had lunch at Ballston Common Mall. I met up with Emi there! She was going to bring Gavin so I could meet him, but our lunch hour coincided with his naptime, so I missed him. Boo. Lunch was hard to do, because while we were able to not sit with the kids, they still kept interrupting with silly questions. Not like there weren't 12 other adults with us or anything.... But it was still great to see her. Short but sweet, I'll take it.

From there, we went to the Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. We got to see the changing of the guards, which impressed a few of the kids to no end. One girl even told me that it was the coolest thing she'd ever seen, and she wasn't one of the ones I would have expected to hear that from. We drove past the Pentagon and saw the repaired side of the building. I hadn't been in D.C. since fall of 2000. It was something else to see it. The bricks are different colors. We also saw the Air Force Memorial, which is pretty sweet looking.

We took a lengthy bus ride towards Williamsburg, stopping at Old Country Buffet. Anyone who knows anything about me knows I hate buffets. But the mac and cheese was good, as were the corn and the salad fixings. The chocolate chip cookie I ate was tasty, too. I was almost impressed...

Around 9 p.m., we made it to Williamsburg. We met up with two ghost tour leaders and broke into two groups. We started at the College of William and Mary and walked all through colonial Williamsburg for about 2 hours, listening to spooky tales. It was pretty neat. Exhausted, we checked into the Holiday Inn Patriot. We discovered that the vending machine were empty and the ice machines were broken. We had children who needed medication, and we hadn't had a chance to have a drink since dinner at 6 p.m. We were all dying of thirst. Our On-Site Coordinator threw his hands up over it and said there was nothing he could do. Principal Mike and VP Marie and I went head-to-head with this rude man. He refused to do anything about it and kept saying, "What do you want me to do? I can do nothing." He refused to let our two security guards leave to get drinks. We had no transportation, and, allegedly, neither did he. Finally, the girl at the hotel desk said there was one employee who just left, and she would ask him to do it. One of the parents donated $40 to buy Sprites for the kids. That was pretty nice of him. Around 1 a.m. EST, I went to bed. I'd been up since 3 a.m. CST. I was exhausted.

On this same day, my grandmother babysat the house while we waited for the parish to turn on the water. She was on the front porch when a cop who lives in the neighborhood drove up and stopped to see if she needed help. Around this time, my father arrived to bring her home. While he was there, two code enforcers showed up. A neighbor called in a complaint about the yard, which looked like it hadn't been cut since last summer. I don't blame them, to be honest. It was awful. They were trying to write us up until my dad told them that we'd just bought the house and that the lawn mower wasn't coming until this weekend, but that it would be cut. They said okay and that they would return by Monday to ensure that it had been cut. Sheesh. As it was, there was a problem with the parish's side of the water main, and they couldn't turn on our water "until later in the week." Fantastic. Dee-dee also killed many roaches while she was there. She put her purse in a cabinet, and she ended up taking home two stowaways! EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. The pest people can't come until the shoring is complete, because we are getting a termite contract, and they have to dig trenches. Once the shoring is done, it'll be fine. But with no fridge yet, we can't keep food there, anyway, so it doesn't matter. It's just so nasty.

On Tuesday, we loaded up the bus after breakfast and headed out to Jamestown, where we saw a glass blowing demonstration. I bought a cobalt inkwell that I plan to use as a bud vase in my office. We moved over to the Jamestown fort and the ships. We had a great time and learned a lot of interesting things. Well, I did. I'm assuming they did, too.

We had lunch at a '50s-style McDonald's, which was kind of neat. We met up with our account manager from our trip and let her hear all about the previous night's problems. She was appalled. We moved back to colonial Williamsburg and divided into two walking groups. We toured the old capitol, had a mock trial of one of our students in the courthouse, played trapball, saw the apothecary shop and the silversmith's shop, went in the stocks, saw horses and carriages, and did some colonial shopping. I bought Mark a tri-cornered hat, my mom some Earl Grey tea leaves, and my dad a pack of colonial playing cards. One student, who is a natural drummer (never took a lesson until this year, and blew us all away by performing for Reggie Bush last year), played a drum that another student bought. He attracted quite the crowd!!

We had dinner at the commons at the College of William and Mary. I was wary...I cafeteria....but was amazing. Chefs fixed your food in front of you. They had a vegan line, a Chinese line, a pizza line, a hot meal line (which was serving red beans and rice that looked more like jambalaya), a wrap and panini line, a dessert line, a salad line, a soup line.... I told the lady there that if my college had a cafeteria like that, I would have actually used my meal plan! The food was excellent.

Of course, I also went to a rinky-dink state university. Go figure.

After that, we checked in to the Comfort Inn in Laurel, Maryland. And...guess what.... it didn't have working vending or ice machines! However, we had leftover Sprite and made it through the night. We asked Joe, our awesome bus driver, if he would let us stop at a store the next night, and he agreed.

Mark found out that the shoring company, which was supposed to start working on May 14, could fit us in on Wednesday. Yay! He worked on painting the ceilings in the house all week. All by himself. I was so proud...

On Wednesday, we toured Mt. Vernon, home of George Washington. It was lovely. I bought Geoff a souvenir there, but as I haven't given it to him yet, I won't discuss it here. We had lunch at the Old Post Office Pavilion, and all of the kids got ripped off in a cheapo electronics store that gave away crap, like laser pointers, to each customer. I have a collection of 8. Apparently, our On-Site Coordinator said the record is 10. We took some time at the National Archives (which has its temperature regulated by Geoff's company), then the Holocaust Museum for Daniel's Story. One of our Daniels didn't take it well and had to be reassured and consoled for quite some time. I think he was projecting his name.

While in the exhibit, one of the kids was caught acting up. This old lady who was touring the exhibit ripped him a new one. And rightfully so. He knew full-well what he was doing. Then, after she was done, it was MY turn. This young kid in a museum uniform came up while i was trying not to scream at the child. At first, he was a slight help. Then, he turned to his anti-American political agenda. First, he told them to remember the children being murdered in the Sudan every day. Then he told them to think of global warming. Ummm...aren't we in the Holocaust museum? Isn't there a time and a place? The he says, "Do what you can to stop global warming. And vote. Never forget to vote. Because if you don't, then we end up with idiots like Bush in office." Ok. I hate Bush. That's a pretty well-documented fact. But that wasn't the time, the place, or the audience for an anti-Bush tirade. I grabbed a few kids (many of whom were scared of this young guy), and moved through the exhibit. But then he stalked the nicest mom chaperon. He followed her through, going on an anti-Bush, anti-American tirade. He was apparently of Japanese descent, because he went on a tirade about the Japanese internment camps, and how his family was affected by them. Ok...more on-topic, but this isn't about you, dude. I reported him to the information desk, because he was basically berating that mom. She was very uncomfortable. The guy at the desk was very upset by what I told him, and he had me fill out a complaint sheet and speak to the internship coordinator, who was the guy's supervisor. Apparently, he was just an intern. The mom was very grateful to me for that.

We decided the kids needed to decompress, so we stopped at the Washington Monument and let them run around. We had a great time, especially with our cameras.

Then we went to Union Station to eat at Pizzeria Uno. It was pretty okay. One of the kids, who teases one of our teachers relentlessly about her hometown of Chicago, had me call her so he could inform her that he'd just eaten "nasty old Chicaaaago-style pizza." Haha. We also saw the FDR memorial and drove past some other landmarks.

That day, the shoring people started working, Mark painted more ceilings, our gas got turned on, and the sofa and recliner were delivered. Yayyyy somewhere to sit other than the dirty floors!

On Thursday, we went to the National Cathedral, which was gorgeous. It's medieval-style architecture, complete with flying buttresses. Heh heh. Buttresses. We fit in the Korea, Vietnam, and Lincoln Memorials. Very impressive and striking monuments. We spent the afternoon in the Smithsonian complexes. My group did the Air and Space Museum. We tried to do the National Gallery of Art and the Natural History Museum, but they each closed before we could see much more than a couple of paintings and the dinosaur bones.

We had a strange time at Vie de France for dinner. The service was weird and I think Big Pun was selling blinking necklaces to the kids. Thankfully, the food was delicious.

More painting was accomplished at home, and we still didn't have water!

Friday morning had us checking out of the hotel, driving down Embassy Row, and taking photo stops at the White House and at the Capitol. We had lunch at the Reagan International Trade Center, then we moved back over to the Smithsonian area. We went to the Museum of Modern art and the National Gallery of Art. Actually, only Mike and I went to NGA. Marie and one of the dads brought the kids outside because they were tiring out after the intense week. There was an exhibit of photography of "Paris in Transition." I thought it was such a Zen moment.

Then we found out that the kids were misbehaving. Some will be suspended this week.

We got on the bus and headed toward the Baltimore airport. We were stuck in awful traffic. Emergency vehicles whizzed by. Then we found out why. A SMALL PLANE HAD CRASHED NEXT TO THE HIGHWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! I told you before, I'm an awful flyer. To top it off, we had the bus full of kids, who ALL saw it. And, if it couldn't get much worse, the weather in the southeast was horrible, and we weren't sure if we'd make it to Atlanta, let alone New Orleans, that night.

At 5 p.m., we made it to the airport. Our flight was for 5:32 p.m. We rushed through the airport check-in and security, where I got stopped for forgetting I had a bottle of Fiji in my bag. Had to throw it away. Sigh. We barely made it on the plane, and missed our dinner opportunity. We left right on time for Atlanta, and made it with no trouble. Then, we sat waiting to taxi for almost an HOUR. The airport was busy and we had to wait for runway space. The sky was grim, and we were getting nervous. Luckily, we made it home about 9:15 CST. But we hadn't had dinner, as our layover was only 25 minutes in Atlanta. I was starving. All of the parents were there, the luggage was claimed, and Mark and I made a Cane's run for dinner at 10:15. It was good to be home.

After dinner, we made a quick trip to the house so I could see the furniture and the progress. But then we crashed when we made it back home.

We slept until almost noon on Saturday, then grabbed lunch and headed over. Mark's parents brought us a lawnmower and a weed eater. They ran to Lowe's and got a scythe, a machete, and an electric hedge trimmer, and then proceeded to annihilate the jungle that was our lawn. Mark said people kept slowing down to see the progress, haha. They managed to do it all. My mom and I spent the day painting my bathroom, my dad finished the trim in the den, and Mark worked on the second coat in our room. But then, he ran out of paint, and our hardware store is closed on Sundays, so we had to skip doing that room for the time being. My bathroom is "Breakaway Blue." It's cool.

Dee-Dee and her sister, Myron, came over, as did Alicia and Kurt. We had a very busy day. We were supposed to go to Geoff's to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but we were too exhausted.

Today, we finished touching up my bathroom, picked up two bookcases from Kurt and Alicia, painted Mark's office/the guest room, and painted my office. We did all but his crown molding and the second coat around the edges of my walls, plus the crown molding. We also had a visit from Mimi and Lance, and from Jen. Again, a busy day. We worked from after lunch until 8:45 p.m.

I'm beat.


misti said...

So glad you had a busy but crazy time in DC! DC trips always seem to be that way. Trying to fit everything in and all. The house will come together. I'm so happy for you and a bit jealous! I hear you on the cleaning. I'm sure yours was worse than mine, but when we moved in the landlord said she was going to have someone to clean the place, but apparently didn't. The shelves were filthy, there was grease everywhere in one of them. All sorts of nasty things that we found. My mom and I went over thinking we'd get it done in two hours and five hours later we were only halfway done. Ick. I can't wait to see progress photos!

Anonymous said...

It was great to see you! I hope you can come again soon for a longer visit. I can take you on a personal Emi style tour of D.C.
and Gavin wants to meet you!