Five days ’til China: Barefoot guy at the post office

His heels were filthy.
His heels were filthy.

It’s late, I’m tired, and I don’t have much to say. Today was Friday, I ran errands. Errands aren’t interesting, so I won’t bore you.

I went to book club (I’m in two, but this was the original). We call it Fight Club, so I’m breaking the first rule of Fight Club by telling you about it. These ladies have seen me through two adoptions, and at the last meeting, which I flaked on, they meant to surprise me with presents. I still feel like a jackass. Tonight was lovely, and we had caramel bread pudding with custard. We even talked about the book.

So, I wouldn’t exactly call this a non sequitur, because nothing follows logically in this post. But while waiting to buy 40 stamps at the post office, I stood in the self-service kiosk line behind a dude wearing shorts and no shoes. It was 52 and raining at the time, but I suppose he could have just flown in from Bali and needed to go to the self-service kiosk. Still, the barefoot thing grosses me out. I’m  not a germaphobe, and I don’t make people remove their shoes when they come to my house. But I do take issue with dudes not wearing shoes at the post office.

Did I say anything? Nah. I’ve become a passive-aggressive Seattleite, so I’m venting on my blog. Also, Barefoot Dude might be mentally unbalanced, and it’s best not to rile such people at the post office.

P.S. Thank you to my friend Kelly Ryer, who pointed out that I’ve been misspelling non sequitur this whole time. I just can’t even. It’s like I’m lobotomized.

Six days ’til China: Flat cookies, crap itineraries and misspellings

Flat cookies
My new oven makes crap cookies. I’m oddly fixated on this.

I don’t like to drink during the week. I have the alcohol tolerance of a 10-year-old these days, so two glasses of wine = a headache in the morning. However, I currently have what may be my second glass of La Crema Chardonnay next to me and I am throwing my rules out the window, damn it.  I’m leaving for freakin’ China in six days, and it’s just no time for teetotaling.

So, my floors got finished and my ceiling got patched. (And there was much rejoicing.) And I had my friend’s adorable little girl over for a long-promised play date. We made chocolate chip cookies and talked about dolls and Disney movies. It was lovely, although our cookies turned out flat. I usually make perfectly fantastic cookies: plump, buttery, slightly crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. But this new, commercial-grade oven can’t produce good cookies. I’m puzzled.

Before this play date, I ran thousands of errands.  Staples, Trader Joe’s Walgreen’s, Cost Plus, Party City, Ulta, First Tech Federal Credit Union and then Homegrown, to get lunch. Because it was suddenly 1:30, and I’d forgotten to eat.

I’ve been bedeviled by these gift bags we’re supposed to bring for the orphanage workers. People have told me to include local stuff, if possible, and chocolate, and lip gloss, so I’ve been driving all over creation picking these things up.  We’re also putting together a little book of laminated clip art to represent stuff like “bed,” “potty,” “eat,” and, presumably, “stop doing that” for our Mandarin-speaking child.

We’ve been counseled that the first meeting with Kid X will likely be super stressful. In Ethiopia, we met with Bini every day for progressively longer periods of time before taking custody. In China you meet at some drab government building in a room filled with other people doing the same thing, and poof! The child is yours.  People in the know have suggested bringing something sweet for that first meeting (sugar: the universal language), so I’ve got gummy bears. Also, two squishy toys. One for Bini, so he can make it look interesting, and one for Kid X.

Our adoption medicine doctor from the University of Washington wrote us a prescription for Zithromax, in case of bacterial infection, but we also have to buy a few OTC items: Eucerin cream, in case of eczema or dermatitis; Nix, in case of lice; Kaoelectrolyte, in case of diarrhea. Kid X gets his medical exam four days after we take custody, and the shit could quite literally hit the fan in the interim.

We also (finally) got our itinerary for travel today. You know, six days before we GET ON A PLANE. I am not happy. The hotel in Beijing looks shabby, although other parents in my China Adoption Facebook group defended it, so I may just be a snob. However, we were talked into flying to Beijing instead of Shanghai by our travel agency because we could take the awesome bullet train from Beijing to Xi’an. Oddly, they have us going to the Great Wall in the morning, and then hustling back to catch a plane to Xi’an. Huh?

The itinerary also has us taking custody on March 8, and our case manager told us that the earliest we could expect to do that would be the 9th. So we planned for three days in Beijing, to get acclimated. Of course we want to take custody as soon as we can, we’re just puzzled by the change.

And finally, we have no information on what kind of rooms we have — just that we HAVE them. It matters a lot to me whether we have a standard, smoking room with two twin beds or a larger accommodation, which we’d requested. Our agency had us fill out this whole form listing our desires and needs, and it appears that … no one read it.

Hey, thanks for listening.

Non-sequitur of the day: I have been misspelling the word “euphemism” for my whole life. I’m mortified.

Seven days ’til China: Chaos, panic and horrible cats

You know how I’ve been all calm and stuff about going to China and becoming a mom again? Yeah. We leave in a week and I’m FREAKING OUT.

There’s the little issue of my house. As I mentioned yesterday, we’re having new hardwoods put in one room, can lights going in in our crypt-like basement family room, painting in said family room, and built-ins for the same room, so that we can, nine months after we moved in, completely unpack.

This is my downstairs room, with fans running. I should mention that this house is about 18 months old.
This is my downstairs room, with fans running. I should mention that this house is about 18 months old.

Hardwood guy gets here this morning after flaking on Monday, rips up the carpet and calls me in. The subfloor is wet, from my most recent pet-stain-removal effort. He can’t put hardwoods on a wet subfloor, so he brings in two fans to run overnight. We also discover little patches of black mold, which I immediately want to scrub with bleach (except that I’m out of bleach).

“Don’t even bother,” he assures me. “There’s this product called Killz and it’s an anti-bacterial. It kills everything. I’ll just roll it over the spots tomorrow.” He goes on to tell me that this product is often used in dilapidated houses where the previous owner was perhaps a heavy smoker, or a crazy cat lady.

Awesome. These are apparently my people.

While this was going on, the electricians came, and installed the six can lights and a dimmer. Indeed, that room looks decidedly less funereal, but in order to get past the duct work, they had to cut out five additional holes. Or I think that’s what they said. I kind of stopped listening when I saw the five extra holes.

Deep, cleansing breaths.
Why yes, those are holes in my ceiling.

ANYway. On the kid front, I’ve been torturing myself about preschools for Kid X. I have two choices: First, there’s the rather sterile Montessori that I visited a few weeks ago. It was sparkling clean, beautiful facility where no fun seemed to be happening. Still, their schedule works for me — two days, 8:45-3. I could go back to doing freelance, or even do a part-time job somewhere. They also have a two-week summer school thing, so X could start getting acclimated.

Or, there’s the sweet preschool that’s about a 1-minute walk from my house. The teachers are warm and nurturing and it’s in a house, so it’s a little cramped. But the stuff the kids were doing the day I visited looked super fun — lots of options with clay and dress-up and awesome toys. However, it’s a co-op, and I’d need to volunteer once a month. Also, the school year starts later. And, it’s only 9-11:30 am, although there’s an option to extend to 2:00.

You’re probably catching the strong sense that I want some semblance of “me time” once we become the parents of two. Yes. That is true. I could make excuses and say that I didn’t become a mom until I was in my late 30s, so “me time” was all I had (I’m thinking maybe this shouldn’t be in quotes). And, that I’ve gotten used to having time now that Bini’s in school. But really, I just remember that I had a really hard time adjusting from having full-on me time to having none when Bini came home. I got used to it, but it was a rough re-entry.

My cats' bowls, defiantly full. Little shitheads.
My cats’ bowls, defiantly full. Little shitheads.

OK, non-sequitur of the day: My cats are on a hunger strike. We bought this food one night because the fancy pet store that sells their goddamned Royal Canin was closed, and they hate it. It’s three weeks later and they still stand next to their full bowls and yowl. This is not a battle I’m going to fight right now. You win, horrible cats.

Other non-sequitur (kind of): I like to vacuum. I’ve been popping Rescue Remedy pastilles like an addict today, but after I got a look at our growing to-do list tonight, I went and got the Dyson. I vacuumed the areas of my downstairs that aren’t covered in drop cloths and hardwood flooring. I vacuumed even though there will be more people tramping through my house tomorrow. It calms me, vacuuming. I wonder if I can get my hands on a vacuum in China.


Eight days ’til China: Summer camp and selfie sticks

You may have noticed that I’ve titled this post similarly to yesterday’s post. That’s because I realized I was counting wrong. I never have figured out the definitive way to count days until a specific event. Do you count the day you’re on? Or is the next day when you start counting? Of course, I turned to the internet for help, and of course, the internet was wrong. We leave for China on March 4, which is next Wednesday. Today is Tuesday. Eight days.

I'm not really good at taking selfies. Keep reading.
I’m not really good at taking selfies. Keep reading.

Anyhoo, I spent much of today planning for things in the future. We have a house project coming together this week, in fact. Today, I paid a guy to install sprinklers so our new yard doesn’t die because of global warming. Tomorrow, an electrician comes to put in can lights, and another guy is coming to put hardwoods in a carpeted room that the pets decided was a good place to vomit, pee and poop. Thursday and Friday, paint. Saturday and Sunday, built-ins installed in our basement. Did I mention we’re leaving for China next week?

I’ve also been driving my friends crazy by asking them if they have their summer camp schedules squared away yet. It’s late February, I know. But I DO HAVE MY REASONS. Summer swim signups start while we’re in China, and they sell out faster than Radiohead tickets. I asked the nice woman at parks and rec if I could get a gander at the program guide before it went to print, and she said sure. I’ve sent a list of barcodes to a friend and asked her if she’ll sign us up. I’ve pestered two other friends about which weeks they want to do the wilderness camp? And the basketball camp? August 3rd through the 7th? July 20th through the 24th? WHY DON’T YOU KNOW YET?

To their credit, my friends have been remarkably patient with my persistent requests. Sort of like how you’re patient with someone who’s had a traumatic brain injury.

Bini selfie
Bini, taking one of several dozen selfies. By the time he’s a teenager, he can go pro.

It’s like planning for your own death, all this months-ahead scheduling. I’m assuming that I’ll be a half-wit when we get back from China, so I’m making sure that Bini has things to do when I’m sitting in the corner, rocking repeatedly. Also, I don’t want him home all summer long begging for iPad time or trying to hit his brother.

I’m a little freaked out about how Bini and Kid X are going to get along. Or not get along. People tell me to expect jealousy and tears and fighting, but I have a skewed view of the whole sibling thing. I was the oldest and I loved my younger siblings and was a model sister. Kind of a lot like the Julie Andrews character from “The Sound of Music.” (Really. My mom says so.) Bini is a wild card. And obviously, I don’t know this other kid yet. It could be a disaster.

OK. Ready for the non sequitur? I now have a selfie stick, which, ostensibly, I bought for China. Mainly, it’s being used so that I can try to master the whole selfie thing (not working), and also, so my kid can don his pretend safety glasses and take 52 pictures of himself. Incidentally, this study says men who post a lot of selfies may be psychopaths. Good thing I’m not a dude.

Eight days ’til China: Sleep Deprivation 2, Electric Boogaloo

So, I’ve had this ridiculous cold that’s come and gone for something like six weeks. It manifests itself with a tickling, persistent cough that wakes me up in the middle of the night. I fumble for the medicine cabinet, grab the Chloraseptic and start spraying frantically, so’s I don’t wake Steve. That happened last night, at 3 a.m.

Then, at 5:50, I heard a nearby smoke alarm chirping. You know, that bloody irritating sound they make when they’re out of batteries. I had my earplugs in and tried to deny that there was an insistent chirping noise outside my bedroom door, since Steve was having no trouble doing that. I felt that he should share in this experience, so I elbowed him. He didn’t move. I shoved him, nicely.

“What?” he grumbled. Steve is difficult to wake.

“There’s a smoke alarm chirping, and I can’t reach it,” I told him. That was a tiny fib, because I didn’t exactly know if I could reach it.  Steve’s tall, so it seemed reasonable to expect him to handle it. Right?

“I don’t hear it,” he said.

“Well, I do. And it’s right outside Bini’s door, so it’s bound to wake him up.”

That did it. Steve heaved himself from bed and went to look for the offending chirping. At our old house, all I had to do was open the smoke alarm and rip out the battery, and we’d be good until I remembered to buy another one. But this smoke alarm will not be silenced. I heard Steve struggling with it, while it chirped ever more aggressively. After about ten minutes, he came back in and flopped back into bed.

“What happened?” I asked, as though he’d been tussling with a crocodile.

“It won’t shut up,” he said. “I wrapped it in some blankets and buried it in the room.” He put in his earplugs.

By then, it was after 6 a.m., and I knew it was pointless to try and go back to sleep. So I lay there, for 50 minutes, until the alarm went off. Then I made Steve get up and make coffee.

In two weeks, I think I might have to be more participatory.

Off to buy a 9-volt battery.