What a difference a week makes

After last week’s not-so-great car dealer experience, I wasn’t really looking forward to doing it again.  On Friday, I made two appointments, one each for two cars (a Jeep Renegade and a Nissan Rogue).  The guy on the phone (central office again) said the location doesn’t appear to be appointment-only.  I said it was last week, and is there any way to know for sure?  He said I could call them, and I think I managed to hide my frustration when I asked how, since the number I called to reach him was the local RI number.  He told me to follow prompts to the business office.  Cool.  I did, I spoke to someone, and YES.  This week IS different from last week.  They’re almost back to normal, with social distancing rules in place.  We can walk the lot, test drive as many cars as we want, and except that it might take a little longer because they have to prep the cars first, it’s almost normal.  Whew.

So Saturday, we got there around 11, and two hours later, we left, having both driven three cars (Jeep Renegade, Nissan Rogue, and a Ford Escape), AND – more importantly – having pretty much decided that we want to buy a Rogue.  Now comes the obnoxious part: we have to find the newest car we can find, with all the features we want, with the lowest mileage, for the lowest price.  Within reason.

As of this writing, it is possible we have found it at a Nissan dealership in Warwick.  They have several that appear  to meet our requirements.  One of the features isn’t listed, but I called and was assured that because they all have the other features, the missing one is standard, and don’t worry about it.  We’ll find out on Monday, because car dealerships don’t appear to be open on Sundays anymore.  Our backup is to have CarMax ship the only one they have in the entire country up here from Maryland.

I had no idea I could be that kind of buyer.

But we are so close I can smell it.

When did this happen?

This whole car thing has unearthed an unsavory side to our lifestyle recently that I would really like to fix.  We have become COMPLETELY irresponsible with the mail.

Maybe not completely irresponsible.  We pay our bills, but then again, most of those don’t come in the mail.

We decided to sign the car over to the mechanic rather than get it fixed or donate it.  It’s the easiest course of action, and we’ve got a lot going on.  So what does it take to do that?  Not a lot – just sign the title over to them.  Got it.  Cool.  We planned to go first thing in the morning.  Say goodbye to the car, take some last pictures, sign over the title.

We were up, dressed, Jack had eaten, shoes were on, and we were all ready to go.  John went upstairs to the file box that has all of our important documents, but then he didn’t come back down.  And he didn’t come down.  And he still didn’t come down.  Eventually, a “Zannah…?” floated down the stairs.  “Yeah?” back up the stairs.  “Can you think of anywhere else the title could be?”

And thus began the destruction of our house.

We turned it upside down, and in doing so, found all of the places we’d been squirreling away mail.  (There were a lot of places.)  Not to hide it, not to avoid dealing with it, but to get it out of the way when we’re picking up or expecting company.  Very bad habit.

We did not find the title.

I called the DMV to figure out what we do now.  We can get a duplicate title by mail, but it’ll take 3 weeks.  What are we supposed to do with the car for 3 weeks?  Last time John called them, they said they’ll charge $30 a day for storage.  Maybe we could have USAA tow the car back to our driveway.

Plan B!  I called the mechanic and explained what was going on.  He said not to worry about it – just bring a copy of the registration, he’ll have us sign a thing, and they’ll take it from there.  If the title turned up in the meantime, bring it to him.  He was super nice to me, said they wouldn’t charge us for storage, and I got a “don’t worry your pretty little head” vibe from him, but it was working to our advantage, so I’m not complaining.  Now, of COURSE we’ll still get the duplicate title and eventually get it to him.  I don’t want anything weird about the car hanging over our heads.

So that’s great, that’s the plan, and John found time for us to go down there Thursday afternoon.  So Thursday afternoon rolls around, and as we were getting ready to go, I picked up the registration I pulled out of the car when I emptied it last week.

Well….crap.  It expired.  At the end of JANUARY.  And neither of us remembers renewing it.  I went online to check – inconclusive. I called the DMV.  YUP.  We have been driving an unregistered car since the beginning of February.  Granted, we haven’t been driving it MUCH these past two months, but STILL.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH US?

The car doesn’t have to be registered to sign the title over to someone, so that was helpful, and the car was not at all driveable, so that’s not really an issue, either, but the mechanic was expecting a copy of the registration!

We decided to go anyway.  I went in to talk to Leo and laid it on the line.  Not only could we not find the title, but it turns out our registration had expired.  He laughed sympathetically, told me it was fine, and then declined to charge us even for the hour they spent diagnosing the engine problem.  He said we’d had a rough week already.  Maybe he expects to make enough off of our car that he can afford to do that, but I choose to believe he’s just that nice of a guy (and he wants our business when we get our next car).

So that all worked out, and we no longer own the Tucson (except that we totally do because we didn’t sign the non-existent title over), and I have a Mid Year Resolution.

HANDLE THE $%#&*$! MAIL.

First step, sort through and toss or shred the existing mountains of unsorted mail, which is what I have been doing, a little bit at a time, for the last several days.  I’m making real progress.

I can see for miles and miles

I MADE INDIAN FOOD!!!

For someone who professes to love Indian food (that would be me), it sure did take me a long time to try cooking it myself.  To be fair (to myself), I’m not exactly an enthusiastic cook.  I would much prefer Indian takeout but the nearest one is not that near.

I found an instant pot recipe for butter chicken, had almost all of the ingredients (I had to make two minor substitutions – so minor they basically don’t count), and it turned out pretty well!  I am super excited about the leftovers.

I took zero pictures because by the time it was ready, I was hungry.  Also, you know, it looked like tomato sauce and chicken over rice.  Oh, yeah, I made basmati rice in our rice cooker, which hasn’t seen the outside of the cabinet in, let’s see, when did Corey and Christine give us that instant pot?

My horizons, they are expanding.  Figuratively speaking.

I can also leap tall buildings in a single bound

I have put Jack down for real, honest-to-god, SOLID naps for THREE days in a row!  I did it, I am awesome, and I am for real doing the Carlton dance (which, ahem, I have learned since that video call with Corey and Mel).  (For those wondering, I did an approximation of the Kevin Bacon Footloose dance instead.)

For my next feat, I will turn a toddler into a blueberry.  He is HOOVERING blueberries lately.

Are obnoxiously arrogant teenagers better than brooding vampires?

Oh, this book I’m reading.  It’s young adult, which usually means it’ll be fast-paced at least, and the premise is interesting, and it’s not TOO teen-angsty (yet), and no one has asked me to sympathize with an ancient brooding vampire inexplicably in love with a 15-year-old (YET).  Okay, that last one isn’t fair – none of the characters are ancient brooding vampires, or even vampires at all.  But there’s at least one really obvious plot twist coming (I KNOW WHO YOUR FATHER IS, MAIN CHARACTER), and if I’m meant to believe none of these characters even suspected, then the author thinks I’m an idiot.  Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised and be totally wrong.

I sound like I don’t like the book.  I’m enjoying it, when I have time to read, but I’m usually really tired by then, and I can’t get very far in one sitting before I’m unconscious.  This is a terrible position to be in.

Naps 2: The Nappening

In the last week, Jack has gotten one nap, and that was a short one.  We’ve both tried, neither of us has been successful, so we decided to reset again.  When John took over naps, the idea was that he would put a sleepy Jack down in the crib, give him a couple of minutes to settle down, and then leave.  If Jack cried, John would check in on him at increasing intervals (Ferber method).  When John was doing naps and it was working, he never had to do the Ferber thing.  Jack fell asleep within a couple of minutes every time.  Then he started taking longer to fall asleep, and then he wasn’t falling asleep at all. We kind of lost the plan, and so now we’re here.

Reset.  Again.  Back to Ferber, but since John really needs to work, I’m stepping back in.  Our plan yesterday was to have John read to him and put him down, then leave, and I’d do the check-ins.  John left, Jack started crying, and John retreated to his office and his headphones.  I waited out the five minutes (No fun – he sounded more upset than mad, not like the last time we tried this. I can outwait mad.), and then I went in.  Jack went into panic mode when he realized I wasn’t going to pick him up.  He had worked himself into a sweat, he was clutching at me and sobbing and calling my name, and with all of that, I still tried to leave like I’m supposed to.  He let out this wail I’ve never heard from him, like I was leaving him forever, and I rushed back in to pick him up.  We cried together, and John came back to give him a hug and apologize.

Experiment over.  We’re not doing it.  John is going to read the No-Cry Nap Method and try to get more advice out of it than I did months ago, and the meantime, we’re not going to leave him alone like that.

That was yesterday.  Last night he didn’t sleep well.  He was up from around 2:20 to a little after 4, and then he woke up for the day at 5:45.  We played and snacked and took a very exciting walk and played and snacked, and then I took him upstairs around 11:30, maybe a few minutes earlier.  We followed our nap routine (diaper change, back into pjs and the nap sack), and sat in the big chair to read a couple of books.  We read four short ones, and he was knuckling his eyes and yawning the whole time.  (In between books, you’d never know he was sleepy – he springs forward, practically falling out of my lap to point to the next book, or to scan the floor for one he just knows is around here somewhere.)  After the fourth book, I picked him up and he didn’t protest when I put him in the crib.  He went down flat and reached for my hand.  I started describing our morning (at one point, he sat up straight and shouted “GUCK!”), and he was asleep within three minutes.  I retrieved my hand and snuck out.  As of right now, he’s been asleep for an hour.

Fluke.  Today’s nap is the result of not sleeping well last night, and I REALLY don’t want that to be the norm.  But my plan, if he doesn’t go to sleep so easily tomorrow, is to try to soothe him to sleep from outside the crib, like we do at night, for around half an hour.  If he’s not asleep within that window, then I’ll have everything ready to go so I can just throw him in the stroller and go for a long walk.  At least he’ll get some restful time, and if we’re lucky, maybe he’ll snooze a little.

Fried

I am having SO MUCH TROUBLE ordering yard bags and a garden hose, and I can’t tell if the problem is me.  I don’t think it is, but how can I be sure?

I started with Home Depot.  Yard bags are about $2.50 for five.  Great.  But wait – why go pick them up (and encounter people) when surely I can get them from Amazon?  Because AMAZON charges nearly $3 PER BAG, that’s why.  Back to Home Depot.  We need a garden hose, too, so I’ll just get both at the same time.  Easy!

NOT EASY.  First, we need a second hose because our first isn’t long enough.  But what size is our hose, 1/2′ or 5/8′?  Neither of us knows.  Let’s assume 5/8′ because that seems to be the size of most of the hoses.  I pick one.  I go to my cart.  Error.  Why?  That hose is no longer available online.  Not out of stock – no longer available online.  IT WAS AVAILABLE TEN SECONDS AGO.  So I picked another one.  It’s not available at my store, but it can be shipped for free from another store.  Great!  Oh, not until June.  And if I just want something shipped directly to me, it’ll take almost three weeks.

Deep breath.  I can get the bags at Home Depot.  Let’s go to Amazon for a hose.  And now I’m back to choosing which hose.  Amazon’s pick is $40.  That seems ridiculous for a garden hose.  The same brand has one for $25.  Cool.  Reviews are positive…but then there’s the one that mentions needing to buy some different fittings before it’ll connect to another hose, which is LITERALLY why I’m buying a hose.

Counting to ten.  Walking away.  WAIT.  I changed my search a little bit and found a 50′ hose with what appear to be normal ends that’s only $32.  This brand’s 25′ version (we only need 25′ for a second hose) is – DEAR GOD WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME – $40.

WHY?  Why is the shorter hose, same exact hose but HALF the length, MORE expensive?  This is stupid.  I’m ordering the 50′ hose.  And going to bed.

Buying a car always sucks, but now it sucks harder

The solution to our car problem is to junk it and buy a new (used) car.  We’ve decided to use CarMax because they’re less hassle than other dealerships and that’s worth a lot to us.  They’re open during these trying times (UGH – can’t believe I wrote that unironically), but you can’t just walk onto the lot and pick out cars to test drive.  You can still test drive a car, but you have to pick the one you want online and then make an appointment specifically to see that car.  I get it – they’re short-staffed and they are cleaning the cars before appointments – but you can only see one car per appointment, and it is really hard to schedule appointments.  I called early Friday, and I could only get two appointments for Saturday, at 5pm and at 6pm.  One car each.  They tell me that they’re expecting people to pick out the car they want to buy, test drive it, and then buy it (or not).  But how can you be sure which car you want until you test drive it?  And then, when we got there on Saturday, the salesperson seemed truly annoyed that we wanted to see two cars, even though we had separate appointments for each so how is that any different than seeing two different customers?  Is she trying to tell me that I can only test drive one car a day?

We got there, parked in the designated space, and called the number.  She came out, got our licenses, I emailed our proof of insurance, we had this really confusing conversation about how we’re not supposed to test drive more than one car but she’ll let us get away with it, and then we didn’t see her again for 20 minutes.  Why?  I don’t know.  Car buying sucks.

So she finally called me again and told us we could see the first car.  John went first – if he’s not comfortable in whatever car we pick, there is no point in continuing with it.  It was a Chevy Equinox (2017, I think), and it’s BIG.  John was pretty comfortable, and we both liked it pretty well.  Not enough to buy THAT one, but enough to find one with the features we want and that doesn’t make a weird noise when we brake.

The second car was a Subaru Forester (also 2017), which I was pretty excited about, and guys, I liked it.  John did, too, EXCEPT he had to lower the seat all the way down and slouch quite a bit to be able to not hit his head.  Also, the backseat doesn’t have any more room than the Tuscon did (which is not much).  But it drove SO much better than the Equinox.  So I’m a little bummed, but John hasn’t completely given up on it. He’d like to have a little more time to sit in a Forester and figure out if he could fully adjust the seat to where he’d be comfortable.  We were feeling pretty rushed on Saturday.

And if the Equinox isn’t the right car (although it could have been, if we hadn’t followed it with the Forester, so maybe we need to cut it some slack), and if John doesn’t fit in the Forester, then we’re back to square one, and HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO PICK A CAR IF WE CAN’T TEST DRIVE MORE THAN ONE?

Regular dealerships are so IRRITATING.  But I will probably call the Subaru dealer to find out if they have any used Foresters.  I think the Outback is off the list because it’s supposed to smaller in every dimension.

UGH.

Change It Up

I’ve read in a million places that toddlers thrive on routine, but I can’t help but think that can get boring.  And routine doesn’t have to equal doing EXACTLY the same thing at the same time every day, right?  It can mean doing the same KIND of thing, yes?  Well, for my own sanity, the answer to that had better be yes.

I love Sesame Street to pieces, but I can only listen to the two classic sing-along albums so many times in one morning.  I LOVE that he likes them, but we need some variation, so I thought we’d try some Raffi.  I don’t know how I missed out on Raffi – I just looked him up and he was certainly active early enough – but I remember the kids I babysat being into his stuff.  (John doesn’t understand how it is that I am not familiar with “Baby Beluga”.  That’s just the way it is, man.)  Well, Jack wouldn’t even let me get through two songs, but I’m not giving up.  We’ll try again some other day.  In the meantime, I LOVE “Oscar Don’t Allow”, so those two Sesame Street albums can stay in rotation.

Car Trouble in the Time of Covid

Jack had a very exciting morning yesterday. He got to see a tow truck in action, up close and personal.  I suppose it was exciting for us, too, but tinged with a wide streak of Really? This is happening now?!?

John loaded the car up with some yard waste to take to the transfer station, but he didn’t get far.  The car sputtered to a stop right outside our front-yard neighbor’s house, and he pushed it into the parking area for the apartments right there on the corner.  It had been running rough for the last few days (or the last couple of times I drove it, anyway), but we figured that was a spark plug issue and we were planning that kind of maintenance.

We called our local repair place, got a tow truck dispatched from USAA (using the repair place’s towing service, turns out), and found out this morning that the engine seized up.

I am SO not in the mood for this.  Major engine repair, engine replacement, or new (used) car.  No, thanks!  Not now!  But this is what we will figure out over the next few days.

The tow truck part was pretty cool, though.  It was a flat-bed truck, and we (with Jack) watched the guy winch the car up onto the flat-bed and drive away. I got it on video for Jack’s endless perusal.

Can’t brain

Today was not a good day for braining.  Jack woke up at 2:45am and got some snatches of sleep before he gave up on trying around 4am, so the three of us have pretty much been up since 2:45 this morning. Well, Jack’s asleep now, but I’m coasting on fumes and won’t be conscious much longer.  Also, his nap was WAY too short and then, tired and upset as he was after only sleeping for 40 minutes, he couldn’t settle down enough to sleep again.

On the plus side, I’m the one who got him to sleep for his nap today, so yay me!  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my nap technique that had him waking up 40 minutes later.

BUT short nap yesterday then bad night last night then short nap today possibly means bad night again tonight soooooo I’m going to bed right now.

Terribly sorry about only complaining about my lack of sleep tonight.  Let’s try again tomorrow.

I cannot be trusted

A quick search on my blog tells me that I have not told you the story about the time I let the neighbor’s sheep out of its pen.  I was reminded of it because I talked to that neighbor the other day.  I did NOT tell him this story.

Last summer, we met the neighbors who had recently moved in to the big house at the end of the lane behind us.  They’re super nice, and they happily gave us the use of the lane between their house and their barn so we could use it as a path through to the neighborhood on the other side.  They were putting up gates on either end of the path to prevent random traffic, but they assured me that I should feel free to go through them whenever.

I didn’t want to take advantage of this shortcut, but it was awfully convenient, and we used it happily for a few weeks.  And then they got two baby sheep.

They kept the sheep in the fenced area in front of the barn with the two gates, right where we would walk through, so I avoided going that way for a while.  I didn’t want to assume it was still okay since, you know, livestock.  The next time I saw them, maybe a few weeks later, they mentioned that we hadn’t been by lately, and I explained (sheep, gates, don’t want to assume), and they assured me it was fine (pish, tosh, nonsense, of course you can still walk through) – they really are very nice people.

I didn’t immediately take them up on their offer, but it wasn’t TOO long before we started using the path again.  Jack was always in the stroller, so I would park it close by one gate, open it just enough to get the stroller through, get him through as fast I could, and then hurry to close the gate.  Same drill on the other end, and then repeat on the way back.  Getting out was always a little harder than getting in because these were very friendly little lambs, rushing over as soon as we came in, butting at my knees, baaing.  (Jack paid no attention, but I thought it was cute.)  Still, for a good while I was able to get in and get out, going for the walk and coming back home, without mishap.

Then came the mishap.

Jack was sleeping soundly so we were heading home, and we got back in the fence without any issue.  It was getting out where we had a problem.  The only thing that saved me is that one of the sheep was less interested than the other.  Both were at the gate with me, and when I told them to go away (before I opened the gate), one of them listened (the bigger one, thank goodness).  The other did not, so I held him (her?) off with my knee, like you would a jumping dog, while I opened the gate just barely enough to get the stroller through.  I got through, too, and I was closing the gate when the littler sheep squeezed past.

I set the brake on the stroller as quickly as I could, shut the gate before the other sheep got out, and tried to somehow chase after the runaway sheep without spooking it.  It headed toward the house instead of toward the road (whew), not running (double whew), so I crept that way talking to it (here, little lamby-lamby, I’m not going to hurt you).  It gave me some crazy looks, teased me a couple of times by heading in my direction only to scamper off, and at one point completely freaked me out by dashing toward the driveway.  I only caught it because it stopped to eat some ivy, and I cannot say how grateful I am that it was still a baby (maybe knee-high) because I was able to pick it up and keep it restrained while I got the gate open again and shoved it back in.

No one was home to witness my misadventure except Jack, who was no longer napping (we were not exactly quiet).

We haven’t used their path as a shortcut since.

If only they weren’t weeds

Yesterday was a beautiful warm day, so I thought I’d do something helpful AND be outside.  Yesterday was the day I would pull up dandelions.  And then I went outside and really looked.  Guys, we have SO many dandelions.  Acres of dandelions.  Endless seas of dandelions.  Dandelions as far as the eye can see.

I started in the far corner of the yard, with Jack nearby, our portable speaker in his hands playing Sesame Street songs.  He was as not interested in pulling up dandelions or playing in the dirt as you can possibly be and still be breathing, so my dandelion-pulling was interrupted by chasing after him – he headed for the street by way of the neighbor’s yard, he headed for the playset by way of the woods where poison ivy is probably making a comeback, and he headed for John who was in the driveway feeding branches to the chipper.  I felt like a sheepdog.

I went back to it while Jack was napping, shifting my focus to the front of the house where at least someone (me) would see the improvement, and I was able to make a dent before I gave up for the day.  There’s a very clear swath of dandelion-free grass.

Tomorrow will be when I realize how much I missed.

Picking out clothes

I didn’t know it started this early, but Jack has OPINIONS about his clothes.  For one thing, if he sees one of his doot d’doo shirts*, then he wants to wear it.  Nothing else will do d’doo.  (I’m sorry.)  He will not be persuaded otherwise.

*For the uninitiated, doot d’doo = superhero.

John and I have both taken to hiding those shirts so Jack won’t see them when we open the drawer – it’s our only hope of getting him to wear anything else.  The drawer with his shirts is the top left drawer of his dresser, right under his changing pad.  He can (and does) reach into it while sitting on top of the changing pad.  This morning, I got him into a soft, warm, long-sleeved gray shirt, but he reached into the drawer, said “oowee”, and grabbed a red shirt.  I held it up, and (my mistake), said “This is just a plain red shirt.  It’s not your oowee shirt.” I put it back.  So Jack reached in again and pulled out the other red shirt, which most definitely WAS his oowee shirt (fire engine).  I tried “You’re already wearing a shirt.  We can wear this one tomorrow.”  He pulled at the sleeves of the gray shirt, the one he had on, and said, “No.  Oowee.”

How can I argue with that?  The kid knows what he wants to wear.  It’s a good thing the t-shirts I just ordered are all covered in either fire trucks or superheroes.

I Googled myself

Dad mentioned something about being careful who I write about here because what if they find my blog, and I assured him that this person doesn’t know I have a blog, doesn’t know my last name, and even if she did, she wouldn’t be able to find my blog by googling me.

Hours later, I thought I’d verify the googling me part.  The first hit by googling my first and last name is  my LinkedIn profile, which is pretty out of date.  All other results are for someone else with my name.  The next hit that’s actually me is at the bottom of page 2.  The next one is on page 5, and none of those lead to this website.

Maybe it’s not foolproof, maybe she could find me here, but it’s unlikely.  I’m not worried.

Trying out curbside delivery

We are going to paint soon (maybe next weekend?), but we can’t paint without supplies and we had NOTHING.  Well, we still had a couple of good paintbrushes and some dropcloths, but that’s it.  We needed rollers, the round brush thingies that go on rollers, tape, trays, an extension pole for the rollers, and, of course, paint.

We picked out the colors on Saturday, and I’ll order the paint soon.  We’re going the fancy route and using Sherwin-Williams.  I ordered the other supplies through Home Depot Saturday night, planning to pick them up via the curbside delivery Sunday.

Our day started crazy early because SOMEONE didn’t go back to sleep after waking up at 3:30 that morning, so by 6 or so, we were ready to leave the house.  However, since our first stop was to deliver a couple of hydrangeas to Emily and Sean and get our spackle back, we delayed leaving until the more civilized hour of 7:30.  Turns out they’d been up since shortly after midnight with one kid or the other, so we probably could have gone earlier, but we weren’t about to text them that early to find out.  After a good amount of time (and a good time) chatting with Emily, Sean, and the kids through the window while chasing Jack around the yard and driveway, we headed to Home Depot to pick up our order, which (aside from the somewhat convoluted parking lot) couldn’t have gone smoother.  We parked in the curbside pickup zone – which, incidentally, was not at the curb – and called the number on the sign (which I also had in the notifications I got when the order was ready).  Someone came out pretty quickly with a cart full of our stuff, handed me the receipt, and left.  I loaded the car, sanitized my hands, closed the trunk, returned the car, sanitized my hands, and we went home.  Super easy.

Sherwin-Williams is doing curbside pickup, too, so I’ll order the paint and pick it up sometime this week, and we’ll be ready to paint!