6.30.2009

A Little Bit of This... A Little Bit of That

Our Consumables shipment weighed in at a WHOPPING 1620 pounds. Holy heavy batman! I was completely caught off guard and couldn't believe that our stuff actually weighed this much (considering I had no idea since they didn't bring along their scale). So I told the moving company that I wouldn't approve the paperwork until I physically saw them weigh the boxes. So guess who schlepped the 45 minutes up to their warehouse last Saturday morning to watch them open up the crate and re-weigh the boxes? And who had the General Manager personally come in on his day off to escort me through the building. And who left a stinky diaper in the ladies bathroom - though that was just an added bonus.

Oh yeah... the boxes really did weigh 1620 pounds. Wowsers.



(Photo taken at the mover's warehouse)

After 88 days, the kids and I checked out of our hotel and moved into my in-laws house. Our government per diem had come to an end and it was time to gather, organize, and cram all of our "stuff" into their home until we head back to Chennai next week.

It has been a frustrating 3 weeks dealing with Matt's incompetent and apathetic HR technician in DC, but late this afternoon I finally received the amended travel orders that added officially Grady as another family member, and authorized him to fly back with the girls and me in business class. Without disclosing the upsetting and inane e-mail exchange I had with WAY too many people in the HR department, I ultimately got fed up and sent an e-mail to the State Department Executive Director detailing my plight. Amazingly, within 20 minutes I received a response from him, and less than 30 minutes later I had my amended orders. While the process is far from finished (of course there's more ridiculous paperwork that has to be completed in order to get Grady's ticket), we're at least one BIG step closer to heading back to Chennai.

Amidst the craziness, I had an opportunity to leave the kiddos with my in-laws and go to dinner with a gaggle of Sorority sisters I probably haven't seen in over 10 years. What a hoot to see them, catch up on the past several years, and reminisce about the good old days.



Left: Photo of us from last night.
Right
: Photo taken in 1992 with most of the girlies (courtesy of Facebook)

6.24.2009

The Credit Card Melted Just In Time

It's that time of year again folks. When the Perlman's spend a fortune stocking up on every conceivable consumable that we think we may need for the next year. This summer was no exception. After last year's shipment, I thankfully had a much better idea of what we needed, and how long the items would last in our pantry (due to consumption or expiration).

The moving company came today, though not without incident. Shocker, eh? See, the State Department uses a 3rd party carrier who contracts out and organizes the shipments via local moving companies. Unfortunately, with too many cooks in the kitchen, there was a complete lack of communication that led to a handful of issues. While I detailed all my needs with the contracting company, the moving company had their own agenda... that CLEARLY did not gel with mine. Not a great idea to mess with a post partum woman who has little patience for incompetence to begin with...

Not only did the moving company NOT call me yesterday to let me know what time they were going to arrive (I finally called them at 3pm), I was only then told that my request for a morning move would not be honored, and that they'd be there between 12 - 2 pm... which was a problem because I had to pick up the girls from camp). They called me at 10:45 am today and said they were on time and they'd be there around noon .... though they really didn't make it there until 2:55 pm!! The dispatcher didn't call 1/2 hour prior to arrival (or any time for that matter) to let me know the crew were on their way. When they DID arrive the crew told me that they didn't have my phone number to let me know they were running late. AND they forgot the most important item for the pack-out... the scale.

Our weight limits are a little different this year than last year. With our newborn munchkin, we are allotted 250 pounds to send via UAB (air shipment), and approximately 1800 pounds to send via sea freight (though we don't want to use it all up because we'll need the remaining weight for next summer's shipment). Obviously a scale is rather important with our air shipment because if we go over the 250 pounds, it costs us $4.72 PER additional pound. So, I spent a lot of time guesstimating how much everything weighed. I sorted out the air shipment into piles of "needs to get there immediately" vs. "would be nice to be sent via air shipment rather than schlepping on the airplane". But all the planning and organizing went out the window when I was told they couldn't weigh my stuff right there. Ummm... I lost it.

Without boring you with the details of my stern, yet calm phone call to the contracting company and then the moving company, let's just say that any additional air shipment weight will be paid for by the moving company. End of story.

The pack-out took just under two hours today, with three guys there to wrap up all the stuff. When they started working they were really quite efficient. In all, I shipped 16 boxes via air and 30 boxes of consumables.

Tomorrow I'll find out the weight of everything we shipped, and if you're interested in knowing what we shipped this year compared to last year, let me know and I'll do another list.

Here's a photo from today. Here's the link to see the photo from last year...





Left: Consumables, toiletries, paper products. Right: Baby stuff for the layette shipment



Ahhhh... the good stuff!



Left: The Air shipment. Right: The Consumables Shipment

6.22.2009

The Price Of Sanity ... $592

TGFMC ... otherwise known as Thank Goodness For Mini Camp ... starts tomorrow at the JCC.

I enrolled both girls for the 3/4 day mini camp program this week, which gives me exactly 6 1/2 hours each day to get as much done before I'm back to schlepping around three kids instead of just one. See, in my quest to hemorrhage as much money as possible this summer, sanity presented itself for the low, low price of $266 per week / per child for camp. And I bought it. Along with lunch for $6 per day / per child. Which I bought as well. It's all about the convenience. Isn't kid-free shopping worth almost any amount of money?

This weekend the girls were troopers as I dragged them to two different Trader Joe's stores, Starbucks (a given), Ikea, and Babies 'R Us. I was so frantic to get everything done that by the time we got into our last store, I didn't care that they were singing on the top of their lungs the All American Rejects song "Give You Hell" ... with the correct lyrics! Whatevah!

Monday I'll be spending a majority of my morning finalizing the organization of our layette and consumables shipment that will be packed up and moved out on Tuesday. I need to finish sealing up all the liquids in Ziploc bags that may potentially leak and ruin other items in the box, which happened last year with my Swiffer Wet packages. I don't want a repeat performance this year!

By Tuesday afternoon I'll feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. While I could have shopped when I first arrived and shipped the consumables out much earlier, we decided to wait towards the end of our visit to ensure that we bought most everything we needed to survive the next year. We also knew that it would take approximately three weeks to receive our layette shipment in India, and that we'd want it to arrive there around the same time we did. This way we weren't waiting for the necessities (like the stroller, more formula, diapers, clothes, etc) on the other side, nor were we inconvenienced too badly when we shipped out stuff we were using here (like the bouncy seat and bath tub). And let's be honest - who wants the movers to come twice?

While I continue my shopping excursions, deal with the movers, and go to three separate doctor's appointments later this week, the girls will be having a blast at Gymnastics and Cheer camp. They'll enjoy being with other kids learning cheers, tumbling, swimming, and burning off excess energy. Which means they won't be shopping with me.

Though sanity may be highly overpriced, it certainly isn't over rated.

6.19.2009

So Long Daddy... See You In A Few Weeks!

Matt arrived back in India today after traveling a grueling 29 hours. I dropped him off at the airport yesterday around 6 am, and after two layovers and three plane changes, he made it to Chennai safe and sound... with a 14 pound Butterball Turkey for Thanksgiving, and 6 pounds of sausage in his bag.

It's hard to believe that the last 5 1/2 weeks passed so quickly. So much happened during his trip here... We had a baby. He had 2 gum surgeries. He got sick... twice. We schlepped around buying everything, including the kitchen sink, for our consumables and layette shipment. He became Mr. Mom... and did a great job.

This definitely wasn't a vacation for Matt. He had little time to himself and had to pick up exactly where I left off. He had to step in and completely take care of the girls... including everything school related, after school related, and all the schlepping in between. He made breakfast, he made lunches, he picked out school clothes, and he did hair do's (and many times hair don'ts). He was amazing. And most importantly, he now has a greater appreciation for me and everything I do for the kids and family.

Of course now that Matt is gone I am left here by myself with the 3 kidlets. Yikes. Our first night alone was just OK... with only a few minor meltdowns. We managed to do baths, dinner, and bedtime in a relatively timely manner, followed up this morning with the daily routine and getting Riley to her last day of school with a few minutes to spare (which hasn't always happened...).

We have a little shy of 3 weeks left before we head back to India to join him. There's so much to do and so little time. The girls have mini camp at the JCC next week. I have our big consumables and layette pack-out and shipment. We have a wedding in Indianapolis.

Wish me luck these next few weeks that I make it through each day with some semblance of sanity - and a bottle of wine always available.



6.17.2009

Father's Day Came Early This Year

My in-laws threw an early Father's Day bash last Sunday since Matt isn't going to be with us next Sunday to share in the festivities. This is the second year in a row that we've celebrated early, although this time my dad flew down from northern California to join us.

The weather had been horrible all week. Luckily, last Sunday was a spectacular day. The kids enjoyed the sand and sun at the beach, while the rest of the adults hung out at the house, passed Grady around, and noshed on all the homemade goodies.

Here are a few photos from the day:



Left: The girls with their cousins Justin and Andrew



Right: Four Generations of Perlmans ...



The kids with my dad




Grady and my dad comparing their hairlines... or lack thereof!

6.16.2009

I'll Take Colic With A Side Of Reflux Please

It's not for me, it's for my son. And neither of us really asked for it, though he got it (and I'm dealing with it) nonetheless. For the past few weeks, little baby Gray has been fussing uncontrollably every single night from around 6 pm - 8:30 pm. It's not horrible, but it isn't fun either. At first we thought it may be his food ... or gas ... or both. But after paying closer attention to his demeanor, what sets him off, and how long it lasts, we realized that it wasn't anything that we were doing. It's just him. Thankfully he's somewhat consolable, and will calm down if he's picked up and rocked... it's just not realistic to be carrying him around all evening.

We've never had a colicky baby. Nor have we dealt with one who had reflux. But we hit the jackpot and got a two'fer. So not only is Grady fussy in the evenings before bedtime, but he also has reflux which keep him sniffling, snorting, and wheezing all night long. Apparently, the gases from his stomach go up into his nasal cavity, burn the back of his throat, and cause the congestion. Poor baby. We're trying the non-medicated route first where we are elevating his crib and keeping him propped up as much as possible during the evening so he doesn't accumulate gasses. However, if it doesn't show significant improvement we will probably put him on Zantac.

Last Friday we went to the pediatrician for Grady's 4 week appointment to complete the State Department's medical clearance. At one month old he is 9 lbs 10 oz and 22 inches. After giving him a once-over, the doctor filled out all of the paperwork, and agreed that he is healthy enough to accompany us overseas. Perfect timing as he now has his passport. Woo hoo! Now we just need to get his Indian Visa. If only it were that easy....



6.07.2009

It's My Birthday and I'll Vacuum Seal Sugar and Flour If I Want To...

Well actually my birthday was yesterday, but as it's just a day that now puts me closer to 40 than to 30, we're not making a huge deal of it, OK? I spent most of the afternoon organizing our consumables shipment... separating out the food items from the cleaning supplies. We don't want the movers to pack them all in the same boxes (which they did last year and ruined several items). Now I don't care if they want to box up the toilet paper or paper towels with the snicky snack foods, but packing up soap items with chips is a horrible idea. As we know from previous experience, soap tasting chips are NOT that yummy. Blech! I also stole a fabulous idea from a friend in Chennai (hi Edith!) and after purchasing 50 pounds of flour and 40 pounds of sugar, I individually vacuum sealed each bag. Vacuum sealing serves two purposes... to keep them somewhat fresh, and to protect them from the bugs.

Many of you have asked me how much we spend on consumables each year. While we do buy in bulk and try to save as much money as we can, items like medication, alcohol, and now baby items are very pricey (one week of formula alone is $23 a can). We hit the $3000 mark last week, and we still have several items to purchase.... holy expensive batman!

Matt's closest childhood friend Dave was here visiting on Friday and Saturday, so he spent the weekend catching up on the past 6 years since we last saw him and his family. It was great seeing him again and look forward to getting the families (along with Matt's other Stamford friends) together sometime next summer. Hint-Hint!!



6.04.2009

Things That Make You Say "Oye Vay"

After a super fun weekend with our friends (which was action packed with multiple park trips, the swap meet, and the beach), we're rushing around again... hoping that we can get everything accomplished before Matt heads back to India in two short weeks.

There's a heck of a lot that needs to be done in order to get Grady cleared to travel back to Chennai with us in mid-July. Such as... getting our orders amended to add a layette shipment (which allows us to ship 250 pounds of baby stuff to India on the U.S. Government's dime), getting his medical clearance, his Diplomatic Passport, his Indian Visa, and officially adding him on Matt's orders, which one would think would be easy... though they'd be very, very wrong. Once the above is taken care of, we can take the final steps to get Grady's airline ticket, which will be at the last possible minute. Oye Vay!

In addition to Grady's never ending paperwork, Matt and I have also been shopping 'til we drop for our consumables shipment. We've spent several hours each day in Target, Smart & Final, Pavilions, and Costco... and we STILL need to go to Trader Joe's and make another run or two to Costco. Our pocket book is not happy with us and our purchases have even set off an "fraud alarm" within our credit card company... which you KNOW thrilled me to no end when our card was denied twice due to suspicious activity. Give me another Oye Vay!

On Monday I had an appointment with a new endocrinologist who both my OB and my Hematologist recommended. I wanted to switch over from the thyroid medication I first got in Israel to one they use here in the States. My appointment was at 11 am. I got there ten minutes early to fill out all the new patient paperwork. Then I waited. And waited. And waited some more. At 12:30 pm, I was finally called back into the exam room. As I made my way from the waiting room into the "other side" I thankfully asked THE tell tale question, "How long before the doctor sees me?" The answer? Somewhere between 20 - 30 minutes. I lost it. I grabbed my day planner and my medical files, walked up to the receptionist and told her I was leaving. However, I wasn't greeted with a very kind response. In fact, she was quick to bark at me and let me know that the doctor cares so much for her patients that she gives them all the time they need... and they forewarned me that she often runs behind. I could understand a thirty minute wait, and maybe go as far as 45 minutes. But 2 hours? I didn't even wait for her to check her appointment book, but rather I asked her to please call me when she could find a day when I would be the doctor's FIRST patient. I guess I shouldn't be very surprised that 3 days later I still haven't heard from them. Don't leave me hanging on the Oye Vay!

The worst part of the week was yesterday when Matt went back to the periodontist to have another gum grafting surgery on a tooth that just didn't take. This is his 4th surgery in the last 2 years. Let's hope this one takes because he's DONE! Oh yeah... Matt deserves a DOUBLE Oye Vay here!

On a much lighter note... here are a few photos from the weekend!



At the park. Grady was obviously a bit over bundled!



Before and after photos at the beach.
On the left the girls were dry... on the right is when they decided to play in the ocean
with all their clothes on!




The Gang



Another family portrait

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