DISCLAIMER: The chaos performed here in the Perlman Household is done by trained professionals, with years and years of experience. Do NOT try this at home.

Myth #1:

If the newly re-ordered palette of Trex for your deck is delivered to your house early Monday morning and your builder comes in the late morning to rip out half your deck and re-install the new Trex, the dye lot on the new Trex will match the dye lot of at least half of the old Trex.


Not surprisingly, the dye lot of the new Trex delivered is still a slightly different shade than both of the previous palettes of Trex. Now we have three different colors of Trex sitting in our driveway.

Myth #2:

When the mold and wet wood from leak in your basement is removed, the pungent smell should begin to dissipate.


Not only is the smell still there, but we now have additional stinky smells in the mix ... including the sanding and painting of the steel beams near the leak and the sealing of a crack in the concrete.

Myth #3:

When the brick and siding are removed from your house in order to get to the basement to remove the mold and wet wood, the weather person who predicted sunny weather for the rest of the week while you wait for the hole in your house to be fixed, will be right.


Not only will the weatherman be wrong and it will rain all night long, but the wind will also be blowing IN the direction of the large hole ... and the half-assed job to cover the hole may not be good enough to keep the water out.

Myth #4:

When receiving an email from the teacher asking you to be the room parent, it is most likely because your reputation preceded you.


You were actually the ONLY one to answer the teacher's email that she blind copied and sent out to eight other parents. Jackass.

Stay tuned for next week's episode where we test out whether or not two girls can keep the spacers in their mouth for required two weeks before they get their palate expander's on. Or whether the Land Rover dashboard warning lights will continue to go off at the most inopportune time.


When It Rains, It Pours ...

... and sometimes even leaks.

We have a smell in the basement. Not one of the typical new basement, new carpet, new paint smells. Rather a different kind of smell that has been there since we've moved in, though has gotten progressively worse over the past eight weeks. It's a smell Matt barely acknowledges, but one that singes my nose hairs every single time I go into the one unfinished room in our house.

I've asked everyone who walks down the street to come in and help me identify the smell. To figure out just where it's coming from. To give me ideas on how to rid it from our home.

The contractors came through and told me that it's just a concrete smell. Or maybe it's the insulation. Their suggestion? Try bleaching it. So four weeks ago we took everything out of the room and spent almost an entire night scrubbing and bleaching the floor. Then the next morning after the concrete was dry, we put an acid wash on the floor and followed up by painting it gray.

All. For. Nothing.

After much insistence, three more people were sent out by the builder to pinpoint the smell., Through deductive reasoning, with absolutely nothing in the room, they determined that it must be the insulation. Four days later the insulation people came to take out the insulation ... only to discover that the smell was still there.

Now I was getting angry.

I called the builder's office again and demanded somebody else come out. Because while I appreciated their confirmation that there IS a smell that ISN'T just concrete or insulation, nobody was pinpointing the cause. And. It. Was. Still. There.

A week ago the warranty manager, who has been dealing with new construction for thirty-plus years, came to the house to identify the smell. In less than ten minutes he discovered that the smell is none other than ... MOLD! Apparently we have a leak in the front of the house that was caused from water build up behind the brick and siding. Awesome! The water managed to slowly move its way down into the basement, thus soaking the wood, rusting a steel piston, and stinking up my room like nobody's business.

While I should be upset that there's a leak, in my brand new house, I'm not. Because after almost eight weeks, the warranty manager (who is totally my new BFF, thus ousting my previous BFF from the DMV) discovered where the smell was coming from and is taking immediate action to have it fixed! Immediate action being ten days later ...

Of course when it rains it pours here ... because nobody does chaos like the Perlman's do chaos.

So on top of the mold and the leak and insane coordination I've had to do with the builder's peeps traipsing in and out of my basement over the past month, we are also in the process of putting a large deck out back. A big, beautiful deck that has taken weeks to design ... to pick out colors and materials ... and to wait for the HOA to approve.

And while everything was going swimmingly the first few days with the framing, wouldn't you know that 3/4 of the way through laying the Trex decking, I noticed something wrong. The dye lots on the two Trex packages were different. Same color ... but a slightly different shade of the same color. And it's only noticeable from one side of the deck... which wasn't the side the contractor was on. Sh*t.

We called the place where the contractor ordered the Trex. And they sent someone out immediately. Sure enough, same color. Different dye lot. Which I was assured almost never happens. Unless you're me.

The next step was for the Trex sales representative to come to my home, take a look at it, and make it right. Which he thankfully did first thing this morning, and agreed to replace it free of charge. So now we have to re-order an entire palette of new Trex in order to match one side of the deck or the other. Rip out the 50 boards of the wrong color. And then continue on ...

To add the cherry on top, I received an email yesterday morning from Riley's teacher. An email asking if I would be the room parent in her class. Not knowing if it was sent just to me or a bevy of other parents, I waited an hour or two before I responded back to her, saying something to the effect of, "sure, if nobody else wants to do it, count me in". Which, two hours later she emailed back saying, "yes, YOU are the one I want to be the room parent".

Crickets ... crickets ...

See, when I filled out the parent volunteer form a few weeks ago, I was the 23rd or 24th parent (out of 25) to put my name on the list. I looked through and noticed that almost everyone checked all the boxes on the list stating that they'd do anything to help in the class ... including be a room parent. By the time I added my name, I actually laughed out loud and stated under my breath that there was no way I'd even be called for anything on the list.

I'll admit that I am really excited to do it this year as last year I was in Sheridan's class every week and never got a chance to focus on Riley. I just find it very interesting that the new mom in the class, the one at the very end of the volunteer list was chosen. The joke seemed to be on me.

Actually, aren't all the jokes these days on me?

Don't answer that ...


Even I, er The Tooth Fairy, Occasionally Make Mistakes ...

While the Tooth Fairy has been known to be a tad harsh when need be ... she normally isn't known for being forgetful.

Little did I know how upset (bummed was her exact word) my munchkin would be when she forgot to make an appearance the other night. I had to remind her that it WAS the fairy's first time coming here, and since she wrote a note and stuck it IN the envelope, rather than writing her note ON the envelope, she probably didn't get the memo. I assured her that the tooth fairy never misses two days in a row.

But really? I'm just giddy that she absolutely and completely still believes ... especially after the book she read almost two years ago. Remember that nonsense?

Getting that extra dollar didn't hurt either ...


A Short Sentence ...

... actually 100 of them. With the six year old needing 4 pieces of paper to finish hers.

Think it'll serve as a reminder for next time we go to a restaurant and they attempt to throw a COLOSSAL fit over ... crayons?

I may just start packing paper and pencils to begin their next 'sentence' in the car ...


You CAN Fight City Hall ...

... and WIN!

It wasn't easy. It caused many a gray hair. But knowing that I was ready to fight an important cause, made every single minute worth it.

It all started when the bus transportation route was published the week prior to the start of school. Our neighborhood bus stop was scheduled to pick up the kids at the entrance to our development. And I (along with all the neighbors) was none too pleased.

So I made my first call. To the Loudoun County Public School Transportation office. Where a lovely woman explained the bevy of reasons why the bus stop was located where it was, and why, under no circumstances, would a school bus be allowed to come into a development still under construction.

The first day of school was chaotic. While pushing Grady in his stroller, I walked the girls smack dab in the middle of the street to the bus stop with the neighbors. We weaved around the construction vehicles, the dumpsters, the mounds of dirt. With no sidewalks in sight, we waited in the middle of the street for the bus. We all complained.

It didn't take but one day to realize that I needed to start drafting my appeal letter to the Director of Transportation. To show him that our bus stop was inappropriately placed. To offer a perfectly acceptable alternative. I took pictures. I spoke with the neighbors. And everyone who had kids riding the bus in our neighborhood signed my letter ... that I HAND delivered two days later to both the Director and Supervisor of Transportation.

Of course, my letter was forwarded to an underling. To a person who took her time to review our appeal. And who ultimately didn't feel that our bus stop had as many issues as we did.

Not one to give in that easily, I pressed on. Challenging her denial and forcing her to look into another alternative as there was already a bus coming into our neighborhood.

Instead, she not only ended up denying our bus stop change, but additionally moved the special needs bus stop as well.

Now. I. Was. Mad. I gave it some thought, and later that night formulated an email that I quickly shot off to every single member of the Loudoun County School Board. Along with a damning video. And oodles of photos.

In less than an hour, I received two emails from School Board Members, one of whom forwarded on my email to fifteen or so more people, including the Superintendent's office. The other member walked me through the appeals process, gave me contact names at the Superintendent's office of people with whom I should meet, and helped me with the next steps should my next appeal hit roadblocks.

Thankfully I didn't need to take additional action because when I went to pick the girls up from bus stop the next day, who should be there to greet the parents, but the Director and Supervisor of the County Transportation Office. The original people with whom I hand delivered my appeal letter two weeks prior.

Crap managed to roll downhill ...

The two of them were surprised at what they saw. They talked with several parents. They walked our routes home. But more importantly, they showed up the next morning to watch the bus pick up. To see first hand what I wrote in my letter. To verify that I wasn't crying wolf.

That was last Tuesday.

Below is what my girls came home waving in their hands three days later.

Pure Justice

Never underestimate the power of persuasion ... or Mrs. Perlman's VERY large mouth.

Next fight. Putting in a Stop Sign near our new bus stop. I'll keep you posted ...


On Hugging Your Kids ...

Of all the times to feel included, there is one club that we all never hope to join. It's a place where sadly, my sweet friend Anna, unwillingly entered last Thursday night.

When she lost her 12 year old son in the floods in Virginia.

I've never had a friend lose a child. There are no words. Nothing of comfort to say. No way to help make it better.

Like my other friends who knew her well, I am heartbroken.

I saw Anna just a few weeks ago when she came out to visit me and see the new house. We were both bummed that we didn't make it to the BlogHer conference in San Diego that very weekend, where we finally met the year prior in New York City. We went to lunch and laughed. Took self portraits and sent them to our friends. We made plans to get our families together...

There are so many things that I wanted to finally write about this week. The girls back to school nights. My screw up with Grady's preschool. The school bus debacle. But right now none of it seems to matter.

What does matter is that I'm now going to a funeral for a friend's young child next week. To offer support for her family. To grieve for a boy taken far too soon. To remember and to pray about how precious life is.

I am sickened. I am heartbroken. And I'm hugging my kids extra hard these days.


First Impressions ...

... were taken yesterday.

At the orthodontist!

Where, in less than one month, BOTH girls will be getting their palate expander's. And then ... gulp ... braces!

After the insanely expensive pediatric dental visit last June, I knew that we were working with a small window of time get the girls to an orthodontist to begin their first phase of treatment. I hadn't quite planned on doing both of them so early, but seeing the mess that is Sheridan's mouth and jaw, and knowing that their dental journeys will be over way before mine ever started, had me reconsidering. Throw in the fact that this orthodontist we found has unbelievable reviews, comes highly recommended, and is my next door neighbor's best friend doesn't hurt either!

His office is a well oiled machine. They have books, magazines, TV, video games, and computers available to keep the siblings and parents occupied. It's extremely organized with everybody adhering to their roles and keeping the hoards of people coming in/out moving in a steady flow. They even have a program to keep kids engaged in their orthodontic progress by offering incentives for wearing the office's t-shirt to appointments, getting good grades, proving they have good oral hygiene, and not losing appliances. It. Was. Awesome.

Within 1.5 hours the girls had x-rays and facial profiles completed, we met with the treatment coordinator, we met with the orthodontist, the girls had more pictures taken, they signed the treatment wall, we met with the financial coordinator, and were finally fit for spacers and had impressions taken. No complaining. No gagging. No reprimanding.

Overall, I like this orthodontist's approach to treatment. He believes in being minimally invasive. He doesn't like to pull teeth. And believe it or not, it was less than I expected to pay! Of course, there is the chance that we'll need to do a second phase of treatment. But it would be nominal in both cost and time considering we'll have paid a majority the first time around.

For the time being, the only metal I'll be investing in won't be on my ears, wrists, or neck ...


Make New Friends ... But Keep The Old

One is Silver and the other Gold ...

Which couldn't be truer here. I met these two lovely ladies way back in August, 2003 ... at our very first overseas post in Muscat, Oman. Three women in totally different stages of our lives. The newlywed, the working mom of a toddler, and mother of a six-month old who just stopped working for the first time in her life.

Connecting. Supporting. Building memories.

We've been there for each other through thick and thin. New babies and new countries. Failed pregnancies and unhappy jobs. The Embassy parties. The vacations. The three husbands doing hardship tours in Iraq and Cuba.

It's difficult to make friends when you get older. When you're no longer thrown into the Embassy community fishbowl. When you're as nomadic as we are. When you move into a house directly between two best friends and you so completely feel like the third wheel...

So I'm extra thankful that we stay in touch. And that we always try to meet up in DC when we know we're going to be in town at the same time. Which, since we left Oman six years ago, has happened twice. Once back in January, 2007.

And the other, last night.

Thanks ladies ... my cup is full for awhile.

Small trip down memory lane ...

March, 2004

November, 2004 ( I'm 8 months prego)

January, 2007

Visiting Alison in Budapest in May, 2006

Kathie in DC - Jan, 2009 (I'm 4 months prego)

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