Now that I am sitting on my couch in my family room, with internet all hooked up and my new full-time helper playing a board game with Gavin, I can look back on the events of the last few weeks and laugh. No, not laugh. Half-smile. The laughing will take some time.
And I’m being melodramatic, because everyone came out relatively unscathed. It was just so stressful that even last night I dreamed Christopher said, “We’re moving again, time to pack up those boxes!” And I woke up like it was a dark nightmare. This has, by far, been the most challenging move. Which makes sense, since this was the move with the most kids. And Ben should count as more than one, for sure.
**Update: I re-read this paragraph and giggled when I remembered we moved twice before Ben’s first birthday. He didn’t transform from the Easiest Baby Ever into Bennis the Menace until after we moved to Atlanta. At least I didn’t have to worry about mastitis during this move.
It started a little over two weeks ago. Packing up our stuff. The movers were coming Friday, so on Thursday we did the major packing. I had been packing up boxes for weeks, but Christopher was working so hard (at his new Seattle job, from our Atlanta bedroom) that he reserved Thursday for him to start working. And since I was doing little to no heavy duty lifting, that left most of the apartment for him.
We did pretty well. The most frustrating thing for me was our boxes. We didn’t have to buy any, as an older couple from church gave us all theirs from the move, but they had tons of weird-shaped boxes and lots of small ones. Towards the end, I was packing like one mattress cover in a medium-sized box. I threw away a bunch of pillows, which was probably a fortuitous decision. Keep reading.
Friday morning came, the kids’ last day at their Atlanta school. The first thing we did was drive to the airport to pick up our rental car–a Suburban, to fit all our suitcases we were hauling to Seattle. So far, so good. We found out the movers weren’t coming until the afternoon, so we stuck around the house and finished packing, and went ahead and put Ben down for a nap in his crib. It was a good decision, since the movers weren’t ready to move until 2 p.m. After Megan and Gavin got home from school and Ben woke up, we left immediately to get out of the way. First, we went to Mighty Jumps with McGoverns. I actually paid Megan and Gavin a few dollars to chase Benjamin around, which they immediately changed into quarters to play air hockey and win bouncy balls out of a pinball-type game. All the “extra” stuff at the bouncy house place drives me crazy.
We ate dinner in the Chick-Fil-A parking lot. I was too tired to go in, so we just sat there. The movers had a long way to go, so I left Christopher and headed to Dunwoody. A nice family from church offered a place for us to stay so we wouldn’t have to pay for a hotel. It was a really nice offer, and we accepted, although we had never been to their house before.
The house was spacious, even with their five little girls, but just different. Christopher ended up sleeping on the floor of our apartment because the movers were moving until 3 a.m. They were the slowest movers on earth. However, they broke almost nothing, so I really can’t complain.
There was a whole drama with the moving company. Christopher went through a broker, who hired both the movers and the car transport. The car transport never showed up. Fail, especially since we were renting a Suburban. After several painstaking days, Christopher was able to negotiate directly with the movers, who loaded all our stuff and both our cars onto one tractor trailer and drove it to Seattle. And we disputed the charges that we paid the broker, a deposit for the move.
Now to the next drama. Staying with this sweet family from church was stressful. Their five little girls were beautiful and very well-behaved. Which meant their house wasn’t very babyproof. They lived on a quiet street, but no fencing in the yard. In front, the road. In back, a wooded area with poison ivy. The girls, even the 4- and 2-year-old, walked to the edge of the street and the edge of the woods and never crossed the line. Ben, not so much. Thankfully, we managed to keep him safe. With effort.
This nice mom was also very free-range with her girls, which I actually like. There was a playground down the street and she let her 8- and 6-year-olds walk there and back regularly. So I let Megan and Gavin go with them. A little while later I joined them with Ben. When Ben was too much, I took him back to the house. I gave Megan my cell phone, just in case. When I got back to the house, 237 seconds later, Megan had called the lovely mom. She had fallen, gotten a few scratches. The lovely mom took rubbing alcohol and Band-aids while I went inside.
Well, here’s what else had transpired. Megan, as soon as I left, climbed a very short tree. Christopher called the cell phone. Megan, trying to answer a cell phone in a tree, fell out, scratching her arm. A well-meaning bystander talked to Christopher, something like, “Your daughter got hurt and her arm is swelling and I think she needs to go to the ER and there’s no one here watching her!” So, of course, Christopher raced to Dunwoody from Buckhead, where he was supervising the lady cleaning our apartment. When he arrived, Megan had three Band-aids on her arm. She was completely fine. Christopher, on the other hand, was not. He was totally upset, and decided to control the situation by taking over the parenting duties.
So I went down to Buckhead to pay the cleaning lady and do the walk-through. Christopher took the kids to Chuck E Cheese. It suit me just fine. After I closed our apartment door for the last time (a little sadly, because kids make a lot of memories in 18 months), I went to Sue’s house. Jim had taken her kids to Six Flags, and we watched The King’s Speech and then I fell asleep on her couch.
I met back up with my family and we ate dinner and went back to the nice family with five girls house to sleep. We thought about checking into a hotel, and the lovely family was probably bewildered by our drama, but we had arranged to trade babysitting with them on Sunday for the temple dedication, so that was the main point of staying with them.
That wasn’t the beginning. Saturday night Megan started coughing. Her deep, incessant, asthmatic-type cough. At 4 a.m. I went to the car and got out the nebulizer. I gave her several breathing treatments in a row per our doctor’s instructions. While she was sucking down Albuterol, she said, “My head itches.”
When the sun came up, after the nice mom and her 8-year-old had left for the temple dedication (the dad was out of town this whole time), we checked Megan’s head and found her first case of lice! Questions that ran through our mind: can pregnant Lauren be exposed to lice shampoo, how can we fully treat this in someone else’s house OR a hotel, can we take Megan out in public, and did we really just expose a family with five girls to head lice?
Since we only found a few nits, we braided Megan’s hair and went to the temple dedication. We put Ben down for a nap before we left. I tried really hard to feel the lovely Spirit of re-dedicating the temple in Atlanta. Of setting apart a beautiful building for quiet and contemplative worship. Of a place you can go to find peace and feel closer to God. But Megan was hacking. And had lice. And we were in the middle of a horrendous move. Our cars were still sitting at our apartment complex. Ben was a challenge. But I tried hard to appreciate the moment.
After the dedication, Christopher, Megan, and I headed to Kroger for some lice supplies. We ended up just treating Megan with the shampoo, and combing through her hair. Everyone else in the family was clean, as far as we could tell. We apologized profusely to lovely mom again and again, and she insisted we stay but we wanted to head to a hotel. She made us a nice dinner and we cleaned up as best we could. We thought about how we could do laundry. Lovely mom had a laundry room, of course, but it was a tiny, old washer and she was already running it pretty continuously.
Then we got a call from some other friends from church. Ones we knew a lot better. They were inviting us to stay. We told them the truth (Megan has lice, and we are headed to a hotel but if you want to brave us and please say no if you don’t, we could really use the washer/dryer/dishwasher). Gracious Caroline either really wanted us to come or did a great job faking it. So we headed over there Sunday night.
Monday I went to work doing lots of laundry, in hot water. The kids had fun playing with all the new toys. Our second friends were a lot more alike, and had similar food/toys/books. It was homey. Monday also happened to be Christopher’s 33rd birthday. He got a homemade card and gift from Megan, who is the most thoughtful gift-giver in our family, and we had birthday-cake flavored ice cream after a dinner of pizza. It really was just sad. The best part of the day was resolving the moving situation. We drove our cars down to the movers’ facility and kissed our stuff goodbye. That was done, at least.
Monday night Megan took a turn for the worse. I just about took her to the nearby children’s ER she was coughing so hard. I ended up taking her to her Atlanta pediatrician first thing Tuesday morning, and he upped her Advair to 250 and gave me a prescription for a bunch of steroids and Xoponex instead of Albuterol. This led to a huge pharmacy drama. First, we couldn’t find a pharmacy that actually carried Xoponex and Orapred ODT. Which was bizarre because they are pretty common drugs! When we finally did, the total came to $700. Our insurance covered neither. Since we were already on our way to the airport, we told them to keep their meds and use what we had.
We drove to the airport in a torrential downpour, eating $12 cheeseburgers from Buckhead Diner that we purchased with a gift card we never managed to spend. The first airport drama involved the airline wanting to charge us for our bags. Christopher had earlier confirmed that we each got two free checked bags, since he had preferred status. This took him a while to clear up. While he was taking care of this, I was in the car outside curbside checking. I made the most of the time by cleaning up all the kids and changing them into their pajamas. I gave them all a dose of Motrin for good measure. It really was a circus.
Then Christopher needed to return the rental car. We decided I would go on in with Megan and Gavin and he would keep Ben with him. Megan, Gavin, and I breezed through security, for the main reason that it was 8:30 at night. Yes, friends, we were scheduled on a red-eye.
When we got to the gate, I plugged in the nebulizer and gave Megan several breathing treatments. Our plane was slightly delayed because of raging thunderstorms, but we made it on. The flight was completely full, but Christopher upgraded his seat to first class. And guess who got to sit there?
Me, of course. This was probably the nicest part of the whole trip, for me. I sat in a roomy first-class seat. I drank about 19 bottles of water, used the first-class lavatory at least as many times, and dozed. The flight attendants gushed over Christopher. The kids dozed intermittently. Ben fell asleep in the beginning but unfortunately woke up after too long. After four hours or so, Christopher asked if I could take over in the back. The first thing I did was take Ben out of his car seat and snuggle him, which Christopher was reluctant to do for fear that he would never go back in. Poor Gavin, sleeping with on the aisle armrest, got his little head rammed by the drink cart. And Megan started coughing again. So after about 10 minutes with the kids, I took Ben up to first class to get Megan’s inhaler. Christopher had his laptop out and Ben started watching a movie. Christopher ended up spending the rest of the flight in first class–with Ben on his lap. I gave Megan some meds and Gavin a snack and before we knew it we were landing!
After our weekend–our exhausting, disastrous weekend–we were happy that Shay and Carl’s minivan was waiting for us in the parking lot. With three car seats, all bucked in to fit our kids. Because our kids are the same size as their kids. We hit “go home” on the GPS and got to the Carl’s house at 3 a.m. Like 6 a.m. Eastern time. (Shay, my cousin, and her family were at Disneyland for the week). We walked into their beautiful home, all clean, with clean sheets on the all the beds (and Pack n Play). And we crashed.
Thankfully, the first morning Ben slept until 8 a.m. About five hours. I thought he might be already on Pacific time, but it took about another week before he was adjusted. The first few nights, at our 5 p.m. dinners, he would put his head down and say, “I’m a tired boy.” And wake up at 5 a.m. Luckily, we were able to slowly push that later and he’s sleeping until about 7 now.
Wednesday afternoon, about 10 hours after we landed, I had scheduled Megan and Gavin for their overdue 8- and 6-year-old checkups. With Megan coughing, I was glad I had, plus I wanted to get our family established with the pediatrician as soon as possible. The pediatrician, an Asian woman, was nice and thorough, and after listening to Megan cough and learning about her history, she decided it may not be asthma, but I should take her to a pulmonologist to confirm. In the meantime, she said, “It might be post-nasal drip. Give her some hard candy to suck on, or a spoonful of honey.” Honestly, after all those useless breathing treatments and steroids, I did not object to the advice.
Other than the incessant cough, Megan and Gavin are perfectly healthy. Megan is 67 pounds and 52 inches, both in the 50-75 percentile. Gavin is 46 inches tall, average, but only 41 pounds, in the 10-25 percentile. After looking at his previous growth, she confirmed that he’s growing normally, just skinny.
It was nice staying at the Carl’s house for a few days before they returned from Disneyland. It gave our furniture and cars time to get to Seattle, and it gave us a few quiet, exhausting days to recover from the jetlag/red-eye flight. We were so tired, but having a house completely set up for kids (and their 3 kids are almost exactly our kids’ ages) was perfect. It also gave Megan a few days to get over her cough. We also spent a few night picking through each others’ hair. Megan ended up only having a few nits, like maybe 10-20, and I haven’t found any since. I wonder if it was a mild case, and I’m desperately hoping we didn’t share with anyone. I coated my head with a full jar of oil/grease, which I found in the women of color section of the pharmacy, and combed through with a nit comb, just in case. I never did see any nits, but they wouldn’t have lived through it. After 10 washings, including a few with Dawn dish soap, my hair was still greasy. And would you believe, it looked fantastic. I may start shopping in the women of color hair section all the time. I just won’t use the whole jar. Another week has passed, and my hair is back to normal. Dry and frizzy. My three boys never had any lice issues, but since I can easily see their scalps through their hair, I suspect the lice didn’t want to set up camp.
Moving on. Shay and Carl and kids returned home Saturday night. Sunday we went to church and had a nice dinner. Monday Megan and Gavin started at their new school, and our moving van arrived. I think the kids will like their new school. Megan fit right in, as usual. School doesn’t start until 9:15, which is wonderful. Mornings are much easier now. And Gavin only goes to kindergarten in the afternoon, which is a joke, but at least it’s only for a month. He’s going to less school than when he was two years old, but there are only 11 kids in his class, including cousin Dalton, and he’s made fast friends.
The movers were, once again, slower than molasses. They were the same guys in Atlanta, who all took turns driving the truck out. But they did a decent job. Monday night after I put the kids to bed I headed over to the house and Christopher’s Aunt Pam and Uncle Corey were at the house. They only live a few miles away, too, and helped us unpack our kitchen and set up the TV, and a few other essentials. We spent another night at the Carl’s house, since we hadn’t gotten out the bedding yet.
Tuesday, we went over to the house and Shay and Christopher’s Aunt Pam joined me and did a ton. Shay is a super organized person so I could just tell her where stuff went, and she put it all away and it looked great. Pam made beds, unpacked more boxes, and stayed past dinner, after she swept and vacuumed the entire house. Both of them provided food; Shay had made a bunch of freezer meals, and Pam went to the grocery store for another frozen lasagna, milk, bread, cereal, and other essentials, including toilet paper and lightbulbs. They got me set up wonderfully, and I couldn’t have asked for better help.
Even with all that wonderful help, I still needed more. Chasing Ben around all day while Christopher was at work was just too much. Christopher arranged for his 18-year-old cousin, who just finished her first year at BYU, to come nanny for us. She drove up from Vegas and arrived Thursday night. We are paying her to basically run the house, taking care of the kids and cooking and cleaning. Right now I’m helping, but if I go on bed rest I may have to delegate everything. The hope is that her help now will keep me off bed rest. I’m almost 25 weeks pregnant and at 27 I was on strict bed rest with Ben. Perhaps it can be avoided. When I arrived here, I had appointments with three different OBs, but all were about two weeks away. After calling a few times, one of the offices was able to fit me in, and I got established at the OB the day after we landed. I like the doctor, another Asian woman. She was thorough and proactive. I have an appointment for another ultrasound at the perinatologist this week, and next week Dr. Te (my OB) will start doing weekly non-stress tests to monitor for contractions, and probably start me on nifedipine. Finally, she wrote me a prescription for enough 17p to get me through 36 weeks. Christopher gave me my last injection, and did a great job.
Now that Capella (Christopher’s cousin) is here, things are running smoothly. The kids are settled, and I’m as settled as I’ve ever been after a move. I still need furniture for my living/dining combo (there is only a piano in there), rugs for my bathrooms, and pictures on my walls, but for now the kitchen, family room, playroom, bedrooms, and bathrooms are set up. And that’s great. Our house is nice. When you walk in, there’s a living/dining combo straight ahead (the for-now empty room), and stairs going upstairs. To the right, there’s the laundry/mud room that leads to a three-car garage, followed by a full bath and bedroom, which we are using as an office for now. There’s a family room and kitchen, where I think we will spend most of our time, along with the playroom. Upstairs is a huge loft playroom with some built in desks great for homework. I put one of my sofas up there as well because I knew I’d be up there a lot. The master bedroom has a large attached bath with double sinks and a separate tub/shower, and, for the first time in our marriage, a separate toilet closet! Finally, we can add a little mystery back to our marriage. Another bonus–all the bedrooms upstairs have California closets, which is so nice I can’t even tell you. Another first for us.
The other two bedrooms are painted yellow and light blue, which works perfectly. We put the queen bedroom set in the yellow room. That will be Megan’s room, but for now it’s Capella’s, and in the blue room we put the crib and bunk bed, and all three kids are sleeping in there, which is actually working out just fine.
The best part about our house is the location. Finally, we are on a cul-de-sac with about a million kids in the neighborhood. And people are outside all the time. You can always see people walking their dogs, pushing strollers, kids on Razors headed to one of the many neighborhood playgrounds. When it’s not raining, of course. Also, we have a small but flat backyard with a little patio. Every time Shay visits, she sets something else up in my house, and the last time she was here she set up my patio table and chairs and brought over a few outgrown Little Tikes climbers from her backyard. So we are set for now back there, although I’d like a trampoline.
Christopher even took Gavin to the annual Fathers and Sons campout on Friday night. They rode with Carl, Bryant, and Dalton, and slept in the tent with them. Christopher said Gavin immediately found a pack of boys to run off with, so after being here 10 days, I think Gavin’s about even more settled than he was in Atlanta.
The reason we moved to Seattle, besides Christopher’s job, was because this is such a great place to raise kids, especially kids who like being outside, especially Mormon kids, especially smart kids.
Hopefully it works out.