Thursday, February 28, 2008

Settling in

Here are a bunch of pics of the house. We are making progress in getting settled in, still a way to go, but big strides this week.

We also have word that everything has been approved for our buyers' loan and final processing and wiring of money will be complete by early next week for closing. Great news. Again, I won't fully rest until those papers are signed, but it looks really good.

Meanwhile, Reed is totally walking!

I was in my slippers, so this is as much of the outside as I got today.

view from the front porch

dining room:

More soon...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

ups and downs

Honestly, aren't you tired of the drama? Me too. I can't wait until I have a day where my blood pressure doesn't have to shoot to alarming levels or where I think I need to get outside quickly before I get so hot and sweaty with panic that I pass out.

The end.

Just kidding.

Okay, here are the LOW points of our day:

- a phone call from my realtor. She is concerned that we are getting the run around from the buyers of our Old Town house (FYI, they have moved into our house and are paying us rent by the day) and the agency giving them the loan. She cannot for the life of her pin down a closing date for us. They haven't gotten official approval for the loan. The people who have all the answers and power are "out of the office for a few days." We find out there is yet another inspection of our house that needs to pass before they will get this secondary loan. You have GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. (One might think this is a multi-million dollar real estate deal with all of this ridiculous red tape). She asks me if we want to rescind our extension and put our house back on the market. That's when I started to sweat. NO!

- Sam wrote me a very sweet apology email at work for an argument we got into this morning. And accidentally cc'd it to about 20 of our friends and family. Nice.

- We got home after a very long day and were locked out of our house and sat in the driveway waiting for Sam for an hour.

Here are the HIGH points of our day:
- Realtor called to say that the buyers HAVE OFFICIAL APPROVAL FOR THE LOAN. Everyone on the staff at my realtor's office is GIDDY. They have been playing detective all week on this and they finally got the right person on the phone. They are all super excited and say that it is a "done deal" (I'll believe it when I see them signing the papers). Anyway, an excellent step.

- Suzanne, Ella and Maya came over for a visit and BROUGHT DINNER for us, and then stayed to keep us company. These are our dear friends, the Carver family, who because of our move, now live 2 miles down the road instead of the 25 miles that separated us before. What a GIFT.

- It is snowing and very stormy. Big messy storm predicted to go all night. Very likely no school tomorrow.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

happy home

We are in! Since Friday morning, we have been working our tails off to settle into our new house. The fact that we all have to get up and go to work tomorrow is a bit daunting... as if I don't have enough to think about!

But, it is Sunday night, and here is where we stand. The kids' rooms are totally set up and they are both sleeping. The kitchen is all set, the fridge full of fresh groceries, lunches for tomorrow are packed and dinner is cleaned up and put away (I haven't cooked yet... friends brought food!). Our washer and dryer are installed and working on the 10th load (yes, we moved tons of laundry with us, which tells you about the chaos factor). We are actually a fully functioning household at this point.

I won't bore you with the ridiculous amount of bumps in the road we have faced. Let's just say the buyers of our house are just delayed in some paperwork. We were reassured of their committment to buy our house (Wednesday, we hope) by the fact that we offered them to move into our house on Saturday at 3pm (after we were all out) and pay us rent until we close on the house. They literally moved in at 3:01. They want our house, and we have confidence that this will all be wrapped up soon.

That is to say, we are desperate to believe that it will all be wrapped up because, well, we went ahead and moved in to our new home.
We don't officially own this house, but that's okay, right? As a friend pointed out today, possession is 90% of the law. Okay, we'll take that.

The kids love it here. Once we got the gates up on the stairs last night, I felt instantly better about Reed being free to wander. Skyler keeps saying: "It's HUMONGOUS!" (it's not, though bigger than "the green house." They both seem really comfy here already. The neighbors have all been by to say hi and deliver baked goods (!) and we have 2 4-year old girls and a 12 year old who is dying to be a "mother's helper" and eventually a baby sitter all within 4 houses from here. Welcome to the neighborhood, indeed. I'm totally in love with this house. We have work to do to fully settle in, but this is the fun part, hanging art and rearranging furniture.

Some pics for you.

Skyler packing the truck.

Moving in: our crew (my creative writing class with one little brother along for the pizza)

The girls spent hours assembling these chairs from Ikea.

I took a few shots tonight because I figured I couldn't post without photos of the house. These don't really capture the sunny sparkle our house had all day, but they give you a taste. More to come. Promise.

Big, bright kitchen... all new appliances... automatic ice maker = happy me.

The room we don't know what to do with. It has our piano and one chair and a book case. We call it: the parlor, the library, the living room, the piano room? Any ideas?

Before there is anything on the walls... this is the family room. Still needs some focus/ inspiration/ paint.

So many more things to write... so many more lessons plans to create... so much sleep needed. More soon.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

We'll be back in a while..

I'm about to disconnect and head to my mom's to go to bed. We got this house all cleaned up but not totally empty yet. Tomorrow we'll be setting up the new house all day and getting the final load out of here. I took photos of Skyler loading the truck today (very cute, she carried one thing at a time out the door and up the ramp onto the truck with such an earnest expression the whole time.. what a little work ethic!) but I have no clue where the cord for my camera is.

Oh yeah, one funny thing from today. I was waiting for Sam to get home from picking up the Uhaul and I got a call from Uhaul saying "I understand your truck is broken down?" Uh oh. Sam was stuck on the road with no cel phone. We tracked him down and we left the broken truck on the side of the road in Old Town and went back to Bangor for another (after some fast talking.. they wanted us to wait for "51 minutes" for the mechanic to arrive. Sam kept saying to the guy: "I don't have 51 minutes!!!" (I was laughing). I dropped him off at the Uhaul place and rushed home to meet the friends coming to help us move. Sam didn't come, and he didn't come. I called Uhaul back: "Did Sam Manhart pick up a new truck about 30 minutes ago?"
"No," the guy said, "he ripped up his contract and stormed out of here." Uh oh.

Just then, Sam pulled in with a truck from a different company. Apparantly Uhaul wasn't sympathetic enough to Sam's wasted time and weren't going to give him a discount. OOOOh. that makes Sam mad!

So, we have a Budget Truck packed to the gills in the driveway. We get the key to the new house at 8:30 am. WAHOO.

I'll post when I can from the new place... not sure when that will be. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Matchy matchy

Skyler and McKayla at Bangor's open gym: matching outfits, haircuts, and personalities. We love seeing them play together.

As far as moving to Hampden, we are holding our breath and diving in. Tonight is the last night we will sleep in this house! Holy smokes. I'm feeling excited, nervous, and very nostalgic.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

i am full of happyexcitement because:

1. It was warm today, and the world had that melty smell to remind us all that there is indeed earth under all that snow. And the sun was shining all day until it snowed for about 20 minutes tonight and then the stars and bright moon came out.

2. Because of the weather mentioned above, I have that full, hopeful feeling of spring, full of plans and dreams of baskets of vegetables, quilting projects, baking bread and open windows.

3. I had a delicious cup of Starbucks at 5 pm and I'm still humming.

4. Sam will be home in a few hours.

5. I am nervous about moving into our house without closing on this one. I can't think about it too hard. Tonight I googled "ask the magic 8 ball" and there are, indeed, a ton of these sites, as I suspected.
So, I asked the magic 8 ball: "Will we close on our house next week?" It said: "YES."
Just to be sure this was a reputable source, I asked: "Do I love my children?" It said: "Yes, definitely." I actually feel much better now.

6. I got to go to the University tonight to see the Class A Girls Swim State Meet (Sam's smaller school is Class B, held this year in Southern Maine, where he has been all day. My school is class A, and the meet was held right here in town). Silly me, I thought I'd just go for a few events (left Reed asleep and Skyler awake at my mom's). It was a real nail-biter, a thrilling get-up-and-scream-your-head-off sort of meet which came down to the last relay, and my girls from Bangor High brought home the state title. And I was sitting with all the boys with their freshly-shaved heads, who won states last night, and everyone was full of spirit and joy. Fun, fun, fun.

7. I have a real sense of accomplishment after 2 days of being single-mom when everyone was productive, busy, well-behaved and happy. And the house is clean and mostly packed.

my happy kids during our day today:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Some funny Skylerisms I've been collecting:

About her injured thumb:
"It's all better. But a little bit worse."

After Sunday school, she was telling me about what they did and had for snack. They always have a kid style-communion: grape juice, 5 crackers and 2 swedish fish, to represent the story of when Jesus fed the masses with only 5 loaves of bread and two fish. This Sunday, Skyler reported, they had juice and fish, but no crackers. "Oh. They must have been out of crackers?"
"No, Mom. We gave them up."
(Duh. LENT!)

This morning, after getting herself dressed:
"It is not nice to laugh at people when they are wearing a beautiful outfit."

Finally, today we went to McDonalds with some friends to let the kids play. Gross, I know, but we needed somewhere for the kids to cut loose and it was an ugly, rainy day. It was Skyler's first time in the playland area. She did great, and was really brave, crawling all the way up to the top over and over again. BUT. An older boy asked her what her name was and when she answered he said: "That is a stupid name." AND, he pulled her by the sweatshirt to get her out of his way.

Boo hoo. She took it much better than I did. I can't stand the thought of anyone ever hurting her feelings. She did talk about it for about half the day, but she said things like: "We don't say things like that to people, do we, Mom?" and "Maybe that boy was just grumpy." We practiced ways she could have responded. She came up with this: "I think I have a beautiful name." Well, there.

Had a great day. Lights are officially out at 8:40 for all of us.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Reed walking! (sort of)

Who slipped Reed a cocktail!?

Note the 180 degree turn in there... that surprised us all!

Sam is heading south at 5 am for Boys' State Meet at Bowdoin College, then coming back by around 2 am, and leaving again at 5am for Girls' State Meet, also at Bowdoin. This is, I assure you, really, truly the end of swim season. Sam will return at around 3 am Wednesday with no voice. And he'll be absolutely wrecked with exhaustion. And THEN?! We get to pick up the moving truck and empty this house. Yippie!

For the next few days I'm on my own with the kids. We have play dates and more play dates. I get to see my friends whom I never see when I'm working. And, when I'm on my own with the kids, I am really nice to myself. I get myself a latte whenever I want one, and well, whatever else I want to go with it. And considering we have some paper plates and a few random pots and pans left in the kitchen, hell, we are eating out too!

A belated birthday party

Jason and Reed and I all had birthdays last week, and we had a small joint party planned for 2 weekends ago which was postponed due to a death in Meredith's family that brought them out of town. So, we gathered today instead. Meredith and I have a tradition and a reputation for hosting some pretty ambitious parties. Several years ago, we hosted a sit-down 5 course meal for 22 people. When we first discussed this birthday party idea, our eyes were wide with possibilities and menu ideas.

With all our damn kids, full time jobs, my kitchen being 75% packed, and the O'Reillys being 24 hours away from putting their house on the market (long story. short version: they are moving to Hampden too, we hope, 1.0 mile exactly from our door to the house they want), our ambition went out the window. SO, no fancy party menus today... most of it came from Frank's Bakery. Yum.

Ella, Skyler, Beckett, Killian and Reed

Will and Amy

Skyler and Godmother Meredith

Rosalyn, growin' right up, and newly named Rozzy-roo.

Can you tell there is a video on in this room?

mmmm. sugar. mmmmm. silence.

Look! More pictures of Reed with cake shoved in his face! Check out that glazed-over look in his eyes already!

Honestly. I must have done something right in my life to have deserved friends like these.

My mom was at this party too, and there are no photos of her because she was chasing Reed the whole time. She did announce at the party that instead of Omom, she wants to be Omoma until the end of the election. You got it, Omoma.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A good, good day

Poetry Outloud is a national poetry recitation contest. Our school had its own contest today to choose our winner who will be sent on to Regionals, and then perhaps States and Nationals.

Today, I had 200 teenagers in the auditorium all day listening to each other recite poems (that the performers chose from the Poetry Outloud database and memorized). The poets ranged from Maya Angelou to Robert Frost, Lord Byron, Wilfred Owen, Billy Collins. I was a proud mama of these kids today, who were so genuinely enthusiastic about poetry that you might have thought, as my Mom noted (she came to watch), that they were at a football pep rally. They cheered and hooted and hollered for each other!

the 56 performers

the top 10 (they performed again in the finals to determine the winner)

the winner!

and here I will include the poem she won with, because it is so damn good and I've fallen in love with it over the past few weeks. If only I could post the video of her reading it? I'll work on that.

So This Is Nebraska

By Ted Kooser

The gravel road rides with a slow gallop
over the fields, the telephone lines
streaming behind, its billow of dust
full of the sparks of redwing blackbirds.

On either side, those dear old ladies,
the loosening barns, their little windows
dulled by cataracts of hay and cobwebs
hide broken tractors under their skirts.

So this is Nebraska. A Sunday
afternoon; July. Driving along
with your hand out squeezing the air,
a meadowlark waiting on every post.

Behind a shelterbelt of cedars,
top-deep in hollyhocks, pollen and bees,
a pickup kicks its fenders off
and settles back to read the clouds.

You feel like that; you feel like letting
your tires go flat, like letting the mice
build a nest in your muffler, like being
no more than a truck in the weeds,

clucking with chickens or sticky with honey
or holding a skinny old man in your lap
while he watches the road, waiting
for someone to wave to. You feel like

waving. You feel like stopping the car
and dancing around on the road. You wave
instead and leave your hand out gliding
larklike over the wheat, over the houses.

Hey Adrienne, does this not remind you of our California to Michigan road trip, when we left the west behind us and entered Iowa? Remember how we felt that day?

The first time we heard this girl read this poem to us, my creative writing class all closed their eyes, sighed collectively and said.... let's go to Nebraska. Now, nothing against Nebraska, but that is the power of a good poem.

Happy February Vacation, also known as, "the most stressful week of the Manharts' lives"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Another day, another dramatic turn of real estate events

I have so much going on this week. I can hardly tell you what it is like inside my swirly twirly brain. Let me give it a try. Yesterday, while we were calmly frolicking in the living room enjoying snow day #5 (ice storm!), my realtor called to give us a heads up that we didn't get the commitment letter from the buyers of our house (the letter that the mortgage company sends saying: yes, we will loan these people the money for your house.) She said she thought it was just a paperwork delay, but wanted us to know. Because of the fact that we have now moved more than half of our stuff to the new house, this set me into a panicky downward spiral.

This morning, I am back at work, trying to coordinate everything I needed to get ready to teach AND get my ducks in a row for the visiting author and creative writing professor I had coming to talk to my students this afternoon, AND lining up the Poetry Outloud recitation contest that I organized (now involving more the 200 kids!) for Friday, and Pauline calls.

Bad news.

The buyers need to get an additional loan and there is no way it will be ready by Feb 22. I started to cry. Pauline said we would probably close in 1-2 weeks once their paper work went through, and we'd ask the Hampden owners for another, bloody extension.

I pulled myself together, and got on the phone to call the heating oil people, the propane tank people, the moving truck company, the bank, the electric company, the cable company, the water district, and the piano movers to CANCEL all of the appointments and transfers I have arranged in the last 2 weeks.

During a break in the author's presentation (which was amazing by the way, and my kids were brilliant, sharing their writing and asking smart questions), I checked my email.
Message from Pauline: Jon (the owner of the house we might someday own) says you can just move in anyway, and then close the following week.

Miracle of miracles.

I started to cry.

After the presentation and after school, I went back to my desk.

Meanwhile, my principal had been paging me on the all-call system while I was in the author's presentation to see if I had taken care of everything for tomorrow's poetry thing (I had, yes). So, on my way back to my office, at least 25 colleagues said to me, as they walked past: Did you know the office is looking for you? Yes. Thank you very much. I'm having a real estate issue, okay?

Now, here is my favorite moment of the day. School is over. I am trying to print a letter of recommendation for a kid who needed it RIGHT THEN and the letterhead kept jamming. Pauline called on the office phone, the principal paged me again on the intercom, and two students showed up at the door for help on their essays which are due tomorrow. One of them is crying and holding up her flashdrive which holds the paper she worked on ALL night and now she cannot access. The other one writes notoriously complicated and head-spinning thesis statements and then needs me to sort of think aloud with her and paraphrase what I think she might be trying to argue so that she can understand it for herself, and then try again. Meanwhile, I was late to pick up my kids.

I considered crying again, but I didn't have time.

Somehow, I talked to Pauline to confirm that we would indeed go ahead and move in on the 22nd and just cross all of our fingers and toes that these buyers come through. I printed the letter of recommendation, answered the page, gave the crying student an extension, talked through the Lord of the Flies thesis statement, something about how immorality takes over in individuals when society does not exist to keep our morality in check, grabbed the folder full of stuff that I needed for organizing Poetry Outloud tonight, grabbed my coffee mug, still full of the coffee I never had time to drink today, and left.

Tomorrow's job? Call all the utility and moving companies. "Hi. Remember me?"

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Original

The spoof

to saltate: to leap or jump