Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Moved, Just Not Moved In

The ZippyShell storage unit
that caused more than a few of our neighbors
to walk their dogs by our place this weekend :)
So it's official: Almost all of our stuff is now in the house.  We are currently still living in the basement, but our confines have suddenly become much more spacious.  Basically, we've got two mattresses, the cushions from our couches, our electronics, clothes for a week, toiletries, and foodstuffs here.  Everything else?  In Maryland.  I know, right?!

This weekend was really productive, thanks to my father-in-law and brother-in-law schlepping themselves up here for the weekend with their pick-up truck.  Between that tiny Tacoma and our Prius, we managed to get everything up, and didn't even have to cancel on two different birthday parties the kids had been invited to.  In fact, the parties really helped things, because they took the kids out of our hair for hours at a time on both Saturday and Sunday.  By the end of Saturday, we had put a huge dent in the basement, and by the end of Sunday there was so much stuff in the family room of the bungalow that we were having trouble moving around.  We basically put everything on the floor it needed to go on, and left it at that.  Once Monday rolled around, Abby spent the day dividing things up.  For instance, she put all the seasonal stuff (like Christmas ornaments and Easter baskets) in one of the storage spaces under the stairs, and all of the home improvement stuff (like paint cans and extra shingles) in the other.  She says that after having done that, it's clear we're not going to have a storage issue after all, which I still suspect we will.  

When looking at this photograph,
please imagine a high-pitched scream
going off at random intervals.
Getting the stuff out of the storage container was fun for us, because it meant progress on the house.  But for the kids, that was the most important thing we could have done-- screw moving, they wanted their toys back!  The squeal let out by Lola when she saw the giant garbage bag full of stuffed animals way back behind most of the stuff in there was likely audible across the Beltway. She insisted on carrying the bag out herself, even though it was bigger than she is.  And forget anything about not unpacking because of dust; by the time we left to come back to DC Saturday night, those toys were strewn around her room like nobody's business.  Surprisingly, she chose not to bring her Abby Cadabby (a Sesame Street fairy character, for those of you without small kids) back to DC with her, favoring a couple of small cat toys.  Guess quantity ruled over quality in that decision.  Meanwhile, Isaac was absorbed with his synthesizer (which I fully expect him to forget within a week, since that's what he did after we got it for him) and his BeyBlade spinny things-- they're tops, but with enough styling on them that saying they're tops just makes you a party pooper.  Whatever-- the kids were left to their own devices once the toys popped out of the storage container, which helped us get everything else out without  breaking anything!  (And yes, Abby's grandpa's enormous armoire got in, in one piece, without breaking anything else.)

We even managed to do an IKEA run midday on Sunday, although after all was said and done, I think it wasn't the best use of our time.  It ended up being no sweat to find the stuff Abby wanted, but we spent at least a half an hour in line, and since everything we got ended up being in long, flat boxes, I think we could have easily fit it all in the Prius with the seats folded down.  No matter: I am likely to have more than a few days of putting Scandinavian furniture together in my future, and I'm okay with that.  (We got each of the kids a new desk and a new bookcase, got flush-mount light fixtures for all the closets, and the same hanging fixture we've had in our DC kitchen for 9 years for our mudroom; hey, you stick with what you like!)

On Saturday, Abby met with the countertop measurer guy, and by the end of the weekend we got the plans for the project.  They told us it'll all be done within ten days, which means it should be installed before we get back from Florida.  That magic return trip will probably be when we physically move into the house ourselves, which should give the contractor and all the subs plenty of time (famous last words!) to finish what they've got left.  We had four doors delivered today, and the plumber "had free range" (Mark's words, not mine) of his stuff today, so a lot of that final stuff is being, well, finalized, even before we leave for the beach.

Can you tell there's a wood block mounted behind
this sconce?  I can't...

And the upstairs bathroom is also lighted now.
Other stuff has been done as well.  I bought this snazzy and probably overpriced thermostat called "Nest" that supposedly learns your habits and adjusts the temperature accordingly all by itself.  We had the bathroom sconces installed and the downstairs ones had to have wood blocks placed behind them because they didn't clear the mirror (that same damn mirror!) without them; amazed to see the guys actually painted the wood the same gray color as the walls to make it blend in.  Honestly, if Abby had not pointed it out, I wouldn't have looked twice at the way they were mounted-- see for yourself!

On the financial front, I did decide to go with the local lender and forget about having another place beat the rate.  I felt a bit slimy about it, and the fact that the guy's local makes it better.  I do have to dredge up all of our paperwork over at the house tomorrow, to make sure we have everything we need to allow the refi to proceed, but that shouldn't be a huge issue.  I also was pretty psyched when I remembered I could transfer our construction insurance policy into regular homeowners' insurance; doing that should cut our rate in half.  I checked for cable providers, and unless we go for a dish-- which is pretty much a non-starter-- it looks like we're stuck with Comcast.  Yuck.  I also put out feelers for a security system.  For our DC house, with three doors and only five windows on the first floor, the free promotional systems worked just fine.  This time, with only two doors but crazy numbers of first-floor windows, I think we're gonna have to pay a bunch up front to make sure we get all the windows tied in.  Plus, that'll ensure our kids won't be able to sneak out of their windows undetected once they're teenagers... right?  Right?

Speaking of the kids, I finally got in touch with a legal mind who helped us out with our schooling dilemma, and it seems I was right: our kids can keep going to their school in DC, even after we move.  According to this firm, the fact that we'll be paying property and income taxes in DC allows us to choose our residency, just like snowbirds in New York choose to be Florida residents for tax purposes, even if they spend more time in Buffalo than in Sarasota.  Abby had been freaked out, because even though I was telling her that was the way I thought it would be, without having talked to a lawyer, she was worried about things like inviting people over for play dates or having birthday parties at home.  Now that we have someone in the know that told us we're cool, we can relax and renew our DC driver's licenses, register the kids for their same school next year, and bring out those mothballed plans for Abby's-- er-- Isaac's Halloween birthday party extravaganza down in the Glen.  But that's October, and this is still March, at least for one more week.

We've definitely got our work cut out for us this week, but now it's almost all squarely on us.  Once the plumbing is done, I'm going to consider the house unofficially livable.  Sure, we've got no doors on the bathrooms, and a giant hole under our back door-- although I just got an email from Home Depot about two hours ago saying the new door has been shipped-- but it's really now our job to make sure the accoutrements of living in a house are in order.  By the time we get back from the beach, we will be able to live in this house, and I'll be damned if something I did (or didn't do) is gonna hold me up from that!  (That said, we probably do have to get an official Certificate of Occupancy from the county, but that's Mark's job, not mine...)

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