Monday, April 7, 2003

March 18th - March 21st: The Packout

Tuesday, March 18th: The packers arrived bright and early this morning to pack up all our UAB and HHE articles. The UAB packer kept insisting that we had too many items set aside but when it came down to it, we’d had half of our allotment and were searching around for other items to put in the boxes to reach our maximum shipping weight.

It’s a little odd having perfect strangers packing up all your belongings and oftentimes I wonder how much is junk and how much we’ll really miss. How little can we really live with? Probably very little. Sure, some has nostalgic value, but really how much do we –need-?
It was actually a pretty quiet day. We popped into the house from time to time because the weather was so nice we just stayed outside and let them do their work. Thank goodness for the warmth. The kids spent their time playing freeze tag, crawling around under the front porch looking for giant mice and raking leaves because I told them I’d pay them a dollar if they made as big a pile as mine. Bribery? Oh yes.
One time when checking in on the UAB packer, we started chatting about the kids. What an uncomfortable discussion that was. She asked if we only had the 4, then proceeded to tell me that she had 5 kids but one died when he was 6 months old and the other was decapitated in a car crash. Yes, it was that brusque, straightforward and sudden into the conversation. Now tell me, who needs that sort of information and who gives it out so readily and in such detail? I avoided that room for the rest of the day.
Our air shipment, all 5 boxes, were loaded onto the truck and we headed over to the hotel. Embassy Suites in Crystal City is an OK hotel, honestly the best part is the breakfast in the morning but that’s kind of sad for a $200/night place. We walked down to Pentagon City mall for dinner at the American CafĂ© then back to the hotel to crash. The girls were able to share the sofa bed with Nicholas in the extra double and Jonathon in a crib. The girls did not sleep well as they rolled and kicked and complained at each other for bothering the other. Maybe tomorrow night we’ll shift folks around.
Wednesday, March 19th: Not even any time for the yummy breakfast we passed downstairs, we grabbed some fruit and headed to the house to be there by 8 a.m. and picked up some McDonald’s breakfast on the way. Yum. Not. But the pancakes were worth it for Jonathon. Have I mentioned lately how picky he is? It’s a rare day that he’ll eat any vegetable or meat, so we offer him lots of fruit and grains, but it’s not helping with his anemia at all.
The loaders arrived and were done by noon. Bye bye stuff. All that’s left in the house is our furniture and some leftover bits to head to storage. A short morning and we headed back to the hotel so that Ian could go to Main State to check out. Jonathon napped and when Ian returned we went to the swimming pool. Nicholas can swim! With floaties, it didn’t take him long to be off on his own paddling through the water yelling “Me ‘wim!” Katherine is doing really well with actual swimming and is practicing taking a breath without stopping dead in the water. And Rebecca, well, she’s Rebecca and stuck to the wall. There were periods where she’d venture into the water and paddle a bit. I’m hoping in Manila she’ll get over this hesitation and just go with it. Jonathon really enjoyed the swimming as well and he thought the hot tub was pretty neat. That was my favorite part, but I have to admit being pleased that the pool was heated and easy to get used to. After about an hour, we went to dinner at Chili’s. OK, I admit we’re hitting all the local American fare spots with real American food. It’s obvious isn’t it? While Manila has restaurants like Pizza Hut, I don’t expect them to be quite the same.
Dinner went fine until Jonathon made an uncomfortable noise and I noticed he was covered. He had thrown up. Oh no. I cleaned him up as best I could, wrapped him in my sweatshirt and Ian went to bring the car up to get us. Oh please let this be a fluke, that he drank too much pool water or something. Ugh.
Thursday, March 20th: The last day of packing! And by noon, everything was gone out of the house. Amazing. It’s totally empty. And oddly enough I think I like the house even more now that it’s empty. Color me odd, but it’s just so neat and clean. This was the best group of packers of the three. Nice, helpful, good to the kids and thank goodness because the weather turned bad and all the kids had to stay inside and out of the way of the big burly guys stomping around. Tomorrow we have the cleaners come through for the chimney, the bathrooms/kitchen and the carpet. I hope the tenants like the house. They rented without seeing as they’re coming in from Puerto Rico with their 2 boys and 3 little dogs.
We headed over to Landmark Shopping Center and while we outfitted the van with 2 new front tires, we had some lunch at the mall, then avoided the rain as best we could… ok, Ian went through the rain to get the car so we stayed pretty dry. Jonathon still isn’t feeling well but he seems to be doing better. My parents have planned to take all 4 kids tonight so we can get a night out before our departure and we’ve scheduled to meet up with Jeff and his friends Pete&Eden for dinner. Of course, first we have to swing by the airport to pick up our rental van because tomorrow when we’re at the house the van will get picked up and get put in a really big box and then onto a ship and sailed over the ocen blue. After dropping our van off at the hotel, we swung the shuttle to the airport and picked up the rental, heading straight to Connecticut Avenue to see Jeff. Once we’d all gathered, we decided on Vietnamese food right down the street. It was great! We all had soup and were totally clueless as to the size apparently. Never order a large bowl of soup at a Vietnamese restaurant because it’s big enough to feed 3 people! It was excellent, and we had plenty of laughing until my sides hurt. How nice to have a break and just be silly for a while.
Friday, March 21st: Last day at our home before it’s rented out tomorrow. It’s a sad kind of day but Ian and I enjoyed spending some time together just wandering the rooms and swinging on the porch. The house looks great and we’re ready to have tenants. Everyone was here when we arrived and the chimney was done in 15 minutes, the maids took a couple hours and the carpet took until 11:30. The giant tow truck came and loaded up our van after making notes of all the scratches and dings already on it. Who knew! I sure didn’t notice all the scrapes and scratches. With a little time to ourselves, we talked on the swing and our neighbor came by to chat. She went right into saying how she’d been hoping to have time now to spend more time with neighbors. As it had been a rough past year seeing as she’d been laid off recently and her high school daughter had been raped and had just given birth and it was an open adoption, and the Navy might not let her husband retire on time depending on how long the war in Iraq lasts. Whoah.. do I have a sign on my head that says share all personal life stories here? Why is it people give just enough one-sided information to make you spend the rest of the day wasting brain cells speculating? After offering our sympathies we were set to have Nancy the Property Manager come over and we did a walk through of the house, showing her all the things we’d left behind like the lawnmower and paint and cleaners. Then we left. Goodbye house. Nancy will take a video of the premises for our file and hopefully all will be well.
We had a nice lunch out at Daks grill, just the two of us, and being a fish Friday we had some yummy food. Once we got back to my parents house I was happy to hear that no one else had gotten sick and that Jonathon seemed to be on the mend. Ian and my dad went to FSI to check out and when they returned we decided to go out to dinner together to a nearby Chinese buffet. While driving there, the boys fell asleep and Katherine started saying that her tummy hurt. Uh oh. Arriving there, she was still feeling sick, but also getting upset that we were thinking of missing dinner because of her. It’s hard to explain to a 7 year old that getting sick is no one’s fault and no one was blaming her. We just wanted to get back to the hotel so she could rest. We almost made it all the way to the parking garage before she lost all the food she’d eaten. Thankfully we’d had the forethought to give her a plastic bag, just in case. It came in very handy. And now we know this isn’t a fluke, that something is going around and all we can do is hope they all get it before we head to the airport Monday morning. We did try to order room service and asked for some plain noodles with cheese for the kids to eat. No one was hungry though and we spent an exorbitant amount on food that wasn’t eaten. The cheese had mold in it (and no, it wasn’t supposed to) so we complained, but all that got us was the noodles taken off the bill. Well, $14 for 4 bowls of plain noodles isn’t a pittance.
Katherine slept in the second double bed as she was miserable with dry heaves every 5-10 minutes, while Nicholas and Rebecca shared the sleeper sofa. That actually seems to work out much better. For some reason the girls just bicker all night, but these 2 managed to sleep well.

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