Tuesday, January 1, 2013

False Alarm

I am a CPA and I'm nine months pregnant. So I did everything I could to get this baby to come before today, for tax purposes. Unfortunately, nothing worked. So today I sit here still pregnant and bitter but still hopeful this will be a great new year.

Last night I seriously started having pelvic pain around 6pm, right after my 4 year old woke me up from a nap by punching me in the pregnant belly. (I don't think it was intentional - he couldn't even see the belly under the blanket.) I knew it was too late to have the baby before midnight, so we proceeded with our plans to have dinner at El Charro, a local favorite Mexican restaurant, with 10 of Ben's family members. I felt pretty miserable the whole time but, just like earlier in the day, when I stuffed myself sick at Tupelo Honey Cafe, I kept thinking it might be my last meal so I stuffed myself again with chips, salsa, and guacamole salad.

When we left we went home and I went ahead and called the doctor to see if I needed to come in. They said yes. (Note: it was already too late to get the tax deduction so this was not a ploy.) So at 9:30pm I called mom to take William there on the way to hospital. Of course she didn't answer. Ben and I called her multiple times to no avail. So I said we should just go ahead and take William by her house because she was likely there and had lost her phone again. When we got to her house she was there, she had lost her phone, and Ben said that if I had come in I probably wouldn't have left William with her. He said her kitchen was a disaster with dirty pots and pans out everywhere and when he put William in her bed, there were no sheets on it.

Didn't really matter I guess because of course she let him get up (we found out when we were leaving the hospital at 11:40pm and he was still up and awake.)

Today, we are all exhausted and it has rained all day and I didn't get my tax deduction and have to go back to work tomorrow. Happy New Year!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I'm an American Picker

This weekend I went to a Seven Seas Estate Sale in Clinton, TN with Joel and Kristin Friday night and to the most incredible rummage sale ever on Saturday at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.  I bought 3 items at the Seven Seas sale, which Joel believed I intended to resell but I did not.  I bought a board game from 1968 called Dynamite Shack where players wear super huge thumbs and try to pick up dynamite sticks and put it into this shack before the roof blows off.  It can be worth around $60 and mine has all the pieces but I didn't buy this one to sell.
The game still works perfectly and, needless to say, William LOVES it.  He loves any game and anything that scares/shocks you.  At the Seven Seas sale I also bought "The Girl Who Played with Fire" for a dollar and a UT troll to put on my desk at work along with my buddha, my desktop Dwight, and the Sunsphere. ($5 total at Seven Seas)  Overall, though, I was a little disappointed with the estate sale.

Saturday, however, I struck gold at the TVUUC rummage sale.  I went crazy.  I bought an oriental runner rug for $2,

I had honestly been looking for one and couldn't find one that I liked and they were all around $150 so $2 was doable.

I also bought a 1988 pink Barbie RV for $2, two early 1990s Easy Bake Ovens for $1.50 each, a working 8 track and record player for $5, a Schwinn Bantam girl's bike from the 1960s or 1970s with training wheels for $15, and a really awesome motorcycle toy for William for $2, and an awesome wooden kids table with two chairs for $5 for the set.  The total for my first trip was $34.

Then I took the Barbie RV, one of the easy bake ovens, the thing that is evading my mind right now directly to Nostalgia on the way home.  Then Ben asked why I didn't put the 8 track/record player out and I realized I had left it at the TVUUC after paying.  We went back and they still had it, thank God!

After dropping Ben and William home, I went back to the TVUUC at noon because they had 50% off from noon to 2pm and they had a huge box of wooden Thomas the Train trains and tracks and other stuff that was marked $50 (which would have been a deal) but I thought $25 would be more reasonable. It wasn't there when I returned but there were plenty of things I still wanted.  I bought soccer cleats for William for $0.25, really phallic looking iron andirons for $3.75, a framed and really cool New York poster for $1.50, a 12" bike to replace William's or resell for $5, a really cool pillow made from a wool oriental rug for $1.50, an old Radio Flyer ride on toy for $1, and a shredder for $0.50 (which I plugged in and tested with a couple of pieces of paper at the church- and we had honestly been thinking of getting one of these recently too). The total was $12.25 because I think they miscalculated by a dollar or so AND they threw in a free Tremont (GSMNP) coffee mug.  Then I went back to Nostalgia to put out the andirons, poster, pillow, 8 track/ record player, and the old Radio Flyer ride on toy and the Barbie RV had already sold for more than 10 times what I paid for it!

Today I sold the Schwinn Bike for $60 (I had listed it on Craigslist for $75).  I have also listed the kids table and chairs and the kids bike on Craigslist.

I'm pretty excited about the purchases but there were several other things I should have bought to resell including an antique Raleigh bike in great condition for $17.50 (likely worth $300+), two girls bikes with training wheels for $2.50 each, two high quality jogging strollers, a pack and play, a very nice huge custom high (thick) pile rug, 5 or 6 car seats for $1-$2.50 each, a huge custom abstract original oil painting, and possibly a nice pre-lit Christmas tree.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Day the Pipes Burst continued...

To continue...

Since we had no water after the pipes burst we had to stay with mom.  Here are some of the things that happened there.

I kept getting tripped up on something the whole time I was in the bedrooms, the bathroom, or the hall but I couldn't see it.  Finally, Ben said, "What am I getting caught in?  I can't see it."  So I knew I wasn't crazy and I began to investigate it further.  I reached down to feel the thing and followed it to its source.  It was fishing line and it was literally all over the house.  Ben asked mom why she had fishing line and told her we were getting all caught in it and she said, "Oh!  I have been getting caught in something too!"  There's no telling how long she had been stringing the stuff around because it was everywhere.

Mom offered to make chili for dinner but needed us to get beef.  She asked Ben to get ground chuck to which he replied he would get ground round because "Elizabeth won't eat it if she sees how fatty it is." I said, "I know that ground chuck is fatty.  I don't care what you get because I won't eat it anyway."  When we were going to the store Ben said, "What else does she put in her chili?"  He wanted to know this because, like me, he has learned not to trust anything she serves because there's just no telling how long she's had the stuff.  Around 2008 we found a sausage in her freezer that had expired in 1994 and she defended serving it.  We believe it had even moved houses with her- maybe even twice.  But like I told Ben, even if all the ingredients were new, I still wouldn't eat it because her dishes are never clean.  And I mean they are REALLY dirty.  Ben laughed it off but when we returned and she started making it she was using the same pan that she had used that morning for eggs.  I heard Ben in the kitchen say to her, "Are you sure that chili is going to fit in that pan?"  This was cracking me up because I knew he had seen the dirty pan and was trying to get her to change to another, hopefully cleaner, one.  He came out. looking frightened, and said to me, "Do you know what she was trying to cook the chili in?  The skillet she used for eggs this morning."  I laughed and said I told him so.  He said, "No. It's not just that it was dirty.  She did try to clean it but there were still little brown bits of egg all over it.  But that's not even the problem.  It was a skillet.  The beef wouldn't have even fit in it, much less all of the other ingredients."  Of course needless to say Ben checked before bed and she had left the eye of the stove on, a recurring problem.  

I'm tired again so I'll stop here but I'll more to this one later.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Day the Pipes Burst

Let's start at the beginning.  I felt terrible Sunday and was in bed taking a nap when Ben started screaming, "Get William!" then ran out of the house.  I had no idea what was going on for a few minutes 1) because I had been dead asleep and 2) because no one told me.  This part is still sort of blurry but at some point I wandered to the staircase where the door was open leading to the basement and saw a river spewing out near the ceiling right between the basement and garage.  Then I woke up.  The pipes had burst.  Ben came running back in and out of the house for the next few minutes asking where to turn the water off and screaming while I was frantically on the phone dialing information for Roto Rooter.  Roto Rooter was all booked and had no one available for emergencies which for some reason gave me some solace that we weren't the only ones going through this emergency.  So then I tried to get on the computer but somehow couldn't find a good central location for plumbers.  I ran around the house like a chicken with its head cut off looking for a phone book and found one more quickly than I would have imagined.  I called Mr. Rooter whose number had been disconnected and Cedar Bluff plumbing who evidently didn't have weekend emergency service.  Then I called some random company called HEP that had taken out a full page ad in the phone book (making them legitimate in my eyes at the time) advertising emergency service and they did have someone available.  That someone turned out to be Ralf.  Now before I continue I want to preface this with several things...I do not discriminate, especially against Mexicans because I love them and would move to Mexico in a heartbeat.  But I seriously doubt that Ralf was a licensed plumber if he was even a legal citizen.  I also think he may have been retarded.  I don't know how to put it delicately- he seemed retarded.  Ben also told me later that Ralf had spelled my name "Alizabeth" and that is how it would be spelled alliteratively.  Ralf knew less about plumbing than I did and he said it would cost us $300 just to cap the fucking pipe until someone could come out and fix it for an additional fee that we assumed would be considerably more than an additional $300 later.  I could go on and on here about how I ended up submitting a complaint on them to the Better Business Bureau but as I was telling one of my coworkers about this today she asked me who the company was and I said HEP and she said she sees their commercials all the time and proceeded to google it.  See for yourself- it will tell you a little something about the company:


If I had seen this before I called I would not have even used them despite our desparate situation.  In the meantime Ben finally ran next door to our neighbors house and luckily he was home and saved the day.  He knew where to turn the water off at the street, he had a wrench to turn it off when it was stuck, and he had a wet vac to vacuum up all the water.  All of a sudden after I called all the plumbers I remembered that the first thing Ben had screamed was "Get William" and I hadn't seen William for the past 15 minutes or so.  When I finally regained consciousness I started screaming for William and couldn't find him anywhere.  When I finally found him he was under his bed playing some sick joke on me.  I'm going to pause here because this story isn't half over but I'm tired and the second part has to do with staying with my mom since we didn't have any water and, if you know me, you know that's an even better story.  Let me also say here though that we came back to the house to meet another plumber on Monday (the next day) and as soon as we got home Ben went down and started trying to tear all the drywall off the wall.  I told him to just wait for the plumber because we might not have to do all that.  Sure enough he ruined part of the wall for no reason.  Luckily, however, he was not strong enough to break through most of the drywall.  I should stop making fun of him though because today is his 30th birthday and I love him.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


It all started about two months ago when Ben kept getting bug bites all over him.  With the stories in the news about bedbugs at UT Medical Center, he was convinced we had them.  I was not getting bitten and was tired of him complaining and spending hours on the internet researching bedbugs so I told him to go to the dermatologist.  He went and the dermatologist told him he believed, based on the large size of the bites, that they weren't bedbug bites but instead were likely bird mites or some other kind of mite.  We found this believable as we did have a bird's nest in the garage just below our bedroom.  We removed the nest and Ben felt better for about a day.  But then he kept getting bitten.  I still showed no signs of being bitten.

We searched the bed for bedbugs several times, removing the mattresses, looking at the seams, etc., as I had been taught to do by my Hall Director training on bedbugs.  We never saw any.  Ben even vacuumed the bed and surrounding and saw nothing.  By this time he was washing the sheets twice a week and started sleeping in the other bedroom sometimes.  And he continued to get bitten and get hives. 

One morning he found a bug in the bed, very tiny and red.  Nothing like the pictures of bedbugs.  I put it in a ziploc bag and took it to the UT Entomology department (to Dr. Karen Vail- who was the one who did my bedbug training as a Hall Director).  Dr. Vail was really excited.  It was still alive and she rushed it to the microscope.  It was running around trying to get out of the light.  It was a cimicid nymph.  Meaning it wasn't yet fully developed and she couldn't really tell what it was.  She went to the other room and got out this tray of dead bugs on pins, trying to identify it.  She had her assistant on the internet looking up various bugs.  It was a bedbug.  And this is where the nightmare really begins...

We use Russell's Pest Control for our regular pest control service so we called them out to look.  Sure enough they found one or two adult bedbugs and several eggs on the back of the headboard of our bed.  At first they said it would be $200 per room and recommended treating at least William's room and our room and probably the guest bedroom too.  I can handle $600.  Then they called back and said they would have to treat the whole house and it would be $950.  So I called Dr. Vail who couldn't recommend a specific pest control company but told us to get estimates.  So we did...Orkin was $600 for the first room and $300 for each additional.  Cooks was $1,500 for the house plus you had to buy a mattress cover FROM THEM for every bed in the house and we have 4 beds.  I didn't even ask how much that would be.  Then Allied came out and said it would be $350 per room but we could just do our room and William's room, so this was really the cheapest option we had at this point ($700). We choose Russell's for $950 for the whole house simply because they offered a year warranty and the other companies only offered 30-60 days. 

Russell's came out Friday (Ben and I both had to take the day off work) and started bagging up every soft thing in our house for us to take to the laundromat and dry (and some to wash).  Evidently drying kills the bugs.  Anyway, we have a lot of stuff, and a lot of it is soft.  Stuffed animals, tons of clothes, curtains, sheets, comforters, towels, etc.  It was literally 500 lbs or more of stuff.  The bed of our truck was overflowing with trashbags and the double cab was full too.  I had to drive separately.  Right before we left it was time to sign the contract.  I told Ben, in front of the Russell's manager, to make sure it said we got a year warranty.  He immediately says, "Oh.  We don't do year warranties on bedbugs.  60 days is the max."  I'm like, "We chose you because of the warranty.  You were not the cheapest option.  We also have our regular service through you.  Call the salesman and put the warranty in the contract or leave and we'll get someone else."  They had just spent two hours bagging up all this crap and we still hadn't signed the contract.  So the manager calls the salesman and he confirmed that he did say it was a year warranty.  (Ben had asked him like 4 times so we knew he had said it.)  The manager decided to honor the warranty, we signed the contract, and off we went to the Family Bubble on Sutherland, which was recommened because it's fairly new and has free wi-fi. 

I naively brought my computer like I would have any time to get on the internet.  When we got there the place was full of Mexican women taking up almost all the machines, likely doing laundry for pay.  Ben wanted to leave but we decided to stay and luckily they left after about 30 minutes.  We spent the next 6 hours or so taking up every dryer in the place, folding sorting, re-bagging our soft stuff.  My mom even came to help.  I was dizzy and exhausted from being on my feet all day.  It was what I imagine hell to be like.

And worse, I had posted on Craigslist that we would be having a garage sale the next morning (which Ben thought was unethical considering our bedbug problem).  We had been advised to keep William out of the house for the night due to the chemicals used to treat the bedbugs.  William and I went to mom's house while Ben went home and stayed up half the night putting all the stuff back where it went.  I got up and left mom's house at 5:45am the next morning to get ready for the garage sale.  I was already physically exhausted from the day before but got it together.  And we sold lots of junk.  We didn't, however, sell the problem bed (which, by the way, was the only place in the entire house they saw evidence of bedbugs...so did we really need to pay $950?).  If you are interested in a queen sized leather bed, queen boxsprings, and queen mattress give me a call.  I'll give you a deal. 

Ben is still getting bitten.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Playdate Chaos

This week was Fall Break at UT.  This means that I am not off work but the Early Learning Center is closed.  I guess they assume all parents are either students or faculty, but unfortunately I am staff.  I wouldn't have even known that it was Fall Break except that I got an email from one of the moms of William's classmates, Natalia, asking us to come over Friday for a playdate.  She invited us and a couple of other children and moms.  In her email this is what she said (I cut and pasted this from the actual email):

OK, let’s shoot for Friday after nap.  I’ll pick Anna up and then plan to be back around 2:30 – 3:00 pm.

She never gave any other time and another mother responded that she would be there around 3 so Kate, Natalia's mom, wouldn't have to rush to pick up her older daughter, Anna, from Sacred Heart.  William had a terrible day sleepwise the day before with no nap and he didn't go to sleep until midnight so I was really worried that we wouldn't make it by 3pm.  However, he did go to nap around 1:30pm so I woke him up at 2:45pm to go.  We got ready and made it there a few minutes after 3pm.  I thought I had the right address but I hadn't printed the directions so I wasn't sure.  We went up and knocked on the door several times with no answer.  So I called Ben and he looked in my email for Kate's cell number.  I called her and she said "Wow.  You are prompt."  She's British so I guess they say "prompt" in Britain.  She said she was about 20 minutes away.   As I hung up the phone a second mother, Maha, and her daughter, Avani, showed up.  So we just stood in the front yard while the kids played on a dirt-covered cobweb filled plastic castle with a slide in the side yard and waited.  As we stood there Maha got hit in the head twice by falling acorns.  Then Kate and her daughters arrived, as did Sissie and her son Nicholas.  Within minutes Sissie was stung by a wasp, the kids were all covered in mosquito bites, Nicholas rode the tricycle off the front porch and got hurt, and William knocked over the entire table that Kate had brought into the front yard, spilling all the strawberries, homemade brownies, organic milk and apple juice that Kate had put out.   It was total chaos.  A little more background- the front yard was completely overgrown, yet that was where we were playing.  It was also quite steep, hence the reason the table fell over, as did the bounce house that Kate also brought out.  The backyard was a cliff and it was completely wooded so that wasn't an option.  I forgot my camera so I used Kate's but she said she hadn't uploaded pictures from it in years so I didn't take many since I assumed they wouldn't make it off the camera.  A little more background: Kate and her husband are both Nuclear Physicists, as is Avani's dad.  Kate is from England and her husband is from Poland.  Avani's mom is from India and her dad is from Germany.  Nicholas' mom is from Greece and his dad is from Pakistan/Germany.  I actually really love this and I'm so glad they include us even though we are the "ugly Americans."  Back to Nuclear Physicists, they are incredibly smart but don't pay much attention to detail.  Anyway, we finally went inside and I was pleased to see that their house is as cluttered as ours.  Unlike us, though, they didn't try to hide the clutter.  It probably didn't even cross their mind, because they are Nuclear Physicists.  The funny thing is- we had a great time!  

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I am ungrateful.  I'll attribute it to the fact that I'm an only child.  I expect to get my way and get everything I want... and generally I do.  I definitely believe part of that is simply believing that I will get what I want while Ben rarely gets what he wants because he doesn't believe he'll get it.  But that's a post for another day.  This post is about being ungrateful. 

Ben's aunt, a former nun who essentially moved to Knoxville the first summer William was in this world to help us out and babysit, came up this weekend from Nashville to get William a wooden playground.  So as I was researching playgrounds I came upon a trampoline.  From that very moment forward, a playground was out and a trampoline was a "must have."

Here's my justification for a trampoline over a playground:
1) They are half the price of the kind of playground Cathy planned on buying. (Cathy is Ben's aunt which, by the way, is pronounced "ant" not "ont")
2) They can be more easily moved if we move houses, which is real possibility if you look at our moving history.
3) They have a longer useful life.  For example, I am 32 (almost) and still love to jump on a trampoline but I wouldn't be caught dead on a playground.  Okay, so if you know me, I probably would but that's beside the point.  I prefer trampolines and kids use them into high school.
4) William and I could enjoy the trampoline together rather than me watch him on a stupid playground.  As Ben mentioned, though, it might be good for me not to play with William every second of the day.
5) There are other reasons that aren't coming to me right now but reasons 1-4 should be sufficient by themselves.

Ben mentioned the trampoline substitute to Cathy but she wasn't interested.  Of course this made me mad.  Cathy has been talking about getting William a playground for a year now so I could have guessed this would happen.  Nevertheless, I was mad.  I didn't participate in the shopping or the 16+ hours of playground construction over the past two days.

I was mad, mad, mad.  And certainly ungrateful for the money and hard work that Cathy and Peter put into that stupid thing in our back yard.  I mean this was all about me, right? Oh wait... it's about William but I know he would prefer a trampoline too.

You think I'm going to come around and say that I shouldn't have been so ungrateful or should have been glad just to have it but when you think about the fact that William won't use that stupid thing past the age of 5, it cost an arm and a leg, and trampolines are more fun, you have to reach the same conclusion.

It turns out William likes the playground.  I knew he would but still know he would prefer a trampoline.  And... William is ungrateful too.  After he played on it all night tonight we got in the car and he found a booklet of other bigger playgrounds and said he wanted those instead.  I don't blame him. He's like me.  He's rational.