By Vicki Todd
The final countdown to our international move
from Atlanta to Hong Kong.
Target date: Tuesday, January 20.
Sunday Jan. 4th
Brad and I return to Atlanta from our Christmas holiday in Florida with our families. We unpack the rental car (we have sold our cars because we can't take them to Hong Kong with us) and decide to turn on the spa. Why not kick up our feet--we are in the last weeks in our house, we should relax and enjoy. No worries, I have everything all under control. The kids will be back at school tomorrow and I can begin final preparations for the move. The phone rings. It's Sherri, home from their long New Year's weekend at the beach. We haven't seen each other in three weeks:
"Hey! It's so goooood to hear your voice! Christmas was great, nutty as usual. I can't wait to get the kids off to school tomorrow. I have so much to do in the next sixteen days!"
"Oh Vicki, don't you know? They don't have school tomorrow--they don't go back until Tuesday!"
(Damn those teacher planning days!)
Monday Jan. 5th
Sherri and I decide to do a "kid swap" to make it through another cold, rainy Atlanta day, the final, long day of Winter Break. I'm suffering Florida withdrawals and need some support. Sherri agrees to pick the girls and me up (Brad took the rental car to work) at lunch time and we will take the brood to McDonalds and let them run in playland while we catch up. We settle in our booth outside the glass (we can see 'em, we don't have to hear 'em!), trying to ignore the usual chaos of taking five children out for lunch and begin swapping Christmas stories. Most of the stories I can't print because our families read our column and they would find out we talk about them behind their backs! The conversation moves on to The Big Move and what we need to do to wrap up some things related to the book and www.rebelhousewife.com. (We're going international, Baby!)
"You know, I'm feeling great about the move. The movers come tomorrow to pack up the air shipment and storage; all I have to do is get the stuff together. After that, it's a piece of cake! I'm not sure what I'll do with all the extra time I have between now and when we leave on the 20th."
"Wow, you're amazing! Moving halfway around the world and you've really got it together! You cleaned out the house with the garage sale and downsizing, you'll be starting out all clean and organized in Hong Kong."
For the next six hours, I run up and down the stairs trying to figure out what to store and what to keep. As I muddle through the stuff, I keep coming across more junk to toss. I fill three garbage bags and keep going. I didn't have time, or a car, to go to the grocery store, so for dinner I prepare the ultimate feast: a Circus Dinner, which consists of any scrap of food I can find that hasn't turned green. There's not much left in the house after two weeks away, the pickings are slim. Our Circus Dinner consists of leftover Halloween candy, mixed with a bag of frozen vegetables and three frozen pancakes. I think I'll put that in the next cookbook!
Tuesday Jan 6th
The nasty alarm buzzes too early, I try and get out of bed. Oh god, I feel like I got hit by a truck! My body aches and my butt and calves are so sore and tight that I run--no, hobble--for the Advil. Going up and down the stairs 100 times yesterday has taken its toll. I make note that I need to add working out to my list of New Year's resolutions.
"Clayton, if you don't get your patootie out of bed and get to school, I will lock you in your room for a week!"
"Mom, I'm so tired, and I think my throat is sore."
"It's not sore--it's in your imagination. You had two weeks of sun and warm weather and that doesn't make you sick. You can't get sick, I have things to do today--we're moving!"
I begin my new workout routine going up and down the stairs with boxes, and suddenly realize I need dog food for the air shipment to Hong Kong (I don't want to be running around Hong Kong looking for dog food my first few days). I have no wheels to get to the pet store. I phone my friend Dannette: "Can you take me to the pet store so I can get Lucy some dog food? Please?" Even though she has had company for three weeks--and they are still there!--she makes time to come and get me. I begin talking a little fast--I'm already on my fourth cup of coffee. We drive through Starbucks to really speedup my conversation--I have no time to waste! We also swap Christmas stories that I can't share and again I'm thankful for a friend to chat with. By 6:00 pm when Brad gets home with the car, I'm exhausted and not so excited about facing the grocery store, but hunger wins out and I go.
Wednesday Jan 7th
Things begin to unravel as my "to do" list grows:
Cancel broadband, phone, direct TV, change address on everything, hire pool guy, call lawn guy to pinestraw, call painters, fix granite counter, fix garage door handle, unplug Lillian's sink, go to vet for pet records, get medical records for kids, get dental records for kids, buy two birthday gifts, write chapter for book, write column, color hair, call kids' teachers to schedule going away party for kids, put a years worth of photos in album (scratch that, just put them in a box to move), go through files, pack for flight to HK, call realtor, pick up dry cleaning, return Christmas gifts, name change on social security card (after 17 years of marriage, it's still under my maiden name), watch video Phoebe sent me, go to Target, go to pet store (again), put the roof on the doll house and organize house to move.
That should do it for today.
Before the kids get home, Sherri walks down with two cups and a bottle of pre-mixed Mudslides. She has discovered that we can skip the step of putting them in the blender and just drink them over ice. We down them before the bus arrives. I call my friend Phoebe to thank her for the Christmas gift and she patiently listens to me while I try to talk. The mudslides have taken control of my tongue and I apologize, but she laughs and says she could use one too. I begin to feel slightly better about the "to do" list--I move it all to tomorrow.
"Brad, wake up!"
"Vik, what do you want?"
"Here, look at my neck--"
"Honey, I love your neck, but can I look at it in the morning? Unless you said, 'lick my neck'..."
"No Brad, I'm not kidding! I have some kind of tumor growing in my neck and I look like Frankenstein!"
Brad turns on the light and yells, "Yuck, forget it! I don't want to lick your neck. Not only do you have a tumor, you have an ugly rash too!"
By morning, I can hardly think with the throbbing pain in my neck and the ugly rash that has now spread to my chin. I waste two hours surfing the web for possible causes of my untimely demise and determine I need to call the Doctor. I get an emergency appointment for Friday.
It's 1:45 p.m., and the phone rings: It's the school calling for me to pick up Clayton--he's sick. I don't answer (I listen to the message) because I can't pick him up without a car and even if I walk to the school, he's in no shape to walk home. He only has to make it the last half-hour. He arrives home on the bus claiming that I'm the worst mom in the world for not picking him up while he's dying. The next four hours are spent nursing the patient. I get Clayton to bed and get ready to go out for dinner with friends. I think about canceling, but have already canceled twice and have no room on the calendar to reschedule. I move the "to do" list to tomorrow.
Friday Jan. 9th
I don't sleep, since the tumor in my neck is now also taking over my chin. Brad and I take Clayton to the Doctor who determines he has strep throat. I once again move the "to do" list to tomorrow, all except the dollhouse roof. I wander downstairs and begin my unusual project wondering to myself why I couldn't have done this a year ago, when I had all the time in the world... Brad rushes home from work to stay with Clayton while I go to the Doctor. I wait the usual hour-plus to hear:
"I think you have shingles."
"I thought only old people and people with stress got shingles!"
"Well usually, but you are almost middle-aged and maybe there is a little stress with your move."
"I scream back I'm not middle-aged OR stressed--I have moved eight times, I can handle this!"
I leave muttering to myself, "How can this be happening--I had everything under control!"
As you can see, the saga is not finished. These questions remain, with 10 days to go:
Will Vicki's tumor and ugly rashes clear up?
How long will Clayton require therapy because his mother neglected to pick him up at school?
Will China put the Roos family in quarantine when they arrive to keep the country safe?
Did Vicki finish roofing the dollhouse?
What ever happened to the "to do" list?
Will the tales of Christmas ever make it to print?
Did Sherri and Vicki finish the bottle of Mudslides?
Did Lucy and the rabbit make the flight?
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