Ok, not really, there were good bits. Got to see old friends, and drive around a pretty city just as it's bursting into spring. But because this is my blog, and I have to fret and whine and kvetch sometime, I am now going to tell you everything that went wrong.
Sunday: restroom fail and navigation fail
The day we get in, we stop at Robinson Town Center for lunch - at one of those free-standing restaurants around a big mall. We pay for the buffet, sit down, I take Aiden to the restroom, only to find that they're flooded, and closed. I ask Aiden if he needs to pee, and he says yes, which means DUCK AND COVER, HE'S ABOUT TO BLOW! in kidspeak. I scoop Aiden up and pretty much run for the mall, across a busy street and two parking lots. We get in, I ask for directions, get the wrong directions, it takes forever to find another person to get the right ones.... but at least Aiden made it. We limp back (okay, I limp, he walks) and eat. Gah.
We then get tremendously lost trying to get to J&R's house where we're staying, because Route 28 is *still* under construction (just like it was when we left town 10 years ago) and the GPS can't handle it. But eventually we get there, we hang out, it's all good. Though I'd forgotten they had a dog, and my allergies are making me miserable.
Monday: stress and navigation fail
Monday. What happened Monday? Oh right. I take Aiden to a playground, he promptly wets himself, we run home for a change of clothes, I then drive all over creation trying to find the drugstore that the GPS swears is right there but doesn't actually exist, and then Aiden acts up in the drugstore I do find so it takes me twice the time to find half the stuff I need, and by the time I leave there to pick up my mom at the airport some 40 minutes away, she's already landed.
By this point I have determined that the GPS is flat-out useless in Pittsburgh. Between the... challenges of navigating a 3-D city in two dimensions, and the constant construction, and the, well, Pittsburghishness of it all, I was better off steering by gut with the occasional glance at Google maps.
Tuesday: navigation fail, exhaustion
Tuesday. I start off getting lost finding my mom's hotel. I have a fantastic sense of direction. But navigation is a very different thing, and in Pittsburgh at least I apparently can't navigate to save my life. When I find it, finally, I... do laundry! Because J&R's washer is broken, and Aiden's potty skills are suffering thanks to travel stress. Anyway, Tuesday is house-hunting day. We have a realtor, a friend of J's, to help iron out logistics, but there are just not very many properties for rent right now. Apparently with the first-time-homebuyers credit running out at the end of April, nobody is renting their property unless they absolutely have to. So we have three places to go see. The first is way out there and pricey but really very nice. The second is OMGnowayinhell. The third is nice but small - we'd have to put tons of our stuff in storage.
Wednesday: school fail, navigation fail, exhaustion
Wednesday starts off with a school tour: a Montessori that came highly recommended and looked great on the website. But the moment we walked in the warning bells started going off. On the outside: dilapidated farmhouse. On the inside: stuffy Victorian lobby/office and hot/cramped classrooms. The director was... well, take a Stepford wife, make her 65, joyless, and bitter, with no ability to connect to anyone. I tried to look past her as a school's quality isn't always reflected by its head, but the kids were all quiet and joyless too, and kept being called up by the director to do the performing-monkey dance. She emphasized academics and testing and drilling and said nothing about imaginative or active play. She said at one point "Montessori children never bully!" which I know from hard personal experience to be untrue. She also said all Montessori schools were the same, which I also know from hard personal experience to be untrue. My mother and I spent most of the tour shooting disgusted glances at each other, and when Aiden started losing it (I had given him his iPod to keep him quiet, as I got the distinct impression they would Not Be Happy if he, you know, acted like a kid) I told a white lie about being late for our next appointment and got us out of there.
My mother called the other two Montessoris in the area. One gave us an appointment for Thursday. The other said "sure, come on over!" It was a lovely little place, run by a couple out of a house with about 30 kids. But they have no openings. We can send in paperwork and get on their list. Sigh.
So then we need to get downtown to pick up Andrei, take him back north to show him the house in Gibsonia we'd found the day before. Lost doesn't even begin to cover what happens this time. We spend a couple of HOURS winding our way over Mount Washington and the South Side trying to get to Station Square. As with so many other cases this week, I knew where I was and where I needed to be - I just couldn't get there from here.
Finally we find Andrei and take him to the house. We go through with the realtor looking for things we'd like fixed before moving in - the carpets had just been cleaned, but there were broken screens and outlet covers and mouse droppings in the kitchen drawers. Very long and exhausting process, and Aiden is nearing meltdown. Not that I blame him - we put him through a lot this week. I'm nearing meltdown myself, but I'm happy about the house. Mostly. As we sign the paperwork, I start getting an uneasy feeling. Can't place what or why.
Thursday: EVERYTHING GOES TO HELL
On to today. We get email from our realtor saying the offer was declined. They gave the excuse that our credit score wasn't high enough, but I'm honestly getting the feeling that they don't want to fix the things we asked for and so are citing any reason they can to say no. I'm trying to pack for my flight home and am panicking. There's the too-small place in Fox Chapel, but there are all sorts of issues there that we haven't had a chance to investigate, and now that two of the three schools we were looking at are ruled out that's not looking great either, and I'm about to go home and what the hell are we going to do?!?
It's 11:30. Our appointment to see the last school is at 1pm, after which we'll go pick up Andrei downtown and I'll go to the airport. We haven't had lunch. I pack the car with my stuff, letting the dog out to pee while I do so. As I finish packing, I look around for the dog - who has vanished. Cue more panic. My mom, Aiden, and I are all roaming the property, calling for the dog. At 12:30, I finally text Andrei to call J & R, absolutely terrified that I've lost their dog. My mom volunteers to stay behind while Aiden and I go to the school. As I'm getting into the car, the dog lopes up, grinning.
No, really, I'm happy to see him. But OH MY GOD none of us needed that scare.
We go to the third school. It's okay. But - you'll never guess! - they don't have any openings either. And no summer program anyway. It's obvious at this point that the school Aiden's in now is one in a million. It's looking increasingly likely that I will have to be a full-time mom after we move for at least a few months, which I don't know if I'm physically or mentally capable of doing.
We get downtown, with only one or two wrong turns (a record!), meet Andrei, and drive to the airport while discussing plans C through L. Everything from taking the small house in Fox Chapel to looking in other areas (we had been sticking to the North Hills because of the Montessori schools and in hopes of being close to J&R) to just getting a month-to-month apartment and storing stuff until we can find an unhurried solution.
Pitt airport and flight go smoothly. They didn't take my cane away in the plane this time - so much for that bit of security theater. I get my bag, go to the parking shuttles, and -
there's a little white courtesy telephone to call the shuttle. And it's also now apparent that there are four different shuttles and my ticket doesn't match any of them. I pick up the phone, wait until I think I can hear some whisper of sound that doesn't sound mechanical, and say "I'm hard of hearing. I can't hear you at all. I have a blue parking ticket that doesn't match any of the lot names posted here. I'm going to hang up now and hope a bus shows up." Well, kind of like that but with a lot more confusion and frustration.
With the kind help of another bus' driver, I do eventually get my shuttle, get to the car, and get home, to find that our wonderful house-sitter vaccuumed and cleaned (?!) while we were gone. And tonight I will get as much sleep as I want. I will get up in a leisurely fashion without being jumped on by a three-year-old. I will take a hot shower. I will repack my bags for the weekend, go to PT, and then take a road trip to Indianapolis with dear friends. Andrei and Aiden get two and a half more days to try to find something in PIT, and then come back here on Sunday.
So. One house-hunting trip. Four days. No house found. No school found. We have to be there permanently in less than 25 days.
P.S: I do not mean by this Epic Kvetch to diminish the contributions of many people who have helped us out this trip. It was wonderful staying with J&R&L and I just hope they forgive me someday for almost losing their beloved dog. I would have had at least three nervous breakdowns if my mom hadn't been there to support me. Friends have suggested neighborhoods and recommended schools, strangers have been friendly and given directions, and I appreciate all of that. But right here and now I can't help feeling like I've wasted a week that I don't have.