Friday, November 30, 2007

nasty november

Today -
OK - here's a huge post of stuff that's happened since October 21st to today and the reason it's huge, is it's actually lots of posts that never got posted since we didn't have Internet until very recently. Pheew.
So here's our nasty November and I am throwing it at you all-in-one.

Oh, and Emma is four months old today. And, miraculously and thankfully I'm still able to breastfeed her! Vive mother nature!

Thursday, November 29th - the nap I almost had
For the first time since we were in Belgrade, I actually thought I was going to be able to have a blooming nap. Emma was in bed, I had had lunch, the dog didn't need walking and no workmen were due. I had turned off all mobile phones and spoken to relocation asking them to send me and email about the matter at hand since we now have Internet (thanks to them!). Yay!
At 1h40 pm I lay down on the couch in front of the TV and closed my eyes.... just as I was nodding off, our new land line phone rings! Damn, I had forgotten about that phone. Relocation - and wouldn't you know it, they are calling to let me know they sent me an email. I just can't win.

Wednesday, November 28th - it's the small things that make me happy
I not only managed to get out this morning (thanks to the on-call elevator service whereby I bang on the lift door twice and they send it to pick us up) but also to go shopping with Emma. We got her a new S shaped pillow (my maternity one didn't survive the move and zillions of snow white balls of styrofoam where leaking from it!), a new hat (appropriate for the local climate that doesn't itch -as it's fleece inside and wool on the outside- can be tied beneath her chin and has flaps for her ears), a new pair of socks and a fleece "sleeping bag" to be left in the car seat so we can leave the warmer one in the pram for walks.

Tuesday November 27th - warmth, bad luck and everything else is relative
The good news is, they have started repairing the hole in the floor. We can now walk into Emma's room as opposed to jumping into it. But as Murphy's law would have it..... The pressure of the bloomin' boiler has fallen back down again to near zero. This means we might have another leak. I cannot believe this. Luxus Wohnung my foot! The poor family with 4 kids that actually own the biggest flat in the B building has no heating (and they bought the flat). Steph says he saw them through the window doing the dishes wearing their coats.
Thankfully, they have now
been moved into another flat since all of the plumbing and electrics are going to be redone in their apartment. They are stripping the floor boards, and tearing down the walls and concrete. Unglaublich!

Monday, November 26th - looking better but let's not kid ourselves here...

Yay! Cause for celebration, Emma and I went out to meet hubs for lunch! We went to Kids Talk Café, a place made for parents and kids where you can eat, breast feed, play, park your pram, change your babe (lovely changing stations with nappies in all sizes and bum wipes galore). Life is looking better.

Oh, and another thing (just to show you that I have not become an utter cynic and that I am still quite an optimist): today all the workmen who came to do stuff in our flat knocked on the door. I was touched, and thought it was sensitive of them to have finally stopped ringing the doorbell so that Emma could get some sleep. (Ok so maybe my answering the door with a scary look on my face contributed to this, but hey, if it works...) Ha! Well, it turns out that the doorbell and inter-phone actually no longer work.

Friday, November 23rd - is the deadline necessarily the day things get done?

Yay! A technician came by – sent by relocation but from the Internet provider – and he actually got them to move their asses (pardon my French so we now have Internet and a landline! Turns out November 28th was the deadline, not the scheduled do-day - I guess the diff' isn't always understood.

Thursday, November 22nd - Internet, Balou and the bloody weather

I got my hopes up yesterday about Internet actually happening. Austria Telecom was here for the third time and there were 3 technicians in our flat past 6pm so it’s not like there wasn’t hope…. Unfortunately, no cigar. Again. Turns out it’s not the building’s fault this time – the provider says they are scheduled to do it on November 28th….Shit.

I am seriously resenting Balou at the moment. Poor thing, it’s not really his fault, just that it’s hopeless having to shower his paws, bum, belly and ears after every walk – due to the mud in front of the building and the melting snow. This entails, carrying him into the bath without getting caked in dirt myself, after having made him wait in front of the door so I can a) remove my mud-caked shoes and b) undress Emma and get her into bed or bouncer first. Thank heavens he obeys – as long as a well intentioned builder doesn’t walk in, in which case Balou follows.
Life was so much easier in a sunny, dry climate.... I miss Turkey.

I am sooo tired. “Nap when baby naps.” Yeah. I shower or talk to technicians/workmen/relocation or walk the dog or cook lunch or unpack more stuff when she sleeps. And just as I am done (or in need of collapsing), Emma wakes and needs feeding.

Wednesday, November 21st - rant, rant, rant and my depressing life / the expert visits our flat and the parqueter who never came

Hubs off to Stockholm again today. Not his favorite destination. Means we’re on our own again.

Horribly interrupted night again. Don’t know why Emma is waking me so often after having been on Baby whisperer’s wonder routine… Am really starting to feel the lack of sleep. Maybe she’s teething? Oh, no, wait, silly me - it's the drilling.

The morning starts with me waking at 6, 6h30, 7h, 7h20, 7h40, 8h00 and finally getting out of bed at 8h30 – my once again short hair all over the place – to the perspective of Rodica (the cleaning lady) and the Building Expert (meant to evaluate exactly how bad our situation is) both means to be arriving at 9h00.

Hubs has walked Balou and is all ready to go, so he makes me coffee… unfortunately it’s cold when it reaches my lips since my mobile rings and it’s B. from relocation: the parqueter will come to finally close the whole in the floor -please will I call her by 10 if he is not here. She also wants to let me know that she is optimistic about the phone line being set up in the building this week. If only….

I pull my jeans over my non-showered butt, (I showered yesterday) but don’t have time to remove my pajama top (pink with white polka dots) when Rodica arrives, shortly followed by Mrs T. from HR and the Expert (but by this time I am breast feeding in the living room).

Status according to the expert? “Frecheit” - which I understand is like “bezobrazlog” or “foutage de gueule” - a scandalous fucking joke basically.
It seems, this apartment should not be available for rent. In fact, in Vienna there is some kind of “permit” that allows the owner to rent out his/her flat which, he is pretty sure the owner does not yet have. No kidding. Why, WHY did the real estate agency not check this?!
Anyway, consensus is we should not pay (full) rent until things are up and running, and, unfortunately it looks like bad news, so we might consider moving, and in the meantime, at least until the workmen are out of the building, we should consider staying in a hotel as it’s not place for a baby. No kidding! But we’ve had our share of staying in hotels/with family/ anywhere but in our own home, this year thank you very much.

They all leave, and I prop Emma in her bouncing chair on top of our bed as I hop into the shower (yay!) before the parqueter arrives. ( I can actually see her from the shower when she’s on the bed which is pretty good since I constantly think I can hear her crying….)

The parqueter does not arrive. I call B. She calls me back; he will come this afternoon. But of course. I was not planning on leaving the flat anyway. I am growing roots here. Ugh.
At around three pm, one of the coordinators rings the doorbell as I am wiping poop off Emma’s rosy bum cheeks. I open the door and run back to the changing station while asking him to follow me.

Coordinator: “the man for the floor just called me. He was in a car crash for two hours”

Me, hopeful: “ you mean he is in a traffic jam?”

Coordinator: “no, he is in the hospital. He had an accident”

(Holding up Emma, - now in clean nappy I cannot help thinking that this has to be black magic. This apartment has got serious bad vibes! Bewitched!)

Coordinator: He has someone else (who) can come, I said “please come tomorrow or Friday, I will tell you tomorrow. Lovely baby". He bows in apology and says thank-you and backs out of the flat. Why is he thanking me? For not crying/ yelling/ throwing a dirty nappy at him?! Poor man, I would not like to be in his loafers. Still. This cannot be happening. I call B. from relocation and tell her that the malediction goes on.

I just want to leave. Run away. Ugh.

I have not been out except to walk Balou around the block and quickly to the local SPAR (supermarket) since Sunday.

I dig into ice-cream every evening. Hubs is back on beer.

Did I mention we must undergo a health check & eye check before we can convert our Swiss driver's license to an Austrian one? Forget global, where is Europe?
My life is so depressing at the moment.

November, Tuesday 20th: it's the dog's fault I can't leave

Emma and I are going to the pediatrician’s today to meet him in healthy circumstances and pick up our “Mutter-baby pass” (a kind of baby book which tracks vaccinations, weight, height and any other useful baby development stuff. This document is needed for various administrative things here in Vienna, among which the Mutter’s salary of 14,90 Euros per day to take care of your “kind” if you are not working for a period of up to two years.)


The lift is still not working. And now when they switch it back on it only goes up to the floor beneath us. I asked the workmen if they could “pick me up” on the floor beneath us at 14h30 with the pram etc. so we could get to the Pediatrician’s in time.

I walked Balou, washed his paws, changed Emma and carried the pram down the stairs, then her, and waited for the lift to pick us up. Workmen say they’ll do their best to make it work for when we get back.

Pediatrician didn’t have any “Mutter-baby pass” – the document we have from Geneva is the same he says, but he can give us one next time.

Emma is 62cm long and over 7kg.

The receptionist of the surgeons office – not the pediatrician’s but another doctor who works next door and has the same name and where I went in first since he is also at number 45 – was smoking! Seriously!!!

Hubs and I discuss Em' and me going back to Geneva until this place is livable (working lift, no more holes in the floor, heating that works, etc.) He's traveling anyway and I am losing it here. Balou makes things a bit more complicated since he doesn’t fly easily (me neither with him & Emma! Although I’ve never done it on my own).

One small hiccup - our pad in France (near by Geneva) doesn't have a couch nor chairs. Thank heavens we set up beds and a fridge and the heating, phone, Internet and water are all running. Beats here.... but not exactly how we had planned things....

Hubs curses Balou stating that our life would be much easier without him, (true) that we should walk him by the highway (Balou doesn’t really see the danger in cars), that it’s like having two kids already, and thank heavens we didn’t have twins. Balou has become the “souffre douleur” and is has become the official scapegoat.

November 19th - a bad hair day, but it'll grow...
I got my shoulder length post preggie flimsy hair cut short today. I found a hairdresser that isn’t below ground level, has windows and went there early in the morning so that the air woulnd’t yet be full of hairspray in an attempt to preserve Emma’s lungs.

I took a three year old picture of myself with short hair to the hairdresser’s and asked her if she could do this. Of course. I left looking like Maria, our once cleaning lady when we were in Vandoeuvres, Geneva. Not amused. Tried very hard to convince myself it was not a time for vanity, and that the important thing was that my I could now wash my hair every second day, let it dry in 5 minutes – no blow drying required. Practical.

While I was muttering my way into the supermarket, a man from Austria Telecom calls me and says he is there to install the line. – I rush back home to find he is gone. The elevator workmen say he’s around & will be back. Telecom man returns and is appalled at the work so far in the building. I call Beate from relocation and put her on with the Telecom man. No cigar. Still no way they can connect us.

November 17th
We decided that there would be no unpacking, tidying, traveling, Ikea-ing this week-end.

Instead, a walk and shop to get our growing Giant Emma some new clothes that she will not grow out of in a week! As we were getting ready to leave the flat I found Emma’s pram – which I parked on the landing since the wheels were muddy – full of muddy crumbs off workmen shoes and God knows where else.

In town we stumbled upon a kids café – called Kids Talk I think – a place dedicated to new parents and kids, complete with an indoor playground on the other a restaurant-café entirely non-smoking and equipped with colorful high-chairs, quick easy eating and lots of breast-feeding, yelling, kicking and an impressive number of prams parked in the front. Inspiring. A total nightmare for any non-parent, but so practical for us.

November 18th
We drove out to the Wiener Wald - for a walk in the snow with Balou and Emma & had hot chocolate and lunch at the Cobenzl Café – where they have Wireless Internet. Loads of kids on sleighs and parents with woolen & colorful hats.
Café Cobenzl – named after the Graff whose property it is located on – it has a gorgeous view of Vienna, the waiter is from Izmir – can you believe it?! – and they brought Balou some ham on a plate asking if he was not a vegetarian – apparently every dog is offered ham in their cafés! We had a delicious goulash and wonderful hot chocolate. Unfortunately as we left the place we could not help noticing that our coats and hair stank of smoke and over-fried oil. After airing out coats for two days, had to wash everything to get rid of the smell. Too bad since the café is nice, the location good and the staff friendly. The week-end has cheered me up a bit. Let’s hope next week will be better and more successful than last-
November 16th
Just as I was at the end of my rope Sis and Dad called, or rather Skyped me on my Viennese mobile. Bad timing for them, but it gave me the opportunity to off load all of my anger and vent my utter resentment at the bad luck we are having at the moment. So good to talk to someone other than:

Three-month-old Emma

Balou the dog – although my current lack of patience means I’m not sure this would qualify as talking

Beate from the relocation agency – usually bad news

The workmen – also pretty much always bad news as you’ve gathered by now

Hubs – as fed up as me most of the time

Anyway, thanks guys for the talk – it meant that hubs and I probably had a much more relaxed conversation than would otherwise been the case – and the invitations to have us stay.

Thursday, November 15th

It’s going to snow all week-end. We don’t have winter tires. Relocation tells me no insurance will cover me if I drive with summer tires and that Vienna will be crazy in the snow.

Must get some food in today.

Where can we order winter tires? A few phone calls, (size of tires, brand, tires and wheels?) to be told it will take 5 weeks! (!!!! Might as well tell me to wait for freaking spring!) After requesting we call around to other places, finally I’m told that I can get some as of Monday. Phew! Basically, I need for the snow to melt, before I can get drive to the garage to get them. If the lift works. If the car starts.
If I am still sane by then.

November 14th

How can anyone sleep with the drilling going on all day?!
Emma is really a star, but seriously! There's no way she can sleep with the walls shaking. I would take her out for a walk, but the damn lift has been turned off since all the electrics need to be fitted into the damn shaft. Today the drilled on our floor right through the walls and into our dressing. A cloud of dust set on the floor after having covered all our clothes. Lovely. This is getting better by the minute.
The lift is going to be "out of order" until the end of the month. Only they will leave it on at night. So I can go to the park with the pram at 3am like one does, right?

Tuesday, November 13th

Telecom guy due today.
(…) Telecom man says he can’t “open” our line since the plug in our wall is purely decorative and the whole building needs to be connected first !!!!!!! He requires the building company to order the lines and “boxes” to connect the building, then they can “open” our line. At the moment this are is considered a construction site -my feelings entirely….

Monday, November 12th

I wasn’t wrong – the Telecom man was due Saturday, and apparently someone did come on Saturday, but couldn’t find the entrance. I can’t say I believe this 100% but maybe I am becoming a cynic.
Steph was off traveling again this morning but thankfully took the pram down to the car before he left as the blooming lift is not working and we live on the top floor! Can just picture myself trying to carry the wheels, then the actual pram, then Emma downstairs.

Saturday, November 10th

A Telecom techie due today between 9 and 11am to “open” the Austria telecom line so that our provider can then rent it to us. Did he show up???? Maybe I got it wrong and they are coming on Monday?

November 9th

Today I meet a potential babysitter. She’s in her 40s & used to be a nurse. Not that I can quite see myself leaving Emma with a complete stranger quite yet for more than 15 minutes or so, but we might need to leave her with someone soon, and with no family/friends in Vienna, I wanted to start looking without the pressure of needing one right away.
Update on the babysitter: I would definitely feel more comfy leaving her at a “kindergarten” with other kids and a couple of trained people, than alone at home with someone we don’t know. How old do you have to be to go to a kindergarten here I wonder?

Thursday, November 8th

Workmen in and out all day every day. Impossible to plan or get out or feed E. and nap at regular times. The sound of the doorbell is driving me mad. DING-DONG. Maybe I can get one of the electricians to disable it?
Gaping hole in front of Emma’s room that I need to jump over when I feed her in the middle of the night. Does insurance cover us for living on a freaking construction site!????

Tuesday, November 6th:

We should consider ourselves lucky to have any heating it seems. I can’t believe this is happening. In Vienna. In a new “luxus wohnung”. Ha! I am so eating humble pie. Septic tanks in Turkey at least worked!

Monday, November 5th:

Oh. Oh. The pipes are leaking somewhere under the floor boards. They are knocking down bits of wall and parquet to try and find the leak which is causing the pressure to fall and the heating to falter. Worst of all, this is not the only flat where this is happening. Ugh.

EVERY SINGLE FLAT seems to be having a problem with the pipes/heating.

November 4th:

Back in Vienna to practically no heating. Ok. I am exaggerating. We put the thermostat down before leaving and now it won’t go up again. The pressure on the boiler is down to 0 when it should not go below 1,5 according to the plumber. I have a bad feeling about this.

November is our least favorite month of the year. Gray, cold and neither here nor there. Let’s hope it goes quickly.

October 28th:

Ok, so the drive down was not the most fun experience. We got stuck as we were entering BG and it took us over an hour to make one kilometer. Luckily K was waiting for us at a petrol station or we wouldn’t have found our way to Dad’s. Despite our experience of driving in Turkey for over a year, Hubs said he was never as scared as on the last bit of semi-highway – just after entering Serbia, the shittiest part but where we had to pay a toll – where the dark, and fog limited visibility, making the narrow and badly marked roads lethal - not to mention the crazy overtaking.

Still, the drive there meant we had time to catch up and really talk about other stuff than moving, unpacking, feeding, nappies, shopping, parenting, etc. Emma was a star and was fed at petrol stations while Balou was walked briefly and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the state of the public toilets along the way, even in Serbia (much cleaner than in Italy!)

Saturday, October 27th

Off to Belgrade for a week.
Good bye boxes, Good bye unfinished flat. Good bye Vienna. Hello Daddy, Hello Sarma, Slava, burek, and all yummy food but no-cooking! I am so looking forward to a rest and seeing Bolecanci, Daddy and Nathalie.

October 26th

It's been a tough week and the flat still looks half moved in. Unpacking with a babe in the house, while feeding every three hours is just
slow... And to be honest, I have had to put a check on my standards and prioritize. A moderate mess and a few unpacked boxes in the guest room are really not important. At least we can all get to our beds, and Emma's room is practically done.

October 21st

Emma and I leave Geneva and join hubs, Balou and all our furniture in Vienna.
One week to make it livable and then we're off to Belgrade for a break and Slava.


Kim said...

This is AWFUL. I hope you're enjoying your retreat to France while everything gets sorted with your flat in Vienna. I spent 3 of the best years of my life in Vienna (in my mid-20's) and miss it so much. I really hope that once you settle in, you can enjoy being there. It really is a magical place.

Life as an expat is always exciting, huh???

A fellow mom... and former expat...

Sandra said...

Hi Kim,
thanks for the empathy. It's encouraging to hear you spent some of the best times in your life there. I DO hope that we'll be discovering more of Vienna in February and March. With the weather improving and apparently most of the work finished in the flat I 'm hoping to get out more and meet some people too... ,-)

Feel free to tell me more about the magical aspects of Vienna!!!