Friday, April 29, 2011

Super Powers

The other night, I was at a meeting.  The speaker started out by suggested that we could all use a Super Power. She related to us the idea that if she just had super speed, she would be a much better mother.  Then, she presented the thought that the scriptures give us power--even a super power.  She went on about the value of the scriptures, but all I heard was the Charlie Brown adult's wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.


I couldn't get past the Super Power thing.


Now, I've played that game in the car on our long road trips before:  If you could choose one Super Power, what would it be?  I usually pick flying because, well, that would be cool.  And I don't think you can count my massive weight fluctuations during and after pregnancy or my fabulously productive mammary glands as super powers.  When you put the whole Mom spin on super powers, it gains new momentum.

What a mom could do if she had extra arms pop out as needed.  Or really stretchy arms to pin down one child who is drawing all over herself with Sharpie while still helping another blow her nose.  I know I could certainly use those famous eyes in the back of my head.  I would like powers of hypnosis at bedtime or chore time.  There are many days when I would be delighted if my children responded with a wooden, "Yes, mother.  I will obey you."  I really want Mary Poppin's snap that gets the house clean--and in such a fun way! Or Nanny McPhee's Cane could certainly come in handy.

I apologize for not paying attention to your presentation, Madam Speaker Lady, but, I mean, really.  When one's mind is presented with such possibilities, it is quite impossible to listen to another word spoken.

What super power would you like?

Extreme Online Shopping

Online shopping is super handy for order specific items like replacement parts that are impossible to find in your local shop.  It's also handy for re-ordering items you know you love.  There is no cheaper way for filling your bookcase.  It's great for finding those nostalgic or hard-to-find items located in Ebay Land.  You start to get close to the dangerous line when you order clothes and shoes, but the danger is somewhat lessened by the fact that the items are usually returnable; you cross the line when you buy non-returnable items. 

We are buying a house online.

Totally.

Here is our process:  

First, find a property online that is the right price, has enough bedrooms (well, there is no such thing as enough bedrooms for a family of our size in our price range, but even we have limits), has a yard and is not falling down.

Second, look at the house and neighborhood on Google Earth.  Try to get a basic feel for the lay of the land and the neighbors.

Third, check the sex offender registry.  There is a sex offender on every street in America, but try to at least not land in a part of the map that is wallpapered with red flags.

Fourth, ask the realtor to find out answers to questions raised by the one sentence description.  You would think that if you only had one sentence to sell a house, you would give good information.  Not so.  About 97% of realtors need to be versed in the value of selling to the more and more buyers who are searching online.

Fifth, have your Mom and Sister go to the narrowed-down properties and take a zillion pictures.  Have your mother boldly go and ask the neighbors about the neighborhood.  (Okay, I didn't ask her to do that, she is just that woman . . . thank goodness.)  Have them listen for the sounds of the freeway and the railroad.  Give them the charge to count neighbors sitting on a couch on the front porch.  Rocking chairs are okay, couches make me nervous.  Overall, get a sense of the location and a feel for the house.  It took them a little while to get over the fact that all of these places are trashed.  All are foreclosures and the previous owners, in some cases, were MAD so they destroyed some things.  In most cases, the properties are neglected and overgrown.  They are having to learn to see these places the way I see them in my mind's eye:  In the after pictures.

And then promise all of your assets through a series of emails, signings and scannings.  After you close, then you get to see the house.  Yes, we will get an inspection and make sure the place is eligible for insurance.

It's kind of like arranged marriages because once you've picked your partner, you just have to figure out how to love them!

I'll keep you updated on this crazy shopping trip.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Frustration

I know I probably shouldn't complain because our situation is not as bad a many homeowners right now.  But, I'm going to lay out my frustrations with trying to find a house.

First, we CANNOT get a home loan--even a small, 20K loan.  Even though we could put as much as 80% down on a house and keep enough in savings to more than pay the monthly payments, the mortgage people have to count our student loans against us.  With no income, our debt to income ratio is impossible to overcome.  At first, my husband was ticked.  We have pretty near perfect credit, are not looking to be extravagant, have chosen a career that will pay off these six years of school, and are super nice.  Yet, it's not just a lender who is willing to look outside the box, it's that the lenders have their hands tied by regulations.  The difference between what we can buy with cash and what we could buy with an extra 20-30 thousand dollars is at least one more bedroom and one more bathroom.  It's a big deal for this growing family.

I, on the other hand, was a bit relieved.  If I go into a restaurant and the host hands me a four page menu, I get overwhelmed and don't know what to choose.  If someone tells me I have to choose chicken, then at least I only have to narrow down this one column.  Now that I know our absolute limit, I can do the searching with a little more direction.

Here is where the next frustration rears it's ugly head.  Our selection is either cute two bedroom, one bathroom cottages (without a basement to finish like our current home offered), or a double wide.  Our family is getting too big (in numbers and the size of the people) to squash into these less-than-700-square-foot spaces.  All of the legit options for us are foreclosures . . . in various states of disrepair.  Here are pictures from a few:






I know, I know.  You are all jealous of the mega quality and personality these homes offer.  I had questions about one that was particularly promising, so I sent the realtor an email.  This was the response.

Hi Emily,
The house unfortunately has been the victim of a century of deferred maintenance. The roof leaks, the exterior walls are bowing out, the floor joists in the kitchen are breaking, the foundation under the kitchen is either settling or crumbling but that is what is leading to the broken floor joists. There is serious water damage around all of the windows. The house is not connected to the sewer and yes there is a sewer assessment for about $5,000. The driveway is indeed part of the property. The breaker box has been upgraded but the wiring in the house is the original wiring. I have had a lot of contractors look at it and they all say the same thing that it would be cheaper to tear it down and build a new one then it would be to rehab this one. I hope that answers all of your questions. If you would like to see it or any other property please let me know.
Have a great day,
Patti

Those are about all the houses in the area.  If my husband is willing to commute over one to two mountain passes, over an hour one way, then lots of things open up for us.  ***sigh***

It will all work out, I know . . . somehow . . . right?  After all, our realtor did send me this new listing today:


The Addams Family would be ALL over this one!

Mixing Things Up


My life has only gotten more complicated since I began this blog nearly three years ago.  But the last few months have been really stressful/busy with the sale of one home and the trying to find another, and the beginning of a pregnancy and the end of a season of our lives.  I didn't want to share it with you because I thought it sounded boring.  For the past couple of weeks, I have been re-thinking my blogging; why, when and how I blog are all questions I needed to re-evaluate.  Here is what I decided:
  • I'm not going to quit because it is good therapy for me and it's nice to reach out to others all across the globe who are in a similar battle.  I have missed you and want to resume my blogging regularity, but I will change a few things.
  • I am a religious girl.  I have tried not to blog about too much in the way of religious things.  I know we all have different beliefs, I don't want to sound preachy and sacred things are too close to me to risk the chance of being mocked.  However, it is too much a part of me to not write about it anymore.  I'm pretty sure I can write about epiphanies I've had or things I've noticed or just things that happen at church without sounding like I'm trying to shove anything down your throat. 
  • I am expecting our sixth baby.  (Crazy Tom called the other day and asked if I was "preggers" again.  Preggers and prego are both terms I hate when describing my being in the family way.  I think it's crass and irritating and there are much more beautiful ways to put it.  So Crazy Tom's introduction rubbed me the wrong way from the beginning.  When I confirmed the fact that a new baby was to join our family, he just hmmmed.  I reminded him, "You are supposed to say, 'Congratulations,' Tom."  He said, "Well, I would congratulate you, but I am a zero populationist."  Good grief.  His mother would be horrified at his lack of tact and decorum.  I wasn't too phased by the old man, though.  I've been his neighbor for six years now and am familiar with his way of communicating.  I just shot back, "Well, the way I see it, we need to raise up a new tax base to help with all the bills you are racking up down at the Veteran's Administration."  No, I do not begrudge any money spent on our Vets, it's just that none of his health problems are a result of his service.  They are all due to his poor lifestyle . . . and he knows it.  He changed the subject.)  Anyway, yes.  There is a baby coming.  I get sick of hearing about other people's pregnancies; their constantly changing cravings; their every bump and tick and ache and sore; and mostly their whining.  I have wanted to write some thoughts about the pregnancy, but didn't want to sound like that.  But, I'm not going to sensor myself in that way anymore.  I love being with child.  It is a beautiful thing and I am blessed to be participating in creation once again.  If I want to write about it, I will.
  • My camera is broken again.  I think my five  year old jumped off of the bunk bed onto it while the zoom lens was open.  She won't admit to it, but that is the scenario that I've been able to reconstruct based on bits of evidence.  I hesitate to write blog posts without a picture because I like to look at pictures when I read other people's blog posts.  But, if I don't have a picture, I don't want that to make me avoid writing the story.  There might be a few picture-less posts in the near future.  Please forgive me.
  • Selling and buying a house is full of good news, bad news and waiting.  I didn't think you wanted to go on the journey with me, but I'm going to start sharing it.  You don't have to be interested, but for as many people out there who are on the same journey, it might be nice to commiserate together.
I can't remember some of my other points, but you should know that it is 3:47 a.m. and my mind isn't completely working.  I got up to use the bathroom at 2:05 and discovered that the child who was supposed to load the dinner dishes and start the dishwasher, didn't.  We only have seven plates and seven bowls and if the dishwasher isn't run daily, we don't have dishes the next day.  So, I loaded and started the dishwasher which meant I had to turn on the light which meant I saw the cereal which meant I was suddenly famished.  Look, I'm nearly halfway through my pregnancy and I still have forty pounds to gain so I gotta get on it!  I poured myself the cereal and sat down at the computer to pass the time.
And so, my friends, I am back and vow to be there when you check your blogs.  It may not be what you want to read, but, then, it just might.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Yup, Still Two

In her sister dress (on backwards) "helping" unload the dishwasher.

This little two-year old is in destruction mode lately.  She is amazingly fast at undoing everything the rest of us have done.  Yes, it takes all six of us to keep up with her!

Tonight, she was singing this happy little song so I went to investigate.  Sure enough, she was up to her old antics.  She had pulled out the DVD's (which she had had to climb to get to) and was skating around on them with her hands and feet.  What was she singing?

"I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die.  I so naughty, I so naughty.  I'm gonna die."

Well, what ARE you supposed to do with that?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

SOLD

I can't tell you how relieved I am to have written that single word.  After ten weeks of cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, we signed an honest to goodness offer on our house yesterday.  The young couple buying it "loves" the house and "is so excited."


I am thrilled to hand over this house on which I have worked so hard to someone using those adjectives.



They will be moving in while the tulips flank the front steps and the cool nights call for a backyard fire.


I really hope they do love it.

The timing is perfect.  Heavenly Father is always aware of us and we have felt peace (even through the frustrations of showings) that it would work out the way it should.  Though, as much as I've been looking forward to this day, it hasn't been everything I'd hoped.  Life rarely slows down and with the sale of a home comes the need for another.  Geesh!

And so, we need to find some place to live . . . some place that costs less than 75K . . . a place that will hold eight people . . . that is near my husband's work . . . and that is not a manufactured home.  That is a tricky task.  I'm thinking something like this:


or this:


would be fine.  I mean, there's got to be something like these, in a field of naturalized daffodils or a mature English Garden, for a pittance, right?

I'm entertaining these again:

That's right.  Katrina Cottages.  It might be cheaper for us to build a tiny house with our specifics (on a basement and with one large room for all the children--nursery style) than to buy a fixer.  I love the idea of putting everything in storage for a year and living super simply.  It sounds so not-cluttery, doesn't it?  Anyway, I'll keep you informed.  

For today, however, I am NOT cleaning (well, I have to clean some).  No one made their beds today and I don't care!  The two year old spilled beans (literally) all over the floor and though I'll probably sweep them, I'll sweep them because I want to and not because someone is coming over.  Hooray!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Justice

And then there was the headline that read:

Yakima Burns Sex Offenders at Local Pools

Hum, I thought.  I didn't know we were still burning people.  That's kind of barbaric, but then, if these sex offenders were pedophiles, then I'm jiggy w' dat.  (See how Ebonics just works when this thirty-something white girl from the mountain west uses it?)

Before sharing the article with my husband, I read the headline again:

Yakima Bans Sex Offenders at Local Pools

Still good, I suppose, but not nearly as effective.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sleeping Arrangements

They are sleeping outside again.  While it is April and the world around us seems to think it is spring, the weather refuses to agree.  Yesterday it snowed, for instance, and our heat bill has hardly gone down.  But the children are die hards.  Apparently, their actions are encouraging spring to come--like the first robins.

They have built themselves this crazy fort out of lawn chairs, blankets and clothespins.  I can't take a picture because it is dark, but it looks something like the shelter from their late October slumber party, though with a few more blankets.


They've stocked their shelter with good sleeping bags and more blankets.  They are all wearing footie pajamas (or thick socks for the children who are "too old" for footie pajamas).

I do not remember being this gung-ho.  Yes, we slept outside a lot, but this early . . . and that late . . . in the season?  The forecast is for temperatures barely above freezing.  But, they've survived worse--as have I.  Just one more adventure to recount when their children are begging for stories about when they were young.

"You're never going to believe what Grandma let us do!"

As long as they promise to clean it all up in the morning.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Itching

It is spring (ish) around here.  The lawns are beginning to show green, the children will play outside without a jacket "because it's sunny," though not because it's warm enough, and I actually gave in and bought popsicles.  (Last week, I was reaching to buy hot chocolate and my son pleaded for the kind with marshmallows.  I don't usually buy that kind because I don't think it tastes as good, but I relented.  "YES!  I love it when you're pregnant!" he cheered.  I'm not really sure of all the things that little line could mean, but I think it means I give in more easily.)

With spring and with my no-more-projects-on-the-house-allowed restrictions (except installing the doggone brand new hot  water tank), I am feeling restless.  Now is the time to paint, start plants, plan the summer projects and freshen up the place.  Instead of getting excited about the possibilities of a new blue or gray color palette, adding rosy floral throw pillows (I am not buying one more thing that I'll just have to move), or scratching out flower bed arrangements on graph paper, I am still cleaning the same, old colors.


To make matters worse, Poppies at Play is sponsoring a Blogger's Parade of Homes.  While all the freaking beautiful white kitchens and couch slipcovers (What a load of crock: easy to clean.  If you have ever actually USED a slipcover, you know they are not easy to take off, stain treat, wash, wash again--this time with bleach, dry and then put back on.) are not even tempting to this mother of five impractical for me, a lot of the other design ideas are exciting and fresh.  I live in the mountainous west, so I won't be going with the ubber popular beach designs, but I do like the blues and grays that we are seeing a lot of right now.

I know I have enough on my plate as it is, but my projects actually help me stay sane.  All these traditional homemaking activities are not nearly as fulfilling as seeing a room take shape or watching as my elbow grease and a few dollars changes the entire feel of a space.

Oh, well.  My husband is probably thrilled with the always clean laundry, the swept floors and coming home to find dinner on the table instead of sawdust with vagabond children scattered about.  I'll save up all of my ideas and have a grand time when I can finally begin work on the next place!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hurdles


When I was a freshman in high school, I began running the 300 meter hurdles.  It is arguably one of the hardest races in track.  Because it is 3/4 of the way around the track, it is a full sprint race, but with the addition of the hurdles to leap every few meters.  Sprinting that far is hard--even when you are fourteen and fit as a fiddle.

After training for only a few weeks, I went to my first meet.  I was randomly placed in the outside lane.  I took off full speed and quickly gained the lead.  I kept the lead and extended it as I rounded the corner and came down that last 100 meter stretch, but there was a big problem brewing; I was exhausted.  I kept running, somehow managing to stay ahead, but didn't know how I was going to finish.  I came to the last hurdle, merely steps to the finish line, and I stopped.  Yes, I stopped . . . in the middle of my lane . . . in the middle of a race . . . at an actual meet.  I looked at that hurdle and thought, There is no way.

So, I went around it.

When I crossed the finish line still somewhere in the top three, my coach was pulling his hair out of his head.  "What?"  I asked.

"You just walked around the hurdle!  You're disqualified from the race!"

I couldn't believe it.  I had run my heart out.  My lungs were still screaming at me and my limbs quaked, but my coach was right.  I had left my lane, I didn't jump the hurdle, and I disqualified myself.  It wasn't illegal to kick the thing down and walk over it.  It wasn't even illegal to crawl over the dumb thing.  I could have chosen either of those two easier options to make myself get over that hurdle, but I didn't.  I gave up at the last moment.

My house has been on the market for over two months now.  We have had the most showings on any house in our town in our price range.  That means I am constantly readying my house for show.  There were a few disheartening set-backs last week that made me want to quit.  Just pull the house off the market and say, "Nevermind, family, you go ahead and move.  I'll stay with my house!"  Of course, that isn't a viable option, but here I am, staring at the last hurdle and I really want to go around it.

Our choice for my husband to go to college has proven to be an exciting, exhausting race.  Sometimes I have felt like I am way out in front and other times I can't even see the pack.  I (we) have worked hard and made it through even when I sometimes thought we couldn't.  There is no way I'm giving up now.

But, instead of a perfectly formed jump, I may just be crawling over this last hurdle.