Friday, July 29, 2011

In about ten years, you might see some of this at our house.

You wouldn't know it by looking at my house, but I've put a lot of thought into the interior design of it.

The key word there is THOUGHT. I have put a lot of time in on Personal Internet Research and THOUGHT. I have not purchased or created or painted a DAMN THING.

Partially because I'm a money miser and partially because I don't quite trust myself. I have designed no fewer than four living rooms on Polyvore, and at least that many playrooms, and let's not even talk about what I'm threatening to do to my kitchen cabinets.

I'm terrified to buy furniture that I might later hate. I am not the kind of person who loves painting walls and wants to re-do hers every year. What I do, I am stuck with. It's kind of a big deal, seeing as we'll spend more than $32 on it and we'll have to look at it every day for the rest of my lucid life. Probably. Yes, $32 is my threshold amount for "can I buy it without totally budgeting and dithering about it?" If I need something and it's under $32, I only dither for about a week. Over $32 and we've got IBS on our hands. There is nothing magic about the number 32. I don't usually like to spend $32. But that seems to be the tipping point between rational thinking, like "Of course I have to have diapers - duh" and "Hmm. This bulk deal of diapers is a great deal, but IT COSTS 35 DOLLARS. DO I WANT TO PART WITH 35 DOLLARS RIGHT THIS MINUTE?" Because, what if I need that 35 dollars later? What if that 35 dollars is the difference between repairing our air conditioning and not? How many times this month did I already spend 33 dollars?

So, furniture et al costs more than 32 dollars. Considerably more. And that means I will alternately be constipated and have violent diarrhea until we finally just make a decision already and spend the stupid dollars.

But give me a minute, please, because my bowels just recovered from the purchase of the house.

But, I will share with you a few items I've been toying with, just so you can tell me later that you knew all along I'd hate that yellow fabric, but you didn't have the heart to break it to me at the time. DON'T LET ME SPEND $35 on fabric I will later hate!

I have picked these for pillows and curtains in the play room, and don't ask me what will be what because I don't know. I'v drawn 90 sketches and hate it all.

There will be a futon in that room, and it has a black cover. And there is a half bath off that room with a canary yellow countertop, and that I just cannot fight. So we work with what we have. Also, I have a turquoise locker and a yellow "A/V" cart for moving the old tv/dvd player in and out of there, so we're trying to make all that work together, and then some. Get it?

IF YOU HATE IT, DON'T TELL ME. Wait, do tell me. NO DON'T. I can't start over! I just can't!

Not only does it take me ten times longer to purchase things just because I hate to spend money in general, but I also am ALWAYS. SURE. I can get a better deal. So I find something I like or even love, and then I spend the time normal people would spend watering plants and vacuuming carpets and talking to loved ones scouring the internet for a cheaper facsimile of that thing I love. And then I buy the knock off and I hate it.

For example, I love these drawer pulls for our kitchen, from Restoration Hardware,

but I probably will end up with these, from Home Depot,

which don't really accomplish what I want at all, but whatever, I'll save like $50. And I'll look at them for the next ten years and shake my head, because IT IS NOT REALLY WHAT I WANTED, DAMN THE FIFTY BUCKS.

Anyway, in good news, we got a new dishwasher yesterday. My first stainless steel appliance. Baby steps.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Next Chapter

We moved in on June 10 and 11. It too like seven minutes, because a team of amazing army ants arrived at our house and had all our worldly possessions in the van in under eight seconds. And then they unloaded it into the new house and then we polished off a keg.

Our friends, they are a marvel. We do not deserve them.

A couple of girls and I unpacked the kitchen and we plopped some furniture in the living room for a temporary sitting situation, and still it all sits. We still have a lot of boxes, and I haven't painted anything or ordered new furnishings or recovered chairs or done diddly squat, because we spend every waking moment cooking near and bathing in the pool. Come winter, we'll unpack and decorate.

It's been a wild transition. I know people move all the time. They buy and sell houses all the time. What's the big deal, then?

This is our home for the next big chunk of our life. It is where we will raise our son. It is where all the memories for a life-well-spent will be created. We managed to get it without breaking the bank, and even if, for some unimaginable reason, we come into more money someday, we don't really see ourselves moving. So, for us, it was a big deal.

We hope this home will hold the warmest of places in our son's heart as he goes out into the world. We hope one day when we are old and wheeling around the nursing home that we'll have glowing memories of pool parties and card games and delicious meals eaten in our kitchen. Of Superbowl watching and sleepovers and Sunday morning breakfasts.

We are so grateful to every single person who helped us along the way. We're grateful to our friends and our lovely neighbors who have been so warm and welcoming. We hope we can repay your kindness with hospitality for years to come.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

And so it is settled.

The road to making an offer had been rocky for a lot of reasons, like I thought the house was in a flood plain and jumped through a million hoops, calling engineers, insurance guys, bankers, and finally demanding that the seller get a flood elevation certificate. Which he was supposed to do, and we waited, on pins and needles. Deep inside I knew we'd probably buy the house regardless of the outcome, because it would still be a better house for less money than anything else we'd seen, but I wasn't really hip to paying an extra two grand a year in insurance premiums. Flood mapping, I learned, is voodoo, according to my map-knowing friends, and I knew the house was barely on the edge, if it was in at all. And the whole thing was stupid aggravating. I'm barely on the edge of sanity, here, people. Maybe you should take out extra insurance on ME.

Finally, I called my mortgage banker (HI DEBI!) and said GODDAMMIT, FIND OUT IF YOU'RE GOING TO REQUIRE THIS FLOOD INSURANCE, and she said "Hey! Looks like we don't!" and then I cried some more. And *that's* when we made the offer, shook the hands, and drank the margaritas.

From there it was a series of formalities. You know, like signing our lives away. But a lot of good things happened. Like we were able to use some profits from our old house and pay off a vehicle. And our insurance actually went DOWN, as did our security bill and our internet bill, don't ask me why. It's ALL VOODOO. But that's amazing, because of course our mortgage payment went up (but not a whole heckuvalot)and that pool? It costs a little money. But with the savings from the car and the other breaks, we're about breaking even.

How do you like that? We doubled our square footage, got ourselves a pool and a basement, and our monthly output? DARN NEAR THE SAME.

Butter my butt and call me a biscuit, I think this just might work.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hand shakes and high hopes

After I was revived, he wanted to look around. With no notice. Tell me. How many of you would be okay with showing your house RIGHT NOW.

But I had to be. I didn't want to do anything that might mean he'd lose interest. So, apologizing every step of the way for the toys and dog hair the blind old man was stumbling over, we looked around our house.

And then he left, and we waited.

We waited for almost a week, before he brought his son back over to look, and then a few more days before he appeared on our doorstep to negotiate. I lowballed him, made my husband mad, and had a signed contract that evening, finally. Possibly, that was the longest week of my life, waiting for him to decide. Longer, maybe than the week before Johnny was born. For real, people. I had to stay fairly liquified in order to not think obsessive thoughts every waking moment.

But we arrived at a price and I wrote the check for the earnest money and Joe The Buyer signed it because he's blind, and I called the title company and my realtor aunty and got some advice on how to proceed and on our way we were. Turns out, buying and selling houses for sale by owner? Not that hard. If you have a buyer, that is. A buyer that came to you unsolicited. And if you buy a house for sale by owner from a guy who happens to flip houses as a side gig, because he kinda knows a few folks and some house buying ropes. And if one of your BFF's is your mortgage banker and you know, you're half nuts. Like we are.

But seriously, doing both deals sans realtor? People we saved about fifteen large. Fifteen THOUSAND dollars. So what it cost in footwork on my part and a little bit of extra stress, uhm yeah. Made up for it in COLD HARD CASH.

So the minute - and I do mean MINUTE - I had a signed contract and earnest money from Joe, our buyer, I emailed and called and texted and vibed our seller to tell him we were ready to make and offer and TELL ME YOU DID NOT SELL THAT HOUSE YET.

And, the heavens opened, and he still had the house, and we signed a contract with him a couple of days later. Or, we agreed on a price, shook his hand, and wrote a check for a meager amount of earnest money. Because that's how these deals apparently work.

And then we drove around the new neighborhood, planning Johnny's entire future and ours, and then we had margaritas. I might have cried a little.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ode to cold air

There are many things in life that are over-rated.

There are many creature comforts we can *so* live without.

Air conditioning is not one of them.


Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm the luckiest bitch in the world.

So all of that went down in early April. April 3, to be exact, was the first time I saw the house. And loved it, and knew we'd never get it.

Resigned, I went home and made a list of the final things that needed to happen to our house. I had the wheels in motion to get our loan worked out, and I went back to the real estate listings in hopes of finding something else that didn't make me want to cut myself in the next month or so.

It's nerve-wracking, the notion that you can find "the house" and not have your sold. Or, possibly worse, sell your house and not have "the house" picked out to move into. I was trying not to think about it. I regularly called Lindsey and Adam over to console me with wine and help me stay motivated to pack boxes for storage. But it felt hollow and futile.

I obsessively checked Craigslist every day to see if the house was still available. I emailed the seller love notes and sweet nothings several times a week, in hopes of softening him to the idea of a contingent contract.

The house remained for sale, and all hope was not lost, but the seller wasn't budging. He needed a real offer from someone who wasn't backing out.

And then, one day, there was a knock at my front door. Thinking it was Mr. Meat and Potatoes who was supposed to be outside mowing the lawn and who I figured probably had his hands full of god-knows-what and wanted me to help him with something I didn't want to help with, seeing as I had a toddler underfoot and hot dinner on the stove, I threw open the door and before I even looked up I said "WHAT?"

And there stood a nice old man, looking rather sorry he'd ever chosen this door upon which to knock.

I recognized this man as the one who walked his old black dog up and down our street every night with his son. We'd been waving cordially for the better part of five years, but we had never spoken, beyond "It's a hot one!" or "Cold enough for ya?"

And so, embarrassed at my outburst and the state of my living room, I invited him in.

He told me he had heard through the neighborhood grapevine we wanted to sell the house, and he thought he might like to buy it.

And then an 85 year old man picked me up off the floor of my own living room, and offered to call 911.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Yes, one day a serial killer WILL hack me to bits, for I am so trusting.

So we were knee deep in house hunting when I responded to the ad on Craigslist. We had seen a dozen or so houses, and folks, it was getting sad. Mr. Meat and Potatoes was of the mind that whatever we were moving into was going to be "it" - as in, this is the house I am stuck with until I go to a nursing home or the men in white jackets cart me away, which frankly I was thinking could happen at any minute. But if I was gonna have to live in this house for the better part of the next fifty years, I sure as shit wasn't gonna buy one that didn't suit me. Also, I wasn't going to buy a "fixer upper" and spend tens of thousands of dollars to live in rubble for the next ten years of my life. I know us. We don't do well with projects. We'd talk about a new kitchen every night for nine and a half years, all the while I'd be cooking in the pit from Silence of the Lambs. And then we'd say "screw it" and move again.

So I was discouraged. There were no houses in my price range that suited both of our desires (basement, fireplace, nice open kitchen, good yard, good neighbors, 3 plus bedrooms, yada yada).

I saw the price on the Craigslist house, I saw the four tiny pictures, and I thought it must be a scam, like when they tell you you can buy a 2011 Yukon for 5,000, but just send a money order to a PO box in the Sudan first. Because this was far more house for less money than anything we'd seen so far.

Mr. Meat and Potatoes was in Kansas City with his brother and the baby visiting his dad, so I went to the appointment by myself. I won't lie. I figured there was a fifty percent chance I was going to be hacked to tiny bits and a fifty percent chance I was about to see my future home. I was willing to take those odds, if the house turned out to be as good as it appeared in the ad. Mind you, this house is for sale by owner, so that's a bonus too, if it turns out to be for real. But there is no way it's for real.

I went anyway, and called my family on the way to say my farewells.

And then I called them after, and said, "I found our house."

The house was torn up. No carpet, messed up walls, smelly dog smell in the basement. Any normal buyer would have run screaming into the night. But I am not a normal buyer. I looked at the pool, and cried inside, for it was so beautiful. And the seller, a decent-seeming guy, swore he was having new paint and carpet installed ASAP. The kitchen was what I was looking for in size and shape if not in style, and every. single. thing. on our list was in this house, and then some. Basement, check. Four bedrooms, check. Three bathrooms, fireplace, check check. Master bath, walk-in closet, check. And, the added bonuses of wet bar and pool? Hell to the yes. Too good to be true? Of course.

I asked the seller if he would take an offer contingent on the sale of my home, which was, of course, still not even really on the market. He fell down laughing and peed himself.

I mentally kissed the house good-bye, because I knew it would sell before we could ever get ours on the market, let alone actually find a person silly enough to buy it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Where've I been?

It's like a drug, this personal blogging space. I've been without for what seems like forever and I didn't know how much I missed it. But there have been many times I've thought "I wish I could write about this" or "That is a great topic to ask my blogging peeps." So afresh, anew, I humbly return. Boy, is this fun.

I feel that for some of you who've wondered what became of me, I should share a bit of back story.

My old blog had to go away. I meant to revive it immediately but ran into a few stumbling blocks. Now I'm not sure it will ever be retrievable, and for that I am miserable.

But, onward and all that.

Since we last spoke, a lot has happened.

Like, we sold and bought a house. Which is big enough on its own, but our house selling and buying experience? EPIC.

Here's why. To begin at the beginning, I have to explain that the prospect of selling our house both thrilled and terrified me, much as it does most rational human beings. But me? More. Because we do not do well with being consistently clutter-and-dust-free. We try, we really do, but the world is too much and we have other things to do.

So I knew that listing our house and slogging through the showings and open houses would be utter torture for us. Beyond the usual level of torture. I foresaw screaming and rending of clothing. I wondered if our marriage could survive it. I mean it; I did.

Months before we intended to make anything official, we started working on the house. We had had our realtor come out last winter and look around and identify things she thought we should change before we started, and we took her words to heart. I bought a caulk gun.

We painted a room, touched up the cabinets, replaced some fixtures, and thought we were on our way. I organized a closet and cleaned out a piece of furniture and deposited a few cluttery things to storage thinking of all those SELL THIS HOUSE shows I'd invested in on HGTV. I was going to do this right. Those hours on Saturdays were NOT WASTED. SEE, HUSBAND? I TOLD YOU I NEEDED TO HAVE CONTROL OF THE TV SOMETIMES.

And we started looking. Our faithful realtor dragged us to two or three houses every weekend and suffered my manic questioning. She tolerated my frequent emails with lists of homes to see and my equally frequent changing of those lists. My priorities changed with the Kansas weather, and folks, it was spring. If you know what I mean.

We seemed to be doing okay, but every week she'd very patiently ask "Is your home ready to list?" and we'd sheepishly admit it was not. "But one more week!" we'd cry. "Next weekend, we'll be done!" And we meant it, we really really did. We needed to clean the garage. We needed to shampoo the carpets. Just a couple more things, and we'd be ready to roll.

But somehow, we were never ready. Our trusty realtor kept showing us houses, knowing we could never make an offer without at very *least* a listed house, but she humored us anyway, poor dear.

And we kept looking. It turned out, at the same time we were looking, one of my BFF's was completing her PhD in Iowa (can I hear you say Heeeaaay!) and she and her husband and ridiculously beautiful baby were looking to purchase a home in Lawrence, right smack dab in my price range.

The race was on.

Kidding. Sort of. We swore we wouldn't get mad at one another over the houses and if someone bought the other's dream home, so be it. May the fastest woman win. And get this.

First, my friend who lived OUT OF TOWN and was house shopping from afar BEAT ME. She bought hers first. How shamed I was.

Second, she found our house for us. That's right, she found it, sent me the listing, went with me to look at it, said "This is a great house but I don't want any part of that pool," and gave me her blessing.

Third, the house, (here I go, burying the lede)which we did end up purchasing after much chagrin and gnashing of teeth, was listed on Craigslist.

So this homebuying experience was unconventional from the git-go, and it only got weirder from there.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Old blogs never die, they just go into hiding.

My old blog went away.

It is a long and painful story. I may tell it someday, but it's not likely.

I am working on retrieving the material from said old blog, but in the meantime, I miss my blog. I write for and also Wellcommons and both of those are satisfying endeavors for different reasons, but they are very public blogs, ones for which I am paid and ones for which I need to reach a wide audience in our local paper.

I can't write about just *anything* there. I can't always write how I want to or about what I want to or when I want to.

So I'm back here. Hopefully my smart IT-type friends and I can transform this space back into a decent-looking home for what I like to do, which is go on ad nauseum about how cute my baby is and how much I hate my hair and what I ate for every meal this week.

No one said you had to read it.

Anyway, for now, I'm back. Here.