Friday, September 25, 2009

whine fest: you might want to move right along

I'm restraining myself from writing this post in ALL CAPS because I am in a yelling mood, but I'll try to keep myself under control.

The universe. is. conspiring. against. me.

My child, she has stopped sleeping and is a fucking basket case all the time. We are talking whining and moaning and crying and general annoyingness all the freaking time. I'm assuming she is finally (FINALLY!) getting some teeth since she is 9+ months old with no teeth, but at this point I honestly don't care, I just want her to cut me a break. Yesterday I actually walked upstairs and put one crying toddler into his room and one crying infant into her room and locked myself in the downstairs bathroom, which was the only room in the house where I couldn't hear the screaming.

I stayed downstairs for 10 minutes, seething over what jerks both of my kids were being, and then I walked upstairs and pasted a smile on my face and brought them down for dinner. I paid for those 10 minutes by having to calm Josie down for the next 45 minutes. She has been doing this thing where as soon as something doesn't go her way, or you don't entertain her, or you try to put her down, or you try to drive in the car, she goes from 0-OHMYGODITISTHEENDOFTHEWORLD. Complete with tears and great, heaving sobs and shaking. It is exhausting.

Then, THEN, the dog (Murray) has started shitting and peeing in the house again. (I am banging my head against the desk for effect right now). Again. I can't even begin to discuss how this makes me feel except to tell you that yesterday I screamed out loud that I was calling the breeder to ask her to take Murray back. I just don't know what to do. I am completely, utterly, totally SICK OF THIS. I am sick of finding poop on the living room rug, or poop outside of my bedroom door, or pee on the dining room rug, or having Gabe leave his clothes on the bathroom floor for 5 minutes and having Murray pee all over them.

I don't want to be that person who can't take care of her dog, but I also cannot be this angry and frustrated. I cannot have a dog who is 6 years old and continues to have accidents. I take him for walks and he won't go to the bathroom on a leash, or in front of me. I let him into the backyard multiple times per day and watch him through the window while he stands there and looks around him for 20 minutes, or stands at the back door scratching and whining and barking to be let back in, and then has an accident on the floor 10 minutes later.

I have trained him, and retrained him, and retrained him, and I know I am opening myself up to people saying that I am an idiot that cannot train her dog, but I swear, this dog was trained for YEARS and it is only over the last year that this has started again. Plus, we go through weeks or months where he is fine, and then something sets it off again.

I'm just sick of this. I'm done. I do what everyone suggests and keep them fenced into the kitchen where at least the messes are easier to clean, but seriously? Is this a life for the dog? He hates being outside, so he can't even hang out in the backyard, and all he wants is to sit on the couch with me, but I don't want that because I don't want pee and poop all over the house. Oh geez, I could cry right now just thinking about this. Plus poor Tango pays for Murray's accidents because he also gets caged into the kitchen and he jumps all over me in excitement everytime I come in to the room. I just don't know what to do anymore.

Josh is also working, ALL THE TIME. He was in San Francisco on Monday through Wednesday, then in New York on Thursday and today, then Chicago early next week, then Indiana at the end of the week. He works through most of the weekends, and doesn't see an end in sight until October. I haven't had a break, no time away from the kids, in weeks. My only breaks are naptimes, during which I house hunt, call inspectors, and moving companies, and organize and pack, and keep the rest of our household floating while Josh isn't here. The working situation is beyond absurd, honestly. I'm grateful for a job and a paycheck and the opportunity to buy a house and all that, but I miss my husband. I miss my partner. I'm tired of being alone.

And then, of course, there's the house situation, which is shitty shitty. No good houses on right now, and no sellers who are willing to budge. We made another offer on a house that should be priced about $50K less, and the seller doesn't want to move. At least the Fed is going to keep the rates low for a little while so I feel a bit less pressure.

Rounding this all off, is the packing, of course. I started this week, because my mother in law is coming to visit on Tuesday through Sunday and she expects me to be prepared to do a massive packing spree while she is here, and I am thoroughly overwhelmed by the process, but everyone does it, and so will I.

My one bright shining spot is that I pulled out some Halloween decorations and the leaves are starting to change and tomorrow we'll go buy pumpkins and I'll bake apple muffins and applesauce cakes and I'll pretend I'm not ready to crawl under the bed and cry.

Tell me some terrible moving and packing stories please, so I'll stop feeling sorry for myself. Tell me it could be worse than this.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

short and not-so-sweet

The inspection on the pseudo-dream house was a @#*%& NIGHTMARE. A nightmare in which you have to jack up the house and rebuild the whole structure. A nightmare in which the sellers removed structural beams because they "thought it would look nicer" and so now it turns out the whole stairway is lilting to one side because it isn't being held up. A nightmare where there is rotting wood all over, and bathrooms not done to code, and wiring that is so freaking old, we can't even get a mortgage or home insurance.

In some ways, it was a blessing to have so many gigantic problems, because it didn't leave us in a gray area. We needed a huge number off the price of the house, and we needed the wiring throughout the house redone correctly in addition to that huge number.

I have no idea what kind of workers this seller has been hiring, but both the inspector and a contractor we asked to come give us some estimates, told us that every single thing he touched was done incorrectly. Electrical sockets were wired incorrectly, bathrooms were plumbed wrong, venting was incomplete or illegal. There were sump pumps tapped into the sewer line (not allowed) and drywall that was improperly attached.

By the time I'd visited the house with the inspector and then the contractor I was completely overwhelmed and Josh was beyond terrified. We loved the space in the house, but we couldn't imagine what we might end up uncovering if all of these problems were visible just on the surface!

We asked for tens of thousands of dollars off the price of the house, and the additional non-negotiable items like rewiring the house and bringing the bathrooms up to code, and weren't surprised when he said no. I think the seller was surprised, though, when we said thanks but no thanks, we're withdrawing our offer. In fact, he has since called us 4 times to ask why we aren't negotiating and to insist that he thought that was his starting offer.

It would be funny if I weren't so tired of this jerk.

So we're back to being homeless as of November 13th, and I've taken to looking up rental apartments rather dejectedly. I don't want to have to move twice, and I know I said I was okay with it, but now I'm fretting over the double moves, and the packing for storage and packing to live in a rental, and with the fear that we'll never find a home (irrational as I know that sounds).

I worry that we are in a precarious situation because we sold our house in a down market, with very low interest rates, but if home prices start to go up or mortgage rates start to go up, we'll be TOTALLY screwed. Screwed as in, won't be able to buy a home.

Sigh. If I let myself go down this road too long, I start panicking, which isn't like me, but we've never taken quite this big of a risk, and I've never sold a home. It is a lot of money, and the process is harder than I imagined. Everyone keeps saying that selling your home is the hardest part, and I hope they are right. Now we just need to find a house!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

you think I'm joking, but I'm not

I met this new mom on the playground the other day.

Our little conversation was going swimmingly as we discovered that our two children are just a couple of months apart, agewise. (convenient! check)

She has just moved to my town from a not-too-distant town and she mentioned that she stays at home and really wants to make some new friends. (friendly! check)

She asked me for my number so we could meet up for a playdate at the park one of these days. (outgoing! check)

We were both pretty excited after spending the afternoon together watching the kids play. It really seemed like we could get along and had a good amount in common.


We were packing up the kids to leave and talking about whether the neighbors around here are friendly or not and I said she would probably meet tons of people on Halloween since everyone comes out in full force. And she groaned and said, "Ugh, I HATE HALLOWEEN."

I looked at her in horror and said, in all seriousness, "I honestly don't know if we can be friends anymore." and she said, "why? Let me guess. You love Halloween?" I don't even know how to express the whole truth to her that Halloween is more than just a love to me. I'm counting down the days until I can start decorating. I've already bought the paper products to have a little shindig on Halloween. I'm lamenting the fact that we won't be in a new house already for Halloween because I'll have to pare down the decorating here. I have actually considered moving to one particular town based on the sole fact that they have a Halloween parade.

So the question is, do you think we can still be friends? I have my doubts.
(a) Yes, you lunatic. Get a grip and hide the candy corn when she comes over.

(b) Obviously not. You lack fundamental shared values and it'll never work.

(c) Maybe. You should make it your personal mission to turn her onto Halloween. Drop secret Halloween presents at her house, send her decorating and costume suggestions, and make it clear this is a friendship prerequisite.

Monday, September 14, 2009

taking all the joy out of buying a house

If I could record myself to this post, you would hear HUGE SIGHING throughout. I'm emotionally exhausted just thinking about everything that's been happening since last Tuesday. I mentioned that we found a house. A big house in a great neighborhood with 6 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms and 3 floors and a little playroom off the kitchen and a tiny, but flat, backyard with a cute little deck and lots of space. Lots and lots of space, which is precisely what has been lacking in our current house.

This house, let's call it pseudo-dream house, or PDH for short, needs work. A lot of work. Lots and lots of painting and sanding and repairing and replastering, and all new kitchen, and 3.5 new bathrooms and basement repairs and general cosmetic work. Clearly, this terrible shape is the only reason we could afford a house like this. I should call it pseudo-dump instead, but whatever, let's be positive about the situation. We haven't had an inspection yet, so we have no idea if anything structural is wrong with it, but we don't have high hopes. In fact, we're scared silly over what might come out in an inspection.

Regardless, we love the house. It is enough space for all of our bedrooms, plus a guest room for our two sets of parents that live out of town, plus an office for Josh, plus maybe even another kid (or two, which is my secret hope). Fixed up, it would be great. Really perfect for us.

Starting last weekend, we decided to make an offer, but a really low offer since all of this work would take the house way out of our price range. It took us all weekend to come up with a number and get together with our broker, so Tuesday morning we made our offer, and within an hour, we'd been back and forth with the seller 4 times. In the end, we stopped bidding because it was happening too quickly, and we were getting too close to our absolute maximum. We took a step away, a day off, and asked to see the house again. In the meantime, the seller offered to repaint the inside and refinish all the floors before we moved in. That would have been a huge expense for us, because we were planning two moves. One move out of our current house and into storage, another move from storage into the house while the floors were being refinished. We finally came up with our absolute maximum and sent him a lovely letter telling him how much we love his home and that this was the most we could afford- really and truly. We were only about $9,000 apart, so we really believed it might actually happen.

And he gave us a big fat no.

No no no. He wanted his $9,000, and he wouldn't move on his price. For 24 hours, we were stalled out here, with much hand wringing and tears and spreadsheets, trying to figure out which kid would fetch the highest price. Finally, we figured out a way to meet his price, and sent our final offer accepting his number.

And he sat on it and hemmed and hawed, and I swear, I know he wanted to ask for more, but he finally said yes. Success! We'd agreed on a price! We drafted up the paperwork and started to send it over and asked for it to be returned to us within a couple hours.

Then the fun really started.

1. First the broker said he was going to a college football game and couldn't deliver the offer. Fine, my broker was happy to drive it over to the seller.

2. The broker said he didn't know where the seller lived and wouldn't be able to find out until tomorrow.

3. Also, the broker said our low offer PUT THE SELLER INTO THE HOSPITAL, and now he was home recovering. He couldn't possibly ask him to sign today while he was resting in bed.

4. Then he decided he wanted to have quotes done on the refinishing and painting and ceiling work he'd agreed to do before he signed the offer. The work he'd already agreed to do, regardless of price.

5. Then he couldn't get us the offer first thing in the morning because the broker likes to sleep in.

6. Also, the seller wanted to change all the dates upon which we'd already agreed.

My broker sat in our dining room on the phone arguing with the seller's broker until a tentative truce was reached and a time of 9:30am was set for Sunday (yesterday) morning. The next morning, on pins and needles, 9:30am comes and goes. At 10:30am, my broker called the seller's broker, who said he was still in bed. Still in bed. Are you feeling my tension yet?

He and the seller had an appointment at 1:30pm and he'd sign it then. 1:30pm comes and goes, and at 2:45pm, my broker calls to ask what the hold-up is, and the broker claims they are working on it but want to talk dates again. My broker says that we'll talk dates after the inspection, at which point I'll ask my buyers to move their closing forward also. At 6:30pm, we still haven't heard anything, so my broker calls and demands an answer.

At this point, I was a basket of nerves. We've been waiting for responses for days, dealing with crazy excuses, and I've taken to doing drive-bys on the PDH to make sure they aren't doing mass showings in the hopes of soliciting higher offers (I am POSITIVE this is what they are doing by stalling). I finally called my broker and told her to tell the seller that I don't care anymore what they do, they can accept or reject the offer, but have the decency to give me an answer once and for all.

When she called to deliver the message, he simply said, "Oh, it's signed already." No phone call, no fax, no email, nothing. And he wasn't even apologetic. She asked for him to fax it, and he said he didn't have a fax machine, so she had to drive over to pick it up this morning.

To add insult to injury, he also flagged the property and put in caps on the listing sheet, "LOOKING FOR BACKUP OFFERS. PLEASE BRING ALL YOUR BUYERS!!!" Complete with exclamation points and everything. Plus, this morning he already lost my deposit check and has made all these ridiculous demands about mortgage letters and the like.

Asshole. My broker is at a loss to explain his behavior, although she has stated more than once that she wonders whether the broker might be on drugs. He's on something, that's for sure.

So all this to say that we do have an accepted offer on PDH, and an inspection scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, and I'm trying to keep my hopes very very low, but you never know. Maybe this will work out and we won't have to rent and we'll be able to do this seamlessly. Ugh, it's a longshot, but you never know, I guess.

anyone want to sell their home to me? at a discount?

One of my favoritest friends has a blog where she recounts her adventures in purchasing foreclosed homes and rehabbing them. It is totally addictive, and I cannot stop reading her posts! It makes me want to run out and buy a foreclosed home with my nonexistent money and even less available time.

She visited us during the weekend of our first open house, way back in June, and witnessed the flurry of activity that took place over those Friday and Saturday nights. The truth is that Josh and I have put a ton of work into this home, the vast majority of which we did ourselves. Those of you who have been around for quite some time may remember the good old days, when I used to talk about something other than my kids. I read through these posts and feel exhausted at my old self. Where did I find the time to do this stuff? I worked! At a law firm! As a corporate lawyer! For long hours! Ahh, those days are long gone now.

Also, wow. I was way more interesting before I had kids. Apologies.

Anyway, it looks like we are really going to sell this house and will (HOPEFULLY PLEASE) be moving to a new house. As we look at these dumps shitholes lovely homes people are so ridiculously absurdly reasonably pricing, we are having to make decisions on how much work we are willing to do on a new home.

The towns in which we are looking have very few new homes, so almost everything needs work. The question is whether we do minor work, cosmetic work, heavy cosmetic work (bathrooms and kitchens), structural work, or huge renovations. Considering the whole 2 children thing, husband working around the clock thing, plus I do have plans for going back to school or work at some point in the not so distant future, I'm leaning toward heavy cosmetic work as the most I'd be willing to do.

We made some offers on a house now that would need exterior and interior top to bottom painting, all new bathrooms, all new kitchen and laundry rooms, and some renovations in the basement. The roof is probably old, and I'm guessing several problems will come out in the inspection, just judging from the look of things. So why are we bidding? Well, it is far far bigger than we could ever afford normally. 6 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms, to be exact. It is in one of our most favorite, safest, loveliest neighborhoods, close to the train and shops, nestled among much more expensive homes, and priced way under assessment. Still, despite all those benefits, I'm thoroughly afraid of taking all of this on.

I figure a quick overview of all the work we have done on this house might depress cheer me on to the prospect of what is to come:

Living Room: took down wallpaper, scraped walls, painted walls and ceiling and trim and fireplace, tore up carpet and refinished floors, patched cracks, replaced hardware.

Dining Room: took down wallpaper, scraped walls, painted walls and ceiling and trim and doors, tore up carpet and refinished floors, , replaced hardware, patched cracks and patched cracks again. And again.

Kitchen: gutted the whole kitchen, with new walls, new hardwood floors, new ceilings, new electrical, new plumbing, new cabinets and countertops and appliances and lighting and hardware.

Mudroom: gutted the mudroom with the same changes as the kitchen and installed cabinets and a pantry.

Half Bathroom: took down wallpaper, scraped walls, painted walls and ceiling, installed new medicine cabinets, tiled floor, had existing wall tiles reglazed.

Office: painted walls and ceiling, tore up nasty gross carpet, recarpeted.

Foyer: replaced front door and screen door, had front brick stairs rebuilt.

Master Bedroom: took down wallpaper, scraped walls, painted walls and ceiling and trim and closet and bedroom doors, redid closets with new organizational systems, tore up carpet and refinished floors, all new windows.

Gabe's bedroom: took down wallpaper, scraped walls, painted walls and ceiling and trim and closet and bedroom doors, father in law built radiator cover, tore up carpet and refinished floors, all new windows.

Josie's bedroom: painted walls and ceiling and trim and built-ins and doors, redid closet with new organizational system, tore up carpet and refinished floors, all new windows.

Hallway and Stairs: took down wallpaper, scraped walls, painted walls and ceiling and trim and stair risers, tore up carpet and refinished floors, all new windows.

Full Bath: took up old linoleum tile, took down wallpaper, scraped walls, painted walls, replaced lighting, replaced medicine cabinet, replaced shower hardware.
Main basement: carpeted part of the basement, tiled part of the entry area and laundry area, painted and plastered walls and ceiling and trim and stairs and pipes.

Garage and Work room: nothing.

Painted whole exterior, replaced front steps, painted foundation and patio foundation, tore down and replaced fencing around yard, planted new perennial garden in front yard and back yard.

Phew. We've done a lot, especially when I see it all written down. Thank goodness we did most of the work ourselves, or we never would have come close to breaking even. As it is, we are getting our money back on the major stuff, like the kitchen, but nothing back on all of the carpeting, tiling, and painting we've done over the years. No wonder it feels so much like home,-it literally has our blood, sweat, and tears.

It'll be hard to move on November 13th, but I keep reminding myself that we are hoping for something bigger and better. Now we just need to find it or come to some sort of agreement on this fixer-upper. And then find the money to fix it. Or my inlaws will have to house us indefinitely, and I think no one really wants that, although my inlaws are too polite to say so.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

happy first day of school!

Love it, love it, love it. Can I distill this down so a 2.8 year old can understand it?

Today was Gabe's pseudo first day of school. We had an hour long orientation, during which he played happily with play doh and drew on the chalkboard and put on a tool belt and hammered all over the classroom and was basically beside himself with excitement. His little face fell when I told him it was time to leave, and he slumped down onto the bench right outside the door with the most pitiful expression I've ever seen. Shoulders down, arms crossed in front of him, lower lip trembling with sorrow. I sat down next to him and held him against my side, consoling him that school would start for good on Friday and it wouldn't be only an hour and his new friends would be back then. When I finally dragged him to the car, he told me his 'lips were turned down because he was so sad'.

I love this kid. Now if I can just keep up this love of school and learning and all that it entails, we'll be on the right track.

Friday, September 04, 2009

my preshus house, indeed

Our inspection was on Thursday, and as I expected, the inspector came up with lots of little things I thought were total nonsense. It is a good thing sellers don't hang around for the inspection, because I would have spent the whole time arguing with him over every little comment. My broker was laughing as I sputtered on the phone in response to the seller's questions and gave ranting angry answers to the inspector's "issues". After one of my tirades where I told the buyers to get themselves an actual professional, like maybe a structural engineer or the like, before I would dignify their question with a response, she said, "Umm, maybe we could say it a little less, I don't know what the word is..." and I said, "Bitchy?" and she said, "Yes."

How dare that stupid inspector say anything bad about my beautiful, precious, lovely house? Bastard.

Anyway, I wrote a not so bitchy response to their list of questions and we have an agreement.

The main source of my anger was the inspector's allegation that the main beam through the house was sagging and thus needed to be braced in 2 places, evidenced by the fact that the back door was sticking. The same back door where I laid new tile down 2 months ago. Tile that was significantly higher than the existing tile, and above which the back door now has a hard time opening and closing. When the broker suggested that that was the real reason for the door sticking, he got annoyed and insisted it was the house obviously falling down around them, not the new tile. Never mind the fact that I've had 2 contractors come to talk to me about possible renovations of the basement, and each has examined the load bearing beams, and none have mentioned this supposed sagging.


Regardless, I am thrilled to report that we accepted their offer, they accepted my list of answers, and now we are in a mad dash because we want to sign a purchase and sale as soon as possible. Wait, did you know my real estate attorney is supposed to draft that? Did you know I don't have a real estate attorney? Did you know I am an actual attorney so I likely should know these things? But I didn't know, and I don't have an attorney, and we're all in a big hurry to get this done because the sooner we get this done, the sooner I can start making offers on houses we might possibly find.

Our closing is on or before November 13th, which gives me (by my estimates) about a month to find a house. If I find one beforehand, we'll close sooner. If not, then we'll rent temporarily, but I'm hoping it won't come to that. I have my eye on a gigantic fixer upper in a great neighborhood. It'll take me years to finish it, but it could be perfect. If we don't kill each other over the renovations.

I'm so relieved, I cannot even tell you. At least one thing is falling into place, and now I can start moving forward. And best of all, NO MORE HOUSE SHOWINGS! Have a drink on me! WOOHOOOOOOO!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

mommy needs a time-out

Whooo boy. There are days when I honest-to-goodness think Gabe might be the easiest child who ever lived. Whole entire days where he is sweet and funny and clever and listens to me and I could swallow him whole with his deliciousness. Then there are multiple other days, like the LAST THREE DAYS (sorry for the yelling, neighbors) where I think I might have to be medicated because I am going to lose my mind.

I'm sure it doesn't help that we are in a high stress situation, and that my husband informed me last week that I basically won't see him until OCTOBER because he is so busy at work (and that includes weekends), and Josie is teething or something because her sleep has gone to shit in a handbag. My patience is definitely fried and lacking and virtually nonexistent, but lordy, he can be an asshole sometimes.

I told him he had to be quiet for a few minutes while I was on the phone since he kept screaming at me over and over to get him something or another, so he walked over to his sister and chucked matchbox cars at her head to wake her up from her nap. WAKE HER UP FROM HER NAP. The nap she so desperately needed because we were up almost all night last night. Then he BIT HER FINGER (which is truthfully so out of character I stood there stunned because he practically kisses the ground she crawls on) in the grocery store so I couldn't even beat him like I wanted to because there were so many people around.

When I took him to the park this morning he repeatedly did. not. listen. which is again out of character since truthfully, I am pretty strict and he knows I am not above hauling him out of the playground or leaving the ice cream store without ice cream when he doesn't listen. The not listening was over little things, though, so I kept trying to talk to him about it rather than go home, but it just wasn't working and by the time I finally did get him home I was ready to crawl into bed and throw my own little tantrum.

I'm also so stinking lonely these days, it is horrible and terrible and I feel like this totally ungrateful bitch whose husband works like a dog for her and I'm still complaining, but really- I'm so lonely. It is so hard to come home to an empty house all the time and not have him there ever, not be able to talk to him on the phone, not be able to bounce ideas off of him. I called him at work on Wednesday night and flat-out said if this was my future, I didn't want it. I would rather have a smaller house, a poorer lifestyle, old clothes, but my husband with me. Hands down, no questions asked. But he says it won't be like this forever, and things will get better in October, and I have no choice but to believe him.

Next Wednesday Gabe starts his new pre-preschool, and I hope that bit of time-off will make things better and work out excess energy. I'll be keeping him away from life-sized M&Ms until then, for sure.