Monday, March 30, 2009

Do Over

Man this was a rough weekend! We started some major projects, but really haven't finished anything. Tom was feeling pretty discouraged about his drilling abilities, and I kept reminding him that these are learned skills; people get paid to know how to do that stuff. We've never had a big reason to learn, so now we're stretching our brains.

As I worked along on the priming and painting, I was thinking about other things. Maybe that's why I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped. However, it was all worth it because one of the things I pondered (again) was my birthday. So in a relatively happy moment (right after he'd finally gotten about 99% of the paint off the patio), I told Tom that I should really get a do-over for my birthday. I explained that if he didn't do something to make up for last week I'd be forced to buy him a pack of Altoids for his birthday, and that I wouldn't be able to tell anybody about it and feel good about myself... especially his mother. We chose next week on Monday night as his time to create a lovely evening for me. Naturally I'd forgotten that I'll be teaching on Monday nights now, so I had to text him today and ask for a new do over date. We'll see what happens.

Back to work... by Sunday evening, I was feeling less than thrilled with our progress. The one thing I did think was cool is that one of our cupboards was finally done (well, minus the inside of the door, but that'll be a snap). The color is gorgeous. If I have a spare second, I'll snap some pics and put them up here so you can check it all out. That'll probably be after we're done. Back to the cabinet... I had done all the touching up I could see the need for and had Tom double-check me. It was done. I removed the tape from the back... where the refrigerator will be covering. It came off beautifully! I wouldn't say that my heart was pounding; it was more a quiet satisfaction. I pulled the tape from the bottom, which was no big deal because I'd accidentally pulled it loose earlier. Then I removed the tape from the front.

Oh holy hell, it pulled paint off with it!!! Argh!

There are a few theories and at least twice as many remedies that people have showered on us today to explain and resolve this situation. All I know is that was the moment that Tom and I switched places. I declared that I was "going away" and promptly took myself upstairs. Unfortunately I didn't bring my cell phone, which needed to be charged, so I had to go back down, where I declared that I was "not staying. I'm still going away." I got into bed. Tom was there a few minutes later, snuggling me and telling me we'd get it all worked out soon enough.

Yeah, Kim. I think you're right.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Adventures in Homeowner Land

We have so many projects going on around here, from installing curved shower bars (love them!) to anchoring bookcases and getting our washing machine hooked up (it might have been worth the cost of a new one just to have a couple of professionals drag it up the stairs and set everything up). Despite all of these things, I am still thinking of new projects I'd like to do. We've already selected a few walls for painting, and I've added the stairway. It's cool that the house is all tan with white trim instead of just white, but why they chose to paint it all in flat paint is beyond me.

Another potential project is our back patio. It has braces for a patio cover, and we considered using part of the eight grand we're getting back to have one installed. We've decided to cut our credit card debt down by about 2/3 instead. Nance suggested that we get some terra cotta-looking plastic pots, cut holes in the bottom for the braces and then plant over them in the meantime. I like that idea. I was also thinking it would be cool to stain the patio concrete.

Yesterday was semi-productive. We just have to work on our time- and project management skills. I was supposed to sand kitchen cabinets on Friday, but never did manage to locate our sandpaper. We started off slowly yesterday and didn't get truly started in the kitchen until mid-afternoon. So it's no surprise that we only have two and a half cabinets sanded and primed; one of them has its first coat of "Dried Violet," an exceptionally dark bluey-purple. Seven or eight doors and drawers are done on one side, too.

Until we get the cabinets done, we can't really put any kitchen stuff away. Tom pointed out last night that our big house feels just as cluttered and tight as our old tiny apartment.

This morning he let me sleep in, and I love him for it. About an hour ago we started moving our project into the garage because the winds are blowing today. We can't hear anything, but we could see the neighbor's trees moving gently. Still, we didn't want anything to blow onto the paint. Tom lined the garage floor with plastic and headed out back to get the paint and supplies that we'd left on that plastic liner.

Apparently our windows are excellent at keeping outside sounds outside. The better part of a gallon of "Dried Violet" is now worthless. The wind apparently knocked it over and the lid wasn't on tightly. Even more exciting is that there's now a 2x4 space of paint on the patio.

Tom did not see the humor in the situation. He thinks it might be funny later. He went to Home Depot (this place is quickly becoming our home away from home) and found something that will hopefully clean it up and not toxify the ground when we rinse it off.

He's back now, so I'd better get out there and get going on the painting again. Next weekend we're supposed to have rain and the weekend after that we're having our housewarming and Mad's first birthday party here at the house (yes, we are that crazy).

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Family Tradition

My in-laws moved into their first home on my mother-in-law's 30th birthday. Tom and I have been together for about nine years, and I've probably heard this story a couple of times a year. I don't mind actually; it's a cool story. It's come up more frequently with our home buying excursion. Why? Well, my birthday was on Monday. (No, not my 30th.)

I have complex feelings about my birthday. When I was a kid it was easier for my parents and grandparents to have a combination celebration for my mom, sister and me. My birthday is first, then Mom's on the 6th and Shelly's on the 21st.

The thing is, Shelly's birthday would often come right after my parents received their tax refund. So we'd have some sort of family only group thing, then there would be money for a trip to Farrell's, and Shelly could bring a friend or two along. I've never been upset with Shelly about this. She and I are the same age, and neither one of us tried to win out over the other. Still, it was hard not to notice. One year I did get to invite friends, but I froze. I invited my best friend, Mary, who was like part of our family and probably would have been there anyway. I didn't invite anyone else.

And when it came to gifts... I know I received them from my parents. I know I liked them and appreciated them. But I also remember that things were always done at the last minute. I know this because of the countless gifts "wrapped" in a rolled up paper bag. For some reason I often had a hard time asking for anything special. Pretty sure that it comes from my mom. I could tear through the Toys R Us catalog and make long lists, but I couldn't say "I want a Walkman" to save my life. On the flip side, giving gifts that I was sure other people would like was at least as difficult. As a teen I broke up with boys before any gift-giving occasions.

Once I realized that, I tried to work it out within myself. Still, Corey had 10 full years of big birthday parties. He'd probably still be having them, but he was such a butt at his 10th that I vowed never to do it again until he reaches a milestone birthday.

These days I try to take a more pragmatic approach. I think I'm a pretty good gift giver. I do avoid the office birthday celebrations, but that's only because this office has some weird things. For example, the restaurant is chosen based on what's most convenient for certain people, rather than whether the birthday girl likes it or not.

When it comes to my birthday, I tend to revert to my single mom days. "I don't want anything, but I could use XYZ." The problem is that I also resent that I do this and no one else in the family does it. It's not like we're poor and I need to do it; it's a habit. However, when you're buying a home or having a baby at birthday time, it seems especially hard to say, "Please treat me special."

Last year I was more than eight months pregnant on my birthday. My mom gave me a gift card to get my hair done and my mother-in-law gave me a check. I used it for baby stuff that we needed. I honestly don't recall what Tom got me. I just remember that it was Easter and I made dinner for my family and my mom without any help.

For his birthday I arranged for us to see a Cubs/Dodgers game... it happened to fall on his birthday, so that was extra cool. But you can't just show up at the stadium on game day and get three good seats together, so I bought those tickets a couple months in advance. The year before I happened to hear that Prairie Home Companion was taping at the Greek Theatre, also on his birthday. I believe I purchased those tickets several months ahead.

So my birthday was on Monday. Tom had frequently pointed out in advance that I was getting a house for my birthday just as his mom had long ago. I reminded him that he was also getting the house, and that having a major event happen right before one's birthday shouldn't mean that a person's birthday wasn't celebrated. I had asked for the soundtrack to Juno, so not exactly extravagant.

By noon that day, the only people who had wished me a happy birthday were my coworkers. They offered to take me to lunch, but I declined. Things had gotten a bit screwed up with the move, so I ended up spending a lot of time Monday cleaning the apartment with my mom and Corey. Tom was supposed to meet me there at 3:00 to wrap everything up. We spoke at 10 'til, and he was just getting ready to leave work. Over 90 minutes later, I was pissed and out of there. We spoke on the phone and he complained about having so much to do still... as if we hadn't done everything but load the remaining crap into his truck... we'd even pulled up most of the carpet since I knew it was being replaced! I "thanked" him for the lovely birthday and he whined that he was out running an errand related to my birthday and that was why he was late.

And what was this 90 minute errand? (Okay, I exaggerate a little... it was probably a 40 minute drive from work to the apartment.) He bought me a card, in which he did write a lovely note and not one, but two packs of TIC-TACS! The only saving grace is that they were the Cherry/Passion Fruit packs, not breath mints. And then he didn't have the nerve to hand them to me. He left them with the card at the bottom of the stairs. Instead of making dinner for everybody, I had a couple slices of cold pizza by myself.

Disappointed is not the word to describe my feelings. Pissed scratches the surface. And the thing is, I don't care how much money he spends on me. Again, Juno soundtrack. Not asking for a lot here. But you have to figure you're not going to walk into any music store that still happens to be standing and pick it up. You have to put a little effort in... special order it, or buy it online. Think ahead a little.

Here's the thing, too: Tom used to give wonderful gifts. They were well-thought out and lovely.

We haven't spoken about it. I probably won't bring it up, either. And as much as I'd like to, I just can't see handing him a couple boxes of Altoids for his birthday in a couple months.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Up the Hill

That's what we call it; the High Desert is "up the hill" from where I used to live. Of course, up the hill is really up and over a mountain range that doesn't go quite so far down on the other side. It's about a 50 mile drive from here to there. A lot of people make that drive, so I have expected that the morning commute would be something awful. However, we live far enough out and I start late enough in the morning that it's not been too bad.

We've been here a week... and what a week it's been, too. Here's how it all went down:

The appraiser required that a range and dishwasher were installed prior to close of escrow. This put us in a bit of a jam because we knew what we wanted, and planned to charge them at Home Depot to get the one-year-same-as-cash deal, but we couldn't buy them until after we closed or risk being kicked out of escrow. Dave said he probably had a range in storage. Tom and I bought a dishwasher with some of our make-the-house-our-own money. However, it couldn't be delivered until the end of this month. Home Depot actually lent us a dishwasher in the meantime (I love those guys!). Dave realized he did not have a range in storage, so he went to the Sears outlet and bought the cheapest one he could find. It turned out that they'd had a run on cheap ranges that weekend, so he spent a cool grand with the understanding that he could return it "if his wife didn't like it." Dave also borrowed his neighbor's truck and drove up the hill to install the range and put the dishwasher in place. A few days later he went up (again in the neighbor's truck) and pulled both pieces out.

Dave did get the seller to pay for the appliances, but getting them to sign that paper took so long that he requested an extension for close of escrow until yesterday, in which he stated that it was because of the delay in signing that form. They signed the extension within an hour!!! Ugh!

We freaked out at the extension because all of our moving plans were set for the end of last week. I was going to be off Thursday and we were both off Friday, and I'd arranged for three of my friends to help us get the first load of boxes moved on Friday. Saturday we had about a dozen people set to help us move, including my dad who was borrowing his old trailer from a friend. And about half the people who were signed up for last weekend would not be available this weekend.

Dave the realtor and Joe the lender had been positively haranguing the escrow company to get their stuff together. Dave and Joe are seemingly mild-mannered, however, I have a track to the inside story. Joanie, my coworker, is Dave's wife. So whenever things went haywire (which they did a lot at the end), Joanie would regale us with tales of Dave cursing loudly at his computer in the morning or late at night. And Joe, who I have learned is more tatted than I "could imagine" (and I'm the daughter of biker types, so this really makes me imagine, haha) told us that he was on the phone late one night with our underwriter.

"I think I might have... well, I'm pretty sure that I... uh... I might have used some four letter words. Yes, I'm pretty sure that I did. But I had a set of docs come back last Thursday for a loan that I had to put together with bubble gum and spit... and it went out after yours and yours should have sailed through!"

Wednesday of last week we finally got to sign loan docs (we were supposed to close the night before), but not the papers for escrow. Thursday brought the rest of the paperwork through. Tom was able to sign and fax these from work (no, I'm not sure why original signatures weren't required, but they weren't) and I dropped in (from work... no point in being off, right?) and signed them at the lender's office. As I was signing, the finance person noticed that the appliance money was listed as a credit, which is apparently not right. So I called Tom and caught him just before he wired the remainder of our down-payment. He increased the amount accordingly and sent it off.

We were told that night... and Friday... and Monday... and Tuesday... that we would be funding that day or first thing the next morning at the latest.

The next bit of drama was about those freaking appliances again. The seller was committed to paying us $750 for them, but they wouldn't just write out a check in our names for some reason. They wanted an invoice, so Dave sent over the receipt for the dishwasher, which was about $100 more than the check. No good. They wanted an unpaid invoice (what the hell is that?! we had to have the damn thing in before escrow could close, remember?!). So Dave went ahead and whited out the paid amounts and submitted that. Problem solved.

Tom's parents sent us a housewarming gift in the form of a check. A considerable part of that went to our new range.

In the meantime, Dave spoke with the seller's agent and pleaded our case. A deal was apparently struck that the other agent wouldn't come near the house over the weekend. Dave called that "agent speak for go ahead and move in, but I don't know anything." We are conservative adventurers, but this was a desperation moment. We went ahead and did it.

Later that weekend I spoke with Dave who told me about another client of his who had done the same thing over a month ago. Their original mortgage was sold right before it funded and everything got jacked up, so they were back in escrow with a new company. The upside... and to us it was miniscule... was that they were living in their house "rent free" for a couple of months. Dave said the wife only spoke to him in monotones. I'm pretty sure that information snagged about five hours of sleep from me that night.

Monday morning I was informed that escrow had also forgotten to include our first year of home insurance in the downpayment, so I had to run over and take care of that, too.

Mid-Tuesday we finally funded. Dave and Joe both said we were free to purchase the remaining appliances we needed, but we weren't taking any chances by charging even something small until it was all over.

Wednesday morning we recorded and it was finally done. That night we went to Home Depot and had a rather fun shopping spree. We bought a new dryer (just the gas version of our old one, which was a low-end GE), an over-the-range microwave/convection oven/warmer (ooh yeah), a bazillion blinds for the (21 freaking) windows that need them, paint, paint supplies, primer, a baby gate that we're hoping works at the top of the stairs (the railing is too low for most of 'em) and a new new front door lock (the first one was malfunctioning).

The other day we finally got the operating system and software reinstalled on our computer. Earlier this week our dishwasher finally arrived and so did the DirecTV man. Today we received the microwave and dryer, along with FIOS.

Tomorrow we'll get caught up on laundry, sand and prime some cabinets in the kitchen and hopefully get some of the blinds installed. The plan is to get all the blinds up and the cabinetry painted by the end of the weekend. Now, except for all the packed boxes and wide open views through our windows, this place is really beginning to feel like home.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I just can't say how much I love her. She is blooming and growing and learning at an amazing rate these days. Two days ago I tried to let her walk up to Grandma's door from the driveway. About 2/3 of the way there, she faked a fall(!!!), got up and dashed off in the other direction. This morning I told her she could walk to our car, but if she went anywhere else, I would pick her up and carry her. Girlfriend tried to walk right over the rail tie that edges the grass in front of our place. I helped her and, sure enough, she walked straight over to our car. Same thing at Grandma's; I told her she could walk all the way in, yada yada yada. She needed help getting up the driveway, which has a mild slope (for me... not so much when your legs are less than 12 inches long), and again needed a little help getting up the step to their porch. Once there, she went straight in and talked to the dogs. Like it's how she does things all the time. When I said I would have to leave, she took off for the door. I picked her up, smooched her and she was ready for Grandma.

We are in the last stages of limbo regarding the house. We're supposed to sign loan docs this week, but apparently they're not in yet. If we don't sign today or tomorrow, we'll have to wait to get the keys until Friday of next week. Hopefully it will be early Friday, because Tom took the day off to get some painting and moving done before everybody comes out on Saturday. And I had been planning on taking Thursday and Friday off to change locks and paint.

Today I painted one of the walls in Corey's bedroom in preparation for our move. I know our apartment manager will have to paint the whole place anyway, but I couldn't leave whatever-the-hell-that-was on the wall in good conscience. I may go ahead and paint the rest of it. We'll see.

Oh, and I got my hair all lopped off. The same woman who cut my hair nearly two years ago is the one who cut it the other day. She gave me the same haircut this time. Last time she cut my hair, I got knocked up a few weeks later. We'll see if the same thing happens this time (uh... seriously, don't hold your breath... I'll have to have her cut my hair again this summer if that's the goal). I have relegated myself to the back burner quite a bit since getting married. Not that anybody's asked me to or made me feel like I should. It's just what I do. When there are needs, I don't deal in wants. And the six months or so of our marriage were pretty tight financially. After that, I just didn't make a big deal about it... until I couldn't take it anymore. That's where I was the other day. I had told Tom I wanted my hair cut for my birthday. Then I decided that nobody should have to wait for special occasions to get their hair cut. Certainly the guys don't.

When I got to Elham, my stylist, I pulled my hair out of it's perpetual bun. She gasped and said, "Okay. We're going to do something completely different. We're going to give you... uh... style!"

Sure, some people would be offended. I cheered.

When it was all over and she had straightened my naturally curly hair and then curled it with a flat iron (my friend's husband was completely perplexed as to why she would do that, haha), she said, "Don't wait so long next time. Get a trim." Will do.

I'd post photos of the before and after, but the before is lost on my computer and the after is... well the hair is great. The face... ugh! Let's just say it's been easier to say no the past few days.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Is It Hot In Here Or Is It Just My Temper?

I cannot wait until the whole house-buying process is over. Not that it's been bad, mind ya, it's just that we can't do anything with the computer until we take care of the house. Truly, the process has been reasonably stress-free, all things considered.

Had one house sold before we put in an offer because it was too freaking awesome to wait for us.
Found an equally awesome home and got it.
Found a busted water main.
Seller fixed it (god I love our real estate agent!!).
Appraiser is requiring a stove and dishwasher be installed prior to the loan funding.
Sister has offered to loan us her dishwasher. It leaks, so we'll rent one if we have to instead.
Realtor is loaning us a range he happens to have in storage and he got us $700 toward appliances from the seller.

Dave says that for every problem there is a solution. We just have to find it. As he also says, home buying isn't stressful if everybody does their jobs. Did you hear that, TOM?!


We all have our jobs. One of Tom's is to deal with money from our investments. We've known for a month that we'll be signing all the docs about a week before closing. We knew a week ago that we'd have to have a cashier's check with the rest of our down payment. We knew by Wednesday that we should be ready early- to mid-next week. So please explain to me (anyone? anyone? do I hear crickets?!?) why he waited until yesterday morning to request the transfer?

So yesterday morning when I was making sure his check had hit our bank account, I was thrilled beyond belief to see that it was several thousand dollars more than he makes. I was even more thrilled to discover that our tax refund (thank you Madelyn and Corey) had come in a week sooner than we'd anticipated.

This meant that we wouldn't have to borrow a range or rent a dishwasher, we were going to buy our appliances this weekend. No worrying about credit card purchases throwing us out of escrow. Blam. Done. Resolved. Next?

What's that, Tom? As I was on the phone telling you the good news, you were on the computer transferring money? It's not going to be there until Wednesday or Thursday of next week? Even though transferring money from these accounts has always taken 3-4 business days, you thought it would be quicker this time?!? WHAT?!?

*deep breath* Ohmm.

So I got off the phone extremely quickly, cursed him with some very foul language, apologized to Nance (who was laughing... she knows the deal) and spent the next ten minutes reminding myself that it was all going to work out. Does my face seem red to you?

And while I'm on a (hopefully rare) Tom rant, I have to say one more thing. He's got a cold. Certain people should just have to go to a cabin or motel or something in times of illness to get away from those they love and who love them. It's a freaking cold, you didn't lose a limb! No fever, so all of your brain cells are in tact! So blow your freaking nose, would ya?! If you'd do that, you'd speed the healing process by ridding your body of the germy yuck and also you'd COUGH LESS. Plus, I don't want to eat with you while you're sniffle-cough-cough-sniffling. And no, I don't want you to make dinner.

*sigh* Ohmm.

Monday, March 02, 2009

I Had It Coming

... and I knew it, too! I called it 14 years ago. You see, Corey was the model baby. Born 24 minutes past his due date, learned to latch on the first time he tried it, mild case of jaundice, but nothing else to worry a mom throughout his infancy. The toddler years were peachy-keen, too. If he was heading toward something he shouldn't, I just turned him around. If he had his hands on something I didn't want him to have, I simply traded for something else. Of course, the past 10 years have been a roller coaster that hasn't always been exciting in a way one would like.

Madelyn, however...

Tom says she gets it from me.

I say he's absolutely right. I have an ability to focus on a goal and achieve it, big or small.

Tom says that's not what he's talking about.

Let's go back a little way, shall we? Not too far, because she's only 10 months old (oh alright... and a half). Tummy time is the catch phrase used to remind parents of newborns that babies still need to practice being on their tummies, even though they shouldn't sleep that way. Tom is a believer in practicing... anything. So Mad had lots of tummy time. In the beginning, she spent the whole time (a minute or so) yelling and trying to lift her head as far away from the floor as possible.

It has always been simple to tell that Mad's learning something new. Why? Well, because she always combines the learning process with lots of yelling.

Learning to roll over? Aaaaaahh! Now the other way? Aahh! (There's a learning curve, apparently.)

Crawling? Sitting up? Cruising? Walking? Yelling.

She's learning to talk now, so the yells are coming out in different ways. But for a girl who was born with a collapsed lung, she never was a quiet one. And hanging out at Papa's house all day isn't making her any quieter. It's like they're related or something (sort of a joke, sort of serious here... of course he's my dad, but he and I have no blood between us).

This weekend Madelyn grabbed my lip balm. I was holding her and the deal (I thought she understood) was that she could hold it as long as she was in my lap. "No deal!" she declared with loud bawling yells and lots of tears. I believe my daughter... six weeks from her first birthday... has had her first temper tantrum!

Yesterday evening we took her outside to enjoy the great weather before things cool off and the rain comes back. She walked back and forth on the sidewalk for nearly 45 minutes. When there was more falling than walking and we realized dinner time was upon us, I merely suggested that we go inside. "No deal!" she howled again. Tom decided to try things in a way I'm surprised I didn't come up with... he would let her walk in by herself instead of me picking her up.

Ten minutes later we were dragging a yowling, tear-drenched baby into the house. I believe she has had two temper tantrums!

I know I couldn't have handled tantrums from Corey back when I predicted that a second child of mine wouldn't be so easily managed. I was nearly a wee babe myself, so I am grateful that he didn't have them. And I'm so grateful to have someone to share Madelyn's with since she is clearly about to give us a real run for our money.

My latest goal? Not laughing while she's yelling.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...