Sunday, June 29, 2008

House Buying Hell

After weeks of inundating you, my lovely readers, to the ups and downs of our housing search, I apologize for being so quiet on the subject over the last couple of weeks. I left off with this post and have been waiting (not so) patiently to see what would happen with House #3.

The contractor was able to look at the house last weekend and gave us an estimate of $17000 to replace the current siding with vinyl siding and redo both bathrooms. The bathrooms need more work than we originally thought. We had (incorrectly) assumed that just the tub surrounds needed replacing along with the ceiling finished in the downstairs bathroom. Apparently the leaks had spread a bit further and all of the sheetrock in both bathrooms needs replacing. Alrightly then.

This estimate puts the house over our budget, with some repairs still needing to be done on the deck in order to pass inspection. The contractor did state that we could get by with simply replacing the couple areas of bad siding with new pieces and then scraping, priming, and painting the existing siding. For the most part, the siding is in good condition, it just doesn't look like it. When it has been previously painted no one ever took the time to prime the siding before painting, thus contributing to the ever-peeling paint. If we take this option, the price falls back within our budget. This contractor can supposedly get the work done by the end of July (which I take to mean he will really have it finished mid-to-late August. No offense contractors out there, but previous experience has led me to believe that very rarely are any contracting jobs finished on time). The repairs to the deck we should be able to do ourselves. There are a few boards that need replacing and, because of the height of the deck, the railings need to be redone. Right now they are open railings (and not very sturdy ones) with nothing between the railing and the deck. That area needs to be secured with either a slatted railing or lattice-work to ensure than no one can fall from under the railing. I can do that. Great, problems solved. Let's move ahead.

Mr. Irony and I want to get the purchase agreement signed and lock up this house. Mr. Seller, however, is now backpedaling. He seems to think that we are going to commission these repairs, let the contractor finish, and then back out of the deal sticking him with the repair bills. So he would like us to put down a sizable deposit, plus extra money into an escrow account which he would get to keep if we back out. Hello! WTH?!?! I don't know if he just doesn't get it that ANYONE he sells this house to (other than a real estate "flipper") is going to have to have these repairs done prior to closing, or the house won't pass inspection and the mortgage will not go through! I know the house was a rental but why weren't things taken care of before it got to this point?

We want this house. Once we have the basement finished it will be quite roomy with around 2500 square feet (much more than we ever thought we'd be able to afford). It is within walking distance of the schools and biking distance from the pool. We have no intentions of backing out on this, especially because we are down to the wire now on finding a home. I really do not want to have to move into Mr. Irony's town home and then move again into our house. This creates all sorts of problems that I'd rather not think about right now.

Mr. Irony and the realtor are going to walk through the home today and list any possible items that may not pass inspection. Following this our realtor is going to talk with Mr. Seller again and try to get him to be a bit more reasonable. Then, hopefully, we will get the initial offer signed and be able to move forward. Every day that Mr. Seller delays us puts us further behind on the repairs.

We never, ever, had any idea that finding a house was going to be this problematic. We both, naively maybe, thought we would look at houses, put in an offer on one or two, close on a home, and move. I never thought that the market in this city would be as "hot" as it is and that we would be competing for homes. I never realized how many "jerky" people there are out there. I am getting extremely frustrated with the whole process. If rent for houses was not so high in this area I would seriously considering giving up for now and just finding a rental. We will not give up, though. Not unless Mr. Seller continues to jerk us around. He wants to sell, he's complaining because he wants this deal done, so I don't understand why he keeps putting up little roadblocks. Considering that the man built this house over twenty years ago, he's going to make a considerable amount of money on this sale. Just sell it to us already!

On a lighter note, apparently the sellers for the last house we offered on irritated most potential buyers with their "we're waiting to compare all offers and choose the highest one" attitude, as the house is still on the market. I guess we weren't the only ones that chose to let our offers expire and not deal with them. Petty of me, I know. But I still think "HAH!"

Stayed tuned for the next episode of "House Buying Hell".

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Big Read 100 List

The following list was reprinted from Christina's blog. I've recently become a member of GoodReads and thought this list was interesting. How many have you read?

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top
100 books they’ve printed.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list in your own journal.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible (I've read some)
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen

36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’ Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73.The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Thank You, Thank You!

My heart is still singing! I don't have to let the kids go! I know it is rather selfish of me, but I'm not apologizing. I was so scared and worried about sending them into a situation I knew nothing about in a home I'd never visited with a woman I'd only met twice for about 10 minutes each visit. I am so thankful right now I could cry out of happiness. The hard part is that I can't tell anyone just yet as Mr. Ex wants to tell all of the children himself when they can all be on the phone together. This afternoon when we go visit family will be hard as everyone will be getting ready to tell them goodbye and I will know that they're not leaving! Actress is visiting her aunt this weekend and won't be home until later today so my lips must remain sealed until then.

I did tell my mom yesterday. I know that this has been eating at her almost as much as it has been me. I don't think it's going to far to say that she hates Mr. Ex and the idea of her grandchildren being that far away with this man and an unknown woman was bothering her quite extensively. The only thing she said to me was to caution me that he may want to move in with us. My response? Amazement and laughter that she would even think it. Yes, Mr. Ex and I get along just fine but I'm not quite that forgiving. I must remember that she does not yet know Mr. Irony and I are house-shopping together (she still has not acknowledged even meeting him!).

Mr. Ex's sister called yesterday on the behalf of Mr. Ex to let me know that it was nothing I did, but rather, the relationship has been falling apart for a while now. Apparently there were all sorts of issues, not that it's any of my business. Mr. Ex will be living with his sister and her family until he gets back on his feet. She also wanted me to know that the kids are welcome there with him anytime and that she and her family are looking forward to the kids being there quite often. I hope this goes well. We'll see. Mr. Ex's family lives for drama so the only guarantee is that nothing ever goes smoothly with them. Oh, the stories I could write about my life with them!

I hope, once we get moved, that we can adjust somewhat smoothly into the new visitation arrangements. I hope that this will be best for the kids and that Mr. Ex can get himself back on track and figure out where he wants to go in life. I hope he figures out that money does not make for self-fulfillment and happiness. I truly want him to become a better dad to his children. I want him to find someone that he can live happily and comfortably with as his partner. (That certainly isn't me!). I just want whomever he finds down the road to be someone whom I can get along with and feel friendly toward.

I'm not extremely religious. Mr. Ex's family is, (I used to be) and they would say this is part of God's plan to bring his prodigal son back into the fold. Whether or not that's true, whether or not it was karma, I don't know, some of both perhaps? I do find it interesting that this glorious news came on the summer solstice. Coincidence? I'm certainly not the one to say. I'm just thankful for the news. Thankful for the burden that was on my heart to be lifted and thrown away. Thankful that I can now share my babies with their dad rather than be torn from them.

Thanks to all of you for your support when I believed them to be leaving me for six weeks. Thanks to all of your well wishes now that they're staying put. Thanks to all of you for reading my sometimes rambling posts! Thanks for the sense of community that you give me!

Happy Sunday ya'll! Let's go enjoy the day!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Confusion and WTH?!?

I just received a phone call from Mr. Ex. It seems my words may possibly come back to haunt me.

He didn't say much, just that the kids are not to come to his home. It seems his home is not going to be his home any longer. All he did say was that he is moving to the city that we are moving to shortly. He asked me not to tell the kids; he wants to be the one to do it. I received no explanation, just a short 2 minute phone call wherein he stated the kids were not to come, he was moving back, don't tell them he wanted to, and he'd call later to explain everything. Being the generous (stupid?) soul that I am, I of course offered any and all help that I could provide for him. Of course now my head is spinning wondering what the holy heck is going on down there?!?

Is this karma? I don't want a bad life for him. It breaks my heart to think that this relationship he and Ms. Fiancee have didn't last. I know for a fact that it didn't start with honesty and that tends to be a killer in a relationship. I sincerely hope that my previous conversation with him and Ms. Fiancee didn't contribute to this. I want someone steady and stable for him. Someone that will truly like and eventually love our children. I'm lucky enough to have found someone like that, I want that for Mr. Ex too.

This means even more changes for us this coming year. For certain it means that the final divorce papers that were to be submitted to the court in two weeks will have to be rewritten to reflect visitation schedule changes. I can only assume that if we are going to be in the same state, the same city even, that he will want to go to an every other weekend type of schedule. I hope this means that he will be an active dad now. The kind of dad who goes to baseball games, school concerts, and hangs out with his kids. I want that for him and I want that for our children.

It will be interesting, though, to see how he and Mr. Irony get along. They have a few similarities but for the most part are very different people.

All I know right now is that my heart is singing because I DON'T HAVE TO MISS SIX WEEKS OF THEIR LIVES!!! (Sorry for the internet shouting but I'm so relieved!) I swear to you, this is how life was with Mr. Ex. Just when you thought everything was all planned, something happened to wipe it all out. It was a never ending roller coaster. Looks like the roller coaster is still going! I don't like these up-and-downs, I prefer a steady course because all of this drama tends to really wear out a person's soul.

Must have coffee now. This all happened without one drop of caffeine in my system!

Friday, June 20, 2008

A New Journey

A couple of weeks ago I applied for a position to blog about my journey into debt reduction. With all of the changes happening in my life this year I decided that this was also a good time to get a clear picture of my financial situation. I've been reading several personal finance blogs and have been inspired to start down the path of debt reduction.

Well, after some careful introspection I decided that writing about this for someone else was not right for me. I withdrew my application and have started my own personal finance blog. I was truly stumped as to what to title the blog. The only thing that kept popping into my mind was an irreverent homage to one of my favorite TV shows. Thus was born ....

CelticBuffy - Debt Slayer?

Not very original, I admit. Mr. Irony and my sister both laughed. I thought "Hey, if my title can bring you a good laugh, then I'm all for it". I'm not serious, I'm not an expert. I'm just me, a little goofy, a little whimsical, why not have a goofy title? The question mark is because I'm not sure yet if I can slay all of this debt. I'm not even sure how much it is! I admit to having a fear of finances.

I hope you'll follow me on this journey into debt reduction. I can't promise you that it will be easy (I know it won't!), I can't promise that it will move quickly, I can't even promise you that I will make it to being debt free; but I can promise you that it will be honest and interesting and, hopefully, make you laugh at my mistakes. Maybe it will even inspire you to start your own debt reduction plan. I'm looking forward to hearing your comments!

Not About Houses, I Promise!

There's a subject that's been buzzing in my brain this past week. A subject that my mind vehemently swats away. I don't want to face it. I don't want to think about it. I don't want to realize that it's going to happen. I have to start preparing myself for the reality that it's happening and happening soon.

Next week I have to let my children go to their dad's house over 1300 miles away from me. Yes, I did have to do this last summer. Last summer was for 2 1/2 weeks and my ex was single. Everything was fine. I managed. They had fun. I even drove to his place to pick them up and we all hung out for a couple of days. No problem.

What's different this year? Everything. Mr. Ex has since moved in with a woman that he knew for all of a couple weeks before proposing to her. A woman who is older than he is (not that it matters, really) a woman who has no children of her own but wants them. A woman who only has Mr. Ex's version of the truth on everything. She doesn't even know why we are really getting divorced. He told her it's because we both realized that we were better off as friends (true but missing a pretty major sticking point in marriage - fidelity). I'm fine with the fact that he has someone else. He needs it. He does not do well on his own. What bothers me is that I don't know this woman and I have to let my children go live with her and Mr. Ex for SIX weeks! I know I'm lucky, he could have asked for the entire summer.

Ms. Fiancee and I have not gotten off to a good start. For starters I have had a couple of phones calls from her regarding the divorce. After the last one I told Mr. Ex that I am divorcing him, not her, and any further conversations are to be between him and me. If he doesn't understand something that's fine but then he needs to talk to me about it, not her. After these phone calls I wind up feeling attacked when I have done nothing wrong. I know that she doesn't have the full truth about our situation. I feel for her. I really hope that he has changed and they can make it work. I know that she will watch out for my kids when they are there. I know she will be nice to them. But I also have (unreasonable?) worries that she will push Mr. Ex to fight for full physical custody of the kids. There have already been comments made on Mr. Ex's part as to thinking that one or more of the children will ask to go live with them. That tears me apart. Mr. Ex has been in and out of our lives for the past five years (2 of them divorcing) and has not been constant in their lives at all. Even his phone calls are inconsistent and may go up to three weeks without speaking to them. I know that Ms. Fiancee wants children and is at an age where that may not happen for them. So there it is - my paranoid worries- that after this visit they will decide to go to court for the kids. Mr. Ex assures me that they do not plan that, but I have learned not to trust him.

Don't get me wrong. I get along pretty well with Mr. Ex. I wish him well in his new life and relationship. I want to see him happy and to see him get things together. I accept that there are aspects about him that will never change and I can accept him as he is. As long as I'm not married to him. When other people stay out of it, we get along just fine. For a while there, we were each other's support system as I got back into dating and he was trying to figure out where his life was going. I'm not worried that the kids will be mistreated or ignored or anything like that.

I am worried about the kids having to go to a new house in a new city (Mr. Ex moved to a new city for Ms. Fiancee) in a completely new situation. I am worried about how things will go. Anime doesn't want to go at all. She is miffed that she has to break up her summers, thus preventing her from getting a summer job. She is not close to her dad. Actress is "daddy's girl" and is thrilled. (Bless her heart. The sweet child actually told me last week that, although she's excited to go stay with her dad, I shouldn't worry because she wants to live with me because girls need their mommies. Waah! I still tear up!) Action just takes things as they come and goes back and forth between being excited and being upset because he has to miss the majority of the baseball season. Action is going through some behavior problems lately and I hope they won't be a problem while he's at his dad's. After our move he will be going to see a counselor to help him learn how to work through his emotions.

I'm worried how they will handle the difference between the two households. I am laid-back and more of a go with the flow person. When faced with the choice of clean up the house or all of us go to the local pool? I choose the pool. The chores will always be there. I'm about doing things, projects, music, playing games. I'm not a "things" person. Mr. Ex is. We have different value systems. I don't make a lot of money but Ms. Fiancee does. I worry that the kids will get the "Disney" experience and not want to come home. I worry that "the rules" will be very different in dad's new home and the kids will get in trouble. I worry that they will be too much for two people who are not used to having three very active and talkative children around the house. I worry, plain and simple.

I know that when it's all said and done, everything will be okay. I have to believe that. I know that I have to let go of my anger that Mr. Ex chose to live so far away with a woman he had only known for a short period of time. He was faced with the choice of moving for employment and it angers me that when he did have the choice of moving to the city that we are moving to, he chose a new relationship over being around for his kids. There. I said it. He chose her over our kids and then talks about how much he misses them and it just pisses me off. If you miss your children and truly desire to be part of their life then you go where they are, especially when you have that opportunity.

I know this post has rambled. That's the way my thoughts are going. I have purposely not talked much about my ex on this blog. The story of our life together would make a great book and sometimes even I wonder if we truly lived through all that we did. I try not to talk about him much because of the worry that he would find this blog. It would make him angry because my version of our life together is much different than his version of our life together.

Anyway, I have to trust in God and karma that the six weeks will go okay and that the kids will be happy to come back home, even if it is a new home and a new life. But, oh, how it rips my heart apart to have to let them go. I don't even have the words to describe the pain. But I will let them go next week, we will get through. Hopefully we'll all be a little bit stronger from this experience.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

No More Houses Please!

I typed this post once today and thought it was fairly good. Alas, that post is no more and I will begin anew.

I have spent two days and much time on the web researching and looking at houses since the last house hunting update. The first time out since "flood zone house" produced a winner! It had everything we were looking for plus a water purification system for drinking water! The basement was a walk-out into the backyard that would eliminate the worries of dog allergies as AllergyDog could live in the downstairs with easy access to the backyard and Actress's bedroom (her dog). There was even a deck off the master bedroom for drinking our coffee while soaking in the morning sun. It was so right, so perfect, so cute! Unfortunately we weren't the only people who felt that way.

We made an offer just slightly below asking price with a deadline of noon the next day. Our realtor called that evening to inform us that the sellers had told their realtor that they would make no decisions until 3 days past our deadline. What they said was that they planned to take a look at all of the offers on the day of THEIR choosing and accept the highest offer. WTF?!?! I was livid! That's not how the system is set to work. If that's how you want to sell your home then you have an AUCTION! Highest bidder wins. If you're not going to follow the rules then don't play the game people! Feeling highly miffed (well I was anyway) we chose to let our offer expire. I sincerely hope that when their chosen day arrived they had no offers to choose from! Not very nice of me, I know but dang it! they didn't even give us a chance to negotiate. In our tiny little corner of the world, the housing recession is just something we read about in the papers and on the web. It's not the reality here. Our reality is that houses are selling quickly and there's almost always a sucker who will offer more than the asking price to guarantee that they get the house.

After a couple days of pouting and scouring the realty websites I ventured to the big city for another round of house walk-throughs.

*House number one was in need of far too much repair.

*House number two was hiding water damage in the foundation.

And house number three you ask? Well...

*House number three was just right!


House number three wasn't even officially on the market yet. Our realtor knew the owner and had asked to show it to us pronto. It was a rental that they had decided to sell. House number three was in the suburb that we really want to be in. It had size! Oh, be still my heart...the square footage it would have when the basement was finished (almost 2500!)! The kitchen wasn't a shoebox, the bathrooms weren't closets, the basement was a WALK-OUT (eliminating the problem of AllergyDog). The family room opened up into the backyard and was huge! It could easily be renovated into two bedrooms for my girls or one very large room that the girls could share. Mr. Irony's daughter could have her own hidey-hole on her visits home from college. Mr. Irony could have a study. Action would have lots of room in his bedroom. It even had a sunroom (mine! I claim it right now!) off the garage.

Are you waiting for the "but"? I know you are. Well here it is...

The siding and the tub surrounds in both bathrooms, as well as the basement bathroom ceiling, must be replaced prior to closing on the home in order to qualify for the mortgage. That doesn't sound so bad, does it? No, I didn't think so either. Here's where the problem is. It's summer. Contractors are very busy right now. Getting someone in there to get the work completed, and then getting it inspected so that we could close before mid-August, may be a major problem. The owner's nephew is a local contractor (and apparently quite a favored one as the realtor and the mortgage broker both showered him with compliments) and he has agreed to take a look at the repairs needed this weekend and work up an estimate. But (there's that word again!) he would definitely not be able to do the repairs for another three weeks or more.

Normally this wouldn't be such a big deal but I really had my heart set on moving before the kids come back from their dad's at the beginning of August. I wanted us to have a chance to settle in before starting school and possibly be able to meet some of the neighborhood kids so that the first day in a new school would be a little less traumatic. Also the "cheap" side of me didn't want to have to pay rent for August. I'm trying not to despair, though. It will all work out I know. If worst comes to worst, we put everything in storage and move in to Mr. Irony's apartment for a couple of weeks. Hopefully it won't come to that though (his place is too small for six of us and pets are prohibited). I'm trying not to get my hopes up on this house but I have to admit to already thinking of color schemes and types of flooring, not to mention which wall would best showcase the piano. :)

Keep your fingers crossed and send me some good karma please! Hopefully we'll have a better handle on what will happen by Tuesday of next week.

Happy lattes to you! I'm making mine a caramel one.

Ecto ate my posts

I know that I've neglected my computer lately. The number of blog posts in my reader more than proved that (612 at its highest). Since I actually had time at home today I typed up and saved two posts using Ecto, as my internet was down. Happily the net came back up not too long ago and I thought I was publishing my saved posts. Apparently I was not for they are gone. Lost somewhere in the blogosphere as they are definitely no where to be found on my computer. Bear with me please as I attempt to recreate what was already written. :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

House hunting update

Wow has this week flown! I've had the best of intentions to sit down and write but have either been on the run or ready to fall into bed. My blog reader has reached high into the count of hundreds of posts waiting to be read.

We have been to the big city on two separate days this week. One day was spent looking at houses (one for the second time). The one we liked was a decent sized bungalow-style. Everything was looking good. We liked the house. It was within walking distance of an elementary school. There were even two sump pumps and a radon removal system. It was decided to make an offer as houses in our price range are starting to move fairly quickly. Mr. Irony went in to the
realtor's office to make the offer and (yep, you guessed it...a problem) upon some further research by the realtor it was discovered that the house is on the edge of the city's flood zone. Okay, not a problem. We knew water was not a problem in the basement because we'd been there twice and with the amount of rain the city's seen in the last month, if there was a problem we'd have seen it by now.

Mr. Irony and the realtor did a bit more searching, though, because these two observant people remembered hearing some rumor about the city planning to update the current flood zones. Herein lies the rub. What the house was zoned now would have cost us about $300-$400 a year extra in flood insurance, but it still would have been fairly easy to sell down the road. However, if the city passes the newly proposed flood zone designations the rating for this house would change and the flood insurance would jump to a minimum of $1000 per year. This would make it significantly harder to sell down the road. offer was made and we are back to square one. Well, maybe square two since Mr. Irony is now fairly well versed on the city's flood zones and we will be avoiding any houses that fall into the potential new flood zones.

The second trip to the city entailed a job interview. It would be doing what I just resigned from, albeit with a twist. Part of the job would be at a public school (wasn't told where, just asked was I okay with driving) and one to two days per week would be at the school for children with severe disabilities. The position would be four days per week, possibly five. I was honest about my reasons for moving and answered the questions to the best of my abilities. I think I did a pretty good job, but who knows. They either liked me or they didn't and I'm not to worried one way or the other. I was told that it will be a couple of weeks, at least, before I'd hear anything as they are still in contract negotiations with the public school. It would be nice because the family insurance rate was actually affordable! We'll see. Like I said, if they offer it I'm fine with that and if they don't? Well, I'm fine with that too.

I'm still working on adding Blogger's new blog roll feature. I had everyone almost transferred over last night and the stupid computer decided that it needed to shut down at that point, thus wiping out everything I had done. Thanks for the comments and emails, readers! I will get you on there!

I'm feeling the need for caffeine so I'm off to brew a pot of coffee. I'm on a packing "kick" right now and mustn't stop for too long or I'll lose that boxing/packing mojo!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Updating my "Linky List"

Blogger has added a new blog roll feature so I'm moving my "Linky List" into their blog roll. If you're a subscriber and/or regular reader that isn't on my list and would like to be, leave me a comment with a link to your blog and I'll get you added on!

Update: If you've commented more than once previously I will be adding you to the blog roll.

Cooking Don'ts 101

America's worst cook? I'm close but not quite there yet. Anyone who knows me knows that cooking is generally not my idea of a fun time. It was not something I had to learn growing up. I did bake a lot but never learned the fine art of making a meal. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that the first time I ever made a meal I forgot to put the tuna in the tuna casserole!

Marrying young and moving far away from family required me to learn on my own. I can't say it was something I picked up easily. With it being just the two of us we were pretty content to munch and snack with no actual "sit-down" family meals. The first "sit-down" dinner I ever had to cook was for our first Thanksgiving. Mr. Ex's grandparents were flying out to visit and being young and foolish, I wanted to impress them with a big Thanksgiving spread.

The menu included turkey (of course), mashed potatoes & gravy, scalloped corn, green beans w/french fried onions, cranberries, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie w/real whipped cream and maybe a couple of other items but memory fails me on those. The trouble started with the fact that I had never cooked a turkey before (neither had Mr. Ex) and we didn't read the instructions (pre-internet days). Combined with the fact that I had to work the early shift at the restaurant and Mr. Ex had to pick up the grandparents at the airport, this was indeed a good recipe for culinary disaster.

So...around 4:00 AM (had to leave for work at 4:30 AM) I pulled the turkey out of the sink of water that it had been sitting in overnight and didn't think a thing about it still being pretty much frozen. I placed it in the pan and stuck it in the oven with the temp around 150 degrees. Now I don't remember after all of these years just why I chose that low temperature but I did. I headed off to work my shift with thoughts of moist juicy turkey dancing in my head. Mr. Ex eventually headed off to the airport naively assuming also that we would all come home to an apartment filled with the smell of yummy turkey. Eventually my shift ended and we all arrived home eagerly anticipating Thanksgiving dinner. After all, the turkey had been in the oven for about 10 hours by now.

Lo and behold, the turkey was not done! How could that be?! Surely ten hours was plenty of time to cook a turkey! Well I can laugh now because I now know that a frozen turkey will not cook at that temperature. It will however defrost and scare you enough into throwing it away for fear of making everyone sick with your improper meat handling techniques! So our first Thanksgiving dinner consisted of most of the menu items, just no turkey. Thankfully Mr. Ex's grandmother stepped in and supervised the rest of the cooking so that the meal was indeed edible!

I can say now that I can cook a good turkey. But I prefer not too. I'll leave that to people who know what they're doing! I do, however, make a mean cup of coffee! :)

“This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a contest sponsored by the American Egg Board.”

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I've been looking for some motivation to push me to exercise and cut out the "extra" from my diet. Diva over at DomesticDiva has presented my with a great motivator. She is sponsoring the "Domestic Diva's 30 Day Challenge". The winner receives the cash pot and a Senseo Coffee Maker. :)

Skip on over for the details & join me in the challenge! If you're competing join me on weightlosswars.

***Don't forget! Sunshine's "Tattoo Party" contest ends at midnight central time tonight! Tune in tomorrow for my personal tattoo story!

The Story Behind My Ink

This is my first tattoo. I went with a place easily covered (lower back) because it is somewhat of a private thing for me. When I do show it to people, their eyes are first drawn to the rose. Then they drift down to the years and get the "WTF!?!" look on their faces. What do they mean? Why would you get years tattooed on your body!? Well...this is why.

My grandmother was always the one I considered "the rock" in my life. I had a special bond with her that I still don't completely understand. When she passed away in 2005 it sent me on a downward spiral of depression and was (to me) the beginning of 2 1/2 years of my private hell.

Fast forward to Spring 2007 . I had started divorce proceedings (finally, after a year of knowing we were going to divorce) and was really feeling the need to do something for me. I had long wanted a tattoo but never could quite decide what I would get. I was really taking stock of life life at that point and determining where I was, where I wanted to be, and what I wanted from life. I decided that since a tattoo is a forever thing it needed to be something of extreme importance to me. Since the memory of my grandmother still guides my choices, I decided to honor her memory with my tattoo. The rose was her favorite flower, especially in full bloom. I chose to add the years of her birth and death as my living memorial to that woman whose life still guides my path. It is also my permanent reminder that time flies and you need to make life what YOU want it, not what others want for you.

When I was deciding whether or not to get a tattoo a friend told me that when you get your first one you will either not like it or you will start planning for your next tattoo because you love it that much. I guess I fall in the latter category. I would love to get another tattoo but still haven't found one that will be symbolic for me. I'd love to splurge and have a tattoo done by the boys of "Miami Ink". But that's a whole other post! :)

Now take your cup-a joe and skip on over to Sunshine's to read everyone else's stories!

Monday, June 2, 2008

I Got Inked!

The contest is up and running over at Sunshine's. Pop over and match the tattoo with the blogger. Her contest runs Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday will bring the story behind our tattoo's. You can check here for my story and Sunshine's for links to each participating blogger's tattoo story. ( and yes, it is 12:27 am my time....I've obviously had way too much coffee to still be up at this time of night!)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

How Cheeky!

Today's marks the "opening" day for Green and Clean Mom. Check out their new site and subscribe for a chance to win a reuseable bag from! has also donated $100 in e-certificates. They are going green and you've got to love that!

Yesterday Action and I went to the big city for a birthday party of a kindergarten pal of Action's. This pal moved to the big city last year and we have managed to stay in touch. The 6 seven-year-olds spent the afternoon at a science discovery center, watched a movie on sharks at the cinedome theater, and finished up with cake, presents, and play at a local park. The sun was shining and it was a great afternoon. Everything went very smoothly except for one little glitch that I certainly could not have foreseen.

The last stop of the party was at a local park with a wonderful picnic area. After cake and presents the boys ran off to play and I followed with my trusty camera to work on taking action shots. I hadn't gone far before my friend S. (the mom of the birthday boy) ran up behind me and whispered "Buffy, the back of your pants are ripped!". ACK! Sure enough, when I reached behind me I could feel the rip running right up the back of my denim capri's. Of course this was a day that I was not wearing a long t-shirt but instead a waist-length "dressy" tee. I couldn't even pull my shirt down far enough to cover the rip!

I quietly and quickly headed off to my car where luckily Anime had left her spring jacket in the trunk. After wrapping that securely around my waist I drove off to the nearest store (love Target!). Before entering Target I made sure the jacket was tugged far enough down to cover my derriere! I think that was the shortest amount of time I've ever spent in Target. I beelined it straight to the women's section, grabbed a pair of olive green capri's in my size, and buzzed straight to the checkout line. After purchase I slipped into the rest room and changed. I could not believe the size of the rip in my denim capri's! Apparently I must have snagged the pants in the middle of the right-hand side and from there they split over to the middle seam (you know, the one that runs right up the middle of your behind!) and continued to split and fray straight up! Oh, those poor people at the park who were exposed to the majority of my right but-cheek! I hope their eyes are recovered by now!

Surprisingly I was not as embarrassed as one might think. I found it pretty funny and have enjoyed sharing and laughing about it with various family members so far. Hope you have a good laugh too!

Following this little escapade we went to pick up Mr. Irony. Action needed a haircut and was talked down from shaving his head completely bald to shaving it with a #2 razor. It amazes me how this boy always wants the shortest cut he can get. He loves military style haircuts. Unfortunately his hair grows so fast that I could spend a small fortune keeping his hair in military precision cuts. So we tend to go short, let it grow out for 4-5 weeks and then cut it short again. Dinner was Mexican (yum!) and we set out for the drive back home after dropping Mr. Irony at his home.

All in all it was a good day. Unfortunately it was followed by a night of illness as Action had to sleep with a bucket on the floor by the sofa. Not sure if he picked up a virus or ate something that disagreed with him. He seems to be over it now and is back to his ever-active self.

We're off to the lake now so that we can catch up with some family over coffee on the beach. Take your favorite brew with you and go enjoy this sunny day!