Friday, December 29, 2006

Icon Insanity

'Tis the season for Santa...and the Easter Bunny...and the Tooth Fairy....and other nonsense like that.

This month has been a little challenging. Not so much because we bought a house and had the whole flood insurance fiasco to deal with. Not so much because my MIL keeps telling people, "They have a TON of space!" and we only have an 1,100 square foot house. It's empty, for goodness sake. Of course it looks like we have a ton of space! (I'm a little concerned people - a.k.a. his family - are going to try to buy things for us or give us stuff before we've had a chance to decide what our collective style is.)

No, the challenge, once again has been Santa. And this post was actually prompted by The Tooth Fairy but one myth at a time.

SPOILER: If you happen to be a believer in the "magic of Santa" and all these other "creatures," please leave now before I dash your beliefs on the ground and run over it with my car.

You see, earlier this month I took Daughter to get her hair done. I waited for her and watched as she talked with everyone around her. One woman - who I do not see regularly at the salon - said something to her that prompted Daughter to run to me. "Mommy, mommy! Can I go see Santa?!"

I looked at her, my eyes bugging out, then I looked up at the grinning culprit and asked her, "What IS your problem?!" Everyone laughed but you best believe I was not thrilled.

You see if you have not guessed by now, let me make myself perfectly clear: I DO NOT TEACH SANTA TO MY CHILDREN.

To make matters worse, the woman sitting next to me was waiting with her daughters. They were like 9 and 12 years old. She leans on her knee as she watches Daughter and says, "What's wrong?"

"I don't lie to my children."

"Ohhhh! Stop. Let's stop there." She looks back at her daughter and loudly whispers to me, "We still believe."

I just smile at her. It's not my problem, I want to say. Blame that grinning woman over there who thought it cute to tell my Daughter to come ask me to take her to see Santa. I only tell Daughter, "Daughter, daughter. What? What are you talking about? Don't you need to go back and get your hair done? We'll talk later."

It's quite simple actually. The world is full of marvelous things. Wondrous things. Things we don't understand. They are still discovering creatures under the sea. Do we need to make stuff up to give kids magic? I say no. As the woman sitting next to me continues to talk, I tell her something to this effect as I remind her that our Savior is supposed to be the focus. Helping others and being with family - that's part of the joy of this time. That is what I teach my babies. After all, have you seen the face of a kid who found out the truth after sincerely believing? Pretty heartwrenching. I saw it a couple of years ago when Husband's family thought it cute to do that Santa crap though I never gave them any indication that that was how I rolled. (Aside: Families. Take your cue from the parents. Please. Don't try to stuff your beliefs and fantasies down a kid's throat that YOU did not give birth to or adopt or what have you. You are just making work for the parents who have to live with this. It's NOT funny.)

So the in-laws tried to threaten Son with, "You'd better be good or Santa won't bring you anything." Ugh! I did not tell them to say such things. I had never planned to discuss the Santa thing until I felt I had to and now I had to. "Son, Christmas is about Jesus' birthday. It's about us celebrating the fact that God gave us a way out of our sins. It's about family and helping others. The presents you get? Mommy and daddy and other family members buy them because we love you and God gave us the ability to take care of you in this way. This is Christmas. Santa is just the face some people choose to put on it but he is not real. The people in the malls are in costume." He was sad. He wanted to believe. And the question was do I dash his faith now or later?

Mind you, I was not raised not to believe in Santa nor did anyone try to make it like he was real. I don't know how to explain it. My parents managed to make the time magical anyway because every Christmas I'd see those presents and wonder where the heck they came from. Could there be a Santa? But we don't have a chimney. Did my parents leave the door unlocked? Isn't that dangerous? Eventually I concluded it couldn't be and eventually I figured out how they were sneaking the presents in. That part of the mystery died and yes, that was too bad but I had years of fun trying to figure out how they did it because it HAD to be them. That much I knew. And my kids? Well, we wrap some stuff, put them under the tree and then hold on to some stuff to pull out after they go to sleep. They have been amazed at the overnight growth of the presents every year. I can imagine the thrill my parents got just sneaking around like that and now I get to do it for my own. I love it. This is Christmas to me. I love the lights. I love the cookies. I love how everyone is home a lot more. I love the kids bugging me to buy stuff as I ignore them and then seeing them so happy to get whatever they get. I don't need Santa to pull this off for me.

Son got past it and now Daughter will to. She had a moment where I was unsure. The presents weren't under the tree yet.

"Is Santa going to bring us presents," she asked.

"Daughter...." I tried to warn her.

"Yes, Santa is going to bring us presents."

My kid is 3 and knows exactly what she is doing and saying at all times. She watched me as she said this. "Daughter, come one. Give me a break. You know there is no Santa."

"Yes, Santa," she decided as she went her merry way.

"No Santa."

"Santa, Santa, Santa."

I had to laugh at her. A few days later as we picked out the paint colors for her room at the paint store, the woman asked her if Santa was going to bring her anything.

"Santa's not real!" she yelled at her. The woman gasped. That's my girl.

Now, what about the Tooth Fairy, you ask? Well, Son knew that was a myth before the Santa thing happened. But this week he lost 2 teeth. The first one came out a couple of days ago. Son woke me as I felt him crawling into bed with us.

"Son, what's going on," I asked groggily.

"Come here. I have to show you something." He moved to turn on the light.

"Don't you dare!" I hissed at him. I looked at the clock. "It's 3 in the morning! What do you want me to see?"

"Just come on," he waved at me. I refused to get up. "I have to get up soon. Just tell me."

"My tooth came out and I put it under my pillow but you didn't come." My word. Who knew that by killing the fake stuff, I was somehow increasing my own magical abilities in the mind of my child. "Honey, how can I come if I don't know?" I suppose it's my job to just somehow always know. Well, that's what mommy's do, right? Right.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bad Blogger

Bad, bad blogger!

"Where have you been, Monica," you ask. "How are we supposed to keep up with you if you don't blog?!"

Valid questions, my friends. You want to know what happened since I last blogged on the 15th? (My gosh, has it really been almost 2 weeks! I'm so sorry!)

Dec. 18 - I turned 36. They had bagels in my honor at work. The kids jumped me when I came home that night because I had a present - ice cream cake and the new BabyPhat perfume. I drove Mr. T's car that day and unfortunately he left the sample cards on the seat of his car so I wasn't shocked but I was happy to see it was bought for ME! :-)

Dec. 21 - We learned who our Secret Santas were at work. We had a $100 limit (don't gasp. There's a reason.) because our holiday dinner had to be postponed until Januaryu so the boss upped the limit and said to expense it. Sweet. So I received this lovely entertaining set - red tray, plates, canape knives, candles, it's really beautiful - and I guessed my SS on the first try. We had pizza, salad, chicken fingers and thick cheese sticks. It was fun.

Dec. 22 - Son sang a duet with a classmate for the holiday concert. Well, maybe it wasn't a duet per se. They were the leads. He sang a solo last time - a full-fledged solo - and listening to him again this time, hands in his pockets as he leaned into the mike to confidently sing his part, I'm amazed at how it makes me emotional. I couldn't be prouder of him. I wonder what it is that makes me so proud of who he is and yet not capable of telling him that enough. The older he gets, the harder it gets and yet he clearly craves it. The boy stood in front of my bedroom door on Sunday and counted. He didn't call me or come in. Just counted - out loud - for a long time. I woke up on 289. He still writes me love notes so I guess I'm still a good mommy overall.

Dec. 23 - Went to start cleaning the new house. Mr. T and I are still stopping each other saying, "Hey! We've got a house!" We're very much caught up in what color to paint all the rooms. Daughter gets yellow and lavender. We just don't know whether to make it lavender with yellow accents or the other way around. We're afraid all yellow will heighten her already vibrant personality but we think we really want to see it that way. Plus I'll find a butterfly stamp so I can stamp lavender butterflies at the top of her walls near the ceiling. Son wanted purple but I was afraid a boyish purple would be too dark. So he said blue. I told him I'd go for blue and try to create a purple and white stripe on the wall you see when you enter the room. Good luck to me. Could have been worse, though. He wanted a checkerboard pattern at first and knowing me, I would have tried it. My office/guest room will be a lovely harvest color - think a fall orange. That is the one room I had dreams about. We still don't know what to do with our room, the kitchen, the kids' bath, the family room or the living room we are currently calling the Sky Box. (It's a raised ranch and that room is upstairs on the same floor as the kitchen and bedrooms. The last owner used it as a dining room but it's hard to know what to do with it because makig it a designated dining room jsut seems like a waste.) In our room and our bathroom, I want something relaxing but Misted Green (See Pottery Barn color palette) keeps coming to me and I don't know if I want to be surrounded by green. I'm not actually too fond of that color. Anyhow, we had hoped to start painting that day but the store was closed early. So this weekend we get to work.

Dec. 24 - I had bought all I intended to buy for my immediate people - Hubby and 2 kids - and wrapped them all up so this day, I just watched movies with Mr. T. My Super Ex-Girlfriend - Eh. OK. Twin Towers - better than I expected. The kids watched Over the Hedge and Ant Bully, both of which they saw in the theater but had to see again. Of the two, I'd probably recommend Ant Bully over the other one. I think it's because so many cartoons these days aren't as scenic as they used to be - remember The Prince of Egypt? - and at least I felt like I was going to different places in that movie even though it was the same house and same front yard. Just from a very different perspective.

Dec. 25 - Breakfast at the sister- and brother-in-law's house. They do it every year and it's nice. His son and daughter come with their families and we're from her side and it's one big, happy United Colors of Benetton ad that day. Well, OK, just 3 colors, but close enough. Then we go home so the kids can tear through their stuff and I can hopelessly try to keep up with all the wrapping being strewn about that I so carefully put on the boxes the days before. But they felt like it was a neverending bounty of gifts. I'm happy they were happy. And oh, by the way, yes I am eating. I'm just trying to maintain weight but dieting right now is just insane.

Dec. 26th - Ugh. Back to work. Still love my job. Don't get me wrong. But why don't we all just take this week off? I know the grocery stores have to be open and places like that but really, who wants to work right now?

Dec. 28th - TODAY! Got to get home to take Daughter to get her hair done. We both had appointments for Saturday but my girl would be doing us both because her girl is on vacation this week and this girl just didn't want to face it. Besides, the cable guy is coming on Saturday and both of us in the hairdresser is sure to keep us in there all day. I want to be able to be there when the cable/internet/phone is hooked up. We're going for the triple package so I'm very excited to finally have cable internet plus I opted to get their DVR system so I can finally tape all the shows I like to watch but I'm often too tired to stay up for.

The new year is shaping up quite nicely so far. And this is my life.

How's yours?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Hustlin' Hustlin'

You're probably wondering what's going on. I asked my mortgage broker yesterday at 4:45 p.m. what was going to happen after an entire day of not hearing from her but instead getting calls from her office asking for information I had already given them days ago. Were we going to close or not, I asked. She laughed. "You're jumpy, aren't you?"

"Hey, man. I need to know what to tell my job. Will I be in or not?"

"You don't have to take the day off," she said. "We will be closing about 4 o'clock."

So of course I didn't listen. I took the vacation day. I could go pay for the homeowner's insurance and do some other errands while we waited. Plus I didn't know when we were going to do the final walkthrough and there needed to be time for that.

So I got up this morning and told MIL we needed a final walkthrough. That's right. No one said, "Hey Monica, this is when your walkthrough will be." No. I had to ask for it.

I gave her my cell number and went off to drop Daughter at school and commence the errand run. MIL called at 11 to say we could do the walkthrough at noon. By then I had completed what I had to do and was doing what I wanted to do - look for my birthday present to myself and get a couple of other Christmas gifts I needed to buy in person. (I've been doing my thing online. I highly recommend it.)

At 11:30 the MB calls. "Monica. We just found out you DO need flood insurance."

I won't go into the feelings on this. I had asked this question of my insurance guy and I suppose he didn't really think it necessary to check into it because papers from the mortgage company were already saying we didn't need it. The papers I signed for the loan said it too. Today, hours before closing, we find out I do. Why do I bother to ask?

I'm already in the city my agent is in so I go back to their office (because I paid them this morning already) and tell them the issue. "It's a 24 to 48 hour process," I'm told.

"Jesus Christ" I pray out loud. I call the MB and tell her. She talks to the girl. The girl has to find out if they already have some info they need to speed up the process so I leave until she calls me because I need to do the walkthrough. A few blocks away she calls. "Can you come back?"

"I'm on my way." I do a U and head back. The girl points me to the licensed agent I had dealt with that morning, Tracy. Poor Tracy hasn't eaten yet but she knows the situation. So we sit and talk. She fills out paperwork and I cross my fingers as well as pray because I'm told flood insurance is VERY expensive and we are down to what we need for the closing with a little padding. This insurance would eat that padding for sure. Tracy has errors and finds out she needs the elevation certificate. How do I get that? "You're going to have to hire someone to go out and survey the land so you can get one." I stare at her in disbelief and call the MB again. In the meanwhile, Tracy says maybe the seller's insurance agent can help us out. I tell her, "oh yes, maybe (the seller) has it!"

"Oh, you know the seller?"

"This is a family affair, Tracy. My MB was her MB for her mortgage. She may even have the info."

"Oh, that's lucky. Most people don't know the seller."

That's not luck, Tracy. That's God. I call the MB, she thinks she actually has the elevation certificate and faxes it over. But it isn't it. MB takes the charge. She calls the other insurance agent and sees what she can find. "As much as we want your business," Tracy tells me, "It may be easier for you to let that agent insure you for now and you can come back here and put it all together when it expires."

Sounds like a plan, though it may be an expensive one since I don't have a relationship with those people already. More phone calls, more confusion and finally MB tells me what Tracy just said. "Monica, go somewhere where you can talk. I'll have that agent call you."

Tracy is already with anohter customer now but she sees me packing up. I tell her the deal and she wishes me luck.

Off I go to the house at last to maybe get a shot at walking through. MB calls on my way there and tells me she is calling the town now to see about getting that much sought after elevation certificate. After I get to the house she calls. "Monica, where are you?"

"I'm at the house now."

"Guess what I have?"


She asked a favor of the zoning guy who approved us buying this house and he came through like a champ. "Go back to the office," she tells me. "I am faxing it back to your agent now."

"I'm on my way." My gas is almsot on E and I am one town away at about 1:15 p.m. As I find a place to park I thank God again because the meter has 38 minutes on it. I have no quarters so I thank God for once again paving the way.

I run to the office and the younger agent points me to Tracy who is already on the phone working out my stuff. She hangs up. "I have to hurry. If they don't have this by 1:30, you can't close today."

Tracy moves and her fingers fly. She talks to her underwriters to ask how to fill something out and the clock says 1:24. My MB calls to ask what is going on. "Tell her 4 minutes!" MB says. Poor Tracy holds her head while I do NOT relay the message. "OK, OK. We're moving," I respond.

Tracy gives me papers to sign and asks the younger agent to start faxing while she finishes the rest. $518 dollars, one signature later it is 1:30 and the last fax is going through.

I call MB. "I love you! I love you! I love you!" she yells. I laugh and we hang up.

I don't know what to do for Tracy but SOMETHING major is getting delivered to her office next week. Like a good neighbor, State Farm was there for me. I love these people.

It is 3:50 now. Husband has picked up Son and I took him to get the last of the money we needed. I got Daughter and dropped them both off to the sitter because Husband and I have a holiday event to attend tonight for my business group.

Now we wait. The closing is scheduled for 5 now. In the midst of all the insurance madness, a potential puzzle customer called me. Now I need to return his call.

I didn't need to take the day off, she said. Yeah right!


10:45 p.m.

It took until about 8 tonight. We missed the party we were supposed to go to. But we closed.
We are homeowners for the first time.
We are tired.
Good night.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Chugging Along

Well, I did it. I signed loan papers today. It was not perfect. We had to do an 80/20; I wanted a fixed rate but an ARM was the best deal she could get because the interest rate was great so we will have to refinance in 2 years to get a fixed, 30-year mortgage. I knew there might be an issue because my credit is not great. It's good but not as good as they would like to get the best rate, though it's a heck of a lot better than this time last year when I was getting old stuff caught up after getting a break from the financial pressures we had at that time.

Since then I've gotten an awesome job and make better money - and so does Mr. T. the longer he stays where he is - so we're in a better place overall, but credit doesn't repair that quickly and since I'm buying the house alone, everything depended on me. Mr. T. has perfect credit and for the next house, HE is getting the mortgage and we'll take advantage of that. By then, however, mine will be just as good so we should be in a great place no matter what.

Anyway, I knew there would be an issue but the interest rate is 6.3% and I can accept that. I'm actually quite happy about it because ultimately, I did this on my own. Yes, his money went into it too but on paper this is all me and I actually like this opportunity to have property in my own name, even if it's just on paper because you can best be sure I assured the husband that we was on the hook as much as I am. I had to school him a little about the whole what's-yours-is-mine thing. "In the end, my dear, if I leave them high and dry on this mortgage and disappear on you all, they are coming after YOU." Wouldn't want him to feel too relaxed here.

So I initialed and signed on the straight lines and the mortgage broker explained before hand that at the closing, I will be signing twice as many papers - about 50 odd - but many of them would be like what I was signing with her at that moment. She would be my translator for the rest of it because the lawyer will be whipping through but she is a lawyer too (I didn't know that until today) and she'll be able to explain it all.

The issue then was closing on the 15th. I told her earlier this week that the bid was turned into a contract and the other lawyer - probably at the behest of the seller - changed the closing date to "on or before Dec. 25." All this time it's been the 15th. It was that date when I signed the bid back in November. It was that date when the seller decided to sell it to someone else. It was still that date when her buyer fell through and she came crawling back to us. (I told you I thought it was personal choice not to sell to us in the first place.) It stayed that date until, oh, last Thursday or Friday. But my broker (hereby known as the MB) was determined to stick to her original date.

After I signed the papers, as I talked to the MB about the rest of the money needed to close this, a call came in. The seller would not be ready by the 15th. This is the same seller who originally wanted to close by Thanksgiving. Apparently her sister is ill. In my mind I wonder, "What has that got to do with this?" I know it sounds hard and I'm not THAT hard. I knew her mother was sick (I THOUGHT her mother was sick so maybe it was the sister instead) but she's the one who wanted to sell this house quickly and since she actually got a month more than she was originally going for, you'd think she'd be chomping at the bit even more than I am and she'd get her stuff out. A lot of it was still there when we did the inspection last week. The guy who took the message was sitting one desk over from us and after hanging up, he tells us this. My MB sits back. "You get back on the phone," she says. "Tell them this. We either close on Friday or we close in February." About 3 hours after I left, the seller called her personally and assured her she would be in town on Thursday.

So the deal isn't done until it's done. But I must admit, that MB plays hardball and if she's on your side, then thank goodness. After all this uncertainty and ambiguity, right now I can say I'm feeling like she did a good job for us overall. Will we work with her again? It honestly depends on who can offer us the best rate when it comes time to refinance. She admitted that she knew she had me in the dark and she knew I hated it but she didn't want to say an amount and have it keep changing on me since she hadn't locked in a rate yet. Understandable. I'm still leery of her but I may be more relieved now than anything else. The 15th isn't here yet so we'll see how that goes but it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Little Something While You Wait?

Tired of my house talk? Me too. Imagine a little Jeopardy music right now because that's what we're doing anyway - waiting.
Waiting for tomorrow when Mr. T. and I finally go talk about the loan terms with the mortgage folk.
Waiting for the zoning guy to give his seal of approval because currently no one has been able to find him.
And IF he says yes, I can go pay the homeowner's insurance because my insurance guy is waiting for that as well.
Waiting until this whole thing is over one way or the other so I can SLEEP IN PEACE!

But until either tomorrow or Friday when I have something new to report, here's a little something else, courtesy of a friend and former co-worker.




You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.

-- Alan, age 10

No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with.

-- Kristen, age 10

Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.

-- Camille, age 10

You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.

-- Derrick, age 8

Both don't want any more kids.

-- Lori, age 8

Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.

-- Ly nnette, age 8 (isn't she a treasure)

On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that Usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.

-- Martin, age 10

When they're rich.

-- Pam, age 7

The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that.
- - Curt, age 7

The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do.

-- Howard, age 8

It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.

-- Anita, age 9 (bless you child)


There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?

-- Kelvin, age 8

And the #1 Favorite is........
Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a truck.
-- Ricky, age 10

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Little Home-Buying Advice

I am so sleepy right now. I'm having dreams, folks. Will this or won't this work out? I'm pretty sure I dreamed of Daughter painting her room last night but that may have been brought on by the number of times she kicked me in my sleep. She was obviously determined to get into my subconscious, even if she literally had to karate kick her way in.

Still, this whole thing is making it harder to fall to sleep, that's for sure. My mind won't stop going, which is normal for me but this is a little past normal. The hurdle I was expecting to be the big hurdle isn't the hurdle that is currently on my mind. It's the loan. It was not as I expected it to be and it looked like we were going to be paying more for a mortgage than we were expecting and yet we can't be sure because our mortgage broker has yet to sit down with us and explain everything. When I called the broker to tell her about it she said to throw all that paperwork away. She wasn't done. Great day. I should have taken a picture of how much paper there was but I was only too happy to get rid of it, so I shredded it. Hmm. Maybe I'll take a photo of all the shredded paper tonight if Mr. T. hasn't tossed it out by now. In the meanwhile I do feel a little better because I got my insurance guy involved in this to do the homeowner's insurance. (If you are looking to buy, this is one of the things you may have to do for yourself, be aware.)

Overall, I still feel there is a lack of communication and generally too much, "Don't worry, be happy" being thrown about. So me being me, I take matters into my own hands. The broker gets a shot at doing this deal, mainly because it was already in the works anyway, but I spoke to a banker I know personally to see what she thinks and to see if she can do better. We have one week until closing. All we can do is see what happens.

Now, the reason I am writing this today is to share what I already knew (and got confirmation on) and to share what I've learned. If you are looking to buy a house for the first time ever (or if your first deal was a bad one), please take heed but be sure to go get your own answers.

Here are some of my thoughts on this:

1 - Get someone like you to represent you. I told you who our RE is and it was just part of the deal, as far as I am concerned. She had her own people that she deals with as well so that took away a lot of choices initially.

2 - Know it's ALMOST never too late.
When you sign your bid, ask about the contract. Will this be turned into a contract, or will there be one later to sign? That contract should give you the drop dead date for securing whatever you need so if you go. Mine got changed last night from Dec. 15th to "on or before Dec. 25th" but the broker is determined to stick to the 15th. At this point, we just have to keep going but I still have to get clarification as to whether or not we can call this quits if we don't like the loan that comes our way, or at least if we can put it off another few weeks to try another company. Frankly, I'm praying this woman gets it right, despite my leeriness of her because we all want to be done but we want it to be done right.

3 - Go to a first-time homebuyer's class if you can. I've learned a lot of things over the years and over the past few weeks. I know who to ask but if I could have done this, I would just to see what else I should know. It doesn't hurt to have the knowledge. You can't ask the right questions if you don't know what to ask and as my experience can tell you, not everyone will volunteer the information for whatever reasons of their own.

4 - Get an attorney as early as possible. If your RE or banker is handling it, cool, but make sure one is in their somewhere. You need someone neutral.

5 - Inspection/Appraisal/et al. You may be footing these bills and it's highly unlikely you will get this money back if you don't go through with the deal so make sure you really want this. As I told you before the inspection guy has proven to be the most helpful of all. If you live in CT and need a referral, I'll pass his name to you. I loved him. Speaking of bills, I mentioned finding your own insurance earlier? Well, that's something you not only have to do before closing but you pay for the whole year's worth of insurance beforehand as well, at closing. Be prepared.

6 - Shop around. Get that banker or broker to tell you upfront what kind of deal they are working out. Shop that around. You have to be honest with yourself, however. If your credit isn't the greatest, don't expect an awesome deal. Know your credit score so you can know what to expect. Down the road you can always refinance but you'll have to keep on top of your credit until that point because you still will need the best score you can get to get the best rate. And speaking of credit...

7 - Don't pull it too often. According to a financial expert I know, you have 2 weeks to shop around for bug ticket items like a car or mortgage. That means they can pull like crazy in that time and not have it affect your score. But after that, if they pull it you run the risk of getting hit in the credit score. Now, if you are using a broker (and I still don't think it's the best way to go but you do what you must), the possibility exists that they will pull your score to preapprove you. There is also the chance that the company they will deal with may do the same. Stay on top of them. Be sure you know your score prior to all this and be sure you are continuing to pay things as normal so you can know where to look if things go awry.

8 - Don't get emotional. Buying and selling a house is emotional stuff, no doubt about it. Buyers have to have a poker face and sellers need to grow some steel around their hearts. I am blessed to have smart friends and truly supportive family. I turn to them to help me think things through and not to let myself be ruled by emotions because I know I am an emotional person but I am OK with that. When things get tense, you need a cooler head. Someone neutral, like that lawyer. But if not the lawyer, then someone who will be HONEST with you about what they see and if they have real experience to add to the mix, then all the better. Just like the seller in this case who was allegedly insulted by my saying the carpets would have to go, you can lose out if you aren't careful. You have to keep your eyes on the prize but at the same time you can't be a doormat. If you're a go-along-to-get-along kind of person, you may have a hard time here so be honest about who you are (at least to yourself) and make sure someone tough is with you.

9 - Where's the proof? In case you didn't know, eventually you may have to prove you have the money. In the bank or somewhere that has your name on it. If you are expecting help, get it secured beforehand and stick it in the bank so it looks like you've had it awhile. Don't ask me. It just seems to be the way it is.

10 - Keep family out. I said it before and I stick by this. Try not to let your uncle the real estate agent do this job for you. Not unless you REALLY work well together. I know it's possible some relationships can handle this but why risk it? Unless you know for sure Aunt Mitzy the lawyer is going to do the job and not treat you differently or even worse because you are family, then take the chance if you care to. But I just think if you can skip them, do.

This is all I've got for you for now but if I think of anything else, I'll let you know.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Waiting Game

Well, we had the house inspected today. The inspector was there way ahead of time and the last person to show - though only 1 minute late - was the seller's real estate agent. The man explained what he would be doing and told me it would take a couple of hours. He gave me a pad and pencil, "in case you want to write anything down."

This was to be the first time we saw the house sans children, mine or hers (the other RE agent) and I was thrilled with that. It's enough wrangling my two without her kid added to the mix - for the third time. Just because I'm a mom does not mean I want your child around while we're trying to think about a major purchase like this, thank you very much.

Of course, the seller's agent said she absolutely had to leave by 2:30. I was already peeved with her and now she may be cutting my expensive time short on top of it? She'd better pray we don't find anything wrong or that we can't finish. I was going to be too through. But the inspector was professional to the end. His name was Ken. I'd tell you his company but I don't have the paperwork in front of me at the moment. But I am highly recommending them because of this guy. He explained what he was doing and why. He recommended fixes and most times the things he said she be fixed were minor. He was awesome. I felt comfortable about what he was saying and how he did his job, despite the rush placed on him and all that crazy chatter the REs were doing.

Too much chatter. Can everybody PLEASE be quiet? I'm a talker and I don't mind chatting up folk but take it somewhere else right now. It's just bugging me.

If you've never bought a house and you're going to do so soon, the cost of the appraisal plus the inspection was $620. If something happens and we can't get this house, I'm pretty sure I lose my money and if we don't get this house due to the big hurdle I have yet to explain here, I will blame ALLLLL the people who kept saying, "Oh it's no problem! It's no problem!" You know they won't be itching to give me that money back though, right? Hmm. I wonder if I can sue in a case like that. It wouldn't be for the money but the principle.

So, now it's a waiting game. The house is in great shape and the things we'd like to do to it are really minimal so we can just enjoy doing what we want to it appearance wise IF we get it.

It's been nice to go there and start thinking of it as home but one must be careful with the emotions until the deal is done. I've got a lot of annoying peopl mucking up the works too but at least I met one very nice appraiser and inspector. Let me know if you need a recommendation. They were great. They are 2 of the few in this little game who get MY seal of approval.

Monday, December 04, 2006

In God I Trust

Yesterday I went to church alone. I do that every now and again when the kids don’t have youth church and I don’t feel like being their referee as they sit with me. The choir sang a song and I couldn’t catch all the words but one part of the refrain was that God keeps His promises. “It’s already done,” they sang. It went along with the message from which I reclaimed the understanding that what is mine is mine despite the misaligned will of other people.

Confirmation one.

Last night Mr. T, Daughter and I watched Superman Returns. (Son was in bed already and since Daughter sleeps with us, she gets these perks for now.) If you haven't seen it, that is one long movie yet not bad. Not bad at all.

Superman’s arch nemesis, Lex Luthor, has created a new land mass which threatens the United States and promises certain devastation as it continues to grow. There is one point in the movie (skip to the next graph if you want to see this movie) where Superman goes into space then plunges down, down, down into the very core of the earth beneath the foundation of the kryptonite-based land mass and he pushes, pushes, pushes it up, up and away into space, hurling it away forever, I suppose to become an asteroid. (Sounds like the making of a plot for another movie to me; that and Lois Lane’s son but I won’t go there.)

I woke up this morning and that scene popped back into my mind. It was my second confirmation. Superman reached to the core of evil to reclaim the good and though it weakened him for long enough to become hospitalized, he did get his strength back and righted the wrongs once again.

This morning I got my third confirmation. I am reading and editing a devotional my friend – my pastor’s admin – is putting together. She was sent a replacement lesson to put in the book and she forwarded that to me. The scripture that is part of that replacement?

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

So we wait. Saturday morning Mr. T. and I watched Daughter sleep and wondered what we do with that weird part of the house that wasn’t quite a room but it’s serving as the foyer so it can’t be ignored either. I corrected him about where my computer would go should we get the house. (He was under the misimpression that we’d put it in that foyer area. I had to correct that immediately.) Saturday afternoon the house was appraised. It’s OK to fork over $300 for a house that will be ours. It’s not OK if we don’t get this house. Mr. T. took pictures. Saturday night we looked at the pictures as we waited for things to get under way at the retirement party we attended.

Tomorrow the house gets inspected. Another $250. Again, OK to spend on a house that will be yours but I still can’t be sure. But God reminded me yet again that despite all the nonsense and confusion and sidestepped questions, He works ALL things together for my good. These people involved may or may not be trying to be underhanded. They may not even realize that that is what it looks like when you say things like, “Well, it depends on what you tell them.” But ultimately, God dives to the core of this mess and the good is revealed, destroying the bad. If this is our house, it shall be and these people will likely take the credit but Mr. T. and I will know the truth and tell our children that as well.

One of the blessings in all this is that the whole thing has served to unite Mr. T and I more than ever. It made me feel good to hear him insisting that his mother look into some things so that we know we getting the best deal. He didn’t just accept her word for it. I was thrilled to see him giving her odd looks when something she was saying didn’t make sense and it wasn’t just me having to point it out to him. I’m happy he’s as annoyed with it all as I am and even though his mother was getting a headache from all his questions last Friday, my heart was doing a happy dance because I didn’t have to speak up first. I just wanted to hug him. Had to wait until later to do that.

If the house is mine, we shall all know before the end of the month. In the meanwhile, my little family still has its peace because we know what’s ours is ours and my marriage has grown a little more because Husband and I are fighting this fight together.

I suppose it’s just one of those things you grow to expect from this time of year – love, peace and harmony. So nice to know we have all that.

Friday, December 01, 2006

December Madness

If it's December, it must be the fastest month in the year.

I love this month. The way it feels, the way the word looks, the potential of the new year. But forget the shortness of February, it's the month of December that flies by and this December is shaping up to be a blur. Normally December means:

Holiday parties - at his job and mine, business holiday events, etc.
Angel Tree - the Prison Ministry program at my church where we buy gifts for children whose parents are incarcerated
My birthday - the only time of year I buy myself something that costs three figures without considering what else I need to do.
Christmas (and all the shopping associated with it) - I have 2 children, you know what this means already.
Kwanzaa - while we don't celebrate earnestly, we do acknowledge it, maybe attend a celebration at church.

This year it also means maybe we'll buy a house. There is still no certainty as to whether it will go through. Not the loan, mind you. For once the financial aspect is not my concern. There are some other factors involved that I don't control, hurdles to clear. If that happens, then everyone - realtors, banker, seller - is trying to get this deal signed, sealed, delivered before the year ends. I'm just cautiously optimistic, unwilling to get too excited too soon. Mainly because I have to do way more babysitting of the "professionals" involved than I should need to do. I'm so busy going over their actions with a magnifying glass, that I can't enjoy the potential bigger picture - we may be able to clear out of here completely by spring.

The good timing of everything indirectly connected to this house buy makes me think, "maybe," but frankly, I'm really hoping it works out just to get all these people out of my life so I can have some quiet once again.

Well, tonight there is a holiday dinner to go to and a retirement party tomorrow night. Tomorrow afternoon the house is appraised. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Saga Continues

Here I am, fresh from my NaNo win - thank you, thank you very much! - the holidays are here and I am dreaming of what I will buy myself for my birthday this year. (Coach, here I come!) I had just told my MIL what I want her to do regarding a few houses we looked at/heard about and now I am looking forward, not backward.

I go to the store this afternoon, on my lunchbreak, to buy socks for Daughter because she needs them, first of all, but also because I have a strange love of socks. Nothing better than a new pair of colorful, soft footwear, I say. I am, alas, too old to buy socks by the pound now because they just don't work with most of my workwear - though I can buy some new ones for the weekend, huh? - so I'm cuckoo for socks for my daughter's sake instead. Those colors just make me smile.

Anyhoo, I see, while I wait for the saleswoman to become free (because the socks are behind the register), that Mr. T. has called me. So instead of listening to his message, I call him back.

"I just left you a long message," he says breathlessly.

"OK. What was it?"

"(Name deleted)'s buyer fell through on that house and we are next on the list. My mother wants to know if we want to put the bid in. What do you want to do?"

To the saleswoman who is now picking out socks as I call out colors between Mr. T.'s words, I say: "I'm so sorry."

"It's ok," she responds cheerfully.

"I'll call you back," I tell husband. "I'm in the store."

We hang up and I laugh my head off.

"I'm sorry," I tell the saleswoman again. "I really need to laugh about this."

"It's OK. Take your time."

After I get past the irony of this, I get my socks picked out, pay for them and leave. I call my DH back right away.

"So, the 20% down fell through huh? Suddenly we are good enough?"

What you don't know, dear readers, is that we first saw that house with the owner there. She is a friend of the family (his, not mine). I apparently said something insulting about her house and she wasn't sure I would "really go through with buying it" so she took another bid.

The insulting thing I said? We need to pull up the carpet. That's it, ladies and gentlemen. Not, "I hate her taste!" Not, "I hate her cat!" No, it was, "We need to pull up the carpets." THAT is what hurt her feelings. Can we all just join together and say - SLAP!

Deep breath, deep breath.

So, there is still a ton to this story but it would take me way too much to say it all so I will be succinct and tell you what I already knew but can reconfirm for you again today:


If I need to repeat that, let me know. I do not care if they are the best in the business. Get the second best if it means you work with someone who is not attached to you in any way except by business.

As I said before, my MIL is my real estate agent - I knew when I married the man that this would be the deal. I accepted it a long time ago and you should too. No lectures please.

That said, I have told Mr. T. that I do not believe she is fighting for us as she should be so I have taken matters into my own hands and I dictate. I tell Husband what I want him to do and I tell MIL what I want her to do. That is all I do. I do not want to hear excuses and reasonings. I want to know what I want to know and that is the end of it. You people want my money, you do what I ask. I cannot begin to relate the nonsense she was telling me about how I shouldn't say things in front of the owner. I say, "The owner wants money? The owner should either not be there or suck it up. I will NOT shut up." Especially since ALL I said was that the carpets needed to go. And yeah, it is a funky layout and I said that too. But it is! You should see it! Daughter by the way, said much worse. Because a cat lives there, she said, "ooooo, stinky!" Twice. And I am the insulting one?

His family already thinks I am emotional, maybe even high strung, but I've been in DH's life for 13 years. They should get over it already because I am not changing. But I am certain they think I need them to explain why we should take the deal. To DH's credit, he told her, "What?! No way! I want to see the house again."

Good boy. I have trained him well.

Why do I care and why am I dealing with this, besides the reason that MIL and her group of associates came with the marriage package? Because the mortgage would be sweet. We wouldn't be strained fiinancially. We get our space. It's a 6-year-old house and therefore not skeevy (I hope). It is in a neighborhood with people I know and like. It is 5 minutes (less than, really) from MIL's house so I still have her if I need her - for the kids' sake, of course - and Son gets to stay at his school with no strain on me in the mornings to rush him there because we moved one town away in the wrong direction. That's why I care.

So we go back tonight to see the place, sans owner, and I have told MIL we will tell her yes or no right then and there.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Stephen, My Stephen

I am a writer, but I am not the sort of writer who can name a list of all these wonderful, nondescript authors you should read because I don;t hold people's names in my head. I'm not great with names. I do, however, have a few I always name because I truly love them - Wally Lamb, Tanarive Due and Stephen, my Stephen - better known to you all as Stephen King.

I LOVE him. His stuff may be scary to some folk but I find him intriguing. The words he use are so visual and full of life all by themselves and when he strings them together, it is pure harmony. I get so engrossed and so ensnared in his world, I can actually see myself in the places he creates as I watch the happenings from the sidelines.

His first novel was published in 1974 when I was 3, so he's been out there most of my life and as of now, that's a long time. Now I admit, not every book he writes is gold. You try writing two books a year and see if you can produce gold every time! I think not! OK, he may not do 2 books a year but it sure feels like it! My thought is he probably is gearing up for a great book every 2 or 3 books. Four Past Midnight will always be one of my favorites from him. Four short stories so if you've never read him, the book looks daunting but it's 4 stories in one so go for it!

Did you know he lived in Stratford, CT for a time growing up? His former street is only one highway exit from my own! Ah the connection! I love that man. I don't think he should do cameos in movies (and neither should M. Knight Shymalan) but I love him nonetheless. Don't worry, Tabitha. I'm happily married. I just love to revel in your husband's eloquent compositions. How sweet it is.

A friend from my critique group sent a link to an article from The Washington Post. If you love the work of writing and even more, of you love Stephen King, I pass this on to you. Me? I need to go find the latest piece of fiction he's written and get my fix. Think I'll head on over to good old Amazon now.

Closing In

NaNo is nearly over.

I stumble to my computer trying to keep my eyes open, but it's hard. I want to sleep. I have ICL homework to do. I have business to find. But first I need to get in another 1,670 words! Am I crazy? Clearly. What purpose does this serve, trying to write 50,0000 words in a month? You think it's easy? Ha! Remind me to challenge YOU next year. And me? I had to go and try to do it twice over! I'm only at 21,000+ words on the book I first went into this competition with but I'm at 44,300 on the other one that refused to die. I, too, refuse to die.

Do I love my story? Eh. It's OK. It needs more depth. I've been dialoguing like mad, however, and this is one of the things about NaNoWriMo. I'm good with description but dialogue was always scary. Things like my wonderful critique group helped to make that a fear of the past and I've been talking up a storm in this book. I'll probably go back and play with this piece when it's all said and done, but that may be the end of it for a long while. My heart still belongs to the one that only made it to 21,000. I was hoping to put more into that but in the end, there is only time enough and energy enough for the one. Just like having a husband, I guess.

So I push on and let you all know I am still here. This NaNo thing has taken more time than I had hoped and yet I still don't feel as consumed as I was led to believe I would feel. If I had a story I LOVED from the beginning, I might even be done already like the 2,400 others who are NaNo winners right now.

But I too shall cross that finish line, even if it's 11:59 on November 30th. With less than 5,000 words to go, I can do this with my family, my job and my business intact. OK, sure, Son has had to read to my back while I typed and Daughter has had to climb on my head to get my attention, while Mr. T. just laid in bed watching TV, suddenly hurling questions at me, "Are you done yet? Did you get 50,000 yet? Huh? Huh? Huh?"

Soon, my darlings, soon. I'll be back to normal and I can return to ignoring you all to your faces instead.

Monday, November 20, 2006

La La La La Life Goes On

NaNoWriMo has been keeping me busy this month - I still need to move those widgets back to my sidebar! - but that doesn't mean I haven't been living in the meanwhile. Why just this morning I had to go put a kid in his place at my son's bus stop. The boy wasn't there last year and he wasn't there when the school year started but when I first saw him appear as I watched from 3 houses away, he looked like trouble to me.

Even though my son is only 6, I let him go out and wait for the school bus alone - well, not alone. The girl from across the street is with him - but you can best be sure my eye and my daughter's eye (She's only 3 but she don't take no junk!) and my husband's eye (if he's home) is on him until we see that bus pick them up and turn down our street, leaving only the empty grassy corner that's always there. It's cold right now - really cold - and when I looked out and did not see Son's hat on his head but I did see what looked like his hat dangling from the fingers of the other boy who waits there too, well I just thank God my MIL was home because I instantly put my naked 3-year-old who was standing in the kitchen to the back of my mind and went marching up the street to tower over this boy and let him know he is always being watched and it would be in his best interest to do nothing more than speak to my son, should he wish to be spoken to. Thank God my daughter didn't follow me. The last thing I need is for her to get pneumonia because she sees Mommy dashing off down the street toward her crying brother who was heading home after I first yelled down to him, "Son? Where's your hat?" To the big bully boy's credit, he apologized right then and there as I spoke and promised him I would find out where he lives and talk with his mom if I see anything else happen involving my son. Stupid kid. Doesn't he know I get angry a little easily and messing with one of my children is against my law?

Anyway, it was an annoying way to start a Monday but at least I had a productive and fun weekend, starting with hanging out late Friday night as Daughter and I got our hair done, and moving on to getting some writing done and my website updated on Saturday followed by a retirement party for one of my husband's co-workers that night. (Got another one in December.) Yummy food, lots of dancing, a good time by all once again. Then Sunday was a late start since we didn't go to sleep until about 1:30 that morning but we got up, went to church where we were reminded to give God "daily praise payments", went grocery shopping, cooked a late lunch, divided up the fundraiser items we got from my son's school last week (top seller!), then cooked a late dinner. I didn't get a chance to write on Sunday at all, which I was concerned about but I'm determined to hit 50,000 words on at least one of my books. The other - the one I had the idea for first - might not make it there but it won't be from lack of a valiant effort.

Tomorrow's going to be pretty hectic too because I took the day off work to put my car in the shop and to do a radio interview with my business partner. I wonder if I can get it podcasted? Hmmm. Gotta ask.

HOUSE UPDATE: That house we were working on? Fell through. My MIL says someone else offered 20% down. Mr. T. and I say she didn't want us to have the house. But I told Mr. T. an earful about how I didn't appreciate the way things went down in the first place (Too much family involved. I can't say but so much.) and he assured me we could get a new mortgage lender if I wanted. So I'm set and ready to keep looking. On the plus side, because former mortgage lender (she doesn't know it yet) looked into my credit when I applied for the mortgage, I dd get to find out what my credit score is without my having to wait until next week for one and next March for the other when my last 2 freebies come up. I'm looking pretty good, thank God. One year of getting it together has had a marvelous impact on my credit. Anyway, the other house is still up in the air and the builder for yet another house we liked but wouldn't buy because there was no door to the outside in the basement called to let my MIL know he was building more. So, the search continues.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Hanging In

Well, life's a beach and then you write!

That's me. It's going on day 14 of NaNo and I'm just thrilled to be hanging in there. One novel is on point - a little ahead actually. The other is about 3 days behind but I've got some questionnaires out there that should help me think of what else to include in this particular book. Not worried about it yet. Oh and if YOU are a mommy with a business or you are a mommy who freelances (same thing, but I feel the need to make the distinction for those who don't recognize that freelancing IS a business) and you want to participate in a book I am writing, give me a post so we can connect. Have I got a questionnaire for YOU!

Now, Blogger beta is up and running and I fearfully made the switch. I'm already having issues with my sidebar acting up. But as long as it's acting up, I may as well put my widgets back in my sidebar and get it out of the post. Doubt I'll do that tonight since it's after 1 a.m. and I have a busy day at work tomorrow, but it's still here if you want to see my word count. It's the next post down.

Let's see. What else is going on? The house drama continues. We're stuck waiting on one house to see if we can even bid on it and waiting to see if a competitor is going to get his loan for the other house we liked. The drama of the first house is too much to tell now but suffice it to say that sometimes we bring trouble on ourselves. Sometimes trouble simply finds us due to no fault of our own. This particular drama is some weird third category with a big flashing neon sign that says, "THIS IS FOR A REASON!" But I can't figure out what it is. It's just too insane to not have a good reason for being. So I wait. I'm hoping the blessing will be that we will get the house because to get it means to have a mortgage we can happily live with. It means practically no disruption to our lives as we know it now because it's only about 3 minutes from my MIL's house where we currently live. It means being around the corner from my sister-in-law (this isn't really the plus but it's still potentially helpful), down the street from a business associate I can talk to and down the street the other way from my new friend who is actually still growing into the title of friend but we're in the same business groups and have known each other about a year now. She's in her 50's, she's single and she's lonely. Living down the street from her would make her year. I just know it. But I can't tell her about this house until I know we have it, lest I disappoint her. But if we get it, my children have one more safe haven in the neighborhood and that would be so awesome. Someone I can trust, you know? The other house is great but it's in Bridgeport which would mean I'd have to hustle back one town to bring my son to his school, then back to Bridgeport to drop off Daughter at preschool, then on to work and I really don't want that stress in the morning because, as I've often said, I am NOT a morning person.

Anything else? Well, our business website is in the middle of getting revamped. Excited about that. A fellow blogger has taken me on as her latest client to redo my newest baby - aka, my blog - to make it look like me and I'm even having a logo designed while my funds aren't yet tied up in a mortgage. I'm very excited. Yes, excited, Kerri, and I don't use that word loosely.

Let's see, I'm down another 2 pounds and hoping to get to my halfway mark before my 36th birthday next month. It's slow going, I won't lie, but I also am not giving it my all because as much as I want to get back to pre-Daughter weight, I'm just not in the mood for this. So I'm only half-hearted therefore I am only doing half as well as I did before. Still, I'm down 23 pounds now and one person who didn't know about it has noticed and that's more than enough incentive to keep going.

It's crazy late now and my clicking on the computer is disturbing Daughter. Why? BECAUSE SHE NEEDS HER OWN ROOM, GOSH DARN IT!

My prayer: Please, sweet Lord. I am S-I-C-K of this situation and You know it. This drama has served to only highlight how badly I need to leave and makes it even more difficult to stay. I know You can see this, which is why I now think Your hand is in this in an unexpected way. I am beyond ready to have my own space. I have so much to do and I am beginning to feel stifled because I am not able to stretch out as I need. You KNOW how I am. You know I need my space, Lord. You also know the last time I was at this juncture - hating my job with every ounce of my being, seeing no signs of freedom, trying to be patient but crying our for release - You made it possible to get a job I didn't think I was qualified for (hmm, Come to think of it. I'm saying the exact same thing about this house) and not only that but have blessed me to love this job in a way I knew was possible but had yet to experience and ran my cup over with 2 raises, a promotion, and the open appreciation of the people I work for - all in less than 2 years. I don't regret stepping out on faith for this job. I'll just trust You to do the same with our first home. And I'll hope my little testimony in the meanwhile can serve to encourage someone else to not give up or settle for less - in love, in a career, in business, in anything they can see in their heads and their hearts. Sometimes we have to do less for a while, but we don't have to settle there.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Keeping Up With My NaNo Wordcount

OK, my widgets off to the side seem to be mucking up the works for all you folk who have IE. Or maybe there is a crazy link somewhere or my pictures are acting up? So I am going to have to post the widgets here and keep this post at the top until I resolve the problem, though it seems to be an IE thing only, not Firefox or whatever else folk are browsing with. Still, if lots of you are using IE, you've got to be wondering what the deal is. So am I.

Anyway, I need a place where I can see myself race myself and this will be it! My own personal word war! Unicorn88 is writing, "The Busy Mommy's Guide to Running Your Business and Your Life" while Unicorn92 is writing, "An Uncertain Love."

May we both win!

Friday, November 03, 2006

NaNo Madness and Other Life Stuff

Well, NaNoWriMo is under way and I am keeping up so far. I've set myself a word goal of at least 1,670 words a day which will get me to 50,100 by the end of the month if I stick to it. I need the coverage because I found the NaNo word counter could add things a little differently from Word and I could conceivably come up 30 words short in the end if I'm not careful. Can not let that happen after spending a month commited to a project like this.

I must say, it's fun but I suspect I will NOT be doing this again. Such a commitment! It's a challenge because I have 10 chapters planned but it may only take me the one day to say something in each one. What happens on November 11th is anyone's guess. I know I need to do some research to help me get over the hump when I get to it. For now, I enjoy just getting to my goal, uploading my text and watching the little graph slowly rise as it stretchs forth to reach that 50,000 word goal.

UPDATE: It's time to confess. If you noticed the two goal keepers, aka NaNo widgets, in my banner off to the side, you're probably wondering what's that about. I am writing two NaNo novels. They are completely different from each other and I welcome the change. So I guess that makes my goal 100,000 words this month. Why am I doing this? Because I'm a freakin' overachiever who can't stop at comfortable. I have to push the limit. And I am INSANE! But now it's public - my insanity and the fact that I am going for two - so that's imposes a deadline on me and for whatever sick reason I am driven by deadlines and pressure.


So Daughter is home sick for the 2nd day in a row. She had a cough for a day and half and my husband took her to the doctor. We got medicine and she got better - or so we thought. He took her to the doctor for her regular checkup on the 1st and suddenly she's coughing again. She had a flu shot and he thinks that had something to do with it but everything I have read about flu shots (because I had to write up some copy on it for my job), says you don't get sick from the flu shot. You may have been getting sick prior to and it's just a coincidence. Yes, she was getting sick prior but it is odd she took a step backward after that shot. I don't know. All I know is my baby does not want to eat (she LOVES to eat), does not want to play, tosses and turns and coughs ALL NIGHT LONG and threw up medicine about 4:30 this morning sending Mr. T. and I racing to get the sheets changed before anything soaked through. She sleeps with us so you know we were moving fast. I tried to get her to sleep with her brother but she eventually found her way back to me. Her aunt also bought her a cute inflatable Dora bed for her birthday and she loved laying on it before she felt like crap. I'll keep trying to usher her out - after she gets better.


Guess what? I got an unexpected promotion and raise at my job! The significance of this? Well, other than the obvious, this lovely turn of events comes on the heels of my telling Mr. T. and my MIL that we need to get pre-approved for our mortgage now and not later. Everything was effective this month so I will have a little more to put on the table when those loan papers get filled out. I couldn't help but feel like it was a sign that my house is finally on the horizon. I'm taking a big chance sharing that much with you because what if my sign is false? Actually, I don't usually think that way and I do trust my instincts about these things. It's kind of like the sign I got about when my time would be up on my last job (that dreaded job). After about 2 years of looking and figuring out exactly where I wanted to go (And hating every moment of that dull position), I felt in January of last year that June would finally be my month. I started here June 27th. I'm a believer in seeing and achieving. I know for a fact that the bad times are only hellishly long while you are in them. When you are out, you can see for miles and miles and you may even be grateful for what you had to go through to get there. And I am. I can appreciate being here doing something I love and I can appreciate being appreciated because I know what it means to be tolerated. Of course, the lesson continues to be a simple one - do what moves you and you'll have little to no regrets. Do what society wants you to do and you not only make yourself miserable but the people around you as well.

Well, I have a date tonight so I need to get back to work and get things set for next week. I hate the thought of leaving my sick baby with the sitter - though I do have a marvelous sitter - but Mr. T. and I are actually going back to a comedy show tonight that we were originally in the midst of watching one month ago when there were underground explosions nearby and the theater had to be evacuated. They rescheduled the show to tonight and it's use the tickets or lose 'em at this point. At least tomorrow I can chill out, write and kiss my sick toddler as she passes more of her yucky germs on to me. But I do love that feeling when she's clinging to me, too tired to move, just wanting her mommy to hold her. It's one of the perks of being a mommy to young children - your touch and your kiss is all they need to be healed. Of course her touch is equally powerful for me.

Later gators!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Happy Birthday to You!

NOTE: I originally posted this text on Saturday, Oct. 28th, My baby's 3rd birthday. But Blogger has an issue with my posting pictures from home. I had to do it elsewhere but Monday was soooo slow. Finally got the photos up on Tuesday. Enjoy!

Today Daughter is 3. My sweet girl (who I never expected to have when I was teenager because I never wanted kids at all - least of all a girl - because they are so whiney and needy and noisy and girls are just plain sneaky and manipulative) is the funniest, smartest, sneakiest, cutest little girl I know. I'm laughing nearly every time I drop her off to school. I don't know why. The girl is just silly! I knew we'd have a connection because she was born on Tuesday, October 28, 2003 (a day I chose since I had a C-section) at 12:18 p.m. You see, 12/18 is my birthday.

I plainly remember one day when I was like 10 or something, sitting on the sofa with my father and he was telling me I was pretty and I remember telling him, "I don't want to be pretty! I want to be cute, like my mommy." Don't ask me, ya'll I still have NO idea what that meant. Ha! So yesterday I was getting Daughter dressed for school and she was standing there smiling her big smile at me and she put her hands on my face and said, "You're cuuute." I fell out. We weren't talking about looks or anything. I wasn't telling her how nice she looked as I usually do. She just volunteered the information and took me back 20 some years without even knowing it.

Today we get our hair done - the first time for her, habit for me. (There she is above beforehand.) Later we get our pictures taken for our holiday cards this year which I haven't sent out in a long time but I figured since her actual birthday is on a Saturday, I can get a 3-year picture taken and hey! we haven't had a family photo since Son was 2 so we're overdue. Actually, we'll take the proper family photo later because Son had his picture taken for school and they were giving free family portraits this year so we'll do it when we get our certificate.

I'l take some pictureS to illustrate the day and post them here later. For some reason I can't seem to get the photos to post when I do it from home so I'll have to wait until I get to work on Monday. So you come back then and see the show!

It's a rainy, grey day. Mr. T didn't work last night so we woke up together. MIL isn't home. My babies are healthy and happy and Daughter is now 3. It's a perfect day.


Daughter insisted she can comb out her own hair. Please forgive the bluriness. It was not until later I realized it was probably my lens and not her moving.

Daughter was actually enjoying everything and did really well getting her hair washed. But she always did.

We were getting our hair dried at the same time. She kept looking at me saying, "What you say?!"

Daughter sat patiently as the girl did her hair and then sat patiently as two other put in the beads. She was quite happy in the end.

My little masterpiece. We went to Sears to take holiday photos and to get her 3-year picture. This isn't the picture we chose but I thought it was so cute. Shows her attitude.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

More Real Estate Nonsense

So if you didn't know this already, my mother-in-law is our real estate agent. I asked her about this guy who is ahead of in bidding on this house to find out how he can just now be looking for the bank loan for this house and she explained that he had a deposit down and we really shouldn't have been able to bid on it but this particular agency keeps its options open until the deal is done. I can understand that somewhat. So he put his deposit down but now he has to find out if he'll actually get his bank loan. There's always the chance he won't but come on. That chance has got to be slim. Horrible as it sounds I do find myself hoping it doesn't go through but for all I know this man has a wife just like me and kids like I do and they need this as much as we do. Maybe even more. But I can't help having a part of me that doesn't want to care. This is a competition - bottom line.

Still, I'm not stupid. Chances are he'll get his loan but if he did not, we'd be doing the same thing he's doing now: we'd step up to the plate and play hurry-up-and-wait with the bank as we find out if our loan will be approved. We're only prequalified right now, just like him. So I asked my MIL why can't we do this bank process NOW and IF - big fat IF - he falls through, we'll already be ready to go and maybe even be the preferred bidders if someone else pops up, even if our bid is lower simply because the money is already in place? She said we could.

So I told my husband while we're waiting/still looking, let's get our ducks in a row now. No surprises. If you didn't know you could do that, my friends, you can. The bank will issue you a pre-approved letter - much better than pre-qualified - and it may last for a few months like a pre-qual, but at the end of that time if you're still looking you simply get a new letter. No biggie. So why not do that?

We will. It will certainly make this whole stupid waiting game feel a lot better. And if this falls through, at least we can keep looking with confidence.

Time to eat.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

And Speaking of Moving...

So last night I had to follow Mr. T while he dropped off his car for winter maintenance. We had just left parent-teacher conferences and Son is doing wonderfully. Apparently he is still Mr. Popular. "When he has to go to the bathroom, EVERYBODY has to go to the bathroom," his teacher laughed. He reads to the class; he writes well; he finishes his math work first and it's right so she lets him play math games to give him so extra learning opportunities. "He seems to be really good with math. Does he do any extra work at home?"

Of course! I want to say. I drill it into him that school is important and that he should always go the extra mile and I make sure he does the extra credit EVERY time and I'm an all-around pain about making my kids try things on their own and THINK about why they are doing what they are doing. I'm a little bit of a pest. I want to say all that but I only share that when we go to the grocery store, I have Son total my groceries as we go.

"Lunchmeat. $6. Tuna. $5. Son, add 6 plus 5."
"Good answer! Juice. 2 for $3. Son, 11 plus 3?"

I'm a busy mommy but I'm trying to maximize the opportunities ya'll.

Anyhoo! (After this major sidetracking because I am a proud mommy after all) Mr. T. asks me last night how much money I have saved. I tell him after all the car troubles I had this year, not as much as I hoped. Why? He wants to put a bid on the dollhouse. We call it that because he is 6' 3" and in just about every new house we saw, things could be a bit tight for him but what ya gonna do? Shrink him? (Thus my picture. Clearly not the actual house we saw. The real picture will come IF we get it.) We saw the house last month and Daughter christened the driveway with her blood when she was running after her brother and fell on her face - my poor baby. Mind you, this was the first house I kinda liked although the school shuffle is going to be a chore in the mornings since it's a Bridgeport house and my son is in school in Stratford, one town north, and I'd then have to turn around and drop off Daughter to preschool in Bridgeport then continue south to work. But I DON'T CARE!

So he tells me he wants to put a bid on it. I already had this house out of my head so I'm trying to remember some of it's nuances on the inside. I just remember I loved the outside and that it's a dead-end street and we're last. Oh yes, it's a brand-new house too, which as you know we've been looking for.

So we re-prequalified with a new mortgage lender who could give us a better rate for a lower amount and apparently the bid goes out today.

Cross everything you can. Mommy's back is starting to hurt from sleeping with a giant and wriggler in a queen-sized bed.

UPDATE: Apparently there is a bid already on the house. Mr. T. talks with the builder from time to time and the builder told him that the other guy has to see if his loan will come through. Apparently they - the builder and real estate agent - think he's shakey. Bully for us - not. How long MIGHT this whole thing take before we find out if the competition is out of the picture? A MONTH. Great day. A month to look into his records? Honestly. Can someone send me back in time to yesterday afternoon before Mr. T. told me he wanted to bid on this house and somehow take me out of the picture until this guy's loan does or does not come through THEN tell me if our bid is accepted or not? I hate this crap. Whoever devised the real estate game was a sadist.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Gotta Get Moving

Boy, where have I been? I just checked the date and I can't believe I haven't posted in what? 13 days?! Amazing how time flies.

Work has been very busy. So much going on, which is great for my financial bottom line. I continue to thank God that I am doing something I believe in. Wanna know what I do? OK, I'll tell you. I'm an Editorial Assistant for a very worthy company. There I shared it - sort of. I write, I edit, I research, I help the Managing Editor to do her job and I love it. I'm continuously amazed at how organized I can be for them and yet my own stuff can be such a mishmash of paper and thoughts and projects.

In addition to work, I've been very busy working on Village Works stuff as well. I went to a conference in NY last week. Ladies Who Launch - you'll find their female entrepreneur of the moment in my sidebar on the right. It was such an awesome feeling being in the midst of all those creative women and hearing story after story of how they achieved success despite some kind of seeming setback. They were bootstrappers, much like I have been throughout the years that my business partner and I have been building this thing. They did what they thought was right, like we do, and they are getting there. It's depressing really. Seems like we should further along in this business than we are now but the truth of the matter is it is difficult to build a business when you have a full-time job and children. Not just a husband, mind you, who can let you go sometimes, but children, who won't necessarily understand why you need to be away from home so much, so I try not to be. Add to that a business partner whose job is 100x busier than mine (she's our pastor's admin) and you've got the making for slow progression. I was so frustrated when I left that meeting - encouraged yet frustrated - that I worked all night Friday night and most of Saturday on our business plan - which we've been working on all year (started a LONG time ago but now I need it done) - and our organizational chart and I created a couple of postcards to send to these two storeowners we've been wanting to meet with. That all required a lot of thought and writing and creativity.

The idea, if you've never read The E-Myth, is for you to work your business, not have your business work you. So you figure out your structure. Act as if you had to set things up to have someone else run the entire show successfully and that means writing charts and personnel manuals, that sort of thing. Not as bad a it sounds actually. I like to write and I'm anal so I have to organize things eventually or I will feel like I'm running in circles. It's kind of just a deeper level of a business plan, which is your vision on paper and we all know what the Bible says about vision, don't we? "Without a vision, the people perish." Also, we are told to "write the vision and make it plain." Wise words. If you want to stay on course, eventually you have to write things down, so I did that this weekend. Well, I always do that, but I did more of it and wrote some new stuff too so now all I need is my partner to give her thoughts on the various "positions" there are in our company and we can move on to phase two of this plan - writing ads for people who can help us get things done.

I think I said it before and I'll say it again - we are at a place where we need help because we simply can't do it all alone. She won't quit her job ever because she loves it, but she loves us too so it's hard. My plan is to eventually be the one to run the show full-time but that won't happen anytime soon since we need a house first. So that means we need help. We can't yet afford to pay for the marketing, PR and sales help that would truly push us along so we're seeking out college help, new professional help, i.e. INEXPENSIVE, but quality help so we can all help each other achieve our goals.

So I'm chomping at the bit right now. My latest version of our business plan is on my computer at my job so I couldn't even update it electronically yet. I've still got to actually get to my partner everything I did this weekend so she can look at it but right now it's MAAFA season at our church and that means my partner is busier than she usually is, plus her daughter is in the production so that's even more for her to do. In the meanwhile, we've got bills to pay off - which we can do, thank God - so we can get out website revamp started and finished before the holiday season sets in and she is the one who balances the checkbook and handles the finances. I told her I understood it all, because I do, but darn it, I'm going nuts here waiting on this stuff to get going. The plus side of all this? I just pretty much plan things and she says OK because we already think alike and agree on how things should be so I don't need her approval to do things. It's just COMPLETING the things that gets a little slow sometimes. Now I don't mean to sound hard on her because the fact is I have seasons when I'm up for things and seasons when I'm not and I just coast. Sometimes every creative bone in my body has clearly lost all their marrow and I'm just a shell of who I can be, but do you think she busts my chops over it? Nope. She knows the deal, just like I do. This is another reason we need to just get some help. To keep things moving when she's otherwise engaged and I'm just falling flat. Bottom line - I am so grateful to have a partner in all this and I'm so grateful to have her, someone I can trust, but sometimes I wish we could spend more time together on this business and already know she feels the same. We simply must make it happen. In the meanwhile, I have a new catalog to work on to keep myself busy and I'll continue figuring out how to get the hele we need. Know what I need? An Ebay pro. Know any?

So, that's where I've been - in the land of my job and Village Works and sort of preparing for NaNoWriMo as well because the book I intend to write has everything to do with what I'm going through right now. Oh, and Daughter had a Parent's Day at her school so I had to do that. And there was that funeral I went to. And I've been really focused and motivated regarding my weight loss so that I WAS down 20 pounds but somehow I'm back up 3 pounds and have to get that off again so I can get down to my next mini goal. Thankfully I'm still somewhat motivated to do that, but it sure does add to my already mounting frustration. The reasonable side of me says that losing 20 in not quite 4 months is not horrible, not actually shabby at all since you only gain about 10 pounds in year if you don't watch yourself. But the other side says, "Poppycock! You KNOW what you can do and your mind is just not all here!" True, true. Shoot, I'm even mad there's no good scary movies on TV OR in the video store. See The Omen yet? Don't bother. It's as scary and "shocking" as the original and that was NOT scary stuff. They practically stuck to the original script, which made it all the worse. Oh, and the "extended scenes too scary for theaters"? Yes, maybe if you are in a childen's theater. Bore-ring!

Sigh. I've got to go take children's coats out of the washing machine now and start taking my daughter's braids out. Saturday she turns 3 so that will be my focus all this week. I'm taking her to get her hair done that day and then we're taking a holiday photo because I think I can stand to be photographed right now. Plus we have to get the Dora cake she keeps talking about and I've got to get her a gift and I don't even get paid until the end of the month so I have to borrow from myself to do all this.

Yuck. I'm sick of listening to myself. I've gotta go read now.