Monday, December 28, 2009

We missed Christmas!

Andrew and I did not exchange gifts this year. Our gift to each other and the kids was to find a place to live, and we did. We signed the lease on Christmas Eve, swiftly made our way back home to open the champagne and let the festivities begin.

With time to relax and enjoy a nice meal, albeit, the roast beast grandma brought took 3 hours to roast, so dinner was late. Bleary-eyed from from the cocktails and no longer hungry, we all sat for dinner at 8:00. I have to say, even though I was no longer hungry, the food was delicious.

Grandma made the mashed potatoes ahead of time and they horrifyingly swam in butter, and they were to die for. The french beans were quickly blanched and then sauteed in a little fat from the roast and then promptly tossed with a little fresh Parmesan. Gabi never noticed any of these fabulous morsels because she ate the entire collection of crab legs.

Soon after the dishes were done, we all called it a night, and it was none too soon for me. My escape into slumber would have been effortless I'm sure but I decided to leave nothing to chance. I consulted the sandman from the little, brown pharmacy bottle to make assurances that not even Santa could ruin my respite from reality.

Christmas Day was fun but it made me realize that we came straight from Thanksgiving, right into Christmas morning. There was no shopping, no lists, no wrapping of gifts, no baking for fun, no secrets to keep, and no excursions with Andrew to make little dreams come true.

We spent the rest of the day at my brother's house and we were all together again. It was fun and silly, and for once, no tension between our siblings. I thoroughly enjoyed the shrill chaos that is my family. But it was time to go, back to our reality. On the quiet ride home, I was reminded again, that Christmas was over and we missed it. I felt a little sad yet still overwhelmed by the new chapter that we are about to open in our lives.

Gabi is getting excited about the move and I think Drew might be too. We worked all day yesterday, packing and purging and cleaning, yet it doesn't look like we've done very much. That's a little scary!

It's Monday now and we have much to do. I am not sure that Andrew realizes how much because he scheduled a fun parent/child soccer scrimmage at the park with our team and parents. He insists I come along but I can't help thinking that we have too much to do. Gabi insists that I go and I sure it will be fun, maybe I will give in and join the crowd, it might do me some good.

I hope you all had a great holiday, I did. I know that sounds a little hypocritical after my little rant but, I did have a good time and I do have so much to be grateful for....

Ta Ta for now and I'll keep you posted on the move.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's Christmas Eve and we have 6 days to go

The in-laws are coming today and we are supposed to sign a lease for a house today. When the parents get here we will all run over to the house so everyone can see it and we can sign all the necessary paperwork.

We pull up to the new house again and Andrew realizes that our son's old baseball coach lives at the end of the street. It should be nice for Little Drew to see a friendly face. I decide that I like the house even more once I go through it again, even though it seems smaller than I had remembered.

It's a very nice house but we all chuckle a little to ourselves on how such a modest home has rather ornate and large chandeliers that take you aback for a moment. Maybe that is what made the house feel larger to me in the first place.

There are also 2 sizable wall mirrors in the formal and informal living areas. It makes it feel a bit daunting, I mean who wants see their full reflection in every room of the house. It could also be a source for good, I mean, if I have to look at this all day, I might be shamed into doing something about it.

So the other area of contention is the lovely mirror that covers the entire wall in the master bedroom where the headboard should go. The Realtor laughed, "At least it's not on the ceiling!" "Well, maybe that's where I prefer it," I replied calmly as his smile very quickly disappeared into silence. I saved us all from the awkward moment and laughed and I let him in on the joke. "After all," I told him, "no one needs to see that!"

The kids of course, began to do what they do best, fight. They fought over who gets what bedroom, who gets the television from the bonus room since this house has no such room. I began to daydream of all the 2 bedroom beach cottages I could have rented in Laguna for the same price that were completely unfit for families. I could hear the waves crashing every morning, the waves got louder and louder! My daydream came to an abrupt halt when I realized those crashing waves were, yet again, the children arguing incessantly. Those are the crashing waves of my life. I sure do love low tide.

Well, we've seen it all. Time to go back to the house and start the Christmas Eve festivities. Open the champagne immediately, put the rib roast in the oven and snack til it hurts. A bit of calm before the moving storm, a very welcome evening indeed.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

7 Days to go...

Ok, so yesterday was not a stellar day. We had been waiting for an answer from a potential landlord since last week. She even called to ask if we could up our offer just a little, so we did. I mean, after all what's $100 worth if the choice is a house in a fantastic neighborhood or no house at all? After 5 days of the agonizing wait, the owner of the home decided not to let any of the applicants live in her house! I guess that is why her house has been sitting vacant for the last 4 months.

So back to the drawing board, we scheduled 2 homes to view that same morning while waiting for crazy landlords to play lookiloo with potential renters. We saw 2 very viable options, more than we wanted to pay but time is not on our side and we can only deal with what is currently on the market this week. We applied for both and heard a response from one owner immediately when he heard we could pay up front.

This was definitely encouraging news since he even offered to let us start moving in right away. Then there was a knock at the door. It was an officer from animal control who said my dogs needed to be quarantined, even though they were all up to date on their shots, someone had claimed she had been bitten. I thought it interesting that the report stated that she was not sure who bit her but it had to be one of my dogs. Now this all stemmed from a fight at the dog park that her dog started. I find it ironic that I had to protect my dog from hers as he was relentlessly going after my dog who is timid and somewhat older. She did say after the fight that she was bitten and I asked her who bit her and she claimed she did not know. She later asked me if my dogs were up to date on their shots and I assured her they were. I do know this woman from the dog park so I was hurt and angry that she called animal control. If nothing else she could have told me that she did but all she did was smile at me a the dog park and never mentioned it at all.

My dogs cannot be walked for 10 days, they are required to stay home. I am angry and sad but there is nothing I can do.

Needless to say, the very enthusiastic landlord never called back that day. We are off to see another home this morning but it is getting more futile as each day passes. It's 2 days until Christmas and I have not purchased one gift for my children as any money we have has to go to a deposit on a house, if we ever get any takers...

It doesn't feel like Christmas to me, not because of the gifts or the money, but because I am not surrounded my people concerned for their fellow man, it's the exact opposite. Buyers of our home squeezing us, because they can, oh, and she's a pastor. Landlords squeezing us because they see we have no time left to bargain with. The mortgage company continues to call even though they have been informed that our house is in escrow, constantly reminding me that the auction date draws near. My one escape from it all for me and my dogs, where I go to relax and enjoy social time with friends, where I get to see my dogs let go and have fun to their hearts content, is now off limits to me as well.

Merry Christmas to all....

Saturday, December 19, 2009

10 Days to Go...

Found the nicest house to rent on a hill with an amazing view and completely remodeled, it was advertised as vacant so we went to see it immediately. We pulled up and ti was better than I imagined...except for the people living in it that had already rented it 3 weeks a ago.

Well, onward we must go, continuing our search for a suitable living situation. I have no more energy left to panic about the time ticking away, it's too exhausting. We did apply for a really nice home that was my son's absolute favorite but the owner is concerned that our house might fall out of escrow. He also doesn't like the fact that we don't have jobs even though we receive $3600 a month in unemployment and will net enough off of our house to live for quite some time. We also offered to pay 6 months in advance. Apparently that was too scary for him?

Ok, I am over that one as well. If he can't see that we have the money, job or no job, I am not sure I want someone like that for a landlord anyway. This is going to be a big challenge, but to be frank, so was trying to sell our house in 2 weeks and it sold in 2 days.

I am not of the mindset that "everything happens for a reason", or "everything will work out for the best", because that's a crock. Things happen sometimes for no reason at all, you just have to rise to challenge and deal with it the best you can. That's life! Life is a crap shoot and you gotta have fun in between the bad times.

Some of us are fortunate to mostly good times and some of us live a challenged existence. It is what it is and when it is difficult, you learn not sweat the small stuff. I have noticed that some people that I come across who might be considered by most as "lucky" really let the small stuff drive them mad. I get a kick out of that.

Maybe what we can all learn from this is that none of us should sweat the small stuff and we would all have a lot more joy while we walk through this life.

Friday, December 18, 2009

11 Days to go and still Homeless.....

I can't deny that it is a good feeling to have someone buy your house the very first day of showings. It makes you feel as though they can see what you see and they can feel what a home this has been for our family, good times and bad.

I remember when we bought this place and we wanted to bring our contractor in to do measurements before escrow had closed. The previous owner opened the door, she refused to let us in and I could see the tears forming in her eyes. At the time it seemed so ridiculous to me, after all it's only a house, right? Wrong! I wish I could apologize for my naive, callous demeanor towards her. That woman and I are now part of the same club I guess. Although I am happy to let my buyer in to measure for new flooring because it gives me a sense of reassurance that he won't back out of the deal. Sure, it could be a false sense of security, but hey, I'll take it.

This is all new to me, this searching for a home to rent. I see potential everywhere, alas, the potential will not be mine, because the house will not be mine. So, whenever we see a problem I always say, "Well we're not buying it." It makes me feel a little sad, but knowing we will be debt free is the source of my sanity in all of this.

I have to say there are some really decent places to rent, we just have to get someone to accept us with all of these dogs, no small feat mind you. They are family and with us they must go. My beast of a puppy has the sweetest face and it brings happiness to all of us and there is no price that you can put on that.

With 11 days to go, the pressure mounts with every passing hour, but we stay diligent in our hope that someone will be understanding of our situation. To me that is the Christmas spirit...of course, a little champagne never hurts.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Long time no see...

Looks like we are another statistic of this bad economy. Andrew and I are still out of work, phone never stops ringing with people wanting something we don't have. It got so bad that my kids even learned which calls to answer and which calls to ignore.

The mortgage holder, which is not a bank mind you, screwed up our loan mod paperwork so much that they scheduled a trustee sale....oh yeah, and slapped the notice on our front door the night before Thanksgiving! My 10 year old son found it and cried, "Mom, I think we are in trouble!"

Unfortunately, my little darling was right. It took another week of phone calls and last ditch efforts talking to $10 and hour, gum chewing prepubescents to realize there was no more time to waste. I would sooner die than let these "investors" take our house and all the equity with it.

The neighborhood real estate expert received a very tearful phone call from me that same day and we immediately scheduled an appointment to list the house. After I told her the facts of our situation, in between sobs, she reassured me that if we priced aggressively we could sell our house as this is a very desirable neighborhood. I already knew our neighborhood was desirable which was one of the reasons that it tears me up inside to leave it. Due to our situation, she reminded me that we only had 2 weeks in which to sell our house. Was this even possible? It's Christmas time after all!

She made no promises but felt confident about the price we set our listing. She was comforting, understanding, empathetic and the calming force in our emotional hurricane. We shook hands and parted ways on a cold Sunday evening.

The next day, the rain came and it was relentless, so apropos for my emotional state. But I refused to surrender so my only escape was to go to the gym and get a much needed workout. I spent the rest of the day fulfilling cupcake orders.

Then the calls started rolling in, "Can we show your house tomorrow"? "Oh no, this is really real, my mind started to race all over again. The appointments started to pile up. Thank God we had already decorated for Christmas because the house looked great at Christmastime.

Andrew and I spent the day walking the dogs over and over again as perspective buys looked into our most private living spaces. How could something feel so encouraging and so frightening all at the same time?

We received an offer that same afternoon and in escrow 2 days later! Um, I was just getting used to the idea that we might have to sell our house. Well, if you're going to do something difficult it's better just to get it over with, right?

Yesterday was the day for all the inspections and the idea made Andrew and I as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Ok, I know, that is a little cheesy but you get the idea. As some of you may or may not know, Andrew and I don't always have the best of luck in most aspects of our lives so we have a mind set of "expect the worst but hope for the best." Sometimes "Hope" is a bitter bitch!

We searched for rental property yesterday and there are a couple of good prospects but none of which is ideal. We have exactly 14 days to find a new place and get into it. No pressure!

I'll wrap this up for the day and keep you posted in case you would like to go on this journey with me...