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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Vehicles and Beds...

This is just going to be a quickie to answer some specific questions that have been posed several times over the past few weeks. I figured it was easier to just do it here....

The girls' beds....this is basically what they turned out looking like.

The first one is Emily's. She wanted hers to be lower than Sarah did, so this is what she and I designed. It's all just 3/4" plywood and there's a piece on the back (against the wall) to keep anything that is shoved into the cubbies from going out the other side - and to make the whole thing sturdier.

We are going to do the zebra duct tape on all of the edges - it's easier than sanding them all down and it looks cool. I think she's eventually going to paint the inside of the cubbies too, but that's up to her to decide.

Sarah wanted taller, so she designed hers to be taller - although it would drive me insane. I did put a second piece of plywood across the top of hers to further reinforce it to support the weight of her and her mattress. So far she has opted not to paint hers - we'll see if she changes her mind or not.

Both of the beds just take a standard twin-sized mattress. They are heavy and they are not going anywhere. Literally. They won't fit through the doors of the rooms.

Now on to the bigger question.....

The vehicle.

I still don't know what to call it. It's not really a van, or a car, or an SUV. I think technically it's a crossover, whatever that means.


My minivan died a few months ago, shortly after I paid it off. So I had to get something different.  But, I was in the middle of financing the house, so I couldn't run out and finance something else and risk screwing up my credit, right?

Enter the GrandpaCar - the Grand Marquis - I bought it from a friend's grandfather because I needed something that the kids and I could all fit into, but not have to be financed. It worked for us, but it was very crowded and uncomfortable.

I kept putting money aside into what I was calling the "house/van" fund - money to be used for both. I also got a very sizable tax refund which went straight into that fund. Once the house was settled and we closed and we had gotten done with the initial "big" expenses, I did some figuring and decided that I could start looking for another minivan. So I called a couple of the local dealerships and basically said "I need something used, inexpensive, mechanically sound, and can seat 7 - find it for me" and turned them loose.

One of them called me back the next day and said "I know you said minivan, but what about a Traverse? It seats 8....." The Dude and I went and looked at it with no intentions of buying it at all - I really just wanted to see how something that was NOT a minivan could seat 8 people. Long story short, I liked it. We went back home and I researched it and liked what I could find on the safety stuff and whatnot, and the price that they had on it was a couple of thousand below the blue book value. So we started talking money and I said that I was thinking about just scrapping my dead van - instead the dealership sent a couple of guys out to the house to look at it and they ended up offering me an insane (to me) amount of money in trade.

Between what they were asking for the Traverse, what I could afford to put down, and what they gave me for the dead van, I was able to get the payments under where I wanted them to be AND get a really good warranty on it. At that point, I would be stupid to not get it.....so I got it. I kept the GrandpaCar  for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is that I have a kid who will be driving in a few months - and whether she likes it or not, she can drive that. And since The Dude's truck is iffy at times, he can drive it when he needs to go out of town or whatever.

Any other questions? :)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Dear House...

I left you today.

When I found you, I was desperate. I had no place to go. I searched and searched to try to find a place that would work for my family, and I couldn't find anything. Finally, you came along. When the kids and I walked in and looked around, we knew right away that we could use you, even if it wasn't going to be very comfortable. The landlord was willing to work with a single mom with 5 kids and no income, even if it meant that he would have to wait for the rent payments to come through the homeless prevention program that was assisting me.

Emotionally, I was at an all-time low in my life. Depression had truly gotten the best of me, and I didn't know what I was going to do next. My church family moved us - seriously, they packed up our stuff and moved us because I just couldn't do it. Honestly, I don't know if they even realized the extent of the darkness surrounding me at that point in my life. Whether they did or not, they stepped up and rescued me.

I remember standing in the middle of the living room as people moved in and out, carrying boxes and bags and piling them up in any empty space they could find. When you were packed completely full, they started stacking stuff on the porches. I sobbed as the amount of stuff in such a tiny place seemed to swallow me alive.

It took what seemed like forever for me to get my act together and get things straightened up and organized. I donated tons of stuff to get rid of it and make room, because going from a 2 story 4 bedroom house with an office and tons of storage, to you with only 2 bedrooms and zero storage made downsizing not only necessary, but mandatory. It felt good to get rid of so much crap - both literally and figuratively, because as I got rid of some of it, I felt the emotional baggage go along with it.

As time went on, I started to see the light. I got my stuff organized and I got my feelings organized. I started living life again. I filed for divorce and waited patiently for it to become final, which would happen on my 40th birthday. And 20 days after that, my ex-husband died and I boarded one of the biggest, scariest, longest lasting emotional rollercoasters ever created. His death was the last thing that I ever wanted, the last thing I ever expected, and easily one of the hardest things that I have ever had to go through in my life.

I spent hours sitting at the table in your kitchen, dealing with Social Security and pensions and death benefits and bill collectors and the IRS, trying to make sense of it all. And when I couldn't focus anymore, I'd fall over on the futon in the corner of your living room and sleep for a few hours until I had to get up and face another day.

Within your walls, I started to rebuild my life. I started dating, and then I stopped to deal with the emotions of his death. And then I started to live again.

I helped my kids with their homework. I did their laundry and packed their lunches and baked their birthday cakes. I planted flowers and cut the grass and replaced light switches. I canned sand plums and strawberry jam and applesauce. I fixed the She-Beast time and time again in your driveway. I held my kids while they cried and I disciplined them when they needed it and kissed their boo-boos that they got from playing in the yard. I started dating this crazy guy and then fell in love with him and even got up the nerve to tell him that I loved him in the front room in the wee hours of the morning before a road trip to Kansas City to take a friend to the airport.

And through all of this, I learned so much about myself. I learned just how strong I can really be - and at the same time that I don't have to always be so strong. I learned that I can take care of myself and my family, but that it is also ok to ask for help once in a while - or to accept it when it is offered. I learned that if you want something bad enough, you can get it - even if it takes a lot of time, effort, and patience to get there.

As we've been packing up our lives and moving stuff out over the past few weeks, I've been hit with emotional waves more often than I'd care to admit. As much as I complained about how small you were and OMG Why Can't We Have A House With More Than One Toilet, I loved you dearly. You were there for me in so many ways, not just as a house, but as a home, a shelter, and a place to grow.

There are so many amazing memories that happened within your walls. But what I will remember most is that I found the most important thing in my life within your walls.

I found myself.

The Ghetto-esque House
Sept. 1, 2010 - March 7, 2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

No really, it has to be done.

Over the past few weeks, as I've been working to get moved and get things unpacked and organized in the new house, I've really been pushing myself. I've gone past my breaking point several times and have literally had meltdowns where I've ugly cried and sobbed and snotted and screamed and honestly lost my mind. And then I sniffled and blew my nose and wiped the tears away and kept on going with what I was doing.

Why? Why do I do this to myself? Why can't I listen when people say "but you've got lots of time" or "the boxes can wait" or "take a day off and relax"?

There are so many reasons.

I'll be honest. Some of it is just me being stubborn. Shocker, I know.

But, I have reasons to be stubborn.

There are people....people who are waiting for me to fail. People who don't think that I deserve to have this house or the new vehicle or anything else that I've busted my ass for over the past few years. Yeah, I get the Social Security money, so I didn't "work" for a lot of my income. But I used that income to pay the bills and to take care of my family and I put a bunch of it aside in order to make this happen. We've gone without things that we wanted in order to make this happen. I've paid off bills from my 'past life' to make this happen. I've paid off bills that weren't even mine to make this happen. I worked full-time for a short period in order to speed up the process. I've done whatever I could do to get here, regardless of whether or not other people think that I deserve it.

There are other people.....people who will go so far as to watch me fall in order to take advantage of it and use it to hurt me even more. I know that I put a lot of my life out here for people to see, but there is so much more that happens behind the scenes. There is so much drama that I don't discuss for many reasons - and the people who are waiting for me to fall are a part of that. It might sound like I'm being dramatic - but I'm not.

There are even people who don't even know me who already have preconceived notions about me, and they're wrong. But I can't convince them of that - I can only show them that I am a better person than I've been made out to be in the past.

There are my kids. We moved in order for them to have a better home, a cleaner home, a safer home. As long as they have exposed wiring and pipes and breaker boxes and sump pumps and crawl space openings in their bedrooms, they do not have the living conditions that they deserve. Those things have to be done, and there is a time limit on those things

For those of you who are wondering, The Dude is not living here. Not yet. There are multiple reasons for that, none of which have to do with our relationship. We are just as strong as ever, and I have no intentions of letting go of him. The timing just isn't right for him to move yet. He has responsibilities at his place, and he can't ignore them. He helps me when he can, but his time is limited right now.

The older kids have been helping me - when they're here. But, they're only here 50% of the time. And when they're "here" they're also in school or at school activities or at church activities or whatnot - so yes, they help when they can.

For the most part, I'm on my own with this. I had tons of help with the actual move - friends from church have been amazing and helped clean this place and are still helping to clean the old place and they used their manpower and truck power to do the actual move. But the unpacking and organizing and fixing up and everything else is pretty much all me.

There ARE time limits and deadlines. Some of them are self-imposed. But the majority of them are not, and I have to follow them in order to avoid a lot of unnecessary drama and stress. It's just the way that it is right now.

With all of that being said....I appreciate the amount of support that I get from my friends and the readers of this blog (even though I hardly blog anymore) and from the people on my facebook page. Y'all are seriously wonderful and you give me the strength that I need on the bad days and for that I am eternally grateful. I wish that I could explain some of this in more detail, but I just can't. But hopefully this will give you a better understanding of why I am pushing myself so hard to get this stuff done.

On that note....

My kitchen is starting to look like a kitchen.... even though I don't have it all totally unpacked yet. I seriously can't wait to get it all done, but I can at least cook now.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


It's time to make some changes.

I've talked before about how much I hate my job, and realistically, that hasn't changed.

Granted, CrankyPants has had a much better attitude for the past couple of months, and that has made a huge difference. But when it comes right down to it, I really hate being there. Don't get me wrong...there are parts that I enjoy, and I love 99% of my coworkers.... but I just don't like the job.

Physically, it's gotten to be too much for me. The stress and the constant running and the constant being on my feet is taking its toll. It's getting to the point that I can barely walk when I get home because I hurt so bad - and that's not fair to me or to the kids. They want and need me to be able to do things, and to tell them "I'm sorry, but I hurt too much" is just wrong. I can't keep up with the house because I'm so worn out and sore all of the time.

I've been doing some serious soul-searching over the past few weeks, and I decided to do something about it. I walked up to CrankyPants yesterday determined to quit. We talked about what is going on and why I need to change - the physical impact, issues with the kids and child care, etc - and we decided that I would go down to part-time status, at least for now. I can pick and choose my hours (for the most part) and work when I want to work.

She already gave me my schedule for next week, and although it's not a huge reduction in hours, it's still less. She still needs me to open a few days until she gets some other people trained - and I agreed to that not for her, but for my coworkers who will end up picking up my slack.

At this point, we are doing this assuming that I am closing on the house on Monday as planned. I know that realistically, quitting and/or cutting my hours before closing is not the best idea - so if for some crazy reason the closing is postponed, we'll adjust our plan as needed. Right now, for once in my life, I'm taking care of ME. This is something that I need to do - hopefully it's the right thing.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Maybe it's official....

Lots of stuff still going on with the house. After all of the chaos that was Friday, we had a fairly quiet weekend. I waited to hear back from Mortgage Lady because she said she was going to touch base with me on Sunday, but I didn't hear from her.

Yesterday morning, I got an email from a woman who works with Mortgage Lady. She needed some additional info (mainly documentation of that bill being paid off) and so we emailed back and forth several times until I got an email from her that about knocked me out of my seat....

Unfortunately {Mortgage Lady} is no longer with us. I believe that she is still going to finish the files that she has but she will not be in the {local} office.

Wait, what????!?!?!! What do you mean?!?!?! Mortgage Lady has been there for me from the get-go! She's been there since before I even started the process! How can she just leave me hanging like this??? Noooooooooo.......

After I got over my initial panic, Mortgage Lady 2.0 explained that she had been working with Mortgage Lady the entire time, and everything would be fine. She knows my story, she knows my file, and there is nothing to worry about.

Uh huh. Sure. Easy for her to say.

Anyway, more emails between me and Mortgage Lady 2.0, and me and Realtor Lady, and I started to think that maybe, just maybe things were going to be ok. They seemed way calmer about the whole situation than I was, so I did my best to take my cues from them.

I didn't have to work today, so after I got the boys to school I came home and started puttering around. I had gotten some empty boxes from work and decided to start in the laundry room, which has been a store room to a ton of games and toys that the kids just don't use anymore. I started going through the stuff and trashed the ones that were missing too many pieces, packed the ones that I want to keep, and posted the rest on facebook in the hopes that some of my friends would want to adopt some new games.

I actually made a little bit of progress, although there's still way more to do - but at least I got started. No more denial - time to start packing.

The Dude came over to hang out for a while this afternoon and we were talking about everything that has been happening with all of this. Then the emails started flying again. Long story short, closing is now officially scheduled for Monday, January 27 at 3:00pm.

Officially. Like.....it's going to happen.

*commence panic attack #745,812 of this process*

At that point we decided to go out and grab a (very) late lunch. As we ate, he tried to talk me down from my freak out (he failed miserably) and we just tried to absorb the enormity of what is about to happen.

As I go through this process, there are so many emotions that go along with it. On the outside, it's just me buying a house - not such a big deal. People do it every day.

But there's also the doubt, the fear, the caution that it might not happen. I know in my head at this point, it's going to happen. But it seems like such a stretch for me - ME - to be doing this. I've made some pretty stupid choices in my life, and none of them should have led me in this direction, but here I am about to commit to a 6-figure investment that in a way I feel that I don't even deserve.

I know that realistically, I could not afford to do this without the Social Security. And I am well-aware that I would not be receiving that if my second husband hadn't passed away. That makes this whole process more than a bit bittersweet for me. I still battle with the feelings of guilt over his death, even though I know that it wasn't my fault. I struggle with the thought that the money that Daniel and I get because he died is what is making the home of my dreams a reality for me - but at the same time, I know that I am doing the right thing by making sure that we have a home that suits our needs in so many ways.

I think about my battle to avoid homelessness a few years ago, and can't wrap my head around the fact that very soon, we will be in a house with 6 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms and more than enough room to meet our needs plus some.

Overwhelming doesn't even begin to describe it. Seriously, there are no words to describe how I'm feeling right now. I wish that I could explain it, and I will probably ramble on and on about it over the next few weeks as I try to work through all of it in my head. All I know is that right now, I'm caught somewhere between ecstatic and numb - and feeling maybe a little bit of both.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Progress.....I think.


Two blog posts in two days? Can it be????

Seriously though, I want to do better about this, plus use this as sort of a journal of the last leg of this house-buying journey.

Alex and Daniel didn't have school today, so we slept in a little bit. I had to get Alex to Wichita this morning for an allergist appointment, so when I woke up I knew we had to get moving fairly soon. I checked my phone to see what notifications I had, and there was an email from Mortgage Lady. I read it and quickly grabbed the laptop.

Basically, what she said was that the Rural Development people had already gone over everything, and there were a couple of things that I needed to do. One was to pay off a really really old bill - back in my past life, an old cable bill had gone to collections and stayed there. When we started working on my credit report, we ignored that one for several reasons, but we knew that it would probably have to be paid prior to closing on the house. When my file went to the underwriters, they made me pay off another one that was in collections, but never said anything about this one - so we hoped that they were going to ignore it. Long story short, they didn't ignore it, and I had to pay it. No biggie - I was prepared, plus today was payday from work so the money was already in my checking account. I dug up the number for the collection agency, called them and paid it in full before I even got out of bed.

I emailed Mortgage Lady to let her know. She would need verification as soon as they processed the payment so I called the collection agency back and they said that they would fax her the info.

The boys and I hopped into the GrandpaCar and took off for Wichita. The appointment went well and we grabbed a quick lunch afterwards. Another email from Mortgage Lady arrived - the "dirt work" has to be done.

"Dirt work" - another long story.

Shortened version - structural engineer inspected the house and it passed with flying colors. On his report, he put a disclaimer that he puts on every single one of his reports saying that there should be dirt put around the foundation sloping away from the house to help with drainage. Rural Development now decided that this HAS to be done. We had a feeling that this was going to happen too, so Realtor Lady already had a spare load of dirt dumped at the house (the woman is awesome). I tried unsuccessfully to locate a wheelbarrow on my way back from Wichita, and instead stopped and bought one. Seriously - I've been wanting one for a while (who in their right mind wants to buy a wheelbarrow? and do you know how expensive those things are? and how hard they are to fit in the trunk of the GrandpaCar?) so I just bought it. Boom.

Came home, changed clothes, bought lunch for The Dude, took that to him, tossed the wheelbarrow in the back of his truck, threw him the keys to the GrandpaCar, and took off to the house.

I spent the next 3-4 hours moving wheelbarrow loads of dirt from the driveway to the side of the house, as well as battling the boys to NOT throw piles of dirt in the driveway, and to stay out of the truck, and to stay where I could see them, and no I'm not driving across town just to get you a drink, yada yada yadaaaaa......

Suddenly another truck pulled into the driveway. A man and a woman got out and the man introduced himself to me as the seller.

Oooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhh......so YOU are the man who has been a total pain in my ass since this thing started? I had to stop myself from saying it out loud. The woman with him was his mother-in-law, who also happens to be his realtor.


We actually had a very nice visit. We chatted about the house in general and I told them how I had immediately fallen in love with it. I told them about some of our plans, and as soon as I mentioned putting a clothesline in out back, I immediately got on the mother-in-law's good side and she joined in on the conversation. They shared a little bit more about the history of the house and I told them that I was interested in learning anything that they want to share about it. It was awesome, and they admitted that they were relieved that someone wasn't going to just buy it and flip it, but was instead going to fix it up and live in it and love it. I told them about how I had lost everything and was days away from being homeless a few years ago, and how that made this whole process so much more important for me. All in all I think that it was a great little chat and having that face-to-face interaction was a nice surprise prior to meeting over the closing documents.

I did find it amusing that he is planning to pay someone to move the pool table out of the basement just so that he can sell it. I told him that he is more than welcome to leave it there, but he really wants to sell it. I'm curious to see if it actually happens or not - it honestly doesn't bother me one way or another. It would be nice to have, but I can use the added floor space just as much as I can use the table.

Oh, and they're taking the rocks out of the one flowerbed. Yes, the rocks. But, in his defense they're from various camping trips all over the country, so they do actually have sentimental value.

He also warned me that the neighborhood can be kind of competitive when it comes to yardwork.

Ha. Bring it.

In the meantime, more emails back and forth. Mortgage Lady was having trouble getting the verification that she needed from the collection agency, so I called them again. As it turned out, I had to fax them something with my signature for them to release the information to her (and you didn't tell me that this morning because...............?????) and since The Dude's truck isn't equipped with a portable fax machine, I had to cut my dirt moving short, drive back to town, stop at my bank, scrounge up a piece of paper, write out the authorization, and have them fax it to Mortgage Lady. I emailed her to let her know that they now had the authorization - so hopefully she got what she needed from them.

Back to the house to dump the wheelbarrow into the garage, then to The Dude's work to swap vehicles with him, then out to grab something to eat. Then home again.

Baths. Cleaning. Laundry. Preparing to go back to work tomorrow. Hoping that The Dude is over his stomach bug enough that he can handle the boys all day while I'm stuck in Fast Food Hell. Still trying to figure out how to deal with this whole job thing. Making lists of things that need to be done in both houses before/during/after the move. Hoping to win the lottery just to make life easier.

Just another day.....

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's been a little while.....

So yeah. It's been a while since I've blogged anything. I've been wanting to, trust me. But I just haven't had the time or the energy.

Here's a nutshell for you:

Things are still progressing with the house. Like......all we're waiting for at this point is a date to close. The file went from the underwriters to the Rural Development people a couple of days ago, and RD is taking an average of 10 days to do their thing right now. Once they do their thing, all that's left is the closing. So I have reason to believe that I'll be a homeowner within the next few weeks.

Then there's the job. I've talked about the stress before, and it's really only gotten worse. Although CrankyPants hasn't been as cranky lately, she still has her moments. Not to mention that the job in general just sucks. I'm still not a morning person, and add to that being on my feet for 8+ hours straight without a break, and I'm miserable. I come out of there hurting so much by the end of the day that I can barely walk, and I can't get anything done around the house because I hurt so much.

Then of course there was the whole issue with my van finally self-destructing. It's still sitting in my backyard, dead - and it needs to go away. But I need to find the time to get it cleaned out and list it for sale. Or scrap it. Or something. Add that to the list of things to do.

I borrowed a friend's itty bitty car for a couple of weeks until I could buy my GrandpaCar - literally, it belonged to a friend's grandfather. It's not the most ideal vehicle for us, but I was limited because I can't just go out and finance something while I'm waiting to get the approval for the house. But, it works and it gets us where we need to go. It has a few quirks and needs a little bit of work done to it, but that'll hopefully be taken care of in the next few weeks sometime.

Add all of that to the normal stress of our everyday life, running kids to and from everywhere they need to go, trying to spend as much time as possible with The Dude, dealing with random health issues, handling landlord/maintenance issues in my current house, and trying to maintain some semblance of sanity - and you can imagine how hectic it's been.

Seriously though....the biggest worry on my mind right now is my job. I keep making lists of pros and cons in my head, and I can't really come up with anything good about it except for my coworkers - and I don't have to have the job to keep in touch with them. The hours make it extremely difficult for me to do much of anything for myself - and I find myself getting less and less sleep just to try to get the basics done. The job is making it harder for me to take care of myself - and if I don't do that, I'm just not going to make it. I know that right now, I've about pushed myself to the limit, both physically and mentally. I just don't think that I can do it anymore. Being in the fortunate position of not needing the job to survive makes it harder for me to go in every day - because why would anyone put themselves through this if it wasn't needed?

So at this point, I know that I'm going to quit - I just don't know when. I want it to be sooner rather than later, but I also have to make sure that the drop in my income won't affect my chances of getting the final loan approval. I qualify for the house even without the job income - but I don't want to risk it. I sent an email to Mortgage Lady asking her opinion on it, and I'm waiting to hear back from her before I do anything.

That's where I am. One big stressed out and anxiety-ridden mess.

But it could be worse. It could always be worse.