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Thursday, April 26, 2012

I was recently telling my mom how CRAZY it is that in just a little over a month we will (HOPEFULLY) need to have every belonging packed up and cleared out of here for moving day – May 28th!  We’ve reached “Mutual Acceptance” on the home we want to buy, which means things are finally starting to REALLY come together!!  When Larry and Kathy (realtor-extraordinaires) called to say, “Congratulations, you’re buying a house!”  I, of course, shrieked a little and got VERY excited.  Then, just as often happens, Mike was the voice of reason.  Don’t get me wrong, he was happy and excited but this was the conversation:

Me: YAY! (shouting)

Mike: Yay! (with happiness but at a normal volume).

Me: YAY. (with some insinsistence that he reach my level of joy/volume).

Mike: Yay! (more monotone).  Now we have more paperwork to do.

Me: OK, but YAY!

Mike: Yay. (even more monotone).  Now we have to get through the inspections.

Me: (a little angry now), Yes, I know, but YAY. (darn it).

Mike: Yay.  Oh, we need to write the big, fat earnest money check….but, yes, yay!

Me: Monotone yay.

See, I’ve learned that there are about 25 hoops to get through before you’ve actually successfully sold/bought a home.  It’s kind of like how I felt when I learned how that whole babies-are-made thing.  First, it grossed me out a little (I was 9 or 10 at the time) and then I wondered: if SO many things need to happen for a baby to be conceived, it’s kind of amazing that so many do get made!    

So, a lot still needs to happen for THIS to all work out, but I know, somehow, in the end, it will.  Tuesday was a good day.  We found out that they’d accepted our offer on the home we wish to buy.  Yesterday was an awful day since we got the inspection report and list of demands for the buyers of our current home.  When I asked Larry how bad it was he said (and I quote).  “Bad.  It’s pretty awful.”  Four pages. FOUR pages.  Over 25 things that they want us to do, fix, replace, repair, purchase, change.  Ugh. It hurt.  And to make matters worse, Larry was told, quite clearly, by the Buyers’ agent that if we don’t comply, these buyers are VERY likely to walk away from the deal.  (Totally feels like blackmail, doesn’t it?!).

We only said no to a couple of items on the list, and even to those we did our best to say, “Well, sort of ‘no’ but here’s our very excellent reason for saying that…”

I called my mom in tears yesterday after reading through everything that we’re expected to do in the next few weeks…not to mention the fact that I still have to pack the whole house…oh, and it’s Zach’s birthday weekend in another day and we’re having two nights of sleepovers with our best friends’ kiddos – 6 kids hanging here this weekend (which, I am actually REALLY looking forward to and thankfully the 4 boys do a pretty good job of entertaining themselves…I’ll just be entertaining Kayliana and 1 year old bff Veronica)…we also have two baseball games and a practice every week for Matthew…we also have Mike’s sister, brother-in-law and new baby coming for a weekend for Matthew’s First communion (also something that I’m REALLY excited about)…anyway, I could go on and on with all the activities (99% of them fun) that are already down for the month of May.

So, I’m whining to my mom about how CRAZY it is that we have to pack the whole house and do ALL these stupid repairs ‘n house projects ‘n stuff and it’s just crazy and crazy and CRAZY and my mom calmy says:

“Jenny, you specialize in crazy.  You’re always busy.  You always have tons going on, and you always get it all done.  We’ll get through this together, you’ll have plenty of help, but, for the record, you do crazy all the time and the rest of us just sit back and enjoy it.”

Well, here’s to crazy!  ‘Cuz it’s a-comin’!

Monday, April 23, 2012

I need about, mmm, three full days to adequately get caught up on blog-updating goodness. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kinda time (who does?) so I will attempt the – inhumane – job of limiting my wordiness.

First: Mom’s 70th Surprise Party was Saturday night. Basically, in a nutshell, it could NOT have gone any better. It was AMAZING. I’m still stunned that we totally pulled it off and she was SO surprised. My brother Timothy and his wife Rebecca (along with my dad) kidnapped mom for the afternoon and went to the Seattle Art Museum. The second they left my brother Chris called and I swooped in. He and I spent three hours getting their place party-ready. Then my best friend Rebecca rolled in with more than half of the deliciously-prepared food-goodness. (I didn’t know, back when we planned the menu, if I’d even have access to my kitchen thanks to showings/house for sale stuff…and really, she’s just a really good cook and I was totally cool with her doing ¾’s of the food  ). All guests (about 30) were to arrive by 5pm with the goal that mom ‘n gang would roll in at 5:15. Well, at 4:15, Tim called and said, “Mom is DONE. We’ve dragged her around the museum long enough. She’s tired of being on her feet…I don’t know if we can stall any longer.” So, basically at that point, it looked like mom would be here BEFORE the guests. It’d be a bit of an anti-climatic surprise. Thankfully, a few minutes later, I got a text from Tim: “Got her to the museum cafĂ©!!!” Excellent.

They ended up arriving at 5:30. So, we had plenty of time for all guests to arrive, to serve them some drinks, some appetizers and to squeeze them all into the living room, around the corner from the front door. We all waited in nervous, excited anticipation as the front door opened. We heard mom say, “Oh! It smells like….oh, I must’ve left the oven on.” She noticed the different table cloth and huge bouquet on the dining room table. Then she stepped a little bit farther into the room and froze, jaw on the floor. Surprise!! It was SO great.

One of my favorite surprises was the book that I put together with the help of many, many family members and friends. (I used and must say the customer service – when I needed to call – was excellent)! We had photos of her all through the years including a darling baby picture on the cover. And then about 24 people wrote her letters that I put in the book too. Needless-to-say there was a bit ‘o tear-wiping when she saw what all was in that book.

One of the best parts of the whole weekend (for me) was on the morning after the party. Mom told me, “I woke up at 3am and was just grinning from ear-to-ear. I was still so excited about the party, I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I got up to look at the book. But it’s going to take me about a week to get through it because I start crying right away with each letter.” Success? I’d say so.

Another success story? Hopefully, SO close, we’re ALMOST there…Our house news!!! The inspection on our current home is today which makes me so nervous. I’m just PRAYING that they don’t discover anything big ‘n bad requiring a ton of work and/or money from us. I CAN’T WAIT for this part to be over so that I that the house doesn’t need to be perfect all the time…and so I can start the joyful task of packing. (Oye).

BUT….BUT….we’ve found The One. We’ve SO found The One. We saw it on Wednesday afternoon. It belongs to the brother-in-law of Jason, a real estate agent we met a couple weeks ago. He was the listing agent on the last house we made an offer on. Basically, he fell in love with us and is just determined to sell us a house! Works for me. The house isn’t even on the market yet, so we have NO competition. AND they’re gutting the thing and completely redoing everything – new carpet, hardwoods, granite counters, appliances, sinks, showers, deck, paint, landscaping, etc. SO, we may even get to have a small say in wall color, flooring, etc. The house is perfect. Pretty much everything we’ve been dreaming of. And the property is awesome. It’s a ¼ acre with part of the back yard turning into a ravine that slopes down to a dry creek bed. Kid-playing MAGIC. The back yard is definitely a project and will require a big landscaping overhaul eventually (putting in tiers, or some sort of pathway), but it’s SO cool and I can’t wait to tackle it! We’ll hear today from Jason and his brother-in-law with their counter offer. We asked for a few things that weren’t included in their asking price. (We want the washer/dryer and fridge and hardwoods instead of carpet in the dining room. Plus, they’re finding out this morning, the status of the original furnace – whether it just needs maintenance for now or will need to be replaced). It all feels pretty great though. We just need to get through the last few hoops.

Basically, again, like the adoption, in that it didn’t feel final ‘til Kayli was home with us. This probably won’t feel real until we’re unlocking the front door with our very own key.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We got an offer! We got an offer! We got an offer! Happy dance! We received it yesterday – a solid, pretty darn good, with a reasonable closing date (May 31st) offer. We countered and will likely hear back today. This is step one in the hoops to jump though – as we still have to get through the inspection and appraisal. But still…hooray! Now we have to pray our butts off that “The One” comes up and we can offer in the next couple of weeks so that we can have a 30 day close and something to move into come June 1st!

Monday, April 16, 2012

One of the beautiful aspects of having sons is that I feel happy passing along many of the ‘boy issues’ to Mike. He knows more about dude-man stuff, so he should be the go-to on male-related topics. So, that was my policy when, last week at baseball practice, Matthew was hit with the ball in the family-jewels region. Mike said that we needed to purchase a cup or “Underwear Armor” (as the boys have decided to call it). I said, “Great! Have fun shopping!”

I was actually with Mike for the purchasing of Matthew’s cup (not the kind to drink out of, to clarify for those of you having a hard time following along here). I left the decision making to him as he carefully made the selection for Matthew’s baseball accoutrement.

Tonight was Matthew’s first game ‘o the season and I’d told Mike that I’d like it if he could be home to help Matthew get suited up properly. I don’t want to be responsible for that! Well, unforatunely, our well-thought out plan (Mike getting into work early and leaving work early and meeting us at home) didn’t happen. We ended up having a house-showing, so we couldn’t even be home for getting geared up. I brought Matthew’s stuff and he changed in the back of the car. Unfortunately, Mike also got held up at work so he couldn’t even be there for the back-of-the-mini-van clothes changing. I got Matthew situated as best I could, but I basically figured, ‘he’s a boy, he must have some sort of male instinct to figure out which direction this thing goes’ etc.

I guess it feels a little weird having this big ‘ol piece of hard plastic hanging out right there. Once dressed, Matthew struggled to get his cleats on and reported that it was difficult to bend his legs. I wasn’t sure what to make of that. Then I watched as he ‘jogged’ to the field and was horrified to see that his new, uh, accessory, was causing Matthew to do a funky-wide-legged waddle-run unlike anything I’ve ever seen. That’s when I called Mike on the phone and put a little heat under his butt to get to baseball…STAT.

Thankfully, Mike soon arrived and was helping Matthew warm up. Every time I’d glanced over at my son he was attempting to adjust and readjust and maladjust and who-knows-what-adjust his Underwear Armor. As I chased Kayli around the playground I was relieved to know that Mike was there, handling the situation. When I looked over the next time, however, I watched in horror as Matthew, standing in the middle of the field, wiggled and woggled and pop! Pulls out his hand holding the frustrating-non-cooperative plastic cup-piece of torture high above his head like Lady Liberty’s torch. Mike quickly grabbed it and stuck it in his pocket.

Turns out Matthew had it on upside down. And extracting it was tricky. And now we’ve all learned – which direction a cup goes AND that Mommy shouldn’t be the one having to deal with this stuff!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

We had a wonderful Easter and spent this last week Spring-breaking. We (the kids and I) enjoyed the best combination of chillaxin’ at home but also playing tourist in Seattle with a trip to the aquarium and one to the zoo. Kayli LOVED the fishies. At every aquarium we went up to she’d squeal and then say, “Woah, woah, woah, woah.” (Having technical difficulties uploading photos, so be sure to see previous post's as well).

Thursday, April 05, 2012

We spent the last 24 hours undergoing nail-biting home-purchasing negotiations AND finally – yay! Finally, we were told that, in the nick ‘o time, we’d be receiving an offer on our home. For several hours it all seemed like it was going to perfectly come together.

Yeah right.

None of it came together. Once again, we were told to anticipate an offer only to have the buyer change his mind at the last moment (after the agent wrote up all the paperwork and everything). So, once again, without an offer, we can’t do anything to buy this particular home and it goes to someone else.

Stupid someone else.

Whatever, the yard was too small anyway. (That’s what I’m telling myself to expedite the mourning process on this one).

On top of all the crazy house business (oh, you know, no big deal, just buying A HOUSE), we’ve also discovered a startling truth: Matthew is lying on a bed of lies. He is the Boss of an undercover, black market, covert-ops, completely illegal (school rules-breaking) 2nd grade Lego-trading mafia ring.

We don’t know quite how long it’s been going on. (We think for several months).

We don’t know how many young thugs are involved in this nefarious crime. (We think four).

We don’t know how many Lego’s were lost during this time. (We think at least one and possibly many, many more).

We don’t know if this surprising streak of leadership in Matthew will lead to him being a creative and successful business entrepreneur or the head Boss of an illegal trading ring of some sort. (We’re hoping the former).

When we finally got to the bottom of the web of deceit (we think, we HOPE we finally have the full story), Matthew – through endless tears – gulped out, “I just hope my friends still like me even though I….sniffle….sob….spilled the beans!”

And later, when we were attempting to uncover the pattern of this illegal activity, Matthew admitted that he had plans to perform one of these shady transactions tomorrow. “Well, I had planned to do a trade with Nathan tomorrow, but I guess I’ll just have to cancel that.”

Cancel that, you will, my friend. And all future prohibited trading as well. No more Lego-black market swaps. No sir. Not on my watch.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

We’ve made another offer on another house. This one is perhaps even more of a long shot as we’ve been told that they also received a different offer yesterday that was “solid” and non-contingent (unlike ours). However, there are some things in our favor: the listing agent WORSHIPS our agents. He used to work with them and he would hand us that house on a silver platter if he could. Obviously, it’s not entirely his decision to make, it’s the sellers’, but he can definitely help our cause in his sales pitch. He (Agent Man – A.M.) came over to see our house yesterday to see how sellable it is. A.M. went on and on about how highly it speaks of US that we’re working with our agents! Why, thank you. A.M. encouraged us to present a strong offer and also suggested that we write a cover letter.

Now, I’ve heard about these letters and was hoping that we’d get to do one. Basically, it’s a similar theory to the “Dear Birth Mom” letter that we got to write when adopting. “Here’s why we’re the awesomest family for you and why you should pick us to raise your baby…!” Obviously, I had to tone down the floweriness of our cover letter a bit. I didn’t get to be all creative and do “The Top Five Reasons why you should sell US your house” or “Once Upon a Time, there was a family…” I kept it simple and the focus had to be primarily on what we’re doing to get our house to sell quickly so that we could make purchasing their home a reality.

We’ve dropped our price again, for one. And it’s not like our house hasn’t been popular: We’ve had 36 showings in 38 days on the market (not to mention the 24 people that were here for the Open House). We’ve had about five very interested potential buyers and one that, at the 11th hour, changed their mind about writing an offer. We’ve been told “the house is priced to sell” (even more so now!) and “shows great.” So, what gives?

Realtors will say that in this market, it still might be overpriced (though we’ve heard plenty of the complete opposite sentiment). We’re competing with foreclosures and short sales and buyers are just looking for a smokin’ deal.

I say that The Ones just haven’t found us yet. The right people haven’t walked through the door. We knew the moment we walked in here that this was The One for us. It’s been the absolute perfect home for our family for nine years now. It’ll be the perfect home for someone else. We’re talking to St. Joseph more seriously now. Asking that he see with the Big Guy about getting those folks on over here….like now.

So, anyway, we’ll see what happens with this latest offer. I guess I’m trying to be more rational about all of this now. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much. But truth be told, even more so than the last house we made an offer on, this one felt RIGHT. We’ve been told time and again, we’d have to compromise on something. We won’t be able to get EVERYTHING on our list. With the last house, the layout wasn’t totally ideal and what we wanted. With this house, the layout is pretty near perfect and I love nearly everything about it. Ironically, of any house we’ve seen, it’s the most similar to the Mountain House (the house that started it all…sigh). BUT…the yard IS a little bit smaller than we’d like. That’s the one thing that we’d be giving up. It still has a nice yard – flat and fully fenced – but it’s just a might bit smaller than we’d hoped for. (I’m trying to focus on that so I’m not too heart-broken if this doesn’t turn out to be The One).

Honestly though, this house – hmmm, doesn’t have a name yet, let’s just just be optimistic and go with The House – felt ‘righter’ than the last one and for a primarily silly reason. Last House had GORGEOUS chandeliers. I even have a couple of pictures (one where Zach is holding up his muddy shoes as we exited out the front door). I loved these chandeliers but I was also a little embarrassed by their swankiness. I felt that I didn’t deserve them. A part of me felt like if Last House had been The One, I’d always feel like I was just pretending to live there.

Yesterday, as we walked through The House, I paid special attention to the light fixtures. “Yeah, I deserve you guys,” I thought. “You and I, Mr. Light Fixture, we’d get along JUST fine.” I loved the entryway and dining room chandeliers. They were pretty without being too showy. They were homey and comfortable without being too casual. You could dress them up or down. They were perfect for any occasion. (Like me, perhaps?)

So, did I find my soul mate light-fixture house?? We shall see…