Friday, October 31, 2008
You've got Team 1 (Kev's team), Team 2, and Team 3. Here's the breakdown of the match-ups:
Team 1 vs Team 2 = Team 1 by a landslide.
Team 3 vs. Team 1= Team 3 by a landslide.
So tonight, Team 3 played Team 2. Everyone was expecting Team 3 to win by a landslide. That would have put Team 3 in first place, and Team 1 in second place. Both would have gone on to the playoffs. Instead, in a HUGE shocker, Team 2 beat Team 3, which left a 3 way tie for 1st.
As I mentioned before, the coin toss to determine who would go on to the playoffs IF this situation happened occurred this past Monday. Team 2 won 1st, and Team 3 won second place. So, as of Monday, Team 3 knew that they were guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. There is now quite a bit of talk that Team 3 intentionally threw the game tonight, allowing Team 2 into the playoffs rather than Team 1.Both Team 2 and Team 3 coaches are notorious in this area for trying to pay off refs, illegally recruiting players from other teams (we're talking HS football here), so I would be disappointed, but not surprised if this were true.
It just seems really odd to do a preemptive coin toss for a theoretical situation. And it gives a lot of temptation for shady behavior. I wish they would have done it tomorrow instead. Actually though, the coin toss at all is pretty crappy. No matter what, someone was getting screwed.
Apparently the house appraisal happened this week. I don't really know anything because our lender sucks. She was great at first, but has stopped returning our calls. Our agent has to call and make her promise that she'll call us in order to get a call, and she never has time to explain anything to us. We know that the appraisal came in for less than expected, but don't know what that will mean for us in terms of closing. Whether we went with an FHA loan or regular loan was also pending the appraisal. Here's the scoop: we offered $160,000 for the house. BUT with the FHA loan, there's a fee that's rolled into closing costs, which would put our loan at $163,000. However, the house appraised at $161,000. I'm not sure that I want to be having a loan that's more than the property is appraised for. But our stupid lender doesn't seem to want to listen to our concerns.
She keeps sending us emails saying only "You'll need 1500 for closing." When we ask if that's AFTER our earnest money is applied, she doesn't respond. We also don't know if that figure includes things that are factored into closing costs, but we've already paid for, like the inspection.
I really want to fire this stupid lender, but with closing two weeks away, I think it might be too late. I just hate going into this not understanding what's going on. Anyway, Justin is calling right now to see if we can come into her office on Monday and meet. We need to go over this all line by line.
1. November 10th. Remember me writing about how excited I was to go up North and see a comedian on the 13th with Ryan and Renee? Yeah. Did I also mention that the tickets are already paid for, and are in Justin's name and only he can pick them up? Seriously, we never go on dates. We never do ANYTHING as a couple. And now I'm remembering why...because any time we have plans to do anything of that nature Justin ends up having to work, and I'm crushed. And pissed. Really pissed in this case. Even if we could pick up the tickets, I'm still not sure whether or not I'd go. I don't know anyone that could take Justin's ticket, and I don't even like this comedian. I only suggested it because I know Justin loves him. Still, I was getting really excited about going with the three of them, and it's something that I'd really been looking forward to.
2. November 17th. Why yes, that IS the day that we're supposed to close on our house. Yes, there's a per diem penalty for closing late. Even if Justin were able to go up after the closing on Monday, that would leave me to do all the moving and such all by myself. I'm totally not even excited about the house anymore right now.
Or HEY...why don't we just push it back one MORE week and send him over Thanksgiving? Rant over. For now.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I hate being alone in these apartments at night. I hate being alone at night at all, but especially in these apartments. The complex as a whole knows where I work, and doesn't see it as a positive. I do NOT like being here alone, especially today. In fact, it was a particularly bad incident here that has caused us to start house hunting. A few months ago, we came home to one of our neighbors being kicked in the head while he was unconscious in the parking lot. There were kids watching. No one would stop it. Justin did, and I called the cops. It was completely out of control. They all know I was the one that called the cops. And people are STILL mad at me. In fact, I hear them talking about how the only reason no one has started any shit with me is because no one wants to mess with Justin. That's ONE of the incidents. One that Justin KNOWS about. There are many more that I CAN'T tell him about, all of which cause me to be leery about being here by myself.
Until today, I had been telling myself that it would all be over soon. I had been telling myself that this is the last week Justin should have to work nights for awhile. That tonight is the last night. Granted, we have a VERY busy weekend, but I was looking forward to locking the doors and staying home all day Monday with my husband.
Until I got the news. The news is that they're shipping Justin off to Washington to work for awhile. We're not sure how long--maybe a week, maybe two, maybe longer. And he doesn't get to come home until they're done. And wait for it....they will either leave this Sunday or next Sunday. Justin called to tell me right away. I had to employ some serious breathing techniques to not start screaming at Justin immediately. I know it isn't his fault. I know he doesn't have a choice in the matter--I'm mad at the situation, not at him. But I'm still tired, and scared, and frustrated, and angry.
I got home tonight at 8:20. Justin had to leave at 8:45. I walked in, and Justin was watching The Hulk. I could not get him to turn off the damn TV for the life of me. We had 25 precious minutes together today, and The Hulk got all of them. That was all Justin was interested in tonight. By 8:40, I was sobbing. I just couldn't do it anymore, and Justin had no idea why I was upset. I told him, and while he apologized about The Hulk, I think he thinks I'm being a big baby about the whole thing.
And like I said, I know there are people who put up with this much, much longer. But I was not cut out to be one of those people. And I am just so tired.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
About two years ago, before Ryan and Renee had chosen a name for their son, Justin and I talked about both of us liking the name Logan for a boy. We didn't share with anyone since we had just gotten engaged not to long before and didn't want to freak anyone out. However, great minds must think alike because Ryan and Renee chose the name Logan for their son! So, Justin and I quickly re-grouped, and decided that we both like the name Nolan. We had agreed that Justin got to pick the boy-middle name, and he picked Ryan...which would make the child's name Nolan Ryan Lastname. Yes, that's the name of a historical a baseball player. But, I suppose by the time we get around to kiddos, they probably won't even know who Nolan Ryan is, and it also isn't like we'll actually call him "Nolan Ryan" all the time...he'll just be known as Nolan.
Anyway, the girl name has always been Isabella Marie Lastname. I love the name Isabella, and I thought that Marie fit nicely. I also liked the combination of Isabella Grace, but I know that's a VERY popular combination. Anyway, being home alone (again) tonight and bored, I decided to do some name research, and discovered that the name Marie means "Sea of Bitterness" ?!? REALLY? I had no idea. Coupled with Isabella, which means "God's Oath"...that leaves 'God's Oath is a Sea of Bitterness'. I think Isabella Marie is out. I have a weird superstition about names, and I don't know that I could go through with Isabella Marie now that I know what it means. I know...probably half of you have the middle name Marie/Maria, and I'm bashing you all by proxy...which is not my intent. But really...SEA OF BITTERNESS? I had no idea.
I can't think of any other middle names that I like with Isabella, so I'm thinking about bumping Isabella to the middle name. I'm liking Lily right now....how about Lily Isabella?
I don't know why I'm so worried about a girl's name....I'm having all boys anyway ;)
Dooce, it's that you probably shouldn't talk about your place of employment on your blog. Anyway, I got to go speak to them in my hometown today, which is about a 1/2 hour drive. The ladies were such a treat, and it was great to break up the day. I really wanted to stay for the whole Bible Study, but felt like I should probably head back to the office.
On the way home, I took part of my lunch break, and stopped by a FANTASTIC used book store in my hometown. I came prepared with an armful of books to cash in, but was pleasantly surprised to learn that I already had about $20 in credit there! I added another $17 with the books that I brought in, and walked out with 3 books and about $19 left in credit. I got the following:
- Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
-A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans
- Abide With Me by Elizabeth Strout.
How funny...I just noticed that all the books start with "A".
I used the rest of my lunch break to stop at the little bitty Wal-Mart by my parent's house, which is infinitely superior to the ginormous Wal-Mart by where we live. First, it's never as crowded. Second, they have much better clothing, and there's nothing that I love more than your basic cheap cami or t-shirt. However, in an attempt to follow my new rule of trying on clothing before I bought it, I tried on a pair of jeans. Wal-Mart jeans now come in "super long", and for $15, I bought a pair. I think I like them. We'll see how they hold up at the football game on Friday!
Monday, October 27, 2008
Tonight after band practice, Ryan and Renee (for those not in the know, Ryan is Justin's brother, and Renee, his wife, has become one of my best friends) called up and asked if I'd do some family pictures for them like I did for Kelsey a few weeks ago. They said that they've gone to Wal-Mart in the past to that little mini photo studio that's set up, and it's always been over $100, and were wondering what I'd charge. Um, you buy the film and I'll do them for free! Basically, they want some family shots, some individual shots of their kids, and some shots of the two of them.
I've taken pictures of their kids a million times, and always have a blast. It's usually impromptu, informal Sunday afternoon shots (see pictures at the beginning of the post), and I'll take a roll or two and maybe get 5-10 really good ones out of the bunch--with shooting kids I get a LOT of sudden running/jumping/odd face making. Another reason that I'm dying to eventually have a digital SLR camera. But, anyway...what I'm trying to say is that they've always been totally no-pressure. This time, there's a little more pressure to deliver. But, I'm learning more every time, and I'm thinking that I can definitely deliver.
I suggested to Renee that maybe we can do the pictures over the course of a couple of days/weekends. Maybe do the family pictures one day, the kid portraits another, and her and Ryan yet a different day. I just remember that the last time we did WHOLE family portraits, the kids wore out pretty quickly. But then again, they're more familiar with me sticking a camera in their face all the time, so they might roll with it longer than I'm expecting.
Anyway, this is kind of a blast. The more I think about it, the more I'm thinking that it would be a WHOLE lot of fun to do photography full time. I just don't know that I'm quite "there" yet. I'd love to take a few more classes, but for some reason they're all smack dab in the middle of the day.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I'm also in the market for a new pair of jeans. I only have two pairs that fit me well right now AND that are long enough. I probably gave 15 pairs of jeans away to Goodwill that either didn't fit or I don't wear 'cause they're not long enough. Anyway, I LOVE Gap's Long & Lean jeans, but I really want a dark wash and they don't seem to make them in a dark wash anymore. I can hardly bring myself to shell out $58 for jeans, so Sevens, or anything of that nature is out of the question. I found long jeans from target online and levi's online, but I hate not being able to try jeans on before I buy. No good.
In other news, there have been some serious sirens for like the past 30 minutes. I hate that when I'm home alone, and hate it even more when I don't have a phone.
Justin: Mere, come do the 3-legged race with me.
Me: I can't, it's by the hay.
[Five Minutes Later]
Renee: Mere, come see the spaghetti eating contest.
Me: I can't, it's by the hay.
[Fifteen minutes later]
Justin: Mere, come watch me get a pie in the face!
Me: I CAN'T BECAUSE IT'S BY THE HAY.
[Five minutes later]
Church Person: Mere, could you help me come move the hay?
Me: I'm sorry, but I'm REALLY REALLY allergic to hay.
Church Person: It will only take a second!
Me: It doesn't matter. I can't even go near the hay.
Church Person: I haven't ever heard of anyone that allergic to hay before.
[Ten minutes later]
One of my nieces: Auntie Mere-Mere, I want up.
Me: I know sweetie, and I really wish I could pick you up, but I can't because you were playing in the hay.
Niece: Are you allergi-tic to hay?
Me: I'm super duper allergic to hay.
Niece: I'm sorry.
[Niece then gives me a big hug because she's sorry, and then I proceed to break out in hives.]
The whole hay situation made me extremely grumpy for two reasons. One, because my husband worked the freaking hay station when I explicitly asked him not to. I am so allergic to hay that having his clothes with hay-juice on them in the house will make me break out in hives. Being within 50 feet of them (i.e. the car ride home) will make me break out in hives. Justin doesn't comprehend this at all because he has nothing that he's THIS allergic to. But the second reason it really irritated me is because I didn't get to partake in any of the fun. Lately, I have been feeling like an outsider in a lot of ways--the person that's always looking in on the fun...or usually PHOTOGRAPHING the fun...while everyone else actually partakes in the fun. There was a meeting that morning that just compounded that feeling for me as well. Yay. Plus, it felt like people didn't believe me that I was allergic to the damn hay. Even as I'm breaking out in hives all over my body, people were asking me why I was so grumpy and wasn't participating. I DON'T KNOW...MAYBE BECAUSE I'M BREAKING OUT IN HIVES ALL OVER MY BODY. But that's just me.
Anyway, this morning at church was a whole different problem that I don't know how to deal with, and I'm not sure I can talk about on this blog. Then I left my cell phone at Justin's parent's house. I really hate being home alone without a cell phone seeing as how we don't have a landline. That's the stuff that horror films and Grey's Anatomy is made of.
So yes, Justin is working tonight, and I feel sorry for the guy. At least we both have tomorrow off and can snuggle all day. Any-hoo, the night was eventually redeemed because Kait and I went to see Fireproof, and I had a great time with her, as always!
And now, I leave you with this hilarious You Tube video of a mime re-enacting "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I can tell that I'm starting to get too stressed when being admitted to the hospital sounds like a vacation. I heard that a family friend was admitted today, and my first thought was "Actually, that would be kind of nice right now. I'd like to sleep all day and watch TV." I know, I'm a terrible person. Sometimes, my job can just be a little overwhelming. Like I said, next month is going to be a blessing for me! Anyway, only one more day of work this week, and then a 3-day weekend!
Adding to the misery, I got allergy shots today. No fun.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Today's love dare was to buy your spouse something that demonstrated that you were thinking of them today. I got the new "The Hulk" for Justin. I knew he had been looking forward to seeing it, and he hadn't bought it already which is totally unusual for Justin. He buys movies ALL THE TIME.
Justin bought me a gift pack from bath and body works of warm vanilla sugar lotion, body wash, and spray. Warm vanilla sugar is my FAVORITE, and I'm impressed. Seriously, the love dare is awesome. I know you aren't supposed to do it together, but it's been great for us. When we discuss the day, I discover things that Justin has done in an attempt to be nice that I would never suspect. Yesterday, when we discussed our attempts to be kind to each other, Justin said that his act of kindness was not using my towel after he got out of the shower. Which is something that I HATE. It's a no brainer to me, but it was something that Justin really thought about as an intentional way to be nice. So it's nice to hear those things so that I can recognize them. Really though, it's great. I woke up this morning, and all the dishes were done. That NEVER happens. I am loving my husband right now.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
My darling husband has been telling our family that if we close on Nov. 17th, we'll have Thanksgiving at our house this year. We'd do a turkey (have I mentioned I've never cooked a turkey?), and everyone else will bring sides.
Have I mentioned the house needs a MAJOR cleaning to get rid of all the mouse droppings and leftover dog hair? Have I mentioned the whole reason for giving our notice at the END of this month was so that we'd have a couple of weeks to paint and slowly move in? Have I mentioned that our dining room table only seats 6 and there would be like 14?
Seriously, I think he may have lost every ounce of marbles that were once in his head. I keep telling myself that I can relax once we get moved in...but now it sounds like I won't be relaxing until AFTER Thanksgiving...at the earliest.
My dad totally freaked me out about my knee. I was telling him that I think I hurt it doing squats during the dang 30-minute shred movie, and that now I can't extend my knee all the way OR bend my knee all the way. He responds, "Oh! That's exactly what happened to me when I tore the cartilage and had to have surgery! Not being able to bend or extend your leg is classic torn cartilage!" Awesome. I think we all know that I'm a huge hypochondriac, and that does not help.
Justin and I took a cue from Ryan and Renee (who ironically took a cue from us), and are doing "The Love Dare." Today's dare is to do an unprovoked act of kindness. Easy, right? Not really. This was always my problem in school too. I need specifics. But, I'm sure I'll figure something out.
In terms of the house front, we finally got signed papers back from the bank, which means we should actually be able to lock in our rate today, and hopefully also finalize how much we should actually be paying for closing.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Our inspection went fairly well. It was great to talk with Dean, and hear about his daughter (my age, she and I went to school together). My dad came with, Justin was able to get off early and make it there about an hour in, and then my mom brought us drinks towards the end. There's nothing major wrong with the house, but Dean isn't sure whether or not the FHA appraisal people will okay the carpet. Everyone was pretty shocked by the carpet, but they all seemed to think it just needed to be cleaned. Little did they know, it's already been cleaned. They should have seen it the first time we looked at the house. Gag me. The carpet definitely needs to go, but we could probably live with it for a little while (i.e. until we receive our tax return and the subsequent $7500 tax credit for buying a house). Dean told us that the FHA inspectors can sometimes be a little more strict, and sometimes demand new carpet in order to finance, especially when there are some holes in the carpet, as there are in this house (you can see where the dogs tried to "dig" at the doors). He said one of the inspectors is pretty relaxed, and will let most things pass. The others really tend to go by the book.
I'd love it if our lender required new carpet and the bank that owns the house agreed to pay for it. That way, we wouldn't feel like we needed to do wood floors right away, and I wouldn't have to worry about all the animal fur and my allergies. However, I'm not sure that the selling bank would agree to replace the carpet--which is silly because pretty much anyone buying this house will probably be trying to use FHA. So they should just do what the FHA people say. I just hope that they don't let the deal drop over some stupid carpet. But they might.
Also, the "landscaping" is really pretty laughable. We found all sorts of crap in the backyard--cardboard boxes, swimming toys that had half-dissolved, many "blue tarps" that were now disinegrated into blue string, etc. What's more, I hear the land underneath the hay/grass is clay. BLECH. I'm thinking we'll just bring in some topsoil and cover everything.
But the carpet. It's gonna come down to the carpet.
Consequently, I'm trying not to let myself imagine living room furniture placement and plan the bedroom/bath themes TOO much. I can already tell that's going to be a feat in and of itself. My mom and I agree on how we'd both arrange the living room. Justin wants another random arrangement that my mother and I both think would be the world's WORST and most impractical living room arrangement. We also disagree about the china hutch. Justin wants it, and I don't...how's that for role reversal?
As much as Justin is a manly man, I can tell that his mother instilled SOME decorating tips in him. For example, I didn't really particularly want a bed skirt on our bed. To me, it's just another piece of fabric that things I'm allergic to live in. Justin threw a hissy fit and demanded a bed skirt because it makes the room look "elegant." Well, it would if it weren't for all of the dirty clothes on the floor.
What's that you say? Why yes, I WAS sleeping with an elevated knee yesterday. I guess I must have gone a little crazy with the 30 day shred business because I woke up on Friday with a knee swollen to twice it's size, and the inability to either straighten OR bend my leg all the way. It was a fantastic weekend.
Today is going to be a long, crazy, emotional day! As I mentioned before, it's house inspection day. And Justin cannot get off work. Luckily for me, my wonderful father is going to come with me to the inspection. I'm hoping that the day will give me the opportunity to get some room measurements and such. Then I can start decorating from afar! I am just hoping that I can pick up my paycheck before I head over this afternoon!
Also in the plans for today--hopefully doing a serious "What Not To Wear" on my closet. If I'm honest, I have entirely too much crap that I never wear, and it's time to make a Goodwill run. In general, I think we're trying to downsize before potentially moving. I'm trying to only keep things that are made well, are flattering, and that I actually have WORN in the past year. Yes, I have that many clothes that there are some I haven't even worn in the past year. Therein lies the problem. I'll let you know how it goes.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Anyway, one of her recent posts describing Norwegian class reminded me SO MUCH of David Sedaris' Me Talk Pretty One Day. I was surprised to hear that Lisa hadn't read it. I have a copy, which I promptly found in the blue section of my color coded bookshelf, and contemplated shipping it overseas to Liser, but then decided against it given that it's a hardback and would probably cost a fortune. Sorry girl.
I do have SOMETHING though...I found one chapter online over here, and it's just the particular chapter I was thinking of. It isn't nearly as funny without the rest of the book, but it's still a "kick in the pants", to steal an expression from hubby. Particularly if you've ever attempted to learn another language, and found yourself trying to construct a logical sentence or story using only the present tense. And even if you were successful at doing THAT, some "false friend" probably resulted in your teacher laughing his or her butt off at you. Case in point, "Estoy embarassada." For you non-Spanish speakers, it does NOT mean "I'm embarassed", as I thought until about my third year in Spanish class. It means "I'm pregnant." No wonder I got such strange looks from my Spanish teachers in high school...
Seriously, really thinking about the lyrics of some of those songs is cracking me up tonight. But I've gotta admit, they're catchy songs...I still dance in my car when they come on the radio.
Anyway, I don't know what brought on the Savage Garden tangent...probably being home alone while hubby works late AGAIN. And he will tomorrow as well, which means missing Kev's homecoming. Suck. And suck even more that I have to drive there by myself. I just keep reminding myself that it's good for all these unexpected house expenses that I know will be coming.
Speaking of, our inspection is scheduled for Monday. Woop! And even better, the inspection guy isn't likely to screw us over, because I discovered today that it's my YMCA basketball coach from elementary school! Small world!
How could I end the post without the chica-cherry-cola video?!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Speaking of working out, I have some fun news about my little brother and football (howdja like THAT segway?!). ThisEmail from my dad:
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Over the weekend, I almost bought a HPT to test just in case because I RARELY feel like I'm going to puke, and I have all week. And if I were preggo, I'd certainly like to know before we go about buying a house. However, as my friends could probably tell you, it's not unusual for me to be *certain* that I'm pregnant when I'm not. And after hearing my mother in law and sister in law both discussing the same symptoms, I think it's probably a combination of a little bug going around and stress.
Speaking of stress, still no official word about the house. We did receive a structural inspection and termite inspection from the bank. No sign of termites. There was one small water stain in the crawl space, but it looks like it was from years ago and that it's been fixed. I hear that this is the last step before accepting. Our realtor said that there were no new offers over the weekend, and that we're still in the top slot as far as he can tell.
I think I'm sort of at the place where if we get the house, that's great and we'll roll with it. However, if we don't, we may simmer down for awhile and try to have a bit more in savings before we pursue putting an offer on a different house. That's the one thing I do wish we had.
Justin's work is putting a bid on a casino in California. It would mean him being gone three days and then home for four (still working two of those days). But he would be allowed to plumb, and would be making significantly more per hour. Basically, it would be an awesome opportunity for him. It would SUCK for me, but I guess I'll learn to deal. Besides, this is just speculation at this point--they haven't even won the job yet. It is interesting though because typically his company doesn't bid out of state because they don't need to.
Monday, October 13, 2008
We seriously didn't do anything in the class other than read the book and write book reports. I don't think we conversed in Spanish the entire year, and consequently I lost a lot of my ability and a lot of my confidence. To this day, I do more listening than speaking when it comes to Spanish. And I have HATED Cristobal Colon ever since.
My intense hatred for him grew even more today when I realized that it is an effing bank holiday, and we will NOT be hearing about the house after all. 48 hours has turned into almost a week.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
So, today was senior picture day for my gorgeous sister-in-law Kesley. I was so honored, and totally nervous when she asked me to take her senior pictures--I have a background in photography, but people photography was never my strong point, let along portrait photography. Anyway, Kelsey and I talked about all sorts of potential pictures we could do. She wanted to start with pictures in the park, and then move on to some more "industrial" settings--like the railroad tracks and a brick wall. I know the shot she REALLY wanted was a picture of her with some colorful leaves in the background, and honestly, I'm not sure that I delivered. I also didn't get one that I loved with her and her guitar. I had a lot of trouble with shooting in the park. Overall, I probably shot 5 rolls of film and maybe ended up with 30 shots that I really, really like. Here's what I learned:
1. Weird lighting abounds in the park! I can't tell you how many of her pictures have splotchy-leaf lighting and shadows all over her face! I tried to avoid it whenever possible, but there was STILL a ton of it. Next time, I need to remember to bring our silver car sunshade with us and use it as a light reflector.
2. Additionally, the park is all very dark due to the lush foilage. We probably should have started with the bricks and such and ended at the park when the light was at its best.
3. I cannot WAIT to go digital SLR. You can instantly see what's working and what's not. Plus, the resolution is better than in the scanned-in film version, which in turn allows me a lot more flexibility in doing fun things in Photoshop.
4. Black shirt = Yummy pictures. Originally, I told Kels to stay away from black and to go for color. At the last minute, I had her throw on a black sweater because I thought it would look nice against the brick wall. I'm glad she did 'cause the ones where she's in black are all my favorites!
5. Don't be afraid to use the environment. No one told us that we weren't allowed to be on the railroad tracks. The owners of the brick building and blue house didn't shoo us away. Granted, the blue "house" was actually a business and it didn't look like anyone was there. My point is not to be afraid to use your surroundings! The worst that can happen is that someone might ask you to leave. And if you're quick, you'll already have a great shot by then :)
For example, here's a picture of Renee and I goofing off straight out of the camera:
Pretty decent, but not entirely focused on Renee and me (and that's even grammatically correct people!).You can still see the branches in the background and what not, and I think that the entire focus should be on her and I being dorks. So, here's the "fake DSLR" picture:
See the difference? It's pretty subtle, but still brings the focus to us and our goofiness. It's super easy to do--basically, you just open up a picture, duplicate the whole layer, and add gaussian blur to the duplicate layer. That will make the whole picture blurry. Next, you 'll add a layer mask, and then in the layer mask start painting anything you don't want blurred black. Abracadabra, it will de-blur. Don't worry about being too careful because if you de-blur something you want to be blurred, you can just paint it white, and it will re-blur. Nifty, huh? If you're one of those people who needs screen caps and such to follow along with, Pioneer Woman has a pretty detailed explanation of the technique.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Anyway, I got a haircut, headed home to watch Top Design 2 and Project Runway (thanks youtube!), and now I'm at church waiting for Justin to finish installing new lights. Then, we're heading off to see Kait of My Crazy Unpredictable Life and her NEW CAR! So exciting!
After that, we'll be heading over for a Ryan/Shelby October birthday dinner. I'm definitely looking forward to a day of relaxation! Sunday, I may be shooting Kelsey's senior pictures, and I have to confess that I'm a little nervous. This is one of those situations where I REALLY wish that I had a kickbutt DSLR camera. Lately I just haven't been digging the way that the film ones look once they are scanned in and edited. I haven't decided whether or not to shoot digital (non-SLR) or film. I may just do a bit of both. I am seriously hoping that we might be able to devote some of our tax return to getting me a kick butt camera!
Still no word about the house. Apparently, the bank decided to make everyone wait until Monday. It's okay for them to not deliver on the date they say they will, but I bet they wouldn't be so understanding if our earnest money weren't deposited in time!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I had a feeling that tonight's worship service was actually one of these aforementioned interventions/surprise counseling sessions in response to the events of Monday night. I was aware that almost everyone else had already gotten together and discussed, and so I was figuring this, or something like it was coming.
We got there, and the service was of confession and absolution. Basically, the concept is that you confess areas where you haven't loved in the ways we're called to be loved. Then, the other people say aloud that they forgive you, with the goal being that they actually DO forgive you, and don't continue to carry that grudge. Oh lord, was it uncomfortable. I grew up in the Lutheran church, and I have never, ever seen this before. But, it DID accomplish the task of discussing Monday night without any yelling, screaming, or laying blame, which I am completely grateful for, because screaming matches make me even more uncomfortable than interventions. And at the end of the night, we were all eating pizza and laughing like we haven't laughed in a long time.
Really though, with all the events of the last few days, it almost sent me over the edge into one of those sobbing-uncontrollably-for-hours stages. Seriously though, I feel like I need a vacation. And not even a vacation somewhere else, because that's a lot of work. I'd be happy with a vacation much like our honeymoon, where we just turned off our phones, laid around, read, watched movies, and our ONLY task of the day was to stumble out for dinner.
So, tomorrow we find out about the house. I am still not sure what to think. I do love the house, and I do know that we could make this work. However, a small part of me hopes that the offer isn't accepted just because it would mean not having to constantly justify our decision to our families, not having people look at us like we're terrible people any time we eat out at Taco Bell, and most importantly, not having to MOVE, which is the bane of my existence. A small portion of my mind thinks we've lost our minds even considering buying a house in this economy. Still, the majority of my mind still really hopes we'll have a house tomorrow. Ugh. It's gonna be a loooonnnngggggg day tomorrow.
Niece (Hereafter known as "S"): Hi Mere-Mere! Where are you going?
Me: Hi S! Um, I'm not going anywhere...
S: You are staying at home tonight?
Me: Yes, Justin and I are staying at home tonight. I was calling to tell you happy birthday!
S: I am three.
Me: I know! You are getting so big! What did you do today?
S: Grandpa and Margaret.
Me: Your Grandpa and Margaret are there with you? That's great! What presents did you get for your birthday?
Me (slightly confused): Paper? To draw on?
S: Ummmmm....I would like more paper. And I am a size 4T. It's big, but I'll grow into it. Okay, I gotta go...right be back! Love you Mere-Mere!
Lol...kids are funny. And it really brightened up my dreary work day. Seriously. I spent half the day at the university I graduated from recruiting interns at an internship fair. There were probably 5 students that came through the fair in the entire half a day. Waste of time. Then I got back to the office, and found out about MULTIPLE kids that have been abused in their foster homes this week. Breaks my heart. And there was lots of other awful things that occurred today that I can't even discuss due to confidentiality.
Justin's dad called and wants us to go to some "service" tonight. I have no idea what it is or what it's about. I wish they'd give us more notice.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I am hearing totally conflicting information about whether or not it is a good idea to purchase a home in this economy. I've got people with serious histories in finance, banking, and real estate telling me completely conflicting information.
I'm hearing that economic indicators in our area are down, I'm hearing that in 6 months, house prices will be much lower than they already are, and that we'll receive MUCH more house for our money. On the other hand, I'm hearing that real estate prices are very low right now, and it's better to take advantage of the low prices now than assume they will continue to drop.
Logistically, we could easily make this work. We're pre-approved for a first-time home buyer program and are offering well below what we're pre-approved for, and even below what our "target" was based on our own budget. We have very little debt. Very high estimates of our monthly mortgage payment (taxes included) would put us less than $500 more than our current rent. We EASILY have way more than that in excess income each month. The ONLY wrench would be if either or both of us were laid off, which of course is possible, but isn't likely.
I sent an email to the financial guru in my family asking his opinion on buying a house in this economy. He advised my parents against buying a house to flip several years ago. They didn't listen, but he was right on the money, and he's been pretty accurate about economic predictors since then. I'm curious to see what he has to say. The financial guru on Justin's side of the family (one of the ones who is gifting us $), seems to be fairly against buying a house now. She predicts that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in this financial crisis, and that we'd be getting much more house for our money 6 months from now.
Ugh. I totally have cold feet right now. I am so close to wanting to say "SCREW THIS" and throwing in the towel. What's your take on the market? Is it a good time to buy, or not?
I really do have to say that I am completely exhausted. I am also starting to get a little freaked out about this economy. A family member got laid off today (and then subsequently hired elsewhere), and it just hit a little close to home. However, both Justin's and my employer's are aware that we are house-hunting, and have both given us the impression that it's fairly safe to do so. So, that's a little more comfortable.
However, I'm also pretty impressed with our budget, and I'm hoping C&G are too. If anything, we WAY overestimated our expenses, and most of the time, with ALL of our expenses accounted for, we have a surplus of $400-$800 each month. That's pretty darn good considering most of America spends more than they make. We are definitely living within our means. Granted, most of that money gets spent on who knows what, but the bottom line is that we spend because it IS a surplus. Yes, we should put more of that money into savings, and I hope to do that in the future. But, when it's come down to crunch time, and we don't have any money, we can go 2+ weeks without spending a cent.
Seriously though, I'm tired of talking about money. I'm just ready for bed!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
The other option is having a relative "gift" us the money. It's a very screwy situation in which the person "gifting" the money has to sign a letter that it's a "gift" and not a "loan." However, our loan officer was very specific in telling us that if we'd like to "re-gift" that money BACK to the giver at a later date, there's really nothing the bank could do about it, hint hint. Anyway, we've identified a relative that may be willing to gift us part of the closing costs, but has to talk to his wife about it all.
It's very sticky because the bank extended the counter-offer to more than one person. Whoever signs on the dotted line first gets the house. So, it could already be owned by someone else. Who knows. Not only that, but here's the situation:
1. If the house is appraised at more than our offer price, they can roll a portion of closing costs into the mortgage. However, with this economy, things aren't appraising very highly, so that's a gamble. Plus, we don't want to do an appraisal unless our offer is accepted.
2. If we use the going rate instead of a special below-market-first-time-buyer program, our interest rate would be 1/8th a point higher, but closing costs would be $1000 less. However, they can't lock us in until there's a signed offer, so we don't want to count on that if rates suddenly were to skyrocket...as unlikely as that may be.
So, we're closer than ever, but things are also more up in the air than ever before. And with the day I've been having, I sort of just want to go home and cry. Looking at the numbers, we could make this all work, but it just feels really overwhelming right now. I feel like there are going to be 1001 things that will go wrong and all subsequently cost more money.
I have debated quite a bit as to whether to post what happened last night. I am trying to be better about not speaking negatively of my spouse. However, I'm really struggling with this whole situation, and so I think I'm going to go ahead and explain what happened, in the hopes that someone out there can relate or maybe offer advice.
Yesterday was awful. But specifically last night. First, I need to explain and qualify a little bit. My husband's family is all loud. When they're having a disagreement, they get loud, and often mean. They truly do "fight it out." Most of Justin's band is made up of his family, so when the band fights, which is often lately, it gets loud and awful. Guitar strings are broken out of anger, music is thrown, cell phones are broken, people stomp around, etc. It's terrible and uncomfortable. Most of the band members have partaken in the aforementioned behavior at some point in the past 6 months.
Last night, the practice didn't go as planned, but for the most part things were going well. However, the last 3 minutes of practice, all hell broke loose. My husband got upset at one of the other band members, and threw a microphone cord...not at anyone, but he was angry and threw it out of anger, and you could tell. His brother immediately bear hugged him, which was probably the right thing to do since there was a kid in the room, and I don't think anyone wanted it to escalate. However, that made Justin even more upset. You could tell he was fuming just by looking at him. Eventually, he was persuaded to go outside after a lot of yelling by other band members, where he continued to fume. He was mad the whole way home and after. His brother called, and Justin said some pretty awful things to him. I think they might have worked it out by the end of the conversation, and I hope that they did.
I'm a VERY non-confrontational person, and probably a little over-sensitive in this area, so I hate all of these fights that the band has. This one however, was especially bad, and it was over nothing. There was also a board meeting going on at church while they were practicing, and the board has apparently told the band that they're not allowed to practice at church anymore. At least one board member has asked them before to tone down the fighting--especially considering they practice in the sanctuary. Essentially, this was the straw that broke the camel's back.
This is a tough place to be in for me. I love my husband unconditionally (or, at least I try to), but I don't agree with the way he behaved last night. We had a long talk when we got home, and I told him that I don't feel like he knows how to handle his anger properly--most of the time, he just bottles it up and lets it boil inside of him. He doesn't have an outlet for it at all. I told him that I want him, or the two of us, to talk to someone....find a book...do a Bible study, whatever, about healthy responses to anger--I don't really care who he talks to, I just need him to have some tools to better handle his anger.
I've no doubt made my husband seem like a terrible, awful person, and that breaks my heart because he is a GOOD man. There are so many things that I love about him, and being married to him truly is a blessing. But right now, it's also a little bit of a struggle.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
It feels like chaos, but somehow there's peace.
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see,
but I'm giving in to something heavenly.
I've also been thinking of things we'll need to remember to budget for when we eventually buy a house. I've sort of been breaking this up into "immediate needs" and "future needs". The "future needs" section will probably come out of the $7500 tax credit and our other tax refund (I'm also hoping to score a DSLR camera out of the tax refund deal!).
-A fridge. Why is it that houses on the market typically have all the appliances except the fridge?
-Water and garbage deposit (we already have electric and gas, so we shouldn't require a new deposit for those).
- Have the house re-keyed.
-Probably sod or topsoil/ grass seeds. Most of the houses have lawns that are trashed.
-Probably new flooring. Either laminate wood, carpet, or both
-Bookshelves. Lots of them.
-A bed/mattress for the guest bedroom.
-Additional furniture (another chair or loveseat).
Things I'd Probably Like, but Don't Need:
-Backsplash in kitchen
-New flat-screen tv(s)
-New kitchen table.
I'm also just remembering that I have a bunch of furniture in "storage" (i.e. grandma's basement). It's hand-me-down furniture from mafia-aunt, so of course it's like imported from Italy or somewhere like that, and topped with marble. It's gorgeous and expensive, and totally not my style. The trick is that this aunt wants it all to stay in the family, so I don't think I'm allowed to do anything with it (i.e. new hardware), nor am I allowed to sell it. Basically, she was tired of storing it, so she "gave" it to me via my parents, who accepted it on my behalf. I'm thankful that we will have SOMETHING when we move into a house, it just is not my style at all.
And did I mention that Justin loves it? It's cherry colored wood. And gold (blech!) hardware. I will have to trek over to grandma's house sometime soon to do a pictoral inventory of what I have. And I'm sure I'll be asking for all kinds of advice on how to make it more "me."
Saturday, October 4, 2008
1. Although you can't tell from the below pictures, it has great windows in the living room. We looked at the house in the middle of a thunder-stormy dark day, and all the electricity was turned off. Still, the house felt nice and airy.
2. Although the square footage is smaller than the other ones we looked at, it feels more open due to the flow. The other ones included many half walls, walls with cutouts, etc. It just didn't make the space seem very livable. This space is small....or "cozy"....but the house flows logically.
3. All of the other houses we've looked at thus far have had the master bedrooms that open to the backyard. While that's nice, I'd rather have the master bedroom closer to the street and have the spare bedrooms facing the backyard. Someday, when we have kids, I'd rather have their rooms facing the backyard than the street. I don't know why, I just would.
4. While the other houses had nice tile living and dining rooms, I prefer wood to tile. If we were to buy this house, the carpet would be one of the first things to go...and it's much easier to replace carpet with hardwood (or laminate hardwood) than tile.
5. It's in the city, but has a quarter-acre lot. So, still a great sized yard, but not necessarily un-maintainable either.
6. The house would probably only need new carpet and new paint. Not the MAJOR overhaul that some of the others would require.
Here are a couple of pictures of the house. Since these were taken, the house was foreclosed, and is now re-listed as a bank owned house.
So, we put in an offer. I am proud that we stuck to our offer, even after hearing that another offer had been submitted. The fact is that we're offering slightly above the list price, but with seller paying closing costs. With this market, the other offer could be drastically lower than the list price, or the other people may not even be pre-approved. The bottom line is that we know what we want to pay, we made an offer, and stuck to it. Either it will be accepted (yay!), or it won't, and we'll be in the same situation that we're currently in. As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing to be lost here.
Also, I'm way less stressed than I expected to be. It will be nice if we get it, but not the end of the world if we don't. I just keep telling myself that things will work in God's time, not in my own. And, I fully realize that this house may not be in God's plan. If not, I'm okay with that. We should know by Wednesday if the offer was accepted, so between now and then, we'd appreciate prayers--mostly for our own sanity!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
1. Fridays are normally very relaxed and chill at work. However, tomorrow I have to go to a boring boring seminar about legislative changes. From 10am-3pm. Boo. However, I am REALLY looking forward to going to watch my "little" brother play football tomorrow. I am also hoping that Ryan and Renee can find a babysitter so that they can come with.
2. Normally, I hate the rain. It drives my allergies nuts. However, today was the first real rain of the season, and I have to admit that everything smells so crisp and clean. I enjoyed it a little bit, even if it did make my hair frizz.
3. My nephew Logan (almost 2) is starting to say "Mere-Mere" really clearly. It melts my heart every time. There's nothing better than having a little kid yell your name, and run up to give you a hug. Okay, maybe him falling asleep on me is a little better. Also, Payton (almost 4) just came up and said, "Hi Mere-Mere, how are you?" I told her that I was very good, and she responded, "Oh, I'm glad! I was just checking! I love you!" So sweet. I've got a serious case of baby fever today.
4. I am TIRED. I feel like we've been going and going non-stop lately. I am really cherishing just having a moment to sit, and update my blog while sitting at church, listening to Justin's band practice, and watching Payton and Logan run around playing.
5. I know that most people are really freaked out about the state of the economy right now. However, it's proven to be VERY good for us in terms of house hunting. Foreclosures are coming back on the market much faster than they did previously, and are listed much lower than they were even a week ago. For example, The Cross House is a 2bed, 2bath house listed at 173,000. It is NOT a foreclosure. The house next door to the Cross House just came back on the market after being foreclosed on, and it is a 3bed, 2bath listed at 150,000. I struggle with this a bit because I hate taking advantage of the misfortune of others, but this is also a wonderful opportunity for us.
6. I am freezing. It's 63 degrees. I'm a wuss, I know.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Lately, my work has been everywhere, including my dreams. It's wearing on me a lot. I've had to read and re-read Psalms 82:3-4, "Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked." I feel convicted to do this work, but often it's just difficult. One of the most frustrating things about my job is that I can't share anything with my husband or family. I could tell Justin that I worked on a parental sex abuse case, but that in itself doesn't rip your heart out like it does when you know the child, and hear all the graphic details.
However, I can share a special report published by a newspaper in Florida called "The Girl In The Window." Read the story, look at the multi-media portion of the article. Believe me when I tell you that abuse THIS SEVERE is happening all across the nation every day. Even where you live.
So, how can you help? First and foremost, if you ever suspect child abuse, call your local child welfare office. Remember that child abuse isn't just physical abuse--it's neglect, it's sex abuse, it's exposure to domestic violence, it's exposure to drugs, it's MANY things. It isn't your responsibility to decide what is or isn't abuse...if there's ANY doubt in your mind, let child welfare decide.
Forgive me for the long quote I'm about to post, but I think it's valuable. Again, I claim no rights to this piece:
"If you don’t learn to be thoughtful, you end up regretting missed opportunities to demonstrate love. Thoughtlessness is a silent enemy to a loving relationship.
Let’s be honest. Men struggle with thoughtfulness more than women. A man can focus like a laser on one thing and forget the rest of the world. Whereas this can benefit him in that one arena, it can make him overlook other things that need his attention.
A woman, on the other hand, is more multi-conscious, able to maintain an amazing awareness of many factors at once. She can talk on the phone, cook, know where the kids are in the house, and wonder why her husband isn’t helping . . . all simultaneously. Adding to this, a woman also thinks relationally. When she works on something, she is cognizant of all the people who are somehow connected to it.
Both of these tendencies are examples of how God designed women to complete their men. As God said at creation, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). But these differences also create opportunities for misunderstanding.
Men, for example, tend to think in headlines and say exactly what they mean. Not much is needed to understand the message. His words are more literal and shouldn’t be overanalyzed. But women think and speak between the lines. They tend to hint. A man often has to listen for what is implied if he wants to get the full meaning.
If a couple doesn’t understand this about one another, the fallout can result in endless disagreements. He’s frustrated wondering why she speaks in riddles and doesn’t just come out and say things. She’s frustrated wondering why he’s so inconsiderate and doesn’t add two and two together and just figure it out."The dare for the corresponding day is, "Contact your spouse sometime during the business of the day. Have no agenda other than asking how he or she is doing and if there is anything you could do for them. "
Simple, right? But I do believe that intentionally doing small things in this way, and for a different motivation than we usually do them could be valuable to the marriage. Anyway, I love the principle behind this book, I just struggle a bit with it being "movie hype". But then again, I don't have problems buying other books before or after I see the corresponding movie, so I certainly shouldn't have a problem buying one that could be so wonderful for our marriage.
Blessings on your day!