Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Not jumping for the first thing

We walked in there resolute in our decision that we would not jump at the first thing we saw. No, you don't want to do that when you're shopping for the biggest investment you'll ever make. None-the-less, that's exactly what we did.

In our defense, we've been scouting the market for a while now, and what's out there and affordable for us is less than desirable. Most of them are in ugly parts of town, run down, need a lot of work. If we wanted all of those things, we'd stay right.

So the house we looked at Sunday was perfect for us. Not huge, but certainly not tiny, with a great kitchen (my main requirement in the house hunt) and nice bedrooms. The main attraction to the house, though, was the florida room right off the kitchen. It's all sunny and glassed in, under air, and overlooking a spectacular back yard. Did I mention that the back yard is spectacular? Well, it is. They've landscaped it in red brick paths that all converge to a central patio surrounded with various species of native plants.

There's no fence, but the Bouganvilla growing all along the property line creates a natural screen that blocks out the rest of the world and makes you feel like you're in your own little paradise.

The owners tell us that this is where they spend most of their time. Who can blame them.

We want it. Bad.

The one thing in our favor here is that it's within our price-range, and they're not in any hurry to move. The lady is scheduled for surgery soon, and after that they are moving north to be near family. No rush though, her surgery has been postponed. That gives us time to fix this place up and get it sold. If I'm budgeting correctly, and I'm probably not, we'll need about $10,000 to get this place up to a sellable standard. In other words, replace the A/C, fix the master bath, the stucco, repaint outside and in, replace the carpet in the master bedroom. And if there's anything leftover, we're going to put in a new kitchen sink and faucet, maybe even new counter tops. They say that updating bathrooms and kitchens are your best investments when trying to sell a house. I'd have to agree. The kitchen has always been the selling point for me. It's not that ours is bad, as a matter of fact it's roomy and great, but the white counter tops are boring and easily stained, and the stainless steel sink is, well, stained. Gotta love well water, right?

So, instead of sitting here dreaming about being in our new home, I guess I need to be on the phone getting a few estimates, eh?

Wish us luck. We both feel that this is truly the perfect house for us, and it's so rare that we EVER agree on anything that I can't help but believe that it's the right decision.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Fuck Equity

Can I say fuck in here?

Of course I can, it's my blog! Silly me.

Been one of those days. I'm feeling disjointed, as if the whole world is about a second and a half ahead of me.

Wil called me at work this morning.

"Honey, I have good news and bad news for you."

"Aww hell, give me the bad news first."

"Well, I was in the shower this morning,"

this could be interesting

"and I leaned against the wall, and fell through."

Stifling my laughter at that image

"Are you ok dear?"

"Yeah, but the wall is gone."

"And the good news is?..."

"The realtor called today, there's a house nearby in our price range. It belongs to some old lady who's going into a nursing home. They're selling cheap."

"Well hell, make us an appointment!"

Let's see here... we finally got our roof put on. One big accomplishment. But now look at all the other stuff that's falling apart. (Literally)

The a/c, the stucco, the carpet in the master bedroom, the shower, we need to paint the exterior, replace the hinge on the shed door, re-screen the front door, replace the reverse osmosis under the kitchen sink, fix the water softener. How much is that all going to run?

Even if we do all the work ourselves, we're talking thousands and thousands. And that's just to fix it enough to put it on the market.

The wall in the bathroom is trash. We're going to have to gut it, tear out all the tile, drywall it, re-tile it, re-grout it. Who knows how extensive the damage is in there. Is this hurricane damage that is just now becoming evident, or a problem that's been brewing for years? What does the rest of the house look like behind the walls?

Oh dear god!

I'm ready to call the "We buy ugly houses" people, take whatever they offer and get the hell out of Dodge! Fuck equity. By the time we make the repairs and then hire an agent and pay a commission and closing costs and go through the hassle of keeping the place showable, there won't be anything left anyway.

So tomorrow, instead of taking our son to the zoo like we originally planned, we'll be house hunting. Oh joy!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Just in time!

We finally have a roof! Yay! I can't tell you how exciting it is to hear the hum and clack of nail guns at 6 in the morning. Now, just in time for hurricane season, we have a brand new beautiful roof.

It's not until you've lived for nearly a year with a tarp flapping in the wind that you truly realize the beauty of a dimensional shingle.

Brian and George worked their butts off over this weekend, and I can't thank them enough for everything they did for us. Not only did they replace the roof, as if that weren't enough, but they also patched the stucco that was damaged, cleaned out all the gutters and took down the christmas lights that have been there since 1997! The stucco job is not a permanent fix, but it buys us some time to save the money for the real job.

Funny, just when this house is starting to look like a home again, and we're considering moving. We still haven't come to any real conclusions, but the thought of living through the construction if we decided to add on to this house seems overwhelming. Especially with a newly walking toddler on our hands. It's hard enough just keeping him out of harm's way now. Imagine trying to keep him safe around a construction site! We'd most certainly have to spend the time living in a hotel or something.

So anyway... that's the weekend's news. A roof doesn't really seem like much to celebrate about, but for us, it's an incredible accomplishment.

And speaking of accomplishments... I am now down to 160 lbs. Still about 10 lbs. away from my goal, but damn have I come a long way from the 180 something that I was a few months ago!

And now I just need to join a gym and tone up some of this flabby skin that's left behind. Soon, very soon.

Friday, May 20, 2005

In the words of Bob Marley

I called the day care center where my nephew, Steven, goes after school to see if they had any openings for Jonas. It was incredible. The minute I told them that I was Steven's aunt, the owner picked up the phone and told me that she had already hired another teacher just so that there would be an opening for Jonas. Wow! Someone else cares enough about my son to do something like that. I was overcome with relief.

I didn't sleep last night, trying to figure out how in the hell we were going to be able to pull Jonas out of his current place and find somewhere else that was safe and affordable. When I dropped him off this morning, I cried all the way to work, worried about how he would be, and how I would go about firing the person that I've trusted with his care since he was 8 weeks old. Now it seems like everything is going to work out just fine.

The new place certainly isn't fancy. But I know from the way that Steven talks about it, and from talking with the owner this afternoon, that the people that work there are first class, and that they really do love the kids and give them extra attention. And she gave me a great rate, since she knows that our finances aren't really in order right now. (To be read: We're fucking broke) Her normal price for infants is $125 a week. Jonas will be attending for $75 a week. That's only $10 more than I'm paying now. And on top of that, they're open later at night, so I won't have to be doing some sort of amazing race across town to pick him up in the evenings. Also, the new place is about a mile from work, which means that if I want to drop in over lunch, or whatever, I can.

Yes, everything's gonna be alright.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Everybody out of the pool!

The girl that watches Jonas is having a pool put in over the next month or so. I can't tell you how nervous this makes me. I know that she'd never intentionally allow the baby to go for a swim, but all it would take is for one of the bigger kids to leave the door cracked. That, among other things, is the reason I'm now on the hunt for a new daycare. Not to mention, it's not helping with my desire to be a stay at home mom. I mean, who can you trust to watch your kids?

Yesterday I went and picked him up early and found him in a playpen in a closet. Yes, you heard me right, in a CLOSET! No light, no baby monitor. What if he had choked or something? There's no way she would have heard him. It also makes me wonder how often he spends time this way. Her excuse was that he was napping and she wanted him to have some quiet time. WTF?! Did I also mention that his diaper was incredibly soiled? As in... it looked like he was still wearing the same one I dropped him off in!

I was so pissed I didn't even have the words to tell her what I thought.

He's with his grandparents today. That's not an ideal situation either, but at least I know that they won't be putting him in any closets.

So tomorrow I'm faced with either sending him back to daycare, or quitting my job. Neither of which seem like workable plans. What's a girl to do? Even if I somehow found a new daycare tonight, they certainly wouldn't take him until I had all of the paperwork in order. And finding anywhere that has an opening for an infant is next to impossible.

And it breaks my heart to think that I trusted her.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

You Poor Thing

I just don't get it.

It seems like every one of the parenting magazines that I read always contains some article written by or about stay at home moms whining how tough their job is.

They feel alienated.
They feel shunned by the rest of society because they don't "do anything" for a living.
They don't have any time for themselves.
They miss having adult conversations.
No one appreciates the hard work they do.


I can guarantee you that about 90% of us "lucky" working moms would give our husbands left testicle (and probably the right one too, since we don't have time sex anyway)to be able to stay home with our children.

Adult conversation is highly overrated. Trust me.

And while they're sitting at home making up reasons why they've got it so bad, we're at work, earning just enough to get by and missing out on the greater part of our children's formative years.

I'll never forget the day that I picked Jonas up from Bonnie's and we were talking about how well he was learning to move around. I told her, "Yeah, he's really working on rolling over, but he's just not quite there yet." She looked at me like I was nuts and replied, "Oh, he's been doing that for weeks!"

I went home and cried for an hour.

And yes, I'm sure it's difficult to be at home all day. There's laundry, and cooking, and cleaning and all of that while trying to entertain a baby. But realize, please, that we do all of those things, too. Only we have to fit it into nights and weekends, when we could be bonding with our babies.

As far as social interaction goes. You stay at homers have it made. All those Kindermusic classes, and Gymboree classes and playgroups that I read about... they occur during the weekdays. I can't go to those. You can. You can meet other moms, people you have something in common with. You can watch your babies grow and develop instead of hearing it second-hand from someone your child has become so attached to that you wonder if you're even important anymore.

Jonas knows me as the lady that gives him a bath and puts him to bed at night, and the one who wakes him up in the morning to get him dressed so that he can go back to Bonnie's for 12 hours.

So don't sit here and whine to me that you've got it tough, or that you've made some sort of enormous sacrifice for your family by staying at home. And don't freakin' whine to me about all the things you do during the day and get no credit for. I know what you do, I give you credit for it, but I'm also green with envy over the fact that you have the luxury of having such a tough and terrible occupation.

At least your children know who you are. And don't you think that's worth more than anything I could ever possibly earn in a day at the office?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Odd and Ends

It has become glaringly obvious that we cannot move. Well, we can, but where we could afford to move to is not desirable by any stretch of the imagination. It's disgusting the way home prices have soared in just the past few months.

My best friend's little sister signed a contract on a new home back in February. Wil and I visited the same builder over the weekend, and the exact same house now goes for seventy thousand more. Seventy thousand! What the hell is that all about?!

So, we can stay right here and enjoy our affordable mortgage and our way too small house, or we can move into something that's falling apart and a little bit bigger and pay nearly three times as much. Forget new construction, that's reserved for the yuppies driving the convertible BMW's.

We've done some thinking about this though, and we've realize that there's a lot to this house that we actually like. It's on a great piece of property in a great area that's only going to continue to get bigger as town makes it's way towards us. We don't flood, not even after two hurricanes, and there are a lot of memories in this house. This is the place my nephew came home to after his birth and where he took his first steps. The tile floor was laid by my own hands. It's not perfect, but every little defect in the workmanship tells a story about friendship. How many friends will come over on their day off and help you lay a floor? This is where Jonas has always called home, and where his father and I have spent our entire relationship.

The yard out there is where Wil and I have sat on so many nights, star-gazing, playing drums, and just, well, being. I can't imagine just handing all of this over to some stranger who will have no idea of the significance the little things hold.

So we're going to re-finance, take out some of the equity we've built up, and use it to create an addition. Once we're done, we'll have the third bedroom that we so desperately need, and we'll have a new living room. We might even have a new bathroom, or at least an upgraded one, and a laundry room. And even after doing all of this, our loan will only be about half of what we'd finance in order to move into something else, and did I mention that we get to keep our memories?

Wil's car is broken this week. It seems like just as soon as we get one thing accomplished, something else goes awry. Hopefully we'll be able to get it fixed this week while he's on-call and has the work van. I don't think it's anything major. Probably just a hose. At worst, it's the radiator. But I'm no mechanic. I'll leave the figuring out to the pros. So far, it's been a really good car to us, considering that it's got an obscene number of miles on it.

We did get shingles delivered. As soon as Brian and Wendy have the time, we'll have a new roof. I sort of feel bad putting a new roof on the house when I know that in the next year or so, when we begin our addition, half of it will most likely be ripped right back off. But at the same time, I can't see leaving it tarped through another hurricane season. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

I haven't lost any more weight this week. I'm still hovering right around 166, but that's ok with me. I've been a little more slack on my diet, enjoying a few things I normally wouldn't indulge in. It was mother's day, I had an excuse, right? I'll get back on it this week though.

Tonight's dinner will be shish-kebobs with lots of veggies, over a bed of wild rice. Yum.

Anyway, little man is awake and ready to roll.

My son is a wild man!

It's funny how parents can't wait for their children to reach milestones, only to miss the previous stages once they're there.

Jonas has learned to crawl in the past week or so and now there's no stopping him. Today alone he has managed to bonk his head on three separate surfaces, smash his fingers under the rocking chair, and narrowly escaped pulling the side table over on top of him.

Those of you without children have no idea how difficult it is to truly child-proof your home. Those of you with kids, you feel my pain. Sure, I've got the outlets covered, and the cabinets locked, but who knew that things as innocent as a pair of sandals left by the front door would seem like such an attractive nuissance to a newly mobile baby?

And he never stops. Jonas is on the move every moment that he's awake. A toy holds his interest only for a moment, but a speaker stand that might tip over and brain him... now that's entertainment! How is it that a baby knows exactly what is and what isn't potentially dangerous, and can consistently return to the dangerous item time and again?

Yes, I miss the days when I could lay him on his mat on the floor and step into the kitchen without worrying that I might find him nibbling on litter box goodies upon my return!

Can't a mother have a break?

Invasion of the yuppies!

A bunch of guys ina convertible BMW just pulled up across the street. Apparently they, or at least one of them, has purchased the vacant lots that I have grown to love over the past 7 years.

I guess I could look at this as a positive thing. Rich people build nice houses. That means property values are going to increase some more. But I can't help but feel like they're taking away part of the charm that makes this street what it is.

Oh well, there goes the neighborhood.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Lasagna Rolls

Ok, as promised, and taking my cue from Laura at Strong Women and Whiskey I thought I'd start sharing some of my favorite "light" recipes.

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna Rolls

9-12 regular lasagna noodles
1 16oz container of low fat or non-fat ricotta cheese
1 package frozen spinach, thawed with water squeezed out
1/2 small container (or more if you'd like) of mushrooms
*it might be fun to experiment with different types of mushrooms
1 jar spaghetti sauce (I like the boring old Hunt's Traditional in the can)
1 cup or so of shredded low fat mozzarella, or any blend cheese.
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 c. romano or parmesan cheese (low fat if you can find it)
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350

In a large pot, boil noodles until very al dente. In other words, just soft enough to roll up.
Spray casserole dish with cooking spray.
In large bowl combine spinach, sliced mushrooms, garlic, romano cheese, ricotta cheese, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly.

Lay each noodle out flat and spread mixture evenly along each individual noodle.

Roll each noodle up to form a pinwheel. You should be rolling from one short side to the other, if this isn't obvious to you.

Place side by side in casserole dish with "tails" down. Sprinkle with half of the shredded mozzarella, or mixed cheese.

Cover with spaghetti sauce and then layer the rest of the shredded cheese on top.

Bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes, until cheese on top is all golden and delicious.


This recipe is also great for portion control. If you're wanting to really watch what you eat, each roll makes a perfect serving. Add a side salad and maybe a little garlic bread. It's high in carbs, but low in fat and calories, if you use the low-fat cheese. And it's also nutritious! But most importantly, it doesn't taste like cardboard like most low fat food.

Feel free to experiment. This would probably work well with other veggies, and meats. I just happen to love spinach and mushrooms.



It's my only day off this week, and I'm determined to enjoy it, or at least make it useful. I've already done the floors and the litter box, and the two loads of laundry that needed doing. The dishes are washed, the baby is bathed, and I'm feeling good about myself.

And this, I've learned, is where my husband and I differ. I'm one of those people that agonizes over the stuff that needs to be done, so in order to enjoy my day, I have to tackle all that crap first and get it out of the way. Wil would rather go and enjoy himself and then come back and deal with the crap later. How does he do it? How can he look around the living room and see the toys scattered from one end to the other, the dog hair tumbleweeds collecting in the corners, the mountain of bills on the desk, or the pile of dishes in the sink, and not be overwhelmed. If I left them there, I'd agonize all day about the mess I left behind.

Just an observation, no real revelation there or anything. I guess I'm just trying to come to grips with the fact that we function differently, and even though it drives me crazy, it's just the way he is.

We want to move so badly that it's driving us crazy. The only problem is, there's very little that we can afford. The average house in this town is going for $250,000. Isn't that a little ridiculous for just a little three bedroom older home? I thought so too. It's amazing how much property values around here have soared just in the last couple of years. When I bought this house back in '98 I paid $57,000 for it. Now it's worth nearly double that. And the vacant lots that used to go for about 5 or 6 thousand are now $35,000.

We found one house that we both sort of like. It's not the outside of our price range, and it's older, but it's very unique. (that can either be read as cool, or troublesome, I'm not sure yet) It needs aesthetic work. The carpets are ugly and the vinyl floors just suck, but that's small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. The cool thing about the house is that it's two-story. That's rare down here. It has a fenced yard, so my dog has running room that she doesn't have now, and it has two porches and a balcony off the master bedroom. The kitchen is not exactly the kitchen of my dreams, but it's not tiny, so it has potential.

We can either make an offer on that house, or we can consider building a new home and have exactly what we want. Of course, building sounds like the better option, but the prospect of finding decent land is bleak. I just don't want to pay $40,000 for a lot in the boonies that has to have well water and septic and is 40 miles from anything civilized.

I don't know. I'm so impulsive sometimes that I just jump on the first thing that comes along. I don't want to do that with the house. This is where I'm thankful for my husband that drags his feet all the time. It keeps me from making a lot of poor decisions.

But enough of the new house stuff. Today I have to go buy shingles for the house we live in. With any luck, I just might have a roof again before hurricane season. Yippie! And the lawn guy comes today to tear down the jungle that used to be our yard. Our lawn mower bit the dust and seems to be beyond repair. Of course, in the time it took us to determine that, and to finally give in and call the lawn service, the grass turned into some sort of big green beast that's threatening to take over the entire house.

My Mom just called and wants to meet us for lunch here in the next hour. Yay! I love free lunch.

And I can afford to spoil myself a little.

Here are the latest numbers:
Weight: 166.5 lbs
Bust: 38"
Waist: 35"
Hips: 41"

Not much change in the inches department, but this is the lowest my weight has been in about two years. I'm feeling very proud of myself, and very determined to stick with my diet.
It's amazing what a difference it can make to simply eat healthy foods and correct portions. Other than that, I'm doing very little differently than before.

Stay tuned, tonight I'll try and post my recipe for a really yummy lasagna dish that is filling and incredibly light.