Ramblings about Nothing – Another long post from a lonely hotel room

March 29, 2008 at 6:52 pm (Pre-Move Updates) (, )

Yep, I have a bit of jet lag.  I guess it makes sense.  Last night I was up until 1 a.m., and you all know how unusual that is for me.  We slept until 9:30 CST time too.  Well, actually, I got up at 5:30 to do something to the dogs.

You know how Lola does that annoying growl thing?  The one that after a while can make you want to bash her tiny skull in?  Well, hotels are a real problem for her.  She can hear people coming and going and she feels the need to do a premtptive growl – at all hours.  The hotel we were at last night had a bunch of trucker-types and they were all leaving at 5:30 in the morning, so naturally, Lola had to send them off right.  I did what any sane person would do – no, I didn’t put her back in the truck – I locked her and Spice, in their kennel, in the bathroom and shut the door.  That seemed to solve the problem.  I guess she’s like a bird – if you throw her into complete darkness she can relax.  And you would think that she would be exhausted from constantly being on alert.  Anyway, tonight and for the rest of the trip she may be sleeping in the bathroom.  And she should be darn thankful she’s not sleeping in the car.

Speaking of sleeping, do you know what has become the bane of my existence?  Tom’s CrackBerry.  I would like to talk to those CrackBerry makers or find a support group online.  Sleepless Wives of CrackBerry Users Anonymous.  I have no problem with Tom checking his email during TV commercials, using the internet in the car to look up directions, or carrying it about with the same reverance I show my Burt’s Bees.  No, the problem I have is specifically with the use of that damn clicky wheel in my bed.

Some time ago, I banished the TV from the bedroom because it prolonged the timeframe in which I could fall asleep.  Now I am considering a ban on the CrackBerry.  Tom charges it on his nightstand and in the morning when he wakes up, the first thing he reaches for is the CrackBerry so he can scroll through his messages using that damn clicky wheel.

Somewhere along the line, I became a light sleeper, particularly with someone else in the bed.  If Tom can’t fall asleep, I am kept awake by his “awake breathing”.  Likewise in the morning, his breathing changes and the associated noises usually wake me up – unless he gets up and leaves the room.  Before the CrackBerry (BCB), he would do just that, wake up and then go check email on his laptop at the other end of the house.  It worked out well for me, I would wake up momentarily but then be able to go back to sleep.  Now however, he can stay in bed and click his way through his email without getting up.  For some reason, being woken up by that damn clicky wheels annoys me to no end.  I don’t know why I’m so sensitive to it.  I would give anything to be able to sleep through all his morning routine stuff, this in particular.  It’s not especially loud or abrasive, but it performs the same way a non-conventional alarm clock does.  “Wake up, Elizabeth, wake up.  Wake.  Click.  Up.  Click.  Wake.  Click.  Up.  Click”.  But unlike an alarm clock, I cannot reach over and throw it, or its user, across the room.

Given the ability to wake up on my own schedule on the weekends, coming around to my own body’s rhythms, is a lovely thing and I wake up in a great mood.  I know it won’t last – eventually I will be woken up by some child demanding food at ungodly hours.  And I can’t complain too much about my ability to wake up at the faintest noise – I will be the only one to hear the baby fart before an explosive midnight diaper dump.  I can also wake up in a reasonably tolerant mood when the alarm goes off at 5:15 in the morning.  But being woken up, on my days off, earlier than I had planned and before my body was willing, by a CRACKBERRY, is really starting to get to me.

Thank you.  The rant portion of this post is over.  For now.

On a completely unrelated topic, we are in Eagan tonight and have moved into the extended stay suite for the next few days.  It’s going to be nice to be in one place for a few days.  Consequently, I brought the plants inside.  Do you know what they don’t have in Minnesota, besides Teriyaki?   Bamboo plants.  It don’t get this cold in Vietnam.  Take a look at our poor bamboo plants.  I’m hoping they will come back, but all I have to base this hope on is the inability to kill the bamboo at our place in Enumclaw.  We’ve had these for nearly 6 years, it would be sad if they died.  The Aloe Vera plant seems to be doing better, although a few of the lower shoots may need to be amputated.

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Don’t know what tomorrow holds.  We need to get some sleep and relax, and they have an actual breakfast buffet here, not a continental breakfast, so hopefully I can drag myself out there before 10:30.  It all depends on when the CrackBerry Alarm goes off.  We’re across the street from a movie theatre, so maybe we’ll check that out.  We’ll probably go look at paint samples and a new front door, as Tom reminded me that we should have the new door in place before they set up the Fort Knox Alarm System.  (If Tom lived in medieval times and had a castle, he would have the moat, the tar, the rocks, the flaming arrows, and just in case all that failed, a dragon backed up by a giant troll.  I talked him out of setting a motion sensor for the entire garage.  He compromised by just putting an alarm on the garage door for the Chevelle Bay.)

As for the food options, we’ve been eating fairly good.  I’ve been wearing sweatpants while driving though, so it’s difficult to tell if one is over eating when one has an elastic waistband on.  Tom asked what I felt like for dinner and I told him a bowl of clam chowder and some garlic bread.  He thought that was weird – I guess he was expecting something more along the lines of “Boston Market” instead of the exact menu item.  But we went to BM – they serve so much food for $6.50.  I brought back half my chicken for the dogs.  They love me best.  I figure I have about 4 more days of eating out and then I’ll have my kitchen back – including my crock pot.  I know crock pot dinners can get old and start to blend, but when you’re really busy all day long and too tired to actually cook something come evening, they are a lifesaver.  Home cooked and tasty.  Speaking of all this stuff, has anyone tried to make our Beenie Weenie recipe using real beans instead of the canned and rinsed ones?  I was just wondering because the canned ones, after all that cooking, are pretty mushy and I thought it might be good to try beans from scratch for a firmer texture.  Comments welcome.

Enough of this rambling.  Everyone must be bored to tears by now.  I’ll leave you with this picture of innocence.

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Oh, an this hotel uses Bath & Body Works lotion in the rooms.  Tonight I’ll be sampling the Coconut Lime flavor.  Hold on to your hats, it’s going to be wild out here!

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Cross Country Update

March 28, 2008 at 7:35 pm (Uncategorized)

Somehow, we started this trip on a high note, and today, three nights into it, I’m sitting on a chair in a “Quality Inn” in Jamestown, ND, wondering if I should sleep with all my clothes on.  I yelled at Lola when she began carpet snurffing because I can’t verify the sanitary condition of the carpet.  Thankfully, they have internet, but I’m confounded why anyone would want to live in North Dakota.  We, and by we I mean Tom, have battled strong side-winds all day long, sleet, hail, rain, and now snow.  This place sucks.  Oh, but we did pass a billboard in Bismark for a Starbucks, so at least they can claim that.

Anyway….lot’s to catch up on.  This will be a lengthy post as I have nothing else to do and am jet-lagged from crossing two timezones in two days and am not hungry for dinner.  So go get yourself some popcorn, I’ll wait.

The packers came out on Monday.  It was exactly like they promised – a crew of three spent the day packing our stuff and we weren’t allowed to help.  There weren’t even questions I could answer, they just packed everything that wasn’t plugged in or potentially hazardous.  To stay out of their way, I sat in the bedroom and began re-reading Harry Potter 7.  Toward the end of the day, Tom and I went to sign papers and by 6 p.m., Wendall and his crew were gone.  This is what the place looked like.

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On Tuesday, Wendall came back with the truck driver and the truck driver’s son and the three of them had our house packed and on the truck in about 6 hours.  Damn.  They were all very nice.  Amelia, our snotty neighbor, couldn’t resist a few jabs.  We had warned the truck driver that she might screech because the truck was blocking her driveway, although I was hopeful that she would realize this meant that we were hours from being gone forever.  She didn’t fuss too much about that, just enough to let the crew know we weren’t exaggerating.  But, she did make some comment about whether they could pack us, Tom and me, up in the truck and drive off!  First, the comment doesn’t really make sense – once all our stuff is gone, it’s not like we’re going to hang around an empty house just to annoy her.  Second, this is not the first time she’s attempted to badmouth us TO THE PEOPLE WE HIRE.  Um…I just don’t get it.  I thought I would send her a Christmas card letting her know how happy we are that we moved away.

The buyer came out on Tuesday for the final walk-through and that was a pain in the butt.  He brought his inspector back with him!  Even though we had sent him the receipts for all the work we did.  In the end, he and his agent continued to make a fuss about the Studder vent in the new bathroom and the agent was making comments like “oh, the papers haven’t gone to the courthouse yet, we can still stop this” so we had to call out a plumber and have the vent extended through the roof for an additional $350.  It was extremely aggravating and here’s the why – a Studder vent is perfectly acceptable to vent into the attic space and is used when the angle is too tight to extend the vent through the roof.  In our case, it was likely that the non-English speaking plumber’s assistant was too lazy to do it the regular way and put the Studder vent in.  But, it is perfectly legit anyway.  However, the dumbass buyer and his agent were calling plumbers and asking in a general fashion if Studder vents were acceptable – and of course the plumbers were telling them otherwise – they could get a job worth $350 for a half-hour’s work.  And of course the dumbass wanted a licensed and bonded person to do a job that would take Tom $20 to fix.  We are so over this buyer.

This buyer, who is an Asian Project Manager at Boeing, owned a house once before, a brand new house he lost in a divorce.  So of course he likes our house because it feels newer, but he expects it to be pristine and it’s 40 years old!  Also, he has expressed that he has zero interest in learning how to do routine house fix-ups – he “hires” people for that.  Anyway, the house is his now and he’ll find a few things wrong when he moves in.  Hehe.

On Tuesday, Bill Brokaw had surgery on his shoulder – his Rotary Cuff that he injured back in August.  It was supposed to be an out-patient surgery but when they got started, the damage and subsequent arthritis was so bad they had to admit him.  Of course that made the actual surgery longer and poor Judy was left hanging in the waiting room and nobody knew nothing.  Not fun.  He now has to keep that shoulder completely immobile for 2 weeks.

Wednesday we left for Spokane.  We got a late start because our radio stopped working and we were trying to figure our why and what to do about it.  As it turned out, we couldn’t get into either a Nissan or the local Car Toys in a reasonable timeframe, so we drove to Spokane without a radio and stopped in at their Car Toys.  When Tom installed the XM Radio, the clip holding the radio to the power source broke, so the nice guys zip-tied it back in for $22.  Sure beats waiting 2 weeks and $250 later for a refurbished Bose radio from Nissan.

Suzy, Tom’s mom, recommended a B&B in Chewelah, and it was really nice.  We were the only ones there.  They normally don’t take dogs but made an exception and we kept the dogs in the entryway to our room.  The B&B was done very tastefully in a log cabin style – except instead of round logs they used log boards.  But there were tons of windows and the house was on a hill overlooking the valley.

Did you know that the telephoto lens I was complaining about DOES have an auto-focus button?  Yeah, thanks Dad!  Anyway, here is a shot or two from outside our room.  Those horses were way far away.  At least 4-5 acres away.  They had gotten some snow right before we came and it snowed a couple of inches overnight.  The B&B had a really comfy bed, nice bathroom, and stellar breakfast.  Kind of raised our expectations for the trip.

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After breakfast, we went back to Suzy’s to let the dogs blow of some steam before getting into the car.  Suzy’s new dog, Sam, is a dauschound chi-wow-wow mix and is 6 months old.  He and Spice got along just great.

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Lola, she preferred to huddle at my feet and watch.

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Spice got so hot she was eating snow.

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Eventually Lola decided that maybe playing wasn’t such a bad thing.

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Except that she got ice-balls really bad.  We had to melt them off with hot water.

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Wonder Dog!!

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We headed over the Rockies yesterday and the roads were pretty good, but it snowed almost the entire time.

We made it to Billings last night.  Today we got to Jamestown, which is half-way between Bismark and Fargo.  From here to Farmington is about 350 miles, so tomorrow shouldn’t be too bad.  Tom is an excellent driver.  I have driven very little so far because I don’t go as fast as he does.  And I only go as fast as I do on bare, dry roadways, with the sun out and the wind still.  That happened for about 2 hours this morning.  The dogs have been excellent.  At some point I expect them to refuse to get back into the car, but they have just been great.  Lola has spent just about the entire trip in my lap.  But I understand – when we take the curvy mountain roads at 70+ mph, she doesn’t have the body mass to keep herself from being flung about the car.  Leaning up on me, or asleep with her head in the crook of my elbow is much more comfortable for her.  Spice has been comfy in her bed in the backseat.  At one point today she was upside down.

The motels are another story.  With all the noise in the hallways, and the potential for other people, she has kept up that constant low growl in the room.  This morning it started at 6:21 a.m.  I would make her sleep in the car, but judging from the state of the bamboo we brought it us, she might freeze to death.  Or wilt.

That’s the update for now.  We’re officially homeless but really looking forward to getting out there and getting settled in.  But for right now, I’m going to go check out the bathroom here and see if I need to get some Lysol before bedtime.

I’ve put the whole set of pictures of the dogs playing in the snow on Flickr if you want to see the rest.

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Oh, my word….

March 21, 2008 at 2:10 pm (Pre-Move Updates) (, , )

Guess how much snow there is in Minnesota right now?

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Yep, 8 inches today!!  Can you believe it?  First of all, the dogs are going to FREEZE.  Followed closely by me.

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When does it all end, do you suppose?  That just looks gloomy and cold.  Will need to keep the polar fleece available.

In other news, we are doing well.  It’s been extremely helpful that we haven’t had to pack.  This weekend we’re going to make a dump run, give some things to Judy and Samantha, and go to the Brokaw’s for Easter Dinner.  Low-key and low-stress.  Monday and Tuesday will probably be pretty busy.

My last day is today, Friday.  My coworkers took me to lunch on Wednesday and then my team went for drinks after work on Thursday.  I’ve gotten gifts of jewelry, cash, gift cards, chocolate and a Starbucks mug.  Definitely feeling the love.  And very, very glad that I will be able to do some contract work for PACE while I find a job.  Linda has agreed to 30 hours a week for 2 months, maybe more or less if needed, and the idea of having immediate work is really reassuring – I can get us settled in and get my bearings before I have to start looking.

I’ll keep you guys posted as I can during our trek out.  I’m legitimately worried about blizzards now, and I’ve warned Tom that I don’t want to have to decide which dog to eat first should we become stranded. 🙂

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Interior House Pictures

March 18, 2008 at 5:49 pm (Uncategorized)

Sorry about the confusion, they took the pictures off the MLS listing! I had to get our agent to send me pictures of the house. So, without further ado….I present the front of the house:

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The soffets have lights in them, so at night the house is lit up in an attrative manner. On the left side of the house, you’ll notice a small trailer – the owner paved a small section over there for the extra parking. That may be useful. Also note the black cyclone fencing.

As you walk into the front door, this is the first room to the right. It’s the formal living room and we’ll likely use it as such.

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As you continue down the hall from the front door you’ll come to the kitchen. Note the gas stove, and all the appliances were new in 2005. The Formica is okay, but we’re going to replace it with granite and put up a nice tiled backsplash. It will help make the kitchen pop. Also, the linoleum floor isn’t very attractive, it tries for a ceramic tile look and falls short, by a lot. We’re likely going to replace it also.

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This is the eating area. It has a slider to the deck.

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The stairs in the kitchen lead up to the bedrooms. At the top of the stairs, to the left, is a full bath. Down the hall on the right are two regular bedrooms and at the end of the hall on the left is the master bedroom with a master bath.

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The only drawback to the room is that the lovely large window looks into someone else’s kitchen. Oh well, we probably won’t be having wild monkey sex during their dinner hour with the windows open anyway.

Now that you’re all done wiping that image from your brains, as if it’s even possible….

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Down the stairs is the fourth bedroom. We’ll likely use this as an office until such time we need to combine an office with a guest room. This room was done in tongue and groove light oak paneling. Including the ceiling. It’s pretty awful. Like you’ve walked into a log cabin without the rustic charm. We’re going to just drywall over it and turn it into a room that matches the tone of the rest of the house.

On the lower level there is a laundry room and another full bath, the above room, and then the family room.

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We’re going to put our TV in the same location and position the couch so we can, obviously, see the TV and look out the slider and window. To the right of the TV is another good sized window and where they kept their couch, so it’s a good sized room. Also, there is a door leading to storage under the entire kitchen area. Or, the most awesome child’s play area ever!

Out the slider is the hot tub. Tom is really looking forward to using it. First, it has the privacy fence, which is a must. Second, it has a top that is easy to put up/down so you won’t freeze to death getting out in the winter, and third, it’s really close to the house so we might actually use it in the winter.

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The size of the yard is 0.22 acres which might feel small except for the large pond behind the house. Or, as I refer to it, as the Mosquito Pit. Time will tell. We’re going to get one of those Sunbeam retractable awnings for the deck, the kind that can be turned into a screen room. That way, if the bugs are really bad, we can still enjoy the outdoors without being eaten. And the dogs will have some shade.

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The view of the pond. Along the side of this fence is the paved walking trail. The dogs need their entertainment and daily exercise.

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Do they make a West Nile Virus vaccine for dogs? Maybe we should get it too.

The house is really going to be nice. It’s going to feel much larger than what we have, yet I think we’re going to use the space well and it will feel homey. Also, it comes with the high-ticket items like a fence, deck, and sprinkler. Oh, sure, Tom likes the finished/heated garage too. I like the big pantry in the kitchen and the space for a freezer. I’m going to paint much of the interior the color of our living room now, the light vanilla color, and we’ll use the same color in the master bedroom as we have now because it perfectly matches our duvet. Otherwise, it’s perfectly ready to move into.

Don’t worry, when we get settled in, there will be more pictures. I’m sure you’re all dying to know where Lola’s couch is going to go. Maybe we should get the dogs beds for every level!

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Make it stop….

March 11, 2008 at 2:17 pm (Pre-Move Updates) ()

We didn’t get the house we put an offer on last night.

Yep, we found the one house with another buyer interested and they also made an offer yesterday at the listing agent’s urging, and their offer was accepted.  We found out last night at 9 p.m. and had to go back to our pile of houses and pick something new.

Tom was having a really difficult time with it last night, the moaning and bitching and general dis-spiritedness.  I was hopeful that we could find something today from the remaining, ever dwindling selection, that we could be happy with.

We woke up this morning and as Tom was checking his email, he got an alert for a house that came on the market last night.  We’d actually seen this house online for quite some time, but it looks like they took it off the market March 1st and just re-listed with a new agent last night, at an attractive $269,900.  We made that house our first priority to visit this morning.  Poor Sandy, our agent.  She just can’t seem to get rid of us.  She has been so helpful and kind and a real benefit during this process.  At the same time, I’m getting tired of seeing her black Tahoe every morning.

The house is okay.  That’s about the best I can summon at the moment.  Here is the picture and link.

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I think the problem is that we’re just totally spent and we’ve looked at so many houses in a short period of time and we decided that we wanted to stay close to Eagan, so that really limited our choices in the end.  And try as I might, I’m still comparing it to other homes I’ve seen recently, whether sold or not, expensive or cheap, there were other houses out there that I liked better, but this one fit our criteria and left us money to play with when it was all over.

The good things about this house is obviously the price, it is fenced, it has 4 beds, 3 baths, and a deck.  Also, it has curtains.  So right there we’ve taken care of a few high ticket items.  The bad parts, or parts I wish were different are as follows: it’s not as bright and open as others, the kitchen and master bedroom look directly at more than two other homes (and they are on opposite sides of the house), the house does look over a pond, but the other two sides are packed with homes.  Yes, it’s fenced, but along one side of the house runs a popular paved walking trail so we’ll have people walking past our house all the time and the dogs will go ballastic at all hours.  And, it’s 2,230 square feet, and while that’s respectable, it is a little smaller than the other ones I liked.

Tom was nice enough to take a look at the house that I liked better.  It was more money, but it was a flipped home, so practically everything in the home was new except the drywall.  I liked it better, it was larger and had the potential for even more space in the unfinished basement.  Additionally, I think it feels like it has more privacy in the backyard.  We called the seller directly to see how low he might go, because if he was willing to go down $30K, then this house would be only $64 more a month, and in my mind, would be worth it.  (It would be a competitive price because the taxes were much lower).  Alas, he wasn’t willing to go $30K lower, which I had expected, and as we were walking around, it appeared that he didn’t put gutters along one side of the gagage and since the day was nearly 50 degrees, there was about a 16 foot section of house that had about 8 inches of standing water next to the foundation.  Also, it appears that he put lots of dirt down to level the yard, so that may have been a complete mudpit when the snow melted.  Right off the bat we’d have to put in a partial fence, curtains, perhaps new sod, and deal with whatever the inspector was going to say about all that standing water.  Given our timeframe and general feeling like we need to get something done, we decided to put an offer on the first house.

We made a full-price offer, so I’m assuming they will accept it.  They are going to lose a lot of money on this house – they bought it new in 2005 fro $298 and then put in the deck ($10k), fence ($5k), and hot tub.  Hopefully we’ll be able to get the inspection done tonight or tomorrow morning and we’ll be on our way home tomorrow afternoon.

I have to say, I’m not excited at the moment.  Some people have said things like “isn’t this exciting” or “what an adventure”.  Frankly, it stopped being fun somewhere over the weekend and it’s become draining.  Between the jet lag, the uncomfortable beds, and the general stress of finding something, anything, that will meet our criteria, this has been very stressful.  I’m sure that once I’m in the house and not comparing it to the 50 others I’ve seen in the last 3 days, it will feel less like we’re settling.  And a home is what you make it, so once we get our stuff in it and remove their tacky semi-Navaho shit, it could be cute.

I’m trying to be positive and think about the fact that since it’s less money, I’ll have money to go in and right away repaint the walls something other than “dark sand”.  There’s a color that’s bright and cheerful.  Also, I can use some of that money to replace the ugly faux-western tile-look linoleum in the foyer/kitchen.  With all the realistic looking linoleum out there, why did they go with this one?  I’ve actually been fooled by some linoleum this week, but not this one.  Also, for the first time, I wouldn’t fight Tom on installing nicer counter-tops and a back-splash.  Stuff that will go a long way to making the house brighter and more like us.  And it might help ease the pain of feeling like we lost much better homes and are settling.

I was really worried that we were settling too much with this home.  I saw how Tom lit up at the prospect of a theatre area, and how much we both really liked some of the brighter, more open houses.  And after Thursday when we revised our criteria, this house wouldn’t have even gotten us out of the car because all the other houses are too close.  I knew we would have to compromise somewhere along the line in this process, but I really didn’t think it would be on something important like acreage (less than 0.25) or size.  I thought it would be on something like finishes, cosmetics, or older interiors.  So that bummed me out a little bit.

But, like Tom says, we won’t be stretching at all financially with this home so that gives us the ability to have more fun with our money.  I’m holding him to that statement.  And I will be happy in this house, it will be fine, and it will all work out.  But right now I’m just drained and, I have to admit, a little bit disappointed.  I wanted to be more excited about the house we eventually bought, and I feel that this is our only realistic choice – everything else on our dwindling list is more expensive and further out.

During the inspection I’ll be taking measurements of some of the rooms so I can play with furniture arrangements, looking again at what I might like to spruce up, and really giving it my best to see how I can make it feel like everything I want.  Maybe I can plant a big tree outside the kitchen window so I don’t stare at 4 other homes and their naked children running through the sprinkler.  Maybe we can plant some shrubs along the fence line to deter the dogs (unlikely, but it would look nicer).  I can plot where I want to put my free-standing freezer.  Because NOW WE’LL HAVE ALL THIS EXTRA MONEY.  (in case you were keeping track, we went from $320 plus immediate sod, fence, deck and curtain purchase to move in at $270 and need nothing – a $50+swing).

I’ll talk to you all later, but please don’t call me tonight.  I need to decompress and stop rehashing this.  Tom and I have hashed houses for over a week and I can’t do it anymore.  I need to get my mind space in the mode to turning this into our wonderful home and stop comparing or wishing that the the market/situation/time was different.  I will talk to everyone tomorrow or the next day.  Love much!

P.S.  I really do like this house, it’s a good house, I wasn’t coerced into anything, we’ll have plenty of room and it suits us, and I’m just venting and keeping it real.  Unfiltered emotion, all on one page.

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House Hunting Update

March 10, 2008 at 1:38 pm (Pre-Move Updates) (, , , )

It has been a long couple of days.  In total, we’ve looked at close to 50 homes, and I’ve taken notes on all of them so we could remember which ones we like, which ones we didn’t, and why.  We arrived with a list and on Thursday, Sandy and I started looking while Tom was in meetings.  Around noon we got a call from Tom – FHA had raised the loan amount to $365K, so suddenly we could throw our list out and look at homes that were a little higher than the $285 max we had.  So basically Thursday was a wash and Friday and Saturday were spent in a marathon session of house hunting.

On Friday we found this house on Akin Road.  It’s a beautiful house built in 2007 and never lived in.  Totally, totally high-end everything: carpet, cabinetry, appliances, furnace/ac, closets, etc.  I call it an “aspirational” house, one that you could spend an entire lifetime aspiring to.  It reminds me a lot of mom and dad’s house, something that it just really lovely.  The side of the house is next to a road, but it isn’t a really busy road, and the back looks over a natural growth protection area.  There are another 4 potential lots next door, but who knows when those might be built in this market.

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The bank owns this house right now and we went fishing for some information.  We learned that on the last deal, the bank countered an offer to $320, so we thought that if we offered that we stood a chance.  We made our offer and had to wait until Banking Hours to learn what the result was.  The bank came back only $2K less than the listing price of $339!  So we didn’t even bother countering again – we decided that they were too high for us, and in addition, we would be spending a lot of up-front costs on a sprinkler system, sod, fencing, deck, and curtains.  All very expensive items.  So we went to our second choice.

This house is in Rosemount, which is less than 7 miles from Thomson.  It’s in a subdivision and there is a road behind us, but the traffic on that road isn’t bad, we aren’t too close to our neighbors, and the property is 0.36 acres, not bad for a subdivision property.  It’s a 4-level home.  My favorite style homes out here are 2 story homes, followed by a Modified 2-level split, then the 4 level homes.  Almost always I disregared a Split-level home.  I hate the idea of having to carry my groceries up a flight of stairs.  And there are almost no ramblers because those are the most expensive to build and take the largest footprint.

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Anyway….this house has a few things going for it…first it is $299K.  Also, it has a sprinkler system, new deck, and the backyard is entirely fenced with black cyclone fencing.  It also has a 10×12 shed.  It was built in 2003 and is very well kept.  The kitchen is very nice, and the only thing we would do to the entire house is replace the formica countertops.  You can’t tell, but the countertops are edged in a bright blue stripe which isn’t very attractive.  The lower level is nice and the basement is unfinished, which would give us an additional 700-800 square feet.  We like this house a lot….it meets all our needs, feels like us, is move-in ready (complete with some really nice window coverings saving some serious bucks!).  And we’ll have lots of leftover cash to spend.

So we made an offer.  Then we just found out (about 5 minutes ago) that another couple is making an offer.  We found out where the seller wants to be, so we are taking that as the “unofficial counter” and resubmitting our offer.  Hopefully the other dingbats won’t make a full price offer.  But why does God hate Tom so much???  How, in this market, when only a half-dozen comparable homes have sold in the last 8 months, do we pick a house with multiple offers on it??

We’ll have to see what happens tonight/tomorrow morning with this house.  We aren’t going to go any higher because honestly, there are just too many good houses out there, but we like this one and the re-adjustment on our offer makes our monthly payment $60 more.  That is what – 3 dinners out?  And considering there doesn’t seem to be a single Teriyaki place in all of Dakota or Scott county, well, guess we won’t be eating out much.

So I could give you the third and fourth choices, but at this point I’m not sure they are very firm and I don’t want to jinx anything.  Instead, I will give you some observations that I’ve made in the past few days.

  • We went to Walmart.  It was wonderful.  I didn’t see a single shopper who neglected to wear a bra, came in slippers and pj pants, or was missing teeth.  In fact, the shoppers looked like us – clean, dressed, and not under the influence of last night’s binge session.
  • Food, at least the food in restaurants, is cheaper.  Tom and I went for Mexican last night and it was under $20 which included a Pina Colada for Tom.  Granted, that Mexican wasn’t very good, but it’s not the first place we’ve eaten well at that has been so economical.  We can get quite a bit of food for the two of us at Boston Market.
  • It’s cold, really cold.  That one is pretty obvious.  But unlike Seattle, people stay indoors when the weather is this cold.  Sure, they could bundle up but they appear to be smarter than that.  Or they are all in a hut on a frozen lake ice fishing, which is still weird to me.  There also doesn’t seem to be many gyms – I’ve only seen one LA Fitness.  I might like these people – lots of good, cheap food and minimal exercise.
  • These people are real boozers.  Seriously.  In Seattle, if you pass a strip mall, you can almost be certain that there is a Nail Salon and a Teriyaki place in there.  Around here, every strip mall contains a liquor store.  I guess when it’s this cold there isn’t anything to do except stay indoors and drink yourself warm.
  • We have driven around most of Dakota county and it’s just truly amazing how much open space there is when you are less than an hour from Minneapolis.  Serious farmland and land that you only see 4+ hours from Seattle.  But, the odd part was that I’ve only seen one horse facility that would probably be comparable to what I’m used to.  I may have to look to Scott county, which is to the west, but there just doesn’t seem to be much equine activity.  What little farmland western Washington does have seems to be covered in horses.

That’s about all I know for now.  Take a look at the pictures and imagine what it will be like to visit us!  I’ll send/post news as soon as I have some.

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Fashion Poll – Or – Did I do right by Stacy & Clinton?

March 3, 2008 at 9:19 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

A brief recap for those of whom I haven’t spoken to lately, and I don’t think I’ve missed anyone: We received an offer on the house last Wednesday. It was slightly below the full asking price and he wanted some help with the closing costs. We negotiated and will help him out some with the closing costs and overall are happy with the offer.

We went through with the Broker’s Open House on Thursday and Brian, our buyer, stopped by with his ex-wife and son, Tyler. He and Tom had a chance to chat and Brian seems like a nice guy. Early thirties, works at Boeing, Asian and has custody every other weekend. Brian said that at first he really thought he wanted a garage so he looked at other houses, some larger, with garages but none came close to having the quality finishes our does, much less a nice master bedroom which he really appreciated. Yeah, Baby.

Brian was going to Whistler for the weekend and we were all hoping the inspection would be clean and fast on Friday so he wouldn’t have to think about it and Tom and I could move forward with out plans. The inspection took nearly 4 hours, and in the end, the mobile printer wasn’t working so Brian didn’t get the papers until Monday. Tom talked informally with the inspector and has already taken care of the minor points, and in addition, the inspector said our garage conversion was possibly the best conversion he’s seen. Yeah us!

Hopefully the papers will be signed in a timely manner come Monday and there won’t be any big surprises. In anticipation of this all sailing smoothly through, I went to Ann Taylor Factory Store on Saturday and bought myself an interview suit. Tom came with me to offer his opinion, and while his opinion is good, valuable and probably correct, I still missed my female shopping buddies. My gals who understand that peach is this season’s new color, and yes, it is a pretty color.

The thing about shopping at the Factory store is that supply can be limited. Thankfully, I was armed with a coupon for 20% off the entire purchase so I wasn’t limited to clearance only. In the first round, the winners were a dark brown suit with a three-button blazer and a grey suit with two-button blazer. The brown suit was nice because it was dark enough to be a real neutral, but not black, which I look too pale in, power-suit mentality be damned. And the fit in both were great. I took all of Stacy and Clinton’s advice and made sure the buttons hit under the bust, that the gals were “locked and loaded” and the seams lined up correctly.

In the second round, I picked up a black/white plaid suit and a brown patterned suit. The black blazer, instead of buttons, used round balls. Kind of like what you might see on the bottom of draperies? I know, very hard to describe, but just trust me when I say the blazer was cute when buttoned up and the balls having purpose holding something together, but when the blazer was open and the ball-buttons just hanging there, it looked like a row of old-lady nipples. I sorry fragile readers, but it did, and even I was tempted to fondle them in a lewd fashion.

The other suit was actually my favorite. It was a subtle brown herringbone, very neutral, and the blazer had 3-quarter sleeves and an added band under the bust giving a really fitted illusion. It looked a lot like this style:

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Only problem was they didn’t have my size in the pants. It looked really age appropriate and sharp on me. Not too big and I didn’t look like I belonged on a school board, yet very Ally McBeal. But covering more skin.

So I went with the grey suit, which is a fine second choice. It is a wool blend but very lightweight so I think I’ll be fine so long as I can get a job before June/July. I initially tried it on with a lovely peach blouse, but Tom really felt that I should go with a power color like Red.

Now, my fashion mavens, Stacy and Clinton, firmly believe that if you are a petite person you should steer clear of the bright primary colors lest you look like a preschooler looking for a snack. After they pointed this out, I totally agreed with their point and while I still wear primary colors, I try to make sure they lean toward the cooler side. Unfortunately, the only reds that Ann Taylor seemed to have in stock were firmly in the “Fire Engine” category.

I guess you could say that Tom and I compromised….I reigned in my building hissy-fit over “Peach! It’s totally in and really pretty and does wonderful things for my complexion” and sucked it up. Compromise, it’s what make a marriage last. I/he choose this dark blue color. I like the shirt a lot because it has short sleeves, a must in my opinion for interviewing as I get nervous and sweaty. Gross, I know. Also, very fitted which I hope helps keep it tucked in. Unfortunately, the only other colors this style came in was White, Light Blue (is that powerful?) and PEACH!

**Disclaimer – I want great kudos for not only taking my own pictures using the camera timer and a tripod, but posting them for the entire world to see. I know I don’t possess American Next Top Model poses, and I didn’t know where to look, resulting in a double chin, but I swear, I understand now about unflattering angles. Some of the pictures I took, well, I certainly didn’t look like I was wearing a tiny little size, let’s just put it that way. Anyway….the pictures in all their unflattering glory.

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The second shirt option is long sleeved and a blue stripe. It’s okay. I would rather have peach. At least it’s not red. It that a ringing endorsement or what? Actually, when I put it all together, I liked it more than I thought. Also, judging from these pictures, I’m thinking I should keep the blazer buttoned up at all times. What do you think?

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So, here is where you get to give you opinion. What do you think of the shirts? Do you think I should try to brighten things up a little bit, or stay conservative? Understandably, if I get the job I could wear a peach shirt three times a week should I so choose, but I want to make the correct interview apparel decisions. Can I personalize it with some incredibly funky jewelry, like my favorite blue necklace, courtesy of Andrea? Or do you all agree that Andrea needs to churn out something totally awesome for me right quick?

Shoes. I want to wear these. These make me feel hot. They say, “I’m conservative and reliable and professional from the neck to the ankles, but then I’m sassy because I take a twist the plain black pump look.” Or maybe they just say “Cheap teenager shoes” which they completely were until the heel cap fell off on the first wearing and a trip to the shoe repair store made them mid-priced.

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If you don’t like those shoes, I could go with these. These are my only other basic black pumps. Small heel, basic leather, small, discrete embellishments. I could live if you told me that I need to wear these.

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So that’s the main look. I have these pinstripe slacks, also from AT, so I think that if I got called back I would wear this outfit. I usually wear the lavender shirt with the pants because they are navy and it makes the stripe pop. If you don’t like this shirt, I could go and purchase the white or light blue one like the dark blue above.  And no, I swear I’m not slouching, does the shirt look like I am??

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Comments welcome and appreciated. We’ll get to whether my hair says “cute and hip” or “cheap, chunky foil by talentless small-town stylist” some other day.  I need to start wearing lipstick 24/7.  I look like death warmed over.

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Oh, and I glossed over this part, but if you absolutely HATE the actual grey suit and think it’s the worst mistake since Gwyneth’s Pink Oscar dress, please tell me. I can always try to get the herringbone suit ordered.

And that concludes the debilitating trip down self-portraiture.  What I don’t do for you guys.

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