Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanking God for road blocks

Hubs and I married in April of 2004, and to say our life has been a whirlwind would be an understatement. I've always thrived in a chaotic, stress-filled life. Growing up, I was involved in as many extracurricular activities I could pack into a 7-day week. In college, I took as many hours as possible, while working at a local jewelry store and doing other random stuff like coaching a girls soccer team or singing for a local church in a quartet.

When Hubs and I started dating, I could see our life plans falling into place. We'd chat about life and love, and I knew happily ever after would be a breeze with him. The Monday after Father's Day, I awoke to the worst stomach pains of my life (no, this is not an "I didn't know I was pregnant" story, I promise). After being admitted to the hospital and running some tests, an emergency appendectomy was in order. Hubs rushed into town to be with me during my recovery.

He apparently was also asking Papa (then, just my dad), for my hand in marriage. A few days later, while still under the haze of pain killers, on one knee by my make-shift bed in the playroom of my parents' house, Hubs asked me to marry him. I had never really picture what my proposal would look like, but THIS for sure wasn't it!

We make plans, God laughs.

The following week, Hubs went back to work in his sales territory. We knew his company was making cuts, but figured he was safe. I mean, a company who makes its money on sales HAS to keep its salesmen, right? Wrong. Not even a week after I said YES, Hubs found out that managers were being moved down to sales, and the sales guys were out. Now wedding planning was put on the back burner as we took a deep breath and prayed for something to work out. I had no idea we'd be looking at in sickness and in health, good times and bad, richness and poor all in the same week (and 9 long months before we even made it to the alter!).

We make plans, God laughs.

Hubs found a good job and started the day of our engagement party. A few months later, we married in a beautiful ceremony, surrounded by family and friends. We spent our wedding night at the Four Seasons and flew to Mexico for our relaxing honeymoon. We arrived at our all inclusive resort and settled quickly in to our sun and fun routine. The second night, while enjoying a Japanese influenced dinner, Hubs had a few sushi rolls. Hubs then spent the following four nights romantically hugging the toilet in our room, while I sat in the in-room jacuzzi watching the Simpson's en espanol to drown out the sounds of Hubs' vomiting while pondering if I was going to have to take him to a Mexican hospital while fearfully envisioning him dying on our honeymoon. I had never really pictured what our honeymoon would look like, but THIS for sure wasn't it!

We make plans, God laughs.

A few days stateside, Hubs was 20 lbs lighter, but feeling better. We started our new life in a new town and started making plans for the future. I was dragging my feet looking for a job, hoping Hubs would be promoted to open his own office in a different location. We enjoyed being newlywed, going to dinner whenever we pleased, visiting friends and family and decorating our tiny house. While making plans for the future, we decided a tour of Europe was in order (especially considering I got slighted on the whole honeymoon thing), and we made the bold statement that we wouldn't have kids until we'd done Europe together. What came next? Two pink lines (well, actually 10 pink lines. I was convinced I was getting false positives).

We make plans, God laughs.

We welcomed Strip into the world in May (13 months after we got married, for those trying to do the math). I was feeling my way through being a new mom, and we were still waiting for that promotion. Hubs finally had enough and started looking for other jobs. He gave himself the deadline, saying if he had not found a new, good job by x, he was just going to quit and we'd move back to his hometown where he could farm with his dad. I've never prayed so hard in my life! I was standing in a Babies R Us bathroom, changing diapers with Alaska buddy when I got the call that Hubs got THE job, and we were heading to south Florida.

After suffering from sticker shock while house hunting, we found a place to call home and began feeling our way through our new normal as a family of three in SWFL. We celebrated Strip's first birthday and planned our first trip to Disney World. The discussion of kid number 2 came up and we starting thinking about expanding our family. Apparently, that's all we have to do, because we were soon staring at two pink lines, again (actually this time, it was four pink lines and the digital read out saying "Pregnant"). I had JUST accepted a job. We were just getting things settled.

We make plans, God laughs.

A long, vomiting 36 weeks later, Nugget arrived. This c-section was going to be different. I requested a mirror so I could watch and eagerly anticipated going to recovery with my tiny baby boy. After a quick hello over the blue drape, Nugget was taken into another room and we waited. And waited. And waited. He was not breathing well, so instead of wheeling us to recovery together, he was whisked up to the NICU and I was taken up to my room without my baby.

At this point, I've gotten the gist. I'm not making plans.

We busted Nugget out of the NICU a few days later, and thankfully, he's been fine, overcompensating for his quiet, still start in life by never stopping! Shortly after his first birthday, we got the news that we were moving up to corporate. And even thought I KNOW I said I wasn't making plans, this was something I had been envisioning since Hubs took the job. We found our house, our church, Costco, Trader Joes, friends and friends who were more like family. I slowly started to let my guard down. We were nearing the two-year mark on living there.

We started planning.

Planning for our future there. Planning on how Nugget would be riding the bus in a few years. Planning Strip's first performance in the Nutcracker next December. Planing for winters to come by buying winter coats a little on the big side. Planning for that European vacation. Planning on how we'd re-do the kitchen. Planning.

So it really should have come as no surprise when we had to put our house on the market almost two years to the day that we closed on it. I put on my brave face for the kids, focused on all of the positives for us, our family, our life.

But I was mad. Sad. Bitter. As my mother would say, I had my butt on my shoulders. We had it all planned out! WHY are we having to do this AGAIN. I once thrived in chaos and commotion, but I have kids. I wanted stability. For once, I wanted to do something to our current home, not impulse buy another one.

As the shock wore off, I've started to look forward to this move. This was going to be good. This was going to be good for HUbs and I as a couple and good for the kids. We spent last weekend with Hubs' brother and sisters and all the baby cousins. I smiled thinking about how many memories the kids would now have with their cousins instead of the few scattered memories mixed in with holiday travel.

We took a road trip to our Next Stop so the kids could see their schools and the new house. We were on our way back and were in the middle of nowhere. We were stopped at a light, and I was fixated on the car next to us. It had broken down and was on the shoulder. Two t-tiny dogs were playing next to the car and a tow truck was preparing to load it onto the large bed. I caught the light change out of the corner of my eye along with the steady crawl of a Mac truck pulling through the intersection in front of us, and continued to watch the puppies hoping they wouldn't run out in the road and debating whether to roll down my window and tell the lady sitting in the passenger side to put down her cigarette and pick up the dogs.

That's when I heard the crunch.

We looked around and noticed the blazer on our left was now scooted into the intersection and an older gentleman driving a sedan had plowed into the back of him. And I mean PLOWED. No breaks squealing, no swerving, just full speed impact. We made sure the man was ok, and the tow truck quickly went to work clearing the cars. We continued on our way. About two hours later, my neck was still hurting just thinking about the wreck when it hit me.

Thank God for the blazer.

Had that Blazer not been waiting at the light, that older man would have continued into the intersection at full speed, hitting the mac truck, head on, more that likely killing him instantly. And while I'm sure the driver of the Blazer wasn't thinking he was at the right place at the right time, I'm glad he was. Thank God for that road block.

And that got me thinking. The road my life, our lives, have taken has not been without it's own roadblocks. Illness, job loss, unexpected children, moves. All things we didn't plan on, but hit head on. And while I'm still not doing cartwheels about this change in our life, I'm trying to have a new appreciation for it. What would we miss if this didn't happen? What will we experience in the coming years? What new joys will we encounter?

When we head back home, we'll be embracing these last few days. Our good-byes will not be without tears, and it will not be easy to follow that giant truck. But as we thank God for our road blocks, I'm not planning for anything , just praying for happiness in our new normal. And while life has showed me that we make plans and God laughs, one thing I also know is that when we pray, God always answers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Super moms

Yup! This is an actual iphone case available at

One of the things I love most about being a mom is listening in on other moms' knowledge sharing. Today, I got another slice.

Three Super moms were standing around chatting about Evil School and how their precious babies are now always sick.

Mom 1: I KNOW it's the school that's making him sick. We don't go ANYWHERE!
Mom 2: You know you're right. We don't go anywhere either. It MUST be the school. All those germs!
Mom 3: Ugh. Tell me about it. We don't go anywhere either, and SuperKid has been sick twice this year.

Ok, pause. You don't go anywhere? ANYWHERE? You child has never sat in a cart at Target? Grabbed a sucker out of the sucker basket at the grocery store? Sat in a highchair at a restaurant? Set foot in a public restroom? Played at a park?

I see a problem right there.

So they continue to enthusiastically nodded at each other about how the real world is slowly killing their babies. At that very moment, SuperMom 1's kid stuck his head in a trash can. Entire head. In the can. And as if it couldn't get any better, SuperMom 2's kid picked up a random shoe and LICKED the bottom of it!

But school is totally the problem.

As a side note, when we pulled into the parking lot, Nugget unbuckled, leaned over my seat and as I turned to see what he wanted, he let loose a juicy sneeze right in my eye. Immune systems hard at work!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fun with House Hunting Day 2

Needless to say, after the first day of house hunting, I didn't sleep well. I told the realtor if it was in our price range and wasn't on fire, we'd go see it, so our day was filled with the second string (which was frightening considering what our first picks ended up looking like. Yikes.).

We got up early, and after spending the night looking at MLS pages, I was spending the morning looking at school websites. Hubs told me to hop in the shower and wandered over to see what I was looking at. When he saw the emblem for the Expensive Private School, he asked me, "Why are you doing that to yourself? You know we can't afford to send the kids there!"

And I lost it.

Well, first, I slammed down the computer and stormed off to the shower. Then I got out, started getting dressed, put on mascara and lost it. I was glad the kids weren't with us because (1) they would probably need to be vaccinated for a slew of fun diseases and (2) Momma needed to have a nervous break down.

Cue Veruca Salt's polar opposite.

Instead of the "I wannas," I let loose a string of "I don't wannas!"

I don't want to move here. I don't want to live in a house we can't afford. I don't want to live in a house we can't afford and have to do a lot of work to. I don't want to find something that will "just work" for a few years, and then deal with the stress of having to try to sell it on our own. I don't want to live in a new construction house with no yard. I don't want to pull the kids out of their schools to move here, and I don't want to uproot them again in a few years when we can afford to move to a nicer neighborhood. I'd rather live in a 600 sq foot town house, paying rent and send them to a private school just so they could have one FREAKING piece of stability in their life, something we haven't been able to give them in the past 6 years!


I reapplied the mascara and we decided just to see what happened. If we didn't find anything, we didn't find anything.

We headed to starbucks where I decided I needed a venti mocha and a preemptive Tylenol (or 2). Somehow Hubs' name = Jim. Again, way off from his actual name.

We flipped through some real estate magazines, then decided to visit the schools and preschool. A MUCH better start to the day. After lunch, we met up with Realtor, put on our happy places and set out to see what we could see. The first house was ok. Nothing spectacular, but nothing we wanted to put an offer on. On to house #2!

As soon as I saw the pictures for #2, I remembered the first time I saw it. It was the very first MLS listing Realtor sent us, but somehow it became lost in the shuffle. We pulled up to the house which was located on a cul de sac (hmmm. Cautiously checking a box!). The house is as old as the one we have now, which means lots of beautiful, mature trees (could that be another check mark?) and the outside looked great. VERY well maintained. Looking MUCH better than the day before.

We walked in, and the house was adorable! Formal dining room meaning I wouldn't have to kiss my china good-bye! Nice sized kitchen and breakfast room. Great little family room with a fireplace (yay!!). Instead of a screened in porch, this one had an actual room off of the family room, separated by french doors. Smaller than our 1100 sq foot basement, but would make a great little play room for the kids (and as I reminded Hubs, as they got older, their crap is going to get smaller. Gone are the days of giant swings, push toys, learning tables). The master bedroom was a good size, with a closet I'm sure Hubs will take over in no time, and the bathroom was great. The kids' rooms are smaller, and their shared bath is smaller, but they would work. Upstairs was a perfect room for Hubs' office. Still in the house, but above all the noise of the kids. The backyard was even bigger than the one we have now, just needed a fence. AND, we noticed that the driveway extended back beyond the garage. When Hubs walked over, he found there was a plug-in for an RV (Next year, we WILL totally be Christmas Vacation!).

Downsides? The kitchen is very outdated, but still usable. Also? The washer/dryer are in the garage. When I made an, "Ergh" face at that, Hubs said, "But really? How big a deal is it to walk out here to do laundry?" Umm for the person who is doing the majority of the laundry? Kinda a pain. BUT, I'm not walking to a laundry mat, it's not like I have to go outside, and it won't be snowing and freezing in the garage, and maybe this will just encourage us to keep the garage clean and organized.

We kept it in mind and visited a few other houses, but decided that this was the one. We decided to sleep on it and see what we wanted to do the next morning. We took my step-grandma out for dinner, then headed back to the hotel where we both slept MUCH better. We were leaving town the next day, but wanted to visit the school the house was zoned for and go look at the house one more time. We looked again at the stats.

On the market for over a year. Last price drop was a while ago. Figuring they weren't going to get much more traffic, we were going to wait until we got back home, had all of our numbers in front of us and make an offer. We drove to Hubs' sister's house feeling pretty good. Enjoyed a delicious dinner out with her, headed back to her house, exhausted, and crashed. Saturday morning, we got up early, said our goodbyes and started driving home. About 4 hours from our house, we get a call from Realtor saying a couple was going for a second showing at "our" house.


I whipped out my phone and found where the nearest Kinkos was, ready to fax over an offer. We were able to submit a verbal offer to hold them off, but still raced to Hubs' office to fax over our real offer. We breathed a giant sigh of relief knowing we'd just have to watch the clock until 6 pm Sunday. Now it was just a question of how many counter offers it would take to get to an agreed amount.

Sunday morning, I got a call from Realtor. Excited, I answered the phone, pretty much expecting to hear, "Congrats! They accepted your offer!" Instead, I heard, "The other couple submitted an offer as well."

This was not good. Really?! The house has been on the market for how long? And it's kind of the ONLY one in our price range that will work for us. And of all the houses, someone else comes along and fall in love with it, too?!? ARGHHHH!!

We upped our offer and sat back, waiting for the clock to strike 6.

And oh how those minutes ticked by.

At 5:45 PM while watching Toy Story 3 with the kids, we FINALLY got the call saying we got the house.


Now we just have to figure out what to do with half of all our stuff. Craigslist, here I come!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fun with house hunting Day 1

Last week, I flew down to our soon-to-be home sweet state. I had done as much internet stalking of neighborhoods and houses as I could, and had a whopping list of 11 houses to see (and that was stretching it). There was really one house that we really liked, but i figured we throw in a few others.

Hubs picked me up from the airport and asked if I wanted to drive around a little before it got dark, and I said sure! He then told me, "'Your' house in under contract."

Crapper. That's the pool house. Now what are we going to do?! I sure hope our realtor has a few other options. We drove around a little and decided to hit a local wine bar to celebrate new beginnings.

The next morning, bright and early, we headed to the starbucks near the hotel. As we placed our order, the barista asked our names. Before I could answer, Hubs gave her our real names. As our drinks were being made (and double cupped for Hubs), I told Hubs about a little game my buddy, Iv, plays when she goes to starbucks. She gives them a TOTALLY random name and watches to see if they flinch, question or giggle at her made-up name.

"Double cup grande vanilla soy latte for 'Cuip?'"

We exchange glances, look behind us and realize that the barista had BUTCHERED Hubs' name and turned completely normal into Cuip.

Cuip and I scooted back to the hotel, met our realtor and were ready for the fun!


When we moved up here, the world was our oyster. We looked at about 38 houses in a DAY, and totally had our pick. We could say things like, "I don't really like that carpet, " or, "This lot is small," KNOWING that any house we looked at WOULD work for us, it was just a matter of IF we wanted it to work for us.


First house was in Pool House's neighborhood, and here's what it had going for it:
* End of a cul de sac
* Less than 4 numbers in the address
* Great school district
* Great curb appeal
* 4 bedrooms
* bonus room for an office

Could we find a winner on the first look?! Hubs and I stood on the front porch as Realtor got the key out of the lock box.
Man this yard is really overgrown...and the porch looks horrible. Is that post rotting....

And then the door opened. Horrible does not begin to describe the state this house was in. After carefully entering bedroom number 2 (while thanking God I had the smarts to toss TWO things of hand sanitizer in my bag), I looked at Realtor and asked

Me: So this one is a short sale?
R: (looking at the mls sheet) Ummm. Nope.
Me: and what's the list price on this one?
R: $70,000 more than the lovely home you now reside in (ok she really just gave me the number).
Me: Yikes.
R:Yeah and it has it's original roof and a/c units.
Me: So we're looking at another $20,000 on top of that?
R: Pretty much.
Me: Good gravy. It's nice to know you can let your house go to crap and still ask a ton for it.
R: Yeah, I had a guy, from your state actually, come down a while ago to look at houses. After looking around, he decided not to take the job. Hahaha!
Me: Yeah, we don't have that option. Let's move on!

Next stop was the pool house, and the owners were home. And it's a short sale. We went to see it both to put it out of my mind and to see it in case the offer fell through. It was lovely and exactly what we needed in a house, but we moved on because we couldn't wait around on a short sale even if there wasn't an offer on the table.

I should also add at this point, the 11 houses we were going to look at? 4 had offers and one was pulled from the market. So we're down to 7. Minus the pool house offer, 6.

They got progressively worse.

We saw the Jetson's house (super modern updated house). Unfortunately, ONLY the kitchen was updated, the house was filthy, there was an uneven roof overhang that even I would hit my head on when I walked outside on the deck, the wood floors must have been laid by a drunk, there was no light fixture in the half bath, there was a long hallway that I fully expected creepy twin girls to be standing at the end of, but instead, there was a chihuahua. No really. Renter (not owner), had her t-tiny dog chillin in a back room.

Next was a lovely home, again, with an updated kitchen. This one could have worked, but the floor plan was super weird. The backyard was awesome, but it was filled with random plants and pieces of what looked like a greenhouse. It was almost like someone who owned a nursery went out of business and said, "Crap! What am I going to do with all of this stuff?!" and his buddy said, "No problem! I'm moving! Toss it in my backyard." And while the roof was new, there was some sort of giant lime tree, literally growing into it. NEXT!

This one looked promising. Lake front view! Man cave! Fenced backyard!
Oh, MLS, how you stretch the truth. You can view the lake if your sitting on the roof, the wind blows really heard, all the trees in the lot across the street fall over and that house burns to the ground, there's the lake! Man cave (which we hoped would work for Hubs' office) was an open room three steps down and off of the kitchen. Also in the man cave? The washer dryer. Also, while not listed, it was fun to see the smallest sink EVER in what would be the kids' shared bathroom. Looks like someone got a great deal on a piece of remnant marble and just under-mounted a salad bowl. The backyard WAS fenced, so one point for that.

We saw some beautiful new construction, but they had smaller lots than we wanted.

I had a really good feeling about this one house on the east side. It had over 2.5 acres and looked really nice. Silly me! What have we learned about looks and real estate. 2.5 acres, yes. Probably infested with poison ivy and snakes. The farther back you walked, the creepier it looked. We noticed it had a shed for an rv, so that could be fun for papa and ma. Then I noticed what looked like some sort of animal grave stone peeking up from next to a large tree. Creepy. We walked into the sunroom and noticed the siding was different from the rest of the house. Realtor, who has lived in this town her entire life said, "oh! That's the siding that was involved in a class action lawsuit recently." WOW. Enough said.

The last house on our list looked a lot like our previous Florida house, but brick instead of stucco. New paint! Fire pit! Updated kitchen! The new paint? It was on the floor. Yes, the previous owners ripped up the carpet in the bedrooms and painted the cement slab. BUT, they left the carpet in the closets, so that was nice. The updated kitchen? Painted cabinets that they tried to "antique," but instead just made it look like someone swiped poop all around the edges. There was a pit in the backyard and I'm guessing you could toss a fie in it. The only good thing I could find in the house was a light fixture in the family room, and it was installed incorrectly.

The house was so bad, we had to drive around to see something, anything, just to have THAT house not be the closer of the day.

This was not going to be good.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Life's full of one-uppers

What did your pumpkin look like? Yeah. That's right. Snow White is one of FOUR that Hubs carved. Boo yow!

Tuesday, my Mommy dropped me off at the airport, and I prepared to take my flight to do a 72 hour house hunt (once again, in our house, pancake mix requires a lot of thought, but a house? Yeah we give it three days tops and just buy something. That's how we roll). I boarded my flight, and settled in for my quick trip to Atlanta where I would catch my connecting flight. I settled into my seat next to the Culligan man (for real), and got ready to people watch.

Airport security was patting people down pretty hard, so I was taking in my surroundings to see if I needed to prepare myself to kick a little booty mid-air. Everything was going well, and I noticed a well dressed woman walking past me. She noticed a buddy.

Lady 1: Oh! Look who it is!
Lady 2: Oh my! Well, what are you doing here? Oh! I should have known! You're going to...
Lady 1: France! And that's right, because you're going to...
Lady 2: Italy!
Lady 1: Right! How long are you going to be there?
Lady 2: 2 weeks, you?
Lady 1: Only 10 days.
Lady 2: Oh, I just needed that extra time.
Lady 1: Well enjoy!
Lady 2: Thanks, you too!

Water boy and I exchanged glances and giggled. I'm not sure where his final destination was, but I'm quite sure we were both one-upped.

Last Sunday was Halloween, and although my blog poll showed an overwhelming majority to the Capri-Sun/water handout (thank you! All six of you!), Hubs trumped the vote and bought candy (Almond Joys. Guess what kids don't like? Almond Joy. Guess what we have a lot of left in the candy bucket?).

So we go trick-or-treating, and we come to the other house on the north side of the 'hood that gives out beverages and guess what? All the kids squealed with delight.

Look!!! Can I drink it now?! I wanna save mine!! What flavor is it!? Help me open the straw!!

Not even the full-sized candy bar house got that kind of praise. Hubs had already headed home to set up the bon fire and big screen, so I shot my I-told-you-so dirty look to a mail box.

But guess what! Capri-sun house was one-upped.

What could one-up Capri-Sun?

It wasn't the full-sized candy bars.

Not the "take as much as you want!" house.

It started with a neighbor who had affixed a 8x11 sheet of college ruled paper to their door with the simple, scrawled message: Come next door.

As we walked next door, we noticed two adults manning a card table and small fire. The kids neared them and said their Trick-or-Treats, fishing through a bowl of candy. After they found the good stuff, the guy looked at me and said, "Would you like something?"

Me: Oh, no thank you!
Dude: Are you sure?
Me: Yeah, I'm allergic to 99% of all candy. Thanks though! Have a great night!
Dude: No! I mean something to drink!
Me: Oh I'm ok, it's kind of chilly anyway.
Dude: I know. Want a beer to warm you up?

Total one-upper.

And to that, I say, THANK YOU!