Friday, May 30, 2008


I haven't written in a week. I don't know what to write about. We haven't done much lately, as everyone has been sick, and I feel sort of all Gloom and Doom about this pending move and I'm not sure how to reconcile it. Also, I'm tired of moaning to all of you about our housing woes, but my children are bored to tears with it and I think Tim is, too, and it seems that real estate is the biggest single thing I have going on right now. So please forgive me, and/or skip this post if need be.

I've never been really sad about a move before. I've always looked at it with a sense of adventure and excitement: we'll live in a new place! We'll make new friends! We'll go to new restaurants! This time, however, is different, and I think it's mostly because of the kids (and the housing). At first I was all excited. Las Vegas! Still good weather, but a bigger city, cheaper airfares, etc.!

Then I started to realize some things. Like pre-school. The girls are both in this fabulous pre-school here that is uber-cheap, flexible, and the teachers are great. I called the school in Vegas that friends of friends recommended, and neither Kate nor Claire is currently qualified to go there. Also, it is very expensive, and not flexible. WHAT am I going to do? I must have a pre-school for them. MUST. For my sanity and theirs.

Add to this the fact that we will not be joining a traditional A-10 squadron. I don't think the squadron is traditional in any sense of the word, actually. It will be a great job for Tim, but I have a feeling the social structure is non-existent, which may be frustrating for me since I know no one there and since Tim will be gone a lot more than normal.

I think if we had a house to move in to, things would look a lot happier. We have not heard back on this latest house yet, although our offer has been in for almost 2 weeks. We are starting to see one of the major downfalls of dealing with foreclosures and short sales: you don't have a good contact to talk to or negotiate with. The banks handle everything, and since they are flooded with foreclosed homes, things take forever. For instance, remember that house we bid on the first time we went to Vegas 2 months ago? The greenbelt house? We just found out this week that we are now the only bidders on that property, and would we like to buy it? Of course, we are not so hot on it now, as we think the amount we bid is too high, and it is at the top top top of our price range. And it still needs appliances. It is pretty, and we could certainly live there, but I like the price of the new Oasis house better. I don't know how long we can stall on the greenbelt house, but we're going to push it to the limit because I also don't know how long we will have to wait to hear about the Oasis house.

We had Shayne, Reagan and Dane over for dinner last night, as they had to leave for SOS this morning and will return after we have gone to Vegas. The girls had a blast in the pool, swimming and splashing. At one point, I had to unlock the back gate for Shayne, so I left the girls in the pool alone. DO NOT freak out on me here, people. All is good. The back gate is right next to the pool fence, and Reagan had waterwings on. Kate did not, however, and thought it would be fun to swim out to Reagan at the exact moment that I was about to re-enter the pool area. Shayne and I watched in slow motion as Kate reached out to Reagan, and then realized that Reagan could not support her. I was sort of stuck in one position: not really fear; more like curiosity. I know that sounds crazy, but Kate has now had 2 years of ISR swim lessons and this type of situation is exactly why we have paid lots of money for the girls to learn to swim. Kate kept reaching for Reagan and then realization hit her that her plan wasn't working, and she flipped onto her back and floated for a few seconds. Then she flipped back over and swam to the wall. By then I was in the pool and planning my discussion about how we don't swim off the steps unless mommy or daddy is in the pool. These swim lessons have given us 2 great things: very good water survival skills for the girls, and for me, a sense of calm in the face of a pending water disaster.

Enough random complaining from me. What are you up to this weekend?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Real estate woes

Are you tired of talking about my real estate problems? Me, too. But here we are again, on the same topic. Please, let's drop the issue after this. Deal?

We now have our house up for rent here. It is still on the market for sale, but it is also listed for rent on the military real estate site. Please send your non-smoking, pet-less, responsible-childrened friends over to lease or buy it from us. On this subject, do you currently own a house that you are renting to someone? How is that working out for you? Are you using a management agency? What all do you pay for and what do the renters pay for? I have never done this and am nervous as all get out.

We do not know if we have that house in Las Vegas. As much as banks seem to be in the news for owning unwanted homes all over the nation, they sure are slow to accept or decline offers from people wanting to take over the payments. For example, we still have a bid in on that house we liked the first time we were in Vegas. That was like 2 months ago. That crazy agent even told our agent last week that we are the only ones with a valid bid in on the house, but he couldn't do anything yet because of some weirdo lame excuse that made no sense to me. WTF? Whatever. We are keeping that bid open so that we can not-so graciously decline his generous offer for us to purchase it over the asking price, when he gets around to it in November.

Tim took Claire to the doctor and then to the hospital this morning. Another fun 2+hour visit. I hate going to the pediatrician here! It takes FOREVER. But then when we put it off, the kids invariably come down with something horrible and we end up spending ungodly amounts of time in the E.R. This time, we are worried about Claire because she sounds like she has croup. According to the R.N. we saw (twice) this week, she does not. She has allergies. But I have never heard allergies that sound like this. And the mucous. You don't even want to know. So she had chest x-rays today to rule out pneumonia and any other horrible illness like that, and they came back fine, so....back to the humidifier and benadryl.

I called Claire's swim teacher this morning to let her know we wouldn't be at lessons, and she told me not to worry because she was cancelling lessons due to weather. Her pool was too cold. It is late May and today it didn't top 72*. There was a winter-storm watch for much of northern Arizona.

On the topic of weather, I found this humorous: I received a packet of purple and gold viola seeds today from the UW alumni foundation. From the directions on the back:

"Keep soil moist during those three hot days in August (applies to Western Washington residents only). The flower will often reseed and spread like Husky Fever throughout your garden."

From better days:

Claire enjoys her meal at Blueberry Hill.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Vegas, take 2, and other sources of anxiety

Well boy howdy, it's been ages since I've posted. Ages. It's probably the depression kicking in. Or the fact that we just haven't been home.

We drove to Las Vegas last week to do more house-hunting. Our hopes were high: there were 2 strong contenders leading the way (the fixer-upper disappeared before we even left Tucson) and we knew we could live in either one.

The drive up was surprisingly good. I highly recommend a DVD player and lots of Dora videos if traveling with toddlers.

On Wednesday morning, we dropped the kids off at the CDC. They hated it, and we hated leaving them there, but there was no way they were going to be able to keep pace with the number of houses we needed to see. We saw the 2 houses we liked, and had several discussions about which one we liked best.

Me: I like the Alamo house best. Great view, good neighborhood, good layout.
Tim: I think I like the Jake house better.
Me: Oh. So the Alamo house, then?

We saw several other houses that day, just to cover our bases. We arrived back at the CDC, happy to see the girls and ready to go play at the park before dinner. All was going so well.

That night, I popped into the computer lab to check if new houses had been listed. Funny, neither the Alamo house nor the Jake house appeared on my map. Slight panic. Search again. Major panic. GONE. Both houses gone. Also gone was our distant 3rd choice for the day. I began to feel queasy.

A quick call to Joe, our agent, the next morning:

Me: Joe, I feel ill.
Joe: Literally? Or figuratively?
Me: Both, I think. All the houses we liked yesterday are gone.
Joe: NO. WAY.

Back to the CDC, back to look at all the crap houses left on the market. Depression. Anxiety. Fear that we will have to live in base housing, or (GAH) stay in the TLF until we find something in like October. We saw nothing that we liked that day. It was the worst day. I think I cried. And then Claire pooped in the tub and I lost it in fits of hysterical giggles.

Friday was a better day, mostly because we found One Last House that looked good. Actually 2 houses, but one was a huge compromise (3 bedrooms and no pool. I know, what are we thinking?). We hurry up called the agent. No answer. Called the agent again 3 hours later. No answer. In the mean time, we saw more houses that would do if (sigh) we had to live in them, but they were by no means at the top of our list. Then, genius: Joe called the office of the agent one last time. He got a girl on the phone who was from Long Island. He's from Brooklyn. They clicked. She said maybe there was another agent working on that house, too, and voila, information! Just like we figured: there were 2 other bids in on the house already, but they were substantially below list, so if the bank declines them, we might get lucky. So that brings us to today: waiting to see what happens with that house. Hoping that the bank declines the other offers and then accepts ours. I'll let you know when I find out. Until then, I will not post pictures due to a strong superstition that it will jinx us.

Also: no takers yet on our house here. We had a couple more people through, but no offers. Real estate stinks.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

House update #428

Helloooo! I'm back. So sorry to all who were worried about me; Tim's parents left last Wednesday, and my father arrived on Friday. Then it was Tempie's first birthday party, family meals, house stuff, more house stuff, and then both the girls and I got a tich of the stomach flu. Awesome.

But things seem to be looking up for now, and I'm even done washing laundry, which is saying a lot when you have 2 kids barfing.

We are planning our second and final house-hunting trip to Vegas next week. We are driving. With the girls. Please pray for us. I have secured 6.5 hours a day (the maximum allowed) at the CDC on base so we can look at homes without me having to compete with anyone when I throw a crying fit, and we plan to buy a house No Matter What this time. Because really, we leave here (as in PCS) in 5.5 weeks, and man are those days going by fast. Also, I would really like a house to live in when we get there. This trip could be challenging. I'm very picky; you would think we were buying our dream house, when in reality we will probably only live in it for 3 years. (But! It will be 3 years with 2 toddlers! You can certainly see why I am being picky.)

Everyday I frantically search the internet for new homes on the market. And almost everyday I am rewarded. It is amazing how a down market can help one in their house-hunting experience. It is also amazingly sucky how painful a down market can be when one is trying to sell their very first, and very cute, home. Would you like to buy it? It's for sale. Ahem, back on subject...

The house we bid on the last time we were there (6 weeks ago) is back on the market. I do love the house (have I mentioned that before?), and so we put the paperwork in again. Our agent called and called the selling agent, and finally got through to him. It seems the financing fell through on the offer that the bank accepted. The reason the financing fell through is that it was FHA financing, which is really strict. The house has to be move-in ready, which this house was not (no appliances, speakers missing from the family room ceiling), and although the bank tried to work it out with the buyers, for some reason it did not meet FHA standards and that was that. So there are other bids on the house that are higher than ours (according to Paul the wonder agent) and he keeps asking our agent, Joe, if we would like to increase our bid. No we would not, thank you for asking. But get this: the other bids are also FHA loans. If I was the bank, I would probably just want to cut my losses and go with the strong financing, especially considering they will have to spend about $10K on appliances if they go with the FHA people again. You? Anyone? I have a feeling Paul is not being upfront with his client the bank. Or else the bank is full of crazies, which is always possible.

Long story, huh? Glad you're still reading? Okay, so Joe was awesome and took pictures of the 3 other houses we think we might like. Of course, it is so hard to tell layout and Feeling from pictures, but we think any of them might work. I'm trying not to obsess about it in the meantime, but hello! How can you not? One of the houses (Alamo) has a view of the strip from the master bedroom (okay, downtown is like 10 miles away, but with all that neon, I bet you can see it just fine at night), and the kitchen appears gorgeous. But I fear the pool takes up the whole backyard. The second house (Jake) is slightly bigger and has a bigger yard. But the kitchen looks small and the layout of the family room seems weird to me. The last house falls into the 'green pool, trashed foreclosure' category, and has a price to match. It has no kitchen. They took everything, even the cabinets. But it sits on half an acre (!) and is in a very nice neighborhood. Now I'll post photos, because I know that's why you're really still here.

Behold, the Alamo house:

Can you hear the angels singing?

View of the strip. I can see it even if you can't.

The Jake house:

Please tell me there is more counter-space there than it looks like.
Picture taken from an area that is supposed to be the dining room? Office space? I can't figure out what would go there.

And the fixer-upper (be prepared, people):

Family room, I presume.

I told you so.

Half an acre! Seriously, that is just pure craziness, especially considering the price of the house is $25K cheaper than the above two. Of course, there is no kitchen...

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Claire woke up this morning at 6am, crying. I rolled over, trying to go back to sleep. Then I heard her singing her lullaby as she tried to put herself back to sleep. It was absolutely adorable, even at 6am. Na na na, na na naaa... Then I tried locking us and the cat in the den so I could get some important stuff (blogging) done, and she meowed so loudly at the cat that Kate is now awake. So much for a free morning.

Yesterday's swim lessons went fairly well. Kate swam with clothes on as part of her final few sessions. Claire still cries like crazy, but her skills are getting better every day. Video to come later.

Max stands by as Kate starts the prop.

Kate and Max enjoy a snack of plastic fries before lessons.

Claire learns to float on her back.