Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Need for New "Stuff"

Isn't it funny how you get a bigger place to store all the stuff that had outgrown the old house, but then you find you need more stuff for the new house? I have seen people who buy or build new houses and then go into much more debt buying all new furniture and decor. My contractor even told us a story of how one couple stiffed him out of the last $17k they owed him cause they got the money and spent it on furniture and decorating instead of paying him. Well, now I finally understand the urge.

Not that we haven't paid off our contractor, because we have...or at least most of it till he finishes the rest of the punch list items. But there's nothing like a new house to show you just how old and ratty that sofa know...the one that seems like you just bought it yesterday, but when you start counting you realize it's over 10 years old. Or what about the console TV that you bought second hand back in 1986 (yes '86!) that won't really work with the satellite you have now? Let's not even talk about the totally cool granite countertops with no barstools or the 2.5 acre yard with the continually breaking push mower! When the grass finally does grow, it's gonna get interesting!

Anyway, I do now totally understand the need/want/desires/whatever. I know when people come over I will be continually apologizing for my lack of new stuff, but with the economy the way it is, I'm a little nervous about the house payment itself, much less the idea of going into debt further for "stuff." Now that I've been living here a month, I have a long list of things we need to buy: a new TV and stand, a desk and office chair for me, a bed and new dresser for our room, barstools, clocks, other wall decor, the patio and basement pads, towel and toilet paper holders, lawn tractor, just to name a few. But I am very happy to be here and very happy to have come in pretty much on budget. The other stuff can wait if needed. In fact, to be honest, I've had no time for shopping and when I have had time, I've not found the things I wanted.

A friend at work told me last week that now that I have the house I can take the rest of my life to decorate it, and she's right. That is, providing it doesn't take the rest of my life to push mow the yard.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


We have been still working on B's discipline lately, along with trying to get the house finished up. I have not had a chance to pack much from the apartment, but then again, there isn't much that I unpacked. I am taking a day off work tomorrow to do some of that, and also to just try to catch my breath after a whirlwind couple of weeks before the whirlwind weekend.

Braxton has still had some red days lately, but as he said the other day, "At least my folder's colorful!"

Going to watch the last presidential debate now. The last one almost put me to sleep, so if it isn't a good debate, it will at least cure some of my insomnia!

Friday, October 3, 2008


Lately, I've been working hard on keeping the house blog updated, so I haven't been spending as much time here. But after the house is done, I really need to think about what I'll do with this blog. I guess it can still remain just a place for my random musings.

Philip suggested that I use it as a way to update my friends on my son's discipline status at school, which has kind of become a running joke (or it would be if it weren't so darn sad). You see, he gets in trouble daily, but instead of the same old talking, talking, talking, he has found all new and creative ways to break the rules. Last month, in addition to talking in line, talking in class, talking in the hallways, etc., he also got in trouble for all of the following reasons: swinging around the poles, not paying attention in class, playing in the bathrooms, climbing the walls in the bathroom (twice), chasing another student around, picking up another student, and peeking into the girls' bathroom. I might have missed one or two, but I think that pretty much covers September. Who knows what October will bring? Today he was in trouble for lying to the teacher about having to go to the bathroom and playing instead.

We have had several meltdowns this week because of the "no TV if you're bad at school" rule. We've had that rule for the last month, but this week Ironman came out, and we bought it. So here it sets, unopened, just waiting for Braxton to have a green day at school to be able to watch it. He knows the deal, but somehow that just doesn't help him control those impulses at school.

All that said, he is generally a good kid...very smart and incredibly funny. Most of what he does is to be funny, and often it is. I think his teacher likes him, too, which is definitely needed to be able to deal with him, but when he's dealing with 23 kindergarteners, I know he has no time for B's general horsing around.

So, in between house postings, I'll keep you updated on B's school behavior. Hopefully, one day I'll have more important things to ramble on and on about! :-)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Discipline & My Son

I hate to admit defeat, and I'm not quite there yet, but I just don't know what else I can do with my son to make him listen. Here it is, approx. 9:30 on a Sunday morning, and I've already had to spank him. There is just nothing that he respects...spanking, talking, time out, losing privileges, nothing! He will purposely defy me and laugh until I get the belt and start walking towards him, and then he screams to the top of his lungs...bloody murder. Who knows what the neighbors think here in this apartment???

Those of you who know me have heard the stories, and they aren't exaggerated, I'll assure you of that. I've never really thought I couldn't handle it, but the last few weeks of being in this apartment and his getting into trouble at school and seeming irreverant about it have made me wonder. He is difficult and strong willed, and I really don't think he's ADD or ADHD. I'm just at a loss for what to do.

I guess my only hope is that once school becomes more routine and we get moved for the last time into our house, he should settle down. If not, I'm calling Super Nanny.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Biltmore's Flower Carpet

We went to Biltmore Estate over the Labor Day weekend to see the flower carpet display, and it was truly incredible. It's amazing what you can do with 144,000 plants. It was very beautiful.

I think my favorite part about Biltmore, even more so than the winery, is the walled garden. The house is just too awful big and excessive, but the garden just doesn't seem that out of reach to me. My grandmother used to have a flower garden with a rock wall and brick-lined paths through the beds. She used to have lots of rose bushes and a cement fish pond in the center. I remember sometimes people would stop at her house and ask if they could see the flower garden, which she was always more than happy to show off. Basically what she had was a (very much so) scaled-down version of the Biltmore formal gardens. I really loved that.

My landscaping tendencies in the past have been to buy the plant and then figure out where to dig the hole. However, I think I would like to do something more formal with my new blank slate of a yard, something more like my grandmother had with her rose garden. I hope my husband doesn't read this anytime soon; I'll have to break this news to him very gently as he's my hole digger! LOL.

My problem is that I have absolutely no eye for design. I really don't know how to get started laying out a formal garden. I have looked at some landscape design software, but the good stuff is fairly expensive, and most of it gets marginal reviews at best. I'll have to ponder this for a while and maybe get out my pencils and paper and see what I can draw up. If you have any suggestions for me, let me know. I'm really anxious to plant something, but I also really want to plan this out carefully. Unfortunately, I didn't inherit much of my grandmother's artistic talent, so I'll need all the help I can get. Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Once you go club, you'll never go back!

That's how I feel after attending the Panthers game tonight. We lucked into some tickets at the last minute, and they were club seats. The club level, aside from just being good seats, has a whole array of amenities that "regular" ticket holders cannot access, like sushi in the little markets, access to game side restaurants, plenty of available seating in the air conditioning, and just plenty of people being nice to you and offering to help in any way. Wow!

While much of that stuff we didn't use, just walking through the carpeted and much less-crowded hallways instead of being herded like cattle through the concrete walkways was enough to make it worthwhile. Oh, and the extra 2 inches in the chairs was a comfy surprise. Throw in clean restrooms and free parking, and you've got a convert! Not that I could have afforded these seats on my own. These were $150 seats, times 4. Yeah, wow again.

We have attended once in the lower section (the excitement of that was quelled by the 20 degree weather that night), but since then, the only tix we've been able to buy have been in the upper section, usually as close to the back of the stadium as possible. One time we sat in the next to the last row, and paid well over $100 for the privilege, to be sure. The last time we did that, we realized that it just wasn't worth the expense to sit that far removed from the field. Why pay that much when you have a much better view on TV? So we haven't been back in the last couple of years.

Of course, sitting in the club section, you also get a sneak peek into the luxury suites. That's my next goal, finding someone to invite me to a fully catered luxury suite with the comfy leather arm chairs with an awesome view of the field. That'll never probably happen, but I just won't be going back to the nosebleed section; that's for sure. LOL!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Apartment Living at its Finest?

We moved into The Legends apartment complex which bills itself as "luxury apartment living." Well, somehow, I don't quite feel like I'm living in the lap of luxury. Maybe it's all the boxes that I'm refusing to unpack that are stacked up everywhere. But it could also be the dated cabinets and rustic stove and dishwasher. Or, perhaps it could be the nice family upstairs who seems to be constantly doing laundry and their kids who like to run laps around 11 p.m. at night. And let's not even think about how much I'm paying to live here. That's probably my real issue. I really do wonder who chooses to live here and pay this amount versus buying a house. My house was like $500 cheaper than this apartment.

It also could be that I have stuff strewn all over the county. We have our tools at one person's house, outdoor stuff at mom's, indoor stuff in storage, and even stuff stored in the new basement. Philip was wondering the other day how and where all this crap will go in the new house. LOL.

Okay, enough rambling for now. Off to lunch and Target to look for Tug a backpack. (That's his new thing. I got to calling him B, and he informed me that he already had a nickname, Tug, and I should use that.)

We finally closed!

I was reading my last posting and had commented that we were hopefully on track to close on the 30th. Well....we didn't close on the 30th. We didn't close the next Wednesday either. We finally signed the papers on August 8, yes, 10 days late.

I think I mentioned earlier that the buyers were getting some kind of grant to help with their downpayment, or a 100% loan, or something of the sort. So their loan was held up with whatever governmental agency that was. Everyone seemed shocked that in this mortgage and foreclosure crisis, a governmental agency would take extra time. It was as if I was the only one who expected this. Those of you who know me and heard the stories first hand, remember the last minute septic inspection and the water test? Those results weren't in until the Friday before closing. Who in their right mind thought that any government agency could process a loan in two days? Anyway, it's finally over and that chapter of my saga is over. Wahoo!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

House selling update

We're still charging full steam ahead as if everything is on track to close on the sale of the house next Wednesday. I think we're still waiting for the full results of the water tests, but we should have that in a day or so.

We have, thankfully, found a place to live in the interim. So as you can imagine, I'm living in a sea of boxes. I've packed so much already, but I still feel as if there is just too much more to do. I also am pretty sure we don't have enough moving help, but we will certainly have truck power. We will have three pickups and one trailer, along with a moving truck. Goodness knows that should help. Wish us luck! Will post again as soon as I have some free time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Buying/Selling Game

I've always hated buying a car. Just the whole process of game playing makes me feel dirty. Well, apparently buying/selling a house is about as nasty, just much more protracted. In selling our house we've tried to price it appropriately, knowing that it needs some little things done here and there. And we've been as honest as possible about the issues and what we will or won't fix. And I think our agent has done the same and been pretty straightforward. However, the buyers' agent apparently likes the game playing. Every little thing is potentially a "deal breaker" as she tries to bluff us into stuff. And she's not on the top of her game, apparently, as evidenced by the number of calls we have gotten needing to check this, or inspect that, or get one more thing for their lender. We're way past the deadline now for repair requests, but we're still having inspections and water tests done.

I guess she's finding, though, that with no place to live lined up yet, we're ready to call her bluff. If they walk away now, they stand to lose well over $1000 in inspections and appraisals, and we won't have to hurry and find a place to live. A "deal breaker" might be welcome right now.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Soon to be homeless???

I've been too busy to post much lately because we sold the house as soon as it went on the market. Then we were in stand-still mode while we waited for the buyers to get the appraisal and inspections done. Now it looks like we're in the home stretch to be out by July 30....only the new house won't be ready for another 4-8 weeks. So now what do I do?

I've tried asking about extended stay rates at local hotels, but they are outrageous--more than my soon to be new mortgage payment! And I've only found one place that will rent to me for less than 7-9 months. So that may be what we have to do. We don't really have family we can barge in on for over a month. I jokingly say I should rent or buy an rv, but that might not be a bad option right now. If it weren't for the constant storms we've been having lately, that might work out well. LOL

If anyone knows of an empty house needing an occupant for 4-8 weeks, let me know.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Letter from the President!

Okay, so several months back, Anna decided she wanted to write to the President and tell him how much she liked him. Seeing as how this is the President I love to hate, I had a hard time with that, but like any good Mommy, I encouraged her anyway. So she drew President Bush a couple really nice pictures and sent him a note telling him how difficult it must be to be President with all the hard decisions he had to make and, by the way, when would there be a woman president. (You go, girl! She's my baby!)

So since then, I've had to often explain to her just how much mail the President gets and how he probably will answer her letter, but it might take a good while. So, finally, Saturday, the wait was over. We go check the mail to find a nice little package from the White House. Anna was sooooooo excited. She read her letter grinning from ear to ear. And while her letter didn't tackle the woman president question, it did reference making tough decisions, so it actually seems to be a good fit for what is most likely a form letter.

But here's the kicker: with the letter came a lovely 8x10 of President Bush and a nice 8x10 of the White House dog, Barney. Anna wants to frame them all. Now I can handle framing the letter and the photo of Barney, but a framed photo of President Bush cannot reside upon my walls. I'll have to figure a way out of this. Any suggestions? I'm thinking of finding a tri-fold frame where I can just fold Bush shut when I don't want to see him. LOL! But isn't Barney just adorable?

I know, I know, that's really mean. I'm sure I'll let her frame him if that's what she wants. Again, I let her write to him after all. I just can't wait till we have President Obama or President Clinton (although a woman president is looking more and more unlikely) so we can write again and get a better letter! Ha!

Too Busy

Well, obviously, I've been too busy lately to post much here. I have barely managed to keep the house blog up to date. Remember the days of posting a new pic of nothing every day? Well, that's over, partly because gas costs $4 a gallon and partly because every waking moment and some sleeping ones are spent getting this house in shape to sell. And of course, we're pushing that to the last possible moment. I might be in real trouble if it doesn't sell quickly.

Anyway, since that last pic was posted, Philip shaved off all his hair, and we have not had any sort of family time since. The kids have gotten to go swimming a lot lately, only cause we're terribly busy pressure washing and painting the pool fence. They have been really good with little attention from us. I feel bad to keep harping on them for things, but it's only for a limited time, right?

Anyway, we've still got a long list of house projects to accomplish, but only about a week left to do them. This house will go on the market within two weeks either all gussey'd up or as is....I don't care at this point. I know one thing for sure: when July 8 rolls around (hopefully when we're headed to the beach), we will be more than ready for a vacation.

This week is hell week too, difficult for finishing those two hundred house projects still left to do. I painted around hair appointments today. Tuesday we have a ball game AND the Girl Scout end of year picnic (at the same time, of course). Wednesday I guess I'm painting all evening. Thursday is B's preschool graduation. And Friday we have a wedding to attend. Whew! Then Philip works late on Saturday, so it's another day of painting or yard work by myself with the kiddos.

Well, didn't mean to whine here. I'll try to avoid that in the future. I meant to talk about Anna's letter from the President, but that will have to wait for tomorrow.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Biltmore was lovely, and life has been a blur ever since...

Wow, sorry for the delay in posting, but after the fun day at Biltmore, I haven't stopped moving since. It's been ball games/practices, dance, doctors and dentist appointments every day. Add to that an incredible stack of grading and meeting with endless real estate agents, and you can only imagine the insanity!

The house is coming along well, finally. The framing has begun. Check out the progress on my house blog (see the links). But because of that, we have kicked the packing and repairing into full swing. I'm a little disappointed at what all of the real estate agents have had to say so far about the value of our house. Don't get me wrong; we will make money, but so far they all have pretty much valued the house below tax value. Can you say housing slump? I heard somewhere the other day that values have doubled in the last 10 years....well, we've had our house for 10 years, and we're only looking at about a 35-36% increase.

Oh well, the excitement of building the new house will probably mitigate most of the disappointment. I am kicking myself for not adding that second bathroom way back when. Whoever buys my house will be getting one hell of a deal if you ask me. It's in a nice, quiet neighborhood with plenty of trees, over an acre of land, well landscaped, with two porches and a deck overlooking an inground pool. There's also a finished den downstairs with gas logs, plumbing for the second bathroom, two paved driveways, a detached two-car garage and separate shed. And many of the fixtures, etc., have been updated. The roof is not too old, and the heat pump, well pump, etc., are all relatively new. All that for under $130K? I'm sure I'll love the new house, but looking at that list reminds me that there's a lot here to miss.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Biltmore in the Springtime

Okay, so I haven't really gotten to that grading yet. I posted another house update on my house blog, and then I thought that I wanted to come back here and post about Biltmore. See how that procrastination is in full swing?

Anyway, when we went to Biltmore Estate a couple weeks back, we upgraded our passes, and I really, really, really want to see the tulips blooming in the gardens. We also spent way too much time in the house last time being herded through like cattle and not nearly enough time on the grounds and the winery. We never got down to the lake or to the farm last time.

So, I talked Philip into going again tomorrow. This time we're skipping the house and starting with the gardens. I want to see the tulips and maybe walk down to the lake this time. I also want to get to the winery in time to let the kids do the grape stomp at 2:00 and see the culinary demonstration at 3:00. We'll pack a picnic again and eat our PB&Js on the grounds somewhere. That was fun last time (and saved us a ton of money). Now if I can only keep from spending $50 in the wine shop again.....

Too Much To Do

I always feel this way near semester's end...too much to do and too little time. How will I ever get all these papers graded? Why did I assign so much? Why do I insist upon giving essay tests?

However, in addition to my normal end of semester crunch, Braxton is now playing baseball, which occupies about 2-3 evenings a week; we are building a house; and we should be trying to pack up everything we own so this house is more presentable to sell. In addition to that, I need to have a yard sale to get rid of mucho crap, and I need to be interviewing real estate agents because our house should already be on the market. OMG!!!

As usual, when I get into this shape, what do I do??? I procrastinate. I find any and everything possible to avoid grading, cleaning, packing, etc. So I have spent much of today online but not grading. Heck, I've even washed dishes three times today to avoid grading. And now I'm finding that blogging is another really good procrastination tool.

Okay, I'm done now. I'm really going to get off here and grade something. I just wanted to post an update since I haven't in over a week. Oh yeah, and Mac seems to be doing well after this last surgery; he had the last pain pill the other day and his last antibiotic today. He's supposed to get his stitches out Monday or Tuesday....I'm thinking about taking the cone off his head tonight or tomorrow. I'm sure he's healed enough. He's better enough to get into some kind of trouble outside the other day and get his back scratched up. WTH?

Okay, now I'm really done. Seriously this time. I'm going to grade. For real. Here I go...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Mackie Doodle

Mac is doing pretty well after his surgery. We brought him home on Friday, and I could tell he felt miserable. I also think the time in solitary confinement at the vet's just kills him. He had somehow bruised his eye so that the white part is all bloodied, and he has a scab on his nose as well. And I'm guessing all that is from the cage he was in? Who knows? The vet seems to think he bruised his eye while waking up from the anesthesia, but it is getting better.

He looks so pitiful with his e-collar on, but I don't want him scratching or licking his stitches. He's also getting better about walking around with it. He doesn't run into as many things this time around. But it sure hurts when he runs into me!

We still have him on the special food, and he now has a supplement to take to help his body flush out the calcium. Medicine time is fun with the supplement, eye drops, antibiotic, and pain I'm also changing him over to bottled water in case our mineral-rich well water has something to do with the problem. It makes sense that it would, and bottled water is cheaper and easier on him than these repeated surgeries! Wish us luck!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Various thought and ramblings

I decided while writing my house blog that I really wanted a place to vent---er, comment about all types of other things going on in my life, besides just the construction. So here it is. This is a scary thought, the inner workings of my mind unleashed on the world. Can you handle it?