Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Rose

The rose bush that Mister C and Master J picked out for my birthday last week got a new bloom. I kept meaning to take photos of the original blooms but then I would get distracted by something shiny and forget all about it. I finally cut the dying blooms off the bush and waited for a new bud to appear. And it did.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My boy

Do you remember being a kid a laughing without worrying what anyone else would think? Without fear that you're laughing too loud? Or too goofy? Not worrying that your mouth was open and your eyes are shut? Big, uninhibited belly laughs? Kids are so unselfconscious and beautiful in their laughter. We should try to be more like them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Happy Hooligan

The Hooligan is a finicky little bugger. About half of the time he's extremely loving and won't leave someone alone, the other half he's either smacking people or acting terrified of them. I've taken his propensity for slapping people as they walk by and turned it into a "trick". I say "High Five" and he cuffs me. Makes it look like it's an interactive relationship instead of just him ruling the roost.

If Mister C is working from home, Hooligan is all over him. To the point that Mister C will bring him out and deposit him in my lap so he can get something done. But as soon as he lets go, the cat jumps down and follows him back into the office. Only when Mister C is traveling do I get the dubious honor of being the recipient of Hooligan's obsessive love.

Lately though, he's turned his incessant love towards the dog and Master J. Poor ADHD Girl has no idea what to do with him. He follows her around, winding around her legs as she's trying to walk and flinging himself against her when she stops. He rubs and head butts and everywhere she goes, he's righttighttoher. She looks completely confused and unsure of how she's supposed to act. She would love to chase him, but that's kind of hard when he's wrapped around her legs.

As for Master J, Hooligan usually sleeps with him for at least some portion of the night. And he watches tv when Master J lays on the floor. It's pretty cute actually. I tried to get a better picture and you would think with them laying there for 20 minutes I would have been able to do so. You'd be wrong. I think I had too much caffeine today because almost 100% of the pics came out just slightly blurry. This will have to do.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Everybody loves Sweet Peas!

Mamoo's friend Sha has a green thumb and grows the most amazing flowers in general. But her sweet peas are just gorgeous and so fragrant it should be criminal. I was the lucky recipient of a bouquet of them the other day and have been enjoying them ever since.

Today the Antagonizer found them. My enjoyment may be coming to an end.

Monday, April 20, 2009

How I spent my day

After dropping Master J off at school this morning, I swung by my parent's house and picked up Mamoo so we could go look at foreclosures. What? You don't take your senior citizen mother out to pick through garbage strewn houses in the ghetto? Wusses.

Actually the ones we looked at weren't too terrible. We started in their current neighborhood and then moved to their previous one and both of those are pretty nice areas full of custom homes. That doesn't mean that all of them were in perfect condition, but at least they all had most of their major systems in place and weren't filled with vermin. The pools were horrific though. I think there's some phone number I can call to report those since they probably need to be drained. As it is, they're a complete hazard. I mean one of them was so bad I couldn't see past the tile line around the top of the water. One of them did have a safety cover but the other two didn't have anything other than the fence around the property.

We worked our way towards some lower end properties where the neighborhoods were a little dicier but even then, it wasn't like I was worried something was going to happen. I more worry that I'm going to eventually run across a "drop house" where some coyote has left a bunch of illegal immigrants than anything else. And even then, the immigrants themselves wouldn't be the problem. But, I didn't run in to anything other than some bad odors and mangled drywall so I'm going to call it a productive day.

After dropping off Mamoo, I went and picked up Master J from school. He'd had a green day, the third in a row, so we got to go to Dairy Queen after swimming. Woo-Hoo! I love DQ. Not their drive thru, but that's a different story for a different day. So we enjoyed the DQ and then came home where Master J watched the three shows he's allowed to watch on days he stays on green at school. And I fell asleep on the couch. I woke up in time to feed him his last meal of the day (his 5th) and help him get ready for bed. Which is exactly where I'm heading now.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

June Cleaver? Not so much.

You know those organized moms that are ready for anything? The ones that carry in their purses band-aids, tissues, a pair of scissors, needle, thread, extra buttons, ear drops, extra clothing, rubber bands, pens for doing homework, toothbrushes, animal crackers and bottled water? I wish I knew one of those. Then I'd hang around her just for the stuff I always forget.

Master J and I dropped Mister C off at the airport today and on the way back decided we should eat at a local diner. Well, not technically "on the way back" as somehow I had managed to forget to bring shoes with me on our trip. Yeah, I admit it, I go without shoes a LOT. And I drive bare footed. So sue me. Because contrary to popular belief, there is no law in any state that prohibits this. I've checked. Because I got sick of people giving me a hard time about it. So there. Having said that, I always have a pair of tevas in my car. Not that I've ever gotten all the way to a store or something and then had to drive all the way home to get shoes so I could shop or anything. You know, just because. But 99.99% of the time, there is a pair of shoes in my car. But tonight as we were driving home, Master J asked if we could go out to eat. I thought about it for a minute (okay, a second) and decided that would be a great idea. So I asked him to be sure my shoes were in the car. And they weren't. How does that happen? So we had to drive all the way home and get a pair of shoes for me before we could appear in public. Good parenting at it's best.

On a different train of thought, Master J continues to surprise me with his quick witted-ness. After we left the restaurant we were driving home and the subject of negative numbers came up. Don't ask how because I wasn't the one that started it so I have no idea.

MJ: So the numbers would be the same, like 5,4,3,2,1,0,-1,-2,-3,-4,-5
M: Okay. So if I paid you -50 cents, how much would you get?
MJ: Nothing, I would pay you 50 cents.
M: That's right (we high five)
MJ: Hey Mom, can I give you negative $50?
Both of us: Hahahahaha!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Fun with flowers

Remember the petunias Master J got for my birthday Friday? He and I were out on the patio admiring the beautiful flowers in their pots and here's how it went...

M: So these are really beautiful petunias, I like them a lot.
MJ: Petunias?
M: Yea, that's what kind of flowers they are.
MJ: I thought they were annuals.
M: Well, they are annuals.
MJ: They are?
M: Yup. Do you know what that means?
MJ: Not really.
M: That means they need to be replaced annually, which means every year.
MJ: Then shouldn't they be called "die-ers?"
M: You're so funny.
MJ: I know.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Well, not really "fail" in the classic sense of the word. Things didn't turn out the way I was hoping, but it wasn't for lack of trying on my part.

I wrote up a contract and submitted it for my clients. Ten minutes later, I got a call from the representative at the bank saying that they had already gotten six other offers and all of them were higher than my client's. Now, we had offered above the asking price and I already knew that my clients didn't want to spend any more than that, but I called them anyway just to be sure. As I expected they didn't want to up their offer but we did decide to go back out again tomorrow and try again. I will also say that the under $150,000 market seems to be quite competitive in this corner of the world.

On another note, Mister C picked Master J up after school today and they went shopping for me. They came home with a HUGE flower pot for my patio and a gorgeous rose bush to go in it. Which Mister C planted for me. Master J also picked out some purple petunias and they put those in another flower pot we have that was empty. So now my patio is looking just a little brighter and happier. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of it while it was still light out but hopefully I'll get a chance to remedy that tomorrow.

Running behind

I've been slacking on blogging the last few days. I usually sit down and blog in the evenings since that's when I have some free time and usually something has gone on by then. But I've been working with a couple that's trying to buy a house for their daughter the last few nights and haven't been getting home until fairly late (right around 9:00). Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to be working with people at all, I just need to rework how and when I do the other things I want/need to get done. For example, cooking and cleaning.

Mister C has done more things around the house in the last week than he's probably done in the last year. Not that I mind. I kind of like that he's willing to step up to the plate, so to speak. His laundry skills are somewhat lacking though. I may have to ask Master J to give him a crash course in laundry 101. I pulled several "hand wash only" articles out of the washer yesterday before he could throw them into the dryer on super hot. He dries clothes like he cooks, hot and fast. And I can only assume he thinks that pulling all the clothes out of the dryer and stuffing them into a basket qualifies as "folding and putting away". On the bright side, Master J does have clean (albeit wrinkly) clothes to wear to school.

So hopefully, later on today, we'll be submitting the offer on the house we found yesterday and then we can sit back and wait for any results. But today I'm not working until all hours because Mister C is taking me out for dinner. I get to chose since it's my special day and I'm choosing my favorite Mexican place so there's no way I'm missing out on that.

So anyway, I'll try to be better than I have been but I may need to change my blogging time to first thing in the morning. Which would be fine, except that I don't really "do" mornings. Between forgetting everything that happened the day before and not really having enough caffeine in my system until some time in the afternoon, my posts could be a little shoddy. Guess we'll see how it goes and adjust accordingly. There, that was a big word, maybe I can stumble my way through this early morning stuff after all.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My first

Well that was anticlimactic. I had my first showing tonight. It was a little bank owned property that was listed for $139,000, but was worth about $39,000. I got to the property about 15 minutes prior to my appointment with the customers with the lock box code in hand. And promptly couldn't figure out the lock box. Nice. There were two boxes for the house, one that had numbers and one that had letters. The number one had four digits. The alpha one had three. The code I had was four letters. So I tried several different methods such as converting the letters to their number format or leaving out one of the letters. Yeah, not so much. I had to call Scott and tell him I was an idiot. He told me to try several different codes on the alpha box and eventually got the right one.

The house itself was actually a little better than I expected it to be. The only vandalism that I saw was the missing water heater. Other than that, it seemed to have pretty good bones and basically needed a bucket of bleach, a lot of paint and some flooring. My customers showed up on time and we spent about 30 minutes going through the house and property. They're looking for investment potential and seemed to be fairly clear on what they wanted. Which is to say, to not pay above the teens. We wrapped up as it was getting dark with them going on their way saying they needed to talk it over.

So anyway, a whole lot of stress and an end result of "nada". I should probably get used to it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I took my father in law out Friday to look at a few bank owned properties. As an agent himself, he likes to see what other areas look like. It was also an opportunity for he and I to take pictures of houses so he could continue to teach me. We went to the first house and spent about 30 minutes going through it and taking pictures. I got a lot of great pointers and when we looked through the photos later I was pretty happy with how they came out. As we were finishing up at the first house, we got a call from Mister C saying they were heading to the chiropractor and we needed to meet them there. Okay. That wasn't anywhere in my plan, but I suppose I can do that. So we pack into our stuff into my car and head out.

The chiropractor is about 15 miles away, on a main thoroughfare. There's tons of traffic and we seem to hit every light. But we finally arrive. And then we wait. Evidently it's a busy day there and all three of my companions need to get adjusted. There's questions about why I'm not going in like everyone else and some attempted "shoulding" on me that I basically ignore. Whatever.

We finally finish up and then everyone decides that we need to eat lunch. So we do that. And that takes forever. Did I mention that my mil is on crutches? Yeah, she slipped on a wet floor in a hospital and broke her hip and her foot. The hip healed great, but the foot is still problematic. So she's on crutches. And she's slow. And I would be much more compassionate if she didn't have to make a big production out of being slow and on crutches.

Finally we get done with lunch and I would really like to get back to looking through houses. So we head towards home, and I'm thinking that Mister C will be jumping into my car when we get there and leaving mil at our house. But no. She doesn't want to feel left out. We ALL have to go look at the houses. Fine. Whatever. We head to the first house. It takes five minutes (no exaggeration) for my mil to get out of the car, get her crutches and walk up the walkway. Five excruciating minutes with her yapping the whole way. I should have just gone to the door first and let us in, but I was trying to be polite and understanding and wait for her gimpy ass. Of course, once we all got to the door, I realized that there was a different type of lock box on the house and I didn't have the code because I had printed out the wrong page from the MLS. Great. Shuffle, drag, whine, shuffle back into the car. Another five minute production.

So we move to the next house. This time I'm thinking ahead and I jump out first and go to the door to try and open it. Works like a charm. Five minutes later she makes it to the house. But for some odd reason she decides that the whole front door entrance wasn't appropriate for an old lady on crutches. No, the BETTER way for her to come in is to go entirely around the house to the back door. On sand and gravel. Shuffle, drag, whine, "Oh this is so hard", shuffle, whimper, she finally makes it to the back slider door. Which is evidently smaller than normal and causes her to almost get stuck halfway through. Which causes me to leave the room before I bust out laughing. Cause there isn't much funnier than seeing my cranky mil on crutches getting stuck in a slider door. Anyhoo. I'm trying to take pictures in this house which is difficult to begin with because it's about 850 square feet, made more difficult by my mil wandering into every shot whining about something or other. "What's that smell? I think I'm allergic to something in here. It's so small. I couldn't live here!" To which I really wanted to reply "There is no smell. You're always snuffling about something. It's an 850 square foot REO for $50,000 and nobody's asking you to live here. Shut up and step out of my frame before I knock that crutch out from under you." But I didn't. Because I'm a better daughter in law than she will ever know.

We finally left that house and went on to the next one. I was really looking forward to this one. It was close to where my folks bought their first AZ house. I love this age of house and the huge lots they are all on. So we get there. I'm very excited. I get out again and go up to the lock box Bingo. It's the kind I have the key for. I try my key and it informs me that it's "searching". For a very long time. For long enough that my mil manages to shuffle, drag and whine her way out of the car and up to the gate where I'm trying like heck to get my key to work. And then she stands there complaining about how ugly the house is. Seriously? I just spent the 10 minute drive over here saying how much I love the look of these houses and you're going to insult me to my face?!?!?!? Patience. Calmness. Loving thoughts.

Finally I give up on the key and go get the listing agent's number off his sign and call him. He answers his phone, I tell him who I am and where I am, explain that my key won't work but I see that he also has a standard lock box on and ask for the code. And this is his response: "Well, I could give you the code, but the house is pending as of this morning so there's really no point." I'm stunned. Absolutely stunned. I asked him basically how "pending" it is and he informs me that they have an accepted offer and are just waiting for the buyer's bank to approve it (it's an REO). If I'm understanding this correctly, he's so positive that this deal is tied up that no-one else should even look at the house. Now, maybe he's correct that it will go through and it would therefore be a waste of time for me to go through it. But really, what if his deal falls apart. What if I wasn't just trying to preview REOs and learn to take better pictures? What if my out of town guests were out of town clients that would have loved his listing? What if he just wanted to build good relationships with other agents who will likely come across his listings again? How hard would it have been to give me the code and breed some good will? Shuffle, drag, whine, shuffle back to the car where I whine all the way home. I'll try again Wednesday after they leave.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Learning, always learning

My in-laws are visiting this week. My father in law is a real estate agent in his home state. He is also a fantastic photographer. His listings always have the best photographs, even if the house itself is nothing to write home about. So I've been picking his brain. He's been showing me how to take better pictures and how to fix the ones I've taken. He explained how he sets up shots to make the most of a room, how to use my camera better. He's pointed out things in my own house that I really hadn't noticed. In. my. own. house. I've got a lot to learn. Sigh.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Welcome to the neighborhood

I signed up with a real estate company today that I think is going to work out really well. I checked out a lot of different ones online, spoke with a few but only interviewed with two. The first one was a complete "no thanks". I did try to get an interview with another well known company. I tried calling several times but my contact person's voice mailbox was full both times. I had an "inside person" that gave this woman my name and number and she said she would contact me. Nothing. My inside person told me if I hadn't heard from the interviewer by last Wednesday, to contact her and she would see if she could help speed it along. Wednesday came and went with no contact so I emailed my gal. And never heard anything back. So now it's been over two and a half weeks since the initial contact and I have not received a single phone call or email of any sort. So yeah, if you can't contact me during the honeymoon phase, how supportive are you going to be when the newness fades? I decided I was better off elsewhere.

I first heard about the company I am joining last Tuesday at Master J's swim lesson. There has been a woman there, we'll call her Jenn, that I had sat with and chatted with for the previous week. Her husband, we'll call him Scott, showed up last Tuesday. I had finally remembered to bring my camera that day and was taking pictures of Master J. That's what started Scott and I talking. He asked about the camera, whether it was for family or business. I told him that it was currently for family, but that I had really gotten it to use in for business as I was a newly minted agent. We spoke for a few more minutes and then he told me he was an agent. We started talking about how it was at his company and he was really positive, without being scarily cheerleader-ish. He gave me his card and suggested I call his broker.

The next day, I called his broker at 9:45. When I told him who I was, he said he was waiting for my call. Scott had already called him and given him the heads up. I spoke to him for about 10 minutes and then he told me to call another gal to get the ball rolling. I called and spoke with a gal named Julie for about 15 minutes. It turned out that I needed to take care of one more thing before I could work for any broker so I told her I would take care of that Thursday. I did take care of it Thursday, but I had a bunch of other stuff to take care of as well so I didn't call her back that day. On Friday, I planned on calling her back at 9:00. I chose that time because it's the earliest I usually call anyone when I don't know what hours they are available. But at 8:59 the phone rang and it was Julie. I spoke to her for a while and then we set up to meet this morning. She was just as nice in person as on the phone. The office was busy, but peaceful and not as far away as I thought. Not that I'll be going in there that much, but it will be reasonable to drive when I do need to go in. She seemed surprised when I actually read the employment contract as well. Apparently very few people actually do. It's probably just my paranoia but I don't sign anything without reading it first.

So anyway, I'm active. I'll be getting together with Scott to figure out how I'm going to fit onto his team. Yeah, he and Jenn want me on their team. How cool is that? I'm a little nervous because I've never done anything like this before, but I think I'll be a good agent. I'll probably never have the highest sales numbers, but my clients will know that I'm going to do everything in my power to do the right thing and that's got to count for something. That and returning phone calls.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


My hibiscus bloomed again. From the time we moved into our home back in late October, I've had this blooming hibiscus outside my back door. It would have 5-10 blooms every day. Then one day about six weeks ago, when I went to sit on my patio and admire the beauty, I didn't see any flowers. So I went over to my plant to see what had happened to the buds that had covered the bush the day before. And there were none. None. As in, not one. Oh the stems were there, but there was not one flower or bud on the whole bush. Where there should have been flowers, there were empty stems. They looked like they had been cut off. Only, there were no flowers on the ground either. Or in my house in a vase of water. Or tucked behind Master J's ears. So, where did they go? I asked around, specifically checking Master J's alibis, but nothing. Nobody saw anything. Maybe the dog ate them was offered up as a possible explanation. But otherwise, it's like trying to find the culprit in a bad neighborhood. Nobody saw anything and even if they did, they aren't talking about it anyway. So I've been waiting for the bush to recover. And it finally did. One flower bloomed. I tried taking pictures in the morning but it didn't seem to be opened as fully as it should have been. So I went back out later in the afternoon and tried again. It's good I did it when I did because not long after the wind kicked up and ripped my one flower to shreds. I hope it doesn't take another six weeks to bloom again.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Everyone needs a buddy

I've been picking this stuffed cat up off the floor for over a week now. I finally asked Master J why he kept bringing it out of his room and leaving around my house. He told me that he wasn't the one doing it, that the Hooligan was. According to him, the cat has sort of "adopted" this particular stuffed animal and goes and gets it out of his room. I thought Master J was just pawning off his messiness on the cat. Until I saw the Hooligan dragging it down the hall while Master J was at school earlier today. He played with it and bit it a few times, then lay down with it in front of him and dozed off. I couldn't get him completely sleeping because he goes on "high alert" when I get my camera out but you get the idea. I thought it was pretty cute that of all the stuffed critters that Master J has, the Hooligan picked out the one that looked the most like him.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Update on Caffeine

It will probably come as a surprise to some of you that even though I am decidedly not anal-retentive, I am somewhat logical when it comes to tracking data. I keep track of things to see if I can find a pattern. This is how I was able to isolate what food items trigger Master J (HFCS), how I track real estate patterns and how I figure out what behavioral modifications work and which ones are just a waste of time.

At Master J's school (and many others it seems) they have a discipline method based on flipping colored cards. Everyone starts the day on green. Acting out gets your card flipped to yellow. Continuing to act out gets your card flipped to red. Persisting after that point is generally not advised as it usually ends badly in the principal's office.

We will recall that while in the fine Nebraska school that Master J attended previously, he was on red most days. Right around 90% to be exact. And he visited the principal's office on a daily basis. Since moving to Sunshineville, he has visited the principal's office once. He still struggled, but he was on green more often than red. His break down of days looked like this in February:

Green Days - 8 = 44.44%
Yellow Days - 5 = 27.78%
Red Days - 5 = 27.78%

Total Non-Red days = 72.22%

Not bad. Certainly the majority of children are probably doing better than that. But for him, compared to his previous school, it's a bunch better.

Starting on March 8th, which was a Saturday, we've been giving Master J caffeine in the form of coffee. I give him 1/2 cup of coffee with his breakfast every day and send him in with another 1/2 cup to drink with his lunch. There are fewer days in the March breakdown because spring break took up five days of it but it's still a decent sample:

Green Days - 12 = 70.59%
Yellow Days - 2 = 11.76%
Red Days 3 = 17.65%

Total Non-Red days = 82.35%

Much improved I think. It should be noted that both yellows were in the first week of March, prior to going on the coffee regime. The three reds were all in the week directly following Spring Break. Now obviously, it's not perfect, but I don't believe it needs to be. Because it is progress. And really, it's huge progress over his previous school. In fact, if we look at Nebraska at 90% red and compare it to March's 82.35% non-red, he has almost completely switched the numbers around.

So, as unconventional as some people might find what we're doing, it seems to be helping at least somewhat. We'll see where we're at when we get to the end of April. I'm hoping it continues to improve. We'll probably really know the results some time after he finishes college (or garbage truck driving school, whatever). But for today, it seems to be going in the right direction, and that's all I hoped for when we started.