Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sparking Over Again

I'm starting over with SparkPeople again. Mister C and I were sitting around this morning discussing how we need to get back on the healthy eating and exercising routine. It got a little heated when he tried to say that his BMI was "about 30" and mine was "at least 30, probably closer to 40". Ummm, no. When I said that mine was about 27, he told me I was in denial. So I checked. His BMI is actually 28.4. Mine is 27.4. Now, understand that I am not bragging about being overweight, but I sure as heck am not in any sort of denial about it either.

Moving on. I had decent results when I used SparkPeople in the past so I thought I would check back in with it. Since mid-March (the last time I logged on), I have gained back 7 pounds and about 2 inches overall. That's not great. So we went for a walk. I did some crunches & (modified) push-ups. I had oatmeal and watermelon for breakfast/snack. I've drank 4 cups of water. And I've logged it all in.

Mister C on the other hand decided that he wants to try Nutrisystem for men. Which sounds to me like we're going to spend a large amount of money on packaged foods that will be unreasonable to keep up for any length of time. I guess if it's the catalyst he needs to get started, then it's probably fine. But we both have a lot of years of bad habits that are pretty well ingrained and I doubt that 30-90 days of using the microwave is going to fix that.

If Mister C wants to try what I believe to be an easy way to lose weight, a hard way to keep it off, I'll support him. But while he's doing that I'll be trying to make better choices and eat smaller portions. We'll both be trying for daily exercise. On July 12th when we next weigh in, we'll see where we're at. I hope we both lose.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Just Being Ornery

Getting ready to bolt so I can't take a picture of him. Ornery cuss.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Transformers Review

Master J has been begging Mister C & I to take him to see the new Transformers movie. Mister C had bought the first one and we all really liked it. Although there were a few language incidents, overall it was a good movie. And Master J loved it. He's seen it probably a dozen times. So when he saw a trailer for it one day, he decided he just had to see the new one.

Mister C & I generally try to make sure that what our kid watches is something that we feel is appropriate for not just his physical age, but also for his emotional age. So we told Master J that we would preview the film first and then decide if it was okay for him to see.

Not so much.

First of all, the language incidents had increased about 100 fold. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I don't think 10 minutes went by without someone swearing. I'm no prude, I probably have a worse mouth than most, but I don't do it around my kid. And I don't need it in order to tell a story. When a movie has that much swearing in it, it's usually because they don't have any better dialogue.

Secondly, why oh why do we have to have so much sexual innuendo in a movie whose target audience is the 6-10 set? To be clear, there was no nudity at all. But, there was a lot of suggestion and situations that definitely were geared to a higher age bracket.

Third, the violence. Yeah, I get that the whole premise of the movie is the battle between good and evil. But goodness, could we take a breather? I mean, if I took the time to figure it out, I'm fairly certain that 90% or better of the movie was actual fight scenes. Considering that this movie was at least 2 hours and 15 minutes long, that's a lot of violence in one sitting.

Fourth, and this is just me being petty, why on earth did Meghan Fox get her lips done? She was gorgeous as it was, she didn't need to make herself look like she got popped in the mouth at a bar fight. It was somewhat distracting that every time she was in a scene (which was most of the movie) I was more focused on the size of her lips than what was coming out of them. Maybe that's not a bad thing.

Overall, it wasn't a horrible movie. I've certainly seen worse ones, Redneck Zombies comes to mind. The plot was fairly decent and the acting was consistent. It was nowhere near as good as the first one. I will most likely never have a desire to see it again. Most importantly though, I won't be taking Master J to see it. I'm sure I'll get some flak about how I'm sheltering him or being unrealistic about what he's exposed to. But I'm okay with that.

So I guess Master J will be disappointed in the morning when he finds out we won't take him to the movie. On the bright side, Mister C & I got to have an actual date for the first time in forever. So "Decepticons, Rock on!"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I worked in my team leader's office today to help them out since he's currently under staffed. He has one gal working with him right now in an administrative capacity. We'll call her 'K'.

It's a pretty small office and there were three of us working so it was close quarters. I was working on the offers that had come in over the last few days. All of the properties I was dealing with were REOs and all of them had multiple offers. In a multiple offer situation, the seller (bank) then asks us to get the "highest and best offer" from each of the potential buyers. One of the tasks I had to do early this afternoon was to call the buyer's agents and let them know the seller's were asking for this.

For the most part, when I called the buyer's agents, they answered their phone themselves. There were one or two that were answered by an assistant and then transferred, but they were in the minority. So getting through the calls went pretty quickly. K and I were talking in between calls because she was also showing me how to submit offers to the sellers. She was sitting about two feet to my left. Scott was about two feet to my right at his desk. The phone rang non-stop all day. It was basically controlled chaos.

I was about halfway through my list of calls when I came across an agent named Mike and started dialing his number. K was still talking to me as I dialed. Her phone rang about the same time as I put my phone to my ear after dialing. One ring later, a gal answers my phone call and I ask to speak with Mike. She immediately tells me there is no one there by that name, I must have a wrong number. I apologize and hang up. I turn back to K who is just finishing up her phone call and finish what we were saying. Then I look back at my paper to figure out if there's another number for Mike. As I'm looking, I'm talking to K...

Me: I can't figure this out, I must have dialed something wrong.
K: You have a bad number?
Me: I guess so. I didn't get the guy. Hmmm.....Oh! I know what I did! I dialed the wrong agent.
K: What do you mean?
Me: I dialed the selling agent instead of the buyer's agent!
K: Were you looking for Mike?
Me: Yeah.
K: Did they tell you that you dialed a wrong number?
Me: Yeah. I'm an idiot.
K: Oh my god! You dialed me!
Me: That was you?
K: That was me!
Me: How did I not hear you next to me?
K: How did I not hear you?

Both of us break down laughing.

Scott (without turning around) Oh. my. god. You two cannot sit together, your blondness is rubbing off on each other.

More uncontrollable laughter from both of us.

Scott (still not looking at us) I can't believe you two.

Apparently he doesn't know me well enough yet to expect this type of interaction. Mister C probably could have given him a heads up.

Monday, June 22, 2009


"Not every deal will close."
"Every transaction is different."
"Sometimes you need to hold your client's hand through the process."
"There are always going to be things that need to get worked through."

I've heard these things said about real estate. I've heard about difficult clients. I've heard about agents getting all the way to closing, only to have it fall apart at the end. But I've never seen it first hand. I've never been at the table when someone had a meltdown and refused to sign paperwork. Why have I never run across this before? Because this was my first professional transaction. All my previous experiences with closings, I was party to the transaction. I was either buying or selling. And I've never had a meltdown.

But my client did.

She decried the "injustice" of fees that had increased between the last good faith estimate and the HUD1 statement. She didn't complain about the fees that went down. She called "criminal" the fact that the interest rate was 6.25% instead of the 5.325% she was quoted four weeks ago. She tried to blame me for not telling her to lock the rate when it was low. I reminded hr that I did tell her to lock the rate, several times, but she refused. I reminded her that the mortgage broker also told her to lock it several times as well, but she refused. She wanted it to go lower. It didn't. Now it's my and the banker's fault. She cried foul that her earnest money was non-refundable at the closing table and I explained (again) that her earnest money was non-refundable at the end of the inspection period. That she had signed paperwork that attested to the fact that she understood it was non-refundable at the end of the inspection period.

The majority of the problem lies in the discount points. The property is considered an investment property. That's one point. The loan amount is low. That's a second point. And her credit is bad. That's three points. Those three points add up at the closing table.

I tried to explain that throwing away the $1,800+ that they had already spent over what boiled down to $800 difference in closing costs, might not be the best idea. I tried to explain that finding another house (and getting it) is going to be difficult at best because the houses in her price range are selling quickly and for over asking price.

I tried. But I failed. And I walked away from the closing with nothing to show. Seven weeks of time and effort, numerous visits & phone calls, negotiating with the seller, working with the mortgage broker and generally bending over backwards doing more than any agent has ever done for me. To walk away with nothing. Nothing but a whole lot of information about what to do differently next time.

But you know what the best part is? Since I had brought them to the closing, I had to drive them home. So I got to listen to her ranting and raving the whole way. How she was going to get a lawyer and sue (for what I never did figure out). How everybody involved had "stones for hearts" and were all out for her money. How we're all criminals and dogs and are going to have to stand naked before God and be judged. For an hour. In rush hour traffic. For. An. Hour. It's probably a good thing I couldn't get to the shoulder to kick her out. I was tempted to try. I don't think her husband would have minded all that much either.

This was the best first real estate transaction ever. It has to improve from here.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Never a dull moment

Antagonizer: Just reach in and grab it! I'm watching for the human.
Hooligan: I don't think I can get it out, it's latched on to the water bottle
Antagonizer: Really? It can't be that hard. I have the hard job. I have to keep watch. Just reach in!
Hooligan: I'm trying!

Antagonizer: Uh oh! Quick! Look innocent!

Antagonizer: Lovely day, isn't it?
Hooligan: Dude! Wait, what?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Today's joke is brought to you by Master J

While eating a dixie cup earlier today...

MJ: What kind of weather would "Ice Cream Town" get?
Me: I have no idea.
MJ: Sprinkles!
Me: Good one.
MJ: I know.
Me: What else you got?
MJ: What kind of weather does "Car Town" get?
Me: I don't know.
MJ: Oil Showers!
Me: Ummm, not really funny.
MJ: I know. I only thought about that one for 2 seconds. The good one took 4 seconds.
Me: Yeah, the good ones usually take a little more thought.
MJ: Yup. (pause) Sprinkles. Hahahaha! I'm funny!

More than you know little man.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


On one of the days that I was sitting at the open house, I met a young lady that was actively looking for a home. She is currently renting a home that is going to be auctioned off for non-payment of the mortgage. Nice, right? She's losing her home because the owner decided not to pay his mortgage payment with the money she paid in rent every month. So A and her mom M asked me to help them find a home for A. Mom flew in from Florida to help pack up the old place and find a new one. I've mostly worked with M these past two weeks, sorting through homes, ruling out the worst and making one offer on a really nice home. Which, by the way, we lost out to an investor. I have no problem with investors in general. But when I show my client a home at 9:05 in the morning, after it shows up in the MLS at 10:00 the night before, and find out from the listing agent that it already has 8 cash offers over the asking price, I get a little peeved. How can my client, who is FHA qualified, hope to compete with that? We offered well over asking price (slightly over the comps) with the only request being that the bank pay her closing costs (hence the over the comps offer price). We lost out. To an investor who, if the the local newspaper is correct, will turn it into a rental home. And this is happening every day. Hmmm, people buying houses sight unseen for over asking price...smell a little bit like another housing market to anyone else?

Last Thursday, M called me to ask if I would go with her and A to the big auction that's in town this weekend. The open house I had met them at was one of the properties being offered up for sale and they wanted the opportunity to try and get it. I've never been to an auction. I'm game.

There's a whole process of registration that the auction people make you gyrate through as both a bidder and as an agent. I filled out my paperwork and printed it out as directed. I got my broker's information and signature as required. I printed out my license like I was supposed to. I was ready.

I met with A & M about 10 miles from my house at 7:00 am on Saturday. Registration started at 8:00 downtown and we didn't want to be late. Knowing what I know now, we could have taken our time getting down there. But we didn't know, so we got there on time.

We waited around for about 15 minutes until they officially opened the registration. There was some confusion about how to register and what papers you needed to do so. Turns out that they didn't want to see most of what the website had told me was required. We got through that fairly quickly and headed in to the auction room.

You walk into the huge room and see about 500 chairs set up in rows. There are four large screens at the front of the room. The two middle screens will be where each property's photo is put up while it is being bid on. To the outside of those screens are screens that have a grid of the property numbers. There are four pages of property numbers that scroll continuously throughout the day. As each property is sold, a green box will appear over the number. In front of the middle screens, there is a stage with two podiums on it. On either side of the stage, are two long tables with beautiful people seated in front of computers and printers. Throughout the day as each property hits it's final bid, one of the beautiful women from the table to the right of the stage walks a piece of paper to one of the beautiful men seated at the table to the left of the stage.

When the show starts, there will be two people on stage. On the right side, there is an announcer whose job it is to tell us which property is being bid on and the opening bid. Then the auctioneer takes off on his spiel. There are two different auctioneers at this auction and each works for about an hour before trading off.

The real show though are the bidding assistants. All men, most really good looking, all reminding me 8 year old boys with ADHD. They are in constant motion. Especially their eyes. They all pace constantly, looking for someone who is ready to bid, watching for someone to wave their bidding card. Even when they're walking a straight line their eyes are scanning back and forth over the crowd. Wherever the bid is at, the assistants are signing it with their fingers. The numbers 1-5 are shown by the appropriate number of fingers, 6 is a thumb up, 7 is a crooked index finger, 8 is the middle crossed over the index and 9 is a thumbs down. And they yell. A lot. They do actually help the ones who are bidding to stay focused on where the bid's at and to prevent them from bidding against themselves.

Remember how I mentioned that that we got to the auction on time? Yeah, no need for that. They bid the houses by number and the numbers are given to each home based on the area that house is in. They auction off all the houses in a given area at one time and then move to the next area. Our house? Was in an area that they didn't get to until late afternoon. So we sat there for about six hours before they even started on our area. That was a bummer. I guess we could have gone to lunch or something, but they really didn't want to miss the opportunity to bid so we stuck around.

Just prior to the house my client wanted came up, M signaled to one of the assistants that we would be bidding. He came over as soon as the house popped up and gave A directions on what to do. He told her not to bid first, not to bid until it got going, to wait until it was down to her and one other bidder. She did as he instructed and ended up with the winning bid.

Now, here's where it gets interesting. The winning bid does not necessarily get the property. I know. It makes no sense. No, the bank has a "reserve" price and if that price isn't met, they don't have to take your bid. They have the option to accept, decline or counter your bid. The best part about that is that nobody knows what the reserve price is so there's no way to know how far off you are and what your chances are of actually getting the property.

But wait, there's more. The auction company puts a 5% premium on the winning bid to cover their costs. That premium, is paid by the buyer, not the bank. Usually, the seller pays for their costs out of the sale price, but not at an auction. Okay, so you have the "maybe" highest bid and now we add 5% on top of that. Now, you need to put 5% of that price down as your earnest money. Your earnest money that goes hard immediately. There is no "cooling off" period at an auction. There is no inspection period after purchase. There is no financing contingency. If you can't get financing, you lose your earnest money. And I don't mean if you can't get the financing you want. I mentioned that my client is FHA qualified. If FHA doesn't appraise the house and won't finance her, she either needs to go 10% down conventional or lose her earnest money. There is no option to just back out. For someone who is a first time home buyer with not a whole lot of cash on hand this could be devastating. My clients asked my opinion and I had to tell them that it was their choice. The house certainly has the comps to back the price they bid and then some. It's a newer built house in good condition in what appears to be a nice neighborhood. But there's no telling what the bank will say. So now we wait for a week or two to find out whether the seller takes their bid or not.

My overall impression of the auction would have to be that it wouldn't be something I would personally do. I also would not recommend it to someone who was trying to go FHA or was a first time buyer as there could be a lot of risk to them. I would also suggest that there is an inherent unfairness in the process as it seems to put all of the risk and all of the costs on the buyer. I get that they need to do their due diligence and check out the homes they are interested in but that's not the same as a full house inspection. And nobody is going to pay for a full house inspection on a property that they have a good chance on not getting anyway. My advice on this is buyer beware and do your homework.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Does he do anything else?

I swear that every time I turn around, the Hooligan has found a new place to nap. Just today, Mister C brought my attention to this...

Yeah, that's a clean blanket folded up neatly on my dresser. Or at least it was a clean blanket.

Last week, he was found making sure Master J's backpack full of swimming stuff was up to Hooligan Napping Standards...

He's basically a four pound napping machine that sheds. His only redeeming feature is that he harasses the heck out of the Antagonizer. That, and the fact that he makes ADHD girl raise her eyebrows and get nervous whenever he loves on her.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fingers crossed

Okay, so I was supposed to have my first closing yesterday but it didn't quite work out. For awhile it was looking like the whole thing was getting canceled but we've at least temporarily put that off. We got all of the paperwork that we needed and are now in underwriting. The only possible issue now is if the seller (a bank) decides to try and charge a per diem to my clients. Because my client has decided that that is her line in the sand. Even though they signed the paperwork saying that a per diem would be charged if the closing got delayed due to the buyers not being able to perform on time. To make it more interesting, she is completely blaming me for the delay in closing that could cause this per diem to be charged. Even though I have done everything in my power to get the whole thing this far. Why is she blaming me? Because I didn't tell her last Friday that a fax from a lawyer in Mexico regarding a transaction she did in Houston was incomplete. Why didn't I tell her that? Because it came in Friday afternoon and was in Spanish. It didn't get translated until late Monday and I was busy with another client. So I told her on Tuesday morning. The day we were supposed to close. But if we know anything about how this process works, we know that the fax would have to have been complete and translated no later than last Wednesday in order to close on this Tuesday. So how is this my fault again? Oh well, one story in my book of real estate escapades. It's all good.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My day off

Tuesday is my day off from real estate during the summer so I can spend time with Master J. Last week we hit the science museum to check out their Lego Castles exhibit. It was amazing. They had full size knights and a huge baby dragon built completely out of Legos.

They also had a rock wall that the kids, or adults I guess, could climb. Master J got strapped into climbing gear and scrambled about two thirds of the way up before looking down and freezing. Complete panic. The woman doing the belaying tried to help and encourage him but it was no use. Everything she said, he just replied "No, I think I need to come down now." It was like one of those automated phone ladies that just keeps repeating the same thing when you push the wrong button. As someone who has a fear of heights myself, I can totally relate to where he was. The only difference is that if I was almost to the top, I wouldn't be able to give up because I'm too stubborn. There would definitely be a lot of self talk to get me through, but I would finish. But Master J is only eight years old yet and he doesn't know yet how to get his self talk to overrule his fear talk. He'll get there.

I, of course, forgot to bring my camera to the exhibit and had to resort to using my cell phone to commemorate the event. The pictures came out okay (for a cell phone) and I would have posted them, but I am technically challenged and couldn't figure out how to get them from the camera to my blog. Pathetic really.

Today is Tuesday again and when I asked him what he wanted to do on our special day, he told me he wanted to go to his favorite restaurant MacAlpines. And that's it. He doesn't want to do anything else. I think he's worried I'm going to suggest sky diving or some other such insanity.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Open houses and the people that show up at them

So I've spent the weekend (and Saturday of last weekend) sitting at an open house that's on the auction block. Of all the repossessed homes I've been in, it's probably the nicest. It has all of it's appliances (and cabinets!), there are no holes in the walls, the carpet isn't stained a rainbow of different garage chemicals and it's really pretty clean. But it is empty. So all three times I've held the open house, I bring my table and a chair, as well as two bags full of paperwork and books. I set up my little corner with my laptop and my coffee and I spend my time either emailing listings to clients or catching up on my reading. I've started and finished two books over the three days. There's a lot of down time at an open house.

I'm not a big fan of open houses. I don't really think they help sell the house you're holding open. I personally have never bought a house I saw at an open house. I don't know anyone that has. It's probably different in this situation since the house is required to be held open so people can check it out before they bid on it at the auction. It's not so much an open house as it is a "due diligence tour" for people planning on going to the auction. But, I did put out open house signs and that in turn brought the typical parade to my door.

There are five types of people that show up at an open house.

The first ones are almost always the neighbors. They seem a little hesitant to come in. It's like they don't want to disappoint the person sitting behind the table by admitting they are just being nosy. I welcome them in and let them know that half of the neighborhood's already been through. They want to see what the house is priced at and how it compares to their home amenities wise. The neighbors are not a happy lot in this situation. Some of them have the exact same floor plan, but paid twice as much as what this one will probably sell for.

The second ones through the door are the people planning on going to the auction. Most of these are investors. You can tell them because they have clipboards, tape measures and spreadsheets that they fill out as they go. Their conversations are less about the prettiness factor and more about needs. Does it need paint? Carpet? The appliances are all here. Needs landscaping. One talks while the other takes notes. They don't generally linger.

The third ones are the people with their agents. The seem nervous about speaking with me, like they've been forewarned by their agent that I may try to "steal" them. They walk quietly through the house not saying anything either way about what they like or dislike about the house. Their agents hover around them, watching them like hawks for any sign of disloyalty. The best part about the agent/client combo though, is that they steal their own registration page. I am required by my broker and the seller to have everyone register prior to viewing the home. All three agents that brought clients dutifully filled out the registration and then at some point took it with them. WTF? I get that some agents might steal a client but my theory on that is this: If you do your job to the best of your ability and don't ever skimp on service, your client will never feel the need to get another agent. Just don't steal my registration page in lieu of doing your job.

The fourth kind of people that come through are unrepresented people that truly are in the market for a new home. Some of them need to find a place quickly and some of them are on a more relaxed schedule, but at some point they will be buying a home. These people tend to be the most relaxed and the most willing to talk to the agent. They go through the house slowly commenting audibly to each other about specific details. They talk with the agent when they arrive and after they've been through the house. They ask about the neighborhood, the commute, the schools and whatever else comes up. These are the most enjoyable guests of the open house. They break up the five hour day and make it more bearable.

Lastly, we have the salespeople. Door to door salespeople have a perfect excuse for coming to the door, it's open! You can't hide because they know you're there! I only had one sales guy show up this weekend and we quickly established that I didn't need a windshield. He lingered a bit doing his salesman thing and eventually asked about my iphone. I told him I loved it but that I had an issue with the mapping. He thought for a second and then proceeded to tell me how to fix it. Now it works beautifully. I guess I'm glad he showed up too.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rules of a new buyer's agent

I'm a fairly new agent. I'll admit my "hands on, beginning to end" experience is limited to my own purchasing and sales of eight different properties. Since getting licensed, I've been working with various buyers. My first closing is supposed to be next Tuesday. That's not looking so good.

I've also had the pleasure of searching for and showing houses to several other couples or people that haven't even gotten as far as putting in an offer. With this admittedly not vast store of knowledge, I've come up with a few questions to help save time, effort and money with my buyers.

1. Are you paying cash or financing?

2. If the answer to #1 is "financing", do you have a down payment?

3. If the answer to #2 is "no", are you eligible for a VA loan?

4. If the answer to #3 is "yes", do you have your DD214 readily available?

5. If the answer to #4 is "yes", let's go look at houses.

6. If the answer to #2 is "yes", do you have documentation of where that money came from?

7. If the answer to #6 is "yes", can you find the documentation?

8. If the answer to #7 is "yes", let's go look at houses.

Once we get through that mess, let's talk credit.

I'm not a finance person and I don't claim to be. But a little probing goes a long way towards not wasting my time.

"How's your credit?" is an arbitrary question. Some people say "It's bad" when it's under 700. Some people say "it's not too bad" when it's under 500. Apparently, people have differing views of what constitutes "bad credit". Banks however, do not. And if your score is under 500, there's not much anyone can do to help you buy a house today.

A client saying "I have a mistake on my credit report" followed by a long, drawn out explanation of how some company screwed them over by sending their account to collections by mistake is a red flag. I'm not saying that the credit company didn't make a mistake, one of them very well might have. But the other 19 collection accounts on their credit report are probably valid.

A client telling me that they are "pretty sure" they don't have any late payments is lying. Pure and simple. If you're on top of your finances, you know if you've been late on a payment. If you're on top of your finances, you most likely haven't been late on a payment.

If a client calls about a $300,000 home but then asks about homes under $60,000, they are probably not serious. If they then go on to say that their boyfriend and they "do a little investing in houses sometimes", they are full of it. You either invest or you don't, housing isn't a penny stock and it isn't liquid. It takes money and dedication to invest in it.

If your client, after riding in your car viewing houses for an hour, announces that they were in the er over the weekend for a migraine, got several shots of heavy duty painkillers and got a prescription for narcotics as well, be sure to ask if they took some of that prescription prior to getting in your car. When the giggle maniacally and tell you "Yup!", it's time to take them home.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The house that Mamoo* didn't cook in

A few years back, Mister C and I got Master J a cd player/radio for Christmas. We mainly got it so he could listen to his cds but after several moves over those years, the cd player quit working. So lately he has been listening to the radio. The station he listens to is fairly harmless and plays a lot of older music. Although there was the one night when I told him he needed to turn it down and he shouted back that he couldn't because "they're playing nothing but love songs tonight!" Oookaayyy, I suppose it's possible that love songs need to be played at a higher decibel. Whatever.

For the last several weeks though, they've been doing a big promotion where they are giving away a house. They have certain times where they announce a "key word" that you're supposed to type in on their site. They have times when they just announce that a certain caller will win "a key that could open the door to your new house!!!!" Master J is obsessed with winning this house. He's convinced Mister C on at least one occasion to type in the key word for him. He's convinced he's going to win this house. So it came as no surprise when he started telling me about "his house" and what he was going to do when he won it. And so, we have the following...

MJ: Well Mamoo is going to be there.
Me: Mamoo's going to live in the house too?
MJ: Yeah. It's a two story house so I figure she could live on the first floor and we could live upstairs.
Me: I suppose that could work.
MJ: Yeah, she'll have her room and I guess we could all share the kitchen.
Me: Ya think?
MJ: Yeah, you can cook sometimes and Mamoo can cook sometimes.
Me: Is Mamoo a good cook?
MJ: Oh yeah. She's a good cook.
Me: What's your favorite thing that she cooks for you?
MJ: Weeelll, pizza! And applesauce. And strawberries.
Me: Ummm, that's not really cooking. That's more "preparing".
MJ: She cuts the tops off the strawberries.
Me: Oh. Still...that's not so much cooking. She used to cook a lot when we were kids. She always cooked, not out of a box either.
MJ: Really?
Me: Yeah. When we were little, Mamoo used to make macaroni and cheese that wasn't out of a box.
MJ: (absolutely dumbfounded) What? How did she do that?
Me: Well, she would use macaroni noodles, cheese, milk, butter and flour. She would use pans on the stove and then mix it all together and then bake it.
MJ: How did it taste? Better than the box stuff?
Me: Oh yeah! It was really good.
MJ: (eyes wide) Really? Did she have a garden?
Me: Um, no.
MJ: Well where did she get the ingredients?
Me: She went to the store.
MJ: How often did she go to the store?
Me: Once every two weeks.
MJ: What? That's it? She goes like, every day now and she just preparing stuff from boxes!
Me: I know right?
MJ: (sits back and shakes his head) So it was good?
Me: Yep.

It was really good.

*For anyone not in the know, Mamoo is my mom. Much to her chagrin, it is pronounced as rhyming with Shamu, the killer whale. Master J named her that when he was around 2 years old. It is the actual name that he (and we) call her to this day. It was preceded by the more typical "G-Ma" and the not so typical "Mamushka" (rhymes with babushka).