Sunday, August 23, 2009

This is why I drive

Master J spent the night at Mamoo & Papa's Friday night. On Saturday, he convinced Papa to buy him a large Lego building kit. Apparently, he invited Papa to play Lego's in his room there, forgetting to mention that he actually had none there. Hmmm, Papa has already agreed to play Lego, therefore he must honor that commitment by heading out to the store. As a side note, when Papa said he was willing to spend $20 on a Lego kit, he was informed by Master J that "That's not going to get you much!". Nice kid I have.

So Mamoo & Papa took Master J shopping and came back with a huge building set. After arriving back home, Papa & Master J spent several hours building. But due to time constraints, they were unable to finish the project in one day. Master J wanted to go back to finish it today.

Master J asked if we could all go back to Mamoo & Papa's house today and Mister C agreed. Anyway, all of this is the back story. But, this is not a story of good times spent with doting grandparents. No, this is a story of pain. Because Mister C decided we would all ride our bikes to my parent's house.

Umm, I'm not real great with bikes. I mean, if it has a motor and I'm clinging to someone else that is in control of it I can totally do it. But me pedaling? On my own? Not so much on my daily agenda. Don't get me wrong, it sounds good in theory. Good clean family fun, right?

Not so much.

I have this minor issue with coordination that makes walking a gamble on some days. I'm fairly sure I would fail a field sobriety test if I were stone cold sober. No lie. I trip on air, I bump into things constantly. I have walked into door frames and my toes are constantly curled in fear of whacking things. I have slid down stairs more times than I care to mention (hence the single story house). No, grace is not my middle name. And Mister C wants to put wheels under me? That's just not a good idea.

But after much trepidation (and nagging from Mister C) I gave in and agreed to bike over to Mamoo & Papa's place for breakfast.

First of all it should be noted that I am not the only unenthusiastic one in the bunch. Master J has no desire to bike over either. He would be just fine with driving over thanks. But Mister C is bent on family together time. After some basic whining and laying in the driveway claiming illness (by Master J) and several bathroom trips, drinks of water and consumption of bananas (by MJ & me), we head out.

Mister C zips around in circles encouraging Master J to get started. Master J dutifully falls into line behind his dad. My shaking, weaving, brake pulling self brings up the rear. I hate this. I feel like I'm out of control of my body and I'm praying none of the neighbors steps out to get their paper and waves. Both of my thumbs are wrapped securely around the grips and two fingers are on the brakes. I'm fairly sure there's no way I'm waving back without falling over and hurting myself. The last thing I need in the neighborhood is pity and a reputation.

We don't get very far before Mister C informs us we have to "make a few stops". He has brought along DVDs that need to be returned and wants to pick up bacon for breakfast as well. WTF? Why? Why? Why? Why does every trip have to include extra stops? I'm already not happy about this whole biking thing to begin with and now we have to go a mile out of our way. I'd knock him off his bike if I could catch up to him.

So we ride. God love him, but Mister C is a hazard to the teaching of road rules. He rides on the wrong side of the road, never stopping at side streets or store driveways. Master J follows. I'm sure the people on the entire route now know my child's name. I must have shouted at him a dozen times to stop because his father zipped across some street and Master J didn't even look before doing the same. Had he been right with his dad it wouldn't have been so bad. But he wasn't, he was far enough behind that a driver seeing Mister C pass would think he was riding alone and not realize a kid was getting ready to blindly ride in front of them. It was horrible.

But the bigger issue started about 15 minutes after we started. My a$$ started to hurt. I think it's actually the bones that had all the pressure on them. Not that I'm skinny by a long stretch. No, one would think I had plenty of padding to ride comfortably across country. Apparently not. And there's only so many ways you can shift your weight around on a three inch bike seat when you're terrified of falling off. But I continued on.

There's a bunch of construction between our home and my parent's. There are big signs saying "sidewalk closed" right where the construction starts. Does that stop Mister C? It does not. He blithely rides by the sign stating it will be "fine". And it was. Until the halfway point. Where the sidewalk was replaced with a large pit filled with exposed sewer pipes and gravel. So we had to walk our bikes down into the ditch to go around. Past the construction debris, past the chain link fence topped with barbed wire and back up to where the sidewalk resumed.

We finally got to the video store where I read aloud the signs about no bikes on the sidewalk to my oblivious husband that had just ridden past (yes, there was more than one). Master J & I walked our bikes to a bench in front of the grocery store that's next to the video store so Mister C could pick up the bacon. It hurt to sit. My bones are screaming about the injustice of that tiny, cement feeling seat. Master J & I drink our water and blow our noses and tell each other how red our faces are. Mister C gets back out way too soon for me. Because now I have to put my backside back on the cement block and go another mile.

The best part is that because of the busy street this store is on, we have to back track to the nearest corner to cross to the side that we will eventually need to be on. The rest of the ride continues with much pain and whining (on my part) but eventually fewer cars and fewer panic attacks about Master J getting hurt. For his part, Master J is being a champ. Mister C continues to spin circles and dance just out of reach.

We arrive at my folk's house and my son and husband immediately start playing with Lego's with Papa. I rip off my shoes and socks and collapse under the ceiling fan in their living room. It takes me a solid twenty minutes to recover enough to get up off the floor. Mamoo makes breakfast and then she & I drink coffee and talk while the boys work on the Lego creation. The only chair that doesn't cause immense pain to my backside is the big, cushy recliner, so I spend a lot of time there.

Eventually though, the happiness must end. We need to go home and no amount of whining will convince Mister C that it's a good idea for "some of us" to ride home with our bikes in the back of Papa's truck. No, this is family time. Yay, family, grumble, grumble.

The ride home was shorter by a mile, but warmer by about 25 degrees. Yeah, it was 107 when we got home today. And my backside screamed the whole way. And just to add insult to injury, my chain fell off as well. Because I've got nothing better to do. But then the nausea kicked in and I forgot about my pain for a little while. Trying to figure out whether to get off the bike and retch in someones yard or try to power through and hope you don't throw up on yourself will do that I guess.

Eventually, miraculously, we arrived home. I left my bike in the driveway and went into our bathroom and hit the floor. I lay there hoping the nausea would go away now that I was out of the heat and no longer exerting energy. I was also hoping not too much cat hair was sticking to my sweaty skin. That was kind of gross. But then, Mister C came in the bedroom and let the puppy out of her kennel. The puppy that had seen me walk past on my way to my bathroom. And instead of following his directions to go outside, she came flying into the bathroom to find me. And couldn't believe her luck when I was actually prone, totally defenseless against her mauling my head with her tongue. She completely ignored Mister C yelling at her to go outside until he came to the bathroom door to get her. And then she peed a little. Right next to me. Nice.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mafia Cat

Don Hooligan: We have known each other many years, but this is the first time you've come to me for counsel or for help.

I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse.

With apologies to the late, great Marlon Brando. I just couldn't resist.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I can read it!

So all the work that Master J did during his first week of school showed up in his homework folder this week. I about fell over when I started looking through it and realized I could actually read what he had written. It is amazing. Last year even Master J had trouble reading what he had written. It was so bad that it's amazing he made it through 2nd grade without an interpreter. But it's getting better. I don't know if it's maturity or what, I don't really care. It's getting better. My baby is legible! Woohoo!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wish I had that on video

So there I am, minding my own business, running on my treadmill. The puppy is in her kennel, ADHD girl is sleeping on her bed, Hooligan is sunning himself and the Antagonizer is on the bed, watching me. The tv is on so I can think of something other than the running I'm trying to do. Out of the corner of my eye I see the Antagonizer jump, onto my treadmill. The treadmill on which I am running. I turn to look back and see her hit the treadmill and go SHOOTING off the back of the treadmill and into the wall. She bounces off the wall and tries to jump up onto the night stand. She makes it up but manages to clear it off as her massive girth goes sliding uncontrolled across it. She ends up on her back, at the edge of the table, up against the wall, with her feet flailing in the air. And then proceeds to start bathing herself as though that was her original intent. I would check to see if she's okay, but I am too busy trying not to fall off the treadmill myself as I laugh my a$$ off. I love cats.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Home, sweet home

Well, everything finally fell into place and my client has her house. She signed her closing papers last Friday but we didn't get the seller's signature until this afternoon. It's been a very long six days, especially the last two, but she's finally able to schedule her movers to show up tomorrow and move out of the hotel she's been living in for the last month.

This is the client that bought her house at auction here in June. That was two months ago. It took forever for the seller (a bank) to agree to the bid price. Then we waited around for another two weeks for the mortgage insurer to okay the bank's acceptance. After that it was just the typical lender & title company stuff. Very tedious stuff.

I think the biggest thing to me is that neither seemed to know what the other was doing. For instance, there was a piece of paper that needed to be signed by my client. Nobody told her she needed to sign it until four days after she had signed the closing documents. Four days.

At the closing, my client and & I both asked if there was anything else they needed from her to complete the transaction. We were told no. So we went on our merry way thinking we were done. She wired the required money. Then we sat back to wait until the seller signed.

On Monday, I called the title company to make sure everything was on track and was told we were just waiting for the bank to fund the loan. I called the bank to see why they hadn't funded the loan and was told because the title company hadn't sent everything that was required. I called the title company back but had to leave a voice mail.

When I hadn't heard from them by the next morning, I started calling again. I finally got through around noon and asked where we were at. It was at this point that I was told my client hadn't signed some release form that the bank needed in order to fund the loan. I called my client, she immediately signed and faxed the form to the title company. Late in the day after hearing nothing, I call again. I get voice mail again. I leave a message. The next morning I start all over again.

Twenty four hours after my client faxed the form, I finally get a hold of someone at the title company and they tell me they don't have the form. I call my client back again and she faxes it back to them. Two hours later, I call the bank to see where we're at. They still haven't funded the loan. They need the paperwork from the title company and the title company is missing a form. Back on the phone to the title company to hear they don't have the form. The form my client has faxed to them twice in 24 hours. I call my client, instruct her to stand by her fax machine and not hit "send" until the gal at the title company swears she is standing by her fax machine waiting for the fax to show up. The fax finally makes it.

I started this morning calling and leaving messages at the lender and the title company. Nobody calls me back. I call again several hours later and leave more messages. Around 2:30 this afternoon I finally hear from my client that someone called to tell her that the loan is funded. The seller has signed. The house is hers. An hour later I get a call from the title company saying they are returning my call and that they don't have signatures from the seller yet. WTF? I tell her that I've already spoken to my client and she is under the impression that it went through. The woman seems confused as to how that can be but with some encouragement from me she checks her files and sure enough, it's been signed.

See what I mean? No one seems to know what anyone else is doing. But at the end of the day, my client got the house she wanted at a really great price and she can move out of the hotel into her home. And that's what really matters.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


He looks like he couldn't quite summon the energy to completely climb on board. Is it any wonder I can't get anything done?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How time flies

Master J on his first day of 3rd grade Monday:

Master J on his first day of preschool - 2005:


Friday, August 7, 2009

Good Faith Estimate my A$$

Why do banks lie? They give buyers a "good faith estimate" at the beginning of the process. Then, the day the buyers sign the paperwork, they figure out that the actual cost is substantially higher than anticipated. And when I say substantially, I mean at least 25% higher than quoted. Why? Why do lenders do this?

My suspicion is that they believe they are being competitive. They are competing with other banks and people want the lowest closing costs so they produce what they think will sell. The reality is that most people would rather hear the truth up front. You know, so they can plan for the cost.

You know what would make customers really happy? How about the closing costs being less than the good faith estimate. Wouldn't that be great? Think of how many customers would be gained if you consistently met or undercut the original estimate. Who wouldn't think you were the best thing ever then?

And the best part is that they wouldn't even have to change what they charge (although that's an entirely different post for another day). No, if the lenders just put the right numbers in the original documents, that would be enough for most customers. If you know a fee is going to be $600 because it's always $600, don't tell people it's only $300 because you assume the other party is paying the other half. Give customers the worst case scenario so they can plan for that. Then when it comes time to close and the costs are actually lower than anticipated (because the other party did pay half) the customers will be thrilled.

Now obviously some costs aren't fixed because they change depending on what day of the month closing falls on. Things like interest and taxes. But again, estimate high and deliver low.

I don't know that any kind of laws or rules should be implemented, but I do think banks and lenders should take a look at their practices. I also believe that they should make an attempt for the closing costs to stay within 5% of the good faith estimate.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Did you ever think that having wasps or yellow-jackets would be the good option? Me neither. But in this case, it would have been the lesser of two evils.

My client is scheduled for a house inspection tomorrow morning. While I was talking with the gal at the inspector's office yesterday, I mentioned that I had seen some bees the last time I was out at the house. She hesitated a second and then asked "How many?" I told her I really don't know, but it looked like at least a dozen and they were up by the roof. She hesitated again and then suggested that we might need to get a bee guy out to at least confirm the bees weren't a swarm. So I called around and found a guy.

I met the bug man at the property at 9:00 am. By 9:02, he had told me that the insects flying around the eaves were definitely not wasps. They were honeybees. That's better than nasty wasps, right? Apparently only if you want to avoid getting stung. No, if you want the easiest and cheapest insect removal, pray for wasps. Because honeybees build honeycombs. Filled with honey. And you can't just remove the bees.

Here's a bit of information you might not know. Honeybees spend their time fanning their wings and cooling the honey. If you just take the bees, the honey starts to get warm. And then it melts. Into your walls. We live in Arizona. It was over 110 degrees today. It's not going to take a whole lot of time for the honey to get everywhere. In my client's new home.

So we went ahead and had the bees and honeycomb removed. At the end of the day the bug man removed between 85-100 pounds of honey from the attic. The cost was ridiculous, but the bees are gone and the roof is back together.

I sent my camera up with the contractor and he got this picture:

And this one:

I took this one from the ground while the bug man held this part of the comb over the edge for me:

My client is ready to weep. She just wants to move out of the hotel she's been living in for the last month and into her new home. On the bright side, as least when she does finally move in, the previous occupants won't still be living there.

At the end of the day, other than the fact that this was a clients house, it was really pretty cool to see.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I feel so safe!

Remember when I mentioned that Master J had taken over my newly empty kitchen with his army men? I asked him to clean them up and he did. They are no longer spread out across my kitchen. No, now they are spread out across my whole house. But they are not blatantly obvious. Because they are strategically placed in innocuous corners. Protecting the borders if you will. There are two to four army men in each doorway, peeking out from under couches and generally lurking about the place.

For example, here we have several men flanking either side of Master J's bedroom door. You can see he's brought out the heavy artillery in the form of the tank on the east side. Evidently he feels the need for extra security.

Here we see the men doing their daily patrol. It's probably somewhat unusual to have a man on the hood but I guess he's what you would call the "point man". Sucky job he has, sitting on a hot truck hood totally unprotected and guaranteed first in the line of fire. He's a brave soldier that one.

Here we have a tense and dramatic scene being portrayed by two of our fine young men. I think it goes a little something like this:

Soldier1: Help me!
Soldier2: I'm trying man! I don't know how much longer I can hold up this beat up kitchen cabinet while keeping my weapon trained on the unseen enemy!
Soldier1: I'm tangled up in this web of filth!
Soldier2: I've only got two hands soldier! You've got to help yourself! Are you telling me you can't escape from a dustbunny?
Soldier1: Can't. go on. much. longer. Being. strangled. by. Mirth hair!
Soldier2: Good lord I had no idea it was Mirth hair! You're doomed soldier!
Soldier1: Gack!
Soldier2: Sigh. He was a good soldier. He never had a chance. What a waste. I'd take his body back to base if my arms weren't so numb.

I think I have too much time on my hands. I need to find a house buyer to keep me occupied.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Meet Izzy

According to the local shelter, she's a six month old German shepherd/pit bull cross. We adopted her yesterday. I told Mister C we were "just looking". I lied.

Phone call from Mom expected in 3...2...1..