Friday, July 25, 2014

The One In The Middle

Isabelle's birthday was way back in April, but I just finished her birthday present today. Bad Momma. My plan was to give her a copy of Judy Blume's book The One In The Middle Is A Green Kangaroo along with a green kangaroo. Because she's my green kangaroo.... my middle child. I didn't finish the doll in time, and then it hibernated half-finished while I dealt with the house fiasco. She finally reminded me with a sad little "Is my kangaroo finished? My birthday was a long time ago."  =(

But it is finally done!

This is not my design. It's a Lalylala pattern,  Kira.  She has a collection of similar adorable patterns. It's supposed to have a baby kangaroo in the pouch but I figure that would end up lost.

Not much else to report yet. Probable new house on the horizon, but I don't want to talk about it just yet. I'm ready to get out of here though. Looking at bigger houses makes this one feel so small. Because it is. =)

I appreciate those of you who still read me despite my slacking on updating! 

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Well, that was fun.

Long story short... that dream house?  It turned into a nightmare. The deal fell through, and the process had been so awful we were relieved instead of disappointed.

Usually, you never actually deal with the owner selling a house. But the owner of this house insisted on being around all the time. I thought she was fine the first time we met her, but she turned into over of the most unpleasant people I have ever met.

Our first bump in the road was the fact that the house was actually a manufactured home. It was so well maintained and had been remodeled to the point that you really wouldn't know if no one told you. Nice or not... most mortgage companies don't finance them. Period. Including the one we were pre-approved through. So we had to scramble to find someone who would. We eventually did but the requirements for financing manufactured homes are much stricter. Our "sure thing" turned into iffy.

We had to endure fits from the seller.  We had decided to self-inspect, because the VA would do their own inspection and appraisal. We were basically thrown off the property and told we had to have a licensed inspector or the deal was off. My agent said she couldn't actually do that but not wanting to cause problems, we did pay for an inspection. We tried to be very accommodating. We changed the closing date to make things easier for her to arrange her own move.  She asked us to take her dog, and we agreed as long as Isabelle could meet him but we were not allowed to bring the kids on the property.

She was awful. My agent told her agent we would not come back to the house without her agent present.

After weeks of dealing with the loan officer from Hell, we were finally told they would not approve the loan.

I do feel bad. Yes, she was a mean cranky woman but I don't believe that bad people deserve bad things.  She was in the process of planning a move to England, so I'm sure this is far more inconvenient than it would be for most people. That's not my fault and we tried EVERYTHING to make the loan work. My agent assures me there isn't anything the woman can do to us, but even she is somewhat concerned that the woman would try. We still haven't gotten the signed termination of contract back, either. I do wish I could just write it off to her bad karma and forget about it.

So we begin again. We can't make any offers until the termination is final, but we're starting the hunt again. A huge part of me doesn't want to. The past few months have been incredibly stressful and I don't want to go through it again. But we have to get into a bigger home. I feel so crowded and it's not going to get better. That is stressful in itself.  But it's tempting to put it off all the same.  Last time, I was always so excited to go look at houses. This time it feels like a chore.  Hopefully my attitude will improve.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Hunt has ended!

We have found our house!  I really wish I had pictures to show off, but I don't.  But trust me when I say this was honestly beyond my imagination.  I'm still a little blown away by how it all fell into place.

It started with The Monkey House.  I had tried to do a drive by before going to see the house and couldn't.  It was a little confusing getting out to it and I realized being discreet about it would have been impossible. But I had a pretty good idea of how to get to it.

Monday, we set out to look at houses. We had decided against seeing Boot Lick and The Guest House accepted an offer the day before so we only had The Other Log Cabin and The Monkey House. The Other Log Cabin was a definite No.  So we headed to The Monkey House. We were following our realtor and she turned down a road with a real estate sign, but I was 99% sure she made a wrong turn.  But we followed her anyway. I was right. We got turned around and made it to The Monkey House finally.

The house was OK.  Not perfect. The deck needed to be replaced and it was super high towards the back of the house. I'm a bad judge of distance but it had to have been about 15 feet high.  It made me really nervous. The acreage was mostly wooded and not particularly pretty.

So we were talking with the agent and Bill wanted me to look up a couple of houses we passed on our way, including the one down the Wrong Turn Road. The second he heard about that house, he wanted to see it. All he needed to hear were the first two words in the description. ... "10 acres".

Our agent tried to get us in to see it Monday but they wanted more notice. So we arranged to see it Tuesday.

I wasn't feeling good about it. That's a lot of land. And it was a mobile home. I'm not opposed to mobile homes, but if I'm buying one, I want it to be new, you know?  They don't usually hold up over the years like a house.  And the reason we hadn't found it on our searches was that it was $30k more than I was comfortable with.

I was so nervous all day Tuesday. I had no doubt Bill would fall in love with this place. And I didn't want to crush his hopes.  I ran some numbers through a mortgage calculator and after discovering how minimal the taxes were on the property, it seemed like it was actually in our price range payment - wise. I didn't get a chance to verify it with our mortgage lady though, so it was only slightly comforting.

We got there Tuesday and the realtor wad running late. We wanted around the yard a bit and a woman came out of the house. The owner was there. I wasn't sure how to feel about that but she was very nice. She is in her 60s and moving back home to England. She does remodeling and interior design for a living so the inside of the house was amazing. If I hadn't been told it was a mobile home, I would never have guessed.  And it was a triple - wide so it was enormous.

They raised horses and miniature donkeys so there are barns and pastures and an arena. Gorgeous. Absolutely beautiful. There wasn't a single thing we could come up with that was even iffy.  Bill, who nit picked every took tiny aspect of every other house had nothing negative at all. In fact, I can't remember the last time I saw him look so happy.

The owner was just hilarious. We talked to her for way too long. Don't think that she was some sweet British granny.  She was firey.  Bright artificial red hair, snappy and sarcastic. I loved her.

So we left. I promised Bill I would call the mortgage lady as soon as I got home. I did and my calculations were pretty accurate. We really could afford it and it was within our approved amount, so I called up our realtor and told her we were ready to make an offer.

Two excruciatingly long days later, they have accepted!  We asked for them to leave the really nice fridge (French doors, drawer freezer) and their gorgeous dining room set, making sure they knew it wasn't a deal breaker if they didn't want to, but they agreed. Then they negotiated a later closing date in return for also leaving us their top of the line front load washer and dryer. Plus they are putting in a new stove (because the oven handle is broken... their decision, not our request).

I feel like we won the lottery! We won't close until July but that's fine. I get a beautiful house that is bigger and nicer than I had hoped for and Bill has room to put cows in the future. This is what we hoped to be able to have SOMEDAY, but never thought we could have NOW. All because our real estate agent made a wrong turn.

I am so excited!  I can't wait to show off our new home!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Great Hunt

I think I mentioned before that we are in the process of buying a house. This is a brand new experience for us. We've been in our current rental house for 5 1/2 years and after getting the treadmill and having absolutely no where to put it but the living room, I realized we are so far past having outgrown this place it's ridiculous. I discovered our house is less than 1000 sq ft.  It's no wonder I have a constant feeling of claustrophobia.

So I mentioned to Bill that I wanted to look into buying our own home. We had talked about it for a while as a "in a few years" kind of thing. He said to start with the financial aspect first. We didn't want to find THE HOUSE and then have problems securing a loan. So I made a few calls and was immediately pre-approved for the amount we were looking at spending. It was kind of surreal. We've been through some tough financial times in years past, neither of us really were prepared to have an answer that quickly. Yes, things are much better for us now. And we have little debt since both our vehicles are paid off, but it was still a pleasant shock.

So the hunt has begun.

It's the most frustrating and fun experience. I take turns being insanely excited, horribly disappointed, and wanting to run over Bill with our car.

Due to our schedules, we can only look at houses once a week. Monday afternoon. So I spend all week obsessing over the houses we find until we get to see them in person. And we really can't decide if we want to sacrifice some of the things we are looking for in order to keep the girls in their current school. Bill wants a big yard, preferably more than a  acre. That's not going to happen in our current area so the girls stay in their school.

He wants land. A garage. I want 4 bedrooms and enough space to have my own craft area. It's not easy to find all of that.

Week 1, we lined up 5 houses. Bill had his favorite, which I wasn't thrilled about. But we found out the school district they'd be in had a reputation for being very racist and homophobic. Not ideals we want our kids to be exposed to more than necessary. So we cut that house out before we saw it.

House #1 looked very promising in pictures. Only 3 bedroom but had an attic that we could finish for a 4th. We got there and the yard was itty bitty.  The house was small. The kitchen was wrecked and our first thought upon seeing the garage was "meth lab".  We left.

House #2.  Dubbed "The Chicken Coop" (we seem to have started a habit of nicknaming houses).  3 bedroom.  Large yard with, you guessed it, a chicken coop. But the house felt cramped. Bill loved it. I talked him out of it because I can't go from one cramped house to another.

House #3. Huge house with a finished basement. Big yard. Tons of room. Stinky. Water damage in basement and it felt like a dungeon. Not well cared for. Disappointment.

House #4. 3 BR with a big yard and a pool. I loved the house. It was perfect. Bill hated it for no real reason. I was so mad at him.

Surprise house... "The Yellow House" We found a house in the midst of looking at the others. A very unique looking yellow house. I have always wanted a yellow house. The realtor managed to get us in to see it that day. I loved it. Bill found a million things wrong with it. Punk.

So, no luck. We spend another week combing through listings and lined up 3 more. One of which we both had very high hopes for.

House 1... The house we knew would be "the one"... Sucked. It had a lot of issues. I was crushed.

House 2... "The Secret Passage House" I didn't have high hopes for this one but it had everything we wanted. Large yard, garage, 4 BR, in the school zone. But it wasn't well cared for and needed a new floor in the kitchen. Not new flooring.... there was a spot that felt like it was going to send us crashing into the basement. But the house was a lot of fun to look at. It had a secret passage from the basement into the bathroom of the master bedroom. It just needed too much work for the price.

House 3... Nice house. Small yard. 4 BR. In the school zone. But for the square footage, it just felt tiny.

After talking to the realtor, we went to look at two more. The houses were perfect but the yards were tiny.  One house had a manhole cover in the middle of the back yard. The other was so close to the other houses around that you could practically look in their windows.

No luck again.

We have 4 lined up for tomorrow. I'm trying to keep a level head but I'm so in love with one of them. Have been from the start but we hadn't seen it yet because it's a longer commute to work for me. It's dubbed The Monkey House. 2.5 acres in the country. Beautiful A- frame 2 story log cabin. Only 3 bedrooms but it has an unfinished basement. It even has a yellow door. (The whole house has been decorated with a jungle theme and the realtor says they have a real live monkey... hence the nickname) I am beyond excited to see this house.  Then we also will see The Guest House (it really has a guest house),  Boot Lick (reminds me of Deliverance but Bill wants to go look), and That Other Log Cabin (self explanatory).

Cross your fingers for me. My nerves can't take months of house hunting. I'm ready to MOVE!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dead Last.

It's the been wanteda while, huh? I've been super preoccupied lately. We've decided to buy a house and I'm a little obsessed. That should give me plenty to blog about when we get through it all. It's such an exciting, frustrating experience.

Yesterday I completed my 5th half marathon, the RussVegas Half. I was supposed to do it with my sister, but she cut her foot on the beach in Hawaii last week and felt she shouldn't do the half since it wasn't healed. I'm totally jealous of the "on the beach in Hawaii" part. So I went alone, which totally doesn't bother me. I love doing races with my sister but I enjoy them alone, too.

I wanted to try to get to the early start but Russellville is over an hour away and I was lucky to drag myself in at 7:30 am on a Saturday as it was. It didn't take long for me to realize that this time I really was THE last person. I could see the shadow of the motorcycle patrolling the trail of the race as he put -putted along behind me. And it wasn't like I was just a few steps behind the people in front of me either. At one point they were at least 1/4 mile ahead. I pushed so hard to keep a good pace to try to catch up. I couldn't run... I registered as a walker.

But, let me tell you something... last isn't bad. I felt really self conscious at first. Who wants to be last? But I swear, the support thrown your way by the people cheering along the way and at the water stations is like you are a rock star.  Maybe because they are glad they are done once you pass.  Kidding.  I mean, some of them were, but the encouragement felt totally real.

There was a stretch of the course around mile 8 where the racers on mile 11 passed you. This was the best part. By that point, all that pushing I did trying to not be TOO far behind was catching up with me. I was honestly questioning if I could finish. I just didn't feel good. All I could think about was sitting down. My feet were starting to hurt and my back was killing me. Then I came to that stretch. So many runners were yelling encouragement my way. More than I could count went out of their way to high five me. "You've got this!" "You're doing great! " and, the one that probably carried me the rest of the way - "Don't you dare stop!"

Around mile 9, I finally, FINALLY passed someone!  They were early starters, so I felt a little bad about it, especially at being so happy about it.  I was really slowing down though, so I ate a Gu, which someone had passed out a few miles back.  It was vanilla, and tasted like I was squirting icing in my mouth and made me gag.  But it helped a little. Mile 12, I saw this hill approaching and wanted to cry. The course had been really flat. Why must they put the hills toward the end?  I wimpered my way up it and kept dreaming of sitting down.  I was swearing at myself for doing this race. Telling myself I was never, ever doing another one. I was fighting tears. I've never felt so awful at the end of a race.

My time was 3:39.  Not my worst, which surprised me. I got some fluids and an apple in me and felt better. Left, got some lunch and drove home.

I totally am not quitting my halves, don't worry. My Dad thinks I'm crazy after seeing me hobble around today and seeing my blisters. And he's right. I'm Half Crazy!

Plus, I can't quit now.  I just paid my dues for Half Fanatics!!!!! 

Next up:  Soaring Wings 10/25.  Last year's time is my worst time so far and it's a hilly course so I'm just hoping to beat last year's time, not worry about a PR.

Even the King wanted a picture with me LOL

Saturday, April 5, 2014

2014 Bentonville Running Festival Half-Marathon

I still haven't blogged about our Branson trip, and I will, but I thought I'd get my race recap out of the way while it was still fresh on my mind.

The first of two half-marathons this month... I picked this one because I have a friend that lives in Bentonville.  The plan was that the girls and I would spend the weekend with her and she'd keep the girls for me while I did the race.  Bentonville is a 3 hour drive from my house, so it's not a race I can just get up early for and make the drive the day of.  If I hadn't had a friend in town, I never would have even considered it.

But.

My friend's daughter caught pneumonia.  We hoped she'd get better in time, but she was still pretty sick by mid week, so we decided that me and the girls staying at their house wasn't a good idea.  Which left me with a dilemma.  I couldn't drive up the day of, and I couldn't take the girls with me with no one to watch them.  So I reached out and another friend of mine offered to keep them overnight for me.  I booked a hotel room in Bentonville.  Problem solved!

The next plan was for me to get off of work, check the girls out of school, take them to my friend, then hit the road.  It left me very little room for error....  I get off of work at 1:30.  Half an hour to my friend's house from school.  Packet pickup ended at 6pm, and it's a 3 hour drive as I said.  I was hoping to get on the road by 2:30, to be in Bentonville by 5:30.  I got to the school and it took 20 minutes to finally round up the girls and get out of there.  Ridiculous.  I still could make it.  But I had to get gas, get the girls settled in.... it was creeping up on 3pm before I hit the road.  I would just barely make it, but I could still make it.

Then, not even 20 miles out of town, traffic came to a dead stop.  It took 20 minutes to go the few miles to get around the accident.  There was no way I could make it, and - of course - despite having used the bathroom before leaving my friend's house, I needed a pit stop. 

During my potty break I emailed the race people and explained what was going on and they told me what I needed to do to pick my packet up in the morning before the race.  Disaster averted!

I made it into town about 6:30, feeling like my bladder was going to explode.  It's not like I was guzzling water, and I never have to pee that frequently, but of course I had to when it was totally not convenient.  Then I realized I had printed out directions to the packet pickup location, not the hotel.  Smartphone to the rescue.  I GPS'd my way to the hotel. 

I checked into my hotel room....



I had a king size bed and 5 pillows all to myself!  A night of just me... no one else... no TV, no talking.  Just pure peace and quiet.  It was divine.

I got up at 5am, changed into my race clothes, found some breakfast, and headed out to find the place to pick up my packet.  I've only been to Bentonville once and we didn't really explore town then, so I had no clue where I was going.  Thank goodness for the GPS yet again.  Of course, the route it picked for me included part of the race course, which was closed, so it wasn't as helpful as I hoped for, but I found a place to park for the race.  Which turned out to be almost half a mile from my destination.  I had to walk to get my packet, walk back to the van, then walk back to the starting line.  I really was thinking that if I believed in omens, I probably should just walk away.  Go home.  But, I didn't.


My shoe charm says "Sole Sister"... my sister has one, too.

I had hoped that at packet pickup, had I made it in time on Friday, that I would talk to someone about the early start, since I was a walker.  The 3:15 pacer started early, and I knew I wouldn't cross the finish line before that.  Yes, I could finish the race in the 4 hours, but I thought an early start would at least let me get home earlier.  But, since I was late, I couldn't do that.

Almost immediately, I felt like EVERYONE had passed me.  There were very few walkers.  I imagine most of them took the early start.  The policemen on bikes were circling around the last few of us.  I was honestly afraid to look behind me, to confirm that I was last.  I just walked.  Someone has to be last, and I was going to do this race regardless of where I was in the pack.

Bentonville is a beautiful town.  I never take my phone out to take pictures during a race, because it slows me down, but I took 3 pictures today.



Hay sculptures.  I tried to get both of them in the picture, but apparently failed.  I thought they were so cute and clever.

We passed an old cemetery, and it was probably my favorite part of the course.  Not only was it really pretty, but the signs were great.




(No, it really wasn't.  LOL)

We passed the Waste Water Treatment Facility, too, but that was neither beautiful or fun.  It was smelly.

I was getting really excited towards the end.... my pace was excellent.  I was under a 16 minute average.  Barely, but still.  With just one mile left to go, I just knew I was going to end with a sub-16:00 pace.  Then... the hill.  I had heard mention of The Hill.  But didn't think too much of it.  Ha!  I do not know how ANYONE could run up that hill.  Seriously.  By the time I made it to the top, and for a minute I wasn't sure I would, I had a stitch in my side (I'm walking, remember?), I couldn't breathe, and I thought I might have to visit the first aide station conveniently placed at the top.  It was insane.  They had cardboard figures of the race director dressed up like Satan along the way.  I'm really not exaggerating.  It was killer. 

And it killed my pace.  I tried to recover as best I could, but it just wasn't in me.  I finished in 3 hours, 33 minutes.  Two minutes faster than my first half last year, 12 minutes faster than my second half, and it's hard to compare to the last half I did since they diverted me and I lost half a mile.  My pace was 16:23.  So, I did get a new personal best =)  And I definitely was not last ;)

I crossed the finish, got my medal, and pretty much immediate walked the half a mile back to the van, wishing I had parked closer every step of the way (and GPSing it again as I had no clue where the van was in relation to the finish, even though it was fairly close to the start, but I have zero sense of direction), and drove back home.


It's hard to see, but I wrote "x 4" in the dirt next to my sticker



Aside from the stinky waste water facility and the evil hill, this was probably my favorite half-marathon yet.  There were so many people out cheering us on, staying until even the slow-pokes like me.  Water stations galore, never more than 2 miles apart and that was rare.  At times it was every mile.  And the scenery was gorgeous.  I'll definitely do it again.

I'm tired.  I'm sore.  I have an epic blister on my left foot.  And now that I've written this, I am going to bed.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Plans

So I'm feeling much more like myself lately. Which is awesome!  Work is a total 180 from a few months ago. I now work with two of the funniest ladies ever and laugh every day. Like stomach hurting kind of laughter. It's great.

Spring Break is this week and we are actually taking a real honest - to -God vacation. Not our normal cabin in a state park vacation where I still have to cook and clean the whole time!  We leave for Branson in the morning. We are staying in a resort with an indoor water park. We plan to visit the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Odditirium and The Butterfly Palace. And... I am going ziplining.  No one else wants to go but Bill said go for it. I'm terrified of heights so I'm not really sure why I want to do this so badly. LOL. I'll probably post a million pictures because I got my camera repaired and will take a billion pictures I'm sure!

After we get back, I have a half marathon April 5th. I'm going to go visit a good friend for the weekend who lives up where the race is. I'm excited about that as well. It will be #4.  April 26 (Isabelle's birthday) will be my 5th.  Having three half marathons so close together will qualify me to join Half Fanatics, and I'm stoked about that, too.

Last weekend Bill sent me a text, a picture of the December calendar.  I had no idea why he would send me that so my response was "??"  LOL  He sent back a zoomed in picture of the last week of the month where it said "Bill off" with the caption "Be ready. "  Still confused, I asked what I needed to be ready for.  He said, "Don't you have a race that week?"  I could have screamed into the phone, I was so shocked and so happy!  He took off of work for us to go to Texas so I can do the New Years Double.   A half marathon on New Years Eve.... follows by a half marathon New Years Day.   The medals are AMAZING!  It's a big challenge, obviously. But I totally have time to train.  My sister and I wanted to do it but neither of us thought our husbands would be on board for it.  But we were wrong!  I only mentioned it to Bill once, as a "it would be so cool to do this" kind of thing.  I didn't beg or nag or anything!  

Needless to say, I have a lot to look forward to!

In other obsessive news, my crochet business is creeping along.  Not booming as it was at the beginning of the year but I've been steadily working on dolls.  I'm ok with that.  I have a lot of personal projects I want to do as well and it's hard to balance it all.  The business is for fun so I don't really want to be so swamped that I can't do anything else.  My mood blanket is coming along but I am really bored with it so I may be taking it a different direction come April.   I'll update more on that after I finish up March.  

Hope everyone has a great week!  Look for a Spring Break post soon!

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