It was meant to be

Posted On December 26, 2010

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The hobby farm has once again made its way back into our future.  Two days before
Christmas, the realtor called us to let us know that the buyer who had placed a non-contingent offer on the house, therefor bumping our contingent offer, could not (at the final signing) obtain financing.  He went on to tell us that the sellers would like us to re-engage in the buying process, if we were still interested.

My husband played the phone message for me as I sat there speechless.  I believe both of our hearts were rapidly beating in sync with excitement at the possibility of us getting a second chance at what we believed was always fate.

After picking up the pieces of our broken dreams from the first go around we decided that we were willing to try it again, hoping this was some sort of sign that it was meant to be.  Tomorrow we will put in another offer, again contingent on us selling our house and hope that in the meantime no non-contingent, cash buyers will come along.

From the moment we stepped foot on this property we had felt that this was it.  This would be the house that we would raise our daughter in and bury our dogs at. It’ll be an ultimate fixer-upper but when it’s complete our hopes are that this house will bring us more pride and joy than we could have ever imagined.  The possibilities are endless.

I spoke to a friend of mine in CA who also went through a similar experience.  She had fallen in love with a home only to have someone else’s offer accepted over hers. She was heartbroken, but had felt so strongly that the house was meant to be hers.  She told me that a month later when the house was suppose to close the buyer could not obtain financing and she was given a second chance.  She bought the house and now lives in it with her family.  She loves it there and said that it was just meant to be.

I can now only be reminded of a song my mother use to sing to me that went like this: Que sera, sera whatever will be, will be, the future’s not ours to see que sera sera.  This song was sang by Doris Day in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 film, The Man Who Knew Too Much.

I know the future is not mine to see, but with all my heart and soul I feel that owning this house will inevitably be a part of  my future.


It’ snot fun being sick: But there is one upside

Posted On December 9, 2010

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Today I am feeling sickly. Not just kind of–I am talking crawl under the covers sick. It amazes me how much snot one nose can produce. And why does it always start in one nostril only to move its way to the other three days later? I’d like it if it would just attack both at the same time, perhaps then the sniffles, snots and incessant dripping would seize in unison, instead of three days later, that would be nice.

So last night, my sinus issues escalated to a whole new level, an entire level down that is, into my chest. Now, not only do I have to deal with buckets of hankies, I get the joy of coughing–no, more like hacking on all the gunk that has invaded my chest. I feel like one of those Mucinex commercials where the green little goober of a guy has moved into my chest, if only I could evict him with Mucinex. I’ve tried all the over the counter meds and they do offer temporary relief, but what they don’t offer is a cure. I just want to feel 100% again.

So, in the meantime I endure a raw red and cracked nose, a pain in my chest every time I cough and the constant reminder that my semi-incontinent bladder (thanks to child-birth) may or may not be able to prevent me from peeing my pants when I sneeze or cough. Oh how I loathe being sick. But on the upside, I’ll be healthy for Christmas. And although I’d love to blame my sickness on living in Arctic Wisconsin, I know I can’t, because my entire family in California is sick too.

May you all have a very healthy holiday !

I live in a snow globe

Posted On December 9, 2010

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Tis’ the season for snow to fall. Like freshly spun cotton candy it sticks to the ground where visitors young and old, with two feet and four, make their presence known. Skiers and snow-lovers alike rejoice as powder falls from the sky. It’s the first significant snow of the season and the damage, thank God, is minimal–only a few inches.

I walk outside, barefoot and still in pajamas to greet my arch nemesis. You’re a little late this year, I comment. No answer.

My dogs, unable to contain their excitement, tear around the yard kicking up clouds of snowdust. The cool, wet snow sticks to their fur like burs before they can shake the dampness free.

Emerging from the laundry door, my very sick, but bundled up daughter is determined to build the first snow dog of the season before I can usher her back inside.

The winter air, regardless of the sun’s illuminating rays, numbs my fingers and toes. I retreat to the warmth of the house where I can watch glittering snowflakes dance and swirl on air streams. It is beautiful. And for a moment, I forget my long-standing 13-year rivalry. But, only for a moment. Then I remember, I live in a snow globe.

Just when it looks like the weather is warming, my world gets shaken upwards, downwards and sideways. Snow falls then accumulates, an allegiance has been formed–the sub-zero temperatures ensure its long standing survival.

In the meantime, a warmth-loving individual, like myself, slowly begins to wither away. Moisture is sucked from my face, hair and skin, only to evaporate into the thin, dry air. Color drains from my once sun-kissed cheeks, revealing a paleness that warrants the use of sunglasses to protect one’s eyes from the glare. My hair takes on new styles that only seem to increase in an unruly-height, as the static electricity multiplies in the air. And my skin on my legs rivals that of an alligator or cracked plaster, which ever is worse.

And as I wither, others will thrive in this dreary climate. It is moments like these that I long to sink my toes in the warm California sand, let the salt-licked breeze blow through my hair (an effect that can only be achieved in Wisconsin with hair products) and experience temperatures over 40 degrees in December.

Although I put on a smile so no one will see my disdain for the winter season, winter knows how I really feel–you were slow to come but don’t be slow to go–spring is rapidly approaching, or so I can hope.

The changing room: A great childhood memory of California

Posted On December 1, 2010

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The other day while speaking to my mother in California I asked her if, as a child, I had spent a lot of time at my grandparents house? She said, “yes,” that I had spent several days a week there while she was working. I brought this to her attention because it seems that from the time I was 5-years-old until I was 10, most of my memories were of time spent at their house.

As you probably already know from my previous posts, I am in the process of looking to move. One of my stipulations is that wherever I move, it has a pool, or, at least, the ability to put one in.

People living in Wisconsin question me all the time on this. “Why would you want a pool when you can only use it 4 months out of the year?”

As good of a question as it may seem, I’d want a pool if I could only use it 1 month out of the year. You see, my fondest memories growing up as a child stem from the time spent at my grandparent’s swimming pool. They use to say I was a mermaid, because I’d swim in it for hours.

In their backyard was a changing room. My grandmother shuttered at the idea of her grandchildren coming in the house with suits “drippy all over her floors,” she’d say. So my grandfather erected a small, blue changing room with a spring-loaded latch that insured privacy.

There were small hooks on the wall where line-dried bathing suits had taken on a beef jerky-like quality. Chlorine permeated the air leaving it thick and moist with the unforgettable smell of summer. There was no floor, just the coolness of the concrete, which felt refreshing on my hot, and little feet. Sunlight peaked through gaps where nails had managed to work their way free. And although it may have seemed scary to some five-year-olds, standing in the darkness of a small, claustrophobic, closet-like space, the ritual of stripping off a wet, clinging bathing suit–my mermaid suit or putting on a stiff, sun-dried one, was a ritual that meant I had either already had fun or I was about to embark on another underwater adventure.

The Smell of Love: Memories Remembered

Posted On December 1, 2010

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There he sits on a bookshelf, missing an arm and an eye from the years of love he had endured. His fur is now hard, crusty and matted, yet he is still drenched in the smell of his once furry friend–a large, fluffy white standard poodle named Abbey.

He was her baby. We called him Bear. Abbey would carry Bear with her to bed every night and wake him every morning with corn-cob-kisses, nibbling him with her front teeth. Bear had once contained a voice box that when squeezed, he would say, “I need a hug.” When squeezed a second time, he would grunt, “Thanks for the hug.” Abbey hugged Bear till his voice box finally gave out, and then it was up to me to mimic the sound.

She’d just go wild over that thing catching him in the air, then whipping him to the ground, then nibble nibble–more corn-cob-kisses.

When Abbey died three-years ago, I thought about cremating Bear with her. But I just couldn’t give him up as well. I figured, since I could no longer hold her, Bear would be the second best thing.

When I hold the crusty, one-eyed, one-armed stuffed bear, I bury my nose in his saliva-hardened fur and I can smell her warm, moist, stinky breath as if she was sitting by my side. I can hear her nibbles, the chattering of her teeth against the denseness of his fur sounded like the crunching of a corncob with the volume turned down. And while she nibbled, her angelic eyes would quickly divert from him to me. It was moments like these when she was in a perfect world of contentment.

Abbey was 10-years-old when she died. Her breath was not that of a puppy, more like that of rotting meat with sour milk, it was not good. But that was her, and she was love. The bear, for me, represents her love. It brings back the memories of the 10-years we spent loving her unconditionally, and in return, she showed Bear that same love–unconditionally.

My Worst Fear Came True

Posted On November 29, 2010

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Tuesday, November 23.  As I planned out rooms, landscaping and remodeling for the old 1860’s farmhouse, I am summoned by my husband to come into his office.  With a face as pale as a new full moon, he shakes his head in dismay.  An email from the realtor is opened on the screen. 

“We lost it.” He said.

“We lost what?” I asked.

“The house.” He said.

“Oh,” I said.  “We can find another one.  It’s OK.”

Trying to reassure my husband that I was OK, seeing that he was not, I left the office feeling sick.  I wanted to scream at the owners for taking another offer.  I knew this could happen, but  hoped it never would.  Now my worst fear had come true.

We struggled the entire day trying to cope with the news, trying to figure out if there was any way within the next 72 hours that we could drop our contingency to sell our house, thus denying the threat of the counter.  However, there was very little we could do. 

We could look into a bridge loan, which was very risky and advised against.  We could take off the house contingency and hope that our house sold and closed as originally agreed upon, if not, we would be in breech of our contract–big legal ramifications.  We could Google and call the seller and plead for more time–we did that.  It didn’t work.  We spoke with two real estate attorneys who both advised against removing our home contingency, so when all was said and done, on Thanksgiving day at exactly 3:42 pm we were notified that our 72-hours were up.  And I cried. 

I cried for my husband who had wanted it so badly and I cried for my hopes and dreams that had gone into the future of our family.  It was not the loss of a loved one, but it was a loss nonetheless. And one that warranted a little bit of salty secretion.

Determined, I have spent days looking for another “perfect” property, within our price range.  That’s the key.  Of course I could find million dollar properties that would suit the needs of my family–anyone could.  But finding the “perfect affordable” home, well that has proven to be difficult at the moment.  

But I remain hopeful thanks to the wise words of my hairdresser, “The only reason you didn’t get that house is because there’s a better one out there for you,” he said.  I love him for saying that.  That is my new motto when I filter through

I am still upset and feel completely betrayed by the sellers and the realtor, but at the same time I understand that they had had their property on the market for three years and it wouldn’t have mattered if I was their favorite daughter, they needed closure.  They needed to know that they would no longer have to maintain the property.  And that’s OK.

In the meantime, I am going to sell my house and I am going to find something better.  And, get this, it’s all going to happen simultaneously without any hiccups.  Why?  Becuase I know it will.  I can feel it.  It’s the power of optomistic thinking.  Not something I use very often but in this case I am giving it a try.  My next post regarding the house hunt should read “My wildest dream came true.”    Stay tuned.   Country living here I come.

The Waiting Game

My house has been on the market for approximately 14 days. Since then, we have had 8 showings. I am assured by family, friends and realtors that this is a positive sign and quite impressive, considering houses in our area generally sit for 8-12 months with sometimes as little as 3 to 4 showings over that time period.

The company we chose to represent us is a marketing maniac. Our house is showcased on their own TV channel, published in various magazines and newspapers and pops-up on numerous websites that display over 20 pictures of it along with a virtual tour, all of which were taken by a professional photographer. My father always said, “You get what you pay for.” I took his advice and couldn’t be happier with what I’ve seen so far, but it’s the waiting game that’s driving me crazy.

Keeping my house on stand-by for impromptu showings has turned me into an obsessive-compulsive mother and wife. “Don’t eat over the carpet! Take off your shoes! Did you wipe the dogs feet?” have become some of my daily rants. I don’t even feel like I can cook for fear that I’ll dirty the kitchen. My house is under scrutiny from discriminating buyers and the competition is fierce, so everything must look perfect—all the time—and it’s exhausting.

However, regardless of my efforts to keep an immaculate-looking house, I don’t have a typical house for my neighborhood. It’s not contemporary, nor is it traditional. Someone once referred to it a transitional. It’s open-concept, with a few outdated features such as a yellow-brick road in the entry, brass fixtures here and there, golden-oak everywhere (except the kitchen) and the killer—a Jacuzzi tub in the
master bedroom. No one likes the tub in the bedroom. Why couldn’t the builder have put it in the bathroom where it belongs? We toyed with the idea of ripping the eyesore out, but several people advised against it, saying someone will either love it or, they’ll rip it out. I don’t even like baths, but there it is and there it will remain.

On the upside: we completely remodeled our kitchen, substantially updated two downstairs bathrooms all with granite and stainless steel fixtures, and everyone seemingly loves the neighborhood. Not only that, we’ve had several people say it’s priced right. So, what gives? Why aren’t people writing offers? If only it were that easy.

Whether it’s the openness of the house, the outdated master bath, the fact that the only room upstairs is the master bedroom or the god-awful Jacuzzi tub that turns potential buyers away, my husband and I know that there will be only one buyer that appreciates the house as much as we did 12 years ago. If only that buyer would hurry up, so we could move into the very old, outdated, 12-acre hobby farm that remains contingent on us selling our current house, everything would be worth the effort.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas rapidly approaching, buyer traffic will quickly fade along with the warm air only to hibernate until spring. Until then, we can only sit, wait, and hope that someone else doesn’t come along and put in a non-contingent offer on the 12-acre hobby farm we hope to call our home. The waiting game—you never can quite tell what’s going to happen.

I Won!!!

Posted On November 4, 2010

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I never win anything.  Not only do I not win, but I have to deal with the fact that I spend my hard-earned money trying.  Well my luck has changed.  The other day I went to work only to see a table set up with twenty or so different themed gift baskets.  Taped to the table, in front of the baskets were little brown lunch bags.   Curious,  I meandered over.  The sign on the table indicated it was a fundraiser raffle, for what, I can’t recall.  Nevertheless, it was for a good cause.

The baskets were divided by the value of the prize .  The grand prize baskets were filled with prizes valued at $500 and up and the simpler baskets were valued at under $300.   Participants could buy grand prize raffle tickets at 5 for $20 or they could buy 10 for $20 for the simpler ones.  Not really liking the grand prize choices, I bought 25 tickets, 5 which were for the grand prize baskets.  I was excited at the prospect that I might win something, anything.  But I didn’t want to jink myself, so I played it off as if I’d only donated money to a good cause.

The following day my cell phone rang.  When I answered it the woman on the otherside announced that I had won a prize–and get this–A GRAND PRIZE, worth $550.  My $60 investment paid off–Big!  I felt as if it was a sign that I should buy a lottery ticket or something, but the little voice inside my head said don’t push it.

I proudly displayed the grand prize basket on my desk the entire day while fellow workers commented on how great it was.  I plan on giving the basket to my husband for Christmas.  It’s something I know he will appreciate, but more so, I don’t have to think about what I’ll buy him, it’s already been decided for me–Yeah!  In fear that he would find it, I’ve stashed it in my friend’s basement where I know it will be safe.  He has no idea that I won anything at all, which was extremely difficult restraining my excitement.  Instead, I called everyone I knew, just to get it out of my system.

The next time I see a raffle for a good cause, I am going to take out my wallet, lay out a few bucks and who knows, maybe I’ll win a car–that’s a prize I just might have to keep for myself.


For Sale: From the suburbs to the country

Posted On October 27, 2010

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Two weeks ago my husband and I made an offer to buy a 12 acre hobby farm located just 20 minutes from our suburbia home. The offer was countered, but eventually accepted under the contingency that we are able to sell our home within 120 days. Although I love my current home, the idea of having a little space to run around on some land is very appealing as is the ability to not have to look out a window only to see into the neighbors. But at what cost?

We recently found out, from a realtor, that as appealing as our house is to us and apparently to the curb, it may not be so appealing to potential buyers–we have a lot going against us.

  1. Homes over 400k are not selling.
  2. Partial updates may not be good enough.
  3. There is only one bedroom upstairs and that is the Master, the other 3 are downstairs–a unique floor plan we loved, but others may hate.
  4. The market is saturated with lower-priced homes, short sells and foreclosures (our home is none of these).
  5. Homes in this market generally take 9-12 months to sell (we don’t have that much time)
  6. And the kicker is–we can’t accept an offer on our house that is contingent on a potential buyer selling their’s.

These are the facts. Now, that our optimistic bubble has been popped. We can only hope that a qualified buyer will walk through the door and be so impressed by my attempt at staging he or she will make a worthy offer.

We also worry in the meantime that another buyer will make an offer on the hobby farm property without the contingency of selling their home and we will miss out.

No matter how high our hopes are that all this will happen in the time frame required, the reality is–it may not. Regardless, we have decided that we will keep our house on the market until it sells and if we miss out on the farmette then maybe it just wasn’t meant to be, but the least we can do is be ready for the next one.

She sells Sea shells

Posted On October 20, 2010

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Recently, my husband and I snuck away from our mid-west hustle and bustle to the coast of sunny and humid Florida.  A dear friend of ours was celebrating her 60th birthday and we were the big surprise.  We spent exactly 40 hours on the ground once our plane arrived.  Knowing we would have little time to venture, we booked a room at a beachfront hotel so I could get my beach fix before returning home. 

Feeling guilty that we had left our 9-year-old daughter at home with Grandpa, we decided to make up for it by collecting seashells.  So at 7 am, while the morning was still cool, we headed down to a beach in Sarasota.  There were so many shells I could hardly walk without one jamming in to the bottom of my tender Wisconsin feet.  If I still lived in California, this would not pose a problem, sand always seemed to toughen even the softest of  heels.

I sat in a mound of broken shells enduring the poking and prodding of my rear knowing I would find a shell in its entirety, the search for the perfect shell was on.  Using my hands like a snow plow, oh how I loathe the thought, but digging nonetheless, I came upon a shell that required a little shout out.  LOOK! LOOK! I yelled to my husband and anyone else passing by.  I found a perfect shell that was beautiful and BIG!!

It wasn’t a put it to your ear and listen for the ocean size, but it was about the size of an ear.  The soft, grey outside twirled around the shell from the top to the bottom.  And if I had a hermit crab, it would surely move out of its existing shell  just to try this beauty out.  Speaking of hermit crabs.  Determined to find a bigger better shell I decided to venture into the shallow, warm saltwater of the Atlantic.  Wow, this water was a lot warmer than California’s Pacific.  Feeling around with my foot I felt something quite large.  I stared at the water as the tide rushed in then out, just waiting for a moment of stillness so I could focus on the dark mass before I plunged my hand in for the unknown.

I knew it was either a rock or a shell so I reached down past my foot.  The object filled the palm of my hand.  As I held it high, once again demanding attention as if I just found a buried treasure, large, creepy-crawly legs began emerging from the soft white and coral colored shell.  Whoa, this ones alive I said to my husband as I ran and chased him with the friendly little fellow.  He’s not fond of anything that creeps or crawls.

After an hour or so, we had collected a respectful sized bag of shells, whole and broken, and definitely void of any living creatures.  My daughter appreciated our haul and the story of the big beautiful shell that we had to leave behind.

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