Thursday, January 31, 2008


Look who took a tumble down the stairs . . .

No loss of consciousness or abnormal pupils. But there was much finger pointing, and even an accusation of pushing. I guess I should be more upset than this, but since she is the third child of mine that has now displayed a bump reminiscent of a rhino horn, I'm chalking it up to just part of being a child. At least it is when you have a mother that someone should have called CPS about years ago.

Looks like 2008 is going to be another year without the Mother of the Year award. And so early on too.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Our New Home

Well? What do you think? Gorgeous, no? Yea, I know, looks like a bunch of scrub, except for that one stubby Cedar in the front. But soon, hopefully very soon, there will be a house in there somewhere. And the farther back on the lot you walk, the taller and older the trees get.
Sunday, Vince and I decided to take a drive out to our lot and let the kids run around and get used to our new location. Since we were unceremoniously bumped from Lot 49, we thought we let the kids (and us) investigate our new location. I think I'm going to like the change. I already mentioned the lack of headlights, and neighbor in the back, but Lot 69 has more trees, and room to roam.

The first thing we came across was kind of gruesome. Well, not as gruesome as it could have been, but still. Gick.

We walked to the back of our backyard and did a little investigating.

Vince tried recapturing his youth, and climbed a tree.

The kids had a great time playing, and looked like they were at the beach digging around. Francesca even ate a little dirt. Ugh!

So far, we're the only house on the street, even though we're not actually there yet. We heard there is a family building across the street from us, but from the looks of things, they've gotten about as far as we have. So, so far there isn't much to see.

Facing our lot looking left is our one neighbor, way over there. And actually there isn't anyone there yet, the house is still for sale.
Those are the people who's backyard will butt up against the front part of our side yard. Whoever they may turn out to be.

And Chris, our builder, called Vince today to give him our new address. We're no longer Lot 69. We're now 1*% Antler Ridge Court. (No I'm not posting my address on the internet.) Teasingly, I told Vince I didn't like it. 1*% just didn't sit well with me, they'd have to change it. He asked, "What do you want it to be? Number 4 Privet Drive?" How cool would that be? "What's your address? Oh. Mine is Number 4 Privet Drive". Call the county, see if they'll change it. And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you're just not as big a geek as I am.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Good-Bye Lot 49

Oh yea Lena, thanks for asking. I hope your chair is comfy, this is going to be a long one.

Sunday came and went without any word from either our realtor or our builder. I was feeling pretty alright with the situation. Giving myself the old, "everything happens for a reason". Or as my friend Alayne told me, "You just weren't meant to have that lot". Whatever, apparently there are a quite a few things I'm just not meant to have, things that I think I really, really want. Gah.

But anyway, Monday Vince got the call from our builder telling him that yes, the lot sold. And no, there wasn't anything we could do about it. She told him something about our request to hold the property being verbal, and the other people having an actual contract on paper before ours, blah, blah, blah. So yes, TTMW did act without integrity, honor, or any sense of decency, but no, there wasn't anything we could do about it legal or otherwise. Other than hide outside her office, rush her when we see her heading out to her car, and bitch slapping her. But that probably would lead to some other legal action, of which I want no part. Once I got the official news, I was so angry. Not sure at who to be angry, but angry anyway. Close to tears angry. My beautiful one-acre, outside corner, pie-shaped, heavily treed lot - gone.

So Vince called me around 3:00pm on Monday with the news. I started looking at the plat map we had trying to figure out what our options were. The lots I liked were too sloped and would takes a lot of money to backfill them to even get them ready to build on. I really liked lot 67 and lot 66, but they were very, very slopey. "Down in the holler", as Vince would say. Some other lots that looked great on paper were under these huge power lines. All I could think was EMF's and brain tumors. The others were already taken. I did not like what I was seeing.

Vince wanted to take immediate action and get out and look at lot 69, the other lot he was considering. To take advantage of the quickly waning daylight, I woke napping babies, ditched Sophia's residual school work, grabbed some juice, cocoa, graham crackers and two packs of whole-wheat saltines (those things are strangely popular around here), and packed up the kids for the one and one-half hour drive out to Azle to look at the other lot, the more expensive lot. The more expensive lot that we were offered for the same money, much to our builder’s surprise because she said the owner hasn't accepted a $0.01 less than asking price on anything else so far. I'm thinking he knows his realtor acted out of line and was trying to appease us. Oh, and we're dealing directly with him now. TTMW got cut out of the deal. I guess there is a little justice in the world.

So I begrudgingly took off to Fort Worth to meet Vince at work so we could go to Azle together. The whole time I’m thinking, “Fine, I’ll pretend I’m a reasonable person. I’ll go, and I’ll look, and I’ll even pretend I’m considering it, but I’m not going to like it. It’s long and skinny. And three other lots back up on it’s left. I don’t care if it’s bigger, I don’t care if we’re “getting a deal”. It’s not my lot, I’m not going to like it, I don’t want it." I was wondering how long I was going to have to walk around to make this look convincing.

We got to the development with about fifteen minutes of daylight left. I asked Vince if he would mind if I got out of the car and walked around the lot to get a feel for it. See, I’m good at pretending to be a reasonable person. It was cold, and had rained earlier that day, but I trudged on. I found a bit of a path on the left side of the lot, the side that three other people’s backyards will back up to, and I started walking. I walked, and walked, and lost sight of the car. I kept walking, and walking, and finally saw, way back there, a stake in the ground with pink ties on it marking the back property line of the lot. Wow, the lot was deep. And the back left corner met the back right corner of the lot we originally came to see that brought us to the Deer Creek Development in the first place. And I loved lot 73. Loved it! It was pie shaped even. But the house was just too small for us. Then I realized that on the three lots that back up to the side, you can’t even see the houses. The houses, or I should say house because only lot 70 has a structure on it so far, are built way in the front of the property. I mean who wants to pay for all that concrete for an extra long driveway? Concrete is expensive these days. So I started thinking, “Who cares about the three neighbors on one side, if the neighbors are way over there?. And wow this lot goes back forever, and the trees.” There were so many trees, more than on lot 49. I kept expecting a deer to step out in front of me or something. I kept hearing little scurrying noises, and a twig snap now and then. I know deer don’t scurry, but it was kind of unnerving and I’m not an outdoorsy kind of person, but I thought the kids would dig it.

Starting to feel my stubbornness ebb, I walked back to the front of the lot, to the only place where I could actually walk the width of the lot without going through forest, to see just how narrow the lot was. 125 feet was too narrow on paper. I didn't like the look of it. But in person, 125 feet didn’t seem too narrow. Not as narrow as I thought it would anyway. Especially with there not being a house directly on the left. Those backyards butting up to the left of the property turned out to be a good thing, space wise anyway. Then I started thinking about the placement of the lot in relation to the street. Lot 49 was at the end of the street where it turned to end in a cul-de-sac. So while there would not be many people driving past the house, those few who did would have their headlights shining straight into our house. Not good. Plus there was the fact that even though I liked the pie shape of the lot, it wasn't very deep and there was a house built just beyond the back property line that wasn't part of the Deer Ridge development, and was therefore older and let's just say, less attractive. Geez, when did I get so snobby? So maybe I was just trying to talk myself out of something I could no longer have, but I began to appreciate that lot 69 was so deep, it wouldn't matter what was behind our back property line, because I wouldn't be able to see it anyway. And since lot 69 is after the turn to a cul-de-sac and on the inside corner, that meant no bright headlines shining into our house.

So short story long, we're going with lot 69. And while it is narrower than I would like, I think it's going to work well for us. And if I had all the money in the world, I would have liked to have had lot 67. But I just can't see paying $24K for a lot, then putting another $30 into it, just to get it ready to build on. I mean, if we had money like that, I'd probably build my 6,000 sq. ft. home in the Rolins Hills Estates, just down the road, where a one acre lot goes for $100K. But, they have an equestrian center. So, don't you think it's worth it?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Problems Already?

First, some facts:
Our builders = Salt Creek Custom Homes
Salt Creek Custom Homes = Chris and Jim (Or maybe it's Tim. I know, that's terrible, but I'm terrible with names, and I just can't seem to get it straight).
Our development = Deer Creek Estates
Deer Creek Estates = 1 acre minimum lots, in a gated community, in Azle Texas
Deer Creek Estates Real Estate Rep = That Trouble Making Woman (TTMW) or otherwise called "that Bee-auch"
Azle Texas = 16 miles NW of Fort Worth

Now, for my story:
Last Saturday, us and Chris, met at the title company to sign all the paperwork, contracts, and turn over our earnest money. All the "t's" were crossed, and all the "i's" were dotted, and we were all very excited. After signing our life away, we even drove over to "our lot" and let the kids run around and have a good old time collecting bits of dried up flowers, twigs, and hide behind trees. They had a blast. They returned to the car all pink cheeked and happy. But a day or two ago Vince got a call from Chris to let us know of a "potential problem". The week before everything was signed, Chris called, and had to leave a message for, TTMW to let her know that we were interested in building on Lot 49. Chris told her everything would be signed the following weekend, and would she please put that lot on hold. Then this week when Chris contacted TTMW to get the property purchased for us, the Bee-auch informed her that she already wrote a contract on that lot just that week. Our lot was sold right out from under us. Yea, I'd call that a potential problem alright. Now Chris thinks that this agent is just messing with her, apparently they have a "history", and this agent is less than pleasant to deal with. So either TTMW is messing with Chris, and therefore also us, or she worked her hardest to make sure she sold the lot Chris asked her to hold. Just to spite her, Chris believes. So Chris contacted the property owner, who is in California for the week, and explained to him the situation. There was another lot Vince was considering, but it was $4K more, so he and our builders decided on the one we just lost, maybe. I say "maybe" because the owner will be back in Texas at the end of this week, and I guess he'll get things straightened out and we'll have more info by Sunday. But the one thing that was resolved was that if Lot 49 is gone, Salt Creek and the Deer Creek Estates owner agrees to each eat $2K, and we could have the other lot for the same price. While I should be grateful, it just doesn't seem like Salt Creek should have to eat anything. I like them, and it doesn't sound to me like they did anything wrong. Now the other lot is 1.48 acres, compared to Lot 49's 1.00 acre. And I know it's not the end of the world, there are plenty of other lots to be had. There are even plenty of other developments to be had. But I liked Lot 49. It was bluntly pie shaped, and had lots of pretty trees, and would have had a great view from upstairs. I talked myself in to it, and let myself get excited. So is this going to be the first of many glitches? I mean, ground hasn't even been broken yet. Or is this just one of those things? And while I'm still of the opinion that trying to sell a house is much more stressful and emotionally straining, and I thank God daily that we sold our house, and we're not trying to sell something in this market (honestly we really did get out just in time), it's turning out that trying to buy/build a house is no walk in the park either. Where's the joy? *Sigh*

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Welcome Home

Today Vince had the honor of doing something I've been wanting to do for a while. As a group, the veterans from his work went over to the DFW Airport, and got to welcome home our service men and women from Iraq. I'm not talking about supporting the war, the politicians, the Iraqi people, etc., etc. I'm talking about supporting the men and women who leave their homes, their families, and the safety of their country. They put their personal beliefs and safety aside, put their lives on the line, and do the job they signed on to do. Their sacrifice is great, and they deserve our respect and our gratitude. No matter how you feel about this war, for or against, I can't think of a better way to spend an hour or two. I read about this somewhere, that DFW is one of the most heavily visited airports for doing this.

Today 121 soldiers, sailors, and one marine came home to the DFW area. I asked if they looked happy to be greeted, and Vince said they did. Happy, surprised, even embarrassed. Being the big baby that I am, I couldn't even listen to him tell me about it without tearing up. Vince said he kept it together, but really had a hard time when he saw one soldier meet his baby daughter for the first time. A little blond, round cheeked three month old. The thing that bothered Vince was that he noticed this new father had a small knapsack, which meant he would be returning to the middle East after only two weeks R&R. I would have been bawling. Vince said the families line up first, the veterans form a line up against the wall and get to shake the hand of each service man/woman who comes off the plane. Then groups of children and everyone else get to greet them. Vince also said there were the "Greeting Grannies", in their hand knitted patriotic sweaters, who give each one a hug, and are there everyday we have service people coming home.

Then Vince told me after everyone debarked, his group went to Gate 14. Gate 14 is where our servicemen are waiting for flights to go back. I asked him how they seemed, and he said they seemed anxious, almost eager. Like they couldn't wait to get back. They have a sense of duty, and have brothers waiting for their return, they have a job to do. He said he knew how they felt.

Welcome Home and Thank You!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Chatty Kathy

I think the fact that I just spent two and a half hours on the phone with a friend screams for my need for some adult interaction. Not that kind of "adult interaction", Vince would be more than happy to oblige. Just some good ol' -sit down with your friends and chat- interaction. And the two and half hours was on my cell phone. Ugh! Good thing Vince just upgraded our Verizon account. And all because Sophia left her sweater at the baptism party and my friend wanted to let me know she had it. Poor thing, she didn't know what she was getting herself into. I bet quite a bit of time will pass before she dare call me again.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Man, Why You Gotta Hate?

The house hunting is over.
We're having a house built.
The contracts are before us, the costs are in, the financing is all lined up. And when it's all said and done, I'm getting what I want, and Vince is getting what he wants. We're having a five bedroom, 3 1/2 bathroom house built on a one acre lot, in a very nice gated, yet rural area that is a forty minute commute for Vince.
We're getting to pick out the brick/stone, the flooring, the paint colors, lighting fixtures, appliances, the cabinets, the granite, etc, etc. The builders have pushed out walls, converted rooms, and pretty much done what we've wanted to make us happy.
The new year is here, Vince is doing well at work, the kids are happy and healthy, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and all is right in our world. It's a time for celebration. And yet. And yet.
We attended a baptism yesterday for one of our friends newest additions, and even people we've met through these friends wanted the latest news on our house quest. One of the people there was our realtor, so maybe that made the topic fresh on their minds. We did not bring the subject up.
Everyone there knows what we've been through what with all our stuff being stolen, it taking so long for Vince to find work, being screwed by AAA, and I think they all were just genuinely happy for us. All but one couple. And the thing that bothers me, the thing that boggles my mind, is that this couple is one of our original "friends". A couple we knew from California. A couple we've knows for five years. And nothing, absolutely nothing, positive can come out of their mouths when the topic is us building a house.
When the topic first came up about us thinking about just having something built, her response was that it would take at least nine months, and most likely a year. I told her the builders said they could have a house completed for us in four months. She almost laughed at that, then went on to tell me that when she was having her house built it must have sat there for weeks, just waiting for the inspector to come by before work could be continued. Then when something wasn't right, the whole process would start all over again, and weeks would pass before the inspector would come out again. I dropped the subject. That was over a month ago.
The second time she asked if we had found a house, and that's always how it goes, the question is never positive or supportive, it's always, "So, have you found a house yet?" I told her we found a custom home builder in the area that we liked, but I was afraid the spec house was too small. Her response was, "Oh yea, you need a bigger house than that. You'll be miserable." Now maybe that was her trying to be supportive, but it didn't come across that way.
Then yesterday, one of the women at the baptism luncheon asked when the builders would start breaking ground. With my realtor/friend standing right there, I responded that I thought it took about four weeks to get the paperwork/permits lined up once we signed off on everything and groundbreaking begun. Then the house was supposed to be done 120 days from the time ground breaking started. The husband half of the "friends", piped up about how we have to be careful because his neighbors lot sat there empty for five weeks, without any activity, because someone didn't pull the right permits. Before I could say a word, our realtor jumped in telling him that we were having a "custom" home built, and it's not at all the same thing. He responded that they had a "..." custom home built, and it took almost a year for their house to be built. She retorted that we're not dealing with a mass produced home builder in a subdivision. We dealing with a private custom home builder who only builds one, maybe two, houses at a time, and they are on the building site at all times. Those mass produced builders aren't even in their trailers most of the time, etc, etc. She shut him down fast.
Now a huge part of me was grateful that she was there to back us up, because honestly I'm sick and tired of being made to feel that everything we have/do is inferior.
Then another part of me was angry. Why are some people like this? Why can't they just be happy for someone else? Why is everything a threat? A competition? He has stated that he wouldn't work for twice what Vince makes, that's just too little money. We don't drive $70K cars, our kids don't attend private school, we don't go on extravagant vacations every year or so. Why can't we just have this one thing? And why can't they just be happy for us that we've reached an agreement between what will work for Vince, what will work for me, and what will work for our budget. We're not snobby. This is not about "having a house built". We'd be perfectly happy buying a house that was already built, even an older house, as long as it would suit our family. The problem was that we weren't finding that. We lived in a 1972 ranch style house for eight years that was a constant construction zone it needed so much work. Why should we buy something that's not going to work for us, when we can have one built that will? And if it does end up taking nine months, at least we'll have what we want at the end of those nine months. We're not going to buy something now, just to buy something now. Not even in this market. These are our "friends"?
Then a part of me is sad. Obviously we wouldn't have wasted five years with these people if they truly were terrible people. They're not terrible people. They're usually pleasant to be around, very social, nice to our kids. And because of them, we've made friends with couples here in Texas that we've met through them.
Vince keeps telling me to stop trying to understand crazy. You just can't understand crazy.