Two months? Really??

It doesn’t seem like it’s been two months since I’ve posted. Wow. I guess that’s what happens when you’re working your ass off day and night for two full months.

Not long after my last post we found a house. And not just any house. But a NICE house. A BIGGER house. An AWESOME house. And for the icing, a really cool landlord…. MEGA COOL! He’s totally OK with our dogs, my kids, our history, everything. He’s very laid back and made this transition from home owners to renters VERY easy. And for the cherry on top, we could afford it.

But wait! There’s more!

NONE of my kids had to change schools!!!

That alone was a gigantic relief. We’ve been looking for so so long for a house, trying to keep at least most of our kids in the same schools, but it was looking pretty grim. As the deadline started approaching for when we HAD to move out, we started looking for houses in other areas but still close and found nada. So this was a very lucky find!

The downstairs of this house is pretty much the same layout as our old house, except bigger. Our “big” sectional couch (it looked huge in our old family room) looks tiny in this house. 🙂 The upstairs is different… bigger… with an extra bedroom. The house has new appliances, central air (!!!!) and there’s a huge (GIGANTIC – park-sized) covered back patio, and a nice-sized fence yard. Best of all it’s the last house on a dead end street! Sounds too good to be true, huh? Yeah, that’s what we thought. But here we are! And we couldn’t be happier. The kids love it too!

There is one downside. It backs up to a semi-busy street. But there’s plenty of arborvitae to keep it totally private. We’re just having to get used to noisy cars. Jack and the kids say they don’t notice it anymore. I’m almost 100% used to it, but not quite there yet. I still wake up when big trucks go by at night.. Fortunately that’s not often as it’s not a SUPER busy street. After living in totally quiet areas for so many years it’s taking a bit to adjust but it’s all worth it for how awesome the rest of this house is.

So.. after we closed the deal for renting this place, we started packing right away and we moved in March 5th. The week after we moved in was pure madness with baseball practices, two choir concerts, a trip to Ellensburg and back in one night, a trip to the Dalles (I could go on and on). So we lived in box hell that whole week. The second week we got more unpacking done. Then last weekend we built mega-desk for our office. No more mismatched ugly press board desks. We have two big desks now that face each other to basically form one huge (mega) desk and a matching printer station. Ikea for the win! It looks SO much better and we all have more room.

(sorry for the crappy photo, but it’s all I got for now.)

Here you can kinda see our backyard, bust mostly it’s Kevin trying to scare me. 🙂

Kevin attempting to scare me yesterday. It didn't work.

We’re still dealing with the stupid mortgage company on the old house. I so want that over with. I’m so so so done with their games, their lies, their heartlessness. They are pure evil and I swear… right now, after all this, I am soured to every wanting to buy a house again. It’s so so so not worth it. Maybe in a few years I’ll feel differently, but right now I’m content to live in this house forever. I hate moving anyway. 😉

Starting over

It’s a scary time for us right now. But it’s also an adventurous time. At least that’s what we’re telling ourselves and our kids. 🙂

We’re selling our house… or rather, we’re short-selling it. At least that’s what we’re hoping for.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ve likely read how nervous I’ve been about the housing market crashing so soon after we purchased this house. It was clear in 2008, just one year after purchasing it, we were upside down (aka underwater). Heck, I started panicking August 2007, only six months after purchasing this house! By then I’d unexpectedly lost my job so it was natural to panic, but I had no idea how bad things would get.

Needless to say, we’ve never been able to enjoy this house. We’ve never been able to get comfortable. Watching the value of your home plummet so soon after purchasing it just plain sucks. There’s no other way to describe it. But to make matters worse, we got screwed on our loan. We knew going in that it was bad but we were promised we could refinance in three years. Who knew the market would crash so badly and make that impossible?

There’s a whole list of reasons for our decision to sell the house that I can’t really go into on a public blog, but the bottom line is we face having to start all over. That certainly wasn’t in our plan. But then a lot of things didn’t go “as planned” after purchasing this house.

  • I didn’t plan to lose my job.
  • I didn’t plan to only find part-time work at first.
  • I didn’t plan that when I did find a full-time job, it would be making much less than I did previously.
  • We weren’t expecting our family to grow … and yet it did.
  • We weren’t planning on having car payments. But it’s kinda necessary when your family unexpectedly grows.

The list goes on and on.

So here we are, looking to sell, to move, become renters, and hopefully someday soon become homeowners again.

We were really concerned about the effect this would have on the kids. But it will be a life-lesson for them: sometimes like knocks ya down and you just  have to pick yourself back up and move on. Cliché as that is, it’s true. We hope to make this as positive as can be for all of us. Get excited about living in a new place, even if it’s not OUR place, learn to make new friends at new schools if it comes to that. There’s lots to look forward to.

It still hurts, though. And I keep finding myself teary about all this saying over and over, “this wasn’t how this was supposed to go!”. But then I remind myself that we have an amazing family full of love and that’s all that really matters in the long run. No matter where we live.

Fireworks!!!

Jack and I will be working at the fireworks stand tonight in Washougal at The Crossing Shopping Center (291 C Street). Please buy fireworks from us! You’ll be supporting Sissa and her cheer team! Plus we have cool fireworks and a HUGE assortment. We aren’t one of those small stands. We have giant tents so you’ll be in out of the sun, or rain… depending on the time of day. 🙂

We’ve been working that fireworks stand or our other one at QFC Shopping Center (3505 SE 192nd) for the past week. It’s hard work but it’s worth it to support our cheerleaders! Melissa has worked hard too so if you’re buying fireworks this year, it’d be so awesome if you could make the trek out to one of these stands!

Here’s a picture (sorry for the bad quality, it was dusk and I only had my iPhone) of Melissa holding a sign out on the street to direct people to our stand. (They usually use their homemade ones with the school colors). It’s harder than you’d think doing that for HOURS at a time! 🙂

I know I'm slackin'…

We’ve just been crazy busy!

School is ending… and with that many milestones are being accomplished. I promise a real update later detailing all that’s happened, but here’s a hint: Kevin has graduated from high school! (I can still barely type those words … much less think about it, without welling up in tears..)

Here’s another tidbit: a clip from Kevin’s farewell choir concert… the last time he’ll ever get to perform with his high school choir.

Mother's Day, Zoo Trip

Mother’s Day 2010 was awesome. It was awesome because I have a beautiful, kind, loving, wonderful, and amazing family.

Mother's Day, Zoo Trip 001

We started the day by going to get blood drawn. I was due (way over due actually) for blood work to be done and since I have to be fasting it’s tough to find the time to get it done. I figured early morning on Mother’s Day would be the best time because there’d be no one there. I was right. We were in an out in 15 minutes. (A first!)

We were supposed to go to the beach for the day but the forecast on the coast called for clouds and a chance of rain. Here in town it was sunny and high of 70. I’m pretty darn sick of clouds and rain and chose to stay where the sun was.

We went out to breakfast, then to the zoo.

Mother's Day, Zoo Trip 025
Giraffes are my favorite. So peaceful and serene.

Going to the zoo is always bittersweet for me. On the one hand, I never grow tired of the beautiful creatures. On the other, I feel bad that they’re caged and not free. I know the Oregon Zoo does wonderful things and I fully support all that they do, and I’m sure the animals are there for a reason. But I can’t help but feel a bit sad anyway.

Like this guy…
Mother's Day, Zoo Trip 031

He just seemed like he’d rather be somewhere else. He wouldn’t look at the crowd.

This mama duck and her baby seemed happy, though:
Mother's Day, Zoo Trip 042

These ducks were hanging out with the giraffes and gazelles…
Mother's Day, Zoo Trip 022
…who seemed happy enough.
But this guy looked so sad:
Mother's Day, Zoo Trip 063

This one seemed to be enjoying the sun as much as we were:
Mother's Day, Zoo Trip 052

And this guy? Well, he loved Jack. A LOT!

A train ride at the zoo is always fun, too.
Mother's Day, Zoo Trip 102

After the zoo we drove out to Kayla’s work and had some ice cream. Some of us were pretty tired.

Mother's Day, Zoo Trip 129

It was a wonderful mother’s day and I’m so very thankful for my incredibly awesome family.

There’s a few more pictures here.

Take your kid to work day

I started this post on April 22nd, 2010, and never got around to posting it. Ack! So pretend it’s almost two weeks ago…

Today was take your kid to work day. Unfortunately the kids can no longer go to work with their dad due to company policy. This is a huge disappointment to Cody this year because THIS year was finally HIS year to go. So the next obvious choice was to “go to work with mom”.

My kids thought they should all “go to work with mom”. Their reasoning was that school was wasted anyway since hardly anyone was there and all they do is sit around and read. They could do that “at mom’s work”.

So, here it is. My kids “at work” with me:

Take your kid to work
Miss H and Cody, not even out of their jammies yet, but hard at “work”.

Take your kid to work
Casey, “working” hard.

Take your kid to work
Look how hard my girl, Sissa, is “working”.

That’s what I posted two weeks ago and never completed. We’ve been busy as usual and that’s my only excuse. More on that later.

You don’t see a picture of Kevin “at work” with me because he chose to go to school that day. He has a lot going on, what with graduation coming up and all. Speaking of, here he is with his “date” for Senior Prom:

Jess & Kevin

I’m fully aware of the over-usage of quotes in this post. It had to be done, though. 😉

P.S. May the 4th be with you!

I kinda hate the month of April

It’s been one of the busiest beginnings of spring for us ever. Every weekend something major has been going on. We’ve had tons of people (adults, teens, babies) coming and going for various reasons. There’s been so much going on I’ve lost track of some of it, but I’ll try to summarize:

  1. We spring cleaned our house top to bottom (you can’t tell now though..) 😦 and caught up on most of the laundry.
  2. We drove to Cascade Locks for Sarah’s baby shower/meet ‘n greet (she makes adorable babies!).
  3. Kevin and a bunch of his friends tried to go camping at the beginning of spring break, for the first time on their own. They got rained out and we had to rescue them.
  4. The weather has sucked. Rain, wind, hail, wind, rain, more rain, more wind, hail… and more wind. With a few brief sun breaks thrown into the mix. It’s just sucked. I just wanted to rant about that. 😀
  5. Jason visited from Japan and brought along his wife and new baby. They stayed at our house for a few days before flying back to Japan.
    Jason and Mayumi
  6. Cody celebrated his 9th birthday.
    Cody's Birthday 011
  7. We celebrated Easter.
    Easter
  8. Melissa’s cheerleading practices have started. We’ve also enrolled her in a separate cheer tumbling class once a week to hone her skills. By the 18th, she’ll be practicing 3 days a week, plus the tumbling class. (Lil Miss H. will start gymnastics tomorrow, fortunately at the same place and time Sissa has cheer tumbling.)
  9. Casey has been busy too! He made the honor roll again. His first year of junior high and he’s made the honor roll every semester so far. We couldn’t be prouder.
  10. Kevin’s about to graduate high school!!! His senior prom is coming up, his choir tour is coming up, and his choir state competition is coming up.
  11. Jack and I have been chauffeur to most of these events, including whatever store trips, rental shops, etc. was needed to prepare for these events.

There’s a few more photos here.

This is the FIRST weekend in many weeks that we have nothing on our plate. Nada. I’m going to sit home and do nothing and enjoy the heck out of it. Because it’s going to get busy again soon.

Next on the plate is figuring out to do with another THING. This time it’s not in my boobs though. This one is on my ovary. I didn’t post here (because it was on Facebook) but one morning in mid-January I woke up in some of the worst pain ever. Jack forced me to go to the hospital and I talked him into taking me to the clinic instead. They refused to see me though because I was too distressed. They offered to take me by ambulance across the street to the ER (haha — no.. we drove).

Long story short, after a bunch of tests were done (and wonderful pain killers were administered) they found a 3.5 cm cyst on my ovary and determined this to be the cause of the pain. I was sent home that afternoon on bed rest until I wasn’t feeling pain anymore, and instructions to come back for an ultrasound six weeks later to see if the cyst dissolved. Well, it didn’t. And it’s not a “simple cyst” or “functional cyst” either. They don’t know what it is. It hasn’t gotten any bigger, but it’s not smaller either. Why it caused pain that one day and not much since? Who knows. I know it’s there. I do have pain from it from time to time but it’s mild.. not like the OMG I’M DYING pain that day in January. So it’s probably going to have to come out. I’m really not looking forward to it.

Why do these things always happen to me in the spring?? Gall bladder surgery? April of 2003. Boob issues? April of last year. Even my mom’s horrible car accident was in the spring (April). I’m beginning to hate the month of April. Or maybe the month of April hates me?

Door to Door Part III

A couple of years ago I wrote about some interesting situations regarding door to door salespeople. I wrote about how some are kinda stupid, I wrote about how some are kinda scary (Part I), and how some are downright psychotic (Part II).

I don’t remember if I ever wrote about the time we were almost suckered into buying $14,000 windows? If I did I can’t find that post. So the short story version is, at our previous house we had aluminum windows and we were caught in the right mood by some door to door window salesmen who wanted to sell us triple-paned windows and promised to save 60% off our heating and cooling costs the first month, or they’d pay our electricity bill for a year. They also offered us a $100 gift card for a local gas station and I figured it was worth sitting through a presentation for that alone, and besides, the deal they had sounded pretty awesome. So, we sat through the extremely pushy THREE HOUR presentation. We even got to bang on their sample windows with rocks to see for ourselves how unbreakable they were. We were so impressed we wrote them a check for $100 for ‘good faith’ and signed our life away. It wasn’t until the next day that I got an extreme case of buyer’s remorse and went into full panic mode: we just agreed to pay over 14 THOUSAND dollars … for windows. Stupid much?

I called our electric company and asked them about the windows, and if they heard of this company and if they thought new windows would really knock 60% off our bill. She laughed. It was a kind, sympathetic laugh, but still, she laughed. I felt pretty darn stupid. She explained that we don’t live in Alaska and don’t need triple-paned windows, and they can agree to pay our bill for a year because they are charging us about 11 grand over what it should cost to replace our windows. We canceled the deal and got our check back, pronto. (We got to keep the $100 gas card.)

So in a nutshell, between that experience, and others (including falling for a scam involving a “poor, broke student trying to go on a school trip so buy this magazine subscription” we never got), I’m pretty against door to door salesman. I just can’t trust them!

It’s spring. And apparently spring means the door to door salesmen come out of the woodwork. Yesterday morning this guy knocked on my door:
Eric Doyle, puppet master from Heroes

No really. It was HIM! OK, fine if it wasn’t actually Eric Doyle, the puppet master from Heroes, it was his twin brother! He was dressed in a 70’s brown suit, and holding a pamphlet that said, “JESUS LOVES YOU”. I could see all this through the blinds in the window that faces the porch. I chose not to open the door.

Do you blame me? PUPPET MASTER from Heroes? SCARY!

I just pretended no one was home and as soon as he walked away I locked our security screen.

Yesterday while I was out with Melissa, Jack said some random guy wanting to sell us steaks came by. This isn’t a new one. We’ve had these guys come by before. I just LOL because seriously? Who’s going to accept RAW MEAT from some random stranger who knocks on your door? Well, obviously some people do or the steak guys wouldn’t be around still. To those people, I just bow to your braveness.

This morning my doorbell rings (sending my three rabid Cujo dogs into a frenzy) and when I peeked through the windows, it was some guy with a clipboard. This immediately reminds me of the time an insurance guy came knocking (with a clipboard) and I told him NOT INTERESTED and shut the door in his face, only to hear him say through the door, “but ma’am? I’m not a salesperson, I need to ask you about a car break-in that happened to your neighbor”.

I was so embarrassed.

Danny Devito

So today I opened the door to the guy with the clipboard, and it’s another heavy-set bald guy, but this one looked more like Danny Devito than Eric Doyle the puppet master from Heroes. Unfortunately he wasn’t here to talk about car break-ins. He wanted to talk about my finances. LeSigh. I LOL’d at him then shut the door. I know, I’m mean. But I can’t help it. He did look like Danny Devito, though!

That really should be the end of this post. But it’s not. I wish it was, but.. it’s not. Because you’re not going to believe who rang my doorbell only 3 minutes after my beloved, adorable, and oh-so-vulnerable children got off the school bus today.

Charles "Chuckie" Crandall Finster

That’s right, Charles “Chuckie” Crandall Finster, the non-cartoon, grown-up, seemingly stoned and turned surfer-dude version rang my doorbell. (Seriously? CHUCKIE? From The Rugrats??)

And he had a clipboard.

DAMN THE CLIPBOARDS.

He muttered, “aw, hi ma’am. Ah am in the NAY–ber-hood… and like… we are having this totally tubular (he really said ‘awesome’) deal on new windows… and uh, like, I was just wondering… ”

I don’t know what he said after that. Cause I LOL’d again and exclaimed “NOT INTERESTED” and shut the door IN HIS FACE.

Then I threw up my hands and demanded to know why FOUR! FOUR solicitors have been at my house in two days?!

It’s definitely time to get that “NO SOLICITORS” sign–dripping with blood for added effect–hung up on our house with a picture of my three rabid cujo dogs.

And clipboards be damned: I’m not falling for it anymore.

Go Team!!

Last week Melissa spent four days trying out for her upcoming high school’s cheerleading team (she’ll be a freshman next year). There were three days of three hour practices with one day off for her to stay home and practice on her own. She worked hard all four days and made the team! She’s very very excited. As am I. She’s so cute. She told me tonight that this was a moment she’s been waiting for all her life. Ah to be young and 14… 🙂

Her soon-to-be high school has the best cheerleading program in our portion of the state and for more than half the years the school has been in existence (11 years) they’ve been state champions. They’ve won several national championships as well. Currently there is no other school in our state that has as many big wins. So this is very very exciting for her and a huge opportunity.

Here’s a little blast from the past video (to make up for the yucky bathroom pictures yesterday) of Melissa cheering after a one day camp her older sister’s high school did for the young girls (2008):

Congratulations, Sissa!