Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Keys to Getting the Keys

Nothing is ever as easy as it seems. In fact, even when you know it's going to be hard, it's still even harder than you imagined. This is especially true when obtaining a mortgage.

Several months ago we decided to sell our house and buy a new one. Each step seemed to have its frustrations and successes. But as we neared the closing date, our excitement -- and impatience -- increased.

Of course, part of the impatience was due to the fact that we've been living in a retirement community and spending a lot more time driving and a lot less time with each other. So when our mortgage broker said we might get to close early (last Friday), we jumped for joy!

However, we should have really paid attention to the word might.

By Thursday we were told we'd be lucky to sign docs on Monday and maybe, best case, close on Wednesday. What?!?

But we did have a stroke of luck. Monday afternoon we signed our paperwork, handed over our cashier's check for the closing costs and down payment, and excitedly called the utility companies and moving truck rental. We quickly made our plans to move.

Do plans ever actually work? Really? Because I'd like to know someone who actually had a plan, any plan, work out for them.

Wednesday came and we anxiously awaited the keys. Instead, we got an email that morning asking for us to sign another form for the mortgage company ASAP. Um, OK. So my husband left work and met me to put his scrawl on the paper and I sent it in. 

A couple hours later we were told there was a mix up and we needed to get another cashier's check to them pronto. So my husband left work again to run to the bank and the title company. 

What was going on? We couldn't figure out if we just had some truly power-mad underwriter or a novice who didn't know the job. We had spent two months handing in information again and again. Twice we had supplied bank records and pay stubs. At one point I think we even had to fill out some sort of form asking us to list our hobbies, favorite recipes, and a history of our family tree.

I literally called the mortgage broker and asked him "are you certain this mortgage company isn't just some guy in a store front sitting on a folding chair and using a cardboard box for a desk?" Yes, those words exactly. He assured me that it's a company that has been around for a long time and that they were definitely making some unusual requests. (Google confirmed his story.) He had already been arguing with the underwriter about the demands and was trying to get to the bottom of it. I asked him to call me back at the end of the day and let me know what the status was.

But at the end of the day, he called to tell me that he had a feeling the underwriter was going to ask for an updated bank statement. So in the interest of not holding anything up, could I be proactive and go ahead and send it?

Oh, I sent it. And my email said (vital info being XX'd out):

Attached is one more checking statement for the mortgage company. And in case 
they do not have enough information, please let them know that [Big Dude] is 5' 8" and 
weighs about XXX. I'm 5' 8" and weigh about XXX. Our son is 5 years old, weighs 
55 lbs and is 46" inches tall. And our dog is under a foot tall and weighs only 
27 pounds. We can provide blood and urine samples upon request too. 

Our broker thought it was the funniest thing he'd seen all day.

By the time I got home, my husband was hanging up with our broker and informed me that the reason the mortgage company was acting all shifty and crazy was because they already planned to sell our loan and wanted to go ahead and get everything they possibly can to make the sale happen. They make plans... why can't we?!?

So this morning, my frustrated hubby and I waited. They had our signatures, our money, half a year's worth of bank statements and pay stubs, our credit history, every piece of vital information they could possibly want. It's the financial equivalent of strolling nude through a shopping mall.

But we had no keys.


Then, lo and behold, this afternoon a ray of light broke the gloomy skies above and... we were told the funding came through. Yee-haw! We would finally get our keys!!!

As the wise Hannibal Smith of the A-Team always said, "I love it when a plan comes together!"

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My Evil Sister

On the phone with my mom today...

Mom: "Did you know your sister is evil?"

Me: "Yes, Mom! I've been trying to tell you this for years."

I'm not sure why no one really listens to me. For the last 30 years I have tried to convince my parents that my little sister is pure evil. And now they finally see it!

For decades, I've been awaiting justice. I could finally taste the sweet satisfaction of having my mom realize that all my past claims that my syrupy sweet little sister had falsely accused me of smacking her, had wrongly blamed me for various flagrant rule violations, and had often deceptively framed me for her misdeeds were true!
Don't let that innocent demeanor fool you...

Really, what older sibling does not happily await the day that their parents finally discover the younger sibling is devious, sinister, and deceitful?!?

And my mom's response to her sudden ascertainment?

"I should get her a t-shirt that says, 'Master Manipulator,'" she said with a laugh.

My hand smacked my forehead.

How did my mother finally stumble upon this revelation?

My sister was giving her advice on how to manipulate someone to get what she wants. She was divulging her secrets -- the tricks of her trade. And my mom realized that she had way too much knowledge for someone whom she had always believed was the model of innocence.

Actually, my sister was giving her good advice for the circumstance. A little manipulation comes in handy at times. For instance, it probably came in handy when my sister was a teacher. It would be a real survival tool when facing a classroom of 30+ sixth graders!

My mom pointed out that both she and my dad are firstborns. And I'm a first born. And we all tend to just get right down to brass tacks without beating around the bush. We tend to just point out things directly instead of persuading someone to see it. Although we're friendly and at times even outgoing, the three of us are actually introverts. And I swear we each have our own brand of OCD-ness!

Then we have my sister... who, now I realize, was left out of our own little "firstborn club." And if you believe all the "power of birth order" stuff, then you'd know how that story goes. She often found ways to get out of her chores and she totally knew (and still knows) how to steal all the attention.

I guess I can't be too hard on her, because it probably wasn't easy following me in everything. But we did eventually find different hobbies and sports to get involved in. We found our own spotlights to shine in so we weren't always competing with each other.

And if I'm totally honest, she wasn't the only manipulator in the family, because there was a time not long ago, that I finally revealed to my mom the truth about a certain childhood hair-trimming incident that was blamed on a totally defenseless 3-year-old sibling (a story to be shared at a later date).

OK, so maybe we're both a little evil. What can I say? We're sisters!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Strangers in a Foreign Land

Day 27: We have been stranded in this foreign land far too long. We are completely and utterly surrounded by desolate land, wild creatures and restless natives, and are unsure of how long they will continue to accept our presence. We pray that our rescue will come soon.

We are totally going bonkers at this point waiting for our new house to close while living in a retirement community. At first, it sounded like a great idea. We thought we'd enjoy the laid back pace, visit the multiple rec centers, and make friends with some eccentric lonely person with a vast fortune and no heirs.

But we haven't done any of those things because we have hour-long commutes and we're still playing the guess-which-box-holds-the-missing-_______ game. We wake up early and go to bed early. And while we may joke about the fact that it seems like every one here eats dinner at 4pm and all the stores and restaurants close by 8pm, the fact is, we're starting to acclimate. We are turning into one of them!

We're both cranky and tired. I've started taking daily vitamins. We think golf carts would be so much easier for trips to the store. We've both fallen asleep in front of the TV. I didn't even flinch the other day when I saw a Buick straddling the line and driving in both lanes. And I almost bought a pink flamingo for our new house!

It still feels really strange to be the only people younger than 55 everywhere we go. Last week, at the grocery store, it was quite surreal to wander the aisles and realize that the only child in the store was ours. I've never heard a grocery store so quiet. At first, we enjoyed the peace. But as we passed one quiet, elderly shopper after another, I started to get a little paranoid. It felt almost like a late sequel to Stepford Wives but with everyone turning into elderly people. Were they wondering why we were at this store? Did they feel like we were intruding in their private community?

I started to think that maybe I could carry around a jar of Olay and pretend that I just had blissfully youthful genes. But I didn't think that would fool them. Then I thought about making my husband pretend that we were shopping for a home-bound great aunt. But I realized that most elderly people probably don't buy Fruit Rollups and Hot & Spicy Cheez-Its for themselves.

As crazy as it sounds, I was afraid our youthful presence would offend them. They came to this community for a reason. And I didn't want to shatter their peaceful existence. We are simply visitors, and just like when camping, I'd like to leave the place without any trace that we had ever been there.

But to be honest, they don't seem to mind that we have turned a house on their block our summer home. They don't mind seeing us at the post office or gas station or grocery store. In fact, they seem to really enjoy having us here. The ladies at Dairy Queen absolutely love Little Dude and have made him special treats.

One of the neighbors across the street knocked on our door the other week. At first, Big Dude was worried that she was going to complain about us being there. But instead, she asked for his help. Her toilet was overflowing and she couldn't wait for the local handyman. So Hubby came to her rescue. He shut off the water, went to Ace Hardware for her, and replaced the broken part. I can guarantee there's at least one neighbor who's happy to have us around!

It shouldn't be too long now until we are able to move into our new house. And we are pretty thankful to have a place to stay in the meantime. We just have to make it through another week or two and then we can say farewell to this neighborhood... at least until we're ready to retire! ;-)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Feeling a Little Boxed In

We recently sold our house and are currently playing the waiting game while we wait for our new house to close. So a few weeks ago we loaded up a moving van with much more furniture and boxes than should ever have fit into our tiny little house (I seriously think we broke a few laws of physics there) and headed west... to a retirement community.


Yep. I look stinkin' good for my age!

Actually, my parents were gracious enough to let us stay at their house while they are working in another state. They warned told the neighbors we would be staying here, and, except for the occasional ambulance and firetruck, it's been pretty quiet.

A friend of mine asked if we were actually allowed to stay here since we're clearly not old enough and we're toting around a 5-year-old. I told her we absolutely were. But only for a limited time. We'll know we've overstayed our welcome when a blue-haired mob shows up in their golf carts with torches and pitch forks to slowly chase us out of town!

My mom always keeps a tidy house. Despite the fact that it had been empty for a few months, there was not a speck of dust to be anywhere when we moved in. Towels were neatly hung up ready for use. Crisp sheets were perfectly tucked on the beds. It was like moving into a vacation rental.

Luckily my mom is not here to see how we have filled her garage with our furniture and appliances. She's not here to see how we've moved our dressers and wardrobe boxes into her beautiful formal living room.

Dueling pianos! Just a little keyboard family reunion
before we moved in the dressers.

And she's not here to see how we redecorated her dining room.

Some people like to decorate their homes in a traditional, contemporary, country chic or even industrial style. We're going with a cardboard motif. Personally, I like how the chandelier and oil painting really bring balance to the whole room.

We took two days to move everything out of our old house. During one trip, my dear hubby saw a wild coyote strolling the retirement neighborhood. He was probably looking for the local Luby's. During the final trip, my same sweet hubby asked me to help him move the refrigerator by tipping it over on him. After making sure his life insurance was up-to-date I obliged by giving the giant appliance a shove toward him and listening for any screams that may have been muffled by the large metal box. Luckily, it somehow made it's way onto the dolly and down the ramp without claiming any victims.

We then spent the following two days starting all our conversations with "Have you seen my..." or "Do you know where we put the..." For the sake of our sanity, we cut through the five layers of tape that created an air-tight seal on each box and relabeled the boxes. We only unpacked what was necessary -- like food, toothbrushes and anxiety medicine. And now we are living out of boxes one day at a time.

We're exhausted. We're confused. And sometimes we're just plain cranky. You know... I guess we do fit into the neighborhood after all! ;-)