Sunday, February 28, 2010

February 2010 Round Up

No mosaic this month. You've already seen all the good pictures, except maybe this one. This is frost on the curved mirrors on the bus at Luke's school. I thought it was pretty cool! (no pun intended)

What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
Started reading Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, by Diana Gabaldon. Finished the first section, and then they Olympics started. Not much reading since. (He's about to see Jamie again; didn't want to get distracted.)

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
* TV Time: Olympics! Which means not much else was on, but that's okay. We're Olympics junkies in my family, so it wouldn't have gotten watched anyway.
* New Films: The Devil Wears Prada (okay; needed more Stanley Tucci), Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (imaginative, but weird)
* Old Favorites: Somewhere In Time, The Mummy Returns, Jurassic Park III, WALL-E, Shakespeare In Love, The American President, Jurassic Park, The Rookie, The Hunt for Red October, Up

What special days did I celebrate and how?
We did absolutely nothing for Valentine's Day this year, not for anyone, plus we were snowed in.

What gifts did I give and/or receive?
I really can't think of anything.

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
We all started coming down with stuff right at the end of the month. Luke was running a fever of 103+ for a couple of days (brought down with Children's Motrin) for no reason we could discern. He was acting fine otherwise (a little tired, but that's about it), so there wasn't really anything to do. DH is dreadfully sick with some kind of head cold which will make Disney next week oh so fun (not), and I'm feeling pretty run down myself (not sleeping enough with the Olympics; totally my fault).

What fun things did I do with my friends and/or family?
I'm sure there was something, but I seem to have forgotten. I blame house stress.

What new foods, recipes or restaurants did I try this month?
We tried a new restaurant that is close to the new house, called Pasta Amore. Reminds me a bit of Artuzzi's, actually. Choose your pasta/sauce/meat combo, wraps, sandwiches, pizzas. DH and I tried it first, then took Luke a bit letter. I like the pasta okay. Pretty good and very close, hard to beat. The pizza is pretty good, as were the wraps. DH didn't care for their spaghetti sauce, though. We still prefer Artuzzi's, but it's a lot farther away. Nice to have something good (enough) and close by.

What special or unusual purchases did I make?
Closing costs! As in, we closed the sale of the old house. YYYYAAAAYYYY!!! There was much drama involved, even up to the very last minute; numbers "not adding up" and daycare calling to say that Luke had a fever of about 104 right as we walked in the door didn't help!

Oh, I forgot: Size 2 shoes for Luke. Yes, I'm being serious!

What were this month's disappointments?
The other three times we didn't close, plus a bunch of mess at work. Not much to say about that yet (if at all). Huge stressful changes coming; won't know the full fallout for another couple of months.

What were my accomplishments this month?
Super ultra nightmare work project is finally done!! Only took 7 months (typical projects are 3-5 months). It was a problem from day 1, and continued to be a problem through day I-can't-count-that-high. Every single time we thought "okay, this is the last thing we have to fix, and then we're good," something else would come up. We've thought we were "almost done" since right after the New Year began. But it's done now, and it's done before we go out of town so I won't stress about it while I'm gone. That's all that matters.

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?

Luke has finally started going to sleep in his room by himself! Now if we could just get him to stop waking up at 2 AM every night to move into the den to sleep the rest of the night, we'll be all set.

He also "accomplished" having a note sent home by the teacher regarding his behavior. For some reason during nap one day, he decided he wanted to color instead of rest/sleep, so he picked up some markers near his sleep location and started coloring. On his jeans, on his arms, on his face, on the floor, on the wall, on the artwork of other children near by.... I'm sure you can imagine how happy we were, particularly when we were told "kitty told me to." He apologized, he offered to help clean up (already done by the time we heard about it), we discussed that he is the one responsible for his own actions and that he should not do something he knows is wrong no matter who tells him to. We'll see.

Anything else noteworthy to record?
Snow snow snow! Not much else.

Monthly Round Up courtesy of Katie the Scrapbook Lady.

Currently feeling: just trying to hang on

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Closing Drama

Okay, as I alluded to earlier, there was much drama surrounding our closing. We thought all of the drama was over when our agent called to say that yes, we really would be closing on Thursday. Ha!

Thursday morning dawned, and I just knew it wasn't going to happen. I don't know if I was just tired of being disappointed or what, but I was not confident at all. And the longer the morning wore on, the more convinced I was. Closing was set for 3PM (I was wrong about that yesterday, thought it was 2). They lawyers had to have the papers by 2PM for us to be able to close at 3, and neither DH nor I were leaving until our agent had confirmed they had them.

10 AM came and went, Noon came and went, 1 PM came and went. Our agent called at 1:40 to say they had finally arrived. "We are on for 3 PM." Really? I'm still not feeling it. DH left work at 2 to come get me. We waited until 2:20 before leaving the house (it was closer than we originally thought), just to make sure someone wasn't going to call and cancel or delay. Even on the way there, I told my husband that something was still going to happen. The address is wrong, or the sale price is wrong, or a car accident, or *something.* We turned into the complex with about 10 minutes to spare, then realized we didn't have the actual address! Directions, yes, but there were 90-something townhouse-type offices, and we had no idea which one we needed. DH was on his phone with our agent getting the actual address when a call came in to my phone.

"Mrs. Gaston, this is Luke's daycare. Luke is running a really high fever. Our thermometer says it is 104! His whole body is shaking and he looks awful. We need you to come get him." THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING!! Technically, we're supposed to be there within 30 minutes if they need us to pick up our child. I explained that we were literally about to walk in the door to close on our house, and they decided they could keep him (in the office away from other kids) until we arrived. I really hoped it would be as simple as walk in, sign, and walk out. It was when we bought this house (once we finally got there), and the papers were ready, so it should be quick and simple, right?

You'd think I'd know better by now. Neither our agent nor the buyer was there yet. The buyer was about 5 minutes late, but they were very sympathetic to our circumstances. The buyer's agent talked to the lawyers so we could go ahead and sign our portion of the papers, the idea being that we could finish and be on our way and not have to wait for the buyer, who had numerous additional papers to sign. We could also start without our agent, who came in about 10 minutes later. By 3:40, we had signed everything we could, but they were "still working out some things on the HUD, the numbers just aren't adding up." I was ready to pitch a fit!! Finally I just had to go get Luke and hope they had it worked out by the time we got back.

Luke did look pretty bad when I got to daycare, but the assistant director was going on about how much better he looked (he'd slept about 30 minutes on a mat in the office). He was still pretty warm, but nothing approaching 104. With some children's ibuprofen on board, we headed back to the lawyer's office. He had half a cup of juice on the way, which was both good and bad: good that he was willing to drink something, bad that he only drank half (he's usually downed the whole thing in under 5 minutes). We arrived back at the lawyer's office right at 4:30. The room we were using to sign papers were directly across from the entrance. As we walked in, I could see DH, our agent, and the lawyer sitting at the table, and no one looked happy at all. Great.

The good news was that they had figured out the problem. The bad news was that no one could figure out what to do about it. I do know more of the details, but again, I'm going to be intentionally vague here. We still need to work out if and how much *we* will be affected, but I was so stressed about the whole thing between what the lawyer was telling us and Luke's condition, all I really heard was "blah blah... might have to rework the deal... blah blah... something about our taxes... blah blah... might not close today if we can't work it out with the county." No one, not even the lawyers who do this for a living, can figure out how the mistake happened and how it has gone unnoticed for so long. They did work it out so we could close that day. Now we just have to hope the county doesn't come after *us* for many thousands in "corrected" taxes over the last 9 years!! So the drama may not yet be over, but we did close. We walked out at 5:30 PM with the papers and the check to prove it (though we might need to save that check in case the county comes calling).

And for everyone wondering, Luke is fine. His fever is responding to medicine, there are no other symptoms, and he is acting mostly fine otherwise (a little tired, but that is to be expected), so the doctor said just to monitor the fever and keep him on Children's Motrin. Call if any other symptoms show up, and if the fever isn't gone by Monday to bring him in. But as of bedtime tonight (Saturday), his fever was under 99.5 with no meds, so he should be fine by Monday.

So, drama drama drama, but it's DONE!! We offically only own *one* house!
Currently feeling: ready for a quiet week

Thursday, February 25, 2010

We did close

We're all exhausted from stress, and Luke is sick with a high fever, but we officially only own *one* house now. Most of you probably already knew that from Twitter, Facebook, or the neverending thread. More details later. Right now, it is way late (actually about 1:30 AM on 2/26, but I back-dated the entry to our actual closing date), and I'm going to bed.

Currently feeling: finally!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The opposite of closed is.... angry

Yet again, we did not close on the old house today. As frustrating as that fact is all on its own, what truly makes me angry about the situation is the way it unfolded. As you know by now, today was to be our third attempt at closing. The first delay was at the request of the buyer, but it came several days before the closing date, so that was workable. The second time, it all came down after 9:30 PM the night before due to a piece of paperwork requested by the lender. It then had to be sent to the underwriter, so we were delayed by a few days.

Today, I thought we were in the clear. When the phone rang at 8:30 AM this morning, I thought that was it. No, it was just our agent letting us know that the buyer had done their run through this morning and everything was good as far as we (buyers and sellers) all knew. By Noon, no additional phone calls had come, and I had finally dared to believe that we would actually be closing at 2PM. Perhaps that was the problem.

We left at 12:30. I had had a terrible morning at work (two big (and already late) projects fall down and go boom), but I was ready to shake it off by signing the papers. At least something good would come out of my day. We stopped by Arby's for lunch (I had not been able to eat with my insane morning), since it was on the path between the house and the lawyer's office. We had just finished ordering when my phone rang. It was 12:40.

Today's story is that the underwriter is requesting an explanation of something (I'm being deliberately vague; we do know the issue). I have two HUGE issues with this. #1: Clearly, the underwriters had not yet completed the paperwork. Even if the buyer had been able to provide the requested documents immediately upon request (which was not possible) and the underwriters had instantly sent the papers to the lawyers, we *still* would not have been able to close at 2 PM, because the lawyers would not have had time to review the papers. (You may recall that closing on our new house was delayed by 2 hours for similar reasons.) #2: How is it that the underwriters did not know/realize that the existing documentation was unacceptable until 90 MINUTES prior to closing?! Either they did know and didn't speak up, or they didn't bother to check until the last minute. Neither is acceptable. In fact, it is completely unprofessional and disrespectful of everyone's time. What if we all punched a clock? What if our managers were not as understanding and flexible as they are? The process of buying/selling a house should not put your *job* at risk. (What do the lenders think would happen to the mortgage payments then!)

I cannot recall the last time I saw my husband flush red with anger from chin to hairline. It has been several years. I don't even want to imagine the color of my own face; something akin to "lobster," I imagine. A blood pressure check on either of us at that moment likely would have landed us in the hospital. I flatly told our agent that until she could personally confirm directly with the lawyer that the papers were in hand, in order, and ready to be signed, we would NOT be leaving work. If that means they end up having to wait for us to arrive, then that's what it means. We are tentatively scheduled for 2 PM tomorrow (gee, where have I heard that before).

I know I said it yesterday, but I made the mistake of believing 2 hours before it actually happened. Tomorrow, even if we walk in the door and sit down at the table with pen in hand, I absolutely will not believe it until we walk out the door with signed papers and a check.

Currently feeling: seriously ticked off

Monday, February 22, 2010


We didn't close on Thursday. Our agent called Wednesday night at 9:50 PM. We could not imagine who was calling so late, other than family, and they would only call so late if something was wrong, so my pulse was already elevated when I picked up. As the story goes, the buyer's lender called at 9PM the night before we were set to close to say that a receipt from the federal government (something about taxes) was insufficient proof of payment and that they required a copy of the canceled check. The receipt was submitted several days ago as proof of payment. She cannot control when the check is deposited or when the bank decides to process it. You asked her to show proof of payment and she did. If a receipt wasn't good enough, why didn't you say so several days ago when she submitted it?!! Why did you wait until less than 24 hours to go, and well after normal business hours in any US time zone, to speak up?

At the time (Wednesday night), we were told that the only thing holding it up was the canceled check. Once that was submitted, we would be ready to close. A copy of the check was submitted Friday morning. We were hopeful for a Monday closing. Instead, the lender (allegedly) said, "Okay, we can now send it to the underwriters. Not sure how long that will take. We do have other clients to take care of." Excuse me?! Either this is the most irresponsible lender on the planet who has no respect for anyone else's time and needs, or we're not getting the whole story (or the whole truth). At this point, I don't know or care which, I just want to close, preferably before the March mortgage payment is due!

Did I mention that we already had the utilities set to be turned off on Thursday? And that temps had the possibility of getting below freezing again, though things were expected to be warm over the weekend. We really don't want to go through the time and hassle (and extra fees) to have them turned back on, but we can't afford to risk the pipes bursting! Just such a royal PITA. Plus, if it gets pushed off into March, we'll be gone for a few days, making it that much harder to schedule and that much later into the month.

Our agent called this afternoon to say that closing is now scheduled for Wednesday at 2 PM. I'll believe it when I see it. At this point, I won't fully believe it until I walk out of the lawyer's office holding the papers that say we no longer own that house. Third time's the charm, right? (Knock wood.) Keep your fingers crossed, please.

Currently feeling: please let us close Wednesday

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Winter Wonderland - February 2010

It is quite the winter wonderland outside today! Snow started falling Friday afternoon. We had about 2 inches in under 90 minutes, which is insane for around here. We picked up Luke from school a little early, trying to avoid the rush of people being let go early from work, and hunkered down for a weekend of being confined to the house. Well, not really. We had no intention of leaving the house by car. We weren't going to let that stop us from playing in the snow!

Luke started on the deck, as he wasn't sure about getting down in the yard.

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

But we did finally coax him down, with a little help from Daddy.

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

We had one happy kid by the time we came in!

You can see in that second photo after the video that the snow was still falling, and it continued to do so for several hours. By the time Luke was in bed, we had this!

That is about 3.5 inches (9 cm) of snow! All those footprints Luke made on the deck in the video now looked like this.

Not much to some of you, but typical snowfall for Atlanta (on the rare occasions that we have it) is 1-2 inches (3-5 cm), so not only is this well above the typical amount, it is also our second snowfall of the winter, which is very unusual. By the light of morning, it looked like a fairy tale outside! Here are some comparison shots of the front of the house:

I like these shots, too. Everything looks frosted, like something out of a movie.

Both the roof and the yard were several inches deep with snow.

And for everyone wondering why Atlanta and the rest of The South freaks out about snow, it's because temps don't get cold enough most of the winter to keep the snow from melting. The roads are too warm! So the first couple of hours of snowfall make the roads wet until they finally get cold enough to start sticking. Then temps fall below freezing overnight, and we're left with a nice layer of ice under all that snow that you just can't see until it's too late (and either your car is in the ditch, or your bum is on the ground). Like this, which is ice under the snow on our deck and the street in front of our house.

Repeat melt and re-freeze cycle for a few days, and the entire city shuts down. We don't have the equipment necessary to treat all of the roads, and I know that Friday night, even the sections that were treated were refreezing. It was a zoo out there! Even my friends in snow country say snow is fine but ice is not. We virtually never have one without the other because it doesn't get cold enough here. Most of the time, I am perfectly happy that it's not that cold! But when it snows, it's a nightmare for anyone trying to drive. I don't even bother trying; not sure if I'm more afraid of my lack of ice driving skills or the other idiots out there.

It sure is fun to play in, though!

Luke and DH made a couple of attempts at a snowman, but the snow was not very cooperative. It kept collapsing instead of compacting. It had been heavy and wet Friday, but I guess temps got cold enough overnight to dry it out a good bit.

We did end up with a Snow Luke, though, as his gloves got wet and snow started freezing to them.

And Luke had his first attempt at a snow angel.

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

We thought it would show up better on the black asphalt of our driveway, but the snow wasn't quite deep enough, and it was very icy underneath, so it didn't turn out very well. Still, Luke thought it was fun enough to attempt it a few more times.

And DH did finally manage a couple of baby snowmen, just for Luke!

All in all, quite the enjoyable afternoon! I'm glad we went out in it before lunch, since most of the snow you see in the yard (like the photo of Luke and his tracks through the snow) was gone by evening due to the sun. There's still plenty of snow on the bushes and the houses, but most of the yards are clear. Technically the roads and driveways are clear of snow as well. They're just soaking wet and puddled, and temps are supposed to be in the 20s tonight. Looks like we'll be iced in most of tomorrow as well, at least until the highs kick in. It's supposed to be 45 and sunny on Sunday. Hopefully, the pavement will dry so that the roads are safe come Monday.

Currently feeling: flakey

New Blog Look

With my formatting all wacky lately, I decided to go ahead and pick a new template. Is it working okay for everyone? Look okay? I had to delete and redo several of my widgets (still working on that), but overall, I'm okay with it. Still looking for the perfect template, but this one will do for now.

Currently feeling: decorative

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Where did my formatting go?

I've been contemplating changing my blog template for a little while. Even done some window shopping, but I haven't decided on one yet. However, my formatting seems to have gone wonky recently. The date of the post is no longer showing up, and the font sizes seem to be mostly gone (they look fine in the sidebar but not the body). The time posted and comment link is also not where it should be (now at the top instead of at bottom near the labels). Most irritating! It's too late and I'm too tired right now to try and fix it. May be redecorating sooner than expected. I just wish they'd stop breaking things that were working just fine!

Currently feeling: grumpy

Sunday, February 07, 2010


A week ago, on Sunday, January 31, I pulled a perfectly thawed pizza out of our freezer. Now I have to say, it baked up beautifully, but when removing something from the freezer, I don't think it is too much to ask that it be, you know, frozen! I was hoping it was something like forgetting to close the door all the way or something, but by Monday morning, the ice was melting and the temperature inside the refrigerator was about 55F (13C) instead of the expected 36F (2C). It was only 43F (6C) outside! Definitely not good. Upon inspection of the manufacturing plate inside, I realized that the refrigerator was made in 1999 and is by far the oldest appliance in the kitchen. I had been intending to replace it with a stainless steel (or stainless looking) one in the next couple of years, but not right now! Not less than 3 months after moving, right after Christmas, and before we close the sale of our old house. ::head desk::

I called a repair company, but they couldn't come out same day. "Would you like to make an appointment for Tuesday?" Yes, please, the earliest one you have. "Your appointment time is between 8AM and 5PM." Helpful, thanks. Could you possibly be less specific? Good thing I work from home! Phillip arrived around 10 AM to take a look and immediately diagnosed it as a bad thermostat. Not exactly cheap to repair, but only about 20-25% the cost of the new refrigerator I was looking at, so we'll go with it. Except that Phillip didn't have the part on his truck. "I used it on a repair last week, and they haven't restocked my truck yet." He called it in to dispatch, and there was another guy in the area who did have the part. They would add us to his list and he would swing by "sometime today." He pulled into our driveway around 4:30 (since we were now at the bottom of his list), but he didn't come to the door. In fact, it was almost 20 minutes before he knocked.

"The computer says I have that part on my truck, but I don't see it anywhere. We'll have to order it. It should arrive Monday, so I can come back Tuesday to install it." Excuse me? You want me to go another *week* without a refrigerator? I could buy a new one and have it delivered before then. "I guess I can put it down as an emergency repair." They were going to ship the part directly to our house, but they weren't sure if it would arrive by Friday. They booked us another very specific appointment time [note sarcasm] for Saturday, but we were to call and cancel on Friday if we didn't have the part.

I don't think I had ever realized exactly how critical a refrigerator was until I didn't have one for a week. Of course, I knew it would hamper my ability to cook (something I don't usually do much of, but I was doing so well in January getting back in the groove), but I didn't think about the fact that I use it for the filtered water I drink most often. The tap water is okay (better here than at the old house, actually), but it wasn't cold enough from the tap (plus no ice), and I kept forgetting to fill up some bottles or something and sit them outside. It was a very long and thirsty week!

Ironically, the part actually arrived on Thursday, but they were already booked for Friday, so we still had to wait for Saturday for the repair to happen. It was Phillip who returned to install it, and bless him, he put us first on his list. I'm not even sure he was in the house for 30 minutes. We let it sit the rest of the day to chill down and make sure it was working before attempting to restock.

Most everything in the refrigerator and freezer had to be thrown out, though we did eat a fair bit of the frozen stuff (like spaghetti sauce) as it defrosted outside (temps never above 45F/7C) over the course of the week. Three kitchen garbage bags full of food gone, including 2 pounds of pork tenderloin, a pound of ground beef, and about 6 pounds of chicken breasts that I had in the freezer that I had stockpiled when they were on sale. There just wasn't time to cook it all, or anywhere to store the leftovers even if I did. All the dairy, cheese, eggs, produce, most of the condiments, all the frozen veggies, and all the frozen Luke foods like pizzas and fish sticks, all trashed. It was very disheartening. About the only things that survived were the nuts, pancake syrup, jelly, and flour (don't use it often, so I keep it cold to deter bugs). We restocked with the essentials at the grocery store today (milk, juice, butter, eggs, cheddar cheese, mayo, small frozen pizzas, fish sticks, 2 packs of chicken breasts). We'll add the rest (salad dressing, other condiments, frozen veggies, other cheeses, etc) a few at a time over the coming weeks until we're back full again. I think we will single-handedly keep Kroger in the black this month.

Currently feeling: tired of groceries

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Magic Word: A Conversation With Luke

While waiting in line for a balloon animal:

Other Kid: Can I get one for my little sister?
Clown: What's the magic word?
Other Kid: [just looks at her] Can I get one for my sister?
Luke: [tugs on DH's sleeve] Daddy, what's the magic word?
DH: You have to say please.
Luke: Daddy, please, what's the magic word?

Currently feeling: loving it