Friday, January 28, 2011

Itsa Game Changer

First - let me just say I just kicked all three of my little ones asses in Just Dance 2...I'm just saying...maybe all the nights at the techno club...raving my booty off until the wee hours - whistles, flavored smoke...ahhh! was all training I needed for the royal, ass-whipping dance lesson I just gave a 12, 10 and 7 year old. That's right...Fear Me!
Ok, or maybe I just know how to move the controller in such a way to score the highest points.

Ok all - on a slightly more serious's where we stand...income tax return received (check) - when we spoke to the lender, she said for us to pay 4 bills:
1) Medical bill (check)
2) Orchard card under $150 ('s actually at $67)
3) Capital card under $350 ('s actually at $21)
4) Citicard under $2000 ('s actually at $1600) - perhaps even MORE important about paying this card is it is one I share with my dad...and I hate having that monkey on my back.
...and we paid all of our bills for January and most of February (that's right...before Feb. 1st) - we also have enough money for spending until payday AND put $1000 more into our savings. Whew...You feel that? That weight lifted from my back? Nice!
I sent a notice along to the lender that we had checked off our entire list - she sent back an excited email that said essentially that now we wait! We wait for about another month and 1/2 (mid-March) to pull a new copy of our credit report. This waiting period will allow the creditors time to post the payments and our credit score to rise up...and hopefully will lead to the "pre-qualified" letter (fingers crossed). During that waiting period, we will be working on our savings more - I am expecting a few good paychecks and my bonus from work (hopefully) and perhaps a promotion? All good things.
More good news for the day?
-My blogger friend at Homestead Hope awarded me the fabulous "Stylish Blogger" award. More on this to follow tomorrow - when I follow the rules of the award...But many, many thanks to Homestead Hope...for the award and for always being our homestead cheerleader.
-Mark received a call at 7:30 this morning requesting his substitute teaching services...he was a sub in Florida; however, with school and kids and life, his focus has been in other directions. On Monday, he went in for sub "training" and got his first call this morning. The stress of "what if" and "I don't know if I'm ready" went away with a last minute call. Off he went to sub for a first grade class and...SUCCESS! He's ready to be back in that saddle and I couldn't be more excited for and proud of him.
-My friend and her boyfriend have, through a strange set of circumstances, been apart for a couple of years and she just found out that at the end of March they will FINALLY be able to be together. I'm looking forward to her marriage and sweet babies to follow.'s a miracle! We changed the cat litter AND the kids cleaned their room...ON A FRIDAY NIGHT EVEN...
The times they are a changing...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Let the heartache and healing begin

My beautiful, perfect, amazing, know, the one with five (eventually six) bedrooms and 2.5 (eventually 3) bathrooms, with the perfect kitchen for our huge family - the house that has 2.37 acres of land. That white house, the one I called the city to ask the well field protection area, in the conservation district, zoned for agriculture - the one that the zoning guy specifically said "so you having bees, chickens, cows, goats and pigs is exactly what we WANT you to do with that property" unattainable. The bank won't sell to anyone that doesn't offer cash. CASH!? That's not us. I'm heartbroken. I fell in love with the first home I really looked at...and it won't be ours. On to plan B.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I don't want to jinx...

I don't want to jinx it, but I am just in love with this house. This is now the third time we visited the place. Each time, I wince as we wrap around the road...the river to our left, hoping that the for sale sign is still in the yard. It is. The price dropped again and the good news is that there were no footsteps in the snow...signs of interested people looking through the windows. Now our tracks make their way around the house, stepping up to the windows, peeking through the doors, and even measuring spaces. We laugh and talk about what we could do with each room, if it was ours.

As you pull into the driveway, this is what you see...
The back of the house shows the broken slider into a 24' x 19' "extra room".
The middle shows two bay windows (into our bedroom?).

The front has a great porch where I can imagine having a couple rockers and a scrabble board.

This is the other side of the house. Those five windows together go into the kitchen so you can look over the property while doing dishes, canning, baking etc. See the cute little screened in area? I love it...7 1/2 ft. x 16 ft. of space to sit outside on summer nights and be screened away from the mosquitoes....LOVE. The screened space sits just off the kitchen and dining areas and has doorways to each.

Oh my God! CHECK THIS KITCHEN OUT! I love the long counter space and the island. Can you imagine how easy it will be to cook, bake, can, create in this space? If I could design a kitchen for our family, it would look like this. Space for everything. Lots of storage, double wall ovens...BLISS. I go back and forth about the stove/oven combo in the island.

LOOK at that ginormous island! Storage space below, skylight above, space for bar stools (or some type of seating). I imagine rolling pie crusts on this island. At the far end of the picture you see into the dining room space and can see a glimpse of the staircase (currently teal, would love to restore back to wood). The doors along the right side...a laundry room space and a pantry.
The next step for this home? We need to contact the city and confirm that they will allow us to have chickens, bees, goats and perhaps a cow/pig/horse...and hope that the house waits for us.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Anxiety life is filled with constant motion and sound...with a full time job, five children (two in elementary school, one in middle school and two in college - and all the directions they are going), a husband, bills, responsibilities, extended family etc...There is a flow to life that cannot be stopped or interrupted or else everything else...fails. The mornings are sometimes tough for me...I'm not a morning person - I like the night. However, life doesn't always get that. 6:45 the alarm going off and Mark prods me to get out of bed. We shower and that is our calm (ish) before the the time we are getting dressed we have at least three kids at the bathroom door whining about "how soon are you going to be done"...every morning it is the same response..."soon...give us a minute". The door to the bathroom opens and the rush of - eat your breakfast, mommy did you see this, does this match, just change your clothes, hurry up and eat your breakfast, oh I forgot to have you sign this, do you have your backpack, oh no I forgot to read this book/do this math sheet/I have a test today, look at this trick I learned (balances on one foot and one hand)...mommy, mommy, mommy - ACK! My focus is drawn in so many different directions - when I'm thinking about how desperately I want to crawl back in bed for just another hour. Mark is amazing during this time - he gets the kids going, he makes breakfast and lunch for the kids while I am checking my emails and the bank etc. I appreciate him...probably more than he knows. Some days the level of stress is near the breaking point and then I think how I couldn't imagine my life any other way. I can't imagine the sterile existence that some people live. Without interaction from their children. Without the loud craziness that is my life. Without the stories we share with each other about what we saw, learned, heard that day. Without the constant joking, laughing, loving and yes, sometimes even fighting. Ahhh, anxiety - I live for it! Happy Thursday all!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A three hour tour...

Since we are thinking that a move closer to the Indiana border (or a place with easy access to Indiana) is a good move for us (personally and professionally)...and since we are not very familiar with that area of the state a road trip was certainly in order. It was supposed to be a three hour drive...but it ended up being much longer and I'm ok with that. Mark and I found a couple great houses (great on Trulia anyway) and just wanted to check 'em out. First stop - a home in need of "extreme rehab" in West Alexandria...this house needed a LOT of love; perhaps more love than we have to offer. Add to it that the neighbors are <-THIS-> close...this home isn't going to make our short list. Off to College Corner...LOVE LOVE LOOOOOVE this area. Rolling hills, creeks, single lane bridges....Did I mention that I LOVE this area. They have the most amazing log cabin for sale, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, 4 acres, a creek along the side and a cemetery near by (strange, I know...but we love old cemeteries). OK, ok - this place is totally out of our price range (unless I'm up for a major raise...) - it's the one pictured in my previous blog. If we could afford it and it is still on the market in another couple months when we are actually ready to would be our new home.
After lunch in Oxford and checking out the little college town we drove up through Eaton into Lewisburg to see a couple properties (meh..) and then we cut across 70 to revisit our other favorite home (the white house pictured in my last post). When we got there, we found that some jerk had broken the back slider door - we called the police and the listing agent. An officer came out and we talked for a moment. Told him that it had happened just in the past couple days, since we were just here. We talked about how the person had to be a jerk if they did something like this to such a great house. I was if the house was ours already. But then the officer said, 'you know, once I clear the house and make sure it is empty, you are more than welcome to take a look around if you want' LIKE INSIDE THE HOUSE...WALK AROUND AND SEE THE UPSTAIRS AND EVERYTHING!!! Hell yeah!!!! So, he walked around and gave us the all clear...he waited in the kitchen while we looked around and even lent us his flashlight for some of the darker corners of the house. I love this one too. It is a 160 year old home. Five bedrooms (two with their own fireplace) and a full bathroom upstairs. Amazing kitchen, a living room and family room downstairs (each with a fireplace), a dining room, a space that could work as a Master and 1 1/2 bathrooms downstairs. Even a partial basement (root cellar?). A river and MetroPark across the street. Again, I am in love with this home.
It's so strange - one home is perfect, perfectly manicured, exactly what we'd want from a home...and is $173,000 and the other home needs a lot of work, but seems to have SO much potential...and is $74,900. I get giddy and excited about both...I really can't wait to find our home and be able to purchase it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Here's another, eleven, eleven...I love those crazy dates.
This year has been so program (at work) re-launched with stores looking perfect (knock on wood) issues, all products, correct pricing - SO much better than last year.
Mark and I went on a a WHOLE NIGHT BY OURSELVES date! My parents took all five kids overnight for us. Yes, all five. We are so appreciative of them for that. We used some of our Christmas gift cards to have a yummy dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, coffee at Caribou, followed by watching the Black Swan. AND THEN the best thing happened. We went home to a quiet house and talked and dreamed and even kissed a couple times :-) without interruption.
Here's the update on Operation Buy a House - I'm going to be brutally honest on this blog - because I want people to realize that you don't need to be rich with perfect credit to own a home. But you can't go around racking up bills that go unpaid and shred your credit so that you are not credit worthy at all. We had a tough go for a long time - with the five kids and most of the time a single income (our choice). Our credit did suffer. Not because we intentionally "screwed the system" or anything, just life happened. I love our lender. So many times when you have questionable credit - it's embarrassing to reach out to anyone and get the help you need. It's embarrassing to admit that you haven't done so well with finances. I'm in a good spot now - I love my job, the pay is great and we've been working on paying all of our bills ON TIME and not letting things go. We have tightened the belt with spending - thrifting, reusing, repurposing, green cleaning - all of these things have helped tremendously (so everyone thinking it is expensive to be "green" I have to disagree). Our lender pulled a copy of our credit report and gave us a plan to focus on 4 items: one medical bill, two small credit cards and one large card. By getting these 4 items in the right should put our credit in the right range. The good news: we paid the medical bill (sweet) - I contacted the company, got their address, the total of the bill, and a reference number. I made out the check and envelope (with stamp and everything) - even though I wasn't ready to - that - moment. However, as soon as I got a little money in my bank account, I popped the envelope in the mail. Then, there were no excuses - I HAD to account for that money being out of my account. I sent it out; however, it didn't end there. I became pro-active about my credit. I called the company to confirm that they did in fact receive the payment, asked if they could send me a receipt that the account was paid in full and asked them how quickly they would note that the account was positive on my credit report (30-days from payment). NICE!
We took another step forward and then one back (hey, it happens). We had made a large payment to one of the smaller cards - enough to put that card in the right range...YAY! But then our daughter's car broke down and she needed a temporary loan - of course we are going to help when/if we can. It took our entire payment (plus a little all of her money) to get her car fixed...OY! I'm so glad we could help her though.
Our reprieve...INCOME TAXES!!!! That's right people, I'm an income tax nerd. I've been stalking my company's ADP website - waiting for them to post last year's W2 forms. Guess what! They were posted! I immediately hopped onto TurboTax, completed my taxes and e-filed...I'm hoping to have the return by the end of Jan. (according to the IRS the first payout is 1/28...fingers crossed). So how much are we expecting? While I won't share the actual amount here - I'll just say that it's enough to put the two smaller cards into the range that our lender suggested AND take the larger card down about 1/2 way...NOT TOO SHABBY...
We'll spend the next couple of months taking every extra penny and putting it toward that large nemesis. You want to know the strangest thing about this card though? The lender told us to not completely pay it keep a balance on there. The reason: because we had previously closed the card, with the intention of paying it off...if we pay it completely, they will stop reporting our consistently on-time payments - so we get it low enough to be reasonable, not too high of a balance...once we buy the house, we can pay it off completely.
I'm expecting a yearly bonus in March/April of this year that will go where it needs to - perhaps to pay toward the card?? perhaps to the bank, saving for closing costs...or the "what if"?? Our lender said she was working on getting us into a 100% financing program (I'm a first-time home buyer, female, looking to buy a small farm...lots of things working on my behalf); however, I still want to have money in the bank for a number of reasons...what if we find the PERFECT house and it is just a couple thousand outside of our lending approval amount??? What if we find the PERFECT house...except it needs appliances??? We just want to be prepared. Having our nest egg for Fresh Eggs Farm is a necessity for us. So things are looking good folks! I've been struck with the barnheart bug....
...Oh! After proof reading this, I seem to be saying "me" and "I" a lot - I don't want to sound like I am on my own here...Mark is of course along for every twist and turn of the ride...However, since he is currently not working, the loan will (most likely) be in my name...We are for sure in this completely together, we dream together, we work out every detail together...we agree to look at every house together, walk through the threshold together...and I can't wait.
Today, I leave you with a little house porn...these two make my heart pitter patter...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

January First Two Thousand and Eleven

I'm a numbers person. I get excited about unique number combinations...especially on dates. Gage was born 8/8/98 at 8:16 am...Drake at 11/10/00...Cora was born on Kait's half birthday. I think about these things...and this year, this day being 1111 - that has got to mean something...right?
I feel like something HUGE is on our horizon. Work is going well and there are rumors of career growth swirling (promotion? raise?? We'll see...). We are <--THIS--> close to home ownership and a promotion/raise would be so helpful in getting that ball rolling. While I'm not necessarily seeing a Florida future any longer...I am seeing a farmhouse and animals - but more importantly, I am seeing wide-open spaces. I cannot wait to open a door and just telling Drake and our dog Blue to run...watching them run across our land until they are just dots in the distance. Drake told me yesterday that he's looking forward to being in the country and seeing all the stars....Bliss.
I'm not sure how I feel about new years resolutions...It seems that most people make there grandiose resolutions and by the second week of the year they feel that they have failed themselves. I like the idea of making goals and guidelines for the coming year and celebrating when the goals come to reality. Ah sure I need to lose weight, eat better...blah blah blah. But in reality I feel that those things will come. Imagine a time where we can go to our backyard and pick apples, pears and some berries and make a salad...knowing that they are free of chemicals and grown with love. That MEANS healthier eating and hopefully will lead to weight loss. So if I set the larger goals...the smaller goals will trickle down. I also think about my goal of keeping better contact with friends and family - but right now, that is so difficult because of the space in this apartment. We don't feel comfortable inviting people over. The place is bursting with just the seven of us in it. However, when we have a farm house with open spaces, indoor and out, we can feel comfortable inviting people over for celebrations...or just because.
While I am thankful for 2010...we made so many memories this year...but we've also had a lot of frustration, heartache and a feeling of being in limbo. It feels good to look forward to a brand new year...a year with good numbers...a year of high expectations. Thank you for coming along for the ride.