When I last updated about our moving situation, we had received another full-price offer from the couple who put in an offer at the same time as Mr. Cash Deal. When Mr. Cash Deal went back to his wifey, my realtor went to the couple's buying agent and asked if they were still interested. Fortunately, they were, and even more fortunately, they put in the same offer they submitted before. We accepted.
The inspection took place two weeks ago. The inspector and the couple, first-time homebuyers, were in our house for 4.5 hours. We imagined them laying on our couch working their way through our DVR packed with Sesame Street and Caillou while their inspector was furiously typing up a list of no fewer that 437 things wrong with our house.
We waited impatiently to hear the inevitable news that we would have to sink thousands into a house that would belong to us for less than two more months. But the sun was shining on us that day. As it turns out, they wanted the air conditioner cleaned, the fireplace cleaned, and the damper replaced in the fireplace. Oh, and they also wanted the battery replaced in our programmable thermostat. I'm still scratching my head over that one. Grand total: About $500.00. Not bad, considering our house is 85 years old.
And speaking of our old but wiry little beauty, check out these unbelievable photos our realtor took. Considering the main living space of my house usually looks like this:
These? Are pretty darn incredible.
Even my tiny kitchen looks enormous.
As you might have noticed, the kid crap is mainly MIA. We are living out of boxes, and without more than half of our stuff. Isabella is down to a bare minimum of toys (although she recently received some for her birthday, so she's pretty content) and I cannot find a damn thing because mamacita has packed it all away. My mom came back for a week and a half and while I was glued to my computer immersed up to my neck in an intensive training program for my new online teaching gig, she packed my kitchen, my dining room, and my basement. Sometimes she's a wee bit crazy (for example, she told me I should keep Isabella out of preschool this year because of swine flu), but she's pretty darn awesome too.
In many, many ways I cannot wait. There is space in this house. I have felt stifled and claustrophobic in my current house since the twins were born. I am beyond excited to get them into their own rooms. I am over-the-moon about the 2.5 bathrooms in the house. And the kitchen is easily twice the size of my current one. This is the right house for our family.
But in other ways, I am in complete denial about the move. We love our house. We love our neighbors who have become our dear friends, and we love our neighborhood with its sidewalks, streetlights, and 100-year-old trees. Isabella is obsessed with our neighbors next door (more on this later). To leave this house and with it, all the memories we created here, will not be easy.
I plan on making a photo album for Isabella. In it, I'll place photos of her in her room, our neighbors, her friends in our neighborhood, and the special spots (two big boulders that frame one yard, the houses belonging to the dogs she loves petting and waving to) that she likes to visit along the streets surrounding our house. I'm hopeful she'll look at this album and remember her first house. I'm hoping she isn't sad about leaving behind the only house she's ever known.
I know that I won't be leaving without shedding a few buckets of tears myself.
On the morning of her birthday, Isabella woke up and opened her presents from me and the hubs: an easel and a Plan Toys dollhouse, with a few sets of furniture.
After that, we put her in her room for awhile to read books and rearrange her furniture (these are the activities that comprise naptime now), and then it was time to put on a pretty party dress, squeeze the twins like melons for a photo op, and head to grandma's.
The theme was Clifford, of course, and Aunt Karrie outdid herself with this year's sign. Given Isabella's love affair with all things Bleakman, the sign prominently featured Clifford's grumpy old neighbor.
Isabella declined the opportunity to plant a big one on Bleakman's wrinkly old-man cheek, and instead settled for staring lovingly into his bespectacled eyes.
Soon it was time for cake. We ordered the cake from the same person who did Isabella's first and second birthday cakes. I had asked for Bleakman on the cake, but apparently, she couldn't do it. Still a very cute cake, and it tasted just as good as it always has. Mmmm... cake. How I love you. Why do you have to be so bad for my thighs?
Isabella wasn't as into having "Happy Birthday" sung to her this year as she was last year. She was a big shy throughout the song...
...but afterward began to tear through the presents like nobody's business. Last year, I ended up opening half of them, since she wanted to stop and play with each one after unwrapping it. This year, she was all about the unwrapping.
(Do you remember when you were this flexible? No? Me either.)
The weekend ended with an art lesson from Aunt Karrie, who took some time away from contemplating motherhood...
...to offer Isabella some lessons on how to use her new Magna-Doodle to its fullest advantage. In keeping with the Clifford theme, I give you:
"Bleakman's Gesture of Neighborly Love"
"Emily Elizabeth Gets a Job"
Isabella had an amazing 3rd birthday. Thank you so much for all your birthday wishes for her.
Some of you have emailed me asking me for updates on the house/moving situation, and I promise I will post about them next.
My mom rocks, and therefore made a sign (again, enlarged from an image on the PBS website) and hand-colored it. Of course, she's not hip to Clifford and the characters on the show, so poor Charlie ended up as a Caucasian redhead and T-Bone was colored dark brown instead of a light tan, but I've decided to keep loving her anyway. She is, after all, hard at work packing my house as I write this.
Isabella and her peeps had a great time celebrating her party in the yard. My fab friend Kellie let us borrow her snake-shaped sprinkler, and we set out Isabella's baby pool, water table, sandbox, and various other outdoor toys. And of course, snacks.
Isabella had a blast at her party with her friends, and even though I had some concerns about the workability of 9 little kids running around my tiny backyard, everything worked out just fine. And next year, the kiddos will have a big backyard in which to celebrate Isabella's 4th (ohmygod) birthday. Thank you, Lisanne, for taking time out of your busy schedule to help me with the party-planning ideas and links. You are awesome.And so am I.
Can someone please tell me why my photos (which are not blurry on my hard drive) are all of sudden blurry when I upload them to Blogger? I'm thinking it has something to do with resolution, but I haven't changed a thing about the way I take photos OR my Blogger settings. This is SO frustrating!
Today, you are three years old. Lately, when I look at you it's hard to see the baby I gave birth to on that hot and humid day three Augusts ago.
In case you haven't been following his story, Michael Vick, former powerhouse quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, was convicted in 2007 of running a dog-fighting ring at his mansion in Virginia, and then lying about his involvement in an attempted cover-up. He not only ran the ring, he was directly involved in the torture. He electrocuted dogs with jumper cables. He hanged dogs from trees. He drowned dogs in his pool. He promoted it. He funded it. He profited from the torture and death of these dogs. He's now out of jail and has been given the opportunity to play for the Philadelphia Eagles, who just signed him to a one-year deal worth $1.6 million. If he stays into the 2010 season, he'll make millions more.
As an animal-lover, I find what this man did to innocent animals unconscionable.What message does his reinstatement into the NFL send to the children who idolize football players? If you torture and kill hundreds of dogs, that's okay, kid. You can still play in the NFL and be filthy rich.
Yes, other current football players have also been convicted of heinous felonies and are back collecting their inflated paychecks and fan worship every Sunday. But as far as I'm concerned, the depraved indifference to the lives of animals present in someone who abuses and kills them makes that person a special kind of monster, deserving of the harshest sentence and the cold shoulder from his extremely lucrative profession once he's out of jail.
Does Michael Vick deserve a second chance? Sure. He deserves a second chance to leave jail and make a living for himself cleaning toilets, driving a cab, or bussing tables - out of the public eye and away from the limelight, fame, and million dollar contracts of his former profession while contemplating the horror of his past actions. Does he deserve a second chance to receive a golden ticket to play in the NFL, make millions, and be the subject of fan adulation? Absolutely not. After what this man did to those dogs, he should not be allowed to pick up his glamorous life exactly where he left it off.
I'm frankly disappointed with The Humane Society, who is now using his image and fame to shed light on the horrors of dog-fighting.
They contend he's sorry.
I contend he's sorry he was caught.
What do you think?
Both babies are sitting up independently now, although Nicholas still prefers to recline. They can both transition from sitting up to a crawling position, and they've begun to creep forward. Not crawling, exactly, but definitely inching. And they are both rolling all over the place. Not bad for 34 weekers.
Luci and Nicholas are doing very well with self-feeding. They're eating Cheerios, puffs, toast, and tiny bits of cheese on their own. I'm making their baby food with a lot of texture now, and I hope to transition to all table food in the next few months. I feel such mommy guilt when I think of the meals I was preparing for Isabella when she was their age, though. Some of you may even remember that Pru and I even had a baby food blog. R.I.P., Mush.
Their personalities really began to emerge this past month.
Luci may have a career in ultimate fighting awaiting her. She loves to pull her brother's hair, steal his toys, and kick him when they get too close on the floor.
She is feisty and independent and definitely the more aggressive and dominant of the two. I call her "The Beast." She would much prefer to hit the crib immediately when she's tired, rather than rocking with me. That said, she loves to be kissed on her cheeks and her neck (and we love to kiss her). She squeals with joy and can't get enough of it.
(Isabella at 9 months in the same onesie).
Nicholas is my lover-baby. He still prefers me above all others. When I rock him to sleep at night, he curls his body around mine, pulls down the neckline of my shirt, and places one of his hands on the skin of my chest, closes his eyes and falls asleep. He screams (one of these days I must take a video) when I'm not feeding him fast enough, when he wants attention, and sometimes, for no reason at all. He is high-needs and the fussier of the two, by far, but he is incredibly kissable and cute at the same time.
Their sleeping issues are about the same as last month. My desire for a baby that takes decent naps apparently will never be met. Both sleep for maybe an hour (sometimes a bit more) in the morning. In the afternoon, it's on average an hour and a half. I am insanely jealous of those of you who have these marvelous little creatures who just sleepandsleepandsleep. Isabella didn't either (and still doesn't-the end of her afternoon nap is at hand). I suspect Luci would nap longer if Nicholas didn't wake her up constantly, but until we get into the new house and she has her own room, I'll never know.
At night, Luci is still getting up once. She's almost eliminated the 10 or 11pm wakeup/nursing session, and has slept through the night a few times recently, which has been wonderful.
It's inconceivable to me that these two are turning one in just two months (and that their big sister is turning 3 on Saturday). In a lot of ways, I feel like the last year has swallowed me alive. Just as my friend with twins warned me I might, I am having a hard time remembering much about their lives beyond how exhausted I've been over the last 10 months. I remember being so much more "present" as Isabella was in her babyhood. I anticipated each milestone. I couldn't wait to introduce new foods. I was busy, because I was still working full-time from home, but I was nowhere near the level of craziness in which I operate now. Fortunately, I've kept current on their monthly updates on this blog. Because their baby book? Ain't happening right now.
I love you, babies. Someday soon, mama will get her shit together. I promise.
Teeth Count: 0 (following in their sister's footsteps)
Word Count: Luci-"Dada"
Diaper Size: Huggies Size 3
Clothing: 6 months, and some 6-9 months
Life has been on hold in a lot of ways here. Isabella's birthday (and big family party) is a week from Saturday. Her party with a few of her friends is this Saturday, and I've done very little to prepare. She's requested a Clifford birthday party, and I could not find Clifford decorations anywhere. Fortunately, I have an artist mother with a lot of time on her hands who is making most of the decorations from scratch, and a fabulous friend in Lisanne who sent me a list of food, games, and other party ideas that she used for her son's dog-themed birthday party. She even researched Clifford theme ideas for me too.
I've also started training for a new job teaching English and Communications classes online, which is occupying a lot of my time. Ultimately, it's a good thing and I'm excited about the prospect of bringing in a steady source of income.
I've been so busy, I haven't had much time at all to catch up on your blogs. I hate being out-of-touch with what's going on in your lives. Please be patient with me, as I lobby for a 36-hour-day. I'm hopeful that things will return to some semblance of normalcy soon.
What does this mean for the house we're buying?
We removed our contingencies on that house last week. Fortunately, we were able to remove the contingencies based not only on having this cash offer, but also because we qualified for the bridge loan to cover us between the close on our current home and the close on the home we're buying. We didn't want to have to use the bridge loan and we wouldn't have had to had this deal not fallen through. But now we must.
So, our house is back on the market, but may not be for long. The people who put in the other offer on our house last week are still interested, and are presenting us with an offer tonight. It's not a cash deal, and we'll still have to go through the inspection and appraisal process, but it's an offer nonetheless.
I told my friend (our realtor's wife) that once this is over, we are never moving again. Our surviving relatives will have to carry our decaying corpses out the front door of our home. I never knew the home-buying process could be so gut-wrenchingly stressful.
And so it was with the house situation. So many of you commented and emailed me offline that things happen for a reason. Perhaps there was a better house out there for us. Perhaps the deal would fall through and we'd end up with the house after all. I was devastated when I last posted on Tuesday night. I hated the idea that this perfect house was being pulled away from us by other buyers.
On Wednesday morning, the hubs and I got up determined to fight for "our" house. There are three ways to rebut a bump. First, you can show immediately available funds in the amount of the home you wish to purchase. Obviously, if we had that kind of money readily available, we would not have put in a contingent offer on the house to begin with. Second, you can show a mortgage commitment that proves you can carry both the mortgage on the home you're selling and the mortgage on the new home simultaneously. Or third, you must have sold your house, have had it pass inspection, and the party purchasing your home must have a mortgage commitment of his/her own for the house. You have approximately three days to accomplish one of these three actions, which is virtually no time at all. Our realtor told us that very few people can fight bumps. Once you're bumped, most people are dead in the water.
I spent the next three days, from Wednesday to yesterday undergoing a crash course in real estate law. Our realtor and our lawyer worked tirelessly to cover every angle for us. We applied for and received a bridge loan, approved in record time, which would cover us from the closing on our house to the closing on the other property. In essence, this loan would cover us for the funds needed to secure a mortgage on the other house while still holding our own if our house didn't sell right away.
On Wednesday evening, we had three back-to-back showings of our house. On Thursday afternoon, we were presented with two full-asking-price offers, one of which was a cash deal, which waived the inspection and the appraisal of our home. We took this deal. We sold our house in 2.5 days.
We signed a bump rebuttal notice on Thursday night, which removed the contingencies in place for our offer on the other house. It was signed by the sellers of the other house yesterday evening, mere hours before our ability to fight the bump expired at midnight. We were miraculously able to fight the bump in two different ways.
Can you see where this is going?
Barring anything out of the ordinary happening, this big, beautiful, perfect house for our family is going to belong to us. I cannot allow myself to embrace it yet. Too much has happened over the past week for me to believe that it's a sure thing until someone tells me so. But tonight when the hubs and I go out to celebrate our anniversary at our favorite restaurant, which we hit just three times a year (my birthday, our anniversary, and his birthday), I think we'll toast our incredible fortune, in addition to surviving eight years of marriage.
I guess it's time to start believing in providence after all.
The jig is up. The big, beautiful four-bedroom house with the gorgeous kitchen, the huge backyard, and the family room that would easily accommodate Isabella, Luci, and Nicholas and all their toys and books and various gear will soon belong to someone else who put in a better offer on the house than we did. At 8pm on the dot, the real estate agent representing those buyers turned up at our doorstep, and we signed a document acknowledging the bump.
Throughout this process, I maintained that I was not getting attached to the house. I told excited friends and family members that it wasn't a done deal, that in fact it was a long-shot that we would ever make that house our home. Our offer, although accepted by the sellers, was low, and easily subject to someone else coming in with a higher one. I didn't look around the house when we had our inspection late last week. I was excited, but very tentatively so.
But the fact is, I was attached, and I didn't realize the extent to which I was until I learned just before dinner tonight that we were getting bumped. I had selected which of the bedrooms would belong to which of my kids. Isabella would finally have a bedroom, a real little girl's room, instead of a space that's essentially a glorified closet. The twins would immediately be moved into separate bedrooms, where they would have a much better chance of sleeping through the night and taking decent naps, since the cries of one wouldn't immediately wake up the other. I cannot tell you how much I was looking forward to this.
I pictured the playset, complete with the swings Isabella covets, erected in the backyard space we'd finally have. I saw the kids playing in the living room while I cooked (or rather, reheated) in the kitchen while keeping an eye on them through the window opening in the kitchen that looked out over the living room. I envisioned the small coats hanging on the low-hung hooks in the mudroom, the kids' shoes lined up neatly below. I relished the idea of the large master bedroom with the private bathroom located down the hall from the kids' rooms. I looked forward to not having to tip-toe around the room at night, avoiding closing dresser drawers and side-stepping squeaking floorboards, lest we wake the kids whose rooms are located directly next to ours on our small second story. We talked about being able to have the twins' first birthday party in that house, which was such a big deal to us because my grandma's big garage, which is set up as living space in the warm months and where we have Isabella's summer birthday, won't be open in October. This house had the space to accommodate our large extended family easily. And I couldn't wait to once again have my sister and my mom be able to stay with us, something they haven't been able to do since the twins were born, because the house had a room that would serve as my office but also as a guest room. It was that big. There was that much space.
The house had limitless potential. It was a home from which we didn't plan on having to move until Luci and Nicholas graduated from high school, and maybe not even then. And although it was never ours to begin with, I could very clearly see us raising our family there. It had everything we ever needed and more.
A "For Sale" sign was hammered into my front lawn not an hour after we received the news of the bump. The sight of it literally makes me nauseous. The fact that we killed ourselves for an entire week to get our house ready to sell because we needed to get a buyer quickly was all for naught. The idea of having to sell our house and having no place to move to is terrifying. Of course we would make any offer we accept contingent upon us having a house to move into, but how many buyers out there will be willing to wait? A very big part of me doesn't want to sell at all right now. There is nothing on the market in the area in which we're looking for the price we need.
I can't even entertain the idea that there's something better out there for us. That this house wasn't meant to be. Because even though I tried to keep my emotional distance from it, I truly thought it was.
Perhaps there's a silver lining somewhere. Right now, though, as is my way, I'm having a very hard time seeing anything but the clouds.
Together with my amazing family and friends, the hubs and I have spent the last week working non-stop, chopping down trees and trimming bushes, weeding, painting exterior trim and interior walls, and cleaning the attic and the basement of misc. crap we've been collecting for years. We have also moved cabinets, tables, my beloved chair-and-a-half, and 90% of the kid crap to my friend's house and my aunt's house in order to make a 1500 sq. ft. house look like a palatial estate. All this, in addition to washing windows, cleaning floors, and other general housekeeping tasks that we've sorely neglected since the twins were born.
My house now looks the best it's ever looked. Most of Isabella's and the twins' toys are packed away, and the rest are in huge Rubbermaid containers, which we have to take with us in the car anytime anyone wants to see the house. Isabella has been oddly unaffected by the entire process. Granted, she spends most of her time outdoors and not inside playing with her toys, but her toy bins are gone, her kitchen is gone, her bookshelf is gone, and she's only been mildly curious about their whereabouts. We haven't told her we're moving, since it's not a done deal yet. Instead, we've told her we're "making room for her new birthday toys." She's accepted that lame reason without question.
Potential buyers could see our house as early as today. The thought of having to pack up the kids and leave a spotless and clutter-free house with just a few hours notice (or less) has me a bit stressed out, as does the idea of living in a pristine environment until it sells, but it must be done. The sooner we sell this house, the sooner we can remove our contingencies from the other house. I'm willing to do whatever I have to do, as difficult as it's going to be.
But as much as I really want this other house, and as much as I know we need a bigger one for our family, the cleaning and rearranging and de-cluttering of my current house has me loving it again. We moved into this house when we were kids, really. We've lived here for nine years. With all the toys and baby paraphernalia gone, I'm now looking at it as I did then. And there's a part of me that doesn't want to turn it over to someone else, who may not love it as much as I do.
Thank you SO much for all your support, prayers, good vibes, and wishes of luck. The house on which we have an accepted offer had an open house yesterday. I am crossing my fingers that there are no other offers as a result.