Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Nothing Comes Easy: The Saga Continues

As much as we love Los Alamos, absolutely NOTHING comes easy here. At least not for the Moores.

Leni's job was perhaps the largest hassle of our lives. Hassle doesn't even do the situation justice. Shopping for a house was also difficult. Below is the play-by-play of the events that unfolded since we started "house hunting" in April.

WARNING: If you are not in the least interested in the intricacies of a messy real estate transaction, do NOT read on.
  • Being out-bid on 2 houses in the same weekend. Both bids were over asking price. Can't compete with that so we moved on without being too upset.

  • Another bid on a third house accepted but bank refusing to close for 90-120 days. No thanks.

  • Bid on 4th house (the one we got). Agreement come to after their counter offer and our counter-counter-offer. Agreed on a price, some work that they would have done, and a closing date of June 18. Done deal...one would think.

  • Inspection shows that roof needs $4,000 worth of work.

  • In the middle of negotiations regarding who would pay for the roof, I jumped a plane to go to TX to do some work there. I'd been sitting in my seat less than 5 minutes when I heard someone say, "Hi Maggie." There was the seller with 3 of his 4 kids. They were flying out east to see family and his wife and older son would be joining in a few days. He sat behind me with his youngest and the two other kids were seated next to me. "Perfect!", I thought. While I'd been looking forward to napping on the flight, this was a great opportunity to help this guy out with the 2 young kids seated separately from him. They were 6 and 4 so no doubt he would be relieved to have some help and then, perhaps, be more inclined to shell out at least something for the roof, even if he was unable to pay for all of it. The flight was 90 minutes long and I spent each of those being overly nice to the kids. I helped adjust seatbacks, taught them how to lower their trays, opened snacks, helped reach bags, adjusted overhead lights and air...I even let them take turns sitting in my lap so they could see how the window (because the view of the wing was just so good!). Upon landing, I turned on my cell phone only to receive a text from Leni saying that the sellers were unable (possibly unwilling?) to pay for the roof, or even half. Come to find out later, they are 2 years behind on their property taxes so I think it was a combination of both. They offered us $500 and we took it and just dealt with the fact that we are going to fork over some money for a roof later. At least we know about it and there won't be any surprise leaks in the future. I'm most bummed about the energy I put toward being so nice to those draining kids.

  • Week before scheduled closing: loan officer sick and in hospital = major delays in paperwork. Can't be mad at her but frustrating nonetheless.

  • Won't be able to close on June 18 as scheduled so we send a contract addendum to the sellers stating that the closing will now be "on or before June 25th". I assumed they would be pleased to sign this because it was a week of extra packing time. Come to find out they hadn't even started packing their things and refused to sign the addendum saying that wanted to close on the 30th. This was problematic for us because the 30th is in the middle of the week and Leni would have had to take time off work to move. We already had a moving truck reserved to move on Saturday the 26th as well as helpers who had agreed to assist in the move that day. Needless to say, we weren't in the least interested in moving mid week and especially since our landlord was giving us a prorated rent for June, we wanted to be out sooner rather than later. "What are they going to do? Throw us out on the street if we aren't out in time?" was what we're told the seller said about settling on a closing date. Really? REALLY?!?! He had no idea who he was dealing with.

  • Knowing that the sellers weren't very concerned with getting out, we started asking the obvious question: what happens if we close and their junk and 4 kid are still in the house? The answer we got, agreed upon by both realtors, was that at that point, you call the cops and order an eviction notice. Aw crap. As fun as it sounded and as much as I'd love to have the story to tell, I really wasn't interested in making the process any messier than it already was. If it didn't have to come to all that, it would be okay with me. That being said, I was prepared to do it. Without thinking twice. In fact, I was kind of hoping that we'd run into them around town beforehand to drop hints that we weren't above legal action...just to light a fire under them.

  • The sellers' realtor loaded up her car with some boxes and took them over and told them to start packing (not her job!). She also let them know how ridiculous they were being about the closing date and made them sign the addendum finally. Thank you, Teddie Sue! When she called our realtor to let her know that the document was signed, she called them "childish". I couldn't have agreed more.

  • A new closing date was set for the morning of Friday, June 25th. I had hoped that it would be earlier in the week but I also knew that having it on the last possible day would probably deflect more drama from the sellers.

  • A pre-closing walk-through of the house was scheduled for the evening before closing. This would be the moment of truth. Would their stuff be out? Would the house be clean? I was worried because I'd seen pictures that the appraiser had taken less than a week before and noticed that no packing had commenced when they were taken. So either they wouldn't be done and out, or they were quick workers and pulled it off. Both sellers, it should be mentioned, are teachers with the summer off. There would be NO EXCUSE for not having everything done.

  • At this point, I'm trying not to let this make me into a pessimist but it's tough. Although I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that the place would be in good order, I was wrong. 7PM on Thursday before closing comes around and finds us at the house with just our realtor. Thank God the sellers weren't there because there may have been bloodshed. The place was trashed. Not damaged but there was a pile of junk in the garage and every room had trash in it. There were clothes in the dryer and empty soda cans everywhere.

  • As the three of us crouched on the pet-stained floor of the master bedroom, we made some phone calls and found some things out. First, the sellers were planning on having a professional cleaning service come the next morning. That's calling it close, but whatever. Second, we called the loan officer only to be told that our loan paperwork was not yet ready and that we wouldn't be able to close tomorrow. Again, I don't fault her because so much of that stuff is out of her hands. But she should have called us to tell us long before. We shouldn't have had to hear that over the phone 17 hours before the second scheduled closing.

  • So that put us in a pickle. We wanted to be able to call the sellers and demand that they clean up their shiz. But without the promise of a ready-to-go loan, we didn't have anything to back ourselves up with. We decided to wait until the next day and see what would change by then (both in terms of the loan as well as the state of the house) to make a decision.

  • Walk-through, take two. Friday afternoon comes around and we, once again, met with our saint of a realtor and we walked through the house again after the cleaners were scheduled to be finished. Trying to assume the best here. This time, the house was in very good order but there was still a bunch of junk in the garage and driveway. All things considered, it was probably the best we were going to get. Still, the loan was not ready

  • Not wanting to wait for the loan to get approved by the middle of the next week , we went ahead and moved in without closing. We signed another addendum regarding closing date (this time, on or before June 30th) as well as an occupancy agreement saying we'd pay the sellers $40/day to live in the house until closing and the sellers agreed.

  • Moving went well. My brother and sister-in-law came up on Friday afternoon and stayed long enough to get everything but a small carload of odds and ends over to the new house. Many thanks go to them for this. Those stairs leading up to the front door were a pain and the process would have been much more drawn out had we done this by ourselves.
So that's the saga as it stands. We're told that there are very good chances that the loan will be ready to close tomorrow since it is the end of the month. Apparently, it will be a blow to the loan company to have to go into July to get this done. As of yesterday, they had all the information they needed and had sent it to the underwriters for final approval with an order to put a rush on it.

Stay tuned for the end of the story. I'm doing the same.

Keep It Real!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Who is this "Craig"?

Confession: I love me some Craigslist!

I'm a CL master. It seems pretty rare that I go down to Albuquerque or Santa Fe without brokering at least one CL deal, if not two. Recent CL finds include:
  • Beautiful queen size oak bed frame
  • Lawn mower
  • Coffee table with drawers
  • 12x10 rug
  • GPS
The bad news about CL is that in order to find the good deals, you have to sort through the lame ads. Usually, when I read one, I move on to the next ad and don't think twice about it.

Sometimes, however, I run across one so ridiculous that I can't resist the urge to email them and tell them what I think. Below is an ad I read today that falls under this category. I found it in the "free" section:


I couldn't help myself. Something had to be said. Below is the email I sent to the person who posted the ad:

With all due respect to you and your beliefs, I have to say that your post on craigslist was a crock.

If you honestly believe in God, then you know that He is all-powerful, all-loving, and everywhere. You cannot confine Him or box Him in. Saying that something great will happen during a particular time on a specific day puts God in a box. It says that we have control over Him. Even to promise a good thing, regardless of when it happens, it not ministry unless you are talking about Salvation. But beyond that, we can't promise people that good things on Earth will happen. Suffering is a part of life and I fear that if anyone were to believe your craigslist ad, they would be misled.

I think it is great that you wanted to post an ad with a good message about God. The fact that your faith is welling up out of you and you don't know what to do to express it is a wonderful thing. But if you REALLY want to spread the Good News, a better message might simply be this:

"You are loved. Life may be full of struggles now but if you belief in Christ, you will be with Him in heaven for eternity. Though I do not know you, I will pray for you. Pass it on."

Please do not be offended by my words. But if you are, then I will be praying for you

Maybe I should just move on and mind my own business but I just couldn't resist.

Keep It Real!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another Rant

I've been somewhat disgusted lately with the poor (in my opinion) decisions that parents make that the media glorifies. When talking about this, I've been agreed with in some instances, and told I need to chill out in others. See what you think.

First of all, let's just get the obvious stuff out of the way. Disgustingly large families and reality television. (John and) Kate Plus 8, 19 Kids and Counting, the Octomom. I don't care what the intentions of the parents were, be it money or showing the world how their families work. No one will ever convince me that these experiences are good for children. I have my own doubts about how parents in abnormally large families can provide the appropriate amounts of care and attention that their kids deserve, even when not being constantly filmed. But adding in the details of film crews, network deals, and sponsors and you have a full on mess that no doubt consumes a lot of time that parents should be devoting to their families. No amount of money can replace that. Shame on them.

Next is the related concept of child stars. It goes without saying that many children and youth are are put on stage and in front of the microphone, while perhaps talented and successful, often suffer from legal and drug problems at some point down the road. These young people are no doubt talented and I'm sure that in most cases, their parents are well-intentioned, thinking that they are allowing their kids to use their gifts while yielding a fortune that will provide the child with future financial security. My question, however, is whether or those things are worth exposing their children to the very adult world of showbiz before they are mature enough to handle it. I won't even belittle this with examples. Shame on them.

A name you may or may not have heard is Jordan Romero. Last month, Jordan, became the youngest person to summit Mt. Everest at age 13. Mt. Everest is by no means the most physically dangerous peak to climb, but the status of having bagged the highest peak on the planet causes people to sometimes make poor and even deadly decisions. In May of 1996, 18 climbers passed away, including 11 in a single day. These people are crazed. As a result, Mt. Everest has become grossly commercialized. So when it was announced that parents were allowing their 13-year-old to attempt this feat, I was disgusted. Yes, he was accompanied by experienced Sherpas and his father, but I don't think that any planning or precautionary actions can make up for putting a child in such a dangerous situation. Jordan summited and descended Mt. Everest safely, thank God. But knowing the potential risks, I think his parents would have been better off having him complete the journey when he was older and instead encouraging him to start working on his Eagle Scout project for now. Shame on them.

Most recently is the story of Abby Sunderland, the 16-year-old American sailor. While attempting to complete a circumnavigation, Abby's boat capsized in the Indian Ocean, ending her journey. After 4 terrifying days, she was rescued and is now safe at home. In a nation where most states don't even give full driver's licenses to 16-year-olds, what made Abby's parents think that giving her a fishing boat and pushing it out to the high seas with her alone for several months was a good idea? Of course, they are talking about letting her try again. Shame on them.

How about we let kids be kids? If your kid has an extraordinary talent, that's great. It'll still be there when he or she is a grown, mature, good decision-making adult. I promise.

Keep It Real!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Under the Big Top

Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages...welcome to the big show!

Of all of our busy June weekends, this was Cirque du Soleil Sunday. The 'rents came to town and treated us kids to a Cirque du Soleil (CdS). English translation: Circus of the Sun. To date, there are 26 different shows touring the country all with different characters, music, and themes. In the spring of 2008, Leni's parents treated us to the show, Saltimbanco. This time, we saw Alegria.

If you haven't seen any of these shows, I highly recommend it. After feeling like a total failure as a human for having absolutely no relative athletic ability (in comparison with CdS performers), the show brings an awe and wonder that is virtually unexplainable, try as I may. The things that these people can do with their bodies is astounding. The physical strength and flexibility that they possess blows my mind every time. It was truly amazing and more exciting than that was seeing how happy my mom was at the show. She's wanted to see it for years. You would too! Just look at what these people do:

Other fun highlights of the weekend included a family walk to a nearby park with 6 people and 5 dogs, some very serious thrift shopping at a local flea market and Goodwill, delicious food, and a rousing game of Hoopla featuring my anti-board-game father having to act out the word "dump". Use your imagination.

Note to self: next time you leave for the weekend, don't leave stinky food waste in the kitchen trashcan. Rookie mistake.

Keep It Real!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Daily Rant

So I don't actually post daily rants. But that doesn't mean that don't happen. Rest well assured of that!

Today's big rant was to my mom at the grocery store and it had to do with lines at check out. A couple years ago, a check out line at a grocery store was no big deal to me. Just part of doing business, you know?

However, in today's world of self-check out, there's little to no excuse for lines. Especially at 10:45 in the morning. If there is no one around to man the little help counter that oversees self check-out, that's one thing. But to see a grocery store with only 3 or 4 normal check-out lines being used, each with long lines, and 6 self check-out stations where only 2 are open (still with long lines) is just ridiculous.

As long as there's already an associate assigned to the area, why not open the rest? It makes no efficient or business sense.

If anyone can think of a logical reason for this seemingly senseless reality, please let me know. In the mean time, I'll plan to spend 70% of my supermarket time in line coming up with innovative ways to move things along.

Keep It Real!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Camp Consulting, Part II

Hello from Texas...I'm only happy to say that because it is so very temporary!

I got here this past Wednesday evening. The Pines, the camp for which I formerly worked, paid for me to come out and help train the current Assistant Director, Bri, in the use of some camp software that she needs to understand well before Day 1 with campers, tomorrow.

Good friend, Stacy drove me from the airport in Dallas to camp and stayed until Friday morning. It was definitely great to get to spend the extra time with her when I was not working with Bri.

It was also delightful to see non-camp-affiliated friends close by, Josh and Kalyn. They were gracious enough to take me out to dinner on Friday night as well as a walk from their house to a frozen custard stand in town.

Today has been a "day off" for the camp staff in between staff training week and the first session with kiddos. I helped run some errands and finish up some last minute projects around camp in preparation for camper families arriving tomorrow. I will assist Bri as she uses the camp program during camper check-in tomorrow and then fly back to New Mexico on Monday.

Newsflash: it's freaking hot in Texas. I'm handling it well but it has been a gross reminder of one of the reasons I left this state. On a happier note, my visit here has reminded me of a skill that one only uses in Texas. Good news, folks: I can still do the Boot Scootin' Boogie.

Keep It Real!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

For the First Time in a Long, Long Time

May 31st, 1999.

Adulthood had been upon me for exactly one week. I had graduated from Blue Ridge High School 9 days prior. A long summer behind the register at Arby's awaited me. It was also the most recent Memorial Day I had to lazily enjoy and do whatever I wanted.

Until now.

This past weekend marked the beginning of my first "free" summer in a decade. As most know, my summers have been swallowed for the past 10 years by summer camp, be it in Wisconsin or Texas. I used to laugh at people who claimed to have a "busy summer". They have no idea what they are talking about. And while my weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day are filling up fast (6 of 15 left! Call and get on my calendar!), I know that there is an army of summer camp counselors and administrators who used this past weekend to prepare for the onslaught of campers who will arrive throughout the summer. Knowing how these amazing people will change lives this summer, I am genuinely excited for them and my prayers are with them.

That being said, I'm psyched to live a normal summer for the first time since my late teens. To have the freedom to go to weddings again. To choose my own menus rather than eat in dining halls (not about food quality mind you....just to have my own options). To enjoy a summer rainstorm without first coming up with a back-up plan for the 200 campers whose schedules demand beautiful, clear weather. To wander around farmers markets.

It is important to note that my excitement for this summer should not be confused for a dislike of summer camp by any means. Summer camp has shaped me as a person and for that, I will always be eternally thankful. See my related post about it from the end of last summer.

I digress...this weekend we opened the summer season around here by doing as much fun stuff as possible! You may remember from a previous post that we were supposed to have gone to CO to hike Mt. Lindsey over Memorial Day. However, a season of heavier than normal (I'm told) precipitation left the summit under much more snow than usual. Wanting this trip to be difficult but fun and not ridiculous and miserable, we decided as a group to postpone the Mt. Lindsey trip until the 4th of July. I'm very pleased with this decision. So instead, our weekend was filled with lots of little things.

Friday after work brought the smell of grilled green chile burgers and heading downtown for a free concert at the park, as offered every Friday night in the summer here in Los Alamos.

While at the concert, I saw something amazing:

Yes friends...that's the elusive mohawk-rat-tail-spiderman-facepainted-superman-shirted local. Sorry the pic isn't great but you can only get so close when taking creeper shots of strange children. Especially with mulleted dad nearby!

The free concert series brings lots of people out of the woodworks (clearly). Music, food, beer, vendors, dancing...such a wonderful community tradition!

On Saturday, after sleeping in a little, we packed a lunch and loaded the dogs up into the truck. Destination: San Antonio Hot Springs. About an hour drive away and a 5 mile one way hike to the actual springs. It was gorgeous:

Between the 10 miles of round-trip hiking and the new boots, my feet were definitely uncomfortable by the end but I'm still glad we went. Wore out the dogs and took a chunk out of wearing in the new boots, a good thing for sure.

Sunday was a little more lazy. Church, house cleaning, some financial business, resting, etc. Definitely a nice break.

Monday found us on the road. We headed down to the Albuquerque area for some four-wheeling with Nick, Claire and Dottie.

Congrats to Nick and Claire, by the way, on finishing each of their first full years of teaching. They have definitely earned this summer off!

So there it is. A kick off to what looks to be a wonderful summer. July 9-10 is my next available free weekend. Anyone up for anything?

Keep It Real!