Sunday, October 21, 2012

Amongst a stack of cardboard

Moving is exciting. The promise of a new start, a new place! Particularly when the move--like in our case--is a move upwards. A better neighborhood, more room, more privacy! It's thrilling!

But I'll tell you, packing is for the birds. I loathe this part. We've packed over a half dozen boxes of books and still do not have an empty bookcase.

I have packed THREE boxes of tea cups. Three. That does not include the box of cups that I never unpacked from the last move.

My roll-top desk has already filled another box with books. The desk is still quite full.

We haven't packed anything from the kitchen yet, but we did collect two full bags of kitchen stuff to donate. That accompanied three or four bags of items from my daughter's room.

Our apartment is a disaster of boxes, newspaper, toys, laundry. It's a mess. I just keep telling myself, only a week or so more.

What do you hate about moving? What do you love?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Club 33

To celebrate the anniversary of my 29th birthday, my husband worked a small miracle.  With the help of a friend of ours, he made reservations for us to dine at Club 33.

My birthday is in August.  So if you're wondering why I am posting this in October, it's because October was when they were able to secure a reservation.  As I had waited for years to experience Club 33, waiting a few months to have a birthday dinner seemed like nothing.  But I digress.

All that I knew beforehand was that my fella had made arrangements for something special.  He asked that I dress nicely, and told me not to worry.  (He knows that I am not a big fan of surprises.)  We then met up with our friend, David, at the Grand Californian Hotel in Anaheim.

The plan was to meet David for cocktails at the bar in the Grand Californian.  David was to mention that he had reservations for us at the Blue Bayou Restaurant in Disneyland.  As we stood in line for the restaurant, the boys were then going to spring the surprise on me about Club 33.  It was a great plan.  Alas, it did not turn out that way.

When we pulled into the valet for the hotel, my husband produced a note that basically said: "This is a surprise for my lady.  We have reservations at Club 33.  Please do not say anything about our destination.  Thanks."

The first employee quietly read the details, and simply directed Brian to the front of the hotel.  The second employee, however, skimmed the note and asked Brian--multiple times--about our reservations at Club 33.

When my fella turned to me after the cat was freed from the proverbial bag, I could tell he was very disappointed.  His awesome planned ruined.  But I was certainly giddy at the news and could not help but be excited.  And otherwise, the evening ran smoothly.

We started with cocktails in the Grand Californian's Hearthstone bar.  They offered an excellent rye whiskey Manhattan cocktail with three Luxardo cherries!  The atmosphere at the hotel and bar was lovely, and we enjoyed catching up with David and hearing about his recent vacation.  (Oh, how I now long to go to Europe!)

Grand Californian

It was a good thing we plied ourselves with drink, because getting through the park on a Saturday night is always something of an ordeal.  We managed to time it just as folks were gathering for one of the park's many productions.  This one in New Orleans Square.

Main Street was CROWDED

When we finally arrived at the mysterious club door, we were greeted by a throng of children.  One of the adults with the kids mentioned that the club's lobby was full and that we, like them, would have to wait outside.  It's here that I must trail off for a touch, do forgive me:  But who can afford to take along six to eight children all about the age of nine to an $80/person minimum dining establishment?!  Wow, could they adopt me?!

The worst photo ever of the 33

Wait we did, though Brian did push the discrete button to summon the club's greeter to confirm our reservation.

Once inside, we were treated to some Club 33 trivia.  Such as the name of the club was in reference to its address, 33 Royal Street.  When it was our turn to ascend to the restaurant, Brian and I chose to go by their lift.

The lobby and lift

A quick self-portrait

Our photographer and friend can be seen in the reflection

Our host had made a joke about making inappropriate faces in photos, here I asked for him most inappropriate.  He could only laugh in response.

Once upstairs, we were shown to our table.  We were seated in a corner, just off the balcony.  In fact, I was able to stroll along the balcony for a bit, and even caught some of the show that folks had been queueing up for earlier.

Geez, I look maniacal!

We began dinner with another round of cocktails, this time I chose a Sidecar.  (Confession time, I thought the Hearthstone Manhattan was better.)  We each ordered appetizers, David and I choosing the soup--an incredible corn chowder, and Brian opting for a salad, a bright and fresh salad with butter lettuce and mint.

Roasted corn chowder

Brian's salad

For dinner, David had the duck breast while Brian and I had the vegetable tartine.  We also enjoyed a bottle of wine from Steinbeck Winery with dinner.  Dinner was outstanding.  Between the wonderful company and the terrific food (and the flowing wine), I was swept up in the moment.

Vegetable Tartine

Am I already under the table?@!

David insisted that we order dessert, it was to celebrate my birthday after all.  I chose to go with the waiter's recommendation and had their chocolate and peanut butter offering.  David had the cheesecake.  Brian decided to try a bit of each.  The dessert was lovely, the peanut butter ice cream being the real stand-out.


After dinner, we strolled back to our cars.  Too many early evenings, plus all the wonderful food in my belly made me sleepy.  Oh, how I would have loved to have stayed later, but then the boys would've had to have carried me to the car.

Note the microphone in the center of the chandelier, it was to allow the kitchen to know when conversation had died down and plates were ready for clearing

The evening was certainly one filled with great memories.  I am so blessed to have such fantastic people in my life.

Aw, do we HAVE to leave?!

Oh, I have to mention that the ladies room at Club 33 was worth seeing.  It isn't some architectural wonder or anything, but the toilets look like wicker dining chairs.  Yeah, I guess I'm odd to mention that.

Nap time miracle?

Prepare to be shocked, SHOCKED I TELL YOU!

Declan is asleep.  By himself.

I know, I can hardly believe it myself.

If you're currently scratching your head and wondering, "duh, babies sleep all the time, and there isn't enough room in a crib for anyone else," I have to catch you up to our reality.

A sleeping Declan, a wonderful sight
For a start, Declan does not have a crib.  He sleeps in a bed.  My bed to be precise.  (Well, our bed when you include my fella.)  We co-sleep.  While it may not be the best plan for everyone, it is certainly the best solution for us.  It has allowed us to get much more sleep as a whole.  And, I confess, it's a heck of a lot easier for me to just roll over to nurse him back to sleep than it would be to get out of bed, go to another room,  pull him out of bed, nurse him, and hope I can put him back in his crib without him waking again.  So, yes, laziness is definitely a factor.

Back to Declan napping, though...

Declan is not an easy guy to coax into sleeping.  He fights it, be it bedtime or nap.  Trying to get this boy to nap is a chore.  (Well, unless you're my daughter who must have some magic juju or something. Declan is asleep within fifteen minutes.  It's amazing.)  I'll save from the laborious details of what it sometimes takes to get this kid to nap.  But trust me, it's work.

Yet today, not so much.  Sure, my back is still aching from bouncing on a yoga ball for a good half-hour, but believe or not that's nothing!

Maybe he is finally getting used to the idea that he needs to nap?  Maybe letting him play quietly in his playpen before nap time is helping?  Maybe this is the only day we'll have such luck?

Whatever the answer, I'm just glad that it's happening now.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

real estate karma?

So, that dream house? The one that didn't sell while we were going through credit rehab? The one that I wanted so much? The one whose agent led us to believe that they really wanted our offer? The one that then--miraculously--received other offers? The one that couldn't even be bothered to counter offer us and took a different offer instead?

Yeah--that one.

It's back on the market. The offer that they thought was better than ours must've fallen through. SCHADENFREUDE!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

It worked!

Thanks, everyone, for the crossed fingers/lit candles/good joojoo.  We are over the snag, it would seem.

Our realtor, bless her, had the idea of drafting a cover letter for our next repair request in which she would outline all the things that we could be asking for, but were not.  When we made our offer on the home, we assumed that the house included a functioning dishwasher (it's broken), a functioning disposal (also broken), a standard electrical panel (it's waaay substandard) just to name a few.  We were asking that a few, relatively inexpensive repairs be made.  You know, like moving the disposal switch to somewhere that a toddler couldn't turn it on while mom's hands were in the sink.  That sort of thing.  And they were balking.

Last night, our agent emailed over a beginning draft of the letter.  It was brilliant.  Basically it laid out the fact that we want the house, but we want it to be a safe home.  It said that we understood that the sellers want to minimize their expenses.  It asked that we work together to find a happy medium.  Additionally, it laid out the information that I mentioned above--that we were basically duped about a few things about the home when we agreed upon a price.

Well, apparently when our realtor went to the save the draft, she hit the wrong button.  She sent it instead.  Oops!

But this actually turned out to be a good thing!  Their agent called her today to say that they would DOUBLE the amount of money that they had originally offered toward repairs.  SWEET!

Additionally, we've learned that our loan has been sent to the underwriters.  AND our appraisal came back and it looks good--only a handful of teensy things to be done to pass FHA.  PHEW!

I am so relieved!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Escrow stress

Well, we may have hit a snag. Not that such a thing is unusual for escrow.

Like any smart buyer, we paid out of pocket for a comprehensive home inspection. During the inspection, a number of items were called out as potential hazards. Again, nothing unusual for escrow.

We requested some, but not all, of the safety repairs after we had an electrician come out and estimate the cost of such repairs. In addition, we asked to see a termite report on the property. When our agent noticed that the report failed to call out an area of the property that had suffered some water damage, and therefore possible termite damage, the seller's agent told the termite inspection to disregard the information regarding the water damage. He, the selling agent, even went so far as to tell the termite inspector not to revise the report. In so doing, the selling agent was suggesting FHA fraud. Our agent pointed that out to him and he has since agreed to have the termite report updated.

But that isn't the snag. Well, not all of all it, at least.

The sellers have countered our repair request with some of the most ambiguous language possible. We suspect that this, too, is the work of their agent.

We have decided that the best course of action at this point is to send a cover letter asking for specific language, pointing out our insistence that the property be verified as safe and that necessary repairs either be made, or that money be returned to us. Our agent is going to point out his failure to disclose required information in the MLS for the property, too. In short, we are letting the agent know that we will not be so eager as to ignore the problems with the house.

Both our agent and myself do believe that the sellers are amenable and fair. But we also suspect that as their agent sold them the house, he may be attempting to cover the fact that he had sold them a house that was less safe than they thought.

I do not want to lose this house, but I also do NOT want to pay top dollar for an unsafe property that needs repairs and upgrades. I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that their agent will get his act together, that the sellers will agree to our requests (or something similar), and that we will get back on track.

Cross your fingers for us, too, okay?

you know, like you do.

I just found a stash of crumbs in my bra.  I guess Declan was saving that for later.

Ah, motherhood...

Just another day

I am quite grateful that it is only 73 degrees in beautiful Long Beach today. Particularly because I am sitting in my parked car allowing Declan to get as much shut-eye as possible.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

a bit of mitosis

I decided that it would be best to focus this blog on my day-to-day life as it pertains to housekeeping, parenting, and the like--particularly as those subjects relate to my attempts to live with an eye toward the deco period.

I also decided that I would therefore want a dedicated blog to my SCA hobbies.  I have created one that you're welcome to follow.

so much to do

Let's talk about timing, shall we?

Apparently mine is atrocious.  Did I mention that I managed to put a bid on a dreamy home exactly when they finally received other offers, thus choosing another offer than mine?  Yeah, I think that I did.

Well, as I've also mentioned, we are in escrow.  Naturally, this would be happening also when we were getting ready for our annual family camping trip.  This past Tuesday, I had to meet the home inspector at our prospective home, pack for camping, fill out escrow paperwork, et cetera.  Wednesday, we left for our trip after a mad, last minute packing frenzy.  Our trusted realtor made arrangements to meet with another inspector that evening and text us with an update as my fella was busy readying our campsite.  Thursday through Sunday, we camped.  We did our best to relax and enjoy the trip, but for me at least there was that nagging sensation that we could missing something important back at home.

Well, I'm home now.  Dirty, tired, a touch dehydrated.  I'm trying to relax a bit as I know that come tomorrow, it's back into the fray of paperwork, phone calls, housework, volunteering, dog/kid wrangling, and so forth.  Phew!!  Thankfully, it should all be worth it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Escrow checklist

As of yesterday, we have been in escrow for one full week. And what a week it has been! Disclosures, checks, phone calls, emails... We have been busy!

Escrow checklist:

Open escrow account--CHECK
Sign seller disclosure paperwork--CHECK
Sign additional "required by law" paperwork--CHECK
Schedule inspections(s)--CHECK (they're today, actually)
Set up homeowner's insurance--CHECK
Provide underwriters with copy of escrow check--CHECK
Receive perplexing requests for documentation--CHECK
Comply with said request--IN PROCESS
Inspect property--SCHEDULED FOR TODAY
Appraise property--NEEDS FOLLOW UP

In addition to all the fun of escrow, we have our annual family camping trip this week. (Boy, are we awesomely bad at timing or what?!)

Between packing for camping and packing for moving we have managed to box up as little as possible. Whoops.


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