Monday, May 30, 2016

Closing a Novel

Someone said to me yesterday that we're "closing a chapter" in our lives. Nope...this is more like completing a novel in a series. We've spent six years in Central Florida. We've made close friends, put down deep roots, adopted three kids, given birth to another kid, moved three times, bought a house, had kids at four different schools, and made a gazillion memories. No, this isn't a chapter...this is a novel.

The house is all packed up. The truck is loaded. Matt is finishing loading the U-Haul trailer that he'll tow with our mattresses, bedding, towels, and other last-minute things. I'm cleaning the house today. Even though we'll still sleep here for two more nights, we won't be home except to sleep.

On Wednesday morning we'll blow kisses and breathe prayers of thanks over our years here and move westward for a fresh start.

Goodbyes are hard and moving sucks, but it's time and I'm ready.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Budding Artist

I had a conference with Sunny's teacher this morning. We went over Sunny's portfolio of work from the year. At this time last year, I was agonizing over the decision I had to make to retain her in 1st grade. The school wasn't in support of my decision, and I had to fight for it. But I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was NOT emotionally or cognitively ready for 2nd grade. This morning's conference couldn't have been more different! This time I can celebrate the end of 1st grade, knowing that my girl has a solid enough foundation to move forward with confidence. Goodness knows she struggles enough just with the basics of life! The last thing she needs is constant frustration at school. During the conference, her teacher showed me some of the beautiful art piece Sunny created this school year. I got to bring home the portfolio. Three of the piece take my breath away. They were done on her tracing, no instruction. Just her creativity. I love the use of color. I love the representation of her ideas. I think once we get moved and settled, I'm going to invest in some formal art classes for her. I think it will be therapeutic as well as fun. So without further ado, check out these 8-year-old masterpieces!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Jar of Love

I love Mother's Day. It's the day my kids give my homemade gifts. Homemade gifts are the very best kind. I'd rather get a book of lovingly created child's artwork than jewelry. Not joking! My favorite gift from this year (not counting the gift from my husband) came from Sunny. She finger painted adorable flowers on a mason jar, and then filled the jar with hand written sentiments. Sunny has learning disabilities. She has dreadful almost illegible. Spelling and reading come extremely hard for her. Her sentiments are a perfect example of this. But gosh...are they CUTE!

i LoVe winyuo hug me.
I love when you hug me.

I LovE eore smooLe
I love your smile.

I LoVe yuo Becos pive me SrocsP
I love you because you give me snacks.

i Love you Becace You aer nICe to me.
I love you because you are nice to me.

I Love you Becoucs yuo cientoLE
I love you because you are gentle.

i LoVE yuo bcose you nivr hotre me
I love you because you never hurt me.

I LovE you bekas you awees takArE uf me
I love you because you always take care of me.

This child struggles so greatly in her life. She fights Matt and me almost every waking moment. She may or may not ever recover from her early life experiences. But these sentiments--written entirely on her own--are proof to me that she is starting to love. And that gives me hope. I couldn't ask for anything better.

My hubby nailed it this year, too. He hand crafted this beautiful shelf for my essential oils. The shelf is made of oak. The middle and bottom shelves pull out. It can hang on the wall or sit on the counter. I absolutely love it! Best gift I've received in a long time. Way to go, Matt!

And I have to include my favorite photo from today. My sister bought a beautiful dress for Sweet Pea for her birthday. I love these two pictures of my Sweet Pea and me. My precious little miniature!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Feeling Violated

Selling a house is really not fun. First, there's the process of getting it ready to sell. For a family the size of ours, it's no easy task. First, there was the initial purge. Get rid of clutter. Clean up the house. Next came doing some repairs and fixing up some things. Painting a few rooms. Cleaning the carpets. Scrubbing the pool area. Patching the holes Sunny has kicked in the walls in her fits of rage. We listed the house and had a flood of showings the first two weeks. Feedback came in.

Violation #1: "Your house doesn't show well." "Nice house, but priced too high for the condition of the yard." "You need new furniture." "Too much clutter to really see the house." People coming in and criticizing your home is not fun, people.

Second purge. Get rid of more stuff. Pack up everything out of the closets and store it in the garage. Paint a couple more rooms. Lay sod in the side yard. Plant some fresh plants in the lanai. Take out the older furniture and donate it to Goodwill. Show the house some more.

Violation #2: Come home from a showing and discover the people used your bathroom...which is fine...but left pee on the seat and bathroom floor, and a pube on the seat...which is not okay in any way, shape, or form. Not okay at all.

Work your behind off every single day to keep the house in apple pie order, a monumental task with six kids around making messes behind you.

Violation #3: Strangers and strangers and strangers coming through your house at all hours of the day. And getting no offers on your beautiful home. Great feedback, but no offers.

Have a stager come in to look at the house so you can maybe figure out why you're getting no offers.

Thus, Violation #4: "Oh this color is so outdated. I know you like it, but it makes people want to leave your house. You need to paint. Your table decor is too small. It looks dwarfed. You need more sophisticated art. You want a family to buy your home, but a house this big needs to attract a family with money, and your house looks too lived-in."

Paint over your beloved red dining room. Hang sophisticated art and put fake orchids in the bathrooms. Put a slipcover on the comfy couch. Put giant glass bowls on the tables.

Violation #5: Figuring out the stager was right...your beautiful red dining room was a problem. You know this to be true because the next person to see your home makes an offer.

Violation #6: Knowing what your put into your house in the last 18 months...not just money, but time, energy, love, blood, sweat, tears, heart, and soul...and then getting an offer that doesn't reflect the value of your home.

Countering the offer. Countering again. Finally standing up and saying, "Don't try to get a bargain on this home. Offer us what it's worth or walk away. We're not paying your $14,000 of closing costs, and we're not taking another $13,000 off our list price.

Violation #7: The Inspection. Some dude going through every corner of your house with a fine tooth comb, looking for what's wrong with it. Your beloved home that you worked so hard to maintain and care for properly.

Violation #8: The buyers hanging out at the house for 2 hours after the inspection is done. Y'all, it isn't your house yet! Go away already so we can come home.

I know I'm probably being overdramatic here. But y'all, it's how I feel. This isn't the first home I've sold, so this isn't new to me. But I have hated it both times. I'll tell you what, though...I do have some tips for potential home buyers.

1. Don't ask to see a house if you are a casual shopper. When you ask to view a house, the homeowner spends hours cleaning and preparing, and then has to leave when you come. It's highly inconvenient to the seller.

2. Predetermine what size range you want, and then only look at houses within your range. If you don't want a home larger than 2800 sq ft, then you have no business looking at homes that are 3600 sq ft. I kid you not...24 of the 35 showings of our house said it as way too big for them.

3. If the cost of the home plus the closing costs are outside of your price range, don't look at the home! Definitely don't make an offer on it and expect the seller to pay all your closing costs. Chances are, if they are selling one home, they are also buying another home, and paying your closing costs takes their money away from them.

4. If you use someone's bathroom, clean up any mess you make.

5. Turn off the lights before you leave. You don't know when the seller is coming back, and there's no reason your carelessness should cause an increase in their power bill.

6. Don't let your kids go into the fenced pool area. Definitely don't let them get into the pool, even if it is just on the steps. And absolutely don't let them walk back into the house with wet/dirty feet.

7. When you leave feedback, don't insult a person's furniture. It's not part of the house and has nothing to do with you.

8. Remember that you are looking at someone else's home. Treat the home with the same respect you would wish to have your home treated with.

There. Rant over.

Oh...also...paint is paint. It cost us $42 to put a cream paint over the red dining room walls. Don't tell a seller they have bad paint colors. If you don't like their choice of colors, you can easily have the walls painted when you move in. If there are bold colors in several rooms, ask for a paint allowance when you make an offer. Chances are, the sellers are too worn out from the stress of selling a home to want to paint, and they won't mind giving you $500-$1000 to offset the cost of painting when you move in.