Category Archives: For Better or Worse

Land Not For Sale

First, I have a back-story, but you can skip to the break if you want the short story.

In 2004 Sparring Partner and I bought 10 acres of prairie. The 20 acres adjoining ours were owned by DrC. Over the next two years we built and moved into the home where we currently live. DrC decided to sell his 20. His Realtor, in a case of mistaken identity, asked Sparring Partner’s dad if he was interested in buying the 20 acres next to him. But those acres were next to him, they were next to us. Follow?

SP’s dad, an entrepreneur to be sure, instead of correcting the Realtor that he had the wrong Surname, decided on a whim to buy the 20 acres himself. My FIL never built next to us as had intended to make arrangements to either let us buy the property outright or leave it to SP in his will. Unfortunately, he never followed up on that intent before falling terminally ill and dying a couple years ago. The property became part of the family Trust by default.

A year ago we agreed to buy the 20 acres from that Trust. It was a very difficult decision financially because if FIL had “sold” it to us before his death, he would have done so at whatever his cost had been, which relatively and frankly speaking, was almost nothing. Instead we ended up having to pay appraised value because it was part of a Trust. I agreed to this with the stipulation that we would immediately turn around and sell 10 acres off to defray the cost.

My husband, being the sentimental kind of guy he is, even though the property wasn’t anything more than an acquisition to my FIL, had our Realtor list the property exorbitantly high. He decided that if I was going to make him sell the land, he wasn’t going to let it go easily.

We are not quite to the break, if you’re still following along. This fall we received our first offer, but nearly half of what it was listed. Sparring Partner was so insulted, he refused to even counter. A couple of weeks later, the same buyer made a legitimate offer, albeit still too low. We countered. They came back a little higher. We countered. They came back a little higher. We did not counter. Yes, it was a joint decision. We determined that the potential buyer made the offer because it was their first and preferred choice. Acreage in the area with distinct advantages like ours, are rare. We were convinced we hadn’t heard the last from them.

BREAK (FINALLY!)

Last week, we received an offer to buy 10 acres we had listed for sale. It was from the same people (with the same Realtor) who had made an offer several months ago. There was some countering on both sides, but on Friday we accepted their offer. Our Realtor emailed the paperwork to us to review, and then early this afternoon she forwarded an attachment of a map confirming the property that was to be sold. As soon as I opened the file, my stomach dropped. Due to an inaccurate description, the buyers and their agent had thought they were purchasing the 10 acres adjacent to ours instead of the lot furthest away.

We immediately called our Realtor and told her of the error. I am so disappointed by what I’m sure will be this as a deal-breaker. I’m angry at how careless and irresponsible both the Realtors were for not catching it and misrepresenting the property. Finally, I am just heart-sick for the buyers themselves. We’ve seen them walking the property more than once with a couple of small children and people who were likely their parents. They are a young family hoping to build a home. They’ve stood and watched the sunset on what they thought would be the location of their deck. They probably made announcements this weekend, and even when they went to work this morning, the week of Christmas, that they finally found where they will raise their children.

I wouldn’t want to be the buyer’s representative right now trying to explain how he screwed up, but I feel even worse for that family.

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November 10 – Light Reno Scheduled

I have a contractor scheduled to come in this coming week to tear out and replace a part of the ceiling in our kitchen. Within a year of us moving in, we noticed a moisture stain, which now has spread down the beam. He’ll also be in the attic trying to determine why water is leaking through (or per the original builder of our home, it’s blowing snow) the vents and that it was the way we designed the home and there’s nothing that could have been done. Which come on?! What a crock of crap.

At this time, we will also replace the lights that hang over our peninsula in the kitchen. I was so scared to committing to pendant lights that I had the electrician install track lighting. Since it’s next to the beam, it just makes sense to switch it out now. I’m actually imagining a couple of these which are reminiscent of the lights we would use in the brooder house to keep the new chicks warm. My husband isn’t so sure.

10_inch_artesia_cord_hung_shade_galvanized

Just a short one for the day as I lost two hours to The Walking Dead and The Talking Dead. I won’t even facebook when those two shows are on.

November 9 – Emergency Date Night

Aitch and Doodicus are at those ages that my husband and I are comfortable going out for the evening for dinner and a movie. It’s nice to have the free time without worrying about rounding up a babysitter days in advance. Tonight we had made plans to go to our neighbor’s house for his birthday party. Keep in mind that this “neighbor” is a mile over, not next door. We make sure that the cell phone we keep in the house is charged and not muted and that Doodicus knows he can always call us if he needs something.

We first drove into town to get something for the cooler since the party was BYO, and then headed back out to their home, which all-in-all, took about 35-40 minutes from the time we left our house. We had just parked our truck when my cell phone rang. It was Doodicus. I answered and I immediately could hear Aitch screaming in the background. Doodicus quickly told me that the iPad had fallen on her nose and that it was bleeding quite a bit.

How does an iPad fall on one’s face? Those details are not important.

I got out of the truck’s passenger side and climbed back in behind the wheel and headed back home, leaving Sparring Partner at the neighbors. When I arrived home minutes later, Aitch was sitting on the couch, her face red from crying and a tissue held under her nose. She had a small pile of used tissues next to her, all with blood on them, but I could tell much of it was a mixture of blood and mucous from her recent head cold. She told me that Doodicus had advised her that crying would make it worse. He had even showed her how to pinch her nose and upper lip to slow the bleeding. She went on to tell me that “This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me!”

Both kids are now deep asleep. Aitch might have some swelling tomorrow, and she’s got some dried blood up the one nostril, but luckily she’s fine. Doodicus handled the situation, his first “emergency” on his own, exceedingly well. He addressed her needs first, getting her tissues and an ice pack, and then called us. He’s always made us proud, but there are these moments that help me see that he’s maturing and that he’s on his way to becoming a responsible adult.

November 4 – Nebraskan Goth

I am throwing myself into my new career as a Homemaker (I really don’t like the phrase “Stay-At-Home-Mom” (SAHM)) with gusto. Even though I have a job interview with a bank in a nearby community, I’m hoping that it goes poorly. In fact, I should have just declined the interview, but my sister said it will be good practice. Plus, who knows? They could offer me a crazy salary with obscene benefits and make it impossible to refuse.

Being a Homemaker on 10 acres of property outside of city limits means I need to be prepared to do a little more of the chores outside. If Sparring Partner is taking the kids to school and there’s a foot of snow in the lane, it very well could be me operating the tractor. Chances are slim because the snow-blower and tractor really are Sparring Partner’s toys, but common sense may prevail. I handle the yardwork in the summer, including the mowing on a 60″ mower (it really is a smaller tractor), and one can usually find me mucking about the property on the weekends using my RTV (rough terrain vehicle) (I’ve traded healthcare acronyms for farming ones). Unfortunately, I’ve only been a fair-weather-farmer since living here, content wearing a pair of sneakers, windpants and a t-shirt. Until this past weekend, that is.

If you are from one of the flyover states, you’ve likely heard of Bomgaars. As a child, if we drove the 20 miles into the city, we commonly made stops at Bomgaars. I remember excitedly heading to the lower level to ooh and aah over the gorgeous harness and tack department, which was next to the cowboy boots. Halters were intense blues and reds; saddle blankets were beautifully patterned; bits were brightly polished. Compared to everything we had in our horse barn, which was brown with sweat and dust or tarnished to black, Bomgaars was like going to a carnival.

I still anticipate trips to Bomgaars, especially in the spring. Their nursery items are inexpensive, and I love to show the kids the chicks and ducklings they keep inside stainless steel water-tanks, heated with hanging lamps. This store to me is what Target is to many of you.

Back to my shopping spree…my current cold weather arsenal includes a North Face quilted coat and a long, wool coat to wear over dresses. Neither are quite practical when it comes to laboring in freezing temperatures. Here’s a look of what my new career-wear consists of now:

I know. I'm a sexy beast in my Carhartt bibs.
I know. I’m a sexy beast in my Carhartt bibs.
When I feel like dressing "down", I'll wear just the coat.
When I feel like dressing “down”, I’ll wear just the coat.
I know. You'll all a'quiver now, aren't you.
I know. You’ll all a’quiver now, aren’t you.

The preceding images are from Carhartt’s website. Bomgaars is a great store to physically visit but there’s no on-line shopping. It’s so old-fashioned, one might call it quaint.

Pink makes me feel pretty after all that brown duck material.
Pink makes me feel pretty after all that brown duck material.

These are Muck boots and came highly recommended by our neighbor and her teenage daughters. I was skeptical. Until I put them on. And then I was like my kids should each have a pair! And then I saw the price and then I thought the kids would be fine with their Target brand snow boots since they only wearthem two or three times a season.

And finally, the sales associate with the slight brogue suggested I get a pair of the socks pictured below. I’m glad I got only the one pair because I see that Amazon has them for about 30% cheaper. When I got them home, I tried them on. They were like wearing weightless and non-clunky Ugg boots on my perpetually frozen toes. I’m not even kidding. In fact, I’m already putting the slipper versions on several Christmas gift lists for this year, not to mention a couple more pair for me. Aitch put the socks on and watched a movie wearing them. When I asked her to take them off so she could get into bed, she nearly cried. Seriously, these Heat Holders are perfect with the boots and for kicking up on an ottoman with a bowl of popcorn and a toddy.

I'd invite you to stick your hand in my sock, but I don't want to come off as weird.
I’d invite you to stick your hand in my sock, but I don’t want to come off as weird.

There you have it. I’m still pining for the perfect pair of leggings and a couple of slouchy sweaters to wear with my knee-high Born boots, but if I am to secure my position as a Homemaker, shopping for clothes that hardly anyone will see me in isn’t any way to get Sparring Partner completely on board with this plan. On the other hand, if I’m not careful this will be me come Spring:

And by "me", I mean the one on the right.
And by “me”, I mean the one on the right.

 

This is my therapy.

Lots of things happening, but either not feeling the urge to blog about it or lacking the time. Right now, I’m sitting quietly next to a digital dictaphone while it records the dictation from another dictaphone because I screwed something up at work. Sparring Partner has eradicated the louder humans from the house, so I’m doing what I can with the silence gratefully acquired.

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We were on vacation a month ago. We spent a week at my Southern-living SIL’s vrbo beach house. The arrangements were perfect for us; specifically within a very short walk to the ocean and our own private pool. We had invited another couple and their two children who are close to Dood’s age, but they weren’t able to accept. Instead my single, child-free sister was crazy enough to accompany. I think by the time she got back home to her two cats, she was thankful to be both single AND child-free. I often felt torn between letting the kids dictate the schedule and making sure my sister was able to take advantage of the local offerings.

Unfortunately, the most memorable part of the trip for me was the harrowing return flight. I won’t bore you with details, but please for the love of the sweet baby Jesus, if you bring carry-on luggage with you, and even if you plan on not letting that item leave your side the entire flight, put one of those stupid little tags that are piled on top of the terminal’s check-in desk on your bag. Shit can, and will, happen if you don’t. I was so traumatized that I have cried each time I recount the details.

**********

I recently had a birthday. My mom sent me a birthday card and at the bottom of it she wrote, “Come get your rabbit.” I have no fucking clue what the hell that even means.

**********

My daughter turns five next week. I still get phantom let-down pains when I think about her infancy.

**********

Next month Aitch will start kindergarten. Not a big deal, certainly, but I’m mostly concerned about how my tu-tu wearing, pink! purple!, girly-girl will adjust to the navy/khaki school uniform requirements. I imagine it’s also more of a struggle with girls than it is for boys at that age. The worst part for Doodicus was teaching him how to tuck in his shirts and to button a fly. In the past year, Dood has worn one pair of pants that did NOT have an elastic waist, and that was for his grandpa’s funeral.

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Since my FIL’s death, my MIL has been holding my husband emotionally hostage. If before I didn’t care for her, I now want to kick her in her artificial hips. HARD.

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Sorry to end on what can only be the most somber of notes, but it is important to note that my son’s best friend’s dad committed suicide on July 4th. I had the chance to speak privately with Danny’s* mom the day after the funeral. While the dad probably had always had depression, it was both undiagnosed and untreated, however the circumstances that led to the self-inflicted gunwound were mostly acute in nature; an accumulation of events from the preceding handful of days. If the news hadn’t been horrific enough, Danny was the first on the scene.

I was lucky enough to be able to see Danny the day I talked to his mom, but I was utterly speechless with him. We made small talk as we admired the crucifix his pastor gave him at the funeral. While I am completely heart-broken for the family, I am also very angry at the selfishness of the dad. He left two young boys behind who are THE age they need to have dad around (not that there’s really an age a boy doesn’t need his dad…), but both currently face heavy bullying (one of the reasons my son gravitated to Danny in the first place because they were both picked on by the same kids when they first met years ago). Plus the younger child has emotional issues that likely will have to be closely monitored all his life. It all just makes my head and heart ache. It’s unimaginable the burden the mom carries. At the close of our talk, she said on top of everything else, she feels humiliated by what he did and knows that the community will judge her unfairly. Sadly, she is right. I know being there just to listen will help, but I really wish I had the ability to perform just one miracle…just the one.

*name has been changed

Display Wall for My Children’s Art

Last May, I started a project. I wanted to create a display wall to display the kids’ art. The idea originally came from a photo on Pinterest from this website.

chalkboardwall

 

However, I knew I didn’t want to use chalkboard paint because we currently have a real slate chalkboard in the mudroom and the amount of chalk dust it creates is asinine and I don’t want it constantly mashed into the carpet.

The wall is the hallway that joins Aitch’s and Doodicus’ rooms. In the photo, you can see the doorway to the bathroom that is actually between the bedrooms. This hallway is also right off the living room so it’s highly visible to anyone who visits.

The "before" picture includes my bag of supplies and a toddler potty seat. You're welcome.
The “before” picture includes my bag of supplies and a toddler potty seat. You’re welcome.

Knowing from past trips to the home improvement stores that the cork comes in 12″ squares, I measured the wall for length and then how tall I wanted it to go up on the walls. Simple math: 7 ft wide times 4 ft high meant I needed at least 28 squares. I also bought silicone adhesive, which is why I have the caulk gun. 
2012 006

 

As you can see, each square has a slightly different finish. Originally I considered painting it, but laziness won out. You might also notice that I had to cut around an outlet and a hallway light switch.

corkboard

 

We had left over window trim from when we built the house, which we used to cap the cork board and give it a finished look. A couple of things to note:

  • The corkboard is thin. A standard tack will be longer than the cork is thick so if I ever decide to remove this stuff, the drywall will probably need to be replaced. In hindsight, I could have put down an underlayment of foamcore boards (the least expensive) or doubled up the layers of cork.
  • The package may have said 12″ squares, but they were not SQUARE. I had to do quite a bit of trimming to keep the seams even all the way up and across.
  • The “Every child is an Artist” quote is made up of vinyl letters that I bought from Amazon.

When the kids aren’t paying attention, I’ll replace older pieces with more recent ones. Sometimes they even go hang their own as the mood strikes. I’ve included a list of the supplies *I* used for this project, but you may find yourself needing more or less (obviously). It took a couple hours to glue the cork to the wall, but as I said earlier, it was a year between when I started the project to when it got finished. I am the Queen of Procrastination.

  • Cork board
  • Heavy duty adhesive
  • Caulk gun (for the adhesive)
  • Box knife (and extra blades)
  • Yardstick or straight edge
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Wooden trim (if you want a more finished look)
  • Hacksaw (to cut trim to size)
  • Thumb tacks

240

Imagine this level of Crazy in YOUR home.
Imagine this level of Crazy in YOUR home.

Even though I’ve known his collection was extensive, I just found out that my FIL owned approximately 240 firearms.

TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY GUNS OWNED BY ONE MAN!

And now five children will split that collection between themselves. That’s just shy of 50 each, including to my husband, Sparring Partner. I’m furious.

Would you believe that S.P. thought I would be less angry if he told me that he had no intention of keeping them all? He’d sell most of them. This coming from the man who still has his sibling’s Christmas presents sitting on his desk waiting to be sent out…from LAST year. This coming from the man who hasn’t finished insulating his shop that he built seven years ago and yet recently informed me that he’s ADDING on to it this year (over my goddamn dead body, he is! (which if he gets 50 guns, he increases his opportunities and odds)). This coming from the man who adamantly refuses to let the kids have a trampoline because of how dangerous they are.

I should mention that since he told me all of this about an hour ago, which immediately preceded me telling him that he’s fucking crazy if he thinks he’s bringing any of those guns into our house, he’s been trying to draw me into some small chat about Doodicus’s homework; the night sky; and now just a moment ago, a rerun of Frasier. Does he really think he can baffle me with bullshit?

(Image courtesy of The Guardian.)