Saturday, July 25, 2015

The windows shattered

The house is ready. It was ready at exactly 2:29 yesterday. I texted Husband and said, "The house is (almost) ready. Huge sigh of relief." I invited a friend and her daughters over for the afternoon, as renovations are noisy and her kids were sick of hearing the nail gun.

We sat and chatted in the kitchen as I unloaded the dishwasher. It was a quiet day, a nice and lovely moment in time-- a homemaker enjoying the company of another and the kids doing the same. Susie the realtor came by to inspect the house.

We were ready.

Sans Leenie's room- the girls were quarantined within her purple walls accompanied by only the toys that they could reach. And they could reach a lot of toys. Apparently... Little Miss Leenie, who has been getting paid 25 cents a day to clean her room, has been stuffing them under her bed.

Child labor is not what it used to be.

And, yes, I do pay her exactly twenty five cents. No judgement.

Her room was a disaster, but they were enjoying the process of making the mess. I was enjoying the company of their mother. Totally worth it.


Wynn came to the kitchen to tell her mom she was ready to go home.

Normally, we have to tear the girls apart. I'm not talking about saying, "Okay, one more hug and then we need to get in the car." I am talking about picking up a screaming kid and saying something along the lines of, "If you ever want to see her again, you will stop this right now..." as she scurries under the bed a little further. Not under Leenie's bed, it's full of toys.

We found it odd and I asked her if she wanted a snack.

"Yes, M'am."

As she turns to head in the pantry, Homemaker gasps a gurgle of a gasp and whispers, "I think there has been a haircut."

Maybe I was pious. Maybe I was ignorant. Maybe I should have checked under the bed.

"No-- no she didn't get a haircut. Leenie knows better. And, besides, even if she doesn't- I don't allow scissors out of the bowl on the fridge."

It's a fail-proof system. The scissors are stored higher than they can reach. With a chair... higher than they can reach on a chair with a stool on their tippy toes and Bennie on Leenie's shoulders. The scissors are that high.

Because I know that Leenie knows better than to use scissors for things other than paper.

Wynn came back around the corner and there was a snippet of hair missing.

I am wide-eyed, mortified, and certain that my friend will never return to our house. Certainly, how can I blame her? Her daughter got a hair cut by hand of a six year old. MY six year old.

Standing in my kitchen and at the top of my lungs, I calmly enunciate," EILEENCAGLEGETUPHERETHISINSTANT."

Wynn hid under her mother.
The windows shattered.
The pitter patter of six year old feet pittered around the corner and tears were in here eyes.

Perhaps I was a little loud.

"Wynn start..."


The humor in the moment is starting to erupt and dwindle out my anger.

My kid has bangs.

My kid has bangs and ringlets of hair all over her shirt.

Bennie has also came around the corner in this moment and her hair has also been snipped. She jumps in front of the live grenade and says, "Look Mommy! Look! Hair-- alllllll GONE! Bye bye hair! So pretty!"

I close my eyes and try to focus on not laughing.

[ dead grandparents. do not laugh. David Hasselhoff. - wait, he's funny. packing boxes. Roseanne Barr in a bikini. 10,000 spoons. do not laugh. non-alcoholic wine. c-sections. traffic lights. Deliverance. Ebola. Alanis Morsette. ]

I am quivering, trying with all my might to find something in this moment to maintain my parentage.

Don't look at the other adult in the room. Wynn continues to shake in fear. The more she shakes, the more hair falls on the floor beneath her mother.

Two of the three children are sobbing, knowing they did something really wrong.

Setting aside the obvious, they had a haircut, and not really caring who did it-- they were both guilty on some level-- I beg the obvious question: Where did the scissors come from?

I walk back to her room and it looked like the Hair Club for Men Outlet store.

There were locks of blonde curls everywhere. Straight pieces, curly pieces, it looked like a wig factory got caught in a wind storm. I was speechless. The scissors that caused the damage? Oh, they were barely two inches big.

After Homemaker left-- almost a skinny second after we discovered the Summer Scissor Incident of 2015-- I texted Lyndsey, who does my hair:

Lyndsey's at the beach. Leenie got shipped off to Moultrie the next day so Cookie, a barber by trade, could take care of this little fiasco.

And if I heard it one time from one person, I heard it 17 times from 17 grandparent age people-- "Every little kid does it at least once."

"Mama, I don't remember ever getting a hold of scissors," I said to my mom.

"You were the exception."

Yes, yes I was.

Friday, July 10, 2015

a little Q and A

Hold the phone. You're selling?

Surely you have another house in mind. Where did you find one?
We actually don't have a house yet. We have been looking, but nothing jumps out.

Where are you looking?
We want to stay in the Forrest Hills area. Specifically, we want to be in Murray Hills/Westwick. Yeah, we looked at the houses on the market already. Meh. Know of anyone thinking about selling? Shoot me a message!

How much are you listing the house for?
There are four things you should never talk about: sex, politics, religion, and finances. That being said- we are listing the house for $469,900. I always love it when people put the $900 on the end of the listing price.

Okay, $469,900- where'd you get that?
Based on the square footage and looking at reasonable comps in the area-- reasonable meaning that we did not include the newly built Jimmy Garren home that sits beside us or some of the other new construction on Donald Ave in our excel sheet-- based on the footage of the house and what the homes are selling for, we came up with $482,000. If a bidding war gets dropped in our laps (wouldn't that be cool?), we would expect it to land around there.

The reality is- you can't always get what you want. People want deals. Everyone wants to walk away winning. After talking to Susie, our realtor, and knowing that the house could sell at that price, but we did not want it on the market for an extended period of time, we settled in at the $469,900 mark.

Tell me about the house. Wait, that's not a question. What are the important stats?
This is a five bedroom, three bathroom, 4,200 square foot home that sits on an acre of land. It's a ranch- a rambling ranch at that. This is one story house with a small basement that we finished. Currently, the fifth bedroom is our playroom with the guest bathroom. The playroom is bigger then the master bedroom.

There's a huge pool in the backyard, like 40,000 gallons huge! The 20x40 gunite pool stays pretty cold even in the summer.

Wait. Didn't you just buy the house?
No, we didn't just buy the house. We invested in our home 27 months ago.

Wasn't it a time capsule to the 1960s before you opened the doors?
Indeed it was. We had wood paneling, blue shag carpet, a wall paper mural and a lot more walls. The windows had 155 panes of glass and the doors had trouble opening and closing, being that they were fifty years old. We even had a built in blender.

What happened to the built-in blender?
We thought about keeping it, but thought that leather finish granite countertops might be a little cooler. Now, I keep a Cuisinart plugged in under the cabinet and pull it out whenever I need it. We even got rid of the PotScrubber400 dishwasher and installed an industrial, ultra-quiet garbage disposal. You'd never know a garbage disposal could be so quiet. Thanks, Eddie the Plumber for the recommendation!

Okay, one should never talk about finances. I get that. But, ahem, if I were to ask why are you selling, would that be tacky?
No. It wouldn't be. You wouldn't be the first to ask either. But, you have to ask.

Why are you selling?
This house is awesome. When I walked in the front door, I knew that this place had crazy potential. The previous owner built this as his dream house and meticulously planned the details of the layout to accomplish a couple of things:
(1) a good flow for a party
(2) a haven for his teenage kids
(3) a place to retire

That didn't answer my question.
No, but you didn't let me finish.

A few reasons:

(1) Habits are hard to break. Since I was 16 and Husband was 18, our lives have been lived three years at a time. College, medical school, residency, fellowship-- all those things were three to four years. We are coming up on our three year mark and are getting the itch to move.

(2) We don't do well at sitting still. I know you find this shocking. But, this project is nearing completion. Our goal is to leave things more beautiful then how we found them. This house was a disaster when we bought it. It hurt the neighborhood. It hurt the area. It had the potential to cause problems to the land and the people surrounding it. It was vacant, waiting to either be improved or continue down the path of demise.

(3) Medical school did not come cheap. Essentially, we put a mortgage on Husband's brain and now it is time to pay the piper. The loans are easy. The money is taken out of our account the day after Husband gets paid. It's a mortgage. It's a mortgage that we don't want to be paying on anymore.

Blah blah blah... I get it. Student loans. But, to beg the question- what do student loans have to do with real estate?
By selling The Manor, we will be able to say PEACE OUT to the mortgage on Husband's brain.

We don't have to sell our house. Let me be perfectly clear on that. There are no difficulties, no problems, no strifes that we are facing. We want to sell our house. We want to be done with these loans.

My husband is an amazing doctor and he is an amazing doctor because of these loans. You never want your children to meet Dr. Cagle at the hospital- because that means something is really wrong and your child is crazy sick. That being said, should those be your cards- you will find no better care then what my husband can provide. He is an amazing doctor and has done amazing things.

What about those awesome new doors? Did Pella give those to you?
No. No they did not. Quite the opposite. We went with the best because any seasoned person looking at a house will recognize the best. Those doors are not going with us, as much as I would like them to. When fall and spring roll around, the six sliding doors can be opened and, instantly, there is an additional 1000 square feet of living space. It's pretty amazing having the breeze blow through the house.

Have you done anything else cool?
Is the Pope Catholic? Yes. Of course we have!
* Have you ever heard of a NEST thermostat? We have two of those, one of which goes to the new air conditioner that we installed after we moved in. The other going to the industrial a/c for the bedrooms.

* While not as cool, we installed a security system with two keypads... and we have only set it off and had the cops come once and the fire department come twice three times.

* The house is wired to have wall mounted televisions, inside and outside

* Landscaping the front yard was fun and now we have rosemary, strawberries, tomatoes, blueberries, and climbing yellow roses in the backyard.

* The guest bathroom has white penny tile. We updated every light fixture, every light switch, and every fan.

* There's a basement now. Before it was a scary, scary dungeon where I am fairly certain some kind of crazy hazing could have gone on down there and no one would have known. But now, it has chalkboard paint, pallet shelves, and wainscoting.

* The hardwood floors are B-U-Tee-FULL. They were custom milled in North Carolina for this house and are a four inch plank. The living room has them on a diagonal, which I really like. Amber Floors did a great job, even though I wanted to dog cuss them for telling me that we needed to replace our subfloors because, "In about ten years or so, these staples will come loose because the old subfloors are about a gnat's hair too thin." He didn't say gnat's hair, but that's what I  heard.

* The backsplash in the kitchen is of the same wood. It's sealed with the same matte finish.

* We have barn door cabinets. Those were my idea. Husband built them for me.

There's other stuff- but those are my faves.

I toss the word "we" around a lot... but the reality is, that every time I say "we"... I should be saying "Husband."

Will you be upset to leave?
You bet your sweet smile I will. When we sold our house on Raymond Ave to friends several years ago- friends that would be getting married and bringing babies home to the house-- I cried like a small child who wanted the pink plate instead of the blue one. I always cry when we move. It just comes with the territory.

Can I call you directly to come see the house? What about the realtor?
Ya know, I think that's kinda low. I am happy to let you into my home if I know you, but I need you to know that while I am not a realtor, I have a lot of respect for the profession. Their time is their money and their time is valuable. We will not entertain a direct offer without a commission being paid to our listing agent.

When you look at the difference to what it does to your mortgage (about a hundred dollars), it is dirty politics and I won't stand for it.

Do you have a realtor that you recommend? 
I do, actually. Let me give you a few names:
* Of course, we love Susie! She's my aunt and her reputation and ethics speak volumes. She partners with Beth. Susie has been selling houses for as long as I can remember.
Ross is also pretty awesome. He's young, grew up in the area, and sold our last house in ... oh... about 5 days. Don't let his boyish charm fool you. He does good work and is a second generation real estate agent. He levels with you and is a wheeler and dealer. I like Ross' style.
Martha is another good one. While I have not personally worked with Martha; she is genteel and detail oriented. She graduated from Tech with a degree in Engineering, for Pete's sake! She also grew up in the area, is young and has several children. I adore her. She and her husband own Robertson Restorations and they did a pretty amazing job on this one. Other investors wanted to tear down the house; she and her husband wanted to restore it. And, ohhhhh, the did it right.
* Also, check out Reed. Reed's hard working and can meet you just about anytime- I should know, we called him at 4:30 one afternoon and he met us at 5:15.

Did I cover everything? Let the rumor mill mill the rumors; I am happy to sit here, open my windows and Pella doors and let you in. As I have said many times, to know me is to know an open book on our lives. Come and visit. Give us a call or drop us an email to see the house. Susie's got the listing. It's a house waiting for you to make it a home.

The house will be on the MLS by the end of the month. You can peruse pictures of the updates and what it looks like now on this blog, by clicking "The Home" button. Up at the top.... see it on the right?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bear with me.

I have cute kids. I know this. It's one of many flaws-- that I know my kids are cute. It's okay though, because when they are this cute, it is hard to deny this fact. A few years ago, I took some pictures of Leenie when she was in ballet class with Miss Heidi in Washington DC. She adored ballet and adored Miss Heidi. I adored that she adored her slippers, tights, and leotard. I adored watching her be so happy dancing.

Recently, she has not found dancing to be something that makes her happy. She dreaded going to ballet, got easily sidetracked with anything else and told me that one of the girls in her class was mean. (I could understand it- I met the mom and she's a 'dance mom'... if you know what I mean) Hoping to reinvigorate her love for leather slippers, I enrolled her at the local ballet company's Nutcracker Dance Camp. For two and a half hours every afternoon, she danced with 14 other girls in 14 pair of pink tights and 14 black leotards. 15 girls had their hair pulled back in buns or pony tails, with those wispy baby hairs flying loose. 30 pink leather slippers sanded the floor as they learned parts of the dances from the Nutcracker.

On the last day of dance camp, the parents were able to come and see the last thirty minutes of class and what they had learned. It was a sweet moment watching my niece and daughter-- Niece being so serious, as if she were the only one on the stage-- if there was a stage and Leenie, happy to run circles as a mouse and point fingers a tea cup.

By no means do I expect that she will major in dance and be a part of the National Dance Company, touring the world... but, I want her to love something. I want her to find passion within something-- and if that thing changes over the course of her, I'm okay with that. If it is dance for a few years, then swimming after that, or soccer, or whatever-- we have to try many things before we find what we love. A dance mother, I am not. A mother- I am.

I don't know what it is about this picture, but it reminds me of Max from How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the cartoon)

The Nutcracker Dance Camp renewed her love for leather slippers. Her cousin being with her did not hurt matters and the two are looking forward to being reunited as classmates in the fall- even if they are not in the same school from 8 to 3, they can be classmates for 50 minutes once a week.

So, allow this very proud mother a few pictures to show what she looks like dancing a few years later.  I can still see that little baby that danced with Miss Heidi in these pictures, but it is getting harder and harder as she becomes the little lady that she is destined to be. First grade is around the corner and adventures await her in the wings. But, for this moment- in her slippers and leotard, she is still my innocent little baby, learning.

Both of these girls make me so proud to be their mother and their aunt. I am a lucky, lucky fool. So, please bear with me as I put these pictures on the World Wide Web for you to skim through. These are more for me to remember this day, these smiles, and those little girls.