Posted in B, economy, housing, School, slum lords, Thor, Uncategorized

For Sale or Lease


This time last year (and at this point I stopped writing the entry to go and renew my energy plan, having reminded myself it was about to expire!) we were planning our move from The Country House (that place in a pocket neighborhood, out by the cows) into The Town House (a literal townhouse apartment.)  It was a lot of effort, actual blood, sweat, and tears, but in the end, it’s been a fantastic decision for us.  We lost 700 sq. ft. in the move, but we gained exponential multiplications of satisfaction–especially as our daily commutes were concerned.  (And here I had to stop to make sure we had signed our lease for the next 12 months.)

We put The Country House on the market in April, and by August were starting to panic.  In those four months, we had about six views on the house.  Our realtor called with some bad news.  There were over a dozen homes in the neighborhood in foreclosure, some nearly twice the size of ours, listed at 5k less.  And the homes the size of ours…well.  Let’s just say we did the math, figured out our lowest asking price, swallowed back that lump in our throats, and dropped our listing by about 6k.  That got us two more views.

In mid-August, we contacted a property management company, to help us lease the home.  Our PM was excited about the house and the neighborhood, and was sure we’d be able to get renters in by Labor Day.  By early October, we had dropped our already majorly-inexpensive lease fee by another hundred dollars.  Thank Vesta (goddess of home and hearth for those of you who aren’t Classics nerds) we finally found renters, who moved in last week.

After PM fees, fence repair, carpet cleaning, pro-h0usekeeping scrubdown, and the dredges of half a months worth of utility and yard maintenance bills, we’ll break just about even on the deal in December.  But we did have to cut our lease so low that with PM fees, we are taking a small hit.  Much better, much, much better than a hit for the full mortgage and HOA fees, but still a hit.

And we were smart, y’all.

When we bought our house in 2005, we were approved for more than twice what we chose.  B was smart and paid us out of debt before we started our house-quest, so we went into our mortgage in an excellent position.  We bought WELL within our means, so that if something happened to one of our jobs, we would still have a place to live.  And then we both worked hard to improve our means.  I hope B won’t mind me bragging on the massive amounts of time, energy, and self-sacrifice involved in his certification classes that netted him better jobs.  I am extremely proud of him.

So what happened?

Well, we both got better paying jobs–and after I had been laid off, we needed those jobs.  A major factor in our move came down to Thor’s school.  It worked like this:

  • If we took the better paying jobs, we doubled our commute times.
  • If our jobs were 8–5 with no early mornings, or late nights, traffic would mean leaving the neighborhood by 6:30AM, and getting home around 7PM.
  • Thor’s school doors opened at 7:30AM, and the on-site afterschool care closed at 6:30PM
  • We were so far out of range, there were no other before or afterschool care options that fit our needs.  It’s not like you can just give a 5-year-old a house key and teach him to make a grilled cheese.
  • If we didn’t take the better paying jobs…well, that wasn’t an option.

See the problem?  And we sure couldn’t afford private school!

So we moved.  Best decision we made all year.

And really, thank goodness for the new renters.  We have at least 12 months of breathing room now, and hopefully they will love the home and either renew the lease, or want to buy it outright.  (I’m not even going to think about the what-ifs involved in repairs we might face next November.  No.  Not going to do it.)

Posted in Family, Lancient History, School

Queen of the Damned Elementary school


I like the November trend of people posting their daily thanksgivings on Facebook.  I started mine today, and I’ve decided to go a full year with it.  It is healthy and healing to be thankful, even for the smallest of things.

Today, walking home from Thor’s school after a lengthy conversation with him about migration patterns and why geese honk (a whole flock flew overhead and buzzed us like Maverick and the Control Tower and all I could think was, “Please!  No goose poop!” have you seen the size of goose poop?!) I was struck by the weather and the wet grass and suddenly remembered waiting for the bus in elementary school.  Since we weren’t on the bus route after second grade, my mother had bribed paid the bus driver (who lived about a mile from our house) to pick me up and drop me off.  I would hang out in our front yard, waiting, twirling, dancing, singing, whatevering at the top of my lungs.  I had a self to entertain, you understand.

Our neighbor across the street took pity on what he perceived as my boredom, and started coming out every morning to let down the wooden swing that hung from a huge oak tree in their front yard.  I would swing until the bus arrived, then hop on board and watch Mr. Meadows tie the swing back up to the branch.  When they were in season, he would allow me to pick one pomegranate from his shrub every day, and I would carry that to school in my backpack, pretending I was Persephone and the school bus was taking me from my place as Princess of Spring in mother’s fields into the Underworld of elementary school, where I was Queen of the Damned.  Clearly, Thor’s dramatic tendencies are genetic.

I loved our neighborhood in Virginia.  Trees and water, and a hundred elderly people for me to visit and have dote upon me.  It was funny–I was talking to my therapist about growing up in neighborhoods with no children, the other day.  Then, I realized I had grown up in neighborhoods with plenty of kids, I just wasn’t allowed to play with any of them!  I couldn’t play with Michelle, who lived 2 houses down, because she had called Mr. Landing an old bastard.  I couldn’t play with Jenny G because my parents were unsure of her parents.  I couldn’t play with Jenny J (whose grey gingerbread house had actual heart cutouts on the shutters–I loved her house) because she was allowed to play with Jenny G.  I could play with Lisa and Tina until they walked into our home unannounced twice, and my mother put an end to their desire to come near our front door.  Chester and Darren were out on my terms.  Darren had held me down while Chester put caterpillars in my hair–I wasn’t going to play with them ever again.  Boys!  Although, Darren had an awesome swingset and would play Underdog with me.

There was also a neighbor at the end of the block, who had something like 8 kids.  I can’t remember why I didn’t play with them, but it probably had to do with Jenny G. or Michelle (who I secretly loved, and who snuck me into her house to watch Saturday Night Fever.)

I wonder how much of elementary school Thor will remember?  If any of our walks to class will register in his memory.  At the very least, I hope the impression of how much fun we’ve had will remain, and he will have a blanket feeling of goodness surrounding this period of his life.