Friday, February 26, 2010

Realty and Reality

As all of you know I am in the midst of selling my house. This is not our first house so I am somewhat familiar with the process. Of course the last time was 11 years ago, and my memory is not that great and things have changed since then.

When we sold our first house.(which had a kitchen the size of a postage stamp) our realtor suggested I put my bread machine away and de clutter the counters. I was really upset because I was really into making bread at the time. This is now known as "staging". I have seen commercials for courses that train you to be a professional stager. I am now an avid HGTV watcher and was fully prepared this time to get everything "just so" for sale. I was even prepared to put the bowl of decorative green apples or pears on the table. (you HGTV watchers KNOW what I mean)

You must understand that I LOVE watching House Hunters and other shows on HGTV. I am not interested in the rest of realty matters. I just like looking at houses. I took a moment and thought about the words realty and reality and realized the only difference is the letter I. Currently "I" have to be involved with not the fun of watching House Hunters but all the contracts and nitty gritty. Thank Goodness I have a realtor to help with all that!

We met our first realtor at an open house. He was a nice man and did a good job for us. He was a bit older and I guess a little father figureish. When we sold our first house we used a young realtor close to us in age. He was a good guy, who we know is no longer in realty. At this juncture in our lives we have a new realtor who has also been great.

I don't know how it is for you but our realtor has had to play many roles for me. (realtor, negotiator, decorator, and person who talks me down) I have been so glad to have him in our corner. He is always patient. (even when I feel like I keep calling him with the same questions and pestering him like a buzzing fly) He steps in with a calm demeanor when I am flustered and upset. (he is similar to Jack in that fashion) When I question him for advice or need help on some project. He can be quiet for a moment says, hmm and then says, "let me get you the name of someone for that." Sure enough he gives me someone to call and they have all been great. I do feel like I am talking to him quite a bit. First when I spoke to him, I used to call him Mr. Moran, now it is just Shawn. Next I think I will have to call his wife and figure out what kind of baked good to make him.

My friend told me that after she sold her house, she missed her realtor. I mean when you are talking to someone 3 or 4 times a day over important or intense decisions it seems weird then they are gone. I know I will take a deep breath when inspections are over, work on the house is done, we have a settlement date, and I go back to a more normal life. (until I have to pack) But, I think I will also miss my realtor.

I believe in telling someone when I think they are doing a good job. So I told my realtor thank you for all his help and patience. He was very gracious and said thank you for saying that but also pointed out that we worked together to get the house sold. I had listened to his advice and worked very hard to get things ready. I guess I was reminded by him that although there is Realty and right now there is the "I" put in realty to make my Reality. As another saying goes, there is no I in TEAM.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Serentity Prayer

The Serentity Prayer is one of my favorite. Especially the first stanza. It is truly the prayer that I go to or say to myself in one form or another in times of need. For those who are not familiar the first stanza of The Serenity Prayer is this

God Grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

These were some of my first thoughts when I heard they were closing the refinery. I do not like to ask God for things, like please give Jack a new job. I tend to try and ask for strength and courage to survive the time until he finds a job.

As the transition for our move progresses I still seem to be falling back on this form of prayer and thought. God seems to be enjoying keeping things moving along but also testing my endurance just a bit. I was able to clean the house and get it ready to sell.

Of course just before it went on the market the gutter fell off and caused damage and I almost lost power. I stress ALMOST because I think God felt power loss may be too much.

As of my handling of that situation and not turning to the devil, ok wine, but not the devil. My house went on the market and got offers very quickly.

Quick offers also lead to a missed detail in the first home inspection which led to me discovering there is water on my wall in basement. (something I would have fixed, BEFORE, we went on market if I knew about it) This may now make me loose my offer.

I am not as greatly concerned about this because I know God seems to be giving good with bad. I have just learned that my mom will need serious surgery.

In my world of good and bad, ups and downs, God giveth and God taketh away. More snow comes tomorrow. If it makes my mothers surgery go better, I say, test me Lord, I will handle the loss of power.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Long Live the Queen

Every nuclear family has it's own dynamics. Every extended family also has it's own dynamics and dimensions. In my family, or rather my moms side of the family,I feel there is a matriarch. That matriarch is my Aunt Nelda. Excuse me, my GREAT Aunt Nelda.

Nelda has been a tremendous asset and wonderment to my life. She is the one who promises treats, adventure, and relaxation. I know she has a strong personality. (Hence her title of The Queen). All parents and mothers can cause you to laugh, cry, and drive you a bit crazy. "Nellie" can do this to great effectiveness to my cousins. The reason I bring up Aunt Nelda right now is The Broom.

While with my cousins over the years and in the presence of Aunt Nelda. I have come to understand that there is a right way, and wrong way to do things. (her way is always right, naturally) There is also the way it was done in her day. In Aunt Nelda's day you kept your house clean. You swept the floor every night after dinner.

Now, I am somewhat ashamed to admit. I am not as clean as Aunt Nelda. (or my mother for that matter) Even with the dog hair I did not sweep as often as I should. But now I find myself in the position of holding a broom each night as I keep the house clean in order to sell it. I sweep, swiffer, and vacuum each day. The broom is my sword and scepter. I may even become Queen. I don't want to be Queen. I think when things are all said and done I will hand my broom as a trophy to someone else and wish them well. Perhaps, my sister Gayle. hmmmm.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chatty Cathy

I am a Chatty Cathy. A nickname for someone who enjoys talking or is quite talkative. I spent a few moments online researching the doll Chatty Cathy to which this phrase come from I guess. I get the impression that Chatty Cathy said nice phrases like,"brush my hair please". The true innovation with Cathy was that she could say many phrases in random fashion due to her pull string mechanism and other innards. I would say that I speak much more than the original model. My phrases are longer and may include things like,"What can I feed you?" or "Get me a glass of wine please." In any case, I talk to people. LOTS of People, friends, family, neighbors, strangers in grocery stores, fitness class participants, and pretty much any warm body that shows me a smile and may need my help.

I get this trait from my mother whom I love dearly. Someone once said that my mother could talk to a tree stump, and when she got up to leave the tree stump would feel better about itself. I hope I am like that sometimes. My husband is patient with me. He lets me talk to him, to strangers, ask questions when we shop for something, and take over a bit when we are with friends. I know he can talk and others who know him, (and get him alone) will also say he talks. One time I was away with the girls and my neighbors took Jack out to dinner. My friend called Jack a chatter box! She just had never had him on his own.

I like to think that for the most part my chattiness is helpful to some or at least informative or amusing. Recently however I have seen the dark side to what I now call my "Selfish Speaking". You see Jack is away and we have challenges trying to talk each day. Our conversations and texts are somewhat brief and fit in slots of time when he can call and I am between activities for our children. In this limited space of time I chat and mostly vent. As a result I do not get to hear about the fun details of Jack's new work. I ramble on like a plow through the snow and then "ding" time is up and Jack has not been able to tell me as much. I feel as if I am taking away the importance of his new adventure. I am going to try and be better this week. Perhaps the string in my back will wear down a little so I can be more mute. Although I know even Jack does not want it to break completely.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Heroes and Angels and Among Us

There is a blizzard in the mid - Atlantic. Excuse me, the second blizzard in as many weeks in the mid - Atlantic. I am a lover of an occasional snow day as much as your average person, but even this is just to MUCH SNOW.
To that end I am the "single parent, snow shoveler, get the house ready to sell, and teacher" snow or not. The snow just adds to the fun... and stress. I am writing this message to say thank you to the folks who make my life easier. I am blessed to have friends and family who care and look after me.

My husband is in Mexico (eating avocado which he does not really enjoy but I love). He is enjoying work and also checking on me and worrying that I may lose power. My family and his family check on me via phone and text to be sure I am ok.

Before the storm hits my friend travels far from home, in a soon to be recalled car, with a sick child, to support me and CLEAN my house. She is supplemented by my other friend who comes and helps me clean my bathrooms. MY BATHROOMS! (including the tile floor) To this end, I am reminded of the story by Anne Lamott from the book, "A Journal of My Sons First Year" In that book a drug rehabilitated woman is a single mom and a parishioner from her church shows up on her doorstep to ask what they can do to help her. In tears and upset she says, "clean my bathroom". This kind gentleman did it. She not only never forgot it, she put it in her book. This is how special and sacred such things are.

In addition during this storm and the last, all my neighbors helped each other. The snow was shoveled for the elderly, the neighbors away and soon to be flown home, and the single ones like me. As I sit here late the night of the second storm with snow not supposed to end until late tonight a neighbor clears my driveway and walk. I could cry in relief of the tiredness of the snow, and of the stress of not having to worry about it. This gentleman is "young" or at least in my realm of time and space he is. In addition to thanking him, I am hopeful that I can raise my children to be as thoughtful, kind, and positive as he is toward others. So I guess all I can say is, let it snow, as long as I am surrounded by such support as I have right now.

Monday, February 8, 2010

God wants Spritual Fruit not Religious Nuts

The title of this entry comes from a magnet my parents have hanging on their refrigerator. My dad is a retired minister and well there are several amusing items around the house. (my second favorite magnet being - I found Jesus! He was behind the sofa the whole time!) To that end, I am just going to say this and get it over with. I believe in God. I believe Jesus is the son of God, he died for our sins, he rose after three days. I have faith in all that. Here is where I have recently felt myself troubled. I am moving to Tennessee.

In Tennessee there seems to be a fair number of people with the same type of my belief but a more literal interpretation of the bible. I am guessing it has to do with me thinking the bible is inspired by God and written by man/woman. I mean lets face it we all know mankind has it's share of errors in it. I choose to accept my own flaws and try to work on what I can, when I can. I seek out those who are willing to accept or overlook my errors and assist me to get better.

I also believe in working within the themes of the bible that promote acceptance of others, healing, and assisting those in need. It seems to me there are more people in Tennessee (and elsewhere) that have what I can perceive as less acceptance of me and my errors unless I able to fix myself and do it their way (Theirs is the correct and only way). Jack and I went looking and have found a potential new church home in Tennessee which we feel is a representation of our beliefs.

Our current new prospect of a church walks the walk and talks the talk. They speak the language of the more "liberal" United Church of Christ. They are O and A (open and affirming to all) and a Just Peace church (there is no such thing as Just or Justifiable war). I was speaking to my neighbor and said I was concerned because while looking at the website for my daughters new middle school I looked into clubs. There it was - Teens for CHRIST. Just like that in all capitals. Hmm, I said to my neighbor a more conservative view of the bible as a club? She said how do you know they are more conservative? Getting back to my lesson on religious language, I replied,"CHRIST in all capitals is a hint."

I have a feeling or at least hope this would not become an attractive option to my children. I also immediately have a brief flash of an image of the Jets and Sharks as gangs with Teens for CHRIST in jackets with sparkly cruxifiction images on the back and other teens with the UCC symbol or even the devil on the back of their jackets prowling the school. I close my eyes and whisk that away. I am scared to leave our safe church village home in Delaware. I know there my children were surrounded by peers with the same beliefs. I guess I will do the best I can. Say my prayers and try to raise my children as Christians, instead of CHRISTians.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Some Assembly Required

My life right now is being assembled. Piece by piece I get more done and get closer to goals. Unfortunately, I sometimes lose pieces along the way. I am often asking the girls if they have seen my brain anywhere, and if so can they squish it back in my head.

Part of assembling my life involves assembling the house for sale. To that end I bought some small inexpensive tables to spruce up the place. Now I am not one to shy away from these types of projects. I can't say I am fast but I can put a something together. Jack is quite supportive of this and I only have drill use and hanging items removed from my purview. (that is a whole other story though)

Last night I begin to assemble a small table for Jenny's room. I purchased this item because it was the right size, right color ,(pretty much) and the right price (cheap). I am not afraid and get started. This was indeed one of the more challenging of tasks. There were pegs and screws but no screw holes. The box read "real wood not particle board." They meant to say it is made from Balsa wood, the softest and most flimsy. "No difficult fasteners" the box read, I would have given my right arm for a "fastener". The back came with nails so small that they would not hold the back on. They just were not long enough. These were the same nails for the bottom of the drawer (since they were not going to work on the back, it would make for a bottomless drawer). I ended up with a small table with a shelf and no drawer. In the end I got what I paid for.

Today I eyed the second table I bought for the family room with suspicion but noted that it was not made by the same company. This table came with the drawer and table top assembled. I screwed on the legs, shelf, and feet. It took no tools and 10 minutes. (at most) I am glad that the furniture is getting put together, my house is getting put together, and sometime this summer when I am in Tennessee my life will be put back together. I only hope it goes as smoothly as the second table.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Confessions of a crybaby

I will admit to being a crybaby. Just ask any of my siblings. I am the youngest of four children and I cried far more than necessary. My sister would say I would mostly cry over not getting my way,or losing a game. As I have gotten older, I think I cry more over movies, frustation, or just plain stress. I have come to peace with it. I cry, I get it out, I move on. It is like the song in "Free to Be You and Me" by Rosie Grier, "It's all right to cry, crying gets the sad out of you".

This week was my week to cry. I have been moving forward with purging and preparing the house for sale. This week, it all crumbled. I began a new unit at school. (which means more time for lesson planning) I do not want my job to suffer. The time frame on the house got moved a smidge since the realtor wants pictures for the virtual tour on the 10th, so the house goes online on the 15th as wanted. All my errands were taking longer, the staff meeting ran long, I got 10 more things on my plate from my job (all requiring not only planning, but advanced planning). You have to realize, I am living day to day at this point extra details start to make my blood pressure rise. I was falling behind and felt myself going under the water.

Yesterday I could not keep it together. While running errands I ran into my friend and neighbor. She is sweet and kind and the person I had a meltdown on the last time my stress reached critical mass. Unforutunatly for her, I saw her at the Bed, Bath and Beyond. I look up after quietly weeping in my car some, sucking it up and getting things done to see her. "hey, she says, how is it going?" I get a hug and start to cry. My poor friend is left explaining my life situation and stress to the cashier so she may not think I am crazy. I am blessed to have support and friends who let me vent and understand. I myself understand I am a crybaby and accept it. I also know I live in North Wilmington, the kind of place that is large but not too large to have that small town kind of feel where my upset will get back to someone, somewhere and be talked about. Oh, well, I guessthat will be a story for another time.