Thursday, January 31, 2008

Update on the Screwing

Turns out we're not so screwed... at least for now. Our builder is paying for everything except the work that the water damage folks did to dry out the crawlspace and treat for mold. They aren't paying that because they "would have done it themselves if we had just waited." So I'm out $150, but it could be a LOT worse.

The builder informed us that our washer was not, in fact, leaking. Rather... the plumbers simply neglected to finish their work back in 2002 when the house was built, and therefore, our washing machine has been draining directly into our crawlspace for 5.5 years now. Lawsy.

So they've installed the necessary pipes and they have promised to fix the support beam, then the garage floor. So we don't have to file with insurance or anything. Huzzah.

Monday, January 21, 2008

We Are So Screwed

Well, fate has pointed its fickle finger to us, apparently, and I say "PSHAW" to your broken windshields, crummy phone/cable service, and bad column on the front porch. When we get screwed, we go all the way.

Let me explain.

No, it's too much. Let me sum up.

Termite inspector came two weeks ago for annual inspection. Found high moisture levels and standing water, but no termites, in our crawl space.

Chris poked around down there and couldn't find the problem.

Chris went down two days later and after crawling around a bit more, found the problem. Rotted floor joist, ruined insulation, and two pipes terminating just above that. He contacted the builder.

Builder emailed him back to say they would be in touch.

Termite people called to schedule another inspection since they have a $25,000 guarantee that we won't have termites, and wet wood is really not on their side when it comes to keeping their money in the bank.

Builder has not been in touch.

We did laundry this weekend. Lots of laundry.

Termite guy comes today and confirms that the exposed pipes are the problem, the damage extends into our garage and could cause our staircase to collapse, and the culprit is most likely our washing machine (even though we haven't noticed a leak at all). He also confirms that the idea of terminating pipes into our crawl space is negligent and stupid AND even if they were only for emergencies, they terminate too high, therefore splashing water on our dry wall and other important bits that keep the house standing upright. We prefer that our house stand upright. Call us sentimental, if you will, but we do.

He also pointed out some problems with our water heater "leak prevention" pan provided by our builder. Basically, if the water heater has to "blow off," the water would spray everywhere before it even thought about going down the "emergency drain" which also terminates in the crawl space. This would ruin walls and carpet upstairs. Not all of them, mind you, but some. I was thrilled.

Called Sears to have someone repair the washer. They can't come until Monday (one week from today) between 8 and 12. (They apparently learned scheduling from Time Warner Cable and glass repair dudes).

Called Nationwide to file a claim. If it's covered, we're looking at a $500 deductible and I am hoping THEY will wrestle with the builders to get the money back. If it's NOT covered, we will have to pay for repairs out of pocket while we wrestle with the builder. (I'm assuming that the builder isn't going to just fork over the dough). We're talking substantial money. I'm guessing in the 10K range. Yes, that's 10 G's. 10 grand. TEN FREAKING THOUSAND dollars.

We looked at our budget last night and realized that we have zero money on hand regularly. Negative really. Not that we needed a budget to tell us this... it just confirmed what we already suspected. I will have to sell stock that my grandfather gave me to pay for this. And pay Capital Gains taxes on it. And I will then have nothing in savings save my random 401K accounts that are dotted all over the US of A.

We are so screwed.

Worst Party Ever Turns Out to be Not So Bad

The weather was not my friend this weekend, but overall, I suppose it worked out okay. Cathy (from Maryland) was already there, and then our neighbors across the street were invited, so we knew we'd have three people at our post-holiday holiday party. Half-way through the day, we thought the Charlotte folks were on their way, so we thought we might possibly be breaking out the air mattresses and we'd heard from our sitter (who is originally from New England) that she was still coming. The weather forecast was calling for it to not drop below freezing until 10pm, so with a 7pm start, we figured we could still have people over, get them to eat the $300+ in groceries I had in the house, then get them back out the door before it got slippery.

Assuming it got slippery.

Which it didn't.

But I get ahead of myself. So around mid-day Cathy and I decided to dive in and just keep making the food in anticipation of a turn for the better in the weather. We'd been cooking all morning, plus I had been doing a lot the night before, but there were still some things to make, and we thought we'd go ahead and do it. At 3pm, the Charlotte crew called to say they had not, in fact, left at 1pm, and were not coming, and then the Greensboro and High Point crews called. I knew the areas west of us were getting hit worse than us, so I was disappointed, but I also prefer my friends to be alive, so I was completely happy with them not coming. I notified folks in the area that the party was still on, and since the weather forecast was starting to say that we would NOT get as much as we thought, and possibly not even really have bad road conditions, they should come if they felt comfortable.

We ended up not making everything on the plan, but most of it, and we had a core group of 15 people, who were kind enough to eat quite a bit. The last stragglers left at about 11pm and reported that the roads were dry as a bone. No chance of black ice, and even if there WERE ice, you would be able to see it because the roads were otherwise dry.

We did throw away quite a bit of food, but still have the cake and brownies and cookies. We also have some cheddar crackers and some pita chips. And lots of beer and wine. Although that, too, was well-loved and at least took a good solid hit. The best part is that since we didn't have a big turnout... I just kept my recipes together for next year. No menu planning for me next year... it's all done!

Friday, January 18, 2008

So You Had a Bad Day...

I called Chris on my way to pick up the kids and magnanimously granted his wish to stay late at work to play XBox 360 and Wii with his coworkers. But only if he promised to do everything I tell him tomorrow. He actually agreed. Of course, I didn't quite put it that way... I only said that he had to get "everything done" as far as errands and cleaning. Which is essentially the same thing. So I'm pleased. (Not smug though, because I know he will just argue semantics with me... for instance, the definition of "need to do.")

I did this without knowing, however, that Athena had a terrible day at school. She was at the end of her rope when I got there, and had been put in time out for giving another girl a raspberry. Her teacher told me that she had spit on another child, but that is not really my definition of spit. Still, it wasn't nice.

Athena was melting down, and as I took her around the school to collect her things (including her little brother), she would stop and collapse to the floor in tears every six steps or so. These were not temper tantrum tears either. Believe me, I've seen enough of those to recognize them. These were tears of abject sorrow. The kid was just depressed. Really sad.

I had her call Daddy, because he can always cheer her up. Didn't work. She just told him she wanted him at home. It broke my heart. It must have destroyed Chris'. Although he is still at work playing games, so it must not have cut too deep.

We ran into Aiden and his family on the way out of the building, and Athena started crying again. When I asked her why, she said "I don't want John to see my accident." (She had an accident while in time out on the playground, and had no more pants to wear). I thought this was very sad and also very exciting, as it means that she is FINALLY embarrassed about her accidents and therefore they may actually CEASE TO EXIST soon. I'm terribly stoked about this, as this whole potty training saga is killing me.

We came home, and she was cheered a bit by changing into clean clothes (go figure) and taking her cough medicine. We had pasta and garlic bread for dinner (yum) and I let them watch Wonder Pets while we ate (normally the tv is off during meals). All this seems to have cheered her. Chris is on his way home now to put them to bed, as I need to start cooking in anticipation of the big par-TAY tomorrow night.

My friend Cathy is on her way here from Maryland to stay for the weekend. She is going to help us prepare for the party and we'll generally talk each others' ears off. It's sort of a big thing for me to have her here because this party originated with the New Year's Party she and I used to throw jointly MANY years ago. She hasn't come to one of these since 2000, which was the last Christmas she lived within 75 miles of me. Before I moved to Raleigh, she and I were inseparable. So I'm really excited.

Oh, but back to the theme of BAD days... it's supposed to snow here tomorrow afternoon. Snow. If no one can get to this party, I'm going to be eating pita chips, hummus, cream cheese and olive finger sandwiches, and chocolate cake for the next three weeks. Bleh.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Enjoy the Silence

I haven't been posting much because I haven't had anything really unusual to say lately. Life is puttering on. But I'll give you one of my world-famous fly-by updates just so you know I'm alive and kicking.

Project Runway: Apex (aka Fashion Intervention) is a complete and utter success. Apparently, throwing money at a problem DOES actually fix it. Since I've started wearing my designer duds, I have received an endless stream of compliments. Not just on the clothes, but also on my weight (which holds steady at 70lbs too much) and my skin (which has always been an asset of mine). My jaw is dragging the floor from the shock of how well this has worked. And of course, all the compliments have my confidence up, which just boosts the effects of the clothing.

Disney plans are forming. I've recently joined DisFriends, which is a MySpace for Disney Geeks and Nerds, and I fit right in. I've been trying to think of ways to finagle an April trip, we're already definitely going in October, and then I will probably go down for a Disney Geek convention in December. However, I'm not sure the wallet will support all that, so we're in a holding pattern at the moment. This is mainly because...

Our crawlspace runneth over. We had a termite inspection on Monday (an annual necessity here in the wood-chawing-beastie-friendly South) and the inspector found none of the little buggers. *YAY* She did find a very wet, almost rotted support beam and some insulation that resembles papier-mache. *BOOOOOOOO* Upon further inspection, Chris found two pipes that just seem to terminate right into our basement. The good news, it's not a leak. *YAY* The bad news, it's some sort of mixed-up backwards plumbing error (we assume) that will most likely take money (and/or several months of agonizing phone calls to our builder) to resolve. *BOOOOO*

Our children are well. This is a huge accomplishment, as they were sick off and on pretty much from May until Christmas. I'm finding myself wanting to put sneeze guards around them to keep them healthy and hearty.

Our house is half-organized. We've been cleaning and purging in an attempt to ready ourselves for some new furniture (a promised gift from Mom) and a new flat-screen tv (which Chris has been patiently waiting for for, oh, say, eight years now. And in cleaning and organizing, we find that life is generally just better. So we are actually keeping it pretty straight. This is also a big accomplishment for us... but it makes dull blog material. Moving on...

I've been dealing with a career crisis for two months now, trying to figure out what is missing in my job that is keeping me from totally loving it. I've done some soul-searching and I think I've found the answer. The best part is that I think the answer is in my current job... so I won't be following the four-year itch and trying to find something else. I'm going to wait it out. Once I decided that a couple of weeks ago, I've found that I'm doing much better at work than I had been and that makes me feel I've made the right decision. I'm juggling way too many balls at the moment, but if I pull it off, I'll really feel like I accomplished something, which I really NEED to feel at this point.

And finally, we're about to hold the ninth annual Holiday Party. This year, we pushed it off until January in the hopes that it would be less stressful and more people would attend. We think attendence will remain about the same, but it IS less stressful. This weekend, I'm planning what to make and starting prep work. I'm cooking everything, which is what I used to do, and stopped when I was pregnant and nursing. So basically, this party is a symbol that our lives are stabilizing. Our kids are becoming more independent and I am finally completely comfortable with the title of "mom." Feels good.

Monday, January 07, 2008


I am sad to report that our Marcus has been stolen by the faeries and has been replaced with a really tall, strikingly good-looking, changeling.

The proof:

1) Saturday morning, Chris called me at work to report that "our son" had eaten for breakfast: an entire bagel (presumably with cream cheese), TWO bananas, twelve grapes, and a piece of string cheese. MY child is not quite 22 months old and could not possibly be able to eat that much food without stuff coming out his ears. Clearly, faerie magic is at play.

2) He is going down the stairs not ONLY independently, but standing up and REFUSING any help offered to him.

3) He woke up this morning around 4am very upset because he was not actually sleeping and wanted very much to be so. I picked him up to put him in my lap and rock him to sleep. He didn't fit. Legs and arms were everywhere and his head was at my eye level. After much struggle, we found a semi-comfortable way for him to put his head on my shoulder with his legs dragging the floor while I rocked. (That's a slight exaggeration, but only slight).

So there is the evidence... submitted for your approval. And the worst part? I don't think I'm ever going to get my baby back. *sigh*