About rugrats, minivans, The South, photography, farmer's markets, puberty, Army, snotty noses, blankies, movies, hugs, autism, make believe, homeschooling, sibling rivalry, car seats, weather, in-laws, scribbles, marriage, and somewhere in there, a stoned British reporter.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

25 Reasons why you should arrive at the airport even earlier than you thought. . .

. . .even if it is 5 a.m.**

Reason #1: The line at the check-in counter will be long. Surprisingly so.

Reason #2: Same for the security line.

Reason #3: Your children, since it is 5 a.m., will be slow to catch on to the security process, and thus it will take longer. ("No, put your bag in that one, and your shoes in that one. That one. NO. THAT ONE.")

Reason #4: Your oldest child's belt will set the alarm off, and when they make him remove it, it will get stuck, and take even longer.

Reason #5: When you finally get through security and to the escalators, your youngest will have a panic attack about getting on them.

Reason #6: It will take you forever to convince her to get on, especially since your hands are full of your carry-on, and said child's booster seat.

Reason #7: Youngest child's panic attack will cause you to miss the train to the terminal, so you will have to wait for the next one.

Reason #8: There is another escalator once you get off the train.

Reason #9: Despite your best urging, little people carrying bags cannot move any quicker than snails.

Reason #10: You will finally get to the gate, have a brief moment of hope when you see the plane is still there, only to have it dashed when they tell you the door is closed and they cannot let you on.

Reason #11: Standby. With four kids.

Reason #12: You will have to explain to your kids over and over why you can't just board the plane with everyone else, that you have to wait until the last minute to see if they have seats.

Reason #13: When you experience the miracle of getting seats for all of you on the standby flight, you will all get center seats. Scattered throughout the plane. You will have to place each of your children in between strangers, even the youngest, who is on her first airplane ride ever.

Reason #14: Because the travel gods apparently hate you, it will be the worst turbulence you have experienced in years. Even the flight attendants will not be able to stand up for most of the four hour flight.

Reason #15: Since it was standby, you are now in a city other than the one you should be, so you will have to go on standby again.

Reason #16: A four hour wait and lunch in the airport with four children. (At one point you will crack and use the moving sidewalks to entertain them.)

Reason #17: Most of the flights will be full, at least, too full for all five of you to get on a flight.

Reason #18: As they are closing the door to a flight, the gate person will look at you and tell you they can fit your older three children on the flight.

Reason #19: You will yell at the older three to grab their things, and barely have time to tell them goodbye before a flight attendant scurries them away.

Reason #20: You and youngest child will watch forlornly through the window as the plane taxis away.

Reason #21: You will frantically call your husband to tell him to go back to the airport to get the kids.

Reason #22: You and youngest child will look so pathetic, the gate agent will finagle tickets for you for the next flight.

Reason #23: When you finally arrive at your destination, you will discover that your bags never made it on the original flight, and the airline will have no idea where they are.

Reason #24: You will finally get your bags and your rental car and leave the airport, 15 hours after your adventure began that morning.

Reason #25: You will have acquired so much bad traveling juju, that your flight home will be cancelled.

**Yes, the above actually happened. All of it.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The House That Wouldn't Die

Previously, on Midget Invasion:
-April 2012 we are told the state is declaring eminent domain on our house.
-February 2013 the closing proceedings happen.
-Summer 2013 the house is torn down
-A few weeks ago, we received THIS in the mail. (Yes, that is the house that no longer exists.)

Today, I got on the phone to try to resolve this. I was bound and determined to have this all behind us before the start of the new year. I kept track of the phone conversations on Facebook, and here they are:

Me to tax office: Hi, um we don't own that house anymore.
Tax office: it says here that you do.
Me: We don't, we sold it to the state in February. 
Tax office: They may be tax exempt, you wouldn't be, and they never filed the deed with us.
Me: The deed on the house that doesn't even exist anymore?
Tax office: Yes. 
Me: Sigh.
Tax office: Give me the closing attorney's name, I'll call them and see if I can figure it out.
A while later. . .
Closing Lawyer to me: Do you have your settlement in hand?
Me: Not right now.
Lawyer: Oh. I need the house's parcel number. I guess I can go look it up. I'll call you back.
Me: Sigh.

(15 minutes later)
Phone just rang again.
Lawyer to me: I'm having trouble finding this parcel. I'm looking at the map, and it says it's owned by "Insert name here". 
Me: That is who we bought it from.
Lawyer: Well it says here we bought it from her in 2008. 
Me: ?. . .?. . .?!?!?!?!?!?
Lawyer: DOT acquired part of the property in 2008 from her.
Me: We bought the house from her in 2008.
Lawyer: So, how much did we buy from you?
Me: The whole thing.
Lawyer: Oh, and that was this year?
Me: Yes.
Lawyer: Oh, I see. I have the wrong file! Lol. I'll figure this out and call you back.
Me: Sigh.

(an hour later)
 Final update before we hit the road. Got a voicemail a while ago. . 

Lawyer: "I'm calling you again about your property on "Insert wrong road name, here". Well, uhhh, my secretary is out until January 6th, and I need her to pull your file, so uh, I guess we'll get back to you after January 6th."

That screaming you hear? Is me.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Evolution of a Sick Mom

Healthy Mom
    Kids: What's for dinner?
    Mom: This balanced and nutritious meal I made.
    Kids: Sigh.

Sick Mom
    Kids: What's for dinner?
    Mom: Something easy. How about grilled cheese and soup?
    Kids: Sounds good.

Really Sick Mom
    Kids: What's for dinner?
    Mom: I don't care. Just feed yourselves and let me rest.
    Kids: Cool!

Where I was the other day
    Kids: What's for dinner?
    Mom: Oh man, I have to feed y'all don't I? I really should since I didn't yesterday, even though I am worse now. How about popcorn and ice cream? (Or cereal, depending on what is in the pantry.)
    Kids: YAY!!!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Parenting a teenager

In my vast experience of having a teenager in the house for a little over a month now, this is what I've learned: Parenting a teenager is 25% losing your mind, 25% awesomeness, and 50% laughter. Of that 50, 25% is laughing with them, and 25%i is laughing AT the stuff they try to pull off. Case in point: my teenager snuck out of bed to play video games late tonight. When I walked into the room, he did a ninja tuck roll thing and hid behind the couch. It might have had a chance at working had it not sounded like an elephant did a cartwheel in our living room. This episode did not fall into the 25% losing my mind category, because I was too busy laughing and saying "Really. Really? You thought THAT would work?"

This may be wrong, but it's quite a while later, and I'm still giggling to myself. The best part was he didn't even fit where he was trying to hide. So, imagine it: loud thuds as he rolls away, and then hides in a hiding space where he doesn't even fit and you can see the whole top of his head. He actually thought he was being sneaky.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Party Times with Eminent Domain

I haven't been posting a lot lately. (Lately being the past two years or so.) BUT! But, I thought I'd type out our experience with this happening to us, in case it might ever help someone out there.

I blogged last year when this all started. The day someone from the state showed up and said "Surprise! We're taking your house!" I blogged about that day here. We started looking at houses soon after, not knowing for sure how quickly things were going to move. The woman from the state had said it would be pretty soon. It turns out MY definition of soon, and the state's definition of soon, are very very different.

We looked at houses and stressed and worried. We didn't hear from a soul for six months. In October, the same woman called me up wanting to meet with me so we could sign papers that would actually get the ball rolling. The next day, I hadn't called her back yet, and she showed up at my house. She said the people she worked with were very urgent about getting stuff signed, as things needed to happen "soon." I signed the papers which were their offer for the actual house, our moving options, and then the really interesting stuff, "Comparable replacement houses." Now, there had been an appraiser, and we were supposed to get a copy of that, but thinking back, we never did.

Their offer was a lot lower than we were expecting. Just enough to get us out of our mortgage, and that's it. They weren't even offering us our tax assessed amount. To make things even more hair-pulling, those "Comparable" houses they found for us were all almost $30,000 more than what they were giving us for ours. Even though the law here in our state says they have to give us fair market value, somehow to them, that turns out being thousands less than our tax assessed value, and tens of thousands less than comparable houses. How that logic works, I have NO idea.

At that point she told us we had 30 days to accept their offer. We got in touch with an attorney, and got really serious about looking for houses. The attorney couldn't figure out the logic, either, but he couldn't get them to budge. If we paid the $500 to have our own appraisal done, they may have considered going up a little, but not enough to make it worth it, and basically, it was a take it or. . .take it. Situation.

We did end up taking it, because there was also a clause that stated since the comparable houses were so much higher, if we bought a house at that same price, they would give us the difference as a down payment. ONLY if we bought a house that high, though. (So, if we bought a house $5,000 more than what they gave us, they'd give us $5,000 for the down payment. $10,000 more, we'd get that. Up to a cap of almost $30,000.) We did the only logical thing: shopped as expensive as we could, up to the cap that the state was willing to pay out. We figured it would be asinine not to. I still don't get how any of this is logical, but, whatevs.

That brings us to the end of November. We were first told that we'd need to be out 60 days from then, so we freaked the heck out, and told our realtor. (The look on his face was priceless.) Halfway through the process of finding and putting an offer on the new house, we finally find out that no, we won't have to be out until 60 days after we officially sign over the house to the state, which hadn't happened yet. We were told they wanted the closing to happen the beginning of January. We got all of our ducks in a row for that, and it didn't happen then. We waited, and waited. . .and waited for the funds to come down from the powers that be so we could sign our house over.

The closing that we were told to expect the first week of January didn't end up happening until February 8th. For people that were so urgent to have us out of the house, they sure took their time. So, on February 8th, 2013, the kids and I sat with a lawyer in a conference room, and I signed away our house to the state of Georgia. No one from the state was there.

(Hannah at the proceedings)

This whole thing had been so difficult, we were trying to look ahead, to the closing on the new house. It was supposed to be the following Tuesday. The hubby called the state people to make sure the down payment funds would be there, and. . .surprise! No, they wouldn't. They needed to inspect the house themselves, and then send off paperwork to request the funds. The closing would have to be pushed back. Our realtor warned us that if it didn't happen within a week of the original closing date, the sellers could back out, because we would be in breach of contract. We stressed and the hubby made lots of phone calls that week. I think he called the state people every day asking if the funds had come in yet. Finally, finally they did, and we closed one week later. Just in time.

Now we're at the point where we are under the 60 day clock, and have been since February 8th, although in a weird twist, they are giving us all the way to April 21 before we have to hand over the keys. The kids and I are slowly moving what we can until the hubby can come down and help us move the bigger stuff, so we can start living in the new house. It's all been very hard on the kids, but they are really excited about the new house.

You'd think we'd be done with the aggravation of dealing with the government people, but no, it still drags on. We had the choice of the state hiring someone to move us, or we could move ourselves, and we'd get moving expense money. We chose to move ourselves, and then found out the "fun" thing, that you don't get the moving expenses until AFTER you've moved. In our case, we're not rolling in money, so the state agent agreed to send of the paperwork to get half up front. It takes weeks to get it though, of course. We won't get the other half until we're completely out of the other house, and then they submit the paperwork, and we get to wait weeks again.

This whole thing has been. . .annoying as all get out. A lot of hurry up and wait on our part, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of frustration. (And looking back, I'm realizing that by the time we hand over the keys, it will have been an entire year since they first showed up at our door.)

I know this has been long, and maybe even a bit convoluted, but I wanted to get it all out there. Maybe someone out there will be googling "eminent domain" or "OMG the state is taking our house", not knowing what is going to happen next. Maybe they will land here, and at least get some insight.

p.s.-Is it May, yet?

Monday, January 21, 2013