Thursday, July 30, 2009

An Example

I might as well rename my blog "Jennifer's Boring Blog About Real Estate" as that's all I seem to talk about...

I know I have gone on and on about what a nightmare it is to keep our house even semi-clean and ready to show to prospective renters/buyers. After the botched rental, it seems even harder! I think I got out of cleaning mode and was so happy to be done with it that I went to the other extreme.

The house is a disaster!!

It doesn't help that we've been crazy-busy, not just dealing with our tenant fiasco, but with the millions of interesting things our kids are involved in.

Tonight, for instance, Andy was in a jazz concert that took place at a very prestigious venue with probably hundreds of people watching! It was a lot of fun and I think I'll dedicate a whole post to it soon (I took tons of pics that I have to go through first)--but just the dynamics of getting everyone ready for an event like this becomes all-consuming and, as a result, the house gets trashed. (I also had a nervous breakdown over Andy's pants-but I'll save that for the other post too.)

Anyway, just as an example of how quickly the house can spiral into a pig sty--here is a pic of my kitchen counter this evening:

I numbered the items as a handy reference.

1. Leftover tomato/chicken/cheese concoction for tostadas (from Noble Pig!). I had attempted to make a picnic dinner...but then it rained....but all that will be in the other post.

2. Champagne.

3. Klassy Kups for champagne.

4. Worms for turtle (at least I moved the crickets!)

5. Leftover water bottles.

6. Bag o' nipples.

7. Lots of bottles (Pickle still drinks out of a bottle, ok! Yes--I know she's 2 1/2 but the "Bottle Fairy" has been too busy cleaning the house!)

8. Bags from Cost Plus. I bought these glasses--aren't they cool!?

I don't know if you can tell in the pic--but they have fleur de lys on them.

9. Bag of art supplies.

10. Flower arrangement to prettify the house--but never made it off the kitchen counter.

11. A bunch of miscellaneous crap.

12. I think this is a loaf of French bread?

Tell me--based on this pic--would you rent my house! NEVERMIND! Don't answer that...


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Adding Insult to Injury

I need some opinions here.

I told you that the pink-haired people are trying to back out of the 2 year lease that they signed with us. Upon hearing this, we told our realtor that we had better get our house on the market immediately and try to find new renters--and we also told him to let the "renters" know that they could "buy" themselves out of the lease by paying four months rent or (and this is the option our lawyer advised) they could pay monthly until we (or they) find new tenants.

Also, just to update--when they were entering into the lease, we lowered the price to their requested amount, agreed to move out earlier than planned (even though that meant changing our closing and move-in date) and we started packing up our house--so now there are boxes, etc. everywhere which will all have to be dealt with before we start showing it again. Not to mention, the time we had the house off the market was probably the last week where potential renters for September 1st would be looking.

So today our realtor forwarded this email from the renters' broker to us (obviously I'll change the personal information in it) and--OMG! It's the most insulting thing ever! The realtor is basically saying that her clients are destined for sainthood and we are money-grubbing monsters.

Here--read it for yourselves (just for fun I'm going to highlight all the insults in blue!):

"Hi Peter,
Thanks for your email and thank you for helping to find a fair resolution on the lease of [house]. I always know that you are doing the best you can and I appreciate your professional efforts on this one.

I think it would be appropriate to share with your clients the situation my clients, the L------s are in. They too are feeling the effects of this market - the financial impact and the emotional impact.

The L-----s purchased their home 2 years ago for $1,325,000. Now we are on the market for $995,000 and have entered into a contract for a normal negotiated price off that list price. The L----'s have lost approximately $400,000 in this deteriorating real estate market. That being said, they have weathered this transaction/situation with grace and dignity - not blaming anyone - just accepting the situation as out of their control.

We entered into a contract for the sale of [their house] - twice. The first time within 10 days of listing the home. The buyers were from North Carolina and their plans changed and backed out of our sale for personal reasons. After 3 weeks of being under contract, we had to go back into the market. There was no financial reimbursement for time lost. We then entered into a contract with a family who was very well qualified financially - they had already closed on their home - and their mortgage contingency was more or less a formality. We were, as you know 4 weeks from closing and on Monday the buyer of our home lost his job. He is probably in his mid to late 50's and we know that can be tough. They notified us on Monday that they could not proceed with the purchase of [house].

Peter, I would like you to know the response of my clients....After an initial pause and "Oh Shit", they expressed their concern for the buyers - wondered how they were doing - felt compassion for a professional who still has a child in college and has now lost his job. There was no discussion has to how we could "screw them" for some piece of the earnest money or make the resolution of this transaction difficult. All this on top of the fact that now we have to go back into the market - yet again - in August of all times. It has been very difficult for my clients as well.

I share this with you because, on the other side, we were all quite shocked to get a different sort of response from your clients when we let them know that we needed to get out of the lease. I know we cannot expect everyone to be understanding, but we can hope that all involved understand the tough environment we are all operating in. It is sad that a man/husband/father lost his job; and it is unfortunate that we have had to "sell" [their house] twice because events outside of our control have transpired; and we feel very badly that after 6 days from signing a lease we are asking to be able to get out of the lease for unfortunate events outside of our control. We entered into it in good faith and we are asking your clients to release the L----s in good faith, under the circumstances. The L----s cannot afford to execute a lease and simultaneously make mortgage payments on [their house].

It seems to us fair that since your clients were only out 6 or 7 days of rental listing time that the L---s reimburse your clients for 1 week of rent (approximately $1075). Although we believe that is the fair option, we are willing to offer your client instead 1/2 month rent or $2125. This give them a bit extra for any inconvenience during those 6 days.

Thanks Peter for handling this on your end.

So this woman attacked our character! So far this deal has been all about THEM--they want a lower price, an earlier date--and now--to be let out of the lease! I told my realtor that we would be more than happy to let them out of the lease--once we (or they) find us new renters.

Is this unreasonable?

And frankly, I would have been WAY more inclined to let them out if we hadn't received this personal attack! Now we're mad.

So please--I'm interested--what would you do??

Monday, July 27, 2009

Things Suck Again

The pink-haired people backed out of the lease. Is that even allowed? I mean, you can't just walk out on a contract? But they did. So now, not only do we NOT have renters, we have lost valuable time to find new ones with our house off the market.

Not to mention the fact that we CHANGED OUR CLOSING DATE and MOVE IN DATE to accommodate their schedule.

Not to mention that we started packing over the weekend but had to hide all the (heavy) boxes in the garage today because we have to start SHOWING THE HOUSE AGAIN.

Could anything about this real estate deal just be easy?

Apparently not.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Whatchoo Talkin' 'Bout?

Now that the Sears Tower of Chicago has be renamed the "Willis Tower" (note how I have inserted the sarcastic quotation marks?)there has been no shortage of Diff'rnt Strokes jokes. I have been in on it too---I just can't help myself! You can't change a landmark's name overnight and expect everyone to just accept it. It will always be the Sears Tower to me...

Anyway, along with the new name, they have installed these crazy-time "Sky Ledge" things where you can walk out into a glass-encased little room and see the view (103 stories up) up, down and all around.

The kids were begging to go, so I decided to buy "fast passes" online which allow you to bypass what would certainly be loooong lines and go straight to the top. The passes were pricey, but I figured long lines plus 2 year olds don't exactly add up--so I thought it would be worth it.

As we approached the building, we saw a crazy-long line that went all the way down the sidewalk and around the corner. I gloated about my fast passes to the kids and said things like "Look at those poor fools" and "Suckas!!"

Then we had what I like to call a Curb Your Enthusiasm moment--I marched up to an official-looking woman in a blazer, all the while shooting looks of pity at the people in line and asked "Where do the people with the Front of the Line Passes go?"

She glared at me and pointed around the corner "To the back of the line!"

Can't you just imagine Larry David's reaction to that?

Apparently, the front of the line passes kicked in once you were actually in the building...Oh well!

But I think they did help speed up the process and before long we were whizzing up to the top.

We headed out on the The Ledge to take in the amazing view.
This was Pickle's reaction to the whole business:
You likey my Nike?
Pickle wasn't crazy about the view out the window either:
But perked up after an expensive purchase at the gift shop:
We also had to purchase two packages of Gummi bears, a tin of Barack Obama mints and a giant pen. Just send me to the Poorhouse now...

Over $200 later--at least we can say we saw the view.

Whatchoo talkin' 'bout Willis Tower? Sorry--I couldn't resist!!

Please join Candid Carrie for her Phriday Phestivities!!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lucky Pink Hair

You've probably noticed that I've gone underground again--as I seem to in times of stress! The selling/renting of our house (or lack thereof) was weighing heavily on me, and I can't seem to write when I'm in that kind of stress mode. Not to mention I have been cleaning Non. Stop. and I'm so sick of it...

So on Monday there was a very "important" showing of the house. People coming in from out of town that needed to be in our school district and had viewed homes online and narrowed it down to ours and one other. Then the "one other" was gone so ours was seemingly the only one in the running. Not to mention, our broker was also the realtor for these people--so it seemed like a shoe-in!

I spent part of Sunday preparing (we were away for the weekend but I'll get caught up with that in another post) and flower arranging. Monday my cleaning lady arrived along with a fleet of window washers and we were all in a frenzy of cleaning and beautifying the house.

There's not much more I could have done to make it look better--the windows sparkled, the floors gleamed, the freshly baked chocolate chip cookie aroma was in the air. I knew they would just love it!

They hated it.

I knew we were in for trouble when I returned home and the cleaning lady said the prospective tenants had been there for "maybe ten minutes." In the end it turns out that the mom in the family was "too tall" for the house. (???) How tall was she? What was that movie?--Monsters Vs. Aliens--was she like that?

After that I spiraled into a foul mood thinking we would be stuck paying for two houses for an unforeseeable amount of time. Then later that day, our realtor called for a last-minute showing--so I did a fast re-clean and hustled the kids out the door.

I had to wait in the car in front of the house with Andy who was waiting to be picked up by a friend. As we waited, we saw the people arriving for the showing. First a man, then our realtor, then a woman with BRIGHT PINK hair!!

As soon I saw the hair, I turned to Andy and said "this is it!" You see, we have a pink hair kind of house.

They LOVED it!! And immediately wanted the papers drawn up for a two year lease.

So now I have a monkey off my back and possibly a new pink-haired friend!!

What a relief!!! Now I can blog again!! (I use a lot of exclamation marks!!)

In other news--you may remember this:

I bought it today! I went to this crazy warehouse place where it was being stored and the guy that owns the place was SO cute and very interesting. It was embarrassing because I looked awful--I literally rolled out of bed and out to see the sofa.

Plus I broke the 11th commandment--"Thou shalt not wear socks with Crocs."

I know! I wasn't even thinking--I was wearing socks and the Crocs were by the door and...

Oh, it doesn't matter--let's just hope the sofa looks good in the new house.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Day In Haiku

The day started out
On such a promising note
Quickly went downhill

My two year old won't
Allow me to take shower
Crying all the time

Pool water is green
After thousands of dollars
No one knows what's wrong

Running an errand
Car begins to billow smoke
A tow truck is called

Waiting to be towed
With five irritable kids
In sweltering heat

Car is in the shop
Maybe the serpentine belt?
Maybe something worse

Dog is acting sick
But cannot take to vet now
As we have no wheels

Highlight of the day:
Don made peach margaritas
At least that's something!

edited this morning to add:

My coffee maker
Has appeared to stop working
Please just kill me now


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Princess Pickle

Today Pickle wore a full-blown princess get-up. Like the costumey kind you get at Target. I had bought it for her on her 2nd birthday--but she had never seemed all that into it and it was tucked away in the closet.

Lately, she has been stark-raving-princess, as in--she doesn't even want to wear pajamas because they're not princess enough!

This morning while she was still in her jammies, she insisted on upgrading them with a tulle skirt and some glitter shoes.

Then I remembered the princess costume and showed it to her while she was taking a bath. She could not have gotten out of the tub and into that dress fast enough!

Note: if you take a cute two year old girl dressed in a princess outfit to the grocery store--be prepared to stay for a long time! Every old lady shopping and every store employee will want to have a conversation with her! We were in that store forever!

And she was gifted a pink balloon to match her dress (as every single person we passed in the store pointed out).

When we got home I took her into the yard for a little photo shoot in her pretty dress and matching balloon:
I like this one--it reminds me of something out of a fairy tale!
I like her hair in this one!

Pointing at a donkey:
Sitting on a donkey:
Princess Pickle!
Please join Candid Carrie (the Queen of the Laundromat!) for some Friday Foto Fun!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


When we move to the new house, none of our current living room furniture is going to work in the new living room, so I've been consumed lately with trying to come up with how it should look and what pieces to choose.

I'm trying to start with a rug, because I figure I can build all the colors of the room, etc. around that--but it has NOT been easy to find one! We know we want a Persian rug and it has to be large because it's a large room, so I've been doing a lot looking both online and in stores. Point blank (and I'm not kidding) every time I see a rug I like and that's the right size and inquire about the price--it's over $100,000 (sometimes WAY over--a couple rugs I asked about were $250,000!!)! If you put me in a room full of rugs, I will undoubtedly make a beeline for the highest priced one. So obviously this is getting difficult!

To make things more complicated, I have it in my head that I want the rug to have a lot of orange in it because I have this blue color in mind for the walls and I think the orange would be a great compliment to the blue. Of course--it might look totally awful! But it looks good in my head.

So the closest rug I have found so far that is even remotely in our price range is this one:
It's kind of wild, but I like that it's an antique and has that bombed-out orangey-red that I've been searching for, plus lots of nice blues, green, pink etc. So that rug is a maybe.

Then for the furniture, I have this idea of mixing old and new--so I found this funky vintage sofa in its original kooky green velvet:
Me likey!!

And then I need a new sofa that I want to upholster in a silvery velvet. So I found this one that I really like the look of, but I sat on it and it's not super comfortable--not uncomfortable or anything, just not really cushy. But it's so pretty!
And there was another sofa there that I don't like the look of quite as much, but it was really comfortable.
And finally--and this is sort of out there--I have this notion of a mirrored coffee table. I think it would be a nice change from the typical wood and I like the idea of the table reflecting all the colors of the room. I found this one that I really like:
Oh and here's the blue I have in mind:
So, I don't know, just throwing around some ideas! Any decorating whizzes out there? Let me know what you think.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Eye Love It!!

I'm sure you're all well aware of my eyeball obsessions/collections by now...

I'm happy to announce the newest addition to my eyeball family:

Antique Eye Chart!

Isn't it supercool??

I think the root of my eyeball obsession comes from the fact that my eyes were so messed up as a baby. I had to wear teeny tiny glasses at age 3 months and have an eye surgery at age 3 years. All this resulted in lots and lots of trips to the eye doctor's office. All of it is burned into my memory--the waiting room, the awful blur-inducing eye drops, and the loooooong dark examining room with the lighted eye chart at the end.

Well now I've got my own! The kids have been having fun checking their eyesight--kind of handy!

I think it will look good in the new house--I need to put it at the end of a nice long hallway!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Pig Out on the 4th!

Despite the kind of rainy/gloomy weather that descended upon us, we had a really fun 4th of July. We pretty much just stayed inside and ate all day!

I turned to my fabulous blogfriend Cathy from Noble Pig for some fun 4th recipes--and, as usual, she didn't disappoint.

But before I get to that, here are a couple pics of the kids decked out in their patriotic get-ups:

Pickle and Gooser on the stairs:
Group shot:
Close-up of Miss Pickle:
So first up, we made Cathy's contest-winning peach margaritas. I can't even begin to explain how good they were! Do yourselves a favor and make them. Like right now!
They were so good in fact that we made them twice--once earlier in the day and again later after the fireworks...

Then for a midday snack, I went with the Reuben dip from Noble Pig. Totally delicious! By the way, Cathy's pictures are a million times better than mine--I was so hungry it's a wonder I managed to take any pics--the quality is not so great...

Then it was onto chili dogs
and sliders...
I told you it was a pig-out! A NOBLE pig-out! Get it!? Recently, I've pretty much cut out red meat from our diets--except for special occasions--and I considered the 4th a special occasion so we really got our beef on!

Then onto dessert--again from Noble Pig--the brilliantly brilliant Pop Rocks cupcakes.

What kid wouldn't totally love these??
I will admit that I went "off recipe" and just used a yellow cake mix which turned out great--but I'm sure they'd be even better with the homemade version.
I think those raspberries and blueberries were the only healthy thing we ate all day...unless the peaches in the margaritas count too? Do you like my rabbit plates?

Also, Teddy and Patrick got a bee in their bonnet to make a red velvet cake (I have no idea where this came from) so they made one all by themselves and they did an amazing job!

Here's Teddy with his masterpiece:
And here's a nice pic he took of the inside:
After the feeding frenzy, it was time for Don to take the four boys to the fireworks show (the rain finally cleared up!) and for me to put Pickle to bed. Then I settled in to watch my absolute favorite movie--Rosemary's Baby. This has become my new tradition on the 4th of July!

Wow--I love that movie. I want to be a Minnie Castevet type (minus all the devil stuff!) when I'm old! I love her wacky style and her crazy get-ups.
So that's it! We're just finishing up the last of the margaritas...

I'll leave you with frosting-face Pickle!
Would it be creepy if I watched Rosemary's Baby again? Don says yes it would. Maybe I'll wait until tomorrow... Maybe I won't...


Wednesday, July 1, 2009


A random sampling of Fun House photos from the past couple of weeks...

Gorilla eating corn on the cob.

Portrait of Hazel.
Football boys!
Football is dirty...
Rainbow Goldfish on the floor.

Pickle attempting to blow bubbles.
Gooser can do it!
Look Mom--I caught one!
Ferret grave.
Pickle in one of her get-ups.
Super Gooser!
Gooser as alien with weird severed hand.
My bride and groom taxidermy mice finally arrived!!

P.S. Is anyone having trouble with Blogger pre-posting now working? Every day I try to schedule blog ahead of time. kt just sits there under "scheduled." weord...