Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Black Widow Spider Story: Death by….Chocolate?

When DH and I finished buying the house at the lawyer’s office, we quickly loaded the kids into our rented SUV, (suh-weet ride! How I miss you!) and headed down to our new home. The kids ran into the house while we unloaded the car from the garage. DH pointed to the corner.

“See that? Is that what I think it is?” He carefully said when the kids were gone.


Ok. So I had to calm down a bit. My normal laid-back attitude shielded the children from my initial reaction. But inside I was freaking out.

This did not get better after a night on the carpet in the living room. In my head, spiders crawled all over me. Before we went to sleep, DH had attempted to kill the “lady spider” (my nickname for her) but she zipped back into her hole. I imagined she was plotting revenge, and had her eyes on my DD2.

DH went to work the next day, leaving me in my dream home turned nightmare with 4 kids and no furniture or toys. I walked out on the patio to enjoy the morning sunshine was greeted by an EVEN BIGGER black widow on the corner of the porch RIGHT NEXT TO MY FOOT!!!! ARGH!!!

Even though I know spiders don’t travel in packs (that’s what DH says), I became obsessed with the problem. The joy of being in this new, sunny place was lost on me as I completely paralyzed myself with fear. It was all I could think about for days! I prayed for protection for my kids and peace for myself.

That night, I went out to the store and DH watched the kids. My son took an Andes’ candy and then “remembered” he didn’t like chocolate. He opened the back door and spit the whole mouthful out on our brand new patio. EW!

In the morning, the day they were to deliver all our worldly belongings, I found our patio “lady spider” belly up next to the mint center of DS4’s nasty spit. Really? I showed DH the spider, and we captured it in a jar. AND then it MOVED! Like I wasn’t creeped out enough before??!!

That day, while the moving guys were carrying our stuff into the house, DH called the exterminator and asked them to come out ASAP. When the spider removal company came, he mixed up some nasty spider juice and sprayed all the nooks and crannies around the outside of the house and in the garage.

HE. FOUND. (and killed) FIVE. SPIDERS.

You can look at this two ways. One, five black widows do not make an army. My family actually outnumbered them.


The cost: $85.00 – well worth it even if it was just the 2 we found! But part of me wonders if we had just spit chocolate mints at them it would have saved us the bill…we are trying to save money right now until we sell the Pittsburgh house. I’m sleeping much better at night now. And I love my house, even if every dark spot inside and around it seems like a spider.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Kennywood in the Rain

The last time we tried to go to Kennywood it was the girls' school picnic and we had just returned from Georgia after finding our dream home. The Pittsburgh house was trashed and we had to show it on Wednesday to a prospective buyer (exciting! but an utter failure) and to the 2 appraisers and the inspector later on Monday. To make matters worse, we had been trying to get home for 22 hours because of mechanical failure in Augusta and a storm in Charlotte. So instead of going to Kennywood we cleaned the house. *sigh* But I still had the tickets.

We decided on Friday July 8th since DH now has Fridays off. It was almost the last day we could go before leaving Pittsburgh entirely, so when the forecast called for rain, rain and more rain, we figured we would go anyway. It turned out to be a good idea. We were wet, but we had the place almost to ourselves until the skies cleared. They opened plenty of rides even with the thin crowds so there were barely any lines. DH and I took turns going on the Pit Fall, the Phantom Revenge, and the Sky Rocket (by far my favorite of the day!) The kids went on ride after ride in Kiddie Land and had a blast. The girls even went on some "big" rides they had never tried before. :)

Poor DD2! We dragged her onto the log flume first thing and she refused to go on another ride for the rest of the day. Because she is 2 (turns 3 in September) she was free. She was content to eat ice cream and watch everyone else ride. It was a sweet, if soggy, day and I'm glad we went.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rain Rain Go Away

Today we went to the Monroeville Community Pool with some friends. Just after we payed but before I got in, the heavens opened up and roared a warning to the lifeguards that everyone should get out of the pool. My family and I waited with our friends for two and a half hours in sunny, then rainy, then sunny (they let us in to be whistled out in less than 5 minutes), then incredibly stormy conditions. Finally the thunder ceased and we enjoyed about 2 hours of the pool almost completely to ourselves!

My kids and my friend's kids started playing in the rain when it began to pour. It was a marvelous way to recover the day. They splashed in puddles and kicked up some serious mud under the tire swing. Thumbs up to the showers at the Monroeville Community Pool! We really needed them today.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Slooooowly getting answers

Today was a little better for getting information. We were finally contacted by our representative and she asked for us to send the estimates to her (we had sent them to the company, but to our old rep who is on medical leave...I was wondering what they would do about that!) So I spent the better part of my time at the playground this afternoon on my smartphone sending the estimates to the new rep.

In other news, we passed the structural foundation issues!!! The news is official: my house is not falling down from the bottom up! We have a firm report from the structural engineer that the house is sound. HURRAY!!!

Wish I had more stuff to tell you. It will have to wait until tomorrow. Please pray with me that we do not need to replace the roof or get work done on the basement in order to get the buy out! Oh, and this is a picture of everyone after the 4th of July parade in Monroeville on Monday morning. Aren't they the cutest?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Whole far

When we started thinking about selling the house, it was more about getting close to DH’s workplace and less about money. And then we simultaneously looked at mobile homes in Cranberry and found out how much our house was worth according to our realtor. The resulting experiment had us hoping that we would walk away from this house with money in our pockets as well as free from student loan debt, not to mention owning our house outright! It was a wonderful concept that worked great on paper in February. We jumped on the market with stars in our eyes and fluttering hopes of DH removing his long commute and having cash to spare at the end of each month that didn’t go towards paying off debt.

Like most crazy ideas of mine, the stars were temporary. Reality on realty in Pittsburgh kicked in quickly and we found ourselves embarrassed by the high price our realtor had suggested to list our home. Who knows what the neighbors must have thought? We showed the house once on a Realtor Tour and once for an Open House and had zero interest for months. We used the time to finish every project we had ever wanted to do for the house, from painting the awful bright blue siding to calm beige to replacing the worn carpet in the family room. We installed new kitchen countertops and put a granite sink in the upstairs bathroom. Landscaping the outside of the house for the first time ever and tearing down the ancient basketball hoop (filled with concrete! Who knew?) completed the outside transformation. Our house had never looked so good inside or out. And still no interest.

During those months, DH applied and was accepted for a promotion that would take us to sunny Augusta, Georgia by the end of the summer. Our house selling experiment changed overnight to a necessity! We had to get out of this slow moving house as soon as possible so we didn’t have to carry two mortgages. How could our financial picture go from debt free to desperate in such a short time?

The good news that came with the promotion was an excellent relocation package that was designed to get us out of this house as soon as possible and find another home in Georgia that would work for us. The primary goal would be to sell this house to a real buyer, but if we could not find one the company would assess the house and give us an offer, freeing us from the chance of paying for 2 mortgages indefinitely. Nice package, but not as easy as it sounds.

The company DH works for hired another company to run the relocation. We had used them before with our move to Pittsburgh and we were very comfortable with the whole situation from the start. Our benefits included two house hunting trips as well as the forced buy out of our home here, so we scheduled one trip to Augusta to check out the area, planning to have our second trip to find the actual house. Instead, on the second day of our house hunt, we found and made an offer on an amazing home! We are really excited to be moving there now that we know where we are going. The hitch at the moment is getting out of this house.

The policy for a forced buy out (that is what they call it for them to make an offer and buy this house) begins with 2 appraisals from professional appraisers and pest inspection and whole house inspection. All were scheduled the first week we came home from Augusta. We learned immediately there were no pest issues, so that was good. The same week we passed the occupancy permit inspection for Plum. Later on we passed the dye test, a required test for Plum Borough. So it seemed like everything was going well, right? The following week we got the inspection report and the issues we would have to resolve in order to participate in the forced buy out. The inspector had failed our roof, our basement for water penetration, and the foundation as well as $2,000 of misc repairs that were not code required (for example, corrosion on the outside of the drain became a “possibly leaking drain” and therefore failed. None of our drains are leaking.) These repairs had to be done or deducted from the professional appraisal they had ordered on the house.

So I got to work getting estimate for replacing the roof, getting a sump pump for the basement, and arranging a visit with a structural engineer about our “foundation issues.” Last week, while DH was in Augusta for training, I had my final appointment with a basement waterproofing company and received my final estimate from the last roofing company and turned in my estimates. Then we heard that our representative handling our forced buy out is on medical leave and does not have a return date. So right now I am waiting to hear back from her replacement about whether I need to do the roofing and basement repairs in order to do the buy out or if they only need the numbers to deduct from the appraisal. Thanks to the holiday weekend I have been waiting for 4 days and probably lost the chance to get the work done before we leave.

Reading over this I am shocked by my own pessimism. I have grown a lot in recent years as an optimist, so this seems weird to me. Please don’t let’s be depressed! It’s going to work out okay. I trust that God has a plan for me and my family and we will just be turning around and pointing to Him when it all works out okay in the end. We are scheduled to pack on July 21st, load on July 22nd, and fly on July 23rd. The walkthrough for the new house is on Sunday July 24th, and we close on the new house on July 25th in the afternoon. You will be hearing from me soon now that you are all caught up.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My new back door! It wouldn't be right not to post this after all the work it took DH to install it. It isnt finished (read: paint is necessary on the frame), but it looks sharp and the best part is it closes and locks! The new owners will never appreciate how much this was an improvement, but I will really enjoy it until we leave.
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Yeah! New switch, removed wallpaper, painted. The powder room is almost done!
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Old Stuff

This is a picture of my old wallpaper. What to note here is not just the wear and tear (it was ripped in several places in the room) but also that the light switch is sunken into the wall! So there's that.
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Big Helpers

DD2 and DD7 helped me scrape up the carpet pad residue from the hardwood. It looks stunning now. Forget Pergo, we have hardwood. Nyah nyah.

The First Thing that Had to Go

We are trying to sell our house. The first thing that had to go was this couch. You cannot grasp its complete awfulness from this picture, but trust me. The house was not being improved by its presence. As an extra bonus, DH sliced it in 6 handy pieces before we put it on the curb! Go us!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Beating the Kids Up

This morning I beat the kids up, and it felt great. I can't wait to do it tomorrow. Now before you call the cops, let me explain.

When DS4 got up this morning for comfort it was 4:30am. (My kids take turns keeping me up at odd hours.) DS4 went back to sleep, but my body said wake up. So there I was at 5am, coffee freshly made, hot biscuits on a plate - it was time to catch up on my two chapters (okay 4 - I was behind, shut up) of "Wife After God's Own Heart" by Elizabeth George. Darned if it wasn't right there in the book, chapter 7 page 124 "You must beat the children up!" And by this she meant, of course, to wake up before everyone else in the house, sit quietly alone, read the Bible and pray for the day. So wow, I was already doing what she suggested! I'm ahead of the game!

I don't like being told what to do. I usually avoid self-help books. But in a way, I was already doing what she said since I beat the kids up before I read it. So you could say it was my idea first. And that makes it okay to try this for a while and let you know how it turns out. Do you know that I was showered, dressed, caught up with my Bible Study homework, and relaxed? I FINISHED MY COFFEE, read my novel, and even had time this morning to pack lunches and put away the dishes...who does that before 7am? It was only possible for me because I went to bed at a reasonable hour and didn't OD on caffeine the day before.

So let's try it. I don't think it is necessary to get up at 4:30 everyday, but maybe 5:30 or 5:45? You wanna beath the kids up tomorrow?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mixed Feelings

If I knew how I felt about this, I would have posted earlier. But since I still don't know and it is getting later and later I may as well tell you that DH received a job offer and we accepted on Wednesday. People have been very kind about not being overly emotional or mean about us leaving, but faced with the colder facts of knowing we are certainly leaving I have mixed feelings.

I have never been secretive about my dislike about the city/suburbs of Pittsburgh, but you don't know that I have found the most precious people here. I'm not very vocal about my friends since I didn't have that many until not that long ago. It takes 3 years to really settle in to a place in my experience. We have been here for 4. That said, I will not miss you Big City, but I will miss your people.

The job we are heading to sounds really interesting to me. They are building a brand new generation of power plants, and the first one in the US is being built at Votgle in Georgia. DH will be a lead engineer, helping with training the new engineers and having other people below him. This is the most managerial job he has ever held and the benefits are lovely. Because there are no offices available down at the plant right now, he will have to wait to start working until after mid-June when they have built the office area. So for all you lovely friends who care, we will be here for another few months.

I promise to keep this updated with news and anything quirky I can come up with in the interim. We can expect lots of great things to come.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Change is in the Air

Something is coming. For us as a family, it might be a huge thing. For several months we have contemplated trying for a promotion which would mean a move from Suburban Pittsburgh to Rural Georgia. With wide open doors and everything seeming to fall into place towards this job, last week my DH applied when it was finally posted. Unexpectedly soon, 3 days ago he was scheduled to interview today. As I write, he is interviewing for this HUGE change.

The scary part is, as general as I have to be in describing it, and as unofficial as I have to be in announcing it (even the news that we applied to the job I had to take off Facebook!) the job is almost a done deal. DH is really good at what he does and anyone would be blessed to have him on their team. He should be the lead engineer for this job. And we have always wanted to move south…

Not everyone here WANTS to leave Pittsburgh, even if it means a promotion. Most of the families I know have several generations-both sides of the family!- in town, sometimes next door or across the street. As a mom of 4 kids under 9, the free babysitting angle is crazy attractive! DH’s family is just under an hour away from where we live now and you can’t put a price on having grandparents involved in loving and raising your kids. Since we moved here almost 4 years ago now, they have been so helpful (ex: we got to go on a second honeymoon for our 10th anniversary…alone!) and generous (Grandma has a job mostly so she can bless her grandkids at Christmas); it is hard to imagine being THAT far away from them. I would especially miss my SIL and her family. So I get why people wouldn’t want to leave. But we have ALWAYS lived in Pennsylvania.

Haven’t you ever wanted to try living somewhere different? I can tell you first hand it isn’t as scary as it feels when you first think about it. I grew up in Bethlehem, PA but went to college in Erie-an 8 hour drive, all the way across the state. During college I did an internship near Boca Raton, FL and fell in love… No not with DH, with the climate! I have very dry skin in the winter, but in Boca I only thought about sunscreen. They get thunderstorms almost every day at the same time of day in the summer-I Luuuuuuv thunderstorms. And the SUN! You don’t have to know me long to hear how much I heart Florida. If God grants me life past retirement, you will find me on a beach in FL in my latter years!

Anyway, ever since I got a taste of a different climate I have been trying to get out of this two-horse state and try living somewhere else, ANYWHERE else. It helped drive me to our first real job as a couple near Harrisburg (lived for 5 years there) and again when DH wanted to move to Pittsburgh I said let’s try it. So of course when DH said we might have an opportunity to move (on the company dime) to Georgia, I am at peace with trying.

Go ahead and guess how fast I Map Quested the distance to Florida.

So shout out here. I want to know where you want to live when you retire. Do you think I am insane for even considering a move from the great mothership, Pittsburgh? Don’t worry, I will always root for the Steelers. Even from my bungalow in West Palm Beach.