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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