Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Motorbikes, Mischief and Missed Opportunity

We've had lots of happenings around Casa de Milkshake.  It's been a mixed bag which I'm learning is how life tends to go.  On the up side, the littlest Shake and her Dad had a great time at her school's first annual Father/Daughter Dance.  They danced (obvs), played games, and ate some amazing chocolate fountain goodness.  Here's a pic of the little Miss as she was heading out:

The boy also had a fun event that became a Mother/Son night.  I had the opportunity to take he and a couple of friends to see the Nuclear Cowboyz in Tampa, Florida.  (It really was a great show, and you should totally consider taking your kiddos if you live in the Orlando Area.  They'll roll into the Amway Center on March 8th and hang around until the 10th).  There were four wheelers (quads?), dirt bikes, ninjas, things exploding, smoke, racing...pretty much all the things a group of 13 year old boys need to be happy.  It was a totally exciting 2 1/2 hours with a brief intermission.  Younger kids may find the "story" that goes along with the show a little difficult to follow, but will be so immersed in the high flying bonanza that it won't matter a bit.  Again, I had 13 year old boys with me and even they were not able to deny how fun it was (you know 13 year old boys find all the things lame...mostly their Moms), and they even walked in the same vicinity of me as we left the Forum after the show, so clearly I had earned some street cred with them.  They also missed two, yes two different birthday parties going on amongst their friends that night, so clearly they have their priorities straight.  You can follow Nuclear Cowboyz on Facebook for more updates, great videos and photos!       

Just a tiny side note (Tons more pics on Instagram)!  Come follow me for more fun moments from the night!

We ate Five Guys Burgers on the way so basically it was the perfect evening. 

And, finally, the bummer of it all.  We had a contract on our house, it seemed like things were going along swimmingly, but they buyer backed out at the last minute.  We are now back on the market (I do not recommend ever selling a house with kids and 2 very rotten dogs).  So, any spare prayers for a great buyer who can close really fast are appreciated.  I'm totally not conveying well the depths of my disappointment over the loss of this contract.  You'll just have to trust me.  I've been pretty unbearable the last few days.  I even abandoned my Lake House Pinterest board if that tells you anything.  It just seems this is a dream slipping through my fingers and I'm struggling.  A friend posted this on Facebook yesterday and I'm doing my best to embrace the current suck:

We've had some good fun lately, and a few tears to boot.  Thanks for always sticking around for this wild and crazy ride with us.  You are the Irish Creme in my coffee.  The coffee is pretty good without you, but once you add that creme, it becomes perfection.  

Smooches and Shakes,

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Top Ten Things that May Cause a Seller to Dream of Punching You in the Throat

We are now going on week 3 of having a house on the market, and I'm going to be real, I'm exhausted.  We've had a ton of showings, but nothing further than that.  We've gotten a little feedback that is pretty unhelpful like: the buyer is looking for a bigger house or a more open floor plan.  Since I don't plan to build onto my house or knock down some walls any time soon, there's not much I can do about either of these complaints.  In the spirit of trying to find some humor in my angst, I've compiled my:

         Top Ten Things that May Cause a Seller to Dream of Punching You in the Throat

1. Making a Listing Appointment and Not Showing Up.

2. Or the sister to complaint #1, showing up 45 minutes early.  This happened to me last week.  Let me set the scene:  Cleaning supplies everywhere, me running around without a bra on, yelling at the kids to pick up the dog's bowls and put them on a leash, 2 psychotic dachshunds barking furiously at said buyers through the glass front door, me waving through the glass door asking the prospective buyer to give me 5 minutes, please and thank you very much.  This prospective buyer was one who called my realtor after and said and I quote "we can get more house for the same money with new construction".  Then, why did you come?  You knew the price!  And, if you think the price is too much, make a dang offer.  Gah!

3.  We (the buyer) were looking for something bigger.  Was the square footage on the MLS listing confusing?  Did you think we had possibly added rooms since our realtor listed the house 3 weeks ago?

4. We (also, the buyer) were looking for a different floor plan.  Again, did the 30 pictures and the virtual tour not answer these questions for you?

5.  We prefer not to have a pool.  Our kids can't swim.  Again, look at the MLS listing.  It mentions a pool, and then there are like 5 pictures of my pool.  I'll go fill it in with dirt right now.
6.  We work 45 minutes from where your house is located, so it's too far to drive.  Did your place of business move?  Did you think a helicopter came with the home?  Perhaps, you thought we would move the house for you?  This one is a real stumper.

7.  We would like a more updated kitchen. Yes, I feel you.  So would I.  Again, people, look at the freaking pictures.  If our kitchen is not your speed, and I'm totally cool with that, you can tell that from the very professional pictures our agent has provided you with.  We also have not undertaken a major kitchen remodel in the last 3 weeks. Further, if our house did indeed have a kitchen worthy of Chef Emeril, the price would reflect said kitchen. We are priced very competitively for the kitchen we have.  We did it on purpose.

8. We like your house, but we haven't started the loan process yet, and aren't sure we'd qualify.  This one is why I just penned an email to my agent asking her to require a pre-approval letter from prospective buyers before booking a showing.  I know that sounds harsh, but, really if you haven't even figured out your budget yet, your likely wasting a whole bunch of people's time.

9. We'll be by to see your house today between 2:30 and 6:30.  A 4 hour viewing window?  For real?  I have kids and dogs and a husband working a 10 day gig who isn't here to help, and I'm already a donkey on the edge! Now, you want me to leave my house for 4 hours (more really when you consider I want to leave 30 minutes in advance of the appt)?  An hour or 2 maybe, but 4?

10.  Using my bathroom and not flushing the toilet.  Yes, I know it was you, or your agent, because I inspected each and every toilet after loading the kids in the car with said pups.  They were all flushed with pretty blue water when I left.  I did not find one of them in that condition.  You are gross.    

All of these things speak to basic respect for other human beings to me.  If you are out looking for a house, congrats!! It's an exciting time, and I totally understand you will see many houses before you find just the right one.  Please do consider, however, there are real living people who currently live in the home you are interested in, and a little basic courtesy goes a long way, particularly if you do find yourself making an offer and you are negotiating with these people.  Thank you in advance from an exhausted seller.

Smooches and Shakes,



Monday, January 27, 2014

Waiting Game

Well, our house has officially been on the market for one week now and it's not going as well as I'd hoped.   We've had 2 showings and no follow up from the lookers.  I think my expectations were set way too high.  I thought since we lived in a desirable community in our city, we would have at least had more interest in a first look.  Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case.  I'm beginning to see this may be a very lengthy process, and if that is the case, we likely won't have the opportunity to purchase the lot we desire.  We can't purchase the lot without selling this house, and the lot will likely go before we have the opportunity to be done with this home.  I said in my last entry I was willing to accept whatever God's will for our move may be, and I understand that may mean remaining in this home.  That sounds really unappealing to me.  This home is not a great layout for our family, and we've had some pretty rough times while living here.  I'm ready for a fresh space with a new start.  Even with all of that, I know this might be bad timing, and we might be here for a little while longer, or possibly a lot longer.  Who knows? 

So, needless to say, I'm bummed.  In the whole scheme of things, it's first world problems.  I get that.  We have a great place to live, in a safe community.  Really, it sounds super ungrateful to be upset that we might have to stay here.  I get that.  I'm working hard to keep perspective.  I know many families would love to live in our home, and would appreciate it much more than I do.  Even typing my discontent with our current home feels really selfish.  I'm working through the conflicting feelings of knowing God is interested in all the desires of our heart, while realizing he has already blessed me abundantly and if He never did another thing for me, He's lavished me with way more than I deserve. 

Adding to my "list of things to worry about today", is baseball season.  The boy is getting to the age where you no longer just "make" it.  Boys get cut.  Boys don't play.  His life is baseball and it would be heart breaking for him to not make the team.  It's competitive.  He's worked hard, and now he just has to go out there and do his thing hoping it's enough.  I decided if I had to choose between selling our home and him making the baseball team, I would definitely go with him making the baseball team.  I'd rather deal with my disappointment than his, any old day.  So, God, if I have to stay in this house, if that is Your will, please give the boy a spot on the baseball team.  That way, I have a place to go 3 nights a week and that will help me forget how much I hate the carpet in this house. 

Smooches and Shakes,

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Milkshakes on the Move?

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed I've been oddly silent as of the last week.  This would be quite noticeable because, I am in fact, addicted to Twitter and spend way too much time on it.  Waiting in line, going to the bathroom, any free minute, I'm on Twitter.  There's been little time for any of the above, however, because we've had some exciting happenings around Casa Milkshake.  Here's the Reader's Digest Abridged Edition:

I've been ready to sell our home and move on for quite some time.  I've decided living in a neighborhood with an HOA (Homeower's Association for those that live in blissful ignorance to this type of thing) is not for me.  My husband, however, was not quite so ready.  He hoped to stay in this home until our littlest shake was off to college.  I really couldn't imagine that.  We've talked about moving several times and he's never really been on board.  Until we found this lot:

As you can see, it has a beautiful view of a lake in our area (actually it's a "chain of lakes") and once my husband imagined building a log home on this property, he was sold.  Obviously, the one obstacle standing in the way is selling our current home.  We couldn't and frankly wouldn't hold a mortgage and a monthly payment on a lot, so the only way this is feasible is a quick sell of our current home.  We've chosen the best realtor in our area, priced our home fairly (we think!), and are hoping for a quick sell.  The market for our neighborhood has been pretty brisk, so fingers crossed.  I hesitated to write about this as everything is so tentative and still could fall through at any minute.  This is a very real possibility.  I reconsidered, however, when I thought about my reasons for writing this blog.  While I love sharing with my readers, ultimately I keep this blog as a way to document what happened over the years in our family.  This is an exciting, yet tenuous time for us.  Whether or not things work out with the new property, I want to remember this time.  I want to look back at how I felt, how I prayed, how I handled joy, and possibly how I may have to the deal with disappointment. 

Ultimately, no matter what happens, I want to know where we live is God ordained.  If the door is closed on a move, I will know He is in control.  So, if you are the praying sort, would you add my little family to your list.  Just pray for God's will to be done in our lives.  As long as we rest in that place, I know we will be fine as frog hair.

Smooches and Shakes,

Monday, January 13, 2014

My "I Don't Do" List

Last week, I was reading this article over at JustJilly.com, and it struck a chord with me.  Particularly at the beginning of the year, we all focus on things we are going to START doing.  Sometimes, it's good to take a long look at the things we ARE doing now, and determine if they are helping us meet our goals, or are simply keeping us busy.  On that note, here is my list of 10 things I DON'T do:

1. Iron- My husband was in the military. His soul yearns for perfect pleats. So he does it.
2. Play Barbies or Littlest Pet Shop. I can Rainbow Loom like a champ, but no make believe play. K?
3. Fold fitted sheets
4. Cook Dinner every night. We have lots of breakfast for dinner in these here parts. And my husband's spaghetti.
5. Have involved night time rituals. We pray, kiss and hugs and night night egg whites.
6. Elf on the Shelf
7. Talk on the phone (other than to my parents) Can not handle the phone. It might be a sickness.
8. Wash my hair every day. Curly hair girl problems.
9. Get gas in the car. That's man's work. Not really, but my Granny told me to never start doing something you didn't want to do the rest of your life. That ain't on my bucket list, so no go. I mow a mean lawn though.
10. Talk to any business, utility, etc we use. Also, falls under my husband's domain, or my Dad's if aforementioned husband isn't available. I promise y'all...it's best this way. My patience runs thin for any sorts of nonsense, particularly if I don't know you and have nothing invested in our relationship.  Therefore, better for everyone.

What are the things you don't do?  What might you give up this year in order to find time for the things that are meaningful to you?  Leave me a comment, party people!

P.S.  One thing I do love to do is go to the circus.  Here's sneak peak of our recent visit.  Can't wait to tell you more about it next time!


Smooches and Shakes,

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Ones That Got Away

Generally, I use this space to talk about the fun things my family is doing, or to discuss blended family issues.   Today, I am penning my personal response to a couple of articles printed today describing the place of my father's birth, Harlan, Kentucky. 

 In the past 24 hours, NPR and Kevin D. Williamson of National Review Online posted stories of what Williamson refers to as the "White Ghetto".  They investigated the crushing poverty of the Appalachian region.  They described people hooked on prescription drugs and alcohol, with a few religious zealots thrown in for good measure.  You may have seen "Snake Salvation" on the National Geographic channel.  As shocking as it may be to mainstream Christians, a group I lump myself in, it is familiar to me as my Dad hails from this area.

My Dad was born in Harlan, Kentucky in 1950, the third child of his parents.  At the time, his Mother was in her her mid twenties.  His father, almost 60.  They met because their family farms joined one another.  She desperately wanted children and the prospects for marrying a man able to support his family were slim even back then.  My Grandfather was retired from the railroad and had a decent pension.  He had been married once before but had no children with his first wife.  They married and began a  life in Wolf Holler, so named for my great grandfather killed in a logging accident.  My Grandfather was a staunch Republican so when a Republican Governor was elected, he was lucky enough to acquire a job as a Revenuer.  His job was political and consisted of sniffing out illegal stills and seizing the illegal money acquired by selling moonshine.  When that Governor was ousted, my Grandfather felt it no longer safe to remain in the area.  As you can imagine, the man taking away folks ability to acquire moonshine and make money from it was not very popular around town.  They packed up and moved to Orlando, Florida, a place my Grandfather had visited occasionally for fishing trips.  My Dad was almost 6 at the time.

My Dad and his family in front of their new home in Orlando

My grandparents were able to establish a pretty middle class existence for their family in Orlando.  My Grandfather received his pension from the railroad and Social Security so he became a stay at home Dad way before it fashionable.  My Grandmother was a licensed practical nurse and took a job in a local nursing home.  My Grandfather insisted on education and hard work.   My Dad and his brother began working at a local grocery store when they were 14 years old.  This job launched both into very lucrative careers in adulthood.  My Grandmother did not forget the Pentecostal upbringing of her youth.  Other than work, school, and baseball, their family life centered around church attendance at the local Church of God.  No snakes handled in Orlando.  This place was more progressive than that.

My Grandfather died when my Dad was 20 years old.  He was in his 80's by now and had lung cancer, likely a result of time spent in coal mines when he was very young. My Grandmother was a young widow, barely in her 50's and decided to remake her life.  She and my Aunt opened their own day care center, a beautiful facility that grew to be one of the most desirable place to leave your children while Mom went to work..  Every month, my Grandmother dutifully sent money back to relatives still in Harlan, particularly her sister who had tried to move to Florida with her, but quickly moved back to Harlan.  She missed the place too much.

My Dad would take my Grandmother and I up to Harlan every year.  This place was a different world from the life I knew in Florida.  By this point, my Father was making good money as a top salesman for a major food company.  I went to private school, lived on a lake, had new clothes, braces, air conditioning and indoor plumbing.  My Grandmother had built her first "very own" house with the proceeds of her booming Day Care center. She had one of the first whirlpool sunken bath tubs in her neighborhood. I looked forward to spending the night with her to take advantage of this amazing invention.  The house had plush white carpet throughout, a far cry from the wood floors and coal stove in the childhood of her youth.  When we returned to Harlan, my Dad would bring a motor home so we would have a place to use the restroom.  The outhouse just wasn't for me. Pre-Motor Home, I developed a bladder infection during a visit because I refused to use the outhouse or a "slop jar".  After that, my Mom insisted they bring a bathroom along. We would generally go in July, a sweltering month in Harlan.  There was no air conditioning and my Great Aunt (my Grandmother's sister) still cooked on a coal stove.  I remember telling my Dad one day at lunch to not lean back against the tile wall or you would stick to it.  My Grandmother tried to give her sister money to install an indoor bathroom, but she would hear none of it.  If we were having chicken for dinner, you could be sure a few of that morning's pets would be missing.  We shucked peas and corn on the front porch for Dinner.  Water Pressure depended on how many other people in the holler were using it at the time. 

My family cemetery is still there.  My Great Grandmother was buried there, the last of my family to do so.  My Grandmother buried my Grandfather here in Orlando, and in 1998, she was buried next to him.  To me, she is the greatest woman who ever lived.  Imagine a girl who left this "white ghetto" with 3 children, and in one generation reared children who ascended to a very upper middle class existence. 

The difficult part of this story is it never would have happened if my Grandfather hadn't insisted on leaving Harlan for Florida.  They would have never found the upward mobility they desired had they remained in Harlan.  They are the people Kevin Williamson describes in his story.  The people who move away in search of a better life.

We still  have many relatives in Harlan.  Most of my male relatives are on SSI.  A couple work as truck drivers or at the bowling alley.  Our family still owns land there so they are lucky enough to have established homes in which to live. Now that my Grandmother is deceased, my Dad only visits every 5 years or so.  Generally, his brother or his sister go along. They visit the family cemetery and pay their respects to those buried there.  It's a world so foreign to them.  It depresses them now.  A land so abundant in mountains, trees, creeks, nature, but desperately bereft of hope.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Circus Is Coming to O-Town!!

My kids are total holiday nuts, so it's always a bit of a bummer when the Christmas and New Year celebrations come to an end.  It's fun to look forward to Valentine's Day, but doesn't contain all the family, celebration, and general hoop la of Christmas.  For about 10 years now, the event that lifts their spirits in the circus coming to town.  We started taking my now 13 year old when he was about 3 and it has become a family tradition at this point.  Here is my son at the circus four years ago. It's amazing how he has blossomed from a little boy to a really cool young man.

It seems the circus just gets better and better every year, and we are thrilled to hear about this year's themes and planned entertainment.  This year, the theme of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey present a brand new show titled, LEGENDS!!  The audience will experience unimaginable family fun, as amazing performers from around the globe perform awe-inspiring feats of daring, spectacles of strength and thrills of wonder to summon the mythical and mysterious creatures of the past: a Unicorn, a Pegasus and a Woolly Mammoth!  Doesn't that sound amazing!?!?!

LEGENDS will be in Orlando from January 9th- January 12th and there are many show times to choose from.  I totally recommend taking your family and I have a fun little coupon code to save some dough!  Go to this link and use the coupon code MOM14 for a $4.00 discount!  WOOT!  Leave me a comment or shoot me a message on Twitter if you go.  Would love to share pics!!

Smooches and Shakes,