Sunday, August 28, 2011

Shocking: Even kindergarten isn't safe from threatening our children's innocence

If you know me, you know that I was and am 100% open to the idea of homeschool.  I think it is great.  I am in awe of the women who undertake this amazing task.  I am not ready.  It may be in my future one day but right now I do not feel called to it.
I love my eldest daughter.  She is awesome.  She is creative.  She is unique.  She is STRONG-WILLED and I am exhausted.  We moved to place her in what we considered a better district than Waco ISD and she began her first week this last Monday (August 22, 2011).
Things went very well.  She got stars every day on her discipline chart except for the very first day--the teacher said she was having trouble following directions.  Stereotypical Reese.  She didn't cry when we left her the first day.  She liked it.  She had fun.  And then we heard about it...
Sitting at the dinner table Friday evening, enjoying our meal as a family Reese dropped a bombshell.  She informed her dad and I that at nap time that day a little boy in her class asked her to take her pants off and show him her private parts-and lay under his blanket with him!!!  This alone is gut-wrenching...but here is the more worrisome aspect of what took place.  The young boy attempted to manipulate Reese.  He told her that if she didn't do it, he would pinch her and that if she did he would tell her mom that she was good today.
As a child abuse survivor HUGE RED SIRENS began to sound off in my mind!!!!
After we clarified with Reese what took place she informed us that she immediately told the teacher what was said and the boy was sent out of the classroom for time-out.  He was made to apologise to Reese. is my issue with this.
1.  We heard about it from Reese and not her teacher.  In my opinion this is a BIG DEAL and something that warrants a parent consult.
2. The boy attempted to manipulate Reese.  There is simple childhood curiosity and then there is manipulation.  A 5 yr old's mind does not honestly come to manipulation in a sexual manner without some sort of external trigger.  In my opinion this boy has either been abused or has seen someone abused.  The statement that he would 'tell her mom she was good today' is especially concerning.  It sounds eerily like what a perpetrator would say to a child.
I plan to be at the school in the morning when the doors open.  We have an email in to her teacher but would like a face-to-face explanation as to what the teacher knows about what took place.  We would also like to know why we were not immediately contacted.  Maybe the teacher didn't get all the details from Reese like we did--and if that is the case, fine.  If not....well then the teacher will know that we don't take things like this lightly.
Be in prayer for our nerves and temperaments.  We do not wish to be the big bear of a parent that immediately attacks the teacher--but we would like to be firm in our communication.
I am so very proud of Reese.  Her boldness and courage nearly brought me to tears.  If I had had an ounce of her bravery as a child, then I could have avoided years of sexual molestation.  But with that said, if I had to endure what I went through so that she doesn't then so be it.
Empower your children.  Let it be OK to be bold.  Embrace that strong-will--you never know when it may come in handy!

Weight Watchers Weekly accomplishment

YAY!  We finally did it--we have been having a very hard time following through with the plan for an entire week.  It always seems that something comes up or we have an unbearable craving--but this week we did it.
I lost 3.2 lbs and Jason lost 1.6.  We are so excite to be back on track.
I attribute my loss to a very busy week of back to school and preschool teaching.  I moved ALOT this week.  And thanks to my cortizone shot in m y neck a few weeks back, I was able to go pain free! 
We are ready to tackle another week of Weight Watchers and we are encouraged and hopeful for even better losses!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

God's Plan--even covers car accidents

I had been complaining all day!  I had to pick Reese up from school today at 3:15. The line at the elementary gets insanely crazy long if you wait til pick-up time.  So I usually get there at about 2:50 each day.  I had been complaining all day, because I had Jason's big ole '92 maroon chevy silverado with no AC.  He took the explorer into town for work because out of the two vehicles it gets the better gas mileage.  I sooooo did not want to wait 25 minutes in that loooooong line with no AC and no breeze---but I had to do what I had to do.
Little did I realize that God had a plan for me today--and His plan involved that oven of a truck.
We moved Reese's booster seat to the front of the truck for drop off and pick-up from school.  The truck is a 2-door and it just seemed too much of a hassle to try to get her into and out of the back each day.
Today at pick up I hastily buckled her in and we headed on our way home.  I was excited--I had made them a super-cute after school snack out of bananas, peanut butter, jelly, fruit snacks and jelly.  I had it all set out on the table just waiting for her to come home.
We made it all the way to Tree Lake.  I am a cautious driver and very aware that China Spring Highway at school-time is CRAZZZZZZZZY!!!  I started breaking at the Wyers house (about 100 yards) before my turn onto Tree Lake, to ensure that the driver behind me would be aware that I was slowing and turning.  I signaled for my left turn and had to wait---there was an on-coming vehicle and I could not yet make my turn.  My truck came to a stop. 
The car behind me passed on the right hand shoulder and then I heard it.  SSSSSSSSSSSCCCCCCCCCCCCRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!
It was bone-chilling.
The car now behind me was hitting their brakes hard, and they seemed to have locked up.  I knew it was coming.  I knew what was going to happen.  I braced.  I took my foot off of my brake and WHAM!
We were rear-ended by a silver honda accord that managed to slow to about 45 mph before impact.  The truck lunged.  I could see my Reese whip forward and then there was silence.
You know the kind.  That eerie sound of nothing right after something traumatic happens that your brain just can't quite wrap itself around. 
I knew I needed to get out of the road.  I pulled the truck onto the shoulder and off onto a drive.  My girls were both crying and oh so scared.  I was scared too.  I managed to get my wits about me and dial 911.  As I waited for a connect I saw the crumpled mess of a car that rear-ended me pull off to the right onto Tree Lake.  I was surprised it was even moving.  It was a hot mess.  Literally. 
As I got off the phone with 911 and began calling Jason I noticed movement in the other car.  It was filling up with smoke!!!  Several passers by stopped to assist the other car.  They managed to get the 2 people out--a grandmother and grandson--and cut the ignition.
I got Jason on the  line and told him we were OK but that we had been in an accident.  Reese was complaining about her neck at this point.  I asked him to come.  He was stranded.  He was at another building without his vehicle--he had ridden with a co-worker.  He said he couldn't come--I could tell he was distressed.
I called Carol next.  I knew I was shook up and needed some support--if Jason couldn't come, I knew Carol would.
In the meantime I get the girls unbuckled and try to calm them down.  Fire and rescue arrive and check us out.  We are OK.  Reese says her neck doesn't hurt anymore. 
The policewoman arrives and takes our account of what happened, gets insurance info and then goes to talk to the others involved.  Jason, Robert and Carol all arrive within seconds of each other--too funny!
I think the grandson from the other vehicle ended up going to the hospital--he was pretty shook up.  Their car was bad!
This is where God protected us today.  If we had been in my air conditioned ford explorer yes I would have been more comfortable waiting to pick up Reese but there also would have been MUCH more damage to our vehicle and possibly us. 
The Silverado is a HAAS of a truck.  It had a REESE towing package.  That is what absorbed most of the impact. The truck doesn't look so bad from a distance but upon further inspection it is eerie.  That heavy gauge metal is crumpled like an aluminum can.  So scary to think of the force required to cause that damage.
But THANK GOD for big old pickup trucks!!!!

He was watching out for us today--there is INDEED a PLAN!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Couponing Chaos Trifecta--HEB 8/23/2011

OH. MY. GOODNESS.  Ok, so this trip was made under some unusual conditions that I hope to never-again repeat.   Reese's 2nd day of school was today.  Raeleigh and I had out first day of Parent's Day Out at Journey and we were ALL e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d!!
So that is strike one in the coupoing chaos trifecta.
We made the trip together as a family--not our usual Jason-only trip. 
Strike two in the trifecta...
And three?  What is three you ask?  We went to HEB to coupon and deal shop on the last day of the ad cycle.  Meaning, all the deals listed in the current ad end are changing at closing tonight.  Never, ever, ever, never, ever do this!  At least not if you plan to budget and coupon shop. 
I will tell you why:
HEB was completely out of many of their combo locos and meal deals.  When I say out--I mean OUT.  In some instances there were no yellow in-store coupons remaining, if you could locate the items, and in other cases the items were completely sold out. 
Empty shelves--no product. 
I am not sure why this is.  It could have been that the shelves were not restocked so that workers could rezone the store for the new ad coming out tomorrow.  It could be that all of Waco is back to school this week and parents are buying these items for back-to-school lunches and snacks. Or it could be that the rest of Waco has some secret knowledge about some pending apocalypse that I am not privet to....Regardless of the reason, my trip was crippled by these issues.
I could not find cantaloupe
The store was out of almost ALL their waffles and the combo loco where you buy the HCF 24 count waffles and get the frozen fruit cups was completely MIA--no product and no coupon--ANYWHERE.
There was a combo loco for BBQ sauce and shells and cheese with the purchase of tyson chicken nuggets--yet again no coupon and the BBQ sauce and shells and cheese were MIA.  They had the combo loco partially set up on an end cap.  When I say partially set up I mean the chicken nuggets were there and that was it.
There were no nature valley granola bar thins in stock.
There were no Bob Evans side dishes in stock.
The combo loco for buy cheerios get HEB brand cereal free was out--they were offering rain checks.
The sargento cheeses were not stocked.
I could not locate HEB ready to bake sugar cookies (I had to purchase choc chip instead)
There was no in-store coupon for the advertised deal on free family sized doritos with purchase of gatorade.
and the list goes on.
I was livid and in coupon rage.  My trip was completely ruined by the stores inability to follow thru with their offered deals until the sale end date.
I understand that they have to re-set the store for the new ad coming out tomorrow--but why should I be penalized for that?  I will never shop again on an ad end date.
I did have a great cashier who did not give me trouble about manually entering coupons that the system did not immediately recognize.  And yes, as I have said before some of the coupons that did not scan immediately were HEB's own in-store offers.  CRAZZZZZZZZZZY!!!!
Any way...I still managed to save a total of $56.82 even with all the mix ups on deals. 
We bought a total of 131 items.
On brand savings: $7.80
On sale savings: .50
Free/coupon savings: $48.59
total spent $276.83

Thursday, August 18, 2011

8-18-2011 First Epidural steroid shot

So it is done.  At 930 this morning I received my first epidural steroid shot.  It wasn't all that painful at the time, but I must say that it is aching now and hurts to press my chin to my chest or to look down.
I was called back to the procedure room and asked to lay face down on an xray table with my chin tucked to my chest and my palms under my hips as close to my toes as I could get them.  This position pulled the shoulders down and arched the back of my neck to increase the cartilage space between vertebrae--to get the needle in easier. 
I was prepped with cleaners, draped and injected with a topical pain killer.  As the doctor progressed the epidural needle more pain killer was added as needed.  I could feel pressure and occasionally I could feel and hear the needle pass through the different layers of tissue.
The doctor chose to us 80mg instead of 40 on me.  He didn't really explain why but I will happily accept more meds if it means relief.
Before I knew it he said that the needle was out and that I was all finished.
I was told to expect releif in 2-3 days and that the meds can last up to 2 months.
And then the funniest thing happened.  If you know me closely enough I am sure that I have shared "the hump" with you.  It isnt my favorite feature but at its sight friends usually have a better understanding of my constant pain level---it is nasty.
Well the doctor left the room and the nurses helped me sit up on the xray table.  The one behind me laid her hand on my neck and said, Oh my goodness you are swollen!  I could tell by her tone and haste that she was truly very concerned.  I laughed and told her yes, it is ALWAYS swollen.  She sighed a huge sigh of relief and said I was afraid you were having a reaction.  I reasssured her that I wasnt and informed her that I lovingly call it my hump. 
When people see it they are very often with out words--as she was.
The hump remains...
Jason's work insurance starts covering a new deep tissue repair treatment called Airrosti in October.  I plan on trying it--there is only a $10 copay for us and the program makes some pretty remarkable claims.  Hopefully my injection will last til then and then I can just use Arirrosti after that.
I will let everyone know in the next few days if this shot has helped.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Spinal column cortizone shot

So the time has come.  I just had my second MRI in 5 years and the issue in my neck is only worsening.  My C3-C5 vertebrae are twisted, the 'discs' are bulging and pressing on my spinal column and there is a constant dull ache. I am sure that the psoriatic arthritis isn't making things any better. I lovingly call it "my hump".
My Hump...
My Hump...
My lovely lady hump...

yeah, it isn't so lovely.  I look like a buffalo when I wear my hair up.
I get tingling sensations in my hands and feet and sometimes even 'dead' spots down the side of my leg.
This Thursday, August 18th, I will be having my first cortisone injection in my neck.
I am a bit nervous--I have heard good and bad things from people about the shot.  I am s very tired f the pain and ready for some relief that I am just about willing to try anything.  So here goes....
I will let everyone know how it goes. A great way to make some mad money

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weight Watchers 2 week hiatus

Embarrassingly enough Jason and I have failed to make progress for these last 2 weeks.  I have attempted to keep up with my points but I have been very 'organic' in my approach.  I managed to maintain, so that is good, but no loss for me.  Jason on the other hand was really defeated and unmotivated these last 2 weeks and has gained.
We are back on the weight watchers bandwagon.  We actually eve ran tonight--granted it was a very short run and the last leg the girls (5 and 3 yrs old mind you) managed to run circles around us.  But hey, exercise is exercise.
I love to run.  I have done it in the past and it feels great--especially that endorphin runners high, but MAN!!--I have NEVER run with this much weight on me.  It was hard work.  I felt like I was running in quick sand!!!

Baby steps towards active lifestyle.  I am tired of being tired.

Keep the encouragements coming!  Jason and I are ready to be new!!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Family Dollar coupon trip 8/9/2011

So after my Dollar general excursion I made one more quick stop for the day.  I think Jason may just strangle me.  He appreciates the coupon savings but has to remind me occasionally that no matter how good the deal, we only have X amount of money to spend.  I sometimes get so excited about a deal that I forget the importance of the budget.

The deals I found there were as follows:Pringles on sale for $1.50 a can.  I had coupons for $1 off 4 and $1 off 2.  After my coupons and the sale i got 9 cans of pringles for $8.  That is less than a dollar a can.  Now, I definitely do not need 9 cans of Pringles chips so I chose a few to donate to our Church's meal ministry.
(The Church at Tree Lake hosts a Wednesday night meal for our deaf children's program and the community)

I found an in-store Family Dollar coupon for 50 cents off Always maxi plus I had a Manufacturer coupon.  The item was $3.15 before savings and I aid $2.50 total.
Colgate was on for $1 and I had 2 50 cent off coupons.  I purchased 2 tubes for 50 cents each.

Family Dollar had NYC brand lipcolor for $2 and I had a $1 off coupon so I paid $1.

Small trip.  I spent a total of $13.49 plus I got a catalina coupon for $5 off my next visit from 8/12-8/14.  I will be returning then!

Happy couponing!

Dollar General coupon trip 8/9/2011

I was going stir-crazy at home today.  I knew there were some good deals at Dollar General and Family dollar and I just wanted a change of scenery.  I loaded up my girls and we headed out.

My first stop today was Dollar General.  I had seen their ad and knew there were a few things that I would like to get.  Well, as I walked into the store I noticed something that I had not paid attention to before--a HUGE clearance table at the front door.  I pulled my buggy aside and began digging in.  I found some AMAZING deals:
2 sharpies for $1.75
vegetable seeds for 10 cents
HUGE bottle of herbal essence shampoo on clearance for $2.15 with $1 off coupon (final price $1.15)
Cover Girl shadow on clearance for $2.25 with $1 off coupon (final price $1.25)
Cover Girl powder on clearance for $3 ($6 regularly) with $1 off coupon (final price $2)
Cover Girl foundation on clearance for $1 with $1 off coupon (final price FREE)
and finally
Glade plug in on clearance for $3 with $1 off coupon (final price $2)
With these type of savings I am for sure paying attention to the clearance table from now on!!!
I also found some good stacking and matchup deals:
Glade air effects on sale for $2.50 with 55 cent off coupon (final $1.95)
Raid on sale for $3.50 with $1 off coupon ( I didn't get this deal just because I have plenty of Raid right now--but it is still a good find)
Cheerios products on sale for $3 with $1 off 2 coupon (final $5 for 2--not the best deal but still better than retail)
Hormel Kids completes for $1.75 with 55 cent off coupon (final $1.20)  My kids wont eat these but my husband will--great for lunch
I also had 20 cents off Ragu
This may be my favorite find: Fruit Loops on sale for $2 a box.  In Store DG coupon for $3 off 3 and manufacturer coupon for $1 off of 3.  So I bought 3 boxes for $6 then saved $4 in coupons (final price $2 or 66 cents a box!!!!)
I found a good stacking opportunity for Dove shampoo and conditioner.  It was on sale for $3.50.  I had a $1 off coupon plus a buy one get on free coupon.  So I paid $2.50 for 2 items or $1.25 each)
And last but not least I found ban deodorant on sale for $2 and I had a $1 off coupon.  (Final price $1 each)
I saved $20 in coupons alone.  I do not know the total savings since the DG receipt is not the easiest in the world to translate.  With the clearance and sale items I estimate a total savings of around $45.  Not too shabby!

I spent about $60 so it was close to 50% savings.  Jason is ready to kill me.  Couponing is addictive and although I am saving the family great amounts of money I think I will have to slow down on personal item and cereal purchases--I want a bit put back but not a huge stockpile.  If I want to save my marriage (j/k), I guess I better step away from the coupon book for a bit! 

I love you Jason :0)!
Happy couponing!

Monday, August 8, 2011

How we got where we are: The 2010 Real Estate Experience in detail

This has been a long time coming. Ever since our real estate FIASCO I have said that I would write about it so that everyone could understand the drama and chaos we endured. I can honestly say that just now, 8 months after the dust has settled, I finally feel ready to mentally revisit the wounds. Just a friendly warning---take a seat, settle in…this is a bit of a long read.

I am going to recount events to the best of my ability. Some of it is still very much a blur. The human mind has a great self-preservation technique—it blocks out trauma. And this was very much traumatic. I will not use names other than those of which I speak fondly of. I do not wish to slander anyone or hurt anyone’s business reputation. I will, however, say, that if you read this and would like to know who NOT to use or associate with in real estate dealings I will inform you of that privately. Just not here.
It all began the weekend before Mothers Day 2010. My good friend Lara Jane Coffey just moved from Waco to Killeen and got her real estate license. We had listed our home 6-8 months before with little luck. We were so disenchanted with out listing agent that we cancelled our contract and took our home off the market. This agent, for whom we will call ‘Agent CS’, was the listing agent for the house we had a contingent offer on, and our selling agent. She had the potential of making double commission on the home we wished to buy, and then also on our home we wished to sell. She was in a great position to make a lot of money but she was VERY unmotivated, unreachable and ditzy.

She once drove out to the middle of nowhere to let us into a house only to realize once she got there that she didn’t have her device to open the lock box--just not a dependable agent. Our home was listed with her for 6-8 months with only THREE showings!!!! This just did not seem right to me. Lara Jane knew about this experience. She was now an agent with ERA and wished to do a referral for us. She knew we still wanted to eventually sell, and I figured why not help out a friend.

I went into the referral experience with no immediate compulsion to list. The markets were down. It was clearly a buyers market, and houses just weren’t fetching top-dollar. I wished to meet with an agent just to see what they thought our house would sell for and when they thought the best time to list would be.
Well, low and behold, we were contacted by none other than PATRICA MEADOWS!!! If that name doesn’t ring a bell for you, it should. She is the QUEEN of real estate here in Waco. Patrica founded ERA Graceland years ago. She is no-longer owner, she sold it, but she is still a top agent. Nationally she ranks among the highest selling ERA agents across the country.

This woman is AMAZING! After we removed our home from the market the first time around, Patricia Meadows contacted us by mail stating that she noticed our home was removed and unsold. She said she understood that those things usually happen for a reason and that she would like to help us. Well I was sooooo thrilled to have her on my team this time around!!!!

Via our first phone contact I told her a bit about our situation. We had been in our home for 7 years. We owed a bit over $50000 on it plus a $8000 home equity loan. The home had been COMPLETELY remodeled. New kitchen, new bath, new doors, new hinges, newly converted garage, large laundry room, indoor storage room, large closets, new metal roof, new plumbing, recessed lighting, new AC and heat, tile, hardwoods, 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath, brick veneer, large back yard, garbage disposal, dishwasher, surround sound, playground, shed, rose garden, carport, double drive etc, etc, etc. She said, “Well let me come over, take a look and I can give you my opinions”. This was HUGE.

Our first time around Agent CS basically just asked, “What do you want to sell it for?” listed it and forgot about it. Patricia was offering to look up comps, look at the house, consider the upgrades and actually counsel us. I was so very excited. She was totally professional, well organized and informative.

She gave us a realistic listing price of $89,900. We bought the home seven years before as a fixer upper for $67,000 and we felt that $89,900 was fair. We wouldn’t get all of our investment money back out of it but we were motivated to move.

We bought in Robinson years earlier as childless newlyweds. Only after we purchased the home did we realize that although the street is in Robinson, and the utilities are in Robinson, the school district was WACO!!!! Not only was the school district Waco but the city had recently purchased land at the end of our street that was once a sleepy little corn field and they had begun construction of the 4A University High School campus.

We had NOT signed up for THAT! We wanted a quiet neighborhood--something more rural—something not next to a huge high school.

So after talking to her, we decided to list right away. My oldest was turning five 10 months later and we needed to get her in a good school district or homeschooling was going to be in my near future.

We signed the contract, and just a few days later Patricia’s partner, Melissa Bogusch, stopped by to take pictures of the house. This is a great opportunity to highlight the GI-NORMOUS differences between Patricia/Melissa and Agent CS.

Robinson House

Agent CS took a few fleeting pics of the house for the MLS listing. The main image she used to market the house was of the playground in the back yard and she didn’t even take a pic of the front of the house. I had to take one myself, email it to her and request that she use it on MLS to market our home. Well, Melissa took 10-12 pics. All of them were of high quality. She took street shots, inside shots, pics of my rose garden and of course the playground as well. It was like night and day. I immediately knew, after looking at the MLS listing, that this time around was going to be better.

Jason was so very excited that he insisted on going the very next weekend and looking at available houses. I was more reserved. Our first time around we looked before we sold, and got our hearts broken. We fell in love with a house before we were in a position to truly buy. I didn’t want to go this time—but he did. So we went. We found house heaven—5 acres, secluded, fenced in, 3 sheds, a workshop, man-room, 3 bd 2 bath, manufactured home, with metal roof, huge concrete slab porches, fruit trees…our dream.
But we couldn’t make an offer. I got so angry at Jason and told him that this was exactly why I didn’t want to look!!! We could not act.

Patricia and Melissa brought us multiple showings, hosted an Open House, and mailed out fliers to the surrounding neighborhoods showcasing our home for sale. They even posted weekly to Craigslist about our home. Just about 2 months in, after several other showings, we got a call from he whom we shall name ‘Agent Trustfund’.
Now if you know anything about MLS listings and house showings, owners can place a time frame that they would like notification before a showing. We had requested an hour. I am a stay-at-home mom with 2 small children and 2 dogs. An hour is a very short amount of time to stage the home in the manner than I consider acceptable. Not to mention that I had just fallen the week before and dislocated my left kneecap for the 3rd time in my life. I was in a brace from hip to ankle in a house that desperately needed some TLC.
Well, it seems that Agent Trustfund didn’t think that the time stipulation applied to him, and he wanted to show my home to a client in FIFTEEN minutes! Yes, I said FIFTEEN!!! So here I go frantically wobbling around the house hiding this, and tossing that--placing strange things in even stranger places. I called Jason and he RAN home to help me, knowing that I was moving at a snail’s pace in my hideous leg brace. Somehow we did it.
It wasn’t perfect but it looked nice. I loaded up my girls and headed out. After the showing, Agent Trustfund did not make the courtesy call to let us know he was done showing the house. I had to keep driving by, all creepy and lurky, trying to see when I and my two impatient preschoolers could return home. Finally the time came, and we returned to the chaos that is stay-at-home motherhood. I will say that Agent Trustfund had left a nice note and some pens etc. So my attitude towards him temporarily softened a bit. Notice I say temporarily.

Patricia and Melissa were great at following up with showings for feedback, and this time was no different. They promptly called Agent Trustfund to find out what his client thought about the house. He liked it!!!! But Agent Trustfund, who has only been in the business all of 2-3 years, was quick to inform the VETERAN, Patricia Meadows, that the home was priced too high.

Ok , soooooo this kid pulled comps and YEAH, our house was MUCH higher than the foreclosed comp down the road that sold for $70000 with beat in walls, ripped out electrical, a smaller backyard and trashed indoor AC unit. I mean, COMEON! Common sense, people!!!!! This really twirped me off.
While lurking around the neighborhood trying to wait til I could return home I saw Agent Trustfund’s vehicle--a BMW. His car cost more than what my home was listed for, give me a break. We rolled with the punches and just decided to move forward.

Or so we thought…
In the meantime, the home we saw weeks before on the 5 acres sold and was removed from MLS. We mourned.

A few weeks later the phone rang again. Guess who it was! Go, on—just guess! TRUSTFUND!!!! He wanted to show the house again, in 30 minutes. I was now out of my leg brace but I was still struggling with some lingering back issues from having to walk crooked for the past several weeks. I was still moving slow and in a lot of pain. We totally did not want to let this insensitive agent through our front door again---that is, until we realized that he was showing the house a second time to the same client. *SIGH*
We decided to let him back in but only after Jason called him back and informed him that there was no way we could clean the house, load the girls and get out of there in 30 minutes. He insisted the agent wait an hour. Trustfund Agent was not happy about this. He claimed that the client was a very busy man and this was the only opportunity for his girlfriend and mother to both view the house with him at the same time, but he would see what he could do.

Jason raced home, once again, to help me get things in order and we actually got out of there in 30 min. Jason called Agent Trustfund and informed him that the house was empty and ready to be shown. The agent said they were headed that way. I drove all the back streets of Robinson for 30-45 minutes and decided to creep back by the house to see if the coast was clear. As I pulled onto the street I saw it. THEY WERE JUST THEN PULLING IN TO BEGIN THE SHOWING!!!! They had not even viewed the house yet!!! My 2 girls were going stir crazy! My back was ceasing up and my temper was boiling. I did the only sensible thing that I could think of—we went to Sonic (momma needed a drink).

Another 30 minutes passed and I just couldn’t stand it any longer. We drove back to the street. They were still there. Granted they were done with the viewing and standing in the front yard, but they were still there and I could not return. We pulled into a business at the front of the street and waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, after an additional 30 minutes they got in their cars and drove away. We very hastily returned home. STILL no courtesy call to let us know they were done. If I had not sat there and waited I would have not known that they were finished.

I called Jason very frustrated about my 2 hour car episode and he was furious--after all that rushing around Agent Trustfund still just marched to the beat of his own drum. We considered calling his company and filing a formal complaint about his behavior and complete lack of respect….then we got it. An offer! Our hands were tied. We couldn’t complain about the agent who just may represent our buyer. So we sucked it up and moved forward.
Well, I called it an offer. I was more like an insult. The original offer was for $12,000 less than asking. That was laughable!!!! $77,000? Really? Bawhahhahah! NO! Obviously we countered. We offered $87,000 with some help with closing costs. I guess their first attempt was just to see what they could get away with, because they accepted our counter.
And then the clouds parted and there was sunshine! The house we loved with the 5 acres was back on the MLS listings. It seemed meant to be! We were ecstatic!!!
We met back out there with Melissa and filled out the paperwork for our offer. She contacted the selling agent to submit and we hit a wall—the seller had been burned once before on a deal that fell through, and she did not want to view our offer until the inspection on our home and option period were over and final. So we had to wait, and wait, and wait…..

Our buyer had a 10 day option period. The days came and went—day1, day2, day 3, day 4…and so on and so forth. Normally it would not have mattered. Not our problem. If they let it pass without inspecting the house---that would be their loss. But we had to wait for them to submit our offer. We were at their mercy. Finally on day 8 the inspector showed up. Get this…Agent Trustfund wasn’t even there to let him in!!! Jason just so happened to have stopped back home for lunch, he had to let the inspector in!
Regardless of all the waiting and frustration, the inspection could not have gone any better for us. The buyers of our home asked for nothing! That was wonderful! We were ready now to move forward with the dream home.
We met Melissa back out there once again to resign our offer since some dates etc had to be changed and to write our check for $150 in earnest money. She called the listing agent, who we will call ‘Agent X’, to let her know we were submitting our offer. Then we found out the terrifying news. The listing agent was showing the property that night to a family that would probably also be making an offer. Oh the anxiety.
They indeed did. Now this property had 2 offers on the table. The owner was out of town and requested for the two parties to resubmit with their best offers. She would look them over and make her decision when she returned home about a week later. OH MY GOODNESS! What heartache!
We put together what we thought was the most attractive offer that we could make and placed it in Melissa’s hands. The next day at work, Jason felt moved to write the seller a letter to accompany our offer. He felt like she needed to see the personal side of us and our offer. I am going to try to find that letter to include it here.
So the night she flew in we were deep in prayer and very anxious. I had be-friended the daughter of the seller on facebook. We had several friends in common and I am just funny like that. Jason tells me I am stalkerish. Anyhoo, an hour passed and I was on the computer messing around when a message came across. That same instant Jason’s phone rang. I am in the background screaming and crying, we got it, We Got It, WE GOT IT! And he gets the word from our agent, the seller chose our offer!!! What a high! We just knew then that it was ‘meant to be’. We were on track to close October 28th!!!!

I began packing up our home. We had 30 days, and there was a lot left to be done. We had not heard from our buyer’s agent for a week or two at this point, and just wanted to touch base for an update and to be sure all was still on track. It wasn’t.
They were originally supposed to close at the end of Oct, and things were getting tied up with the lender. Rules had changed and things were stricter. Our buyers were put through the ringer with 6 months worth of bank statements and other crazy requirements to get their loan in order. This would have all be fine with us, we aren’t unrealistic people….but here is the problem--Agent Trustfund had stopped returning calls and even answering his phone.

Our agents tried, Jason tried and nothing. It even got to the point on more than one occasions that his voicemail inbox was too full to even accept new messages. He wasn’t return anyone’s calls. This would happen for a week and then he would answer intermittently here and there. Then finally he quit responding to Patricia and Melissa at all. I was at my wits end. My house was full of boxes, I had no pot nor pans nor dishes. We were only eating foods that we bought as fast food, or that we could cook in the microwave--and I was going NUTS!

I just wanted some communication! I posted on his wall on facebook that my agent was trying to contact him and that I was very angry about his lack of communication and that I wished he would answer his phone or return calls, and then I did it--I called him.
I knew his type. He would answer immediately for me. My number was an unrecognized number. Because it could possibly be a new client, he would put his best foot forward in the initial meeting just to gain business. I was right. He answered on the third ring. Mind you, Patirica had tried him all morning to no avail.
I introduced myself, stated the fact that my agent had tried to reach him all morning, and in the days prior--and he stumbled. “Oh, ahh, hmmm, well, I was in a meeting all morning.” Yeah, ok. That was convient, huh. Well I informed him that he should call my agent and that was the end of it. Well not really.

I deleted my comment on his page just as soon as he answered my call and assured me that he would talk to Patricia, but not before someone saw it. I got a call back from my dear friend Agent Trustfund informing me that I was behaving very unprofessionally and that it was inappropriate for me to air my complaints online. I assured him that the comment was no longer public and that my issues were resolved as soon as he FINALLY answered a phone call. And that was that. My personal opinion: if you don’t do your job, then you open yourself up to public negative commentary on your performance….period.
On three different occasions we were told that our buyers would be closing the next day. In hindsight it was a blessing that the deal stalled, but in the moment it was very stressful and frustrating.

While all the issues with the sale of our home were taking place, we were diligently getting all the paperwork together for our FHA loan on the dream house. And was it A LOT of paperwork! If you aren’t familiar with FHA, is it an alternative government backed home loan program that allows lower down-payments and low interest rates. This was the route we wanted to go, and we were told that this property was FHA loan acceptable. We were only going to have to place $3500 down and we could afford that. Then the troubles began.

First off the FHA appraiser could not find the tags for the manufactured home. Just like cars and boats, manufactured homes have tags with something similar to a VIN #. The ones on this home were not visible. The home had been vinyl sided, and the numbers had been covered—no one knew where to find them. This was not the end of the world, but this was a hold-up. Paper work had to be submitted to request the numbers from the manufacturer—it was done and finally squared away. Then the appraiser required an engineer to come out to verify that the mobile home had a permanent foundation (this was an FHA requirement).
The engineer came and there was NO permanent foundation. This was a $3500 expense and we did not have the cash to cover it. Luckily, the seller agreed to pay to have the foundation fixed. It was in her best interest to do so since no-one could purchase the home via FHA without the repairs made. We would soon discover that it was all in vain.
The engineer came back out to verify that the repairs had been made, and signed off on the foundation.
We had a webpage from our lender that showed the status of our account and everything was checked off except for this one strange requirement. It asked for verification of first-time put down on original foundation. We really didn’t even understand what that meant. We asked the engineer if he could verify that for us while inspecting the foundation, and he informed us that that was not something that he could tell from simply looking under the house. He explained that first time put down on original foundation meant that the home came from the manufacturer to the lot and stayed there. It could never have been moved or that stipulation would be broken.
So our agent called the listing agent, Agent X, and asked if the trailer was first time put down on original foundation. Agent X was adamant that the house had never been moved, and had only resided at this location. Word of mouth was not sufficient for the lender so an investigation into the title took place. The home had indeed been moved. The people who currently owned it bought it second-hand as a repo and then moved it to its current location. What that meant was that this manufactured home was not first time put down on original foundation---our world was rocked!

Patricia called Agent X once again to try to verify that the information was indeed correct. This time Agent X called her client and discovered that it was indeed purchased as a repo and therefore was not even eligible for sale as a FHA property. Partricia called her out on claiming that is was before, and Agent X denied ever saying that the home had not been moved. As far as who recalls right and who recalls wrong here I cannot speak. All I can do is report is what I was told.
This is what I KNOW. Agent X listed the property on MLS as an FHA eligible property and therefore, in my opinion, whether by deceit or lack of knowledge misrepresented the property. This misrepresentation caused us much heartache.

What I have not yet divulged to you is this: We had already leased the storage buildings on –site from the seller, in anticipation of a very near closing date, and more than half of our belongings were already stored on the property. We had spent hours unpacking trailers, stacking boxes, walking fence-lines and even having a small picnic. We were emotionally, financially and physically invested in this deal. We had lost the $400 for the FHA appraisal and Jason had spent hour upon hour running around town getting paperwork together. We were vested, and not yet ready to back out.

We cried. We weren’t sure what our options were. And we felt defeated. We loved that property!!!
Patricia Meadows and Melissa Bogusch went into hyper-drive and scoured loan products to find us a solution. They were empathetic and caring. A traditional loan is an 80/20, meaning that you finance 80% and pay 20% down. First off, we didn’t have $20,000 cash and had no way of getting that kind of moolah. Secondly, even if we did have it, I was not about to put $20,000 down on a 15 year old mobile home. At first glance this seemed to be the only loan lenders were willing to make on a used manufactured home. They wanted to see us in this property as much as we wanted to be there. Melissa prevailed.

She found us a local lender willing to do an 80/15/5. This loan was one much popular before the recession and housing collapse, but much less common in these post real estate bubble times. This loan would mean that we finance 80%, the seller carries 15% of the debt and we place 5% down. We could swing $5000. It would be more than we planned, but we could make it work. So we began the process again. ALL. OVER. AGAIN.
We paid an additional $400 for yet ANOTHER appraisal. Filled out all the paper work, AGAIN, and waited.


In the meantime, our home was nearing closure. We knew we would not close on our dream home in time to make a fluid transition, so we contacted Agent Trustfund about a lease-back. A lease-back is when the seller leases the home back from the buyer for a short amount of time. We wanted like 12 days. Trustfund assured us that this would not be an issue. We got the paperwork together and all was a go…so we thought.
The sale on our home closed early December. We went in to sign the papers assured that Trustfund and his client would be signing later that same day. Do you think that happened? NO! Granted, the cleint’s girlfriend went into labor and had their baby but still, just be honest and say that. Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no…..I cannot stand deceit.

Trustfund and his client did manage to go in the next day to get the papers signed, but of course there was a surprise coming our way. Our buyer now wanted $500 for the 12 days we were leasing back our property. This had NEVER been discussed. It was understood that the leaseback was of no charge since Trustfund assured us that his client was in no hurry to move in. We had time.

Yet more deceit!

Of course we scoffed at the request,, and luckily the issue dissolved (After the fact some social networking posts led us to believe Trustfund had never, until closing, informed his client that we wished to do a lease-back—I guess, at least, we weren’t the only people he lied to).

All seemed well with our lender. We were expecting to close mid December and be at our new dream house for Christmas. This dream was never realized. 2 days before we were supposed to close on our dream property, and be out of our current home, we got a call that our lender no longer wished to do a 80/15/5 loan. They wished to do an 80/10/10. That means that we would finance 80%, the seller would carry 10% of the debt and we would pay 10% down. WE DID NOT HAVE $10,000 cash! Nowhere, no way, no how did we have it.

Melissa and Patricia were so very sweet and caring. They offered to waive their commission just so that we could afford the higher down payment. There was even an off-handed mention of a personal loan from Patricia to us in order for us to close the deal. It was not allowable per the loan company, and even if it had been we were not about to mortgage our lives just for a great house. It wasn’t worth it. But those two ladies were indeed sweeties! They were just as exhausted and shocked by the whole process as we were. I think we can actually claim that we gave Patricia Meadows some real estate firsts—and that is saying a lot.
We were so exhausted. I had existed in a home for weeks and weeks with no creature comforts--no pots, pans, no bowls, no clean sheets, very few articles of clothing, minimal toys and a WHOLE HEAPING LOT OF STRESS!
We were done. We had no energy left. There were no more tears to cry. Our bones ached with real estate woes. We walked.

Now here we were. 2 days left in our home, and no where to go, just a few weeks before Christmas 2010. Our only option seemed to be to put our stuff in storage and move in, temporarily, with Jason’s parents in their 1500 sq ft 3 bed 2 bath home. This did not sound palatable. We were distraught.
Jason’s dad had been sharing through the weeks of our real estate drama with his Church family about our ordeal. This Church had once been our family as well. Seven years earlier, as newlyweds, and even before we were married, this was our congregation. However, when we moved 15 miles away, to Robinson, we searched for a new place of worship.

We had floated from here to there, joined a church plant (that is where I met Lara Jane) and eventually had stopped being active in any congregation. Our faith had continued to grow as well as our relationships with the Lord, but we just hadn’t rededicated ourselves to a Church. We used the excuse of moving time and time again to talk ourselves out of getting involved. We longed for the comradery of brothers and sisters in Christ, and pledged to make that a priority once we moved.
Well God apparently had a plan, and His plan directly involved this congregation, The Church at Tree Lake. An elder in the Church had mentioned to Jason’s dad, Robert, on more than one occasion that the Church’s parsonage was empty and available to us if we would like to use it.

moving out of dream house

We felt akward about this since we had not been a part of this Church for many years. However, Jason grew up with this congregation. They knew him well. loved him and me and the girls by proxy.

 Jason still hesitated. I sat him down, looked him straight in the eyes and said—“Jason, would you rather cramp all of us together in your parents house or take advantage of a generous offer? Let someone help us.”
Jason made a call to Bill Garrett, an elder at The Church at Tree Lake and 20 minutes later we had a house, a great rent situation and a new Church family.

The moving in day Jason had to revisit the dream home to get all of our belongings that were stored out there and that was very hard for him.  Luckily we had a great future friend who without even knowing us volunteered to come help Jason move.  Thank you Chad and Kim Vana you are indeed the hands and feet of Christ.  Unfortunately, on move-in day I severely sprained my left ankle for the 3rd time.  I actually thought it was broken since I had to pysically straighten it back out.  we spend 5 hours at the ER that day and I got to finish moving in to our new home in yet another nasty brace.

God knew what He was doing all along! We have since rejoined Tree Lake. Jason is head of the Men’s ministry. We help watch the pastor’s house and church building. I am involved in the women’s ministry, have helped with the youth, and am currently organizing a garage sale fundraiser to buy ‘Proclaimers’ for Pastor Jeff Wyers to take to Honduras and Belize. We both rededicated our lived to Christ by baptism in the Brazos River. My 5-year-old daughter has shown an interest in getting saved and being baptized.


None of these things would have come about if God had not worn us slap out. He knows our character. He knew that if Jason and I were not at the absolute end of our ropes we simply would have found another property and purchased it instead.
We were not supposed to buy.

If we had, we would be bankrupt right now. Some financial things have come to pass that if we had been homeowners we just may have fallen into default. But not here. We pay rent, but it isn’t rigid. It may be more one month, less the next and sometimes not at all. We are performing some much needed upkeep on the parsonage. And God is blessing us ten-fold.

There was one last bit of drama after the move. We received a call from Melissa out of the blue because that poor Engineer that inspected and then re-inspected the foundation had yet to be paid. He was owed $750. We felt sorry for him, but we did not feel liable for the fees. And we held our ground.
It was an unfortunate situation but in our opinion Agent X was liable. She listed the home for sale on MLS as an FHA eligible property when it wasn’t. She costed us $400 for an unneeded FHA inspection, and then lied about claiming the property had never been moved. This was our stance.

We sent an email detailing our refusal to pay, and never heard another word about it. Not sure who ended up having to absorb the cost. It is an unfortunate situation…but we had already paid the piper and had nothing left to offer.

I am now exhausted all over again. That was really hard to write and probably also hard to read. What a long and trying ordeal. But even in the darkest hour, God can resurrect beauty—and this is just what He did for us.

Child Abuse Awareness INterview Series from Examiner

I have been working for a while on a series of interviews about child abuse awareness. Here are links to those interviews.  If you would like to participate in an interview please leave a comment on this blog with your contact information.

Judy Powers

Sierra Sullivan


Velvet Martin

Elizabeth Brawley

Julie Federico

Anita Wladichuk

Saturday, August 6, 2011

HEB coupon trip 8/6/2011--New Savings Record $110

So I beat my record save of $107!  My new personal best is $110 total.

I purchased items such as tooth whitening kit, razors, axe body wash, clearasil, qtips, advil PM, tylenol precise cream, flintstone vitamins, contact solution, $30 gas card (HEB is doing 11 cents off per gallon with in store card purchase), chicken breast halves, 16 yoplait yogurts, gogurt, goldfish, fiber one bars, school glue, pencils, crayons, fresh fruit, cereal, juice, weight watchers yogurt, smart ones, corn dogs, chips, dip soda, toaster streudels, bagelfuls, dole fruit crisps, totinos pizzas, pizza bites, herbal essence conditioner, magic erasers, carpet fresh and many, many more.

stocked up!

My total number of items purchased was 146.
Some of my favorite deals were:

Free herbal essence product from mail in request
Free in store samples of Garnie (sp??) with $1 coupon included
Clearasil 255 off in addition to $1 off coupon
Whitening tooth strips for $10 after stacking $10 off and $5 off in store
free ziplock sandwich bags with purchase of gallon size bag plus a $1 off gallon bag
20 cent HEB brand school glue
$2 off venus disposable razors plus a BOGO coupon for buy the razor get shaving gel free

$1 off Axe body wash plus BOGO free
Overall it was a very good trip!

Teacher gift

We did spent ALOT this time ($322) but I got tons of 'stock' items.  Such as body washes, shampoos, conditioners, razors, sandwich bags etc plus items to make a cute "Meet The Teacher" gift for Reese's Kindergarten teacher!
The final breakdown:
Store Brand Savings: $12.03
On Sale savings: $10.41
Free/Coupon Savings: $88.07
for a grand total of: $110.46


In addition to the great shopping trip I also came across a great money saving product.  A few weeks back I attended a Laundry detergent making class and a lady there talked about putting tennis balls in your dryer to help aerate the clothes while drying to decrease drying time.  Every ones concern was the noise 2-3 tennis balls in the dryer would make--Here is a pic of the in-store solution I found.  What a great idea!

Items purchased this trip
Now I will warn everyone that I ran into to possible problems with checkout.  My cashier told me that they have had increasing amounts of coupon fraud.  Apparently there are people out there faking printed coupons from redplum and smartsource.  Not sure how they are going about that but the cashier told me that her supervisors have told them to no longer manually enter printed coupons that the system wont scan.  I have a real issue with this.  They system is and always has been wonky.  I do not fraud the stores-- and I always have coupons they system won't pick up on. My cashier still did it for me today.  I had such a large number of coupons that a manager had to come over and authorize the purchase before we could cash out.  She was gruff and stern and said to the clerk, very agitatedly, "you didn't manually enter any of these did you?".  The clerk had but said no.  If she would have been honest, I was ready for coupon war.  They policy is to accept printed coupons and mine are legit.  FYI:  Next time I go I am going with a printed coupon policy just in case I run into issues,  I hate it that a few bad apples ruin it for us honest couponers.  Just be warned and alert to the possible problem.

Happy saving and JOYOUS couponing!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Impromptu Dollar General coupon trip 7/4/2011

So the kids were CRAZY and I needed dishwasher detergent and a BREAK so I grabbed my coupon binder and headed to the local Dollar general in China Spring. I found some pretty good deals. Check em out!
Cocoa puffs on sale for $2 a box.  With 75 cent off coupon I paid $1.25 for the box!  WHOO HOO!
Hamburger helper on sale for $1 a box and I had a coupon for 80 cents off 4 boxes. I bought 4 and paid a final price of 80 cents for each box. Pretty good!
They also had their speedstick deodorant on sale for $2 both men's and women's (regular $2.25) plus a smaller speedstick at regular price for $1.75. I had 50 cent off coupons for all 3. I paid $1.50 for 2 and $1.25 for the other. Not the best deal in the world but still happy with it.
Another good find was that they have their clearasil produts on sale for $1 off the normal $4.50 plus there is a mfg coupon for $1 off. I paid $2.50 for some skin care! Liked that deal quite a bit.

Oh, and OF COURSE 25 cent colgate.

And last but not least, Dollar General has their Tresemme products on sale for $3--they are usually $3.50. Also there is a $1 off mfg coupon floating around out there. I had 2 mfg coupons. One for conditioner and one for styling product. As I was choosing my conditioning product a lady came up shopping for a styling item. I handed her my styling coupon since I had no plan to buy. She thanked me and then asked to look at my binder. She coupons as well and had not yet seen the almighty "COUPON BINDER". I showed her the bare bones basics and gave her my card to find this blog. She knew about the FAMOUS Krazy Coupon Lady!

I just LOVE inspiring others to coupon. It is just no-nonsense common sense. The desire to save is in ALL of us!

Happy couponing!!!