A Facebook Post from my Mother-In-Law

FIL’s health is declining rapidly and he is being sucked in by the terrible-ness of his ALS in distressing ways. ALS usually only affects muscular function, leaving the afflicted fully aware but unable to control body movement. Rarely though, it also can have an effect on brain function and will cause frontal lobe dementia. There are indications (nothing empirically proven) that ALS with a psychological dimension has a much faster progression. This is what FIL has. He is already on a feeding tube as he is unable to swallow. You can not understand his speech. He will be getting a breathing apparatus sometime within the next few weeks as well as a special type of vest that will help him clear the secretions in his lungs since he is no longer able to cough on his own. He shuffles around since he doesn’t seem able to really pick up his feet properly to walk anymore. And he has mood swings. He gets frustrated and angry easily (understandably) but he will also randomly giggle at inappropriate things. He doesn’t seem to grasp what is happening to him. We had to fight with him to get him to stop working. MIL had to hide his keys so he wouldn’t go driving off somewhere. She’s going through the process to be named his guardian.

Thanksgiving was bittersweet.

There were 12 of us total. My Mom, The Zen Master, Princess Punk, The Peach and me, plus The Zen Master’s sister (we’ll just refer to her as SIL), her three kids aged 4, 10 and 12 (I think?), MIL and FIL. Oh and The Boy (Princess Punk’s boyfriend) was there as well.

We made WAY too much food. A 22lb turkey, stuffing, gravy, spinach soup, maple pecan sweet potatoes, cornbread pudding, brussel sprouts, a veritable vat of macaroni and cheese and fresh-made rolls plus 4 pies for dessert (2 pumpkin an apple and a pecan). Princess Punk and My Mom made the turkey, Princess Punk made the apple pie and I did pretty much everything else. It was quite the spread.

And we all got to sit together at the table as a family. FIL sat with us even though he couldn’t eat, and he enjoyed the time with us, especially with all his grandkids together in one place. This  was likely to be his last Thanksgiving. MIL was angry. Not at anyone in particular, just “stages of grief” kind of anger at the unfairness of it all. It was a blessing to all be together. I did miss my own father a bit though.

Anyway. This was all to lead in to MIL’s Facebook post this afternoon

As my Beloved and I face our ultimate challenge, I share a prayer with family and friends given to the Life Force in whatever form your perception takes. I ask those who are willing to say the words when they think of us, or read them once aloud as you find them. As I say them, I think of those of you facing similar challenges. You are in my heart daily.MIL

Finances are finally getting under control. Princess Punk is in much better control of the D-Monster. My Mom is much more stable. The Peach is a pain in my ass but a joy nonetheless.

Yesterday The Zen Master’s father was diagnosed with ALS.

Boom.

And just like that…

I don’t even know what else to say.

I am a thrift shop QUEEN

Winter jacket for My Mom

Snow Pants for The Peach

Winter boots for me

Two long-sleeved shirts for The Peach

All items were desperately needed.

Total…. $9

Yes, as a matter of fact I do Rock.

Take THAT D-Monster!

A1C is down to 8.5!

A little ways to go from our goal of 7, but still…

Kiss my ass Diabetes.

Wait… What happened to October?

It’s already October 25th. Just a week ago we were celebrating Princess Punk’s birthday. Right? WTF happened to the last few weeks? Have things really been that busy? I’m behind at work, behind at home and getting frantic about all the things I have yet to do before the end of the month. Which is less than a week away.

I can’t share my work list, I will just say I have 8 tons of work to do and I can’t haul more than about 2 tons in the next week.

Here’s my home list (at least what I can remember at the moment)

  1. Laundry… The Zen Master decided (after more than a few bitchy comments from me about his lack of folding my work clothes) that he was no longer doing anyone’s laundry but his own. Since I’ve been so busy/distracted/batshit crazy, I didn’t really notice. Untill neither the midget or myself had a single clean article of clothing. I don’t have that many clothes, but it just so happened to coincide with the bringing out of the cold weather stuff so it took me a little longer to become aware of the fact that the dirty laundry was piling up into a massive mountain in the basement. Because my dear Zen Master was still removing the dirty clothes from our room, he was just bringing them downstairs where I couldn’t see them. Out of sight… Which brings me to…
  2. Clothes. The Peach has, within the span of exactly one month, outgrown all the clothes I just bought her to start preschool. So I haver to now (after everything is washed) go through all her clothes and pull out the 4T’s I just bought (and those she had from the summer) and put them in a box for goodwill. I also have to go through my own clothes and pull out all the warm weather clothes and put them up for the winter so I have room in my drawers for all the clean clothes I will soon have. I’m hoping to get rid of some of my stuff too, I’ve gone a little thrift shop crazy over the past few years and I’ve accumulated more second-hand clothes than I really need. So I’ll pick out the nicest stuff and get rid of the rest.
  3. Cleaning. Yuck. Here’s the thing. My family, all of us, including myself, are slobs. Here’s the other thing. I don’t mind mess so much. But when things get dirty? I lose my shit. If you don’t know the difference between messy and dirty, you clearly do not have children. When there are toys in weird places because The Peach decided to play in close proximity to her sister or clothes on the floor because I was too lazy to go downstairs and get the only empty laundry basket, I get slightly annoyed, but I generally just let it go. When there is unidentifiable sticky stuff on my night table or the layer of dog hair on my bedroom rug is so thick I can’t figure out what color it’s supposed to be? Then I get upset. And when I clean, I CLEAN. Thoroughly. Ceiling to floor. Literally. I organize and dust and vacuum the cobwebs out of the corners and move furniture and wash everything down with antibacterial cleaner. My Mom cleans that way too. But I’ve been too busy and tired and My Mom? Well, She’s 68 with bad knees and she shouldn’t have to clean up after everyone else anyway. So we’ve been making do with Princess Punk and The Zen Master’s version of clean. Which is not clean. They pick up the mess (most of it) but there’s no dusting. They vacuum, but only the open spaces. They do the dishes, but don’t wash down the counters. So the house needs a thorough “Mom Clean.” Which I started this weekend, but now I’m wiped out and I my back hurts and I only managed to wash about half the clothes and clean most of my room. But hey, My rug is a really pretty shade of chocolate brown.
  4. Miscellaneous stuff… I have to write to Terry. I haven’t written to him in over 6 months and I feel horrible about it. I have to clean out the fridge. It’s gross. I have to change a few light bulbs and call the repair guy to get a quote on fixing the fridge and find a contractor to get a quote on replacing the doors (so at least we know how much we have to save up) and get the patio table out of the pond where it apparently blew last night. I’m pretty sure it’s beyond repair now. I have to call the plumber and see why they haven’t withdrawn their customary $100 out this month I’ve been paying on our $800 plumbing bill from ages ago. I have to call my TMJ doctor and make an appointment because I had to cancel the last 2. I have to call my PCP and schedule an annual exam for myself and one for The Peach. Oh and I think Princess Punk too. And The Zen Master is having a vasectomy next month and I have to make sure I have that time off so I can drive him home and hold frozen peas to his nether regions. I have to go grocery shopping. Oh… And even though it’s not exactly a necessity, I have to get my nails done. It’s the only thing I do for myself and I’m going on 4 weeks without a fill (UV gel cover over my own nails) and they’re starting to threaten to break.

So that’s only 4 things right? Ugh. I’m going back to bed.

Nope. The Peach is “hungwy” because it’s noon already. I slept late this morning (all the way until 6:30) so I guess that’s why my day’s gone by so fast. Right?

I need more caffeine. And Ritalin. And maybe some vodka?

Finding “Baseline”

It’s done.

Over.

The monkey is gone. No more scratching, clawing and making our lives a constant uncertainty day after day after day after… You get the idea.

We closed. The old house is gone. In the capable hands of new owners who will love and care for and fit in the house, hopefully for many years to come.

Closing was $550 more than we were expecting.

So we’re that much farther behind. The scratch marks the monkey left behind are deep and raw and still quite tender. Christmas giving is going to be minimal this year. I’m estimating we will be recovered from the shortfall by January.

Just in time for taxes. We may bite the bullet and get an actual accountant this year, Between taxes on My Mom’s alimony, property tax on our house, rental income and expenses on the old house and the sale at a loss, this is going to be even more confusing than last year. BUT, an accountant will cost about $500 so I’m still going to try to do it myself. I don’t know if we can justify the expense when we’re already going to end up paying (probably a sizeable chunk) of taxes based on My Mom’s alimony. Yet again I voice my opinion that it is completely unfair that he gets a tax break on alimony and she has to pay taxes. The judges told her the settlement was inequitable in his favor in the first place, this just makes it that much worse. It’d be nice if he would pay some of the rest of the settlement off, her half of the house and all since she doesn’t have to pay taxes on that.

So anyway. Finances are still a giant clusterfuck and will continue to be for a while. We’ve passed the mess with the old house and survived and eventually, we will be better off.

There are lots of things that need to be done in our house that are just going to have to wait for now. We have to replace the front and side doors. The draft that comes in from the door on the side is enough to blow papers off of The Peach’s little drawing desk. And the front door isn’t much better. The pellet stove that we invested in last year is losing the battle to the drafts and so we are dumping money into both pellets and oil trying to combat the cold. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts this winter will be even colder and snowier than the last. Joy. It’s October 23. It snowed all last weekend. Just flurries and honestly not earlier than usual for our neck of the woods, but still a rude awakening that summer and autumn have flown by too fast and the only thing we have left to show for it are a few tail feathers consisting of an overgrown lawn and a pool full of fallen leaves.

Finances aside, I’m still reeling. I have this nagging anxiety that won’t go away. Like I’m waiting for something else to happen and the proverbial shit is going to hit the proverbial fan and we’ll be proverbially fucked. All the months of living in this constant state of stress and uncertainty have left me feeling shaky and unstable like I can’t get my feet on solid ground. I can’t concentrate. I can’t motivate myself. I am not functioning at my best right now. Which is totally annoying. I’m used to being sharp. On it. Capable. I’m none of those things right now. And it’s not a depression thing. I don’t think. Just this general film of unease that is clouding up my vision and clogging up my inner workings so my gears have to grind in order to move.

I don’t really remember normal. At least, normal for me. But I’d like to get there again. I’d like to find that sense of stability where things go wrong occasionally, but they’re not spirit-crushing catastrophes that leave me hopeless and slightly crazy. I’d like to get back to baseline. Back to a place where I can post in my blog and do my job and take care of my kids and do all those things that I’m normally capable of. Because the monkey is gone. And I want to be me again.

“Where the Eff Have I Been” Part II… The Money Pit

So… we’re selling attempting to sell our house. Not the one we’re living in. The one we were living in before. We’ve been unable to sell it for about 2 years.

We had a tenant for about a year and a half. Honestly, they were great. They always paid their rent on time and kept the place up pretty well. We were still in the red about $200 a month between our mortgage and escrow payment and the rental income. But manageable. The last 6 months they were there, we agreed they would go to a month-to-month lease so we could put the house back on the market. And lo and behold, we got an offer on the house… An offer of about $30,000 less than what we were asking.

We went back and forth for weeks and finally came to an agreement, $115,000 with $5000 from us back at signing. So basically $110,000. On a house I paid $143,000 for. On a house that I still owe $104,000 to the bank on. With the realtor’s fees, lawyer and various incidentals, we’d be out of pocket about $1,500. We decided it was worth it to, as my realtor put it, “get the monkey off our backs.” So we took the offer, signed a contract and hoped for a closing date towards the end of August. Which would work out really well because the tenants gave their 30-day notice 2 days before we got the offer we eventually accepted.

Then the fun really started.

The buyers are getting an FHA loan through Wells Fargo. FHA loans apparently require you to jump through about 500 hoops before they will give you money. As the sellers, we had to jump through a bunch of hoops ourselves.

The first hoop… not too bad. Just had to make sure the siding and skirting was all in place and the front porch didn’t have any peeling paint. No biggie.

The second hoop… Here’s where the trouble started. The septic. The bank required the septic be pumped and inspected. So the guy pumps the tank ($280) and informs us that the tank is “crumbling” and needs to be replaced. $2500. No. Wait. $3000, the tank is oddly shaped and requires extra labor for installation.

About 2 hours after I got the call informing me just how much the septic would be to replace, I get a text from the tenant (who was just getting the last of his things out of the house and cleaning, because he’s nice)…

The hot water heater is leaking and flooding the room

Great. The Zen Master rushes over there with his wetvac and cleans up the mess and waits for the (after-hours) plumber. Hot water heater is done. Needs to be replaced. $1700. Closing is now set for 9/8.

Septic needs to be pumped again before the tank is replaced. Only $260 this time. Closing is now set for 9/15.

Inspection. Not bad.

Appraisal.

Tie downs under the house are insufficient. Additional tie downs needed. $400.

Structural Engineer required to inspect the house and determine that the ramps and porch that are added on are not “compromising the structural integrity of the home.”

At this point I have received several collection calls from the mortgage company wondering why I haven’t paid September’s mortgage payment. Since the closing has now been pushed to 10/8, I bit the bullet and paid September. $1100, that we were planning on putting towards closing.

House itself is fine. Ramps and porch need retrofits to meet specifications. This time the buyer handles it.

Septic. Again. Requiring a scoping to make sure the pipes are ok. Everything is good, Septic company send the invoice with their report to the bank. Nope. Need a letter on company letterhead stating the septic is permitted for a 3 bedroom house and it is in good condition and will be sound given good maintenance. Closing is now 10/16.

Guess what? Septic is not permitted. Permit was never obtained because it was “Grandfathered in.”

So now I’m waiting on our realtor to argue with the bank and plead with the zoning office to try and sort this out. Closing is… I don’t even know if there will be a closing now.

We have no way to pay the mortgage on both houses without a tenant. At this point, if we cannot straighten this thing with the septic out, I will seriously consider letting the house go into foreclosure.

And the worst part? The buyers. They’re a 50+ couple who’ve never owned a home before with a handicapped son. The house is handicapped accessible so it’s truly the perfect home for them. They’ve painted inside and out, pressure washed and stained the deck, and did all the retrofits under the ramps and front porch. They’ve put as much into this as we have and they deserve this home. It infuriates me that the bank is making it so hard for them to buy their first home, all because it was the banks themselves who fucked up the whole housing situation in the first place.

So that’s caused a little bit of stress this summer. Another reason I haven’t posted I guess.

Anybody happen to have about $100,000 laying around and feel like getting this house off our hands?

Didn’t think so.

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