Monday, June 29, 2009


I didn't realize it's been over a week since I posted anything.
Nothing has happened, really. It's been so dang hot (100+ and about 80% humidity) that I do as little as possible. Not to mention the computer room is the hottest one in the house. Plus, last week Paul was working nights, and I've found it's impossible for me to stay awake when both he and Nathan are asleep.
Luckily, this week is supposed to be only in the mid-80s all week. We worked outside last night and it was GORGEOUS - even without a breeze. There was no humidity. Ahh....
I picked the last of the peas last night. It was the best crop we've had thus far (in four years), but still pretty pathetic for three rows (about 2 mop buckets from 3 pickings). They looked pretty good, but then we got a wind (80mph) and hail storm just when they were almost ready. Of course. Can we not have ONE year of gardening without a natural disaster???
Green beans are starting to come on. I picked a quart or so and we had them for supper last week - green beans, ham, and potatoes. Quite scrumptuous.
My tomatoes are putting on, but not ready yet. I have two I've been watching that were the first on the vine, thinking they'll start to turn orange any day now. But as of last night, they're just barely yellow. Hmm... Hope they all don't take so long!
I have one teeny tiny itsy bitsy cucumber on the vine. It's about time! That plant has been blooming for two weeks. But I know once it starts producing, it won't stop. I'm glad we'll have some in time for this weekend.
We harvested all the radishes, and I've been enjoying them on salads (with lettuce from the garden). My spinach produced one single plant in the whole planting (old seed, I'm guessing), so no fresh spinach salads (the epitome of summertime eating). I got four beets out of what I planted (1/4 a row or so). Which is fine, because I still have some canned from last year to use up. The carrots look decent, but are pretty sparse. I was hoping for a good crop to entice Nathan to eat vegetables. (My thought was if he sees them growing and us picking them, washing them, etc, he'd be interested.)
No dice on getting him to eat peas straight from the pod. (I'm not a fan, either, but will do anything to get him to eat something green!) Paul and I would show him how to open the pod, and pop a few in our mouths and make a big deal about it. He'd get curious and put one in his mouth, chew it a few times, then spit it out. When I picked the last handful last night while pulling the vines, he picked one up and opened it and said, "Mmm, mmm, MMMMM." (So cute!) I got all excited that he would actually try one - but he took them out and put them in MY mouth. Oh well. We'll keep trying.
He loves the sweet corn, though - at least playing hide and seek in it. When we're outside, half the time he wanders out to the garden just to walk up and down the rows of corn. I don't know why he likes it so much. Maybe he'll like eating it.
Speaking of sweet corn - it's about time to put the fence up. The corn is tasseling, and the watermelon are blooming. This year at least we had the ingenuity to plant them side-by-side to protect all in one fell swoop.
Well, I need to finish the kitchen (it's been over a week since it's been deep cleaned), and get the peas frozen. I think I'll have a tall glass of lemonade first for refreshing and a sugar-high-kick-in-the-butt.

Friday, June 19, 2009

More Reasons for Me to Hate Bank of America

So I did some research on PMI (private mortgage insurance). According to the Homeowners Protection Act, lenders are required by law to drop PMI at 78% loan-to-value (which means we only owe 78% of what the home is worth). Remember they told us we had to have 75%? (We're somewhere around 76% according to the value of our recent appraisal.)
So armed with this new knowledge, I called them again yesterday. The girl told me, yes it can be 80%, but you have to have an appraisal done. I told her we already had an appraisal done. But I was told it had to be through their "approved" appraisal company (Land Safe). Frustration, again.
After I got it together, I called again today, this time asking to talk to a supervisor. She was helpful and kind, but I was beyond frustrated now, plus pregnant emotions... So I cried. On the phone.
How embarassing.
I explained our situation, and asked why this appraisal wasn't good enough. She said she had questioned this herself when she ran into this situation recently with another customer, so she looked into it herself. She said that Fannie Mae, who owns/backs Bank of America, requires any of their loans to use Land Safe appraisers. Basically, they don't trust us (the customer) not to rig an appraisal. And we should trust them??

But does this not sound suspicious to you? They know how much we owe, how much we need our house to appraise for to get rid of this totally pointless fee. They're the ones who order the appraisal from their "approved" company......
If I knew using the "approved" company, that our house would appraise for the same amount, I'd do it in an instant. But if it doesn't, we're out $400 more, and we'd still be stuck paying $75 a month for the next 4,000 years or however long they keep changing the rules on us.
And if $75 a month doesn't sound like a huge deal to you, that I'm blowing this out of proportion, consider this: this fall we'll have lived here 4 years, and have paid almost $3500 in this "fee". That's $3500 we'll never get back, that doesn't benefit us in any way. It's solely to "protect" them if we quit making payments. You know, because they can't seize your house or anything like that if you quit paying on it. (sarcasm) And since they keep changing the rules on us, we don't know when we'll get to quit paying it.
And I've heard from my sister that using them as your bank, they suck as well.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I finally got around to looking in to refinancing the house. I've been meaning to since February, and had been hearing that the markets were getting better and better (or worse and worse - but better if you are refinancing). So here the first week of May or so, I finally got around to starting the process. I don't know why I chose that day - I just woke up with a sense of urgency that I needed to get it done.
I started by calling a bank here in town that was recommended by a friend. The loan officer I talked to really pushed an FHA loan, and said that was our best option. I wasn't really comfortable with the idea of a government-sponsored loan, so I told her I'd talk to my husband and we'd discuss it.
I thought about calling other banks in town, but I knew that the loan wouldn't stay with them - we'd sign the papers there, but the loan would be sold before our signature was even on the line. So I got on Lending Tree. I've heard their commercials. So I filled out their form and within the day, 5 different companies had called. (I was very happy with the Lending Tree experience.)
Two only recommended FHA loans. One said we wouldn't be able to refinance, based on some new law (which I figured was not true, else there would not be so many companies trying to get people to refinance), and two had good, very similar offers.
We spent a week asking questions, nailing things down, and trying to decide which company to go with. As I'd provide them with more information, they'd tweak the quote they'd given us. We finally decided to go with a somewhat local company - one in Overland Park.
I called the man the next Monday and he sent us papers to sign to lock in the offer, and ordered our appraisal.
We had our house appraised. I was kind of shocked at the amount of inspection that ISN'T involved in that process. Basically the guy showed up, walked around the house, measured the outside, and came in and peeked at all the rooms, and asked about the age of the heater and air conditioner. He didn't look at the shed, or the basement. And we paid him $425 to do that. (Maybe I should get into that profession!) Our loan officer said a lot of the information - square footage of the rooms, etc can be found in property records. Still......
The appraisal came in for $15,000 more than I was hoping for - a total blessing. (So I really can't badmouth the appraiser too much.) I was hoping for $5,000 more than we paid for it - so it came out that it was $20,000 more than we paid for it - I was giddy. Because of this, the loan-to-value of our house was much better, and we'd be able to get rid of the stupid PMI we'd been paying.
If you don't know what PMI is, basically it's a rape-you-for-all-they-can-get fee. You pay "x" amount every month, so the mortgage company is "protected" if you stop making your payments. You know, because being able to take your house when you stop making payments isn't enough.
So our savings came up to $160 a month. I was ecstatic - I'd been hoping for $100 a month, and this was so much better - a definite answer to prayer.
Well, this is when I found out that by the time I got the papers back to the loan officer, the interest rate had risen from the 4.875% quote he'd given us to 5.25% (in a two-day span). He figured it would go back down, but by the next week it still hadn't. He waited another week and it was up even more. (I don't blame the man for not getting it locked in - he couldn't have done it without our paperwork.) He finally got a quote, but it only saved us $70 a month (which is better), but had twice the closing costs.
We did some comparing and we found we could save that amount by staying with our current company, and getting them to drop the PMI. And this way there'd be no closing costs.
So I called Bank of America (who aquired Countrywide, which is where our loan is/was). The lady I spoke to said that would be no problem since we had 20% equity, that they'd send out a letter detailing what action to take.
I got the letter yesterday, and it said, "Sorry, but we can't fulfill your request at this time." They need 25% equity.
I cried. I was SO frustrated!
The reason for the frustration is this: when we signed the loan, they told us that with two years of good payments, we'd be able to drop the PMI. Two years came, and we were a month and a half ahead on our payements (I'd call that being good on our payments), so I called to see if we could drop it. They told us that we had to have 20% equity in our house. So we have 20% equity. And now they tell us we have to have 25%. So, when we get that amount, what will they change it to???
See why I hate Bank of America/Countrywide? Not to mention they are the first company that recieved the bailout money, putting us into this economic mess we're in.
I'm also frustrated with myself. Had I gotten on the ball and started this process earlier - even just a few days earlier, or not dallied as long making a decision.... We'd have been saving so much more money. I thought I was being responsible by weighing my decisions carefully.
We entrusted everything to God's hands, so we know He has a better plan than anything we can come up with on our own. Just sometimes I wonder how things like this AREN'T in His plans.... Wouldn't it have been good stewardship to be able to save the money and pay ahead on our mortgage?
But His ways are higher than mine.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Note to Self:

When planning to run your roll-away dishwasher while you're asleep, always remember to take the stopper out of the sink.

Friday, June 12, 2009

If I Were to Ever Steal a Road Sign.....

This would be it!

I have an unnatural amusement with llamas. Just ask Paul. I don't know what it is, but I'm pretty sure it started with The Emperor's New Groove.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Halfway There

So I'm 20 weeks pregnant, which is halfway to full-term. It kind of seems like the first half has dragged - maybe (hopefully!) the next half will go faster. I'm not looking forward to the hot weather. This is what I get for saying I never wanted to be pregnant during the summer.
We had a sonogram on Friday, and everything looks good. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see much of the sonogram. Since we're not finding out if we're going to have a boy or girl, they kept the screen turned away from me so I didn't accidentally see any pertinent parts (or lack thereof). Paul was sitting at the foot of the bed and he got to see everything. (Which I'm glad of, because when we had our first sonogram with this baby, he spent almost the whole time in the hall with a screaming Nathan.) I was kind of hoping that they'd move my due date closer, but no such luck.

And the second half is when you REALLY grow......

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Typical Baby-sitting Morning

So I'm sure if you've been around me, or read my blog much, you've heard me complain about the boys I babysit.
Let me give you a sampling of this morning while babysitting (but it could be any given morning):
  • Arrival time draws near, I scramble to put away "un-shareables" - any of Nathan's toys that can't be shared (tricycle), cause accidents (dump truck), or hurt excessively when thrown (wooden blocks, matchbox cars).
  • Boys show up.
  • Small talk with their mom.
  • Mom walks out the door. I confiscate pacifiers. (Dallas is a month from being 4, and Drew will be 2 in November - my belief is they are too old for binkys... Naptime maybe. But not while they are playing. They keep telling me this month they're getting rid of them!)
  • Boys eat whatever breakfast brought with them. Drew carries his around with him, dropping crumbs and chunks all over the place. Throws remaining breakfast on floor and dashes to eat whatever Nathan left of his breakfast on the table. Spits it out, realizing it's scrambled eggs and he doesn't like them. However, he takes yet another bite and spits it out again all over the floor.
  • Nathan asks for milk. Borderline whining. I give him a partial sippy of watered down milk and he lays down and watches TV.
  • Nathan finishes his milk and gets tired of TV. Starts going through the basket of "wheels" (tractors, trains, cars, etc). This attracts the other two.
  • Yell at Dallas for throwing toys he doesn't want to play with out of his way.
  • Nathan and Drew fight over a tractor. Referee for a few minutes until Drew gets tired of said tractor and finds something else.
  • Decide since there's no drama currently going on, it's time for email and Facebook.
  • Turn around to find Drew carrying a tractor around in his mouth. Yell at him.
  • Nathan and Dallas watch Gulliver's Travels, so they are quiet while Drew wanders around.
  • Drew gets stuck between the chair and couch. Screams bloody murder.
  • Get Drew unstuck, find Dallas with a pacifier. Confiscate "binker" again. Whining.
  • Go back to interneting.
  • Nathan corners Drew trying to take a tractor. Start to go to Drew's defense, then realize he has been carrying around an entire armload of tractors, so give Nathan the one he wants. Drew screams and beats head against door.
  • Peaceful few minutes chatting with my best friend on Facebook.
  • Yell at Drew again about chewing on the wheels of the tractors.
  • Go to get a drink and AGAIN find Dallas with pacifier. Throw it into the kitchen sink where he can't see or reach it.
  • Drew gets stuck AGAIN in the exact same place.
  • Unstick him and he wanders off and finds a piece of his dropped and stepped on breakfast. Picks it up off the floor and eats it.
  • Nathan gets bored and whines again for more milk.
  • Gulliver's Travels locks up (cheap DVD), so let Dallas pick out a different movie. Chooses Baby Einstein Head-to-Toe.
  • After starting DVD, find Dallas rooting around in their diaper bag. Move diaper bag to another room. Whining ensues, including "I want to go home" and "I don't like this movie" (the one HE chose).
  • Gripe to Brooke about the whining.
  • Spank Nathan for throwing something after I told him not to. Dallas whines about this, too.
  • After 20 minutes, decide to go start lunch (at 10:45). Food solves all problems, right?
  • See Drew has a tractor dangling out of his mouth again. Take it away from him and throw it into the other room. (Broke my own "no throwing" rule.)
  • Fix lunch. Nathan whines again. Satiate him with Pringles.
  • Drew sees Nathan with food and comes running. Give him a tortilla chip. He eats it, and picks up one that apparently got dropped and kicked under the counter last night. He eats it, too.
  • Dallas continues whining. I give him the choice: nap, spanking, or stop whining. He lays on the floor and covers his head. Still whimpers, but not out and out whining.
  • Make Dallas go potty and reprimand him for his "hands free" approach. (Even if I made him clean up his mess, I'd still have to clean it up right. No wonder he always tells me he doesn't want help.) Change Drew's diaper while I supervise hand-washing.
  • Mac and Cheese finally gets done. Sit everyone down. Everyone is happy. Rachel is happy that they are being quiet.
  • Nathan chooses Aristocats to watch after lunch. Everyone sits down. I sit down to read an email I was expecting. (FYI - I normally don't let them watch this much TV, but it's too hot to spend all morning outside, and I have a hard time wrangling them outside unless Paul is home to help me. Plus, I just feel lazy today.)
  • Peaceful while they all play quietly or watch TV.
  • Notice Dallas dash to diaper bag, then go hide. Suspicions aroused. Take the cereal bar he'd gotten away from him (he'd just eaten a half a box of Mac and Cheese on his own, so I knew he wasn't hungry). He didn't really fight me on it.
  • However, noticed him moments later come in from the kitchen and try to cover his head up with a blanket. Go to investigate and find him YET AGAIN with the pacifier. Give him a swat and take it away. VERY tempted to chuck it in the trash. All sorts of whining ensues, complete with "I want to go home!" Whining continues until he leaves.
  • Nathan and Drew want the same toy. Nathan "puts the squeeze on" Drew. (He doesn't ever hit him, he just holds him down to get what he wants.) Drew screams and sobs, complete with tears. I think the over-reaction is indicative of need for a nap, so I lay him down on the couch and cover him up. He gets off the couch. Repeat entire sequence.
  • Dallas finds the MegaBlocks (huge Legos, basically). Dumps entire bag and tosses them around living room. Since it's not an out and out throw, I choose to ignore that he's doing this. (Called choosing your battles.)
  • Intermitent whining.
  • Nathan whines for milk. (I think I have an addict.)
  • I hear their dad pull in. I have Dallas pick up the blocks he's scattered. More whining with "I can't." and "I want my binkers." I tell him he can have his binker when his dad gives it to him in the truck.
  • Greet their dad. Tell him about today's drama (limiting it to "had to take away Dallas's binky 3 times" and "Drew's been screaming and sobbing with tears several times today.") Repeat to Dallas that his Dad will give him the binky when they're in the truck, after he's picked up the toys.
  • Give the binkys to the dad. He sticks them immediately in their mouths. Had to quell my irritation.
  • Say goodbye. Take Nathan outside to wave goodbye.
  • Change Nathan's diaper and put him down for a nap.