Condo, no more

As of this morning, we are no longer the owners of our condo!!

To some degree, it is bittersweet to sell your first house. So many memories over the last 10 years, not the least of which was the birth of our children. All three slept in that bedroom! I think of Christmas mornings, family gatherings, birthdays…

As the last few weeks have wound down, every time I had to go over to the condo, it was very emotional. Would this be the last time I was ever there? There is so much muscle memory involved: turning the car from the alley to the parking space, the proper way to turn the key in the lock, which wall the light switch is on. It all felt deeply personal.

On the other hand, these last few months have been fairly stressful: having the first offer fall through, watching the savings account go down and down, waiting not-so-patiently for an offer, waiting for some disaster and to have everything fall apart (which happened with the first offer we got, and made us extremely paranoid after).

At this point I feel nothing but relief that it’s all over!

We’ve been in the new house for long enough that we are “moved in”, and each day puts the condo farther and farther in the rearview mirror. And of course, the new house is just about the most amazing place I could ever imagine living in. Still, there is always some part of me that is sad when a chapter of my life closes.

Onward, to new chapters!

(Short) Long Weekend

So there was a mini reunion for Sara’s family over the weekend and we had quite a full house!  There were about 14 of us, although only 6 staying at our place.  We did Chicago up right, hitting up the Shedd, Museum of Science and Industry, Brookfield Zoo, and Navy Pier.  Hopefully everybody had a good time.  I thought the best part about the weekend was all the good food!

So leading up to that weekend I had been cracking the whip pretty hard to try and get everything done on the condo before everybody got here.  I think Sara was getting pretty annoyed with me!  I don’t know if she would agree, but I thought it was all worthwhile.  I was really proud of the condo and I really enjoy showing it off.  It was a lot of work leading up to it, but now that is all done so we can just sit back and relax! (Not really though because I still have to hang a ceiling fan and a hanging light in the dining room.)

This coming weekend is baby shower #2 in Wisconsin.  We should have registered for a dog powered scooter!

Remember that story I had the other day about battle dancing?  Well this just goes to show you how dangerous it can be!

I think that’s it for now, my show is over.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that video above was courtesy of Dabu!

Gigantor Post #2

Another long (frustrating) time without a post! But we’ve been so busy you would hardly believe it. So I’m going to tell you about it so that you can believe it. But I have to warn you, this post is more tragedy than comedy!

So let’s see, so after the last post, Sara’s family came to visit including her uncle Junior. Man could he paint! It was unbelievable. In the time I took to put a second coat on the living room, he put 2 coats on each of the hallways plus the family room. I seriously didn’t know it was possible to paint that fast. So we ended up getting every single room painted, even some of the rooms we weren’t sure if we were going to paint or not. We also got the first of the curtains that Sara’s mom made hung up (dining room) and got the chair rail put up in the dining room. The place looks SO awesome now! And Sara’s parents picked up the crib and chair for the baby’s room and put together the shelves we bought, so that was the first room that really looked finished. It is nice to see it all put together, it looks pretty good. Sara’s parents also bought a bed for the guest room, which I was really excited about. I had been saying to Sara that I really wanted to get a bed because I feel bad that guests have to sleep on an air mattress. So I was really glad when they offered to buy it because I am excited to have an actual guest bedroom.

Unfortunately, all the progress that was made and all the positive energy that was being generated was sort of sucked out when we found out Sunday morning that Sara’s car had been broken in to. 😦 They broke the back window, unlocked the doors and tried to hotwire it. I’m not sure why it was unsuccessful, but the thieves ended up stealing a car across the block. So in a way we were lucky because they didn’t steal her car and they didn’t break into my car which was only a few cars away. On the other hand we had a lot going on already and now we had to deal with this broken out window. And when they tried to hotwire the car they messed up the wiring or something, so we couldn’t start the car anymore. I think the worst part about it though was that I started feeling like it was unsafe there and I started wondering if we had made a mistake buying this condo in this neighborhood. I’ve been sort of worried about it ever since. I’m sure that’s how anybody would feel after something like that happened.

So, Sara’s car wouldn’t start and we had to call the police and then we had to have it towed and we had to call the insurance, etc. What a pain. Plus, we didn’t really need a $250 deductible on top of everything else we were spending right now. Little did I know, that was just the beginning of the hassle on her car. Long story short, I had to call the car place and the insurance adjuster at least every other day. For some unknown reason it took 10 DAYS to fix the car! I was very frustrated by the whole thing and it seemed to all be because of the car place. It was the WORST. Ugh.

So anyway, everybody was coming the next weekend to help us move, so we had to spend a lot of the week packing. It was sort of hard though because you get home from a long day of work and then you eat and then you don’t really feel like packing. So Friday, I was just leaving work and I got in an accident!!! Unbelievable. It wasn’t my fault. I had just turned out from work and I was driving on a two lane road when a guy who was at a stop sign on the cross-road tried to make it across in front of me. He said that he didn’t see me. So my front right bumper smashed into his rear right bumper. My car was pretty much okay, I just bent up my bumper, hood and front right quarter panel and broke out my headlight. His car was pretty bad and had to b towed from the scene. I just couldn’t believe this was happening with the move that weekend and Sara’s car (still) in the shop. Yet another police report to fill out, another call to insurance, etc. My car should be covered under his insurance, but they say that they can’t do anything until they decide who is at fault and they can’t do that until they get his side of the story. So here we are more than a week later and they are still “trying to get in contact with the insured” and I’m driving around with a car that some times smells like wires burning if I forget and accidentally use the right turn signal. Just one more thing, you know?

We had been on the fence about whether we should get an alarm system or not, but having Sara’s car broken into kind of put us over the top. So we had two alarm companies come out to the house. The guy from Brinks was awesome, and their product was cheaper than we expected. The guy didn’t even mention trying to sell anything to us, he just walked around and worked with us to figure out what we would need. So we felt pretty good about stuff when he left. The ADT guy on the other hand…now that was a different story. He was the worst! First off he told us it would take 45 minutes and it took an hour and FIFITY minutes! Second off, he spent at least an hour talking to us including starting to price out some stuff before he even looked at the home! And it felt like the Brinks guy was really trying to figure out what we needed, but the ADT guy was trying to upsell us on everything. So finally he was like, “Okay, I just need your credit card numbers…” and we were like, “Whoaaaa there buddy. We’re not making a decision today.” That’s when he flipped out and got desperate. We couldn’t get him to leave. He was pulling out every trick in the sales book up to and including trying to guilt us (“I don’t understand, we agreed on the price range before we started, I thought we had an agreement, I just don’t understand.”) but there was no way we were signing up right at that moment. Especially since it was like twice the price of Brinks. Now there were some features of the ADT service that we liked, but the more the salesman refused to leave and tried to hold us hostage in our own house, the less I wanted to give him any money! Finally we pretty much shoved him out the door. Maybe those high pressure sales tactics worked in the past, but I don’t know why anybody would think they would work today. I mean seriously, the guy pretty much just talked his company out of making a decent slice of dough.

Next up came the big move day, and I have to say, it went a lot faster than I expected! I guess part of it was having a lot of help to move; I usually don’t have much help. I think the worst was when I moved to Philly and it was only my dad and me to unload everything in like blistering heat. So this time we had 10 people I think! My mom and dad both came, but I don’t think it was weird. They even went and got coffee together! I guess that was weird. Anyway, my dad forced us to take over like 5 loads in his truck the night before, so we had a lot of the small stuff moved by the time we got the truck the next day. My brother actually rented a car to come and help and came from a bachelor’s party the night before, so I was concerned that it was going to be too much for him, but we appreciated the help because that was one more person that could carry heavy stuff. Also my boss showed up and he was a machine! He just jumped right in getting the heaviest stuff and definitely made a big difference. Also, he brought us a pan of lasagna! Very thoughtful, since our kitchen was all packed up! So I picked up the truck at 9 but they opened at 9, so there was a big line. I probably got back at like 9:45, we took one load in the truck, and we returned the truck at noon. Also, our realtor Joe brought a pizza over on move day! That was also really thoughtful too, especially since the closing was a month ago.

So, in order to support the alarm system, we decided to get an actual land line phone for the first time in years. Since we have Comcast cable and Internet, we figured we would try out their new VoIP for the phone system. It seemed like a no-brainer since I’ve been a loyal Comcast customer for like 8 years over 3 states. But I know what you’re thinking, what about all those problems you had when you got your Comcast setup before? Well, this time the problems started up right away. I had to call back 3 days in a row and each day I got a different story. Everyday the order would be messed up in some way. Finally, the last guy I talked to (who was extremely rude) told me I couldn’t get the special deal because I was transferring service not getting new service. Finally I was just fed up with Comcast! So I took a look around at what my options were and realized I could save a TON of money by going with AT&T and Dish Network. Kind of stupid on Comcast’s part because I was ready to sign up for the long haul. And the best part is, with Dish Network I get NFL Network and my beloved Sci-fi channel, probably the two best channels on earth and two channels I didn’t get with Comcast. I think for the combination Internet and T.V. we are saving something like $30 per month. Per month! And that’s not even including some of the specials and promotions we got. Some people say (and some Comcast billboards say) it is stupid to get a satellite dish in Chicago because the weather knocks the satellite signal out all the time. Other people say you only lose it in the worst storms. I guess we’ll see, but the people who say it is generally acceptable seem more reliable than the naysayers.

But alas, it looks like the new master is a lot like the old master. 😦 My appointment was from 8 – 12 Friday morning, but it was actually 2 appointments. The satellite guy showed up first, and let me say he really earned his installation fee! (of course we’re not paying it thanks to a promotion, but still) So it took quite a while to get everything all set up. By the time he left it was about noon and I hadn’t heard from the AT&T guy. So I called and it turns out, they had set up my order to be installed between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.!! It is ridiculous enough to expect someone to be home for 4 hours, much less 12 hours! And while they were at it, the person didn’t set up the order for the Internet, only the phone! ::sigh:: Of course not. Of course. So I had to call off work for the day and the guy ended up getting here around 1:30. It only took a few minutes to set up the phone, but it took quite a while to get the TiVo and everything all set up to work with the satellite. I also had a lot of time to unpack and pretty much unpacked everything there was to unpack.

So, since I wasn’t going to work I had time to return our cable modem to Comcast. So I drove out to the Comcast office and there was a HUGE line! I had to park 2 blocks away and the line went all through the office and then out across the parking lot! I couldn’t even believe it, I thought it was going to be a quick trip. The problem was that Comcast is switching over to all digital and everyone has to come and pick up digital boxes. It ended up being quicker than I thought it was going to be (only about an hour) because they actually had 6 lines open on the inside. Everybody was angry, but the ironic thing was that I was already fed up with Comcast enough to cancel my service BEFORE I had to stand in that line!

Now here is the part you’re not going to believe! Saturday morning we were going to go to the 57th street art festival (which is really awesome, we will definitely continue to go every year) and we tried to start Sara’s car and it wouldn’t start! It did the same thing it had been doing before we took it in to get it fixed!! I couldn’t believe it, I was so upset. Like there were so many things going on and I thought that was one frustration that I could cross off the list! And the more I thought about it the more upset I got, so I had to struggle to keep it from ruining the whole weekend.

In order to get our mind off of the car, we decided on Sunday to go to IKEA to buy some shelves to create a pantry out of one closet, which is an awesome idea by the way (not mine) and the shelves look awesome! We freed up a bunch of space in the kitchen too as well as found some spots for some stuff that we didn’t know what to do with. The thing is, the closet isn’t that big, but it is very, very tall. So we bought these 7’ shelves and it is working great. The only problem was, we had to fit them into my car! We managed to fit them in with the back seats down and the passenger seat as far forward as it could go and leaning forward. Sara couldn’t fit her big pregnant belly in there, so she had to drive. It was the most uncomfortable contorted position with my head pressed against the windshield and my legs screwed up to one side. The funny part was that anybody driving by my car wouldn’t be able to see the shelves (they weren’t assembled yet) they would just see me pressed up against the glass like some kind of weirdo! But I survived the hour car ride and it was worth it, because the shelves are awesome. We also bought some other needed things like door mats, trash cans, etc. This place is really coming together and I like it more and more every day! We still have a lot of things we’d like to get though.

I also managed to watch some awesomely bad movies on sci-fi. Just like old times! The theme was heat movies and I think the worst one I saw was about a volcano opening up under New York city. Well it might have been a tie between that and this one about these snakes made of fire staring Xander from Buffy.

So Monday I get to work and I find out that my account had been shut off!! Agh! I thought I was going to have a break down! It just seemed like I was cursed or something. Everything was just going wrong and piling up, between both the cars, then Sara’s car still being broken, the problems with AT&T, the Internet still not working…man.

So since then, things have started to come back in order. My account at work was quickly restored. Sara’s car was towed back to the dealership and then fixed. They admitted it was their fault and there was no charge. According to the UPS website, we are supposed to get our DSL modem tomorrow (and then I can post this!). If that goes according to plan, then the only thing left to resolve is my car. I plan on driving Sara’s until I hear back from State Farm. It would be nice if that was resolved soon, but I am not hopeful.

Long time no post

Wow, was that really the last time I made a post??

Well obviously a lot has happened since then! And obviously we’ve been really busy and I haven’t had much time to post about it.

So the closing went okay I guess. There were actually a few snags that made it especially painful for the mortgage broker and the lawyers. We didn’t really know what to expect, so if you told us it took 10 hours we wouldn’t have known any better, but they all seemed pretty agitated. The first (minor) problem was that the parking spaces were numbered incorrectly and according to the contract they were selling us the parking space in front of the wrong condo! But that got resolved pretty fast. The more major issue was that the mortgage company was being a real pain. It sounded like maybe it was the first day on the job for somebody or something, but they didn’t know what they were doing. They kept requesting ridiculous stuff, like they made us redo the contract with asterisks next to the closing costs that were being paid by the seller and then made us redo it again because “the asterisks are too small.” Ridiculous things like that. Finally, after about 4 hours, we were told we could leave and they would get the rest straightened out. Whatever, we had the keys when we left, so that was the important thing!

So since that time, we’ve just been spending huge piles of cash. It’s amazing how fast things add up! I already mentioned what we spent on paint. We bought a crib and a nice chair for the baby’s room, some shelves for the baby’s room and a bedside table for the guest bedroom from IKEA and an end table for next to the couch. We spent almost $600 on fabric for the curtains (Sara’s mom is making them for us, so I can’t imagine what we would have spent to actually buy finished curtains!) and then ended up spending another couple of hundred for curtain rods and things. And that was from IKEA which had rods for way cheaper than like Target or anything. So the moral of the story, and I guess everybody said this but I still kind of didn’t believe it, is that even after you write the huge check for your house you still have a lot of spending left to do!

So, that first weekend after we bought the house we were visited by my dad, brother, and Sara’s brother for a painting extravaganza. We actually got a lot done! We painted the baby’s room, our bedroom, the living room and the guest bedroom as well as the ceilings of all the bathrooms with mold resistant paint. The living room was awesome because it is the biggest room to paint and also there was the little incident of the area over the stairs. See, the ceilings are pretty high (say 12 feet?) and then the stairs go down from the corner of the living room, so the distance from the stairs to the ceiling was reaaaaaly far. And of course this is over the stairs with no landing or anything, so we didn’t even know how to do it. The best idea we had we found online, but it sounded very sketchy. Basically, put an extension ladder on one side and a regular ladder at the top of the stairs and then run a board between the two resting on the rungs of the ladder. I know you can’t imagine what the area looks like, but trust me; someone would have died trying that. We tried to rent some stuff from Home Depot but they didn’t rent it. But finally in the end, the simple solution was the best solution. My dad brought an extension ladder and we just put a couple of cinder block pieces on the lower stair and put one leg of the ladder on that and the other leg on the higher stair. It was still pretty dicey though because I was still up pretty high and the ladder didn’t have much of an angle to it. So I had to cling to the top of the ladder because if I leaned backwards it would overbalance and fall. So anyway, it was a big relief off my mind to get that all finished!

So we got a lot done, but there is still a LOT more to do! Originally it was just the 3 bathrooms, the kitchen, dining room and the family room left, but then we decided we should paint the hallways and the office since we would actually have help at the moment (more on that later). We did get all of the corners and trim and stuff done in one of the bathrooms this week.

The Monday after that I picked my mom up from the airport on the way back from Japan. So mostly they went to see shrines (kind of like how we saw so many churches in Italy) but it sounds like my mom really enjoyed the trip to Hiroshima. It sounds kind of funny to say “enjoyed” and “Hiroshima” but I don’t know what the right word is. The main thing she just kept talking about was just the cultural differences. I think that is the main thing you gain by going out of the country is sort of a broadening of your horizons. Anyway, she had a good time.

The weekend after that was Nathan’s graduation. Jenny and Josh and their kids Jacob, Bekkah, Jaames and Braelynn stayed with us Friday night. We were a little nervous since it was such a large crew, but they actually weren’t there very long and it wasn’t a problem at all. In fact, Braelynn was so quiet I kept forgetting she was there! I didn’t hear her cry once the whole weekend. I can only hope our baby will be so good! We didn’t act

On Saturday we met Sara’s family at a fabric store to pick out all the cloth for the curtains. I already mentioned how expensive this all was and all in all I have to say it was not as fun as I had imagined! I imagined running through the store throwing fabric around trying to narrow down all of our many choices. Instead it was like digging through trying to find one we liked. Sara told me she thought it would take 2 hours and I thought, “No way! 1 hour max!” Well, it actually took about 3 hours. But it was good to get it done and I’m excited to see all of the curtains when we are done.

So after that we went to Purdue and got there about 5. We didn’t go to the ceremony, just the after party. 🙂 We stayed until about 9 and ate some good food and visited with family members, etc. It was fun but it was also an exhausting day.

On Sunday we went to IKEA and then we planned to paint the bathroom, but by the time we got around to that, Sara decided it was too much for a weekend. So I ended up just sort of doing odd jobs around the new condo that somehow took hours. I did the touch-ups in the baby’s room and finished that up, put on outlet covers, etc. This led to my lock changing odyssey.

So we wanted to change the locks just to be safe, since who knows who has copies of the old key. So this is yet another thing to spend money on. However, I found some kit online which you are supposed to be able to change up to 6 locks for like $10. I figured it was worth the $10 to give it a try because it could potentially save us like $50. So even if it doesn’t work, I’m only out $10. So I get the kit and I decide to give it a try. There are lots of different directions for different kinds of locks, but I find the right set and get started. So I’m taking the lock apart and following the directions and everything is going well. It says, “Turn the key to release the locking mechanism, yada yada” so I do that and I’m like “cool, this is actually working” and I pull out the locking mechanism. All these tiny little pieces go flying everywhere. So I thought, “Well, I guess this is the point of no return, there’s no going back now!” and I looked down at the next instruction which says, “Be careful not to removing the locking mechanism because if you do all the tiny little pieces will go flying and you will be totally screwed.” Don’t you think that could have been mentioned before the previous step?!?! So it goes on to say, “If you are the type of idiot who just pulls out the locking mechanism without reading the next step, see this other step on this other page.” and it tells you how to reassemble it. Well holy crap, it was hard! There are 5 little holes that take 5 little springs with little metal pins on top. Once you get the spring with the metal pin into the hole, then you have to push it down and slide this tube over the top so it doesn’t spring back out. And of course I’m at the empty condo, so the only tool I had to work with was an unbent paperclip. It took me at least an hour and a half to get that lock reassembled! At least a quarter of that time was spent looking for the tiny pieces after they sprang out over the carpet which is colored the exact color of the inner workings of a lock. I wonder if the name of the carpet color is “lock mechanism brown” or something. And my back was hurting from hunching over because it’s so small you can’t see anything. So finally I managed to put everything back together and finish changing the lock. So I got it done, but it took me about 2 hours to change 2 out of 6 locks.

So I was very frustrated, but at least I got it done! Fast forward to yesterday and I was going to change the other 4 locks. I thought it should be pretty fast because by now I know what NOT to do and also I have a pretty good working knowledge of how a lock works after spending 2 hours on them. So I’m cruising along, I changed the next 3 locks in about 30 minutes. I was in a pretty good mood, everything was going well. I didn’t even need to look at the directions anymore because I knew what I was doing. And then of course what happens? I was actually past the hard part on the last lock and my hand sort of slips and pulls out the mechanism and ::SPRING:: out flies all the little pieces! Ohhh I was so mad at myself! I just got careless because it was so easy. So I figured, “Oh well, at least I know what to do to fix it.” But when I looked at the pieces, I realized it was subtly different that the previous lock. On that one the pin fit in the top of the spring, so you just had to put the spring and the pin into the hole as one piece. But on this one the pin did NOT fit into the spring, it just sort of rested on top. So you would have to balance this miniscule pin on top of this tiny spring and then somehow push it down so it goes in the hole. This would be impossible. I was almost done with the locks! The more I looked at it the madder I got at myself. I was thinking I would have to buy a new lock and then re-key that one (and hope the same thing didn’t happen) but in that case I didn’t save much money by doing it myself. Also it was quarter to nine so I couldn’t really get it that night. So Sara convinced me to put the lock back on so it looked like it was okay (but it wasn’t really locked or anything) and gather up all the tiny pieces and just wait until the next day. When I got home I tried a few times with tweezers (which sure would have helped with the other lock the other day!) but it was just impossible. But then, out of nowhere, I figured out the trick for doing it and I put it back together! It was so random because over the course of like 5 minutes I went from the total despair of, “This is impossible” to “Hey, I’m done!” So I ran back over to the condo and put the lock back together (veeeery carefully) and presto! Everything is fine.

So the moral of the story is, you can do it yourself but be very, very careful. And if I paid myself per hour it probably would have cost as much as if a locksmith did it.

Speaking of do-it-yourself stuff, we had this problem with our drains in the bathroom. The sink and the shower both were so clogged up that they virtually were not draining at all. I poured like 2 gallons of drain cleaner down each over the course of months, but it did little or nothing to help. We were kind of thinking we could just live with it for the next couple of weeks until we moved out, but finally the sink came to a complete standstill. I bought these cheep plastic zip line things from Target (2 for $5) and they actually worked miraculously! Probably better than advertised. You just push them into the drain as far as you can and then pull it back out, but it has these one way teeth (like an arrow head), so when you pull it out the clog snags on the teeth and out it comes. I had to do it a few times and it was grosser than all get out, but I removed so much hair from those drains you wouldn’t even believe it. You could have made a wig for a cancer patient, provided that that cancer patient had no sense of smell and didn’t mind that the wig was sort of a decaying grey color. But anyway, if you have a problem like that, go ahead and buy those cheep plastic zip things because they work really well.

Okay, so that’s about it. Sara’s entire family including an Aunt and Uncle are descending on the condo this weekend to try to get the rest of the stuff done before we move in next weekend. So we will be very busy with that, but in a good way!

One final thing. Just because I don’t have time to blog about the more fun things that I usually blog about, doesn’t mean I’m not saving them up. So when I get a chance I will drop some of those on you.

In the meantime, you’ll have to tide yourself over with this awesome Rube Goldberg machine. My favorite part is when the one cell phone calls the other cell phone. Very modern touch! 🙂

Tomorrow’s the big day!

Tomorrow we close on the condo!  I think everything is ready to go.  I just had to hold the check in my hand, just to see what it felt like to hold that much money!

Wish us luck!