Monthly Archives: June 2014

House! or: I’m Still Here!

I can’t remember the last time I made a post.  I guess it was probably after Millie was born.  She’s almost three months old now, so there we go!  Since March, I have bought a house, had a baby, gone back to work, taken on my agencies, moved houses, and my husband has his green card interview on Monday.  I keep thinking that one of these days, I’m going to have time to have a beer on the back deck.  Then I think that’ll happen at a quarter past never.

I put in an offer for our house the day we saw it.  We had looked at so many houses that it wasn’t fun anymore.  You know how you start the search for a new house, and at first it’s all sparkles and rainbows and excitement over getting to look at people’s houses?  That stops when you get to the house where you find cats sleeping in cabinets or bathrooms that haven’t been cleaned since the turn of the century.  The cat house was the worst.  I should’ve just pulled the car out of the driveway when a cat popped up out of the sewer grate at the bottom of the driveway.  Seriously, there were about 10 or 15 cats in this place, indoor and outdoor.  It smelled like urine, and the people who lived there were not big on cleaning.  Awful.

When we came to this house, we had no great hope of success.  We were feeling downtrodden and defeated.  This house was significantly cheaper than the homes that we’d been looking at.  The only one that we’d seen that was comparable, build-wise, was priced $10k higher and had just sold.  We hadn’t even meant to look at this house, but when we found out that another house we were preparing to view was going to be near some railway lines that were reactivating, we decided to pass.  Jacksonville has lots of trains, and we’d prefer to live near none of them.

Anyway, we stepped into this house.  It was clean.  There were no cats.  There were no creepy odors.  The basement was finished and had had a nice bar, extra bathroom, a potential fourth bedroom, and a great raw storage area.  The three upstairs bedrooms were small but nice, and the kitchen had more cabinets than I’d ever seen in a house of that size before.  There was a deck off the back, a small yard with no trees to mow around (except in the front, horrible pine tree from Hell), and the house appeared to need nothing done to it.  On top of all that, it was in a really nice, quiet neighborhood in South Jacksonville or, as the locals call it, “the Village.”

We made an offer on the spot.

Now, nearly four months later, we have moved in and have more or less settled into a routine.  At first, I was afraid Millie’s nocturnal wakings would bother Brett, but Brett sleeps like she’s dead.  My husband has turned the basement into a man cave.  The kitchen still has more space than I quite know what to do with.  We haven’t even used the deck yet because with all the other home buying costs, I haven’t been able to afford deck chairs just yet.  We took down the horrible old doily-like curtains and replaced them with more sophisticated panels that actually prevent the neighbors from peeking in.  I bought a lawnmower and have been successfully mowing the yard on the regular. (I had never mowed in my life before the closing date.  My mom and my grandparents always had mowing service.)

So how do I feel about home ownership?  I actually really like it.  Yes, if something goes wrong with the house, I’m on the hook, but with proper maintenance, you can prevent a lot of problems.  After living in rentals for years and then my folks’ house for months, we’re finally in a place that  we can do whatever we want with.  It’s more convenient with the kids, and there’s a park right around the corner that has both playground equipment and a water park.  (The crap thing about the water park is that the little hoodlums from the bad side of town seem to migrate over for their weekly bath.)

The best part of the whole thing is that the mortgage, minus property taxes and homeowners, is less than rent would be under any circumstances.  Unfortunately, I got a property tax credit, so I was on the hook for the 2013 taxes, which got hiked.  They reassessed the house at $10K higher than what I paid, which means that in January, I’m taking my appraisal to the office of the assessor and pitching a FIT.  I will stamp my feet and cuss and make such a nuisance of myself that they have no choice but to lower my rates or deal with me every day until they do it anyway.  I hate taxes.  HATE THEM.  I despise the notion that I’m renting my property from the government, which is really the people.  In case you were curious, I am also directly opposed to the notion of income tax; the idea that the government “lets” me keep what they think I should have is infuriating.  Society my ass.

Anyway, we really like the house.  The only thing I don’t like is Satan’s pine tree that lives right next to the driveway.  It attacks me every time I mow.  We’re going to have to have it trimmed up about 15 feet.  I’m hoping I can get the trimming company to just cut all the branches off up that high so that we can actually see out.  Like most older trees, it has outgrown the yard it was planted in.  Our yard is small, and our house isn’t huge (1600 sq/ft.), so that tree just dominates the yard, and it pisses me off.

Well, the kids are still in bed, thank the Lord, so I think I’m going to head back that way myself.  Millie is finally getting into a real sleep cycle, and it feels great. Getting up multiple times in the night with kids sucks donkey balls, although I will say that Millie is a lot easier than Brett was.  Every kid is different, and I think Brett was just more high-strung than Millie.  Millie is chill, as long as you feed her on time.  Brett is still just a wee bit demanding, but the hugs make it all worthwhile.

So, on this note of sappy happiness, I think I’m going to turn back in.  Goodnight, Neverland!  (More like “good morning, Vietnam!” at this hour…)