Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Elmo Invasion

I admit, I am not a big fan of Elmo, in fact, you could say I was anti-Elmo. For a long time, we didn't have anything Sesame Street related in our house, except a bath mat because it was deeply discounted, and my mom picked it up for me. Then Aidan's birthday came around, and he was given a bunch of small board books. Quick reads and perfect for little hands, but Aidan's only interest in the books was feeding them to Bo. Eventually, Aidan moved up to the toddler room, and during snack time, they sometimes watched Elmo on Sesame Street.

During our trip to Pennsylvania, Aidan learned how to say Elmo, and I thought no big deal, he doesn't own any Elmo's, we'll leave PA and Elmo behind. Fast forward to two weeks ago, Aidan was sick and my mom happened to be in town. She took him to the doctor's office and the poor guy had bronchulitis. The only treatment for his age was Tylenol to keep the fever down and a nebulizer in the doctor's office. So my mom took Aidan to Walgreens to ensure he had Tylenol. Well, Aidan spotted a Tickle Me Elmo toy, pointed to it, and said "Elmo!" Grammy picked up the toy, handed it to Aidan, and he fell in love with the toy. Since it seem to make him feel better, Elmo came home with Aidan that day. And so began the invasion...

AJ's mom bought a Sesame Street doll, I believe it was Cookie Monster. She learned that if you had several of them, they would sing together. So AJ told me she ordered ELMO and Big Bird. So back up is on it's way.

Then this past Saturday morning, right at snack time, Aidan points at the television and says "ELMO!". Sure enough, I turn the television on, tune the channel to the educational/public station, and sure enough, it's Elmo time. Lalalala, lalalala, it's Elmo time...or something like that. Sigh. Aidan sits quietly, eating his snack and watching Elmo. Occasionally he points at the television, says "Elmo", and smiles back at me. Okay kid, you win.

But we're not done yet. I am out with my mom, letting Aidan run all of his energy out at the local (readdesolate) mall, and we go into the bookstore. I actually LOOKED for Elmo books and found two. Aidan sat down to read the books with us in the store, so mom bought him the books. Grammy spoils Aidan.

Finally, as I was thinking, I need to blog about this invasion one night, I had a dream. A dream filled with Elmo. Our house was overrun with Elmo toys, Aidan was smiling, and I had the tune for whatever Elmo's song is stuck in my head. I woke up from the nightmare, and realized that change my stance on Elmo. I have officially relinquished my dislike - Aidan apparently likes the guy, and it makes him happy. So Elmo, you won.
Finally 2.0, before I could post this (was saved in draft), Aidan came home with another Elmo, mom approved. 

 Lalalala, lalalala, it's Elmo time. (Or is it Elmo's World?, meh, who cares...)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Construction, Delay - No Way!

Almost two months ago, I talked about building our dream house.  At this point, we had hoped to have a builder selected and looking forward to the start of the foundation.  However, due to additional restrictions put on small, private banks, the bank we had back in December had to pull its loan in January.  It was not great news, and it has left us scrambling.

We have called many banks to ask them fifty questions about their construction loan program, such as whether they have one time closing, locked rates, required down payment, appraisal process, etc.

I am typically not risk adverse, but in this situation, I am.  AJ and I both are weary of not locking in a rate or not having our house appraised until it's built because what if we assume something and then have a hard time making the monthly or down payment?!  Not cool.

So what have we done in the past two months to progress living in this dream house? 

  • Subdivided the land - This took two iterations because the first survey indicated part of the property would be in a flood zone, which would require additional insurance even though the house would not be in a flood zone.  $$
  • Met with the POA - The current covenants did not allow for plots to be less than 10 acres, and on the front side of the property, we were only able to subdivide 7.22 acres and not include a flood zone.  So the covenants had to be revised and approved by the POA's, which is one other family and the realtor. $$$
  • Agree to New Easements - The realtor who envisioned an equestiran community for 500+ acres he held has revised his plan and wants to sell the remaining 400+ acres as one piece of property to a cow farmer.  Our current access would go through the middle of this property, so the realtor asked that we agree to a revision. $$
  • House Plans and Site Approved - Per the original covenants, the house plans and it's location on the land had to be approved.  While waiting for the lawyer for the covenant and easement revisions, the review board apporved our plans.  This was an easy process, thank goodness!
  • Bids Recieved from the Builders - We have met and discussed the builder's bids.  We have listed the differences so that we can know the cost impact in order to compare apples to apples and choose the best builder for our needs and wants.  However, until we know what the bank will loan us, it's hard to know whether we should cut items or not.  So they're in a holding pattern with us.
  • Chosen a Bank - After too many phone calls and in person meetings, we believe we foudn the bank that will be the most beneficial to our situation.  We will fill out their application this week and meet with them next week.
  • Completed the Refinance on Our Current House - This was done near the end of December, and February was the first month we had the lower payment.  However, due to the social security tax going back to 6.2%, our gain in the refinance is not seen in our budget due to lower paychecks. :(

So our next steps are recording the new parcel with the county, finalizing the bank application, and choosing a builder.  We're also hoping that we can avoid any more hiccups until the house building actually starts.  Yes, I know, it never seems construction goes perfectly and there are bound to be surprises, but I guess I didn't pay enough attention to what Congress was doing to the banks to be prepared or pushed for the loan prior to the end of 2012.