Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Pros and Cons of Moving

I am probably one of the few people that enjoy the process of moving.  While I am no expert in the art of moving I do have some experience...three major moves in seven years with an additional three mini-moves in that same time period.  It can be a bit daunting and stressful but there are so many great things that come out of each move too!  Since I seem to be about lists lately (check them out at "Top 10 Memorable Houses," "The Top Five Four 'Wow, these houses are really nice but there is now way that we could actually afford it' List," and "My Most Memorable Job Interiews (and a few offers)"), I thought it would be great to share with you the pros and cons of moving so often, but especially with this move in to our new home.

-My shower/tub sparkles.  I know for a fact that when I move in my tub looks clean and when I move out it looks clean.  All of the other days in between don't count.

-Every time I change my address they send me a 10% off Lowe's coupon.  Hello washer and dryer.  Hello new refrigerator!

-I can actually paint the walls!  This will be the first time that I will get to choose the paint color and it will NOT be beige, cream or white. 

-Getting rid of unwanted items.  This move we have furniture, toys, clothes, electronics, and so much more.  They were all things we needed at one time and now that we have our own defined space and updated a few things, we don't need them.  It is great to see how large the pile is getting (and this is after we already had a massive garage sale a few months ago) and all of the proceeds go directly back to the house. Plus, one of my New Year's Resolutions was to get rid of 300 pounds of clutter. I am beyond that number BUT could possibly get up to the 700-800 pound mark! 

-We already have all of our boxes.  We've saved them over the years and it makes packing MUCH easier.

-As I mentioned earlier, I do love a clean shower but often times I leave the place cleaner than when I moved in. Now that we are out of the rental game (for now at least) I won't have to worry about scrubbing the floors or cleaning under the drip pans on the stove.  Well, I'll still do that BUT I won't be charged an exorbinate fee if it isn't done "up to standards."

-For the major moves it is hard to start over--making new friends, find the right grocery store, learning how to get from Point A to Point B, etc.  Luckily this move is just a few blocks away.

-While I do like getting those Lowe's coupons when I change my address it also creates a few headaches.  It can take weeks and sometimes months to get addresses changed on every account or bill.

-You never really know what to expect when it comes to neighbors.  In Minnesota we had "Do" short for "Weirdo."  Pretty sure he was the one that stole our bikes.  Then in Kansas we lived under a guy who spilled his keg and it left a stain on our ceiling.  We have lucked out in Oklahoma so far.  We hope that our new neighbors are okay.

-Moving can be EXPENSIVE and tiring.  We have moved ourselves with the help of good friends and U-Haul trailers, but it is amazing how much those trailers cost!  To cut down costs on one move; we rented a trailer for 24 hours.  We packed it, drove eight hours to our new place, unpacked, and drove back up the eight hours.  All to save a few dollars.  I don't think we'll do that again.

Any Pros or Cons you want to add to the list?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Job Interviews Really Can...Stink...Yeah, That's the Word I Was Going to Use

**Updated 6/25/12.  Check out #9**

Currently my home buying, no longer "mis," adventures are on hold.  I wanted to think of something else to write about that many of you all can relate to.  I don't want to dwell on the negative things (or creepy things) that we go through but after the last couple of weeks I have had, I thought the best thing to write about would be my job hunt.  Better yet, the wonderful interviews and sometimes offers.

I know that these aren't horror stories by any means.  I have heard some terrible interview stories and there is no way that I can compare to that, but I have been through my own frustrating situations.  I will not tell you the name of the places I interviewed...some of them may be schools, some may be local businesses, and some may be larger, established businesses.  IF you are reading this though and are from an HR department or school board and ask specifically about a place I will get with you privately...who knows...maybe some things can change!

Again, these are not horror stories...just stories.  So, in a pseudo chronological order:

"My Most Memorable Job Interviews (and a few offers)"

1.  Sorry, it is just allergies. When I was eight months pregnant with my little boy I went in to an interview that went fairly well. It was an hour drive from home but I was looking for my first [real] job. I interviewed with the first individual and thought things went really well. I was told to be on the look out for another phone call from another individual that I could potentially work under. I said goodbye and started back on my drive. Thirty minutes later I get a phone call from the second person. He was upset with me because we were supposed to meet 30 minutes ago. So, I of course turn the car around and drive back up to meet him.

The interview was painful. At one point he said, "I don't have your transcripts. So, tell me, what would they say?" I answered, "it would say that I graduated with a 3.96 GPA. I have two degrees and maintained a course load of 20+ credit hours a semester." He then said, "NO, what would it say about you?" I have no idea! It lists my college classes for crying out loud! "Well, it would say that I have a well rounded education with classes such as: _____, _____, _____, and _____." I rattled off as many classes as I could remember. That again was not the answer he was looking for. That's when the tears started to come. I kept wiping them away and at one point told him I was suffering from allergies. Yeah...that's right...allergies. As I was ready to leave the man looked at my large belly and asked me, "is there anything that you see will come up in the future that would cause you to miss work?" Oh, because you can't specifically ask me if I'm pregnant you are going to reword it to make me say it? "Nope!" I replied and left as quickly as I could. I was actually offered the job...I did not take it.  

2. You're hired. Oh, never mind we gave it to someone else. A few days before moving to my new community I interviewed for a job. It was a slight drive for me but extremely doable. I drove the five hours to get there (at that point we were still living in a different state), talked with the hiring committee, and drove back five hours. I felt like the interview went well. A few hesitations when it came to some of the resources that I would have but I was still excited about it. On my drive back home I was offered the job. I told him I needed to talk to my husband but that I would call him bac within 24 hours. That next morning I left a message on the school phone and told them I had a few more questions but that I would go ahead and give them my verbal yes. I said I would be officially moved down there by the end of the week and would be happy to sign all of the papers. I thought that was it. The day before the move I received an email...an EMAIL!! That said they received my message but then never heard back. They didn't have time to wait so they offered the job to the next candidate. WHAT?! You couldn't have called me once just to double check...you just offer it up to the next person without even checking?  

3. Can you count money back? You're hired.

**This space intentionally left blank because that was basically the entire interview.
I accepted the seasonal part-time job.***

4. Sorry that position is...vacant...filled...vacant...filled. Yet another position became available near my community. I was excited. The position had just been posted and I submitted my materials the next day. I received a phone call from the [boss] and he said they had just filled that position. He thought the person was leaving but they were actually staying. He was sorry for the confusion but told me he would pass my name and information along if anything came up. One month later I notice the position is posted again. Okay, yay! Maybe it didn't work out. I called immediately. Nope, that position was filled by a different person. Alright, I can deal with that. It happens. However, months later I find out that the position was filled by someone without the proper qualifications. How could they even hire this person without the right qualifications? They can't! Well, they can't unless there are NO other qualified candidates. I noticed that job was available again this year. We'll see how it goes...

5.  What value is there in a stay at home mom?  Last year I was called in to interview for a position that I was excited about.  It was something I was qualified for but it would have been a new adventure.  Yes, it was about an hour away, but at the time I didn't mind...I actually received a call for an interview!  The day before the interview I received a phone call from what would have been my possible co-worker and he told me a few things I needed to have prepared for the interview.  I thought, "wow, that was sweet."  The next morning I drive to the city (which actually took 90 minutes due to a massive electrial outage in the town) but I still made it on time! 

I met the hiring committee, joked about the electricity, and felt comfortable and confident about how the interview would go.  I was prepared with my answers and had done my research about the place.  Then they start the questions.  Question #1 (from the potential co-worker that had called me earlier).  "So, I see from your resume that you haven't actually [been working] for the last year.  What have you actually done with yourself then?"  BAM.  Slap.To.The.Face.  Ummm...raising a child!  I may have actually said it that way too but I can't quite remember. 

I was so shocked by not only how he asked the question, the tone, the manor, but the fact that he asked it that way at all!  Don't they usually ask, "tell us a little bit about yourself," first?  Needless to say the waterworks sprung.  I can't help it.  I am a crier.  Luckily it was just tears that I successfully?/unsuccessfully? pawned off as allergies...again. 

6.  You do NOT want to work in this job.  Recently I had an interview for a position that I felt/knew I was overqualified for.  I knew it but was still willing and ready to take any position possible.  Plus, why should it matter if I am overqualified?  If I want to take a job that doesn't "stretch me" isn't that my choice?  I'm not sure if I would have ever been offered an interview for this job if it wasn't for my persistance in calling to see if the position had been filled and by knowing someone that worked at this place.  This interview lasted about 20 minutes.  The first five involved me giving my life/work history and saying why I would be interested in this position...the other 15 minutes involved the other person telling me about the job.  Not just telling me about it but ripping the job apart.  I was given a dozen reasons as to why I would not want to work here; the work conditions, the long hours, the noise, the never ending pile of paperwork, and the inability to talk to your co-workers.  Oh, and by the way, we use an antiquated system; you'll be printing off [things] from the internet and then typing them in to the computer.  Really this job is kind of pointless to even have in our [company.]  Hmmm...maybe they should have someone else conduct the interviews next time.

7.  Hold on, let me check my text messages.  Last week I interviewed for a position, an hour away again, that I hemmed and hawed about.  I was excited about getting an interview but that hour drive is just a bit too much.  I went anyway because interviews are good experience...blah...blah...blah.  After waiting 20 minutes past my time I was called in.  I knew the before me was doing well because they talked for 70 minutes and because you could here them laughing and talking about nonwork related things.  Hmmm...tough act to follow.  I sat down and starting answering questions.  I thought it was going okay until the [boss] jumped out of her chair and said, "oh, I need to check my text messages.  My teenage daughter is going to WalMart and isn't quite sure how to use the debit card."  Well, that is a bit rude but it is nice to see that she is looking out for her child...oh wait, her daughter is 19 not 13?  Uh, no.  Needless to say that kind of jolted the interview.  I then found the [boss] answering my questions.  She would ask, I would begin to answer, and then she would finish my sentences.  Plus, I was in and out in about 20 minutes.

8.  I'll let you know soon...still waiting.  I interviewed for a job earlier this month that I was extremely excited about.  I thought it would be a perfect fit.  I heard the job was opening...and then I waited for it to post.  I sent in my application materials...and then I waited for an interview.  I had the interview...and waited...and waited...and waited to hear about the job.  Three weeks later and I'm still "waiting" to hear back from this [guy.]  Now, I already know that I didn't get the job.  I actually found out through the grapevine via another [guy] when he asked me to interview for his current position that opened up.  Surprise, surprise...he lost his employee to a transfer.  The job I had still been waiting to hear about!!!  Another slap in the face.  Dear Guy #1, could you please be considerate and at least call, email, or send a letter that told me someone else was chosen.  Yeah, that would have been nice.  So now I know that I didn't get the job but part of me is still hoping that I will get some sort of message from him that the position has been filled.  Do you think it will actually happen?

9.  I promise, I won't make you wait.  So this is the continuation of the last interview.  This was not my ideal job but in my community the opportunities to work in my specific field are few and far between.  Guy #2 conducted the interview and we talked for almost two hours.  I felt the interview went well although I did tell him my hesitations.  I prayed and prayed about this job.  Specifically if it was offered to me would I take it, would I try and change things, would I turn it down?  I was told I would know, whether it was a "yes" or a "no,"  by _____ date.  I told him how I appreciated that and then told him the story about the previous job in the community.  He said, "that is terrible.  I promise, I won't make you wait."  Well folks, I'm still waiting.  I really  hope that they offered the job to someone else and are just trying to figure out the details but still do I really want to work for a place that treats potential employees like that?

**So here is the update.  After waiting a week later then promised I did finally get an answer...it was a no.  Am I a bit disappointed?  Yes, but I also said earlier that I hoped they would offer it to someone that really enjoys working with [this particular age group].  When I was asked by the interviewer if I was intimidated by [this group], I was honest and said yes. 

It still hurts to not get a yes, but I'm hoping that the right job is out there.  These past two experiences have also opened my eyes to the area that I live in.  It makes me appreciate the places I have worked at in the past and it makes me yearn more for my community.  I WANT to see changes being made!  Would I love to be a part of it?  Yes!**    

Care to share?  Post a comment and I will contact you.  I would love to hear about other's interesting interviews. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Our Home Buying Misadventures - The Final Chapter?

Well folks, this may be the final chapter of our home buying misadventures.  We have spent almost two years looking for our first home in our local community.  We have been on the fence about buying a home and we finally just had to make a decision.  It was hard to decide if renting or buying would be the best option for us.  Renting can be a hassle when it comes to dealing with neighbors, landlords, pet deposits, etc BUT if something happens...they fix it.  Infestation problem...they spray.  You don't like where you live?  You can move out when your lease is up.  When you buy...you have all of the responsibilities.  Are we ready for it?

Yes!  I mentioned earlier that we saw a house that could be a top contender...well, we put an offer in on Tuesday and it was accepted this morning.  We knew that this was the best option for us after we saw one more rental this morning.  This rental had carpet from the 1970's, bedrooms the size of bathrooms, no backyard, and SMELLED of cat urine.  For just $17 more a month than that property we can have our own home.  Sure, we'll have to deal with the broken toilet ourselves and cut the grass, but I can control the smell and I can paint the walls!!!

The last three days were a bit stressful but we made it through.  We saw the house on Monday and talked about what we liked and didn't like about it.  We saw a few more houses on Tuesday and decided to go back to this house one more time.  We put our offer in that afternoon.  A few hours later our agent told us there was at least one other offer in at the moment.  She didn't know the exact offer but was told it was within $1,000 of the original asking price.  We thought hard about how much we wanted this house.  Were we willing to up our offer to compete against this other one?  Was there even another offer or was this a way for the seller's agent to up the price?  We went ahead and added more to our offer and waited, and waited, and waited.  This morning we received a call that said there were now "multiple offers on the table."  What?!  Seriously?!  Hmmm...did we really want to up our offer again?  How could this house be listed for almost 90 days with no major activity and now all of a sudden there are all of these offers?  We decided to add an additional $1,000 to our offer.  Enough for them to know that we were seriously interested but that was it.  No more.  This afternoon we received the call from our agent that our offer was accepted.  We went just above the asking price, asked for help with closing costs, asked for a refrigerator and removal of some items from the backyard (mainly a rotted out shed and a broken chain link fence). 

So how does it fare to our needs and wants list?  It meets seven out of our eight NEEDS and meets five out of our six WANTS.  Not too shabby I think.

We hope this is the end of our home buying misadventures, however, we aren't finished yet.  With inspections, insurance, and all of the other little things that need to be done...we know a hiccup could come our way.   

So, check it out.  These are the photos that the listing agent took.  Enjoy!

The color is not my favorite but I'm sure it helps to hide some of the cosmetic flaws and it will be easy to find.
Fireplace...it doesn't work though.  Again, not my favorite color
but that can be changed.  Suggestions for what to do with it?
The only full bathroom in the house.  Has a great storage nook beside the tub.

A half bath in the master bedroom.  It would have been nice to have
two full baths, but I'll take two toilets over one any day.
One of three bedrooms...they all look the same.
Dining room.  Great light from the windows.

Kitchen.  Nice looking cabinets and counter tops.  New appliances
and we'll get a new refrigerator out of the seller too.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Our Home Buying Misadventures - Part Five

As I mentioned in my last post, we had to start back at the beginning of our search.  We were lucky enough to have a little vacation to think about the past few weeks and collect our thoughts.  What came out of it was a letter to our agent.  I've deleted some of the information (because as I have said before, you don't need to know all of my personal financial details) but you get the idea.  Anything in italics was not actually in the letter; just extra info for you :) 


Dear Agent,
     We have done a lot of thinking over the past couple of weeks about our house hunting adventure and will admittedly say that we are a bit frustrated with the entire situation.  We are almost to the point where we are ready to call it quits for a bit. We feel that we are spending entirely too much of our time looking for houses on the internet through the many sites we used including the company's site.  While we know we are pre-qualified for $$$, we have absolutely no intention on spending that much.  We have talked through our budget and will not spend more than $$$ (minus about $25,000 less than what we were approved for) and even still would rather spend around $$$ or less (an additional $15,000 less).  We know that there are several homes out there in the (reasonably priced range for our community) range that would fit our needs and we do not want to look at anything higher than that unless you know the seller is willing to negotiate to our comfort price.  When we hear “highly motivated seller” we expect that they are actually willing to negotiate and not just include items in the property to keep their price high.  (Do the sellers really think by adding a dining room table and a large television...the old school kind, not the flat screen kind...will make me want to pay the full asking price?)  To help aid in the search we have come up with a few items that are “needs” in our home and then a list of “wants.”

We then included a list of eight needs for our home.

An additional six items that included school district preferences and other things that we could potentially live without in our first home.

     As I mentioned before, it is okay if minimal updates need to be made.  We don’t mind painting or doing minor projects.  We hope that this will help in narrowing down the search.  We hope that this relationship will work out but we are at the point where we need to do what is best for our family.  We need to find a home, within our budget, that meets our needs. We need someone that doesn’t push us to our top dollar but is willing to be our advocate when it comes to negotiations.


Anyway, that's the letter we sent off on Sunday.  Just one day later it felt like we had a new agent.  We visited five houses today that covered most of our "needs" and many of our "wants."  One of them may even be a top contender.  We have a few more to look at tomorrow and then I think we'll try and put in another offer. 

Before I go though, I do have to share one more house with you that has taken the number one spot in "Top 10 Memorable Houses."  Yes, it beat out the "Serial Killer House with a Squatter."  Today's most memorable home...

The partially underground smoker home with an infestation of spiders.  So, we came across this home last week and, again, had high hopes for the house.  It was further out of town than we had originally wanted but it had three bedrooms, two baths, great built in shelves, over 2,300 square feet of space, and sat on two acres of land.  We know it would be hard to maintain that much land but it was mostly wooded and thought it would be enough space for a little boy.  We knew ahead of time that it was definitely dated with the large department store mirrors in the bedroom and wood paneling EVERYWHERE but the price reflected these issues. 

It looks a bit like a dental office from the front.

What I didn't realize, when first looking at this home online, was that the house was built partially underground.  It isn't very noticeable until you of course walk around the property.  When we first walked in the agent said there was definitely and odor to the home.  She couldn't pinpoint whether it was just musty or smoke.  Oh, it was smoke...and not just the casual smoker but the kind that smoked there for so long that when you took the pictures off of the wall you can see the nicotine outline of where it was hanging.  Gross! 

Master Bedroom with department store mirrors.  If you look
just down right of the fan you can see the nicotine stains.
Even further down you can see the water stains.

I didn't pay close attention to the pictures online, but after seeing the home you can clearly see the nicotine stains.  Plus, this is the wall in the ground; throughout the entire room you can see the water stains.  Everything shows up so well on the fabric covered wall!  Fabric...on walls!  After seeing this room I told our agent I was finished looking.  I was not going to waste her time or ours looking at a house that we were not interested in.  Of course, the child and husband rush through the house to see the other "jewels" and I book it out as quickly as possible.

Now, on the way out I come across this lovely creature.

Dead but still nasty.

He was thankfully dead.  Yeah, yeah, tarantulas aren't poisonous...but if you are a spider and you are larger my child's hand...I don't care!  So that creeped me out a little bit but it was really the mass of spider webs that I saw when I exited the house that finished me off.  There was the web attached to the garage that was literally the size of a toddler.  Turning the corner to walk towards the car I noticed some green shrubs that were COVERED with webs.  There was at least four or five feet of thick webs.  Seeing this then reminded me of the story I read yesterday about spiders swarming a village in India.  Check out the article here.  Again, I know they aren't the same spiders but it still creeps me out.  Needless to say, as I was researching tarantulas for this entry I did figure out that the webs we saw were tarantula webs.  So, I guess that is the plus side of the house.  You only have to worry about the large spiders...well, and the black widows and brown recluse spiders that seem to creep up everywhere in this state.