Archive for May, 2014


I used to be obsessively clean. I would apologize to visitors who had to “endure” my bathroom if it hadn’t been cleaned at least once in the past week. Even as a teen, my bedroom was SPOTLESS. White glove checks would have been welcome.

This carried on into my married life. When we’d move, I’d find a place for everything and everything would be in its place. Even after I had two kids (barring the few months after giving birth), things were mostly neat and tidy, and I cleaned regularly. I’d go through the kids’ clothes to weed out the too small, or too stained. The dishes got done in short order, and the laundry wouldn’t pile up to monstrous and seemingly insurmountable mounds.

Sounds delightful, right? Well, it came to a horrific end when we had #3. Oh, sure, I still kept things somewhat clean…sort of…but the clutter threatened my sanity at every turn. All in all, it wasn’t a total loss, and I had lovely friends who stepped in, like organizing angels, just in the nick of time.

Then, the death-blow to my former cleanly glory was struck. We moved to the country. I’m not sure if it was the fact that I started a huge garden and so spent more hours doing that rather than cleaning, that the dirt comes in at an alarming pace and I grew tired of trying to out-pace it, or if the kids got old enough to exponentially add to the clutter and I just gave up.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a clean house! But, you want to know what I’ve learned through all this?

If you don’t clean your house (by this I mean let the clutter build up, the bathroom go for longer stretches between cleanings, and the like), when you DO clean it, people (my immediate family included) seem so impressed that they gush over your hard work.

Guess what people never did when I cleaned all the time? You guessed it. Gush. I like gushing. For me, it’s akin to getting a raise or award at a job where one is gainfully employed. I suppose that’s a risk one takes. My mom ran a tight ship and was so good about cleaning that I once told my neighbor that she never washed my towel (you likely have surmised that she washed it and replaced it all in the same day and that I was quite dense…and you’d be right on both counts).

Well, now, when I do deep cleaning (with longer intervals in between), I basically get a medal for my efforts. Sure, I could clean my house for my own satisfaction, but I’m busy blogging right now and I want my daggum medal, thank you very much!

We’ll be moving in a couple of months, back to the city (the word city is a huge stretch, here, but it’s not the middle of nowhere) and I’m hoping I can revive my old desire to keep the house clean just for the sake of having an orderly and clean house.

Even if I do, I can count on my kids to proclaim loudly to the neighbors, church leaders, and anyone else who will listen about how the house is so much cleaner, now. I can only imagine that they’d say something like, “Yeah, mom NEVER used to clean the house.” It’s gonna be great. 😉

 

**Click on the link to the right (or on the title just over there —->) to get my book The Declaration Made Easy!**

I have a friend, Chad Kent, who goes around the country giving talks on the Constitution. He makes it relevant, accessible, and helps anyone and everyone understand it. If you read my blog, you know how much I love the Constitution (and The Declaration…buy my book here), and so does Chad. Read on!

At a time when so many people don’t care too much about current events, it can be hard to explain why the heck our Constitution matters.  Well the Constitution Revolution segment from last week’s Chris Salcedo Show will help you out with that:

Click Here for the Constitution Revolution Segment.

Here is the John Trenchard quote I mentioned in the clip:

“The Experience of every Age convinces us, that we must not judge of Men by what they ought to do, but by what they will do; and all of History affords us but few instances of Men trusted with great Power without abusing it, when with Security they could. […]  For these Reasons, and convinced by the woful and eternal Experience, Societies found it necessary to lay Restraints upon their magistrates or publick servants, and to put Checks upon those who would otherwise put Chains upon them.”

Just like we lock our doors at night to protect ourselves from other people, we need to take steps to protect ourselves from the people in our government.  That’s the idea behind our Constitution – we restrict the power of government because history shows us that if we don’t that power will be used against us.

It’s very simple: we should do our best to protect the Constitution because the Constitution protects us.  Without it, we are at the mercy of the people who run our government.

Don’t forget to listen to the Constitution Revolution LIVE every Saturday on The Blaze Radio!

I was a weird kid, but don’t worry, I grew up to be a weird adult, so it all worked out. Only now, I don’t have random people, who also hold power over me as to whether or not I get to keep writing, judging my writing like a literary agent or publisher – but who won’t pay me any money. Now, I get to keep writing whether I get down-graded or not. Yay!

Back to when I was in middle school: the assignment the teacher gave to the class was a fiction story. There were pretty loose parameters, mostly length, and we were advised, as always, to follow standard grammatical rules, etc. Fine. Well, here’s the deal, I am NOT a fiction writer. Since I had to be, I stepped up and thought of a cool idea.

My story was about a scientist. She was super smart and she had discovered something big about the universe. She was going to present her ideas to some board or panel (not that I knew how scientists actually relayed their ideas at this point, but work with me, I was 12). Anyway, she kept not sleeping well, having horrible nightmares about being choked to death, felt like someone was watching her, but she knew the info to be too important to keep quiet. The day arrived and she was going to present her findings.

What she had uncovered, as only the reader got to find out, was that this universe was actually a portion of a molecule that resided inside some being in another, vast (to us) universe. And, the molecules that we thought so tiny actually contained entire universes. (Side note: when I saw Men in Black, I had the passing thought that, just maybe, they’d stolen my idea, but that’s another story altogether). Please, don’t ask my how she knew, her methodology, or whatever. She was science-y, okay?

Well, when this scientist lady went to reveal all that she had found, she stood up in front of the panel, began to speak, but all of a sudden she was dry in the mouth, saw shadows start to move, and then her throat constricted. It was later reported that she had had a heart attack and died. Mysteriously, all her work had gone up in flames, and no one knew what she was going to reveal. The end.

Now, this may not have been the most gripping story anyone could have written, but my grammar was fine, I met the length requirement, and all other parameters, as requested. But, on my paper, and I kid you not, my teacher wrote that my story was “weird.” I got marked down two grade because of my plot. No joke. I got a “C,” on my fiction paper all because it was weird.

Looking back, that’s not a bad thing. I guess I was just ahead of my time, and she just didn’t have the vision. She’d have called Men in Black “not believable” or something. 😉

 

**Click on the link to the right (or on the title just over there —->) to get my book The Declaration Made Easy!**

The Constitution lays out specific jobs the federal government is supposed to do. Then, it clarifies that it is allowed to ONLY do those things. Both parties have gone way over the line for decades and people have let them do it, probably because the titles of the bills sound good despite their disastrous consequences, and being illegal.

So, what do you call it when the government steps over its limits? It’s called Unconstitutional, no matter the title of the bill.

Click here to listen to Chad Kent lay it out…in just under a minute. Who has one single minute to put toward learning about liberty? YOU DO, that’s who. Click and learn, my friends…click and learn.

In Part II, we ended with me promising to discuss inspection results, pools, and closing costs. Yay!

If there is a problem with the house, now is the time to address it. Your realtor can write an addendum to the offer contract and things can be done a few ways. If you have a VA loan, the addendum will require that the sellers fix the issue(s) before the funding can be given the green light. Depending on your loan type, you might be able to borrow more than the agreed price in order to fund the repairs after closing, or you can buy the house “as is.” If you want to buy a house with foundation and/or roof problems, you’ll likely just need to cough up the entire purchase price in cash. If you are in this position, more power to you!!

At this point, the seller can tell you to take a long walk off a short pier, or they can fix the problem(s). We had an offer on a house that needed about $2,000 of really serious repairs to even be ready to sell. That didn’t include all the cosmetic issues and other problems in the house. Once moved in, IF the seller fixed the major issues, we would have had to replace a sink, re-caulk the master shower, buy new faucets for the master bath, fix or replace some interior doors, etc., etc., etc. We didn’t ask the guy to fix any of that. Just the real necessities, and he balked. Ah, well. I mean, if you are going to put your house on the market, make sure the roof doesn’t leak, the A/C has been serviced (ever), and the drains actually drain. Just throwing that out there…

If the seller decides to cancel the contract because of the request for repairs, you’re out that house. Yup, it can end that quickly. It’s like dancing a really tense tango where you’re not sure if, when your partner dips you, they’ll pull you back up. “Oops! Didn’t mean to drop you, there…” But, I’m assured that most sellers are not interested in losing a sale…except for that one guy.

Anyhoo, let’s presume there is a problem (there will be), that y’all come to an agreement on how to fix it, and things move forward. Now is the time for paperwork! They do things online, for the most part, now, and that’s way cool. My dad, the last house he bought, printed out all the documents to read. He’s old school like that. The point is, the papers, by the end, were literally 3 inches tall when stacked. It’s like reading a bill proposed by Congress, only in this contract, you might get something worthwhile for your money and this agreement is voluntary. Okay! Let’s discuss pools.

If there is a pool on the property, the kids will go nuts. I mean, jumping up and down with glee. And, this is because they don’t have to shell out the hundreds of dollars each month to run the thing (write a check). Nor do they have to pay for the separate pool inspection before closing (write a check). Nor do they have to pay for the repairs on said pool (write a check). After looking for houses, I decided that maybe, just maybe, I’d cross “pool” of the “must have” list and transfer it directly to “reject house upon knowledge of the existence of a pool on the property.” But, then again, none of the houses we looked at seriously had pools, so I was not faced with battling against the long faces of the children upon learning we might not get a house due to the presence of a pool. I may have buckled. But, we’ll never know, so let’s move onto closing costs.

Alright, people, we are getting close to the end of the process. You’ve signed 4,000,000,000 pieces of paperwork, written about 85 checks. and it’s time to make things official, make sure your bank has funded their part of the venture, and you are just about ready to take possession of the house. EXCITING!! What is the one thing you want to do when you are getting ready to get a house? YES!!! Write more checks!

Get that checkbook out and get that comfy pen handy because you’ll be looking at papers that show you thousands of dollars worth of closing costs (fee, charges, surcharges, taxes, escrow account deposits, etc.). Oh, man. You’ll have SO MUCH FUN!!

Okay, maybe not fun, but it’s what you gotta do to get the house. If you have this money, great. If you have a loving parent(s) who is interested in giving you the mother of all housewarming gifts by paying the down payment and/or closing costs, that’s awesome, too. I pray I am able to do that for each of my three kids. Aim high, I always say!

Now, you’ve done the final walk through, written all the checks, and your loan is funded. You get the keys, and look lovingly at your new house. Imagine where you’re going to put everything and which rooms each of the kids get. Then, call the HVAC people because I think your A/C just went out.

 

 

***The craziest thing about the check writing is, while it seems old-fashioned to do so, most items along the way are not able to be paid by credit card, or even debit card. You pay with check or cash. Go figure, in this time of electronic everything else, house buying gets left in the dark ages.***

Last time, we found out that you will either get a home that is totally run down, but in your price range except for the massive overhaul you’ll have to do to make that house a home, or you’ll end up buying a house that is more expensive than you are comfortable with.

You can rejoice, though, because you can QUIT LOOKING FOR HOUSES!! That frees up about 10 hours a day for you to start writing checks! Yay! As it turns out, even if the house you are going to buy is too expensive, revel in the fact that you won’t have to sanitize the entire thing just to move in. It’s a give and take.

Now comes the real craziness that no one prepares a first-time home buyer for. I thought that I had read up on what needed to be done, what would be expected, and such, but there wasn’t really a solid, to-the-point kind of guide, save a Dave Barry book that I thought couldn’t be true because he’s a humorist. He jokes about writing so many checks that they litter the side-walks. That’s crazy. There are only enough to cover the dining room table.

Okay, okay, maybe not that many, but there are checks to be written, and right away.

The first and more important thing that you have to realize about real estate is that you have to enter into a binding contract when you start haggling about the cost of the home. Either side can negate the contract within the first 10-days, presuming you don’t have a dolt for a realtor, but it will cost you money to break the contract within this period of time, even if you back out because the house is lemon and you didn’t find it out until you got an inspection.

The contract thing was a little dizzying, at first. I swear, the legalese sound like this, “THIS IS A LEGALLY BINDING CONTRACT. IF YOU SO MUCH A STEP OUT OF LINE, YOUR SOUL WILL BE BANISHED TO EVERLASTING DARKNESS!” when it, in reality, is basically saying, “Don’t be a dirt-bag. If you say you’ll buy the house, y’all agree on a price, and you make a deal, then, follow through. Don’t say you’ll buy the house and then back out at the last second because you have cold feet or find another house you like better. These people have taken their house off the market for you, and if you get flighty, they might have missed out on a real buyer.” Makes sense, but it’s still a little intimidating.

My beloved realtor, Willita Thompson, was quite patient with us about being so ill-informed, but she deals with this all the time, and so she just stated, as a mater-of-fact, that we needed this money…today. Well, it’s not just her! Everyone else (including former real estate agents) among our friends never once thought to sit us down and say, “Now, you know, you’re going to have to have thousands of dollars to spend to be able to get a loan, right?” If you’ve never bought a house, you’re thinking, “Wait…thousands?” If you’ve bought a house, you’re nodding your head, knowingly.

I’m presuming that people think we know this because they’d like to think that we’d be well-informed, and on the ball. Well, they’d be WRONG. But, that’s another blog, altogether. I mean, NOW we are. But, before we started this whole thing? Not so much.

If you are in that same boat that we were in, after reading this series of blogs, you’ll be all set! So, if you’ve never bought a house before, you’re wondering what option money is. Well, you are asking the seller to take their house off the market while you haggle. This costs you, the buyer, money…usually around $100. Write a check.

Then, you have to prove that you are not some joker that is just being a pest and really has no intention of buying the house. This is called “earnest money,” a befitting name and is around $1,000. Write a check.

Presuming the seller doesn’t laugh your offer into the trash, you have a deal! But, wait, there’s more! You really ought to get the house inspected. Just do it. It’ll cost you about $500, depending on where you are located. Write a check.

Next time: Inspection findings, pools, and closing costs!

 

For many years my husband was in the Air Force and we lived on base. Before that, we were just young, stupid kids who rented and never thought past our 6 month lease. Ah, yes. Back when we “knew everything.”

Then, he separated from the Air Force and, after a time, we were faced with the *exciting* prospect of buying a house. Sounds fun and easy, right?! WRONG. It’s the most perplexing thing I’ve done…and I’ve learned French and successfully filled out insurance paperwork.

First, you have to find a realtor. Thankfully, though I hear this can be arduous, in and of itself, I knew one who is trustworthy and good at her job. I feel like we won the lottery, we are so happy to have a competent realtor. If you are in the San Antonio, Texas area and looking to buy or sell a house. comment below and I’ll give you her name and number. Okay, first job done…now, we just find a house, right?

No. First, you have to decide what kind of house you want and where you want it to be located. Think of the price you can afford to pay, the layout you want, the amenities you must have, and extras you’d like. Take some time, write them all down, and make sure you know exactly what you want.

Now, take that list, crumple it up, and throw it away. Don’t be ridiculous. You think you’ll get any of those things?? Nope. The next step is to  search for houses in your price range, in areas with reasonable property taxes, and maybe a few of the items on your list. You’ll need about 10 hours a day for a few weeks to really get your spirit broken. Once you’ve snapped, give in to reality.

You’re going to find a house that is more expensive than you’d ever expect, in a decent (but not great) neighborhood, and you’ll deal with that galley kitchen, no fireplace, and small rooms with no closets. No, in fact, by the time you find a house, any house, that isn’t currently condemned, you’ll be happier than you ever thought possible.

Then, just when you least expect it, you’ll find a great house, just in the location you wanted, with all the things you wanted…and it will have sold two days ago. So, you’ll go back to putting an offer on the house you are going to buy and the real insanity begins.

Next up: Paperwork and check writing…you’ll be an expert in both!

 

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