Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A morning out

Today we had to take Tayla to a quick doctor's appt. When we were leaving, the doctor asked Miana to give her five. Miana wasn't paying much attention and instead of giving the doctor a "high five" she smacked her in the face. That was great.
Then we were off to the store. Tomorrow is Carter's birthday so I let him pick out a few things for dessert this week. He got cookies to take to school tomorrow, a chocolate mint pie for dessert tomorrow, and a cake mix and frosting for me to make him a cake for Saturday when we have some family over. While we were doing self check out ( the only lane with no one in it) I asked Carter to bag the groceries while I scanned them. Miana climbed out of the cart and decided to "help." After she pulled off (and pulled apart) an entire group of plastic bags, I finally got her back into the cart. We finished up and left as quickly as we could.
In the car, Carter started doing math problems. Lately, he has been showing off by challenging himself to harder problems. After figuring out what 102 + 103 was, he decided to ask me a question...

Carter: What's donkey + donkey?
Me: 2 donkeys
Carter: Wrong. Double donkey. (he chuckles) What's donkey + donkey + donkey + 4?
Me: That depends, does the 4 mean 4 more donkeys or is it just the number 4?
Carter: 4 more donkeys.
Me: Then the answer is 7 donkeys.
Carter: No, it's 4 donkeys and 1 squirrel. You were wrong.
Me: Oh, I didn't know that there was a squirrel.
Carter: Well, there was a squirrel.

I now know that 3 individual donkeys equal 1 squirrel and can not be combined with the 4 additional donkeys to equal 2 squirrels and 1 donkey, that would be incorrect. Also, 4 donkeys do not equal 2 double donkeys, that is also incorrect. Good to know.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tonight's Homework Assignment: Probability

For Spencer's homework, tonight's assignment read: What is probability? Write down something that is "certain," something that is "possible," and something that is "impossible."

I wanted to make sure he understood the concepts so I thought of an example. I said, "Let's pretend that you have a bag of M&Ms. It only has blue ones and green ones. If you reach into the bag and pull something out, what is certain that you will get?

Let's take a break and explain what I was looking for... I am looking for "it is certain that you will get M&Ms, it is certain that you will get a blue or a green, etc." When I ask about possible the answers should be "green" or "blue." For impossible, I am looking for an answer like, "a red one, a yellow one, etc." Now back to my question:

Let's pretend that you have a bag of M&Ms. It only has blue ones and green ones. If you reach into the bag and pull something out, what is CERTAIN that you will get?

Spencer looks up at me and with all seriousness replies, "You will get fat."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Headaches, Hassles, and Hammers: Beginning the Basement

Sometime near the end of February, Dave said to me: I think we should refinance our house and take out money to finish the basement. We did a little research and it appeared as if we might actually be able to do it if the price was right. We guessed (and really, it was a guess) that it would cost around $25,000-30,000 to finish it. We set up appointments with 3 contractors. We liked the first one (Thursday night visit), loved the second one (Friday night visit), and third canceled because his daughter was in the hospital (Saturday morning visit.) On Monday morning, we got our first estimate back $47,000 but he would take off $2000 if we wanted to do the painting ourselves. Um... Wow! The next day we got the next estimate back, it was under $35,000 for everything we could possibly want including some custom built-in shelves. This was from the contractor we liked better anyway! We called several references and each time we were told, "We had to hire him to fix what another guy messed up, we wish we had just hired him from the beginning." One lady invited us to her home to show us what he had done for her. His attention to detail and creativity were astounding. We decided to go with him. We were told by several people afterwards that we could probably finish our basement for less. We told them that we know, but we are paying for peace of mind, quality of work, and Dave not needing to do any of the work (his time is much too valuable to me.) So, he put together a contract and set March 15th as the start date. We called the bank to find out if they would refinance us - nope, they need our loan to be only 75% of the worth of our home (we didn't know exactly the percentage, but knew it was more than that.) We called the financial division of our insurance company - nope, they had a maximum of 80%. We knew we would be between 80-85% so that wasn't flexible enough for us and both of these companies wanted $9000 in closing costs, something we just didn't have. Finally, I remembered a comercial I had heard years back about a company that did no closing cost loans. Basically, they give you a slightly higher rate on the loan so that they don't have to charge an origination fee. But, that's not what the comercial claimed nor is that what their website says. Both say, "No Closing Costs." I spoke with the broker assigned to us and asked very specifically about the closing costs. I was told that there were no closing costs. When my husband got home from work, we spoke with him again, this time we asked about the closing costs and were told that our only out of pocket expense would be the appraisal fee of $400, that everything else would be rolled into the loan. Everything else? The next day, I spoke with him again, asking for clarification I was told that there are some fees that are standard and can't be helped, he quoted those to me and said that they just don't charge an origination fee. Feeling like he had adequately answered my questions and that his closing costs were significantly lower than the other companies, we quickly proceeded to gather the required documentation. On Friday, we received some paperwork in the mail. The numbers just didn't add up. Also, there was a $1800 origination fee listed. When I questioned him about it, he said he would look into it and let me know. I felt uneasy the entire weekend. I felt like he was trying to pull one over on us. I just couldn't shake the feeling. Late Sunday night, Dave and I said we would contact a couple more brokers on Monday to see what they could do for us as a back up. Monday was 2 weeks before our expected start date on the basement, I was getting nervous. We found a broker that had worked with my dad and he was very responsive to us and promised that we could close, "within 2 weeks." Feeling more at ease with the situation, we called and canceled the other broker. He called back the next day to find out why we had cancelled. I wasn't home at the time and when I got home, I quickly sent him an email, explaining that although he was very pleasant and easy to work with we were uncomfortable with the claim of "no closing costs" that somehow included thousands of dollars worth of closing costs and that simply rolling them into the loan was not the same thing as not charging them to us. I asked him if he would please submit the refund for the appraisal that we had paid for but had not been done. He sent me a very hateful email telling me that it was not his fault if I didn't understand the difference between a "no points loan" and "no closing costs" and that he had only ever claimed that we not going to pay points on our loan. What?? That email was the first step in a 4 week nightmare. Although he agreed in his email to refund our $400, he did not do it. I had to email him 2 more times before he finally did it. Our new mortgage broker did not request our appraisal to be done as a rush, so, even though we got our information to him on Tuesday, we did not hear from the appraiser until Friday to set up and appointment, he was not able to come until the following Tuesday and would not get his report turned in until Thursday or Friday. That Friday, we did not hear from the appraiser but we did receive a letter from Title Company saying that our closing was scheduled for March 25th in Woodbridge (2 hours away.) I frantically called to find out why we weren't closing as close to March 15th as possible and why we were closing at a location 2 hours away. I was told that it was a form letter and that they would work towards having us close closer to home and closing sooner. The whole thing still had me very nervous. On Tuesday morning (the day after we were supposed to start work on the basement,) we finally heard back from the appraiser. Good news! The house appraised high enough so we could do a conventional loan and cover all of our closing costs, phew! Finally some good news. I was assured that the loan would be passed onto underwriting and that we could close by the end of the week so we should go ahead and sign the contract. We signed a contract with the contractor and paid him his down payment with the promise of being able to afford the basement by the end of the week. He required a sizeable payment on the first day of work. He set his start date as March 25. More good news. We would be able to close this week, get the money in the account, and then have him start. On Wednesday afternoon, I still hadn't heard anything on a close date and time so I called the broker. He said he would call me back. I found out on Thursday that the loan still hadn't gone through to underwriting. I was told to call his manager if I had any questions. The manager told me that Friday was going to be our broker's last day with that company and that he (the manager) would be taking over our loan. I was frustrated and angry. After several more phone calls I was told that we would close until Wednesday at the latest and that the money would not be available to us until 3 full business days after our closing. On Monday, I still hadn't heard anything on being able to close. I called our new broker and he said he was sorry for the delays and would give us a lower interest rate to say sorry. On Tuesday afternoon (we are now 3+ after contacting this company who assured us we could close "within 2 weeks") I received a phone call from the processer telling me that she had just barely submitted my loan to underwriting and that we should hear something by Friday. WHAT!?!?! We were promised just last week that we would be closing NO LATER THAN Wednesday. I called our new broker. He assured me that this was not the first time the loan had been submitted and that this was a resubmit and that he could have the loan papers to the title company within 20 minutes after approval and be all set for closing anytime after that. I told him that was not what she had indicated and he said he would call me back. An hour or so later, I got a phone call... this was the first time it had been submitted. It had sat for an entire week without anyone doing anything on it. That's not an exageration. Tuesday to Tuesday. No one can account for any work that was done on it during that time. He again appologized, gave me the new loan rate and said he would try to get it through underwriting quickly. It was approved Wednesday afternoon and ready to go. I immediately contacted the Title company to set up our appointment to close. She said she needed to contact the closing agent to set it up and asked for my schedule on Thursday and Friday. I told her Thursday was much better because Friday was a really crazy day, with me being busy from 12:30pm-3pm and absolutely could not change that. Thursday morning, she finally emailed me to tell me that she was about to call the closing agent. Late that afternoon, she called me to tell me that he was ONLY available on Friday afternoon and wanted to know if we could close at 1pm on Friday. What?!? Why did you ask for my schedule if you were going to totally disregard it. I had a doctor's appt. for 2 of my kids that day and would not be able to change them. She finally said that he could come at 4pm. On Friday, at 1pm, I got a call on my cell phone asking if we could move the close time to 2pm. Um, no, the soonest I can be home is 3pm, as I stated in my email. He said, "great, I will be there at 3pm." Um, okay. I will rush home. I walked into my house literally 3 minutes before he pulled into the driveway. I didn't have time to tidy the house or anything! We closed on Friday at 3pm. That's Friday, March 26th. Nearly 4 weeks after first contacting a company that said they could close within 2 weeks. We didn't get our money into our account until the following Wednesday. It's sooo frustrating. But now we have our money, the basement has been started, and we have paid off our van. It's sooo nice! Yay! It's all over!!