Sunday, January 23, 2011


Alright.  I know that when this pregnancy is over, I'm going to be a weepy, nostalgic mess.  I'll only remember the amazingly wonderful sensations of being closer to my baby than I ever will be again and enjoying a relationship with her that is STRICTLY between the two of us.  I will miss the fluttery kicks and lament the passing of my reproductive career.

I'll probably, at some point when I realize that my baby is no longer a baby, start begging for a 5th.  (My husband is under strict orders to anticipate this and to firmly, strongly deny me.)  Just in case that happens, however, I want to remind myself about the less that fuzzy, warm, happy, glow-y aspects of pregnancy... specifically pregnancy in tandem with being the mother of several children already.  It seems that women have a penchant for scrubbing their memories clean of all reminders of these things after the fact, and I want to make sure that I've written down my woes not out of a desire for sympathy, but as a good dose of reality and common sense later on.

You know... as ammo to fight my hormonal wig-out when I wean this little girl or when she sleeps in a big-girl bed for the first time or... *gulp* goes to school for the first time.  (Taking a break here - teary eyed already.  See?)

So, let me state for the record that, at a day shy of 32 weeks, I have lost sight of my feet.  Which is good because they're so dry they'd embarrass any mummy.  They are, in fact, so dry and cracked and gross that I can literally pick laundry up by merely stepping on it.  Like Velcro.  And I'm pretty much powerless against it because they are just.  so.  far.  away. 

I have heartburn.  It drives me nuts and leaves me in utter fear of anything acidic... but I'm so exhausted that I can't function without coffee.  So I eat Zantac like Skittles and hope for the best.  But if I let the heartburn get away from me, I throw up.  But since I'm such a freaking manatee at this point, and since I've birthed so many children in such a short time, I pee when I boot.  So each vomit episode lands me squatting in front of the toilet with a puddle of urine beneath me and I miss the toilet half the time in an effort to avoid stepping in my pee.  And then I'm left sanitizing the bathroom at whatever heinously awful hour of the night this happens. 

I alternate between two outfits.  Two.  And I'm usually so tired by the end of the day that I sleep in my clothing.  It makes a very awkward laundry rotation.

Jack and I have conversations that go like this: "Mom, your belly button is a huge hole." "I know, Jack, that's because your baby sister has stretched it out."  "My belly button is small.  If I get fat like you, will mine grow too?" 

Justin and I have conversations like this: "Do you..." "No."

Jordan and Addie are sick of sitting on my lap because they're sick of my lap kicking them off.  Or punching them off... I'm not sure which.

My husband uses verbs like, "thundering" to describe how I move across a room.   (That may or may not have a direct impact on the outcome of the conversation I described above.)

I am constantly starving but I can eat about a teaspoon of food before I feel either full or the heartburn comes back and I have to try to empty my bladder as quickly as possible...

...which isn't usually a huge problem since I make a pit-stop every 7.25 minutes anyway.

Things aren't where they should be.  I'll leave it at that.

And I am not one of those lucky pregnant women who get gorgeous hair and nails and skin... I turn into some kind of alligator-woman with frizzy fluff on my head. 

Every time I bend down and realize I've had to spread my feet apart to reach the floor, the grunt required to pull myself back to standing is half effort and half disgust. 

I miss being able to roll around on the floor with my littles and I miss having a lap big enough to accommodate two toddlers for a story.  I miss being able to hug Jack without having him ask me to please smush my boobs down because they get in the way.  I miss being nimble and spry (ish) and 100% on my game for them. 

Of course, I will miss all of this... this miracle of life.  I will.  I am blessed to be able to whine about it and blessed that God has chosen me to bear His children.  I am.  I know that... I just don't want to get too caught up in all the good and forget the bad and wind up doing it all over again - good and bad - because I've convinced myself and my husband that it's a terrific idea.

Because, uh, at this point, it sounds like a horrible idea.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Justice is Ours!

My husband and I are principled people.  We really try to do the right thing and treat others the way we'd want to be treated and so on and so forth.  The truth is important to us.  As are rules.  And laws? They're not suggestions to us - they're absolutes.  And we hold others to that standard too. Because that's what keeps society functioning.

That's why we got so absolutely beyond pissed off when our landlord from Virginia decided he was going to charge us extra money out of our deposit following our move-out.  So pissed off, in fact, that we took him to court.  For more money than we were owed.  Including a road trip with 5 people 14 hours away.

Did I say we were pissed?

Let me back up:

I won't get too far into our relationship with this particular individual.  Let's just say he wasn't one of our favorite people of all time and as landlords go, well... we, as landlords ourselves, made sure to learn how NOT to treat our tenants from him. He had a history of hearing about a problem and, instead of saying, "Well, let me see what I can do for you," would say, "What did YOU do to my _____?".  Things were always someone else's fault or issue or problem and it was pretty obvious that he was not one to accept much responsibility for anything. Like the roach and rodent problem we had.  Once, we had a problem with the plumbing beneath the sink for the second time and instead of saying, "Wow, this has been a recurring problem for you guys, let's see if we can find a permanent solution to it," Mr. Landlord accused us of not knowing how to use a kitchen sink and told us that we'd better figure out how to fix it ourselves.  We were pretty sure the problem was wear and tear on an old plumbing system, but he berated us and called us irresponsible and stupid.  So, a few trips to Lowe's, a few hours spent on Google, and we had the whole plumbing apart... the result?  A broken washer between two pipes.  The cause?  Wear and tear.  Mr. Landlord's response? Silence.  No thanks, no apology, nothing.

Leading up to our move-out, we anticipated some issues with him so we really busted our hineys to get the house and yard into top shape.  We'd like our tenants to leave our house in pristine condition, so we put an extraordinary amount of effort into re-landscaping the yard, spending two weekends and over $300 on the project.  I cleaned the house and polished every inch of wood in the 3-story structure.  We repaired simple things and purchased replacement bulbs for EVERY single bulb - burned out or not - in the home and left behind two replacement filters for each air intake in the house.

When we asked him when he wanted to do the move-out inspection, for which we wanted to be present, he told us he'd have to schedule it for two weeks after we were scheduled to move due to him being out of town.  Since that was unacceptable, we asked that it be moved up and we got into a series of back-and-forth calls and emails until he finally consented to walk through the house with us the morning of our departure.  He at one point asked in an email what I was so concerned about.  I replied that I was worried that he would charge us for the screens on the porch being ripped out during a big storm and for some loose electrical outlets, and for the kitchen faucet which was loose as a result of it being the wrong size for the hole in the sink.  He responded that he thought I should fix the screens myself and that he was aware of the kitchen sink issue.  So we proceeded as normal.

On the morning of the move-out inspection, we walked through the whole house with Mr. Landlord who had a piece of paper with his name and address on it, in addition to a statement that said, "I am charging the tenant the following amounts of money for the following items which will be deducted from their deposit" followed by 10 spaces for things to be written.  He charged us $50 for a spot on the hardwood floor that needed repair and drew a line through the remaining 9 spaces.  He signed the sheet and handed it to us after complimenting me and thanking me for fixing the screens as he had asked.

So we expected roughly $1200 to be returned to us.  Two months later, we got a check for $750 and a letter that was written in 3rd grade English about how he thought it was unfair that he walked through the house a month after we moved out and found that the screens had torn loose again and that the sink faucet was also loose.  He said he charged us for those repairs in addition to some repair of some door or another.

When we attempted to contact him to discuss this egregious claim, he refused to answer his phone.  We asked him to please return our phone call or we would have to involve an attorney.

He didn't, so we did.

And after paying a $500 retainer (keep in mind we were only owed $450) we had legal counsel filing a warrant in debt on our behalf.

Following a little bit of back-and-forth and Mr. Landlord asking for a continuance, we had a court date set for mid-November. At one point he contacted our attorney with a settlement offer - saying he'd be willing to pay us half of the $450. 

We rejected it.

As we explained to our lawyer from the outset of all of this, the issue wasn't about money.  It wasn't a dollar amount that we desperately needed for day-to-day function.  It was about the fact that an individual in a position of power abused the knowledge that we were leaving town.  He took advantage of our situation, knowing that we were moving and recognizing how difficult that it would be for us to return.  He gambled on $450 being pretty close to as much as he could get without much fuss... unfortunately for him, $20 would have been too much.  We are fortunate enough to have resources and the ability to fight him; what upset us was thinking of the countless other military families to whom Mr. Landlord caters that may also have been exploited - past and present.  We saw it as our duty to pursue this as a way of enforcing consequences. 

During the actual trial, Mr. Landlord tried to insist that Justin and I deliberately tried to hide the condition of the sink and screens, and we countered with the emails exchanged between us that stated that Mr. Landlord was aware of the sink issue.  As to the screens, I explained that the primary issue was that there are no gutters on the house so water pours down the outside and has warped the wood lathing that pinches the screen against the support structure of the porch.  If that wood is warped, it can't hold the screens tightly.  I told him as much during our walk-through and he scoffed at me when I said I believed the screens would probably tear again without major work... which is outside the scope of my responsibility as a tenant. 

Since Mr. Landlord was acting as his own attorney, he got to cross examine me which amounted to little more than attempted browbeating and was met with my sweetest smiles, plenty of "Sir"'s and as much politeness as I could muster.  I kindly pointed out that, as landlords ourselves, if I were going to do a move-out inspection with a tenant who had raised two problems prior to the walk-through, I'd probably inspect those areas first and most thoroughly.  Mr. Landlord, however, claimed that he did not notice the sink issue until his NEW tenants called him and stated the sink did not work.  To that, I responded that I did not think he could hold us responsible since, according to the signed document from our walk-though, we were clear of the house and that there was no way to claim that WE had damaged anything... and that it was more probable that Mr. Landlord himself had inflicted the damage (if any existed) or that the new tenants had broken something.

After some fairly absurd back-and-forth between us and Mr. Landlord, the judge finally felt we had each stated our positions in enough depth and awarded us our $450 plus $250 in attorney's fees and ordered Mr. Landlord to pay the filing fee for the suit and the whole thing was entered as a judgment on Mr. Landlord's credit.

At that point, we felt a hollow victory, as the judgment still required that we follow up to collect our money... either by garnishing his wages or placing liens against his property, etc. and that would only be possible AFTER Mr. Landlord had filed his appeal, if he chose to do so.  Immediately following the trial he said he intended to file an appeal, which would have required another trip to Virginia.  So we sat in limbo for awhile.  Although our attorney assured us that the cost of filing the appeal, combined with the fact that our case was so solid would be prohibitive to Mr. Landlord's efforts to fight the judgment, we had seen how stubborn, arrogant and ignorant the guy could be.

As it is, the judgment itself serves as a bigger punishment than the cash awarded us.  It stays on a person's credit for 7-10 years, even if it is paid, and can drop a credit score 150 points in one fell swoop.  For an individual involved in purchasing property for a living, that's a pretty hefty consequence for dishonesty, and we feel pretty good about that.  It'll be hard to justify taking the chance in the future with his tenants, considering he's got 7-10 years to wait before his credit score will recover.  Thankfully, we received a check in the mail recently for the full amount of the suit which means it's over for us.  It means we don't have to deal with an appeal and we can finally close that chapter of our lives.  And it means that he's finally seen reason. 

So, we got our justice.  We fought for what we thought was right, even though it was a pain in the ass.  Even though we felt a little absurd for going to the lengths we did over a sum of money as paltry as $450. 

The end.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Black and White Wednesday

Alright y'all I'm back.  It's a new year.  I'm going to be better about blogging.  Really.  I slacked big time at the end of last year.  And the first part of this year.  I'm sorry!  I owe you a ton of posts.  One of the big ones is about our lawsuit.  It'll be fun - like reading a Law & Order script... or... realistically, a Judge Judy script.  (Is Judge Judy scripted? I feel  like it has to be.)   We're also poised to close on the house at the end of the month, so that's super exciting and I need to put pictures of the progress up.  Um, for that matter, I need to go SEE the house - it's been since Christmas!

I have some amusing stories for you and some other junk that will make you smile, but for now, I'll leave you with a photo from our recent trip to Orlando... the iconic Disney castle in the Magic Kingdom.  I'll tell you all about the trip soon - promise!

(Sorta makes me feel all Princess-y... and I am NOT a Princess-y person.  At all.)

Link up and have a great day!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Out of the Office

... for a week while I enjoy spending time with family and Mickey in Florida!  Back soon to tell you all about our magical Christmas, my hopes and dreams for 2011, and of course, all about our Disney adventure.

I hope everyone is enjoying the year thus far and had a safe and happy New Year!


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