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Friday, June 28, 2013

17 Months

We closed escrow on Wednesday. We're moving July 5th. Renters move into the Kooky Kottage on July 9th. Things are busy, but we're into action mode now, so I'm hoping the stress levels are going to start to reduce. For the past month, the stress has been off the hook.

Our offer was accepted just before Memorial Day weekend, complicating things a bit. For better or worse, our mortgage lender didn't lock a rate on that Friday. When he got ready to lock it in the following week, rates had risen a half percent. Alarm bells sounded as we looked at the dollars on the docs he sent for us to sign. This was easily going to cost about $250 more per month than we'd planned. We contacted a broker I'd worked with before and she could get us a rate at 3.87% instead of 4.25%. That's huge. But we'd been working with the other person, a family friend, for months. But $250 is a lot of money every month. But we'd lost a week in this scramble of documents with incorrect data and so on, so a change at this point was pretty late in the game. Escrow is typically 30 days because it usually takes about 30 days to complete. We were already behind. And I suck at "Well, it's just business." because it's never just business. That's a statement that you make to ignore the fact that you're screwing someone in the name of your own benefit. It is business, but it's also people. Still, $250 was the difference between getting by and being house-poor, so we had to do it.

Then came 3 1/2 weeks of dealing with a persnickety lender who had a passionate love for pointless detail and a penchant for coming up with a list of things they needed at 4 p.m., leading a to constant struggle to get everything they needed in the last hour of the business day. That form 4560? Yeah, it came through the fax blurry. Can you sign a new copy and send again? The insurance on your current house? Yeah, I need all the mortgage statements back to the last time that was paid from escrow, last July. That account? Yeah, you can't use money in that account. That's the wrong kind of account. Every day felt like waiting for the call from the broker for a new set of bizarre tasks. But, we kept jumping the hurdles, and the only thing that was really injured was our patience, which led to some unfortunate sniping at one another over really trivial stuff because one thing said with a slightly wrong tone was enough to push us over the edge. This culminated at the loan signing where the lender specified that all 0s had to be closed loops, but that if we missed and overshot or failed to close it, we had only one spare copy we could fix it on. And also, all of the 13s at the end of the date had to have space between the 1 and the 3 so that it couldn't be mistaken on all of those lines that called for a Date, because y'know, people put a B there instead to try to defraud you. Totally.

Just when we were set to close escrow, there was another delay. The lender had 48 hours to review the signed loan documents. The notary didn't get them the docs until Friday afternoon, though they were signed the day before, meaning they then had til Tuesday afternoon to review. Also, the notary was required to provide evidence of Errors and Omissions Insurance, an insurance notaries carry. She provided evidence that expired in 2012. When asked again, she provided evidence that expired in March 2013. Finally, she got it together, but it was too late. We'd missed our opportunity to close on time. The loan was funded on Tuesday, but the sale was recorded on Wednesday. (For this, we paid her $150. I'm a little grumpy about that.)

But now it's done! Yay!

And also in the past few weeks, Athena has continued to amaze. She now routinely says Hi in addition to the Bye Byes and Blow Kisses she's done for months. She is a bubble maniac and we have to find a place to hide the bubbles out of sight in the new place because on the shelf where they are now means we almost never make it out of the house without pleas for "Bubbles?"

There's a list I belong to at Stanford call Parent-Net and this time of year it becomes a huge swap meet for kids stuff as folks move out after finishing grad school. In this case, I saw something I hadn't heard of before: a bubble mower. I investigated, and thought, "Yeah, she could do that." I showed it to Erik and he said, "Oh yeah, I loved my bubble mower as a kid." But the one on Parent-Net was gone already. But I couldn't stop myself from thinking about it. Erik wanted to order a copy of Arcadia after we went to see it, and I said, "Sure, but get a Bubble Mower while you're on Amazon too, okay?" He smiled and agreed and two days later it arrived just in time for Gigi-Karen's visit. Then Athena proceeded to spend the next few days getting to know the neighbors as she ran the bubble mower up and down our street. Getting cold at the end of the day? Too bad, must bubble mower! Getting hungry? Don't care - mower! Getting sunburned? "Wiroo wiroo!" (That's her imitating the sound of the mower.) She's a bubble mower maniac. We went through a quart of bubbles in a week.

Meanwhile, our next door neighbor Ray is working as a mover these days. At one of the houses he moved recently, someone left behind a Little Tikes car. Athena LOVES these cars. So she's going up and down the street with her mower and Ray asks if she'd like the car, because she can have it. I say, "Oh yeah." and get the back story. He sets it down and she drops the mower like yesterday's news and is into the car in seconds, doing her best Fred Flintstone paddle down the sidewalk. This girl wants for nothing. And y'know what? I'm going to miss my neighbors and my little Kooky Kottage quite a bit. The neighborhood has had it's challenges, but my house has never been broken into, no package has ever been stolen, and I have fabulous neighbors I can really count on. Kim and Diego (and Diego's mom two doors down) are great. Ray (and Adela and Rudy before the fire) has always been kind and generous.  My house is bigger than it's square feet imply and Athena's room is a triumph of fabulous decoration and efficiently used space. As I type this, I'm sitting on the back deck, Athena finishing her nap in the car, as the sunlight fades and the evening breeze blows in, rustling through the trees. I love walking to Naglee Park Garage and having easy access to a host of freeway options. I just picked about 40 pounds of fruit from the peach/plum tree I planted and shared it out. The apples won't ripen before we go, so we'll miss them this year. Erik's thornless blackberry vines are just starting to climb the back fence and our garage stands sturdy and strong, ready to face another 40 years.

So Karen came to visit once again, finding us both totally on edge. She sat up in the attic and helped Erik pack up. She tore through our garage, insisting we get rid of some things rather than move them. She boxed up everything we let her and sent us out to see the Star Trek movie we'd been missing. She got up every morning with Athena and let us lounge in bed while she got her dressed and fed and then played with her til we had lounged all we could. That alone was worth everything. It's always such a joy to have her come stay with us. I look forward to her next visit.

This weekend - packing and painting! Let's go!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Science News!

Well, I just hit the wall of too many tabs open and too much stress and one thing I can do is close tabs by posting fabulous science news. So yay!

I've always wondered why previously competent adults seem to fail at judging scams when they get older. Turns out, a particular piece of their brains may be degrading: the anterior insula. Where as I can easily pick out the scam email or the salesman who's trying to sell me more than I need, this seems to go away as people age. So yeah, that it's documentable is good, but also a bummer, as it means it will likely happen to me too. That's more than a little scary as I live a life of many astute judgements every day.

Then there was the viral ad campaign from Dove about "You're more beautiful than you think." Then there was the online backlash about how it was all mostly white women and how it should've shown more diversity. This tripped a little mental sensor for me. What if it wasn't that there weren't any women of color in the group of subjects. What if it's that the white women were just more down on their appearance. Turns out, Scientific American posted an article about how we actually perceive ourselves as more attractive than others perceive us. Sad, but true, even if the Dove ad is a lovely thought.

Sunscreen. I wear a basic broad spectrum SPF 15 moisturizer on my face and chest every single day. Some folks wonder whether a generation from now, they'll find out sunscreen on your skin is as risky as just getting the sun. Simply, no. But there are some things to keep in mind when picking sunscreen. This is a well-assembled list. The item I didn't know? Avoid spray sunscreens. The inhalation risks are high.

I loved reading about the Neaderthal with bone cancer. It seems like cancer kills the most people I know, so it seems like it's more prevalent than it used to be. I suspect that's just because we've mitigated the risk of death from so many other things - bacterial infections, especially. Our DNA has always been prone to replication errors. But what's so much more awesome is that we're starting to get to the point where we may be able to move beyond basic chemotherapy and radiation. The story of Emma, her certain death from leukemia, and of reprogramming the AIDS virus to kill her cancer is just the most amazing thing I can imagine. It is why we do science. And her blog has adorable pictures of a happy little girl, playing with her dog, finishing 2nd grade.
UPDATE: There's a rather histrionic rebuttal to the video. It's interesting, because what the author says  was implied wasn't what I got at all. They took a virus built off of HIV, harvested her cells, and infected it with the engineered virus. Not once did I think they gave this girl AIDS to cure her cancer, nor did I get that implication anywhere, so I'm not sure why the author has such a big bee in his bonnet. Oh well.  Just thought I'd pass on the update in case anyone else was unclear (or thinking me deceived).

We're supposed to close escrow today. The lender is taking their sweet time though we signed off all documents on Thursday. The fumigators are coming between 2-4 p.m. to tent for termites. We *may* have keys in time. Maybe. And there's pretty much nothing I can do about it.

Monday, June 10, 2013

16 1/2 Months

Quick update, because I just can't help myself.

First, Athena seems to have totally grown out of her size 4 shoes. What fit fine just a few short weeks ago are now really tight. Our wee miss is now due for size 5s. The white Robeez she got from Gigi-Karen at Christmas have been nearly worn through, but other shoes will have to be handed down to others. It's amazing how fast she grows, even now when she's still wearing a few dresses that she's been wearing for nearly 9 months now, but the shoes that seemed comically large in February are now too small.

Second, she has now said her first two-word sentence: "Bye bye kitties!" The first time, I told Erik what she said. Then she did it again the next day. Yesterday she said, "Bye bye Dada." to Erik. These are the moments that just melt you into a puddle.