Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Closed Door on Open House Policy

So Day 10 rolls around as our little house practically sparkles, it so clean. Many cars have rolled past, barely creeping along the street, then take off again. Conversation with friends and family begins with "So have you had anybody go through the house yet?"

And the answer is "No". The Big Guy and I aren't sure if we should take it personally or not, but at the risk of being a micro manager, I include this vein of conversation with our agent. After clearing the air about some other matters, I ask....

"So, what should we expect with regard to bookings? Like is there a ration per week or per month?"

"No, it varies," he assures me.

"Ok, well what do you think about having an Open House?" I continue. This was put to me by my sister-in-law who has done the buy/sell thing a couple of times.

"In 25 years of selling Real Estate, I have yet to sell a house at or because of an Open House. In urban areas, it's pretty much the ONLY way to buy a house. People actually go out to shop for houses by going to Open Houses. In my opinion, it's just a chance for your neighbors to come in and nose around your stuff. But if you really want to do the Open..."

"Uh - NO." I state firmly. "You got me at "nosy neighbors".

He tells me we will be in the next edition of the paper, which apparently always generates interest (Who knew? Certain not me!) and tells me he expects I'll have a viewing at some point in the next couple of days.

Sure enough - yesterday the message was left that people want to see our house. OUR HOUSE!! We all do a little happy dance and then reality sets in. We have to orchestra an INCREDIBLY efficient evening if we are going to pull this off. Meetings, swimming lessons, ball games - we have to weave these all in between strangers coming to look at our stuff!!!! The Big Guy and I orchestra a massive touch up to get the house in tip top shape, and we fall in to bed around midnight, wondering what the odds are of the first people going through the house making a decent offer.

Cuz I don't know how long we can keep the house this clean!

Friday, June 11, 2010

So....NOW what do you want to do?

If I close my eyes, I am back on the front steps of the house. You can't stand on that little porch any more because we put a much larger deck across the front.

I remember walking into the house and the furniture was all over the place, randomly positioned. There was a strange glow to everything - like the lighting was wrong and there was a haze in the air. I was convinced this was April, but apparently, it was November!

Each room had it's own unique look - pink shag with hot pink walls in one room, matching green shag and walls in another, so naturally, the third room was blue. There was no character to the house. It was just over 1,000 sq ft. and from the outside, looked like a big peach box with a bright "Farmer Green" roof. The main living area was an odd shade of Harvest Yellow that matched the rather dated linoleum floor in the kitchen and the dark brown shag carpet adjacent to it. Once we moved in, we would soon realize the walls were actually off-white. The nicotine stains from the farmer's heavy smoking had stained all the walls with a very antique layer of crap that had to be scrubbed off before we started to paint.

I was keen to buy, not because it was a fabulous piece of real estate (mind you the lot was HUGE by town comparisons - but nary a tree for privacy.) but because The Big Guy wouldn't set a date for the wedding until we had a house. He was afraid people would think we weren't going to start life off right if we didn't have a home. The plan was to rent it out for a year or so, then freshen it up for our new life together. (Don't get me going on the perils of waiting 2 years and 2 months to get married!)

We came back the next day - because this particular house was going to be sold by AUCTION. The family of the late owner, a farmer...surprise, surprise....had his entire estate ready to spread out on the lawn.

The Auctioneer stopped the bidding twice because the minimum asking price was not reached. We recognized two of the opposing bidders and fumed - more retired farmers with more coin than we hoped to have in a lifetime - bidding up this plain little house. The Big Guy had veins popping all over the place - could have been because he'd never bid on anything in his entire life, never mind a HOUSE! I removed myself from the stress by walking the lot and spending a lot of time in the area where our children now have a sandbox.

Finally, we got the winning bid. We were home owners. It was a combination of wanting to jump up and down and scream, and projectile vomit.

We became a couple at this house. We became a family here too. We raised plants, dogs and then kids. When we outgrew the house, we adding roughly 200 sq ft. and made the plain little house a smart little bungalow, complete with a custom kitchen and massive master bedroom with en suite bathroom.

We entertained friends here. Had our babies first birthdays here. Their heights are marked on the stud in the basement. The Big Guy has fixed all the quirky things about the house and he knows where all the pipes are buried.

But today, it's going on the real estate market.

And - maybe nothing will happen. It's truly a fishing expedition. We have found another house, that needs some love and attention, but there is more space for TBG's modest landscape business. It's in a beautiful area of town with views in three directions. I've always liked the idea of being up on a hill - to see far away from where I am. I also want to live on the water. Not sure how to make this work - but given the river is not far from either of these houses - I'm going to take it!

First Born Son and Second Born Son are equally jazzed at the idea and have tackled their rooms with a zeal rarely seen. I will spend the weekend packing up personal photos and items that should not be left lying around when strangers come through your home.

As I signed the paperwork to list the house, I had an instant flashback to the day I signed the paperwork to buy the house - two feet away from where I was sitting. Life is an interesting journey and if this is meant to be, it will be.

If not, I will gladly hunker down in my little house for many more years.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Royal Wedding - Part II Recap - The Saga Continues

All perched on the stairs, the girls did well. Then the music starts - Soul Sister by Train. Unorthodox, yes. Perfect for LS and her groom. Each girl slips down the aisle and takes her place, then LS glides down the aisle.

As long as I've known her, she's had a nervous giggle. She laughs at the most inopportune times. And there she was, a vision of blonde curls and champagne colored fabric smiling and giggling her way down to her groom. We later learn that there is a bet between my two nieces on who will cry first - the bride or the groom. It's pretty much a tie as the groom steps forward to bring her to the minister.

The Pastor is a long-time friend of the family, who immediately puts everyone at ease. He infuses humor and radiates sincerity. The Best Man, who is the father of the groom, appreciates the sense of humor and rests on a strategically placed stool so he can participate in the ceremony, but still be comfortable. Mid way through the service the Ring Bear - the Groom's son, has to pit stop, but makes it back in time for the Family Vows the Bride and Groom have each written. Following the marriage vows, exchange of rings and "the kiss" - we sign the register and the minors follow their parents to a table set up behind the Pastor. Each one has a vial of colored sand and each member of the family pours the sand into a larger vase, signifying the joining of two families.

Finally, it's done. We leave the church and congregate on the steps of the building for a group shot. And another. And another. Then it's the groom's family - and another, and another, and....I lose track. The Bride's family gets in for a shot or two, then the bridal party is hauled off to an orchard where the photographer makes the group jump through dandelions while navigating thistles and at this point I'm resigned to thinking - these dresses are friggin' toast.

After more than a hour of photo time, I take the kids back to the hall where the caterer is patiently waiting. With the service starting late and running a little longer than estimated, we are now over 45 minutes behind. I was given the impression the Bride & Groom are soon to follow and we carry on, and watch the clock mark another 20 minutes. I'm about to get back in the car to locate them, when they walk in the door.

In spite of the huge delay, dinner is excellent. The hall is beautiful with stone and timber accents, wrought iron fixtures and a lovely feeling of the medieval. Also medieval is the MC's ability to keep to the script. We are off track and off schedule immediately following my speech, which happens to be the first one. It started out as a roast, but ended up as a touching tribute to my little sister and her ability to persevere for all the right reasons.

My boys did me proud by doing a mock "swearing in" of their new uncle - asking him to swear on a Bible that he would - among other things "Promise to show them how to drive a motorcycle!" First Born Son then blew me away with a poem he wrote during the meal. As the Bride and Groom needed a song or a poem to be prompted to kiss, FBS simply scribbled on out - and it was FRIGGN' AWESOME! LS wants a copy to keep.

As speeches can get out of hand, the one thing the Bride and Groom asked was that the floor not be opened up for just anyone. The groom's large family would have hours of stories about the childhood of their youngest sibling, and the happy couple felt it would only necessary for one or two people to speak and keep the night moving.

It moved along for those who smoked, as the MC attempted two smoke breaks! Finally the newlyweds addressed their guests and thanked everyone for their support - the Bride's speech showing considerably more preparation and depth than the Groom's whose basically comprised of - "Ya, what she said!" Typical man.

While most Victoria Day weekends are desperately cold, rainy affairs, this one was hot and muggy. In spite of air conditioning, the hall was stifling and the music was LOUD. A combination of the decibels and the beginning of the long weekend meant some guests left early, allowing us to wrap up the dancing around midnight. Given the lack of sleep I and the Bride had, we were not disappointed in the slightest. The highlight of the festivities was the "She Wolf" dance where the Bride and her attendants danced a choreographed number which resulted in the Bride seating the Groom who then "helped" her with her garter.

So all in all - good times, good fun, little glitches, but hey - it wouldn't be a family event without one or two hiccups!!!


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Royal Wedding Part II - Recap - Part II

SIGH - so more than my sister reads this site because I've had a couple of people say "What.The.Hell?"

SO - FINE! You want blow by blow.... pull up a comfy chair sunshine, cuz you are about to get numb-bum.

Leave work early and get the boys packed to head to the hotel. The Big Guy is already gone to pick up the "Wish Tree" at a nearby nursery that we are making double-duty as a wedding gift (Butterfly Magnolia) and decor item. My contribution was research saying it is a Dutch tradition to make wishes for the bride and groom and tie them to a tree. I'm thinkin' "PERFECT" this tree will ROCK! Mom and I spend about an hour and three trips to a ribbon store (two weeks prior) to get enough ribbon for all Little Sister's guests to scribble down their best wishes to the Bride and Groom. Since the Groom's parents are "off the boat" Dutch, we all agree this is a nice way to incorporate something from their heritage without being overly stereotypical.....or have the bride wear wooden shoes....

After check in and settling the stuff in our room, the boys and I are back on the road to the rehearsal only minutes away. The Big Guy has joined us and we are very excited. The minister is caught in traffic coming out of T.O. so we entertain the troops. First Born Son and Second Born Son along with TBG are 'ushers' in that they will help people to their seats, but not stand at the front. Instead, they will join my parents in very comfy leather chairs right at the front of the congregation. The hall is beautiful with the centre aisle lined with large wooden pillars made by C2 (the groom). Each pillar has a large ivory candle and either a soft green bow or chocolate brown bow.

Finally the officiant is here and we have the bride, bridesmaids, groom, best man (groom's father) and ring bearer (groom's son). The sound man is missing, as is the videographer, but it's now roughly 10 minutes to bedtime for my kids and all the younglings are getting restless, so we go on without them.

After a quick snack at a nearby restaurant, my boys head back to the hotel with their father and I head back to LS's house with the girls. We walk in the door and just about weep. Apparently out of town guests didn't clean up after themselves and we are faced with a house in shambles. LS puts the girls to bed and I start cleaning. At 1:30 a.m. we finally fall into bed ourselves, after doing dishes, cleaning, printing and assembling bulletins for the wedding (a job someone else was to do, but "just didn't get around to.")

Morning comes far too early. I hear the sounds of little feet in heels practicing the stride we are using to walk down the aisle IN THE BATHROOM. We all grab a bowl of cereal and head out for a morning of pampering. LS owns a "green/environmental" hair salon and detox spa so we meet our mother there for hair and makeup.

LS and I debate on what style on me makes me look like an alien from "Mars Attacks" and I actually win!!! We depuff the hair a bit and I move on to makeup. My youngest niece "Libby" is the first one in the chair - and will be the last one out as her butt length hair is going to be in ringlets -0h the joys of having a mother who is a hairdresser. I would have run screaming from the chair 45 minutes into the process!

My eldest niece M&M is being transformed from a tomboy into a goddess - but not, thankfully, a tramp. That honor is being left to me. The makeup artist who is working on me is obviously nervous - given that she's doing the "Boss's" sister for the "Boss's" wedding. I come out of the experience with bland eyes and two large diagonal slashes - one on each cheek - which is suppose to be a blush. "You know we are going to have to fix that," LS says to me as we drive away. "Ya think?" I laugh. "Hooker" isn't usually a good look for a bridesmaid.

LS's stepdaughter is ready to go and when Libby finally has her corkscrews on tight, we load back into the car. Mom heads back to the hotel to wrangle my kids (including their father) and they are to meet us back at LS's house.

Ten minutes after we get through the door, it rings. We have flowers - hurray. Ten minutes after that, a photographer. I've been busy running to and from the door, tying sashes and begging little girls not to jump around - REMEMBER THE DRESS IS DELICATE LADIES!!

LS and I rebuild my face and she hopes in her dress. I get a hairy eyeball from the photographer because I'M not in my dress and I quell the urge to take her Nikon and cram it. She gets pictures of the girls, of LS, of my parents with LS, the girls with LS and then me (in my dress) lacing up the back of the dress. These are very tongue in cheek photos and include me with my foot on her butt and faking a Scarlett O'Hara moment with LS out of breath.

She takes pictures of all of us on LS's king size bed (?!?!?) and I'm forced to go into poses that no grown woman should have to do if she's not a gymnast. She gets shots of the girls JUMPING on the bed and with each bounce my mother and I clench our teeth harder, praying "Please God, just let the dresses make it through the ceremony!"

Finally, the photog is ready to leave and I have to ask "Please ma'am, may I have a photo with ma sista, please? Just one, ma'am?" Punishment for not being ready when she wanted me? Dunno, but we squeeze off two quick shots, both of which seem like unnatural poses and prominently feature my more than ample bicep. NIIIICE.

After the chaos of the photo shoot, we survey the damage and see that all four of the bridesmaids dresses are falling down in the skirts because, ironically, formal wear isn't meant to double as lounge wear.

LS immediately hauls out her sewing basket and she starts sewing some puckers into the dresses. At least she didn't have time to get nerves. We jump into the cars and head to the church 15 minutes late (and I'm assuming my sister is in a different time zone to the rest of the world because the minister insists we are 30 minutes late.)

Regardless, we are "in the house".

More to come......(don't you just hate that!!!???)