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The G's Take Texas

This is about how California natives navigate a transfer to the great state of Texas; venturing away from family, friends, and all that is familiar.

Month

January 2017

Bitter Vengance

Hurt, betrayed, and confused are the only words I could describe the feeling. It was disheartening to say the least and in a weird kind of way it was like I felt naked and vulnerable. I didn’t have a “Plan B” because frankly I never thought I would need one. When they told us about the HOA (Home Owners Association) I thought our life in the beautiful home that we picked out and created for ourselves was a thing of the past. I was on the MLS (multiple listing service) every chance I could to see homes. I was frantically looking for anything that even comes close to our now HOA home. I even found some that I thought could easily compare. We spent over a week looking on the MLS and scheduled our appointments for Friday to view them all. One day, we wanted a day full of homes that we could compare to our current one so we could finally make a decision… The BIG decision… The decision that we moved out to Texas for – to decide where we would grow our family and build our life.

You can’t imaging what you can do in one day, we hit what felt like a million houses (in reality it was less than a dozen) and did our best to see what life would be like outside of Mustang Creek. We encountered monster lots, great kitchens (with double ovens), and open floor plans that would be just fine for our family. In each of those houses we also found severe foundation issues (you could literally slide from one side of the living room to the other because of the grade), pet odor, freezing cold or poor insulation/significant air leaks, and incredibly bad neighborhoods. Now, before you start chewing me out for being a whiny person over pet odor and being cold, to Ben and I those are a sign of other potential issues for the house. The foundation is thousands of dollars worth of issues no matter how we look at it. It’s damn near impossible to fix a neighborhood (of course unless there is an HOA – oh, the irony). We literally went to a neighborhood that had people placing bars on their windows, signs on their lawns stating that the home was under 24/7 surveillance, and one that had a neighbor that collected all the garbage from 1960 and kept it in their front yard. It was pretty intense. The few homes that we found and liked had a few things that just didn’t work for us, and couldn’t be easily corrected.

On our way back from our viewings we were discussing why we are frustrated about our current HOA home. We discussed the HOA at great length and I figured out what my problem is… I am bitter. I have this horrible taste in my mouth because every time I talk to the builder rep something new happens like a delay or more money or an HOA. We have gone from one thing to the next and I am mad. I am tired of being jerked around and told what will happen. I want to know my choices. I don’t want these kind of surprises dropped on me last minute. I don’t want to feel like I am being taken advantage of on a daily basis. At the beginning of this process, it felt like we were partners – the builder and Ben and I – and now I feel like the hostile take over of a mad dictator has commenced in my own life. So I wanted to take what little control I had and run away. I wanted to leave them saddled with a home that they would have to resell to someone else willing to put up with their crap.

If I run away and leave our house, who will be more upset? Me. I will be living in a house that wasn’t our first choice. I will be in a neighborhood with crappy schools and a higher crime rate. Ben will be commuting farther and will be spending less time with us. I will have to go through the process of acclimating ourselves to a new neighborhood and stores and schools. If we leave nothing happens to the builder. They get to sell our home for a higher price. They will have something to show people until it’s sold so it makes things easier to sell. They get to go along business as usual. My bitterness and leaving a house we would love would mean nothing… nothing to anyone except us.

After so much conversation and my extreme stubbornness, we decided that staying with our original home is better for our family as a whole. As much as it frustrates me to have an additional annual fee and to have to answer to someone else over changes to our own home/property it will in the long run be better for our family. Despite my distrust and hurt feelings toward the builder we are working out something to hopefully compensate for all they have put us through. Ultimately, I am glad the decision has been made and that although I am still a little bitter, that we are keeping the house we fell so in love with.

I am also glad that we are hopefully past the part of this that makes me want to hurt people and binge eat because now I am not so frustrated. I have been walking around like a petulant child. Now, I am focusing on other things like taking care of myself and making appointments and hunting down furniture. I am going to try and enjoy the next parts of our home building process and not let my bitterness turn to dread over every phone call and text. I will work on focusing on other things.

Speaking of focusing on new things, we have been trying to get Peyton into pre-school for months and it looks like February 1st it begins. I am excited for him, but I am also nervous. This will be the first time he will be without me on the regular. I know he needs it and I need to have some time with the other kiddos, but I know I will miss my baby. Preston will be right behind him since he is completely potty trained. We just have to work on wiping and putting his pants back on. Oh, the life of a mom is never a dull one.

Ben and I had our first break away from Whole30. I thought my stomach would have kept me up for hours, but thankfully it hasn’t. I did realize something though. I would rather eat the food that I make than eat out and eat crap. It’s not what it used to be anymore. I love food, but I love GOOD food. No more crap for us and we will have our one “break away” meal a month for date night, but then we will go right back to our great eating. I do find myself craving salads and I don’t look for cheese or ranch to make it “taste good” anymore. I am perfectly happy with my oil and vinegar and healthy toppings. I am trying to focus on more veggies though so I don’t overwhelm myself with other things that are not so necessary in my diet.

I also think I am going to explore opening a small business from my home. I know the thought is kind of random, but you will hear more about this in a little while. I am still working out the kinks.

I hope you all are doing well. Has any situation ever made you feel bitter? What length have you gone to in order to “rectify” the bitterness? Are you house hunting too? How do you deal with the all the real estate craziness?

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Crushing Hopes & Dreams

Hopes and dreams are crushed in so many ways. For some hopes and dreams go up in flames due to the revelation that Santa isn’t who we thought he was. For others it’s the loss of a promotion to someone who we feel isn’t deserving of the position. There are even those people who simply go to a restaurant and their favorite item on the menu is no longer available. Life has its peaks and valleys and I am in the middle of a decline because of some of my hopes and dreams. My hope and dream started with a house in Waxahachie… but, before I get to that let me explain a little more.

The past week has been rough. I have been feeling “off” as you could probably tell from my earlier post. I went to the doctor and they took a plethora of blood work and did my regular check-up stuff. As soon as I got some of the results I checked them and saw that two things popped up a bit irregular (not far off the charts, but enough that it makes me nervous). I immediately email my doc and haven’t heard back. My hope of all being well is still there, but I am getting anxious.

I follow up with the job I have applied for. He was so friendly when I came in and submitted my application. I thought he would be just as excited to talk to me. Showing initiative is a desirable quality in a potential employee. I thought it was a good idea to check in, but every time I call (I have only called twice) he seems agitated as though I am a nuisance. My hope of getting into some sort of work is slowly dwindling.

Then I get this awesome update from my builder Bob… Bob THE Builder… HAHAHAHA! It makes me laugh every time. He was just letting me know that the roof is getting set up and the air conditioning ducts were being put in. I ask him when the next time is that we will need a meeting to go over the next part of the process and he says that the developer’s agent will contact us to schedule it. My dream of our beautiful new home is at a peak here. Everything is running smoothly and timing is going as planned… then I get the text.

Instead of getting a joyful text asking when I am available for the next builders meeting, I am told that they just recently decided that they are going to make our development have a mandatory Home Owners Association (HOA) to pay for maintenance of a brick wall and detection pond that was required by the city. What I know of HOA’s are not good things. They are a pain in the ass and they are there to maintain property value, but that’s about it. If I want to paint my house, I have to make sure all colors are approved by the HOA and that the contractor is approved by the HOA. Fences have to be uniform and if I want to make adjustments to my own property (i.e. add a room or a deck or a porch) I have to make sure that the HOA approves it first. If I put my garbage out too early or leave it out too late I could be fined. HOA rates can be adjusted based on if my neighbors pay their own dues. If a neighbor hates me they can constantly complain to the HOA and cause me more fines. In theory a HOA is nice, but completely unnecessary if I don’t get a community pool or club house or park. If you are not going to mow my lawn and maintain my flowers for me I don’t think I need to pay for a HOA. Bottom line…I WANT A HOME. I WANT A HOME THAT IS MINE. I don’t want a home that even after I pay it off, I will still for my entire life be required to pay a damn fee to live there. HOA’s can affect how I sell my home, how I care for my home, what I do with my vehicles, what I do with guests and pets, the list goes on… I am not for it, nor will I ever be for it. If we had known that a HOA was going to be involved we would not have gone with this home/builder/development. I would probably already been living in a house by now because we would have found something else.

NOW… because we signed a contract (which has no mention of a HOA) and we are in the middle of building I am at a loss. I have the builder’s agent looking into my options. I don’t want this. I never wanted this. My house… my new house… is no longer my own. The agent tells me she didn’t know. I am not sure I believe that. Then she says she didn’t find out until Dec. 6th, when she got the email with proposed CCR’s (HOA rules and regulations). Again, I don’t really know if I believe that. If this HOA was imposed by the city why didn’t you tell me when we signed the contract? I don’t really think it is accurate to say the city is behind this… I think the builder is trying to recoup fees for maintenance and decided that calling it an HOA was the best course of action… but the agent assures me that the CITY was the one who is REQUIRING them to enforce a HOA on the new phase of the development. If the city required it for them to get the permits, back in AUGUST when they were actively trying to acquire permits they would have known and should have told us (the buyers).

According to the agent, the developer would be running the HOA until all the homes are sold in the phase. How convenient! You get to police the place while you are selling it to other people. That’s a bit biased and sketchy to say the very least. We have been waiting on our house since JUNE. You (the builder/developer) should be paying me to wait for this damn house. You said it would be done originally in November/December. Then it should be ready no later than January. Then, oh definitely by end of February, early March. Now, it’s probably safe to say end of March, early April. I have been living in an empty apartment (and a not so nice apartment at that) due to the promise of my house. My house with NO HOA. Now, after waiting six months (three and a half months of which we were IN Texas) we are still without a home.

Rates and our mortgage are still going up every day that I wait, all because of a lie… A bold faced lie. If the agent didn’t know, someone else higher up in the company knew. Someone in the developers company dropped the ball and thought it would be great to lock people in and wait till the last second to tell them that they will have a HOA and fees, but it’s ok because we are still giving you the house you wanted. We are paying good money for that house, you are not “giving” it to me. We continued with waiting and the house building process because of a promise that has been broken. Now we are out money and time and so much more because you couldn’t get your shit together enough to tell your ONLY representative of the community, your AGENT, the proper information for her to sell. This is a joke… a twisted and sick joke.

My dream of this house the way we wanted it is crushed and gone. Where do we go from here? Do we sit here and take it? Do we say fuck it we want our money back? Do we find another new build or a more established home? Do we stay in Waxahachie? What do we do?

My life has been a hot mess about this. I had a nightmare about our house last night. But, tomorrow hopefully I will have more answers to my questions. I am hoping we can figure something out. I love Benjamin and my children, so as long as I am with them it really doesn’t matter where we are. Until we know for sure what is happening I will be browsing Realtor.com. We will be using our date night to go house hunting. We will be doing our best to salvage what we can from our broken dream.

Despite all the stress I have been staying true to my Whole30. I made it the full 30 days plus some. I keep having issues, but I am hoping the doc will respond and clear up a few things about the test results. I am sure you will hear more about that from me later next week. I did lose a little over 20lbs since I started Whole30. I am pretty pleased with that and I am encouraged to keep this up. I think I am going to add some kind of workout to my daily schedule and see where that takes me.

I have noticed a few new things when it comes to my Whole30 journey. My portion sizes have gotten significantly smaller. I am fuller with less food. I know that may not mean much to some people, but to me that’s a big deal. I also have been better about not finishing all of my food just because it’s there. I don’t know if that was something I inherited because of that rule, “finish your food before you leave the table.” It might also be my thought about wasting food. But, I have been enjoying leftovers so much more now, before I wouldn’t have anything left because I would have eaten it all.

Ben is officially on the Whole30 plan starting tomorrow. I have agreed to cook and he has agreed to keep away from bbq sauce and fruit snacks. HAHAHAHAHA! I know he can last the full 30 days, so I really hope he sticks with it. I am hoping my brother does a test run with it too. He was thinking about it, so I hope he tries it.

I will keep you all posted about house stuff and how things go with the doc. Tell me about your week. Did you have a good start to the New Year? Any resolutions you would like to share? What are your feelings about HOAs? Have a great day everyone!

Something Isn’t Right

Have you ever had that feeling where something just felt off. The feeling like life is out of alignment and things are not exactly what they are supposed to be. I am in that state right now. Something is just not quite fitting right and I can’t pinpoint the cause of it. I thought it was because we were all sick, but we are pretty much over that already and now it’s time that I am re-evaluating that feeling of being “off”. Peyton has been battling a fever and now has some swollen glands, he also has this weird coloring sometimes. I can’t tell if its because he’s not eating enough, or if he isn’t eating because something else is bothering him. I am taking him in tomorrow to see the pediatrician if things aren’t better. Part of me believes that my kids not being 100% can be why something doesn’t feel right, but the other part of me wonders if it’s more.

My body has been acting weird. I can’t see exactly why. I haven’t changed my eating. I am still actively Whole30, but I haven’t been feeling the “Tiger Blood” phase anymore. I am bloated again. My lower back is killing me. I have been just feeling completely lost in my own body. Maybe my hormones are going nuts. I have been kinda moody lately too. My patience is dwindling and I am very quick to panic with the kids. I don’t know, I am just freaking out a little. Something just feels completely off.

I am going to get checked out to make sure physically everything is ok, but I need to reexamine everything else mentally. Have you ever had those off days? What was throwing you “off”?

So… About Last Night…

You went out with the gang and had to start 2017 with a f*cking bang. We all know you did it because 2016 sucked so hard you practically lost your nipples to it, so you had to wash it away with tequila and sweat. You were probably drinking and dancing. Well, more like severely inebriated and falling all over the place. You laughed, you had to cheers all the bar patrons, you danced like only a stripper would, and you woke up with the worst hangover since college. Me… I did something a little different.

I went grocery shopping at 6p and picked up Chipotle for dinner. I had some organic sparkling cider and water. I helped wrangle three kids into bed. I tippy-toed around two sleeping chihuahuas so I could make it to the bathroom. I watched “Good Fellas” and I didn’t even finish it before climbing in bed at 10p CT. I didn’t even make it to ET New Years. I didn’t watch the ball drop or pour myself into bed at 2a. I didn’t stay up to watch fireworks or Mariah Carey poorly lip-sync.

I was too exhausted by 2016 to watch it end. 2016 was one heck of a year. I wasn’t about to see it go down. I just wanted to wake up to a new year filled with hope and excitement. 2016 brought a lot of changes for my family; not bad changes, just unavoidable changes. We went from living in our house in California to selling our first home, packing up and moving our whole family to Texas and watching them build our new home. There was a lot of life happening in between all that, but none the less the life we had in the beginning of 2016 is definitely not the life we have at the end of 2016. I guess it made for some refreshing thoughts about 2017. As much as we will start in one place, we may end in a whole new spot. It could be a new place mentally, physically, or emotionally. A new year can bring so much hope and excitement. I guess you just have to see what opportunities are handed to you.

I am hoping to find some work somewhere in the near future. Just a fun part-time job to offer our family a little more financial freedom when the house gets here. I am planning to make more of a life here with my family. Make more friends in new places. I am excited to get Peyton in pre-school and hopefully Preston will follow before the end of the year. I am looking forward to decorating our home and making it our own. I am excited to see the many opportunities God will send our way with my husband’s career. There is so much to look forward to, and I am excited to experience it all (good and bad) with my little family. I know it will make 2017 just as monumental as the years before it.

I made it through Christmas and New Years on Whole30 and I am more than proud of myself. I even made it through two date nights out and everything was Whole30 compliant.I have been thinking more and more that this will become the new norm. I haven’t been buying the same crap snacks for the kids. Our shelves are stocked with a ton of fruit and veggies and barely any canned or boxed goods. My food cravings are minimal, but I still occasionally see a Starbucks and miss the idea of a frappuccino. It’s more the idea that I miss more than anything. I know the minute I were ever to get one, it wouldn’t taste as good as I remembered it. I think that is the same thing for certain sugar filled items. A lot of times I wonder if the one date night or family night out where I would not eat Whole30, if it would be as validating as I think… My head says, “sure will be, it will taste so good, you won’t know why you left it.” My stomach says something more along the lines of, “you probably think it will taste incredible, but in reality it will give you terrible gas and diarrhea for days.” I know that things will be a little more laid back when the 30 days is up, but I think for 95% of the time I will stay Whole30 compliant. I am on day 26.

Lately, I have been kinda lazy with food. I think part of it is because I have been struggling to stay completely focused, and another part of me feels a little bored. I may have to test out some new recipes here soon so keep an eye open for that. How are things going with your new year? Are you looking forward to 2017? What kinds of things are you hoping for in your future?

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