Waiting to exhale

Waiting to exhale. Haven’t been able to breathe since September. September 2017! That is when everything went to shit and we had to scramble, put our lives completely on hold, and start over from square one! I had thought I had done all of my due diligence. I researched the contractor we chose. I researched everything that entailed with putting a house on our dream property. What we couldn’t be prepared for was having our contractor go behind our back and try to steal that dream from us. Now I’ve thought about blogging about this for, well, over a year. And even though I was never going to use names because the HD is such a small community and they have children, and I have a conscience, but also because our dream can seem extravagant and even greedy to some. And even though I don’t feel I need to explain or defend what our plan is and what our goals have been all along I want you to know that our intentions are not rooted in excess, but rather, investment and security, thru these turbulent times.

I will never forget August 31, 2017. It was the day our contractor announced they have betrayed us. We had a plan from the very start. We were always buying three separate lots. However, because of my research and frugality I pushed to hold off on buying the third until escrow closed on the home and build. We expressed this every single time we met with the contractor, so imagine our delight when his wife, who just so happened to be sitting in the office one of the times we were excitedly talking about our dream plan, said that she was the realtor for that lot. What kismet, how serendipitous. I truly felt as though the universe was affirming our decision. Well, after our contractor going quiet on us for over 30 days as we were waiting for critical information that was needed from them in order to open escrow, he finally called me back, but it wasn’t about anything to do with our home, that we were paying him for, no it was to say we had a new neighbor. And guess what it was him and his family! Now mind you, I have text messages with his wife stating for her to please let me know what we need to do to secure the property from her client. We will pay a down payment or anything to lock it in while we were going thru the escrow. But she decided to forego her oath as a Realtor and sell it behind our back to themselves. I mean shady as fuck, right?! This is when we were called greedy, by the way. We were called greedy by the very people we entrusted our dream to who ended up stealing it from us behind our back. When he called to tell us they bought it, it had already closed. They owned the lot. It started to make sense why they stalled our project and went quiet on us for the normal cash escrow time of 30 days. I expressed to him that what they did, especially his wife, was inappropriate, if not illegal. He freaked and must’ve consulted lawyers or something because he quickly decided to sell it to us for what he paid for it. I verified this thru public information. However, we were not prepared, nor did we really want to pay for this property at this time, it was going to change the parameters of the loan we were trying to acquire. But we wanted to take care of this right away. There was no way in hell I was going to be neighbors with people who stole from us. And yes I consider it theft. So after scrambling and a lot of sleepless and stressful nights, we bought the third lot solidifying our plan. It took the entire month of September before we knew we were rid of those shady people. But we couldn’t breathe yet. We still had no home. We are now back to square one.

So I went back to what I do best, researching. But this time we went about it a little more carefully. We took our time. We went to the manufacturing plants of the manufactured homes we were interested in. And we settled on a really great one! And we found a great dealer who introduced us to JJB contractor who would be doing all of the site work. Well now we are getting into the holiday months of Oct-Dec. We needed the SCE plans to add to the contract in order to open escrow. Well try getting a hold of those people during the holiday months. And in January when we finally did receive the plans, it was all based on the third lot from our previous contractor. Nothing of what WE actually discussed with him, or what WE wanted. It was another blow. But after working with our new contractor and SCE we were able to finalize the plans that will work for us.

So finally by June, yes JUNE, we were ready to move forward. Between January and June it was a blur of dealing with my mother in law’s estate, working on new financing, and finalizing the home we wanted to order. We open escrow and order the appraisal. Everything was going good and then CRASH, again. We weren’t going to appraise. Having a manufactured home is great if you have cash, but financing one, even the most beautiful where you would have to convince someone it wasn’t a stick built, is one of the hardest things to do. And the area we were putting it at, even though its ruralness is exactly what makes it priceless for us, is also whats makes it extremely difficult to plop a house on.

Now at this point, June 1st marked our one year anniversary of living in the motorhome. And for everything to come crashing down, again, at this time was devastating. As the most hopeful one of my honey and I, I was finding it hard to maintain hope and remain positive. Just a little crazy we started becoming. Do we give up? Do we cut our losses and sell off the lots and…….. I can’t even finish that statement because every single time we feel like giving up, we head up to our lots and instantly reminded of why we are doing what are trying so desperately to do. These properties are just mind boggling gorgeous. With all the wildlife we crave. And just waiting for us to start our farm life there.

Now by this time, our new contractor that we were working with on the second manufactured home had kept telling me that they can build us a real stick built home. I just kept brushing it off thinking there was no way in hell we could afford a stick built when a manufactured home was pushing our financial limit. But as soon as I was forced to hear I was blown away. Not only could JJB build us a real home, it would include a garage, fireplace, central heat and air, the shower we wanted, the floor plan we desired, all within budget. I wanted to cry, I did cry. I still cry thinking about how rad Eliana and JJB are. Their work is beautiful but its their demeanor, work ethic, and just plain compassion that I absolutely love about them. So we did the quickest pivot we have done in the process so far. Picked a floor plan and went to work on funding. After working with a couple of lenders we settled on US Bank. We went thru the escrow process once again. Starting July 20th we were expecting a 60 day escrow due to construction loan constraints but did not close until November 8th! Almost 4 months. But we finally closed. FINALLY!

I’m a firm believer in timing and everything happening for reason or even some help from beyond. We don’t always see what is good for us but if it keeps getting cosmically slapped out of our hands I gotta think it was for a good reason! And now we have the opportunity to have our dream home on our dream land. A real home. And we have made such good friends with our contractor who is willing to go above and beyond for a couple of dreamers!! And we have learned some tough lessons on what we are truly made of and knowing we will fight for everything we deserve. And we do deserve this, OUR American dream. It may be too much or even too little for some, but for us its perfect!

And now we can actually move forward and there will be more stress, more delays, more setbacks, I am sure of it. We are dreamers but not delusional. We even bet on the bank and submitted plans to planning before securing funding, just so we didn’t have to wait 12 weeks after escrow closes in order to start the process of building. We have already had corrections and should be approved within a week or so, hopefully. Again, coming into the holiday months I am not expecting too much. I am just happy to be able to breathe again! Stay tuned……

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The days drag, the months fly!

Well it has been a while! Where to begin, where to begin………….

Update on Mama –

Mom is doing good. The infection really set her back but after daily nursing assistance with the bandages and wound it healed up real nicely! But that means chemo is a go for this Friday. Round two of a total of four rounds I believe. We are all hoping it is better this time around now that she isn’t also healing AND fighting an infection. The first round was pretty rough. I ordered her a pair of magnetic eyelashes. I hope they work and make her feel as beautiful as I already see her. She has lost her hair and then it started to grow back because of the pause in chemo. But man does that woman look great no matter what! She can pull off shaved white hair like Annie Lennox! Who looks good during chemo? – my mama!

September came and went but it was a really rough month. At the start of the month we found out our builder had betray us. It really was a shock to me. I had thought we found such great people to work with AND have in the community. We shared our dreams with them and trusted them to help us realize it. But instead they tried to steal our dream from us. However, due to a moral realization or they were advised of their unethical actions they decided to correct it. But the damage has been done and our trust irreparably broken. So we have had to start over. Square one! But you can either wallow in the downfalls or you can focus on the new paths presented. Because of this we found a better manufacturer, a more reputable dealer and a new builder. So we shall see. I am always the hopeless optimist! I am going to give this a little more time and have things moving forward before going into detail on this new path. That will be in another, separate, blog hopefully in a couple of weeks.

September ended very well with my birthday, of course! I am not afraid of getting older and I love celebrating every year. This year my honey took me up in the mountains to take in the gorgeous desert views drinking really good wine I got from my coworkers. So nice and relaxing. Sometimes you just don’t want to think about it. And usually the simpler the better. I’m also a hopeless romantic but not for materialism, for nature.

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One of the best birthday gifts I got this year was my piggy. I finally got my piggy I have been wanting, dreaming, begging for for years! Her name is Hammy, a hampshire pig with spunk, attitude and cutest face. She is smart and loving and I can’t believe she is all mine!

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And finally, even though we just added Hammy to our pack we also gained another dog. Chris and I were out exploring and ended up in the middle of the desert, literally nothing around but abandon buildings, old fence posts and chimneys with nothing else around. We were following the power lines and around a corner we came up to a dog exhaustively trotting in front of us. We at first thought it was a coyote. But as we passed it and it trotted up the embankment we knew it was no coyote, we didn’t know what kind of dog it was or if it was a boy or girl, but we knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was starving, exhausted, dehydrated, and a puppy. We stopped and upon closer inspection found it was a girl. She wouldn’t let us touch her but she didn’t run away either. Poor thing was just so tired. We lured her with root beer candies I had in my purse and after an hour Chris finally took the chance of being bit and grabbed her. But she didn’t bite. She froze in fear. Poor thing. We put her in the truck and took her home! Her new home! Once we had her home we were able to look at her closer. She looks like a Dutch Shepherd. She appears to be pretty good despite her emancipated state. Her fur is not manged, her eyes were still clear, not milky, she had no apparent injuries. Just frightened, hungry, thirsty and tired.  Her teeth look good too, she seems to have her adult teeth but not her molars yet so we are thinking between 5-7 months. We are going to take her to the vet this week to get her completely checked out and shots and everything. She is taking well with the other dogs but people she is still very weary and afraid of. Not sure if she was abused or not. Not sure if she was dumped out there or not. But she will have a great, loving, life from now on! We named her Heidi. And slowly, very slowly she is making progress. She eats good and drinks. And after morning loves and rubs I got my first lick. Hopefully in a week or two she will get some of that puppy back. Hopefully it hasn’t been lost forever.

The universe works in such crazy ways, but if you pay attention it is always giving you signs, clues, missions, and lessons! Outcomes are not always planned, no matter how much due diligence you do. Schedules aren’t always adhered to but that doesn’t necessarily mean the project is off the rails just maybe on a different track now. And a day you thought was just about wandering in the desert looking for trash people dumped was really a mission on saving a life!

Who knows what else is waiting for us around the corner, but whatever it is I will try to take it head on with hope and love in my heart!

 

“Landed in Heaven”

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The fence is up! We have a boundary, which is weird in the wide open desert. Luckily the fence is chain link and see thru. Blends in pretty well and looks damn good if I do say so myself! Thanks to the great team over at American Fence Company

Nothing beats the people up here in the high desert. The boys at American Fence Company are such hard workers, take pride in their work and all around good people, not out to just make a buck from you but to extend the neighborly comradery of working together and with each other!

More proof of the community we have found when we finally got to meet another one of our new neighbors. A sweet 80 year old man who lives directly across from us. He, just like everyone else we have met so far, is excited for the new blood that is moving in. I have never experienced this kind of welcoming. “Whatever you need, we have”, “However we can help”, “You are going to love it up here”, “You have landed in heaven”. YES WE HAVE!

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

Is this a mental break………thru?

Ok I’m going to get real personal

You ever feel like you’re having a mental breakdown but you are fully aware of what is happening to you and you know what you must do in order get yourself right but you just……..can’t………seem…….to…….do……it?

That is where I am currently at. Stuck

I’m not going to lie, this is one of the the most stressful, scary, risky, loss of sleep we have ever gone thru. Add on top of that two parents fighting cancer, a job loss and the first year after the traumatic loss of my mother in law.

Things are not as bad as they seem, though.

Dads cancer seems to be…….well we don’t know really but he seems to be doing fine and will go back to find out how well radiation worked in a few months. Mom is doing ok. Recovery from surgery has been a little rough but she is the strongest woman I know! Mom is (most likely) stage two and after CT scans confirm if it has spread or not we will find out her chemo cocktail recipe. Fingers crossed!

The house is coming along. Seems the perc test went great and from what we keep hearing we have great soil! I can’t wait to test that out on my garden that I have been daydreaming and sketching about.

We have a rough driveway and pad for the house cut in. I absolutely love it. Its amazing seeing in real life what you have been dreaming about for so long! When you can actually sleep that is.

How do I not crack up? I guess the path of least resistance leads to; you either do it, or you don’t. Because life happens, every day, and if you don’t find time for your yourself during the bad times then you are just jumping from one “good thing/time” after another and not really living!! Or is it opposite? Depends on perspective I guess. And I’m always the hopeless hopeful, optimist, my glass is always full, of wine! LOL

Everything in life is temporary, isn’t that crazy? But its true, time is such a fickle bitch! Hunker down during the bad times, they too shall pass; and enjoy and be present for everything else, for they never last long enough!!

I’ll update the house situation soon, but in the meantime I’m taking care of some things, and one of them is me. =)

Pizza, Beer, 10 Acres

Well we are officially the very excited owners of 10 acres in the high desert!

We finally closed escrow. I don’t know why but I was under the impression that escrow would have been a lot quicker when you pay cash in full, but title took a while. There is a recurring theme throughout this process – patience!

It was patience that led us to our dream land. We started our official search in the beginning of last year. A journey that took us to DreamHood, Compound, and Adobe. Now for me, I already knew what direction I wanted to go in, but convincing Chris to buy land and build was going to be tough, and was going to take a year. We had 3 main criteria, like most people, Land, Location, House. Out of those three only 2 will be a forever choice, never able to change, and that is your land and your location. We were on the hunt. We would find the location but the land would be too small. We would find the right acreage but the location wasn’t where we wanted. We never found the holy grail, the trifecta. And each time I kept planting that seed of building our own home. I also starting the research process of how much it would cost and what it would entail if we did actually buy land and build. I talked to agents, lenders, builders, the City and the County. I mean, there is a reason 75% of the homes are custom built to order in the high desert! Once I compiled my research, Chris happened upon these two side by side 5 acre parcels. I’m telling you, the timing with this project, how everything is coming together, is meant to be!

Out riding his bike, Chris just stumbles upon the perfect location and the perfect acreage, no house. But I was already armed with information and costs to build. Finding this land is what put a fire under us to get our previous home back on the market and sell.  As soon as we opened escrow on our previous home we jumped! Met with the agent who happened to be the owners friend, who happened to be the house directly in front of one our properties, and the agent also happens to live across the street. We couldn’t ask for better neighbors. I mean one of the main purposes was to not have any “neighbors” at least in the suburban sense. And now we ended up two really sweet, awesome, kind, will do anything for you, neighbors. Who live and preserve the lifestyle we specifically left the city for. To live self sustained but within a community that benefits and helps each other. The agent also said something during our first meeting that sold me; they just did the zoning maps and this neighborhood was one of the few that kept their rural 1 label AND prohibits any land under 5 acres. meaning, someone can’t buy the 5 acres adjacent to us and subdivide that to smaller lots creating more “neighbors”! I mean can this get any better? Lady, just take my money already!!!!! THESE are the things money can’t buy, THESE are the things you can’t put a price tag on.

Wednesday got the notification that we closed escrow and we now own this. This land belongs to us. For us to nurture and preserve. For us to live and grow on. So naturally Chris and I grabbed a 12 pack of Miller Light, some pizza, our chairs and went and had our very first dinner at HOME! Saturday we meet with our builder.

Phase II Week I – How much money have we spent?!

Temp view

My current view. Isn’t it gorgeous? Been up here for a week now, and I couldn’t be happier. Its challenging, there is no doubt about that. Having the open desert view, mile high sky and cool breezes (its wind LOL) has made living in the motor home just a little bit easier.

Living in the motor home – hmm do I need to describe in detail?

The challenge is going to be making it five months! Not only outfitting the rig for long-term, continuous use, but outfitting myself as well. Getting acclimated to the high desert. Going from house to motor home, city to desert.

Turning your holiday home into your temp home. High desert summer made adding an electrical air conditioner top priority, followed closely by hooking up a smart TV (Game of Thrones returns this summer)

I work full-time, in a corporate setting. Gotta keep up appearances. living in a motor home while maintaining “normal” life comes down to two things:

Prepare and Schedule

Prepare ahead of time and stick to a schedule. No one will then know you’re wearing the same pants two days in a row and haven’t washed your hair in three (HA!) if you take care of everything ahead of time! Night showers, laying out your clothes the night before and getting everything done on the weekends will save you from rushed mornings in cramped spaces. We all know how those mornings work out and its never fun or pretty.

Another thing I knew we had to prepare for; food! too much pressure and stress trying to cook healthy and organic. I needed to find  a company that will deliver fresh food already prepared at a decent price. after two weeks of research I decided upon http://www.Freshly.com. First, they offered exactly what i was looking for; fresh, prepared meals delivered for a decent price. Freshly delivers up to 12 meals a week, never frozen, organic, 500 calorie plates for only $107.00/week. That comes to 6 meals for Chris and I. To not have to worry about “whats for dinner” after a full 9 hour day followed by an hour drive home, AND not wanting drive thru anymore, this service is priceless! Last night we had the pork tenderloin with potato pancakes, carrots and zucchini. We supplemented it with a salad and I couldn’t finish my meal. It was so good, fresh and filling!

Our first week was definitely exhausting. Had to buy some creature comforts and now just need to settle in! Just five more months, hopefully 😉

 

Wakefield

Chris, my honey who I am not married to for 20 years, and I are embarking on a new adventure.

Things are starting to get surreal. Well things have been surreal but engulfed in continuous stress hasn’t allowed me to sit back and reflect. Until now.

Politics is one thing, and we are very much down the rabbit hole, however, that is not what this is for or about.

I am not single faceted, I have a normal life, normal needs and wants, family, work and children. And that is what I am desperately searching balance for. So I’m going to try and talk thru my experiences. Forgive me if I jump around, leave out some info, talk in riddles, LOL There is a lot of back story that came to head last year and I’ll try to keep it cliff notes style.

We have been living in our house for 13 years, luck number 13. Bought in May of 2004 and sold it May of 2017. That was definitely not planned. We have loved our home and made so many great memories, however, we knew we would outgrow it. Not with people or children, but with animals and our ever-growing interest and need to become self-sustaining. Last year we felt the timing was perfect to put our house up and finally move to the high desert. Well the timing couldn’t have been worse. Chris’ mother fell ill and unfortunately lost her long battle on Dec 8th. I’m not going to go into details here because it is still traumatic for me and everyone involved. We fought so long and hard, Gayle, love and miss you! My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer and ended going thru radiation in the beginning of the year, and now my poor mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Thru this we decided we can’t wait for the “perfect time” and put some work into the house, put it back on the market and within 10 days found our buyer! Well he found us, last year when we had first put the house up, but it just wasn’t right. I believe everything happens for a reason and this situation solidified that for me on so many levels.

On the other side, we went thru a journey until we found the perfect spot for the next chapter in our lives. Again, timing right!? I’ll get into the properties we bought in a future blog, probably the next one =)

This is about our final week in our first home together.

Everything is pretty much packed up, at least 90% of it. We will be living in our motorhome on our very good friend’s property until our house is done and ready for us to move in. Until then, all our belongings, 13 years of it, 2000 sqft which includes the garage of stuff had to be put into a storage container we bought. A 45’ high cube, maybe, I’m not sure. LOL

The house has been slowly getting packed up since January. Which as much as that was a great thing to do I found that I packed away much of what we used to cook with and have been living off pizza, fast food, frozen dinners, ugh! I guess you can be prepared only so much.

And now we are down to the final days. Have we forgotten something? In the garage where we’ve housed our quads and jet skis before selling to buy our rhino and boat. In the backroom where we have hosted every party imaginable; summer bbq’s, casino birthdays, Pirate Halloween, pool party graduation, every Christmas for the past, well 10 years at least. Not to mention the Friday night “get together”, Saturday beer and pool and of course 4th of July, Memorial, and Labor holidays! “Mazel Tov”

Too many memories to share!!

All the work that we put into our little 1950’s home. Opening the kitchen up and installing the central heating and air was the first thing on the list! Especially since we bought in May, right before summer and it was already hot!

Sleeping on the floor in one of the spare rooms until our master was done, with an en suite AND walk in closet?! How lucky am I?!  followed by Cierras/Guest room and then the Office/Closet room, finished with the back room. The house was just never going to be big enough. No matter how much I purged, reorganized, or even built out. It would never be enough. Especially since all the labor was courtesy of my honey and all he knew!

I believe there is a piece of everyone in our first home.

I will never forget that night, signing our docs all the way in Temecula at 9PM at night. I cried on the way home. Only 25 and with this huge responsibility. What if we can’t make the payment? What if we lose it? What if we have to go back to renting? 13 years and a roller coaster of a ride later, I will never forget Chris’ answer to me; “Then we start over, again. And again, if need be. There are worse things than renting again, as long as we have each other, we’ll find our way”