Monday, September 5, 2016

Florida's Hardest Hit

Jamie has had two girlfriends (sisters) who have lived here for the past 2 yrs or so. They are one year older and one year younger - Lexie and Autumn. They fight like sisters (the three of them) but play together for hours at least twice a week or so.

Early in the summer they announced that their landlord wanted to sell the house and they were moving. Jamie cried and cried. She has gotten so used to the girls being right here across the street. This will be tough on her...But now for a Real Estate success story:

They looked for a rental house - I sent them rentals from the MLS but didn't really act as their agent as I don't usually do rentals. However when their Mom came in to my house all excited about this great house they were getting for only $1250/ month instead of $1600 my spidey sense went off. I looked up the property owner and yes they got scammed. They wired $2000 to this dude who SHOWED THEM THE HOUSE! Yes he had a key and showed them the house, had them sign a 'lease' and told them where to wire the money. So they lost that money and I started trying to help them.

The rental market here in Jacksonville is really aggressive - houses get rented immediately if they are under $1300/month.'s really really a good time to buy. I asked the folks why not buy? They hadn't even considered buying! And Florida has a program called Florida's hardest hit - help for First time Homebuyers - They are getting $15,000 in down payment assistance towards their closing costs and down payment - They just had to pay for the home inspection, Appraisal, credit app and Binder and the rest was covered by this program. Only a few counties in Florida are doing this - giving so much and not expecting it to be paid back so this is huge!

They moved in this weekend but the house doesn't close for a couple of weeks. So I got a sale, and my daughter lost her neighborhood friends.

I hope we can stay in touch...They aren't that far. But it will seem far after them being right across the street.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

UnGator Girls

My husband is a huge Gator - Not a Gator Fan but a Gator. You see he actually is an alumnae - apparently that makes one a Gator. So he likes to attend all home games since we live within 90 minutes of Gainesville this is doable.

So every year, it's been my time with my daughter but she went with him this year. So I had some ladies over who also could care less about football or the Gators and I penned us the UnGator Girls.

Now I am not saying I don't want them to win - Of course I want them to win! My husband is a bit of a pouty face and is super hard to be around after a Gator loss.

I just could care less about the games - No I didn't remember they were playing this week, but now I will. Every Saturday is Gator Day. Except for bye week.

Wonder if I can continue the UnGator Girl tradition each week?

Friday, July 1, 2016

Adoption Day or Gotcha Day?

Jamie was our foster child- we got her as a four and a month old baby who had been in 2 previous foster family's. We knew of her when she was two months old. Another foster family knew that she had been moved from her first family to the second. She was moved because the family who had her first wanted to adopt a boy baby, not a girl baby. So when a boy baby because available for adoption at the second family, they decided to trade babies so the first family could adopt the boy.

So poor Jamie was shuttled to this second family at two months old. The foster mom who told me about Jamie knew of her because she knew the first family and also knew that Jamie's parents weren't following their case plan and that Jamie may be heading towards adoption.

So we got her in May of 2006 - our license had just finally clicked in. We had asked about Jamie and were told her Social worker didn't want to move her again. Five days later Jamie's current foster mom called into the agency and said they wanted all their foster kids removed. That they wanted to stop fostering. (Or that was the story we were told).

I often wonder...I don't think Jamie got real good care there. We went there to get her that day on May 24, 2006 - our 'Gotcha Day'. Jamie came with a small trash bag with four or five outfits - all smoke filled and too small. They were also all long sleeved which isn't appropriate in Florida in mid May.

They didn't send any diapers, formula or equipment. Just a couple of toys - A rattle and a block.

Jamie's head was flat in the back and didn't cry. I mean when this baby woke up she would just lay  in the crib until I noticed her. Poor thing.

Anyway we went through a long process of extending the case plan to see if either or both of the parents would do what they needed to do to get custody of Jamie. They came to a couple of supervised visits the first month or two and that was it. So they weren't working their case plans...They didn't get jobs, they didn't get a place to live, they didn't do the parenting classes plus much more I won't reveal here.

So August 10, 2011 we adopted her.

Which day if any do we celebrate? May 24th or August tenth?

I am thinking August 10th - I really don't like that term 'Gotcha Day' it sounds like we caught her - Like a butterfly or a dog.

She is ten now -she is such a sassy beautiful loving sweet girl. I am so happy she is in my life!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Thrift Scores!

How do you like my $6 outfit? And Jamies was only $5.

And why is this underlining everything???? 
Oh well, please wish me well - I desparatly don't want to go back over 200 lbs again! That's it I am not going to!


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Time to Breathe

 Happy Spring! For us in NE Florida this time of year is Pool time. The pool actually warmed up earlier this year than usual. We don't get in until the last weekend in April and that is when I got in for the first time, but Jamie and the girls across the street were in there much earlier - Maybe even then end of March.

I have been super busy. I am on the Fund Raising committee at church as well as the O'Leno leadership committee. O'Leno is our annual church camp retreat the last weekend in April and I am the Food guru. I make the list of items to buy and buy the food at the local Winn Dixie in High Springs - the nearest town to our remote State park campground.

The campground has 14 or so cabins in a circle in the middle of wilderness with a Main kitchen/dining building and a rec building built by the CCC almost 100 years ago. The cabins have a fan and electricity but no AC so we make sure we go that last weekend in April before it gets too steamy. Food buyer dominates my time and thoughts for two months prior and a couple weeks afterwards as I tally receipts and get reimbursed etc.

I am also a board meeting in our Neighborhood Civic association - I am the secretary. We had our annual Fish Fry Friday night and it was marvelous.

I also have been substitute teaching as it is something I can pick up and make a little money if I am slow with Real Estate.

And I help feed cats a couple of times of week. Our church has a community of 5 cats who we feed at the back of the property - Each of us has a 'Day' to go feed them. Since my mornings are so chaotic I do two afternoons instead of twice a day.

I have been so busy this month I am thinking of taking a breather. Not sure I am going to church today or not.

It feels great to just breathe.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A bit of a disapointing return from the consignment sale, But the house looks nice

I took over 175 things to the bi annual finders keepers sale last week. I forgot to pick up the items Sunday so they went to charity which is a bit of a drag as I only sold 69 items. I could have retagged and sold them next time, but less to have in the garage and move back and forth I guess.

A bit sad to see the last of Jamie's baby clothes gone forever instead of in various closets and locales throughout the house. I sold 69 items - which garnered $198 and I got a check for only $124 for today.

So poo. Not enough by a long shot for our weekend trip to Disney.

Unless we sell the jeep, walkers and scooter. But who has time for Craigslist? I wonder if I should do EBay?

Got an agreed upon contract so that is a good thing, it's been a bit of a dry spell.

But life is good, I have squash planted, the house looks pretty good (from our dinner party last Friday) and I haven't gained all of my weight back.

So life is good.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Spring Break and we are cleaning the garage

Not the most glamorous spring break ever, but it has to be done or at least started. I really should have taken some before photos - Our garage has been crammed full for 2 years since my mom died.

We got one piece of furnture up to my room - a bookcase with glass doors. It replaced a short squat tv table that went out to the street. Alas now I am afraid that my Huge 90s era tv is too heavy to balance on the top too long with kids and dog etc so now I need to get a new smaller tv and either mount it to the wall or replace that heavy bohemoth with something lighter and less likely to seriously injure someone if it tumbles over.

Ahhh the glamour. We normally travel at spring break - oft times we go on a cruise. Too bad we overspent last summer on our month long RV trip. So home we stay.

I did promise Jamie if we sold enough stuff we would either go out to dinner or maybe to Disney for a day. We have my Mom's scooter and two rolling scooters and Jamie's jeep which is fit for a 3-8 year old - she is past it.

So out to the saltmines... Here is the cruise Jamie and I went on last summer - ah the memories

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Spring Cleaning

We are having a dinner party next month and my house is never tidy! so I am trying to get some things in order. I spent the day yesterday trying to do so but got waylaid onto another project - Cleaning Closets! 

I know dumb! But sometimes starting with the inside bones helps with the rest of the house - Let's hope I can get the main living areas decluttered and clean by April 5th so I can concentrate on making homemade Beef Burgandy, Layered salad and perhaps roasted squash for those that don't do carbs (Rice and Bread).

I also spent time on the pool and leaves around the pool and the girls actually swam on Sunday! The pool water was only 69 degrees so I didn't join them this time. I prefer 85 degrees and above. 

Happy Spring!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

52 goals for 2016 De-stress with less mess!

 One of my favorite blogsters posts a list at the beginning of each year and follows up on her progress at the end of the year. I am stealing this idea from Lovey - see her post here:

They are all over the place - some are personal, or parent focused, and others are career focused and many seem to be about taming the chaos of MESS in my lives so I would say that is the main focus. Destress with less mess!
1. Lose the 8 lbs I have gained and get back to 158. I was 204 lbs last year in March and managed to lose 45 lbl by July. However I put 8 lbs back. Medifast is how I lost the weight so back on it I am.

 2. Get 6 listings by July - Listers last is what they say and boy is it true. The most successful agent in our office gets at least 4 listings each month and they seem to just come in the door for her. She has been an agent for over 20 years. This will be my fifth year - they say if I make it past my fifth year I can do this forever!
3. Exercise frequently - I do nothing but yardwork, housework and occasional walks with the dog. Get into working out somehow - Wii, Gym, rowing machine, free weights etc
4. Drink at least 80 ounces of water a day.
5. Clear the table in my room and keep it clear.
6. Build patio in backyard
7. Donate 1 -2 large bags to goodwill each month
8. Spend 1 day a month organizing the house.
9. Have at least 10 dates with Mike
10. Read 25 books.
11. Visit Fran this summer
12. Take Jamie on a hike
13. Fly a kite. 
14. Ride bikes with Jamie 1/month
15. Enjoy time with Jamie every week (Teach Jamie Michigan Rummy, Euchre, Spite and Malice, work out together etc.)
16. Seriously organize bookcases and make use of the space
17. Seriously organize my bedroom
18.  O'Leno Camp
19. Read with Jamie at least 5 times/week
20. Write blog posts at least 2/month
21. Keep hair cut and colored
22. Open a bank account for Jamie
23. Get Jamie a small desk and chair for her room
24. Declutter garage -
25. Have a path to my sewing machine and (set it up in the garage)
26. Perform 12 random acts of kindness.
27. Learn to use sewing maching
28 Teach Jamie to sew
29. Remove sandspurs from backyard
30. Get Kelly certified in order to substitute teach when needed
31. Work harder and smarter so I don't need to substitute teach!
32. Help at Jamie's school once per month or more
33. Help at church at least 6 times
34. Help at partner school in the community at least twice before school year ends
35. Find more blogs to connect with and read 
36. Set up a real estate blog and post at least monthly
37. Reach out to Circle of influence midyear (similar to Christmas cards - Happy Summer? Newsletter?
38. Doorknock once monthly at least 25 houses (Alderman Park; Greenfield Lakes)
39. Work on ACA 12 step program (Continue meetings, talk with Christy etc)
40. Keep below 160 lbs (when I lose the weight again)
41. Remove sandspurs from Side yard
42. Take someones floor when needed at least once per month
43. Focus on breathing when stressed
44. Eat more vegetables!
45. Call Charlene & Fran more often (My stepmom and Mother in law)
46. Stop swearing
47. Hit 2.5 million in production for 2016 (Did 2.2 last year and only 1.75 this year)
48. Keep kitchen clean (It makes me happy and keeps me less stressed)
49. New (used) couch for Living room (replace black one)
50.  Continue helping cats at church, help others when they need a substitute
51. Send third quarter somethings to Circle of influence (Happy Autumn? Back to school?)
52. Send out calendars to Circle of Influence, church and leads early December. 

Well - they say putting it down in writing is the secret to making goals obtainable. I know it will help as I have done this in the past mostly with Real estate - but I recently found a list from when Mike and I were first married and was thrilled to see all goals had been accomplished. Thanks Lovey!


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tabbies are the best!

I have had kitties since I was 7 yrs old but have never had a plain grey tabby. We had orange cats when I was a kid - Sunshine and Whiskers, but we had to get rid of them as my Mom developed allergies pretty much right away so I didn't get real attached although I remember crying and carrying on when they were taken away.

Then when I was 22 or so I adopted an orphaned barn cat who was brown bear black - longish hair. He was my lovely boy Iggy who I taught to jump up into my arms from the floor but wouldn't let others hold him.

I brought Iggy down to Florida when I moved here when I was 30 and laid with him on the kitchen floor one Easter night when he died in 1993 at the youngish age of 10. :(

It took some time before I got another kitty..I was pretty tore up. This is what Iggy looked like - he was black but in the sun light you could see some brownishness in his fur.

Katie was next. I found this sweet little Calico kitten while in Myrtle Beach South Carolina. She was chasing an older couple across AIA in the rain and she was only about 3 lbs - about 10 weeks or so. I said " is that your cat?" and they said, "No, what cat?" So I scooped her up and brought her home with me to Florida. She was quite the personality - She charmed everyone but didn't like being held not even by me until she was older and sick. She developed Kidney disease and I administered Saline solution to her 2-3 times per week the last 2 yrs of her life. She died right before we got Jamie. I think there wasn't enough room in the world for both Katie and Jamie. Katie died Dec of 2005 when she was only ten years old. Jamie was born the following January, though we didn't get custody of her until she was four and a half months old - later in May. Anyway this picture is similar to Katie but she didn't have long hair and her markings were more symetrical:

While I had Katie I adopted an all grey cat named Kimba - Kimba was long haired and a bit of a pill. He never had the great personality of Iggy or Katie so was a bit of a forgotten child. He also started marking his territory when we moved to our bigger house in 2000 which royally pissed me off. He died of CRF in 2007, a couple of years after Katie and died a bit young as well I think he was 10. However he was quite handsome - here is what he looked like:
We also had a third kitty with Katie and Kimba named Poncho who was my little love bug. He adored me and loved being held as a baby.  He had kidney stones so I also did the Subq fluids on him his last year and a half and he also died young. It tore me up once again to lose him in 2009 or so when he was only 11.

After the three of them died I was haunting the ASPCA website and found an adorable litter of kittens that needed a home.We started out fostering them but of course we kept them all. Truman, Spicy and Minnie.
Jamie was only 2 and a half when we adopted them - I think it was too young as they became afraid of her and have always avoided her except for Truman. 

Alas Truman died REALLY young at only 3 - he also got stopped up with Cysts in his urine and though he recovered from the surgery he came home on several drugs and his liver failed from the valium they gave him to relax his urinary tract.

So we were left with two again - and Minnie and Spicy wanted nothing to do with Jamie. So we got a dog - yup  a dog when Jamie was five and a half. That's a story: 
Jamie had been begging us for a dog for quite a while. One day I asked my friend Michelle - these cute blonde boys mom if we could borrow her newish dog named Samson. They had gotten him as a pup from the shelter that Christmas and Sammie was about four months old. Well I brought him home and Mike flipped out! He was livid! I told him no worries we are just going to 'try him out' to see what i will be like to have a dog in the house. The next day Mike wouldn't go to church. He refused to leave 'that dog' in the house alone so Jamie and I went alone. When we came back, Mike's heart melted at how Jamie was so excited to see him. But I returned the dog that day as planned.

Later in the week I called Michelle to see if I could 'borrow' Samson again as it went so well. She said she would like to see if we would take him. They could see how much Jamie loved Samson and they were overwhelmed with too many pets and humans in the house as her husbands' brother had just moved in with his dog and they also had another dog (plus a cat and two boys and three adults in a smallish house). So now we had two cats and a dog - and we were at the three pet limit Mike had mandated for our household....

But then I found Cody. Meowing piteously in the church parking lot, surrounded by the church feral cats. I went over to him and picked him up and he hugged me around the neck and it was love at first sight (for me! and Jamie and my Mom who were with me when I found him - Mike not so much)

Ok so now we were at four. My mom used to say how did you end up with the best cat AND the best dog in the world as both were very affectionate with all and Jamie finally had a cat and a dog who would let her love on them and play with them.

And really I felt satisfied. I didn't plan on going any higher- No more pets! Mike was sure to tell me over and over that we were not going to get ANY MORE PETS!

Then this summer happened. I just couldn't let another litter of kittens become ferals so Jamie and I socialized the litter of five kittens. And I found homes for four of them...but that last kitten couldn't get adopted - He was just a plain grey tabbie and nobody wanted him. I kept saying I just know we are going to get stuck with this cat! Mike couldn't believe I didn't want him. But I didn't. I didn't want any more turds to chase and didn't think I wanted such a plain boring cat. After all my kitties are usually quite striking and usually have great personalities. (Aren't they? See above) Shiver was his name as he wasn't as socialized as the other kittens and just shivered and shook when we first brought him home.
Then I administered flea medicine - I split an adult dose between two of the remaining kittens. Gator (which we started calling him) almost died from the medicine. DO NOT DO THIS. They have kitten doses...If you split the dose there are two medicines inside those pods and you may give most or all of one of the medicines to one of the kittens and it can hurt them. Anyway see that blue blanket? I kept that kitten in that nest for three days right with me at all times. I spoon fed him canned cat food and syringed water in to him. On the third night (he slept on the pillow next to mine) he started purring for the first time ever and later that night woke up and started trying to play and that is when I knew he would survive and also that he had found a place in my heart. He has turned out to be the most affectionate and lively of the bunch.

So now we have FOUR CATS AND A DOG!


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Not the best year but the trip was worth it!

I hoped to make each year more productive as the year before as a Realtor.

I actually hoped to do 1 million the first year 2 million the second etc.

Last year I hit the 2 million mark and this year I will be slightly shy of that mark. (Or more than slightly depending on whether 2 of my pendings close before the end of the year).

So I am not hitting the marks I had hoped but have no regrets. The trip was amazing and my life is pretty darned amazing too.

I am thinking of getting certified as a substitute teacher so I can pick up some hours and pay if real estate dwindles like it did for me in September and October. $80/day is better than nothing!

And real estate is a hard, awesome, frustrating but incredibly rewarding way to make a living. I love what I do. I won this cruise last year as I had a GREAT end of the year. (And was able to bring my daughter Jamie on the cruise for a negligible cost). Let's hope next year is incredible as well.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Kitty Wrangling Or TNR ing

 The original kittens on the porch step - well three of the five.

 I thought Gator was going to die!! He just laid there for 3 days!

 Gator, smaller than my water bottle.

 He could fit in Dad's pocket
 Gator now - Well loved and getting tall!
About three months ago I noticed my neighbor lady's cat colony had another litter. This colony has been there for a couple of years and the kittens keep coming. We starting stopping over there a couple of times a week to socialize the kittens and when they were about 6 wks old I kitnapped the kittens.

I found homes for all but the littlest plain tabby. I was NOT doing this to acquire another cat. We had 3 cats and a dog and I do alot of turd handling.

Well as it happens everyone wanted the Siamese and the Tabby marked kittens so we got 'stuck' with the plainer Tabby. But he is the sweetest kitten. 

I gave him some flea meds a bit too early and he almost died. See above in the blue blanket- He just laid there and was so lanquid! He wouldn't eat- I had to force feed him with a syringe. I was taking him to bed with me and holding him so I would know when he needed to pee or poo. He would wake and cry and I would put him in the box to do his business and then bring him back to my side.

He was a bit shyer than the rest as he normally didn't come out when we stopped to do the socializing. (That is him hissing at us on the front step in the top photos.)

Here is the whole litter - I kept them in a dog's crate most of the time to keep track of them.

 I called this one Spitfire!

 My friend came and picked between the last two.
 Gator's mom on the way to get spayed.
 Mom with a kitten in her pocket.
 Gators dad?
 Gators aunt?
My friends daughter wanted Gator but Lipp got chosen by her mom instead.

So the last 3 months have involved TNRing. 

Trapping, Neutering. Return is a program my city uses for Feral cats. Instead of putting them down then encourage the community to bring in the feral kitties and they fix them and give them shots and return them to the original site.

I trapped 13 cats for the program. One of them got let loose by my daughter - so now there is a black and white female (Probably Gator's aunt) loose near my home. The other 12 were returned although I only see four there at the original site. What happened to them all? I don't know but the neighbor lady is sure grateful I helped her cull down the herd. Now I return the traps though I didn't catch them all. Mr. Mustachio remains at the outskirts of the colony. He was just too clever to be trapped.

I am unnaturally happy & unconcerned about life (NOT WORRYING)

I just got some good news about a diagnostic mammogram and biopsy I had Monday. Whew...But I don't think I sweated it that much actually.

In fact for some reason I am not sweating things right now. I have nothing closing which is unusual for me as a Realtor. But I am not freaking out.

Thinking about cancelling cable, yes. Worrying not really.

Why is this? I am not sure, but for some reason Faith has said her prayers.

Life is good!!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Balmorhea State Park, Texas

When scoping out our route out west I found this hidden gem in the western part of Texas. Balmorhea is a state park that was constructed during the Great Depression by the CCC Civilian Conservation Corps) It has a spring fed swimming pool - and is it ever huge! And Cool! So our campsite looks like we are in the desert and a short walk away is a clear stream heading to the huge pool - which is up to 25 feet deep on one end and has lots of Diving boards.
When we arrived there were about 20 cars at the side of the road as they had closed the park for the day. They close it when it fills to capacity and just let in a car when a car departs. Luckily I had internet and when tto the site where they said all campers can come in so we didn't have to wait. Checked in and hooked up and walked to the Spring fed pool. What a great cool off!