Thursday, November 7, 2013

Affordable Care Act - Is it?

I have been trying to negotiate the ACA website for the past two weeks. I didn't try too much the first several weeks as I was waiting for the kinks to get worked out.

Well the kinks are still there. I need to say yay or nay to Mike's health plan at his job no later than next Wednesday. I have made it through most of the site, I have actually seen the plans a couple of times...

The thing I haven't see is how much the subsidy will help me. Right now I pay about what the plan costs - $500/ month to be on Mikes plan. Since we don't make the $78,000 level for a family of three we will be subsidized...By how much I don't know.

I also don't know if my doctor will take the various incantations of Florida Blue and Florida options and I really don't want to leave my Dr if I can help it.

So I am going to a Navigator in person tomorrow for help.

I am pretty web savvy so I find it odd that someone else could help me navigate the site, but there's the rub

The Florida Blue guy just called me and said that the plans on the site will take my GP so that is great news. He also said that the ACA could take off about $400/month for the subsidy but because I do have health insurance available through Mike's job I may not qualify for the subsidy.

He also put a bit of doubt in my mind about the Navigators ability. That maybe I should go to Blue for help.

But they can't help determine the subsidy


I am such a fan of Obama and I know we are on the right track by getting affordable health care but this is super frustrating! Are there any good stories out there? Anyone?

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Every October we stroll thru our zoo one night with monsters, pirates, goblins, princessess and LOTS of lit Jack'olanterns. 

Each year we go with the same families we met at Jamie's Preschool at Christ the King.
I call us the Fab 11. 

The two other families have both a girl Jamie's age - Chayse and Madison, and two girls two years younger - Ali and Abby. (The babies!) 
We also usually do the Winterfest in St Augustine and last spring we all went on a great cruise to the Carribbean.

To tell the truth I am so over this event but I go for Jamie. It's ten dollar each and they give out candy. (It used to be like trick or treat, now it's about 6 candy stations where they give out about four penny candies at each station. No Chocolate.

But the girls love it. 

They love being at the zoo at dark. They love an extra opportunity to dress in their costumes. They love jumping in the bounce houses and dancing to Thriller Beat it and other traditional disco dances and they LOVE being together.

So next year I am sure we will go again.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Missing my Mom

This was taken on Mothers Day this year and Mom died in her sleep the following Tuesday night/Wed Morning. I think about her every day - I have this photo on my Ipad home screen so her face greets me several times a day.

I still can't believe she is gone.

She has always been there for me. (Even when I maybe didn't want/need her there.)

And therein lies the guilt. I wish I had taken her on one of the cruises we went on. She was so disabled it would have been tough on her. There is a lot of walking involved on a ship and some of it could be rough.

Or I should have went over more and just hung out with her. She told me about a month before she died that she thought she wouldn't make it through the year.And I didn't take that seriously. I said, cmon Mom you have so much to live for, don't say that!

I ignored the signs...She was losing control of her bodily functions and she just didn't feel well most of the time. Her apartment had a foul odor. My brother said it was her body deteriorating that smelled so bad. Some of the items we took out of her apartment had that odor in it.

She was dying. She was only 72 years old but she had had bad health for many years. Diverticulitus, Lung disease, Congestive heart failure, breast cancer twice, diabetes and many other problems. She was dying but I wouldn't ...couldn't see the signs.

She is gone. I miss her every day.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Found Dog gets new Home

We were awakened to a neighbor calling us at home Saturday morning saying they thought our dog was in their driveway. It was a golden retriever type dog, but it wasn't Samson. It was a young female and it appears she had been dumped. The husband of that family DID NOT want another pet although the young wife named Tara did. I told her I would take her home to my back covered porch to hang out while we tried to find her owner.

The poor dog didn't wish to leave the area where she had appeared Friday night around midnight. I tried to get her in my car at noon on my way to floor duty at the office but she wouldn't get into my car.

I was under orders from my husband not to bring another animal INTO our house. Well I wasn't planning on bringing her into the house. Just into our back porch.

When I came home from floor duty later that afternoon, she was still there in the front yard. I tried again to get her into my car and it was no go. She was determined to stay on the street.

So I rolled my car about 2 miles an hour calling through the open windows, "Come on Pretty, come on girl!..." and she followed me home. I had gotten a leash on her, but it was still a challenge getting her into the back porch.

I put up flyers all over the neighborhood and put her on Craigslist as a FOUND DOG, and called the Golden Retriever rescue group in our town G.R.E.A.T. The lady said she would be able to come get her Monday or early in the week.

I got no calls...NO CALLS?! If you lost your dog wouldn't you check Craigslist? or drive around looking for flyers?

Monday morning I took her to the vet and she didn't have a chip. Then GREAT called and said they were trying find a place for her.

Tuesday the lady from GREAT called back and said she didn't have a place for her. That the organization was out of funds, that they may have a spot at the end of the month.

Oh great. So I am sure Jamie thought we were going to keep her. After all she was very well behaved and was ok around Samson (She let him be the Alpha dog). She was also fine (But curious about) our cats. But I was determined not to break my promise to my husband. I kept the dog out of the house, though it broke my heart to see her little face looking in at us when I said goodnight to her each evening.

The neighbor lady, Tara called and said she DIDN"T want the dog to go to the shelter NO MATTER WHAT...but she couldn't take her.

So now what? More posters, trip to Pet stores to post flyers bringing her sweet face with me each time in hopes of finding her a home. I put the word out at my office and on my Facebook page. I DIDN"T post a free pets ad on Craigslist as too many weird and bad things happen to 'Free' pets that are obtained on Facebook, however Tara did.

She called me and said she got flooded with calls immediately after posting the Free Dog ad and got worried and a bit creeped out. So she texted a message to all in her phone and she got a great response, from a family with 2 kids and two small dogs who always wanted a golden!

So Lila or "Delilah' got a new home!

Get it? Samson and Delilah?

I saw another stray dog yesterday by my daughters school, but this time I didn't answer the call.

I hope someone else did.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

More Kelnepa Drive or 'Oops I blogged too fast!'



Continuing on my 'walk' down Kelnapa on Google Maps I found the other house so that isn't the same house.
They are so similar I wonder if they were constructed at the same time?
Further down the street were a couple of river front houses that couldn't be seen from Google Maps one of which was being marketed by my competitor at the time of the photo. Its a 6200 sf mansion on the river that was on the market in 2009 but didn't sell for the $1,200,000 asking price.  Here is the house once you get past that gate:

 Check out the Master bath:
and the 'River Room':
and here is the view:
Here is another Kelnepa jewel built in 1927, a 2 bedroom house with about 2000 sf that sold in 2011 for over $400,000. It is lovely inside and has a pool in the back. But really? Only 2 bedrooms?

 Ok so now you know what a Realtor does on Floor duty on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
Well this Realtor anyway.

Old Homes with History

I just love looking at  houses, one of the reasons I became a Real Estate agent or a Realtor as we are known when we pay all the dues to be fully accredited with the national, state and local boards.

Jacksonville has many older neighborhoods with different archetectural styles and there is a street near my office named Kelnepa Drive. It was a one street subdivision devised in the 1920's by a real estate developer and his wife. This is from the Metro Jacksonville site:

Lumber dealer Thomas M. Keller and his wife Ella Canipa Keller combined their surnames to coin the name "Kelnepa," which they gave to this block long subdivision.  Kelnepa was typical of many of the 1920's Florida land boom developments, born of speculation and left unfinished when the real estate bubble burst in 1927.  The Kellers employed Victor Zambetti, a contractor who owned the Art and Ornamental Stone Company, to handle the construction in Kelnepa.  The houses are highly unusual in their use of concrete blocks in conjunction with the Mediterranean Revival style.
Source: Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage, page 259

The above photo is from said article (which is originally from the book that is sourced which is such a cool book) so I went on Google Maps to see if I could find the map 'walking down the street' and I believe this is the same house. Apparently the Google maps photo is a bit outdated as the article is from 2010.

Doesn't the house look better now? And they kept the same original character of the house. And isn't it cool to think there was a real estate bubble that burst in the late twenties? History does repeat itself.

So cool. I love what I do.

Monday, July 8, 2013

More Cruising photos

On our way to Grand Caymen Island Jamie liked the Boat ride!
Dressed for thrills

At a cool hidden away pool attached to a bar at Grand Caymen Island
 (Maybe we will go there next time!)
Mommy and Jamie enjoying breakfast with a view

Monday, July 1, 2013

We have become Cruisters

So we went on our first cruise in March and I just booked our second. I can't believe this. Never did I think I would become someone who wanted to hang out on a cruise ship.

But it's so much more than that really. It's a floating all inclusive hotel room that takes you around to cool ports with fun sun soaked fun things to do.

Like Snorkeling, Dolphin, sting ray and pirate encounters, or just laze around by a pool or at a wonderful beach in exotic locales.

Also as much as Carnival has gotten a bad name they really do it up nicely. Did you know that they actually lose money on the fares they collect to make it back on the booze and casino proceeds?

Not a bad deal for those of us that don't frequent either! (Well we have been know to have a drink or two occasionally but both of us can do without it)

They have an all you can drink package and it's $800 each I think. That is just ridiculous. I can't even imagine drinking that much even if the drinks are $8 and up - that would be 8 drinks aday to break even!

Right now I am considering some excursions. We will be going to Belize, Cozumel and Grand Caymen and one other stop. I am inclined towards snorkeling as I so enjoyed it once off the coast of Key West in my twenties. And Jamie LOVES to snorkel and swim like a mermaid.

More later as this is consuming my thoughts and internet time lately/

Saturday, June 1, 2013

RIP Judy Wilhelmi September 1940-May 2013

RIP Mom - you will be missed.

I am still in shock and it's been over 2 weeks. She died in her sleep in her favorite recliner at home.

She just recently stopped coloring her hair, the photo on top was in October, and the one on the bottom was on Mothers Day. I talked her into stopping  as she was constantly battling the grey and I think it looked great either way.

I am so glad we had her over for a wonderful steak dinner on Mothers Day. She seemed fine. She needed a haircut and I was going to take her to get one that week. She died that Wednesday.

She knows she was loved and Jamie brought so much joy to her these last 7 years.

About 2 months ago she told me she didn't think she would live throughout the year. That she was ready. She was tired of being in pain.

I am still crying most days. I finished cleaning her apartment out yesterday. Our garage is crammed full with her stuff.

I miss my Mom.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Every year we go to O'Leno State park for a weekend retreat with our church. Part of the weekend includes several of us floating down the Ichetucknee River. It's quiet, it's tranquil, it's so lovely...
But this year Mike decided he didn't really enjoy it and wouldn't be joining us.
So Jamie and I went along with the group without him. We also rented two tubes as tubes don't get caught up on the sides and submerged logs as much as the inflatable rafts Mike usually prefers.
Well, so much for tranquility and peace. Someone told Jamie about gators and the possibility of them being there on the banks. (Guess she didn't know they could swim).

She screamed and moaned and cried all the way down the river. "Mommy please, mommy I am freaking out, MOMMY!!! DON"T LET IT TOUCH THE SIDE! Mommy please!?!
Luckily some kayakers going upstream came along and said there was a manatee coming upstream.
It seemed to break the panic spell she was under and the last 20 minutes or so she was calmer.

Next year she stays with Mike at the camp and I go on my serene float with the group.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

This Real Estate Market is HOT HOT HOT!

I love what I do so much! This is my new listing that just went on the market Tuesday and already has 2 offers on it. We should have an agreed upon contract in hand this weekend when the seller decides which to go ahead with. I can't reveal what it sold for until it closes.

Let me just say if you have a house that you would like to sell "NOW IS THE TIME!!!" Let me make this very clear!! There are tons of buyers out there and not much in the way of inventory. 4 years ago, the MLS in my market - NE Florida had over 15,000 house, now there are only just over 7000.

More stats: Last year first quarter Average Sales Price - $140,554, This year Average Sale price $154,862.

So what is happening is a house will come on the market and if it's priced fairly there will be multiple offers the first week. (Especially with houses under $150,000). I have two couples who have been searching for months. One of them has made offers on 4 houses. One of them was a Short sale which turned out needed a roof, New AC and lots of repairs from Wood rot. The others were all multiple offer situations in which they missed out due to higher and better offers. And still they have no house.

The other couple wants a lot for not enough $$. If you want certain things in your new home you cannot be picky about location. Or if you are picky about location you will have to give up things like 'Open Floor Plan" "Granite countertops, and new cupboards" "at least 1500 sf" "2 car garage" etc.

Something will have to give and yes you may have 'to settle' for some things missing in your first house.

But most of all you have to move fast and be decisive in this HOT HOT HOT market today!

What that means to a Realtor is I have to be ready to show my buyers a house every day. If you snooze you lose!

If you have a house to sell or would like to buy please get with me. Even if you aren't in my market area - which is most of Northeast Florida, I can refer you to an agent in our national network "The Leading Real Estate Companies of the World" They will get you with an agent who is best suited for your buying or selling needs. And it will help me as well. Gold Stars are what makes a good agent. Help me help you!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Parents are not the enemy!

I am on both sides of the education triangle. Jamie is in first grade and Mike is a tenth grade World History  teacher.

For some reason there has been a rallying cry against teacher for the past several years. It's as if much of society sees teachers as lazy souless drones just going in and getting a paycheck for standing or sitting in a room with their students and not teaching them properly.  I know all too well how hard teachers work. I get it, I really do, I am married to one after all. He works from 6:30 am until at least 4 pm every day and then spends most nights working for several more hours. He sometime spends all night grading papers, writing lesson plans and preparing for the myriad of demands put on him not only by his own administration, but by the county, the state and national standards and personnel; and of course the demands of his own high standards of not taking shortcuts. Ex all of his homework assignments require lots of knowledge even to grade the work. I have rarely been able to even help grade papers because of this. He doesn't have multiple choice or fill in the blank work.

Anyway, now that I have a first grader I find myself confronted by the personnel in the small elementary school where Jamie attends. I feel like they brace themselves against me and other parents. That we are the 'thorn in their paw'...that their jobs would be SO MUCH EASIER if we didn't come in to the office or make calls into the office.

WTH!?? This is so much a part of our world today. Nobody wants to deal with anyone else's crap.  There is no customer service anymore with phone trees, long lines for everything we buy and no individualized attention from anything from getting a mortgage approved to trying to locate something in the store at Walmart.

We are all islands swirling around each other trying to find our way...

OK I went WAYYYY off on a tangent here. Here is what happened last week at Jamie's school:

I volunteer in Jamie's classroom every Monday morning for a couple of hours. I help with lesson preparation by cutting and stapling, I sharpen pencils, and fix the teachers bulletin board, I even move around the classroom helping kids and redirecting them to do their work each week.

So the office personnel know me well. Well last week was Jamie's Daddy Daughter dance. And I forgot to bring in the money by the deadline which was last Monday. So I asked if I could possibly bring it in the next day as they don't take a check or credit card, it has to be cash or a money order. The lady told me they needed a count, and I assured her I would bring it in that next day so she said it would be ok.

Then they wouldn't accept it. The principal had laid down the law and wouldn't allow any late payments.

Ok I get it. They have rules. And rules shouldn't be broken apparently in any case. I stood there pleading my case to not only the two office ladies but the principal but they wouldn't budge. ("What is it a sit down dinner? Why can't you take late payments, it's a fund raiser...Etc etc"

I left feeling like they had won and I had lost.

I just think there is another way to treat parents. Would it really be a big deal to take late payments? Perhaps with some sort of penalty. Such as $5 more per ticket or you need to bring your own snacks and drinks. I am not saying I should get special treatment...I am saying all parents should be accommodated if it's possible. Come on who's it going to hurt...and you know it just may help a kid and isn't that what it should be all about?

So Jamie missed her Daddy Daughter Dance.

Ok that is my rant for today.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My lovely Aunt Elaine

 My Sweet aunt Elaine is one of my favorite people in the world. Pictured above in snapshots from earlier times). She moved down to Florida about 8 years ago  with her husband Nelson- she lives on the other side of the state from me. She moved into a older adult mobile home community and she is the social maven of the neighborhood. She has card or board games at her house frequently, keeps a beautiful creatively eclectic house and is so much fun to be around.

She just found out she has stage four liver cancer. She was acting like she didn't mind. That she wouldn't pursue treatment. Apparently there is a chance for her with a liver transplant.

I hope it happens.

My daughter has had the occasion to be around her only once since she was a baby. She visited us at the beach condo we rented the summer Jamie was five and Jamie LOVED her. Aunt Elainedrew in the sand with Jamie, ran through the waves with Jamie and just generally cut up and stole my baby's heart. The cutest video ever of my sweet Aunt Elaine talking baby talk to my baby is here. Go see it and see how sweet she is...

Pray for her...I love her so.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Nail fun

I have been playing with nail art a bit. Jamie is rabid about fingernail painting. She had lost her privileges for 2 months (Until she was 7) and now that she is seven she has the privilege back. I did flowers on our nails last weekend. Mine lasted until today, hers lasted  not even one day.

Tonight Jamie went on an overnight visit to her good friend Emily's and Mike went to see Lincoln so I had a delicious night home alone. (Is it wrong to enjoy having the house to myself!?) And since I worked today and yesterday, yes another weekend working both days, but I still love it! I felt I deserved a 'me night'.

Love this design above but I don't have white. So I found this design online of rainbow animal prints.

Worked ok on the left hand (using my right hand to do it) but when doing the right hand it messed up a bit.The above photos is from this site  -

OK this was my first attempt at the rainbow animal print nails. It was fun but they sure aren't perfect. For one thing I need black for the lines and spots but not bad for my first attempt eh?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Realtor Graduate Institute

I am learning how to be a better Realtor. Today I sat all day in class learning and listening to part one of 6 days of the GRI Course. There are three parts to get the designation of GRI and I am one 18th of the way through it. LOL

As a new agent we have to complete 45 hours of post licensing classes the first two years and my first two years will be up this year. I could have just taken the 45 hour class for much less ($130 instead of $380) but it wouldn't have given me any credit towards any of the many designations that are available for Realtors.

Here are a few of the many accreditations available for Realtros today. Yup - Alphabet Soup.
GRI = Graduate of Real Estate Institute 
ABR = Accredited Buyer Representative 
CRS = Certified Residential Specialst 
SRES = Senior Real Estate Specialist
CIPS(Certified International Property Specialist) 

I hope I will be able to get some of these as I feel it does make me look like more of a professional and knowing more helps my confidence level. You have to have confidence to do this job.

If you are a regular reader here tell me what you do to improve yourselves both professionally and personally. It's a new year after all.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Modern pants don't fit

Ok a little New Years Moaning...

My figure just doesn't fit well in these new pants that are cut low. My hips and butt are slim but I guess it's my tummy which has never been flat and is now beyond that possibility probably forever. I know, I know they call them 'Mommy Jeans' - the ones I feel more comfortable in that come up to your belly button or at least close. These that are cut low often fall off of me unless I cinch them tight with a belt and that's not always comfortable. What's up with that? Disclaimer -This isn't me or my belly...

It did occur to me that I have lost a bit of weight this year and maybe have moved down a size. I went out and tried on several pairs of pants in fourteens instead of sixteens and I loved how the smaller sized jean fit me until I tried to wear a knit top and my 'muffin' roll was too unsightly above the pants....

Christmas was great, but now I want to sleep until 8:30 or nine every day! Me and my family both slept in until 9 today and I had a 10 am appointment and Jamie had gym at the same time. Wish we were of the upper class nobility as in Downton Abbey where we didn't know what a weekend was. Where all days would be long and lanquid and filled with fun and relaxation.

I wish my body didn't feel so old. I use a heating pad every night and get a massage at least every other week. My bones are aching...(I was recently diagnosed with arthritis in my back. Not sure what that means other than - My bones are aching). Losing weight may help both with this issue and the pants not fitting, what do you think?

I wish selling real estate was easier or should I say simpler. I haven't had one 'gimme' deal. Every single one of the six deals that closed and the 12 or so others I wrote that are either in pending or where never accepted has been complicated and learning experiences. I am grateful that I was able to close 6 houses at over a million in production however as many new agents don't get this far. I am hoping to at least double my production and have 12 deals at 2 million for 2013. Today was a small snapshot of the ups and downs of the business. I met a new buyer at a house that her offer was accepted between the holidays this morning for a home inspection. The house was built in the 20s and is charming and lovely (Pictured above). It needs lots of structural work done though, both to shore up the foundation, replace the outer walls as well as some electrical and plumbing to the tune of probably $30,000. She may or may not move forward with this particular home purchase. Leaving the home inspection I met another customer who I just talked to yesterday for the first time who wanted to see one house. She liked it and made an offer today. We  have already countered to their counter offer and are waiting to see if they accept.

Ahhh Real estate. I love this job and nobody ever said it would be easy!!