Friday, May 27, 2011

Moving On....

Word is out.  I'm moving.

What's that you say, you know my house is for sale?

No, I'm seriously moving on.


I am so excited.  Scared.  Happy.  Eager.  A bit anxious.

I have a new job in Florida working "in-house" which means no more billable hours, no more marketingno more cool shoes because I can't afford them  - oh well.

Yes, I am moving closer to the Captain.  A.  Lot.  Closer.  We are not sure yet if we are sharing a roof.  But we are definitely going to be in the same town.  Imagine.  Dinner together.  Perhaps Breakfasts together.  Working out together.  Maybe catching a movie.  Doing chores.  Gardening.  Trips to Home Depot. 

I seriously cannot wait.

I told BossMan yesterday that I am leaving.  It was really really hard to do.  I do love my Big DC Firm.  I love my friends here (9 years worth!).  I have a great firm and my practice group is one of the best in the country in our practice area.  I have a LOT of friends here.  And it will be hard to leave.

They have tried to woo me back.  But they just can't compete with the CAPTAIN!

I am not moving until the end of July/beginning of August.  I still have a house to sell.  I have kids coming from Spain in July.  But I am leaving my Firm June 10, flying to Ft. Lauderdale June 10, picking up my new laptop and new blackberry and a pile of cases June 13, and flying back to MD June 15 where I will "work from home" until late July.  Sweet deal.

It's an adventure to be sure.  It's a lot of change all at once, but changes I have been contemplating for years.  I think it's the right thing, the right opportunity, and I'm excited!  When I'm not trembling. 

And? My Firm offered me a safety net - in writing - that if it doesn't work out, I can come "home."  I told you it's an awesome place that will be hard to leave.

But coming home from work and looking out on the water, hold the Captain's hand and staring out at the sunset?  Priceless 

Yes the "Change the title of the Blog" contest is still on - so now this gives you more ideas, right?  You still have until June 1 to suggest titles!!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Hilarious Father and GermEnglish (aka Schnibble Deutsch)

Way before I came along, Mom and Dad and the first 3 kids lived in Germany.  Dad was a paid killer.

What?? He always tells people he was a Paid Killer!  Ok OK He was in the Army.  (I told you he's Hilarious!).   He was in "field artillery" whatever that means besides now he's deaf as a stone.

Dad was making BIG BUCKS back then - just like those horribly overpaid military people do now - probably a couple hundred dollars a month.  A Month.  With three kids to feed.  Yeah, real big bucks. 

Mom and Dad were moving out of their luxury apartment that was slightly bigger than a shoe box.  Apparently in those days, the landlords came by and painted before you left and then did an inspection.  These high-priced painters took time to tape everything out and only paint what should be painted slapped the paint on, including painting the lock on the catch on the door shut so that the lock wouldn't pop out.  Dad didn't want to chip it out himself for fear he would make a mess and get charged for damage, so he called the German version of the Building Super.

Now Dad didn't exactly speak German.  Dad communicates in a lot of languages, but, for example, despite growing up in a French speaking household, he failed French.  He has his own way of "speaking" languages.

Mom's in the kitchen, half way into the stove wiping it out (no self cleaning ovens in the 50's!)  She's real tall - 5'2" -  and weighed about 99 pounds, so she pretty much was sitting in the oven scrubbing it out.  The door at issue was some kind of fancy folding door between the enormous (ha-ha) galley kitchen and the dining area.  Unlike Dad, Mom has the gift of actually speaking a few foreign languages.  She can't understand a word you say when you answer her, but she can formulate the most perfect, grammatical sentences in Spanish, German and French.  Don't worry, her English is fluent both ways.

So Mom's sitting in the oven and the German version of Tim the Tool Man Taylor walks in.  Dad points to the door and demonstrates the problem.  Mr. German Tim inspects the door, turns the handle a few times, shrugs his shoulders, and looks at Dad.  Dad says to the man, in Dad's version of perfect German, "De klinckin wit da hammar, ya?!" and makes a hand motion like he's smacking the door with a hammer.

Mom is laughing so hard at what she has long ago dubbed Dad's Schnibble Deutsch (like Spanglish but funnier), she falls completely into the oven.

Mr. German Tim gets a Big Smile on his face and responds, "Ya!  Ya!"

WHAM, de klinckin wit de hammar and the Lock is Free.  No paint chipped.  No docking Dad's meager salary.  Whew...

Good thing Dad picked up a little German in the TWO YEARS he lived there.

What?  That wasn't German?  How about this:
Mom came home from errands one day (in Germany) and Dad, who was supposed to be home, was gone.  Their housekeeper was there so Mom took a chance and asked her if she knew where Dad was.  Dad spoke no German, Fraulien Maria Spoke No English, but what the heck.  And Maria tells mom (in German)  with confidence, "He's at the bank." 

Dad gets home and mom says, "What did you tell Maria before you left?"
Dad says, "I told her I was going to the bank."
"No," says Mom, "What exactly did you SAY?"
Dad says, "Ish been goin to da bankin"

Cue peals of laughter from Mom ....

Or the time when Captain Dad had a little problem on Base.  Seems the boys got a little rowdy one night and knocked the drinking fountain around and it broke.  Dad had two Lieutenants who worked for him who spoke pretty decent German.  But when the German Workman came, he "spoke" with Dad. 

Dad tells the German Workman: "Das bubbler esh kaput."
German Workman:  "Ya yah"  and fixes the water fountain.
As the German Workman leaves, he tells the Lieutenants (in German) (out of earshot of Captain Dad), "From now on when I come, I would like to speak with Captain Dad - he's the only one who speaks German."

Dad hears roars of laughter from the outer office.

Dad says "what's so funny?"  Lieutenants tell him what German Workman said about wanting to speak with dad. 
Still laughing they said, "No offense Captain Dad, but you don't speak German!!!"

He's a character...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Problem with Working in the City

Last night I stayed up way too late playing Angry Birds, playing Shark Attack, drafting a brief.  Which means less than 3 hours sleep.  Which means I am totally exhausted by 2pm.

I finished Facebooking, surfing the net, blogging, drafting the brief at work around 2 and was waiting for comments so I  decided to walk around the block to the local drug store and get some comfort food some health food some makeup.  The weatherman said we were going to have horrible terrible storms including hail and dangerous flood-warning rain, which meant it was gorgeous and sunny outside.  Not kidding.

The walk over wasn't bad - it's a couple blocks, just the right amount to wake me up a little so that I could go back to blogging, facebooking, drafting the brief.

The walk home, however, was dreadful.

There are 37.5 restaurants between my office and the drug store.  All crammed on two blocks!  Really!  Ok There are only 3 plus a coffee shop plus Frozen Yogurt plus a deadly Cupcake shop that I have miraculously managed to avoid for months.  And no that is all true, not kidding.  Anyway, on my way back from the drug store, I have to walk right through the lovely outdoor cafe of the Mexican restaurant where damned tourists happy-go-lucky, carefree individuals are sitting outside, drinking giant margaritas!  I ask you, where is the Justice?  How can they just sit there and torment me?

I check my watch - it's 2:37 p.m. - too late for lunch which I already had (if Lean Cuisine counts?  Sadly it does).  It's too early for happy hour and plus I have more Facebooking to do a brief to finish, and I have a game tonight.

I realize then and there that I must get out of this city.  The stress is killing me.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Quilt

When my oldest brother married his sweetheart 34 years ago my Aunt J & cousin LF came up with a brilliant idea.  (OK I'm not sure who thought of it and I think cousin LF did the first few?!)  A few months before the wedding, each family member on the Groom's side received some cloth squares in the mail with instructions to 1) sign your name in cursive on the square - legibly please - and return to Cousin/Aunt and 2) DON'T MENTION THIS TO THE GROOM/BRIDE.

On the eve of the wedding, Aunt & family showed up from far away in middle America with The Wedding Gift:  a beautiful handmade quilt with all the signatures of the family embroidered (quilted?  Hell IDK.  We've already established I am NOT craft-abled!).  Included in the quilting was also the wedding day and the place.  A priceless gift.  We all cried.

Thus the tradition began of The Wedding Quilt.

Again the benefits of being the Baby - by the time my wedding rolled around, it was no longer a surprise, so I got to choose my colors.  And no, it wasn't Pink.  My all time favorite color is still blue.

But I had to wonder - Grandma and Pop had long since passed - would they be missing on my quilt?

Nooooo, they would not be missing.  My Aunt thought ahead and had them sign enough squares for all of us.  See?  There they are!!!

 Even though I knew it was coming, I still was beside myself when it actually arrived.  It is a work of art.

No, we never actually used the quilt - but we painstakingly put it on the bed every morning and folded it up every night and put it on the quilt rack.

Until the Divorce.  Who wants a Wedding Quilt with his name on it??!!

I mentioned this once and JO said, "I bet a certain sister-in-law of mine could fix that." 

On one of DF's trips through town, I mentioned it to him.  He had my kids sign squares (and my new sister-in-law who replaced a certain not-very-well-liked SIL also signed one) and took the quilt and the squares home to his bride.

I had kind of forgotten about it - I think it might have been last year? 

On his latest trip up north, DF said, "Hey come out the car - I have to get something."

And there it was - THE QUILT.

Except now?  My kids are on the quilt - with the thread and the stitching and the signature sizes exactly matching those in the same row (the miracle of computers or so DF tells me).

AND my "new" SIL is also on the quilt, replacing the rather nasty previous name.

I was so happy and so sad and so overcome, all at the same time.  I truly have an amazing, loving and supportive family - yes and then I cried.

Sadly, my Aunt and my Cousin are no longer with us, but I think they would approve of the alterations.  The Quilt is back on my bed, bringing joy to my every day, just as they intended.  And their signatures, below.

And JO I still love the message you left on my quilt!!  (I can't figure out how to turn the photo)

I also love the handprint of the niece who was too young sign. 

And somehow, Stinky Butt has figured out that THIS Quilt is not to be jumped on or burrowed under!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Other Side of a Year

It seems like just yesterday we were saying goodbye.

Somehow I find myself back home with two kids and Chaos (not complaining!) and wondering where the year has gone.

Some striking changes: 

  • Son's maturity.  Suddenly he is putting others first.  On his first full day home, he mowed both lawns (without being asked) and completed numerous other tasks.  His attention to detail and initiative is amazing.  He has always been good about helping around the house, but this was pretty amazing.
  • Daughter's Diligence:  She has always been pretty organized - when she was about 7 she handed me a list one month before her birthday of people to invite, games to play, and food to serve.  But she has demonstrated a diligence to her school work and building her resume that I have never before witnessed.  Her grade point average is astounding to say the least, never mind the volunteering at the Humane Society and other volunteer activities.
  • Twin Love:  I wondered how they would be separated by many miles and many hours.  When they lived home, Son was a clinger, Daughter a Loner.  Turns out they skyped/texted/called each other at least daily.  When one was in crisis, the immediate call was to the Other.  I had hoped this day would come - they sometimes did it in high school, but not often.  I am thrilled they truly love and care about each other so much.  I figured they had it in them, but I'm so happy to see it proved out.
  • Children as Friends:  This is a tough one - I have always enjoyed doing activities with them, but as the parent you have to maintain the "responsible, authority figure."  The fact is, they've been away at school for a year, making decisions, staying out all night, "probably" doing slightly unlawful things.  They are not going to return home to the midnight curfew and choir boy lifestyle (ha ha I know they weren't choir boys in high school, but honestly they were pretty close).  I am trying to walk that balance of the new reality with "but you're in my house now."  This conflict of The College Student Returns Home is the Number One thing I've always heard college kids AND parents complain about - so far it is working for us - and I am LOVING hanging out with them even more!
Big changes are on the horizon, but I still can't share in the public forum yet.  Next year is sure to be rather momentous for all of us.  I can only hope that a year from now, I am again celebrating our strong bonds and our accomplishments!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Just When You Thought He Couldn't Make Me Mad Anymore....

I think it's been a while since I actually posted about the Ex.  Pretty much I just think it's funny that he lives next door and tries to ignore me.  I can be hard to ignore.  Especially when I don't want to be ignored.

But the latest one really got me.

I am moving.  Or trying to move.  House cleaned up, For Sale sign out front.  C'mon offer!!!

Part of the moving process is ditching a lot of stuff I don't want any more.

Now, you might find this a little weird, but our divorce agreement gives each other the "right of first refusal" on personal property.  So about a month ago, I called Ex and said, "Pursuant to our divorce agreement, I am calling you to give notice that I am selling the house and selling certain furniture.  If you want anything, please come over and review it."  (yes I did say pursuant.  no I didn't.  Yes I did.  really.  OK I'm a lawyer.  I like the word Pursuant).

He was quick to hop on what he thought was the "free stuff" bus.

I won't bore you with the truly boring blow-by-blow walk-through of the house where he showed up with a tape measure, pen and pencil, but suffice it to say he wanted anything he thought he could get his hands on.

I decided to "give" him the pool table, because we bought that for the kids.  ("give" because he has to pay to move it).  I decided to give him all the unwanted lawn tools in the shed - old tractor, trailer, etc - because originally the agreement said he got outside stuff and I got inside stuff, but we each left each other a few things.  (I had to take back some of the things he tried to remove that weren't part of the items marked "giving away" - seriously dude you have a compressor built in to your house with a pump and long hose that runs to your garage - why do you want my little portable compressed air holder that retails for $10 and is a total *&^%bitch to fill at the gas station where I pay 75 cents for 2 minutes?)

But when it came to the bedroom furniture - solid cherry and solid mahogany, quality stuff - I drew the line.  I gave him a price (about 1/4 of retail). 

He waited a few weeks, then drafted this "woe is me" email about how it "just isn't right" that he should have to pay me for something he already bought.  Then he went on to imply that anything I sell on ebay or wherever, he should get 1/2 the proceeds.

Why yes my head did spin around and I did spit fire.

Then I drafted a response email.

I took out all the (good) snarky stuff.  And left just the facts:

1) For our property agreement, Ex, Mr. Anal, drafted a thorough spreadsheet of EVERY item in the house and gave EVERY item a value - most of them "full value" not depreciated;
2) Ex did item #1 above because I was getting most of the items in the house and he needed to "up" my side of the spreadsheet;
3) Even at inflated values for personal property, Ex's 1/2 of the pot was $160,000 more than mine (he took his 401K, I took the house, basically, was how it went down);
4) At the mediation, the lawyer asked ME, not HIM if I was ok with the "uneven" distribution of assets;
5) I have never complained about the "uneven" distribution of assets - I viewed it as "equitable" because I didn't have to move and there is a value in that;
6) When we signed the agreement, I "purchased" his 1/2 of all the personal property and "sold" him my 1/2 of the 401K.

I refrained from telling him he could have the bedroom furniture if I could have a distribution from his 401K.
I refrained from telling him that he could pay to me the value HE put on the spreadsheet if he didn't like my "Craigs' List" prices which were thousands lower.
I removed the part about one of us not whining or complaining and the other one needing to get over his fine self.

He hasn't spoken to me since.  (OK I know he doesn't speak to me anyway.  But he has been even more silent.  What you can't get "more silent"?  Yeah, you can.  Trust me).

Anyway, my point is, 4 years have passed and I have moved on with my life - now quite literally - and I foolishly thought that I had heard the last of, "Gee the property settlement wasn't fair and now you have to give me more stuff."

I refrained from saying, "I know the property settlement wasn't fair - can I please have $160,000??!!!"

Monday, May 16, 2011

When Chaos = Peace

Are you sick of hearing about my kids yet?

too bad

The other night I was surrounded by total chaos. 

It started when my cousin DF, who travels for his job, said he'd be in my area.  I love it when he can stop by, so of course I said YES. 

Then it turned out Daughter would be home.  YEAH

Then it turned out Daughter invited a couple friends to sleep over because they were going to get up Friday and drive to UDel to visit another friend.  Of course I said YES!
Then Daughter informed me her college friend/roommate and her sister would be in town and gee could they come by.  And sleep over.  YES!

Daughter volunteered to make dinner.  Daughter has had a few kitchen disasters in the past, but she keeps trying.  I left her with my recipe for Chicken Marsala (her favorite) which isn't totally hard but not exactly easy.  I wrote out three or four additional tidbits and tips for getting it right.  And said a prayer.  And left her an easy baked ziti recipe for her veggie friends.  I left her the credit card to go grocery shopping and asked her to make up every bed she could find. 

And I went to work.

I called at 1pm to see how things were going - friends were supposed to start coming around 3. 

She was asleep.  Napping.  Hadn't done a thing yet.  KIDS!

I got home at 6, dinner was to be at 7.  Various kids were around, helping to set the table.  Dinner was done and in the fridge waiting for a warm up.  Then she had to disappear to the metro to get yet another child.

As we called everyone to dinner, SON showed up from college!!!!  A few hours early!!  YES!!!  There was tackling on the front lawn and hoots and hollers.  And a big hug for Mama.

Then Tor Tor, high school buddy, showed up (angry with me about the For Sale sign, another story).  YES!

Not sure how many we ended up with.  The first dinner shift was 10.  Stragglers came and went all night.

After dinner, DF surprised me with my remade wedding quilt (that needs a post all its own!!)  Yes of course I cried.  duh.

Son played the piano and kids attempted to swing dance before heading to the basement for scary movies.

At about 11pm DF and I took on two of the kids in a mean game of monopoly.  All kinds of crazy rules from our childhoods - but we still managed to lose!


At 1pm, I finally had to say goodnight to DF and sadly go to BED!

5:30 am came early.  Too early.  So I went back to bed until 6 which meant scrambling to get out the door. 

It was all so worth it.  I discovered yet another kid in yet another bed that I didn't know was sleeping over.  And smiled.

The house was reasonably in tact when I got home Friday night.  And deathly quiet. Yuck.

I am so looking forward to this summer!!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

You Live WHERE?

I don't know about the rest of the country, but the east coast has some weird towns.  OK maybe the towns aren't weird, but the names are.  And it makes you wonder about the people who decide to live there.

Here are but a few examples of real towns I have been to ...

Belchertown.  Is their town motto "Got Gas?"

Hohokus.  It's like someone sneezed when they were saying hocus pokus. 

Mineral.  I think it's located between "animal" and "vegetable."

Lizard Lick.  OK I haven't really been here but it's in North Carolina and I can't believe anyone lives there...

Oh yes, I have discovered there are websites devoted to the bizarre names we give our towns.

But my personal fav? And YES I have been there....


who the hell would voluntarily live in Bumpass?

Got any strange town names you've visited recently??

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

More From My Hilarious Father (MHF) & Real Estate

Some of you may recall my previous post from My Hilarious Father.  Let me tell you, humor like his isn't a "just once" experience.  He has authorized me to share a few of his best stories with you.

Today's installment of MHF (My Hilarious Father) shares one of his many real estate experiences.

Dad was a realtor in a big small town in New England for oh...50 years?  He was well-known for the ethics class and real estate licensing classes he taught around the state and at the State University (you know, the Men's Basketball NCAA Championship school...a-hem..) I digress...

One day he did what a layman would say is "sold" a property - that is to say, his client made an offer that was to be accepted by the seller (but money had not yet changed hands.  Dad says a sale isn't a sale until title passes and money changes hands, but that's another story for another day).  But first the buyer wanted "his friend the lawyer" to look it over.  My Dad said, "Sure, why not."  My Dad, The Most Ethical Person Ever, would never give legal advice nor draft a contract without having a client give it to a lawyer, despite the fact that the lawyers always told him that Dad's contracts were better than theirs. 

So Buyer comes back to Dad and says, "My lawyer says I've offered too much."

My Dad calmly responded, "Gee that's interesting.  Mind if I call him myself?"

So Dad Calls Lawyer.

DAD:  Hey Lawyer, I'm a little hurt.


DAD:  You know I teach Real Estate Licensing classes, right?

LAWYER:  Yeah, I've heard you're the best and everyone loves your classes.

DAD:  Well, I'm a little hurt that when you got your Real Estate License you went to someone else's class.  Mind if I ask where you went?

LAWYER:  Uh.  Well, I don't have a Real Estate License.

DAD:  You Don't?  But my Buyer told me you gave him advice about the property and said he was offering too much?

LAWYER:  Oh.  Yeah. Wow.  Sorry.  I'll never do that again....

Dadism of the day, "Don't tell me how to practice Real Estate, and I won't tell you how to practice law."  (insert your own profession into "Real Estate").

Monday, May 2, 2011

Blog Renaming Contest

I'm planning on moving.

I say "planning" because I don't have a buyer for my house yet.  Technically it's not officially on the market (although a family did look at it).

And many of my faithful readers (at last count...2?  3?) have suggested I need to rename the blog.


I am officially having a "Rename the Blog" contest.  Suggestions are open until June 1.  At that time I'll post a list of my favs and then have you vote!

Prizes?  Prize you ask?  How about the Honor of my blog carrying your creative brilliance forever more?  What's that you say?  I am supposed to pay you for the Intellectual Property you created for me in renaming my blog?

Jeez there are too many lawyers hanging around this place....

PRIZE:  A surprise fitting the winner of the contest.  Yeah - a personalize prize.  How about that??!!

Let's get thinking readers!