Saturday, April 28, 2007


YAY! I remembered my password! Anyhow, for anyone who missed it, I couldn't remember my blogger password and it was being a PITA so I started a new one to show off the new house. You can see it HERE which has pictures of *drumrolls* our new house! Now that I've got this one working, that'll probably be the only post to that blog or not depending on how lazy I'm feeling!

Other than that, not much to report since I posted that one. Mostly just bored to death at the moment and missing the dogs and my itty bitty kitty. I'm semi seriously contemplating clicker training my fish for lack of other animals. (Yes it's doable and no I'm not the first to do it.) I'm not the only one missing the animals though.

Yesterday La grabbed my coffee mug which has a picture of Aussie Shepherds on it and cuddled it close, pointing to the picture and asking "Sisi? Oppie?" (Sierra and Hopie) while refusing to give it back to me lest he break it. Poor kid, every time he sees a dog he checks to see if it's them. He's had a major explosion of new words and concepts lately, getting into absolutely everything and figuring out things I don't need him to be able to figure out. (IE keys inserted in locks open them...) He's also seen more television in the past week or so than in his whole life up till this point since it's about the only thing to do atm.

We've been trying to negotiate the people into leaving the house earlier than the pre-arranged 21 days (which means the middle of next month) but we've had little joy so far with their only offer being that if we'd pay them $7000 they'd move out immediately. Yeah, sure, let me just go shake down my money tree! Sounds tempting though...

But seriously... go see my house. It's cool. And sorry Sif, I know you're going to hate the fact it's in Pakenham Upper! ~_~' I'll just have to drive you out lots or help you harrass Dave into joining Nic at lessons!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Would very much appreciate it if everyone would send good thoughts our way regarding the rental situation. We'd applied for every place we could find that was A.) available and B.) allowed pets and of those only one hasn't gotten back to us yet.

The others have all responded and needless to say were all negative. It is looking like a very real possibility that we'll have to board the animals and stay at a motel, which freaks the living daylights out of me. I do NOT want to put them in kennels and heavens help me but Hope is also entered in a bunch of shows since I thought we were going to negotiate the other place down... and the cost for boarding 3 dogs, 1 cat, 2 ferrets and 4 small birds until we get a rental that accepts animals is just under $1000 per week at the least expensive place. Not including what it'd cost to stay at a motel and store our stuff at a storage place. We've applied to a bunch more places but not sure what will happen with that so crossing fingers and trying not to just give way to the nervous breakdown that's half impending.

Meanwhile our buyers agent is looking for stuff but has found bupkiss. We decided to branch out into other areas besides the Dandenongs, looking out towards Pakenham. I have to go see the areas as I don't know what they're like except that I've vaguely heard they're near other places that erm... are of a very different atmosphere than I'd want. I love the alternative lifestyle vibe of Belgrave area. Lots of yoga places, homeopathic/wholistic places, healthfoods, eco-aware stuff etc, new Montessori place opening up and many of the people are very alternativey as well. I've only been to Packenham a few times and never went further than the scrapbook store that's maybe 100 meters off the train station but it has a very different feel from what little I saw. Cranbourne itself is not what we're looking for I think. We did look at a house in Cranbourne South which I have to say the atmosphere in the two places we looked at (right next to eachother) wasn't what we'd consider. So on one hand it'd be nice to be near a lot of dog stuff but on the other hand it's much further from L's school, possibly too far, which is tearing me to pieces.

That said, much as I'm tempted to dismiss the idea outright, our Buyers Agent found a place in Packenham Upper which is actually quite nice. Beautiful late Victorian farmhouse, sympathetically renovated, big mature gardens, 3 bedrooms, study, big kitchen/family living area, formal loungeroom, bathroom, laundry and 40x30 shed with electricity etc on 5 acres cleared FLAT pasture. It's a fair whack more expensive than we'd wanted... probably somewhere in the $670,000-680,000.00 or so when you add up stamp tax, GST etc. when we wanted to spend no more than $550,000 and avoid having to take out a loan. So we'd have to take out a loan which I don't even know if we can do because Nic has only been working at this job for a relatively short time. I feel like I'm tip toeing onto thin ice... it's unknown territory as I've always lived without having loans over my head, excepting a few relatively mild student loans. (Was mostly covered by scholarships...)

We're also packing everything into boxes and getting ready for the removalist. More money. I'm wishing we'd never have sold at this point. Okay, so not REALLY but I will miss this place as there's a tremendous amount of history in this house and better this place and secure than facing this. And yes, I'm also aware the blame for it lands squarely on my head for not beating Nic with a common sense stick harder, stuborn mule of a man that he is he has to learn everything the hard way refusing to listen to me until he's in up to his ears before admitting perhaps my several years more of experience mean I might just have a clue or two.

To make things even more impossible, L had a high fever the other day and night so NO ONE is getting any sleep except him. He spent (literally) the whole day and whole night curled up in my arms, hot and miserable, dozing but not able to get into a good sleep. Makes getting anything done impossible! He's better now, just looks like he has circles under his eyes big time but now *I* need the sleep!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The weekend and ASCV Fun Day

So Saturday was our first show out in awhile and since we didn't do any training and rocked up at the last minute without having fully groomed her and my anxiety was causing herds of butterflies to riot in my stomach, we predictably didn't do too well. You can see we were a little ugly above! 2nd of 2 in Minor Bitches, with Amanda's girlie Kinta (who was pretty and groomed and well behaved!) taking a deserved first! It's Kinta's last time in that class before she's old enough to enter the next one, so a good way to graduate eh?

Today we had another show, also at KCC. I was shocked at how many Aussie's turned up as I thought perhaps many might not have entered with the ASCV's funday being on! Turns out there was a nice entry! This was also Hope's first show out of the baby puppy classes as she's 7 months and 1 week old. Today we were the only Minor Bitch of breed, so we got that of course and had to go in with the big girls for Bitch lineup, which we didn't get. The judge looked foooreeevvveeeerr (okay, so it felt like longer than it was) at her head!

An extra treat was the ASCV's funday which we also went to, bringing Sierra along of course. Cade is a grumpy old fart so he stayed at home and away from (perish the thought) dozens of great hairy ox-dogs disturbing his sunbathing. There were probably 50 Aussie's there, from 10 week old fluff-balls to oldsters and lots of fun!

So what happens when that many Aussie's get together?????

They RUN!!!!

And RUN... (My two idjits on the far left)

And run...

And yup, you guessed it, they run some more! (The cream fuzzball is an "honorary Aussie for the day" Soft coated wheaten terrier.)

They finish this with a healthy dose of running. We also had games for the humans... one of which was the water relay. Three teams of 8 humans and their dogs, a bucket at the startline of water, a bitty little cup and a bucket some meters away.

Dopey Hopey and me. (Poor dog, I have GOT to get a better nickname for her! She's actually really clever! It's just that nothing rhymes with Hope!)

Now this was *supposed* to be a nice pic of the winning team! (US!) But look carefully at the person in the far right corner with the blue bucket...
We're all still fairly oblivious...

and note the water arching out of the bucket! ;-)

Another game was a doggy musical chairs where we had to walk and sit our dogs as quickly as possible. The slowest was eliminated each round till we hit the winner. Sierra and I came in 2nd in that! LOL

Meanwhile La, who was rather grumpy at having to sit in a pram much of the day at the shows and to prevent him from disappearing into the middle of nowhere, found his own fun with the abandoned water-bucket game buckets. (Yes, he did require a full change of clothing after. Mudball!)

I also reckon, that while it wasn't an official competition, we could have given out first places for puppy-wrangling and multiple dog leash weaving!

There was of course lunch, what we brought and what others shared. Naturally when the sausages hit the BBQ we had a few *very* attentive guests hoping for sharesies!

And what could be cuter than an Aussie baby? And Aussie baby playing with the big kids!

At the end, we tried to get all the dogs who hadn't gone home to line up. Naturally, a few of the dogs were far and away superior at this! ;-p (The gorgeous blue merle boy is Amanda's Leo if you didn't guess.)

And finally, this is MOST of the group that was still there at the time! A number of people had already packed up and left by the time we sat down to do this as it was getting late in the afternoon! That's at least 19 Aussie's in a row! My two are the end in the lower left corner, next to one of the little pups and Leo.

*yawn* Bedtime for me! I need a weekend to recover from my weekend! And wish us good luck because we're supposed to find out about if we got one of the rental places or not tomorrow!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Busy day today... out the door at the crack of dawn to meet our Buyers Agent at the Tremont house. Basically he was going to assess exactly how much renovating would cost and try to negotiate the people down if possible. He's both a Buyers Agent and an Architect, so he's great for assessing renovations!
I am NOT holding out any hope it's going to happen because my Spidey Sense tells me this place is a money pit and the people are (exactly like I predicted after the electricity thing) not going to negotiate... they'll wait and pass it off to someone who believes the RE Agent when he says $30K will fix it and doesn't have an inspection. Nic loves the place though, so for his sake we'll at least give it a go.

Our buyers agent wanted to see it for himself so he could use his assessment and the Archicenter reports to negotiate. So I meet him and (everyone fake shock here) he agrees with my assessment: it's a beautiful piece of property but the house is a disaster. He reckons my guess of $80K in renovations (after RED said $30! PMSL!) is actually quite low... he reckons he'd put $125-150K to fix the house up. Which means we'd need to get them down significantly from $510K which my bet is that it ain't gonna happen. So, the freak-chance they decide to sele cheap aside, that appears to wrap up that chapter. Nic is pretty sad but agrees it's too much.

I'm feeling equally relieved, vindicated, annoyed no one listened to my gut feelings earlier and saved us a lot of time/stress, slightly smug and a bit sad at that. The gardens and vista were absolutely spectacular and I liked the trees, flowers and fairy grotto. I'm also just feeling really anxious now that we're definitely not getting this one as it means we're definitely renting for an unspecified period of time and I'm having a hard time trusting that the universe will bring me my perfect place. Part of me wonders if I'm being realistic in wanting the "whole package" at our budget. It seems like you either see the nice house or the nice land but not both. If push comes to shove and I have to compromise, what would I choose? I really don't want to live in a house where every time I look at it I go "urg... how depressing, what an ugly place!" but on the other hand, giving up on my dream just because it's more of a risk to wait for my perfect place than settle for a pretty house and garden without the farm feels like the cowards out and I keep thinking of my MIL. She put off going after her dream of moving to the country and opening a B&B because it invovled a degree of financial risk in staying afloat until she hit the break even point and she opted to wait rather than put it on the line for her dream. At 50, her cancer came back and now she'll never have that chance... something she'd worked her whole life for. It's always struck me as so tragic, life is just too short and unpredictable not to grab every chance to live your dreams that comes your way you know?

On the upside, in rental news, we found two places within our budget that were okay with the dogs. One is in Ferntree Gully and one is in Sassafrass. They're both decent as rental properties go. FTG Rental House has neighbors with a small herd of yappers and a fence in serious disrepair (as in segments don't exist) that the agent can't guarantee they'll do anything to fix. We heard the dogs howling from the point we got out of the car. Otherwise, I like the house, it's got a big backyard for agility and a nice front yard for La to play in. In a more erm... boganish looking area though, not entirely sure I'd want to go walk the dogs at night iykwim! The second, Sassafras Rental House, is in a much nicer area, pretty streets to walk the dogs in, nice big sandbox for La to play in, ace built in computer desk and shelving! The downside is that the backyard fence is below knee-high and the neigbhors have chooks that apparently like to fencehop. I wouldn't be able to leave the dogs outside at all unless I was right there watching because they'd be over the fence in a heartbeat. The first time the chooks fencehopped I'm afraid they'd end up lunch too. The front isn't fenced either but as I said, much nicer area and lovely to go jogging in with the dogs and it's in a more "alternativey" lifestyle area... a new montessori opening up apparently, the owners are hippies, very nice, mum was BFing her 4 yo little girl which was so sweet!

So we're hoping to get one of those by Monday. Have to dash to get the papers in tomorrow after we go to our show. Which brings me to that... Hope's going to be showing tomorrow at KCC and possibly Sunday. I entered both days but didn't remember the ASCV's funday in Ruffery Lake Park which also sounds fun! However if everyone is going to be at the funday I'm not sure it'd be worth showing or if we'd be able to show and then dash over to the funday. Decisions, decisions!
La has come out with some new words in the last 2 days. "Grape", "Hopie", "Au revoir" and "Chat". Pronunciation isn't crystal clear of course (poor Hopie is "oopee" or "pee"...) but it's so horribly cute when he speaks French. I'm desperately trying to convince him to repeat "petit lapin Lala" but no luck yet! He is asking for names of things more though, constantly pointing, "Mum! See it! What's that?" in chipper little toddler-slur.

Last but not least... Sif, you'll get a kick out of this... I started a hat the same day you started one for La. It's *finally* off the knitting needles. I still need to sew it (I can't do it in the round) and figure out how to pull of the (fancy, very cool, rainforesty) decoration I've planned for it! (Now you know why I'm in awe of how fast you are! LOL)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Dear God(s, desse(s) and other powerful supreme beings),

If you can't find a twin of the previous home I mentioned closer to Richmond, could you please consider just scootching the town of Neerim North closer so I can get THIS ONE?

Sincerely yours,

Can someone please explain to me why it is that when I look in the country-that's-accessible (ie Belgrave surrounds) it's next to IMPOSSIBLE to find houses that are cute to me but when I hit a random hoo-boy-that's-FAR country search, I instantly find a dozen houses in the style I like? Honest, I wasn't even looking at the land, though as it happens, they've all got land too... just cute-factor of the houses. My fav is in Neerim North but I've seen a bunch surrounding Warrangul and Wongthaggi. All affordable. All great land for grazing and dogs. (Hey Nic, howdya feel about V-line???) And the one in the link above reminds me SO much of the place I lived in Fowlerville, which I grew up visiting when it was my great-uncles and begging my parents to build a house on the adjoining land before my great uncle passed away and I was lucky enough to live in the original home. Go figure!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Bunny Lala's Easter

On easter the Bubbly Bunny Lala and his mum and dad went to the gardens. Bunny Lala's mum and dad told him they were going to hunt for Easter Eggs. "What's that," wondered Bunny Lala because he had only ever seen one easter before and it was when he was very tiny and only concerned with guzzling as much milk as possible and sleeping.

When they got to the garden, dad went ahead and mum walked Bunny Lala around. "Watch closely Bunny Lala, let's see if we can find some Easter Eggs! They could be hidden anywhere!" Bunny Lala ran ahead, just enjoying the grass and trees until he spotted something. "There's one! An Easter Egg!"

The first egg was easy to find! Sitting right there on a rock in the sunshine, all coloured like a rainbow! They were very different than the eggs Bunny Lala had eatten for breakfast and even very different than the ones he'd splattered from the carton in his mums fridge one day.

After putting the first Easter Egg into the basket, he looked around for others. He couldn't see any others, so he sat and thought where to go next. Where could those eggs be hidden???

After a moment he took off... hot on the trail of the eggs! A group of Japanese tourists came by and in unison whipped out their cameras, aimed and snapped photos squealing at the cute little easter bunny zipping around the garden. Everywhere he went, people smiled and giggled at him. The Bubbly Bunny Lala being a bit of a ham, played to his crowed, chattering and offering everyone easter eggs.

Before long though, he spotted another one! This one was perched high on top of a rock and it took a bit of climbing to get it!

But as with all eggs, into the basket it goes!

The next one was even easier!

With all these eggs, the basket was getting heavy. Suddenly Bunny Lala noticed there were no more eggs... when he looked, at the end of the trail after he'd picked up the very last egg was a BASKET! Not just any basket though, this one had a stuffed bunny and two books... one about a little girl and her dog and one about bunnies!

Bunny Lala loved the books and read them on the spot, chattering away about the fun he'd had finding all the Easter Eggs and then finding his basket!

(In less charming news, Bunny Lala's mum then went out to dinner with Bunny Lala's dad and Cousin Nina. Bunny Lala's dad spotted "an old family friend" and stopped to chat. Afterwards, Bunny Lala's mum found out that the nice gentleman and his wife were actually a French Count and Duchess. Bunny Lala's mum was unamused not to have been told this earlier because she was very tired, wearing no make-up, was quizzed about a state she didn't live in (which she didn't know the answer to!) and had a drip of ice-cream Bunny Lala had splattered on her shirt smeared. *sigh* It was perhaps not quite the impression she would have wished to have made!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

It's a hard-knock life...

Nic took La so I could get a bit of gardening in, so I spent the afternoon lifting and dividing a number of plants and pulling out ones we're taking with us. I now have a lawn full of styrofoam crates that are planted with cuttings, divisions and iris we're taking so I'm feeling very nostalgic about moving and leaving our plants behind. Pretty much every plant in this garden except for the 90 year old rose was either chosen by my mother-in-law, Nic's grandfather, myself or Nic and has significance.

Of course, while doing all this work, what do you expect my faithful helpers were doing?

"Eh? She talking about us again?"

"Nah, couldn't be."

"Can you believe she made us MOVE?!? I mean, seriously, like she couldn't find somewhere else to weed and prune and dig than our patch of sunshine?!?"
And last but not least one of Miss Hope looking rather grown up. I'm TRYING to teach the little turkey to put her ears up like this for the show ring. It's so annoying because her natural tendancy is to put them up but more to the sides when she alerts, which isn't incorrect but not as flattering on her imo.

Oh, to answer Kristie's question from my last post, the breeds of sheep we're thinking of are Border Leicester, Finnsheep and Corriedale... though at this point it's more likely Corriedales are my choice, or maybe Corridale composites with Finnsheep for higher lambing rates and BL's for growth. (And ME, being a real estate agent for someone?!? Gosh that's a scarey thought! I don't know what the heck I'm doing with my property!!! LOLOL)
New Link: Long-Term Health Risks and Benefits Associated with Spay/Neuter in
Dogs by Laura J Sanborn
(April 2007)

Okay, so I made my decision to terminate the Sulkie-Whinies because it's solving nothing and I'm getting on my own nerves. Getting on your own nerves is just never a good thing really!

SO, in light of being done with the S-W's I asked Nic to take Thursday off work, we rang Archicenter (for the 4th time!) and got the reports, signed papers for our lawyers, then talked to a buyers agent I found who is also an architect. If he can't negotiate it, then we'll have him source a place that suits what I'm looking for. As much as Nic loves this place and I could deal with it, it's not what I'm looking for. Last but not least finishing touches for Easter including bunny pj's for La! (Photos tonight!)

Instead I'm amusing myself by thinking of a name for the farm names. Half toying with the idea of something Herriot-ish, half toying with the idea of something French but mostly I'm loving the idea of calling it "Wits End". It's where I'm heading, we're more than half-way there already and it appeals to my sense of humor!

I *think* I've sussed out the places I want to do my livestock/sustainable farming/pasture managment and improvement stuff... I've been looking around for a few months now, churning the ideas over and forming up a plan of sorts. Since short of weather reports in hell taking a drastic turn towards the freezing and Nic deciding the BackOBurkes, Gippsland, 15-minutes-from-Woodend or Epping-and-keep-going (ironically both places I've found houses I like...) is a great idea... we'll be on -very- small acerage (yes this place is 5 acres but only 1 is usable) I'm know I'm going to have to have a very niche market to garner any profit and diversify to prevent the land from getting overtaxed and maintain profitablity in times when weather such may bring a poorer season. I want to stay profitable so I can justify staying at home with the kids (yes, plural, we're thinking we may start TTC#2 early/mid next year) and aim toward the market for organic, locally-grown produce sold under an environmental label. (Similar to what I said before but more specific.) I have a little bit of agriculture background because of where I grew up and because when I did my vet stuff at MSU, part of it included agricultural and livestock classes but they were pretty basic ones. The school itself is in Epping and looks quite reasonable, the course is a 2 year (or PT equiv) diploma course with focus on real life experience. Plus this place also has a sheep program with certs II-IV or a diploma in sheep/wool production if I wanted to go further in that arena. So I'm going to contact them to find out more and target starting for after we've moved and (if we've moved to the fixer-upper) after basic repairs have been done adn we're settled.

Likewise, I've also had a good chance to suss out a program I heard of that might be sort of kind of what I'm looking for with regards to training education. It's not a diploma program like the one I really want but could (possibly) be a stepping stone to further education in that direction. Need to find our more though because the idea is no more developed than "someone mentioned this and it sounded like it might not be completely redundant and a waste of time" atm.

Also sussed out several breeders I may end up buying my sheep from. I'd tossed around trying to decide which of the breeds I like to go with. All three are good for handspinning, good staple, micron count not too fine to handspin/too coarse to be against the skin and all are thrifty, good lambers and good mums, highly vigourous as lambs, good mobbing instincts, sound feet and no merino wrinkly skin to make sheering a "pro only" job. Since whatever place we get, we'll end up improving the pastures for a good while before we actually GET sheep, I figure I'm going to be attending several sheep shows and visiting those who breed/spin with them to decide ultimately which ones to get. This is actually turning into a nice little plan! So excited! ^_^

As an aside on Real Estate Dude... he is brassing me off! All along he'd pegged Nic as the easier to get to agree to things, chiefly because I ask lots (and lots) of pointed questions and insist on things like inspections and running the fine print by my legal advisor before signing anything.

Ex. with the electricity: there is no electricity on the property after a tree knocked it out a year or few back. We were told by RED they'd been arguing with the company about putting it underground which the elec co wants but is more expensive or not. This made it look as if they had a choice. I did a bit of light reading and lo and behold the electricity company says, "tough crap, it's not safe, you HAVE to have it underground" and they are contractually obligated to install it underground. So we make our offer contingent upon inspection and with the provision THEY install electricity. They agreed, then co-owner balks and says "I didn't know it was with us putting in electricity, we want more money!" Or at least, so says RED.

He called and told Nic he'd been talking with the people alllll day, arguing with them, the best he'd been able to get them to agree to was going in on halves. Nic heaved a sigh of relief and agreed without even asking me because he didn't think he had a choice. I rolled my eyes, restrained myself from indulging in the more colourful side of my vocabularly. Nic said, "But he told me he argued all day for us! He tried to get them to pay it themselves or lower the price!" I said, "Yeah. RIGHT. More likely he's saying that to make you think he's on your side and make you feel grateful for -only- paying half, when in fact he's just trying to bilk extra money out of you for something they are contractually obligated to pay. Just like our RE agent told you if our top bidder was just above the reserve, he was going to take them back, tell them they were just below reserve and squeeze a few more thousand out of them! He's a salesman, not your buddy! You can't take everything he says as truth! His job is to get them as much as he can, he'd be a lousy agent if he didn't!"

And not only did Nic agree without question to pay electricity, he was happy to agree to an open ended contract. I had a hissy fit - how could he agree to anything without talking to me... didn't he realize he wasn't obligated to agree to anything just because someone told him to etc. And as for the payment, "No WAY are we doing anything open ended! Suppose during digging they hit rock or the weather turns, we could end up paying thousands of dollars more! IF we do this, which I don't agree to...but as devils advocate, IF - we wait till they get written quotes from the digger and electrician AND it is drawn up as a seperate contract to the purchase contract so it doesn't incur stamp duty AND we only agree to pay half the amount on the mutually selected contractors estimate - if it goes over, they eat the cost, if it goes under, we pay half of real costs." (See, this is why they like dealing with him instead of me! LOL Open ended is much easier for them than dealing with my Cover-My-Ass stipulations!)

At any rate, I finally convinced Nic he was being played (it only took a month!) and knew RED was going to call Nic up and try to downplay the inspection situation. Shore 'nuff he called and tried to downplay the troubles, surely it couldn't be as bad as the little woman portrayed things etc. Nic, having finally cottoned on, said the reports begged to differ and stopped playing buddy-buddy with him. RED apparently got a bit shirty that Nic wasn't playing nicely into his hand.

I don't mind admitting I feel quite vindicated after foolish and wondering if I wasn't crazy because I was the only one with reservations, when everyone else was saying (even well intentionedly) "Don't worry so much, just go for it!" I was right about not trusting RED's "assessment" of what needed fixing. I *knew* they were hiding stuff! Nic was happy to go with it because surely RED wasn't hiding anything when he'd been so open about the stuff that needed fixing! I was right about there being serious issues hidden! Hoo boy, was I right! And I was right about it being far more expensive than we'd thought! If we'd payed $510K and then found out how much needed doing, we'd have been toast! Seriously, we'd have spent every last cent we had and been up to our eyes in loans for 30 years!

So that's that and for now we wait till we talk to Buyers Agent Dude and look for rental properties that accept 3 dogs, 1 cat, 4 birds, 2 ferrets and oh yes... us. And um, congrats if you made it to the end of this. This is what happens when I don't update for a few days! My gibberish stockpiles!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Request

Dear God (Goddess, Buddah, Great Spirit, Zeus, Allah, Krishna, Deva, and anyone else listening... I'm *very* open-minded at this point!)

Please find me THIS house but in a location suitably closer to Richmond where my husband works so that my husband won't have a heart attack and die if I asked him to consider moving here. I kind of need him since he good at opening jars I can't, squishes spiders so I don't have to go near them and is instrumental in making future cute babies for me to cuddle. Plus I have put 4 years of hard work into training him, so I'm reluctant to try and replace him.

If you would do this, I would be ever so grateful!

Yours truly,
Moi (You know who...)

PS As long as you're granting wild fantasies, I want a pony and sheep and that super cute bag I saw at the mall last year. Or the winning Tatt's ticket. (I don't mind sharing.)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

He *needs* a sibling... a human one!

A selection of stories from the past week or so.

1.) The sound of La playing in the hall has gone suspiciously quiet. Quiet is NEVER ever a good thing. I walk past my dining room and notice on my dining room table is perched my toddler, in the middle, with the dogs treat jar. Below him, politely sitting are three furry bums, neatly parked. Laurent's hand dips in the jar. One for you. Dips in the jar. One for me.
"LA! Yuck, what are you DOING?!?"
He looks at me, clearly not seeing the problem... sheesh mum, haven't you ever see a kid eat before?

2.) Laurent toddles up to me holding and shaking an unopened pack of dog-treats.
"Yes La?"
"Sisi 's goo gurl?"
"Yes Sisi is a good girl."
"Yes La?"
"Yum yum?", shaking the bag for emphasis.
"Yes La, Sierra does think those are very yummy. Do you want to give her one?" (Heh. At this point I'm entirely wary of his motives. He does like to give them treats but he also likes to EAT them himself.)
He nods. "Sisi, goo gurl!"
So I open the bag and hand him one. "La, this is for Sisi you understand?"
I catch a glint in his eye. "Sierra's yum yum, not La's."
He stares at me, eyeballs the treat, eyeballs me, grins and.... *chomp* (SIGH.)

3.) Hope has a little quirk, in that when she gets a ball or stuffed toy she likes to show it off and goes, "Awwooo woo woo!" howling muffledly with the toy in her mouth while parading around. It's cute and we all laugh when she does. Laurent eyeballed her, picked up one of his plastic ball pit balls, stuck it firmly in his mouth, tossed his head back and went "Awwoooo woo wooooo!"

4.) I'm brushing the dogs and have my combs and slicker brush laid out on the floor, dogs sprawled across my lap in various states of limp bliss, getting rolled (yes, rolled... I just kind of grab a leg and flip) at intervals when I finish brushing one section. La is watching the process intently and picks up a slicker brush. He starts brushing Sierra.
"Sisi goo gurl." he praises her.
"Yes Sisi is a good girl. Are you brushing her nicely La? See how she likes it when you brush her? Make sure you use the brush very soft okay?"
Intent upon his mission, he merely continues. At length, he deems his job finished and starts brushing Hope.
"Very nice, Hope likes being brushed to hmm?"
After a period of brushing her in random patterns, he deems her done. He turns to me, brush in hand.
"Mum?" he asks, holding the brush up.
"Yes La? What do you want?"
"He stands up, puts his left hand on me, standing on my legs and reaches up to brush my hair.
"Goo gurl." (SIGH. It seems I also need to explain to him daddy and I are not dogs either.)

5.) We're playing with the tennis ball inside, gently throwing it in the back room. *chuck* it goes to Hope, *chuck* it goes toward Sierra who chases it but lets Hope actually fetch it, *chuck* it goes to Hope again. *chuck* it goes... into the hall, past my craft room. La toddles after it and I hear his feet pitter-pattering back down the hall toward us, then pause. I peek my head around and he's gone into my craft room. He's standing at the edge of my desk, holding the tennis ball in throwing position.
"Mum?" he asks, eyeballing the aquarium on my desk where my Siamese Fighting Fish is front and center in his tank hoping for food, "FISH?"
"No dear. The fish can't play fetch."

6.) PS After 18 months (!) of breastfeeding, the girls have an official cute pet name! They are "bibi". We'd figured we might get "didi" since that seems popular but nope, we gotta be a little bit unique!

Last but not least, a non-La story, in which I amuse myself (but only myself) at Freestyle class. In my current class we have another red merle Aussie (Jaffa) and Jaffa's mum is talking about competing in teams (ie. instead of just tripping over myself and my dog, I trip over another handler and their dog too... for even more Australia's Funniest Home video material) and jokes how she'd been thinking the two gorgeous red merle Aussies should do a team! Now Jaffa has a gorgeous heel... backwards, forwards, speed changes, sideways, these nifty little back-turns... gosh it's nice! Sierra's heeling by comparison is muck. She forges forward, to the side, angles her bum at a curve and crabs. So I said, "Are you kidding? Have you SEEN Sierra!?" She says, "Well, there's always hope!" And I said, "Yeah but she's a black tri!" Unfortunately it was across the room and she didn't hear me. Figures. One time I say something kinda clever (vs thinking of it 10 minutes after the person walks away) and no one hears it! :-p

Monday, April 02, 2007

All my reservations aside, we went ahead and had Archicenter do a full inspection and a pest inspection. We *knew* a lot had to be done to the place... hey, any place no one has lived for 15 years is going to be a fixer-upper! That's a giant, "DUH!"

The owners estimates were $30K for basics to get it livable. Having looked over the place, my bullshitometer was pinging that that t'weren't quite the full picture and I quickly tallied up it up to somewhere more in the range of mid $50,000 based just on what I could see. I refused to put in an offer till we had a full inspection and pest inspection done. Normally you put in the offer, pay a small amount of the deposit so they can start putting things through and somewhere in the offer is the terms that go, "pending inspection showing no major structural damages." If major structural damages are found, you get out of the contract scott free. The trick with that is, if they find something and it doesn't qualify you're still in a contract. Nice eh? So, having had a look and a functioning braincell, I refused to put anything in writing till the inspections were done.

Well. The inspection was slated for today. And my... oh my.... was that ever enlightening!

We KNEW it would need: replacement of the back porch, main verandah, lower side whole wall including two windows, two story weatherboard wall and windows, front door, balustrading and timbers in eaves, back verandah, deadbolts on all doors, several interior doors, total recarpeting of the house, retiling of two areas, entire house needing repainting etc. etc.

Here's a partial list of the top of my head of issues we didn't know about but which were discovered yesterday:
* roof is rusted out and needs full replacement with water damaged assessed and fixed
* verandahs and wood floors have an aggressive wood borer infestation - we knew the verandahs had rotted out and the top planks needed removing/replacing but the understructures are also rotted and bore filled and in the interior the joists and bearers are trouble as well. Non affected boards are still very loose, lumpy/bumpy indicating patch jobs and not even GOOD patch jobs at that.
* trap-door toilet (no, that's not a typo. It's a trap-door to a small WC) is leaking, has caused water damage and the pipes they've used are non-compliant and need correcting
* the 'trap door' is non-compliant, dangerous (what a shock!) and needs to be sealed off and a new staircase constructed to be used to access that level of the house.
* the garage/shed thingie is non-compliant and needs tearing down
* the deck coming out from the kitchen which we were told 'just needed wood tiles put back over it' is non-compliant and needs tearing down - no idea what the strata under it looks like as it wasn't accessable
* one side of the house is rotted and needs replacing
* a few of the windows need safety glass to be safe because they are below waist level
* the plumbing isn't actually hooked up and is non-compliant, the one pipe the guy showed me on the side of the house actually is wide open and spills out onto the ground, it all needs re-working and a water tank needs to be installed
* guttering? what guttering...
* several stumps have been replaced but several more are well and truly rotted out and need replacing
* electricity is still blackwiring and not safe
* insulation needs to be better and may not be existant in part of the house
* several walls and doors are skewed due to sinking stumps
* kitchen needs to be completely reworked... the architect asked how much they'd estimated and when I told him had a nice laugh, saying "well you know, you could spend $20K just in the kitchen alone..."
* trees are in serious, serious need of tending to which means permits!
* carpet in the bathroom, means the flooring underneath has sustained water damage
* laundry, sink and utility room are completely unhooked up and not workable condition
* the powerboard is outdated and needs replacing

Oy. Vey. Can anyone say "ka-CHING!"? (I knew you could!) Game plan is to do a tally as to how much it'd all be tomorrow and put it across to the owners, asking them if they're willing to come down substantially in price.

So Inspection Dudes 1 & 2 leave and Real Estate Dude is supposed to be there, like, 10 minutes ago to lock things back up. I decided to sit for a minute and just absorb. It is a pretty place and underneath all the crap is a lot of potential. I don't mind fixing, if it's not going to bankrupt us and we end up with a nice place in the end. It's a matter of if they'll sell at a reasonable price. First thing I spot a beautiful kookaburra singing and watching me. I *love* them, they're my Favorite Australian Animal and I spent a moment absently wondering if it was a good sign or a bad one since he was laughing at me.

L charges off, loving the space to run (so gorgeous to see his face light up as he tore about exploring) and clambers around on some tree stumps.

I walk him over to the little fairy pond - good photo op right? He looks at the water and before I can nab him goes to splash his foot in it. Now he's used to this little tiny reservoir under our garden tap we've got at home. (The one Bryn was splashing his shoes in Sif.) So he expected the water to be maybe an inch deep or so. Er... whoops? In he went, forward he fell head first, went completely under, came up sputtering, shivering and covered in 15 years of muck, looking like Swamp Thing and bawling bloody blue murder.

I had to strip him neckid, use half a packet of wipes to get him clean and bundle him in the car. Meantime, R.E.D arrives. Bugger. I was hoping to be out of there before he arrived! So he asks how it went and I told him his clients weren't going to like to hear what we found. He starts song-n-dancing around a bit and tries to minimize. I told him flat out, we'd look at the repair costs and see... if the owners wanted to reduce the price suitably, we'd talk. If not, oh well. He spun his line a bit, it's a special property, we've sourced it for you but of course you have to do what's right for you etc. So I repeated, if we could do it at a decent price we would but if not there was nothing we could do to make money magically appear that we didn't have. He said he had a feeling that when these people heard this they wouldn't bother. I'm not entirely sure if he means they'll walk rather than negotiate (that's my opinion) or if he thinks they won't argue too hard (doubt it - they've been Grade 'A' PITAs so far...)

So that's where we sit.

I'm more confused than ever. I'm wondering if it's too late to contact a buyers agent. Maybe they have more research than we can do, could negotate better or better yet... find a great place we don't know about because it's not on official books etc.

I do however feel rather validated - my gut instinct that something was fishy was quite on the money. RED, who'd been playing the conspiratorial best buddy to that point tipped his hand a bit. Before this I hadn't been able to convinced Nic the guys word shouldn't be taken as gospel because he's y'know, a SALESMAN, and his job is to SELL and seeing as he's getting a tidy sum for doing so, it's in his best interests to tell you the house is worth more than it is, pressure you to think you'll never find another one that's better, try to make you think he's your buddy and going to bat for you or whatever else it takes so he can nudge you towards signing the papers.

We've got to move somewhere on the 20th of April and it's now the 2nd. I have absolutely no freaking idea what we're going to do aside from continue to pursue this IF they lower the price or look for a place to rent. (With 3 dogs, 1 cat, 4 birds, 2 ferrets and a feral child. Aren't I a comedian?) Even if we do secure this place though, the guy is on vacation from the 4th so we won't be able to move in on the 20th. So we're either looking then at boarding the dogs while renting or just renting till renovated or ????

I've also got a crapload of paperwork to take care of with regards to our bills, L's vaccination papers (I lost the little blue book I had the papers from Dr. Lucas in! WAH! Tearing the place apart looking for that!) and to boot we've also got to jump through 434,609,324 more hoops for my permanent residency because while the Dept. of Immigration should have realized they needed to review my application like... you know, 6 months ago in October... despite our contacting them and going, "Um guys??? 'S up?" they now realize they've overlooked me and need to review if I'm still genuinely married and in a relationship with my husband or just faking it all to get a greencard. I have a dozen forms, health checks, request an Aust Federal Police check to confirm I don't run an organized crime mob or something, round up various proofs we ain't faking a relationship and locate two friends to write up Stat Decs that they see us on a regular basis and know we're genuinely, legitimately NOT faking a marriage, pregnancy and child. PS. It's a 60 day deadline to get this done.

Y'know. Cuz those things are so damn easy to fake.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Looking pretty swish!

We went to the Hawthorn Craft Market today and met Sif and Jenn there, so we got to pick up L's new pants and hat! They are such a pretty shade of green and as predicted go perfect with his new sweaters! They're so cute I just had to put them on and snap a picture! You can see he's pretty tickled with them here! We also spotted a gooorrrgggeeoooouuuuss Waldorf style soft doll there and a lady who had these beautiful felted little figures and play-mats. Here's her website... The Friendship Tree... I'm totally in love! I want to get a set of Waldorf dolls for La (momma, daddy and bubby) .. just to die for!