Thursday, July 21, 2011

When it rains it pours

Pardon this post. I have a lot on my plate right now and I need to unload. I want to hit something really hard so I am just going to sit here and pound my heart out on this poor keyboard.

Owning a house, most would say it's the best investment you could make. It means that you have arrived you have established yourself in the world as a property owner. You own something that is a symbol of success.


Not if you are young and buying your first home and the professionals you intrust your money to lead you astray. Or in our case lead us right into a literal shithole. I know some people own crappy rundown old or ugly houses and refer to them as shitholes. But until you have to lay your kids to bed at night in a home that has raw sewage backing up into the lower level you have not arrived at shithole.

5 years ago we applied for a loan and were pre-approved for $90,000. We decided to do the mature thing and only buy as much home as we could comfortably afford on our modest income so we opted to stay in the $70,000 range. We didn't want to be house poor and struggling to rub 2 pennies together. We found an agent, and started the shopping process. I think we visited 30 houses. Some were too small, not enough bedrooms, really bad neighborhoods, so on. We finally decided on a lovely yellow house on an alley with a white picket fence. It was clean and had a nice kitchen and a big back yard for the kids. We put in our offer only to find out that the property was in a flood area and that due to hurricaine Katrina's recent rage our insurance premiums would up our monthly payment by nearly $600 a month... OUCH! We retracted our bid and took a second look at another home we had liked. When we walked away from that first home somewhere deep inside me I had a feeling that we should just pack it in and wait a little longer. I pushed that feeling aside asuming I was just experiencing jitters.

We looked at the house, spent some time talking and decided to put our bid in. The things we didn't like about the house should be easy fixes (no fence, ugly paint color, ect). We put our bid in and it was accepted. So we hired a home inspector by reccommendation of our realator. He looked over the house and gave us a report indicating that all was good in the hood. There were 2 items that needed fixed according to the inspection report (smoke dectectors had no batteries and the lower bath had no hot water) the seller had then fixed and we signed the paperwork and completed the sale.

Fast forward about a week when the insurance company came to inspect the property again and they announced that they could not insure us because we have old knob and tube wiring and that is a fire risk they are not willing to take. Damn it why didn't the house inspection uncover this?

Well since then in the 5 years we have lived here bandaid after bandaid has fallen off of some of the major systems in this house.

We discovered that the wiring is not only old as hell, but that we have rooms upstairs wired to rooms downstairs and it's basically a giant maze to figure out what is supposed to go where. Estimate to re-wire and bring everything up to code: $6500 OUCH! Why didn't the inspection catch this? You know I would like to know too!

The first winter we discovered that the "forced central air and heat" apply only to the first floor of the house. The ductwork are either not attached upstairs or attached so shoddily that no heat or cool air makes it up there. So in winter we use radiant space heaters and in summer window air units. What the hell? Again why didn't the inspection uncover this mess? I don't know either!

Now the plumbing is failing. It started with a blocked toilet. We called a plumber and they ran a snake and discovered that we had a busted sewage line. They leave promising to come back with a camera to estimate how much replacing/repairing would be. While we wait on them I had the city come and take a look. The man from the water office informs me that the city sewage tap placed in front of my lot in 1935 has not been connected to my house. Ok so how does a house supposedly built in 1940 NOT get connected to the public sewage? Lie number 1 this house was built before 1935...
Oh and to make matters worse the water guy told us that more than likely we are opperating on an ancient septic tank. SHIT literally! He goes on to tell me that we will be required to tie into the city sewage. Great!

I just checked my water bill... We have been paying for CITY SEWAGE for the last 5 years! How wonderful!

So today the plumbers show up with the pipe camera and start tracking the line to find the tank or the city line or really anything, at this point it wouldn't surprise me if the line empties into a pit in the yard and not a real septic tank.

So they run the camera through the interior pipes and hit mud (meaning they founf the break) right under my dining room. This area of the house was built over a concrete slab! GREAT my house is quite literally floating on shit! The plumbers can not gt the camera past the break because it happened at the bend where the pipe turns to exit the house. They inform us we need a contractor to come rip up our dining room floor and create access to the area. I asked how big of a hole they need. He points and the floor and says from here to here. Well that equates into a hole that is about 3 feet by 10 feet (maybe bigger, I'm estimating here). They hand me an estimate of $1500 to come back once the hole is cut in the floor to dig down to the pipes and track the line. It will cost about the same to have the floor ripped up and fixed afterwards.

At this point in time I quit! I can't do this! I have hated this house for too long to care about getting it fixed. I just want to pack my belongings and mail the bank the keys and forget I ever had this nightmare. But I am a responsible adult (damn it) and I will do the right thing and fugure it out till we get the house sold under a short sale.

I the meantime anyone know where I can shack up with my 4 kids and husband?

Thursday, July 14, 2011


a child with special needs.

I will start by saying that we have not had Cam officially diagnosed yet, but many of the signs and red flags are there.  I have talked to several knowledgeable professionals and the general consensus is that there are enough flags to move forward with the evaluation and diagnosis.

Cam probably has a form of high functioning Autism.

I have not said that definitively, to anyone outside of our immediate family and our team of doctors and therapists that she has been seeing since she was a baby.

Today, Scoot dropped off the "book" of paperwork to be initially review by the specialists at the Autism clinic. We will not wait anxiously for them to call us for the first round of assessments and evaluations.

While on one hand I am convinced that this is the answer we have been looking for to help explain the behaviors we have been dealing with for 3 years now. I am relieved that finally we may have an answer to give to the people who give us nasty looks at the grocery store when we are sitting on the floor of the frozen foods section her in complete melt down, me holding her with my arms and legs around her body preventing her from kicking and hitting or running off. While she spits on me and tries to bite me all while screaming at the top of her lungs, and I am at the end of my rope desperately clinging trying to hold onto control and not cry. I wish we could melt into the tiles as people walk by and give me the "you're a terrible parent" look, or "just spank her, she'll stop" looks. The thing is, spanking her will only make the tantrum worse. When she gets like this she is beyond reason.

On the other hand I worry that they will come back and tell me that she does not have a form of Autism and that we will be back at square one. Her current occupational therapy regimen is not meeting all of her needs.

I wish that I didn't have to buy a lock for my fridge to keep her from eating a whole 2 pound block of cheese in one sitting (cheese makes her very constipated and that is not fun to fix). I wish I didn't have to paddle lock the downstairs bathroom to keep her from destroying it with feces and urine. I wish I didn't have to lock her in her bedroom. If I didn't I wouldn't be able to sleep for fear that she would get out and destroy the house or wander out the front door. I wish her sisters enjoyed playing with her. I am thankful that most days she doesn't mind playing alone all day. I wish I didn't have to hold her ears when she goes potty in public restrooms. I wish we didn't have to spend a ton of time each week at therapy, instead of enjoying family things. I wish we could go out into the community and do things without fear of her melting.

I confess that even though life is really hard and frustrating at times, I adore her. I am scared about what her future holds. Will she do well in school? Will she have a career, family, friends? Or will she be alone and on the verge of meltdown...