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Home with a lousy headache that, thus far, Tylenol is completely ignoring. This is actually my tenth day of such headaches, but generally they've started later in the day. When I woke up feeling like there was a railroad spike through my skull, I decided this would be a good day to stay home. Choirs' concerts are done (except for caroling tomorrow), and my other classes are just working on their final projects. Good day to be home. Through the pain, I'm doing the easy stuff to be productive: putting clothes away, washing more clothes, running the dishwasher etc. Then coming down the hall to distract myself from the pain with Facebook and decided to update here too.
This is the third time I've tried to post this and it keeps jumping back a page and then "letting" me restart from the autosaved draft. I appreciate the autosave, but I'd appreciate even more having LJ not short out like that. *annoyed*

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An alumna of Brebeuf (where I teach) is in El Salvador for a year on a Fulbright scholarship. Heavy rains on Nov. 7 created landslides and contaminated water supplies for one of the small rural communities she's been researching in. At this point, she and a few friends have been delivering handfuls of rice and beans and containers of fresh water to folks. The roads to larger communities are mostly out and the military, Red Cross, etc. are not helping. http://friendsofsantamaria.blogspot.com Please read, please help, please pass this on. As with most natural disasters, the poorest are hit hardest. Mudslides have killed people in this community and washed away houses. Please send thoughts and prayers if nothing else. Thank you all!!
Thanksgiving! AUGH! My mother suggested, two years ago, that it was really hard on our daughter to drag her to both my parents' and my in-laws' T-day celebrations in one day, and that we should alternate. Good idea! Last year we went to my parents' house for the entire day and didn't see the in-laws at all. Logically, this year we should go to the in-laws, yes? So I got ambushed this morning with a huge guilt trip from my mother because she bought a big turkey without checking with us first (and apparently because she can't count to two and realize that if we were at HER house last year, we would be at THEIR house this year). I hate Thanksgiving. I don't even like turkey. And I REALLY don't like my mother making the holidays into emotional tug-of-war. Grrrrr.

emo rollercoasters. . .

Money having become a huge stressor in my life, yesterday I hit the wall. Broke down several times AT WORK. Scared my little girl by yelling at my mom when I dropped off the girls and then slammed the door. Had to go back in and hug and comfort a toddler who hadn't gotten to say goodbye to Mommy. Realized that this is not the way my life should be. When the stress is messing up some of the most important relationships in my life and affecting my job performance, it's time to get help. My husband's company offers an Employee Assistance Program, and yesterday afternoon I enrolled and started the process of evaluation and then referral to a local mental-health professional (not sure yet what kind will be needed: psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, whatever). Since the money is the trigger, they also gave me a toll-free number for financial services, so we'll see if I can in fact pay off this debt or if I really am in too deep to realistically ever pay it off, and all my budgeting attempts are laudable but doomed. If the latter, well, there's a solution for that too, and my credit's already bad, so. . .we'll see.

Feel MUCH BETTER today. Plus, there's actual SUNSHINE for the first time all week. I'm going to go outside and stand in the sun for a bit to feel better before going on with teaching the afternoon's classes.

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really tired today but probably worth it

Last night was a choral festival that my choirs go to every year at Marian University in Indianapolis. We're only supposed to bring one choir, so I always pick two of our mass numbers to do so that I can bring two choirs and have them sing together. :) Each Catholic high school choir performs two songs of their choice, and then the concert ends with a huge mass number. For never having sung these pieces together before, and only getting fifteen minutes of practice time together, I was VERY proud of my choirs. We did an easy Mark Hayes piece (3-part accompanied) that was very high-energy and fun, and then brought out the big guns: Darmon Meader's arrangement of the Coventry Carol, one of the most beautiful and haunting melodies EVER. Really dissonant harmonies (if that's not an oxymoron) in the second verse and then some very funky modern reharmonization in the last verse. Four-part and a cappella. We have worked our tailfeathers off learning this (Darmon Meader arranges for the New York Voices, a professional vocal ensemble), and last night we took it to a new level for us. Heard some really wonderful choral music from a couple of the other choirs too, which will hopefully inspire my singers when I rant about the importance of good vowel shapes, dynamics, and blend. Very satisfied with the whole thing. Just wish I didn't have to get up the next morning and come to work! <yawn>

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best froufrou coffee EVER!

I don't drink real coffee.  Not black, not with cream, sugar, or both.  Nope. To drink coffee, I have to add chocolate.  So I'm one of those froufrou "coffee drink" people who REALLY can't afford a Starbucks habit because it costs more than double a plain ol' cup of joe.  But I found the best cafe mocha EVER yesterday when I visited Books-A-Million for the very first time.  Selection was good; not as heavy on the scifi and fantasy as Borders, but good overall, with some fun accessory stuff I hadn't seen in other bookstores.  After picking up the newest Sharon Shinn to hit paperback (FORTUNE AND FATE: great book! Fifth in the Twelve Houses series), I wandered over to the requisite bookstore coffee nook: BAM's is called Joe Muggs.  Not only do they have cafe mocha, they have DARK cafe mocha, with Ghirardelli Mint Bliss chocolate, even!  That sounded too good to be true, but I ordered it anyway. 

For once, something wasn't too good to be true.  I can't describe how good that tasted.  I just can't.  Go buy your own.  Amazing!  Made my day, since Maddie had had a rotten night the night before and I hadn't gotten much sleep.  It almost completely made up for being a zombie on a day when I had to work a full day plus a rehearsal with a children's choir plus a music planning meeting for two upcoming worship services.  And it cost the same as the Starbucks version.  Too cool! 

Of course, now that I've relived the experience in text on LJ, I want another dark cafe mocha. . .

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distractions r us. . .

So I stayed up too late last night watching Castle (NATHAN FILLION ROCKS!) and had to rush around madly this morning on not enough sleep.  Wound up running right past my purse and shoulder bag, blithely certain I'd left them in the van last night.  Nope.  Halfway to work I realized I didn't have my driver's license, any money, PDA, iPod, Carmex, other makeup. . .AAACK!  Fortunately, my so-patient husband brought them to work with him, so on my prep I ran over there and picked them up instead of having to either go all the way home or go all day without them (since I also forgot to pack a lunch, this became fairly urgent by midday!).

I really need more sleep. . . and about a week to just focus and organize.  I swear, when both children vocalize at once it short-circuits my brain!  Even when they're both happy, it's just impossible to concentrate--and since they're usually out in our one main room (living room/dining room/kitchen/music room area) and so am I, nothing constructive gets done, and I mean NOTHING. I don't even get laundry put away!  Our house is the worst mess it has ever been in the nearly 10 years I've owned it!  I love my girls.  I want to spend time with them.  I just don't want to feel like such an unproductive loser.  Is that too much to ask??  :)

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no house

So after looking at the house, which turned out to have been inhabited by chain-smokers for 40 years (the wallpaper looked like that weird '60's orange, until you saw the cream-colored rectangles where pictures had hung and realized that was NICOTINE!  Ewwww!), we still thought that we could rehab it: rip out all the carpet, repaint EVERYTHING, etc.  Got the call from the financing guys and there will be no home loan in our immediate future.  My credit score is too low.  My husband's is great, but it will take both our incomes to buy a house, so my credit has just nixed that until I can bring the score up.  A bill went to collections last February; I paid it in full, but too late.  Here's the weird one: I have two late payments on my Kohl's card.  I knew there had been late payments, because they never send me a statement until I'm past due.  It's so weird: I only get statements from them every other month.  At first I thought I'd lost it, but over and over again, by the time I receive a statement about a purchase, it's already been over a month.  Good thing I've only used the card twice in the last year!  So I called Kohl's today and explained that I hadn't complained about this issue before, even when it cost me late fees, because I simply didn't think it was that big a deal.  I had no idea they were reporting it!  (Credit reporting is voluntary: they don't HAVE to do it, and many companies don't unless someone is majorly delinquent.)  Given that they're reporting me for late payments when they don't send me a statement until it's too late to pay it on time, I think they should remove that from my credit report, don't you?  Yes!  So they're going to "review" my account and send out a letter sometime in the next 3 business days.

Here's another "black mark" on my credit: it looks like I just took out my mortgage 8 months ago, because apparently that's when Chase acquired it.  That's clearly in error, because it's supposed to show your whole mortgage history.  It's not like you have a choice when your mortgage gets sold to someone else, and it shouldn't count against you on your credit.  SO FRUSTRATING!  So between the collection (which won't drop off the radar for 12 months: that's Feb 2010) and these other things, we can't get a mortgage right now.  <sigh> I was just saying how claustrophobic I was getting in my own house, and now it looks like we're stuck there for the winter. Time to totally reorganize again and see what we can live without.  Wish we could afford to rent storage, but that kind of sabotages saving up for a down payment or paying off debt.  :(

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house house house house. . .

I am getting claustrophobic in my own home. (Warning: boring real estate stuff here: feel free to ignore this post unless you want to see a classic case of the mortgage crisis process in a nutshell!)

When I built this house in 1999, it was just me.  Oh, I had a roommate, but she only had furniture for her bedroom; the rest of the house (3 Bdr/2 BA) was mine, all mine.  In 2003 I got married, and my wonderful husband came with STUFF.  :)  Then in 2007 and 2009 our two children arrived, and they need lots of STUFF too.  Add to this my terminal case of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), which has led me to acquire four more harps since 1999, and it's just too crowded in here.  I'm renting out two of the harps and would happily sell them, but haven't found buyers yet (if you're interested, send me a message!!  <g>), and I use the other three too much to sell or rent them.  Plus a bass guiter, plus an upright electric bass, plus piano, plus several thousand books. . .the little starter home just won't cut it any more.

Problem: in 2005 I refinanced on my home to consolidate debt (credit card debt, mostly,which accumulated in the wake of a car accident in 2001 when I had self-employed insurance which covered squat), and the company I chose was unscrupulous.  I didn't do my homework, and it bit me; they offered me a loan that would wipe out most of my credit card debt.  What they didn't tell me was that they committed appraisal fraud to do it.  So now I owe $20K more on my house than it's worth, and the only way to get out in the near future is a short sale, which is a Bad Thing for your credit, especially if, like me, you need to move to a bigger house, not just get out. Right now, if you short-sale, it's usually because you can't make the payments, and the banking industry now will not give you another mortgage loan for two full years after a short sale.  We can make the payments just fine here; I just can't breathe.  I wind up curling up on the sofa with a book to avoid looking at the mess and the tinyness of our house now.  (I realize that this is not a healthy or useful response to the problem, but neither is crying uncontrollably, and so I choose the lesser of two evils.)

Everyone (realtor and banking-type people) kept telling us we needed to make sure our current house would sell FIRST, before buying another house.  Finally, though, Phil and I made the decision to shop in a lower price range than we could technically get approved for, and now they're considering letting us get the new mortgage BEFORE selling the current house.  (We have absolutely no desire to be landlords, plus there's a neighborhood covenant against renting, so that's not an option for us.)  So now the plan is: get new mortgage, THEN short-sale on current house, since no matter what the paperwork says about our income, we can't maintain two payments for ANY length of time.  The hit to my credit (and mine alone, since the house is in my name alone) won't affect us as greatly, since there are no major purchases coming up for me in the next 2 years.  I have the van, which I will be paying on for another 4 years, I have my pedal harp, and we're done having children.  Phil will need a new car, but this won't affect his credit, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Yay VA loans!  My husband served 4 years in the Marine Corps and so he's eligible for that.  We truly wouldn't have a prayer for all of this to happen without him.  There's a fixer-upper on the NE side of Indy we're going to look at; supposedly it's got good bones but is hideously outdated: mostly needs new carpet (or hardwood!) and paint.  If that's true, we'll probably make an offer.  I'm so excited!  I finally have hope that I'll be able to breathe, and that someday soon we'll be making payments on a house I actually want to stay in!

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OVFF and S00j: musical goodness!

Wow!  OVFF was a blast!  All I got to see was the nominees' concert, but it was so much fun!!  Big thanks to Barry & Sally for allowing me to crash in their room overnight rather than try to drive back in the wee sma's; to Judith for the two extra buffet tickets that fed me and my daughter the next morning; and to Bill & Gretchen Roper for the box of baby clothes--hand-me-downs rock!  Great to have a chance to at least say hi to and hug so many of the filk community whose company and music I enjoy so much!

Last night I got to hear the Skinny White Chick live for the first time.  I brought my daughter Maddie, and she was totally captivated by "Alligator in the House".  Throughout the evening, Maddie both embarrassed and amazed me, because she kept asking questions NOT in a whisper (embarrassment!) about the lyrics she was hearing (amazement!).  She gave Sooj and Betsy both big hugs after the concert, which tickled everyone who witnessed it, and overall just was ridiculously fun to have with me.  I love that she's getting big enough to actually enjoy things like this, although she's still way too wiggly to stay in a chair the whole time.  No symphony concerts for her for a while yet!

In other news, we finally have found a good house prospect (we think) and we'll be walking through it on Sunday.  Wish us luck!  Mama needs a new music room!  :)

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