How I Spent My Summer Vacation

The kids started school this week. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s actually true, my little girl has always loved school, is a fanatic about it, and happily my boy, who has never shared the same enthusiasm for it, is very pleased with himself as he entered middle school this year. He’s loving it so far (I KNOW we’re only 4 days in, but I’m determined to maintain his excitement!). He might be among the youngest in the school, having come from elementary school where he was one of the oldest, but is still fancying himself quite the grownup, complete with LOCKER and LOCK and a shiny new CELL PHONE. He sent me his first text today: “hi mom.” I melted.

I took him to school on his second day, and he actually stopped on the sidewalk when we were a block away, and said, “Mom, I would like to walk the rest of the way by myself.” I was dumbstruck. I said, “Are you sure?” “Of course, Mom. I’m sure, I’ll really be okay.” I agreed, he gave me a quick hug, the kind your boy gives you hoping that no one is looking, said, “I love you Mom, bye,” and started making his way. I stood there like a dork clasping my hands in front of me watching him walk away all by himself, and he took about ten steps and looked back and gave me a “you can leave now” wave, then took another 3 steps and did it again, and I got the hint and bewilderedly walked back to my car like I was all fine with it. All those things raced through my mind, with each step he was becoming more of a man, moving farther away from me both physically and figuratively, my mind leaping ahead 6 years when he brings home a scowling, tattooed, pierced girl who swears and chews with her mouth open and never says please or thank you, him moving in with her, me never hearing from him unless he needs money or laundry done, everything, everything. But then I was really proud of him, because he knows how ridiculously co-dependent I am and he had to have known it would be hard for me to hear he wanted to walk the last 40 metres ALL BY HIMSELF but he was man enough to do it anyway.

I called the school 8 minutes later to make sure he’d gotten there safely, which he had. Oh, the agita.

Anyhoo, my little girl, who looks forward to the first day back at school almost more than she does CHRISTMAS, and had spent the last days of vacation busily unwrapping, labelling and packing her school supplies, choosing her outfits for each day of the following week and dreaming about who’d be her teacher, who’d be in her class, where her desk would be and what grades she would get this year, and informing me that now she is INTERMEDIATE as a GRADE FOURER, was positively delighted with the start of another academic experience. She’s so into being back in the routine that she’s getting up almost at the same time as I do now, being that she’s INTERMEDIATE she can share in the morning duties, and wouldn’t you know, she’s packing both her and her brother’s lunch, and she’s even packing his backpack in the morning. She’s shaved about 16 minutes off my morning routine. My girl!!

I ask them in the evening how school was that day, and my son says, “it’s the first week, Mom – not a whole lot.” My daughter, on the other hand, recites every step she took from the first bell. On day two, they took turns telling the class how they spent their summer vacations. Her highlight was our trip last week to the PNE, which included the special bonus of a puke-free outing even after 4 rides on the Corkscrew.

Which got me to thinking. “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” There are so many different stories to tell about this summer, but I’ll stick to our tale of real estate shenanigans for now. Shall I begin, after that 700 word preamble?

We’ve been living in a 2 bedroom condo for the last 4.5 years. It’s a beautiful place with a great view and we love it, but over the past couple of years I’ve been feeling the need to move. The kids share a room with bunkbeds, and although they’ve never ever complained about the arrangement, I knew that the time for them to each have their own space was nigh. And through a series of happy events, we found ourselves in the financial position to contemplate upgrading to larger quarters.

I called my real estate agent, prince of a guy despite his penchant for liking hockey teams comprised of obnoxious #$$holes (he likes the Bruins), with whom I’d been working ever since I got into the market more than 12 years ago. We started exploring the possibilities, looking at some bigger townhouses, and we finally settled on a place about 5 minutes from where we live. This after looking at about 20 houses.

It bemuses me how some people seem to not care at all about what their home looks like when they’re showing it. Aren’t they supposed to be trying to sell it? One guy didn’t even bother to not be home when we went to look. The place smelled, his huge self took up half the couch as he sat there eating and watching TV, and he hadn’t even bothered to pick the towels up off his bathroom floor. I don’t care what your price is or how well you’re located, if your place is a filthy dump, I’m not making an offer.

We looked at the final townhouse complex, the roads of which were teeming with kids, and even has an indoor pool. My daughter grabbed me by the collar with both fists and said, “whatever you do Mom, PROMISE ME WE’LL LIVE HERE.” Well, there were something like 6 units for sale, and with each place I got more depressed. When you find the place you’re meant to buy, you’re supposed to instantly feel: “This is it!” I wasn’t even close with any of them. And then we saw the 6th one. It was perfect in every way, ticked all the boxes. I got excited, and the kids could smell it. We walked into the backyard, and the guy next door was outside with his dog, having a smoke. My daughter jumped up and down and squealed to him, “We’re your new neighbours!!” He just kind of laughed and said, “Really? Welcome!” The kids went back inside and chose their bedrooms and I talked to my agent. We made an offer contingent on the sale of our condo, and it was accepted! We were off to the races.

Now came the onerous task of putting OUR place on the market. I can’t believe the amount of crap we’d amassed in our short time here. It took a solid weekend of de-cluttering, throwing out of crap and donating stuff and taking other stuff to storage to get this place ready to list. I’ve seen the shows, I know what’s required. And I couldn’t stop to thinking of Slobby Von Filthenstein from that one townhouse that made me want to be sick.

Finally, we were done. I looked at our place, and it was BEAUTIFUL. Almost made me wonder why we should even move, it looked that good. And the viewers started pouring in. Nobody ever didn’t love it. But we weren’t getting any offers. And it was exhausting keeping the place pristine, hard job when by the time we’ve been home for 2 hours in the evening, it tends to look like a cyclone hit, no matter how clean it was to start with. I grew frustrated, and antsy knowing the townhouse we loved would be loved by someone else soon with a more attractive offer than mine.

And of course, that’s what happened. Our place wasn’t selling, and the townhouse got a better offer. I had 24 hours to buy it outright which of course I could not do without the sale of our place, and we lost it. We’d seen every other townhouse on the market, and I knew I didn’t want a single other one. And I started thinking, you know what, it won’t be so bad to live here for another year. I didn’t want to be moving homes in the middle of the school year, so I began convincing myself to stop this madness, stay in this gorgeous place and leave well enough alone. A couple of weeks passed, with a handful more viewings that always had the same “WE LOVE IT” feedback with no offers, and then I started getting pissed off. “Really? You love it, eh? Then MAKE ME AN OFFER. OR GET THE HELL OUT.” I started sharing my sentiments with my agent who began to wonder where positive, optimistic Veronica had gone to. SHE BECAME REALISTIC. GET USED TO IT.

And wouldn’t you know? One day I decided to glance at the real estate listings and not be so obtuse, approached the existent listings with an open mind, hoping I’d consider one not too sucky to buy. And guess what? The townhouse was still listed. Weird! I called my agent, who said he’d look into it, and he called me back and said the other offer fell through! What! So I wrote another, lower, offer than last time, same conditions, and it got accepted again!

The following week, after a few more showings of our place, my agent called me and said we’d received an offer! My heart jumped! Then I saw it: they were offering me WAY below asking, 12K lower than what I PAID 4.5 years ago, AND they wanted me to throw in my TVs. What! Such a ridiculous joke. I immediately told him I wouldn’t even consider it, and he could just let it expire. I wasn’t even bothered to counter. He told me we had to take every offer seriously, and I said, “They’re not even in the ball park. Who the hell is their agent? How dare he write an offer like this! Tell him he can kiss my ass! Give me his number!” (‘Kiss my ass’ became a recurring theme through this negotiation.) He convinced me to write a counter offer, and I said, “Fine! Up the price by a grand! Or they can kiss my ass!!” He got me to agree to go $2K lower than my asking. And NO TVS. Or they could kiss my you know what. They came up by another 8K, still nowhere near where I wanted to land. So my agent and I sat on the phone that night, me printing the umpty-ump pages of the stupid offer to make another counter offer so I could scan it and send it back to him, me all the while grumbling how I was going to deduct the cost of printer ink off his commission, him telling me HE was about to kick my you know what, and I countered at my bottom line. And I told him, “Tell them to sign it, or kiss my ass.” And they signed it.

If you’re still reading, good morning!

So now, we’re moving. In 3 short weeks. And I have to wrap my head around packing and all that miserable stuff that comes with moving. So, we got the place we wanted, and the kids have been reminding me about that puppy now that we’ll have a yard, announcing to everyone how Mom is considering a puppy, which they’ve already named and we haven’t even met yet, and what Halloween decorations we’ll have in our front yard, and all that good stuff. My daughter changes her mind daily about the motif her new bedroom will have, and my son has already made a friend at his new school who lives in our future neighbourhood.

We did it! And I can recommend you the world’s most patient real-estate agent. I mean, if you can stomach working with a Bruins fan.

By the time the puck drops on the first regular season Habs game, we’ll be settled in our new digs. I can’t wait to watch on the TVs I wangled keeping!

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Comments

  1. They wanted your TVs? That’s the strangest thing I’ve ever heard of for a real estate transaction. Sounds like they were just lazy. Glad you held out on those! (And the puppy search should be an adventure!)

  2. Fabulous – Love it when something good happens to good people. You will love the space the new place brings you and the kids will have a blast with their own rooms.

    Regarding your son – yes it is a big step but it is necessary and well worth it in the long run. They grow up so fast.

    Enjoy reading your blogs as always –

  3. You should seriously consider taking up writing as a profession. I love reading about your adventures!

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