Friday, March 19, 2010

Dreams Do Come True!

Many of you Facebookies have already heard, but it's official: Jeff has accepted a position in Vilseck, Germany! We heard the good news last night, and have spent the day ecstatic. The job begins on July 9th, we fly to Frankfurt and spend the first two weeks looking for a place to live and settling in.

We are incredibly thrilled and thankful, and really looking forward to this new adventure. The base is in a really beautiful location, and we are looking at the small town of Amberg to live in. In fact, we already have a lead on a great apartment there downtown-- a friend of a friend who will be leaving in June! Although Jeff will only have the standard four weeks off each year, we are really looking forward to weekend trips to Prague and Munich and other surrounding areas, as well as further travel in Europe during vacation times.

At this point, I have so many questions and decisions to make. First on my mind is, What do I keep, sell, or store? Of course, my first inclination is to sell everything we own and go over with just clothes and our Le Creuset cookware. But I suppose a sofa would be a handy thing to have in our new life. Should we hit the post-winter sales and stock up on winter gear, or do we buy them there in the Fall? Do we sell our three vehicles (don't ask!) and buy one used German car, or do we take our Mazda and look into mopeds? On a different note, how long do I keep my practice open for? Now that the financial pressure is off, will I enjoy working more? I am sure to have a very busy schedule once I announce my imminent departure-- do I want to be working a lot during our last couple months here?

So, our minds are still whirling quite a bit. In the meantime, Jeff will have a mountain of paperwork to fill out, Amelia will need to finally get vaccinated, and we continue showing our house to people every day. The one dark cloud in this newly sunny sky of the future is the house situation. Our bank has been messing with us lately-- they told us they would extend the foreclosure date month-to-month, that this is very routine to do, just call them on the 17th to put in the request. Well, we did, and then they told us that they would not, in fact, extend the auction date unless someone made an offer on our house. It had only been on the market for a week! So, we dropped the price to a ludicrous amount, and are just hoping hoping hoping that someone will put an offer in this week. The last thing we need is to have to move out in a few days, for three months. If someone DOES put an offer in, then we will be sailing very smoothly into our future plans-- the DoD people will come and pack us up, move whatever goes into storage, and we will be on our way without ever having to pay rent or pack ourselves up. Perfect! Every time I've driven by a "For Rent" sign, I have felt a huge wave of relief. We are not sure what to expect Over There, but we are happy and excited. Hurray!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Let's Get You All Caught Up....

Part of the reason that I have waited so long to post any family updates is that I have not really known what was going on myself! Here I will try to explain the latest.

Our House
This has been the biggest roller coaster EVER. We were in the process of trying for a loan modification for the last couple of months. Because most of our "hardship" qualifications are related to my business, I ended up writing and re-writing and re-sending versions of a profit and loss statement until it finally satisfied the requirements. This was a little stressful, since our foreclosure date was February 26th, and it was getting closer and closer. Finally, a couple of weeks before that date, Jeff spoke to someone who said that they had everything they needed, that they had requested a delay in foreclosure proceedings, and to call back in a few days to make sure the request had gone through.

In the meantime, we seemed to be having awful luck and money was pouring out of our bank account for things like car repairs and other not-fun expenditures. Nine days before our foreclosure I told Jeff, "Hey, why don't you call the bank about our foreclosure date-- we could sure use some good news right about now!" So he did call... But the news was terrible. It seems that the person we spoke to that had told us we were "good to go" was a phantom. The new person Jeff talked to said that they had never received the proper versions of the profit and loss statements, and that they had closed our case. Moreover, it didn't look like we would qualify for a modification anyway. He called again and talked to someone else, and although that person seemed better informed, the information was the same. We would need to start the process all over again. A week and a half before the auction date.

At this point, we were all set to leave for a mini-vacation at my parents' rental in Bend-- just what we needed! The plan was that Amelia would spend a few nights with Jeff's parents, then all three of them would join us for the weekend. Well, Amelia came down with a fever and awful cough the day before we were going to take her to Silverton. Of course we couldn't just drop of a sick, miserable child at her grandparents' so we just stayed home and took care of her. Fortunately, she recovered in a couple of days, so Jeff and I were still able to take a few days in Bend, which we really needed. We didn't do a whole lot. We mostly rested, and in that amount of time of doing nothing I was able to come to a place where I could say, "Even if we end up losing our house next weekend, I can handle it. We'll be OK." I hadn't been able to come anywhere near feeling OK with anything earlier in the week! Whew!

A couple days after we got home, we had a day full of good news. First, we found out that we had been given an extra month to sort things out with our house. We also found out that we could most likely do a short sale (we didn't qualify for a modification after all) and that a short sale would most likely also take care of a secondary loan that has been a huge problem for us. And the news didn't stop there! We heard from our tax lady, and because I had taken a significant loss in my business last year (not the good news) we had a very large reimbursement coming our way! We both felt like we could breathe again.

That night, we went to a fancy restaurant to celebrate all of the relief. Although the food was good, the highlight of the meal was watching Amelia enjoy herself at a new restaurant. She ordered Rabbit Parpadelle and tried the Rabbit Pate that came with our appetizer sampler, and raved about them both (she also brought the leftovers for lunch to preschool, quite proudly.) She kept saying, "What a special night. What a great celebration!" This girl was born to eat out-- she pulled out all of the best manners we've ever taught her-- very carefully wiping her mouth and fingers with her napkin, then returning it to her lap; keeping her food and used utensils on her plate, watching and copying our every move, minding her P's and Q's and telling the owner how great everything was. What fun!

All of that was really not very long ago-- two weeks, maybe? Since then, things have gotten a little more roller-coaster-y. I got some significant information that I am so glad I was not aware of last month! I had no idea that in a typical foreclosure auction, you are kicked out of your home that day. I had always thought that there was something like an escrow period in which to gather yourself, find a place to live and peaceably move out. Wrong. Our realtor spelled it out for us earlier this week, and I was completely shocked, not to mention alarmed. The reason he brought this up is that there is still a possibility that things will not go our way, and we could still end up in an auction situation. The bank will likely extend the date for us month-to-month, but it will always be a little dicey, until we get an offer on the house. So, in addition to having the house ready to be shown all the time, we are also looking at rental properties daily. I checked out four of them on Saturday. The thing is, we could still end up living here for several more months, depending on how the short-sale process goes. Or, we could end up abruptly having to leave in, oh, say... three weeks. However the most likely scenario will be that someone will make an offer before the month is over and then we're secure until the bank comes to a decision on that offer, which could be up to 90 days. Then we start that process over again-- things are not sure, but they are certainly in our favor for now.

Now that our home is on the market, it's been a little creepy to have all these people driving by really slowly, coming back and crawling by again to get another look. Or just walking over here and hanging around forever, scoping our house out. While we are rather tidy people, it is a little stressful to get a call saying that a group of people will be coming through our home in an hour-- I end up running around frantically trying to clean up and put things away (remember we have no closets or drawers to put stuff in!) I was really thankful to find someone to barter with for housekeeping. She will come every other week to do floors and windows, so at least I don't have to worry about that stuff so much.

Of course, I feel pretty sad about moving out of our house. It is particularly hard to list it at a price that WE COULD AFFORD! Especially looking at the rental properties in our price range. It is such a struggle for me to figure out what is most important as we consider housing options. Of course I want to grow as much food as possible, and to keep our chickens, but that seems like a luxury. I definitely want a place for Amelia to go outside and play, and that is looking like a difficult thing to find as well. But what I really feel like I can't abide is the thought of sharing a washing machine with 20 other people down in some dank little basement, especially with a kid that still wets her pants and sheets all the time. I just can't imagine not being able to do laundry all the time like we do now! So, we're just hoping to stay here for as long as possible, and maybe be able to afford something a bit more ideal by the time we need to go.

To make matters a little more uncertain, we are still in the process of applying for some positions overseas. Right now, we have applications in for Sicily, Stuttgart,and Vilseck, Germany. The two Germany positions begin in July, which could end up being PERFECT for our family. Now, more than ever, we feel like it would be ideal to go have an adventure, make some good money and take a break from all of this stuff for a couple of years. Jeff was just contacted this morning by the base in Vilseck to schedule an interview. This location is less desirable for us than the other two, but I think we'd take it anyway-- we're ready for something different!

As always, this whole situation really complicates things for my business. It has been a year now that I haven't known if I was going to stay and grow in Portland or not. It makes it hard to invest, both financially and in terms of time and energy-- I just don't know if it's worth it at the moment. For example, I'd like to lease a different office space, but there is no good way to decide where it should be, when I just don't know where we'll be living if we stay in Portland, or even when we'd move to a new neighborhood. I'd like to shell out some money toward advertising/ website/ signage that would pay off in the long run, but it would be a huge waste of money if we were to move out of the country this summer. So, I wait.

I have been feeling anxious and super scatter-brained lately. I haven't responded to most emails or returned phonecalls. I have let lots of other things slip, and I consider myself to be a rather "on top of it" kind of person. Oh, well. In the meantime, I am trying to find things that help give me perspective or relieve stress. Jeff and I went and bought a few new games, and I have taken up reading for pleasure rather than information for a while. I am cooking my way through a great Middle Eastern cookbook, and made the best cookies ever last week. The weather has been gorgeous, and although I am trying to hold back my gardening instincts, I have been enjoying pulling some weeds and hanging out with our lonely chicken, Carmen. Jeff and I both have gym memberships, something we decided was really worth it for the money when we are both so stressed out. I am trying to go downtown or to the waterfont and enjoy myself when I have a free morning, rather than coming back home and doing housework or wasting my time on the computer. So, we're coping. Never a dull moment, huh?

Wow, I had planned to update you on more than just our housing situation, but that was so involved that I think I'll leave the rest for next time.