The School Thanksgiving Feast

M's elementary school does a cute little performance of all the Kindergartners and then we have a feast with our littles right after. The parents sign up for various food items. The person who signed up for plates and napkins was 15 minutes late which was mega-annoying. My excuse is that the corn, that I also signed up for at the last minute, wasn't cooperating.

I'm unsure how I managed this, but inside the pot where I was steaming the corn, there were frozen kernels and burned kernels. Only me. Pulled it out of the pot and put it in the microwave and that wasn't working either. It was a miserable failure. I took what was passable, left the rest on the stove and hoofed it up to the school.

(I mean, come on, who the hell can't cook corn???)

I caught the performance, and also got the plates there in time (and that stupid corn.) I saw M in her little Turkey Hat she made up there on stage with her "team." The team is made up of two other cuties who she seems to hang with the most, who thankfully, because it's all about me, have moms I totally think are awesome.

After the performance, the three girls ended up at the same table with their mama's while I served some of the food for the kids. Then I joined M and her "team" to eat. When the girls were done they got up to run around and play but left behind the turkey hats. One of the mama's picked up her daughter's hat and read what was written on the feathers.

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Mama 1 reads the hat. "I'm thankful for God. GOD? That's weird."

Mama 2 and I laughed. Mama 2 picks up her daughter's hat.

"I'm thankful for God. What? What are they teaching them?"

We all had another good laugh. I leaned over to grab M's hat. I fully expected hers to say the same thing because M usually does what her friends do.

This is M's hat.

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Thanks for nothin, mofo's!

On second inspection, I noticed she actually wrote something, then erased it.  So she is, in effect, thankful for nothing. Well played, M. Well played.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Four Things to Do Now if You Plan to Buy a House This Spring

Also published on the Huffington Post.

~~~~~

You are so close to that roasted turkey you can practically smell it. Cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, you are looking so forward to this. Planning to enter the turkey-induced coma for the next several weeks, stopping at some holiday shindigs along the way, and landing at New Years sounds pretty good.

Not so fast.

Do you want to buy a house after the new year? Lots of people do. Those people will be your competition when it comes time. If you do a tiny bit of prep work now, you can alleviate your future crush of stress and get ahead of the competition so that when the houses are listed, you can respond quickly.

1) Find a Real Estate Agent

This one is the easy one, but it also takes a bit of time if you want to do it right. You’re going to be making what might be the biggest purchase of your life. You should ensure that your team has no weak links. There are plenty of agents out there but you don’t want to be stuck with one you have to replace mid-game. Ask friends and colleagues for recommendations, check online reviews, and make a short list. Then you should schedule times to chat, pre-holiday, when many agents are winding down for the year and gearing up for next year. You want to look for many things in an agent. Responsiveness, industry knowledge, strong negotiating skills - all of that is a given. But there’s also an element to this relationship that’s a non-tangible, as in, do you “click.”

2) Call a Lender

This is the scary one for a lot of people. But it’s so necessary. Most people wait until they see a house they love online before they make the agent and lender calls. But it’s often too late. How? Because remember all those other buyers who did their prep-work already? They’re ready to write an offer while you’re still lacing up your kicks to go to the open house. If you have the agent interviews mentioned in Step 1, ask them for their recommendations as they usually have contacts who close without a lot of hassle. You aren’t committing to anyone – just starting a conversation. Get their list of required documents that you will have to provide so that you can start looking for those now. And get a sense of what you need to do between now and purchase time. There may be a mistake on your credit report, it happens to all of us. It’s important to know now so you have time to fight it out with the credit agencies and get it cleaned up in time for spring.

3) Clean out Your House

I love throwing things out. I’m not sure why I had to read that tidying book to embrace how much I love throwing things out but it’s one of my favorite things. Don’t be shy in telling people now what your after-holiday plans are to buy a house and to not inundate you with fake wreaths or give your kids with more stuffed animals they don’t need. Just say no.

4) Call Mama

Or Dad. Or your Great Uncle Earl. And drop the hint that you’ll be buying a house. If they plan on giving you any gift money, now’s the time to pony up. Parental gifts are subject to less rules than receiving money from other relatives so it’s not as imperative to actually get the money in your account, but just know the amount that may be coming your way so you can figure it into your search. Typically, money from people other than Mom and Dad has to “season,” meaning, it has to be in your account for a specified time period. Otherwise, the lender will have to “source” the deposit, which means Great Uncle Earl has to provide proof that the money left his account and you have to show where it was deposited to yours. Poor Earl will spend an entire day at the bank and asking them for copies of his withdrawals, then to the post office to snail-mail them to you and they may not arrive in time for closing. Trust me on this. Unless it’s Mom or Dad, get the money from whoever is providing it, now.

I know, that last one is tough. If there’s anything I know it’s the complication wrapped up in families with money. But it will be more difficult to track later on, so have the tough conversation now.

I Was Almost Arrested Today

People never believe the stupid crap that happens to me, but yes, this ain't no clickbait. I was almost arrested today.

This morning there was an open house at the Fillmore Arts Center, where 3 elementary schools have their weekly arts program. M's school was there today and the parents were invited to check it out, so I got to watch her in a drama class and then an art class. When I swung back home to pick up my work things, Real Estate Dad was surprised I actually got to see her. He didn't go because he thought it was just a building tour. Sucks for you Real Estate Dad, I got to see our little angel. But thankfully, I also took thousands of pictures. And this is where I handed him my phone.

And promptly forgot that I had done that. So I was phone-less today. Which isn't a big deal for the days you don't almost get arrested, but today would have been a good day to have the phone.

I got to the office and I've been working on a project with another Realtor. We decided to order lunch from Maggiano's. My turn to pay so I handed her my credit card when she placed the order online and then I headed over there. I told her I could swing in the front No Parking Zone and just run in and grab it, that's what they always tell you to do when you call in an order anyway.

Of course I pull up and the front No Parking area is empty except for one police car. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that somewhere between the police car and the No Parking zone is where I almost got arrested. Wrong.

I put the flashers on and ran into Maggiano's and went to the order pickup window. Told them my name and in hindsight I now realize there was a bit of a kerfluffle behind the desk with the 3 employees and they said they had to get the order from the back. Then I turn and see 3 cops come storming in, Ponch style, and they're heading straight for me.

Me: "You're here for me?'

Ponch: "We are."

Me: "You want me to move my car?"

Ponch: "We're not joking, this isn't a joke."

Me: "I'll move the car."

At this point I'm stumped. Did I park in an ambulance zone? Handicapped space? Nuclear attack area?

Then he screams, very loudly so the entire bar area could hear him, wait for it,

"YOU HAVE A STOLEN CREDIT CARD THAT YOU USED TODAY."

For that first instant I was like, "Yes! I'm not getting a parking ticket!"

I said, "No I didn't."

Ponch says, "Yes you did."

If I had my F*CKING phone I could have shown him my text and email alert from AMEX that says Maggiano's charged whatever dollars to my card. But no. We have to do this the hard way.

The Manager is behind the desk. he's got a sticky note on it with a name, phone number and the last 4 digits of my credit card. I said, "What's that?"

He asks for my card. I provide it. Ponch asks for my license. I also provide that.

Then we wait.

Give me my salad damn it, I'm hungry. Hannah's hungry too. She's probably back at the office wondering if I'm inhaling her lunch in the parking garage.

Manager is calling the number. Asking the number for their credit card info. Hangs up and says "It's not the same number. There must be a problem with AMEX." Suddenly everyone's demeanor changes and I'm no longer a criminal. I was like, "Can you explain what is happening? Someone said I used their credit card but it's really my credit card?" They say yes. Me again, "And you called the police, and Brooklyn* over here comes in screaming at me so the whole restaurant turns around to look?" (Brooklyn is Ponch. I just called him Brooklyn to his face. Not Ponch.)

Then I asked Ponch "What happened to innocent till proven guilty?"

It seems that some woman in Virginia has an alert on her Amex and she received an alert today telling her that there was a charge at Maggiano's for the amount I apparently spent for lunch today. So...follow me on this.

This is Maggiano's in Chevy Chase. They received a call from someone who tells them something on the phone that her credit card may have been used there at the restaurant, and without any proof, and without waiting until I get there with the card - they then call the police. The police practically storm the restaurant and accuse me of using a stolen credit card. The same Maggiano's that hosted some White Supremacist event last year at this time. Yes. Lots and lots of conclusions were jumped to here today.

And all I'm getting out of it is a free lunch. Maybe. If they remember that this even happened. And if I ever go back.

The Manager gave me his card to claim my free lunch. This is what's on the back. Awesome!

I decided it needed some edits.

I decided it needed some edits.

Five Ways to Prepare Your House For Sale

Also published on the Huffington Post.

~~~~~

There are two seasons in DC Real Estate – Spring and the Holidays. Once “Spring” gets into swing, the Washington DC Real Estate Market continues unabated until the holidays. Since my house is awash in candy wrappers, and my mini-me’s have been on a week-long sugar high, I know we’re heading from Halloween right into the holiday season.

I am currently in planning mode for spring. Never mind that I’m still wearing flip flops. Never mind that the temperature has yet to dip below 60. Never mind that winter is still coming. My mind is on spring.

I hope I’m not the only one looking 3 months ahead right now. If you anticipate selling this spring, is there anything you can be doing besides planning your holiday menu, scrapping your holiday menu and booking a flight to Mexico instead of enduring the circus that is your extended family at the end of December? Well, yes! There ARE things you can be doing. And not, it’s not the usual bit about painting neutral colors and freshening up the landscaping.

Lucky for you, I like lists and I made one just for you.

1.Tell anyone who will be buying you holiday presents – don’t. I know, this doesn’t sound like the holiday spirit, but your main goal is to clean out the house so that it shows well. We need to tackle what you already have, but most important? Stop anything further from coming in. Shoot, I’m not planning to sell my house but today when I was talking to my parents I said, “Don’t buy the kids any stuffed animals please, I just sent three dozen out for donation.” (They won’t listen. They never listen.)
 
2.Split your house into manageable zones and tackle one zone each weekend. Be very critical of each item. If you haven’t used it, you don’t need it. If you haven’t worn it, you won’t ever wear it. Make a donation pile after each task and then move it to your car before anyone has a chance to retrieve one of the items from the pile and drop it back into rotation. (I know how this works. I am both child and parent of “they who will not throw anything away.”) Drop the items off at your local donation bin during the week. Every week. Gone. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Do it again next weekend with the next project area. Watch your house slowly become manageable!

 

3.Before you leave a project area, make sure it is tidy. Sure, you’ll have to do this again as we get closer to listing time. It’s unrealistic to think it will stay perfectly organized until February. But a bookshelf? Once that puppy is cleaned out and organized, it should stay that way. Unless your holiday parties are real literary ragers.
 
4.Consider hiring a home inspector. They can give you a critical rundown of the areas in your house that need attention. Some people will say this is a double-edged sword because once you have the report, an item has been disclosed to you and you then must disclose to any buyers. True, but anything serious you either already know about or should know about and it should be fixed anyway. We want to remove as many potential objections a buyer may have to not buy your house. If you hand them a report with most items marked as “fixed,” it may give them some peace of mind, even if you note that you didn’t fix some of the smaller issues. It’s more often the “not-knowing” that bothers buyers.
 
5.Take basic care of your house. Living with 22 dead track lights in a home of 38 total is ridiculous. (This once happened to me. Seriously. It was a very dark house.) Don’t let your house go on the market without changing the a/c filter and cleaning the caked-on dust off the vent. (So many people are guilty of this.) Do the little deferred maintenance projects because buyers can sniff these out in a heartbeat and will wonder what else you haven’t tended to.


If you work on the items on this list for the next 3 months, you will be in great shape to sell when spring arrives! If you want help, call me. I love throwing things out. Especially if they’re not my things.
Next week I’ll cover what buyers can be doing for the next few months to gear up for spring.

 
Also published on the Huffington Post.

Little Girls, Big News

Since she started school, M has really been fast-tracking the whole growing up thing. When she saw some kids had lost teeth already, she kept insisting her lower front tooth was loose. I was like, "Pssht, you're faking."

Well, she wasn't. We've been getting daily tooth updates until today that sucker finally popped out during lunch. The school seems to have been down this road a few times because they were ridiculously prepared.  They had a small plastic tooth shaped container on a string that they place the tooth inside of and then M got to wear it around her neck like an Olympic Award.

We got a dollar for each tooth. Of course I'm referencing the late 70's here, so I assumed there had been some inflation. I about fell off my chair though when I googled (of course) and found it was $5 or more. Whoa! Tooth Fairy is gonna need to sell some more houses to fund the rest of that mouth.

Not to be without news of her own, Chubs announced she made a new friend in school today. Real Estate Dad said, "Oh wow, what's your new friend's name?"

"Bagina."

Real Estate Dad said, "That's a funny name."

"And I made another friend, their name is Stupid."

Real Estate Dad realized where this was going but he was already in deeper than Taylor Swift at a red lipstick store.

"My other two friends are Poop and Butt Butt."

This made her laugh maniacally, the kind of laugh where you hope no one is watching. Unless you're Chubs, or one of her new friends she met today.

#NotMeToo

I'm finding the #MeToo movement quite fascinating. This stemmed from some sleazy Hollywood scum who believed money and power could grant him the right to do some horrifying things to women. Not exactly surprising and not a new story.

Then #MeToo started to appear all over Facebook. I'm never one to jump on a bandwagon as evidenced by my total shock that the women's march became a thing, but I was impressed that there were women I knew who would share something like that about themselves in such a public forum. But then, as we all do, I started thinking about myself.

Have I ever been sexually assaulted or harassed? Right or wrong this is how my thought process went:

"Not that I can think of. Definitely not assaulted. I'm not even sure I could beg someone to assault or harass me with the sheer stream of profanity that comes out of my mouth. That one guy said to me that I was so off-putting he couldn't believe anyone would actually have sex with me. A couple of my exes said I was so emasculating that they couldn't be in a relationship with me." All clear here.

I dug back a bit farther. Oh. Wait.

I was 13 and walking down a beach in Florida by myself. I heard a noise and there was a man standing behind me, shaking his junk at me. A legit flasher. I ran. He didn't chase me. And that was that. I got back to where we were staying and went about my day.

It bothered me a lot over the ensuing months so I ended up telling my mom. If you know my mom, you know that this could have gone either way, but she doesn't take crap from anyone. What was her reaction to this revelation?

She started hysterically laughing.

It may sound insensitive but, she taught me a couple things there with that laugh. First, don't let something like this occupy one ounce of your head space. Second, your reaction to being in a situation like that is key. The best defense is always a good offense. Of course I'm talking about non-violent assaults here.

It stuck with me. All these years it stuck with me.  I worked for a builder about 15 years ago where the treatment of women by some of the management was pretty crappy. I walked in on a conversation where a couple of the managers were complaining about having to pay one of the women an equal commission on a sale in which she shared an equal part with a man.

Lame Manager: "Why is she pushing this, she gets paid enough! She wants to compare what she's getting to everyone else? Why don't we just take our dicks out on the table and see whose is biggest?"

Me: "Do it. I want all of you to take your pants off and show me, I'll get the measuring tape." I delivered this with an expert deadpan, devoid of one ounce of emotion.

They spun around to see me at the door. The looks on their faces were amazing. Like they got caught with their pants down already. There was slow shuffling around and then some scrambling toward the door.

Me: "Where are you all going? We have a contest in session! Come back."

Those conversations were never had near me again.

I can't understand how not one person in Hollywood leaked this sooner, before dozens of women were affected. But I know this. I'm going to teach my girls that harassment is about power, not sex and if you can diffuse the power, you have a pretty decent chance of coming out of it not feeling like the victim. But you also have to choose the battles. If they pass the cliche construction site and get a whistle, then a smile and wave is fine and there's no reason to feel victimized. If they pass the cliche construction site and one of the guys says, "Nice tits," I think we have all been around long enough to know what I'll have my girls programmed to say.

"You should see my penis!"

I Took a Stand Today

Facebook is rife with people taking stands on things. I try to hang in the middle, not having any real strong opinions on things, giving people the benefit of the doubt. I have to say, it's nice and happy living this way....not believing the worst in all politicians, thinking but then promptly ignoring the latest outrage instead of taking a stand on something. Stopping by the TV for a brief moment and then jetting out the door with a shrug or a laugh.

But today? Today. I took a stand on something.

We will have no more Taylor F*cking Swift in our house.

Sorry little ladies, but I'm raising you to be independent, confident women who won't give a rat's ass about the latest boy.

I reached my boiling point with Tay Tay before M was born, and I remember other moms saying, "Oh you won't be able to stop it. Girls love her." Hmm. Perhaps. I mean, it's not like my own mother could stop my non-stop decades long obsession with Guns N' Roses. In fact, this conversation via email occurred this week.

Ma: With this Las Vegas shooting, I'm worried about you going to another concert this weekend.
Me: It's your fault for not letting me go to the Meadowlands concert when they came through in 9th grade. My friends were in the Paradise City video! That should have been me! Now I have to go see them as often as I can go.
Ma: Can't you get over it?
Me: Front Row Ma! Front Row!
 
If I fill M's little ears with other music maybe I can sway her. Today while driving and flipping thru the stations, her little ears heard two notes of that craptastic talentless moron and I couldn't move off the station fast enough. "THAT ONE THAT ONE THAT ONE!"

"Cause the players gonna play play play play play and the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate and I'm just gonna shake shake shake shake shake"

KILL ME. I'M GOING TO STAB STAB STAB STAB STAB MYSELF IN THE EYES. I couldn't even let the song finish. I moved the party down to Aerosmith.

"This is old people's music."

For real? It was "Rag Doll." It's about strippers. Or hookers. Whatever, still better than Taylor.

A Tale of Two Max's

Several of the "corgi ladies" and I managed to rescue a corgi in the Florida panhandle. His name is Max. We are hoping the little guy is all up to date on his shots and then he can be transported to the Jerz hopefully to his new home.

Chubs has been off for 4 days because she's been sick. Poor little thing has been so sick but she finally went back to school today. She's been mentioning that there's this boy Max who is her hand-holding partner on the walk to the playground. Well today Real Estate Dad picked her up and asked how her first day back was. She said it was "noisy." Chubs is not one for anything loud. Real Estate Dad asked why it was noisy and she said because everyone was yelling and screaming her name when she walked in to school.

"Except Max. He was the only one who wasn't noisy. I like Max. He's 4."

Of course she likes them older. Just like her mama. And of course she likes the one boy who doesn't seem to notice her. Also like her mama.

I Hate School

Surprise #474 about kindergarten. Kindergartners have homework. Every night there are two pages of homework that have to be done, for a package of 10 that have to be turned in each Monday.

What. The. F.....

The first day was okay.  Painful, but okay. It took about an hour longer than it should have but it was done.

The second day I said "M, it's time to do your homework." She said, "I don't want to."

And that is the routine we've acted out nightly. There are nights that Real Estate Dad and I are just too tired or annoyed to fight with her. I tried telling her that this is the first of many many nights of homework and she got pissed. And you know what? I don't blame her one stinking bit.

Who the hell decided kids in kindergarten should have homework? My forehead is crinkling right now even typing that out because it pisses me off. Homework for kindergartners is really just homework for the parents and no. Just no. I'm way too busy to spend hours of time begging and coaxing and then helping with the homework. I don't think I had homework until maybe 4th grade. I can't even remember but I know it wasn't kindergarten.

Argh. School

Classic Real Estate Mama

Over the weekend, I was showing houses one morning to clients and I thought we were seeing one but we went to see five. I promised the littles I would be home quickly and we could head off to do some things I promised we would do. After all the houses and no breakfast, I was wickedly starving. I knew if I stopped home long enough to eat breakfast, they would really boil over. No, this had to be a screech up to the front of the house, kids hop in, and we take off kind of pick up.
 
I'm sitting in the left lane at a red light thinking about where I could grab something to eat when I spy a bagel place on the right, just after the intersection. I thought about that jerk who holds up traffic so he can cut across two lanes to get to the store he needs and I didn't want to be that jerk. Light turns red, and I plan to just figure out a U-turn. Except...the car on my right didn't move so fast and well...the New York Driver came right out.

I gunned it, got in front of the car, and made the right turn into the place I needed with tons of room to spare since they turned right at the intersection.

I walked up to the deli and this woman got to the door at the same time. She opened the door for me and I'm so happy I'm about to get some food in my stomach I'm like, "No you go first" and she said, "No, go ahead, it's fine." I said, "Okay but you can get in line first." She said, "Oh please, don't worry about it, go ahead."

Well shoot that was pretty nice. I order my bagel and when I'm told to move on down the line in that soup-nazi style to pay, I realized there's just one order taker and I held him hostage while he told me all the bagels they DID have since everything I picked was sold out. I turned around to the woman behind me and thanked her again and she said, "Oh, you're welcome. I'm all about being nice in this world where no one else is. I'm just so tired of it."

I felt bad for her. She sort of had a day it seemed. I got to the register and my order popped up without me telling them like you have to do at Potbelly. I said, "Can you see what the woman behind me ordered?" They confirmed, so I said I wanted to pay for that too. The cashier said, "Aww that's so nice." I said, "She's sort of having a bad day so maybe this will cheer her up."

The woman moved down to the register as I was heading into the bathroom and when I came out she came up to me and said, "That was so nice of you! I was having the worst day and I really try to be so nice to people and to top off my horrible morning, when I was driving in here someone tried to cut me off and it really put me in a worse mood."

Uh. Oops?

Forehead slap. Bad! Very bad!

I'd like to say I wouldn't do it again but you and I both know I would be lying.