Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dust from under the rug

Okay… so I wasn’t always perfect. My current memories of high school are filled with the sports, livestock and leadership teams I was on and traveling with the agriculture dept, going to classes in the evening to get ahead, learning to drive and being in honor classes. But there was a window in my high school career that I must have brushed under the rug and now it has reappeared. I was going through my Dad’s stuff and there in plain sight were my mid-quarter grades. ALL F’s and a note stating “student has outstanding fines call…” What happen to the honor student that I recalled? I had 19 absences in zero period alone. The memories came back of a time that I was very unhappy. My grandmother had just passed away from lung cancer, I was super depressed, would basically coming home from school, sitting on the couch to vegg, sleep and eat. I had just battled walking pneumonia from around Thanksgiving time to around New Years and was behind in all my classes. I tried to keep up but remember my honors English teacher saying I had missed too much already, the class had taken 4 spelling test (he was trying to teach us 1000 words before the year was through) and two books were read. I had to be taken out of all my honors classes. Talk about an ego killer! I was having problems with my boyfriend and basically thought I would stick it out with him, get married, have a couple of kids and get divorce. My plans were just to settle verses getting the good life I deserved. I gained tons of weight and didn’t have a care in the world. What’s worst is I didn’t know how to ask for any. I remember making appointments with my family doctor so I could talk to him. On one visit my Mom had called him and just happen to leave him a message while I was there. She wanted to know why I was making so many visits to him and his assistant brought the message in since I was there. He hugged me and told me he wasn’t going to call my mom back. I stopped going to him for talks and confronted my mom. I needed an outlet and I couldn’t find one that was comfortable for me. My parents were worried and didn’t know what to do with me. What do you do with a kid that is not motivated and doesn’t have a care in the world? I wonder why my Dad kept only this one report card. My first reaction was to shred it ASAP so there was not a record of it. I felt so ashamed. But then I decided to keep it for a little while. I guess as a reminder of a touch period in my life that I didn't give up and made it somehow. Life it's isn't perfect and when life kicks you down, you just have to get up, shake the dirt off and move forward.

ME time x2

It's a little strange being at work and barely any one is here. It's shutdown week and only those that absolutely need to be here are here. Yup, I am one of those people. My boss asked me to come in the first two days and yesterday said I needed to attend a half day meeting at our other location. That means no causal clothing day for me.

Today I asked him if I needed to bring anything to the meeting and he changed his mind and said I didn't have to go after all. *silent YAY!!! in my head*

Of course I answered "are you sure?" instead. He said this other person was going to be there, so I didn't need to go. *sigh of relief *

I headed off to a late lunch for more ME time!!

I started my little escape to heaven with a delicious Starbucks Chia Latte with soy and vanilla (no extra shot of espresso this time), bought some new nail polish and headed off to get a much needed manicure and pedicure. It was slow at the day spa, so they spent extra time with me. My two big toes still have bruises under the nail from my first days of moving and being on my feet 12-16 hours. The lady was very gentle with that area. I love it how these places have the chairs that give you a massage. I was feeling tingly all over.

(I grabbed my gym sandals to wear back to work. My heels are closed toe and would've messed up the new paint job)

I love spoiling me! :) And I can feel my body loving it too!

Some "ME" time

I’ve been feeling weird lately. I think I went from the stresses of school and finding a house, to the stresses of moving, settling in, fixing a fixer upper, and having a toddler in the house. I wasn’t working out, was eating horribly, and not getting enough recoup time and my body was telling me it needed it. My chest was feeling tight, I was getting dizzy through out the day, was feeling sick to my stomach, and I checked my blood pressure and it was high. Oh my poor body! I knew it was stress related or I had to be pregnant. I took a pregnancy test this morning and it was negative, so I am not preggers, so it’s anxiety/stress.
I gave my body some well deserved TLC yesterday. I started the pampering with a great lunch. You can never go wrong with sushi. I tried a spot near my work and got the Crunch Tataki Roll. It had spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, Ahi tuna Tataki and crab inside and crunch, eel sauce and onions on the outside. It was actually really tasty. After work I treated myself to a massage. I have only fallen asleep once on the table before, but last night I must have woken up like 3 times during the session.

We ended the night with watching the movie Taken, a great action pack movie!!! I give it two thumbs up and it even had me on the edge of my seat. Afterwards Jay and I had some good ol'1:1 time. It was an awesome feeling to end the night in a relax, peacful, happy state and fall asleep like a baby.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Executor Duties

Last night I stopped by my sister’s house (formerly my Dad’s) to pick up more boxes that needed to be shredded. My Dad used to rave about how he was a walking vacuum and hated clutter. Well, as I am learning he was more like someone who stuck things in a box, put it in the garage verse a walking vacuum. I remember shredding things for him when I did office work for him and he was on top of shredding junk mail, but the man had boxes and boxes of work and personal documents dating back to the 70’s.

It’s neat to bump into my Dad’s Nicaraguan grades, immigration paperwork, Grandma’s immigration paperwork, his high school graduation B&W photos and mine and my sister’s first work application with our Dad’s company. It was eerie to read through divorce paperwork, my Grandma’s funeral arrangements and how the airlines lost my Grandmother’s body while in transit from the US to Nicaragua for final burial. Don’t worry they eventually found her body and casket in FL. How do you lose something as precious and important as that? And it was cool to run across paperwork and certified letters when his company sued the Navy over some construction work. I see where I get my fight from! What was not cool is seeing the old rat poop that our old garage invader left behind back in my high school days. I still remember finding the dead rodent in some electrical wires. I know… Ew!

Today I went through 12 boxes and 2 are still in my car. Since his death I probably have gone through an additional 30+.

So the life lesson in this? Just because you have a 2 car garage or space in your house, doesn’t mean you have to fill it and save everything. Being a pack rat may serve as an emotional bandage for you, but after you are gone there are people that have to clean it all up for you. Maybe it’s time for me to take my own advice and get rid of some stuff…

Friday, June 26, 2009

It’s a small world

In the town we just moved out of is were I did most of my growing up. All my elementary schools, Jr. High, high school and one of the junior colleges I attended are there. Everywhere I go I bump into my family, old friends and acquaintances. I didn’t think that would happen 26 miles away where we now live, but it’s a small world.

I hit the gym last night for day 2 of my half marathon training and I heard my name being called. It was from a familiar looking guy on the elliptical but I couldn’t put a face with a name. I apologized to the guy and I told him he looked familiar but I didn’t 100% recall him. Of course he took the opportunity to tell me we dated before. My mind scrambled through the old memory box and no recollection. Great. He said he was joking and I used to work with his wife and we met at the Christmas party. We talked a little a then went back to our workouts. They live up the street from the gym.

Then I hit the treadmill and I couldn’t help but wonder how the lady next to me could read a novel while on the treadmill. I saw her glance up at me a few times and I was in mid stride when I heard “Vanessa?” over my iPod. I look over to see my old boss! I was really good friends with her daughter and would go to family functions all the time. Once all three of us stop working together and moved further and further apart, we just lost touch. She too lives not too far from this gym.

What makes the whole thing even stranger is the guy’s wife that I bumped into earlier worked with me and the same boss I bumped into. Now we all live within 3 miles of each other.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Fiasco with our Deposit

I had always rented from an apartment complex/management company, where there was a rental agreement until my previous place. It was a house behind a house and my sister had rented there before, so I knew the landlord. It was a tiny 750 sq foot place, but cheap and did the job for the time being.

When move out day came, Jay turned in the keys to the landlord’s wife because the landlord was not available. Jay stopped by a few days later to talk to the landlord about our deposit and he was asleep. Then Jay called him at a later date and the landlord thought we had only given him a $300 deposit when in fact we gave him $500, said we were not getting all of it back and because Jay was having a hard time understanding the landlord’s broken English they hung up with the landlord saying he was going to call me. Almost a week went by and no word from the landlord so I had to call him. I told him I had a copy of the first check written to him for rent and our $500 deposit included and he was fine with the $500.00 amount. However, he wanted me to see the work he had done to the place and talk about the deposit. I agreed and drove the 26 miles (one way) to go have this chit chat with the man. Now if you know me, I am (for the most part) by the book type of gal when it comes to these types of things. I did my research and made sure I was well aware of my rights. Luckily Google helped me find the CA Department of Consumer Affairs: California Tenant Book. It’s a guide to rights and responsibility for both the tenant and landlord. From my reading I learned the landlord was already in violation. *sigh*

Let me back up a little bit, we had left the place clean (thanks to my Mom and niece for cleaning it), we had replaced the closet wood rail with a metal heavy duty one, left the liners on the new cabinets to protect them, and added a door mirror to the bedroom. I have been there since November 2007, always paid super early on rent, never said anything when they (illegally) connected my cable line to their house line or ask for some payment for using the cable services I paid for, was nice and courtesy with the whole family, gave my 30 day written notice and contact information. So… you could only imagine the look on my face when 1.) The landlord wanted me to pay for ALL the painting supplies and labor and refused to give me receipts and invoices for the work. What is wrong with this man? 2.) Down right refused to accept the CA Handbook that I had printed for him in Spanish so we could review and he could be informed for not only this situation but all other ones. He said his friend already told him the laws and he didn’t care about them.

He offered me half my deposit with no back up and naturally I refused to take it. I was beyond pissed and thought I was being more then fair with him for asking back-up for the amount he was not paying back. He was already passed the 21 days allot to give me this information and deposit anyways, so I was technically entitled to all my deposit. He tried to intimidate me, wouldn’t shake my hand and was down right unprofessional. Even after I told him that 1/3 of my deposit was $166 and maybe we could work with that number to deduct for paint, he said I owed him more. If you know me, you know what my next step was - See ya because this discussion is over!!!! I told him we would have to resolve this in court. The next day I sent me a certified letter recapping our Friday call and Monday's visit.

The next day I received two calls from his wife. She said that she wanted to settle this woman to women and I wasn’t a “nice” person for saying I was going to take them to court. Then she said we left the floor dirty and she needed to spend an extra 5 hours to clean the floor with a special chemical. Is she crazy? It’s a 750 sq ft place, how on God’s green earth can you spend 5 whole flippin' hours cleaning a floor? What is she using to clean this floor, a tooth brush? She asked me to make a deal with her and just give her a number on what I would like to pay her and her husband for their work. I told her I could not put a value on it, I needed receipts for the paint and invoice from them for their work done or to-be done. We had agreed that I would come clean the floors and get my full deposit back. She thought it was fair and had to run it by hubby. I got a call back and no deal. He just wanted to write a check. Then she mentioned the toilet was moving a little. I told her that was not our responsibility to fix. Are they seriously thinking that we need to do all the maintenance work too? I ended the call on the same note as I had with her husband - we will just resolve this in court.

So how did it all end? Yesterday, I got a call from the wife saying they were going to give us our full refund and wanted to avoid the court system and having negative feeling about everything.

Now let’s hope the check doesn’t bounce. Haha!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Last nite…

Yesterday I was reminded that it was my Dad’s 3rd year anniversary of when he met our maker. Before realizing this I was already tense. I had been working through my lunch the last two days, work was overly hectic because we are technically “shut down” next week and people are in a made dash to get things done, plus Jay and I are having issues with our previous landlord about the security deposit (I'll post about that later). It wasn’t like the world was crashing down on me, but I did feel like my chest was tight and I couldn’t get a lung full of oxygen to save my life.

But I started to unwind when after work I made it to the beach to visit my Dad. I went to a Laguna Beach spot called Shaw’s cove. It was a beach near the location of where we scattered Dad’s ashes and a beach that we had gone scuba diving many times. I must have stayed there for an hour and half or maybe even two just looking out at the ocean, it's waves and the people enjoying each other.

Funny moment that broke the ice for the night: My phone rang and I thought it was my landlord’s wife calling me again to discuss our deposit and was relieved that it wasn’t. It was Jayla’s mom wanting to see if Jayla was near by to talk to her. Both Jay and I have horrible reception at our new house, no landline and since my cell phone has a little better reception she called me. I told her I was at the beach and Jayla wasn’t with me and instantly I thought “oh crap, I don’t want her to think that I am out her having a good time and excluding Jayla” (not that she would), so I spill the beans that I am there because it’s my Dad's 3rd year anniversary and totally don’t mention why I told her. She felt bad and I changed the subject and only after I hung up did I realized I should’ve maybe explained myself a little more clearly. I guess you can add that to my blooper moment.

Afterward I made it to our local 24 Hour Fitness Express. It was my first time to an Express gym and it was TINY! Normally there are locker rooms but this one just had a single changing room. Nonetheless, I started my official running training for my ½ marathon in October. Check it out! My oldest sis is doing it with me and maybe... just maybe... Cindy will be joining as well. *cough* No pressure Cindy :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It crepted up on me...

Father's Day was great. Jay got a head start on the celebration as Jayla greeted him Saturday with a big hug and these words "we took pictures today!," "we wrapped them... they are in the room" I had taken Jayla to take some Father's Day photos earlier that day and was grateful that I didn't take her the week before as planned, because the beans would've been spilled long before.

The next morning I made caramelized french toast, freshly squeezed OJ, egg whites and turkey bacon to continue the celebration. Shortly after I dropped Jay of to get an hour and half massage. We ate Thai for lunch and made a trip to the beach so I could drop some flowers off to my Dad. Then had a great dinner at Red Robin. It was a really nice day.

I must have written today's date down a million time and it just didn't occur to me. When I got an email (granted it was in Spanish) from my uncle yesterday saying he was doing a mass in my Dad's name today, it still didn't sink in. My oldest sister sent an email to all of us expressing some words about our Dad. Then I was chatting online with my littlest sister and she was asking if I was going to go to the beach. How could I possibly forget that it's been 3 years anniversary of him passing away??? Wow... my eyes watered and I felt the wind get sucked out of me. Of course, it would hit me while I am at work. Luckily, no one passed because I am sure I was stiff and looked emotional. I had plans to go work out after work and made an additional plan to stop by the beach. Father's Day, the day he passed away and his birthday are all within 4 weeks of each other, so I could see how it could slip my mind. Maybe that would explain my emotional state this past week.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Early B-day celebration

Last nite I meant up with Natalie and her friends for day 2 of her b-day celebration. The girl went to Disneyland yesterday, bon fire today, dinner next week and then Vegas. Talk about a party!
I got there right after sun set and some many people I didn't know where excited to see me. Only because I had the s'more supplies. Haha! For the most part everyone was social, funny and having a good time. Except for this girl that was drunk, laying on the blanket with her guy making out, holding hands with another guy, getting massages. Awkward! We the life guards came to tell us the beach was now closed she literally had a guy on top of her. Natalie has only met the girl once before briefly.

Anywho, it didn't rain on our parade. We joked around the fire pit, had a shot or Patron (or two), snacked on junk food and enjoyed each other's company. It was a nice night! Happy early birthday Natalie!!!


It's been about a week since I came home to this. It's a huge ditch that the plumbers needed to dig up to replace our front plumbing pipes. The culprit was a leak that attracted near by tree roots to come an invade the continues feed of water. The end result was cracked pipes and a big healthy tree. They did all that for only $1500K. Not bad.

Our front lawn was not kept up by the previous owners and the clay mixed dirt was hard as a rock, so the plumbers had to rent this bad boy and didn't charge us.

After the plumbers finished up the job, we had someone come out for another quote.
See this Juniper tree?

And see this Mulberry tree? (The culprit of most of the roots in our pipes.)

And this Mulberry outside Jayla's room that she swears something is on it?

And this other Mulberry on the side of our house?

Well, the "x" on them means they went bye-bye. I felt bad and flash backs of Ferngully: The Last Rain forest movie came back to me and I felt a little guilty for having them cut down. But hey? Mulberry's roots can grown under your foundation and crack it. No bueno. The roots in the front were farther then 10 feet away the tree and some were headed towards our foundation and had already attacked pipes. I still feel a little bad, tho.
Afterwards, they came to grin the roots. And of course I had to take pix from my kitchen window.

To grin 6 tree stumps, remove and grin some side bushes, cut down 4 trees, clean-up and remove the trash was only $1500. Not bad.
Our house is coming along. Now we need a landscaper to come out.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Seeing double

Monday night I met up Natalie at the Brea Mall to hang-out and shop for a Father’s Day gift. Originally we were going to eat at Nordstrom café, but it was closed. We seem to always end up at CPK and so to go along with tradition we dined there again. I had totally forgotten we went there after both our surgeries last year until she reminded me. Natalie had knee surgery and was dying to get out of the house and I was just given the OK from the doctor to drive again and here we are almost a year later. Crazy how fast time flies.

I met Natalie in front of Nordstrom where she was talking with a guy. It was her cousin who was selling some all natural creams and lotions in a middle cart. He was a riot as he went through his script while we exfoliated our skin and saw the dirty water afterwards of our dead skin and toxins. Our hands left so smooth afterwards and he even gave us complimentary scrubs to take home. What a nice guy!!

So we hit the mall for gifts ideas and then headed to CPK. But before we went in Natalie treated us to some smoothies. I had a java, peanut butter, banana smoothie and the girl taking our order kept asking me “are you sure you want it like that?” … “it sounds weird” … “if you don’t like it, I’ll make you another one.” She wanted me to try it at the station to make sure I like it and she looked some what grossed out when I tasted it, but hey it I liked it.

For dinner we both tried something different then the regular. I tried the Kung Pao Spaghetti with classic Kung Pao sauce with garlic, green onions, peanuts, chicken and red chilies and Natalie the Four Cheese Ravioli. YUM!

So tonight starts an early celebration of her b-day. She is having a bon fire and I'm bring the s'more stuff.

p/s. Not sure what's happening BUT... do you notice the time I am blogging? Yup, it's in the day and I am doing it from work AND see other blogs AND see photos on Cindy's blog. IT must have taken the restriction off.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kid magnet

Before the move I took Jayla to the local park to have some exercise. She met a little girl named Halie and soon they started playing all sorts of imaginary games. Halie wasn’t the most well behaved kid and kept stealing other kids soccer balls. I don’t know why, but some how I became the playground mediator, as Halie would run over to me and ask ME (not her dad or other kids) to play catch with her or hold the ball. Then Sebastian would come crying to ME (not his mom or Halie’s dad) asking for his ball. This happened like three times!!! When Halie had a “boo-boo” she didn’t run to her dad, she ran to me to show me it. Then, she later hugged me. It’s a little awkward when a kid you don’t know just randomly hugs you. I didn’t know what to do, so said thank you and stood up and told her to go play with Jayla.

Yup, so now at the new house Jayla and I went for a walk (more like a climb up the hill) to the park about 6 blocks away. Shortly after we got there Mom Amy and her son Michael and daughter Alison showed up. Jayla is a friendly gal and soon the kids were playing together. The kids totally ignored Mom Amy and kept coming ME. They would run around me literally, show me all the pine needles they collected, the girls came to me looking for safety from the monster (Michael) and Michael kept wanting to tell me his colors and the type of monster he was. I don’t mind that interaction at all. I was sitting on the edge of the park and next thing I knew Jayla and the two kids I just met were hugging me for what seemed like a VERY long time and wouldn’t let go. Mom Amy just looked at me and I thought quickly and told the kids to have a race on who could get to the slide the fastest.

There must be some kid sign on me that we adults can’t see that reads huggable kid mediator or something.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Our new home

Well, the last two weeks have been filled with packing, moving out of the old place and into the new place, cleaning, fighting a cold, and finals, along with the normal work schedule and getting Jayla for the summer. It was a lot to go through, but finally we are in our new place and starting to settle in. Tah dah... here's our lil piece of Cali!

We bought the house that was in a short-sale so it was sold "as is" which means we inherited some problems and the house was not move-in ready:

1. We fixed the leaking faucet in both the front and the back of the house where you attach your hose to, plus the kitchen sink faucet . Well... that must have put some pressure back in the pipes because when the painters flushed the toilets the toilets flooded. We got that fixed ASAP.

2. We had the inside painted. You will see why in just a little bit.

3. We had new bedroom and bathroom doors installed.

4. There were two previous leaks on the water heater which caused the floor below it to rot and water heater to cave in. Jay and the handyman replaced the floor, scraped the closet of the popcorn and painted it, plus replaced the water heater.

5. We had a guy come out and remove the popcorn from the hallway and bedrooms.

6. We replaced the wooded garage door we a metal automatic one that rolls up.

7. Jay and the handyman closed up two door ways, one from the master bedroom to the garage and another from the entry way to the kitchen.

8. Plumbers came out to snake the bathroom tub and their camera guy came to see where some obstruction was occurring. Pretty cool that they can stick a camera down the pipes and record for us to see.

9. We had carpet and base boards installed in the bedrooms. Which meant almost a week of Jay pulling up tile in the rooms and sanding the concrete foundation and long days!!

10. We had a guy haul away a truck and half full of a whole bunch of crap that the previous people left behind.

11. Ordered shutters for the living room and bedrooms. In 6-8 weeks they should be in and installed.

And this is where the work pays off with before and afters
BEFORE: This is what you call running out of paint and never caring. Can you believe this was a little girl's room?
AFTER: This is now our guest bedroom. New baseboards, painting and carpet. We used Behr paint in all the rooms and this one is Peanut Butter color. We ordered shutters so have temporary shades up.

BEFORE: This is the master bedroom's closets, tile and door that we closed off to the garage.

AFTER: We need to add closet doors and rods, but it looks SO much better already. The paint is Quiet Veranda. Jay was too cute and said I could pick out the color to our room. Thanks LOVE!!

BEFORE: This is still the master. I can't even begin to explain how much dirt was in this house. i kept saying over and over again "how do people live like this???"

AFTER: But now it's in good hands that are giving it much TLC! I love our room!!!

BEFORE: This was another little girls room. There was a huge Rot and Mastiff outdoors that left dirt and paw prints on the outside window.

AFTER: But now it's out office to be. Once we get furniture in here. This room is Peanut Butter too. The painter's tape was just touch up spots for the painter, but now all fixed.

BEFORE: This room house a older son that was the last one to move out. He didn't have a job, smoked pot back here and waited until the eleventh hour to remove the dogs from the property. Arrggg! Seriously, we closed Escrow late because he couldn't find a place to live.

AFTER: This is Jayla's room now and we still need to put a closet rod up and closet doors in each room. Her room is a little darker because she is young and will touch the walls, so we didn't want to have marks all over, so thought it would be safer to have a darker color. It's called Burnt Almond. What a difference from the top, huh?

BEFORE: Living room before, was this dark Tera cotta with yellow mustard ceiling with dirt EVERYWHERE!!! Even gum on the floor and dead flies...GROSS!!!

AFTER (in progress): We removed the greasy and filthy ceiling fan and painted. Excuse the mess.. we still haven't unpacked. Next weekend we are replacing the sliding door.
That's all for now. The neighborhood seems nice and we have friendly neighbors which is always a plus!

We have some upcoming projects:

- Add A/C (yes, we living in the desert of CA with no AC...YIKES!)
- Add ceiling fans in each room (being done next weekend)
- Add recessed lighting in the living room and kitchen
- Replace the back sliding door (next weekend)
- Remove the big ass tree in the front whose roots are breaking through out PLUMBING PIPES!!!
- Replace the front plumbing pipes (being done this week)
- Remodel the kitchen (maybe in the next two months)
- Remodel the bathrooms.
- Landscaping
- Re-stucco the outside and paint
- New front door

Oh the joys of being a homeowner. I hear the projects never end LOL...