Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Real estate woes

Just got off a somewhat-heated conversation with my Foxtons agent. You see, we've been playing phone tag for a few weeks now. They went out of business last September and we've been very patient with them. They've only got 30 employees now dealing with the 4000+ listings that they're still holding on to and I can just imagine their volume of work.
However, being sympathetic to this company's troubles does not change the fact that I still need to sell my home. The phone-tag thing where I call them and get the voice mailbox and I get a call back and they get my voicemail is getting tiresome. It didn't use to be like this when we were starting out.

Since they "closed down" last September, I've also gotten 3 appointments setup for buyers to come in for a look. None ever showed up. I did, however, get a few calls from other realtors who claim that they could not show my home to their clients because they couldn't get an appointment set up.

The proverbial straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back came in the form of another realtor who dropped by last night. Again, she told me the same song and dance number about not being able to reach foxtons but thought she'd chance it and drop by anyway. With this, hubby and I decided to just call it quits and try to get out of our contract.
This morning, after a short game of phone-tag, I finally got through to an agent. I explained to her how I've been getting calls and visits from realtors who claim that they have not been able to get through to foxtons and her mood changed. She got all defensive and started raising her voice and told me what she thought I was trying to do. According to her, I was trying to turn things around and shift the blame on foxtons. They've gotten me 6 EXCELLENT offers since we got listed with them and I've refused every single one... so I can't go on blaming foxtons for the situation. It was my fault.

Huh ?

I corrected her. 3. We got 3 offers, all with prices lower than the price of the one bedroom that got sold recently - and I have a 2 bedroom. And MIND YOU, these offers were all from people who were putting 0 downpayment. 2 out of the 3 offers even had concessions - that means that the price they're offering for my house isn't the bottom line, they still need to get some $$$ out of that to pay for closing costs - and they blame me for not accepting those offers ???
So I'm not trying to put the blame on Foxtons and they shouldn't try and put the blame on me. What I am doing is stating facts. That's what these realtors (who have dropped by) have told me and I believe them, why wouldn't I ? I've been having a hard time getting in touch with Foxtons too.

Bottomline, I was told that the judge has signed the approval papers for their sale of our listings. There was no way for me to get out of the contract and for now, it's a waiting game. Our listing has been transferred to Maplewood (?) and Century 21. I googled this and found an article that says that sellers are allowed to opt out of these contracts but cannot list their houses with other agents until the date on the contract passes. Given then, it's probably better to just stay with the new realtor handling our account and hope for the best.
Hopefully, I get someone more courteous this time. I don't blame the lady I talked to for being borderline-rude. I'm upset and I'm sure she's upset too. After all, I'm sure she's been getting a lot of flack from other sellers too - not to mention the fact that her job may not be too secure right now.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mid-Autumn Festival

Our group of friends decided to hold a belated celebration of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. Traditionally, this is celebrated by Chinese people all over the world by eating (and gifting friends / family with) moon cakes.

We also reached a new milestone with Jacob (R's kid) that night. He started talking to me - finally! - and acknowledged that Sammie exists. Heehee. To those who know Jacob, you'll know that this is a big thing. The picture posted here was snapped by Aris when she saw the three of us together in a room.

Anyway, I digress. The best part about this time of the year is the dice game. There are 5 tiers of prices and 6 dice. Each person throws the dice into a bowl and they get a price depending on how many fours they throw. There are also other combinations that they can throw to get a prize (five of a kind, six of a kind, two trios, straight, etc).

This year's big winner (Riza) got a $70 gift certification to Amazon.com. Second prizes were a UPS unit (battery backup) and noise cancelling headphones. There were a whole lot of other prizes up for grabs. By the end of the night, we found ourselves with an odd (but fun) assortment: 1 toothpaste, 1 can of spanish style sardine, 1 bowl, and 1 ResQMe (keychain version of the LifeHammer, the tool which can help save your life by breaking your car windows and slashing your seatbelt). It was really quite interesting.

Lastly, hubby and I decided (at the last minute) to try our hand at preparing Pancit Palabok. It didn't turn out too bad - or so they (our friends) say. Click here for the recipe posted on our food blog. Personally, I think it could still do with a bit more tweaking.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


What would it take to make you truly happy?

I thought long and hard and you know what ? Nothing. I couldn't come up with a single thing.

Yeah, I do have a few things on my wish/prayer list, but I wouldn't really classify anything as being critical to my happiness. We live a good life - me, my husband and our families - we're healthy and very close to our families. We have good friends.

Yeah, I could do with a raise and hubby could do with a good job. We sure would appreciate it if we receive our GCs soon and we could do with a nice vacation. We'd love to have kids some day. But if we don't get any of these soon, who cares ? We'll get it when we get it. We have simple needs and God has generously provided for us.

So yes, I am in a good place in my life. I am happy. Truly happy.

I just answered this Featured Question, you can answer it too!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Autumn Colors

I love everything about Fall - the changing colors of the leaves, the cooler temperatures, and yes, even the coming winter.

I had to go on a trip up North early this week for a few meetings at headquarters and at a couple of prospective clients and the view along the highway was just gorgeous. I couldn't resist taking a few shots but I was going too fast to get anything decent on my phone camera.

Nevertheless, don't just take my word for it, it's beautiful out there. Go out and enjoy the foliage, it will be gone pretty soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

October 20, 2007
Liberty Island & Ellis Island with April

(click on photo to view album)

Joel hooked us up with April, an ex-officemate from SBI. She's currently based in Singapore but was sent to the US for a short project. We really enjoyed April's company and hope that she could've stayed a few more days (or that we could've heard about her trip earlier).

Anyway, these albums are pictures taken from our Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island tours. We then went to the Jersey Gardens outlet mall for some shopping - and boy, did she shop! *wink*

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A day in the life of ...

Backgrounder: My sister [aka Mommy] was trying to teach my 3 year old (going on 4) nephew [aka Lyle] the concept of opposites. Now, note that the older son is already 7 years old so Mommy doesn't really remember how she did it the first time.

Mommy & Lyle were looking at a picture with 2 tigers, one big and one small.

Mommy: Lyle, this is big *points to the big tiger*. So if it's not big, what is it ?

Lyle: That's a Daddy tiger and this is a baby tiger.

Mommy thinks that maybe it would be better to try different example, she flips the book to another picture, one with clouds in the middle, a mountain on the ground and a plane flying high above the clouds.

Mommy: How about this ? You see the airplane ? It's flying above the clouds, right ?

Lyle: Yes

Mommy: So what is below the clouds ? Do you see anything below the clouds ?

Lyle: *points directly on the cloud* On the cloud, Mommy ? Huh ? How about on the cloud ?

At this point, Mommy realizes that Lyle is not paying attention... so she decides to just let him do his thing. Baka ma high-blood pa. :-)


Shoutout: if any of you guys have pointers on how to introduce "opposites" to a 3/4 year old, drop me a line, am sure that my sister (and I) would appreciate your tips :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Paper cuts

<-- How cool is that ??? Check out Peter Callesen's artworks.

This puts a very different edge to the art of papercutting, doesn't it ?

Galeng, no ?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Are you smarter than a 5th grader ?

Hubby loves watching this show and the questions are quite intriguing too. Sometimes, this even kind of makes me want to go back to my old textbooks and go through them again.

Lately, I've realized that watching quiz shows has also helped me discover a few more things about my hubby - things about him that I didn't learn about in the 20 years that we've been friends and bf-gf. First of which was that he likes maps. Magaling pala si S sa geography and I didn't even know until I'd see him answer geography questions easily.

As for me, I can easily answer the grammar, English and Spelling question and while I'd consider myself to be good in math & measurements, I'm only realizing that I really am not. How many pints is in a quart again ? and how many milliliters are there in an ounce ?

This blog is really inspired by the show that I saw last night (we have Tivo so I have no idea when this was actually shown), the contestant was the girl whose grandfather invented mood rings. One question for 1st grade spelling asked how many consonants were in the word "vowel". So she talked through her thought process...

V-O-U-L, and I know that vowels are A-E-I-O and U and sometimes Y. So the O and U in "vowel" are not consonants, so there are 2 consonants in "vowel". My answer is 2 and I'm gonna lock that in. *pushes the button*

Wrong! Okay, how can anybody not know how to spell vowel ? Pwede ba yun ? And she was like " Ohh V-O-W-E-L, like as in Bowels!!!" Hay nako. *roll eyes* Where did she go to school again ? I am so avoiding that school like the plague.

Fortunately, she was saved by her classmate, a fifth grader.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dust allergies

I've been nursing a cough and a cold for more than 2 weeks now, it started off as a sore throat at first and later came out with the other symptoms.

My throat has gotten better after a week but my cough is still lingering. Every now and then I'd get a coughing fit that lasts for minutes and that scares the hubby - and frankly, it even scares me. I sound like somebody with TB or asthma.

We're thinking now that this might be an allergy. We keep cleaning and cleaning, but it still hasn't gone away, so hubby has taken apart our bed (and the bedframe) and is cleaning the nook & crannies of our bedroom. The thing with having wall to wall carpeting is that while it makes life more comfortable, it's also very attractive to dirt and dust. And how often do you clean under the bed, anyway ? We have this very cumbersome bedframe that is very difficult to move so the area under the bed very seldom gets vacuumed thoroughly. We do let our faithful Roomba go at it every so often, but unfortunately, Roomba - the tiny robot that it is - can only do so much. We've also thrown out dried flower arrangement we have hanging over our bed - while it was very nice, it was certainly a huge dust collector.

I'm also finding out that this dust mask that I picked up at the local dollar store is helping me breathe more comfortably. I've had this on for an hour now and I haven't coughed since. Hopefully, I get to shake off this cough when hubby is done with the fall-cleaning. I'm tired.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Salad = Freezer, not a match

Having been carnivorous for most of my life, I've been trying to incorporate more vegetables in our diets recently. We started buying these packaged, pre-washed salad greens from the grocery, we serve these with creamy Ceasar salad dressing, croutons and parmesan cheese.

The thing is, these packaged greens aren't really cheap and each pack lasts us 2 to 3 meals. So last Sunday night, we opened up a fresh pack and put the remains back in the refrigerator. On Monday afternoon, I saw the package again and decided to stick it in the freezer so that they'd last longer. Who knows when we'd get a hankering for salad again ? Right ?

Last night, we decided to eat the remainder of the salad,... ewww! Turns out that freezing salad greens wasn't such a good idea after all. I wish I'd taken a picture before we chucked it out to the trash. The veggies were all soggy and reddish - not all nice.

And now, we know. (... and knowing is half the battle, GI JOEEEE!)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Walking with Dinosaurs

Hubby and I got ourselves some tickets to the Walking with Dinosaurs show at the Continental Arena a few months ago. We were very excited, come on... dinosaurs walking around the stage ? Our tickets were for the 10:30a show so we had to wake up extra early last Saturday to make sure that we had time to grab breakfast and still make it in time.

Getting there was a breeze, given that we lived only 10 miles away from the arena, but we've had to pay $10 for parking. Inside, t-shirts were being sold for $25, programs for $15 - I wanted to get some souvenirs but these prices were outrageous! I was so glad that we had already had breakfast before leaving home. If we had to eat there, we'd have spent another $20 easily and still not be satisfied.

Anyway, as we got into our seats, we looked around and started cringing when we saw that allthe groups there had kids. Hubby & I were the only all-adult group that we could find. We probably should've gone with friends who had kids.

The show was around 2 hrs in length and had a 20 minute intermission in the middle. I dozed off for most of it, it was so so boring! There were some amusing moments - where there was a mother & baby T-Rex - but I expected a lot more action, maybe like those I saw in Jurassic Park (the movie). The kids did seem to enjoy it though as there were a lot of them growling, roaring and imitating dinosaur sounds as they were walking back to the parking area.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Seemed boneless ?

Hubby and I were grocery shopping when I saw this at the meat section:

Beef Round Eye Round Roast
Seemed Boneless

er.... I did not see any bones sticking out of the meat either. so yeah, it seemed boneless to me too. Needless to say, we didn't buy this because if the store weren't sure about this being boneless, I wasn't too sure either.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Looking back

Life assessments are usually done at around New Year's time - it's usually the time when one looks back at the things that were accomplished the past year and start planning goals for the following year. It seems too early to make one now but I can't help but feel that I'm due for one since a whole lot of events have transpired in my life since 2007 started.

2007 has been a roller coaster for me. Got married to hubby in early 2007, honeymooned - our very first trip as a couple (what can I say ? we're old-fashioned *smile*) - in Singapore, and flew off to New Jersey, USA to start our married life together.

Q2 2007 saw us getting the announcement from our company that they're closing the NJ offices and the request that we relocate to headquarters in MA. This time also showed us some advancement in our GC applications and gave us our EADs.

Q3 2007 was pretty much spent entertaining potential buyers for our home and the occasional goodbye-but-we'll-see-each-other-again-dinners with friends and colleagues who, unfortunately, cannot relocate. A good friend from high school also came by and stayed with us while he toured NY / NJ - our very first houseguest. Oh yes, Q3 also gave us a bit of a shock when we heard that our real estate company was shutting down (and that our agent was among the 350 staff that were laid off). The best thing about Q3, however, was being able to work from home on a daily basis - a huge blessing!

We are now one week into Q4 of 2007 and I'm looking forward to receiving good news - did I mention how much of an optimist I am ? The way I see it, there's really no way for us to go but up, right ? And we do have a lot of things that we're waiting on - our GC, job for hubby, house on the market, relocation to MA - I'd be happy to get a few of these checked off of our list so we can go ahead and get started on the baby project.