Monthly Archives: September 2012

Post-Painters: Or How You Can Tell We Painted 2 Rooms Ourselves Before Caving and Hiring Painters

The living room wasn’t too bad, with three of us. Despite the size and amount of wall to cover, it took us about five hours and two gallons of paint to transform the room from bleh to blazaam.

Our bedroom was a different story. After witnessing Abalone paint being slopped over our not-Abalone trim and ceiling — and still not having touched it up over two months later — I unleashed my inner control freak and decided I’d paint the bedroom mySELF, thankyouverymuch.

Ten hours and much bodily stress later, it occurred to me that perhaps my pregnant self should not be sweating and contorting and breathing in paint fumes, despite how low-VOC they may be. So I swallowed my pride — and some of our savings — and hired a painter.

And then two of them painted three rooms in 6 hours, while the other painted our family room a dark, dark blue — including a huge stairway wall — in five.

I almost asked them to redo the master bedroom and living room/dining room/hallway, so that the whole house would look awesome, instead of just the parts they did.

Wanna see?

The bathroom — before

The bathroom — after

For the bathroom, we chose Benjamin Moore’s Gibraltar Cliffs, a greenish-gray that I was afraid would be too green but ended up being perfect. I wanted to keep the gray family going from the other rooms while bringing in some of the kitchen’s green — a room we decided not to repaint.

The office — before

The office — after

We used Benjamin Moore’s Eclipse in the office, a dark blue-gray that complements the furniture in the room and flows really nicely into the lighter gray hallway.

The nursery: before

The nursery: after

For the nursery, we went with BM’s Covington Gray (which is not in their online color catalog for some reason, but I swear exists). It’s a slightly darker gray than the Abalone in the hallway. And since we’re doing a baseball-themed nursery with a Yankees color theme, gray walls are perfect to represent their road uniforms and as a backdrop for the navy and white throughout.

The master bedroom: before

The master bedroom: after

OK, the paint job isn’t exactly professional, but I’m still so proud of the color in here. We decided on BM’s Marine Blue, a deeper color for a more intimate room. Plus, it echoes the anything-but-gray Gentleman’s Gray in the family room — which I’d love to show you, but since half the lights in our house are still out and that room has not much natural light, it’s a tad… dark right now.

The No.2 to-do on my house-related pre-baby list was getting the rest of the rooms painted (right behind actually getting the nursery set up) — and we’ve now managed to pull it off a full four-and-a-half months before little bebe’s arrival, thanks to some well-timed outsourcing that was well worth the money.

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Halfway Through: Pregnancy Progress Pictures

You know how the super-cute, crafty, energetic bloggers take the time to make signs denoting how far along they are in pregnancy, wear the same thing every week, and shoot a beautiful photo in awesome lighting in their gorgeous home to show the progress their growing belly is making? Well, I do that too.

Except I make no sign, wear what I want, and shoot a photo in my workplace bathroom on Mondays, solely so I can assure myself I am, indeed, getting bigger.

Since I hit the halfway mark last week, it’s struck me just how much farther I have to go. The baby is 21 weeks old and weighs 3/4 of a pound. Somehow, in the next 19 weeks, he’s got to get to 8ish pounds. Obv his growth rate starts picking up here pretty soon — the doctor told me in the last month, he’ll be adding half a pound a week. Which means my growth rate will be picking up, too.

Thankfully, I’ve been fairly comfortable — no tremendous back pain or swollen feet, though I do get a bit stiff in my office chair by midday. What I do have is this tremendous dull pain in my right butt cheek. Some say it’s sciatica, some say it’s something called SPD where your pelvis basically gapes open to the point where walking and sitting feels like nuclear warfare. I say it feels like I hit the stairmaster too hard, and if it feels like this when the baby is only 3/4 of a pound, I’m surely in for a treat.

So just how big have I gotten?

Big enough.

Well, let’s just say if I’m worried people will just think I’m fat, I’ve got another thing coming.

I stole this from another blogger:

Baby is the size of: A mango
How far along are you: 21 weeks, 3 days
What’s happening with baby: From Babycenter, “Your baby now weighs about three-quarters of a pound and is approximately 10 1/2 inches long — the length of a carrot. You may soon feel like he or she is practicing martial arts as initial fluttering movements turn into full-fledged kicks and nudges. You may also discover a pattern to your baby’s activity as you get to know him or her better. In other developments, your baby’s eyebrows and lids are present now, and if you’re having a girl, her vagina has begun to form.” <– Mister Mister gagged when I read him that last sentence and said he’s so glad we’re having a boy. Yes, he’s mature enough to have a kid. Also, I’m well aware I’ve just opened myself up to some questionable search engine traffic.
Due date: February 3rd
Maternity clothes: I’ve been in nearly 100% maternity clothes since about 8 weeks along. The only exception are a few Target t-shirts that are long enough to fit over the bump and over my maternity jean panel (but not for long) and a baggy dress I usually belt, that I wore yesterday with leggings.
Sleep: I pretty much can’t get enough of it. If I don’t get in bed by 8 or 9 AT THE VERY LATEST, the next day I’m taking office-chair naps. Actually, even then I still have to take an afternoon office-chair nap, but if I go to bed later, it’s morning and afternoon nod-offs. I’m still falling asleep OK and sleeping through the night except for one point where I usually have to get up and pee. Yes, I’m enjoying it while I can.
Best moment this week: I’ve been feeling the baby move a lot more and actually felt some solid kicks. He’s still not big or strong enough to where I can feel him from the outside, and I still can’t really tell what exactly the movements are. All I know is it feels either like I swallowed a live goldfish, or I’m having serious muscle spasms.
What are you looking forward to: Hitting 24 weeks. That’s the point of viability, and even though it’s still a nightmare if the baby is born that early, at least I can sort of maybe relax about that part. We had a scary moment last weekend where I thought I was leaking amniotic fluid, but thankfully, it was just urine. (Yeah, that’s a statement I thought I’d never make — I’m so glad I’m peeing myself at 20 weeks pregnant.) Also, visiting some daycares soon so we can get the infant care piece of the puzzle ironed out.
Food cravings: Mexican food and hamburgers. All the time.
Food/smell aversions: Nothing really, though I’m not super excited about salads or chicken like I used to be. I chalk it up to having a ball of testosterone growing in my uterus.
What do you miss: Being able to eat tomato soup, drink orange juice, etc. without getting crippling acid reflux. Coffee. Diet soda. Being able to bend over without having to squat, grunt, and possibly pee myself. Sleeping on my back without worrying if I’m killing my baby.
Symptoms: That gnarly butt/tailbone pain, oily skin (way more than usual, if that’s to be believed [I hardly believe it myself]), heartburn/reflux, round ligament pain, some gas but not as bad as in weeks prior, hemorrhoids, peeing myself. If this kid ever tells me he hates me, I’m drop kicking him into the next county.
Gender: Team blue!
Belly button: Really weird looking. Not out, but shallow and tiny. It feels weird.
Rings: On, but certainly no longer loose.

In other news, we finally have painters at our house currently working on transforming the remainder of our home into my chosen color scheme. We chose Benjamin Moore’s Covington Gray for the nursery, which strangely I can’t seem to find on their website, even though the painter had no trouble getting it.

And in still other news, we might have termites in our TV stand, and half the lights in our house went out last night (though all our sockets work). So we have an electrician coming today or tomorrow.

This is what we get for enjoying 4 boring weeks without some sort of home failure.

Why I Don’t Care What My Credit Score Is

I’ve found myself randomly tied into knots over the three digits that dictate everything from my interest rate to my loan acceptance, and even my auto insurance rates. My credit score has caused me more stress and sleepless nights than most anything else in the world. And today, I decided I don’t care what it is – and here’s why:

My credit score is not an accurate representation of my financial situation or credit worthiness.

Now, try telling that to the credit card company that recently denied my application, or the one that claims my score is so low that I only qualify for its highest interest rate (about 17 percentage points above prime). To them, my credit score is pretty much *all* that determines my credit worthiness. And to a certain extent and for certain people, it does.

But for me — and, I believe, the majority of consumers with some occasional spots on an otherwise clean history — it does not.

Allow me to give you a brief tour of my finances of the past 12 years:

  • Applied for and received a student card in 2000
  • Promptly ran up my balance and couldn’t pay it off
  • Ran to my parents for help after finally receiving one too many collections calls
  • Paid off that balance
  • Applied for and received a second card around 2003
  • Promptly ran up my balance and couldn’t pay it off
  • Applied for and received three additional lines of credit between 2005 and 2009
  • Promptly ran up those balances and couldn’t pay them off
  • Found myself almost $20,000 in consumer debt with four lines of credit, each carrying 30%+ interest rates, in a recessionary economy
  • Called my bank (which held three of the four credit lines) begging for help and was referred to Take Charge America, a credit counseling agency
  • Got my credit card interest rates negotiated down to about 7%
  • Paid off almost $20,000 in consumer debt over three years, with payments of nearly $600 each month

And that takes us up to last month. In these three years, I’ve learned how important it is to have savings in the bank, because I wasn’t allowed to use any of my existing cards or apply for additional revolving lines of credit. I couldn’t fall back on a piece of plastic, so I had to put money in the bank for car emergencies, health emergencies, home emergencies, and potential job loss – not to mention regular stuff I just wanted to buy (still haven’t kicked that habit, but I’ve become more conscious of what I’m buying and why – a topic for a future post).

Meanwhile, I was still allowed and able to open an auto loan, a mortgage, and student loans. The only time my participation in a credit counseling agency ever came up was when the manager of a car dealership accused me of being a bad credit risk on the floor of his dealership, in front of other customers, simply because he wanted to sell me a new rather than a used car. Cut to later that night and I obtained instant approval from Capital One to purchase a used car – elsewhere.

In short, I learned how to be a responsible credit consumer.

Which was why, upon paying off my balances in full in August, I applied for a rewards card. In three years, I hadn’t been able to use revolving credit, which had affected my credit score tremendously. Turns out, if you don’t use your credit cards, your credit score suffers. Which makes sense, as horrid as it sounds. It’s a “credit” score – scoring your credit. And without credit, your score is hard to determine.

I also wanted to enroll in a rewards program because, being a much more responsible user of credit, I knew that using my credit for everyday purchases and immediately paying those purchases off would not only re-establish a pattern of responsible credit usage, but also provide a nice little kickback to our growing family for travel, baby purchases, and more.

Imagine my rage when I was denied credit on my first application to Chase. Despite a stated score of 710 in the denial letter, I was told that my balances in proportion to my available credit were too high – absurd, since all my revolving credit balances are currently $0. I was told that I had too many delinquencies on my account – one 30-day late payment in July of 2009 being “too many.” And I was told that I had a lack of revolving account information.

Yes, because I had spent the past three years being a responsible consumer and paying off my debt rather than hiding from it.

Since, as a condition of my payback program, my previous cards had been cancelled, the only way for me to prove that I could use credit and pay for my purchases in a timely manner is to obtain credit. So I tried applying for one more before resorting to my bank or a secured card – and I was accepted.

And then I received the notice in the mail yesterday, sent ahead of my American Express card, letting me know that my APR had been determined by my credit score, and what that score was, according to Experian: 687.

(I’m not shy, I’ll tell you my credit scores.)

Eight months ago, when my husband and I applied for our mortgage – which we closed in April – my Experian score was a 729. That’s a 42-point drop.

When I was denied my first card, I was told my TransUnion score was a 710. In January, it was 740 — but even 710 is higher than what Experian calculated on my behalf.

After a brief moment of gloom, my husband reminded me exactly why I was getting this card – to build my history back up and start demonstrating how responsible I had become.

And that’s when I decided that I don’t care what my credit score is.

After reviewing my credit reports for accuracy (do this – you get a free one from each agency each year), and finding everything to be not only accurate but looking pretty damn awesome, I made a quick call to Experian to discuss my 42-point score drop over the past eight months. According to the helpful man on the phone, credit scores fluctuate all the time for a number of reasons, and all companies have different scoring models that they use to determine my credit worthiness. And by “companies,” he meant my mortgage company and my credit card company – that they had both simply determined a credit score based on how they were deciding to view my information. Which I believe to be an error on his part – my mortgage company can’t just make up a score for me, can it? – but leads to the point of this post.

One agency might tell me my score is a 715 (Equifax, it turns out), while another might tell me it’s 687.

One month it might be 729, and a few months later – after paying off every penny of every credit card and obtaining a mortgage while staying clean everywhere else – it might be 687.

I pay off a card, and my score might drop.

I carry a balance, and credit card companies might like me better and decrease my interest rate. They call people who pay promptly “deadbeats.” You know why? Because they’re not making any money on us.

Oh, and not to mention that the score I pay for on FICO or from any of the other reporting agencies, is not the score my lenders see. Which makes paying for my score a big fat waste of time and money (but not obtaining my free report on an annual basis – that’s essential).

My credit score doesn’t matter. It will change based on any number of whims. Why we need three reporting agencies generating three different pictures of our financial worthiness, is beyond me. But what does matter is that my husband and I are almost debt-free, we have a healthy emergency savings account, we own a home that we paid a fair market value for and can absolutely afford (and can afford to maintain), and we can afford to sock savings away every month.

I don’t care what my credit score is – responsibility is not a three digit number.

Oh, Boy, More Nursery Decor

Well, it’s a boy! So we are moving forward full throttle with the baseball-themed nursery decor, and I’m trying to get as much of it done as early as possible to make time for those uncomfortable days near the end of the pregnancy. We ordered our glider (the Kamilla by Best Chairs) from Buy Buy Baby this weekend, in navy cotton upholstery with white piping. It, and the matching ottoman, should be arriving at the store within 4-6 weeks, making it the first piece of furniture to go into the nursery. And we are in the process of hiring painters to do the remainder of the rooms in our house (office, reading room/family room, main bathroom, and nursery). While we can’t find the color code anywhere on the Benjamin Moore website, we’re going with Covington Gray in the nursery, a nice pale true gray (which I know they still make, because I picked up a sample pot of it at the paint store just yesterday).

And of course, there is window-shopping galore. First, we’ll be ordering the Oak Park Elementary Dresser from Land of Nod — pricey, yes, but we’ve had a gift offer so we won’t be forking over the cash for it.

Via Land of Nod

Then, we have plenty more baseball decor to weave throughout the room.

This Little Slugger pillow:

Via Etsy seller MonMel Designs

This cute personalized wall decal:

Via Etsy seller JaneyMacWalls

And these adorable basic art prints:

Via Etsy seller Wallerbee

Then there’s this awesome and colorful baseball mobile, which I think I’m going to be DIY’ing (in navy and white with baseballs, to match the Yankees/nursery color theme).

Via Etsy seller LilSproutCreations

Mister Mister loved this birth announcement print.

Via Etsy seller lovelylittleparty

And while we selected the personalized decal above, I also loved these picks for customizing the nursery in a baseball theme.

Via Etsy seller Onlyforkids

Via Etsy seller tweetheartwallart

What would you do with a baseball-themed boy’s nursery?