Tuesday, January 22, 2019


These grandkids make me chuckle every day.  They wake up cheerful and full of fun.  Momma has set their clock to turn green (okay to get up) at 9:00 am and they play quietly in their room until then.  It's amazing!

When I looked up "hooligan" it was mostly negative adjectives, so this one better suits these guys:

I just like the alliteration of Happy Hooligans!

Maybe I should discontinue The Awkward Widow and change to Grandma Overload but that would take a little effort so I won't.

Deacon turns 5 in March.  He rarely walks ... always scampering! Or skipping or hopping or belly crawling.  And he is still a handful!  He's in preK at the same place Braeden went.  But he is having a bit of trouble learning the ropes.

This is big brother Braeden going to pick up brother at school.  Dadda had to push Deacon in that stroller every day to take Braeden to the same school and back.  It was fun to have it be the other way around!  That stroller must have a million miles on it.

Deacon is the mischievous one.  During Christmas goodie season, he would quietly snitch sweet things and built a stockpile under the Christmas tree.  Which was not discovered until Braeden was handing out the gifts!  Thank goodness we don't have ants!  

He's also proving to be an interesting challenge at school.  While he seems young for his age to us, apparently that is not the case at school.  I think it has to do with having an older brother?  When the teacher announced it was storytime, he LOUDLY whispered "boring baby book" when she chose a book.  Later the same day, when he wasn’t listening to the teacher, she asked him to repeat what she said. He replied “blah blah blah blah blah”.  He does super great ... if it is something he wants to do.

So the parents are working with him about respect, listening and participating even when it's not his choice.  And using KIND words.  (Sorry, I have to chuckle .... when I'm alone!)

They both love Alexa.  Braeden figured out he could ask her to solve his math problems.  Now homework is done at the kitchen table (Alexa is on my desk).  Momma does dance parties with them.  Dadda does wrestlemania ... which is over when the first person gets hurt (every. single. time).  They take turns packing lunches and doing bedtime.  My heart is so happy here.

Although they are both brutally honest.  Why is your nose so big?  I thought you weren't going to let your hair get white.  Why do you like wine so much and not rootbeer?  I keep a small stash of M&Ms in my room ... so they can come in and "cough" and I give them a medicine.  It was suggested that I get Skittles next time.

Did I tell you they got me a "girl" Lego set for Christmas?  So fun!  They can't NOT play with me when I bring out the girls!  Even IF they want to bring their guns to the tea party or turn the puppies into guard dogs.

Thursday, January 17, 2019


Ten parts to this story?  I suppose I could turn it into a novel ... Don't Mix Friendship with Business. It was a horrible, awful, no good three months and I learned a lot.  She finally moved out on Jan 3.  What an experience but at least it is over.  My realtor is gearing up for spur of the moment showings and an open house or two.  I'm concerned about leaving the house empty so she has volunteered her 25 year old daughter to live there until we arrive!  Win/win as she gets a break from living in the family room at home and I feel more secure that a vengeful tenant will be deterred.

To celebrate, I am taking my family to Maui for TWO WEEKS in February for our last big hurrah.  If it hasn't sold, we will keep our stuff in the garage so it can be shown on a moment's notice.  We adults have agreed to no screen time for ANY of us until after 8pm.  This will be a real family vacation!!!

The boys are old enough to enjoy a boat snorkel trip and a luau.  Those will be our two big splurges.  The rest of the time is beach or community pool or looking for shells and whales.  February is prime time for whales!  I wanted to get us a room for just one night at the Grand Wailea as it is the Disneyland of swimming pools on Maui.  No can pay those prices!  Goodness!!!

Let the good times of 2019 begin!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


Telling my friend that I wanted to sell the house was very difficult.  We had day dreamed that when the kids got tired of me, or ran out of room in the condo, that I would move back and we would be little old lady roommates.  I had been giving her signals since summer that I would most likely not be returning.  After meeting with the Financial Planner (and that's ANOTHER blog!) and after the wedding, I gave her the news.

She was MAD AS A HATTER!  How dare I "do this to her".  I would have to wait until her lease was up on February 28, 2019.  I tried to calm her down as I have every intention of fulfilling the end date of the lease.  Even if the house sold, the new Owners would have to allow her to stay (at the same rate).  I was shocked as I thought I was doing her a favor giving her 5 months notice.  And assuring her if she found the perfect spot before her lease was up, no problem.

I introduced the realtor and the tenant (... now former friend) via text (favorite way of communication for all of us) as realtor wanted to schedule a walk through to see what needed to be done or updated or rearranged before listing.  At first, tenant did NOT want to communicate with realtor, only me.  And tenant would NOT be cooperating in any way as this whole thing was an "invasion of her lifestyle".  Realtor has been working in this field in this State for almost 40 years.  She knows the ins and outs of everything AND is the sweetest, kindest woman ever.  She calmed her down a little by giving her two weeks before the walk through.

Tenant texted me several times a day and she didn't have time to put her things away just because my realtor was coming.  I explained she just needed it tidied up like she was having two good friends over (I named them for her .... ).  Nothing over the top. No need to put her stuff out of sight.

Realtor was greeted at the front door ...

Yes, somewhere beneath the pile of rotting leaves there is a welcome mat.  The next day in the mail I got a "notice" from HOA for below par landscaping and leaving out the trash can (they included dated photos).  Nope.  Tenant says "they got the wrong house.  This place looks better than when you lived here".  "And I never leave the trash can out".  When I sent her the photos ... yada yada yada.  I am "giving her an ulcer".  I thought I was simply asking her to do what she should have been doing all along!

She's gotten mean and threatening and name calling ... but has paid rent ON TIME for Nov and Dec when she is usually five days late.  She blocked me from her Facebook account.  She begrudgingly cooperates with realtor.  Once realtor called on a Tuesday at 8:30 pm to ask if she could do a showing on Thursday afternoon around 3:00.  "Well, that is not 48 hours notice so I can't work with that."

Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 10, 2019


YES!  After much internet research and emails back and forth with realtor and the escrow company, I got the number of the person in charge of HARPTA in Maui.  As long as I've lived there for two years during the past five, I do not have to pay the tax.  I am considered a Maui resident.

Big sigh of relief and prepping for the sale continues.  The decking had to be cleaned, primed and painted due to the sun bleach stains.  The outdoor shower had to be renewed as well.  The a/c finally got tuned up.  The water purifier got it's quarterly check up six months late but no harm.  I don't understand WHY tenant did not cooperate and schedule an appointment with preventative maintenance.  I pay for it all!  She just had to make arrangements to let them in or leave a key.  She is not employed so I just don't get it.

Realtor FINALLY got in to get photos to put on the multiple listing.  (You can take a peek if you want .... Maui MLS# 380919)  The outdoor furniture isn't arranged as I would like but once tenant is out, that will be fixed.  After much snarling and digging in her heels, tenant said Jan 3 would be her last day.  HOORAY!!  I'm getting a massage as soon as I know she is out and the locks changed.  

The "realtors" open house is Jan 8 and then open house whenever my realtor wants.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019


Nine years after Mr. Ralph's dream come true, the financial manager convinced me I can't afford two homes.  Even with my friend living there and keeping an eye on things and paying some rent, I pay a chunk of change out of pocket.  Plus the concern when things stop working, break and need replacing.  Or she asks me a question on "how to" and I just don't remember .... she has to read the manual.

While living with my little family these past two years, I have decided I would rather live here than there.  More family here, easier to visit family, more retail, more volunteer opportunities, more seasons, better library, better Adult Center and a great foodie area.  And they convinced me that they would rather have me here, despite the close quarters.  I suggested maybe when Braeden turns 10 I could find a small apartment nearby and he could have my room.  Nope!  They think having them share a room keeps their healthy relationship growing.  Of course, I may want my own bathroom by then ... 

Luckily (I thought), Maui housing prices have gone WAY up since we purchased.  This is my retirement nest egg.  I was so excited to think about earning even 4% on the investment of net proceeds, coupled with Social Security ... I would be on Easy Street.

I contacted my friend who is the realtor who helped us buy the house.  She did a little research and WOWZA!  The price range she mentioned is even better than I was thinking.

My bubble was burst the week before Christmas when my friend/realtor gave me a draft escrow recap.  I had no clue the State of Hawaii imposes a 7.25% tax on the SELLING price of homes sold by nonresidents.  

So, now I'm trying to figure out what length of time will suffice for me to be considered a resident who would not have to pay this "withholding".  I may be moving back for a year.  It might need to be two years (from what I've read) although I do have a current Hawaii ID and have paid state taxes for two of the years.  I'm also hoping there is a one time home sale for seniors (or widows) that does not require capital gains or reinvestment.  Stay tuned.

My realtor is not too happy.  I don't blame her.  She's put in so much time and energy and dealing with a grumpy and obstinate tenant.  But for $45,000 ... I think it is in MY best interest to not pay!  She keeps telling me how I can file and get some of that money back (it is NOT a tax, she says, it's a "withholding".  I get that ... but it's a withholding of a TAX)  At least with just capital gains I can deduct the cost of the house (at the time of Mr. Ralph's death), all the improvements and be excused from the first $250,000 of gain.

Sorry for whining.  I know it is a first world problem and this will make me an upper middle class white privileged Widow.  I don't mind paying my fair share of taxes but Hawaii?  You are asking too much!

Thursday, January 3, 2019


Two years ago, when my daughter mentioned she wished I could live near her and her little family while the boys were young, I immediately went into thinking mode.  I wanted to keep the Maui house because it was Mr. Ralph's dream come true.  And, when the boys became teenagers, they might come spend the summers with me ... who wouldn't want their summer job to be in Maui?

I found a property management company who got good reviews from Maui neighbors who had used them for years.  When she came to visit she said she wouldn't feel comfortable renting it because it was too awesome!  Renters would be hard on everything, inside and out.  Most properties she rented were empty and the bare basics outside.

About the same time, a friend I met through volunteering, Lisa Lou Who, was just informed her condo rent was going to increase.  Again ... every year.  Hmmm ... she loved my outdoor living area and loved gardening ... if I rented to her, at HER current rate, it would cover all my costs + $800 per month.  That would almost be enough to cover a studio apartment in Portland.  I mentioned my scheme to her.

She would be getting a tremendous bargain ... a two car garage and more space and the outdoors of all outdoors.  Electric would be $20 a month (instead of $200+) and rather than change utilities out of my name, I included them (up to a maximum) in her rent.  A bit nicer neighborhood for her AND she had already met several of my neighbor friends.

I was getting peace of mind that LLW would care for things just as I would, maybe even better.  I could leave everything there ... coffee maker, kitchen stuff, garage filled with the necessities of upkeep, bikes.  And I could ask her for two weeks of vacation there ... as part of the lease.

This could really be a win/win situation!