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It took us a couple of years to get into gear, but we finally saved up enough greenbacks to buy sod.

And let me tell you, it’s worth every penny!!!! Love it! We spent a lot of time prepping the yard — and by we, I mean, mostly J’Pace (love him!). Trees were cut, trees were trimmed, rows of dead bushes in the front yard were pulled, a zillion leaves were raked up, dirt was moved around … ugh, I’m getting tired just typing all the prep work that was done.

But the day came when 9 pallets of sod were delivered to our house. (Note to anyone buying sod, double check your measurements and how many of pallets of sod you really need. We were a pallet over, but we gave to our neighbor to keep the green going on our street!) I couldn’t believe how much something so simple, like grass, can give a house such a boost. What’s more, I can’t believe how something so domestic could make me so happy. I’m sure once I see my water bill go up, and my Saturdays consumed with mowing lawns I’ll go back to cursing homeownership. But for now, I’m happy 🙂

I admit, I was nervous about getting grass amid such drought conditions here in SoFla. But damn! Grass is good! I have a rain barrel on the side of the casa, so I’m hoping the afternoon summer thunderstorms will keep it full, and I’ll be able to not be such a water drainer.

I just have some pics of the front yard, but I’ll get some of the back yard soon!

It’s funny how life works.  It’s funny how society thinks our life should work.  I read a column by Lisa Kogan, where she decided to jump back into childhood by dropping by a Daisy meeting.  (For those without kids or Girl Scout knowledge outside of Thin Mints and Samoas, a Daisy is the first step in Girl Scout-hood.)  It got me thinking, why are we constantly trying to one up – a Daisy isn’t enough?  You have to aim for making it to a Brownie, then a Junior, a Cadette, a Senior … then an Ambassador!?  (No, I did not know all that off the top of my head.)

When I was in elementary school, I went to a Girl Scout meeting (Daisy?  Brownie?  I don’t know!).  It was held at our neighborhood park’s rec center (maybe?) and there were a handful of girls (at least?).  I don’t remember details, but I can’t say I walked away excited and full of camaraderie (or badges, for that matter).  I did make it to a second (or third?) meeting, and that’s when the Troop Leader asked me what size I needed for my uniform.  I replied something along the lines of, “My parents can’t afford to get me a uniform, so I can’t join.”  This, of course, was a total lie, but at that wee single-digit age, I already knew I didn’t want to be uniformed and forced into a group making wire hanger art and selling cookies.

Little did I know that joining groups and climbing the proverbial ladder is what life is all about.  There’s the corporate ladder; the social ladder; the economic ladder; the relationship ladder.  I’m not saying these are all bad, but it sure must make for being a little tiresome.  You make $10/hour, but you want to make $10k.  When you make $10k, you want the job that pays $20k.  You’ve hit that, but now you’re pissed because they just opened a $30k opportunity.  Or, you’re single and you want to be engaged.  Once you’re engaged, it’s a rush to be married.  The ladders are everywhere; we’re a bunch of rats chasing an endless supply of mice.  Not that the hunt isn’t always fun, but … it makes me wonder, are we ever content with our life?

It only took 4 1/2 months or so, but it has arrived.  That is, our first-time homebuyer tax credit check!  It takes less time for a bald eagle to go from egg to feathered beaut.  In less time, we also could have birthed an emperor penguin or a litter of puppies.  Oh well. 

As soon as we got the keys to our new home, dropped off a couple of boxes and got robbed (ahhh, the image of the footprint on my freakin’ pillow remains … at least now I can brush it off as a life experience! ha!), we amended our 2008 taxes to get the $8,000 credit.  From our mortgage lender, we heard the checks were arriving in the mail within 4-8 weeks.  And, at the time, that was probably true.   (Currently, the IRS Web site says: Keep in mind, however, that it is currently taking longer than normal — about 12 to 16 weeks — to process 2008 amended returns.)

By January, we started asking other people who we knew recently purchased a home and were eligible for the tax credit if they had received any good news.  No.  Well, any news at all?  Nada.  Zip.  So, we put on our Inspector Gadget hat and called. 

IRS: We have you in our system, and I’m seeing that your account has been credited.  I’m not sure how long it will be before it’s completely processed, though.  Call back in two weeks.

Two weeks later, IRS: Check your mail this week.

And, there it was.  Huzzah!  So, keep your head up First-timers!!

When I was in the 7th (or 8th?) grade, my basset hound Snoopy had puppies.  (Side note: They were the cutest freakin’ things in the world.  We had tri-color and brown and white ones!  The neighborhood girls would knock on our door and ask to play with the puppies.)  When we sold the puppies, my brother and I split the profits.  Get money!  I thought it was going to start raining Nintendo games and Z. Cavericci jeans.  It didn’t.

Instead, my mom made me put 1/2 the money into a mutual fund that she found out about.  The company literature looked like a Highlights magazine had swallowed it and spit it out complete with games and cartoon-y pictures.  It showed me how much money was in the account and how much it was growing (this was in the good ol’ market days, I guess).

And grow it did.  I think only put like $250 in there, and when I graduated college … I emptied it.  It was enough to buy me a return ticket to Rome, Italy; a Eurorail pass; a lot of hostels; my first Birra beer; one night at an amazing hotel in Venice (we splurged); a rental apartment in Cinque Terre, Italy for two days; a ferry trip to Corfu, Greeze.  It was amazing.  I learned about culture.  I learned about food.  I learned about traveling, and my friends, and myself.

I’m not really sure how to bring this together … but, anywho, I was reminded of my Europe trip when I read this article about McDonald’s taking their corporate stick and pushing it into the mouths of the Italians — Italy minister defends boost for McDonald’s burger.

I know the locals need their fast food … but, why don’t you see chain restaurants from Italy, or Japan, or Australia, or wherever, infiltrating our market?

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