Monday, April 30, 2007

Which house is the right house?

We really feel like we're in the midst of a quandry.

One house we love. The advantages include; It is 4 years new, it has nothing we have to do to fix it up, except perhaps paint the interior to our liking. I feel really good when I'm in this's open, there is a lot of natural light, open windows, etc. It's new, it has hardwood floors, an open floor plan, a finished basement, the upstairs laundry I've wanted.... A nice storage area in the basement where we can put a freezer and have a whole lamb or side of beef in storage, frozen veggies for the winter, etc. A flat fenced back yard with a jungle jim for the kids. It's priced kinda high for us though and we'll feel pretty tight for the first 5 years or so probably in that high of a mortgage payment. My son can stay in the school he's in now, and can easily walk to school. There would be a lot of consistency for the kids in that regard. We can also walk to Krogers, the library, etc if we so choose. I could have a low-lying garden and do some landscaping, grow a couple of fruit tree or whatever. The houses around it are all selling in the 190/220,000K+ range, so we'd be walking into over 10% equity right away at the price we think they will take! It's in a newer area and it doesn't have that "Erlanger, beat-up-chewed-and-spit-out" loook. It's almost a sure thing that this house will appreciate nicely in a few years, most likely above the 3% for inflation.

The disadvantages are that the yard is small, and I'm sure the homeowner's association wouldn't let us grow a few rows of corn in the yard! I definitely couldn't hang out our laundry to dry on a clothesline. The yard is so small that I wouldn't feel comfortable getting a dog for the kids. A trampoline would fit but it would be tiiiiight. There's no privacy in the backyard; we can see the back yards (and they can see us) of over 8 neighbors! Yikes! They all just bump up next to one another. It's veeeeeery white bread though...not much diversity...everyone is upper middle class, they think that spraying the yards with chemicals is a good thing, and they protested and won against a big mosque being built in the neighborhood a few years ago. The ironic thing is that there are several well-to-do muslim doctors and their families in this neighborhood and community!

The other house we like is in an older Florence neighborhood. It has a wood burning fireplace (the more expensive home has a gas/ceramic contrived!), and a finished lower level. The big allure here is really the yard. It's a full acre! There is also a deck in the back of the house whereas the other house has a cement patio but no deck . The kids would really have a ball running around . We could hang our laundry, garden to our hearts' content (corn!corn!corn!), and have a big dog (outside only) for the kids. It's in an acceptable school district, the Conner elementary of Florence, but not the one my son is currently in. I have a friend whose son is in this school, and I am trusting that her assessment of it is accurate when she says it's fine. Another big plus is that the mortgage is easier for us ($300/month less or so!). Oh and the house has a fenced back yard, and is the last house on the end of a cul-de-sac! It's about the same distance to the highway....and it's closer to Aldi, where I love to shop as much as I can, than we are now. I would definitely save more money on groceries because it would be easier for me to get there than I can now. There is a great Japanese restaurant nearby, a muslim grocery store, and an amazing German butcher (well we can't eat his meat but he has grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat fresh bread!).

But ...the neighborhood certainly has reached it's peak. I think we'd get the 3%/year but not much more. However, to it's detriment, the area along Dixie highway outside the neighborhood seems kinda down-market (the neighborhood is near the Florence nature park). It's definitely a lower socio-economic demographic in the that good or bad? I'm not sure! I want our kids to know different kinds of kids...not just from one class of society....I think.

This house may need a lot of repairs though because it's older. Immediately we'd have to put in new carpet everywhere except the kitchen and bathrooms, which have tile/laminate floors. The current owners have a big dog and we can't live on dog carpet. EWwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

This is a sump pump house. Since the basement is finished, this could be an issue. The house is at the bottom of a hill, and when it rains it could flood in the lower level if the pump stops working or malfunctions. We'd definitely need to buy a battery back up for it in case the electric goes out in a rain storm. It appears as though there's been some settling in the foundation as well. The house is 28 years old so that's to be expected...I'd want a thorough home inspection to rule out any of that settling being pathological. I saw some cracks in the floor on the lower level in the laundry room and that concerns me. I guess the inspector is the one who would tell us the skinny on that! These issues make me.......leary. It also has noooooo curb appeal. We can fix that, but it'll cost us some money. That and the hilly hudge yard make me worry about future resale possibilities. Would the big yard be a deterrent or an asset? I view it as an asset, but it seems like most things I like the rest of society hates!

Any thoughts or suggestions from you my dear readers are welcome!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Jim Huff Realty Inc. Complaint and Disadvantages

As most of you all know, we've been house-hunting. I took the advice of a good neighbor friend and decided to ask a realtor to show me houses.Well I couldn't have made a worse decision when I chose a realtor from the Jim Huff Realty Inc. company.

I asked this Huff realtor to show me such and such houses on a Friday. This was on a Tuesday. She agreed. Then that night she called and wanted to know if me and my husband could come into her office "to look at some possible listings and for her to get to know us better" before she started showing us houses. After all, she said she didn't want to waste our time showing us houses we weren't interested in.

Well, I know my husband. There was no way he was going to sit down and talk to anyone. He's very much a do-er. So, I thought I would get this preliminary stuff out of the way on Wednesday while he was working, so I agreed to meet with her.

Come into my lair said the spider to the fly.

The bait...

I entered her office at Jim Huff Realty Inc. on Cavalier in Florence KY, and we spent about 45 minutes looking at various listings and discussing me and my husband's preferences, school districts, our price range, etc. as she had promised.

And now for the switch....

Out of nowhere and like a slap in my face she whips out this "exclusive realtor" work contract. Ya Allah! Walla! She actually had the nerve to say to me that it was actually a waste of her time to start showing me houses unless I first signed this exclusive buyer contract and promise that I would only work with her. This contract stated that if I were to buy a house in the next months, I will promise to only buy it with her and she will get the 3% commission!I couldn't believe it! I hadn't even seen one house with this woman, I had absolutely no idea what kind of work she could do, and she was demanding my loyalty to her!

This was demoralizing, demeaning, and a complete waste of me and my family's limited precious time!

What does this realtor think I am, an idiot? And who does she think she is, a lawyer or something?Lawyers perform exclusive services, and they are highly trained professionals, that require dedicated legal contracts etc. Doctors for example are also highly trained advanced professional individuals that perform exclusive services. We have a family lawyer, a family doctor, even a family veterinarian.... but a realtor is not on the same level as a Doctor or a Lawyer.

A realtor is not a highly trained professional with an advanced professional degree. She is merely a SALESMAN (well in this case a SALESWOMAN), nothing more, nothing less. She is the same as a car salesman, a furniture salesman, or the guy down the street at Buddy's Carpet Barn who sells carpets.

My parents, friends, neighbors, and clergyperson all would call me an insane fool if I signed an agreement with the salesman at Buddy's Carpet Barn promising him I'd buy some carpet from him, when he hasn't even shown me one bit of merchandise or found the right carpet in my price range!!!!!! So why should I do the same with this Huff realtor?

We are actually almost a week behind in our house hunting because of her stunt.We are currently renting and will soon go into a month-to-month fee because we will be staying past our lease period. We need to expedite the house buying process, not have ridiculous antics like this from SELFISH REALTORS like those at Jim Huff Realty Inc.

The realtor who did this to me told me that this is company policy. That means there is a serious problem with customer service and in the company vision of management at Jim Huff Realty Inc. The only conclusion I am able to make by such a selfish company policy is that this company doesn't want to help a potential home buyer; they only want to make phat cash for themselves and the buyer. That makes Jim Huff Realty Inc. by their very nature PREDATORY REALTORS when it comes to how they interact with potential buyers of homes.

Shame shame shame on you, Jim Huff Realty, Inc.!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Qatar is an AIDS trap, Iran's AIDS prevention program is a great success

-Arash Alaei, Iranian visionary in Islamic HIV-AIDS prevention program.

This is a sign that (was? I'm assuming it's still there) hanging on the men's side in the health center in Madinat Khalifa in Doha, Qatar. Although I'm glad to see that the Qatari government is trying to educate the public (well, the men) about the dangers of the HIV virus and AIDS.....


Oh sure, so the woman whose husband runs off to Bahrain or Thailand on an alleged "business trip" but is really there with prostitutes and brings the HIV virus back and infects HER, and their unborn child, is not a good Muslimah? She's not sticking to the Islamic values?????


What about if the patients at Hamad Hospital get treated by a 3rd-world idiot nurse who reuses a needle on them and they get infected by HIV? And the nurse is a fully practicing and devout muslim? ...She's sticking to the Islamic values.....she is simply UNEDUCATED and the hospital is grossly MISMANAGED in that case....and the HIV victim is just that, an innocent VICTIM....

HIV infection in Qatar has absolutley NOTHING to do with "Islamic Morals" on the part of the individual, and EVERYTHING to do with the Government of Qatar doing a very un-Islamic thing, which is that they absolutley have nothing that even resembles an HIV/AIDS prevention program.

I actually sat one day in Hamad Hospital while waiting to take an asthma breathing test and watched a nurse re-use a needle on a patient. I even called her on it and she lied to my face and denied her very own behavior that I completely witnessed in broad daylight.

I was hospitalized in Hamad hospital for 10 days in 2004. I can honestly say that I feared HIV infection very much. My nurses were trained at what we in America would consider a candy-striper level (this is a volunteer who changes the sheets in the USA). I'm talking the kind of nurse that only knows how to put banana leaves on a massive burn! VERY SCARY. Qatar would do itself a hudge favor in it's healthcare sector to modernize itself by hiring actual nurses instead of these candy stripers! They are so focused on "modernizing", building new roads, tearing down embarasssing old buildings and erecting impressive skyscrapers etc. but they still use 3-rd world unskilled nurses. This is an abomination and a real threat to everyone's health, especially when it comes to HIV infection. I had to actually quiz my nurses every time they were going to start an IV line on me or give me an injection to ensure they were using an unopened needle. For God's sakes, these nurses didn't even know how to clean a wound properly! One of them wiped my wound from the outside in, not the inside out. And another I had to always remind to wipe the outside of my IV catheter thingie with an alcohol pad before she attached the line to it.

Sure, Qatar will boast that they "screen" all guest workers for HIV and for TB upon arrival. If they test positive, they are deported and cannot work in Qatar (nevermind that HIV has up to a 6-month window upon initial infection where you might test negative but you're actually infected! DUUUUUUUUH!) That's it. That's their HIV prevention program. No public education program about how the virus is actually transmitted, no free condom distribution or clean needle distribution, nothing. Just deport the guest workers upon arrival if they test positive. Period. That's very piss-poor of an HIV control program if you ask me.

Instead of demoralizing people and telling them that if they follow the Islamic values, if they are just "good little muslims" then they'll be protected, (what hogwash), there should be an empirically validated HIV AIDS prevention program in place.

Iran is the Light of Hope when it comes to HIV AIDS prevention and treatment in the context of the Islamic world. In fact their program is so effective, that their model is set to be exported to the rest of the Islamic world.

"The main attitude in the region is that HIV is a Western disease; so we don't get HIV. So when we broke the silence of denial in Iran and we [successfully got] the support of the religious leaders, we could motivate other countries in the region."
-Aresh Alaei, co-founder of Iran's successful HIV/AIDS prevention program.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Suburbia, Real Estate and Realtor Rant

Colorful and Alive vs. Brown and Dead?????

Alhumdulillah we've been approved and we're looking for houses now. Trying to stay in my son's school district but that simply may not happen. We haven't found any houses we like! Suburbia in Union Kentucky should really be called "Subversive-to-you"...because everything about it seems like it's trying to stomp out every last ounce anyone has left of individuality, creativity, or soul!

These are all new houses, but I simpy cannot call them "homes". They are cheaply built barns with holes cut in them for windows on a couple of sides (only 2 sides of the houses have windows! I NEED SUNLIGHT!), with a quickly slapped on veneer in front to give you the illusiuon of luxury - the brick or stone you see from the front is actually just a veneer, the sides and back of the houses are all cheap vinyl. It's common to see the vinyl on these homes actually bowing! I've seen it so many times in the last couple of days it's sickening. These are new houses, dang what a rip off! And the sad thing is that folks are paying $200,000 and up to live in these shacks!

All of the houses are shades of grey. Apparently this was intentional. I am assuming the builder and/or the home association decided this because they think it will foster better resale values? However I beg to differ. I understand not allowing boats and campers in the front yard...but mandating that every house be a shade of GREY or BROWN? C'mon! That is pure nonsense. Houses in the most expensive markets in the United States, like around Santa Cruz, CA, are full of colour, inside and out.

They either have a small concentration-camp yard, with no basement, or NO YARD and a "finished basement", (which really isn't a basement).. it's really a first level that is halfway burmed! Now correct me if I sound insane, but isn't a basement supposed to be totally underground on all four sides, with a little bit of the top sticking out with little crawl-through windows?

Another thing we despise about these neighborhoods is that the builders, in their money-making house-building stupor, have clear-cut all of the trees that were there to build these houses as well, so there are literally NO trees...and there is not really any landscaping to speak of.

It seems like people in these neighborhoods don't do any yardwork, it's all hired out to these "lawncare" men who come once a week and quickly mow down everything in their yards once a week in a mad money-making flurry. OMG, when did this happen? Since when was it legitimate for grown men to charge tons of money to do the job of an 11-year old boy, who should do it for five bucks?
Could someone please tell me how this insanity has happened????? And why people are willing to pay $200,000+ for no individuality, creativity or soul?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Building our Dream

If you want your dream to be
Build it slow and surely.
Small beginnings, greater ends.
Heartfelt work grows purely.
If you want to live life free,
Take your time, go slowly.
Do few things, but do them well.
Simple joys are holy.
Day by day, stone by stone,
Build your secret slowly.
Day by day, you'll grow, too,
You'll know heaven's glory.
Lyrics and music by Donovan
I have this song continually playing in my mind lately. It's encouraging, no matter how cheesy! It's from the movie Brother Sun, Sister Moon, a film about Saint Francis of Asissi.
Just trying to remain calm in the midst of all of the "first-time-homebuyer" stress. Alhumdulillah, it looks promising for getting the fixed-rate mortgage. Apparently credit unions around here are fairly impotent regarding who they can lend to. So, our realtor seems to have hooked us up with some good avenues for our lending.
Inshallah kher. I'll keep y'all posted as things develop.
On a very happy note, I'm excited to announce that my sister, Brandy, is *finally engaged! She's waited for this for a long, long time, and I'm so excited for her! I'm a reunited adoptee, I found my birthfamilies (yes, both the mother and father sides!) in 2003! Yay! What a joy, to see my long-lost-sister getting engaged. I *never thought I would be able to have this opportunity!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

In tears

I am really in tears today.

We were not accepted on our mortgage pre-approval application for a 30-year fixed at CINCO.

I am devastated.

Is there anything good going to happen to us living here in Cincinnati?

My husband's job SUCKS. He is more depressed than I think I have ever seen him.

And now this.

We were *so hoping to get out of this daggone expensive rental we're in, and buy and get some equity going and move into a neighborhood of muslims where we have friends.....

If it's any consolation for myself, I don't like at all the way the mortgage broker at CINCO dealt with me. He wasn't "user friendly" shall we say. The folks down in FL at our old credit union when we were thinking of applying for a mortgage 3 years ago were SO MUCH MORE HELPFUL. They gave us this hudge packet of stuff with a checklist on "how to qualify" etc.

Granted, we are 6 years out of a bankruptcy, but we have absolutely NO DEBT, alhumdulillah and don't EVER plan on getting HARAM credit cards again, thank you very much!

CINCO approved us for a $15,000 auto loan last fall, so we thought a mortgage would be no biggie.

This guy just jotted my husband's TIN and employer's name and took one paystubb of his from me, halas that was it. Apparently the 8 months of work history was what did it. (they want 2 years). NEVERMIND that I have a work history from Qatar, he didn't want my tax papers or anything from me. They totally refused to judge us collectively, as a family unit. My hubby has to be the one the mortgage's name is in apparently b/c in the United States of America I mean jack @#$#^ because I don't have a paid job (I'm a stay-home mom). My husband took 2 years off while we were in Qatar so I could work and he could be a house husband, and this is what we get? How completely ANTI-FAMILY.

Man, as I replay this mortgage broker's actions in my mind I can't help but think that he really wasn't trying to help me get approved. He seemed quite "old school". And perhaps the fact that I was wearing a scarf on my head didn't help him relate to me very much????
Freakin' racist Cincinnati!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Why "revert" not "convert"

People who formally profess to embrace islam, such as myself, commonly refer to ourselves as "reverts" not "converts.

This is because being one who is in the state of self-submission to the higher power (which is the definition of "muslim"), one who embraces islam, means that we are embracing what we call in arabic the "din-al-fitra". This translates to the "natural faith," meaning that we are in the original state as humans that God created us in.

The word "convert" is contrary to what happens when a soul consciously acknowedges that it is muslim; we aren't changing ourselves into another form (converting) - converting impies that when embracing a religion one is changing into another form, something that doesn't come naturally to the human being... when we formally embrace islam, we are going back to the way we were when we were born on this earth, completely sinless and in perfect relationship with the Creator.

Yes, that's right. There is no concept of original sin in Islam. This is consistent with our brothers and sisters in Judaism, but not with our brothers and sisters in Christianity.

Now I know this isn't the posted topic of this blog entry, but ....

How can Christianity make sense on this premise?

  • Jesus (Yeshua/'Isaa) was a Jew
  • He practiced Judaism
  • Judaism doesn't and never has held the idea of original sin in it's theology
YET "Christianity" as we know it today=
  • the idea that all of humanity cannot attain salvation without accepting Jesus Christ as it's lord and saviour. He wasn't God, he was the Son of God, who turned his son into a man and willfully allowed people to murdur him by crucifixion, but after three days of being dead, God, (the Father), raised his Son from the dead, to atone for the sins of all of mankind, which all of humanity is born with as babies by the stain of the sins of Adam.

May I humbly point out that Jews also strictly did not believe in Polytheism - they believed at the time of Jesus just as they do now in the oneness of God, just as islam teaches.

How can this possibly be the logical conclusion to Judaism?????

It just doesn't fit.

This is one of many of the early signs that led me to seek God, to think outside the box I was put into, and ultimatley led me to the din-al-fitra.