Sunday, June 20, 2010

Red Houses

MckMama visited the site of the first red house she and MckDaddy were set to buy last fall. She posted her experience on Friday, the day following when her fellow Minnesotans lost many homes and lives to almost 60 tornadoes in one day.

She didn't relate herself to or even mention her state neighbors who lost lives and homes, but she also didn't show any compassion, once again, for the plight of those much worse off than she is.

There are several glossed over points in her story. The one that bothers me most is how she tries to describe her marriage as troubled after Stellan's diagnosis.
I became pregnant with Stellan and had been told he’d not make it to be born alive. Financial stress was crippling us as the bottom dropped out of the economy. My husband basically had to quit working while he stayed home with our children as I was hospitalized on the high risk antenatal floor of a big downtown hospital for weeks on end. And even when I did get out, unborn Stellan’s condition finally having stabilized, things did not get better. Instead they got, you guessed it, worse. My husband and I self inflicted terrible pain on our already weakened marriage. Our relationship crumbled apart and we spent time separated. Verbal and emotional abuse that both of us heaped upon the other finally ended with police and court involvement. We decided against divorce, in favor of intense marriage therapy, which we were involved in weekly for about a year and a half. Our marriage, hanging on by a thread, threatened to self destruct, to flatten under the weight of our unborn son’s unknown prognosis, the stress of other children to raise and care for, financial obligations that quickly piled up out of control and a relationship that had had its communication problems from the get-go.

Wrong. MckDaddy was arrested the first time for Domestic Violence before they found out there was anything wrong with Stellan. Long before MckDaddy had to "basically quit working" to stay home with the children. In fact, he was not allowed at the 20 week appointment where Stellan was diagnosed because of his arrest days earlier.

Putting the blame of all their problems on Stellan's condition is wrong. Their problems existed before Stellan became their miracle child, back when MckDaddy was a contractor and MckMama was a stay-at-home mom with two houses, an Escalade, a nanny, and a blog with only 3-6 comments per post.
Even financially, as we laboriously put the pieces back together one by one, working hard to get out of the deep hole we’d allowed ourselves to fall into, we were getting back on our feet. Unfortunately, it was too late for some of our things. Being unable or unwilling to be good stewards of some of our possessions that, of course, are actually God’s, we got them taken away. A car repossessed, our rental house foreclosed on and then the home that we were living in sent back to the bank because we were so far behind with our payments.

Let's talk about this paragraph, shall we? "Unable or unwilling"...In February of 2009, MckMama and family had had one home foreclosed on, a second up for auction, and her Escalade reposessed. While this is something many could relate to in this economy, she didn't tell her readers this was what was going on. They both lied. They "sold" the Escalade, and "put their lake house up for sale". They talked about large purchases like expensive strollers and matching designer clothes for their children, regular "date nights" that many now think were actually court-mandated marriage counseling sessions, $100+ baby slings, cruises, multiple day trips weekly, and eating organically. They didn't live like a family about to lose everything, and by March 2009, they weren't.

MckMama started monetizing her blog, making it worth tens of thousands of dollars a month at its peak while Stellan was sick. So unable (but lying about it) turned into unwilling. They added to the economic woes of their neighbors by allowing their second house in six months to go into foreclosure, and started looking at houses that cost a half a million dollars.

Which leads us to the first "red house." A contract for deed $465,000 home with 3% down, the house was MckMama's "dream home."

The $13,950 they would put down on the "dream home" was money they "saved" for their lake house, but decided to use on "moving forward" instead:
Since we could not pay the full price of the entire loan to keep it at this point, we chose to put the money we had saved for the home into our next one, and move out so we could try to sell it in order to pay the bank back for our debt before the home officially foreclosed. We had six months to do it, so we thought it was best to get out and put it on the market as soon as we could. Sad as we were to leave, we knew the chips had fallen. There was nothing we could do but move forward at this point, and to try to sell the home and not leave the bank shortchanged.

The lake house foreclosed in January anyway, despite their attempts to not "shortchange the bank". Then the "dream home" "burned down."
“It was struck by lightning. The realtor just found out. He was calling to tell us that it burned down.”

Oddly enough, the realtor must have known something police did not. The day after the house burned down, an investigation was pending and no source was known.

And the "burned down" house? Well, it was technically still standing, with damage to only one side:

That was August 25th. By August 31, they had found a new red "dream home", originally listed for $699,000 in a subdivision outside of a small town, though she only shows pictures of a farm across the street and not of her subdivision neighbors. What they actually paid is unknown but thought to be almost $500,000.

But before they found the new house, she was stressed. They were packed, but despite what she writes, there was really no pressure to move, since the lake house was theirs until January 2010.
And over the course of the next few minutes, my mind calmed down and suddenly, as I was standing out front, leaning against our trampoline, under the fir trees in the front yard of a house we were having taken away from us, it hit me.

How quickly she blames everyone else. She was having her house taken away. A house she didn't have to move out of for another five months, when it officially foreclosed, a house she could make payments on, but chose not to because she was "unwilling" to.
We learned later, after the remains of what was left of the home were studied, that it had been an electrical fire that had started in the upper middle bedroom, after the lightning struck there. In the room that was to have been Stellan’s nursery. A handful of times, I’ve imagined the horrible scene of a house fire with our family in a brand new home. We would be disoriented, not familiar with the layout, it could have been catastrophic.

Lest we forget she didn't set up Stellan's nursery or move Stellan out of her master bedroom closet in the second red house until March 17, seven months after the fire. Maybe life would have been different from one red dream home to the next - or maybe she was playing on the emotions of those who love her miracle son.

She ends by telling readers how she praises God, he forgives her and gives her second chances. Though stressed, her red houses story is a web of self-inflicted financial drama and "almosts"...she almost lost a child, she almost lost her house, she almost chose divorce. Oh, the drama and the hardships, and the joys of being blessed.

If only those who do lose children and who did lose their homes to the nearly 60 tornadoes could be so blessed and experience only self-inflicted drama and almosts.

Hopefully, through all the blessings she has received, she is remembering the stress she has put on her neighbors through her irresponsible decisions, and giving more than a little volunteer time to her neighbors who lost everything, lives and homes, this week and are now in need of their own dream "homes to make a new start in."