August 20th, 2014 | Comments Off on August, 2014 Letter
Being a dad requires a number of key skills. Now that Claire is 4 and Kate is 1½, I feel like I’ve mastered many of the requirements surrounding the toddler/pre-school set. I get a guaranteed laugh out of each girl when it is her turn to be launched to the ceiling or attacked by the tickle monster. I can change a diaper in the dark. It takes me under three seconds to get out of bed, run down the hall, climb 17 stairs and be ready with a hug to chase away a nightmare. I can cut any food item into bite-sized pieces fast enough that my dinner is still hot. And I’m telling you, I can peek-a-boo with the best of them. But there is one area where I still struggle…toddler talk.
I don’t know how Melinda does it, but she did it with Claire and now she is beating me hands down with Kate. Somehow, she knows exactly what the garbled mess of syllables coming out of that baby means. Now don’t get me wrong, I pick up on quite a few of them. But I want to see how you do with a toddler word challenge. Connect Kate’s version of the word in the top row to the actual word in the bottom row. The winner gets to babysit while Melinda and I go to dinner and cut only our own bites.
Naahnaah Ssss Dag Dag Dough Terder Nack Wawoo
Food Love you Claire Wrigley Yes Trade Elsa or Anna from Frozen
Piece of cake, right?! Come on…clearly when she says “dough” she wants to trade. Right? Anyone would know that. And if you’re an expert on Disney’ Frozen, you’ll know the younger sister is Anna so both sisters can be interchangeably referred to as “Naahnaah.”Our poor dog Wrigley has been officially renamed “Dag Dag” and actually answers to that when called. Claire is her favorite “terder” or in plain English, sister. “Ssss” means yes while “nack” refers to any snack or sort of food. And if you’re leaving and she wants you to know that she loves you, she will say with a little smile “Wawoo.”
At least when she puts her chubby little arms around my neck, kisses my cheek and says “Awww, Dada,” I know exactly what she means.
Sincerely, the luckiest Dada ever,
P.S. Do you have a fun word you or your kids use? Post it on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/premierhomefunding) and we’ll see if we can guess the definition! Our favorite word will win a gift card to Dunkin Donuts.
June 23rd, 2014 | Comments Off on June, 2014 Letter
A few weeks back when the weather was still gorgeous out Melinda, Claire, Kate and I decided to dine alfresco on a local restaurant patio. We knew it would be our last chance to soak in a little outdoor bliss before the oppressive humidity sets in.
While waiting for our food to arrive, we let the girls play in the grass near our table. Kate (our 1 year old) was turning slow circles and giggling while Claire (our 4 year old) ran in a big circle around her. Melinda commented that maybe this is where the phrase “ran circles around” came from. I’m sure you’ve heard that saying when someone really outdoes someone else. We started coming up with a list of things people say that don’t really make any literal sense, but we still say them anyway.
There’s this one, “That’s the way the cookie crumbles,” used as a way to express that something unlucky has happened and there isn’t much to be done about it. I know if my cookie crumbled I wouldn’t be very happy. So I guess this one makes some sense.
And while we’re on the subject of cookies, how about “Don’t cry over spilled milk” commonly used when someone is upset about something that can’t be changed. The first time this phrase is documented is in a literary work from 1659 called Paramoigraphy and reads, “No weeping for shed milk.”
Keeping in the theme of baked goods, have you ever said something was “easy as pie?” Have you ever made a pie? They don’t look all that easy to me. In the 1880’s, the word “pie” was used as a term of niceness. And the “easy” part actually refers to the ease and enjoyment of eating the pie, not making it. Personally I find cake to be easier to eat than pie.
Have you ever called someone a “goody two shoes” to poke fun at their honesty or righteousness? This phrase is likely based on an early 1500’s fable made famous in 1765 about an orphan called “The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes.” She only has one shoe until she is given a matched set of shoes by a benefactor.
“Close but no cigar” dates back to 20th century carnival times when prizes consisted of oversized toys and…you guessed it, cigars. Carnival workers could be heard yelling the phrase when someone almost won.
If you need a story to share with a group of strangers, you can “break the ice” by sharing the first reference to that concept is found in a poem from 1678 by Samuel Butler: “To give himself a first audience, After he had a while look’d wise, Ta last broken silence, and the ice.”
Even if you only use these phrases once in a blue moon, which would be a second full moon in the same month, know that they are a dime a dozen and you are in good company as they are almost all older than dirt.
I wish you a good one until the cows come home,
P.S. Do you have a favorite phrase? How about a saying that annoys you to no end? Share it with us on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PremierHomeFunding.
March 23rd, 2014 | Comments Off on March, 2014 Letter
Melinda and I have a Valentine tradition of not going out on Valentine’s Day. We actually met while we were both servers at T.G.I. Friday’s and have collectively dealt with enough holiday restaurant crowds to not ever do it again. Not New Year’s Eve, not Easter brunch, not Mother’s Day and definitely not Valentine’s Day. No way. Instead, we go out on the 13th or the 12th, which is actually my birthday.
This past “Birthentine’s Day” I took Melinda to Enzo’s on the Lake in Casselberry. As the parents of little kids, we prefer to dine out early so we can be home in time to tuck them into bed. We were the first two diners to arrive for the evening. We enjoyed the view of the sunset and the Italian cuisine and chatted about the usual married with minivan couple stuff…our girls, our jobs, our lives. It was so nice to have a few of hours to reconnect.
As the restaurant started to fill up it struck me that almost every group within view had their heads buried in their cell phones. There were two guys…both using their phones. A family of three with an elementary school age son…dad and son using their phones. A man and woman…she was using her phone and he was actually using TWO phones. No lie. We started to feel like we were in that lame jewelry commercial in the coffee shop where the man has to text the woman to look up from her phone to give her a necklace. It was supposed to be funny, but it seemed more pathetic to me. And yet, here we were.
Not long ago, Melinda read an article online (and we all know, EVERYTHING on the internet is 100% true) about a doctor who has treated a few women in their early 20’s for breast cancer. These young women had all regularly placed their cell phones in their sports bra and the tumors were located where the phones had been.
Now, let me first say while I’m really, really good at mortgages and finance, I am NOT a doctor. I am not a scientist. Heck, I’m not even good at growing plants. I have no idea if it is true that cell phones could cause cancer. What I do want to speculate about is…WHAT IF they do? What if cell phones became the new cigarettes?
Let that sink in for a second. What if all over the modern world people start dropping dead from cell phone cancer. (Wonder if there is an app for that.) We give our phones to our children. Melinda used her phone extensively during both pregnancies on bed rest as a lifeline to the outside world. We put them by our heads, by our beds, in our back pockets by our cheeks and in our front pockets by our (CENSORED for sensitive readers.) I think you get the point.
So, consider this…if you found out tomorrow that your cell phone actually could kill you, would you give it up cold turkey? Would you cut back? Would the government put minimum age restrictions on users? Would they come with a warning label? Would habitual cell phone users be relegated to special “cell rooms” to reduce second hand cell phone use? Would the life expectancy in the “advanced” countries suddenly plummet?
Sometimes the goal of these letters is to make you smile. Sometimes it is to share a new bit of information I found interesting. This one is purely speculative…but really, WHAT IF?
Your Cell Phone Fretful Mortgage Guy
P.S. The busy Spring and Summer buying season is coming up. If you have a friend that is looking to buy a more beautiful home for their family this year please feel free to call me at my office number (407) 616-3433. Oh, but don’t use your cell phone. J
February 5th, 2014 | Comments Off on February, 2014 Letter
The air in Florida has been a little chilly lately. The plants are wearing clothes, so I guess that means winter is upon us. And in case you’ve been sequestered from all forms of media, we’re happy to share 2014 is an Olympic year. From February 6th to the 23rd, the Winter Olympic Games will take place in Sochi.
Now, nobody likes a know-it-all, but it may be fun to throw out a few random Olympic facts. Test these out around the water cooler or at your MOPS group to impress your friends and wow your colleagues.
An event that occurs every four years (like the Winter Olympics) is called quadrennial. Hmmmm….that is a $4 word. Impressive indeed.
This will be Russia’s first time hosting the Winter Olympic games. You would think with a cold climate they would have hosted sooner. Very interesting.
Sochi is a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia. It is on the coast of the Black Sea and has a population of about 345,000. It has a humid subtropical climate with mild winters averaging 52°F during the day and 39°F at night. Nope. Those are boring facts. You need something more exciting or people will just think you’re nerdy. How about, did you know there are palm trees in Sochi? Yes, there are.
The Russian government is spending $12 billion to get the city ready. Yikes. $12 billion would buy the Chicago Cubs, the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Dallas Cowboys with $500 million to spare. Give or take. You’ll need that leftover money for hotdogs and beer at all of those games.
Fisht Olympic Stadium (which they are building with $603.5 million of that $12 billion) is named after Mount Fisht. It is designed like a shell reminiscent of Fabergé art. (Think, fancy egg.) The stadium walls and roof is one continuous glass surface designed to reflect sunlight off the sea during the day. Mildly interesting that a Russian stadium is being designed like a fancy French egg…very diplomatic of them.
The first Winter Olympics was in 1924 and the first gold medal was won by Charles Lewtraw of the United States in the 500-meter speed skate.
An Olympic size ice skating rink is 20,000 square feet and requires 13,000 gallons of water to make 1” of ice. Figure skating ice is typically 1¾ to 2 inches thick. Speed skating ice is 1⅜ to 1¾ inches thick. The figure skating ice is slightly softer and warmer than the speed skating ice. The guys and gals in charge of maintaining the ice are called ice meisters. Bet you didn’t know that. Your friends won’t know either. Are you feeling savvy?
A handful of the 550 U.S. athletes to watch this year include Shaun White on snowboard (formerly known as the Flying Tomato), J.R. Celski on speed skates (though, with a name like Celski one would think he would be in a different winter sport), and couples figure skating team Charlie White and Meryl Davis. And, if you remember the movie Cool Runnings, you’ll be delighted to know the Jamaican Bobsled team has made it as an Olympic contender once again. They should feel right at home with all of those Russian palm trees in subtropical Sochi.
Well, I think that is enough random Olympic facts to raise you to the top of the snow heap. May your torch burn bright and your plants stay warm.
P.S. If you have another interesting fun fact for this Winter Olympics, or a friend with a mortgage question, feel free to call (407) 616-3433 or email us at email@example.com.
November 1st, 2013 | Comments Off on November, 2013 Letter
I have a question for you. How many companies send you a letter every month? Not an advertisement. Not a fancy, glossy brochure about their products and services you simply can’t live without. Not an email blast. An actual letter. Really? Just me? Other companies don’t take the time to write to you? <> I had no idea. Actually, that is a lie. I did know that.
When I first started sending these letters, I had more than a few friends and family let me know how weird they thought it was. “Who wants to hear about their mortgage guy’s life?” “What a waste of postage.” “That’s dumb.” (The last one was my dad.)
But then I started hearing something very different. “We put your letter on our fridge so our whole family can read it.” “I look forward to your letter every month.” And during what I affectionately refer to as “the off season” when Melinda was on bed rest and I was simply too slammed at home to even think of writing anything remotely fun or poignant, “WHAT HAPPENED? WHERE IS THE LETTER?”
So, what is the point? Why do I write you a letter anyway? Is it because I’m a complete narcissist and want you to know all about me? Nope…there is always social media to scratch that itch. Is it because I’m hopelessly addicted to envelope glue and need a valid excuse to indulge myself? Nope. But if you are, there is an online support group for you here (It currently has 4 members.)
I write to you because I want you to KNOW me. I want you to know that I’m a dad who is willing to dress as Prince Charming for Halloween and that I about cried when Claire aka Cinderella looked at me like I was the real deal. I want you to know that I love the Cubs and chocolate cake and that our family dog snores louder than I do. I want you to know that I would go to the ends of the earth just to make Melinda smile and that Kate has the most contagious belly laugh you’ve ever heard.
I want you to know I’m not just a mortgage guy. I’m YOUR mortgage guy. And, if you know all of these things about me, you’ll feel safe trusting me to guide you through the largest, most complicated purchase you’ll ever make. And even more, you’ll feel comfortable sending me the people you care about because you’ll know that I will care about them, too.
More than once this past year I’ve heard after the fact that a friend has just refinanced or that their brother just closed on a new home. I smile and say, “Congratulations” or “That’s great!” But what I want to say is, “WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL ME?”
I will take far better care of you and your loved ones than anybody else. I will work harder and smarter to find the most perfectly tailored loan program out there. I want your family to thrive. I want your hard earned money to be put to the best use possible. I will never take advantage of you, belittle you, sell you something you don’t need, or waste your time. In fact, if I can’t offer you the very best for your personal situation, I will happily refer you to someone who can.
My end goal has been and always will be to put every single one of my clients in the best possible financial shape. Period.
I hope you know that about me.
YOUR mortgage guy
P.S. Now remember, if you or someone you know wants to buy or refinance a home you can shout from the hilltops, “I’VE GOT A GUY!” Then reach out to me through email or call me at (407) 616-3433.
October 1st, 2013 | Comments Off on October, 2013 Letter
You think you know someone…especially your spouse. But then you wake up one morning and **POOF** suddenly they are someone else.
If you’ve ever met or seen my wife Melinda, you know she’s about 5’2″ and skinny. She has brown hair with blonde highlights (this month), pale skin and grey-blue eyes. She is also the hottest thing I’ve laid eyes on. Ow! Ow! But, I digress.
The strangest thing happened a few weeks ago. Melinda walked into a branch of our bank in Indiana, withdrew a few thousand dollars from our emergency savings, and went on a shopping spree. Now she knows emergency savings is exactly that…for EMERGENCIES. And a clearance sale at Macy’s does not count as an emergency. Then, to make matters worse, the very next day she tried to do it again in Wisconsin. Fortunately, the folks at the bank stopped her. They recognized major withdrawals from that particular account were not a norm for us. What they failed to recognize is… well… Melinda.
When reviewing the security footage at the bank, Melinda was dark skinned with black hair. She was much taller than 5’2″ and my Melinda swears she wouldn’t be caught dead in a muumuu. The muumuu Melinda Rutland had a Florida driver’s license with my Melinda’s information and she also knew her social security number. And now she had a chunk of our hard earned money as well. Thanks to the call from the bank, we were alerted to the identity theft within a day of the first fraudulent transaction.
So, what did we do? Melinda (the cute one) wanted to drive up to Indiana or Wisconsin or wherever and give Melinda (the thief) a piece of her mind. That not being a realistic choice, what we did next protected us from any additional damage and we want to share these steps with you just in case your spouse, mom, dad, child, loved one or anyone you know ever becomes someone else.
- Immediately change any and all bank accounts. Was it a total hassle? Yes. Did we have to change every single direct deposit, automatic withdrawal, pin, and debit card? Yes. Is it worth it knowing that fake Melinda won’t be able to use our money to buy ugly clothing? Absolutely.
- Contact the three major credit bureaus to check for additional activity and then freeze your credit. Most folks don’t understand the difference between a fraud alert and a freeze. A fraud alert means that your credit can still be pulled with an alert to you. A freeze means that your credit is exactly that…frozen. Melinda (the cute one) received letter after letter from different retailers (Kohl’s, Meijer, Best Buy, Home Depot, Wal-mart etc.) stating that she had applied for credit cards, but been denied because her credit was frozen. Was it worth knowing that fake Melinda won’t be able to use our credit to buy ugly clothing? Absolutely.
- File a report with the local police and a claim with the FTC. As it turned out in our particular case, almost all of our immediate neighbors were victims of identity theft that same week. This report put us one step closer to catching fake Melinda. Is it more paperwork and time to pursue? Yes. Is it worth it to know that fake Melinda may end up in a lovely orange jumpsuit? Absolutely.
While we hope you never need it, I hope my short lesson will give you a leg up in case this happens to you or someone you know.
P.S. While we specialize in mortgages, my team and I have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to credit related questions and would love to answer your questions. Feel free to call (407) 616-3433, email or post on our Facebook page.
September 1st, 2013 | Comments Off on September, 2013 Letter
We get back on the road. Kate, channeling her displeasure from yesterday, is already unhappy about being strapped into her seat again. Claire is scratching like crazy. Melinda is stiff and sore from her position in the back seat and I’m wondering if maybe we should just head home. With multiple stops for diaper changes, feedings and sanity breaks, we finally arrive in Myrtle Beach. I get the keys for our rental and let out a sigh. We made it.
We open the door to the property and it looks like a before photo on Extreme Home Makeover. The blinds are missing slats. There are dead bugs everywhere. (At least they can’t bite Claire.) The air vents are black with filth and the couch looks like it is from 1985 complete with 28 years of mystery stains. Melinda says she’s not letting the kids in. She grabs a vacuum out of a closet and starts to clean. Just what you want your wife doing on vacation after a long, stressful drive, right? The smoke detector starts beeping, we get three telemarketing calls and I’ve had it. I take Claire and head back to the main office to request something that more resembles the posh apartment advertised their website. After arguing with the property manager for over an hour, they finally let us move.
The next place is cleaner, but smells like cigarette smoke. It is getting late, the girls are hungry and we still need to unpack and get settled so we decide to stay. Melinda takes Claire’s pajamas from the night before, some bibs, burp cloths and the stinky clothes from Kate’s I95 blow out only to discover after washing them, the dryer is broken. She lets out a frustrated sigh and gives up. 11 pm rolls around again and finally, everyone is asleep. I discover with chagrin there is no Internet connection so I can’t get any work done. I go to bed and pray tomorrow will be better.
Fortunately, this time it was. We met up with my mom and the rest of the families at their rental a block from the ocean. We took the girls on open-air adventures in the rented golf cart. Claire even got to “drive”. We had ice cream and swam in the pool every night. Kate looked adorable in her swimsuits and coordinating hats. Claire loved spending time with her cousins. Each evening, a different family cooked and the dinners were amazing. The time spent with family was even better. I managed to spend a total of about 20 minutes on the beach. Not that I’m complaining about that.
On the way home, we decided to give Kate an extended break from her not-so-favorite car seat by spending two nights in Savannah at a brand new hotel in the heart of the city. Their manager took special time to check the pull out couch for bed bugs (if only all hotels made sure of this.) Claire went on trips #2 and #3 to the Savannah Candy Company Store and loved our mini-tour in a horse-drawn carriage. What started as a coping mechanism to get home with as little screaming as possible ended up being a special side trip all four of us. Claire had some sweet moments with her sister by feeding her Cheerios and holding her hand while they watched Disney Junior together. Melinda and I actually celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary while we were there. It wasn’t how I envisioned it 10 years ago, but it was a sweet family time.
Our first vacation as a family of 4…definitely one we will not soon forget!
August 1st, 2013 | Comments Off on August, 2013 Letter
I have a secret. I’ve lived in Florida for almost 20 years and even after all this time one thing holds true. I hate the beach.
I hate the heat. I hate the salt. I hate the sun. And, I kid you not; I am THE whitest white guy so I always get burned. I hate the wind. I hate everything about being sticky and sweaty and sandy and there with nothing to do for hours on end. Of course we decided to take an extended family trip to Myrtle Beach for an entire week. Little did I know that sand and sweat would be the least of my trouble.
Early Saturday morning Melinda, Claire, Kate and I hit the road in our loaded SUV. We have sand toys, beach towels, Kate’s special inclined bed, Claire’s backpack of stuffed critters, two suitcases of shoes, clothes and linens, one stroller, a cooler, sunscreen and bug spray, a bouncy chair, a baby bath tub, a collapsible wagon, toys for the car ride, and somewhere in there the kitchen sink.
We drive about 20 minutes and Kate gets fussy. Melinda climbs into the back and wedges herself between the two car seats. Unfortunately, this becomes her seat for the remainder of the family trip. We manage to get about an hour of our seven-hour drive done and have to stop to feed and change Kate. We get back on the road and Claire announces that NOW she has to go potty. We stop again. We finally make it to Savannah, GA, grab lunch and take trip #1 to the Savannah Candy Company Store, aka Claire’s new favorite place on earth. By the time we’re done a storm has rolled in complete with flash flood warnings.
We are greeted by torrential rain and complete gridlock back on I95. And Kate, who incidentally hasn’t pooped since Wednesday, decides this is the perfect moment to let it all go. We pull off so Melinda can do damage control and I can find a back way. Poor Kate ends up needing an entire outfit change in the rain on the side of the road. We get back in the car, Kate is unhappy and loudly sharing her displeasure. I finally get to some side streets and hit the gas. You know what happens next.
As the officer writes me a speeding ticket, Melinda takes Kate for a walk and tries to calm her. They get swarmed by mosquitoes the size of small birds and come literally running back to the safety of the car. Kate, even angrier now, screams the rest of the way to Charleston where we wave a white flag and decide to spend the night.
Remember our packed SUV? We didn’t exactly plan on stopping, so we end up hauling a week’s worth of gear for four people into our room for the night. Stuff is falling off the cart, the baby is still shrieking, Claire is whining, Melinda is over it. I realize I am once again, “That Guy”. Around 11 pm everyone is settled. Claire is asleep on the pull out couch. Kate is calm and snuggled in her bed. We both fall asleep exhausted and vow that tomorrow will be better.
In the morning, Claire gets out of bed and Melinda notices she has some bug bites on her face. When she changes her out of her pajamas, we find more and more bug bites. They are all over her hands, arms, feet and legs. The poor little girl has no less than 20 bites. We speak with the hotel manager who says they’ll examine the room and call us if they find anything. Yeah, right.
We get back on the road. Kate, channeling her displeasure from yesterday, is already unhappy about being strapped into her seat again. Claire is scratching like crazy. Melinda is stiff and sore from her position in the back seat and I’m wondering if maybe we should just head home.