Friday, April 30, 2010


15 Reasons I Won't Miss Apartment Living #3

We started looking at houses just under two months ago.  We knew we might be cutting it close because our lease here is up at the end of June.  We didn't have much choice, really.  We wanted to make the purchase coincide as closely as possible with the end of our lease because if we wanted to break the lease, we would have to magically *poof* $2250.00 into our bank account.  You heard me right.  It would cost us over two thousand dollars to break our lease.  And if we got to the end of the lease, hadn't found a house, and wanted to go month-to-month, it would cost an extra $100.00 a month.  Our money tree is a little fruitless right now, so we opted for the "time it just right" plan.  We got lucky.  Not everyone does.  Their empty pockets are the proof.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


15 Reasons I Won't Miss Apartment Living #4

I have four kids between the ages of two and ten.  Each one of them is a little ball of energy and fire that needs to be released, preferably not inside.  Luckily this apartment complex has a great playground in the middle.  The only problem is this: There are so many kids who live here that never have ANY supervision that I can't let my kids go play at the playground unless I go along.  (Let me clarify something.  The 2 year old does not go anywhere without an adult.)  When we first moved in, I would let the three big kids go over to play.  I gave the oldest a watch, and they had to stay together, not talk to strangers, not go into any apartment but ours, and check in every 15 minutes.  After a few complaints from my kids about bullies and foul language, I started going down there with them.  I NEVER saw another parent at the playground.  The kids were fighting, bullying, and two boys the same age as my oldest had the dirtiest vocabulary I have ever heard.  They say things I would be mortified to hear my husband say, much less my nine year old son. 

In short, I can't even allow my kids to play outside so I can get a little housework done.  I have to go along with them and regulate behaviors so they can play in a fun, safe environment.  I'm feared by most, and hated by all, but the kids know when I am there to be respectful because I know where they all live, and I'm not afraid to go talk to their parents.  I look forward to having our own fenced in yard where our kids can play and run and not have to worry.  Until then, I will stand up and be the b!+c# of the playground.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010



So, now that my blog is pretty, it won't let anyone comment.  I am trying to figure it out, but I'm not a techy.  I can cut and paste, but that's about it.  If you can help me out, let me know.  Either e-mail me at or @cassie_d_ape on twitter.  Until I get this resolved, thanks for your patience.

15 Reasons I Won't Miss Apartment Living #5

As you may know, I live in Montana.  We joke about only having two seasons: winter and construction, which really isn't that far off.  I have personally witnessed snow in all twelve months of the year.  You would think that since winter lasts approximately nine months out of the year here, snow removal would be a big priority.  Sadly, you would be wrong.

All around our parking lot there are little signs that say, "Drive with caution. Hazardous winter conditions may exist."  No kidding?  In Montana?  This, of course, is a CYA tactic employed by the complex because they rarely plow the snow from our parking lot.  That way, if you get in an accident due to snow or ice, they aren't liable, and can say, "Hey, we warned you."  Last winter we had five inch ice ruts running through the entire lot.  I measured.  I was extremely thankful at the end of the day that I drive a gas guzzling, bad for the air, Earth-killing SUV.  At least it was big enough to not get ripped apart by the ice.  I'm looking forward to only having to cuss the city for the bad road conditions from here on out.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


15 Reasons I Won't Miss Apartment Living #6

I don't know about you, but I love color.  Vibrant, fluid, shining color.  As a photography major in college, I dreaded the assignments in black and white because I knew that no matter what the photos showed, they would make me feel lonely.  It was the absence of color.  I have never met anyone who, when asked to name their favorite color, proudly proclaimed, "White!".  So why is it that every apartment we have ever lived in has been ALL white? 

White walls show everything.  Every hand print.  Every splash.  Every "accidental" markering by the two year old.  Then add in the white appliances, and the white blinds, and the white, white, whhiiiiiiiiiiitttttttteeeeeeeee...  I compare it to being trapped in a Montana blizzard, only, eventually, the blizzard goes away.  However, these white walls go on

Would it kill the management to step back and try something bold?  Eggshell maybe.  Or ecru.  Would tan be asking too much?  Yes.  Apparently it would.  I am so thankful that the previous owners of our house saw the beauty in color and left it instead of painting everything white.  Now if only they had left the lime green, crushed velvet, low rider sofa in the theater, we'd be in business!

Monday, April 26, 2010


15 Reasons I Won't Miss Apartment Living #7

If you are a parent, you know that one of the worst possible noises you can hear at 2:00 am is your child projectile vomiting in his bed.  However, you get up, clean up the kid, clean up the bed, throw all affected clothes and bedding in the washer, and you move on. live in an apartment with quiet hours. 

We are forbidden from doing anything noisy (loud music, showering, vacuuming, running washing machine or dishwasher, etc.) between 10 pm and 8 am.  This wouldn't be a problem if nothing requiring cleanup happened between those hours.  However, my husband is a restaurant manager who often spends ten hours a day in a hot kitchen.  He'd like to be able to shower when he gets home, especially in the summer, but it's always after quiet hours have begun.  And let's not even think about not being able to bathe the kid or wash the bedding from the example above.  Can you imagine the smell by the time 8 am rolled around??  Exactly. 

While I am grateful that some guidelines do exist, I think there needs to be a few exceptions.  After all, the management probably doesn't want this place to smell like vomit any more than I do.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

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15 Reasons I Won't Miss Apartment living #8

In yesterday's post, I talked about the cheap workmanship of these buildings.  This is the reason for today's post about listening to our neighbors, whether we want to or not.  There is very little to muffle the noise that comes from the surrounding apartments.  I am sure my neighbors can hear us, because we can hear them.  Constantly.  Upstairs and down.  The difference is, our kids are in bed by 8:30pm, whereas the next door neighbor will put her kids in bed at ten and immediately tromp up the stairs to visit the three male college students.  Within a few minutes, her kids are standing at the door screaming for her.  How do I know?  We can hear EVERYTHING.  Yes, that includes the last downstairs tenants who fought all the time.  Yes, that includes people in the parking lot coming in drunk at 2am.  Yes, sadly, that includes the extracurricular activities of the guys who live upstairs.  We. Can. Hear. Everything.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


15 Reasons I Won't Miss Apartment Living #9

At the beginning of every month, someone delivers a little apartment complex newsletter to our door.  In fact, they put it directly into our apartment.  It's a task easily performed without having to open the door.  Whoever built these apartments was really thinking.  To make newsletter delivery easy and save some money, they skipped the weatherstripping around the door!  That's right.  You can easily slip two pieces of paper folded in half through between the door and the frame.  What a great idea.  After all, it's not like we live in a state where extreme temperatures are the norm...

Also, with the first cold snap each fall, the caulking around all of the bedroom windows cracks away and exposes an open hole to the outside world.  I hope the owners did something great with the money they saved in construction costs, like found a cure for AIDS, or cleaned up Africa's drinking water.

Along with our "Luxury living at affordable prices," we get the smallest, cheapest appliances on the market, the least expensive carpet available in bulk, and only one entrance/exit in the parking lot.  I hope there is never a reason for everyone to evacuate at the same time because many of us would be stuck.

In short, if you are planning to build anything that you want to advertise as "luxury," cutting corners is not the way to get it done.  People will not be happy paying high prices for shoddy workmanship.  Trust me.

Friday, April 23, 2010

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Medicinal Marijuana and My Mom's Stolen Car

I know I have talked about some of the problems we are having with our medical bills lately, but here's a quick recap.  All of the doctors and clinics here are affiliated with one of the two local hospitals.  Therefore, all of the billing is done through one place.  Sometime last year, the hospital we use started outsourcing its billing to another company.  I really wouldn't care except that this year we have gotten seven bills at least four months, and up to seven months, after the date of service.  We had to make a mad dash to spend over $2000 from our flex account last year on over the counter meds, etc. so we wouldn't lose it.  Six out of those seven bills were incurred during the last plan year, which means we had to pay them out of pocket.  They totalled almost $1000.  Needless to say, I've been shopping around for a private practice, which apparently doesn't exist here.  Anyway, on to my story of today.

I noticed a while back that a new walk-in place had opened not far from my apartment, but I never got a chance to drop in until today.  When I walked into the reception area, I thought it was funny that instead of a waiting room, there were three round tables, each with six chairs, and a reception desk with a very perky 14 year old girl behind it.  (I'm sure she was over 14, but I'd need to check her ID to prove it.)  She very enthusiastically asked if she could help me, to which I responded, "I don't know.  What do you do here?"  "Oh, we are a medical marijuana distribution clinic."  Huge smile.  Great customer service.  "A what?"  "Medical marijuana.  Do you need some help?" 

I see now that this is where I should have just said no (duh) and walked out, but I hesitated, and a giggle formed in my throat.  It was just long enough for her to engage me in conversation that, looking back, was ridiculous, and probably made me look like I wanted pot, but was too embarrassed to admit it.  By the time I got out of there, I was shocked and a little shaken.  It was definitely not how I was expecting to spend my afternoon. 

I drove home, still a little flustered, parked my mom's car, and went up to apartment.  Flash forward a few hours.  We are running low on food (and dish soap, and bread, and mayo...), so I called in a to-go order at my husband's restaurant.  When I went outside to pick it up, my mom's car was not parked in my spot.  I stood there like a stooge, completely dumbfounded.  They had towed my mom's car right out of my parking space!  The more I thought it over, the less sense it made.  They wouldn't tow it because she has my parking permit on her mirror.  Oh God, please tell me it wasn't stolen!!  How was I going to tell my mom that her car, her one paid off, decent possession, had been stolen right out from under us???

I staggered up the stairs, opened the door, and I must have looked like I was in shock because Mom asked if I was feeling OK.  "Um, no.  Did I park your car back in my spot?"  "I don't know.  I didn't look when you got home.  Why?"  "Well, I'm pretty sure I did, but it's gone."  I figured I'd better go back out just to see if I was losing my mind.  When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I scanned through the cars in the lot.  Wait.  What?  Is that?  No.  Couldn't be.  Did I really do that?  I slowly walked over to the car parked two spaces down from mine...  Crap.  I did.  I had parked it in the wrong spot!  I got in and started backing out just as my mom came down the stairs, spied my position, grinned and mouthed "oops!" in my direction.  I'm not sure what happened, but I'm blaming it on a contact high from the medicinal marijuana clinic!!!  (Do my clothes smell funny?  I'm hungry!)

15 Reasons I Won't Miss Apartment Living #10

As you enter our apartment complex, there is a big banner that hangs on building A stating "Luxury living at affordable prices."  Every time I see it, I can't help but snort.  I guess that depends on what you consider to be "luxury" and "affordable."  The fact that there is a tiny peanut shaped pool doesn't make it luxury.  Nor does the little putting green next to it, or the playground off to the west. 

On the other hand, the fact that our rent is more than our mortgage payment, combined with a second, on our last house doesn't scream affordability to me.  We pay over $1000 a month for 1300 square feet of living space.  For six people.  I know compared to third world countries this would be a mansion, and we should be happy to have a roof and all that, and we are, but for what we are paying, this place should offer amenities like free baby poop removal and a weekly massage...  Now that's luxury!

15 Reasons I Won't Miss Apartment Living #11

As a mother with four young children, I spend my day yelling cautions at the kids.  Things like: "Don't touch the stove!" or "The wild bunnies don't like to be chased!"  But the one thing that rings true around here is this: "Don't run out into the parking lot because people drive too fast and you'll get run over!"  Our parking lot is a big loop, and people will drive through here like it's the Indy 500.  If a kid, or even an adult was to step out from behind a vehicle, they could easily be run over at top speed.  I can't wait to live on a quiet little street near the edge of the world where we can go outside and not immediately fear for our lives.

Eleven days and counting...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


15 Reasons I Won't Miss Apartment Living #12

At the conference I just went to, one of the speakers was talking about building up your strengths.  He said that, when asked what their biggest strength is, a majority of people will say they are "a people person."  I am here to tell you that I am not a people person.  I'm good at dealing with people in a retail setting, and can be in social situations, but I really dislike being around people all the time.  With that said, I am working on making more of an effort to build relationships. 

About three weeks ago, we got new neighbors downstairs.  Any time I go out and they are on their patio I make it a point to say hello.  And every time I do, they look at me like I'm crazy and ignore me.  Needless to say, I finally stopped.  I will not miss having rude neighbors who live ten feet from me.  In our house, if the neighbors don't want to say hello, I will be fine with it because we won't be sharing a dwelling.  I will go inside, sit in my theater, or my jacuzzi tub, or on my deck and think about them, back in their box, angry about still living in an apartment.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


15 Reasons I Won't Miss Apartment Living #13

Do you know what I miss the most?  My books. Some people have a few books. Some even have several books.  I, however, have a library.  Before I had a brood, I was a bookstore manager, and I took FULL advantage of my employee discount.  The downside of this is that we haven't lived anywhere in the last four years that was big enough to actually display my books.  When we move into the new house, they will have been moved four times, but never unpacked.  Apartments seem to have just enough space for the people and the essentials, and if you have anything extra (clothes, for example), you're SOL, as my mom would say. 

Don't get me wrong.  We do have a storage area (a closet) on our deck.  It has just enough square footage to house my boxed-up library.  That's why, if you look around inside, you'll see stuff stacked, crammed, hidden in any tiny available space.  It probably wouldn't be an issue if we had enough cupboards.  Or counter space.  Or another closet.  A garage maybe?

In celebration of finally being able to loose the library in the new house, I'm buying new shelves.  Take that, apartment, and shove it in your tiny little storage closet!

Monday, April 19, 2010


15 Reasons I Won't Miss Apartment Living #14

Today I'd like to discuss with you the bane of my existence with four kids in the house. Of course I mean cheap carpeting. In every apartment I have ever lived in, there has been cheap carpet in a neutral color. Neutral translates to "everything you even think about dropping or spilling is going to leave an irremovable stain because this carpet is so light in color." I'm pretty sure this is how apartments make their money. After you've had the carpets cleaned, to no avail, they get to keep a large chunk of your security deposit.

When my oldest son was 2, we moved into a new, cozy, luxury apartment. I'm not exaggerating when I say it had white carpet. Not off-white. Not eggshell or tan. W.H.I.T.E. I don't know who's idea that was, but I hope they got fired because on the morning of the second day we lived there, my precious baby smashed an entire tube of shiny maroon lipstick into the carpet. Did I mention it was white? If he had been four inches to the right, it would have gone on the linoleum floor in the bathroom. But no. Cheap white carpet. It took almost an entire can of Spot Shot (which I love and fully endorse!), but the lipstick came out! That's right. All of the lipstick came out of the cheap white carpet. Sadly, the orange juice he spilled while I was cleaning up the lipstick did not... I was beaten by a cup of orange juice on day two.

What it comes down to now is that I know that no matter where we rent, they will be keeping part of my deposit for carpet damage. I suppose with four kids I will be lucky if they don't have to replace the entire 1300 square feet of carpet.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

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15 Reasons I Won't Miss Apartment Living: #15

As most of you know, we are buying a house. With only 15 days until our closing date, I thought I would let you in on just a few of the reasons I am sooo excited about moving. (Because moving sucks, and I normally don't like it.)

Reason number 15 is this: We live on the 2nd floor, so our apartment is always warm. In case you didn't know, heat rises. The weather here the last few weeks has been surprisingly pleasant, so I have been opening the sliding door to let the nice, fresh air in. (The bedroom windows are too low to open for fear my kids would fall out.) The open door provides wonderful relief from the stifling air until the downstairs neighbors either a) go out on their patio directly below my open door to barbecue, or b) go out on their patio directly below my open door to smoke. In either case, the smoke wafts directly up and gets sucked into my living room. It's at this point that I have to choose between dying from smoke inhalation, or dying from heat stroke. Up to now I've chosen heat stroke, but who knows what tomorrow may bring.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


A Tweet, Some Cigarettes, and a LOT of High Heels!

I'm having trouble coming up with the words to tell you about the last two days. Looking back, it goes back even farther, so I guess I will start there. One day last week, Sheila Walsh and Mary Graham both tweeted about looking forward to their first stop on the 2010 Women of Faith tour in Billings, Montana. Now, who's ever heard of Billings, Montana?? Me. Because I live there. Last month I would have been excited because I planned on going. I had inadvertantly made two car payments in February and therefore didn't have one due until April, so I was going to use that extra money to buy my ticket for WoF. But then we found a house, and needed ernest money, and inspections, and all the rest that goes with buying a home, so I set the conference aside in my mind, and moved on to being excited about the house. But those tweets made me wish I could be there. Knowing I couldn't afford it, I tweeted back that I wanted to go, but didn't have the money. I also assured them that I would be praying for Sheila, Mary, and the 5000 women expected to attend. Within minutes, God showed me the hearts of two very giving women. I received a direct message, not only from Sheila Walsh, but another from Mary Graham asking if I would attend if they were to give me a ticket. I was overwhelmed at the thought that these ladies would make an offer to me, a complete stranger, just like that. So I took a minute to get myself in check and replied to both ladies that I would LOVE to go. Then they sweetened the deal by adding a second free ticket!

This deal excited me for roughly five seconds. That's how long it took for me to realize that I haven't formed any real friendships here. My family has disowned me. And now I had this amazing opportunity, but no one to share it with. I'm pretty sure this was God's first step in showing me the direction I need to start moving my life. I'm great on Twitter, or facebook, or MSN Messenger, but I am NOT a people person face-to-face. I long to be outgoing, but feel much more comfortable as a hermit. So, I did what I knew to do, and posted a new status on facebook. "I have an extra ticket to the Women of Faith event in Billings this weekend. Let me know if you'd like to join me." And then I waited. And waited. And with no response, I moved on to playing Mahjongg Dimensions to take my mind off the fact that I have no female friends.

Now, I'm a night owl. I tend to sleep between 2am and 7am. Aunt Ronda, however, isn't normally up as late, so it took me by surprise when she responded to my fb post in the wee hours of the morning. She said she had planned on going, but since she hasn't been working was afraid they couldn't afford it. When I assured her that the ticket was free and she could stay with us, she agreed to come. That's when God's plan started coming together for us. What I didn't know was that she had been in bed for a few hours when she suddenly woke up. She tried for over an hour to go back to sleep, but with no luck, she decided to check in on facebook. That's when she saw my staus update and responded. After talking to me that night, she went back to bed and immediately fell asleep.

You have to understand that God had plans to make serious strides in Ronda's confidence with this conference. The first challenge he put in front of her was driving the 229 miles from Butte to Billings. Ronda is terrified of driving alone, but God wanted her to be here, so he gave her the courage to get started and keep going, and and let her pass before sending white-out snowfall and extremely high winds in her wake. She arrived safely in Billings, and her self-esteem was boosted.

Friday morning, we made our way to the Metra, parked (a fair distance away), and headed in to pick up our tickets. The first snag was that no one had our tickets. One person had at least heard of me, and told the frazzled ticket lady to please give me "two good seats in a floor section." Boy, this lady did just that. When we found our seats, the were on the end of an aisle, on the floor, even with the Porch Pals chairs next to the stage! We were sitting six feet from the stage with a great view of all the ladies of Women of Faith! (You can bet I tweeted my little heart out through both days.) As we listened, we heard messages of trust, building up our individual gifts, love, loss, pain, hope, desperation, and God's countless blessings. It was an emotional rollercoaster, but we were more than happy for the ride.

This is how close we were to the ladies as we rocked out to Nicole C. Mullen!

This same day, Ronda was waiting to hear about a job she interviewed for, but halfway through the day, she leaned over and whispered to me, "I'm not going to get the job because God wants me to step out of my comfort zone and make real connections with people. In my home. I don't do that." She could feel through these messages that God was telling her He had bigger plans for her life than the job she wanted.
Saturday started out much the same. We stood in line for 30 minutes to get coffee, squealed over our wonderful seats, readied the tissues (cause it was a serious cryfest. Next year they should just call it CryFest 2011.), and opened ourselves to the wonders of God. It was during her first smoke break of the day that God whispered to Ronda that if she would give up smoking, she could afford to sponsor a World Vision child. He then led her to the table where the older kids, the ones about to be too old for sponsorship, were located, placed a picture in her hand that resembled a little boy she knew in real life, and said, "This is the life you will save by saving your own life." Without hesitation, she filled out the card and never looked back.
During the lunch break, I was sure she had lost it when she stood up quickly and needed to get past me. "I need to take my cigarettes to the World Vision table. I was going to finish the pack, but I can't. I need to start now." But God is funny. We never made it to the table. In fact, we only made it about four feet from our seats when God placed a World Vision worker directly in Ronda's path. She pulled out her pack and handed them to the startled worker while quickly explaining the significance to her. I'm not dramaticising at all when I tell you that tears welled up in that woman's eyes as she hugged Ronda and thanked her for being such a faithful servant.

Sheila Walsh was kind enough to have a picture with me!

While I was so proud of Ronda and all God was doing in her, I also felt a little disappointed. I really thought that the way the story went down meant that I was meant to be there so God could do something huge for me. I will admit it. My thoughts were selfish because when it comes to many facets of my life, I'm lost. I feel helpless, hopeless, and stunted. I didn't realize until Saturday's last session was almost over that God was working in me as well. But God knows me, and He knows that I would not have responded well if He'd acted in me as He did in Ronda. My tweaking was more subtle. It was in learning that I didn't have to keep trying to fix myself because God didn't accidentally make me who I am. In finding out I have gifts, but I need to nurture them instead of trying to grow new gifts that will benefit all the world. In the smiles, kindness, and hugs I received in person from Sheila Walsh and Mary Graham who were genuinely pleased that I could attend. God showed me the little cracks in my heart that I've tried over and again to cover with steel, that they are still there, and only He can fill them.

In short (ha!), our two days with the Women of Faith were miraculous, heartbreaking, healing, surreal (Did Sheila just say my name on stage? Yep. She sure did!), and potentially the most eye opening time of our lives, delivered on high heeled shoes and sparkled up by disco balls while surrounded by 5000 women in this little, unheard of town I call home.

These were the lights and disco balls over the WoF stage.