Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Holiday Spirit

About a week or so after the paranormal investigation at our home, things began slowly getting back to normal.  The spirits settled down, the kids bought into my whole "it was all just for fun" story, and I started sleeping with the TV and the lights off again.  Only every once in a while do I get creeped out now.

Oddly enough, the one part of the house that still really bothers me is the bathroom.  (And not  just because it's disgusting due to the fact that I live with five boys.)  For some reason, when I walk into the bathroom at night and all the lights are off and it's pitch black, it terrifies me.  I start scrambling in the dark to flip the light switch on, which of course makes it that much harder for me to find.  My heart starts pounding so hard, you'd think I was locked in the basement with our grumpy man ghost and the incinerator.  But the bathroom?  The investigators didn't find anything in the bathroom. Then again, they didn't really investigate in there, either.

The other night, I was making one of several middle of the night pee runs (my bladder is seriously ridiculous), and I was too tired to even bother to turn the bathroom light on.  I was so out of it that when I first heard the sigh/moan of a child, I thought one of my kids was outside the bathroom door, trying to get my attention.  It was very loud, unmistakable, and distinct.  It was a little "mmmm" like they wanted my attention, but were too tired to speak.  But.  My kids weren't home.  And the bathroom door wasn't closed.  And the noise wasn't coming from outside it.  It was coming from inside the bathroom, in the corner.  I jumped up so fast, I'm surprised I didn't get pee on myself.  (TMI, I know...but it adds to the humor of the situation.)  I bolted out of the bathroom, almost crashing head first into the wall at the end of the hallway.  I raced into the much-brighter-than-the-bathroom kitchen to wash my hands, then hurried back to my bedroom, buried myself under the covers, and cuddled up next to my husband.

He woke up just long enough to ask me what was wrong.  I told him I'd heard a noise in the bathroom.  He jumped up, still half asleep, ready for battle.  I tried to explain to him that there wasn't anyone "real" in the bathroom, and that I didn't need him to go running in there like a bat out of hell to protect me.  I'm pretty sure the only part he heard was "you don't have to go in there," and he was back asleep.  And I was terrified.  I never fell back to sleep after that.

Last night, while we were sitting on the couch catching up on our DVR'd shows for the week, I told my husband about what had happened in the bathroom the night before.  Before he could respond, the door to an antique Army ammo crate we use as a display piece came unlatched and flying open.  Not creaking open, not swinging open, but bursting open.  With force.  I turned to my husband, who was staring in disbelief.  "You see?!"  I squealed.  It's funny how, even after all the things that have happened, I still feel like people think I'm crazy when I talk about our house being haunted.  Even my husband.  "Did you see that?!"  I asked again.  He let out a long sigh and shook his head.  "Yep.  I saw it."  Validation.  I shouldn't need it, but I do.

I'm not sure what's caused the surge in "activity" over the past few days or how long it's going to last, but I don't know if my nerves can take it.  Maybe it's because I rearranged the furniture and got out the Christmas decorations.  Or maybe it's the time of year.  This is going to be our first Christmas in the house, so I don't really know what to expect from our "housemates."  Maybe the spirits are just getting into the holiday spirit.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Breakdown of a Haunting

It dawns on me, with as much talking and writing as I've done about the results of our paranormal investigation, that the one place I never talked about it was here, on the site designated for posts and stories about the house.  Ummmm.....sorry about that!  Rather that rewrite or copy and paste all the stories from the websites on which they were posted, I will provide you with a comprehensive list of links so that you can find everything about everything all in one place.

But first.......the verdict.  After a wild and crazy and insanely spooky night, three teams of paranormal investigators and two local radio personalities all came to the same conclusion, the one I came to after less than a week of living in my country castle: MY HOUSE IS HAUNTED.  Not just haunted, but EXTREMELY haunted.  We don't just have a ghost, we have several spirits occupying multiple rooms in our house.  The master bedroom, the basement....even our yard is haunted!  Not only are the ghosts "intelligent" and able to communicate with the living by responding to questions asked and completing simple tasks (whistling, dropping things, etc.), but they communicate with each other, which, by all accounts, is extremely rare.

So, without further ado, here is the breakdown of our haunting, complete with photos and audio files: (Disclaimer- Stop reading now if you're home alone and get spooked easily!)

Here is my original blog post for Army Wife Network's Loving A Soldier blog, where I explain why I think our house is haunted, and what led to us being chosen for 97.5 FM's fourth annual paranormal investigation: Paranormal Activity: Army Edition.

After an absolutely insane night during the investigation, and a pretty spooky few days that followed, I wrote about what happened that night.  Here is my personal take on the investigation after it was over, but before we got the "official findings" from the investigators: Others.

Even though I knew our house was haunted, I was absolutely not prepared for what the investigators found during their review of all of the information gathered during the "ghost hunt."  Read about it here: Paranormal Activity: Army Edition- The Conclusion.

97.5's Josh Strickland wrote about the experience as well.  Read his take on it here: Paranormal Investigation: The Shocking Conclusion.

One of the paranormal investigation teams, Marter Paranormal, posted their findings on their website.  See what they had to say here: Marter Paranormal: Grand Ledge Residential.

Are you freaked out yet?  Ready to hear the craziest part of all?  We have ZERO plans to move.  We love our house, ghosts and all.  I even find myself talking to them sometimes when I'm home alone.  We don't feel threatened, and according to all of the "experts," we're in no danger.  So, for now, we're staying put.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Little Ghost Boy Caught on Film?!

These photos were taken by investigators during our paranormal investigation, just seconds apart.  In the first photo, you see a very distinct mist surrounding the tire swing.  In the second photo, it's completely gone.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Paranormal Investigation

Last week I got an early morning random text from one of my very best friends.

Her: "Please tell me that you tried to get your house on 97.5 for their paranormal investigation!!!  Call Strickland right now, last chance to nominate your house!!!"

My immediate response: "Noooooooo!!  I don't want to make 'them' mad!!"

But then I thought about it.  I've listened to the Paranormal Investigation every year.  And truth be told, the thought crossed my mind that I should submit my house this year as soon as I realized that it's haunted.  BUT.....I feel like if we do have a ghost (or multiple ghosts), we're currently co-existing peacefully.  I really don't want to disturb that peace.  But.....how freakin' cool would it be to be "The Paranormal Investigation House"?!

I struggled with my buts (insert joke here, then notice that I only used one "t" in the word but), and then gave in to my adventurous side.  On the last day, at the last minute, I submitted our house for consideration.

AND WE WON.  Won?  I don't know if that's the right word.  I guess we'll see.  I'm really excited at the thought of having the house researched and investigated.  But I'm also really, really nervous.  Because I REALLY don't want to make "them" mad.

The ideal result of the investigation would be to find out that there isn't a "them" at all.  I realize that would make for a disappointing story, but I would be thrilled to have an official "ghost free" stamp on our house.  My second choice?  To have my thoughts confirmed....that there are "others" here, but they're not dangerous.  To continue in our peaceful coexistence, with maybe a better understanding of each other.

But what if something goes wrong?  What if we find out that what we're living with is something that's not safe to live with?  Or what if we upset them, and what was once a peaceful coexistence becomes very unpeaceful?

Only time will tell.  In the mean time, I'd appreciate any kind thoughts, prayers, etc.  And I'll keep you all posted on when/where you can hear all about our Paranormal Investigation!

Visit the 97.5 webpage for more info:   97.5 FM Paranormal Investigation

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Hindsight is 20/20.  Looking back, it all makes sense now.  Looking back, the warning signs were there.  But sometimes things happen that are so shocking, so unexpected, they are simply unpredictable.

Take my day today, for example.  It started out great.  I slept in, watched some TV, made plans for the errands, housework, and back-to-school stuff I wanted to get done, talked to The Hubs, even took a nap.  (Don’t judge me….it’s been a LONG week.)  And then it started….

I was right in the middle of a conversation with The Hubs about my upcoming trip to Texas when I heard a noise that stopped me mid-sentence.  A high-pitched, squeaky noise.  A high-pitched, squeaky, mouse-like noise.  And I hate rodents.  HATE RODENTS.  I cope better with the increasing possibility that my house is haunted than I do with the fact that living in the country means that, from time to time, we’re going to get “critters.”  I had a mini-freakout, then sat, silently, listening for it to happen again.  About two minutes later, it did.  This time, though, it was louder.  And it sounded like it was coming from outside, which I was okay with.  I like nature.  I just don’t like it in my house.

Reassured, I forgot all about the squeaky thing after my nap.  I got up, went into the kitchen, and was making myself a sandwich when my seven year old Pomeranian mix, Sammy, came flying around the corner, almost as if he was chasing something.  I watched in horror as he cornered whatever “it” was underneath the bench in the foyer.  I was paralyzed with fear.

I tried to convince myself it was just a bug.  But the crazier my dogs went, the more certain I was that I wouldn’t be getting off that easily.  I didn’t know what to do.  When I say I hate rodents, what I really mean is that I’m absolutely terrified of them.  So I came up with a plan, albeit not a very good one.  My in-laws were coming over later, so I would keep an eye on that corner of the house until they arrived, then have my father-in-law investigate.

Unfortunately, my adult ADD foiled those plans.  About ten minutes after the dogs forgot about the creature hiding in the corner, I forgot too.  It was the last thing on my mind when I decided, at 2:00 in the afternoon, that it was finally time to take a shower.  I grabbed a towel, headed into the bathroom, flipped on the light, and then……and then I screamed, probably louder than I’ve ever screamed in my entire life.  There was something in the toilet.  Something alive.  Something treading water.  I didn’t stay long enough to figure out what it was.

I slammed down the toilet lid in hopes that “it” wouldn’t be able to escape, closed the bathroom door, shoved my towel into the crack underneath the door, then pushed a chair against the door for good measure.  By the time I picked up my phone, I was borderline hysterical.  So I did what any hysterical girl would do.  I called my husband.  Who was 1,200 miles away.

“There’s something swimming in the toilet!” I screamed, before he could even say “hello.”

“One more time?” He asked, caught off guard and trying to stifle a laugh.

“There is something alive, swimming in our toilet!” I screamed again.  “The squeaking, the thing in the foyer….whatever that was, it’s now in the toilet.  And it’s alive.  It’s treading water!  I think it’s an otter.”  I was no longer borderline hysterical.  My hysteria was full-blown.

“What would you like me to do about it?” The hubs asked in that incredibly rational way that drives me crazy when I’m being completely irrational.

“Get it out!!” I yelled.  Obviously.  And therein laid the problem.  As much as my husband would have loved to be my toilet-monster slaying hero, he couldn’t.  He’s stuck in Texas and I’m stuck at home, fending for myself.  That was the real reason for the frustrated tears rolling down my cheeks.  Well, that and the baby alligator that had taken up residency in my bathroom.

I’m used to taking care of everything myself.  The kids, the house, the pets, me.  I manage it all on my own when The Hubs is away, which is most of the time.  But it’s a very fragile balancing act.  One so fragile that when the unpredictable happens, it doesn’t just tip the scales, it causes them (and me) to come unhinged completely.  And I’m reminded, yet again, how much this long distance nonsense sucks.

But because I had no other choice, I put on my big girl panties, dried my tears, and dealt with the problem myself.  Which did not, I repeat, NOT, involve me getting rid of “it” on my own.  I did what any hysterical girl with an absent husband would do….I called my dad.

For inquiring minds….it was a chipmunk.  Seriously?!  Who finds a chipmunk swimming in their toilet?!  Only me….

Saturday, September 1, 2012


They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  So I'll keep my words short.  I woke up this morning and found this at the end of my bed.  All in all, there were six footprints, one right and five left.  They ended right at the very edge of my bed, facing the bed, as if whoever they belong to climbed into my bed.  

I am meticulous about my house, if they'd been there before I went to bed, I would have seen them.  Even still, before I mopped them up, my kids and I (who are the only ones who've been in the house in the past few days) all got our feet wet in the soapy water to compare footprints.  These belonged to none of us.

I guess I always sort of knew we weren't alone in the house.  Well....here's my proof!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


It's been a while since I've posted anything about the goings-on in the new house, but not because there haven't been any.  For one thing, I've been INCREDIBLY busy with the release of my first book (that still feels so weird to say, by the way.)  For another thing, I've gotten comfortable in my new home over the past three months, despite its....quirks.  So the things that bothered me in the beginning don't really scare me so much anymore.

But today I was reminded just how creepy my house can be, and I started thinking about all the things that have been happening lately that I've been turning a blind eye to (or trying to, at least), and now I'm thoroughly creeped out.  So, let's recap:

Things That Go Bark In The Night:
My dogs, who weight a total of 25 pounds between the two of them, are pretty quiet by nature.  They bark when someone comes to the door, but that's about it.  We live on a very busy road, a highway in fact, so they're used to 24/7 noise.  That's why I was sure someone was here when, about a month ago, my Sammy Dog started barking ferociously at the back door in the middle of the night.  It woke me up out of a dead sleep, and my adrenaline was already pumping.  It was 3:00 in the morning.  What. The. Hell.  I grabbed my phone and headed to the back door, where I looked out the window and saw....nothing.  There was nobody there.  Still, Sammy kept barking.  What's more, he was standing so that he could see out the window that looks over the porch, and appeared to be looking right at something, or someone.  But there was NOTHING there.  I looked out all the windows, and even did the whole "are you kidding me, how stupid are you?!" thing and opened the door and went outside to investigate.  There was nothing.  Nobody.

After about five minutes, Sammy calmed down.  So I went back to sleep.  Less than a half hour later, it happened a second time.  After the third time, I gave up any hope of actually sleeping, and turned on the TV.  In total, Sammy started barking at the back door five separate times that night, and the same thing has happened on a handful of occasions since.

Sophie, our puppy, likes to sleep in bed with me.  Demands it, actually.  Probably about once a week, usually right around 3am, she gets up, goes to the edge of the bed, stares out the bedroom door, and barks. And barks.  And won't stop unless I get up and turn the lights on.  Once I've confirmed, for my own peace of mind, that there's nothing there, she stops.  But as soon as the lights go off again, she starts barking again.  No rhyme or reason to it whatsoever, it happens so frequently that it doesn't even freak me out anymore.  I think I've accepted that there probably is "something" there, and I've made my peace with it.

One of the very first "Oh my God, what is going on in this house?!" things that happened, which I've talked about before, was the smoke detectors going off for no reason, even after I replaced all the batteries.  That hasn't stopped.  Usually in the middle of the night, but sometimes in the middle of the day, the smoke detectors in the main hall and in my bedroom start going off for no reason.  Not while I'm cooking (which would be understandable), not when there are candles burning, just whenever.  One day, I got home from work and they were both going off.  Who knows how long my poor dogs had been listening to that horrible screeching.

It got so bad, I made my landlord replace one of the smoke detectors, the one that was going off on an almost daily basis.  He replaced it last week, and I haven't had an issue since.  The one in my room, however....well....we'll get to that in a minute.

Batsh!t Crazy:
Last week, I came home from work to what I thought was doggie doo on the living room floor.  Not the best way to start an evening, but not totally unexpected, as I'd just started leaving Sammy out of his crate during the day a couple of days prior.  I went and grabbed a plastic bag, the disinfectant spray, and some paper towel.  It wasn't until I bent down to clean the mess that I realized it wasn't doggie doo at all.  It was A DEAD BAT.  Those of you who know me know that I do NOT deal well with rodents of any kind.  They terrify me.  But I'd never before encountered a bat.  A winged rodent is pretty much the worst thing I can think of, dead or alive.  I screamed, grabbed both of the dogs, and ran outside.  I sat in my car, bawling my eyes out, with the windows rolled up and the doors locked, until my father-in-law showed up and removed the bat from the house.  

I've never in my life had such an intense physical reaction to fear like that.  I was literally paralyzed with fear.  It was awful.  The immediate concern, of course, was rabies.  I took the bat to animal control the next morning as soon as they opened, and had the bat tested.  It was negative.  So that was a HUGE relief.  But then I started thinking.  How was there a dead bat in the middle of my living room?  According to my father-in-law, who got the only up close and personal look, there was no apparent trauma to the bat.  It hadn't been mauled by the dog, (which was my first thought), and the theory that it had flown into the ceiling fan was shaky at best....there was no blood, no injury, no nothing.  It was just dead.  In the middle of my living room.  Weird.

So here's why I'm telling you all of this: Today, the weirdest, most frightening thing to date happened.  Something that has me rethinking my whole "sure, we have ghosts, but they seem to be nice ghosts" stance.  I was home alone, in the bathroom getting ready for the day, when Sammy, who'd been sleeping out in the main hall, came running towards the bathroom.  Sophie, of course, followed him.  Right as they reached the door, a smoke detector started going off.  Sammy jumped up on my legs, so I picked him up.  He was shaking like a leaf.  Not a fan of physical affection in his old age, the way he buried his face into my hair and held on to me for dear life was quite out of character.  I scooped Sophie up in my other arm and went to investigate.  By the time I reached the part of the house the noise was coming from, it had stopped.  Still, Sammy wouldn't let me put him down.  When I tried, he started clawing and scrambling and dug deep gouges into my chest and neck.  Did I mention he was still shaking?

I headed back to the bathroom, where I brushed my teeth with one hand, held Sammy with the other, and kept reassuring Sophie, who was at my feet, that everything was okay.  After about two minutes, the smoke detector started going off again, causing Sammy to sink his claws into me yet again.  I set him down and went to investigate.  It was the smoke detector in my room.  I climbed up on a chair, took it off the wall, and disconnected the battery.  As soon as I climbed back down, Sammy was in my arms again, still shaking.  He made me carry him around with me for the next hour.  He's just now starting to calm down.

My husband suggested that he was just scared of the noise, which would most certainly be understandable.  Those detectors emit a horrible noise, one that I'm sure hurts the dogs' ears more than it hurts mine.  But here's the thing....they've heard it before.  Many times.  And while they don't like it, it's never been cause for either of them to completely freak out like that.  Not only that, but they came running for shelter BEFORE the smoke detector even started going off.  Today was too much for me to just "brush it off" like I've done in the past.

Today really made me think.  All along, I've had myself convinced that if there is someone or something in our house, it's friendly.  It leaves us alone, we leave it alone.  No sage burning, or ouji boards, or paranormal investigators.  Just peaceful coexistence.  But now I wonder.....what if this "thing" isn't as harmless as I've always imagined it to be?  What if this is just the beginning?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Exhibit C: Bells and Whistles

As if the creepy cat and creepy cable guy weren't enough to keep me up at night, there have been other occurances around the C Family Estate that are absolutely unexplainable.  (I make this claim in spite of all the possible "explanations" I've been given for the things that have happened.)

The same night I found the front door unlocked and the back porch light burned out, something else happened....probably the scariest thing to happen in our new house to date.  It was my third night in the house, my first night with the boys there, and as I was upstairs with them helping them get ready for bed, the smoke detector in the foyer outside their rooms started going off.  Figuring it was the battery, I snatched it off the wall and yanked the battery out.  I wasn't cooking, there were no candles burning, and the other two smoke detectors within a five foot vicinity didn't go off, so I wasn't worried.  I carried the smoke detector downstairs with me and set it on the bench in the main hall, so I wouldn't forget that the battery needed to be replaced. 

A little while after my house-wide search for the psycho-killer cable guy, just before I went to bed, I went into the kitchen  to get a glass of ice water.  I set my glass on the stove, steadying it with my left hand, as I opened the refrigerator door with my right hand.  When I reached into the freezer to get a handful of ice, an electric shock surged up my hand and arm that was touching the stove.  I screamed, knocking the glass of water to the ground.  Man, did it hurt!  I checked to make sure none of the stove burners were on.  They weren't.  I made a mental note to call my landlord first thing in the morning.

Shaken up, and with my arm still aching, I went to bed.  I tossed and turned until about 3 am, when the smoke detector in the main hall started going off.  "Are you kidding me?!"  I grumbled as I jumped out of bed, stumbled my way to the front closet, pulled out the step ladder, and climbed up on it with my eyes only half open.  I ripped the detector off the wall, removed the battery, and was too tired to give much thought as to why two different smoke detectors would go off on the same night.

Those thoughts didn't begin until around 6 am, when a third smoke detector, the one in my room, started going off.  I shut it off before it woke the boys, and did another quick check of the house to make sure nothing was burning anywhere and there was no smoke coming from anything.

It's been argued that the landlord probably put all the batteries in at the same time, so of course they would die within a few hours of each other.  I don't believe that.  Especially since they were all different brands.  I verified with my landlord that the detectors are solely smoke detectors, not combination carbon monoxide/raydon detectors.  The only explanation is this.....our house is haunted.  We have a ghost.  I like to call him "Jokey the Ghost", since he thinks he's so funny.

The next night, as I was doing the dishes, I heard someone whistling in the back yard.  I turned off all the lights so I could see better out the window, and spent a good fifteen minutes on my hands and knees peering out the bottom of the big picture window, looking for the culprit behind the very loud, very deliberate, very unmistakable whistling.  I saw nothing. 

I told my husband about it.  I think he thought I was crazy.  Until the following night when I was in the bathroom, right around the same time, and heard it again.  The exact same sound.  I freaked.  Then I thought about the stop light just a couple houses down, the one that goes from a four way stop to a blinking yellow/red light at right about the same time I keep hearing the whistling every night.  I considered the fact that it might be some sort of audible alert that the light is about to change for the night.  But then I decided that was just silly and way too logical.  It was definitely something else....but was it Jokey the Ghost, or the Creepy Cable Guy with the pic axe??  That's the real question.....

(P.S. Try as they might, neither my landlord nor his maintenance guy can get the stove to "shock" them like it did me, even though it's happened to me a few times since, and happened to both of the boys over the weekend....I guess Jokey's a little shy when it comes to strangers.)

Exhibit B: The Creepy Cable Guy

(More evidence that my creepy house is haunted, and well....just creepy.)

The day after I moved in, the DirecTV guy arrived promptly (PROMPTLY!!) for his noon appointment to install a satellite dish and four receivers.  He showed up not in a big, white DirecTV van like I was expecting, but a 20+ year old brown van with a bashed in headlight and a spare tire on one of the rear wheels. 

Let me start by saying that I am not in the least bit afraid of "weirdos".  If you grew up in the neighborhood I grew up in, you'd understand why.  I'm generally trusting and unless I get a really weird vibe, I don't let a person's appearance dictate my opinion of them.  But this guy....this guy was effin' creepy!!!

Have you ever seen photographs of the freak that kidnapped Elizabeth Smart?  He looked JUST like him.  No joke, exactly like him.  He had scraggly, chin length hair, a dirt-smudged, leathery face, and hands and fingernails that were absolutely filthy.  His eyes were actually a pretty color, a very clear, pale blue.  But they seemed to look through me rather than at me, and there was definitely something not right behind them. 

Regardless, he was there to do a job and I was desperate to have my DirecTV installed before the new episode of Army Wives that night, so I invited him into my home with a smile, even though I felt very uneasy doing it.

I was incredibly thankful when, shortly after he arrived, my in-laws dropped by.  Without me saying a word, my mother-in-law whispered, "Oh my gosh, he looks like a serial killer!"  I nodded, trying to laugh it off.  My landlord, who came over to fix the shower, brought his 4-year-old little girl with him.  I kept her close to me while her dad worked, as I didn't want her winding up alone with the creepy guy.

But after my in-laws were done chit-chatting and tinkering, and after my landlord was done repairing and his daughter was done playing, it was just me and the creepy guy once again.  For the next eight hours.

EIGHT HOURS.  That's how long it took him to install the satellite dish and receivers.  Before he left, he asked me to give him all tens on his evaluation (yeah right!!!) and gave me his personal cell phone number in case of emergencies.  Satellite dish emergencies??

I watched as he pulled out of the driveway and disappeared into the night, and then locked and relocked every window and door in the house before going to bed.  The next day, my landlord came back over to check on his handy work and remarked, "Man...that cable guy was creepy.  Looked like a stalker or a kidnapper or something."  I laughed and agreed.  All day, I felt him watching me through the giant picture window in the living room.  I closed all the windows and all the blinds, even though I was enjoying the view and the breeze, and hunkered down on the couch with my eyes trained on the back yard, looking for signs of the murderous cable guy lurking among the trees.

I only took the dogs out when I was on the phone with my husband, rushing them both through their "business," which resulted me scrubbing puppy pee off the carpet multiple times that day.  I didn't care.  Puppy Pee vs. Crazed Maniac With A Pic Axe?  I'll take puppy pee every time.  I went about my routine of locking and relocking all the doors and windows before I went to bed.  When I got to the front door, the one we don't use because it sticks, I found it not only unlocked, but slightly open.

That solidified my fears.  I was officially being stalked by the creepy cable guy.  While a more reasonable explanation might have been that one of the boys tried to get the door open and gave up when they realized it really was as difficult as I told them it was, I would hear none of it.  It was him.  I know it.  

With my heart pounding, I grabbed the dogs' leashes to take them outside one last time.  I flipped on the porch light my landlord had just replaced a few weeks earlier.  Nothing happened.  It was burned out.  Freaking out, I turned on the tiny LED flashlight on my phone and took the dogs just to the edge of the driveway, scanning the pitch black woods with eyes that had not yet adjusted to the dark.

After a few minutes, we ran back inside.  I locked the door and stood with my phone in my hand and my mind racing as I calculated my next move.  I slowly, quietly, and very deliberately scoured the entire house for signs of the blue eyed intruder I just knew was hiding somewhere.  I looked in closets, behind doors....everywhere, until there was only one place left to look....the basement. 

My basement is scary during the daytime when you're not going down there for the sole purpose of searching for a serial killer.  So, as you can imagine, I was TERRIFIED as I slowly made my way down the stairs, my son's little league bat firmly in my grip.  Luckily, my basement is one large room and is pretty much empty and wide open, so it didn't take me long to verify that it was unoccupied.

As I hurried back up the stairs, I tried to ignore the small window leading to the crawl space under the addition on the back of the house.  That crawl space is big enough and creepy enough for all kinds of monsters and murderers to hide in.

I went to sleep that night sure that I was going to wake up in some abandoned warehouse in the middle of nowhere.  But the creepy cable dude didn't make his move that night.  I know he will, though.  He's out there somewhere, waiting....watching.  You can laugh if you want, but when I go missing.....it was Daryl from DirecTV.  Remember that.  That is all, my pretties.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Exhibit A: The Creepy Cat

(Yesterday I confessed that I'm pretty sure my new house is haunted, for a number of reasons.  Here is one of them....)


Before I even signed my lease, I met the creepy cat.  My landlord and I were walking around the outside of the house, and he was trying to sell me on renting a house I was only about 99% sure I wanted to live in.  From behind the garage came a gray and white tiger cat with bright green eyes, meowing loudly and staring me down.  “Oh, looks like I’ve already made a friend in the neighborhood,” I said.  “Don’t let him in the house,” the landlord said with a sense of urgency.  I figured at first that it was maybe just because he didn’t like cats….but I could be wrong.

Almost every time I went to the house from that point on, the cat was there.  One of my strangest encounters with Creepy Cat came the first weekend I was there painting, getting ready to move in.  The cat came up on the porch, meowing, begging to be let in.  I locked the screen door and called the kids downstairs.  “Your cat’s here to visit!” I yelled.  Although I have a great amount of apathy towards cats, my boys, especially my youngest, love them.  I was watching them talk to the cat through the screen when the cat suddenly, and seemingly deliberately, went from sitting perfectly still to rolling backwards down the cement porch steps.  When he landed at the bottom, he remained on his back, feet in the air, meowing the most pitiful meow I’ve ever heard.  “Mom, he’s hurt!” my 9-year-old said, reaching up to unlock the screen door.  “No!” I insisted.  “He’s fine.  Go back upstairs.”  I didn’t take my eyes off the cat as the boys made their way back to their rooms.  Did I just witness a stray cat fake an injury to gain sympathy in an attempt to get in my house?  I couldn’t believe it.

After a few minutes, the cat was back up at the top of the porch, meowing away.  “Go away!” I said, looking him dead in his cold, unblinking eyes.  With my mom as my witness, that cat began ramming his head into the screen, trying to force his way into the house.  I slammed the storm door, locking the deadbolt just in case.  What was with this cat?!?!

The cat still came around for a while after that, circling the porch, meowing, but nothing too out of the ordinary.  The only other strange encounter we had was the time I left the house late at night after a day of painting and found him rubbing his face all over the front of my van.  I yelled at him to “Get!” but he was relentless.  I was convinced he was putting a curse on the family vehicle.

I haven’t seen Creepy Cat in a couple weeks.  And that, perhaps, creeps me out more than anything….

Thursday, May 10, 2012

American Horror Story

Had I known I was going to move into a century old farmhouse in the not too distant future, I never would have watched season one of American Horror Story.  But as luck would have it, I didn’t miss an episode.  I spent every Tuesday night glued to the TV, and often went to bed with every light on in the house. 

Try as I might, I cannot escape thoughts of my favorite new show when I walk past the door to my creepy basement full of weird things (including an incinerator), when I hear the antique floorboards creak out of nowhere, when I feel a draft, or when one of the dogs starts barking for no reason.  And I especially can’t control my wildly overactive imagination at night, when just about everything is ten times scarier than usual.

Some might say I’m overreacting, or paranoid, or, well, crazy……but I have what I consider to be some very strong evidence that there is something just not right going on at The C Family Estate.  And despite others’ efforts to dissuade my fears using things like logic and facts, I am now convinced that my house is haunted.  Why, you ask?  Stay tuned...... 

Monday, April 30, 2012

How I Refurbished My Floors For Less Than $100

My refinished staircase.  $5 plus an hour or so of labor.
(Sorry, I don't have a 'before' pic of the stairs.)

Bedroom One "Before"

Bedroom One "After", turned out way better than I thought!
Not bad for $10 worth of paint and an hour or so of work (minus drying time).

Bedroom Two "Before"
(Look at that plywood!  Aaaah!)

Bedroom Two "After", $10ish dollars worth of floor paint later.

The landing before.  Horrible.  Just horrible.

The landing after, my paper bag floor!! ($62 in supplies, and I have leftovers!)

My new house has hardwood floors.  Original, installed in the 1920's hardwood floors.  And they're gorgeous. But they don't go throughout the home.  The addition that was built in the 1960's was built with an unfortunate tile flooring, which has since been covered up by carpet in the living room and sheet laminate in the dining room.  But the kitchen, the "middle room" as I currently call it, the master bedroom, and the long hallway leading to the newly remodeled bathroom all have gorgeous mahogany floors.

The stairs, the upstairs hallway/landing, and the two bedrooms upstairs were all carpeted because, according to my landlord, all of that was part of the addition.  But the more I cleaned, measured, planned, and started getting ready to move in, the more I came to the realization that there was no way the upstairs was an addition.  It had to be part of the original house.  Which meant that underneath all that worn, bleach stained, 20-something year old carpet, there had to be hardwood floors.  And I wanted them.  I wanted them bad.

At first I told myself that "someday" I would tear up all the carpet upstairs.  But I know for a fact that any big projects I don't get done before I move won't ever get done, realistically.  I was already pushing it logistically and financially with the move, and couldn't afford to take on another big project, but still....mahogany floors.  Hundreds and hundreds of square feet of beautiful, eighty year old hardwood flooring that just needed to be freed from underneath the confines of that horrendous carpet.  I was sure all it needed was a little TLC.

But I didn't have time for TLC...I just needed to do what absolutely needed to be done, and get moved.  One day, out of morbid curiosity, I asked my landlord during casual conversation if he would be okay with me tearing up the carpet if there were, in fact, hardwood floors underneath.  (He, at this point, still wasn't convinced that the upstairs was part of the original house.)  He said he didn't care.

That sealed the deal.  What was at first a thought in the back of my mind became an obsession.  The hardwood floors underneath that grimy carpet that was somehow becoming more disgusting by the day were calling to me.  It was like something out of Poe's Telltale Heart.  No matter where I was in the house, or what I was doing, I could hear them, just begging for me to save them.  "Help us.... free us....love us..."

I had to do it.  I started in one of the bedrooms, where the carpet was already starting to peel away from the wall a little.  I pulled it far enough back to see what was underneath.  And what I found was....HARDWOOD FLOORS!!  Sure, they'd need to be cleaned and polished, but I was up for the task. What would that take, a couple of hours?

I pulled more and more of the carpet away from the tack board, ripping up the rotting padding underneath it.   The floors weren't in as good a shape as I'd hoped, lots of splattered and spilled paint, but they weren't horrible.  They were definitely fixable.  When I was done with one bedroom, I moved onto the next.  The floors were in pretty much the same shape, beaten up but repairable.

I spent the next hour or so blindly pulling up carpet and padding, not really paying attention to the floors underneath until I was done.  When I finally did step back to look at my finished product, I was....horrified.  Why, oh why did I tear up the carpet?!  There was a reason it had been put down, and the reason was that the floor underneath them had been abused and beaten beyond recognition.  They had been worn, stained, splattered with paint, and even butchered!  On the landing and in the bigger of the two bedrooms, the hardwood floor had been cut out for some unknown reason and replaced with plywood.  Plywood!  Right in the middle of the landing, in a long, narrow, unhideable strip.

(Update: I have since learned from a previous owner that the original flooring was cut out in places and replaced with plywood when they redid the duct work upstairs.)

I was beside myself.  I had two options.  Recarpet, or refinish the floors completely, neither of which I had the money for.  I scoured the internet and sought opinions.  I thought and thought.  And I finally came up with a plan.  The stairs, which had endured the least amount of abuse, I would sand and refinish.  That couldn't take too long, and wouldn't cost too much if I did it myself.  The landing, I would try a technique called "paperbag flooring" that a Facebook friend had mentioned.  And in the bedrooms, I would paint with wood floor paint, since most of the floor space would be covered with furniture anyway.

COST: I spent less than $100 on supplies....a gallon of Cocoa Brown Wood Floor Paint ($30), a gallon of Elmer's glue ($12), two rolls of brown craft paper ($10), three quarts of water based polyeurathane ($40), and a tin of some sort of stain/polish called Restore-A-Floor ($5).

STAIRS: For the stairs, I skipped the sanding step and went straight to refinishing.  I used Goof Off to remove the larger paint splatters, but left the small ones.  They added character.  I applied two coats of Restore-A-Floor, allowing two days of drying time in between.

BEDROOMS: For the bedrooms, we put up blue tape to protect the trim, and applied two coats of Dutch Boy wood floor paint.  After two coats in each room, I still had about 1/8th of a gallon of paint left that I can use for touch-ups.

PAPER BAG FLOOR: My biggest dilemma was over what to do with the landing, which had a ginormous plywood plank down the center.  A friend suggested "paperbag flooring", which I'd never heard of before.  After a good amount of research, I decided it was my best option.  I ripped brown craft paper into 6-12 inch sections, wadded them into balls, and dipped them into a glue mixture (3 parts water, 1 part Elmer's glue).  The process was easy enough: dunk, squeeze, flatten out on the floor, overlapping the pieces.  But it was very, I repeat, VERY time consuming.  After about five hours, I was to the "let it dry" stage, which is an overnight process.  The following day, I began the process of applying multiple layers of water-based polyeurathane.  I allowed a couple hours between coats, and decided today that I want to add a few more coats for good measure.  I applied coat number five earlier this evening, and will do coats six and seven tomorrow.  It's not perfect, there are a few ripples and you can still see the texture of the floor underneath.  I could have done better prep work to prevent that.  I could have stained the floors once I was done laying the paper.  And I could have sanded the polyeurathane between coats, but I didn't.  I like my floor anyway.  I think it has character.

All in all, the amount of time I spent working on the floors was the hardest part.  Lots of aches and pains, lots of late nights, but totally worth it in the end.  And the fact that I can say I did it all for less than $100 is pretty stinkin' awesome if you ask me.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Well Wishes

Today, I totally let the magnitude of my city girl-ness be known to my landlord.  I've started the process of switching over utilities and all that other fun technical stuff that goes along with moving.  But when I called the city to have the water and sewer account at the new house transferred into my name, the clerk informed me that they don't provide water service to my address.  So I called my landlord.  Our conversation went like this:

Me: "I called the city to switch the water over today.  They said they don't provide service to this address."

Him: "Right, because the house has well water."

Me:  "Oh, okay.  So who do I call?"

Him: "Nobody, it's just a well."

Me: "Right, I get that.  But who services the well?"

Him: "Nobody.  It's a well."

Me: "So the water's free?!?!  That's so cool!"

My landlord chuckled as we said goodbye, but I got the feeling I'd done irreparable damage to his opinion of me.  How the heck was I supposed to know how well water works?  My water has always, always, been a utility I pay for, just like gas, electricity, and the internet.  I mean, this is the 21st century.  It seems almost archaeic to think that our water comes out of a big, Mother-Nature-serviced hole in the ground.  That's crazy talk.  I wanted to call my landlord back and asked him where this "well" of mine is.  I've been over every inch of the property, and I've never seen anything that looks like it belongs in a Mother Goose nursery rhyme.  I want to find this well.  I want to decorate it and make it pretty and throw pennies in it and make wishes.  But my landlord already thinks I'm a crazypants.  So maybe I'll save that question for another day.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Neighbors

I met one of my new neighbors yesterday.  I was out in the back yard admiring it's awesomeness when I heard footsteps behind me.  I turned around and there he was, just a few feet away.  He didn't bother introducing himself.  But that's probably because I took off screaming and running in the opposite direction as soon as we made eye contact.  Why?  Because my new neighbor, who seems to think it's acceptable to come and go from my yard as he pleases, is a WILD TURKEY.  A wild turkey?!?!  I was so not prepared for that.  Gang members, drug addicts and prostitutes I'm used to....but a bird that's almost as tall as I am?  Terrifying. This country living is way scarier than "urban life" ever was....

My new neighbor....

Sunday, April 1, 2012

It Begins.....

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” ~Lao Tzu

Today was a big day.  Today, I got the keys to our new house.  And I use the term “our new house” loosely. 

By “our”, I mean my family of six that is currently spread across the country.  Myself and my two boys, thirteen and nine, of whom I share joint custody with my ex-husband and only have about 60% of the time; my husband, who is a soldier in the U.S. Army and is currently stationed at Fort Hood, Texas; and my two step-sons, eight and four, who live with their mother and are only allowed to have contact with us when my husband comes home, which is usually only every two or three months for a couple weeks at a time.  So, essentially, “our” house is really “my” house for the time being, as I will be the only one living in it 100% of the time.  Well, me and our two ankle-biting fluff balls, Sammy and Sophie.

By “new”, I mean built in 1929.  And by “house”, I mean farmhouse.  Complete with a gigantic back yard, an old carriage house, and a dilapidated barn out at the end of the property.

Since my husband is 1,200 miles away, I will be doing all the renovating, decorating, packing, moving, and unpacking by myself.  (Here’s where the fact that I have incredible friends and family comes in handy.)  No big deal.  Moving and starting over is a part of life, especially for military families.  We’re not even going that far, just a few miles down the road.  It won’t be too big of a change, right?  Wrong.

I am a city girl to the core.  I grew up in the same house my father lived in during the 1950’s.  Over the years, the neighborhood surrounding the house that has been owned by our family since it was built has deteriorated badly.  By the time I was in high school, gunshots and police sirens were as much a part of my summer soundtrack as crickets and thunderstorms.  My dad kept his pistol handy at all times, because all the area crackheads seemed to think our house looked like a good place to come seeking rides, handouts, and a phone to borrow…especially at 2 am.

When I turned 18, I was ready to get as far from Lansing as possible, as fast as I could.  Unfortunately, due to the fact that I relied heavily on my parents to watch my son while I worked, I didn’t make it far.  The first house I bought was a three bedroom ranch in a quiet little neighborhood a few miles from my childhood home.  The thing about quiet little neighborhoods, I learned the hard way, is that it doesn’t matter how nice your neighbors are.  If you live in a crime-riddled city, crime will find you eventually.  After multiple vehicle break-ins, the theft of our mini-van right out of our driveway, and even a mid-day home invasion, I was beyond ready to get the heck out of dodge.

So when my husband and I decided to divorce, I was more than happy to let him keep the house.  I moved to a small town just outside the city limit, into a two bedroom townhome with my two little boys.  New friends, new school, and a sense of safety and security I’d never had growing up.  We probably would have stayed there forever if our family hadn’t doubled in size.  But over the past five years, we’ve added two dogs, a husband/step-dad, and two more little boys to the mix.  We’ve simply outgrown the place.

I spent months scouring the internet for rental homes in our area.  The final decision came down to two houses that were polar opposites.  One was a newly renovated three bedroom ranch with a big, open yard.  The other was an old farmhouse with a creepy Michigan basement, a forest in the back yard, and quirkiness oozing from the walls.  I’ve always wanted to live in an old house, so even though the ranch would have been a safer bet, my husband and I decided on the farmhouse.  We’re just renting for the time being, so it’s sort of a sneak peek at country living for us, to see if it’s something our family can adapt to. 

Less than two hours into our twelve month lease, I can tell it’s going to be a wild ride. It’s quite possible that I bit off a little more than I can chew.  But it’s also quite possible that this could be one of the greatest adventures the C Family ever embarks on.  Only time will tell….

Our new casa.  Cute, no?