Tag: cook county

Foreclosure, Reality, and Emotional Pain


I knew we had an appointment in Chancery court on July 11th. I knew we did.

Sort of.

We’ve had previous appointments with the court and they always sent us something in the mail. Mr. Brickie, after the last court date, said, “I’ll just show up at the date they say to. Just in case.”

I am the one who told him to wait for the papers to come in the mail.

I am the one who flicked the first domino and chose this path.

I am the only one to blame.

Chancery court is so far behind in cases (I said) and you shouldn’t have to take a day off work (a day you’re working overtime, I said) to go to a court date that might not even be yours (I said) and get sent home with no pay for the day and no information (the way they do, I said) even if I want just one. more. stay. before they decide forevermore they are going to sell our home at auction (because one more stay would have guaranteed one more full school year, I said) because they have been so good about informing us of our next court date (I cooed into his ear before we slept at night) and he believed me.

I am so rarely wrong, you see. I do my research and I find out the facts and I don’t share untested theories as fact and I don’t rely on “I hope so” and “It’s probably okay” so he had no reason not to believe me.

Really, everyone believes me. I’m a very believable person. I’m right with astonishing accuracy because I hate being wrong. I do not accept mistakes as a natural outcome of the law of numbers. I am better than that (I said) and we will persevere and get through this (I said).

I was mistaken.

I was not just a little bit mistaken. I did not tell my husband to take an umbrella with him on a sunny day. I was mistaken about something wicked important. Our house (which is no longer our house) that I have the papers stating and have to tell Mr. Brickie about when he gets home from work today (his last day as a 40% apprentice.)

The Reality of the Situation

According to the first lawyer we ever talked to (the lovely, young lawyer who paled and stuttered when I asked, “Out of everyone you’ve ever talked to, has it ever been a wise financial decision to fight for the home?”) who told us our time frame from this moment or, rather, the moment from July 11th when the clock (the foreclosure auction sheriff-at-the-front-door clock) starts ticking like something out of only the largest, scariest MC Escher painting.  We have – about – nine months from July 11th to get out of our home. We might have a little extra time but the real clock – the big  TIME TO START OVER Y’ALL clock is now ticking for real and we are no longer living in a state of flux. Or, as I liked to call it, “Our state of grace.”

In nine months(ish) we are going to give birth to a new life. I have a feeling it’s going to physically hurt less than childbirth and emotionally tear my brain in half. Maybe I’m overreacting and it will be an easy move. We’ve been decluttering for a year here and there and plans are in place for what will come with and what will go in storage and lists are made. So the focus of the blog will change slightly and we’ll be talking about getting ready to move.

Same family stories, just stories about a family transitioning to a new place, probably a new school system, and all the things surrounding the move and the finances getting us there.

Even when you prepare for all outcomes (and yes, I mean all outcomes, you should see my charts) it doesn’t make getting hit in the gut any less breathtaking. You can know in your head you’re making the best possible financial decision and feel with every feel in you that you’ve lost this round of the game of life.

My breath is taken.



Trains, Courthouses, and Exhaustion Beyond Coffee


This morning we took the little one and hopped the train and went downtown.

We really had no idea what we were in for.

Armed with a messenger bag full of tax returns, paperwork, and electronics for the preschooler (that, seriously, you know she never touched, right?) we trekked off on our train adventure.

Lucky for us, most of the rush hour passengers are gone by the time we got there for our 8:11am train. We were able to score seats across from each other and the little one sat on our laps – trading off whenever she got a little bored – during the journey. I knew we were keeping her indoor voice going strong when people leaving the train stopped to tell me how adorable she was. She ate it up and always said, “Thank you.” which made them melt.

She’s going to be dangerous, this one.

We got off the train at Millennium Station and decided we were going to try and get to our destination via the Pedway, so we wouldn’t have to spend extra money on a taxi.

Since we aren’t moles, we totally got turned around and walked for like five blocks underground before starting to get freaked out and feeling like maybe we’d never see daylight again. We saw a staircase that said Washington Street and were like, “Sunlight! Yea! It can’t be worse out there than it is down here!”  Also, I might have been having a problem with my very friendly daughter talking to every single homeless person underground. I didn’t stop her because they’re human and deserving of interaction because it has to be hard being invisible while hundreds of people swarm by. It still made me mildly uncomfortable, though, in the same way it would if she were talking to pretty much anyone else in the Pedway. She just happened to engage with the people who were sitting (more on her level) talking to the crowd (she’s really responsive) or playing music (because that’s pretty cool). Basically, she was interacting with the most social people in the city and while I wasn’t about to stop her we had an appointment and I couldn’t let her get sucked into a half hour conversation with anyone.

The Helper and the Lawyer

The first place we went was to Legal Aid across from the Daley Center. They were super nice and we went upstairs and filled out some forms and were introduced to a very nice lady (who shall remain nameless for privacy purposes) who collected and scanned all the documents we brought while telling us her life story. Okay, not her life story.

She told us about her condo. She lived at her condo for 17 years and then she lost her job. After she fell for a couple scams and finally got help, she ended up with a new 30-year mortgage and a payment that was higher than before. So after 17 years, she has made less than no headway. She decided she wanted to work for a company that made sure that didn’t happen to other people.

I’m not sure why, but this did not leave me feeling either inspired or hopeful. It left me sad. We filled out many more forms, found out that we were supposed to bring in 2012 W-2 forms but everything else was scanned and accounted for.

Our next stop was to talk to the lawyer.

She was in her twenties if she was a day. I mean, this girl was young. Not only was she young but she was at Legal Aid (that means pro bono) wearing some of the most expensive clothing I have ever seen. Cream colored cable knit sweater, black tights, and gold ballet flats. She was business causal in a way that I have only seen in catalogs. She was also very direct and on point.

She walked us through what happened up until we got there, what will happen next, and gave us a timeline.

She said two things that caught me off guard:

1. She flat out asked me what I wanted. When I asked her to be a little more specific, she said, “I want to know if your goal is to stay in your home or stay in your home as long as possible until you are foreclosed on.” Oh! “I can tell you that?” Yep. So I told her I was on the fence. Staying would be easier but I’m not going to be in a situation where I pay more just for the privilege of not having to move.

2. She told me if the car was sold outright for less than it was worth, the mortgage company could legally come after me for the difference. I asked, “I thought with FHA that didn’t happen.” She said it did. Mr. Brickie asked, “Isn’t that what mortgage insurance is for?” She said, “I don’t know how mortgage insurance works, I’m trying to inform you of your rights and responsibilities.

So I was confused because every resource and every lawyer and even people who ask questions on the Dave Ramsey show hear that if you have an FHA loan, no one comes after you for the difference.

She handed me a piece of paper to take over to the Daley Center and submit at the clerk’s office.

I asked if I could ask her one little question. Her mouth said yes but dang if her eyes said no. I ignored the eyes and asked, “Has anyone ever chosen to keep their home for a reason that was not emotional? Is it ever a better decision financially – from what you have seen – to fight for and keep the house?”

It took ten minutes but she finally got to the point and said, “No. The reasons are always emotional. Well, that and your credit rating but even with that your credit rating is hurt almost as much by a short sale or a deed-in-lieu than a full-on foreclosure.”

Well, crap.

To the Daley Center


Yes, he IS looking at you. In case you were wondering. That’s our famous Daley Center Picasso. Or, “The Horsey” to pretty much any kid on earth.

On our way in Mr. Brickie has a minor meltdown because it’s a courthouse in Chicago and we have cell phones and headphones and the LeapPad and he’s thinking we’re never getting past security. I completely ignore him because I’m too practical to engage in that kind of paranoid, right? I walk up to the nearest security person (police officer?) and ask if cell phones and everything else will be a problem getting through security. I even showed her my FitBit (I’m pretty sure she’s going to buy one now, you are very welcome Fitbit company) to make sure it’s not going to make me look suspicious.

Everything was fine and we sailed through security.

The lawyer gave us a sheet with floors and room numbers so we knew right where to go. The first place was on the 28th floor and we now know that DD freaks out on elevators. The More you Know™ right? We turned in our fee waiver and the judge signed it. We took the whole shebang down to the filing room and got everything turned in.

Next Steps

We got back to the train station with a little less than a half hour until our 1:30pm train left. DD ate the cake pop I bought her at some Starbucks along the way. I’m not usually a food reward kind of mom, but she was as perfect as a four year old could possibly be all day. Polite, engaging, friendly … if she had wanted a pony instead of a cake pop I might have tried to make it happen. I was so proud of her.

We have another copy of the answer to the foreclosure and I just have to mail it to the  law office handling the foreclosure for our mortgage company.

If we don’t choose to keep the house, that piece of paper is going to give us an extra 4-6 months of being in the house on top of what we already have. If we do choose to keep the house, it lets us become more financially solvent so we can pay mortgage payments. A complete win-win.

You might be wondering why I haven’t already mailed that piece of paper since I’ve been on the ball this whole time. Funny story…I sat down after I got home and immediately fell asleep. Not a quick nap, either. I woke up with my mouth hanging open with drool all over the place. I was exhausted!

I wanted to update you first, so I wrote this as soon as I woke up. After I hit “Publish” I’m going to fill out an envelope and go mail that letter to the lawyer.

Tomorrow? The follow up phone call with NACA. We have two companies we are going to use to get us through this mess. That’s two better than zero, for sure.

Also, THANK YOU SO MUCH for the emails, comments, posts, and notes with warm wishes. Knowing I’m not all alone in the world makes this so much easier to deal with.

Really….thank you.

The Mortgage Company Won’t Be My Valentine

clockwork heart

This is the part where you act all shocked and surprised in an attempt to be supportive.

Come on, you could look a little horrified. Okay, maybe not.

But we have things in the works, my friends.

Before that (and hopefully before I double-enter seventy more one-line paragraphs) I wanted to update you on The Credit Card Fiasco that Created Christmas. It’s a quick update because the tax return is going to take care of them all and I’m going to tuck them ever-so-gently into my little zipper pouch that I hide on the moon and not use them again.

Crisis averted.

In addition I have enough to pop into an online savings account (out of sight, out of mind) for first/last/security in case that becomes a necessity. No homeless shelters for me!

One of the things that I learned is that there isn’t actually anyplace we looked at that has all three (first/last/security) because they either have first/last or first/security and because I have three names in my head I got all confused and thought it was x3 when it’s not. I’m still saving x3 because then we have a little extra or in case we have to bribe a landlord to ignore my credit report because what’s happening with the mortgage is going to make a landlord that checks that kind of thing cry.

Of course, we aren’t planning on going a traditional route. We are hoping to get a place to rent from a friend of a friend and hopefully that will avoid the whole fiasco.

But every month we postpone that. Every month we don’t have to move is another month closer to Mr. Brickie moving up in the apprentice program and getting those big raises. We have to get through two raises. It’s like a mantra I repeat to myself almost daily. “Just two raises, we just need two raises.”

He is 14 work-days from his first raise.

Thanks so much for asking! Yes, it does make it more painful to be SO close and not there yet. It really does. he should be able to get through it pretty well come Spring but there’s still a ways to go before Spring and breaking ground happens on the next job. (The bright side, of course, is that the next job is already scheduled for Spring so there won’t be any confusion or scrambling to get Mr. Brickie on a job when the weather breaks. Small mercies, right?) In the meantime we keep on keepin’ on.

Back to the Mortgage Stuff

We received thick packages from a law office letting us know there is a court date where all the nasty things begin to happen like sales and transfers and auctions. This means two things happened simultaneously.

  1. We all had panic attacks. I don’t care how prepared you are that is a stressful letter to receive.
  2. We now qualified for programs that wouldn’t talk to me before I had said court date.

Mr. Brickie got on the phone and started making connections. We had heard about NACA a while ago thanks to a friend of mine, but they aren’t really able to help unless you have a court date. Well, it’s possible they could have helped us sooner, but I’m not sure. We filled out the forms and Mr. Brickie had a phone meeting this morning and now I have to fax over a bunch of paperwork to them today.

He has a second (and final) phone interview scheduled with them tomorrow but tomorrow isn’t going to work for us because we have to go downtown to talk to the county legal aid. We can tell them what we’re doing with NACA and figure out who can best help us. I kind of want Mr. Brickie to reschedule the “let’s all go downtown on a train” appointment and keep the “calling on the phone” appointment but he seems to think it’s better to do it the other way.

I have to remember to ask him why. I’m pretty sure he won’t have a good reason. He just goes with things without thinking them through sometimes. He can be so frustrating sometimes because he wants to defend his opinions even when he’s not sure why he’s having them. I get it, he feels like I’m second-guessing him. But I wouldn’t need to if he thought through his decisions in the first place.

You know that last paragraph is totally one sided and he would tell you that he does think things through, right? Don’t take this as gospel. That last bit was mostly venting.

I can be so human sometimes. Ugh. Mostly I can be so, “I don’t want to go downtown on a train with a four year old and I’m going to do everything in my power to convince you that it’s a bad idea because stress, anxiety, and panic.” I hate public transportation. I hate it even more in winter. I hate it EVEN MORE during rush hour. Bringing my child with? We have just entered a whole new stratosphere of stress. Like, punching people stress.

Luckily I have lovely legal drugs given to me by my lovely doctor for that kind of anxiety. I only take them “as needed” so they don’t get a lot of use since most of my life is these four office walls right now. But for this? Oh you can bet your butt cheeks I’m going to consider that a needed moment in anti-anxiety pill land.

Oh! I asked Mr. Brickie about rescheduling the Horrible Train Experience™ and he had a totally valid point I didn’t want to hear. He just told me, “No, we can’t reschedule the “go downtown” appointment because the one we got tomorrow was a cancellation.”

I still don’t want to go. But driving through rush hour will be so much worse than the train. Plus parking is so expensive downtown.

Of course, taking the train is going to be $31.50 round trip for all three of us, plus the taxi we are going to take from the train station because it would be inhumane to make the 4yo walk four and a half (city) blocks in downtown Chicago during rush hour when everyone is power walking to work on auto-pilot, not paying attention to their surroundings. She’ll get totally stepped on and then I’ll get all mama bear and getting arrested won’t get me to the appointment now, will it?

So train + taxi = getting to the law appointment on time.

I have no idea what any of these people are going to do to actually help us. I do, however, know that having help is way better than having no help, so I’m all over it and will happily pop pills and get into crowded trains if that is what it takes.

In case I haven’t mentioned it, both of us have to be at the appointment. If I could just send Mr. Brickie and stay home with the young’un I would totally do that. He would probably prefer it that way, too. On the bright side, I’ll probably get some cute Instagram pics of DD because I’m not going to be able to resist taking her to a Starbucks or Au Bon Pan or Corner Bakery downtown.

How could anyone?

Oh, I forgot to tell you! The reason the mortgage company doesn’t want to be my valentine is because our court date is on Valentine’s Day! Har Har! But also, because once you work with NACA, they do all the talking with the mortgage company and because they do this kind of thing for a living the mortgage company doesn’t get to run them around and give them bad deals like they tried to give me.

It never makes the mortgage company happy when NACA gets involved because another homeowner has stopped trying to DIY and got some professionals involved.


Can you think of anything else I should be doing to try and make sure I’m not messing this all up?