Saturday, August 25, 2012

Kudzu, King of the South

Today saw the return of the Kudzu Festival to my small town. It had been 6 years since the last one. Funny enough, just a couple of weeks ago, my husband and his cousins were talking about how we all grew up here but never went to the festival. Then a week later, I get a message from the PTO at the kids' school telling everyone that it was back!

Unfortunately, B&E were spending the weekend with their mom, so it was just me, the hubs, my father in law and Baby D (who is not so much baby anymore...waaaah)

First, we went to the petting zoo area. D has never really gotten to see a lot of animals beside cats and dogs, despite living out in the boonies. He got to see a sheep, a handful of goats (babies!), a duck, a hen, some puppies, a couple of rabbits...and a 2 day old piglet (squeeee!).
He's wearing his crown!
 After the petting, it was time to ride the pony!
He was so unnerved that I had to hold him up the entire ride...but it was so worth it :)
We were hoping to try some fried kudzu blossoms and any other kudzu delicacies, but sadly (or happily?) the only one they had was kudzu jelly. 
We tasted this one and bought a jar. It was actually really good - tastes like apples and honey. Check out the store, too. The original is in Valley Crusis, NC, just outside Boone, but there's another one in downtown Asheville, too. Seriously, check them out and buy some Kudzu Blossom Jelly while you're at it!

Finally, we wandered through the refurbished historic buildings and headed inside the main museum building to see the civil war history of our town. It was nice to have a break from the heat in the sun, and it was neat to look around a place I hadn't been since early middle school.

The hubs bought me a new ring 

and I bought him a small geode to break for B&E when they come home so they can see what's inside. We also made a deal to go visit the same historic site again with all three kids, and go visit the Andrew Jackson Park not far from here so we can go for a nature walk again, too. 

For more info on the museum that supported the festival this year, visit Andrew Jackson's Birthplace.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I DO Help!

Yesterday, I was sitting at my desk, diligently doing my job, and I got this overwhelming sense of pride. No idea where it came from, but I was proud of my job and the way I do my job.

I work for one of the largest banks in the country in the bankruptcy department. Try saying that to someone who asks where you work and a slip of a look flits across their face. Then tell them what I actually do in that department - loan modifications - and the slip of a look turns into an out and out frown.

That look really bothers me deep down, even though I try not to let it. I know I do work that helps make the world a better place. But the media has painted the banks to be big greedy people grabbing houses out from under people trying their hardest to pay their bills.

I'm not going to lie. We can't help everyone save their home. It's not that we don't try (please remember that nearly all loans have more than one modification option that we try to get). We do. We try very hard to make sure that the documents we gather for the decision are just so in order to cut down on the total time it takes to get that decision back to the borrower. Because the group I work for is very specific, we get to know the borrowers and their situations, the sound of their voice, the desperation they're feeling.

When we get a denial, we all feel bad, and the team gets quieter while we work. When we get an approval, no matter how small, we get excited. It makes us hopeful that we've been able to do the one thing that could help a family stay in their home. I know of one borrower I had that I got to know very well during collecting his document package that when I was told of his approval for a mod, I cheered - when I learned that his monthly mortgage payment had been cut nearly in half (*not typical, just lucky), I cried. I knew that we had saved his home and given him piece of mind. He's not the only one this has happened for, and I can say he won't be the last for me, either.

A lot of times, people get so angry with us for taking longer than they want to review the documents they send in. I understand because there is so much uncertainty attached to a loan modification request. We try our best to be a team of superheroes, reviewing as many loans each day as we possibly can. We want to be able to do it all in one day, and unfortunately we can't. All I can say is that if you're in the situation of waiting for a loan modification, please stay on top of us and keep us aware of your loan - but try to have a little patience. You're not alone in your urgency, and we do take things personally.

Yesterday, while driving home, chewing on the inside of my cheek, thinking about why I was so proud of the work I do, I decided that I don't care about that look that people get when they hear I work on loan modifications. I know to the bottom of my heart that I do good work to help people stay in their homes. We, the bank, don't make the rules about what is and isn't allowed. We just have to follow those rules when we review all of the financial information. I know that I will continue to feel bad for the families we can't help in my group and cheer for the families we can help. I'll continue to imagine the ones that do qualify hearing the good news, seeing the relief on their face, maybe taking everyone out for pizza to celebrate.

I do good work. I am proud.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Big 2-8!

So. Tomorrow is my birthday.
circa September 1984
T claims I'm about to eat my sister up, like a lion devouring a gazelle. (Get it? Lion? 'Cause I'm a LEO?)
Being a Megan is tiring work!
Every SuperGirl needs her Duplo Bloks!
 And every super hero crash lands at least once...
I think I was a homemade butterfly until I was 7
2 weeks before T found me again
Can you believe it will have been 3 years next week?
My oldest and dearest bestie, at my baby shower
And that's me. I couldn't find the pictures of me from this past July 4, but I'll add them when I do. Now you're caught up on 28 years of yours truly!