In spite of our best efforts, we failed to secure all of the money that our loan company and the seller were asking us to pay up front, so we had to cancel the contract. It was devastating for us, and we also have to process the sorrow that we were unable to help the seller with his goal of being able to retire to the Philippines. We hope that the right person comes along to buy his home so his dream can come true.

As for us, we’re leaving the GoFundMe up, and any monies we receive from it are going into savings so that when we are ready to try again, we have enough money to get the right home for us and our children. We still want to move to Illinois to give our children more opportunities and enable our oldest daughter to be closer to her biological father and his family.

On the bright side, we’ve learned a lot from this experience. Additionally, my brother and his family recently moved to the St. Louis metro (they’re staying with my mother and her husband), and they are very interested in buying a forever home of their own. What we learned from our heartbreak is helping them, too.

While our housing situation is still insecure, we are safe right now, and we plan to try to buy a house again after my husband completes his provisioning and is fully licensed. His pay is supposed to increase, and it should open more doors.

Meanwhile, I’m doing my best to find a way to earn money, even though my eyesight is severely impaired and I am in constant pain and have to take care of our home and children. There’s got to be a way.


The Learning Curve

Since my last post, we were preapproved by Veterans United for an FHA loan of $125000 to buy a house. After a lot of searching and narrowing down, we found a house in an area we hadn’t previously considered that was a little higher than what we had hoped for, but was pretty much perfect for our needs. The owner had taken good care of it and seemed like a decent fellow.

The problems we’re running into now have nothing to do with the seller and everything to do with the purchasing process and the ridiculous rules of certain financial institutions and homebuying. The rules of homebuying are both needlessly complicated and designed to make buying a home extremely difficult for anyone who isn’t flush with cash.

First of all, there’s the down payment. 3.5 of the selling price isn’t bad by any means, but for a family living paycheck to paycheck because rent is so high, we’re responsible for all of the utilities, and gas, food, and toilet paper all cost money, saving anything has been an exercise in futility. Michael does have a 401k, but they aren’t allowing him to withdraw the entire vested amount for some reason that I do not understand. The entire vested amount would cover the down payment and earnest money with some to spare to pay down debt. But noooo, we can’t have that.

And then there’s the earnest money, which I had forgotten was a thing because I have never bought a house before, and the closest I came to homebuying was when my parents were trying to buy a house in Hannibal back in the 80s. (Man, it would be nice to get a house that big for $25000 now!) It’s only $500, but they wanted it two days after the contract was signed, and we were between paychecks. We were able to get that worked out, but it was still a pain.

Next are the closing costs, which suck. The seller agreed to cover $3000 of it, but there’s still roughly $2000 that we need to cough up ourselves. Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk probably have more than that stuck in their couch cushions, but I don’t. I’m lucky if I have more than $50 in my checking account after I pay for groceries and toilet paper.

Finally, there are the moving expenses and the cost of getting utilities and internet turned on in our new home. Since teleportation isn’t a thing, we have to pay for a truck, gas, and all the other little expenses that go with getting a household moved from one place to another.

Frankly, the system is designed to keep people poor and renting someone else’s property. I feel angry about this.

I feel very, very angry.

From where I sit, all of the ladders that other people used before us and others like us to climb out of poverty and create a good life for themselves and their families have been pulled away or destroyed outright.

This isn’t fair.

This isn’t right.

The only way that I can find that we can escape poverty now is if we help each other and keep helping each other even after we’ve achieved our goals. The ones at the bottom can lift others up if the ones above pull the others up at the same time. If we all work together, lifting and pulling, we can build an unbreakable ladder of human compassion and mercy to lift each other up so that everyone has the opportunity to reach that good life and help others do the same.

So once again, I am asking you to help us reach that next rung in the ladder so that we can be better positioned to help others rise in turn.

Our GoFundMe is here:

If you would like to help, but you don’t want to use GoFundMe or trust them, you can send donations directly to me here:


CashApp: $LadyCygnet

Venmo: LadyCygnet

Thank you!


Last REITs (or: The Boldest Ask Ever)

In the early hours of April 13, 2019, I experienced something no one should have to experience. The house that my husband and I were renting burned to the ground, taking everything we owned and our three precious cats with it. The wiring was outdated, and rather than going to the expense of having it down, the landlord chose to hire the least expensive electrician he could find to do the work. The electrician did not have his work inspected by the city as he was supposed to. As a result, his poor workmanship caused the house to catch fire at the junction where the house line meets the line from the electric company’s pole.

I thought that the fire was the worst possible thing I could experience renting a home.

I was wrong.

The only home we could get on short notice was managed by a property management company, which was just a front for a REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust). REITs exist to make money, and as such, they buy properties en masse, then rent them out. FirstKey Homes was the property management company that initially owned the house we rent, and while I considered a PMC a bit impersonal, at least we knew our local property managers by name and had cordial relationships with them. They felt like decent people doing their best.

Unfortunately, FirstKey chose to sell their properties to another REIT-owned PMC, Prager Property Management. Prager was more hands-off, but we still knew the names of the local property managers, and we had their direct numbers and email addresses when things went wrong.

To our surprise, Prager chose to sell their properties to yet another REIT without telling anyone. We only found out when we weren’t able to log into the rent portal we used to pay rent and sewer and check on maintenance tickets. The phones were disconnected, too. We finally received an email from the new REIT in charge, VineBrook Homes.

VineBrook Homes chose to make themselves virtually inaccessible. We were never given the names of our property managers for the area, much less a way to directly contact them by phone or email. Their only phone number connects one to a call center presumably somewhere in the US, but nowhere near St. Louis. The people who answer the phones are nice, but they have specific scripts they have to stick to, and they have absolutely no power other than to generate tickets, which are pretty much ignored by anyone higher up the food chain.

While a hands-off, impersonal approach may appeal to some renters, it doesn’t appeal to me, especially if there’s a problem.

Which, unfortunately, there was. Out of nowhere, the bathtub fixtures in our only bathroom started giving us electrical shocks. At first, we thought it was just static electricity, but as we eliminated things that might generate static electricity, the shocks continued, sometimes even more intensely than previous incidents. We used a voltmeter, and we discovered that the shocks were coming from them metal bath fixtures themselves, rather than us. Armed with that knowledge, we created a maintenance ticket on their website, expecting to hear back as quickly as we had with the previous owners of the house we rent.

We did not.

I kept on calling and calling and emailing them at both of the email addresses we had been given. It took over a week before they sent maintenance over to check out the problem. I had asked that they call to let me know when they were coming over. They did not, so I was interrupted in the middle of a virtual medical appointment and had to leave it early to show them where the problem was and talk to them about it. They brought out a voltmeter of their own, measured the electricity for themselves, and reassured us that VineBrook would send out an electrician to fix the problem as soon as possible.

They did not.

I kept on calling and getting the run-around. I was promised that a property manager would give me a call back. They never did. I reached out by email. I reached out on Facebook and finally got a responsive person, but nobody called me back. I reached out to my aldermen in desperation, and they connected me with the city building inspector, who offered to investigate if they did not take action to correct the problem.

The evening before I decided to drop the hammer and have the city building inspector come in and take over, I finally got a response from VineBrook Homes by email. They claimed that their maintenance people had not found anything wrong, so they would not be calling an electrician to find out what was causing the issue and repair it. I immediately responded and told them that their own maintenance people told us that there was a measurable electrical current going through the bath fixtures. I also told them that I would be contacting the city building inspector to bring his voltmeter and check the bath fixtures himself.

An hour later, I got a call from an electrician they had contracted to work on their properties here. He told me he would be there at 9am the next day.

And he was! The electrician was a good guy, and he and his apprentice quickly and skillfully found and isolated the circuit and the specific wire that was causing the electric charge to go through our bath fixtures. He was honest with us, and he did what he could that day. He didn’t have the wire that he needed to replace, so he created a workaround for us until he could come back with the correct wire. He marked the circuit responsible for the electrical shocks on our breaker box, and we were able to shut off the breaker to shower and bathe safely until he was able to return with his apprentice to replace the wire.

After this experience, we knew that we had to get away from properties owned by REITs. We had wanted to stay here for another year, because Michael will be fully provisioned and licensed by March 2023, but we were shocked (literally!) and horrified by our experience with VineBrook. We had also heard that other tenants had been less fortunate than us, and some had even lost their homes due to VineBrook’s reluctance to take care of dangerous maintenance situations. They had clearly demonstrated that they cared more about making money than they did about the health and safety of their tenants. They also demonstrated that they didn’t care about building community or relationships with tenants. We still don’t know any of their property managers, much less have their contact information, whereas with both FirstKey Homes and Prager Property Management, we knew our property managers by name and had their email addresses and contact phone numbers. VineBrook is terrible, but we didn’t want to roll the dice with yet another property management corporation, especially when housing demand was so high.

Even though the timing wasn’t perfect, we decided to move forward with our plan to find and buy our forever home. Michael got a couple of references to loan officers from an acquaintance of his, and both of them initially seemed interested in helping us, but one ghosted us after we gave her all of the paperwork she had requested, and the other was extremely condescending and implied we were not worth his time. He also talked about the mortgages he had on his rental properties, so he made it abundantly clear that he wasn’t on the side of scared, hurt tenants looking to get out of the rental cycle.

Because of people like them, we chose to make the biggest, boldest ask we’ve ever asked of anyone. We created a GoFundMe to raise the funds to be able to finally buy our own house outright. I’ve never heard of anyone else trying anything like this, and I knew it was audacious, but I also know that the world is full of good people who like helping others, even if all they can do is share the fundraiser and/or donate a dollar.

The link is here:

If you would like to help, but you don’t want to use GoFundMe or trust them, you can send donations directly to me here:


CashApp: $LadyCygnet

Venmo: LadyCygnet

Thank you!

ETA: A very awesome group of folks through Veterans United are working with us to try to get us a mortgage so we can get into a safe home ASAP. It’s amazing working with people who know us, know our story, and care about helping us get into a safe home. We’re still running the GoFundMe because the more money we can raise, the more we can pay upfront for our home, reducing the monthly mortgage payments and maybe even paying enough that we don’t have to get mortgage insurance. I’m excited and hopeful!


Am I too old to learn new tricks?

For the past few weeks, I’ve started learning how to invest and trade stocks, a few dollars at a time. I feel overwhelmed, especially by the amount of information available to try to make the best calls. I’ll never be a pro, but I’m hoping I can bring in income that will allow us to live the life our children deserve.


A Gross Of Days

I installed a countdown app to give me a more realistic idea of how long we have to get packed up and moved into new housing. It’s 144 days.

144 days to make this happen, one way or the other.

How can I do it?


New Year, Who Dis?

2019 was a shitshow.

2020 was a clusterfuck.

2021 was pandemonium.

2022 needs to be something totally different…and it will be.

There will be some pretty big changes coming the way of the Fungeon, including our relocation out west to wherever we can secure a home, preferably a permanent location where we can put down roots. I’m also working on becoming better organized and figuring out how to bring in an income around my duties and the multiple disabilities I have that make my other duties a challenge.

I’m currently waiting on a new therapist, since there’s only so much medicine to make my brain work better can do in the face of extreme trauma. Thank God I’ve got a husband who understands my trauma and doesn’t take it personally when I’m having a rough day.

Today was a good day. My oldest sister and her kids came to visit, and it was an amazing time. I missed Barbara and her brood, and I’m proud of all of them. I also got to meet her middle child’s husband face-to-face, and he actually seems like a pretty decent guy. As long as he’s a good partner to Katie, he’s all right in my book. They are the kind of people who don’t leave me drained when they’re gone, and that’s pretty rare. I miss them already, and I am really looking forward to living closer to them in the next few months.

Seeing that part of my family has really motivated me harder to find a way to bring in income to help us be in the best possible position to buy a home ASAP. I’ve got my artwork, Avon, and I plan to apply for a few things that I can do around taking care of my kids and the house.

I’m water–I’ll find a way.



A friend of mine died yesterday.

They were one of those online friends that my family used to scoff about and call “not a real friend.”

We met in person some years ago. They were in town on their way to visit family, and we had a very pleasant lunch. They were a real person with a real life and a real family. I felt like they could be my sibling.

We kept in touch over the years, but they fell ill. (Due to their wish for privacy, I will not disclose the illness, even though my friend is no longer alive.) At first, I was worried, but my friend seemed to be overcoming their illness and was on the way to recovery. Other problems cropped up in my life, and I lost touch. We didn’t communicate as much as we should have, and that was my fault entirely. I own it.

By chance, I found out from my friend’s partner that my friend passed away. Even though they had overcome their previous illness several times, a secondary condition caused them to rapidly decline. In less than 48 hours, my friend was gone, taken out by something unexpected as they continued to work towards a full recovery from their illness.

I’m terrible at keeping in touch, and this hurts my heart in a way I didn’t think possible. Every time I think I’m done crying for my friend, I start crying again.

This isn’t fair. They were supposed to have more time. They were supposed to have lunch with me again and marvel at my cherry blossom and meet my sunflower and my husband.

It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

Goodbye, Linden. I’m sorry. The world is so much dimmer without your light.


If it’s not one thing, it’s another

Well, I failed abysmally at Blogtober. In my defense, though, I had crisis after crisis after crisis to deal with, and I’m still dealing with them now.

First of all, what was supposed to be a fun excursion turned into two brutal weeks of illness that knocked us on our butts as a family. Michael and I got hit first, then the kids. We’re on the mend now, but I’ve still got a cough that pops up whenever I step out of the house (most likely due to the poor air quality from all of the vehicles on the busy street nearby).

And if that wasn’t enough, our kitchen sink stopped draining. We did what we could as unlicensed amateurs to get it working again, but we failed. After that came a fight with the property management company that owns the house we rent because they didn’t want to deal with the problem and told us to call a plumber. Trouble with that was that we’d already paid the $1235 a month in rent and didn’t have anything left over to pay a plumber, and our spidey sense told us that it wasn’t something we could fix.

A few days later, they acquiesced and sent over a maintenance guy to try and clear it, to no avail. After a weekend of more washing dishes in the bathtub and improvisational cooking (it’s a real pain in the ass to cook three meals a day without a working kitchen sink, I’m here to tell you), another maintenance guy came over with a more powerful auger and tried to clear the line…to no avail.

The head of maintenance finally called a plumber, and the person they sent over was able to clear the line, but he discovered a big problem. The pipe that runs below the basement flood was clogged with mud, which means that the line itself is broken. The line is cast iron and probably over 70 years old, so I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that it has corroded to the point of letting mud in.

So now we wait and see what the property management company wants to do. They likely won’t have a copy of the report on the line until Monday, but at least I can use my kitchen sink until the next big storm causes the groundwater to force more mud into the pipe.

In the course of working on the pipe, the water and ick from it got onto the laundry that I hadn’t caught up on, causing it to look and smell awful. I’m doing my best to catch up, but it’s a massive challenge with a young toddler who gets anxious when I’m not in the room with her.

Speaking of my little sunflower, she hasn’t been getting enough sleep, and it is probably at the root of her clinginess. She’s been refusing to nap, so I’ve been putting her to bed early. She’s been getting an average of 12 hours, but everything I’ve read says she needs to be getting at least 13-14 hours a day, so I’m anxious about closing that gap.

It’s also NaNoWriMo time, and while I haven’t been able to work on my project as much as I’d like, I have been making progress as I can, and that’s something, I suppose.

And now it’s time for me to sneak into the shower while my sunflower and cherry blossom are asleep and my husband is playing his racing game. Huzzah!


Admitting Defeat

My unpredictable schedule doesn’t allow me to blog daily, and that’s okay. Maybe if I can find a way to update the blog on mobile, I’ll be able to continue with the Blogtober challenge.

Until then, consider this my white flag. I’ll keep blogging when I can.


Falling Off the Wagon

I tried to keep up with both Inktober and Blogtober, and I failed.

It happens.

I got back up and got to work.

Will I fail again? Possibly?

Will I get back up again? I will until I can’t anymore.

I am now back on the wagon for both things. Wish me luck!