Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's Time To... Mom My Ride

Well, yet another week has passed. And now that we have gotten settled into school I have started yet another round of cooking adventures-- ha, ha-- NOT. No, we have been as busy as ever and are subsisting on such culinary wonders as Costco ravioli, Costco potstickers, potato bar and waffles.

On Tuesday, I believe I set some kind of world record: I went to mall for black skirt and came away with.... 1 black skirt. Yes, I know it's hard to believe. But before I make myself sound too virtuous and frugal, I have to say that I had several things on hold at two stores, but I just didn't have time to decide what to buy before I had to leave to make sure I was home to get Jared from the school bus. As it was, I drove down our street just as the school bus was coming up, so I guess it was a good thing I left when I did, and I'm sure Dave appreciated my self-sacrificing frugality, even it was outside-enforced.

On Tuesday night we had a GREAT relief society enrichment night. We had a guest speaker who spoke about depression; then they had a demonstration where we all made lavender bath salts and bath fizzies. Meanwhile they had a sign-up for everyone to get massages from two massage therapists (from the other ward) and then they finished it off with a chocolate fountain for dessert. It was quite the fun night-- chocolate and massages-- hard to beat.

On Wednesday morning while Camryn was at preschool, I had got together with one of my friends from the piano program at BYU to play duet music. We have been trying to practice to put together a little mini-concert of duet pieces, despite the obvious setbacks ( i.e. children). This rehearsal was much better than our previous ones as we had both actually practiced a little bit beforehand instead of just bashing our way through. Amazing the difference that makes.

On the way home, I borrowed keys to look at the music at the stake center and see what needed to be done to organize and sort it (which I did with some others yesterday morning). Unfortunately, I unintentionally offended a few people by my audacity to a) Look at the music unattended (which actually belongs to two wards-- not the stake) and b) Suggest that we buy enough file folders to actually organize the music in the cabinet. After writing an apologetic email and just offering to buy the folders myself, the storm blew over and all is well.

On Wednesday night, I finally talked Dave into going and looking at a minivan that I had found for sale on craigslist. On Thursday morning, we bought it. Yes, Dave and I have taken the final step of parentifying our lives and now are the proud, if somewhat less cool than before, owners of a minivan. If this seems a bit sudden, yes it was. Although I have been tracking used minivans on craigslist since early this summer, I quickly figured out that to get anything with less than 100,000 miles on it was pretty much out of our league. I did my research on consumer reports and the three minivans they recommended were the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Mazda MPV. We had long been coveting an Odyssey or Sienna (and apparently the rest of the parent world has been too, judging by their high resale prices), but I started looking into the MPV also, since they are not as expensive.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a 2000 MPV on craigslist, but it seemed ridiculously low priced, so I thought there must be something wrong with it. It was still there this last week, so I called on it. No, it didn't have a salvage title or crash damage, but it was missing one of the captain's chairs on the middle row. Other than that, it was fine-- clean title, 72,000 miles, looked nice. Then I realized with how low it was priced (over $1000 under low blue book), we could pay for almost half of it by selling one of our other cars. Then I called an auto salvage place and found that you can buy a replacement captains chair for $125. Done. I was sold.

So then came the task of selling Dave..... Me: "Dave, I found a used minivan on Craigslist, it's a great deal and it's in good condition." Dave: "Well, that seems like a good price. Having a minivan would be nice, but how exactly are we going to pay for it? We don't want a car payment right now." Me: "I have it figured out right here: we sell one of the cars, take a bit of savings, etc., etc." Dave: "Well, OK, maybe we could make it work. But we need to make sure of something: is this really a need or is it a want?" Me: [?*@!?*!@*?] "Well..... I suppose TECHNICALLY speaking it's not exactly an urgent ABSOLUTE need. I guess THEORETICALLY I could squish all three kids into the back seat, LEANING over Camryn to buckle the baby in, with no cargo room for trips and no way to take even a single extra person in the car with us.... Or I suppose we could wait until after the baby's born and hope we find another good deal...." I finally convinced Dave to look at it.... and buy it. I felt quite triumphant that the next two cheapest MPVs that I could find were roughly $2000 more-- and had either a salvage title or 50,000 more miles. To be completely honest, I felt very blessed to have this fall into our laps. We had pretty much written off getting a minivan until next year and then suddenly, it just happened.

So thus began our crazy weekend. Thursday morning we went to sign on the minivan and pick it up. Meanwhile I listed our Toyota Corolla on craigslist, thinking it would take a little while for it to generate notice. I got my first phone call within 5 minutes of posting it. Oops. So we bought the minivan, I dropped Dave back off at work, took the minivan to emissions, got gas and a car wash, traded cars with Dave at work, took the corolla to get washed and took it home to clean it and start showing it to people. Meanwhile I tried to field upward of 10-15 calls or emails about the car all day and schedule times to show it, making sure I had time enough to clean it first.

I wanted the car to sell quickly so I listed it at the price I wanted to sell it for-- despite Dave's suggestion to put it a few hundred higher. The very first person to call me dropped by in early afternoon and "wanted to buy the car." This was great. He looked at it, test drove and then offered me $400 below what I had listed it. "Not a chance," I replied, "I listed it at the price that I wanted to sell it for." "What about $300 under?" No. "What about $100 under?" No! So I assumed that we were done, but he didn't leave. "What if I give you X amount in cash?" "No. I will accept what I listed it at. I've had 15 calls and you are the first person to come by." So he stood hanging around while I started cleaning out the minivan (one of the perks of buying a car that's a great deal is that it probably needs deodorizing-- in our case it was wet-dog smell that we had to get rid of). Finally he came up to me and said, "I think I want the car. What if I give you a $200 deposit and then I'll come back later to decide." By this time I was getting sick of this. "No. If you want the car, buy it. If you're not sure, come back later."

So to summarize, this man stayed on our driveway for 2 1/2 hours. First he discovered that the car's tags were not current. So he wanted that resolved before he bought it. It turns out they really were expired because although we had done emissions, we needed to have the car insured before registering it and then brought back in to be "officially" registered in our names, which step was -- ahem-- forgotten. But it wasn't a big deal-- we had the title -in our names- and it would just require a $50 extra fee. Then he said, "Well take off the $50." I probably would have if he hadn't annoyed my so badly and sat on my driveway for the whole afternoon. So I said no. Then, "Well what if it doesn't pass emissions?" "The emissions place is 2 miles from us. If you're so concerned, take it there now and see if it passes." So he took the car again, came back 20 minutes later and said, "I didn't go to DEQ, but I called my wife and she decided she didn't want it. Sorry for your time." And there went almost 3 hours of my life.

While I was enduring this endless negotiation process, Camryn and Jared teamed up with one of the neighbor kids to make a Flower Stand on our driveway. They picked some of our ornamental oregano (no, not your typical choice for cut flowers) and made a sign that said, "Flawrs-- $5 or 5 cents." After disappointing levels of interest, they decided that Camryn and Sophie should get dressed up as princesses and then wave and pose at cars as they passed by. I was too busy to wonder if I should be worried by this behavior, but it kept them busy, despite their lack of sales.

So I guess by this tortuous process I realized that I am not cut out to be a used car saleswoman. I got to hear lots of sob stories... like the teenager: "I'm saving the money for it myself," or the down-on-my-luck: "I really need a car and I don't have that much money-- I only have this much," or my favorite: "My car caught fire and burned to the ground so I really need a car and I was hoping you could knock a couple hundred off the price." We did sell the car on Saturday (to someone who had his previous car stolen), for asking price minus the $50 and I was greatly relieved to be finished with my first experience in car sales.

The impetus for Jared's innovative flower sale came from the desire to raise money for his school "Fun Run." I just have to mention in passing how much I HATE school fundraisers. Jared came home from school one day SOOO excited because if he raises ONLY $250 for his school fun run then he gets a skateboard (actually, he would be in a DRAWING for a skateboard) and if he raises $1000, then he gets some huge prize and this is just so great. So first he starts raiding his jar with birthday money and then asking to go door to door and pestering me to start saving so he can reach his $250. Now, at the risk of sounding unsympathetic and scrooge-ish, do they really expect me to let my 6-year-old go door to door collecting money? All the people that we could ask to donate already have kids that go to his school-- or some other school having its own fun run (like Camryn's preschool). And besides doesn't it seem like they'd make a lot more for the school if they didn't spend so much on prizes? Why can't I just write a donation check and be done with it? And why do they have to get my 6-year-old so excited about prizes that he talks about them constantly and pesters me all day long. So we took a trip to and found that you can buy a skateboard there for $15 or $20. End of discussion.

In spite of my lack of school spirit, on Friday I volunteered to assemble hamburgers for the Hopkins School BBQ. It was actually kind of fun-- assembling 800 hamburgers in an hour and a half. And in the process I finally figured out why school hamburgers taste so bad. For this "barbecue," they used pre-cooked hamburgers, which they heated outside on a grill (to give them some credit). Then they brought them into the kitchen where they reheated them in an oven until they had reached a certain internal temperature. Then we scrambled to put them on buns and trays and then they were covered with plastic bags and put into a warmer for the next hour or two. Yum!

On Saturday we cleaned house and yard and bought three trees for our backyard-- all of which fit into our minivan, I might add. Sunday was my first performance directing our ward choir and it went quite well, despite not having a ton of people. Aside from that, we are pretty much just plowing along as usual.

On Tuesday, I had another ultrasound with the perinatal specialist. When the doctor came in to talk to me about the ultrasound, he said that if he had never seen a scan of me before, he would have said that the ultrasound was of a perfectly healthy normal baby. This doesn't rule all problems out for sure-- as the baby gets larger, it gets harder to see and measure the nuchal fold-- but it is definitely VERY good news. The doctor was extremely positive (for the first time). We appreciate those of you who have kept us-- and the baby-- in your thoughts and prayers. Meanwhile, I think the baby is practicing cardio kick-boxing. He's an active little guy-- and he's already 3 lbs.

After this week of adventure, I must have been worn out, because after lunch yesterday I hit the LoveSac and couldn't stand up again for several hours. =]

Quotes of the Week:

Camryn: "Our house is beauty-ful! Let's stay there forever."

Jared: "If you do $1000 for the fun run, you get the biggest prize ever! So mom, you'd better start saving."

Camryn: "When you play Wii baseball, if someone catches the ball you get an out. But sometimes you get a single."

Jared: "Mom, do you want to buy some flowers from me? They cost either $5 or 5 cents."

Camryn (in the dressing room at the mall): "Why did God make all of these walls?"

Jared: "I don't get hurt anymore because I'm 6." "I get to eat more treats than Camryn because I’m 6."

Camryn: "I miss marty-dog. He's the best dog."

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