Thursday, November 26, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
There is much to be thankful for.

I'll be back to update early next week.
Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cars: the necessary evil

Ever have one of those days? Yeah, I'm having one of those months. The weather is changing. For the first time in forever I needed to address the weather and my car. My tires were, um, bald. Not receeding, or wearing out, but treadless. Fortunately, we'd been saving and we bought four very expensive tires for my "free" car. Not that we're snobby about tires, only that my car is huge and therefore requires huge, expensive tires. Cha-ching.

On our trip up the mountain to move out to this snow laden state, our check engine light came on. Hmph. Our battery light had already been on, for about a month while we were back home. We had a few people check it out with no explanation. Well, I have my own explanation: It's a FORD! An evil Ford. Anyway, we made it up and over the Continental Divide without problem and after we'd settled a bit in our home I decided it was probably time to figure out why the engine light was still on.

Mistake #1. We took it to a Ford dealership. My superior thinking was that they'd be able to figure everything out, including why the battery light was on for no apparent reason. After about 8 hours of our car in their care we decided to give them a call. "Oh yeah, we were just about to call you." Rrrright. After going over everything that was apparently wrong with our free car, they wanted $2800.00 to fix it. *blink blink* Um. No. We decided to just pay for them to do the oil change. Our bill? $136.00. Again with the blinking. Apparently, there was a $100 diagnostic fee they forgot to tell us about. To their credit, after we looked at the guy with the deer in the headlights look and explained that we weren't told about the fee, he took it off. Still, $36 for an oil change? Rip off!!

Then the snow came. We had a blizzard. In October. The car sat in the garage for three days while we were all housebound. No work, no school, no nuthin'.

On Bill's first day back at work, he took my car. My car decided it was sick. I know it caught swine flu while sitting in that filthy Ford dealership. Now the check engine light was not only on, it was blinking. Blinking light = REALLY bad!!

Mistake #2: Took the car back to the dealership and asked why they broke our car. Did they take responsibility for it all of a sudden not working. Pshaw. Of course not. I mean, it was fine before they had it, not after they had it, obviously they didn't do anything wrong. This is where I realize that they see a California license plate and the fact that it's a big SUV and assume we have money. Ha! Jokes on them. We're military. We don't have any money!! Husband is beyond mad and threatening to write to everyone just short of the White House to complain. I calmly walk him back to the car, petting him to keep him calm.

We take it somewhere else. Somewhere that a friend recommended. A bunch of money later and 8 replaced boots or shoes or some sort of footware on the cylinders and all new spark plugs, we drive away. Battery light is still on. But the engine light is off. And at least it can get above 45mph.

After a week of searching the internet and youtube and reading manuals, my not-mechanic turned mechanic hubby replaces the alternator AND the brake booster. Did you know brakes had boosters? Me either. Oh, and did you know that evil Ford makes their alternators so that you can't just take them down to the local auto store to have them tested? They need special equipment? Oh and did you know that if you wanted to actually fix something on a Ford in a time less than a weekend, you need special Ford tools?? Yeah, don't EVER buy a Ford. I just kept telling myself that it was free and I haven't had a car payment in three years. Maybe I was chanting it, I can't remember. I think I may have lit a candle, and I'm not even Catholic.

Mistake #3: We go to the gas station. It was then that my hubby and I realized that the lowest grade of gas, which we've been putting in our car since we got it, is NOT 87 in Colorado like it is back in California. It's 85. 85? Really? I thought the lowest grade was standard across the board? For three months we've been putting in 85, not even thinking that it wasn't our usual 87. Um...did we break our car? Why was it ok up until the point that the dealership had it? Dangit!! Why didn't the welcome package warn us about gasoline?! This place has crazy blizzards in October and lower grade gas? Where are we?!

Thankfully we've learned that with a little confidence, my husband can fix my car (there was no other option) and we should be able to hang on to it until Trey is driving it to school in eight years. That is, unless we keep putting the wrong gas in it.

Oh, and the battery light is still on.

Friday, November 06, 2009


Today was gorgeous. It felt like a normal day back home. Sunny and 75. Oh how I miss my predictable weather! I really feel like I'm part lizard. When the sun is out and the weather is warm, my work production goes up. I can go on for hours. I'm motivated and happy. When it's cold or grey outside, I can't hardly manage to function let alone get anything else done. My to-do list for this house is HUGE! I thought that having our very first home that we own would help my motivation. Hmm, apparently not. Today was different. I painted. For six hours. Both of my kids had a day off from school which meant time outside for them and time to work for me! I am covered in specks and sploshes of lime green and lavender and I'm tired in a very good way. My husband is on his way home from work, Chipotle in hand and I feel like I can say that today was great.

Tomorrow, the weather is supposed to be just as nice. I'll be painting again, but instead of the walls, it will be me. Our annual Marine Corps Ball is in downtown Denver tomorrow. This will be the 14th ball I've attended. They're all magical in their own little way. I wish we had good friends coming with us like we've had in the past, but a date night with my hubby will be just fine with me.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Halloween in Colorado

I really wasn't sure what Halloween would be like for us this year, but I knew it would be a lot different than the norm for our family. Last year, we thought we'd be in Georgia by now. Obviously, that didn't happen but we did end up far from home. Anyway, we went trick or treating with some friends last year and had a great time but it was HOT. Like, crazy hot. No apple cider to warm us up when we were done or anything traditional like that. Sweaty kids want something cold!

This year in Colorado the snow came early and fierce. The sky was finally clear on Halloween night, but my kids still had to wear layers (huh?) and make sure to walk around the snow to get to different homes. Leah had to wear clothing underneath her costume, which was her ballet recital outfit from June. She ended up looking like a young Abby Sciuto with her stripes and crazy colored hair. I thought she looked pretty cute but if I'd let her know the she looked kinder-goth it wouldn't have gone well with her "princess ballerina" mentality.

I ended up taking this picture because it just struck me as funny.

And then my neighbor, who we went out with to raid houses, made fun of me. What? Snow on Halloween is funny. A snowman is hilarious in its absurdity. Can I help it if this is weird to me?

Here's one of my kids and the neighbor kids. If Darth looks familiar, well, it's because he came with us last year. What can I say? I'm frugal and the costume still fit. He was good with it, so double score for me!

We only made it around the block before my kids were popsicles and we decided to call it a night. They still got tons of loot. Now I know for next year to get a costume that can be layered multiple times.