Monday, July 27, 2009

Kiddie Park Videos!

I took several videos, most of them short clips. Here are a couple! :)

I apologize for the silly background commentary. I'm a mom...it happens.

video


video

Cars, Boats, the Train...It's Kiddie Park!

For a long time I thought of Kiddie Park as kind of silly - in the "this is so cheap/run down/NOT Six Flags and seriously, do these kids even have fun?" kind of way. I mean, I do remember it as being totally COOL when I was little. I loved the boats and the ferris wheel, the cars and the turtle roller coaster. But then I worked there as a teenager and the entire thing lost its appeal. Trying to teach a 4 year old how to drive a bumper car...not fun. "Push the pedal, turn the wheel." Yawn!

Then Brenden came along and changed the way I see things, not just this little park in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, but several different things. A night out, movies, bedtimes, what constitutes "fun", what TV shows I watch during the day, how the grocery money should be spent (who knew I would ever pick a better formula over pizza?!?), even how I fix my hair.

We've been to Kiddie Park with Brenden before. The huge difference between last summer and this summer is the fact that Brenden can walk and actually enjoy the rides. It's free to get in and tickets are only $0.25 a piece, with most rides only taking one ticket, and I ended up spending $5.00 and having some left over. Even though you cannot turn left over tickets in or get money back you can bring the same tickets back and use them later. Amazingly cheap AND entertaining.

Just like last year, we met up with my cousin Delayna and her twin boys, Jackson and Dillon, who are 3 years old. Brenden is totally impressed by his older cousins, which drives them crazy most of the time, but they get along fairly well. Dillon even let Brenden ride with him on the rides when his brother wasn't interested. The first ride was the cars. I'm pretty sure most people who have been to Kiddie Park remember these cars. Most of those cars have been at the park since it opened...back when my mom was a child. I was slightly nervous about putting Brenden in them. I remember the injuries we had when I worked there - kids getting their fingers stuck in the tires was the worst one. To my surprise, Brenden kept his hands on the steering wheel and enjoyed every minute.

Vroom Vroom!

The next ride was the boats, which is when my mommy brain took over. Here was my little boy, smiling like the Cheshire Cat, having a blast on a ride that I clearly remember from my childhood. It was a strange moment, and my heart almost burst with love. I'm not sure why it hits me so hard at the most random times. Noticing how he is growing up, watching him enjoy the little things, like a $0.25 boat ride, seeing how he wants to help when his cousin cries or wanting to include everyone so they all have fun - its hard to put those feelings into words.

Oh yes, the boats. Walking up to the gate I thought for sure he was too short. There is a line posted that he must be taller than, and I just knew he was going to be too short and would be SO upset when I didn't let him ride them. So I walked him up and stood his next to it...only to be shocked when he was at least 3 inches taller than he needed to be. Growth spurt? Yes, sir. We managed to get the twins and Brenden into one boat, which worked out very well. They floated along, pretending to drive (which isn't a stretch for Brenden) while I tried to keep from crying. :)

:)

Next stop, the turtle roller coaster. It's not really much of a ride. It goes around in a circle and over a few humps and that's it, but it's enough for little kids, especially my 22 month old. The first time I rode with him. He very bravely draped his arms over the back of the seat and held on and I sat there with my mouth open, amazed at how much older he looked. See...the mommy brain kicked in, again! The next time he rode with Dillon and my mom almost had a heart attack when she realized I wasn't going to ride with them. It only took a few seconds for her to see that he was fine, which is probably when her grandma brain went into overdrive! :) You'll have to ask her how she felt about that.

Such big boys!

We made our way around the park and Brenden rode the carousel, the ponies, the big trucks, the ferris wheel (with Dillon again), and even got to sit in a firetruck. Eventually the fact that bedtime had come and gone caught up with him and we made our way to the train for our final ride. He loves the train. Even when he was on other rides he would hear the whistle, perk up, and start yelling, "Train!" Of course he enjoyed the entire ride and was happy to go home after that.

Beep Beep!

He looks like he's trying to get out, but he was having a great time!

Riding the train!

Dillon, Delayna and Jackson

I'm so thankful that Delayna invited us to join them. We all had a great time and I know that Brenden enjoyed it even more because he got to follow his cousins wherever they went. I'm so ready to go back and so happy that my view on this tiny place has changed. Anything that makes my son that happy - especially when it only costs $0.25! - is worth it.

(Even more pictures HERE!)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Go Jump In A Lake!

The title is not at all meant to be insulting to anyone...it's just what Brenden decided to do when we headed out to the lake last weekend. Mike and Connie had seen several different innertubes when they were camping over the 4th of July and asked Tim and me to give our opinions. We ended up agreeing on a HUGE one that could carry 3 people, 2 on each side and one who sits in the middle.

I knew, immediately, that the first ride was going to be scary. It was just Tim and I and Mike was driving. I swear he was dying to throw me off! :) Somehow, I held on the entire time, even when he kicked the boat up to 45 mph. Tim, unfortunately, did not. I think he was thrown off at least 3 times. OUCH!

We met up with our friend Scott and his lovely fiance Leslie and Scott decided to join us on the crazy raft. I sat in the middle and, although it was easier, I swear I shot up at least 3 feet in the air on some of those bumps. Tim and I are STILL sore...and that was 5 days ago.

Tim and Scott wanted to wakeboard so we hopped on Scott's boat and set off. Somehow they convinced me to try to wakeboard as well. Tim and Scott...they've been doing this for years. Scott can even do flips. Me...I think I knee boarded back in middle school. I didn't get up, not once, but my arms took a beating. Maybe someday...

Eventually we headed back to Mike and Connie, who were nice enough to watch Brenden for us while I drank half the lake in my failed wakeboarding attempts. We decided to relax on the raft and Brenden wanted to join us. I thought he'd just sit in the middle section and splash in the little water that was there. NOT SO! Our crazy child stood up, stepped to the edge, and jumped at Tim. (He had a life jacket on and has been swimming in it every time we go to the lake. He knows he absolutely HAS to have it on. He was safe...it was just scary!) When we finally got over our shock I asked Connie to take a video of him. He was so excited to keep doing it! And once, when he was jumping to Mike, he went under water. I thought for sure he was done and wouldn't do it again. I guess those swimming classes are paying off, though, because he stepped back up to the edge and jumped right back in. No fear!

He also had a fabulous time at swimming today. He was the guinea pig for jumping into the pool to the instructor and he did very well. He even went under and came up asking to jump again. CRAZY KID.



I have had the worst time trying to load this video. I hope it works now...even if it's HUGE across your screen.

Other interesting things that have happened since I tried to post this yesterday:

- Our realtor called to let us know our appraisal came back just fine (YAY!) but that the underwriting was taking longer than expected so we won't close on the 31st. (BOO!) I'm not concerned. They have already moved in and are totally okay with paying us rent. I doubt they are going to back out of buying it after going through so much trouble, moving in, paying us rent, switching the utilities. Someday I'll be able to post that it's sold. Until then...still doing my subdued happy wiggle.

- Our mail has been a mess for months. I know of at least 2 things that should have been in our mailbox, one of which was a bill and another was a card with money. We haven't seen either and it's been since February. I've called USPS 3 times now and everyone keeps shunting me off to someone else. You can only hear, "I can't help you so I'll get you in contact with someone who can," so many times before you stop believing them. And also, if you send someone a piece of mail with money make sure it's in check form. If it's cash they only hold it for 2 weeks and then they deposit it and it's THEIRS. Finders keepers I guess. I said that 2 weeks was way too short and got a long, snippy reply about how they can't hold things indefinitely and how I should see the mail they have come through and yadda, yadda, yadda...blah, blah, blah. Yeah, dude. Just meant a month would be more appropriate.

- Some dude at the gas station decided to wedge his big truck AND his huge boat next to our car. I knew it was a bad idea but if he hit us that's his problem. I wasn't going to stop putting gas in my car and move just because he couldn't wait 3 minutes. In the process of watching him wedge I heard a terrible noise. I thought for sure he had hit us, but then I realized that our car hadn't moved. He had run into the concrete pillar next to his gas pump. I did tell him I was sorry and that I would move as soon as my gas was done. He didn't look like he blamed me, which would have been dumb anyway, but he was upset. I hope the rest of his weekend is better.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What a difference a week makes.

If you had told me last Monday that this last week was going to be fabulous I think I would have laughed in your face. But now, on this side of the weekend, I can truly say that it was one of the best weeks we have had this year.

Monday started off AWFUL, as many Mondays do. You can read all about our car and the newest drama we had with it here. (It's a looong post...just warning you.) We were still having problems with our property manager. We still couldn't get in touch with the lawn guy so that he could mow our yard and keep it from looking like this again. We heard back from our realtor about the showings we had the previous week. Both of the couples liked the house but neither were interested. Things just were not looking up.

On Tuesday we finally had a ray of hope. Gayle, our realtor, wanted to know if we would be interested in letting someone move into our house before we closed on the sale. In essence, they would be renting until the closing date. They were a military family and their household goods were being delivered very soon and they were hoping to have a house to put all of it in, not a storage place. (That sounds familiar!) After I stopped hyperventilating we decided to run it past Tim's dad to make sure we weren't getting caught up in the idea of having an offer on the house and forgetting to factor in something very important. He said that it sounded like a good plan as long as there was paperwork in place to protect us in case the sale fell through or they changed their minds. We let Gayle know that we would be willing to work with them. I thought we would hear something back from them immediately. When Wednesday morning rolled around I got nervous. Had they changed their minds?

And then, Wednesday afternoon, Tim called to let me know that he was looking at an email that contained their offer. They wanted to move in on the 12th and close by the 31st of July. My head was spinning! We signed the papers that night and by Thursday afternoon we were officially under contract.

Wednesday was also the day that Rick called to let me know that he was standing in our house and that not ONE thing that the property manager had promised to do had been done. The doors were still broken, trash in the garage, holes in the walls, no garage door openers...all after a month and several phone calls where she promised to be done "next week". We didn't have to beg to get Karen and Rick to finish the repairs, although we would have. They went down on Thursday, measured the doors (which ended up being smaller than the ones at Lowes...urgh) and fixed the CO2 detectors. Since they actually have lives outside of fixing our house they weren't able to go back until Saturday, which is when the inspection was going to be done. Gayle wasn't too worried but I knew the inspection is a big hurdle and I was nervous.

Saturday afternoon I was in Bartlesville helping with the Open House/Shoe Sale at the studio when Gayle called with the results. The only things that came up were the things that Rick and Karen planned on fixing that afternoon. WHOO HOO! She was just as shocked as I was. We didn't think anything major would come up, but we also didn't think we would pass that easily. Usually SOMETHING comes up. Technically, I know things did. But we never saw a report and there wasn't anything we weren't expecting.

By late Saturday afternoon Karen and Rick were done. All the doors were whole again (after much cutting, measuring, and other such thing), the holes in the walls were filled, the stove had drip pans again, and the garage door had openers. One of our old neighbors let us know that there were vehicles in the driveway on Sunday and since the paperwork we all signed stated that any repairs that needed to be done after they moved in would be their responsibility I'm guessing they were satisfied.

As of today we have our car back, fully paid for by our insurance. (Although my sanity may have suffered.) We're only 17 days and a few steps away from closing on the house, which was officially on the market for 7 days this time. (MUCH better than the 260 days it was on the market the first time.) We're also expecting the remaining balance of the security deposit from our awful property manager, which will cover the repairs that had to be done. Let's just hope our luck extends to our case against those terrible renters. Although, if it doesn't, we're not going to dwell on it.

See...I told you it was a fabulous week. :)

The car. Oh, the car.

The whole, nasty story of the car last week. Enjoy our misery! (You may want to grab a drink and a snack. It's not short.)

On my way to go get groceries on Monday our car made a terrible noise, like the entire back end had fallen off. When I switched from reverse to drive it kept stuttering and didn't want to go forward. I made it to Walmart (We would not have survived the week if I hadn't. I was home bound for 4 days.) and called Tim who told me it sounded like a U-joint. If you know what that is...awesome. I had no clue. So I did our shopping and decided to just get the car home and go from there. As I put it back into reverse it started shaking, and not in a vibrating-like-a-massage-chair sort of way. It was so bad that my head was being thrown back and forth. I instantly turned the car off and called Tim's dad. (Thanks again, Mike!) He told me to drive slowly and to call a tow truck when I got home. It's less than a mile so I wasn't too nervous...until he told me that driving too fast could drop the drive shaft out of the car. No, I don't know what a drive shaft is, but even I know that something falling off of the car is bad. EEK!

I made it home without anything else falling off the car - that we know of. Towing the car was a mess on it's own. I called our insurance who put in the request to the towing company. Then an automated call told me the tow truck would be at my house in roughly an hour. That was 3:15 pm. Another automated call at 4 pm said it would be 20 minutes. Thirty minutes later that same automated service called to make sure the tow truck had arrived. Um...no. So I was patched through to the tow service who informed me that they had not received the request. WHAT?!?

Another call to USAA. That lady was annnngry. She couldn't get in touch with anyone at the towing service's office so she let me know that she would be putting another request in and that they would never use the previous company again. ("I don't play those games." hehe) I think that guy should be glad she didn't get a chance to rip his head off.

The automated service called again and this time I made sure to get the number for the new towing service so I could call and make sure it had gone through. I almost snorted water out of my nose when they told me the name of the company. Quacked Up Towing Service...oh my. Someone should not have let their 3 year old name their business. :) Luckily it had gone through just fine and the guy showed up on time. He had a bit of trouble getting the car on the flatbed since we're right on Yale but he was nice about it and didn't give me evil eye or anything.

We had it towed to Pep Boys who had fixed our car back in April. They didn't get a chance to look at it until the next morning and when they called they explained that it was a transfer case (no clue what that is, either) in the rear and told me that it needed to go to a transmission shop. I called Tim who then decided to call Barron and Hart, who had fixed our car way back in October when that stupid wheel fell off. They agreed that it was strange for things to be falling apart in the back and told Tim they would have the car towed to their shop. On Wednesday, they called to tell us that it was the rear wheel bearing that had broken the rear axle, which sounded strangely familiar. (Same thing happened in April!) Their adjuster decided it would still fall under our claim from October and that it should be fixed in a few days.

Thursday they called us AGAIN to explain that since Pep Boys had fixed the axle back in April that they were responsible and that our insurance would not be covering it. By that time my head was about to explode. Tim and I had spent several hours on the phone at this point, not to mention the fact that I was car-less for almost the entire week which caused us to miss soccer and dance. (It was the last dance class! GRRR!) So back on the phone Tim jumped to let Pep Boys know that not only had they incorrectly diagnosed our car but that they had messed up in April and would be responsible for this repair. They agreed, thank goodness, and paid to have our car towed BACK to their shop.

(Thankfully at this point Mike and Connie let us borrow their Expedition. I think Brenden and I would have torn each other apart if we had spent one more day stuck in just our house and back yard.)

We thought the ordeal was over. Not so! Friday they called to let us know that the only place that had our axle in stock was Ford and that it would be expensive. My response, "Um...so? You guys are paying for it." I was promptly informed that was not the case and that they had repaired the driver's side in April and that it was the passenger side they were fixing this time. Two different pieces of the same axle...how was I supposed to know that our car was made that way? So I called Barron and Hart who told me that there was no way to confirm that Pep Boys had fixed one side and not the other and that they would not take the car back, even with documentation because it could be "tampered with". OMG people! The finger pointing!

So now I'm back on the phone with USAA, who really were nice about all of this. My only complaint is that they should have been the ones calling these shops, not us. Anyway...they decided to get a physical damage specialist to look at our case, told us not to have Pep Boys do anything, and said to expect a response on Monday. Another call to Tim to let him know what the insurance had said and what to tell Pep Boys and I thought we were done for the night. HAHA! I should have learned by now! Pep Boys calls AGAIN at about 5:30 pm to let us know that the car is done and that they saved the part. Do what?!? You weren't supposed to do anything! But at least the stupid parts were still there for inspection. Poor Tim walked in the door and I attacked him. Did he tell them not to fix the car? No...he forgot that part. After a few slammed doors I called USAA back and let them know that it was done and that they had the parts. And so we waited...

Monday afternoon I called to see what the heck they were doing. I was told to check back and I wasn't going to wait until 4 pm just so they could say "it's past 5 pm on the east coast so you'll have to wait until tomorrow....so I called at 1:30 pm. They were waiting on pictures from Pep Boys of the parts and we just had to sit and stew for another day. Story of our lives...waiting on other people to fix things who like to take their sweet time. (Crappy property manager, anyone?)

So this morning I finally got a call from USAA. They had reviewed our case and decided it was still part of the wreck in October. It would be covered in full. THANK GOODNESS! Tim came home at lunch and we headed over to pick it up. On Thursday the manager of Pep Boys had promised to pay for the bill that we had from Barron and Hart since the car should have never been towed their in the first place. I thought that would be our only problem today. Instead, they happily took that money off of our bill and wished us good luck.

With this car...I think we need all the luck we can get.

Friday, July 10, 2009

That was eventful...

The last few days have been crazy. Wednesday everything that could go right, did. We got an offer on our house. We found out that our car, which had broken down on Monday for the THIRD TIME in 6 months, would be covered by insurance. We were walking on sunshine!

Then reality hit on Thursday. We found out our property manager, who had promised to be done with all the repairs on our house by July 10th, hadn't done a thing. Still had holes in the walls. Still had trash in the garage. Still had 2 doors that were broken and needed to be replaced. STILL NO GARAGE DOOR OPENERS. She's had a month. Needless to say she's been fired. I'm not sure what kind of money is left but she is supposed to have it electronically transferred to us and email us an itemized statement of what she's done with our money. We are also due back the $100 they kept in an emergency fund. We'll see what happens.

Karen and Rick...not sure what we would have done without them. We think, and Gayle, our realtor agrees, that all of their hard work on the yard is what made our house stand out to the buyers. I even told Gayle we should give them part of the commission. :) They have already been back down and taken care of the CO2 monitors we needed in the house for the inspection (new requirement as of July 1st, 2009...just our luck) and we have now had to ask them to fix everything else. We'll obviously be paying them back for everything they've done, plus gas money, and we're planning a trip to go see them so that I can cook meatloaf for Rick and a lobster dinner for Karen. Oh yeah, and they get to see Brenden...which is really what they want. :)

The other lovely thing we found out yesterday was that our insurance WOULD NOT be covering our car since they had already paid for the same repair to be fixed once. We had it towed to Pep Boys on Monday and they said it was a transfer box. Then it was towed to Barron and Hart on Tuesday (they fixed it in October) and they found out it was a bearing that was replaced incorrectly in April which then broke our axle this past Monday. Following me, still? So now, it's back at Pep Boys, who is paying for everything that had to be done at Barron and Hart and who is also fixing everything that is wrong with the car since they are the ones that fixed it wrong in the first place. That is now TWO repair shops that have fixed our car incorrectly. Who in the world can you trust??? Pep Boys not only screwed up in April but they also misdiagnosed it this week. GEESH!

Today has been much better. Mike and Connie let us borrow their Expedition so I have a car and we had a great time at swimming lessons this morning. Brenden did another submersion (I had to do it...eek!) and he did great. We also learned that the buyers were OK with the extra documents we included with the contract (Early Occupancy Agreement, which states that they can't mess up our house, owe us the earnest money if they don't close on the house, etc.) and the inspection is scheduled for tomorrow at 9 am. Fingers crossed!

I hope next week I can keep the good news coming. By August 1st (we're due to close on July 31st) we'll be doing a huge happy dance. Until then, I think we'll just do a subdued wiggle.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

BEST DAY EVER!!!

We just got a contact on our house!!! And they want to close by the end of the month!!! Oh my gosh...this has seriously been the best day I've had in forever! :)

Fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly from here. They want to move in on the 12th (Sunday) and after that they would pay us rent until closing. Once they are in the house we are no longer responsible for any repairs and they accept the house as is.

So on August 1st we are going out to celebrate!!!! :)

Wordless Wednesday

AKA: Way Back Whens-Day....a year ago today. :)

Our Gerber Baby.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Before and After (Karen and Rick's hard work!)

When I said our yard was awful, I wasn't kidding. Karen and Rick spent an entire day out there working on the yard and getting our sprinklers working. Again, a HUGE THANK YOU!!!! :)

BEFORE

It looked abandoned. Not good for showing the house to prospective buyers.

Weeds that could eat you!

FYI - That's a 6 ft fence. TALL weeds.


To top it all off a windstorm blew down 2 sections of our fence.


AFTER


Amazing, right? We owe them so much more than thank yous and a trip out to Colorado but I'm not sure what would really show them how much we appreciate everything they have done, and are still doing. Love you guys!

Oh yeah...this blog thingy.

Hi there! Yep, I've been gone for awhile. I actually haven't been on the computer (I don't count my Blackberry as one, even though it does almost everything our desktop does) in almost a week and a half. Oops! I realized that it had been too long when I received an email from someone asking if our blog was having problems. (Hi, Elaine! Thanks for checking on us!)

Even if I had been online I'm not sure I would have blogged. Who really wants to hear me complain about our cruddy renters and awful property manager again? (STILL haven't heard from either of them. And for some reason the PM needs until July 10th to finish repairs. URGH!) Or another family member in the hospital? (my grandma Halter...something is up with her blood) Or how our car has broken down for the 3rd time? (something "in the back" is what the tow guy said. AGAIN?!?) Or Brenden's molars that are giving all of us a headache? (seriously, 2 months of them is enough) So yeah, not much happy to blog about.

There were a few high lights that I haven't put on here. It's not all gloom and doom, although most days it feels like it. On the 27th I attended my 10 year class reunion. EEK! I learned a lot from Tim when he was planning his and his budget definitely came in handy. My friend, Cassie, handled most of the work and I was more of a sounding board. It would not have happened without her!

Dewey High School - Class of 1999

That morning we had a picnic at Sooner Park in Bartlesville. It was super hot but it turned out that the shade and the breeze made it pretty nice! We all ate hot dogs and hamburgers (Thanks, Shaunda!) and hung out just catching up. We even ended up having a bouncy toy for the kids to play in thanks to the Class of 1984 that was having a very small gathering at the tables near us. That night we had a small but fun gathering at the Canteen. We were entertained with some class member related bingo, 1999 trivia and a seriously funny game that included plungers and rolls of toilet paper. (Thanks, Jeannie! We will not forget that!) It was awesome to see everyone and I think everyone had a good time. I'm excited for the next one...especially since Cassie and I don't plan on planning it! :)

The next day Tim, Sean and I redid the floor in my mom's bathroom. It wasn't exactly the most exciting day for us but my mom was thrilled, so that made it worth it. Brenden was so eager to help. He's already a great helper, loves cleaning and throwing things away. He's pretty good at not throwing random things in there! The only thing I found in the trash that shouldn't have been in there was a sippy cup, and it was empty so I guess he thought that's where it went.

Helping dad cut measure the final tile.

I'll try to keep up with our blog a little better from now on, but I'm not going to make too many promises. Hopefully we'll have some good news, either on the house, the car, or the molars. Somethings got to give, right?

P.S. A HUGE Thank You to Karen and Rick!!! They spent an entire day fighting the humongous weeds (we're talking over 3 feet high) and fixing the fence on our house in Colorado. I'm looking for flights to come out there and fix you that meatloaf, guys! :)

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