Thursday, July 24, 2014

So much going on right now – Part II

When I last left you Followers, we were getting bombarded visited by family members and I still needed a car. Well, that all has changed. We’re back to normal capacity around the house, and the vehicle situation has been resolved. Speaking of the car situation, I paid my BMW off about a month ago, and have yet to receive my title in the mail from the DMV. I have called them twice now and have basically gotten the same “meh” attitude where they told me it was in “print pending” status and it would be a few more business days until I received it. Well here it is, another week later and I still don’t have it. It amazes me every day how any government agency gets any work done.

So on Friday I emailed the claims jerk whom I’ve been dealing with this whole time and explained what the DMV told me. He called back about an hour later and basically said, “Have you found a new car yet? No? Yeah… I’m gonna need you to take the rental car back by the end of the day Monday. We’ve had you in that thing for a month and a half.” To which I replied, “Fine,” and promptly hung up on him. Looks like Mommy B and I had our weekend plans made for us! Since the last Honda place sold the car I had transferred here to some other sucker someone else, our options were wide open. We stopped by a small dealership near our house to check out a couple cars that Mommy B had found online, and test drove a couple cars they had on the lot. Well as luck would have it, Mommy B fell in love with a 2010 Lexus HS 250 hybrid that had a killer price tag on it. After doing a little homework over the weekend and making sure the car checked out, I told Mommy B that since I hadn’t found a car I was really excited about, if she found a car that she really liked I would get it for her and I would drive her Pilot. She was a little resistant to the idea at first, but eventually came around with a little convincing. Besides, it was her turn to get a newer car anyway – annnnnnd I felt that this could serve as an early graduation present. Hopefully I earned myself some brownie points in the process. So I took a half day on Monday to return the rental car and buy Mommy B a shiny new Lexus. Technically it’s used, but it’s new to us. And it’s very pretty, much like its new owner.

Now, about those kids…

Alli is really starting to assert her independence these days… which is a good thing and a bad thing. The good part is that she knows what she wants, when she wants it, and can tell us such. The bad part is that she knows what she wants, when she wants it, and can definitely tell us such. She has become very easy to take care of – as long as you have the clothes and food she wants. If she can pick out her own “pretty clothes” and her own meal, she’s a happy camper and will go with the flow. But God forbid something in there goes wrong, and it’s potential for meltdown central. Everything is a crisis these days, whether it’s because she only got 2 crackers instead of 3 (since she’s 3) or it’s that Aiden said “No” when she asked him if he was her best friend for the tenth time that day. She has even mastered the taddle-tale voice already. You know the kind, “Aiden won’t share with meeeeee…” or “I need my magic waaaaaand…” But she is still so smart and remembers everything – which I know I’ve been saying forever. She actually used the word ‘otherwise’ in a sentence the other day, correctly. I looked down at her and just shook my head. I hate that she has a late birthday, because I really think she needs to be in kindergarten by the time she’s 5. If she has to wait until she’s almost 6, that’s going to be tough.

Aiden is talking more and more as well. I’m sure that having a fluent big sister around has helped his cause, and we can tell that he has picked up on a lot of the things she says. His vocabulary has exploded and he’s able to pronounce almost any word that he’s trying to say. And if he can’t say it, he’ll point (or drag you) to whatever it is he wants or needs. He’s almost as tall as Alli it feels like, but they both are growing so fast. He still loves playing outside, moving toys around (mostly the big ones), and going for rides in things. He wants to help with anything and everything, especially if it involves tools or the vacuum. He’s also figured out how to plug something into an electrical socket, which we found out a few weeks ago. Luckily there was no incident involved, but we found one of our phone chargers randomly hanging out of the socket and knew someone had figured it out.

We tried taking both of them to the movies this past weekend because the weather was crappy. The new Planes: Fire & Rescue movie had just come out and they both loved the first one, so we figured it would be a good chance to see how they would do. Well, whatever idiot decided that starting a kids movie with 20 minutes of previews was a good idea should be taken out back and force-fed baby food until they explode. Aiden did great for about an hour, but at that point he was ready to get moving. I went out into the lobby with him while Mommy B stayed a little while longer with Alli. After about 15 more minutes, I saw them coming out as well. We were actually able to get our tickets refunded due to having to leave the movie early, so that was nice. It was the first pleasant customer service experience I’ve had in a long, long time.

Meanwhile, Mommy B’s graduation can’t get here fast enough. She has less than a month to go, and we’re both very excited that the end is so close. We’re planning on making a trip to Ohio sometime this summer or fall and it’ll be the first time the kids have ridden on an airplane together. Technically, Alli rode on one when she was about one year old, but Aiden never has. I scoured the Interwebs to find direct flights to and from our destination, as the smallest amount of time spent in a small, confined space is going to work out best for everyone. We’ll see how the flying with small children goes, but I know Mommy B is looking forward to some much needed R&R. Aren’t we all…

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

So much going on right now – Part I

I know I’ve been neglecting you, Followers. And that is never my intent. As many of you know, or can tell from reading this blog, our lives are rarely short on action. There is always something going on, something moving (literally and figuratively), or something changing. It is this constant flurry of action that often tears me away from being able to post for sometimes weeks at a time. Naturally, that just snowballs as more things happen the longer I wait to catch y’all up. Let’s see if I can recount the happenings…

Back in November of 2012, I bought my dream car from a neighborhood friend. A platinum-gray 2008 BMW 535i with the Sport and Performance package, twin-turbo 300-horsepower engine, murder-tint on the windows… you get the idea. Alli used to say, “Daddy, you have a race car!” I promise I didn’t speed with the kids in the car, but she thought it looked like a race car. Well, on May 29th, 2014, that dream came to an end. As I was sitting at a red light on my way home from work, about to turn into our new neighborhood, a gentleman in a Chevy Silverado 2500 must have been too preoccupied with his phone (or something) and barreled into me. He hit me so hard that it pushed my car halfway into the turn lane, jarred the sunroof shade completely back into the roof cavity, and sent my work badge flying from its home in the center console all the way into the back seat. The rear bumper and left tail light were obliterated, the trunk lid was folded in half, and the rear windshield completely dislodged and shattered – glass was everywhere. By the grace of all that is holy, I was not injured by this idiot’s negligence. And more importantly, the kids were not in the car. I don’t even want to think about the emotional scarring it could have caused much less any physical injuries caused by being in the back seat so close to the impact.

I knew the moment I got out of the car and looked at the damage that the car was totaled. Well, the gentleman’s insurance company didn’t think so (at first). I can’t even begin to tell you the number of phone calls and haggling I’ve had to do to get this situation handled. It started off with the claims representative who got my claim taking a week’s vacation right after it got filed – without telling anyone (like, say, me) and without delegating his workload to anyone at the office. When he finally got back and around to returning my numerous voicemails, we had a situation of getting the car released from the tow yard where it had been taken the day of the accident and over to the body shop. Countless back and forth, dealing with shady tow truck drivers, idiot appraisers and everyone’s favorite, the DMV, have made the last month a total nightmare to deal with. On the up side, I’ve been driving a rental car for free ever since the day after the wreck (and still am to this day).

We finally got the situation down to a matter of finances after the body shop found more damage that wasn’t in the original estimates that put the cost of repairs above the 75% threshold to consider the car totaled. The insurance company offered me $18,120.26 to buy the car out and call it a day, or $16,025.26 and I could keep the car and do whatever I wanted with it. Well, a friend of Grandma C suggested I contact some salvage yards and see what they would be willing to pay me for the car in its current state. I found a buyer who was willing to pay me $5,200 for the car as-is. Well, for Johnny Thinwallet here, that’s a no-brainer. By doing a little more legwork myself and hanging on to the car a little bit longer, I could make myself another $3,105? I’ll take what’s behind Door #2, Monty. (Sorry, Old Guy reference). So my poor car now hides in shame in our garage, waiting for the salvage title to come back so she can be taken away and sold at auction, likely to be stripped for parts. Talk about a drag – walking past her every morning on my way out of the house. I hate to quote a cheesy line from a Disney movie, but this seems to fit quite nicely, “I guess that’s the good part about dreams… now you get to go find a new one.”

So the hunt is on for a new car. I had been eyeing a Honda Accord I found online, and even had a dealership bring it here from Concord, North Carolina (just north of Charlotte). I test drove it and loved it even more. That experience ended with me walking out of the dealership after the sales manager refused to negotiate with me on the price whatsoever. And they wonder where the saying “worse than a used-car salesman” comes from? I’m offering you cash, dude, WTF? The saga continues…

To help alleviate some of the stress, Grandma C came to visit for a whole week. She went into full grandma-mode, which basically means I barely saw my kids the entire time she was here. While I can’t say I was bummed about the much-needed “break,” by the end of the week I felt like I had really missed out on spending time with them. But I certainly didn’t want to take away from Grandma C’s time with them, since she only gets to see them once every couple months or so. However, I don’t think Grandma C wanted to spend time with them the way that she did, where both of them were a bit under the weather and prolonged periods of, um… lower digestive issues. If you know what I mean and I think you do. To make matters worse, I was not immune to whatever had inflicted the kiddos, as I battled the stomach bug for a few days myself. Nothing like spending the 4th of July in the bathroom!

The day Grandma C left, Grandpa Ron and Uncle Jacob arrived. They stayed with us for the weekend of the 4th of July so they could see the kiddos as well. I still wasn’t feeling fabulous, but the kids were finally starting to come around to the healthy side. We decided to keep the kids up late and take everyone out on Pops’ boat to see the fireworks in the Charleston harbor. Around 8pm we loaded everyone on the boat and headed down the river, and dropped anchor just in front of the aircraft carrier that they shoot them off from. It was a heck of a sight, and the kids seemed to really enjoy the experience. They even slept in the next morning until 9am! I can’t even remember the last time I slept that late, much less them sleeping until that hour.

So after almost a week and a half of being spoiled, loved on, bussed around, and playing hookie from school, the kids are getting back into their normal routine. Everyone finally seems to be feeling better (myself included), which of course makes Mommy B and I’s lives much more pleasant. It’s a good thing too; we were starting to run low on sheets for everyone! We get a few days reprieve playing host before Uncle Tom comes to town. He’ll only be staying with us for a couple days, then staying in a rental on the beach (like a real vacation?) for the rest of the week. He’s got it figured out – only staying in the nut house for a couple days before running off to hide at the beach. Man, when do Mommy B and I get to do that again?