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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Toy Drive Update

I just want you all (my 4 readers) to know that I put my money where my mouth is & bought a fine looking purple bike with streamers for the toy drive. It's fit for about an 8-10 year old princess, whom I 'm sure will love it!  Thank you to Melissa Dunstan for donating a helmet for the bike! Everyone knows that you cannot ride a bike without a helmet nowadays.  Brain injuries are preventable!  Melissa is part of Flagstaff Biking, which does so many great things for our community.  I hope you considered donating to a toy drive this year...or donating to the food bank...or to a charity of your chosing.  Wherever makes your soul feel good. 

Winter Solstice

Can I just tell you how happy December 21st makes me?  To some, it is the beginning of winter.  To me, it is the beginning of our days getting just a bit longer...one minute each day (until June 21st).  Why do I know this?  Because I hate the dark.  I crave sunlight.  December 21st is the darkest day of the year...June 21st is the brightest day of the year.  Something about winter makes me a little sad...I've come to realize it's the dark.  The cold, cold Flagstaff temps are part of it, for sure.  But it's the dark that sucks the life out of me.  So this is a day to celebrate!  The sun will come up earlier tomorrow!  We will ignore the part about today being the start of winter...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Family Photos

We had the pleasure of having family photos taken, spur of the moment, with Flagstaff photographer, Melissa Dunstan.  I've known Melissa for a few years & I've wanted to have our photos taken by her for just as long.  She offered this snow shoot & I had to take advantage of it!  Hope you enjoy the photos as much as we do!












Best experience ever!  Thanks Melissa for such a fun shoot!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Soapbox

2010
Why do you think we dressed up like this?  Because the outfits were cute?  I don't think so.

I left the house today to pick up a few things: groceries, maybe a Christmas present or two, a gift for the toy drive. I ended up getting quite a few toys for the toy drive. I tend to donate the most to the Northern Arizona Law Enforcement/CASA Toy Drive (for obvious reasons) & it was a big event for us at my old store.

Out on my walk a little later in the day I had a few thoughts about donating to toy drives & how awesome it is to make a kids day. I was thinking how fabulous it would be to donate bikes & helmets...at most a $60 purchase...and how that purchase would affect me & even you. You may be thinking $60 is too much to spend for a kid you don’t know, but consider this:

$60 is one dinner out for my family of 3 at a place like Chili’s
$60 is 6 trips to Starbucks for my husband & I
$60 is less than I spend on my water bill
$60 is 2 cases of beer
$60 is 1 trip to Target for junk I don’t need
$60 is random cash I waste on fast food, junk food, random unnecessary things

Just remember that $60 can make one child incredibly happy. Don’t you think it’s worth it?

The Fall & Rise of Santa

We got home around 10:00 pm on Friday night to find our blow up yard Santa had been slain. 
Santa was stabbed 6 or so times.  Someone definitely had a beef with Santa!  All our other lawn blow ups were perfectly fine (Frosty & a tree).  Don had a melt down of epic proportions.  If you know my husband, he's as level headed as they come.  He does not have melt downs.  He just doesn't.  But seeing Santa murdered on the front lawn sent him over the edge.  Thankfully, my mom is a sewing genius & she fixed him right up!

Now we don't have to cancel Christmas (told you he was mad!) 

Santa is proudly standing once again!

It should be noted that we are all a little on edge now.  The whole time we were at the parade we were worried that Santa's killer would come back & get him again.  We let out a big sigh of relief when we got home & he was standing proud.  His lights don't work anymore but we're hoping to fix that today.

Holiday Light Parade

(Please pardon my phone photos...my camera is still not back...but it's been shipped!  Woohoo!)

Don, Kendall & I took the boys (Ray & AJ) to the Holiday Light Parade party that my friend Debra throws at Realty Executives.  It's located right on the main street that the parade passes through & has perfect viewing!  Not to mention the best cookies, ever,  cocoa, cider, coffee, heat lamps & fire pits.  Oh yeah, this is the life!  She has ruined me for all other parades!  While we waited for the parade they showed Jim Carrey's Christmas Carol on a big screen & Mrs. Claus made an appearance.  Barb & Dan came with Jadyn, Ryan & Annalise.  The kids played, picked on Uncle Donnie & just had a fabulous time!

I didn't get many photos...taking them with your phone limits your options...but here are a few:
AJ, Auntie & Ray 

Me & my kiddo


My good friend Maria


Ray & AJ


Don & me 


There were a lot of fire trucks!

Silly hats provided by Debra.  The boys loved them!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My kiddo

Kendall & I have been getting along really well lately...knock on wood!  Oh, we still fight...let's not delude ourselves!  But things are so much more, hmmmm, level.  I don't think either one of us really gets where the other one is coming from (I swear I'm just being bossy when I'm trying to help!).  She's stubborn as a mule (wonder where she gets that from, ha!).  Super opinionated (fine, blame me!).  And really fun to be around. 

Lately we've been "bonding" over the TV show One Tree Hill.  We're about 50 episodes into 170 of them.  And we are both addicted!  What's really funny is that we both hold it over each others heads to get the other one to do something.  "No OTH if you don't get your homework done."  "Mom, don't mention tutoring again or we won't watch OTH."  haha.  It's pretty entertaining around here.  But hey, I'm the mom of a 17 year old daughter & she actually wants to spend time with me?  How cool is that?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Camera-less

12/31/09

At the moment I am camera-less.  I feel like I'm missing something very important...like I'm constantly forgetting something.  But alas, it had to go to the camera doctor...what feels like months ago.  Really, it's only been a few weeks.
8/28/11

See that spot to the left of Don's head?  Its on every photo I've taken for months.  I thought it was processing...I didn't really pay attention to it.  Then I got the bright idea that there was lint on my image processor.  And I cleaned it.  As instructed by a random website.  Note to self:  don't do that again.  First of all, you should never touch your image processor.  Who knew?  I think in January I might have known...you know, the first time I sent it in.  But my brain conveniently forgot that detail.  So I used some lens cleaning solution (for eyeglasses, mind you) & a cotton swab, as directed, & got to cleaning.  I just made matters worse.  I got the spot to go away.  And created about 100 more.  I'm exaggerating but I certainly didn't fix the problem.

 Horrible photo 10/29/11 being used to illustrate horrible spot.

11/9/11

So for now, all of my photos are taken with my phone.  And while they are fun & funky, I miss my Nikon.  It may be old & battered, but I do love it.  Here's hoping it's back for the light parade this weekend!

9/10/11

(There's something to be said for busy backgrounds...they make the spots disappear!)

Monday, December 5, 2011

When I Grow Up...

I want to:

...be a cupcake maker
...a photographer
...to travel the country with my husband in a Mini Cooper convertible, pulling a T@B trailer
...be financially free
...the best mom & wife I can be
...a gardener
...a professional blogger
...be happy & carefree

I reserve the right to add to this list at any moment.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Frosty

Frosty makes me happy.  I love coming home & seeing his happy face greeting me.  He's what I look forward to most every Christmas.  How could you not love this face?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Not So Mini Tale

Thanksgiving was supposed to be a nice, quiet day.  It started out that way.  I walked with Audra in the morning, worked on Christmas cards for my fizzy friend,

watched a little tv with Kendall & then headed over to my niece Becky's house for Thanksgiving lunch.  Don had to work so Kendall & I hopped in the Mini Cooper & went to hang out.  Becky just moved & I'd only been to her new house a few times so Kendall & I had to use "Joan" (Don's navigation in his phone) to find it.  Many confusing twists & turns later, we arrived.  We walked into Becky's house to see about 40 people we had no idea who they were.  For a minute or two we thought that maybe we had walked into the wrong house...and then thank heavens, Ben ran through the house!  We played with the kids a bit on the trampoline (really, I watched them play on it...trampolines are not my thing).
(That's Ben)
We were in the midst of having a lovely Thanksgiving lunch when there was a knock at the door.  It seems that a young lady was backing out of the driveway across the street & hit the gas instead of the brake & hit my Mini Cooper.  
I was surprisingly calm, cool & collected.  The girl, a 20 year old college student, was dog sitting for her cousin & driving her boyfriends big Dodge pick up.  She was so upset she couldn't speak.  The boyfriend called his dad & we all just hung out in the freezing cold while we waited for the police to take the report.  Totally calm & cool.  That is, until I tried to drive my car home.

It sounded like I was dragging a shopping cart underneath the car.  It was screeching & the interior of the car smelled like gas.  Everything I said as I explained it to Don, Kendall disagreed.  And I just lost my cool.  Turns out the fender was cutting a deep groove in my tire & we were only able to go a few miles.  Don had to pick us up in a patrol car & take us home.  And I was seething mad.  Not at the girl, not at all.  At the situation.  At my husband for telling me my car was safe to drive home.  At Kendall for choosing that very time to be right & tell me I was wrong.  I came home, had a glass of wine & began to relax & be cool with it all again.  She had insurance.  I have insurance.  They'll make my car right.  It'll be ok.  

When Don got off we headed over to my brothers in-laws house for my side of the family Thanksgiving dinner.  We had a great time just hanging out & eating good food.  Even took a few photos:
(Ray & Me)

I love this photo of Kendall & I with Bob-o peeking up from behind!
(AJ & Me)

The day after Thanksgiving I went shopping with Audra & my dad, while Don called our insurance (Progressive, if you must know).  They told us to file a claim with them & they would handle everything, get us a rental car & get reimbursed from the other insurance (Geico).  Other than Enterprise not having any cars for a day & a half, it all went pretty smoothly.  Don got our car towed to McCoy Motors Body Shop (yeah, I didn't know they had one either, but our insurance said we needed to use them).  They looked over the car & told us that it had a lot of damage & they'd need to replace the quarter panel.  Silly me, I believed them.

Don just happen to stop by the body shop Monday or Tuesday to talk to them about our tires.  Insurance was only going to pay a small portion of the damage to the tire & we knew we'd have to get at least one more new tire & wanted to know how to go about that.  Don talked to the mechanic who was working on our car who told him that the insurance company decided to repair, not replace our quarter panel.  The mechanic was pretty adamant that it needed to be replaced, but hey, the insurance wouldn't cover it.  I am embarrassed to say, I flipped out.

Please understand that I know it is just a car.  I'd been telling myself that for days.  But it is just a car that I love.  One that is paid off.  In pretty damn good condition.  And now we're being told they're going to beat the dents out & put it back together.  Don told them he was not ok with them using Bondo & they assured us that, while time consuming, they would be able to reshape the metal without Bondo.  At this point, we were both pissed.  Don called our insurance agent, who called the adjuster (who, by the way, never once called anyone back for a whole week--the adjuster).  We were told we just had to do the repair as it was written.  My agent looked into it & said that the body shop had written "repair" on the claim & the adjuster went with what the body shop said.  So basically, she blamed the body shop.  A full week of back & forth banter with our agent accomplished nothing.  Really, nothing could be done til we talked to the adjuster.

On Friday Don went back to the body shop to check on the car.  A different Progressive adjuster was there & sensing that my husband was pissed offered to look into it.  She said that our car was authorized for a repair only, not a replacement.  And tried to tell him why this was ok.  He wasn't convinced, but it didn't change anything.  They told him to come back at 5:30 & our car would be ready.

So we got there at 5:20 & they were washing our car (it should be noted that there was a blizzard outside, but they were washing our car).  30 minutes later, they proudly showed us our car & bragged about how the dent was complicated & they had to use quite a bit of Bondo.  I could bite my tongue no longer.  I told them about the fiasco about repair vs. replacement.  About Don telling them Bondo was not acceptable.  About the mechanic telling him it needed to be replaced.  About our agent blaming the body shop.  (The body shop claims that it was the adjuster just trying to save Progressive some money.)  Everyone just stood around blaming everyone else.  They told us replacing the quarter panel would actually affect the integrity of our car adversely.  Basically, they tried everything they could to make what they had done acceptable.  I left livid...beyond livid. 

Now I have my car back.  It looks fine.  The gas cover is looser than it was.  You can't tell it was hit.  We have new tires on it as of this morning (4 of them...merry Christmas to us! pooh.)  My car has Bondo on it.  It's supposedly under lifetime warranty, but only if the Bondo cracks & falls off, which is bullshit.)  I have lingering doubts about the legitimacy of repair vs. replacing the quarter panel.  I wonder if you ran a car facts on my car if it would show that it was damaged, lowering it's value.  I am not happy with my insurance for cutting corners.  I am not happy with the body shop for not telling us from the start what was happening.  I wonder why the person who got hit has to deal with all this crap while the one who did it just had to tell her parents.  And now I wonder if I will enjoy my car like I did before.  I know that sounds stupid & melodramatic but this whole experience has just rubbed me the wrong way.  It may become Don's car & I'll drive our old Pathfinder.  Right now my favorite thing...is not.  And I realize that in the big scheme of life, this does not matter at all.  Really, I do. 

So there you have it:  my mini tale.  And I don't ever want to talk about it again.  I've wasted enough energy on this.  Time to focus on something else.  Something happy (like our family photo shoot tomorrow!).

(Before you think I've completely gone off the deep end & need medication, you need to know that the car was just one of many things that have gone wrong in the past couple of months:  the dog almost died, our main breaker on the house flipped & had to be replaced...with much drama from the City, our mac computer went in for repairs that took three trips to Phoenix to accomplish, I'm having carpal tunnel pain from all the typing I do at work, and then the car.  Just one thing after another.)

Captain America & Klout

There is a social media website called Klout that rates your interaction with others via social media activities such as blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Klout rates the topics you discuss on your social media & tells you which topics you are influential in.  When I signed up, Klout told me that I was influential in Flagstaff, photography & Captain America.  Which I found to be awesome!  But depending on what things you talk about, your Klout influences can change.  I was dismayed to find out that mine changed to Flagstaff, food & moms.  Not that I don't love talking about food & talking about being a mom.  I just thought it was super cool to be influential in Captain America, whom I love.  So now we're going to bring Captain America back to my influential topics list!
This happens to be my favorite Captain America photo.  And I'm sure you'll think I'm kidding, but at work, my background on my monitors is a slideshow of Captain America photos from the Windows Live library.  They rotate on my background throughout the day & make me quite happy.

Please understand that my love of Captain America really has nothing to do with the comic book.  I've never read it.  I just happen to like Chris Evans...he's the "flame on!" dude from the Fantastic Four movies.  He just seems sweet & down to earth.  And he's a hottie!  Plus, the movie was very entertaining.  I love how they made him super tiny & then this amazing super hero.  I know, silly, but it keeps me entertained!

But when it comes to superheroes I am a fickle girl & soon they will start talking about the new Batman: The Dark Night Rises movie (which I just found out will be released on my birthday!), which will take Captain America's place.  And hopefully I'll be able to say I am influential in Batman!  It's good to have goals, don't you think?