Tuesday, September 29, 2015

That Time I Overpaid for a Yaris, Because Any Payment for a Yaris Is an Overpayment

I decided that the best course of action for Lizzi's whirlwind visit to the midwest was to rent a car for the 14 hours of drive-time and to spend the night in a hotel in St. Louis, where we were to meet Dyanne for the next leg of Lizzi's trip across America.

I chose not to bother our family vacation planner (Bryan) with the details. Even though I am not one who prefers making reservations (no plans being my go-to choice for travel), as a grown woman, I figured I could handle this one on my own.

I was wrong.

The rental car to which I was assigned...

- had crank windows.
- was approximately the size of a kids' Barbie Jeep.
- but without the cool color, pretend phone, and convertible features
- had only one windshield wiper. Not because one was broken, but because the car (and thus the windshield) was so small, only one wiper was needed.
- had a teeny, tiny antennae that only picked up signals within a 10 mile radius (Basically I could listen to about 4 songs before I lost the station.)
- didn't have a key fob, but simply a key. No pushing a button to lock and unlock these doors!
- didn't have cruise control.

"Didn't you read the car descriptions when you reserved it?? Why didn't you pay the few dollars to upgrade?" laughed my know-it-all, pompous husband.

"Because I didn't know this kind of car was a possibility!!! Who rents a car that is WORSE than the car they normally drive??" I shrieked. "And so help me if you answer that rhetorical question..."

"Well, I can't wait to see how that cheap hotel reservation you made for the southeast side of St. Louis works out!" 

Bryan was having way too much fun with this turn of events.

How did the car work out you ask?

Well, I got Lizzi to all the places she needed to go safely and on time. That's the good news. The bad news is I irritated just about everyone on I-74, I-55, and I-70 during those three days. I became the annoying person who won't stay a consistent speed, but instead speeds up, passes people, moves into the slow lane, and slows down enough to force the drivers behind her to hit his brakes and mess up their own cruise control before passing her and giving her dirty looks as they do so.

The crappy car became the theme of the visit. 

For example, at one point during our drive through Middle of Nowhere, Illinois, Lizzi made the comment, "I want to buy a lottery ticket at some point."

I replied, "Easy enough! You can get one at any gas station!" This sentence triggered my subconscious, and I took a glance at my gas gauge. 

It was on E.

E for empty.

Not almost to E.

Not a tick away from E.

On E.


After an exhilarating 5 miles of desperate searching, we found a gas station, where I discovered the car had a nine-gallon tank. Nine. Single digit nine. NINE! 

While the adrenaline was still pumping through us, Lizzi went ahead and bought her lottery ticket. A dollar Royal King scratch-off. 

She lost.

Probably because we used up all of her luck on the lack of gas situation.

But the best story comes from Monday when I was all alone driving home from St. Louis.

On Monday morning, I left Lizzi and Dyanne early in the morning to make my way home before school pick-up. Since I had no one to talk to, I was very careful to watch my speed. For most of the trip, I kept it to 2 mph under the speed limit, as there were lots and lots of policemen out, and I didn't want to get nabbed for accidentally going 80.

An hour and a half into the drive, I noticed a blue car traveling behind me. I thought it was odd that a car chose to go 68 in a 70 zone instead of going around me. Then I saw the police car pull into the left lane. It also was going 68 mph with us, driving just a bit behind the blue car, but staying in the left lane.

After several disconcerting miles of this, the policeman finally turned on his lights and got behind the blue car. I was very curious to know what the guy in the blue car had done, but mostly I was glad it wasn't me he was tracking.

And then...

Less than 2 minutes later another policeman pulled up and did the same thing to me.

I pulled over, turned the car off, rolled/cranked my window down, and gathered my info. Driver's license out of my wallet. Rental car info out of my purse. 

When I looked up to see if the policeman was making his way to my window yet, I realized that police protocol had changed since the last time I was pulled over on the freeway 20 years ago.

The guy was on the passenger side waiting for me to roll the window down.

Picture it now.


In a rental car.

With crank windows.

A policeman.

At my passenger window.

Patiently waiting to talk with me.

"OH! Sorry Officer! Hold on a quick couple of minutes while I try to reach...Oh, wait. Need to unbuckle first...Now I can leeeeeeean over and reeeeeach for that handle...Good thing this car is so small, huh? Haha. And that I have freakishly long arms. Ha. Haha. I suppose you want me to roll is all the way down...yes?...OK...almost there...little bit more...THERE! What can I do for you, Officer?"

*blink*blink* smile *blink*

Him: "Good morning. First off, I was not the officer to see the infraction. My colleague called me in. He said you changed lanes without signalling. He was actually surprised, since you did it right in front of him. Some drivers do that on purpose in a blatant attempt to obstruct an officer. We're just trying to keep the roads safe."

It didn't take me half a second to put it all together.

Remember when the policeman was going 68 mph and staying right behind the blue car? Well, during those few miles, a semi was broken down on the right shoulder of the road. Being the good driver that I am, I switched to the right lane to give the semi some room. I even had the thought, "See, Officer, I'm being safe here on the freeway!" Also being the good driver I am, I also signaled. Well, I thought I signaled. In MY cars, I only have to hold the turn signal partway down to get the light blinking. Apparently that is not the case in the rental.

Me: "I signaled! This is a cheap rental car! Did you see that I signaled when you pulled me over?!?! Did I mention it's a cheap rental car?! Without cruise control??"



Him: "May I have your license and rental paperwork? I'm not planning on giving you a citation, as long as nothing shows up when I run this."

Nothing showed up.


Him: "I'm just giving you a warning. Just sign here so my boss knows I'm out working to keep the roads safe."

He went back to his cruiser. I put my paperwork and license away.

I leeeeeeaned over and streeeeeetched to reach the knob to roll my window back up.

And then I was once again on my way.

Listening to static on the radio.

Going slower than the speed limit.

Compulsively using my turn signal, but sometimes forgetting to click it back off.

Basically, the car turned me into my 90-year old grandma for the remaining 12 hours I had it.

BUT, because I know you're wondering, the cheap hotel turned out to be marvelous!

Sure, it had corn fields on two sides of the building and nothing but a couple of gas stations and fast food joints nearby, but it was a two-bedroom suite for less than $100.


What is your track record with rentals? Ever get a lemon?

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Ten Things of Thankful! Week 119

This week had completely reinforced my decision to not take a job now that Cuckoo is in school. I subbed for two days at the kids' elementary school as an aide, and it has about done me in. There is no way in this world I'd be able to be the best teacher I could be AND the best mom I can be at the same time.

1. I am thankful that I know my limitations.

Lizzi was here for a whirlwind visit. She didn't even get to see downtown Indy from afar. She only got a glimpse of our chickens for cryin' out loud.

2. I am thankful that even though the time spent together was mostly in the car, we had that time together. It was great to get to see her and chat in person. Conversations are so much better that way.

I have been wanting to write a post all week about a certain rental car I had for all of the driving I did last week. It will be the first post I write after this one. Unfortunately, it won't get published until Tuesday, since I'm subbing on Monday, too.

3. I am thankful the car and I actually made it to and from all the places we needed to go.

The hand-off of the English parcel took place in St. Louis. Lizzi, Dyanne and I all spent the night in a lovely, cheap suite in Cahokia, IL. We had a delicious meal in downtown St. Louis, just down the street from the arch.

4. I am thankful I got to see Dyanne again, and that the hotel reservation went way better than the car rental.

I raced home from St. Louis in order to switch vehicles and get to school pick-up. Once I managed to get all but the two high school boys home and everyone set on what their responsibilities were for the evening, I had just enough time to change clothes, do my hair, and get myself downtown to attend the Colt's game with Bryan and some clients.

5. While the Colts played terribly, I am thankful to have had a nice night out with Bryan.

About a year ago, a mysterious spot (looks like a skin tag) popped up on Turken's neck. At his annual check-up, his pediatrician said she had no idea what it was and suggested we get to a dermatologist. That appointment was this week.

6. I am thankful that it is only an oil gland cyst. While he will need to get it taken off at some point, it's nothing of major concern.

Also on Wednesday was my first time volunteering in a preschool as their Bible Time teacher. The lesson was written out for me, so there was very little prep work. The kids were adorable and cooperative, and the teachers clearly liked their jobs.

7. I am thankful for the opportunity to meet new people and try something new in a setting that is familiar.

When my mom was here a couple of weeks ago, we picked an entire tub of apples. Bushels and bushels of them. I've canned many of them and eaten some each and every day, but we still had plenty in the tub. The apples were getting soft, so eating them straight up wasn't pleasant.

8. I am thankful for the couple of days that we didn't have any games, so I had time to use the last of the apples in the tub to make enough applesauce for two meals.

This afternoon, the boys and I will be picking as many apples as we can. The season is coming to an end, and we may not be able to pick any more this year.

9. I am thankful I have plenty of time to can and bake much of what we pick, but also that it was Johnny Appleseed's birthday this weekend. I'll be taking a bunch of apples into school to share with the kindergarteners.

Forty-four years ago today, my mother-in-law gave birth to my husband.

10. I am thankful for all she did since that day to help Bryan become the marvelous man he is.

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Friday, September 18, 2015

My Thankful List Before I Leave, 'Cause LIZZI IS COMING!!, TToT #118

Did you know Indiana is called the Crossroads of America?

It was adopted as the state motto in the 1930s, because so many railroads, highways, and waterways intersect in Indiana.

From Indianapolis, one can get to St. Louis, Chicago, Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville, or Detroit in less than 5 hours.

Because of this, I'm going to be busy taking Lizzi around to meet lots of people!!

Follow Lizzi or me on Instagram if you want to see what we're up to!

But before I leave to get her, I'll leave you with my 10 thankfuls for the week...

1. Sites that show TV episodes for free are awesome. (We don't have Netflix.) I watched The Jim Gaffigan Show for 5 hours straight while canning apples and applesauce on Monday. It made the day much less monotonous.

2. I get to work with sweet little kids, but not on a full-time basis. I subbed in the preschool yet again on Tuesday, meaning I had worked all three days that the school had been open for the 3/4 class. Sure, I had to clean up a giant puddle of pee and I was hit and kicked by a little boy who did not want his mom to leave, but when those things weren't happening, the kids are stinkin' adorable!

3. The soccer schedule was relatively light this week, so we had more time to relax and play games and do things in the yard.

4. Giant wasn't seriously injured in his game on Sunday. He took a direct shot to the face, causing blood to fly. I was scared to death the ball had hit his mouth, which would mean his braces tore up his lips. Thankfully, it was the bridge of his nose, and though the blood poured freely for quite a while, his nose wasn't broken and he didn't get a black eye. He wasn't even in much pain, so he went back in to play the rest of the game.

5. Speaking of soccer, have I mentioned how awesome the Academy coaches are? Four years ago (Their first year at the club and one of the two years that Giant had them.), they started Make Your Own Ball Day. In their talk to the kids, they explain, "Soccer is just a game. Really, it's just a game. BUT it is a game that gives us something in common with people all over the world. I have been to Africa. I didn't speak the language, but I had a ball. We couldn't talk, but we could immediately start playing a game of soccer together." They talk about kids from other countries who make balls out of leaves and trash, then play soccer games with those balls in the dirt in their bare feet. The kids could help those fellow soccer players by donating balls and cleats. Piles and piles of gear have been donated and taken to kids all over the world. You can see photos and learn more by searching #myobd on Instagram or Facebook.

6. Oh, and it was MYOBD at our club on Thursday. All three non-high school boys had a great time and learned a bit more about the world outside Indiana.

7. Switching gears...After subbing in a preschool room for three days, I got sick. Thankfully, I had nothing that had to get done and no where I had to go (except a few small errands) for three days, so I could simply stay on the couch and rest in order to be healthy for the weekend.

8. I was actually feeling much better by Friday and was able to clean quite a bit so Lizzi didn't have to walk into a disaster of a house.

9. The weather has been spectacular!

10. Mapquest is so handy. Figuring out the logistics of meeting all of these people in all of these places has been made so much easier with the help of mapquest.

Alrighty. Your turn. Tell me, what are you thankful for this week?

Have a lovely day!

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Lots of Fun Keeping Me Busy, TToT #117

Remember how I was going to be able to get all those things done around the house now that all the kids are in school?

Yeah. Not happenin'.

My house is a complete and utter disaster, seeing as how I haven't been home except one day, and that day was spent canning apples.

But, the things I was doing were good and mostly fun, so I'm not going to complain. But I may have to start saying no in the future.

No one likes to live in a disaster.

My week in thankfuls:

My mom was here to help with the driving while Bryan was gone. There were a couple of days that were made much easier by her presence. She even took Buttercup to the eye doctor and helped her pick out new glasses.

With my mom came the three children of one of my brothers. It was a marvelous surprise, and we had loads of fun.

We made a couple of apple pies. They had never used the apple peeler/corer/slicer before and found it to be quite entertaining.

One kid throws the ball, the rest fight to catch it. For hours. Every single time the cousins get together.

And then on Labor Day, my brother and sister-in-law joined us for the day. I managed to feed 13 people using only food we have grown here on our farm.

Pork chops, applesauce, potatoes, green beans, and (not pictured) deviled eggs. 

The stars aligned to make the soccer game schedule unbelievably convenient for our family. For the first time in the history of soccer, a high school game (Buttercup's) and a club game (Giant's) were played at the same facility back-to-back. AND it was the day Bryan came home from his trip, so my mom and I got to go to the games.

Then on Saturday, all the high school games were at the same school at the same times, so I was able to see all three of my kids play without driving hither and yon all day.

My mom and I managed to can 14 quarts of apples and 7 pints of applesauce and pick enough apples for me to can even more tomorrow.

It was the first week of preschool, and I was there to help with any criers. Thankfully there were no criers, but I did have to clean up one gigantic mess when a sweet little thing had an accident. Depsite that, I enjoyed working with the kids again.

I went to a brunch Saturday morning with some women from a Catholic prayer group.

Bryan and I had a dinner with a bunch of his colleagues and their spouses Saturday night. I had only met a few of them before, but all were good company, and we laughed all night long.

This coming week will be way more manageable. I will be working in the preschool one day, but the rest are for me to get this place back in order before I go get Lizzi on Saturday.

That's right! Lizzi is making her way across the country, and our house is one stop along the way. I can't wait to see her again! (I met her on our trip to England last year. You can read her account of it here.)

How has your week been?

Have a lovely day!

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Friday, September 11, 2015

An Open Letter to Moms Who Write Open Letters About Their Daughters' Unhappiness with School Dress Codes

I've seen you.

I've seen the fight you're fighting.

I've seen you post a photo of your daughter, looking for validation that the dress code is ridiculous and your daughter should be able to wear what she's wearing.

I've seen you shout that the school is sexualizing your daughter.

Stop it.

I'm begging you. Please oh please with sugar on top stop it.

Since schools have been requiring dress codes, girls have fought them.

In little ways and big ways, teen girls have been pushing that envelope, trying to get away with wearing something outside of the dress code.

Shoot, even in the Catholic school I attended girls were doing this, rolling their uniform skirts up to get them an inch shorter than allowed.

It used to be that parents and kids knew the dress code, and when their daughters came downstairs with something outside of the dress code, parents would send their daughters back to their rooms to change.

Girls would throw fits and complain that what they were wearing was FINE and adults were just out of touch and being mean.

Parents would ignore those daughters and the daughters would change.

(And a few really bold daughters would sneak different clothes in their bags and change later.)

Not so anymore.

Now, many parents will see their daughters dressing outside of the dress code and say, "You know you'll get in trouble if you wear that," then let their daughters walk out the door without changing. This means teachers and administrators must waste time that should be used productively (aka teaching) to enforce a rule the parents could and should have done at home.

And some parents like yourself will actually listen to your daughters complain about the dress code and take their side. And encourage them to defy the school personnel. Encourage them to take a stand and fight the "oppressive" rules. And shout from the rooftops that the school is sexualizing your daughters.

It's madness.

Utter madness.

Basically, it boils down to "my daughter wants to dress like this, I think she's dressed fine, so she should be able to wear it".

Instead, how about you take just a few seconds to look at this from the school's perspective?

Whether you want to admit it or not, clothing can be a huge distraction, including but not limited to boys being distracted by girls wearing little to no clothing. It distracts me, for Pete's sake!

Perhaps you consider the fact that school administrators aren't out to shame anyone, but are simply trying to get rid of as many distractions as possible so teachers can do their jobs?

Schools aren't causing the problem. You are.

They wouldn't have to enforce the dress code (what you see as shaming you daughter) if you stood up and did it before your daughter left the house.

Even if you don't agree with the dress code, you should still be enforcing it.

Teenagers are going to question authority. Questioning and pushing boundaries is almost a job for them. It's part of the whole brain development/character building/maturing/figuring out the world thing they have to do.

Questioning is not wrong. It's actually good for all of us to question just about everything we read or hear or see.

However, choosing to stand up and fight for something simply because "I want to" is wrong.


How, in any way, shape, or form, is making your daughters wear shirts with sleeves hurting them??

I'll answer that. It isn't!

But allowing her to defy the school administration and continue to dress out of dress code is hurting not just her, but all the kids who are losing out on instruction time so teachers and administrators can deal with your daughters.

Dress codes are a part of life. Tank tops and leggings aren't allowed in business offices. Open-toed shoes aren't allowed on construction sites. Adults need to dress in the clothing appropriate for what they are doing. Same goes for kids in school.

Schools have to have a dress code. A line has to be drawn somewhere as to what is appropriate and what is not. Just because you don't agree with where that line is drawn doesn't mean it's wrong. You just need to acknowledge the line and respect their authority to draw that line.

You don't work in that school. You don't have any idea what the teachers are having to deal with in that school. They are the authority in that environment. You are simply the parent of a child unhappy with the authority's rules.

How about instead of fighting the school administration, you find a way to help them? How about instead of posting your daughters' outfits online, you send in some coffee and thank you notes to the teachers who are doing their very best to educate your children? How about you show them a little respect and teach your daughters that following a dress code is part of being a kind, responsible person in a world that doesn't revolve around her wants?

As a teacher and a parent, I'd really appreciate your cooperation in this matter.

Have a lovely day!

PS I know this is way more blunt and direct than I normally write. I debated changing it to be a little less harsh. In the end, I wrote it the way I'd actually talk if I knew someone in real life who caused an uproar over the dress code.

PPS I know that most, if not all, of you would actually agree with me, so writing this isn't really getting to the people who I'd like to talk to. It's really just serving the purpose of me getting it off my chest.

And for real. Have a lovely day!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

This Is Getting to Be Ridiculous, TToT 116

You may have noticed, but I'm just not in a blogging mood these days. I finally have plenty of time during the day to write if I so choose, but I'm choosing to do other things. I can't seem to get up the gumption to do much more than flip through Facebook every once in a while.

I have no doubt I'll get back to it one of these days. I even have a whole post talking about my theory as to why I'm choosing not to write. I also have a funny (depending on your sense of humor) one about Roy the Wonder Dog. They'll get written eventually.

For now, it seems the TToT is the only thing keeping me writing. After all these weeks, I can't not write a thankful post!

1. The three high school soccer players have not gotten sick from playing in the suffocating heat this week.

2. A friend had a fun impromptu glow-in-the-dark party this weekend, and the little boys had a blast. There was a scavenger hunt (in the dark with flashlights), lots of activities with glow sticks, and even a nighttime soccer game with a soccer ball that lights up when kicked.

3. My mom is coming to stay with us for a few days while Bryan is out of town.

4. We'll be canning lots and lots of apples while she's here.

5. I heard this morning that 2 of my nieces and one of my nephews are coming with her to spend the night tonight. My brother and his wife will come up tomorrow to spend the day before heading back home. It's always a fun to have them here for a visit.

6. There is a boy in Cuckoo's class who is having some trouble getting along with the rest of the kids. In fact, he bit Cuckoo out of the blue one day this week. At dinner, as part of our prayer, we each take a turn asking for a special intention or to say a thank you. Cuckoo, without any prompting from anyone, asked to pray for this little boy, that he figure out how to get along and not get in trouble at school. Despite his orneriness, that boy has quite a loving heart.

7. Even after all these decades, Bryan can still surprise me. (That's part of the Roy story.)

8. There aren't many folks that know much about Catholicism, and there are even more who have ideas that are just plain wrong. I always welcome the chance to answer questions, for not only does it give me the chance to clear things up, it also helps me figure out what I believe and why. One day this week during soccer practice warm-ups, Giant and a teammate had a conversation about Catholicism. The boy had some questions, starting out with the common "Are Catholics Christians?" It was a friendly question and answer conversation that left both boys happy to have had it. It makes me happy to know that my kids have friends with whom they can have these conversations, and the fact that it happens while they are stretching on a soccer field makes it even better.

9. I was able to make two meals this week using never-before-seen-by-my-family recipes. I made chicken pot pie one night and burgundy beef another. As expected, each meal had fans who gobbled up multiple helpings and disgusted diners who only ate the side dishes. It only matters that Bryan and I liked both. :)

10. My baby who made me a mom for the first time had a birthday this week. Phoenix is 17 years old. That's a big number. He will be able to vote for our next president. I'm flabbergasted by the whole thing.

Bonus thankful: I'm grateful to you lovely readers who keep coming back to read my sparse posts. A special shout out to Sandee for always letting me know how much she enjoys my TToT posts. :)

What marvelousness did you encounter this week?

Have a lovely day!

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