Monday, July 30, 2012

Connor's Baptism- 7/28/12

On Saturday, our family traveled to Hays, KS to have Connor baptized by Fr. Peter O'Donnell at Immaculate Heart of Mary. Due to the late notice in scheduling the baptism we were very lucky that we had so many family and friends in attendance, including Connor's (and Sophie's) godparents- Joe Bloomfield and Jill Schaub.

During the baptism we did have several cute moments (provided by Sophie herself). When Peter asked for the parents and godparents to make the sign of the cross on Connor's head, Sophie (who felt she needed to participate but was unable to make the sign of the cross) kissed the top of his head. And later as Peter asked the parents and godparents to renew their baptismal promises by answering "I do" to the following responses... Sophie along with the rest of us answered "I do". It was sweet and wonderful to have Sophie feel like she should be involved in Connor's baptism.

 After the baptism we invited everyone to celebrate with us in true German fashion, by eating and drinking at Gella's Diner/Liquid Bread brewery in downtown Hays. It was so nice to treat our friends and family members who were able to come celebrate with us and I know it was nice treat for Brian and I (and Sophie too!) to see so many of our friends and family members.


If you've never been, you have to go (click here to access the homepage to Gella's Diner & Liquid Bread Brewing Co).

A few interesting fun facts before I end this post:

- Both Joe & Jill are also Sophie's godparents

- Fr. Peter attended Sophie's baptism, but was not a priest at the time, so he did not baptize her.

- Hays, KS is where Brian and I went to school, met, and dated (Fort Hays State)

- The baptism gown that Connor wore was also worn by his sister Sophie, me (his mom) and all of my siblings, and my mother and all of her siblings. There have been at least 20 babies baptized in that dress over the length of 3 generations.

It was a short weekend trip to Hays, but we appreciated everyone who was able to make it.

And after the evening was over it did not take long for our family to crash after all the events of the day.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Keep or Ditch?

So in light of our newest car conundrum, Suzi made the comment that the easiest way to fix the starter would be to go to the dealership and buy a new car. Seeing that the Honda Accord is 12 years old and counting, covered in hail damage, paint is chipping off, and has 250,000+ miles on it, that might not be a bad idea. However, is it worth it to replace a car that has made it 250,000+ miles on it with limited major repairs, is fully paid off and owned, and has served our needs well over the past several years?

So I'm asking others for their thoughts- should we keep the Honda or should we ditch it for a newer car?

Leave your advice, suggestions, and answers in the comments section below. We'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Headed to Hays.... or are we?

So let's just face it... life with me is an adventure. It will NEVER be boring. And likely it will never be called 'frugal' or 'low-cost'. With that being said, I do try to save money and cut costs, but very often we find ourselves stretching our budget later on some other 'Stacey moment'. This is another one of those 'Stacey moments'.

This weekend I had planned out and mapped out our trip to get our son Connor baptized in Hays, Kansas where Brian and I went to college and where my good friend and priest Fr. Peter were located. I'd made a timeline, figured out our schedule, packed our bags, informed friends and family, completed necessary baptism paperwork with our church, and even made hotel and restaurant reservations for afterwards. I didn't have a spreadsheet, but I had all the details planned out so Brian would be less stressed.

We did leave a little later than planned on Friday evening (7:30pm), but due to my amazing driving skills (aka- speeding without getting stopped or caught by a police officer) we made it into Wichita a little before 2 am. The kids mostly slept along the way, Brian did homework, and the car performed fine with a few occasional stops for gas, diaper changes, and food.

After getting some sleep at my parents house and spending some of the morning with them, in which Sophie got lots of attention and spoiling, I got everything together and moving to get the car (my blue Honda Accord with the 250,000+ miles on it) loaded up and ready so we could leave for the 3 hour drive to Hays before 11am.

And the car wouldn't start.

After much deliberation, troubleshooting (aka- intellectual guesstimate) we decided the starter had gone bad. Me and my limited car mechanical knowledge decided this would be something we could easily fix ourselves within an hour. And by 'we' I meant my dad and husband. So I convinced them that I could go to O'Riley's, pick up the required part, and they could have the old one off and the new one on within an hour. I felt a bit more confident in my scheme when the employee at O'Riley's informed me that it was likely a 30-40 minute fix. So I returned with the new part and told him about what the customer service guy from O'Riley's told me.

But it didn't get fixed in 30 to 40 minutes. In fact the old starter was on there so tight (and the guys didn't have the necessary tools) that the old part didn't even come off after a couple hours of sweat, grease, and labor from Brian and my dad. And the clock was ticking. We all had a hard deadline for needing to be in Hays before 5pm.  So, by 12:30pm I started getting on the phone with mechanic shops to see if we could get the car into the shop and get it fixed today. Not before we left for Hays because that wouldn't happen, but at least by tonight so the car would be fully operational by the time we needed to return to Dallas on Sunday.

Finally, Randy at Johnson Automotive agreed to get the old starter off, our newly purchased starter on, and would get it done before he left the shop on Saturday. So with the old starter still not off the vehicle, and the new starter in the box on the passenger seat, AAA came around 1:30pm and towed my Honda off to Johnson Automotive. Then the whole family loaded up into 3 cars and we made a mad dash to Hays.

We arrived in Hays around 4:30, giving us 30 minutes to spare before the 5pm Mass.

Had I listened to my husband's advice (*Note to Brian: I will likely never admit to typing this sentence*) and just had the car towed to a shop and have them fix it, we probably could have arrived in Hays earlier and at a cheaper cost.

While I'll discuss the baptism and dinner in a later post, my dad and family picked up the Honda from Johnson Automotive late on Saturday night when they returned to Wichita. Randy (the mechanic at Johnson's Automotive) called around 5pm and told us it had taken him a long time to get the part off but that it was done and working; however, he did think the starter was not the only problem and we should look into replacing the battery soon.

And sure enough, Sunday morning the Honda would not start.... again. So while Brian, the kids, and I drove from Hays to Wichita this morning, Dad purchased a new battery and installed it on my Honda. Afterwards we had no trouble with the Honda the whole return trip to Dallas. However, this trip to Hays cost us the expected sum of a new starter, labor to get a new starter installed, and a new battery... not to mention all the unexpected mechanical labor and frustration. And, the last time I took the Honda to Kansas for a trip to Hays (May, 2012) I got a flat tire outside of Russell, KS. What is up with my car and it's propensity to break down whenever Hays is involved?

Anyway... had to document our newest adventure with these photos:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Brian's Legal Battle

Many of you probably know this story because Brian has not bothered to withold the details of his first legal battle against a local towing company. However, if this information is new to you, allow me to divulge the details.

One weekday, Brian left work to head to a McDonalds for lunch. As the McDonald's parking lot was full and several other parking spots had traffic cones blocking vehicle entrance, Brian decided to park my Honda Accord in the neighboring Chinese restaurants parking lot. That parking lot had several vacant spots during lunch time and Brian would only be running in to McDonalds to purchase his food before returning to the car to take his food back to work.

Five minutes later, Brian emerges to find that the Honda has been towed. When he enters the Chinese restaurant to find out where his car has gone, someone at the front desk mentions that they believe a manager at McDonald's is 'in bed' with a towing company and receives a commission on all vehicles which are towed in none customer parking spaces.

Brian contacts and finds out that indeed the Honda has been towed and is in an impound lot. He is welcome to get the vehicle after paying a hefty fine and providing documentation showing ownership of the vehicle.

Since this is his lunch hour, he has a co-worker pick him up from McDonalds and then calls his wife (me) and tells me that my Honda Accord has been impounded and I need to pick him up at work and drive him to the impound lot so he can collect the Honda. And he needs me to get the car title and bring it with me since the car is in my name. Unhappy pregnant wife.

Once we get to the impound lot in the heat of a June afternoon, I find that I have to get out of the air conditioned vehicle in order to confirm my identification, title, and pay the $300 fine in a derelict trailer outside of the impound lot. Very unhappy pregnant wife.

A few weeks later, Brian goes to the city offices and starts the appeal process against the towing companies decision to tow and impound my car. He took pictures of the Chinese restaurant parking lot revealing that there were no 'Towing' signs posted and went to court. Apparently the representatives for the towing company were enraged and expressed their displeasure in an unprofessional manner during the court hearing along with a lack of evidence to support their actions. So the judge ruled in favor of Brian and ordered the towing company to reimburse Brian for the $300s. The towing representative was upset and threatened to appeal.

However, a few weeks passed and Brian receives a phone call from the towing company letting Brian know that the check is in the mail.

Brian has successfully won his first legal battle and has the check to prove it.

Oscar on Vacation

While Oscar did come with us to the beach, he spent the whole time in the van, the condo, and occasionally going for a brief walk so he could 'take care of business'. So it wasn't so much of a vacation for him with the exception of getting to ride in the van. Brian's parents offered to let Oscar stay with them this week in Kansas and Brian accepted. This is the first time Oscar has been away from us in 5 years.

The following day, Sophie returned from school and asked where her Oscar was.

I told her to go ask her dad and she returns down the stairs and tells me. Oscar has gone to Kansas. We need to go get him. He needs to come home.

So far I haven't recieved an update on how he's doing, but when we pick him up this Saturday, I'll be sure to find out how his little vacation to Grandma's went.

** And yes... his wheelchair went with him **

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Planning a Trip to the Gulf?

If you are planning a trip to the Gulf of Mexico, particularly the Corpus Christi area, here are some  links to things we recommend.

Best Beaches:
- North Padre Island
- Port Aransas
They are typically very clean, usually free of jellyfish, and have a nice surf to them which is perfect for a surf or boogie board.

Hotel vs. Beach House
The Gulf coast hotels tend to be more expensive, particularly near the nicer beaches (see above). So far in the 2 trips to the coast, I've stayed in 3 beach houses. All 3 were found on VRBO, which you can access by clicking HERE.

The 2 beach houses that I would definitely recommend are both located in Rockport. However, Rockport is only a 20 minute drive and ferry ride to Port Aransas. Links to those 2 beach houses can be found here.
- Key Allegro Condo
- Wood Street Cottage

Places to Eat
If you want/like chain restaurants, Corpus Christi has several to chose from. The further you get from Corpus the fewer chain restaurants available (the exception to this rule being fast food chains). One place I can recommend on behalf of my mother, who likes Joe's Crab Shack, is the Boiling Pot. The other I can recommend is JD's Seafood Restaurant. For links to both of these restaurants, select the restaurants below.
- The Boiling Pot
- JD's Seafood Restaurant

While I've only been to this area twice and do not consider myself an expert by any means, sometimes it's nice to know what people who have traveled some place would recommend. If you have been to the area or are from the area and wish to add more links and suggestions, please feel free to do so in the Comments section.

Extended Family Photos - Oneys

While Brian's family was together we decided to take some family pictures with them now that we have a new family member- Connor.

3 Generations: Keith (Brian's dad), Brian, and Connor

Sophie along the canal behind the condo

Grandma LaNelle and Connor

Grandpa Keith, Sophia, Brian, Connor, Grandma LaNelle, & Kayla

Grandpa Keith, Sophia, Brian, Connor, & Grandma LaNelle

Grandpa Keith, Sophia, Connor, & Grandma LaNelle

Kayla, Connor, & Sophia