Friday, August 26, 2011

Using My Powers For Good

Social media is a blessing and a curse. One of the benefits of social media is that the regular guy has a voice. A powerful one. We can put out there, in Cyber Land, a complaint about something and have a real impact on their sales or enact a change in policy. For instance, I have stated several times how chapped I am that the City of Dallas has lowered trash pick up to only once a week. Do you think my bill was cut in half? Um that would be a NO. And when I asked them about getting another can because ours is ALWAYS overflowing now, they said that would be an extra $10 charge. So I'm still on the Bad City Of Dallas bandwagon.

The problem is, often we get wonderful customer service and we don't say anything. We get a company that goes above and beyond and we just move on to the next thing in our day. But I don't think that's fair. If we're going to put our complaints out there in Cyber Land, then we should put our compliments too.

Back in May, I bought this from Christian Book Distributors to help me teach Annika math this year. I bought it back in May because that is when Saxon has their big sale. Once I got it, I stuck it in a box with the rest of the stuff for the next school year and didn't think about it again.

When I pulled that box out to organize and prepare to start school on Monday I realized that Christian Book Distributors had sent me the wrong thing. They sent this...

It had been WAY past their 30 day return policy. I no longer had the paperwork that went with this order. I only had the order # that I got by getting online and going to 'My Account'. This was an expensive item and I really didn't want to buy it twice. How did I not notice 3 months ago it was the wrong product? UGH!

I called CBD and told them they had sent me the wrong product...back in May. The lady I spoke to asked for the order # and told me it would be no problem, they'd send the correct product right out, and I could just stick the wrong product back in the box, affix the return postage sticker to it and send it back. No charge. AND she even asked me when we were starting school and how soon I needed the product so she could be sure to choose the proper shipping to ensure I had it when I needed it.


I was so terribly impressed with CBD.

I just thought you all should know.

Oh, and one other little known secret when dealing with CBD. Often if you call them and ask them if they have any coupon codes available currently, they will give you a one time, free shipping code. I've done that several times.

So there you have it. Today I chose to use my social media powers for good. Now if I could just get the City of Dallas to give me another trash can...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Today I Point You Elsewhere

I posted some homeschool stuff at my homeschool blog today. Because that's what it's for, after all.

GO. Check it out. It's riveting.

The Homeschooling Review

Monday, August 22, 2011

Annnndddd here we go.

I am getting off the sauce. Yep, I have an addiction, a terrible one. I started drinking when I was very little and it quickly became a 2 or 3 a day habit.

Yep, you guessed it. I am addicted to Diet Coke. Actually, to be more precise, Coke Zero is my drink of choice, but Diet Coke will do in a pinch.

I have known for a while that it was time to quit, but I was avoiding it. I don't think Diet Coke is evil or anything, I just think I was drinking too much of it, and not enough of anything else healthy. Not to mention, I read some things that concerned me about theories on Diet drinks leaching out Vitamin D and Calcium. EVERY time I go to the Doctor I am told I am very low on Vitamin D. It's odd because I take a boat load of Vitamin D and I try to get some sun every day. And yet...low. It makes me wonder if it's the Diet Coke.

Today is day 3 of no soda. I started with the headaches last night. I didn't expect the headaches because I'm not going off caffeine, just the diet drinks. I had a cup of tea instead. It did nothing for the headache. So this should be super fun.

Hi, my name is Tricia and I have a problem...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Finding Joy in the Small Things

I had to go get a few new keys made last week. Now that all the kids have such busy social lives, I really need for all of them to have a key to the house. No one wants to be locked out when it's 107 outside!

I went to Walmart to do this chore, and I saw this.

It was $4 instead of the .87¢ you pay for a regular key. I bought 3 regular keys and the green one for $4. I love green. Green makes me happy. I spent an extra $3.13 to have a little happy hanging on my keychain.

It makes me smile every time I have to use my keys. I think it was well worth it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Letting Them Grow Up

I like that title. It implies that we have a choice. That if we don’t like it, we can somehow stop it. Today is one of those days that I realized that my little boys are not little boys anymore, but men. And pretty darn amazing ones at that.

We got word last night that a missionary family that is good friends of ours was having a problem. Their 3rd son was visiting their 1st son, who is married and living in Alabama. On his way home, 3rd Son’s car died in Eastern LA, about 300 miles away from home. The family has one car already down and does not currently have the funds to fix it. The Wife and Son #4 were planning to drive the 5 hours to go get Son #3 and tow back the broken car on a car dolly attached to their Toyota minivan (currently their only working car).

I told this to Sir D and his immediate response was “Call them and tell them to take the Excursion.” My Excursion is a diesel and is made for towing. A little Toyota minivan is not.

I then called Gunnar. I told him of the situation and he said, “No prob, Mom. Tell Mrs. Missionary that Son #4 and I can do it.”

So my Gunnar, and Son #4 (who is a lifelong friend of Gunnar’s) drove off at 4am to go pick up Son #3 and his car and tow it back home.

The amazing thing to me about this is that Gunnar didn’t hesitate for a second. Even though today is the day he makes the most $. He handed his mowing work off to a friend, and he is missing an afternoon at work at the Auto Shop (the boss was okay with it). All tolled, I think he’s missing out on making about $100 today. $100 he really needs to get his motorbike up and running again and various other things. But he didn’t blink. His friend was in need and he jumped at the chance to help even though it meant lost wages and getting up a 4 am to drive for 10 hours.

It makes a momma proud.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back to Reality: Or At Least Thinking About Getting Back To Reality

I just spent a ton of money on books and curriculum. I thought having the kids grow up and start taking classes outside of the house would be less expensive. I don't know why I thought that. I must be delusional.

Two of my kids are taking college classes. DO NOT get me started on the college textbook racket! Last year Gunnar was required to buy a brand new, just published, book for his English 1302 class. They did not crack the spine of that book all year. Not once. Then when we went to sell it back to the bookstore they said they were no longer using that book and would not buy it back. It was like flushing $80 down the toilet! Okay, sorry, I got started.

I also have my Evelyn taking most of her academic classes at the co op so she needs several books. At least they are not college books.

Not to mention my own homeschool curriculum. YIKES!

I two more weeks before school starts around here. Two more weeks.

Goodbye summer.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Colorado, the End

The last place we stayed in CO was near Creede. I have been forbidden from giving out the actual location of our camping spot by Sir D. He found it by some fluke. I think someone at work told him about it. To say it’s off the beaten path would be an understatement. This is apparently proprietary information that I am not allowed to reveal, lest people start showing up in droves and destroy the solitude.

This was our first foray into “rough camping”. Now to some of you, “rough camping” might mean a tent and sleeping bags and cooking over an open fire. To me, “rough camping” means we have no electricity, and no water or sewer hook ups, and we have to use our generator. I know. I live a charmed life.

Rough camping is a bit tricky when you are used to RVing. You have to really think about what you are going to cook. You can’t really use the crock pot unless you are going to have the generator running all day. We did a fair bit of grilling and I could cook over the stove as it is propane operated.

We can really only go for 3 days “rough camping” because we run out of water in the tanks. But for those 3 days, it is glorious.

This was the road that lead us deep into the mountains to the spot where we camped. I had to get out and take a photo of this sign.

We came from Texas. In Texas if you through a cigarette out of your window, you will start a huge conflagration that could burn down an entire city, it is SO dry. So this made me laugh. It rained at least a few minutes every single day we were in CO. When I took this photo, the sky was full of rain clouds, the ground was wet and muddy, oh yeah, and it was raining! But the fire danger was ‘HIGH’. Methinks they might need to revamp their system for determining the fire threat.

We drove down this road for a while. A very long while. It was muddy in spots, it was bouncy, it was curvy and also a bit scary.

But this is what we saw…

And this was our campsite. It was so beautiful it was almost hard to take it in!

(Yes, that is Violet the Dog in a chair. She has her own camping chair. Violet the Dog also leads a charmed life.)

Seriously, this was the view form the door of the RV. What more could you ask for?

The river that ran through the area was right our our site. You could hear the rushing water all night long.

We had an amazing time at this camping spot. There was no WiFi, no 3G service, and no electricity. We played cards, we talked, we laughed. It was just wonderful. This is a place we will definitely be going back too. I could post about 20 more photos of hte beauty we saw there, but a photo just really does not do it justice.

One morning, I woke up early for some reason (VERY not like me) and went outside. I stoked up the fire (because it was gloriously COLD!) and I sat outside watching the sun coming up over the mountains, listening to the river rush through the campsite and reading my bible.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Little Pretty

Evelyn made me this for my birthday. She' is a very talented artist. I love it when she creates me a gift.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Homeschool Stuff

For my homeschooling friends. I have a post up over on my Homeschooling Review Blog about what we are using next year, if you are interested.


I'm changing up a few things on my Homeschool Review Blog. I'll post my homeschool stuff over there, not just reviews. So if you're interested in what's going on at Hilltop Academy, pop on over!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Colorado Trip Part 2. Sort of.

I started telling you of our little Colorado adventure in the middle. I don’t know why. That is how my brain works. Haphazardly.

On our way through NM to Colorado, we stopped at Capulin Volcano National Monument.

It’s kinda the first major elevation change we come too. We stopped there 4 years ago on our first trip and took this photo.

This is the one we took this time.

I think maybe we’ve all gotten a little bigger, even those of us who really shouldn’t have gotten any bigger…

Capulin is a nice stop over.

It’s a good place to have a picnic on your travels up to CO. There are some truly amazing vistas from up there.

My advice is to stop before you hit the Rockies and not after. Capulin is very impressive when you are coming up from flat ol’ Texas but after leaving the Rockies…well, notsomuch!

We stayed at an RV park near The Great Sand Dunes National Park. That was our first camping spot in CO. We’ve been there before, so we didn’t spend a great deal of time on the dunes, but the kids went and had a blast. Even the big kids.

This is my two boys and a cousin (sort of, he’s my sister in law’s sisters boy, but we call him cousin. TMI? Sorry.) running down the dunes.

That’s the thing I love about The Dunes. They really are fun for everyone.

Because we’d already been to the Dunes, we didn’t stay long. When everyone was done on The Dunes, we drove to The Colorado Gator Farm. It was something to behold. Think traveling sideshow.

(Annika got a certificate for holding the gator, that the gator bit and left teeth marks in as his official seal. She thought that was pretty darn cool.)

There were gators EVERYWHERE!

I suspect this is the place they send injured gators or gators that have been found and cannot be released back into the wild for whatever reason. I’m not sure I’d go back, it was a little odd, but it was fun doing it once. You can even pay to wrestle a gator if you are so inclined. We were not so inclined. Definitely a fun one-time stop.

Oddly enough, this was my birthday, so I got to spend my birthday at the Great Sand Dunes and the Colorado Gator Farm. Not many people can say that, I suspect.

(The kids realized we didn't have any candles in the RV so they improvised with twisty ties and toothpicks. Pretty resourceful, I'd say!)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Colorado Part 1

My family has been in CO on vacation with some other family members and some dear friends. Here is the whole group.

Okay, actually, this is the whole group minus me, the frady-cat. I can handle a lot of things but I don't like severe thunderstorms (hay! I'm a Kansas girl, those thunderstorms carry tornadoes and those can kill ya!) and I don't like spiders, I mean really don't like. Like maybe a wee bit phobic, and I don't like heights.
Driving up those mountain passes makes me freak. I have to close my eyes or look at the rock wall on the other side and NOT the sheer drop off. The sheer drop off will make me come unhinged. Because I have the kids in the car, I try not to show that I am panicking. I just act normal and DON'T LOOK. But I don't like it at all! It's funny because Violet knows.

As soon as I start to feel all freaked out she starts whining and she will try to get to the seat I am in and lick me. It's really funny.

I am not in the above picture because where they were can only be accessed by jeeps. Sir D let both of the boys drive up the scary, rocky, muddy, roads.

I'm not sure they've ever been happier.

It took a 5 hour jeep ride to get there and it was harrowing in some spots (I was told by my 12 year old little girl who is braver than me) I stayed back at the lodge doing laundry and sitting here…

…drinking coffee. All in all, not a bad trade off. The jeeps that they rented were from Castle Lakes Campground. If you are into jeeping, motorbike riding, or 4 wheeling, this is your place. It has a lodge, campgrounds, and some cabins. The best thing is that you can drive your vehicle of choice right out of the camping area and up the mountain whether or not it’s street legal. This is a pretty cool thing and hard to find.

Usually you have to trailer your non street legal vehicle to the starting point of the trails. That was a big plus for our crew. It’s a very beautiful spot with some really nice people running it!

Here is another photo of the whole crew. This photo I was in!

This was a lot of fun. It was not as fun for the guys because it was kind of tame. More of a river tour than a rafting trip because it was late in the season, but I liked it. It was a nice introduction to rafting for me. I will definitely do this again!

The Mountain Man Tours in Creed took us on this trip. The guides were good, a little hyper, but I’m thinking it must be hard to do this same trip 2 times a day for weeks and weeks and maintain your enthusiasm. I’m thinking caffeine is the way they make that happen!

While we were on the river, our guide Paul, told us of this lodge in Wagon Wheel Gap that sold pies that are made by the local Mennonite community. On our way out my Sister in Law, Ruth and I made nicely asked our husbands to pull over our giant RV’s so we could buy a pie. They of course, grumbled were happy to do so. That was probably the best berry pie I have ever had. If you’re ever in Wagon Wheel Gap, get yourself some pie!