Thursday, March 31, 2011

Our New Wheels!

We got a mini van!! We traded in our 2006 Toyota Corolla for a 2004 Honda Odyssey. We LOVE it!! It's perfect for our growing family. Isn't it pretty?

March 26

And you know what the best part is? Trade in value + cash = 0 payments. Awesome. No car debt :) School debt...well, that's another story. Kind of a necessity at this point. But we definitely didn't need to go into even more debt for a bigger car.

It has lots of awesome features, like double sliding doors that open and close with the push of a button. I know that's a pretty standard thing for mini vans these days, but it's new to us. There's even a button to open them on the keyless entry.

The middle bucket seats slide forward and back to adjust for 3rd row leg room. Yay! The 3rd row squish factor is something I wasn't too fond of in other mini vans I've been in. And I'm super short, so it's gotta be crowded for me to feel claustrophobic back there. Not that I'll be back there a ton since I'm either driving or in the passenger seat...but it'll be nice for adult passengers.

The 3rd row folds down into the floor to allow for more space. Yay for space! We're testing that space out soon; our annual road trip is coming up in the next 2 weeks.

It came with a DVD player, too. That's one that really didn't matter to us. We have a portable double screen player that we've always used on road trips anyway. But it's convenient :) We're not going to use it for our weekly grocery shopping, though. It's silly to pop in a DVD for the 5 minute drive to Walmart. On road trips, however, it will get lots of use!

Anyway, it has lots of fun features and lots of space. Perfect for a growing family. And, it's a reliable brand. Hondas and Toyotas are the best out there IMO. I love foreign cars :D

As for the purchase story, it's kind of long and involved. If you're not interested, don't read it. There's some craziness involved but everything is resolved now. And honestly, after all is said and done, it seriously worked out the best possible way for us.

I've been researching mini vans off and on for a couple of months. I spent a lot of time at and I browsed lots of local dealership inventories online. But this particular dealership I hadn't heard of until I went to a girly party at some friends' place. Another girl who used to be in our ward was there and as it turns out, her husband recently got a job as the future general manager (when the owner retires in the somewhat near-ish future) at a used car dealership. He stopped by while I was there and we talked about cars, vans, trade ins, etc. He said they'd probably be able to do a straight across trade.

I went home and told John. He spent a lot of time with this friend at church; John is/was the financial clerk and our friend was in the bishopric. We looked up their site, but most of the vans they had listed weren't quite what we wanted. He did tell me that they had a couple more that had yet to be posted online.

I checked their inventory online probably a couple times a week? Something like that I think. Fairly often, but not like every single day. I also checked out other dealerships' inventories. We weren't sure when exactly we'd buy, but it wasn't a pressing need since we won't need room for 3 car seats until September.

Then, last Friday, when I checked their site, they had an 04 Odyssey listed. For an awesome price. When John came home, I told him about it. And he called our friend at the dealership. Who then brought the van over to OUR place for us to look at that evening! We checked it out, test drove it, and decided we'd buy it unless we felt bad about it.

Emma even loved it. She kept saying she wanted to buy it. I think she really liked all the space. Haha, and then she went on to say she wanted to buy a bigger house, too. Yeah, me too, kid.

We still felt good about it Saturday morning, so John stopped by the dealership to seal the deal before work. Got all the paperwork signed, blah blah blah. I wasn't there for that part and to be honest, it's not the most interesting part of my story. We did find out though that the previous owners only turned in one key - and not the keyless entry. Bummer. But they said they'd look into that for us.

Now enter the crazy insanity. I'm not gonna lie; it was pretty stressful. And the process itself wasn't exactly what I'd call fun. However, in hindsight, it all happened exactly how we needed it to.

So, John bought it Saturday morning before work. On his way home from work that evening, he hit a nasty nasty pothole. Yes, the very day we bought the car. Big potholes are pretty common around here after 5 months of cold and snow. And since John wasn't used to driving a bigger vehicle, it was harder to avoid. On Sunday, a friend at church noticed that there was a bulge in our tire and told us it was about to blow out.

We avoided driving as much as possible until we could get it looked at on Monday. They replaced the tire and wanted to replace the other rear tire so they'd have matching tread. Ouch. $200 we weren't planning to spend. Especially since we just bought the car and put 4 new tires on the Corolla back in September. That's $600 in tires in 6 months. Painful! Thank goodness for family helping us with the Corolla's tires.

As it turns out, it's a good thing John hit that pothole. It's a good thing we needed to go in and get the tires fixed.

Why? Because they did a complimentary check on the car...and found several things that needed fixing. Based on their estimate, about $700 worth of things. Including transmission fluid, a dying battery, and a cracked belt.

We're going on a road trip in 2 weeks. Can you imagine having car problems on an 800 mile, 12 hour road trip? With 2 small children and a pregnant woman? Had John not hit that pothole, we would never have known it needed work done. We assumed everything had been taken care of, as it should have been.

At that point, John called our friend at the dealership and told him what was going on. Our friend looked up the paperwork on our new car and couldn't find an inspection report. Meaning it somehow slipped through the cracks and didn't get checked out before it went on the lot. It got the oil changed and was detailed, but not inspected for mechanical issues. That's not supposed to happen. Like, ever. They pride themselves on making sure every car is in tip-top shape before they sell it. He apologized profusely and said they'd take care everything for us, free of charge. This should never have happened as far as they're concerned. They said it was their mistake and therefore their responsibility to fix. He even came to our house that evening to apologize in person. He felt horrible about this happening - especially since we're his friends.

After class on Tuesday, John took the van over to them to get fixed up. He hung out there for a few hours before our friend sent him home in our old car; they still had work to do on the van and it was getting kind of late. And...John had to pick up Tangled ;)

That evening, another friend knocked on our door and said he might end up buying our old car! So John took him for a test drive in the car we just sold! It was hilarious. And then, while they were gone, our dealership friend returned with our van, all fixed up and ready to go. Aaaand...they gave us a 2nd key and keyless entry (remember it only came with one key?), free of charge. Sweet!! Way to make me happy :D

He also told us that had they fixed up the problems before putting it on the lot, the sticker price would have been higher. Like 3 grand higher. And totally and completely out of our price range. So had not all this craziness happened and it went on the lot all fixed up like it should have, we wouldn't have been able to get this van. We would have had to settle for something else. Based on all the crazy this-was-not-supposed-to-happen insanity we had to go through, I believe this van was meant to be ours.

We also learned that the previous owners took immaculate care of this van. Their mechanic said there were absolutely no leaks or anything, and usually in a car with over 70,000 miles there's at least some kind of leak. Our car has twice that. Knowing our van has been well cared for is very reassuring.

I hesitated to write out the whole story. I didn't want our experience to reflect poorly on the dealership or our friend in any way. Yes, the van should have been fully inspected and fixed up before it went on the lot. Mistakes happen. But as John said repeatedly throughout this experience, it's all about how things are handled after the mistake. And they handled it beautifully. Not only did they fix everything up free of charge to us, but they threw in the keyless entry. They really did treat us great.

Would we go back? Absolutely. Would we recommend them to our friends and family? Without a doubt. It's not so much about the fact that a mistake occurred as it about how they dealt with it. We would definitely go back. They have great prices, great service, and are great people. We won't need another car in the next year we'll be here, but if we did, we would go to them. No doubt.

Despite all the craziness, we can't help but to feel blessed. We now have a vehicle that will met our family's needs for years to come. We don't have a car payment, at all. Honestly, I haven't had one since just before we got married. And that has been a huge blessing in our lives. First, it allowed us to get our 06 Corolla for $500 out of pocket after we totaled our 05 Corolla. Insurance check paid the rest. And now it allowed us to trade in the 06 Corolla for a nice mini van plus cash. I am definitely a fan of this no car payment thing! We truly have been incredibly blessed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Challenges and Blessings

Life is hard. We all know it. We all go through times in our lives where it seems to be one challenge after another. Or multiple challenges at once, one on top of another.

The last couple of months have been that way for our family. I'm not going to lie or sugar coat it; it's been rough. But despite all the trials we've gone through and are currently experiencing, we've been so blessed.

Sometimes I need to remind myself of just how blessed we are. It's so easy to get caught up in the "poor me" feelings. And, much as I hate to admit it, I've fallen prey to those feelings entirely too much.

I'm trying to be positive. But it's a struggle. I didn't entirely plan on being pregnant right now. And, as awful as it may sound, I've struggled off and on with being ok with that. Obviously it happened for a reason and I did know in advance. I had a very strong prompting that it would. But I panicked and didn't feel ready for it...and a lot of the time, I still don't. I'm trying to work on that.

I know it's a blessing. I know this child will bless our lives beyond imagining. I know this child is meant to come into our family now. I know we will love this child just as much as the 2 beautiful children we already have.

But it's hard to remember that when I'm beyond exhausted day in and day out. It's hard to remember when I have to eat now or be sick. It's hard to remember when I'm leaning over the toilet or barf bowl. It's hard to remember when I have a massive headache from the fact that water makes me nauseous. It's hard to remember when I see how messy our house gets and I haven't had the energy to clean for 2 months.

And honestly, I haven't even been all that sick. At least not compared to the previous 2. Which is definitely a blessing. One that I constantly have to remind myself of.

I struggle to remember that just the fact that I can get and stay pregnant is a blessing. I know it is. It's beautiful. But remembering that when I feel miserable? It's hard.

A friend recently lost her baby to miscarriage at 7 weeks. My heart just aches for her. I can only imagine the extent of her pain and loss.

I know so many women who've experienced that kind of pain. Whether it be miscarriage, still birth, or losing a child at a young age. It hurts. Or the women who yearn to get pregnant and can't. My heart reaches out to the families who experience this kind of pain. I've never gone through it, so I can't say I know exactly what it's like. Because I don't. And I hope I never truly do. I don't want to go through that kind of trial. But I understand that it hurts.

When I complain about having to change my son's poopy diaper, I should remember that there are women who wish they had a baby to change.

When I gripe about my 3 year old having a night terror in the middle of the night, I should remember that there are women who wish they had a 3 year old to snuggle in the middle of the night.

When I moan about the less pleasant aspects of pregnancy, I should remember that there are women who would do anything to be pregnant.

When I complain about my husband being in school, I should remember that there are people who would love the opportunity to get an education.

When I mope about living in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment, I should remember that there are families who don't have a home.

We are truly blessed. Sometimes the challenges shove their way in and make it harder to see. But other times, trials are the best time to see the blessings.

During the last few weeks, friends from church have helped us so much. When our kids were sick, they brought us Pedialyte and Gatorade. When our dryer broke during said sickness, they offered to dry our bedding. When I had an awful headache or just a rough day, they brought us dinner. When I had zero energy to clean, they came in and cleaned things up.

And it's not just a one-time thing; they are always there to help. I hope I can help others just as much as they've helped me. At this point in my life, I don't feel like there's much I can do. I can barely manage the needs of my own family right now.

Does realizing and focusing on all the blessings make the challenges magically disappear? Of course not. But it makes them more bearable.

Am I still trying to sort out some of our challenges? Absolutely.

We're still trying to get back to normal sleep schedules after the kids' illness and daylight savings.

We're still trying to get an internship for summer.

We're still in the market for a minivan and just discovered that we have less to work with than we thought.

We're still frustrated that the IRS played a nasty mind game on us (well, at least I am - John is more accepting and forgiving than I am). First they gave us over $900 more than we expected. Then we got an ambiguous letter about it that seemed to imply that it was legitimately ours. That was a month ago. We were thrilled, thinking we had $900 more to put toward a bigger car. Well, we just got a bill saying we now owe them over $900. Wouldn't it have been easier for them to just get it right to begin with? Now our refund is the exact amount that we anticipated, but they falsely got our hopes up by their incompetence. I think we can put that money to better use than the government can... I know it was in error, but still - it was cruel to get our hopes up like that and then dash them instantly. It'll all work out and I know it's not technically ours to begin with, but still. I'm not exactly happy about it...and of course I'm going to (begrudgingly) send them a check. Not a good idea to stiff the IRS ;)

Regardless of whatever challenges we face, we can't help but feel blessed, loved, and watched over. Some I honestly would rather not deal with; who really wants to send the IRS a big fat $900 check? But I'll deal with them nonetheless. After all, the way to growth is through trial.

I just need to learn to not complain about my challenges so much and have a better attitude in general. And that alone is an on-going trial. I'll get there. It may take years (and probably will) but I'll get there.

Friday, March 11, 2011

New Blog Layout and New Pages

Lookie, I have a new blog layout. I love it. I had lots of fun designing it in Photoshop. I got to play with geniaBeana's new collab with Dylabel Designs, Dragonfly Wishes. It just came out today. I love all the bright, springy colors.

Dragonfly Wishes

Isn't it fun? It's on sale for 20% off. Image is linked to geniaBeana's ScrapMatters store.

Spring comes super late where I live. Winter seriously lasts 5 months. The snow is finally starting to melt, but we're still a ways from having real spring weather. So I had to be a little creative with my layout...


I also scrapped a page with another collab geniaBeana did with Nikki Epperson Designs. This kit is called Oh Boy; it's perfect for layouts of all the little boys in your life. Image is linked to the store :)

Oh Boy

I used one of geniaBeana's Simply Stated V2 templates for my page.

oh boy

I love how these pages turned out :D It helps that I had awesome kits to work with ;)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sickness and The Dryer

Worst timing ever: your dryer breaks...and your kids get the stomach flu. At the same time.

Yeah, that's what our weekend was like. It was definitely an adventure.

But there's more. Oh, there's always more.

We discovered Friday night that Hyrum is teething. And not just 1 or 2 teeth. Oh no. He's working on 4.

Saturday, both kids got fevers. Mostly in the 102 range, but occasionally spiking higher. Emma said her head hurt. Both kids had stuffy/runny noses and coughs. They were both pretty grumpy.

Sunday was even worse. It gets pretty gross here, so if you have a weak stomach, you may want to skip the rest. Their fevers got up to 104 and in came the vomiting. Yuck. I hate vomit. So gross. Hyrum threw up twice and Emma threw up 4 times.

Emma taking some medicine:
March 6

We obviously stayed home from church. John had to go in for an audit since he's the financial clerk. One tender mercy in this is that no one threw up while he was gone. I'm grateful for that. I think Heavenly Father knows I don't do well with vomit - especially while pregnant.

We had an especially nasty 5 minutes later that afternoon. Emma and I were resting on my bed when Emma threw up - ALL over the bed. And on my arm a bit since I tried to get the bowl to her but didn't make it in time. I went to clean myself up while John helped her. When they came into the bathroom, I saw and smelled it again. It was in her hair and all over her clothes...and I lost it, too. I threw up in the sink. John turned to Hyrum and said, "don't you start, too, Hyrum."

A minute later, Hyrum threw up too. He chugged his milk too fast. So in a 5 minute period, 3 of us threw up. So gross. John is such a sweetheart and cleaned it all up. He cleaned up all the nastiness with this sickness, in fact. I'm SO grateful for such a good husband!

So we had all this nasty bedding and clothing to wash...and our dryer was out of commission. We washed it all and tried to dry it...but no luck. I literally ran the dryer for 4 hours trying to get it dry. It turned and everything, but there was NO heat and the cycle dial didn't budge. We figured the heating element died.

Such lovely timing to not have a dryer. Thankfully, we have the BEST friends and neighbors ever. Not only did our friends bring us Pedialyte and Gatorade, but they were also kind enough to dry our bedding for us. We felt so blessed, despite the nasty bug that had invaded our home.

Fevers were still in the 102-104 range on Monday, so we took the kids to the pediatrician. Emma wouldn't let us give her any medicine beforehand; she wanted the doctor to do it. So by the time they checked her temperature, it was in the upper 104 range. Due to high fevers and throat inflammation, the doctor thought it was bacterial. He did a strep test, which came back negative. That surprised him. But he still thought it was bacterial, so he put them on antibiotics. He's seen lots of cases like this lately that later turned into pneumonia, so he wanted to get them on antibiotics to decrease the chances of that happening.

John stayed home with the kids while I went to pick up their prescriptions and do some grocery shopping. Emma was SO mad that I wouldn't take her with me. She threw the biggest fit over it. She seriously spent over an hour crying about it off and on. She was SO out of it. She loves going shopping, but there was NO way I was taking sick kids to the store.

Since Emma insisted that the doctor give her medicine, he gave her some tylenol while we were there. It was cherry flavored and she hated it. As a result, taking meds became a battle. Normally, she's really good about taking them. I think we only got about 2/3 of her antibiotic in her that day; she spit the rest out when we tried to force her to take it. Forget about trying something for the fever...we tried, but it was super frustrating. John finally got her to take a bit mixed with Gatorade...but there was more fluid than she could handle and she threw it back up. This time, all over HER blankets.

We've finally figured out that she just doesn't like the tylenol. We have the bubblegum kind, but she won't touch it. But we can get her to take the grape ibuprofen. We're making progress with the antibiotic. Thankfully, the doctor prescribed them a stronger one that only needs to be taken once a day.

Our entourage of medicines:
March 7

We finally started seeing some improvement yesterday. Emma was pretty out of it for a good chunk of the day; especially since she refused medicine AND food. But she was also really tired from staying up too late the 2 previous nights, so that was likely part of it. Plus the whole being sick and miserable thing. Her fever was still pretty high, too. But things finally started improving in the afternoon. Especially after we got her to eat and take meds.

The very BEST part about yesterday involves the dryer. John asked our apartment manager if he knew anything about dryers. He didn't, but the landlord "just happened" to be there - and he DID. So they came down to our apartment to take a look. Keep in mind that WE own our dryer, not the apartment complex. They were in no way required to help us with it. But they did.

As it turns out, it was the heating element that went out. The coil broke. The landlord then sent John to a specific store with the old part to get a replacement. John mentioned who was helping us with it and the guy at the store knew him.

Our broken dryer coils:
March 8

The new heating element wasn't exactly cheap, but it was way less than we were anticipating. Some of the friends who let us use their dryer on Sunday told us that in their experience, it was often more cost-effective to buy a new dryer than replace the heater. So we were thinking it'd be like $200. It was $58 after tax. Definitely better than we thought it'd be. Especially since we didn't have to call in a repair man and pay service and labor fees. We only had to pay for the part. We offered to bake them brownies or something for their effort, but they didn't want anything. SUCH a blessing. We can't help but feel watched over and cared for. We really are taken care of.

The kids had a rough night last night, but they slept in till 1 this afternoon. This is where I found Hyrum when I got up this morning:
March 9

And their fevers have finally broken!! YAY! Now to get through the joys of teething. But that'll be nothing compared to this nasty illness.

This is the 4th new post today, so don't miss the other 3!

Decisions and Research

We decided ages ago - long before we got pregnant with baby #3 - that we would need to buy a van before we had our 3rd child. One of my New Year's resolutions was to save money for this very reason. Little did we know that I would get pregnant that very month.

This little alteration to our timing means less time to save for it. Thankfully, we got a decent sized tax return - more than we were expecting - which will primarily go toward our new wheels.

Our plan was to buy a used van with our tax return money and get a loan for the rest. We wanted to become a 2 car family.

But after researching grad school and how much it will cost...we've made some alterations to our plan. We really don't want to go into more debt than education alone will make us. Grad school will be expensive enough. We don't need a car payment on top of that.

We will continue to be a 1 car family. We're going to trade in our 2006 Corolla and use the trade in value + most of our tax return to buy a decent used van. We already looked up the blue book value and have a good idea of what we have to work with.

Of course, there's no guarantee we'll get the actual trade in value. We were going to go in to the dealership yesterday to see what they'd give us for it, but then we all got sick over the weekend. Maybe next week.

We've also looked online at some of the used vans they have for sale. We wanted to check out one in particular - a 2007 Chrysler Town & Country. I've done lots of research and I get mixed reviews. If you have experience with these cars, I'd love to hear it. Or if you have other suggestions, I'm open.

As long as it's not Ford...I will never own a Ford. I had one catch on fire on me right after I graduated high school...had I not gotten out when I did, I wouldn't be here. So, no Fords. Ever.

We want a newer-ish van. Something safe, reliable, and preferably 2005 or newer. I'm willing to go as old as 2003 if it's the right van, but no older. Ideally I'd like something newer than the 2006 Corolla we currently own. It seems silly to me to buy a vehicle that's older than what I drive now. Any help is appreciated! Thanks!

Don't miss today's earlier 2 posts! I've got another, about our oh-so-lovely sick weekend, coming up soon.

1st OB Appointment

I had my first check up last week. I've been meaning to write about it since, but, well, life got crazy. More on that soon.

As for my appointment, everything looks great. I went in expecting to get a pap, internal ultrasound, and bloodwork. The nurses totally made my day when they told me I didn't need a pap till my post-partum check up :D Since I've never had an abnormal one, it's every 2 years. And after I turn 30 (in August! Eep!), it'll be every 3 years. Yay for less paps for me! And the lab guy comes to pick up the bloodwork at the time I was still talking to my dr, so I didn't have to be poked, either. They'll just do it next time.

It was soooo cute to see my tiny baby on the ultrasound ♥ Baby is measuring 4 days ahead of my LMP, so they moved my due date up 4 days! Sweet! I'm now due September 20th.

Isn't my baby so cute?
March 1

LOL, at one point, baby gave us a perfect legs/butt view - too bad it's too early to tell! I still really think it's a girl. Emma is very adamant that it's a girl and that her name is Cinderella :D

Wouldn't it be hilarious if I had another due date baby? I wouldn't be surprised, but I'd seriously laugh hysterically.

My next appt is April 1st. Hyrum has his 15 month check up that day, too. Since my OB office and the pediatrician office work together, the receptionist at my OB was able to look up what time Hyrum's check up is so we could have them back to back. So totally awesome. They're conveniently next door to each other, too. Love it.

I'm doing lots of updating today, so don't miss out on all my new posts!

The Red Crayon Incident

Every mom needs one of these, right?

Ok maybe not. But we had one a couple weeks ago.

It all started innocently enough. I was doing laundry. I was transferring wet clothes from the washer to the dryer. Hyrum came over and wanted to help. He was SO cute about it; how could I refuse? He put some clothes into the dryer for me.

What I didn't realize until way later is that he also had a red crayon...and it went in the dryer, too.

Imagine my surprise when the load was dry! Red spots EVERYWHERE.

Of course, it had to be a RED crayon. It couldn't have been, say, white or yellow or something less noticeable. Oh no. It had to be RED.

I was NOT happy. I had no idea how it happened. Maybe part of the red bath crayon got stuck in Emma's towel? It wasn't until that night that I remembered that Hyrum was helping me...and that a few days before, he had colored on the wall near the laundry closet with a red crayon. The same red crayon, apparently, that he threw in the dryer.

I immediately threw the load back in the washer for a special stain batch. Then I asked for help from all my Facebook friends. Everyone recommended OxiClean. We were going out that day anyway, so I picked some up.

I added OxiClean to my already-soaking stain batch and let it soak overnight. I was able to get the spots out of about 2/3 of the load. Thankfully, I got it out of Emma's super-cute blue coat, her jeans, and mostly out of Hyrum's khakis. The khakis have 2 teeny tiny light orange spots, but they're only noticeable if you really look for them.

Some items, however, still have red spots. I tried soaking them again, but no luck. Thankfully, most of the still spotted items are kid towels, washcloths, socks, underwear, and PJs.

Unfortunately, one of my favorite sleepers still has very obvious spots on it. And of course, it's a white one. Hyrum only got to wear it like 3 times before this happened; it's one of the newer ones my mom sent.

Here he is in his spotted PJs:
February 23

I seriously soaked this sleeper in OxiClean for days. I don't think those spots are ever coming out :( At least they're only jammies. But I'm still kinda bummed about it.

Hyrum, on the other hand, doesn't seem to care. He probably didn't even notice.

I've definitely learned to be more aware of what's nearby when I let the kids "help" me with laundry.