Seaside Beach Trip, Feb 2010

Just like last year, Jack and I took off for the Oregon coast to get away and celebrate my birthday. This year it was Seaside, Oregon. This time it wasn’t just the two of us. We brought one the four-legged babies; Mia.

Pretty Mia

The weather couldn’t have been better. It was warm and near 60 degrees during the day and each night we were treated to beautiful sunsets.

Jack and Mia, Seaside

Like this one:
Sunset February 20, 2010 - Seaside, OR

And this one:
Tracie's 41st Birthday, Seaside Or, 2010 145

As always when the weather is nice on the Oregon Coast, the scenery was breathtaking.

Somewhere between Tillamook and Seaside

What was different was having a puppy tagging along. She required a bit of work, but she was mostly a ton of fun to have with us.

Mia taking a short break from all the digging and running around

We spent our first night relaxing in the hotel and getting rested up because the next day was spent walking around and shopping. Mia was with us the whole time and attracted a LOT of attention from the many people enjoying the coastal shopping opportunities that day. Seaside is pretty dog-friendly. Many shops allow the dogs inside and even put out bowls of water for the pups outside their doors. Many people stopped to pet her and she enjoyed every second of it.

For Mia’s first time out on the beach we kept her leashed and close to us. The second day we got brave and let her go off-leash to see what she’d do. To our delight she stayed close to us most of the time and came running every time we called her if she wandered too far.

I called her too me

She discovered the joys of digging.

Lots of digging to be done at the beach

Jack did too. 🙂 We’ll probably pay for that this summer when we have no yard left.

We were thoroughly impressed with how well-behaved she was the entire weekend, especially being only 5.5 months old! She sure is a smart one!

Cute too!
Snuggly Mia

You can view the rest of the photos I uploaded here.

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What were we thinking??

Have you ever had a moment where you stop, take stock of your life, then wonder what the HELL you were thinking?

Today I counted. I counted how many lives Jack and I are responsible for and I damn near had a panic attack.

We have eight kids. EIGHT KIDS. The mere thought of us having eight kids is enough to give unsuspecting people a massive heart attack.

But it doesn’t stop there.

We have three dogs, two cats, 6 fish, and a hamster.

When you add it all up:

8 – kids
3 – dogs
2 – cats
6 – fish
1 – hamster

… that’s 20 living creatures we’re responsible for. Except… wait. I forgot to count ourselves. We need to take care of ourselves too! So that is…. 22. TWENTY-TWO!

Some might think the fish don’t count… since they just swim around all day in a tank. But that’s not true! You have to clean the tank regularly, check and maintain the ph, the nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia levels and treat accordingly, feed them, etc. It’s more work than you think! And the hamster? Technically that’s Sissa’s job to care for but ultimately we’re still responsible.

I’ve never really stopped and counted just how many we’re responsible for. And when I did it today (I have no idea why….) I instantly understood why I get overwhelmed sometimes. TWENTY TWO.

I have zero regrets. NONE. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just such a large number and I couldn’t help wonder just what the hell we were thinking?! I don’t think I’m going to be so hard on myself the next time I feel bad about getting overwhelmed.

I love each all 22 of us and wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. But still.

TWENTY TWO!!!

Suburban

As I posted Friday, we started looking for a new rig. We thought about a passenger van but we wanted something a bit more rugged, something that could go over a mountain if we wanted it to. Something with four wheel drive.

I did quite a bit of internet research and had my heart settled on a Chevy Suburban. Jack is more of a Ford man and wanted an Ford Excursion. Either would work. While rare, both have versions that seat up to nine people. The only problem is the larger sized Excursions seemed to be very rare. At least around here. There were far more Suburbans to look at.

We looked at an ’06 Suburban on Friday at some sort of “close out” event at a local dealership. The salesmen weren’t actually from Vancouver, though. They were just using the (otherwise empty) dealership to sell their stock of repossessed and lease-returned vehicles.

The ’06 Suburban was feature packed, but seemed a bit rough on the ride. If there’s one thing Suburbans are known for, it’s their comfortable ride. It was hard to put my finger on it, but it just seemed like the vehicle had seen some hard times. It had fairly low miles (64,100) for an SUV (most we looked into had 80K plus miles, even newer used models), and it seemed in good condition, so I chalked up the ‘rough ride’ to not being used to riding around in a “truck”. It only had 8 seats, something I wasn’t thrilled about. But at that point we realized how hard it was to find the 9 seat versions of these SUVs. We decided to make an offer anyway.

I’ve dealt with car salesmen before. Actually I should say Jack has dealt with car salesmen before. But these were the most sleaziest sales guys.. EVER.

The salesman and the sales manager sat us down in a tiny stifling hot room, whipped out their scratch paper and started writing numbers down all over the place, circling the numbers here and there, and basically doodling on the paper while trying to seem like they were working hard on “figuring out the numbers”. It took an effort on my part to not laugh in their faces while telling them to STOP with the hokey dramatics.

Despite the fact that we told them they would not be pulling our credit and that we had our own financing, they made us sign this paper stating that we’d drive the vehicle away THAT DAY if we all agreed on the terms. We hesitated at this. Why do we have to sign for anything before we even really talked numbers? They explained “the bank” (the ones who owned this supposedly repo’d or lease-returned vehicle) required it. We obeyed, then made the mistake of giving them our phone numbers.

We had already looked up the value of the vehicle at kbb on our iPhones. (kbb.com is iPhone-friendly by the way.) We already knew the ballpark figure we’d be offering. The salesmen saw what we were doing so grabbed their kbb printout of the vehicle and told us their sticker price. It was $2k higher than the suggested retail on kbb. We were like “wtf?” They just continued talking out their ass, avoiding our questions, giving us a bullshit runaround while doodling on their paper.

I have to give them this: They could write numbers and make circles really really well. My 6 year old would be proud.

What we offered was dead center of the high and low values on kbb. It was a fair price based on our research. They balked at us, but remember, their sticker price was $2k over the norm with no reasonable explanation as to why. The sales manager claimed the bank would not take the number we offered as the vehicle was going on auction on Tuesday and they would not take less for what they could get at the auction.

Jack and the “sales manager” bickered back and forth about that for a while. It wasn’t a public auction, it was a dealer auction. Did they really think we are stupid enough to believe that a dealer would pay 2k more than the kbb value at an auction? Call me crazy but that doesn’t make sense at all.

The sales manager did the “have to talk to the bank” crap and kept leaving the room to “try to get our offer approved”. We know damn well he went into another room, picked his nose, then came back. That’s how they work.

Jack stuck to his guns, stating over and over the only price we’d pay. The sales manager left the room one last time, then came back claiming he talked to the bank and the bank counter offered with 1.6k more than our bottom line. He had written it in big letters on his doodle paper, and put a few circles around it. We said sorry and turned to leave. He and the salesman chased us down to the parking lot, continuing to show us the big number and circles. We kept saying, ‘sorry. not happening. We offer this and only this and that’s that”.

He changed his tone to be that of someone who understood so he was going to work with us. Then he pointed to the SAME number again and said “we agree on this right?”.

Um… NO? Didn’t we JUST tell you 60 times NO NO NO? He was like “but come on? We AGREE!” Jack was like “no, WE DON’T AGREE”. The guy practically whined saying ‘WE ALL AGREE!!’.

Was he trying to do some Jedi mind trick on us or something??

Then he tried to guilt-trip us. He said the salesman who assisted us worked hard for us and spent a lot of time with us. So we should all AGREE on their number.

First of all, the salesman didn’t do shit. He just followed Jack around like a desperate starving puppy while Jack waited for me to arrive to the lot. Second, there was NO GAS in the vehicle. NONE. And the salesman couldn’t get their company gas card to put gas in it to allow us to test drive it. WE drove it to the nearest gas station and WE put $5 in it. Out of our OWN pocket.

That reminded us. They owed us $5.00.

The weird freaky sales manager dude with his uber Jedi mind powers (haha) kept trying to convince us that WE ALL AGREE while the sales dude went looking for $5.00. I think our eyes WERE glossed over at that point, but it really wasn’t because his Jedi mind powers were working like I’m sure he thought they were.

We got our $5 and tried to make a break for it. Jack beat me to his vehicle first and hightailed it out of there back to work. I had to buckle in a child so I didn’t escape so easily. The sales guy chased me down and tried to get ME to buy the Suburban for the number WE ALL AGREE on. I played dumb telling them my husband did all the numbers in the household and I was clueless. He tried anyway repeatedly the whole time I was getting in my car, buckling my seat belt, starting the car, and backing out. He practically chased me down the street!

He then called my cell phone later that evening. Fortunately I missed the call so he left a voice mail saying they really wanted our business. Their offer, the number WE ALL AGREE on, was still good. I didn’t return his call.

What part of WE DO **********NOT********** AGREE did they not understand?

Yesterday we did some more research online, looking for anyone who had what we were looking for. No one really did, or if they did, the mileage was way too high for us to consider. So we went scouting local dealers ourselves. And found her. The ’04 Suburban that seats 9.. .the ONE we’ve been looking for. The mileage was 4k less than the mileage on the ’06 the freaks tried to sell us, and it was priced fairly.

It also had some gas so we could test drive it without having to fork over some cash. That’s always a bonus.

I drove it first and instantly I knew THIS is what a Suburban is supposed to feel like. It was smooth, like butter and exactly what I envisioned it would feel like. That “rough” feeling was not there at all. The engine was clean, the interior in excellent condition, and had brand new tires. Overall it was in better condition than the ’06. It had the ninth seat and… it was priced seven THOUSAND dollars less than the ’06 from Friday.

I realize two years on a vehicle can make a difference, but this had LESS miles than the ’06 and was in better condition. I don’t think I’m so crazy thinking the crooks were asking way too much for the ’06.

We didn’t snatch it up though. We wanted to be sure. We spent the next several hours scouting and calling around. NO ONE had a 9 seater. Some dealers tried to sell us passenger vans instead and one even told us for a low ten thousand dollars we could convert a passenger van to a 4WD (lolz).

We looked at Expeditions, Excursions, and Explorers. We looked at Tahoes, other Suburbans (lots of Suburbans) and none compared. It all came down to the ’04.

On top of the that, the dealer selling the ’04 was good. It was the actual owner of the dealer working that day and we could tell he was reading us and acting accordingly. He recognized we wanted to be left alone and stayed away keeping himself busy but still nearby if we had a question. He let us do our little iPhone research and didn’t butt in. Even when we left to do more scouting, he didn’t give us any hassle. He just thanked us for our time and off we went. Of course we came back, with an offer in mind. STILL he didn’t push us. He let us look over the vehicle some more, talk, etc. He left us alone to make our decision.

When it was time to talk numbers, there was no scratch paper, no numbers, no circles. He told us he tried to follow Costco’s way of pricing and mark up all his vehicles a certain percentage (15%) and that was that.

The price he was asking for the ’04 was more than fair, yet Jack still managed to talk him down a bit and we all settled on a price. It was THAT easy with this guy. And guess what? WE ALL AGREED. 😉

A short time later we drove this home:
New Suburban 008

We grabbed the kids and took off for a family member’s birthday party in Portland. It wasn’t a big trip… but… WE ALL RODE IN THE SAME VEHICLE. There was no figuring out who was going to ride where, or who could go or stay. We just… went!

And for those naysayers worried about how much gas this thing is guzzling (yes we’ve already been teased for this), we’re driving ONE vehicle to haul our kids around instead of two. So we’re really not consuming any more than we were before. 🙂 We’re keeping our minivan for the times when it’s just the 7 of us, and for around town driving. The Suburban is our weekend vehicle.

Edited to add: I forgot to mention the second phone call from the sleazebags. Just after we finalized the deal on the ’04, Jack got a call on his cell phone from the sales guy from the ’06. He called to let Jack know that their offer was still standing. They were still totally allowing us to drive their crappy ’06 away for $1600 more than we wanted to pay. Wasn’t that nice of them?

Jack told them, “I just bought an ’04 in better condition and with less miles for $7000 less than your piece of crap. Don’t call us again”.

It made his day.

War has been declared

Nerf Darts... EVERYWHERE! It all started here.

The younger boys exchanged their helicopters for nerf dart guns and it’s been WAR ever since.

One of the older boys decided he needed to get a nerf dart gun. Then the other older boy decided he needed one too, then another, then a nerf dart machine gun. THEN. The oldest boy (aka Jack, aka the father of all these boys) needed one too.

Furniture is being re-arranged. Darts fly across the house constantly. I find nerf darts in the sink, on my desk, in the heater vents, in our food, in the pantry, laundry room, kitchen, dining room, and stuck to any surface a nerf dart will stick. We have small nerf darts, and big nerf darts, and glow in the dark nerf darts.

The girls in this house? Well, all the boys managed to corrupt the youngest one so she’s joined their war, while Sissa and I just put up with it the best we can. Sure we can’t watch TV from the comfort of our couch because 9 times out of 10 the couch cushions are missing since they make great barricades. It wouldn’t matter anyway since there’s likely 58 darts stuck to the TV screen. Sometimes in patterns.

In my house, it’s now quite common to find a boy, or girl, or two boys and a fully grown man dramatically crawling across the carpet, combat style, telling everyone else to shush, while somewhere else in the house you’ll hear someone scream, “YOU’RE DEAD!! I SHOT YOU FAIR AND SQUARE! (…not in the face mom…)”.

If you want to visit us from now on, I must warn you: Come fully armored. You’ll likely be greeted by 67 nerf darts flying at you from all directions and the words, “Darn I thought you were dad” the second the door is opened.

If you don’t have good balance and quick reflexes, I advise you to not come over at all. In order to navigate my house, you must be ready to dodge while navigating chairs and any movable hard surface with pillows, blankets, and possible large clothing items covering them, most times blocking the entrance to, well… anywhere. That includes the bathroom. So make sure you “go” before you come over.

OK. Fine. I *might* be exaggerating. But only a little.

Yay for sunny days!

Today
Partly sunny. Highs 65 to 70. East wind 5 to 10 mph shifting to the southeast in the afternoon.

That’s the forecast today. After the rain, hail, and even snow we’ve had for the past two weeks, I’m definitely ready for a nice day. We can get the lawn mowed, do some yard work and just enjoy being outside.

Last weekend we went shopping at JCPenney and almost took Jeff’s advise of running through the store with chocolate ice cream as pay back for them leaving an ink-filled control tag on one of the items we purchased.

Should we run through JCPenney with Ice Cream? But we were good. We ate the ice cream outside the store. And Jack managed to get the tag off on his own anyway without ruining the pants. (I couldn’t find the receipt before we went to JCP but did find it later that night. Go figure.)

The patio curtain we ordered has arrived so we’ll be picking that up and installing it today. It better work out! I am not confident the old lady working the drapery department understood exactly what we needed. She insisted this would work. So we’ll see.

Since we got a refund from the IRS this year we’re going to look into finalizing our home theater ideas. We have the wide screen TV. And while at JCP last weekend we picked up a beautiful painting to go above our couch in the family room. Now we just need the sound system, maybe some home theater sconces to go with the painting, and a High Def DVD player. Jack and the kids also want a new gaming console… either an XBox360 or a PlayStation3. I don’t want either but Jack says getting one of those kills two birds with one stone as either of them will play DVDs in high definition (or blueray or whatever is popular this week). I can’t believe they want yet another gaming console. Boys and their toys…