Saturday, April 25, 2009


I guess there is no better way to kill time (besides reading the lessons for church tomorrow...which I have already done) than to give you some more details about our lessons learned this last month. Why am I killing time at 2:00am, I should be in bed...right? No. Abigail has thrown up three times in the last hour and a half and I don't dare shut my eyes for fear of not being close by when she needs me. No, the truth is I hate being woken up from my slumber prior to the time I am ready to be awake. So, I choose not to sleep until I know that I will be able to get in at least a solid three hour block of sleep.

I hope that Abi has got it all out of her, so we can both get some rest. She is so beautiful and sweet. After the first time she threw up, she looked up at me and said "I did a good job throwing up mommy!"

Where should I start...ahhh, the Camry. We got this car for a steal of a deal and drove it around for a while when the alignment began to seem a little off. So Todd asked me to take it to Sears to get it aligned, which I did (this was back in October). It was at Sears that the technician informed me of $1800 worth of front end work that needed to be repaired even before they could align the car and that it needed new tires. And, he was surprised that we were even driving the car at all as the steel of the tires could be seen through the rubber as well as something bad with the front end (all I hear when mechanics start talking is "blah blah blah blah blah") and we were lucky to be alive at all.

So I put my three little children in the back seat and slowly drove home praying the whole way that we wouldn't crash and die. We still had to go trick-or-treating! So, the Camry sat in the garage until we got our tax return. This is where the saga gets a little more dramatic.

Oh, the tax return. Doesn't everyone always have lists as to what they could do with the money? We had a dozen different lists (okay, maybe not a dozen, but a few).

1) The Dave Ramsey way would have us throwing every red cent of the money into our student loans so that we could pay down our debts and start having financial freedom.

2) The practical way would have suggested that we get the Camry in working condition, set some aside for the sprinkling system and then use the remainder to go towards those student loans.

3) Have fun! Reward yourself for all that you have been through the last year and splurge.

What do you think we did?

We took the Camry into a few different shops to get bids on the car and even see if it was worth repairing. Two different shops told us that it was a very good car and that after a new transmission and the front end work, it would be like new and we should be able to have another 100,000 miles on it. So, we took it to one of the places. They fixed it. That's what they thought. Todd was so fuming mad when we drove home after putting so much money into it, that I called the repair shop up right away and complained (Todd truly had steam coming from his ears...I did not want him on the phone with anyone). I explained to them that they had assured us that this would fix the problem. I then told them that we could not put any more money into the car, as if we were going to put more money into the car, we may just have well bought something newer. The next morning, they sent over a tow-truck, worried that if we drove the car anymore it would cause damage to the engine. (glad I didn't go to sleep, Abi had to make another trip to the toilet) They called the next morning telling us that it was "blah blah blah blah blah" and that it turns out the transmission may not have been the problem. WHAT!!!!! And since the new items weren't covered in the lifetime warranty because they didn't involve the transmission, we would have to pay for them.

So, it took them three weeks to get the car in order, then we took it to another place to do the front end work. Todd and I were leery about the whole thing and took the Camry to the dealership to have them make sure that everything was in order. They said that the front end work was good, but that there was a leak in the transmission and it should be taken care of. So, back to repair shop #1 we went and another week later they gave us the car back....working worse than it did before.

So, I called them on Monday with three different options. None of which involved us putting anymore money into the car. They chose option number three. They took it to the dealership, had them make the repairs and did not charge us for it. We got the car back today and it is running much better. I hope that it stays that way...the last thing I need is my husband stranded on I-15 after work without a cell phone to let me know he won't be home in time for dinner. So, if you do see a very handsome guy standing on the side of the road kicking the crap out of a little old blue Toyota Camry, stop and give him a ride home.....please.

But...that's not all! We used some more of that tax return money to put in a sprinkling system. One season was enough to let Todd and I know that we can't keep up with as much yard as we've got by hand watering. So Todd did all the figuring (heck, he put in the sprinkling system in our first home without any hitches and it worked great) and ordered the materials and they were sent. My brother R.J. even let us borrow a ditch witch from his place of employment to dig all the trenches!

Night one of digging trenches proved somewhat successful. Upon R.J.'s arrival, he tried to start the ditch witch, only to pull the cord too hard and have it fall off in his hands. So they had to return it and pick up another one, but the guy who has a key to the shed lives in Bountiful, so they had to wait for him to come...which set the schedule back a bit. But it did mean they got to use a newer nicer ditch witch.

It was hilarious watching those guys maneuver that huge machine, they got it stuck a couple of times and on occasion it would get away from them. All humor ended when they cut into a comcast line. You must be asking yourself, "Didn't they call Blue Stakes?" No. We didn't. Here is our lame reason why: There has been construction going on our street and before they began construction they painted lines all over our yard and curb and stuff, so we thought we were covered. But, obviously, we weren't.

The Comcast guy came out grumbling and complaining the next morning (hey...isn't what we did giving him job security? He should be thanking me!). He put a patch on the cord and we got a bill for $440 today.

The following morning, Todd was so very worried about using the ditch witch again, so he decided he was just going to use shovels the rest of the time. I knew that it would be best if the kids and I were out of his hair, so we began packing a lunch so we could spend the day at Thanksgiving Point. As we were heading out the door, Todd got a call to arrange for guys to go and help a sister in the ward move, so this meant that the sprinkler project was going to be put on hold. I went my way and Todd went his.

When I returned home, I was happy that my kids were asleep in the car and rightfully so after a very long and exhausting chase around the Tulip Festival. Note to self: Outings with all three kids requires one adult per child...possibly two just to handle Carly alone. But, upon transferring from car to bed, they all woke up with great zeal....especially when their cousins showed up! Todd's brother Ike had gathered all the guys in their family to rain down upon our yard and help with this massive project. Ike's such a good guy.

Two of them set off right away using the ditch witch. A few more started laying pipe and it was fantastic the amount of work they were able to get done. I picked up the phone to call someone, and the line was dead. We had cut our own phone line (I say "we" because I don't want to place blame on anyone and it really is our fault for not calling blue stakes)!

On Monday, the Qwest guy came out and informed me that we had cut our line in several places. He would send out a contractor to come and dig ditches, and he would be out after that to lay a new cable. I asked how much it was going to cost to have someone come out and dig more holes in my yard. $600-$800. My jaw dropped. I pointed at all of the beautiful trenches in our yard and said, "Since we are obviously so good at digging holes, can't we just dig our own?" This pleasant and helpful guy said that he would just follow the lines we already had dug, if we could dig two more small ones. It's always nice to have someone on the other end who is willing to work with you. So, Todd dug more trenches...using the shovel.

I bet you are wondering if we were able to pay off any loans after all of these expenses? No. We didn't. Maybe we could have. But, before any of the above were paid for, we splurged. We bought a home theater system....for our basement....that's unfinished. It is very loud and the volume is usually kept at a -25 (that's a NEGATIVE 25). The little kids are rather intimidated by it and the little guy I tend doesn't like being in the basement because "It's silly and scary." Yes, it is a little intimidating for someone so small. But on many a boring night, we have been able to pop a bag of popcorn and watch a flick all cuddled together. Family. Isn't it about.....time?

Oh, and we had to pay a few medical bills. As it turns out, Connor's trip to the emergency room (despite my doctor recommending I rush him there for symptoms of sinusitis) wasn't covered by our insurance because he was only diagnosed with the common cold. And the remainder of the bills from Carly's cast.

So, now with our bank account back to it's very sad and lowly state, we agreed to not play the "shoulda-woulda-coulda" game as it gets us nowhere. We will forge ahead. Will we make these same mistakes again? No. You can only put a sprinkling system in a yard once. If the Camry needs another repair, you can bet that we will drive it off a cliff. And what are the odds that we are going to need another big tv with lots of speakers? But, as we have always learn best from your most painful mistakes.

Stay tuned for more mistakes, as I am sure we will make new ones (hopefully they won't cost as much money). As for me, I think Abi is out for a while and I am going to get some shut eye.


SamandJasonfamily said...

I feel your pain, we have had one of those years too.

ashley said...

We've had years like that too. I remember complaining to my mom asking her when our luck would change. You'll learn. Crap will still happen but it'll get better.

Celeste Weekes said...

Wow, you guys have had such a hard time! In a small way I feel your pain! Shane and I had the WORST luck last year, unemployment for 3 months, cars breaking down, family deaths one by name it! Sometimes I think these things happen so they can put life in perspective for us. It's hard but it makes us SOOOO much stronger, and smarter! At least we'll have earned our grey hairs! When you step back and look at it, you have your beautiful family, who needs more than that? All the rest is just "stuff"! Hopefully your car holds up and this year continues to improve for you all!

Miranda said...

My new out look on life...what doesn't kill ya only makes ya stronger. There is a new song about it...I've downloaded it and listen to it daily. It's also the ring tone on my phone.:0)

Heather, Dan, and Family said...

Ouch. Sounds a lot like our weekend too. Too many car and house expenses and not enough fun! Oh life.

Heather B said...

Ooooooooohhhhhhhhhh Mel...we are so having similar issues, and I am really trying to keep the attitude of, "We learned from it...move on"- but sometimes it's hard. Our van sounds just like your Camry. Only we couldn't get the original guy to fix it. He took our $800 dollars, and returned the van to us in much worse condition. He put a couple hundred miles on it too. That's what we get for going through a private mechanic (and we went against our better judgment on that.) Anyway, that's quite a story. You know, the kind we'll supposedly look back on and laugh. Someday. That was smart of you to stay up in case Abi needed you again. You were right. Good luck with everything.

Nik said...

I love you Mel! You are such a good woman and I am so glad we are friends. Life sure takes us for some interesting turns, but thankfully we have to gospel that helps us to put it all into perspective..... isn't that why we are here to learn and grow????? Love you!

Jon said...

Holy Moley! That's wild! I hope that someday soon you'll be able to look back and laugh at this.

Wendi and Eric said...

Oh ya, we also have a long waiting list of things to chew up our tax return with. I am so glad you splurged. You guys deserve it. And hey if it brings the family together it's a good thing.

Your house is looking beautiful! You are so creative. I love the drama in the bedrooms!

Kelly said...

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