Thursday, May 19, 2011

Good Clean Fun for Kids - Kansas City

The Saturday morning that we spent in Kansas City, we went to the Deanna Rose farmstead.  This was a great morning trip for our crew - which included 4 children at or under 2, one child on the cusp of kindergarten, those children's parents (5 - one couldn't make it), those children's grandparents (4 of them) and one great-grandparent!  We were quite a sight.

The fees were very reasonable or free, the location was wide and spacious, and the exhibits were clean and well maintained.  It was an impressive operation - and we didn't see everything before naptime called.

A few photos:

Fun times in the wagon after petting some super sweet puppies.


Being coy around some chicks.


Hanging out with mom and watching the ducks paddle around the lake while other fish and feed the ducks.


Enjoying some shade time with Dad.


Wandering around the children's garden, listening to Grandma.


Enjoying a tour of the park with Grandpa at the helm and the family following along.


Practicing her sassy look.


Photo op with the cousins and grandparents - only part of our group for the day.



We had a great time!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mother's Day in Kansas City!

We recently traveled to Kansas City to visit Kyle's side of the family.

Our niece, Betsy, was baptized on Saturday night at Church of the Resurrection.



It was a great weekend with tons of family.  We enjoyed time hanging out and getting outside to enjoy some lovely spring weather.  We also enjoyed a tasty Mother's Day brunch hosted by Liz and Matt.  We were surrounded by people we love and who love us.  It was definitely worth the travel!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Easter.

We spent a weekend at the Lake to celebrate Easter with family.  Siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents, and more!  It was crazy and wonderful.  Olive played hard and slept soundly.  It was a wonderful, but busy, weekend.

We hung out by the fire pit with Kate and Frodo and Samwise.


Olive ate some yummy yogurt.


We went for a boat ride.




We dyed eggs (yeah, I stripped Olive down to her diaper, she still spilled orange dye ... it just landed on me) ...

and hunted them.




We got gussied up and went to church to celebrate.



We enjoyed a wonderful Easter lunch of ham, turkey, spinach souffle (a la my grandmother stouffer's secret recipe), fruit salad, deviled, eggs, and more tasty sweets than I can currently recall.

At the end of our weekend, we loaded up the car and headed back home.  It was a great time (even in the midst of some significant work craziness for both Kyle and me).  We enjoyed seeing family and watching the little ones play.  We missed seeing EVERYONE, but we're hoping to see more smiling family faces before too terribly long.

:)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Chillaxin'.

Apparently, yoga-esque moves are a fine way to 'chillax' while waiting for your parents to share a snow cone with you.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Our Purchase.

I use this blog to post information about our little family so that our friends and family can see what we are up to and so that I have a record, almost a journal, of this part of our lives.  We see that Olive changes each time we blink.  One day I will scan through these pages and savor the moments of her infancy and our early years of marriage. 

I've been on a hosting drought lately, but a lot has happened!  I'll try to catch up in bits ... first ...

After many months and huge swings in our established car purchase criteria (big car or small car, new car or used car, pricey car or even pricier car), we bought a car!

We settled on a new VW Golf with 4-doors and a gasoline engine.  (It isn't the Beetle of my dreams or the GTI of Kyle's, but it will definitely meet our needs.)

As far as car buying goes, I am very pleased with the experience.  We learned a lot in the process and I'm writing it down for next time when my memory is soft .

1. Research, research, research.  Online, in print, in person.  Consumer Reports, in-print and online.  Manufacturers' websites, dealers' websites, edmunds.com, kellybluebook.com and truecar.com.  My favorites were Edmunds and Truecar because they clearly spelled out MSRP, invoice and recent average sales prices for cars.  We collected information and then went out to kick a few tires.  (It was difficult to resist a few pushy salespeople, but we managed to extract ourselves without much harm from each research mission.)

2.  Advice.  We narrowed our search to two very similar cars.  But our resources didn't end up knocking either option out.  Then we asked a car expert (talk radio host) here in town.  He gave us great advice.

3.  Price Shop.  When we finally settled on one vehicle, we started soliciting offers.  All in all we conversed/emailed/met with 5 different salespeople (each at a different dealership).  The one recommended by the Car Pro, the one who went along on our test drive, and three from an Edmunds.com 'get a quote'/'find a dealer' inquiry.

4.  Apples to Apples.  We learned along the way that while some people wanted to sell the car at MSRP, many were willing to give us an "Up Front" price somewhat discounted from the MSRP.  We learned that some dealerships add on 'extras' that we didn't need or want (and sometimes charge 'extra' for them) and some dealerships have add-on fees, etc. that impact the bottom line after you have otherwise agreed on the 'price of the car'.  We started asking for 'drive-away' prices, including tax, title and license.  Four salespeople provided us with 'drive-away' prices.

5.  Writing.  Hello, I am a lawyer.  We got each drive-away price in writing.  By email, yes, but in writing.

6.  Pick.  We selected the best price overall (drive-away plus financing) - also the one that was willing to find our preferred color rather than sell us our second choice color that was on the lot - and signed a bunch of papers.

7.  Flexibility.  So, we wanted a white car (ok, I wanted white) but didn't want to pay a premium for it.  We clearly communicated to the dealers that white was our preference, but we were also willing to consider other colors.  (Not black, it is Houston, and the summer is coming!)  We were also flexible with our time - in two ways.  While we did visit one dealership, I conducted most of the negotiating and information gathering by email and brief phone calls.  I didn't want to waste our time or theirs.  Also, we were ready to make our purchase but willing to wait for the right circumstance. 

8.  Friendly and Professional.  After we narrowed our field to the three closest competitors,  I contacted the other two to say thank you, but no thank you.  After we drove away in our new car, I contacted the remaining two salespeople and let them know that we went another way.  In all of our actions, we tried to be friendly but firm, to treat this as a business transaction rather than an emotional purchase and to treat each of the salespeople with respect for the time they gave and the services they provided. 

Maybe our next car purchase will go even more smoothly.  (Not that we are anticipating that purchase any time in the near future!)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I totally know what she's singing ...

Toddler speak is sometimes difficult to decipher.  I recognize that even to a parent's ears it sometimes sounds like gibberish (at best). 

Olive loves music and has recently taken a fancy to 'singing.'  She'll 'sing' along with me to Jesus Loves Me, the Eensy Weensie Spider, and the Wheels on the Bus.  She'll dance or clap along with almost any music.

However, the reigning champion is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  When there is not music playing (or when she has tired of NPR news), Olive starts calling,

"Mama! ... Mama! ... Mama! ... Mama!"

"Yes, Olive?"

"Teekle ...."

and then we start singing.  Kyle thought he was off the hook until she realized that he may be more of a sucker for her cute than I am ... "Daddy! ... Daddy!" ... "Teekle ..."
This video is about a week old, and (I SWEAR!) her singing skilz have improved since then ... but if you listen closely, she really is singing.  It still makes me grin from ear to ear.


video