Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The streak is over, over here.

It is official. The AtHomeFamily is really and truly Ford free. Got the settlement check from our insurance today. We now have no ownership of any kind of any Ford vehicles. OK, I know about the Lincoln/Mercury/Mazda/Volvo/Jaguar/Land Rover/Aston Martin ownership thing but that does not count...

Until The Boss Lady's car went away, we have held the title ot one tiem or another to 4 Ford cars, one Ford truck and a Ford minivan. Now we have one import sedan, one compact SUV and the truck. Life is good. Not a blue oval in the fleet.

Here is a little more trivia for you... Of these Fords, we have had one red car, two white cars, one black car, and a forest green truck and a forest green minivan.

I assume that our insurance guy is glad to have us out of Ford Escorts. After all, he has paid for two to be totaled out and another 5K claim when The Boss Lady's first one met the rear of a school bus when it was only a couple of months old.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Treasures from the trunk

While trying to get familiar with the Mazda I have given it a good cleaning and the mechanical once over. So far I only see one big problem with the car. The front half of the exhaust system is pretty rusty.

The previous owner already had the back half of the system, including the muffler replaced. But it will be up to us to replace the rest, including the catalytic converter. The woman we bought from told us about that, so it was no big surprise.

Otherwise, I found a few treasures in the car. Under the driver's floormat I found a sticky quarter which I promptly gave to a young man at his high school graduation party. (Don't worry, I am not cheap. He also got a box of pea gravel. And some real cash.)

I was checking tire pressures this morning and I pulled the spare tire out to check it. Good thing I did, since it was about 75% low. Plus, I hit the mother lode in the trunk. Two flat head screwdrivers and three more quarters. One is a 2001 Indiana quarter, the second is a 99 New Jersey and the third is a 1967 quarter. I just thought you might be interested to know that.

Now if I find another couple of thousand quarters under the rear floormats the car will pay for it's own exhaust repairs.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Zoom Zoom, The 626 has landed

We are back to normal. Normal for us may not be reflective of REAL normal. But it works for us...

The new car is tucked safely in the driveway and the little old car is sitting out on the street. So if the UPS man decides to hit something, he is not bearing down on the 3 month old Saturn.

The 626 is a decent car and hopefully it will be a good commuter car for The Boss Lady. But I have to tell you, if she hates it, We are still OK, because with only 80 K miles, this little car still has some kick. The kids and I will be able to run the highways in it just fine.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


The salvage company just came by to pick up the Escort. The Talker is sad to see mommy's car leaving, but everyone else is ready to move on.

Except our mechanic. He is upset, too.

Escort Recap

Edit: After I spoke to The Boss Lady this morning, I learned that we actually bought the car a couple of months earlier than I remembered. So I recalculated the costs involved. But they still aren't good

Want the vitals?

We bought the Escort in May of 2001. During the 60 months that we owned it, we spent $4,981.53 at the repair shop.

This does not include tires. We bought them elsewhere.

It also does not include routine maintenance like filters and oil changes. I did that stuff myself.

But it does not sound so bad if you put it this way, we spent only $996 per year on the Escort repairs. Oh wait, that still sounds bad...

But it does not sound so bad if you put it this way, we spent only $83 per month on Escort repairs. Crap, that still sounds bad, too...

Goodbye you money sucking sub compact piece of junk. I hope they dismantle you real good.

Second Edit: We put 38 thousand miles on the car while we had it. Right at 7600 miles per year. The mileage was lower than normal because it was simply a commuter car for The Boss Lady to get to work. That and it is hard to drive a car that spends most of it's time on a lift at the repair shop.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Die Escort, Die!

This morning I got an email from a friend who used to be a Stay at Home Dad. His wife listed a car for sale this morning on craigslist. It met all of our needs and is in our price range. Plus, it has half the miles of The Boss Lady's wrecked car and most importantly has been impeccably maintained.

We test drove it and agreed to buy it tonight. We will finish up the deal Thursday night.

Now we just have to get the insurance to total out the Escort and haul it off. Just this morning I told them that we were keeping the Escort, but the Mazda is too good to pass up.

So what have we learned in this deal?

Don't slap a $130 alternator into a car that you might not keep. The auto parts store might not take it back and you'll be getting rid of a car with a brand new alternator. (And a $600 ignition system, but that is another story).

Don't go ordering $250 worth of parts off of ebay unless you are sure you are keeping the car. Luckily the vendor who I bought most of it from is canceling the order for a $10 Here is Your Money Back, Dumb Ass Fee. And I am glad to pay it, 'cause I'm a Dumb Ass!

And most importantly, don't be a Dumb Ass. Take the freakin' insurance buyout and quit thinking that you are "going to fix it up real nice".

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Escort will NOT live on

Edit: We decided to junk it, so this post is already outdated, but I like the pictures, so I'll leave it posted.

I tore down the front end of The Boss Lady's car last night. No major damage, so we are going to take the insurance buyout and fix it. At least that way we know what problems the car has, instead of jumping into a different cheap car and a whole new set of problems.

Here are a few photos, while we wait for parts.

The dent

The front end after teardown
(it looks like the driver's side is dented up in this picture, but it isn't ...)

Where do you keep YOUR bumper?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Finally a Ford free family? It's fearfully feasible...

The insurance is going to total out The Boss Lady's car. We can either get a settlement of a little over $1500 and let them have the car, or we can keep the car and fix it ourselves, but then we only get a settlement of $600 and the car will have a 'salvaged vehicle title'.

We are hoping to avoid the two car payments for another few years, and a neighbor has a Toyota that he might part with for cheap. So we might be taking the cash from the insurance and buying the Toyota. Then my dream of being a Ford free family will finally be realized.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Test Drives

To make up for driving her car into a parking lot pole and crunching the front driver's side corner on her way to work yesterday morning, The Boss Lady went and test drove a couple of cars last night.

She is considering the Saturn Ion as a replacement for the battered and bruised commuter car. She has been dreaming about the Toyota Prius, but since we might be doing something sooner than we thought, the Prius is too pricey.

The dealership we bought the Vue from has a nice 2004 Ion sitting there with 18,000 miles. It is a decent little car and with the manual transmission, it should get a little better gas mileage than the automatics that they have new on the lot. They sell mostly automatics in the 4 door ion, so they only have one sitting on the lot with the manual transmission and it has no AC. No dice. This IS Texas for goodness sake. It is summer 8.3452 months a year down here.

The quandary is this, is the 3K-3.5K less than new a new car worth getting something with 18,000 miles financed at a higher interest rate? Or should we bit the bullet, buy new, get a lower interest rate but a little higher payments. The downer is having two car payments at once. Ouch.

Because her car is 11 years old, the insurance just might total it out. But the worst part of all, The Boss Lady filled up with gas and washed her car on the way to work. So it is sitting there shiny and crunched with a $3 a gallon tank full of gas. And try as I might, I can't get the siphon hose to work. I want to get that liquid gold out of there before we send the car to be fixed/crushed/exported. Big OUCH.

Through all of this, everyone is fine. And that is all that matters.

That, and making sure The Boss Lady seriously considers the Mini Cooper Convertible before she buys anything...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Garden Eatin' Momma

For Mother's Day, The Boss Lady got a nice lunch right out of the garden. Everything in the picture, except the counter top and the bowls grew in our yard. Green Ice lettuce and beet greens, tomatoes and one itty bitty little carrot made up the salads. The Princess really wanted to pick a carrot, so she brought one in for mommy. The eggplant we sliced and rolled in wheat bread crumbs. Then it was fried in olive oil with fresh oregano and rosemary that The Talker picked for mom's lunch.

The greenbeans are the first ones we have gotten this season. Yummy with just a little bit of pepper and butter. The Boss Lady helped out, too. She grilled some chicken while the kids played in the yard and I harvested the veggies and got the eggplant cooked and the salad ready.

Now everyone else is sleeping off the feast.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Hope I picked a winner...

Our neighborhood got slammed with a couple of hailstorms lately. Every roof in the area is needing replacement, so the roofers are out in force right now, trying to drum up business.

We had a horrible experience with our last roof, so I went with a guy who came highly recommended from a friend in real estate. He told me that this company is a good one to work with.

We signed the contract yesterday and he put a sign in our front yard, to mark his turf and keep the other roofers at bay I guess. The roofer was across the street this morning writing up an estimate for our neighbors. And he told me that he has gotten two more calls from our street.

Now I am REALLY hoping he is good. Looks like the entire neighborhood might be depending on my ability to pick a roofing company.

The kindergarten teacher will be mad...

The Princess and I have been playing with her Little People A-to-Z Learning Zoo animals since lunch time.

She picked up the polar bear I said "P. P is for polar bear." She wanted to argue that the animal in her hand was a dog. She finally got frustrated with me and told me "No daddy, P is for puppy."

But I guess I can't blame her. After all, she thinks THIS is a puppy, too.

For the record, he was standing with his back feet on the floor and laying across our queen sized bed. And think, he still has a year and a half to grow!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Kid friendly truck place

I am having a tow hitch added to the Saturn Vue. So this morning the kids and I ran to a couple of shops to have them give me prices for the parts and install. We found the best deal at the first place we stopped, a dumpy old warehouse hidden behind a couple of other shops. Guess the guy does not pay much overhead out there.

But one other place really made a good impression on me. Too bad their price was 25% more for the same equipment.

Right on the front door they had the store hours posted. And underneath the Monday through Friday hours they had listed something like Closed Saturdays and Sundays, so our employees can be involved in their children's weekend activities.

I really thought about just having them do the work. But their nice show room had two Hummers sitting in it, an H2 truck and an H3. That is a lot of overhead to pay for. Guess I'll stick with my dumpy place.

Besides, the warehouse place is closed Saturdays and Sundays, too. I guess their kids have stuff going on all weekend that they don't want to miss, either.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Express 13, Omaha Royals 3

Tonight the AtHomeFamily headed out early to the ballgame. We had to grab dinner at he park, since it was Dollar Dog and Drink Night. The whole family ate dinner for $10. What a bargain.

While we were out there, The Talker tried the rock climbing wall. He made it about 1/3 of the way before deciding that he wanted to come down. Pretty awesome for a 4 year old who had never been on a real rock climbing wall before that.

Early in the game, the visiting catcher threw the boy a ball at the end of an inning. So we waited until the end of the game to get the ball autographed. Very exciting stuff for a four year old, and his daddy, too!

So we have a new piece to the baseball collection, a game ball autographed by Paul Phillips, a catcher for the Omaha Royals, the AAA team of the Kansas City Royals system. Good Times.

The Talker caught another game ball last year. A catcher for Tacoma Raniers tossed him a ball back then, but we never did manage to get it autographed. And now Ryan Christianson is playing AA ball for the Montgomery Biscuits, so we likely won't be seeing him back around here anytime soon.

The Princess also caught a ball tonight. A little soft ball souvenir that the stadium staff toss into the stands between innings. She was very excited to have a baseball of her own, and even more thrilled when mommy wrote her name on it for her. How cool is it to have a baseball autographed for yourself, by you (or by your mommy, if you still can't spell)?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Cinco day Off-o

The wife was home from work today, a day off to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. The kids and I worked most of the morning Thursday getting the house ready for Mother's Day. We scrubbed The Boss Lady's bathroom and bedroom, top to bottom. And then this afternoon, the wife told me that Mom's Day isn't for another week.

Crap. I hate cleaning and I REALLY hate wasting a good cleaning.

This evening we headed out to the ballpark. Halfway there I realized that I had forgotten the tickets. A quick couple of call from the car and the problem was fixed. We grabbed some dinner and picked up our tickets at the Will Call window, thanks to Uncle Lemon. It was a perfect night for a game and fireworks. Which they dedicated to the Mothers in the stands... So I doubted the wife's knowledge of holiday dates once more. I called her in the outfield, just to to double check. Don't cell phones rule sometimes!

And my wife is greata too. She could have suckered me into cleaning the house or something worse, just by lying about the calendar, but she didn't. Isn't that the kind of person you want educating your kid?

I guess I am off the hook for cleaning the rest of the house for a few more days. Good, because I really wanted to put it off as long as possible.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The down side to being a big kid

I was collecting all of the trash this morning, hoping to beat the garbage truck to the curb, when I got stopped in my tracks by The Talker.

Daddy, do big kids have to help with the trash?

Yeah, big kids have to help take the trash to the street. Little kids have to make sure all the trash makes it into the cans first, though. And that is a big help to me.

Do big kids GET to empty the kitty litter boxes?

Do they get to? Sure thing buddy. When you are big enough, I'll let you empty the litter boxes.

COOL! Thanks Daddy.

And if he is a really lucky boy, maybe I'll let him wash the dog, too!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Museum Week

This morning the kids and I are going downtown to the Children's Museum, because it is "Family Day" also know as "No Groups Day". The kids will have a blast today, since they won't have to compete with field trip groups for the activities. Yeah for us!

Thursday morning we are going to the university to check out the new art museum. Thursdays are free for everyone! We will have to see how crowded it gets, but it might become a regular Thursday trip.