Saturday, June 16, 2012


Jonathan's reading ability is improving by leaps and bounds. He's reading The Hobbit with Gabe, Ginger Pye with me, and all sorts of books by himself. This morning we all piled into bed to read together, and Jonathan asked to read the first book (chosen by Josiah). Isn't it great?

Happy Anniversary to us!

For our 9th anniversary (ninth!) Gabe and I deposited our rambunctious little boys with Grandma and Grandpa, wished them well (the grandparents that is - the kids were ecstatic) and took off to Joshua Tree for some rock climbing!

We went with Joshua Tree Guides, which took all the "how do we do this safely?" questions out of the mix, leaving just the fun! Our guide Miriam was knowlegeable and fun; not only did she have us climbing rock faces,

she also took us scrambling inside one of those crazy piles of rock that you see all over the Joshua Tree National Forest. This one is called the Chasm of Doom. :)

No photos of scrambling, because you can't exactly carry a camera with you when you're climbing around inside a big pile of rocks. But it was AWESOME. I haven't had that much fun in a long time! I totally want to take the boys when they're just a few years older. They would love it.

Our plan was to camp out that first night. But when we set up the tent, we discovered that our pathetic tent stakes were no match for the rock hard ground. They simply folded in half when you pounded them.

It was windy, so we weighted our tent down and hoped for the best. But it turned out that there was a high wind advisory that night, so at around 10pm we found ourselves taking the tent back down (try doing that in a high wind!) throwing everything into the back of the van, and heading to a hotel for the night. It certainly wasn't the way we'd planned the evening, but it was an adventure and the hotel turned out to be really nice. :)

Here we are enjoying ourselves. It is hard to take non-blurry pictures when you're laughing and your camera is on the wrong setting.

At the end of our weekend we went to a little French restaurant for brunch. We went late and ended up having the entire restaurant to ourselves! Our waiter was a great blend of professional and personable. He took our picture for us: aren't we cute?

And I meant to take a picture of our lovely dessert, but you'll just have to take my word for how pretty it was. Yum.

It was a fabulous weekend and a great way to celebrate nine years of marriage. Here's to many, many more!


Have you read Christina Katerina and The Box? I loved that story as a child, and I still love it! About a month ago I noticed an offer on Freecycle for a "very large box". Of course I jumped at the chance! We barely got it home, it was so big, but oh it has been worth it. :)

The kids turned it into a fort.

A few weeks later, it became a cliff, off of which they took flying leaps of great daring. When the cliff collapsed, it became an slide (sometimes for penguins - headfirst).

Once the slide fell apart, they turned it into a chasm,

and then a new kind of fort.

Like Christina Katerina's mother, sometimes I would like my space back. But really, I love watching their creativity and active play, and it is worth giving up the living room. :)

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The cost of being gullible. :(

Here is the sad sad story of how to lose $400 by being gullible. I hope my readers learn from my mistake. (Also, if you know of anyone who has had a similar experience, please encourage them to report it to the police. I have.)

Two men approached me in the Target Brea parking lot on Wednesday, May 23rd. The man who spoke with me was Caucasian and said his name was Mike M. from Bumper to Bumper Auto Body Repairs. He wore a blue jumpsuit with his name and the name of the shop printed over the pocket. He had tools in the car and said that he worked at the shop over in Arcadia but was trying to pick up some extra work on the side due to the tough economic times. He was friendly, likeable, and inspired trust. His partner was Hispanic, didn't ever speak, and wore jeans and white t-shirt. Mike said they could fix the (fairly significant) dents/scratches in my van for $350. He said that they would come to my house or anywhere I chose, do the repair, and then wash/detail my car. He said I wouldn’t pay anything until the work was done and I was satisfied.

They drove a white vehicle that looked brand new. It had a CARMAX sticker on the front windshield, which stated the VIN as 2A4RR4DEXAR368715.

I was told that they could only do the work this afternoon, but I declined, saying that I couldn’t make a decision without asking my husband. Then they gave me a phone number and asked me to call them if I changed my mind. After speaking with Gabe, I did call them and asked if they could come the following day instead. They agreed to come the next morning at 11am.

They came out about an hour later than stated, around 12pm on Thursday, May 24th. Thomas and Siah and I watched for about 20 minutes, and they did seem to know what they were doing. Mike told me that he had grown up in the business because his father had owned a shop. Eventually I left to go feed my kids their lunch. When I came back out (approximately 2 hours after they started work), all the work was covered in a gummy substance, which Mike told me was “wax” that needed to stay on and dry for a couple of hours. He said it would easily wash off after that.

They asked me to pay them $500, since it “took so much longer than expected”. That made me mad, especially since they hadn’t washed the car (and apparently couldn’t, because the wax needed to dry?) I did pay them $400, which I am seriously regretting now.

I paid them with a check, although they definitely would have preferred cash. They gave me a drivers license so I’d know who to make it out to – supposedly it belonged to the Hispanic man. The name on the license was Michael W. Nicholas, and the number was D6914526. They then asked for directions to the nearest bank where they could cash my check.

Mike assured me that if there were any problems, I only needed to call and they’d come back out and take care of it. I kept the number in my phone (626-235-3749). A few days after the repair, I called to ask him to come back out since the “wax” wouldn’t come off and the dents/scratches were still there. He said he was out of town, and to call him back in two days. I did so, and the phone number no longer works.

It is embarrassing to admit to this level of gullibility, but I'm putting this online in the hopes that it helps someone else avoid my mistake. And again, if this has happened to you, CALL THE POLICE. Both departments which I spoke with were very kind and helpful in taking the report.