My Little Lion

Whenever we used to go to parties where there was a face painter, Ben was always reluctant to get his face painted, even though he was always fascinated with the faces of the other painted children. He just could never sit still to have anything done, and couldn’t stand having someone touch his face.

Last year, we had gone to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market when we were in town, and there was a woman who was painting faces. I persuaded Ben to try it, and that it would be quick and easy. She did a quick smiley face on his cheek, and he loved it.

So this year, I asked him if he wanted his face painted again at the market. He was totally excited and even stated that he wanted to become a lion. His heart sank when we got there and there was no face painter to be found. I tried to distract him with other things, but he never forgot to mention the face painter.

Later in the day, though, the face painter came, and Ben went right up to her and requested to be a lion. I was a little nervous that he wouldn’t sit still for such a detailed job, but he was a total trooper and sat still the whole time, patiently waiting for his transformation.

He was overjoyed with the results, so much that he kept it on the whole day, complete with a little roar for anyone who asked, and he didn’t want to wash it off that night.

Now, he wants his face painted all the time. I’ll probably buy a kit off the internets since the Halloween stuff that’s out there is a little scary because most of them aren’t supposed to be used for kids his age. I’ll definitely post up our creations…heck, maybe it might even turn into a side job if I end up being good at this kind of thing!

Let’s Go Fly a Kite

Work has been pretty tough lately, which has left me in a pretty sour mood. The weather has been pretty bad here as well, which hasn’t helped. Years ago I bought a cheap Elmo kite at Target, but we never got a chance to use it. Ben found it again earlier this week, and has constantly been asking to go fly it. I’ve told him that the weather was bad, or it was too late.

But today was a gorgeous, breezy day, so Dave took Ben to the parking lot by our house which had a nice field next to it. The kite flew nice and high, and I was surprised how well it worked considering the fact that I only spent fifty cents on it. We even let Ben hold on to the kite, and he took the job very seriously. It was some nice outdoor family time, just what I needed after the last couple weeks!

Here’s a couple pictures of our adventure.

Woody Lives Another Day

My father in law came over this morning to fix up our sump pump, and he told me that he was out in the backyard, and he saw that there was a rabbit caught in the trellis under our deck. “A rabbit?” I asked, thinking it odd that a rabbit could get stuck under there since they’re so small. “Um, you know, that one that lives under your deck”. “A raccoon?” I asked. “Yeah, a raccoon.”

So I went outside, a little freaked because I was out in the backyard earlier that morning with Ben and didn’t notice anything. Sure enough, we had a prisoner stuck under the deck.

Now, it wasn’t a raccoon, it was Woody the Woodchuck, who you may remember me mentioning before. We’d always wondered who lived under our lower deck - we knew there was SOMEONE under there because one day when my dad brought his dog Ewok over, he went crazy barking in one specific spot of the deck, and when we looked between the wood slats, we could see little beady eyes staring up at us. At the time we thought it was a raccoon, but now I’m pretty sure it was Woody.

So anyway, I see this guy with his head stuck in the fence, much like little kids get their heads stuck in banisters. I saw him trying to get out, using his little clawed paws to push against the fence, but to no avail. I didn’t want to get near him (the pic was taken with my zoom lens) because I’m always freaked about rabies. I decided to call animal control to come and help him out, since I knew that their people would have experience with this kind of thing.

I hopped on the internet to find the number for the local animal control center, and couldn’t find it, but saw that most police departments handle this sort of thing. So I called our PD, told her that we had a woodchuck stuck in our fence. First thing she asked is if it was alive, which I guess makes sense - being the difference of having someone clean up vs. someone to battle with the beast. She asked for my address, and said that someone would be over.

Not more than 10 minutes later, the doorbell rang and a police officer was there. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I think I was expecting someone in a full, padded body suit, like the ones you see on TV where people are training attack dogs. This cop was just wearing his regular uniform.

I led him to the backyard and he once again asked if it was still alive, and I said yeah. When we came out and he saw him, the woodchuck wasn’t moving so I thought maybe he had died, but then he started blinking so I knew there was still hope. The cop looked at Woody and said, “Man, how’d he get stuck in there like that?!?” It was this comment that started me thinking that this was going to be pretty interesting.

As Ben and I stayed on the top deck, Easy on the Eyes Officer 1 put on his long, thick, animal proof gloves. (had to mention that he was easy on the eyes because seriously, I have yet to see a cop in my hood that’s your stereotypical donut loving chubster) He stared down at Woody for a bit, and tried to put his hand on Woody’s head to push it back through the hole. Woody wasn’t having any of that, though, and started to squeal and growl, basically going apeshit ballistic and trying to bite. This caused us all to jump back a bit. It was then that I noticed the raw skin on the back of Woody’s neck, making me believe that he’d been there much longer than the early morning since all his fur had rubbed off from where he was stuck.

From my deck I could see that the cop parked in the parking lot next to us, and saw another cop car pull up. Thinking that this Saturday morning was probably a slow one for crime, I still found it a little funny that they sent in two squad cars to take care of a woodchuck.

So Officer 2 comes in the backyard, asks, “How’s he get stuck like that?” and tells Officer 1 to just push Woody’s head through the hole, and we tell 2 that Woody’s fiesty and isn’t making it easy. Officer 1 tried tucking back Woody’s ears, but that didn’t work and Woody just got angrier. “There’s so much fur!”

By now, this thing is totally turning comical, with these two young policemen trying to figure out how to get this fat woodchuck out of the hole, and Ben on the deck saying, “Help him! He’s stuck!” and “Where’s the police?” Finally, Officer 1 asks if he could just saw some of the wood out to get Woody free, so I go in the basement to get a saw. As I’m in the basement, Dave’s dad was talking to the cop out the window and telling him that he bites.

I come back to the backyard and Officer 2 is still trying to give Officer 1 ideas on how to get the woodchuck out. I hand 1 the saw and he looks at the fence. Thinking that there might be some carnage, I tell Ben to look away. I know that the thought of just killing the woodchuck and taking his lifeless carcass out crossed all our minds (except Ben, he just wanted to feed the thing). Then Officer 2 tells Officer 1 to try and pull off one of the wood slats, rather than cutting into it.

Officer 1 tries that, and with a loud *pop* and an “Ugh!” of effort, pulled off a slat of wood.

…and Officer 2 runs away.

It was hilarious! I guess he thought (as did we all) that as soon as that woodchuck got free, he’d go all crazy and kill us all, so when Officer 1 got the piece of wood out, Officer 2 just booked it outta there. However, Woody didn’t get it. As soon as that piece of wood was out (the bottom left piece of wood in the picture), he tried desperately to move forward, which he didn’t have room to do. Me and Officer 1 were both giving Woody encouragement, like, “Go! Run to freedom! Backwards! Back it up! You’re free!” but it took him a while figure it out and I know that Officer 1 was thinking to himself, “Damn, what if this thing goes after me? I don’t have a full, padded body suit!”

Finally, Woody figured that if stepped backwards he would be free, and as soon as he did that, he scampered back to his burrow under our second deck. We all jumped back at this because he was so freakin’ fast, and I immediately picked up Ben and put him back in the house, which he wasn’t too happy about. Officer 1 came up the stairs to get my name for his report, and we all (including Officer 2, who had come back from wherever he was hiding to see Woody’s scamper to freedom) had a good laugh about the whole situation, and I *think* I said thanks for the help, but really, things were going so fast by then I have no idea what happened.

So thanks, Officer 1 and Officer 2, for coming by to help a woodchuck in need, not killing him, giving me a good laugh for a Saturday morning and letting Ben have a grand adventure.

Props to You at YVR

We had an excellent, relaxing vacation at Whistler earlier this week. Dave was there for a work conference, and we tagged along. Initially, we didn’t have helmets, but after Natasha Richardson’s tragedy, we decided to rent some on our last day - even for Ben, who just had sledding on his agenda. Luckily for us, the hotel let us use their helmets for free.

Anyway, when I post our pictures I’ll tell you a little more about the vacation. For today’s post, I just wanted to give a little shout out to my peeps at YVR, better known as the Vancouver International Airport.

I was kind of dreading our whole airport experience, since we’d have to go through customs. I was ready for a barrage of questions, “What are you doing in Canada? Where are you staying? How are you getting there?” etc once we met with the customs agent. In the past, I’ve always had a hard time with the interrogation that happens before I’m allowed out into Canada.

Luckily for us, Ben slept through the whole 4 hour flight from Minneapolis to Vancouver…I had an assortment of snacks and toys for him to play with, just in case. Our flight came in at around 11:30am, and Dave’s parents, who were also coming along for the trip, were getting in at around 12:30 so we decided to catch some lunch while we waited. We were a little unsure if there was a food court available after we went through customs.

So when in doubt, you ask someone, rather than find out too late. We approached the customs area, where you get in line to meet a gate agent and they check your customs form and your passports and grill you on why you’re entering the country. There was a massive line of people waiting to go through. Before we got stuck in line, I decided to ask one of the workers if there was someplace to eat after customs. He told me that there was a pretty big food court on the second floor, right after customs. I thanked him, and he saw Dave and Ben with me, and said, “Hey, since you have a baby with you, why don’t you take this line” and pointed at an area to his left, an area that I didn’t even notice, since no one was going there. Turns out that it was the special lane (special for who? I don’t know) and we walked right through, passing the massive line of others waiting for customs. We walked right up to the gate agent, who processed us quickly, without too many questions (which always gets me a little flustered). We went through customs so quickly that we had to wait a bit before our luggage came out.

While waiting, I needed to use the bathroom. So once again, I asked someone who worked there where the nearest bathroom was. He motioned to the other end of the luggage area (which was pretty far), but then looked down and saw Ben (who pretty much goes wherever I go) and then said, “Since you’ve got the kid, go ahead and use the staff bathroom, right behind you.” Score! Benjamin’s my golden ticket.

After our trip, back at YVR, we were checking in our luggage. The woman checking us in was very sweet, and was playing with Ben the whole time…she even gave him his own wings. He really got a kick out of it.

The only unpleasantness we had at YVR was at security. In the US, we’re allowed to bring juice for Ben, as long as it’s outside of our bags in an unopened container. Since it was a long trip, I packed Ben a juice box. We got stopped at security, because I guess in Canada they don’t allow liquids, even for kids. Security was very nice about it, talking to Ben and asking him if he wanted to drink his juice before going through security. So I stood at the side of security, holding Ben’s hand as he drank his juice. I fought the urge to chant, “CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!” as he drank to hurry him up. Finally, he was finished, security clapped for him, and we were through.

While we waited before our flight, we tried to get rid of the rest of our Canadian money, buying little souvenirs and food. Right before we boarded, I had forgotten that I didn’t have juice for Ben. I looked in my pocket and all I had left was $2.10 (one of those crazy $2 coins they use out there and a dime. I’ll never get used to that!). I went to the vending machines and orange juice was $2.25. I went to Orange Julius, and juice was $2.95. Finally, I went to Starbucks, and saw they had orange juice there, but there was no price. So I asked the cashier how much their juice was, and he said, “Um, I think it’s $2.10 after tax.”

“Awesome!” I said, “That’s exactly how much money I have left” as I waved my toonie and dime. He smiled and rang me up, and the cashier next to him gave him a weird look. I looked at the register, and it read, “$3.25″. I started digging into my pockets, hoping to find more change, but the cashier just waved me off and said, “Don’t worry about it” as he reached into his pocket and put in the remainder of the money. I thanked him a lot and told him how awesome he was, and he wished me a safe trip.

So I’d like to say thank you, people at YVR, for being such an awesome representation of the Canadian people. Airports to me are usually associated with frustration and annoyances, so thank you for making the process a little less painful.

And Then a Hero Comes Along…

Man, this long weekend went by so quickly!

I tried to avoid any shopping areas as much as possible - I can’t take how crazy it gets…people pushing, shoving, looking for parking spots, etc. After my family Thanksgiving, I was on the internet in the wee hours of Friday morning doing my Christmas shopping. I got most of it done, with the exception of a few people, thanks to Old Navy and Amazon.

On Friday we went to my in-laws to have lunch since we didn’t get to celebrate Thanksgiving together (Dave was on call on Thursday). We pretty much just vegged out (with a little more online shopping). My father in law had braved the crowds on Black Friday and was showing off the items he risked his life to buy at incredibly cheap prices. He wanted to go back to the mall for dinner at the new Red Robin. I think my love for a good burger is greater than my distaste for holiday shoppers, so we headed out to the mall.

After dinner, we took Ben to the kid play area. I sat and watched Ben while Dave and his father went shopping. The thing about mall kid play areas is that it’s next to impossible to keep your eye on your kid the whole time. There are a lot of things that can get in the way - the bridge slide, the climbing tree, fake cars, etc. Ben was having a grand ol’ time, climbing the slides and running around with other kids. I’m so happy that he’s finally started to interact with other kids, rather than playing off to the side by himself.

All of the sudden, I hear a woman scream, “OH MY GOD, SOMEBODY HELP THEM!!!” I looked at the woman and she was looking at the escalators behind the play area. Halfway up the escalators was a 10 year old boy…on the outside of the escalators, he was holding a 5 year old boy. I have no idea how that little boy got on the other side of the escalator, but the 10 year old was hanging on to that little boy, who was struggling and trying to get his feet on the thin ledge next to the escalators. One of the fathers who was in the play area climbed up the side of the escalators, up to the little boy, and took him from the grasp of the other boy. By this time, the boys were almost near the top of the escalator, which would have been horrible because once they reached the end of the escalator there would have been nowhere to go, and this escalator was pretty tall.

However, once the man got the little boy, they just stayed up there, because the man couldn’t hang on to outside of the escalator (which has that moving handrail going on) and get the little boy over the escalator barrier to the second floor. Fortunately, another man saw what was going on and came to get the boy. The father was then able to climb over the barrier himself. Once the father came back down, everyone cheered.

I have no idea who the parents were of these kids, though I’m sure that they weren’t related since one of them looked Latino and the other looked Indian. All the parents in the play area were concerned and shocked, so it was hard for me to discern if their parents were down there. It’s one of those things where the whole time it’s happening, your attention is on the drama, with peeks inbetween to keep watch on your own kid (who seemed oblivious to the whole thing). I think about that father, who risked his life to save the life of kid that wasn’t his own - little things like that often get overlooked in our society today.

When we got home, I asked Ben what he did that day. He talked about going shopping, getting toys, running around with kids, and then he said, “and there was a kid crying on the escalator”. I guess he does pay attention…

Trying to Raise the Dead

The other day, Ben and I went to the wake for our grandmother (not a blood relative grandmother, but I’d grown up with her so she’s just like a real grandmother). It was Ben’s first time at a wake, and I know that a lot of people don’t expose their kids to dead people, but I grew up going to wakes and funerals, so I don’t think that Ben needs to be shielded from it. Truthfully, some of my favorite childhood memories were in funeral homes.

Seeing my grandmother’s body didn’t really affect him - he didn’t ask why she was sleeping or why she wasn’t moving. He just made his spider fingers toward her and waved goodbye as we passed. After that he played with his cousins in the child playroom, building blocks, moving around cars, screaming and yelling like little kids usually do. At one point, they had set up chairs in a line and were sitting in them, and we figured it would be the perfect time to take some pictures. The thought was easier than the execution - it’s hard to get five little kids to sit still and smile, all at the same time. Eventually I got this picture, which doesn’t have a lot of smiles, but at least they’re all sitting down!

Near the end of the night, we went back to the main viewing room. Ben was chasing around his little cousin Leo, who was enjoying being chased. I had gone into the lounge to gather our jackets so I left Ben with my aunt. I guess while I was gone, Leo running around and went into the wake across the hall. He ran into the room, with Ben soon behind him (of course, people who were watching them caught them a little too late) As Ben ran into the room, he raised his hand up into the air and screamed “Roooooooooooooooooowr!!!!”, trying to scare Leo, but which I’m sure scared all the people there for the wake. Fortunately, they were pretty good natured about it and didn’t get angry. After that we made sure to keep the kids in our area.

With the seriousness of a funeral home aside (as well as the fact that people may consider it disrespectful to the dead), I kind of find it funny to think of Ben, running into that room, stopping in the doorway and making his best dinosaur sound. ROWR!!!

Insert Foot in Mouth

When I was little, I used to have recurring dreams about sharks. The most popular shark recurring dream was me about to get into the bath and finding the bathtub filled with sharks. I think that’s why I’ve never learned how to swim - there’s always a part of me that’s terrified of what lies beneath the water.

I don’t have those dreams anymore, but I still have recurring dreams. My recurring dreams now are of me losing my bottom front teeth. It’s weird, I know, but in my dreams my teeth fall out at random times. You’d think that this would prompt me to go to the dentist to make sure that this doesn’t happen, but the opposite has happened - I’ve been avoiding the dentist because I hate the pain and a little, tiny part of me is afraid my teeth are going to fall out.

However, I’ve been feeling a bit of sensitivity in my molars, and I know that I can’t avoid the dentist forever, so I went online and searched for a dentist with some good reviews. Luckily, there was one by my house. So I made an appointment.

Once I got there, there was a TON of paperwork to fill out. Your usual “new patient” stuff - medical history, who to contact in case of emergency, etc. There were also questions like, “Does going to the dentist make you nervous?” (yes) “what don’t you like about going to the dentist?” (PAIN, that scraping sound, PAIN) “Do you have any special needs?” (i need to keep my teeth) and “when was your last cleaning?” (I have no idea!). I wanted to make it pretty clear that the last place I want to be is in the dentist’s chair.

After filling out my paperwork, the dental hygienist called me into room with THE CHAIR. I got myself ready for the inevitable pain and that I was going to be in for a really rough cleaning because of my dentist avoidance. My hygienist was a friendly Filipina, and when she sat me down we talked a little, and it went something like this:

HER: You look really familiar, have you been here before?
ME: No, this is my first time here
HER: Do you live in the area?
ME: About 10 minutes away, though I’m not usually around here. I don’t think we’ve met before.
HER: Hmm, I guess not. But I swear I’ve seen you before…
(now at this time, I’m thinking, “Oh my god, what if she’s a blog reader?!?”)
ME: Umm, I don’t know
HER: Where did you go to school?
ME: I went to U of I
HER: Oh! OK!
ME: Did you go there, too?
HER: No, not me, but do you know “Bill XXXXXX”? (names have been changed, obviously)
ME: Oh yeah! I know him! He used to date my best friend “Jamie YYYYYYY”
(Now at this point I’m thinking it’s his sister or cousin…but then she says…)
HER: (Pausing) I’m his fiance.


Now right after she says that, a million thoughts race through my mind - first one is, “DAMMIT! WHY DO I HAVE SUCH A BIG MOUTH!” Other thoughts revolved around the fact that for the next hour she would be holding sharp instruments inside my mouth, possibly even a drill. Why did I say I was best friends with her fiance’s ex? Why was that nugget of information important? Couldn’t I just have said, “Yeah, cool man, I know him…” Instead, I just laughed and congratulated her and told her how great of a guy he is (because he IS a great guy) but it was a little weird.

Lucky for me, she was an absolute sweetheart and constantly asked me if I was OK. There was a lot of scraping going on because of my infrequent use of dental floss, and the retainer on my bottom front teeth is every dentists nightmare to clean. However, she said that for someone who hadn’t been to a dentist in recent memory (and come on, with my memory I could have been to the dentist last week and not remembered) she said my teeth weren’t all that bad. I’ve got a couple cavities that need to be taken care of in a couple weeks, but after that, I should be good to go. No root canals, no plucked teeth, no dentures, just ask long as I make sure to take good care of my teeth.

The visit went so well that I decided it’s time for Ben to go to the dentist. He’s got an appointment today and I’m really curious to see how it will go. We brush his teeth as often as we can, and he always get a little sticker afterwards. He’s still a very clingy child, so I’m not sure if he’ll like the dentist’s chair that much. I’m preparing myself for a lot of screaming, clawing and a good case of hives breaking out during his checkup. Wish us luck!

update: thanks to the other tara - i know i had looked up the interpretation of the falling teeth dream before, but I had forgotten what it meant. click here for the interpretation of the falling teeth dreams.

Never Give Me Keys

When me and my sisters were little, we were “latchkey kids”. Does anyone remember that term? There were times that we had people at home, like my grandmother, aunts or uncles that lived with us, but we always had keys to get into the house, just in case no one was home.

As a kid, I was pretty irresponsible, and I lost EVERYTHING. Especially my house keys. It got to the point where my father gave me a HUGE keychain. You know how doctor’s offices use those big ass paddles to hold their bathroom keys? That was pretty similar to the one my dad put on my house keys. He wanted to make it big enough so I didn’t lose it. Even with that, I still lost those keys once or twice.

I had flashbacks to my youth this week, after I had lost my work keys. Even though I work at home, I’ve got a keychain that holds luggage keys and a little electronic code generator that I need to log onto our network VPN (don’t bother stealing it - you need the code AND my secret pin to log in). I can work just fine outside of our network, but if I want to use outlook or our company’s intranet sites, I have to be logged in. I am constantly misplacing my keys, usually finding them stuck inside or under the couch. However, in the last weeks, these keys have been MIA. I was a little worried that they could have been packed away somewhere while we were getting ready for an open house, or even worse, that Ben could have thrown them in the garbage (which he NEVER does, but who knows that that kid does when I’m not looking?). Usually when I’m done using my keys, I through them in my backpack, but I digged through the 200 pockets in my bag and didn’t see them. I was starting to get worried since I needed to log into request time off for the comic convention.

Finally, after ransacking the whole house, I decided to empty out my backpack. I know that I said that I had digged through my backpack, but to tell the truth, there’s a lot of crap in there. I’ve got tons of pens, a graphic tablet, mouse and stylus, a flask shaped external hard drive w/usb cable, a USB cable for my camera, nail cutter, 2 sets of ear buds, 2 packages of thank you cards i’ve never sent out (so if you gave Ben a gift for his birthday, THANKS!), a camera filter, a couple flash drives, old CDs, loose change, papers, envelopes, and loads of other junk. There was a chance that in the 30 times that I had checked my backpack, that I had missed it.

So I started taking things out, and discovered, in pocket #153, my keys. They had been in there the whole time. Argh!

Maybe I need to ask my dad if he has an extra paddle-sized keychain that he can lend me…

I Saved a Life Today

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of roadkill on the streets. I don’t know if it’s because it’s springtime and I never noticed it before or if there really has been a surge in careless wildlife, but every day when I go out there seems to be a new dead body on the streets. Just today Dave’s father told me that one of the neighborhood goslings was killed in a hit and run.

So I’m driving Ben home from his grandparents today, when I see something on my side of the street. Is it another roadkill victim? A rag? A rock? Then it moved! As I came closer, I realized what it was. It was a turtle! I’d only seen a turtle in the wild once, and that was in Florida. I didn’t even know that Illinois had native turtles until I looked it up in the internet. I swerved around the turtle, and noticed that it was going pretty slow. (yeah, I know, DUH, it’s a turtle). I decided to come back around and play crossing guard for the turtle. I put on my hazards and stopped in front of the turtle, and waited for it to pass, forcing other cars to pass me on the non-turtle side. I then repeated the action when the turtle got into the other lane.

Once the turtle made it safely to the parking lot across the street, I brought Ben out of the car to meet him. Ben LOVES turtles. So we stood in the parking lot for about five minutes as Ben talked to the turtle and finally I had to drag Ben away, because the turtle was too afraid to move while we were standing there. I carefully drove around him and Ben waved goodbye to his new friend.

I Fought the Law, and I Won

Over the last couple months I’ve been able to get out some sticky situations, just by saying something. Normally, I’d just accept these things or pay up, just to be done with it, but I’ve realized that sometimes, if you question things, the other party is just as willing to say, “It’s ok, nevermind.”

First, I got a notice for me to come to Jury Duty. My dad brought with him when he came for a visit because sometimes I still get mail at home. I was pretty bummed to go to jury duty, especially since it was scheduled for Ben’s birthday. I debated on whether or not I should call and reschedule when I realized that it was a request for me to come to Cook County court - I’m a resident of DuPage county. (yes, I know that technically I can’t call myself a Chicagoan especially since I don’t even live in the county but I don’t care if I become one of those annoying suburbanites that says they live in Chicago! I was born there!) So I called the hotline number and said that I got the jury duty request at an old address and I was currently a resident of another county. The lady told me to send them a copy of the jury notice and a copy of my driver’s license and I could request to be get out of it. I did it, but still hadn’t heard anything from them the day before I was scheduled to go, so I called again and I was told I didn’t have to go. Yay!

On Easter, we went downtown for lunch. Since I work at home, I don’t go out much other than quick shopping and errands. When we got back to my car, there was a ticket on it. Why? Because my license plate stickers were expired - by 5 months! There was a bit of arguing between me and Dave as to whether or not I had actually paid for new stickers, as well as the aggravation that even if I did, I didn’t put them on the car. I remember seeing stickers, but not sure if it was for Dave’s car or mine. I wasn’t thrilled at the thought of having to pay the $30 fine. When we went home we searched for new stickers and fortunately found them. But did I still need to pay the ticket? Or does the law say that you’ve got to drive around with updated stickers? Still high off my Jury Duty victory, I decided to try contesting my ticket, even if it meant going to court. So I made a photocopy of the updated stickers along with a letter saying that we hadn’t put them on the car yet and sent it along with the ticket. 2 weeks later I got a letter in the mail that said that since I provided proof of sticker, I was in the clear. Yeeeeah!

The last instance was with our I-Pass. In Illinois we have a toll system, and you can get a little box you attach to your windshield that is connected with an account so you don’t have to pay with cash. That account is pointing to a credit card and it pulls money from your card whenever it needs to be recharged. So I was surprised when I got a $450 bill in the mail because we’d been missing tolls (Dave takes the tollway every day to work). That bill included the cost of the tolls PLUS a penalty for each toll missed. Turns out that I never got notified that the card on the account had expired and I needed to enter a new expiration date. The last time that happened I got an email to tell me to renew - not this time! I called in to ask about it, and they said that the credit card always needs to be kept up to date. I realized that this was a fight I wasn’t going to win, so I sent a check in the mail (after updating my card information for our account). Ironically, I forgot to write in the amount for the check so it got returned with a letter that I could send in a money order or pay by phone. When I called to pay, the lady asked me, “Do you have an I-Pass account?” I said that I did, and let her in on my sob story. She told me she’d apply the fee to my account so we didn’t have to exchange credit card information. I thanked her and got off the phone. A couple days later I checked my account to see the damage, and guess what? She only took off the cost of the missed tolls - not the penalty fees! Instead of $450, it was only about $15.

So I’m feeling like I should be playing the lottery or something. I was thinking that I’d play 4-8-15-16-23-42 but then I remembered that the numbers are bad, so I’ll have to think of something else…