So frustrated with our timeshare

About 5 years ago, Jody and I committed the biggest, most expensive mistake learning experience of our lives. We bought a timeshare. It cost us $10,000 and is not anywhere near being paid off. In fact, it’s now rolled into our home equity loan to get it off a super high interest rate. Oy.

They promised us it was a great investment. “Think of all the great memories you can make with your family on vacations.” “Think how much you will save over the years by buying this versus staying in a hotel.” Etc.

Were we gullible? Yes. Naive? INCREDIBLY! Uninformed? YES!

Come to find out a few years down the road, the resort we thought we bought into (a really nice, upscale resort) isn’t even the resort they sold us! They seriously pulled a fast one on us and we were none the wiser.

We’ve had the timeshare for 5 years, but due to limited vacation time from work, having a baby, etc., only had the opportunity to use it 3 times. (One of those times was in Florida at a complete DIVE.) Yet, every year we have to pay around $400 in maintenance fees.

We’ve been talking about getting rid of it for a couple years now, but never done much about it. After getting our latest bill for $463 (maintenance fees) due in January and not having the money to pay it, we are getting serious about this.

We’ve done some research and one thing is clear – timeshare companies and resellers SUCK! You can really only make back about 30-50% of what you paid for it (and oftentimes much less than that!). Nearly everyone is out there to “f” you over.

We recently contacted a place to advertise through. They want $500 up-front to list it. And then there’s no guarantee it will sell. Ever. Turns out that company is on the shitlist of the Better Business Bureau. Go figure.

We thought about donating it to charity and taking a tax write-off, but that doesn’t work either. Bunch of legal crap makes it pretty much impossible.

So now we’re at the point of possibly listing it on ebay, selling it for whatever we can get (probably only a few hundred dollars), and being done with the damn thing forever.

It’s just been such a huge headache for us. If only I’d known then what I know now I NEVER would’ve agreed to such a purchase. (Famous last words, right?)

Anybody want to buy a timeshare? It’s a one bedroom, one week slot at a resort in Las Vegas. Seriously, if you think you would use it, it might not be a bad investment. Especially considering how cheap we are willing to sell it. Let me know. I’m not joking.

If Jody and I are ever fortunate enough to retire and we want to look into something like this again, we would NEVER, EVER buy through a developer again. It’s amazing and frighteningly scary how many people are trying to get rid of their timeshares.

Let this be a lesson to you all. Never buy something without sleeping on it first.

Off to do more research…

Just a quickie

A quickie blog, of course. πŸ˜‰

Thanksgiving went well. The turkey came out fine despite the thawing scare, as did all of our accoutrement. It was a very yummy dinner, but oddly enough, Jody and I talked about the fact that we’ve been thinking about going vegetarian again lately. Hmmmm. We played a round of Cranium (bending the rules a bit so that just the two of us could play) Thursday night. It was fun to do something like that together (and even more fun that I won – barely). πŸ˜‰ And Ava enjoyed playing with all the game pieces. It had been a long time since we broke out any games.

This weekend I took newborn pictures of my friend’s baby girl. She was 11 days old and was a little doll! πŸ™‚ While I know I still have a lot to work on with regard to my photography skills, I am pleased with several of the pictures (which I’ve been working on proofing the past couple days). But I do need to learn to trust my instincts during photoshoots and go with what I think will work best and not be afraid to redo certain shots if I think they need it, etc. It’s hard to trust yourself sometimes. Anyway, I’ll post some pics in a few days (after my friend sees them first). πŸ˜‰

It’s been nice having Jody home for a four-day weekend. Ava has enjoyed all the daddy time and I’ve enjoyed extra help around the house. πŸ™‚ We didn’t do anything exciting, but we did finally get all of our leaves bagged up. There are about 20 bags out on the curb awaiting pick up this week. It’s good to have that done.

Ava took a bad spill in the driveway yesterday. She bent over (downhill with the slope of the driveway) to pick up a stick and gravity got the best of her. She went right over head-first and didn’t have time to break her fall with anything other than her face. πŸ™ The left side of her face and nose got pretty scratched up and bruised, but it’s already looking better today than it did yesterday. Poor lil sweetie. It’s so hard to see her get hurt. Edited to add: Here she is today – 11/28 – with the scrapes remaining. They don’t seem to bother her, though she says “ow-yah” (Ava for owwee) when she sees herself in the mirror.

In other photography “news,” I won an ebay auction for a backdrop. πŸ™‚ The price I got it for is over $100 less than it normally sells for (and it’s brand new). I’m very excited to be getting it, though I am unsure if I’ll have room to set it up in my house. (Might just need to take it on location.) I still need to get a stand for it too. I’m hoping to take family pictures at our Cherished Children Attachment Parenting holiday party in a few weeks. We’ll see if all of that comes together.

There are other things going on in my world (relating to my family) that I’d like to write about, but am unsure if/when I will. It’s hard to write about certain things when your blog is public and easily accessible to the world – family and friends included. I will say that I got some upsetting and scary news this weekend about a family member. It is my sincere hope that this person does what he/she needs to do to take care of him/herself. He/she has many people who love him/her and who would like to see him/her get better. I know it might seem too late for change, but that’s not true. The only time it’s too late to change is when we’re dead.

That’s all for now. I’m off to bed. πŸ™‚

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Here’s wishing everyone a relaxing day surrounded by people you love. (And if you can have a big yummy meal on top of that, all the better!)

I’m off to start on our lil family feast while Jody and Ava watch a bit of the Thanksgiving parades on TV. πŸ™‚

Edited to add: Thought we weren’t going to have a turkey when I discovered the darn thing hadn’t thawed all the way! Sheesh! It had been thawing in the fridge since Monday and is only an 11 pounder. I ran some cold water in it for a while and it seems to have done the trick. So now it’s in the roaster for the next several hours. Hopefully it will come out ok. πŸ™‚ I’m sure I’ll post an update if there’s another crisis.

Can’t turn off my brain

In my migraine/ipuprofen-induced stupor last night, I had an interesting dream about some friends (former friends?) of mine. It seems I can’t turn off my brain even when I’m sleeping.

First, some history. There was a group of five of us (JK, TF, JL, JS and me) who were best friends in high school. We called ourselves the “Fab Five.” We stayed in touch throughout college, moves to various parts of the country, new jobs, weddings and births.

I started this blog in February 2005, and my friendship with a couple of them (JS and TF) deteriorated from that point. They took offense to things I wrote about, opinions that differed from theirs. I never received supportive comments from them (on ANYTHING I posted about), but I did begin to receive anonymous/using pseudonyms attacking, hurtful comments on certain posts which I easily tracked down to them. When questioned about it on my blog, JS outright lied and would not admit it was her (no doubt not wanting to draw attention to herself and her own blog). Both JS and TF later admitted to the posts (and apologized) in email responses to me. Both also stated (in so many words) that we had nothing in common anymore and we’d grown so far apart that they couldn’t see our friendships continuing. We haven’t spoken since the end of September.

I recently (two weeks ago) emailed the other friend JL but have not heard back from her. I’m not sure if she’s talking to me anymore or not.

The only one who still talks to me and hasn’t judged me despite my differing opinions is JK (who I’ve known since kindergarten). We remain in touch via email. πŸ™‚

Obviously this is something I still think about on a regular basis. It still bothers me that things escalated so far and ended so poorly. And it has me repeatedly asking myself “why? why? why?”

Anyway, on to the dream.

It started with friend JK (always the peacemaker/rational one of the group) trying to get me to agree to go to some event with the four of them. I told her I did not feel comfortable going to something with them when I knew they wouldn’t want me there. She assured me that they still care about me and would talk to me. I told her I knew that they still read my blog and perhaps they are interested in what’s going on in my life, but I didn’t feel good about hanging out with them after how things had ended between us. It just didn’t feel right to jump back in and pretend like everything was hunky-dory.

Then the dream transitioned to me being in class (chemistry or something), and friend JS was sitting in front me. She talked to me like nothing had ever happened between us. It was awkward and weird.

And that’s all I remember.

So, not really much of a dream after all, but I guess the point is that I still think about these women on a regular basis. I hate not having closure with people and, if our friendships are truly over and we aren’t going to speak anymore, then perhaps I need good closure. I’m not sure how I can get it though. It’s hard when I know these women still read my blog. I don’t understand why they would end it and say good-bye and yet still hang around to read about me when it seems that so many things I’ve written about in the past only upset them.

Oy. Brain hurting again. Must go.


Edited to add:
I debated about writing about this for a long time. And if I did write about it, I wasn’t sure how much detail I wanted to go into. However, now that I have gotten it down, I’m glad that I did. Maybe this is the closure I need to move on. Time will tell.

Preparing for Thanksgiving

Ava and I hit the grocery store today (along with tons of other folks) to do our Thanksgiving meal shopping. I figured a Monday afternoon wouldn’t be so crowded, but it seems I was wrong. The store was full of people for Miss Ava to converse with. I think she said “hi” to something like 27 people. πŸ˜‰ Most replied, though some did not. Some replied to the first few greetings, but not to the 10 more that followed. πŸ˜‰ What can I say – she’s a very friendly girl. (Where does she get *that* from??) :oP

Her latest saying is “oh no!” which Jody taught her on Saturday to go along with “uh oh” (an old stand-by, of course). She always says “Wow!” and has gotten pretty good about repeating a lot of things we say. (Note to self: watch your mouth.)

Back to Thanksgiving…
We are having a quiet Thanksgiving dinner at home this year – just the three of us – though from the amount of food I bought today, you’d think we were having a full house. I figured we can have turkey leftovers for a while.

I thought about having a vegetarian Thanksgiving (I’ve done it in years past) and getting a tofurky, but decided to go the traditional route. My past vegetarian Thanksgivings have always consisted solely of side dishes, so I’ve not yet had the pleasure of eating a tofurky. Anyone had any experience with one? How are they?

We have a lot to be thankful for this year. Our health leads the list, with happiness following closely behind. Other things I’m thankful for are a roof over my head, heat and electricity, food, clothes, family and friends. What would I do without family and good friends?

I’m kind of bummed that we won’t be having a big family get-together for the holidays this year, especially in light of some news we received regarding my father-in-law’s health (he was diagnosed with emphysema). Hopefully we will get to drive down to Oklahoma City to see my in-laws in February for Jody’s birthday.
As for my side of the family, my sister is flying in to see us in January (yay!) and then perhaps Ava and I (at the least) will travel to MI in the spring or summer to visit my folks if they don’t come out here.

That’s all for now. In case I don’t write again this week, I hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving (and safe travels for those who will be on the roads or in the air)! πŸ™‚

Our new house ;)

Glory be! I think I’ve solved our money problems!

We’re selling our house and buying this instead for only $23,400! What a bargain. πŸ˜‰

Who cares that Jody and I will have to crouch down all the time and that we’ll have to rent out some land in a friend’s backyard, we’ll be living in style and Ava should be more than comfortable. πŸ˜‰

Be sure to check out the detailed pictures from the link above and other luxury playhouses and then don’t forget to pick your jaw up off the floor!!

The Victorian Playhouse has a front porch, turret, cedar-shingled gable, scrollwork accents, octagonal window, shingled roof, and bay window with window boxes (shown here with a yellow exterior with white, soft blue and lavender trim). Designed and built by Alan Mowrer, this playhouse can be constructed with countless interior and exterior options. Whether itÒ€ℒs cable, running water, electricity, central air or a wireless communication system, Alan can accommodate your wishes. Other architectural styles are also available from fairy tale cottages to rustic cabins or even a miniature replica of your home. Comprehensive interior design services are also available through designer Michelle Pollak who helps clients with a variety of interior details such as window treatments, moldings, paint colors, furnishings, rugs and flooring including wood, marble or Mexican tile. Each playhouse is a custom piece; with Alan and Michelle the possibilities are endless. *Please note the price quoted is an estimate and is subject to change depending on your custom choices. Please speak to a design consultant for details.*

Thought you all could use a good laugh today. There’s nothing like a playhouse that costs as much as your car to make you think that some people just have too damn much money. :oP

Now if you’ll please excuse me, I need to go find my credit card. πŸ˜‰

Just ask Amy ;-)

In the past couple days I had two people ask me for my thoughts/advice about two parenting-related topics.

The first woman, a semi-regular commenter on this blog, emailed me to ask for advice regarding vaccinations for her 1-year-old son. She was feeling hesitant about taking him receiving so many shots at his 12 month check-up. I would never tell someone what they should or should not do. That’s not my style. I’m all about people doing their own research and making informed choices (regarding healthcare and other aspects of parenting), and I believe that those choices can differ from person to person. So I supplied her with some information, gave her some questions to ask her pediatrician regarding thimerosal use, and some things to think about as she makes these decisions.

The other woman, who I know from a message group, PM’d me to ask about starting solids while breastfeeding her 6-month-old daughter. It was funny to me to get questions about when are you supposed to feed them, how many times a day, etc., because that stage in Ava’s life seems like it was ages ago now and I really didn’t remember. I looked up some info for her on KellyMom and told her what I did remember. It’s amazing how it’s been less than a year since Ava was at that stage and I’ve nearly forgotten what it’s like!

Anyway, it made me feel good to have people come to me for my thoughts and information on those topics. It’s nice to be respected. πŸ™‚ I would never claim to have all the answers, but I can speak from my research and personal experience and let them come to their own conclusions. It’s nice to see other mamas who want to make informed choices.

And the other cool thing that happened recently was that I discovered another commenter on my blog who seems to share my passion for APing and her husband plays Dungeons & Dragons (as does mine), lives a town over from me! We seem to have quite a few things in common so I look forward to learning more about her and her family. Small world. πŸ™‚

Now that’s depressing

Even though my husband got paid today, our bank account doesn’t reflect that. There were seven bills out there in limbo counting on this money to come in.

It kills me. The day he gets paid, we are already broke again. This vicious cycle sucks!

We haven’t paid our car tag renewal yet (due in August) and have been driving around with an expired plate because we can’t afford it.

We don’t live a lavish lifestyle. We don’t live in a huge house. We only have one car. Jody takes the bus (free pass) to work more days than not. He also takes his lunch from home almost every day.

We don’t put purchases on credit cards anymore (except for my camera which has no interest for 18 months), but we still have some credit card debt we are trying to pay off. However, making the minimum monthly payments (which is all we can afford right now) is obviously not making a dent in it. We’re also still paying off medical bills from when Ava was hospitalized for croup nearly four months ago.

I never buy brand new clothes for Ava. Everything comes from garage sales or thrift/consignment stores. She’s desperately in need of a couple pairs of good warm pjs because she won’t keep blankets on her while she sleeps. And we never buy new clothes for ourselves.

I will admit that we go out to dinner once in a while. (I should clarify that these aren’t expensive meals – always under $20, generally more like $12 or $15.) I know we shouldn’t go at all because we certainly can’t afford it, but I feel like that’s something we have to do or I’ll go crazy.

I’m just feeling so frustrated and overwhelmed and had to let it out.

I’m not looking for handouts. I don’t want pity. I just want to be able to afford to live.

I welcome any tips or suggestions you all have. What has worked for you or people you know?

Thankfully I have some money coming in sometime this month from my CafePress store. Thank you to everyone who has purchased something from me. πŸ™‚ October was a great month for sales for me. I hoped that sales would continue to pick up as Christmas approaches (from people buying them as gifts), but it doesn’t seem to be happening that way.

And I’m trying to sell the things we have sitting around the house that we aren’t using. Still no takers on the crib though. Know anyone who wants one? πŸ˜‰

I’m also hoping that I can contribute to our income through photography. However, with winter approaching and not having any sort of studio in my house, I’m not sure how much “work” I’ll be able to do. Guess I didn’t pick the best time of year to get into this.

I’ll quit whining now. I just really needed to get this off my chest. Thanks for “listening.” I know we won’t be broke forever. This too shall pass. And I’m very thankful for the things we do have and all the things that money can’t buy like smiles, laughter and love. πŸ™‚

P.S. Maybe I should whine more often, I just had a sale on my CafePress store. πŸ˜‰

Walmart and what’s wrong with our thinking?

Disclaimer: The following entry is nothing short of a rant about Walmart and American values. If you are easily offended or prefer to live in a world where everything is happy and cheerful, please DON’T READ.

After stopping at a local Super Walmart this weekend so I could go to the bathroom (hey, when ya gotta go, ya gotta go), I started thinking in depth about my issues with this superpower and the people who shop there.

These days we are all about patriotism and pride in being Americans. The cars in the Walmart parking lot were littered with yellow and American flag ribbons. “Support our troops.” “God Bless America.” It seemed like an oxymoron to me! How American and patriotic is it to shop at a store that forces American-owned companies out of business in favor of sweatshop labor in China?

I understand that many people are looking for the best deal and the lowest prices. So many Americans are struggling to get by these days and I am one of them. But I believe that many of the people who shop at Walmart are the very people who will end up losing their jobs when their companies are forced to close their doors because they can’t compete with foreign labor.

It saddens me to think that we just don’t think about the future. What are the future ramifications of my getting super low prices in the NOW NOW NOW? What cost will this have to my city, my community, my family?

It took months, if not years, to get the city council where I live to approve the buliding of a Walmart Supercenter here. There were MANY who were against it, but eventually the proposal passed. One of the arguments is “just think of how many jobs it will create!” Yes, but at what cost? They don’t pay well enough for someone to support themself anyway, especially not with the cost of living in Boulder County. And how many small businesses in town will have to shut down as a result of it? πŸ™ What will these people do for employment then? Go work at Walmart?

I’m also concerned about all of the empty Walmarts that the Super Walmarts leave behind. I’ve seen it happen many times now. They close down one store to open a bigger, better store and leave a garish eyesore in the shopping center. currently has a parody movie on their site called “Big Box Mart.” It tells the story of a man who loves to shop at Big Box Mart because of their low prices. Eventually, however, the company he works for is forced to close down because they can’t compete with the prices Walmart can get from the sweatshop laborers in China, so he loses his job at the age of 53. He files for unemployment and eventually ends up working for Big Box Mart. He’s unable to afford to retire and will likely work there until he dies.

There’s also a documentary coming out this week called “Walmart – The high cost of low price.”

WAL-MART: THE HIGH COST OF LOW PRICE is a feature length documentary that uncovers a retail giant’s assault on families and American values.

The film dives into the deeply personal stories and everyday lives of families and communities struggling to fight a goliath. A working mother is forced to turn to public assistance to provide healthcare for her two small children. A Missouri family loses its business after Wal-Mart is given over $2 million to open its doors down the road. A mayor struggles to equip his first responders after Wal-Mart pulls out and relocates just outside the city limits. A community in California unites, takes on the giant, and wins!

There are thousands of free screenings being held nationwide.

If you’d like to get involved or spread the word about this movie, check out this link. There are many activism opportunities, from promoting the film by placing a button on your blog to signing a petition for Walmart workers’ rights to boycotting Walmart to hosting a free screening of the film. Every little bit helps.

I’ll end this by saying I’m not a huge fan of posting about such downer topics, but I do so every now and then when think the truth needs to be told. Thanks for reading.

Thoughts on photography and sharing a few pics

Last weekend and this week were a blur. I did two photoshoots – one maternity and one of my friend’s son who’s turning two next week – and I spent a lot of time proofing the pics (because I am not good enough to take them straight off of the camera without much work yet). I was glad to read a lot of “The Better Photo Guide To Digital Photography” this week. It helped me better understand and utilize the rule of thirds. I knew about it before, but reading a more in-depth explanation in that book helped me crop my friend’s son’s pictures a lot better. It ended up being more work for me to go back in and redo them, but it was worth it to have a better looking finished product.

I’m happy and relieved to say that both parties were very pleased with the proofs. It makes me feel good and that I’m on the right track.

Friends have been asking if they can put up a link to my work on their website or telling me I should put up fliers and start advertising, but I really don’t feel ready to take that step yet. I am enjoying what I’m doing, but I know that I still have a lot to learn. One of my big issues right now is getting my focus down. It’s hard enough with a stationary subject, let alone with a baby or child who’s always moving. πŸ˜‰ I also want to come up with a backdrop that I can use in my house since winter is approaching and outdoor photography options will become limited. Backdrops are quite pricey, so I’m looking for a less expensive alternative for now. I’ve heard of using fleece or a vellux blanket and I’m going to look into that. Then the question will be – how do I hang it in my livingroom without buying a backdrop stand? I know you have to spend money to make money, but I don’t want to keep buying things I think I need and going further into the hole.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve decided to stick with shooting with natural lighting for now too. I think my livingroom gets adequate natural light, though I’m a little worried about the skylights because I don’t want sun glaring down on people. Unfortunately for me, my house has to be one with the fewest number of windows ever. Eight windows in the whole house, plus two skylights. Crazy, no? Whenever we decide to move again, finding a house with great lighting will definitely be high on the priority list. πŸ˜‰

Then there are also the business, tax and legal aspects to all of this. I want to get my ducks in a row before I really start doing this even semi-seriously. So far it’s all been friends or family of friends. When I venture out into people I don’t know, however, I want to be fully prepared.

I took Ava to the park this afternoon to get out of the house and do some more practicing with my manual settings. I haven’t taken the pictures off the camera yet, but I’m feeling more confident with my ability to go all manual. It just takes practice, practice, practice. Anyway, we had a fun time. She played with pinecones and sticks, we saw geese, and we stopped by a tree and had a snack of grapes and crackers. It was a nice day. πŸ™‚

Here are a few pictures from my friend’s son’s photoshoot (taken at a local park):

Oooh, the presentation folders I ordered last week (for delivering prints to customers) just arrived via UPS. I’m so excited to see how they look! Feel like a kid on Christmas morning. πŸ˜‰ Gotta go.

Have a good weekend. πŸ™‚