Passport Fiasco

The Older Daughter has been invited by her grandma to take a 15-day European cruise this summer. (I am very jealous, but that’s another story.) Her passport expired a few weeks back, so we needed to get it renewed. We went to the State Department’s website to find the requirements. It said that we needed to bring her old passport or her birth certificate, and that we could pay by cash or check. Knowing how the government operates, I asked The Wife to call the local office to make sure the details from the website were correct. She did and they confirmed everything. Great, right? Not so much.
 
When they got to the office, they were told that she needed her old passport and her birth certificate. Well that sucks. My worst fears were realized in that no matter how hard you try to make dealings with the government easier, they always go awry. Anyway, they headed back  home to pick up the birth certificate. They made it back to the office, got all the paperwork filled out and processed. Then it was time to pay. The Wife forked over the $100 fee in cash. That’s when they told her that they don’t accept cash. You’re kidding me right? This after they said that was an acceptable form of payment on their website and The Wife double-checked over the phone? Not to mention that every Federal Reserve Note says “THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE”.
 
I just wanted to rant about this to you and I hate to turn this political, but think about this for a moment. Think about this experience at the passport office; think about what a nightmare the DMV is; think about the IRS. You may have had other experiences interacting with the government. It’s nearly always a nightmare. The crush of massive bureaucracy and rampant incompetency is staggering.
 
How can anyone out there really think that the federal government can do a better job with health care? Universal health care would be an unmitigated disaster. Think of your DMV experience…that’s what going to the doctor or hospital will be like. We’ve got to stand against this.

Teen Translator

Finally, news I can use. Last Sunday’s ZITS comic has a fantastic invention for parents of teens: The Teen Translator. Enjoy…

zits

Tired

Okay, I’m forcing you to join me in my boredom at the tire shop. Hey, get back here. I need some company.

Yesterday, we woke up to some snow on the ground. The Older Daughter is now driving to school every day. Being an adult with lots of life experience, I advised her to keep her speed down and not follow too close. Then I headed out to work.

It really wasn’t that slick…until…the final road leading to my workplace. Me…the responsible adult…with all my life experience…found myself going a little faster than I should have and following a little too close. I discovered this fact when the truck in front of me came to a sudden, dead stop. I hit the brakes, but just slid. All I had time to do was swerve to avoid rear-ending the truck. I jumped the curb and then ran over some concrete scraps. There was a nasty scraping noise underneath the car. Not missing a beat, I regained control and got right back on the road. There didn’t seem by be anything wrong with the car.

Backtrack with me to a few months ago. Same tire shop said that I needed new tires, but that they could go a little longer. Looking at the bank account and the economy, I decided to wait. I was hoping I could milk them until next fall to save a few bucks. This is the responsible, smart adult thinking again. I had noticed some loss of traction…particularly with water, dirt, or gravel on the road. After yesterday, it would appear that this same loss of traction also applies to ice and snow. Go figure.

toyo

Since I drive about 30,000 miles per year, I decided to go with tire that has the longest tread life, longest warranty, and, therefore, the highest price. They are the Toyo Eclipse. It’s going to be a little under $600 out the door for the 4 tires. The warranty is for 70,000 miles. Sheesh, they’re only going to last a little over 2 years. Oh well, better $600 every couple years than $400 every year I guess.

While I’m here, they’re going to hoist the car up high enough to see if there is any damage under the car. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. However, given my luck, you’ll see another post soon about the damage.

Thanks for hanging out with me at the tire shop and listening to my sad, boring tale. You may go now if you would like. I might just take a nap while I wait.

The Next Big Step

15 and a half years ago, she had absolutely no freedom. She was completely confined to the womb–barely able to move at all. Birth was a huge step forward as she was able to flail her arms and legs about as she wished. After this, there was a steady stream of increased independence during the first year or so:

  • She started turning over on her own
  • She began crawling
  • She took those first steps
  • She learned how to run

The rate of new freedoms slowed down significantly after this and became more subtle: She was able to spend the night at a friend’s house for the first time, she learned how to ride a bike, she learned how to make a simple meal for herself, etc. All small, but important, steps to growing up.

However, one of the biggest rites of passage and strides forward in freedom and independence took place today. Yes, the Older Daughter is now Idaho’s newest licensed driver. I have feelings ranging from happiness to sadness to worry to excitement. In the end, I realize that I have to let this happen even if it means my little girl just keeps growing up. It’s my job to provide her with the knowledge and tools to have the best chance at success (and safety). Beyond that, it’s in God’s hands.

I’m so proud of her.

Reasons I’m Smiling Today

You know, there are lots of things going on in the world, the country, and even personally that I could fret about. However, I’m finding lots of things to smile about. I’d rather focus on those. Here they are, in no particular order.

  • It’s Friday! That’s always a good reason to be happy.
  • The Broncos are ranked #9 nationally and poised to be invited to a BCS bowl game. Tomorrow, they will kick some Vandal butt.
  • We are entering my favorite time of the year with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up. It’s always an opportunity to spend cherished time with family and friends, and enjoy good food and good times. More importantly, it’s a time to renew and reflect on the things that are truly important.
  • In just 3 short days, the Older Daughter will be getting her driver’s license. While this generates lots of mixed feelings with me, I’m very proud and excited for her.
  • I have a job that I love. Just 5 short months ago I was facing a layoff in a really tough job market. I was fortunate enough to find a new job and have no time out of work. The fact that I absolutely love the job is a big plus also.
  • I have the best family and friends in the world. They are more loving and supportive of me than I feel that I deserve at times.
  • Blogging rules! DITH is nearing its one year anniversary (just a few short shopping weeks left folks). I am having a great time and have made some great new friends along the way.
  • Did I mention it’s Friday? Have a good weekend!

Hey, She’s Still Paying Attention

I really thought that as of 2 or 3 years ago, the Older Daughter no longer cared about my opinion nor was at all influenced by me. It really seemed that she was in her own teen world and had it all figured out–at least in her opinion. Well, I found out this week that I actually do still have some influence.

Her high school held a mock election on Tuesday. I asked her who she voted for and she told me. When I asked how she came to the decision, she said that she really didn’t know who to vote for. But she knew who I was voting for, so that’s who she chose. Now of course that’s not the right way to pick a president, but it made me smile that she thought enough of my judgement to make the same choice.

Then last night we were at Wal-Mart picking up a few things. Homemade dinner was not in the cards, so we we picked up some stuff at the deli. The Older Daughter and I both chose the turkey sandwich and threw them in the basket. Then I noticed her checking the shelf again. Pretty soon, she grabbed this huge turkey sandwich and put the smaller ones back. It seems that she noticed that the huge sandwich was roughly equivalent to 3 of the smaller sandwiches but was cheaper than the 2 we were going to buy. When I complimented her for noticing, she said “I learned it from you.” More smiling on my part.

Just when you think you have lost them, they go and show you they are still watching and learning from you after all.

Halloween Night Wrap-Up

It seemed that the night had such promise. After all, it was Halloween on a Friday night. No need to watch the clock and worry about getting to bed at a certain time. Just party and watch scary movies as late as we want, right? Not so much. In the end, it was a pretty big letdown on all fronts…

Of course, the Older Daughter is too old for trick-or-treating. Instead, she spent the evening/night at a friends house. No surprise there.

The Younger Daughter also went to a friend’s house and her mom took them trick-or-treating.

Now that we live out in the country, we don’t get any trick-or-treater visiting the house.

Our best friends have traditionally joined us for an all night scary movie marathon when Halloween is on a weekend. However, they were unable to join us this year.

The Wife and I stayed home and watched some horror movies. Unfortunately, we chose movies that we had already seen multiple times, so we found ourselves actually laughing at the movies rather than being scared.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a nice quiet evening together. However, this was the first time since we became parents that we didn’t take kids out trick-or-treating. It think we were both mourning the passage of yet another parenthood ritual as we watch our girls grown up much faster than we would like. Sure, the Younger Daughter still has probably 1-2 years left, so we’ll probably be able to enjoy it at least one more outing. However, the writing is clearly on the wall.