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March, 2013:

Alien Blasters!

On our way to Carlsbad, we were passed on the Interstate by two Google Streeetview cars as we approached Santa Rosa, NM.

Dan convinced the kids they were Alien Blasters headed to Roswell :-)

Gotta love messin’ with the kids!

You’ve Got Mail!

Well – we got mail yesterday. A big stack of it, but not as big as I expected after a week – I know what we get every day and this wasn’t enough.

But what was in there?

The water bill.

That was DUE March 15th.

Let’s review.

I put the mail on hold STARTING March 22nd.

So no matter what, that bill was delivered LATE LATE LATE!

We always get those bills 2 weeks before they are due. I know. I pay them.

So even without a mail hold, this piece of mail came 3 weeks later than usual.

Ya – I’m happy!

Dear Postal Delivery Man

For the past 9+ years that I’ve lived at this address, the only postal delivery complaint I’ve had was that sometimes the mailman was a bit lazy and would leave packages at the top of the steps to our door rather than open the door to the clearly open welcome way and set it on the bench (right where the UPS, FedEx, and Milk men drop their deliveries). But that was something I could deal with.

A couple months ago, we received a letter in the mail stating something similar to the following:

“In an effort to improve service and reduce costs, we have redesignated some mail routes and hired new drivers. Please note that you may have a new mail delivery driver in the coming weeks. Please direct any questions or concerns to the USPS.”

Clearly, we got a new driver. In the past months you have managed to deliver other people’s mail to our house no less than 12 times – A DOZEN TIMES! And this isn’t a simple mix up of HouseNumber SomeStreet with HouseNumber MyStreet. Oh no! We’ve gotten mail for the same house number on 4 different streets, as well as 3 different house numbers on our street! There are about a dozen homes on our street. This shouldn’t be that difficult.

One time, I received mail at my house that was for a different address. You know what was written on the outside of that letter? Mail delivered to wrong address.”

Yup – you took a letter someone put in their outgoing mail that you had delivered incorrectly and delivered it incorrectly AGAIN! So I wrote on itMail delivered to wrong address – AGAIN.

I wonder if that person ever got that letter? Nevermind that it was tax season and it was an official letter.

I called Customer Service to file a complaint because this is getting ridiculous. I could handle it for awhile until you figured it out, but 10 weeks? Way too long. When I told the wonderful lady my address, she groaned – knowingly.

Then the day before we left on vacation, we had a giant package in our entry way (btw, thank you for opening the door and setting it inside out of the elements). Awesome! A priority mail package that was not intended for US! I bet both sender and recipient were happy when the birthday package they sent/received PRIORITY MAIL arrived late.

Final straw – I put a hold on our mail while we were gone. The hold expired on the 27th. I even got an awesome email from the USPS saying that my hold was expiring and that the mail carrier would deliver all of our held mail on the 27th. I saw you drive through the neighborhood on the 28th and even waved at you. You smiled and waved back. I know you were here.

Guess what – it’s the 29th and STILL NO MAIL!

I called Customer Service just minutes ago. Apparently I will receive a call within 1 business day to chat about my mail delivery issues and see where my week’s worth of mail is living right now. Is it at the post office? Is it on someone else’s doorstep? Is it in some storage unit ala Seinfeld?

The world may never know.

What I do know is that your job is to deliver mail and you’re failing – miserably. No wonder the USPS is bankrupt.

Maybe if we could hire someone capable of delivering mail we wouldn’t need to pay a bad delivery driver AND a customer service rep!

Note: The Customer Service representatives I’ve talked to have been awesome! Nothing but helpful and polite and seemingly as annoyed as I am with our postal delivery issues.

Adventures in Caving

The Boedies are BACK! We had a wonderful trip to Carlsbad, NM with the Boy Scout Troop for the spring break trip.

I was a little worried to tow the camper that far . . . it sure did bounce a lot last fall when we towed it to the mountains! I had some work done on it over the winter and had my fingers crossed. Good news is that it pulled like a charm! Couldn’t even tell it was back there – for the entire 9-hours one way drive :-)

3 families brought campers like ours, and the rest of the people tented like actual scouts. We had a great spot for the entire group and enjoyed morning breakfasts together before packing grab-n-go lunches for our caving!

The caving was awesome! Our first tour was a 5-hour trip from start to finish – we had to hike a pretty steep 1/2 mile trail to get to the cave, where we donned our helmets, headlamps, and gloves for 2 1/2 hours in the cave. It was awesome! No crawling on hands and knees, but we got sufficiently dirty and had to use ropes to climb a couple spots in the cave. Stalagmites, stalagtites, columns, crystal, bat guano, cave paintings, fluorescent rocks, black out . . . we all really enjoyed the tour.

Our second tour was a shorter tour, but totally by lantern, just like in the olden days – very fun! We each got to carry a lantern lit by candle back into the cave. The cave wasn’t as pretty as the other one as far as formations go, but it was still very neat! There were steep drop offs, cave pools, bat mummies – did I mention this cave is home to a colony of bats? Ya – they weren’t there when we were there since they’d migrated for winter – but ICK! After the lantern tour, we were free to tour the Big Room, which is this massive show cave. Nice path to walk on with lighted areas. It’s amazing how giant this thing really is – I can’t imagine what the people who discovered this cave were thinking when it just kept going and going!

After each tour, the group enjoyed our lunches together before heading out on hikes (Guadalupe National Park), taking short road trips for photo opportunities (Texas was only 10 miles away!), or heading back to the campground to hang out and relax (the RV Park had an arcade).

We had a free day to do whatever we wanted – we went to Roswell with a couple other families on our day. You can’t be that close and not go see the Aliens, right??? It was pretty neat in there. Aliens or no Aliens? You’ll have to check it out and decide for yourself :-) After a yummy Mexican buffet lunch, we headed back to the campground.

The boys worked out a routine of their own from the very first day. Each afternoon when we returned from out tours, they would go play on the tire swings and in the arcade for awhile. Then they’d come back back and help get dinner ready and clean up (LOVE seeing boys do dishes!). Finally, they’d head to the indoor pool (RV Park – yes there was an indoor pool) and play and scream and yell and get rid of every ounce of energy they had left before heading back to camp to snuggle in for the night.

Speaking of night – BRRRRRRR!!! 28 degrees at night is a bit chilly! One afternoon and evening the wind was TERRIBLE – constant 20-25 mph, but then gusts up to 30-35 mph. We only had one tent blow down and need to be re-tethered, and that happened before anyone went to bed. Daytime temps in the mid-50s. The kicker? The day before we got there it was 78 high and 52 low. The 5 days after we left? 80 highs and 55 lows.

Go figure!

All said, we had a great time. It was really nice getting to know some of the other families outside of troop meetings – we’re looking forward to the next scout family camp!

***No pictures to post yet because I spent the night we got back sick and had to try to work a little yesterday before giving in to naps!

Boys Vs Girls

Dude’s baseball team ended up accidentally crashing the practice of a 12U Girls fastpitch softball team Sunday – mixup by the scheduler. The softball coach was great and gave us 1/3 of the space to practice in. So there were anywhere from 20-25 11 and 12 year old boys and girls in a large gym for 2 hours today.

I had flashbacks of a middle school dance!

The part that made me giggle?

The boys. Our boys are good ball players and they’re having a blast together while they’re working hard. The music is on during practice and they’re dancing and groovin’ when it’s not “their turn” – they’re just having fun.

The girls . . . nothing. Not a smile, not a giggle, not a stolen glance at the boys (I CANNOT say the same for the boys – thank goodness there are 3 mesh batting cages coralling them!). The girls were all business.

I hope our boys play well when it’s game time. I can’t imagine they won’t. And I hope when it’s not game time they continue to laugh and giggle and goof off and have a blast. That’s what it’s all about, right?

To the girls and their coaches, I will say this.

Lighten up! Put things into perspective! It’s a game. It’s supposed to be fun. It’s no fun to win if you’re not having fun doing it!

I know first hand. Outside of school fastpitch season in the spring, I played on a travelling fastpitch team for 4 years during the summer. We had a team of 13 girls from 3 different local schools – 3 schools that competed against each other during school volleyball, basketball, and softball seasons! We played a lot of softball together. We spent a lot of hours together. We practiced 3 times a week together. We played hard together. We won a lot of games and a lot of tournaments together. Heck, half of us even WORKED together when we weren’t playing!

“Would you like fries with that?”

But ya know what I remember most? We had tons of fun together! We laughed, we giggled, we talked about boys, we sang . . . and we played hard – all at the same time.

One practice time I will always remember . . . we used to practice on a field that backed up to the local public swimming pool. We’d be playing softball and sweating our butts off in the MN summer heat and humidity while listening to the kids splashing around in the pool. The bonus is that we at least got to listen to the music coming from the pool loud speakers. We were working on situations. I remember Swanny (my pitcher) standing on the mound getting ready to pitch. Then suddenly she breaks into a dance and starts singing “Like a mashed potato! You can do the twist!” Of course we all dropped our gloves and had to join in.

Then we all had to run laps 😉 Coach was Swanny’s dad . . . while he pretended  not to be amused, we all saw him smile when it happened, and he had to work very hard not to laugh while he was trying to whip us into game shape and make us run.

The best part about the laps . . . running along the fence in centerfield and having the kids splash us with the awesomely cooling pool water! We may or may not have run a little slower out there.

How do you have 13 girls on a softball team spending hours and hours and weekend after weekend together from age 14-18 without a single argument, cat fight, or girly drama incident?

You let them have fun. Period.

If they have fun playing, they will like playing.

If they like playing, they will want to play more.

If they want to play more, they will want to get better.

If they want to get better, they will win.

If you win, you get awesome opportunities like this one:

That’s us – front row, 2nd from the left

All while enjoying the game and each other. Those girls hopefully  have a lot of years to play together. I hope they get as much out of the experience as I did.

But right now, I’m glad that Dude, his teammates, and his coach seem to have everything in perspective.

Play ball!