Saturday, March 29, 2014

Positive Experiences

I just realized that my past two posts were about difficult purchases.  But, I think that in itself is worth writing about.

I'm reading a book this week that has been reminding of something--it is that that we can hold onto things, whether out of a desire for control, out of impatience, out of pride, or out of insecurity.  There are many other reasons as well, but these are a few of them.  Holding on to these things is not God's desire for us.  (Normally, I am very quick to reference specific books, but in this case, I have been a bit disconcerted by it and am not sure I'm going to recommend it.)

If we love the Lord and believe Jesus died on the cross for our sins, then our hearts have been changed.  And if our hearts have changed then we are necessarily not the same people that we were ten years ago.  Because the Lord is continually working to change us.  He uses other people as iron sharpens iron to bring our weaknesses before us, to help us trust Him, and that we might humble ourselves and seek Him.

My children saw first hand my reaction to the ordering of our Dell computer.  I was upset.  I was upset on the phone.  I was upset about spending so much time waiting on the phone to talk to someone before I even got to talk to them.  My children gave me space and tried not to interrupt me while I was dealing with the mess.  Toward the end, my husband told me that he thought it was time to let it go.  I was mad, but I was upset with Dell.  I didn't insult any of the people I spoke with.  I only pursued a resolution to the matter as long as I had his support.    Sometimes we have to have others help us know how long to fight and when to let go or at least that is the case for me.  My husband said it was time.  So, I let it go.

This week I got several more disconcerting emails from Dell.  I picked up the phone and called.  I was supposed to get a $50 refund--which never came.  I patiently explained my situation to three different people and was transferred three times until I was ultimately put on hold for a half hour and I hung up.  When I hung up, I wasn't mad.  I was letting go.  It was time to be done.  

Did it really matter?  Was it worth my time to sit on the phone?  Was I ever really going to talk to someone who could resolve the problem?  I concluded that I wouldn't.  But, most importantly, had God provided for the computer?


It wasn't exactly what I would have chosen, but it is what the Lord has given us--and blessed us with.  It will serve its purpose well.  I trust and pray that the Lord will help me learn what He wants me to from all of this and that He will use this incident in my life.

When I read God's Word, I am encouraged that He isn't going to leave me alone just the way I am.  He is going to work in my life to increase my patience, humility, and perseverance.  

The phone calls and emails are done.  My gmail is going to mark them as spam.  And now I need to let it go and trust it to God.  He provided.  

Windows and Roofs

When we decided earlier this month to stay in our home and not move, we also decided to go ahead and fix a few big things on our house.  Some home projects are inexpensive like electrical outlets and caulking, but others, well, they can be overwhelming!

We've tackled so many projects on our home, but we knew replacing the original windows that were left would be quite an undertaking.  We started by getting a quote from Home Depot's Home Repair arm.  We agreed to the quoted price.  We wanted it to be simple and straight forward, so we had chosen to simply take an easy route and call Home Depot.  A few days later, we had to sign an addendum.  Then, after a week or so, two fellows came out to measure the windows.  We expected to hear back from Home Depot in a week or two with a time for installation.  That phone call never came and four weeks later, I called to find out what the status of our order was.  It turned out that there was an issue and another addendum was needed.  No windows had been ordered and no one had followed up with us.  Hmmm.  This idea of going with Home Depot wasn't turning out to be so easy.  We cancelled the contract and chose instead to break up the window job and just take care of the windows in the den.  I'm glad we did.  I'm so glad we didn't do all of the windows at once, because the den windows turned out badly and at least it gave us the opportunity to choose better windows for our bedrooms and bathrooms.  

All of the windows in our house have to be made custom, because they aren't standard sizes.  We used a handyman recommended to us and he went through a company in Pennsylvania, Viwinco, for the den windows.  But, these windows make me sad.  Over the winter, they let so much moisture in and cold air in that there was ice on the inside.  Ice?  You might think that these were cheap windows.  They weren't.  A fellow from the company did come out and look at the windows.  He came out the following week and added thicker weatherstripping on the windows.  It helped, but didn't entirely fix the problem.  When I investigated what their warranty includes just now, it asserts that moisture on the inside of windows is the fault of the home owner (aka too much humidity in the house) and not the windows.  But, I don't believe this is entirely true.  I've been told by several people that condensation results on the inside of windows from improperly sealed windows.   

So, this month when we decided to take on the bedroom and bathroom windows, we went with Thompson Creek Windows.  They are more expensive, but the warranty is better--and the windows are better.  This morning my husband said to me--"did you realize our bedroom was 4 degrees warmer than it was the day before we got the windows installed?"  (The den didn't feel warmer after the new windows were installed.)  I hadn't realized, but we hadn't raised our thermostat.  We'd just replaced the windows.  I am thankful for my kids to now have windows that will open and that I didn't have to do any work when the project was done. The caulking around the windows was done beautifully and the guys worked hard to do an excellent job putting the windows in.  I don't have to do any extra work.  If you have to order custom windows, Thompson Creek is definitely worth considering.  

When we were getting a quote for windows last year, we also got a quote for our roof from Home Depot.  It almost gave us a heart attack.  We had no idea how we were going to tackle the cost they estimated.  So, we put it on the back burner and took care of other projects in the mean time.  Two weeks ago, we requested a roofing quote from the contractor that put a roof on our previous home.  We were hoping for the best.  And we were thankful for the quote when we received it.  The quote turned out to be half the Home Depot quote.  An extra warranty was offered with the roof and they were better shingles than the Home Depot quote was for.  

This experience has quite surprised me.  Standard financial advice when it comes to home projects has always been get at least two quotes.  I see the wisdom in that advice.  But, sometimes the cheapest price isn't always wisest.  Asking around and finding companies who clean up their messes and stand behind their work has helped us in the past.  And getting several quotes can take a lot of time.  I think choosing home remodeling projects is complicated and it's never as straight forward as it might seem.  The unexpected is always lurking in the background waiting to pop its head up.  

We are thankful for our roof and new windows.  But, more than that, I'm thankful that the Lord provided for us.  Even though the windows in my den aren't great, I'm still thankful that I can open them and let fresh air in.  The old windows didn't open at all and trapped mold between the panes.  I am thankful that the windows keep most of the cold out and that my children can now sleep in warmer bedrooms...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stay Away From DELL...

Over the past two weeks, I've been navigating a computer purchase I tried to make online.  My husband and I thought it would be easier to purchase a DELL computer directly from instead of heading off to Best Buy or Staples.

We were totally wrong.

This is what we learned: 

#1  Don't ever order through Dell's website.

#2  I would never purchase a Dell computer again.  Unless the warranty is dealt through someone other than Dell (ie. Costco or Best Buy).

So, here's what happened.  I tried to order a computer.  I was given an estimated arrival date a week and a half later.  A few days later, I got an email asking me to make a phone call and for additional information.  It didn't make sense to me and I'm very cautious about information gathering emails.  Why would Dell need any more information?  I didn't know.  So, I went to the Dell website and called customer service.

And I sat on hold.

When I finally talked to someone, they told me I needed to call another number to confirm information.

I called.

And sat on hold.

The lady asked for information and I asked, "Why?"

I got an email the next day saying the computer shipped.


Yesterday, I called again (after sitting on hold) because I received another email asking for information.


I checked the tracking and it was slated to be delivered... today.  I called yesterday (and sat on hold multiple times) and asked the Dell customer service if the computer was going to be delivered and what the issue was.  They said it was conflicting information.  Really?  I knew what I'd put in because it was on the receipt.  Somewhere in their system things had gotten messed up.  I was told the computer was coming back to them and would not be delivered.  I requested a refund and a cancelling of the sale.  I thought it was done.  My husband went out and bought another computer last night.  We both thought it was all done.


The computer arrived today.  So, we're stuck.  I requested a return, but at this point I'm afraid to send it back.  I don't know that they will return our money to us.  So, I think we're stuck with this computer.  

More and more my husband are coming to believe that it's wiser to make purchases in person in a store than online.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Detangling Hair

My oldest daughter has very thick hair that does not tangle much.  My middle daughter on the other hand, has very fine, thin hair that tangles into horrible mats if we don't stay on top of it.  Her scalp is also very, very sensitive.   So, I was very curious to try this detangling brush from Second Glance Beauty: 

Simply Beautiful Tangle Teaser Brush

This brush, like many other things, works well when you figure out how best to use it.  The bristles do not have little balls on the end to soften the brush from scraping a child's scalp when pressed.  So, what my daughter found that worked best for her was to 1) wet the brush.  2) hang her hair down to the side and then brush the tangled area of her hair.  This kept the brush from scraping her scalp and let it do its job better.  She does like using the brush when she finds a tangle and it's easy for her 8 year old hand to hold.  I like being able to just use water and not have to purchase extra detangling spray to use with the brush.  

Would I recommend this brush?  Yes, I think it's worth a try.  But, it may or may not work for you.  If a child normally gets mats and tangles on the top of his/her head, I don't think this would be the right brush for the job.  If, on the other hand, a child (or adult) can hang their hair off to the side for brushing, this brush can do its job well.  It is very easy to use with thick hair because it doesn't scrape the scalp as much (though my older daughter also hangs her hair to the side when using the brush).  Just be careful with sensitive scalps and use water with the brush!

Please note that I received a complimentary brush from the company for review.