C-ya C-Max

It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 months since we said see ya to our Ford C-Max Energi, and hello to our Toyota Prius. The more we drove the Ford, the less we liked it. We bought it brand new at the end of 2013, and had problems almost from the start. It broke down an average of once ever 1500 miles or so. It was in the shop several times for recalls on top of that. Everything from the brakes, to the heater, to the transmission have been repaired. Thankfully, we bought the best warranty we could get.

The Ford was poorly designed and cheaply put together. Soon after we bought it, the window washer fluid kept running empty. I asked the dealer to take a look at it. They told me it was my fault because a rock had broke it. How a rock can get up there to do that kind of damage I don’t know. The next clerk I told tried to say it broke because it had the wrong kind of fluid in it so it cracked during the cold winter. That sounded just as preposterous. Thankfully, a tech heard me, and he checked it for free. It turned out the hose connecting the bottle to the pump wasn’t properly connected. He connected it, and it worked fine after that. No rock, no crack.

One problem that never was properly repaired with the C-Max was the rear passenger door panel broke. We took it in at least 3 times for the same problem. It kept breaking. When that happens, the door can not be opened, because the panel slides down and jams in the door frame. We told the dealer this was a safety concern, but they didn’t seem to care.

In March, we were getting very near to the warranty expiring. We started discussing our options, and looking into possibly replacing it with something more reliable. Then one day, the check engine light came on and it started running very rough.  Plus, the door had broke yet again. I brought it to the dealership. They had it for 3 weeks. I called to ask how it was doing, and was told it was okay to pick up. I didn’t have time until the next afternoon. When I called to make sure it was ready, they told me they had found still more problems with it! Ugh. Time to put a lot more effort into finding something more reliable.

We looked at a few different used cars online, and decided we wanted a Prius V (the station wagon version of Prius). We were even willing to fly to another state to get one if we found one we really liked. About that time, one came available about 350 miles away. We decided to drive down to check it out. We cleaned out the C-Max, not knowing if we would trade it in or pass on this Prius.

We got to the dealer, and asked about 3 different cars, including the Prius. While we thought we most likely wanted the Prius, we were willing to be open to other options. That wasn’t meant to be, because both the other cars were suddenly unavailable when our salesman went to get the keys. The only car of the three they had available that we were interested in was the Prius. We went out to look at it. It wasn’t what was mentioned in the online description. There are a few different option packages for Prius V. This was advertised as being the best. Instead, it was the second basic version. We said we’d be back the next day because we wanted to talk it over.

In the morning, we talked to the sales clerk again. The other 2 cars are still unavailable. We discussed the difference in model with the dealership. They weren’t very impressed. We went for a test drive. My husband had already driven one before, so I drove it. I liked it. It has good visibility for me and few blinds spots. Being short, I’m often bothered by blind spots others aren’t. Anyway, we went back to the dealership and filled out paperwork. The clerk excused himself, saying he’d be back in a few minutes with a quote. 45 minutes later, he’s still gone! It turns out he had gone for a test drive with another customer, and asked a different sales clerk to tell us, who never did. He finally gets back. We agree on a price. Then, it’s off to finance. My husband is still not totally convinced we can afford it, since it’s somewhat overpriced. They haggle some on the price and terms. Finally, the finance clerk asks what it will take to get us to buy the car. My husband names what I feel was too low of a monthly payment. I want the car winterized, too. A few minutes later, the clerk comes back: YES! Even he was surprised a bank was willing to go for it. I guess we were meant to buy this car. 7 hours after we arrived at the dealer that morning, we drove away in our new car.

Today is the 2 month anniversary of owning the Prius. We still love it. It’s a larger car, but handles so much better than the smaller C-Max. It has a lot more cargo space. The C-Max had batteries in the area where the trunk is normally. It’s almost like they were an afterthought when designing it. We can fit our lawn mower in the trunk of the Prius if we fold down the handle! The skis easily fit along with both kids. No more squishing everyone in for ski practice.

The Prius has a spare tire. That’s another thing that really bothered me about the C-Max. It had no spare tire. There was no place for it. If you get a flat, you have to get towed. That happened twice. Luckily, towing was included with the warranty. However, they only tow up to 100 miles from the closest dealership, so we never went on any road trips with the car. We were too afraid of getting a flat in the middle of nowhere. With the Prius, we’ve already gone on a camping trip to Canada. That was great! Plenty of room, and no worries about spare tires or breaking down. This Prius V is the perfect car for us.

Besh Cup 5&6

My son entered the last 2 races in the statewide series of cross country ski races. They were held last weekend here in Fairbanks. He’s not done any of these before, and has been skiing against younger kids all season. However, you must race in your division for Besh Cup races, so he was racing other 14&15 year old boys that are the best in the state. The outcome of this weekend’s races determined Team Alaska for US Junior National races next month. Alaska is the only state to have their own team at Nationals. All other states are grouped into regional teams. So, needless to say, the competition was tough.  Anyway, Saturday was a 5k skate race. Sunday was a 3k classic. The skate course was tough. Read this quote from FastSkier.com to understand why:

“The trails at Birch Hill are built on the side of, well, a hill (also, there are birch trees). The courses used for this weekend’s races were marked by an impressive Height Difference (the elevation change between the lowest and highest points on the course) of 89 meters within a 5-kilometer course. The World Cup skiathlon race that was contested in South Korea the same weekend, on the trails that will be used for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, featured height differences of only 58 and 41 meters on the two skiathlon courses.

In fact, a height difference of 89 meters is a greater elevation spread than was present on most of the traditional World Cup courses this season, including in Davos (84m), Lillehammer (74m), Falun (69m), and Ulricehamn (57m).”

http://fasterskier.com/fsarticle/besh-cup-series-wraps-fairbanks-team-alaska-named/

So considering this was his first race at this level of competition and the difficulty of the course, I’m happy he even finished. He came in last (but not by much). He was mostly doing it for the experience, so I didn’t pay the extra to have him ranked. Plus, they were the last 2 races of the season. Still, that makes him unofficially 40th in the state.

His first high school race

Today was the final cross country ski race of the season in the Town Race series. This year my son has been racing with the 7-8 grade boys as a junior varsity entry. However, this race he did well enough last year that they had him stay with the other high school boys in the B bracket. There were 4 ‘A’ bracket and 3 ‘B’ bracket preliminary boys races, then an equal number of finals for each bracket, so everyone raced twice. It was a ski cross event, meaning there were jumps, slalom gates, and lots of tight turns over a 1km course going up and downhill.

My son came in 4th in his preliminary race, which put him in the second final (B Final). He did well in that, finishing somewhere in the middle. The official results haven’t been posted yet. I’ll update when they are. He’s pretty happy with his results, although he realizes there were some things he could have done better in the final. He got caught up in a pack behind someone who fell. He didn’t fall this time and didn’t seem as tired as when he finished last year. That’s improvement.

Not sure what team he will qualify for next year. He is considering one of the local high schools as well as the private team. Many of the top skiers do that. It means about 3 hours of skiing most days, but they are good, often qualifying for national or international races. We already talked to the local high school’s coach. He agreed to allow my son to join as a homeschool student.

An amusing thing happened to me while we were there. For the last few years I’ve been unofficially helping at this race herding kids, etc. while on skis. This year I wasn’t, and several coaches, kids, and others involved in the race kept asking me why I was not skiing.

 

UPDATE:

The results have been published. He was 3/5 in the preliminary and 5/6 in the final.

 

Sneaking math

All of my daughter’s school books have arrived. Not all my son’s have arrived, but his math and carpentry have. The high school items from Sonlight haven’t come in yet. (They were very slow arriving last time we ordered from them too. So keep in mind if you plan on using anything from Sonlight to order early as possible.) We still plan to start school on Monday, August 1 and will just catch up on the late subjects as they arrive.

However, the kids’ have both been literally begging to start their math. This is surprising considering how much my son struggled last year and my daughter usually does not like to do it. Night before last I saw my son’s bedroom light still on late so I went to see what he was up to. I was expecting him to be reading or perhaps drawing. Nope! He was doing the second lesson of his geometry at nearly 11pm LOL

When I told him to quit and get to bed, he begged to finish. He says he likes the Saxon math better than the other programs we have used. Hopefully that means less trouble this year with math. However, I knew he needed sleep more than geometry so I praised his enthusiasm for what he had done but told him to finish it at a more appropriate time.

 

 

Never stop learning

Starting mid-November, I have been cross country skiing a lot. It’s a great way to get exercise with my kids. Usually I ski for 1-1.5 hours.

I took a chance and signed up to be a coach’s assistant for youth cross country ski lessons. Lessons meet for an hour 2x/week. I say chance because I’m not the best skier to begin with. (Some of my students are actually better than me.) However, I’ve been practicing a lot and the coaches doesn’t seem to mind me learning along with the kids. I just go to whichever class asks for extra help each day.

Some evenings I have been with the beginners. Most evenings have been with the advanced beginners and once with the intermediate group. I’m not ready to ski with my son’s advanced group yet and did let the coach know that the first night. Mainly I keep the kids from going the wrong way and round up any stragglers. Right now I only have classic style cross country skis. I’m planning to get skate style soon. That will help me be able to participate with groups when they do skate drills and practice. However, then I will really be learning along with the kids since I have never skate skied before.

An old fashioned weekend

This July we were supposed to sail from Kodiak to Seward. However due to engine problems, my husband decided that the kids and I should take the ferry across instead while he sailed the boat alone to Seward. That was ok since we got to stay with our friends while waiting for him. They have a large family including 2 children about the same age as mine.

It turned out to be a good week to visit. We had a lot of fun. The kids played and we chatted.We took a drive up to the mountains and went hiking.

At one point, she laid out some cloth to make a shirt for her youngest son. My son happened to come upstairs then. She asked him if he could guess what we were doing. He quickly and enthusiastically replied (somewhat to my embarrassment) “Oh! You’re making me a shirt, and it’s even my favorite color.” This despite the fact the pattern hadn’t been laid out yet and I’ve never made him a shirt. It was just in a big pile. He got his drink and returned back downstairs.

So my generous friend decided there was enough fabric to make both boys a shirt. We just needed to use the next size larger on the pattern for my son. Since I’ve never made a shirt before, she taught me. It turned out good and fit him well.

Friday evening they were having their church social at the local ball fields. The youth were going to play softball. These are conservative Mennonites. The men and boys were in jeans and button front shirts. The ladies and girls were wearing long dresses. It was almost surreal like a scene out of Little House on the Prairie. However, it was a lot of fun. My son played softball for the first time and I played 2 games of kickball with my daughter and the younger kids.

Sunday morning was church. However, this was a very special Sunday. A bus load of Amish were visiting. That’s right, Amish. Saturday was spent cooking and setting up to get ready. They were expecting more visitors than the normal number of people who attend services.

All was ready when the tour bus pulled in. Guests were seated in the normal pews while regular church members and I sat in folding chairs at the back rented for the occasion. Youth from church and guests were seated on folding chairs up front behind the podium. It was crowded but we all fit.

While the Amish were expected, another group of about a dozen adults also showed up. The women wore headcoverings but not dressed conservatively like everyone else. They left during the Bible study before the sermon. No one I spoke to knew who they were or why they came or left.

After services, there was a pot luck of creamed ham, salads, scalloped potatoes, rolls, chips, and desserts. The Amish said they were glad for the home cooked meal after eating out so much recently on their trip. The kids played on the playground and large church yard while the adults sat and talked. Finally the Amish loaded back into their bus and left. It was among the most interesting church services I’ve ever attended.

Overall, it was a good, old fashioned weekend.

Curriculum fair purchases

Just when I think I have it all planned out, the curriculum fair comes along with interesting things to tempt me (and the kids). I spent over $300 on items at our local curriculum fair. It’s not a bad thing since I had no idea what to do for Alaska history and that’s what most of it is. I also bought 2 items from the Institute for Excellence in Writing: Rockets, Radar, and Robotics for Richard and the student pages of Student Writing Intensive A for Karen. The other thing was from an Alaskan teacher who made a curriculum to help better understand words and spelling big words by breaking them into roots and their other parts. That will be good for both of them and they will do it together. I also picked up a flyer for Real Science 4 Kids. They didn’t have a representative, just the flyers so I couldn’t actually order anything yet from them. 😦

Now we wait until after July for next year’s allotment to come out so I can do purchase orders. The used curriculum fair is next month and the Christian Light Education booth will be there.