Archive | February 2010


we basically got the same answer as yesterday… rental TOMORROW… don’t feel chatty… feel … yeah


The best I can say is – rental tomorrow… and my personal response – DARN WELL BETTER! For those keeping track – that makes our rental appear a week after the mess truly started with the baliff first showing up at our door. This means this ALL could have been avoided if collections had answered their phone Thursday morning or better yet – had their system set up to recognize the agreement they made with us to hold our payments in the first place!

Now onto some other news I forgot to share! Earlier this month Miss Trinity was asked to be a flowergirl for a June wedding. Of course we said YES! She will only be 2 so a little young but the bride is more than willing to have one of us escort her up the aisle with the ring bearer… so Ken is going to purchase a new dress shirt and I have upped my budget for my wedding fancy dress. This is going to be a first for us – a much more traditional Chinese wedding than we have ever been to before! Exciting! Apparently there is a THREE HOUR dinner… we are debating taking all 4 kids or just Trinity and Emanuel (easier manageable and Emanuel is the one who would enjoy the meal the most!). All in all very exciting! The dress is being taken care of by the bride’s mother who lives in China. I actually  got Trinity’s dress for my MOM’S wedding off eBay from a store based in Hong Kong and was very happy with it. So much more affordable!

I have to say there is one unexpected benefit to all this … frustration … I have been stitching like crazy on my commission to the point where I finished the text and am working my way around the vine like green border. I imagine I will soon make it to the point where I wait on Ken to alter the design slightly to suit the individual this piece is destined to be given to.

Taking Shape!

Taking Shape!

I started my searching for Easter workpages… mazes, word searches (that will be a first for the boys), colouring pages, even counting pages have been printed out. I am also planning on adding a “game a day” rule to the house so that each day we play some game with the boys that is either educational or family oriented.

I am now thoroughly behind on my mailing. I think I still have a few Christmas envelopes  to get out and I KNOW I have Valentines to send people. I am hoping everyone is understanding and just excited to get mail no matter how LATE it is! March is definitely going to be my “catch up month.”

We have opened most of the birthday Play Doh and started using the new pens with their books. We managed to keep busy while Ken spent a large part of the day (once again) on the phone. I am certainly looking forward to freedom once again when we are back with a vehicle, as it is our trip to the Biography Fair is looking like a definite no go.

Queen of the Play Doh

Queen of the Play Doh

Well Tuesday is over and with Wednesday up in the air I am just glad that we are safe and sound at home for the night… just have to remain optimistic for the rest of the week I guess!

Optimism Personified

Optimism Personified

Van Epic in Depth

I know most of the people we are friends with know of our necessary love of the Grand Caravan mini van. In fact, our current van is our 3rd version of the brand… this one is the best of the bunch with stow and go (VERY necessary for lengthy trips) and a built in DVD player (another necessary for our lengthy trips). We bought our van in the summer of 2008 right before we left for our first trip down to Minnesota since before Emanuel was born and got a terrific deal on it. A lease return, it is a 2006 with a few minor quirks but just perfect for us.

2009's Minnesota Odyssey packed and ready to go (Gavin red)

2009's Minnesota Odyssey packed and ready to go (Gavin red)

Now to get this beauty of a van we had to get a vehicle loan from a bank I will from now on call BANK. The terms were pretty good and the payment reasonable to be made every 2 weeks. Now it is back middle of 2009 where the Van Epic began in a very minor way.

I know most everyone is aware that Ken had some medical issues crop up back in the spring of 2009. These issues led to Ken taking a medical leave and starting on medication and group therapy (every Wednesday evening). The result of this is a much happier, healthier and able bodied Ken for which we are VERY thankful! This did require a massive cut in our income (the government is not overly generous when you are virtually forced not to work due to a minor and relatively temporary medical issue). So the previously easily met payments were not so easy to cover. This led to Ken contacting BANK to talk about options.

Amazingly enough BANK had an option! For the extent of his medical leave they would put our payments on hold (I think they made some dummy payments to make it so the system understood) thus just extending our payment time and adding in some extra interest. Definitely a great option and one we were more than willing to take as ours. Now here comes an interesting fact – in doing this we would have our payments RE-START the first week in MARCH… for those keeping track of my past week or so worth of entries… that would put the climax of the Van Epic a mere week and a half BEFORE we were to re-start our repayments.

With the assurance of BANK that our worries were to be put to rest until March so we could focus on Ken’s health, we continued as we were, only to have multiple calls result from BANK’s collections division. Apparently their automated system did NOT like the option we were offered and when it did its monthly run down of all accounts would tag ours for collections. This was quickly resolved and life went back to normal (well as normal as it can with 4 kids and an American as a hubby!). That was until mid January when we got a call from a BALIFF!! Apparently the system decided it REALLY didn’t like Ken’s file and collections up and sent it to the baliff for re-possession. He phoned on a Wednesday (go figure the one night Ken is NEVER home) and spelled out what was going on for me (GREAT the pregnant woman of course starts crying) which led to me in turn calling Ken’s cell non-stop until he turned it back on after session.

Thankfully first thing in the morning Ken called BANK and THEY apologized, maintained that it NEVER should have happened and promised we would NOT have to face a re-possession… (important keep these promises in mind!) and another month goes by.

Mid February and all the excitement our major birthday month contains rolled around. A mere half week before the big birthday party and a week and a half from our re-start of payments (crucial fact we were WELL aware of). In fact on yet another WEDNESDAY a baliff STOPS BY, this time the underling to the guy I previously talked to… clipboard in hand wanting to know where the van was! Luckily I was already on the phone with Ken talking to him about another issue that had come up that night (minor minor) so I handed the baliff the phone to talk to Ken. That is where we found out this baliff was not interested in listening just shooting off his mouth with what for him was probably a run through of suggestions.

Things like – the payments are not that high, and now there are baliff fees – you should have just paid them on time (ummm) and that the bank can’t wait forever for their money, you DO have to pay for it (ummm)… lots of other useless statements that showed he was NOT willing to listen. What did make a difference was when Ken asked for 24 hours he agreed to it.With that the baliff left and Ken came home and we geared up for dealing with BANK in the morning.

8am Thursday morning Ken called BANK and BANK was confused as to why it had happened at all… assurances were made ONCE AGAIN that the van would NOT be taken. BANK called its collections division… well actually they called collections’ voice mail as apparently the two divisions cannot call each other directly! Since the file had been sent to collections BANK could not change anything or even be sure as to whether or not they could see the updated file. Keep in mind BANK tried from 8am to 5pm to contact collections and then told us DO NOT WORRY.

So, minds at ease we went about our usual Thursday… guys came over and I left out with (she)Chris. As a super special treat since earlier that morning Ken had driven (he)Chris out to get his cast off (YAY) and left me with the kids, (she)Chris took me out to Boston Pizza where I fulfilled my craving for the Great White North pizza mmm. Then we headed off to Tim Hortons (so Canadian) to have desert. Thus truly full and rested we headed back to our house… to find a front street oddly lacking in Grand Caravan.

Upon entering the house we asked Ken where it was, his response “they took it.” Our response was almost comical asking “are you joking,” where he responded “would I joke about  that?” Of course that had both (she)Chris and myself looking over to (he)Chris and asking HIM if Ken was joking. Sadly we honestly BOTH thought that the guys COULD joke about that!

I wish it HAD been a joke. Apparently the same baliff who came the day before showed up again, this time with a tow truck. He was pretty rude to Ken (according to Chris) and definitely flippant. Ken asked to talk to the supervisor, which we had the number for and got a turned off  cell phone so direct to voice mail. This led to Ken asking to talk to the owner of the seizure company which he was refused. The baliff then called some number (we assume the owner?) and stood on the phone laughing. With no other recourse Ken willing let them take the van, keys and all… but wanted our carseats and stroller out. This the baliff said we were LUCKY to have and that he could just TAKE that stuff… which of course had Ken upset. We have around 1500 dollars worth of carseats in there as well as a hundred dollar stroller. So Ken went to work removing as much possessions as he could while the baliff told the tow man to start jacking up the van with KEN INSIDE! Dangerous and NOT supposed to be done! I do believe after all this is cleared up we will be writing a complaint in regards to said baliff!

Our only recourse… Friday morning call back at 8 am. Actually due to what had happened WEDNESDAY night Ken had asked BANK on Thursday to call back Friday morning to check in with us, which amazingly enough they did at 8 am. Only to find out THEY thought we should still have the van! On their system it was not written up as re-possessed and remained that way all day. So Ken wasted a day on the phone on hold trying to call collections as did BANK… he got escalated up nice and high with BANK and everyone was VERY kind BUT 5 pm rolls around – NO VAN! The assurance – no van by Monday they GET US a vehicle.

What a great way to spend a busy weekend. Thankfully we have friends with cars and big hearts… Nathan and Ada, Chris and Chris and Karyn all came through for us this past weekend. We managed to get everything we needed for the party, diapers when we ran out and even the twins to their pancake breakfast Sunday morning at church!

So here it is Monday and where is our van? At 8 am this morning… BANK was WORKING on it. I have to admit my response was – STOP TRYING START DOING. With 4 days without a vehicle they had NO legal right to take I am starting to find myself less and less reasonable. 5 o’clock rolls around and here were are still the proud owners of an INVISIBLE van, another day wasted on the phone for Ken. Though this time we were well equipped to keep the boys busy with their new whiteboard marker boards practising letters and numbers and then further busy on their computer we connected up in the basement, trying out their new Bob the Builder game (Clickstart by Leap Frog).

I have spent quite a bit of time today debating what I wanted to say about this entire situation… do I rant? do I remain calm and polite? do I have a big old cry? It is hard to remain calm and objective when the bank’s mistake has my not so tiny family of 6 grounded to the home. We do not have a friend who has a vehicle large enough to accommodate all of us at once. At this point any and all activities we were debating for the week – going to the library and the biography fair are not a possibility. I have appointments to schedule that cannot be done – like my next prenatal an hour away.

So what for BANK is a simple matter is for us an absolute DISASTER. Don’t get me wrong – if we were in the wrong we would just deal but we are NOT in the wrong. In fact, Ken said much of today was spent on hold while BANK worked with the collections department who were trying their darnedest NOT to look bad. NOT look bad… too late!

Don’t get me wrong, the bank branch itself has been beyond helpful, working WITH us and trying their best but what could they do when their collections department let them down? It was a wonderful experience to deal with people in regards to the bank that actually wanted to HELP us, but it is their lack of coming to a favourable resolution that has me upset. They can SAY they understand and feel bad but they are not the ones scrambling to ask favours of wonderful friends and altering plans to make it so we can continue our schedule.

I think the worst of it is the fact that it was THEIR idea for us to hold these payments, we trusted the bank to know their business and their system and in return we have had our van re-possessed and our whole family affected. But, on the other hand this has further reinforced how wonderful our friends and family are… thank you all for the offers of help and the vocal and honest support of our position. It really does feel like we are NOT alone in all of this and that is something I really treasure.


Now time to think through the letter of complaint... or will it be letters?

Now time to think through the letter of complaint... or will it be letters?