Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The British are coming!!

Actually, they were here on Sunday, but that wouldn't be a very catchy title, would it? The film crew showed up around 11 am and although Christi and I were a bit nervous, we were as ready as we would ever be as we stepped into the living room to meet them. Our fears were quickly allayed as the director and producer turned out to be very nice and very laid back people. Nat, the director was charming and friendly and the kids took to him immediately. Emma, our producer, had talked extensively both on the phone and via Facebook to both Christi and I, so she was more familiar, but it was great to actually meet her face to face. Our cameraman, Julius was quite a lot of fun and probably the kids favorite. With them also were Kris and Alan, both locals (from L.A. and Murrieta, respectively) a couple of nice guys also. The day went very well and the kids performed amazingly well. There was no pressure and Nat guided us through our various shots with ease. The day flew by and we were sad to see them go, but anxious for them to get the film back to London and finish the documentary, the quicker to see how it turns out. I was able to get the following pictures using the amazing camera that they provided me for filming the birth. I'm no photographer, but with a 21 megapixel Canon, I could hardly go wrong.This one was taken by Julius, it's all 17.9 of us on the lawn under our miyamosa tree. They had us wearing those orange nametags for the first couple shots.
Rebekah gets her closeup as Julius operates the camera, Nat the director is at far right and production assistant Kris is behind Nat. Trevor is at the table waiting for permission to dig into the pizza with Emma standing up in the middle of it all. Harper is at the left, talking with the sound guy, Alan.
It was great time and we had a lot of fun.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Just a little update

Christi has been posting on her facebook about various events that have occurred in our lives recently, so I'm going to try and update on these things and fill in some details about what has been going on with us lately.

Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea: The Cason News Update!
For those of you wishing Dalton well, he has an appointment on the 20th to have some upper GI and lower GI scans and an ultrasound to have a thorough look at his innards and see what this mass is all about. The Doc at Loma Linda said that whatever it was, it would most likely involve some sort of surgical intervention, we just need to find out more and see what is what. We hope that those of you that pray will do so for a simple diagnosis and easy treatment. He says it's not hurting much anymore, but we want to get this thing out and finished so he can get busy with college and work and whatnot.
On the home buying front: Some of you know that we were in a contract for a house that was a short sale and were waiting to hear if we had bank approval on the first mortgage (we were told that the second mortgage holder had approved us). Apparently, without contacting us, the listing agent heard from the bank that they wanted an offer of at least $6500 more than we had offered and they chose to go with a backup offer without contacting us and giving us the chance to counter. We had been waiting just shy of 6 (six) months thinking we had it in the bag, when I just happened to drive by the house and saw that the swimming pool was full of clean water (it had been near empty with some stagnant rain water at the bottom when we saw it). Curious, and knowing that our agent had been unable to reach the listing agent for some time, I thought I would just call the main office and inquire about it as though I were just looking. I called and asked and was told that the house was set to close escrow the very next day, but they had many more lovely houses in the area to show me....
I was obviously quite upset by this, and made my displeasure known to the agent who had answered the phone. She didn't have any answers and was, honestly, pretty dismissive of my outrage. After several messages left for the listing agents and having our agent make some inquiries, we figure that one of the listing agents probably screwed his fellow listing agent by dumping us and taking the bigger offer without notice and may have taken the lion's share of the profits too. While I know we could probably have raised a legal stink about this, it would have cost us money we can't afford to lose and so we took it as a sign from God that the house was not the right one for us. We have since made a couple offers, on which we stand as backups and are continuing to look.
We will find a house.
We have also been contacted by a young lady from the BBC and it appears they would like to interview us for a documentary on the human body. We will be featured in an episode on reproduction, (naturally!) and we're told that it will air on TLC in the U.S. in 2011. They originally intended to film the birth of #16 but the hospital balked for safety reasons (read: liability) and so it will just be the interview. That's going to happen on the 29th, we'll let you know how that turns out.
Speaking of #16, Christi is scheduled to be induced on the 1st, because the Doc likes to keep as much control due to the high risk associated with numerous pregnancy moms. Of course, that is assuming that the baby will let us get that far in the first place. Christi has been having some interesting contractions lately and the thought is creeping in that we may be in for an early arrival. Kids never pay attention to schedules, do they? This one we'll definitely keep you up to date on. Certainly on facebook, maybe on twitter if the laptop we bought arrives in time. That's another small piece of news, we bought our first computer in 8 years and we're excited about not having to wait 20 minutes for the computer to boot and then logon and access the web. We have been using Chad's laptop, but he needs it for school now, so it's gone most of the time. Got a really sweet deal on ShopNBC.com too.
Along with the contractions, Christi has been having a really hard time with migraines. She has had to deal with them on several pregnancies, but this one has been the worst. Her Doc has given her some stuff for pain, but it is of limited help and nothing works completely for her. It will ease off and get better, but she has headaches that last for days. At the moment, she is headache free, and I hope she can stay that way for awhile. She's been to the hospital several times for these migraines and while they eventually get rid of it, they pump her full of meds and she feels hungover all the next day. Pray for her to have some relief until the birth.
Also, as you may have seen on my facebook, I was in Washington D.C. recently for some work training at our company HQ. I got to walk around and see some great sights, but it really made me miss Christi and the kids not having them to share it. I got a few good pictures, but the camera gave me some trouble when I tried to photograph the White House and some other neat sights. I am already hatching a plan to get the family there for a vacation as soon as I can swing it. I'd like to make a loop through Philadelphia, D.C. and some Virginia Civil War sights. Maybe in the Spring so it's not so hot and humid as it is now. I'll try and get a few of the D.C. pics and a post on my blog when I can.
That's about it for the update, but with us, there will always be something coming up.
Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A recommendation, if you're so inclined.

We recently had the pleasure of purchasing a certified used car to replace my previously um... disabled car. We had been waiting until the house approval came through, but we had been using Dalton's car since then and we could no longer continue to put miles on it. So we began the search for a car, with a pretty good idea that we would be getting another Chevy. I wasn't ruling out a Toyota or maybe a Nissan, but preferred to go with an American car if I could.

I quickly found a Chevy Cobalt 4 door that was priced pretty reasonably, certified used and had pretty much everything I needed. I test drove it and then sat down to see about making the purchase. My credit is not the greatest, so I expected that the interest rate I got would be a bit high. The initial rate they came back with was 16.99%. I walked on that rate and went home.

The next day, I had decided to just go with it, thinking that I would not get a better rate and I called the dealership. The salesman told me he'd talk to his finance people and see if he could get a little better rate. Making a long story short, they came back with an even higher rate, so I bailed on that car and kept looking. Fast forward to the car I found at Rydell Chevrolet in Northridge California. I had gotten my own bank, Wells Fargo to agree to a pre-approval at a rate of 11.99% which was much more acceptable. I went into Rydell expecting that rate.

The car was an awesome price, having only 15,000 miles on it, and priced below it's blue book. I was saving myself all the depreciation, and getting the car I wanted. Due to the late hour on that Saturday afternoon, unfortunately, we missed getting the approval of the underwriters for the bank and would have to wait until Monday morning. We were prepared to put a $500 dollar deposit and come back then. Enter the finance manager. I hate to say it, but I don't recall his name and don't have the business card nearby. As he was writing up the contract, he asked us what our credit score was. I told him what they had said it was at the other dealership and he seemed amazed at the high rate I was getting. He asked if he could make a call on our behalf and we said ok, feeling skeptical, but let him try anyway. He got on the phone with one of his bankers, with whom he has a pretty good relationship, and chatted us up, talking about our kids and telling her about our blog and stuff. They were obviously familiar as we heard her laughter over the phone as he chatted and joked with her. Withing a few minutes, he looked at us and said, "approved...at 8.5%". I nearly fell out of my chair. This car dealership finance guy, had gotten us a rate that was 8 or 9 points below the other dealership and still 3 and a half points below what I had thought was a great rate (considering my credit) from my bank. Plus I was getting a barely used car at rock bottom pricing with the features I wanted. This has turned out to be the best car deal that Christi and I have ever gotten. The whole experience this time around was awesome and for that reason I HIGHLY recommend Rydell Chevrolet on Devonshire street in wonderful Northridge, California. If you are anywhere near Los Angeles and looking for a car to buy, Google them and give them a shot, I think you'll like them.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A real anniversary

It's about 4 am local time, and 19 years ago today, Christi and I were just about to tie the knot. We had no idea what we were doing, and of course had no clue where that night's actions would lead us. We've had our ups and downs over the years, but it's been the greatest time of my life. I cherish my wonderful wife and our 16 children. Of the many directions my life could have taken, I wouldn't have it any other way.


With that, I present to you all...

The story of us, part 4

The last time I had gone to Vegas had been with my roommate and another good buddy. That trip, by comparison, would prove to have been very uneventful. As Christi and I travelled along, we didn’t speak about what we were going to do. I think we sort of discussed the fact that neither of us was dressed for anything fancy and we pondered where we might go for our wedding, but for the most part, we didn’t really talk about what we were getting into. The road to Vegas was a long one, especially as it was getting pretty late into the night. Much of the trip is a blur, blotted out by the overpowering memory of the more important events of that weekend, but one memory that will never go away is of the World’s Tallest Thermometer. More precisely, I remember the parking lot of the Bun Boy restaurant which is located right next to the World’s Tallest Thermometer. We didn’t eat there, and we didn’t really stop to see the World’s Tallest Thermometer. None the less, it was the most memorable part of the long drive through the California desert. We arrived in Las Vegas sometime in the 3 o’clock hour and drove around looking for a motel room. We secured a room at the Gateway motel and spent an hour or so freshening up and then we ventured back out to see about this marriage thing. The first step in the process was to obtain our marriage license. We went into the Las Vegas marriage commission building which, true to Vegas form, is open 24 hours. We filled out the required paperwork, paid our fee, and then, since we hadn’t made our minds up about where to get married, we chose to be officiated by this guy:

Ok, so it wasn't really Scatman Crothers who married us, because he'd been dead for something like 5 years by then, but the guy, Owen, looked a hell of a lot like him. Owen was the Deputy Marriage Commissioner of Clark County, Nevada. He was really nice and we had a very simple, quiet ceremony. We went back to our motel room in a daze...already Christi was wondering what she had just done as she began to say, "I can't believe I'm married", again and again throughout the day in kind of a stunned whisper. She continued to say that, from time to time for the first 4 years or so that we were married.

Sometime later that day, we found ourselves at a pawn shop somewhere in town and we bought a couple of plain, cheap gold rings and those were our wedding bands for a couple years until we could afford something a little better. We then began to ponder what we might do in the way of a honeymoon. After a bit of thinking, we came up with the brilliant plan of going out to Hoover Dam. We headed out that direction, but our enthusiasm for seeing the dam began to wane and several Indian turquoise jewelry stores later, Christi began to feel the need to get back to Chad and Jessica who were staying with her folks for the weekend. So we turned around and headed back West, our heads reeling with thoughts of the future.

We still had to face Christi's folks when we got home.

Monday, August 2, 2010

An anniversary, of sorts

It was 3 years ago, on Saturday that we began the filming for our TLC show Kids By The Dozen. Christi and I have been reminiscing a bit as our little Laura Mae (She was in the belly for the filming) has been asking to watch the show very frequently in recent days. "Watch Mommy-Daddy!" she says and we or one of the kids will bring up the show on the DVR.

Christi and I were talking about that first day, meeting the crew and the producers. We had already met Laura Swalm by that time as she had come out for the initial meeting with the executive producer, Bernadette McDaid. On the first filming day, however, she arrived with an assistant, two cameramen, Dane Lawing and Ronny and our sound guy, Brad. We were introduced to everyone and over the course of that week, we got pretty familiar with them. Christi reminded me how nervous she was on that first day, compared with 4 days later, we came to expect to see the crew sitting around the living room every morning, Starbucks in hand waiting for us to get the kids up and presentable. We had a lot of fun filming that show, we got to see a lot of cool insider stuff that happens when filming TV shows (we still point out stuff on other shows) and we made some friends. Christi is still in touch with Laura via Facebook and Chad still talks to the production assistant Trevor.

It was really a great time and I think we'd do it again if the chance came up.