Friday, November 28, 2008

On the first day of Christmas, the ETSYKIDS team members gave to me….a Christmas event you really must see!

November 28th – December 10th, join EtsyKids for 12 days of fabulous, festive fun and dreamy holiday prizes.

Here’s how to play:

Each day the EtsyKids blog will contain a post showing an image that’s hidden in an item listing on a few different EtsyKids team members’ shops, along with a clue on how to find it. When a contestant finds just one of the hidden images, they send an Etsy conversation to the day’s entry collector with a link to the listing where they found it. Once their conversation is received, they’ll be entered into a drawing for an amazing EtsyKids prize. Those who find images for all 12 days are entered into the grand prize drawing!

Participants may use one of two methods to find the images:

1. Begin by looking at each of the 7,000+ EtsyKids listings, or
2. Decipher the clue to the keyword to narrow down the listings to under 100.

The clues are word association to the keyword. After you think you have the keyword, enter that word and "etsykids team" into Etsy's search, and start looking!

Example: Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus...........nativity
Thus, you would enter "nativity etsykids team" to narrow down the listings to hunt through. The clues start out easy, and they get harder!

Please do not post the answers anywhere - all answers will be revealed at the end of the game.

If you don't jump into the game until after it's started, no problem! You can still enter that day's drawing, as well as the remaining days, then go back and find the previous days to enter the grand prize drawing.

The Etsykids blog will also let contestants know who to contact to enter, as well as the prize(s) that will be awarded that day. The number of prizes will increase each day and the winners will be selected at random.

***Contestants can enter once each day.

Within 24 hours of winning, the lucky winners will be contacted via Etsy Conversation, and MUST contact (via Etsy Conversation) the prize donor with their mailing address within 2 days of being contacted. If they fail to contact the prize donor within the given time, a new winner will be selected.

Written by: & &

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Etsymom SUPERGIVEAWAY is here!

The Etsymom Street Team is prepping for the holidays by taking the time-honored tradition of gift-giving to another level! Riding the wave of unity, harmony and excitement inspired by the Etsymom Trunk Show in September, our team tossed around a few ideas about our next team event. A little idea of having a giveaway, where Moms would donate an item to be given away each day of November on our blog has morphed into a SUPER GIVEAWAY!! When the call for volunteers went out we had an overwhelming response of over 60 shops willing to donate a $10.00 in value item to this cause. Two winners will be randomly chosen every day to receive one of over 50 prizes. Donations will range from an assortment of hand embroidery, vintage finds, hair clippies, baby accessories, paper crafts, earthenware pottery and more. Perfect for gift-giving! There is a little bit of everything, so whether you like trendy, shabby chic, traditional or retro styles, you're sure to find something! Don't miss this ONLINE EXTRAVAGANZA. Visit us here beginning November 1st for giveaway rules and deadlines!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

We're moving to Lake Tahoe!

When we decided that Corwin would be accepting a job with Zephyr Associates on the shores of Lake Tahoe in Nevada, I created this Treasury with Lake Tahoe and Reno Etsy artists work in it. I thought it made a good opener. After a couple months of searching in Houston, Corwin turned his job hunt national. He quickly had many more interviews a couple offers to choose from. If we were going to move out of Houston, we wanted to make sure that we moved to someplace that we would enjoy. What could be better than a resort town? It has hikes of all challenge levels, beautiful views, skiing in the Winter, Craft and Art Fairs in the Summer, clean air, and little traffic. Since it is a resort town, it also has more culture than you would expect from a small town. It has a Shakespeare Festival in the Summer. Corwin and Gabriel just attended a Salmon Run Festival where Gabriel got to play the boy Salmon in the audience participation play. It has boutiques that I can market my stuff to. It is a three to four hour drive to San Francisco (bonus!) and a one hour drive to Reno, which has the closest airport.

Corwin accepted the job on the Thursday before Hurricane Ike hit. We carefully plotted out how much time it would take to wrap things up in Houston and get up to Lake Tahoe. We set his start date as September 29. Well, that did not go according to plan. Corwin and Gabriel had to leave on the Wednesday before the 29th in order to get to Lake Tahoe by the 28th. Our power was not yet back on. We had lost a pecan tree. Our roof has been damaged. We've got some other minor repairs to complete. Our Realtor did not get power back to her office until after the 29th and could not get our house on the MLS. Here's the Treasury that the chaos of Hurricane Ike inspired:
I suppose you can tell that our plans were blown out of the water. So, here Ethan and I sit in Houston, madly trying to get our house ready to show. Some friends have been a really great help, and I'd like to give them a shout out here:

  • Monica and Jeff Hartley gave me my first Internet access and spent a day helping me sort through things and get the house organized,
  • Barbara Smith and her daughters, Megan and Emma, gave me several evenings of air conditioning and dinners and have periodically come by and hauled away truck loads of all kinds of things from treasures to recycling,
  • Suzanne and Simon Powney provided me with hot showers, electricity and a sewing machine so I could get some work done,
  • Sarah Edmonson spent a day helping me organize and store things and kept Ethan occupied while I got flowers to make the garden pretty again,
  • Tiffany Tyler Kuffner hauled away a carload of recycling and helped me cull clothing and prepare consignments,
  • Letitia Taitte-Lynch spent the afternoon entertaining Ethan while I cleaned,
  • Amy Price came over and gave me a break and adult companionship,
  • Several people had Gabriel over for played dates as he became completely bored with the hurricane-induced break, and
  • Many others have provided moral support during this stressful time.
I am grateful to all of you for your help, your support and your friendship. I am really gong to miss you all.

While I slave away at the old "Pay, pack, and follow" (to which you can add "repair and sell"), Corwin and Gabriel are enjoying Lake Tahoe. Gabriel loves his new school and is busily making friends. Corwin is still getting oriented at his job, but it seems likely to be one he will enjoy for a very long time. The people he works with are all wonderful, happy, smart people who enjoy the outdoors. They are camping out in the house that we have rented. Some quirky things about Tahoe: they don't deliver mail to your house - you have to get a Post Office Box, and
trash pickup is not automatic and has to be arranged. I won't have a mailing address to give to people until after I am in Lake Tahoe. You can request that mail be delivered to your house, but you have to install a mail box at a specific point in your yard. Something to do with snow plows. I haven't lived in a place with snow since I was 10. It is with a great deal of trepidation that I move Northward. I know I'm going to love the Summers; I'm just not sure about the Winters.

Did I mention that we'll have a real live guest room in our rental house with its own bathroom? Come and visit some time. And wish us luck. Right, I'll leave you with this picture I took while on the house hunting trip:

I told you it was gorgeous, right?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

And it is time for the Etsy Angels to champion another charity. This time, we are trying to raise money for the Susan G. Komen foundation. I have supported this charity for many years and am happy to participate in this fund raising effort. I created the above Treasury to help get the ball rolling. you can visit the Treasury at: - please leave a comment and click on every item. Come meet my other team members and find some fabulous things at: . I promise, we don't bite. All the shops listed on the first page of the Forum Thread are giving some portion of their October sales to the Komen Foundation. Look for our "THINK PINK" sections to make us donate a higher percentage! Go to for more information about this worthy charity and what you can do to protect yourself.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Well, I've gone and gotten myself volunteered again.

A bit over a month ago, I was reading posts on the Etsy Texas Crafters Website, and noticed that someone, Pam from Serendipity Rose, was trying to get the Houston area people together to see if there was something we could do to help each other out, boost sales, join together to fill booths at craft fairs, and generally create a synergistic environment where all our shops would become better and more profitable. I figured it was worth at least one evening of my time to see if we could get something worthwhile going. I contacted her. She had a general area that she wanted to meet in, but hadn't picked a meeting location. The area was Sharpstown, so I suggested Fung's Kitchen on the access road to US 59, just past Bellaire. They have long lines for dim sum on the weekends (and rightly so), but Thursday night at 7:00 pm, no problem getting a big round table to accommodate up to twelve people. Well, between the two dinner meetings we have had, seven people showed up, and lots of discussing of many topics ensued. It has been determined that I suck at formatting Blogs, so the list of people is followed by two pictures from each person. The pictures are in the same order as the list of people. I'll try to figure out what I need to do later. Here are the seven people who attended the first and/or second meetings, along with a sample of their wares:

Carol Staley of Emeline Blue Bead and Jewelry Design,
Cindy Joy of Bundles of Joy,
Connie Ramirez of Jewels and Beads,
Diane Sullivan creates stained glass and turned wood pieces,
Jo Leland of Cotton Eyed Jo,
Linda Jones of Visual Smiles Gallery, and
Pam White of Serendipity Rose.

So, what did I volunteer to do? In order to effectively get our group moving in the direction we want to go and recruit other Houston artists, we decided that we really needed to form our own street team instead of being a subset of the rather enormous Etsy Texas Crafters Street Team. For that, you need someone with a little computer skill and some knowledge of navigating the setting up of social networks. Everyone else dithered when I threw out words like "set up" and "administer" and "send invites" and "social network" and "Ning" and "proboards". Groan. So, here's the deal I made: I will set everything up and help guide people on their way. I will be the official Team "owner" on ETSY. When I asked who wanted to own the team, some of the people thought that there would have to be a payment to ETSY to set up the team. Double Groan. Right, so I'll set up the team, Ill set up the Ning site, and Pam will forge forward as our actual leader. I will be a puppet owner. We'll see how it goes. For now, we are going to focus on identifying craft shows to participate in and recruiting new members. Later, we'll work on having our own Trunk show. Oh, and I'll probably have to set up a blog for the "Artisans of Houston" (with a "Greater Metropolitan Area of" inserted by implication in front of Houston). Darn it all. Okay, that can wait until we've come up with a logo, right? Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

And the Winners Are...

So, Elaine and Merry of Art Attack picked out which of the photos I took of Ethan would be printed for the Wonder Wall part of my booth set up. Their choices are these three photos. I think they are mighty fine, but then I grew the model myself, nurtured the artist, and made all the clothes. I might be biased. I hope you like them too. To see larger versions of the pictures, go to my Flickr site: . A great big thank you to all the people who commented on the photos and helped us pick out the best ones! These three were some of the most popular photos among those who looked and commented. Thank you for all your help and support.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Booth Design

So, I met with Merry Schooley of Art Attack on Monday April 21st about booth design. We talked about all kinds of things, but I'm going to try to stick to the booth design for now. Merry has extensive experience in designing events and, when she designs booths, they are usually for large corporations. Her ideas were great and practical.

For the banner and back wall decoration, she suggested that her crew put together what she calls a wonder wall. Basically, it is 2' by 2' squares of a translucent white plastic, attached together with rings. You can make the wall any even number of feet wide and tall. You can print photos onto the squares. You can add vinyl lettering to the squares. You can paint the squares so that they are a different color while still allowing light to pass through them. Unfortunately, she doesn't have any pictures of this set up on her web site. She had a whole photo album full of examples and many examples around her shop and warehouse. I had seen them before, but since it wasn't something I was working on for her, I did not concern myself with it. You can either hang the wall from the same pole as the drapes at the back of the booth or hang it from a frame, put drapes over the end of the frame, and even back light it. It acts a little like scrim, if you are familiar with that product, which is used extensively in theatrical productions. In short, it is a way cool way to create and enormous visual impact while still being lightweight and being able to easily transport it and pack it in my tiny Honda Fit. So, her plan is to take up the top section of the wall with my logo. The rest of the wall would have a scattering of product photos (she thinks children in onesies is the way to go), lines describing product, and blank or colored squares. The whole effect would look like a quilt, which points to the rest of my product line. I am excited to get started on this portion of the display. It will be really cool, very unique, and very professional looking. Since we'll have a table at the back of the booth, the bottom two rows will be blank tiles, which is all good, since they are cheaper. And, really, for such a huge visual impact, the cost of this wall will be quite reasonable. The photos are the most expensive items, but we will only be starting with three or four of those. I'm adding a larger variety of apparel to my line after the show, and I'll add new photos as I create new things that I want to feature. That, of course, is the coolest thing about the wall - you can switch out the tiles as your product line changes or grows. you can also grow or shrink the sign to fit the space you will be occupying. Too cool. The wall will be the major focal point of the booth design.

For displaying goods, Merry suggested that we put a 6' table across the back of the booth, with mannequins displaying the clothing and other goods spread on the table in front of the mannequins. I purchased these two mannequins. which wound up not only be the best looking ones I could find, but also some of the least expensive: and - I'll put one of ediblebaby's outfits on the standing boy and one of my onesies on the seated girl. As an added bonus, the girl will hold a blanket. I will put one of Beaded Socks more brightly colored flower clips on a piece of ribbon and tie it around the little girl's hair. If that looks too odd, I'll just tie it with a ribbon and a big bow. I still have to experiment with it. Additional stock will be stored in plastic storage bins beneath the table.

For my blankets and Toni's quilts, she thinks the best option is a quilt rack. I had already been thinking along these lines, and thought I needed to find an appropriate rack. Stacey made the very clever suggestion of using a drying rack. I pulled my out of the closet and *poof* I now have a quilt rack with tons of space. I've currently got it set up in the front hall with Toni's quilts and my stroller blankets on it. They look great.

In addition to the table across the back, we will have a table at the inner corner with the things necessary for checkout - a computer, a printer, paper, and bags, tissue paper for the most part. I'll use a 20"x48" card table in that corner. We'll have a four tier rack of business cards and one more business card holder here for people to pick up cards while their purchases are processed. Extra business cards, promotional material, bags, tissue paper and miscellaneous packaging material will be stored in plastic storage bins beneath this table, but we'll leave room for legs while sitting at the computer.

In the rest of the booth, we'll have satellite tables, which will, be these stackable drawers: with a tablecloth (Merry is supplying the tablecloths this time around) covering them and additional stock stored within them. Rather than the configuration shown, I will be stacking three large drawers with one small drawer, which puts the top at an easy height for adults to view while keeping it out of the reach of small children. On these tables will be displayed the rest of the stock. I purchased generic business card holders, and there will be a card holder with the artist's cards next to here display.

That about sums up where we are on booth design. I've taken over 400 photos and come up with text for Merry to print on the wall. finished up my banner so that Merry could get to work on the logo part of the wall. Rather than what you see above, the little turtle lovey will be be square and take up a full tile. The name will make up the remainder of the banner. I have most of the stuff that is going to comprise the booth contents. I've sketched out a floor plan later this week, and we'll see if the booth winds up being arranged according to plan. Everything is just about ready, and I am all excited and stressed about the whole thing.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Making it Work

Five weeks is not enough time to get all the business things organized for a huge expo and build enough stock to last through a whole weekend. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I recruited five of my ETSY friends to exhibit with me. I got permission to publish all their names, so here are my fellow exhibitors (keep scrolling down past the pictures of these wonderful products):

- will be showing beaded socks and hair clips with hand made wool felt flowers;
- will be showing a pile of her wonderful colored onesies;
- http://www. will be showing her patent pending dining out bibs;
- will be showing quilts and quilted toys; and
- will be showing mini zadyballs, zadyballs, and zadybugs.

I am very happy to be representing these wonderful artists at the American Baby Faire Here in Houston on May 17th and 18th. Every time I get a package of merchandise from them, it makes feel like a kid opening birthday gifts! The best thing is that I get to look at all their wonderful merchandise and share it with you. Starting at the top and going down, the pictures included in this post are from:

- me at - Bundles of Joy,
- Stacey at Daisy Designs/Beaded Socks,
- Lisa at Edible Baby,
- Shelly at Odannysgirl,
- Toni at Tweedle Bee, and
- Alayna at Zadyball.

I have long admired all their products and am very happy to be representing them.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

American Baby Faire

With only a little over a month to prepare, I committed myself and five of my ETSY friends to exhibiting at the American Baby Faire - a giant baby expo that will be in Houston May 17th and 18th. My friends all live far, far away, so I have taken it upon myself to do the business side of the booth in addition to building up stock to sell at the Faire. An exhibitor who participated for the first time last year told me that she had handed out 2,000 promo packs by noon on Sunday and sold 175 of her KozyPal Shopping Cart Covers. She was very helpful and nice when I talked to her. I will be stopping by her booth to buy a cart cover during the faire. You should check out her web site: for her very useful product. The whole idea of coming in contact with that many new and expectant Moms in one weekend is both exciting and frightening. Overall, the Faire is expected to draw 13,000 people or maybe 30,000 people - I have heard both numbers. I've got a private social network set up for the people participating in the Faire, but I thought the rest of my friends might want to know what was going on as well. Seems as good a time as any to actually start posting to my blog on a regular basis. I'm gleaning stuff I posted on the private forum to pull over here to my blog. Understandably, I am pulling the financial information out. There is still a lot of interesting stuff left. This first post will be gigantic and include most of what I've done in the last three weeks. Future posts will be shorter.

If you know any new or expectant Moms in the Houston area that would be interested in attending the show, send them my way - I have ten free tickets up for grabs.

So here's what I've done so far:

- I have signed the contract and paid for a 10' by 10' corner booth at the American Baby Faire in Houston on May 17th and 18th (getting a corner made it cost $100 extra, but Corwin and I totally agree that it is worth it. Merry also concurs),
- I have met with Merry Schooley of Art Attack - - to discuss our booth design and decoration. The design of the booth is worthy of a whole separate post, which I'll do next,
- I have confirmed the Faire participants and gotten rough estimates of how much stock each person is sending,
- I have contracted with a local design team with some slack time in their workroom to make up a ton of stroller blankets for me. I've been madly cutting out blankets this weekend so that all they will have to do is stitch them up,
- After a great deal of back and forth on what would constitute an effective promo pack, we have decided to just put out racks of business cards - a rack with each person's merchandise and a group rack at the checkout area,
- We have settled on a free gift with purchase as the special for the Faire, rather than doing a drawing or some other form of giveaway. I have purchased 600 blank cards and ordered 600 photos of Gabriel's art to go on the cards. Gabriel and Corwin will be assembling the cards,
- I have ordered and received flap lock bags for protecting cards and packaging onesies.
- I have ordered and not yet received bags for sacking sales. I went with frosty plastic totes made from 100% recycled materials. Amazingly enough, this green option did not cost more than selecting the same style of bag made from new plastic. It did cost more than some other options, but not enough to make me shift away from wanting to use recycled materials,
- I contracted with to revamp the look of my ETSY shop, design business cards, and a myriad other things with my new logo on them. She worked hard to get me what I wanted, and I got a lot of input from Merry Schooley about how to make the design reflect my product. I also got Sarah, Letitia, and Maggie to all look at the early stages of the design and comment on it,
- I scanned, cleaned up and cropped about 20 of Gabriel's drawings. I wasn't happy with the way they were before. Processing some of the art took a bit of a while, but would not have been possible without the help of Alayna's tutorial on removing the background from your photos in Gimp: - I have this tutorial printed out and just put it on the stand next to my computer screen when I get ready to edit a picture. I don't need it as much as I did at first, of course,
- I made fifteen new onesies with the cleaned up and improved art. After I made the batch of onesies and took the first set of pictures, I showed them to Merry. She suggested that the shirts would look ever so much better with a colored border around the art appliqué. I felt like slapping my forehead. Why hadn't somebody pointed that out a year ago? Why hadn't I noticed? I settled on running a satin stitch around the edges of the ones already done, placing a piece of bias cut fabric underneath the appliqués that were prepared but not sewn on, and printing borders on future appliqués. Here is a before and after on one of the ones I had made up for the photos: and - I think it makes a huge difference. Back to the photo processor to add borders for me,
- I have taken a ton of pictures of Ethan in brand new onesies for use in the booth display. You'll just have to wait for the next post to hear about how they will be used. In the meantime, go to this place on my Flickr page: and tell me which four photos you like the best, and
- I done a myriad of administrative things, but surely this post is already too long. Check back for the post on booth design. :)

Thanks for reading this post!

Friday, March 28, 2008

What March is over? Are you kiddding?

Supposedly, we only lost one hour in March to the whole Spring Forward thing. I'm pretty sure I lost at least two weeks. Can someone bring them back to me please? Where to begin on your very first blog? Well, best to talk about who you are and what you do, right? Wow, that could take a while.

My name is Cindy Joy, and I live in Houston, TX. I have a wonderful husband and two lovely boys, one born in December of 2000 and one born in February of 2007. They are beyond a handful. I'll fill in all that fluffy stuff about myself later. What I want to talk about is the thing that consumed between four and six of the missing March days. I am now the owner of a brand new Honda Fit Sport in Tidewater Blue. I love it. It is small, maneuvers well, gets great gas mileage, is a Low Emission Vehicle (I've got the LEV sticker on the window to prove it), and has such a well designed interior that my 6'5" husband fits into it comfortably. How did this happen? What happened to that enormous luxury sedan with the leather interior and the turbo-charged six cylinder engine? That behemoth was a nearly ten year old Volvo S80-T6 that was extremely comfortable to ride around in but was driving me crazy with the rather extreme maintenance price. I've never been so glad to have purchased an extended Warranty. Too bad I went for the 7 year option instead of the 10 year option. Those last couple years were Expensive.

I took my Volvo into the shop for service in early March, only to be told that it needed in excess of $2,000 in repairs. Okay, so that included the timing chain at $710 and the accessory belt at $235 or so (that number didn't burn quite so indelibly into my brain), but enough is enough already. Time to trade it in and get something a little smaller and a lot more reliable with a lower maintenance cost. Corwin and I had previously discussed what we were going to do the next time the Volvo repair people got that gleam in their eyes, and it had everything to do with going back to Japanese cars and nothing to do with paying to repair my car one more time. So, I stalled the Volvo repair person by telling him not to do the repairs, I had to talk to my husband as this was probably the repair that signaled the need for a new car. Repair guy was cool with that and told me to keep the loaner car over the weekend, but that I would have to start paying for the loaner after Monday. He went ahead and did the 67,500 mile service so that he wouldn't have to charge me for diagnosing the car or for using their loaner car for five days.

Fast forward to Saturday, when Barbara has unwittingly volunteered to watch our kids if we had anything we needed to do without them. Looking at cars without little boys is a much more productive than looking at cars with little boys along. They spent a great deal of Saturday with Aunt Barbara. On Friday, I had plotted out our plan of attack. We would go to the cluster of dealerships at US 59 S and Beltway 8. Sure, the ones out IH-10 were technically closer, but with construction shut downs nearly every weekend, the thought of going out IH-10 makes me shudder. So we dutifully go down and look at sedans one class size smaller than the Volvo S-80. Really, it was too big a car for me. We go to the Toyota Dealership and look at the Camrys and the Corollas. They are beyond busy and the salesman keeps ditching us to go deal with returning customers of one sort and another. After driving us out back to look at cars, he takes the golf cart up front and says he'll "be right back" at which time we can test drive one of these cars he is letting us sit in. Okay, we poke around in the cars, see what we need to see, jump over to the next isle, look at those cars, start poking around in cars we aren't really interested in, and finally give up and walk back up to the front. We decide that since we have recently driven Toyota Camrys (both Corwin's parents and mine have a Camry), we don't really need to test drive one today, especially since they obviously have enough other customers to keep them busy. We have other cars to see, so lets go do it. Oh, and by the way, it is time to go get the boys for the afternoon Birthday Party over at a friend's house. We squeeze that in before dropping off the boys with Auntie Barb again.

Next stop, Honda Dealership. We're there to look at the Accords and the Civics. Good enough. The sales staff are helpful, Jesse Motu doesn't abandon us and he goes to get keys for us to test drive the Accord. Never one to just sit and wait, I wander around the show room. I spot the Fit over in a corner and make a bee line for it. It is cute, and the color fluoresces lilac under the showroom lights. This car makes me smile - possibly my first real smile of the day that wasn't at the Birthday Party. I have a "what is this?" moment and stroll around the car, petting it and checking out the interior. I plunk down in the driver's seat and check out the controls. I lift the hatch back and marvel at the cargo space. We take turns sitting in the back seat, and Corwin fits in both the back and the front with a couple inches of headroom above his fluffy hair (Corwin is 6'5", but his hair probably fluffs and curls a good 2" above his scalp). How can such a little car be so roomy inside? It's a miracle. Jesse comes and finds us with the keys for the car that is two steps more expensive than the Fit (did I mention that the Fit is the cheapest car Honda sells?), only to find that we now want to test drive the Fit as well. He goes with the flow, apparently used to people falling for this cute little car. He shows us the nifty features to the car. Especially impressive is the way the back seats fold down flat and even with the rear cargo. Also impressive - when you pick the seat backs back up, the seat bottoms come with them, leaving a cargo space that goes all the way from the floor board to the ceiling - great for those times you need to transport something with a lot of height. Yeah! No more ridicule from my friends when I ask to borrow their truck, van or SUV to transport something that won't fit in a sedan. Sure, I had started the day thinking I was getting another sedan, but this little car was turning my head. Never ones to do things without researching them to death first, we go off to test drive the Accord. It was fine and dandy, if *yawn* yet another sedan. Okay, now about that Fit. We test drove it next. They only had the color I wanted in a manual transmission on the lot, but that wasn't a big deal - I learned how to drive on a manual transmission and two of my four previous cars were manual transmission. Letting Corwin get behind the wheel for a test drive required switching colors. (Ask me about driving around Scotland sometime - he made no objection when they gave us a manual transmission, but I had somehow forgotten how he nearly dropped my transmission on the road the first time we went out of town together.) We both concluded that the Fit was easy to maneuver, fun to drive, hugged the road well, and handled well. Only two things were imperfect - the acceleration wasn't great and the seats had no lumbar support. The first one is the trade off for excellent gas mileage. The second can be solved by purchasing lumbar pillows made from memory foam for $25 each. Okay, so we liked it, but how did it hold up under scrutiny? How many years had they been making it? How did the safety features stack up? What about lifetime maintenance? What were the equivalent cars at other Japanese car companies that we needed to check out? It was time to leave the dealership and go check on other things.

We researched it all. We checked out the competing models. The next weekend, with the kids in tow, we test drove them and kicked their tires. Here's what we found: they had been marketing the Honda Fit in Europe for a number of years, and it is wildly popular there. They have only been selling the Fit in the USA for two model years (2007 and 2008), which is why we hadn't seen too many. I see them all the time now. The safety features stack up well against the equivalent cars; they even stack up well against the car I was getting rid of - part of the reason we bought the S-80 was that it had cutting edge, all encompassing safety features. The Fit also does well in crash tests. The lifetime maintenance is very low - I don't recall the exact amount, but The Fit lifetime maintenance amount was less than the last two years on the S-80. Sounds great to me! We tried out the Toyota Yaris, the Nissan equivalent (disliked it so much that I can't recall the name), the Mazda equivalent (wow, can't recall that name either - it might be the 3 in a hatchback?), and found them all lacking. The Yaris didn't have enough headroom for Corwin, along with other problems. The Nissan was so bad that we only test drove it for about a mile. The Mazda didn't compare well. We did find that Gabriel loves to explore new cars and has an opinion about which ones he likes and does not like. He was remarkably well behaved everywhere we went - we even had people tell us what a well behaved child he was. You could have knocked me over with a feather. The Mazda people tried to talk me into buying the last 2007 Mazda 6 that they had on the lot. Every time I tried to make my mistake, they dropped the price a little more. The final price they offered me was less than the price of the Fit. I just didn't want it. Even if it was a little less money, I couldn't bring myself to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a car that was only okay. The Fit still had my vote after another couple days of going to dealerships and test driving vehicles. So, time to go ahead and buy it. Sounds easy enough, right? We'd already told Honda we wanted to buy a Fit. They had the car we wanted on order for us - a Tidewater Blue Honda Fit Sport with an automatic transmission. They told us that they didn't know when it would come in. Okay, I'd limp around in my Volvo for a while, but if it took more than a week, I was going to have to get a new tire.

On Wednesday, Jesse called to say the Fit was available. I said great, we'll come get it tomorrow, but first we have to take our car by Car Max and see how much they will offer us for it. Early the next morning, Corwin takes me by "Keep it Clean" to have my car detailed, since a clean car will fetch a better price than a dirty one. They did a great job. Check them out at the corner of Washington and Heights Boulevard. Next, Car Max. Boy was that a waste of time. We had Ethan with us, so we had to occupy him while they took over an hour evaluating our car. They didn't make us an offer we were willing to accept. So, off to the Honda Dealer. They gave us twice as much for our car as a trade-in as Car Max offered us. Car Max tried arguing with us about how fair a price they were giving us and how we should accept it right then and there. Okay, they didn't think they were arguing, but come on, like I'm going to accept a price I'm not happy with before I've seen what someone else would give me for it? We'd already settled on a price with Gillman, so and amount they gave us on the trade-in over the offer from Car Max was gravy. So, I'm happy with the amount they gave us on our trade-in, even if we did have to wait on them for another hour while they evaluated my car again. I'm getting ahead of myself, though.

When we got to the Honda Dealership, we asked for Jesse and asked to see our car. It was at this point that we learned the flexible meaning of available. The car is at a dealership in Rosenburg, but they do have the same car in blackberry pearl on the Gillman lot. They wanted to make sure that I really wanted the Tidewater Blue and not the Blackberry Pearl before they traded cars with Rosenburg. Jesse kept asking me if I was sure. I pretty quickly said "Look at that dark blue Volvo over there. Now look at the blackberry pearl Fit almost next to it. Do those colors look enough different to feel like you are getting a very different colored car? No, I don't think so. I told you I want the tidewater blue. You told me it was available. I want the tidewater blue. Now send somebody to get it." He seemed to accept that I really wanted the tidewater blue. We went back inside to handle paperwork, and I thought someone was dealing with transferring the car to Gillman. Right, so an hour later, they make me an offer on my car and I accept it (after getting them to come up some on the offer). They ask about financing. I tell them that I am pre-approved for a loan from my bank for 5.24% for any term up to 72 months, but if they can beat that rate, I will finance through Honda. I state the rate several times during the conversation. Jesse writes it down and goes off to talk to someone about financing.

We've been at the dealership for a couple hours by now - with Ethan in tow. We've been taking turns trying to keep him occupied, but I'm beginning to wonder how long it takes to buy a car from Honda. I finish up with the sales people and they tell me that financing can beat my bank's rate, and they take us over to the financing department's waiting room. Where we sit. And wait. For about 45 minutes. It is getting late. I am wondering if we will be done in time to pick up Gabriel. Finally, the finance guy comes out and says he is ready for us. He tells us that he got a great rate for us. He's very pleased with himself. I ask him what the rate is and he starts printing out documents. He hands us documents to sign. I ask him what the rate is. I find it on the documents - 6.1%. Take a deep breath. Count to ten. Try not to explode that you've now been waiting an hour and a half, maybe two hours, since you told them the rate your bank gave you was 5.24%. I look at the finance guy in disbelief and ask him why on earth I would accept such a rate when I had already told Jesse and, by inference, him that my bank would give me 5.24%. I ask him for a computer with an internet connection so I can get the loan through my bank (in five minutes or less, I'm sure) and get the heck out of there. He looks like somebody punched him in the gut and asks us to wait just a minute, he'll be right back. Right, we haven't heard that one in the two weeks leading up to buying this car. Okay, so we wait. I call Palmer Schooley, tell him what is going on and ask him if he can pick up Gabriel from school. He can and he will. Cool. One less thing to worry about. Of course, it is now after 5:00 and Ethan hasn't had a nap. He's getting cranky, as are we all. It took less time to buy a house, for crying out loud. The financing guy comes back. His new rate is 5.1% for 60 months. Okay, I'll take that - now where do I sign? He's got to print all the forms again. We spend another fifteen minutes going over forms and signing on dotted lines. Why couldn't it have just been fifteen minuted to start with? Okay, finally I'm going to get my car. The finance guy goes to find the sales guy.

Enter sheepish sales guy. They wasted so much time thinking that I wasn't going to buy the car that they got to the Rosenburg Dealership after 5:00. The car has not been made ready, Oh, and by the way, the only guy who has access to the keys has left for the day. I can't have my car that I just spent the whole day trying to buy. What!?! I don't mind telling you that I was totally exhausted at this point. I had spent the whole chasing a 13 month old boy around while negotiating various car related things, and they hadn't bothered to have the car ready for me. Wow, and you want me to give you a five star rating for customer service? Yeah, that's happening. In the end, they send me home in a new Accord and promise to send the car to my house on Friday. I won't have to come back out to the dealership, they promise. I send Corwin and the baby home in Corwin's car and wait for them to get a car for me to go home in. Blargh. By the time I leave the dealership, it is after 7:00 and dark outside. I go by Palmer's to get Gabriel, and he wants to come out and see the new car. I tell him some of my woes and promise to show it to him when I get it. Gabriel falls asleep in the car on the way home. When we get to the house, I have to manually lift the garage door to park the car in the garage. I was in the process of changing the electricity over to my name and away from the ex-garage apartment tenant's name when his disconnect order went through, leaving us without electricity in the garage. He also didn't give us proper move-out notice, so I wasn't totally surprised. I also wasn't parking my borrowed Honda on the street.

So, the next day I talk to Jesse in the morning, and he says that the car is in process and I should get it in a few hours. Okay, I'll hang at the house until they arrive. Well, they didn't get to the house until I was once again in risk of not being able to pick up Gabriel in time. I got Corwin to pick him up. Despite his promise to deliver it himself, Jesse wound up being too busy (selling cars to other people, presumably), and he sent the car with a technician. Good thing he called from his cell phone to have me help him find the house when he got close, because I left my box of stuff in the back of the Accord and had to call him and get him to come straight back with it.

In the end, I am very happy with my zippy little Honda Fit. I still need lumbar support pillows and a cargo cover, but those things are minor. It still confounds me that it could have taken so long to believe that I wanted what I said I wanted and make it happen. Two thumbs up for the car. Half a thumb for the service at the dealership.