Sunday, August 31, 2014

Legal Troubles

Some of you may have heard about how I'm in trouble with the law these days... Sort of just kidding but sort of not. Somehow I've gotten myself involved in two complicated matters. Listen and hear my tale of woe.

The first one started the day that Daron graduated from law school. We had just gotten back from a historical vacation with Daron's parents right before the graduation. While we were gone, the postman had delivered a certified letter to our neighbor - who signed for it on our behalf. Which is illegal anyway.

The notice said that I was being sued. At first we laughed and thought how ironic on Daron's graduation day we'd receive such a funny letter. But we realized we needed to take it seriously. This firm really thought I was the person they were looking for. Apparently another Heather Brown with the same birthdate had been involved in a car accident in PA. Her insurance didn’t pay enough so this law firm had taken up the case and found me thinking it was her. 

We contacted them immediately to tell them they’d made a mistake but they didn’t believe us. So we sent documentation (marriage license, emails from work, affadavits, etc.) proving that I was in Virginia at the time, we’d never owned that type of vehicle, my name wasn’t even legally Heather Brown anymore, etc. The law firm ignored us. We tried to get an attorney involved. The law firm ignored him. For seven years, Daron occasionally tried to contact them with no reply. The lawsuit still hung over us. I couldn't legally sign the papers on our house because I had a lawsuit hanging over me.

Finally we hired another attorney, Mr. Doyle, (Daron couldn’t do it because of a conflict of interest) and he sent a long nasty letter to the firm. Very quickly they replied that they would be dropping the case (of which nothing had been done for years – they’d just ignored us – didn’t even try to follow up with us!) The crazy thing is that when they replied to Mr. Doyle, they called him Mr. Brown! Mr. Doyle thought this firm is really confused. I agree. But it should be done and over with within a week or so.

The other legal issue has to do with my license. I’ll try to make a long story short but it is a long story. When we left Virginia we did not know that there is a law there that you must notify the DMV of your change of address. They tried to send us letters after we moved regarding the end of our auto insurance policy. When we didn’t answer (we never got the letters) they took away my ability to drive in VA. We didn’t know that. And somehow after the letters were sent to both of us, some glitch in their computer system solved the problem for Daron and his record is clear.Not fair.

So here it is seven years later and I renewed my TX drivers license in March. Two months later I received a notice from the TX Department of Public Safety saying that because of a previous issue in VA, I will lose my TX license in June if I do not take care of the problem. I was floored. So I called the Virginia DMV and found out that all I needed to do was show that our car was still insured in December of 2007. So I got them the information from our insurance company and the Virginia DMV lady told me that my record was clear. Sigh of relief. I wiped my hands of the matter.

Not so! I neglected to get a letter of clearance from Virginia’s DMV and send it to Texas’ DPS. Ooops. So on June 10, 2014, the day my license was supposed to be suspended in TX, I got pulled over at the airport when I picked up my Mom. The officer thought I cut him off – I thought he was being nice and letting me over – then two times I didn’t signal. I didn’t signal but I was busy chatting and hadn't realized it. When he pulled me over, I was totally surprised and had zero idea what I'd done. It must have been a funny sight - nice minivan pulled over by two cop cars with Mommy, small kids, and Grandma inside. Real dangerous criminals... I apologized but he was still not very nice about it. He didn’t say anything about my license being suspended probably because it hadn’t gone through the system yet.

So a couple of weeks later I was checking my driving record to see if I had any points (I’ve had one red light ticket and was involved in an accident – not my fault – last year) and was trying to see if just paying this airport ticket would create problems (i.e. add too many points) or if I should try to contest it. So I pulled up the driving record and saw to my horror that my license was ineligible! What? DPS never contacted me to let me know that they had indeed suspended my license.I continued to drive as I felt that I shouldn't be punished for having taken care of the matter.

So I tried contacting them many times via phone and email to let them know I had actually taken care of the problem. Nobody ever answered the phone or my emails. Then I received a notice in the mail that because I had driven while ineligible (thank you airport policeman), I would have just over a month of being completely suspended from driving in September/October. If I wanted to drive at all, I would need to set up a hearing with a local justice of the peace for an occupational license hearing. That will be on Tuesday, September 2. At this hearing, in which my personal attorney (aka Daron) is representing me, the judge will decide how often I can drive each day and what days. It can only be a maximum of 12 hours a day!

We’ve been trying to get hold of DPS to schedule a hearing to contest the whole thing but they, of course, have not gotten back to us. I don’t know that I’ll be able to get this off my record. I am so embarrassed and frustrated by the whole thing. I understand they have to go by the law, but I truly feel I’ve been treated rather harshly for two honest mistakes (1 – not knowing the VA law that one has to notify them of a change of address, and 2 – forgetting to send TX DPS a letter of clearance). Fortunately, while this has been annoying, I have been able to step outside myself and realize that it’s a complicated crazy story that is somewhat fun to tell people. It will be funnier when it is all over!!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Brown Family Reunion in Massachusetts - Part 1

The Brown family is spread out across the country and it's really very seldom that we can get all together. I pushed this reunion along and started making plans months ago to spend the Fourth of July together. 

We had checked our stroller so Daron devised an easy method for keeping Jacob close as we went through the St. Louis airport. Thank goodness for rolling suitcases!


We left Texas on the first of July, landing in Boston just before dinner. So we drove to the North End, the Italian part of town and my favorite area to eat. We met my parents and my sister's family at a family owned Sicilian place. The food was excellent and the back room was quiet.


Since Mom and Dad don't have enough room in their house for all of us anymore, we stayed with my good friend from high school. She and her husband were very hospitable and took very good care of us. Thanks Julie and Steven!!

Tony's family arrived late that night, and Michael and his wife live nearby in New Hampshire, so by Wednesday we were all there!

The first day we spent time relaxing and hanging out. I miss my parents' yard - quarter of an acre and no fences, tree swings, green grass, and decent enough weather that you're not stuck inside next to the AC every day of the summer. The kids played outside every chance they could and the cousins all got along fabulously.

We got to the Minuteman Museum in Lexington and the Old North Bridge in Concord. 


Esther and her cousin Bekah are best friends and co-conspirators.


My nephew Daniel is a sweet terror. This was one of his sweeter moments.



The following day we went to Salisbury Beach. It was overcast but still warm enough to swim. The water, on the other hand, was freezing. But that's completely normal for the northeast Atlantic Ocean during the summer. Daron, my California boy, was shocked when he hit the water!









Us Brown kids all have fond memories of the Fourth growing up in a small New England town. The hurricane coming up the coast nearly ruined it but I truly believe the Lord intervened on our behalf. The night before the Fourth, Chelmsford always has a celebration on the Common with food, craft, and local business booths, entertainment, and gathering with friends.It was pouring rain around 5pm and I kept praying that the rain would stop. Shortly later, the clouds parted and we all rushed to the center of town. What a blessing! I hadn't been home for the Fourth celebrations since 1998.


I ran into some old friends! Mel, Kristy, Jen, and me. We had a get together with some of us later the next week. It's crazy to think it's been 18 years since high school graduation!!



Melanie and Michael sharing a very large homemade ice cream sandwich. Yum!



My favorite meal here? Large grilled sausage and pepper sandwich, lemonade, and hot fried dough from the All Saints Church booth.


The gorgeous white church in the center of town.


Every year, the fire department downtown raises the flag on the ladder truck while the Chelmsford Band plays the national anthem. Very moving.

The next morning the clouds were threatening again and there were a few little sprinkles as we waited for the parade to begin. The rain held off until we were safe in our cars and then it poured all day!


Bekah, Esther, and Jessica - cute matching cousins!


More cute matching cousins! The only one missing is Aaron who was participating in the pre-parade road race with my sister and her husband.


A few people dressed up in fun costumes to race in. A pilgrim and Spiderman...



Here comes my brother-in-law! He made good time.


My sister and her son, Aaron. He was rather embarrassed at all of us yelling his name when they ran past.



The rest of the day was spent indoors but we still had a great BBQ, the kids had a parade in the rain with umbrellas with Grama leading the way, and everyone just talked and ate, and enjoyed being with each other.


My aunt Janet (right) and her roommate Shauna came up from Connecticut to spend the day with us.














Friday, August 8, 2014

Esther and Nathan's First Day of School

Just as the temperatures are consistently reaching into the 100s and the rain has stopped falling, our kids started school. One first grader and one third grader went very confidently and happily to school on Tuesday. Their enthusiasm for getting up early dampened by the second day but they still are enjoying themselves.

I think we have some pretty good lookin' kids. I really miss them during the day and surprisingly, so does Jacob. Each time we've dropped them off this week, he cries and says he wants to "go school too." I imagine pretty soon he'll be back to thoroughly enjoying his alone time with Mommy.









Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nathan's Dream Sport

We just discovered a sport that's been around since the early 1900s. It's called Parkour. Nathan already does this - though on a much lower level. When I first saw some YouTube videos of it, it reminded me of how Nathan has to jump off of every curb, swing on the shopping cart stalls in the parking lot, walk along small walls, and generally be just non stopping! Maybe someday he'll be jumping off of buildings! Yikes!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Brown Family Reunion

We just got back from a marvelous two week vacation/family reunion in Boston. We had a wonderful time as a family. I'll be posting more later!


Friday, June 20, 2014

Superheroes!

The kids gave Daron a Captain America t-shirt (which they are hoping he'll actually wear!) and a superhero card for Father's Day. Naturally, that prompted a photo shoot outside. Then I put together a collage which will get framed for his office at work. We have some pretty super kids!



Friday, May 30, 2014

Go Tornadoes!

Daron has been coaching Nathan's tball team this season. I've been helping out, too, as Team Mom and secretary - sending out reminders, ordering uniforms, corralling kids in the dugout, giving high fives, opening water bottles, and cheering. 

Most of the boys had never played before and it's been fun to watch them improve. One of our little guys is autistic and even he has come a long ways from the first practice where he had zero interest to hitting and running around the bases and scoring runs. 

It's been such a joy to watch them become buddies. Though little boys that get too comfortable around each other start making gross noises and hitting each other for fun. Ahwell. 
We actually won two games in a row the last two nights! 

Nathan has started hitting harder and is hesitating less on where to throw the ball and chasing down players to tag them out! He's just adorable. 

And speaking of adorable, Jacob has been trying to get into the fun, too. 
Go Tornadoes!!!!