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Welcome to GSOFamilies - the all-inclusive resource for families in the Greensboro, NC area. Any information shared on our website, twitter page, Facebook page, or Facebook group may also be included on our website! Please see a full listing of our social media and community groups here: http://www.gsofamilies.com/p/gsofamilies-social-media-and-community.html
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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

$20 Amazon gift card giveaway!

We reached 1000 fans this month, so I think it is time for a giveaway! GSOFamilies has been around for a little over a year now, and it has grown to such a wonderful, helpful, inclusive group of local families. I hope we continue to flourish! I'm giving away a $20 Amazon gift card to one of our lucky supporters. Please use the entry form below to enter - the giveaway ends on August 7 at 11:59 pm. A winner will be notified and will have 48 hours to claim the prize. If it is not claimed within 48 hours, a new winner will be selected.

If you'd like to share this giveaway, please use the following link (copy and paste): http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/NzQ1NDc1NzA2MzRhN2E1NTZlNGI4YjI5NzAzYmY5OjE=/

Many many thanks to all of you for being part of this journey!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 22, 2013

J's for Jaiden and Melissa Britt Charity Basketball Game

Do you remember the horrible news over Memorial Day weekend, when a pregnant Oak Ridge mother, Melissa Chambers Britt, and her 3 year old son Jaiden were killed after their pontoon boat was hit by a speedboat on High Rock Lake?

Jared Pike from Jared and Katie in the Morning on 107.5 KZL has organized and is hosting the J’s for Jaiden and Melissa Britt Charity Basketball Game on Friday, August 2nd at 7pm at Northwest Guilford High School in Greensboro, NC. The game will accomplish two goals – the first being to honor the lives of Melissa Chambers Britt and Jaiden Britt who were killed over the Memorial Day weekend when their pontoon boat was hit by a speed boat. The second is to raise money for Jaiden’s former pre-school – The Muirs Chapel Christian Playschool. Tickets/Donations are only 5 dollars at the door. Doors open at 5:30pm.

The game will feature former ACC players including former Tarheels Will Graves, Jackie Manuel, Wes Miller, JB Tanner, Scott Cherry, and Charlotte Smith, former Wake Forest players LD Williams, Ty Walker and David Weaver and former NC State player Ishua Benjamin plus other pending invites to former ACC/NBA players teamed up with Melissa’s husband and Jaiden’s father, Clay Britt and his former teammates from his years at Western Guilford High School.

Halftime will feature a slam dunk contest featuring Wake’s LD Williams and UNC’s Will Graves and a 3-pt contest between TV News Personalities.

Katie O’Brien and Producer Whitney from Jared and Katie in the Morning will serve as honorary coaches and Biggie from 2 Guys Named Chris on Rock 92 will MC the game alongside Jared. New WGHP Fox 8 Morning Anchor, Julie Grant, will serve as honorary coach for Team Melissa.

There will be a 50/50 raffle, silent auction and various other activities going on before and during the game. 100% of the proceeds go to The Muirs Chapel Christian Playschool. Nascar driver Kevin Harvick is donating singed memorabilia for the silent auction as well as GI Joe 2 actor Augustus Cho will play in the game, sign autographs and is donating GI Joe memorabilia for the auction. Former ACC players and Mr. Cho are available for interviews upon availability.

This is a personal friend of Jared's and he wants it to be a success. If you're able, please take the time to attend the game (the goal is to sell out the gym for the first time ever!). If you would like to contribute in other ways, please contact Jared at jared@1075kzl.com.

Find more info on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JaidenAndMelissa

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Follow Up: New Car Drama

This is a follow up post to a review I posted earlier this week regarding my experience buying a new vehicle from Crown Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Greensboro, NC. You can read the original post here: http://www.gsofamilies.com/2013/07/shopping-local-crown-chrysler-dodge.html

The day I posted my review here on the GSOFamilies blog, I also shared the link via social media to the dealership:
My motives: to let them know I was displeased, but also to share my experience with anyone researching the dealership, with the hopes that what happened to me, won't happen to anyone else. Even shopping at the same dealership, being armed with knowledge is powerful, and having a heads up on what to look out for is advantageous to a shopper.

Shortly after my posting on Facebook, I received a response to my comment from Brian DeFord, the General Manager of the dealership:
I contact him via email, provided him with my telephone number, and waited for his phone call. That same evening, Mr. DeFord called me and we spoke for approximately 15 minutes regarding my experience at the dealership. He was very nice, very attentive to my concerns, and assured me that the experience I had should not have happened and that they specifically train their staff to ensure that problems like what I experienced do not happen. He listened to my viewpoint, and assured me that he would do whatever possible to make it right for me. I told him that all of my problems had been corrected already, and that I was more concerned that a dealership would purposefully participate and encourage such underhanded business. He confirmed that he would address all of my concerns with his staff, and asked if I would be willing to allow him to install the LoJack onto my new vehicle given the confusion regarding the original installation. I agreed, and feel that while I am still wary of the entire situation, I do feel that Mr. DeFord is doing his best to ensure the same problems won't happen again in the future. 

Mr. DeFord followed up to my Facebook post on the dealership's page, and I replied in kind:

Thank you all for reading and your posts, comments, and feedback. The best that can come of this situation is that nobody experiences what I did - knowledge is power! 

This is a follow up post to a review I posted earlier this week regarding my experience buying a new vehicle from Crown Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Greensboro, NC. You can read the original post here: http://www.gsofamilies.com/2013/07/shopping-local-crown-chrysler-dodge.html

Monday, July 8, 2013

Shopping local: Crown Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

After reading this, please see my follow up post - I spoke to the General Manager of the dealership: http://www.gsofamilies.com/2013/07/follow-up-new-car-drama.html

I recently made the decision to trade in my much loved Honda Fit for a minivan. I purchased the Fit a few years ago when it was just me and my two daughters (perfect car for us!) and have loved driving it every day. It gets great gas mileage, is surprisingly large inside, and very versatile for transporting odd sized loads. However, I needed to have additional seating for extra children and made the decision to look into a minivan, provided I could match the payment on my Fit. 

The Dodge Caravan is the most affordable minivan on the market at about $10,000 less than other comparable models from other brands/dealers, and provides some great features on the AVP model, including the stow-n-go seating (which provides extra storage beneath the floor of the two captain's chairs).

However, Crown Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, at 3710 West Wendover Avenue in Greensboro, NC, has given me nothing but issue after issue since the day I went in to make the purchase. Prior to making my purchase, I did my research online, I visited the dealership twice and spoke to the same salesman, and I knew what I was getting into. On Saturday, June 15, I went into Crown Dodge for the third time, with the intent to purchase a minivan that day. It took approximately 7 hours (yes, SEVEN), with lots of waiting. This isn't the first car I've purchased; I've had six vehicles since I got my license at 16: two purchased from friends and family, three new vehicles purchased from dealerships (Ford, Honda, and now Dodge), and a used vehicle purchased from a dealership (Kia). I've dealt with my fair share of dealerships, and always had a relatively smooth purchase transition. Crown Dodge, however, was a complete disaster.

I spent the first 6 hours either with the salesman or waiting on paperwork, agreeing to a trade in value for my Fit, payment terms, sales price, etc. He gave me a monthly payment, with the sales price of the minivan and the trade-in value of my Fit. I agreed. I finally was moved into the office of the guy that does the finance paperwork around 3pm on June 15. He flat out told me when I walked into his office that he was already mentally at the beach on vacation, as he was preparing for his fishing vacation the following week. He was also listening to (and watching?) a fishing tournament on his computer, and kept apologizing for his obvious distraction; apparently, he was missing the tournament this year, after being in attendance for the past several years, and one of his buddies was participating.

There is a LOT of paperwork involved with purchasing a new vehicle, financing it, and trading in the old vehicle. It took us maybe 20-30 minutes to go through it all. That's not too bad! However, the reason it took so little time was the push from the finance manager. He was rushing through paperwork, verbally explaining what the paperwork said, and answering my questions as thoroughly as possible (or so I thought). Since I'm currently in school, my father volunteered to cosign the paperwork with me, which means everything had to be overnighted to Florida, where my parents live, for his signature. It also means I didn't get copies of any of the paperwork to take with me. In hindsight, I should have walked out of the office when I realized I wasn't being given the chance to read the paperwork; it was being covered up and pulled away as soon as my signature was on it to be put in a pile to mail to my dad. However, I was verbally discussing the paperwork with the finance manager, asking questions, receiving what I thought were appropriate answers, and it didn't seem out of place.

I was told I received six years of maintenance, a six year warranty, and the first five oil changes for free. All this for no extra cost! Awesome! The finance manager also told me that because I had a LoJack on my Fit, they would transfer it to my minivan for free too - I just needed to bring the minivan in the following week for about 30-60 minutes so they could transfer it. You know what they say about too good to be true...

I got home, and tried to figure the financing myself. I didn't have copies of the paperwork, and the numbers were't adding up when I sat down to calculate it all. The only figures I knew were the trade-in value for my Fit, the price of the minivan, the interest rate, and my monthly payment. However, I couldn't make the numbers work - I was not able to calculate it to the payment I was supposed to be making each month given those numbers. I called my dad, and told him that when he got the paperwork, I needed him to read it because I was panicking over not knowing why it wasn't working out, and not having copies to read myself.

The Crown Dodge dealership is closed on Sundays, so first thing Monday morning I called, trying to reassure myself and see if I could stop by and get copies, even just photocopies since the originals still needed to be mailed to Florida for my dad. I left a message with the same finance manager at 9:15 am on Monday, June 17. The next day, Tuesday, I called back in mid-afternoon since I never heard from him. He didn't call back Tuesday, either. My father received the paperwork on Tuesday evening, and called me to discuss, since apparently there were charges of nearly $7000 for extended service contract, prepaid maintenance, and a LoJack fee. Additionally, the trade-in value for my Fit was lower than what I had been told. WHAT?!

Now, I'm upset because the dealership won't return my call. I was verbally told "no fee", "no extra cost", "no additional expense", etc. over and over for all the maintenance and service contracts and the LoJack.

Wednesday, June 19, I received a call from a different finance manager at Crown Dodge, asking where the paperwork was since they didn't receive it back from my dad. I asked him my questions, and he said he'd look into it and call me back. I never heard from him on Wednesday or Thursday. On Friday, June 21, the general sales manager called asking where the paperwork was since it hadn't been returned. I told him my questions, and was told he'd call right back after he looked into it. Friday passed, nobody returned my call. Saturday I called the dealership again, and again, nobody returned my call.

Monday morning, June 24, I called the dealership again. I was told, very specifically, that the general sales manager would return my call immediately from his office. Two hours later, I still hadn't received a call, so I went into the dealership to speak to someone in person, since apparently nobody wanted to return my phone calls. I waited quite a while in the lobby for the general sales manager. When I was finally called back to his office, I explained the situation, my questions about the fees for the LoJack, that I was told weren't costing me anything, the difference in the trade-in value between what I was told and what was on the paperwork, and the extreme cost of prepaid service and extended service that I was repeatedly told were included at no cost to me.

The finance manager who had originally helped me was still out on vacation. The general sales manager was incredibly rude and condescending towards me. He tried to bully me into leaving it alone. He tried to intimidate me and make me feel inferior and like I was being difficult. I ultimately told him I was prepared to leave the keys to the minivan with him and walk out the door. Then he changed his tune and said he'd remove the nearly $5000 in extended service contract and prepaid maintenance fees, but he couldn't change the trade-in value of the Fit. I told him that was unacceptable; he called the salesman into his office to prove his point and asked him what the trade-in value of the Fit was that he provided me. The salesman immediately responded with the amount I was stating, not the reduced amount shown on the paperwork. The general sales manager sighed, made a big show of being upset, but said he'd change the trade-in value, and remove the extra service and maintenance fees. I asked about the LoJack, and he said he'd take the fee off, but LoJack is apparently locked into a vehicle VIN number, and they don't "transfer" them and didn't know what the finance employee was talking about when he said they'd "transfer" it for free to my new car. That fee was ultimately removed as well. The manager basically told me to get out of his office, and sign the new paperwork with the salesman.
I signed all new paperwork on June 24 in the office, and it was overnighted to my father in Florida. He received it, signed it, and the dealership confirmed receipt on June 27. We realized that the term for financing was decreased by several months, which was not pointed out to me by the dealership, but I chose not to make an issue of it because I'm okay with the payment and shorter loan term. However,  it should have been acknowledged since I didn't have the original paperwork to compare when signing the new paperwork.

On Friday, June 28, I received a phone call from the salesman stating that they had the incorrect payoff amount for my Fit and I owed the dealership money; he wanted me to bring in a check that day. I was traveling to a family reunion, and told him I'd be back in town the following week, and asked him how it was possible that it was wrong. I heard him get the exact payoff amount on the phone, and asked why I was responsible for the difference. He couldn't give me an answer, and just said that [the finance employee] should have explained it all when I signed the paperwork the first time. Obviously, that hadn't happened since apparently nothing was explained to me by the finance employee the first time around. He rushed me off the phone and just left it with him calling me back the following week after I returned home from the family reunion.

On Tuesday, July 2, I received another call from someone at the dealership, stating that some of the proper paperwork was never signed or mailed and they needed both me and my father to sign it immediately. I explained that I was traveling, my father was traveling, and we had no access to computers, fax machines, or printers. July 3 I received another call about the paperwork from a different person; I explained again that my father was traveling and wouldn't be able to take care of it until the following weekend when he returned home. On Friday, July 5, yet another phone call came through my phone, again asking about the paperwork and how my father and I intended to sign it. I explained, again, that my father was still traveling and I was unable to get to the dealership until either Saturday or Monday. He then informed me that they were waiving the fee for the difference in the payoff amount for the Fit, and asked me to come in to sign the paperwork as soon as possible. I suggested having my father sign it first, then I could come sign it and take the copy with me.

As of today, July 8, I have yet to hear anything. My father has been unable to reach someone regarding it. All this to say, if you're looking to purchase a vehicle from a dealership, please take this ridiculous saga into consideration. This was the absolute worst experience I've ever had buying a vehicle (or buying anything, for that matter). The Crown Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership in Greensboro, NC is disorganized, the staff is disorganized, the finance manager outright lied to me more than once when asked pointed and direct questions, the value of my trade in was altered from an agreed upon value to a lower amount on paperwork, the general sales manager was incredibly rude and condescending to me as a customer, and I should not still be dealing with these issues nearly a month after driving off the lot in my new minivan. The whole situation is underhanded, and I feel lucky it was resolved to this point. I also feel like if the dealership felt they were "in the right" with all the added costs for maintenance, warranty, and LoJack, they wouldn't have conceded to removing extra fees so quickly. It seems clear to me that this is how they do business, and it is shady. I should have walked out of the finance manager's office when he was being so quick to pull the paperwork away from me (to add it to a pile to mail to my father) before I finished reading it. I should not have taken him at his word for what I was signing! Hopefully the remaining paperwork will be completed this week, and then I can put all of this in the past.

For what it is worth, I've dealt with Green Ford, Crown Honda and Battleground Kia in Greensboro with no problems. I've rented a vehicle from Crown Nissan with no problems. These issues seem to be exclusive to Crown Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Greensboro.

If you've had good or bad experiences with local car dealerships, please leave the info in a comment to this post!

See my follow up post, after speaking to the General Manager of the dealership here: http://www.gsofamilies.com/2013/07/follow-up-new-car-drama.html

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Guest Post: Greensboro Science Center & SciQuarium - part 2 of 2

This post is the second of a two part series, submitted by Leslie Wannamaker, a Greensboro mom of two boys. Please view the first part of this post, with information on the SciQuarium at the Greensboro Science Center here: http://www.gsofamilies.com/2013/07/guest-post-greensboro-science-center.html

The Greensboro Science Center has plenty to see apart from the SciQuarium. There is the Health Exhibit with lots of hands on activities. There are several kids play areas separated into age appropriate sections. There is a room full of dinosaurs and a long hall of animals and rocks. My son particularly likes the little cubical with all the glow-in-the-dark stones. The weather exhibit is interesting. If your little one is sensitive to sounds, be aware that there is an area where you can feel tornado force winds and it can be rather loud. There are also several Adventure Theatres with free shows. I haven’t seen the meerkats show but I’m told it’s very cute. We did see the Indiana Bones show. It was very cute but perhaps better for older children. It’s about 30 minutes long and my three year old was ready to leave about halfway through. Downstairs, there are lots of snakes and a few other exhibits as well.

The Animal Discovery Zoo is larger than it looks. I actually prefer it to the zoo in hot weather because it’s about 50% in the shade. If you have any little ones who might tire easily, I would strongly recommend a stroller or baby carrier. There are meerkats, tigers, maned wolves, an anteater, a red panda, several birds, many different types of monkeys and much more. The little house has smaller animals like rabits, hedgehogs, and owls. They usually have a volunteer with an animal to pet. If you like bugs, there is an awesome room full of creepy crawlers in the back of the little house. Personally, I leave that room for my husband to take the kids in but the boys do love it.

The wallaby walk-through and the petting zoo areas are fun as well. The animals are very friendly and there is always a volunteer or staff member around to share fun facts about each one. Be aware that there are a few animals allowed to wander the zoo area. The guinea fowl tend to stay close to the barn at the petting area, but the peacocks roam all over. Behind the petting area is the Animal Husbandry building. Duke, the very tiny baby java gibbon, is usually in the window. If you don’t know, the java gibbon recently had a little one but her keepers were unable to keep mother and baby together (she rejected the little one and then was unable to nurse him when they tried to reintroduce the pair).

The Animal Discovery handlers have “keeper talks” each day at different times. They share something interesting about a particular animal and some of these times coincide with feeding or other play activities. The schedule is posted at the entrance to the zoo area as well as online.

In case you are interested, the OmniSphere shows are generally worth the extra ticket cost. The 3D shows are nice for older children and adults. Personally, I love the laser light shows but those typically play in the evenings. The 12:00 kids show, One World One Sky, is a favorite for my son. It features Sesame Street characters Big Bird, Elmo, and a few others. Just be aware that if you leave the theatre you cannot re-enter during the show. The OmniSphere is first and foremost a planetarium. As with most other shows of this nature, it is dark and re-entry during a show would be disruptive to other viewers as well as potentially dangerous for you.

The last thing I will touch on is food. The new Fresh Market Café is now open. The prices are reasonable, but not necessarily cheap. I think it’s about $6 for a sandwich. We’ve only been in for a snack (a fruit bowl and a yummy cookie). They have plenty of selection if you’re interested. Otherwise, you are welcome to bring your own food items. For obvious reasons, food is only permitted in certain areas. There are tables around the pendulum in the lobby and downstairs. There is also a large cafeteria downstairs though starting around noon it can fill up with visiting school groups. Between the howler monkeys and the tigers in Animal Discovery, there is a section of picnic tables. If you are looking for other snack options besides the café, there are vending machines in the cafeteria.

Calendar of Events at the Science Center

This post is the second of a two part series, submitted by Leslie Wannamaker, a Greensboro mom of two boys. Please view the first part of this post, with information on the SciQuarium at the Greensboro Science Center here: http://www.gsofamilies.com/2013/07/guest-post-greensboro-science-center.html

Guest Post: Greensboro Science Center & SciQuarium - part 1 of 2

This post is the first of a two part series, submitted by Leslie Wannamaker, a Greensboro mom of two boys. Please view the second part of this post, with additional information on the Greensboro Science Center here: http://www.gsofamilies.com/2013/07/guest-post-greensboro-science-center_7.html

The Greensboro Science Center has finally opened the new SciQuarium building. Since we have a membership, I have already taken the kids several times. The new exhibits are wonderful and the new entrance layout is much smoother. I will caution you that it is probably going to be crowded for a while. Parking can be difficult at peak times but there are now two large lots. The ticket line may look rather daunting as well but it moves fairly quickly with four ticket windows. If you have a membership, there is a separate expedited line.

The cost for admission is $12.50 for adults, $11.50 for seniors and children, and free for children under 2. Remember that Greensboro residents, military personnel, City of Greensboro employees, and college students all receive $1 off admission. If you have a membership to the NC Zoo, an NC Aquarium, or SciWorks, you can also receive 50% off admission. For those without a discount, it sounds expensive, but it really is worth the price when you consider all that is included in the ticket. General admission covers the Sciquarium, Museum, kids’ play areas, Animal Discovery, Health Exhibit, and several shows. The only thing not covered by general admission would be any traveling exhibits, the photo booth, and the OmniSphere Theatre ($3-$5 per ticket). You could easily spend all day at the Greensboro Science Center. They only close two or three days out of the entire year so it’s always open. If the weather is bad, there is still plenty to see inside.

That’s enough of the nitty gritty for now. The new exhibits are better than I was anticipating. They have a fishing cat, penguin, otters, a large Amazon exhibit with fish and snakes, the stingray touch tank, the large reef tank, and many other educational areas interspersed between the animal exhibits. My son loved the touch screen exhibits spread around the SciQuarium as well.

Be sure to check out the viewing bubble tucked inside the otter exhibit. There is a passageway under the back of the exhibit that leads to a special bubble inside. The otters are friendly and like to stand right next to the bubble. I think some of the kids had more fun just climbing in and out. It’s certainly large enough for an adult to stand in but you will have to duck down to get to it.

There is a great place for pictures beside the penguin exhibit. If your kids like rides, there is a short ride behind the penguin exhibit for $1. It’s supposed to make you feel like you’re swimming with the penguins. I haven’t tried it myself because one of my boys is terrified of that type of ride, but there were plenty of kids who seemed to enjoy it.

The stingray touch tank is a lot of fun! The kids aren’t supposed to splash, but of course it happens. If you really want to touch one, I’ve learned a few tricks. On the left side of the tank beside the pier, there are some shallow areas where it’s easier to reach the stingrays. Avoid anyone splashing because it scares the animals away. Put your hand in the water and move as slowly as possible. They will rub against your fingers like a cat. There is a hand washing station across from the touch tank beside the Amazon exhibit. A word of caution, the tank is deeper than other similar exhibits I’ve seen. Make sure your little one isn’t climbing the rocks and/or leaning too far over. I haven’t heard of any incidents but the school teacher in me can see it happening.

The animal quarantine area and the main reef tank are also great exhibits. There are several different sharks, a few large stingrays and tons of fish. I believe they are getting ready to add more fish to the main tank as well. If you are traveling with grandparents, there are plenty of places to sit in the SciQuarium. It’s larger than I was expecting. Even with the crowds, I was able to maneuver the double stroller without any trouble.

As you exit the SciQuarium, there is a photo booth. You can see the pictures before you buy them and you don’t have to buy them at all. The pictures are taken against a green screen. They add in about six different backgrounds like a shark eating the surfboard you’re standing on, riding a giant stingray, and standing inside some of the exhibits. It’s cute but a little more than I wanted to spend (starts at $20).

If the crowds are inhibiting your enjoyment of the SciQuarium, you might want to come back to it last. It is right at the main entrance so most people go there first. I have noticed that after 4:00 it is almost empty. If you have a sensitive little one or just hate the crowds, I would recommend strolling the museum, followed by Animal Discovery, and save the SciQuarium for last.

The only disappointment I had with the new wing was the bathrooms. I’m sure only a mom would find them troublesome. They are nice and clean, but small. If you are traveling with newly potty-trained little ones, allow extra time when you can. You can fit an adult and child into the stall but it’s a tight squeeze. Only the largest stall can hold a stroller (which is typical). Unfortunately, this is where they choose to put the changing station. If you have a stroller, you may want to park it outside the bathroom (there is an information desk there with museum staff so no worries about theft). If you have little ones who will need to be changed, you may want to take them to another restroom. The restroom around the corner from the kids play area has a changing table outside of the stalls. Downstairs across from the elevator there is a larger restroom (same number of stalls but they are bigger). There is also a restroom outside near the little house in Animal Discovery.

This post is the first of a two part series, submitted by Leslie Wannamaker, a Greensboro mom of two boys. Please view the second part of this post, with additional information on the Greensboro Science Center here: http://www.gsofamilies.com/2013/07/guest-post-greensboro-science-center_7.html

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