Monday, October 30, 2006

An Excellent Experience

Lately, I have found myself becoming more and more discouraged by the state of affairs in the retail industry. It seems that everytime I go shopping, and it doesn't matter where, I end up having to return things that are missing pieces or broken.

I also have found disappointment in the service category of most companies. If I don't stay ever vigilant to my bills from various utility companies and the like, we end up with charges that are inaccurate. It has gotten to the point that I spend more than an hour a week, resolving issues. What has happened to American businesses?

My latest gripe was with a furniture company. I went to buy Katie a bed at a big furniture company that is nationwide. I picked out the bed that they told me was white. When it arrived, not only was the bed not a pure white, but it also was way too tall for her room, and the dresser arrived with a huge scratch down the top. As if that wasn't enough, when the furniture company came to take the bedroom set back, they put a small hole in Katie's wall that I had just painted 2 months ago. Of course, I also ragged off a 2nd layer of paint with a glaze mixture, so the damage is going to be difficult to correct without totally repainting. Not only did they put the hole in the wall, but they did not tell us that they did it. They just left, and I found the hole a few hours later. The furniture company sent out a representative to assess the damage supposedly, but when the gentleman arrived, he stated that he was a furniture repair person and had no clue why he was sent. I am still waiting on a final response from the furniture company as to how they will resolve the issue.

On to the excellent experience.

I ended up getting Katie's bed at Pottery Barn Kids, on sale, at the same price I paid at the other store. I ordered it over a month ago. Over a month ago, I also got an email saying it was shipped at the same time that another piece I ordered was shipped. One piece arrived, a week later, the bed had not come. I then called customer service, where I got a representative, who said the bed had been shipped and I should be called that week for delivery. One week later, still no call. I called customer service again, who said the person I needed to speak with was on the line, and that I would receive a call in 24 hours. 48 hours later, no call. Finally, I went online and completed a survey about my experience. I immediately got feedback from a representative. She contacted the delivery company (apparently for beds, Pottery Barn contracts delivery with another company in Cincinnati), and arranged for delivery. The bed was delivered on Saturday, and I love it! It matches her room perfectly and the delivery men were very professional and friendly. The customer service representative contacted me again via email today to request a response on how delivery went. When I replied that it went well, and we were very happy with the bed, I got a second reply, that they were giving us $100 for the inconvenience.

I never replied that I deserved to be compensated. I never spoke rudely to customer service, even though frustrated. I used kindness in trying to resolve the matter, and feel greatly rewarded for it.

Kindness does go a long way!! In this case $100.

Ten Random Facts MEME

This is my tag from Celeste.

1. I graduated valedictorian from a Catholic high school in Joliet, Illinois. I really didn't try to be valedictorian, since I really despised the idea of having to make a speech at graduation, but I also didn't think I should fake wrong answers just to lower my grades.

2. During college, I worked as a nanny to twins, as well as worked in the Loyola University Freshman Dean's Office. Working in the dean's office had many perks!!! Early registration for classes, paid summer meals, and getting in on the latest news early.

3. I met my husband while on Spring break in Florida. My friends in high school, ended up being his friends in college. I knew then that he was something special.

4. I actually first met my husband at the above mentioned friends wedding. We were both in the wedding party and sat right next to each other at the reception.

5. More and more, I think about going back to school to become a doctor. I want to be a doctor like I had, that recommends natural remedies before antibiotics or over the counter products, and is interested in the other aspects of family life that impact a person's health.

6. I love children! Especially my own two. I delight in their wonder and curiosity. I am excited, right along with them, about watching ladybugs crawl on the ground. I find their little hands and toes kissable. And I love watching them learn about their world.

7. I grew up in Joliet, Illinois. Location of the beginning of the Blues Brothers movie at Stateville Prison.

8. I worked with autistic and developmentally delayed children at Texas Children's Hospital, and would love to continue working in any capacity to help these children.

9. I still love to color. I would sit before having children and color in old coloring books. A new box of crayons brings joy to my heart.

10. I love Disney!! I have a collection of figurines that I started when I was 5 and took my first trip to Disney World. I started with 4 figures and now have somewhere over 60. I can't wait until our family goes to Disney World this fall.

Food Cravings

While Nicholas has finally begun to round the corner, Katie and I have been hit by the dreaded virus.

Yesterday, Nick began ramming his sister with assorted objects, and generally being obstinate. Definately feeling much better. The brightness was back in his eyes, and while he still has the runny nose and cough, the fever is gone and his eyes are clear. The doctor pronounced his ears looking better on Saturday, so things are going well for him.

Katie and I, now are full of the cold symptoms: runny nose, cough, congestion, and tiredness. Just in time for Halloween as usual.

The strange part...

While none of us is particularly hungry for anything, I had the strangest craving today (and NO I am most definately not pregnant). For those of you who know me, you'll know this is totally out of character. I ate a bologna and cheese sandwich for lunch with mayonnaise. It sounded so good and I must confess in my state of illness, tasted quite good too. I despise mayonnaise. I truly think bologna is just a flat cold hot dog, which I don't like either. But today, those two things were just the ticket!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Gotta Love Spot

SPOT. You know. That cute little yellow dog with one brown spot on his side. The star of a huge number of books by Eric Hill. Also the star of several videos/ DVD's based on the books.

Spot entered our house sometime in 2002 would be my guess, when Katie fell in love with the books. The first was Where's Spot? It was a highly improvised strange interpretation done by Daddy, that involved the penguins demanding for the thermostat to be turned down, and the lion guarding the gateway to the Serengetti. For those of you who know the story, my only explanation is that he is an engineer and engineers seem to think that way. But Katie loved it, and grew to love every other Spot book that we bought from Half-Price or borrowed from the library.

Eventually we borrowed the video from the library, and it was a hit. It was simplistic. Followed the story perfectly. And was just a delight to watch with her.

Now it is Nicholas' turn. A few days ago, I found Spot's Big Learning Book that we bought for Katie. It covers colors, shapes, etc with Spot and the gang. Nick is in a color phase so he really got into it.

This afternoon, I introduced Spot Goes to the Farm.

At bedtime tonight, he chose the same book to read, and read, and read once more. Three times in a row, Spot went to the farm in search of baby animals. While some parents would pressure their two year old to read other books and expand his horizons, and some would grow weary of the same book over and over, I was delighted. Repetition is how he learns. He is being read to...something he just started enjoying the past several months. He is engaged by the pictures, the flaps, and is learning new vocabulary. He is learning cause and effect. And most importantly, he is being rocked securely in mommy's arms, and getting that precious one-on-one time that every child needs and deserves.

So a big YAY to Eric Hill and his lovable Spot. Books so simple and pure and delightful that they can please even a normally rowdy 2 year old boy, and his mommy.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

When Illness Strikes

We had the inevitable 2 year old check up today for Nicholas. Luckily, for me, he decided to run the 102 degree fever starting Monday night. So the appointment to go to the doctor was already made, and instead of a well-child visit, it was a sick child visit. Astonishingly, he has a double ear infection. He seriously had no other symptoms until this morning when his nose seemed a bit stuffy and of course the continuous fever over 101. So how in the world does a child get 2 ear infections with no precipitating virus or cold?? Now twice a day we get to coax pink goo into his little mouth that he purses shut like it is glued.

Now, I also have a second child, who at the wise age of almost 5, has found that when sick, you get lots of attention from mom, plus the added bonus of watching a movie in the morning. So all day it has been, "I don't feel good.....I'm not hungry, I'm too sick to eat......I think I need a movie now."

I know all the wonderful mothers out there who read this probably come up with all kinds of wonderful ways to handle both their sick children and well children. I, on the other hand, am exhausted from lack of sleep, and feeling quite frustrated with attempts to stop the complaining, whining, and general unhappiness that reigns here today. While I know they are this young only once, it seems to last an eternity today.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Two New Friends

Two new friends have moved into our household...well, at least they reside on the front step. One has been named Joe, but then was changed to some other name I can't remember. The other is affectionately called "Punkin".

While Katie drew her pumpkin face with permanent marker, Daddy helped Nicholas tape eyes, nose, and mouth parts onto his pumpkin. After all, who would give a 2 year old a permanent marker??

After Daddy's marvelous carving job, Mommy's magnificent scraping of guts, and a quick search for candles, we admired our family results with the lights out.

After giving the seeds a good bath, and while Dad gave the kids a good bath, I popped the pumpkin seeds in the oven with some butter and popcorn salt, and we settled in to watch Charlie Brown and Snoopy in The Great Pumpkin. If you can get past the "stupid" and "blockhead" remarks it is a great movie, and a childhood favorite of both mine and Mike's. Last year, after watching, we did have to discuss not using the word stupid with Katie.
And here is Nick sporting his present from Daddy and Katie's Saturday adventure. They got to go on a father/ daughter date to a Purdue game and see some good friends from Houston and Illinois. While they enjoyed their time together, Nicko and I enjoyed doing some Christmas shopping and relaxing. It is amazing how quiet he is when big sister isn't around!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Blessed I Am

My daughter awoke at 8:15.

My son awoke at 9.

It is now 10:15 in the morning. I have showered. Everyone has been fed. And most remarkable of all, not a single ounce of fighting this morning.

I am thankful for the extra sleep, the relaxed atmosphere, and the quiet that has surrounded me this morning.

Now, I knock on wood and hold my breath!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Grandma's mittens

Grandma Eileen's mittens are a hit!!

Nicholas has been going through a "I am in control of what I wear, and you can't make me put that on or keep it on" phase.

Shoes and socks are instantly discarded once strapped into a carseat, which can make life lots of fun, when the temperature outside is in the 40's.

Pants can come off on a whim.

That shirt I loved the other day, forget it. Not only do I not want it on, I will do everything in my power to pull and tug and stretch it out in the hopes that it will come off, and sometimes I succeed.

Those jammies I resisted putting on last night, well now I want to wear them out to lunch with Daddy.

What do you mean, I can't wear jammies outside??

But Grandma's mittens...

Those are a different story.

I'll gladly put those on and wear them throughout the house.

I'll play for two hours and keep them on while I run about.

I'll even eat my dinner with them on, and sneak some of Daddy's french fries when he comes home late with them.


A Day Of Art

When all else fails in the land of homeschooling, just do ART!!
The weather was rainy, cruddy, and dark, so we took the opportunity to do some long awaited art projects.

We made apple prints after reading several books on Johnny Appleseed and apple picking.

We made a leaf collage and leaf rubbings from the various fall leaves we gathered. As you can see, most of the leaves are of the same type. The maples that we found kept crushing they were so dried out.

And we just did some painting. This is Nick's 2nd masterpiece.

And the best part for both kids, was rubbing their little hands all in the paint to make handprints at the end. I plan to let them each write next to their handprint, and save them for their scrapbooks. This way I get a handprint with a handwriting sample, or in Nicholas' case, a scribble sample.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Good sight word site

For any of you mommy teachers out there, I found this the other day for getting a list of the Dolch sight words by level as well as the ability to print them as ready-made flashcards.

Relatively Cheap Doll Clothes

For anyone who has a doll loving girl, read on.
My american girl wants an American Girl for her birthday. She has picked out the one she wants and the clothing she wants for her already. She dearly loves her Bitty Baby and one other doll she has, changing their clothing throughout the day. Last year, instead of buying American Girl branded doll clothes for Bitty, I decided to shop the ebay way. I found this lovely little store on ebay called Doll Clothes by Peg, and got Katie several doll outfits for Christmas presents. I was astonished at how well made they were and the intricate detail. I plan to shop once more for this Christmas for a new outfit for when she has her American Girl.

She Can Read

What can be better than seeing your child page through a book and start reading?

I gave Katie her first Sing, Spell, Read, and Write phonetic storybook last night, and she popped it open to page 42 and read the following:

Pam has Sam.
Pam has a fat sad cat.
A fat sad cat can nap.
Glad Sam!
She is thrilled at her new found ability and so are her proud parents.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Nicholas Birthday, Part 2

Eating cake.

Playing with friends

New toys.
All add up for a great 2nd birthday.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Nicholas!

Nicholas' racetrack cake.
While not exactly a work of art (after a day at the zoo and putting 2 kiddos to bed, the last thing I wanted was a challenge) it did taste awfully good.
I must confess canned white frosting did most of the job, but I did make my own for the grass and it was yummy!
Black sugar asphalt for the track, rainbow sprinkles for the people in the grandstands my husband soooo wanted, and little diecast NASCAR racecars were the finishing touches.
Don't forget the banner saying Happy Birthday Nicholas held up by two lollipop sticks.
My little guy thought it looked good enough to eat, and he did. Tasting gently before the candles were even lit. Smiling proudly while he was sung too. And then diving right in without hesitation after the candles were out. He really enjoyed this part of his special day.

That's My Boy??

You can't do much but laugh when your almost 2 year old's favorite toy is his sister's stroller.
But when he decks himself out in his sister's old sunhat, and uses the stroller to ram every thing and person in sight, well, it just goes to show even opposite gender toys can still be used in a very manly way!! A pink hat and all!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Apple Picking

Apple picking!! YUMMY! It has been a life long dream of Katie's to go fruit picking of some sort. Life long being almost 5 years. She has often pretended to go berry picking, so when I asked her this past weekend if she would like to go apple picking, I was met with an enthusiastic YES! The weather was gorgeous, and the apples were plentiful.

Katie enjoyed picking the low ones under the tree, but also got to help us out by getting the ones too high for mommy or daddy to reach. Nick on the other hand did most of the eating.

We came back home with 2 bags of apples, and after counting them, found we had 101 (just like the dalmatians). After giving away a few bags to the neighbors, making an apple crisp, and snacking on a few apples, I have stored some in the basement and some in the refrigerator for now. Plans are to make some apple bread, and a few apple pies in the next couple days. Mike and I have joked about apple salad, apple juice, applesauce, apple bread, apple pie, and apple muffins for a whole days worth of apple eating. Anybody up for some apples?

And a rare picture of me. I think my children will look back someday and think that mommy didn't exist, since a photo of me and them is very rare.

Hard At Work

While it definitely has been a challenge so far, trying to homeschool Katie and keep Nick occupied, we are muddling our way through. As you can see, Katie has a definate look of concentration while working, and Nick too is finding his tasks to be fun. I have found several activities for him to do while we work for a while. For those of you with young ones, puzzles that have been hidden for a while, peg boards, magnets and magnet boards, felt books are all good sit at the table activities for the little guys.