Sunday, November 30, 2008

What's better than friends?
Smart friends who say funny things.

This is far too perfect. I just have to share. Baby Proofing is Like Running a Marathon

In that entry, she includes not only an adorable picture of her youngest, but also this fabulous observation about baby-proofing as a marathon:

"Where the sponsors are sadists who keep moving the finish line whenever anyone gets close to crossing."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fruit, it's what's for dinner.

Our Melissa & Doug cutting fruit set arrived today. Huzzah!

I was told that they couldn't provide me with the tracking number for the original shipment as it had been filed away. I was assured that such paperwork is only filed after delivery, but, like I've said, we never received it. So I never got any proof of the original package, but in the end, she did agree to send me a new one via UPS (to avoid any delivery problems) and it arrived today.

It came just before the girls' dance class, so I hid it away until just now. I plan to surprise them in the morning. I love wooden toys and I love the quality of Melissa and Doug products. I can't wait to see their faces tomorrow when they see it's here.

As promised, I will provide pictures in the near future. I won't promise you'll actually see any identifiable features of my children (I don't post pictures of my kids' faces), but I can promise you'll get a glimpse of the wonder that is the cutting food set.

Where oh where has my sidebar gone?

I have no idea what happened to all the info on my side bar. I just now noticed that it's not showing up. All the info is there when I edit and I've tried playing around with it. I have no clue what's going on. I'll try to get it fixed, though.

I'm thankful for...

My kids are all happily playing together in the yard. It's a nice warmish day. Yummy food and the Macy's parade are just days away. Dh has TWO days off for Thanksgiving (the first time EVER). Obama won the election. Ann Coulter's jaw has been wired shut. Does it get any better than this?

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Economy Sucks. My Mom Suffers.

My mother has lost her job. My 72-year-old mother who has been at her current place of employment for thirty years has lost her job. What meager retirement she had left was wiped out by the current stock market situation.

My mother has been working since she was 9. She was left back several times in school because she missed so many days in order to work to help support her family (her father was an alcoholic and my mother was the eldest of 4 children). She never attended high school. When she was 16, she dropped out of school (due to being left back, she wasn't even in high school at that time) so that she could work full-time.

She's had a string of bad luck with the companies for which she has worked in the past. Several of them have gone out of business leaving her with worthless retirement stocks invested in those companies (or their poorly run parent companies).

Her current company tried to find a buyer, but with no luck. They announced last week that they would close by the end of the year.

My mother saw it coming. She and my father have been paying off debts and making plans to sell the house, move out of state, and buy a much smaller home. They will be selling the home where I grew up. This is the home where my father grew up. This is the home where four generations of my family have lived. When you look in the back of my high school yearbook, under my name, you'll find the exact same address listed under my father's name in his yearbook 37 years prior.

My mother has surgery scheduled for January. She refuses to use state aid for medical care because she insists she wants to reserve that for those who need it. We have yet to see if her current insurance (offered through her work) will still be available. This is my mother, who went for her six week postpartum visit after my birth and didn't go back to another doctor until I was twenty. She is most definitely not a hypochondriac. This is absolutely necessary surgery. I don't know if she'll be able to afford it when the time comes.

I can't quite wrap my head around it. I just can't believe it. We survived so much. I remember, as a small child, hearing my parents talk about selling the house when the economy wasn't so strong. I also remember the wake of the Clinton administration when their house was appraised at a value so high it shocked us. Now, though, they can fight no longer. They can't afford to weather this storm. And so, the house will pass to strangers' hands (at a fraction of the actual value) and my elderly parents will be forced to start over amid the uncertainty.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Say what?

I just heard these words come out of my mouth:

"Dog, you can stop barking now. The Mormons are gone."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Amy Winehouse has nothing on this guy.

in Yiddish
This guy cracks me up.

I notice there's no Yiddish for "Rehab."

Eat your heart out, Amy Winehouse.

One of the most useful toys ever

I first read about the Bilibo at a random parenting blog last year. I apologize for not posting a link (I do like to give credit where it's due), but honestly, I can't remember where I found it exactly.

I was then (as I am now) specifically requesting that the kids not be given plastic toys. That, however, was our one exception. We bought one for the kids last Chanukah and they haven't stopped playing with it.

I would describe it as a plastic turtle shell, but to my kids, it has been a skate park for dolls, a hill for cars, a spinning ride (a favorite), a chair, a stroller, a shopping cart, a stool, a rocking chair and a mask just to name a few.

When you first look at that thing, you wonder what in the world it is. A local museum has a few in their children's section. My kids' immediate reaction was the same, "Cool. They have bilibos." As they run towards them, throw themselves inside and begin spinning and/or rocking. I've watched other parents as they picked the unusual shapes up and looked them over, obviously confused. I heard one woman say, "Well, I guess it's supposed to be some sort of chair." Oh, lady, you have no idea.

Now, no one is paying me to post this. I don't have a sponsor or anything of that sort. I just figured that with all these mom blogs with their huge wish-lists, I should join in and share what works for us. The Bilibo was a huge hit last year. I'm considering getting at least one more for this Chanukah. Although, Amazon seems to have the best prices. Keep an eye out, but last year, we found the best deal there.

What about you? What have you bought or made your kids recently that they just loved? What about the heartbreak of watching them ignore what you thought was the perfect gifts? What did they just push aside? I'm trying to create a wishlist for the children and I'm very interested in what other parents have had success with (and what items they regret).

My apologies for continuing to bore you with the update details.

I found two more updates on the situation this morning. One was an automatic order confirmation from the store. The other was an automatic e-mail from UPS complete with tracking order and when I can expect the delivery.

Am I the only one who still finds it strange that I never received the initial tracking number I requested or any information on when it was initially sent?

I'm very thankful that the prize was shipped. If it was sent for the second time, then they have gone above and beyond and I appreciate that. As I've said, I hoped they would, but all I expected them to do was to answer my e-mail and maybe throw in a coupon because that's always a good PR idea.

When this thing arrives, you can be certain that I will shower you all with lots of pictures. I imagine my kids will make me. They've been really excited about the M&D cutting food ever since I won it back in August. This time, I'm not going to tell them it's on the way to eliminate the whole fiasco that happened in August and September every single time the mail came or we found packages on the porch. Here's hoping that I can bore you all with a post full of toy pictures very soon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Baffling giveaways revisited

I guess there is a bit of an update. I just got this e-mail from the company sent at 10:29 pm Eastern/Standard time:

Dear Ms. Removed
We wish to welcome you to Princess Time Toys.

Congratulations! To make your next visit to our online shop a more rewarding experience, listed below are details for a Discount Coupon created just for you!

Enjoy 10% off your entire order.\ No minimum purchase necesessary.

To use the Discount Coupon, enter the Redemption Code code during checkout: REMOVED

The coupon is valid between 07/17/2008 and 07/17/2018

This leaves me baffled. If the initial exchange had been worded a bit more politely, had addressed my question and had included a coupon offer at the time, this would have made a world of difference. Now, though, it just seems strange. It also came in a random "Welcome to our company" e-mail rather than a reply to my e-mail. I have yet to receive a tracking number or any specific information about when the package was shipped.

Yes, the spelling mistake with necessary was actually in the message. I did not change that.

I'm still suspicious and bothered. I'll forward my last e-mail to a new e-mail address found in that e-mail and see what happens.

I salute those companies that give.

This whole giveaway thing made me think about those companies that make donations of any sort. Many do it because it makes them look good and gets them some publicity (which is very cheap compared to the current advertising rates). There are some who do it simply because it's the right thing. To those, I want to say a hearty, "Thank you."

In and outside the corporate world, I've been involved with a number of fundraisers where I sought donations from various companies large and small. Some ignore you. Some give something slight. Others bend over backwards to help. Typically, those are the smaller companies. Those are the companies I remember. Those are the companies I frequent.

Today, on the news, I saw a story of an man who spent a year in Iraq with the Army National Guard. His employer not only promised him his job upon his return (which is required, but some companies find ways around this), but continued to send his full pay to his family even in his absence. This was a small local company, not a huge corporation rolling in income. The owner didn't have to do that, but he did because he said he felt it was the right thing to do.

So to all of you out there who do the right thing, thank you.

Bad news giveaway update

First off, there really isn't anything to update. I wrote to them on the 16th once again asking for the tracking info, but have yet to hear back.

Although, I do want to point out that I've had much better luck with the other giveaways I've won. Sarah mentioned that I won a build-a-bear gift certificate on her blog. That really was perfect. My oldest sister just told me last week that she and my niece made three bears for the kids. I've never actually bought a Build-A-Bear before because of the expense (although my in-laws did take the girls to make a knock-off one when they were smaller). Now, we can use that gift certificate plus another $15 one that I've had lying around forever to buy new outfits for their new bears. It's perfect because that can be one of their gifts for Chanukah. We LOVE looking at the pretty clothes at the Build-A-Bear shoppe, so they're going to have a blast picking out outfits. Money is tight right now, so to be able to have a gift ready to go that cost us nothing is wonderful. Many thanks are extended to Sarah. To give credit where it's due, I should point out that Sarah's giveaway was what inspired me to go hunting for toys past and evaluate what is and is not important in a play thing.

Every other giveaway has worked out wonderfully. Occasionally, there's a delay, but that's cokmpletely understandable. Some of them have just been for cute or fun things. Some have really saved me some money. I can't find the links right now, but we've won a DVD (which we gave the girls as one of their birthday gifts at a time when we REALLY had very little to spend); we've won 4 shirts for TheBoy at places where I never would have shopped ordinarily, but the quality has really been astounding on some of them; books (a favorite around here); a gender neutral organic baby outfit (talk about perfect timing); bath and body stuff and some other things. The giveaways have been a huge money and sanity saver for us. I love checking my mail to see if I've won anything. :-)

I'm just annoyed at the way I'm being treated by this particular company, particulary at this time of the year. Thus far, there has been no change in the situation.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Giveaways that don't appear and things that make you go, "Hmmm..."

Back in August, I won a giveaway at Crunchy Green Mom. When a month passed the prize never arrived, I wrote to the Crunchy Green mom to ask what happened. She looked into it and about a week later, asked if I had received it. I hadn't.

My kids knew we won that prize and every day, when I went for the mail, they asked if it had arrived. When we went to the store and they saw Melissa and Doug products or any food-themed toy, they asked where their cutting food was. I had no idea. Was it lost in the mail? Was it never sent? Had they lost my address? What was going on?

Fast forward to November--three months later. I tried contacting the Crunchy Green Mom again and got no response. So I wrote directly to Princess Time Toys who sponsored the giveaway. I asked if it was sent and if so, when and what the tracking number was. I was very polite and brief in my message. I accused them of nothing and made no demands other than asking for the tracking number if the package had been shipped.

I got this reply this evening:

The prize was sent and my apologies if it was lost in the mail. We won't be
able to send a replacement.


Connie Ott, Owner
My Jewel Boutique, Princess Time Toys & Avon Representative
People * Pets * Home

Hmm... Let's look at this, in part from the perspective of a mom and in part from the perspective of someone who was once the head of Public Relations.

#1 (from the mom). I specifically asked for a tracking number and when the package was sent. I can fill out a missing form at the post office if they'd just answer my questions. They didn't tell me any information about when the package was shipped. I find that odd.

#2. I find it odd that they insisted right away that they couldn't send a replacement. I never requested they do so. Yet the entire text of their message is essentially, "We sent it. We won't send another."

#3 (from the PR person). It's the holiday season. You sell toys. I'm a mother. Studies have shown that someone who has a bad experience will tell 10-12 people about that. Here we have a chance to save face and maybe increase your customer base. They have a chance not only to be a bit more polite, but also to possibly get positive publicity simply by making a little extra effort.

Honestly, if they had, it probably would have prompted me to buy some gifts from them. We have tons of other kids in the family who live far away. It's much easier to order gifts for them from a website rather than making it and shipping it or buying it in person and going through the effort of attacking the post office during the holiday season. The set I won cost a whopping $20. I would have spent much more than that.

I wrote back again requesting tracking information. If the situation changes, I will update you. I'm holding out hope that they will do the right thing (and right now, that's really just providing me with the answers requested), but we shall see.

Until then, I'm going to advise that anyone considering using that store proceed with caution. I find their response suspicious.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Veterans' Day yet again

As it always does, Veterans' Day has come and gone. This year, for the first time, I didn't write about it here. Even now, I have nothing much to say, but I feel as though I have to acknowledge it.

Here's last year's post, which really just linked you back to the post from the year before.

Somehow, dh's long deployments always revolved around Veterans Day in some way (he either left or returned just before it).

Just for the hell of it, I'll include some veteran-related rants from posts past:

Depressed (Phony Soldiers)

Roy Zimmerman says it quite well (Thanks for the Support).

Support Our Troops

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's a bird. It's a plane. It's my family.

In my family, there's a big love of super heroes. My husband loves them. My brother loves them. My children love them.

So I shouldn't have been surprised when my children related to current events via the Superman films.

Much fuss was made over CNN's recent use of holograms during the election coverage. This lead the bigger kids to ask, "What are holograms?" Dh and I explained that it's when it appears that someone is in one place, but they're really in another.

To which Girl2 replied, "Oh, like the bad guys who really weren't in jail in Superman 2."

Yes, exactly like that.

One must be fair to the ears.

This evening, Girl2 made a confession.

You see, when she gets scared, she pulls her blanket up over her head and falls asleep that way. We always know when something's wrong if we check on her and find her burried under Bubbe's afghan.

Well, today, she told me that the whole reason she started pulling the blanket up over hear head was to be fair to her ears. She didn't think it was fair that the ear closest to the pillow was able to bask in the warmth while the other one had to shiver in the cold. And so, she started pulling her blanket up in an attempt at fairness.

I love kids and their reasoning.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Save Straight Marriage

This is from 2004, but I just came across it now and oh boy is it pertinent now.

Connie Rice Commentary: How to Save Straight Marriage

The Tavis Smiley Show, March 2, 2004 · Rice's other proposed laws or constitutional amendments, inspired by President Bush's proposed amendment outlawing gay marriage:

10. Fair Housework & Childcare Act -- Requires married men to do at least half the housework and child rearing duties, or face being charged with a class-C felony.

9. 'Til Death Do Us Part Amendment -- Outlaw divorce. Heterosexuals get divorced at the drop of a hat. It's the 50 percent divorce rate in the United States that’s the mortal threat to marriage, not gays and lesbians.

8. Scarlet Letter Amendment -- All divorced persons will have a scarlet "D" tattooed on their foreheads, which can be removed only upon permanent re-marriage to their original spouse.

7. Serial Marriage Crime Act -- Divorced persons who remarry and fail to stay married are subject to the category 63 mandatory minimum sentencing guideline: life in prison.

6. Gold Digger Prevention Act (AKA the "Bling-Bling Ban") -- All women selecting husbands solely by an accumulated assets index shall forfeit all claim to their mates' wealth and be forced to take a vow of poverty.

5. In-Law Limitation Act -- In-laws can only visit their heterosexually married children once a year.

4. Mistress and Intern Prohibition Act (AKA the Condit, Clinton, Gingrich, Hyde and Livingston Act) -- Do what the Seventh Commandment says. You want to promote the sanctity of marriage? Outlaw extramarital affairs. Also, no members of Congress who have had flings can vote on this act when it comes to a vote -- it'll be a short roll call.

3. Marital Security Act -- Put LoJack locator devices or electronic bracelets on all husbands who travel to play basketball, attend other business meetings or just leave the house on weekends.

2. Desecration of Marriage Act (AKA the Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Jimmy Swaggert Prevention Act) -- All heterosexual persons who make a mockery of marriage with absurd behavior shall be subject to mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for category 37: 30 years imprisonment.

1. Leave No Child Unborn Act -- To encourage the real purpose of marriage -- which according to President Bush is to provide stability for raising children -- birth control will be outlawed for married couples, who henceforth will be required to produce progeny within the first five years of marriage... or explain to Karl Rove why there's no children.


Procreation Facilitation Act -- All married mens' prescriptions for Viagra will be tax deductible.

Friday, November 07, 2008

What did I just say about not overdoing it?

I just came across a site that has super cute crocheted baby booties. Should anyone feel compelled to get the new kid a gift, feel free to consider these. If you are some of my lucky friends who actually can knit/crochet and can figure out how to make these on your own, then rock on with your bad-ass selves. I wish I was you.

Best of Chums Taxi Cab Crocheted Booties (my favorites)

Best of Chums Basketball Crochet Booties

Unicorn Crochet Booties

Hippo Crochet Booties (Hippos? How cute is that?)

Monkey Crochet Booties

Pirate Crochet Booties (these are adorable)

Blast from the past: the gift edition

I found a giveaway on another blog where the question posed was, "What was your favorite gift as a child?"

The gift that came to mind was a Strawberry Shortcake kitchen set I got around 1982. It was really just heavy cardboard, but it lasted forever and oh boy did I use it.

I didn't ask for that kitchen. I didn't even know it existed. But oh boy did I love that thing.

So, I went on a quest. Google directed me here where there is a picture of a portion of the exact set. Look at the difference between that and the annoying plastic sets today that include all sorts of sounds and lights and which will never decompose in the landfills. I loved my basic boring kitchen. I didn't need beeping or blinking. And you know what? I'm sure my set has broken down by now.

With the holidays approaching and my desire to resist overdoing it, I've been on a quest for some ideas for making gifts. I did that last year and loved it. The kids did too. So we'll do the same thing this year. My schlep through my childhood and my fond memories for such a simple toy just cemented that.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thursday Thirteen: Halloween Candy

Thirteen Things to do with Halloween Candy

1.... Eat all the chocolate when the kids aren't looking.

2....Save the maltballs 'cause you don't really like them, but when all the other chocolate is gone, eat them too.

3....Let the kids have a few lollipops (suckers to some of you) and Starbursts.

4....Search through the bags again in an attempt to find any hidden chocolate. If you find some, see #1. If not, move along.

5....Pick up the Almond Joy, consider it, then put it back down and decide it's not worth it.

6....Repeat #5 at least two more times.

7....Use the bag of candy as a threat when the kids don't clean up.

8....Let them have some runts and that Hannah Montana candy bracelet.

9....Stash a few lollipops in your purse/diaper bag for a rainy day (or a cranky child).

10...Repeat #4.

11...Open every single pack of Starburst in an attempt to find pink (or your particular favorite).

12...Wind up with only 2 pinks (which you eat) and a huge pile of red and yellow Starbursts (which you hate). Build a wall with them. Stack them up to form various farm animals. Then give up and put them back in the bag for the kids.

13...Donate everything else to care packages for our troops overseas and stay far away from the scale for a few days.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Peace? Yes we can!

Robin has a fabulous post on peace and what we must do to achieve it. Go read it.

Personally, I've never bought the idea of a Moshiach who will come and rescue us. I tend to believe the idea of Tikkun Olam. I do believe in Moshaich, but I believe he/she will come when we work together to repair the world. He/she will work WITH us, not in spite of us. And no, I'm not in any way insisting that Barack Obama is a messiah. @@

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yes we did!

I voted. Some of my family members voted for the first time.

Obama is the projected winner.

I have no words other than YES WE DID and squeals of delight.

Now, please, oh please, let's take our world back in a positive direction.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Another literal video to make you laugh

I posted Aha previously, but this one by Tears for Fears cracks me up too.

I just found that there's a Red Hot Chili Peppers one as well.

You can thank me later. :-)

Has modern technology left you completely useless?

It all started back in high school when we were required to use graphing calculators for higher level math. I was one who struggled with my multiplication tables in the 3rd grade, but by the start of high school, I impressed even myself with the speed at which I could do math, almost without effort. Then we had to rely on those horrid technological crutches in order to do math that we never saw in the real world. In the process, we all lost our ability to do quick calculations in our heads. I noticed it among all my friends in all different level math classes. To this day, I have not regained that ability nor can I calculate a curve or do anything remotely resembling the calculus I was forced to endure in high school.

Now, our phones have memory options. My home phone lets me use the caller ID to contact a friend who called previously. On my cell phone, all my frequent numbers are assigned a single digit.

Last week, we were out without my phone, so dh took a picture on his phone that I wanted to send to my sister's cell. He asked, "What's her number?" To which, I could only reply, "6." I don't believe I have ever actually dialed her cell phone number other than when I initially entered it in my phone book on my cell.

I have no idea what some of my friends' e-mail addresses are. I type in their name or nickname (and in some cases, I don't even have to type the full name and it will auto fill) and the rest is automatically filled in.

Just now, I grabbed the home phone and sat down to call a friend. Only NOW can I dial her number (which is very simple). She's had it for at least a year. In the past, I just left her on the caller ID and scrolled through to find her.

I have a fabulous memory for random things. I can remember my first grade best friend's phone number (which I just googled and found has been assigned to someone completely different). I can remember birth dates for people I haven't seen in 10 or even 20 years. I can quote statistics off the top of my head. Yet, thanks to the modern marvel of technology, I can't even remember current phone numbers.

Please tell me I'm not alone here.

Fabulous pumpkin carving

Due to over-scheduling, we never got to go to the pumpkin patch this year. We did try to grab some at the grocery store, but they were a mess. So, for the first time in years, we went sans pumpkin this season.

I've been longing for carved pumpkins, so I decided to wander over to google to see what I missed.

This face is absolutely astounding.

AHHHHH. There's a Yoda pattern. I would have used that had I known (or had a pumpkin).

The 2008 entries here are amazing.

These are all neat, but the pumkin Pi and the Packman collection are my favorites.

The Cannibal pumpkin appeals to my dark sense of humor (and it's well-down to boot).

The hamburger bun is a clever idea you don't see every day.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

NSFW: Obama "Toy"

Oh my goodness! This cracked me up and I had to share. You see that warning right there in the subject? This is an adult-themed link.

Head O State

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Bumper sticker

I'm a posting fool this weekend.

Today, I saw a bumper sticker that I ADORE. It read,

G-d bless the whole world, no exceptions.

My husband needs to learn to sign.

There are oh so many reasons why that is the case, but today, I learned one more reason. If he learned to sign, then he wouldn't stare at me blankly when I finger spelled, "WTF."

Although, when I took a break to give him another chance to figure it out, he got the W and the T and he said, "Sometimes, that's all that needs to be said." ;-)

Walmart breeds stupidity.

Dear moron at Wal-Mart,

It is not ever appropriate to PUSH someone else's child. Saying, "Excuse me," and immediately using both hands to shove the child out of the way is never an acceptable behavior. Getting snippy when the mother responds with, "Please don't push my children," is also not appropriate. Insisting you did not touch the child when 4 people saw you do it (3 of them not within the child's family) is also not the best idea.

Who in the world thinks that is appropriate? Dh said that if he had seen it (he was around the corner), he would have restrained the woman. Yeah, now THAT'S a good idea. I really didn't want to make a scene, but she just pushed my child right in front of me. WTF? She didn't even give the kid a chance to move after she said, "Excuse me." She just shoved her.

WTF is wrong with people?