Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Great Customer Service Makes Me Weak In the Knees.

You remember my evil dryer of doom and its path of destruction?

Hopefully, you also remember the joy and wonder that is Lands End. Upon reading about the disaster on twitter and checking out my blog and our family situation, someone from Lands End contacted me and offered to replace that bathing suit with any size and style of my choice. I opted for the Girls' Scrunchback Tankini in the Light Turquoise Butterfly print. It was the closest I could find to the suit that was destroyed and we did so love that suit.

This new one is no exception. It's wonderful. It's the same quick-drying fabric that we loved last year. I was able to get a size bigger so now it will fit next year too. Once again, the fit is amazing. It provides great coverage, but is still a two-piece. I really prefer two pieces for ease of use, but most of them are teeny tiny bikinis and we don't do that. This keeps the child covered, but is very cute and functional. The print is very cute and very vibrant. The kids love it. Girl2 has worn it in the sprinkler every time.

I've always heard good things about Lands End, but they're so expensive. Their sales make them a bit more reasonable, but that's often still beyond what we like to spend. If this is their usual customer service, though (which I hear it is), I'll skimp somewhere else in order to afford to shop there more often.

Just days before this, I had a gift certificate that I used when they offered free shipping and a sale on t-shirts (remember, my "fluffy" postpartum body doesn't fit into most of my pre-pregnancy t-shirts). I bought a few. I found the whites to be a bit too sheer for me, but I loved the the others. Returning the white ones was easy. I just brought them back to Sears so I could save on shipping costs. I got a gift certificate for the amount 3 days later in the mail. I only wish I could have afforded more. They're so comfy and very pretty. I loved that they have the different fits so that I didn't have to guess how it would fit. Their fits (1-3) seemed to be very accurate (I stuck with 2 and 3 for my chubby self).

Lands End knows how it's done. One bathing suit probably wasn't a huge expense, but with that suit & that amazing customer service, they secured my undying love. Not only am I going to buy from them, I'm going to shout it from the roof tops. :-) Yeah, sometimes life hands you lemons and other times it shoots them at you with a grenade launcher, and when that happens, I blog about it, I tweet and I complain my little head off on the phone with friends. But I think it's only fair, that when something wonderful happens (especially when a company goes above and beyond what's necessary for their customers), then I need to be even louder. :-)

Lands End, you rock and for that, I thank you more than you'll ever know.

" I will name him George and I will hug him and squeeze him…and pat him and pet him…and rub him and caress him… and he will be mine, my George"

Parenting books and articles can suck. They can contain out-dated information or just generally piss you off. Every once in a while, though, they can strike a nerve and help you out.

Months ago, I read a brief little article about a mother who hugged and kissed her children often. When they were growing up, a family member pointed it out and wondered if it wasn't weird. The mom assured her it was fine and continued to do so. Now, as adults, her children report that the affection let them know they were loved.

This made me wonder if I hug and kiss my kids enough. I kiss the baby all the time, but the bigger kids, not so much.

Today, after hugging and kissing the baby, I thought about that and went in to do the same for the bigger kids. The hugs and kisses were returned.

Then it occurred to me that I must be doing something right. They didn't recoil. They didn't ask, "What was that for?" So I'm assuming that the fact that the kids accept it so readily as a normal occurrence is a good thing. I don't feel the need to slather them with kisses and suffocate them with affection all day every day. I do, however, want to make an effort to show them they're loved and to make sure that stays a normal part of their lives.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Etsy is my drug of choice.

I LOVE Etsy. I love everything about it. It's a place for crafters and artists to showcase their work. It's a place for shoppers to find handmade goods. It supports the artists directly. It gives consumers options they might not have in their local community. The shopping possibilities are unending and SO COOL. The most unusual (and completely kick-ass) thing I've seen on Etsy is something I have NEVER seen anywhere else. One seller offers a breastmilk pendant. I want one. Hell, I want FOUR--one to pass on to each of the kids.

I have literally spent days on there lately looking at children's clothing. Oh, it is absolutely gorgeous! Lately, I'm having ethical issues (and financial ones as well) with buying clothing from big box stores. Why am I tossing my money at them to add to their already insane amounts of wealth? There are WAHM (work at home moms) struggling to get by. Why not support them instead? Plus, clothing from big box stores tends to be poorly constructed. Yeah, it's cheaper to buy a dress at Wal-Mart, but if it falls apart after the 2nd washing, then I didn't save any money at all. Items on Etsy are typically handmade with care.

While looking at children's clothing today, I convo'ed a seller and she offered me a discount. That's another thing I love, you have the ability to contact the creator directly. Have a question? Ask it. Have a comment? Let them know. Did you kid say something funny/quirky/profound upon seeing an item? You can take a few minutes to let them know.

I wish Etsy had a brick and mortar store because, if they did, I would take my sleeping bag (and a bottle of wine) and move there.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wordless (day after) Wednesday: Getting A Leg Up

The day she was born, the midwife swaddled her and put her to bed with me. We noticed that TheBaby worked her left foot loose. We thought it was cute, but reswaddled her. She did it again.

To this day (3 months later), she insists on getting her left foot out of every swaddle and only then will she go to sleep. I snuck into the room to get that shot while she slept.

It's (the day after) Wordless Wednesday.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

When the going gets tough,
The tough use their van as a dryer.

I absolutely had to do laundry. I do not, however, have a working dryer. Well, my dryer does work if the goal is to have dry clothes. How much is left of those clothes after the evil dryer of doom is done with them, though, is another story.

So, today, I went green. If, by "green," you mean, "out to the driveway." Today, I fashioned a dryer out of my own wits and vehicle.

My makeshift dryer is so awesome and neat (and mobile) that I just had to take a picture (and label it so you have some idea what on earth you're looking at). This is only a small portion of the clothing dried in the new dryer today:

Now, I know you're drooling and wondering what other awesomely amazing new features this dryer has. Check this out. It requires absolutely no electricity; it has not one, but EIGHT interior drum lights; steam care cycle (as I found out when I went out to check and found all the windows fogged); Supersize capacity (I guarantee you've never seen a dryer with a drum this size); NeverRust interior; and even windows so you can watch the fascination that is clothes drying.

Here's a view of just a small portion of the massive interior of this amazing dryer.

Oh the accessory possibilities are unending. Let your awesomely amazing mobile "green" dryer reflect your personality. Does your regular boring old dryer have a hanging hamsa? I thought not.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm living in a zoo.

The whole dryer situation has me a bit overwhelmed right now. The washer and dryer aren't a luxury for us. They really are a necessity. We have 4 kids & 4 pets. We need a working washer and dryer.

I mentioned the 4 pets on twitter and that was a smack in the face. FOUR pets? When in the world did my house turn into a zoo? Well, one could argue that it always was.

When I remember how each of our fuzzy children found us, it doesn't seem quite so overwhelming. When you shove them all together and count them, though, yeah, that'll shock ya. That will probably injure you too since they don't get along together in a group setting. Yeah, that's putting it mildly.

Cat1 & Funnel Face were shelter rescues. We were newly married when we adopted Cat1 as a companion for a cat I brought into the marriage (who was the most wonderful pet in the world and has since passed away). Problem was, MyCat hated Cat1 with a passion. So, for dh's birthday the following year, we adopted teeny tiny Funnel Face as a companion for Cat1. They got along wonderfully.

Okay 2 cats. That's not bad. 2 cats isn't an insane number of animals.

Then we adopted a dog. The Nutless Wonder is a consequence of the "war" in Iraq. He was about 6 months old when his owner (a friend of dh's) was sent to Iraq. Unable to care for the dog, he gave him to us. This dog has given our family the gift of countless hours (and therefore posts) of funny dog-related comments.

2 cats and a dog is starting to be a bit much, but still within reason, isn't it? Particularly given the manner in which said dog found his way to our family.

The 4th addition to our family is PresidentCat. He is my sister's fault. Her husband drove home from work one evening and heard a baby crying. After some searching, they found that baby was actually an approximately 4 week old kitten that had ridden home in his engine. How he survived, I know not. Upon washing off the filth, my sister found the kitten looked similar to the then departed MyCat. The sister played foster mom for a short while and then he came to live with us. He is not my cat. He is my daughters' cat. He adores them and only them. He tollerates the rest of us.

When you look at them each individually and see how they came to us, it seems bearable. When you look at them en mass, though (and the havok they wreak in the process), it's almost enough to make you run screaming. Then again, maybe that's just me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The not so wordless Wordless Wednesday: The evil dryer from hell

6/17 UPDATE: No new washer/dryer for me. Home Depot made it absolutely impossible to change the order, so I had to cancel the whole thing. No new washer/dryer. Oh hell. Now what?

If you follow me on twitter, you've read my endless string of complaints about my evil dryer from hell (yes, that is it's technical name and it must be referred to as such at all times).

The last straw was when it ate an entire load of clothes. Each t-shirt had about 20 scorch marks/holes. I have a postpartum body and not many clothes into which I currently fit. I have very little spending money. I have no patience for this. I can't deal with this.

The evidence of the evilness of the aforementioned evil dryer from hell is presented below.

Oh dryer, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways (and holes and scorch marks).

2 holes and 1 and 1/2 scorch marks.

3 holes and a scorch mark

3 holes (there's a small one on the far left plus the big one and smaller one on the right) and 2 scorch marks (the one on the left is difficult to see).

3 holes

1 hole

1 scorch mark and 1 hole

That last one is my daughters' dearly beloved Lands End bathing suit. I was very upset over that. It's by far our favorite bathing suit, but we can't afford to replace it right now. Well, the WONDERFUL people at Lands End read my tweet wherein I mourned the bathing suit (and two companions). They contacted me and offered to replace it. AHHHHHHHHHHHH. I could kiss every single person at that company.

My mother offered to buy us a new dryer AND a new washer as an anniversary gift (while it's true the dryer recently started sounding like an epileptic robot was trapped inside, the washing machine has done a wonderful imitation of a helicopter for months. When my midwife washed our towels and sheets after TheBaby's birth, the noises emanating from the washing machine scared the hell out of her. "Are you sure that's okay? Are you REALLY sure? That sounds bad.") . Yes, this is the same mother who has been out of work for 6 months. The new NOT evil washer/dryer from mom will be delivered on Monday.

Yeah, my Wordless Wednesday wasn't so wordless. Whoops.

Again, 6/17 UPDATE: We are NOT getting a new washer/dryer.

I'll stop the world and melt with you.

I'm going to post some frivolous things, but before I do, I have to point out that my thoughts, my prayers, and my heart are still with my friend at this awful time. I don't want anyone to think that I'm being flippant by continuing to post about mundane things. That baby has touched my heart and my soul and I will never be the same. She is gone, but will never be forgotten.

I'm trying to be here for my friend as best I can. If I could stop my world to wait for her, I would.

I'm going to resume posting, but not because we're "Moving on." I'm doing it as a distraction.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Moment of silence

A friend of mine has lost a baby. I can't write. I don't feel up to bitching about little trivial things. Instead, I'm taking a moment of silence in honor of her baby.

Please send prayers and good thoughts her way.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Home is...

This post is written in response to Twitter Moms' Away We Go Contest: Tell Us What Home Means To You and Get Prizes!

We were, until fairly recently, a military family. We have been moved around. Some of our things still have moving ID stickers from 2 moves ago. We have been dropped in areas where we have no family. We have had to split up our family for deployments and training. We have had to create our own definition of home.

Before dh and I married, home was the same house where I and 3 other generations of my family lived. If you look in my father's high school year book (the same high school I attended), you see the same address listed under his name as you find in the back of mine 37 years later. Home was the same town and house in which I had always lived and I had deep roots there (literally).

I had a difficult time feeling at home anywhere once I left that house. We moved into an apartment when we were first married and I liked it, but it wasn't home. It was exciting when we rented our first house, but I was never comfortable there. When the military moved us, that was the most awkward of all.

Before we had children, when my husband was away & we didn't know where the military would send us next, my husband told his friends, "Home is where the wife is."

We had children, the "War" started, and my husband left. He eventually came home to much older children who could do so much more than when he left. He came home to a house completely redecorated. He came home. He would leave again for training and not too long after, he left for yet another deployment. Each time, he was welcomed home.

Right now, "Home," for us is our house with our family. Home is the bedroom where our youngest daughter was born. Home is where our children took their first steps. Home is where we cuddle under the blankets and listen to the rain fall.

But take away this house and we know we'll still be able to find home. As a child, "Home," was that house. As an adult, a mother, and a military wife, I've come to realize that home is not always one specific place. Home is a feeling of comfort, familiarity and safety.

"Where we love is home--home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts."-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

I've got all my sisters and me,
but unfortunately, it appears one of us missed out on the common sense train.

For those keeping score:
Sister Sunshine: 3. Common Sense: 0

Yes, oh yes. I got ANOTHER theft or a religious idol in an attempt to gain wealth.

Oh yes. We've been here before.
Submitted for approval of the midnight society are exhibits one and two.

This e-mail contains a picture of the "Sacred Angel," (let me remind you, yet again: Me-Jewish. Sister Sunshine-Atheist) and promises

"If you have passed it on, your wish will come
True and money will come your way shortly. "

FTR, "Money" is highlighted in red in the forward. I didn't do that just to point out that, once again, we have an e-mail that bastardizes a figure from someone else's religion in the hopes of monetary gain.

I hope your wish isn't to keep your friends because forwarding crap like this will make them run screaming from you. I'm related to Sister Sunshine, so I don't have that luxury.

The chain mail urges you to

Send this to all your good friends online to show them
You are friends.

Sending this to all your good friends will not show them you are friends. It will show them that you are an asshole.

If you get this back from:
1 person - you are lonely
2 people - you have a couple friends, but not many
3 people - you have a few friends...
4 people - you have some friends...
5 people - you have several friends!!
6 people - you have many friends! !!
7 people - you are SOOOO loved!!!
Remember, no man or woman is a failure who has a friend!

You are, however, a failure, if you continue yanking the chain and send this thing on it's horridly lonely quest to Spamalot. If you get this back from 7 people, it's not proof that you are "SOOOO loved." It's proof that you are friends with idiots.

If I could sit on the porch with G-d, the first thing I would do is thank him for you....
Author unknown

If I could sit across the porch (from) you, I'd smack you and tell you to cut it out with the freaking chain letters already!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Lullaby and good night
GO TO SLEEP little baby.

The yellow brick road in SwaddleBlanketLand has lead me to the Miracle Blanket. I really wanted more information on the Puckababy, but I wasn't able to find any reviews online. I found that they have a twitter account (I found them when they sent me an @reply on twitter), but I can't find one single review of the product anywhere. I asked on twitter and got no responses (not even from the Puckababy twitter account).

So, I gave up and instead, turned my ruby slippers towards the Miracle Blanket. It arrived today (THANK YOU, G-D) and I have the baby in it now (she's asleep). I want to try it for a week and see what I think.

My initial review is that it seems a bit cumbersome, but I think it will solve my problems. It has fabric flaps that hold the arms down. Baby Houdini easily got her arms out of the Swaddle-Me blanket no matter what we tried, so here's hoping those flaps help. It looks like they will. I was afraid TheBaby would feel too restricted that way, but she smiled at me after I wrapped her arms up. The bottom is quite a bit larger than the Kiddopotamus blanket we were using. That was the other issue--she was too tall for the other blanket. This addresses both of our big issues, so here's hoping TheBaby sleeps soundly tonight (me too, please).

Of course, after I bought the blanket, I found that Dealiciousmom has a Miracle Blanket giveaway. Figures! I entered anyway. It seems like a great baby gift and lots of people are pregnant right now. Thanks to that link, I found a video I can watch to be sure I used it correctly. It's simple enough, but it is a bit more complicated than the Swaddle-Me.

I'll give you an update in the morning. Keep your fingers crossed.

Book Review: Obama: The Historic Journey Young Reader's Edition

Thanks to Mother Talk, I received a copy of Obama: The Historic Journey. It's 96 pages of information and wonderful pictures for young readers (9-12 years old).

It was a bit "old" for my biggest kids (2nd grade), but I read it to them at night and they ate it up. They asked for this book repeatedly at bed time. Even tonight, when I grabbed it to write my review, they asked me to read it again.

I cannot tell you how amazing the photographs are. The most recent ones from the election are gorgeous. The front and back inside covers have wonderful collages of pictures as well. Many of them, I've never seen before, so they weren't the same old recycled ones the kids have seen over and over again. These are so bright and crisp and really lend quite a bit to the story.

I must say, there were some photographs with which I was disappointed. My daughters are fascinated by President Obama's family. They specifically wanted to see pictures of his sister Maya. There are no clear pictures of her. In his family tree, they use a photo of her, but she appears to be blowing a kiss, so her face is blocked. There are no pictures from President Obama's father's side of the family. The other photographs were so wonderful and unique. We just wish that could have been the case for every one.

It was so interesting to learn more about President Obama and his family. Did you know his mother's name was Stanley because her father wanted a boy? She later went by her middle name. I didn't know that until we read "Chapter 1 A Skinny Kid With A Funny Name." My daughters loved that little tidbit too. They also loved the two-page spread on pages 68 and 69 which listed some more information on the President. We looked at the great candid photos and we read about his shoe size, his exact height (down to the 1/2 inch), his favorite movies, food and hobbies.

The book gets far more in depth than I expected for a book geared towards children. There was quite a bit of coverage given to President Obama's political career and particularly the recent election. Personally, I skipped some because it was a bit too much for my kids, but it's something I know we'll go back to when they're older. Although, even when it was over their heads, they were still able to take a lot away from the book.

Quotations from President Obama were scattered throughout the book. I LOVED that. I'm not sure the kids appreciated it much (When I stopped to read one, I'd hear"Yeah, but what happened next?"), but I certainly did. I read them all and found them absolutely fascinating.

One of the most unexpected things (and my daughters' favorite) was at the end. There, you'll find a section titled "Dear Sir Obama: Presidential Advice." It's an excerpt from "Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country: Kids' Letters to President Obama." There, we poured over letters and portraits by children. I think it's the perfect ending.

This is a book and a keepsake. What a wonderful way to explore this amazing time in history with your children! This is the type of book that also serves as a fantastic keepsake. How neat will it be for my daughters to show their children this book in the future!

Obama: The Historic Journey (Young Reader’s Edition)