Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A day that started out on a downward spiral.

There is a reason doctor's tell you to get a good night's sleep. Without it you are ill prepared to deal with the unniceties of life, and sometimes even the niceties. Last night Madison slept okay, not great, but okay. I, on the other hand, woke up every time she made a noise. By 6 am I gave up, rolled myself out of bed and into the shower. Good news: I got a shower. Bad news: Didn't exactly follow doctor's orders. I doubt I even made it to REM sleep. So before my day even began, I was already on my way downhill.

I had one thing on my agenda for the day, just one...go to the OB for my six week post partum check up. Now I scheduled the appointment weeks ago and thought I was planning well by choosing a day Owen would be in school, only Owen doesn't have school this week. But that's okay, I can handle three kids in a doctor's office. I mean, it's not like it will be a long visit and as long as I pack snacks and activities, we'll be cool right? Insert awkward laugh.

Things were good until about 9:30. This is when I start packing the bags, strapping in the baby, getting on coats, and warming up the car. But wait, where are those darn car keys? It's not abnormal for me to not know what I did with the car keys, but they're normally in one of two places. Problem was that I didn't drive the car last. No problem, I'll just call Neil and ask him what he did with them. Houston now we have a problem. Neil couldn't remember. He'd seen Blake playing with them, but after that came a blank. Hhhmm, can you sense what was happening to my blood pressure at that moment? I was furious. I looked everywhere I thought Blake might have put them, under chairs, inside toy baskets, in the keys. I even asked the boys to help me look which produced jack. Finally I get Neil's spare truck key and hold it up to Blake and tell him to find my keys. I felt like a cop telling his K9 to sniff out some drugs. Just then Owen says, "Mommy, Mommy, you're keys are downstairs." Paying little attention to Owen (who says things like that all the time), I turned my eyes back to Blake who had found something more interesting to look for in the toilet.

Keep in mind that this whole time Madison has been strapped into car seat and now is becoming impatient, and I am running out of time. I hear Owen yelling something from downstairs, so I go check it out, and there he is standing at the bottom of the stairs with my keys in his hand. "Owen, where did you find those?"

"Oh, in Mat's room." He said it like it was a matter of fact, no big deal. I grabbed the keys, threw the kids in the car, and headed off to the doctor's office. I wish my story ended there with a happy ending, but it was about to get worse.

I arrived in the parking lot of the Kaiser center about 7 minutes late. Once you're 15 minutes late, you lose your appointment, but it's cool, I can get up there in 8 minutes. And I would have too if the stroller was set up for the infant seat holder and not the snack tray. I'll let you figure out for yourself who left it on there. So I'm standing in the parking lot trying desperately to get the snack tray off. It's one of those things where you have to push the botton in and slide it over to release. Only it's plastic and it's cold, making it extremely difficult to manuever. My thumb is bleeding (it was already cracked from dry skin) and time is ticking. Finally I toss the attachment into the stroller, pick up the car seat in one arm and push the stroller with the other one. I can feel the judgement all around me. What? It's not like I'm the Octomom.

When I checked in I was 20 minutes late. The receptionist said that they would still see me which made me happy. She failed to tell me that they were basically going to try and squeeze me in between appointments. Yeah chica, I have three kids under 4. How long do you think they are going to hold up? Well I'll tell you how long...30 minutes. With Madison screaming, Blake fussing, and Owen disobeying, I was done. All I could do was reschedule (for a time when I knew Owen would be in school) and leave. I didn't even make it to the car before the tears began to flow. I felt like such a failure. One thing on my to-do list and I couldn't even accomplish that. It made me want to throw my weight watchers points out the window and drown my sorrows in Five Guys. Good thing I was crying too hard to stop, plus I knew Madison needed to eat. So home we went.

The rest of the day has been eeh, not great, but not horrible either. I was going to say that I hope I get in some good quiet time while the kids nap, but since Blake just woke up, that doesn't look like it is going to happen. These are the days I wish I had a nanny. How are you supposed to sleep when the kids sleep if none of them sleep at the same time? Seems like futile advice when you have more than one kid.

What the moral of the story, you ask? There isn't one. Sometimes you just have one of those days where everything goes wrong. Today was one of those days.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Join Me in a New War

Okay so I'm sure we've all noticed the downward spiral of customer service in the past few years, but now it just seems to be getting to the point of ridiculous. Have we become so numb that we just roll over and take it. Are our expectations so low that the stores meet them every time? Balogna! I think it's about time we stand up and demand a certain level of civility from the companies we CHOOSE to spend our hard earned money.

I think we should reward those who get it right, and bring to light those that are a bunch of slackers. Case in point: today I would like to highlight two recent experiences I've had, one bad and one good.

The Bad: Yesterday Clare was so kind as to stay with my kids so I could run up to Safeway (on Rt. 40 in Catonsville) to pick up a few things. I was rushing a little more than normal because I knew she was waiting for me. It took me about 30-45 minutes to load up my cart, but when I headed for the check out I was quickly overwhelmed by the long lines. They had 2 express lanes open (only one with a light on) and 2 regular lines open (again only one with a line open). It almost felt like we were being herded like cattle (being led to slaughter). I could feel my blood begin to boil. It wasn't even a peak time. The cashier began ringing up my items over 30 minutes after I first entered a line. Everyone could tell that was not excited to be there. There was no greeting, no friendly smile. Heck, she didn't even ask if I had a Safeway card. She simply rang up my items. I made a comment about the wait and she made no response at all. She did her job (granted not well), I paid, and was about to leave when I realized that I wasn't doing anyone a favor by leaving angry.

Turning my cart around I rolled on over to customer service and asked the store manager for a comment card. I could tell he was frustrated by my request, and when I explained my disappointment, his response was, "uh well the times are hard on us all. My hands are tied." Luckily for him I kept my cool. I get that the economy sucks right now. Everybody gets that because no one will let you forget it. So is that the excuse now? We don't get good customer service because the economy is bad. Here's my advice Safeway...figure out a way to keep your customer's happy now because we still have a choice and right now, I choose to go to Super Fresh or Shoppers or any other store that treats me with respect and courtesy. You'd think that in times like these, companies would be bending over backwards to make you happy.

The Good: You all know about camp, right? Well this is the time of year that we're not only bringing in money, but we're also spending it. Last week I went in search of a stamp with our camp logo on it. I browsed several sites, and chose to get quotes for three. One I never heard back from. One sent me a response that was generic and really didn't answer my question. The last one (who was actually the first to respond) emailed me the next morning and let me know that he could make the stamp, but the way our logo was set up it wouldn't come out very well. He even went through the trouble of inverting the colors in the artwork so he could present us with a quality product. Steve at gave me what I would consider great customer service. I didn't even have to entertain the other company's quote because I knew I had found someone that would treat me right.

The stamp arrived this morning and it's just what I wanted, and the price wasn't too shabby either. I was actually surprised at the low price. Considering some of my research I figured we were talking $50-60, not $30. So if you are in need of any kind of stamp I highly recommend

So there ya go folks. I encourage you to share your war stories as well. Don't leave a store angry, fill out a comment card, talk to manager, send an email. Let's declare war on poor customer service.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Not the Gassy Kind

Newborns really aren't too exciting. Honestly, all they do is sleep, eat, poop, cry, and pass gas. And Madison has masted all of those, even the sleeping (most of the time), but especially the gas. In fact when she was born she actually had stinky gas. Every once in a while, in a particularly gassy moment, she would smile. Not sure if it was because she was proud of her gaseous feat or just a reflex planted into her DNA, but last night she was smiling...for real smiling.

It's contagious, you know? When you see a baby smiling, you just can't help but melt into a gooey rendition of oohs and aahs and silly faces. I'm pretty sure we had an in depth conversation without saying a word, a connection beyond the boob, beyond the meeting of a need. This was truly the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Bloggable Moment

I wish I had a picture, or better yet a video, of this moment because it was absolutely priceless. I'm pretty sure if we did have a video that it would win the grand prize on America's Funniest Home Videos.

So we're at CFA (Chick-Fil-A for people like Jerry who don't know) for Kid's Night. We go every Tuesday night. Clare and Mat had a meeting so we watched little Reese (who tells me she is going to marry Owen someday) while they were gone. Neil's parents (Nana & Papa) were with us and Tim and Joyce met us there as well. Reese and Papa had been playing hard in the playplace with Owen, Blake and Nana and were taking a break so Reese could take a few gulps of milk and a bite of chicken nugget.

Neil looks over and says "Reese you are so much more well-behaved when you're mom isn't around." Literally two seconds later Reese is holding up her middle finger. Any onlooker would have wondered what her mother was teaching her. It even took me a second to see the piece of food on the tip of her middle finger. The three year old was simply showing us what was on her finger and not telling Neil off for his observation. Joyce and I had to turn away to control our laughter and not further encourage the behavior. I could just see her going home and showing Clare what she learned to do at Kid's Night with Aunt Hillary and Neil. Needless to say it was a bloggable moment.

Time to go pick Owen up from school. Until next time...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Have You Lost a Shoe?

So Tim the Magnificent (AKA The Pennington Pond Boy) took care of our minivan for three days this past week at the Chrysler dealership. He fixed a few warranty issues, hooked us up with a couple new tires and some new brakes...but we didn't expect to find an added bonus when it came back to us last night.

Neil comes in this morning with a lone black shoe and asks if it's mine. "Not so much. What about your girlfriend? Nah, she probably wears a size 7 or something petite like that." (Disclaimer: this is not "Big Love." Neil does not have a girlfriend and that was fully intended as joke).

Now we have a mystery to solve. Whose shoe is it? Joyce wears a size 8 so we know it's not hers (nor can I see her wearing this type of shoe). Tim can't figure it out either. I have my own theories about cross-dressing mechanics or a scenario that involves a forbidden make-out session in our van (but that just makes me shudder). I just can't figure out who wouldn't notice that they left a shoe, a high heel for that matter, in our car. The point is that no one knows where it came from. I'm pretty sure it wasn't there when Neil took the car into the shop, but just in case, if any of you lost a shoe in our car, you are more than welcome to come and claim it. All rewards will be accepted.

On a side note (or mainly so I don't have to do another post): Do you like my new hair cut? Oh and my two beautifuly children? Adorable aren't we (I mean "they").

Monday, February 2, 2009

Surprise! Surprise!

So bed rest is officially over, though as I learned today, I still need to rest as much as possible. When couped up for days on end, it's natural to want to bust out at full speed at first opportunity. Natural, yes, but not necessarily best case scenario. Honestly it's not like I did much either...took Madison in for her 2 week check-up (looks perfect by the way), went to the grocery store, grabbed a bite to eat at KFC (neither Neil nor I have had fried chicken in ages), and went home. But I've been paying for that little bit of activity all day.

Anyways totally not the point of my post today. Bed rest wasn't so bad actually. How often in life do you get a doctor's note to rest, really rest? And I have to give major props to my magnificent husband. He really stepped up and took on the role of Mr. Mom without complaint. Literally, he did everything for the boys and myself from sunup to sundown & then some. It just so happened that my "illness" came at a time where we were between family visitors. My mom left on Thursday and Neil's parents don't come until tomorrow. Really, Neil was amazing and still is. Sometimes we forget the merits of the one's we love so dearly. Isn't it so much easier to complain about slight imperfections than to simply enjoy who they are? Bed rest was just what I needed to remember why I fell in love with this man I call my beloved (or mostly just Honey).

Another great thing happened while I was glued to this very couch. I told you that my BFF Jo was coming for a short visit, right? She arrived Friday around lunchtime and she came bearing gifts. Yes, there were some small trinkets for Madison, the boys, and fabulous chocolate for myself...but there was also a much larger other BF from college, Angela. It's difficult to surprise me. I'm clever like that, but they managed to pull it off. The three of us haven't been in the same room together in 6 years, before I moved to MD, before Jo went to France, before Ang moved to NC. It felt good to be with them again, a little weird to see them waiting on me hand and foot, but a much needed dose of medicine for my soul. There is nothing like good conversation, comfy pj's, and a chick flick to help a woman heal. So thank you Jo and Ang for blessing me with 24 hours of much needed girl time. You guys are the best, and much more photogenic than myself. I love you!

Now if I could just get Madison to calm down and go to sleep (like in this adorable pic taken by Jo) I could stop boring you guys with my rantings and go to bed. Wouldn't that be nice? I guess it was too much to ask for three out of three good sleepers. That's okay though because I finally got my girl, so I'll take her however I can get her, right?

Now I can't leave you without including this simply fabulous pic of Owen and Blake (again taken by Jo). People ask me how they are doing with the new baby around. Blake loves the baby...maybe a little too aggressively. Let's just say he likes to poke a lot, mainly in the general direction of her eyes. Owen gets it. He is the big brother and proud of it. Granted he acts out a little for attention, but we get that it's a phase. It's been worse since I've been on bed rest, but that's understandable, right. Mom's been glued to a couch for four days, and all of a sudden Dad is doing all the things Mom normally does. That's got to be tricky for a three year old. Hopefully life will go back to normal, or at least figure out what the new normal will be like in a couple weeks or so.