Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday Review: Norton Online Family

I know my boys are only 4 and 6 years old. But Noah is becoming quite computer savvy already and even Aaron is getting pretty good at maneuvering the mouse around. The computer is pretty much a necessary tool for every child these days, especially as they get into the higher grades in school.

I have even heard of school wanting to give EVERY student in 7th or 8th grade their own laptop.

Noah comes home from school begging to play some game he's played at school on the computer almost every day. And for now, I am, pretty comfortable knowing that he won't get into anything questionable.
But I also know it won't always be that way. As kids are growing up faster, they are learning much quicker than we did. When we were rearranging our kitchen about a year ago, Steve and I had many heated discussions about our computer. It had been taking up a lot of space in our bedroom and I wanted to move it to the kitchen.

Space was actually my secondary reason. My primary reason was exactly what I have been referring to...child computer activity. I am hoping that if the computer is in a "public" place in the house, it will help to discourage questionable activity as the kids start using the computer more and more.

I was excited to learn about Norton Online Family website that has become available. I admit that I am not all that knowledgeable and about filters and how they work, but the tiny knowledge I have makes me question whether they are really THAT reliable.

This site from Norton is a way to track the sites being visited on your computer. It seems like a great way to track your family's web browsing habits and I know it could be a useful tool when the boys become more independent in their computer usage.

You may click on this link of you are interested in reading more about the product. Or better yet, feel free to head to the site yourself and sign up for a free trial.

This review was sponsored by Mom Central.
Mom Central logo











Friday, February 27, 2009

Photo Story Friday: An Unusual Bath

So this week has been somewhat uneventful. I have been at a loss for fun things to do with Aaron in the mornings. We're sick of the mall play areas and it was rainy most of the week. We have played Memory every day (and I once again realized how smart my little boy is).

This morning on the way home from dropping Noah off at school, Aaron begged to play with his moon sand.

The boys got moon sand for Christmas several years ago. It is VERY fun to play with. But also makes a VERY BIG mess. So in general, they have played with it very rarely.

But because it was still cold and rainy, and I was getting a little tired of playing Memory ad nauseum, I decided to let him try.

I set the play mat on the floor. After about three minutes, he was begging for a broom and dustpan to clean up the mess. That's when I got an idea.

Last summer, I had gotten the boys a sand/water table to play with. I wondered if it is outside or in the garage. It would contain the moon sand a lot better than anything else, and we have a huge kitchen.
So I went outside to look and of course, our flooded garage (it's at the end of a slope and always happens when it rains) was it's present location.










I brought it inside and started attacking it with paper towels. After about ten of them, it was clear this wasn't going to work.

So next, I sprayed it with household cleaner and Aaron and I started wiping it with rags. It was clear this wasn't working either.

So I made a somewhat radical decision.

LETS GIVE IT A BATH!
It took a few tries to find an angle that would fit in the tub, and Aaron was fascinated by the strange things mommy was doing.


I started by pouring dish detergent all over it and then washing it with dish rags.







And Aaron was thrilled with his job as Chief Rinser












I underestimated the amount of bubbles that would result from this adventure.












When we were done, it was time to pull it out of the bathtub and dry it off












And Aaron was ready to play with his moon sand in a more contained location

















or so I thought.

At least it's easy to sweep up.











The cats were of course, interested as well.













The nice thing about moon sand is that it never dries up. I can put it in a container and store it for next time without it going bad, unlike play dough.

I love the idea of leaving the table inside though. I may buy some other things like rice to put in it periodically. I wish I had thought of this early in the winter, but we still have another couple of months of cool weather.

Not much of an exciting weekend ahead. Noah had an okay week at school, so we'll probably get him a movie for tonight. We have a birthday party for my nephew on Sunday, but other than that, no plans. It may be tough to come up with a top five on Monday. But you know I'll do it :)

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursday Thirteen: I Need Disney Advice

As we are on the home stretch for our trip, I have been trying to get a plan of action in place for our attack of the parks. We will be going to Magic Kingdom twice. Once during the day with Steve's parents, and in the afternoon and night with my family. We will also be going to Animal Kingdom one day.

As I have been pouring over the books, I find myself in a quandary that I want to get ahead of.

Noah is 6 and a half years old. He is somewhat brave at times, and somewhat fearful at times. He is tall enough to ride any of the rides.

My quandary is that while reading many of the descriptions, they recommend them for older kids, yet Noah fits the height limit and would probably love them.

So my T13 today is a list of rides that Noah wants to ride, he fits the height limit, but I am not sure if they are too scary or rough for him. Your job is to share with me if you have taken a child near Noah's age on any of these and what your opinion is on the matter. There are a couple of other questionable ones I have listed as well.

Magic Kingdom
1. Splash Mountain

2. Space Mountain

3. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

4. The Haunted Mansion

5. The Barnstormer

6. Swiss Family Treehouse (Too much climbing?)

7. Tom Sawyer Island (Is the wait for the boats really worth it?)

8. It's a small world (Is it cute or really as annoying as it's reputation?)

Animal Kingdom
9. Kali River Rapids (Too wet?)

10. Expedition Everest (He really wants to see the Yeti)

11. Primeval Whirl

12. It's Tough To Be A Bug (Too freaky?)

13. DINOSAUR

I can't wait to hear your thoughts on any of these.

Next week's T13 will be more on the positive side...the ones we are the MOST excited about.

16 days to go!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Almost Wordless Wednesday: A Boy and His Cat

I went to kiss Noah before I headed to bed last night and this is what I found:



Can you see the two cats among all of the blanket mess on his bed? This kid is a cat magnet.









I took a closer look and thought this shot was so sweet:



and took another picture.










About ten minutes later, Steve went in for his good night kiss and made me get out of bed to come look. I didn't think it could get any cuter than what I had just taken a picture of..

I was wrong.

He actually put his arm around the cat in his sleep.









I don't know who looks more content...the boy or the cat

Happy WW!

The Strangest Tackle


I bet I will win the award for the strangest tackle you will see today.

Let me explain.

As anyone who has read me lately knows, we are now less than three weeks until we leave for our vacation to Florida and three days of Disney World in the midst.

For the last few weeks, I have been trying to assess our warm clothes situation trying to figure out what we will need. A few weeks ago I posted about the shorts situation for Noah. I have found three pairs for him, and that should be plenty since we have a washer and dryer in the condo.

I also had to tackle Steve's shorts, since he only has three pairs, and one needed a new button, which I took care of yesterday. (See, I actually DO have one domestic bone hiding somewhere in my body ).

So the big tackle this week was shirts.

Now I know a lot of people think this is going a little far, but I read about this idea several years ago and I have made use of it ever since.

Whenever we go to a place with large crowds, I always dress us alike. It is not necessarily for the "cuteness" factor, although I do think it is cute. It is more for safety. When we are in a crowd of thousands of people, or are going to be be really spread out, it is easier to find my kids is they are dressed similarly, then we can find them more quickly. And if Steve and I are dressed in the same color, they can find us quicker as well.

So in preparation for several days in some of the largest theme parks in the world (I can only assume), I have been working to put together several color matched schemes. The funniest was that the first color I did was green, and I forgot that we are going to be there during St. Patrick's Day...kind of funny)

So, other than finding a white shirt for me, I did it. Five piles of color matched outfits.

I still have to tackle prayers that ANY of my capris from last year will fit. I have put on quite a few pounds this winter :(

If you have any other ideas that have worked for you for keeping your family together in large or crowded places, I would love to hear them. And if you have ever done this color match as well, please let me know so I know I am not the only crazy person out there.



Happy Tuesday.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Weekend Top Five 2/23/09

We really didn't do a whole to this weekend. It was really cold (AGAIN) and I am really ready to head south for a week of warm weather (19 days to go...Woo Hoo!). We didn't get outside at all, which probably contributed to the bouncing off the walls mentality that our boys displayed ALL WEEKEND LONG.



5. New Haircut
Yes, I am being selfish and honoring myself in my first of the five this weekend. I have an ongoing theory that anytime I put my hair in a pony tail of any sort for two or more days in a row, it is time for a haircut. I was trying to stretch it out until right before we left, but I just NEEDED a change. So Friday morning, after running a ton of errands (of which I will share later this week), I decided to stop for a haircut.

Quite a different look from before I must say. Steve and I are both still getting used to it, but the consensus at church was that it was "sassy", which seems to suit me. If nothing else, it will be a lot less hassle on vacation and I definitely won't be putting it up again any time soon.

4. Children's Museum
A new exhibit opened surrounding the Blue Man Group. My brother and SIL took Steve and me to the Blue Man Group show in Chicago six years ago and it was so much fun. The new exhibit was to learn all about how sound waves are made and can be changed to make sound change. There were also televisions with small snippets of the shows and the boys were fascinated by them. Aaron's favorite were the musical tubes and Noah's favorite was the tube where you could make it longer or shorter to change the pitch of the note. I loved this shot of Steve and Aaron playing the tubes together.

Aaron was a little disappointed that paint didn't squirt out like it does in the show though.

3. Tooth Issues
Thankfully our return to the dentist Saturday morning for Noah to have a filling was quite uneventful. He was in and out in 20 minutes without too much hoopla and even he was surprised that it didn't hurt that much.

Unfortunately, I have a tooth that apparently needs some serious work because I haven't been able to eat anything or close my teeth down all the way in over a week without pain and I haven't quite figured out how a dentist visit can work into our budget.

The last time I was to the dentist was when I was pregnant for Noah and the three botched root canals that left me crying in pain make me even less anxious to figure out a way, which is why I have this problem in the first place. If I would have just gone back and finished the work way back when when we still had insurance, this wouldn't be happening. I am just hoping that the pain doesn't bring down our trip too much and I can endure it for awhile yet before we have to create credit card debt again to fix it.

2. Several trips to the Mall
After sharing with you all on Friday about Noah's pant cutting incident, we did indeed head to the mall for new pants. While we were there, I got increasingly frustrated by two little boys who would not walk for two seconds next to me without bouncing every which way, running their hands along every wall they were anywhere near, and just general messing around.

Now I know this is typical boy behavior, but all that was running through my mind was, "We have spent how much money to take them to a Disney park with thousands of other people and if they don't stay with us, something bad could happen.

So I decided to return to the mall with them on Sunday. This time, it was to be an educational trip where they were going to learn how to walk with me, whether they liked to or not. It was such a good idea. After a few reminders and needing to back track a few times, both boys learned that they are capable of walking nicely next to us and we had a great time, including stopping for a treat of pretzels before coming home.

1.Happy Birthday Singing
Three
out of five of our parents' birthdays were this week. Each time, we called the parent and had the boys sing Happy Birthday to them (all three were answering machine messages) but Sunday night when Steve and the boys were singing to my FIL, Noah did something he had never done before. He added perfect harmony on his own. I had them sing it again so I could tape it. If you want to make me a happy momma, take 30 seconds to listen to my 6 year old create harmony.

video

Honorable Mention: Kitchen Experiments

We have been eating the same meals every weekend as well as during the week so I decided to try some others this weekend. My sister
let me borrow a cook book that she got from the state day care food program and I tried two recipes from it...meatloaf and chicken enchiladas. I'm not sure if I'll make either one again but it was nice trying a variety this weekend. The boys are getting better at accepting that they need to try new things once in awhile.

I'm not sure what this week holds. I can't believe that this week is Ash Wednesday already. I hope it gets a little warmer outside so I can get Aaron out for awhile.

Happy Monday. Let me know if you posted your weekend.

Friday, February 20, 2009

One Child's Reward...

...is another one's punishment.

How would you have handled this one?

Noah has been acting out a little during a certain class activity these last couple of weeks in school. They do the same "learning activity" each day and even though I have made it clear that I expect him to do the work, it still seems like drudgery to me and I wish they could add a little variety.

But, be that as it may, during this certain work time activity on Thursday, Noah decided that rather than cutting the words out on the paper and gluing them into the book (busy work), he would rather sit and cut a hole in his jeans. Not a big hole, but a hole nevertheless.

He did the same thing last year to a shirt, and the way I handled it was to make him return a toy that I had stored in the back of the van and use the money to buy a new shirt. (It was right before Christmas so I had a lot of things stored in the back of the van.)

I have nothing this time and I spent the night trying to think of a related consequence which would help him see the values of his clothes and why he can't destroy them.

What would you have done?

This is where gender differences show their pretty little faces. The moms of boys (and maybe some girls) out there will be right with me on this one and the moms of girls will most likely think I'm crazy.

Here's the punishment...

"Noah, we're going shopping!"

"NO, MOMMY...PLEASE NO SHOPPING!"

Yup, this kid HATES trying on pants with an absolute passion. We haven't been able to afford giving the boys allowances like we wanted this year so I can't just make him take his money to buy new jeans. So while other parents would choose to punish this behavior by groundings or taking away precious toys, I have decided that my punishment will be going shopping and trying on new pants to replace the old ones. The physical act of having to go into the store to try on pants will indeed be the worst punishment my six year old can endure. I'll let you know on Monday how it goes.

I can only hope that this will make it so there will be no more cutting incidents this year, because putting up with the temper tantrum in the fitting rooms is really no picnic for Dear Old Mom, either.

Have a great weekend. We're supposed to get hit by a massive snow storm this weekend. How we only seem to get storms on Saturdays? We have gotten robbed out of snow days way too many times this year.

"ReNember Da Ehws"

I used to be a teacher in the public schools. After successfully completing 7 years, I knew it was not the profession for me, much to the chagrin of mine and Steve's parents. But luckily, having two little boys gives me a chance to keep the teaching skills I have developed working. This week showed an example with each of my children. I will share Aaron's today, and Noah's next week when I have examples to back it up.

Anyone who has read my blog for a longer period of time knows some of the "Aaron Story" as it relates to speech. He was delayed for a long time, and continually failed hearing tests throughout his young life. I started giving him daily Claritin when I gave it to his brother and he finally passed a test. But his speech was still dragging. My parents always say that Aaron talks like he's from the Bronx. He just has those kind of inflections.

After several consults with the pediatrician and a speech pathologist, it was suggested that he could get speech therapy when he went to school. So I sent him to our local public school for preschool, as much as I wasn't comfortable with the school district, teacher, or anything associated with it.




He is big for his four year old age, but was constantly being called "baby", I think because of his speech. Yet, the speech therapist at the school wouldn't qualify him for speech therapy, much to the shock of our pediatrician.

So that, along with several other reasons, led me to make the decision to pull him from preschool. If they aren't willing to help him catch up so he could succeed later, then it fell to me to do it.

If you ever read In The Life Of A Child, Michelle does a delightful job of telling stories through the speak of her daughter, Jacqui. I love her Jacqui posts because I can just hear her speaking, very similar to Aaron-speak. There are quite a few sounds we need to work on to get Aaron up to par. It is one of the reasons that although he is technically old enough to start kindergarten next year, it will probably be better to wait a year before he starts school.

Our biggest issues are "th" "r" "l blends", among others. And there are certain words that are in his constant vocabulary that he was saying wrong all the time.

So for some reason, this week I decided it was time to start tackling these sounds. I didn't think I should try to correct them all at once. That seems a little too aggressive. So I decided to tackle the ones that were driving me the craziest. The "L" blends.

I am going to "sweep" in my bed
I "wike" to go to the pahk"

I "wuv" you mommy"

And so on. What it took was realizing that he wasn't using his teeth to form any of his sounds. We had to work on getting him to stick his tongue out of his mouth a little. Once he could feel the difference, we started working on words.

So each time we were in the car this week (it seems less stressful than sitting down and directly working on it), I would stop him if one of his "l's" wasn't right. Although there was a little frustration, he has actually taken to it quite well. He isn't consistent yet, but he is starting to catch himself. I think if we spend a few more weeks on these blends, then when they become more consistent, we can move on to the"th's", then the "r's", which are going to be much more difficult I think.

There was one other word that was driving me CRAZY.

"ReNember"

For some reason, the kid COULD NOT say that word. You wouldn't think that it would be a big deal, but 90 percent of Aaron's sentences start with this word, I am not quite sure why, but it is just his way.

Which is why it sticks out so much.

So this week while we were working on the "l's", I started trying to get him to say it right. This was the word that was starting to cause MAJOR breakdowns as the week went on. He would try over and over again, I would break it down,...nothing worked and we were both getting frustrated.

Then I had an A-Ha! moment yesterday on the way home from the mall.

"Aaron, say "mama"

"mama"

"Now, say Re-mama"

"re-mama"

"Now say remember"

"reNember"

"re-mama"

"re-mama"

"remember"

"reMember"

Woo Hoo!!!!!! Big celebrations and a BIG smile on that four year old's face.

And then, on the way home from dropping Noah off at school this morning...
"Mommy, reMember when the sun was red this morning?"

So I really am a teacher after all.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday Thirteen: 100th Post of Sorts

I am approaching my 100th post on the new site. When I shared my 100 things about myself with my old blog on my 100th post, I got into hot water with both of our families over a couple of statements that I made. SO this time around, instead of listing 100 things, I will instead pick a shorter meme and share a few things about myself in T13 fashion.

Here are the 13 Cities in which I have lived:

1. Muskegon, Michigan (1973-1978) My first home with both my parents. I remember the layout of the house, but not much else.

2. Whitehall, Michigan (1978-1985) Still my favorite house that I ever lived in. I pretty much remember everything about this house and always dreamed of having a house like it when I grew up.

3. Muskegon, Michigan (again) (Overlapped with above) After my parent's divorce and my dad remarried, many weekends were spent with my dad and step mom at their house in Muskegon.

3. Clarendon Hills, Illinois (1985-1989) My mom got remarried to a stock broker from Chicago and we packed up and moved to the Chicago suburbs.

4. Hinsdale, Illinois (1989-1990) My mom got divorced for the second time and we moved into a tiny apartment across from my high school. This apartment is when I became very acquainted with the roach population in our world and hope to never be as acquainted with them again.

5. Burr Ridge, Illinois (1990-1991) Due to bad circumstances the only place we had left to live was servant's quarters behind the retirement facility where my mom worked.

6. Schoolcraft, Michigan (1991-1993) I moved in with my aunt, uncle, and cousins to attend Western Michigan University. This home is where I learned that I could grow up to be a happy person, thanks to many late night talks with my uncle.

7. Kalamazoo, Michigan (1993-1996) (4) These years saw four different apartments in Kzoo; Two with Deb and two others with roommates whose names I don't remember

8. Portage, Michigan (1996-1997) Steve and I got married the week after we graduated from college and needed to pick up and move three states away for his internship. This apartment was our transition home while we were trying to get ready to move and I was finishing student teaching. This is also the apartment that caused my future MIL to state that I was destined to raise my kids with no morals because we moved in together three months before we were married.

9. Elkhorn, Wisconsin (1997) Our first apartment as a married couple. Tiny but living in married bliss

10. Mukwonago Wisconsin (1997-1998) We moved there to be closer to Milwaukee since Steve was driving into the city everyday for work. It was here that we decided that we were tired of living three states away from family and decided to move back to Michigan before we had kids

11. Grand Rapids, Michigan (1998-2002) (2) The first of our two apartments was in a big house in a VERY scary neighborhood close to downtown. The second was a much nicer apartment complex outside the city that welcomed the pregnancy of our first baby, Noah.

12. Wyoming, Michigan (2002-present) We moved in the month before Noah graced our lives and have been here ever since.

Do you know me better?

I am sure your T13 has more juice than this so let me know if you played so I can come visit.

Happy Thursday!

Johnson's Anniversary and Review

Remember your child's first bathtub adventures?





Gotta love naked Noah pictures!









Remember when he wanted to be part if the experience when a baby sibling came along?




Noah sharing a bath with Baby Brother Aaron








Remember when you tried to fit as many cousins in the tub at once, just for the pictorial moment?




Cousin Odin, Cousin Kira, Noah, and Aaron







Remember the cozy feeling when the bath was done and you wrapped them up in a cozy blanket and snuggled with them before putting on their jammies for bed?










I would venture a bet that every parent reading this has a ton of pictures of your children's first baths, as we do also.

I know when I put my first baby (Noah) in the bath tub, I was a nervous wreck. I was so scared of his little wiggly body wriggling away from me. I was worried about he soap getting into his eyes, and later worried about his sensitive skin.

Bath time was the one time we could count on a fussy baby becoming calm and happy and it STILL works like a charm now that my "babies" are 4 and 6 years old.

I remember a HUGE gift basket I received from my brother and sister-in-law about a month before Noah was born. It was FILLED to the brim with every bath and health care products made for babies.

Among the goodies was an entire line of Johnson's products, including lavender bubble bath, baby wash, the pink bottle of baby lotion, baby oil (which came in very handy for cradle cap), baby powder, baby shampoo, and SO MUCH MORE. I remember actually opening up the baby lotion and sniffing it, to get ready for the "baby smell" that is so dear to every mom's heart.

When I started preparing my information for this post, I went to the Johnson's website to explore a little. It was kind of funny because there were so many MORE products of Johnson's that I have used or still currently use that I hadn't even remember or realized. The two that we still currently use are the foaming hand soap and the easy grip bars. I am embarrassed to say that I struggle with getting the kids to wash their hands after they use the bathroom, and these two products have made that challenge a little easier.

The site had so much more than I would have thought and me post writing got delayed because I was having fun maneuvering around the site.

On behalf of Mom Central and Johnson's, I am posting to share that they are celebrating 50 Years of creating safe and nurturing bath products for families.

They have even created a wonderful site through You Tube for parents. I wish I had seen a site like this when I was a newer parent. There's even a chance to post your own video on the site to share your ideas with baby care with other moms.


I received samples of two new products to review. Johnson's baby bubble bath and wash and Johnson's head to toe foaming wash. Included below is a fact sheet link to each product if you are interested in learning further details about either of the products.



As I mentioned above, my "babies" are older now, but I was grateful to try both of these products because since both of my boys have extremely sensitive skin, "baby" products are much more gentle for them.


I liked the baby bubble bath right away when I opened it because of it's distinct smell. It smelled yummy liked apples. Kind of a fun change from the " norm". The foaming wash was fun for the kids (who love bubbles anyway) . They loved the push pump on the top too.






Happy 50th Anniversary, Johnson's.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: The Best Puddle

Can You Hear Me Now?

Did the title make you recall a certain Verizon ad campaign (that has truly exhausted any amusement factor)?

It is a commonplace saying in our home with our Verizon phones. About a year ago we canceled our land lines and went strictly to cell phones. We save quite a bit of money a month, but we live on a "trouble area" in which we don't get very good reception. It has driven us crazy for awhile and we find ourselves often mimicking the annoying guy on the commercials.

But I have been with them for a decade and they USUALLY always treat me quite well so I don't want to switch. Plus, for some reason Steve gets a discount as an employee of a cable company. I don't know why.

So when tragedy befell my phone this weekend, I never thought it would be too much of a big deal to get a new phone. I knew I would have to pay our bill in full which I was planning to do anyway, but I assumed they would cut me some kind of deal for a new phone.

I was quite wrong and in for quite an adventure yesterday as I tried to figure out a solution to my problem.

It started out in the morning. After I took the boys to the Ford museum (Where my camera batteries died so I have no pics :( ) I decided that we would zip out to the Verizon store and see what to do about my phone.

Store A Woodland Mall:
"I could sell you a new phone if you want, but I could also reactivate a old phone if you have one."
The dude had no intention of helping me figure out a way to NOT pay through the teeth. So I gave up and went home.

After teaching last night, I decided to try a DIFFERENT Verizon store.

Store B Wilson Avenue:
"Do you have insurance for the phone?"
Yeah, right.
"Maybe I could work something out if you're willing to buy insurance"
Hopes are rising now. After about twenty minutes of button pushing on the computer and consulting with another guy (who actually seemed to want to help) I thought maybe we were getting somewhere. Then all of a sudden, he backpedalled as if he changed his mind and didn't really want to help after all.
"Sorry, the best I can do for you is $119"
See ya!

So now I am getting pretty mad. After over ten years of loyalty, these people aren't willing to do anything to help. So here's when my thought process changed.

If I have to pay $120 to get a new phone anyway, what's stopping me from changing carriers and getting service with someone who actually has GOOD reception in our house. When we discovered the "problem area" thing awhile ago, Verizon put a note on our account that we could cancel at any time because if it, so we wouldn't be out anything if we cancelled.

So I figured I would head over to the mall and check out the deals from the other companies. I figured I should first stop at the Verizon place to find out my exact plan so I could compare at other places.

Store C Rivertown Crossings Mall:
This time I was not being nice anymore. I had had enough.
"Excuse me, but I am planning to cancel my service tonight so could you please tell me what plan I'm on so I can go compare at other stores in the mall?"
The employee was very friendly and asked why I was cancelling. I kept it short and said that I had been all over the city at Verizon stores and no one wanted to to help me.
This young kid was so nice and said he would try.
A bright light shone from above!!!!
After assuring him that I was intending to pay my bill up in full if we could get something to work,he started his attempt.
More button pushing, just like in the last place.
Then he says,
"How does $50 work for ya?"

Woo Hoo! That I can do.
It turns out it is the same phone that the other guy in store B "tried " to make work for me but "couldn't".
In order to make the price work for him, I not only got a brand new phone, but also the "bundle" which included a car charger, headset, and holder with belt clip.
The manager then came up to me and asked if Alberto had been good to me. I told him that I was very happy with how things went.
This one employee took an extremely angry customer and turned it around.

What I don't understand is how a company can be so varied. If one person could do it, so could the others have. I don't understand why companies have to be subjective anyway.

I am not sure if this testimonial is good or bad press for Verizon, but for now, I have the ability to reach people again and that's a good thing.

Monday, February 16, 2009

OOPS!!!!!!!

Not to take away anything from my Weekend Top Five, but a quick little moment of truth is required before I start my day.

I have mentioned on this blog before my unique talent to lose things. It actually isn't a unique talent, but rather a family trait that my siblings and I share with our father.

The most common items of misplacement are debit cards, car keys, and cell phones.

Which is why I didn't panic yesterday when I couldn't find my phone.

We don't have a land line anymore and my cell phone is my connection to the outside world.

I have tried everything to help myself keep track of it. But alas, when I was out running some errands yesterday, I could not find it.

When I mentioned to Steve last night that I didn't know where it was, he broke into his usual frenzy of trying to find it. He does this same dance when I lose anything. He starts frantically trying to find whatever I lost while I sit by watching and after about a half hour or so, I say "Oh yeah, I remember, it is ..." and proceed to tell him where I left it, walk directly there, and find it.

It is a dance that we've been playing for 12 years now. And one that will continue for decades to come.

So last night when I told Steve I couldn't find my phone, he started in on me to look for it. After a short time, I remembered...

I put it in my jeans Saturday night and I just threw the jeans in the wash about an hour before.

So Steve, in usual fashion, went to the basement to retrieve the VERY wet phone, took out the battery, and set out on the counter to dry out and pray that it could be salvaged.

This morning I was awakened to "Kristi, your phone is dead!"

Yup, the consequences for my absentmindedness has now cost us yet another chunk of our refund to go purchase a new phone.

Do you think I will learn a lesson from this and keep better track of of my phone?

One would only hope.

Here's the funny part of the story. About a week ago, Noah begged me for his own lip balm. I have purchased endless number of them for him but they always seem to get lost (sound like anyone you know?) or go through the wash. So I told him that I would hold onto his lip balm so no more would go through the wash.

So this morning when I told Noah that after we go to the museum, we have to go get Mommy a new phone because it went to the wash, my bright little boy zeroed right in on it and said,"So I guess we BOTH have that washer problem, huh Mommy?"

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Weekend Top Five 2/16/09

Happy President's Day. We are off to the Ford Museum today for free admission and birthday cake in honor of the event.

I am having a difficult time thinking of 5 things from this weekend. It was a pretty uneventful weekend. The boys spent a lot of time playing outside in the little bit of snow that fell Friday night.


5. Friday Morning Trip to the Dentist
I know I already mentioned it, but it was a big part of the weekend so I'll put it in the list. I have been quite remiss in my children's dental care up until now, mostly because I couldn't find a Medicaid dentist with openings. Aaron's old preschool had one come to the school so he had already been seen, but Noah hadn't.

The thing I didn't like was that the parents aren't allowed to go with them. It was a little disturbing. But even though he had a cavity, he still came out with a smile.

I am struggling with the idea of him having a cavity that needs to be filled, and he is very worried about his appointment next Saturday. I am too, mostly because I haven't been back to the dentist since I had a traumatic experience back when I was pregnant for him. I hope his experience next week is less awful than mine was. I am trying to down play it though, so he doesn't feel anxiety about it.

The biggest thing that came out of it was that he needs to start flossing, which became quite a struggle this weekend to teach him how. I think it's a leaning curve though.

4. Friday Morning Trip To Target
The boys each got a gold dollar coin from my grandma in their Valentine cards. Since Noah had the day off of school for midwinter break, I took them Target after the dentist to spend their dollars in the dollar bin. Noah also got to pick out an electric toothbrush as his reward for being so brave at the dentist.

Noah picked out a dry erase board with a marker and eraser and Aaron picked out some batman pens. After a little more shopping we got our standard popcorn and light lemonade from the little snack counter and the boys settled in for a fun time of coloring with their new treasures and snacks. After such a rough day the day before (and discovering why it happened later that day), it was nice to have a great morning out with the boys.




3. Friday Night Mom's Night Out-In With A Movie Reject
I really needed to get out after this week so I got free immediately after dinner while the boys watched Lion King for movie night. I called Deb to see if I could spring her early, which she was able to as long as she promised her husband that she wouldn't come home before 11.

After a wandering trip to Target and the mall, we headed back to my house to watch a "chick flick". I had rented The Secret Life Of Bees, because it had gotten so many good reviews.

After the shock of disturbing violence in the first scene, we stuck it out for about ten more minutes before I turned to Deb and asked her if we really wanted to endure the rest of this. We both decided that a movie of this intensity was not what we were up to for the night so we headed back to the video store to beg them to exchange it for s
omething more lighthearted.

We ended up with Mama Mia (for the third time being rented). I could have bought it by now for the money I have spent on renting it, but Deb hadn't seen it. Yes, silly useless plot with bouncy Abba songs was much more pleasant to watch and Deb managed to stay out until after midnight.

2. Saturday Morning Valentines
Since I knew I was going to be gone for the morning (see honorable mention below) I decided to give the boys their valentine present before I left.

I decided to not give
them candy or stuffed animals this year. They have so many stuffed animals and Noah doesn't need to be eating candy, anyway (not that Aaron, Steve or I should either). So I opted for practical this year. It turned out to be the right decision.



I got them fun water bottles with their names on them. They had mugs like this, but I thought they would be perfect for Disney in a few weeks. Even though they weren't cheap, they seem to be sturdy, strong, they're personalized to prevent identity battles (of which we experience on a daily basis) and they have straps for them to be able to carry them themselves.

I knew the boys liked them when they begged to take them with us to our evening adventure (see #1 below) and they used them frequently for the entire evening.

1. Saturday Afternoon/Evening Playworld
After quiet time, we were supposed to go to a valentine evening out at Deb's church, but the kids had so much energy that I felt a trip to Playworld would be more up their alley. Deb and her girls joined us. Our old babysitter who works there was just leaving and not only slipped us in the door for free, but also told the employees to give us dinner for half price, so the entire evening out cost around $10. Woo Hoo!

Check out the sweaty Noah head




Usually the kids run around for about an hour, and then start complaining about being tired.

Not this time.
After about an hour and a half, we fed them, and then ALL FIVE of them were off and running for ANOTHER hour and a half. When we were ready to leave, most of the kids were still happily playing and probably could have kept going, but you could tell they were tired when there was no protest about it being time to go.

It actually was a fun Valentine's night out.












Honorable Mention
I spent Saturday morning with other area bell directors and the hand bell group Embellish, playing through three hours of music just put out by some publishers. It was supposed to be a reading session to decide if I wanted to purchase any of the pieces for our church.

The music was way too advanced for m
y ringers, but it really was a lot of fun to just spend the morning reading and playing with other musicians, and to be challenged musically.







Sunday was uneventful. Church and then hanging around the house.

I still haven't figured out how to re-add Mr. Linky so I don't have the link list up yet. Hopefully by next weekend.

I hope you will still come by and let me know if you posted about your weekend though.

Happy Monday!


Friday, February 13, 2009

This Made Me Laugh...

An older, tired-looking dog wandered into my yard.
I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home and was well taken care of.

He calmly came over to me, I gave him a few pats on his head;
he then followed me into my house, slowly walked down the
hall, curled up in the corner and fell asleep.


An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out.

The next day he was back, greeted me in my yard, walked inside and resumed his spot in the hall and again slept for about an hour.
This continued off and on for several weeks.

Curious I pinned a note to his collar: 'I would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful sweet dog is and ask if you are aware that almost every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap.'

The next day he arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar:
'He lives in a home with 6 children, 2 under the age of 3 - he's trying to catch up on his sleep.
Can I come with him tomorrow?'


I was sent this by a friend of mine. Too good to not post.





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Friday Thoughts

Sorry my last few posts have been such downers. This whole week was pretty rough and I choose to blame it on the full moon.

I keep thinking today is Saturday since Noah has it off of school for Mid Winter Break. I am taking him to his first dentist appointment in about an hour, which I am a little nervous for. Aaron's first appointment was at preschool so I never had to deal with the anxiety before. Let's hope for a clean teeth report. Cavity report: One small cavity between his back two teeth that needs to be filled next week. We need to floss better back there.

I am celebrating having the mortgage paid in full as of this minute. Woo Hoo! I am hoping to keep a month ahead now so we don't fall into the trap again. I am also thinking about purchasing a few Visa prepaid cards with the refund for our trip in a few weeks so that I don't spend the Disney money on other bills, and also we will know exactly how much we are spending while we are down there.

After all the preparation for Noah's class valentine party yesterday, he didn't get to stay for it. Now we have a pile full of cupcakes on the counter and a mommy with no will power. I wonder how many will be left by the end of the day? Already ate two...Bad Mommy!

I was a bad friend last weekend and didn't go out with Deb. I hope we can go out tonight. I tend to wallow when I am down, and I think I should do the opposite and go out with a friend who always makes me feel better. How about it Deb?

Steve found a place that will put a new tire on the van for $90. I think he is going to do that today. Meanwhile, I have been driving the "Green Hornet" as it lovingly referred to in our home. Three years ago we bought a vehicle from my brother for $1. It is truly a MAN'S car, with big ol' cracks across the windshield and a missing back window. But it has saved us so many times that we are absolutely convinced that it is the very best vehicle ever made. Steve has told Noah that he can have it when he gets older, which he is VERY excited about, and we are starting to believe that it really be around that long.

I am going to a bell conference and ringing all morning tomorrow and I am really excited about it. I think it will be a nice release to just go play for a few hours, rather than try to lead others in ringing. I am still not sure if we are going to the Valentine's thing at Deb's church tomorrow night or not. We'll play that one by ear.

I have to go take a shower and start the day. Thank Heavens for PBSKids and television shows that I can comfortable leave on while I take my shower.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

After a Really Bad Day...

So the last 24 hours have continued to sink into a deep dark hole. But according to my personal non-bloggable rules, I will not share the details. It was just a really bad day that I wonder how to overcome, in relation to my older son.

So instead of being home to enforce some sort of consequence, I had to leave him in the hands of the babysitter and go off to work.

I taught all evening, but my heart was definitely not into it. I spent the entire time trying to figure out how to deal with the problem at home. When my last lesson of the night was a no-show, I packed up my stuff, put on my coat and readied to leave the store. A man who works at our front counter suggested I wait a little longer, just in case my student still showed up. About twenty minutes after the lessons was supposed to start, I decided it was time to go home.

I knew Steve was out doing singing valentines and last year his quartet had stopped by and sung to me. On top of my horrendous day, my hubby hadn't even stopped by to sing.

As I was pulling out of the driveway to the store, I happened to glance back into the front, which I never do.
While I was looking, I felt my cell phone ring. I spied four guys in bright white tuxes in the entry way. They had walked in the front just as I was walking out the back.

Better turn around and park.
As I walked back into the store and found my handsome husband and his three cohorts ready to sing "Sweet and Lovely", one of the two songs that Steve's quartet sang in our wedding ceremony. It came complete with a red rose.

I still don't know what I am going to do about the situation with my child, but it was fun to have a serenade to make the end of the day a little brighter.

Thank you, Steve, for my Valentine. I Love You.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

UUUGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Just when you think a break is coming....

Gotcha!

Our State of Michigan tax refund is coming into our account in 3 and a half hours. Do I get to go pay bills and buy groceries?

Nope!

Wanna know why?















Thank you Mr. Pothole on the way home from church tonight.

I know, want some cheese with my whine?

I am fuming because we JUST canceled our roadside assistance that would have come out and put a spare on for me to get me to the store to spend my much needed refund on a stupid new tire instead of groceries. Now Steve is out singing and I am here by myself trying to figure out what to do about getting Noah to school tomorrow, getting groceries, getting the spare tire on (I don't even know where it is at the moment, or if we even have one), getting the new tire installed and paid for, getting brownies baked for Noah's party tomorrow, and making it to his school for his valentine party. Oh, and getting it all done by 3:30 to make it to work since Steve will be gone all day and night tomorrow performing singing valentines for other women who probably are leading real lives.

I am sorry to vent but I just want to scream.

A special woman whom I have come to know through my blog just commented and reminded me to keep focused on the bright side. Thanks again Veronica for lifting me up. You always know how to keep me grounded when I start to falter. I am extremely lucky that it happened close to home and we were able to make it home without being stranded.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wordless Wednsday: Superheroes Need Down Time Too!

The Three Little Pigs, Set in Michigan

As we were walking through the zoo on Saturday, we were approaching the lion habitat. Aaron stopped dead in his tracks.

"MOMMY, LOOK! THE THREE LITTLE PIGS LIVE HERE!!!!!"





Want to see what he was looking at?

















I love the way a four year old mind works. There were indeed three huts just like this connected by a little tunnel.

These funny little stories are the reason we blog :)

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Weekend Top Five 2/09/09

It was a pretty good weekend. Of course it helped that for the first time in a REALLY long time, it was sunny and tolerable temperatures all weekend. That helped to lift our spirits.

Here are my Top Five Weekend Events



5. Friday afternoon/Evening Date Night with Mommy

Noah's school had a family movie night scheduled for Friday night. He really wanted to go but it was too late for him to be out when he had early gymnastics the next morning. But I felt bad because he had just finished his SECOND perfect week in a row at school.

So to make it up to him, I picked him up from school (and left Aaron at home with Daddy, who was home from work due to injury), took Noah out for dinner and then to the movie Bolt. It was such a cute movie. A couple of questionable words, but Noah didn't even catch them and the movie was a even mix between cartoon action film, and sweet friendship movie. I liked it as much as he did and we both really enjoyed our date night out.




4. Saturday Gymnastics and Dance Class

It was the last week of the boys' gymnastics and dance classes. Steve got to come since he was still of work. It was the first time we got to actually observe Aaron's dancing portion of the class and I was impressed with how well did.

Here are the best shots I got this week

Noah's cartwheel attempts













Aaron hanging at the bar


















Aaron balancing during dance class














3. Saturday Afternoon at the Zoo

We were originally planning to go to the children's museum but when it was almost 50 degrees and sunny, we decided to take advantage of our Christmas present from my parents and take the boys to the zoo.

We had never taken them in the winter before and it really was a very different experience. The animals were more active and we weren't hot and sweaty after a half hour.




The most memorable from this trip was the lioness, who is among the newest inhabitants of the zoo. When we visited right after the lions arrived, they were way up high and you couldn't really see them.

Not this time


As we came walking into the little "hut" that was constructed, we met up with our lioness friend resting right against the window. Her head was HUGE!


She and Aaron had a number of stare-downs and we were all grateful for the heavy glass separating us.





2. Saturday Afternoon Outside

As I mentioned, it was so beautiful when we got home from the zoo, I couldn't bring myself to going inside so we stayed out for quite awhile. It turned into Steve and me cleaning out the entire van, making room for Sunday (see below) and the boys spent the time "digging out".

They managed to collapse the rest of the fort (pictures to be shared on Wednesday) and then they wanted to go sledding.

Guess why we couldn't go sledding?

The sleds were all buried under snow.

But when Noah finally gave up and headed inside, Aaron wasn't ready to come in yet so he set to work, digging out the sled.


He did, however, give up before he got it all out. We were all wet by that time from being outside for 4+ hours and it was time to go in and watch High School Musical (for the 2nd time of the weekend)











1. Sunday afternoon at the "Cottage"

We headed up to Steve's parents about an hour north Sunday after church. We wanted to finally return the family cradle that had been stored in our basement since Aaron was a newborn.

When we got there, Steve's dad had built a bonfire in the backyard. Steve and his Dad tried to help the boys roast marshmallows, but the boys has their own idea of how to do it.












Aaron preferred to just eat marshmallows from the bag


















and Noah would rather just spend the time setting fire to the stick

















When we were finally frozen to the core, it was time to jump onto Papa's tractor to head in













While Steve and I finally got a chance to roast a few marshmallows for ourselves.

I love that I can count on Noah to take great pictures









The weekend was pretty packed. Saturday night was supposed to be a family movie night, but it ended up being only Steve and the boys. I was supposed to go play the piano at the beginning of a memorial service and then come home and make popcorn for the movie. I got there at 4:30 for the 5:00 service, and I didn't play until 6:45, when the service was STILL not even half over. I missed movie night and bedtime kisses with the kids.

This week looks interesting. We have 100's day ion Tuesday for Noah, his Valentine party on Thursday, and then Noah has his first (I know, slacker-mom) dentist appointment on Friday morning (4 day weekend for mid-winter break). I am sure I will have pictures to share and stories to tell from these.

Now I have to go do a ton of laundry that all smell like CAMPFIRE. UGH!!!

Have a great week.