Sunday, September 30, 2007

Follow Your Dreams

Mom always tells me, "You only go around once in this life." Her point: Better do it now, while you still have a chance.

At the Fall Festival for our church a couple weeks back, one of the musical acts was a name I knew from years ago-- Shane Martin. He sang in a band in high school, which made him very cool, and hot, in my book. I didn't really follow his career much after graduation, though I would occasionally hear from others that he was still performing. I always admired his talent, and, more than that, his drive. With many artists in my life, I have learned what dedication it takes to live out that dream. "Headlining" in the Church of St. Michael parking lot was surely not his biggest or best gig, but, hopefully, he is doing what he loves. (I'll add a link to his website under my favorites at the bottom of this page.)

That's part of the reason I started blogging-- I just like to write. To that end, I really need a job. I could use some pocket money, and I would love a professional outlet for these words. I have had some success in copy writing for websites, and related work, basically anything I can do from home. Naturally, it has to be something I can do from home, because I am living my other dream: motherhood. This is my personal want ad; if you have any connections or ideas, please pass them along.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pretty Good Life

The girls awoke bright and early and tried to sneak past our door. Daddy, refreshed from his ten-hour, jet-lag-shaking sleep, called out, "Good morning." Elisabeth came in, but Amanda said, "I need to check something first," and headed downstairs. Elisabeth remarked, "Yeah, she probably needs to check what's on TV!" And then she proceeded to stand spread-eagle in the middle of our bed and yell, "I AM FOUR!" Kind of a delayed revelation, since her birthday was three weeks ago. Dad asked, "Do you like being four?" Elisabeth replied, "Well, it's betta dan bein' free!"

We noted we did not hear the TV turn on in the den, and soon Amanda returned. "What did you have to check?" I asked. "Well, first I had to check to make sure none of the Halloween decorations broke during the night. (???) Then, I had to check my pretty face." Silly Mommy asked, "And how was it?" "Pretty pretty."

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sick Mommy: A Contradiction in Terms

I woke up in the middle of the night, sick as a dog. When I went to bed, I was half-expecting to wake up to a sick dog, since Eisenhower had helped himself to an entire slice of pizza at suppertime. But, no, it was me... and it was weird, because I never get sick.

My husband was somewhere over the Atlantic, and I was supposed to spend Friday volunteering at Amanda's school. When the kids awoke and found me curled up in bed, they thought it was great fun. I tried to explain that I was sick, but they were like, "Whatever. We want breakfast."

Thank heaven for Grandma R. A 7 a.m. phone call, and she turned up to help get Amanda on the bus. Then, aided by Auntie Lisa, she took the other two to her house. It's strange being alone in my home. Never happens. I took a nap. I feel somewhat better now. Time to go change the sheets and bleach the bathrooms.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Customer is Never Right

Oh, here she goes again-- complaining about customer service! You know, it's not even about the service anymore. These days, I just presume I'm going to have awful service in every business transaction. The workers are going to be careless and stupid. I'm going to be overcharged. The order is going to be wrong. No matter how polite and understanding I try to be, I will be treated rudely. But now it's about the inane "policies" these companies have enacted to protect their own profits and the expense of consumers.

Recently, my mom was prohibited from writing a personal check at Target. Though she'd been a loyal, check-writing customer for the past 35 years, for some reason that day she became "suspicious." She was told to wait two weeks, and then come back to try again.

I've had two encounters this past month that have left me flabbergasted. First, my cell phone quit working. It's only a few months old, but it just totally died. It's still under warranty with LG, so I went to the Sprint store to see about getting it fixed or replaced. Of course, Sprint doesn't handle this-- I have to contact the manufacturer directly. The LG customer service rep informed me I would have to pay (non-refundable, with a tracking number) to ship the phone back to the company, where a technician would look at the phone and assess whether it actually was a warranty issue and whether the phone should be repaired at their cost. The process typically takes about a month, I was told. "So, I am supposed to pay to send this broken phone-- made by you-- back to you, and at some point you will determine whether you will actually fix it or whether you're going to keep the phone and charge me more?!" The suggestion to me was to buy a new phone. So, the point of the warranty IS...? The rep on the phone admitted to me that LG has the worst warranty policy in the industry, and there's no way for a customer to know about it unless they read the fine print in the owner's manual, which comes after the phone purchase.

Then, there's the bank. I'm constantly at odds with Wells Fargo. This company's policies and fee scales are confusing and never-ending, but it's such a pain to switch! The straw that broke the camel's back: a $2 fee for calling the customer service line. When I noticed this on my online statement and called the 800-number for clarification, I was told I had probably called to ask something I could have figured out on my own, like an account balance. In that case, the bank charges me for the banker's time! The Wells Fargo customer service line record now includes a mighty blue streak from my lips. But, really, I should thank them. This finally gave me the fuel to switch banks, a process I finally began this morning. Benjamin was along for the ride. We were at the new bank a long time; he consumed an entire package of fruit snacks and only part of an ink pen, all the while scooting around the lobby and saying "Hi" to the tellers.

And don't even get me started on the cable company. If you want to really get riled up, ask each of your neighbors what they pay for cable TV or phone or internet-- bet you get a different number every time. If you go into the office IN PERSON and demand the lower rate another customer is getting, they will eventually give it to you.

What, what's that you say? You read my ramblings to find out more interesting, entertaining things, like what's going on today with my family, especially the kids? Well, I don't know... I've been too busy ranting about customer service. Where are those kids, anyway?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lists That Matter Only to Me

Am I the only oddball who is constantly making mental lists? I don't have enough room in my brain to remember the date or what I had for breakfast, but these random things stream through like a stock market ticker. So, today, lists:

Personal Day Brighteners
1. extra-large fountain Diet Coke with crushed ice
2. 75% off clearance rack at Target
3. a new episode of "Flip This House"-- or "Flip That House"
4. Ben's cheery "Hi" when I check his crib and find him awake
5. running into someone who knew me in a different life (like pre-motherhood)

People I Never Again Want to See on TV
1. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
2. Britney Spears
3. Hillary Clinton
4. Jim Cramer
5. Rachael Ray

Good Meals for the Start of Fall
1. chili
2. beef stroganoff
3. spaghetti and meatballs
4. hamburger gravy and mashed potatoes
5. Who am I kidding? Daddy's gone... so we're having frozen pizza!

Favorite Words My Kids Use
1. romansion
2. extremeable
3. snake-ish
4. sassafire
5. "Ghostbutlers!"

Things I Wish I Could Pay Someone to Do
1. empty the dishwasher
2. deal with the cable company
3. put away piles of clean laundry
4. clip the kids' fingernails
5. make small talk with the other mothers

Things I Wish Someone Would Pay Me to Do
1. shop for bargains
2. write complaint letters
3. listen to old people
4. watch television
5. make lists

OK, this has turned into a list of lists... I should be spending my time cleaning bathrooms. Remember your crazy friend today, and, if you have time, stop over and clip her kids' fingernails. (I'd pay you.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Out of the Mouths of My Babes

Ever since my first child started talking (yes, I do believe Amanda spoke in complete sentences in the newborn nursery,) my mom has been asking me, "Are you writing all this down? Because you'll never remember it later." At the moment, I still know Ben's first word was "dada," but this week he only says "Hi" and "Ike" (the two sound much alike.) I do keep handwritten books for each child, with funny stories I want to remember: When Amanda was about two, maybe even younger, she was throwing a fit at the dinner table. Daddy asked her, "Amanda, are you a drama queen?" She spit back, "NO, I'm a DEMOCRAT!" That Ronald-Reagan-worshipper almost fell off his chair.

Anyway, here, fulfilling a request, I recount two recent chuckles:

One Saturday morning, all three kids and I were having breakfast, when we noticed a huge woodpecker pecking at the big oak tree outside the window. Pretty soon, Todd came storming downstairs, "Do you see that woodpecker? It's going to kill that tree. And, if it kills that tree, we're going to have a huge mess in our backyard. I'm going out there to throw something at it." As the girls are yelling, "No, Daddy, no!" Todd asked me, "What kind of woodpecker is that, anyway?" I replied, "Well, I'm no expert, but it's pretty darn big, and with that crested head, I'd have to guess it's a Pileated Woodpecker." Todd said, "No, I mean, is it, like, endangered or anything?" At this point, Amanda chimed in, "Well, it certainly will be in danger if you throw something at it!"

Another day, we were riding in the car, when I had had enough of Amanda's mouthy talk. In one of my finer mothering moments, I looked in the rear view mirror and threatened, "That's enough, Amanda. Do you want a smack?" At this point, Elisabeth piped up from her booster seat, "I'd like a snack."

Aah, that's good stuff.

The Unconscious Mind of a 5-Year-Old

Maybe once a week, Amanda wakes up with "dreams" to share. At least 98% of her material is totally fabricated, spun from one tiny nocturnal moment. But they do provide entertainment at the breakfast table. It's not just what she says, but the way she tells it. Here's an excerpt from this morning:

"I was at Grandpa's house, down on the dock, and all of a sudden I just fell in the water. (Mommy: "Grandpa P.'s house?") Yep, and Grandpa K. swooped his arm down and pulled me right out. (Mommy: "I thought you were at Grandpa P.'s house.") I was. Grandma and Grandpa K. were visiting. Yep, Grandpa K. pulled me right out of the lake, just like Great-Grandpa Ericksen pulled Lisa out of the Mississippi River. And just as we got out of the lake, we were surrounded by snakes. Mom, what does 'surrounded' mean? Yes, totally surrounded. There were cobras, and anacondas, and pythons, all kinds of huge snakes. And me and Grandpa ran up to the house and shut the door on the snakes. And Grandma K. and Grandma P. were having coffee. There were no screens on the windows, but Grandma opened the window because she was starting to feel a wind. All of a sudden, Grandma K. said, 'I smell something a bit snake-ish.' And there, under the table, was a huge cobra. Not just any cobra-- a king cobra. It was black with red and white spots. And Grandma grabbed it with both hands. (Mommy: "Grandma P.?") Yes, Grandma P., because Grandma K. is deathly afraid of snakes. And she took that snake in her hands, but she couldn't kill it. Do you know why that snake wouldn't break? Because its insides were made of wood. Usually, snakes are made of glass, so they just break, but this one was made of wood..."

The dream went on and on and on from there, but I was no longer listening. I drifted down to the basement fridge in search of a cold Diet Coke.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Single Parenting=Insanity

Todd left this morning and will be gone until Friday. Considering he usually gets home around 6:30 p.m., this means I've so far spent just three extra hours alone with the kids. I can already tell it's going to be a long week. If nothing else, I just need another semi-sane adult with whom to commiserate. By the time I got through kitchen clean-up, baths, teeth brushing, and stories, I told the girls it would be a good night for them to lead prayers, because Mommy was tired.

Amanda went first:
"Bless us, oh Lord, and these, thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord, Amen. God bless me, God bless Elisabeth, God bless Benjamin, God bless Ikey, God bless Mommy, God bless Daddy and keep him safe on his trip and help him to have a good time there, and God please help Benjamin to learn to pull himself up on furniture and to walk behind his wheelie toy and help him drink lots of Pediasure so he keeps growing bigger, and thank you Lord for my friends Logan and Thomas and Skyler and Jack and Brianna and Zoe and Lucy (Libby: "And Sophie?") and Sophie and everyone in my class, and thank you for this nice house, that is our shelter, that is our roof over our heads, and thank you for the good food, Lord, and the nice clothes, and especially for my Leapster. Amen."

Elisabeth followed:
"Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest. Let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen. God bless Grandma and Grandpa and Grandma and Grandpa and Grandma and Grandpa. God bless Lisa. God bless Jessie (dead beta fish) in heaven and God bless Abby (Ted and Kristin's live beta fish.) God bless Ally and Katelyn and, and what's the mom's name again, Mommy? (Mommy: "Anita.") Yes, God bless Anita, and Woss. God bless Woss. AMEN!"

The Blogging has Begun

Today, I, too, take the leap into the blogosphere. This is a major technological step for someone who, until very recently, didn't even know what a blog was. I'm still figuring that out... But, I've seen friends' blogs, and I certainly enjoy knowing what's going on with them and their families, so I thought I would give this a try. Everyone tells me the key is to write often. I will likely include: topics on which I am soliciting discussion or advice, updates on Benjamin's doctor visits, stories about my kids that I find just hilarious, and snapshots of our days in cute photos. Naturally, writing is something I enjoy, so this should be a good outlet. However, I've never been a journal keeper (don't want those "secrets" out there in ink, you know) and I'm not sure anyone else on the planet will take any interest in the things going on in our lives. But, Todd is on a business trip (HA!) to Denmark this week, so I should have some idle time-- that is, if I am still conscious once I get all three kids to sleep. At the moment, I am trying to write this while also consuming a caramel apple the size of my head, so the keyboard is getting a bit sticky. I'll tell you now, I would like to include in our blog links to your blogs, as well as links to other websites I find vital for life. I am adding a monthly calendar, so grandparents and others will have some idea of what our schedule is like. I will also share personal prayer requests, because I think prayer is a powerful way for us to keep connected with each other, as well as with God. If you have a request you would like added, please let me know through a comment or a separate email; if you would prefer a request removed from the list, just tell me. Thank you for your love and friendship. I feel it-- and I need it.