Sunday 28 February 2010

Mabel's Labels BlogHer Contest explained a bit further

Here's the video to explain what prompted my last entry:

Here's the link to the video on YouTube.

Before the impending electrical storm wipes out the internet, I need you to know something...

You are amazing. Do you know that?

How do I know you're amazing? Because I'm amazing, too. Oh, and by the way, you suck. How do I know you suck? Because I suck, too.

There's absolutely nothing that happens to you that isn't, hasn't or won't happen to someone else. There's absolutely no feeling you have that someone else isn't, hasn't or won't feel. In fact, there are hundreds, thousands, even millions of people that feel they are alone or strange or wrong..... or complete freaks for how they are feeling.

Do you know what I did the other day? I was so frustrated with my daughter, I slammed my bedroom door so hard snow fell off the roof. Then I crawled into bed and bawled. My daughter's 5. I'm 36 and I threw the tantrum. I felt so ashamed, like the worst mother on the planet.

But ... I reach out. I share. I tweet. I blog. I read. I connect. I feel "normal". I feel I can go on without completely wrecking my children.

There's something incredible in this social media world. You know what the most important part is, though? The 'social' part. The 'media' part is just that. It's the medium that enables us to connect. What will we do when our medium is obliterated?

I implore you to keep connecting. Walk into that conversation. Become part of it, just like you do today online. Talk to the person next to you while you sit watching your kids skate or swim. Without the internet we may have to resort to telephone trees again, but we need to keep connecting. (It's either that or back to valium.)

The important thing to remember is...
that stranger sucks and that same stranger rocks. And so do you.

You can check out Mabel's Labels BlogHer '10 Contest here.

Thursday 25 February 2010

My kids are awesome

They are both such sensitive souls. Very caring. At playgroup, the facilitators are always telling me how Alexandria looks out for the younger ones. Yesterday, for example, one babe was having some separation issues. Baby was sitting on the caregiver's lap. Alex came over and starting stroking her and talking to her. She started engaging her in some play. The caregiver took that opportunity to put Baby down. Baby felt confident enough to start crawling around. Alex stayed with the baby to make sure she was doing ok, even after the facilitator told her she didn't have to.

Tonight we were listening to the CD "Free to Be.. You and Me". I've just been exposed to this CD from the 70s and I love it. I got the CD and book from the library and am on the lookout for the DVD to borrow - or get at a good price. YouTube had all the clips, but they've been taken down.... :(

We listened to the whole thing - and read along in the book when the songs/stories were in there. At the end Zach asked to listen to "It's Alright to Cry" again. (The book shows a bunch of pictures of people with crying, tears on their cheeks.) The kids and I listened to that song one more time. Sitting there with one beautiful soul snuggled on each side of me was such an amazing moment. Can someone PLEASE figure out how to bottle that?!

After the song was done we started to get ready for bed. Alex went to the bathroom and I took Zach in to change his diaper and get some PJs on. I was humming "William's Doll". Zach asked me to hum "It's Alright to Cry". As he was asking his chin started to quiver. I asked if he liked that song. More quivering. "Yes," he said. Then came the tears. Such a sweetie. I just held him as he cried softly. "It's ok. Shhh. It's ok, Sweetie. Shhhh." He was so tired by this point. I put him in his crib, turned on his fishies, made sure he had Fifo to snuggle, pulled up his machine blanket, did 'The Night Garden' on his palm, gently ran my fingers through his hair and softly said, "Goodnight. I'm going to tuck Alex in and I'll be right back."

He was off in dreamland by the time I peeked back in. :)

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Look where you want to go

In my past life as a sales trainer, I used to use skid control to illustrate my point about goals. I would ask how many people had experience with winter driving. Most hands went up. I asked how many people have ever lost control. Again, most hands went up. I asked how many people have ever been taught skid control. A few hands would go up.

I would take people along with me visually as we were driving in the winter. We were driving along and then... we lose control. We're in a skid. Out of control. Careening toward a snowbank or tree or pole or whatever struck my mood that day. What do you do? What are you supposed to do?

You're supposed to look where you want to go. Not at the snowbank or tree or pole you're rushing toward. Obviously you want to be aware those are there, but you don't want to focus on them. Look where you want to go and your body will adjust itself and get you there. This is a perfect metaphor because if you keep focused on your goal(s) your mind will adjust itself and get you there.

Now, why am I bringing this up? Well, years of using this metaphor in class paid off last night. I was driving to my Photoshop course along a fairly main - yet unplowed - road. I was only going about 30-35km/hr because of the state of the road.

The road curved. I was following the tracks all the other cars had made. I was just thinking in my head, "I hate being the lead car! So much pressure not to lead everyone into the ditch..." Then... the tracks lead me right to the edge of the pavement. My tire caught and I was out of control. The car turned toward on coming traffic. I steered and overcorrected slightly and was suddenly off the road. Staring me in the face was a telephone pole. I was going right for it. Then my words came back to me. "Look where you want to go." I stopped thinking and looked toward the road. No accelerator. No brake. Then, easy on the accelerator. I didn't stop. I would have been stuck if I did. I saw the cars behind had slowed right down and I had plenty of room to get back on the road. And that's what happened. I got back on the road. (Thank goodness for courteous drivers.) I continued on my way to class.

Believe it or not I was calm the whole time!

All in all, last night was a pretty good night. It could have been a hell of a lot worse.

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Thursday 18 February 2010


Here I go. I'm going to bare my darkest secrets. True confession time.

I liked Titanic. There. I said it. I saw it a number of times. In the theatre. I drove from Kitchener to Mississauga more than once (three times, I think) to see on the BIG big screen. These were the days when the big, stadium seating theatres were fairly new and Kitchener didn't have one yet.

Normally when I hear a Celine Dion song I want to drive chopsticks through my eardrums, but I like 'My Heart Will Go On'. And 'You and I (Were Meant to Fly)'. Go ahead. Judge me. I don't care. I'll belt those babies out driving along in the car.

Speaking of Titanic, I love disaster flicks. They are my guilty pleasure. I love them all: Volcano, Armageddon, The Day After Tomorrow, The Storm, Knowing... All of them. I even enjoyed The Core. (Now there you go getting all judgy again...)

My husband and I took undeclared fruit across the border. I know! It was risky. (Actually, we didn't realize it until we got across.) We took apples and other miscellaneous fruit with us on our super-duper, marathon honeymoon road-trip.

While we're on the subject of road trips, in high school my friend (who shall remain nameless, ahem) and I would skip the odd class and take a road trip. One such jaunt found us crossing over into Michigan at Port Huron. We hit the mall, had some lunch, turned around and came home. We totally would have gotten away with it if she hadn't absolutely had to keep the 'really, really cute' Burger King bag with some cartoon drawing on it. This bag? Ya. She forgot it in my car. My dad? Ya. He totally found the bag. Me? Totally grounded. Thanks nameless friend.

Skipping school was a fairly regular thing, at least in my last year. I would skip with a friend or two and we'd head to Kitchener to meet up with my boyfriend. We'd go to KCI and catch a football game or hang out and then head home before school ended.

Oh ya. That boyfriend? My friend and I did something REALLY stupid the night we met him and his friends for the first time. Somehow we met up with them on 'The Square' in Goderich. They said they were looking for a place to party. We knew of a bush party going on just out of town. We hopped in THEIR Ford Bronco and took off for the middle of go-ahead-and-rape-and-kill-us-'cuz-no-one-will-hear-us-scream nowhere. Yes. You read that right. My teenage girlfriend and I hopped in an SUV with three teenage boys we had just met and let them drive us out of town to a bush in the middle of rural Huron County. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Then I dated this guy for about 6 years. (On and off.)

And that guy? I cheated on him when I was in college. Interesting thing, though? He cheated on me the exact same weekend. Needless to say, that was a pretty big, blinking, neon sign that our relationship needed to end. (That was the only time I've ever cheated on anyone. And I still can't believe I was THAT person.)

When I was about 7 or 8, maybe 9, I dunno, I really had to go to the bathroom, but I was all bundled up in my snowpants, winter jacket, boots.. the whole get-up. I don't know why I thought it would be a good idea, but I just went in my snowsuit. Really, really bad idea, by the way. Totally uncomfortable and totally embarrassing.

I hate showering. In fact, I find having to bother to shower very annoying. I never look forward to it. It really seems like a chore to me. Don't get me wrong. I do it. I just don't like it.

And 'sexy' double showering? Sooooo don't like that! One person gets to stand under the warm stream of water while the other person freezes? Not fun at all, let alone a turn-on... especially in the winter. Brrr!

I could totally spend all day (week? life?) just hanging out on the couch watching tv and watching movies.

I used to smoke. I know. Stupid. And I didn't even start when I was young and impressionable. I started in my second year of college. I smoked on and off for a bit. I smoked while I worked at the newspaper because, well, you have to. Everyone takes 'smoke breaks'. If you don't smoke, you really don't get much of a break - or at least feel guilty for taking one. I was never addicted though. Some people hate me for that. I could start and stop whenever I felt like it. Haven't smoked in years. It turns my stomach now. (Phew.)

I had a mild run in with postpartum depression after the birth of my second child. I had a bunch of 'triggers' around the time of his birth. He was born via an unplanned, last-minute c-section. We had just bought a house that we were renovating and moving into in the span of 3 weeks. I witnessed a robbery at gunpoint while I was in the mall with my 7 week-old and was actually the one that notified the mall staff that the robbery was happening. (I saw on the news later that night it had turned into a carjacking and had a school on lockdown when the suspects fled through the grounds.) And I had JUST signed off from being under the care of my wonderful midwives. In fact, the mall is where I went after my last appointment with them. I had been warned by my primary midwife that many cases of PPD start after the 6 week mark - after they say goodbye to us. I thought, 'I'll be fine.' Nope. It got me.

I used to be who I was based on who I was with. I would change depending on who I thought I should be. I even bought skiis because I had a boyfriend who loved skiing. I think I used the skiis once. Finally, in my mid-thirties, I'm really realizing who 'me' is. And you know what? I like me. And as hard as it is for me to deal with most of the time, I'm really trying not to worry about people that may not.

There are other things I could confess, but my parents do read this you know. (Hi Daddy.)

And, even at 36, I still worry about what Mommy and Daddy think of me. I hope I didn't shatter any images with this post... (They probably knew most of this already.)

What are YOUR dark secrets? Go ahead. I won't tell. :)

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Family Day super-duper special dinner

For Family Day, not only did the kids get to eat in front of the tv, they got to eat on the floor in front of the big tv. And they got to eat on special tray tables. And they got to eat popcorn chicken, fries and fruit. And they got to watch 'Up'. They were happy campers. And so were we. It was a fun night. :)

Our big boy was so proud!

Zach wore underwear today for the first time! He was so proud he marched right into the bathroom, whipped down his pants and held up his shirt so his sister could see. First thing out of his mouth when Daddy walked in the door? Not "hi", but "I'm wearing underwear, Daddy!"

Oh, and two hours after these pictures were taken he was back in diapers.... He'd gone through two pairs of underwear by that point. Oh well. Baby steps.... Baby steps.....

Saturday 13 February 2010

A sign that we really need to go outside more!

Zach and I were walking through the schoolyard on the way to get Alex. Our shadows were in front of us. I said, "Can you make your shadow wave? I can. Look." And I made my shadow wave. Zach made his wave as well. Then I asked, "Can you make your shadow dance?" Zach replied, "But we don't have a dance mat."

Saturday 6 February 2010

Not a happy camper...

Jean-Paul and I just finished installing Alexandria's new car seat. Normally Alex would be happy with anything new. Not this time. This is a step back for her. We had her in a booster for a while because we read literature that stated once she reached 40" she could go into a booster. Nope. Not the case. She needs to be 40 pounds no matter what to be in a booster. She is no where near 40lbs yet. She's still only around 34lbs.

She loved being in a booster. She had much more freedom to reach books, toys and such in the back seat. And - big bonus - she could reach things for her brother. Which Daddy and I LOVED! Now she'll be restricted again with the 5-point harness.

I did have some concerns about the safety of the booster anyway, so this makes me feel better. I didn't like how the shoulder strap threaded through. I really didn't trust it to tighten adequately in case of an accident or sudden stop.

We my parents got her a Graco Nautilus 3-in-1. It's a 3-in-1 because it goes from front-facing harness to high-back booster to backless booster. It does come in pink, too, but don't tell Monkey... She wanted pink, but we told we had to get grey. (We want Zach to be able to use it, too. I know, I know. It shouldn't matter... gender smender... but I just can't picture him in a pink seat.)

I like this seat so far. It has two 'hidey holes' in the side for little toys and such. Alex loves this feature, too. The cup holder is positioned at the right front and not the side. It will be easier for Alex to reach - and doesn't interfere with the door, as the Eddie Bauer did, by sticking out to the side too much.

It was the easier car seat I've ever installed - and we had to use the lap/shoulder belt and a locking clip. Alex can also get herself out, which is nice for us. That might be a downside to some other people. She will also be sitting a bit higher in this seat, I think. She should like that. And it has better side support for her head. It remains to be seen whether this will help when she falls asleep in the car. I hope it does. Don't their necks look like little chicken-necks when they sleep?!

The big downside to this seat - and any seat that has to accommodate "tall" children - is the price. Holy crapcakes! The seat was $259! Oh, and by "tall", I mean not fat. Alex is by no means tall. In fact, she is still the shortest girl in her SK class. She's just tall for her weight. She may never make it out of the harness seat. She might just be in it until she's 8 and out of the car seats completely at this rate!

Thursday 4 February 2010

It's broken: The (ongoing) saga of a case study in abysmal customer service

Disclaimer: This a long (and not-yet proofread) post, but I feel better.

So. Ya. Where to start? How about the beginning, shall we?

I'm currently taking Photoshop I at Conestoga College. I'm on week 4 of a ten-week course. I have failed to 'obtain' a copy of Photoshop, so I resigned myself to the fact I* was going to have to sell one of my children purchase the software. Obviously having the appropriate software at home makes taking a software course infinitely easier.

Last Monday night (Jan 25th) - before my course at a satellite campus - I went to their excuse for a bookstore. I walked in, thereby interrupting the employee as she was having what I assume was her dinner. I asked about the software. "Oh. You'll have to call the main campus bookstore. We don't have that information here." Alright. Weird. Whatever. I went on my way. Halfway down the hall I thought... Um... Shouldn't you have offered to call the main campus for me?! But (as I just mentioned) I was halfway down the hall and I was too lazy on my way to class at that point.

The next day (Tuesday the 26th if you're on the ball) I called the main campus bookstore at around 11am. Voicemail. Fun. Left a message requesting the information I needed and for them to call me back. I have another course on Tuesdays so I wasn't here when they called back AT 7:45 PM! (They close at 8pm). And they wouldn't give the information to our babysitter. Like it's some covert operation and they can't disclose that I might possibly be looking into buying Adobe software! "OMG! I want a divorce!! How DARE YOU not tell me you were costing Adobe Photoshop! That's it!! And I'm taking the kids!!!"

A couple days go by and the next time I think to call is Friday. I call in them morning and get - you guessed it - voice. mail. So, I left a message. Again. With all the pertinent information. Again. This time I say, "And please leave a message if someone else answers." Friday goes by. No call back. They close at 4pm on Fridays.) I call back after 5 and leave another polite(ish) yet to-the-point voicemail about serving their customers...

So. That brings us to Monday (a week later if you're doing the math). I call and actually get someone! Wow! Anyway, Becky** asks me what it was I am looking for. I let her know Adobe Photoshop. Her response (as she's obviously writing this down) "OK, that was Photo...." "Shop" I say. For the love of Papa Smurf, this girl has never heard of Photoshop... Then she proceeds to look up books about Photoshop. "All we have in stock is Photoshop... whatever it was called." "Um... It's software. I'm also looking to have Illustrator and InDesign in the package." I think this is where I completely lost her. "Let me get Tony**. He's the purchaser for the software." "Ya. You do that."

Tony gets on the phone with me. He explains there is Design Standard and Design Premium and there's a hundred dollar difference between the two. The only thing really that's different is Adobe Acrobat somethingorother and it's not that big of a deal. He asks if those three are the only ones I'm interested. I tell him they are. He lets my know Standard is the way to go. OK. I let him know to go ahead and order Standard. There's $100 deposit needed. OK. Can I just pay by credit card or do I need to come down to the campus. "It's best if you come here." He says. That caught me off guard. Then he's just about to hang up, so I jump in with "Would you like my name and number again."

Oh ya, I also let Becky know I had left a couple message and to just disregard them.

So, of course, about a half hour later, I get a call. From the college bookstore. They're returning my message. That I told them to disregard. Anyway, it's a good thing, because I want to put an order in for the software and I give the new girl my credit card for the deposit. (Funny how it wasn't an issue anymore...)

Monday night I go to my course. There a have a chance to talk to the instructor and actually look at the differences between Standard and Premium. It's the difference between Photoshop and Photoshop Extended. Premium also comes with Dreamweaver - which I may want to use later. I call first thing the next morning, hoping to catch Tony before he puts in the non-refundable, non-returnable, final-sale order for Standard. Guess what happened?.... Go ahead, guess..... I'll wait for you....  Yes! You are correct! Voicemail, people. Voicemail. Midday... Again... Voicemail. Left another message. Early evening... Called again. Human! Not Tony, but a human. Explained that I didn't want Standard, but Premium and that I'd left a couple messages already. I was left with the impression all would be fine. That was Tuesday (Feb 2nd).

That brings us to today. Thursday, February 4th. I get a call that my software is in. Nice! Considering I was told it would be late this week/early next before it would be in. AND super nice because I have an assignment due on Monday and it would be really helpful to have the software here, so I don't have to trudge to the main campus on the weekend to do my work.

My gut is telling me all is likely not ok, so I ask, "It is Design PREMIUM?". I'm told yes it is. So, the kids and I eat supper. I pack them up and drive 20 minutes to the main campus. We park and we walk... and walk... Anyone who's been to a campus knows you don't park anywhere near where you need to go, right?! And it's close to bedtime, so this is really fun. :/

We get into the bookstore and the first associate-girl is not sure where the heck it could be, so nice associate-girl 2 brings out my Design..... wait for it..... STANDARD. I try to keep it together. (At the same time I am trying to wrangle two very short people and get to them to NOT TOUCH anything.)

I go through the process with her... spoke to Tony and someone else (apparently not associate-girl 2) and ordered. Realized that evening all was not disclosed about the differences and tried everything I could to get the message through in time to the appropriate person. (Obviously that didn't happen.) And the person I (finally) spoke with to change to Premium was associate-girl 2 herself.

My exact words to her were, "Excuse me for being blunt, but it's not my fault as a customer that your system sucks. Put those Smarties back and DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING!" (Ok. That last part wasn't to her directly.)

I also relayed the fact that I was VERY unimpressed with packing up my kids, driving to the main campus, trudging to the bookstore AFTER I'd tried to make sure it was going to be the correct package when I got there. "Again. Your system is broken."

Where has it been left? Well, the 'final-purchase' software is not being purchased and they are ordering Premium - which should be there just in time for me to have to have done my assignment in the computer lab at the college instead of at home...

The kids and I walked around campus for a bit - so they could 'explore' and I could scope out the computer labs and find out which ones have Adobe on them.... Guess where I'll be at some point this weekend?!

Oh - and get this, when I went up to the information desk? The information guy saw me and then WALKED AWAY! He proceeded to talk to some other college dude for a couple minutes first... And I found 'information guy' is a bit of a misnomer...

*By "I", I mean "my parents" because they have graciously offered to buy the software for me! Yay for awesome parents. (Yes, I'm 36.... At least I don't live in their basement!)

**Names have been changed to protect me. Since I don't have my software in hand yet - and it is WAY cheaper to buy as a student through the college - I'm going to play a bit nice. ;)

Do you have any "fun" cusomter service stories to share?!

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Smarter than Bart Simpson

Today Zach was a bit whinier than usual and he wasn't eating very well. (Which means he ate almost nothing.) He even left blueberries uneaten!

So I asked: How does your tummy feel?
Zoo: Not good. It hurts. It doesn't feel good.
Mommy: How does your ear feel?
Z: Not good. It has bubbles in it.
M: How does your foot feel?
Z: Not good. It still hurts from when I hit it.
M: How do your ovaries feel?
Z: I don't have ovaries.
M: How is your bum?
Z: Good.