Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thank Goodness for Small Towns

One of the negatives I've had since taking over the daycare is simply the fact that for most of the day, I am house-bound. Because although I could probably fit most of the kids…almost legally…in the suburban, the fact is I am not crazy enough, nor do I have the energy, to pack up 10 kids ages 1-4 and go anywhere. This can get especially hard when it comes to things like making it to the drug store.

I prefer to use the drug store in town, because I don't want to have to drive 25 miles whenever I need my meds filled. (Which is more often than I would like) They close at 6 during week, and around 4 on Saturdays, I think, so if I need to pick one up during the week, I don't have much time depending on when the last of the kids leave. And, of course, I am the type that usually forgets to call in the refill until I am completely out. As was the case when I called in to refill my prescription that I take daily to try & prevent my migraines. That is probably the second most important prescription that I have…my Maxalt, what I take when I actually have a migraine would have to rank number one. The cholesterol meds…which I also ran out of yesterday…can wait until the 8th when Chris' new insurance kicks in, but the migraine meds I get with or without insurance.

So, I pulled up to the drug store with about 10 minutes to spare and reach for my purse to grab my wallet out of it….but it wasn't there. I forgot to put it away after I had ordered something online earlier. So, I went in anyway. And the gal grabbed my prescription (without me even having to give her my name….a combination of the small town and the small fortune my family spends in that store!). I said, "I went to grab my wallet, but it wasn't there. I'm completely out, though. Is there anyway I could have Chris drop off a check in the morning on his way to work?" She said sure, and handed me my meds. It's times like this I really like this small town!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Honey is Better

So, in complete contrast to my recent Alltel experience, I thought I'd share a couple of nice experiences I had when we went up to the Cities a couple of weeks ago. Because, for me at least, I really like to think that you can "catch more flies with honey", although I am often forced to get a little negative to get what I feel is right.

We stayed at the Park Plaza Hotel…I got the rooms on Priceline for $37 each, so I admit I was already liking them. But as I was brining in our stuff to mine & the babies room, I snagged my shirt on a nail that was sticking out of the closet door jam. That did irritate me a little, but let's be honest, 96.7% of my clothes either come from a consignment store or the clearance racks, so I doubt I paid more than $10.00 for it, and I'd had it for a while, so it's not like I was out a lot. I was also a little irritated the next morning to find out they actually charged me .80 per local phone call, I didn't realize any hotels still did that. But I was mostly irritated because I did have my cell phone with me, I just didn't use it. Before we left the next morning, though, I did stop by to let them know about the nail. When I told him that it snagged my shirt, he looked a little worried, but I assured him it wasn't a big deal, I just didn't want it to happen to anyone else. He had already pulled up the room and said, "well there are $2.40 in extra charges to your room, I can at least take those off." What a nice surprise…I wasn't even going to mention the phone charges!

Then we stopped at Famous Dave's on the way home for a late lunch. I had ordered a cup of Wild Rice soup as an appetizer. But when they brought our meals out 10 minutes later, I knew he obviously forgot about the soup. Since I was not in immediate danger of withering away from starvation, and since the meal arrived so fast, I didn't say anything. I did check the bill, though, to make sure he didn't charge me for it, which he didn't, so all was good. But when he came back to take my payment, he was carrying a Styrofoam container. He apologized for forgetting the soup, and had brought me a free bowl of soup to take home. I realize he probably wanted to ensure a good tip after he realized he had forgotten it, and I did make sure to tip appropriately.

Why more businesses can't do this sort of thing, too, before we consumer's have to get angry and make 10 phone calls to get things corrected.

I Won!

Okay, so I may have had to impersonate myself as my 13 year old son, and hack into the email address Chris had set up for the boys, but after way too many phone calls & emails to Alltel regarding the mysterious "Data Access" charges (or is it axcess…I find it strange that workers in their tech department don't know how to spell access, as they typed it wrong both times, so I don't think it is just a typo. Can we say Spell Check.)

Here is their response:

Hello Tyler,

Thank you for sending the information we requested. Accept our apologies because this reply has taken more than usual to reach you. The volume of e-mails we have received in the last days made impossible for us to reach you sooner. We have received your e-mail regarding the Alltel mobile number 507320****. We understand that you would like to know detailed information about data airtime, the links you have accessed and a credit for the charges. We apologize, for any inconvenience you may have experienced.

We will be happy to assist you in this matter. Those data airtime charges are related usually to the use of multimedia messages (pictures and video messages) and the use of the axcess apps of the phone (this is use to view ring tones, ring backs, music, games etc), however; the internet access of your phone was blocked but not this applications or features, we have blocked the handset capacity to send multimedia messages and access the axcess apps feature to avoid the airtime charges. On January the eight you receive a credit of $4.00 dollars for airtime charges, we have credited your account $10.00 dollars and the 32 bonus minutes for the inconvenience.

In order for the changes to work please turn off and on your phone. Feel free to check this information on your prepaid account.

Thank you for making use of our services and please let us know if we can be of further assistance. Thanks for choosing Alltel U Prepaid as your wireless service provider. We appreciate your business.

Douglas A.
Alltel U Prepaid Customer Support.

And, I realize we are not talking about a huge amount of money. It was the just the point (and that I want to win, of couse); I am not going to pay for a bunch of charges when they cannot even tell me exactly what the charges were for. In this response, they still even say the charges are USUALLY related to multimedia messages, which makes me think they seriously don't know!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What DID they do before TV?

Look, 2 posts in one day! There is a very good reason for this... I re-found a DVD we've actually had for quite a while that is full of 33 minutes of toddler songs & sing-a-longs. The kids have already watched the entire thing once, and are about half-way through the second time.

I had time to clean up the kitchen after lunch, and even sweep the floor!

This DVD has the alphabet song on it, too...maybe I can count that as pre-school activities if I play it every day?!

I admit, that even when they aren't watching a special DVD, there is usually either Disney Channel or Nick jr on one of the TVs, but they won't usually all sit and watch a whole episode of anything on those channels, so it is mostly ends up being background noise.

Too Fast

Caleb was almost 1 1/2 when he decided he was too big for his high chair. Apparently, Baylee wants to be an over-achiever. Today, I went to put her in her high chair for lunch, she started screaming. I set her on the chair, I thought for just a minute to calm down, and she sat down and motioned for her plate. She's only 16 1/2 months! She's moving a little too fast for me. I'm getting too old & too tired to have any more babies on a permanent basis, so I would like her to remain a baby for as long as possible!

Plus, I might be a little more excited about it, but I can't even get rid of the high chair since there are still a couple of daycare kids who will use it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sloppy Joes

My boy understands what Sloppy Joe's are all about:

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fashion News?!

So, first, I feel I should admit that I did not watch the inauguration on Tuesday. I really can't stand presidential speeches…or any political speeches if you want to know the truth. I really don't care what you say you're going to do, I care more about what you actually manage to accomplish. I realize it was a momentous event, the first black president & all, but I was still more than content to just watch the 2 minutes of it that made it on the nightly news.

What really got me, though, was that on Wednesday, during the combined 30 minutes that I actually got to sit down, or stand in one place, long enough to even see much of the Today show, and other news shows, is that on at least 3 occasions, they were discussing what Michelle Obama was wearing. And what their girls were wearing. In fact, in the total amount of time I did watch TV on Wednesday, I believe they only actually discussed the actual inauguration once.

I realize that the media does almost the same thing with what Hollywood stars are wearing to big events, too, and although I really don't like that either, at least that is an industry that is really known for how they look. But, am I really supposed to believe that what most Americans were wanting to know about the new president, is what clothing his wife & daughters are wearing? I find that mighty sad.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I received an envelope from the MN Department of Health last week. I got a little excited, could it be the birth certificates I've been waiting four months for? Of course not. It was the application for Baylee's birth certificate being sent back to me because the Court Administrators office forgot to sign it. I called to see once I had it notarized it could be faxed back. Since I had them on the phone, I also asked to see if Caleb's was notarized. She informed me that there was a problem with the adoption paperwork that was with his, and so his had been sent back to the county.

So long story short, it took them three months to the day to look at the applications for new birth certificates only to decide they both needed additional information. I'm a little concerned that it might take them another three months to look at the corrected paperwork.

I did have an idea, though. Because I have our estimated taxes done and we're supposed to be getting a very nice refund back, which I would like to have sooner rather than later. So I decided to call the IRS. (I only decided to call because they do not give out an email address for tax questions.) I waited on hold for 15 minutes last night, only to be redirected to an area that could not take my call because their call volume was too high. I'm guessing they cut it off at some point so that they don't end up sitting there for 2 hours after they close to answer questions. So I tried back today. It only took me 10 minutes to get through to the area I needed to talk to this time. It took her another 15 minutes to actually give me an answer.

She didn't seem 100% sure, but I did get her employee number, just in case. According to her, I should be able to file my taxes on time using the social security numbers they were issued at birth, but I need to use the name that is on the cards, which would be their birth names. She said that the worst thing that would happen is that if their biological mother tried to claim them as dependents, too, using the same social security numbers, then we'd each get a letter later in the year. The person who had the legal right to claim them, meaning Chris & I, would just have to send in documentation that we did adopt them. She would be the one who had to pay the money back with interest & penalties. I don't think that would happen, anyway. Do you even file a tax return if you have no job, no income, and no children?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Back to Normal

After last week, when the school kids did not even have one full day of school, it is VERY nice to be back to normal! Last week, school was cancelled on Monday & Thursday and they were 2 hours late the other three days. Yes, it was mighty frigid around here, but it really wasn't warming up any between 8 & 10, so I don't quite get why it was late.

The big kids aren't bad, but they just seem to throw off our routine. Combine that with the two of them that like to think they are the ones taking care of the pre-schoolers and the ones who think their poor little sister is being picked on by so & so, and I was very ready for them to go back to school.

It will be somewhat short lived, though. They are off again Friday this week and Monday next week. I guess I better enjoy these four days!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dear Wal-Mart Cashier

I am the customer you scolded on Saturday for going through the self checkout with 61 items. Now, I do realize that the self checkouts at your store do have a tag-board sign taped to them stating they are now for 25 items or less…that is part of the reason I chose to go to the lane furthest away from you, but also because that lane has a longer place to put the merchandise on. But, seriously, did you know that you are the only store I've ever been to, including many other Wal-Mart stores, that actually has the self checkout lanes labeled as 25 items or less? It was bad enough when your store moved the baby formula to the 10 items or less lane, and now you changed the self checkout lanes? I feel like you don't want people with large families…which usually means fuller shopping carts…to even shop there.

Now, in my defense, all of the other lanes with cashiers had lines with people waiting, and all but one of the six self checkout lanes were empty. Plus, I know that I can get my 61 items scanned through in about ½ the time that it takes most people to scan 25 items…I've been behind many of these people, and it is all I can do not to just walk up to them and say "please, just let me do it for you".

I realize you were just doing your job, and that's fine. But I promise you that if the situation arises again, I will do the same thing. (Thus the reason I did not actually tell you I was sorry, or that I would not do it again, I simply said, "no problem"). I just don't think it is good customer service for me to have to wait in line while 5 self checkout lanes remain empty.

Why do they make me be mean?

I mentioned that Tyler got a cell phone for Christmas – a pre-paid phone. The phone he REALLY wanted was $300, and since I am still relatively sane, there was no way he was getting that phone. So, his second choice was one he found online at Alltel. I was a little hesitant, because I had dealt with them when I worked for the City and did not have a very good experience. But, around here, they are the main carrier because they have the best reception (I do love the Verizon wireless "people" but even they have quite a few dead areas down here).

He loved his new phone, and started checking out the features as soon as it was out of the box. I got it all set up so we could see his charges & calls on line. As I started looking at it, though, we saw that there were several "Data Airtime" charges. It appeared initially that they had happened as he was finding all of the songs that he could download for his ring tones, so we told him he better just stick with the one he picked or he wasn't going to have any minutes left.

Since he had already said he would mainly be using it for texting, we decided to go ahead and add the option of 300 texts a month for $5. When I called to set that up, I also decided to ask exactly what the Data Airtime charges were for. I got a pretty vague answer about it having something to do with web access from his phone from a person who's first language was certainly not English, so I just let it go, figuring I'd call again another time and hopefully get somebody who spoke my language a little bit better.

I continued to check his account online, and came across more charges for Data Airtime, and this time there were nine of them all at the exact same time, totaling over $4.50. So I called again, and discovered that their call center must be located in another country, because this person also had a pretty thick accent. But I proceeded to ask her to tell me about these charges. She just kept repeating that it was for Web Access and we were charged .15 per minute for web access. But when I continued to question her about how we could possibly be charged for that nine time in the same minute, her answers again became very vague.

I asked her to tell me exactly what sites were visited during that minute, but she couldn't tell me that, and just kept repeating that it was .15 per minute and he must have kept going on and off to different links. I asked her if there was somebody else I could contact to find out what sites were accessed, she said no. Finally, I asked her to turn off the web access for that phone.

I checked the phone a day later, only to find yet another data airtime card, so I was forced to call again. The first time I called, I think I was pretty nice. The second time, I started out fairly nice, although, I admit by the end I was getting slightly irritated. I really do usually try to remember that the person answering the phone is just that, the person answering the phone; they really have no say in what or how things are processed. But, the more often I have to contact a company, the less friendly I get. So by the third phone call, I was not all that pleasant. This person did at least agree with me that the nine charges at the same time were obviously erroneous (his word, not mine) so he did credit me back $4. He did also confirm for me that the web access had been turned off. But he could not explain then what the data airtime charges were for.

I'm quite certain based on the times the charged hit the account that they are charging him when he turns on the phone if he has a text message waiting for him, because most of them have been at 3:07, which would be when he turns it on after school to see if I texted him changed with who is supposed to be coming to daycare after school. But, I still want them to admit that he is being charged for basically turning on his phone. No, the .15 per day is not going to break us, but by now, it's the principal of the matter.

So, I decided to turn to emails. At least then, every time I email, I can just add to what I've already said instead of having to repeat myself again. My first response from their email customer service? Sorry, we can't help you because that number is listed to another person . Huh? Who do you think set up that account? Me. Heck, Tyler doesn't even remember the log in information! And, they didn't seem to care whose name was on the account when they accepted a credit card for payment that had my name on it. But now, when I'm asking for an explanation & a refund, they can only speak with my 13 year old son???

I've emailed twice since them, the last time was earlier today. I just don't get why they make me be a bitch to them in order for them to resolve my issue. Although, after I've been trying to resolve an issue for a long time, it sometimes feels good to let off a little steam in their direction, but really, I'd much prefer to simply resolve it the first time I contact them in a friendly manner.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Update to Texting

After I spent all of that time learning to text Tyler, he didn't even get the texts! AND they did forget one of the kids. Luckily, the elementary principal only lives a few blocks away, so she brought him here. The funniest part is that his sister was in the truck...and nobody thought to ask why her brother wasn't there, too.


It was Tyler's birthday on Thursday. He is my New Year's baby, but he was not even close to being the first baby of the new year. And to be honest, I would have much rather had the last baby of the year, given that he was induced and all, but, I should probably let that go, since it happened 13 years ago and all.

I just can't believe he is 13 already!! I mean, he certainly acts like a teenager...but I'm just not old enough to have a teenager.

He finally rolled out of bed around 11 and was ready to open his gifts.

He got a MN Twins titanium necklace (which I didn't get a good picture of), a Packer's collectible figurinewhich Caleb claimed as his and a glass Dale Jr Nascar car, but his favorite by far were the Packer's tennis shoes. They were a little big, since he has small, skinny, size 5 or 5 1/2 half feet, but the smallest size the shoes came in was a 6 1/2. He didn't mind, though. He wore them all weekend.

The nice thing about him getting older, though, is that he picked Green Mill for his birthday meal instead of Happy Joes.

We hung out and played some games at home for a good share of the evening. And then it was cake time. Tyler had requested a Dairy Queen cake, and lucky for him I made it to the DQ on New Years Eve at 7:47...because they closed at 8 and were closed on the first.

First Tyler blew out his candles. Then Caleb had to blow out candles, as did Amata, of course. (Yes, it's blurry, it's hard to get that girl to be still for 1/2 a second to get a good picture.)

Once the candles were blown out for the third time, we finally got to enjoy some.


I just don't get it. Tyler got a cell phone for Christmas, but he doesn't actually like to talk on it, he just wants to text. So today, I needed to remind him who needed to come to daycare after school, and since he can't have the phone on during the school day, and he hasn't even set up the voicemail on it yet, I was forced to text him that information.

So I just spent the last 15 minutes texting him, "don't forget brian and kyle. no halle. hope and jacob too. and karli". Actually I had to send him 2 texts, because I forgot about Karli. How is this quicker or easier than just calling and actually speaking to people???

Now, I do realize that there were probably abbreviations that I could have used, but I didn't know where to find the symbols, nor do I have a texting dictionary. And, sure, it took longer since it was my first time....but still, I really don't think that texting is all that wonderful!