Monday, February 25, 2008

Ten Things I Love That Begin With The Letter...

Ten Things I Love That Begin With the Letter M.

Mo gave it to me. Comment here and I'll give you a letter, too.

In alphabetical order:

I love to read, but don't often feel that I can give up as much time as it takes to read a book (unless it's for book club or something). I'm not someone who can pick up a book and read a chapter and then put it down, so it's a day-long endeavor for me! Magazines, on the other hand, are full of little self-standing stories and articles and even if I *do* read the whole thing, it's a lot shorter than a book anyway. :)


Long before Blues Clues made it famous, magenta was my favorite color (thanks, Crayola!). It's not really my favorite now, but I do still love it--and I like saying it! (ditto for vermilion, but that's not an M word...)

I love to shop and now that our local mall has become a "town center", I enjoy shopping there even more! I do still love regular malls, too. I remember being 14 years old and visiting my first mall ever. I thought I was in heaven!

Well, specifically my marriage. :) I didn't know how else to get G. into the list! But I really, truly do love being married and my marriage in general. Color me happy.

When G. and I were in college (where we met), we were both pre-Physical Therapy majors. (Neither of us got into the program--their loss!) Part of our pre-PT training included learning how to give massages. Needless to say, it totally rocks to have a husband who not only gives massages, but gives professional massages!

I was pregnant three times and (despite any complaints at the time) I loved all three of my pregnancies. I loved eating for two; I loved wearing maternity clothes; I loved feeling the baby moving inside of me. I loved being pregnant!

Although I'm a certified Science teacher, I've been tutoring HS Math and Science and I've found that I really, really love the math part! I wish I'd stuck with it and done Calculus, and I'd love to go back (although I fear that my brain wouldn't wrap around Calculus at this point...).

Meerkat is the nickname we have for M. After years of hemming and hawing over whether we wanted a third child or not, we're pretty darn happy that we had one. :)

My major in college was Secondary Broadfield Science and my minors were Biology and Chemistry. The last class I took for my Biology minor was Microbiology, because I didn't think it sounded very interesting. It turned out to be my favorite Biology class ever and if I had taken it any earlier, I'd probably have changed my major!

Specifically, my mom! She's been my inspiration for parenting and she still is the first one I call when I have something good (or bad) to share.

That was fun! I almost thought about making a list of 10 Things I Hate That Begin With the Letter M, but that can wait... Leave a comment and I'll give you a letter!

DirecTV rant

I was complaining on an email list about how I cannot wait until our DirecTV contract expires so I can switch and never, never, never give them any more of our money, when someone asked why I hated DirecTV so much.

So I wrote it up:

We have had DirecTV for about 5 years now. The first
few years were a gift from my brother, so I had no
idea how much it cost. Then he moved and (insert long
story here) my mom was paying for it for us. As my
mom was nearing retirement, I didn't think she needed
to be paying our cable TV bill, so I told her we'd
take it over. I was floored at what she was paying
(even with no premium channels or HD or
anything) and so I did some price comparing and
decided to go with Dish Network. (it was a LOT
cheaper) Dish has this cool thing where one DVR works
on two TVs, so we could record stuff and then (at
least theoretically) watch them in the livingroom OR
our bedroom. Unfortunately, we had a lousy installer
and whether due to the fact that our house has plaster
walls or that we're very near three TV broadcast
towers, we could never get it to work. So we
canceled (in the 30 day trial period) and went back
to DirecTV, since we knew that it would work in our house.

Since then, I have been on the phone with DirecTV every month,
complaining about how they have incorrectly billed us.

We were offered an additional $10 off a month for our
first year (of a 2 year contract). That $10 came off
once, but then disappeared. I am STILL working (15
months later) to get the credit applied because
although it's listed as a "12 month programming
credit", it only comes off when I call about it.

We were offered HBO at $10 off a month (it's $13 a
month) for six months. So we took that deal, but they
again "forgot" to apply that credit. We ended up with
the "deal" extended, but we also paid several months
at full price due to their oversight.

We had to sign a 2 year contract with DirecTV. Now,
if it's a contract, doesn't that mean that you're
locked into pricing? Apparently not. We signed up
for a package at $42.99 and it has since that time,
it's risen to $47.99 a month. To compensate for the
"inconvenience of our price increase", they offered
another monthly credit for six months. You guessed
it--a year later, I'm still calling to try to get that
applied EVERY month as it appears for one month and
then vanishes.

The DVR is a piece of crap. After we had it two
weeks, it completely stopped working. I can't count
the number of calls put into customer service for
that, before they finally told me they'd send out a
different DVR (they'd have to charge my account for
it, but would refund the money after I packaged up,
drove to a shipping center, and mailed back the
defective one). Imagine my surprise when they
replaced my *new* DVR with a reconditioned one.

And three months later, it died, too. I should
mention that we had spent three months recording
movies from HBO to get our money's worth, and all of
those movies were GONE.

Our DVR still doesn't work completely correctly. We
can watch things, but it will flake out and miss
recording things or will record multiple copies,
filling up the memory, at will. But I still have
movies to watch, so I'm not sending it back. I'm sure
it's out of warranty by now anyway.

This latest thing was the worst. The one thing that I
can say is that, though I am on the phone with
customer service for an average of 45 minutes every
month, at least the employees are polite and they DO
apologize and at least attempt to apply a credit to my

I had called in when January's bill was again missing
our credit. The CS person apologized and told me that
she'd made a note on my account to start up a
new/different credit in February and told me that it
should be fine, but if I didn't receive the credit in
February, to call back at that time.

You guessed it--no credit in February. The CS person
apologized and transferred me to the customer
retention department (heh... they need a whole
DEPARTMENT to do that? doesn't that tell you
something?) and I was connected to the most rude woman
I have ever spoken with. She wouldn't let me speak.
I told her that I was late for a doctor's appointment
and I asked that she finish applying the discount and
simply email me to let me know it was resolved
(they've done that before) and she YELLED at me,
telling me that my rudeness was assuring that
SHE would work that much slower to resolve the issue.
She told me that I was not the only customer in the
world and that I wasn't entitled to anything, but she
would SEE if she could figure things out. She refused
to give me her name and every time I tried to say
anything, she spoke over me.

So today I finally called back today and after another 45
minutes, I got a one-time $60 credit. I sure hope
this resolves it--and I'm counting the days until our contract
expires and I can switch to another provider (September 23, 2008, btw).

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Flooded Road

This has been, far and away, the strangest winter I can remember.

We were planning to go on a "mini-vacation" to a local water park (just a half hour's drive away) and woke up to the road in front of our house flooded:It had been raining most of the night which, on top of the melting snow, caused quite a back-up:
Add in the fact that certain workers did not do an exceptional job clearing the storm sewer drains, and you get flooded streets. We called the village, and they said, "we've got people on it".

After another hour, G. and I went out and got soaked and sore, but shoveled and chipped out our storm sewer drains. By the time we actually left on vacation, our side of the road was "dry".
But our sidewalks are still under water.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

M's story

Our local PBS station (maybe it's all PBS stations?) does a yearly Writer's Contest for kids in grades K-3. This year the top prize in each grade wins a laptop computer. I told M. about the contest and she was very excited! I explained that the book has to have at least 50 words and at least 5 colorful pictures illustrating it. The instructions say that the text can be handwritten, or typed on a computer, so M. started typing hers out.

This is her story--all in her own words, typing and spelling by her:

A butterfly friend’s with a flower
Once there was a butterfly that had a friend, which
was a flower.
The flower said I love you to the butterfly. The
butterfly said
I love you to! The flower and butterfly were happy.
Loved each other. They lived together. They knew each
Other well. They loved each other so much. They liked
Living together. They love each other so much!

(me again)
As adorable as it is, I don't think it's contest-winning material (yet)!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Celebration of Learning

T's class had a "Celebration of Learning" yesterday afternoon. The kids got a chance to show off some of the things they've been working on in school.

First we went to the computer lab, where they showed up the Power Point presentations they've been working on in Social Studies:

Then any of the kids who played instruments could do a demonstration, so T. played his violin:
All the kids have been learning about advertising and marketing of products. They paired up and came up with commercials for products they invented. T. and his friend created the Miceaway 3000 mouse trap:
Then they sang and danced to a song they'd learned in music class:
Then each kid read a poem or two that they'd written about someone special in their lives. Here's T., reading his:
And his poems were:


Wife, teacher, mom, sister

Creative, smart, enthusiastic, fun

Lover of cooking

Who believes in honesty

Who fears centipedes

Who wants to be successful

Who gives happiness

Who says “I love you”



Helpful, loving

Helps, cooks, plays Guitar Hero

Helps me do my best


Then they sang another song:

And all the families posed for pictures:

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Super sized sandwich

G. and I went to a (couples) baby shower a few weeks ago, and there were a TON of scrumptious goodies to snack on. One of the coolest things, however, was this giant, warm, gooey sandwich. The hostess kindly gave me the "recipe" and I've made them twice already!

You buy foccacia bread at your local bakery (ours is from Pick N Save--the foccacia is not thin like classic foccacia, but taller and just topped with cheese and other stuff) and cut it in half lengthwise. On the bottom, spread flavored cream cheese (I used onion and chive). Top that with your choice of lunchmeat (this time I used ham, salami and pepperoni; at the party some had just ham and some had just turkey), choice of veggies (I sauteed onions and peppers and then stirred in some picked sandwich peppers), and choice of cheese (I used mozzarella this time). Place in a warm oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cheeses are nice and melty. Cut into wedges and serve. Here's what the inside looks like:

It was such a hit the first time that I made two the second time. The best flavor foccacia at the party was a jalapeno cheddar one, but I couldn't find those either time at my store. This is a tomato and parmesan one.

I served it with assorted potato chips and grapes.

Friday, February 08, 2008

A haircut--of necessity

T's hair was just starting to get long again:
But this week we shaved it to half an inch:

Why? Because I got a phonecall yesterday from the clinic at school, telling me that one of T's classmates was found to have head lice, so they checked the whole class and found nits on T. (and four other classmates).

Me and my big mouth--saying earlier this year that we'd been able to avoid lice because anytime one of "the notes" came home from school, I washed all my kids' hair with Tea Tree Oil shampoo. I didn't get a chance this time--I hadn't heard anything about lice until the phonecall to pick Trav up.

So it's been a crazy 24+ hours, spent shampooing, combing and checking heads and then stripping every bed in the house, washing all bedding and hats and coats in HOT water (turned up the water heater), then drying on high, and then sending to the attic for below-freezing temps (Yes, I know I go overboard on this kind of stuff, but I'd rather be safe than sorry...).

This week has really sucked...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Will this winter ever end?

Yesterday we had yet another big snow storm. This one had been predicted pretty well and almost all local schools (including the kids' and G's) were closed, as well as malls, libraries, museums and almost anywhere you'd want to be!

Unfortunately, the snow didn't come right away--it started with slushy, rainy stuff, which then froze under the snow. Up to 20 inches were predicted--officially we only got 12.5 inches, but I beg to differ.

And then the wind came, causing all sorts of drifting. G. and I were out shoveling at least three times and it just kept coming.

Here's some pictures from today--after the clean-up. Look at the snow on the roof:
Snow banks so high that we can't get car doors open unless we park far on the side of the driveway:
Snow in the yard is up about two feet and that's ice on the sidewalks under the snow:
This one is out our kitchen window at the neighbor's Arbor Vitae "fence" between our properties. Tons of heavy, wet snow is bending the bushes in half:
And record-breaking cold and wind-chills are forecasted for the weekend. This winter has been the worst that I can remember.