Monday, October 27, 2008

THIS is how I feel about Twilight...

The Deseret News just published this year's Bad Writing Contest winners. The whole list is worth a gander, as long as you bring a good airsickness bag along with you (I just got a pack of these for Beth to carry in the car). But the best one by far, IMO, is this:
When Bekka — sweet, adorable Bekka, scrapbooker, scripture chase champion, pure, innocent chaste Bekka, who made her own modest swimwear and provided Rice Krispie treats for every missionary homecoming — when Bekka announced her engagement to Ed, everyone in the ward knew it was right, because Ed was, as any fool could see, Bekka's perfect match: good looking, strong and a vampire.
         — Eric Samuelsen
Eric, whoever and wherever you are, you made my day.

Bethism #8

"Mommy, why do books have to have jackets?"

"To keep the book nice."

"Does it keep them warm, too?"

"Yes, it keeps them warm, too."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Trick-or-treating beta test

My friend Mindy figured we'd let the kids do a trick-or-treating run-through this week at a local nursing home. The girls were okay for the first few minutes, and then they realized they didn't know anybody there and freaked out. I tried explaining the mechanics of trick-or-treating: if you're nice to people, they'll give you candy. Nope. Nothing doing.

The church Halloween party on Friday was somewhat more successful (our M.C. dubbed the trunk-or-treat part of the evening "the world's largest fleet of haunted minivans"), though Beth wouldn't go near anything too creepy-looking, or loud, or flashy. Both kids brought home inordinate amounts of sugar, though, which we've been weeding through with a critical eye. Lollipops? Halloween Kit-Kat bars with the icky orange-colored white chocolate on the outside? Sure, they can have that. Junior Mints and Crunch bars? Mom and Dad had better confiscate those.

The party was a rousing success; the awesome professional storyteller we hired, Bruce Marcus, said it was "the best controlled chaos I've seen." (I'm still giggling over his "wereman" story, and the kids' enthusiastic, fist-pumping participation.)

Glad it's over, though. I carved two of our three pumpkins to use for table centerpieces: a kitty for Beth and a Totoro pumpkin for Sarah. The resulting pictures were so worth the carving hassle the night before....

Friday, October 24, 2008

Possibly the weirdest conversation I've had all week

We, the TV addicts we are, are up catching up on episodes of "Life," which is either cynical or exhilarating, and I'm still not sure which.

So on the screen, Charlie asks an animal activist why she's wearing leather shoes, and she says they're gym shoes, but it turns out they're really "Jim" shoes — Jim, the founder of the activist group, willed his body for manufacturing purposes to raise people's consciousness.

At this point Scott pauses the DVR and says, "Libby, when I die I want you to turn my skin into shoes and wear me."

"Can I dye them red?"

"Sure. But they won't hold the tan — they'll just crack and peel and be white again, like me."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Marie-Therese Gown

Oh my. Wouldn't Beth be adorable in THIS?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The eyeballing game

Okay, THIS isn't addictive or anything.

(My best score's a 2.52. Don't even ask how long it took me to get it.)

Make way for ducklings

We had this totally awesome (and stressful too, but then, what isn't?) week o' visitors: first Grandma and Gigi, then (hard on their heels) Sarah and Rob and Olivia. This is why I insisted on having a guest room. Makes it ever-so-convenient to have friends and family here, without the tiresome blow-up-the-air-mattress-and-have-people-changing-in-the-bathroom problems.

So it was a fun-filled week. We went apple picking,

went to the aquarium (which Beth pronounces "queearium"),

rode the T everywhere,

and also had glorious Italian food in the North End and went shopping in the Back Bay, where Gigi met a cute guy at Borders (wearing MY cute rain boots, thank you very much).

The crowning fun+stress glory: We ended up driving downtown to see the Make Way for Ducklings statues in the Public Garden. During rush hour. With carsick kids. Beth threw up once on the way downtown (in a plastic bag my mom held for her), once while we were walking around (in a Starbucks bag) and over and over and over on the way home (in an empty Starbucks cup). And she did it with such composure I wanted to hug her (but didn't since I was driving).

Totally worth all the puking, though, to see Sarah hug and kiss each of the ducklings in turn — some on their bronze-feathered duckling bottoms! (Gigi took photos; go bug her for them.)

Sarah is in love with the ducklings. Beth keeps asking when we're going to go back.

I think Grandma and Gigi both needed a Beth-and-Sarah fix. Beth, for her part, insisted on calling Gigi the next week to say that she missed her:

Rob, Sarah and Olivia arrived late Friday night, much to Beth's chagrin — she couldn't stand it that Liv was getting here after bedtime. On Saturday — possibly the last nice day of the year! — we went over to Bentley for the homecoming/alumni weekend carnival. The kids collected blue-and-gold bead necklaces from the cheerleaders, got their faces painted, saw some rather docile petting-zoo goats, and jumped in (or, in Beth's case, came out crying from) a bouncy house. Food was good. Game of dominoes after the kids tucked in for the evening was even better. Catching up with Rob and Sarah was great.

I have zero — ZERO — pictures of the weekend. Sarah brought her camera, and if you've seen her pictures you know why I didn't take any.


I'm going around the house closing all the storm windows, because it's becoming increasingly apparent that the warm weather is NOT coming back (well, not for months and months, anyway) and the cold is starting to affect my ability to type. And cook. And play with my kids. And do anything other than huddle under a blanket watching the Food Network. (Speaking of...if you haven't seen "The Chef Jeff Project," it's totally worth a gander.)

Sarah WILL NOT wear a hat. Or mittens.

Beth insists on wearing her hat, mittens, and scarf...even while inside. It's a good idea. I'm wearing a rather jaunty (well, in my mind anyway) black beret around the house myself. Goes with the black Halloween tee and the overall grimness outside.

I want the sky to stop being gray. August, August, wherefore art thou, August?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

If I play my cards right...

Sarah's had quite the day today.

1. She fell out of the car on her head. (I know: YIKES, right?) I think she caught her foot in the car seat straps when I told her to turn around and sit down so I could strap her in. She has a lump and a lovely scrape on her forehead, which only enhance her generally tomboyish appearance. This is a rough-and-tumble kid I've got, and as much as she likes her sparkly tennis shoes and ribbons in her hair, she's way more proud of being able to go down the big slide by herself. Forehead scrape? Part of the job, my friend.

2. While Scott was out picking Beth up from preschool, Sarah pointed to her diaper and grunted. We've learned that this usually means she's about to use the diaper, and in a flash of mommy brilliance I said, "Do you want to go potty on the potty?"


So I raced with her to the bathroom, stripped her down, and put her on the potty. Nothing happened. We were sitting there staring at each other when Beth and Scott came home. Beth was very impressed: "Sarah, you're sitting on the potty? You're a big girl." Sarah beamed.

Which leads to...

3. An hour later I was making grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch (the gourmet choice — Kraft singles and all) and talking on the phone. The girls were off doing goodness-knows-what. And then from the hall I heard, "Mama, Sarah goed wee-wee!"

Er...she did? I poked my head around the corner. There was a bare-bottomed Sarah, with her pants down around her ankles, grinning at me. Beth, proud as punch, was behind her holding her diaper. I scanned the floor: no puddle. (Please, please tell me the puddle isn't on the living-room rug.) I looked in the bathroom and saw this:

Toilet paper strewn about the bathroom, and a small yellow puddle IN THE POTTY. Beth had pulled Sarah's pants down, taken her diaper off, and helped her sit down. And then, to keep her company, Beth went on the big potty. I was cooking lunch, and they were having a potty party in the bathroom. Not feeling the love, here.

I laughed my head off for a good few minutes before finding a new diaper for Sarah. Both girls got M&Ms (Sarah says "Em-num-nums" now, which pretty much echoes how I feel about them) — Sarah for going in the potty, and Beth for helping her. By this time, of course, the cheese sandwich was burned beyond recognition.

At bedtime, with the house still smelling faintly of burned cheese, I was once again telling Beth what a good helper she had been. She was glowing. "I'm just like a mommy!"

If I play my cards right, this will be the easiest potty-training on record, because I won't have to do any of it. Beth will do it for me. Gigi says, "You knew you had her first for a reason."

(I do not, unfortunately, have a picture of Sarah bare-bottomed in the hall. At some point, caution trumps hilarity and potential teenage embarrassment.)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Customer disservice, part 2

...and here's the reply I got today:

Dear Libby,

Thank you for contacting H&M - we received your e-mail.

We apologize for the situation you encountered regarding our leggings, and H&M is grateful for your honesty. Unfortunately, H&M does not have on line shopping in the US and no transactions are processed outside of our stores. We regret this information was not supplied to you immediately in a customer service friendly manner.

H&M is appreciative of your willingness to pay for the legging, unfortunately H&M does not have the capability to process personal checks and they are not accepted as a method of payment in our stores.

We value your patronage, time and concern Libby, and in no way want you to feel embarrassed. Feel free to return the leggings at your convenience, the next time you visit us, as we understand the error was clearly an innocent mistake.

Additionally Libby, it would be our pleasure to send you a Courtesy Coupon valid until December 31st as a token of our appreciation to you - if you would provide us with your complete mailing address.


H&M Customer Service

So here's the deal: I've already put the check in the mail, as the saying goes. I appreciate that the stores have a policy of not accepting checks for fraud prevention purposes, but I'm going to trust that somewhere in the vast H&M worldwide resources they'll be able to figure out how to cash a personal check for $4.90. 'Cause it's going to show up in their mail tomorrow.


Monday, October 06, 2008

Late-night snack

You know what I like best about chocolate ice cream sodas? The slushy ice crust that the soda puts on the ice cream. Yum.

Customer disservice

Here's the text of the e-mail I sent to H&M today:

My kids and I went to the H&M store in downtown Boston this morning. My three-year-old, who was hanging on to her new clothes, accidentally dropped a pair of leg warmers in the basket underneath our stroller. Of course I didn't discover them until I was nearly home (at the end of the subway line, folding the stroller to stow in the trunk of my car).

So I called the store as soon as I got home: I have a pair of leg warmers, and I'd like to pay for them. The woman who answered the phone was utterly confused, and told me I'd have to come back to the store and show them my receipt.

No, I said, I didn't pay for them. They're not on the receipt. I'm calling because I WANT to pay for them.

She asked me to hold while she got a manager. I was on hold for quite a while -- 10 to 15 minutes -- and finally hung up. When I called back a few minutes later I asked to speak to the manager immediately.

He wasn't much more help. No, he couldn't take a credit card number over the phone. I would have to return to the store to pay for the leg warmers. (I don't go downtown often.) Or, if I didn't want them, he guessed I could send them through the mail. He didn't see any other way he could help.

How about this, I said. I'll send you the tag from the leg warmers, with a check. He agreed, gave me his name (Paul) and the address of the store, and hung up.

Now, I'm embarrassed that I walked out of a store without paying for something. And I really wanted to do the right thing. But at no point did either employee thank me for being honest. Instead, they acted confused -- why would I want to pay for something if I didn't have to? -- and, in addition to being unable to help me, seemed unwilling to go an extra step to find a way in which they could help.

I wonder if your employee training covers how to handle a situation that is out of the ordinary. From the experience I had today, I doubt it. I would have appreciated someone saying that they didn't have an answer for me, but they were certainly sympathetic, they appreciated what I was trying to do, and they would give me a call back within an hour with a solution.

Oh, and Beth had so many questions about why things were a certain way on our train that I suggested she could design subway cars when she grew up. She's pondering it.