Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Just Say Charge It

You might get a kick out of this one. See, it's not just the government screwing things up. My parents had a ton of credit cards, most in both names. There was ONE card, a Chase visa, that was only in Mom's name. For some reason THAT is the one Dad liked to use, even though he had a ton of others, who knows why? He decided to not only not cancel that one, but to have it changed to MY name so I could use it to buy his supplies with. So he called them and they did it. It was now in the name of "Estate of XXX" but had my name on the card. As far as I know, they didn't give him any problem about doing that. He asked if it were possible; they said sure. Seems to me that just saying NO right here would have solved a lot of things. I certainly wouldn't be writing this post if they had!

When I called to activate it they did give me some trouble, because it confused them it was in the name of an "estate". I got transferred around a bunch of times. I even told Dad, let's just get a NEW card, or I use one of mine only for you and you pay it? No, he wanted THIS one, and after all they did OK it. At this point I was wondering WHY they had approved it in the first place? How much trouble was this really worth? But if you knew my Dad you know there was NO changing his mind, so this was it.

So I used it for about 5 months. Regularly. Now Dad keeps money in his account, and pays everything in full every month; he even arranged to have this bill automatically paid in full every month so we didn't have to worry about it. "Why not use a debit card?" I asked. Made sense to me. But Dad didn't trust those new-fangled debit cards. Again, I don't know why...he just didn't. I nev er did quite figure him out. I just rolled with it, you know?

After all those months of using it regularly and paying it in full every month well before the due date I tried to use it and it was declined. I knew the bill was paid so when I got home I called and they said "oh that, we cancelled that because your Mom died." Hmmm.....k.

Well, yes. That's why it was changed to the "estate of". "Yes ma'am, but she died so we had to close it".

Remember they KNEW she died and they agreed to do what they did. It's in the name of THE ESTATE, for crying out loud! Normally that means they died, so, yeah! No one held a gun to their head or even asked for special favors. He asked, they agreed and it was done.

A week AFTER it was cancelled I got a letter congratulating me for signing up for the auto bill feature. Which had been signed up for, and had been used, for the past 5 months.....

That SAME DAY I got a letter saying good news, your Mom's card has been cancelled because she died, aren't you happy with our security features that allowed us to do this? Don't worry, you won't be responsible for her balance! Woohoo!!! Hmm, should I have then doubted the auto-pay feature? Ahh, hindsight.

The very NEXT day I got a bill for the balance (which was no longer on auto-pay - why, I don't know, I certainly never asked for that to be cancelled, I guess that came along with cancelling the card) and it was due like in TWO days saying pay this now to avoid extra fees. It was two months worth, since they had apparently shut off that pesky autopay thing 2 months before they sent me the letter congratulating me on signing up for it. Are you keeping up with me here? Oh -- and they specifically said that due to the unfortunate loss of my Mom they would not add finance charges at this time (what I read into that was, expect them real soon! How very thoughtful of them. *rollingeyes*).

Are we having fun yet?

So, fast forward several more months. About 3 weeks ago I got a bill from a COLLECTION AGENCY for the remaining balance that should have been paid automatically in the first place, and which I had already paid as soon as I got the bill (so that was, what? at least a month earlier? I can't keep track anymore). Not just any collection agency, but one that specifically deals with estates so as not to further confuse the bereaved family members? I'm clueless here... In the meantime my Dad has also I have to call this collection agency who was "simply arranging to collect from the estate"; yes, collecting a bill which had already been paid long since, and for which we made the charges ourselves, because they had approved it for our use. Are you still with me? I explained to them that I had paid the bill and they said OK. I have not heard back from them so I'm assuming that they at least know how to perform basic record-keeping chores.

Now today I got a bill for FINANCE CHARGES based on that final balance. Only 5 bucks, but let me tell you, it was not the amount that was the point. I have been completely baffled by the incompetence and insensitivity of this entire affair and this was the last straw. I was in the middle of doing something else important but I picked up the phone and called them while I was "in the mood".

The automatic response thingie told me that my account is closed and that there is no balance. What a complete surprise! more eyerolling* So I hit 0 to speak to an actual person, who assured me that the charge was already reversed and that I should not have even received a bill. Gee, I wonder what happened? Must have just "slipped through the cracks". Heh.

Now tell me, after reading all this, are you wondering what's next?

I just can't wait to apply for a NEW Chase card. /sarcasm

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Goodbye for now, Daddy

10/14/31 - 7/30/09

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Just No Words.

How far have we fallen as a society when we get our kicks from watching a real life family destroy themselves? How far have parents fallen when they use their family problems to gain RATINGS for a show??

Yes. I am talking about Jon and Kate Gosselin.

I am too disgusted to say anything else. There are just no words. I honestly can't believe this is even an issue.

PLEASE. DO NOT WATCH THEIR SHOW. Please pray for them all, especially the children.

Kate's brother comments- click here

Monday, June 22, 2009

What Happened to the PlayPlace?

Remember the PlayPlace? That's McDonalds' official name for the little playgrounds that used to be attached to every McD's you saw. They were popular places for birthday parties. In the "Old Days" they were all outside. I still remember the first indoor one I ever saw - it was about 1994, we were en route to Colorado and marveled at the genius who decided to put them indoors. No more too-hot slides or puddle-filled ball pits! Gone would be the urban legend about the kid who got killed by the snake in the pit! We guessed the reason for the one we saw was the hostile winters in the area, but we loved the idea, and were thrilled when they started converting the ones in the South.

I spent a lot of time in the PlayPlace when the kids were young. I mean a LOT!! It was the perfect place for a coffee date with a friend. We could sit comfortably - well, relatively so, anyway - and visit while the kids were kept busy and happy for long periods of time. No need to spend a lot on food, either - a couple of shared french fry orders, or some ice cream, was as welcome as a Happy Meal. And the coffee was always hot!

Pretty soon almost every PlayPlace was indoors. I felt sorry for the one McD's in town that didn't convert. You never saw any kids there! They may as well have nothing at all! Then again if you were trying to book a party, you were pretty much guaranteed the date of your choice there.

Speaking of parties - I became a fan of the McD's party early on. I can't remember how many we had there. For forty bucks you had a party for 10 kids complete with invitations, food, cake, ice cream, games, and a gift for the birthday kid. Not to mention the BIRTHDAY THRONE and the ATTENDANT to serve you and - the best part - CLEAN UP! No wonder McD's parties were so popular! It seemed like a no-brainer to me. The hard part of it was planning in time to get a date close to the actual birthday. We tended to have our parties a few weeks after....well, I told the kids it was like having an extra birthday, and they bought it!

PlayPlaces were also a great stopping point during a trip. Even if you didn't want to eat there, you could use the restroom and grab a drink or snack and let the kids run around for a bit before getting back into the car. If you did eat, the prices were good, and the Happy Meal prize guaranteed to entertain for at least a while once you got back on the road.

So the other day it was D's turn to go out to lunch and he asked for McDonald's. As we ran some errands around town we drove past several and that's what got me thinking about this topic. You see, PlayPlaces are disappearing. McD's had to rebuild a few of their local stores after Katrina. Not one of them has a PlayPlace - even the one with the ultra-COOL huge one which for awhile was THE PlayPlace in town, where at one point if you didn't reserve 6 months before your birthday you were having it late! They seem to be competing with Starbucks now...with the McCafe menu and decor. Great idea - but what are we Moms supposed to do with the kids while we sip our gourmet joe?

We ended up at one with a nice PlayPlace (which he is apparently too old for now! We sat in the regular restaurant and he had a regular combo meal!). But we could see inside. On this particular HOT day, every table in there was taken. Kids were running around wild, having a blast (some without SOCKS! Oh, the horror!). Parents sat at their tables eating, chatting, reading the paper, occasionally looking up to check on their kids. Just as I used to do so often. It was a nostaglic moment. We really did do our time! But we loved it. Obviously, people still want the PlayPlace...although I suppose it wouldn't have been as crowded in that one store if there were others around.

As far as I can tell only two, maybe three of the local stores still have them. Hey - it's not that I really care, anymore. Although the triplets are happy to play if we're there, they don't really care that much. We haven't been to one to hang out and keep busy in ages. We don't need the PlayPlace anymore. We've outgrown the PlayPlace (how sad does that sound?!). At the same time, they seem to be going the way of the dinosaur. I wonder why? McD's always catered to families with little kids. I can't help being curious. I'm very glad they didn't do this when we used them so often. I'm sure we would have survived and found something else to do - but I'm glad to have had the option, and now the memories.

McDonald's was a favorite hangout for Grandparents and kids as well.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What Do I Think?

Everyone keeps asking me what I think about Jon and Kate Plus 8. I think it's part of that whole "Multiple Mom Club" thing, I don't know.... Like, we have SO much in common! Since I have multiples, surely I must absolutely ADORE them! And if not, I must just be dreadfully jealous of them! /snark

Frankly, I had never thought or even known of them until around the time I made this post about the reality TV thing and then later this post which ended up being based on them simply because something they did made me think of the topic. I confess I started keeping track after that. I am fanatical about children, specifically about not abusing them. I am always very saddened by the stories of former child stars who had their lives completely screwed up by their fame. What a high price to pay for my personal entertainment...probably one reason I don't care much for TV now. I had been deeply moved by the story of the Dionne quintuplets, particularly the heartfelt plea made by the surviving ladies to the McCaugheys....that letter still brings me to tears. How can anyone read that and NOT be moved?? And I know the Gosselins read it. They said themselves that they did. Sure, it's not a given that their lives will be ruined. But look at the statistics. The permanent damage to their children is a risk they decided to take. That confuses the hell out of me!

So, what do I think about the Gosselins? Well, my views have changed since that first post of mine. I do think their agenda has changed as well in that time. It is clearly NOT just about the kids and paying for college. What do I think? I think not even REAL famous people make the tabloids as much as they do. REAL famous people that the public really cares about. The Gosselins were still largely unknowns in the greater scheme of the world. NOW, on the other hand, everyone knows who they are. My teenagers and their friends, who had never heard of them or their show, are now talking about them regularly. They are dinner table conversation.

What do I think? I think there is a massive publicity campaign going on by either the Gosselins themselves or their publicity team (and therefore, the Gosselins themselves...don't insult our intelligence by saying you can't stop this). There is simply too much evidence to the contrary, and the fact that they are not "big" enough to warrant such attention is just the beginning. Don't take my word for it - use your own Google skills. They WANT this attention. They are orchestrating it.

And that thought is even more sickening than "just" the pimping out of their children.

So that's what I think. Just one woman's opinion, to be sure. Don't ask, if you don't want to know.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Handicap Parking Revisited

My Dad stopped driving about 2 months ago. Around the same time, we finally bit the bullet and got him a handicap placard for his car. Since he lives with me, I am usually the one to drive him around to appointments and errands (although I must give my husband and eldest son a shout-out. They are awesome about driving him as well!).

Since I've been driving him, I've noticed the extreme shortage of handicap parking! I suppose that's subjective. I mean, according to people at Triplet Connection there is way too much handicap parking and the people that use it are perfectly capable....right? And I admit it's possible that since the greater portion of places we go are geared towards people who are more likely to be disabled - the Internist, the Radiation Oncologist, etc. -- it makes sense that it's harder to find a handicap space. But I've been noticing the same problem at Wal-Mart or Rouses' or the mall.

I'm not accusing anyone of using spaces they don't need. I'm sure those are there, but I also know there are those needing them who don't look like our idea of disabled. In fact, I consider that we don't really NEED those spaces at all. I can park way out in the lot and push Dad's chair as far as I need to. In fact, that's what I do when there are no spaces available or some yokel has parked halfway into the remaining one so that I would not be able to open the door and let Dad out. No problem - unless it's raining, so I need to remember to pack a poncho for Dad, note to self. Then again we are in the middle of a drought so that hasn't been a problem either!

Or I can stop out front, unload Dad and the chair, push them inside the building, and then go park the car. Depending on where we are, I choose which to do, no problem.

It was just interesting to me to note how few spaces there actually seem to be when you're looking for one. Before I needed one, I would have also said there seem to be plenty to go around. But now I say that Dad's lucky he doesn't have to drive himself anymore.

The other thing I've noticed is the lack of other handicap considerations. Now I am talking about the places you expect to find disabled people. The oncologist, for example, is located in an older building in town. Sure, they fixed it all up with ramps and stuff, but the door is an old fashioned, heavy double door. You can barely fit a wheelchair through one half of the door, but it's physically impossible to open both sides at one time. It opens out, which is nice if you're GOING out but for going in, not so much. Luckily I built up my mad door skillz by operating a Quad Runabout stroller full of 85+ pounds of wiggly babies for all those years.

Crescent City Classic 10K race

Give me a free hand and my hip and I can do magic, baby!

Luckily at Radiation there is one of those automatic door thingies. You know. You press a button and the door opens. If you can get there in time. Which is where those skillz come in handy again. Unfortunately they only thought of the button on the outer door. To get into the office you need the hip action again. So usually while Dad is in being zapped I sit by the door so I can hold it for people, because again Dad is the lucky one to have someone bringing him!

I guess all this is just stuff most people never notice because they don't have to. And hopefully, you never will.

Rambling Thoughts

It both irritates and amuses me to read some posts on forums. I realize people want to vent. I've never gotten WHY they would choose an open forum to post their vents if they don't also want some advice/solutions. Mostly what they really seem to want is cyber-hugs and "OMG, I am SO SORRY that happened to you!!!!!1!!! ((((((HUGZ!!!!1!!!!1!!!!))))))"

It rarely fails that the OP will eventually come back and get all pissy because people had the audacity to offer such things when "I was only venting". I find it so amusing that on a forum that I own, I actually added a new folder! Any member can post there, but - here's the key - no one can reply! That should solve most of the problem, wouldn't you think? But actually turns out that most of these whiners are actually attention whores (I guess) and prefer the open forum so they can whine about the replies they get. Maybe so they have something new to complain about? Who knows. At any rate the forum that I thought was the perfect solution is rarely utilized. Who knew?

Another thing that amuses/irritates me ("irrimuses"?) is when people give only a small piece of information in their post and then seem to expect the membership to JUST KNOW that there was more to it. For instance, one person recently posted that they are thinking of divorce because her husband is not as sympathetic as she would like him to be when she is sick and he has to step up the child care. When someone points out that perhaps counseling would be a better option, she adds that he has been unfaithful as well. Hmm....

I have learned to expect the "yeah, but...." answers like that. I still don't get them. What do people expect? Maybe they should start a blog of their own? Who would expect validation for wanting to divorce in the first situation? Who wouldn't expect it in the second? If you wanted validation, why did you leave out that important fact, it can't possibly have just slipped your mind? Was this a test?

Maybe I shouldn't get into forum censorship in this entry. I have always supported that the owner of the forum gets to make the rules. There really is no free speech on an internet forum. BUT - I firmly believe that the rules should be spelled out clearly in black and white, easy to understand terms. Sure, some things are subjective. On my own site, there are very few rules. We do not allow personal attacks, though, and have found that those can be very subjective - usually the person posting it feels it is not a violation and the other person thinks it is. That's when the 2 person staff gets to decide, and there is always at least one person who is unhappy with the decision. So I definitely can sympathize with forum staff on those issues.

But there are some rules that ought to be spelled out and then enforced consistently. Say if you decide you won't allow any posting about "Jon and Kate + 8" - say so, in the forum rules and guidelines (which you do have, yeah? In an easily accessible spot?) and then immediately remove ANY post about that topic. Doesn't seem so hard. Don't say you won't allow those posts, then allow a thread on that topic to sit there for days, then suddenly go all CB (crazy-bitch) on everyone for adding to the thread. Perhaps a site needs more staff so they can handle that sort of thing. I would certainly assume that if a thread's been there for a few days it's fair game....not that longstanding, well-respected members would be banned for making a post there.

And for heaven's sake, if you don't want any cursing at your site, it's an extremely simpler-than-simple matter to turn on your censor option. You can put in any word you want; it takes 2 seconds, max, for each word. You can have it turn a word into stars (*****) or just part of the word (F**K) < that's for passive agressive types who want to look all noble by censoring the word, yet want to be sure that everyone knows exactly what the word was...heehee. You can also have it put a completely different word. On one forum the word "screwed" is replaced with "hosed"...."hell" with "Arizona".... most people find it amusing although one person from Arizona was a bit miffed. Point's not hard, at all. The program already has all the major bad words in it by default, you have only to turn it on. Stop bitching that people are cussing on your site, and make your life easier!

And don't forget - next to Google, the search function is your best friend.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Customer Service - American Home Shield

We've been using American Home Shield for over 10 years now. They're a home warranty company - one of those plans where you pay a premium every year and if any covered item breaks down in your home, you pay only a service fee for the visit and they fix the item - or replace it, if it can't be fixed. And you can get them to look at more than one item - for instance, when we had to have the plumber out recently (our water heater ended up needing replacement) we had him check some slow drains at the same time and only paid one service call.

I have to say that over the years we have definitely gotten the better end of this deal! Adding up the cost of the plan and visits vs. getting items fixed or replaced ourselves, we've gotten our money's worth more years than not. And over the years we have never had a single problem with them. I have seen sites with tons of complaints about them, but they have been really good with us - never quibbling over replacing something, although they will try to fix it first. We have had many items replaced, including the outside electrical box, a gas stove top, a washing machine, and a gas water heater.

This past year we had the fan and then the light go out on our stove vent hood. The house is over 30 years old and the unit is original so they had trouble finding parts. Finally the fan was fixed, but the light was constantly "on order". We paid the service fee almost a year ago and several different providers came out to look at it. We had no idea what was wrong only the light "didn't work"! We figured that eventually it would need to be replaced since they didn't seem to be able to diagnose the problem.

Following is the letter I wrote to AHS after this claim. Rather than repeating the entire story - it's told in the letter:

I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with the results of my claim for my range hood light. This claim has been dragged on and on for almost a year (I can't remember the first date we called) with multiple providers coming out and stating they could not service our range hood light. Finally I was told by AHS that the model numbers were in the attic and no one would go in the attic to get them. We were told to find our own service person willing to go up and we could get reimbursed for the job.

Today we did have our own choice of service company out. FIRST OF ALL - the model numbers were NOT in the attic. They were right there on the unit where I had pointed them out to the last one who was here. Apparently he did not agree they were the correct numbers - but they are. ALSO, going into the attic was not required, nor were the model numbers. He opened the unit and found the switch to be damaged. The switch was cheaply and easily replaced and the light is working perfectly now. I DO NOT understand what the holdup has been for all these months, or why the several people who have looked at it were unable to diagnose something so ridiculously simple. So that is my first complaint.

Here is my next one. The repair man mentioned to the AHS employee he spoke with this morning in the Outside Authorization department, that we had been struck by lightning last year. For that reason this claim was DENIED. I then spoke to her myself to protest that this was not caused by the lightning strike. Clearly she did not believe me and in fact sounded quite accusatory. I don't know why the service person mentioned the lightning - but the way we know him is because he serviced what WAS damaged in the lightning strike. You see, we would never have dreamed of trying to get AHS to cover those repairs. Besides being dishonest, we were paid in full by insurance. There is no reason we would ask AHS to repair something that insurance would have paid us fully for WITHOUT us paying the AHS service fee.

She then made comments regarding the range hood fan, seeming to accuse me of havinng cheated to get that repaired as well.

Besides those facts, the light was NOT damaged by the lightning. The light went out around the time of the strike, but if it had been diagnosed as having been caused by the lightning, we would have had it repaired and been paid in full for it, rather than call you.

I have been very happy with AHS for the many years we have been your customers. I have recommended your service to many people. I am disappointed to have had this claim denied for no reason other than the man mentioning the lightning strike. I was also upset by the accusatory tone taken toward me by your agent. This is the first complaint we have ever had with AHS, and I would like to hear back from you about this.
I am happy to say that we got a phone call from AHS the day they received this letter. They reimbursed us the cost of the repair (we paid the man $30 for coming out and he showed hubby how to fix it - the switch itself cost $4.00 and took 5 minutes to put in). They are also sending us two coupons for free service calls - worth $60 each. She said the woman who had denied the claim would be reprimanded, particularly for her accusations.

I am satisified with the resolution of this complaint, and with the AHS Customer Service department.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's Just a Phone Call...

We had two parties to attend this weekend - two different parties, two different kids. One at a home, one at the gymnastics place. As usual, I was later than I had planned with the RSVP, but I did call. I always call - it's a promise I made to myself years ago.

Party A was the home party. There were lots of people there, adults and kids, and Stephen had a blast! Here he is doing the limbo:

Look at that tongue sticking out! What concentration! He does a mean limbo!

But notice the people around him. Adults, a big kid, little kids. Where are the first graders? That's right, the birthday girl is in the picture, but other than that - out of 22 kids in the class - Stephen was the only kid to show up. I was the only parent to call!

I was sitting talking to the girl's Grandma, who was hosting the party (she was my age! I couldn't decide if that was sad or funny!). She wished some more kids from class had come. The other kids at the party were cousins or neighbors, and a friend from a different class. The girl noticed, but it didn't seem to ruin the party for her. But the adults were bummed.

At Party B, there were also plenty of kids, but only 2 from the classroom. Makes sense. After all these years I can definitely tell you that there are more people at "cool place" parties than at home parties. As often happens, I was told (unsolicited) that I was one of the few to call.

We've had this problem at our own parties. It was especially bad for the triplets, who shared a party, put out the same number of invites, and had varying numbers of guests show up. But the worst was not knowing. I had to prepare 60 goody bags - just in case. With 45 left over - let's just say I could have put a lot more into a few goody bags if I had only KNOWN.

Here's the worst example:

There was a party at Chuck E Cheese last year. This poor Mom had reserved the party package, which required a minimum of 10 guests. Once again, I was the only one to call. So we got there and they were sitting at a regular table. They had cancelled the party package and just ordered pizza and drinks and gave each child (mine, bday girl, 2 sibs and a neighbor) some tokens. Why pay for 10 guests if 5 show up?

You can probably guess what happened next...people started showing up...she ended up with 12 guests total. The Kid was happy; the parents, not so much. It cost more for them to do things this way than with the package deal. I remember well - she was pissed! She even said "I am NOT buying tokens for anyone who didn't call!" But of course she did. It's not the kid's fault. The kids had a blast, the Mom was bitter and upset, and I don't blame her. One parent actually said "sorry I didn't call, I thought we had plans". Ugh, nothing like being told flat out you were last choice, and anyway whatever happened to calling in your regrets?!

After our own party this year - we reserved the pavilion at the park, which we certainly would not have needed for only 8 kids - I was happy at the thought of having separate parties from now on. A movie date - a sleepover - whatever; a few guests each, we will call each parent individually and even offer rides! Our day of whole class parties is over, thank goodness. But I will always call - no matter what. It's only a little phone call, and it really makes a difference. Think of your own child - their birthday party is a HUGE deal. It's their day!! I don't know why it's such a big deal to call, but I understand the big deal of planning a party that no one cares about unless nothing better comes along!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Look

As you can see, I've changed my background. Unfortunately, there are not too many choices available for the wide format I was using and they are all sort of "blah", so I switched to a centered one to get the cute backgrounds. The unfortunate part is that the pictures I posted from my Photobucket are now cut off on the right side. Now that I know how to upload the pics directly yo Blogger so they can be clicked on to enlarge (D'oh) it won't be a problem in the future...but for now if you notice any cutoff pictures it's just the tradeoff for having a cute blog.

Mary picked the current background and the boys will get their turns every few weeks or so. The picture in the header right now is a group of ducks we saw while camping a few weeks ago. They came by every day for their "daily bread". Matty LOVES duckies - he has an extensive collection of various types and sizes - and they were all most excited that there were THREE duckies, two boys and a girl, just like them. So when they saw the header this morning, to them it was like a picture of themselves as they told me which duckie was which.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Customer Service - Nintendo

I've written about our experience with Nintendo's Customer Service before (Click the link for story). We recently had to send our Wii back again, and this experience merits another mention.

Maybe you're thinking it can't be as good this time? That's certainly what I was thinking! The kids were having a problem with the "Brawl" disk. It worked, but some of the characters were freezing up. Now, normally, I would assume any disk problems were user error (scratches, etc.) and tell them oh well, save for a new one. I don't know what made him decide to call. Brawl was the one giving the problem before, so maybe that's why. At any rate, he called, and was told to send both the Wii and the game in to be checked.

Remember how, after the last time, they extended the warranty by a year? Well, that was almost up again. No problem. They e-mailed a Fed-Ex shipping label immediately. All we had to do was package the unit and game together, and drive it across town to the Fed-Ex place. I delivered it on Monday, January 26, and it was returned to my front doorstep by Friday, the 30th - in time for me to jump on Animal Crossing before the kids got home from school. Photobucket

AND!!!! They extended the warranty again for ANOTHER YEAR!! Photobucket

Son says, let's make sure we send it in every year when it's almost up, it will be under warranty forever. *wink*

I have to admit, I am amazed. You just don't see customer service anymore. I can't tell you how many people find this blog by doing a search on "Quiznos Customer Service" -- so I imagine I am not the only one to have ever had issues! Anyway, if I am quick to criticize, I also want to be quick to praise.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Birthday Week!

I posted this in my family blog back in September, and was inspired to post it here after reading another triplet Mom's blog.


Birthdays are very special in our family. We make a big deal of them. The birthday child gets to choose their dinner, their cake and ice cream, be king / queen for the day. So what do you do when you have three children who share a birthday? It took us a few years, but we finally came up with something that works. You have a Birthday WEEK, of course!

We actually started this last year, and it worked out great. I started an entry about it but never got around to posting. It started out with the triplets and me sitting on the couch with a notebook and pen brainstorming ideas. First I eliminated certain days from the mix - Friday night was out due to high school football and such. Then I suggested we mix up the order a bit - normally we end up in birth order: Matthew, Stephen, Mary. They liked that idea and were surprisingly agreeable. Each nabbed a day with NO arguing at all! So we ended up with this schedule:

Wednesday: Stephen
Thursday: Actual birthday with group cake and presents; cupcakes at school
Friday: off for football game
Saturday: Mary
Sunday: Matthew

Next I had them choose their menu. Dinner, cake, ice cream, and cupcakes to take to school. They chose a dinner and cake they could all agree on for their actual birthday. Believe it or not, again they were quite agreeable. Stephen said, "How about tacos"? "Mmm, tacos!" said the others, and it was decided. Mary said, "chocolate mousse cake!" and the others said, "yeah!" The boys were concerned that they picked the same main dish for their own dinner. "First off, it's your dinner, you choose, it doesn't matter if someone else picks the same thing", I said. "But look, it's not even two nights in a row!" Sure enough, they had the first and last nights. Problem solved.


This was the busiest day for me. Not only did I have Stephen's dinner and cake to make, but I had to prepare 6 dozen cupcakes! Yikes! I think next year I'll start those earlier and freeze them. They really prefer the homemade cupcakes (yes, I use a mix! I can't bake from scratch to save my life!) and they said the other kids loved them too. Plus when I see the price of 6 dozen cupcakes...well, you do the math!

Mary chose half vanilla with chocolate frosting, and half chocolate with vanilla frosting.

Matthew loved that idea! Only he wanted the chocolate and vanilla all in the same cupcake! So I just layered the chocolate and vanilla. This was a huge hit with the kids, although it was a bit harder on the chef. Because I can only bake 12 cupcakes at a time, logistically it worked out to have half with vanilla on bottom and half with chocolate on bottom. Oh, and he asked for "yellow" frosting. Not lemon - just yellow!

BTW, I make my own frosting. It's so much better than the canned stuff, and only takes 2 minutes more to make it, saves money, and you know what's in it! Simple enough to toss in a few drops of yellow.

Stephen asked for lemon cupcakes. With vanilla frosting. I'm ashamed to admit I didn't get pics of his. I finished the cakes late at night and frosted them in the morning, and was exhausted! I also didn't get a pic of the stack of boxes I had to carry to the school! Bad Mommy!

Taking them to school was fun. I got to park right out front, thank goodness. Still, it took 2 trips to get them into the office. I planned to take them to the classrooms, but couldn't carry them all by myself. Mrs. P in the office called down to Matthew's room. "Oh, she can just bring them!" was the answer. Yeah! LOL! But Mary was allowed to come help me, and we took them back. Everyone was impressed I had made them myself. Doesn't anyone else make cupcakes anymore?

They would have been a lot easier to carry if I HAD gotten them at the bakery. They come in a box! Oh well...I will have to plan better next time or just suck it up.

But - I'm getting ahead of myself! I took those to school on Thursday, and I'm still writing about Wednesday.

Here is Stephen's chosen menu:

Garlic bread
French Fries
Vanilla cake, vanilla frosting, vanilla ice cream. "That's a lot of vanilla!" I said. "It's a vanilla FESTIVAL!" he shouted happily.

Stephen's Vanilla Festival:

There were no presents on individual days. We did those on the birthday itself.

Thursday - The Birthday!

Tacos, and chocolate mousse cake. Easy-peasy. I think I bought some of BlueBell's new Snickerdoodle ice cream (BTW - yum!), and also served the vanilla from last night.


They fell in love with Chocolate Mousse Cake from a local bakery. Mary and I made up our own recipe and it was delicious. Bake a chocolate cake, and frost with

Mary and Mommy's Super-Duper-Deluxe Mousse Stuff
1 pkg, instant chocolate pudding mix
2 T cocoa powder
4 T powdered sugar
1 -1/2 cups heavy cream

Beat it till it's done. This would have been thick enough to put in between layers, but I didn't think it would so we frosted a sheet cake with it. Mmmmmm.

Of course there were presents galore. We didn't go overboard, but with 7 people plus grandparents buying a gift apiece for 3 kids, it does look like Christmas!

That's Stephen in his Birthday crown.

Now see, this is why I often wonder why I spend money on presents. All SIX of them played with these paper tubes!


I can't believe my babies are 7. Sigh.


Mary's day. This was a big day for her as she was having her first non-cousin sleepover at our house!

Mary's menu:

Tater Tots
"A Chocolate Festival, Mom!" - Chocolate cake and frosting. Chocolate ice cream. With PINK candles, of course!


Matthew's day. When choosing the cake: "Mom, I want a festival of, what's that word when you have all different kinds of stuff?" "Variety?" "Yeah, that. I want a Variety Festival!"

Matthew's menu:

Garlic bread
Sliced tomatoes
Green salad with Ranch
Fruit Salad
Matthew's "Variety Festival" - Carrot cake, vanilla frosting, Oreo cookie ice cream.

I'm posting a picture of his dinner because it still amazes me what a well-rounded eater he is. Look at that plate!

And here is what a "Variety Festival" looks like!

The look on his face says it all, don't you think?

It took several tries for him to blow out the candles. We assured him he would still get his wish.

So the week is over. Phew! Till next year. But I'm glad we did it this way. Seriously, if we had 3 kids of different ages with close birthdays, they would still get separate celebrations. These guys get lumped together enough as it is. But the most satisfying thing about this was the look on their faces when we sang just to them, when they blew out the candles of their own cake. They will share a party in two weeks (maybe next year we'll move to separate parties, but for now they wanted it this way). That presents its own dilemmas as they share some friends but others don't even know they're triplets! But I'll save that for later.

I'll end this with a flashback: