Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dodged a Bullet

Morgan had this on her Christmas list. Gigi really wanted to get it for her.

The description is as follows: The game of team-work, singing and surprising sleigh-rides! The Grinch is out to steal the Whos' gifts-but your family can save the day. Only your singing will warm the Grinch's heart and bring his sleigh full of stolen gifts speeding down Mt. Crumpit and back to Who-ville!

We begged Gigi not to buy it. We are NOT a singing family. In all the years I have known Mark, I don't think I've heard him sing once, not even in a bar after too many drinks when The Piano Man comes on, not at a concert, nada. As for me, let's back up, oh about 30 years or so. I'm a first grader at a Catholic school. We are practicing our singing for a church service. A nun (someone who is supposed to be compassionate, forgiving and caring) walks over to me and says "Oh honey. Don't sing out loud. You should just mouth the words". Apparently my joyful noise was not so joyful. Scarred for life.

Luckily Gigi took pity on us and agreed to get Morgan a different present. We thought we were in the clear. Then Morgan got her Christmas money. We usually just put it in her savings, but now that she's getting older, we decided to ask her what she wanted to do with it. Her response brought dread to my heart. She wanted the singing game. Ugh! We went to Target and, thank goodness, they didn't have the game. She decided to get Guess What I Am instead. I am secretly doing the happy dance. The pets, on the other hand, are not.

Avoid Snapfish at All Costs

Now that the nice holiday cheer is behind us, it's time to air my issue with Snapfish. First let me say that I have been a loyal customer to Snapfish since 2004. Even when other friends and family were having problems with them, I stuck by them. I have ordered calenders through them before and have been very pleased, that is until this year.

I placed my calender order on Dec 11th with a guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve. The estimated delivery date was the 18th. I should have stayed on top of it, but with the holiday crazies, I didn't. Christmas Eve came and no calender. I checked my Snapfish account and the status was "Processing". My credit card had been charged on the 15th for the order. I called customer service. I got a guy named "Bob" whose thick accent tip me off to the fact that that was probably not his real name. He was short with me and completely unapologetic. All I could get out of him was that my order was cancelled. Um cancelled?? I don't think so. The order page says processing, I never received an e-mail about this so why was my order processed. I was told it was due to technical difficulties. Again, no apologies, no how can we make this right.

I asked for the manager and was transferred to someone who sounded suspiciously like "Bob". I was told I did receive an e-mail about the status change. Um, no. I was told that my credit card was not charged for this order. When I told them that it was charged and I could SEE the charge on my card, they told me I was mistaken. He told me several times I was mistaken about numerous issues. Nice customer service.

He asked me if I used pictures from my 2007 album in this calender. When I told him that I did for the month of December, I was told that this was the technical difficulty. Pictures uploaded in 2007 used a different format than those in 2008 and therefore would not work with the calender. WHAT??!! Are you serious. I'm no computer whiz, but even I know that this is a bunch of hoo-ha. Besides, if this were true (and we all know it isn't) shouldn't I have gotten an error message when I added the picture to the calender. After all, I get an error message when I add a low resolution picture.

Needless to say, I was furious. They did not care one bit about my business. They did not offer one thing to resolve the situation. They simply did not care. I ended the conversation by hanging up on silence. Merry Christmas Snapfish!

I have now found Shutterfly and couldn't be happier. It has more features than Snapfish. I already re-built my calender and order from Shutterfly. I ordered it on the 27th and it shipped out yesterday, the 29th. Now that's good service!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Zoo Lights vs House Lights

We finally had a night that wasn't freezing cold outside so we decided to take Morgan to the Christmas lights at the zoo. On the way she fell asleep and was still pretty beat when we got there. She wanted to press on and we didn't want a melt down so we decided to splurge and get one of the zoo wagons to chauffeur her around in.

While she enjoyed the whole experience, she liked having her picture taken in front of our own Christmas lights just as much and much, much cheaper. Plus she could sport the cool color-your-own-umbrella she got from Uncle Matt and Anne.

It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time

Morgan has a new obsession and it is bubble gum. She got a small bubble gum machine in her stocking and she has already mulled through 90% of it. I think she chewed over 20 pieces in one day. So we thought it would be a good idea to get her one of those make your own bubble gum kits. Sure, it said for 8+ but we figured it would be fine with our help.

When we went to do it, I noticed something on the front of the box that really scared me. Notice the logo in the bottom right hand corner?

Yep, that's Elmer's. Nothing like making gum out of a kit that is known for their glue.

The second scare came when we opened it up and read the directions. Tie hair back, wear an apron, use disposable microwave cups. What are disposable microwave cups? We decided to go with the kiddie cups we get at restaurants. Good thing, because the cups were destroyed by sticky goo.

Of course Morgan loved the whole thing and was able to participate in most of the creation. The gum at the end tasted terrible. Then we saw that she was supposed to knead it together for 15 minutes for maxium flavor! 15 minutes? We were lucky she did it for 15 seconds. So it looks like the next attempt will have us kneading the gum. For a long, long time. I keep telling myself, it's all in the name of science.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Time Fun

I hope that everyone had a very blessed Christmas. Our last few days have been very busy.

Christmas Eve Day was spent with Banaitis Family making cookies.

We went to church for the Christmas Eve service where Morgan joined us in the regular service. She enjoyed the carols, especially the yearly jingle bell song, where the kids get to stand on the pews and shake their parents keys while we sing Jingle Bells with a religious twist. She did a great job quietly sitting through the service but was very anxious for the candle lighting part. She kept grabbing her candle and asking if it was time yet. Once it was time, the experience was ruined for her as hot wax ended up pouring down her hand. Not so much a "Silent Night" when you got a little girl screaming. Ouch!

After church we drove around and looked at lights. There definetely wasn't as many this year as last. However, we did find a few houses that had their lights synchronized to music that was played through the radio. Those were really cool. We might have to look into that for next year.

Christmas Day brought lots of presents and fun, first at our house and then at Grandpas, staying in her PJs the whole time.

For the last couple of days we have been busy playing with every single toy she got. I don't think there was one present she didn't like. We have been playing Rhino Rampage, Guess Who Disney Version, Cat in the Hat I Can Do That and Monopoly Junior; creating a dozen martians and Playdough ice cream desserts; pretending with her Baby Pinkie Pie, Tumbles FurReal pet, Tinkerbell doll set and High School Musical doll; building lots of tall marble tracks with her Marble Race set and castles and bridges with her Royal Rescue set; exploring the world with her kid atlas and globe; and decorating lots of art projects. I'm tired just thinking about all that we've been doing. Needless to say, it was a wonderful Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Cookie Plans

We made cookies for Santa this weekend. Morgan has big plans for them. She thinks it's in the best interest of Santa if he only gets two cookies out of the dozens we made. She feels that he is getting to fat and needs to limit himself. She claims to be worried that he will get bigger and bigger.

I think it is all a ruse. She isn't that concerned with the jolly guy's health. She really just wants to eat all the cookies herself.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fire Safety Tips for Kids

Between the local firemen visiting Morgan's school and a birthday party at a station, we have been getting some really good fire safety tips I thought I would pass along.

Tip #1: Teach your child what a fireman really looks like while working a fire. There is a big difference between the friendly looking local fireman in the yellow jacket and pants:

And the scary looking "monster" that comes out of the smoke with a mask and an axe.

All too many times a child gets scared of a fireman's appearance and ends up hiding from them. Teach your child that they should never hid from a fireman. In a conversation with Morgan, we took it another step. We were talking to her about how a fireman wears a mask during a fire and may look scary but you always, always go with them and never hide. To which she replied, firemen are not strangers, but if it's another adult I don't know, I should not go with them. We had to explain to her that the number one concern during a fire is to get out and if ANY adult is there to help her, she needs to go with them.

Tip #2: Teach your child to leave their pets in the house during a fire. If the family cat is hiding under the bed, your child's should not try and coax the cat out. Again, the main concern is to get out of the house. Once out of the house they can tell a fireman where they last saw their pet. Too many kids get trapped in fires trying to save the family pet.

Tip #3: Does your child know what the smoke detector sounds like? Every month you should test the detector with your child around to hear it and then discuss your family's fire safety plan. We realized that Morgan has never, ever heard our detector go off. How can she protect herself from a fire if she doesn't even know what the warning sounds like? We set it off twice and talked about what we should do when we hear that sound. We went through different scenarios and escape plans - there is a fire in the kitchen, how do you get out? The fire is blocking the front door, what do you do now? We will continue to do this each month so she doesn't forget.

They say you have about three minutes to evacuate a house once a fire is detected. Please make sure your family uses those three minutes as wisely as possible.

Cooking Lessons Anyone?

It's no secret that I am a terrible cook. I can not stand cooking with every fiber of my being. I am very blessed to have a wonderful husband, who is not only good at it, but enjoys it. He can open a fridge, look at what we have and wah-la - throw something together. It's practically magic.

When Mark is out of town, I usually:
a. pick up stuff to go
b. take Morgan out to eat
c. make macaroni and cheese.

Apparently the situation has gotten pretty dire and it's time for me to consider cooking lessons. This is what transpired this week:

I pick Morgan up from school and say "Let's go home and have some dinner".

She response with a panicked "Why? Are you cooking".

Me: Yes

Morgan bursts into tears

Me: Why are you crying?

Morgan: "I don't want to eat at home. You don't cook"

Me: "I thought we could have some grilled cheese sandwiches"

Morgan (in THAT tone): Do you even KNOW how to make that?!

Yep, it's time for some cooking lessons.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fairy Wonderful Tutu Contest Sponsored by Momdot

If you have a girlie-girl like you do, you have to check out the adorable tutus at Fairy Wonderful. You can even get matching leg warmers to complete the outfits.

My personal favorite is her Tinkerbell inspired filled tutu dress. Not only does the tutu look like Tinkerbell's dress, it is actually filled with Tinkerbell cut outs, foam flowers and pom-poms. This is not your ordinary tutu.

Want a chance to win your own custom tutu and matching leg warmers? Then head on over to Momdot and enter their fabulous contest.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Concert

On Friday, Morgan's Pre-K class had their holiday concert. I use the term concert very loosely to describe the chaos that ensued. Seeing other kid's concert videos, made me realize that perhaps this is the norm for their age group. The performance lasted a whopping 5 minutes, if that. The video pretty much speaks for itself. There is a part between songs where you can see Morgan's "boyfriend" Cullen ask Morgan for her bells, to which Morgan politely declines.

Unfortunately, I can't get high quality video when I embedded it, so please click here and select "watch in high quality" on the right side directly under the video window. If you don't do this, her face will be nothing more than a blur.

If anyone can give me some pointers on embedding high quality video, I would appreciate it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Adding to the Family

With Cheyenne gone, I've had some mixed feelings. The house has been pretty quiet and we really miss having a canine companion. When Mark's out of town, I don't feel so safe. On the other hand, is it too soon to be thinking about another dog? We've been keeping our eyes on the shelters and visiting once in a while, with an "if it happens, it happens attitude". The next dog we get is Mark's pick. His requirements: it needs to be a lab and it needs to be a boy to help balance out the estrogen in the house (counting the cat, it's currently 3 to 1). Then we saw this one. He was a stray around 3 year old. We visited with him and loved his disposition. He was calm and well behaved - no jumping, no happy tail, no mouthing like other labs we had looked at. He was extremely malnourished, weighing only 40 pounds. His coat was coming off in chunks. Mark decided he was the one and with in an hour, we had a new dog.

When we got him home, it was obvious that at some point, at some time, he had been very well loved. He knows sit. On the leash he wants to walk on your left side and he doesn't pull much. With the exception of one accident (which we think was caused by over-excitement while playing fetch), he's housebroken. He doesn't pay any attention to the cat. Doesn't bark at other dogs or people. When playing fetch, he drops the ball in front of you. If it's not close enough you can say closer and he will pick it up and bring it near to you.

His only issues: He doesn't know any other commands, including lie down (not a big deal) and he constantly barks while in a car, and I mean constantly (a very big deal and a headache - literally). Not sure if something happen to him in a car or if he isn't use to riding in one and freaks out. Overall he is real gem.

So without further ado... introducing the newest member of our family - Champ.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Thank You Secret Santa

I received my package from my Santa Exchange partner at Momdot and all I can say is YUM!

I got this delicious package from The Popcorn Factory full of popcorn, peanuts, cookies, pretzles and candy. I'm slightly embarassed to say that we already mauled through most of it.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


We've never had a topper for our Christmas tree. Morgan has commented several times this week, that the tree needs to have something special on top. Last night, I took her to Michael's so she could pick something out since Mark and I have no opinion either way on what should adorn the top. She picked out, what I thought was a beautiful bow. When we got it home, she unwrapped the bow and I mean unwrapped it. It was not fastened together, it was only folded ribbon which quickly turned to a pile of ribbon in a four year old's hands. As Mark and I attempted to figure out how to put the bow back together, Morgan grabbed the smaller extra piece that you tie around the bow. She announces that she is going to cut it in half. When she gets done with it, we are shocked to see that it is in two perfectly halved pieces.

No big deal right? She was simply smart enough to fold the ribbon in half and then cut it. Except that isn't what she did. She cut a chunk out the middle.

Coincidence or thoughtful planning? Either way, it's a bit creepy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Plan Toy Dollhouse Furniture - A Review

When I was a little girl, my Grandfather handmade me a beautiful wooden dollhouse. I have fond childhood memories of throwing my Little People down the chimney into the fireplace and locking my cat inside and watching her through the windows. Now I get to pass on the dollhouse to Morgan. Apparently, the furniture I had growing up was cheap and my parents didn't keep it. I've discovered that finding good dollhouse furniture is hard... and expensive. After doing some research, I settled on Plan Toy furniture and couldn't be happier. It is sturdy and easy for a toddler to use, yet sophisticated enough for her to appreciate when she gets older. This furniture is made from all natural organic recycled rubber wood so it's safe and green. Each furniture set comes with little details that help add to the imaginative play: drawers open and sheets come off beds.

Sets come in three different styles: Classic, Neo and Decor. All three styles easily inter-mesh so if you buy a Classic bedroom, it still looks nice next to the Neo Kitchen. After you buy all the rooms, you can also get accessory packs like the Household Set (ironing board and iron, washer and dryer, sewing machine, etc) or the Fun Toy Set (a dollhouse, a teddy bear, a doll cradle, a blackboard, a skate board, a hobbyhorse and a tricycle).

The sets sell for around $19, a fairly average price but a good deal since, unlike my childhood furniture, Morgan will be able to pass these down to her children.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Someone got their hands on my camera and took a bunch of pictures. Now I wonder who that could be? The mystery was solved once I came across this picture. BUSTED!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Getting Caught Up

I dropped my folks off at the airport the morning and now I'm trying to ease back into the real world. We had a wonderful visit and a great Thanksgiving. There is too much to write about, so instead, I'll sum up the visit with a picture montage.
Doing the traditional gingerbread house, where more frosting and candy winds up in someones stomach than on the house.
Mark sporting a new Thanksgiving shirt for the occasion entitled "Cla-ham-ity". It takes food fight to a whole new level.
How many people does it take to carve a turkey?

Morgan just a little excited about her HUGE piece of pie.
We got our first snow. Don't be fooled by this innocent face. The snowballs went a-launching.

On the last day, we went to the Butterfly Pavilion. Everyone took a turn holding Holding Rosie the Tarancula. Of course, I had to first ask if she could sense fear. Even Gigi, who hates spiders put on a brave face.

Morgan was very interested in the butterfly release

We had lots of fort fun.