Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Pile of Rocks

My hubby has become obsessed with baking bread because of a pile of free rocks.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Go ahead, read it again, I'll wait :)

Now let me explain...

Late last fall a stone building located near his office was knocked down and a sign that said "Free" was posted on the rubble.

Hubby began bringing home the rocks with the intention of using them for landscaping purposes. Before long he had amassed a large pile of rocks in the backyard and had decided that he needed to do some research.

Hubby is accomplished on all of the trades, save for one: Masonry.

So he set out on the information highway called the internet and in addition to researching outdoor patios and fireplaces he found information on summer kitchens and outdoor bread ovens. Knowing nothing about bread or baking (or the kitchen) in general he decided that in order to properly build an oven he needed to know how to bake bread.

I thought he was kidding. I mean really, bread? Some of the most accomplished cooks I know don't make bread. It's time consuming and difficult and can result in something akin to a baked rock if done wrong.

It's taken me seven years to get him to understand that you bake bread but cook dinner and now he's just going to jump into baking bread?!

My mother-in-law is a fabulous cook and has never attempted bread. Some people just know better.

I guess the good thing about having little, to no, kitchen experience is that hubby didn't know enough to be afraid.

Hubby doesn't read for entertainment, he reads to learn something.

He can do this for hours if uninterrupted and can be so involved in his reading that the boys can be screaming around him and he is oblivious.

I am not criticizing, I am jealous, but I digress...

He read and read until he felt confident enough to make his first attempt at making bread but as we all know reading and doing are entirely different things.

I brought home pizza sauce and cheese...The whole rising thing didn't go as planned and his first attempt ended up making really good pizza dough.

He tried again and we got a loaf of something that was a mistake but very delicious. Another loaf of something that could be used for sandwiches and a third loaf that he added blueberries and walnuts to that was out of this world!

Having had some success he opted for some Amish Friendship bread as a starter. This is the stuff that you add things too over time and then divide it up to give to people you hate to make them add stuff to it for a week and then they can make bread.

This was good but the breads that come from using this starter are all sweet bread like banana, pumpkin, etc.

Hubby was still reading.

He discovered sourdough.

Sourdough starter is a massive undertaking that requires "feedings" twice daily for a week before it is ready to be used. Before feeding one has to dump half of the starter into the trash, add the and flour and then cover until the next feeding when the process is repeated.

You do this for a week.

It smells like beer but the bread tastes like heaven.

When the starter is really active it gives off a gas that blew the lid off the container while we were coloring Easter eggs and scared the daylights out of the entire family.

One day he called first thing in the morning to tell me that he'd forgotten to do the morning feeding and when I reached up to grab the container the lid was gone. Evidently the gas had blown the lid off sometime during the night and it took two days to find the lid!

Hubby has become obsessed and smells the starter multiple times a night...yeah I thought that was weird too.

The sourdough starter can be used for pancakes, conventional sourdough, regular bread and pretzels.

Yes, pretzels!

His first attempt at pretzels was so good that I can't wait for the next batch! Auntie Anne's has nothing on this hubby. Those pretzels were out of this world!!!

We have a great relationship with the Amish family that lives behind us. We frequently drop off treats for each other's families. He dropped off pretzels as a thank you for the pumpkin pie they gave to us.

The wife was so impressed that she came over just to tell us how much they all enjoyed them and that she was impressed with the flavor!

Huge props as that woman can cook like there is no tomorrow!

His obsession has progressed to making 100% organic bread. He is very proud of the fact that we are no longer buying bread from the store and that we now have a freezer full of bread that we can use for any number of things.

It's been fun to watch him evolve into a bread man. The man who could only cook eggs, fish and steak is now making some of the best and most difficult bread on the face of the earth and I couldn't be more proud.

Breadcrumbs

I went to logon today and Blogger informed me that my last post was on January 28, 2015. Really? Where have February, March and now April gone.

Life is a blur!

Just before Christmas my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. In fact, it was four years to the day that we had the memorial service for my dad that mom was told that she was now a cancer patient.

She called me right away.

It was not the news we were expecting but given what it was it could have been worse.

Surgery was inevitable as was chemo. What type of chemo was where the big questions were and after two consultations with different oncologists she chose to do the one that was four treatments vs six.

We call it "chemo light."

There have been ups and downs and now that she is headed into the final treatment we are all breathing a hesitant sigh of relief and we begin to plan for the future.

Interestingly, when a family member is undergoing a treatment that takes place every three weeks, life begins to exist in three week chunks and before you know it, time has flown by at an amazing rate!

Lump that in with a home based cake business, part-time weekend job, twin two-year-olds and being a wife and mommy and there are never enough hours in the day and the house is always a mess.

I was never the type to keep a spotless house but I was never this bad before!

As much as I love my weekend job, I really miss weekends with my family.

My not being home to cook dinner has become a stressor between hubby and me and a constant issue that is best solved by my calling Dominos Pizza or bringing home Chinese.

After many evenings of arriving home to cranky kids and a stressed out hubby at 6:45 I finally told him that he really needs to figure out the whole making dinner thing so that we're not eating at 7:30 or 8 o'clock when I've finished making dinner.

In truth, it pissed me off to work all day and then have to make dinner when I arrive.

One weekend, in an attempt to ease this stress, I made a pan of pasta stuff (it's like lasagna only easier to make) and all he had to do was heat it up in the oven...which he did not do.

Argh!!!

I finally informed him that his inability to cook dinner was getting under my skin and it wasn't fair to the kids to make them wait so long to eat dinner either. We discussed the things that he could do that fell under his "I don't cook" limitations and I thought we had it settled.

I had another thought coming.

One night on my way home from work my phone chimed with a "what should I do for dinner?" message.

Sigh...

I replied (via voice to text) that there was chicken thawed in the refrigerator and he could put bread crumbs on it and put it in the oven or do it on the stove.

"How do I get the breadcrumbs on the chicken?" was his response.

Lord help us all!

A few weeks later on my way to work I received a text from hubby asking if he was supposed to peel kiwi fruit. I replied (again using the voice to text function on my phone) "Yes." He then asked if it was bad if you didn't to which I replied that it "was inedible." (I mean really, have you looked at it? It's liked eating velcro!)

Anyway, he asked me in what way it was it inedible at which point I lost it and was yelling at Siri to send a text message telling hubby to find a flipping knife! He sniped back that one of the boys had eaten it and wanted to know if they would be ok.

Oy vey...

Yes they will be fine but he might want to state that little tidbit first! He said I should have just answered the simple question and I replied telling him that he was right but that he was the man who asked "How do I put the breadcrumbs on the chicken?"

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Language Unto Itself

Four and a half years ago, mom, siblings, niece and nephews, cousins and an aunt and uncle accompanied my dad to the hospital to have his cancerous bladder removed. The doctor never got the chance. The cancer had grown so fast that it had breeched the bladder wall and invaded his abdomen.

He was opened and closed.

When the doctor arrived in the waiting area 45 minutes into what was supposed to be a 4-6 hour surgery I look at him and said, "Oh shit! This can't be good."

After my dad regained consciousness in the recovery room my mom and siblings stood at his side as the surgeon delivered the death sentence.

It was one of the worst moments of my life.

Prior to that surgery date, my mom and I has taken dad to meet with an Oncologist in Baltimore and I remember sitting in that little exam room listening to the doctor tell my dad what types of chemicals they were going to pump into him.

I took copious notes and studied up on all of the lingo associated with chemo.

We could never get him strong enough to endure the chemo. He opted to just have the surgery but even that was not an option.

He died less than two months after that Oncology appointment.

Cancer: 1 My family: 0

Two weeks ago, my siblings and I accompanied my mother to the hospital outpatient wing to have a lumpectomy that would remove the breast cancer that had invaded her body.

After my mom was taken into the prep area and well, prepped, my siblings and I were escorted back to stay with her until the took her into surgery.

As I entered the pre-op area I had a flashback of the recovery area we walked into four years ago. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and telling myself, "Not the same, not the same."

She came through surgery with flying colors and, despite arguing with me about almost everything, had recuperated very well.

Tie score!

Today we sat in an exam room in the same complex where we had taken my dad in Baltimore and listened to another doctor describe the toxins they were going to pump into my mother.

Oncology is a language unto itself.

One I had hoped to never have to learn...again!

There are two standard types of chemo that would work for my mom based on her hormone receptors and her HER2...still not entirely clear on that but it has something to do with proteins...and how they attack the ducts and breast tissue.

There is no such thing as good chemo but one protocol is a little tougher to tolerate than the other. We were referring to the second as chemo "light." Not that it's really any 'lighter' but it's four treatments over 12 weeks as opposed to eight treatments over 16 weeks.

There are other things that we've learned, one of which is that nearly 80% of all cancer patients are cured by surgery but there is no way to determine the difference between the 80 and the 20 and chemo is recommended to keep any rogue cancer cells from migrating and taking root in another part of the body. In other words, clear margins don't necessarily mean that there is no more cancer.

Another is that there are no two cancer patients that are the same. Cancer is a mutation and those mutations differ from one patient to another.

Chemo is really an insurance policy against one of those mutations implanting itself into another of my mom's organs. But...there are no guarantees.

The difference between my mom's cancer and the cancer that took my dad couldn't be greater but I constantly have to check myself to keep from going to the "worst case scenario" and "what if" crap that my brain likes to toy with.

Staying positive can be extremely difficult but I have to repeat the, "Not the same, not the same" mantra that I said over and over again in the hospital two weeks ago.

I have never been a terribly religious person. I consider myself to be a Christian as I believe in Jesus but I tend to venture more toward the spiritual side of worship and prayer. I talk to God every day and also find that prayer has a way of calming me down and focusing on the things that are important.

What is important is to concentrate on the here and now and give thanks for what we have.

We are blessed that she caught this so early that it's curable.

This too shall pass and before we know it we'll be sitting poolside soaking up the Vitamin D.

In the meantime, we'll take our supplements and pray for the chemo to be as gentle as possible on her system with the exception of making her cigarettes taste so gross that she comes out of this a non-smoker.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Powder Room

I bought two training potties quite a while ago. Initially both boys were interested but the novelty quickly wore out for the kids.

Or I was waaaaay too lenient with the positive reinforcement jelly beans.

Anyway...I originally began the potty training with them sitting down and purposely chose potty seats with tall splash guards. Then hubby changed course on me, "Because its more manly to have them pee standing up."

While this is a little more fun for the boys, it's entirely too much work for me and I put my foot down.

They sit.

There is plenty of time for them to be manly and stand to pee. We'll get there when their willies are over the top of the bowl.

In the meantime, we all struggle with the twin thing of trying to get two kids on the potties at the same time.

The Stuntman prefers the training potty on the floor but the Engineer prefers to sit on the big toilet with the insert because he has unlimited access to the flush handle.

Hubby and I have learned that the first release is not the full voiding of the bladder and they need to be encouraged to sit, relax and let it go.

This lesson was hardest learned by hubby who had brought the Stuntman into the powder room to pee. After the initial pee pee hubby prematurely removed the Stuntman from the potty set him on the floor where he proceeded to empty the rest of his bladder. At that very moment the Engineer exclaiming, "Pee pee!" stepped across the threshold and pushed hubby, in his stocking feet, into the puddle and closed the door behind him!

The powder room is a total of five and a half feet long and only 35 inches wide.

Hubby was now trapped in a puddle of urine (at least it was warm) with two two-year-olds one of whom is without pants and a diaper and the other wants to pee on the potty.

He'd reached overload!

What did hubby do? Scream for me.

What did I do? Laugh.

For some reason, he did not find this to be anywhere near as humorous as I did.

Anyway...he was in complete panic mode and practically stuttering when I came to his rescue. I joked that I do this all day long and don't see what the problem is. He replied that he can handle the peeing part it's the "multiple thing" that he has trouble with.

I guffawed!

Once I could finally breathe again I reminded him that we've been doing this for two years now so he might want to hurry up and figure it out.

Pooping on the potty has not been anywhere near as successful.

In fact it's happened only once with one of the boys and only because he had the runs and the timing was perfect. The problem occurred when the other one wanted to pee because the first one was on the toilet.

I was already in the powder room sitting on a tiny little stool across from the toilet in front of the sink when the Stuntman, not to be left out, pushed his way into the room yelling, "Pee too! Pee too!" and closed the door.

I was trapped!

Picture the scene here...

The Engineer was sitting on a Cars toilet seat insert that has handles on the side that when pushed make race car sounds. The Stuntman is sitting on the training potty next to me on the floor. Remember the room is just over five feet long and is only 35 inches wide.

Just about the same time I have the thought, "If he pees and his willy's not behind the shield I'm..." AAAACK!

He's peeeeeing......ON ME!!!

I put my hand up to block the stream which deflected onto the Stuntman. Both of the boys started to laugh and we were all in a fit of giggles when I whipped the door open and called to hubby. His response was that he could hear what was happening and I told him that he really needed to see the seating arrangement to truly appreciate it.

Getting peed on by the kids is nothing new. We went through the first six months of their lives in a defensive posture while changing diapers.

You just never knew when one was going to let loose.

It's been quite a while since I've had to be on my toes to keep from getting peed on.

I've yet to get either of them to poop on the potty again so I have no doubt that this will not be the end of the potty training stories. I am however, letting them control the pace that they are potty trained. I've read and heard more nightmare stories about people who pushed their kids and had accident after accident not to mention the stress for everyone.

It will happen in their time no matter what I do anyway.

That being said, I have learned my lesson.

I sit in the doorway when they are on the potties...safely out of the line of fire.





Wednesday, December 3, 2014

His Passion

Four years ago this morning I kissed my father goodbye for the last time.

He had been diagnosed with bladder cancer in September and took his final breath on December 3, 2010.

The world has not been the same since.

We all know that our parents are supposed to die before us. In fact, anytime someone loses a child the saying is, "You're not supposed to bury your children." It's a natural order of things to let the parents go first.

That being said, it doesn't make the loss any easier.

Dad was one of the healthiest guys I've ever known. He quit smoking in the '70s, rarely drank to excess, ate well and was not the least bit overweight. What he did suffer from was a genetic predisposition to cancer. Men in our family all get prostate cancer. Dad did but beat it with radioactive seeding. According to the oncologist, it probably wasn't even necessary but dad said that he didn't like living each day with the knowledge that he had cancer in him.

In the end it didn't matter.

Some people just draw a short straw the day they were conceived.  You can't argue with DNA.

After his biopsy confirmed the bladder cancer in September. He was scheduled for surgery in October to have his bladder removed and was trained on how to empty the "bag" that he would be wearing for the rest of his life.

Surgery came and went...the doctor opened him and closed him back up.

In the couple of weeks from the biopsy to surgery, the cancer had grown at lightning speed, breeching the bladder walls and taking over the lower part of his abdomen. There was nothing more that could be done.

He opted for palliative radiation in hopes that it would buy him a little more time but even that wouldn't do much to extend his life or the quality of what he had left.

The family and our friends rallied. We did everything we could to make what time he had left as good as it could be. From coordinating volunteer drivers to radiation and taking dad for his last sail.

Dad, who was a Quaker, turned to his friends and our pastor for spiritual guidance. His belief in God was deep but something he didn't force on others. Over the years we'd had some great conversations about God and spirituality and prior to passing he confided in me that he was concerned about the afterlife as he, "hadn't always been nice to people."

That was the most amazing thing about him.

Even as he lay in bed slowly surrendering to the cancer, his concern was not just about himself but about anyone he might have wronged.

I told him that I highly doubted that if God was willing to forgive those who had done something as heinous as murder, that He would be more than willing to forgive a man who would have yelled at someone because his passion ran high!

Dad was a passionate guy.

If he really believed in something you'd be best to just get out of his way or better yet give him a hand because he's going to draft you to help him anyway. He was instrumental in rescuing a yacht club from near bankruptcy. By the time he stepped down as Commodore the club was in the black, had expanded to put in an in-ground pool, started a sailing school and was holding regular regattas. Mom worked at his side and the club became the family annex. If you came to visit you could pretty much count on working.

Dad's passion easily translated to enthusiasm and you couldn't help but get involved. If you didn't believe in what he was doing he'd be the first to point out that you were wrong and he was known for having a temper and voice to go with it.

One of our friends loved the fact that he could get into a very spirited debate with my dad and when it was over, belly up to the bar and have a beer together. He was not a grudge holder.

He had a great sense of humor but a horrible memory. I could tell him the same joke every year and he'd laugh as if it were the first time he'd heard it.

I loved his laugh.

While he could be a really serious guy at times, he didn't take himself seriously.

Over the years we'd teased him about looking like Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther movies and referring to him as Chuckles. One Thanksgiving his sisters teased about attempting a comb-over because he hadn't had time to get his hair cut before the holidays.

He took all of it in stride and would even laugh with us (but did get his hair cut the next day.)

I think that's the thing I miss most...his laugh.

While my boys can look at his picture and know who he is, they will never know his laugh. He would have loved to play with them and I would have loved to have heard him laugh at their antics.

There is not a day that goes by that I do not miss him and I'm not alone. His impact on those around him was astounding! Which is both a blessing and a curse.

While we were all enriched by his presence but we all suffered when he passed. Fortunately, we were left with lots of great memories and stories to share.

While he is no longer here to laugh with us, I take solace in the fact that to this day I can still hear his laughter which makes me smile and warms my heart.

Friday, October 17, 2014

STOP! Leave It On!

In the grand scheme of things having a child remove his diaper is not a horrible offense. It hasn't happened when they are poopie (yet) but of course there is still time.

One evening both boys needed new diapers and I was changing the Stuntman while the Engineer wandered around the first floor. He walked into the playroom held out his hand to his father and I and said, "poop."

AAAAAAACK!

OMG!

OMG!

OH! MY! GAWD!!!

Despite the fact that his pants were still on his hand was covered with the contents of his diaper, which was indeed poop.

Fortunately the kids are old enough now that we don't have to worry about them falling off the changing table. I left the Stuntman on the table, grabbed some wipes and cleaned his hand while hubby held it firmly away from anything that might require sanitizing.

It was weird though. Having poop contact my hand while changing a diaper never bothers me. This, however, sort of freaked me out.

Hubby was totally freaked out and headed toward panic.  

It's been nearly two years of non-stop diaper changing and while he no longer gags when changing diapers he still gets easily frazzled.

Well, he gets easily frazzled anyway. Throw some poop into the mix and he heads toward berserk!

Tonight I had a cake to finish and I asked him if he thought he could handle bathing the boys while I worked. I mean, why not right?

I do it.

While working away in the kitchen I could hear the most amazing level of commotion going on upstairs including the unmistakable sound of at least one small child racing around the second floor.

Hmmmm... they were supposed to be in the tub.

At least they are still laughing.

Before long I am summoned to the second floor.

We've hit frazzled.

Seems that while dad was trying to get the diaper on the Stuntman, the Engineer decided to climb into the rocking recliner in the bedroom and release the contents of his bladder and then announced, "Pee pee!"

I hear hubby, "Oh no you didn't, oh no, you did! Honey! I need you up here he just peed in the recliner! You need to bring up some towels."

"The towels are in the linen closet next to you." I replied, desperately trying to hide the fact that I was laughing.

I finished what I was doing and ascended the stairs to find hubby STILL trying to get the diaper on the Stuntman and the Engineer, now empty, is racing around his bedroom enjoying the freedom that comes with being diaperless.

I grabbed the towels out of the closet, the Clorox wipes, headed into the bedroom and closed the door so I could clean without anyone trying to "help."

The pandemonium that went on on the other side of the door had me laughing so hard I was nearly crying.

The four funniest words I think I've ever heard were exclaimed by my hubby as I heard him yell, "STOP! Leave it on!" followed by the unmistakable sound of the tab on a diaper being pulled open and the Engineer releasing what could only be described as a victory scream.

I doubled over and my eyes filled with tears as I desperately tried not to laugh out loud.

I walked out into the hallway where the now once again naked child is racing around, hubby has bypassed frazzled and barreled right into berserk! I take one look at him and do what any loving wife would do and burst out laughing!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Right Side Out

Holy crap what a summer that was!

I set a new record for orders with my business, managed to keep the house relatively clean and even took a family vacation.

The importance of vacations, whether you travel or do the "staycation" thing just can't be emphasized enough. We were all pretty well strung out and desperately in need of time away from everything that had become our life.

So the first week of August we packed the car with the double stroller, double pack-n-plays and a couple of coolers of food, suitcases, toys, etc. and ventured out to my sister-in-law's boyfriend's house at the beach. The drive there was completely uneventful and perfectly timed, by you-know-who, to coincide with the twins' nap time.

Upon arrival we emptied the contents of the car, changed diapers - on the kids ;) - and began the sweep thru the house to move all breakable and valuable items above four feet. We were fairly successful with the exception of the Ficus tree that had these wonderful smooth rocks in the bottom of it. Beautiful yes but I spent the next five days in fear of one of those beautiful rocks being launched thru the sliding glass door.

The kids, having slept very well, and in a new exciting house were completely wired.

Haywire would actually be a much more accurate description.

Hubby is a really laid back kind of guy who is not the least controlling when it comes to the kids. Not that he allows bad behavior but was much less concerned about the concept of a rock thru a window or a child falling down the four steps to the back lawn.

While sitting and chatting over beers with his nephew, the Engineer knocked over hubby's beer and before he could get to it, it emptied nearly all of it's contents through the back deck. He was much less calm and I was suddenly transported to a frat house as hubby yelled, "Dude!" and the Engineer yelled, "Dude!" right back.

It seems that the Stuntman and the Engineer had switched roles for the week and I was a little out of sorts trying to wrap my brain around that idea. Fortunately, we had my SIL on hand to help out. She was completely amazing and my in-laws even came down for a day or two.

We took complete advantage of the extra hands and had our third date since the boys came into our lives. The sushi was amazing and we even took a walk on the beach while devouring some really yummy ice cream and holding hands.

Funny how the things that used to be important have changed.

I no longer need the shiny stuff that will eventually sit in my jewelry box. What I treasure most now are the calm moments where we can just lean into each other, not speaking but saying volumes about how much we love one another.

Priceless.

We fell into a wonderful pattern of slow mornings followed by a swim in the pool or a trip to the beach, nap time and another trip to the beach or back to the pool.

Naps are totally underrated!

While the boys napped hubby and I zonked out on the back deck under the awning in wonderfully cool breezes each day.

We had our own bedroom as did the boys. The two rooms were connected by a bathroom arrangement that had a sink and toilet on one end and a sink on the other with the tub/shower in the middle. The shower had one of those hand held shower head things with a hose that you could use just as a shower head or pull down and use as a handheld. It was a great arrangement and the boys like to be able to play with the shower head during bath times or just run back and forth between the rooms.

We've recently started the potting training phase of being parents. I'm a little perplexed as how to do this with twins as what one wants so does the other. It's not easy to strip (they like to take their pants off completely) two kids simultaneously and get them onto potties while keeping track of bodily fluids.

Hubby, in a rare show of machismo, doesn't like the idea of them sitting down to pee and decided that it would be good to have them stand on their training potties (they have lids) to pee into the toilet. In an effort to encourage them to do this, he doesn't close the door when peeing so they can see how it's "supposed" to be done. Yeah right...

At bath time he undresses the boys on the downstairs changing table and sends them up the stairs naked. They come into the bathroom climb up onto the kid potty and try to pee...sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Sometimes they try so hard they poop instead...isn't this fun!

Anyway...

As we were packing to leave the beach, hubby was peeing when I hear one of the boys say, "hose." I giggled and said, "No sweetie, that's daddy's willy." Hubby replied with a laugh, "Thanks for the compliment, but I'm pretty sure he was talking about the shower head."

Oops! HA!

The boys get more and more verbal every day and we constantly have to work on watching what we say.

Hubby seems lost on the the whole spell it out thing.

Multiple times now, after I've gone thru the trouble of spelling out something that I don't want them to hear like Jello, pudding or Fruit (they love the Welch's fruit bites) he has said what I dutifully have spelled out.

He thinks it's funny. At that point they're his to deal with.

Hubby's dishwasher usage has improved slightly, but he is still very challenged in the the department of laundry. He was the kind of guy who just threw it all in without even separating the lights from the darks, trying to get him to turn the boys clothes right-side-out has been a frustrating challenge.

I have no less than six loads of laundry to do each week. Most of the time it's not a huge deal but when the boys shirts are inside out I can't see what needs to be pretreated and I have to stop what I'm doing, turn them right-side-out and then pretreat.

Knit picky? Maybe...but she who does the laundry makes the rules.

One or two are not a big deal but depending on the day, the activity level and type they may go thru as many as three shirts in a day. Times two and that can be six shirts in a day and that adds up very quickly.

They are no longer at the age where we have to worry about them rolling off the changing table. Pulling off the shirts, turning it right-side-out and dropping it in the laundry takes a nano second.

The other night I picked up the clothes from next to the changing table to throw down the stairs and saw that the boys' shirts were inside out. I walked into the kitchen, handed each of the shirts to hubby and waited while he turned them right-side-out.

He laughed...I did not.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

If The Customer Service Sucks, Don't Spend Your Money On Their Products

Almost two years to the date that we purchased our Samsung microwave it stopped heating food. Everything else worked just fine. I followed the directions in the owners manual to reset and test to confirm that it was the magnetron (the part that heats) and then called Samsung to find out what I had to do to have the only part that was now still under warranty replaced.

That was December 2013.

Fast forward to today and I am now the proud owner of a Whirlpool microwave and will tell you that even if it's the lowest price on the face of the earth or even the only product of it's kind. If it's made by Samsung, DO. NOT. WASTE. YOUR. MONEY!!!

JUST DON'T

For eight months they have given me the run around. I have wasted countless hours on hold and dealt with some of the most incompetent customer service representatives on the face of the earth.

First they announced that I was out of warranty...I knew this.

Then they announced that if it was the magnetron it was covered...I also knew this.

Then they offered to sign me up for an extended service plan...cool.

Oops...no certified Samsung repair shops...ANYWHERE near here.

Then they transferred me to a Customer Service Agent who told me that I needed to take it to a Samsung certified repair shop. But wait...

Then they told me they would have to have someone call me within 1-2 days. It was approximately 1.5 WEEKS before I heard from anyone.

When someone finally did call me back they told me that 1. The machine was out of factory warranty but that the magnetron was still covered 2. I had to take it to a Samsung repair shop. They they put me on hold to look up said repair shop only to come back and tell me that one doesn't exist. I told them that I knew that and reminded them that I told them that when we first started the call.

I was then informed that our diagnosis of the magnetron had to be confirmed by a repair shop before they could do anything.

I asked why my hubby, who works on multi-million dollar equipment for a living, could do the diagnosis and was told that he wasn't certified by Samsung. I then pointed out that there was no one near us who was. They said that it had to be a repair shop, any repair shop. So I said, "What your telling me is that you will take a diagnosis from any Joe Blow about our microwave except from my husband despite his qualifications." They said yes.

They gave me a ticket number to reference and said that when I had the diagnosis to call back.

Approximately 48 hours later, before I could even find a repair shop, I got an email telling me that since they had not heard from me they were closing the ticket and I would have to start over when I was ready.

This went on for months.

They would give me the run around and then close out my ticket before I had the time to take the action they told me I had to take.

The repair shop that we took the machine to told me that they cancelled their Certified Affiliation  with Samsung because they were so difficult to work with.

No kidding?!

A month ago I spoke to someone in Executive Customer Relations and was told that they were going to do a pro-rated buy back of my machine since it had been such a "cluster" trying to get things taken care of. They would need the receipt to show what I paid and would then cut me a check.

Finally a light at the end of the tunnel.

Could I find this receipt? Nope. Of course I could find it until I needed it and then POOF it was gone!

I called Sears and they mailed me a copy of the original invoice.

In the meantime, I received an email from Samsung stating that since they had not received my receipt and were going to be closing my ticket.

WTF????

I received the receipt from Sears and called Samsung to find out where I send it and was given the choice of text messaging or Email. I took the information for both and immediately sent the receipt via text. Three days later when I had heard nothing back I sent another copy back via email.

I received a voicemail and email from the customer service team informing me that they had received the receipt and that it was out of factory warranty but that the magnetron was still covered and I had to take it to a Samsung Certified Repair Center.

Holy Crap!!! Are you freakin serious?! WTF did I do in my lifetime to deserve to deal with this level of incompetence?!

I called, waited more than 30 minutes just to speak with someone and when I finally got someone on the phone, guess what they said? Yup! You're right... The machine was out of warranty but the magnetron was still covered and I needed to take it to a Samsung Certified Repair Center.

O! M! G!

After a lengthy conversation with someone, who should never have been hired to have a job that requires verbal communication, I was transferred to the Executive Customer Relations where I held for at least another 15 minutes while being forced to listen to a pre-recorded message about how wonderful Samsung is. Yeah right.

After finally getting a human I was informed that the other human who told me that I would receive a pro-rated buyback was wrong, translation lying and/or incompetent, and they wouldn't be doing that since the machine was no longer under warranty. I pointed out that they only reason the machine didn't work was because of the only part that was still under warranty and was told that that didn't matter and after wasting two hours of my life on the phone, there was nothing she could do to help me and there was no one else I could speak to since she was in the Executive Customer Relations department and was as high up the chain as I could go.

So in essence, eight months, countless phone calls and countless hours later Samsung has basically told me to F-off and they don't care whether or not I am a happy or disgruntled customer.

Samsung is like the abusive domestic partner who will punch you in the face, not apologize and then tell you they don't care all while trying to make you feel like you did something wrong.

So, if you want to feel like an abused piece of crap go ahead, by all means buy a Samsung.

If however, you prefer to be able to trust what you've purchased, stay away from them...far away from them. There are lots and lots of appliance companies out there. Samsung neither wants nor needs your business. They are not willing to stand by their products so you shouldn't give them your hard earned money.

I will NEVER, EVER, EVER own anything that says Samsung on it again as long as I live. AND, I will be more than happy to tell everyone I know how crappy their product was and how terribly I was treated by their grossly incompetent Customer Service Department.

If you know me, you know I mean it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Powerless

Seems that this is the week for loss.

I recently posted about a former friend's father passing and now we have lost one of the greatest funny men and actors of all time: Robin Williams.

I remember when he took the world by storm on Mork & Mindy. Being a child of the 80s, I also remember watching countless comedy specials with him in them and even bought one of his albums!

I sat in the theater at the end of Dead Poets' Society with tears streaming down my face completely numbed and awed that the man who had made me laugh could act so brilliantly that he could also make me cry while simultaneously wanting to run out and take the world by storm.

Carpe Diem!

I too try to seize the day but it's not always possible because I too have depression.

I have battled it for years.

Most of the time I win but there are times that all I want to do is go to sleep and never wake up.

People who do not have or who have never been exposed to depression think that it's something you can control with sheer will.

They are wrong.

There are many types and severities of depression but few if any can be dealt with by physical exercise, a clean house, change of attitude or any other suggestion from someone who means well but is clueless.

This may come as a surprise to some, but I have been on antidepressants since May of 1999.

I originally began taking them as a means to help quit smoking. Once done, I stopped taking them, and sank into a depression that rendered me nearly helpless.

I began to cry...and couldn't stop.

My (then) husband got me to the doctor and I started on the antidepressants in earnest.

The only time I've been off them was while I was going through IVF to get pregnant. Which by the way made a miserable pregnancy even worse.

I know that I need them. I know that I'm better with them. I know that having to take them has nothing to do with who I am morally.

So why do I still hiccup when the topic comes up?

Because not everyone does.

People still think you can work off depression.

The only way that works is if you are unemployed and depressed as a result. If you get a job, yes you will feel better but that's situational depression and not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the chemical kind.

People still think that depression is "all in your head."

Well yes, but it's a synapse thing and nothing like what they think it is.

When the demon roars it's head I can feel the weight and gloom envelope me like a nasty, wet, woolen blanket that I can do nothing to keep from coming into contact with.

I am powerless to stop it.

It will bear down and stay until it dries out and I can push it off.

I am not weak and I don't do pity parties.

Depression has nothing to do with strength and "positive thinking."

Most days are very manageable. But then there are others...

My father passed away in December of 2010. In January, despite taking my daily dose of antidepressant, I had slipped into a depression where I started to cry and couldn't stop. It was lunchtime and I was behind the wheel of the car.

No knowing what else to do I started driving toward my doctor's office.

They were closed for lunch so I called a friend who stayed on the phone with me until the office opened.

Once I was able to get through to my doctor's office she got on the phone with me and stayed there until I walked into the office building.

There was nothing that day that triggered it. There was nothing I could have done to stop it. All I knew was that my doctor could help and my friend fights the beast too and would understand my panic.

I'd been down this road before.

I was terrified.

There is much talk about depression now that Robin Williams has committed suicide and I hope and pray that the conversation will last more than the standard 72 hours that most people seem to think is appropriate.

If we believe social media Robin is now "free" and "at peace." I'm not really sure about that.

Social media and religion also lead us to believe that our loved ones who have passed are "watching over us" and "always with us."

If that is the case and Robin is indeed "watching over" his family, I have no doubt that he is not at peace as he watches his family endure their pain as a result of his taking his own life.

There is no peace for anyone.

Suicide begets suicide.

Those who are "thinking about it" or that "have a plan" can easily be swayed to exercise that plan if they believe that their answers lie in their own death.

I ask that everyone be careful to not romanticize death or to act as if it's the answer.

It's not.

Be responsible and be proactive.

Don't wait for your friends or loved ones to call you. They won't.

Call them. Make sure they know you love them. That they are important to you. That they matter.

We'd all rather hear those things while we are alive than have it said as a eulogy.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Loss

I recently learned that a former friend has lost his father, a man that I also knew and remember with great fondness.

I know that everyone eventually dies and yet that knowledge does little, if anything, to quell the sadness that has washed over me.

The loss for the family is great as he was a really great guy.

Anytime I hear of someone losing their father the pain returns. I can fully empathize with that person's loss as I have "been there, done that."

In fact, there is not a day that goes by that I don't miss my dad.

Yes, I know that he "is with me all the time," blah, blah, blah...

Nice thought but it's just not the same as hearing him laugh.

I miss him.

I really, really miss him.

Some days the pain is nearly crippling. Other days it's just a dull throb but the pain always seems to be there always rearing up when something triggers it.

Today it was the loss of a former US F-Class Rifle Team member. We shot together in South Africa in 2005. We shot together on teams in Canada. We were teammates, competitors and friends.

He made me laugh.

His loss takes just a little bit of laughter out of my life.

May he rest in peace and may his family find comfort in the thought that his passing through the heavenly gates has restored him to health.