Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Helio "Customer Care" SUX!!

One of the most gawdawful experiences that I've ever had with "customer service" was over this past weekend, with Helio, a mobile phone company that I signed up with last month. For Mother's Day, AJS offered to buy me this new phone that Helio offers, the Ocean. It looked pretty damn cool, so I signed up on May 17. They claimed to have a 30-day total happiness guarantee, so I tried it out, figuring it would take a little while to get used to it. The bottom line is that I cancelled by phone within 30 days and during the cancellation call, I asked for information about sending my phone back; they said they'd mail it to me. When I didn't receive anything in the mail, I phoned them again and found that my cancellation hadn't been "recorded" and I was stuck with all my purchases, charges, early cancellation fees, totalling over $700. Part of this amount is due to monthly fees that are charged in advance, plus a pro-ration because the billing cycle starts on the 19th, and I initiated the account on the 17th.

Despite being a decidedly tech-friendly person, when I first received the Ocean, after several days and 2-3 hours on the phone with Helio's techies I still couldn't figure out how to do simple things like make a phone call (I couldn't make a call unless the number was loaded into the contacts) or send phone pics to my email. I ignored the defects for a while longer before AJS and I collectively decided that my phone was defective. Helio was notified, and I received my new phone on June 14, just a few days before the "happiness guarantee" was to run out.

The new Ocean's functions still weren't working properly and after a marathon 75-minute call on June 16 to technical support, that ended without resolving much, I phoned back the same day to let them know that I was still not "happy" and wanted to cancel the service. According to Helio managers, the 75-minute call was "recorded", but my later call to cancel was NOT. Therefore, I did not fulfill the requirements for the "happiness guarantee." I sound calm and collected now, but I'll have you know that I screamed and swore at the managers enought that they threatened to end my call twice until I calmed down. I FOLLOWED DIRECTIONS! THEY SCREWED UP BY NOT RECORDING MY CALL! WHAT ELSE WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO? "We're sorry, ma'am, that you were misinformed by our staff. Thank-you-very-much and we-hope-you-have-a-GREAT-weekend!"

It's several days later and I've filed a dispute with my credit card company. Caveat Emptor.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Parenting, AJS Style

A quote from AJS:

"Children should be taught to treasure their nightmares, to keep them in a soft quiet place and warm their hands by the glowing embers. We tell Rosie that, if she has monsters in her dreams, she needs to tell the monster's mommy that baby monster is being mean. Baby monster won't get cookies if it's mean.

And I think Samuel L. Jackson made the best parenthood speech ever in Pulp Fiction: 'The truth is, you are the Weak, and I am the Tyrrany of Evil Men. But I'm trying, I'm trying REAL HARD to be the shepherd.'"

Monday, June 25, 2007

Keeping him small

Dash is two (say it LOUD with index and middle fingers held up). And, I have to admit, he no longer looks the baby part. My soft, pudgy, neckless baby's morphosis into a leaner, taller toddler who can almost run faster than me (in heels) and carry on limited conversations with people is happening now and there's nothing I can do to to slow it down.

Knowing that my world with this little person, this toddler (soon to be preschooler) is set on high speed, I have a nightly ritual with him that I want to record here. Each evening I try to stop time, if just for a few minutes, during our before-bed routine. After we read a few books, I turn out his light, pick him up and hold him tightly; he drops his sweet little head on my shoulder, and I sway with him while singing him four or five lullabies before releasing him to his crib.

During this time, with only the nightlight shining in his darkened room, he is my baby, my little boy. The back of his neck still smells like baby, with lavender scent from his bath. I try not to notice that his feet are dangling close to my knees or that his arms are long enough to wrap around mine and hug me back.

Dash, I know we gave you an action verb for a name, but please don't grow up too fast.

Friday, June 22, 2007

If June 22 is your birthday

"The coincidences that mark the next six weeks aren't coincidences at all—the universe conspires for your sweet success. You'll be pursued by those who want to be in your inner circle. Past good deeds catch up to you and bring new luck (mostly financial) in August. Expand your empire in September. Taurus, Aquarius people adore you."


Dash, you're two years old today and such a delight to be around! I don't know if it's just because we understand baby-talk better, having been immersion-trained with Rosie, but you have been communicating so well! We get what you're trying to say and are able to act on it, which causes fewer frustrated moments, thank goodness. You ask for "wan BIG boc-boc, peesh!" and I know not to snap your graham cracker in two. You're learning from Rosie and want to do what ever she's doing, say what she's saying, sit where she's sitting and play with her all the time; most of the time, she lets you!

You are so coordinated, it's amazing to watch you dance, run, or just sit and figure out how to make something work (or take it apart). You love drawing, cutting paper with scissors, going "ou-siye" to help me water the flowers, running around with Rosie, throwing "bak-e-balls", rocks, sticks, and reading books with me. I love how you are so enthusiastic and cheerful, willing to try new things.

Of course, when we don't let you do something you want (even if you already said please!) you do get upset and have meltdowns, but you're pretty easy to redirect. We went to the pool yesterday and you wanted desperately to play in the park nearby, but as soon as you saw the water, the playground was forgotten!

It makes me wistful for the baby that you were, to see you getting so big, but I can hardly wait to see what you'll do and say next. I love you Dashie! I'm happy that you're two.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Late Father's Day post

AJS wasn't interested in going out for Father's Day, but he was absolutely fine with me taking the kids out, so the three of us celebrated Father's Day with my family. Rosie, Dash, and I met Grandaddy Jim, Grandma Sheila and Auntie M. at Overwood for their Father's Day brunch buffet, which was quite tasty and had a large selection of breakfast-y items. The kids were delighted to see their grandparents! Dash showed off his new "skill" that he must have learned from the other little boys at school (or for all I know, he taught it to all of them), which goes like this: he announces "spit! hand!" holds up his hand with palm facing in, then blows a raspberry at it. Genius! Rosie entertained us all by first insisting that I peel her grapes (not happening), then attempting to peel them herself.

After Rosie and Dash ate their weight in purple grapes and canteloupe, Granddaddy and Auntie gave them puppets that they'd brought back from their Italy trip. The kids loved them!! Thank you! We went for a walk over to the Torpedo Factory, where each of the kids got a balloon animal from a street vendor (Rosie: pink swan, Dash: blue doggie). Auntie M. wanted to go for a walk along the Potomac, but I was a bit foot- and shoulder-sore from carrying Dash in the sling (didn't want to walk or ride a stroller). It was also awfully bright out for my dad, who forgot his sunglasses (I know who I got my photo-phobia from!), so we headed back to my parents' house.

We met up with AJS later that evening, around 5 or so. He occupied himself by grilling elaborate foods all day; delightful, with no-one around to bother him! I hope all Dads out there had a great day.

Friday, June 15, 2007

An early Father's Day post

I just wanted to put a few plugs in for the main Dad in my life, AJS, father of Rosie and Dash. He is one of the cleverest, snarkiest, and sweetest guys I know, and I'm so glad to have him around to make me and the kids laugh every day. He is adept at long-distance tickling (just a wiggle of a finger from several feet away will get Rosie or Dash tied up in giggles), cooks us up the tastiest dinners every night, and for those of us that he loves, lets us know regularly.

If you're loved by AJS, he will tease you, share jokes with you, drive you to the airport (if you're in a pinch), and cook you food that you know is made with careful attention and love. He's not exactly transparent, but he tells it how he sees it; if he thinks you're being an idiot, he will let you know exactly that, and at the same time show you the humor in the situation. As a father, he draws the lines, creates the rules, and disciplines thoughtfully, yet entertainingly. Rosie and Dash adore him and he adores them right back! He is the goofy guy I dated, the wonderful man I married, and the silly daddy who loves to play the clown with our kids.

AJS, thank you for being so generous with your time, your love and affection with your family. You are raising two beautiful, laughter-filled, happy children who love to be around you, so we all know you are doing it well. I love you, and wish you a happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Our mini dictator

AJS and I sat down to dinner with the kids this evening, and shortly after he began to tell me about his day, this interference started (and continued throughout the meal, whenever we disregarded orders):



EAT!!! EAT!!!

We think he's channeling his grandmother Ikiko...


And, whaaaa? After staring at the graphic for several minutes and trying to glean a deeper meaning from the British 2012 Olympics' new logo, I have come to a conclusion. There is none. The hot pink disaster is a jaggy, "extreme," stacked-and-teetering version of the numerals 2,0,1, and 2.

No epilepsy here, but the ick-factor is hurts mi brain.


AJS caught Rosie and Dash sharing a chair at the dinner table.

They love each other, the cuties! I hope they keep it up forever.

As a side note, my orchid (on the kitchen windowsill) is about to bloom! This is not my orchid, but it is pretty close to what mine looked like last year:

Monday, June 04, 2007

A couple of movie reviews

This weekend, (TMI) we were all sick with various odd symptoms. Rosie had pinkeye, fluid in her ears and wheezing; AJS had nasty coughs that make him gag; Dash had a cough and sore throat; and I lost my voice with deep chest coughs and nasal congestion [update: I have a sinus infection]. SO, all that said, we stayed in a lot and watched movies.

AJS bought the winner of the weekend, Mulan. Rosie loved that it was about CHINA!, the father-daughter connection, all the action sequences, and that Mulan was probably going to marry Chang at the end. She said that she especially liked the "fat soldier" because he could lift a horse with people on it! Tien-Po was a mountain of a man, full of sweetness and strength. AJS thought it was hilarious that the voice of Yao, the fiercest, manliest warrior was performed by Harvey Fierstein (hee, hee). Dash would rather watch Thomas the Tank Engine, but not this one...

The bust of the weekend was my purchase (c'mon, how can you resist $8 at CVS?) of Thomas and the Magic Railroad. It had a cast of interesting characters, most notably Peter Fonda and Alec Baldwin and I recall it getting some press, I just couldn't remember whether it was good or bad. My rationalization was that Dash liked Thomas' TV shows, he was only two, so how could they screw it up? Here's how: it just dragged on and on with a pointless story that had no end in sight. I couldn't bear to sit through the whole 84 minutes. There were subtexts about lost childhood and magic draining away, and Peter Fonda just sulked through his part with no expression. Alec Baldwin was not loveable and why everyone was so excited to see him whenever he arrived on the scene was beyond me. Sigh. Dash wandered off after the first fifteen minutes. I'm surprised he lasted that long.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Blogging for LGBT family equality

I met Chris and John while collaborating on a project with the company Chris and I work for about 12 years ago. Their son, Kendall, is adopted and has various serious health issues, like severe asthma; also, Kendall is a different race than his adopted parents. They are all the same gender. It tickles me that Kendall calls Chris "Daddy" and John "Pop-Pop".

They are a happy, supportive family and the first that I'd met with same-sex parents. While I was delighted for them that they had adopted, there was a bit of a dark cloud over the adoption process that they went through back in 1995. Because they weren't a "traditional" family, their priority was shunted to lowest. In order to receive a child, they were left to choose from children that had been passed over by everone else. With expensive health issues and being born of a drug-addicted mother, Kendall was not a easy choice. Chris and John wanted to be a family and looked past all the negatives with Kendall and just saw his beautiful smile. They chose him, and despite the hardships, are a family to look up to, full of love.

I haven't done the research, but I certainly hope that adopting a child is easier for LGBT families these days. With all the other inequalities that are associated with same-sex couples, my hopes aren't high, but my heart goes out to all of the couples out there trying to adopt or start a non-traditional family. You deserve it!
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