Monday, December 04, 2006

LIttle News Tid-Bits

dateline - Madison, Wisconsin

Our second floor (and part of our first floor) wall repair, painting and wood work refinishing is done!! It looks spectacular!!!! Our bedroom is a very soothing muted sage, girls' bedroom is a relaxing sky blue and their playroom is a vibrant purple. The back stairs and first floor hallway have had major plaster repair and replacement done and are painted a creamy off-white. Of course, now we just want to keep going. One project leads to another...and another...and another in these old homes.

We are reassembling the house. Our bedroom is bad together as is the bathroom (also repainted a bright laurel green). The girls playroom/bedroom flip has not yet happened - we are making strides in that direction though.

Roofing isn't slated to start now until January or February.

In other news, the WI Women Volleyball Badgers won both Friday and Saturday night's first and second round NCAA play-offs. GO BIG RED!!! We were treated to a very exciting game in the Field House on Friday night - especially game one where Notre Dame stood their ground and we had to go to a 36-34 game to finally pull out the win. Saturday night found us adults at Kathy's birthday party at a lovely Bed and Breakfast Inn and Organic Farm in the country, dining on a scrumptious pot luck vegan supper. A good portion of the crowd are v-ball fans, so at 7:15 we flipped open my laptop and watched live feed of the game - even projected it on the wall using a power point projector. We watched a 3 game victory for the Badgers. We all seriously comtemplated hitting the road for Austin, TX for this Friday's game, but decided to settle for meeting together at someone's house with take-out food and our laptops and projector to watch the game together. I would like to now humbly retract any smart-ass comments I've made about people watching sports together in someone's living room, yelling with jubilation at the screen, since I have now joined the ranks of this crowd. If the women manage to make it all the way to the finals, we are actually seriously consdering heading your way, Sonya, as the finals are in Omaha!!

And last headline, I ended up in the ER on the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving with a severe allergic reaction - eyes swollen shut, fat lips and tongue, still breathing, but not as easily as usual and hives everywhere. To what you ask? I have NO IDEA!! I'm still coated in hives after a week of prednisone and am now on new meds until I can see my doctor next week and get an allergy appointment on the books. I'm now the proud owner of an epi pen. I feel like I'm playing a game of chance, wondering what set off the reaction and what might set it off again.

Why We Arenb't Fans of The Pciture People

We like studio shots every so often - for birthdays and a family picture once every couple of years. We've lucked out with a fantastic local place where we end up with about 50 (literally) 4x6 shots as proofs to keep no matter what we order (for the $25 sitting fee). In the past year or so we've been less pleased (after they switched to digital) with the quality and the photographers seem less inspired (a couple are down right cranky...and our kids aren't hard to photograph, so I can only imagine them with a wiggly toddler). We talked with the manager, who apologized profusely and sweetened the deal with free this and that.

Then Picture People came to town, so we thought we'd give them a whirl. I was appalled to find out that they THROW AWAY whatever you don't buy - and they seem to print the entire package (four or five sheets per shot). The waste seemed horrible to me - not at all green!! So I talked to the managere and told her we'd be willing to try them IF they printed us a proof sheet and not all the wasted prints. Anxious for new customers (as they had just opened) she agreed. She took the pictures herself (nice energy and good photographer). We were very pleased - got the prints we wanted with minimal waste and didn't pay an arm and a leg for stuff we didn't want. We felt good about the experience.

So, we went back this weekend. I talked to the same manager gal as last time to ask her to take the pictures - sure, no problem. She was less inclined to print the proof sheet (they're well established now with booked appointment schedules, so less willing to court customers). But she agreed not to print full photo packages of each print and took way more shots than their usual handful. We were very happy with the pictures - she has a great repport with the kids and a good eye for poses.

The appointment to pick up the pictures SUCKED to put it mildly - we met with a different gal (our gal was off that day). High pressure sales - complete with the attempted guilt tripping for not wanting to buy the tri-print combo with frame. The pose they'd picked for the 10X13 they were pushing was our least favorite (we all had our heads titled - looked like we'd just come off some ride at Disney World). The woman was a really pushy - barely breathed as she's trying to talk us into prints. I finally asked her to step back, so we could think (luckiily we'd looked at our prints on-line so we knew what we wanted - and we'd also figured out who we were buying for ahead of time, so we weren't buying more than what we needed). Gal was p*ssed that we weren't all "ooo and aaaaa - we need 42 of these and 16 of these prints). We got holiday cards, so it wasn'tl like we didn't spend a chunk of change.

Then it came time to get our prints - we left the store, ran an errand and came back in the designated 15 minutes time to find red lines in our prints. Did they bother to proof the pictures before they put them in the envelope? Apparently not. So when our overly-pushy sales gal opened the envelope to review the order, there were these lovely red lines through our prints - not acceptable. So, she hasitly apologized and said she'd have them done again. Just another 10 minutes please. Now our window of time was quickly closing until we needed to hook Gemma up with a friend to go see the Nutcracker and we had to leave - should have left earlier. This now means another trip out to the mall to pick up our prints. Neither Jani nor I are fans of malls - I'd rather walk through hot coals than be in the canned music-filled mall, especially this time of year. And its a 15 minute drive - so not an efficient use of our time or fuel for the van either.

So a call to the manager about our expeirence is on the docket for today - especially given that we need to drive back out to pick up our prints. So I'd love to have pictures to show you all - however its not happening today.

Will we go back to the Picture People after this - NO WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 01, 2006


Our school district has a new "health" policy - healthy and nut-free snacks for classrooms, no candy or other junk foods for rewards - basic logical stuff. One day this week I sent a left-over cupcake in Gemma's lunch, figuring she'd love a little treat. That night, the cupcake came home untouched in the lunch box.

Me: "Gemma, you didn't eat your cupcake?"

Gemma: "No, because the prinicpal was in the lunch room and she looked at me funny, because I didn't have a healthy food in my lunch."

Me: "Did you ask the prinicipal if the cupcake was ok or did you just assume it wasn't because she looked at you?"

Gemma: "No, I didn't ask. She just looked at me."

I reassured her that an "every once in a while" treat of a cupcake in her own lunch was not a violation of the health policy. I put the cupcake back in her lunch for the next day.

That night, the cupcake was still in her lunch box. Repeat the above dialogue, only this time it was the classroom teacher that Gemma perceived was angry about the cupcake.

So I again reassured her that I couldn't imagine the cupcake would be an issue, though I suggested she eat it at home after supper before it got stale - it was getting a bit banged up with its many travels to and from school.

I decided it might be time to give the principal a ring to see what her insights might be. Of course it was just as I had imagined - a cupcake in one's own lunch box is not a problem.

The whole incident was just such a reminder to me that
a) these little kindergarteners are still just babes - and so literal in their interpretations - if a grown-up at school told her that they could only bring healthy foods to the classroom, then it must apply in all situations at school.

b) that we need to work with her on how to check out assumptions, rather than rely on a small tidbit of information, with her so she can avoid assuming something that really isn't there.

I felt badly for her, thinking about her trying to quietly slide her cupcake back into her lunch box to avoid getting in trouble, though the story is terribly cute. The institution of school is such a big and some days overwhelming place for these little ones.