And on the 5th day of Christmas...
December 29, 2008
As a kid, did anyone else think that the 12 days of Christmas were the days before Christmas?
We have had a whirlwind of happy festivities. Santa came on Christmas Eve, then we spent Christmas day with family, on the 26th, we went to a birthday party, and on the 27th we celebrated the 7th day of Chanukah.
Our guitar hero.
Miranda and Kit, her new doll.
Arabella playing with her new toy
Uncle + Niece + Nephew + Niece
All together now
Happy Birthday T!
Chanukah O Chanukah
Come light the menorah
Arabella tries rice cereal and likes it.
December 24, 2008
Santa swung by our place last night, dropping off toys for the good girls and boys. And Rob too.
Rob has been playing Guitar Hero for approximately 12 hours. With breaks for lunch and supper. And church. We went to the longest children's mass ever told. The high point was Henry repeating "I hate church" just loud enough for everyone around us to hear it.
I haven't been writing much in this glorious run up to Christmas because I have been busy and not very Christmas-y. Christmas carols haven't even thrilled me. I did the worst job wrapping presents I may have ever done. I was too lazy to write the From: Mom and Papa on any of the tags. I frosted Christmas cookies, but not decoratively. I have barely dressed Bella in Christmas clothing.
In the amusing Sarah category: Henry and Miranda call Rob Papa. Except when the call him Pops. Or this week, Pa. As long as I stay Mom, who am I to complain?
And the kids still know the words to "Hanukkah O Hanukkah." And we haven't quite hit 4 nights of candle lighting, but the perfect is the enemy of the good and all that, right?
Arabella is a sleeping and eating champ. She is a savant =) She slept 7 hours last night. In a row! Henry and Miranda barely sleep 7 hours straight. And Miranda has been sleepwalking, I think. More a note for me, in case this becomes a problem and I want to date it back. We started Bella on runny rice cereal. She loves the spoon and the cereal. It is too cute and has cut down on her "uh-uh-uh'ing" during our supper.
Tomorrow we're off to Green Bay for more family time, then Friday we have the my-mom-dad-brother-family Christmas time. And at night a terrific birthday party. Then Saturday, Chanukah fun. And Sunday to rest, I hope.
May your holiday be filled with cheer. Or at least amusing moments. Merry Christmas!
In the Spirit of Christmas
December 23, 2008
What have I been up to? Shopping, wrapping, cooking, sighing, waiting. And working. Oh so much working. But so goes the freelance life.
Via Windows Movie Maker and Google Video, I present some holiday cheer:
First, Henry's preschool Christmas play:
Second: the Christmas play Miranda wrote and performed
And from tonight, whiel the Chanukah candles were burning, Arabella is enjoying some extremely runny rice cereal. And singing!
December 10, 2008
There are too many things to write about.
I tried to call in gay today, but the kids said they didn't discriminate and I needed to stay on the the job.
Arabella turned 3 months yesterday. She has found her hands, she just hasn't grasped what they can do for her yet.
She is balancing sitting against the corner of the couch, all scrunched up. And look at those legs. She has adorably chunky legs. And happy. Arabella is still a happy baby. She has her morning nap, her late morning nap, her afternoon nap, and then her evening nap and then bedtime. She still wakes up to eat 1-2 times a night, defined by me from 11 until 6. Usually at 11 and then at 4. She has figured out she doesn't have to go right back to sleep, but I am getting pretty good at convincing Rob to put her back to sleep.
And here she is all long and stretched out.
We saw Santa twice in about 2 weeks. Miranda has a list. Henry is vague, And Arabella doesn't seem to mind a large bearded stranger is holding her.
Henry was much less vague about St Nick coming. That was a big Hooray!
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care. Arabella's stocking isn't quite finished, so we pinned a baby sock to it. I am hurrying to finish by Christmas, for no other resaon than I won't have to think about it next fall.
I would be far more amused if I believed AT&T were conspiring against me and not incompetent.
December 9, 2008
Last Christmas or so, sitting at my grandparents' house and bereft of the casual high speed internet connection on which I have grown to depend, I gazed at the calendar. I saw an abnormally high number of visits planned for 2008. We had 2 wedding showers, 2 weddings, an anniversary, Easter, and potentially 2 graduations. In the first 6 months.
I plotted to get DSL at my grandparents' house. I looked online and found a $9.99/mo deal.That seemed fair. But I wasn't creative enough to figure out how to order the service online. And I was going to pay for it in 6 month chunks my credit card. I was delusional.
I called ATT. And I got the most charismatic person I may have ever dealt with there. On the telephone, for the privilege of placing my order that way, I had to pay $14.99/mo. And quite honestly, I do understand a person costs more than a computer. But having the ongoing monthly fee based on your initial contact strikes me as ridiculous. The telephone also lost me the free installation offered online. And why didn't I just hang up? Think some more? The salesperson was helpful and kind and assuring. He promised me a $50 Visa card to make up for the installation charges. I paid for 6 months of the service and the installation charge.
Getting the service installed was painful. The modem I just purchased from ATT wasn't on the self-service tool at that point. But after several hours of Rob's help, the DSL was working. And it was sweet. Well, it was slow.But it was basic service. We tried to leave instructions for my grandmother on how to use email and Google. It didn't really stick. She was not convinced that the faster internet was worth anything, but she indulged my desire.
A wedding was cancelled. I was newly pregnant, and silent about it, but sick and useless feeling. I think the kids got sick. I was sick. We did not visit nearly as much as we planned. Sometime in spring, I notice that the internet connection is very slow. Annoyingly slow. Slower than dial-up. But the connection is faster on my laptop than on the machine, maybe the problem is the machine we gave her?
The next visit, it is still slow. Rob is along and he agrees. And we have billing problem. A bad problem. Now ATT is giving us a $15/mo credit (not a lower rate, but a monthly line-item credit) on the $30/mo DSL. I wanted to pay a monthly amount toward the DSL--namely $15.81/mo. I was assured that my one time payment would cover 6 months. Yet, lo and behold, the bill is high. And the credit is missing. It turns out ATT and my ideas of how I would pay for the DSL did not agree. They gave my grandparents' bill a large one-time credit. My grandmother got the bill. She was reluctantly gong along with my plan. She get a bill that says she owes nothing, so she pays nothing. This happens for 2-3 months. And then the bill jumps up. She objects--not to the$0 bills, but to the $40 bills.
Sigh. I spend 2-3 hours on the phone with ATT. I start that morning with a broken connection and a large bill. As the morning progresses, I learn about the the lump sum credit--not a monthly dole out of the credit as I thought would happen. The DSL support staff admits the line is not working well. A repair person is dispatched for the next Monday (it was, of course, Saturday).
Ah, the bill. I tried being patient and sweet and understanding. I tried being firm and polite. After one particularly long hold time after being bounced from billing to internet and back to billing, I was a little loud. Distressed. Frustrated. Probably sarcastic. I am sure that rep "lost" my call--he wouldn't have hung up on me, would he have? The joy of calling the phone company (see how easy that sarcasm slips in?) is that they can see when you called, how long you waited and how often you were bounced around. I finally called and I think was immediately queued to a manager. This was after the hang up. I bucked up and decided that killing them with kindness was my last call. And I mentally composed my complaint to the state consumer protection staff.
I was kind, slow and patient. I understood we had screwed up too. I had no hope of having better options for the next 6 months. The manager, seeing my long morning on hold, gave me a credit to get our account back to zero. But I had the future to deal with. The only way they could suggest I pay monthly was to write a check each month. I left my grandmother 3 checks. I have since given her more. Throuhg illness and cancellation, we haven't made it there nearly as often as I expected, which is sad for reasons other than the internet connection use.
Since then, the monitor has broken. The DSL lost all of its settings. I had a baby. But when we visit, I genuinely enjoy having the service. And it is cool to get email from my grandma. Until the last one--she said the bill was up. I was confused. we should have had that rate for at least a year. It was at most 10 months.
My grandmother mailed me her last 5 bills. And it says in August that the rate is increasing for September--from $14.99 to $19.95. I call ATT. First I learn that the bill has gone up. (Having read Flea's brilliant customer service tales, I was even meeker than normal.) I ask why. I am sent to the Internet support area. The internet support staff agrees that the bill is erroneously high. The rate went up but she didn't think it should have. She offers me a $20 credit for 4 months of high bills. I thank her. But she has to send me to Retention to have the rate restored permanently.
The long transfer. The phone rings, a long "hello?" like I am calling a person who is either hungover and sleeping, not a business at 1 in the afternoon. The Retention rep doesn't seem to know who I am or why I am calling. He sounds skeptical that the woman in Internet sent me here to have my rate changed. He thinks it will take 1-2 bills to have the rate adjusted. When he sees my credit, he can't get over that it will be FREE in January. I said, no, we're getting back the money we overpaid you. We finally agree on the lower rate. I promise to call back if the rate is still $19.95 in January.
My grandmother thinks the internet should go bye-bye. It has been unreliable. It has cost too much (Arabella's birth interrupted the process of giving her the Sept/Oct/Nov checks.) And she plays solitaire. She has had 9 months to get into email and Google and has not. I am conceding. But I really wish there were a way to turn on the modem and have internet connection on the weekends we visit.
So my 2 problems unsolved:
1. Getting an internet connection away from home. I'm willing to pay something, just not everything.
2. Why can't you help out someone with a monthly bill, well, monthly? I don't think my grandmother is that unusual to not read her bills very closely. She missed the credit. She missed the rate change--she just sees the bottom line. We shouldn't have to spend hour and hours on the phone trying to fix something that shouldn't be broken. (FWIW, I asked ATT if I could set up a monthly credit card payment to their account. Not for a partial payment. Could I have their DSL billed to my ATT account? No.)
Things that make me cranky
December 7, 2008
Knowing that writing this down will probably not make me feel better.
Waiting for Christmas cards
Choosing children's mittens and keeping track of said mittens
Having the shower spray me when I start the water because the last person turned off the water but not the shower
Questions about my milk supply
Wet towels on the bathroom floor
Blueberry beer that looks like a microbrew, but is really from A-B
Recyclables on the side of the sink (and I do it too)
Feeling behind on freelance work (sorry D)
Snow forecasts that promise 1-12 inches of snow in the next 48 hours...for so many reasons
Arabella's car seat
Seeing airfare sales and not being able to consider buying them
Slickdeals not having anything that even makes me expand the title
ADDED: Going to the emptied garbage can and finding no bag.
Wishing I had a companion list of things that amuse me.
December 3, 2008
- Do you think Mrs. Kennedy has made December 1 the least blogged day of the year? As 30 days of NaBloPoMo has sapped the blogging will?
- Our fabulous friend K is graduating with her masters degree in 11 days. She visited today, with S, O and F. Miranda was going to miss the fun--darn school and religious ed--and she was sad. I pointed out that we were going to celebrate with K on her graduation day.
Miranda asked what she was doing.
I said she was getting her masters degree, like Papa.
She said, what's a masters degree?
I said, it's when you go back to college after college to learn more.
And she said, like when you do really bad in college and you have to repeat it?
I said, um, no.
That is probably more amusing to me, as a mere BA-degreed person.
- Didn't everyone's mom have you make a chain to count down until Christmas, birthdays, vacations, the next time you can ask for that toy? Mine did. And still does--you should see her countdown to retirement chain.
We made chains a lot. And my kids make chains a lot. When K's daughter, S, was sad that her family was leaving our house this afternoon, we pointed out that we'd all see each other in 11 days. Henry said--Make a chain. And we did. And it made us all happy.