Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Valued Customer?

I need to vent. Now, like most folks out there, I love Christmas and the Season of Giving, etc. and it's just inevitable that with all the gift-exchanging going on, we're going to run into a few duplicates. This year was actually pretty good-we just had a few books, movies, cd's and such that we got more than 1 of. Of course, all the things we got duplicates of are all the items that did not come with gift receipts. Go figure...and I just HATE asking someone for the reciept after-the-fact.

So, we got 2 of the same floor puzzles for the twins and I knew that one of them was purchased at Toys 'R' Us and also 2 Sleeping Beauty DVD's. Off I go to the store to make an exchange or get a gift card. With the girls birthday coming up in just a few weeks, it's not like I'll have any trouble spending it! Whoa...nice try! Game over. Toys 'R' Us apparently will not take back ANYTHING without a receipt. Period. And if you do have a receipt, it will be credited back to that person unless they paid cash.

They then proceed to tell me that they can look up the purchase if I have the phone number of the person who purchased it and around what date. Luckily, I had my sister with me, who was able to supply mister-grumpy-pants-customer-service-yeah-right-rep with my sister-in-laws # and the day it was purchased on. Nope. Nothing. He says it never happened. Sister tells him it was right here, in this store on Nov. 27th. Sorry. Take your stuff and leave. You're getting squat. Be happy you have 2 of something instead of nothing! AAARRRRGGGG!

Target and Meijer are the same way now, or so I've been told. Wal-mart appears to be a little better-if it has their sticker on it, they will give you a gift card without a reciept. Now, I understand where the stores are coming from to a certain extent and I realize that theft may play a role in this as well, but I am returning something that is NEW, unopened and not seasonal. They will sell it again and I am going to be spending that same return money in their store and most likely more! It seems like a no-brainer to me...now I just have a bad taste in my mouth and will reconsider shopping there in the future. Does anyone else run into this problem? Is there some other way around it? Sell it on eBay, you say? Good idea. At least I can get something for it rather than a snotty CSR telling me to take my business elseware. Fine. I will!

P.S. Thanks...now I feel much better!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


I seriously have no idea what day it is...it is Saturday, right? When Mike was in California, it felt the same way. All the days just rolled together, into and over one another until I had no idea what day I was dealing with! With Mike off of work for several days, having him home really messes with my internal clock. I've thought "tomorrow" was going to be Monday for the past 2 days-and "tomorrow", it still won't be Monday! Am I confusing you yet? No? Darn.

We had a lovely Christmas at home with the girls Christmas morning, promptly followed by Christmas with my family over at my brother's home at 9:30am and then over the river and through the woods to my Grandparent's home for Christmas at 3:00pm. All the food was great, the gifts never-ending and the time with family was priceless. Every member of my immediate family was in attendance! The girls did really well and we had almost no conflicts the entire day-a real Christmas miracle!

The dollhouse that Lauren and Tara got from Santa was by far the biggest hit and they haven't stopped playing with it since. Mike and I both received many of the things on our wish lists and couldn't be happier. You know, I do enjoy opening gifts but what I really like is watching other people open theirs. There's just something about seeing smile, after smile, after smile in succession-you can't help but be touched by the joy they are radiating. It's just plain wonderful. I love Christmas. Yes, I do!

***I'll try to get some photos posted of the girls opening some of their gifts in the next day or two, so stayed tuned!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve!

As far as I know, the girls are completely over whatever attacked them. Mike and I are fine, although I did have a little bout with something yesterday. We are fairly confident it was food poisoning from dinner, since it hit both girls at the exact same time and was over in a matter of hours. They seem to have rallied and are getting super excited about Santa coming tonight!

All of our presents are wrapped and under the tree, with the exception of the gifts Santa is bringing for the girls. The stockings are hung and there is a serious layer of snow on the ground. We should be all set to enjoy a wonderful Christmas Day together with our family-something that I look forward to every year!

So to everyone out there who reads this little blog, Merry Christmas! May your day be filled with the Wonder and Joy of the Season!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oh boy....

Last night was not much fun, I'll put it that way. While celebrating Christmas with our friends Deane and Linda, Tara decided to "lose it" in the downstairs bathroom. Now, it could have been worse but it was pretty contained on my favorite rug....nice. At that point, we just chalked it up to over-excitement or too many sweets. We all went to bed early, hoping that would be the end of it.

Ha! No way! Next was Lauren at 12:30am, then Tara, then Lauren....you get the picture. I ran out of sheets and blankets and pillowcases sometime around 3am and had the laundry going full throttle. Mike was a big help, as always, and finally took over the process on his own after 3am. I was starting to have a serious breakdown by that point.

It's now 9:30am, both the girls are up and snuggled up together on the couch. I am afraid to give them anything to eat and I know that every parent goes through this dilemma at some point or another. Small sips of water seems to be staying down ok, so I think we'll stick with that for now. Now the waiting game begins to see if Mike or I are next. We're still not sure if it was food poisoning (they both had the same dinner and lunch) or something more severe. Please keep your fingers crossed for us that this is the end and we'll all be healthy enough to enjoy a wonderful Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snowglobe on Steroids!

That's what it looks like out there! We had something like 15 inches of snow by 2pm on Friday, a beautifully blue but cold day on Saturday and today we awoke to 35 mph wind gusts and more snow! It can stop already!

Friday's snow was so deep that people all over the city were getting stuck on the side streets. With 1-2 inches falling per hour, the plows just couldn't keep up! Mike and I helped several people in our neighborhood get home, even towing their cars with our Yukon. We let several neighbors borrow our 10hp snow "thrower" (as Mike likes to call it) and dug others out. It was crazy but also a good way to come together, reconnect and lend a helping hand.

We got Mike's parents off to Florida yesterday, after the second attempt. There were so many flights canceled and delayed and rerouted-but I think they finally made it to PCB! And I couldn't help but check out the forecast for down there-Thursday, December 25th...78 degrees!!!!! Now that would be weird....but I think I could handle it!

The girls are really chomping at the bit to get outside and play with all that new snow but with wind chills below zero, I don't think it's going to be happening any time soon. But I'll get the scarves and hats for the snowmen ready anyway-just in case!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas, Christmas time is here....

The weather experts are giving us close to a 100% chance of having a white Christmas this year, which is always nice. We have plenty of it on the ground now with a major storm coming in tonight and lasting through Friday. They say to expect 6-12 inches of new snow with a another system coming through on Saturday....gee, great. At least with that much snow, we can make some decent snow-people in the yard!

The girls have their Christmas party at school today and I am in charge of the games. How do I get roped into these things? I came up with one where instead of passing the "hot potato", we are passing the "freezing snowball". I went out and bought one of those bath-scrunchy-thingamabobs in white to make a pretend snowball-it's soft and easy to catch so I figured it would be good for minimal injuries! We are also going to go "ice skating" using paper plates. They have to skate around the room on their skates/plates slowly or quickly depending on the speed of the music! This should be good...

Quickly, on a health note, I spoke to the Dr. yesterday and I am being referred to a Hematologist. He just wants to make sure that I don't have any other factors that are causing my blood to clot abnormally, such as Factor V (one of the substances involved in coagulation (blood clotting)). He was not happy about the clots still remaining in my lungs and neither am I. So, I'll keep my chin up that everything will work itself out in the end, like it always does!

And lastly, I got my Christmas present from Mikey early. I got to upgrade my cell phone to the new LG Dare! It's so cool! It's all touchscreen and easy to use, although I still have to do a lot of playing around with it to make it mine. I really liked my Razor but this phone is 10x better and the sound quality is awesome, which is the most important thing anyway! Oh happy day! :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter Wonderland

I just couldn't wait any longer to post one of our Christmas pics. I did the Photoshop stuff myself. No sense paying an arm-and-a-leg for the service when I can do it myself! Plus, having cute subjects to work with helps too!

The girls had their very first Christmas Program at Church yesterday and it was the cutest thing I have ever seen! There were about 50 kids, all 3 or 4 years old, and they did several songs and recited several passages with actions. Just adorable! It also helped that the girls were in the front row, so it was easy for our entire family to see them. I already can't wait for next year's performance!

We also celebrated Christmas early yesterday with Mom and Dad Brace since they are going to be spending Christmas week in sunny Florida. It was strange to be doing it so early but once we were all together, we just fell into the normal swing of things and it was great! Tara got her longed-for scooter and Lauren was so excited to get an Easel. It also gives them something to play with before Christmas gets here, which is kinda nice. As always, Mike's parents were WAY TOO GENEROUS-Mike received the new desktop computer he has been wanting and I was surprised with a new Digital Camera and the latest version of Photoshop! Yay! Photography has become a great outlet for me and a fun way to de-stress. I can't wait to get them both up and running!

**and as a side note, if you're not in Michigan to experience it yourself, it was 48 degrees here last night with scattered showers and we now have 35 mph winds, snow and it's 16 degrees, with a wind chill of -4. Nice, huh? Burrrrrrrrr.........

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jingle Bells...

So I finally heard back from the Doctor's office yesterday regarding the results of my CT Scan. In a note mailed to me from my Dr. he explained that the CT showed that there was still an area of clots in my lungs but that there didn't appear to be any new ones. Now, I'm not exactly sure how to react to that. I would think that being on the blood thinners, it would be virtually impossible for my body to be forming blood clots, so not having new ones doesn't surprise me. However, I really didn't think that I would still have them in my lungs from all the way back in March. I mean, isn't this serious?

Logically, I have to think that if it was really serious, I would have gotten a phone call and had an appointment set up to talk about it. As of right now, we are just supposed to "discuss" it at my next monthly appointment. On the other hand, I can't help thinking that this is not good. Did you know that 15% of all sudden deaths are caused by Pulmonary Embolisms? What am I DOING! I'm starting to scare myself for no reason! Plus, my appointment isn't for another week...great...another 7 days to think and fret about it. Arrrrgggg...why can't anything be easy?

WAIT...I do know something that was easy! Getting our Christmas pictures taken last night was EASY! The girls did fantastic and our family photo turned out really nice as well! I will post some once I get the cards out-don't want to spoil it for anyone! ;)

That's all for now...gotta go pick those little munchkins up from school. I wonder what they made for me today? :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Getting Ready...

December is such a CRAZY month! There is just so much going on, which really sets up a love/hate relationship for me. I love watching the kids decorate the Christmas tree, their excitement over Santa, picking just the right gifts for our friends and family, and spending time together. I also dread the packing/unpacking of decorations, never ending Holiday commercials, bills and not enough time to go around for everyone.

We did some much needed cleaning this weekend and have more to do this week. Our goal is to get the house ready for Christmas and our New Years party as soon as possible so that we can enjoy our space even more. Do you ever think about your space? Are you happy with it, what's in it, how it looks, etc? I do not do a very good job of keeping things neat and tidy and this effects my home-my space. I want to work harder to remedy that and we've made a good start-the 2 biggest rooms are done and the kitchen (ahhhhhhhh!!!!!) is next! Be afraid....be very afraid...

We get our annual Holiday Portraits taken tomorrow evening, which is good because I really want to get our cards out by next Monday. Please keep your fingers crossed (like mine) that all goes well and the girls cooperate. They usually do a great job but once in awhile, Lauren withdraws or Tara turns sour and it's all over. Lucky for us, we have a SADIE'S here in Grand Rapids (there are only a handful in the US) and they are the BEST! They do make it hard for kids not to have a great time...and hard on my wallet too! :)

Countdown til Christmas: Only 15 Days Left!!!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Little Christmas Fun!

Ah yes, here's another "fill-in-the-blank" e-mail that I received yesterday (thanks Jenny!) that I thought might make a good blog post. Maybe you'll learn something new about me, maybe not!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? -Both. I really enjoy making my gifts look nice on the outside, too!

2. Real tree or Artificial?-I prefer a real tree but with the little ones, the artificial works much nicer!

3. When do you put up the tree? -1st Week of December-usually! Ha ha ha...

4. When do you take the tree down? -Sometime in January when we're bored and tired of looking at it!

5. Do you like eggnog? -Nope.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? -A baby doll with all her accessories in a little wicker suitcase.

7. Hardest person to buy for? -My Brother!

8. Easiest person to buy for? -My girls...they're so easy it's hard not to go overboard!

9. Do You have a nativity scene? -Yes

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? -Mail of course! We have to support the USPS some how!

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? -Hmmm...how do I answer this...who's reading this blog...just kidding! It would have to be a computer game about trains that Mike got me years ago. Sorry honey! (p.s. He still loves it and plays it all the time!)

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? -A Muppets Christmas Carol

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? -About mid year.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? -I'm not ashamed to admit it!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? -My Mom's goodies!

16. Lights on the tree? -Duh! Colored lights on the inside tree and white lights outside.

17. Favorite Christmas song? -O Holy Night

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? -Home with my family and friends!

19. Angel on the tree top or a star? -Angel

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? -Christmas Morning/Day

21. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? -The commercials!

22. Favorite ornament theme or color? -White and Blue Snowflakes

23. Favorite Christmas dinner? -Kielbasa and Ham

24. What do you want for Christmas this year? -A new cell phone or camera.

25. Believe in Santa?-Yes, I do believe! Ho ho ho MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Monday, December 1, 2008

December? Already?

A few days ago we were sunning ourselves on the beach and swimming in the outdoor pool. Today, the girls built a snowman and I had to use 4-Wheel Drive to get around town. What's wrong with this picture?!

And while we are on the subject of crazy things, where did December come from? I just can't believe how quickly the days fly by-you blink and another year is over with a new one hovering just around the corner. For example, I starting working on our annual Christmas Letter for our Christmas cards just before we left on vacation and I was having some real trouble. The multitude of events on our life in 2008 was making itself into more of a short story than a quick synopsis. Sigh...maybe if I just left out all the bad parts, everything would fit! But alas, the bad parts are the real parts too and make us the people we are, which is what our friends and family really care about, right?

My Holiday shopping is about 1/2 done and I intend to complete most of the rest this week-not going out this past weekend, as is tradition, really put a dent in my gift gathering schedule but have no fear-the internet is here!!!! I love shopping on the web anyway-best way to find the absolute cheapest prices on those hot items. Who else out there uses the web to find their gifts? I'd be curious if you always end up at the same sites, such as eBay and Amazon, like I do. Did you know that if you get a PRIME membership with Amazon.com ($79 annually) that you get FREE 2-Day delivery on most items and Overnight shipping is only $4! We did this last year and I can not tell you how valuable it became so we signed up again this year and it's already paid for itself! Just a little tidbit that I thought I would pass along to you...

I finally had my CT Scan today down at the Hospital (rescheduled from a week ago) and all went well. Now, the waiting game begins...anyone want to place a bet on how long it takes for anyone to tell me what the results were? :)