Friday, October 26, 2007


Kai is starting to get serious about praying. She prays every night before bed and generally always before meals. She is so precious and serious when she talks to God. Here are some excerpts from her most recent prayers...

This first one was said with her volume turned up to 11 in a booth at Long John Silver’s. In fact, it was so funny (and LOUD) someone from a neighboring table came over to tell her how much he liked her prayer!

“Dear God-

Thank you for this food. Thank you for our family.

And, God, we never talk to strangers. Not ever. Because everyone knows it is a bad choice to talk to strangers. Talking to strangers is scary because you never know who a stranger is.


* I don’t know if she was reminding God or just confirming the info her parents told her in case He didn’t know whether or not she was aware of the rules. But, it was darn cute!

“Dear God-

I love you. Alot. Forever. And you love me.

Thank you for our family and food. Thank you for the sun and this land. Because this land is good.
Thank you for pumpkins and Halloween. This year I am going to be a fairy. And I hope Ivy will be a good goat for Halloween.

I promise I am going to be a good listener.

Thank you for Ms. Kum Kum’s birthday. I hope you will stay with me forever because I love you and you love me.


“Dear God-

Thank you for the Lord. And for this family. And for green eyes.”

*Dear God-

Thank you for the sun and the moon and the apple trees. And for apples. And for soap.”

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I heart Thomas (& The Jane Austen Book Club)

It has been so long since I’ve been to a movie I wanted to see. Painfully long. Tragically long. So, tonight when my husband asked what movie in the theaters I’d go see if I could I didn’t even care when I thought he was going to illegally pirate one of the movies online. But, imagine my surprise when he told me that my sister (Thank you Eryn!!) was coming over to watch the girls so we could go on a date. I was so excited. And to make things even better, he was going to leave it to me which movie we went to see.

So, seeing as how I constantly get dragged (albeit not always against my will) to sci-fi or similarly ungirly movies, I decided to see The Jane Austen Book Club.

Can I tell you how much I LOVED this movie? It was a movie about a bunch of women (and one highly evolved man) who sit around reading one of the greatest authors of all time and finding how her characters are amazingly relevant to their own lives. It was very much a chick flick, but still Thomas (and I hope he doesn’t mind me revealing this) loved it as well.

It of course made me miss my days in school as an English major and I found myself longing for a women’s book club. I am on a new mission to start a women’s book club so expect to be getting an email from me soon. I need some good old-fashioned girl time with a literary focus. Let me know if you’re interested...

**On a completely unrelated note, can I tell you what I learned after the movie? You know those strange people in the theater who sit there for so long after the movie is over seemingly enthralled with the end credits? The ones who make no move to get up and seem reluctant to recognize that the movie has actually ended? It is entirely possible that they do that because they have very young children at home and almost never get to go to the movies and the thought of leaving and not being able to come back for so long makes then unable to leave their chairs. They want to hold onto the moment for as long as possible. They’re not weird, they’re just desperate to hold on to such a rare and precious theatrical experience. So, please quit judging them. And don’t look at them questioningly wondering why they aren’t getting out of their chairs. Not every one can go to the theater as often as you, okay? Geez.**

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Shame, shame, shame...

Do you have someone in your life who embarrasses you every time you go out together? You know what I’m talking about, right? One of those people who always says the wrong thing, makes some snarky comment to strangers, or flat out loses their cool in public when they take issue with the way things are handled by another person or company. I have such a person in my life. Unfortunately, she goes with me everywhere I go. Because, even more unfortunately, that person is me.

It seems I cannot go out without embarrassing myself. Even as I type this, I am feeling the sting of shame on my face. And, all I have to say is three words for you to know what a disaster I experienced today. Social Security Administration. This place would bring the worst out of a normal person, so can you imagine what it did to me? Not good.

See, I had to go down there because a certain husband (who shall remain nameless) threw away the Social Security Card of a certain infant child (who shall also remain nameless). Unfortunately, since we need the social security number to file our taxes on Oct. 15th (I know...we’re procrastinators) I had to go into the office and get a new card. Which was horrible. Everything you have heard about the Social Security Office is true. It is not a good place.

The lines are long. The people are rude. And the entire place is steeped in frustration. And that is exactly why I had butterflies in my stomach the entire way there. Because I know my track record in situations like this is bad, bad, bad.

I came prepared. I had the application, my i.d., and Ivy’s Insurance Card, Proof of Insurance Letter, Medical Bill, and Explanation of Medical Benefits (all of which I was TOLD by the woman on the phone was plenty to prove her identity). Can you guess what happened? The Queen of the Social Security Administration looked up her number, finished filling out the application, and then he told me (rather condescendingly) that I didn’t have anything with her D.O.B. on it so he couldn’t help me. I got upset. Really upset. So, I pitched a little fit. And he was unrelenting and mocking me. I expressed my extreme frustration rather vocally, snapped up the application, and stormed out. Luckily, I kept my head enough to grab the application which he had written her Social on so I didn’t have to worry about getting the card anymore. But, how stupid is that? He can give me her social security number, but not let me apply for a card? Do you know how much damage I can do with just the number? Alot.Well, maybe not me, since I don’t really know how to do criminal things, but the wrong person could. And God forbid he send me (her MOTHER) the card in the mail to the address actually registered to her name.

Oh well. Its a government agency so I knew it wasn’t going to do anything that made sense. Still, the worst part was my embarrassing behavior. I’m sure he’s still laughing at the indignant huff I marched out in. Is it any wonder my children throw fits like they do?

There is this idea that Hawaii is nothing but beautiful beaches and lush scenery. Until recently, I thought that, too. But, on our way to visit Thomas’ grandma’s house we passed by a section of beach that totally changed my mind. The interesting thing about Hawaii is that the beaches belong to the people. All of the people. So, when people run out of housing options and can’t afford the crazy rent in the escalating housing market, people end up one place. The beach. Out in Waianae you’ll be driving down the road with a beautiful beach on your left and suddenly you come upon a stretch of beach with rows of tents, tarps, cars, and other signs of a makeshift house. We asked Thomas’ parents about it and they told us that the housing market is out of control over there and these people aren’t homeless because they don’t have jobs. They are homeless because their jobs don’t pay them enough to afford homes for their families and they are forced out onto the beach. They’re working people with families who are drawn to the beaches because of the facilities (shower, restrooms, etc.) and the easy access to fishing for food.

The sad thing is that this is not just a random tent here and there. You’ll be driving along and come upon a mile stretch of this type of thing. Like a little neighborhood. People have their cars, grills, multiple tents, shopping carts, and all other personal belongings. There are children and families, elderly people and pregnant women. It is heartbreaking and makes me realize how blind I can be to poverty on a daily basis. Check out the picture on the right. Its the little kid’s car that absolutely kills me. I saw a dad with his daughter playing outside one of these tent houses and the two seemed to be as carefree as any father/daughter in their front yard. It was heartbreaking and reminded me how easily anyone can be thrown into a situation like that. I’m vowing to count my blessings more frequently now, because I seem to forget how easily they could be gone.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Making it right...

Because I have worked in retail and wholesale for years and years, I know how important good customer service is. For that reason, I also demand good customer service from places I am a customer of. And, as I am sure any of you who know me are aware, I am really good at complaining to customer service if I’ve been treated badly or had a negative experience. Why? Because I know our company never knew the bad things that were going on (or sometimes even good things) unless people called or wrote to tell us. For complaining about poor customer service here’s a sampling of compensation I’ve received from various companies: free cable installation from Comcast, $60 in free dinner coupons from P.F. Chang’s, free Chick-Fil-A coupons for lunch, free lunch coupons from McDonald’s, free Starbucks, $100 refund on services from Dollar Rental Car, free car service for the life of my Honda from Milton Martin Honda (who I did NOT even buy my car from!).

So, what is the point, you might ask? Well, the point is, I don’t actually have any special talent. I am convinced that anyone who complains effectively can get reparations from a decent company. Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of companies I have complained to who have never given me a call back (shame on you, Five Guys and Holiday Inn). But, most companies handle these types of complaints well. They have a tendency to go out of their way to make their customers feel valued.

Here are the key elements (in my opinion) to lodging a good customer service complaint:

1. Pick up the phone or computer. The first step is actually doing it. I have complained loudly to friends and family without actually writing a letter but the second I actually got my complaint into the hands of someone who could do something about it I feel much better. Even if you never get a response, I think it is healthy and helpful to inform a company of your dissatisfaction.

2. Be respectful. Chances are it’s not the fault of the person you are talking to that you had a bad experience and chances are it’s also not the only complaint they are going to hear that day. The thing I hated most when I handled customer service for our company was how cruel some customers were and how often they tried to hit below the belt. Limit your complaint to the facts and remember that the person on the other line is as human as you.

3. Give details. Include the date & time of your experience. Names of employees present. Location information for major chains (i.e. street address, store number, etc.). The more details you give the more credible you look so make the complaint while the event is fresh in your mind.

4. Leverage your importance to them and explain possible consequences. I’m not talking about, “You messed up my pizza so bad I ought to sue you.” What I mean is, “My husband and I spend approximately $2000 a year on rental car expenses and we believe we will move all future business to Alamo Rent-A-Car.” You may think your business doesn’t matter to a big company, but most companies can see the big picture and know the importance of keeping every customer happy.

5. Keep your expectations realistic. You aren’t going to profit hugely from sending a complaint, but sometimes all that is needed is some recognition of your dissatisfaction and a little encouragement to use the company again. Just keep your demands (if you decide to make any) realistic because they could just as easily refuse to acknowledge your frustration.

6. ALWAYS be a vocal customer. This means, when you are happy with an experience somewhere give them a call and let them know. Sometimes they will send you free stuff for doing this, but more importantly you help to recognize the hard-working people who probably rarely get to hear a genuine praise for their performance. Not to mention, people are generally shocked to hear someone call and say something positive and it’s always fun to surprise people!

7. When all else fails go outside the company. If you feel like your complaints are falling on deaf ears and you believe its an important issue to pursue, check out the Better Business Bureau and to seek resolution to your situation.

I am a firm believer that the squeaky wheel gets the grease and I’ve had lots of experiences to back that up. So, if you’re unhappy (and especially if you are happy) go out there and let someone else know about your experience...


Did I tell you how we picked out our tattoos? Probably not. When we went in to pick out our tattoos, we didn’t have anyone to watch the girls. So, they kinda had to go along with us. And, what’s classier that traipsing into a tattoo parlor with strollers? Not much. As we sat looking at tattoo books we were trying desperately to keep our girls interested in anything we could. Which is why if you walked into Hart/Huntington on the evening of September 21st you would have seen two very young children sitting in the waiting area looking at books of tattoo art. I would have worried that anyone who came in must have thought we were terrible parents if they hadn’t all been pretty much drunk.

What I think is rather funny is that Kai will probably recall one of her earlier memories and tell people that she has a foggy remembrance of going and helping her parents pick out their tattoos. I guess if she comes home tattooed up when she’s 16 I won’t be able to wonder what went wrong. I’ll be able to recall the exact moment I messed this up...

Monday, October 1, 2007

Ivy's First Day

At the tender age of 6 weeks, I shoved Ivy into the waiting arms of our Day Care center and felt miserably guilty. Fast forward 16 months and I’m guilt ridden again. This time because Ivy isn’t getting the emotional and social stimulation from other kids that helped Kai in her development at this age.

I guess moms never get over feeling guilty one way or another. But I felt guilty nonetheless so I finally made the decision to let Ives start back part time. She started back Monday and I was so nervous. She is, afterall, my baby and depends on me and clings to me more than Kai did. I knew she was going to have a tough day and cry for me all day and miss me. I feared she would be so emotional that they would have to call me to pick her up. Somewhere inside I really just knew she was too fragile to handle this and we’d end up not being able to keep her in school.

Boy was I wrong. She played with the kids the minute I dropped her off and never cried for a second when I walked out the door. In fact, she pretty much didn’t cry all day. It doesn’t hurt that her teachers are the absolute BEST and take care of her like she was family. But, when I showed up to pick her up and she looked at me and proceeded to walk away and play on the playground it still hurt. Alot. In fact, all the way home I kept looking at her in the rear view mirror because suddenly she seemed so grown up and different. But she was SO happy! I feel like we definitely made the right decision and I’m glad that Ives is going to get the chance to experience the fun of friends and school! Even if it means she not such a baby anymore...