Saturday, August 27, 2011

TimberDoodle Review - ImagiPLAY Buddy Blocks

Here we are again, another review for our favorite homeschool curriculum site, Timberdoodle! My 21 month old daughter Annabella and I recently had the opportunity to review ImagiPLAY Buddy Blocks! I have to admit, I was a bit excited to review a toddler item this time, since we haven't before. Anyway, on to the review ;).

First I want to talk about the blocks and storage case themselves. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and durability. They are made of rubberwood, (which I already know is tough because that is what my entire diningroom set is made of) they are splinter proof, the paint is on well and they appear to be coated in a clear finish which makes them that much more durable and splinter proof. They are of far better quality than some alphabet blocks we own, from well known company I shall not name, that primarily makes wooden toys.

When we received these blocks in the mail, I gave them to my daughter and she sat down playing with them for nearly half an hour. I was very surprised by how interested in them she has been! Between putting them in and out of the case and the different animals/animal pieces on the blocks, she has had continued interest in these for nearly 2 weeks now.

Annabella is still figuring out the actual puzzle aspect of the blocks and I can see that it's really making her think. My 3 year old (JUST turned 3) son absolutely loves them as well. The puzzle aspect is pretty easy for him, but he's still thinking and really enjoying them.

Overall I'm very happy with the ImagiPLAY Buddy Block. They most definitely surpassed my expectations and both my 21 month old daughter and 3 year old son are getting a whole lot of use out of them. Much more than I had anticipated. I feel this is a great product to keep their growing brains busy!

The ImagiPLAY Buddy Blocks are also incorporated in the Complete Toddler Curriculum which is full of great educational toddler products. Don't forget to "like" Timberdoodle on Facebook!

As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team I received a free set of Buddy Blocks in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

And the tears started flowing... My Silver Fox

I came across this video this morning in the midst of my Verizon Wireless Drama. I laughed... I cried... and I laughed some more... while crying.

To see Anderson Cooper who I will forever have dirty thoughts about even if he might not like women giggling uncontrollably while serving up a pun filled commentary making fun of actor Gerard Depardieu, was just about the best thing I could have seen on a stressful day. Freaking Hilarious.

Verizon Wireless Woes

Update: 8/19/11 We were put in contact with a wonderful store manager who did the right thing and helped us out. We're done with Verizon and have moved on.

Update: 8/18/11 We were told by 2 tech's that since I could make calls it didn't really matter if voice would drop constantly and I'd have to keep calling the person back. Because I was still able to actually make calls. This is the last straw for me.

Small Update: 8/18/11 6pm EST. Not really much of an update, but I thought I'd put it in here anyway. Now they have opened ANOTHER trouble ticket and said that they escalated it. This is the THIRD time we've been told that we had an "escalated" trouble ticket. They are still doing nothing different than they've done the past 3 months to resolve this issue. So, to sum this up. They are continuing to give us the run around. I'm not backing down.

I will attempt to make this as brief as I can.

We've had an ongoing issue with my line that Verizon Wireless has not resolved/fixed for over 90 days now. I lose voice constantly. Sometimes I can't even make it 2 minutes without voice loss and having to call the person back. It often happens repeatedly.

We have tried 5 different devices (a couple different models/makers as well), ruling that out. It is clearly not the device. Over the last 3 months we have bent over backwards doing EVERY SINGLE THING tech support has asked us to do. Multiple devices, multiple sim cards, us marking calls etc. We all know it is not the hardware.

The network people keep coming up with theories and each one has proven to be wrong. At one point I was told that when 4G opened up in our area it would probably go away. It has not. At this point, the tech support and network engineers have told us that there isn't anything different for us to try. We've already been to the top network engineer in the area and back. My line continues to be a major issue and since VZW can't fix it, we have decided it's time to move on so we can get service that works properly. To give you an idea of how bad the issue is, in about a 20 day period there were about 500 voice losses/drops. This is documented with VZW. They had me marking the calls, this is how we know how many there actually were. Verizon Wireless refuses to let us out of our contract without paying the ETF (Early Termination Fee) for the issues, despite it being ongoing with no resolution for so long. This service is absolutely unacceptable and there is no reason they will not allow us to terminate the contract without paying the ETF. This issue is their fault, not mine.

SO, since they are refusing to help for that reason... We decided we wanted to exercise our right as customers as stated in their Customer Agreement to cancel our contract without paying our ETF due to them changing our contract and it having a material adverse effect on as as customers. They raised our regulatory fee. Here in the paragraph below.

Can Verizon Wireless Change This Agreement or My Service?
We may change prices or any other term of your Service or this agreement at any time,but we'll provide notice first, including written notice if you have Postpay Service. If you use your Service after the change takes effect, that means you're accepting the change. If you're a Postpay customer and a change to your Plan or this agreement has a material adverse effect on you, you can cancel the line of Service that has been affected within 60 days of receiving the notice with no early termination fee.

This is where the CS rep got dirty. She said that because it is stated that those fees can change, the above paragraph did not cover us. However, I do not see where it states the regulatory fee is excluded, do you? I don't. Here is the paragraph she cited below.

What Charges Are Set by Verizon Wireless?
You agree to pay all access, usage and other charges that you or the user of your wireless device incurred. For Postpay Service, our charges also include Federal Universal Service, Regulatory and Administrative Charges, and we may also include other charges related to our governmental costs. We set these charges; they aren't taxes, they aren't required by law, they are kept by us in whole or in part, and the amounts and what they pay for may change.

Again, I do not see where the regulatory fee is stated to be excluded from the changes that have a material adverse effect on customers, allowing us to terminate without an ETF.

Now, there IS a part in the contract that specifically states that it is NOT considered a material adverse effect. Which would exclude it from the paragraph that states that a change they make to your contract that has a material adverse effect allows you to terminate without paying the ETF. The section citing the regulatory fee, does not state this. The below quoted paragraph is where they specifically exclude something from being a material adverse effect.

Am I Eligible for Special Discounts?
If you're a Postpay customer, you may be eligible for a discount if you are and remain affiliated with an organization that has an agreement with us. Unless your discount is through a government employee discount program, we may share certain information about your Service (including your name, your wireless telephone number and your total monthly charges) with your organization from time to time to make sure you're still eligible. We may adjust or remove your discount according to your organization's agreement with us, and remove your discount if your eligibility ends or your contract term expires. In any case, this won't be considered to have a material adverse effect on you.

It is absolutely reasonable to conclude that the regulatory fee is in fact considered a material adverse effect on the customer when the fee is raised. With it being a material adverse effect it allows the customer under the Verizon Wireless Customer Agreement to terminate their account WITHOUT paying the ETF, as it is not stated to be excluded in the contract.

Verizon Wireless is refusing the adhere to their own contract with us. All we are asking is to be released from our contract without paying the ETF so we can get properly working service elsewhere. That's it. I just want a reasonably reliable line and VZW is clearly unable to provide this for me, despite us paying our full bill every. single. month.

To add insult to injury, last night, when my husband asked to terminate our contract without paying the ETF because of the serious line issues being unresolved after 90+ days, he was flat out lied to. A manager told him all he had to do was go and have our numbers ported elsewhere and then they would remove the ETF from the account. My husband called CS back to confirm this and was told that is absolutely NOT how it's done. He was blatantly lied to and it could have cost us nearly $700 in ETF's had he not called back and found out she lied to him. This is one of many lies we have been told over the past 3 months. As customers of 10+ years, this is disappointing on so many levels. We don't just WANT to leave VZW, however with them being unable/unwilling to fix my line, we don't see how we have much of a choice.

Below are screenshots of the contract with the previously cited paragraphs marked. Click on them to view them larger.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Life as I know it.

Hi, it's Tony. I have not written a blog for Sarah in a while, but I feel its time to add another one of my entries to get some stuff out in the open.  This will most definitely not be the normal type of post you expect to see on her blog.

This blog entry is different because it is all about her.  She never talks about her self, or how awesome she is.  She never talks about the great stuff she just did or got for herself, because well, she doesn't care about her self the way that she cares about US, Her family.  Sarah is the most amazing mother and wife a person could ever dream to meet.  She is kind, loving, and selfless.  She can go the entire day with out a drink of water, or a bite to eat because of the time and effort she is placing into our kids.  She is AMAZING.

When it comes to being a mother, her picture should be in the dictionary next to the word.  Everyday, while I am at work, she is here at the house, being mother, nurse, teacher, chef, dog sitter, wife, navy wife, friend, the list goes on.  She doesn't stop.  Today I called her from work, and asked what she was up to. Like I didn't know the answer.  She replied she was working on the first day of homeschool with the boys, and how much they were already doing.  She told me of their excitement to get started and how much their little faces were lighting up on the lessons they were getting.  Now this made me melt at work.  She already had the kids excited to learn, fed the baby, cleaned up from breakfast, and got the 2 smaller ones playing together nicely, so she could put on her teacher hat, and all done before noon.

Being a teacher is not all she is good at.  I am one of the proudest fathers in the world.  My children are so well behaved that people in public go out of their way to tell us how great they really are.  I may have a part in this, but it is most definitely a small part.  When I am on duty, at work, at the store, the kids are not with a baby sitter or day care, they are with mommy.  The behavior they have learned, the respect for others, and their things, and the respect for us as their parents is mostly due to her.  I couldn't ask for better children, and I think this is why we have 6, with no end point in sight.

And now comes the last part.  The part of being my wife, and more impressive, putting up with me and my sh*t.  I am not perfect.  I know this.  I can be a real a**hole to her sometimes, I can have my lazy days, my sit there and work on android all night days, and my just plain off days.  But good or bad, she loves me, and takes care of me.  She doesn't give up on me, she stands her ground and waits for me to come back to her, and apologize because I was being silly or mean.  I love her, and she loves me unconditionally.  She rocks my world in every aspect, and I still ask myself from time to time if I really deserve such an amazing woman.  I know that I don't always tell her enough, but I feel I am the luckiest man in the world, and most definitely will be annoying her for the rest of my life.  I already have visions of being the little old couple in the walgreens, looking at what little items we can afford to get our grandchildren.

This post was for Sarah.  I wanted everyone to know how great she is, and how much I love her for being an amazing wife and mother.

I love you Sarah.


3 years ago today

3 years ago today, our 4th son Zayne Elliot was born ♥. He is crazy and stubborn and cute and has a GREAT personality and... he's amazing :). I had him at 5:19 pm on August 15th 2008 and he weighed 7lbs 7ozs. Happy Birthday Zayne! We love you!

Here he is at 1 day old and 3 years old!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

You Know You're A Mom When... Part 1. (Toddler Edition)

You know you're a mom when... are entirely not phased by a text message from your spouse on the other side of the house, telling you about your toddlers giant poo. walk around the house in the afternoon eating a bowl of cereal that happens to be your first meal of the day and you're simultaneously picking up toys and vacuuming the floor.

...bowel movements and dirty diapers are discussed in your home on a daily basis.

...farts and burps are humorous. always have an audience while sitting on the toilet. can't remember the last time you took a shower from start to finish without being interrupted at least once. least one of your children eats more than half of your meal every time you try to eat something.'ve retired your nice purse and just keep your wallet and other essentials in the diaper bag. don't even question that sticky/wet/dirty spot and just clean it up.

...bribes are an acceptable form of getting what you want.

...the 5 second rule is more like a 5 minute rule. matter how much of a clean freak you are (or aren't? lol), you can find a kid's hand print on a wall SOMEWHERE in your house. have a snack you really want to eat, so you hide it and sneak around the corner so you don't have to share. is suddenly quiet and you get nervous and quickly go find the kid/kids to make sure nothing is wrong.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


I REALLY need to keep up with a "crap my kids say/do" series on here. At least one of them is absolutely cracking me up on a daily basis with something they say or do.

Today, Alex referred to something as "easy as pie" and then stopped and said "Well... If you make pie from scratch, it isn't really easy. So I don't understand why they say that."

The thought they will sometimes put into something like that cracks me up lol.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Humbling Little Life Lesson for the 9 Year Old

This evening our oldest son, who will be 9 this month had a little bit of a lesson that to me was a bit satisfying and a little bit amusing.

My husband and I decided that dinner would be salad with chicken in it. Tony had bought a good salad mix with spinach and all and some good fixings for it like sliced almonds, dried cranberries, raisins etc. We cut up a fresh rotisserie chicken to top it off with.

When Alex realized we were having salad he griped about it because we had salad earlier in the week and he's the one child of mine who doesn't particularly like it. He eats it because our children are expected to eat what we make and he knows it's healthy, but he would rather not. This time, instead of reminding Alex that it is what was going to be for dinner, so that was that, Tony told him if he didn't want the salad he'd have to make himself something on his own then. Alex liked this idea and decided he'd make himself a chicken sandwich with the chicken we had for the salad. Tony sliced some of the chicken thin for him to use.

Because Alex was having a sandwich, Wyatt wanted that instead also, so Alex made 2 chicken sandwiches with lettuce and cheese on them. Watching him struggle a little making them was cute. He got crumbs all over the counter and floor of course, so I informed him that he'd also have to clean the mess he made.

We all had our dinner and when the boys were done, they all wanted a little more to eat. One of them suggested a slice of bread with peanut butter for each. Alexander, feeling like a confident big boy volunteered to make that also. He took out the regular bread and Cameron's special bread and then got the peanut butter and almond butter for Cameron. Since we use all natural peanut butter that has to be mixed Alex started to get a bit frustrated trying to stir and spread it. We told him to keep going. He finally did finish and served it to his brothers who were patiently waiting forever for these slices of bread!

Wyatt, darling Wyatt only took 2 bites and said he was full. Alex immediately became irritated and exclaimed how hard it was for him to deal with the peanut butter and how he couldn't believe Wyatt was going to waste it after he went through all of that work. I swear I could see the light bulb light up above Tony's head and he swiftly used that scenario unfolding before us as a lesson, for all of them, but especially Alex.

Tony said "It upsets you when you work hard making food and someone doesn't want to eat it?" Alex's response was "yes", of course. Tony proceeded to ask him if it would be even more upsetting if he had cooked a whole meal with pans and everything, again Alex said yes. Tony explained that it's upsetting and hurtful to us when we try hard to cook them good meals and they complain about it. Alex didn't say much, but you could see it was making him think.

After the kids were all done with their food I told Alex to go ahead and clean the mess he made. I showed him how to use the attachment wand on the Dyson and overlooked him vacuuming up the crumbs, which took him far. too. long. When that was done, I told him to go ahead and vacuum the carpets while I wiped down the counters and table. It was obvious while he was vacuuming that he didn't want to do it anymore and he was getting physically tired. He told me that it was hard. I smiled and reminded him that I do all of these things every day, typically at least a couple of times a day. He didn't say anything, but I could tell it had him thinking again. The kids are all expected to help with age appropriate chores, but those chores are usually cleaning their playroom, bedrooms, making sure their bathroom stays reasonably clean and putting away their laundry after I have folded and sorted it. Alex is also responsible for feeding the dogs. Other than that, since they are all young, the rest falls mostly on me (my husband does help though). Hmmm, I think it's time to teach a couple of them how to sort their laundry and use the washer and dryer.

Alex came back to me a little bit later and said "You really DO, do a lot of work every day mommy. I already know you do a lot... but, I mean... it's hard." I think this life lesson today may have put some things into perspective for my not really so little anymore, boy.

Internet friends ARE real friends

Things have been a little tough on me emotionally, lately. Tony finally getting orders and them not giving us a whole lot of time to set up our move, prepare the house etc. has been the biggest stress. Then realizing how much we're giving up during this move has been really wearing on me. Because of the cost of living, we don't have much choice but to live in military housing in CT. To top it off, the area of housing we want to live in has no availability, so we'll be stuck in a place I don't want to be. We'll have no yard, no fence, no playroom for the kids... all things we have here. Giving up my comfortable home is really weighing heavy on me. (I know it sounds silly, but the kids and our home is what my whole life revolves around.)

We're in a rush to find a renter for our house here that can move in when we'll be leaving. Then Tony finds out he needs a waiver for the condition he has in his leg (veinous reflux), which is just another hurdle thrown in front of us. Thankfully yesterday he received a temporary waiver, unfortunately that means he has to deal with more waiver crap in CT, but it's something at least. We also have not heard from movers yet who the Navy is supposed to have contact us to confirm our move dates. This is just a few of the bazillion other stresses involving this move that are weighing on me right now. Many are Navy related, some of emotionally related to how this is going to effect my children again. I feel guilty they have to give up so much too.

Here is where I get to my whole point of this blog entry. When we move we wont have room for both our large diningroom table and eat in kitchen table (since there will be no eat in kitchen where we're going) so I was looking around for a long folding table to use for the kids homeschooling so that we aren't using the diningroom table that we need to eat on for school also. I found one for a really great price recently and was trying to quickly save money to order it. Last night I looked at it again and the price had jacked back up by almost $150 and was almost full price again. I was so upset because that means I couldn't afford to get it. It's important to me because it will really help the kids having a solid place for school that isn't dual use. I whined about it online before I went to bed.

Today, 4 people we know online through Tony's android developing paypal'd donations to us, to help us buy this table. They had no stake in it, there were no strings attached, they aren't our "family" or "real life" friends. They are our internet friends. They cared enough about my family that they wanted to help us out with something that was important to us. We didn't ask anyone for anything and they took it upon themselves to chip in out of the goodness of their hearts, because they knew it would help. Another person we know hunted the internet trying to find me a better deal, he even emailed the company trying to get them to sell the table at that lower price. They are all amazing. They are real friends.

Over the years, we've had people make kind gestures like this and it never ceases to amaze me. It reminds me there really are kind people out there who do care about others. It also solidifies my reasoning for helping other when we can as well. If we all try to do something small for someone else now and then, it can make such a difference.

Do something kind for a stranger. No matter how big or small it may be, it might just completely make their day and maybe even improve their life in some way, even a small one, like this has ours. Even a kind word or a shoulder to lean on can make a world of difference.

Thank you all so much.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's that time again!

It's World Breastfeeding Week! Did you know it's celebrated in more than 170 countries worldwide!? Soooooo, I will once again share this PSA!

I am now breastfeeding baby #6 and I am so glad to be doing it. It's what I have boobies for! I'm far too lazy at night to worry about bottles and it makes things a whole lot easier not having to pack bottles when we go out. I really do look at it as more a convenience than a burden! Glass half full? Maybe. But, between the benefits and the many conveniences, the occasional rough spot or inconvenience is well worth it to me!

Breastmilk: Never Been Recalled