Thursday, October 28, 2004

Why I don't have dogs

A friend of mine asked me if we had a dog. It started me thinking about why we don't. I mean, I love dogs. Rusty loves dogs. What's up? Then I remembered why I don't have dogs. It's the same reason I don't have clean laundry, a full night's sleep or "nice things" (as in "this is why I can't have nice things around the house..."). It's because I have these instead.

the boys

Sure, they look cute enough (I was going to write "innocent enough" but that's hardly believable, even to the untrained eye). But these two... these two adorable little bundles of spaz... please watch, below, the gradual decline of "innocent enough" to "total goofiness".

the boys

Stage 1: Liam has a bright idea. You can almost hear him wondering whether I will notice if he starts something.

the boys

Stage 2: The unassuming "Whoops. I fell over" position. Could have been an accident. Doubt it.

the boys

Stage 3: I'm cute. You're going down (notice the innocent "I do so love my brother" look Liam is sporting in this one).

the boys

Stage 4

Sean: Ah ha ha ha ha...

Liam: I am just so cute. Make sure you get this on camera.

the boys

Stage 5: Sean lets Liam think he's won.

the boys

Stage 5: Liam does, indeed, believe he's won.

the boys

Stage 6: Sean strikes back. Otherwise known as "Don't try to take your brother down if he's heavier than you unless you want payback".

the boys

Stage 6b: Sean demostrates the proper technique for "Don't try to take your brother down if he's heavier than you unless you want payback". Notice the form. Also notice Liam's lack of a head or face.

Conclusion? You think I was lucky to catch all of this on camera? Ha. Think again. I have photos of the boys doing this in their jammies. Photos of them doing it outside. I have photos of them doing in their Easter clothes. Why would we need dogs when we have this? Pretty much any time you put them together -- in just about any environment -- you'll be treated to a great little show.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Random Advice

Tip 'O the Day:

Never wear your WEBN "Run Like Hell" 5K commemorative t-shirt into the Christian bookstore at the mall. You will get hideous, hideous stares and people will actually move away from you for fear of being charred by the fire that will surely rain down from heaven to punish you for your insolence.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Jon Stewart Love

I just wanted to state, for the record, that I really like Jon Stewart. I don't necessarily love his entire political agenda, but I like him. My affection for him has increased after his appearance on Crossfire recently. I saw it and am still all kinds of confused. If I understood the guy in the bowtie (Tucker I-can-never-remember-his-name), Jon Stewart is to be held to the same standards while hosting Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" as the journalists of CNN. This is just a mini-rant related to something I read on another site. Here's the link and you can watch the clip as well: One Good Thing. And thanks to Betsy to leaking the news about One Good Thing -- it's very good reading.

Be warned, I was unprepared for the discomfort I felt while watching it. I know Jon Stewart hates George Bush. I was prepared for that to come up (which it didn't, actually). But hearing Stewart give some great arguements for why the media has failed the American public and his blantant plea for them to stop... all to be totally ignored by Tucker whats-his-face as he spat out totally ridiculous come-backs that mostly started with "Oh, yeah?! Well you blah blah blah..." while missing the point... that was unsettling. Appalling. How can CNN not fire him? Or at least put him in time out until he understands that he just told a comedian that he, as a journalist for CNN, has no more responsibilty to the American public than Comedy Central? What?! Have you seen the commercials for Reno 911?

The oddest part? As bowtie-guy is telling Jon Stewart that he's a partisan hack as well, he's also telling him he's "not funny". He asks Stewart if he's like this with dinner guests, what a drag he is, etc. So. Let me get this straight. Stewart is supposed to ask "real" news questions and is held to the same level of civil responsibility in "reporting the news" as Crossfire is. But he's also supposed to be funny? What the crap? I'm confused in the worst way. From the back and forth applause from the audience, they were confused as well. But they apparently thought Stewart was funny. Lots of laughing, which I guess is a good sign. If the media is too ridiculous to be honest, at least the audience knows when they're being played. The Crossfire boys were being laughed at, not with. And Stewart started out calmly. Maybe not "nice" by some people's standards, but calm. I know, I saw it. I guess the summary is that I felt like Jon Stewart was being honest. And I liked that.

p.s. For anyone that wants to get all moral about it.. Yes. Stewart did call Bowtie Boy a "dick". But only after BB called Stewart Kerry's "Butt boy" (twice, in fact). Fair reponse if you ask me.

CNN Crossfire Transcript with Jon Stewart - October 15, 2004

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Working out salvation

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling..."

I stumbled onto this verse during small group last week. We were talking about Hebrews and this was a secondary "just to prove the point" kind of verse that was thrown in. That last line about "working out your salvation" slapped me in the face. "Working out"? Why, that leads one to believe that it can be entirely possible to be a believer but not know exactly what you're supposed to believe, or why, or what it means. Holy crap! The bible actually allows for loons like myself? How exciting!

I read a blog called "Ordinary Community" by Chris Marshall -- someone I've never met but he works at the same high school in Cincinnati as my sister and her husband and he also knows the pastor of our church here in Maryland. He asks some questions in his post from October 13. The ones that made me cringe were numbers 7-10, which are as follows:

7) Am I more American than I am Christian?
8) Is abortion the only pro-life issue Christ followers should care about?
9) Will I ever improve on the things that I am not good at?
10) Why does my heart feel sad?

These are things I discuss with my good friend Ashley while our boys play in her basement (or while they wrestle in a play area at Ikea). I try to discuss them with Rusty but truth be told, between work, coaching and trying to have family life he's often times not quite as philesophical. Plus, Rusty has this amazing faith -- God says it, he believes it and doesn't ever once look back.

I really want to think about and pray about these questions in my prayer times over the next few days and weeks. I'm hoping that if anyone actually reads this, that you'll bear with me and even add your comments to help me work through this. I feel like there is this big wall in front of me and if I just understand it's structure, I'll be able to move beyond it -- whether it be by knocking that wall down, going around it or finding a door and going through it.

Thanks for allowing the ramble-age, although, this is my blog so I can ramble at will, correct?

Monday, October 11, 2004

Good Day

Ok, people, simmer down. You're all getting unruly with your multiple emails and such. I do appreciate your concern, thank you. So it is with much fanfare and great relief that I am able to announce that our beloved furniture is finally here. It's in pretty good shape aside from a patch of mold on the recliner (yes, seriously) and a hole in the top of the antique wardrobe (something heavy must have been put on top of it and went through). The chair has been treated and is awaiting steam cleaning. The wardrobe will need major surgery. But I live for that kind of thing. It means more power tool action. Side note: I'm a sucker for the tools. If I had the luck to meet Ty Pennington, I'd be all about him and his tool-er-ific skills, who cares if he's cute (and slightly crazed at times).

So, please let me entertain you with a description of the house right now. The current population of the living room is as follows: two couches, one loveseat, one large armchair, video/DVD storage cabinet, Rusty's mom's hugeass entertainment center thing that is leaving as soon as we can tear it apart (Seriously. It's immense.) See, we're having carpet installed this week or next in the living room, family room and back bedroom. So all the furniture is crowded into one room so it is easier to move when the time comes. For the time being, you can nap on one couch, roll over, and find yourself on another couch. It's quite convenient, really. If we worked it right, you could probably get from the living room to the kitchen without once setting foot on the floor. I have a photo I took last night. I'll try to post it when I can so everyone can feel better about their own respective houses.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Our furniture called

We got a call from our furniture, cleverly disguised as someone named "Domingo". Supposedly coming home tomorrow, they'll call when they're an hour out. I don't mean to sound pessimistic (who, me?) but I'll believe it when I see it. These are, after all, the same movers who were 6.5 hours late for pick-up. I'm not counting the whole God/Wynetta thing out yet, though. So updates as they happen...

In the meantime, here's a little photo to get us all through until we are once again reunited with the most "lovely-to-sit-upon-and-fall-asleep" furniture ever. Don't believe me, check out what's hiding going on under the pillow in the chair. I'm also extrememly fond of my vintage red cabinet to the right. I adopted it from a large Salvation Army warehouse for the low, low price of only $15. Love it.

Liam sleepinging in big plaid squishy chair

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A break from the stupidity

Someone sent this to me today and I have to say, it made me smile. I don't know if it's all the colors or the reflection of the faces of the children but it's a great visual all the way around.

Colorful fish and great kids' faces

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Wynetta Rocks

It's ok, everyone. I've recovered from my astonishment at hearing such vulgar language from "Moving Man A". Technically, it's no worse that what I hear on Dead Like Me but that seems so removed when it's on TV. It's a totally different experience to have someone hollering in your ear.

Alright, so you're probably wondering who is Wynetta and does she rock? Wynetta is the USAA representative I spoke with this morning. And she does indeed rock big time. USAA is our insurance agency. They're mainly government and military so they're not as well known by name though they're a very large company. We have had such a great experience with them ever since setting up our first policies back when we got married (Rusty has been a USAA member since birth because of his mom and dad working at NASA and being eligible for coverage).

Anyway, before the move I called USAA to check and see if the renter's policy on the storage unit covered the move itself, or if we could set something up, or if we had to buy the mover's insurance (I was picturing the pressure you get when you rent a car). USAA said that the rental policy covered the move until all the items reached our doorstep. Yay for USAA! So out of desperation, I called back this morning. I asked to speak to someone in claims and after essentially telling the rep that we didn't know if we needed to file a claim as property "missing" and if we did need to, how long we should wait until we do it. She took the info and gave it to a supervisor. Enter Wynetta.

Wynetta got on the line and asked for the details. When I told her exactly what you read below, she said, "He did not say that!" in a "I-am-seriously-going-
to-have-fun-with-this-guy" kind of way. She got the info and asked me to hold. She was calling North Star and would be recording the whole conversation on tape. She came back and said he wasn't in the office and would call back. In the meantime, I told her to be ready because the guy was very offensive. She said he could be offensive all he wants, she works for me. I was so relieved I almost started to cry (Note to self: ask doctor about hormone levels. Too much crying.) She told me that she was taking the info but wouldn't file an actual claim yet as if it didn't end up going that far she didn't want us to get a rate hike for filing. Again... Wynetta rocks. Then the jerk from North Star called her back. I go on hold again while she talks to him.

When Wynetta came back to the line, she relayed the following:

- Guy claimed that I called and just started randomly yelling and cussing at him (?!??)
- Even after being advised that he was being taped, he got rude with her (I'm shocked)
- He refused to tell her where the stuff was.
- She told him that we weren't demanding access to the warehouse but demanding disclosure on where our items were.
- He finally told her that the items are in a warehouse in Illinois. Yes, that does say "Illinois" . For those of you following along at home, you'll remember that this was supposed to be a non-stop move from Ohio to Maryland. Illinois is two states in the wrong direction.
- He said - on tape - that we will not be charged for above mentioned storage.
- She then informed him that if the items were not delivered within the two to ten business day window (ending this Friday) that we would file a claim. That claim would be with USAA. It would involve us filing a federal claim with law enforcement because the items were considered stolen, and taken across state lines. Anything over $300 is also considered a bigger deal (I can't remember the exact words - a felony maybe?).
- She told Mr. Dispatcher from North Star that if we filed a claim, USAA would compensate us for our loss. If USAA compensated for our loss, they would then own the property being held hostage. She said she told him that if USAA then owned the property that he'd better believe that they will do everthing in their power to either retrieve that property or file charges.
- Mr. Mean Dispatcher Guy (a.k.a. Mover Man A from previous post) told her, "Don't threaten me!" plus threw in some spicy sentence enhancers.
- Wynetta ended by saying she would threaten him if it was warranted and it seemed that it was.

One more reason Wynetta rocks is because she told me that I didn't have to talk to that thug anymore. If he calls, tell him (or anyone else from that company) that I've been advised to tell them to talk to USAA from here on out. She also suggested that we could have a police officer at our house when the things are delivered (see link regarding same company verbally abusing customers: - found only after we realized who we were dealing with).

So. As of right now, we'll have our things by next Friday, or a verbal agreement by next Friday that everything will be delivered by the following Wednesday (not sure what that was about, but it's still a date to work with). If not, we'll have someone else to do the yelling for us because Wynetta ROCKS!

Oh, yeah... the main reason Wynetta rocks? I didn't say anything to her about my beliefs, etc. I just relayed the facts. But last night I was unable to sleep, totally at a loss and just praying about what to pray for in this situation, I was that confused over it all. Anyway, Wynetta knew none of this. But as she's telling me that she doesn't care if this guy gets abusive with her she says, "I've got the LORD behind me! None of that 'turn-the-other-cheek' stuff when people are breaking the law." I'm not usually one for "Go-get'um-gospel" but this woman was so nice to me, and frankly took over the whole burden of dealing with these people so I wouldn't have to. And her answer to my "thank you" was that it was her job and she was happy to do it. That is exactly what I was praying for last night, I just didn't know it at the time.

In conclusion, Wynetta rocks. And God's not so bad himself.

p.s. Still not feeling so great, thank you for asking (you know who you are). Follow-up appointment on Monday.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Opening in their customer service department

Oh, wait. That's right. They don't have customer service.

We haven't heard from our furniture lately. It was picked up in Ohio, wrapped with 24 rolls of packing tape, then moved somewhere. I would tell you where, but I'm at a loss. We were told it would delivered in "2 - 10 days". Now, being Day 8 and not having heard anything from our furniture, I decided to call the movers to see if they could give me a clue. This is a literal retelling of my epic phone call:

Mover Man A: Hello, ********* Vanlines, who do you need to talk to? (man with heavy accent, which I usually actually quite enjoy)

Me: May I speak to **** ******, please? (listen to me... all nice. Little did I know the stupidity that was about to ensue).

Mover Man A: Who is this? Ok, let me see if **** is here.

Mover Girl B (yes... I realize she's a girl and therefore should be an "A" but I didn't want to confuse with the letters and she was pretty jerky so she's getting a "B". Deal with it.) : Hello, this is ****.

Me: Hi, yeah, this is Stacie ******. You called on Sunday (Note:she called on SUNDAY) and left a message on my cell phone? Blah blah blah... by the way, we are trying to find out when we'll be able to expect our things to be delivered?

**NOTICE** No freaking out about things not being here yet, just wondering if someone would tell us when it'll be here ** Back to the program...

Mover Girl B: Blah blah blah... I can't help you, you'll have to speak to the dispatcher.

Mover Man A(who is apparently also said "Dispatcher"): Hello? What is wrong? What do you need?! (Already, a hint of the customer service that's about to blindside me).

Me: Hi, yeah, we're trying to find out where our stuff is currently? We were told it was in storage??

Mover Man A: You're stuff? I don't have to tell you where it is. It's in storage. It's fine.

**Ok. Let's pause once again and let that last comment sink in a bit. Lovely. Let's go on. **

Me: Huh?!

Mover Man A: I don't have to tell you where my warehouse is. No one has to tell you that. Your stuff is in storage.

Me: HUH??!

Mover Man A: You'll get your stuff when we call for delivery.

Me: What the...?! What?!! Where are our things??! Yes, you do have to tell us where our things are! They're... they're... OURS!

Mover Man A: No, I don't! (hatefully)

Me: Yes! Yes, you DO! (very pissed-off-edly)

Mover Man A: Why do I have to tell you? I don't have to tell you. You act like we came and stole it. Why does it matter?

**Let us pause yet again... Yes. He really said that. **

Me: Um... ooooooook. How about because it's insured and our insurance agency would like to know where it is (where did that come from? I don't know, but the whole conversation was crazy from the minute he spoke, so I went with it. And our things are insured.)

Mover Man A: (and this is where it gets really good - the customer service training really pays off for him): YOU CALL HERE TREAT ME LIKE AN ASSHOLE? WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING? I DON'T HAVE TO TELL YOU ANYTHING.

Me: What? (a bit bewildered by the strange turn of events and potty mouth)

Mover Man A: [repeat tyrade above]

Me: Look, it's our furniture. We tried calling all last week for information and now we're just really irritated. Where is it?

Mover Man A: You called last week? We were closed for Jewish holiday. We're a Jewish company.

Me: [squeak... not sure what to make of that because the only two guys we delt with in person were very Latino and spoke with heavy Hispanic accents. I'll be honest, though, and admit I've never met the guy on the phone so I don't know if it's true or an excuse. Even if he was out for holiday observance, he's still a big fat jerk.]

Mover Man A: We'll call you in 14 business days. We're a normal business, we go by business days.

Me: Um, you picked up on a Sunday. That's not a "business day", Dude. And the paperwork said 2-10 days. (yes, I called him "Dude". No, I don't know why.)

Mover Man A: We only deliver on business days. We'll call in fourteen business days. Blah blah blah... asshole again... blah blah. (He said "asshole" at least four times. I wish I was kidding.)

Me: [click]

What have we learned here today? Number one, when I'm angry, the F-word springs to mind a little more quickly than I'd care to admit though happily, I didn't use it. Number two, Don't move because there are bad people out there who will take your stuff and hide it from you then not feel at all badly when you start to cry and demand to know where is your beloved big squishy plaid chair that you shopped and shopped for weeks to finally find. These people truly bite.

Updates to follow, including any ransom notes we may possibly receive from our beloved furniture.
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