If you wanna feel better about your family, just read about ours...

Starring: a dad, a mom, a son & daughter-in-law, a daughter & son-in-law, a teen, a tween, a grandson, a granddaughter, 3 dogs, 2 rabbits, 2 dwarf frogs, an unfortunate number of tadpoles, and a whole lot of love.




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Friday, August 27, 2010

Fraud, thy name is Direct Tv


Eight years ago we were customers of Direct Tv. DVR, and the ability to pause live television, is what brought that relationship to an end. Dish Network was offering it for 'free' and Direct Tv wouldn't match the deal. My husband threatened to leave and Direct Tv said, "See ya" and he vowed never to entertain the thought of that company again.

Fast forward to June 2010. We were basically happy customers with Dish Network. Honestly, it's too expensive for what you're getting, but aren't they all? We were happy owners of a system that would tape all of our shows whether we remembered or not and we could pause live television at any given moment to go to the kitchen and get a snack. The American dream, am I right? This time the issue was 'The Big Ten Network.' (Dramatic music here...duh duh duh!)

Direct Tv knew exactly what they were doing when they sent my husband a flier promising 'free' High Definition for life and his beloved 'Big Ten Network' all for $29.99 a month. Here's what I know: #1. We don't have a high definition television and #2. The Big Ten Network is responsible for stealing my husband's attention for all of Fall and most of Winter. But I'm a sucker for saving money so I reluctantly agreed.

June 11th Tech #1 came out for the initial installation. He talked on his cell phone the majority of the four hours he was here and left several of his tools lying around our yard and on our roof. Quite the professional that one was. And I should mention that five minutes after he left, we lost all satellite service and internet. I received a follow up 'customer service' phone call to see if we were pleased, but since he was calling from India, I couldn't understand a word he was saying. Where's the "Press 2 for English" option when you need it?

Enter Tech #2 on June 14th. He got our internet back up. Score. Spent the better part of the hour he was here bad mouthing Tech #1 and his unprofessionalism. Accurate but that in itself is unprofessional. But when he left, our satellite was on and we were happy. Until the next day when the wind had the nerve to blow and we lost our signal yet again.

Tech #3 didn't show up when he was supposed to and several days after that, Tech #2 returned full of apologies, fixed the problem and assured me that it was 'his mistake.' (Dude, I didn't think it was mine.) Unfortunately, that darn wind blew again and 'his mistake' returned.

By this time we were beyond furious when Tech #4 arrived but he fixed us up and all was well a mere month after this process started. (You know it's bad when the air conditioner repairman shows up and C says, "Hi Direct Tv man.")

We weren't happy with many of the differences with Dish Network but we thought for the money saved we could manage to survive our two year contract. Until we received our first bill. Instead of the $29.99 we were expecting, it was for a whopping $66. Upon further inspection my husband noticed all of the hidden charges, one of which was a $10 fee for that HD tv that was supposed to be 'free for life' and that we don't even need. My husband called 'customer service' (and I use that term lightly) and went round and round until he reached a manager named Billy. Here's what Billy had to say.....We (as the customer) should have known that HD tv only stays 'free' if you set up an account to pay on-line within 30 days of installation. Our 30 days is passed so our only other option is to replace our HD server with a regular server.....for a fee, of course. Basically, according to Billy, we're sh** out of luck. I saw that infamous shift in my gentle husband's eyes and through gritted teeth he called Billy out on the scam. Billy hung up on my husband. (Bad move.) My husband called Billy back. Billy claimed that the connection was lost and that his phone doesn't make out-going calls. (He must have gotten his phone service through Direct Tv.) My husband, with eyes still shifted, calmly and frighteningly said, "Well then it's gonna suck for you when I come down there to kick your a** and you wish you could dial 911."

That was the end of the conversation with Billy and I can only assume that Billy from India, has already reported my husband to the proper authorities and our phone may or may not be tapped. As for Direct Tv, our only other course of action is to contact their corporate offices, which can't be reached by phone, so you have to send an email. (Apparently the phones at corporate can't receive calls. What's up with the phones in India?)

My fuming husband informed me that we'll be sending their equipment back.....right after football season. (That topic is still under discussion.) In the meantime, we're stuck with a $66 dollar a month signal from this fraud of a company.

Well, I have a signal of my own for Direct Tv....and mine really is free for life....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

And so it begins.....

"Bus is in the cornfield!"

Everyone in our house knows exactly what that means; the person on designated bus watch has just spotted the school bus across the cornfields and that signals the last minute scramble to make it out to the bus on time. At least that's how it works on a good day.

Two years ago we overslept on the first day of school and they didn't get there until lunch. Let's just say none of our family would classify as 'morning' people. Last year we woke up on the first day of school to discover that K tried to give herself bangs in the middle of the night and was left with patches of one inch stubble scattered across the top of her head. It was awfully early in the year for one of the girls to be sobbing as she stormed down the driveway toward the bus. That usually doesn't start until after Labor Day.

This year I had high hopes that all would go smoothly. Z doesn't have to be at school until 10am this year, therefore that's one less person involved in the morning chaos. (And since he's my most high maintenance, that couldn't have worked out better.)

Everything was right on schedule in preparation for the big day.....until our well pump broke yesterday afternoon and we lost all running water. This was not in the plan. My panicked A, and cleanest child by far, asked how she was supposed to bathe. So last night before bed, my children could be found taking a mandatory dip in the pool while I sat on the side with shaving cream and a bucket and shaved my legs. Yep, we've officially crossed over into 'Red-neck-ville.' This mornings bathroom routine involved bottled water for teeth brushing and peeing outside behind the playhouse. A, also our most dignified child, refuses to pee outside therefore planned to attempt to hold her nights urine all the way to school. I haven't gotten a phone call so that's a good sign. Nothing worse than showing up your Freshman year of high school having peed your pants on the bus. (Not that I would know.)

So with their bellies full of cinnamon rolls (and bladders full of urine), my daughters made it onto the school bus on time and excited for the first day of school. Round two will begin at 9am when it's time to wake up the boy. I can't believe his school bus riding days are over and he'll be going out to the driveway to get in his own car and drive himself to school. It's such a cliche to wonder where the time went but seriously, where did the time go?

As he drives away I'll be the one standing in our driveway keeping watch across the horizon....."Z is in the cornfield" I'll quietly say as I wipe a tear from my cheek and return to the house.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The zoo is for the birds

There used to be a tiny water park called Wyandot Lake across from the Columbus Zoo. For a very cheap price, you could enjoy the water slides and the kid friendly dry rides such as the scrambler, spider ride, merry-go-round, and even a small roller coaster that brought squeals from the kids as they felt the thrill of their first trip down a steep hill. We bought season passes there for several years and have wonderful memories of that great little park.

Several years ago, the zoo purchased (and ruined) Wyandot Lake. They named it Zoombezi Bay and the price to get in is $24.99......if you're under the age of 10. If you're unlucky enough to be 10 years or older, the price is a whopping $29.99. And don't forget the $5 to park your car. That means it costs a small fortune for a family of any size to go to this park. Granted, those prices are comparable to Kings Island and Cedar Point, but here's what you might not know.....the price of admission to Zoombezi Bay does not include any of the dry rides! Thanks to Jack Hanna, you're now required to buy individual ride tokens or an all-day ride pass at exorbitant prices. That's not a theme park. That's a county fair. And that's ridiculous.

So why can we be found at Zoombezi Bay for one day in August every year? Because we get free tickets. Which brings me to how we spent our Saturday......

As we pulled out of our driveway, A said, "Let's try to make it through one day without it turning into a blog for mom." (But nobody knocked on wood.) Therefore, when my husband tried to use leftover tickets from 2009 "just to see if it would work" and he got scolded by the gate attendant and then tried to blame K, none of us were surprised. When we were having a family picture taken in the Lazy River and K's nose spouted blood like a geyser, nobody was shocked. (PS. I now understand where they get the saying that blood is thicker than water.....her blood floated along the current for quite awhile.) When we exited the river, we were followed by a tiny deeply tanned man who was wearing two pairs of sweatpants and had goggles on his head. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? While sitting in his lawn chair, my husband crossed his leg and kicked the headrest out from under the kid who was sitting in the chair in front of him. He didn't realize what he had done until the very angry father of the kid turned his very angry glares toward him......and I laughed so hard I peed my bathing suit. At lunch K lost her tooth eating cheese puffs and proceeded to vomit in the parking lot beside our van and quickly dove back in when we realized that seagulls have zero standards when it comes to what they're willing to eat. K's tooth is either flying somewhere over Columbus or on someone's windshield by now. Just another day in our world.

We're not big fans of the zoo section. Not because we believe that animals should be free to roam the wild or anything. Frankly, I think they've got it pretty good in the zoo. My dislike of the zoo stems from my dislike of crowds. Stick me on a path on a hot day with hundreds of people stampeding from exhibit to exhibit and I'm not a happy momma. Throw in the occasional slow moving scooter or heaven forbid a newlywed couple who refuses to drop hands and I have flashbacks of our nightmare trip to Disney World and I become enraged. But the zoo recently added a polar bear exhibit and the boys in our family were bouncing around with excitement to see them. So we girls tagged along to see what the big fuss was about.

The only thing worse than those crowds of tourists, slow scooters, and lovebirds crowding down a hot path, is when that same group is trying to fit down a crowded ramp, but we forged ahead to please the boys. We ended up underneath a giant glass wall & ceiling of water that was full of fish happily swimming and mocking the stupid humans who were choosing to stand in a hot hole underground and watch them. I waited about a minute before angrily asking where the infamous polar bear was and was answered with a lot of excited people pointing their fingers and saying, "There's his foot!" (Are you freakin kidding me?) I decided that bear had exactly 5 minutes to dazzle us or we were heading back to the bay to bleed in the Lazy River some more.

Finally, the bear plunged into the fishy water to the delighted gasps of his underground fans, chased a few fish, mooned us with a giant spread of his legs, and climbed back out. Admittedly, it was kind of cool and I found myself smiling in spite of myself. My husband turned around and asked if I took a picture. I looked down at the camera that was hanging around my neck (speaking of tourist, right?) and I realized I hadn't gotten one single shot. Oops. He looked like a little boy whose balloon had just popped. (Take it easy, Chuckles.) He told me I'd just missed getting a once in a lifetime picture. (Drama runs deep in our family. Notice the picture posted at the top right? It's called 'Google' so please calm down.)

Having seen a bear we were ready to go back to the water side of the park where we belong. Having fought the crowds to get to the bear, I was running short on patience to get out. I finally decided to enact my personal motto that was pretty effective in Disney World and equally as effective at the zoo. It goes something like this: "She who has the stroller, has the right of way." And it works, too......

Monday, August 2, 2010

Husband giveth, and Husband taketh away......

One summer afternoon back in 2001, my husband arrived home from work having cleared out our savings account and towing 2 jet skis behind his car. All without my knowledge. His explanation was that a buddy from work was selling them and he had to make a decision quick because another guy was also interested in them. (If you haven't figured it out yet, my husband is the type of guy who telemarketers and used car salesman dream of.) Needless to say, this was followed by a fight. Savings account aside, our 3 kids at the time ranged in age from 2 to 7, so from a mom's perspective, this didn't seem like an appropriate 'jet ski' phase of life. But it was done and we were the (angry) owners of 2 pieces of water craft that neither of us had ever ridden, much less owned before. This could only spell disaster......

The first time we took them out to the local reservoir we opted to go without the kids. (The less people injured in this process the better, right?) We got them into the water, got em started up, and we slowly journeyed out of the no wake zone into the wide open water.....and then we let those suckers rip. And as much as I hated to admit it, I was having a blast! But I turned around and noticed my husband sitting in the middle of the water not moving so I headed back in his direction. Just as I got close enough to ask him what was wrong, his jet ski (with him on it) silently and slowly rolled upside down and he disappeared under the water. I'd like to say that the first thing that crossed my mind at that point was concern but I couldn't get past the fact that I'd seen manatees at the zoo roll over exactly like that. (You can't help what goes through your mind, people.) His head, topped with his Ohio State hat all askew, popped out of the water and he was pissed. It turns out his engine sucked up his tow rope and that thing was dead. He managed to roll it back over and was trying to get it restarted while I circled him with my jet ski so that he didn't get hit by a passing boat. I thought I was doing a nice thing so I was stunned when he suddenly screamed, "QUIT CIRCLING ME LIKE A D*** SHARK!!!!" (Yikes.) That left me with only one option.....I rode to some open water nearby and enjoyed my jet ski.

He wasn't having any luck getting it fixed so he started trying to swim it in. He'd push it, swim till he caught up with it, push it again, and swim some more. From where I was, this didn't look like the best idea, but I wasn't about to say a word. Finally a passing boat took pity on him. He got on his jet ski and held onto a rope while they slowly towed him in. I was following behind and began to notice that his jet ski was slowly starting to sink. It was getting lower and lower into the water as they pulled him along. By the time they reached the dock, all you saw of my husband was his shoulders and head being pulled behind a boat while he used his legs to desperately cling to his jet ski that was completely immersed under the water. Just when you think things couldn't get any worse, as the boat pulled alongside the dock, he and his jet ski floated straight under it......um, that could have gone better......

He didn't say anything on the ride home and I tried not to glow from my newly discovered love of a jet ski. We took them out several more times and each time, without fail, I had a blast and he didn't. Maybe someone should have discussed this purchase with me first, hmmm? Maybe someone learned their lesson about first talking to me about major decisions.....or maybe not. I came home one day to find that the jet skis weren't in our driveway anymore. I ran inside thinking someone had stolen them only to have him tell me that he donated them.....to Amvets. (Insert another fight here.)

Don't get me wrong, it's not just the jet skis. This is our pattern. He gets excited about something that I don't want, buys it despite my protests, I end up falling in love with it, he ends up hating it, and he gets rid of it. (ie; the Bow Flex machine that was going to get him a "beach body by June of 2006"......I ended up using it every day only to come home and find it in our garage sale.)

I'd like to say he's learned his lesson but I'd be lying. So for my own protection, I'm the one that learned the lesson. Last year he wanted to buy a used weight lifting machine. The enormous kind that you should only find in your local YMCA. The game played out......I told him we didn't have room for it; he promised himself a beach body and dreams of an increased batting average in softball......it's sitting in our rec room. He's used it twice. He has no idea that I've been using it 5 days a week for over a year. I complain to him often how much I hate it and beg him to get rid of it. That assures me that it won't end up at Goodwill.

I'd love to tell you that I have a beach body as a result of that machine. No such luck, although I did lose 25 lbs with its help. (I wish I could thank him.) But he was right about one thing. I've never hit softballs so far in all my life......