Friday, September 14, 2012

Phone Etiquette -- My Way

Ways to get your phone call completely ignored (or else blocked):

If you call once and I don't recognize the name on the caller id, 99 times out of 100, the call goes to our voicemail. If you don't leave a message, I don't call back. Ever.

If you call more than once, I don't recognize the name on the caller ID, and you never leave a voicemail, I will likely block your call.

If you call, ask me if I have a security system in the house, and then refuse to take my "I am not interested and please remove my name from your system" answer seriously, you will get blocked. Or else reported.

If you call and try to sell me anything, I will say no.

If you call and ask me to donate to your charity, I will tell you to snail mail me your information for me to peruse at my leisure. No snail mail campaign? Shucks. You're SOL. (Or else a scammer and I'm sure as honey not going to give you my credit card number and mailing address on your word alone).  In fact, if you have my home phone number, you probably already have my mailing address (and various other pieces of publicly available information that could be easily collected with a few minutes of internet research).

I don't give out my address over the phone.

And no, I am not single.

If you are a computer and you somehow got through my "recognize the name" check (or else got lucky), you will be hung up on. Don't call back. It doesn't help.

I don't answer political questionnaires (trust me, you wouldn't want to hear my answers if I did--somehow I doubt that my political leanings and my current demographic line up).

I don't speak Fax.

I am not involved with any obscure dancing associations in Missouri. (Try this for fun: Google your phone number to see what kind of strange hobbies its previous owner used to have. Then start sending emails to web admins to update their sites).

Oh, yeah, our phone line sucks. The sound quality is abysmal. We never have settled whether it is an external or internal wiring problem (likely internal since it comes into the house with the internet/tv access and that reception is just fine).  We will fix it at some point. Using that as an excuse not to leave a message on my answering machine doesn't fly--I've called my own number and left a message; it buzzes pretty badly but still works.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It Runneth Over

Last week, our next door neighbor had a problem with their outside faucet. The kind of problem where a landscaper turns it on in order to water newly planted shrubs, and then fails to shut it off all the way, leaving it gushing water for some unknown amount of time during the day.

Our house has a (thankfully) unfinished basement, with a sump pump. Its proper functioning depends on its access to electricity. And a cord. That is plugged in about seven feet up the basement wall.

Did you know we have cats who like to jump and climb? I can't really blame them without proof, and we have none. Just a plug that came loose somehow and reminded us that we've been terribly lazy about sorting and storing a large number of cardboard boxes that are around the basement.

Most of the contents survived, for whatever that is worth. Which isn't much since we're talking about the boxes that we packed over twelve months ago and, by and large, have not opened. Clearly not our most treasured possessions. We did lose a leftover bag of grout--more like a bag-shaped concrete block.

Did you know that concrete boxes melt when they get wet? Just like the Wicked Witch, only swampy-smelling.

We now own half a dozen additional sets of plastic utility shelves and another dozen new plastic storage boxes. And of course, I forgot to ensure that the plastic storage boxes actually fit on the new plastic utility shelves. But we can start putting paper, fabric, cardboard, etc on the shelves. And stack the plastic boxes amongst themselves.

We never had a problem in our old house, but then, we lived at the top of a hill on the highest street of the neighborhood on one of the highest parts of the local area (what realtors like to say are Breathtaking Views). It also had a sump pump, but it would have taken quite an effort by the Power Above (aka rainclouds) and the Power Below (soil drainage) to get water into that basement.

If we ever finish our new basement, we are definitely looking into some sort of fail-safe for the sump pump.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mom Guilt, Rainbow Brite, Justin Bieber, and Acid Wash Jeans

For Charlotte’s eight birthday recently, I bought her a gift card for Justice, a popular girls clothing store. They sell a lot of bright colors, and nearly everything has glitter or sequins. And lately they have a continual video feed of Justin Bieber music videos (plus t-shirts).
At this point, some moms are cringing, and others are getting themselves worked up about the appropriateness of dressing little girls like little girls.
My daughter wears a uniform to school. Every day, she has a white blouse plus her choice of blue school-plaid jumper, blue school-approved shorts, or blue school-approved uniform pants. When it gets cold, she’s got a couple of school logo sweaters and sweatshirts to choose from. Shoes are either plain black/brown casual ones or else all-white sneakers. Getting dressed is a total no-brainer (nevermind that she still drags her feet about it). It is also pretty limiting for her self expression.
Left to her own devices, she dresses like Rainbow Brite (remember her? Every stitch of clothing, and possibly her hair, was a different color). Yep. That’s Charlotte.  On Sunday she had on a florescent yellow ruffled skirt, fluorescent orange top, red and green knee socks, and purple shoes.  My husband and I raise our eyebrows at her color selections, but as long as the occasion isn’t too formal (it wasn’t), and the clothes are appropriately sized and for the weather (they were), then we just let it go.
So back to Justice and her gift card. The store is one of her favorites because everything in the place is glittery and rainbow-y, and, lately, looks like what I wore as a kid in the 80’s. Lots of fluorescents. Big boxy shirts over leggings (though they haven’t re-instituted stirrups yet). Denim skirts (these days the manufacturers are sewing shorts into them, so really they are denim skorts—much more playground friendly). Definitely a Who’s That Girl (Madonna? Crazy 80’s movie?) kind of vibe. Perfect for a girl who loves rainbows and needs outfits for playtime after school and on weekends.
Yesterday she walked in the door, gift card in hand, and had no idea where to start shopping. And then came the Mom Guilt. I don’t take her shopping very often. I am horrible at shopping with other people, and even worse at shopping with my kids. I tend to panic picking out Christmas gifts because there are too many choices. And I get easily frustrated with the kids changing their minds or just not making up their minds when looking for birthday party gifts.  In other words, I’ve never taught my daughter how to shop. I usually just come home with a bag full of cute outfits in her size and hope she likes them. That used to be a good strategy.
Ok, she’s only eight. She doesn’t need to know how to build a wardrobe. And she has just last year mastered multiple digit addition and subtraction—calculating percent-off sales is still too much for her. So she needs guidance. And I am not good at guiding without outright
controlling the end result. I do math in my head, have a clear picture of what I think she needs in her closet, have a decent eye for fit before getting to the dressing room.  But the whole point of a gift card is to give her more control, more say, more choice. And to let her experience the fun of browsing, trying on clothes, matching up outfits.
It was frustrating. There were multiple rounds of picking out clothes, calculating prices, putting clothes back, major disappointment when she realized that the black acid-washed stretch jeans (hello 80’s) didn’t come in her size, and so on. And then, at checkout, when she had just a little more picked out than her gift card could handle (and I’d already agreed to kick in a few extra $ for sake of keeping an outfit together), she spotted the Accessories. Buy 2 Get 2 Free plus 40% off. But she was out of money. And I was out of patience. And we both nearly had a meltdown right there at the register.
*deep breath*
The major lesson for me is that my daughter needs to be taken shopping more often. Not outrageous, no “Here honey, take Daddy’s credit card” or anything. But she does need control and some freedom to choose within limits. And she needs to learn to save a little money, and to deal with delayed gratification. I tried to suggest (demand) that she work on earning her allowance and plan to come back in a few weeks to pick out a necklace or bracelet. She needs to actually do that and see the whole cycle through—from chores to allowance to shopping.
Also, I need to not take Trystan with us. He likes to spin the clothes racks, has no idea why he isn’t allowed to pick out matching pink-and-purple “Best Friends” necklaces for himself, or green leggings, and thinks it’s funny to peek under the curtain of the dressing area.  On the bright side, he loves Justin Bieber as much as his sister, and was content to dance to the music videos for a good stretch of time.