Monday, December 26, 2005

This is just wrong on so many levels

Peter, I love you man, but this is not the guy I remember dressing up as Elvis (the latter years) back when we were in our twenties.

Things I learned at Christmas...

  1. I still hate wrapping gifts. Betsy was sick Christmas Eve, so the job of wrapping the “special” gifts fell on me. In the past, I was the guy who would pay whatever it took to get things gift-wrapped. No such luck this time around. By the time I was finished, the gifts look like they had been wrapped by someone wearing boxing gloves, sent through the FedEx distribution system twice, and then wrapped again by a guy with the DTs. If Amazon didn’t offer gift wrapping, I would never give another gift in my life.

  2. I feel empathy for my parents, especially after putting together the “big” gift. Sophie got an easel from Santa, and it had to be put together (rather than wrapped). This is the only time when I would have rather wrapped. I’m downstairs at 9:00 at night, with a Guiness in one hand, trying to figure out how to attach leg A to joint B using Nut K and bolt M. And people wonder why I don’t work on my own house.

  3. Next year, Santa will need beer and cookies. Of course, not just any beer. It looks like Santa will need another Guiness to wash down his cookies. Of course, he’ll need to finish assembling (see #2) before receiving his reward.

  4. Betsy’s idea of “Two gifts from Santa” was brilliant. Sophie was happy to open presents – it didn’t matter how many or from whom. She spent more time unwrapping our gifts than her own, and didn’t even bother looking at the gifts before looking to unwrap the next one. One other thing that Santa did was take some old toys away (and put them in the storeroom). We can still see the floor of the playroom.

  5. Don’t spend too much time worrying about the gifts. Sophie’s favorite was a “bouncy ball” – a rubbery ball that looked like a blowfish. The easel and piano mat were a distant second and third.

  6. Trust no vendor. I bought a gift for Betsy from Ebuyer, who (to reduce fraud) would not ship to my work address. So instead, they shipped to my house, and told UPS to just leave it on the front steps (and not require a signature). The end result? Some kid in the housing projects has a nice new Palm, I have to send paperwork to Ebuyer and UPS because I never received the shipment, and Betsy has to keep using her old Palm from 1999. At least I still had the gift from Victoria’s Secret.

  7. We’re now really settled down. This year was the year when more than half the cards we received were the “photo cards” with the pictures of the kids on them. No more goofy “Dogs Singing Jingle Bells”, or Santa with a surfboard.

  8. Family is all that matters. We were very lucky that Mimi and Pappa were able to visit for Christmas, and we also had the chance to talk with Grandma as well.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

FedEx, Why do you Hate me?

I don't know what FedEx thinks about Charlestown, but I know it's not good.

Here's what happened:

November 27th: I placed an order at Petco for a new automatic watering bowl for Zachary. His old one had stopped working well, and we'd had it for a few years. What the heck, I threw in some filters too.

November 28th, 12:35PM: FedEx picked up the package.

November 28th, 6:35PM: FedEx says the label became "unreadable", so they replaced it.

November 29th: The package arrived at the Wilmington center...this is where it started to go terribly wrong. It was placed on the truck to be delivered. No attempt made that day.

November 30th: The package stayed in Wilmington, enjoying a nice cup of coffee with the FedEx team there.

December 1st: The package was placed on the truck. No mention of where the package went that day, but it wasn't our house.

December 2nd: The package spent another day in Wilmington, taking in the sights. Did you know that Wilmington was part of an unstable frontier in Queen Anne's war, and was established in 1730 after a sawmill was built there?

December 3rd: The package was placed on a truck to be delivered, but once again, the delivery was "delayed".

December 4th & 5th: The package spent a nice weekend in Wilmington, visiting the nearby childhood homes of Jack Kerouac (Lowell) and Jay Leno (Andover). I don't know if the package took any pictures, but I didn't get any postcard. Ungrateful package.

December 6th: The package came back to the facility after a latenight bender, and was put on the truck to be delivered the next day.

December 7th: "Recipient Location Security Delay". I called, and spoke with a nice gentleman from Memphis about what this meant. He said, "Perhaps the President was in town, and they couldn't get through". I'm serious. I mentioned to him that I am from Massachusetts, and that Dubya wouldn't be caught dead in this state. I doubt he really thinks of it as one of the current 50, let alone the original 13. His other guess? A "parade". I also said, "This isn't Memphis - we have our parades in the Spring and Summer, when people are unfrozen enough to actually attend." He promised that the package would be delivered the next possible day.

December 8th: The package was out getting a facial, so was not around to get delivered.

December 9th: The package was put on a truck, and I was back to "No attempt made, delivery scheduled for next business day".

December 10th, 11th, 12th: The package spent the long weekend doing some shopping at the mall and having a nice dinner in Andover Center (I had recommended the Andover Inn). I think it had a good time.

December 13th: FedEx finally gave up. "Package Available for Pickup". Now through this whole process, FedEx gave me NO notification - no post-it, no postcard, no phone call, and certainly no package.

December 14th and 15th: The package spent the two days in Package Lockup, where bad packages go when their recipients have the audacity to live in Charlestown.

December 16th: I called Memphis, got connected a supervisor, who connected me with Wilmington, who connected me with a "QA supervisor". She found the package, noticed all the writing over it, and said, "Maybe they didn't deliver it because you live in the projects". Um, have you seen my property tax bill? Well, I do live close to the local housing development, but most of Boston can make that claim. So I pointed out to her the erros of FedEx's ways. She took detailed notes about where to place the package (on our back deck) in case the driver didn't like leaving it on the front steps. Now remember, the driver has never even rung the doorbell thus far, let alone get out of his truck to drop off the package.

December 17th: You guessed it - "No attempt made".

In the past few weeks, Zachary has given up waiting and started walking around with a diving rod to find a new source of water. This gift was supposed to be a nice Christmas surprise for him. At this rate, I'm going to just get him a gift card like I do for everyone else. I suspect that the reason the driver didn't stop by was Speedy Wong's, the local chinese food restaurant/meth lab ("Check out our #8 SpeedBall Special!"). Come on, it's a cat bowl!

I don't know what to do. I do know that I am not going to drive up to Wilmington to pick up a package from Petco, when the closest one is about 3 miles away. So FedEx, Why do you Hate me?

Update: All hail the power of the Internet! After writing this, we went to a Christmas Party, came back, and SURPRISE! The package had arrived! On a Sunday! Of course, it looked like it had been across the border several times, and perhaps thrown in jail, and searched by some NSA guy for having impure thoughts, but all in all, it was in pretty good shape. And the cat bowl even worked!

I'm sure it was this entry that did it - FedEx was sooo scared of the negative publicity that they rushed out to get the package home. Or, maybe some guy was working on Sunday and thought he would drop it off on the way home.

Monday, December 12, 2005

My Child / Your Child

Before Sophie was born, Betsy and I came up with a new game to play - My Child / Your Child. It's such a fun game, the whole family can play!

My Child / Your Child requires that you notice some aspect of the child, and determine which person that aspect comes from (if you believe in the whole nature versus nurture thing). For example, Betsy would say, "Blond hair - My Child" or "Brown Eyes, Your Child". See how easy that is?

What makes the game fun is when you notice something that you're not too happy with in your little darling - this immediately becomes the best part of MCYC - it's obvious that the bad things are "Your Child", while what makes her such an angel is because she's "My Child".

Let's look at a few recent rounds of the game:

Betsy: "Jumping on the couch - Your Child, Outgoing personality - My Child"
Neal: "Bedtime requirement that everything is just so - Your Child, Bright personality in the morning - My Child"

A few rules:

  • You have to be ready to justify your call on MCYC - it's not like calling Shotgun to get the front seat. I certainly could never say, "Ability to climb up any surface known to man - Your Child", nor could Betsy say, "Stubborness bordering on fascism - Your Child". It has to match the personality of the parent!
  • You can't call a personality feature twice, but you can call new and revealing aspects of that wonderous personality. Betsy called YC on Sophie jumping in the bed, not one week after calling YC on Sophie jumping on the sofa. I called YC on Sophie's repetition of "I do it myself!" even when the "doing" is dangerous and impossible to manage.
It's gotten to the point now where we don't even call MCYC, we just look and point, with that "I can't believe this trait of yours has been placed into out child!" look that only a spouse can deliver.

Maggie is just now starting to be "in play", with my first call being, "Extremely picky about her bottle temperature, blanket wrapping, position holding...gotta be Your Child".

Oops, gotta run - that Maggie is waking up at 11PM - couldn't be My Child.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

'Tis the Season

That's right, it's the first snowstorm of the season. "When the sky snow-bears, it's time for the chairs" is my own little weather rhyme. Here in Charlestown, the common household chair is the most popular spot saver, though cones, tables, and the occasional cat scratching post work as well. Since it was an early snow, and on the weekend, there weren't very many interesting spot-savers this time. I'm still waiting to see a full dining room set outside. Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 09, 2005

So what's up with these shoes?

Maybe it's the age, but Sophie seems to be growing (mentally at least) by leaps and bounds. It's not just that she's always asking, "What's this?" or even using full sentences. It's getting to the point where you can start to really tell that her little mind is working - thinking about something, and figuring out a way to articulate it.

I'm not child development expert, so it's tough for me to give a specific example - a lot of what she does could be chalked up to parroting phrases that we use or (horrors!) she sees on TV or hears from other adults. Luckily, she hasn't learned too much from Caillou, since she doesn't ask if we can play "curling" or where her toque is.

Now I have an instance where I have a great example, or in the words of Sophie, "There it is!"

Last weekend we were trying to get out of the house, which is usually a comedy of errors, screaming, tantrums, and general mayhem. We don't consider it a true departure until both kdis have cried at least once.

We needed to get Sophie's shoes on her feet - we usually give up on trying to get socks on her, since she always battles with us (rule #7 of parenting, Pick Your Battles). So we started looking in the usualy places: in the pile of shoes near the front door, in the living room, in the playroom, in her shoes. Check Maggie's room, our bedroom, the spare bedroom, the office. RUn back down to the playroom again. Check the living room again. Hmm, maybe they're in the playroom. Nope, maybe in the bedroom.

After about ten minutes of this (with Sophie accompanying one of us most of the way), Sophie finally had the true answer, "Maybe they're hiding!" OK, so it's not Voltaire, but she did made a joke, and it's all her. We never talk about things hiding on us (people, yes).

I know some PhD can come up with some complicated explanation of what part of the brain was used, blah blah blah.

All I know is that Sophie made a funny.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Coo Coo Ca Joo

Maggie's finally starting to speak....well, I should say, she's starting to coo. I don't remember, but I think that it was a while longer before Sophie started. That means (I hope and fear) that Maggie may start really talking before Sophie . Then I guess it's just a matter of time before the two Patrick sisters start arguing and fighting. Hmmm, perhaps I should look on the bright side - Maggie will be able to tell me what's wrong rather than just crying (as she did several times last night, and most of yesterday).

Gymnastics is back! After a week off, the newest class at the gym is starting, which really means I get an excuse to head to the Muffin House for some yummy muffins. Maybe we'll pick up some frosting for Sophie, since all she does is take a muffin, like the frosting off, and say, "More muffin!" I guess I'll need to teach the words for, "Daddy, I need my sugar hit!"