Merry Christmas!

Posted on Thursday 25 December 2008

Presents wrapped, stockings hung. Nothing left but get enough sleep to be bright-eyed whenever the kids wake up. Have a wonderful day everyone!

Christy @ 12:37 am
Filed under: Me
Walmart is Not My Friend

Posted on Monday 22 December 2008

On December 1, I ordered almost all of my Christmas presents online. I checked to make sure everything was in stock and would arrive well in time for Christmas. My order included several things from Walmart, so I decided to use their Site-to-Store option to save a few $. The website says that once an item ships it should take 7-10 days.

Several days after all of the other packages had arrived, I got a note from Walmart saying my packages were delay in transit and would arrive on the 22nd. I was annoyed, and a bit concerned, but figured that I’d still have them by Christmas. Several days after that, I received another note saying my packages were delayed, but that they would arrive by the 19th. Ok, that makes no sense, but I was feeling a bit more confident that they’d arrive on time.

The 19th came, and two of the packages were in, but not the 3rd. So, today (the 22nd) I called to find out if the package is expected to be in (the website has not been updated). I couldn’t find a customer service number, so I called my local store. I explained the situation to the woman on the phone, who said, “Oh, most of those orders take 3 weeks to come in.” I replied, “The website says 7-10 days.” She said (and I’m not exaggerating here), “Well, you can’t believe everything on the website.” Huh? If I can’t trust the shipping information on your website, how can I decide if an item will arrive in time? As I was in the process of saying something along these lines, she abruptly transferred me to another line without saying anything. Now I’m angry instead of just being a little frustrated. The person she transferred me to said that I had to call the 1-800 customer number because they have no information in the store. Fine.

I called the 1-800 number and waited on hold for 10 minutes. To her credit, the woman who finally answered the phone was reasonably pleasant. She told me that the order should have arrived on the 19th and that she would call the store (who claimed they had no information) to find out what is going on. It seems that they may have lost my order after all that. She told me, with no sense of irony whatsoever, that if they couldn’t find it, they would just refund my money. Excuse me? I’ve waited three weeks for an item that you lost and just a couple of days before Christmas you’re going to pretend that refunding my money is good customer service?

That’s not the best part, though. The best part is that the item I ordered is apparently AVAILABLE IN THE STORE. Now they expect me to pay full price for an item that I bought on sale and never received. I don’t think so, Walmart.

My advice to you? Work out the kinks in your Site-to-Store system. If the item is already IN the store, you shouldn’t bother shipping it out. Just have them set one aside. Or, at least, find a way to make sure products arrive at the store when they’re supposed to. And, most importantly, how about some customer service training for your phone reps? If a customer calls to inquire about an order, they should be treated with basic respect, especially when they are handling the situation calmly and in a polite manner.

Christy @ 1:48 pm
Filed under: Me
Still a Little Magic Left

Posted on Sunday 21 December 2008

As I have mentioned before, I’ve been entering the HP Magic Giveaways here and there. The prize is fantastic and would be so much fun to share! I’ve also enjoyed visiting many of the blogs who are participating. I’ve added a few subscriptions to my list.

One of the last blogs to kick off their giveaway was Ciberprensa.com, a Spanish-language technology blog. They have asked us to start a “meme” by choosing a post that we like and blogging about it.

The post I chose was about GMail. You can read it here in English (you’ll probably need to browse for it, since I’m having trouble linking directly to the translated article), or here in the original Spanish. It’s called “8 Way to access GMail through the back door.” It’s not an earth-shattering article, but does have some interesting tips on getting GMail to load when something goes wrong or in non-standard environments. Some of the tips include a basic mode that doesn’t use javascript, the mobile mode and safe mode for when you’re on a public machine. I knew about some of these, but not others. I’m going to have to try to remember them for when I’m out and about. Does anyone else have GMail tips to share? If so, please let me know.

Also, you have a little time to join the meme and enter the giveaway. There are options for bloggers, as well as those without a blog, so you’re all covered! You can read the giveaway instructions in English on the CiberPrensa site. I’m going to pass the meme along to two of my favorite bloggers, MommyNiri and Ansha Kotyk. Head on over to CiberPrensa and find a post you enjoy. Blog about it and pass it on.  C’mon, ladies… take a chance on the magic!

Good luck!

Christy @ 2:24 am
Filed under: Me
It’s a Beautiful Life

Posted on Saturday 20 December 2008

I have a confession. As cheesy as it may sound, I love that TLC commercial with Jon & Kate Plus 8, Little People Big World, etc. It is so upbeat! So, I finally hunted down the song and have now fallen for Fisher, the band the sings it. Here’s the Fisher version of the video (as opposed to the TLC commercial). The song is called “Beautiful Life” from their album “The Lovely Years.” It makes me want to hug my kids!

Christy @ 1:52 am
Filed under: Me
Holiday Decorating & Meals

Posted on Thursday 18 December 2008

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining a number of other Boston area lady-bloggers for a lunch at Hamersley’s Bistro courtesy of Stop & Shop and 360 PR. In addition to a delicious meal, they provided us with tips on holiday food shopping, as well as inexpensive decorating ideas from Bryan Rafanelli of Rafanelli Events.

I had Bug in tow with me (they were kind enough to provide child care AND take Bug’s food allergies into account) and Big Guy had made off that morning with Bug’s epi-pens so we were running a bit late. As a result, I didn’t have much time at all to connect with the other bloggers. That was a bit disappointing, but I know there will be other opportunities.

I learned some interesting things… for example, did you know that turkeys and canned goods are least expensive around the holidays? Start stocking up, people! But what surprised me even more was that many people still hold an outdated notion that store brands aren’t as good as the “name” brand items on the shelf. I just had to take a moment to debunk that myth (and I have at least one friend who has bought into it). The store brands are packaged by many of the same companies that package the name brands. It’s very often the SAME food. There are a few things I’m picky about (I’m notoriously loyal to the Tropicana orange juice brand and I do actually prefer the Stop & Shop mac and cheese over the bigger brands), but in general, there isn’t a lot of difference. We buy store brands whenever possible, because they’re just as good, if not better, and significantly less expensive. Do a blind taste test and see what you think. =}

All in all, I had a wonderful time. I convinced MommyNiri to go along, too, and she managed to snag a huge chocolate lovers goody basket! We all went home with some nice Stop & Shop swag, so I can’t complain.

I do have to give a shout-out to fellow blogger, Jill Notkin of AlexCaseyBaby, who sent the invitation my way. Thanks!

Christy @ 1:33 pm
Filed under: Me
Video Games for Gals

Posted on Sunday 14 December 2008

I love playing video games, but I’m picky about it. I don’t like a lot of bloodshed, and I don’t want to be overly challenged. Yeah, I know, but life is challenging enough. I don’t need to be stressed out by my leisure activities. I prefer city building games and simulations, but there are a few others that sneak into my favorites. Here are some of my favorite games that are fun and challenging, but not TOO much so.

Hubby and I finished the story plot in Lego Indiana Jones on the PS3. We were plodding along, but lately we’ve gotten a bit faster. Part of it is that I’ve gotten better with the controls! I guess I’m more of a PC gaming kind of gal. Anyway, we’ve now got to go back and see if we can unlock all the game secrets. Turns out that that might be even more fun. =} Any of the Lego games (we’ve also go the Star Wars versions) are good for new gamers. Although you can technically “die,” you’re just regenerated with more Lego pieces. There are some fun puzzles and I kind of hack and slash my way through the fighting scenes. Sometimes I end up stabbing Big Guy while I’m at it. Luckily, he’s a good sport. It’s a fun multi-player game.

My favorite PS game is We Love Katamari. It’s a quirky Japanese game where you roll around a ball (called a Katamari) and pick things up with it. For example, when you’re small, you can pick up postage stamps, matches, coins, etc. As you roll up more objects, you get bigger and pick up bigger things like cats, apples and frogs. You get bigger and bigger until you can roll up people, cars and even buildings. It sounds stupid, I know, but it’s got funky music and it’s actually kind of addictive. There was one level that I really struggled with (you’ve got a Katamari on fire and have to keep it burning by rolling things up – Big Guy finally did it for me because I was bored and annoyed).

My favorite PC game is one that’s a bit older at this point. It’s called Emperor and it’s a city building game. Your job is to build a series of cities in ancient China. You have to collect resources, appease the gods (called “Heroes”) and fend off hostile neighbors. Luckily, the fending-off is kept to a minimum and the game is more forgiving than some of the others in the same vein. I enjoy laying out my city and watching the people move in and upgrade their houses. It’s therapeutic in some way. Plus, the monuments you get to build are gorgeous and I enjoy creating luxury resources like silk and carved jade. There is a multi-player component, which allows you to be trade partners with your friends. I also enjoyed the Civilizations series, which is also a city-building game. Big Guy and I always struggled to play that as multi-player, because I always want to build up culture and ignore my army. I can’t play at the same difficulty level without being attacked!

If you have a favorite game that’s more strategic than bloody and more fun than furrowed brow, please share. Bonus points if it has a nice multi-player option!

Christy @ 3:04 pm
Filed under: Me
HP Magic Giveaway, Part 2

Posted on Sunday 7 December 2008

The HP Magic Giveaway is in full swing and I’ve been enjoying the process. Haven’t won anything, yet, but I also like imagining how excited others are when they win. As much as I’d love to win, I may even be more jealous of the bloggers who get to give this cool stuff away.

Most of the contests are encouraging winners to share the prize with others. Not surprising, since it comes with FOUR PCs among other things.

I didn’t have to think long at all about who I’d share this gift with. Over Thanksgiving, my cousin (a police office) was eying my mom’s laptop. He oohed and aahed over it, which I found endearing since her laptop isn’t anything amazing. It’s nice, but it’s not the newest, fanciest, fastest machine available. I mean, it’s just a laptop. But, the reality is, if you don’t have one (more importantly, if you can’t afford one) pretty much any laptop is fantastic. As it turns out, this cousin, along with his wife and their preschool son, are living with my aunt. My aunt is a single mom and has made quite a few sacrifices to make sure her kids have as many opportunities as possible. She’s a nurse and she works really hard for her family. I don’t know what kind of society we live in where nurses, police officers and teachers are so financially undervalued, but it’s something we really need to look at. In any case, her kids had finally both moved out, when – bam! – he’s back with his family. I know that she loves having them there, but it means not a lot of space or time just for her.

If I won the Magic Giveaway, I would give one of the laptops to my aunt, for use by her and her whole family if she chooses. I can’t imagine anyone who deserves it more and I can’t imagine anyone I’d enjoy surprising more. The computer they have now is old and ancient and in desperate need of an upgrade. I’d probably upgrade my computer as well as my husband’s, since make a living on them. We’d give away our old machines to family members who need upgrades as well, but who have fewer demands. I’d also like to host some sort of giveaway, either here on my blog, or in conjunction with one of my favorite non-profits, for some of the other items.

If you have someone you’d like to gift with a laptop, printer, or other HP goodies, you can find the list of participating blogs on the HP Magic website.

You can also enter on Techie Diva or moosh in indy.

Christy @ 1:21 am
Filed under: Me
Snotty, Snotty Sickness

Posted on Monday 1 December 2008

The kids have been sick FOREVER. They caught the first cold and, well… Ok. Then, before they were even over that, they got sick all over again. Bug may have missed the third round (although suspicious sneezes suggest otherwise), but LadyBug just started all over again. On Thanksgiving, she was weepy-eyed, snotty and miserable. And, since she’s still drooling up a storm, she’s basically a drippy, nasty mess. Then she endured several days with varying temps. Poor little LadyBug.

What I’d like to know is this… if we don’t generally take the kids out when they’re sick, where the heck is it coming from? Are the germs just sneaking in on our mail? Traveling over the phone lines? I’m ready for them to go visit some other family. It’s bad enough that the weather is cold and rainy and crappy. I’d at least like to take the kids to their gym class or something.

Germs, germs, go away.

Christy @ 10:52 pm
Filed under: Me
Huh?

Posted on Monday 1 December 2008

And now it’s working. Not sure what went on, but not so happy about it. At least it’s a reminder to create a custom 404 page. =}

Christy @ 12:59 am
Filed under: Me