May 25, 2004
W.U.

Well, I for one can say I've been consistent with posting at least once a week for a couple months now so no one should be looking at me as someone not at least trying to keep visitors entertained. :P

A couple things on my mind right now....

First off, THANK YOU!! from Sebastian, Keegan, Madeline, and their parents for the gift certificates Uncle Sean, (soon to be) Aunt Amy, and Cousin Sloan!! Even with the Amazon.com issues we really appreciate the thought and effort. I must say I've been kind of caught off guard with Sean and Amy's effort to be involved with our lives even though we are so far apart. They sent me a birthday gift, sent Christmas gifts for the kids, they make an effort to stay in touch through IM, email, and the occasional call.

The reality is not a single grandparent (outside my Mom), relative, or friend called or even emailed the kids for their birthday. Every holiday or special event I feel more and more alienated from our family and even a few friends who make absolutely no effort to be a part of the kids life. I could go on and on about it, but I'm not going to. The reality is my kids are extremely happy and it's those people who aren't making an effort to be involved that are really losing out. I should stress that my only issue is with the kids.

My mom bought the kids this amazing redwood play area it has a covered fort, ladder, rock wall, spiral slide, two swings, a glider, and monkey bars. It's amazing. Of course, Brie and I have to put it together and we've done a smashing job so far. First we had to level the land (no easy task) and now the main structure is up and all that is left is for Brie and I to put the spiral slide in this weekend. I didn't take any pictures of the "in work" process, but I'll post "final result" pictures when it's done. To make it all the more amazing Brie and I have been doing the work in 94 (feels like 104) weather. I've never ever been so sweaty and smelly.

Not a lot going on besides that right now. the kids have 2 more weeks of school. We have some fun one day excursions planned for the week after they get out.

That's it until next week.

Posted by John at 06:50 PM
May 19, 2004
Amazon.com Screws Me Again

I really hoped that I wouldn't have to writing an entry like this again. I cancelled my Amazon account in March of last year after having a horrible Customer Service issue with them. See my Blog Entry dated March 16, 2003. But recently Sean and Amy sent each of the kids an Amazon Gift Certificate for their birthdays so I had to try Amazon again. What do you know they screwed up again. Nothing has changed. So what happened this time??

Well, each of the kids ordered a video game for a total of $57.44. I input in the three $20 gift certificates and got my confirmation email. The next morning I received an email saying they were unable to process my order because I didn't have a valid credit card on file for payment. It alarmed me that they were trying to use a credit card when the amount of the sale was under the $60 in gift certificates. So I tried to find a phone number to call them. That in itself is another story, but needless to say in order to call them I had to do a Google. You won't find a phone number on the Amazon website.

After calling and giving them a valid credit card (being guaranteed I wasn't going to be charged anything) I was told everything was in order. A few moments later I received an email asking to give feedback on my call and I gave them negative feedback and told them what happened so far and that I was worried I would be charged. I received an email back from another person apologizing and saying it was a "technical" issue that caused the order to not proccess the gift certificates properly. That this person had verifed it was in the shipping system and that my order should arrive on time.

So today I checked to see if it was do to arrive today (the last day in the window they gave me) and the order page at Amazon tells me that they are waiting for me to pay by Check and that until they recieve the check by mail my order won't be shipped. Now I'm just angry. I Google to find the number again and call. Tell them the backstory and ask what is going on. They have no clue or answer. All he can do is upgrade the shipping to one day for free.

I'm sorry, but this is just so unbelievable. Now I'm going to have to check every couple hours to see if I get a shipment confirmation email and if I don't (or worse yet if I get one of those "items being reordered" emails just like what happened last year. I'll just be gobsmacked. You know the saying Fool Me Once, Fool Me Twice.. well there is just no way I can ever let them fool me three times. So I'm telling everyone I will never shop at Amazon.com or, even more unfortunate, their subsidiaries CDNow and Toys 'R Us.com again .. that really bums me out.

Posted by John at 08:37 AM
May 18, 2004
W.U.

Another busy weekend has come and gone. I spent 9-4 on Saturday helping PACC at our booth at the Franklin Community Day at the Franklin Airport. I was a little wiser this time and managed to put sunscreen on my face and arms, but I forgot to do my legs and neck and they were subsequently burned. It was a hot day, but luckily we had a breeze. Sebastian got sunstroke pretty quick and threw up by the time he left, only an hour after arriving. The kids were obviously worn out as they did nothing but whine even while getting to see the inside of a local news hellicopter and some planes. When they went home they all took naps and I soon joined them.

That night we met up with Michelle, Brian, and their son Isaak at the brand new Chuck E Cheese at Chesapeake Square. All the kids had a great time and were very well behaved, it's a wonder what a quick nap can do. We closed the place down and didn't get back home until after 11 pm. Sunday we laid low as we always do. Yesterday my Mom, Maddy, and I went out to BJs and picked up the swing set. It's huge! I'm not sure I can build this by myself. Also at issue is where to put it. It needs a level area 17' X 13'. Level is the trick. Our backyard slopes down, but we think we won't need to dig down too far to level it off. I also have to go out and get some tools. I need a new power drill, a level, and some box wrenches plus we weant to get some of those rolls of picket fencing to keep the dogs out of the swing set area. Also on my plate is the fact that I had to drive an hour and fifteen minutes out to Virginia beach to drop off the Bissel PowerSteam Cleaner we just got for Christmas. The pump had to be replaced, luckily it was covered by the warranty, but the 2 hour roundtrip drive isn't! I'll need to go back out and get it tomorrow. 5 hours of driving for a steam cleaner!

To top everything off we are not getting the rain we should. It has hardly rained at all this spring. The upside is that it hasn't been too humid. but the lawn isn't as green as normal and it is wayyyyyy to BIG to water with a hose.

I've got a PACC meeting Wednesday night, but the weekend is clear to focus on getting the swing set up!

Posted by John at 10:45 AM
May 11, 2004
Weekend Update

I'm finding this a pretty good habit to summarize my week in one post.

This weekend actually began on Thursday with my mom arriving from Georgia to stay for a couple weeks to celebrate the kids birthday. My Saturday began early, at 7 a.m. I had to get up and drive an hour out to Mt. Trashmore in Virginia Beach for "May Day For Mutts" a nationwide event, our local celebration was thrown by K-9 New Life Center and hosted about 40 different animal welfare organizations. The weather was in the mid-60's which would have been nice had it not been for the wind. It was gusting pretty bad and since we didn't have tent stakes for our canopy we didn't have any shade to stand under. Other than the wind the event went well. PACC received a few applications for our Australian Shepherd puppies, but we still haven't found a home for Calypso, the dog Brie and I are fostering. George was once again the main attraction bringing people to our booth. He is the only Great Pyrenees I've seen since we moved here and seems to be the first one most people here have ever seen as well. We did raise some money and increase visablilty which is really what these events are all about.

Saturday was most importantly Keegan's 6th birthday. My Mom took us out to our favorite burger joint, Kelly's Tavern, for dinner. Once we got home Keegan wanted carrot cake so I got him that and we sang "Happy Birthday". Brie and I warned him over and over that there would be no video games for his birthday and Brie and I stayed true to our word. Instead we had planned on getting him a new mattress for his bed, but instead it now looks like we are going to combine forces with my mom to buy both Keegan and Maddy a huge Backyard Adventure swing set with fort for the backyard.

Sunday I made our favourite "Good Eats" pancakes with Turkey bacon and eggs. I had the kids make Brie "Mother's Day" cards, and I got my mom and Brie cards as well. After that we spent Sunday as we would any other, catching up with TiVo. I bought some great steaks which I marinated in Baja Chipotle sauce and then BBQ'd them along with some zuchinni and crook-neck squash all served with rice. It was a great meal if I do say so myself.

This week we have Sebastian's first IEP meeting since he has been re-evaluated by SECEP. He seems to be changing as the preliminary reports show his math skills coming back down while his vocabulary and reading skills are at 14 year old levels. I think the math is getting difficult because they have moved into visual math like having to draw parallelgrams, octagons, and pentagons etc. Visual math is not something he is good at. They have exactly one month left of school and I'm excited to have them home for the summer.

This weekend is yet another PACC event, this time it's the Franklin Community Day, which should be great as it's only 10 minutes away and it actually involves the community we live in. I'm also more than likely going to have to put together that huge Backyard Adventure play set.

Posted by John at 10:34 AM
May 05, 2004
Weekend Update 5/1-2

PACC_May_1_thmb.jpg

This week we had a sudden change of plans when PACC was invited to a fundraiser in Virginia Beach featuring a local radio personality who lived in a dog house from Friday at 7 p.m. until Sunday at 7 p.m. to raise money for local animal welfare programs. Overall it was a great time and I got to meet and talk to a lot of interesting people. We did manage to raise a little money too, though not a lot. We took George, Jackson, and our foster dog Calypso. George, of course, was the king of the event. People come out of the woodwork to meet George and he serves as a great way of getting PACC's message out. I actually want to get him a vest with the PACC logo on it so he can be a walking billboard for us at events.

After we were done there we went to another animal event, Petsmart's Adopt-a-thon. We went hoping to see MAGDRL, the Great Dane rescue we've become involved with. Jackson did put us in a situation when he decided he had to go pee, he must have gone for a full 30 seconds and it took me a whole role of paper towels to clean up. Unfortunately, by the time we got there MAGDRL was no longer there. We did get to meet an 8 month old Great Dane from the same breeder we got Jackson and Zoe from as well as a 8 week old black Great Dane puppy ... too cute!

Sunday, as is usual, was our day to sit back and relax and catch up with TiVo. We had about 3 hours of Good Eats to catch-up on. Other than that it was uneventful. A trip to WalMart was as exciting as it got.

This weekend is Keegan and Maddy's birthday. Saturday I have another PACC event, "May Day for Mutts", which promises to be huge. Sunday I'm going to take the whole family, including my Mom, out for a combo Birthday/Mother's Day dinner. On the 16th we will take the kids and a few friends to Chuck E. Cheese for their birthday party. Brie and I aren't getting the kids much, I think Keegan is getting a real mattress for his bed - I don't know what we are going to get Maddy. My mom is probably going to be buying them a swing set, so that would overshadow anything we could get anyway :)

Posted by John at 09:53 AM