Friday, December 31, 2010

LO as Mary

I fully realize it's New Year's Eve and I should be posting a synopsis of what life brought our way in 2010, a profound list of all I learned during the past year or at best maybe a list of resolutions for the new year ahead of us. But I'm just not in the mood for that right now (maybe tomorrow).

Instead, I'll give you a little clip of LO from earlier this evening when we were playing "dress up" in her room. Here, LO tells the story of Baby Jesus, sort of...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Absurdly Long Post About the Pampered Chef Gift Certificates

Once upon a time, my family asked what I wanted for Christmas (as they do every year). It was a short list this time -- basically The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook and ol' Buddy's Cake Boss book with recipes and stories about his famiglia. To round out the list, I added Pampered Chef gift certificates, because truly, there's always something PC that I absolutely must add to my collection.

Christmas Eve. The gifts are being opened (with the in-laws). I am ever so grateful and blessed to find both of my coveted cookbooks, along with two PC gift certificates, just for me. I am ecstatic, of course, and remember telling my dear MIL and SIL that those gift certificates would most likely be spent that very night. Online. I already had the item(s) I desired in my online shopping cart. It was only a matter of time. They would be spent. Immediately.

Fast-forward to later that evening. I'm online. At the Pampered Chef website. Fine-tuning my shopping cart. Ready to place my order and redeem my gift certificates. I proceed to check-out and... wait a second... where in the world do I enter my gift certificate numbers? Hmmm... this is strange!

After what seemed like hours of deliberation, I was at my last resort. I Googled "How to use a Pampered Chef gift certificate." I'm somewhat ashamed to even admit that. Moving on... I found that apparently, you don't just go to the website, add stuff to your cart, then checkout and enter a gift certificate number as your payment method. You know, like Every. Other. Website. On. The. Planet.

That's how I started out. Thinking I was doing the right thing, of course...

Easy enough, right?


This is Pampered Chef, people! There's a super cool, fun, and easy way to do it! Check it out!

Step 1: Go to their website and choose "SHOP ONLINE." Duh.

Step 2: Scroll waaaaaaaaaaaaaay down to the bottom of the products list and choose "Gift Certificates." You know, like you're wanting to PURCHASE a gift certificate. 'Cause that's what we're trying to do. Riiiiiiight.

Step 3: Now, just choose "Redeem Gift Certificates" because, really, that's what you're wanting to do, right? Right. This is easy as pie, folks, huh? So glad you're along for the ride.

Now, you'd think that up next is some cool feature where you just plug in your gift certificate numbers and it puts a nice credit of some sort on your account. Right?


Now that you already shopped the website, selected your products, added them to your shopping bag, then went back and had to go through the process to apply gift certificates to your account, then guess what you get to do?

Step 4: Use a combination of your spidey senses and photographic memory to schlep out the item numbers for the products you'd like to order. Yes, you read that right. See?

No, there's no more shopping to be done. No online catalog with pretty pictures and descriptions. Just empty boxes on a web form asking for 4-digit item numbers. THIS, my friends, is how you shop Pampered Chef with a gift certificate.

But wait, the ride's not over quite yet! See, while my sister-in-law purchased my gift certificate though the Pampered Chef's website and it was all official-looking and what-not with an actual however-many-digit certificate number on it, my mother-in-law (bless her heart) bought one from a friend at work whose daughter-in-law happened to be a PC consultant. Good enough! Makes sense to me, right?


Apparently little miss consultant decided to give my mother-in-law some kind of gift certificate she's conjured up with her little computer in Microsoft Word or Publisher (gasp!) or what-have-you, so there was no official Pampered Chef anything on this little piece of paper. I'll show you.

See? I'm pretty sure Mr. One-Eyed Christmas-Gift-Carrier clip art is NOT standard Pampered Chef marketing protocol. And the "Number" that little miss consultant provided? Her phone number. Or her dry cleaner's phone number. I dunno. But not, my friends, a Pampered Chef gift certificate number. That'd be too easy, of course.

So the story gets even better. I thought maybe I'd go ahead and use my SIL's gift certificate since it had an official number that could be accepted online. But there's a twist. I hosted a Pampered Chef party last month. That means I'm entitled to a 10% discount off ALL of my purchases for ONE YEAR.


But wait... oh, when I try to order with a gift certificate, there's nowhere for me to put my host number for my discount.


Will it ever end?

Obviously I knew the Pampered Chef home office would be closed on Christmas Eve. And Christmas Day. And most likely the day after Christmas since that was a Sunday. But Monday morning, I tried to call to inquire about this fiasco I was experiencing.

Got a recording stating they were closed, but their regular office hours are Monday through Friday, 9AM til... Ya, it was a Monday on which I was calling, but I guess they were still closed for the holidays. Although their message didn't mention as such. Nor did it say when they would be opening back up. Score.

I called again Tuesday morning. I spoke to a super-rude and useless lovely service rep who was probably more confused than I was. She put me on hold to look into the debacle, then came back on saying -- get this -- you cannot use your 10% host discount when paying with a gift certificate. 


You've GOT to be kidding me. What difference should it make how I'm paying? I'm eligible for a 10% discount for ONE YEAR. It never said, "as long as you don't pay with a gift certificate." I of course immediately asked to be transferred to a supervisor.

The supervisor told me the same thing. I was/am shocked to my core. This is completely unbelievable.

So the supervisor offered to void my gift certificates and send a check made payable to me instead. So basically, I could either use the money to buy PC stuff or to buy some replacement pads for my Monster steamer. They wouldn't care.

Okay, cool. Let's go with that. At least that way I could order my products, use my discount and get my new stuff!

It was easy as pie for her to void out my SIL's gift certificate and get a check in the mail to me. But the lovely one from little miss consultant? The home office had NO IDEA what this lady had done or why they had no record of the purchase in their fancy computer system. They had me scan the certificate and email it to them. They said things like "reprimand" and "not the way we do things" and stuff of that nature. They were going to call little miss consultant and get this straightened out for me at once.

Until they called me back a few hours later. Then proceeded to tell me I would need to contact little miss consultant and work out some arrangement with her. Sure. This consultant who lives 700 miles away from me whom I've never met (and whom my MIL hadn't met, either). Lovely.

Now here's where I made the best move ever: I told my MIL about the situation. Would you believe in a matter of hours, my MIL had contacted her friend and informed her she would be returning the worthless gift certificate and would expect a full refund. Then my sweet MIL would just send me a check for the amount instead of having to deal with the headache. Have I mentioned how much I love my MIL? I truly do, and not just for her amazing ability to right wrongs!

So earlier today, I finally placed my order. A new 8" saute' pan and some measuring cups. That's it. That's all I was after. I never could have imagined a scenario quite like this would unfold. At least I've learned a lesson: never buy or request a Pampered Chef gift certificate.


Oh, the Stickers...

So LO got Toy Story 3 Connect 4 for Christmas and of course she wanted to bust it out and play soon after opening it. I knew there'd be some slight assembly to put the yellow part together, but I was not at all expecting this:

The pieces. Nicely colored to differentiate between the 21 Buzz (blue) and the 21 Woody (red) pieces, huh?

Then I saw these. Oh, wow.

Forty-two pieces, front and back, equals 84 stickers to apply. Finally, 30 minutes later, we're ready to play!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


A few days before Christmas, hubs and I decided to make an unusual purchase. A Euroflex Monster Floor Steam Cleaner EZ1.

Unusual, right?

Honestly, I had never heard of steam mops until I saw an infomercial a few months ago. It was awesome. It talked about not only cleaning the floors, but sanitizing the floors. Talk about making a mom's heart skip a beat! I was intrigued, but never really did anything about it (other priorities in life, I guess).

As I started going through my top-to-bottom house cleaning ritual as I always do before having company over (yes, my in-laws are still categorized as "company" that I need/try to impress!), I thought about the floors. I dread cleaning the floors. It typically starts with sweeping the tile in the kitchen, the hardwoods in the living room and the linoleum ((gag)) in the bathrooms. For a "quick" version of clean, I bust out the Swiffer WetJet and go to town. My biggest complaint is the idea of sweeping a wet, dirty pad over my floors, masking the dirt with a misleading scent of "Lavender Vanilla & Comfort" (whatever that means), coupled with the pain in my back from bending over the short little handle (I swear it was designed for a child to clean with... there's a thought for another post). Needless to say, this was not the most fun nor successful endeavor.

Now, if I wanted the floors really clean, enter: a mop, scrub brush and a bucket o' bleach water. This entails the good ol' Cinderella-style cleaning on hands and knees. Surprisingly not my favorite thing to do, either. And the thought of leaving behind a little film of bleachiness where my little boy crawls on his hands and knees, well, doesn't make this mommy very happy.

SO, all that to say that there's been a certain element missing in my floor care routine for far too long, yet I never knew exactly what it was.

Until now. Er, I guess until about a week ago, actually.

Enter the steam mop.

Ain't she a beut?

I spent literally hours pouring over the Internet, reading reviews, checking with the gurus at Consumer Reports and pretty much anything else I could think of to help me in making my decision. Lots and lots of reading and lots and lots of research. In the end, I found a guy on Amazon who had reviewed 5 or 6 steam mops and provided a waaaaay too detailed review of the pros and cons of each. Almost solely based off his review (and the fact that this unit heats the water to the hottest temp of any other on the market -- 266ºF!), I landed on the Euroflex Monster Floor Steam Cleaner EZ1.

And, because I'm one impatient lil' floor cleaner, I selected next-day shipping. You know, for a whopping $3.99 (THANK YOU, Amazon Prime!). I was elated when it arrived less than 24 hours later.

With my company (read: in-laws) arriving the next day for Christmas Eve, I had quite a list of to-do's to ready the house for their arrival. But nothing could stop me from busting open that box so I could get steaming!! It literally took seconds to put it together (i.e. "insert pole here") and within 5 minutes, it was heating up in the kitchen, ready to go to town on our tile floor (yes, I had swept earlier in anticipation of its arrival).

So long story short? I. Love. This. Thing. It is easier than the Swiffer, cleans more crap off the floor than the Swiffer, and doesn't leave a yucky, sticky film on my floor like the Swiffer (or bleach). The fact that it uses no chemicals is fabulous (not to mention green), but that it not only cleans and steams, but sanitizes?? Come on. It's a no-brainer for me!

The best part is it comes with 2 microfiber floor pads that are machine washable, plus a special pad and attachment that allow you to use the steamer on the carpet! I haven't tried it yet, but I'm very excited about the possibilities!

It goes without saying that the folks at Euroflex haven't asked me to write a glowing review on their floor steamer, and they certainly aren't sending me a check in the mail. This is just my honest opinion of my experience with this product that I happened to think just maybe one of you might be interested in reading about! And for the record, the Monster was under $90 from Amazon. Worth every penny!

Monday, December 27, 2010


Chase and his new bean bag. And a cookie. And a cup of juice. While watching TV. This is parenting at its finest, folks.

Like father, like son. Chase has a crazy affection for all things laptop. I will say that he prefers my MacBook over daddy's smelly ol' ThinkPad, though. ;)

A little snow? Yes, please! LO had a blast playing in the snow with daddy Sunday afternoon.

She's so beautiful!

Daddy asked her to pretend to throw a snowball at mommy. She must not've heard the "pretend" part...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy 14 Months!

Happy 14 Month Birthday to mommy's sweet little monkey!

You're getting so big!

And so full of life!

And as much as I LOVE these far-too-rare snuggle moments with you, I sure wish you felt better today.

My poor baby! Look at those pitiful eyes! Hopefully a good night's sleep will have you back to your normal, playful self!

Mommy (and Daddy and Big Sis) LOVE YOU, sweet boy!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Fun!

Some good ol' Christmas fun! What a wonderful day it has been already... and there's still much more fun in store!

Cookies (snowmen, mittens and of course, trains) and CHOCOLATE milk for Santa, and some carrots for Rudolph.

Chase's new xylophone!

Yes, a 24 pack of Play-Doh!

Toy Story 3!!!

The one thing she kept asking about after seeing the new train table she asked Santa for... Hiro, the train!

She was REALLY happy to see Hiro!


Before the unwrapping began...

Chase's stash!

LO's stash!

Yes, she loves dinosaurs... ;)

Emptying out her stocking.

Christmas morning!

My little cutie!

Not the greatest pic (iPhone doesn't capture fast-moving 1-year-olds very well), but still such a cutie!

Chase loves his new sock monkey! His wonderful Aunt D made it just for him! So very sweet!

Opening her... Fire Truck!

New Christmas pajamas complete with... you guessed it! A monkey on 'em!

Christmas Eve gift opening chaos!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

500th Post!

Um, wow. So this is my 500th post, people! Seems like only yesterday I was complaining about a steak I had ordered at a local restaurant! I started blogging when LO was 11 months old. She'll be 3 1/2 in January! Since then, she's had her 1st, 2nd and 3rd birthdays, I gave birth to the most wonderful little boy in the world, became a parent "expert" in HLHS, put my son through 2 heart surgeries and 1 heart cath, celebrated that amazing boy's 1st birthday, had 2 birthdays of my own and celebrated my 5th wedding anniversary with hubs! Not to mention all of the "regularly scheduled" holidays mixed in. All in all, it's been a crazy-busy-fun time and I'm so glad so many of you have been along for the ride!

I think one of my favorite things about blogging is the simple fact that I can go back in time and relive events that I've posted about on here. It's so much quicker and easier than an actual scrapbook or journal! Another favorite thing is all of the people I've "met" and become friends with, especially in the heart community. I'm so glad I have this outlet to share my thoughts, feelings, frustrations, joys and everything in between with people who truly care about my family and I, who reach out to support us even though many of whom have never even met me in real life! I cannot thank all of you enough for being with me over the past 2 1/2 years, encouraging me, laughing with me, getting angry at Toyota and Apple with me... the list goes on and on! It means so much to have the support and encouragement of people who truly understand the world we're living in and the joys and struggles we see each and every day.

Well it seems I don't have anything overly profound to share with this 500th post of mine. So I guess I'll just make the most of it by saying THANK YOU to my loyal readers and friends. Here's to 500 more!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes!

Christmas 2009... LO was almost 2 1/2 and Chase was 2 months old!

Christmas 2010... LO is almost 3 1/2 and Chase is 14 months old. Not sure how old Santa is. ;)

For the record, I totally love this classic photo. LO smiling happily and Chase flipping out in a major way. The photographer kept trying to get Chase to smile, had me pick him up, give him a paci, etc. to calm him down so we could get a good pic. Finally, I asked if I could please just get one of those "classic" Santa pics, then threw Chase on Santa's lap and jumped out of the way. I'm not sure what happened when he hit the 1-year-old mark, but man is he ever moody! Most days he's all smiles if he so much as even thinks there's a camera in the room. Now there's just no telling what will flip his switch!

I'm so very happy and so very blessed to see my beautiful children together and to have the joy of celebrating the Christmas season with my wonderful family! God has been so good to us and we are truly grateful for His hand on our lives.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Roller Skating!

Hubs had a vacation day today so we decided to put it to good use by taking LO roller skating for the first time ever! It was wonderful because the place wasn't very busy and because we were only there for about an hour before LO decided she was done. All in all, it was a fun family trip with some great memories we'll remember forever!

On the way to the roller rink! We just told her we were heading out for a fun surprise but didn't give details...

Getting her skates laced up! She's really excited!

She made it around with mommy once, then said she was done. Then said she wanted to go again. This went on the whole time!

Flying solo! She only held my hand the first time around the rink. The rest of the time she was doing it by herself! BIG GIRL!

Yes, there was the occasional wipe-out. This was the worst of 'em. Over and done with in about 30 seconds flat, though. Whew!

She had a lot of fun and looks forward to getting bigger and going faster and also teaching Chase how to skate when he gets bigger. :)
Speaking of Chase, this little guy behaved wonderfully and even had mommy carry him around the rink a few times. He loved it!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I finally sent the Christmas cards out earlier this week, so I wanted to share some of the photos I took of the kids. What a fun event that was!

LO was all smiles!

I love this cutie!

Another cute pic of my boy!

Yes, two seconds after this pic he tried to eat the ornament...

This cracks me up! Chase was so over having his picture taken.

Seriously. What is the caption for this shot? Hilarious!

Chase was ready to go!

This boy is full of crazy expressions!

Both of 'em smiling crazy but not at the camera!

I know what Chase is thinking: "Get her away from me!"

My little cuties!
The Christmas card of 2010. Love it! :)