Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wild Cherry Tree GONE

We had the most beautiful wild cherry tree in our back yard... had being the key word in that sentence. Where did it go? Well... a first in my life... lightning stuck on Saturday and this is what is left:

Daniel was peeking out the window when the strike hit. It was so powerful that it sent the top half of the tree sailing straight into the air.  When it came straight down, it lodged into the ground within inches of the trunk.   A huge section of the tree landed in our neighbors yard.  

Tomorrow, "Bob" will be here bright and early to clean up the mess and take down 2 other trees that have me a bit worried after this incident.   NEVER a dull moment around here.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ladies In Red

Today was the littles' last day of school.  They were excited as their year end program was today but also a bit sad as they had to say goodbye to their school mates for a few months.  After a few hugs and a few tears, we departed school for lunch and a little sunshine.  















My application does not work Abby... How about yours????


Monday, May 18, 2009

For You Mommy



I love watching Lilli learn the English language.  As a person who has learned other languages (over a long - very long- period of time) I am simply amazed at the ease at which she has become fluent in her second language and the rate at which she continues to build her massive  vocabulary.  

It is funny on occasions when she comes upon an object that she has not yet learned the correct name.  Funny how she puts other words together to "name" items that are new to her.  

My favorite 2 Lilli-isms of late include:

1)  Sleepy breath....   otherwise known to the native English speaker as the yawn.  I think sleepy breath might be a better name for it.  

2)  Squirrel nut... otherwise listed in Webster's Dictionary as the acorn.  Yet again, I think Lilli's choice is much more to the point.  

Conclusion (on a daily basis) ... Miss Lilli is pretty darn smart and would amaze most scholars studying the acquisition of new languages.  

It is NOT About Customer Service Anymore

Joe arrived yesterday... his bag did not. 

 This is like "Groundhog's Day" (the movie), as this exact thing happened when he visited in March.  

We were not that concerned at the airport as there were 2 more flights yesterday arriving from Dulles.  The "Customer Service" agent assured us that Joe's bag would be on the earliest of those two flights.  They would personally deliver (which in airline speak means send unaccompanied in a cab) within 4 hours of arrival. 

 Hmmmmmm... at 9pm last night, things were not looking too promising.  I called the airline and would you believe that somehow the bag did not make it on the afternoon flight... and had just missed the evening flight.  WOW the incompetence!  

Joe had a 4 hour layover in Dulles.  How come he made it to the flight, his duffel bag made it to the flight; however his suitcase could not find it's way to the flight???...  or any of the other flights yesterday... even with what we were told was multiple "Priority" messages sent to Dulles via computer and a personal phone call from our local airport "Customer Service Rep"???  

I worked for the airline industry in the late 8o's.  I went through very detailed training  in order to transform into not only a Flight Attendant, but the best CUSTOMER SERVICE person that existed in the universe.  It was all about service then.  The customers were always right... even if they were wrong.  We brought in world famous chefs to make the (free) airline food the best... hot towels .... the best seating... movies... snacks... etc etc etc.  It was all about which airline had the best customer service.  NOT anymore... when did this paradigm shift in the airline industry actually happen???

Taking care of the customer... remember those days?  WAKE UP people... they don't exist anymore.  

The airline, who I have called 3 times now since 9pm last night (all phone calls now being answered in Manila, Philippines... which infuriates me to begin with... American jobs being shipped overseas... disgraceful... that subject deserves a post all of it's own)  Any who... The bag is still nowhere.  Not in the system.  They tell me it is in Dulles.  But they can not 100% guarantee that.  They gladly put another PRIORITY rush alert on the bag; however it already missed the morning flight.  

Joe left home this morning (headed for an important meeting) in his traveling jeans (not smelling too pretty I might add) and a golf shirt that I just happen to have bought him (that I was going to return because it did not suit his fancy) and Joey's sweatshirt(yes... it is May here in the South and 40 degrees outside!!!) .  He was carrying my cute flower binder with a few sheets of loose leaf paper that Joey was able to scrounge up.  Everything was in his suitcase.  He was not so happy.   

Bottom line... they don't care.  After releasing all of my frustration on the airline folks... they just don't care.  They don't have a "manager" on duty to escalate the complaint.  You can send an email to a no name email address... that is probably not even read.  

Oh... and here is the "game" part of all of this.  Last night, when there was still a store open, the airline could not/would not authorize any money for replacing anything.  This morning when I called, (6am no stores open!!!) they gladly offered a $50 dollar check, which , in direct proportion to my anger, grew to $100 within about 10 minutes, and finally reached the maxed limit of $150 after I asked for a name and employee number.  Hmmmmmmmm.... anyone try and replace a military uniform... shoes and all for 150$.  Go the cheap route and just buy business attire for a day for $150?  In Manila, Philippines.... YES this would be possible... but NOT in the US.  

The bag... still no confirmation/guarantee where it is or when it will get here.  ARGHHHHHH.  
Am I this upset because I have such empathy for Joe without his things?  ... am I just mad at the system and how it has gone awry? 

  Or is the anger in me brewing because tucked inside that hard-sided suitcase - wrapped carefully in Joe's business suit and his uniform are 5 bottles of this:

Oh My goodness... you don't know what it is???  It is Australian Pink Ice Wine from Greystone Winery.  I don't really drink alcohol ... I like a margarita when I am chowing down on fajitas, but that is about it.  My drink of choice is coffee.  HOWEVER... when I tasted this Ice Wine (which was the first to be made out of purple grapes and is copyright protected or patented or something like that I was told by the wine maker himself) ... I can't even explain!  It is sooooooooooo sweet!  So yummy!  

While still in Canberra, I would drive into the "bush"... literally miles and miles outside of the city and more miles and miles down a dirt road through pastures and across rickety wooden hand made bridges to get to the winery in order to add a few bottles to my wine collection.   Even the girls liked the adventure as the winery trip was always fun for them... the owner had about a dozen jack russell terriers, a playground... and plenty of wide open space.   There were always snacks for the girls and for me... not to mention a taste or two of all the wonderful wines that the winery had produced.  Inevitably, I would purchase my few bottles and the owner would throw in an extra bottle just because.  

So I am thinking this.... The airline industry could learn a few things from the owner of a tiny little winery that sits out in the bush about an hour from the capital of Australia.  GREAT WINE... but even better CUSTOMER SERVICE!!!

Side note for Ellie... seriously, Ellie... if you have not tried this... next time you are in Canberra... Greystone Vineyard is a must!  

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Butterflies.... REALLY?

Is it possible, after 20 plus years, to still get butterflies?  I think YES.  Joe comes home Sunday for a visit and a little work locally, and I have butterflies.  Actually, it might be an upset stomach from the thought of how much housework I need to complete between now and Sunday... but I really think it is the good butterflies.  

July 12th, he is HOME for good.  

Sunday, May 10, 2009

More Holly

Holly is my "contest girl" - always has been.  She enters everything she can find.  Years ago in Jakarta, she entered a Disney Channel Asia contest... and SHE WON!  The Fed Ex truck pulled up to our apartment one afternoon and off loaded a ton of goodies!  There was even an Xbox and a boogie board and indoor golf set - along with tons more!  You can see the picture.  

She has won odds and ends here and there, enough to keep her going back for more!  

The latest competition entry she is working on is one promoted by teen book author, Sarah Dessen.  Holly has been working all day in hopes to win the prize ( lock and key necklace, USWIM t-shirt, signed advanced copy of a Sarah Dessen book)  on May 14th.  Very cool task I might add.  Holly had to take photos and match them with specific quotes from various Sarah Dessen books.  

You saw them above... I think she did really great!  I think she might win!  .... and don't worry if you don't understand the quotes... I don't... Holly said this was normal as I had not read the books.