Monday, December 29, 2008

Customer Service? Yeah Right....

So I ordered a little gift to be sent to Philadelphia. I've ordered from this particular company before and never had a problem. I paid an additional fee to have it delivered by December 26'th - just in time for some entertaining these friends were doing on the 27'th.

Imagine my surprise when I check the status of delivery and see that the package has NOT been delivered on the 26'th, due to an address error. Which, pretty much, was bullshit, since the same company sent a package using the same carrier last year to the same address, and the address was correct and it was delivered on time. ALSO, the carrier had the package ON THE TRUCK on the 26'th, and "corrected" the address and put it back out for delivery.

It was delivered today. So, I e-mailed the company, explained what happened, and here's the response I got:

CUSTOMER SERVICE REP: "Deborah, Thank you for your order to ____. We understand your frustration regarding the late delivery of your gift. Unfortunately Fedex has experienced severe weather conditions in various places around the country particularly in the Northwest. These delays are beyond anyone's control and is considered an act of nature. We do apologize for this issue and will gladly call the recipient of your gift and let them know what has happened and that the gift was intended to arrive before Christmas. Thank you."

DEBORAH: "Well I'm sorry to hear that Fed Ex experienced delivery delays due to weather conditions in the northwest, but this was a UPS delivery in Philadelphia, PA, (which, according to my map is in the northeast), where the weather was just fine, so that doesn't really apply in this situation. This especially doesn't fly with me given the fact that the package was on the truck for delivery on the 26'th of December and was deemed undeliverable due to an address error - which didn't exist. Apparently they corrected it - although I checked, and the recipient hadn't moved, so not sure how that "address" mix up occurred. The correct address was given and again, your company had delivered through UPS to this address before, with no problems. Since the package was on the truck on the east cost for delivery on the 26'th, I assume the weather on the west coast wasn't the problem. Additionally, if the package was on the truck on the 26'th and was "rescheduled" for delivery on the 27'th, why wasn't it delivered until the 29'th? Doesn't UPS work on the weekends?Your response isn't acceptable. Try Again."

I haven't heard back. They'll be hearing from me again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day. And the next day.....

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Not too many Hopkins'.....

The holidays never end at the Hopkins-Henry household!

Yesterday, we hosted the Hopkins side of the family for a little post holiday get together. Nothing too fancy, just an opportunity to visit, eat, drink and be merry.

Both the Ravens and the Redskins played. At the same time. Which really put a crimp in my plans, since my Aunt and I had specifically picked a 3:00 start time for the get together so that Brian could watch the Ravens at 1:00, and Uncle Bob could get here and get settled before the Redskins started at 4:00. Damn NFL screwed everything up by moving the Ravens game to the same start time! But, I didn't hear any yelling or fighting about which game they should watch so I suppose they reached a compromise.

Here's Liv, Brian, Lauren and Uncle Bob.

Aunt Dooie (DruAnn), Devin, Uncle Ted and Aunt Di

Mom and Aunt Dooie - So cute!

Father and son here. Devin lives down in D.C. and quite frankly I can't remember the last time I saw him. It's been a few years! As a matter of fact, it's been quite a while since I've seen any of the cousins. They are all quite a bit younger then Brandon and I. I can actually remember most of them being born.

Seth and his mom. Isn't he the cutest? I got to talk to him a bit yesterday and he's a really great guy.

I love this picture of mom and dad.

Heh heh - Aunt Diane trying to decide if she really wants to be associated with these two.

"Yeah, OK. I'll claim them as my family."

Someone grabbed my camera - I don't know who. But here I am stuffing my face.

I didn't get a really good picture of Lauren - I don't know why. Perhaps because she's young, gorgeous, built like a Barbie doll and incredibly intelligent and really, who needs to see that? Whatever.

I actually can't believe I don't have a better picture of her. She's just the most gorgeous thing and she's so smart. She's going to do great things!

Oh look - I'm eating again. Imagine that.

Why does everyone end up in the kitchen? I even laid out all the food in the dining room, so we would have more room!

It was a good evening and I had a great time. We were missing one branch of the family, but we'll make sure they can make it next year.
We now have a few days with no company. Brian's birthday is New Years Eve, so we'll enjoy a quiet evening home with the girls before the company starts coming in on January 2'nd.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


When Judi and Ted lived here they had a beautiful stained glass door that hung on a track and would slide from the brick to cover the doorway between the breakfast room and the family room. I wish I had a picture of it - it was stunning!! Of course, they took it with them and now it's been hung in their new kitchen and is still as gorgeous ever.

Anyhoo - earlier this year we remodeled an old building to move into at work and there were a lot of old doors that were to be thrown away. Imagine my excitement when I found a wooden, 15-pane door that was the perfect width and height for that particular spot (it's a rather narrow doorway).

I brought the door home and Brian looked at me like I was crazy.

"That's going to be a pain in the ass honey. It'd be easier to buy a new door."

"But this one is free and all it needs is a little TLC."

And so, the door was propped up against a wall in the basement, where it sat. And sat. AND sat.

Until one day in early December when Brian suddenly decided that it was time to work on the door. Several layers of paint was stripped, underneath of which were several layers of varnish and polyurethane.

Brian worked so hard on that door. He spent hours and hours using the smallest of attachments on his Dremel tool to sand down each and every little teeny tiny crevice on each and every tiny little window frame.

We finally finished it last night. It's nothing compared to the door that hung there when Judi & Ted lived here, but it'll do!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Revisited

Just as a warning, this will be a LOOOONG post - but it's chock full of pictures, so hopefully that will be entertaining!

Brian's parents came to celebrate with us on Christmas Eve. The girls opened their gifts and then we had a late lunch/early dinner together. I made ham (which I don't eat), asparagus (yuck), green bean casserole and potatoes. Basically I had veggies for dinner. Brian doesn't get ham or asparagus very often, so I figured,
"Eh - it's Christmas. I'll make some of his favorites for dinner".

The Henrys
The rule at our house is, if you want to see us on Christmas, you have to come to us. We don't travel. I am not dragging my kids anywhere after giving them a bunch of really cool new toys. Cuz, that's just cruel.
And from 6 pm on Christmas Eve to at least noon on Christmas Day, the rule is:
"No one in, no one out"
Those few hours of Christmas are ours alone. It's the best part of the holiday.

Our new personalized holiday cups!
Brian and I had coffee and the girls had hot chocolate in them.

Sydney started feeling yucky on Christmas Eve.
Poor thing was sick the whole time (and still is). She was such a trooper though.

Christmas Jammies!
I always buy new jammies for them. They are allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve. When I handed them both their Christmas Eve gifts, Liv looked at the wrapped box and said
"Oh. Right. Our Christmas Jammies"
So much for tradition! Sheesh!
And then we had to lay out the cookies and milk for Santa on the special Santa dishes.

And who can forget the reindeer?
Liv wanted the carrots in the shape of a tree..
It's a little.... strange looking, but whatever.

And she thought the reindeer might like some ranch dressing to go with them. I told her I wasn't too sure Santa would let them eat the ranch dressing, since it might give the reindeer gas and he'd be sitting behind them all night long, but she insisted.
And she made it in the shape of a snowman.

We laid them on the hearth and the girls went to bed. The girls sleep together every Christmas Eve and after the standard warning not to go downstairs until they woke us up in the morning, they were off to dreamland.
Forget sugarplums - they were dreaming of expensive electronics and unattainable items.
Like horses.
And cellphones.
Yeah - RIGHT!!

And then it was time to get down to business.
Santa left a note, of course...

....and the presents were loaded in.

The stockings were stuffed and hung back up -
in the wrong order as Liv pointed out in the morning.
Jeez Santa, get your act together!
(In Santa's defense, it was late, Santa had a few drinks and hadn't really eaten anything of substance in a few hours - except vegetables) favorite part of the evening. Snuggling with my honey and looking at the tree.....

Tulips Brian brought to me on Christmas Eve.

And, quite possibly, the first flowers he's given me in years.
Chauncey trying to figure out what the hell is going on in his house!

I woke at about 6 a.m., heard nothing and rolled back over.
I woke again at 7 a.m. to a little face with dark hair and blue eyes next to me.
"Merry Christmas Mommy!!!"
The girls woke up at 6:15, but Liv told Sydney that it was too early to wake us up, so they snuggled back down in bed and read books until Liv made the executive decision that 7 a.m. was a more appropriate time to wake us up.
I have the best kids in the world.

Liv's first words as she walked downstairs and saw all the presents?

"Whoa - We're gonna need a bigger tree!"
(can you hear the "DUN-DUN-DUN-DUN" in the background? Quite possibly my favorite line in any movie EVER)

And the chaos begins!!

The girls each got their own video cameras. (Toys R Us online on Thanksgiving Day - quite possibly the best day to purchase anything. You wouldn't believe how discounted these were - which is why I got two of them)

Santa left the family a Wii (Santa is THE MAN!), and the girls got about a bazillion crafts to keep them busy for the next ten days while they are home from school.

Liv announced to all of us that clearly Mommy wrote all the tags on the gifts, since the handwriting looked strangely similar to mine.
Case in point? Both Santa and I write the letter "S" the same way.
We quickly distracted her with a pretty package so Sydney didn't figure out what she was saying.....

After the girls played for awhile, we all put on our slippers and trekked down the hill to Mimi and Poppy's.

If at all possible - the girls walked away with twice as much from their house.

The favorite gifts of the year?
The pooping, peeing, talking baby doll for Sydney.

Say it with me now "LOVELY!"
And now I have another mouth to feed since I do believe they stuffed that baby so full of food just to watch it come back out the other side, that I will have to go get some more!
A sewing machine for Olivia with a sewing kit full of scissors, thread and material.

Um, I have no idea how sewing machines work ...
(I don't even sew buttons -seriously)
But, Mimi has promised to show her how to use it.
A robot from Bunkabee - quite possibly the coolest thing ever.

Mom got the mother of all karaoke machines...

Liv showing off her nail art.

And Sydney - who pooped out at about 1:00. And slept, ran a fever, coughed, slept, etc....

Olivia - kicking butt at bowling on the Wii. And she's a boxing champion. She beat her dad, Brandon, Poppy and me. Several times. She said her arms are tired today! She was amazing though. None of us could bring her down!

Oh yes, I hosted Christmas dinner.

Our Christmas tree - it has our name on it and the jewels are all of our birthstones.

Mom and dad got me a new digital camera!!! It's very little and takes fantastic pictures - I played with it all day. I love my Rebel, but is it portable? Not so much.....this one fits in the palm of my hand - Woo hoo!!!
Here I am at about 2:00, getting everything ready for dinner at 5:00. Don't I look perky?

Heh heh - Just wait....
Here we are goofing with the new camera. Love it!!

And now I'm getting tired.....

And Sydney's fading fast.....

Liv making goofy faces.

Sydney & I trying to outdo her.

Dinner is served! The Menu?
Beef Tenderloin with herbed horseradish sauce
Fresh Asparagus
Spinach Casserole
Sweet Potato Souflee
Homemade Baked Macaroni
Mussels in a white wine and garlic sauce
Steamed Clams
Chocolate Mousse Pie
Homemade Peanut Butter Pie

Aunt Mil, Mom, Olivia, Brian, Sydney, Brandon and Dad

After dinner, we all went realxed in the family room, drinking wine, playing Wii and checking out all the toys.

Bradon playing with the robot he got for "the girls". Ahem.

It dances, talks, walks, picks things up - it's super cool!

Still playing with the robot.
And now it's headed my way, beeping, whistling and dancing all the way!

The ladies - playing cards....

Forgive all the strange lighting - I was trying out all the different functions of the camera. I must have played with it for hours. I'm such a geek.

And here I am at about 11:00 p.m., after cleaning up the kitchen for the ten thousandth time. I have completely given up on my hair at this point and my makeup has long since been rubbed off my eyes and face. I'm so tired I can barely see straight!

Nah - it wasn't that bad. I love this stuff!