What’s it like to be a parent? (a.k.a. The Great Christmas Tree Shenanigans of 2019) 🎄


If you want to know what it’s like to be a parent, let me give you some insight.

Tonight we were putting up the Christmas tree. It is old & the top 3rd didn’t all completely light up last year. I did sort of attempt to fix the problem to no avail. Again this year with a replacement bulb to no avail.

Because the kids were excited, we continued to decorate. About 95% done, I remarked aloud (my mistake?) that we should get a new tree. So, everyone got out of their PJ’s into regular clothes and we ended up going to Home Depot. Excitement was off the charts.

At Home Depot, there were a bunch of great trees for all kinds of price ranges. All four of us finally settled on a tree that we liked. (It’s really cool… pre-lit, and can be all white or different colors!)

Looking for the tree on the shelf, of course they didn’t have one. Neither did any of the other local stores. We bought the floor model for a slight discount but the caveat was that there was no box.

The kids managed to bounce around the store with Christmas Spirit like Will Ferrell in Elf while sort of processing that this was the only tree if we wanted that tree.

Us purchasing the tree from the floor was apparently the most exciting thing we have ever done and we (well, half of us) danced to the checkout with 3 shopping carts in tow… the useless race car one because we can never not get it, and two regular orange carts, one with 2/3 of a tree and one with the remaining 1/3 & stand.

I had wanted to get a rubbermaid tote for it, but the ants in our pants had grown great in their numbers and were humming the chorus to “Ode to Joy.” We checked out and came home with the plan that we could continue the tree decoration process tomorrow.

So of course, once in the house, we promptly assembled & started to decorate the new tree while un-decorating the old tree. Oh the excitement was uncontainable!

Being that garbage collection was pushed back a day due to Thanksgiving, I wanted to put the old tree on the curb.

I told the kids to say goodbye to the old tree and Ian looked like I just told him we were going to skin and eat Butterscotch (our cat) after roasting her over an open flame. Once the crocodile tear rolled down his cheek, it set Molly into big sister sympathy tears mode.

We had talked before about getting a second tree for the dining room because it looks nice in that window from outside.

Guess who is going to try harder to fix that Christmas tree because he is a sucker for recently overjoyed and now crying children?

I’m glad they’re sensitive and sentimental, but wow.

Teal Pumpkins Are Not a Political Issue.


Never read the comments.

I wish I could follow that advice. Wading through the temperamental pool that is social media, one occasionally finds a bright spot in a news story. I thought I found that with an article posted by a local news channel notifying those that aren’t already in the know about the significance of teal pumpkins.  It subtly linked to this cool little video:

Simple enough, right?

It’s a brief article explaining the significance and the history of the Teal Pumpkin Project.  If you go through to the FARE website, you an even get free activities and advice for non-food treats.  We have participated since 2014, and I have written about it before.

View this post on Instagram

#HappyHalloween! #TealPumpkinProject #StaySafe!

A post shared by Eric Carroll (@aixelsyd13) on

Then, I read the comments.

Some people are garbage.  I mean, I know that is harsh, and I know what we are supposed to be kind to everyone, but that can be a struggle when people out themselves as disgusting human beings.  Did these people not ever watch Mister Rogers?

I think this is why they are teaching kids these days to “Be The I in Kind” or to Be the kind kid.  They’re not going to pick it up at home if these are the mentoring adults.

REALLY.

 

I had a few replies that still stand.

To some nut job making this political:

Just so I can understand, how do any of the following (totally optional) things ruin your holiday, and just exactly how are they associated with liberals?

1. Putting out a symbol to indicate that your house is safe for food allergies.

2. Providing nut and/or gluten free treats, and maybe even non-food treats in addition to whatever you normally provide.

3. Displaying compassion and empathy to others already afflicted with a life-altering medical condition.

4. Teaching others by example how to be kind to others.

I never did get a direct reply there.

To the uniformed, absolutely resisting this new information:

No one is forcing you to buy a teal pumpkin or to pass out allergen safe treats. The article is just to inform you of the meaning so you don’t buy one as a decoration just because it matches your cold frozen emotionless heart.

Just some more advice:

We have been doing this for years. Having food allergies myself, dining out, social gatherings, and many events can be a harrowing experience.

We have 3 separate bowls… traditional things like Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, nut-free stuff like Smarties, and a bowl of totally non-food treats like pencils, stickers, little toys, etc.

We help spread awareness, the toys go as well as the candy, and hopefully we teach a bit of kindness and empathy.

I don’t even have the energy to get into the “it’s been a tradition for hundreds of years” comment.  I think candy and trick or treating weren’t a thing until about the 1920’s in the United States… so that’s ONE hundred years ago at best.  The push for chocolate was after WWII’s rationing… So, kick it back to 70 or so years.  Earlier Celtic/Samhain traditions probably didn’t involve candy, but what do I know?

So please, this year, show a little compassion, empathy, and kindness.  Pass the word along to your friends, family, and neighbors.  You don’t have to preach about it, but you can lead by example.  Also, learn to recognize the signs of an allergic reaction for yourself, your friends, and your community.  You may help save someone’s life!  That is, if it doesn’t inconvenience you in any way or support the grand liberal agenda.

 

 

 

Watch “🍀 Swingset Shenanigans – Sat. 2017/08/06 🎪” on YouTube


I think I made this a draft, & forgot to post it…  I got some video of the kids having a blast on the Swingset, and played around with the YouTube video editor before it disappears.

Wait. What? (The Bob Evans saga continues.)


I never emailed these names.  Seriously.  Someone must have sent Jon the text of my blog, or a link to my blog.  My original email contained the names which I then changed to something I thought would be ridiculous and obvious, so I didn’t accidentally call out another real employee.

Am I being trolled?

On Thursday, November 19, 2015 8:54 PM, “0503, BER” <Unit_503@bobevans.com> wrote:

Hello,

                I am following up on a bad review that we had charge to our store.  I was hoping to get some more information, as we believed our location received this review in error.  We don’t have servers by either name mentioned in the review (Maleficient and Lincoln), and would like to find out which store you were actually at.  Then we can send this along to them, so that they can address these issues.  Thank you for your time.

Jon Herrmann
General Manager
Bob Evans #503
Bridgeville, PA
(412) 257-1369

Shenanigans. ☘

I wrote back.  Nothing interesting besides pointing out that I never sent those names in an email.

I also got an email from LeAnn confirming our Dormont address, so I passed along the new one.  I wonder if I’ll get a T-shirt?

If it’s gift certificates, does anyone know of a charity that accepts them or of a family in need?

Maybe they’re sending someone to dispatch of me.  Maybe I should ask King’s to weigh in?

This still makes me laugh uncontrollably:

YOU GET A CRAYON!

Smiling & coloring rule.

I did get a really insightful comment on the last post though. Doesn’t seem like it’s gone down that way so far.

 

All we wanted were some crayons.


So, this past Saturday night we had an interesting experience at the local Bob Evans.  I have blogged about one of our experiences with an angry server there before, but haven’t touched upon the 3 or 4 other times that “the kitchen held up the order” while she talked to other customers at great length about slot machines at the Meadows, or the time that she rolled her eyes at me while the wife and I were discussing the seasonal shrimp on the menu in regards to where it was cooked and my allergy.  This time we were most likely doubly annoying as we had two small children with us.  The saga begins…

From: Eric Carroll <me@my.email.addre.ss>
To: Leann D. Purdy, Nathaniel A. Riggs, BE-mail

Hello Leann and Nate,

I hope this message finds you well, and that you’re both still with the Bob Evans team!  You may remember that I had contacted you in the past about the #jelly3x rule and a bad experience at the Bob Evans in Bridgeville Pennsylvania, and blogged about that alongside your enthusiastic response, and even more thorough follow-up.

We have since had a few other experiences with that waitress, including one where she rolled her eyes at me and said “well, you don’t have to order it” when I was discussing the shrimp stir-fry available seasonally.  Clearly, she has absolutely no grasp of cross-contamination.  The running theme with her seems to be that the kitchen is always late & to blame with any service issues.

Being that we have generally excellent food & service at the Bridgeville location, and it’s now even closer to home since we have moved to Bridgeville, we have gone in to dine and simply requested with the host or hostess to not be seated in her section.

Sadly this weekend, we didn’t spot her upon our arrival and did not inform the hostess of our preference.  We were quickly welcomed by the hostess, seated in her section and decided to go with it as it had been a while since we had Maleficent as our server.

Nowadays, we have a 2½ year old and a 7 month old in tow.  Bob Evans is a great place to get a full meal for a family without breaking the bank, yet another notch in the proverbial “pro’s” column.  (I mean, have you spent the same amount of money at Panera or Steak n’ Shake? It’s not even half of the food.  Maybe local heroes Eat’n Park can almost compete.)

Maleficent quickly came to the table and took our drink orders.  Our eldest ordered apple juice, I asked for an iced tea, and the wife went for water.  Our drinks were brought quickly and our waitress shot a nasty look to the table beside us as the hostess sat another family with 3 older children as she set our drinks down.  She came back a bit later to take our food order and my wife politely asked for straws which we didn’t get with our drinks and some crayons that weren’t included with our kid’s meal place-mat menu.

Maleficent Immediately huffed as she slammed down the straws and remarked that she didn’t have time to get crayons because she just had two other tables seated in her section.  We were only wanting crayons because it had taken her a while to come back and take our food order, well before anyone else had been seated in our section.

I forget exactly what the exchange was that followed.  I know my wife had mentioned that we had had several problems in the past with her service. I was pretty much shocked into jaw-agape silence at that point.  My wife ended with standing up to go speak to the manager, and Maleficent yelled (yes, yelled) “Lincoln, take tables 54 and 56!” or something to that effect.

After my wife came back from a conversation with the manager, one of the aforementioned customers beside us said “Wow. I can’t believe she told you no on the crayons.”  We gave the super-condensed version of our history with Maleficent as they continued in their wide-eyed disbelief.

Maleficent continued to serve that family, but we and another nearby table had been reassigned to a young man named Lincoln (Linkin?), on either Maleficent or the manager’s authority.  I wasn’t present for my wife’s conversation with the manager, but it was apparently full of knowing nods and angry head-shakes as she regaled the manager with tales of our past adventures with Maleficent.  I do know that my wife apparently characterized me as a madman about to lose all patience to bolster her point.  Perhaps that’s why the manager never came to the table to offer either an apology or an explanation.

Now, reading back on this, the story so far does sound like we are being absolutely ridiculous over the exclusion of two crayons for the amusement of our child who’s behavior, rearing, and amusement are wholly our responsibility.  Do you also see how the past history and an apparently poor attitude towards customers and a potential tip factor into this moment?  It must have been some serious shenanigans in order for the next table to notice.

The lesson I have learned is that we will keep crayons and a coloring book in our family vehicle for just such a purpose.  It is not Bob Evans’ responsibility to develop my child’s creativity and fine motor skills, nor to provide a means to pacifying the insatiable need for constant activity or the lack of patience to wait for a delicious prepared meal.  Despite evidence to the contrary, we were indeed prepared parents with our own plastic mess-prevention and environment-sterilizing place-mat for our son.  He can’t color yet, but he can shovel tiny bits of food into his mouth at a rate destined to require another kid’s meal sooner rather than later.

This leads us to Lincoln (Linkin?). Lincoln was certainly on top of his game after being saddled with two more tables in addition to his already presumably busy/full section.  He came through and delighted our daughter with a two-pack of pink and purple crayons. Lincoln took our order with a smile, brought the food out quickly with no conspiratorial kitchen issues, and was just all-around pleasant.  We even had to ask for a replacement fork as we had somehow lost one.  It was brought out amid a flurry of what I presume to be normal Saturday restaurant activity with no hesitation, and rather quickly.  We even got jelly on one request.

After our meal, we thanked him for being such an incredible server, and I remarked that I was glad he was so understanding because I was nervous about being labeled as some sort of problem after requesting a new server.  He indicated that it was not a surprise, happens regularly, and that he didn’t come to us with any preconceived notions.  He also added that people inexplicably (my words, not his) come in and request to be seated in Maleficent’s section and Maleficent’s section only.

We will request Lincoln’s section in the future, and barring that option we’ll just request not be seated in Maleficent’s section.  I can play that game.  We cleaned up as best we could from our inevitable child-induced mess, left close to a 50% tip, and found the errant fork before we left.  The table directly beside us (I assume the other table taken by Lincoln at the same time we were handed over) also rather audibly and publicly thanked Lincoln for being such a great server.  I’m not sure if they also had issues that we weren’t aware of?  I told the cashier how happy we were with our service upon checkout.

I don’t want to pick on a server.  I do want to illustrate the contrast between what I see as poor service as it relates to incredible service and how it didn’t seem to be any more difficult than you make it.  I do hope Lincoln is rewarded for a job well done and his overall attitude.  I’m sure it reflects in his work effort and in his gratuities.  I would hope that you can again pass this email along to all of the appropriate parties.  Area coaches and the store management, correct?  I really feel like we were nothing but polite and reasonable up until we were denied crayons, and we remained polite and reasonable immediately after that whole exchange.  That seems like an absolutely insane sentence for one adult to write to another.  Do I have a valid point, or am I just super way out of line here?

I would just drop the entire issue and move on, but Bob Evans is one of the few places that I can safely get a meal with my shellfish allergy, I can comfortably order anything on the menu (outside of the seasonal Lent-deathfish), it’s very close by, and I feel like we really get great value for a dollar when we dine at your establishment.

Last time you sent out some gift certificates.  Please save them this time.  I don’t want free food, I just want a stress-free dining experience.  If you must send gift certificates, can you direct them to a Pittsburgh charity that can give them to people who do perhaps need a free meal?  Thankfully I can put food on the table for my family while many others struggle to do so.  We need to get our butts out on a kids-eat-free promotional night if we want a free meal.

I realize that in the grand scheme of things, my complaints are trivial.  I realize that some would enjoy any meal regardless of the way in which it was delivered.  What if though, this had been that meal for someone?  What if this was one night out that they looked forward to and it was met with the kind of service that we regularly receive from one apparently disgruntled waitress?  Is this how Bob Evans wants to be perceived?

I plan to blog this adventure also.  I do less of that these days, but this seemed to be appropriately entertaining.  Of course, the names will be omitted or changed.

I also look forward to your response and insight.  Thank you once again for your time and assistance!

Just crayons?

-Eric

https://aixelsyd13.wordpress.com

me@my.emailaddre.ss

I can’t wait for a response.  Sadly, I see from the Yahoo! mailer daemon that Nate is no longer with Bob Evans.  I think I knew he outgrew them a while back.  I may try to ping it out to a few more people.  I have contacted others at Bob Evans in the past, during my pre-Wordpress days.  I even had someone send me a “safe” list of where things were cooked and what would be OK for me to eat while they had shellfish on the menu.  Overall they have stellar corporate customer service, but we just have this continual issue with a crazy server who reminds me of the mailman in the movie Funny Farm.

Bob Evans - Tuesday Night is Family Night

Tuesday Night is Family Night

Chick-fil-A-Go-Go! 🎸🎤🎧🎵🎶


OK, so it’s been a while since I’ve been productively making music & actively writing songs.  Apparently the bug never goes away.  I have been thinking about doing punk rock-ish kids songs for a while.  (The Sablowskis beat me to it!)

Yeah, there is the AiXeLsyD reunion gig coming up… whenever that is, and it doesn’t seem like Ernie and the Berts was all that long ago.

I saw a contest online last week and it sparked me to get my ass quickly in gear. Music Go Round in Monroeville is holding a guitar giveaway, and I have been mentally drooling all over Eastwood Guitars online for quite some time. The Side Jack is pretty awesome!

It would be really cool if you could help me win this axe by clicking “like” on this post: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=698216686929723&permPage=1

It may help to follow or like the Music Go Round Monroeville, PA Facebook page too.  It has to be on that post on their page, no “likes” here or on my link(s) to it on my Facebook profile count.  Voting is only open this week, they pick a winner on the 27th!

As far as the song goes, I threw it together in under an hour with a downloaded app for the tablet, using crappy headphones, the built-in mic on the tablet, and my acoustic guitar down in the basement.  I think it shows.  But, I still think it’s a hooky tune with some potential.  I may have to recruit a few of the usual suspects or even some unusual ones to help me complete the process.

Molly is absolutely terrified of the Chick-fil-A cow.  My guess is that other kids are too. Seems like we can find a whole lot more to relate to with some feet-tapping tunes!

Chick-fil-A-Go-Go

Chick-fil-A-Go-Go

The Captain’s Back.


Barnes Returns to Dormont Dogs

Barnes Returns to Dormont Dogs (Dormont-Brookline Patch)

So, you may remember my earlier blog post about Dormont Dogs, the Captain’s newsworthy actions, and the family.  If not, you may want to read that one first.  If so, you may want to check out this article from the Dormont-Brookline Patch:

It’s a great article, soiled by crude comments (as are many things found on the internet).  I’ve already shown my support by simply being a patron, been “vocal” about my support in blog form, and via comments.  I’d like to add some more thoughts here.

Captain committed some illegal acts.  He was arrested, sentenced, and served his time.  In the eyes of the law, he’s paid his due.  It should be settled there, but some of you apparently don’t agree.  You look for further condemnation for whatever reasons… a perceived higher moral standard, some internal guilt, jealousy if you felt you’ve ever been punished too harshly for something, or just plain anger.

Dormont Dogs on UrbanspoonCaptain has put it all out there.  He’s admitted guilt, apologized to his family & the community, and he’s ready to move on.  You can take the high road, and let him move past this & give him room to prove that he’s worthy of forgiveness.

Mainly, my whole message here is about forgiveness.  It’s a simple thing to think about, and to talk about…but it can be extremely difficult to ask for or to give. It doesn’t matter what the situation may be.  It doesn’t matter if it’s serious or simple.  It does no one any good to hold on to anger or any sort of grudge or agenda.

Most major religions teach forgiveness.  I believe there’s a dual purpose outside of the divine.  When you find it within yourself to drop the urge to pass judgement and forgive someone, a great weight is lifted off of you.  You can physically feel it if your anger or resentment is strong enough.  Try it.  Let go of the negative.  It doesn’t do anyone any good.  Leave judgement to the authorities and ultimately whatever higher power you subscribe to.

As for this current situation, a comment by Mike Jones sums it up nicely:

We can’t condone what he did, but it does take a lot of guts to stand up and apologize to the community for embarrassing it. Hopefully he is able to give back to Dormont in a way that would atone for his crimes more than probation or jailtime ever could.

An enlightened sentiment, eloquently stated.

To end on a light note…  Johnny Cash was all about forgiving and rehabilitation… all those prison concerts.  Who are we to argue with Johnny Cash?

O Captain! My Captain!


Holy cow.  Has anyone seen the recent news stories about the owner of Dormont Dogs?  I was walking into the house last night as the story came on the news.  My wife was all like “listen to this!” pointing to the TV before we even said hello to each other.  I watched the story in a sort of disbelief.  Neither of us could believe what we were seeing/hearing.

Dormont Dogs!

These are ridiculously delicious. Click for a Google Tour of the shop!

Dormont Dogs has been a favorite place of ours ever since the first time we walked in the door years ago!  Not too long ago, I finally wrote a review for this blog, although I have had older reviews on Urban Spoon for quite some time… and I’d tell anyone who would listen how they need to get over there ASAP to have some fun delicious hot dogs.

Dormont Dogs on UrbanspoonWithout fail we have been treated well by all of their employees, including the Captain.  Drinks are always refilled, food always brought right to us, we’re always asked how the food is, and always asked how we’re doing in general.  These are kind people who have put their all into a business, and it shows that they genuinely want to not only serve a great product but they wanted you to enjoy it.  They easily made you feel at home if dining in or out on the sidewalk.

Not too long ago, my mother-in-law & father-in-law were there for lunch one day, and when they asked for change to put in the meter, Captain ran out to the meter to pay for them.

By all accounts, Captain is a great guy… and this is just some momentary snap or lapse in judgement.  Any articles that I’ve read including comments from customers and other Dormont/Brookline business owners have had nothing but good things to say about the man.

I’m not condoning his actions, or judging what happened.  My heart goes out to the tellers at the banks, were I in their place I’d hope that I had an extra pair of boxer shorts nearby.  I do have to praise the people in the South Side for their bravery… I certainly wouldn’t have jumped in to wrestle a bank-robber, fearing any kind of weapons or just a plain old whoopin’.  I would think the safe thing to do is to let the police do their job.  Then again, perhaps they would have used excessive force or a chase could have ensued where bystanders could have been put in danger.  Perhaps it’s best that it played out the way it did.

Texas Avenue Dog at Dormont Dogs

Texas Avenue Dog at Dormont Dogs (Photo credit: claramichelle)

I would urge you to continue to support Dormont Dogs when they reopen (hopefully tomorrow – Fri. Feb. 17th).  Word on the street is that Rachel is taking over & reopening ASAP.  I can’t imagine what she, their sons, & their employees are going through right now.  They do not deserve any backlash, retaliation, or bad press.  They are still wonderful people, and a great asset to Dormont.

In fact, right now… they could really use your support, all of our support.  Show them that you’re glad they’re still up & running by going in this weekend and grabbing a meal.  Buy a hot dog or two.  Take a bunch of friends.  Stop in if you’re a regular, or even if you’ve never been there.  Please join us in supporting this business, and more importantly this family.

Check out the Dormont Dogs for Everyone group on Facebook, the official Dormont Dogs Facebook page, and Dormont Dogs on UrbanSpoon.  Please, feel free to share your experiences at Dormont Dogs in the comments below, or even just post your favorite dog(s)!

From FAI :: “Give It Up!” for Food Allergy Awareness Week!


From the FAI

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Food Allergy Initiative <info@faiusa.org>
To: [-mE.]
Sent: Monday, May 9, 2011 4:26 PM
Subject: Fw: FAAW – FAI’s Give It Up Campaign & Poster Contest

Food Allergy Initiative
Food Allergy Awareness Week — May 8 thru 15, 2011

“Give It Up!” for Food Allergy Awareness Week

Food Allergy Awareness Week is here! Join FAI’s 2011 “Give It Up” advocacy campaign and show your support for the 12 million Americans with food allergies—including some 3 million children. Here’s how it works:

  • Show your support by giving up a favorite food for the week, a day, or just one meal.
  • Write your elected officials, urging them to increase federal funding for research that will lead to a cure. (If you wish, you can add your story to the letters we’ve prepared for you.) The federal government only spends about $28 million a year on food allergy research—far less than on other important diseases. It’s time to solve this major public health problem!
  • Enter our poster contest! Enter on your own, or have family and friends join in the fun. You could win a Divvies gift certificate!
Since 2007, Food Allergy Awareness Week has put the spotlight on life-threatening food allergies. FAI and other concerned organizations will be conducting activities throughout the week.

JOIN THE CAMPAIGN TODAY AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Please help us get the word out! Share this e-mail—and be sure to take a look at these news stories:
  • NBC Nightly News and MSNBC ran a compelling three-part story on the impact of food allergies on children, which cites results from an upcoming FAI-sponsored study and features interviews with 6-year-old Lily Martin and 15-year-old Morgan Smith—Colorado students with life-threatening food allergies.
  • Read a statement from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—the agency responsible for most federally funded food allergy research.

Our Mission

FAI supports research to find a cure for life-threatening food allergies; clinical activities to improve diagnosis and treatment; public policy to increase federal funding for research and create safer environments for those afflicted; and educational programs to make the hospitality industry, schools, day care centers, and camps safer.
Food Allergy Initiative
515 Madison Avenue, Suite 1912 | New York, NY 10022-5403
Phone: 855-FAI-9604 | Fax: 917-338-5130 | info@faiusa.org
Privacy Policy | Email Preferences
Copyright © 2011 Food Allergy Initiative. All Rights Reserved.

That’s right, it’s FOOD ALLERGY AWARENESS WEEK!