Tag Archives: Family

So, we built a swing set…


It was a fun family project.  We told the kids that birthdays & Easter would be light as we were putting a lot into the swingset.  I’m not sure they understood or cared.  Our moms helped with the purchase, too.  Bethany & I looked online a 6,487,932 swing sets, and narrowed it down to 15 or so in our price range.  I made a spreadsheet to compare them, because OCD or something.  Looking at the roadside swing sets at those places that also sell sheds and rocking chairs, we got a similar product for about ⅓ or ¼ of the price, albeit with no installation.

Installation is expensive, and now we know why.  Ha ha.  Everyone who knew we were getting one gave warning, so we weren’t surprised, but it was an interesting task.

It came in 3 boxes from Walmart.com, and we did in-store pickup because I measured & it all fit nicely in the family vehicle.

Yay, #swingset!

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It took two weekend days with one week night in between to get it done, but the first weekend day was slowed by the kids “helping,” a move-the-tools-in-because-it-looks-like-rain delay, and maybe even a “let’s undo that part because I put it on backwards” moment.  The week night was hindered by the fact that as soon as I attached the ladder & sliding board, the kids needed to test it out.

Bethany & I enjoyed the kids helping.  We do the Home Depot Kids Workshops so both kids are comfortable with a hammer & a screwdriver, and we have done some other stuff at home like carpet removal and hanging curtain rods where they have actually helped.

Hard at work!

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Had some "helpers" today, ha ha.

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My mom even got video of the little man showing off his ratchet skills;

We have been at the house for a few years now, but the project this year is another step to getting the back yard to where we want it, and next year we’ll work on the front.  Having some trees removed recently & moving our garden really opened up some space in the back yard.  I’d like to put in a fire ring, and a toy car race-track play area.  I actually proposed removing the Bean House to make room for the latter, but I was vetoed by a 2yo boy saying “Unh-uh, Daddy.  Hoooome.  Hooome.  Daddy, unh-uh.”  I really hope the beans take off this year.  I have some sprouts popping up already.  I have some squash around it too. I don’t think the soil is all that great there though.

I even recently built this Pinterest inspired potting bench…

Back to the swing set, we even got a few extra add-ons from Amazon, like the steering wheel, telescope, telephone, and some handles.  I think I want to replace the kitchen area tarp walls with some chalkboard-painted wood… and eventually when the canopy fades or dry-rots, I’d like to replace it with some type of solid roof.

"There's so much room for activities!" @CedarSummitPlay #Laurentian #PlaySet #Swingset

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At any rate, I encourage you to tackle a project as a family.  I encourage you to get kids outdoors.  I encourage you to not be afraid to give young kids some tools with a bit of guidance and a lot of supervision.  I encourage you to get them into building, gardening, cooking, and the business of imagination.  I encourage you to try projects yourself, and don’t be afraid to involve the whole family.  It’s amazing how much you can learn through Google, YouTube, and a maybe a few tries.

I think the kids like it…

So, in the spring I want to build an outdoor Matchbox car race track… 🚗


How cool is this?

Since the bean house was a bit of a bust, maybe this will be a hit.  It looks like it can get as complicated or remain as simple as you’d like.  I have pinned a bunch of ideas.  I’d like to include an area for construction vehicles… maybe tiny pebbles, not sand.  I hate sand.  I like the use of the tire in the one… and the dirt road, and tunnels.

 

 

 

 

 

I hope to snag a bunch of ideas online, specifically Pinterest I guess. Looks super fun for both kids, and me!

Have you done anything like this?

We finally hung the sign on our #BeanHouse. 🌱


Did you read about our #BeanHouse?

I was able to get some matte clear-coat spray this week and hit the sign a few times, although this stuff seemed to soak up the paint like a sponge.  We just used some particleboard from an old dresser drawer.  It was the perfect size.  I did the marker & colored the beans, the rest was all Molly.

Molly also got a tomato plant  from her Grandma BB, so we planted it right out front.  We tried the fork trick there too to deter bunnies, but if I remember right they’re not huge fans of tomatoes.  You never know what else is out & around either.

We also put out some organic bloodmeal to provide nutrients and hopefully deter critters.   Molly reminded me to put down grass clippings because they hold moisture.

I was thinking about putting out some cinnamon to keep the rabbits away too.  I just saw that coffee grounds keep away snails.  Do you have any other tips & tricks that seem to have worked for you in the past?  We did use garlic clips last year.  They seemed to work, but we did have a few incidents of snacking on our peppers.

No beans sprouting yet, but our Spanish onions just popped from seeds we planted a while ago.

Outdoor Gardening Fun With a #BeanHouse. 🌱


So, I dig gardening. (Get it?)  I have passed that on (so far) to my oldest child, and the little one really likes playing in the dirt.  I also enjoy doing things with the kids that are not only fun, but that allow me to sneak in some learning.

Today we set up a Bean House.  What’s a bean house?  I don’t know. That’s what my daughter wanted to call it & it’s really the most appropriate title.  We got the idea from a friend’s Facebook wall with instructions for a bean den and a willow den.

Basically, we built a play house that will act as a trellis for a (hopefully) vining bean plant.  I started with an area that had already been cleared thanks to a pile of brush that was recently removed.  Speaking of that brush that I have recently cleared form our jungle of a back yard; I grabbed 4 rather large branches with a “Y” shape, cut them to roughly the same length with the chainsaw, and sharpened the bottoms.  I dug some holes with a small gardening shovel and drove the posts in as far as I could, mounding up some dirt around each pole.  I used some gardening wire to secure four branches across the top for a nice little cube-ish frame.

Then, I let the munchkins “help” while I secured several smaller sticks across the top, down along the sides, and across the sides.  At one point we ran low on sticks, so I used some old wooden and bamboo tomato stakes.  The wooden stakes seemed to really help make the rest of the structure stable because I could really pound them into the ground well.  To secure everything, I used some newly purchased garden wire, and whatever twine and garden wire that we had leftover from previous years’ gardening adventures.

The top is a thatched mess of “wonky” branches that are woven together to provide slightly more shade than the sides, but will still be open for the growing vines.  My shelter would probably make Survivorman Les Stroud hang his head in shame, but it’s better than most of the shelters on Naked and Afraid.

The wife and little guy helped water the mounds so I could pack them down, and then I mounded dirt all around every post & they helped do the same.  Then we mulched the mound with grass clippings & packed it down again.

Finally I dug some holes for the pre-soaked Kentucky Wonder green bean seeds (beans?) around the base of the entire structure, and the whole family helped put in the seed-starter potting soil mix, the seeds, and some more dirt & mulch in place.  We placed some plastic forks facing outward all around the seeds at the base of the thing to hopefully help ward off the local overpopulation of rabbits.  I may try some additional deterrent like bloodmeal.

Later indoors, we found some other stuff and made a sign to hang once I get a coat or two of clear coat on it.

While we put it up, we talked about enjoying outside, building things, growing things, recycling and up-cycling, sunshine, water, and everything.  We talked about how grass clippings act like a mulch that holds moisture for the plants.  We talked about how the fertilizer and Miracle-Gro in the water acts like vitamins for the plants… vitamins like the one’s we’ll get from eating the beans.  I’m sure we’ll have discussions in the future about patience, including our little brother, and not knocking the bean house over.

My wife and I have always tried to talk to the kids with the same respect we’d give other adults.  We don’t use small words.  We explain things as best we can, encourage and answer questions.  I’m continually amazed at the observations that our daughter makes in conversation, and through our son’s actions that show an understanding of exactly what is going on.

If you’re reading this and are a parent, I ask you to narrate to your kids what you’re doing & why when you do an activity together.  You may think they’re too little to get it, but they’re constantly absorbing what you’re doing.

This is a great way to get into all kinds of stuff like gardening, up-cycling/recycling, food not lawns, urban farming, and striving to pass on the importance of such things as knowing how to grow food to your kids.  I’m excited to plant some tomatoes, peppers, and try a few new things this year.  I love going outside and seeing vegetable plants in the summer.  I love the smell of the dirt and growing plants.  I hope to pass this on and that the kids love it too.

All-in, I paid around $10 for the seeds, wire, & fertilizer.  Everything else we had here on hand or could have probably found easily for free.

Please, enjoy some photos and share some in the comments if you build your own!

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.

 

Bob Evans: 1 • Eat’n Park: 1½


So, did you read about our most recent experience with a waitress we’ll call Maleficent at the local Bob Evans?  If not, you may want to read that first.

I recently got the expected response from Bob Evans, and it’s nowhere near as enthusiastic as last time.  They are probably more displeased with my over-the-top approach to storytelling than the actions of Maleficent.

——– Original message ——–
From: “Barga, Leann D.
Date: 11/11/2015 9:23 AM (GMT-05:00)
To: me@my.email.address
Subject: Bob Evans – Reference # 1106568

Good Morning Eric,

I am so sorry to hear that you recently had a poor experience at our Bridgeville location.  The behavior demonstrated by one of our servers was unacceptable, and for that we truly apologize.  We expect all of our employees to treat our guests like family, and want our guests to be completely satisfied – it is clear that we let you down with your initial server during this visit.

On the other hand, I am happy to hear that Lincoln ‘saved the day’ and made the rest of your time with us an enjoyable one.

I will be sharing your comments with the general manager and area coach of this location so any necessary action can be taken to ensure that all of our servers are meeting our and our guests expectations.

Sincerely,

LeAnn Barga (formerly Purdy)
Representative, Guest and Consumer Relations
8111 Smith’s Mill Road
New Albany, Ohio 43054
Phone: (800) 939-2338
http://www.BobEvans.com

It seems that Leanne is still rocking it with Bob Evans, now with a new name.  I hope she is doing well!

Not sure what this means (if anything) for Maleficent and Lincoln.  Will anything actually be said?  Will general management or area coaches write back to me directly?  Will I get a dirty look from Maleficent next time we’re there?  Hopefully Lincoln is on the clock.

Of course I can’t just let things like this be, so I reached out to Eat’n Park on twitter. Their response was glorious

Ha.  Eat’n Park for the win.

EVERYONE GETS A CRAYON!

Checkmate.

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

I’ll eventually get back to blogging. Really.


I’ll eventually get back to blogging.  Really.

This has been going on:

But, I want to talk about this…

…and another sort-of fuel-related possible scam that I was involved in earlier this week.

Having fun embedding posts from FB & Twitter, too:

So, I haven’t blogged in a while…


I’ve been working mad OT, and this has happened…

I hope to get back to blogging my usual insanity as the need arises or as things calm down!

It’s a girl!


Well, that’s what they told us.  Words can’t express how beautiful this is to me.  Seeing that little heart beat today made it all hit me.

I’m sure I’ll post more funny goofy silliness about having a daughter eventually, but right now I’m just so happy and I wanted to share.  I can’t wait to meet her!

Also, the feet on the printout were adorable, but I could be biased:

Feet!

Feet!