25 August 2011

The Glorious Magic Eraser or Why My Nephews Haven't Been Banned From My House

I do not know how they managed it, but when they came to stay for a couple of days in July my nephews left a lot of scuff marks on my walls. A lot of them, folks. And in the most bizarre places - like chest-high. How did they do that?

Anyway, soap and water did not work. Scrubbing a lot did not work. I didn't know what to do. How do I make these things go away? Then I remembered that I'd heard great things about Magic Erasers.*

And oh, how magical they are! No more scuff marks! Easily rubbed away.

Plus, I got my bathtub and sinks really clean - cleaner than ever before, probably. I don't think I've ever had so much fun cleaning things.

Which means when my brother called last week to see if they could come visit in November, I was able to tell them that would be fine. I would challenge my nephews to do their worst, but I'm sure they could actually cause a lot of damage. No challenges will be issued.

*I was not paid to say these things about Magic Erasers. And actually, I used the Wal Mart brand, so I guess it's really those that I am praising.

20 August 2011

Working from Home

I've been working from home since the beginning of April. When I made the transition from full-time to part-time, my work was very accommodating but did set forth a couple of expectations.

One is that I still have to go into the office two days per week. I'm actually really glad they require me to do that. For one thing, it gets me out of the house and around adults very consistently. I find that on my at-home days I really do miss adult interaction, and I miss my co-workers whom I quite like. I have a few very good buddies at work, and I'm glad that I still get to see them consistently. Plus, Ike really loves to hang out with the baby-sitter and her kid on those days.

The other plus-side of going to work is that people don't forget about me, which means I always have enough work to do. The only way for me to be able to research for a client is to have somebody else give me client work to do. (I don't have any of my own clients because of my job position.) Going in regularly allows me to communicate better with the case managers about how hefty my case load is, when I'll have certain things finished, and how much work I need. The truth of the matter is that the case managers have a hard time keeping track of who needs work, so being in their presence keeps me closer to the forefront of their minds.

The second stipulation is that I must work twenty hours per week. By going in to the office twice per week I come pretty close to that mark. I usually don't have any problem hitting my twenty hours and have occasionally hit closer to thirty.

As I've been working from home I've developed a few things that really make my work-from-home days more successful. I don't always do all of these things every day, but I find that when I do them I can get a lot more accomplished:
  • Eat breakfast. Also eat a real lunch.
  • Don't go back to sleep during Ike's first nap. (This one entirely depends on the night before.)
  • Wear real clothes. I don't dress up for work - usually jeans and a medium-nice top - so what I wear to the office is what I wear at home as well.
  • Do make-up. I just feel better about myself when I am looking decent.
  • Make a to-do list every day of cases I'll be working on and things I need to finish in that day.
  • Spend Ike's awake time interacting with him as much as possible. Use his nap times to work and his independent play-times to get housework done.
  • Keep the desk and work area tidy. (Everyone can have a good laugh now. Papers, papers everywhere!)
  • Keep in communication with co-workers about major projects, change in protocol, etc. (You would be surprised at how much I miss by only being in the office twice per week.)
Anyone else have tips for working from home?

13 August 2011

On Honest Reviews

In the last few weeks, my friend Janssen posted about a rather lousy customer service experience she had with an online retailer. She then wrote a follow-up post in which she detailed why the first experience was so frustrating and why she felt compelled to write about it. In short:
  • She had only heard very good things about this retailer, primarily through several blog posts written by many different bloggers.
  • Yet when she wrote her bad review for the retailer, several people commented that they had also had bad experiences with the retailer, namely that their clothing was poor quality and also fit poorly.
As Janssen and I chatted online about this incident and the way she handled, I learned that this retailer frequently gives away free clothing to people who are willing to blog about them. The retailer will also sponsor giveaways for the readers of those blogs to have a chance to win a dress. (Apparently the merchant sells mostly dresses.)

I had, somehow, NEVER heard of this retailer until Janssen's post. I'd not read any blogs with rave reviews nor ever had the opportunity to comment on a blog post in an attempt to win a free dress. But apparently I was very much in the minority in that regard.

Still, the whole situation was quite frustrating to me. If that many people find these dresses to be cheaply and poorly made, then why are so many people saying good things about them? Do bloggers not realize that it is bad for their own credibility to endorse a product that isn't particularly good?

Everyone likes free stuff. I get that. But even if you are a person who likes free stuff, you have to see what bad business it is to promote something that isn't any good. First of all, it makes you look like you don't actually care about your readers. If you did, you wouldn't be encouraging them to spend their hard-earned money on garbage. Second, it undermines your credibility as a real-life person. If you endorse something that your readers find out later on is terrible, why should they believe you the next time you endorse another product?

Here are a few guidelines that I follow in my blogging reviews. (And, to be fair, I haven't really been given anything for free in exchange for a blogging review, but maybe I will have the opportunity to implement these guidelines in the future.)
  • If the product was given to me for free in exchange for a review, I will always tell my readers such.
  • If I don't like a product, or if I think the product is over-priced, I will be upfront about that.
  • If I ever say that I like a product, I will say it sincerely. If there are caveats (such as "I like this but I would never pay full price for it.), I will make sure those caveats are clear in my review(s) of the product.
Are there other guidelines I should add? Is it really that hard to give honest opinions of products, even if the products aren't that great?

08 August 2011

Eric Humor

We get a lot of door-to-door salesman in our neighborhood. I'm kind of ready for winter so they will go away. One time Eric answered the door to somebody selling lawn care services. Eric told the girl that we didn't need any, thanks. She looked at our yard and then looked back at Eric and said, "Are you sure?" That was pretty rude. (Although our yard isn't really top notch.)

Tonight somebody came by, and I listened to a conversation that went like this:

Salesman: Hello, are you the man of the house?
Eric: Yes.
Salesman: Okay, I'm with Suchandsuch Pest Control, and...
Eric: I'm just going to go ahead and stop you right there. We're really not interested, but thanks for coming by.
Salesman: Okay, so do you already have pest control services you are working with?
Eric: No, we just like bugs.
Salesman: Okay, have a great night!

I thought I was going to die of laughter. But the thing is some of our neighbors have told us that they've seen black widows and brown recluses around their homes. I've also noticed a number of spiders in our garden as I've watered and weeded. I mentioned this to Eric, and he replied, "We can't afford to not get bitten by spiders."

Then, later we watched Man On Wire, a documentary about a French dude who tight-rope walked/danced/partied between the twin towers in the 1970s. It's a moderately interesting story, but the French people were just so obnoxious. We could barely stand to listen to them, particularly the main guy. When the movie was over, Eric said, "I wish Germany would invade France again."

So there you go. My husband is funny.

06 August 2011

Eight Months

It's been a busy month for Ike. He army crawls now, and has been basically since a day or two after the Seven Months post. He also regularly sits up on his very own. In fact, he managed to sit up on his own several times before Eric or I ever actually witnessed the transition. We would leave him lying down and come upon him sitting up, and we knew that he had to have done it on his own, but how?

Now that he army crawls so well he is almost always on the move. He loves to follow me around and pull on my pant legs or bump his head against my legs until I pick him up. It might sound annoying, but it's really quite adorable.

With that said, he's really not a needy child at all. He can entertain himself for very long periods of time (like 30 minutes sometimes). Every now and then he'll babble to me, and I'll give him verbal confirmation that he's having a lot of fun, and then he's off on his own again.

He likes his toys well enough, but his favorite things are the things that are not toys - computer cords, pens and markers (with lids on, of course), paper, wall outlets, rubber bands, safety pins, cell phones and any other non-toy item he can find. Fortunately he is too little to cause much destruction, so far.

Ike still loves people. He doesn't mind being passed around at parties, and he's as observant of people as he's ever been.

He's become quite attached to Tobias, his sock monkey with a Santa hat. (One of these days I will take that hat off of him and sew on a more appropriate year-round hat. But not so far.) Tobias is his bedtime buddy, and he and Ike have developed quite a friendship.

Ike has yet to try a food he doesn't like. That includes pretty much all baby foods plus some regular foods, including pickles. He didn't even make a funny face when I fed him a bit of pickle the other night. Although he wasn't a huge fan of root beer.

I have finally hit a point where I am not waiting for Ike to be older. I am thrilled with his level of interaction, how cuddly he is, how excited he is to see me or Eric and how much he loves life. He still spits up, but everything else that is awesome about him makes up for that minor detail.
LinkHis eyes have not settled on a color. They vary from gray/blue to green/brown almost daily. We will have to see what finally becomes of them.