Monday, September 28, 2009

Profile in Courage

I am even more proud of my last name tonight. Gavin, my wonderful brother-in-law and a Councilman for the city of Keystone Heights, stood up for what he believes is right and voted against an increase of the millage rate for the city. He knew going into the meeting tonight that his opinion was not the popular one and that he would be the only one of five members of the council voting against it, but he stood his ground and confidently voted "nay". The proposed increase would have raised the taxes on the property we own in the city by 62%, but because he believes that other measures should be taken (i.e. cutting or restructuring the budget), he stood his ground. He did this knowing that the majority of the people in the audience at the meeting were in favor of the increase, as they spent two hours making their opinions known, but still felt that now was not the time to increase the taxes by that magnitude or that it should be put on the next ballot for the people to vote on. As the youngest elected official in Clay County history, he has been called naive, but I believe that as he listened to what the Mayor, fellow councilmen and citizens had to say and thoughtfully explained his position in voting against the ordinance, he showed true courage.

In related news, he and the other members of the Rollins family who were there to show support were able to escape the evening without being caught by the lynch mob.

And in unrelated, but equally as noteworthy, news, we made it out of the meeting in time to get some Johnny's for dinner :) And hopefully the Mayor was able to make it home to watch "Dancing With the Stars", as that was an expressed concern of hers.

P.S. Gavin was my date for the senior prom. What a fun story for the kids one day...

Beach Day

On Saturday Charlotte and I took a trip down to Beverly Beach (just north of Flagler) to visit her Grammy and Grampy who were camping there for the weekend. Even though we live less than a thirty minute drive from the ocean, we haven't been there at all this year. Charlotte usually does not like to have her hands or feet dirty, so I wasn't sure how she would react to the stickiness of the sand but she loved it. She even loved playing in the water and thought the waves splashing on her were hilarious. My Aunts Darleen and Diane were there too, so Charlotte also got some loving from her great-aunts (who are "great" in more than just titles:). Here are a few pictures from the day...

Holding on tight to her Grampy's hand as she got her feet wet

As soon as she saw her Grammy sit down in the waves, Charlotte had to do the same

Charlotte's face as she was begging her Grammy for more of her grape drink

Monday, September 21, 2009

Toddler Antics

If you give a toddler a baggie of Cheerios, do not expect them to make it from the bag to the mouth.

If you don't watch a toddler for their every waking second, expect something like this to happen. At least she didn't try flushing it like that. And the toilet was flushed from its previous use before she tried this. Silver lining, right?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

I know better, I was taught better, and I don't know what I was thinking...

Over two and a half years ago Jared and I were married (newsflash, right?). A couple months after we were married, I took my wedding dress to the local dry cleaner's to have my dress cleaned and preserved. I had previously called and talked to the owner about the process: they sent the dresses away to be cleaned and preserved, and I was told a time frame of 6 months to 1 year before I'd have my dress back. I dropped the dress off, got my regular dry cleaning slip and went off on my merry way. Mistake: I did not sign a contract or get anything in writing. What was I thinking?!

Around six months later, I called to see if my dress had come in. No, it hadn't, but I was told by the owner that he had spoken with the preservation company, all was well with the dress but they just had a surplus of dresses and were working hard to get caught up.

I called around the nine month mark and was told pretty much the same thing.

And that's where I lose track of how many times I called and when those calls were made. But I called every couple months. Sometimes, multiple times per month because it was like pulling teeth to get a call back. Mistake #2: I should have started recording when I called, who I spoke with, and what I was told.

Throughout the last year, I was told that the company took on extra dresses from a company in Louisiana that went out of business after Hurricane Katrina. And I was told about fifteen times that the owner had just recently spoken with the preservation company and my dress should be arriving any day. Finally, about four months ago, I was told that my dress had arrived, cleaned and preserved, but the box was busted in shipping, which ruined the whole "preservation" part of it, so they were sending it back to the company, but that it would not take long to get it fixed and it would be sent directly to me. I asked to have the tracking number and order number sent to me and the owner called and left me a voicemail saying that he would call me a couple days later and give me all that info. I never received the call.

So I called. And called. And called. Someone answered the phone about half of the time. The others it just rang and rang. Any legitimate business should have voicemail! Even if it's just your cell phone's voicemail! Seriously! When the phone was answered, it was always the owner's "uncle". I now believe that this "uncle" was, in fact, the owner, just avoiding having to explain anything to me. The "uncle" always told me his nephew would call me back as soon as he returned from his deliveries. He never did. Every time I called I told him that I had not had a returned call for months. He assured me all of my messages were getting to him and that I would have a call that night. He never called.

So I drafted a letter to him telling him that because he never contacted me to give me the preservation company's contact info with the order number so that I could pursue retrieval of the dress on my own, the only option I had was to ask him for the money to replace my dress. Before I sent it out, I called and spoke with the "uncle" and he was so excited to tell me that my dress was in. He said that the company had gone bankrupt and sent the dress back. It had not been cleaned or preserved, but they had it in their possession. I told him not to do anything with it or to it, that I would be there to pick it up.

I called this morning before leaving to make sure that someone would be there throughout the day. I did not want to drive all the way over there to find it was closed for lunch. He said someone would be there so I packed up and headed over. When I got there I prepped myself and put my game face on. I tend to be too nice and forgiving, but two and a half years, countless unanswered phone calls... keeping those thoughts in the back of my mind helped me keep a ticked-off expression on my face.

I went in, told him I was there to pick up my dress and he acted all excited to see me. He was very nice, apologized profusely and told me the story... (What had happened was...)

Apparently, the company that he sent it off to, he had worked with for over twenty years. They went bankrupt and another company took over their workload. That company went bankrupt, and (if I understood him correctly), the dresses were sent out to about six other companies, but the computerized system that had been used lost track of a lot of the dresses and they are likely to never turn up. The dress that was sent to them that was supposedly my dress (the one that had the preservation box busted during delivery), ended up not being my dress. That particular dress is one of the ones that is floating in Land of the Lost Dresses. But my, thankfully, was returned. Not a thing had been done to it. No cleaning, nothing. It was still hanging in the Jay's Bridal garment bag I dropped it off in.

The owner was very apologetic, seemed sincere, told me he hated that it happened like it did, yadda, yadda, yadda. Usually, the softie that I am, I would have given him a half-hearted "Oh that's okay. I'm just happy I have my dress..." But this time, I went all bridezilla on him and said, "What was most frustrating through this whole process was that you wouldn't return my phone calls." Oooohhhhh! Yeah, I totally laid the smack down with that one. (I don't get it. When I'm "Wedding Planner Brittany", I'm a total wedding nazi. I'm always polite, but very firm in my expectations, and I seem to be respected and taken seriously with that role, however infrequently I play it. But when I'm just "Minivan Mom Brittany", I get much too reserved. I don't know why I couldn't unleash my inner wedding planner on him!) He was at least honest with me and told me that he was avoiding calling me back because he didn't want to tell me the truth of the situation: my dress could possibly be lost and never returned.

But, there's a happy ending to this story: I have my beautiful wedding dress hanging in my closet! If I wasn't carrying an extra 20 pounds in the belly right now, I would totally have been wearing it when Jared got home from work :)

Melissa, if you've made it through this story without keeling over from absolute frustration, I know you taught me better. I hang my head in shame. I now plan to take it to David's Bridal, where they may overcharge, but at least I know I can count on getting it back cleaned and preserved in less than two and a half years!

And because I love my dress so much, I'm gonna show it off!

Photos by Amantez Photography

Missing Cross

This morning, Charlotte's beloved cross went missing. I looked around in all of the usual spots where it tends to hide- behind the curtains, under the couch, beside the TV- but it was not to be found. We had to make a trip to Starke today, which had to be made with some lovey substitutes. She has a pink bunny that her Uncle Chad & Auntie Amber gave her and a teddy bear that came with a bouquet of flowers that Jared gave me back in the day (when he was wooing me:) that she has laid claim to, and they are often carried around the house with the cross and her favorite blanket. She did okay on the trip but when we got home was quite distressed as she was searching around the house for the cross. That led to a fussier than usual afternoon (which led to a grumpy mama!).

Shortly before bedtime, Jared and I began the search for the cross. We looked everywhere. In every cabinet, every drawer, underneath every piece of furniture, behind furniture, inside furniture, in the fridge and freezer, in the pantry, in the toybox, in every closet. Our house only has so many places where a toddler could have put it. No hidden nooks or crannies. We searched high and low in every possible place it could be. Or so we thought. It was, of course, in a place that we both walked by about 20 times.

She had stuffed it into a lunchbox that was laying in the floor in the living room. I suppose if we were cleaning up as we were searching we might have found it. It was in the area where we toss her things that are to be taken to her room, so I guess we didn't think to look inside it, we just looked around it at the other toys, saw no cross and moved along. We searched for that thing for at least 30 minutes.

Here is Charlotte, after the cross has been found, mocking her Mommy and Daddy in their "hunting" position.

Thank you, Uncle Aaron and Aunt Brittany, for the gift of the cross for her first Christmas. She clings to that thing like we should all cling to the real Cross.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Charlotte's Favorite Word

Charlotte has been cracking us up with her use of the word "stuck" lately! You may remember a couple weeks ago when she was stuck in the crib. Since then, she has found herself in several other situations where she has found the word to be appropriate. If she has trouble moving something (her rocking chair or rocking horse or the ottoman - she likes to rearrange everything), it is "stuck". When she can't get the shoes off of her baby doll, they are "stuck". When she is in her car seat and wants out, she is "stuck". If Jared is tickling her and she's done playingg their game but can't get up because of the paralyzing force of tickles, she is "stuck". When he spins her around in the laundry basket and she feels the centrifugal force pushing her against the basket, she is "stuck". When she is constipated, things are "stuck". :/ Her excessive use of the word cracks us up!

Busted Lip

Charlotte got her first busted lip last week :( I was babysitting Roman, one of her little friends from church, and the two of them were playing by the bench in the foyer. They had taken the cushion off of it and were having fun sitting and rolling around on it. I didn't see what happened, but somehow Charlotte fell and hit her lip on the corner of the bench. The screaming began immediately, followed shortly by a flow of blood. It was hard to tell how deep the cut was and where exactly all the blood was coming from. Kari, Roman's mom, got there a few minutes later so I was able to take Charlotte up to the Take Care Clinic at Walgreens, just to make sure the cut didn't require stitches. Thankfully, the Family Nurse Practitioner who was there said the cut didn't look deep enough for stitches. Whew! Later that evening, her lip was already looking much better.

I love Charlotte's pediatrician , but the Take Care Clinic has been very handy to have just down the road from us. We also took Charlotte there to have her mosquito bite looked at when she swelled up so much, and both times the PA's took a look at her and gave their recommendations, but because no major exam or medication was needed they didn't even charge us. Jared also went there when he had a bad sinus infection that had him wiped out for about a week, which was extra handy since neither of us have a regular physician (though maybe his oncologist would have seen him for the sinus infection!).

Friday, September 11, 2009

Coupon Clipping Queen

For a little over a month now, I've been doing my best to remember to buy two newspapers on Sunday, just for all the coupons it comes with. With some help from a couple websites, I've been doing my best to combine the sales at Publix with store, manufacturer, and competitor coupons, and am seeing some great savings!

The receipt from Wednesday's shopping trip. I saved more than I spent! Sweet!

My 2" coupon binder :) Each coupon flyer gets three-hole-punched and is organized by date

My coupon file for loose coupons from the blinkies in stores or printed online

For anyone interested, Frugal Coupon Living and Fiddledeedee Mom are the sites that help me match up the sales with the coupons to score the best deals. They only work with the larger chains, so for all the Hitchcock's shoppers in Keystone, these won't help much, but it might give you an idea of how to score the best deals. Fiddledeedee Mom does, however, highlight Harvey's deals, so if you're willing to scrub it up over there, you could probably save some moolah (she lists the stores on the left hand side of the page... scroll down a little and just click on the link for the store of your choice to see this week's sales and deals)!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Naomi's First Present!

Naomi received her first present yesterday! You know, other than the gift of life and all :) My sweet cousin, Becky, sent this adorable diaper cake for her. Her friend makes these adorable cakes, and it is obvious how much thought and love went into it. The theme for Naomi's room will be the "Fruits of the Spirit" (using red and ivory toile and blue accents... the colors of strawberries and blueberries were my inspiration:), and the cake goes right along with the theme. Grapevine wrapped around the bottom and a pear perched on top. It's just precious!

Seriously, it's the cutest thing ever! Thank you so much, Becky!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Go Gators!

The most wonderful time of the year has officially begun! College football is here! Woo Hoo! Here is Charlotte in the cute little dress that I made for her on Friday afternoon. She loved modeling it :) Such a ham!

On Saturday, we had a garage sale... a 4-family garage sale! That translates into lots of junk, stuff, other people's treasures! Charlotte really enjoyed all of the new (to her) stuff to play with. She found the toy walker my mom was selling and had a great time all day with everyone pushing and pulling her around.

On Monday we all got dressed up in our Gator gear once again and went to Chick-Fil-A for their free chicken sandwich giveaway for people wearing a college logo. I asked Jared if he thought if I put a logo on my belly if I'd get an extra sandwich for Naomi :) I usually like to wear my orange and blue, but all of my orange and blue is a bit ill-fitting these days, so I had to go with just a pink Gator hat.

And just a random picture of Charlotte... this is what happens when you let her play with a squirt bottle.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Charlotte usually goes right to bed with no fussing or whining at all, but, always one to keep us on our toes, tonight she changed things up a little. About fifteen minutes after Jared put her down, she started crying. Usually when she does this, it is because she has dropped her stuffed cross that she loves so much. Tonight, she had both her cross and her blanket still in the crib with her, but was asking for more drink. After getting her a little more, she laid right back down and I told her "night-night".

Another fifteen or so minutes after that, we heard her crying again. I told Jared it was his turn to check on her so in he went. He opened the door and told her "Little girl, it's time for night-night," to which she replied, "Stuck!" He turned the light on and walked over to her crib and saw that she was, indeed, stuck. She somehow managed to get her knee stuck between the slats of the crib. He called me in and between the two of us we managed to get the poor thing unstuck without hurting her or breaking the crib.

Once we knew she was unstuck and unharmed, we both had a good laugh at the pitifully cute way she was telling her Daddy that she needed some help. "Stuck!" Bless her heart!