My Fitness

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

prayer requests and needs since new baby's arrival

This ended up being longer than I anticipated.

 As requested, I'd like to share some prayer requests and physical needs we have. The physical needs are thankfully very few. At this point we will just make do with what we have since finances are thin. But should you hear of someone giving away a changing table or a dresser, we would be so grateful. We don't mind second-hand. Here's an Amazon list of items that would be so useful. Currently we have one dresser for three children and thus most of their clothing is in messy piles on the floor of our bedroom.

clothing, diapers, toys, a mess
We truly need your prayers most of all. My husband's job needs him back already. He actually went back on Sunday to his part-time job. On Monday he had to return to his full-time job as well, and if you don't mind me being honest here, I was not ready for that. I was in tears the entire day and I lost my patience with my older boys on multiple occasions. I thought he had more time off. I didn't even need him to actually do anything, but I just needed him there. I felt abandoned. Having anyone else there would not have made a difference. I needed him and because of his job situation he was not able to be there for me. My biggest prayer request is for my husband to get a better job. One that allows him adequate time off to care for his wife and family. As it is, he leaves for work around 6:30AM and returns from his second job around 10:30-11PM. He has Saturday off. We don't get to go to church together. I don't remember the last time he physically attended service. I usually go alone and then will watch the recorded sermon with him the next available time he has.

If he had a better job that let him get home at a decent hour, I would be able to go to the grocery store. We only have one car and getting to the store is a chore that my husband either does solo or waits until Saturday. So, again, please pray for a better job for my husband. Also, it would just be nice to see him.

After my oldest was born, I struggled a lot with postpartum depression, PPD. I was not surrounded by loving or kind people and it took me a long time to even realize why I struggling so much. While it's normal to get a bit emotional as hormones drastically change post-birth (known as "baby blues"), I hope to not go through that again. I currently have moments that I recognize as baby blues. Please pray that this would not develop into PPD. Also, another hormonal change occurs during nursing referred to as D-MER. D-MER, for me, has been easy to treat as long as I can get to the grocery store to buy the healthy foods (like bananas) I should be eating. So, that brings me back to having my husband home just so I can use the car to get the food we need. If it weren't so frustrating, it'd be comical! Please pray D-MER doesn't steal my joy and that my baby blues would pass soon.

Baby Holly and I need strength and health. I've taken very little acetaminophen since the birth. An unmedicated birth allowed my body to do what it was designed to do and the physical healing has been going very well (as opposed to the medicated births I did with the other babies). I needed a lot of medication after the other babies were born, but didn't even need a single dose this time until over 24 hours after she had arrived! But if I push myself into doing chores, like I did today, I end up in a lot of pain. Please pray that I would behave and that my pain would go away. Also, we need to be surrounded by loving people who desire to be helpful and not just thrust their selfish desires on us. Pregnancy is a long journey where Mama sacrifices her physique, emotions, eating habits, physical abilities, and exercise habits all with the loving goal to one day see her child and hold her in her arms. Labor is laborious. Any mother who has gone through labor should be able to tell you that but it is possible that some forget. Labor is hard and difficult and draining. Labor is especially difficult if done unmedicated, or even mostly unmedicated. Delivery is difficult but joyous. All this sacrificing is finally going to pay off and Mama will be able to hold Baby! For the next few days, Mama isn't supposed to do anything so to allow her insides to heal. For the next few weeks, as many as 6 and sometimes more, Mama is encouraged to do as little as possible. Her job is to hold her baby. Please pray that those around us would support us and love us as we gain our strength and health back. The most joyous part of childbearing is the children! I love my children. I enjoy being around them. They give me strength. Having them around me builds me up. I realize that not everyone sees children in this light. I can understand why so many people offer to take "these burdens" off my hands thinking either because they're just so burdensome or so I can clean. But since I love my kids and am energized by them, taking them away tears parts of my soul away. I don't depend on them for my happiness. I depend on God. But for as long as God has given these children to me, I wish for them to stay with me. Please don't offer to take my kids away; that is not helpful. If you truly want to be helpful I have a list of household chores that you can help with! I don't have the energy for them and Felipe doesn't have the time.

Finally, pray for my boys. Change isn't always easy. My boys love their sister dearly. They love to give her kisses and have never tried to hurt her. I can see how torn my younger son is though when he wants to still be the baby and be able to cuddle with Mama the closest. And now here's this new baby who gets to sit in Mama's lap all the time but he loves her and wants her to be happy too. So he usually snuggles next to me now and is being incredibly adorable about it. He's found his toy duck that he calls his baby. And he comforts his baby and sleeps near his baby and worries about his baby. My older son has taken to acting out (mostly just fits of tears) when he doesn't get his way. I think it comes from not getting enough attention, also he is a toddler and this behavior is normal for his age. I believe firmly that each of my children NEEDS attention and I am actively trying to make sure that my own selfish pursuits do not get in the way of the calling on my life, that is, motherhood. Once again, if my husband had a better job, he could come spend more time with these children who love him. And perhaps if my husband had a better job, I could quit mine, because yes, even with three little ones age 3 to newborn, and while being a stay-at-home mother and homeschooling them, I still have a part-time job that I have already returned to as well as working with the special needs children at church on Sundays.

You can see that we're not lazy. We're not saintly either though - both my husband and I do quite a bit of complaining to God. We complain but are still grateful for everything God has done for us. We understand that even having four jobs between the two of us is a huge blessing that not many families have. We've had three healthy pregnancies and three beautiful children to show for it. Other blessings include my three year old FINALLY being completely potty trained the Monday before Holly was born (I was not looking forward to three children in diapers). Even finding this house that, although far away from everything we do, is very large and cheaper than renting in the city, is another huge blessing. We have food and clothing and with that we are learning contentment (I Timothy 6:8).

Thank you for joining us in prayer.

Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
    give me neither poverty nor riches;
    feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
    and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal

    and profane the name of my God. Proverbs 30:8-9

Thursday, December 12, 2013

in which a child is born

Nut shell version, tl/dr:
Edit 12/18 to include links to appropriate references and for clarity. Also to include this link of prayer requests and other needs. Thank you for reading.

I’ve been trying to think how to write this story. This is by far the most amazing thing to happen to me (aside from salvation) and looking at all the details leading to this event it is obvious that God was very much orchestrating it and sending his messengers to deliver key points of help along the way. I don’t know which details to share and which will only be relevant to me. SOO, first the nutshell version then the information overload version.

I was in labor and had not progressed very far. So I went home. Thinking I was still not very far along I stayed home too long. I got in the bath to ease the discomfort when out popped a baby! 

A month ago I had 30 hour “practice labor”, as I’ll call it. It did not fool me one bit since the same thing happened with Caleb two weeks before he was born. But this did make think that Holly was only two weeks away. The next week though I had some very strange contractions that lasted very long, almost 2 minutes and were four minutes apart. Those of you who have not been through labor, that’s weird. They shouldn’t last that long. I remember thinking it was especially odd because after a couple of regular ol’ contractions I felt the baby fall over. It was a kind of popping. Something was wrong and I went to my birthing center, All About Babies in Argyle, Texas. 

My normal midwife was still at home so Lincey checked me out (this was my first time meeting her). Sure enough, something was wrong. Despite being told “don’t freak out”, I of course was freaking out. Holly had fallen transverse. She had previously been properly oriented from the beginning. Transverse means she was lying with her back parallel to the ground in a kind-of hammock position. She was not comfortable there and kept trying to get back into position. I was shown some techniques to encourage her to get back into position from but when I did them she would *almost* get into position and then fall transverse again. At one point she was completely breech. [She was just sitting there and I felt my tummy and could feel the details of her face. I imagine she was thinking, “huh. How’d I get here?” before she frantically tried to swim back downward. haha!] In my opinion, breech is better than transverse because at least she can be born in that position. 

Oh, and a transverse baby cannot be born. It’s death or c-section. 

I have never been to a chiropractor. But my midwife insisted that I go to one down in Burleson…took forever to get there in the middle of rush hour the next evening. I was over an hour late and strangely that was perfect timing because all her other patients showed up an hour early for whatever reason. The receptionist assured me that God’s timing was better than our own. That was very comforting to hear at such a time as that.

So while visiting this chiropractor, she let me know that my sacrum was “messed-up”. Well, after over two decades of abuse from ballet and contortionist work, that was no surprise! She adjusted it, and Holly magically swam right back with her head down. It was incredible and I wouldn’t have believed it except that it happened to me. Something was in the way and the chiropractor got it out of the way. 

The next week starting on Monday for an entire week I had false labor all day every day. This was the two week mark, but still no baby. Instead of driving to Burleson, I saw a new chiropractor (Jessica Martin) in Argyle at an office very near my birthing center. Her job was to make sure my messed-up sacrum stayed in place! And she did! Also Thanksgiving was that week! The next week was uneventful except that the forecast showed a horrible ice storm coming to northern Texas that would last all the way through Holly’s due date of December 8. 

We’ve had forecasters be terribly wrong in the past. While I was excited to see some snow, I was prepared for disappointment. I went to my prenatal appointment on Wednesday and was talking about the latest sermon series at church (Free Indeed series at Gateway Church) and some events that had recently occurred when my midwife, Joni, a member of my church, suggested I pray through the house and speak out any evil spirits living there. Well, despite that being too spiritual for some of my readers, I did just that. And I felt like the entire house was now lying under a banner of peace and love, protected by the blood of Jesus. And I spoke out any oppressing spirits in my personal life as well as the boys’ lives. Specifically I spoke out against the Spirit of Anxiousness and the Spirit of Fear. I was immediately filled with peace and an acceptance and understanding that no matter what happened, it would be okay because my goal in life is not to have health, wealth, and “perfection”, but rather to glorify God. And if that means something that seems horrifically bad happening, then I wanted to be okay with that. Since then I have had thoughts that would have sent me into worry-mode but with the Peace of God surrounding my heart I was able to dismiss those thoughts and continue living with joy. 
Looking down our street this week.

And the very next day we had several inches of ICE covering everything. 

It looked like snow, but wasn’t nearly as fun. People died just outside our neighborhood on I-35 and others got stuck for 10-20 hours. Felipe missed work two days in a row. I was surprised the ice lasted that long. Saturday I had some contractions and told Felipe that if Holly tried to come after sundown, we’re just going to have her here, on our own because surely that would be safer than trying to navigate in the dark on the ice. I said, “If Sacagawea could do it in the middle of nowhere, I can do it in my clean house with running, hot water and electricity. You know Lewis and Clark didn’t help her.” How hard could it be? (those of you who don’t recall history class:

Holly’s due date came and went and the ice stuck around. It is still here as I write this a week since it came. I had a prenatal appointment that we moved to Tuesday because Monday was too difficult to navigate still. I tried to coincide a chiropractor visit but couldn’t due to no availability on their end. 

My mother and I went to Sam’s Club afterward because my family really needed a few grocery items after being stuck at home for an entire week. While there, my water broke. Or maybe it was just the “fore-water” breaking. In either case my denim jeans were soaked through. It felt gross, yes, but with it being so cold no one could see anything as I was wearing a longer jacket! I thought it was amusing. I wasn’t excited because I have read of several women who went weeks after their water breaking before giving birth. I thought for me, it would be by the weekend. 

That evening Caleb, my 3 year old, decided to fall asleep around 4 or 5 and then woke up at about midnight. I was so tired. I let him watch a marathon of Kipper while I slept. He’d wake me between episodes to press play for him and get him water or a snack. I was exhausted. Contractions started around 2AM. It was slow going, but I could tell this was going to lead to real labor.

I texted (or called, I don’t remember) Joni, my midwife, and asked if she thought I should get into the chiropractor and she answered with a resounding, “YES!” I called right away and got an appointment for 10AM. Minutes after the adjustment was done labor started. I was still functioning, and was in good spirits. Between contractions, I felt like I could go swing dancing, and during contractions I couldn’t even look at anyone. This was the first time the boys had been out in over a week so we took them to Chik-fil-a to eat and play. 

Somehow word got back to my parents that I was in labor, which I wasn’t prepared to tell anyone yet. But it worked out just as well because they were able to come get the boys and Felipe and I were able to go for a walk around Target. Then we headed home for a nap because we knew we had a long day ahead of us. We knew so little.

After our naps we headed out to walk around the mall. It’s closer to the birthing center and the maternity jeans that I was wearing were really uncomfortable during contractions. I thought maybe I could find a skirt to labor in and Felipe was looking for a hat. -useless information for you. Everyone at the mall had some opinion on how we should procede with our laboring. Some man who thought he was an expert after two kids let us know that we should be at the hospital already because they come so quick. Well, unfortunately every woman, baby, and pregnancy is different and there is no way to magically predict how long a labor will be. Thanks for your advice, strange man at the mall. (There was one lady who let us know we were doing things exactly right and she should know after SEVEN children. Yes, strange lady, you sound more like an expert than any man especially one with only 2 kids.) 

At this point, I was doubtful we were very far along. We decided to go to the birthing center and check for dilation and effacement (seeing if labor was progressing). If I was at 5cm, we’d stay. Anything less meant we’d go home. I was at a 2-3cm. I was still in good spirits. Contractions were difficult but labor in general was almost enjoyable due to my terrific preparatory class, Birth Bootcamp ( and my amazing midwife who I want to be just like when I grow up. I even commented that I could keep this up for quite awhile! 

If only things had stayed so “easy”.

Around 11:30PM I felt like I was dying. I was crying. I couldn’t control anything. I wasn’t able to do what I knew had to be done to get through contractions. I wanted to die. Felipe called Joni so she could give me some help. She told me to get Felipe involved and communicate with him on how I needed help. Felipe was amazing. He was so helpful and did exactly what I needed him to do. I am so lucky to have him by my side! During labor a mother is often not thinking clearly and it is understandable that I would need to tell Felipe to tell me to relax into a contraction. It’s weird how I would tell him to tell me that and then I would immediately forget as soon as a contraction hit and he would tell me and I would relax and the contractions went by. At some point I thought, “ok, I’ve got this.” And I let him go back to sleep. Almost immediately I was right back to dying. 

[edit to add: For the month leading up to the birth I had been having visions of my younger son helping me through parts of my labor. I dismissed it as ridiculous but remembered the joy those visions gave me. If we had been at the birthing center, he would not have been able to help me. Since I was at home, he woke up after we called Joni and he found me in tears on the sofa. He came to me, petted me, and hugged me. He helped me through some of my hardest contractions. I can't explain why it was helpful. Maybe he has the gift of Healing, or maybe it was his love and gentleness that helped release dopamine. There was one contraction that I needed to push him aside for, but right after it was over I embraced him again and he fell asleep while labored on. His touch, although nothing special by themselves, were special because they were from the abundance of love overflowing from his heart.]

For 3 hours I suffered and cried and knew something was wrong. I was hoping it was just gas. But every time I went to the loo, I felt like [tmi warning, stop reading now] I was going to develop and pop a hemorrhoid. Then I was hot. No, I was cold. Was this the infamous “transition” period? Around 3AM I needed relief. I got Felipe to wake up and drive me around. The car vibrations were soothing to my aching body. I was finally able to sleep while Felipe drove. For about 45 minutes we drove around until I was back to dying. (I knew I wasn’t actually dying though.) 

I thought, “I need an epidural. I should go to the hospital. I’ll call Joni and let her know. No, if I call her she’ll talk me out of it. I’m not strong enough for this. I’ll just go to the hospital and tell her afterward. No, I can’t do that, she’ll be too sad. And that’s really expensive. Besides I hate hospitals and Ob-Gyns, unless there’s an actual emergency.”

I texted her to say that contractions were 45-50 sec long about 2 min apart. I was in horrible pain. Something must be wrong. She said to come in and we’ll figure it out.

Felipe couldn’t keep his eyes open. We were parked outside our house in the ice with the engine running. We decided Felipe should nap for 10-15 minutes and then we’d drive. Joni suggested I take a hot bath to try to combat the pain.

We went inside thinking Holly was just in a weird position that was causing me pain. Felipe filled the tub with water. It took FOREVER! Meanwhile I got on several of my private Facebook groups begging for prayer because surely I was dying. To get me through contractions I sang, “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, help me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.” And then I’d have a break. And repeat. 

Finally the bath was filled and right when I was about to step in I felt the baby turn and drop. Someone must have seen my request and been praying for me! Praise God! This will help the contractions. But no. Contractions were much, much worse. 

At this point I knew what it was - gas. [it was not gas] Lots of gas building pressure and needing to be released. So I tried to release it. My body started rocking back and forth from hands to knees. I felt two Angels come beside me and remind me of what human anatomy looks like. They reminded me of the key points of how to deliver a baby in an emergency when no care provider is near. They were my doulas. Felipe was asleep on the floor near the bath. I told him, “The baby is coming!” And he said, “oh so we should get in the car.” and I responded, “NO! She’s crowning!” I could feel her head. It was a really difficult position for me with this giant belly in the way. But I felt it. Felipe stepped out of the room [edit for clarification: he went to get the phone to call Joni again]. I was so filled with peace and incredulous giddiness. I had fantasized about this scenario. It was just how I dreamt. There was no pain at this point. The actual delivery was pain-free. I had even half-thought earlier that I didn’t feel like driving all the way to the birthing center again and maybe I would just have the baby at home. ha! When Felipe came back in, I had delivered the baby! It was seconds long! Only 3-4 pushes and there she was! I had a bulb syringe prepared for the ice-storm emergency situation. It was still there and I told Felipe to grab it and hand it to me.

She was blueish purple and not crying. So I frantically sucked out her nostrils. Then her mouth. Then her mouth again. And again. And I rubbed her back. And blew in her face. She finally made a squeak. What a relief! I started nursing her and we just waited. I didn’t know what else to do.

Turns out this was all perfectly normal for a water birth. I did not know that. When a baby goes from amniotic fluid to air the shock makes them gasp, open their lungs, and cry. But when they have such a gentle transition from amniotic fluid, to warm water, to air, they take their time. It’s normal for babies to be that color even. Just not to stay that color. She was covered in vernix and meconium. It was gross looking. The bath was just fine when she initially emerged. But by the time the midwife team showed up, it-was-disgusting! haha! They’re used to it. 

not the most glamorous shots of mama

Felipe had Joni on speaker phone and she was saying stuff I couldn't quite hear and giving directions on how to deliver the placenta if it started coming.

Lincey and Adria (an intern) showed up first. And went to work taking vitals etc. Joni showed up (with her baby!) a little while later. We moved over to the bed to deliver the placenta. That was surprisingly uncomfortable. Lincey stitched my 1st degree tear, which is the smallest degree. That hurt even with the local anesthetic. Felipe cut the non-pulsating cord. My tailbone hurts a little from sitting in the tub for so long, but I haven’t taken any medicine! It is interesting that after my other two medicated births I needed medicine and a lot of it afterward. But this has been the easiest labor and delivery of the three.

Holly's cord knotted lying across my belly. 
When Holly came out her umbilical cord was draped fashionable around her shoulders like a shawl and across her chest and down around her thigh in a loop. There was even a knot in the cord. With all her acrobatics in the womb, it was no wonder that she’d be so tangled in her cord! If this had happened with either of the other two babies I would have thought it was bad, but Joni had just told me a story of another baby born with the cord wrapped around him several times and it was fine and normal. Just a random story that was actually God’s way of preparing me for what would happen the next day.

She was born at 4:50 - precisely the time that my old friend Jerrica Watts Snyder saw my post and prayed for me. Thank you, friend. You prayed my baby into this world. And I’m so thankful to everyone who was praying for me and those of you who are still praying for me. I am so grateful and encouraged by all the facebook posts and messages. You have all helped me feel very loved!

She was 20.75 inches long and weighed 8 lbs 13 ounces. I forget her head circumference. She was 40 weeks and 5 days along.

Her cry is more like a whimper and much easier to listen to than the boys’ war cries of injustice. And she has a head of hair that surprised us considering our other two were bald little monkeys. 

Joni put me on strict bed rest for 3 days, which is different than the other providers I had. They just said to take it easy. Joni is coming back to the house to give me a follow up. (I’d like to see a doctor willing to do that.) 

Basically, it was the most horrible and exciting and wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. What just happened? I was alone in the bathtub and delivered my own baby. I just can’t believe it. I’m so grateful for Felipe’s help throughout labor. I am amazed. This has been a spirit-filled experience. I can see the premonitions and fortuitous conversations were divinely orchestrated. 

Everyone around me became so self-centered when my other babies were born without thought of mama or baby. But this was my ideal birth experience - by myself, without pressure, focussed. God heard the request of my heart and granted it. Sometimes he just leaves me in awe.
Each pregnancy, labor, and delivery gets easier with each baby! Maybe we'll have ten!

She tries to smile at Dada but it only reaches her eyes so far. Very adorable!

Look at that curly hair!

Ah, so peaceful!

Her shirt is of Seuss Whovians with "Sweetie" across it. Whoville must be on Gallifrey.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

self rebuke and musings on my parenting

The other day I was at Aldi (a grocery store, for future reference) when I saw myself reflected in another mother. This mother was obviously stressed and speaking sharply at her 9ish and 12ish -year old daughters. They were "helping" and making things take two and three times as long by taking things off the shelf that the mother didn't want and she'd have to put it back etc. It happens all the time with every child, and every parent understands the annoyance (luckily my kids put M&Ms in the cart and then I say "ooo! good idea" lol).

Perhaps this mother was under an unusual time crunch or just needed to pee (heehee, I've been there!). Her girls took her shortness in stride acting very accustomed to her sharpness of tone. But the whole scene made me feel sorry for the mother and ashamed of the times I spoke harshly to my own boys. Especially this made me feel bad because my boys are 2 and 3 years old and not 9 and 12.

I am a very lazy parent, which is only exasperated by the constant fatigue of pregnancy. And I have decided that I don't want to be this mother in ten years. I'd rather have my boys fill my cart with items I have to then return to the shelf than to speak to them in a manner so condescending (this mother didn't say anything mean to her kids; it was all in her tone). I wouldn't speak to an adult that way (except my husband, and now that I realize that, I'll have to work on that too) no matter how troublesome they were being so I shouldn't speak to my child that way either.

I wondered if they lady was embarrassed by the number of items and the number of times she had to tell her child to stop. Maybe she felt that the others shoppers were judging her. I don't think anyone was even paying attention to her. She just happen to be in front of me. Every time I lazily think I should just yell or spank my kid into submission I'm reminded of this lady. And it breaks my heart. In general I dislike spanking anyway. I always feel horrible after I yell or spank or otherwise handle a discipline situation incorrectly. So I had to stop and ask myself, "Why do you keep doing things this way if you're just going to feel bad about it afterward?"

Do I want to discipline my children or punish them? Discipline takes time and effort and is not for the lazy parent. Punishing a child for acting like a child is easy and simple: just yell or hit. (I do believe there exist the possibility of spanking in an appropriate setting; but I also believe that usually parents are just punishing instead of disciplining when they do spank. This is an entire different subject and I don't feel like getting into it. Chances are you have already made up your mind one way or another, anyway.)

I like to explain myself to my kids. Even if they don't understand it trains them to know that they deserve to be treated like a person and it trains me to see them as a human-being and not just the larva stage of becoming a human.

Then I read this article: 10 Commandments for Parents: Forsaking All Others. That was icing on the cake, as the saying goes. What commitment do we make to our children? We are in covenant with our spouses. But we don't even have a contract with our children. Perhaps some kind of ceremony is in order. I don't know what my husband would think of that. I don't think our children need to be committed to us in the way that we should be committed to them. They have "honor your father and mother" and I have witnessed that as long as parents do a good job, their children will honor them. But if parents are embarrassed by their children then the children will respond to that.

Do I value other adults and their opinions above my children?

Do I value whatever activity I'm doing more than my children?

What has God called me to do?

Monday, October 7, 2013

my little angry birds

Finding a Halloween costume for a child can be quite the adventure. When there are two children, it only doubles the adventure.

We've searched for acceptable costumes in many locations, but the boys would have none of them. Finally, though, after my son requested that I play Angry Birds just so he could watch those foul fowl fly I decided to ask the boys if they wanted to be Angry Birds for Halloween..."YEAHHHH!" and here they are:

this is actually not related to anything Halloween, but obviously Angry Bird related

And then they exchanged costumes:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

ftd fail with a happy ending

Dear FTD Flowers,

My loving husband decided to send me a half dozen chocolate covered strawberries. At the last minute we were called out of town to visit my husband's grandfather who's death is imminent. Two days before the scheduled delivery my husband made the appropriate change of delivery time via YOUR website using YOUR available options. After we had already left THE NEXT DAY he got an email saying you were unwilling to change the delivery time. So on Monday we got 6 rotten, unrefrigerated strawberries waiting for us. My husband contacted you to fix your mistake and he is still waiting for a reply. I am hopeful that you will make this right. I am hopeful that even a big company like you still cares about individual customers. I am hoping that your customer support is not as rotten as those strawberries I received from you but is instead actively trying to fix this problem. I am hopeful that we will be able to use you in the future. We will see. We can only work with helpful and honest companies. 

Lauren Mulford

Since writing the above to my customer service representative at FTD, a beautiful and delicious new set of strawberries arrived at my door and they were amazing! Apparently FTD tried to get UPS to not ship it, but there was miscommunication and it was too late for UPS. I'm really grateful for how things ended. I was close to tears about getting rotten ones originally (I blame the pregnancy). I really like FTD so I was very glad for how they handled things. 

And so the strawberries lived happily ever after covered in chocolate living in my belly...

milk, white, and dark chocolate covered strawberries

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

groupon and the movers....(my bad experience with Groupon)

My husband and I are really big Groupon users. We have modeled our spending around what we expect Groupon is going to offer. It was really useful with our impending move to our new house to have a Groupon for Movers show up! With me being pregnant and Felipe working all the time, it seemed like a good idea to Felipe to get the Groupon.

Before I purchased I called to verify everything and get in writing what we would be charged for extra and hidden fees. In the fine print it said "DFW metroplex" and those of you from this area know that sometimes Denton county is considered in and sometimes not. It just depends on the company. Since we are moving from one Denton city to another Denton city this was very relevant information. So I wrote an email and got this reply stating that there would only be a fuel charge:



I copied/pasted that from the email verbatim. Yes, she replied in all caps. Notice that last line that says there is only a fuel, stair, and heavy item fee. I called to confirm that Denton county would be covered and Brandi stated that it was and she looked up our new city and calculated the fuel charge ($120). I gave her our exact address. She has no excuse for not knowing from where to where we were moving.

We bought the groupon which included 2 movers and a truck for 2 hours.

When I called to schedule the Movers to come, the New Lady (I didn't get her name, but not Brandi) answered the phone and said since we were in Denton County there's an AUTOMATIC 30 min fee (that comes to $47.50) attached to the final price. I asked if that meant that since we purchased 2 hours, it would have to be done in 1 and 1/2. She said that no it is an additional fee. I would have been okay if we had just less time. But she was telling me that that wasn't even an option. When I asked why this hidden fee wasn't disclosed at the beginning, she said that Brandi is "in training" and I said that perhaps they shouldn't be letting someone who is in training handle their business affairs. So instead of sticking with their original position, they decided that they are not a company of integrity and are not trustworthy and will lie and cheat to be able to get more money from you. AND GROUPON HAS DECIDED TO STICK WITH THEM.

I contacted Groupon about the above situation and here is their reply:

Hi Lauren,
Sorry for any trouble with this deal.
On the original screen where you made this purchase,, we included a "Fine Print" section in the middle of the page just below the image. This section will always include all conditions of the deal that you should know before making your purchase.
In this case, the restriction in question is:
"Valid only within Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex."
I was able to speak with the business to confirm this, and they said they would have been very clear that Denton is outside of this area and an $80 fee would be charged. I apologize if there was any miscommunication.
I'm sorry to hear this will keep you from using your Groupon. However, since this restriction was included in the deal's Fine Print at the time of your purchase, I am not able to issue a refund past 7 days from the purchase date. Don't forget, you can always give a Groupon away as a gift (unless the Fine Print indicates otherwise) if you can't use it yourself.
Please let me know if you have any other questions or if there is anything else I can do to help.
Taylor B.
Groupon Customer Support

Groupon has decided that since The Movers lied to me, it is my fault. I figured Groupon must not understand. Even though I called and spoke with a Groupon customer service rep and explained everything, I figured she must not have passed along all the information. I re-wrote them hoping that with all the information they would come to a different position. 

Notice how Taylor says "they would have been very clear...and an $80 fee would be charged." I dislike it that Groupon is siding with such a shady company. Surely, if they knew they would not. 

Here is my reply to Taylor at Groupon:

I feel that you do not have all the information. If you did you would not have replied the way you did. 
Before purchasing I personally contacted the Movers and asked is they considered Sanger in Denton county part of the "DFW metroplex". If you are familiar with the Dallas area at all, you would know that some companies do consider it part while others do not. I explained this to the customer service rep I spoke to in the phone yesterday from Groupon. The lady I spoke with at the Moving company said there would only be a fuel charge. I was okay with that. When I called to schedule the move the new lady ADMITTED THE "MISTAKE" under the claim that the person I was in original contact with was "in training". She was not willing to uphold the original deal and essentially lied. Furthermore you, Taylor, are telling me that they are now charging an extra $80 whereas when I contacted them yesterday it was only $47.50. Do you see how dishonest this company is? Do you see why we are so uneasy trusting our valuables in their hands?
If you can't resolve this we will have to use them and stop using Groupon altogether. We have enjoyed our experience with you over the years and it would be a shame to have to let you go over something like this. But we can only work with companies that are trustworthy.
I will let you try to resolve this issue now that you have all the information. I would hate to have to share how unhelpful Groupon customer service has been 

We have not used the Movers yet. It would be a simple matter for Groupon to simply understand what the situation is and refund us the Groupon price. Even if they did so in the form of a gift-card that could only be used with Groupon, that would be acceptable since we use Groupon so regularly. I am very surprised at Groupon's position in this. I am a loyal customer that they are about to lose forever over one deal. I hope now that Taylor has all the information, I will be able to update this with good news.

Stay tuned...

UPDATE: Groupon IS the company I knew it was with integrity and respect. Once everything was fully explained, I received this reply:

Hi Lauren,
I'm really sorry for the trouble and miscommunication here. I've just issued a $89 refund in Groupon Bucks to your account. This credit will be available for you to use shortly, and you'll receive an email as soon as it has processed.
Groupon Bucks apply automatically to future purchases and never expire. You can see your balance in the top right corner of the page when signed into your account at
Thanks so much for using Groupon and please let me know if I can do anything else for you.
Taylor B.
Groupon Customer Support

Thursday, September 19, 2013

einstein's riddle

I came across this riddle of Einstein's on Pinterest the other day:

The claim is that 98% of the world could not solve it. I think that is either an exaggeration or at the least misleading. There's no way my kids could solve it because they don't understand English. So, if they are included, then maybe the percentage makes sense. But if by "world" it means adults with no retardation, than I just can't believe that's true. This problem take less time to solve than to watch a sitcom on Netflix. I will take you through it. Why? I can't think of a good reason. It just sounded fun.

I was sick when I figured this out:
I had a sick baby in my lap and a sick baby sleeping behind me:

We did do some cute shots though because we don't want people to think of us as ugly:

He's not exactly awake, just really cute.

Before we get to the riddle, do you know anything about solving a matrix?

No, not that Matrix.

Like Freshman High School Algebra matrix. Khan can help you with that. But it doesn't matter if you know it or not, it's just helpful.
Too scary and painful?

Matrices are too scary. But how about Sudoku? That's easy enough, right? Some of them, anyway. Here's an 'easy' one from some sudoku site:
Takes about 3 minutes, right?

Ok, that was the build-up. Let's take a look at Einstein. It is very similar to solving a matrix that a 12 year old can solve or a sudoku puzzle that your grandmother solved that one time. Take a moment and read the entire thing (or don't, it's not like I can tell). And then stop and think, "There is an answer. If I feel like solving it, I can. If Lauren did it, then every idiot should be able to."

There are 5 house in 5 different colors.
And we stop. We get a piece of paper and write down every color that was mentioned.
Too lazy? Fine, I'll do it for you:

In each house lives a person with a different nationality.
Again take a moment and write down each nationality mentioned.

The fiver owners drink a certain type of beverage...

smoke a certain brand of cigar...
Pall Mall

and keep a certain pet...

There's no overlap. It's straight forward. No tricks. Who owns the Fish?

You are given a bunch of hints and if you place them in a matrix, the pieces fall into place.

Oh, right, matrices (plural of matrix) are scary. We'll just place the info in rows and columns...

Start off by building little houses at the top of your page. Mine looked exactly like circles with numbers in them:

The numbered 'houses' are your first set of data...I mean, information...I mean, hints. It's just hints, nothing scary like data or even information. Just hints. Hint 1: there are five houses. How many houses? 5. Good job! That's right! So far, you're doing very well.

-The Brit lives in the RED house. 
Okay, we can't do anything with this piece of information. YET. We will be able to use this HINT in a little while.
-The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
Again, we'll just hold onto this piece of information HINT until we can use it.

We keep going until we come across:
-The man in the center house drinks milk.
Mmm, milk. Hopefully he has some cookies to go along with all that milk. And we update our Hint Sheet. Or "cheat sheet" if you prefer:
Then we read the rest of the HINTS. Are any of them immediately useful? Which one(s)?
-The Norwegian lives in the first house.

I can't believe they just gave away answers like that. Maybe a lot of my high school math class problems were just reading the entire problem all the way to the end?

Reading all the way through to the end, we can see that no more information is that easy. So we re-read everything looking for other hints that include "milk" or "Norwegian". 
-The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
There's no trick about it:

I think you could have gotten here on your own. The next step requires some thinking.
We note that that 
Brit and Red go together.
Dane and Tea.
GREEN is to the Left of WHITE.
scribbled notes on my paper indicating G (green) to the left of W (white)

You notice how one set is in one row and another set is in another row. Nothing else is in either row. And these hints are at the bottom of the page to remind me that I don't know which is correct YET.

I need more hints that eliminate bad data.
-The green homeowner drinks coffee.
That means that if Green went with #3, he'd be drinking MILK, so Green must actually go with #4, and therefore White goes with #5:

I'm glad we didn't panic or give up. The easy hint was the very next clue! I would have felt so stupid. Also, notice how we were able to include "coffee" in the matrix drink row.
Are there any more hints concerning color?
-The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
Not useful yet. But what else is said about Dunhill?
-The man who keeps the horse lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.
Not too useful either.

Since that didn't work out I start making possibility association in rows. Like what I did with white/green.
For instance, starting at the top, Dane and Tea go together and they can only go under #2 or #5. So I would make a row with just that hint. But since Swede and Dog (the next hint) could go in many places, I don't write them anywhere, yet.
Why can Dane/Tea only go under #2 or #5?
Dane can't go in #1 because Norwegian is already there. But Tea can't go under #3 or #4 because milk and coffee are already in those places. That leaves only #2 and #5. It looks like this:

Pall Mall and Birds go together, but that info could go with any house right now. So I put it nowhere.

-The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
I can't do too much, but I can make a possibility row:

Notice it gets it's own row. All to itself. No sharing.
Keep reading.

-The man who keeps the horse lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.
That means that if Dunhill is #1, the Horse is #2, and if Dunhill is #3, then Horse is either #2 or #4:
-The Brit lives in the Red house.

Can you tell me what's wrong with the above pic?
If the Brit is in the red house, and we know the colors of #2, 4, and 5, that leaves us with #1 and #3. But we know that the Brit can't live in #1 because the Norwegian lives there:
But note that since we have 5 colors and 4 filled in, we can automatically know that #1 must be the only color left. YELLOW. And what else do we know that goes with yellow? DUNHILL:
And what else do we know? We know that HORSE goes NEXT to Dunhill...

Starting from the top, again.
-The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
The Swede isn't in #1 or #3, and dogs aren't in #2. So #4 or #5:
Now I just fill in possibilities:
Bluemaster/beer should not be under #1 because dunhill is under #1, my bad.

Kinda messy. Are there ANY eliminations?
I'm just going to guess. Unfortunately, my first guess was correct. I don't know why I guessed correctly.
Let's guess that water goes with #1. I'm going to indicate that this is only a guess by marking it special:
if water goes to #1, then Blend goes to #2. Since Blend is in #2, that means Bluemaster and Prince cannot be...which means Bluemaster's only choice is #5...and Prince's only option is #4. Which also means that Prince and German go together, so German is in #4. Take a breath:

That means, Dane/Tea is #2 and Swede/Dog is #5:
Also, that cats is #1, and Pall Malls/birds is #3:
We read back over every hint. Everything checks out. There's only one problem.
Who owns the fish?

Here are my pages:
Bad first draft. I didn't realize this was 5x5. So I started over:

Let me know if you find something wrong with any of the above.