Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


cash-physical-therapy-willow-tree-home-com-big-letter-eI don’t know how to say this without sounding like I’m bragging so I’ll just come right out and say it: I have the coolest name.

Really, it’s not bragging because I didn’t choose my name; my parents did. (But if we go with that theory that’s like saying, “I’m gorgeous but I’m not bragging because it’s just genetics.”)

The great thing about Elsa is that it’s unusual but not too unusual. You hardly ever run into another Elsa yet it’s spelled just like it sounds and there’s no confusion about the pronunciation. (Well, of course, some people think I’m saying Allison, Elisa or Elsie but that comes with any name.)

I started thinking about this when a friend told me that another friend of hers was considering naming her unborn child Elsa. I said, “Oh, it needs to make a comeback! Well, actually it’s never been popular so I guess it wouldn’t really be a comeback.”

I’m happy that it hasn’t become popular but, on the other hand, I can’t believe it either. Why hasn’t it caught on? I searched it on the Social Security Administration and last year it was the 691st most popular name. Most years it’s in the 700s, 800s or even 900s. Elsa’s best showing was 1915 when it was ranked 392.

When you have a cool name like Elsa, you stand out. People remember you. Another fun thing is that people comment on it. I’d say at least 70% of the time that I introduce myself, the person says, “That’s a pretty name.” How nice is that?

The other day I met a woman who got really excited when I told her my name.  “Oh my gosh,” she said, “That’s my mother’s name! I hardly ever meet anyone named Elsa!” She looked like she was gonna cry. Elsa has that effect on people.

So to the friend of the friend who’s thinking of naming her baby Elsa, this Elsa says you should do it. She’ll be unique and special (although she might have a tendency to brag).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Girl Next Door (or across the street)

Until recently, Leo has always played hard to get when it comes to beautiful, younger and taller Bianca, who lives across the street. She, however, has always been open about her love for him. Her mother tells me that Bianca looks out her window every morning at our house and says, “LeoLeoLeoLeoLeoLeo!” When she would say this to Leo, though, he would shout, “Football Player!!” which means, “Don’t call me Leo. Call me football player.” When she’d come to play he wouldn’t always be the most gracious host either, sometimes even pushing Bianca.

But when we attended story time at Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks ago, Leo decided to go public with his love for Bianca. They played together; Leo didn’t yell “Football Player!” at her and he didn’t push her either. (The two of them did push another child but we dealt with that.) 


They even walked out of the store hand in hand!



Last week Bianca came over to our house for a play date. Leo hugged her and she gave him a head massage:


And Leo even let her come into “his house.”


























I’ll save these pictures because I’m pretty sure that when they’re older, Bianca is going to be way out of his league!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The beast that attacked my forks

On Monday we returned from a trip and the cleaning lady had been here. I already love coming home to a clean house but coming home to a clean house after traveling is awesome! She did a wonderful job and of course I love those shapes she makes out of the toilet paper.

I also noticed that the pantry smelled really clean—like someone had dumped a bunch of dryer sheets in there. Frank noticed it too and also recognized the smell as dryer-sheet fresh. We weren’t sure how she did that but we didn’t really mind it.

The next day I was eating breakfast and I thought my food tasted weird. After some investigating I realized my fork had the same smell as the pantry! I sniffed the rest of the forks in the drawer and they had the same scent. What did this woman do to our forks?

It gets weirder. The spoons, knives and little forks didn’t smell like dryer sheets even though they were in the same drawer as the forks.

So I took all the forks out and put them in the dishwasher. When they came out, the smell was gone.

Oh, but the story continues.

I put the forks back in the drawer and hours later, when I went to use one again, it had the smell. And what’s more, they ALL had it. But again, not the other silverware.

I knew then we were definitely dealing the beast, like the one on Seinfeld that started with a valet and got in Jerry’s car and Elaine’s hair and NOTHING they did would scare the smell away.

Now at least my beast isn’t a really bad smell; it’s just not something you want to taste.

So I figured maybe the cleaning lady wiped down the fork section of the silverware separator with something. I removed all the silverware from the separator and soaked it in soap and water in the sink.

Afterwards it smelled fine and the forks seemed free from the beast after airing out on the counter. But after I put them back in the drawer and eventually tried to use one, you guessed it—the BEAST!!

Oh, how I wish this blog was scratch and sniff so you could smell this not-really-bad-but-weird smell! And if anyone knows how to say “Hey, did you put some weird smelling cleaner in the fork section of my silverware drawer and also in my pantry?” in Portuguese, let me know.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Curious Leo

Leo’s friend John has been curious for awhile. This was a funny exchange I had with him a few weeks ago at his house:


John, pointing to the scar on my forehead, “Do you have a boo boo?”

Me: “Yes.”

John: “Where is your Band-aid?”

Me: “Well, I did have a Band-aid but I don’t need it anymore.”

John: “Where is your Band-aid?”

Me: “It’s not bleeding so I don’t need a Band-aid.”

John: “Where is your Band-aid?”

Me: “Oh, you really want to know where it is! It’s in the trash can.”

John: “Where is the trash can?”

Me: “At my house.”

John: “Where is your house?”

Me: “Right down the street.”

John: “Where?”

Me: “If you look out the window, it’s that way.”

John: “I don’t see your house.”


The whole thing was funny and also made me realize that Leo isn’t really all that curious. He would have just accepted my first answer about not needing a Band-aid. Leo overheard me telling the story a few days later and I guess felt inadequate about his own lack of curiosity because ever since, he tries to re-enact the exchange I had with John.


Leo: “Mommy, where is your Band-aid?”

Me: “In the trash can.”

Leo, giggling: “Where is your house?!”


But then, a couple of weeks ago, Leo started asking questions on his own. Now he’s like an interrogator.


Leo: “I want to eat eggs!”

Me: “We’re all out of eggs.”

Leo: “Why?”

Me: “We ate them all.”

Leo: “Why?”

Me: “Well, we were hungry and we ate the eggs so I’m going to go to the store to buy more today.”

Leo: “Why are you going to the store?”

Me: “Because we’re out of food.”

Leo: “Why are we out of food?”

Then I found myself going into this whole monologue about how we buy food, eat it and then go buy some more. It was quite fascinating!


Leo also repeats the the last part of everything we say in the form of a question.

“Leo, we’re going to church.”

“We’re going to church?”

“Leo, please don’t take off your diaper and pee pee on the floor.”

“Don’t take off your diaper and pee pee on the floor?”

Sometimes his questions are more vague like, “It isn’t?” “We’re not?” and “We shouldn’t?”

But the point is, he now ends a lot of sentences with question marks. He ends a lot of sentences with question marks?


I don’t have any pictures to illustrate this story so I’ll just leave you with a few snow week ones:


Leo with his hat hair:



John, Etienne and Leo eating pizza on a snowy night


Leo and Frank n the snow


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Writinggal Reports

Consumer Reports is great if you need reviews on tangible products. But what if you want the scoop on customer service? That’s when you come to Writinggal Reports. I don’t know if it’s me (approaching my mid-30s and getting crotchety) or them (retail and service workers just sucking in general) but I have become a customer service stickler. Here, I give you a sample of the good and the oh, so, very bad:

Buy Buy Baby: ***** (That’s five out of five for customer service) This is a new entry into the baby gear market, currently dominated by Babies R Us. Buy Buy Baby, by the way, is owned by another BBB great—Bed, Bath and Beyond. At Babies R Us, the customer service is hit or miss. Sometimes they’re helpful, sometimes they’re not. And in these types of stores you really need help, especially if you’re wandering around with a registry.

At Buy Buy Baby, it’s almost comical how much they help you. When I printed out the registry list, one employee told me, “This yellow paper is like the Bible. If someone sees you holding it, they’re going to ask to help you.” And baby, did they ever! In every single department, an employee asked if I needed help. Sometimes I did and I was glad for their expertise. When I went to check out, the guy behind the register noticed I had gotten the wrong registry item and ran back to get the right one for me!

So now I’m saying, “Bye Bye” (or “Buy Buy”) to Babies R Us.

Kroger: * I get it, Kroger. You want to hire people who may not be able to get jobs elsewhere. That’s very noble of you. The thing is, sometimes I can’t tell who legitimately has a learning/communication/interaction issue and who is just an idiot. Take this lady who was bagging my groceries the other day. I handed her all my bags, including the insulated one. I told her, “Don’t feel like you have to put the cold stuff in that bag. You can just put anything in any bag cause I’m just going right home.” Her response? NOTHING. She didn’t respond at all. So I said, “You know what I mean? I just didn’t want you to feel like you had to bother separating out the cold stuff.” Again, NOTHING. “Ya know what I mean?” I asked one more time. “Yes, ma’am,” she finally said. Then I look like the b*t%h because it’s like I was trying to get her to say “Yes, ma’am.” I just wanted SOME response. I mean, how can you not say anything? Not even “uh-huh.” I was trying to save her some trouble! And as we know, that’s not my first bad experience with Kroger.

Delta Airlines: ***** When we had all the snow in Atlanta last week I called Delta to see if I could move my flight to the next day. The automated voice told me that there would be a long wait, and if I preferred, I could punch in my number and they would call me back. They even gave me a time: 12-18 minutes. Brilliant! I hung up, went about my business and they called me back within that time. It saved me the trouble of being attached to a phone and getting angry as every minute ticked by. To make matters better, the girl on the phone had a brain and was so helpful. She moved my flight, found seats for Frank, Leo and me to all sit together, and didn’t charge me a thing!

Target: * I’m in the dairy section today and THREE target employees were stocking food as I maneuvered around them in my quest for pimento cheese. I kept thinking one of them would ask if I needed help finding anything. They didn’t. So I asked one of them. She then turned to one of the other stockers and asked him if he knew where the pimento cheese was. He then turned to the third and asked her. She looked for a second and then picked up a block of pepper jack. “No, that’s not pimento cheese,” I said. “I would think it would be right here,” I said and went over to another area of dairy to look, thinking at least one would follow to help me. They didn’t. I said, “Um, well that’s okay,” and they just kept on stocking. Then I said really enthusiastically (and sarcastically), “Thanks so much for all your help!!” They couldn’t have been less helpful unless they didn’t respond at all like the Kroger Krazy. A few weeks ago I had a weird cashier at Target who suddenly said, “I HATE YOU!” while scanning my items. Startled, I said, “Huh?” and then realized she was talking across me to another cashier. What an odd time to have that discussion. Throughout my checkout process, she never offered any pleasantries like, “Hi, how are you doing? Did you find everything okay?” And when I was picking up my bag to go she still didn’t say anything so I said to her, “Thanks! I WILL have a nice day!!”


There you have it. The first round of Writinggal Reports. I’ll continue to serve the public, shopping and judging retail and service workers. And don’t worry, this won’t take away from me being a watch dog for the healthcare industry. They’re still on my radar too. Nobody is safe from Writinggal Reports.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Bigger House Party

If you didn’t see my blog from yesterday read that first.

These pictures were taken on Day 3 of “snowpocalypse.” (We’re now on Day 4.) Since we’re trapped in our neighborhood we’re glad we at least have fun friends to play with. Leo’s buddies braved the ice and snow (some walking uphill in treacherous conditions) to come play. While we had plenty of toys for them to play with and lots of room for them to run around, they chose to hide out in Leo’s “house.” In fact, the first thing John said when he walked in was, “I want to go in the pantry!” This time we gave them flashlights. I was grateful they used them just to shine a light in the house and didn’t beat each other with them. Although I was a little embarrassed when they shined their lights on the crumbs in Leo’s house.


House party host Leo with Bianca, Etienne and John:


Bianca says, “I love being trapped in the house with all the boys!”


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

“Come into my house”

Leo has invented this new game called “Come into my house.” His house is our pantry. He just learned to open doors (a little late with that skill) so he thinks it’s exciting to go in there, close the door and then come out, yelling, “HELLO!!” That would be great if he just wanted to go in and out of the pantry, however, he prefers for someone to come in there with him. “Come into my house,” he says as he drags me by my sleeve. Then I must go in and sit on the stack of paper towels while Leo keeps saying, “It’s dark in here.”

Luckily, John came over yesterday and Leo took HIM into the house. I still played along though:



Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Ottoman Empire

Who was the genius who thought of turning regular old space hogger ottomans into storage devices? It’s brilliant. Every time I look at this “toy box” in Leo’s playroom I think, “That is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.” Now allow me to blog the praises of the storage ottoman:


It looks sleek, classy.

It works in any room.

It’s versatile: a toy box, a holder of bed linens, a coffee table, a place to rest your feet.

It was cheap but it doesn’t look cheap.

It holds stuff.

It hides stuff.


Look at all the toys it holds!


I also really like the smaller, square ones that I see in catalogues. As they say in the descriptions, they’re not only good for storage, but they could also be used for extra seating. (Maybe that would pass for seating in a NYC apartment but down here people prefer seats with backs. Still, it’s nice to have in a pinch.) Look at all those cute little storage ottomans!




And you’ll notice that they even have the awesome extra feature of a tray—a tray! Is there anything these things aren’t good for? Storage, seating, putting your feet up and now holding your cocktail?

I’m really fascinated by anything that can hold/hide stuff. We have this stool in our half bath that has storage and I put Clorox wipes in it. Just today, when I was in the bathroom and wanted to do a quick cleaning and opened the stool to get out the wipes, I thought, “That is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.”

Oops, sorry toy storage ottoman. Love you too!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

You spin me right round

Leo has developed a love of spinning. I’m not talking about the cycle class that I teach or spinning music like a DJ. I mean he just spins in circles. I think this started with all the fun we had on the tea cups at Disney World.



Now he just spins in circles around the living room. I keep telling him that he is going to make himself sick so whenever he spins he says, “I’m getting sick like John!” I didn’t capture that on video because when the camera comes out, all he can say is “CHEESE!”





Changing direction




Sunday, January 02, 2011

Snow Buds

It was a Christmas Miracle—snow in Atlanta for the first time in like, 100-something years. The next day Leo and John’s daddies ran out and bought sleds. Leo and John had so much fun, they can’t wait to use them next time this happens, in another 100-something years.






Puking up Christmas




You know that feeling when you’re really hungry and you can’t imagine being full? You’re waiting for your food at a restaurant and you think, “I’m going to eat every bite of it and then, if I’m still hungry, which I’m sure I will be, I’ll ask my dining companions if they plan to finish their food. If they won’t let me have any, I’ll order more food. I’ll just eat and eat and I’ll never be full!”

And then you start to eat and you think, “This is awesome! But I’m still hungry. I’ll keep eating.” And you eat and eat and finally, you’re full.

Then you realized you ate too much. You’re so full that you want to puke. You look at your empty plate in disgust. “How could I have ever been hungry? I’m so full! I can’t even look at another potato. Don’t even say the word potato, please. I can’t believe I was so hungry! I’ll never eat again!”

Do you ever feel that way?

That is exactly how I feel about Christmas.

Right after Halloween, I thought, “Oh, goodie! It’s almost time for Christmas! There’s Christmas stuff in the stores. When will the easy listening station start playing all-Christmas-all-the-time?”

By Thanksgiving I was super hungry for Christmas. I wanted to get out the decorations before but I held myself back. This year I don’t think we decorated until December 1st. “Oh, I wish Christmas was longer!” I thought. “I’m not going to be ready to take down the decorations January 1st.”

Oh, but I was. I couldn’t get that garland, tree and nativity scene out of here fast enough. We packed it up today and I thought, “Ew, Christmas. How could I ever have been excited about it? I’m ready to get back to what the church calls ‘ordinary time.’” Of course, after we packed it up we keep finding Christmas-ish things. “Yuck! I can’t even look at that glass gingerbread house. Makes me want to puke!”

I’m so grateful the easy listening station went back to ordinary music too.

I did see Valentine’s Day stuff in the store today. So once I puke up Christmas, I’ll be hungry for big hearts filled with assorted mystery candies.