Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Honking Penguins

Did you know that penguins honk? When communicating, penguins make a honking sound, just ask Charlotte. She is my baby penguin.

When Charlotte drew a penguin at just over two years old, we were all in awe.Ever since then, she began her love affair with the flightless birds. I would say she is obsessed with penguins, but she is only three years old- is it possible to have an obsession at such a tender age?

In a year, Charlotte has become far more educated about her feathered friends. She knows all about the penguin habitat and appearances. She know the difference between Emperor Penguins and Molting Kings. Her drawings have vastly gotten more realistic and for age three,these sketches with markers are pretty advanced. Most little girls just draw flowers and bumblebees, but not my penguin obsessed prodigy.

Lately, and by lately, I mean every friggin day for the last few weeks, Charlotte has been pretending that she is a baby penguin. Her imagination is amazing, really vivid and specific in her creative play. Her name is Hatchy because she just hatched from an eggshell. She has flippers, a beak, feathers,

and with her Macaroni Penguin heritage, she has an orange crest with a pink bow. Naturally she puts a bow in her crest. She is not above accessorizing, even as a penguin.

Thankfully, Charlotte is too young to use the google images search. When I found the photo of the Macaroni Penguin for this blog post, I also discovered that Puma makes a sneaker called the Macaroni Penguin Mid- which would just add fuel to the fire over here in penguin land.Oy, could you imagine the horror of these athletic shoes with all of her Chez Ami clothing? Oy Gevalt!

I get to witness penguin parades, penguin parties, and penguin playtime. The honking is non-stop. Charlotte and her penguin alter ego honk honk honk all day long.

Since Penguins eat squid, when I ask Charlotte what she wants for lunch, she answers with squid or sometimes octopus. I never know if she is going to speak or honk. I know this is a phase, but I have had it with honking penguins.

Here is an interview with my pretty penguin:


Someday in the future, I will look back at her penguin-ness with fond memories, but for now, I am ready to bury my head in the igloo and call it a day. Honk Honk.

Penguin Preschool starts in 7 days. Gosh, I sure hope the teacher knows that one honk is yes, and two honks is no. Do you think they will serve shrimp and squid at snack time?



Note to Papa,

DO NOT THINK FOR ONE SECOND THAT IT WOULD BE "CUTE" TO BUY CHARLOTTE THESE SHOES, Do not do it to punish me, do not even go there. If you buy your granddaughter the macaroni penguin puma sneakers you will never see the child again. Ever. Thank you.


Love,
The Queen


Monday, August 30, 2010

Direct T.V. Values New Customers MORE than Existing Customers

We have been Direct Tv customers for more than seven consecutive years. In the cable/Internet/phone service world, that is a long time without switching. You would think that retaining customers would be key to the success of Direct Tv, but I learned today, that Direct TV offers NEW customers better deals than they can offer their current customers. The whole scenario is bass ackwards?

Right now, Direct Tv is running a media blitz (ON THE DIRECT TV CHANNELS) offering 5 months of premium service for FREE when you purchase the ever popular NFL Sunday ticket.They are also throwing in the HD service for life, and HD DVR equipment too. The offer sounded great and since Mitchell has been hocking my chonick non stop about the NFL Sunday ticket, I thought I would surprise him with it.

Since the advertisements are being blasted on Direct Tv, and we are paying to see these ads, it did not occur to me that this offer would not apply to us. The offer is for First Time Customers, not existing customers. I called and shared my disappointment with customer service and explained that they are doing this all wrong. They should be WOW-ing me with promotional deals to keep me, rather than give the best prizes to someone who is new.

I was really pissed off after the call, and thought about how to fix this situation. The Direct Tv bill is in my name, with my cell phone as the account holder information. What if, hypothetically speaking, I cancelled my service, and Jeff Slutsky with a different phone number, signed up as a new customer. Would he get all the fancy bells and whistles? Hmmmmmm, should I monkey around with all of this to save about $300 and make my point?

Instead, I called back and spoke with the customer retention department. This is the call center that tries to save the sale when customers call in to cancel their subscription. I kindly and matter of factly told the agent that I wished to discontinue my Direct Tv programming. She was nice and asked the standard scripted questions. I answered them all, and told her I was upset because a new customer can get more for their money than me, a 7 year loyal account holder. I told her I wanted to cancel so that my husband could get his own service along with all the HD this and DVR that for the NFL Ticket package. I am sure she saw where we were headed and she had to agree with me on the absurdity of the whole thing.

In the end, the customer retention agent offered me a reduced price on the NFL Sunday ticket along with some equipment upgrades, since in 7 years our DVRs are old school. It was not as sweet of an offer as Jeff could have gotten if he were a brand new customer, but I was glad to accept the gesture.

It still bothers me that loyal, paying customers like me are treated like a second class citizen by companies. Direct Tv has it backwards.

Fortunately, the NFL Sunday Ticket will be playing on my HD television, and it will take my mind off of it, for awhile.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Crafting with the Columbus Kollel

In my last blog post, I eluded to our lack of Friday night religion during Varsity Football season. To "make up for it" Jeff and I have been doing double overtime with the other kids. Combined with my Rabbi lead, women's study group, it is a give and take. Life is about balance, and we are just trying to stay even.

We took the little folks to a Kollel family celebration at the park. I did not have any real expectations for the event and just thought the kids would go, have fun, play on the playground and see some friends.

Instead, the kids were completely WOW-ed by all kinds of activities and beautiful craft projects. If I had known there would be paint, glue and sharpie markers, I would have dressed them in the Level III schmatahs. Instead, I assumed family picnic and had them looking all matchy matchy cute. BIG MISTAKE.

Check out the awesome agenda. Notice the clothes, the supplies and the projects and feel my pain.

In advance of Rosh Hashana, there was a honey tasting area. The kids were asked to sample the various styles of honey and to make comments.


Eli enjoyed this very much and I wondered where the wine tasting was being offered? Red, White, Champagne? Do I need to volunteer for the planning committee for next year?

Speaking of wine, the kids all made a kiddush cup, which is a toasting goblet on holidays. This art project was perfect for ruining clothes as it used permanent markers on glass. I feared streaks of bold colors on cotton and shattered shards of glass all over the shelter house, but I think we may have dodged a bullet.


I did come home with four delightful, original works of art. Is there a rule that says you MUST use the kiddush cup only for religious purposes? Note to self, ask the Rabbi if it is okay to drink a nice Pinot Noir by the computer when updating the blog! If no, then, OOOPSIE- my bad.

Each of my four Judaical Artisans made a honey tile, for dipping apples in honey. These featured glue, paint, beads and more permanent markers.

The girls loved this project because what 3 and 4 year old girl does not adore working with beads.

We are now the proud owners of four YOM TOV plates.
These mosaic style serving plates used glass beady leaves, glue, and grout on a ceramic plate. Yes, real grout. Grout, as in wet, gooey, cement for tile. Level III may have been too nice for working on this one. I am sure glad I did not dress the kids in Level I brand new Fall collections. Whew!

Here is Natalie making some Jewish New Years cards. This was liquid paint and foam card stock with rollers.After the paint was applied, a toothpick, pony tail, chin and elbow were dragged through the wet paint to form the design. Then, a sheet of white paper was pressed onto the foam to print the card. When completed Natalie was wearing more paint than her finished L'shana Tova. Happy New Year!

Do you feel me? I was doing my best not to over manage their creativity but the stain factor was about 9.9 out of 10. It does not get any more serious than Sharpie markers and fully clothed children.

As much as this post is meant to be sarcastic and funny, the kids really had a blast. I truly LOVE watching them have a great time, so in all, crafting with the Columbus Kollel was a huge success.

I came to the family picnic with clean kids and no expectations, and I left with original art and four filthy, happy children and a smile. Sunday is our fun day, and today was a fine example of that tradition.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The First Friday Night Lights of the Season

Are you ready for some football? We are. The Columbus Academy Vikings are looking good this season and the first game was a blow out- Columbus Academy 49, Northridge, 7.

Our very own Mitchell had an awesome game and he scored a touchdown while playing both offense and defense. We saw number 6 in action until the third quarter when the under class men got a turn.

There was also a Mitchell induced blocked punt, a half a dozen tackles and many catches. This kid is fun to watch. The game was exciting and we had picture perfect weather for the game. Of course the visitors section faces the sun, so until it set at half time we were blinded by the light, the sunlight that is.

As always on away games, it is hilarious to hear how the booth announcer will pronounce our last name. Friday was no exception. We heard about 42 versions, one for every play Mitchell made. Regardless of how he said Slutsky, it was wrong. So wrong. We hoped Mitchell would continue to make plays just so we could anticipate how the name would be said. It made for a second source of entertainment.

The highlights were captured on the Newark Advocate newspaper and these photos appeared on the local paper's website.

Our boy is reported to be a strapping 5'11 and 180 pounds as a senior. While this might be a little far fetched, it is not too far off, and I have the grocery bill to prove it.

While the rest of the triplets classmates were celebrating Shabbat with candles and wine, Jeff and I were enjoying our own version of the Friday Night Lights, Non Kosher, football style.

We are praying for a healthy football season free from injuries and pain, and we are hopeful that Mitchell's football career will bring us continued joy and entertainment.

Amen. Shabbat Shalom!

Apples, Salsa and Abe Lincoln

Every once in a great while, I need a few moments to complete a task. By myself. I require someone to take the kids away and give me the time necessary to gitter-done. After spending the entire day with my children, I got home and needed that 30 minutes of down time.

We started the day picking apples. We arrived at the orchard before 9:00 on opening day of the season. Yes, it is early this year, but thanks to a very warm spring and prematurely hot summer, the gala apples are way ahead of schedule.

We hauled out of the field with 60 pounds of juicy, gala beauties. With Rosh Hashana coming up, our L'Shana Tovas will be so sweet.



Here is the proof of a busy morning in Pataskala!

After a late breakfast slash early lunch at Bob Evans (had coupons for free kids meals) I schlepped the crew to Giant Eagle, the library and the farmers' market. It was an action packed morning that made me realize how much I love the Fall weather, produce and general fun. I bought those Kraft carmels that are individually wrapped in cellophane, and have carameled apples in mind for the kids.

I got home, unpacked the van and tended to what are probably the tail end of my own tomato plants. I picked a few goodies, and came inside to wash all the apples, tomatoes and other treats. I realized that I had all the fixings for homemade salsa, so after washing and drying the apples I kindly asked Jeff to remove the kids from the house so I could finish what I started.

I organized the fruits and vegetables and just affectionately stared at them. I know how Martha Stewart must feel when her assistants and paid staffers stage a bountiful harvest. This was my very own moment to enjoy the peace, quiet and natural beauty of the season.

While Daddy took the kids to Lord knows where, I cranked out a batch of fresh summer salsa.


I just chop and combine all the ingredients and then add more heat or tomatoes to get it to the correct balance of flavor and texture. The lemon and lime zest adds a really fresh taste to the yellow and red tomatoes.
The finished product is like a Mexican Gazpacho dip only chunky.

When the kids got home they were all yelling and shouting as they walked into the kitchen. I was trying to make heads and tails out of the excitement:

"Mommie, we met the President!"
"The President gave us each a coin with is picture on it!"
"We saw real guns, brown guns!"
"The lady was wearing a fancy long, long, long, dress."

Then, as I was totally perplexed, Jeff said, "Did you know that Abe Lincoln drives a Honda SUV? I would have pegged him for a Lincoln Navigator"- so after all these obscure statements, I wondered, where in the hell did he take the kids?

It turns out there was a civil war reinactment going on at Hannah Park. Jeff initially took the kids there to play, but discovered the whole back in time thing. Apparently, my children has a blast. Here are the photos that Jeff took with his i-phone, he said the whole scene was blog worthy.


As much as I hate to admit it, I was sure glad I stayed home and made salsa. I am sure the children were completely entertained and delighted to be in the civil war era, but me, ummmm, no, not so much.

My Saturday was delightful. It is hard to beat a day of apples, salsa and Abe.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Office Depot really is Taking Care Of Business

Here is an update to end all updates! If you have followed my blog, or facebook status updates you will be happy to hear that all is well that ends well. My Office Depot Drama has ended well.

First, let me just say, I am so thankful for the outpouring of support about my husband Jeff’s $6 haircut story being used in a television commercial by Office Depot. My readers are my virtual rock stars. I love you guys. I am pleased to report a very happy ending, and I don’t mean they offered him a massage at one of "those" places.

Once I posted the details surrounding our story, it started a viral campaign like I’ve never experienced before. Two days after my blog post, Scott McKain gave an Internet rant too. Then the triplet moms got their panties in a wad, blogged, facebooked, tweeted and supported us. The word was out! It was a Street Fighter Approach like no other.

Within a few days of all of this action, Jeff got a call from Mindy, the head of PR from Office Depot. She obviously saw the postings and wanted to know what was going on. That google alert feature really works, huh?

Mindy listened as Jeff explained; he sent a letter outlining how his story was being used without his permission. The only response was a letter from the law firm representing the advertising agency in New York who created the commercial. Mindy instantly understood Jeff’s loss one of his best signature stories. The two began to discuss how to make it right. Both Jeff and Mindy have a PR background, they got along marvelously and it was agreed that the world would be a lot better if PR people handled these types of things instead of lawyers. Everyone knows tha lawyers just make things more complicated- sorry, sis, but you know it is true. I could post a few lawyer jokes here but will refrain for the sake of family harmony.

After the discussions it became clear to all of us, that it was a unfortunate communication oversight that the attorney’s were the first to actually respond.

No one can argue that Jeff has been sharing this awesome story from the platform for over 20 years. It’s not uncommon for audience members to share memorable stories with friends, so, yes, it's floating around.

The important point is this: All too often, a big company does something that upsets the public and they get a ton of bad press as a result. In this day and age, with the Internet on our side, that is just a fact. In some cases companies goes out of their way to make up for it. In our unique situation, Office Depot reached out to Jeff, worked out a number of ways that Office Depot’s customers could benefit from Jeff’s expertise and likewise, assist Jeff to promote his business.

I obviously can’t go into the nitty gritty details, but for the sake of transparency, you should know that Office Depot is compensating me for my time to write about this experience and the positive outcome we attained.

If you know me at all, you will realize, this is coming from the heart. I am an equal opportunity blogger. I want to be crystal clear that I am in total control of the content on my very own blog. I accept responsibility for my words.

For all my blogger buddies who helped get the word out about the problem, it's only fair to let your readers know about the positive turn of events in this story. The world is right again, and Office Depot actually DID take care of business.

I can honestly say our back to school shopping is being done at Office Depot. (Okay, so, yeah, I did get a special deal on this aspect too) but with the gaggle of kids we have to shop for, that is a good thing. The shiny new school supplies from Office Depot have arrived in the backpacks and are being utilized as I type. This triplet mom is blogging while her kids are AT SCHOOL!

More importantly, Jeff has a Street Fighter story to tell from the platform and it ends with him being the “inspiration” behind a national commercial that aired following the Superbowl! How many keynote speakers can put that on their resume? Of course now, we both hope Office Depot brings that commercial back.

To be generous, Jeff has graciously offered to allow Office Depot to use his other signature story about growing up with the last name of Slutsky. I think it's his funniest tale, but to tell you the truth, I would not blame them if they decided it just was not the right kind of message they needed for their current campaign.

Thanks again for helping me, help Office Depot, take care of business.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Re-Thinking it all

Since Kindergarten has started I have learned some very valuable life lessons. Remember that everything you need to know in life, you learn in kindergarten? Well, that being said, I beginning to re-think it all.

After filming the video of Natalie we had to have a long, drawn out discussion about appearances. I was concerned that she was already learning to judge people by the way they look. While this is something that is true, we ARE judged by our appearance, it should not be the kindergarten norm. We chatted about fancy versus non fancy and how we should wait to form our opinion of somebody until we get to know them, on the inside. After we gabbed about this for a while, Natalie said, "Mommie you are right, you are really nice and smart and people probably think you are crazy because you have so, so, so, so, many kids, but really you are just busy and not patient." Thanks a lot Natalie. I am glad you understand and learned the lesson. Gah!

We re-listened to a CD song called My Best Friend is a Salamander, by Peter Himmelman. This is a song the kids and I have heard a hundred thousand friggin times, yet I knew the underlying message in the lyrics would connect with Natalie if I pointed them out specifically. They lyrics totally sum up my life lesson from yesterday, and when the song says, "We should not judge a friend by how he looks or what he eats," Natalie had the biggest smile on her face. Her wide grin let me know she totally got it. A big thank you to our friend Susan RoAne who gifted us the album when the triplets were born. We have been listening to it ever since.

(Sorry Funky Mama, but we do rotate between you, Mr. Stinky Feet and Peter Himmelman. For the sake of my driving sanity, we split time among the top three artists in the shuffle.)

In other news, I have decided NOT to make the boys yarmulkes. Yet. After two days of school, with two boys, we have lost, FOUR, count em, four yarmulkes. Unless my guys have stashed them in their cubbies, we are 0 for 4. That is the big GOOSE EGG. Nada, zip, zero, zilch! I send them off to class wearing them and they come home without them on.

Oy, can you imagine the size of the gasket I would have blown if I painstakingly crafted them, and they disappeared. Hopefully, I will not be super-gluing kippot to keppies from now on. I have an e-mail into the teachers to see if in fact the missing hats are not missing. Fingers crossed! Here I was getting obsessed with fabrics and notions, for nothing. Mommie has learned another kindergarten lesson.

As for having a full time students, I am starting to re-think that as well. Between all the Jewish holidays in the Fall, parent/teacher conferences, teacher in service days and our trip to KC to celebrate Grandma's 100th birthday, there is not a single week between now and Thanksgiving where all four kids are in the classrooms for the full FIVE day SCHOOL week. How insane is that? Seriously, if I had a "real" job, Jeff and I would be playing the child care shuffle with driving, staying home and multi-tasking. It is killin me to juggle the calendar.

I have totally bailed on signing the triplets up for soccer. I thought it would be a great experience for them both socially and physically, but now, after mulling it over, there is no way in H-E- double Hockey Sticks, I can add that to our agenda.

So as I re-think all that is parenting, I am doing everything possible to raise my children in to productive, solid citizens. It is always a process, so in order to keep my energy level at the appropriate place, I have decided to give up carbs and add more coffee. Thanks to my good friend Lynn, who also has triplets, she has come up with the ultimate coffee order at Starbucks. She tells the barrista she wants a Venti, Skinny Mocha Vodka Latte, with a shot of Valium. I have revised my order accordingly. Who needs Kindergarten, I can learn everything I need to know from the other, more experienced triplet moms.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kindergarten and the Kissing Hand

The kids are LOVING kindergarten. We have completed two full days of school with only the highest compliments about their classes and teachers. I was sure that they would complain about something very trivial, but so far, so good.

I played my own version of twenty questions on the way home yesterday. I was sure to ask the most obscure, thought provoking questions and I made sure that my inquisition did not allow for yes or no answers. This is a sample of the dialogue.

Here is how it went:

"What was the best part of your first day in Kindergarten?"

CJ: I liked the playground because we had recess two whole times!"

Eli: I liked having lunch in the gym

Natalie: Morah Sara is pretty and fancy and I liked her skirt

I can't make this stuff up, the boys liked eating and playing outside, and Natalie liked the fashion aspect of her teacher. Hello??? Stereotypes much?

"Tell me what you learned?"

CJ: I learned about cutting the Hebrew letters with scissors and I brought home some supplies for our house. (upon inspecting his backpack he snuck home scissors, a glue stick and three crayons) He school-lifted on the first day- nice. I am getting a lawyer on retainer right now. The next 12 years are going to be fun, huh?

Eli: I learned that we wear the Kippahs all day in Kindergarten, not just in the sanctuary. We even wear them in the potty. (This is significantly different from pre-school where the kids were flushing yarmulkes down the toilets, and the no yarmulkes in the bathroom rule was enforced after two plumber calls during the first week of preschool.)

Natalie: My name is the same as Morah Sarah's mother, her name is Natalie too, so Morah Sarah will never forget my name. N-A-T-A-L-I-E, Natalie.

Apparently, lunch and recess scored high marks from all three monkeys. They were not bothered with the full day schedule and they all sang the praises of kindergarten because they do not have rest time. The blasted rest time was horrid in preschool so I have learned that rest time is a deal breaker. Kindergarten= no rest time so we are golden!

Here are two videos I made to document the first two days of kindergarten. There are not three videos, because CJ was too busy to make one. He was too busy taking apart some contraption he made from junk mail, rubberbands and leftover packing materials that were in a box.

Enjoy!





And here is Miss Nat-itude exhibiting her true self as she discusses that she only likes the teachers that dress fancy, and when the interview does not go her way, she turns on the whine and meltdown. Sooooo, drama queen typical. An academy award winning performance? NOT!



I received these beautiful kissing hands from my three kindergartners. The hand prints and poem are darling and until I read the words I had kept my promise not to bawl. I did not shed one single tear until I unpacked the backpacks and found (WAAAHHHHHH, SOB!) these:

The poem says:

It's my first day of school
And "The Kissing Hand" is what we read.
It's about a raccoon
Who did just as his parents said.

Like the raccoon's first day at school
I was scared and a little shy.
But because of what you said
I was brave and I got by.

All through the year
I'll make more things for you.
So as I change and as I learn
You can see my growth, too!


As I tucked them into bed, I re-read the poem to them and I kissed their hands goodnight. I promised that I would save their work from the first day and we could make the hand prints again on the last day of school, seeing how much they have grown. CJ said, "My hand will be enormous because I eat my asparagus!"

Goodnight Kindergarten kids. Tomorrow is another school day. Sniff Sniff.

Here is hoping the teachers can keep it fancy all year long!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

'Twas the Night Before Kindergarten, Welcome to the Class of 2023

'Twas the night before Kindergarten,
And as they prepared,
the triplets were SO excited
And a not a wee bit scared.

They tossed and they turned
About in their beds
As visions of school supplies
Danced in their heads.

Lunches and Sanitzers
And kippahs galore
Were stuffed near the backpacks
And set by the front door.




Their outfits were hung
On the furniture with care,
Knowing that Kindergarten
Soon would be there!



In the morning it came -
School starts today!
Would the teachers be nice?
Would they still let us play?

All three faces were washed,
All teeth were brushed white,
They posed for the picture,
Six eyes sparkling bright!







They grab the backpacks
And hop into the van
They dash off to the school,
Oy Vey, Mommie's driving as fast as she can!



The teacher then greeted
Each one with a smile,
And invited the students
To come and sit for awhile.




They let go of Mommie's hand
And then walked down the hall






They heard Mommie promise
That she would not start to bawl!

They all kissed their Mommie
Near the beautiful Hebrew rug
And then sent her away
After one final BIG hug!







The trio waved to their parents
From the door of the school,
All three shouted, "Don't cry guys!
Kindergarten is COOL!"





As Mommie cheered by the flag pole with glee,
She squealed with delight
Her triplets are officially in the class of 2023



Twas the First day of Kindergarten as easy as can be,
Happy School Year to all, and to all in the class of 23

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