Halloween IS October 31st! (And Dr. Dog ticket giveaway!!)

Halloween is a ‘holiday’ that is always celebrated on Oct.31st – no matter if it falls on a Tuesday or if it is snowing! Traditionally, it is a celebration on the night before All Saints Day (Nov.1). This year, in Louisville, we have an interesting situation – bad weather (or more accurately, bad weather is being predicted). The weather forecasters have been telling us for a few days that we should expect rain, wind, hail, and a slight tornado risk. Sounds like JUST the type of weather I want to take my kids out in. Riiiight!

Some of the smaller, incorporated cities in the area have ‘moved’ trick or treating to Friday or Saturday night. The Mayor’s office said that government isn’t in the trick or treating business, so they weren’t making a recommendation on when people should trick or treat. So….there has been a grassroots effort to get the word out about pushing the date back one day – to Friday. I can totally appreciate the thought, idea, and effort people have put into changing it. I don’t want my kids to be in danger. I don’t want to be the bad guy and tell them that they can’t go. I don’t want to disappoint them.

But, you know what? Part of my job as a parent is to prepare my kids to be successful adults. And part of that is learning that life can’t always be perfect and sometimes you have to go with the flow. I haven’t cancelled Halloween for them – I’ve offered an alternative (to have some neighbors over, on Halloween, for chili and indoor trick or treating). The idea of Halloween is dressing up and having fun with friends. Oh, yeah….and getting gobs of candy. They will have all of that, just in a different form. And in the future, I hope the weather is perfect and they look back on this year and think of how much fun it was. Or at least have an appreciation for good Halloween weather!

I also hope they acquire skills that help them problem solve, as well as the ability to be flexible in certain situations. I think our society has set up our kids for failure in adult life by making everything perfect for them. Hello – give every kid a trophy for every sport they play, starting at age 3!! Life isn’t perfect. If this is their expectation, then they are in for a rude awakening! It is much more beneficial to help your kids navigate through life’s ups and downs with the proper tools and expectations than it is to (try to) make them happy all of the time. Give your children something they will really thank you for when they are adults.

The point of this post is not to judge other parents and their decision for their family!! The real point was to work out, for myself, why I was so against moving Halloween. And I am sharing my thought process because I am guessing that I am not alone (okay, so I am hoping that I am not alone!).

Now for the Dr. Dog ticket giveaway! My loss is your gain! I can’t use my tickets for their SOLD OUT show on Saturday night at Headliners in Louisville. So…like my Facebook page, Last Bit Of Sanity, and post what your favorite Halloween costume was as a kid. Or if you like to tweet, then you can tweet it. And if you want to double your chances, share a link to this post (tag Last Bit Of Sanity) on Facebook or Twitter. I will randomly select a winner. I will leave you with a Halloween themed Dr. Dog song, Vampire. Funny how these things come together sometimes. Ha!

Why Does It Have To End Like This?!

Look at me, overachieving! I haven’t posted in months and now am going for 2 posts in 2 days. Unfortunately, this post isn’t a pleasant one and I wish I didn’t have to do it. But I feel compelled because what happened last night was disturbing, upsetting, and people need to know about it. Before I get started, I want to say that I spoke to the manager and I also looked at how to reach the owners with no luck. I would love to speak to the owners, so if anyone has direct contact info, please pass it on!! I also want to point out that I slept on the situation and didn’t immediate pull out the laptop to write an emotionally charged rant.

A few times a month, hubby and I will order take out from Sapporo Sushi. We love their quality of sushi and it is also close to our house. We have never had an issue. Last night, I wish I could say the same was true. I had just picked up the middle son from a party, so he went with me to get the carry-out that hubby had already ordered. It wasn’t ready, even after we had been waiting 15 mins. And that was unusual. I was about to ask the host, when he took a phone call. From what I could hear on my end, he indicated that the person who came in right before me had been given the wrong carry out order (mine!). They instructed him to come back and they would take care of it. Fine. Mistakes happen. I get that.

Life is full of mistakes. What is important is how those mistakes are handled. I walked up to the host to inquire about my food. He explained what had happened and then said, ‘but they are on their way back, so as soon as they get here you will have your food.’ I thought for a second and then said that I didn’t know that I wanted to take food that had left the restaurant and gone to someone else’s house. The host said they would inspect it and remake anything that needed to be remade. I sat down, consulted with hubby via text, and decided I wanted all new food. In fact, I was disturbed and disgusted that they even considered giving me food that had left their control. Honestly, it made me question all of their practices. Hello, Health Department! Luckily, when I let them know that I wanted all new food, they were completely agreeable.

The other customer came in, got his correct food and was told, by the host, that they had already reversed all of the charges on his credit card for his troubles and their mistake. In fact, the customer must have felt guilty because he turned and apologized for yelling at them so much over the phone (blaming a low blood sugar issue). Meanwhile, I am still waiting, with a very sleepy, slightly grumpy 9 year old. However, hearing that they handled the situation the right way with the other wronged customer, I had the same expectations for my situation.

Finally, after we had been sitting there for 45 minutes (!!!), the host brought out our food and said “here ya go”. Like it was no big deal. Like we hadn’t been sitting there forever, waiting for them to correct their mistake. Like I hadn’t heard everything they said to the other wrong customer. I looked at him and said, “what about compensation?” We had a slight stare down, then he turned and called someone. He came back, ask for my card again and I was relieved that they were going to take care of us. We love Saporro. I didn’t want this one mistake to color our opinion of the restaurant. The host said okay, we will take 15% off your bill. Um. What? Maybe I didn’t hear you right. Did you say fifty percent? Oh. No. You said fifteen percent? Dude – you realize that is just like pouring salt into my wounds. 15% not enough for someone who has been patiently and respectfully waiting with her 9 year old, who is so tired, he has put his head down on the table, for 45 minutes for you all to fix YOUR mistake. And if that isn’t enough, the person who was affected just the same as I was, got his entire meal free of charge.

What the fuck?! What was different about the two situations?! He yelled and must have come unglued. I remained respectful and calm. He had to bring his food back. I waited, with child in tow, for 45mins for my food. He was a man. I am, obviously, not.

At this point, I’ll admit that my fiery redhead temper started to show. I could feel my blood pressure rising and my chest and cheeks getting red. The store was full. I could have made a big stink and called a lot of attention to the situation (hello…they wanted me to take old food!), but I also knew that my son was watching how I handled the situation. I wanted to be an example to him on how to handle conflict. I wanted to show him that things can been worked out without having to yell and scream and bully someone into doing what you want them to do. I wanted him to see that restaurants respect and value their loyal costumers whom they depend on. I wanted him to see that if you make a mistake, you own up to it and fix it at your cost – you don’t try to cover it up or pass it onto someone else. And I wanted him to see that men and women are treated equally.

Unfortunately, my son learned none of those lessons last night. After the host refused to change his 15% offer, saying it was the best he could do, I challenged him (in a calm voice, no yelling involved) on how the other customer received his entire order free of charge. The host said that customer had talked to the manager. I said okay, where is the manager? I was told the manager wasn’t actually there, and that the host would call her and then I could talk to her. He made it clear that he was not going to talk to her about the situation. Whatever. She apologized for the issues and offered the same 15%. I calmly told her what was going on and she got defensive and said that they would never expect me to take the original food. I told her that was what the host suggested, but I moved on. I asked her about the other customer who got his entire order taken care of. She said that he had to bring it back in, like me waiting there with my son for 45 mins was no big deal. I explained that we were loyal customers and just wanted to have this situation fixed. I would have been happy with a gift card for our next visit. I would have been happy with 50% off. I would have been happy with a true apology.

I got none of that. Finally, I said to her that they were about to lose our business for good and that I would be very vocal about it, telling my friends on social media, at Eater Louisville, on Louisville Hotbytes, etc. She then said, “Go ahead, tell your friends.” I promptly hung up, grabbed the food, and my son’s hand and walked out for the last time.

I am disappointed and disgusted (on so many levels) at the treatment I received. Eating out is a luxury and it is expensive. Why places think they can treat people so poorly and still get their business is beyond me. For sushi, I guess we will be hitting up Oishii Sushi and Dragon King’s Daughter. We love them both, although they are slightly further away. Now that distance doesn’t seem like anything.

In contrast to this occurrence, just a few weeks ago, I had one of the best customer services experiences ever. I was at Stevens & Stevens Deli, a place I go to once a month or so. When I walk in, they all know me and are friendly. They ask how my kids are – even more specifically to see how my youngest likes Kindergarten. I love walking in that place!! Well, that day, their credit card processing was messed on up their computers. They couldn’t get it to work when I was trying to pay. I felt bad, because I had no cash on me. The manager said, ‘Don’t worry about it. You can pay for it next time.’ Wow. Now that is full service customer service. Kudos to Stevens & Stevens for winning at being awesome!

What do I want to happen from all of this? I am not sure. I feel like maybe things could be smoothed over if Sapporo reached out to us. Maybe. But, honestly, I want this story to be spread around. After reading some reviews on Yelp, Urban Spoon, etc, it is obvious that others have had bad customer services experiences there also (don’t worry – my review will be going up soon!). So, let’s make it known to Saporro that we don’t like it and our money won’t be going to them anymore. Share this story with your friends. Think twice before going there next time. Make them change. And I just hope that what my son learns from this isn’t that it’s okay to defer responsibly for your mistakes, that you don’t have to treat people with respect, and that loyalty means nothing. Maybe he will see that often times actions speak louder than words. Sayonara, Sapporo.

LOUIE FM! LOUIE FM!

I originally published this on Sept.5, 2009 after discovering that a local radio station had changed hands and call letters. My youngest was about 17 months old at the time. It was a sad time but I am re-posting it because I am excited to say we have a ‘new’ LOUIE FM in Louisville!! 104.3 WLUE. The format is good….lots of old songs I haven’t heard forever, but what is even better is the look on my kids’ faces when they heard the station identification!!

I know it is weird to say I am upset that 100.5 LOUIE FM is no longer. But I am seriously upset about it. It is now called Gen X radio or something like that. The new music format is okay…I have heard many songs over the past couple of days that I hadn’t heard in 10 years!!

But, I cannot get over the fact that I will never hear “You are listening to 100.5, LOUIE FM.” It had a very special meaning to our family. Again, sounds weird, I know! Let me explain.

A few days before our youngest was born, hubby and I came to the mutual realization that we weren’t so crazy about the boy name we had picked out for him. We have used family names for all of our kids (first and middle), so by the fourth child and third boy, the pickings were getting pretty slim. However, we both agreed that we kinda like the name Louis Frederick (nickname Louie), after hubby’s Dad, Fred, aka Frederick Louis. But, we were going to wait until he was born to make the final decision. And we had learned the lesson early not to tell anyone the names we were considering!!

Well, as soon as baby #4 was born, we looked at each, while everyone else was inquiring, “What’s his name?!”, and we both said “Louis Frederick” and that is when our little Louie was introduced to the family. Ben’s Dad had no idea that we were even thinking about using his name and I will never forgot when he was holding Louie in the hospital, nearly too emotional to speak. It is a moment that will forever be burned into my memory.

On our way home from the hospital, we were listening to the radio when we heard “You are listening to 100.5 LOUIE FM.” Again, hubby and I looked at each other and just laughed. Our Louie’s name was Louie FM (Louis Frederick M****). And hubby joked that it was very fitting all the way around, because his Dad had spent his whole life in the radio business.

Whenever the older kids would get in the car and hear the call letters, they would always make a big deal about it. It was something that always brought a smile to our faces. It was fun and comforting at the same time.

It became even more meaningful when my father-in-law lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, just a few weeks after holding his namesake for the first and only time. LOUIE FM always reminded me of the connection that Louie held with his PawPaw, even though he would never get to know him.

So, I am upset that I will never be able to turn the radio on again and hear “LOUIE FM”. I am sad that the family won’t be able to joke about Louie’s station anymore. I am heartbroken that Louie won’t be able to hear those call letters and be reminded of the love his PawPaw had for him, even before he was born.

Here is my request….if anyone has ANY connection at Clear Channel, I need your help! I would love to have a couple of things (bumper stickers, t-shirts, etc) that said 100.5 LOUIE FM on them. I want to save them so that when Louie is older I can show it to him and we can re-tell the story and it will be part of HIS history…not just part of history. Thank you in advance!

And I was able to get a few items that say LOUIE FM on them…posters and plastic cups. If someone at the new LOUIE FM would like to send keepsakes my way, I will not deny them! 😉 I would love to surround my budding musician with reminders that his love of music comes from someone very special who is no longer with us.

Really?!

I sat down to write a post about how fabulous this past weekend was, but I couldn’t. I kept getting stuck and wadding up paper after paper, starting over at every turn (okay, okay….so it wasn’t paper, but it was the delete button that I kept using over and over!). I couldn’t get my dear daughter’s words out of my head. I figured I better get them out here or I would risk the words getting stuck and continuing to strangulate my thoughts.

As I was tucking my almost 6 year old in last night, after what I thought was a pretty good weekend, she says to me, with tears in her eyes, ‘I wish you didn’t have so many meetings and I could spend more time with you.’ Ouch. Insert the knife coated with Mommy-guilt. Trying to recover from that blow, I say to her, ‘I know its hard when you are in school all day, you probably miss me.  I miss you too.’ She thinks for second and says, “No. I just don’t like it when you go out so much.” Ah. Kids. Gotta love, em, right?

Now, I have seen my seemingly sweet daughter bring other people to their knees with her questions or observations, but I haven’t been on the receiving end too often (I am sure that will come in a few years!). My favorite was when she had a stare down and verbally challenged a local prosecutor. I am pretty sure said prosecutor was sweating nails and was anxious to back to her murder trial after encountering my daughter.

This line from the song, Kids, by The Features reminds me of her: They were born screaming. They had fire in their eyes. And its a kick-ass song from an band that kills it live! (If you live in Louisville, you catch them again on March 23 when they open for J. Roddy Walston at Headliners. I advise going!)

And do you know how much I LOVE that about my girl?! I LOVE that she is strong, self-confident and don’t hesitate to speak her mind. I wouldn’t change that for the world! She is exactly the type of girl I want her to grow into. My challenge is how to handle her right now.

I thought about trying to rationalize with her. I am a stay at home Mom. I am ALWAYS there to pick her up from school and I am ALWAYS there to take her to her music class. When I go out at night, it is usually only 30-60mins before her bedtime and when I can, I arrange it for after she is asleep. And my meetings are for things that help other people, like raising funds for scholarships to Bellarmine or helping to improve things at her school. Sure, I have my fun time in there and go to concerts and basketball games, but, I wanted to tell her, if I don’t get the me time you would be wishing I was gone more often! ha.

But, I didn’t. She is nearly 6 and wouldn’t really get it. And if that is how she feels, then that is how she feels. My first instinct was to clear my calendar and to make sure I am home every night. And then I thought better of it. That would make me miserable. I enjoy (usually!) being at home but part of that is because I try to balance everything and not completely lose myself and keep active in things I care about. I hope that I am being a good role model for my kids as they get older. And I hope that my skin gets a little thicker because I am sure I will hear more of these comments that cut to my core. :-S

this makes me smile…

Ah, the joys of parenthood – you all know what I am taking about.  The joy of going out somewhere nice…with spit-up down your back. The joy of sitting down to enjoy the game…and having the baby scream the whole time. The joy of the anticipated weekend plans…that get cancelled because the little one is sick. The joy of a celebratory work dinner…hampered by knowing that you are missing your little guy’s big game. The joy of waiting in an hour long line at the DMV…wait, that is a joy because you are alone!! 😉

I can say all this because we know the good parts of parenthood–the hugs, the kisses, the ‘I wuv ew’.  But it is the ups and downs that bond all parents.  You can instantly start a conversation with any other parent…it is like trading war stories! Sometimes it is hard to think of sharing such an intimate thing with someone famous, but if we are all parents, then its all shared!  And that is what makes me love this video so much.  Crackerfarm has put out some of the best videos of The Avett Brothers, but this one is tops! I love that Scott is trying to play at hymn at his home, yet his daughter has drastically different ideas.  She may be the only girl I know who would forcibly try to stop Scott from performing! 😉  And I love the look on his face and the laughter in his voice…it’s like he is saying, ‘Really?! I can’t just sneak one song in?!” Yes, Scott…we have all been there before.  Fortunately, a camera wasn’t around.  Enjoy this sweet, funny video on this Monday morning!

all my life i’ve been waiting….

Most people are now aware that October is breast cancer awareness month….pink is everywhere! And that is an incredible accomplishment–who thought it would ever be widely proclaimed “save the ta-tas”?! But, that is not my focus this month.  My focus is on an issue that people still prefer not to talk about even though so many people are touched by it somehow.  October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month.

I talk about my foursome in a sometimes flip and sarcastic way, but make no mistake that I love them and would do anything for them. People see us out and assume that it was easy as pie for us to have kids and that is not the case.  We spent a couple of years going through tests, procedures and a lot of anxious waiting. We were thrilled when our first artificial insemination worked! Over the moon…told everyone, started picking out names, planning the nursery. Out of our minds excited. And then that all came crashing down when I miscarried at 13 weeks.  I was supposed to be in the ‘safe zone’. I had just gotten released from the specialist to start seeing my regular OB doctor. Everything was supposed to work out perfectly from that point on.

Little did I know what I was facing.  Never in my life have I experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows in such a short amount of time. Devastation doesn’t even begin to cover the feelings I was going through. And the hardest part is that I wasn’t alone.  So many other people go through the same thing, but no one wants to talk about it.  Or no one knows what to say. Some people try to say the right things, but I promise hearing ‘it wasn’t in God’s plan” isn’t what someone wants to hear when they are feeling so much pain. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to think that my God doesn’t intentionally inflict pain on people. But, maybe that’s just me? I do strongly believe that there is a reason for everything, even if it takes a while to figure it out.

As heartbreaking as my miscarriage was, my eyes have opened even wider to the grief mothers go through when they lose a baby, no matter what stage or age. I have had too many people close to me lose a child through miscarriage (sometime one after another), stillbirth or infant loss. I am in tears thinking about all of that pain and sadness, all those lost dreams and hopes, all those missing hugs and kisses. Nothing takes the pain away. It might not be as strong as it once was, but it is always a part of my soul.  I wish more people would talk about it and acknowledge the hurt. My thoughts are with all families who live with this reality everyday. Many virtual (((HUGS))) are coming your way!

This morning, as I was walking and trying to clear my head, a song by The Apache Relay came on that really grabbed me. It’s called Lost Kid and the lyrics are fitting:

Sometimes I feel like I’m just a lost kid,
stumbling through these towns,
stuck between the waves.
Nothing feels the same.

I need an anchor that never lets go,
I need someone to call, hear a voice I know.
Something that feels like home.
Something that feels like home.

All my life, all my life, all my life I’ve been waiting for You
All my life, all my life, all my life I’ve been waiting for You

I’ve been searching all of my days, looking for any signs, reading between the lines, hoping for anything.
I’ve been living in this tension, I just pretend I’m fine, that everythings ok, but I’m about to break.
Yeah Im about to break

All my life, all my life, all my life I’ve been waiting for You
All my life, all my life, all my life I’ve been waiting for You
All my life, all my life, all my life I’ve been waiting for You
All my life, all my life, all my life I’ve been waiting for You


Here is another gem from the Nashville-based group.  I love the line ‘souls can not, souls cannot be fooled’.  They have recently hit a lot of people’s radars, including Mumford & Sons (they published their playlist and The Apache Relay is on it!). Lucky for those of you in Louisville tonight…you can catch them opening for G.Love and Special Sauce at Headliners.  I know where I will be!!

my heart’s full of sorrow…

As parents, we do crazy things to protect our kids.  Think about it…putting big cushiony foam around anything  that might have a sharp corner…putting locks on everything from the toilet to the oven (those darn things can be tricky!!)…gating them in (or maybe out!!). That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but we all do it because we love our children so much and we just want them to be safe from harm.  And we see it as our job to keep them safe.  So, how do we survive when something threatens our ability to keep our babies safe and we have absolutely no control over the situation?

A few years ago, unfortunately, hubby and I had a front row seat to see how a family lives through and survives a parent’s worst nightmare: childhood cancer. Our dear friends were ‘lucky’ in that the leukemia that their 2-year-old was diagnosed with was well-known and therefore the treatment was straightforward. But, that didn’t mean it was easy. It was 2 years of chemo, 2 years of worrying that a cold or other illness could cause serious complications, 2 years of limited exposure to other kids, 2 years of an unbalanced life, 2 years of fear.  Again, they were ‘lucky’ and their daughter is now a happy, normal kid who has a smile that lights up a room!

My heart broke this morning when a member of my favorite group announced that his 22 month old daughter had cancer.  And, unfortunately, they aren’t ‘lucky’ because only 100 children in the US are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year, meaning that they probably don’t know much about it.  The group is The Avett Brothers and the member is Bob Crawford.  There had been some chatter on their fan boards recently because Bob had missed a few shows, but the official announcement came from Bob in the form of a letter to the fans on http://www.avettbrothers.com :

One month ago today my wife found our 22 month old daughter, Hallie, in her crib having a seizure. Paramedics rushed her to the hospital where an MRI revealed a brain tumor approximately one quarter of the size of her brain.

Surgeons were able to remove 90% of the tumor and decided to stop there as her vital signs were unsteady. Following surgery she suffered a stroke. Her condition was critical for the next several days as her brain continued to swell. In an attempt to save her remaining good brain she was placed in a coma for five days.

Since being removed from the coma, Hallie has undergone a second brain surgery, has been waking up, and is doing her best to recover quickly so she get ready for the next phase of her fight against cancer.

The tumor is a Grade 3 Ependymoma. This is a very rare, but deadly brain tumor that effects roughly 100 children a year in the United States. We do not know what Hallie’s next step is in her treatment. Her situation is very fluid and there are a number of complicating factors, but we do know that she is fighting hard every day.

My wife Melanie and I would like to thank everyone for their love, care, and support during the most difficult time in our lives. I would like to thank everyone for their understanding of the gravity of this situation and ask for respect to our privacy. When people ask us what they can do to help, we ask them to pray for Hallie’s recovery. We feel that God has already worked
miracles through Hallie and we pray they keep coming.
Someday I will return to the stage with my brothers. When that will be I can not say. We are truly living one day at a time.

Thank you again for your love and support for my family during this time.

I look forward to seeing you all again soon.
Bob Crawford

It is hard to find the words to describe how it feels to read that.  It makes me realize that we are pretty lucky with the health of our kids. And where previously, I had been a little worked up about a scheduled in-patient clean-out and colonoscopy for my 3-year-old (because of blood in his stools), I now understand how truly minor that is compared with what Bob and his little Hallie are going through.  My thoughts and prayers will be the entire Crawford & Avett families along with their friends.  It must be such a trying time for all of them.

Another great group of brothers, The Barr Brothers, sing it better than I could say it:

Lord, I just can’t keep from crying sometime

When my heart’s full of sorrow & my eye’s filled with tear,

I just can’t keep from crying sometime

And if you like what you hear from the brothers from Rhode Island, check out another song, Beggar In The Morning,  from their newly-released, self titled album.

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