Tuesday, July 27, 2010

AT&T redeems itself some

We have had a lot of problems with our phone and/or internet service through AT&T lately. Our phone was dead last week from at least Monday when I noticed it until Friday evening. A week or so before our internet kept going out.

Calling and dealing with technical support has been an exercise in frustration. The biggest problem was that some of the techs sounded like they weren't sure what the error messages I was getting meant (they may have, but their voices didn't reflect that). And they all managed to implicitly or explicitly indicate that problem was on my end, with my equipment - and every time it was a problem on their end!

I did talk to someone in customer service mid-week last week who was very helpful. She was able to explain things well, gave us a credit for our internet outage (the phone outage apparently is supposed to have an automatic credit on our next bill) and most importantly sounded like she knew what she was talking about.

So I googled for an email address for someone to write and complain to. The person whose email I found was not the correct person, but she actually forwarded my message on. I received an email message in return asking for contact information and our location so the right regional executive office could contact me.

Friday evening I received a call from the Texas Executive Office while the technician was actually here. And I actually just got another call (Tuesday) from the Executive Office (the number was Indy) to make sure our phone was working and we weren't having additional problems.

All in all, while it was very frustrating dealing with repair/tech support, I appreciate that when I complained  it was taken seriously and someone called me.

Oh, and one of the things the customer service rep mentioned is that one reason they are really pushing U-verse in our area is that it is a lot more reliable. She suggested that as a way to reduce some of the problems since it runs on new fiber optic cables. It would cost a little more per month, but we are seriously thinking about it. We had tried a year and a half ago but the signal didn't reach us. They have done a lot of upgrading since then and we should be able to get it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A hard lesson

Wil is learning a hard lesson today. Hopefully Sam will learn some too.

The boys have not been behaving well recently, running off, disobeying, not listening, etc. Today Wil earned his 3rd train for potty training. So off we went to the book store to pick up Percy.

They did a very nice job playing... until I told them it was time to go. Then they both ran off in opposite directions. Once I corralled them and got them to the register, Wil politely put Percy on the counter and Sam ran off again. And of course when I went to get Sam, Wil decided it was a good idea to run off as well.

This is typical of what they have been like lately. It's worse when we are trying to get in the car and one of them darts off, usually Sam, into a parking lot. I just don't have enough hands to always hold both of theirs, and they take advantage of those few seconds while I fumble for keys, open a door, whatever.

So the hard lesson: we walked out of the store without Percy and Wil has to earn him again. I am also taking away a toy of Sam's although I haven't decided which one yet. It needs to be one with impact.

I feel bad that Wil cried on the way home and is now mad at me, but I'm mad at both of them. This is not acceptable behavior and it needs to stop. If this is how I get their attention, then that's the way it has to be.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What we hold dear

I've been thinking about the nature of family recently.

My mom's family was always close when I was growing up. We saw all the cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents at least once a month. It helped that there were so many of us grandkids with birthdays, but even when we stopped celebrating those, there were holidays and just times to get together at the grandparents' house. We all lived within a short distance of each other, so it was easy.

Chris's family has always been spread out all over the country, often not all on the same continent. Seeing everyone was, and still is, a rare occasion. With plane travel usually required to visit, it took planning, effort, time and money to gather.

What I find interesting is that my family rarely gets together now other than for weddings while Chris's was all for a family reunion, which we had in June. There are a lot of reasons. My grandparents are gone; Chris's are still around to unify the family as a unit. His family is used to being spread out and sees the rare occasion to get as many as possible together as a major event. My family is spread out now, but I think we're not used to having to put so much effort into getting together. Since we spent so much time together, it just doesn't seem as important to gather.

I'm sure there are lots of other reasons, but it's kind of sad to me that we need a big celebration to find the time and money to want to be together. And I know it can be a lot of money for those coming from far away and many of us just don't have a lot of extra. I admit Chris and I don't make as much effort to get up to Chicago to see the relatives there. Chris is actually the one who pushes sometimes when I shrug something off as 'just family' by reminding me (I know! Really, I know!) that family is important and we need to make the effort for family.

We choose our friends, but we don't usually get to choose our relatives. And that's not a bad thing. Having that tie that is so hard to break adds grounding. It adds responsibility but shouldn't be a burden. It means having people in your life that are there, no matter what, and you can't get rid of them easily. Family is part of belonging, even when you don't fit in. We're lucky we have families that are good-natured, caring, easy to get along with, and fun. We are extremely lucky that we like each other's family and that our families get along so well together.

I hope we can keep up the momentum of Downs Family Reunions every 5 years or so. More often would be nice in theory, but I think that might be the limit of practicality. I'd love to start a Caponi Family Reunion every 5 years or so as well. It's been 2 years since the last family wedding, so be prepared, Caponis, for a get together in a few years!

While it's great we keep up via Facebook, we need to see each other from time to time. The newest generation needs to get to know all of us and each other. I want my boys to know their extended family.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Potty training: baby steps

I apologize to all who are offended, but this is a major part of our lives right now. You know the subject from the title, so read no further if you don't want to know. :)

We're slowly making progress with potty training. Wil is doing reasonably well if we leave him pantsless. He even earned Gordon, one of the "Thomas and Friends" trains, earlier in the week. We have had some accidents, and he feels bad about those. For example, the other day, he pooped on the playroom floor. When he finally peed in the potty later, he really needed to hear "yay!" - and mine wasn't enough. I think after the setback, positive reinforcement was very important.

The biggest step is that he sometimes tells me now that "the pee is coming!" and we get him on the potty and he pees right away. This is HUGE! Now if only he could recognize that feeling every time.... We do have false alarms, where he thinks he needs to pee, but he doesn't. But I am so happy that we have reached this step and it is only the beginning of July. At the rate we were going, I was afraid Sam would start school and Wil would have to stay home. I'm feeling more confident that he will get it by mid-August.

After a few more days of him telling me when he has to go, I think I will try putting underpants on him. We've tried off and on in the past, but he forgets and goes just like in a diaper. When he has pull-ups on, he will even tell me that he doesn't have to sit on the potty because he can go in the diaper, so we really need to get him in underpants, telling me he needs to go. For now, he's in pull-ups when we go out, because he's not ready for the next step yet.

I know a lot of kids learn in 3 days with a method where you watch them like a hawk. We've had so many backfires in the past and Wil has been so resistant that I am not even going to try that. What we're doing is working for him.

For anyone keeping score, to start, he got 1 sticker to pee, 2 to poop. We had daily prizes ($1 bin buys) and at 25 stickers he earned a train. It took over a month to get to 25. Now that he's getting it, we have added an additional sticker if he tells us he has to go and does, so he could earn a total of 4 at a time (which he just did!) and when he gets to 30 stickers he will get another train. Since this one is going much faster (he's at 17/30) than last time, we will probably change the metric or bump up to 50 stickers for the next one, but we can't change the rules mid-play so he'll probably have his next train in a week or so at this rate.

I know it is bribery, but it is making him interested and he is even starting to admit that it feels better to poop in the potty than to sit in a dirty diaper. Considering we were calling the grandparents every time he used the potty in the beginning and are up to updates every few days (other than when he really wants reinforcement), I hope that in a few more trains we can really stretch it out or he will forget altogether. Although he really wants trains and likes the idea of earning them. He has a whole list he wants to get: Thomas, James, Percy, Annie & Clarabel, the Express, Lady, Toby, Emily, Diesel 10, Henry, Edward.....