Friday, August 29, 2008

I've been tagged...

So I guess I was "tagged".
I can't follow all the rules because I only know one other blogger but here's what I can do:

I've been tagged
I've officially been 'tagged' by Kim at
Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Post the rules on your blog (this is what you are now reading)
3. Write 6 random things about yourself (see below)
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them (This is only a game)
5. Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up

Six Random Things About Me:
1. I love, love, love spicy food. If it can bring tears to my eyes just smelling it I'm a happy person!

2. I taught "special" students how to read when I was in high school. I got in trouble in study hall and was assigned to the office. I was in AP English and they needed help with this special needs class. I won an award for it - was in the paper and everything. Best thing: I loved it!

3. I love all kinds of food except: "American" (hot dogs, burgers, pizza etc.) and Italian

4. I can't wait to have a house! I want a yard bigger than the house: for gardening, running, dogs!

5. I will probably only ever own Hondas (or Acuras if I ever have that kind of cash) - I'm extremely brand loyal!

6. When I was little I wanted to be a teacher during the week and a rockstar on the weekends (swear to god - you can ask anyone in my family!)

What we learn...

As children - how does it effect the rest of your life?
What do you really take with you?

Seems I'm consistently reminded of things I learned growing up - things stick...

We always had pets growing up. Having pets I think is an essential piece to growing up loving and kind. I know that sometimes kids can't have pets - they're allergic, their families can't afford them (my dad always said 'thank god the animals never got sick' because there's no way we could have afforded to pay for their care should that have happened), they live in places they can't have them (apartments, doubles etc.) but every kid needs exposure to them - and not just at the zoo! Having animals in my life (then and know) reminds me that kindness and caring is a vital part to being human.

I remember a time growing up (and we certainly were not well-off. My parents struggled and struggled and struggled to make ends meet and they rarely did. We went without quite a bit but never without the basics and never without family...) when I was at Drug Mart in Lakewood with my dad. We needed toilet paper, soap - maybe something else. My dad also wanted cigars - you know; those real cheap, crappy cigars: Garcia y Vega cigars (so bad). We were in line in the front of the store. There was a woman there with her child and she couldn't pay for her prescriptions; she was crying. I don't think my dad blinked an eye - he paid for them. With what money, I do not know. She wanted to pay him back - get our address - something. He wouldn't have it. I don't remember the conversation but I do remember us leaving without his cigars (these were really his only vice...). I've since then always been inclined to give. Sometimes I give money, sometimes I give stuff, sometimes I give time and energy but: I always try and give.

I remember not always having enough money and my dad cooking with that struggle. He came up with some of the best stuff - just throwing things together in a pot - because that's what we had and it had to work. I'm still inclined to do that - throw stuff into a pot or a pan and cross my fingers. Some of the best dishes, marinades, soups etc. have come from this very process! Things to note: brown rice makes almost any dish filling, add some; not too much - you can always add - you can't take out! Work with what you have (you know you're only buying things you like anyway - try something!) and do what you know.

Lakewood started recycling way back when and I can remember my parents jumping right on that train. Their idea is the same you'll hear me say over and over: you're bagging things and taking them to the curb anyway - why not recycle? I remember using old paint and concrete buckets to collect recycling. I am still a huge advocate for recycling. I recycle for my office, at my apartment building (all the junk mail, I have a box in the laundry room and one outside my door for paper recyclables and I recycle all the laundry containers), where I go to volunteer and I collect paper goods and recyclabes #3-7 from my sister whose city does not yet take paper goods or recyclables outside #1 and #2. I've also learned and seen the easy effects of teaching by doing and of people learning by example. Anyone who drives by my building now on a Sunday night would be floored by the piles of recyclables on the lawn for collection. Several tenants have told me they never knew how easy it was until I told them (I passed out notes about how and what to recycle to all our tenants and give the same notes/memos to every new tenant that moves in).

I learned that you pay your taxes (no matter how much it chaps your ass!), you protect your credit, pay your bills, give back, be responsible for yourself and as much as is possible for those around you who need you. I learned that no matter how bad I think it is: it isn't. Someone else (and they could be right next door) is having a harder time than you. I learned that good health is one of the most precious commodities and that we should cherish it and do all things possible to keep it. I learned that money is not by any means - all there is to it (although I have my mega millions tickets for tonights drawing!). You protect your family even if they make you crazy.

I learned that some tastes never change. I am all about being vegetarian/vegan. I eat products without additives, colorings, preservatives but man-o-man there's nothing like original Open Pit Barb-B-Que sauce (it's still my older sisters favorite too!)!

So - things stick.
This is already a pretty long post but I could continue.
Just a reminder about who you are and why.
A reminder that kids are like sponges - whether you're a parent or not, an aunt, an uncle, a teacher or a neighbor; kids are watching and listening and learning: why not strive to be a really good example? It'll serve you and those around you very well.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


To go along with some of my ideas...

Sharing what you have is more important than what you have.
Albert M Wells Jr

Saturday, August 16, 2008

How's Life?

I mean really, how's life?
Having a good day? a bad day?
Things on the upswing or down?
Feeling happy, joyous, glad?
What about frustrated, sad, angry?

We all go through these ups and downs: it's the way of life.
Without the down swing how can we truly appreciate the upswing?
So many cliches I could quote.

Most of you know that I have long done various types of volunteer work; that in some way my life simply doesn't make sense unless I'm giving back. I; like most of you certainly do not have an excess of cash to throw around but - busy as I am I can always (as could most of you if you thought about it) find time to volunteer and it makes me more whole.

Well - I am volunteering with a new group that does hot meals at a church every third Saturday in Lakewood. Today was our second meal but the first time I could make it (even for just a few hrs where I really just greeted, cleared tables, dried dishes [and took home all the cardboard recycling - would you expect anything less? ha!]).

Our group served just over 50 people today (and was able to give take home meals to everyone who wanted something and donate certain leftovers to another church that does hot meals). The church had acquired donations of toothbrushes, bar soap and body wash that we were lucky enough to be able to hand out today as well.

You really get 'put in your place' (does that sound bad? what I mean I guess is - you really get a more true perspective) about your own woes, hardships and 'bad days' when you see people wholly thankful for a hot meal and basic hygiene supplies.

While clearing tables I overheard a couple talking about their friend (and they were there with their three children) who is living in a storage unit and how she felt so bad and wanted so much to be able to help him. She's there out of need and for even just part of the time she's receiving help for herself and her family she's wishing she too could help another. I've seen a friend of mines' mom at both meals (first meal I just stopped by to drop stuff off), today I saw a guy I went to high school with: as patrons to the meal. Several of the meals' patrons helped clear tables and collect salt/pepper shakers etc.- to help us. All were very grateful and said so; made sure they did.

So - do I think because I can pay my bills and go to the salon and buy clothes once in a while and grab a bite and a beer with friends when time permits - that I am not allowed to have a 'bad day'? No - perception is reality and woes tend to be comparable to lifestyle etc. We're not wrong to have bad days - what we need to remember is to be grateful, that realistically they're just probably not that bad.

And really it's all about perspective. About getting it, keeping it and keeping ourselves in check.

I hope that everyone takes a quick snapshot of their own life and realizes that they have time or money or talent or goods to give. Once a week, twice a month - once a month. There are plenty of people and organizations that need you. Figure out your passion (animals, visiting with the elderly, homeless etc.) - hunt down a group that needs you and do something! If you can read - teach it! Play a sport? Find an organization that caters to kids and coach, give blood; do something and teach giving to your kids and grandkids!

Remember too that giving is never selfless (really - think about a time you gave where you didn't feel at least kind of good!). I guarantee you you'll walk away feeling glad you were there and feeling (while probably a little like your heart is being ripped out because you can't just fix it all...) a little bit better about your own life and circumstance.

Just a thought...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Once Upon a Time Toys: Rocky River, OH (don't shop)

I wrote and sent this letter to this quite elite, pretentious store in Rocky River, OH. Rocky River, OH is a very wealthy community in NE Ohio and this store caters to the more elite shopper. They carry quality products. Read the letter then DON'T SHOP THERE - go to :

Name: Thinker ToysStreet: 3887 Medina RoadAkron, oh 44333-2449Phone: (330) 665-3860

There's one in Parma, OH too. Have shopped many times: always pleased with their customer service and products.

Also try:
I've had similar, good experiences here too.

Once Upon a Time Toys
19285 Detroit Rd
Rocky River OH 44116

August 10, 2008

Well I had quite an experience at your store today.

I had been in your store Friday August 8, 2008 and had a delightful experience. I hadn’t been in your store in years and really only once or twice before. Your sales girl was wonderful – funny, helpful. I purchased a doll and two small ‘Smurf’ figurines which your sales girl and I laughed about (unfortunately I do not remember her name).

After a little thought I decided against the $35 doll for my 1 year old niece: what if she didn’t like it? She has two older brothers and this is her first baby doll. I was at another store Saturday and found a similar doll for $10. Seemed a better price to pay considering: 1) she may not like it at all and 2) it’ll probably be dragged all over the place. Both dolls were from good makers.

Sunday August, 10 2008 I return to your store to return the doll. There is a very pregnant girl who greets me warmly when I come in. We seem to be moving right along until she can’t get the credit card machine to credit the $37.70 for the doll. She goes in the back to ask for help. She comes back and tries again: to no avail. I find a few notepads and a card while I wait.

“Annie” comes out and tries too – again: nothing. They call a manager (Renee? [and it took a few moments to find her number]) as the machine is asking for a password to “credit” my card. I have worked with credit card machines in several business arenas for many years and think this is odd (both of your employees say similar things). Annie is following direction from the manager and attempting to credit my card $37.70 and ends up charging my card for $37.70. She has a short discussion on the phone (meantime I have been very patiently waiting – chatting with your very pregnant (and she told me very new employee. She also told me Annie only works one day/week – so two not-so-experienced people working a shift together…) employee – even gave her some coupons I had received from shopping at Toy ‘R Us. I have been nice, patient (very) this whole time.

Annie gets off the phone and tells me she’ll have to take my card information and have the manager run the credit after she gets in Tuesday. I told her she’ll have to call the manager back because I’m not leaving without either a credit to my card or cash (which both employees say they can’t do – it has to be refunded on the card: fine; I get that but it is not my fault your machine isn’t working properly and neither of these employees seems to recognize that. They keep telling me it’s not their fault. I mirror that and say I recognize it’s not your fault, that it’s the machines’ but it’s the stores’ machine so…) and I was even nice (firm but nice) about this. I tell Annie ‘I’m not leaving my credit card information (which is linked directly to my checking account) at some random store.” She says “We’re not some random store; we’ve been here in business for “X” (I forget how many) years.” I tried to tell her that you’re (the store) random to me. She is getting very, very agitated.

Annie calls said manager back and tells her that I am not comfortable leaving my card information for credit later. Annie offers to let me talk to the manager and I tell her ‘It’s not going to change my mind’. Annie is discussing whether she has enough cash in the drawer to cover the refund (which is now double the original amount so: $75.40) and confirms to the manager she does. She hung up and it’s instant poor attitude and customer service to me. She tells me this is going to be an “accounting nightmare for the manager” and frankly, I balance well over a million dollars every month for clients and do the accounts receivable/payable and payroll for the company I manage. I know this is no more than a simple journal entry (I even tell Annie: “That’s why they get paid the big bucks – it’s actually not that big of a deal”). She gives me the cash and makes a snide remark: “Well, there goes all my money for the drawer” (again – not my problem. I’m a customer who came in for a routine return – none of this is my fault).

I go on to tell Annie (who by now is so mad – red in the face mad) that it’s not that big of a deal – it all comes out in the wash. She says to me (in a very huffy, hot under the collar way) “Oh and you know everything there is to know about credit cards machines?” Now I’m getting mad and I tell her – “I’ve been very nice about this whole situation, I haven’t raised my voice, and now you’re going to give me attitude? This isn’t my fault”. There’s a little more back and forth about her poor customer service skills in this situation (I mean – is she kidding? This was not my fault – fault of the machine = fault of the company. Companies have to be responsible for their equipment). She is unreal and I tell her so (please keep in mind I never once raised my voice and you know there are plenty of customers out there who would have handled this much differently).

She gives me the cash, writes it out on a receipt, haves me sign that, sign the sales receipt from today and write my name, address and phone number on a piece of paper which I do (all the while with her complaining about this, that or the other thing [I have never had any retail experience like this: it was like I was in the Twilight Zone]). Before Annie gives me the cash the pregnant girl tries to see if they can void the last transaction on the credit card machine: that asks for a password too.

She (Annie) won’t let it go (I mean honestly – she’s a grown woman and I have been very accommodating in this situation which when all is said in done takes nearly 30 minutes) I tell her again: “I think I’ve been very nice about this – I haven’t raised my voice, I’ve been very patient – considering I’ve been in here 20 – 30 minutes now (which she tried to argue with me – I was in the store for about 25 minutes before I got out of there) just because the machine didn’t work and I didn’t do what you want does not make any of this my fault”. Now she wants my original sales receipt from Friday. I said sure – as long as I can get a copy. She tells me you have no copy machine and I said well – you cannot have my original receipt, you have all the information you need from these receipts (and I point out the item numbers etc.) she says “Well are you going to return the Smurfette or…” I cut her off and say no but I keep all of my receipts until they clear on my bank statement every month. The pregnant girl chimes in that they need the bar code on the original receipt. I told her the manager could call me if she did (which she shouldn’t need to do) – Annie literally slammed the receipt down in front and me and said “FINE!” and stormed off to the back room where she was when I came in.

I even stayed to purchase the additional items I had found while waiting and now even the pregnant girl is a little snotty. I mean – don’t your employees know the “the customer is always right” phrase? Come on – this was unbelievable! I told her (pregnant girl) that I know it’s frustrating but that it’s all resolvable – she tells me “yeah but we had to do something we’re not supposed to (refunding a credit card [now 2] transaction with cash)” and I told her “yeah but you had a manager on the phone – had her permission and that’s no reason for her (Annie) to get an attitude with me” – she completes the transaction (which I of course paid cash for) and hands me the bag and receipt.

I received no apology for my inconvenience, no thanks for my patience throughout this whole thing. She literally said nothing.

I will never, ever shop your store again. I will be posting this letter (exactly as it is here) on my blog for the entire world to see. I will tell anyone and everyone I know about this (I may even keep a few copies of this letter on me so I can hand it out to people) and I know a lot of people.

The lack of understanding, appreciation for my patience and overall kindness considering the poor – no; total lack of appropriate customer service here was astonishing.

I hope I reach enough people to hit you where it hurts: in the pocket book. Maybe this will prompt you to get more efficiently trained, customer service oriented employees.

This was hands down the most unreal, inappropriate behavior I have EVER – and I mean: ever, ever, ever experienced (and I shop a lot).

Leah M K

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What We Learn From Dogs

***this was an email that I received; you know - sent 'round and 'round... thought it worthy of a post!***

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle. I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience. The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on.
W ithin a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why." Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.
He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?" The six-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."
Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.Speak kindly.
Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk (or run).
Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
Be always grateful for each new day.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Great link my friend Lisa sent me!
I don't know what's better: the pictures/pictioral updates or the info!
Worth a shot (about 1-2 minutes):

Emergency Preparedness: Links

In addition to the general American Red Cross website (; another ARC website with easy to find preparedness information is:

From my friend at the Red Cross...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Emergency Preparedness


A friend of mine works in emergency preparedness for the American Red Cross here in NE Ohio. We were out to dinner last night and somehow we started talking about being prepared.

Things I never thought about (and not scare tactics but really important things to think about) and that too many of us don't think about and should:

If there is an emergency and your child's school needs to be evacuated - where do they take the kids?

Do you have a home evacuation plan in case of a fire?
Key thing is: practice it - especially with young children.
Have bedrooms upstairs? How are you getting out?
You need rope ladders (or something of the like) - practice with them.
Need not be scary for kids but must be serious.

If there is an emergency and you need to leave your home and your spouse is at work etc. (consider like 9/11 - phones: jammed) where do you meet? Make a plan.

What if there is something that hits us like a pandemic flu (seen the commercials they're running on t.v. recently?)
Always a good idea to have a stock pile of food/supplies.
Think about foods you don't need to cook (because potentially you can't): canned goods, boxed goods - WATER. The rule is: one gallon per person per day. Have babies? You need more for formula etc. Remember that water "expires" (due to their plastic containers) so make sure to use and re-stock.

I know no one really wants to think about these things but I suppose we must.
Just to put it out there. Seems we all get jazzed about these things after a tragedy: when we all skate through scott-free. Let's please be sure we're all appropriately prepared so we can continue the "scott-free".