Friday, January 29, 2010

Those pesky telemarketers: Here's an idea!

The Federal Do Not Call list once worked very well. I rarely received phone calls from people or companies I didn't already have a working relationship with. But lately, our phone rings off the hook with unsolicited callers. When I tell callers that we're on the Do Not Call list, I get a variety of reactions: (1) they may say their business is exempt because they are non-profit or (2) they're exempt because they are affiliated with a participating group that I'm a registered member of or (3) they're not selling anything, they just want my responses to their survey or (4) the jerks just flat out HANG UP at the mention of any list!!


So here's what I've started doing to combat the unwanted calls issue (it's only getting worse). First, Caller ID is totally worth the $2-3 per month and it allows me to see the phone number most of the time. If the name of the company doesn't show up (BLOCKED or UNKNOWN) or if I don't recognize the number, I now have a reason to go ahead and answer it. No really, I do. Because, instantly, I turn into a cooperative (undercover super sleuth) listener -- gathering as much information as I can in the next 60 seconds. I ask for the name of the company, how they got my number, and then listen for whatever other information they happen to offer. When I'm done playing the listening game, I tell the caller I'm not interested, ask to be put on their company "do not call" list, and hang up. Next, I run the phone number through 800 Notes. This online community tracks all telemarketing (or other "unavailable") calls in one location, providing you with notes on who the caller is and what they might want. Furthermore, this website asks YOU to contribute by reporting unsolicited calls to your home or cell phone.

This is how it works:
1) Just go to and do a search for the number that popped up on your caller ID.

2) Sometimes you'll find a whole mess of other notes on the same phone number (that other people were kind enough to leave). Their notes may help you figure out who is calling and what they want. Other times you may not find any reported notes, yet.

3) PLEASE be sure to leave a note that you received a call from the number. You don't have to enter your real name or location. However, this website only works because people take just a few seconds to enter some relevant information. EVEN IF you don't know any information (and even if you didn't pick up the phone), just listing the number as having called your home is helpful in identifying a telemarketing pattern.

The comment form looks like this:

I like that it's very straight forward and you don't have to leave any personal information. Here are a few call details you might include in your report:

* What date and time did you receive the call?
* How many times did that number call your phone in the last 24 hours (or few days)?
* What did they want? (if you answered) Believe it or not, some phone numbers are widely used for many different types of telemarketing calls. While they may call someone else to sell vacuums, they may be calling you asking for donations for a medical issue.
* Did the caller give you their name?
* What's your general location? Remember, you aren't leaving a real name, so you should feel free to provide a little regional information. I'll type in Western Nebraska or Nebraska Panhandle or even Northwestern Nebraska just to mix it up. Sometimes this is valuable information when they discover the telemarketer is only calling numbers in your area.
* Was it a man or woman?
* Did the call start out as an automated caller and ask you to press buttons to speak to a real person?
* Could you understand the caller?
* Did they identify a company they were affiliated with?
* How did they react to your questions?
* Was there a lot of background noise from the other end of the line?
* If you asked them to place you on their "Do Not Call" list, how did they respond?

See, easy.

Please report your next unsolicited phone call to 800 Notes. I know it's not the only website that does this, so feel free to add other similar websites in the comments, below. I bet if we all went to look at our caller ID list we'd have a handful of numbers we could go look up right this instant, so check it out when you have a moment!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Giving Birth: Why Choose a Midwife?

My long-term readers, friends, and family are already aware of my experience-based stance on labor inductions and augmentations. Lately we're (finally) seeing an influx of doctors and researchers openly discussing the serious risks that these types of interventions impose on both mother and baby, despite their generally accepted usage. The effects might be something as common as fetal decelerations of the heart or, occasionally, something far more dangerous and life-threatening like placenta abruption as an unfortunate result of uterine hyperstimulation.

These types of conditions are now occurring at an alarming rate as we continue to mess with the nature of birth, leading more mothers on a straight path to unnecessary, intervention-created (iatrogenic) cesarean section. We hear, quite often, "Thank God they were able to save me and my baby" or similarly "I'm sure glad I was in the hospital when this happened!" However, peer-reviewed studies now provide compelling evidence that typical hospital interventions, like induction, are most often the cause of an emergency c-section to begin with. Who knew?!

People wonder how my home birth, with a rockin' midwife, after two prior cesareans could have possibly been so easy and perfect. I think I'll add this short video to my growing repertoire of evidence on why. This brief report, filled with compelling testimony from several OB/GYNs, a medical director, OB/GYN residents, a cardiologist, ER doctors, an anesthesiologist, nurse practitioner, PhD professor/childbirth researcher, and various other participants, presents the data in a summarized, easy-to-understand manner. Enjoy!

FOLLOW-UP: While this film mentions (at the end) passing a Massachusetts bill for Certified Nurse Midwives, don't forget that Nebraska is currently attempting to pass similar legislation. Visit Nebraska Friends of Midwives today to find out how you can help facilitate a wider variety of safe birthing options for the women and mothers of our state!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tot Talk Tuesdays {10}

I'm a continuing participant in Tot Talk Tuesdays started by Niecey of The Monkeys and Me. This week I shot a quick video that was just too cute. This is my 21 month old "reading" with daddy. So sweet!

Please save up your weekly quotes and join in the fun next week HERE.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

BACKPOST: Christmas 2009

I wanted to make sure I preserved some of our family memories from Christmas 2009. This year we had three separate celebrations:

The first was spent with my parents from Texas. Since they were already here for Thanksgiving, we opened many of the gifts they brought from Texas just the weekend after Thanksgiving. Here's a collage of some of those memories (you can click on ANY of the pictures or collages to see them bigger):

On December 12th a package arrived from Nana and Pappaw. They told us to open one box in the package to use it right away, so we did. This video was the result of that. The kids really enjoyed making it and EATING it.

The second Christmas was on Christmas morning here with just the five of us. On a very snowy and cold Christmas Eve we stayed up late sneaking around to wrap presents and also setting up the train set that was passed down to us this year by my Dana. It's a special set that can be set on a variety of speeds, it can move forward or backward, it makes noise, and it even blows puffs of smoke (if you get some smoking oil). I'm placing both a photo and video clip of it in action. We'll be setting it up every year just for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!

Aaaaaaand after that video you'll be humming "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" all day long. You're welcome. :WINK:

The following morning we couldn't wait to see the kids faces as they came down the stairs. They were absolutely shocked at the presents under the tree and the train set.

We started the morning off with opening stockings before breakfast. Oh what fun!!

We ate biscuits, gravy, eggs, and SAUSAGE. After breakfast, and still in our pajamas, we set up the camera to take a quick family snapshot before opening presents (don't mind our unfinished walls).

Then the opening began. And the kids were just tickled. They received beautiful clothing, jewelry, a watch, bath toys, a train set, a Buzz doll, a Woody doll, a Karaoke machine, and much more... We are so grateful!

Finally, our last Christmas was in January after a surprise package arrived from my grandfather and his wife. I'm so thankful that I caught most of it on video. Check it out below:

And one last video clip...this is of the kids using their new sleds from their cousins in Texas. I just love how she says, "...and we got them from someone." Bwahaha! They really had a BLAST, though!!

Thank you, again, to all of our beautiful friends and family. It means so much that you would think of our children and take the time to send them such lovely presents. We had an amazing holiday. We enjoyed the snow, the snuggles, and the time spent together making new family memories. And, even though I've said it before, Happy New Year everyone! (Now that I finished this post, I suppose it's time to finally get my Christmas cards mailed out. They're written, sealed, addressed, and even stamped. WHY is it so hard to just get them to the post office??)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tot Talk Tuesdays {9}

It's been a long while since I've posted one, but... Believe it or not, I AM still a participant in Tot Talk Tuesdays started by Niecey of The Monkeys and Me. I've gathered up a few from the last month or two.

Scenario #1:
My son and I were hanging out one day and he said to me:
Brandon: "Mommy, I want a kiss."
So I leaned forward and gave him a peck on his lips. But he didn't seem very happy about it. He got a very serious face and said:
"No mommy. I wanna fall in LUB!"
Apparently, falling in love means you close your eyes and hold your lips together for a very long time. So we did, in fact, proceed to fall in lub. And I had the slobber to prove it.

Scenario #2:

One recent day it was snowing very heavily and we were out and about running errands, so we swung by hubby's work place to pick him up. When we arrived he was standing out in on the sidewalk, bundled up tightly, and chatting with a female student who looked to be waiting for her ride, too. At that very moment...

Brayla: "Let me guess, THAT'S the girl that daddy likes??"
Me: "Um, no. Your daddy and mommy are married. That means Daddy doesn't like other girls anymore."
Brayla: Oh.
Of course he climbs into the car and busts out laughing when we told him what happened.

Scenario #3:
We were getting the kids ready to go outside. For those who live in freezing areas of the country, you'll understand when I say that often times it takes longer to bundle up to go outside than it does to actually PLAY outside. So I'm trying to get my youngest ready. He's very excited about his new mittens and he keeps holding them up to me before I can get his snow pants and jacket on him. I tell him firmly:

Me: "Brighton, we have to put your coat on before we can get your mittens on."
Then a very frustrated 1 year old YELLS, with all of his might, to his daddy up the stairs:
Brighton: Daaaaddddddddyyyyyyy!
(he's learning to appeal to the other parent when he doesn't get what he wants right away)

Scenario #4:
The last month, my middle child has started using a new tactic to get his way. Whenever something happens that he doesn't like or if anyone says something to him that hurts his feelings, he gets a very sad look on his face and says:
"Mommy, you broke my heart!"

Scenario #5:
Brayla: Mommy, you know what I've always wanted?
Me: What's that?
Brayla: A box-in-the-jack.

Please join in the fun each week HERE.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009: A Year in Review

January: In early January we were finishing up our holiday trip to Texas. While there, we spent time with our families and with our friends Marc and Christy (a college roomie and dear friend). We also made the decision to become a TV-free family by selling our two TVs and canceling our service (we now only do Netflix or Hulu, which is FREE). It was a really wonderful way to start off our year and realign our priorities.

February: I sorted and gave away several boxes of maternity clothing to Birthright (Pssst...they also take baby items). Brighton took his first steps and I wrote my first letter to the Nebraska Health and Human Services Committee regarding the oppressive birthing laws in our state. This is the month where Brayla really began getting into serious art (thank you to her two uncles who went in on a marvelous beginning art set for her).

March: We drove to Texas in the middle of a BLIZZARD! Lee completed his dissertation defense. We celebrated Brighton’s first birthday. I attended the first couple sessions of the Controversies in Childbirth conference and also met my friends Laureen & Lisa! We received some disturbing news about a few of Brandon’s blood tests which our doctor said raised concerns of possibly Leukemia (which turned out much better than we though). On the upside, we also had a mini-vacation to the Watiki Water Park. Oh and I blogged about sex (just seeing if you’re awake).

April: We had a very shocking snow this month. I finished teaching three sections of Information Literacy courses at the local college (lots of grading and personal comments there…whew!) and began ordering gardening supplies.

May: We drove to Texas (AGAIN!!!). We attended my brother's graduation and Lee’s doctoral graduation (during a very quiet moment in the ceremony, Brayla yelled across the auditorium “I love you, Daddy!” which made everyone laugh). We got to spend an evening with some old high school friends (I hadn’t seen them since the early 90s!) which was SO awesome (great cooking and conversation) and we also spent the night with Kathryn (my old college roomie who’s been a friend since elementary school) & DeWayne while in Texas (why do we do this only every several years?). After arriving home, we spent two nights in a cabin at Chadron State Park for our summer vacation. And finally, Brayla lost her first two teeth (the first while we were at Storybook Island in South Dakota).

June: We planted our first raised Square Foot Garden, took many trips to the swimming pool, and Brayla began dance lessons and art lessons. I sprained my foot while running (which, incidentally, took about 4 months to heal). Brayla and Brandon both started swim lessons. Brandon had his first trip to the dentist. Brayla had her very first bicycle ride without training wheels! And we sadly said goodbye to our dear Chadron friends (who moved to Texas -- :sniff, sniff:).

July: We attended our first homeschoolers get-together. Lee flew to Boston for the SAKAI conference and had to sleep on the airport floor due to a delayed flight. Brayla had her first eye appointment and Brandon had his first dentist appointment.

August: Celebrated our 14th anniversary. WOOHOO! We also celebrated Brandon’s 4th birthday and Brayla's 6th birthday.

September: I took a (much needed) break from blogging. We harvested the remainder of our garden and hung any green tomatoes in our garage while they ripened. We celebrated my birthday and I was invited as a guest speaker to the Mountain Midwives conference in Spearfish (where I met some amazing people). Brayla began taking gymnastics (which she LOVES). We also attended a conference in Kearney and I got to meet my precious online buddy, Lenetta from Nettacow!

October: We celebrated Lee’s birthday and prepared for our fabulous fall weather. I became the new Education Chair for the Nebraska Friends of Midwives and published my first global article as a syndicated Google author (which received numerous hits world-wide and sent thousands of viewers to our website).

November: November was really all about preparing for Thanksgiving. We rented two cabins in the woods for 3 nights and had a rustic Thanksgiving with family from Texas.

December: I finished the last of my coursework for my 2nd master’s degree (specializing in Educational Technology) which I started August of last year. Then we had a fantabulous and quiet, but very white and snuggly, Christmas here in the Nebraska Panhandle. Roads and businesses were closed down for a couple days, but the kids had a great time building snow forts and sledding down huge mountains of shoveled snow!

In a nutshell, we've been blessed this year. Through good days and even the roughest of days we've learned a great deal about love and grace. We appreciate, so much, you having kept up with us through the year and THANK YOU for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. Now we'll see about posting some New Year's Resolutions (if I'm brave!).

Happy New Year!!!

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