Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Miracles Happen...When You Believe!!!

Well.... less than 24 hrs ago I was writing about my cookbooks & not having them in time for the stroll on Friday. Well imagine my surprise when just about 1/2 hr ago I got my billing sheet from the cookbook company & all they need is payment & then the books will be shipped! UHHHHHHH...I think I'm still in shock!!!!!!!!!

I called them & they said it'd be 3 business days: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday...so they'd be here Monday! UGH...just 1 business day after the stroll! Fortunately they are able to send a couple boxes that could be here by Friday. Well after lots of thinking in a VERY short amount of time, I decided that Monday is just fine to have the books. First off, they'd not only have to send a couple boxes, but would also have to send the page tabs/dividers too. Also, it'd probably be a couple hundred dollars extra. And third, UPS doesn't deliver to our house until after 5pm...and the stroll starts at 5pm! So that would leave me running around like a crazy person getting tabs in the books & getting them to the stroll...along with all the hot drinks & goodies that I was planning on making. And then to top it all off, I'd MAYBE sell like 6 books, so it just wouldn't be worth all the running around

So as much as I'd LOVE to do the stroll, we're gonna bag it & just take the books on Monday and be happy about it. They're all paid for & will be in the mail tomorrow so will be here Monday!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cancelled Pictures.....and SCENTSY!!!...oh and a cookbook update!

Well today was supposed to be our 2nd try at Christmas pictures, just this time they're here in town. Unfortunately our picture lady came down with the flu. :(  So now we need to reschedule. I'll definitely keep everyone posted on how they turn out! Last night I got out a bunch of "props" to take with us for the pics so at least I have that stuff ready.

On another note...another extremely generous friend of mine has offered to do a Scentsy Fundraiser for us. For those of you that don't know what Scentsy is (cause I was one of those people about 2 months ago)...its wickless candles. The stuff that smells so good melts in a jar & makes the room smell so great. This is a catalog/online party that ends this Saturday. There is also an open house for those of you who live in Lewistown & would like to come to my house for some smellin-good-times!

The Open House is Sat, Dec 4th from 2pm - 6pm. Stop by whenever is most convenient for you! If you need directions just let me know.

The online party is available by clicking on the "Brooklyn's Best" link at: www.scentsy.com/rachelandersen

Thanks in advance for all the support. It means a lot!!

Now for the cookbook update: I called the company today & for the very first time I spoke with someone not so nice. Dustin then called & we now have a "contact person" who we can talk to each time we call so that we're not always talking to a different person. I was going to have a booth at the Christmas Stroll on Friday night...selling cookbooks, hot drinks, & goodies. Unfortunately, since I'm out of books I can't do that. :(  Last Monday I was told that they may be here by then, and to call back today. Then today they said there's no way! They can probably be printed by Friday but they can't be here by then. Oh well I guess, what can you do?! So best case scenario: I'll have the books in a week....which, in the long run, I'm happy with. If I couldn't do the Christmas Stroll at least I'll have the books in PLENTY of time for Christmas!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bad, bad pictures :_(

It's November which means it's Christmas picture time!! I enjoyed getting Cali's Christmas pictures taken so much the last 2 years so I was even more excited this year now that we have TWO daughters! For those of you that don't know...we live in a small town so every time we get pictures taken we go to Sears in Billings or Great Falls. I made an appt for Tues the 16th at 1pm. I wanted to get there early so I could buy the girls their Christmas dresses.

(I do need to make a very quick side note...I need everyone to know that we're still living our lives as though Brooklyn didn't have a nevus. This means that we use our OWN money for anything and everything. We are BY NO MEANS using any of the donation/Brooklyn's Best money for our own personal use. I have said & I will always say, and mean, that that money is being used for insurance deductibles, anything that insurance doesn't pay, and for our trips to/from Chicago. So when I talk about getting Christmas pictures taken this is just like EVERY OTHER YEAR meaning that we save up for them & use our OWN money. I just wanted to make that clear, so that I don't have to repeat myself time after time!)

Anyways, we got to Sears just after noon, found 2 matching adorable red dresses with velvet darker red polka dots on them with a red velvet belt...soooo cute! I'd brought white tights & then my mom bought them cute black shoes. We got to the portrait studio at 12:45pm & was told that it'd still be about 15 mins. We got the girls dressed & waited. Then we waited some more...and more...and waited more. It was 1:15pm & we were still waiting. Cali was running around & dancing around, playing with their toys. Thankfully she was being a very good girl.

The lady that was there taking pictures was finishing up with the people there before us. She had to "fix" their pictures & then show them their pictures. Right as it was our time to go in, another lady came in with her picture CD & asked to go through her pictures on their computer. So the lady taking the pictures helped her first! By now it was 1:30pm & we'd waited 45 mins. Then the lady said that she had to help the people before us actually place their order so she had the girl there that was training start our pictures.

VERY long story short, we had to show the girl how to place the girls on the table thing with the background b/c she didn't know. Sears takes 9 pictures for you to choose from. Well this girl started by just practicing & she took a horrible picture of Brooklyn.

Finally the original lady came in (who I found out later was the supervisor of the place) & she started our pictures. By now it was like 1:50pm. She did get out some cute backgrounds and she got Cali to smile beautifully.

Unfortunately though, my Little Miss Smily Brooklyn would NOT smile. She just had this fixed-jaw look like she was mad or confused! And to top it all off, she wouldn't take her hand out of her mouth. The lady wouldn't try to get her to laugh, smile, or take her hand out of her mouth. She'd just take a picture & tell us how "cute" it was, when we obviously could see that it was a bad picture. Then she'd tell us "oh it's ok we take 9 pictures...we still have a few to go".

cute of Cali but not as much so of Brooklyn

again...cute of Cali but Brookie isn't even looking at the camera!
 But by then she'd already taken the 9...and there were only 2 cute ones...unfortunately they were just the 2 individual ones of Cali. I don't at all want to say that the pictures of my girls were horrible, but believe me, they were not good! There was no way I could have picked out the pictures to share with everyone. I could NOT get excited about them & want to show them off.

kinda looks like she's falling...or flying!

this one's actually adorable of Brooklyn...but Cali isn't looking

It's 2:30pm now. So she "fixed" our pictures by adding borders & collages and then came & showed them to me...and then she said, get this...."ok well it's my break time now so I'll be back in 1/2 hr". And then she left!!! Another worker had come in at 2pm, but was busy taking pictures of another family. She said that if I got done picking out what pictures I want that the other girl would help me. I asked about pricing because last time we got a pretty good deal & this time I had a 40% off coupon. She basically only allowed me a $199.98 package or a $189.98 package. She said that the CD, even with the 40% off, would be $150. All I could do was laugh in disgust because their prices seem to change every single time I go in that place!

this is the fixed-jaw look that she was into that day!
 So she went on her much needed break...HA...and I just picked 1 of each picture (took me about 5 mins) and then stood up so the other worker could see I was done. I stood there for 20 minutes!! Finally she says to me "Did you need something"...uh hello?!!! "YES!! I just want to go!" I said. She came over about 5 mins later (at about 2:55pm) and started putting my order in the computer. Unfortunately for both of us I snapped at her a few times. I did apologize though cause she didn't have anything to do with it. Talk about being frusturated & sooooooo upset! I was trying SO hard to not let them see my beet-red face & tears in my eyes. THANK THE LORD my mom was there to walk around the store with the girls cause they were all antsy & just wanting to leave.

3pm rolls around & my original picture-taker comes back from her break & finishes up helping me. I paid & walked out (at 3:15pm - 2 1/2 hrs after getting there) without saying anything. I know what you're probably thinking..."WHY GET ANYTHING?!!!" I'll tell you...because these were my much-anticipated Christmas pictures! If I were to have left without getting anything then we'd be Christmas picture-less and I couldn't do that. The biggest reason, however, was because this is the last time that Brooklyn will have her pictures taken professionally in a very long time. The next time will probably be when Cali turns 3. I just wanted these to be special & I was so sad that they weren't good.

I had a day or 2 to "ponder" our experience. I was so mad that they didn't even apologize for waiting for so long & they didn't even offer me a price break or even a free 8x10!!! Naturally, I was pretty upset for the rest of that day, and then to top it all off we got stuck in Billings cause both roads into Lewistown were closed due to snow storms. So we had to go to WalMart & get toothbrushes, PJ's for the girls, etc. That certainly didn't make me happy! Anyways, I decided that I needed to either get my money back or have the Sears in Great Falls re-do my pictures. I couldn't live with these cause I couldn't pick a "good enough" one to send in our Christmas cards. I called the Sears portraits customer service number & the lady I spoke with was very nice. She apologized profusely & then looked at the pictures. She agreed that they were not good pictures. I told her bits & pieces of my story & she just couldn't believe it. I couldn't get away with getting all my money back because I had the CD, so I got 2/3 of my money back. I'm happy with that. Even though the quality of the CD is bad, at least I got 2/3 of my money back.

So now what...we still need Christmas pictures of the girls!!!!!!! I made an appt at a place here in town so hopefully they'll be good. I actually am fairly confident that they'll turn out cute. She just doesn't have the cutesy, cheesy Christmas backgrounds that Sears does. Why have I never gone to her before? Because even though I have the CD's, Sears keeps all the pictures on their computers. So we've just gone there every time. Our 2nd try at Christmas pictures is Monday the 29th. All good luck wishes will be appreciated!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Good News & Bad News...

Well the good news is that we have sold 500 cookbooks!!! The bad news...is that we're sold out of cookbooks. :(  Thankfully though I'd already placed another order of 500 more books at the beginning of the month. They originally said 6 weeks but then said that the day may get moved up as we get closer to it. I'm going to call soon & see if there's anyway to expedite it. I have people that have already ordered books & businesses here in Lewistown that are out of them...so Im going to do everything in my power to get them here ASAP!!

So keep those orders coming & I'll send it to you as soon as they come in! (And YES, they will be in in plenty of time for Christmas!!)

Thanks to you all for the support! :o)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Awesome Support

WOW what a fast weekend this was! I'd been planning a benefit dinner in honor of Brooklyn for a couple months now. Originally I was just going to have the dinner but a friend stepped up & volunteered to be in charge of the auctions, if we decided to do that. What an amazing team we made! She (Jamie) did the auction part of it while I focused on the dinner part. Both were HUGE undertakings but we worked quite well together & we got it done.

The dinner was Sat night 11/13 at 5pm at our church here in Lewistown, MT. Originally I was going to get enough food to feed 250 because I wanted to have more than enough. Well once we had all the flyers out, a newspaper article, & radio ad's on we knew it'd probably be a bit bigger than that. I ended up ordering enough food for 300-350 people and believe it or not we served 350 people! (We had a clicker counter thing so we're fairly accurate with that number.) I'm still in awe at how many people came to show us their support!

We had probably 30'ish silent auction items and probably about 40 live auction items. (I could be off a little, but I'm probably kinda close.) Unfortunately at the last minute we were auctioneer'less so Jamie's dad stepped up & helped us out. It was a fun night of auctioning I think! We had some great items that individuals and businesses donated to us out of the kindness of their hearts. I even had total strangers call me up at home asking if they could donate stuff! Amazing how people want to help.

We were exhausted by the end of the night but we were SO happy with how things turned out. We filled the place twice, fed 350 people, sold everything in both auctions, & ate great food! We had family come from out of town as well, which was such a treat. I'll post pictures as soon as I get them!!

I have already thanked people, but I can't do it enough so here goes again: HUGE thanks to Jamie for co-planning the dinner; to Steve for the clicker-counter thing; Dan Gill for auctioneering; Harry's Place for offering to get the food for us; Dave Murray at the News Argus for writing a great article & helping out at the auction; Terri Hall at the radio station for doing interviews; Ian, Tracy, Kimo, & Dona for cooking food; all the volunteers for helping serve food, get drinks, & do dishes; the MANY individuals & businesses for donating items for both the live & silent auctions; & of course all the people that I'm forgetting. I know there's probably people out there that I'm forgetting & I apologize! I really do thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

We ended up making enough to cover 2-3 of our 5 trips to Chicago. It's a HUGE start & we are so thankful! I still have 2 1/2 boxes of cookbooks left & I have another 20 boxes coming in a few weeks! We won't stop selling cookbooks until the last surgery is over so if you know of anyone that doesn't have a cookbook yet please let them know! :o)

Thanks again to everyone who made the dinner possible. We're so thankful to have you ALL in our lives!

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's Normal!!!

Wow we've had a crazy past couple of weeks!! Here's a small update...

First, we had Brooklyn's MRI 10/19/10. As I wrote before, they said it was normal, which was great news. However, the MRI needs to be ran & read a very specific way to be able to see what we were looking for so I was a little skeptical that it wasn't done right. Nevus Outreach does tons of research so I sent our MRI to them. They have the top doctor, who specializes in this, read the MRI free of charge for us. They said it takes about a month or longer to hear back from him, but we heard back today!!! There was nothing but "Normal" all over the whole paper! Talk about having a perma-grin & letting out a HUGE sigh of relief!!!!! No NCM to worry about. I'm so thankful. :o)

Also, we've been planning this benefit dinner like crazy! It's this coming Saturday 11/13/10 at our church starting at 5pm. We're having a create-your-own pasta buffet and several desserts featured in our cookbook. I'm so looking forward to the dinner, but it's been SUCH hard work that I'm also looking forward to it being over. One person in particular, Jamie, has been more than just "help" to me. She's been amazing in planning this & we definitely owe her!!!!!

We have had SO many amazing people come forward to help us out. It's been in the forms of monetary donations, cookbook sales, auction item donations, volunteering, & prayers. I can't express my gratitude for all the thoughtfulness that everyone's showing us.

On a less positive note...we've had our share of people question what we're doing & why we're doing it. It's frusturating because these people are some of the people closest to us in our lives. Those should be the MOST supportive, not the least supportive. It's just sad when people close to you question what you believe is right. Oh well though...we know we're doing the right thing. And we know that we have to raise money. So that's all that matters.

Cookbook sales are amazing!!! I ordered 500 books but was sent 567; they came in 19 boxes. Amazingly...I only have approx 4-5 boxes left!!! We're selling them at the dinner so I'm almost positive they'll sell out! :o)  Rest assured though...another order has already been placed & it should be here within the next month.

We've had our share of mishaps too. Dustin's been not feeling well for the past day or so...has a really bad stomach ache. Then to top it off it snowed almost all day today...not fun for mail carriers. Cali has had a cough for almost a month...so she's going to the doctor tomorrow. I've been having "girl problems" and school problems too...which isn't fun. And Brooklyn is just a happy little camper!!! :o)  Nothing wrong with that girl, thank goodness. I've been busy researching & planning our first Chicago trip.

We have a jam-packed-full week ahead of us. Here's to hoping things go smooth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!