Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Carousel of Happiness

The Carousel of Happiness is a newer addition to the town of Nederland, and yet has managed to assert itself in such a way to already feel like it has been there forever.

I'm also pretty sure they were working on making it before I was even alive, with all the hand-carved animals being made by one local man.

And it is one of those really unique local and awesome things to go do with small children or visiting touristy sorts.

(See, we have things besides beer and pot and hiking and/or skiing here. Not a lot of things, but a few.)


The animals themselves are quite pretty, although I personally think that some of the ambiance of the experience is in the other details. There are animals up on top of the carousal looking down at you. There are fairies and flowers tucked in all sorts of nooks and crannies. During the summer the walls open up, and the carousel is suddenly an outdoor experience. There is an upstairs room with a puppet theater and window seat overlooking the carousel, and watching it go around from that view is nearly as exciting as riding it to some small people (and that angle gives an excellent view of the critters hanging out on top).

And one of these days, I will manage to at least attempt to capture some of these things in picture form. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Culture of Target

A big part of working at Target is being a happy person.

One of the long standing key core roles of every position in the store is being fast fun and friendly for the people shopping.

You can get reprimanded for failing to do so, and ultimately even fired over something like not being cheerful enough when greeting people in the store.

(At least, plausibly could....)

Last fall, Target rolled out a new program called The Vibe.

(I don't think they could have made a worse name for it if they tried, in so far as giving immature employees (or like, the entire work-staff of Target) an easy thing to make horribly inappropriate jokes with.)

The essence of it is Target trying to compete with things like Amazon by ramping up the one thing they have that online shopping doesn't, the human experience.

Thus, us employees are supposed to be even more ridiculously nice than ever before and go to extreme lengths to make sure you have an amazing moment while shopping in the store.

(Usually this boils down to me ripping open packages so you can see the product and digging through the backroom hoping for a miracle to find whatever it is you want that isn't in the computer system as being back there, as sometimes life just isn't as amazing as it could be.)

I think the idea has real merit to it, although I don't think it was rolled out into our store particularly well.

However, there is something that has been bugging me a little as I have pondered the greater purpose of creating vibe moments (and they think nobody even listens at huddle).

It's the overall culture of the store.

See, the amount of niceness we are supposed to be towards people shopping is truly at unprecidented levels (which isn't saying we necissarily do it, but just that we are supposed to if we were really following the vibe philosophy body, heart, and soul), but there is no mention what-so-ever of how we are to behave to our fellow employees.

And there are many, particularly in the middle management level, whom I think have deplorable behavior to their coworkers.

There is no helping each other out. There is no treating each other with simple respect as another human being, much less any amount of kindness. There is no team feeling despite all the teamspeak.

People are rude and mean and petty and it can be a horrible culture at times.

(Interesting side note, I was really seeing this a lot on Friday, the same day as the middle management bimonthly meeting, which means ALL of them were in the store at once, so maybe some of the problem is just when their numbers are over concentrated?)

And so I was thinking, what if we put some small amount of effort into helping out each other? Or understanding that the store as a whole fails if one person's area fails? Or just being kind because sometimes it's better to be kind than right?

(Or even just mandating standards for how people in managements positions should be allowed to speak to each other?)

Personally, if someone is warm and friendly towards me, I am going to turn around and be all the sweeter to the next person I see (which just might be a guest shopping!).

Then again, I'm probably far to socialist thinking to understand the finer nuances of big business, and I'm definitely too far down on the chain of command to have any such ideas matter in the least to anyone in a position to make changes at the store.

But maybe someday I won't be.....

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

10 Things that would Dramatically Improve Air Travel with Children

  1. Lap Protectors. Ginger ale met my crotch twice in our most recent plane ride thanks to my little sweetlings. Lets just say it's not one of those situations that's going to improve anything for anyone. 
  2. Airplane Food my Children will Eat. Sure they have those super fancy and overpriced cranberry nut bread turkey sandwiches (which to be fair, I didn't even try to offer them) and gummy bears, but neither of those are really going to cut it for the "oh crap, I forgot you need dinner and now we're on a 4 hour flight and it's dinner time" moments for those with small children. Really now, would happy meals (or even like, a  kid friendly sandwich and apple sauce cup) be so hard?
  3. Car Side Car Seat Pick Up and Delivery Service. The off site airport parking is getting close, where they pick you up right at your car. But I think a more universal approach could be implemented as standard operating procedure. Or at least something where I didn't have to choose between signing away the integrity of the seat for checking vs. the challenge of hauling these large, cumbersome, heavy things through the airport on top of luggage and children.
  4. Complimentary Bathroom Escort Service. I don't know when most people think children are totally old enough to handle a potty trip in an airplane by themselves, but I'm going to guess about the time they can figure out how to work the door locks without locking themselves in and subsequently freaking out. Lets just say my five year old isn't there yet, and therefore needs to be accompanied on every potty trip. Therefore, all subsequent younger children also need to be dragged along on this venture. Have you been in an airplane restroom recently?
  5. Dropped Toy Retrieval Methods. Some of us don't have a lot of patience for climbing around under airplane seats searching for teeny tiny little princess dolls. Also, some of us are slightly self conscience about the view of ones (possibly ginger ale soaked) rear end this searching gives the rest of the plane passengers. 
  6. Automatic Upgrade to First Class for Nursing Mamas. You see, the thing about nursing a baby any larger than a newborn is that they take up a certain amount of lateral room in the standard boobie clutch hold, and things like heads extend out past the shoulder. This means that your baby has their feet on the poor stranger next to you and their head in constant fear of being taken out by a flight attendant with drink cart. The standard airplane seats are simply not wide enough to be remotely comfortable for anyone involved. 
  7. Arm Rest Button Lockout Mode. There is a reason cars have them for the back seat. Planes should get on the ball here.
  8. No Window Rows. This may sound like an odd one, as many a young traveler has enjoyed looking out the window for many a plane ride. However, many a mother has nearly lost her sanity as a direct result of her children squabbling over who gets the window seat.
  9. In-Airport Playgrounds. These exist, but not nearly in such a quantity as to make life SOOOOO much better for the unfortunate souls traveling with little children.
  10. Security Check Point Baby Holders. It doesn't have to be fancy, but it is ridiculously hard to get through security check point traveling solo with a small baby or fast sprinting toddler because you are trying to do EVERYTHING one handed (take off your coat, fold up the stroller, get your shoes back on) and having a place to put the baby or constrain the toddler would make such a difference. And really, if TSA is going to have all this time and energy to spend taking vapor samples of my baby's sippy cup, couldn't a small pack-n-play be somehow worked into it?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Newest Favoritest Thing

This morning began at 2:40am.

Do not be alarmed, for this is the time I have been getting up every day for work the past couple of weeks.

(Well ok, maybe you should be alarmed, as it has not been pretty of my sleep cycle or eating habits or general capacity to achieve a whole lot outside of work, but do not, however, assume it out of the ordinary.)

But today I was not going to work.

(Well, I actually wanted to go by to buy a few little things I had forgotten to get the day before, but I didn't know if my Marty-is-a-super-awesome-employee status would actually extend to letting my shop at most definitely closed store times when I'm totally not working.)

Today I was going on an airplane to go visit some cousins.

(Well, technically they would be cousins/aunts/uncles/etc. of my ex-husband, but we'll save the story of how that happened for another day.)

And somewhat impulsively yesterday I had picked up a pair of new coloring pads for the girls.

Did you know Target now carries a very select assortment of Melissa and Doug toys? I was rather excited by this, and even for reasons beyond them being cheaper than Amazon rates for a few items.

(Like getting to use my team member discount. Ahem.)

And just in case you're the technical (super geeky Target shopper??) sort, there's a front focal endcap in the toy section and a craft one (possibly on the back, I never did remember to check if it was supposed to be there or not, but it gets kinda technical about which ones should be on the front (ie- somebody paid Target more money to put their shit in prominent locations), and it just seemed like a strange one to have the back to me even though that was where I was told to put it) over in office supplies.

And should you be in the vicinity of the Boulder store, you can see both of them which were put up by me. They have fancy yellow header displays and backer paper. Backer paper is an often overlooked detail of stupid-shit-we-do-in-the-store-that-makes-it-better-than-Walmart, but lets just say it's now a core part of my job now and thus I'm assuming you will in any way care about it too.

But getting back to the purchases I make because I work there..........

These pads are the magic paper sort where if you color it with the special marker the colors and pictures appear. They are marketed into very travel-oriented pads, and come in three varieties of purple fairy, pink princess, and orange something-or-other-that's-not-hyper-girly.

And my children L-O-V-E them.

No really, they colored pictures in them for the last third of our plane ride, and then Kristina spent much of the afternoon asking me why she couldn't color in it more ("because they are for the plane" "but whhhhhy?" "because they are special drawing pads for the plane" "can I color my princess pad NOW?" "are we on a plane?" "yes").

This may not sound like life-changing material to your average person.

Your average person clearly does not know how much 45 minutes (and they would have done it for LONGER had I not made them put them away because the plane was landing) of quietly entertained sitting still children without requiring my direct amusing of them is worth.

Also, I would just like to point out that it is a toy that BOTH my very different children seemed to enjoy EQUALLY well.

That is a huge ground-breaking thing in of itself!

So, I would just like to conclude the rambles that I'm calling blogging this evening with one more unpaid promotional pitch for the Melissa and Doug magic color pad, which is totally $4.99 at Target.

You know, just in case you want your world to be epically changed or to at least buy some cheap and highly portable amusement for a small child.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Oh Hey There Internets

Hi.

Remember me?

I blog here.

Sometimes....

(Or so they tell me.) 

So, it's been a bit of a hectic couple months, with lots of crazy life going on.

There have been additional recent complications, like me changing work centers (again...) which is only important for this post in so far as it changed my hours around so now the time I often spent blogging should be being spent sleeping (and maybe even is like 30% of the time!), and I haven't figured out new blogging time yet in my schedule (or like, how to eat lunch).

And then my laptop ate shit and died this week and I was without internet except on my lunch breaks from work on my cell phone for DAYS.

(It was a very traumatic experience for me. I may need therapy. And that's just to come to terms with my internet addiction, not to deal with the trauma caused from my lack of it for half a week.) 

So...

The blogging thing.

It hasn't been happening that much.

But the part which I actually feel BAD about (vs. the usual levels of low laying guilt) is that it was Adrianna's birthday on Monday, and I have not gotten a birthday post done for her.

I had plans.

Ideas.

Notes.

Pictures!

And then the laptop with the pictures and some of the notes on it turned into a lovely hunk of useless metal.

(Well, perhaps I shouldn't say useless. It makes a very nice paperweight... and does absolutely nothing else, since it won't even turn on.)

And I just did not have it in my to pull something together after the frustration and coming to terms with the computers lack of functionality.

So, sorry babygirl.

It wasn't a good year for your birthday.

However, at least I kinda sorta have a making-up-for-my-total-parent-suckiness-from-complete-lack-of-party-planning-or-want-to-do-one in the works.

You see, we're leaving in less than a week (holy shit that's soon, I need to like, pack, or something... maybe.....) to go visit the cousins in DC.

I'm pretty sure the part that makes a small child's eating of cake and playing with balloons into official party material (since she totally had cake balloons and presents on her actual birthday here at the house with sister and grandparents) is when there are other small children present.

Therefore, coordinating to have all the little cousins around at the same time (and lets face it, there were good odds we'd have an afternoon with at least 3/4s of them all there at once anyways) AND cake... well now, that sounds like instant 3 year old birthday party to me! Throw in some balloons and those blowy things, and it'll be catalog picture worthy. 

(Ok, AND it gets me out of one horribly awkward social event with the other preschool parents whom I am just terrible at befriending and still kinda dread the obligated parental functions that require standing around and making small talk by using family members as friend substitutes for her. But you know what, if I just give that child enough cake, she's not going to actually care who is eating it with her....)

Yep, this could work for us... 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013