Friday, July 11, 2014

An Open Letter to PetCo

I thought I would post this letter. Maybe it will help us get a resolution from Petco. Maybe it will serve as a warning to others.

Dear PetCo Representative,

    I am writing to express my frustration and disappointment with your company. On May 17, 2014 my six year old son and I visited your [local store]. We went in search of his very first pet, and he had decided he wanted a rat. We had never had rats before, so we didn't know quite what to expect.
    My first clue should have been the way the young lady selected a rat for my son. She took four rats out of the tank, one at a time, and listened to each of them breathe. She put the first three back and finally settled on one whose “breathing sounded good.” In retrospect, this should have indicated to me that at least three of the rats in the tank were not healthy. But again, I’d never had a rat before, so I didn’t know this then. We purchased everything the salesgirl suggested, named the (female) rat Scooby, and went home with my son’s new pet.
    Once home, we set up the cage and all of the rat accessories, just as we had been instructed. My son was very happy with his new pet & I was a bit surprised by how calm she was. She explored her cage and our “free-range” area, but didn’t run or climb. She chewed on the wood and cardboard chews we provided very little, and did not play with the toys. She was friendly, and seemed to like being held. She ate her food and drank water. Since she was our first rat, I assumed this was normal behavior for a rat who had been recently relocated.
    After approximately 22 days, Scooby’s condition changed. She slept all the time in her cage, and barely explored when we let her out. She was still friendly and seemed happy to be held, but she completely stopped chewing and digging in her rag pile. By day 25, my son was seriously upset, and I was very concerned, so we took her to see our veterinarian. Upon examination, the vet discovered that Scooby the rat had lice, pinworms, and tapeworms. (I have attached a copy of the chart from the vet’s office for your review.) She reported that all of these were species-specific and could only have come from other rats. Given that Scooby had only been around other rats while at PetCo, we deduced that she was already sick when we purchased her. The vet also reported that it could take more than the 15 day health guarantee time period for the rat’s health to noticeably deteriorate. I paid the $117 vet bill and we left with our poor, sick rat and her bag of medicine.
    I went back to the store that evening, with my bag of medicine and bill in hand. I went to the checkout counter and asked whom I could talk to about the situation. The very callous young man who was running the register asked me how long we’d had the rat. When I said we’d purchased the rat nearly a month before, he stated, “Well, if it’s outside the 15 day health guarantee, there’s nothing we can do.” When I said that I understood the 15 day time period, and again asked to speak to someone else about the situation, he stated, “It’s been more than 15 days. There’s nothing they can do.” I told him that the rats in the store needed to be examined and treated because they were likely all infested, and he stated, “We can’t, like, take the rat back now or anything.” He continued to repeat this statement with little variation, and I ended up leaving. 
    Over the next three days, we nursed the poor little rat. We gave her meds for worms, and dipped her for the lice. We kept her under nearly constant supervision, and she seemed to be getting better. Then on day 28, the rat died. Thankfully, I was the one who found her and my husband and I were able to gently break the news to our son. And speaking of things breaking, that is exactly what happened to our son’s heart. He was so sad. He thought he had done something wrong. He’s only six, and didn’t understand the full situation at first.  
      Since then, we purchased new rats from a locally owned pet store (since I doubt we will ever return to a PetCo). Now that we have healthy rats, I can easily see the difference in their behavior. Healthy rats are incredibly active and have quite robust personalities. This has only confirmed to me that we purchased a sick pet from your store.
    So, here is a summary from my perspective on why this situation is bad:
1. It is simply cruel to keep rats in your store that are sick or infested with parasites. These animals should be kept healthy, and any consumer report of species-specific illness in a rat purchased from your store should have been met with concern for the animals. When I reported the situation to your employee and suggested that the other rats were likely infested, his first reaction should have been to get a manager and report it so that the rats in that tank could be examined and treated. I do not think a person needs to be an animal rights activist to care about the living conditions of animals.

2. My six year old son ended up having a heartbreaking experience with his very first pet. All parents understand that our children must learn about illness and death, but I doubt any parent wishes those lessons to begin with a child’s first “very own pet.” How many other children or families could this happen to, given the inaction of your staff? When I shared our story with a few people on Facebook and around our community, I frequently got responses such as, “That store is horrible for that,” and “Oh, they are known for selling unhealthy pets.”
3. You sold me a faulty product and then did absolutely nothing to make the situation right. I doubt that could be considered “good business.” In addition to the interruption and inconvenience to my family (because, really. Have you ever tried to “dip” a rat for lice???) we spent a large amount of money at your store on the rat, the cage, and various other supplies, as well as $117 at the veterinary office to try to save the poor thing. 
All I see in this situation are bad employee management, bad business, and generally bad ethics. I am sending copies of this letter to the [local] store, Midwest District office, and corporate office headquarters. I am asking you: what are you going to do to make this right? I will await a reply from one of your representatives.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Post-Christmas Traditions

Like many families, we have post-Christmas traditions. The day after Christmas, we hang around the house, play with new toys, enjoy leftovers, and discuss when the decorations should be taken down. (For the record, I am of the "leave them up until January 2" persuasion. My husband is more the "It's December 26, Christmas is over, get this crap out of the house TODAY" type.)

Most of these are pretty common, but we have another favorite that may be a little uncommon. Unless you come from a hunting/shooting family in the Midwest. At some point in the days after Christmas we like to take our gingerbread house outside and dispose of it by shooting it with the pellet gun.

We used to just toss it, but when our oldest was going through his "demolition phase" we thought it might be fun to let him take a hammer to it.

Then two years ago, when the younger one had just discovered the fun that is family firearms time, he asked if we could shoot it. Thus began a family tradition. We all take turns, inspecting the damage after each shot. This year was great fun because everybody hit their mark at least twice, and Matt pegged a couple of specific shots (e.g. taking one of the blue pom pons off the top).


 Taking aim...

There was some significant structural damage.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

In Everything Give Thanks

It's November, and now that things in our [new] house are beginning to fall into place, we've started doing our Family Faith projects each month. As usual, our theme for November is giving thanks.

Last year, we did a tree with fall leaves. This year, PumpkinButt requested a cornucopia.

I took these before we actually started, so it's pretty bare up there. I also got excited & took the pictures before I put the scripture up.

The deal is that every day in November, we each write something we are thankful for on a fruit/vegetable. Then we color it, cut it out, and hang it up on the board. (This way my kids get fine motor practice too!) This is always something we mention during the "thank you" portion of our bedtime prayers, and we talk about things during the day that could later be put on the board. This way, we're incorporating it throughout our day. I'll take more photos throughout the month as we start to fill it up.

How do you give thanks?

Saturday, November 2, 2013


I cannot believe my last post was in July. That's so sad. But my lack of posting is a testament to how busy we've been. A lot has changed in the past several months. I will spare you the details (for now) and just give the bullet points:
  • We moved. 
  • I went part-time at work.
  • We pulled our boys out of public school and homeschool.
Ok. So that's only three changes, but they're all HUGE ones. And they all happened in a matter of weeks. I'm still reeling, unpacking, organizing, and trying to find my retainers. (If you happen to see them, will you please let me know?)

Anyway, what I really want to share today are pictures from Halloween! It was SugarPlum's first Halloween, and probably the only one ever that she didn't have a say in her costume.

This year we had a duck hunter, Batman, and Robin.

 Hubby dressed as a busy Dad who had to work late, and then return to work after the celebrating was over. (Which was a huge bummer.) I went as a homeschool mom:

easiest. costume. ever. 

I was already wearing the mismatched pajamas, teether clipped to my shirt, and messy topknot hairdo (complete with pencils).  I just added a few extra Cheerios to my hair, and I was ready to go! Am I the only homeschool mom who feels this way?

We partied with Hubby's family, trick or treated, and consumed way too much sugar.

Here are a few more images of our festivities (which pretty well lasted all month long).
We managed to get a little decorating done...

I am always in charge of the deviled eggs at family events!

SugarPlum actually kept her headband on (for a while, anyway).

We did a few great fine motor activities and decorated the mantel.

October + science = making slime.
What did you do for Halloween???

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Try it Out Tuesday: DIY Hand Soap

This week is a TiOT two-fer!

First up: Microwaved Soap
(Find the Pin here, and the original post here.)

Now, you might be asking yourself, "Why would anyone want to microwave soap?"

Actually, there are a couple of reasons, but the reason I tried it was to spare my children the task of grating the 1 1/2 bars of Ivory Soap needed to make our own liquid hand soap. A couple of years ago, they were so excited to take a bar of soap to the cheese grater for laundry detergent. It was a treat, a fun task; they even argued over who got to do it.

...then the shine wore off and now I find myself suspiciously alone in an empty room whenever I get out the grater.

So. I took to Pinterest to see if there was a less "painful" way to get a bar of soap ready for melting.

Summary: Putting about a bar of Ivory Soap into your microwave will cause it to expand (Easter Peep-style), but it will stay in its new airy, poofy state after the microwaving has ceased. (Unlike the Peep, which shrinks back do to its original size, but not necessarily its original shape.) The Pin clearly states that it must be Ivory Soap, and that it might be done in sections because it gets, like, really poofy.

I cut my bar of Ivory into 4 pieces, put it on a microwave-safe plate, and turned it on for two minutes. We waited. And watched. (Seriously, it's a little sad - you might've thought we were watching brain surgery take place in there...)

And this is what happened:

It was a success. The boys played with the outcome, and eventually tore it into tiny bits, which went into a pot for soap-making.
None! It was simple and fun. My house did smell strongly of Ivory soap for about a day, but I didn't think it was too bad.
Will I Do This Again?
You betcha! It was fun to watch, the boys got to play with it, and I ultimately got my "shredded" bar of soap for melting (with zero complaining).

Book Two: DIY Liquid Soap
(Find the Pin here, and the original post here.)
If you've been to a store lately, you've probably noticed that things are getting expensive. If you've read the label on a product lately, you've probably noticed that most of the stuff we put in - and on - our bodies is full of unpronounceable chemicals. Enter DIY liquid soap. After doing some research on various recipes, I realized that the same recipe can be used for hand soap and for body wash.

Two birds+one stone=awesome.

You, too can make your own liquid soap simply by grating a few bars of Ivory Soap into a big pot, and then melting it with some water. You then let it cool overnight, and add more water and more heat in the morning.

I followed the instructions exactly, except that I didn't. I followed the procedure exactly, but I cut the recipe in half. The original makes two gallons of the stuff, and what if it was an epic fail? I'd have two gallons of something that's not soap to dispose of.

Here is my experiment, in pictures:

It was easy to do, and made a gallon of... stuff that will clean hands and faces. It lathers like it should. Mostly. And it cost me less than a dollar.

My soap has an odd texture. It was rather gelatinous at first (think slightly melted Jello). I attacked it with my emulsion blender, and it loosened up, but still had a slimy texture (think Flarp or Gak... maybe snot). I put it in the bottle, and since then it seems to have set up again. When I filled a dispenser yesterday, I had to sort of squeeze the bottle to get it out. Then I had to use a table knife to cut the slime & avoid over-filling the dispenser. After adding a little water & shaking the dispenser, it works fine.

Will I Do This Again?
Yes. Because I am a glutton for punishment & I refuse to be beaten by a bar of soap. The next time, though, I will follow both the procedure and the recipe. And then we'll see what happens. For now we will use what I made, as it does the job it is meant to do.

Try it Out Tuesday is a semi-regular feature here on the Purple Brick Road.
I try out pins from Pinterest and report the results... so you don't have to.
Got a Pin you want me to try for you? Leave the link in a comment, and I'll check it out!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Big. Scary. Blessings.

We've got a LOT going on here at the Purple Brick Road. Here's a quick summary:

1) We now homeschool. All year round. We have taken the huge step of pulling the boys out of public school, and started our school year on July 8. So far, it's going well. We've had a few bumps in the road, but mostly we've been feeling our way & are beginning to figure out what works best for us.

2) Back in May, my Popi (grandpa) passed away. It has been incredibly difficult for me, as we were very close. I still have moments where I want to ask him a question, or tell him something interesting... and then realize that I can't now. This grieving process has been a slow one for me, and seems to still be dragging on. I am surprised by the patience I've had with it, though. I'm just praying a lot and letting it run its course.

3) We are in the middle of moving. (While simultaneously grieving, learning to homeschool, and figuring out how to be a stay at home mom...) We are so blessed to be able to buy my grandparents' house. It's a lovely, small house that my Popi built (as in: with his own hands) 60 years ago. Nani (my grandma) is moving into a small apartment so she'll have less to take care of.  I'll post more about the house & its history when the move is done.

4) In the middle of packing and hauling, I'm also organizing and purging. Matt & I have lived in this house for 13 years. We've unfortunately collected a lot of junk crap stuff. I'm spending most afternoons, evenings, and weekends sorting through it all. We are packing the things that will be moved, & pricing the things that will not be moved. My sister & I are having a garage sale in two weeks, so... yeah. We have to prepare for that.

5) We have a trip to Woodstock, IL in our near future. This trip has been planned for months & months. I was looking forward to visiting the extended in-laws, but in the midst of all this craziness, my excitement is waning. There's just so. much. todo.

6) The school year begins in just a few weeks for the district in which I work. I'm still working part time (since we made some really stupid financial decision in our youth our current financial state requires income from both of us). I'm still waiting on the Lord to show me exactly how I am  to homeschool 2 boys, take care of a baby, run a household, and work two days a week (while moving, renovating, and trying to find a few moments to knit). *Gulp* Pray for me, will ya?

So that's about it. (Isn't that enough?) Despite the disorganization, time crunch, huge goals, and adjusting to this new season in our lives, almost all of this is a blessing. It's all a big, scary blessing. Which scares me. But I'm living in a state of perpetual gratitude. With every breath, I'm thanking God for answers to prayers, for scary blessings, for things to learn, and for this incredible adventure!

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Baptism!

Our beautiful baby girl was baptized last Saturday evening. It was a lovely ceremony, and our new pastor even used her baptism as the base for his sermon. It was so wonderful to see our daughter begin her journey of faith.

She has two godmothers: her Aunt Angie (my sister in law) and her Aunt Becca (my life-long best friend. Seriously - we've literally been best friends since I was born.) Both are strong women of faith, and I know that they will lovingly guide her through matters of faith and morality.

After church, our fmaily came back to our house for the three F's: Family, Fellowship, and Food.

One of my little sisters is a professional photographer, so all of our important events are recorded beautifully. You can see the wonderful video she made here. And for specifics on Kinsye's gown and bonnet, check out my knit blog. In the mean time, I'll leave you with a couple of photos of our adorable baby from her photo shoot this afternoon.