Monthly Archives: September 2009

Are we having a boy or girl?

Are we having a boy or girl? I should know in about an hour. Stay tuned, as I’ll post something here and on my Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/lopinot) and Facebook pages.

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Oliver’s stats from his 18-month checkup

Oliver had his 18-month checkup yesterday, so here are his latest stats:

Height: 34.75 inches (95th percentile)
Weight: 27 pounds, 11 ounces (75th percentile)
Head: 51.5 centimeters (97th percentile)

Still big, as you can tell. He was really good during the appointment, too. He crawled around and giggled – until his shots. Then he cried and turned purple, holding his breath. Makes us sad, but he cheered up quickly, as he always does. God love the boy.

Pregnancy Q&A: Part Deux

With Sarah’s first pregnancy, I did a couple FAQ/Q&A features on the blog to answer some questions that have come up frequently. People seemed to like it then, so let’s delve into a new round. We’ll call it “Pregnancy Q&A: Part Deux.” Here you go:

Q: Are you and Sarah having a boy or girl?
A: We aren’t sure yet. We have an ultrasound scheduled for Wednesday, so we may find out during that visit. And yes, we want to know.

Q: What do you want, a boy or girl?
A: This will sound cheesy, but I honestly will be happy with either. I’ve written on here before how it would be fantastic and totally new to have a little girl, but it also would be awesome to see Oliver grow up with a little brother.

Q: Have you picked out any names?
A: No. And so you know, we don’t plan to share the name once we do have one in place. You’ll find out in late February or early March, along with the rest of the world.

Q: When’s the due date?
A: The official due date is March 5. However, our doctor doesn’t want Sarah to go past 39 weeks, so it’ll be at least a week earlier than that.

Q: Where’s the baby’s room going to be?
A: We’re not 100 percent sure. We may convert our guest room into a room for the baby. Or we may convert that room into Oliver’s toddler room and move the baby into his current room. We’ll likely decide fairly soon, as it’s a lot of work to get a room ready for a child.

Q: How has Sarah been feeling?
A: She has had any major morning sickness symptoms for quite some time. Even when she was feeling bad, it was mostly the case of being tired and maybe a tad nauseous. Nothing major.

Q: Are you ready to have a second child?
A: No.

Q: Are you excited?
A: Yes, very much so.

Q: What’s Oliver think of the pregnancy?
A: Honestly, he doesn’t have a clue. We talk about it, and he just stares blankly. We show Sarah’s belly to Oliver, and he just reaches out and pulls her shirt back down. My guess is that maybe – just maybe – he’ll have a tiny grasp of the concept as the date nears. For now, it’s of no concern to him.

Q: How’s Sarah’s job situation?
A: Not very good. She’s still looking, along with thousands and thousands of other people in the St. Louis area. Money’s going to be tighter this go-round, that’s for sure, and I surely am nervous about it. But we’ve survived in the past and I think we’re going to be fine this time, too.

Well, that’s another official Q&A in the books. If you have any other questions for me, please leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail. I’ll try to utilize this feature again in the future. Thanks for reading.

Oliver’s first St. Louis Rams game

Sarah and I took Oliver to the St. Louis Rams game today thanks to a generous offer of free tickets from a work client. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best experience ever, I’d put this as a 3 or 4.

First, it’s a pain to get to the Edward Jones Dome. No doubt about it. Once we finally did get there, we were told by outside security we’d have to fold up the stroller because there’s no way to get it into the seating area. I’m thinking, “Wow, that stinks for handicapped people. At least I can carry this thing.”

Then, as we were showing our tickets at the entrance the woman told us we couldn’t bring the stroller in. She said it would “ruin the floor,” which was laughable as the floor was cruddier than our kitchen floor (that’s pretty bad for people who haven’t been here to see the cigarette-stained and -burned floor our lovely previous homeowner left us). Thankfully, a staffer saw us and came over to help. She allowed us to check the stroller in and pick it up after the game. That’s how the Cardinals and Blues do it, so we figured it would be the same. It worked out, at least.

Once we finally go to our seats, Oliver squirmed and squirmed and squirmed. And as quiet as the stadium seems on TV, it actually was darn loud. We covered his ears a few times.

By the second quarter, we headed out to get some food. Oliver ate an ENTIRE HOT DOG, bun and all. That’s a lot for him. I should mention that while we ate, my friend Susan came to visit with us. Good to see her. Next, we found a family restroom to change Oliver’s diaper. It was a little difficult to find. Unlike the Blues game we went to last season, there wasn’t a line of men trying to drop “dueces” and stink up the place. That was nice.

After halftime, we went back to our seats. Oliver continued to squirm – and eat. He ate everything we brought. It was a ton of food. And he drank his entire water bottle. And then, with about 5 minutes left in the game, we headed home. The game was OK, for a while, but in the end we got our butts handed to us (again). I think the Packers doubled up the score on our poor – and bad – hometown heroes. Of the Blues, Cardinals and Rams games we have taken Oliver to, this was by far the least family-friendly experience.

Here’s a picture from before we left:

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Our baby’s first haircut (OK, his seventh – but the first “real” one)

Oliver has had, I think, seven haircuts in his 18 months. The first six were done “in-house,” by Sarah’s mom or brother. But recently, Sarah took Oliver to The Hairy Elephant in O’Fallon, Mo., for his first “real” haircut. He sat in this airplane seat watching an Elmo video the entire time. No crying or fussing at all. And he looks great now, too, don’t you think? Check out the in-progress photo and one taken recently:

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Taking a swing on Oliver’s new, toddler-friendly swingset

With my wife out of work and home with Oliver seven days a week now, I figured it would be nice to give them something to do. So last weekend, I scoured Craigslist until I found a cheap, toddler-friendly swingset. It’s been quite the success so far. Oliver loves the slide and his swing. He particularly likes when I get home from work and take him out there – because I let him swing into me and make funny noises. OK, so they may just be funny noises to him, but it is darn hilarious to hear him laugh at his hardest. If you can stand my “daddy voice,” enjoy:




UPDATED ON 9/14: My Home Depot customer service story

UPDATED ON 9/14: The Home Depot Twitter folks have been in contact with me several times today and have been very honest and straight-forward, which I appreciate. They also have done a few things to remedy the situation. While I’m still frustrated by what went down, at least I know that my concerns have been heard and that makes me feel better.

Here’s my original post from 9/13:


I’ve you’ve talked to me in the past week or read my tweets (see http://www.twitter.com/justin), you know I’ve been having some issues with my local Home Depot. Since it’s been such a terrible experience, I figured I’d air out my grievances here on the blog.

First, the backstory: I’ve been living near the Harvester (St. Charles County) Home Depot for a little over four years. In that time, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on things like piant, tools, you name it. I had heard bad things about the customer service at other locations, such as the one in south St. Louis, but I’d never had a bad experience. Then, I ordered a custom door several months ago. On the day the item was supposed to have arrived by, I didn’t hear a word. Then, about a week later we finally were contacted – the door was going to be coming late. We were given a new delivery date. I was a little peeved because our old door lets water into the houes and we really needed to get it fixed. Anyway, the next delivery day comes and goes. A few days later, another call. The door is coming late again. Thankfully, it did finally come in – on the third delivery date and about four weeks – and more water damage to our house – after we were supposed to have it.

That was bad experience No. 1. And now the current story, which I like to call strikes two and three:

Last week, our garage door finally bit the dust. It had held up admirably for four years, despite some major damage caused by the previous owner of our house. The door cracked and wouldn’t go down; in fact, it sort of started to fold up like an accordian as I held the button down to close it. I backed the cars out of the garage and tried to manually close the door. As I did this, all but two wheels popped off the tracks. The door was being held by those two wheels and the wires at the front end. It was hanging there like Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible.” Then the wheels popped out and I grabbed the one end, and I held it until my strength gave out. “Bam!!!” – it came crashing down.

In a panic, I hurried to my Home Depot. There, I purchased a new garage door. That was on Tuesday night. I was told the door would be delivered on Thursday. That was the best the could do, as much as I would have liked to have the door sooner. I had no way to get it to my house, since the panels are 16 feet long.

So Thursday comes and I’ve made arrangements with my work to be at home. And I sit around, and sit around, and sit around. Then, my wife gets home so I head to the office. And she sits around, and sits around, and sits around. A little after 5 p.m. she calls the store. “Looks like they forgot to enter it into the system,” she’s told. “We will deliver on Friday.”

At this point, I’m just starting to get peeved. I mean, we’ve already gone two nights in a row with no garage door. All of our stuff – some valuable and some not – was out in the open and there for the taking. Thank goodness I have friendly neighbors. Had I lived in a shadier part of town, I’m sure a police report or two would have had to have been filed. Anyway, so just the thought of my garage being exposed had me worried every night. I’d hear a noise and peek out the window or flip the lights on and stumble out in my sleep shorts and glasses. Frustrating and nerve-wracking.


Back to Friday. So now I’ve made special arrangements with my work to be home again. The door is scheduled to arrive at 10 a.m. I work a deal out with my father-in-law to come over that afternoon to help install the door. Around 11 a.m., we still have no door so I call the store. It will be there by 2 p.m., I’m told. Even more frustrated, there’s still nothing I can do so I say “OK” and wait. And wait, and wait and wait. Around 3 p.m. I call the store. It will be there around 3:50 p.m. I’m told. I say, “Are you sure?” The guy says, “Yes, I just checked the tracking on the truck and you’re third on the delivery list.” Feeling confident, I call my father-in-law and he agrees to come over around 4 p.m.


Around that time, the garage door finally arrives. I sign the paperwork and my father-in-law arrives. We start opening the boxes and getting ready to put it together. After watching the instructional DVD (there were no written instructions – another major frustration) several times, we keep going out and looking at the parts. Something’s wrong. Finally, we determine that the panel boxes were mislabeled. We had been delivered two sets of the top two (there are four total) panels. We don’t have the bottom two panels – the bottom one, for example, should have a weather strip on it.


We can’t do any work, so the father-in-law heads home. I call the store and talk to the manager. He doesn’t really understand what I’m telling him, so he asks me to come up to the store. OMG, I’m livid by this point. But I’m trying to be nice. I head up to the store – about a 15-minute drive, mind you. Then walk to the back of the store and show him what’s wrong. I even brought pictures with me to show him. He’s really, really confused. After about 10 minutes of talking, he finally gets it. He says he’s going to have to call me back around 6:30 p.m. and that he’d get the right box to me on Saturday, even though Home Depot doesn’t deliver on Saturdays.

Around 8 p.m. (yes, 90 minutes late!) he calls. No dice. The panels will need to be delivered on Monday. I voice some major frustrations. I have my worries. Such as: my father-in-law is headed on vacation next week so I’ll have nobody to help me, my stuff will have to go all weekend sitting out in the open for burglars, and I have a job and can’t keep taking off work. I keep my cool, but I’m pretty stern.

By this point, I’ve also been tweeting with Home Depot (http://www.twitter.com/homedepot). However, not only does Home Depot not deliver on weekends, they also don’t respond to tweets after the bell rings at 5 p.m. Great customer service, let me tell you. I work in PR, and I can honestly tell the Home Depot folks this: If you’re going to be on Twitter and customer friendly, you have to be available at all hours. In fact, you have three people tweeting on your behalf. Do they all work 8-5, M-F??? Re-think your policy! It’s Sunday evening now, and not a word since Friday afternoon. Very nice.

Well, Saturday morning comes. All my stuff is still in the garage, despite me waking up and checking out there two times during the night. Around 10 a.m., the store calls. They tell me they’ll be deliverying the door that afternoon. They called in a favor with a delivery guy, since they don’t do Saturdays. Later, the door arrives. I call my father-in-law and he comes over (mind you, he lives out in Wildwood, so this is not short jaunt over to the Lopinot household – it’s about an hour each way).

Last night, around 8 p.m. we finally had the door in place. I could finally sleep easy. But I guess that’s the end of the matter for Home Depot. I haven’t heard anything from them since. I figured they’d at least refund my delivery charge or give me a coupon to use toward a future purchase. Just something for all the frustrations they put me through. But the silence remains.

So that’s it – my Home Depot customer service story. If you’ve read this far, you deserve an award. Pretty lengthy. The moral of the story: Lowe’s needs to build a store on the south side of St. Charles. I would be the store’s biggest supporter.

Celebrating (OK, not really) layoffs on Labor Day

Labor Day? Isn’t this supposed to be the big holiday where we celebrate hard-working Americans? It sure doesn’t feel special this year, not with my wife laid off along with many of my friends and associates. It’s a scary time right now, and I hope that the next year turns around for our country.

As I eat a bratwurst and hang out with family this afternoon, I’m going to count my blessings, which include two great jobs (which I need more than ever right now!), a wonderful wife, an awesome son and another child on the way. Oliver turned 18 months old yesterday – yes, a year and a half! Crazy, and it also means that Sarah’s pregnancy now has less than six months to go. Maybe that will be the “labor” for me – Sarah’s pending labor, as she will be delivering yet another beautiful life into this world early next year. Ahhh … that makes me feel much better. Time to go fire up a grill now …

Our son loves to read – and sit in his book box

Much to the joy of my reading-obsessed wife, our son loves to read. He also likes to take the books from his book box and toss them on the floor, then climb inside. He then grunts and points at the books until we pile them on top of him. Then he digs around and finds a favorite (such as Sandra Boyton’s “Moo Baa La La La”) and flips through the pages. He does this a lot, and it’s pretty cute. Below are a few pictures. Enjoy:

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