Thursday, February 27, 2014

In hindsight, after closing

NewYellowHouse
It all feels so meant to be.

We closed on the house yesterday. Now that the home-buying process is over with, in hindsight it doesn't seem so bad. Hopefully we'll be able to say the same thing about the next two weeks, once hindsight has arrived.

When we submitted our offer, we included a homebuyer letter, to tell the seller how much we loved this house. In fact, my advice in this competitive market would be to always submit your offer with a personal homebuyer letter, we think it made all the difference. When we met her, we learned she had saved our letter, and she told us she had been sharing it with all her friends. This closing was a casual, very friendly one. There were hugs. This was a good experience. Justin and I love this home. The seller seems delighted to have found a young family to sell it to--apparently she had rejected selling it to some flippers. {Serves 'em right.}
Back of house
We take possession on Saturday, and from there it's paint paint paint, sand sand sand, stain stain stain, finish finish finish, then finally, MOVE. We have our work cut out for us; all of this should really be done before we move in. The hardwood floors are worn in places, and really the only good time to do such a thing is before anyone or any furniture is moved into the place.
Beveled glass windows Justin's parents are fantastic DIYers. My father-in-law spent two days last week cleaning up our neglected rental yard, while my mother-in-law painted Violet's room back to white. All the grandparents have been doing a lot of babysitting. I can't imagine not having our family here!

So that's where we stand now! Homeowners and up to our necks in projects. Already? Already.
Dining room from garage/basement entrance
I know exactly what I want to do with the living room and dining room, and since that requires painting on the ceiling area some, we also should/need to get that done {very quickly} before refinishing the floors. SO, I'll be rushing to get a good paint job done on Saturday afternoon while Justin starts ripping up carpets in the master bedroom, and sanding the bedroom floors. Look at all the wood beams! Let's just say, if you're a big fan of woodgrain...you're about to become very put out with me. Sorry. Just be glad I'm not painting the floors.
The girls' room
If anyone is reading all this and thinking, "Wow, I'd love to be in on that! I wish they would invite me {and ten of my friends} over to help!" then by all means, do join us. No really, you won't be imposing at all! No, I mean it, we insist. We'll even supply pizza and beer.

Heheh...
Basement laundry/kitchen
Oh, and if anyone in the Denver area needs a referral for an AWESOME Realtor and a just-as-AWESOME loan officer, we're the people to ask. We're pretty sure God was watching out for us even on those decisions, how we met our Realtor seemed kismet. We also know of some amazing programs that Denver has for first-time home buyers, so feel free to ask. In hindsight, this whole process could not have gone more smoothly if we'd been on ice skates.

Thanks for all the encouragement :-)

Oh, one last thing. I tried to do a video blog last night with Justin and me. This video, I kid you not, was the best one we got. That's not saying much, considering I recorded most of it upside down after getting confused with the screen rotation. Watch it if you want. I don't think I have a future career in video blogging. {And if you watch it and wonder what a Smeg is, see here.} Also, I really did do a study on fracking {aka hydraulic fracturing} last night too, I'd even say I got a crash course on the subject.

Cheers,
Heather

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Violet's Totally Normal 3rd Birthday

Violet's 3rd Birthday

Sweet Violet, I hope someday you will understand why your 3rd birthday was totally normal.

I throw detailed parties because I enjoy it. I started off the extreme birthday party tradition strong, with Eisley's Alice in Wonderland 1st birthday party. Her carnival themed party followed, which was really fun. Eisley's 3rd birthday party was cowgirl themed. Then Violet's Little Red Riding Hood 1st birthday party is probably still my favorite. Violet's 2nd birthday was Dumbo themed with a clown and everything! Eisley's "Eis Cream" party, which was what me "cutting back" on parties looks like. She also got the tiger themed party this year.

After all of THAT you can only imagine how hard it was for me to let Violet's birthday go by without so much as a cute invitation or party favor. We're moving, you see. Half-packed, painting walls, cleaning carpets and preparing to refinish the hardwood floors in the house we close on tomorrow. This was just a bad time to throw a party. So we didn't.

Of course, I know, she is three. This is not a big deal. She will not remember not getting a bouncing castle, a three-tiered cake, or a handmade bunting to decorate her princess party. But I sort of like making a big deal out of birthdays and parties, in case you couldn't tell. So I still had a hard time with it. Mommy guilt. Okay, and maybe a part of me keeps looking at her sideways and wondering if she is wondering why she isn't getting a fun party for her birthday and it means we don't love her...STOP IT, HEATHER! Next year's party better have, like, dancing purple and orange kangaroos or something spectacular like that to make up for her "lackluster" very simple 3rd birthday party.

Simply put: we partied like normal people this time.
Violet's 3rd Birthday
Violet has recently turned into quite the girly girl. She loves pink, princesses, and pretty things. So, in attempt to make this day at least somewhat memorable and Violet-esque, we headed over to Jack & Jill's Salon to get our nails and hair done.
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She was really quiet, but she really enjoyed getting the princess treatment. We had planned on Eisley and Violet getting their hair and nails done together, but Eisley was scared and refused. Ha! My older child...who knew she'd be that kid. Since I cut the hair in this house, Eisley has never been to a real salon and was very apprehensive about it. We weren't about to force her to get her nails polished.
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This is exactly what my job looked like when I worked at Lollilocks for a few years. Lollilocks is closed now, but it was right down the lane from Jack & Jill's. It's hard work cutting kids hair, but the tips were really good and it forces you to become a fast, good hairstylist. {Parents often inspect their kids haircuts the way you could never even inspect your own haircut.} This was fun for me too, being the customer for once, instead of the cosmetologist.
Violet's 3rd Birthday
She picked pink polish with sparkles and a crown toe-ring. It was adorable!
Violet's 3rd Birthday
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She doesn't have much hair to work with, but a cute pigtail style and some sparkle spray and we were happy.
Violet's 3rd Birthday
Like the normal people we are, we headed over to Red Robin to meet just the family for a birthday lunch.
Violet's 3rd Birthday
Auntie Katie was able to make it too; she currently lives in Arizona so we didn't think she would be there. It was funny because the entire week before her normal party, Violet had been talking about Auntie Katie. She also insisted Auntie Katie would be making her birthday cake. {Auntie Katie let her down on that one.}
Violet's 3rd Birthday
The singing staff was loud. {But she liked it.}
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We also brought along some perfectly normal chocolate cupcakes to celebrate with.
Violet's 3rd Birthday
I found little violet cupcake toppers at Cake Crafts to top the normal cupcakes with. Perfect!
Violet's 3rd Birthday
It's true, kids don't need over-the-top birthday parties. Though they are fun and memorable and normal for us. This lackluster party was actually more unique just because of that. If you can even call it a party...I didn't even send out invitations or give out party favors...{somewhere my husband is reading this right now and rolling his eyes}.
Violet's 3rd BirthdayViolet's 3rd BirthdayViolet's 3rd Birthday
She did get some good gifts out of the day. Including this Little Mermaid Vanity set {can you believe I THRIFTED that at Goodwill, still new in the box!} and she has been playing with it ever since.
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We have a happy, well manicured three-year-old and that is all that matters right?
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Whatever.  


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY SWEET VIOLET!
You were two weeks and two days late. 
But you finally came, you've kept us on our toes, and we love you more each day.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

An IKEA Update

The Story

If you read my last post, you're already aware that I went up against big old IKEA on the blog this past week. After furniture fell on my two-year-old in their store, being ignored for three weeks, then finally having a "customer service manager" accuse my family and my child--I decided to vent publicly on the blog.

Welcome to 2014! My blog is my megaphone.

My mother works for a company that every person in America has heard of, and they have employees whose job is to sit there responding to tweets directed at their company. Yes, this 2014; like it or not, social media plays a distinct role in customer service. My blog is my megaphone, and after the way IKEA Centennial handled our situation--very nearly seriously injuring my child and ultimately blaming us for it--I decided to air my grievances publicly. I am not sorry I did.

It was not an easy decision. I consulted my mom and husband, as well as a few others whose opinions I hold in high regard; I had my mom editing my post for days. I thought hard over posting it. Finally, I decided, I wanted IKEA to know they couldn't ignore us and just have my family go away. My daughter wound up in the hospital over this incident, and was ultimately accused by an IKEA employee, it was no small issue as far as I was concerned. I picked up my megaphone...

It seemed to have worked.

Justin even emailed my post to international IKEA offices. Why go so far? Because when one finally feels compelled to reach for their megaphone, one doesn't merely murmur into it. One shouts.

The Response

I was shocked at the response I got from my IKEA experience post.

When I'd been consulting my mother, asking her opinion, she was supportive but warned, "You know...you're going to have people who disagree with you. People will call you bad parents and side with IKEA, they will criticize you. I just want you to be prepared for that".

I knew exactly what she meant. I've read blogs for over six years, and have read enough Daily Mail articles to know that there will always be those who take the devil's advocate route and decide to blast right back at you. I knew that going into this, and I accepted it. Obviously, I felt our story was worth it. Still, when I hit "Publish" on that post, I covered my head and ducked.

What surprised me? The overwhelming support I received! I was shocked at how many people shared my post on Facebook. I was surprised at the number of supportive comments I got, and even a few shared my post on their own pages. I received personal emails of encouragement. I was even surprised--though I've long known that Instagram is *my* social network, I love Instagram, my people are there--at how many strangers on Instagram shared, commented--even went after IKEA directly on their own page!

Wow.

I was humbled. Thank you! Some of the comments seriously moved me to tears. I felt validated. I felt like people--friends, family, and even strangers--understood my frustration and agreed. I can't say it enough...

THANK YOU!

The Call

I finally received a call from someone at IKEA Centennial that was a productive phone call. The store manager himself, John, called me to finally address our concerns over the way we had been handled since furniture had fallen on Violet at their store.

I do know my family's story has reached the IKEA USA corporate offices {quicker and with more force than a mailed letter would have, no doubt}, and was even told that our case has reached "international levels" at IKEA.

A part of me felt a bit "too little, too late" toward IKEA. I resented that I had felt pushed to such extremes to get what should have been an automatic response of concern from IKEA...the moment the incident happened, not weeks later.

But John carried the diplomatic professionalism that Rosanna hadn't. They still insist the Godmorgon was attached to the wall. Here's the thing: I didn't inspect the piece before Violet had it fall over on her. I can't say for sure, I only assumed when their employee said, "That was supposed to be attached to the wall," combined with the fact that it had fallen, that it had not actually been attached to the wall. They say their video surveillance reveals it was.

That said, I don't care whether it was attached to the wall with an iron chain or with dental floss, the point is: it fell and it shouldn't have. John and I agreed on this, thankfully. Apparently, they are still "investigating".

I am pleased to report that IKEA Centennial has apparently never had furniture fall on a child in their three years of existence. Not until Violet's incident.

I still stand by my main point, what this all whittles down to: Furniture that is PROPERLY attached to the wall WILL. NOT. COME. DOWN. Even under the strength of a mighty two-year-old.

There is no excuse. No child--whether they are wild or not, whether they have irresponsible parents or not--deserves a piece of furniture to fall on them. PERIOD. Whether Violet was being rowdy or not is a moot point. (She wasn't.) She should not have been able to pull furniture over on herself, especially within a business that presents itself as both family-friendly and expert in family furniture. Anyone who has ever been in an IKEA store would know what a joke this is. Fine, delicate furniture store IKEA is not.

John did say "We dropped the ball". And I was happy that they finally admitted that. I tried to get through that Justin and I were capable of "forgiving and forgetting", but the three weeks of no communication followed by Rosanna's call was the straw that broke the camel's back, it sent me into a justice-seeking rant of indignation. I wanted to be heard regarding a point we should all be able to agree on: furniture safety and zero excuses for a business lacking it.

He kept insisting during our 40-minute (plus) phone call that their Centennial store did  try to call us after the incident. He was so insistent that I became curious as to whether their store has been receiving pressure from "above" regarding their lack of communication with us. I'm sorry to say this is just not the case as, again, my phone records prove:


I received exactly three calls from IKEA Centennial. As you can see, all three of them were answered by me. The first was from Julie, then another almost twenty minutes later from Rosanna, and finally the call this week from John.

{Again, my attempts to call IKEA Centennial are not on this log as finding their direct phone number--though I have it now since they called me--was seemingly impossible. I ended up being directed to what seemed to be a call center, where a woman with an accent asked which store I was calling in reference too. This is something at least even John agreed was frustrating: their customers inability to call their store directly.}

He did also agree that what Rosanna communicated to me was not appropriate and that he "would be speaking with her later today" regarding our phone call. It is unfortunate, in my opinion, that the first manager I did speak to was Rosanna. I told John, that if I had been able to reach him or another more professional manager, that this might never have come this far. Unfortunately, the day of that call with Rosanna, her words represented IKEA's opinion. What an ugly opinion it was in my eyes, that some children {like my Violet} get what is coming to them by having furniture fall on them. Ick. Yes, I'd say that's a very ugly opinion.

While John was polite, cordial, respectful--basically everything Rosanna hadn't been--I did note a few hidden barbs throughout our conversation. He brought up my reference in the YouTube video I posted, as to IKEA "throwing furniture at" Violet. I pointed out--as most of my readers who know me would undoubtedly understand--that this was merely my sardonic sense of humor. Since he seemed to be using this to defend Rosanna's rudeness, I also pointed out that I hadn't posted that video until after my phone calls with Julie and Rosanna on February 13.

In the end, the phone call from John seemed to be an overall retraction of the claims Rosanna had made and so at least there's that.

The Supporters vs. Anonymous

I had known some people would criticize me and my family. I didn't expect it to be just one person. Or at least, I think it's one person.

If you've followed my Lark & Lola IKEA post, you might have noticed the handful of "Anonymous" comments I've gotten that have been critical of me and my family.

I am fairly certain these posts are all from the same person, or at least a couple of the same people. I'll go a good day and a half without any comments, then suddenly there are three to four new "Anonymous" comments within a few minutes. This certainly suggests to me it's the same person. Their wording is also highly defensive and personal for a stranger who merely disagrees with me.

Due to the wording and very passionate nature of these Anon comments, I suspect they are from someone AT IKEA or related. I also have my blog tracked, I have my visitors' IP addresses--and then some--and thus have it on good authority: this Anon commenter is either from Denver, Littleton, or Calgary, Canada. Probably an IKEA worker, if I had to guess. Maybe Rosanna? Maybe John? Doesn't matter.

I give little credence to comments posted by nameless people, especially after being overwhelmed and validated by those who truly know me and my family.

That's just the thing, the comments from my friends mean a lot--because those people know Justin and me. They know what kind of parents we are. We're not negligent ones. Again, the support has meant so much. 

The Point

The entire point of my previous IKEA posts have been to 1) get their attention and 2) raise awareness about this topic. I'm pleased to hear that IKEA Centennial has never before had furniture fall on children.

I'm disappointed it took my blog/megaphone to actually get ahold of someone. Call me old fashioned, but I think customers should actually be able to reach store managers, especially when it's to discuss trips to the ER after visiting their store.

I feel little need to respond to Anon comments. Though I figure some, even friends, might wonder why my two-year-old was wandering around IKEA that evening.

First, my two-year-old turned three yesterday. Happy birthday, Violet! In that way, Violet is not "a year from infancy" and maybe not even a toddler anymore?

The thing about parenting--and anyone who has been a parent for any amount of time will know this--there is not always a right or wrong. It is not always black and white, parenting. That night at IKEA, Justin and I were using our best judgement.

IKEA was dead that night, there was no crowd for our kids to get lost in. Over the last couple of months, Violet has expressed eagerness to join her sister outside of the cart. Also, our seven-month-old baby has started sitting up in shopping cart seats. So, over the past couple months, we've been allowing our now-three-year-old to walk about a bit.

This is not the case in most stores. For example, just this yesterday I visited our very busy and brand new Trader Joe's. Paxton was safely in his car seat in the shopping cart, Violet had her seat in the shopping cart seat--buckled in--and Eisley, my oldest, is commanded to hold onto the cart while we're shopping. In fact, I keep my hand over Eisley's hand while shopping--so that if I'm looking the other way, no one can snatch her without me knowing it. I'm that cautious.

But IKEA is a store that invites children in. They have play areas all over. The restaurant has a play/movie area, the kitchen section has a play station. This is a family-friendly store we're talking about! That quiet night at IKEA, since my husband and I were both present, we left our three-(ish)-year-old and five-year-old to walk with us. Not from us. Every day we face different situations and we adjust our rules and guidelines appropriately.

I'll make no further explanations or apologies for that.

Regarding boycotting IKEA...

Again, I was shocked at the uplifting support we received after I posted on my blog. One of the things that most surprised me was how many friends pledged to either "never shop at IKEA again" OR "think twice about visiting IKEA".

THANK YOU for your support. It was humbling.

On that note, I want to say: IKEA is a fun store. They have a lot of great products. I hope it's true that ours was the first incident of its kind in IKEA Centennial's three-year history.

If I'm being honest, even Justin and I visited IKEA and bought a mattress in the last few weeks. Of course, this was before I felt ignored for weeks, when we still thought we'd be hearing from IKEA in a professional manner, and certainly before my call with Rosanna! I'm now not sure if and when I'll go back, or even if my family really feels welcome there anymore, after all that has transpired. That said...

I don't blame any of my friends or acquaintances for wanting to shop at IKEA again, and please, don't feel like you're being disloyal to me or my family by shopping there. If you want to visit IKEA, shop away! Have fun. Just maybe avoid the Godmorgon section? ;-)

I do hope they improve how they handle situations like ours, but I don't expect you all to completely boycott IKEA out of loyalty to us, flattering as that is! We're not asking you to boycott, and I don't feel that would be fair to anyone. Humans make mistakes and hopefully one like this will never happen again.

That said, you find out who some of your real friends are in these situations! I was prepared for the criticism, but I had not been prepared for all the support. It made me all emotional. Again, I thank you for the support. TRULY. Thank you.

Cheers,
Heather

We will now return to our regularly scheduled happy blog posts. ;-)

P.S. If you can handle it, here is another story of a girl who had furniture fall on her, only she was not so lucky. Read Brooke's Story.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Dear IKEA, Your mistake could have killed my child, and we're still waiting for an apology

Dear IKEA,
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Violet Grace, age 2
Above is a photo of my precious two-year-old, Violet. She is my smart, sweet middle child, she has gorgeous strawberry blonde hair, and loves to play with my jewelry and makeup. We live in Denver, Colorado, and visit your Centennial location often. Every time we pass IKEA while driving on I-25, Violet cheerfully greets your store, "Hello/Bye-bye IKEA!!! See you next time!"

I'm writing this public letter to you today because, frankly, I feel you owe my Violet an apology. A rather overdue apology.

On the evening of January 15, 2014, my family visited your Centennial store for well over an hour. We had dinner at your IKEA restaurant before checking out the kitchen cabinet section because we are about to buy our first home and excited at the possibilities your cabinets have to offer. Our three children accompanied us and watched as my husband and I explored cabinet after cabinet, opening doors and closets to see what awaited inside.
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The night of the incident, Paxton rides safely in an IKEA cart, buckled in of course.
We had finally made our way to the end of your labyrinth of a store, and were glossing over the as-is section. My husband and I stood side by side, as my baby was buckled safely in one of your shopping carts; meanwhile my two daughters approached yet another cabinet. Violet reached up to the handle and pulled gently to open it, just as she had peered inside several other cabinets that evening...except this time the cabinet door only partially opened before the entire piece began to fall.

We watched in horror, in slow motion, as right before our eyes, a Godmorgon cabinet began to fall forward--our two precious daughters standing right in front of it.

My older daughter, who is five years old, backed out of the way as she watched it come down. Our two-year-old (Violet), however, began to back away, but tripped.  In hindsight, I think the trip saved her from devastating injuries or worse. The trip propelled her backward just in the nick of time, possibly saving her from head and spinal injuries, or possibly even death. I'd like to think an angel tripped her. Still, the 75" tall 85 lb. Godmorgon cabinet came down on her two-year-old legs.

You can imagine our horror. But can you imagine my two-year-old's horror? She was, of course, beside herself. An employee of yours stood by while another customer (who I regret not thanking and acknowledging, but I hope she forgives me as I was in shock) lifted the cabinet off of my child.

I pulled Violet, who was screaming in pain, into my arms and gently tugged off her loose cowgirl boots. The boots slipped off and I braced myself for what I'd see.

Immediately, at the top of my daughter's tiny right foot, a rather large goose-egg (contusion) was swelling up. It looked awful. I was worried it was broken. I turned to my husband and said, "How did this even happen?"

Your store employee, who was present for the incident itself, looked at us bewilderedly and said, "That was supposed to be attached to the wall." He sounded as confused and shocked as my husband and I were.

At that point, he turned to the other employees who were just arriving on the scene, and told them to attach the attacking cabinet to the wall. It was quickly chained. I have a photo of the cabinet; note the chain:

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Cabinet on the far right, a Godmorgon, fell on my two-year-old
We were told that "first aid" was on the way. A security guard named Julie would not provide us with her last name but she would give us an icepack. She asked if she could call us an ambulance, to which we replied no (we knew a hospital was just a few minutes away) and that we would take her to get X-rays. We also did not wish to further traumatize our child with an ambulance ride since her injury was not life-threatening.

From that point on, despite the half-dozen employees who were with us, no one would say anything to us except, "Our insurance people will be in touch within 72 hours."

They said that phrase several times, but that was all they said, "Our insurance people will be in touch within 72 hours." Considering what had just happened, it felt rather cold and insensitive to have several of your employees simply stare at us while uttering a rehearsed phrase. It's disappointing that none of your employees showed any signs of concern or compassion toward my injured two-year-old.

My husband and I, along with our three kids, ventured over to Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree. It was now past my children's bedtime. Fortunately, we did not have to wait too long before being taken back for X-rays on Violet's foot.

It was late, she was traumatized, and she was terrified. She screamed through the entire x-ray process; she was understandably very upset. The goose-egg started to show bruising, but much to our relief, and probably thanks to the cowgirl boots, Violet's X-ray appeared normal.
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Violet's first trip to the ER, waiting to see the doctor after X-rays
We were sent home and told to watch Violet for continuing signs of injuries. Apparently, small fractures in tiny young bones aren't always discernable, but the physician was fairly certain that she would be alright.

My husband and I breathed a sigh of relief. In the car, my husband turned to me and apologized for the way things had gone that night. I told him, "Don't apologize! I'm just so thankful it wasn't worse!" Imagine what could have happened...

I have heard of children dying after being crushed my furniture. If my Violet had not seen the cabinet falling and had not started to back away, it would have most certainly come down--all 85 lbs. of it--on her head. Her two-year-old head. It is likely that would have caused severe injuries, possibly even death, and I shudder to think of that. I believe angels were by her side that evening.

Violet was carried inside our home, well after 11 p.m. that night, given some children's pain killers, and carried to bed.
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Violet the night of January 15, 2014, showing off her "bracelet" from the hospital
She refused to walk for five days, because the injury pained her. She had visible bruises on both of her legs, from her knees down to the soles of her feet showed discolorations in various locations. It was obvious she was in pain for several days after the incident.

As of today, over three weeks later, Violet shows no signs of serious injury. We are so thankful, so relieved, so happy that God protected her that night. Many families are not so lucky. I met a nurse at a party once who was having a particularly bad day, and when she explained why, it broke my heart in pieces: she had lost a three-year-old patient. A bookcase had fallen on him.

So, IKEA, you may breathe a sigh of relief...we won't be seeking crazy amounts of money to cover medical bills for more serious injuries, nor will we be suing you for my daughter's pain and suffering.

I am, however, feeling the need to write this post up, because it's my final attempt to get ahold of you! I'm hurt, and I'm hurt for my daughter. Here's the thing...

If we had found hair in our IKEA family dinner that night, I would have expected the staff to say, "So sorry! Let us fix that."

If we had bought an expensive piece of furniture, only to have gotten it home and realized it was broken or missing parts, I would have expected your staff to say, "So sorry! Let us fix that."

If a 85-lb. piece of furniture had fallen over on my two-year-old, and your staff admitted their mistake by saying, "That was supposed to be attached to the wall..."

...I would have expected your staff to say, "SO SORRY ABOUT THAT."

Do you understand what I'm saying here? A simple acknowledgement and maybe a sign of compassion would have gone a LONG WAY. It would have soothed the anger I still feel when I remember how close my daughter came to being seriously injured, or worse. It would have comforted me to know that you really do take furniture falling on children seriously. What happened to Violet was preventable, it should have never happened. It should never happen again to any child.

Your staff shut down that night. Of the half-dozen or so employees who were present, no one apologized. In fact, no one said anything to us except a clipped, "Our insurance people will be in touch within 72 hours."

We asked for names; none of your employees would provide us with full names. The only one my husband got was, "Julie" and she refused to give her last name, so it was officially, "Julie the Security Guard".

My husband and I are not the sue-happy types of people your insurance company is apparently afraid of. My daughter, however, suffered an injured foot for days, all due to your negligence. A simple "I'm sorry" would have been really just good customer service.

You know what would have even been above and beyond customer service to me? Here's my daughter holding a mouse my kids are in love with at the moment; we bought two of them at your store for 99 cents each.
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My girls love their IKEA mice. Notice how we're staying close to our children and no furniture climbing is going on. 
You could have sent Violet home with a 99 cent mouse and said something like, "Here's a friend--on us--to keep you company at the hospital tonight!"

That, seriously IKEA, would have been just above and beyond customer service to me. I would have told my friends about how nice you'd been about it. Humans are human! We all make mistakes, but at least they owned it and tried to make Violet feel a bit better. I really admire companies that take care of their customers like that.

Sadly, your store has done NOTHING to show even a shred of compassion toward my little girl. My little girl Violet, by the way--as well documented on this 6 1/2 year old blog--walked at 8 months of age! She's so spirited and sweet. It broke my heart to see her crawl around on the floor for five days refusing to walk. Despite being minor injuries, they were injuries at your hands nonetheless.

IKEA: you hurt my daughter. Please, an apology and acknowledgement that this happened would be nice. It would make me feel better, because I watched my daughter suffer and because she is the most precious thing in the world to me--and you very nearly seriously injured her. I was scared, so scared, in that moment...watching your Godmorgon coming down on my toddler.

But at this point, we can't even get your company to acknowledge that we exist. We have been effectively "swept under the rug" as they say.

Your "insurance people" called me the next day, I'm a busy mom of three and missed the call from a Ms. Lynn J. at Liberty Mutual. I called back and left a message, she returned my call once and missed again...since then I've called and left three voicemails and they have all gone unreturned.

I was told that as far as we're concerned now, Liberty Mutual IS IKEA. Yet, your "insurance people" won't even talk to me. It's been three weeks and one day since Lynn last tried to call me.

Post Edit 2/14/14: As proof, I took this screenshot today, February 14, to show exactly how many times Ms. J--who "is IKEA" as I was told--has called me. Once on January 16, again on January 20, then--as I said--not again for three weeks. (The number I return her calls on is different, per her request in her first voicemail.)
Screenshot_2014-02-14-11-58-33

It should also be said that after missing her second call, I left a voicemail for Ms. J. at Liberty Mutual telling her exact dates and times when I would be available to take her call so that I would not miss another call from her.

I also tried to get ahold of your Centennial location store manager, however, that was made extremely difficult. Actually, seemingly impossible. I tried to reach him on January 16th to make sure, once it occurred to me that I hadn't seen them remove the offending cabinet from the scene, that your manager was aware of the incident and to make sure that the cabinet would not be sold to another family with young children. I was worried the item was defective, possibly overly-wobbly. Your call line told me that I couldn't talk to him, that I would have to go into the store. In the store, I was told he was unavailable.

Is this what you call good customer service? Nearly seriously injuring my child, sending us to the emergency room, ignoring us completely, and not even just being able to say the simple words, "I'm sorry".

Because that's all I care about! Decent, human compassion toward a child you hurt through your negligence. A two-year-old should not have a 75-inch tall cabinet fall over on her. We have several IKEA cabinets and bookcases in our home, they are all secured to walls and have never fallen on my children.

Ironically, IKEA's attempt to protect itself from a lawsuit made things worse.

I just hope you realize: there are decent people in this world who can see when a situation could have been much worse, and are thankful for it. There are people in this world who won't sue you at the drop of a hat, and that includes us. There are times when--whether you risk being sued or not--the right thing to do is to simply say:

Violet, we're sorry that happened. We'll make sure it never happens to another child in our store ever again.

Finally, I write this letter to you in a last-ditch effort--as I've felt my family has been completely ignored by you at this point--to raise awareness about the dangers of children and furniture!

Children can be killed by falling furniture! Click here for statistics, they are terrifying. People need to be made aware of this, and unfortunately your Centennial employees are among those people. In that way, an apology would have further alleviated my concern that this could happen again. For an apology generally also means, "We won't let that happen again."

Your refusal to acknowledge or apologize to my daughter just hurts my feelings on her behalf. Okay, it also just hurts my feelings as a mother, because she is SO precious to me and you nearly injured her very seriously--or worse. But also, your refusal to apologize has me worried for all the other children who visit your stores daily. Your refusal to acknowledge what happened makes me worry that you're not taking it seriously.

So there you have it, this is my final effort to get your attention. We'll see if it works...

Sincerely,
Heather, Violet's mommy

UPDATE:

After writing this letter last night (February 12, 2014) I also took the time to attempt, once again, to reach IKEA via their Twitter account. Apparently this worked as the insurance person, Ms. J, finally called me again this morning. I was nursing my son to sleep at the time and called back two hours later, but she did not answer the phone so I left yet another voicemail. This was the first time in three weeks that she attempted to call me.

My Twitter posts really did seem to finally grab IKEA's attention though, as Julie from IKEA called me later in the day also. I expressed to her my hurt and feeling offended that we had been all but ignored during the past three weeks. She was unwilling to really discuss any details with me except to say that our claim had to be handled with Liberty Mutual. I told her that I was aware of that, but that also wanted to talk with their manager about their customer service performance on January 15. It took a couple minutes to get her to agree to have a customer service manager call me (not the actual Store Manager, just one of a few "customer service managers" would call me).

(Apparently, IKEA stores have a lot of different managers. At this point, I'm fairly certain it'd be easier to reach President Obama than it is to reach IKEA Centennial's actual Store Manager.)

A few minutes later, I got another call from IKEA. A customer service manager, Roseanna, was on the line and wanted to know how she could "assist me". I told her how we felt ignored by IKEA and hurt that their negligence sent my daughter to the ER. I told her that it felt like the least they could have done was show an ounce of compassion and assure us this would never happen again to any child. I wanted to get across how cold-hearted and ugly their treatment had felt, even since the first moments after the incident. My message at this point: IKEA could have handled this better.

Unfortunately, my call with Roseanna was devastating to me. Here's what I have to say at this point: I'm disgusted. In so many words, Roseanna called us liars and accused my two-year-old.

When I told her my concern that the cabinet was wobbly and a danger to customers, I was told, "The cabinet was inspected and it was not wobbly. Your daughter yanked on it, that's why it fell over. And it was attached to the wall, but she yanked on it so hard that it broke away."

I could not believe my ears. If IKEA wished to add insult to injury, well done.

Throughout our call I could hear a male voice in the background, feeding Roseanna lines to say to me. I wonder if this was the elusive Store Manager? Either way, I felt ganged up on. Here I'd hoped to finally just find a shred of compassion from IKEA, perhaps a half-assed apology, instead I found my toddler being accused and it felt so very ugly.

She told me that they reviewed video surveillance and that my two-year-old pulled (she was sure to use the term "yanked")  an 85-lb., 75" tall Godmorgon over on herself and that it WAS attached to the wall (despite the bewildered employee at the time saying, "That was supposed to be attached to the wall!"), and that my husband and I were "in another department" when the incident occurred.

This is strange, of course, because we had no prior knowledge of Violet having superhuman strength which enables her to pull supposedly-chained-to-the-wall-furniture down on herself. My husband witnessed the entire horror scene, and I witnessed it from the moment the cabinet began to tip because Justin shouted my name immediately and I turned to watch, right before our eyes...and we did all this from another department?

Again, I repeat what Roseanna claimed: My 25-lb. two-year-old "yanked" a cabinet so hard that, despite it being chained (NOT!) to the wall, she was able to pull it down on herself while my husband and I were "in another department"...watching it happen.

Roseanna effectively insulted me. She may as well have told me that the sky is red and expected me to believe it. I asked her how one should open an IKEA cabinet without pulling on the handle so that it would not tip over on them. She had no answer for that.

In addition to having superhuman strength, Violet must also have climbing abilities like Spiderman. According to Roseanna, she was "climbing on it". So please, take a look at the Godmorgon and tell me how my two-year-old--in her slippery cowgirl boots, no less--might have possibly been climbing on it. Again, I asked Roseanna to tell me where my daughter could have possibly gotten a foothold on this item in order to climb it. She had no answer for that either.

In disbelief at the lines she was trying to sell me, I asked how any customer should open a cabinet if they can merely be "yanked" on and tip over? Roseanna replied in what I felt was a condescending tone that IKEA cabinets were meant to be opened, "by adults". Oh, please! IKEA invites, lures, children into their stores with "Kids Eat Free Tuesdays" and play areas and toys...I don't care what they accuse my toddler of, it's their job to make their store safe for the children they invite in.

Another thing, I'm glad my husband and I weren't standing right next to our children when the cabinet fell. Because I can't say for certain that an adult would have been able to catch an 85-lb. cabinet in movement, and we would have had our 6-month-old baby right there with us--the only one who couldn't have backed away by himself. That might have been worse. So call us bad parents all you want, IKEA and Roseanna, for being a mere 15 feet or so from our children in a store of 415,000 square feet. We call ourselves blessed.

All this to say, I really hate that IKEA is seemingly so scared of lawsuits (and we're not the suing type and you don't want your child to be so injured that a lawsuit is in order, we're thankful this isn't the case here) that instead of just saying, "we're sorry", and acknowledging that they need to do a better job, they have tried to completely sweep this under the rug and are telling lies which insult my intelligence. I don't want to sue them, Violet has since recovered. Trying to shut me down, however, only makes me cry louder.

I hope you're all hearing the most important point I'm trying to make here: That unsecured furniture and appliances are real dangers to children! We need more awareness of this! IKEA has so perfectly demonstrated just how much we need more awareness of this danger.

But I'm not sure how IKEA intends to take this situation and learn from it if they're still insisting that Violet, a toddler, was at fault for breaking chains and moving furniture. Which, of course, is simply preposterous.

Early on, I was advised that they would attempt to portray Justin and me as irresponsible parents who allowed this to happen. I was not prepared for just how insulting their lies would be. They say my daughter, a 25-lb. two-year-old, pulled a cabinet that was supposedly (NOT) chained to the wall over on herself--how does that even happen if it is chained to the wall? The "yank" of a two-year-old can break chains? IKEA and Roseanna expect me, or anyone, to believe this? I did not expect them to lie about the chain, but they did. They attempt to cover their tracks by saying first that the cabinet was chained to the wall when it clearly wasn't.

Furniture that is properly attached to walls WILL NOT COME DOWN. PERIOD.

Also, they implied that it is Violet's (and her parents') own fault she got injured in the first place, because she yanked on it. In so many words: we/she had it coming. If she wouldn't have pulled on the cabinet door handle then it wouldn't have happened, they said, despite being chained to the wall, they said.

That was the last straw. The most insulting part, a slap in my face: the implication that Violet, 2 years old, was being unruly enough to break a chain, to move furniture, and thus got what she deserved. 

Oh...wow...the depths to which we sink in order to avoid any blame. Oh IKEA...oh Roseanna...for shame. I am shaking my head and pursing my lips and wondering how some people sleep at night, after having told a mother that her two-year-old was responsible for her own injury while it is in fact due to the obvious negligence of IKEA Centennial's employees.

I'm terrified to think what could have happened at IKEA that night, had Violet not backed away. I want assurance that no parent will ever watch a furniture item fall down on their child in an IKEA store ever again. In 2010 alone, about 23,600 people were sent to emergency rooms after being injured by furniture. Most of those people were under 10 years old. Between 2000 and 2010, about 300 people died after having furniture fall on them.

If we had lost Violet that night, I can't help but wonder if IKEA would have treated us any differently? I wonder if, as emergency responders loaded her body into an ambulance, their employees would have still just stood there? Would they have just stood there staring at us and muttering their rehearsed phrase, "Our insurance people will be in touch." Would it have taken weeks of unreturned phone calls and Tweets to finally get their attention? I'm offended now, that they behaved this way when she was just temporarily injured. But if their customer care is this abhorrent, I pale to think of how we would have been treated if she'd actually been seriously injured or killed due to their negligence. Oh my stars, I hope this never happens to another family while visiting an IKEA store. 

If at any point during the last month someone from IKEA had reached out to us and said, even nonchalantly, "Sorry 'bout that." I would have said, "Thank you for that!" and dropped it. Completely. Instead, IKEA has refused to accept any blame and now they lower themselves to blaming a two-year-old, telling me she is strong enough to break chains and move furniture. Is this real life? Is this really happening? I didn't start out this angry. It took four weeks of being swept under the rug for my mother bear side to finally rear it's head and say, ENOUGH!

"We're just going around in circles," said Roseanna. Yes, I thought, because you're trying to convince me that my two-year-old has superhuman, chain-breaking strength and you know how ridiculous this sounds yet you say it anyway. We both know why you blame the child too, because you'll throw my family under the bus to save your image and avoid responsibility. To me, this is disgusting, abhorrent behavior, IKEA.

When I got off the phone with Roseanna I was so angry and insulted and hurt, I called my mom in tears. It is so frustrating and untrue and wrong. And I worry now for the other children who visit IKEA, since they refuse to acknowledge that this could be their fault. How dare they put other children and families at risk by avoiding taking responsibility for their mistake?

By the way, this was the first time ANY of my three children has ever required medical attention for an injury. Not to say accidents don't happen under the watch of "good parents" either. Accidents can happen to anyone! But my husband and I are not particularly easy-going when we're with our kids in public. We NEVER take our eyes off our kids in public. We were not in a different department. Justin saw the entire incident. I was with Violet, holding her, a mere second after the cabinet fell. I was there before the other customer even had a chance to lift it off of her.

Additionally, here are just two of the several IKEA items we have in our own home.
  Kitchen cupboardPyrex in kitchen

These shelving units both sit in my kitchen, and as you can see they are loaded with glass items that could really damage someone if the unit tipped over. Yet--despite my Violet having the strength, you say, to "yank" them over, and despite my husband and I being bad parents who don't watch our kids, as you implied--these shelving units have never fallen over or hurt my children. Probably because, "bad parents" that we are, we were responsible enough to attach them to the wall the moment we installed them.

This begs the question, IKEA: If we can get your furniture to not tip over on our toddler, can you?

My letter to IKEA as posted above was to be my last-ditch effort to get them to own this and recognize the problem in order to take measures to ensure it never happens again. Unfortunately, through their ridiculous lies, they've added insult to injury. I'm disgusted, and I'm not holding back my feelings any more.

I don't wish to make a mountain out of a molehill, but in my opinion, furniture-related injuries and deaths are no molehill. Abhorrent customer service, after being sent to the ER on their watch, is no molehill. Being ignored, and finally called liars, is no molehill to me. The emotions I felt as a piece of furniture that "was supposed to be attached to the wall" came down on my child before my eyes, is NOT a molehill!

To think all this could have been avoided with a simple human display of compassion, one to reassure me that this mistake was being taken seriously. One of those several employees had the ability to change ALL of this with a few words: I'm sorry. We'll fix that.

Some of you might be wondering, why post this? Why not try to contact corporate first? I considered that, but here's the thing: I can't even get a hold of your local store manager, a person who lives in my own city. He's untouchable. Why would I think I'd be taken seriously by people even higher up the ladder than him? Maybe it's time to re-think the way you're handling your customers, IKEA? I've felt pushed to reach out to you publicly. Because, so far, the only way I've gotten a response from you was after tweeting at you. That's sort of pathetic.

Finally, I would also like other families who might, heaven forbid, have a similar experience to ours, to be able to find us. I want this out there for people to find via Google, because for all I know another incident could happen at IKEA Centennial next week. Perhaps one where a child is devastatingly injured? I'd want my story to back up theirs, in the case that IKEA continues to allow such incidents to occur in their store.

Let this be a lesson to those reading this--especially large businesses who wish to also be respectable businesses--above all else, just be kind. That means, put people first, not your company image or decreasing the risk of lawsuits.

I suppose I should not have been so naive as to think there were still companies out there who would do the right thing in such a situation instead of the selfish thing: working only to cover their own butts so as not to get sued. In a way, because of this society, I get why IKEA is trying to cover their butt. I just wish it wasn't at the cost of customer service and my two-year-old's pain and suffering going completely ignored. I was naive; I feel disillusioned. I had once thought much better of IKEA.

If nothing else, take this with you: furniture and appliances falling on children is a serious problem.

Thanks for reading. Above all else, we praise God that Violet is safe and sound. My hope is that no more children will die because of dangerous furniture or appliances. I do wish IKEA and I could agree on that, instead of blaming toddlers for such situations.

Watching that cabinet tip over on Violet was among the worst moments of my life.

Learning she was going to be okay, after having a piece of furniture taller than her daddy fall on her, was one of the best moments.

I just hope it never happens again. Sadly, IKEA apparently doesn't think it's their problem.

***

Final Update - February 14, 2:26 p.m. - I just got off the phone with Ms. J at Liberty Mutual. She took a recorded statement from me and asked me to collect all the medical bills as they come in and present them to her when we have them. I also feel like I finally got a chance to vent to someone at IKEA about how this has been handled. 

Interestingly, Ms. J told me that she could only handle the claim/medical side of this issue and that the customer service concerns had to go to IKEA. That's the exact opposite of what Roseanna said to me yesterday, that "as far as you're concerned, Liberty Mutual IS IKEA. All complaints now go to them." So, in that way, I still feel like I'm being run around in circles. I still feel like IKEA doesn't give a darn how offended we are.

Still, I have to say I was really pleased at how Ms. J. handled the call. She was respectful, understanding, she let me get my feelings out, and she apologized for not getting a hold of me for three weeks. (Apparently she had been on vacation during that time.)

I had been fearful that Liberty Mutual would approach me the same way Roseanna did, and was unsure I'd be able to hold my emotions in check if they did, but that was not the case. I still think it's no coincidence that, after being ignored for three weeks, my phone finally started ringing at the same time I started tweeting. 

As for IKEA...still waiting for that apology...


{crickets chirping}


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Lighten Up

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Lighten up, Mom!
I'd be so embarrassed if you stopped by right now. Turns out 4 years, while not that long if you're a home owner, is a long time to settle into a rental. We are tentatively moving in a few short weeks, and we were smart enough to know that packing has to start like, now.

We have so much stuff! We have so much. So many toys. So many clothes. So many boxes in the basement and the garage, filled with yearbooks, wedding photos, and things I thought I'd use.

We did a lot to this little rental. We're replacing light fixtures we took down, as well as blinds, shower curtains, and knobs. We're patching holes in the walls from the TV mount and that time I threw an IKEA tray a tad too hard while trying to clear off our bed. We replaced that broken soap holder tile in the bathroom {I was trying to get the last of the shampoo out of the bottle}. We still have a list that's a million lines long of things to get done. I'm not complaining. Just whelmed. We're excited to be {tentatively} buying a house!

Speaking of the house, a small update: the home was appraised at value with no conditions {that's good}. The underwriting processed just fine and now we're just waiting to get to closing without a hiccup. That's it! Still not certain, but my 45% certainty that this will go through is now about 75%.

So we have to act like we're moving soon, at the very least.

Last time we moved, we had one child. Eisley was one year old. We didn't realize how much of a challenge it would be having THREE kids this time around. Not only is it hard because we're simply outnumbered, but Eisley and Violet are old enough to notice--but also too young to really understand.

They say moving homes is a big deal for kids, it effects them emotionally. I'm not surprised. This is the only home Violet has ever known. Paxton too. So with each item Justin or I have put into a box, there has been drama.

That's wearing on us, I won't lie. We can't pack a darn thing without one--or sometimes both--of the girls having a coniption fit about it. We have to talk them off a ledge every single time. "Don't you want your stamp set/baby clothes/swimsuits to be at the new house with us?"

We've never experienced moving with kids before.

The poor things. We've grown frustrated with them many times recently for just being kids. Because Justin and I have been having some seriously serious talks, and the kids are always around.

{We agreed: on the list of the few things that MUST be done when we move into our new home is putting a lock on our bedroom door. Sometimes we just want to be able to talk without being interrupted. We recently even hid in our tiny walk-in closet just to be alone for a brief moment and kiss talk while they couldn't interrupt.}

Most evenings lately we've had some variation of a talk that goes like this...

Everyone is preoccupied, Justin thinks it's an okay time to bring something up.

Justin: So Ed {Realtor} emailed today and said--

Eisley: HEY DADDY!

Justin: --hold on, I'm talking to mommy, please don't interr--

Eisley: DADDY!

Justin: Eisley, just wait patiently for me to finish speaking!

Me: What? What did Ed say? {Me, thinking the worst, of course.}

Justin: He said--

Violet: I'm a Quesa-Kitty!!!

Justin: Girls! Go play in your room while I talk to Mommy!

Eisley starts toward room. Violet ignores order.

Violet: I'm a Quesa-Kitty!!!!

Me: WHAT DID ED SAY?!?!?

Paxton: {Fusses quietly for a toy out of reach.}

Justin: He just said--

Eisley and Violet: PAXTON'S CRYING!!!!

Me: EVERYBODY BE QUIET!!!!

Paxton: {Now really crying because I yelled.}

Everyone Else: {Silent because I yelled.}

Justin: He just said that the homeowner said we can keep her grill--

Violet: I'm a Quesa-Kitty!!!!

Justin and I: YES, YOU'RE A QUESA-KITTY!!! WE SEE. THAT'S NICE!

Justin: She just wants to know if we want her to leave the grill.

Me: That's it? {All that interrupting and yelling over a grill? Meanwhile I'd thought Ed had called to say we'd lost our contract or something.}

Of course, sometimes it's more serious. Things from the loan officer or home insurance quotes we need to talk about. But you get the point. We can't have a conversation about this really serious stuff without being interrupted by what the kids think is important: Paxton "crying" and *Quesa-Kitty.

So you see, it's been a frustrating procedure. Biggest purchase of our lives, reams of papers to sign, lots of things to discuss, three kids interrupting all the way.

Bless their hearts. That's the worst part, is they're just being kids and then I feel horrible for not getting more into the fact that my daughter is holding a tortilla up to her face and pretending to be a Village Inn dish. Instead, she gets snapped at.

Don't tell me I'm the only mom who's done that? Regret blowing your child off for something that was annoying at the moment but you later realize, they really wanted to share it with you. They wanted to make you laugh. Maybe lighten you up a bit.

And darn, if you didn't need to lighten up too.

Cheers,
Heather


*Quesa-Kitty was a dish my girls both refused when we went to Village Inn with my pastor's family recently, after seeing the Passages Bible exhibit in the Springs. Of course they both refused to order it, but have been talking about it since. Go figure.
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Violet, trying on my jewelry
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