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  1. An Open Letter to Erin Condren (.com)

    June 27, 2014 by Shanna @ Queen of the Castle(s)

    Dear Erin Condren,

    You have amazing products.  Your planners are beautiful; the concepts are unique – the quality (from what I understand) – is/has been worth the pretty price-tag.  I admire the “Made in the USA” and small business aspects of what you have grown from a home-based business to a multi-million-dollar enterprise and being one of the key holders of the planner-niche pie. And you’re a mom to twins, same as I am, so I felt an instant pseudo-connection. I think it’s wonderful how much you have grown!

    But the service I have seen written about in very public forums, not to mention my own experience, begs me to wonder how this could be possible.

    When I was introduced to your company early this year, I was mesmerized by your pretties – by the stunning graphics, the unique layout, the neat little bells and whistles – I knew that this was what this planner and office-supply junkie needed to survive the last 18 months of nursing school.  And I saved, scrimped and finally – the launch of the new line!  Oh wow – interchangeable covers… coil clips… HOW COOL!  I have found the planner mothership!!

    So I placed my order.

    Only it would have *my*  name on it :)

    Only it would have *my* name on it :)

    And I patiently waited, knowing that these things take time.  They are (to a point), customizable as far as the covers go.  They are personalized however you want it!  And yes, that takes time.  I was totally fine with that, expecting 2-3 weeks to produce and arrive, as I had read was pretty typical.

    When I checked my order status on 6/22, it still said “Pending.”  I had been thinking how I wished I had put a quote on my cover.  I researched on the website, using their own FAQ.  I submitted the “error/report” as I had seen instructed on’s Facebook page.  I also mentioned in my submission that if adding this would delay my order, to please disregard it.

    Shortly afterward, I received an email from Karla Samuels in the customer service department asking to clarify how I wanted the quote placed.  I received said email at 5:11 pm PST (I am in the CST zone, so there is a 2-hour difference) and responded at 7:13 my time (5:13 pm PST) with the instruction.


    e-mail from customer service on 06.23.2014 @ 05:11pm PST

    my response to karla samuels email @ 07:13pm CST

    my response to karla samuels’ email @ 07:13pm CST

    And that is the last I have heard.  I have sent an email every. single. day.  I have received no response.  I have taken to Twitter and Facebook to attempt to elicit a response from someone – ANYONE – in your customer service department that would respond with something other than “e-mail customer service.”  E-mailing customer service is apparently like sending an email directly into a giant black hole.  There is no way to contact by phone, which does nothing to enhance the customer experience and only serves to create more questions about your company.

    My e-mail to customer service on 06.24.2014

    My e-mail to customer service on 06.24.2014

    my email from 06.26.2014

    my email from 06.26.2014

    my email today, 06.27.2014

    my email today, 06.27.2014

    So what is the point of this post?  The point is to attempt to make contact with someone in your company that can let me know WHEN my order will be finished, IF it will be done as I requested (either way, at this point, is absolutely fine) and to let you know that those who represent you, as a business owner, are doing you a disservice.

    I want nothing but success for your company, as I think it is these types of businesses that make our country so great, but I cannot understand how you would feel this to be acceptable treatment of your customers.

    I desperately want to be able to refer people to your company and feel good about doing so.

    Please respond to this post, my emails, my tweets, my Facebook messages – ANYTHING – just please respond!


    Shanna Castle

    Order # 399765

    Case # 290564

    Twitter:  @shanna_castle

    Facebook: Shanna M. Wells





  2. Whatcha Reading?

    June 27, 2014 by Shanna @ Queen of the Castle(s)

    Yeah!!!  It’s summertime!!  As a full-time student during the school year, my life mostly allows me to read nursing textbooks…. which, for the most part, read like stereo instructions.

    I’ve seen so many good books out this summer and have been SO excited to be able to read for FUN!!

    So far, I’ve read:

    1.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

    2.  Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

    3.  Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Ann Fowler

    4.  Gulp! by Mary Roach

    Hollow City

    What’s on YOUR reading list?

    What are your kids reading this summer?

  3. Erin Condren Planner, anyone?

    June 26, 2014 by Shanna @ Queen of the Castle(s)

    My friend, Alyson posted earlier this year about her Erin Condren Life Planner – and MAN – was *I* impressed!!  I am an office supply/planner/organizer JUNKIE!!  Like 3-4/year habit type … So, after reading her review, scouring the web and reading every review I could find, watching every YouTube I could find, joining every Facebook group I could find – I bit the bullet and ordered one for myself.  Nothing fancy – just a simple, Classic Life Planner with my name and the year.  I also ordered a set of bands and a set of the coil clips (because those are just awesome!).  And I settled in for the wait, because I ordered on the 17th, about 5 days after the launch of the “newest” round of planner.


    When my order was still in “pending” as of 6/22, I sent an e-mail asking if I could add a quote to my cover, replacing the date.  It was a minor change to my order, and according to their website, if it is still in pending – no problem!

    That was Sunday night.  It’s now Wednesday night and I’m no closer to having my planner (which had a ship date of 6/27), than I was.

    I’m not 100% ready to write off as a poor example of how to take care of customers, but I’m far from impressed at how the company has handled my (rather simple) order.  I do understand that they are extremely busy right now, however, shutting off their phones and the ability to telephone customer service was a poor business move, in my opinion.  My “issue” could have been taken care of in less than 30 seconds via phone, and my planner (and I would infer, based on Facebook and Twitter chatter – many others’ planners) would be on its/their merry way through the production process.  I understand that it is a custom item (well, the covers are) – and I understand that those do take time.  I just ask for a little communication.  Am I being overly demanding in that respect?  It’s been MONDAY since I’ve heard ANYTHING!  What other online retailer would you find this an acceptable business practice with?

    Have you heard about the “Erin Condren Fiasco of 2014?”  What’s your opinion?

    **Obviously, I have not been compensated by for my opinion, and I absolutely reserve my right to revise and update this post as time goes on.**

  4. ADHD and Me (well, US)!

    June 1, 2014 by Shanna @ Queen of the Castle(s)

    ADHD/ADD – Oh, it’s just poor parenting/lack of discipline/kids being kids, right??

    I swear.  If I hear it one more time, I’m gonna lose my mind!!

    No!  It is not *ANY* of these things!!  I will be the first to admit, I used to be in the camp that thought it might be.  But let’s just say that my life and opinions have changed in the last five years.

    ADHD is real.  It is physiologic, psychological, behavioral, cognitive – it is all of these things.

    From the Brookhaven Study

    Having ADHD is like having all the channels of the television turned on at the same time and trying to listen to the details of the news on channel 5.  It doesn’t mean you’re bad, trying to misbehave, disrespectful, a daydreamer, a failure – it means that your brain functions differently than other people.  And that’s ok.

    ADHD isn’t the complete loss of dreams for your child that many people think it is or can be.  Just because your child has the label of ADHD doesn’t mean that they have a label of “behavior problem” or “you don’t want this kid in class.”  My experience with being a mom of twin daughters with ADHD (and one with SPD) has been enlightening, at the least.  Are they a little more difficult to parent?  Absolutely.  Are they a challenge?  Most definitely.  But their quirks are what make them THEM and I wouldn’t change it for anything.   Well, maybe to make their lives a little easier, but I think they’re going to be just fine.  They are both sweet, loving, super-smart girls and really WANT to do their best!  Sometimes, it just takes a little more for them to.

    Their diagnoses came not long before I became divorced.  Addyson was diagnosed before Avery, and I fought the “label” tooth and nail.  I tried every home remedy to fight the symptoms of ADHD – up to and including sending my child to school with a can of Mountain Dew to chug on the bus on the way … WHY???  Because the way the ADHD brain works is in essence, quite the opposite of the non-ADHD brain… what would stimulate the crap out of a non-ADHD brain at age 5 works to calm and focus the ADHD one.  The morning I called Addyson’s teacher to let her know that I had sent her to school with a Mountain Dew is a moment I’ll never forget; the sound of sheer TERROR in her voice was priceless!!  (She was an AMAZING teacher with Addyson and it was a really wonderful year, despite the millions of appointments, tests and the introduction of “real medications.”)

    ADHD is often just part of a child’s “diagnosis.”  Many kids with ADHD also have other disorders such as ODD (oppositional defiance disorder), SPD (sensory processing disorder), or others.  Impulsiveness is, in my opinion, the hardest part of ADHD.  My twins are good kids – they really are – but sometimes, they just can’t *NOT* do whatever it is they aren’t supposed to.  They just can’t.  No amount of discipline will change that.  Redirection and hovering have been the two “tried and true” methods that have worked in my home.

    I think that the most important part of a child with ADHD’s life is consistency.  And that’s a tough thing in my house.   Being a single mom in nursing school (READ:  hours upon hours of studying, class and clinicals) and depending on others for help in raising my kids (their dad certainly isn’t going to do it), it can lead to lots of inconsistency in their lives.  But we’re trying.  This summer, it’s going to be different than most.  I’m not working right now, so that will mean I can be home and attentive and CONSISTENT with them.  I’m really really hoping that it will help!  We have lots of fun things planned for the summer (church camp, sewing camp, a day program through the girls’ behavioral therapy group and lots and lots of playtime) and for once, I’m actually looking forward to summer instead of trying to hurry it on by.

    If you suspect your child may have ADHD, there are several signs you can look for:

    Children who have symptoms of inattention may:

    • Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
    • Have difficulty focusing on one thing
    • Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless they are doing something enjoyable
    • Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new
    • Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities
    • Not seem to listen when spoken to
    • Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
    • Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
    • Struggle to follow instructions.

    Children who have symptoms of hyperactivity may:

    • Fidget and squirm in their seats
    • Talk nonstop
    • Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight
    • Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time
    • Be constantly in motion
    • Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities.

    Children who have symptoms of impulsivity may:

    • Be very impatient
    • Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences
    • Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games
    • Often interrupt conversations or others’ activities.

    (List taken from here)

    Medication is not always the first line of treatment.  My girls also see a behavioral therapist and have since 2011.  They currently see a school-based therapist who sees them during the school day and it has worked out wonderfully.  I know lots of people have reservations about mixing psychotherapy and school – but as I see it, the therapist is right there in the thick of things at the school, day in and day out – she is able to be right there if something arises during the day.  She is able to work with the teacher in a way I can’t, simply because I am in school myself, or I’m just not hanging out at my kids’ elementary school, day in and day out.  I do my best to not be a helicopter parent because I want my kids to grow up learning to fight their own battles and being self-sufficient as much as possible.  It isn’t just to help mold them into self-sufficient adults, but it’s to help them gain self-esteem and confidence in directing their own lives – even at the age of 10 1/2!

    There is no “one-size fits all” treatment for ADHD, but it is amazing how much medication and therapy has helped my girls.  Instead of having constant meltdowns and tantrums (not “kid-behavior” related, but ADHD related), they are able to work through things and our home life is so much more pleasant.  We have far less yelling, are able to do far more as a family and it makes everything in life just a little sweeter. :)

    If you or your family are dealing with a child who may have ADHD/ADD, please get help.  Talking to your child’s pediatrician can get the ball rolling with a simple test called the “Hawthorne” test, which is a behavior survey filled out by parents & teachers.  Please don’t wait until your child hates school to get help.  You wouldn’t not treat your child for diabetes – why not treat their pscyho-social problems as well?  (Just a PSA from someone who has been there :) )

    Love these two crazy kiddos :)

    Love these two crazy kiddos :)

  5. The Annunciation … of Me?

    December 9, 2013 by Shanna @ Queen of the Castle(s)

    Holy smokes.  It’s December 9th (almost 10th).  I. Am. Exhausted.

    Nursing school is not for sissies!!  LoL

    I have one final left and I will be finished with this semester… graduation – 2 years away… I CAN DO THIS!!!


    I’ve been reading alot lately (things other than just nursing books) and I’ve come across this pastor (Nadia Bolz-Weber) who I feel speaks much truth to me. I know that many of you probably won’t like what she has to say, and some of that may be based on appearance, but I wanted to share a passage from a sermon of hers that I read this evening regarding The Annunciation (when the Angel came and told Mary she would be giving birth to the Son of God) …

    “Here’s where I want to take a page from Mary’s prayer book. Let me be what your word has claimed me to be. Let me become what you have said I am. Your word, oh God, and not the word of the school system or the word of my bank statement or the word of my family or the word of society or the word of the media. But your word O God, let this be what defines me. I will allow you alone to determine my worth.”

    That just speaks volumes to me. Quit letting others determine *MY* worth! God has already determined that I’m a child of the One True King, a daughter of the King and a follower of the Most High … who is anyone else (or me, even) to tell me differently?

    Here’s a link to her entire sermon. I invite you to check it out :)