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Thursday, December 31, 2009

A stroll down memory lane, the 2009 edition

You’re in luck! I survived the work week and consumed more than my fair share of chocolate. And just for the record, I think Reese’s peanut butter cups (in any form) are the greatest invention ever. EVER!

So anyway, that means you get a year-in-review post as (tentatively) promised. I strolled on over to Google Analytics and took a look to find out which of my posts from 2009 were the most popular (based on the number of visitors to each post, not necessarily the number of comments), and used that to come up with a top 10 list.

So now, for your reading pleasure, here is the list of the top 10 things that happened in my life (or at least the top 10 things that I talked about) in 2009. And I apologize, but the death of Michael Jackson is not one of them.:

10. It’s a love story, baby just say yes – The post in which I described Brian’s and my first date. No need to refresh anyone’s memory considering this post is only 2 weeks old, but trust me when I say that it was lengthy... both the post, and the date.

9. Youth group kids and pregnancy tests – I think it’s obvious that the only reason this post was so popular is because I mentioned the words “pregnancy tests.” This was the post where I told you about the weekend 2 of my former youth group girls came to visit, and coincidentally also the weekend during which I discovered that dollar stores sell pregnancy tests. Hence the title. And to clarify, I still am not pregnant, regardless of what rumors this post might have sparked!

8. Just a little embarrassing story to brighten up your Tuesday morning – HA, I had forgotten about this one, but this was the post where I shared with you the tale of my high school encounter with Allison’s then-boyfriend while purchasing feminine products at the grocery store. Still makes me feel awkward just thinking about writing about it.

7. BREAKING NEWS, EVERYONE! – Again, I have a feeling this post was only popular because people thought that we were announcing a major life change. I fooled you all, however, because this post was actually just announcing (surprise) that DQ was bringing back the Tagalong Blizzard as the BOTM for the second time in 2009. I’d say that was a pretty monumental event, wouldn’t you?

6. Not sure I’ll be adding that to my list of things to try – For those of you that are faithful readers, this post really doesn’t need an explanation, so I’ll just sum it up in 4 words: Thug Passion Snow Cone.

5. The usual DQ rambling + a chance to pry into my life! – Are you as surprised as I am that yet another post involving DQ showed up on the top ten list? Truly shocking. This was written after I celebrated my one-year anniversary as a member of the prestigious DQ Blizzard Fan Club. Another anniversary of the wedding variety was also fast approaching, so I gave you all the opportunity in this post to ask any question you would like about Brian and me. And it was such a big hit that nine whole people asked questions. Yes, nine. A tad on the anti-climatic side, but oh well!

4. You asked for it – Undoubtedly my favorite post from 2009, this is the one where I revealed the inner workings of our imaginary friends to the outside world. After reading this post, some people called us entertaining, and some called us ridiculous. But regardless, I have a feeling that anyone that read this post will never look at us the same way again.

3. Try not to be jealous – Yet again, another post describing one of my embarrassing moments. For whatever reason, I waited until 2009 to share with you all the tale of the time that I met 2 of the Backstreet Boys and made a total fool of myself. Howie and Nick, if you’re out there, I still want an answer to my “would you rather?” question.

2. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl get married. Girl goes insane and boy is stuck with her. – Does everyone remember the time that Brian wanted to go to an Astros games with his friends and I turned into a psycho and cried? It also happened to be the same day that my car died on the way to work, so it’s safe to say that I was generally a little bit on edge. Regardless, I think men and women alike appreciated my honest insight into the warped female mind in that post. You’re welcome.

1. Answers to your thought-provoking questions – Here’s a thought-provoking question: should I be offended that my most popular post from 2009 was a post written entirely about my twin sister? I’ll try not to take offense and just tell myself that people aren’t necessarily more interested in reading about her, but rather they are just interested in reading my witty and humorous portrayal of her. Whatever helps me sleep better, right?

So there you have it, friends (and strangers)—a summary of 2009 as told by my blog. And not to worry, 2010 will undoubtedly be filled with more embarrassing stories and more information about Dairy Queen than you ever wanted to know. Cheers to another year of living and blogging to tell about it!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What good is a Christmas recap without the word "barf" in it?

For starters, if you didn’t have the chance to read Brian’s explanation of the poster from our first date, then make sure to do so. I realize it wasn’t a very festive Christmas post, but it’s rare that I can get him to agree to guest blog and actually have something to write about, so I’ll take it when I can get it!

We had another wonderful Christmas and were worn out by the time the weekend was over. I can only imagine how exhausting the holidays will be once we have kids! I’m not going to bore you with the specifics of what we received as gifts, but I will tell you about the two that you will probably find amusing:

(1) Brian’s grandparents gave us a gift card to Dairy Queen. Yes, Dairy Queen sells gift cards, and yes, we will most definitely be putting that card to good use in the very near future.

(2) Brian’s sweet sister, Shannon, so kindly gave one of our imaginary friends a gift! As you might recall from this post, Natalie’s (the little girl duck) favorite candy is Twizzlers. And I say “favorite candy,” but really it’s one of only two things that she eats (the other being bologna). Anyway, Shannon gave Natalie some Twizzlers this year, and while she claims they are from Santa, I’m pretty sure she’s the one behind them. Thanks, Shannon Claus!

What I’m wondering is this: is it a sign that perhaps we have taken the imaginary friends too far if they are receiving gifts for Christmas? Not that I care, because I’m the one getting extra candy out of the deal.

We are heading back to Austin for New Year’s Eve, and apparently we have gone insane, because we are highly considering taking Buster and Noah with us. Just FYI, Austin is a 2.5 hour-drive from Richmond. And just FYI, Buster vomited 4 times in a car ride that lasted approximately 1/5 that amount of time. And I was no math major, but I’m pretty sure that if his previous pattern continues, there would be potential for Buster to vomit 20 times in the trip to Austin. Sounds like fun, right?

The plan is to take Brian’s truck and have the pups ride in their kennel in the bed of the truck (securely tied down, don’t worry), BUT if it’s frigid and/or rainy (which it likely will be), then it would be cruel to make them ride back there. So we are forced to choose between sharing the cab of the truck with our smelly, barfy dogs, or having them freeze in the back. And if any of you are doggie parents, then you know that the solution is obvious: endure the smell and pray for no barf.

I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for no rain (and no barf) for the next couple of days just for good measure, so please feel free to do the same.

In the meantime, enjoy the last few days of 2009. I’ll try to do a recap of the year some time this week, but to be honest, my priorities currently are to survive the 3-day work week and finish off as much of the candy that Santa brought as possible… in that order.

OH, and if you’re looking for a romantic way to kick off 2010, don’t forget that sharing a kiss with your special someone during a marathon of Iron Chef episodes in the wee hours of the morning of the 1st day of the year is obviously the way to go. You’re welcome for the tip.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Poster

Hi blog readers - Brian (aka: the husband) here.

Recently Amanda posted about our first date, and I added a little commentary to that post. In said post, a poster was mentioned. This poster was made on our first date by yours truly, and some readers were wondering what exactly was on it. On the poster was a top 10 list of things I liked about Amanda in our brief relationship of about a couple weeks. Well, actually it was more like a top 9 list because for whatever reason I forgot to put ole number 10 in there. I assure you it wasn't because I couldn't think of 10 things. I probably just got distracted drawing Homestar on it or something.

Anyway, after reader requests asking what the list was comprised of, and thinking this would be a nice Christmas present for Amanda because she is always suggesting I "guest blog" , I thought I would share it with you all. So, without further delay here it is (with my footnotes to help you understand some of them):

9: She is fun to have random drives with at night
- there were a couple times where we just drive around Bryan/College Station for a couple hours with nowhere to go or anything really to do except hang out and talk

8: She never makes feel like we have awkward silence around one another

7: She isn't afraid to walk through a scary forest at night with me
- there is this free to the public Christmas light display at Central Park in College Station that Amanda and I were at one night and, as we were walking through it, I suggested that we stray off the path to take a short cut. To take said short cut, we had to wander through the woods, which were slightly creepy, and could have doubled as a spot to dump dead bodies. Fun times....

6: She still trusts me after I jumped on her arm
- Another fun story that is kind of difficult to explain. Just know that I jumped on her arm sort of intentionally and she didn't get too mad and continued to want to hang out with me.

5: Two letters.... JK
- Amanda likes to talk in abbreviations, and I had never met a girl who used them so frequently, and I guess it comes with the territory when you date a sorority girl.

4: She enjoyed watching Ben with me
- Click the link to see what I am talking about, and here is a plot synopsis if you are lazy "A lonely boy becomes good friends with Ben, a rat. This rat is also the leader of a pack of vicious killer rats, killing lots of people." P.S. thank you Chris Duncan for introducing me to this masterpiece.

3: That look she gets when she half smiles and sticks her tongue out
- Its cute, what can I say.

2: She plays along with our silly stories
- We would make up things and try to convince other people that they were true. High comedy ensued. I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that we have imaginary friends now.

1: She is a challenge to "out-fox"
- Still a challenge.... she is pretty smart and therefore I have a hard time winning disputes/arguments.

There you have it the list - and I am including a picture of Homestar for good measure.



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pardon my holiday rage

I certainly do not mean to sound like a Scrooge, but can I just tell you how much I hate holiday traffic? I seriously hate it with every fiber of my being. I understand that 95% of the world apparently has a strong tendency to procrastinate, but should the rest of us be punished as a result?

Yesterday was the Monday before Christmas, which means that most likely thousands of people in the Houston area are already on vacation. School is also out city-wide. So tell me, WHY did it take me 10 minutes longer to get home yesterday than it does on a normal day?

Don’t even bother answering, because I’ll tell you why: Joe Blow, Suzie Q and all of their irritating friends put off shopping for presents for their spouses/children/parents/siblings/cousins/dogs/co-workers/mailmen until the last minute. So on Monday evening, when the rest of us who are not fortunate enough to be on vacation yet are trying desperately to get home to enjoy our Christmas lights and eat dinner as quickly as possible, they are clogging the roads while they meander from Target, to Best Buy, to Macy’s to get the job done.

And now I’m done.

So let’s talk about what I DO love:

1. Today is my Friday! I would love to say that I have plans to sleep in tomorrow, but we are trying to make it to Austin by lunchtime, so unfortunately sleeping in will have to wait until Thursday.

2. Brian: Ok yes, this is a given. But my very sweet husband got me a very thoughtful and unexpected gift this year. I don’t want to sound all “my husband bought me jewelry so let me rub it in your face,” so I’ll just tell you that he got me a pretty ring to wear on my right hand... But don’t judge me if I post a picture of it once I get it resized to fit my obese fingers.

3. Dessert: I woke up early this morning with every intention of working out, but opted to stay inside and make fudge instead. I have to keep said fudge in my possession for approximately 28 more hours before I’m allowed to eat it. We’ll see how that works out.

And that is all for now. Hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas week and not congesting the roadways with last minute holiday errands :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sights and sounds of the season?

So I just wanted to briefly share with you 2 disturbing sights that I witnessed in the past 24 hours:

1. When we were at the mall yesterday, we watched a toddler throw her shoe out of her stroller while her mom was pushing it. Her mom's response? To pick up the shoe and HIT THE TODDLER WITH IT. Three times. With force. I couldn't even believe it was happening- I gave her a dirty look and made sure to loudly tell Brian that she had crossed the line. Of course the little girl started screaming and didn't stop. Serves that lady right.

2. When I was driving to the Junior League this morning, I happened to drive next to a pick-up truck with a few decals on its back window. The main one was a decal of a giant pile of skulls. I realize that decals/bumper stickers are meant to make a statement about the person driving the car... so I'm curious, just what kind of statement was this person trying to make? "I cut people's heads off and let them rot in the bed of my truck"? And what made it even more special was that the truck had a Christmas wreath on the front bumper. Nothing says "Merry Christmas" quite like a pile of skulls, right?

In other news, I am curled up on the couch by the Christmas tree watching How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days on tv while Brian picks our dinner up from Chili's. Why can't I spend all day, every day like this??

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It’s a love story, baby just say 'yes'

After I initially wrote this post, I asked Brian if he had anything to contribute. Apparently he did, because he had several "footnotes" to add. His footnotes are included in red. Enjoy!

Six years ago today, Brian and I went on our very first date. It was the last day of finals in our junior year of college, and although I didn’t know it at the time, the only reason Brian had stayed in town (and taken an optional final that he didn’t need to take, mind you) rather than heading home for Christmas break was to take me on this date.

For those of you who don’t know me, taking an optional final is a lot like elective dental surgery – I never liked school very much, or tests for that matter.

I remember exactly what I wore—a maroon turtleneck (now that is Aggie pride), jeans, and my black pea coat. I also remember exactly what he wore—a long-sleeved blue checked button down shirt and khaki pants. I am also fairly certain that he wore this particular pair of shoes that I finally convinced him to get rid of once we got married because they looked like something he stole from a homeless person and refused to stop wearing. But to his credit, they were still in decent shape at the time!

Two things about this paragraph. First, every once in a while, Amanda will ask me if I remember what she wore that night, almost testing me to make sure that I never forget because it was that important to her I guess? Second, I LOVED the shoes she politely insinuated that I should give away. I wore them all the time, and they were very comfortable. You know you have it bad for a girl when you give up a comfortable pair of shoes for her.

We lived across the street from each other (in our respective sorority/fraternity houses), so he actually walked over to my house to pick me up. You couldn’t exactly ring the doorbell (well, at least not without risking major embarrassment) at a house where 40+ girls lived, so he called me when he was outside. I remember walking out the side door and rounding the corner toward the front of the house only to see this strange boy standing in the front yard of the sorority house holding a giant poster.

What was on the poster, you ask? Well Brian had very thoughtfully listed 10 things that he liked about me, and although I can’t actually recall what specifically was on the list, the poster is still alive and well at my parents’ house, so I’ll be sure to check over Christmas and let you know.

A note on the poster – I also drew a picture of Homestar because we both usually had a good laugh over that cartoon at the time.

Brian’s plan from there was to take me to Chili’s—I know, this probably doesn’t sound very romantic, BUT you have to take 2 things into consideration: (1) This is College Station, people. Choices are limited. And (2) Much in the same way that I am somewhat obsessed with Dairy Queen blizzards today, I had an all-out addiction to the chips and queso at Chili’s, and it was my favorite place to get a hamburger.

Unfortunately, the wait at Chili’s was over an hour, so we headed to hamburger joint # 2—Cheddar’s. As per usual in College Station, the wait there was also over an hour. So then we headed to Texas Roadhouse, and, well, you get the idea. So we actually ended up eating at Rockfish—a SEAFOOD restaurant. In case you were not aware, I hate seafood. As in, I would rather go hungry and die than eat seafood.

This is still a point of contention to this day. At the time of the date, I had no idea that she hated all things from the ocean. Now I do, and now I know better than to suggest such an establishment for eating out. Also, I really like seafood… a lot.

BUT they had no wait (probably not a good sign), and I knew I could still get a hamburger there, so unsurprisingly, hunger won out over food preference and Rockfish was the decided establishment. And believe it or not, my burger was quite tasty! I don’t remember what Brian ordered… most likely because it was seafood and I blocked it out of my memory for all eternity.

After dinner, we headed to Sweet Eugene’s, a coffee shop where I spent many an hour pretending to study in my college days, for hot chocolate. It was packed (do you sense a theme here?), but fortunately we were able to find a table. At one point, there was a guy walking around looking for a table, and he happened to glance our way. Brian then leaned over and said, “I think that guy is checking you out. I’m going to have to stab him with my keys.” So touching, I know. And that’s how I knew it was love… ok not really, but it was pretty funny.

I think keys make a good weapon, especially if you put them in between your fingers.

Once we were finished with our hot chocolate and Brian was done making empty death threats to my potential suitors, we moved on to Santa’s Wonderland—home of College Station’s gigantic and totally awesome drive-through light display. We ooh-ed and ahh-ed at the same lights that we had probably both seen 10 times before. Our date had lasted a good 3 hours at this point, and this is where you would think we parted ways and called it a night, right? Wrong.

Guess where we will be going this year…

It was a really clear night, so we decided to go to Research Park and check out the stars. For whatever reason, however, we weren’t content to simply head that way and see what we could see—we HAD to have a star chart. Go big or go home, right? So we headed back to Brian’s house to print one off.

I am certain that Brian did not anticipate that his very questionable fraternity brother/roommate would be (a) camped out in their room playing video games, and (b) high on marijuana when we arrived. Clearly, this was the most romantic part of the evening.

But it was actually the most embarrassing for me!

Fortunately we got the star chart printed and set out on our way to the park. Of course we had to stop for one minor detour—breaking into an abandoned house to walk through the attic. I have no idea why we did this—I think Brian had been to the house a few weeks before with some friends and thought it was cool? I also have no idea why I, rule-driven and law-abiding citizen that I am, didn’t protest, and even went along willingly. But how many other couples can add breaking and entering to the list of activities that were included in their first date, right?

I should have known at this point that Amanda REALLY liked me because she broke rules/laws for me. She has a hard time doing either of those things in general, let alone for a first date probably.

We finally made it to the park, watched the stars for a while, and when hypothermia started to set in, we decided to hop back in the car. Does anyone remember the scene in Serendipity where the couple sits on a bench during their ice skating escapade and she points out a constellation? Well I brought up that particular scene from the movie, and because Brian had never seen it (and apparently neither of us were ready to end our marathon date), we then headed back to the Chi Omega house to watch it.

Something important to keep in mind is that it was approximately 12:30 am at this point. And lest you forget, I am not exactly a night owl. So for the record, not only did I eat at a seafood restaurant that night, but I also sacrificed my sacred habit of going to bed at a reasonable hour. Unfortunately for Brian, this is probably one of the last times that he ever convinced me to do either of those two things. Poor guy.

Another early indicator she had it bad for yours truly.

Fast forward 2.5 hours and the movie was finished. Technically there was a midnight curfew for boys to be in the sorority house, so I had already rebelliously broke that rule by a good 3 hours. My guilty conscience set in and I insisted that we move the party elsewhere. Keeping in mind Brian’s aforementioned roommate situation, hanging out at his house was also not an option. And for some reason it didn’t occur to us at 3 am that, again, it might be a good idea to bring the date to an end and go to sleep.

So we planted ourselves in Brian’s sweet 1996 Thunderbird and spent the next 3 (yes, 3) hours chatting. I have no idea what we talked about, and I honestly am not sure how I was able to formulate complete thoughts at that hour of the night (morning?), but somehow we managed to keep the conversation.

The ol’ T-bird still roams the mean streets of Richmond, and I get to see her often because a member of the church I now work at owns it.

When 6 am finally rolled around and the sun was starting to peek out, we deemed it appropriate to officially wrap up our date. Brian headed home and I stumbled inside, obviously exhausted, but as I recall, completely unable to turn my brain off and go to sleep.

And there you have it—the full recap of our 12-hour first date. And sorry to disappoint you, but the first kiss didn’t occur until 2 weeks later during a marathon of Iron Chef late on New Year’s Eve. Seriously, could we be any more romantic?

Iron Chef is a great show. I think whatever they were cooking must have been an aphrodisiac.

So thank you, Brian, for a memorable first date, and for many more to come!

I hope my footnotes have been fun for you!

And thank you to my readers for enduring this very thorough trip down memory lane :) Feel free to comment with your first date highlights as well!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

We are the champions

So obviously one of the main reasons everyone loves Christmas time is because of all of the holiday parties, right? That, along with all of the candy. And the decorations. And the music. And the presents. And the birth of our Savior- also pretty great.

We were privileged to attend 2 Christmas celebrations this weekend- one being the church staff/vestry Christmas party, and the other being Brian's youth group Christmas party. Two totally different crowds, but both totally awesome.

At the staff party, Brian and I (other than the priest's 4 kiddos) are younger than the rest of the attendees by approximately 15+ years. But don't go assuming we act accordingly when we're with the adults- we still behave very much like young children because that's the way we roll.

Frankie, the priest, and his wife, Camille, host the party every year, and each year has a different theme and activity. The first one we attended was a Monopoly theme, last year we went on a scavenger hunt around town, and this year was a Dr. Seuss theme and included a reverse scavenger hunt.

For those who have never participated in such an event, basically we were all directed to bring a pillowcase full of random items from home. The hosts came up with a list of 35 items, and whoever had the most items in their pillowcase from the list was the winner.

In case you have never met Brian, you should know that he is very competitive. He is extremely laid back, but if you throw any type of game or competition into the mix, he instantly transforms into victory-obsessed Brian and shows no mercy. It is probably no surprise to any of you that I, too, am competitive, because let's face it, I hold firmly to the belief that I am always right. Let it suffice to say that many a marital dispute have stemmed from playing card games, and there are even a few of them (ERS) that we simply are not allowed to play together.

So as was expected, Brian was all about strategy when we were packing our pillowcase, making sure that every item we threw in served multiple purposes so that it could count for more than one thing on the list if needed. I, on the other hand, spent the whole pillowcase-stuffing session stressing out about the idea of having to put everything back in its place after we got home. You're shocked, I know.

I am proud to say that Brian's strategy paid off, because we came out victorious in the reverse scavenger hunt. We ended up having 13 of the 35 items on the list, and it is worth mentioning that if the judges had counted matches as being candles, a swimsuit as being underwear, and a wrench as being a nutcracker, then we would have had 16 of the items. Not that we're keeping track or anything.

And since I know you are all dying to know what we had that matched the list, the items are below:
- gloves
- left shoe*
- light bulb
- broom
- ornament
- deck of cards
- belt (which happened to be my scarf)
- lint
- watch
- cross
- sunglasses
- dog toy
- embarrassing picture of one of us

*Despite Brian's argument to the contrary, I insisted that we throw in a shoe. Fortunately for us, I grabbed a left one!

So there you have it- those are the 13 items that earned us a gift card to Carrabba's. Those also are most likely the 13 items that earned us the title of "Most Irritating Couple at Church" and "Least Likely to be Invited to Game Night by Anyone Ever Again." Such is the price for victory, right?

And for my fellow type-A readers, don't worry- everything was unpacked from the pillowcase and put back in its proper place within 5 minutes of returning home.

And one last thing I had to mention- Brian's youth group Christmas party is a White Elephant gift exchange where, for the most part, the available gifts are either (a) candy or (b) useless crap. But each year, one wonderful saint of a student ends up bringing a gift card. Last year someone brought a $10 gift card to Target. This year two people brought $10 gift cards to Wal-mart.

Can you guess which gifts I made sure to pick/steal?

Apparently the kids have zero interest in these gift cards because, hello, their parents still pay for everything! So while they are fighting over ginormous bags of Starbursts and packages of cookie dough (priorities), I can rest easy in the corner with $10 more to my name.

So the moral of the story is this: Marry a youth minister and gift cards will abound.

Happy Christmas partying to you all!

Friday, December 11, 2009

From our home to yours

Season's Greetings from the Joiners!

(Click on it to see the gigantic version up close)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Adventures in Shoe Repair (the unabridged version)

I have no shame in admitting that most of my nicer pairs of shoes were purchased for me by my mom. I am ok with the fact that she has more of a dispensable income, and therefore I gladly accept any gifts she wants to bestow upon me—especially when they are things that I am too frugal (cheap) to buy for myself.

And because these mom-given shoes are nicer, I do my best to make sure that they last longer, because the longer they stick around, the longer I get to go before giving in and buying a new pair myself. Enter the need for shoe repair.

Because of my aforementioned tendency to be frugal, I also don’t particularly like having to spend money on repairing anything, shoes included. However, I have found that replacing the heels of shoes can add an extra 6 months to their life, so I consider the price to be worth it.

So I recently noticed that 2 of my favorite pairs of shoes were looking a little worse for wear and in need of some fixing. I brought them to work the Monday before Thanksgiving to take care of on my lunch break, and decided that I would head on over to the slightly questionable shoe repair place across the highway from my office. Besides, I had taken shoes there before and they had turned out just fine, so how horrible could it be, right? Wrong. Very wrong.

First of all, can I just point out that in my encounters with the store, I found that the business goes by FOUR different names?

1. On the outside of the store, the sign says, “Shoe Repair and More.”
2. On the inside of the store, the sign says, “Dairy Ashford Shoe Repair.”
3. On the pick-up ticket that I was given, the store is called “Sugar Creek Shoe Repair.”
4. Last, but certainly not least, the receipt refers to this wonderful establishment as “Koh’s Shoe Pair.”

Perhaps this should have been my first clue.

I walked into the store and was greeted by the same friendly man that has been there every time I’ve gone before. I gave him my shoes and told him what needed to be done. He asked me if it would be ok to pick up the shoes the following Wednesday, and I agreed. I took my ticket, exited the store, and silently patted myself on the back for finishing my errand so quickly and efficiently.

A week and a half went by, and as soon as my lunch break rolled around on the following Wednesday, I headed back over to Shoe Repair and More, eager to be reunited with my greatly missed pairs of shoes. I was surprised when I arrived to find a different (and considerably less professional) man at the counter. And when I say, “at the counter,” I mean that I stood awkwardly at the counter waiting while he wrapped up his phone call in the back of the store.

So I handed the guy my ticket and told him I needed to pick up 2 pairs of shoes. Expected response? For him to walk promptly to the back, grab my repaired shoes, bring them back to me, ring me up, and send my on my way. Actual response? He turned to a disorderly rack of shoes at the front of the store and asked me if I saw my shoes anywhere. Hmm. That’s comforting.

We searched high and low and had no luck, so he finally went to the back to dig around. I was in luck! He found them! Which is great minus the fact that they had not even been touched, let alone repaired. He picked up a shoe, showed it to me, and said, “They not ready yet!” Yes, sir, I can see that quite clearly by the silver stud sticking out of the heel.

I said, “Ok, well I was told they would be ready by today. Will the price be lowered at all since they won’t be ready on time?”

“They be ready later! I no worked last week, so they not ready yet!”

“Well… I can’t come in later today, and I can’t come in tomorrow, so will there be any kind of discount or anything since they will be late?”

“Oh… uh… yes, yes, of course.”

Well that sounds convincing.

Irritated, I stomped out of the store and called Brian to unleash my rage. I understand that they were behind and couldn’t attend to my terribly complicated heel stud replacement for 1.5 weeks, but couldn’t he have at least called to tell me they wouldn’t be ready? I don’t handle being made to wait very well, in case you hadn’t noticed.

Anyway, I called him on Friday to see if they were ready, and he assured me that they were. But due to the great Houston blizzard of 2009, I was unable to pick them up.

So (could this story be any longer?), I set out on a mission to pick them up on my lunch break yesterday. I arrived at the store, already on the defense and ready to put up a fight should the need arise. Very mature, right? And when I walked in, I noticed that the disheveled man was in charge again. Wonderful.

His eyes were red and I harshly assumed that he was either suffering from the swine flu (and therefore transmitting it to me), OR he was on drugs. Because everyone knows that shoe repairmen run with the wild crowd.

So I handed him the ticket, and once again he turned to me and asked if I could see them on one of the racks. Once again, I couldn’t find them, but instead of going into the back to search for me, he suggested that I go into the back to take a look.

Ok seriously?! What does this guy do, fix the shoes and then just toss them in a pile in hopes that they can be found when the owner shows up?

I angrily marched back to the repair area and saw before me piles and piles of shoes. I was visibly frustrated, and at this point the guy threw me a curve ball, “I sorry, my mother died today in Honduras in my home country and my boss make me come to work.”

So not fair. How am I supposed to continue being righteously indignant when you say something like that?

I told him I was sorry and continued searching but to no avail. We then went back to the front to do another search, and FINALLY—10 minutes into the search—I opened up a Walmart bag on the floor and hallelujah my two pairs of shoes were inside. AND they were repaired.

I asked how much it would be, and when he rattled off the FULL price of $30, I knew there was no point in arguing. I simply paid the bill, told him I was sorry about his mom, left, and chalked it up to a lesson learned.

I would have gladly complained on the company’s website or even put in a call to the manager to complain, but something tells me that if the store goes by 4 different names and doesn’t have an organizational system in place for completed orders, they probably don’t do any business on the internet. And I don’t know about you, but I have a feeling that talking to the manager would be a lost cause considering he allegedly forced an employee with a newly deceased parent to come to work the same day.

So here I sit, with 2 repaired pairs of shoes, $30 fewer in my bank account, and yet another chip on my shoulder as a result of poor customer service. At some point maybe I will get over it, but the more likely scenario is that I will continue to stew over it and rehash the story repeatedly to anyone that will listen.

Just think of all the “fun” customer service stories I’ll have saved up by the time we have grandkids… I know—they’re so lucky, right?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A very townie Christmas

So if you thought snow in Richmond was hard to believe, then just wait until you read about what else took place this past weekend.

Every year Richmond has an event at Christmas-time called “Miracle on Morton Street.” It’s held in “downtown” Richmond and they have street vendors, wagon rides, and of course, local children’s choirs performing. As you can imagine, it is very townie and therefore a little on the cheesy side. Regardless, Brian and I had never been before (I know, shame on us), and being that we had zero plans for the evening, we decided to give it a shot.

Fortunately, our friends, Katie and Stephen, agreed to join us. They were both raised in Richmond, so Brian and I thought it would be a wise move to show up with other locals so we wouldn’t look like impostors or anything. Because in case you didn’t know this, townies have a 6th sense that allows them to discern true townies from fake ones, and I sure didn’t want to risk my reputation as a legit Richmond-ite. Richmondian? Richmonder?

Anyway, to say that we attended this event just for the vendors and the entertainment would be a lie. Don’t get me wrong—the children’s choir singing Christmas carols and the strange Irish (?) street dancers were totally awesome, as were the countless booths selling the exact same homemade jewelry and crafts. But the REAL reason that we decided to check it out can be found on this schedule of events. Scroll down to #39.

You there yet?

Yes, that’s right, Santa Claus was rumored to be rappelling down the historic Richmond water tower. Why, you ask? I’m still not exactly sure, but I think it’s obvious that missing this event would not be an option.

So after cruising the streets for a bit and accepting more than one bag of free cookies from a local church that happened to be advertising for the evening (apparently we looked extra in need of salvation, but I’m not complaining because, hello? Free cookies!), we stationed ourselves front and center to watch the magic happen.

I’m not sure why, but he actually ended up rappelling down a fire truck ladder (which is much taller than I realized, by the way) instead of the water tower. It was still just as impressive, and just as unusual—I assure you.

So anyway, as the crowd watched on, Santa proceeded to rappel his way down the ladder. What we found slightly disturbing, however, was that he appeared to have a noose around his neck. And at one point he was being extra-adventurous and decided to hang upside down. What a great way to entertain the children, right? Orrrrr a really great way to SCARE THE CRAP OUT OF THEM. Seriously, can you imagine what would have happened had anything gone wrong with this little stunt? I never knew we had such gutsy city officials.

Anyway, the nice thing about living in a small town is that there was zero traffic to deal with after the fun was over. And because obviously watching Santa Claus perform extreme maneuvers from several hundred feet high would work anyone up into an appetite, it was important that we reached our Mexican food dinner destination quickly.

And much like with the snow, I made sure to provide pictures for any of you that might have thought I was creative enough to make this whole thing up. So enjoy:

Katie & Stephen in front of the big show
Brian & me, aka: Extreme Townies
Santa getting ready to make the big jump
And there he goes...
Perhaps the strangest holiday event ever?

This picture is not at all related, but Brian got me these flowers this weekend and I thought it necessary to show them off :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

The rumors are true

Yes, friends, it did indeed snow in Houston today. And I'm not talking about a few measly flurries- I'm talking about hours of legit snow. AND it stuck on the ground. I know, I'm having a hard time believing it myself. Here's some proof for those of you that might be skeptical:










And just to reward you for taking the time to look at my snow pics, here are 2 Christmas pics from the Joiner household for your enjoyment:



It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

There's no use in crying over dysfunctional appliances... or is there?

So apparently I jinxed myself with last week’s blog declaring that my Thanksgiving illness streak was long gone, because somehow I have come down with a cold. Fortunately, this one gives no indication that I will be throwing up out of my nose or making repeated trips to the pediatrician’s office (that would be awkward), but nonetheless, I find it a little irritating. I am fairly confident, however, that Christmas lights and Christmas music can cure any cold, so I’ll let you know if my theory proves to be true.

And in other news, I apparently have the most boring life ever, because the only interesting (debatable) thing I have to report is that we recently upgraded my laptop from Windows Vista to Windows 7. In case you aren’t familiar with Windows Vista, it’s basically a tool created by Satan himself to ruin the lives of unsuspecting PC-users. And let me tell you, it WORKS.

Never in my life has a machine made me want to rip out my hair or run over myself with a car like this laptop has. If it’s not frozen or unable to connect to the internet, then it’s simply taking eternity to process really complicated tasks, like, oh, I don’t know, OPENING INTERNET EXPLORER. Yeah, Vista, I can see how such a monumental chore would cause you to cease functioning.

Anyway, we just installed Windows 7 last night, so we’ll just have to see how it goes. We still have big plans to put our Christmas money towards purchasing a Mac, but considering this laptop is only 2 years old, we thought it was at least worth fixing it so that it would be somewhat functional.

What’s even more special is that the very first thing that Windows 7 did once I got it up and running was inform me that my battery was a piece of crap and needed to be replaced. Of course, it used slightly more technical language, but that was really the main point. I’m so glad we spent money to upgrade to a new operating system only so it could more efficiently inform me that I needed to drop $60+ for a new accessory. Thank you very much.

I’m starting to wonder if our dryer, my car, our refrigerator, and the laptop all got together a few months ago and formed some kind of conspiracy against us whereby they would all stop working within the same 3-month span just to see how much money they could get us to spend at the end of the year. Well congratulations, inanimate objects, because you win. I surrender. Happy now?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Post-Turkey Day thoughts

So I wrote a blog post recapping Thanksgiving and somehow managed to delete it before I published it. Suffice it to say that we ate (especially Brian… whose intake of Thanksgiving dinner portions was so excessive that he considered forcing himself to vomit), we drove (gotta love that 2-family shuffle that becomes a regular occurrence once you get married!), and we shopped (I came out of the weekend with 4 new pairs of shoes, so I would say it was a success). Oh, and we also joined Austin's elderly to view a Manheim Steamroller concert. Refer to Allison's recap here if you're interested.

And now it’s back to the daily grind—I’m trying hard to pretend that the Monday that comes after a holiday weekend is not the worst thing in the world, but let’s all be honest with each other and admit that it is. Not that waking up at 5:15 am and dragging myself unwillingly out of bed in order to spend 9 hours staring at a computer screen isn’t a blast, because it totally is. But it just serves such a stark contrast to the Thanksgiving break that it seems like it should be used as some form of torture for death row inmates. That’s all.

Oh, and I wanted to mention something funny I heard on the radio this morning. They were talking about the success of the new Twilight movie… and while I was tempted to change the station (I prefer to read stories about people that eat food, not their friends’ necks), I stayed put. So they were saying that apparently the characters in it have inspired viewers to strive for that same near-death look that they sport in the movie, and as a result, they have doubled the recent sales of the pale shades of makeup foundation in stores that aren’t normally as popular.

Well I am proud to say that, believe it or not, I have been sporting that trend for years now! Unfortunately, it’s not so much because I am hip and cool (as demonstrated by the fact that I just used the word “hip”), but rather it's because my skin pigment more closely resembles that of Casper the Ghost than that of a normal human being.

Regardless, if any of you Twilight-lovers need tips on how to look pasty and washed out, then you know who to call!

Have a great Monday, peeps!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The worst Thanksgiving ever

Such an uplifting title, don’t you think? I just thought it fitting to share a Thanksgiving memory with you, and while the pleasant Turkey Day memories far outweigh the unpleasant ones, they are far less entertaining to write/read about, so here you go.

I used to have this really fun tradition of getting sick on Thanksgiving every year. It started in 8th grade and continued on until my junior year in college, at which point I somehow managed to break the streak. So far I have been in the clear ever since, but every year as the holiday approaches, I have this fear in the back of my mind that my luck will run out. Ok I actually don’t believe in luck, but you get what I’m saying.

But of alllllllll my years of being sick, there is one that most certainly takes the cake for The Worst Thanksgiving Ever—freshman year of high school. As if being a freshman in high school isn’t painful enough, but anyway. I somehow ended up with a very severe sinus infection that went undiagnosed and therefore untreated for a few weeks.

And in case you aren’t aware of what can happen when a sinus infection goes untreated, then let me just tell you. If I did anything other than lay in my bed, my head hurt… and not just like “oh I have a little tension in my neck,” but rather, “if I tilt my head 5 degrees to the left then I’m fairly certain my neck is going to snap and I am going to die a painful death.” I even woke up crying in the middle of the night resulting in a panicked phone call from my mom to the pediatrician (at his home, no less) because she was convinced I was suffering from an aneurism.

Eventually the sinus infection caused my eye to swell to twice its normal size, which was really attractive, and was only made better by the fact that my family started referring to me as “Quasimoto.” Don’t worry, though, because my super-sympathetic high school boyfriend brought me chicken noodle soup to cheer me up… still in the can. I did, however, also score the greatest Deana Carter CD of all time during that illness and still consider that to be the soundtrack to much of my 9th grade experience.

Anyway, we were spending Thanksgiving in Dallas that year, and because I wasn’t feeling well, I stayed back and made the trip a day later with my dad after the rest of the fam had already gone. I decided to ride in the backseat so that I could lie down, and although it seemed like a good idea at the time, I soon discovered that it was a mistake.

About halfway into the car ride, I came to realize that the only thing worse than a life-ruining sinus infection was combining it with the nausea that comes with laying down in the backseat of a car for an extended period of time. I distinctly remember sitting up, telling my dad in no uncertain terms that he needed to pull over as quickly as possible, opening the door, and vomiting profusely.

Not graphic enough? Then let me just inform you here and now that I was so nauseated and sick that I then proceeded to THROW UP THROUGH MY NOSE. Mmm… beautiful mental image, I know.

I’m fairly certain that I have never been more attractive than in that moment. My wedding day probably pales in comparison.

So to wrap this magical holiday tale up, I ended up going to the doctor when I was in Dallas and, praise Jesus, they diagnosed my illness as a very severe sinus infection and gave me some drugs to get me back in working order. But as you can imagine, with a swollen eye and far-too-fresh memory of the smell and taste of vomit in my mind, I didn’t exactly enjoy that year’s turkey dinner. In fact, I’m not sure if I even bothered to eat that year’s turkey dinner, because what was the point?

So here’s to Thanksgiving—may yours be restful and vomit-free :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Someone finally made the "nice" list!

Since I have spent a good amount of blogging time lately complaining about bad customer service experiences, I thought it appropriate to highlight one recent positive experience for a change. So VW and DQ, please take note of the following:

Last night Brian and I ate dinner at Panera, and much to my disappointment, they were out of chocolate chip cookies. I also happened to eat at Panera on Saturday night in Austin and they, too, were out of chocolate chip cookies. Conspiracy? I think so.

Fortunately there is a sandwich shop across the parking lot—Earl of Sandwich—so we walked over there to scope out the dessert selection. And we were in luck! There were several chocolate chip cookies to choose from. So we approached the cash register, cookie in hand, and told the guy at the counter that we just wanted the cookie and nothing else. His response? “Just the cookie? Just take it—you can have it for free!”

And for a split second I forgot that I was married and considered proposing marriage to this 18-year-old saint. Perhaps it’s a tad dramatic to call someone a saint simply because he gave me a free cookie, but I’m telling the story so you’ll just have to get over it.

Anyway, we ate our free cookie and I am here to tell you that a free cookie does indeed taste better than one that costs money. Especially when it is being sold at the exorbitant price of $1.50… nothing ruins my appetite quite like being over-charged for my food. Anyway, even though I am not all that crazy about their sandwiches, I am now 10 times more likely to return to this establishment simply because of that cashier’s good deed.

The moral of the story is this: If a business does something nice for me, I will blog about them and give them free publicity to all 7 of my readers. If a business crosses me, I will submit a complaint to their website and hold a grudge for as long as I live. Am I the model for healthy conflict-resolution or what?!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Well that was awkward.

Ok so does everyone recall this post from last week where I said I picked up my Jetta from the dealership and was less than impressed with the service? If not, please take a moment to read.

Everyone caught up now? Great.

Ok so Volkswagen sent me a survey a day or two after later requesting my feedback on my experience with the dealership. Always candid and never one to beat around the bush, I answered all questions honestly. And that includes the question that asked whether or not I would recommend the dealership to a close friend or family member: N-O.

I went on to say that although the dealership solved the main problem, there were a couple of issues that simply went unresolved (ie: “head-scratchers). I also noted that the service advisor, though friendly, did not seem very knowledgeable about my car or its issues.

I submitted the survey and went on with my life, satisfied at doing my civic duty of informing the dealerships of the areas that could afford to be improved. I assumed that the Manager of the Service Department would gratefully receive my feedback, correct the “areas of improvement” accordingly, and that my feedback would hopefully save some poor customer in the future from suffering the same fate.

What I didn’t consider, however, was that the Service Manager would send my feedback directly to my service advisor. Because wouldn’t you think that if someone completed a survey regarding your work that it would go through your supervisor for him to deal with you accordingly? Or am I stupid?

Regardless, when I arrived home from work on Friday, I had an e-mail waiting in my inbox directly from the service advisor. He very defensively challenged every claim I made, and I cringed when I scrolled down to the bottom of the e-mail to see the copy of what I had written, the words “friendly but not very knowledgeable” glaring right back at me.

AWKWARD.

He even had the nerve to tell me that the reason they put 10 miles on my car was to replicate the problem, because “if we don’t fix the problem, then we don’t get your money.” Um. How sensitive and tactful of you to say that.

My first inclination was to respond with my rebuttal and to, as I always attempt to do, convince him that I was right and he was wrong. Brian then lovingly reminded me that it was probably not worth the fight, and that spending several minutes of my day arguing via e-mail with someone I would probably (hopefully) never talk to again was not really the logical response.

So I simply left the e-mail as “read” in my inbox and moved on… and by “moved on,” I mean to say that I stewed over it for a few hours and called Allison to tell her all about it.

Funny thing is that the Service Manager (the guy’s boss) sent me an e-mail (clearly straight from a mail merged template) stating that my recent survey had indicated that I was not fully satisfied with my experience, and he was wondering if my issues had been resolved.

Why yes, as a matter of fact, if you consider forwarding my critique of someone’s ability to do his job directly to him and then him sending an awkward and confrontational e-mail directly to me in response as a resolution!

In hopes that I would receive no more communication from this dealership, I simply clicked “yes” and let the issue be done with. But you mark my words—I will not be returning to that dealership. Because personally, I really prefer to limit my uncomfortable customer service interactions to non-English-speaking Dairy Queen employees only.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Totally townie and totally tired

Just a few thoughts for you from the weekend:

Brian and I went to Katy Mills Mall on Friday to do a little bit of Christmas shopping. Around 3 pm, we both decided it was afternoon snack time… ok if we’re going to be honest, Brian waited until 3:30 pm and I ate my snack prematurely at 2 pm. But anyway, I pulled a granola bar out of my purse, because being the planner that I am, I knew when we were leaving the house that I would be hungry and didn’t want to be tempted by the food court's evil ways.

Brian, on the other hand? He definitely had a cheeseburger and a chocolate milk from Burger King. For an afternoon snack. I have 3 things to say about that:

1. Wouldn’t a cheeseburger (especially if accompanied by a chocolate milk) be considered a meal, rather than a snack?
2. Since when did cheeseburgers and chocolate milk go together at all? Who does that?
3. Not fair. Because as much as I judge his poor nutritional choices, I was admittedly jealous (and drooling) as I watched him down that cheeseburger. The chocolate milk? Not so much.

We followed up our shopping extravaganza with a high school lock-in at the church. What is a high school lock-in, you ask?

Well basically you throw a bunch of high school students, some Pringles, cookies, and an absurd number of soft drinks into a giant room and keep them up all night in the name of youth ministry. Then you wake them up at the crack of dawn the next morning, feed them donuts, and send them home. Sounds totally awesome, right?

Right. If you are 16 and/or don’t mind spending the following day or so without a fully functioning brain.

Brian handled the whole event like a champ, staying up until the last kid fell asleep and waking up a half hour early the next morning to go buy the donuts (and let the record show that he consumed another chocolate milk at this point… apparently he didn’t get his fill at BK the afternoon before). He ran right along side the kids in a game of human Halo (aka: the activity that would come in pretty close to last on a list of things I would prefer to do on a Friday night), likely rivaled them in the number of pizza slices consumed after 10:30 pm, and played some very strange video game with them until the wee hours of the morning.

Come to think of it, that sounds like Brian’s ideal evening… maybe that’s why he loves his job so much?

Conversely, I was the first one to bed and made sure to selflessly claim the most comfortable couch for myself. And it was actually pretty comfortable until around 2 am when one of the girls somehow did not noticed the lumpy sleeping bag on said couch and plopped down on top of me. Which was only half as distracting as the round of shrieking and giggling that then ensued as a result.

I somehow managed to pull off 7 or so hours of sleep and—by the grace of God—did not scowl or scream at any of the kids in the process! And I even woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to share in the partaking of donuts the next morning. It’s tough being a youth minister’s wife, but somebody’s gotta do it.

So those were really the highlights of my weekend… and coincidentally, those were also the 2 main reasons that I felt like I needed an additional weekend to recover from the weekend. But such is life.

For all of you who have been DYING for some townie news, I am proud to share with you all that I ate my first ever breakfast taco from Bob’s Taco Station on Sunday! For those of you who aren’t familiar with this fine establishment, it is basically a dive in Rosenberg that is famous primarily (I think) for its tacos (shocking, right?). And they did not disappoint.

And in case you were skeptical about my describing the restaurant as “famous,” then you should know that it is going to be featured on the Food Network on “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” with Guy Fiere in January. Pretty impressive, right?

And also, for those of you who pay very close attention to this blog, you'll recall that there is also a shady Mexican restaurant in Richmond called Larry’s. So you would be correct in assuming that Rich-Rose has a corner on the market of questionable Mexican restaurants owned by guys with very white-sounding names. In fact, I’m thinking of starting my own Mexican restaurant and calling it Pete’s. Or Jim’s. Or Steve’s (that one’s for my dad). I’ll let you know how that goes.

One more townie piece of news for you today—the weatherman today was talking about the cold front moving through (hooray!) and the rain that was coming with it. And at one point he exclaimed, “It’s even raining all the way out in Richmond!”

So if any of you were ever wondering whether or not we really live out in the boonies (relative to the Houston metropolitan area), then there you have it. And let me just say that I never thought that I would live in a place that would be described as “all the way out in” anywhere. But then again, I also never thought that I would live in a place that was made famous by a taco stand. So I guess Rich-Rose is just full of surprises, now isn’t it?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just the usual

Ok so I don’t want to ramble on about my DQ woes, but I do feel that it’s necessary to let you all know that 2 out of the 3 Dairy Queens that we called on Saturday night are not yet carrying the Tagalong Blizzard.
We called the neighborhood DQ in Rosenberg first, although we fully expected for them to disappoint us. And so it was fitting that the woman Brian spoke to treated him as if he were a complete moron for thinking that the new BOTM was the Tagalong Blizzard. She laughed at him and said, “Um, that was 2 months ago!” First of all, jerk, the Tagalong was originally from July—FOUR months ago. And second of all, get with the program because your commercials and website are all advertisting that the Tagalong is back for November. Rude.

We called the next closest DQ after that let-down only to reach a woman that clearly was—surprise!—not familiar with the English language. We did manage to decipher the phrase “Pumpkin Pie Blizzard,” so they are apparently not carrying the Tagalong yet either.

So we did what any logical young married couple would do at 7 pm on a Friday night… we drove 30 minutes away to the next closest DQ. And hallelujah, praise the Lord, I got my Tagalong Blizzard! And for those of you who like to know all of the details, Brian got an Oreo Blizzard. So now you have all the facts.

Remember that time that I said I don’t want to ramble on about my DQ woes? Oops.

In other (unexciting) news, I picked my car up from the dealership yesterday and thankfully they fixed whatever was causing the check engine line to come on. However, they were also supposed to figure out what was causing my moon roof to mysteriously open and close on its own. Their diagnosis? “We’re really not too sure about that… it’s a real head-scratcher.”

Um. Is that really what I paid the $95 “check-out” fee for you to determine? And while we’re asking questions, isn’t determining the cause of the problem your entire job? I’m pretty sure that 10 minutes on google would give me a more helpful diganosis than that.

When did I become that girl that only blogs about her complaints with customer service? Please forgive me.

I don’t have anything else more exciting to say for now so I’ll just have to leave you with that. Feel free to share any frustrating customer service issues of your own!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

BREAKING NEWS, EVERYONE!

Ok this is not breaking news if (a) you are my friend on facebook and happened to read my status last night or (b) you are a member of the DQ Blizzard Fan Club. But for the rest of you, let me be the first to tell you that November’s BOTM is the Tagalong Blizzard! That’s right, they are bringing back the Tagalong Blizzard (most recently featured in July 2009), and you better believe I am going to be consuming one in the very near future.

And not only that, but as an elite Fan Club member, they also sent me another buy-one-get-one-free coupon. The obvious use of this coupon would be to go to DQ with Brian so that we could each get one and only have to pay for one. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to just use the coupon myself and eat 2 of them at one time. Don’t judge me—Tagalong Blizzards don’t come around every day... or every month for that matter. And considering the way my local DQ usually operates, I will be lucky if I even get one at all.

In order to earn things like DQ blizzards and copious amounts of leftover Halloween candy, I diligently made the excursion to the YMCA today. And I was actually feeling pretty good about myself for getting in both cardio AND weights in one day… until I glanced over at the weight machine next to me and saw that an elderly man equipped with an OXYGEN TANK was lifting twice the amount of weight that I was. Awesome.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if this old man happened to one up me last night as well by staying up later than me, because I most definitely got in bed at 8:30 pm. But don’t worry—I stayed up watching “Say Yes to the Dress” until 9 pm, so apparently I’m not totally ready for retirement yet.

Ok that’s all for now. I’m off to slap on a pair of Depends and soak my dentures. Later, peeps!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A warning

Dear Volkswagen,

Typically my sister is the one writing letters, but I thought I’d go ahead and give it a try myself this time.

You see, I have not had much to say to you in the past. I have had my wonderful Jetta for 5 years now—in fact, she just turned 5 at the beginning of August, and I finally finished paying for her at that time. And in the 5 years prior, I really never any issues with her, other than one dysfunctional CD player that was covered under warranty and therefore replaced at no cost.

Well apparently those carefree days are long gone, because ever since I sent in that final payment, my Jetta stopped cooperating. First, the back seat floorboard of my car mysteriously flooded when left out in the rain one weekend. No windows or doors were cracked and the moon roof was closed, but somehow the floorboard was soaked. It hasn’t happened since, so I have no choice but to take the blame and assume I didn’t close one of the doors all the way. Still, I’m calling that strike one.

About a month later, my battery died on the way to work. The alternator was the suspect, as the car actually died while I was driving it, but upon further investigation, the battery was the real culprit. As such, the battery was promptly replaced. Strike two.

A few weeks ago, my check engine light came on and simply refused to go away. I surrendered her to my father-in-law, who conveniently does service for a car dealership. He returned the car to me with a repaired cooling fan, and wondered, by the way, if I noticed that my car still smells like mildew as a result of the floor board flooding incident. Strike three.

I kid you not—the very day after the cooling fan was fixed, I noticed that the car was making a strange vibrating noise any time the air conditioning was on. I have tried not to worry about it, and to be honest, I haven’t used the AC in over a week thanks to the lovely weather we’ve been having, so it has been easy to ignore.

Well yesterday, I noticed that the car just felt different when I was driving it—I’m sure anyone who has owned a car for 5+ years can relate when I say that I know the way the car normally drives, and this was not normal. Chalking it up to the aging process and not wanting to harass my father-in-law yet again with another car issue, I tried not to obsess about it. But this morning she was still running funny, and in the very moment that I was thinking to myself, “All of these car troubles are ridiculous! I may not have a car payment anymore, but I have a feeling I’ll be more than making up for what I’m saving in repair costs…,” the check engine light came back on. Again.

I like to call this strike 4. And for those of you that know anything about baseball, that is one too many strikes.

So, Volkswagen, you win. I called the local dealership this morning and made an appointment for Friday afternoon. I have a feeling it won’t be pretty and it won’t be cheap, but if I don’t leave with a healthy and fully functioning car, then believe me when I say that there will be words.

And if you think I’m not going to follow through on that promise, then just ask Dairy Queen. They’ll be sure to let you know what happens when Amanda isn’t satisfied with customer service. So consider yourself warned.

Regards,
Amanda

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween, Join-iver style

Get it? Joiner + Olivers = Joiniver? Leave me alone, it was the best I could come up with on a Monday.

So just in case you were wondering how we spent this year’s Pumpkin Day, wonder no longer, because a full explanation follows…

We started the day off at the dog park, which would have been great if it hadn’t rained all of last week. Saturday was beautiful outside, but the park still hadn’t dried up, so essentially it was a mud pit. And it’s not that I don’t enjoy a good mud pit, it’s just that I prefer not to stomp around in it, or have to corral our dogs after they’ve been romping around in it.

The experience, however, was made slightly more enjoyable by having the opportunity to watch Rocky frolic around the small dog park. And when I say “frolic,” I mean sprint in circles for half an hour around the other small dogs (who seemed a little terrified by Rocky’s ADHD behavior) until the point of exhaustion.

After cleaning up from our morning adventure (which was no small feat considering the amount of mud caked both on our dogs and our shoes), we embarked on a new and slightly more daunting adventure—that of taking Allison’s and Wade’s Christmas card picture.

Wade and Brian will both be quick to tell you that taking a Christmas card picture with wives like us is not an enjoyable experience. Sure, they have smiles plastered on their faces, but don’t buy it—they are suffering greatly and enduring quite possibly hundreds of pose changes and critiques in the meantime. “Um, why do you keep looking like Dwight from ‘The Office?’,” or “Do you want people to think you’re gay?” are not uncommon statements from us when trying to capture that perfect holiday photo.

Fortunately for Brian, I decided to go with a montage of photos (well, 3 of them) from the past year, so he somehow received a free pass from having to undergo another grueling photo session this year. Wade, however, was not so lucky. Nor was Rocky.

Ok if we’re going to be honest, I am probably much more difficult of a subject than Allison is—she was particular, yes, and we easily took 100 photos before getting the right one(s)—but she issued no death threats AND she and Wade were still on speaking terms when the session ended. Which is more than I can say for Brian’s and my Christmas card 2008 attempt from last year. It wasn’t pretty.



So this wasn't a Christmas card photo attempt- just thought we'd take one "for fun" while we were photographing the Olivers

We took a nice break during picture-taking for lunch at The Flying Pig in Richmond. Our waiter was dressed up AND we got free candy for dessert, so any other details are really irrelevant, wouldn’t you say?
The Olivers at the Flying Pig Cafe

Afterwards Allison and I did a little premature Christmas shopping (we like to plan ahead, ok?) while the boys played on their respective laptops and listened to the A&M game online. And in case you missed the memo, A&M won ANOTHER game. Yes, that’s right, 2 games in a row, and against teams that I’ve actually heard of, no less. Pretty pathetic that I find that to be impressive, I know, but we’ll take what we can get!

Our friends, the Higginses and Cruikshanks, came over for dinner that night. We played a few rounds of Catch Phrase (shockingly, the boys won—but don’t worry, we’ll be having a rematch one day), a round of charades, and then split up so the girls could chat and the boys could play Guitar Hero. Meanwhile, I managed to consume at least double the amount of candy/dessert that I had originally planned on eating. Why restrain yourself when you can go to bed feeling like you just swallowed a brick of sugar?



Brian as a creepy 80s trainer and me as a thug... I imagine this is what a Thug Passion snow cone would look like in human form
Allison as a janitor and Wade as Brett MichaelsStephen & Katie as giant babies... they loved those pacifiers, seriously!
Bryan & Kristen as Bob & Jillian from The Biggest Loser... thankfully they were much less angry and intimidating than the real ones :)Rocky showing off his argyle fire hydrant sweater... and his exhaustion

And despite the extra hour of sleep granted to us by the time change, the weekend still left me exhausted… which is precisely why I was in my pj’s by 6:30 pm yesterday and in bed by 8 pm. It’s tough acting like an elderly person, but someone has to do it.

And in case you were wondering, in our marriage, that someone is clearly me, because my ADD husband stayed up until 1 am playing video games. How does he do it? I’ll never know, but I’m pretty sure he is fueled almost entirely by macaroni and cheese… much like an 8-year-old. But hey, he’s my 8-year-old :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why I think candy should have its own section on the food pyramid*

You want to know what makes me laugh? The words that the computer prompts you to type in for verification purposes when you want to comment on someone’s blog. The most recent one I was prompted to type was “prooj.” I am fairly certain that, rather than randomly generated combinations of letters, a person is actually responsible for this. He sits on the other end of the computer and thinks of really stupid words to make us type just so he can get a good laugh. And obviously that’s a very technical description of how the whole verification process works.

You want to know what also makes me laugh? I somehow convinced Brian to do The Biggest Loser workout video with me this morning. Let’s just say that it was pretty amusing to watch, but I will not go into detailed descriptions for fear that he will never again agree to do a workout video with me.

Speaking of working out, for some reason lately I have had a really hard time getting motivated to work out. And I’ve had a really easy time getting motivated to eat candy. And the fact that I have a generous coworker who sits approximately 5 feet away from me who currently has a supply of gummy bears, skittles, kit kats, and peanut M&M’s at her desk does not help matters at all. Ok I lied—she doesn’t have any gummy bears left because I ALREADY ATE ALL OF THEM.

I’m sorry, I just really love sugar. And I will never understand people that just “don’t really care for sweets.” I think those people are either (a) lying or (b) very stupid. It may be harsh, but I’m sorry, it’s true.

And speaking of sugar, let’s all clap our hands in excitement that Halloween is the day after tomorrow! Allow me to illustrate for you why I love this holiday so much: I bought 3 decent-sized bags of candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters. We typically have 2-3 trick-or-treaters total, and I may give each of them 2-3 pieces of candy. You do the math to see what’s left for me.
Unfortunately (kidding!) I will have to share the leftovers this year, as Allison and Wade are going to be in town and two of our other couple friends are going to come over for dinner/games on Halloween night. I also happen to have a bag of candy corn that I plan on leaving out for everyone to snack on, and let me just say that I have never exercised more self-restraint than I have with this bag of candy corn that has been sitting out on my kitchen counter for several weeks now. Someone please pat me on the back.

And while you’re at it, you can also pat me on the back because (drum roll please) I have not consumed one single DQ blizzard ALL MONTH. Not one. Not even a bite of one. And it wasn’t even intentional—we have just had other things to do. And, thanks once again to my coworker, I have not exactly been lacking in the sugary treats department, so a blizzard just hasn’t seemed as necessary.

Don’t worry though, the new BOTM should be revealed soon, as the first day of November is fast-approaching. And if it involves chocolate and/or peanut butter, you better believe that my blizzard-fasting streak will come to an abrupt halt.

And that is all for today—have a good one!

*For anyone that read the title and instantly wanted to comment something along the lines of, "There already is a section like that- it's called FAT!," don't waste your time. Already thought of it, and therefore won't be offended by it or amused with your creativity :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wish you were here!

Greetings from Gulfport, Mississippi! I know, I know, you're all (a) dying to know what I'm doing in Gulfport and (b) desperately wishing you could be here in my place. Well sorry, folks, but a luxury vacation like this isn't available to just anyone.

I'm actually here on a work trip, and as luck would have it, my plane is running late, so I get to spend an extra hour in the airport. But don't feel too sorry for me just yet because there's a gift shop here AND an Arby's. The possibilities for dinner are endless, aren't they?

I came into town for a career fair, and it happened to be held at a hotel/casino, so I got to stay in the same hotel. Let me start by telling you that I have never been to a casino before. And let me end by saying that after seeing one in person, I have even less of a desire to go to one in the future.

In my humble opinion, slot machines are nothing more than brightly colored trash cans in which to throw your money. And I am just having a hard time understanding why people are so very interested in sitting in front of said trash cans while inhaling second-hand cigarette smoke in a room with no windows. Sounds like a perfect vacation spot to me... if you have no nose and no use for your money.

And please don't even get me started on how overpriced everything was at the hotel. Ok sorry but I'm going to get started. The charge per day to use internet in the hotel room was $32. And it wasn't wireless, so you would have to plug it in to an ethernet cord on the desk. And here's the catch, there was no ethernet cord avaiable in the room, but not to worry!- you could purchase one downstairs in the gift shop! How convenient!

Ok but now I'm finished. I promise. And while the rest of you enjoy a quiet evening at home with your families, please think of me while I'm dying a slow and painful death as a result of listening to the terrible, terrible, terrible music that the Gulfport airport has deemed as hip, cool, and ideal for the mass public.

Peace out from G-port!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shameless.

Today’s title has a double meaning:

(a) I shamelessly stole today’s blog topic from Kara so I wouldn’t have to come up with something to write about on my own.

(b) The idea is to list out 5 things that you aren’t embarrassed to admit about yourself, but probably should be. So here goes.

1. I still really like the Backstreet Boys. It’s true, I still own all of their cd’s and still sing along when I play them. I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t get much better than “Quit Playing Games with My Heart” or Nick’s life-changing solo ballad, “I Need You Tonight.” And in case you forgot, I recently (well, 2 years ago) met Nick and Howie in person and was just as excited as I was when I attended their Millenium concert in 2000. Fun fact: Brian Littrell was always my favorite BSB. Word on the street is that he now actually sings gospel music—who knew?!

2. I used to eat mayonnaise all by itself… without the sandwich. Yes, there was a time when mayo and I were good friends—I ordered every sandwich and burger with cheese and mayo only. And occasionally at a restaurant, they would bring out the mayo on the side in a little cup. So I would spread it on my sandwich until I had the desired amount, which typically allowed for some to be leftover when I was finished. And I am proud to admit that I would shamelessly dip my fork (or my finger if a fork wasn’t available... don't judge) into the mayo and eat it. Straight up. My mayo days are behind me now, but I still look back on those times fondly… are you grossed out yet?

3. I am really obsessed with our budget. Back in the days before Brian and I were married, I used to make fun of Allison and Wade a lot for the fact that they (a) had a budget, and (b) tracked all of their expenses on it. And then we got married. And then I was unemployed for 3 months. And all of a sudden, a budget didn’t seem like such a stupid idea, and the idea of tracking our expenses actually started to make sense. And because I inherited my father’s obsessing gene, I have fallen deeply in love with the budget, and find few things more enjoyable than comparing each month’s expenditures to see how they measure up to one another. Oh my gosh, I need to get a life.

4. I still remember the worrds to my high school’s fight song, and occasionally sing it out loud. Don’t believe me? Well here you go: Fight the team across the field, show them that Westlake’s here… send the earth reverberating with a mighty cheer (GO WESTLAKE!) Hit them hard and see how they fall! Never let that team get the ball! Hail, hail, the gang’s all here, so let’s have a victory!

No further explanation necessary, but feel free to ask me to sing it next time you see me.

5. I have a Word document saved on my computer with names for our unborn children. Yes, most young married couples discuss possible names for their future children. Most people, however, don’t write them down and save them onto the computer for future reference. But that’s because most people aren’t anal retentive and worried about coming up with a really great idea and then forgetting it. The good news is that someone recently told me that she did the same thing… I won’t out her on here just in case she actually is too embarrassed to admit to it.

So there you have it, folks. Please feel free to join me and share a few things about yourself that you probably shouldn’t be so willing to share!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Brace yourselves

I have some upsetting news to share with you all today: Our local “Deals 4 U” store is going out of business. I know, I know—it is shocking and deeply disheartening.

What exactly does the Deals 4 U store sell, you ask? Well I can’t exactly say I’m qualified to answer that question, because thankfully I have never stepped foot inside the store. I generally try to avoid contributing to the profit of any business that is too lazy to spell out its title or use proper spelling. For example, I would never in a million years send my children to a day care entitled “Kidz Korner.” COME ON.

But what I do know about Deals 4 U (from walking by the store window) is that they are selling a really sweet USA-themed leather jacket for just $40. But hurry—deals like these don’t last forever! And what I also know is that Deals 4 U’s chances of staying in business were probably pretty slim from the beginning, considering that they are located in the same strip center as a Family Dollar, a shady Pawn Shop, and an Everything $1 store. And did I mention that dollar stores are the best at coming up with creative names?

I would also like to point out that there is yet another dollar store located approximately 100 yards away in the strip center across the street. The interesting (read: irritating) thing about this particular Dollar General (again, the creativity is mind-blowing!) is that they are one of those stores that sells quite a few things that cost more than a dollar. I believe I already mentioned this in reference to Target’s One Spot, but it really irritates me when you imply that everything in your store is going to be a dollar or less, and yet you sell canned pumpkin for $1.25, or Halloween candy for $5. Sounds like if you’re being honest, your store should be called Dollar(s) General.

And while I’m ranting about this particular store, I also want to point out that a can of green beans there costs $.80. Um. I’m pretty sure that you can purchase a can of green beans at a normal grocery store for half of that price. And same goes for the overpriced canned pumpkin. Just so you know, Dollar General, you are not fooling me. And if you’re not careful, you’re going to end up in the same boat as Deals 4 U. And you won't have any flashy leather jackets to save you!

Ok and one last thing about the Dollar General and then I promise I’m done: They sell knock-off Vera Bradley items there. Each piece costs $3 (again, NOT ONE DOLLAR), and the patterns are nearly identical to the original VB patterns. I’ll admit that I was actually somewhat impressed with how similar they look to the real thing… until I walked over and touched one. And let me just tell you that if you are interested in buying a makeup bag that looks like real Vera Bradley but feels like one of those brown paper lunch bags, then Dollar General is the place for you.

Ok I’m finished with that topic now.

In other local news, I heard on channel 2 this morning that Houston is going on its 11th day with no murders. Apparently this is big news because it is the longest murder-free streak we have had in decades. DECADES. We have gone DECADES without going 1.5 weeks without a murder. I’m no expert on tourism or anything, but I don’t think I would go advertising that to outsiders. Call me crazy, but somehow I don’t think other people would be as impressed with an 11-day streak as we are.

Oh the joys of living in the greater Houston metropolitan area… at least we have a lot of good Mexican food, right?