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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?