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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 :)