Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sticking To My Principles (or "How To Get an Ulcer in One Easy Step")

I would say that I am usually a pretty easy-going person. Now, whether close friends and family would agree with that assessment, I couldn't say. Perhaps not. Every once in awhile though, something really gets my goose, and my easy-going nature goes right out the window.

One Christmas, there was a particular store that I felt had not acted honorably towards me as a customer, and I was ready to take back all the gifts I had bought from that store up to that point because I felt that they didn't deserve my patronage. As I was ranting about the situation to my sister (It's the PRINCIPLE of the thing!) she calmly said to me, "Your principles are going to give you an ulcer."

Hmmm. So now, whenever I get miffed I think of Amy and try to make a judgement call about whether the issue is worth getting an ulcer over. Usually, it's not.

Today I got good and mad. It's been building since last month, when I ordered additional prints of the girl's spring school portraits. We have lots of family that we give photos to, and they all have the specific sizes that they prefer. In the fall you can select a package that meets your needs, but in the spring they just print a package and you can either take it or leave it. Our problem is that the package isn't quite big enough. I went online and ordered one additional 8x10 and two 5x7's of each girl. That's what was on the "review order" screen before I paid, but when the order confirmation screen came up after I placed the order, it had one 8x10 and two 5x7's of Gracie, but four 5x7's of Maggie. I immediately hit the "contact us to modify or cancel your order" link, but they did not respond to that message or the subsequent e-mail I sent until after the order shipped. This begs the question - Why have that link if you can't actually modify or cancel the order? Whatever. I kept my cool, and when the order arrived, I followed the instructions, sent back the extra 5x7's of Maggie, and in due time received a replacement 8x10 - of Gracie!

The same day it arrived it was back on its way to the photographer with a note explaining that I had actually wanted an 8x10 of the same child that was in the photos that I had returned, complete with the original job number, child id number, and the re-order number. I described what she was wearing in the photo. I did not insult anyone's intelligence, and thanked them for their attention to the matter. Surely, I thought, I would get a picture of the correct dimensions and subject. I know I dream big sometimes, but this seemed reasonable.

Well, today I received a reply via e-mail. It said that, "while we would like to be of assistance, regrettably, we are unable to make changes to orders." As easy-going as I like to think I am, this pushed me right over the edge. I have already paid to return incorrect orders twice, and now they are just going to refund my money and have me reorder it on their buggy website? I think not! I immediately fired back an e-mail. "Regrettably, that answer is unacceptable."

"Regrettably? Regrettably? Oh, you just think you regret. You just wait until I get ahold of you!" is what was going through my mind. The main problem was getting ahold of anyone - no phone numbers anywhere on the website. I got the local representative's number from the school, who gave me the national 1-800 number for sales, who gave me the number for customer service, who transferred me and my righteous anger to someone in the lower-grade section. I told the young lady there what had transpired, and she reordered my 8x10 at no charge to me before I even had a chance to get warmed up.

Strangely, I feel a little deprived.

Guess I'm not as easy-going as I like to think!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Taking a Deep Breath

Believe it or not, today was day 14 of my summer break. I feel like I've been holding my breath since my last assignment was turned in, but now I can relax and enjoy the rest of my break. Why the long wait? Well, today I got my grades for the semester. Normally by the end of the semester, I would have a good idea of where I stood, grade-wise, but this semester I had a professor who didn't actually grade our assignments. Or, at least she didn't bother to mention it to us. I ended the semester with 30 assignments completed, eight graded with actual grades entered in the gradebook, and another five looked at with feedback, but not entered in the gradebook, and no word whatsoever on the other 17. So, when I clicked on the link today to check my grades, I wasn't exactly sure what I'd find. While the end result was good - I've managed to hold on to my 4.0 GPA - the process was less than pleasant. Unfortunately, the fun isn't over. I have this professor again this summer, but at least she will only be teaching one class. We will see if anything changes.

The other thing that I've been holding my breath about is our anniversary trip. We've been saying that we wanted to do something special this year - it's our 15th anniversary after all - and today I booked the trip. We will be heading to St. John, one of the US Virgin Islands, for seven days in June. Now that I've booked the trip, I can start getting excited about it!

So, as I mentioned, it's day fourteen of my summer break. I've been catching up on all the things that seem to fall by the wayside during the school year, cleaning out a few drawers, closets, etc., getting the semester's schoolwork properly documented and filed and put away for future reference, and researching our upcoming trip. I've read a few books too - Jerry and the girls got me a Kindle for mother's day - so far I like it, although I've downloaded so many free books, I may never get to them all. Another thing I am always worried I'll never get around to is my scrapbooking, but I've managed to do a couple of months worth of photos in the last couple of days.

The girls are not out of school yet - they still have this week and next week before they get to have the joy of summer vacation. I've signed them up for swim team this summer, which means they have to be at the pool bright and early in the morning, four days a week. It's a preemptive strike against spending all summer in their PJ's, which is exactly what they would do if given the chance! (I can't imagine where they get that from. . .)

As usual, the last month of school has been jam packed with all sorts of activities. Of course, the SUPER BIG DEAL of being a third-grader in Oklahoma (at least at our school) is the big Land Run Reenactment. Gracie was pumped! Here we are in our getups:

Gracie was in a family of four girls - they called themselves the Prairie Gals. They decorated their wagon to the nines:

Because everyone else was wearing long dresses and boots, Gracie (who wore not quite period authentic tennis shoes) was elected to run as fast as she could to try and claim the only "plot" of land in the shade while the rest of the family came as quickly as they could with the wagon. Although Gracie made a valiant effort, there was a lot of folks headed for the shady spot. We ended up in the shade of the wagon for our lunch, but it was a beautiful day, so we didn't mind.

After lunch, games, and other activities, it was time for the hootenanny and the Virgina Reel. Gracie was excited about this - in fact, the day before she had asked me if we could practice the dance. I actually do have a recording of the Virgina Reel on my iPod, so we practiced through one or two iterations of the music (it's about 11 minutes long.) The she gasped, and said, "I MUST practice wearing my dress so I don't TRIP!!) and she scampered off, put on her special dress, and the practiced dancing some more. She was totally ready when it came time to dance.

Of course Easter was late this year - I bought my dye early, because I had a hard time finding any last year - but then we waited until the last moment to dye the eggs. The girls did practically all of the preparation by themselves this year. By the time I got in there, they were practically done!

Maggie had told me that when she got moved to the back of the classroom recently, she had trouble seeing the board. I got the girls in for eye exams, and sure enough, Maggie is nearsighted. She was so excited to get glasses, and Gracie was so disappointed that she has "healthy" eyes and didn't get to pick out a pair. It's funny how they look forward to the same things that I dread. It's only a matter of time before I have to get my first bifocals - perhaps if I looked as cute as this, I'd feel different!

As we hit the last couple of weeks of school, the fifth grade is in a whirlwind of activity. They lead off with their program - a search for the American Treasure. Maggie had her first singing solo, and she did great!

Once that was out of the way they went ahead and watched "The Film." Yes, THAT one. When Maggie got home she said, "We Watched 'The Film' today."

"Oh really?" I replied. "What did it talk about?"

"Mostly stuff you have already talked about, like the period, and hair growing, and stuff like that. They talked about how a baby develops inside your body from an egg and a sperm." She said.

"So, do you have any questions?" I asked.

"Just one." She said.

Oh boy, here it comes, I thought. And sure enough. . .

"How does the sperm get there?"

Luckily for me, Jerry came home from work right then, and I told him that his daughter had a question about the film she saw that day. HaHaHa!!! Anyway, so we answered the question together, and obviously, I lived to tell about it.

And so they keep growing up. Sometimes I wish I had a pause button so I could enjoy all the great moments. And maybe a fast forward or rewind button to deal with the not-so-enjoyable moments. I'll just have to do my best without those handy things!