Sunday, January 2, 2011
Holiday Afterglow... Warning: Long Post, Get Some Tea!
I hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday! I catch snippets from other blogs and they have lists out of what they are going to read in 2011, what projects they are going to do, what things they are going to blog about, etc. etc. I'm not that organized. You, like me, will just have to be surprised to see what trouble I get into, er, what I am up to, throughout the year.
During the week off we were busier than I had intended, and I feel like I need more time to do all the nothing I had planned on doing, but alas, school and work start up Monday, bright and early, so I'll have to save all my "nuthin'-doin'" for another time. Dale will probably be on a few weeks lay off around March, so maybe I can get some in then! Ha!
Right before we put up our tree I moved my sewing stuff down to the guest room. The tree goes where my sewing desk usually is, and in past years I have just moved the end table by the couch and crammed my creativity along with my sewing machine into the corner. Usable, but not as comfortable. This year I moved it down to the guest room. I was working on Isaac's quilt and needed to lay it out so I could work on it. The pattern was one where I had to pay attention to how things were getting sewn together. It was very handy to do it in my own little room without little hands touching and moving pieces at unexpected intervals. My mom, who usually comes out during Christmas break, was unable to come this year because of work, so I have gotten spoiled by having my own little sewing room. I love it! Our guests may have to start sleeping on the fold out couch. :P
Actually, for the time being I do prefer having my sewing area in the living room where I can keep tabs on everyone. It is a nice central location and I don't have to wonder what is going on with Isaac or the cat, or both. So, next week, we'll be rearranging the guest room back to it's former glory, and my sewing area will be reestablished in the main living area.
Monday we did a bit of running around, and of course it took all day. I call this whole mess the Saga of the Heart Rate Monitor. This all started because when I hit 30lbs lost I wanted to do something to motivate me to keep going. Well, looking at what I have left to lose should be motivation enough, but I realllllly wanted a heart rate monitor so I could get an accurate reading on calorie burns. Generally I use MyFitnessPal.com but I have read that their calorie burns may not be entirely accurate. Our chemistry is so different that what burns say 100 calories for me, might only burn 75 for someone else, or maybe it burns 125 for another person. As I have said before that losing weight is basic math. You have to burn more than you take in. Hard to keep track of that if you don't have somewhat accurate numbers.
Before Christmas I had to take my big-footed son (yeah... men's size 14 at 14 years old!) and Elizabeth up to the Mall (ick) to get boots. Elizabeth's were easy to find. She is about a woman's size 8 1/2. But Benjamin's... now that was fun. On the Saturday before Christmas, too. What was I thinking? Anyway, while were were there, I figured I would run into the sports store and scope out heart rate monitors. I had gotten a lot of good word of mouth on the Polar ones, so I looked at those. As soon as I started looking a very nice gal came up and asked if she could help me. So I started asking questions. She preferred the Polars too, and the FT4's were on sale. I asked specifically if they would give me a calorie burn, and she said yes. Then she said they were on sale. Great! So, she went to unlock it so we could get it off the rack, and....
the alarm went off.
And wouldn't stop.
The poor girl was trying to unlock it and shut off the alarm and it just wouldn't stop. She called the manager on her fancy ear thingie and he came over, trying to appear professional. By then, the alarm timed out, and stopped. She handed him the key, and he went up to unlock it and....
the alarm went off.
And wouldn't stop.
He fiddled and fiddled and finally the thing came undone. But the alarm just kept going. Over the shrill protesting of the alarm, the nice gal, Sharon, told me about the unit, and said that if the right price didn't ring up to tell them to call her. I made a point of confirming that I could return it if I needed to, and she said yes. I've never bought a heart rate monitor before and wasn't sure I would like the style, so I made sure my bases were covered.
We go up to the register and wait in a long queue. I mean L O N G. Even longer than this little tale is getting to be. I finally get up to the register and the nice lady there, also named Sharon, scanned it in.... and it pops up at the wrong price. I repeat what the other Sharon told me and the Register Sharon gets on her earpiece and asks Alarm Sharon to come to the back register for a price check. Alarm Sharon shows up with the proper bar code, and then everything is scanned in. Suddenly Register Sharon says... "Oh, did you want the warranty on it?" I ask how much it is and for how long. There is a long pause. Register Sharon starts pushing buttons and trying to find it but can't. I suggest she look in the literature she just put in with it, and she does, but to no avail. Finally she calls a floor manager over and after a brief explanation he hits a few buttons, cancels out the transaction, and we have to start over. At least this time she has the right bar code in front of her, so the price check with Alarm Sharon can be avoided. We go through the whole process again, this time adding in the warranty, and I breath a sigh of relief as we head out into the mall again.
Then the alarm goes off.
I step back into the store, and Register Sharon takes the thing all apart and examines it over. There isn't any shoplifter alarm on the heart rate monitor anywhere. She tells me to just go, and not to worry about it. I do, and as we walk out, the alarm goes off AGAIN. I look over at Register Sharon who waves us off, and as we walk out through the mall, I'm looking over the monitor again, just to be sure. I didn't find anything. However, I did find, on some leftover packaging a little tiny adhesive type safety disk. I tore it off and threw it away. Later, when we got home, Dale found another one that I never would have recognized. He said that they see them in the warehouse all the time. Thankfully none of them were on the unit itself, so there was no damage or self destruct, or whatever it is the devices do.
Fast forward a very busy week of school and preparation for Christmas. It's the first day of vacation, and I'm playing with the monitor. It works perfectly... but there is no calorie burn count. I read over the directions which are in English, Swedish, French, Spanish, Japanese, and Norwegian. Great... you have to multilingual just to figure the thing out.
No calorie burn count. AT all. No where. Okay, good thing I have the receipt and since we were going to be up that way anyway, Dale and I decide to go ahead and exchange it. After doing research I realize I need an upgraded model.
Dale takes everyone but Benjamin and Elizabeth with him to Best Buy to look at electronics and I take the remaining two with me, who are just coming along for the fun of it. I get in the store and find the correct model and realize I can't take it off the rack because it is locked. I get in line at the back register, and wait. And wait. Once in a blue moon an employee walks by muttering under their breath how they are short handed. It's like a subtle message to the waiting customers, and a not so subtle complaint about management that doesn't have the foresight to realize that the week after Christmas is a busy time for customer service with all the returns and exchanges.
We wait patiently in line. I'm starving, because we put off lunch until after this *quick* errand. I'm hot, because I'm all bundled up against the whipping wind and the snow outside, but inside, I'm cooking. Thankfully the littles are all with Dale and not having to endure a grueling wait.
When it is my turn at the register, I say: " I need to return this," and the guy barely looks at me and says, "You have to do that up front."
I go up to the front where the hidden customer service desk is, and see that there is only one lady in line. Yay! I get behind her. The gal behind the desk has a pile of clothes and is on the ear piece talking to someone about sending some fleece jackets to another store. She is fluttering about but really doing nothing. Finally after about 10 minutes of waiting, she asks her question about sending the jackets and apparently gets a negative response. She then asks the lady in front of me how she can help her, and the lady in front of me asks for a fishing license. I can see the Register Gal get a blank look on her face and I groan inwardly, while trying not to look tired, hot, cranky, and hungry. I just know my blood sugar is at zero by now.
Register Gal is back on her earpiece like some sort of Sporting Secret Service, and asking the manager about fishing licenses. I hear her say, "No, I can't use the register, it isn't unlocked." I'm thinking... You have got to be kidding. She's been here all this time and she isn't even cashed into the register? A co-worker shows up and gets Register Gal's register opened. Brilliant.
Fishing Lady looks a little annoyed, but seems to be handling the wait well. Benjamin and Elizabeth were browsing the store and show up at my elbow.
"How's it going, Mama?"
"Peachy." They know what that means.
Register Gal tells Fishing Lady, "It'll be just a couple minutes." Then she turns to me and says the magic words:
"May I help you?"
I had the manila envelope with the monitor and all the paperwork and receipt and explain that I need to return it.
"Oh, is it broken?"
"Um, no, it isn't the right model."
Uh oh. A deer-in-the-headlights looks comes over Register Gal's face. I groan again inwardly. It can't be that difficult, can it? She is back on her earpiece again asking for the manager to come to the desk. I'm beginning to wonder if using the earpieces is habit forming.
The manager comes along and asks what the problem is. I explain yet again I need to return or exchange the monitor.
"Is it broken?" he asks.
"No, it isn't the right model." I'm beginning to feel like a broken record. I hear Benjamin and Elizabeth snicker behind me. They are enjoying this way too much, in my opinion.
The manager takes a quick look at it and says with a tone that is quite final, "You can't return this."
There is a special look that runs in our family that is reserved for such times as this. When my brother got married, my mom rode with us on the 14 hour trip south to the wedding. My mom had had a run in with a bat in a hotel room, and though it didn't appear that it bit her, she was still going through the rabies shot treatment. She had a shot just a day prior to the trip so she wasn't feeling too well. I was in the first trimester, pregnant with twins, and I definitely wasn't feeling well. I spent the trip with a bucket in one hand, and hard candies in the other. After several confirmations before the trip, we were assured our hotel rooms were secure. Oh, did I mention my oldest was 18 months old and VERY ACTIVE? After the L O N G drive down, we got to the hotel, dead tired, sick, and needing a bed to collapse into only to find they didn't have our rooms reserved. And nothing apparently was available.
Dale had gone in to the lobby with my mom, and I stayed out in the car with Benjamin, who was finally asleep in his car seat. Dale told me later that it was "The Look" that mom gave that made the manager cough up two rooms in a hurry. I've seen "The Look" and heard "The Tone" only a handful of times growing up. That isn't to be confused with the Magic Hand, which was used on my brother and me when needed. The Magic Hand is nothing compared to The Look and The Tone.
Apparently the kids have heard the tale about that trip to Uncle Paul's wedding. As soon as the manager off handedly said "You can't return this," I employed "The Look and The Tone." My mother would have been proud.
Seriously, all I said was, "Excuse me?" in a nice somewhat louder tone than necessary. I think I heard the kids suck in their breath. I might have accidentally scared them. Oh well, I don't think they are psychologically traumatized. I noticed they weren't snickering anymore.
The manager was most certainly affected. I quickly explained, still using The Look and The Tone that I was told it would have a calorie count function, and it did not. I was also reassured before purchasing by Alarm Sharon that I could return it if I wanted to.
The manager took on a conciliatory tone and asked very nervously, "would you like money back or exchange?"
"I would like to exchange it. It won't be an even exchange though, so I'll have to pay for the difference."
"Just go get what you want and we'll take care of it here."
I rolled my eyes. This was getting old, FAST.
"I already tried that. The rack is locked."
The manager gets on his Secret Service device and told someone named Colby to meet me back at the proper aisle.
I got back to the heart rate monitors and Colby, if his name tag was right, was there waiting. I told him what I needed and he said, "Oh, I don't have the key for that."
"You're kidding." I wasn't really surprised, to tell the truth.
"Some kid lost it last week."
And this is my problem? I didn't say it, but I wondered why he didn't have it replaced yet. Colby gets on the ear piece and talks to someone who apparently had a key. They came, unlocked it, and I got back up to the Customer Service desk. They were kind enough to let me finish my transaction without waiting in the rather lengthy line that had formed while Fishing Lady was trying to get her license. She was still waiting, by the way.
Finally! I had my new heart rate monitor that does the calorie count, and Benjamin, Elizabeth and I left the store into the mall.
The alarm went off.
Seriously. I couldn't make this stuff up.
Here we go again, I thought.
I walked up to the back register and after he was done with the customer I interjected (also known as cut the line because there was no way I was waiting another 20 minutes in a long queue) and told Register Dude that I had just bought the heart rate monitor. He checked it over, punched a few buttons and said I should be fine now.
We walked out... and no alarm! One point for the home team.
We power walked over to Best Buy. I figured Dale was going to think I got lost or abducted by this point. We went sailing into Best buy.
And the alarm went off.
Oh for crying out loud. There was a couple registers right by the door and the Best Buy Guy looked at me and I held up the Dick's Sporting Good bag and said helplessly, "I just bought a heart rate monitor."
I was thinking I was going to need a blood pressure tester by now too.
The Best Buy Guy scanned it in his computer and voila! No more alarms.
That my dear readers is the abominabley long Heart Rate Monitor Saga. Let's pray that there aren't any continuations.
The rest of the vacation was much more pleasant. Even the rest of that day was much more pleasant. Lots of family time, and I got a two day quilting spree with a good friend which was so much fun and so refreshing. On New Year's Eve we had a pajama party with lots of grazing, games and movies. I almost made it to midnight. I was watching a movie with some of the kids down stairs, sprawled out on the couch, and my eyes just slammed shut. They woke me up later saying, "Mama! It's three minutes until midnight!"
I was going to post some pics of some of the goodies we made, but I'll save it for another time. This post is already way too long, and if it entertained you at all, then my job is done for now.
Happy New Year!