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Archive for the ‘By Mike’ Category

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day. Flowers, candy, dinner, romance and love. When I first heard that Shannon would be out-of-town for work starting Tuesday of this week, I had a momentary feeling of disappointment. No Valentine’s Day? Then I thought about it. We’re not that couple. We don’t need a holiday to tell us to remember that we love each other. As the day neared, we joked a little about not being together for Valentine’s Day, but we didn’t really even think about it seriously. It was just another day.

The mutual lack of significance we placed on Valentine’s Day gave me the idea that a surprise gift would really be cool. So, while Shannon was out with her sisters doing yoga, I made the call to 1800 Flowers and ordered a gift basket to be delivered to the hotel she would be checking into on Tuesday evening. Brilliant. That’s when things went to hell. And they went to hell in stages.

Stage 1: The missing address. Somehow, the polite Indian fellow who took my order (his name was “Jeff,” but that’s another post) forgot to get the address of the hotel from me. He got the name of the hotel and the zip code, but no street address. 1800 Flowers proceeded to call me thirty-seven times in the course of 1 hour while I was sitting next to Shannon. Finally I gave in and answered, which forced me to make up a story about Walgreens calling about my prescription. To get the address, which was accessible by internet, I sneaked outside with Shannon’s sister (thanks Kelli) and pretended to help her put in her car seat while I explained what I needed from her, and her smart phone. On the way to a family dinner, she covertly found the address and wrote it on a receipt that I had sitting in the car. When Shannon went to the bathroom during dinner, I sneaked out again and called 1800 Flowers back. They assured me that, with this last piece of information, the package would be delivered by 7pm Tuesday. One more white lie about my Mom calling and asking for help moving something and I was home free.

Stage 2: The waiting game. On Tuesday, I woke up giddy. I left Shannon a little note wishing her a good trip, and headed off to work. After a long day at work and a long afternoon wondering when Shannon would check in, she called me from her hotel room. She then proceeded to ask me for help with her credit card bill, complain about travel complications, and make absolutely no mention of her surprise at my gift. What the hell? After calling the hotel, it was determined that the package did not arrive. I called 1800 Flowers, but apparently the don’t take calls on Valentine’s Day. I went through their automated system for several minutes, and was hung up on. Cool.

Stage 3: Tracking the problems. On Wednesday, after innocuously determining that Shannon would still be at her hotel that night, I called the hotel again. Still no delivery. The hotel, a Country Inn and Suites, suggested that maybe it was delivered to the Comfort Inn and Suites across the street. Another phone call, still no gift. I called 1800 Flowers again, and actually got to talk to a person, who informed me that the package was delivered on Tuesday. Um…pretty sure it wasn’t. When I disagreed with him, he immediately told me that, even though it was delivered, if I did not receive the package then he could refund my purchase and give me a $20 voucher toward a future purchase.

Stage 4: Decompression. After fuming about poor customer service and the stress of coming up with a fun idea, and then having it blow up in my face, I told Shannon the whole story. She of course thought it was hilarious and thought I was adorable for trying. Since she wasn’t expecting anything, she wasn’t disappointed. And it is a pretty funny story. But I’m still kind of annoyed.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

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Recently, we moved into my Dad’s house. He got married, and moved into his new wife’s house, so we got to rent his on the cheap. It’s nice, because it’s kind of like owning a house without the debt. So far, I’ve had mixed experiences pretending to be a homeowner. Here is a partial recap of my escapades.

The towel bar fiasco:

We have a very small bathroom. Like closet-sized. As a space-saving measure, the previous owners (before Dad), installed a 2-tiered towel bar. It stuck out pretty far, and the weight of freshly dampened towels over the years pulled it loose. Easy fix right? I bought a new towel bar and set out with the best of intentions to remove the old bar and install the new one. 10 minutes and several gaping holes later, I removed what seemed to me to be a not so expertly installed towel bar. Installing mine would be simple. The bar came with wall anchors, so I carefully avoided the studs and drilled my holes. 20 frustrating seconds later, I determined that my stud-finder was broken as I flattened my wall anchor against a stud. Awesome. It was then time to pull out the big guns. I wall-dogged it. Wall-dogs are massive screws on steroids, designed for anchoring into studs or drywall. They did not disappoint, and the towel bar is still hanging. After several coats of Spackle, the walls are even mostly patched. It’s important to note also that Shannon gave me explicit instructions not to attempt the towel bar installation after my first fail. Instructions that I promptly ignored. Had the wall-dogs failed, I would have been in trouble. I love to live dangerously.

The flood of 2011:

On Black Friday, while strategically avoiding humanity at it’s worst by chilling at home, I was washing some dishes and my foot got soaked. I discovered a  plumbing problem that could not be fixed without parts. Off to Home Depot. Fortunately, most of the shoppers were gone, and I was able to pick up a new connector for the drain for $1.99. I even picked up a higher-end toilet seat to replace the cheap plastic one opposite our newly installed towel bar. The sink repair went perfectly, and has been holding since. I also must mention that this was shortly after I successfully installed a saddle-valve and connected the water line to our refrigerator ice/water dispenser. Apparently I don’t suck at plumbing.

Yard-Crashing:

I’m an awesome raker. Our yard was consistently one of the cleanest on the street this fall. After a weird lull in November and December, I’m now making a name as a driveway shoveler extraordinaire. I gotta give props to the man-plow for this. The man-plow was a conciliation prize after I chickened out on buying a snow blower at a pre-thanksgiving sale. It’s essentially a small plastic plow blade with a lawn-mower style handlebar. A man (or woman, of course) can get behind this plow and push lots of snow. It’s cut down my shoveling time by, I would guess, 25%. Plus, I get to announce that I’m going out to “man-plow.” I’m not super-excited about the fact that I’m now writing this post to avoid man-plowing for the 3rd time in less than 48 hours, but I guess it was inevitable.

Laundry:

This is just funny and stupid. Right now, I’m waiting for a load of laundry to finish washing for the 2nd time. I had a load of dirty clothes, plus a load in the washer and dryer. I emptied the dryer, transferred the washer to the dryer, then proceeded to load the dryer with the clothes I had just taken out of the dryer. Worse yet, I didn’t realize it until I had folded almost all of the basket of dirty clothes that I brought back upstairs with me from the basement laundry room. Nice work Mike…nice work.

All in all, it’s good to be a homeowner. A sort-of, not really, quasi homeowner.

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Mike’s birthday was waaay back in September, but I just realized we never wrote about it. Well, Mike told you about how I bought him a corndog maker, but we also did some fun stuff to celebrate. We got all dressed up and went to dinner at a nice place that offers free lobster to birthday boys and girls.

I was quite frightened of Mike’s lobster, and I was glad I stuck to the halibut. After dinner, we went to the local comedy club. I had never been to a live comedy show, so it was really fun. We intentionally sat in the back to avoid becoming part of the act though.

So now Mike is 30… less than two months before I turn 31. He’s such a baby.

Happy (belated) birthday hon!

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My Wife’s Closets

That’s right…plural.

First, a disclaimer. This post is a good-natured commentary on Shannon’s adorable  attachment to clothing, and in no way is a criticism of any kind. I love my wife and find her style both fun and sophisticated. Love you honey!

So, in our temporary home on the road between our jobs, we had a huge walk-in master closet. Shannon took it over. She filled it. Literally, we couldn’t close the closet door. I was relegated to the outpost of guest bedroom closet. To be fair, this was actually a good situation, since I get up several hours before Shan every morning. She gets to sleep, and I get to access my clothing.

Before our move out, we made the obligatory Goodwill pile. Out of my meager clothing collection, I put together 2 kitchen-sized garbage bags full of old sweaters, tee-shirts, slacks, and shirts that will no doubt sit at Goodwill for years until the luckiest giant in the world happens across them. My wife, out of her room-o-clothes, came up with about 12 items. And I will not mention The Shoe Collection, which could be rotated for 2 full months with no repeating (ok, I just mentioned it). Adorable. 🙂

After the move, we found ourselves with a unique problem. We have a master bedroom with a tiny closet, and a guest bedroom with a large, double closet. The only realistic solution was to switch our arrangement, so I take over the master closet and Shan takes over the guest bedroom closet…I mean closets). It works. It really does. The end result however, is a mostly full closet and a 2/3 full dresser in the master bedroom, along with an entire dresser that is, so far, completely empty. In the other room, we have an almost overflowing double closet and 2 full dressers (we inherited two dresses in the move and suddenly find ourselves with a low of drawer space).

In fairness to my beautiful wife, she has been equally indulgent of me when it comes to the kitchen. The most notable culprit, the mixer. The beautiful, 25-pound KitchenAid mixer that I had to have, and now barely use. We all have our things.

I guess the round-about message here is, I find this clothing situation funny and cute, which must mean I love my wife, right?

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Marriage is about lots of things, and many of those things are about evolving. Recently, Shan and I discussed birthday presents. We’ve recently had some pretty fun birthdays. Last year we went on a hot air balloon ride for my birthday. And for Shan’s last birthday her family and I surprised her with an ’80s themed surprise party. This year we went to dinner and a comedy club for my birthday. In addition to these activities, we give gifts. But, recently, we decided to forgo the gift-giving. We will still give each other gifts, should the mood strike us, but we no longer feel the need to buy something specifically for birthdays. If we want anything special and need an excuse to buy it, we’ve agreed to treat ourselves out of our joint checking account to a little birthday gift.

This discussion took place weeks before my birthday. I’m not much of a birthday person anyway, so I wasn’t really expecting a gift in the first place. After our birthday evolution discussion, I really didn’t anticipate anything. Much to my surprise, Shannon gave me a corn dog maker!

One of these days I’ll learn how to insert pictures into a post (or get my wife to do it for me). Until then, imagine a George Foreman grill, but with 6 depressions that can hold enough cornbread batter to surround an average-sized hot dog. Not quite the same as a fried corn dog, but pretty awesome.

(Thank you for the photo, Shannon.)

Devoted blog readers might be aware that corn dogs are my favorite bachelor-snack whenever Shannon is out of town or just absent for dinner. Now I can make my own, anytime I want!

Evolution, it seems, is a slow process. Shannon insists that she didn’t spend much on this gift, but it happened right after we agreed to stop buying birthday gifts. Hmm… Perhaps I’ll do better when her birthday rolls around in December.

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The Weirdness of Growing Up

When Shannon and I met, we had lots of conversations about fun vacations we wanted to take, exciting future jobs, the movies and TV shows we both loved, and lots of other things that were exciting to talk about. Lots of things centered on the here-and-now. Lately, the tide has turned.

Yesterday, we had a discussion about scheduling a meeting with our retirement account representative to assess our investment strategy and decide how to maximize our retirement account effectiveness. Not nearly as exciting a conversations as where to take our dream vacation. But, probably more important?

Let’s be clear. I’m not disappointing that we talk about retirement accounts, work schedules, home improvement, and bills more than we used to. I actually kind of love it. I’m a planner at heart, and I’m so glad that Shannon is too. And it’s not like we never talk about the fun stuff anymore. Hell, we even do the fun stuff we talk about. Look at our summer! Europe, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, skydiving, babysitting. We are wild and crazy! But I’m glad we do the boring grown-up stuff too. And I’m excited to talk to a professional about our retirement. If we can save right, I know we could have some great years of talking about and doing the fun stuff when we retire.

Ultimately, it’s about the balance. Having fun is nice, but growing up is also nice. Nice, and weird.

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So, my Dad is getting married. This is what is happening in my life right now.

Back story. My Mom and Dad split up about 6 years ago. I was living in California, and from what I can gather it was a good decision. There was no animosity. Since then, my Mom has been living in a condo, and my Dad has moved from a rental to a house. It was a little weird to get used to my parents being apart, but I’m handling it. Christmases are even smaller now, but whatever.

And now, this.

Dad went on a dating website, and after some fits and starts, met a woman named Penny. They got serious…fast. Shan and I met her at Thanksgiving, and shortly after that spent a Christmas celebration with her and my Dad at my Aunt’s house. Then the long winter set in. My Dad and Penny went on a vacation together. As far as I know, this is the first vacation he has been on with a woman other than my Mom in at least 30 years. When Shan and I went to his house for Easter, she was wearing a ring. I noticed this within 23 seconds of walking in the door. Several excruciating minutes (hours?) later, he announced what I (and Shannon, I later found out) had already pieced together. And so, my Dad is to be wed.

I’m very happy for my Dad. If he has a chance to be happy late in life (later, anyway), then good for him. And I love Penny. She’s a down-to-earth, genuinely nice person. She’s cool, and I’m glad she and my Dad are happy. However, this is weird. If your parent has never married someone other than your other parent, you wouldn’t understand. I’m also a little freaked out by the fact that my Dad will become a grandparent when he gets married. It’s selfish, but I wanted him to become a grandparent when WE had kids (or my little brother, I guess). I actually got to watch him interact with Penny’s grand kids the other day, and it was unsettling.

One upside in this is that he and Penny are buying a house together. Since my Dad bought his house not-too-long-ago, and got a tax credit, he can’t sell. That means we get to rent a house without going through the nightmare search that goes along with that. Also, I get to be a best man! That’s not really that big of a deal, and it’ll be fairly duty-free, but still…fun!

So, that’s the big news in my life. And. So. Weird. But hey…at least the blog is about weddings again for a post.

Editor’s Note: Mike gives me too much credit. I (Shannon) had NO idea anything was going on until his dad announced their engagement at dinner. I didn’t see the ring, I didn’t suspect anything, and I was completely surprised. I guess I’m not very observant…

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