Thursday, June 21, 2007

Family, the Zoo, and IKEA.

I know it's been a long while since my last post, but an eventful midweek-weekend has made it requisite to do so now.

It all started on Wednesday, when Deidra came and picked me up from work. We made it over to the church for our church's blood drive. I like giving blood, but mainly for the treats. They hooks us up pretty well with Oreos, pretzels, trail mix, peanut butter/cheese crackes, Fig Newtons, and some great flavors of Welch's juice. It could almost take the place of dinner - but not quite.

After giving blood, we headed to Ogden, where my dad's side of the family was having a get-together. Deidra finally met my Uncle Larry, only 22 months into our marriage. I think that was the last family member on either side of either family that had not been met by the spouse. So we can check that off of our list. A lot of my cousins and their kids were also there. It was fun to see everyone and talk for a while. My parents were there with their two-year-old granddaughter (our niece), Stevie, who they are watching for a few days.

We then head just down the road to Riverdale, where we stayed the night (with my parents and Stevie) at the old Red Roof Inn, which apparently used to be a Motel 6 and recently was changed back to a Motel 6 - go figure.

The next morning (I had taken the day off from work), we got up, had breakfast at IHOP, dropped my piano keyboard off in Bountiful to get fixed, and then went to the Hogle Zoo.

Stevie enjoyed seeing the elephants, monkeys, alligators, snakes, camels, rhinos, and giraffes. But her favorite was this little bird that came right up to her (behind a glass enclosure). She tried tapping on the glass to touch it, and finally stared kissing the bird through the glass. It was pretty funny, and maybe a little bit disgusting. Who knows what else has touched that glass.

We left the zoo a little bit before noon and convinced my parents that we should go have lunch and shop at IKEA.

We got there right as the lunch hour was in full swing, and Deidra and I enjoyed a red pepper & mozzarella sandwich and chicken Caesar salad. My parents got Stevie some macaroni and cheese, but she spent most of the meal stealing lettuce from my dad's salad and nibbling on it like a cute little bunny rabbit.

Once lunch was over we started shopping, but my parents didn't last long. We said our goodbyes and they headed home while we continued meandering through IKEA. We came away with four new chairs for our dining room. First, we got two of these chairs:

And then we got two of these folding chairs (also in white, but they didn't have that color on their website pictures) that we can pull out when we have company over:

We also got some little stuff - a jar to fill with candy in my office, an apron that Deid fell in love with, and a shaker that we're going to fill up with powdered sugar.

I had originally suggested also making a stop at NPS, but after IKEA, we didn't have any desire to spend any more money. So we traveled home and put our new furniture together, and now here we are.

So maybe it's not a gut-wrenching story that tugs at your heart strings, or one that makes you laugh so hard you cry, but at least I finally blogged - so you better appreciate it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Happy Birthday, WEP!

I even took you out of the junk pile finally.

May your year be full of Sta-Ta-Grade and punch-out pincap visions. And may your wildest dreams come true.

Sunday, June 03, 2007 just rocked my world

Deidra and I have been looking forward to a trip to Los Angeles we had planned for this week. We were to leave on Wednesday and come back the following Tuesday, and had purchased plane tickets from Jet Blue and both a hotel room and a rental car from Expedia.

Today, we found out that Deidra's Grandfather Parish just passed away and his funeral is set for Saturday - right smack-dab in the middle of our vacation. So Deidra and I sat discussing our options: a) to try cancelling our vacation, b) to attempt to reschedule all of our reservations, or c) to go on vacation and miss the funeral.

We decided that option A would be our first choice, if it were possible without getting burned to badly with cancellation fees from JetBlue and Expedia. If it cost to much to cancel, we decided we would look at option B . . . and possibly option C, if both options A and B were too costly.

I first called 1-800-Expedia to look into cancelling our hotel and rental car reservations. After a very short time of talking to the automated system (giving it our itinerary number and telling it that I wanted to "cancel itinerary"), I was immediately forwarded to a live operator, without even having to hold at all. That's right - no elevator music interspersed with that annoying recording that says: "all of our operators are currently busy - please continue to hold." Score one for Expedia! The lady I talked to was very understanding and expressed her condolences in a fairly heavy foreign accent. I was told that there is normally a $50 cancellation fee ($25 for the hotel and $25 for the car rental), but that she would gladly waive those fees because of the situation. Wait - did I just here correctly? I am being refunded the entire amount of the purchase without any cancellation fee? I would have been content to pay the $50 and get the rest of the money refunded. Score another one for Expedia! Needless to say, I was very impressed with them and will certainly use them again in the future.

Deidra next contacted JetBlue (since she had paid for the flights with her credit card and under her name). She had read in the original itinerary email that there was a $30 cancellation fee per ticket to cancel via phone and $25 per ticket to cancel via the internet. But after my success in getting fees waived, she thought she would try using the phone to explain the situation and hopefully get those fees waived as well. No such luck. After waiting on hold for a few minutes, she ended up cancelling our flights with a $60 penalty ($30 per ticket) - and the rest of the money we paid for the tickets is being refunded as "JetBlue Dollars" that can only be redeemed through JetBlue. We were content with that, but definitely not as impressed with their services as we were with Expedia's.

But, all-in-all, we are glad that we were able to get everything cancelled and make it home for the funeral. Deidra was not particularly close to her Grandfather Parish (and I had only met him a couple of times), but we wanted to be there particularly to support Deidra's dad. Family is one of the greatest blessings that we have in this life. Both Deidra's parents and my parents have been there innumerable times throughout our lives (both before and after our marriage) and we are grateful that we are able to support them and show a small token of our appreciation for them through these kinds of situations.