Monday, December 29, 2008

An Open Letter to Toys 'R' Us

December 29, 2008

Toys"R"Us, Inc. Headquarters

One Geoffrey Way
Wayne, New Jersey 07470-2030

Re: Customer Service

To Whom It May Concern:

I have been a customer at your ________ St, _____, __ location for the past nine years. I can tell you, from a preliminary perusal of my credit card transactions, I have spent at least $571.00 in your toy store in the last twelve months.

I am writing about your “new” return policy. I have rarely had a problem returning items for exchange at your store in the past. I have occasionally found your customer service to be mediocre, but the convenient location and large selection warranted putting up with your unhappy employees.

I am afraid that is no longer the case.

Yesterday, I took my son to the store to exchange a duplicate gift he received for Christmas from his five-year-old cousin. (He received a copy of the Nintendo DS Game “Right Brain Left Brain, which he already has.) The package was un-opened, it was still sealed in plastic wrap and it had a Toys 'R' Us sticker on the front.

We were not allowed to exchange the item because we did not have a receipt, despite the fact that the store manager acknowledged that the game was a Toys ‘R’ Us product and she acknowledged that it was unopened.

The manager looked at me as if I had grown a third head when I asked to exchange the item. She also behaved as though she thought I was not very bright, as she kept repeating that this was “store policy”. She also stated that this has been your corporate policy for “years”. This is simply NOT TRUE as I returned a 'Moon Sand' set to your store without a receipt in November 2007.

She also insisted that Toys R Us “provides a gift receipt for every product and if the gift giver doesn’t include that with the gift that is between you and gift giver.”

This is also either an outright lie or a serious stretching of the truth. I know this because on December 18, 2008, I purchased three (3) items in your store, and I requested “gift receipts”. (I had to REQUEST them.) The cashier printed out a SINGLE gift receipt (not three separate ones) and when I asked for three separate ones, the cashier acted as though I was requesting a kidney from her first born child. As such, I left the store with a single gift receipt. I can only assume that almost all of your other customers did as well, which makes it RATHER DIFFICULT, if not COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE to attach a gift receipt to every Christmas gift.

The gift receipt also says, “THIS RECEIPT WILL EXPEDITE ANY EXCHANGE OR RETURN OF MERCHANDISE.” It does NOT say that no exchanges will be allowed without it.

Because of my own direct experience with your gift receipt policy, I am not at all surprised that the gift giver was not able to attach a gift receipt to my son’s game.

Please note that I was not asking for a refund – I was asking to exchange the game for another game at the same price. The game was un-opened and clearly from your store. Your refusal to allow this even exchange at Christmas time, with so many gifts being given from your store, is unreasonable and impossible to explain to a little boy.

I ask that you rectify this situation by allowing my son to return the game. Otherwise, I will have to take my toy buying dollars to Target and Kohl’s, where I have never been made to feel like a criminal or a stupid person for simply trying to exchange a duplicate Christmas gift.

I would also like you to know that you made a little boy cry yesterday, which I’m sure is hardly the goal of your company.

Very truly yours,


I suppose it's totally possible that I am over-reacting and that writing this (which I did mail to Toys R Us) on my lunch hour was a waste of my time. What makes me most angry was the store's insistance that they provide a gift receipt with "every item". Because they DON'T. And I don't like being made to feel stupid or as if I am trying to pull something over on the store. I just wanted them to do what was FAIR, and they refused.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

There's a Young Man in the Corner, Playing "Crazy" All Night Long*

The natives are restless.

Working on 9 days of pretty much constant togetherness has Gabe and Lana almost at each other's throats. They have another week off. I'm concerned they might kill each other by the time January 5 rolls around. I'm really not sure how stay-at-home moms do this without Valium. (Or maybe there's a whole LOT of Valium you aren't telling me about?) (Kidding.) (Maybe.)

I wanted to write a post about how Christmas Eve is really the start of the Christmas season, and how the Christmas season lasts until Epiphany (January 6), and how we shouldn't see Christmas Day as the end of it all and then fall, kerplunk, into post holiday blues, because it's not really POST Holiday until January 7.

And all of that is technically true (if you're celebrating Christmas religiously, as opposed to celebrating Christmas simply culturally, which is fine, really, I understand everybody needs a little light and festivity here in the Western hemisphere where we are living through the darkest (literally) days of the year.) But, in as much as it is true, and as much as I am trying to celebrate BOTH religiously and culturally, I am failing in my ability to feel Christmas right now.

I have the post holiday blues.

Maybe it was because Christmas was so bizarre - lots of tension at my in-laws house. (As a side note, does anyone think it's kind of rude to pick family fights on Christmas Day? Isn't it kind of selfish? To make EVERYONE feel lousy? I ask because I understand that there's a LOT of family fighting at Christmas get-togethers, and we had one this year and it made me want to cry. Well, what it DID do was cause me to hide in the guest room and read the first chapter of Christopher Moore's new novel, Fool, which he posted on-line at his website here. The whole book will be out on February 10. Huzzah.)

Also, I'm extremely angry with Toys R Us. And I might post my angry letter to them on my blog tomorrow, because, well, I'm just that ticked off about it. We actually have a Toys R Us credit card, which is going to be cancelled tomorrow, because, well, I'm that ticked. (And also we don't really use it much anymore since we stopped needing to buy diapers, and they drastically decreased their reward program.) They have always had poor customer service, but today really took the cake.

What is the point of all this?

Um...yeah. Post-holiday blues. Children at each other's throats. General feeling of malaise. Extended family tension. Craptacular customer service. Why is this the most wonderful time of year again?

I am looking forward to some nice, laid back and delicious plans we have for New Year's Eve with some good friends. I'm hoping that will cheer me right up. In the meantime, I'm going to curl back up with some bluesy music and a book and hide from my children.


*Cowboy Junkies, Where are You Tonight

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Merry Christmas! I hope your day is full of family and love and fun.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Lawmommy wonders....

I wonder....

If anyone really enjoys eating those nasty "orange creme" chocolates in the Russell Stover's Christmas candy box. (It's the last Russell Stover's chocolate in the box in our copy room. It's been sitting there for DAYS. I am contemplating cutting the damn thing open, scraping out the orange creme (er...alleged orange creme?) and eating the dark chocolate coating. Is that sad?)

If I will ever get all the presents wrapped that need to be wrapped in the next 72 hours?

What Kristen Bell (aka Veronica Mars aka Elle from Heroes) was thinking when she put on this ridiculous outfit? Such a tiny pretty girl, in giant hideous sequined pants? Why? Why?

If the fact that I filed two eviction complaints three mornings before Christmas makes me worse than Ebenezer Scrooge? What do you think?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Here We Go A Wassailing

I think that I have made my love of the beach (and accompanying rum drinks) fairly obvious to anyone who reads this blog. (Or who, you know, knows me in real life.)

I also love (most) Christmas music. (Except for The Christmas Shoes song. Oh sweet Lord, I HATE that song with the fire of a thousand suns.)

So, is it really a surprise to anyone that I love this Boney M Christmas song, circa 1978?

Boney M's Oh My Lord

It's like a Caribbean Christmas. It makes me completely and totally and irrationally happy every time I hear it.

Go ahead, you can mock me if you must.

Along (much) more traditional lines, my favorite Christmas hymn is "Oh Holy Night" - but, I am extremely particular about it. It must be song by a man (I love female singers, I do. However, I do not want to hear this song sung by a soprano or an alto. It needs to be sung by a tenor or a baritone.) I am sure there are lots of sopranos and altos who do a beautiful job with this hymn. However, I don't want to hear it. It's just a thing with me. (I do think it is a beautiful performed by someone with a bass voice, but I cannot listen to it without bawling like a baby - my grandfather was a bass, and he did the loveliest version of this song I have ever heard. He sang it every Christmas Eve and I cannot listen to someone who sounds remotely like him without breaking into a million pieces.)

Here is Josh Groban (arguable somewhere between a tenor and a baritone) singing it.

Josh Groban, Oh Holy Night

So, what is YOUR favorite music to listen to this time of year?


*As always, I'm just posting links to these videos, I had nothing to do with making them, they are not mine

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Wardrobe Malfunction

My junior year in college, I was cast as in the role of the maid in my theater department's production of a French farce called Paradise Hotel.

Generally speaking, the role of the maid in a French farce is a plum role - funny and sexy and mischievous. I was thrilled.

To be honest, I cannot remember much of the plot, but I do recall, vividly, that one scene called for me to run onto stage dressed in ruffled bloomers and a corset and jump into bed with the actor was playing my paramour.

The student in charge of costumes obtained the corset and bloomers from...I honestly don't know where. Probably some kind of costume house. The bloomers fit fine, but the corset, well, being a corset, it was TIGHT. And even though I was still thin back then, the corset had trouble containing, er...some of my girly bits.

On opening night, trussed into my corset, I ran from the wings onto stage and hopped into the fake bed on which my on-stage love interest was waiting. And with that bounce into bed, the corset gave up and...well, let's just say it was probably the first R-rated stage moment that small United Methodist liberal arts college had ever had. The actor who was playing my lover, a man who, in real life, had absolutely no interest in my girly bits because of their very nature as girly bits, valiantly threw his arms around me in a fake passionate embrace and tugged up on the back of the corset, effectively putting my girly bits back where they belonged, and the show went on.

Husband, to this day, regrets missing that performance. ;-p (It actually took place about 2 weeks before we began dating.)

Which brings me to the night of my brother's wedding, last weekend.

As I mentioned before, to my astonishment, I was going to be able to wear the dress from my Girlfriend H~'s wedding from two summers ago in my brother's Christmas wedding.

If you've been following this blog for any period of time, you know that I've been struggling with my weight and some funky thyroid/pituitary issues for the last several years. I did my level best to stay on Weight Watchers for the past two and a half months, and although it was depressingly slow, I lost about 5.5 lbs.

And YET. And YET when I went to put the dress on (and TWO kinds of SPANX), on the Friday night before the wedding, IT WOULD NOT ZIP. No how, no way, that dress would not zip.

I wailed at the absurdity of it all while my aunt and my grandmother examined the inside of the dress for any place where an inch or two might be let out.

There was nothing to be let out. And so they (Grandma and Aunt) put me in the dress (it zipped halfway, and the hook and eye at the top could be closed, but, there was a four inch gap in the center of my back) and they tacked the dress's shawl to the dress in the three key places. Thus, it would allow it to appear that I just was holding my shawl around me and no one would see that the dress was only partly zipped up. It was not a perfect solution, but it was the only one we could come up with 16-hours before the wedding.

I arrived at the church in a snowstorm, without my Aunt and Grandma (who were decorating the hall for the reception), and I snagged my sister, S~, and I told her what was going on with my dress and that I would need her help getting the shawl appropriately arranged.

My sister's eyes narrowed in a very determined way.

"Stay here," she commanded. (As if I was going to run off anywhere as I was standing half-dressed and barefoot in a church bathroom.) "Don't tell L~!" I called after her, not wanting her to upset our soon-to-be sister-in-law, the BRIDE. ("Don't upset the bride" is a good mantra to keep on anybody's wedding day, I think.)

S~ shortly returned with our other sister, and both of them the assessed the situation. (They are small, my sisters. Tiny, in fact. But, they are two itty-bitty packages of pure determination.)

One of them held the dress shut and the other one coaxed the zipper, and through SHEER FORCE OF THEIR COMBINED WILL, that zipper went UP. I couldn't really breathe, and I had a WHOLE LOT of cleavage overflowing the bust of the dress, but the dress was zipped.

That was about 3:00 PM in the afternoon.

And that dress stayed zipped. It stayed zipped through pictures and the ceremony and more pictures and the snowy ride in the Hummer stretch limousine (Classy. NOT*). It stayed zipped through dinner and dancing and cake cutting.

And then, about 10:00 PM, when I desperately needed AIR, I took a deep breath and the dress said, "Oh hell NO" and the whole zipper gave out and, well...I was reminded of playing that maid in that French farce all over again. Except this time I DID have on two kinds of SPANX, so, it wasn't so much a R-rated expose as it was simply that my dress was falling off, revealing the oh-so-unattractive nude SPANX beneath.

It was a glowing moment in my own personal history.

Thank goodness I had that shawl.


* we had the ridiculous Hummer because it was the only limo that would fit the whole bridal party

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Meme

(I totally stole this from Bringing Home Be.)

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten (and I have also made them green).
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. (Since blogger doesn't give me the option to cross out, I have marked my nevers with red.)
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison (I don't care for it, but I have eaten it)
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding (not on your life)
7. Cheese fondue (this is my favorite food in life)
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
PB&J sandwich
Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
Epoisses (this is a cheese that I do not like, there aren't many)
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (I am very fond of cherry)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
Foie gras (not a fan, but I've eaten it)
Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese (yuck!)
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava (I LOVE Baklava)
30. Bagna cauda (I had never heard of this before. It sounds good though)
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat (Husband has eaten this and likes it a lot.)
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal (too spicy!)
44. Goat’s milk (I've not had the milk, but I love goat's milk cheese. Does that count?)
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu (not interested in risking my life, thanks)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear (I HAVE had prickly pear jam. It is nasty).
52. Umeboshi
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
57. Dirty gin
58. Beer above 8% ABV
Poutine (I know it doesn't sound that great, but it's DELISH)
Carob chips
62. Sweetbreads (no way)
63. Kaolin (earth eating? No thanks).
64. Currywurst
65. Durian (stinky dinky doo!)
66.Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (just.....EW!)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
Tom yum
Eggs Benedict
Pocky (love, love, love...Pocky is LOVE)
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
89. Horse (in my defense, I was in France, and I was really, really hungry)
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa (I had to look this one up too, never heard of it.)
94. Catfish (this is another favorite of mine)
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
Lobster Thermidor
Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Weekend of Joy and Sorrow

You already know why this weekend was sorrowful for me.

It was also a weekend of tremendous joy.

Here was the joyful part.

Lana is sad in this picture because she wants a piece of cake. There are lots of children gathered around the cake. They were like puppies. It wasn't much later that the cake was cut.

My mother made the cake. It was AMAZING. And stunning. And she announced she wasn't making another cake for a VERY. LONG. TIME. (She made all of our wedding cakes (mine and five siblings. My brother who got married on Saturday is the last of the six of us to tie the knot.)

I love this photo of my little sister and her son.

Lana and I. (I am upset because I don't have a single good photo of Gabe from the wedding.)

Husband and I at the church before the service.

Remind me to tell you the story of my wardrobe malfunction. It is a funny story, and I'm not feeling so funny right now.


This is a hard post for me to write. And I don't want to write it. But I NEED to write it because if I don't write it, I might lose my mind a little bit.

I might lose my mind briefly anyway.

It is impossible for me to believe that in 2008, in a fine hospital, full of fine doctors, a woman can die from complications of pregnancy and birth.

But that is what has happened.

H~ was a college girlfriend. She was not one of my Girlfriends (capital G), not one of the women on whom I rely today. But, she was a Girlfriend to some of my Girlfriends, and right now my heart is breaking for her husband, for her baby who will never know her mother, and for my Girlfriends who have lost one of THEIR Girlfriends.

H~ and I were sorority sisters and we had a lot of classes together, and she made me laugh and I liked sitting and talking with her in the cafeteria.

It has been almost 8 years since I saw her last.

It does not make it easier, those eight years of absence, for me to wrap my head around her death. Her insane, tragic, inexplicable death. Her death is something I am having a really hard time accepting as real.

H~ was an athlete in college. As I sat here, trying to conjure specific memories of her, smiling and blond and laughing, I remember watching her get ready for a swim meet. She was so strong. I mean, really, physically - she was all muscle - she was fast. She was very, very fast in the pool.

How is possible, how is fair, how is it POSSIBLE - for someone so strong to be torn from her family this way? She had a baby. She died. It's not right. It's NOT possible. Except that it must be possible, because it happened.

I want to believe that she is not dead, I want to believe that she, like all new mothers, is sore and overwhelmed and desperate for sleep. I want to believe that she is struggling with a gigantic stroller baby seat combo in the Michigan snow. I want to believe these things, but none of them is true.

But the thing that is true - that she is gone - is too horrible for me to comprehend.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

No Pox

Well, she doesn't have chicken pox. She also does not have measles.

Unfortunately, exactly WHAT it is that caused the spots remains a mystery. The doctor says, "either an allergic reaction to something, or bug bites of some kind, or an allergic reaction to bug bites."

One of my uncles ~ a doctor who spends most of his time treating AIDS patients in sub-Saharan Africa but who is back in the States for a few months (no, I'm not making that up) ~ has assured me that he's "pretty sure it's not serious". (However, when I contemplate his particular definition of serious...that doesn't really make me feel any better.)

But, the good news is, no pox.


Monday, December 01, 2008

Just Call Me Cleopatra Everybody, Cause I'm the Queen of Denial*

Lana has small red spots all over her torso and her back and her neck. None of them have a blister over them.

It's not possible that she is coming down with chicken pox five days before every family we have descends upon us for my brother's wedding. Is it? IS IT???

She WAS vaccinated 15 months ago, and she doesn't have a fever. Or a headache...


*Pam Tillis, Queen of Denial

Free Hit Counter
Get a Free Hit Counter