Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why Going "Crazy" Is One of the Best Things Dad Ever Did



When I was a kid and I realized Dad was on his way out the door on his day off, I would ask him where he was going.  His answer, without fail, was, "Going Crazy."

This, of course, was alarming and confusing to my young self.  What could that possibly mean?! He looked perfectly OK.  He was acting perfectly OK -- aside from the mysterious air about him and a half grin that graced his face.

I soon learned that Dad was on his way out to do his own thing and basically have time to himself -- probably because if he didn't he would literally go crazy. Or he was going crazy cooped up in the house, so he needed to get out.  I couldn't possibly understand what (or who) he could be getting away from, but who understands why parents do the things they do anyway?  Not my little eight year old self.

This routine happened weekly.  I could never figure out what was involved with "goin' crazy."  But I know I wanted to go.  I would often ask if I could go.  Usually the answer was, "Not this time."

One day though, much to my amazement and delight, Dad told me to put on my shoes and coat because I was getting to go with him.  I was gonna get to "go crazy" with Dad?!   Didn't have to ask me twice!  I couldn't wait to see what in the world he did when he went "crazy."

He took me to breakfast.  We swung by a second hand shop to check out what was new.  Probably got gas and stopped at the store to pick up dinner fixin's too.

At first, while I loved going out to eat, I was disappointed.  THIS was what he did when he went crazy?  I mean, THAT was it?  That was all he did?!

No sliding boards?  No movie and a popcorn?  No secret agent-like activities requiring binoculars, duct tape or twist ties?!

Um. Evidently, I was under the impression that my dad was McGyver.

After a few times of "goin' crazy," I realized that it wasn't what we did together, but that we were together that mattered.  We talked a lot -- Okay, okay I talked a lot -- in between licking donut icing off of our fingers.  Sometimes we did crossword puzzles while eating bagels and sipping hot chocolate or coffee.  We often found deals at the second hand shop too.

It was during those times together that I learned so much about life's details like when it's OK to turn right on red, why our blood looks blue under our skin, and that dad likes his eggs over medium and his coffee "sweet and blonde."

It was also when I learned about big things like the fact that love isn't the squishy somersaults that your stomach attempts when a cute boy suddenly notices you exist.  It's where I first learned about commitments and keeping vows.

Dad sacrificed his time to spend time with me. It was an amazing way to show me love.  And I cherish each of those times.

When I the kids and I visit my parents, and we see him putting on his coat, he is invariably asked, "Where ya goin', Poppy?"  His answer is always, "Goin' Crazy."

And sometimes he even takes one of us with him.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why I No Longer Hate Snow Days


With the weather doing it's global warming thing and schools all across the US closing this week, it
occurred to me today how different snow days are for me now.

I used to hate snow days.  It meant that the kids stayed home and I had to rearrange MY schedule for the day in order to accommodate them.  I secretly loathed the moms that touted, "Yay!  Snow day!  A day with the kids!"  I mean, what were they smokin'?  Make sure whatever it is stays far away from me!

That is such a lousy, lousy attitude, I know.  It revealed that I was all about me and how I didn't
want to shove the things I wanted to do over to the back burner while I entertained kids all day.  I used the excuse of scaling mountains of laundry, grocery shopping, and meals to plan.

Yada, yada, yada . . .

What was really, I mean REALLY, going on was I wanted to do my own thing -- I called it a "break."  I am not talking about those times when you NEED a break -- a legit break.  We all have them and need to take them from time to time just to keep sane.  But I am talking about being torqued bc I wasn't interested in spending the entire day and then the entire evening with my kids.

They are a lot of work!  And it made me tired!

And they bickered constantly!  And it made me tired!

And wanted things like, well, lunch!  And then dinner just a couple hours after that! (Tiring!)

And to watch tv!  And to play games!  Make blanket tunnels, shaving cream hills and snot bubbles!

And they wanted snacks!  And drinks! Ugh . . . Calgonnnnnnn!

::deep mental breath::

Now things are different.  Oh, they still clamour for lunch, snacks, drinks and to be entertained (to a certain extent).  But it's my attitude that has changed.  My focus.

::blink-blink::

When Whirling Dervish, my youngest, started school full-time I realized that I only had about five hours each day with my kids: The frenzied hour before school and the frantic gotta-get-homework/showers/dinner-done-before-bedtime hours after school.  At first I couldn't decide what I was going to do with all that wonderful " me time" I was going to have while the kids were gone.

Yahooooo!

I quickly realized that not only did I only have five hours with my kids, but their teacher had about seven or eight hours with them.

Ugh . . . Whaaaaa?!

Now, my kids had good teachers, but I was shocked.  I was jealous.  I felt anger clawing up from an unexpected pit in my stomach.  It also dawned on me that just about anything could happen to them during the school day and I may or may not find out about it.

Ooooo, boy!  THAT terrified me.  The fact that we moved quite a bit made it hard for us to develop good relationships with the school personnel.  The kids couldn't really develop good friendships that might foster a kind of a safeguard against bullies -- or worse.  With each move it was even more possible that my kids would come across more opportunities for things to go very, very wrong.

This was a big factor in my decision to homeschool.

With that in mind, and a few other reasons, I decided that if I were to homeschool, then I would have to have a MAJOR attitude adjustment.  My focus, Biblically, should be my kids anyway. Here I was going the opposite direction!

I am not saying that adjusting my attitude was easy-peasy.  But with a lot of prayer and support from family, I was able to make the leap.  The leap turned out to be more of a hop, really.

Now, I barely notice when schools are closed unless it's plastered across FaceBook by my non-homeschooling friends.  We just do our usual thing with a healthy dose of sledding, of course.  I get to spend loads and loads of time with my kids -- not all of it is wine and roses.  In fact, some days are filled with whine and "He pulled my hair!"

Do I hold a full time job outside our home?  Have I written that novel?  Ever completely empty the hamper, if for only an evening?  Nope.

Do I care?  Nope.

What I do get are the light bulb moments when The Affectionate One finally remembers 7 X 7, the afternoon cuddles during "God of Wonders" from Netflix, photo ops of hot chocolate mustaches, creating Lego dinosaurs and WWII tanks that go along with our history lessons, and sharing in a ministry with my kids for our church.

These are the things that our new "Snow Days" contain.  I wouldn't give a single moment of it up for The Great American Novel.

Not even close.

And it is so very, very joyful.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hey, dear reader!




I wanted to let you know that you can also find a little more about me on my "journey into healthy living" blog called jubilee's journey.  Hope you will click over and comment.

counting it all joy,

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My eHarmony and PayPal Nightmare -- Update



Thought I would give you an update on my eHarmony and PayPal nightmare  (Missed it the first time?  No worries:  get the scoop by clicking here).

eHarm (emphasis on harm)

eHarmony (hereafter to be known as, "eHarm") never did respond to my email inquiry.  Those 10 days they had to respond are long gone.  I was not even given the courtesy of a form letter denial.

They.Are.Dead.To.Me.

Oh, they still expect to be paid.  I will probably be hounded by creditors before long.  Who knows what it will do to my credit rating.  But since I pay cash for everything, I am not one bit worried about a credit rating.

PayPal did, indeed, try a second time to pay eHarm through my bank account.  Thankfully, my bank did as instructed and stopped payment, so I was not charged.  ::sigh::  I love hometown banks!  PayPal sent me a form letter telling me that a second denial resulted in PayPal paying eHarm with the balance I had in my PayPal account.

Thankfully, that account was $0, so no payment was made.  I have no idea what happens should I ever accrue a PayPal balance.  PayPal did come through with their promise of a $25 "bonus" for my troubles.  Bonus?  Yeah, okay, we'll use their terminology.

It has been much harder to give up on PayPal.  I have not made any purchases through them since "the incident," but shopping online has been greatly hampered by not using PayPal.  I am still of two minds about ever using them again, knowing their "hands off" policy and disinterest in educating their workers on how PayPal actually works.

How do I find the joy in this situation?  Hmmm . . . joy . . . I cannot find joy in this situation unless it is to say that at least eHarm is a service I can do without.  And I do have a blog with a few readers left with which to share my experience and warn the unsuspecting.

Counting it all joy,

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Buyer Beware: My eHarmony and PayPal Nightmare

Okay, dear reader, I am swallowing my pride in telling about this experience because my outrage and frustration outweigh my chagrin.

The short version: eHarmony is unethical in their practices. PayPal is of little to no help when an injustice has occurred. I have no plans to ever use them, nor allow them to do me such a disservice again.

The Jubilee version: I thought that now that I have been single for awhile and the stigma of online dating has lessened greatly, I would try it out. What could be the harm? Might even be fun. Meet some people, dip my feet into the dating pool again and see what happens.

The eHarmony website is polished and classy. I felt good about my decision to join. After all, they are purported to be the leading online site for marriages.  Makes sense to use this site since I am interested in marriage, not a hook up. We all have heard about THOSE sites. eHarmony does not seem to be one of those kinds of sites -- from my experience.

There is a series of questions that helps analyze your personality type. It didn't take long and I was impressed with the results. I even learned a couple of things about myself that I hadn't realized before.  A subscriber can put in preferences about distance (60 mile radius? 300 mile radius? Anywhere?), lifestyle choices (like drinking and smoking), and religion, to name a few.

I was surprised with the bevy of match results. I sure had fun those first couple of nights looking through matches and dreaming about the possibilities.  Handpicked, just for me.  Okay, okay, an algorithm does it, but it's close enough.

Everyday there were new matches to explore.  What's not to love, right?

Except, I started noticing that some of those matches were not close to being matches at all. Either eHarmony wasn't as good at matching as they claimed, or other subscribers were putting in different criteria when they filled out their profiles than from the questions they answered for eHarmony to use in order to connect matches. I chalked it up to the former.

Then, it came time to renew my subscription. I decided to decline. I just wasn't as ready to date as I thought.

Unfortunately, I was unknowingly caught in an automatic renewal process. I called eHarmony, found out the situation and had that feature turned off.  I did not protest too loudly in regard to that particular automatic withdraw payment because, eHarmony (and most other match services, I have learned) has a zero refund policy. They send you a tidy little email saying that you may dispute, but they are quite clear in the same email that the chances of hell freezing over are better than a subscriber getting any type of refund for any reason.  Uh, I may have paraphrased there, just so you know.

Ah . . . The light bulb went off! THIS is how they make their money. Silly, naive me.  Deep breaths . . . lesson learned.

I continued on their site despite my frustration because, after all, they got my money. A couple months later, I was curious about when my subscription ended. I clicked on a link that claimed it would take me to my accounts page. I was taken to that page, but never suspected that clicking that link would also grant eHarmony permission to automatically renew my subscription.

Without notification of any kind. Without confirmation of any kind. Without showing on my accounts page that a transaction had even occurred. I did see that coincidence upon coincidence, that particular day was the last day of my subscription. No big deal. I didn't intend to renew anyway.

Fast Forward to the next morning. I was checking my bank account and saw that PayPal (my chosen method of online payment in the past) had sent a request for payment for eHarmony. I called PayPal to get it stopped because it was unauthorized, at least as far as I knew and was concerned. I was told that their system was automated and they could not stop payment "once it was in their system."

I called eHarmony and was told by an agent that by clicking on that particular link  (which initially showed my options for renewal, none of which I selected -- and none of which were the same as the dollar amount I was being charged), I was in fact giving eHarmony permission to set up automatic payments. When I protested, but calmly explained what happened (and that no transaction appeared on my accounts page), the agent shut me down and told me that #1. eHarmony has a zero refund policy and I should look it up in their policy practices; #2. I could take it up with the resolution department via email and she would send me the link to my email address. She did agree, however, to turn off the auto renewal feature, but only after I insisted.

I told her that the policy practices I agreed to, never stated that just by clicking through to my accounts page, I would be granting automatic renewal permission.  She told me that the policy practices had been changed with the last website update and the mere act of using their website, was acquiescence to abide by their new policy changes.

Uh, what?!  Hold the phone!  Seriously?!

I sent in a complaint letter explaining the situation, in detail.  I was told I would get a response within 7-10 business days. I guess they have a lot of complaints to wade through and deny before getting to mine in the pile.  I have yet to hear from eHarmony.  I am not expecting to. I am, however, reasonably sure that they still expect to be paid and will make sure my credit score reflects that.

I called PayPal back, explaining that it was an unauthorized transaction and two separate agents told me that they could, indeed, cancel the payment. The second agent told me she was cancelling it as we were speaking.  Not only was she cancelling that payment, but did she have my permission to "cancel all future requests for payments from eHarmony?"  I gave her a resounding, "yes."

The payment was sent to my bank any way. A third call to PayPal ensued.  I was told that payments cannot, under any circumstances, be cancelled. They can cancel future payments for any company I chose, but once a transaction has been requested and put into their system, it cannot be cancelled.

Oh, man.

Guess what?   PayPal requests payment from the bank a second time if it is denied the first time. I put a stop payment through the bank for the second request. Unfortunately, I was not in time to stop payment on the first request and my account became overdrawn, even though the payment was eventually denied by my bank. But not before racking up NSF charges, of course.

Because I was misinformed by PayPal agents, I was given a $25 credit by PayPal. They told me that they have several branches (one in the Philipines and one in Costa Rico) and not everyone is properly educated as to the PayPal practices and the particulars of how the payment system works. This did little to restore my confidence in PayPal.

I wish I had a good ending to this story.  I do not.  In fact, I see the second payment request from PayPal has been issued to my bank and payment is pending.  Although I was charged by my bank for a stop payment, no stop payment has been enforced as of yet.

The nightmare continues.  Even the sites that claim to want to "help you to find happiness" are just out to grab as much money from you as they can -- and possibly make you miserable in the process.

Objective accomplished.

The only joy I can find in this situation is that I am better educated. Unfortunately, it comes at the steep cost of becoming less trusting and more jaded.

Verse of the Day