I am an experienced Amazon shopper—like, if I tallied up the amount of orders I've placed since the mid-1990s I might have a sum that could have paid for one of the 1950s Chevy Apache trucks Matt longs to buy on the internet. (I do not recommend tallying one's lifetime Amazon purchases, especially if you are an experienced Amazon shopper). I do spread plenty of purchases around at brick and mortar stores, but I am an early adopter and big believer in the usually perfect shopping system that is Amazon Prime.
The past month, however, has been filled with Amazon Fails.
It all started (as so many good stories do) with the Ebay King, aka The Sunbeam of Knowledge, aka He Who Must Have the Right Tool for the Job.
Our ice cream scoop was shot—had been shot for more than a year, maybe even more than three. Once completely functional and serviceable, it had begun to store water underneath the rubber coating of the handle, which was suddenly all slippery-slidey. You might be scooping your ice cream when suddenly unidentified moisture might explode all over your hand, or even worse, your ice cream. So, Matt went to work to find the best ice cream scoop possible: The Zeroll (the 2.5 oz scoop one, as he estimated this was the best scoop size for our family). Incidentally, Martha Stewart came to this conclusion independently from Matt, as I recently spotted an article about the Zeroll in an old back issue of Everyday Food. Matt and Martha: more alike than different. Heh.
So we bought one. It wasn't really that expensive for being The Best Ice Cream Scoop Possible, and we loved it so much that I decided to get my sisters one as a very belated gift for their birthdays. For some reason Amazon did not allow me to choose gift options, but I ordered it anyway. It arrived quickly (yay Amazon Prime!) before I really had my act together to get a (belated) birthday card in the mail.
Katherine was understandably confused when The Best Ice Cream Scoop Possible showed up on her doorstep without explanation. She turned to the world's most useful private public investigator, Facebook, to solve the mystery. You can read about that here.
Fast forward a few weeks when Matt decided to replace our slippery-slidey gross-water-holding pizza cutter as well. It, too, was once completely functional and serviceable and then suddenly it was not, suffering the same disorder as the ice cream scoop. Research pointed to an inexpensive pizza cutting tool that resembles a handheld guillotine. He ordered it. I happened to be on the computer at the same time the confirmation email came in, so I noticed that somehow Marie's address had been saved as the default address and the handheld guillotine was headed to her instead of us—I can only assume because she was the last person that received an order through our account. I fixed the order and didn't give it any more thought. (The pizza cutter is great, by the way!) A narrowly averted Fail.
So this week... I had been putting a big Amazon order together that included some very random items:
+ three tins of Cafe du Monde chickory coffee + an egg cooker (don't judge, someone in this house dreams of perfectly cooked eggs) + an automatic ice cream maker (it's a very long story) + two books for Lily's (belated) birthday gift: The Island of the Aunts and The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom + an embarrassingly belated birthday gift for Charlie: When Dinosaurs Came With Everything
and most importantly
+ a multi-pack of Cinnamon ACT rinse, because it is as rare as gold and unicorn horns and can only be found as an add-on order at Amazon. Also, it is the Ebay King's favorite.
I waited impatiently all day for UPS to arrive (the UPS schedule here is crazy, because sometimes he comes at 11:15 am and sometimes at 2:20 pm and sometimes at 8:34 pm). I wanted to get the package ready to send to Lily, Charlie, and Jack in time for my Wednesday trip to the post office in Shreveport. I noticed while speed scanning Facebook today that Marie was wondering who had sent her a random package, but I didn't really think much of it—especially when Katherine later claimed responsibility, having sent Lily a leather journal for her (belated) birthday gift.
Here's the ridiculous part: if you've ever ordered a bunch of stuff all at once from Amazon, you know that they send it box by box vs. finding one big box to put it all in, though they don't always put separate invoices in each and every box. So Marie received random boxes all day. Not just any boxes, though, but boxes that seemed very much meant for her (or a member of her family). An egg cooker? Perfect for Charlie the egg salad sandwich lover. The Hero's Guide? Island of the Aunts, which says right on the back "perfect for Harry Potter fans!!"... yes please, said Lily. Dinosaurs? Also perfect for Charlie. Coffee? Marie loves coffee. A beautiful leather-bound journal in yet another temporarily unclaimed mystery box? Again, perfect for the budding artist in residence, aka Lillian Taylor. Ice cream maker? WHO DOESN'T WANT TO BE GIFTED A RANDOM AUTOMATIC ICE CREAM MAKER, no?
But Cinnamon ACT rinse/mouthwash?
Suddenly this anonymous benefactor was getting really weird. And creepy. And quite frankly, RUDE.
So when Marie mentioned later that one of the random mystery items was an ice cream maker, I
realized the disastrous Amazon Fail: all the stuff I ordered had been delivered to her house. AWESOME.
Once I realized what had happened, I called Marie where we cackle-stomped on the phone for a while, as our children eye-rolled at Crazy Aunt Marie and Crazy Mama (or Crazy Aunt Elizabeth and Crazy Mama, depending on the vantage point). I canNOT believe that this happened, and proceeded to angrily edit my Amazon address book and stupid One-Click settings while Marie cackle-stomped some more. (Never use One-Click Purchasing! Never! It messes up everything, even if you used it once and and never used it again!) My elaborate plans were quashed to put together a (belated) birthday box for my niece and nephews, and Marie has to drag the rest of our stuff to the post office tomorrow where they do not offer USPS Prime with free shipping guaranteed to arrive in two days.
She is, however, relieved that someone didn't really send her mouthwash as a gift.
There is a mysterious gate at Flag Lake that we've been wanting to open, so I stopped on Thursday to get the combination so we could go exploring this weekend. Turns out the gate combination changes every night at midnight, which the lady who gave me the combo neglected to explain, but some friendly security forces guys explained it to us and let us through yesterday. Doesn't that sound like the premise of a Stephen King novel? Eeek.
It was good to see pine trees. And other bits of nature we've been missing dreadfully. If you're so inclined, you can click on the collage to see more pictures over at Flickr, which I am trying to figure out after they went and changed it all.
School has been in session for one week today, which means one week of wearing uniforms for the Dillow girls. Despite a summer of looming dread about them (and a very unfortunate conversation at Maddie's school orientation that got us all riled up about the whole principle of uniforms in the first place) the first day of school went OK.
Note: I am not a believer in ironing children's clothes. There is A LOT of ironing involved in school uniform wearing, unless one stands at the door of the dryer ready to pounce on the contents within 4.2 seconds of drying completion, and even then it's not a guarantee that the items will be passable without ironing. And you might guess how good I am at pouncing on the contents of the dryer within 4.2 seconds. But I digress.
Maddie is not a believer in khaki pants (it is written in her DNA; she has inexplicably been this same way since she was 2, when she refused to wear her cute embroidered-on-the-knee khaki pants from Target) but is otherwise doing OK overall. I think it's because she's so tired from having to get up at 5:45 am—she has no energy to grumble about it too much. She'll wear the long shorts and capris, and is hoping to make it through the winter without needing to purchase a pair of long pants. We'll see.
Gracie, who I thought for sure would be the most affected by uniforms, is hanging in there, mostly. She struggles terribly with the tucked-in-shirt rule, and I've caught her messing with the seams of her socks a few times—a guaranteed warning sign for clothing/sensory stress for her—but we're trying to just ignore it and hope she'll manage it on her own without it becoming a big deal (best practice in her case). She is in her uniform clothes for less than three minutes after school.
Bee, in front of the Seabees building at Barksdale AFB, July 2013
And then we come to Angry Bee.
It has been building for this one, the more tired she gets (and getting up before 9:00 am makes this one very, very tired).
This morning I told her to get a move on, and get her uniform on before breakfast. She was not interested in wearing said uniform, but I reminded her it is not an option so cooperate. Or something to that effect. Five minutes later, she was not yet downstairs for breakfast. Three minutes after that, she was still not there. I went upstairs to monitor the uniform-putting-on and she was sitting on her bed, in her pajamas, arms crossed, frowning with such power that her face will surely be sore today.
If she had been a cartoon, she would have had steam coming out of her ears and maybe a cartoon ring through her nose, like an angry bull.
If she had been a Norman Rockwell painting, she would have been painfully adorable in the midst of her angry snit, forever recorded as the little girl fuming in her flowered pajamas.
But if she were a real girl, it would have been 7:10 and there would now be 20 minutes remaining to get dressed, eat, brush hair, brush teeth, put shoes on, and get out the door.
Bridget has such a long and storied history of being good-natured that it catches us off guard when she isn't. As in, we don't really have a game plan for what to do when she refuses to put on her school clothes. With Maddie, we can just tell her to get over it—and she'll either get over it, or she won't get over it but will still do whatever she needs to do anyway. With Gracie, we don't really have a game plan either, but at least we know by now how to steel ourselves for any number of a hundred adverse reactions to things (or sometimes, no adverse reaction at all. It's all a big mystery).
All this to say: it's all very character-building, this putting Dillows girls in uniforms business. Ironic, since the Dillow male in the house has been wearing uniforms without complaint since 1990 : )
And just like that, it was the last real day of summer, because school starts tomorrow. So early that Maddie and I are still in shock (she has to catch her bus at 6:30, and the other two at 7:30). But today: just right.
Ways to measure the heat without actually looking at the temperature:
1. It's so hot that a severe weather advisory was issued yesterday, and will last until tonight. I was trying to explain that the heat index is kind of the opposite of wind chill, but the girls were so hot they were unable to concentrate on the words coming out of my mouth, and were sort of staring off into space with dazed looks on their faces.
2. It's so hot that I was reminded today of the Ohio State vs. Oregon football game in 1987 when my mother spent about $350 on giant Sprites for the four of us to drink, one right after another (my dad was marching that day in the alumni band). If you know my mother, you know this was wildly out of character for her. Just as it is normally out of character for me to buy my children Icees/slushies while out in public. Which I have done 3-4 times in the last week or so.
3. It's so hot that the whole hot-hungry-tired Dillow meltdown formula is all messed up. Usually you have to meet all three conditions for a guaranteed meltdown. Now it's like a big crapshoot. Do you want to drag these children all over northwest Louisiana in a continued search for ruled index cards, manila paper, and belts? Because I might be done.
4. It's so hot that school starts next week, August 8. Before we moved, I joked about my personal theory that it must be so hot that everyone just gives up and goes back to school.
I know, I know, we need to buck up, buttercup. Except I think all the buttercups might be wilted, too.