Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The beautiful thing called a postcard

Everyday we eagerly open our mailbox to find bills, junk mail, some political flyer and maybe the pick up slip for an online order placed a couple of days ago. Nothing exiting, or happy (unless it's the eagerly awaited package), but most likely painful if it's a bill you knew was coming, but were secretly hoping they'd forgot. So why do we open that box every day, can't wait to see if mail was delivered, ask our husbands 'any mail?', five days a week, 52 weeks a year?

It's our hope for old fashioned mail - notes from afar, postcards with beautiful pictures on them, adventures had by others, hugs and kisses sent across the pond. This hope is so big that we venture to the front door every day in hope for such an envelope or piece of paper and most days we are disappointed. Are we as happy when we receive an email? Read a facebook update or even a Twitter post? No, not really. I might giggle at a post, read an email update with interest if sent by a friend (but even those updates are not happening as often as we move to one liners), but I hardly linger at it long enough to enjoy it, I can't hold, can't see the stamp, can't look at it and see exactly when it was sent off and at which mailbox.

So, I am sure I am not the only one missing these cards, so why are they lacking, where have they gone? They have gone with time and the lack thereof. And I am a culprit myself - I send Christmas cards and the occasional birthday card, but that's it. I used to buy dozens of postcards when on vacation and sent them to all my friends and family. And I no longer do.

Well, today was an excellent mailbox day - I got a card! A beautiful card sent in an envelope all the way from Greece! Yayyyy, what a treat. My dear friend sent a personal note on some beautiful stock with a beautiful image and her unique hand writing. What a gift! Thank you!

Now, I'll have to take a note of this happy feeling and myself buy some cards when on my trip to the beach and send them to all my friends, in the hope of inducing a smile and a little jolt of happiness when opening your mailbox.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

When a money transfer gets personal...

So I am trying to pay for the rest of my vacation. Our nice rental house in Virginia Beach which will be visiting the last week of July. I paid my 50% deposit in January using Pay Pal, no problem. Sent US dollars to make it easier for the landlord and letting my credit card deal with the conversion rate. Everything great.

Now, I need to pay for the remaining 50% by tomorrow according to our lease agreement - no problem. I'll just log into my account and get those US dollars across the border. Stop! No go! What do you mean no go...my card information is up to date, I have the funds, what do you mean no go? So I call, I go through the voice activated operator - still find it odd to call out random words loud enough for the systems to work- and finally ask for an agent. Wow, I get to talk to a live person. All my issues will be solved by this live person and I will proceed to pay for my vacation, right? Wrong! Mam, you can't pay with US dollars, you have to send Canadian dollars. It's a security procedure.
How does that make the transfer more secure? Mam, it's just a security feature. But why? Mam, it's just a security feature (she might as well be the automated operator, because she can't give me a reason, but rather proceeds to repeating the same thing over and over again).

OK. This time it will work. I type in a weird Canadian Dollar amount that will convert to the amount I owe this person in US dollars. Let's click and we'll be done with this chore for the day. What! The same message, can't make the payment. I call again, get another live person. This gentleman tells me that I can't make a payment with my credit card for security reason. But your home page advertises that you can make payments with credit cards and debit cards! That's the whole point of this service, right? Now I'm getting angry...I'm telling the guy, I know this not your fault and you did not put this in place - but wtf am I supposed to do? Mam, you can set up Pay Pal with your bank account. I don't want to set it up with my bank account. I want to pay with my credit card, besides it will take up to six days to get funds into the account and I need to pay by tomorrow. Sorry Mam. So your are telling me that I can't use your service because there is some security feature that was implemented to make things safe? Yes Mam. So safe that I can't use your service at all? Yes Mam. Well that's just excellent business practice on your end isn't it?

So no Pay Pal for me - I'll just have to go to the bank, have a US dollar cheque issued and express mail it to the landlord and hope she'll be ok with receiving payment a couple of days late...back to old fashioned North American banking. Maybe I should just get the money in cash and send her a box of dollar bills, that should do it.

My irritated self will surely calm down at some point today and I will start looking forward again to my first vacation in a year! Now we'll just have the pressure of packing, driving 12 hours, hoping for great weather and well-behaved kids - but that should be peanuts compared to trying to pay for this vacation.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

summer going once, going twice, gone...

It seems like we are racing through summer. I posted almost three weeks ago and here we are, fathers day already! Seems like time is just flying, another 2 weeks until Maelle turns 3, another 3 weeks until we go to our fancy pants hotel in Montreal (with the kids, so fun, but not a holiday) and just 5 weeks until our big trip to Virginia Beach.

My expectations are high for that one, location wise, weather wise, help from grand parents and parent wise, expectation to go out for an anniversary dinner, well behaved kids on the long drive down, fun time in Philly...mhhh, I'm bound to be disappointed at some level, aren't I?

Well, all we can hope for is the best...there's going to be a lot of firsts...long drive for both kids, kids sleeping in one room, rental house instead of hotel...I can't wait.

I need a break from Ottawa. Bruno and I were talking last week and realized that the last time I left this city was August of last year to visit Shediac! Almost a year without going anywhere???? wow, what a change to let's say 2006...that photo album is just jammed with pictures from all the trips we took. Bruno had a great trip in January to Shediac...ha,ha, Shediac in winter, what a treat :)

Another big step on our everlasting (now 7 month) house renovation project. We got the tile! Can you believe we actually liked the cheapest one the best? We bought the cheapest one, even though I had some nice more expensive samples and was willing to up the price a little...but hey, I like this one, it's durable, it looks a little retro...it's going to be perfect for all the sand and salt dirt that will be dragged in...almost lost my car with the weight of driving it home...but my little Echo managed to huff and puff home, still going strong at 6 years old.

Little ones are doing well, no naps for Maelle all weekend, but she's doing well...little guy is getting more independent, less whiney...soooooo much more pleasant. Hey, and the highlight of the week? Movie night with my hubby yesterday, yayyy! It was fun! Loved it and Megan will be hired as our favourite babysitter many a times more.

So here we go, a little taste of summer, the heat is here, little rainstorms, peppers and tomatoes growing strong in our garden, flowers taking over...Life is good!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Is a day off in the middle of the week a good idea?

Yesterday, Wednesday, I took a day off. An official holiday with no kids and no husband. Just me and me alone. That's all I need, right? To relax, do things I like to do, re-charge, etc. So how did it go?
I'm not really sure - I'm a little puzzled. It was great having time for myself, but did I achieve what I wanted to? Full relaxation and batteries re-charged ready to get going again? Not really. You see, by the time everyone left the house it was after 9 am, then I head out to the garden to finish a flowerbed (is that really something I want to do, or is it something I do so I have a nicer yard to look at?), but I don't really manage to finish that because my neighbours our out and I have to talk to them. So, 30 minutes of digging and weed pulling don't give me full results, but it's definitely better than what it was...so small success.
Now, shower and off to the hairdresser. Is two hours and many $ later time well spent? Yes and no - totally could have done better stuff with that money or the time, but nice to go to the hairdresser and not feel rushed, and everyone said my hair looked pretty...so, all in all success. Some shopping without much success. I mean how many bad fitting pants can I put myself through without getting depressed and why are all the shoes I like 5 inches high and totally not practical?
So, back home I go. No traffic jam today...Yayyyyyy! But it's 3 o'clock already - where is ME_Day disappearing to...my family will be back in 1.5 hours! I am not fully relaxed or recharged...but it was still nice to have a little quiet time to myself.
Maybe I need to start a monthly ME_Day and learn to get more out of it...