Category Archives for "Holidays"

By request: The Infamous Chia Pet Incident

I’ve been asked to blog about the infamous Chia Pet incident that happened in our household a couple of years ago. For those of you who are familiar with this story, I apologize and will try not to be offended if you up and abandon me at this very moment. No promises, though.

For all you uninitiated folk … it’s about the fall of a good, kind hearted man who had the best of intentions and stars a tall, dark, handsome, thoughtful, loving, utterly clueless husband and father who shall remain nameless, except that I’ll call him Nate.

A couple of days before Christmas 2006, our youngest daughter, then six, happened to see a Chia Pet commercial on television. Because it did not resemble the 2,732 toys currently strewn about her room, she wanted one. And because it did not resemble a Polly Pocket, I considered it.

It’s not as if she longed for a Chia Pet. In fact, Helena would most likely have forgotten all about it by the next day, much like her promises to pick up her underwear and stop burping in public. But if we did get one, another ten dollars was not going to break our Christmas budget. A budget that was immortalized in all its glory by the very anal, bordering-on-obsessive-compulsive, brightly colored two page Excel spreadsheet I had created. That thing rocked.

As Nate was already going out, I mentioned that if he happened to run across a Chia Pet, to pick it up for Helena but no biggie if he didn’t. And because Nate is Nate, he heard me say DO WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO DO, SELL YOUR SOUL TO THE DEVIL IF NEED BE, BUT GET THIS POOR, DEPRIVED CHILD A CHIA PET, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. PICK UP SOME MILK WHILE YOU’RE AT IT.

A few days later, I remembered the Chia Pet and asked Nate whether he had found one so I could update my very anal, bordering-on-obsessive-compulsive, brightly colored two page Excel spreadsheet. And he said to me “Oh yeah, that. I ordered two but I don’t know if they’ll get here by Christmas.”

Ordered? Two?

Upon further questioning, I learned that Nate wanted no part of the bloody, gut wrenching, cutthroat slaughter that is holiday shopping so he decided to order it online. And he got one for Zoe as well.

I wasn’t surprised that Nate had bought them online because if it came right down to it and it was available on the Internet, Nate would buy the air we breathe online. Who cares that we live within a five mile vicinity of at least ten major retail chains that stock Chia Pets? Online shopping saves time and gas and there’s no hassle dealing with real live people. Online shopping is nirvana.

I also wasn’t surprised that he bought one for Zoe even though she is allergic to anything green or messy, because Nate is a very thoughtful father like that. He always thinks of both girls. Like when Helena was two and Zoe was eight and Nate bought them each a star for Christmas. An actual star in our solar system with coordinates and everything. But because it’s against postal regulations to ship nuclear energy encased in a fiery ball of gas across state lines, the star company sent the girls official certificates instead. They could read about the stars they owned. How the company became the presumptive owner of all the stars in our universe in the first place was a little baffling but who cares? IT’S A STAR. WITH COORDINATES AND EVERYTHING. The certificates even came framed. All for $90. Each. Zoe wasn’t sure what to do with a gift that lived a billion light years away but she was appreciative of her certificate. Helena clapped happily and drooled all over hers.

So I ask Nate what he paid for these Chia Pets that may not even arrive before Christmas. And he tells me $20. Each.

I try to curb the wave of panic that I can feel riding over me as I mentally try to reconcile this piece of information with my very anal, bordering-on-obsessive-compulsive, brightly colored two page Excel spreadsheet. In my head, I’m shuffling items from one column to another, changing colors and crossing certain items off the list entirely, such as Christmas dinner.

And then it hits me. I didn’t ask the key question. Can you guess what it was?

Wait for it … here it comes …



How much was shipping?

To his credit, Nate did not lose his composure, fall to the ground and beg for mercy as I would have done. He did not stutter, he did not stammer, he did not plead temporary insanity. He just stood there and said clear as a bell: $20. Each.

Are you with me so far? Because that is a grand total of EIGHTY DOLLARS. For two stinking Chia Pets that may or may not arrive in time for Christmas for two little girls, one of whom would almost certainly say “ewwww” upon opening it and the other, having completely forgotten about seeing it on television, would ask why Daddy was giving her grass.

My very anal, bordering-on-obsessive-compulsive, brightly colored two page Excel spreadsheet went up in flames and I turned to Nate, resisted the compulsion to throttle him on the spot and demanded to know what, in the name of all that is holy, possessed him to cross so far over into the realm of lunacy that I barely recognized him? Nate who?

And do you know what that man said to me?

“Don’t you think $80 is worth it if they enjoy it and it improves the quality of their lives?”

Nate, can I just confirm that we are talking about the same thing, specifically an inanimate object made out of terra cotta with foliage sprouting out of its freakish head? I just want to make sure we’re on the same page, because I’m feeling like you called in sick, packed your swim shorts and bought a one way ticket to the dimension known as I HAVE LOST MY MIND, THE WATER’S FINE, COME ON IN and I have no idea how to get there. But as my feet are firmly planted in the dimension known as REALITY, I feel compelled to tell you that I read What To Expect When You’re Expecting twice, Mr. Lunatic Fringe, and NOWHERE IS THERE A CHIA PET MENTIONED.

That eighty bucks grew exponentially as I did mental math and calculated in the cost of bail and the court-issued anger management therapy that I could guarantee was in my immediate future.

For those of you who have stayed with me until the bitter end … no, they didn’t arrive in time for Christmas.

Wii … the odyssey

We’re all familiar with this little gem, right? I give you the Wii, in all its glory:

Last November, my husband wasn’t a big fan. When I broached the subject of getting a Wii for the kids for Christmas by saying “hey, why don’t we get a Wii for the kids” my husband took that to mean “hey, why don’t we get a PlayStation 3 for the kids” because he’s quirky that way. When I responded that the kids didn’t want a PlayStation 3, they wanted a Wii, he tried to dazzle me with techno jargon about how superior the graphics were on a PlayStation 3 and how awesome they would look on our brand spanking new TV.

TV did you say? You mean that 42″ ultra modern, flat-screen behemoth of high-definition that dwarfs everything around it and currently resides in our living room with all of our normal sized furniture? That “bargain” of a monstrosity that was only going to cost this much but actually wound up costing that much because we couldn’t have a TV like that without having the proper stand on which to put it, the appropriate receiver with which to run it, the best speakers with which to hear it and the top-of-the-line remote with which to control it? The TV I didn’t want? That one?

We had a sit-down with the kids to discuss the Wii vs. PS3 scenario. Nate had our eldest almost convinced that PS3 was the second coming while our youngest was steadfast in her desire for a Wii but willing to negotiate in exchange for a later bedtime. I finally convinced the family that the Wii was the better choice as it retailed for about half of the PS3 and was better suited for family time. It was a struggle and there were tears and temper tantrums and hissy fits but Nate got over himself and finally conceded.

Nate thought he would just walk into Target or Best Buy and pick one up after work. I asked him if something heavy had hit him on the head and then dragged him to the aforementioned behemoth parked in our living room so that he could see the CNN sound bites showing mobs of people lining up for days to get one. It then became Nate’s personal mission in life to get us a Wii, come hell or high water, so help him God.

To his credit, Nate did try the conventional approach once. He woke up at 4:00 am, drove through the bitter cold, sleet and snow to stand in line at Kmart for a shipment of Wii Systems expected that morning (by the way, what exactly is the plural of Wii? WiiWiis?) After about an hour, a blithely unaware Kmart employee came out and announced to the 50+ cold, wet, hungry, caffeine-deprived customers that a newly arrived shipment of twenty-six Wii Systems would be available in minutes. I have no idea if that poor guy ever made it out alive. All I know is Nate came home around 6:00 a.m., empty handed and with a dazed expression, mumbling something about mob mentality, rioting and Darwin’s Law.

I told Nate about an online service that sent notifications of newly arrived Wii Systems at local Wal-Marts and wouldn’t it be a nifty idea if we signed up? No, apparently we did not have time for such nonsense and besides, Nate had a plan.

And that plan went something like this:

On November 21, 2007 Nate purchased a brand new, unopened, factory-sealed, receipt-attached Wii off eBay. He paid nearly double the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Approximately 9.2 seconds after submitting his PayPal payment, he became ticked that the seller didn’t immediately respond. Through gritted teeth, I suggested that he calm the hell down and give the seller a break since it was the night before Thanksgiving. Then I left the room before I killed him.

On November 22, 2007, after Thanksgiving dinner, Nate purchased a second brand new, unopened, factory-sealed, receipt-attached Wii off eBay for a little over double the MSRP as a backup plan. I should have known something was up as he had been staring at his laptop for hours, during which time I actually touched and held the TV remote, an act that normally causes him to twitch, break out in hives and have a seizure.

Did I mention that the receipts clearly showed that both Wii Systems had been purchased from a Wal-Mart? I didn’t? Well, they did. And it was all I could do to remain vertical as I literally watched sparks fly off my body and fought the urge to dismember him right there on the spot. Then I disassociated from my earthly body and went to the Land of Denial where it’s sunshine all the time and no one bothers me and I look thin and pretty.

A couple of days later, we were the proud owners of two brand new Wii Systems. And then Nate came home from work and what do you suppose he was carrying? Flowers? Chocolate? A prescription for Xanax? No. He was carrying a third brand new, unopened, factory-sealed, receipt-attached Wii.

When he saw that I was nanoseconds from outright spontaneous combustion, he quickly explained that he had purchased this Wii for only $30 over the MSRP, no eBay/PayPal transactions were involved, and he would list the other two Wii Systems on eBay that very night and recoup our money. I questioned him as to where he got this particular Wii. Oh, funny story this one … his co-worker bought it from Wal-Mart that very day. And how did he know to go to Wal-Mart that very day for a Wii? Nate muttered something about a lucky email. Oh yeah, that extra $30? That was just to compensate his co-worker for all of his efforts in procuring a Wii for Nate. I actually don’t remember too much after this. I might have passed out.

But I’m thinking that it just may have been worth it:

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