Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Fall Vacation

Whew! Our homeschool co-op is over until after the New Year! I think it went well and it was worthwhile... but I'm glad to not have to think about it for awhile. I was looking back over our calendar for the fall and we have done a lot of stuff!

I have signed up to teach "Money Matters for Teens" and "On the Radio" classes for the winter trimester. Both of those sound fun to me... I hope it turns out that way.

We leave for our Thanksgiving/anniversary/birthday vacation in the morning. Way too much still to do... I'll finish up after the kids go to bed. It is way easier to "do it myself" than supervise the children who want to think up things to do to "help" rather than doing the things that would actually be helpful that I tell them to do... I think I spend more time "discussing" (arguing?) with them about what to pack and what not to pack, and chores that still need doing, than accomplishing anything.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Customer Service

I was really annoyed at the post office today. Took several packages in to be mailed. They all contained books, so I was shipping them Media Mail with the exception of 4 packages that were going overseas. I used the Global Priority Mail flat-rate envelopes for the international packages. First of all the clerk scolded me for not putting tape across the flap. They are self-stick envelopes provided by the post office. I didn't know they needed tape, too! The envelopes were flimsy cardboard, but the flat-rate was good for up to 4 pounds so you'd think they would be sturdy enough for shipping up to 4 pounds. Now, my packages weighed around a pound and a half and they were really bulging the envelopes. They fit just fine, it was the construction of the envelope that I was a little leery of. I commented to the clerk, "You'd think they'd make these envelopes a little stronger since the rate is good for up to 4 pounds." She snidely said, "Well! They're really meant for documents not parcels. You're using them for parcels." I was baffled. How are booklets different than documents? I said, "What documents weigh up to 4 pounds?" Okay, I know a document could easily weigh up to 4 pounds. But there is no way a 4-pound document would fit in that envelope! Then I just decided to keep my mouth shut. I wasn't going to change her mind... and even if I did, what could she do about it? (Perhaps be a little more understanding with the next customer?) She finished the international packages and moved on to my media mail packages. She had already asked me if there was anything flammable or hazardous or whatever else it is they have to ask. I had said, "No. There is nothing in these packages except books." So now she asked if I was sure there was nothing in the packages except books. I was trying to be patient. "Well... there are packing lists." Apparently that was acceptable. She processed the first package. As she was reaching for the second package she looked at me real suspiciously and said, "You don't have any advertising materials in these?" I had just about had it! Good grief! What did she want me to do? Bring my stuff in and pack the boxes in front of her? I doubt it! I just sighed and shook my head.

The other day I was in Costco. As I was checking out the person who was helping the cashier asked me if I would like a box. I never do, because Costco's boxes are either shallow or cut funny and then I just have to mess with getting rid of it. I'd rather just have my groceries loose. So I said, "No, thank you." I wrote my check and the cashier rang me up. I turned to my cart and there that person was diligently stuffing my groceries into a stupid box with the front cut out! Why did he ask me if I wanted a box if he was going to decide for me anyway? I just pushed the cart out the way of the next person, took the groceries back out of the box and took it back over to him. "I don't need this. Thanks!" Let them recycle it!

Another recent experience at the grocery store... As I got up to the cash register the cashier asked, "Did you find everything?" I said, "No, actually. I was looking for [don't remember what] but you don't have it." She said, "Oh." and proceeded to ring up my groceries. Why did she ask if she didn't care?

While I'm griping... I hate the new self-check lanes. I have tried them a few times and they are not faster than the real-life cashiers, and they are confusing! Okay, so I don't have to use 'em, right? Well, you'd think! But, no. I guess the store employees are really supposed to be pushing them. I've had them come up to me in line and say, "I can help you right over here..." and when I saw that it was actually the self-check lane I said, "No, thanks. I'll wait." The response was, "Are you sure? I'll be happy to show you how to do it..." I firmly said, "I've tried it before. Thanks anyway." Even worse than that is late at night or during another slow time when only the self-check lanes are open. When that happened I just decided I didn't need to shop at that store anymore.

I know... we're quickly moving into a cashless society... and I'm resisting it every chance I get! Seems like more and more places are really pushing you to use the "plastic". I hate it. But I was out of a cash the other night and made a quick stop at Burger King. I noticed a hand-printed sign saying they no longer took checks. Okay. So I'll use my debit card. They took my debit card but then asked to see my ID. My husband's name was on the debit card so they wouldn't take it. Said it didn't match my ID. I took my debit card and ID back and went to McDonald's!

Okay... off my soap box now. I could keep rambling, I'm sure... but I gotta get to church.

Monday, November 7, 2005

Homeschool Convention

Our local homeschool support group had a fall conference on Saturday. I had a booth for Sonlight. My husband and oldest daughter were gone for the weekend on a business trip to Arizona, so I had my younger daughter with me. She did better than I thought she might, but I'm glad I don't have that extra responsibility to have to worry about at larger events.

My favorite thing about going to so many homeschool conventions throughout the year is the networking! One family had a booth to sell harps that the dad makes. The harp they had there was made of cherry wood and absolutely gorgeous. The family has 8 children... 3 teenage girls (who all play the harp), 4 younger boys, and then a baby girl, age 1. Just the mom and the girls were there. The girls took turns playing the harp in between sessions and in their booth. That was just fascinating!

I was also able to visit with a mom about some vision therapy information I needed for my older daughter. It has been amazing to me to watch God open doors for the needs my children have in just the right time.

A Creative Memories lady I know (who, coincidently, also has 8 children!) also had a booth, but she has recently started doing photography, in addition to CM. She did her daughter's senior pictures recently when she found out how expensive they are through a studio, and they turned out so well that she decided to offer her services to others. She has entered photography in the fair in the past and won ribbons, so it's not like she just took it up on a lark. I was very impressed with her work and her prices, so I will definitely use her! I just haven't been impressed with Sears Portrait Studio in the last few years.

My big splurge of the weekend was 2 sets of Your Story Hour history CDs. My family loves audio books and dramatized radio programs.