Category Archives: bitching and moaning

This Electronic Life

Have you ever called a company and been frustrated by the phone menu? Ever tried to login and forgotten the answers to your security questions? Ever wondered if we might not be better off having personal relationships with the people we do business with?

Square the phone menu, add in a quadrupled set of websites, all with their own login, password, security questions, and blasted captchas.

And what do you get?

A REALLY LONG TIME on the phone, navigating the very complex phone menu, entering digits and passwords and account numbers, waiting on hold, finally reaching a person, and then confirming all of the same digits and account numbers, and then ending up with answers like: “Your husband will have to call us or write to us to grant permission for us to discuss your account.”

I admit I find this whole thing exasperating. I don’t see it as an opportunity, but maybe it is. An opportunity to write down every last detail there is for every account we have ever had?

The irony here is that my very capable husband has NO interest in talking with the XXXX Insurance Company about this claim or that coverage, and is so very happy that I am able to and interested in handling these details.

As much as I try to simplify things, the sheer vastness of the internet just makes it very challenging to stay on top of the details. I always thought of myself as a detail-oriented person, but the volume of details has increased to the extent that I dread trying to call someone, especially the insurance companies, to solve a problem or get information.

And then there are the places that require authorization EVERY SINGLE TIME from my dear husband. Not that he is working or otherwise busy or anything. Aargh. I love how they ask if he is right here with me so they can get approval from him. Ha.

Do you have any tips for how to simplify things? Because I’m all ears, here.

High School Drivers – Not Good for What Ails Ya

So I had reason to be over near the high svhool yesterday when school let out. In the space of less than five minutes and in less than one mile I saw the following:

A teen driver run a stop sign.
The same teen give someone “the finger.”
Another teen driver abruptly turn into a driveway.
That same teen driver back out of the driveway into traffic quite suddenly.
And, last but not least, there was the teenage driver whose car was plowed into the back of the SUV in front of her.

This is not to say that all teen drivers are poor drivers, because I know of at least ONE who is a very careful driver. But, my goodness, that was a little disconcerting to have so many evidences of recklessness in such a short time. Maybe they were all mad about what was served in the cafeteria that day. All I know is, I hope I don’t have to do much driving on that stretch of road any time soon when school is letting out.

Oh Good Grief

In my decluttering attempts, I got rid of a really big desk and took a bunch of stuff to the basement. It appears that I may have alertly taken my last two packs of checks down there and they are somewhere. I discovered today that I don’t know where they are. This is bad.

Well, since I couldn’t remember whether I even had any more checks, I couldn’t remember the next number I was supposed to order. So, first I tried to order from the bank website, which is where I normally order. But I ran into snag after snag, mostly because I didn’t know that number. Next, I tried VistaPrint (Home of the Free Stuff!). I slogged through the process of entering all the data, waiting forever for everything to load, etc., and finally got to the part where I was supposed to get my free checks. They rightly figured that once you have gone through the extremely lengthy process to order your free 25 checks, you might figure it would be worth it to go ahead and get 150 for only $9.99. OK, sure, go ahead. The next screen asks me if I want duplicate checks for another $1.50. OF COURSE I want duplicate checks. Then we have to choose the shipping method — one of the choices was called VERY SLOW. Finally, I think we are about ready to check out.

BUT NO. Now I have the opportunity to go ahead and order business cards and notepads on this screen. And now a nice magnetized box for my post-its or some labels on this screen. After two or three MORE screens, I got the one that said I had earned a free magazine subscription, and I couldn’t find anywhere that I could say I didn’t want the magazine. How much time have I spent on this by now?

Finally, I said. FORGET IT!!!!

Got back on the bank website, called the bank to find out what is the stupid check number I need. Bank can’t tell me but transferred me to the check company who can. But the check company has to make sure it is really me going through this ordeal, so I have to verify everything under the sun. Getting the mysterious number from the check company is what told me I have some checks around here somewhere.

Back to the check company website to place the order. Finally, finally, finally, it is in process.

People out there probably like Vista Print, but I found the interminable upselling to be maddening. And I was reminded, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch!

On the Road

Seeing as how I am a true STAY-AT-HOME kind of mom, traveling is a little stressful on mine own self. Even if the trip is fun and the stay is super duper, I always miss my bed, my kitchen, the feel of my carpet under my feet, my cluttery messes, etc.

And it is always kind of tricky to help Kepler assimilate to a new place, especially one where there are two puppies running around and trying to love him to death. He is not impressed, but is getting somewhat oriented towards the dogs.

So, I am writing from Des Moines, Iowa, where we are staying for another three days before making the big drive home on Friday.

I will try to write a few posts, but I can’t promise they will be witty or wise. Maybe wistful. Maybe wandering.

Thanks for listening.

I’m on the Yearbook Committee.

Oh, wait. I AM the yearbook committee. See, last summer, I had this great idea that we should do a yearbook for the homeschool group we are a part of. My daughter and I were going to head it up and make it happen. Never mind that I already had a full, yea verily, overflowing plate. It was a new idea and I am always quite enthusiastic about new ideas! Yes! I can do it! It will fit in! Somehow!

So, we started sending out emails to students saying things like, “Join the yearbook committee! Students needed to do photography, layout, [and other really cool things].” Soon we had a LIST of people! People who said Yes! I can do it! I am interested! Week after week went by and we didn’t get ANYwhere. Mostly, I suppose, I don’t really know how to let it be up to the students.

Later in the year, when we hadn’t gotten beyond sporadic emails, I finally admitted I couldn’t make it happen. I gave the whole kit and caboodle to another student who really wanted to have a yearbook for her senior year. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to make it happen either.

Did I just say ok well we won’t have a yearbook, just like every other year, and that will be ok. ?? Did I? No, I did not. I said, ok I can do it. But there weren’t exclamation marks anymore, just lower case letter and very slow typing. yes. i can do it. i think.

So, today I am going to make this yearbook. {grits teeth} I am going to get this thing done. {grinds teeth and grimaces}.

My FINE husband yesterday reminded me that this is a good thing I am doing and that the kids will have this yearbook for years. So, I really did change my attitude. All the gritting and grimacing is just for effect for my readers. Oh, how I long for Microsoft Publisher, no doubt a totally outdated program, but boy could I use it. Right now I am trying to use Adobe CS InDesign. It doesn’t work the way my brain works. So, I’m going to give it one more chance to shape up. If it doesn’t come around, me and MS Word are going to finish the job.

Oh, by the way. Will you sign my yearbook? Or at least my yearbook post?


No, I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, thank you. But enough that I had a dream that left me pretty angry. And I’ve got this list of “plagues and nuisances” (thank you EJ for that fine list title) that are plaguing me and annoying me greatly.

1. I have alertly trained The Little Guy to go to sleep in my arms, drinking water from a baby bottle. He’s like 27 months old, so the baby bottle thing can’t last forever. I actually like that he takes the bottle to go to sleep because I have this fear that he isn’t going to get enough to drink otherwise since he’s not big into cups. But I think I’ve really put myself in a pickle. He can also go to sleep riding in a car, and very occasionally, lying on the floor. He can even fall asleep for his nap while watching a Veggie Tales video. For the present and immediate future and distant past, we have climbed into bed together in the evening and I have perched the bottle across my chest, while he has snuggled and happily gone to sleep. But, I don’t really want to go to bed with my baby every single night. Some say this won’t last forever and he’s only little for awhile. But since he has DS, I wonder how I am going to get him to give this up, now that I have so firmly entrenched it in his understanding of what it means to go to sleep.

2. I lost some weight last summer, using my tried-and-true low-carb eating method. But, as the other times I have used this method, after awhile, I think I am going to literally starve if I don’t get more food. Sadly, I gained all the weight back over the course of the fall and now I am SO uncomfortable. It’s mainly that I’ve gained a lot of weight in my stomach (ba-a-a-a-d place to gain weight), and I find that very uncomfortable. But at this point, do I do low-carb again? Do I modify it to stave off the feeling I eventually have of starving? And how do I fit exercise into my life? A few times up and down the stairs isn’t going to cut it!

See, I told you I was grumbling.

Fussing About Education for THIS Year

Having to post a bit of a rant here. I’m sure I’ve mentioned the AMP (Absent-Minded Professor) here? My 13-year-old son? He has one class, Composition, that he doesn’t really enjoy much. That mystifies me because he truly loves to write. I have TWO kids in this program, and between them they have NINE teachers. THREE of the teachers changed partway through the year. TWO of the teachers are shared by both kids. ONE teacher is shared during the same hour. ONE teacher is shared but on a different day. Got all that? Every teacher has their own method of communicating. Some email the parents AND the students. Some email the parents only. There is no standard method of communication. So, I have NINE teachers to keep track of. Here’s the problem. More than ONE of the AMP’s teachers tells him different things at different times. The AMP does not take notes and never has any written documentation to take back to the teacher to say hey here’s what you said last time.

VickiVonVicki overheard AMP’s composition teacher talking the other day about how AMP isn’t going to make it next year if he doesn’t start engaging with what he’s doing. And AMP’s history teacher told me the other day that AMP is drifting off to sleep during class. AMP says he only looks like he is sleeping but he is actually taking notes, which he showed me today.

My irritation relates to two things: 1. changing assignments, and 2. issues staying unresolved so long that “proof” papers have been discarded or lost.

AMP had a quarterly reading project due at the end of third quarter. The syllabus was unclear and I made him do it the first week of third quarter. At that time, he had a long list of possibilities for the assignment. He did one of the possibilities: “Write a two-page summary of the book.” He turned it in. The teacher gave it back and said it wasn’t due but he could turn it in later. Which he did. Here are the comments on the paper: “AMP, This is a summary of the book, which I don’t need. The assignment was to give me a paper on the themes of the book or the way the character grows throughout the book, in 3-5 pages. I need a new draft, edited and with the changes. It is due in 2 weeks.” On the syllabus, however, here is the assignment: “Write either a prologue, afterward, or alternate ending.” The original full-page list of possibilities, handed out in late December, has been lost or possibly thrown away.

I find sorting all of this out very very confusing and frustrating. The kid did the assignment ages ago; we no longer have the library book obviously; and I think the two weeks is coming up right pronto, but there are no dates to look at.

I like this teacher, but what I’m making up about his attitude toward AMP is that he thinks AMP is a slacker, and should know how to do these things right the first time. His notes often say things like “We went over this in class.” “I already told you this.”

On his last grade report, he says he did not receive a bibliography assignment, and consequently the AMP only received a C+ in the class. He suggested that if AMP could show him the graded bibliography, the grade could be brought up from a zero to whatever he received on the assignment.

AMP is severely challenged to get THIS week’s assignment turned in THIS week. To ask him to come up with something he did or may have done 6 weeks ago is out of the question. This grade does not reflect the abilities or efforts of this child.

And that is my biggest frustration with this program that AMP and VVV have been in this year.