Saturday, July 25, 2015

Review: "It Works!" Wrap (aka "That Crazy Wrap Thing")

As my cousin said, "Wrap yourself in thirty $1 bills and
you'll get the same results."
I thought long and hard about writing this review, because it seems like every other person I know online sells them and I'm bound to offend at least a fair percentage of them. I've never shied away from truth for my readers before, though, so here goes nothin'.

Several months ago, I was given a free wrap in exchange for hosting an online informational session. I was dubious, but treated it like a science project. I had seen vast quantities of "before and after" photos that seemed to show drastic differences, so I figured it was worth a shot.

Upon getting my wrap, I read all instructions carefully and got to work. I tried it on my chin area, because it was as good a place as any and the distributor said it would work as well there as any other place. I was asked to check in regularly with her to update her on my progress. Suffice it to say, after the first message to say that I did it, I didn't initiate contact with her again, because "progress" was not something I was noticing.

Snotty ecard made by wrap-pushers
who don't quite get science yet.
Truth be told, because I had no expectations, I had no feelings about it not working. She, however, was miffed and got quite pushy. Clearly, it was user error. Well, let me back up a bit. In reading the instructions, I noticed that it included copious amounts of notes on diet and lifestyle changes. I didn't do those. If you're running a science experiment, you can't change several of the variables at once to determine which created the change, you have to change one at a time. If I start drinking vast quantities of water, cut down on caloric intake, and increase exercise, I'm sure to see results, but I'm not sure (in fact, I am sure, but I'm throwing them a bone here) whether it was the wrap or the other modifications to my life. So, I did the wrap and only the wrap. Science works. The wrap doesn't.

If the only way this sucker creates weight loss and body reshaping is by following its instruction to change ones diet and movement, I'm going to go out on a limb and say you're wasting your money. Save your cash on the wrap (and myriad other gimmicky pills and supplements they also try to push), get a good reusable water bottle, sports bra, and pair of tennies and skip the wrap. Or be happy with your body as it is. Whatever you want, as long as it is what you want, not what someone else wants based on their beauty standards.



Monday, July 20, 2015

A Lesson in Customer Service for Marcy's Diner

I'm going to approach this whole Marcy's Diner ridiculousness from another angle. Sure, there's the whole childism aspect, but those in Zen Parenting-esque circles have done this to death. Besides that, we're preaching to the choir. None of her throngs of supporters give a gnat's eyelash about kids, as demonstrated by their myriad brilliant comments and I'm too tired of asinine people to worry about trying to educate them. So, let's chat about customer service instead.

Among other things, I have a strong background in customer service and public relations. I have worked in those areas and been educated in them for years. I can speak with 100% confidence when I say that the owner of this family eatery did everything WRONG when it comes to customer service and public relations. Everything. E V E R Y T H I N G.

Good customer service is scarce enough these days. That as many people are supporting her as is the case, supporting that piss-poor customer service blows me away. And yet... I mean, folks, don't wonder why you get such awful customer service yourself when you support it for others. Don't once complain about a bad experience at a store, on the phone, or in a restaurant again, because you're all out there supporting that same crappy service for other people.

You know what, don't take my word for it. Let's look at some (more) pro words of wisdom.

Allbusiness.com says that there are 10 rules for stellar customer service:

1) Commit to quality service. Nope. Per her own words, she snaps at kids who displease her with their kidness and has no problem with screaming at them. This is not a first. She's committed to something, but not quality service. Or, perhaps that shows a need to be committed......

2) Know your products. In this case, her product is food. If she can't handle a short stack of pancakes, it's pretty clear she doesn't know anything about her product or business.

3) Know your customers. If you'd like an adult only establishment, perhaps go into a more fine dining business. If you're a down-and-dirty, cash only, family diner, you're going to get kids. If you want to know about kids, you might wish to take a couple classes on child development. Then take a class or twelve on customer service itself, because customers like being treated nicely. Weird, huh?

4) Treat people with courtesy. She doesn't even think she's done this. I mean, do I really need to break this one down for anyone?

5) Never argue with a customer. Ummmmm.......

6) Don't leave the customers in limbo. Again, if you can't handle a short stack, maybe it's time to hire some help or, if that's no possible, at least communicate with the customer so they know what kind of wait they're in for.

7) Always provide what you promise. Pancakes. Pancakes in a timely manner. If someone asked for this at Fry's Electronics, that would be silly, of course, but I don't think it's out of bounds to expect a few of them on a Saturday morning at your local diner.

8) Assume customers tell the truth. I'm directing this to loyal Marcy's supporters. There's not a big reason for the parents to lie about this. There would be a reason for the owner to lie, but, as outlined above and below, her customer service skills are so lacking that she doesn't even care that people know how horrid she is. And, sadly, you all back her up. Again, don't be surprised when you cross her. Nobody's going to feel sorry for you then.

9) Focus on customers, not sales. People are loyal to you. Their money follows those loyal people. The funny thing about customer service is that good service will spread via word of mouth to just a couple people, BUT poor service will spread like wildfire. It may not seem fair, but it's reality, so you better be on point with those people who have no problem telling their friends when you're not.

10) Make it easy to buy. The best servers will always offer to put the kids' orders in first and tell the cooks to rush it. Why? Kids are kids. That means that they're sometimes impatient, irrational, and just plain pissy, especially when they're hungry. Want to circumvent a problem with the aforementioned? Get those orders out to them stat. Make it easy for the kids, the parents, and, in turn, the other customers and yourself.

You may weather this storm, Marcy's. It is guaranteed, though, that if you continue to bring the rain upon yourself, you won't be in business for the long-term. Customers quit. Word of mouth spreads. People matter. All people. Psst...kids are people, too.



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Explaining Financial Hardship to a 4-Year-Old

My husband is both a full-time high school biology teacher and a part-time college biology professor. During the summer, we're out almost $1000 a month while he is on break from the local college. Given that neither of us are fabulous budgeters, summertime expenditures are practically nil and that means explaining some harsh realities to our son.

At the end of the school year, I sat him down and explained to him that we don't have much money in the summertime. He knows that Dada doesn't have to work two jobs for a little bit, but he also knows Dada is still going to work every day (and for far too long, considering his 100 mile round-trip daily commute), so things were still a bit foggy for him. I explained that the extra things that we usually get to do and buy won't be happening for a couple months. Instead of going to the "dinosaur museum," we'll go see the free puppet show at the library. Instead of hitting the "craft store" once a week, we'll hit the library for their free craft day. We won't be able to buy movies on iTunes, we won't have pizza on Friday night, we won't be able to go here or there. We'll still have fun, it just won't be all the same fun and maybe not as much of the bigger excursions or buys.

His reaction? "OK." That was it. I was honest with him. I was real with him. He was OK with that.

He forgets sometimes. He's four. I remind him and he goes right back to being OK with it. "Oh, ya, I forgot," as he scurries off to find another way to entertain himself.

The point? Just be forthright with kids. They can handle it. They get it. They aren't as selfish as we make them out to be. In fact, they're pretty cool.

I'd write more, but my son has just started building a "tall, tall tower" out of the couch cushions (for free) and, according to him, he needs help stabilizing it. Free fun, learning, and bonding, comin' up!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Book Review: The Tiny Book of Patience

I'm a bad, bad friend. I cannot even tell you how long ago my friend Sam Vickery of Love Parenting asked me to take a look at her book, The Tiny Book of Patience. Suffice it to say it was looooong ago. I sheepishly admit that I even forgot about it. I finished another book last night and was looking through my Kindle Cloud drive to find another when up popped Sam's. Ya, I should've read it eons ago, but I finally did last night and am better off for it.

This is the second book of Sam's that I've had the pleasure of reading. You can read my first review HERE. As with Trust Me, I'm a Toddler, she writes in the familiar, which brings me a sense of peace. I am immediately put at ease, knowing that I'm being talked "with" (as it were) instead of to. This is one of my favorite things about Sam's writing. She doesn't write as if she knows all, as if she were better than the rest of us, as if she is an expert we should all revere. Sam is a mom just like us - fallible, real, trying her best every day.

Ironically, The Tiny Book of Patience is perfect for the truly impatient, like myself. There is no fluff here. She pulls no punches, wastes no time, beats around no bushes. She knows parents are busy, so she gives us only what we need to take care of both ourselves and our kids. At only 36 pages, even the least patient of us can get through this book in no time and come out at the other end with a greater understanding of our and our kids' needs and how to meet them. Does it get much better?

We're going to mess up. We're going to lose ourselves from time to time. Recognizing that in ourselves and reminding ourselves to do better next time, forgiving ourselves for what can only be described as our humanity is what mindfulness is all about. Sam doesn't shame us for that humanity. She's that parent, too. She's one of us. She's a friend who gets it in 36 short, but powerful pages. I'm grateful for her. Thanks, Sam.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Public Schools Charging for Education

I was a high school teacher. My only dealings in elementary education were when I did a semester of semi-student teaching in college at an elementary school that was K-8. (That schools are K-8 is another problem for me, but one that will have to be addressed in another blog, so I don't digress too much.) So, when a friend of mine said that a public charter school here in our state (Arizona) was trying to shake parents down for $350 a month per child for full-day kindergarten, I was appalled. Swear words abounded, but I calmed myself for long enough to reach out to a former student of mine who is a kindergarten (soon-to-be second grade) teacher at a nearby district. She informed me that it is, in fact, legal, and also agreed with me that it's completely unethical and just, quite frankly, grody.

Evidently, they can get away with charging for public education, because (here, at least) kindergarten is not "required." So, it's a privilege? Education is a privilege? Ah. No. And those who are privileged enough to afford said privilege (again, we're talking about the privilege of education - PUBLIC education), can pay for their children to get it. The rest of us, piss off. Get your PUBLIC "world class" education elsewhere. OUR education is a privilege reserved only for the wealthy.

Way to teach kids to know their places right from the get-go, foul bunch of privileged and privilege-propagating asshats.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

My Son is a Quitter...and I Respect and Appreciate That

My son has never been Mr. Outgoing. He's not the one who'll jump straight into the fray in and amongst strangers just looking for a good time. He and I are introverts and he's quite a cautious one. This is who he is and I both respect and appreciate that.

He's done soccer twice now. This last soccer season, he started off not going on the field during practice or games without me holding his hand. That's what he needed, that's what he got. By the end of the season, he was on the field by himself, running around like a maniac (still dodging the ball when it came to him, but he was dodging it all by himself!). He grew and he enjoyed doing it. I respect and appreciate that.

During that time, he blossomed socially. He made friends. He even took "buddy pictures" with his friend Bella, so he can remember her always. He spends at least a couple days a week with his coach's daughter and new favorite chum, Georgia. He's still my cautious introvert, but he's a changing cautious introvert. Most importantly, he's changing of his own accord and at his own pace. I respect and appreciate that.

Yesterday, he went to his first basketball practice. He got his own ball with his name on it, his own 80s-style sweatbands (so rad!), pumped himself up with his jams on the way there, and was the first one to arrive. He was stoked. He even got me to be the assistant coach. (Poor kids!) Unfortunately, basketballs are hard and noses are bustable. Mid-practice he got a ball passed to the middle of his face, which resulted in a bloody nose and a little shiner. "Basketball hurts" according to him. I can't argue. He doesn't want to do it anymore. It's his body and his life. I respect and appreciate that.

After several talks, he decided he'd rather do soccer again. Yes, there's something to be said for learning not to quit when things get hard, but that's a lesson we're teaching through modeling and without creating miserable experiences that will sour him for life. He's four. He has plenty of time to try any number of sports, activities, and hobbies...or not. It's up to him. Maybe he'll try basketball again later. Maybe he won't. Maybe he'll play soccer for years to come. Maybe he won't. Maybe he'll do another sport or not. Maybe he'll spend every afternoon reading in the hammock in the backyard. Maybe he'll do ballet or gymnastics or krav maga, maybe he'll really dig the Baden-Powell Service Association that he's starting this fall and he'll stick with that, maybe he'll want voice lessons and spend his weekends doing karaoke on the Wii. I don't care what he does or doesn't do as long as he does what makes him happy as opposed to what he thinks will make me happy. I respect and appreciate him.



Monday, May 4, 2015

Colossal Failure Turned Try #2

There are still four days and $14,000 left until the Kickstarter for the book ends. Call me cynical, but I'm thinking it may not work. Instead of taking my ball and going home, hiding in shame, and letting the book go by the wayside, the book that so many wonderful people have worked so hard on, I'm working on plan B. Said plan includes a crowdfunding site that is not all-or-nothing, no fundraising deadline, and a far more manageable goal. I'll get this book published if I have to work all the way through the alphabet!

You can help get Zen Parenting: The Book out there by donating HERE and sharing liberally. Ask your friends and family to do the same. We cannot continue to allow What to Expect to be the standard in pregnancy and parenting books. We cannot. Parents and children alike deserve infinitely more than that.