Friday, June 27, 2008
Our local library has a really neat summer reading program to encourage kids to read over the summer. The problem is that with their limited budgets and the number of kids they are trying to reach, their rewards consist of little plastic trinkets. Not wanting to accumulate stuff that we just don't need, and will very soon find it's way into the local landfill, I brainstormed for a way to devise my own 'summer reading program' for my girls. I ran it by them, and they are jumping up and down, absolutely thrilled with our new program. In fact, they have both almost finished reading the four books each they picked out at the library yesterday!
They are keeping a log of the books they have read - title, author, number of chapters, number of pages, and the date they completed it. They reach a new reward level for every 15 books read (books of their own choosing, of course). The first 15 book level is going to be a trip to the movies (yup, even popcorn and a drink). At the 30 book level they are going to get to participate in a soap making craft day. The adorable little guys pictured at the top of the page are made using a soap making kit available through Bramble Berry. We will (hopefully soon) be moving into our new home and I thought it would give the girls an opportunity to participate in creating their own special bathroom. And, as some of you know, I have a wee bit of a passion for soap making.
If you want to order your own, and I know you do, you can order it through http://www.brambleberry.com/. For less than $20 you will receive the very adorable amphibian mold ( with two cavities each of the salamander and the frog), orange mica, blue-green mica, iridescent glitter, white melt and pour soap base, clear melt and pour soap base, pearberry fragrance oil, and watermelon fragrance oil. There is enough to make soap for your kids, for mom and dad, and even for your kid's best friends. Ooooh, how about a slumber party craft?! Or a summer craft for you homeschoolers?! Whatever the occasion, pick one up and enjoy!
As for our 45 and 60 book levels, I haven't decided. They will have to be big to follow this. Maybe supper at Mr. Gatti's with a few tokens to play the games. But, with cute little critter soaps that they made themselves in their own bathroom, who cares?
Think about the thought God put into all that He created. He created so much with our enjoyment in mind. He could have found a way for the leaves to fall to the ground in the Autumn without infusing them with color. He could have found a way for the birds and animals to attract a mate using something other than their melodious calls and vivid colors.
He is an artist. Our world is his canvas. He creates his masterpieces for our enjoyment as well as his own. Praise him for it!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
My husband and mother are going to be travelling with me, my two daughters, and several other dancers and their families (20 carloads in all!). It is destined to be a miraculous experience. Please join us in prayer for safety, favor, and above all else, that multitudes of people will witness the love of Jesus Christ through these young ladies.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
I have moved about 14 times. I graduated from Cal State University, San Bernardino with a BA. I hopped a train and moved across the continent. I have learned to ride a motorcycle, a tractor, a bus, and a boat (okay, so I still can't get a boat on a trailer :>). I have been a waitress, a bartender, a secretary, a cycle counter, a production scheduler, a warranty hot line operator (yuk!), a telemarketer, a sub maker, a counselor, a prison guard, a one-on-one teaching assistant, a receptionist, and a teacher. I drank and smoked too much, then quit drinking and smoking. I learned new things and started a business. I've been a winner, and I've been a loser. I got married to the coolest guy in the world and learned a lot about farming, gave birth to two fabulous and wacky girls, quit work to home school, made 7,823 bad choices (give or take a few), and about 9 good choices, was born again and started anew.
It has been a busy 20 years. I hope I learn as much and experience as much joy over the next 20....
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
And, hey, if you have any other inspirational thoughts or quotes, please share them. Maybe I can find just the right photo to go with them.
Have a blessed weekend!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
We have found some land...about 20 acres. It is absolutely beautiful. The location is perfect. It is set back from the road and surrounded by trees. In fact it is slightly elevated above the surrounding land, so as you look out around you, all you see is trees surrounding the gently rolling pasture. The present owner looked into developing it at one time, so some of the legwork has already been done for us. It was found capable of supporting a septic field for up to 18 houses. Perfect! There is even more land adjoining it that will become available down the road. One side of the land even runs to a large 'creek' that adjoins the lake. I'm thinking morning kayaking!
We have prayed and prayed about it, and it looks like the perfect place to build a community. The only thing standing in our way now is money down. We can afford the payments. However, it seems appears that if you are purchasing land without any existing structures, it is considered a farm loan, and they want you to be able to put 15-20 percent down. Well....we aren't very shy, but we are shy of the amount we would need. So, we are examining our options, and praying, and going to see if the owner would be willing to finance, and praying some more.
Did I mention we were praying? We truly believe that this is the location God has directed us toward. If it is, we can't fail. Something will come together and it will work toward the goal He has intended. We are expecting a miracle. Who knows? Maybe I'll stop to pick up the mail and find some kind of refund check for a few thousand dollars. It could happen! God can make anything happen!!
We could use some prayers though, folks. This is going to be amazing, and you will feel wonderful knowing you played a part in the prayer process that helped make it a reality. So please join us in prayer for protection, favor, and just plain old miracles.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I don't think I have ever gone into Wal Mart and walked out in a perky mood. Most of the times I previously shopped there I encountered unhappy employees, unhappy customers, unstocked shelves, aisles blocked with items that needed to be stocked, and dirty, out of order bathrooms (lacking soap and hot water).
Frequently, I would arrive at Wal Mart searching for a particular item and find a gaping empty spot on the shelf. I would return week after week to find the same shelves bare. Once, when a friend encountered the same problem, she called the manufacturer of the item to find out if Wal Mart still carried their product. The customer service rep explained the problem to her. Wal Mart purchases enormous quantities of a product at a time. They buy enough to send to all their stores. So they negotiate for a huge cost break. When they are ready to reorder, they often want an even greater deal. So they enter into negotiations with the manufacturer. Often, Wal Mart will not budge, and the manufacturer will be given the option of taking a loss in order to have Wal Mart carry their product, or losing the order. Wal Mart will gladly replace the product with one from a manufacturer who is willing to give in to their demands. This is how Wal Mart is able to keep their prices so low - by using their bulk to bully.
The customers and employees both seem unhappy. Wal Mart doesn't have the best track record of employee satisfaction. They bully their employees the same way they bully their suppliers. They treat their employees as if they don't have any options. I spoke to a cashier who was getting married in a week from the time of my last visit. She had only been an employee for a couple of months, but was working her last day. She informed me that when she had applied for the job she had informed her new employer of the date of her wedding, and told them she would need to not work that day. They scheduled her to work that day. When she spoke to them about it, they told her that she could either work that day or find another job. So she quit to attend her wedding. I have listened to employees of Wal Mart complain about customers to other employees while I am waiting for service. I was standing with my (then 5 year old) daughter, waiting for a dressing room while three employees were engaged in trash talking about a customer they had just let into a dressing room. I stood there for a minute or so, and one employee turned to another and told her that she had a customer waiting. That would be me! She loudly proclaimed "I see her. But did you see the look that other one gave me?" And she continued to make me and my daughter wait while she loudly swore about the other customer.
But, really, how high are they going to rate the importance of customer satisfaction if their employer doesn't value employee satisfaction? You can't blame them for being unhappy. You can't blame them for treating customers as if they are disposable and easily replaced.
In Wal Mart's defense, they don't promote themselves as the CUSTOMER SERVICE LEADER. The are the LOW PRICE LEADER. Customer service is not their priority. Low prices are. And you get what you pay for.
Daily, I hear people complain about how customer service and common courtesy are extinct. They aren't extinct. They are merely endangered. We are not willing to pay for them. There are few full service gas stations anymore, and those that are, are priced much more expensively. Most grocery stores don't take your groceries out of your basket anymore, and only a few of them bag them. We have self check out, so we can spare stores from having to provide any customer service. We find these changes acceptable if it means we can purchase things for less money. We want stuff cheap so we can have more of it. And stores like Wal Mart know that we are willing to trade customer service for a low price. They know they can get away with it. They know that no matter how upset and frustrated people become at their stores, they will keep coming back....because they can get more stuff for less money. I have gone to the 'customer service' department with valid complaints. I have received no customer service from that department. They are indifferent to complaints. I think they believe that for every customer that leaves, two will come.
So I don't shop at Wal Mart. I choose where I shop based on the service I receive. I choose where I shop based on the quality of the product I receive. Some of you are thinking "Must be nice to have that much money". I assure you that I'm not rolling in money. I am a stay at home home school mom of two who is married to a farmer! We aren't exactly making the big bucks. So how do I do it? How do we shop at the upscale Harris Teeter where the average price is higher, but they get your groceries out of your cart, ring them up, run to get you a replacement for a damaged product, bag your groceries, and politely load them into your car for you?
I will tell you my big secrets! Drum roll please! We buy less. We only buy what we need and a couple of reasonable wants. We don't binge shop, and we rarely buy something that we don't really need just because it is a good deal. We don't have a closet full of clothes we don't wear. We have a few good quality items, and we replace them as needed. And we shop carefully. We shop the sales, not our desires. Those few quality items in our closet, just like those in our freezer were bought on sale. And we spend less than your average shopper.
But we pay for quality, and we pay for customer service. We pay for smiles. And we pay to walk out of the store in a happy mood, having enjoyed our shopping experience. We are happy knowing that we are contributing our money to companies that care for their employees and suppliers as much as they do their customers. We are happy to know that we are contributing our money toward companies that give to their communities. We are willing to support such causes. And we are happy knowing that we have less in quantity, but more in quality. After all, you get what you pay for. So....where do you shop?