Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter 2017

I had the great good fortune to have a full dinner table for Easter this year!   

Nick, Kelly, Audrey and Elise....Jamie and Sean.......John, Ruth and Laura.....Hubby and me

I hope this isn't a commentary on my cooking!

After dinner, Kelly did some sweet little braids for Audrey's hair.

Then outside for some playtime!

The awesome swing Jamie built got some good use

This is how you put a baby to sleep!

And Memere got a selfie after Elise finished her nap in my lap!

Time for the Easter Egg Hunt!

Memere didn't mind helping!

Laura found her gigantic egg with the special surprise!

Auntie Jamie shows Elise what's inside!  
(most of the chocolate had to be refrigerated.  It was 80 degrees out and the eggs had been hidden by the Easter Bunny earlier in the day.)

Audrey tries to figure out how to get inside her egg.

Noah and Elsie search for eggs.

And the swing gets some more use

After packing up the car, Elise decided she would be the one to drive home!

It was one of the hottest Easters on record, but it was wonderful  to be outside in the warm sun, with the breeze blowing and the smell of spring in the air.  It's always such a blessing to have my wonderful family come join us in our home.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Why is it so Hard to find Good Customer Service?

I am a customer service representative.   During my typical day, I probably take 25 phone calls.  We are trained to give good customer service.   Here are three examples....all from today.....that explain why it's getting harder and harder to give good service.

1.  An older man calls.  From the loud background noise, it's quite evident he is calling from a car.  (The bane of our existence.   We can't hear you!!! AND  you can't hear us!!!)  
Man:  I want to pay my bill.
Me:  Okay, what is your account number?
Man;  I don't know - I'm in the car
Me:  Okay, what is your phone number?  (no result)  What is your name?  (no result)  Spell your name (no result).  "Sir, I cannot find your account.   Can you call back when you have that available?"
Man:  (to his daughter who is apparently driving the car).  Do you have your membership card?  I need the account number.
Daughter: (yelling at man)  Just call back later!!
An argument ensues - I listen to every blasted word.   Finally the man recites a number and I pull up his account.
Me:  Okay sir, I found your account and I can take your credit card number now.
Man:  Oh, I don't have that on me.  Don't you have my card on file?
Me:  No sir, we only keep your card on file if you ask us to.
Man: Well, that makes no sense.  (totally the opposite of the usual, which is "What are you doing with my credit card number?  I never gave it to you!"  To which I want to reply, "I didn't pluck it out of thin air, dumbass!)   Okay, I guess I'll have to  call back later.
Total waste of 15 minutes of my time.

2.  Another man calls.
Man:  I want to pay my bill.
Me: Can I have your membership number?
Thankfully, the man provides it.
Man:  What is your name?  (Which I provided when I first answered the call)
Me: Karen
Man:  What is your last name or your employee number.
Me:  I'm sorry sir, we don't provide that information over the phone.
The man went ballistic!
Man:  that's just bullshit!  You have all my information and you won't give me yours??  I'm going to cancel my membership.   RANT RANT RANT  What if you do it all wrong and I have no one to call back?   I offered to email him a receipt....nope!
Finally I interrupt -
Me:  SIR - I cannot give you my last name.
Man:  I guess you weren't listening!  I said your last name OR - that's O-R, your employee number.
Me:  I cannot give you either of those.   (I could have given him my extension, but frankly I didn't want this obnoxious twit to have my information)
Me: Sir, I can give you member relations if you wish to speak to them further about this.
Man:  RANT RANT RANT - Let me speak to your supervisor!
Without a word I transferred him to member relations.  God Bless those folks for having to deal with these crazies.
Another total waste of 15 minutes of my time.

And finally - my favorite

My coworker received this call.

Woman:  I want to pay my bill
Mary:   Okay, can I please have your membership number?
Woman:  Oh hold on.............
Mary then sits and listens as the woman takes someone's pizza order. Apparently the woman was at work at the the counter of a pizza place.  Mary listened while the order was taken (extra cheese), the credit card was given, including the billing address and the order was completed.   Now Mary figures finally the woman will come back and continue her call to us.   Nope.  Mary hears the woman again say, Can I take your order?
At this point Mary hung up.
Another 15 minutes of wasted time.

Sadly, this is not an unusual day!   This kind of stuff happens every single day.

So, when you are waiting in a queue for hours for a service counselor to help you, it's not necessarily that we are understaffed, or not answering phones or whatever.   It's that we have a bunch of doodlebugs taking  up our time!  And when your customer service representative is being cranky, take into account the 20 other calls she took before yours, and what she's had to deal with.

And my rant is shouldn't get me started!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Children's Museum with Audrey and Elise

Hubby and I had the great good fortune to take our two littlest grandkids out for a day of adventure!   Son and daughter-in-law wanted to do some things in the house, so Memere and Pepere took the kids off their hands for the afternoon.  And what a pleasure it was!

These two little girls are the most well-behaved, happy and accommodating kids ever.   Interestingly, they couldn't be more different.  Audrey is  3 3/4.  She is quiet, calm, and almost a little timid to try new things.   And her little sister Elise is 15 months and hell on wheels!  She doesn't walk...she runs! and climbs!!  

We got to the museum and the place was packed!  I was quite dismayed when they told us there was a 1/2 hour wait to get into the Museum!  Unbelievable!  So they gave us a number, and we went to check out the new outdoor area - a treehouse!

The Treehouse was huge, with all kinds of interesting, natural materials to see and touch.   Audrey and Elise looked out the child-height windows into the back area where there's a huge swing and playground.

There were books in every area of the Museum.  Pepere shows the girls a book all about leaves.

There was a tent set up with sleeping bags for the kids to try out.

We finally went to check and see if it was time to get into the museum.  It was our turn!!   We skipped the first room that had a Brio train set-up.  Way too crowded and with some quite unruly little kids!

The second room had all different size balls that you could put into ball ramps and watch them go through the tunnels all around the room.   Both Audrey and Elise loved this room.  When Elise grew tired of the balls, she spent the rest of the time going up and down the small set of stairs!

The next room had a water table.  They had nice rubbery plastic smocks for the kids to wear over their clothes.   Elise immediately stood next to another little boy her size and went to town splashing water like crazy!   You can see by Audrey's face what she thought of that!

Elise didn't mind a face full of water!

Audrey was smart enough to go around to the other side of the table where it was quieter!

After awhile, I could see where this was going and knew I'd have a soaking wet kid, so I decided it was time to move on.  It was the one and only time either girl squawked, and it was Elise who was not happy to be pulled away from the water.  Her "fussing" lasted all of two seconds until she saw what awaited her in the next area.

The Museum had all kinds of cubbies and small, comfy areas for the children to investigate.  This is a tiny room under the stairs with a fish tank in the wall.

Pepere wanted to see too, even though he was a little too large for the space!

The next room was Audrey's favorite.  It was dark, and set up like an outdoor campfire!  The fire pit "glowed", and someone had made some giant marshmallows on sticks so you could roast them over the fire.   Audrey loved those marshmallow sticks - so she called it the "Marshmallow Room".   They had a "tree"you could crawl into, and a sheet set up with light behind it so you could make shadow puppets.

Elise's favorite part of that room was the itty-bitty slide just her size!  She must have gone up and down that slide 100 times!

This room had vacuum hoses pushing air out, so the kids could see how they could make things move with the power of air.

Another favorite, where we spent a lot of time, was "Bessie's Diner".   All set up like a diner with tons of fake food and dishes, a stove, etc so the kids could cook and serve customers!  (Bessie's Diner shows up on Google Maps as a real diner - although the comments say things like "food tastes kind of plastic"!)

Elise finds a friend!

At the top of the house is a room made to look like a ship with ocean-themed activities.

Audrey shared a boat with a new-found friend.

There was a little cubby area under the eaves filled with soft pillows and a lighted sand table - Audrey, Elise AND  Pepere enjoyed that very much!

After a couple of hours, Memere and Pepere were done!  (Although the kids could have kept going forever!)

We took them for lunch at Friendly's, where they each go their own kids' meal of mac and cheese and hotdogs, milk and ice cream.

Elise dove in with hands and cleaned her plate!

What a tremendous day of fun for all of us!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Boston Adventure

Last spring, my friend Joan posted that she'd gone to an exhibit on Leonardo DaVinci at her local museum in Cincinnati.  I love Leonardo, so I went on the website for the exhibit and the closest it was coming to New England was Rochester, February.   I decided maybe we'd think about a road trip .....although upper state NY in February didn't sound like a great idea!    But I put it on the bottom of the December page of the calendar to remind myself to check it out.

When I flipped the calendar to December, I saw my notes and checked out the website again.  Much to my surprise, they had added a stop at the Boston Museum of Science!  And..... the exhibit was at the Museum right then!

There was no question in my mind that we'd be going to see it right after the holidays.  So in January I got the Museum passes from the library and the date of our adventure was set!   Since I have only one more month on my Aquarium Membership, a stop at the Aquarium was a must!  And when I checked the Marriott website to see if I could get the Marriott Longwharf  hotel  (right next door to the Aquarium) for cheap with my Travel Agent pass..... and it was available!......our adventure was complete!

Hubby knew he had just the right shirt to wear

Of course, much to our chagrin, they were predicting a lot of snow and "blizzard-like" conditions for our weekend.  But we never let no stinkin' bad weather stop us!   I found a parking garage just around the corner from the Aquarium, so we parked the car there for the duration and took public transportation....locally known as the "T".    

We made the Museum of Science our first stop.   

The exhibit was very interesting.  They took a lot of Leonardo's drawings and brought them to life as models. Some were small and some were life-size!

His writings - mostly written in mirror image

The model for his human kite

And his helicopter  

There was a very interesting section on the Mona Lisa....his most famous painting.  They just spent 20 years using infrared imaging to "see" what was beneath the painting....turns out there are two other paintings under there!

One of his inventions was a portable piano......perfect for Hubby!

I found some of his quotes very interesting and perfect even in today's world.

Hubby the "artiste"

The only "hands-on" activity they had was using a model of a catapult to try and knock down a cardboard castle.  Hubby gives it a shot.

They also had a short commentary on another of Leonardo's famous paintings....the Last Supper

When we left the Museum of Science it had started to snow. The giant dinosaur out front looks a bit chilly!

Waiting for the T to come 

When we got to the Aquarium, the Sea Lion out front was basking in the snow coming down!

The Little Blue Penguins were gorgeous!

And the fish are just beautiful too!

Hubby finds an admirer

And I love patting the Manta Rays

After the Aquarium we went back to the parking garage to retrieve our luggage.  It was like a scene from Seinfeld as we wandered around the parking garage looking for our car!    It was really only about 15 minutes before we found it.   The 1/4 mile walk from the garage to the hotel was brutal with the driving snow and wind.    When we got there, there was a wedding being held in the lobby!

We had planned on going to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner.   With the terrible weather we thought twice, but since the T stop was literally right outside the hotel, and the stop at the other end was inside the Prudential building where the Cheesecake Factory was located......we figured it would be easy!   Despite having not one but two trains "go out of service" ...forcing us to get on another train, we got to our destination dry and warm.  And so happy that we made the decision to go!  The Chicken Madeira I ordered was the best I've ever tasted!

We woke up in the morning to beautiful blue skies!  But still extremely cold, so we ate a very expensive (but quite delicious!) breakfast in the hotel dining room.   

The short walk back to the parking garage (where we once again had trouble finding our car!) yielded some photos of some very beautiful architecture.

Finally, across the iconic Zakim Bridge to home