Showing posts with label Review Day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Review Day. Show all posts


Review Day: Why I'll Never Do Business With Cricket Again

It's not often that you hear me say that I would not only never do business with a company.

I could go backwards to the issue where the service just quit working.  Our bill was paid.  We'd never been late.  I knew it wasn't that.  After nearly 7 calls & 3 hours, I gave up.  It was my BIL & SIL who fixed the problem for me the next day.  No thanks to Cricket.

Then, came the repeated issues with slow service (download speeds of a whopping 11 kbps to a whopping 46 kbps which is lower than the 56 kbps that can be expected with dial-up).  I am well aware that the slow speeds probably have to do with our internet usage.  (The more you use them, the slower they make you.)  That's why I wouldn't NOT recommend Cricket based on this.

My lack of a recommendation for them comes because of their horrid customer-service...if you can even get through to someone in the first place.

We just had a new cable modem installed.  As soon as that service was active, I began my journey to cancel Cricket.  After 4 phone calls, I finally talked to "Bob".  Right. You do know that NONE OF US believes your name is ACTUALLY Bob, right?  I am ALWAYS polite to people on the phone; regardless of how rude they may be to me.  However, I will NOT apologize because I can't understand YOU!  Not when I am paying to do business with a company in AMERICA!  At least a half a dozen times, these words came out of my mouth, "I can't understand what you're saying".  No apology.  I shouldn't have to apologize.  YOU should get someone whom I can understand.

Habib....I mean Bob was fantastic at trying to get me to stay.  After repeated attempts to get him to realize that NO means NO, I asked for his supervisor.  It is at this point that I was remarkably transferred to the CEO of Cricket Wireless.  I must say, I was impressed beyond words that "Mike" (who was also barely understandable) took the time to personally answer customer calls.  Imagine my shock and disappointment to find (on a now-quick search of the internet) that the CEO is actually named Doug Hutcheson.  Mike assured me my service would be canceled and I'd receive no further bills, but couldn't send me any confirmation of a cancellation.  As it was explained to me by this CEO imposter, Cricket Wireless doesn't offer e-mail services so they can't e-mail me anything.  Right. After obtaining assurance that Mike did, indeed, believe himself to be the CEO of Cricket Wireless and, therefore, couldn't transfer me, I thanked him for his customer no-service & ended the call.

Another quick search...gotta love QUICK internet...revealed that the headquarters & escalation team (i.e.-American customer service) were in San Diego.  It's amazing what you can get done when you talk to someone in America.

My service is canceled.  And the Cricket representatives in America know how to use e-mail.

Oh.  And "Mike" isn't the CEO.  I hope he gets help for that problem soon.


Review Day: When Wanderers Cease to Roam

When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler's Journal of Staying Put

"When Wanderers Cease to Roam" by Vivian Swift is a very quick read. It is a light-hearted and fun look into Ms. Swift's life on the Long Island Sound for the past decade as well as her travels from not-so-long ago. We get to see Ms. Swift's diary, literally, throughout this book. The illustrations in the book are very whimsical. The fact that the entire text is hand-written adds a very nice, personal touch.

I felt at times that the book was a bit thrown together with everything not really logically fitting where it was placed. I do realize that this was part of the author's intention. However, I feel as if there was too much of this making the book seem "messy" at times.

I think some will find this book a bit too loose while others will find the style suits them just fine.
This seems to be a book that one will either love for it's free-spiritedness, or find too boring and loose.

I would like to see an exerpt from the book placed online to help one decide if the style of the book will be for them. While this will turn away some potential buyers, it will lure others in just the same.


Review Day: Starbucks

Yes. I am really writing a review about Starbucks. You've heard of it, right? If not, then please shut your computer down right now and head to your nearest Starbucks. It's a coffee shop. You'll spend approximately an arm and a leg for one cup of coffee. Still, I think you'll enjoy the experience.


Starbucks has consistently had the best customer service I have ever seen. And that's saying a lot. Especially in today's, "Yes I know you're paying me, but I don't have to even smile customer service world".

I just feel that any company that is willing to go repeatedly above and beyond deserves recognition for their excellence. There are few other companies that would consistently fall in this category. Just as I'm the first to complain if a company barely does what it's required (if at all), I'm also the first to thank a company for good customer service.

Why now?

Because a week ago it had taken us 3 hours to drive what should have been a one hour drive. It took this long because of a solid sheet of ice covering the highway. When an announcement was made that the highway was closed indefinitely just ahead of us because of numerous accidents, we pulled off the road. When we pulled off the road, we wanted a clean bathroom to use, we wanted a place where we could hook up our laptop and see if road &/or weather conditions were any better the furthur North we went. We wanted someplace where we could comfortably hang out for a couple of hours if necessary...without sighs, eye rolls, and comments about how we should other customers can come in and take their abuse.

We were very happy when we saw a Starbucks up ahead. We had always found cleanliness, ready internet access, and pleasant "baristas" at Starbucks before so we felt certain we'd find the same again today. True to form, Starbucks delivered...and all for one cup of coffee. (Which we soon learned wasn't even a necessity...unless you're my husband.)

While we were there around 20 other people were in and out with the same situation we had. Some asked to use the phone and were asked if they needed a phone book. Some asked us for help finding conditions where they were going. We gladly helped. Several came in to use the restroom, have a seat, and regroup before figuring out what to do next. Only about half of those who walked in the door actually purchased anything. However, I can almost guarantee you that they will be back...and they'll be happy to spend their money there...based on the service they received.

What we found were Starbucks employees who offered to call the local Sheriff to inquire about the closed highway and confirm free passage around on another highway. What we found were employees ready to give directions to different locations so people could avoid the blocked highway, get to the airport, or arrive safely at their destination. What we found were employees who offered to help weary travelers in any way they could...regardless of how much money might be in their pockets.

As we thanked them and started on our way, they asked if we'd decided to stay or try to go around the closure. (Which remained closed for over half the day.) We told them we'd decided to get a hotel and head out in the morning. We were invited back for a hot cup of coffee to get us on our way in the morning.

And we were happy to take them up on their offer.

Thank you, Starbucks, for a job well done...again.


Review Day: Venus Embrace Razor

Gillette Venus Embrace Razor

I tried the Venus Embrace razor today for the first time ever. What a treat! Usually, I use whatever razor was free, cheap, or about to be thrown out by my husband (but still had some “cutting" power left). Yes. I’m THAT cheap.

I have always said there are few products I would consider paying for. (As in PERIOD!) The Venus Embrace may have just helped me change my mind. I still would not pay full price for this razor any more than I would for any other razor. However, I might consider paying $1 after coupons &/or rebates; for example.

This is the smoothest shave I have ever had! At first, I tought the razor wasn’t shaving. It was THAT soft of a shave. You really can’t even tell it’s shaving you-until the hair is gone! It didn’t think a razor could ever impress me. The Venus Embrace has proved me wrong.

The HUGE downfall to this razor is the price. At an average cost of $13.99 for the razor and $27.99 for eight refills, one must fork over a pretty-penny to buy this DISPOSABLE razor! I just cannot swallow that; no matter how much I like the razor.

One could make this razor more affordable if they watched drugstore sales and combined those
with a coupon. Thankfully, Gillette is always very generous with their coupons. THAT is something I can wrap my wallet around. I just wish it were more affordable in the first place, though. I can’t imagine it costs THAT much to produce this product.

Price notwithstanding, I would recommend this razor to any woman looking for the best shave they’ve ever had. I would think this would be a good “starter” razor for a pre-teen just starting to shave as well.


Review Day: The Jumping Off Place

The Jumping-Off Place

"The Jumping Off Place" is set in the early 1900's. It is reminiscent of the "Little House" books. I was actually surprised to learn that it was written before the "Little House" series. This book is a re-release by the South Dakota Historical Society of a book originally published in 1929. It was given the "Newberry Honor" title in 1930.

In "The Jumping Off Place", four orphaned children set off to fulfill their late uncle's dream of homesteading in the Dakotas. They had planned to have their uncle with them. However, an untimely stroke and his resulting death left them setting off on their own to "prove up" his claim. This story is about their determination to make it through 14 months despite hardships common to homesteading, unexpected trials such as a contest on their claim by neighbors intent on causing trouble, and the Dakota weather.

I found "The Jumping Off Place" to be a very refreshing book. It was a very pleasant read absent of much of the language and innuendo you find today-even in youth or young adult books. There was so much detail that it was very easy to picture oneself there with them; as if you were a fly on the wall. The reader gets to see the children grow into young adults as they deal with the death of their uncle while going through their homesteading venture.

My 9yr old daughter picked up this book to read after I had finished. She said it was very hard to get into the book. She also said the "old-fashioned" language was a bit hard to understand. According to her, the book was easier to read and "less boring" after she got past the first couple of chapters. (It should be noted here that she loves the "Little House" series and is always reading everything she can get her hands on; especially historical fiction.)

The younger reader may find it hard to follow if they don't already understand the premise behind homesteading. A short history lesson might make it an easier read for the younger set. A parent should also be available while the younger set is reading the book to answer any questions they may have regarding the story line or some of the language used. It's not bad, it's just not typical of today.

The biographical information on the author at the back helps the reader to better understand the times from which the author came. The short glossary provided at the end serves to help the younger reader better understand some of the language of the time. However, I think it would have been MUCH more helpful to list this at the front of the book as some younger children won't notice it listed on the Table of Contents. My daughter would have found the book easier to read much sooner had she noticed the word list before she started. She found it very helpful once I pointed it out to her.

I would recommend "The Jumping Off Place" to older children and adults who enjoy historical fiction. I would recommend it to younger children only with an adult present to point out the word list and be ready with any questions they may have.

Review Day: Runaway Radish

Runaway Radish/El Rabano Que Escapo

"Runaway Radish" is a story similar to "The Gingerbread Man". The story is about the Radish Festival held yearly in Oaxaca, Mexico. Just as the carver was about to finish carving his radish sculpture, the last radish ran away. It is a delightful children's story. The bright, colorful illustrations are very animated and thus appealing to children.

Now no review regarding any children's book would be complete without a glimpse of what its target audience, a child, thinks. As a result, I had all three of my children read and review "Runaway Radish". All of them liked "Runaway Radish", especially my six year old son. My oldest, nine, thought the book was kinda cheesy (her words), but liked the Spanish on each page. She liked trying to figure out what each word was. After a mini-Spanish lesson from mom, she was much more successful. The vocabulary list in the back is also very helpful for children.

I loved the story. The history regarding the origination of the story helps the reader understand the setting for the story. I know that what is included on the dust-jacket of a hardcover is not always also included on a soft-cover. I hope they keep this information, though, as it is very useful. Without this background, the reader might wonder why the main character was displaying radishes as he was. It would still be a good story, but is even better with this touch of reality "thrown" in.

I also loved the English/Spanish on each page. As a homeschooling mom who loves literature-based and "real-life" learning, I see this as a great tool. Anyone can memorize a set of letters, words, or conjugation rules. But nothing helps one truly grasp a language like seeing it used in a "real" story. It brings the language to life like no textbook ever could. I imagine it would do the same for ESL students.

"Runaway Radish" is a cheerful, fun story that is also educational. I would recommend this book to homeschooling parents desiring to teach their children Spanish as well as to the "traditional" Spanish or ESL student.


Review Day: "Where Am I Wearing?"

Where am I Wearing: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that Make Our Clothes

I have just finished reading one of the most provocative books I have ever come across. This book left me intrigued and fascinated with where my clothes are made. Not only that, but it left me wanting to know the origin of everything I use on a daily basis. I doubt anyone could leave this book without feeling the need to do something.

"Where Am I Wearing" chronicles author Kelsey Timmerman's journey through the companies, factories, and people who make his clothes. His journey takes him from Honduras to Bangladesh, from Cambodia to China, and back home again to a company and factory in the United States. "Sweatshop" is not an unfamiliar word to anyone in America. Yet Mr. Timmerman leaves his tour with a much different view of the word and the garment industry than the reader expects.

Through his journey, Mr. Timmerman poses questions and proposes solutions that aren't typical of the garment-industry protester. In fact, he sets himself apart from these protesters by having actually visited the factories and met the people who make his clothes. As a homeschooling mom, Mr. Timmerman leaves me desiring to take a similar journey with my children. It's an experience every American could use in their lifetime.

The reader should be aware that reading "Where Am I Wearing" might be uncomfortable. It might force you to look at your own life differently, and it will likely move you to action of some sort (even if just to look at your own tags before you get dressed in the morning).

Mr. Timmerman took a chance when he jumped on a plane to Honduras. It was a chance worth taking as he has produced a well-written, thoughtful book that is WELL worth the read.

Review Day: 1998 Ford Windstar Ltd.

This the van we own. (And some kids that we found, too.)

Why am I reviewing my van? Why am I reviewing a van that is no longer made? There are those, like us, who purchase only used cars. For those people this review could be very helpful. However, I also believe that when something exceeds what you ever expected it to do then you should talk about it so others can make their decisions accordingly. I do this if I receive exceptional customer service or an exceptional product. That is what I am doing right now.

Let me first say that we have termed this van our "God-van". The fact that it is not only still running, but still running with so little "extra" repair work being done is nothing short of a miracle. (When I say "extra" repair work, I am referring to any repairs outside of the regular maintenance you would have to do on any car such as an oil change, new tires, belts & hoses, brake pads, etc.) The majority of our repair budget for this car has been mostly on these maintenance charges. For example, we spent close to $800 on our car this year, but that $800 consisted of $450 for tires, a new belt, 2 new brakes and 2 new brake pads. The only "extra" in that $800 was the ball bearing. That may be normal maintenance for a car with our miles, but because it's not something you'd do on a car with say 150,000 miles, I won't include it as maintenance here.

What? You're thinking from my above statement that our car has OVER 150,000 miles? Do vehicles still go that many miles? Can they go OVER that many miles? That's not possible is it?

Yes, my friend. It certainly is. As of this writing, our 1998 Ford Windstar Ltd. van which according to VIN records was actually first purchased in August 1997 has OVER 242,000 miles...and is still going strong. Truly by the grace and mercy of God. (He knows we'd rather keep paying on our medical bills than pay for another car.)

Oh but wait, I'll shock you even further. We didn't even purchase this van until it had 100,000 miles. In fact, on our test drive, we took it over 100,000 miles. What's funny is that we weren't going to purchase this car when we first saw it. It was almost a month later when we went back and decided to look more deeply at this car. Why didn't we consider it at first? It only had ONE sliding door. Amazing. That feature has proved to not be necessary all these years.

May I say that the inside of this car has held up remarkably well given how MUCH we utilize our van to it's full...ummm...kid-filled capacity (books, ballet stuff, sports equipment, dropped food, spilled milk, vomit, stickers on the window, moving boxes, and blow-out diapers included...for no extra charge, thank you). I'm not sure how much the leather seats played a part in this, but I hope to never own anything again that doesn't have leather seats. We LOVE them!

I also love my 10cd changer and compass (especially when getting directions from certain male people...I won't mention any names, though), the kid view mirror (which you can now apparently buy to use in any car, but mine is built in). I'm pretty sure this car has spoiled us rotten. It even has rear heat and air; a luxury our previous van didn't offer. Again, I think most "modern" vans offer this now. That's okay, our car is an "oldie" but a "goodie"!

We really like this car, and frankly, I think the car likes us. It is definitely "well-loved" (see what our carpet floor & leather seats include for no extra charge above).

I'm afraid I'd be cheating on my van if I said there was a feature that newer vans have that mine doesn't. I'll take the risk, though. I love that all newer vans have dual sliding doors. (It would be nice.) I also like that the newer Honda Odyssey's have windows that actually roll down on said sliding doors. Then again, that would just be another (and frankly MUCH bigger) window for my kids to leave open just before it rains or snows...

To my car: I promise we were NOT trying to get you stolen when we left the van doors unlocked...or completely open...a LOT. We also were really NOT trying when we left the keys to our house and our van on the hood of our car. Really. We weren't. I don't think we'd get enough from you in insurance to replace what you have and continue to be for us. You are truly our God-van. We have been so incredibly blessed by this van.

Assuming that someone has done the appropriate research to ensure their purchase was well-maintained and free of accidents, then I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this vehicle to a used car buyer; even if it has "tons" of miles.

You can't have ours, though. We're attached. And we're not ready to let go.

By the way, did you happen to notice the color of our van? Purple. As in "Skittle" purple. And we like it that way. The story behind that proves that this really is our God-van. But I'll leave you hanging for a bit on that one...


Review Day: The Sitting Swing

The Sitting Swing: Finding Wisdom to Know the Difference

The Sitting Swing by Irene Watson details Ms. Watson's journey through a 28 day "recovery" program at Avalon. During this process, Ms. Watson remembers what she went through as a child and details her experiences for the reader. She speaks of how she held back thinking she was somehow better than the "addicts" and such at Avalon with her. She knew more than them and could fake her way through the program. However, the counselors at Avalon saw right through Ms. Watson's attempts. This led to Ms. Watson actually having a breakdown which led to the break-through she had been doubtful would happen.

The Sitting Swing was difficult to get committed to. However, once I finally got through the beginning, it was not only palatable, but enjoyable. I recognized myself in much of the book although in a more modern time. Ms. Watson makes herself quite vulnerable by opening up as she does in the book. It is easy to identify with Ms. Watson when she details her thoughts about Avalon. Most readers without "typical" addictions would have the tendency to feel better than those with them in a program like Avalon; despite how equal to them we might actually be.

The Sitting Swing reads very much like a work of fiction. Perhaps Ms. Watson intended this; it certainly makes for easier reading once one gets into the book. It is hard to remember towards the end as you're drawn back into her "current" time at Avalon that this isn't a work of fiction, but her real life. The pictures thrown into the book certainly help to remind the reader that this was real.

I would recommend The Sitting Swing to anyone willing to take the time necessary to get through the beginning of a book that will turn out to be an excellent read overall. However, the reader must be aware the many of the experiences in the book can be graphic. There is also some language that I always think a book can do without, but I'm sure Ms. Watson found was necessary to tell her story.


Review Day: Disney Mix Max

Below is a review for one of our favorite travel items: The Disney Mix Max.

We purchased these on clearance at Target over a year ago. They are regularly priced at $100. We paid $25/piece for 3 of them for each of our children. Prior to this time, we had never before owned an MP3 player of any kind.

It was fairly easy for us to figure out how to download the software so we could download songs and charge the unit. I spent 3 weeks reading through every word of the instructions and combing the web attempting to figure out how to transfer video files before giving up. In the year we have had the unit, we have never once watched a video on it.

We are quite used to downloading video onto our computer. We had movies on our computer, but could never figure out how to get one of them transferred to the mix max even when using the max allowed 2GB added card. (We tried with both a 1GB and a 2GB card to no avail.) The cards were loaded, but they would not play on the mix max.

There are NO INSTRUCTIONS regarding the video that comes with this unit. The software that comes with this unit allows you to download the MUSIC only. They obviously do NOT want to make it easy for the common person to download video onto this player. They WANT you to spend $20/pop for their video cards. (Which we are not willing to do.)

I would love to give this unit a 5-star rating. Other than the video problem we have had, we LOVE the mix max! They are easy for the kids to use. They are VERY durable. We have had ours for over 2 years and they still look new despite having been used often by our three young children and on 5 cross-country trips.

Shortly after purchasing these units, I did purchase an actual mix-max case for one of them on clearance that allows my oldest to keep hers in the case all the time while listening to hers. I also purchased a regular Mp3 case for the other 2 to carry theirs in, but they must take it out when they listen to it.

I love that these can be charged through the USB on the computer. We have found that the actual charge-time for the batteries is MUCH longer than what they state on the package. We are able to get easily 20-24 hours of play time out of one charge. Of course I have only tested the mp3 portion of the play-time. I am judging by the time my kids have listened when we've been on our cross-country trips.

I don't like that there isn't a volume-limit feature. My 5yr old son often turns the volume up all the way and we are constantly having to tell him to turn it down. I also wish there were a neck-strap. (They do have a wrist-strap, but that's not something a 5yr old cares to keep on.) It's frustrating to have to pick it up off the car floor if my son falls asleep while listening to his mix-max on a trip. This wouldn't happen if he had a neck strap.

We also don't like that there doesn't appear to be a driver for Vista. We can charge their mix max's while we were on vacation through our laptop which has Vista. However, the music software isn't compatible for Vista and there are no drivers that I can find online for Vista.

If the video portion of this unit were more user-friendly, I would easily give it 5-stars. I'm glad I only paid $25/unit because I would be disappointed if I had spent $100 for each of these thinking I had a video feature!


Review Day: "What Your First Grader Needs to Know"

This is my first review day. It is certainly NOT the first review I've done. I've been a regular at for years and now also review for and as well as freelance review for different publishers.

Today, I am posting a review I did on the book, "What Your First Grader Needs to Know". Enjoy!

What Your First Grader Needs to Know: Fundamentals of a Good First-Grade Education (The Core Knowledge Series)

"What Your First Grader Needs to Know" is the second in a seven-part series for school children through sixth grade. It encompasses a variety of subjects such as writing, reading, history, math, art, music, science, and touches on different religions in the history section. The book says it gives an overview of what children should know by the end of the first grade. Ideally, one would use it with a publicly or privately-schooled child as a supplement to their "normal" schooling or it would be used as a supplement to a homeschool curriculum. We used it as an addendum to our homeschool curriculum.

This book was very informative and truly did as it claimed: Covered a variety of topics and subjects. It is written in a very easy-to-read format for children of this age. My younger children did get bogged down some in the lengthy history section. We had to break some of those "lessons" down into smaller segments.

I was very impressed with the overall subject coverage in this book. In the reading section, for example, they cover poetry, common sayings and quotations, short-stories and excerpts of larger books. In the history section, they cover American History, World History, and briefly touch on religions. In the science section, they cover anatomy, biology, and earth science. In the music section, they cover different famous musicians, different types of music, and types of instruments. The book offers the same type of information offered in the "K" version, but with more detail as is appropriate for this age. I have the 2nd & 3rd grade versions as well and have found them to appropriately build as you progress through the books.

I was a bit disappointed in the religion section. We are Christians, but want our children exposed to different religions. The fact that the others (Islam, etc) were included is NOT what bothered us; although we did alter the sections some to state the information as what some believe not as fact as the book does. However, we found the section on Christianity which includes the story of Moses to be not only disappointing, but biblically inaccurate which leads me to question the accuracy of other similar sections in this book. If the author was not familiar with this information through his own beliefs, then he should have made certain to input accurate information in this section through sources that DO know; as I have to assume he did in the other religion sections of the book.

Overall, I would recommend this book. It is definitely worth the buy to enhance your child's education, particularly for a homeschooler.



Review Day: Library Thing

I LOVE Library Thing!!  It is AWESOME!!!  For $25, you can catalog all of the books you will EVER use for the rest of your life.  Since we're at the beginning of our homeschooling journey, we'll be adding books to our collection for years.

I have discovered one thing, however.  After talking with other homeschooling moms I'm finding I'm not the only one who has made this shocking discovery after beginning to catalog their collections. 

I seriously underestimated the number of books we had.  I can't tell you the number of times I've told people that we probably have a "couple hundred books".  HA!  Couple hundred on one shelf, maybe!!  After adding 3/4 of our Sonlight curriculum, about 1/8 of our readers, and a very small percentage of our children's books, we have 345 books!!!!!!!!!! 

I still have more curriculum, more readers, more kids books...a LOT more kids books, and I haven't even touched the adult books yet!  Wow! 

I suppose this is why they say you should take a full inventory "just in case" of a fire, etc.  Yeah.  What insurance company thinks of a homeschooler and their massive amount of books when they say this?  And to think...we've recently gotten RID of books!  We had more!

Here's my "library" to this point: