Evaluating Software Support

Sometimes when evaluating a product, I submit a support request just to see how the company handles it. Here’s my experience so far:

Me: I’m encountering this issue (and all the details). Also, if you click “Create a Ticket” and then create a JIRA account, it says accounts aren’t allowed to be created.
Support: Can you provide more details?
Me: OK. (Provides even more details)
Support: File a JIRA ticket.

So some time goes by and I get a follow-up email asking if I have any question.

Me: Yup, I’m having this issue. And JIRA is broken.
Support: Yeah, we know JIRA is broken. Can you provide screenshots, logs, etc?
Me: Provides another write-up of the issue.

A few hours later….
Support: Hey, JIRA should be working again. Go submit there. Let me know if you have any issues.

Seriously, this doesn’t convince me to ask my company to pay thousands for your software. Have you had any support woes like this?

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Things that will happen while your husband is gone: or Murphy’s Law for Business Trips

Over the past two years, Bryan has had to go on many more business trips than he has previously. They usually aren’t very long, around 3-4 days average, and usually only about once a month. So it feels frequent, but it’s not really frequent enough to have a whole different “dad is gone” routine. Really, is a lot like being on call once a month. In any case, here are the trends that I notice happen when he’s gone.

1. Someone will get sick. It will most likely be the baby. Even if they are not truly ill, someone will randomly throw up or have other intestinal issues.

2. Business trips will always be scheduled for a time when there is some other major disturbance in the schedule. The last three trips have been scheduled during choir concert week (which involves being gone 5 out of 5 weeknights), when I had to make church dinner, and when we were hosting college students who were working at our church’s day camp.

3. You will not sleep well. You stay up later than you should reading or fiddling on the internet


4. The baby and/or toddler, usually AND, will wake up early. Not just at 6:30 if they usually get up at 7, but there will be a 4:30 am wake up.

5. Children will cry. Daddy being gone will just throw them over the loop, and they will be unable to control themselves. There will be sorrowing and pain in the embassy of Spain (sorry, Madeline and the Bad Hat just seemed to fit there).

6. The phone will ring and ring. I don’t do phone. So, just to add one more thing, the phone will ring off the hook (not that it has a hook, it’s a cellphone) for at least one of the days.

7. Something crucial to leaving the house will be lost before you need to go. Will it be keys, someone’s shoes, a necessary school book? The suspense is killing me.

8. No matter how hard you try, the children will consume every second of time that you will attempt to straighten up the house in. Just when you notice that everyone is doing fine, and you could get some dishes done, BAM, the baby will start crying or the toddler will try to put the baby in a box or someone will need help with math. It’s science.

9. The weather will prevent you from going outside to save your sanity. It might be very cold or rainy or windy, but it will be something, and you will be inside.

10. You will foolishly plan 32 projects to do in all your free time in the evenings (which you will use to exhaustedly waste time reading novels or Facebook and Twitter because you’re too tired out to make good choices) and then feel unreasonable guilt at your inability to complete them.

11. You will plan elaborate dinners that the husband doesn’t like, and then end up just running through Wendy’s because the children didn’t finish their school and they cried all afternoon and you forgot some ingredient at the store anyway and you didn’t get the bread made so you have no side dish to go with the food.

12. You will struggle with the envy that comes when your husband texts you gorgeous pictures of his walks on the beach while you are struggling to walk across the living room floor because the baby threw all the board books off the shelf. Again.

13. You will struggle with the envy that comes when the cleaning lady comes for the people across the street.

14. You will struggle with eating chips and candy instead of real food because again, tired and bad choices.

15. You will also struggle to remember that he will be tired when he gets home because it just doesn’t seem fair that he gets to be tired, too, when he hasn’t had to cook, clean, or have people ask him if they can watch a movie approximately 437 times.

But then, he’ll come home, the people will rejoice, you will go to the bathroom by yourself again, things will return to normal, and you will forget how crazy it was last time until the next time he calls you on a Friday and says he’s leaving Monday.

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All the things

It’s a new year, and so, I feel compelled to do all the things. I’ve seen probably a half dozen courses/groups/challenges for the new year, and I want to be in with all of them. I have lofty ambitions and ideals for the life that I believe that I could craft if I were only organized and disciplined enough. But I do not live in a vacuum. Sometimes it is not a failure of organization or discipline but a result of the environment. My expectations too often are set on perfect when I live in an imperfect, sinful world. So, I’ve narrowed the groups I’m participating in to one. I’ve resisted the urge to download many, many checklists and challenges. I’ve joked to my family that my word for the year should be “no” because with two little boys, that’s a word that I can see myself sticking with for the long term. But no is also for me. It’s a word to use when we have too many activities in a week. It’s a word for when I’m tired and want to be discouraged but I need to do the next thing. It’s a word for when we do need to stop activity and just rest. It’s a word for stopping the onslaught of the urgent. It’s a word for myself when I’m tempted to let spiritual and physical disciplines slide. It’s a word for when I’d rather just sit on my phone than pray and work.

But words and groups and resolutions and goals and wishes while sometimes good and powerful right now are really nothing in eternity. Unless the Lord builds the house those who build it labor in vain (Psalm 127:1a). I have a lot of things I want to do and be and build and accomplish this year, and I pray that they are in line with what God is building. But if they are not, I pray that they would all go by the wayside in order to build that which He has planned. Praying that 2017 would be a year that honors God and brings Him glory in my life and the lives of my family. Even if it doesn’t look organized while we do it.

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Frances gives us permission to be whiny

It’s choir concert week here, so with dress rehearsals and extra practices and two performances, everyone here is TIRED. In addition, Bryan was gone from Monday to Thursday evening. Unrelated, a week or two ago, Micah got the entire ¬†Frances book collection on cd to listen to during quiet time. On it, we have Frances and the New Baby or something of the sort. In that story, the incredibly spoiled Frances has a problem. Because of the new baby, her mother hasn’t had a chance to iron her favorite dress or buy raisins for her oatmeal. She begins by saying, “Things aren’t very good around here anymore, Mother,” and ends by saying she’s going to run away to under the dining room table. So earlier, Emma announced in her whiniest British accent, “Things aren’t very good around here anymore, Mother. I have to hold my brother while you make my food, and I have to do lots of school, and I have to do my own laundry.” I complained like Frances for Isaiah, “I have to wait 15 whole seconds for my milk, I have to be held by my sister instead of by you, Mother, and no one will let me crawl around on the kitchen floor after someone breaks a glass.” Then, Emma looked expectantly at me, and I said, “Things aren’t very good around here anymore, I think I’m going to run away to under the dining room table. There are many, many dishes to wash, and I have to fold several hundred pieces of clothing, in addition, people keep expecting me to make food for them five times a day. Yes, things are not very good around here anymore. I think I shall need a kiss from you, Isaiah.” And he gave me a little baby kiss and made it all better.

So, today, we’ve been imitating Frances and sighing over how things aren’t very good around here anymore, and tomorrow (or tonight when the older ones are at the concert), we will work at making things a bit better around here because even though Frances freed us up to whine a bit while we are tired and it is cloudy and windy and gearing up for our first snow of the season, to stay there is a dangerous thing. We must get up, we must work, we must do the things that are ours to do. And we must remember to be thankful for those things because although there is much to do, it is for the best of reasons: children, food, books, education, clothing. These are undoubtedly somethings for which to give thanks.

Tell me in your best British accent. Are things good around where you’re at?

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A Nice Relaxing Way to End the Evening

One of the most perfect ways to end the day is to take a walk in the evening. The night is cool and still. If it’s early enough, you can see the sunset. I love it. Or I did. Until this summer.
It was then that our nightly walks turned treacherous as legions of frogs and toads descended on our sidewalks in an attempt to warm their cold blooded bodies. I don’t know if it was the overly warm summer or the overly wet spring, but never have I seen such multitudes of amphibious creatures.

Hardly a block could be walked without unwelcome nocturnal creatures hopping under your feet. I lived in mortal fear of one hopping into my leg, or worse, stepping on one and hearing an unfortunate squish.

This led to a new cadence on our walks, instead of steady stepping, we would walk, pause, investigate a shadow, determine the best course around it, and then cautiously step past. No route near our home was hop free. I had to start using my phone as a flashlight to investigate.

This all would have been made simpler if frogs and toads had some modicum of intelligence and a predictable pattern of behavior, but no. Obviously, we were larger than they and could easily crush them. Beyond this, they are not camouflaged on the sidewalk. It would behoove them well to flee ahead of us in terror, but alas, only some would hop away while others like overly tired toddlers who want screen time held their ground. If they would just choose to either freeze or hop every time, it would have been extremely helpful. But that was asking too much, apparently.

Sometimes Emma would bring a stick along to shoo them out of the way, but it seemed to only make their behavior more erratic. Also, the thought of touching them with a stick grosses me out.

This is all to say that, although I probably won’t give up my evening walks until it gets too chilly for them (thankfully, not having a coat as I do, all amphibious creatures seem to have hibernated for the winter), treadmills do have their advantages.

Are you also skittish like a little girl?

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Identifying learning gaps

Some people get very worried when people homeschool their children that the children will have learning gaps. I think we all have learning gaps. I was in my 30s before I learned that dilemma didn’t have an n in it, something I learned incorrectly at public school. Beside that, things keep changing. Pluto is/is not a planet depending on who you talk to. I guess there’s a Southern Ocean now? The whole of Eastern Europe switched up AFTER we all memorized the USSR stuff. We always need to keep learning.

However, a great way to catch learning gaps is by simply talking with your children. For example:

Micah has his money bank in the school room and pulls out a dollar bill.

“Who’s that?”

“George Washington.”

“What’s he doing on my money?”

“He’s a president.”

“Does he live a long way from my house?”

“He’s dead.”

“From a laser beam?”

Obviously, we have a little educating to do here. 

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Sabbath Rest vs the To Do List

I’m prepping for school this fall. Never mind that Emma starts back to her co-op on Tuesday. Never mind that I started doing school anyway just because we needed to get some things done. This fall will be prepped for, it may just take until spring. I’m still working on redecorating the school room. It’s time to purge the household goods again to make them more manageable. I’ve been switching the kids’ clothes for fall weather. I guess what I’m trying to say is: I have a lot of things to do and I have negative time to get them done in. All these projects are due or past due.

Yet, I keep encountering stuff on Sabbath rest. It’s everywhere. So, I’m being told I need to rest. And, unfortunately, I deal with being told to do things about as well as my three-year-old.

Unrelated, his favorite thing right now is to tell me how much he loves me when I tell him to go to bed. “It’s time for nap.” “But I LOOOOOVE you.” He’s tricky, that one.

So, resting. I did it today. We went to church. We ate out. I took a nap. I took a walk. I watched a movie with the kids. I did load and start the dishwasher, but that’s it.

And I feel a little like Toad (From Tomorrow in Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel)

“Blah,” said Toad.

“I feel down in the dumps.”

“Why?” asked Frog.

“I am thinking about tomorrow.” said Toad.

“I am thinking about all of the many things that I will have to do.”

“Yes,” said Frog. “tomorrow will be a very hard day for you.”

Now, in the book, he decides that he will start on his to do list today so that tomorrow he can take life easy. But, I’m being asked to rest. And it’s sometimes hard to listen to that. But, unlike Toad, if I choose to work today, I will still work tomorrow. I have children. There are always things to do. It will never be done. So instead of following the call to try to get ahead, today, I rest in obedience. And obedience, in the end, will trump productivity and getting ahead because it’s reward is better than an organized home, it is peace and renewal.

What’s on your to do list for today? Do you take a Sabbath? What does it look like for you and your family?

Posted in Faith, Homeschool, Random | 1 Comment

Micah time

I just finished our three day practicum for our homeschooling program, Classical Conversations. I needed to attend to complete my tutor training for the class I will tutor next year. Since Emma would be at our church’s Bible camp, I had to sign the younger kids up for the kids’ camps. Hannah went to history camp, Isaiah hung out in nursery camp for naps (and not much else, he’s fond of mama right now), and Micah went to play camp.

Day 2, I started hearing about Micah in the morning. “Oh, Micah, he has a lot to say! What is this ‘Micah Time’? Is that something you have him do while you school the girls? We’ll encourage him to join the group, but he keeps going off to the corner to quietly read or play and he tells us it’s ‘Micah Time’.”

I laughed. Did I have a thing where Micah quietly read or played while I did school with the girls? Oh, that would be lovely, but no. The more I heard, the more I realized, he was playing them. He created this magical thing so that he wouldn’t have to participate in unfamiliar or undesirable tasks. It wasn’t malicious. It was born out of anxiety I’m sure, but I still clued them into his wiley ways, and the teen volunteers became quiet amused with Micah Play Time and Micah Mommy Time and Micah Coffee Time (I’m really not sure what happened here. I wouldn’t put it past him to con someone out of their coffee, though.)

By the end of the practicum, we’d walk through the halls and random people would call out, “Is it Micah Time?” like he was some tiny celebrity with his own catch phrase.

But really, I need this to work in my adult life.

Oh, you want a snack? Sorry, it’s Mommy Reading Time.

Oh dear, I can’t go to the dentist right now. It’s Mommy Spa Time.

Someone else will have to do those breakfast dishes. It’s Mommy Coffee Time.

How do I make this happen?

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Micah: Hey Mommy. I want to tell you a story from my mouth.

Me: Ok

Micah: Chapter 2, Micker Mater was going up a tree, and he found some bees. He got stung right in the bottom.
Mommy, this is an open eyes story.

Me: Sorry.

Micah: And then, Dicker and Jicker went in a fire truck and chased the bees away.
*starts singing a song*
*ruins up to nursing brother and yells “HONK!”*
I love you, Babyyyyyy! You’re my brother, and when you get bigger you will play with me!
*grabs baby’s foot and shakes it around*

Me: Micah, I need you to go out and find your sisters. Please.

I still love that kid.

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Children: God’s instrument of humility

We were sitting in church today. Bryan was ushering in back, and I had my posse with me, an entourage, if you will, of my favorite little people. Eventually, Isaiah was brought back to his daddy and I had Micah on my lap which is where he behaves best during church. He’s had a runny nose of late, and he kept wanting to pick the dried boogers. We sit up in front in church so beside the fact that nose picking is a disgusting occupation, it could also be distracting to others, so I reminded him many times not to pick his nose. Then, as we were singing the last song, he starts holding Hannah’s hand. I turn to look at this sweet sibling bonding moment only to witness him using Hannah’s finger to pick his nose. Later, recounting the story with Hannah, she remarked, “He really is a problem solver.” Only Hannah could appreciate someone’s problem solving abilities after being used as a human tissue.

What type of creative problem solving solutions do your children employ?

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