Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

An Open Letter to Future House

Dear Future House,

Please don't have burst pipes.  That seems to be the only thing potentially wrong with you, besides the amazing amount of bird poo on the floor and the fact that you lack all appliances ever.  We can work with those.  We've geared ourselves up for a huge weekend of cleaning and many thousands of dollars' worth of renovations.  We cannot, however, gear up for replacing burst pipes.  Or faulty AC.  Your natural gas, electric capacity, roof, outlets, and heat all seem to have gotten Rar's blessing, which is hard to come by, if you're a house.  But please don't have burst pipes.

We're pretty much ready to buy you, Future House.  The loan will more than likely work out, even though it's a different type of loan than my credit union could offer and got slowed down by an incompetent affiliate of our realtor but now seems to be in the hands of the right woman who supposedly will call us back later today or tomorrow morning.  But it seems promising!  Pending two inspections totaling $1100 (from two different inspectors, both of whom will inspect you with Rar and me present, but not Justin, because someone decided to go on a vacation business conference), we are so Moving Forward with you.

Future House, we love you.  You have an enormous lot, front but especially back, with tons of space for gardens and ponds of all kinds.  You are dog-ready.  Your rooms are big and, with our hookup, will be totally swank in a reasonable amount of time.  Your finished basement is a pretty awesome bonus.  We're going to get you new doors, windows, a fridge, an oven -- the works!  We'll even repaint you.  You're going to be worth double what we're paying for you now!  Wouldn't you like that, Future House?  You will love us!  We are very nice, and we will not trash you.  We will bring friends over to admire you!  You will be free of crummy housemates; just us.  And we're great.  We'll fill you with real furniture!  And not overwhelm you with crap!  We have a very simplistic but classy style.  We promise.

I promise you all this and more.  We're just a few steps away.  We'll even inspect you for termites before we move in.

Just please, don't have burst pipes.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Things I Discovered Today

  1. DiGiorno's Pizza and Cookies.  Two bakeable treats for the price of one (and a half, or so).  Why did I not think of this?!  It's basically a sleepover in a box.
  2. Less a discovery than a realization of that thing people say:  A certain group discount at a hotel was all booked, according to its reservation page.  I flipped out with sadness and rage.  Then I chilled out and I called the nice front desk man, asked for the discounted room with its friendly code, which he was more than happy to give!  Ask and you shall receive.  Or, the half-empty interpretation: hotels are sketchy places that charge what they want, when they want; and talking to a human being will probably come in handy.  I'm going to go with the ask and you shall receive one.
  3. For a few days now, including today, I am discovering what it's like to have fun teaching.  Awesome moments with the kids pop up more frequently now.  Kids write poems and things at home and then tell me about them and show them to me.  I send happy notes home when someone understands something really well.  I am teaching GRAMMAR with a FOLDABLE and it is the best. 
  4. Thanks PGCPS's Education Insight newsletter, I'm pretty aware of the fabulous things that happen in this county's school system.  And there are plenty of fabulous things.  One of them, I knew, was that there are some schools in our simple county that have lots of children in AP classes.  Hooray!, I always thought.  "From 2009 to 2010, PGCPS has increased the number of students participating in AP from 27 percent of seniors enrolled in AP courses to 35 percent," I read today.  Makes sense!  That's so great!  Until.  Until.  "Additionally, 24.6 percent of exams taken in 2009 scored a “3” or higher, and in 2010, that number grew to 26.3 percent."  The article goes on to quote College Board chairpeople who say that PGCPS is on an elite list of under 400 schools nationwide who have increased numbers of kids in AP classes AND increasing scores.  I don't think increasing from 24.6% to 26.3% of kids who were at least BARELY PASSING was what they had in mind.  Something tells me the College Board isn't praising the fact that just under 1 in 4 kids to just over 1 in 4 kids got the equivalent of a C or better.  Those percentages should be describing kids who got 5s.  I mean.  Come on.  If you're going to fail the test miserably, you shouldn't be allowed in the class.  I was on both sides!  I had NO business being in AP Euro, and my score showed it!  Someone kindly tell me, why are we "opening the doors to more children" ... to get 1s and 2s?  AP classes are for kids who can do "college-level work" (loosely defined).  If you bomb at college level work, don't be in college level classes!  Be in the level below: you know, high school.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Full circle

We considered apartments in Alexandria, shacks in Silver Spring, condos in Takoma Park, dumps in District Heights and Temple Hills, sprawling yards in Upper Marlboro, rolling gravelly hillsides in Bowie, and townhouses anywhere.   I tried to make Mt. Rainier and Hyattsville appealing.  He wanted to go farther to countryside, I wanted to go closer to friends and the city.  We both wanted a dog.  We toured and laughed and took notes and pictures and explored and found new hidden treasures with friends.  As we drove out the hours and hours for miles and miles, I remembered that there are plenty of for sale signs in our own backyard (ha!).  Why not here?, I planted.  He dismissed it, I went dancing, I came home and he was super psyched about finding our own little nook of Lanham.  It already was, and still is, the best and most reasonable of all compromises.  With family to the rescue, our meager budget (and lot size) can actually go pretty far in this totally acceptable community bridging city 20-somethings and country 60-somethings. 

After all that, we came back here.  If that isn't a metaphor for life, I don't know what is!


Sunday, March 13, 2011

All I'm going to do this week

is eat soft boiled eggs and spinach salads, work out and do seminar homework and laundry.  And teach some children, and try not to think about #15 with the bird on it.  (The email answer is clearly from a TNTP or TFA poster child or someone from upper middle class suburbia.  Here in lower class urbania, the children are not BEGGING for SOMEONE, ANYONE to teach them SOMETHING, ANYTHING like I was promised.)

Now that MSA Reading is over, I think I should teach grammar for 45 minutes a day, every day, to my classes of 4th and 5th graders.  Who's with me!

Also.  Charming, quiet, classy, convenient, affordable neighborhood: Please materialize.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

On houses needing fences

"I don't care if we have one neighbor behind us or something who sees our [stuff] but I don't want everyone driving by watching me pick up sticks all the time."


Friday, March 4, 2011

A discombobulated post

to go with my discombobulated day.  Yes, more discombobulated than usual.

So you know how I'm usually thinking about four or five dumb things and maybe one real thing at any given time?  WELL.  TODAY I was thinking of like eight or ten dumb things along with five or six real things.  My discom is so bobulated, it's not even funny.

Dumb things I was worried about today involved those silly daily errands that stress us all on some level, and today they included attempting to return non-burning Yankee Candles, missing a Rehoboth Beach (!!!) Groupon ( :'( ), mailing out my WARL donations, and eating right.  And scheduling a Lupus Foundation pickup, and finding things to donate to the Lupus Foundation (their emails plea the subject, "We desperately need clothing!" and the first line of the body of their emails proclaims, "We desperately need knick-knacks!").  Why do these "little things" that make up our days cause us so much strife!  Some days, this list gets checked off methodically and productivity reigns supreme.  Some days, even armed with list, you can't get yourself to accomplish things in a reasonable fashion, so you flail from one half-baked worry to another, not getting anything totally right.  Why is that!  Why, I say!

Medium things I worried about involved school.  I was prepared for a lot of things as part of this program: fighting children, absent parents, mean administrators waiting for someone with passion to change a crappy school culture.  I was very much not prepared to correct the teacher as she's teaching because she's teaching something that is incorrect -- on a regular basis.  She cares!  She means very well!  She is learning the ropes!  She is also, unfortunately, very often wrong.  What to do!  It is a sticky situation.  Also, something greater than a medium worry is the rapidly dwindling budget.  I think instructional positions are safe?  I'm not entirely sure?  So.  That is a concern.  I, for one, see great benefits in having, oh, a counselor, assistant principal, and media specialist (librarian, for those of us stuck in the 80s who still say "gym" instead of "physical education" (I, for one)).  Another (greater than) medium worry is this monster portfolio we have to put together.  I started last weekend, due in June.  I know.  But still.  It's a lot.

Real things I worried about were, I don't know, FINDING A PLACE TO LIVE.  Our time has come!  We can't handle this silly old shared house anymore.  We've been at our breaking point for a long time (it's a SHARED HOUSE) and we recently got a kick in the pants to move.  Places, money, failed appointments... wish us luck in this long and confusing process.  We accept wisdom but only realistic wisdom please (unless you are attaching $$$ to that unrealistic wisdom (eg, "You should live in Bethesda!")).

In a vague attempt to make reading this post worth your while, here is a recipe for a scrub that I wrote!  Making scrubs is my new thing.  I got totally obsessed the last time I had a day off.  I made a bunch from different sources (sketchy no-name websites to Whole Living!) and combined aspects from several to make my favorite!  Here you go.

1 c. brown sugar
1 T  ground oatmeal
1 tsp honey
1/4 c oil (I like almond oil!  I AM SO FANCY)
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix with a fork, pour into one of those glass jars you're always saving but you don't know why.  Rub on and rinse off in the shower!  Or just your hands at the sink.  I'm not really sure yet how real people use them.  All I know is once you massage it in, it's like you're scratching a deep itch that you never knew you had.  Mmm.