Monday, December 29, 2008

We have lousy carma

We made it six years. We've really tried to avoid this, but it's inevitable. Six years of marriage, and all the juggling, hand-wringing, and long discussions to work things out, and we can't avoid it any longer.

We're getting a car payment.

John totalled our car on the way to work day after Christmas. The roads were bad; he took his usual exit off the freeway and the car in front of him fishtailed, then stopped. He'd left a lot of distance between them but it wasn't enough considering she just stopped suddenly. We actually had the body shop do an estimate on the repairs. $7,998 - and he stressed that that was by no means final, since there was a lot of damage and he couldn't see parts of the engine clearly. Definitely a total loss.

I tried to convince John to go car-free for a while. I thought it would be an interesting social experiment, not to mention that it would save us over $400 a month (including a car payment, gas, insurance, maintenance, registration, etc.) I tried to bribe him with a new camera; no go. I don't know that I could really go without a car for 6-9 months - it would be really inconvenient - but it would have been interesting to try. I suppose I could just see how long I can go without driving, but I'm not really motivated to inconvenience myself without the reward of saving money.

So.

We bought a car today. It should be a good car, and I think we got a fair deal. The loan has a low interest rate. I HATE knowing that I am paying interest on something that is depreciating in value, but I like having a stereo and power locks that work.

And since we're fairly convinced that our other car was cursed, it's just as well that it's gone.

Right? Right.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Funny Odds and Ends

#1
Last night at work, my more advanced students read an adapted version of the O. Henry story, "The Gift of the Magi." As you may recall, it's the story of a young, poor couple, Della and Jim, who each sell their most prized possession to buy a Christmas present for the other person. They discover in the end that their gifts are useless, as he sold his watch to buy combs for her hair and she sold her hair to buy a chain for his watch.

So, my students are reading along, and the tutor asked John (my forty-something Korean student) to read the characters' dialogue. John starts reading, and he used this very high, very dainty voice for Della and a very deep, manly voice for Jim. It was very, very funny to hear "Oh, Jim, you still like me, don't you? I'm still me, aren't I?" coming from a Korean man reading in a girly voice with a thick Korean accent. The other students were nearly rolling on the floor. I so wish I'd had a tape recorder.

#2
I'm trimming chicken Thursday morning, getting ready to stick it in the freezer, when Trea drags over a kitchen chair and climbs up to supervise. She observes me cutting chicken fat off the breasts with my shears for several moments, then comments, "Girl, you're fast!"

Why thank you.

#3

This actually happened a while back, but it was pretty funny. We've decided to start giving Trea a tiny allowance and teaching her about tithing. So, Sunday morning comes, and I give her ten dimes. Then I explain that we are going to take one dime and give it the bishop of our church so that he can help people. And she says, "Mommy, you can give all my dimes to the bishop to help people." I'm getting all misty-eyed and choked up over how adorable and generous she is, when John walks over and ruins it. "Trea," he says, "that's money. You can use it to buy stuff."

"Oh," Trea responds as she pulls back her dimes. "Well, I need it to buy a Barbie Dream Castle."

#4

Talked to the detective in charge of the Case of the Stolen Car the other day. He got a fingerprint and has a suspect he is looking for. The guy's name is Justice.

John has long had a theory that giving your child a "virtue" name - Hope, Charity, etc. - guarantees they will be the exact opposite. Which is why he won't ever let me name a baby Chastity. Or Justice.

#5
Adia is very funny, but it's not the type of thing that translates well into writing. We are endlessly amused by her attempts to sing, to boss Trea, and to generally make her wishes known. I often get the feeling that she is using language just to see if it works (if I say drink, they get me water! That's cool! Wonder if it will happen again. . . .it did! Wow. I'll have to remember that next time I'm actually thirsty).

I also get the feeling that she is certain she has been talking for months, and the tall idiots in the house have finally started to acquire language.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I have a brilliant idea

Outsourcing is a problem for our economy, right? So, let's start saving the U.S. government and the states some money with outsourcing. We can start with prisons. Anyone committed of a crime with a sentence of, oh, more than 2 years (subject to a cost-benefit analysis, but I think that is a long enough sentence to offset the cost of the plane ticket) gets sent to prison in a developing country. Thailand comes to mind. We'll pay them slightly more than the cost of actually maintaining the prisons; given what I've heard about Thai prisons, and the much lower cost of labor and food, we'll still save boatloads of cash. Maybe we can arrange some prisons in Spanish-speaking countries, or African nations. The prisoners would come back bilingual! Maybe we'll make it so they only have to spend a couple of years there, and then they can apply to finish their sentences here and take advantage of educational and vocational training programs, since I do think that is important. Still, it's a win-win. We'll save money and the host countries will make money.

And honestly, I think most American prisons are a little too comfortable. This program, though, will be reserved for multiple offenders, or those convicted of truly heinous crimes (rapists, pedophiles, murderers, etc.)

I think I should write my representatives. Who's with me?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What Happened

So, Saturday night I got home around 6. Made dinner, put the kids to bed, decided I was too exhausted to go to the work-related function I'd planned to attend (Saturday was crazy busy). John and I watched some TV and went to bed.


Sunday, we headed out the door to go to Church, which starts at one, and the car was gone. Trea noticed first - she turned around and asked John where the car was. He thought she was joking. Then we looked up and realized it was not in our parking space. We filed a police report and still made it to part of church. The detective who took the report said all we could was wait; most cars turned up in a few days, sometimes wrecked, sometimes not.

We only carry liability insurance on the car, so there wasn't any help coming from that direction (the car's old and paid for, it would be ridiculous to pay for comprehensive). We never really made an effort to lock it, because the automatic locks are broken, we are lazy, and for real, who steals a 12-year-old car with no stereo?

Sunday morning at 1:15 am, I get a call that they've found the car. Thing is, they want me to go meet the police officers right then. Um, ok, we only have one car, the busses aren't running all that frequently at that hour (if at all? I'm still not sure) and if I don't go get it, the car gets towed and impounded. Which means I'd have to pay a whole lot of money to get it back. Turns out, it's only a little over a mile away, so I walked. I was almost there when a cop pulled up and gave me a ride the rest of the way (which is how I ended up in the backseat of a police car at 1:30 am. It is really, really cramped back there. I feel sorry for tall criminals.) When we got there, there were no less than four cops just sitting around - why one of them couldn't have picked me up, I'll never know.

So, the funny thing is, the car wasn't really abandoned - at least it didn't look like they intentionally abandoned it. A security guard for the apartment complex had noticed it idling (yes, they left it running, and the cops didn't even think to turn it off). He checked with the resident who was assigned that space, who said the car wasn't his, and then he called the cops. It was a good thing too, because I think they were leaving town, and we'd never have gotten it back. There was a Gatorade bottle in the cupholder, a woman's bag in the back seat, and two suitcases in the trunk. The bag and the suitcases were stuffed - there were even prescription bottles. They dusted for prints and took the suitcases and stuff back to the crime lab hoping to get a print. The cops think the people who stole it probably just stopped to get something from an apartment and then were taking off. I haven't heard anything from them yet but I really, really hope they catch someone. I'm not normally a vindictive or revengeful person but this time I would love to see someone pay. They took the kids' carseats - which sucked because they are not cheap to replace - but that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was the look on Trea's face when I told her the carseat was gone (it came up and I couldn't avoid telling her); I think she just had this moment where she realized Mom and Dad didn't have control over this. Not that I think she's traumatized or anything, but she was genuinely upset and it made me really angry that at 4, she had to experience that.

So, car's back, we have new carseats, and all is well.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I have a very exciting story. . .

and it involves me in the back of a police car at 1:30 am, but right now I'm exhausted so it will have to wait.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

This is my one hundredth post

So I should probably say something profound.

Hmm, I got nothing.

So. Saturday night we splurged and ordered Thai take-out from the place up the street. The guy who owns it is SO nice, very friendly, he's Thai and his wife is Cambodian, and their food is awesome. I was eating Massaman curry when Adia walked over and made her "um, um" sounds, which means "I want a bite." I told her it was hot. She insisted. I gave her a teeny bit of curry with some rice, and waited for her to spit it out.

Nope. She ate it. And asked for more.

Adia loves spice. She won't eat ground beef without some taco seasoning on it. She won't eat bland scrambled eggs. I wonder if the flavor of food a pregnant woman eats affects the amniotic fluid? Hmmm.

Trea, on the other hand, does not even like black pepper. But, aside from an aversion to spicy foods, she's a really good eater. She'll try almost anything, and she eats most of the things I cook on a regular basis.

I'm not sure how I got lucky with good eaters, since I was the world's pickiest child. I outgrew it, though.

We're getting portraits done tomorrow. I need Trea and Adia to cooperate, look at the camera, and smile at the same time. Wish me luck.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Everything but the kitchen sink

I always mean to post, then I get busy, then I try to post in a logical, organized way. . .and it's just too hard. I do NOT have time to live my life and record it in an orderly fashion. So, here's the latest.

The Kids

Adia is just a little over 20 lbs. She talks CONSTANTLY (she knows somewhere around 50 words). She learned to say "trick or treat" REALLY fast. I think she, like Trea last year, thought we had been holding out on her. All you have to do is knock and say "trick or treat" and you get candy??? She is most definitely a toddler - we hear "no" a lot. She's part monkey, and gets in to everything. My house is always a mess and it's mostly her fault. She's also super cute when she is being affectionate, and tonight she said "I love you" to me without any prompting at all. Her favorite song is "I'm Bringing Home My Baby Bumblebee." She tries to sing along.

Trea is cute, and a drama queen. No idea where she got that. She says a lot of very funny things. The other day, we got off the bus, and the bus driver lowered it for us. It makes a hissing sound, and Trea turns to me to announce "Mom, the bus has GAS!" I don't think the bus driver heard her. She also has her very own special version of "Called to Serve." It goes something like this:

Called to serve him, every king of glory
Joseph, Mary, something something name

She loves to sing, even if she has to make up the words. She loves going to the library for storytime, and she loves her once-a-week swim lesson with her cousin.

Work

My forty-something Korean student, John, who is very serious looking, told me the other night that he is "down with that." He's been learning English from his 15-year-old again. It totally cracked me up.

One of my tutors gave me the nicest compliment a week ago. She told me that she thought I was much better than my predecessor. To be fair, the previous specialist was balancing two jobs and single motherhood, but it still made me feel good. I told my tutor that it really meant a lot to me; I have only a bachelor's and the other teacher has a master's, so I was intimidated by taking over for her. And then the tutor said "It's not the degree, it's the commitment." And I almost teared up. I'm just really glad it shows, you know? Because I really put a lot into my lessons, and try new things, and even if they don't always work the way I planned, the effort is there. And I'm glad she can tell. She said it made her feel like trying more, too.

That said, work occasionally drives me a little batty. The problem with volunteers is that you have to be really careful with how you correct them. So when they ignore your carefully planned lesson and do what they THINK you want done, instead of reading the instructions, it can be frustrating. But you can't just rip into them about READING THE FREAKIN' LESSON PLAN. You have to be nice, and tactful. And then come vent on the blog.

Other

John has a new calling - he's assistant ward clerk over finances. It's perfect for him - a few hours a week, no need to organize other people. His work is planning layoffs. Only 2-3%, but still. We're hoping that his lack of seniority will actually help, since it's much cheaper to keep him than some of the other people who have been there a long time. If they go strictly by seniority then we may have to find him a new job. I think we'll be ok with our savings, food storage, my job, and whatever severance or unemployment he's able to get.

So that's it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I think the word I am looking for is "memorable"

Happy birthday to Trea! She's four, and so cute and fun (most of the time). We had a pretty normal day but the fun started when Dad got home from work. She decorated her own cake and unwrapped her gifts, and generally had a good time. I'll post pictures tomorrow.

And the election! Wow. Did you see Obama's speech? Did you notice the call-and-response type moments? Interesting. I'm excited that he won - I also have a little bit of an "what have we DONE?" feeling. He's unproven. I hope he can deliver.

Very exciting day.

Monday, October 20, 2008

53 weeks later

So, a week AFTER the one-year anniversary of us coming home, I'm finally getting around to blogging about it. There are days when I have to remind myself that I really did live in a foreign country for nearly 18 months; it seems so long ago. There are days when a certain smell or sound will bring back a crush of memories, and I wish I were still in Khon Kaen, lying in a huge bed, cuddling with Adia, Trea, and John, while listening to the rain pounding the roof. There are still times, mostly when I'm doing the dishes, when I feel a profound gratitude for things like air conditioning and hot, clean water. I still get giddy about my dishwasher and four-burner stove (with an OVEN!) and the shiny new energy-efficient washer/dryer. I'm grateful for all the modern conveniences and grateful that I know I can live without them (not without some whining, but still, I can cope).

And I really, really miss my friends. Nit Noi, Nok, Ged, and Earn, who made going to church worthwhile. They always made an effort to talk to me - at first they just said hi, and then, as they got brave enough to speak English, we got to be friends. Nit Noi has a son who will turn two this month, and we used to commandeer one room of the church building and make it the nursery. We spent a lot of Sundays sitting on the floor of that room, nursing and talking. Nok always held Adia for me. Ged was sweet and friendly and, once she got over being scared, spoke English much better than she gave herself credit for. Earn spoke the least amount of English but never let it stop her from participating in any conversation. It was Earn who told us patiently explained to us how to catch the lizard we knew was in our kitchen (the big one that kept pooping on the counter); we never did see him, but I will never forget hearing Earn explain that she already had one lizard skinned and frozen in the freezer at the church . . . There's only ice in our church freezer now.

I miss our neighbors too. The old lady next door, who was soooo friendly and nosy too :). Teacher Jaw, our neighbor across the street, who babysat Trea and took care of both girls, at different times, while I was teaching. Teacher Jaw was the Thai grandma my girls never had. She and our next-door neighbor used to eat dinner together several times a week, and sometimes Teacher Mam, Teacher Jaw's sister, would come, and other women I didn't know. Teacher Jaw always talked to me (as though if she said it slowly enough I'd get it eventually, and sometimes I caught a word or two. Mostly John interpreted). It's strange that I felt more of a sense of community there, where I couldn't hold a real conversation with anyone, than I do here. I don't even know the names of our neighbors across the hall. I rarely see any of our neighbors, and no one lingers outside on the porch, let alone cooking and eating for hours at a time.

That said, I am glad we came back. They are getting stricter with their immigration regulations, and making it harder for teachers to get licensed. I didn't like having to work under the table, and yet I couldn't get sponsored for a proper license. I don't miss driving in the crazy traffic, and it's kind of nice to be able to talk to people in my own language. This is my country, and my comfort zone, and it's . . . comfortable.

We'll always be glad we went. I don't think I would have my job if I didn't have that experience, and it helps me relate to my students. John doubts he would have gotten his job without going to Thailand - it set him apart, and his boss knew, from her own experiences living abroad, that it takes a certain adaptability and patience.

And it was great fodder for stories. Lots of stories, to tell Trea and Adia, and someday we'll take them back and show them where it all happened.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Totally unexciting

Today is the one-year anniversary of us coming home from Thailand. I'm too tired to blog effectively about it tonight, but maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Watch out for the karma bus, dude

To the guy who found my purse today, after I dropped it in the Wal-Mart parking lot:

Thank you for turning my wallet into Customer Service. I really do appreciate not having to replace my license, medical insurance cards (for me and the kids), library card, transit pass, and other miscellaneous cards. It's ok that it took you ten hours to turn it in; I'm sure you had to run home and try the credit and debit cards (cancelled them already, sucker!). Oh, and you're welcome to the five dollars and change you took before turning in the wallet.

I do wish you'd turned in the purse as well, of course, but now I get to buy a new one. I hope you enjoy my glasses (although it's a very weak prescription, and they are pretty feminine frames.) There's some lip balm, two pens, and a bunch of receipts. You're welcome to those too. Try to cash either of those checks, though, and I will nail your butt to the proverbial wall.

By the way, the nice elderly lady at the Customer Service desk is totally on to you. She told me you looked guilty.

Have a nice day!

Me

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bet you're jealous

Want to know what we spent on gas this month?

$84.53

And since we pre-paid for two annual public transit passes last month, we didn't have the usual $40 or so in transit fares.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Can someone just shoot me now?

Trea had her first dance class tonight. She's been begging for months to dance; I called around to some studios, but it seemed ridiculous to spend $35-40 a month, pay a registration fee, a costume fee, a recital fee, and buy her a bunch of dance clothes. She's three. She changes her mind a lot. I'm not making an investment until I'm sure she really likes it.

So, I found a class in our community learning catalog. Six weeks for $39, no performance, no special clothes. The class description was "basic creative dance steps in a fun, positive, and nurturing environment" and stated that children would learn "creative skills of expression." Excellent. I took dance at Trea's age, and I learned "I'm a little Teapot" and danced around with a scarf. I loved it. She can try it and if she hates it, no big deal.

I told Trea in the morning that we were going to dance class that afternoon. She asked every half hour after that, if it was time for her class. She told everyone who sat by us on the bus, TRAX, and the bus again that she was going to dance class. They were all thrilled to hear it (actually, everyone was very nice to her.) She kept talking about dancing with a boy, and how she HAD to wear a skirt, not pants, because the boys wanted to see her dance in a skirt (I really don't know where that came from, but I kept telling her that her class might be all girls, and she kept insisting that there would be a boy there for her to dance with. Whatever.)

So. We arrive at the high school, and the teacher starts talking. First, it's ten weeks instead of six; oops! Not that big of a deal, except that we were also thinking of doing swim lessons down the line, and her cousin wants to take with her, and I don't want a bunch of classes dictating our lives. But okay. Then, there IS a performance. Ugh. Don't want to deal with that. No reason, I just don't. Then, all the other little girls showed up in little pink leotards. Some even had tights and shoes and little skirts. Some of them had tights but no shoes, which is a bad, bad combo with a wooden dance floor. Trea wanted to wear her black tulle skirt with sequins on it; you're probably wondering why she has such a skirt. It was a gift from Ariana, my old roommate, who whips stuff like this out in her spare time. It was intended for dress-up, and has been frequently used for that purpose. Today it was also used for dance. I paired it with a green t-shirt. I talked her into forgoing the matching cape. I thought she looked cute, but she, um, stood out amidst the sea of pale pink.

Then the class starts. The teacher spends several minutes teaching them first position. And you can tell she really thinks they need to know this, because she keeps drilling it. "What position is this? Remember? It's FIRST POSITION. Can you say that? FIRST POSITION. " She even went around and corrected them. They are THREE. Then she moved on to plies (where's my little accent mark?) and simple movements. She even had them do leaping over a piece of paper on the floor. Some of them can barely hop; running and leaping is a bit much to ask, you know?

Fifteen minutes into the class, a little boy and his mom walk in. Trea had to call out to me, "Mama! Look, it's a boy! This is a boy!"

Yes, sweetheart, I know.

The intro to ballet was followed by a trip to the water fountain, because you know 3 year olds can't last an hour without a drink. The teacher lined them all up, placed their hands on the kid in front of them, and made train noises as they inched towards the door. They almost made it before one little girl slipped and tripped up three girls behind her, and they all came to a halt. A total train wreck. I secretly think the teacher was killing time. I would too.

You know the worst part of it? The music. Would YOU choose the theme from St. Elsewhere for a class for 3-4 year olds? Would you choose it for anything? NO!

I don't get where the fun and creative part of it is. After class I asked the teacher if this was a typical class, and she said it was. I expressed my concerns about it being so structured, and she said, "This is what I do."

Thanks for the reassurance. I don't think you have any clue how to teach preschoolers, by the way.

The teacher approached all the parents after class and admitted that the class was overly full, there were 15 kids and that was too many, and she needed some to switch to Thursday. I obviously can't switch, but I might drop.

Only Trea LOVED it.

Dang it.

Two citizens down and 1,209,480,000 to go

We have no more openings at my school. Sorry, I know so many of you were eager to work there - but the positions have all been filled. We now have M, a BYU grad who majored in Spanish and has a TESOL cert from the U; I like her, though I wish she'd stop snickering when she hears me attempt Spanish. I know it's probably hard NOT to laugh, but some appreciation of how difficult it is would be appreciated. We also have A, who used to be a tutor for our school way back in the day, and liked it so much she lived in three different countries as an ESL teacher before coming back to the U.S. for her master's. She's partway through a Ph.D program. A little intimidating, all that education, but she's very nice and not at all more-educated-than-thou. I like her.

Rounding out the staff is our lone representative of the male gender, R. R is Iranian by birth and speaks Farsi, Arabic and a little Turkish. He has a master's degree and oodles of experience. He also has a smile reminiscent of Vizzini in "The Princess Bride," the one he's wearing right before he keels over dead. He squints his eyes and smiles, quite literally, ear to ear and reveals both top and bottom teeth. Fortunately he has fine teeth, if Phineas went around smiling like that I might be ill. Phineas is not overly cheery, though, so no worries. (Speaking of Phineas, he's not really my tutor anymore, as B "borrowed" him for one of her students. I think she thinks she is going to give him back - she hasn't put him on her matching sheet and keeps asking me if it's ok for her to use him. As far as I'm concerned, he's not mine anymore - I don't have students for him. He really belongs to her. But I don't think she wants permanent custody. Hmmm.) Back to R - he's really very nice, I think he just tries too hard. You tell him, "This is the copy machine" and he responds "That's great! Fantastic!" So he's a little over-the-top but infinitely preferable to the candidate who flamed out after only one night, totally unable to do the job, and besides that her personality had us all wondering if perhaps she had taken some Valium by mistake.

Also, FANTASTIC news, another one of my students passed her citizenship test yesterday. This is proof that miracles really do happen. I really wonder if it was just pity on the part of the examining officer - her spoken English is marginal, her written English is worse, and she has a horrible time remembering facts. She claims to have dementia but we don't have it documented. She's been with the school five years though, and never made a level gain, so certainly SOMETHING is going on. At any rate she's got her citizenship now, and I am crazy happy for her. I didn't really want to go to work yesterday - I've got a cold, Adia's got a cold, I was tired and congested and achy - but that made my day.

Also, my Somalian student passed HIS citizenship test! I didn't even know he was studying for it. He was super excited yesterday, telling me about his swearing in date, and how he thought coming to class was helping him because he was able to read the test manual on his own. He said he studied all weekend for it. I also asked him if his wife was interested in coming to school. He said yes, but they have two young children and didn't know what to do with them if they both studied. I told him there were a couple of options, and we should at least get her application in and on the wait list for babysitting. He seemed surprised that we provided babysitting, and also really excited. It sounds like she would like to come. I know firsthand how lonely it can be in a foreign country, and I wasn't even home with kids all day. I think there's a community here of Somalians but if we could offer her a little change of pace, and a chance to improve her English, that would be awesome.

The depressing thing is, our waiting list is so freaking long right now. It was 165 students last I checked, and I think we did 5 or 6 intakes last night alone. It's discouraging to feel like we double our capacity and still not serve everyone. I hate telling applicants about the waiting list - they always look sad and discouraged. Blah.

Funny thing that happened last night. . . A is learning to do intakes, and I was observing. M wandered over to chat. It wasn't a good time, really, because we were about to start the intake, but she stayed to watch. Only she must not have realized that we were doing an intake, or what that is, because as soon as A asked a question the applicant couldn't answer, M translated! It wasn't that big of deal - the student was very basic and we knew that - but we had to explain to M that she couldn't translate what is essentially a placement test. It was funny.

More about the girls tomorrow.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

And they didn't even make me go through customs!

In an effort to help Kate recruit teachers to fill all the empty slots at our school, I contacted an old instructor (who remembered me, yeah!) and asked her to send the job announcement to students and new graduates who fit the requirements. She was happy to help. Yesterday, I received an application - which right there tells you that she didn't read very carefully, because the instructions clearly indicated that inquiries and application materials were to be sent to Kate.

In her cover letter, she stated that she is majoring in Geography/Global Studies, with minors in TESOL and International Development. Ok, so far so good. Then she wrote, "I have studied abroad in Hawaii, Country A, Country B, and Foreign City A."

A geography major is claims to have studied abroad in Hawaii. Heck no.

Monday, September 01, 2008

My First Political Post

I just watched Barack Obama accept the nomination (I know, I'm late, I was at work when it happened and I forgot to record it on the DVR). He made big promises - to get out of Iraq, responsibly; to create five million new jobs; to reduce taxes for 95% of Americans; to end dependence on foreign oil in ten years; to invest 150 million dollars over ten years in clean energy. He addressed healthcare, education, the environment, and the economy. He was inspirational. He looked like a president, someone who could go abroad and not embarass my country. He sounded educated, but not entitled.

I don't know if he can deliver on everything he has promised. It sounds impossible: deliver everything you want, and at a lower price. It sounds too good to be true.

But I have to vote for him. I don't have a choice. McCain is too aggressive in foreign policy. He is too invested in the "trickle-down economics" idea to change. He doesn't know how many houses he owns. He is not the man I want to be president of my country.

So I'm taking a chance on Obama. It's like all the TV shows and movies where they're stuck on an island, and they can stay on the island and be safe, but miserable, until the coconuts run out or the pirates/Others/wild animals get them, or they can make a break for it. They can build a raft and strike out for the ocean, and they might die but it's better than being stuck on the island and doing nothing. Obama is the big gamble. Just like the escape in Castaway, where he plans as best he can, choosing the best time of year and the right tide, and builds the best raft possible, and then goes for broke. Because dying out on the ocean, and knowing you tried, is better than the safety and misery of the island.

In the movie, he gets rescued (although it's not exactly a happy ending). I don't need to be "rescued" but I need to take this chance, so I can tell my kids I tried, I had faith, I took risks.

(I know it's not a great analogy, but it's better than the first one I thought of, where I was mentally comparing voting to ordering in a restaurant, and McCain was the entree you know you can tolerate but don't love, and Obama is the exotic dish that looks great but might be awful. Cause, you know, somebody would be offended by that, and also, eating something so-so for four years would be better than eating something you hated for four years so it kind of comes out in McCain's favor, that one).

Election Day is Trea's fourth birthday. I didn't vote in the last one (I was busy giving birth). I will vote in this one.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Where did that come from?

My nieces (aka babysitters extradanoire) have gone back to school *sob*. My sister-in-law (their mother) has graciously agreed to watch my kids from the time I leave for work until one of her girls can get home and take over. I think this is partially motivated by a desire to help me out, and partially motivated by the fact that both girls a) owe her money and b) are less likely to borrow even more money in the future if they have a steady income. Enter me and my kids.

So, I loaded the kids up the car yesterday - it's only across the street, but it seemed silly to walk over, drop off the kids, and walk back to get my car - and as I turned the key I noticed the car was nearly on empty.

Me: Oh dang it, the car needs gas.
Trea: Mommy, are you talking to yourself?
Me: Yes.
Trea: You really need to talk to someone about that talking.

What the heck?

Then, I come from work, and John tells me that he noticed a mark on Trea's leg. He asked her where she got it.

Trea: Do you want to know how it happened?
John: Yes.
Trea: Once a upon a time, me and mommy and Adia went shopping. And Adia kicked me. That's how it happened.

Except we haven't been shopping, of late, and Adia (teeny tiny thing that she is) probably couldn't leave a mark even if she did kick Trea.

Work is looking better. The capable, qualified, very nice person Kate hired to work on Mon/Wed has agreed to also work on Tues/Thurs, which means we won't have a gap when my coworker retires at the end of this week. The search is on for a replacement for the girl going to grad school. Kate has received many resumes, and three of them are actually qualified. Woo-hoo!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Drama Drama Drama

As I may have mentioned before, we have three teachers leaving the school. Kate, so far, has hired one replacement. It's not like she's not trying to hire replacements, it's just not that easy. Apparently there is a dearth of qualified ESL teachers who want to work 17 hours a week, some of it at night, and deal with volunteers not showing, students not showing, never having as much money as we'd like, etc. Go figure. Kate actually hired a teacher who backed out, then hired another teacher who didn't work out for reasons I will not go into. Then, another teacher gave her two-week notice last night. I've been at my job for almost four months, and in a few weeks I will be the third most-senior staff member (including the director) out of a staff of seven. That's a little nuts.

I'm trying to convince Kate that this is a great opportunity, that the experience she's losing in her staff will be compensated for by the enthusiasm of newly hired - and probably newly graduated - teachers. So far it's not working.

On a separate note, I am outraged with the Criminal Justice system. One of my students is studying Civics (i.e.. preparing for the Citizenship test) as a condition of her probation. I called her PO today to make sure we were meeting the requirements, because she was told to take the class until it was finished. And they referred her to us, an open-entry, open-exit program (therefore, no start, and no finish). Her PO basically told me that he's not sure what the judge wanted, exactly; that she should attend until she's off probation (umm, ok, I don't know what she did but couldn't that be a realllly long time?) and that the judge ordered the class because he saw her immigration status and figured it couldn't hurt. WTH? I don't know her immigration status but I'm thinking she's probably legal or they'd be threatening deportation. So, even though she's (presumably) legal, he saw the brown skin and figured she needed educating? Give me a break. This is ridiculous. I wish I could find out exactly what she did, because she seems very nice and meek and her attendance has been good. I just don't see the lawbreaker.

Rant over.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Attention, London 2012 Olympics

We have a suggestion for you.

Olympic fencing would be so much more interesting, John says the other night, if it weren't just straight back-and-forth movement in a confined area. So I started thinking, why don't they hold Olympic fencing competitions on movie sets? The qualifying rounds should be held in the room where Inigo Montoya killed the six-fingered count in "The Princess Bride." Semi-finals, in the cave where Captain Jack Sparrow killed Captain Barbosa in the first "Pirates of the Caribean." Medal rounds will take place at the tops of the Cliffs of Insanity.

Who wouldn't want to watch that? Extra points awarded for witty repartee.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Good things all around

I had a new tutor start on Thursday night. She is wonderful. First off, she showed up, on time. Already she is ahead of the tutor who was supposed to start on Tuesday night, and failed to show (and that tutor is also a member of the board, so that makes things. . . awkward). Second, this new tutor, M., is engaging and flexible (um, hey, I know it's your first night, but could you take two extra students? Really? Thanks!). Third (and this is the absolute icing on the cake) she's a speech pathologist. She is exceptionally skilled at teaching people to make sounds they don't know how to make, thereby improving their pronunciation and allowing them to be understood. Unbelievably useful when you're teaching ESL. I'm hoping to pick up some tips from watching her and talking to her.

Also, one of my students passed her citizenship test on Thursday. It was her second attempt, so if she'd failed, she'd have to start all over. I'm so, so, so happy for her. She's so sweet and really wanted this. I got several huge hugs and a couple of kisses on the cheek from her on Thursday night. If I can just get my other student, who retakes the test in three weeks, to pass, I won't ask for any more miracles this year.

Finally . . . happy birthday Dad! I love you!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Also. . .

I forgot to mention that we sold the old washer & dryer for $50 to one of those places that refurbishes/repairs them. So that money counts as a discount on the new one, sort of.

Work

We do a lot of testing at work. We test students when they first enter our program, to find out what level they are and group them with other students at similar levels. Then we test them every sixty hours to measure their progress. Some students get really nervous about the testing but most take it in stride.

Some of our students have advanced to the point where the test we use doesn't really measure their progress, since it's designed for basic students. For these more advanced students, Kate has started offering the TABE (Test of Adult Basic Education). This is a test commonly used in adult education programs for native speakers. Students are tested in reading and math, and given a score and a grade equivalent. If they get a grade equivalent of 4.5, that's halfway through fourth grade. A 6.1 is the beginning of sixth grade. I'm not sure exactly how they decide what is normal for each grade but I'm assuming it's an average of some kind.

So, several of my students took this test. They all got respectable scores, particularly since none of them had much of a chance to go to school. One student blew us away. She scored a 12.9 in math! And she only went to elementary school in her native Mexico. She told me she gets really frustrated with her co-workers at the restaurant because they are always using calculators for the simplest things. Um, ok, not everyone has a calculator in their head. It makes me wonder what she would have done, had the opportunity been there for her to go to college. I don't think she's unhappy, she seems pretty content with her life, but it makes me wonder all the same.

In other news. . . we have major staff turnover lately. Seventy-one percent, to be exact. That's in the last year, but we have THREE open positions right now, out of a staff of seven. We're trying to figure out why. Kate's been in charge for three years, so I doubt it's her (although she did say that maybe people were just holding out for her to loosen up, and had finally given up hope). Emilie's only been around for a six months or so; I've been around for three. Not sure who to pin this one on. It was kind of fun, though, to throw out that 71% as often as I could throughout the night and watch Kate panic a little each time. Have I mentioned that I'm not very nice?

I have two new tutors this week. I have at least one student scheduled to start next week, and I may be adding as many as five more (I'm hoping to start a new group).

I need to figure out how to prepare students for the citizenship test better. If anyone out there has ever taken the citizenship test, please tell me what helped you the most!

Friday, July 25, 2008

I need to blog more

Cause I always have a lot of random, unrelated thoughts, and it would really be better if I did a lot of short, frequent posts instead of long rambling ones. Need to work on that.

So. A few months ago, when we moved into this apartment, we bought a used washer/dryer. Just a cheap set. Honestly, I didn't really think too hard about this one, because it was the only set in our price range available when we were moving, and I just went with it. In the future I will never buy a used washer/dryer set from a woman who has five boys.


After getting it into the apartment, and really looking closely at it, it had this gunk on the outside of the tub. And to clean it really well, I'd have to take it apart. So I did. And this is what it looked like:






That stuff all over the inside of it? Yeah, still don't know what it was, but my father-in-law's guess is crank grease. It took a whole lot of 409 and a few scrubbing sponges, but I got it clean. It's a good thing I'm not pregnant, I never would have been able to do it.


After I finished, it looked like this:



So we used it. And both the washer and dryer worked fine, though they were loud and inefficient, until a few weeks ago. I went to put some clothes in the dryer and it wouldn't start. We did some research, and it was going to cost more to fix it than we paid for it. Hmmm.

And in walked Temptation, in the form of Home Depot.

They were having a sale, and a credit card promotion. Between the two, we saved about $200. Plus, with rebates from the gas company, the electric company, and the manufacturer, we saved another $200. And got a Home Depot gift card for $50 and free delivery. Plus, the new washer is Energy Star rated, and the dryer is sooo efficient. It can dry a load of clothes in 40 minutes on medium instead of 80 minutes on high. Medium, people! And there's a tax rebate for buying energy-efficient appliances.

I am excellent at justification and rationalization, can't you tell?

They are so cool though. So shiny and new, and there are so many options! I can wash a small load on delicate with cool/cold water with an extra rinse and an extended tumble. Laundry is (almost) fun.

Wow, I sound like SUCH a housewife. That's enough of that.

Sooooo. . . more later. Not housewife stuff either.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Things I am way too excited about

1) The Fourth of July! We're going to a pancake breakfast, complete with a "parade" - as in, all the neighborhood kids biking, triking, and walking around dazed. To be followed by cheeseburgers, swimming, and fireworks, the first time we've actually planned ahead since we got married.

2) Bus passes. I work for a charter school and I can get ANNUAL bus passes for $65. They are coming in August, and we plan to use them a lot. If gas continues to climb, we can use them even more.

3) The community garden. John found out that the vacant lot behind our neighborhood library is a community garden. They have community lots with assigned pick days. All the produce you want to pick for free! And it's organic! They also accept compost contributions. I feel so guilty throwing out all the peels and leftover bits of fruit and veggies. It's all going to the community compost now, and that makes me feel so good.

4) The 13 x 9 inch pans I finally went and bought. Already this week we've had pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting. Next: Baked Oatmeal. Looks delicious, and healthy.

What small things are you ridiculously excited about?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

And you thought Primary was boring

I was getting Trea dressed the other day, and suddenly she starts singing.

Trea (singing): We will, we will, ROCK YOU!
Me: Where did you learn that? (just curious about where my 3 year old is learning Queen.)
Trea: My Primary class. (For you non-LDS people . . . Primary is what we call the kids' Sunday School. I have no idea why Queen would come up in her Primary class).

Tuesday I went into work, and my student Marcos was talking with Dorothea. Dorothea told me that Marcos had misunderstood the certificate he'd received for having 96% attendance; he'd received it at the graduation ceremony, and thought that he had to leave the school. He was so upset he admitted he'd cried on the way home. Ahhh. Note to self: must work on Marcos' literacy skills so he can read the difference between "graduation" and "attendance".

Dorothea also announced on Tuesday that she's retiring. She's worked there for 37 years, since the program started. When I met her, I thought she was in her early sixties. Then I talked to her some more, and found out that she'd worked for the school system for a number of years before coming to our school. So then I thought she might be in her late sixties or even early seventies. Turns out, she's 81! You would never know it to talk to her. She's not retiring for a few months though, and after that she said she'd come back to tutor.

Thursday we had a school potluck picnic. Mark brought his big gas grill and grilled hot dogs, Kate and I bought lots of cheapo prizes at the dollar store for BINGO prizes (paisley picture frame, anyone?), and we had a wide variety of dishes. School potlucks are a blast, we get everything from VERY authentic ethnic (Tibetan, Mexican, etc.) to people who stop by Little Caesar's and pick up a couple of pizzas. I finally got to meet some of my students' families, and we got to just relax and shoot the breeze. Leticia was much more comfortable laughing at my horrible Spanish outside of the classroom setting :). Phurbu made Tibetan mo-mos especially for me.

After the BINGO and clothespin tag, Emilie and Kate started dancing. Emilie is teaching Kate to Latin dance. It was fun to watch Emilie; she's got some moves. And some of our students are amazing. They looked incapable of missing a beat, like it was just as natural to them as walking. Kate was fun to watch as well, but for different reasons.

Now we have two weeks to clean our desks, organize our files, and plan lessons for next year.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Graduation Day

Last night was Graduation. You can't really "graduate" - we don't offer a diploma - but we have a five-year limit on providing services to any one student; so, instead of just telling students to leave, they "graduate." Sounds much better.

Last night, there should have been four students graduating. One of them was my student Victor. He actually showed up for the first time in several weeks, but when he realized it was graduation - and he'd be called upon to stand up in front of a crowd - he split. He did tell me how much the school had helped him. He told me that when he started, he could hardly speak a word of English. He's made amazing progress - he's one of our highest level students.

Ricardo technically should have graduated last night, but he drives the "bus" - the little van that picks up some of our students who live nearby, and don't have transportation. Finding someone who will reliably come to work a split shift two nights a week isn't easy. Rather than tackle the huge task of replacing him, Kate offered to let him stay. Lucky for us he agreed to hang on for a while.

So, that left Antonio (the husband of my student Gloria) and Eugenio. Antonio graduated first. His tutor must have been really nervous - he kept calling him Ernesto. Then he he started calling him Antonio, and mentioned that he had "two great kids" (ummm, he has three kids. Are you saying only two of them are great??). Antonio kept looking at him like he had two heads.

Then, it was Eugenio's turn. He's been Kate's student the entire five years he's been at school, so she shared five things she loves about Eugenio. Then Eugenio gave the most amazing speech. He'd written it himself, memorized it, and he delivered it perfectly. His pronunciation is incredible. He stood there, dressed in a shirt and tie for the occasion, and talked about "our beloved school," and how it was a lot of work to get "this document," (his certificate that Kate printed off a couple of hours before), and just in general about working hard. Eugenio was 58 years old when he started, and spoke no English. He now tests at a level 4. He doesn't have a car, but his attendance over the past year has been 98%. He'll walk, bike, ride the school bus, ride the public bus - whatever it takes to get to school. His motivation is just amazing. I have such admiration for what my students are doing - starting life over in a new country, learning a new language. I had a small taste of that and I know it's hard.

We're almost done with the school-year; we'll have a two-week break, and restart classes in mid-July. We've got a bunch of new students to place. I'm kinda looking forward to having a bunch of new students. Fresh faces, who don't have anyone to compare me to.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Meme

Kate tagged me on Thursday. I know, some of you are thinking, "when I tagged you, it took you freakin' weeks to get around to it!" I know. But Kate's my boss. So there. I also think this meme (or some form of it) may already be on here, but what the hey.



The rules:

1. Post the rules of the game at the beginning.

2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.

3. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.

4. Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answer.



What were you doing five years ago?

June 2003. . .actually a relatively quiet time in my life. I'd been married about 8 months. I was working as a test development coordinator for an online university; I learned more about project management and test development than I ever thought there was to know. I also took an online class.



What are five things on your to-do list for today?

1. Go to the Farmer's Market
2. Go the Chalk Art Festival at the Gateway.
3. Clean out the car!
4. Go shopping.
5. Get my kids to bed before 9:30! (A challenge lately)



What are five snacks you enjoy?

1. Any kind of chocolate. . .but the darker the better
2. Guacamole and chips
3. Ranch dip (especially my homemade stuff) and veggies
4. Chocolate chip cookies
5. Baked stuff, like brownies and pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting. Can you tell I'm not a salty snack kind of person? I don't crave potato chips. Just sugar.



What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?

1. Travel the world. Anywhere and everywhere. Maybe not Irag, right now, but just about anywhere else.
2. Go back to Cambodia and do a huge research project to document the Pol Pot regime. It's part of the history of that country, and they don't have the resources to really deal with it. Donate money to Tuol Sleng. Donate lots of money to bring teachers, dentists, doctors and nurses to Cambodia to teach Cambodian university students.
3. Buy an enviromentally-friendly house. Paint all the walls.
4. Buy John a Lexus for Christmas, with a big bow on it (we always joke about those commercials; who buys their spouse a car for Christmas? We don't spend $20 without knowing what budget category it fits into, and our "personal" money is nowhere near enough to buy a Lexus. Ever.)
5. Hire a housecleaning service. Love a clean house, don't care for the cleaning.



What are five of your bad habits?

1. TV. Such a waste of time. (Did you see So You Think You Can Dance? Joshua is so graceful! Will is so talented! Susie would never be allowed to teach my kids!
2. Staying up way too late.
3. Worrying.
4. Eating chocolate.
5. Letting the house get cluttered.


What are five places you have lived?

1. Salt Lake City, Utah
2. Omaha, Nebraska
3. Khon Kaen, Thailand
4. Chiang Mai, Thailand
5. Severna Park, Maryland


What are five jobs you've had?

1. Waittress
2. Test Development Coordinator
3. English as a foreign language teacher
4. Courier
5. House cleaner



Five people I tag: I think most of the people I know have done this already. If you haven't, and you want to do it, consider yourself tagged!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sorry, Miss Brady!

I keep trying to organize my posts around themes. My junior year of high school, my teacher, Miss Brady, drilled in the fundamentals of good writing. I keep trying to write these well-planned posts with controlling ideas and supporting details. I wonder if that's part of being a former English major, or part of who I am? What came first, the OCD-ish tendencies in my writing or the BA?

Anyway.

I have a tutor - we'll call him Phineas. He tutors at a table set up on the landing in the stairwell at the far end of the building. I never thought I would take to avoiding a stairwell because of one person's body odor, but I have. You can smell him from either floor. I try to keep conversations with him short, and stand upwind. I don't know how his student does it. She must really want to pass her citizenship test!

Went to Wal-mart the other day and tried to buy pajamas for Adia. But all of them had these little appliques on the chest; they were stiff and scratchy on the inside. For real, people! These are kids' pajamas! Soft, not stiff, and definitely not scratchy!

I also had an interesting conversation with a student a couple weeks ago. Somehow the topic of living arrangements came up, and I mentioned that we hope to buy a house in a few years. He was surprised, and made a comment along the lines of, "I don't know what it is, maybe I work hard or something, but you were born in this country and don't have a house, but I have a house."

He's really very nice, but I didn't especially appreciate the implication that I don't work hard (the fact that I am a total slacker notwithstanding). I wanted to point out that they don't issue the deed to a house along with a birth certificate, but I refrained. I've had other students react this way as well. It's a little funny - I thought I left the "the streets are paved with gold" idealistic picture of America behind when I left Thailand. I could understand it there. But a lot of my students seem to think that being a citizen here erases all obstacles. I wish, for their sakes, that learning English and becoming a citizen would be the key to wealth and happiness and all of your dreams coming true. It's not. Sorry about that.

So. Kids are doing great. Trea is starting to understand so many new concepts - the other day she told me she couldn't eat one more bite, because she'd already eaten one bite and if she ate one more that would be two bites. Basic addition! She's a genius. She has a very vivid imagination. It takes some serious work to keep up with where her mind goes.

Adia now says more, down, no, and bird. Ok, she says more than that, but those are the ones I can understand.

Sorry about the disjointedness, Miss Brady. It can't all be perfect.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A really trite, uncreative post. . .but there you go

Wanna know how much we've spent on car repairs this month?

$4,000. Give or take a few bucks. And it still needs a muffler!

If all of the repairs had happened at once, we probably would have chucked the car and bought a 'new' one. As it happened, they came a few at a time (or at least were discovered a few at a time). The kicker was when the compressor of the air conditioning BLEW UP and shot shrapnel throughout the air conditioning system, causing the whole thing to need to be replaced. Original quote? $2600. We were lucky, we got a deal on parts and labor (long story) and paid less than $2100 for the air conditioning and the power steering rack to be replaced.

The AC's cold, now, too.

And you know, (this is the trite part), it's easy to be bummed about spending all that money on a freakin' car. But then I go to work, and a) I'm so so so glad that I have a job I like, that is actually in the field I studied, and is flexible/part-time so I can still be with my kids a lot and b) I talk to my students. Like E., who spent the eight years when she should have been in middle school and high school in a refugee camp. You know what I did from ages 10-18? Plays, field trips, marching band, dates, dances, etc. I worried about my grades and my friends, and boys. I did not worry about whether I'd be able to get an education or be with my family.

And it's unlikely she'll ever go back to her country, where her mother still lives. Burma doesn't really welcome you back when you leave as a refugee. Her brother and sister are still in the refugee camp in Thailand, and she could technically go see them, I suppose, if she could ever save up the $1,000 plane ticket on her husband's off-and-on income.

Or there's A., who is from Somalia; he's never been to school in his life. He has four little kids, and when you ask him what he likes about living here, he says "there's peace, and a future."

So many of my students left their countries under such hard circumstances. A couple of my students have passed their citizenship tests in the last few weeks, and they are so excited. I love the picture of my student M., who's in her sixties, and the last member of her family to pass her test. She's clutching an American flag, and holding on for dear life.

So I think I need to count my blessings, and not complain about the dang car!

Edited to add: This morning John walked out to go to work, and the car stereo's gone. I'd say we've hit the trifecta of car disasters, but I worry that the car gods are lumping the repairs together and counting us two for three. . .we'd be sure to get into a huge accident.

At least we're not going into debt!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Super busy

Sorry for the lack of posts, we've had a lot going on. The new job is going well, I think. I really enjoy using my education and the students and tutors are really cool. I have a student from Burma, she's been in the U.S. a couple of years I think. She spent eight years in Thai refugee camps and speaks a little Thai. We had a short (like two sentence) exchange in Thai, that's about maxing out my abilities! Her mom lost her roof in the cyclone but is otherwise OK.

My parents were here last week and took some pictures of my kids with their awesome camera. How cute are these girls?






Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I am now employed

I decided to take the job. I can always quit if it doesn't work out. I'm excited but a little nervous too. This is the first job I've been hired for where I have doubts about my ability to do it. But that's how you grow, right? Right.

My sister-in-law is probably going to take the baby girl I've been babysitting part-time. She lives nearby and wanted another part-time child to watch, so hopefully that will work well.

I hope this works!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Aack!

I've been offered the job!!! What the heck do I do now? I have to make a decision in less than 24 hours. . .

Also, Sunday I was called as Ward Employment Specialist. I have a list of four people who need help getting jobs ASAP, and all of them are disabled, without transportation, have anger management issues, or all three.

Help!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Should I or shouldn't I. . .

In January, I saw a posting on craigslist for the perfect job for me. Part-time, organizing lesson plans for volunteers teaching ESL to refugees and immigrants. It paid reasonably well, and many of the hours were flexible (eight were set, but in the evening). It would be a great professional experience. I applied and interviewed, but didn't get it.

Tonight the woman I interviewed with emailed me and asked if I wanted to be considered for an identical position that is currently open.

I kind of want it. I kind of don't. I have two kids I babysit part-time, different families. One of them I could probably keep, but the other I couldn't, and I know they were having a hard time finding someone. I know they would understand but I would still feel bad.

We don't *need* the money, but there are always things it could be used for. Downpayment on a house, for one.

It's time away from my kids, but not a lot, and it would be very stimulating/challenging/rewarding for me.

On the other hand, we really don't know what John's work schedule is going to be like. He just got assigned e.bay as a client, and he could be very very busy. Do we really need the stress of me trying to work?

I don't know what to do!!!!

You know, I probably won't be offered the job (I know when I interviewed, I was told they really wanted someone with a master's degree. . . makes it easier to get grants) and then I won't have to worry about it anyway.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Good news and bad news

The good news is it's April 15th, and tax season is over. My husband's boss has told them to leave early the rest of the week. Friday she is taking them to lunch and a movie, on company time.

The bad news is, it's April 15th and it's freakin' SNOWING outside!

In other news, my sister Ashley came over the other day and took my kids outside for over two hours while I cleaned my house. My house got clean, I got a break from hearing "MOM!" every five minutes, and my kids got fresh air and exercise. Thanks Ashley! You're awesome!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I hate tax season

John worked almost 15 hours yesterday.

I can't wait until April 15th!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Adia the Chatterbox

Adia has started talking, and is picking up words at an amazing rate. So far, she says:

Grandpa (said more like "anpa" but only to Grandpa Jeffery, so we know it's him)
Mama
Dada
uh-oh (especially when something drops. I'm glad she says this since it's vastly preferable to her repeating some of the other things I say when I drop something)
thank you (or, more accurately, dank you)
bye-bye (she waves too)

and. . .

Dora. Every. Time. the theme music comes on.

She's in the 60th percentile for height and not even on the charts for weight. So much for breastmilk being so calorie dense! We are "powerpacking" her diet now, and hopefully that will help her put on some pounds. The doctor's not worried, and she is very healthy and obviously developing well and not malnourished . . . we'd just like to see a bit more meat on her bones.

They don't make magic wands like they used to. . .

Trea got a magic wand for Easter. It's just a purple plastic stick with a stuffed fabric heart on the end and a couple of ribbons; I think it was around $2 at Wal-Mart. She was SOOO excited to see it though. She ran in the kitchen and I heard this:

"Abre!"
Pause.

"This magic wand don't work. It's broken."

Well, Trea, it could be that you get what you pay for, or maybe the wand doesn't take commands in Spanish. It hasn't stopped her from casting spells on us so I guess it's ok.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Happy Birthdays!

Happy birthday today to the love of my life!

And happy belated birthday to Adia, who turned a year old yesterday. Time flies.

Dear Adia,

You turned a year old yesterday. It's been 367 days (it's a Leap Year) since you were born on the floor of a hospital in northeastern Thailand, sixteen days past due. Thinking about the time that's past, quantifying it, started me thinking about numbers. About how I tried to quantify the changes you'd bring to our family.

When I found out you would be joining us, I was shocked. Happy, but shocked. Over the following months I thought a lot about the impact you'd have on our family. I'd have two kids. My time would be divided between the two of you, plus John. The money for clothes and toys and other child items would be doubled - or, more likely, halved, and we'd make it work. Your sister would have half as much of the attention that she was used to. You would have half as much attention as she'd had as a baby. We'd have to subtract some of the time needed to care for a newborn from her usual allottment of play time with mom and dad. I often wondered how I was possibly going to make this work, this dividing and subtracting and halving and dividing again. . .

The thing is, numbers don't work well for defining human relationships. I was wrong about having half as much time for myself - it's even less than that! And I forgot to take into account how our love as a family would multiply with you here to share it. I didn't realize that my love for Trea would grow so much by watching her be a big sister to you. She loves and protects you, and she can do no wrong in your eyes. Your dad adores both his girls, and his girls return the favor. You haven't subtracted from anything, only added to the joy and fun we have as a family. We grow together, everyday, and it works.

Turns out I was right about math in high school - it has nothing to do with real life. Thanks for being a part of our family, Adia. We love you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Back at last

So, after yet another long hiatus, a post! I'm getting pretty bad about updating this thing. In my defense, we were experiencing some technical difficulties - our laptop went on the fritz. But, we now have a desktop (thanks to John's massive amounts of overtime) so hopefully I can get back to posting on a somewhat regular basis.

We've also moved and are now living in an apartment in Salt Lake. It's actually the same apartment we lived in last time we lived in Salt Lake, and there are still some people we know (or at least recognize) in the complex. We looked all over Salt Lake but decided this is still the best deal for us. It's got a play area, and a pool, plus it's close enough to the bus line for John to take public transportation to work a couple days a week. It's SOOOO nice to have a car two or three days a week and be able to get errands done. Very very cool.

We're settling in. We're very happy with John's job, and the apartment. It feels good to be home.

Monday, January 28, 2008

And now for a big announcement

John has a job.

He was actually offered this job almost a week ago, but he didn't get around to posting about it until last night, and I didn't want to steal his thunder. He'll be working for Ernst & Young as a Client Support Specialist. I'm not sure what it is he'll be doing exactly, but he gets to work with the UK and U.S. branches (divisions?) of Yahoo!, as well as Ernst & Young India. It'll be great experience. They are a huge company so there is tons of opportunity, and they are very invested in their employees. The benefits are awesome. It's a better fit for us than we ever hoped to find.

And, since this is my blog and I get to brag, I just want to say that John totally nailed the interview. He researched the company and practiced interviewing, and he looked really hot. . .uh, I mean, professional in his new suit. I was and am really proud of him.

So, now the hunt is on for an apartment. And furniture. And possibly a part-time job for me, but only if I can find something perfect. Perfect meaning flexible, interesting, reasonably well-paid, and either from home or max of 15 hours a week. Even from home I don't want to work more than 20. We'll see if I can find a teaching position somewhere in the fall, perhaps.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sorry it took so long, Shawn

A. The Rules are posted at the beginning

B. Each player answers about themselves.

C. At the end of the post, the player tags 5 people, posts their names, and goes to their blogs letting them know they've been tagged.

5 Things I Was Doing 10 Years Ago

1. Finishing my last semester of high school

2. Competing in Indoor Guard

3. Picking a college

4. Stressing out about the huge decisions I needed to make

5. Taking AP Psych, AP English, and some fluff classes :)



5 Things On My To-Do List Today

1. Go to church (Adia's sick, didn't go)

2. Make rolls (didn't have enough flour, didn't do that)

3. Hang out with family (done)

4. Play with my kids (done)

5. Blog (almost done)



5 Snacks I Enjoy

1. Guacamole with chips

2. Chocolate chip cookies

3. Pumpkin bread with cream cheese

4. Toast

5. Brownies



5 Things I'd Do if I Were a Billionaire

1. Buy a house for everyone in my family

2. Take my whole family to Thailand

3. Donate a bunch of money to charities I believe in

4. Travel a lot.

5. Go back to school and take tons of classes just to learn and not care about my grades.

3 Bad Habits

1. Staying up too late

2. Snacking.

3. Losing things



5 Jobs I've Had

1. Test Development Coordinator

2. Server

3. ESL teacher

4. Courier

5. Tutor



5 Things People Probably Don't Know About Me

1. I've never broken a bone

2. I went skydiving when I was sixteen

3. I have a yellow belt in Tae Kwon Do

4. I don't like to drive. I just don't enjoy it.

5. I love job interviews. I think that's weird but it's true.

I'm not tagging anybody. Sorry!