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.


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?