Friday, September 8, 2017

Update: The Job

I’m actually typing this in an email to myself while eating cucumbers, cheese & hummus at my desk.  That’s my kinda mid-day break.

There might be crackers happening soon.

There will probably be coffee.  Actually…I’m going to make some.  BRB (as the kids say)

So I’ve had something of a revelation: the electric kettle + pour over coffee maker combination.  My new full-time gig is at a place that is so big that it necessitates 7-minute passing periods.  That gives me more than enough time to brew a cup of coffee the slow way.  And because I’m an equal opportuni-tea beverage drinker, it makes it that much easier to have my daily cup of green (New Year’s resolution 2017 for the win!) as well.  But right now, I’m going dark.

It’s an in-class writing kind of day from start to finish, so I’m at my desk for a considerable chunk of time.  Which is good, ‘cause I’m getting a big hunk of work done.  Which is bad, said no one ever.

And here’s my Update: NEW JOB
It’s OK.  It feels normal to be back in the daily grind.  It feels good to have some consistency to hold onto.  It feels GREAT not to have to coordinate 3-5 weeknights where I have class and the boy has meets or practice.  

The 2 biggest changes happen at the bookend parts of each day.  It’s a logistical dance getting everyone ready and out the door by 6:45 in the morning. Our girls are big breakfast eaters, which can drag onnnn interminably if we let it.  There’s still too much of the “C’mon, we gotta go!”  So I’m working on that.  But all told, they’re doing g-r-e-a-t, beyond my expectations of what it was going to be like.  I’m still shuddering in anticipation of the LONG and DARKER than DARK winter months when sluggish attitudes prevail and tempers are snappy.  I haven’t been able to figure out how to flex schedule the three darkest months of the year so that I teach virtually from, say, Bali.  I’m working on it.

The boy is doing the drive right now back to his one & only teaching job.  The truest shame in this is not that I’m solely in charge of before/after school shuttling, or that I’m the one who is rushing around every morning making sure that 2 littles are set & ready, or even that we’re putting miles upon miles on our car (again).  NO M’AAM/SIR.  The boy drives MY car now everyday because it’s considerably cheaper at the pump for that daily mileage.  

The thing is, we upgraded when buying this car because I was driving so much and because we went cheaper on a previous car that we bought for me.  That car is absolutely fine, but it turns out, we really believe that paying a little more to have some of the perks is definitely worth it given how much we drive.  And now, I’m back with that base model purchase, and I miss my whip dearly.   
BUT.  So it goes.  That's just the cost of doing business, so to speak.  It's like how my running is down to about 1/3 of what it used to be - just enough to help not gain back any pounds, I hope.  I don't have a normal treadmill-TV combo anymore (which, frankly, IS what I prefer), so I've been pounding the neighborhood pavement.  And it's s-o-o-o boring, just me and the sound of my feet with the occasional whiff of a neighbor's grill.  I don't know how you other 99% do it.  I've tried the earphone thing a few times before on early morning runs when the only thing on TV includes infomercials and the morning news (which is more aptly the morning weather-update-commercial-commerical-commercial-more-weather-update-small-puffy-news-piece).  So I do miss the ability to just take off for 30 or 45 minutes and veg out with some mindless home makeover shmarm.  
And it's Friday, which means that anything else I really have to say is skewed by the wierdness that is the end of a workweek (even a short one).  Cheers to the weekend and some grading.  May there be a big cup of coffee and a brownie in it somewhere. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Updates! Updates GALORE!

Well, hey there, good lookin’.  It’s been a sweet forever.  But I’m back from the longest of months.  Right at the top of the list of “things that I’ve learned along the way in ye olde educational profession”:  August and February are the LONGEST months of the school year.  The days may even have more hours in them during these months than in any other (I’m trying to verify).  This is my first year working with the more balanced school calendar that is quite popular around here, which subsequently extends the first month of the school year by an additional 10 or so days.  But, I got that first paycheck for the full-time gig, so let’s check that one of the list of “things to accomplish this summer.”  There’s a certain kind of validation that a legit paycheck brings, one that I can’t shake.  It’s time.


We officially moved and officially sold (sometimes seemingly on a wing and a prayer).  On the hottest 2 days of the entire year thus far.  But shortly after, I started stress eating big time and probably gained back all of that how-much-can-one-person-sweat-in-a-day weight that I like to think I lost. 

I also officially and subsequently sent 3 packages to our old address.  One was box springs for our kid’s bed (not a surreptitious box on the front porch).  She ended up sleeping on a mattress on the floor for about 2 weeks while we sorted that one out.  The other 2 involved some covert maneuvering by our former neighbor and me (nicely) harassing the new owner.  And then I gave up on changing our address on pretty much everything but Amazon and (because what else is there in life?).  Perhaps between now and when W-2s come out from my FOUR employers that I’m currently on the books with, I’ll get all of those changed.  Or not.  It’s annoying.

The new house is pretty much everything that I imagined it would be: bigger and somehow largely the same as the old digs.  We did rip off a big old, glued-to-the-wall mirror from the girls’ bathroom yesterday.  So we have that look going for us as you can imagine what the underside on the wall looked like.  But that’s progress since we’ve had a new mirror ready to hang for four weeks now.  We move at a lightning speed around here.  Another newbie that we’ve had brand new and waiting to be installed for weeks now:  a new faucet for the sink in the kitchen.  We quickly (in about 2 seconds of having possession) learned that the faucet leaks unless you have the handle just so, which means that I spend a good amount of my day making sure that things are just so, which also means that I want to rip it out of the sink and throw it in the street like the scumster that it is.  But, the boy is waiting to unpack his plumber’s putty first before replacing it.  Except the boy is looking through zero boxes a day in search of that magic goo.  Ergo, leaky faucet = still intact.  This is riveting stuff, so I’ll keep you posted. 

Something that we can’t just update on a whim: light switches.  They will do me in yet.  They make virtually no sense, and there’s just about nothing more annoying than a switch that has the sole purpose of turning an outlet on.  Gag.  Plus they’re the wide, flatter switches rather than the littlerones that stick out farther.  Blerg.

All of that aside, much of the problems in this establishment stem from the fact that we don’t have a shed as we did with the former place.  Our garage continues to be all of the piles and all of the boxes that are lingering like parasites that moving boxes are.  And it turns out that yard sheds are pricey and don’t always come with such niceties as floors and roofs.  Plus, we’re all of us full-timing it in addition to add-on activities for the adults, so the goal is to pony up the dough for a we-have-to-abide-by-HOA-covenances-now yard shed by frost-on-my-window season.  We did slip a new composter in beside the trash bins and no one from the neighborhood has banged on our door yet. 
(Sidenote:  I’m still adjuncting on the side because I have issues, and I think that I’ll be in charge of 9 classes for a couple of weeks right around Fall Break.  That was unintentional planning – “add-on activities,” folks.) 

We also have an extra washer/dryer set languishing in the garage.  As one would have.  Some people keep an extra fridge/freezer in the garage.  We abide by the “you can’t have too many washers & dryers that aren’t hooked up” motto, it seems.  Sometimes, you have the will to tackle a job (like unhooking current washer/dryer and reconnecting other washer/dryer).  And sometimes, you just lose the will to start yet another job that will undoubtedly have some issue pop up.  One can only make so many trips to Lowe’s before you just abandon the current house and start over in your parents’ basement.  We’re about 2 trips shy of that right now.

The lawn mower is still in the garage, too.  Which we sometimes use.  But we switched from a yard with 2 trees (total) to a yard that has around a dozen and a raised bed and these odd, staggered trellis things. The first time we mowed, we tag-teamed the yard, and just from my half, I very much wanted to BURN IT ALL DOWN.  It’s a whole bunch of piddly little cuts and maneuvers and blasted circling circling circling.  So that’s a job that I’m going to turn back over to the boy, at least mostly.  Otherwise, this mama may have to coin the term “lawnmower rage.”     

But, the biggest issue isn’t actually the house but our favorite tabby, the Toby-est with the most-est.  The one who was prescribed chamomile tea when I wasn’t ready to commit to Prozac for her.  The one who needs to CHILL OUT a lot bit.  She acts all dewy-eyed and lovey-dovey, but then she turns around and continues to be a beasty-hearted little fuzz-bum when we’re not looking, and her time is short if she cannot pull her act together.  So, I’ll pause on that story line because I’m in what you might call caught between denial and pulling-my-hair-out-frustration.  But this little 8-lb. ball of fun times and shenanigans is my girl – the one who yawns stinkily in my face at night and doesn’t let me grade any student’s writing without her body squarely on my lap.  She’s purring her way with me through this post right now, in fact.

Life does not only include furry beasties now, though.  Our house does have quite a healthy supply of adorbs-ably sweet little toads/frogs.  (We’ve debated which they are and are still flummoxed.)  We also have some biggies hopping around occasionally, and even though this happens about every other day, it’s still delightful to look out a window and see a tiny toadie the size of a quarter staring back at you while suction-cupped to the window (mostly on the outside, but the boy did let one in on accident a few days ago).  In fact, the first night that the boy was here, he walked out onto the front porch and thought there was a squirrel sneaking up on him.  Nope…frog.  (I know.  I get them confused all of the time, too.)

We’re also apparently in the flight path of a local-ish hot air balloon company.  Last night, there were four of them floating around up there.  They’re often low enough for us to hear the whooshing sound and see the people moving around in the basket.  So that’s pretty great.

I do have a strong inclination to continue looking for a(nother) new house, however.  The left turn out of the subdivision is a rough one.  There are going to be years of this.  I’m not sure we’re that strong to endure it.  The boy isn’t yet ready to buy into this notion of moving because leaving the subdivision is a burden on my life.  If I start now, I’ll wear him down someday.

The rest will have to wait and hopefully sooner than another month from now.  Also, my glasses are broken and I’ve been wearing them now with only 1 of the legs holding them on my face.  Only 1 student has noticed.  So there’s that, too.  (That’s livin’ the dream.)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The short report

I want to write.  I really do.  Instead, I've been moving boxes and just now giving up in favor of paper grocery bags & small trash bags.  We're stuffing our cars and making a few trips down the road. 

This morning, I bought room darkening curtains for all 'cause we're not staying up this late every night waiting for the sun to go down.

This morning, we wandered around a new farmer's market and met an adorbs dog named Louie (part chi-woo-woo -as we say - and part terrier).

This morning, I woke up with both cats hanging around in my room.  They hadn't ventured upstairs until last night.  It looks like they're getting over some of their new-home anxiety.

This morning, my daughter decorated her wall with decals, and it looks jammin'.

Right now, I'm sitting in a beach chair in an almost empty living room, poaching my own internet and putting off the return trip and another unloading process in the HEAT for a few more minutes.  I'm also watching some baseball because n-o i-n-t-e-r-n-e-t a-t t-h-e n-e-w h-o-u-s-e.  It's like 1996 all over again.

Thanks be that my job does not have me work outside all year round.  It would test the strength of my soul.  

Friday, July 14, 2017

All the leggin's, all the time

I have much, much, much to write about, but I fear that I will be just makin' y'all jealous 'bout all the leggin's, all the time.  Summer = so many leggings. 

(I'm also watching The Office right now because NETFLIX HOW DARE YOU?!?! for pulling it from your offerings?!?!  I will undoubtedly forget things that I want to tell all of the you.)

Here's where I'm (mentally) at right now:

1.  We close on our new house in 6 days.  It turns out that the time between when you agree on a price and when you pay for the price is a long time.  It's not that I'm all BALLOONS & CONFETTI & CHEERCHEERCHEER but rather like dearly beloved can we just get this ooooover with?

2.  We close on the sale of our current house 4 days later.

3.  I spent 9 hours today working with other teachers on crafting/planning/drafting rubrics, assessments, a schedule, and a decision on what material to use.  We completed (almost) ONE unit.  We're now (almost) through October.  Le sigh...teachers.

4.  This town continues to be a magnet for twisters, and as I woke up just a few days ago when the siren went off for the second time that night, I immediately thought "We're not going to end things this way, house!"  (It's time to back off on life when you think your house is out to get you by attracting tornadoes.  That usually doesn't happen, I hear.)

5.  Our big furball is really a bony furball right now as he is on what I called "kitty life support" right now, i.e. down to his final days.  He's in that bony hips & spine stage now, but his sweet, sweet eyes still have some life in them, and we can't tell that he's in pain.  So we're gonna give it a go and take him with us to the new digs rather than take him to the vet for one final showdown in the exam room. 

6.  I apparently have to be trained in about three things this summer if I want to continue with any of my jobs. 

7.  I'm also currently employed by 4 schools, though one hasn't exactly paid me yet.

8.  The Boy can't wait to do my taxes for this year, I'm sure.

9.  I have a list of well-we-really-don't-want-to-have-two-empty-rooms furniture options.  When I don't have grading that I have to work on, then I'm probs going to be searching, searching, always searching for ideas and cheap-but-not-too-cheap furniture because sometimes you just want a chair to sit in. 

10.  Neither of us don't really want to just buy stuff and more stuff because we have some space.  It's a fine line to walk for me.  Just yesterday, our financial advisor (ironically) told us happily "Oh, you'll grow into the space!" when we indicated that we want this to be our last mortgage and we're really intending to downsize hard when the girls go to college and shouldn't she be proud of us for our financial prudence.  But we don't really want to "grow into the space."  And then she said "Just don't get one of those tiny houses that you see on TV."  I think there's a fair bit of space separating the two. 

11.  I ran 4+ miles yesterday, and it felt relatively easy.  That's never happened before.  (I also heard heavy breathing and was glad to see that it was someone behind me on the stair machine; I thought for a minute that I was just an obnoxious breather.)

12.  A few hours after we close on the new place, the Boy is leaving for 3 days to go to cross country camp.  This is the first time that he's done it even though he talks about doing it every year.  His timing is suspicious.

13.  I'll be basically moving us into the new place by myself after he helps with the couple of big things.  I'm OK with this.

14.  The day after the last closin' (which happens right after the movin' when I'll be wearin' the leggin's), I start back up again.  I'm kinda OK with this, mostly just tired of waiting for it to start.

Something HAPPEN already. 

But wait...that means I can't wear the leggin's as much.  It's a catch-22.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Fare thee well, June. Thou wert rough.

Good people, we are looking at only 18 days left in this old house (that looks fresh and fit as a fiddle with its GORGEOUS new's very flaunty, right now).  In the meantime, there are boxes to be attended to every day (5 boxes a day keeps the mental breakdown at bay!) 

I'm trying to space out the packing by figuring out a handful of boxes every day, but most of them are a modestly-sized Amazon box and it comes in spurts.  Por ejemplo.  Today?  No boxes.  Why?  Because I got lazy and felt icky this afternoon.  And the boy worked on a few, so I felt like squelching on to his handful and calling it a day.  Honestly, most of the not-really-using-right-now stuff is packed, so we're down to the it's-gonna-have-to-wait-another-14-days boxes for the crunch time maneuvering. 

And it's been remarkably peaceful and unhurried and calm, the packing part at least.  The rest of June was a HOT, HOT MESS.  There were pre-planned 2 camping trips, a pre-planned 3-day synod assembly, 3 different classes to start/continue/finish, the funnest of the summer library activities, gymnastics, swim lessons, visiting the new school, muddling through money-money meetings, looking-finding-dithering-calling people-calling people-calling people new house garbage, and running to attend to.

Some days, they were a trial.  But we're still here, all drama aside.

We surely did make it to July, or as I've been looking at it, the Promised Land

I have big plans this month:
1.  Consistently work on my Sunday crosswords before Friday.
2.  Read two books.
3.  Plan out the entire school year (maybe just the first 2 weeks).
4.  Figure out what to put in "the living room" in the new place so that "the living room" doesn't become the receptacle for odds, ends, and sundries.  This is a thankless task that no one else in this house will help me with.  I feel adrift and refuse to get sucked into Pinterest's clutches.  Good people!  Do help.
5.  Feed my family something other than tuna salad, egg salad or hummus sandwiches.  We cannot be sick of those before school starts.  I will weep salty, salty tears if my children won't let me send those to school f-r-e-q-u-e-n-t-l-y because know what?  The Elder doesn't like peanut butter.  Someone's gotta be the kook.

But this cleaning and packing thing has been so good for my soul.  I love that we have at least half of the house packed and more empty boxes than full ones yet in the garage because we try hard to avoid accumulating stuff.  I was surprised at the warm fuzzies that I got a couple of times when I stumbled upon some kept notes from good friends and The Boy.  I realized that it was time to let go of some more stuff from our wedding with no regrets.  I appreciate the ruthless quality that makes me reconsider every single thing I start to pack in a box, evaluating whether it is worth the time and effort to move it.  If it weren't so expensive, I would move every few years just to go through this part. 

So on to a new month.  May it be merciful and kind.  And, may we dig our toes in the sand one more time before facing the new school year head-on. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The good, the scary, & the downright ridiculous

Oh my words, but it's been a doozy of a last month.  A DOOZY.  We just returned from a weekend of camping with the Boy's family and it was the worst example of how to successfully camp that I've ever heard of.  We've all forgotten matches or foil or even toothbrushes and have had to improvise for a moment when camping.  But, have you ever forgotten
1.  the handy little backpack to carry water and such for hiking,
2. the campstove,
3. all towels & washcloths,
4.  a hatchet/mallet,
5.  all of the bread for all of the sandwiches for all of the family members' lunches that you've signed up to bring, and
6.  all of your cups/plates/bowls/silverware?

All on the same trip.  As I basically drove the long way around the big city to get to the camping grounds (why did I go the long way? why did the Boy not stop me?), we basically kept thinking of more things that we completely whiffed on remembering to bring.  To be clear, it wasn't just me not remembering this stuff; it was the boths of us.  It was me looking around the shed where we keep our camping gear and telling the boy "I got the tent out...I think I got it all" and both of us either foregoing our usual pre-camping checklists or electing to only write down the foodstuffs that we needed (and that obviously still didn't work as I forgot all of the bread for all of the sandwiches and the Boy's side really likes their sandwiches). 

We DID, however, bring along 2 lanterns which need new batteries (i.e. don't work right now) even though I told the boy "Hey, here are our lanterns, but they both need new batteries."  We still brought them.  So that helped us out.

But it turned out to be a completely lovely weekend of camping, despite all of the head smacking going on.  And this was my inaugural effort at sleeping with our new mats (instead of the air-mattresses-that-are-always-flat-come-morning).  Two melatonins and six hours later, my hips feel a bit bruised but otherwise all went well with that.

With the next camping trip on the horizon, we're basically just throwing all of the necessaries in a pile in the garage whereupon we will not have to think too many pre-camping thoughts next time but will instead just fit it all back into the car. 

But we come by our absent mindedness honestly, folks.  We have been doing & completing & compiling piles of paperwork of late because, in part, we are selling the house.  (We've also been cleaning & discussing & cleaning & showing & deep cleaning some more.)  Eight years later, the stars have aligned.  It turns out, the market is pretty good right now for selling this little box, and four days after throwing the old "for sale" sign out in the yard, we were offered full asking price minus a bit of closing dollars; we looked at each a few times, stopped talking about it for the night, rehashed the "Are you really sure...I think we really should..." options and then signed to agree. 

This house was supposed to be a three-year commitment as we were young and didn't need much space, as I went through graduate school, before we were going to move on the proverbial bigger and better things.  But those biggers and betters didn't really materialize because in hindsight, we needed all the years of our 20s to really get those end goals figured out.

There's a good dose of comfort in staying where its familiar and relatively cheap, where we have the  walls painted our preferred colors and where a delightful pair of cardinals know that I'm going to feed them.  But this bit of land was really never supposed to be our final landing spot, and the upside of staying true to the potential we anticipate is worth something.  So when we figured out that we maximize the equity on this place, we gotta do it, even though there are going to be some really painful moments ahead for us as a family.  The girls, as one might imagine, are confused and scared and anxious about a lot of it but alternately excited about choosing the paint colors for their new rooms and finding out that they might have access to pools and new playgrounds. 

The flip side of the coin is that while we're in a great position selling our house right now, we're in a frustrating, difficult position buying a house right now because the seller's market here is similarly a seller's market there and houses are f-e-w and far between.  Things will somehow work themselves out, but right now, we have no house come 30 days after closing on this place.  

The impetus for putting the current house on the chopping block came about when I had a full-time teaching opportunity rather fall into my lap fairly easily and quickly.  It's not a "we have to move" situation but rather a "we get to move to where we've long talked about wanting to live someday - we now have the reason that we need."  The stars, good people, the stars...they are in some crazy alignment right now. 

So the future seems to be coming fast and furious for this little family, not exactly like we imagined it would be, which is kind of fun and lots of worrisome.  The whole lesson learned here is that when your world is full of the end of one school year, swim lessons, gymnastics, orientation days for a new job, selling your house, frantically searching for a new one, cleaning and paperwork galore, a little kitty boy who isn't eating much anymore, commitments to conferences, and teaching two summer classes, you just might forget to bring dishes and towels when camping because your mind is too full of all those other bits and pieces. 

When every part of you is feeling weary, it helps to have a bit of a camping boondoggle with beautiful weather and plenty of nature to reset and renew.  Plus, a good old fashioned campfire really does wonders for the soul.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The last of the last days of preschool

Interweb-type folks:

Tomorrow is the Younger's last days of preschool.  For realsies.  I have been driving one child there every week for five years and now that bandaid is going to be ripped off.  What was that...sounds of sobbing coming from my general direction?

No ma'am.  No sir. 

I'm not a weeper when my kids reach their little mini milestones.  I sure do love 'em, but I also love watching them develop and grow more than I do love reminiscing about the days of yesteryear. 

Por ejemplo.  When I think about how many fewer tears we resolve on a daily basis, I rejoice.  When I realize that I haven't torn my hair out over the smears of pasta sauce that missed the bib (i.e. LESS STAINING), I sing the praises of any and all.  And, when I hear my children telling each other how annoying they're being (and why...!) rather than hitting or screaming because they have words now, the hallelujahs bubble forth. 

Of course we have work to do.  Of course they're still in progress.  But, ohmyword, I love that they're growing up. 

I also love that I wrote the last check for preschool.  And that I don't have to drive across town back and forth and back and forth.  And that I don't have to make so much polite conversation with other moms who assume I'm all bleary teary eyed like they are.  (I'm pretty lousy at polite conversation and will inevitably say something that makes me sound like a blundering dolt.) 

I'll say it again: No ma' sir. 

However.  I don't really like Kindergarten.  I don't like that all-day K is the only option anymore and that we have to remember when "red day" is.  I don't have much in common with other Kindergarten parents, it seems, and I'm practically grinchy about Kindergarten graduation.  For the love...

The Younger is pretty stoked about joining the Elder at school next year, and what is probably one of her worst kept secrets, the Elder echoes that sentiment.  I'm already starting on packing all of those lunches.  (No, I'm not.  Maybe I should?!?  No, I shouldn't.  But I wish I could.)   

There's a reason we only have two kids: I can't handle the thought of packing more lunches every day.  Oy vey.  (True story: There have been multiple times when the boy and I say "Hey, we should take the girls to do ___ for the day," but then I immediately think "Nah...that means someone (usually me) has to pack lunches for everyone.  Pass.")  Everyone has their struggles. 

But there's someone who's not having the struggles, and that is the Younger.  She's fantastically excited about tomorrow because TALENT SHOW and END OF SCHOOL PROGRAM.  But after that razmatazz, she's just stuck at home with me.  She better enjoy her last day.  We all will.