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Dread


So tomorrow is our big move in day...finally. I thought the day would never come and now I am dreading it. Dreading it because there are going to be two move in crews madly dashing in and out of the house, ripping open boxes, and dumping and abandoning them like 'lil kindergarteners with their blocks. Dreading it because our basement project remains "in progress" and no furniture can make it down there yet which means Jeff and I will be lugging that damn slate pool table down sometime next week. Dreading it because it means my spring break will be spent painting what should already have been painted and organizing the whole mess-- again. Didn't I just do this last June in Jin Shui Wan #37?

Sweet words


Papaw met me at Starbucks and took the kids home.

Those words are so sweet to me. It has been eight years since we have had such back up; having family close by to help out with daily living and life's hiccups.

Meeting at Starbucks was a nice treat for all of us!

When Plans Change


I had the best of intentions. After subbing in kindergarten today, I was going to pick up Alex and start in on painting the dining room. The pale celery green just isn't in my house's color palette. I had made the preparations. The baseboards, ceiling, and windows had been taped. And all of the materials were out and ready to go.

Alex reminded me on the drive home, however, that there was a 5th grade parent meeting about the upcoming overnight camp that she gets to attend. No worries...I can get the painting done in about two hours and still be able to make it to the meeting.

We got to the house and unloaded. Opening the door was like climbing inside Satan's chamber. Hot! See, the drywaller is trying to speed up the mud drying in the house. I checked the thermostat. 87 degrees. Now give me a pool and a drink with an umbrella in it and I don't have a problem with 87 degrees. But standing in my work clothes, with a coat on, just thinking about painting made 87 degrees feel miserable.

I got changed into my old clothes, threw open the window and poured the paint. I decided to hit the trim first. The first swipe went on fine. It was the blending it with the next saturated paint stroke that caused the problem. The paint got gummy. Thick. The wall was too hot...warm to the touch. This was affecting the paint.

So, I did what was best for Justin and Alex who were complaining, for myself who had already painted with two sets of 20 kindergarteners earlier in the day, and poor Oreo who had suffered in the heat of the house all day. I cleaned up and called that part of the day over.

Papaw met me at Starbucks to take the kids back home, while I went on to that parent meeting. I got some cabinet stocking done for the new house too. That's just what you have to do when plans change.

Madhouse Move


The week I never thought would arrive is here. The week we get to move into our house. Jeff called yesterday to confirm everything for Thursday. He got the okay with a twist. There will be not one, but two moving crews moving us in to our house. One with our sea shipment and one with our storage unit. Moving in is always a madhouse, but with more people to direct and watch, it is going to be even more exhausting.

See, we had so many things damaged that we didn't catch on the whirlwind China move in experience. The darting movers didn't tell us about nicks and dings as they quickly threw things into place or dumped boxes in their haste to get done. No, we discovered things over time.

So this time I want to inspect things as they come in. Jeff will post at the front door and me at the garage door to carefully look things over before they get lost in the sea of dish packs and paper.

I hope we find that the extra care taken on the China side to wrap each item in cardboard and bubble wrap to protect the corners and sides of each piece truly protects our things. Otherwise, it was just another Chinese attempt to go through the motions of what is correct and dutiful. I am worried.

Weekends


One of the most striking differences between living here and China is our weekends. Of course, I am not yet comparing apples to apples as we are not yet living in our house. Distance, weather, and unsettledness have more than slightly skewed the situation.

A typical weekend in China would go something like this. During a Friday afternoon walk around the neighborhood I would bump into Mary Ellen who would then invite me in for a coffee or a beer from the Keg-erator. While standing in the street, Christine or Bonnie or any other neighbor would show up too. We would all make plans for dinner or Knock Poker or both when the guys got home. Kids would all play in the compound--bopping from house to house with a sense of freedom and choice. Parents knew they were safe and only a cell phone call away. And we always had plans-- fun plans to hang out with friends. During the Friday night gathering, plans for the next night would be made. Dinner out. A grown up bar hopping night. Movie on the big wall at someone's house. Back yard fire pit. Sometimes with one other couple. Sometimes with a group. Sometimes it felt like the entire compound. We were never left without choices for a Friday or Saturday night.

Here during a walk around the neighborhood, I might see one or two other folks braving the cold wind. I have only met three neighbors and we are only at the "talking about the weather" stage of our "getting to know you" period. Without furniture or silverware, I don't feel I am in the position to entertain. And making dinner plans with folks hasn't materialized since our weekends are still full of basement remodeling decisions and shopping for materials. We have traveled on many weekends to Indy and once to Nashville to see friends. That consumes our entire weekend and we had a lot of fun. But the neighborhood togetherness is different. We are not "all in this together" the way it was in China. Making good friends is going to be harder. Take more time. And I think it might require a Keg-erator!

Political Correctness


Political Correctness is alive and well at school. Many of the classroom teachers no longer call me "The Sub" instead opting for the much gentler and kinder "Guest Teacher". Therefore I was surprised to see that our old "Daily Oral Language" or "DOL" lessons had changed to "The Daily Bite". Doesn't that sound a little too aggressive? Why not Grammar Gems or Language Light Bulbs? I can see the cute graphics now!

City Cop, Country Cop


I wrote my girlfriend today recanting a story from my drive through the countryside to Mom and Dad's house after work. Christine is a police officer. She has told me many the story of her days on the force. This is the story of one cop's bad day.


Yesterday on the drive home I saw a cops' nightmare, well, maybe just a bad dream....one city cop car was in the middle of a corn field...speeding on a country road maybe? Swerving to miss a deer? No perp in sight. In fact, no other civilians in sight. He had gotten stuck in the mud. You could tell because of how deep his back tire was from sitting in the wet field. He had gunned it and gunned it to free himself from the muck. Mud was spattered all over the rear of the car. But that wasn't the nightmare.. The nightmare was that there were not one or two, but 5 county cops there with their lights on as a wrecker was pulling the stupid city cop's car from the mud. How embarrassing! I hope there is an exciting police chase story to tell about why he is there. Otherwise, he will NEVER live this one down.

Subbing


I have been alone this week. Well, Oreo is my pesky companion. We flew the kids to Florida for their, oh so early, spring break. They are there with Mamaw and Papaw, cousins, and Jackie and Eric. While I think I can hear the squeals of glee chiming up I65, this house is quiet. I have been able to listen to the news, exercise, and relax. A bit of a break from the single parenting lifestyle I have had for the past few months.

School hasn't been so quiet. Each grade level is given one day a month to collaborate. This means they bring in a crew of subs to manage the crowd. Therefore the classroom teachers, in addition to getting some time to share ideas/strategies, get to dress in jeans and may even go out to lunch. The simple pleasures of an elementary school teacher. As the full timer, I am first on the list to be in a classroom. So every day for about a week and a half, I have been put to the test. Most days have gone well. I have my favorite classes, my least favorite classes, and my list...the list of kids to watch out for, especially when my head is turned to opposite direction.

Yesterday I was in the fifth grade, perhaps the most challenging of grade levels for me. I have taught fifth grade before and had no problems. But these classes, as a "guest teacher", are really a hard for me. The kids are huge. Most of them taller than me and many of them out weigh me. They are the same age as my Alex. But, oh so disrespectful. After a day with them, I just want to go home and hug my children and tell them how much I love them and appreciate them. I know these kids are a product of their environments. And based on the wrap sheet of some of my former students, I am afraid elementary school is not a strong influence on their long term decision making. Still, I strive to hold high expectations for responsibility, respect, and discipline. It makes for a tiring day.

The reward for me comes later though. After I have been in each classroom once or twice, that is when I become a recognized face. Someone familiar. Someone trusted. Then some of those tough kids say, "Hey Mrs. B" as I walk down the hall. It warms my heart. I know I am here for a reason. I believe all children need and want discipline. And while they may not show respect at the time of a disciplinary action, they secretly know it is right. It is that nod in the hallway or that pleasant hello that tells me what we both know.

New Memories


Time passes. People change. We have seen it again and again in our moves. Perhaps this has been the most shocking of changes though. Ten years away from home has afforded me only a memory of the way things were...not the way they are. Children, like my former students, have grown into young adults. Friendships of yesteryear faded as babies, jobs and second marriages took root. There is a sadness with the loss of the way things used to be. Like losing a little piece of our early years. But we can't dwell, we just move forward.

This past weekend we spent with friends from back in high school. Children in tow, we all met up at Tim's house for an evening of reminiscing and complaining about gas prices. Yes, the guys really all turn 40 this year. Funny to think of ourselves as adults. Especially the guys who relived the stories of reckless driving on country roads or stories of streaking or "borrowing" boats. Many of our children are preteens. Lord, help them to be wiser than their fathers!

It was a good visit. A time to make new memories.

I hate snow!


I had planned to stay late for Justin's choir concert. His dress clothes were packed in the back of the rental car (that is an entire story in itself). I had dropped off Oreo at the new house at 7:20 this morning. We would be able to let him out after school. Sure, it would require another trip to the house after the concert to retrieve him, but that was no big deal. I had packed a hairbrush and Justin's homework math book. Ok, I need to give the kid credit, he packed the book himself. But then the snow started.

Just seeing the walkers off from my school today at day's end you could see the snow and feel the slush beneath your feet take your footing away. Alex's school had already canceled some after school activities. So when Justin showed up at 4:10 to tell me that the choir teacher told him to listen to the tv or check the internet to see if his 7 pm show was a go, I was more than a bit frustrated. Didn't you tell him we don't have a tv or computer to check in our new house? "Yeah. He said too bad."

So I made a phone call to the school as I watched out the window to see the snow picking up. Office closed at 4. How can a school office close at 4 when the students don't get home from school until after 4? What if there is a problem and the kids aren't on the bus? What then? Ok, if in doubt press 0. 0. 0. 0,0,0. Answering machine. I left a message asking someone to please call me to let me know "if the show would not go on" because of our inability to get the information by other means.

Then I made my slippery way to the grocery to pick up some dinner. Something microwaveable, yet healthy. Veggie chicken patty sandwiches would work. I would get some lettuce and some cheese and catsup. Kids would be happy with that and some applesauce. While there, I got a hold of my sister-in-law with my cellphone. "Can you check the web for me?" "Nope. Nothing yet. I will call you if I hear anything."

Got back home after clearing off my windshield for the third time in an hour. Linda called. "Yep, show is canceled. You guys had better start your way back to Mom and Dad's." First I decide make dinner. I mean I had already carried the groceries in. "What? No microwave!" That is right. My brand new house doesn't have a built in microwave. You know when something looks funny to you but you can't put your finger on it. Well, my finger was on it now!

Arg! Time to pack up again for our trek back "home"-- I use the term loosely. Dog, book bags, Justin's spread out homework, the special clothes, the groceries. Threw in two sleeping bags just in case. Back on the road. About twenty minutes in to the trip and ten minutes before Justin was to have arrived at the school, his choir teacher called. "Yep, just want to let you know the show has been canceled. I hope you went on home."

As a matter of fact, I thought, I did not. I waited for this school system that is notorius for not closing school to wake up and realize that at some point before the students are expected to arrive, they might want to take into consideration safety. They might want to actually watch a weather report. Instead, I nicely thanked him for calling. And hung up so I could get both hands back on the steering wheel.

I hate snow.