Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Car shopping

First some backstory…
When my dad died, he and I were planning on buying me a car when I got back from a school trip to Turkey. I was going to be going off to school and I needed a car. Dad and I agreed that he would take me car shopping, we would buy something not terribly expensive and the loan would go under my name, but my dad would make the payments (to help build my credit, it was going to be one more way my dad helped me be more independent). Instead he died and I missed the trip and inherited his car. Which means I reached 28 without EVER buying a car.
My check engine light is on, and my plates expire on Sunday night. Perhaps this doesn’t seem connected, until I tell you I live in a county (not a state, just a county) that requires that I pass an emissions test to renew my plates. However, with the check engine light on, I won’t pass emissions. I COULD fix the $1,000 part (it’s the sensor that tells the light everything is fine) and continue dealing with the broken window, and the body damage that makes me want to hit someone, etc. BTW, my dad had the part fixed. Four times. In two years.
I’m not fixing the part.
Instead, I wound up (partially through my own stupidity true) with two weeks in which to buy a new car. With a crap credit rating and no money to put down. Car shopping is…fun? Terrible? I’m not even sure.
I did internet research, decided what I could afford, etc. My first day out (first dealer, first car I looked at) I fell in love. It was everything I wanted in a car. A 2006 blue Ford Focus hatchback with low miles, good mileage and a price tag that didn’t kill me. The dealer was nice to me and explained things for me since I don’t know much about cars. BUT I had been told not to just buy the first car. Try a few things out, they said. So I walked away after telling the dealer I would probably be back later.
The next day my mom and I went to a few other dealers, where I found out what people mean when they say car shopping sucks. First up…Hyundai. The salesman only talked to mom, even after we made sure he knew I was buying a car, mom had just bought a new one, nad she wasn’t even co-signing my loan. Like to the point that she was standing behind him, I asked a question and he turned around and answered her. We left. Next…Nissan. They ignored us for twenty minutes, which I wouldn’t have minded except none of their cars had prices. Finally a man came out who at least talked to me. But he had a very clear idea of what he was going to sell me, before he even talked to me. He ignored me when I told him the price point I was looking at, didn’t listen to anything I wanted in a car and tried to force something I hated on me. Then, when I told him why I was there (I wanted to see a used Versa) he didn’t tell me what he was showing me and tried to con me into a brand new car. Also, after I saw it, I thought the Versa was bigger than I wanted, and he was rude about that. Finally I told him I wasn’t buying a new car and he goes “Then I don’t think I can help.” To which I replied “Okay, thanks for your time.” I got ready to leave but mom was off changing Nick’s diaper, so I had to wait for them, and he goes “Well…let me talk to my manager.” As soon as Mom came back we left, while he was still talking to his manager, because he was rude and I didn’t want to give him my money.
So, I called the original Ford dealership and told them I wanted the Focus and my SIL was going to take it to the mechanic for my on Monday (this was Thursday). Which they said was fine, but then called me twice more to ask my intentions. I finally told them on Saturday “My SIL will take it to the mechanic on Monday at one, if the mechanic gives me the go ahead, I will come buy it after work, I’ll be there around 5:45.” Monday afternoon my SIL texts me, they sold my car. Then they tried to get her to take something else to the mechanic without me there to say if I liked it. Then they told me that I should come look and that if I found something I liked, they could set it aside until Monday when it could go to the mechanic. Why didn’t they do that with the car I told them I wanted!!!
Today I went to a different Ford dealer to look at the Fiesta (so pretty) even though it only comes in 2011. I can’t have that, but if all goes the way we discussed Monday night I’m picking up a 2011 Ford Focus sedan in electric blue!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Filing, Reviews and Judgement

So one of my small children celebrated her third birthday today. Which means next week we have to do her “ages and stages” to assure her appropriate development. So today, to help make sure I remembered it, I went to pull it out of my file cabinet. Before the previous teacher left she had shown it to me in the cabinet, so I knew it was in there. I cleverly found the file labeled “Ages & Stages” and opened it up, to find…shamrocks. I kept digging, and digging, and… Eventually I found it in a file labeled “Fall: Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, Misc”. What kind of filing system is that?? I’d been meaning to clean out my file cabinet, so I started working on that today. Oh the filing people! In FIVE different files I found the same sheet of paper with several hearts on it and a line cutting through the paper and a large hole in the middle. I threw away every file folder in there and replaced it with brand new. I bought 100 file folders, and have less than a quarter left. I may have over organized in response to the complete lack of organization I found.
I also got my very first review today. I’ve never worked anywhere organized enough to be bothered with reviews. When I heard we were doing them, I got a bit nervous, just because of this summer’s parent complaints. Instead my boss mostly laughed at herself because she had completed the reviews in February and forgot to actually give us our reviews. That basically meant my review was even more out of date than anyone else’s because of the job change. Anyway, it went fine. I know a few people were concerned when I first changed jobs (myself included) were a little concerned about how I would take it, if I would be able to handle the huge change. My boss told me that she “liked me as the school age teacher, but she likes me even more as the twos and threes teacher” and honestly? I really like being the twos and threes teacher. It’s a lot of fun having my own class and feeling like a real teacher instead of just a glorified babysitter.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Shoe Shopping

Next weekend I’m taking Niece to see a play for her fourth birthday. I’m delighted at the opportunity to share one of my favorite things with her. For me, however, part of going to the theater is getting all dressed up. So for her birthday present I bought her a cute little sweater dress and some tights. Then I took her shoe shopping since I owed my SIL in some money anyway, we decided I would buy her dress shoes and we’d call it even. It turns out that buying adorable things WITH a little girl is even more fun than just buying them FOR her.
First, she was extremely pleased with herself when she needed size twelve shoes. If you’re unfamiliar with children’s shoes, that means she graduated from the toddler shoes to the girl’s shoes. Which also meant she had much prettier options. She tried on every brown dress shoes Target had, prancing around in each pair. I kept trying to get her to pick a favorite pair but she kept telling me it was whatever pair she was wearing. I asked her why that was and she said “Because you put them on me Aunt Tina” and continued dancing around the aisle. This would have been slightly more useful if I hadn’t put every pair on her, but it was cute nonetheless. She eventually decided on this adorable pair of slouchy western style boots with a tiny baby heel. When my SIL in saw them she just raised an eyebrow and asked me if Niece could walk in them. I told her Niece could dance in them, so I thought she’d be fine. Hopefully I’m right or I’ll never get to buy her shoes again, and it was so much fun. I’ve always loved shoe shopping, but this was extra special :)

Niece's new boots

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Getting Together

So my friend and I used to hang out every other week. Then I started working full time, and ever since it’s been chaos. We haven’t seen each other in weeks (weeks I tell you!) because I have to work all day, and she has commitments all night. Here are some highlights from our emails the last few days trying to arrange something (S-T is her to me and T-S is me to her)…
S-T: we NEED to hang out. seriously. we have gone far too long... lol... evenings, right? i am unavailable EVERY evening this week. bummer.
T-S: yeah, now it has to be evenings, so i guess i'll see you saturday and maybe we can do an evening next week or something. (she’s having a tastefully simple party)
S-T: Are you ever free on weekends? Evenings are usually pretty hard for me
T-S: weekends depend on my brother's schedule. . if he's off i'm free, if he works, i watch my niece and nephew, but there's still some free time in there, or we could take them to the library or something.
S-T: Well, let's see... I could probably do a Monday evening here or there. What time works best for you?
T-S: ha ha!!! you managed to pick my busiest night! I'm free the first and third mondays of the month (and the fifth if there is one). Which actually means i'm free this coming monday if you are
S-T: i'm sorry. that's actually our date night, but it's the only time i'm around!!! tuesday is bible study. wednesday is awana. thursday is usually choir (except not tomorrow, but i have megan... however, most 3rd thursdays of the month i'd be free!), and friday/saturday/sunday are usually crazy with family or social events...
T-S: lol, it's chaos! here are the choices as i see them...
a. hang out on the 3rd thursday of the month
b. hang out on monday nights that you don't have date night AND i don't have bookclub
c. hang out during my break time from 1-2 on workdays
d. something neither of us has figured out yet
Anyway, the point of telling you all this is to ask…any ideas other than the four I outlined above?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Political Climate Pt. 2

Last time I talked politics, I began talking about the divisive political climate in our country. What I think few Americans realize is that this is not the only time in history that we’ve disagreed about serious issues. This time it is getting out of the recession and health care reform causing most of the broo-ha-ha. From the beginning, our country was made up of people who disagreed. At first, we disagreed about whether we should even form our own country, there were people who stood behind King George and Parliament long before the first shots of the revolution were fired, even after the last shots died away. But let’s skip forward a few decades…
The year is 1856. The place? Washington D.C., Senate Floor. In mid-May Sen. Sumner gave an anti-slavery speech in which he singled out two other senators (including Andrew Butler) as committing crimes against Kansas in the Bleeding Kansas incident. Three days later Sen. Preston Brooks, a relative of Butler’s waits until evening in the capitol building. He waits until all the ladies (secretaries and such) have left the building, and then…Brooks confronts Sumner at Sumner’s desk (which is bolted to the floor of the Senate). "Mr. Sumner,” Sen. Brooks began, “ I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine." As Sumner began to rise, Brooks proceeded to beat him with the cane Brooks carried. Eventually, Brooks literally ripped Sumner’s desk off the floor and continued beating him until his cane broke. He then proceeded to casually walk out of the room. Sumner required three years to recover. Brooks received dozens of new canes from his constituents and remained in office until he died in 1857 (he was even relected!). This is of course just one incident, but all over the country people were shouting each other down, and generally acting like hooligans. Of course we all know that just a few years later in 1861 the country was at war.
One would hope that we could mature as a country. If the kids in my class acted the way people on the news have been, let me tell you there would be some serious time outs in order. Even my two year olds are required to let each other talk, but for some reason we don’t have the same requirements of our adults. One more comment from the news article I talked about last time…
Obama does not legislate, Congress does. Democrats have controlled Congress for 4 years, and have obviously have failed. Liberals will go in November... BUT... thank you very much for your waste-of-time novel. –Comment by Bandonite
Did the end of that comment need to be added? I think Bandonite could have more effectively made his point, and contributed to a more respectful political climate, had he ended his comment after the word November.
Election day is coming! Be prepared.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I talk to my SIL almost every day. The other day she called to talk while she was outside of her apartment. After we had talked for awhile we said goodnight and she went upstairs. A little later, my phone rang again, and it was my SILs number again. I was a little confused because she doesn’t usually call back after we’ve said goodnight. I answered my phone to hear my niece’s voice
“Aunt Tina! I got it right!” she said to me. Still puzzled, because if she wants to talk to me her mom usually calls me and lets me know and then gives her the phone, I spoke to my niece for a few minutes asking her how her day was, etc. Finally, I asked her why she called, and she goes “I love you Aunt Tina.” So of course I liked hearing that. After she hung up her mom called me back again later. Apparently Niece had stolen her mom’s phone, gone into contacts, and picked my number (there’s a picture next to my name) and called me, all without her mother’s knowledge. When her mom asked her why she said that she wanted to talk to Aunt Tina and Mommy was busy.

Today when I watched Niece and Nephew, we were going to pick up a movie and pizza (it was a special night) and I heard Niece tell Nephew this story…
“Jesus was crazy. He dieded on the cross. Did you know that people dieded on crosses? Auntie M wears a cross on her neck, but she won’t die on it. Aunt Tina wears a cross on her thumb and it scratches, but it’s not big enough to die on, so it’s okay. Alternatively she could take it off like when she works.”
I’m not sure where she got that Jesus was crazy, but her Aunt M does wear a cross necklace. I have a thumb ring with a cross on it, but I haven’t worn mine in a long time, I’m not even sure how she knew I had it. I taught her the word alternatively, and she says it much better than conservative (it came out convervative), and I think she must even know what it means, because she used it correctly. I tell this story to remind myself, even though she’s only three-she is paying attention. She might not always get the details right, but she is paying attention!

My boss told one of my coworkers that she thinks I’m doing a great job in my new position. Which is good because several of my coworkers had told me that they thought I would hate it, and not know what to do. One gave me a month before I begged for my old job back!
My class is learning colors, numbers, and shapes in English and in Spanish. You should hear their little accents when they say some of the words. “Naranja” (orange) is especially funny with their little lisps imitating my accent!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Happened At The Verizon Store

So, I planned on writing part two of my series on the political climate tonight. Instead, I'm going to tell you about what happened to me today. My SIL and I have been planning to go to the Verizon store and complain about our crummy phones for weeks, and today we finally did it. The man was very nice to us, and ordered us both new phones that will be mailed to us hopefully to arrive by Monday. My SIL mentioned being annoyed about having to reprogram her 100+ contacts, and the very nice man said he could load backup assistant for us so we wouldn't have to. He took our phones and gave them back a few minutes later, we said goodbye and left the store. A half hour later my SIL got a random text from an unprogrammed number. It turned out to be my brother (a number she should clearly have had programmed!). When she looked, she only had ZERO contacts! When I double checked, I had also had zero contacts. Almost an hour of talking to the ladies at the Verizon IT line, and we MIGHT be able to get our numbers back tomorrow. Otherwise, we both have to refigure everything out. Which is clearly crazy because I literally don't even know my mom's number, or my SIL's, or my best friend, nothing! Technology SUCKS!!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Political Climate Pt. 1

As you probably noticed, I love politics. I love feeling like I’ve done something to influence the way my country is run, even when I’m only one voice in millions I do have a voice. But I have to be very precise about what I love. I love the process of learning about my politicians, and picking the person I think will do the best job. I love discussing politics with a certain kind of person-the kind of person who can be respectful of a point of view they don’t agree with. I love signing petitions, going to the polls, emailing my representatives. I love being a part of the process. What I don’t love is the political climate among that portion of the population that cannot respect any opinion but their own.
At the end of a CNN article I read the other day, I skimmed the comments, and this is what I found.
Bush's mess did not go away when he got on that helicopter for the last time. His problems remain, until action corrects them. And Republicans have done absolutely nothing to fix the mess they helped create!! People that don't work should get fired. –Comment by TheVeteran
To me this seems like a reasonable comment. There had been some previous comments about how President Obama has had almost two years, and we’re still in a recession therefore he’s failed. TheVeteran is fairly politely pointing out what has been said before, that it took eight years to get us here, it might take time to get us out of it. The response he got was…
Obama, and all other Dems will never accept responsibility for their own failures. All he is trying to do is turn attention away from his failed policies. –Comment by Republam
This kind of bothers me, because during the Bush presidency I felt like anytime something went wrong it was Clinton’s fault, but when Obama truly has to deal with stuff leftover from Bush, he’s not accepting responsibility. It feels like a double standard to me, but it’s not what makes me so angry. Later this comment was made…
I just would like to say that I feel as if the people who are commenting on this page are way to harsh on Obama! You have to understand that we would not be in this predicament if Bush was not in office for the past eight long years. It took eight years for this country to fall apart, Obama is doing his best and what he feels is necessary to get this country back on is its feet. He can not correct all the issues over night or by himself; this is going to take time and more support from people in order to move forward effectively. And plus if you have time to write rude comments about him on this site why not use that energy else where such as helping people find jobs, and research other means of health care. Or better yet, U try being president for a day! –Comment by Ice Cold
The responses immediately below it were…
RE: Stop whining. –Comment by Dolleybird
Estimates are there is $1 trillion, to a high of $4 trillion, of investor money sitting on the sidelines waiting until the spend-and-tax Democrats are out of office. That's what will happen in November. You will know some of these things if you read the front page instead of the comics. –Comment by Bandonite
These two replies are fairly representative of the political climate. In this case it’s conservatives making me angry, but liberals do it too. Instead of just arguing the facts, people have to take it one step farther and insult each other if they disagree. In some cases, they don’t use facts at all, just “Stop whining.” I don’t think anyone is whining, I think that these are overall people who are concerned about politics in this country, stating their opinion and being shut down. I think this is what created the situation we saw this summer where townhall meetings were overtaken by people who didn’t want information out there at all. If you don’t remember, this summer when politicians held townhall meetings about the health care bill, many of them were shouted down and people asking legitimate questions were chanted over, or were not even able to get into the meetings because there were so many people there to protest. I’m not saying we all have to agree with each other, but I am saying that we have to be respectful of each other. This post is getting long, so I’ll finish with a quote from John Stewart. Later I’ll be following up on this with a few historical stories about the last time our political climate got this divisive.
"We live in troubled times with real people facing very real problems; problems that have real if imperfect solutions that I believe 70 to 80 percent of our population could agree to try and could ultimately live with. Unfortunately the conversation and process is controlled by the other 15 to 20 percent." –Jon Stewart

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I [Heart] My Town

Tonight I saw a play. It was perhaps one of the most harrowing plays I’ve ever seen, and I have seen a lot of plays. Big plays that everyone has heard of like Wicked, plays you didn’t know were plays, like MASH, plays most people have never heard of like The Beauty Part. Tonight’s play was a Pulitzer Prize winning play called Doubt. And although I could not see it again any time soon, it was fantastic. The play has only four characters. It is the sixties, Kennedy has been dead a year, and the Catholic school that in which our play is set has its first ever black student, a boy in the eighth grade. The action begins when a young teacher/nun comes to the principal’s office to ask about a student who went home with a bloody nose. While she is there the principal (also a nun) asks her to watch, although she doesn’t say what to watch for, those of us less innocent than the young nun already know she suspects someone in the school of harming boys. Eventually the young nun tells her that the black student went to the rectory and came back upset, with alcohol on his breath. I won’t reveal the ending, but it’s not the guilt or innocence of the priest that is the drama. The central drama is about protecting a little boy who never even appears on stage. A little boy who already has a full plate dealing with his social status, without the added drama of what is suspected. It was fantastic. The director chose his four actors extremely well, to the point that I actually think adding even one character would have taken away from the play. If you live in my town, you should absolutely go see it. It runs the next two weekends Saturday and Sunday at seven, and if you ask I’ll be happy to provide more details!
Another amazing thing in my town recently, was the cemetery walk. Our oldest cemetery was created in 1899, but has graves from before that, which were moved when the old cemetery closed. During the walk, a costumed guide walks you around the cemetery pointing out interesting graves and leading you to the graves of “interesting people of the past” where costumed actors give speeches about the person they portray. What I liked most about this (it only ran last Sunday) was that the people represented aren’t only the important (like the guy who worked with Thomas Edison and electrified my town), but instead also include the ordinary (like the spinster who worked most of her adult life at the Elgin National Watch factory eventually becoming the first female supervisor, or the gardener who worked at the Mental Health Institute). This was my first year, and it was especially fun because Kristin and I ran into some other friends on our way in. The cemetery itself is super pretty, and borders one of my town’s three nature preserves. The presentations were all informative and interesting, but not at all spooky. That’s because one point of the walk is to show people that the cemetery is really more like a beautiful park for adults, than a creepy place frequented by ghosts or whatever. And it is like a park. I have gone there and taken beautiful pictures or just read a book. I tried to convince my brother and his fiancĂ©e to have their wedding there, but Stevo thought it was too weird. Which reminds me! If you come back on Tuesday, I should have pictures of the wedding which occurs at Lords Park Monday morning. I will be the only guest who is over the age of 3, so I’m pretty excited about it.