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September 2015
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October 2015

A Litany of Complaints

Okay friends, if you've got any pep talks lying around, I could use one. 

Things are not HORRIBLE. At all. Much of Twitter is experiencing Actual Horrible right now and all I've got is a leak in my ceiling. 

But we already had someone out to fix the leak! And we were going to get a guy to come repair the ceiling and that was going to last us until the spring when hopefully we'll have enough money to gut the whole bathroom and start over, which is what REALLY needs doing. But as soon as I got out of the shower this morning the kids shrieked, "THE CEILING IS DRIPPING AGAIN!" and lo, it was so. Our top [main] floor bathroom is situated directly over the bottom floor bathroom [the kids use this one] and we thought it was the toilet, but maybe now it's the shower? 

We had our 5th contractor come out to give us a bid on the bathroom and while this is our first Fairly Reasonable In Our Opinion Bid, it's still a huge chunk of money. And he didn't include redoing our shoddy shower tile job, which we're pretty sure we want. 

TANGENT: If you had one bathroom on your main floor that served as the master bedroom bathroom AND the bathroom everyone in your home uses during the average day, including guests, would you:

OPTION ONE: Divide into 2 bathrooms, creating a hall bath with a toilet, large shower, and teeny sink, and master bath with double sinks, small shower, and toilet, or

OPTION TWO: Keep as one large bathroom, but replace giant tub with giant shower and replace current shoddy tile job shower with a sink, so that the pocket door dividing the bathroom would actually be USEFUL (giant shower/double sinks on one side, toilet and new sink on the other side). 

(I suppose it would be helpful to note that the bathroom currently has one giant soaking tub, double vanity, toilet, and shower, but a pocket door that divides it into tub/sinks and toilet/shower. It also has a door on either end, one into the master bedroom, one into the hallway, IT MAKES NO SENSE, your Christmas party guests feel like they're walking into your shower.)

OMG THIS WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE AN ESSAY ON MY BATHROOM. 

I'm also sick and I've been sick for going on three weeks and I AM OVER IT. 

I tried REALLY hard not to go over my grocery budget this month, but no one in this house is cool with being a vegetarian except... oh wait, probably everyone is cool with it except Phillip. And Molly, I guess. Future Post: How Molly Is Mini-Phillip.

I screwed up Molly's Halloween costume. Royally. 

I absolutely hate my hair, but if I chop it into my preferred long bangs pixie I'm afraid I'll look even fatter than the nearly 40 extra pounds I've gained this year OH YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT FORTYYYYY. 

Also, I spend an inordinate amount of time each evening ogling the gray hair multiplying over my scalp.

But you know what, I might be okay with all of these things if my four-year-old would literally get her you know what together and figure out how to use the potty. I pretty much never want advice about anything, but people, if any of you know the tiniest thing about potty training while on Miralax PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE put your assvice in the comments I BEG YOU. (I should note the other aspects of potty training are good, including night training, in fact, that was the first thing she mastered A YEAR AGO. WHAT IS UP WITH THIS KID?)

Let us pause while I figure out if there's anything else I want to sob about. 

Eh, I think that's it. Time to open that bag of Halloween candy that put me over my budget WISE DECISION, SELF. 


A Lone Wolf Enjoys Her Space

Day Two, Lone Wolfing. 

Oh, didn't I tell you? Phillip is in Vegas for a week [VEGAS] at a company conference. He keeps sending me pictures of dessert spreads and fancy appetizers, so we're not speaking to him. Easy to do when he's not here!

Lone wolfing with three kids ages 8, 7, and 4 is a FAR FAR CRY from lone wolfing with three kids ages 4, 3, and not yet 1. Or even with two little kids and pregnant. What I'm saying is that I did not have one ounce of anxiety over Phillip going away 4am Monday through 9pm Thursday because HELLO, I've got BIG kids. I might even have looked forward to it a tiny bit because does anyone care if I make Real Dinner? Noooo, no one cares, bring on the cereal. 

Don't worry, Phillip, I made them eat green beans with their Honeynut Cheerios.

I did fall right back into that habit of scheduling the crap out of myself for Lone Wolf Week. Tonight is the only night I don't have friends coming over for wine drinking, and that's because tonight I went to the PTA meeting. (FREE CHILDCARE. WHY YES, I SHALL ATTEND.) And even during the day I have done an incredible amount of socializing for a self-proclaimed introvert. Not to make it sound like I'm skipping from social engagement to social engagement, no, more like I spent the entire four hours Emma was at preschool having Meaningful Conversation with the same single person. AND IT WAS GREAT!

Gosh I love Meaningful Conversation. 

Tomorrow, though, tomorrow Emma and I are going to Rest. I am going to lay in bed with Two Dots (HATEFUL HATEFUL GAME) and Emma will snuggle next to me with her fourteen stuffed puppies and her books and the iPad and three blankies and we will only get out of bed for snacks. I will be fully rested for my evening of Meaningful Conversation with the friend coming over when the kids are in bed. 

Ohhh, this is where people get the idea that SAHMs have lunch hours. 

(That was an inside joke. I don't even remember how it started. Someone left a comment on someone's blog? About how THEY wish they could take a lunch hour like a SAHM? And Maureen and EBJ and I will think this is hilarious until the day we die.) 

But you know, sometimes it ain't all bad being a super lazy mom of a super snuggly four-year-old. 

I'm not all lazy. I'll have you know that tonight I 1) volunteered to update newsletters and websites etc. for the PTA and 2) sent an email volunteering to teach homeschool art class as an after school activity. LOOK AT ME JOINING THINGS. 

But I AM lazy. Like I am going to leave alllll the dishes because I will have all the time in the world TOMORROW. Do you know that Barry Louis Polisar song 'Tomorrow'? AKA the Mighty Maggie Theme Song? Yep. Going to bed. xoxo

 


What's happening at MY Seattle Public School

Fresh off the teacher strike we have a new reason to be outraged at the Seattle school district: due to lower than projected enrollment numbers, the district is cutting 25 teachers. They say they are "reassigning" them, though how "reassigning" saves the school district any money, I am unclear. Also! The Superintendent helpfully blamed the strike: 

Part of the reason for the discrepancy is that more than 1,000 students left Seattle for neighboring districts, up from 350 last year, Superintendent Larry Nyland said at Wednesday’s school board meeting. District officials say they’re looking into why more students left, but did note that the delay in the start of school due to the teachers strike could have had an impact.

Schools near district boundaries “lost students during the strike as parents found spots in Highline or Shoreline or Renton,” Nyland said at Wednesday’s meeting.

You guys, I think he is for actual serious. 

We live near one of these district boundaries and as far as I know, we are not losing a teacher. Huh! But I'd like to share OUR school's reason for flabbergasted speechless outrage. Ready?

This summer my kids' school - we'll call it Cute Kid Academy - was torn down [YAY!] to be replaced, in two years, with a much prettier, shinier, fancier Cute Kid Academy. You know how bad your building has to be to finally get money for a new building, right? REALLY SUPER BAD. 

In the meantime! Allll the CKA kids were moved into a nearby building that used to be a school, but has been some sort of artist in residence community hang out space? for the last 20 years. The district spent ten million renovating this interim building - we'll call it Portable City - to get it ready for our 300 or so kids. 

However, because this chunk of Seattle is growing crazy fast and because capacity seems to be Seattle Public Schools' most pressing issue, SPS has decided to keep Portable City open, even when the new Cute Kids Academy opens. 

THEN [cue the silent movie-style Ominous Music] they REDREW THE BOUNDARIES. 

Cute Kid Academy's free and reduced lunch rate is over 70%. We have a large population of immigrant families and English Language Learners. The new boundaries slice CKA's current attendance area in such a way that a seriously significant chunk of those kids, the most marginalized and underserved kids in our district, are reassigned to Portable City in 2017 instead of the brand spanking new CKA. 

One of our school parents collected some data and made a heat map of where our FRL, ELL, and public housing families live and overlaid the new school boundaries for 2017. This visual representation makes it abundantly clear that Seattle Public Schools is, in effect, creating an estimated 90%+ FRL student population and cramming them into an old, hastily cobbled together building, in an ignored corner of our city. Our current 300 kids barely fit into Portable City and the school is slated for FOUR hundred in 2017. Meanwhile, the new CKA, which was designed with this population in mind (a health clinic open until 7pm! A large kitchen with space for community involvement! A counseling center!) will have 650+ seats. 

There must be some explanation, right? How could a district in this famously progressive city, with Race and Equity teams on staff, who supposedly have a Race and Equity TOOL to help in creating school boundaries, have made such a colossal ERROR? 

But not only do they not offer an explanation, they won't acknowledge that this new boundary is a mistake. I have asked the district via email and in person for their rationale and have yet to receive it. I've also asked absolutely everyone I know who is even remotely involved - the district hasn't explained itself to anyone. For over a year, CKA staff and concerned parents have been trying to get the district to redraw the boundary in a more equitable way, but no one at the district or school board level appears to care. I was there when the director for facilities and capacity brushed off our concerns, backed up with real numbers, as "well, we don't REALLY know what those numbers are going to be." 

Collecting and stashing poor, marginalized, under-resourced kids at a too-small, barely functioning building flies in the face of all the research about how to best serve those kids. THOSE kids need to be at the new CKA. The new CKA was designed FOR THEM. 

CKA's staff, parents, and community members are going after this decision on a few different fronts, from cost of transportation to capacity issues. There are real reasons why redrawing the boundary in a more equitable way would work for us, save money, and not adversely affect other boundaries. And yes, we should be shoving those reasons in the face of the school board. But in my opinion, the shockingly blatant equity issue should be enough. It should be enough for reasonable people who care about educating all children. 

As I continue to learn about the myriad issues Seattle parents have with Seattle Public Schools I become more and more pessimistic about our chances. But I can't not send my little emails and ask my nervous questions and go these meetings at the school where I hardly know what to do, other than just sit there and participate in Being Concerned. Hopefully, eventually, I'll fumble my way into being useful. For now, be righteously indignant with me, Internet, and think good thoughts for our CKA kids. This is not okay.


Career counseling

I don't know how many years ago now I was pointlessly tweaking the blog and somehow deleted the chunk of code that collected visitor numbers and referral sites and all that good stat stuff. Good and bad came from this screw up. On the good side, I am 1) no longer obsessed with who and how many people are reading this drivel and 2) no longer disappointed when I discover the only who and how many is my mother. On the bad side, I DON'T KNOW WHO IS READING. Not many people are reading blogs anymore, so it seems a silly thing to fret over. But people are just WAY more google-able than they were when I started this thing. Hardly anyone knew what blogs WERE! There was safety in that! I continue to be more or less okay with being embarrassingly open book about my entire life, but I feel like maybe I should, you know, mentally prepare myself for the day when a super rad teacher I don't know at my kid's school is introduced to me and says, "Oh, you're the one with the blog!"

(That day was Friday.)

SO ANYWAY! This is why, even though I am dyyyying to write about The School Boundary Situation Happening In My Neighborhood, I'm not going to. Yet. Especially since I seem to be the only person who thinks the school district might NOT be a Nefarious Mustache-Twirling Villain in this whole mess. I'm hoping for Merely Clueless? Understandably Doesn't Like To Admit They Made A Mistake But Will Quietly Make It Right? I'm sure I'm being naive, but I'd rather be naive (for now) than publicly lambaste anyone. Besides, people were throwing around the phrase "media strategy" at the meeting I went to this afternoon, so I'll get to participate in a whole PLAN for that. I do enjoy a good plan. 

(If you are interested enough to email me, I will happily share the details. If you're local and don't know what I'm talking about, then especially you.)

Sigh. 

I've thrown myself into researching all this school stuff (in my district and others), which is new and good, but with Emma even more independent in preschool, I'm sort of wondering what to do with myself. Yes, I do remember that little boutique online bakery, but with Katie moving and us streamlining what we do, there's not a whole lot to work on. I do have a pile of paperworky things I need to finish and we continue to get orders on a fairly regular basis (without advertising! kind of amazing), but Thumbprints has sort of lost its luster for me as a PROJECT. Which I think is the part I liked best. We can't grow it right now so I've lost that feeling of having something to work on.

I realize now that I LIKED having something to work on. I'm remembering things I did before I had kids, like teaching myself Access to build databases at work (which was not my job, and actual tech people are putting their noses in the air, but this was huge for me). I taught myself HTML and CSS. For a while I was revamping the blog all the time, just for fun. I LIKE building and creating things, I like getting something going out of nothing. I think I'm probably more skilled at the part where you KEEP it going, but that part is definitely not as fun. (Oh, poor those of us with the spiritual gift of administration!) 

So I don't know. Maybe this thought process will actually take me somewhere, maybe I will shove it to the side and sit in front of the TV with a bag of chocolate chips. (Let's take bets!)


This week's Two A.M. Feed

Oh hello, Neglected Blawg. Here's this week's Two A.M. Feed! And here's where you can sign up for email delivery! 

 

THE TWO A.M. FEED
The Are You Serious, Seattle School Board? Edition


DRAWING LINES
Last week I linked to a podcast and a New York Times article about school integration issues. This week I found out there's a school integration issue happening in my district. In my neighborhood. The boundaries in question are the boundaries for my kids' school. There's nothing to link to (yet) and I'm not ready to do that anyway, so for now let's just read Nikole Hannah-Jones' reporting in last year's Atlantic about school segregation in Alabama and examine these charts about segregation in New York City. And here is a report called Housing Policy is School Policy that looks to be extra relevant, though it's still sitting in my bookmarks folder feeling lonely because 57 pages. But hey, when you are someone who generally avoids having opinions in public, when it looks like you'll need to use your timid little voice, you attempt to be as informed as possible. 

And also: SERIOUSLY? THIS IS A THING THAT IS HAPPENING? 

[cleansing breath]

SHIRLEY TEMPLE MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER
Okay, so this is some horrible Facebook clickbait, but you guys, I love love love Shirley Temple and I bookmarked this link to show to my kids. My grandma had practically every Shirley Temple movie recorded on a neatly marked VHS tape and I saw every one of them, sitting on her living room floor eating an ice cream cone. Oh, now I miss my grandma. Dangit, Shirley Temple! (Oh, and watching this is super weird now that I have a seven-year-old girl.)

POPE FALLOUT
One of my favorite Twitter follows, LZ Granderson, on Faith: It's Not Just For Straight People Anymore.

CUSTOMER RELATIONS
I used to think (maybe still do think) that the absolute best job in the world would be a guidebook writer. This blog post from the Rick Steves site (but not by Rick Steves) maaaay take away some of my perceived glamour, but he still got to see The Last Supper, so whatever. 

DON'T GET EXTRADITED
Speaking of travel, here are 25 Unusual Foreign Travel Warnings For Visiting The US

CARDS AND CLEAVAGE
Phillip and I had a whole big conversation on this lady poker player and her feminine wiles the other night. Read the transcript or click the link to hear her story on All Things Considered.

and now it's time for!

This Week In Nazis: I really enjoyed this article about WWII obituaries, especially all the ones it links to! And here's a piece about all the gold rushers in Poland thinking they've found the hidden Nazi train and now a maze of tunnels

This Week In SeattleThe head of the teacher's union is a tough guy in this interview. He came off as Mr. No Personality the one time I saw him on TV, but I suppose that could be the effect of staying up until 3 in the morning asking the school district for more recess. 

Tonight I go to a meeting related to the above Boundary Madness and then the Cheungs escape to Great Wolf Lodge for the weekend. If you can call that an escape. My kids will certainly think so, but I may hide under the bed with a flask of wine and one of those Magic Quest wands, thwacking away anyone who tries to pull me out. I hope your weekend is just as exciting.