Autumn is…when, again?

Weird thing about living in PHX is that it remains so hot here well after summer that my brain gets real confused. I keep finding myself thinking things like “I’ll do that after Labor Day.” Like: I’ll start cleaning out the garage after Labor Day. Or I’ll start working on working on my yard again after Labor Day. Or I’ll look into a fall trip with the kids after Labor Day. Or I’ll start planning my son’s September birthday after Labor Day.

Obviously, dear reader, you know it’s well after Labor Day already. It’s just that it still feels, acts, and seems so much like summer here that I lose track of time and find myself still thinking I have loads of time in front of me to tackle the things I have slotted on to my fall to-do list when in actuality, I should have already started them. At least I haven’t already missed my son’s birthday?

did I meet a murderer?

I went to a friend’s house for dinner tonight, and one woman was explaining why she decided to reconnect the cord and sign back up for cable (namely because it was a bundled deal that would make internet + cable TV cheaper than internet + streaming services).

A man then went on to explain he would refuse to ever do that because of a long-standing beef against the cable company, in which he was slapped with an $800 debt that belonged not to him, but to a different man with the same name in the same apartment complex. His name is uncommon enough that it would be seem that would be incredibly unlucky for him – his last name isn’t as common as Smith or Jones – but not so unique that you’d be completely able to dismiss that as completely impossible. So he moved in only to find the cable company had mailed him a notice that the $800 debt had been handed over to a collections agency, it ended up on his credit report, and was a huge pain in the ass.

But here’s the thing. After all of that, it turns out that’s not even close to the worst case of mistaken identity he’s been through.

A few years later, it turns out that the police called upon him to come in for questioning. He had no idea what that could be about, but it turns out that there is another man with the exact same name wanted for murder. He explained how insane it was that there were these (very unfortunate) coincidences. His name, year of birth, and even where he lived in California before Arizona, all the same. He was able to explain it all away and obviously the police have given up on him being a murderer, but how many (ahem, white) people does this happen to??

I turned to My Better Half and whispered: “Alternate theory: the guy sitting next to us, he is the murderer guy they’re looking for.”

Let’s Make Everything Harder for Parents, Shall We? (Part 2)

When last I wrote about figuring out how to get Dawdler Preschooler into a preschool, as in a “real” preschool, not the “preschool” room at her daycare, which is where she currently is, we were practically driven to drink by demystifying all the horribly disorganized information provided by the district. We have finally made a *little* progress, so an update. Spoiler: it’s still nearly impossible to get through the red tape of getting information.

Whenever we call to ask a question about something that’s unclear from the crazy disorganized and inconsistent information that is scattered across the district website, individual school websites, and the state department of education website, we get asked “Have you checked the website?”UGH.

We have narrowed it down to 3 preschools that have certified early childhood education teachers AND an after-school program. Y’know, for those of us who don’t consider 7:40-11:40 a HALF DAY and have to keep working past 11:40. But when we try to schedule tours of each, we were told “Since the curriculum is the same at every district preschool, you have to choose one to tour.” Uh, so entirely dismissing the critical point that the individual teachers and their levels of experience and commitment making all the difference in the world? Eh, any teacher will do as long as they follow the provided curriculum and lesson plans, I guess. (Sarcasm, in case that’s not crystal clear).

Even better though: one of those 3 options gives families a choice between a “traditional” preschool and a Montessori environment. So, maybe we should schedule our one and only tour at that one? “Okay, that’s fine. You’ll schedule your preschool tour with us, and then let me give you the number of this ENTIRELY DIFFERENT DEPARTMENT to schedule a SEPARATE TOUR of the Montessori class environment.” Oh, lovely. Two different people to call. And they can’t coordinate tours on the same day because WHY WOULD YOU?

But wait. So once we schedule our SEPARATE tours of the preschool and Montessori at the same school and want to talk with and observe the after- or before-school care (depending on if she goes to morning or afternoon preschool), that is scheduled, can you guess? By a third, entirely distinct department, here let me give you the number to schedule a tour with OMG, just STOP.

We’ll just save ourselves a crap load of time and headache and logistical nightmares and decide here and now to unschool? Let’s just roll with that. I might as well put all this time & energy of tracking district contacts down and returning messages and waiting on people to schedule tours into planning out her K-12 curriculum.

Kidding!

Sort of.

 

Tempe bike enthusiasts: just stick to your URL, please

When I’m in a hurry, I usually tell people who aren’t familiar with the Phoenix area that I live in Phoenix because it’s just easier and faster than explaining that I live in the Phoenix metropolitan area but good GOD NO I do not live in Phoenix, UGH!

Phoenix serves as adequate shorthand for a ton of satellite cities that all merge together in one giant sprawlopolis. But if I have time and/or am not lazy, I’ll actually take the time to explain that I live just outside Phoenix in Tempe. It’s an important distinction.

Phoenix is enormous. It’s more than 500 square miles big. Its growth has been made possible through nearly unchecked annexation of land since World War II and 20th century car-centered geography. Low-density housing developments seep farther and farther out from any urban center, leaving gaping holes in between – with all the residual effects. Basically, it might be the world’s least sustainable city.

Tempe, on the other hand, is much more compact. It is constrained on all sides by other cities, and so it leaned towards infill development and higher population density rather than sprawl. Something about it just feels more like a community than a giant city. It also just feels much more sustainably-minded than Phoenix. We have a solar water treatment plant, one of the city’s golf courses is about to become a farm, and one of the big reasons we love living here instead of our giant sprawling neighbor is you can walk or bike just about anywhere you need to go yearround most of the whenever it is below 100 (so maybe 3 months a year). Now it’s not just us that recognize the 165+ miles of bikeways- we just got named the 17th most bike friendly city in the US. We have this whole awesome bicycling community group here who’s

Oh Jesus their acronym is TBAG.

I will now shut up about how hip my city is.

unfiltered thoughts: an ethical dilemma

The new French bistro down the street from my work is soooooooooo good. But, as it has just opened and my building is a bit off the beaten path, I find myself faced with an ethical dilemma. Do I:

    1. Tell everyone that it is a delightful little hidden gem and you should absolutely go there at every opportunity, running the risk that it will become as popular as it deserves to be, at the expense of me never having their cozy warm atmosphere all to myself again?

– OR –

  1. Tell no one to help to keep it hidden as long as possible so that should they fold I will not have to go on as extreme a diet as I would have had they stayed open long-term?

As much as I enjoy having it to myself, enjoying the peace and quiet as I sip my smooth, perfectly roasted coffee and sample their flaky, buttery croissants and delicate macarons, I am going to choose #1. If you are in my neck of the woods, you really must go to Delice.

delice-coffee-macaron

Let’s Make Everything Harder for Parents, Shall We?

A conversation in our house this morning:

Me: “…so the bottom line is, yes, Dawdler Toddler can start preschool next month, & there’s still availability, we just have to decide which of the 10 preschools in the district we want her to go to.”

My Better Half™: “why not just the one in walking distance to which we are zoned?”

Me: “No preschool there.”

My Better Half™: “So just send her to the closest one in our district that has a preschool.”

Me: “oh, sure. You’d think it would be that easy. But here’s the tricky part: preschool in our district is 4 days a week…no school on Wednesdays…and you choose the morning half day, which ends at 11:20 OR the afternoon half day that ends at 3:20…”

My Better Half™: “…can’t you just do both to get a full day that’s 8:20-3:20? Even though that’s NOT A FULL DAY at anybody’s work?!”

Me: “…no, because it’s exactly the same school day, just repeated twice.”

My Better Half™: “…so what are we supposed to do with her after the morning or before the afternoon? And ALL DAY EVERY Wednesday?”

Me: “…that’s an even bigger question. So there’s a before/after school program for those of us who, I dunno, work and stuff? But it’s only offered at some of the 10 preschools. There is one full-day option – it’s a Montessori multi-age classroom, but that’s only at 1 of the 10 preschools… and we’d be committing to the Montessori track…which I’m not sure I’m on board with…and anyway we would have had to registered forever ago because there’s a waitlist for that.”

My Better Half™: “…okay, so I guess we do the preschool that’s closest to us AND has one of these before/after school programs.”

Me: “…agreed. So now we get to the next question. Of the preschools that also have the before/after school programs, which of those do we want her to go to Kindergarten at?”

My Better Half™: “…okay, now you’re just talking crazy. She’s only 3!”

Me: “…yeah, I know. But here’s the thing: Since our elementary school, the one in walking distance, doesn’t have a preschool, she can either go to preschool wherever we choose and then switch at kindergarten to where we’re zoned OR continue on to kindergarten wherever we send her to preschool. There’s this thing where if your elementary school doesn’t have a preschool, and as a result you send your kid to a district preschool somewhere else, you can choose to continue on at that school where she started for kindergarten & elementary – y’know, so your kid doesn’t have to make all new friends at a new school all over again. So it’s really a question of where do we want her to ultimately go to kindergarten & elementary school.”

Both of us: <banging head on counter>

Me: “…and there’s actually kinda significant differences in curriculum & in quality in the different district elementary schools that also have preschools so…”

—-

Is it absolutely bonkers that we’re talking about WHERE TO SEND OUR JUST-TURNED-3-YEAR-OLD to kindergarten?! Is this INSANE or normal these days? Hard to tell…

Last call

Three weeks ago we made plans with friends to go out tonight to hang out one last time before they move. Ah, academic life. Our friends are at the mercy of the job market, so they are moving from their one-year appointments at the local university to another one-year appointment at a different university out-of-state. Anyway, we had to plan far in advance due to us having family in town and our Dawdler Toddler’s third birthday, so we agreed upon Sunday June 22. We went ahead and booked a sitter. They have kids too, and they did the same. Only this morning their kids woke with fevers and vomiting. And for some bizarre reason, they’re deciding that this makes for an ideal evening to cancel on us in order to hang out with their kids. Something about how dumping them on a sitter & running for the hills would be irresponsible, blah blah blah. Sheesh.

So we – My Better Half and I – were left to our own devices as to what to do with our valuable and rare night out. We had planned a great night out on the town. Hit a couple high points, Phoenix places one really would miss out on if they had never been and seeing as this was one of their last chances, we figured we’d go one place for happy hour, another for dinner, and a third for dessert. But since it was going to be just us two, we opted for a movie instead. Rather than waste all our month’s income at shi shi (sp?) restaurants we can’t afford anyway while we stare at our phones, we decided on a movie we can’t afford either. So cliche but since WHEN do movies cost $20?! I know, we don’t get out much, clearly. The last time we got out was when My Better Half™’s parents kept the kids for a night in November. As in LAST YEAR. And we saw a movie then too but it just seemed way cheaper. Probably because we didn’t pay his parents for watching the kids. And because we went to the $3 theater to watch something that had probably originally come out over the summer.

But back to last night. After the movie, we still had an hour to kill. We could’ve just headed home but it was the dreaded bedtime hour. Getting Dawdler Toddler and Baby to go to bed is like trying to coax a particularly feisty raccoon into a cage. So we decided to let our well-compensated and rarely used sitter take that on for one night while we wandered into a bar to grab a snack and a beer before heading home. We were one of only 2 tables in the bar, and we ordered an appetizer and a beer and about 5 minutes after they brought us our order the server stopped by again to say “So, it’s last call, so are you guys going to want another?” No, we said. Then My Better Half™ high-fived me and said “OMG! It’s almost like we’re normal adults again! When was the last time we were out for last call?!” Now, granted, it being a Sunday night and a small neighborhood watering hole, this bar’s last call was at 9:00 p.m. But still! It really was like a brief return to being a member of adult society again for one tiny little moment. So our makeshift night out that cost us a fortune? Worth. Every. Penny.

reason #712 i’ll never be a brain surgeon

Last weekend, I took the kids to the Science Center, which is a little above their age. Well, only a hair, in the case of the 7 month old. But I went anyway since it’s age appropriate for our friends’ kids, and it was pretty cool. Except by midday, my Dawdler decided she had to eat a snack right away. Because, toddlers, ugh! Requiring food every 6 or so hours, am I right? SO high maintenance.

When we couldn’t find anywhere to eat except their pricey proprietary on-site cafe, Dawdler struck out on her own seeking a spot where she could sit down and inhale the stash of Toddler Chow we’d brought from home. She found a great little secluded spot where she could eat undisturbed.

Except it was highly disturbing to me. I found her seated in a dark little corner theater where there was a looping video of brain surgery.

I mean, I get it. She had no idea what she was watching, and the Science Center is noisy and crowded, which can be a difficult environment for her, as she’s shy in temperament.

But I would have strongly preferred the other corner theater. The one with a looping video of a birth. Either way, I guess it solved the problem of I hadn’t brought any Mommy Chow.

(un)lucky day

Today is my lucky day. I came thiiiiiiiis close to somebody T-boning me on my way to work. I had just pulled out of my driveway and started driving to work past my neighbors’ and was just starting to look for something to listen to when

WHOA!

HEY!

OHMYGOD!

This car comes backing out (at great speed, mind you) with no regard whatsoever to me being RIGHT. THERE. Like RIGHT THERE. I was so busy swerving that I didn’t have time to react and find the horn.

Whew!

Wait a minute.

You mean I came thiiiiiiiis close to getting my car totaled? My piece of shit car that I have come to despise and pray for it to die peacefully in its sleep (as opposed to violently on the side of the interstate)? And it would have happened in an accident that would’ve left me completely unharmed and been 100% somebody else’s fault? And I would’ve gotten an insurance check (cha-ching!) for someone to take the piece of shit* off my hands?

Goddamnit!

This is not my lucky day.

—-

* Full disclosure: I realize that in the grand scheme of things this would not actually have solved any problems. a) My car is not entirely a piece of shit. It has, after all, loyally and unquestioningly given me 13 solid years, 177,000+ miles, and at least two epic cross-country road trips from AZ to TN & back. But it passed its prime long ago for sure. It has been overheating daily for at least three weeks. It is too small to hold the Toddler’s Dawdler’s carseat because the power seat, long ago broken, will not move forward enough to accommodate it. In fact it *barely* accommodates Baby’s carseat. And then there’s cosmetic issues, not the least of which is that its coat, once a lustrous jet black, is now speckled gray metal molting tiny threads of black paint that get stripped off daily thanks to 13 years in Arizona. Basically it looks like it walked off the set of Mad Max. In 1980.

But also b) then I would have no car as we cannot afford a new one. Where new = new to me only. Especially because insurance writes you a check for the value of the car as it is today, not the price of a new (even new to me) car. Which in my case is about $1400, give or take. In other words, I could buy a sweet ass bike for that! Which would be delightful in 120 degrees. Between daycare for two children under the age of 3 and My Better Half™’s being chronically underemployed and woefully underpaid…there’s just no way.

So I’ll reluctantly call it a lucky day.

In Which I Gain 7 lbs in One Week

In addition to being sick, it has been too goddamn hot to set foot outside my front door. So I’ve not been going for the daily walks I so look forward to once summer is over. The September equinox may have signaled fall’s arrival to the rest of the country, but here it just means that in another month or so I might be able to part the blackout curtains that are drawn all summer long. Which, here, is at least 5 months long, give or take. (Please take, by the way. TAKE IT AWAY. I daydream that some southern hemisphere equivalent of a Nordic god will come and throw his reins around the sun and drag it kicking and screaming right where it belongs: safely underground until further notice. Or maybe Vermont since I hear it’s not all that sunny there? Maybe they could borrow it for awhile…) I get that I should expect it to still be this hot since I live on the surface of the sun but I am just over it. Every year I reach my breaking point, and this year, as always, it comes in September when it should not still be 107 (as it has been all week). I would be shaking my fist skyward as I say that but that would mean I’d have to expose my incredibly fair, delicate skin to even more sun damage. Where fair and delicate should be read as “formerly fair & delicate but now permanently sun-damaged and prematurely aged.”

In addition to being too sick and wiped out to brave the heat to get exercise, I’ve also been too wiped out to make multiple meals, which means we’ve been meal planning around Baby. Bad idea, as she has grown quite picky. Proper meals of a protein and vegetables – grilled chicken with vegetables, a lovely salad with fish – are all out of the question. She won’t eat any meat at all, nor most vegetables. She’s an utter carbitarian. A fruitivore. This means that our menus for the past week have looked something like this:

  • Mac’n’cheese
  • Spaghetti
  • Stuffed shells with pesto
  • Grilled cheese
  • Quesadillas
  • Leftovers of all of the above, served with sides of fruit and cheese

On top of everything else, now I’ve got another issue to tackle this week: our dryer seems to be on the fritz. All of our pants seem to be shrinking…