25 May 2007

(Where) Do We Go from Here?

As C gets ready to enter his last year as an indentured servant, we have been doing a lot of research on where we want to move. Given that C teaches (and teaches math and ESL at that!), we know that there will be available jobs all over the country. It’s really a baffling thought: we can move anywhere we want. We just have to narrow it down. I basically ruled out the entire deep south due to climate. We ruled out Seattle, New York, Chicago, and all of California due to high housing costs. We ruled out Alaska and Hawaii due to distance. And we ruled out most of the midwest due to the fact that it’s just too boring there. That still leaves a lot of potential places.

We always thought, “Of course we’ll move; we can’t afford to stay here.” But now we’re not so sure. We’re learning that C’s current school district has some definite plusses.

  • First, the pay. This has to matter. C will make more as a second-year teacher than a lot of teachers in other states will EVER make. This is huge.
  • Second, the work of the union. Being in a liberal state means that C has very strong union representation. His teachers' union has negotiated nearly 5% yearly increases for the next three years, in addition to the usual step increases. So not only is his salary relatively high right now, by school year 2009 (only two years from now), he will be making 130% of his current salary. Amazing.
  • Third, the benefits. Oooh, the benefits. Our (my) previous number one choice for place to live is (was) Fort Collins, Colorado. Their pay isn’t great, but it’s about average and the housing is affordable. However, some research told us that the health insurance through the district costs the employee over $500 a month for the employee and the employee’s family. The costs for a school district in Denver were over $1,000 per month. How do these districts expect employees who are making slightly over $36,000 a year afford insurance at those costs?! Compare that to our current school district: when we have kids, our insurance will be a whopping $80 per month. And that’s for everyone and everything: health, prescription, dental, and vision. Unbelievable.
  • Fourth, next year he’ll have three prep periods. THREE. This mean he’s only teaching four classes per day. Compare this to Utah, who “generously” gave their teachers pay raises in exchange for increasing their teaching load to seven periods a day, with no prep classes. It’s almost embarrassing.

Those of you who know me will definitely know how depressed this makes me. But I just can’t ignore these facts. The only stumbling block to staying here would be the housing market. If things continue as they are, it’s quite possible we would be able to afford something fairly close, even as close as Baltimore. Just something we’re going to have to think about.

23 May 2007

Read on a Washington Post Online Chat Today

Re: Romney: Why are Mormons so often gorgeous-looking? Is it something they do in those temples? The holy undergarments?

Amy Argetsinger: It's all that clean, healthy living. Possibly we'd all look like that if we didn't drink.

21 May 2007

Is it a Dog or a Baby?

I am really enjoying having Bruno around. He truly is proving himself to be a great little dog. But I feel like I have an 18-month-old child instead of an 18-month-old pug.

First, we don't fully trust him to not make accidents in the house (mainly because he did this a couple of times and was about to do it a couple of other times), so we have to watch him constantly. This constant watching means C and I can't both leave the room at the same time. We can't go to the bathroom at the same time. We can't go into the spare bedroom at the same time. When we're in the kitchen at the same time, we feel like someone still has to keep an eye on him. And this constant watching is tiring.

Second, I'm worrying about him constantly. Last Thursday was the FHE-themed enrichment. C was asked to run the child care, so we were both out of the house. Away from the pug. On our first full day with him. I was totally distraught. The enrichment went long, and we didn't get home until nearly 9:00 p.m. I was sick the whole time. Was he alright? Did he think we abandoned him? Was he learning to resent us? Was he hungry or thirsty? Did he need to be let out to go to the bathroom? I will never say that my sister (or any new mom for that matter) is freaking out unnecessarily. I am learning that it's natural. I fully expect to do the same thing when it happens to me.

Third, I'm learning that it's much harder for the two of us to get out of the house together. To do so, we have to barricade the kitchen and confine him to the 8'x10' area. As he already spends our entire workday confined in this area, I am loathe to do it to him after we have come home from work. So now, I will go grocery shopping...alone. C will run to him parents' house...alone. And going for ice cream on a date is going to seem very exciting.

Fourth, I'm taking tons of pictures.

18 May 2007

Fun and Flashbacks for Fridays

What do you think? Is this Bruno's long-lost brother? We think so! In fact, this dog lives in our area; we think they should meet! Here's another picture of our little dog.

Also, now that classes are over I've been doing a little sewing. Here are the results. Maybe I should make one for Bruno??

Flashback # 1: With all the fires all over the country, I'm reminded of a time when I lived in Orem. I have always liked to keep my windows open in my house unless the weather dictates otherwise. I awoke sometime during one open-windowed night, and my condo reeked of fire. My initial response was panic as I thought my condo was on fire. After a check of the place revealed no open fires, I realized that the fires going on near "Y" mountain had created smoke (duh) but that the smoke had permeated my entire apartment, as well as entire Utah County. I quickly closed the windows and turned on the air conditioning. It was about a week until the smoke smell was entirely gone. It was really unbelievable how smoky my little place could get.

Flashback # 2: I had a series of awake-mares (basically my irrational fears that are not dreamed) that a homeless man was taking up residence in my spare bathroom in my condo. I came home one day to a closed spare bathroom door, which I usually left open. This sudden closure led to only one possible explanation: someone was in there bathing. And that someone had to be a homeless man. I avoided the back area of my condo until my home teachers came for their next visit and were able to clear the area of the (nonexistent) homeless man. Luckily, I had very faithful home teachers at this time, and although I do not remember how long it was until their next visit, I can be assured it was at most 30 days. Aah, those home teachers. Now there's a post for another day.

17 May 2007

It's a Boy...Pug!

Well, we did it. Last night we added Bruno to our family, and already we're in love. He's a one-and-a-half year old pug. He's already house-trained (and so far no accidents!). He follows us around the house and loves playing with his toys. But, of course, the funniest thing about this little guy is his tongue. Yes, it is always sticking out of his mouth, even when he's not panting. It adds to his funny pug character (as well as adding to the general slobbery-ness of our house).

Already there have been adjustments to our household. First, I can already smell "dog" in the apartment. I am pretty sure this is due to all the dog food we inherited from his previous owner, but we'll have to figure out something there and include frequent vacuuming. Second, I spent a restless night worrying about the little guy! Was he alright in the kitchen? Would he realize he could sleep in his crate? Was he feeling abandoned? Third, C and I had an early morning so that we could get him out and walked before we left for work. This might turn out to be a good thing, however, as we might actually speak to each other in the morning, thus replacing the usual grunts.

We're still working on the training though. We want Bruno to be a good dog, one who doesn't scare visitors, make anyone uncomfortable, and is generally well-behaved. We want him to realize that we are the bosses. Hopefully this will all come with consistency and time. But now that we have him, I wonder what's the point in having kids?!

15 May 2007

Still Searching...

C and I are still on the hunt for that perfect pug. Well, any pug, really. Everyday we watch the Post's classifieds, craigslist in about four cities, and newspapers as far away as Philly and Richmond. We are looking for an older pug (older than one year) because we don't have the time to devote to housetraining a puppy. We are going to see two dogs this week, and I can't wait.

This past weekend we drove to North Carolina to see some friends. On the way down, we read a book that covered all aspects of dogs: training, feeding, health care, and more. It certainly helped calm me down and reassure me that we might actually be able to be parents to a pug. The book is awesome. It points out so many things that I had never thought about and so many things I have previously done wrong. In fact, I think many of the things learned from this book can be applied to raising children. Here's a sample:
  • I am the boss (along with C, of course). The book tells us that we must show the dog that we are the alpha animals in the house. This is not cruel, and in fact, it is actually in the dog's nature to show deference to a more powerful being. And for kids? While I like the idea of being friends with my kids, I think it's more important to be the boss. The friend part can wait until much, much later.
  • Dogs love schedules. They thrive on knowing what is going to happen and when. And as far as I understand it, so do children. This is a good thing as I am about the most schedule-oriented person I know.
  • Dogs want praise more than anything. Current housetraining theory says that instead of punishing dogs for their wrongs, owners should give praise when they do something right. This should be obviously transferable to children. They will remember for much longer the one thing for which you chastise as compared to the 20 things for which you praise.

Given all this new-found information, maybe I won't need a book on parenting. Honestly, how much more to it could there be?! (To all parents: this is a joke, albeit a bad one. Please don't comment with a whole bunch of things that I'll have to learn before having kids. I do, in fact, realize this. And don't worry; I'll be doing far more research on raising kids than I did on raising pugs.)

08 May 2007

End of the Semester

I thought I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. And after teaching this semester, I do: a statistics professor...at BYU. I'm just not sure I could do it anywhere else. At BYU it was so much more fun. I was funner (yes, funner), the students were funner, and faculty were funner. But at the current Nameless U. (as it will remain nameless), well, not so much.

There are some obvious differences between the two schools. First, I was full-time at BYU, while only part-time adjunct at Nameless. Why should this matter? Because at BYU I had a nice office with a door and lots of place for storage. At Nameless U., I had to schlep everything around with me twice a week. It all gets very heavy. In addition, the office that they give to adjuncts is horrible. It has no white board; instead, it's stocked with a chalkboard, and I HATE having chalk dust on my hands. (I had my own whiteboard in my own office at the Y, sniff.) Also, the computer is ridiculously slow. It's got a really old processor with not much RAM available. It's really pathetic.

Another pro for BYU is that I had TAs. This is huge for many reasons. First, they did all the crappy work for me. My job was to show up and lecture. That's it. It was beautiful. But here, I'm actually expected to grade homeworks and exams. (The horror.) At BYU, I'm sure my students complained about homeworks, exams, and other issues; however, I saw almost none of this as the TAs were the first contact for the students. But at Nameless, well, I get it all. And you would not believe how much of it I get.

Another pro for BYU: the testing center. As I never was a student at the Y, I will never know what it's like to take an exam there. However, from the faculty side, holy moly, I LOVE that place. To not have to waste an entire class period for exam. To not have to argue with students about how the exam took too long for our given class period. To not have to create my own test summaries. That would be nice.

Another pro: the student body. I still haven't quite figured out why BYU students brought so much more joy to me than the current ones. Maybe I just got a bad lot this semester. But maybe not. They're whiny, slimy, and rude (one wrote "FU" on the second exam--nice, eh?). They swear and talk crudely about things I just don't want to hear about. Admittedly, there might have been some of these in the 2,000+ students I taught at BYU, but see the above paragraph about the TAs. Maybe it's their age. I had mostly freshmen and sophomores, so the majority were younger than 20. Whereas at BYU, I had students that were older than I; I can now see a difference in maturity levels.

Will I do it again this fall? Probably. I didn't create all the lectures, exams, homeworks, and quizzes just to do it once. But will I be wishing I was teaching at BYU instead? Definitely.

04 May 2007

FHE for Two

Our next enrichment meeting is going to be focused on Family Home Evening. I was asked to give a 10-minute spiel on " FHE for two," I guess because the enrichment leader figured I should know something about it. I don't. I should, I realize, but I don't. C and I started our marriage with weekly FHEs. But then, as most good intentions, well, we sort of started forgetting to do it. And then I started teaching on Monday nights, and we haven't seen FHE since.

However, that doesn't mean I don't want to do it. I do. I believe it's important, and not just because it's a commandment. But, as it is only two of us in our household (no puggy, sniff), it seems our whole life is FHE! Need to talk scheduling? Okay, how about in the car on the way to work. Need to talk finances? Okay, how about at the end of the month when I bring home the report. Need to talk gospel? Okay, how about on Sunday after we heard a talk. It just seems that our life is constant FHE.

So that's what I decided my 10-minute talk will be on. How do couples separate FHE from the rest of their regularly scheduled lives? Thoughts?