What’s in a name? | Adventures in Bureaucracy

This morning I finally decided to bite the bullet and face the music. I decided to change my name. 

Having been married only a smidge over 6 weeks, I felt pretty good. I’ve heard horror stories of people who put off the big change for a year or more. Ugh. I’m still technically a resident of Maryland, despite my VA address (military weirdness) so I needed to head that way to make the switch, which meant a really wanted to get everything switched in one day to avoid multiple trips.

I had two main objectives:
1. New driver’s license
2. Update HR docs and new badge for work

I went to the Social Security Administration last week and applied for the name change. My new ss card showed up on Friday (only 5 days, what?!) and I took it, my marriage license, birth certificate, lock of hair, blood of a virgin, and incantation crystals to the Motor Vehicle Administration of Maryland, hoping for the best. 

imagesThe drive there was grueling as torrential rain made it hard to see and traffic had my nerves on edge. I finally made it to MVA around 10:30, trudged through the downpour, and found a place in the VERY long line for the information desk thinking if rain is the worst thing that happens today, I’ll be set.

Wrong.

I explained what I needed and presented my documents and talismans for sacrifice. That’s when I found out that I had the wrong version of my marriage license. I needed to take the version I had to the clerk’s office and get a certified copy.

Never mind that this one was signed by the officiant and bore the official seal of the county clerk’s office. Never mind that this was the version that the Social Security Administration accepted for my FEDERALLY ISSUED SOCIAL SECURITY CARD. It wasn’t a certified copy, so I couldn’t use it.

To add insult to injury, I was at the MVA in Charles County. I got married in St. Mary’s County. Which means that the courthouse I have to run over to isn’t even in the same county. Torrential downpour. Everyone closes at 4:30. Clock is ticking. Hmm….

It becomes obvious that I’m going to have to drive the 45 miles to the distant courthouse. I managed a win by stopping by my HR department and switching all of my work documents. New badge: check!

I arrived at the courthouse just after 2 and got the certified copy WHICH HAS EXACTLY THE SAME INFORMATION ON IT. I took it to the MVA location near the courthouse where I waited in line…again. All’s well that ends well though and my new ID is on its way. Soon I’ll be wildly identifiable.

By the time I headed home, the rain finally let up. What even ever.

http---signatures.mylivesignature.com-54493-148-DF2EE156E182748CB33E09C0A0EB0033

The Bedding Wars

Untitled collage

Our bedroom color scheme is black, white, and grey: a calming oasis of neutral tones in an otherwise chaotic household. I scoured Pinterest for ideas while simultaneously letting our budget remind me to simmer down when I feel like channeling my inner Joanna Gaines (I want to hate her, but she’s so freaking amazing).

I found a set at Kohl’s that I thought would be perfect for our space at a reasonable price. J had a business trip this week and the new bedding was set to arrive the day he left. I was psyched; I’d be able to have our new bed set up by the time he got home. When the new set arrived, reality of the situation hit me:

We have a king size bed.
I’m home alone.
The set includes a new bed skirt.

Fast forward to me, tipping the mattress up on its side while shoving the new bed skirt under it. Then the mattress fell on me as I got too close to the foot of the box spring. The additional weight on the unsupported box spring meant I was suddenly surfing my bedroom. I had to run to the head of the bed to right the box spring with the weight of a king size mattress on my back. The dog looked at me like I was crazy.

Eventually victorious, I made up the bed and basked in my adulthood and fancy linens. As bedtime rolled around, I faced a new problem.

The sheets felt like sandpaper.

After a restless night and a quick Google search, I found out that washing your sheets with baking soda and rinsing them with vinegar can slough off the manufacturers starch that makes new sheets feel rough. Simple enough. I unmade the bed and treated my new sheets to a 3rd grade science experiment.

Night two — a slightly finer grit sandpaper, sleep evades.

Four o’clock Friday morning (the sheets arrived on Wednesday) I decided that enough was enough and I was going to return the whole lot. I also found a beautiful set at Macy’s that happened to be 60% off during their One Day Sale. At 6:30 am I ordered the new bedding for in-store pick up later that day, and by 9:30 am I got an email saying my order had been cancelled. Apparently, if you order from Macy’s for in-store pick up outside of business hours, the system automatically cancels your order. I called customer service:

Her: Well, how are they supposed to fulfill your order if the store is closed?
Me: Um…wait until the store opens and then fulfill it?
Her:
Her: I guess that would work. But that’s now how the system processes things.
Me:

Order resubmitted (once the store opened) a sinking feeling hit me: I had to pack up the original bedding to return it. That’s me vs. the damn bed skirt again.

20170708_101440

I was able to shimmy the bed skirt loose and even fit all the pieces back into the original package. I began to wonder if a king bed was really worth it. Maybe Ricky and Lucy slept in separate beds to make laundry easier. The return was simple (blessed relief) and I picked up the new bedding with no issues.

Bed skirt: Round 3. By then, I was an expert and it only took me like…17 minutes to wrestle the stupid dust ruffle into place.

Our new sheets are smooth and soft and glorious. I finally have a grown up bed; I even have shams and throw pillows (aren’t they adorable?!) By the time I finally made the bed back up and the exhaustion of two terrible nights of sleep caught up with me, I slept like a log and woke up refreshed.

And if we ever have to change the bed skirt again, J gets to do it by himself.

I’m out.

http---signatures.mylivesignature.com-54493-148-DF2EE156E182748CB33E09C0A0EB0033

Suddenly Chaos: MacGyver vs. Mud

I’ve talked about the kids’ chore chart in the past. If you missed it, click here. One of their weekly chores is to take out resident mutt, Blackjack, on a walk. Each boy does this task once a week, which results in three long walks for the pup. The benefits are multitudinous. Blackjack is almost 9 years old so the exercise is good for him. As a bonus it wears him out so he’s less likely to dig in the trash and perform other acts of mischievousness during sleeping hours. Exercise is also good for my iPad addicted boys and gets them outdoors with the fresh air and sunshine and, you know, stuff. Rounding out the trifecta is the universal truth that a house with two children is always quieter than one with three, so it gives us a bit of a break.

So MacGuyver (who NEVER has to be reminded to do anything that involves exercise or being outside) takes the dog out for a walk. I was upstairs dutifully working on my grad school assignment (read: blogging and checking Facebook) when somewhere around 45 minutes later, in comes Blackjack and lays down on the opposite side of the bed from where I’m “working.” I can smell him, but that’s not unusual; he is a stinky dog and I have an annoyingly keen sense of smell. Up comes MacGyver, however with a look I’ve seen before. It’s the look a parent gets when they discover that a kid has done something wrong and seek them out. A sort of half-smile, half-I-will-set-you-ablaze-with-my-eyes look.

Through a gritted teeth, I hear MacGyver enunciate, “Blackjack, outside.”

Turns out, the reason the dog went to the opposite side of the bed was because he was COVERED IN MUD and didn’t want me to see him. Somewhere along the walk, MacGyver let him off the leash to run around in an open field. Of course, Blackjack immediately found a ditch full of mud and plowed in, head first. He got stuck, and MacGyver had to pull him out of the mire. Wet and muddy, they trudged home, where MacGyver brought them in through the back yard so that he could hose them both off. With the sliding door about 5 inches open, he kept the dog outside while he stripped out of his muddy pants and shoes.

Blackjack, sensing that this wasn’t going well for him, rammed the kid and knocked him to the ground, wrenched the door open, and ran for cover.

New problem: muddy carpet. From the back door to the bedside, a wet, muddy trail chronicled the journey. Fortunately, MacGyver sprung into action and pulled out the mini carpet cleaning vacuum, which is essentially magical.

The dog, however, had to stay outside for a while.

Never a dull moment…

http---signatures.mylivesignature.com-54493-148-DF2EE156E182748CB33E09C0A0EB0033

Suddenly Chaos: Flipflops vs. Fiber

  1. loveValentine’s Day was this week and J and I decided to steal away for a night of passion Chinese food and Costco shopping. With wedding planning and grad school and three kids and the hour-long commute between us that makes weekends the only time we get to see each other, the impromptu Tuesday night date was pure luxury. Especially considering he is working all weekend and I’m playing single mom to two of the boys and a very muddy dog (more on that later.)

I’ve had tummy troubles all of my life, and J is convinced that my fiber consumption is to blame. Thus, during our Costco run, he insisted that we pick up a jar of adult gummy fiber supplements. You take two a day and it keeps things moving. Fine, I say to myself. I’m sure I can use more fiber in my diet and if it makes my guy happy, let’s just go with it. I even took the first dose in the car to show I was on board.

We drop the groceries off at home and got the kids settled in with pizza before heading out on our Valentine’s Date. The plan was to have Mexican, but our usual place was packed. I could feel the first signs of hangry coming to the surface as my normally sunny demeanor shifted to she-who-must-be-fed. We settled on our favorite Chinese place and had a truly lovely dinner. We talked, we laughed, and for a small moment in time we were just a guy and his girl out on a date. No responsibilities, no kids, no stressful jobs. Just love.

There is a certain dread to going home from a date night. The probability that there will be some kind of mess waiting is pretty high and that means taking corrective action with the boys. It’s the part of parenting no one warned me about. The cynic in me walks in the house looking for the problem. The optimist in me prays that there is nothing to find. The exhausted pigeon in me tries to ignore it. The teacher in me knows that this is a teaching moment. The struggle is real.

Generally speaking, the house was okay. I noticed, however, that the bottle of fiber gummies from earlier looked a little emptier than it had when we left. Apparently, Flipflops (who is 13, remember) thought they were candy and didn’t read the bottle. Then this conversation happened:

Me: Who ate the gummies?
Flipflops: …um, me?
Me: How many did you eat?
Flipflops: I didn’t count.
Me: Ballpark it for me, kid.
Flipflops: I don’t know…like, 10?

There was a moment of silent disbelief before J and I burst out laughing. The kid consumed five days worth of fiber in one sitting. While not life-threatening, we knew he’d be in for some major clean-out. It took a couple of days for his system to right itself, and hopefully the natural consequences will encourage him to read the bottle from now on.

hi_and_loispiagetbabystage

Ah, this is the life…

http---signatures.mylivesignature.com-54493-148-DF2EE156E182748CB33E09C0A0EB0033

Chub Chub No Rub Rub

We need to talk about something serious.

Chub Rub.

If you’re a thigh-gapped freak who isn’t familiar with this phenomenon (sometimes called inner thigh chaffing) then Chub Rub is the unpleasant sensation of wearing a skirt or shorts in the summer only to have your thighs rub together in a way that convinces you that you are riding a bicycle on the surface of the sun.

It isn’t pretty.

1af251a911cb1919854f96c6cdad03aaIn my skinniest days, I have still never escaped the tyranny bestowed upon me by chub rub. I have great legs, don’t get me wrong, but I’m much closer to becoming a mermaid than a flamingo.

There are a number of home-grown solutions to this epidemic including baby powder to absorb moisture and lace, garter-like thigh protectors you can purchase. I’ve even been known to don Spanx in order to avoid the burn. Frightening commercials about the potentially cancerous ramifications of getting talcum powder anywhere near my lady bits have left me a little gun-shy of the white stuff and you can’t wear Spanx every day.

So I thought I was doomed to a life of painful rashes, bumps, and walking like a cowboy. But then I observed J getting ready for a half marathon. Before putting on his socks, he rubbed down the tops of his toes, his heels, and anywhere else on his body that might chaff with Glide.

original-product

Hold the freaking phone.

This stuff has changed my life. Runners and other athletes have apparently known about this stuff for years, but I think it’s basically awesome. No more chub rub, bra line chaffing, or heel blisters. Ladies! Wear your maxi skirts proudly and with confidence, the reign of terror is over!

http---signatures.mylivesignature.com-54493-148-DF2EE156E182748CB33E09C0A0EB0033

PS: This isn’t a sponsored post. I just think this stuff is really cool. That’s why there are no links to a purchase site. Ask the almighty Google or check at your local drug store or sporting goods store.

My “perfect relationship” is ruining my life.

enhanced-24053-1445984950-7

I am not a morning person. Seriously.

I’m under the impression that morning people are a bizarre race of quasi-human and shouldn’t be trusted.

I have a certain lifestyle to which I have become accustomed and it involves frantic mornings of oversleeping, hasty work preparations and speedy drives to school, while putting on mascara with one hand and trying not to spill my life-giving coffee. It might not be graceful, but it works for me.

And then came this guy.

J is staying at my house this week since the gremlins boys are with their mom for a month (!) and I’m still in school for a couple more days. It’s been a treat to have him around in the evenings, enjoying our snapshot of domesticity: making dinner, playing cards over coffee, etc. Since he’s sleeping in the guest room, I don’t notice when he wakes up until he comes into my room with a cup of coffee in hand and gently pulls me from slumber. Before I realize it, I’m caffeinated, dressed, and out the door to school on time. ON TIME!

How dare he?

I am not a morning person. I don’t do on time. I revel in the adrenaline rush of the last-minute. Nevermind the calm serenity of leaving on time! Where’s the excitement? Where’s the drama?!

Meh, I guess I could get used to this…

http---signatures.mylivesignature.com-54493-148-DF2EE156E182748CB33E09C0A0EB0033

Suddenly, chaos.

I spent the weekend with J and his three (!) boys. It was the first time I met them and I was more than a little excited, with a healthy dose of nervousness sprinkled in for fun.

I thought the biggest struggle was going to be packing for a weekend of endless possibilities of activities and weather. Despite what the calendar says, “spring” in the DC Metro area has decided to sleep in a bit and winter has stepped in for an encore. Add in a less than locked-in schedule, a couple of 5K runs, and church on Sunday, and my weekend bag was having a bit of an identity crisis. I was also the only estrogen in the sea of testosterone where five men regularly reside. FIVE! That means no bobby pins, flat irons, or clear nail polish in sight.

*brace yourself chickadee*

Turns out, the biggest challenge of the weekend was a matter of pets. J and the boys are dog people; friendly, energetic, loud, outgoing, did I mention loud? I’m more of a cat person.

Dirty, blistered, sick, and bruised, I hobbled home on Sunday exhausted, but ecstatic. I survived my first excursion into J’s natural environment. I got to see him in a whole new light, and it only increased my affection for him. I’m honored that he brought me into this portion of his life and I feel really positive about how the littles and I interacted. It will take time for me to adjust to my extremely loud and high energy future, but I’m exited for the challenge.

12994310_592997390856512_6143785930623525137_nPoint of fact, you’ll probably be hearing a lot more about the kiddos moving forward. Here’s how you’ll know them:
Flip flops – 12,  loves video games, baseball, and pizza. Does not understand why we don’t wear clothes with holes in them.
MacGyver – 11, loves break dancing and taking things apart. Good at break dancing, still working on putting things back together.
Little One – 13 days shy of 8, loves hanging out with dad, board games, and doing whatever his brothers are doing.

Hope your weekend was at least half as fun as mine, but twice as restful.

http---signatures.mylivesignature.com-54493-148-DF2EE156E182748CB33E09C0A0EB0033

 

The Silent Week.

Every have one of those things happen in your life where you thought you were prepared and you did all the research and then it happens and you had absolutely no idea what you were getting into and now you’re completely freaking out?

First year teaching, man. Whoa.

I started my job on January 19, a Tuesday (Monday was a holiday.) Two days later, Snowmaggeddon2016 happened and we got a 6-day weekend. Then two more days, and a scheduled in-service day. If you’re following along at home, that means I only worked 4 days in my first two weeks. Pretty sweet.

I took over my classes on February 1 and immediately realized I was not in Kansas anymore. Two weeks later, running on coffee, adrenaline, and stubbornness, I was feeling run-down and my throat was killing me. Normally, I’d ignore this kind of thing, but it seemed to be getting worse, not better, so off to the doctor.

Strep Throat. Life: 1, Simone: 0

silenceIf you know anything about me, you know that I am essentially a walking musical. I sing in the shower, while driving, in public places, at funerals (just the one time.) I sing directions to my students and my Chinese takeout order to a very confused Asian man. Every Sunday, I minister to my church as part of our worship team and then I lead a couple dozen elementary schoolers in worship during Children’s Church. Singing is intrinsically tied to who I am.

But for one week, I went silent.

I won’t lie, it was incredibly difficult. My heart yearned to express myself in music. The greatest test was church this morning. I’m on the mend, but still wary to cause damage by belting out notes on untested pipes. Instead I had the opportunity to listen. I listened to the people around me in the service pour their hearts out to God in music. I listened as 21 6-12 year olds sang sweet songs to the Savior. In a way I didn’t know was possible, my silence allowed me to hear the voice of the church, to hear the voice of the bride of Christ. Overwhelmed and humbled, I rejoiced for my sickness and the beautiful moment it allowed me to feel the presence of God.

How much would we hear if we stayed quiet long enough to really listen?

http---signatures.mylivesignature.com-54493-148-DF2EE156E182748CB33E09C0A0EB0033

The End of the Road | Internship Recap

So here we are, friends.

its-no-use-going-back-to-yesterday-because-i-was-a-different-person-then-quote-111 classes, 275 students, and 79 batches of GAK later, and I’m finally staring down the last week of my student teaching experience. After the first week, I wrote some tips for survival. They were all true and exceedingly helpful. But oh, how much I’ve learned in the last few months. I feel as though I’m a completely different person than the one who bounded into my first placement like an eager puppy back in August. So I bring you five more things I’ve gathered:

Learn names

Nothing builds rapport with your students faster than learning their names. Make a seating chart and study it. Force yourself to pass back papers. Stand at the door and greet each student by name as they come into class. Sure, it will take a while to learn all of them (especially at the second placement) but your students will appreciate your effort. I may never remember which twin is Kasey and which one is Kelly, but they know I’m trying, and they cut me some slack. Plus, I Kasey has the curly hair…ee25687bdad83ffb2d74923e46d4ad7e

Take advice…with a grain of salt

Everyone has an opinion and everyone has advice on how the classroom should function. Warm ups or no, read the objective or have students read it, individual vs. group work, the list goes on and on. As a student teacher, you are in a position to glean all the best advice from the people around you, but you are free to ignore the advice that doesn’t apply/doesn’t work. Be gracious, say thank you, and go your own way. In your cooperating teacher’s classroom, you need to be respectful of their rules and procedures, but once you’re on your own, it’s your show.

Steal everything. Everything.

Handouts, lecture notes, PowerPoint slides. Ask your mentor or content partner for their best work and more than likely, they’ll tell you to plug in a jump drive and take it all. Teachers are generous. As long as it isn’t licensed material (don’t be that person) take anything they offer. You don’t have to use everything, but it’s great to have a bank of ideas. Your county or school server is also probably rich with strategies.

Try not be offended

It’s going to happen; someone will forget about you. There won’t be enough handouts at the staff meeting or no one will tell you that you can wear jeans on Friday. It isn’t personal, but the team isn’t used to the extra body and sometimes, they’ll forget to include you. Or, they’ll forget that you don’t get department-wide emails and that you have to be told information in person. It’s easy to get your feathers ruffled – get over yourself. Assuming your team is generally good-willed, believe in the power of the honest mistake and don’t throw a fit when you feel left out.

Every once in a while, you might even be surprised that they remembered you. Like when your Testing Coordinator printed out a copy of the data-access instructions because he knew you couldn’t get to the server, or when a group of teachers throws you a going away lunch on your last day. Relish those moments and let the other ones go.

Be kind to yourself

This works a couple ways. You’ll have days that you blew it; not enough copies, your pacing was all wrong, and you snapped at a kid because you told him to stop rocking in his chair for the 573rd time. Try not to carry over the feelings of inadequacy and regret into the next day. More than likely, your students won’t remember and the only person you’re punishing is yourself. Be reflective, but give yourself a break. You’re still learning, you will absolutely make mistakes.

Which leads to the second part: take care of your body and soul. Student teaching is a lot of work, but you’re no good to anyone if you are sick and worn down all the time. Take time to sleep, exercise, see friends, or hang out with your boyfriend. Balance is key; better to start setting boundaries at the beginning, than when you’re already drowning.

Have fun

It sounds cliche, but honestly, these can be some of the best times of your life. Enjoy the ride, learn all you can, and take time to appreciate the whirlwind experience. Before you know it, it will be over and you’ll be thrust terrifyingly into first year teaching.

http---signatures.mylivesignature.com-54493-148-DF2EE156E182748CB33E09C0A0EB0033

Does the Universe Dare Disturb Me? Apparently.

A couple weeks ago I was leaving school at the end of an incredibly long day. It was dark and had been raining; the yellowish glow of sodium lights cast a vaguely mysterious haze over the glistening parking lot. At any moment I felt someone may step out from the shadows and begin reciting Prufrock.

Do I dare disturb the universe?

Anyway. I made my way to my car, enormous teacher tote, handbag, and coffee cup in tow. Just as I was about to grasp the door handle to unload my cargo, my leading foot slipped and I jolted forward in a decidedly unladylike fashion.

So far, nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. I’m notoriously clumsy. My greatest hits include Falling Up the StairsWhere Did That Bruise Come From, and the holiday classic Maybe You Should Live in a Bubble. I am the queen of random marks, cuts, and scrapes. On more than one occasion, this is completely true, I’ve had a quasi-intervention where coworkers or concerned friends tell me that it’s okay to seek help if I’m in an abusive relationship. It’s bad, friends.

healthy-food_0611131I looked down at my feet, expecting to see a puddle or some kind of oil left on the pavement. Instead, what I see stopped me in my tracks. In a classic move that I couldn’t make up if I tried, I slipped on a banana peel. A BANANA PEEL. The absurdity of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks and left me gasping for breath as my laughter bubbled to the surface. Somewhere between the classroom and my vehicle I had transformed from a respectable college instructor to a cartoon villain.

Do you ever have one of those days when  you think, this might as well be my life?

You win this round, universe.

http---signatures.mylivesignature.com-54493-148-DF2EE156E182748CB33E09C0A0EB0033