Thursday, August 27, 2009

No update since the 17th huh? Oh well.

We had the Open House for 7-8th graders at the Middle School. Sixth graders are kept separate to keep them away from all the scary 13-14 year olds and we'll go back tomorrow to find out her homeroom teacher. That's pretty much it though. Today I bought lunch cards for both girls, P.E. uniforms for both girls, got logins to the school website for both girls and "joined" the PTSO. I did not buy spirit wear, and I was informed that they need athletics physicals if they want to try out for any teams. I knew that before but for some reason our Med doc in India didn't fill out those forms so now I have to scramble and get it done before school starts, because wouldn't you know, tryouts for Volleyball are the first week of school. yay. Hopefully next week. Funny story though, we looked up the nearest doctors that take our current health coverage (we're in the process of switching), and of the 10 closest recommendations, 4 graduated from Indian colleges, one from a Pakistani college, one from a Philippine college, and two others spoke Tagalog too. Next week we have the Elem Open House for the boys. Jonathon got a "Welcome to 3rd grade" postcard from his teacher today. That was pretty cool.

So, anyway. Did anyone notice I haven't been ranting lately? I haven't posted, that's true, but I still could rant if I wanted to! About the $15 fine on Rebecca's library card from 2003. Yeah, so she was 5 and most of the books I checked out, but still. Six years later? They don't forget and they want their money. Or that I can't find paneer in the grocery stores. How does "Global Food" only have Korean and Latino foods anyway? That's not "global." Or that to get out of my neighborhood I hit 2 lights a block apart and if I'm late pulling out from a stop when the first turns green, the second one is already red. But truly, it seems a waste of time and energy to complain. I'm still so tickled at living in the States that the annoyances aren't really there. I do a lot of shrugging and "so what"ing. The frustrations from Chennai are still plenty fresh. Not surprisingly, our only current real annoyance hails back to Chennai still.
We got our boxes. We now know why we couldn't bring our piano. Our corner desk. Or our heavy duty safe. See, you can't bring those things when 4 pencils get wrapped&wrapped&wrapped in 4 huge pieces of paper. You can't bring those things when a box labeled "glassware" that is roughly 2'x2.5'x2' has 6 plates and 6 small cups in it. Each individual cup and each individual plate are wrapped in: tissue paper - at least 5 huge pieces of packing paper wrapped and wrapped and wrapped - and bubble wrap. Then the box is lined with styrofoam, the items carefully placed and not necessarily touching, with a couple inches of shredded paper on the bottom, another couple inches on the top, and more filling any gaps in the middle. You could throw each perfect packages against the wall and it would be fine which I realize was the point, but when you live your life by weight and come into a country 1000lbs underweight (and with nothing broken), and leave the country with only one new major weight purchase, it hurts to know that some items are given up needlessly.
We only manage unpacking a few boxes at a time because once we've done few like that, we take a break to regain our composure.
We got our car. The battery was dead, as expected. But it was really dead. Really really dead. And one of the connectors had so corroded it snapped and fell off the terminal. Our excitement at getting the car was quickly replaced by a $1400 repair bill for a tow, a special order battery, new connector thing, new brake pads, oil change, wiper blades, inspection, labor hours... Apparently a strut (is that right??) by one of the brakes is dry (I think I'm messing this up) and to replace it would cost another $2K from these guys, but we don't think the car will explode if that's not done immediately so we'll deal with it later. It is so nice to drive our own car again. I really don't like the Kia Sedona we've been renting, so to return it tomorrow will feel great.
Last Saturday was an all around bad day though. Sending the car off on a tow truck when a quick jump didn't work, that was already painful. It was a grayish, drippy day and Ian was home with the boys waiting to hear about the car when his laptop died. It had been acting wonky and he was going to start over so he backed everything up (I married a smart one), wiped it clean, started reinstalling and... *poof*. Took it to Best Buy and seems the motherboard was fried. The car shop closed and no one called to say what was going on. We were heading to dinner with our friend Gwen so stopped by the garage on the way and cornered a mechanic who was lingering. His response was "Well, the boss didn't have anything to tell you." Hmm, here's an idea, before closing time, call the owners of the cars you're working on and give them an update, especially when you're closed the next day. Seems like good way to keep customers in the loop. All's well that ends well. We picked up the car Wednesday morning and I've been driving it since.
There's another story to go with last Saturday's suckiness. The girls heard about an audition to hopefully be in the next "Twilight" movie. Katherine texted in and I got a call back along with an appointment time for the girls to show up at the Youth Film Academy. Sounded like an adventure, something fun to check out. We got the audition script, brought photos of the kids, sat with 200+ other kids and listened to the slick talkers. We parents were asked if we were committed, if we were willing to do what needed to be done, even to fly to L.A. on Monday should our kid have what they were looking for.
Hah. You don't have to hear the insincere lines "I am not a salesman" and "I've tried to talk your kids out of this, now you have to talk to them too" too many times before they start to stink. The girls did their auditions, we went home with a time to call back the next morning and find out if they made it for a callback. Sunday morning we called. Rebecca didn't, Katherine did. They wanted Katherine to come back that afternoon and if she was "chosen" we'd have to move ahead immediately. The guy didn't say what "move ahead" fully entailed other than she was really "green" and would need training. At no point was money/tuition mentioned, and when I told him that I preferred her to do the callback audition, see if she passed, get all the info and THEN make a decision, well that was a no-go. He was all rush-rush-rush, make-a-decision-now. No mention of a role in anything and in fact if you google the names on their "guest speakers" page, most of them turn up blank. If you're really the guy who found/casted the kids in "Suite Life of Zack and Cody" your name should come up somewhere in the vast world wide web.
To say we had broken-hearted girls is putting it mildly. When Rebecca didn't make the callback she burst into tears. When we told Katherine we'd turned down her callback because it was a scam to get people enrolled in the Youth Film Academy, she was teary/angry/frustrated/disbelieving.
I don't know what's going on in their heads now, but they've both composed themselves. They probably still talk about it between them, but they aren't complaining aloud and I'll take it. We weren't the only ones taken in, and yes, you can say we should have known. If we had looked a little deeper and realized it was simply an audition for the school, that would have been one thing, it was the silly expectation of it being for more than that. I have no doubt that YFA may be worth it for those who audition specifically for entry to the school and can afford the programs. All they need to do is be honest what their auditions are really for, be upfront about their costs, and get rid of the crazy push and sense of urgency.
My mom had come with us to the audition and we went shopping at Tysons Corner afterwards, so it was all OK. We came home, dropped the kids with my mom, went to Red Hot and Blue with Gwen and drowned out the day in ribs and pitchers of soft drinks.
On a completely different note, we've met a couple neighbors. One stopped by and chatted over 4th of July. Another sent their girls over with some cinnamon bread that was amazingly good. We sent a few pashmina/scarves over in return and stayed to chat for a bit. They'll be homeschooling the kids this year. Seems a bit odd when there's a supposedly great school in walking distance, but OK. She's a nurse at the hospital, so I know who to call should any of my kids try to mangle themselves over the next couple years. Another neighbor left us a friendly note in the mailbox telling us to mow our lawn. Oddly, whoever it was didn't sign it so I could thank them.
Oh, and that cats are still fighting.
That's all for now. Tomorrow I'm hoping we'll make it to the Spy Museum.

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