Slide the City – Reviewing the Madness

This week has been a bit hectic as I finished my work teaching for the year and summer officially started for me. But I’ll come back later and talk about that as well as my new favorite recipe for peanut butter cookies and baking the perfect chicken breasts.

Today I want to talk to you about a little thing called Slide the City.

I signed up for this what seems like ages ago with a friend of mine, and the forecast became gloomier and gloomier in Eeyore terms as the day approached. Today has been a mix of rain, storm clouds, lots of wind, and patches of sunshine. But it’s actually the perfect weather for this kind of wet and wild event.

My friend decided not to go with me, but because I picked up her packet of things, Fernando graciously came with me. But let’s back up a bit.

So what is Slide the City?

It’s a giant slip-n-slide like the ones I used to ride in my grandparent’s backyard in Indiana when I was a kid. Except when I say giant, think 1,000 feet long, the length of three football fields, and stretched down a closed off city street on an incline. Got the picture? That’s Slide the City.

This is a great idea of what Slide the City looks like.

How many times do you get to ride Slide the City?

It depends on what package you choose. I chose the Triple Slider as that was the best value when I signed up. Technically the unlimited option is your best value if you get it early, but if you don’t, then I’d go with Triple Slider. Now, I’ve seen people from other events saying that there was no way to tell if someone was riding the correct amount of times, but at our event, there were volunteers checking wristbands and marking on the Triple Slider and Single Slider wristbands so people couldn’t cheat the system.

Now, let me tell you how Slide the City worked for me.

I purchased my Triple Slider in the regular (not early) purchase time frame for $35. The organization pairs up with a charity in the city (ours was the local Children’s Hospital) to give some of the proceeds to, and I think that’s the only reason I would ever pay that much money for a giant slip-n-slide. The week before the event, I received emails with an e-receipt to use for retrieving my swag and information about how to retrieve said swag and where to report on the day of the event.

Retrieving the swag was easy. I simply showed up to the event location the day before and stood in a hot, stuffy line for about twenty minutes before I got my wristband, tube, and mouth guard. They do have a pretty streamlined process, and I was pleased there wasn’t too much confusion about what to do; though the volunteers did seem to just shuffle people off with little actual direction about where to go in a long line of people checking riders in.

For people curious about the information that says you have to sign a waiver, I’ll go ahead and say I never did. I printed it out and brought it with me, but there was such chaos at the actual event I have no idea where I would have turned it in. On event day, there was no check-in station just a number of different sponsor booths set up, a place to fill up your tubes for a small fee (ours was $1 despite the Facebook response that it would be $2), a DJ playing obnoxiously loud pop music, and the world’s largest slip-n-slide.

By the time Fernando and I arrived, the lines were outrageous. We picked a line that looked deceptively short compared to the extremely long middle line. It was a huge mistake. The lines had different unmarked purposes we weren’t aware of. There were three lines, one for families with children under 12 years old, one for parties (groups of people who would slide together), and one for singles (only one person could slide at a time). We made the mistake of picking the single slider line, and we watched enviously as the party line moved at about three times the rate of our line. It wasn’t till Fernando saw a friend of his that we found out why the middle line was going so much faster. By then we were almost to the slide after about 1.5 hours wait.

My advice to anyone going to Slide the City: ask around and find out what the different lanes are for so you don’t make our mistake. 

We were able to slide three times, but after waiting in line that long and seeing so many more people showing up, we decided to call it a day after one trip down the slides. But what a trip! The slides were worth the wait, I think. You run to the edge of the slides, flop onto your tube, and take off. I can’t tell you how many times I turned around or hit the sides, but it was a rush! Fernando caught up to me pretty quickly, but I’m going to guess it’s cause he’s bigger then me.

Shh! Don’t tell him I said that. ;)

Overall, Slide the City is a fun event. My advice is to buy in early to get the best prices, and go with the unlimited number of slides so you can go early and not have to wait as long as other people.

Would I do it again? Perhaps not. I think once is enough for me. If someone wants to pay for me, sure. Other than that, I’ll spend my pennies elsewhere.

– RaeNezL

Winding Down…or Winding Up?

Things have become very busy for me lately. It’s surprising how quickly things become busy as a school year winds down. If you’re reading this, it’s been a couple weeks since I posted, and I meant to get back to this quickly. Guess what? I got distracted.

So here I am, waiting for my car to finish being serviced at the dealership. It seemed like a good time to post after I completed some other online errands. It’s amazing how many online errands we have, isn’t it?

Check your email, submit work assignments via email, make reservations, surf social media, post on social media, and everything else that catches our attention. We’re always busy in our online lives.

Well, I’m finally winding down a bit at least in my work life. Why is that? Because tomorrow is my last day of work for six weeks! I’ll be completing a full year of teaching ESL and hopefully getting lots of time to myself to organize that horrible extra bedroom. Yes, you read that right.

I have yet to completely organize the extra bedroom of doom. I’ve made progress in other areas, though. I managed to go through every area of my wardrobe and thin it down immensely. On Monday, I took a car full of bags and boxes to the local organization that helps homeless people as a donation. And when I say a car full, I mean it. My trunk was packed, and I had to fill up the passenger seat with bags and boxes as well. When the man brought out the rolling bin to help me, I filled it to the top with no problem.

I plan to go through all the things in the extra bedroom and our storage closet, not to mention the additional things in my closet and weed out more donation items here during my summer break. I actually feel so much better about being more minimalist when I do this.

Speaking of weeding things out, Fernando and I bought some new dishes because our original set were becoming a bit frustrating to work with. Besides, we really like Fiestaware. I’m really just becoming my mother since she uses the same kind of dishes. In any event, I suppose it was expected that we would eventually get new dishes. We took the old ones, including some nice wine glasses and put them aside as a donation.

Now we’re making them a friend donation because a couple of our friends are moving back to the area after being in Hawaii in the army for the last couple of years. My friend was so excited about having actual dishes when she moves back I started thinking about what other things I could offer her from my stash of items that I no longer want. I think I like the idea of being able to give my things to someone I know who can use them better than I do just donating to an organization that resells them to random strangers. I know Fernando enjoys it.

The one thing I have been doing in my extra bedroom is organizing my school stuff. I spent a long time trying to put as many of my school supplies into a state of organization based on type of worksheet and what part of the curriculum I would use them. I did this over several days and finally got to the point where I could store everything outside of the rolling bin and lockbox I was assigned from the school system. It was good timing because I returned those to the supervisor yesterday in an attempt to be done with them early.

Phew! Writing all that out is tiring.

And, guess what?

Next week I have to spend my time cleaning and getting ready for a beach and Disney trip! I spent my morning here making dining reservations at Disney for our December trip there. But we actually plan to go to the beach with my parents for a few days and then drive further south to Disney after the beach trip.

I’m going to be very busy!

I won’t really get to relax till after our vacation. Isn’t that the way it always is?

– RaeNezL

History Lessons

About a week ago I stood in my class working through the citizenship portion of my lesson plan. Now, for most of us, citizenship sounds like something we’d never have to worry about, but for my students, it’s sometimes as close as a phone call with a date and time for an interview in Memphis.

Can you imagine anything scarier than going to an immigration interview where you’ll be asked to answer 10 questions about a country in order to prove you should become a citizen?

I’m sure there are scarier things. I can imagine them, and you can, too. But when it comes down to the wire, these students of mine are telling me how afraid they are of this citizenship interview simply because it is a daunting task. And, well, I can see why.

If you don’t know anything about the interview portion of the citizenship process, don’t worry. Neither did I until I landed this job. Every person who goes through citizenship in the U.S. has an interview where they are evaluated on their English speaking skills as well as their listening. Now, you might expect that to be easy, but what kinds of questions are you anticipating? Not nice questions about the weather.

The interview features questions about the application a person submitted what must feel like ages ago by the time they get into that room. The application is multiple pages long and asks tough questions of a non-English speaker. So by the time they sit before an immigration official, they have to recall information they put down on paper, sometimes with a lawyer for accuracy, months prior about their backgrounds and their families.

But I digress.

The citizenship lesson I was teaching was about the actual questions that each applicant is required to study in order to pass the test for citizenship. Applicants are given a test booklet with 100 possible questions they have to study. These questions range over a number of topics from history, government, geography, and U.S. symbols. The thing is, if you go to an immigration officer, you have no idea what questions you’ll be asked, and you only get 10 questions to answer.

Applicants have to answer 6 questions correctly to pass the test.

As I was saying, I was going over as many questions as possible in class last week when I stumbled upon a topic that apparently left my students a tad confused. We were discussing federal holidays when I explained Columbus Day to my students. Admittedly, most Americans don’t care for the holiday as it’s just another mark on a calendar, a day for their kids to come home from school with strange cardboard hats and colored drawings of old-fashioned people in boats. But this holiday struck something in my students, and we had a lively discussion around one question.

If there were already people living in the U.S. when Columbus came here, why do we celebrate him as discovering the country?

Ohhh.

I had to pin down the real question here before I could answer it, but it honestly came back to the question of colonization. The U.S. wasn’t just a hunk of land with no habitation. So why did it matter that it was discovered by some strange European and subsequently explored and colonized by other strange Europeans?

And this was where our conversation led us. We discussed Columbus’ travels and how most Europeans had no concept of the world as including these other pieces of land we now know as North America and South America. We discussed the discoveries from the perspectives of Europeans expecting Columbus to sail west and find the other side of the world containing China instead of these strange new lands.

And I rediscovered how fun it is to teach these concepts to people who have no exposure to our version of history, no exposure to our education system, no exposure to what makes this side of history so interesting!

I say that not to say that history isn’t amazing around the world. I have always been fascinated by world history. I love learning about history in different countries. But to teach something that I’ve always found so simple and such a normal part of American history to people who have never really had this education is exciting. To see them understand this discovery for what it is, what it meant in its time, was something that really made my day.

And yet, I heard from my husband this morning that contestants on a local radio show couldn’t figure out how old the country would be in 20 years. The tie answer was 450 years.

How easily we forget our history.

In fact, the answer would be 250 years.

From 1776, the year we declared independence to 2026. We are a young country, are we not?

And here I sit, enjoying my students and their curious questions about our history, our language, and their desire to understand. This is why I wanted to get out of the cube.

– RaeNezL

Summer Daze

Can you believe it’s almost summer? I know, technically summer doesn’t begin till the end of June if we’re talking calendar days. But realistically summer is here for many of us. And that means summer plans, like going on trips, taking nice vacations, and relaxing in the summer daze of heat and sun.

I’ve already started a bit of my summer daze with Fernando, actually. I’m still teaching and will be till the middle of June, but we spent our Memorial Day at the local waterpark. It was wonderful to go out and get some sun and enjoy the lazy river and wave pool and then splash through the slides and water coasters.

However, now that I’ve got two extra days free during my week, I’m trying to make some plans for how I’ll spend my June and then my July, which will be whole weeks of free time. I might as well admit that I don’t want to get wrapped up in doing nothing for days on end because that leaves me looking a bit like a slug, complete with fat rolls upon fat rolls.

So in order to make some plans, I figured this would be a good place to announce what I’d like to accomplish in the near future!

End of May/June

This will be a month of teaching twice a week (technically four times but limited to two days), so I’ll be trying to use my off days to get things accomplished around the apartment. Here are the few things I want to get done by the end of June:

  • Figure out how to make a Paleo style diet for myself (and possibly Fernando, too). We’re going to the beach at the end of June, so it would be nice to make a change between now and then. Besides, I haven’t felt very good doing SAD lately and have had some negative side effects from that particular lifestyle, so making a change would be nice.
  • Find a way to budget my groceries that works. This ties in to doing a Paleo style of diet. It’s important that I don’t go overboard. But since it’s summer, it’ll be easier to buy fresh fruits and vegetables to make it work for right now. I’ll just have to adjust once the weather cools off again.
  • Go through my wardrobe and clean it out using the KonMarie method. This is rather terrifying, but I have way too many clothes I don’t wear and just need to donate to a good cause, like our local organization that gives back to homeless people. So my idea is to get this done as soon as possible so Fernando can make use of one of our dressers. (Yes, I’m taking up two dressers with all my clothes right now!)
  • Tackle the stuff (junk, garbage, excess, etc.) that’s filling up our extra bedroom and sort it, get rid of what doesn’t belong, and make sure to tag anything that needs to go back to the school office at the end of the month. This is the one task that terrifies me the most. If you could see my extra bedroom, you’d know why. I probably need a small army to come in and pull everything out of there, but there’s only me. However, since I do have to return a number of things to the school office at the end of the month of June, it’s important I get things sorted and filed in some form of organization prior to the month’s end so I don’t rip my hair out at the last minute.

Those are the top things on my list for June. Is that a lot? Maybe. But if I can accomplish all that this month, it’ll make July so much more pleasant. I won’t feel like I have a monumental task looming over me. And, yes, that monumental task is specific to the extra bedroom at this point.

If Fernando and I decide to move when our lease is up, I have to tackle that space anyway. So I might as well get it done this summer and clean it out while I have time and don’t have to worry about lesson plans clogging up my time and energy. Right? Right. Besides, it’s probably a good idea to go through and get rid of a bunch of the stuff in the apartment before we move. If I do it now, it won’t be as painful as it would be trying to decide what needs to go before we pack things away.

Here’s to spring cleaning in summer and decluttering year-round! What are your plans for the summer?

– RaeNezL

Beginnings and Endings

Life is always full of beginnings and endings. We always watch as one door opens and another one closes. In the end, I think the best part is being able to look back and see the things that we experienced and smile at those experiences.

This week is a series of beginnings and endings for Fernando and myself. Perhaps for you, too.

I’ll start by saying that the world of social media is a great place to watch people take their steps from one ending to a new beginning. Just this week alone in my world of social media, I watched the following:

  • A friend moved to a new city in a new state.
  • A cousin had a first baby.
  • Another cousin became engaged.
  • A friend announced a first pregnancy.
  • A friend posted her engagement photos.

All those beginnings! And each of them marks the end of something, too, when you think about it.

Well, we had our own humble endings and beginnings this week.

Fernando finished out his last day in the fast food world on Sunday. It was, perhaps, not the best shift he could have had, but then again, it’s over. And that’s just it. It’s over!

Poof. One shift, and he never goes back to work there again. He left his keys in the safe, and that was that.

Then I had my own endings this week.

On Monday, I spent my day teaching my class and another teacher’s class because that teacher’s children were sick. Suffice it to say my best laid plans don’t always include teaching four different levels of students! But it all seemed to work out in the wash as I was even complimented by one of the students from the other class about how she enjoyed my class.

Wednesday marked the end of my class, however. It’s the end of a school year here, and while two of my classes will continue through June, this one will not. I said goodbye to my students and enjoyed one last class with my ladies in this class (all females at this point!). Some of them will take amazing trips this summer, and some will go back to their countries, either to visit or to return forever. But wherever they go, they will always hold a place in my heart, and I’m hoping to see them again sometime September when classes begin again.

It’s amazing to think that I started in this class in September and went the entire school year with them. I’m so proud of the work all the students in my class here have achieved. They’ve done so well, and some of them have gone so far just in one school year. But it’s come to a close and is time to move to a new beginning. I just haven’t decided what that is yet.

On the other hand, Fernando’s new beginning started the same day as my ending. Wednesday marked his first day at the internship! He was excited and had bought some new clothes so he could go properly dressed in his business casual attire. It’s now all about learning the ropes for him as he starts a totally new position. I couldn’t be more proud of him.

Beginnings and endings are the markers in our lives, and this week has been full of them. Have you had any beginnings and endings to share this week?

– RaeNezL

News and Nonsense

If you’ve taken the time to follow me at all on any of my social media platforms, you might have noticed a few posts about my recent uptick in visits to local community places. Feel free to check out my Instagram for adorable dog pictures (link is in my sidebar) of Dobby the House Corgi as well as my food adventures.

Let me share a little of what I’ve done lately.

This past weekend was full of fun and mischief as I went out on an adventure with a local corgi group in my area. If you are familiar with the company Petsafe, you might know them as the group that makes lots of awesome dog-related products, such as invisible fences and various bark collars to deter unnecessary barking. Anyway, they also create gorgeous dog parks in cities all around the country, and we happen to have a couple dog parks made by Petsafe in our city.

(As a side note, if you’re a dog lover/owner and are interested in getting a Petsafe dog park in your city, you should check out their Bark for your Park competition. You could help win a dog park for your city.)

Anyway, I have taken Dobby there a couple of times now, and he isn’t so keen on it yet. He goes, but he’s more or less like a grunting, disapproving senior adult. He’s going along with it, but he’s only doing it so he can follow me around and make sure I know how much he disapproves.

Last Friday, I had a meetup with the local corgi owners in the area, and it was fabulous. It was full of laughter, fun, and water. Yes, water. You see, this dog park has a great area on the river that the dogs can just jump right in and make themselves at home in the water. Dobby was the only corgi there without a life jacket, poor guy, but considering his absolute terror about going in the water, I suppose it was okay.

One of the other corgis was comical in his attempts to get into the water. He failed spectacularly at swimming and was only saved by his life jacket and his derpy expressions as the humans all laughed at him. What can I say? Corgis are adorable. The best part was that Dobby did finally get into the spirit of things and chase the corgis around a few times. He’s starting to break out of his shell. Slowly.

Incidentally Dobby’s made a friend here at the apartments, and I’m so proud of him. He actually likes to play with this dog even when they’re on leashes! That’s a huge deal for our poor pup.

In other fun adventures, I went to BiscuitFest this past weekend as well. If you don’t know what that is, it’s simple. It’s a festival that celebrates biscuits.

Is there anything better? Of course not.

I dragged my parents along since I couldn’t convince Fernando to ditch work on one of his last days to come join me. Spoil sport. We went to downtown, paid $10 and ate 5 glorious biscuits of our choice. It sounds boring, but those biscuits were amazing. My personal favorite, and the one that won the people’s choice award, was one called “Mama Says Don’t Say Maybe To Chocolate Gravy.” There’s a picture on my Instagram.

But if you don’t want to check out the picture…

Imagine a confection–not a biscuit, a confection–of pure biscuit pleasure with the sweetest, most delectable chocolate gravy sandwiched between the two layers and drizzled atop it to pool in the bottom of the bowl. Then imagine a dollop of whipped cream and a slice of strawberry to top it all off.

Can you say yum?

I can. I did.

Excuse me while I drool a little in remembrance.

I’m quite enjoying participating in community events this summer. Apparently I need to find a few more of these sweets to join in. But for now, I’ll be finishing out my class days in style as I teach my students and watch Fernando learn a new trade in his internship.

How about you? Are you doing anything fun this summer in your community?

– RaeNezL

*Note: I am not affiliated with Petsafe in any way, nor am I receiving any products or services from the company for this blog post. I just like the company and thought I would recommend it myself! Check it out if you want or don’t. I don’t care.* 

Pee in a Cup

If you’re reading the title of this post, you’re likely wondering what on earth I could be referring to. Or maybe you already figured it out. If you have, you either have some secrets you like to hide or you’ve read my recent posts!

Silliness aside, I have to bring this up because I can finally announce that Fernando got the internship! By the time you read this, he will have finished his last day at the fast food restaurant of doom. In fact, on Thursday, his coworkers bought and gave him a very nice cake to celebrate his almost 11 years of service!

Can you believe it? 11 years of fast food work. That’s a long time!

He did start when we were in high school, so it’s kind of understandable, but I am thrilled that he’s gotten this opportunity to work somewhere else!

It was a huge surprise to us both that he got the internship, actually.

(Not because he’s unqualified but because of the circumstances!)

You see, he did his interview and then got an email about some things they needed from him, namely his unofficial transcripts from college. He got those sent in as soon as he could and then waited. And waited. And waited some more.

Finally he sent an email back to the contact person asking about the internship and when he would hear anything. Wouldn’t you know they’d sent him an offer May 1st via email that he never received? To add to that, it was May 6th, and he only had until May 8th to confirm acceptance of the position!

I’m so thankful he contacted them about the position! He might not have known about the offer if he hadn’t.

Well, after he got that sorted, Fernando set to work jumping through the usual hoops of new employment. If you’ve been around long enough, you know the drill: sending in information for I-9 forms, W-4 forms, even getting insurance (INSURANCE! WOOT!) information, and, of course, the drug test.

The drug test has been his last hoop to jump through, and he did that Friday morning. His last day at the fast food place was Sunday, and then all we have to do is wait for them to give him his official start date at the internship. They said it would be anywhere between the 19th and 26th.

Can I just say again how proud and excited I am for Fernando? He is going to rock this internship!

And now, you can return to your regularly scheduled blogs and Internet goings on. However, if you’d like to leave a little bit of congratulations for Fernando, I’m sure he’d appreciate it!

– RaeNezL