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