A Dedication, a Dead Car, and a Derailed Job Interview

Whew! These last couple of weeks have been BUSY. Time to fill you guys in on what’s been going on.

For awhile there, it seemed like Jake had birthday gifts and money just continuously rolling in. He’s pretty much got enough to put a down payment on a house now. But he’s spending it on toys and treats, naturally.

We haven’t actually spent it all yet. We’re still trying to figure out what kind of car to get Jake (we’re talking a Power Wheels car, of course πŸ˜‰ ). But my parents gave Jake his very first TRAMPOLINE for his birthday. Setting it up was a breeze (haha), but it has proven to be a great improvement to the backyard so far, which hasn’t been much of a fun place to hang out in summers past.

trampoline

Mother’s Day was also baby dedication day at our church, and we decided to dedicate Teddy (alongside all of his future best friends). Our church is populated primarily by young couples and their very young children, which is one of the reasons that we decided to stay after coming to visit. At our church in Pittsburgh, it was young, hipster, and single for the most part, and once we had little Baby Jake we started feeling like we didn’t fit in (I’m talking trying to breastfeed in a weird back room during service with techie guys coming in and out to retrieve microphones and equipment from the closet). At our church in Knoxville, we fit right in and we started attending at the beginning of what is now known as the BABY BOOM. Our pastor’s favorite joke is that half of the congregation gets up to leave when children are dismissed to Sunday School. So in the video below, you’ll notice a LOT of other babies getting dedicated alongside Teddy (we’re kind of on the left, but not ALL the way to the left, because that is our friends Jessica and Justin with their two kids). But that’s okay, and it even seems appropriate. There is nothing that has been more comforting to me than raising my children alongside the other parents that you see on the stage (and some that are out in the congregation). I’m not sure how I survived those first months of being Jake’s mom without that community of support. ❀

By the way, taking a commemorative photo to celebrate your baby’s dedication is a lot harder than it sounds…

bad photo collage

But we did manage a post-lunch photo (with my parents, who joined us for Teddy’s dedication) that turned out much better:

mothers day 2017

Also on Mother’s Day…I attended graduation at the school where I taught last year! It was the very first time I’ve ever been to a graduation ceremony where I knew every single person that was graduating, and it was incredible. And a little bit emotional, too. I’m so proud of those kids! But also sad that they are all scattering their separate ways to start college soon. It was great to see them one last time (and be greeted with such enthusiasm!).

Also on Mother’s Day…my car broke down. It’s been having problems here and there for awhile, but we always seem to manage to fix it really inexpensively (like the time when Justin replaced some sort of hose by HIMSELF, even though he’s not really a mechanic…and the time our neighbor replaced the brake pads…and the many times we poured Stop-Leak in the radiator to temporarily keep the car from overheating). This time the fuel tank was cracked and leaking, and paying to replace the tank would have cost more than the value of the car. There simply wasn’t an easy fix this time, so…

…I bought a new car!

new car

If my keys looks like they belong to a 12-year old, it’s because they do (at heart). I have a pink stretchy bracelet (so that I can wear my keys and not lose them!) and a Lego Harry Potter keychain, and I’m not ashamed!

Check out my 2016 Nissan Rogue!

I was really only without a car for about a week, because we shopped pretty quickly. But it felt like a really LONG week, for sure! We were mostly just stranded at home. My parents drove me out to a car lot in Kentucky that was advertising unbelievable prices on some cars that were only a year old….but unbelievable is exactly what they were. They used every trick in the book (the old “bait and switch,” using the “us vs. them” lingo to refer to the managers in the back room, sliding the piece of paper with the outrageous numbers on it across the desk slowly, etc). It was a pretty discouraging experience.

We actually ended up buying my new car on Carvana, which is completely online (when you’ve chosen a car that you like, they deliver it to you! And give you a seven-day trial period to drive it around during which you can return it for a full refund, no questions asked). I was nervous about it, but it actually ended up being a really great experience, and I would definitely do it again next time we need a car. I was even telling the guy who delivered our car to us about my negative experience at the car lot, and he said, “Every time my mom or my sister visits a car lot (or a mechanic), they always have a negative experience. They always end up being taken advantage of and paying double what my dad would pay or I would pay if we visited the same place. It shouldn’t be like that. Women shouldn’t need to dread buying a car. I’d like to believe that our company is helping to change that.” Maybe it was just a car salesman line, but I was still all like heart eyes

no more van

NO more ugly green van!

Our friends from Florida passed through for a visit! And while their reason for stopping by was not so pleasant (rushing to Pennsylvania to be with family during a time of grief), we were still so pleased to have them stay for a night to break up their long trip. This was the first time we’ve gotten together that I’ve really seen Jake and Adalynn want to play together, and they got along so well! On Saturday afternoon, after they had left to go back to Florida, Jake kept asking, “Where’s Adalynn? Where’s Adalynn?” (And occasionally “Where’s Madeline?”–it was confusing that her name sounded so similar to the name of his friend here in Knoxville, and he kept calling Adalynn Madeline.) πŸ™‚

DSCN0951

Me holding Adalynn and Kim holding Jake, circa 2014

addy and jake2

Jake and Adalynn last weekend, in our backyard

In other news, Jake got the most DRAMATIC hair cut that he’s ever had:

haircut before and after

And a closer view of his actual hair:

jakes short hair

With a haircut like this, we may as well ship him off to the military…

 

I’ve always secretly judged the other moms who buzzed off their little boys’ hair in the summertime. I thought, “Oh! It looks awful! I’m not going to be one of THOSE moms.” But Jake is the kind of kid who sweats PROFUSELY when he plays. I picked him up from the nursery at church one day and he was the only child who had wet hair. Wet sideburns and hairline just from SWEATING, from running around in circles with his friends. Since my son is a sweater (not the cable knit kind, but the dripping kind)…I have resigned myself to my fate (er…his fate). At least it will grow back in by fall, and he can keep “normal” hair through the winter months. *sigh*

I’ve decided that I would like to go back to work. I’m not totally sure what that’s going to look like–some sort of flexible work-from-home job or something part time or back in the classroom full time–but I am exploring my options and applying to ads that I see online. One ad that I saw caught my attention. It was the opportunity to teach English to Chinese children via a Skype-type program. It really seemed to check all of the boxes for me: flexible, part-time, work from home (so no daycare costs), and TEACHING! And of course, China always has a special place in my heart. So I applied for it and was pretty quickly scheduled for a Skype interview.

Then ALL OF THIS STUFF happened. The stuff that I just wrote about in my post. The car breaking down, the car shopping, friends visiting, etc. I kept forgetting about my interview, and part of the requirement was that I review their lesson materials and TEACH a sample lesson during my interview. You guys, I reviewed the lesson materials an HOUR before my interview. It’s bad, I know. I just never had a chance. And then I panicked because…

…part of the lesson involved singing songs. I realized, an hour before my interview, that I was going to have to sing via Skype. I have never sung a song for an interview before. I am not all that confident with my singing. And I didn’t even know the tunes for these songs!

Well, I looked them up on YouTube, I took some notes to follow during my lesson, and I would like to say that I ended up acing my interview, BUUUUUT not quite. Thankfully, I wasn’t interviewing in front of a conference room table full of suited executives, like I had been picturing in my mind. It was just one Chinese woman, who looked to be sitting in her apartment in China. But she still stopped me halfway through my lesson and told me that I was not being NEARLY enthusiastic or energetic enough. To teach children, she said I would need to use my hands more. And give thumbs up or clap with glee or even high-five the camera when they get questions right. I suddenly felt like I was auditioning for a role (like one of those people who interacts with the muppets on Sesame Street! Or Steve from Blue’s Clues!) rather than interviewing for a job. I tried to up my enthusiasm, but I’m not sure she was terribly impressed. And I completely forgot the tune for the last song and just started fading my voice out slowly and clearing my throat. *awkward* She told me at the end of the interview, in her direct Chinese way, that if they decided to hire me, I would definitely need more training before working with students. And if I didn’t hear from them in seven days, I could assume that the interview was “unsuccessful.”

At least it’s been an interesting couple of weeks.

But let’s hope that is the last time that I ever sing a children’s song to a stranger over Skype.

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