Also note that

By Mir
January 14, 2007

At 7:30 this morning I was down in my basement with a push broom, removing the last detritus from last year’s Basementgate. Sure, it’s been clean down there for ages, but I never swept out all the corners. Now I have.

This afternoon I steadily filled my brain with information until I had to go curl up on the couch with the remote and a bag of chips to recover. I’m not quite done recovering, honestly.

I showed the house to the family who called around lunchtime. They showed up with all four of their (adorable) children in tow, and while we attempted to discuss roofing and leech fields, the children ran to and fro and each tried to claim which bedroom they felt they were entitled to. (All of the girls wanted Chickadee’s room, which makes sense, because her room is painted to be a beautiful garden; the little boy was ready to claim Monkey’s room but then decided he’d rather call dibs on the master. Heh.)

A few hours after they left, they called and made an offer. A low offer. A low offer with a contingency on selling their house. My hopes are not high. But I guess we’ll see if we’re able to negotiate anything workable. In the meantime, property values around here continue to tank, so maybe I should shut up and take their $5 and offer to come bury one of those little statues in their yard.

* * * * *

I’ve decided to continue obsessing about our (potential) new house and its location and how that will affect where the kids go to school next year, because I didn’t have enough other stuff to worry about. We are looking at two different areas, and they couldn’t be more different. And you know, when I looked at the schools, initially, I looked at test scores and thought it was a very straightforward decision. I somehow missed the part where the schools with the higher ratings were almost exclusively white, because, you know, the school my kids go to NOW is almost exclusively white and it just doesn’t occur to me as a problem.

But, see, the difference is that where I currently LIVE (in the white people sticks) IS mostly white. So for the school to be mostly white is representative of the area (for better or for worse).

But a mostly white school in an area that is actually mostly people of color is… troubling to me. Call me crazy.

So, back to the ratings I went. I dug a little deeper into the second area, I found that yes, some of the schools I would find unacceptable, but some of them are quite a bit better than their aggregate scores suggest at first blush. A couple of them are, in fact, very good. Okay! Second area, not only back in contention, but at the forefront!

Then comes the fun part: This second area doesn’t have area-dependent school assignment. Parents get to request specific schools, assignments are then made on a complicated scale of preference and grandfathering and perhaps greased palms, and everyone else left over gets put… wherever they fit. So we could buy the house next door to the school I want and the kids could be refused admittance. Plus we would be buying a house completely blind of what school we’d be assigned to.


Stay tuned for my misadventures in attempting to subvert my Yankee brashness into sweet-talking a small Georgia school district into letting me enroll my children during preregistration despite not yet being a resident. (Hmmm. Otto is a resident. Otto is eligible for preregistration. What would you call it if you had a quickie wedding to accommodate the whims of a school board? Would that be a chalkboard wedding?)

* * * * *

All of those focus on moving and related concerns reminded me that I have to start thinking about actually, you know, MOVING. I started poking around for information on the internet (because if you can find it on the internet, it must be true!), and came across this little gem:

Do not pack hazardous materials. These items include: paint, thinners, solvents, oils, varnishes, firearms and ammunition, bottled gas, propane, lamp oil, anything flammable, explosive, or corrosive, motor fuels and oils, nail polish remover, bleach and aerosol cans. Also note that spilled sesame oil leaves a terrible stench.

Spilled sesame oil? Is this such a pervasive national problem that it warrants special addressing? But thank goodness, because I was totally planning to spill sesame oil all over my bullets and guns to protect them during transport. Damn.

Of course, when you live with kids, you become somewhat inured to terrible stenches. Just one more perk of the gig.

* * * * *

I discovered by accident today that when I use my new headset with my new cell phone, it works with voice commands. I had no idea. I mean, if I’d read the manual I might have known, but I have no time for such foolishness. I am far too busy painting and obsessing, obviously.

Anyway, I put on my earpiece, and a little voice in my ear asked me what I wanted to do. I was a bit taken aback, but I was willing to play along. “Call Dad,” I told my helpful phone.

“Do you want to call Dad?” It replied.

“Yes,” I said. (I was afraid that if I said, “Yes, Dumbass” that it would get mad.)

“Call Dad on Mobile?” It asked.

“No,” I answered, figuring our verbal dance was about to come to an end.

“Call Dad at Home?” It tried.

“Yes!” By now I was thinking I probably could’ve dialed him, filed my nails, and gotten a snack in the time this was taking.

“Calling Dad at Home,” the smooth voice informed me. And then it CALLED MY DAD AT HOME. Which I have to admit was pretty cool. I mean, someday I might go blind. Or lose all of my fingers. And I will still be able to use my cell phone. Such a relief to know, in this time of uncertainty.


  1. parodie

    “Spilled sesame oil? Is this such a pervasive national problem that it warrants special addressing?”

    Alright, I know this is incredibly random, but we just moved (a week ago!) and as I was packing I discovered the more unpleasant way that the lid to our bottle of sesame oil was cracked, causing it to leak.

    … so maybe the Internet really does know everything.

  2. angelfeet

    That new headset sounds fantastic, although a little bit of a pedant. Do you think it will do the laundry too?

  3. D

    I loved my old cell and it’s voice commands: it was REALLY fun when my hubs would try to make it accept his voice. He’d get all high pitched and ‘girly’ and say, “Home” and the phone would just beep at him, made me giggle uncontrollably every time to hear his falsetto “home”…

  4. Katie

    Chalkboard wedding, ha!

    At the risk of sounding racist, I’m quite pleased the kids’ school has a high level of Asians here. Cause you know they are very smart. hehe Although it makes it very hard to get into the after school chess and karate clubs.

    I’m sure you know this but also look at the teacher to student ratio and the number of “extras” (art teacher, guidance counselors, nurses). I was shocked to find out some schools don’t have a nurse full time anymore due to budget cuts.

    Good luck with the school districting. It’s so crazy here, one side of the street is one school and then the other side goes to a “lesser” school and therefore worth $100,000 less. Seriously, I’m not kidding, it’s absolutely nuts.

  5. Em

    Ooooo…voice commands….how cool is that!?!? Now you get to have a conversation BEFORE you even dial the phone!

  6. Bob

    The school district here also has some involved formulas that involve preference, magnet schools, etc. for assigning kids to schools. But one rule ours has is that if you live within X distance from the school you are guaranteed assignment there. Maybe worth a call to the district school board?

  7. Steff

    I like the idea of chalkboard wedding!

  8. Cele

    You make me so happy to know that I…
    1) do not have to move from a house I’ve owned for 26 years.
    2) have to worry about new school assignments
    3) or worry that my oil will runneth over

    I haven’t even (after two years called the Vpeople to set up my voice mail) I don’t know if I have the guts to program the voice commands.

  9. Mom2One

    Oh my.

    I also love how the instructions for packing just throw in not packing firearms and ammunitions along with the painting supplies and everything else. Oh yeah, and BTW, put those guns and bullets aside too while you’re at it.

    I know it’s early yet, but why not start soon? — Godspeed, Mir, Godspeed.

  10. carson

    I know you’ve done the math, but remember their low offer won’t get the realtor commission carved out of it like a pound of flesh. You could net more than you would after having listed the house. Contingencies, though, frighten me. (I plan on never selling my house, because then I might need a contingency.)

  11. Keli

    I’m delurking to say that as a person of color in a largely white community (not in the south, but on the west coast), I have to tell you how much it means to me that you would even recognize the concept of white privilege. As you note in your post, it’s not something white people are ever asked to think about (except maybe in college classes or something similar). The fact that you think about it all makes me feel less invisible. Thank you.

  12. lastewie

    Mir, I’m with you. I moved this fall from a very white city to a nearby city where white people are in the minority. I like it better here, so far.

  13. Ani

    Contingencies suck but if you know where they live you may be able to get some idea of how long it takes to sell a house there. If it’s a quick-turnaround area, it can be ok, given they make you a reasonable offer.

  14. Liise

    St. Joseph and upside down in the yard.

    we tried this a long time ago and I ended up divorcing the guy and moving out long before the house sold.

  15. The Other Leanne

    High test scores might not be the best indication of a good education (what blasphemy!). There is something to be said for cultural and social education as well. I can’t imagine that Mir would not ensure that, no matter how the other kids fare, her children would study and learn and make good grades and pass any test they toss their way. Grease whatever palms you need to.

  16. InterstellarLass

    Use voice commands and keep your hands on the wheel! :) Fancy-shmancy technology and all.

    That is totally weird about the school districting. Here in Texas trying to get a transfer to a school within your district is a series of waivers and questionnaires.

  17. Daisy

    Chalkboard wedding? I love it. I still recommend a school visit — it will tell you much more than test scores do. If you haven’t seen or analyzed (erk) the test itself, those scores will be irrelevant. If a prospective parent had visited my school last week, he/she would have seen kids designing experiments using real bugs and beetles. They were loving it. It’s worth much more than a set of numbers.

  18. Sara

    Hey little sister what have you done? It’s a nice day for a Chalkboard Wedding…
    Thanks. Now I’ve got a Billy Idol earworm!!

  19. Laura

    Speaking as some who, while in high school, moved from NH to TN, may I give you something else to obsess over concerning schools?

    Don’t just look at test scores and racial integration. Look at crime statistics and behavorial incidents. When we moved, we lived in the county rather than the city, and were supposed to go to the county school. I took one look at it and refused (even though it had good test scores.) It was surrounded by wire fencing that was topped with barbed wire, and required actual security personnel. My parents agreed, and we paid extra to go to the city school. We were still tormented, seeing as we were DamnYankees, but at least we weren’t afraid for our safety.

    So look beyond the test scores and basic stats before deciding which school you want Chickie and Monkey attending. I suggest you visit the schools next time you go down, or have Otto do it. Talk to the guidance counselor – they tend to be more honest than the administration. Just get the vibe of the schools – before you decide where to buy a house.

  20. amadecasa

    We made the north to south move for the husbands job. Have you looked at private schools? Although we had a tough time finding a non-christian based school in the heart of the bible belt (a requirement for us) we did and are very happy there. There is racial integration and we also ‘knew what we were getting’ with the school, teachers and involved parents that we couldn’t be sure of at a public school. It also gave us the flexibility to buy the house we liked instead of a home that might be in the area of the preferred school (until they changed the boundries of course!)

  21. Jenn2

    My dad absolutely loves his voice recognition software, says he feels like Stephen Hawking. Now he wants a car that drives on auto pilot, so he can drive again. Some people are never HAPPY! ;)

    Good luck with the offer and don’t lose hope. Maybe they’re just lowballing you.

    Gosh, that sounded kind of nasty, huh?

  22. AnonymousMom

    I would LOVE to be able to compare school districts, even with all the frustration that entails. That would, of course, require knowing where we’ll be moving after my husband returns from his deployment. Unfortunately, he won’t know until, oh, two weeks before we actually have to move. At least, you know, the military has narrowed it down to somewhere on THIS PLANET.

    Good luck in your search/decisionmaking process.

  23. rachel

    my big tip for moving (if you have movers who pack for you) is to empty all the trash cans before they come. Or else they will pack them, full.

    Also – LABEL and star and highlight the boxes with things like the microwave, toaster, and Crock Pot. This comes from my unfortunate string of 3 houses that had oven/stove malfunctions upon move-in.

    You can regale us with fun stories of how things got packed (we got the garden hose packed with a tape player!).

  24. Krisco

    It’s got to be hard to make a school decision when you aren’t even in the area yet…I feel for you.

    We only have one school district in this town and no private schools. Guess it makes that easy, in a way.

  25. Krisco

    addendum to comment above:

    . . . Or claustrophobic, depending on how you look at it . . . (and you know what I choose! : )

  26. Melanie

    That cell phone sounds amazing but sort of frightening at the same time. I feel like such an old-timer, but I remember when nobody had cell phones, or when they were new and weighed 5000 pounds and were only used in cars.

  27. Lady M

    My last product at work used voice-recognition. We used to joke that we should program all the swear words to equal the “Cancel” command.

  28. Alexia

    Although I have only been blogging for a week or so I am already thinking of hosting my own site. I feel constrained by the “templates” that are available for design. Seems I have a ton of ideas and are unable to do most of them in the current venue I am at. Alas I am checking into a hosting site.

    I’ve read your blog for several months now and I just wanted to let you know what a great inspiration you are! Hope you don’t mind if I add you to my blogroll.

  29. Rebecca

    You should be able just to say “Call Dad Mobile” in one fell swoop, which erases several steps. I love it too. My Pearl has a button on a side to do the voice thing with. I was so excited that I didn’t have to program them in. I just need my geeky little bluetooth headset and I am good to go.

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