Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Brexit Blind Date

First off, I have been expat for too long to have had a vote in the EU referendum. Second, this is not a post about whether or not I agree with the result. Just the process - 

Imagine other decisions being made in the same fashion. 

1. So you apply for a job and if you get the offer, you have to take the job. (OK, play along it's not that far off what actually happened.) You have no idea what the job role is, nor what you'll be paid, how many hours you'll have to work, who your boss is, nor what your promotion prospects are. But you apply anyway and "hope for the best" or convince yourself that "it will all work out". 

2. So you buy a house. It's a huge commitment. Depending on the mortgage you take out, it's a 15-30 year albatross around your neck at least. All you know is you're sick of living in rented accommodation (fair enough) which is cheap but you don't like the wallpaper and your landlord is a bit of a second hand car dealer. You spend ages humming and haa-ing about whether or not to buy, (two years to be exact), jump in with both feet a house you haven't seen; no idea what repairs it might have, what the local schools are like, and where you'll do your shopping. (Or if you'll have any money left over after paying the mortgage to buy food, for that matter). 

3. So you go on Blind Date (see below) but Cilla (again, play along - in my world Cilla lives forever) forgets to tell you that there is no getting out, and you'll be required to marry your choice at the end of the show. Your three options are behind a curtain..................... Enough said. 

How to make a lifelong commitment (not)

See where i'm going with this? No matter how you voted (and really, don't tell me) - I cannot believe a referendum that took two years to pull off, apparently had no plan for the day after WHATSOEVER! 

All I'm saying is, the world may be laughing at the USA having Donald Trump as the Republican nominee (and I laugh/cry along too)., but voting without a follow-up plan? What did everyone think was going to happen if Brexit won?


Monday, June 20, 2016

Chicago Summer - Construction Season

So, we've been out a week and so far so good, (she says, immediately jinxing things). Ex Little Guy, (now just past his 13th birthday so need a new nickname), attended metal-working camp last week. Now, contrary to the movies etc, not all American kids' camps are over night-y jobs. In fact some of them aren't even full day - like the metal-working camp last week. It was just like having him back in half-day nursery school - dropping off at 9am and picking up at 12.30pm. I have time to come home, do one thing, and get back in the car. Mainly because of ..(See next paragraph).

There's a joke in Chicago about road works etc. - "There are two seasons in Chicago - winter, and construction." It's true - it's too cold in the winter to do any construction 'cause digging frozen ground is hard, and the sub-zero temps play havoc with the concrete and tar. So basically, as soon as the weather gets decent, the roadworks start. Even the smaller side streets are "dug up" because our winter temps are so severe, they crack the roads - so many of them have to be re-paved during the summer. It's like a geography puzzle trying to figure out how to get from A to B and avoid heavy traffic due to one lane traffic.

So not only do I have to contend with still-getting-up-to-attend-to-child, I also have to contend with drop-off driving. I whine about this because son walks to school and I rarely use my car all year (not a good reason) and my back is still un-OK enough that sitting in a car for any length of time is not good.(legit reason).

"How far is this camp?" you must be asking. Oh , less than three miles. And yet - it takes me almost half an hour to get there, then I drop child off and turn back - and now I'm in rush hour traffic heading for downtown. And I do that again at noon-ish. Not good for the back.

This week however, he is playing tennis outdoors, on the lakefront. An idyllic drive with no construction in sight. I will try to take a photo when I'm not behind the wheel! 

Friday, June 10, 2016

And Just Like That - School's Out, Again

Well, here we are again. I swear this year went past in the blink of an eye. Yes folks in the UK, you might have just finished half term, but most of us here are already knee deep in the interminable long, three month summer. Actually, for me this is day one, but it's already proving a long one -  "How long have you been playing your PS4?" type long.

Every year I hear talk of trying to make the summer break shorter. Teachers complain that because kids have spent so much time out of school it takes weeks to get them back to where they were at the end of the previous year. According to Wiki, year round schooling (or YRS) has been around since the 1900s and first appeared in urban areas like Chicago, that were not tied to the agricultural cycle. (Kids used to be taken out of school during the summer to help on the farms.) I must say though, I'm not aware of any YRS's in Chicago today. A bit of research however, tells me that Chicago introduced year round school in 2009 - but in true Chicago fashion, only about a quarter of its schools were put on this schedule. Sigh. Not surprisingly, it dropped the experiment in 2014 because many families with kids in different schools found it too difficult to juggle. I'll say. 

Three months off also gets to be rather expensive. For working parents there's obviously the "What to do with the kids" question, hence the reason for so many American kids attending day and sleepover camps. Even if you're home with your kids, it's not much fun when all their friends aren't around. I remember one summer when the big kids were little, I decided I'd be a fun mom, and do fun things with them instead of sticking them in expensive camps they didn't much enjoy. That plan lasted about a week when it became clear that there is such a thing as too much mom-fun. Back to camp with their little friends they went. 

This year the newly minted teenager (no longer the Little Guy) has an eclectic range of camps lined up - Metal-working, Archery, Tennis, School of Rock - Beatles show, and something that involves going all over the city and having adventures. For the rest of today however, I am making him empty his backpack and throw 99% of its contents away. This kid hoards more than I do given the chance! 

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