Halloween at the House

Even though this is the good Daylight Savings Time, I still found myself exhausted and fast asleep at 2 pm.

Due to this tiredness, added to the fact that I am just now sitting down to plan my lessons for this week, I am going to do a different post than I planned with pictures I already downloaded.

Our little front courtyard offered the perfect canvas on which to decorate for Halloween. We didn’t have time to go very nuts at all, but I can see it happening one day. What you can’t see in this picture is the open front gate with a Trick or Treat pumpkin sign, and a red-eyed skeleton hanging on the door. I think we struck a pretty decent Halloween atmosphere without actively creeping anyone out like the family down the street with no less than SEVEN Micheal Myers mannequins. I was certain one or more might jump at me, but thankfully none did. I don’t do jump scares gracefully.

IMG_1010

I was slightly disappointed by the turnout of trick-or-treaters. It’s not that we didn’t have a decent amount of doorbell rings. I just thought it might be a really intense turnout and it was just . . . fine.

We also managed our first meal in the house. I forgot my favorite ingredient though, so we had this same meal again two days later. We ate this while sitting on lawn chairs in the living room, watching Hocus Pocus on the iPad which was propped up by Sergio’s shoes. We are the classiest people you have ever met.

IMG_1011

S’okay

A long time ago I said that one day I wanted to eat a bug on purpose. I don’t remember why? It just seemed like something I would accomplish by traveling a lot, I think.

Thanks to World Market (where I was just looking at rugs and Thanksgiving decor), mission accomplished.

Crispity, crunchity…if you were curious.

Sandia Sunset

This is our view from the driveway. Only Rosalind has this view from inside the house…at least until I convince Sergio to make a roof deck for me.

These mountains are called Sandia because Spanish explorers thought that the mountain resembled the color of a watermelon at certain points of the day. Sandia means watermelon in Spanish.

It’s an extremely brief moment, but I think they nailed it. #nofilter

Best Money We Have Ever Spent

The yellow walls and blue trim/doors are all gone, you guys!!! Hiring a painter was the best decision we’ve ever made. Turns out I only want to DIY the fun stuff.

I don’t know how to photograph paint colors to show up correctly, but this is Colonnade Gray by Sherwin Williams. It looks beige on a swatch but turned out perfectly on the walls. Totally gray but still warm. Love it!!! And I love that it wasn’t me that had to paint THREE coats to cover that blue trim throughout the whole house.

Anyway, welcome to November wherein the posts are tiny but frequent.

All the Fall Things

Alaska had the most spectacular autumns. Perhaps not the most spectacular in the world, but the most of any place I have ever lived. They were very specific in color because all of the birch trees turned a yellowy/gold, but it was a picture.

IMG_1453

I LOVE this season. I always have. Which is why, even while I did my very best to try to appreciate the season around me, I did NOT enjoy fall in Alaska. It filled me with dread. Fall in Alaska meant winter was coming. That is what it means everywhere, but winter in Alaska was hard. It also had the audacity to show up in October which is supposed to be AUTUMN! So rude.

So…I have missed fall for all of the last four years. By Halloween we had snow on the ground, by Thanksgiving it felt like Christmas, and by Christmas we would just sit and calculate that there were another four months of winter left to go and plan a Spring Break trip to somewhere sunny to save our sanity.

All of that to say, I have been absolutely devouring all things autumn since October began. New Mexico has been so gracious to me by providing lovely fall temperatures, things to do every weekend, and increasingly vibrant colors. The first thing on my list of missed fall activities? Pumpkin patch, of course!

A memory popped up in my social media this week that shows the last time we took an annual pumpkin patch trip.

IMG_3373

Sob. My wittle baby.

We rectified this absence of fall activity in our lives two weeks ago by driving out to Moriarty, NM to check out McCall’s Pumpkin Patch. So. Much. Fun!

That slushy? That’s an apple cider slushy! Genius. While lots of people believe that pumpkin spice is the flavor of fall, they are dead wrong. It is freshly pressed apple cider.

To that end, we attended the Cider and Harvest Festival at the BioPark the following weekend. There were a few activities, but we mostly scored fresh apple cider and roasted green chiles. Excellent!

And now we have a house that is almost entirely empty of anything but tools and a skeleton-bedecked front door to signal to the neighbors that trick or treaters are welcome here. I can’t wait!

Speaking of fall, it’s election time! We already early voted. Let’s do our best to pump the brakes on this runaway national nightmare, okay? Go vote, please.

IMG_3353

House Sweet House

Remember when I recently wrote about the weird Open House that we found so baffling that Rolo took 100 pictures of the acrylic stair rails? Probably you do because I’ve written so infrequently that it was only about three posts ago. Anyway, as some of you might have guessed, we WERE actually in the market for a house at that time. In fact, we stood in the weird house that we did not buy discussing the offer we were going to put in on another house.

And Wednesday afternoon…we closed on that house!!!

This is a big deal! I mean, I know that buying a house is a big deal for anyone, but this is a doozy of a deal for us. Sergio and I were of that group of people that irritated old economists because we wouldn’t buy a house and contribute appropriately to the economy. The reason, of course, was student loans. We’re the absolute upper limit of old-ass millennials, basically.

When we moved to Alaska, our goal was to go there long enough to fix our untenable student loan situation, improve our credit, and then come back down-state and buy a house. If we could meet those goals, then Alaska would have delivered on the economic promise it offered.

AND IT WORKED!!! Even though the first two goals were met years ago, some part of us refused to believe that anyone would let us just buy a house. But they did. And now we have one! I still think it’s weird. It was also weird because it was an extremely easy process. Too easy.

Suspicious.

Speaking of easy, let’s talk about the house search. It was like an episode of House Hunters. This is in part due to Sergio, who is a research fiend. It was also due to the fact that in order to keep Rosalind in the school she had just started, we were limited to a very tiny area, and therefore only a tiny amount of homes. The neighborhoods are established and older. The homes are in the style of New Mexico, all light stucco and flat roofs. Basically, the choices were pretty limited. On the Saturday we went out, we already knew there was an excellent contender that had mysteriously dropped into our price range because, as I mentioned, Sergio is a research fiend. We toured it privately the day before an open house. We saw an additional four houses that day on the off chance that we would be emotionally attached to something else. We stuck with our first inclination and put in an offer immediately. We accepted the counter-offer the next morning. Even the counter-offer came in under our expectation!!!

Suspicious.

So before you see pictures, let me give you a heads up. All of the people in this neighborhood have held onto these homes for upwards of 30 years. This neighborhood is starting to turn over for the first time since it was built. The decor…well….

Our new house is in impeccable shape. I’ve never been congratulated by so many home inspectors, realtors, and title agents in my life for stealing a home so expertly from an elderly woman. Feels strange. The reason it didn’t sell at the original asking price? 1988.

I’m pretty sure it has remained decorated in much the same way since that year. It has been kept at museum quality, but it’s still 1988. To be fair, it WAS recently repainted and re-floored, but in the style of, you guessed it, 1988. Actually, she changed the dusty pink trim to dusty blue. Let’s give credit where credit is due.

So, guys? Just know that there is going to be a lot of pink, yellow, and blue pastel in these pictures. There is even a bubble curtain!

Without further ado, meet our new house! (I had to finally just steal some of these pictures from the realtor.com site because I never seemed to remember to take any whole room/outside pictures over the weekend. We’ve already changed four light fixtures and ripped up some carpet since I wrote this post!)

It turns out I haven’t taken a lot of pertinent photos of the rooms in the house, I guess. Made sure to get a shot of the bubble curtain before tossing it though! Stay tuned for lots more renovating photos. For example, this one, in which I have instant regrets about my eagerness for change!

IMG_3362

The Whimsiest

The Barron Family has now experienced the International Balloon Fiesta! This event took place on and off over the last eleven days. I say on and off because, as might be expected, the ability to successfully balloon is directly subject to the fickle weather.

We looked into lots of different options for how one might best experience the balloon fiesta, but we were late for most of the swankier options. This left us with the most common option which is to get up at 4 am, take a shuttle to Balloon Fiesta Park, and walk around the vast field. This may sound like the definition of NOT FUN, but in fact, it’s the right way to do it.

I don’t know how to describe the experience. I recommend you add it to your list of must do activities. In the same way that no picture can appropriately capture the feeling of being directly underneath hundreds of launching balloons, my words won’t come close to capturing the appeal. Granted, a 4 am wake up call on a Saturday is never fun, but when you get there before sunrise and you get to see the Morning Glow (wherein the first group of weather-testing balloonist inflate themselves and light up their balloons in a synchronized way, well…it’s something. I literally bounced up and down in my seat.

After that the sun starts rising over the Sandia Mountains, and row after row of balloons float up into the air for the Mass Ascension until you can’t figure out where they’ll all fit. Everywhere you turn is a picture-worthy moment. In the dark the colorful balloons glow like a Christmas tree, and in the daylight the vibrant shapes and colors fill the sky. Kids can go from balloon to balloon and get trading cards for said balloons. There are these referee sort of people that keep the takeoffs organized and safe, and they dress in vibrant zebra stripes to stay visible. There are food vendors and souvenir stands all over the place to give it a carnival feel. There are thousands upon thousands of people.

When I say it’s full of whimsy, I really mean it. An outmoded form of transportation, now a hobby sport, that is at the whim of both the weather and the wind, decked out to be as beautiful, picturesque, or cartoonish as possible…I can’t think of anything else that is the equal to the Balloon Fiesta when it comes to answering the question of “Why?” with “Why not?”

Another day, Rolo and I went to Panera Bread for breakfast (we had two days off school this week for Fall Break) and got an unexpected, but lovely, show from the restaurant window. We were at eye level with many of the balloons since we were slightly up the foothills, and you can really watch the balloons dance on the wind from that vantage point. Some of them do repeated near-freefall maneuvers every few minutes. All of them catch the same wind and start speeding to the right until they either lift up or lower themselves. They turn circles and spin around from time to time. Every once in a while, they actually bump into one another. This doesn’t seem to bother anyone that much.

IMG_3286I thoroughly enjoyed the Balloon Fiesta. We left ourselves plenty of events to experience in the future. I loved that even if you didn’t do the hard work of getting onto the Fiesta grounds, there was still a lot to see. Each day on the way to work, we would watch the balloons fill the sky in our rearview mirrors. If we wandered around town, we saw them overhead or taking off in parking lots (balloons take off from all over Albuquerque, not just the park). It’s a uniquely equitable event in that anyone can experience it to one degree or another whether you can pay/give up time/fight through traffic. I like that. In fact, the day before the Fiesta began, we took Rosalind to school almost an hour early because two balloons from Albuquerque Aloft took off from the park next to her school. Any kiddo that might not have made it to the Fiesta events later on were still able to have a little piece of the experience just by being at school.

 

So come hang out with us the same time next year. You’ll be glad you did.

IMG_0967

IMG_0953

Updates

A few weekends ago we attended the New Mexico State Fair. This is one of those things we did not get exactly right this year that we can probably do better next year. After waiting nearly an hour to enter the parking lot, we didn’t even cover a quarter of the whole fair before wearing ourselves out.

If you don’t look like Rolo in this photo, have you really even experienced the fair?

IMG_3161

Sergio’s birthday was a couple of weekends ago. There are no pictures of this event because my two plans for his day were to play a little tennis and then let him have a total nothing day full of football and video games. I think he had a nice time. He is now a complete Apple Air Pods convert. I will admit, they are way more interesting than I realized.

Charlie updates: She poops. And then she poops some more. Pretty friendly now, I guess. She’ll nibble your face after eating her own poops.

Eliot updates: Eliot is fourteen! I don’t know his exact birthdate, but I know it has to have been the end of September based on how old he was when we got him. He’s doing really well considering he was at the vet being diagnosed with spine issues last year at this time. I think the warmer weather is good for him.

On the other hand, I took him for a mile long walk this weekend and he couldn’t even make it to his bed before total collapse. So close.

Rosalind gave me a Sunday morning makeover. Since she insisted on taking a picture, I insisted on finding the light that camouflaged my wrinkles, and hid a giant zit behind my coffee mug not at all suspiciously. Yup.

IMG_3208

Otherwise it’s mostly work and school and school and work…and losing the key to my car, but I haven’t found the humor in that yet. Exciting stuff around here, folks.

Stay tuned for our first Balloon Fiesta experience!

Thing Dawn is Bad At: Transitioning

Are you ready for me to beat a metaphor to death? Because I’ve had one running through my brain all weekend. The first month of teaching a new group of students is a lot like the first month with a newborn. At least, it’s how I felt about the first month with my own newborn. If you weren’t around for that time period, I’ll fill you in briefly. It sucked. It was full of frustrated tears, anxiety, and sleeplessness. All work and no reward.

Every new school year is challenging for the first month, but there is something really special when you start at a new school. Frankly, the whole year is going to be kind of a shit show, the only question is just how big of one. You have to learn a new school, new methodology, new requirements, new discipline, new school culture, and usually, new subjects and lessons. It’s hard. It gets easier each year thereafter because you’ve learned the subject, finessed the lessons, integrated into the new school culture, and have a better grasp each year of your resources. You’ve learned what works where you are and what doesn’t, how slow you should take it, how firm you need to be and for how long. Perhaps you’ve even found a friend or two in whom you confide your complaints and frustrations so that your poor husband gets a break from time to time.

But none of that is true the first year, and the first month is a doozy. You think you know what you need to know about that newborn you brought home because you can change diapers and make bottles and strap down the carseat. But nobody told you that the baby was going to be a constant need machine that hates you, and the carseat, and the bathtub, and nothing you do can make it happy.

So just trade out “baby” with “150 students” and “constant need machine that hates you, and the carseat, and the bathtub, and nothing you do can make it happy” with “constant need machines that hate you, and your lessons, and your unreasonable demands that they learn something, and nothing you do can make them happy.”

Believe it or not, the reason this metaphor drifted through my head was not because of how miserable I have been on a few occasions over the last month. It was a happy moment that got me here. I had a decent day. A day in which I was able to relax just slightly, and when I was able to relax just slightly, I started finding these small rewards. Just tiny ones. The same kind of tiny reward you get the first time you think maybe that newborn smiled at you, but you aren’t really sure yet.

The ways in which students show that they care here are so very different than how they occurred in Alaska, that I didn’t even see them at first. But then I was just slightly relaxed, and instead of focusing on the running, hitting, cursing chaos going through the hallway at passing period, I instead focused on how many students said, “Hi, Miss!” Nearly all of them. When I noticed that, I was able to start seeing a hundred little ways they show their appreciation for their teachers. And that showed me ways in which the teachers here are better able to communicate with the kids, and it’s like there is this cycle or something? Where kindness begets kindness? How novel! In much the same way  that we eventually learned that our baby liked warmer baths and to not put her in the carseat unless absolutely necessary, I am learning the importance of greeting my students before jumping into lessons, offering tiny rewards for expected behaviors even if I kind of think it’s unnecessary, and creating situations in which students can still be “helpers” even though I’m not accustomed to them wanting to be at this age. Now all my days are running so smoothly!

SNORT!!!! Nope. Yesterday was another shit show. But I had two decent days in a row last week! TWO. IN. A. ROW.

Just like I once learned to celebrate four whole hours of uninterrupted sleep, I am going to now celebrate two halfway decent teaching days in a row. Because if newborn days taught me anything, it’s that the effort will have been worth my time.