Small Kitchen House

May 6th:

Today Good Man and I drove past a house near us. It’s in our price range and has been on the market a while. It’s small, but very cute. It’s also unoccupied, so we got out of the car and poked around.

The front and back yard are both fenced in, and sunny. So far, so good.

And then we peeked in the door and saw the kitchen. It was roughly the size of the second kitchen I had in Korea.

“No,” Good Man said. He shook his head and walked away, “No, Amanda! You will bitch about the kitchen all the time!”

He’s right.

“When Did You Decide to Buy a House?”

My intern and I tucked into our food during a late lunch off-site. My intern was telling me about her apartment hunt. Then she asked, “When did you decide to buy a house?”


“Wow, that recently?”


When I was in grad school, Atlanta’s market started to take off. It was a buying frenzy. In my grad-school cohort, people were snapping up houses. One student got a house based on her husband’s (small) graduate student stipend. One of my fellow students got a house with no money down when she didn’t have a job…or a signed contract. (I wonder where those people are now, since Atlanta’s market is so terrible.)

When the market crashed and first-time buyer credit appeared, people told me we should buy a house. Never mind that Good Man and I were living off of my income. When I argued that we couldn’t afford to save for a down payment on my income, they responded with “buy a condo!”


In October, during our morning walks, Good Man and I started talking about buying a house.

I was still claiming that we’d eventually go back to Korea, even though I knew in my heart that it wasn’t going to happen. The reality is that our life here is better. As a teacher, my job is easier in Korea. But Good Man’s work life would be so…Korean. As a couple, our standard of living would decrease dramatically.

Also, Good Man wants to become a citizen. Unfortunately, Korea doesn’t do dual-citizenship. If we returned to Korea, we would be in Weird Visa Land. Also, as a citizen, a whole lot of currently unavailable jobs in this area will become available to Good Man.

We talked for weeks. Were we only wanting a house because it was expected? Were we sure we wanted to tie ourselves down? Were we just buying into the expectation that a couple in their thirties should own a house?

Finally, we decided that we really did want a house.

A condo was out from the very beginning. No way in hell.

We briefly considered a townhome, but the presence of an HOA (and their fees), along with a lack of a decent yard, and shared walls negated any price benefits. No.

A detached, single-family home it is!

We started saving a down payment. I started looking at homes online to get an idea of what we wanted in a house and what we could afford

The Little Maple Trees That Grew

May 7th

I twirled a box top in my hands and grinned at my kids, who were lined up after library check out. “Come on, we’re going on a walking field trip.”

“What are you talking about, Ms?”

“Oh man, she has that Ms Look.”

“Where are we going?”

“To the bus loop.”

One of my students wrinkled her nose. “The bus loop?”

Outside, I drew the kids in a tight circle around a clump of pine needles, leaves, dirt, and silt. We crouched down. “What do you see?”


“Look closer.”

In the gutter of the bus loop, dozens of maple trees had taken root. We examined them, and then I used the metal “Buses Only” sign to scrape a clump off of the street. I slid it onto the box top, and in the classroom we popped it onto our very sunny window sill.

Maples, May 7th


The next day, I brought in two small pots with some potting soil. We lifted the mat of pine needles and examined the roots growing sideways on the bottom. I cut a circle out of the needles and placed the maples over the soil. We watered them well and put them in my sunny, sunny east-facing classroom window. The maples sat next to an ivy that had rooted in water, and two pineapple tops. (They were from pineapples I’d cut up when we were learning about simple machines.)

As the maples grew, I thinned them out.

“Ms! You can’t kill them!”

I looked at my student. “You eat meat and you’re angry I’m going to cut a mini tree down? What happens if six trees try to grow in this small pot?”

The students talked a bit before one said, “The roots won’t have as much room to grow.”


The kids learned to turn the maples from time to time, because they wanted to lean toward the sun. They learned how to check the moisture level of the soil. They learned how to brush against the maples gently, to strengthen the stems.

When visitors came to the room, students would show them our jungle, and explain how we’d rooted the pineapple tops, how we’d clipped the ivy from the secretary’s plant, how we’d found maples in the bus loop.

“Ms, the leaves are red when they are small, and then they turn green.”

“Ms, can we plant these at the school?”

“Ms, will you bring these back in the fall so we can see them?”

And just like my students, the maples grew.

Maples, June 7th

The Teacher Next Door

In the past three weeks, Good Man and I have run into six students/former students/future students/families from school (one of them twice) in public.

I don’t even live in the neighborhood that feeds into my school, but I feel like the teacher next door.

It’s time to move.

Resolutions: May Update

It’s the middle of June, and I haven’t even done my May update. Whoops.

Here’s how I’m doing on my resolutions.

1) To walk/hike 1,000 miles.
No change. Keeping up exercise, although I’m not walking/hiking as much as I’d like.

2) To sew up more fabric than I buy.
Didn’t sew anything, but I also didn’t buy anything. I’m in the red 16 2/3 yards (rounded).

3) To menu plan every single week.
Failed at this completely.

Vampire Trash

Me (in Good Man’s car): Where is your trash can?

Good Man: Eh, you know, it is gone.

Me: Why?

Good Man: I threw it away.

Me: Why did you do that?  It was a fine trash bag.

Good Man: I, you know, did not empty it for a while and the bananas turned into vampires.

Me: Vampires?

Good Man: It was vampire trash!

Do Not Go Into MySQL at Midnight, After Drinking

In the spirit of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie:

Do not tinker around in MySQL at midnight, after a margarita, trying to update your blogging platform.

Do not trust that the backup you made will actually work without a fatal error.  Because if it’s after midnight, and you’ve had a margarita, and you are screwing around in MySQL, Murphy’s Law ensures that the backup will have fatal errors when you try to restore it.

(And you will need to restore it, because you’re slightly tipsy, tired, and stupid—really stupid!—and you’ll accidentally delete all six years of blog posts and comments in just a few stupid clicks.)

Then you will cry ragged tears on and for two hours before finally going to bed.

The next day, you will install WordPress and then painstakingly…manually…copy over 900 posts that you can recover.  The remaining year and a half of blog posts will have to wait for another day.

(You will call your mom at some point, who start with, “Oh no!  Amanda, oh no, I’m so sorry…” and finish with, “But you’re usually so smart!”  And you’ll agree.  Because my God, what you did was really stupid!)

And when it takes three days to manually copy the posts (with the help of your very patient husband!), you will have a cramp in your right shoulder from viewing page source, copying, pasting, closing the window, opening another window…