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Homework Help………………..

If you read this, you know how much I love to help with math homework. Well, my son (and I) have now graduated to Algebra. Last night, he had a lot of home work and he was stuck on a few problems. He asked me for help.

Ummmm. No, hubby was not here – why do you ask? 😉

I kind of laughed and mumbled something about the blind leading the blind and sat down armed with a pencil and a scoop of Algebra hopefulness.

To be honest, I have been pretty surprised at my ability to help him navigate through his math homework so far. Don’t worry though – I am not resting on my laurels because I know I am about to hit a breaking point. When I initially look at a problem, it almost inevitably looks like alphabet soup and I feel woefully unqualified (even armed with my B.A. in English Writing) to help at all. But then, I look through the book and I look at his notes and we talk and e.v.e.n.t.u.a.l.l.y. we figure it out. I did actually go pretty far in math but the last time I used “x” and “y” for anything besides bonus points in Scrabble was well – cough – over 20 years ago.

And sometimes I have a hard time saying with a straight face that this is all important for him to learn. I cannot ever remember needing to know what ordered pairs fall on a given line. My life has been pretty full even without that ability readily at my fingertips.

Just as a side note – I found a great website that will give you the answer to a problem. It’s Mathway. You can also pay a subscription fee if you want to see the steps that get you to the answer. But so far, the answer has been enough to point me in the right direction. They are no fools though – I am sure they know that I am probably only one or two chapters away from hitting “subscribe”. tee hee.

My parenting mantra has always been “don’t sell yourself short” whether it be swimming or soccer or school or cleaning your room. Which Bear ever-so-kindly throws right back at me when I get intimidated by higher math even simple addition and subtraction sans calculator. (Note to self – be careful how you encourage your kids – set the bar low and they won’t throw it back at you. 😉 )

I could barely diagram sentences even as an English major, so figuring out linear equations looked a tad bit daunting. Yeah for me – last night’s homework – yep, linear equations. Okay. Let me get an extra strength Diet Dr. Pepper, channel Albert Einstein, and I will be right there.

We worked through one problem and moved on to the next. I started talking about the problem thinking, “bring it, I got this one” and he started chanting. Seriously?

Bear: la la la la la.
Me: Bear, here is what I think
Bear: la la la la la la
Me: Excuse me?
Bear: Mom, I am thinking – you are disrupting my thoughts.
Me: Yeah, you invited me over here. Do you remember that part?
Bear: Shhh.
Me: Did you just SHHHHussshhhh me?
Bear: Shhh.
Me: Shuffle Shuffle Shuffle (that was the sound of me backing away)
Bear: Where are you going? I need your help.
Me: My help. That is pretty funny. Remember the blind leading the blind? And you just told me to shhhhush.
Bear: Please come back and sit down.
Me: Did you just say please?
Bear: rolling his eyes – apparently teenage speak for yes, you know I did.
Mom, come on.

So here is the beauty of last night. Hubby was at work, the girls were at a practice, and my teenage son was begging me to sit with him. We worked together for an hour – completely uninterrupted – and talked about Algebra and all kinds of other stuff. It was really fabulous. We laughed a lot. And he actually figured it out mostly by himself. And, no that was not because my suggestions were so ridiculous that they triggered real possible answers to the front of his memory bank. Okay, maybe it was because of that. Just maybe.

When he was done, he looked at his assignment sheet and asked me to read it.

Me: Problems 1-4, 11-39 odd
Bear: Did you just say odd
Me: Yeah, did you do even
Bear: I did all
Me: More practice can’t be a bad thing right?
Bear: more of the eye rolling – apparently quite a versatile little trick that eye rolling – it can mean so many different things
Me: Reading directions before you start might be a better approach next time. Come on, you have a lot more homework to get done
Bear: It’s not my fault I have so much homework.
Me: blank stare (but no eye rolling – pinky swear)
Bear: Well, maybe it’s a little bit my fault. La la la la.

I am once again a fan of homework.

I know, a lot of parents don’t get too involved in homework – especially 8th grade math homework – and for the most part, I totally get that – independence and all that jazz – but I see real value in checking in every now and then. Your teenager might actually beg you to sit with him/her and might just pay (full) attention to what you are saying. And you might just learn about more than just Algebra.

And, just so I wouldn’t get to comfy cozy on my mommy thrown, he rode in the back seat this morning – not speaking to me. Apparently he was mad at me because I won’t let him walk by his younger sister and ever-so-gently knock the crap out of her with his backpack. I know, I know, I am so unreasonable.

Fear not, I explained very carefully to him why that was not exactly the best approach when tomorrow he might need my help with math again.

YESTERDAY AND THE EXPAT F0RUM………

Yesterday, I got to be a grown up and go into Washington, DC for a meeting. For those of you who do this every day – I am soooo, sooo sorry. Augh.

My day started out all loverly – hubby got the kids ready for school so I could leave on-time half an hour late. (I left late because I stink at waking up and overslept. Hubby really was very helpful.) I went into my closet to find something to wear – yes, I should have done that a month ago when I would have still had time to lose a little weight – only to discover that I actually do believe in magic. I tried on pants that had no chance of fitting and even tried to zip them and what I discovered was that  A) I need to stop wearing pants with elastic in the waist so that I can feel when my clothes are getting tighter and B) too tight dress pants don’t look any better than too tight jeans. Sigh.

But there were some pants that fit and looked decent. So on they went and I even had a top that didn’t have grape jelly or ketchup stains on it. Yeah for me.

Then I set out in to the big bad world of DC traffic. I did my homework and found out that there was an accident on the road I wanted to take, so I turned right instead of left. I also found out that the Transformers is filming part of their latest movie in DC – this week. Oh goody. So, basically, there was no great route to take. And, yes, I could have taken the metro – but I h.a.t.e. the metro. Hate it. HHHH.AAAAA.TTTTT.EEEEEE.   IIII.TTTT. So, that wasn’t really an option. I just can’t start my day with all of the following smells combined into one – smoker’s breath, coffee breath, perfume, sweat, hairspray, gas passing in one form or another, and inevitably someone has gas on their hands from filling up their car….augh. Metros really should be smell-free zones. Seriously, you should have to pass through an odor detector – if the smelldar goes off – you go directly to the showers or the deodorizing tank. Off with your smells. And, by the way, good smells in combination with bad smells in confined spaces still equal really bad smells.

Anysmell, o-n-e h-o-u-r and f-0-r-t-y-f-i-v-e minutes later, I was able to park and find the building. But I am not bitter at all about how long it took to get there and this is why – first of all – I was by myself  in the car for one hour and forty five minutes – no one asking me questions or asking me to do this or do that – but more importantly, the last two times I parked in DC parking garages, it took forever to find a spot – then the one I finally found was really too small – which is why no one (with pants that weren’t too tight thus reducing blood circulation to her brain) parked there. But not me, remember, I believe in magic – zippers that zip and cars that fit in too small parking spots. Both times – yes, both times – I side swiped the entire driver’s side of my van on a cement post. But yesterday, I quickly found myself a big wide open spot (right next to the exit, mind you) with no cement posts nearby. Yippee Skippee.

Are you wondering what the point of this post is – sorry. I finally sat down at the Expat F0rum, only to find out that Andrea Martins was one of the panelists. That’s pretty cool because she is one of the co-founders of the website Expat Women – which is listed on my blogroll – and I am listed on theirs (under the blogs about Asia section – and because my blog starts with an “A”, I am even near the top of the list). Expat Women is extremely helpful for any women who do not live in their own country – lots of info, lots of stories. Andrea is enthusiastic and knowledgeable and it was a treat to meet her.

Of course, I just had to introduce myself to her. Didn’t you see that coming? You must know by now that I did. I told her about my blog being listed on her site and she tilted her head a little and went ohh and then ummm. Okay, I was a little disappointed that she didn’t screech that she was so lucky to meet me and that she reads my blog religiously but at least she didn’t tell me my pants were too tight. Anyway, she did ask if I had plans to turn my blog into a book and she wants to give me the contact information for someone who might be able to help me. Yes, tres coolio!

Alan Paul was also there as a panelist. He wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal about being an expat in China and now he is turning that column into book. Do I see a growing trend? Turning a blog into a book – sounds like a great idea, right? Anybook, he was funny and just encouraged everyone to think about what you gain from an expat experience and not focus on what you are losing. It’s easy to get frustrated about how hard life can be away from your home country but if you look out your window, you just might see the Great Wall of China or the Taj Mahal. That can’t be all bad.

At the end of the panel discussion there was some time for questions. One of the themes throughout the f0rum was the difficulties spouses have with finding employment overseas. I was never someone interested in working (oh sure the paycheck part was appealing but not the working part so it never really worked out for me) – there were days I felt like I could barely tie my own shoes – much less be responsible to a boss – but lots of people do want to work and it ain’t easy finding a paying gig. Oddly enough, Susan Musich was there. She is the Managing Director for Passport Career.

I will let their website description explain what they do: “Passport CareerTM is the first-ever, comprehensive, online global job search support system for international professionals moving to or living in unique and challenging destinations around the world. Whether they are moving to the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa, or Latin America, Passport CareerTM provides detailed insight and knowledge on the business customs, strategies, and resources related to the job search for each country and destination covered.” Good to know, right?

The Department of State also has a similar program for embassy family members called the Global Employment Initiative.

The whole f0rum was hosted by Clements International, a company offers (okay sells) international insurance policies but also does a lot in support of the expat as a person – like this f0rum and writing contests for kids. They invited me, so I thought I would mention them. Thanks Clements. And, nope they did not pay me to say that. I also have never investigated international insurance policies, so, to be fair, this is not an endorsement – but they might be one place to look if you are searching for international insurance. There. Disclaimer said.

So, even though I did not want to get out from under the warm and cozy covers only to try on big girl clothes, I am glad I went. I even won a Starbucks gift card worth $10. 😉