Saturday, December 29, 2007

What Resemblance?

During the holiday season, the inside of our (lame-o) front door gets (thankfully) covered with cards that have been sent by family and friends. Many of these cards, like the one we send out, feature pictures of the kids. We are always happy to get these kind of cards, as it is so hard (impossible) to keep up in-person with everyone we would like to. The pictures allow us to be amazed at just how big everyone has gotten (and how long it has been since we've seen you...sorry!).

These cards also inevitably lend themselves to the "looks like" game. As in, Ferenc (real Hungarian name, fictitious person) looks just like his father. Turns out, I am terrible at this game. Sure, I can see features of mom and dad in most of the pictures on the door. But is there more mom in there, or is there more dad? That's where I have no clue.

And that includes in my own family. People will say that Z looks just like me. Or that Julie is a dead ringer for Desi. But when I look the two of them, I don't see any of this. Maybe I'm just too close to them and can't abstract away like those of you who set eyes on them only periodically. This, though, doesn't explain why I'm bad at pegging the kids I see only once in a while (and maybe only once a year in two dimensions).

Here's my little theory. I think there is a subconscious phenomenon that goes on in the "looks like" game. Let's say you are on Desi's "side" of the family--one of Desi's relatives or long-time friends. According my hypothesis, you are more likely to think that Julie and Z resemble Desi, her parents, her grandparents, her aunts and uncles. In other words, you naturally highlight those features that seemingly come out of the Neidenbach lineage. My expectation holds in reverse if you are on the Balla "side" of the family.

If my hunch is right, then why do we see things this way? Perhaps we can perceive certain kinds of details better than others, due to past experiences (here, facial patterns we have seen before with our own eyes). Or perhaps we simply want to see offspring who resemble those in our family tree (and thus conjure up similarities in appearances).

I bet you some psychologist has figured this all out already...

~Steve

Monday, December 24, 2007

Our Lady of Good Counsel

Ever since I have ever thought about high schools, I have always thought I would just go to St. John's College High School. Turns out, there are a lot of other options besides SJC. I began getting postcards in the mail from all the local schools. We decided that we would check out the different high schools. The first open house we went to was Georgetown Visitation, which still remains my favorite of all the schools. I love it so much because of the element of leadership that is encouraged and because of the beautiful campus. The second school we looked at was Holy Child. It too was beautiful, but it is a little bit out of the way from the house. Since that first weekend of open houses, we have been visiting as many as we can.

Many of the schools in our area are single-sex schools. Included in these schools are Visitation and Holy Cross, my two favorite schools right now. But recently there was an open house for Good Counsel, a co-ed school. The only other co-ed school we had visited was St. John's, so we decided to check it out. Good Counsel used to be located right near our house but just recently moved out to Olney where they could build a much larger campus. The location of the new GC was a downside to begin with but we decided to check it out anyway.

Good Counsel was a beautiful school with all the latest technology. It was a little bit bigger than the rest of the schools. I really like the fact that they have an IB program but the only problem for me was that they put a huge emphasis on sports. The fact that they switch the school day around for the sports players and have the biggest physical therapy room I have ever seen was a bit of a hit. I thought, though, that as long as I am in the IB program, I could be fine at GC. I am glad that we checked out Good Counsel because it definitely knocked St. John's out of third place in my mind.

~Julie

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Little House on Matey Road

I can remember thinking, back in 1995, when we were looking at houses prior to moving into the area, that the little house on Matey Rd. could be one that we stay in for 12 years. Why 12 years? Frankly, I have no idea where that number came from, other than it was larger than the seven year figure that was rattling around in my head for most of the other places we had been checking out.

Well, here we are 12 years later and the arbitrary time frame suddenly has meaning. With the move to China comes the question of what to do with our humble abode. Is now the time to sell it? There are good arguments that way.

The neighborhood is not what it used to be. One of the great things about Matey Rd. was the familial connections that went back sometimes three generations. Although we were newbies, we were surrounded by Crawfords, Isoms, Norwoods, and other long-time Matey Rd. residents. Now many of these awesome neighbors are gone. Mrs. Wilson is hanging on, but there are few others left. In their place has been a string of renters who come and go before we even get to know them. There's not much, people-wise, binding us to Matey Rd. any more, that's for sure.

It will be easy to make the break. Moving out will be sad for all four of us. Some of this sting will vanish if we move out in the context of the larger trip to China. In other words, the excitement of what is to come will take some of our attention off of what we are leaving. And then it will be cool to come back and set up an entirely new shop somewhere else.

That said, there are so many logistical hurdles to pulling such a move off.

Do we aim to sell the house right before we leave and have no residence to maintain while living abroad? Is this kind of timing at all feasible given how weak the housing market is? And how will we search for and buy another house from 7,000 miles away?

Do we sell the house now and only move the essentials into our next place, treating it as a way station on the road to China? Then we could rent this new house out and not feel uncomfortable that someone is living in our space. When we return, we can then paint it and do all of those things that transform a living space into a home.

Do we rent our current house out and then move back into it for only a short time, while we look to sell and buy? This way, once again, we won't feel funny about having renters in our permanent space.

Do we just rent the house out and plan to stay for a long time after the trip? After all, we do really like the house, yard, etc.

Or do we just leave it empty for a year?

Lurking behind all of these questions, of course, are financial realities. Can we afford the kind of move we would like to pull off? What are the monetary pros and cons of the various roads we might follow?

I have no idea what we should do, nor what we are going to do...

~Steve