Wednesday, September 28, 2016

in which I have plans

In spite of being swamped with work, or perhaps because of it, I have been making plans to do things that take hours or days that I perhaps should not be sacrificing.

I'll manage.

This weekend DH and I are taking the two boys to see HMS Pinafore at ASU's Lyric Opera.  DS2 has to do a vocal performance review, and it was on the list of approved concerts, so we're going.  It has been quite a while since I've seen a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, but I am deeply fond of them from all my summers at the College Light Opera Company in Falmouth.  It should be a fun night out.

OK, that's just Saturday night (we'll go to mass and dinner before, so it really is half the day, it seems).  Talking with DD the other day we both got nostalgic for fall in New England, so we're going back for a few days over fall break.  DS2 surprised me by saying he'd like to come, too.  Our plan is to visit Salem and perhaps do the Freedom Trail if the weather allows, and perhaps see family if anyone is around and available.  We are all going in so many different directions these days, it's hard to say what we'll actually end up doing, but we're looking forward to having a little time away.

I do need to get myself somewhat organized before we go so I don't miss any deadlines, but I'm planning on doing my data collection (measuring mesquite trees!) for my grad school project this weekend just to get it over with.  Only five more teaching days of school before break!

Friday, September 23, 2016

made it!

Part of me wants to recap everything I did this week just so I can say, See, I did all that!  But I don't want to type it all out.  

So, yeah, I did everything I needed to for the teaching part of my job, and for the admin part of my job, except sending out an email to parents who were interested in helping out in the junior high, which I will do in the morning. (maybe)

What I didn't do is my grad school work -- a bunch of reading, another short write-up, and prep for the 9a-4p day at the zoo tomorrow.  I'm pretty excited about that, in spite of my exhaustion.  It's only 7:30-ish now.  I can get through what I need to do tonight and get a decent night's sleep, and then, well, I'm thinking it should be easier from now on.

Why? Because I won't have to spend 9+ hours driving back and forth to Phoenix, and my therapy has dropped back to twice a week which gives me back another 2 hours.  Plus we only have 8 more teaching days of school, plus a day of conferences, before fall break. 

That will be lovely.

Oh, yeah: the scan was clean, but blood work won't be back from California for 3 more weeks, so I won't get the official all-clear until then.  But that's more time I get back: I don't have to cook everything from scratch anymore.  It's remarkable what a hassle it is to make gravy when you have to make the stock, too.  Also, it is really delightful to let others prepare food for you.  DH & DD have gone to pick up our take-out sushi dinner, which I hope will be as delightful as it is when we eat in-house... I just have too much homework right now to be able to enjoy that. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

the great wave

Everyone knows this painting:

Hokusai's Great Wave off Kanagawa
I think most people focus on the wave.  I'm one of the guys in the boats.


Thank God I planned out my math classes because I've barely been keeping up with everything.  OK, let me backtrack a bit.  If there is nothing unusual going on, I can keep up if I am diligent, meaning I don't take any days or nights off from work.  

Of course there is always something unusual going on, some other demand on my time.  Let's see: First, I had not one but two district meetings to attend, one all-day, one only a few hours, but both required me to write up sub plans and that in itself takes hours.   

Then, DS2 received a deficiency notice in humane letters and that set off a whole chain reaction of events, ending with me attending a meeting with his teacher and the dean of the high school yesterday.  There's a novel's worth of material to explain everything, but I'll sum up by saying simply that I got upset (justifiably), there was miscommunication, and everything's good now.  And, miraculously, DS2 is no longer deficient because he is doing his work.  Part of that work has been another time-sink for me, coaching him  on his Utopia essay.  

In an effort to hold off crashing-and-burning, I'm in treatment for my neck and lower back.  Every time I go, which is three times a week, I think, "I don't have time for this," but I have to make the time.  I can't teach four classes in a row without my back screaming at me, and I've already learned stretches that magically fix that.  The neck is work in progress; somehow I've lost nearly all the curvature I'm supposed to have - 45%.  My curvature? 4%.  Yikes.  I didn't even know, of course, but that perhaps explains the numbness and tingling I was getting in my right arm: nerve entrapment.  That is so much better since I've been going, it's a miracle -- it was preventing me from sleeping, and that's not something I can afford.  So, progress.  But also a huge time sink, and I should be spending even more time on in it because I'm not doing my stretches and exercises at home much at all, and I should be spending at least a half hour a day on them.  Typing that, I think, why can't I find a half hour?  If I do, I will feel better.  It's because when I get home I have so much else to do, and when I finish that, I'm exhausted.  I think I will bump up the exercises to the top of the to-do list so they get done first.

Grad class? Excellent... but I was up way too late doing the readings, and then up way-way-too-late writing my first real assignment, which wasn't even that long. My first in-person class at the Phoenix Zoo is a week from today, and my goal there is to have completed the first assignment comments by then.  (They were due two days ago, but there is a grace period.  I feel bad that I'm starting off this way, but it is what it is.)

Another time sink has been cooking for the low iodine diet, which is mostly the same as usual except when it's not.  If we want gravy or something with a flavorful broth I have to put a lot more effort into it, because I can't just scoop out a little Better Than Bouillon to give it some depth.  I obsess over food when I'm on this diet because I feel so constrained.  Not deprived! I've been eating very well -- I just have to make every single thing, because its nigh impossible to ensure that commercially prepared food is made without iodized or sea salt. I also can't have any dairy or seafood or soy.  It's remarkable how much of my diet has at least one of those things in it.   Also, guacamole is a perfectly acceptable dinner, and Guinness makes a fine base for beef stew.

Now, the Great Wave: I have my Thyrogen trial this week, which means I'm driving up to Phoenix four days out of five.  I'm using my prep hours and driving up mid-day, so with any luck the traffic will be light.  But it will be stressful and exhausting, simply because I'm driving an extra hour (or more) each day, I'm being injected with synthetic TSH which always makes me feel weird, and I'm back into the cancer testing cycle.  There's no way not to be stressed!  But it's especially stressful this year because I'm taking 2 hours a day out of my available time.  I don't want to give up those 8 hours!  Hence, the feeling of impending doom.  

I created a planning document for myself so I don't forget anything.  Well, really, so I don't go crazy. I have been doing something similar each week so far just on random pieces of paper, and that gets messy and I find myself, like this week on Wednesday night at 11PM, realizing that I actually don't have the Course 3 Lesson 18 notes done, and having to type them up while struggling to keep my eyes open.  I'd love to prepare everything for the week in advance, but the reality is I usually get Monday and Tuesday done,  and then the rest of the week gets done the night before.  Eventually, when I'm out of physical therapy and all this testing nonsense is done, I will be able to get there.  I hope. 

I would like the visual metaphor for my life to be a canoe ride down a wide, gently flowing river through beautiful woods and meadows full of wildflowers, but right now, I'm off Kanagawa watching that wave come toward me, rowing for survival. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

wish I had a photo...

DS2 made garam masala while I prepped chicken for chicken masala tonight.  The herbs and spices looked and smelled heavenly while toasting in the pan on the stove, and I swear I asked him to take a photo but we didn't get one.  Next time, then -- although we have enough garam masala to last quite a while now. Cooking was a nice break from the planning I had been doing all day, and am now returning to after a little break.

I'm trying to balance work and life better this year.  In past years, whenever I've had any outstanding task, I've just willed my way through it at the expense of everything else.  This year I'm purposely looking at everything and saying, "That can wait," and so far, it has been OK.

That said, today I planned out all 3 of my math classes for the rest of the quarter, and barring surprises, I shouldn't need to touch those again.  I'm about to tackle my science classes and try for at least another few weeks out, but with the new textbooks, it's not as easy.  I love the complete lack of ambiguity in math, how the lessons follow one after the other, with predictable interval for tests and quizzes.  All I have to do is match it up against our calendar (and shuffle it around again when I lose instructional days to unexpected events...)  It's a fussy process but not difficult, and I suppose I could include less detail to make it easier if it has to change.  But the details help me stay on track in the classroom, so I kept them in.  Now with q1 planning done, the rest of the quarters will be easier, too.

Now I'm left pondering how best to make my suggestions and comments about those new science textbooks.  I have a bit of an edge after last year's failed proposal, but I'll try.  We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

very quickly --

I should be showering, or making a Power Point, but I'll just post this little update.  So far I am so impressed with my students.   One of my concerns was what kind of kids we would get, but it is such a great group.  Obviously we're still at the beginning of the year and I'm sure various ugly things will raise their heads from time to time, but overall, they are the "motivated students" our mission statement talks about.

The registrar from my old campus was at our school today for the district registrars' meeting, and she popped in to visit me.  I told her without really even thinking about it that I love my new school and things are going very well (because they are!)  She said that they're very full back at the old campus -- all the classes have 35 students!  The thought of it makes me cringe.  I just don't have the energy for that.

Ironically, I'm doing about five times the prep work I had to at the old campus, but because we have so few students, it's OK.  I'm not trying to prep all those classes and grade 200 students' worth of work.  I actually love the planning and curriculum development part, so it's actually kind of a bonus.  And I love teaching the higher math classes, but the 7th grade math is a bit of a snooze.  (For me, not them.)  We'll see how this goes, but we're off to really great start.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

definitely swimming in the deep end now...

Yikes, I have a lot of work!

Prepping for five different classes a day is a new experience for me.  Content-wise I'm fine, but process wise?  I can't do it without my notes & power points, and that's what's keeping me busy.

I'm a few lessons ahead in math, and I'm going to try to do some every day so I work up a reasonable buffer.  My class starts in a couple of weeks and I'm going to need to carve out some time for that!

Today I thought, why did I do this to myself?  But I do love the new school, the team is great there, and so far - one week in - the students are great, too.  Of course we'll see how it goes as we all become accustomed to each other, but so far so good, and I'm not looking for trouble.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


First day of school!

It was a great day, but I'm exhausted and praying I don't get sick.  I worked frantically the last 5 days to get both my classrooms ready, with success... but of course nothing is organized.

Fortunately I don't have to teach content this week, because my planning is not done (that's for this weekend); we're just doing policies, procedures, and practice this week.  I'm looking forward to getting back into a groove.

Meanwhile, I jumped through all the hoops and will be taking the course at the zoo, beginning in just a couple of weeks.

Off to revise last year's power point to make it relevant to the new school...