Thursday, February 08, 2018

a moment

About 4:30 this afternoon, I was setting up the science lab for tomorrow's adventure in chemistry, because we have Mass in the morning and therefore I don't have the prep hour I do all the other days.

We've been in the lab every day this week, using a modified version of this awesome Middle School Chemistry curriculum from the American Chemical Society.  This is the most hands-on chemistry I've ever been able to teach.  I have the space, I have the resources, I have the time, and I have the complete support of my administration.

So yeah, I was on campus pretty late, but it was with a smile on my face. 

I love my job.

Friday, January 05, 2018


My winter break didn't start until mid-day on December 21, but it wonderfully continues through this whole week.  I've spent the better part of this 2-plus weeks feeling like I'm finally getting over a long, stubborn illness.  Part of that is because I did finally kick the cold symptoms that had been hanging on since Thanksgiving.  An even bigger part, though, is feeling as if the veil of depression that settled over me at the end of May has begun to lift.

I've been struggling this year, much more than I should be.  I'm not in grad school anymore.  I'm only teaching three subjects.  I have right around 100 students.  I've got way better technology to help manage student science project work.  But I still have felt nearly continuous anxiety, and often struggled to get lessons planned and materials prepped without feeling like I was doing everything at the last minute.

I struggled to make sense of it, because I objectively had much less work than I've had for the past 4 years.  I don't have to upload ridiculously detailed lesson plans, two weeks in advance, by 8AM every Monday, for example.  Nor am I leading and documenting weekly PLC meetings.  Nor am I participating in three child study teams... but still.  I am doing many lessons "from scratch", even though the curriculum is by the same publisher as at my last school, and so big chunks are substantially the same... but the standards are not, which makes me a first-year teacher again, in some respects.  Integrating engineering, modeling, scientific argumentation... awesome, but time consuming, since my curriculum is not aligned with the NGSS.

I'm tired of being new and having to create everything from the ground up.  Now, at the halfway point, I have a ridiculously long To-Do list, and I'm only about halfway through it.  Last year I was too exhausted to do much of anything over the break, but I have more discipline this year and will knock off the rest of the list over the next four days. (And then it's back to work.)

Throughout this year I have been aiming for a better work/life balance, and to that end, I've put more  energy into meal planning and prep than I did last year... but last year, DD was home and a big help on that front.  But there's only so much I can do in a day, and over the past 5 months there have been a lot of days where, after dinner, I just didn't work because I couldn't push myself to.

That's the big difference between this year and last: needing to push myself to get anything done. I'm relieved the low-key anxiety underlying everything seems to have dissipated. Perhaps now all the little (and not-so-little) teacher tasks I have to do won't seem like such a burden. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

a merry little Christmas

You know your kids are grown when they sleep until 9:30 Christmas morning.  As it was, DS2 was knocking on the other two doors, announcing, "Christmas!"  He wanted to open presents.

You also know your kids are grown when opening presents takes approximately 10 minutes, and within another 10 minutes, everything is put away.  It helps that we have sworn off the entire idea of "stocking stuffers" and only get the kids stuff they actually want/can use.  Plus, they are old enough now that aunts and uncles have finally quit sending stuff for them... with one exception -- my older sister, who, as DH says, "... is loaded, she has nothing else to spend her money on."  True. But everyone else has stepped back, and that's good.

Me, too: this is the first year I haven't sent gift cards ($$$) to my multitudinous nieces and nephews.  One of my brothers told me to stop, literally.  I respect that, and appreciate it, because although I love my job, I've taken a bit of a pay cut (but I am paying into a pension fund, so it works out.)  Still, the cash on hand is not so much in evidence this year.  At least I'm not paying for grad school -- that helps.

The rib roast is resting on the counter, and I have to go defrost the shrimp.  Last year's lobster tail was inexplicably bitter, and I'd rather not go through that hassle just to be disappointed again.  Dinner preparations will begin eventually.

There's a pitcher of mimosas in the fridge, Christmas music on Pandora, and fresh balsam candles making the house smell like a Christmas tree.  I'd love to bake something but my students completely overwhelmed me with their gifts of delicious things, so it would be silly to add more.  It's very quiet here, with everyone off in their own corner doing whatever -- the way it usually is. 

Still, everyone is home, and happy. And so is my heart, this Christmas.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

"Maybe we should just move?"

-semi-serious question asked by DH yesterday, contemplating the state of the plumbing.  It's an impending doom situation here.  We know it will fail again, we just don't know where or when.  *sigh*

And then I opened the microwave to take out my cup of tea, and the front panel fell off sending sparks everywhere.   Yep, we have been in this house for 19 years.  If moving weren't so expensive, we probably would do it... but for now, we're staying put, and getting a new microwave.

Contractors are coming Friday to give us an estimate on fixing the hole in the wall.  That is totally the kind of thing we would have done ourselves in the past, but the insurance is covering it, so we'll leave it to the professionals.  Getting the plaster texture right is tougher than it looks.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Also in the "don't do this again" bin

Non-emergency plumbing repairs the day before Thanksgiving.  My nerves are extremely jangly after trying to disable the smoke detectors going off from all the soldering happening to repair and replace this manifold:
Pipes aren't supposed to be green.
The moisture/mold abatement team will be arriving shortly.  I expect we'll be dealing with fans/blowers and dehumidifiers for several days at least, but we should be able to deal with that. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

don't do this again...

Reminder to me: do not have a Thyrogen trial over Thanksgiving, even if you're not on the low iodine diet. 

I forget how many symptoms of hypothyroidism I get after the injections, namely:  muscle and joint pain, dry skin, feeling cold all the time, brain fog, deep and abiding fatigue (that one could just be because I don't get enough sleep), gastroparesis, sinus congestion, headache, ...

Yes, I'm blaming it all on the Thyrogen, which should clear my system over the next week or so, and then I'll be fine.  But having to deal with all these physical irritations when I want to be working in the kitchen is a drag.

I had my second blood test this morning, so technically, that's that.  The tech drew from the back of my right hand, and this afternoon it started itching something fierce, probably from the tape she used to secure the gauze over the injection site.  Fortunately that all settled down, because I can't deal with another something blowing up right now, even if it is minor.  Too much to do.

I want to peel the apples for the pies, but I have to enter grades, first.  And then go to bed at a decent hour and see if it helps!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

it's always the same

Or often, anyway.  Maybe not always.

I began this day exhausted because I slept from 9pm til midnight on the couch, and woke unfortunately refreshed and not feeling the immediate need for sleep.  Bed, finally, at 2, then up at 6.  The math is not in my favor.

At this point I'm keeping up with my lesson prep (everything's new in every class!  unfortunate synchronization!) but have not kept up with grading.  It could be worse, but I can blame my lost prep hour this morning for some of it.  A tiny fraction, but still, some.

Now again, I'll be up in 4 hours, without the benefit of the 3-hour-nap, because understanding how electromagnetic motors and generators work took me down several internet rabbit holes and came uncomfortably close to reminding me of freshman year physics at MIT, which I have repressed all these years.  I'm such a poser.  But, I can at least explain the basic principles to my students, which is all they need at this point.

Then there was the cooking for the staff potluck tomorrow...

The whole reason I'm still up and still floundering around is because I'm having my Thyrogen trial starting tomorrow and once again, for the eleventy-millionth time, I just DON'T WANT TO DO IT.  Should've thought about that before I paid the hospital my $700+ patient portion, I suppose.  So, here's tomorrow (more accurately, slightly later today):
Get up at 5:30, drink approximately 60 ounces of water (not kidding)
6:30, leave for the lab
7:15 if I'm lucky, get my blood drawn, but I do have an appointment
7:45 be at school to start the day, having to pee every 15 minutes, thank God for first period prep
9-11 two lectures on electricity & magnetism
11:45-1:45 two lectures on energy transfer in the atmosphere and air currents
1:45-2:30 lecture on the apostles, Mary, & the early Church
2:30 drive to downtown Phoenix
3-ish (Google maps says it should only take 34 minutes at that time of day) register at the hospital
3:30ish get my first Thyrogen injection
3:35ish drive home
5:00 realistic time I will arrive home
5:02 fall asleep on the couch

I will have to drive up again after school on Friday for my second injection, then have to get up early again on Monday for labs again. 

I seriously detest this, so much that I'm wondering, how bad would be it if I just said, "No, thanks, not this year. How about, say, 2020?"  It's not like it's going to kill me, although I never did get clarification on whether or not I had the more aggressive variant (which, justifiably, actually could kill me).  What good are all these fancy genetic tests if I don't get them? hmmm.

Banner MDA finally, finally have an endocrine cancers department.  I'm going to ask my PCP for a referral over there.  I'd like to centralize my care somewhere the staff is kind and the scheduling actually works for me.  If I didn't have to drive all the way downtown, I'd feel a lot less hostile to this process.

What I hate the most: the waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop feeling.  It's only a matter of time until there is a recurrence.  Why else would we keep searching so diligently, year after year?

I do this to myself every single time -- I cannot recall an instance of just sailing through this process as if everything were fine -- and every time I get angry with myself for being so dramatic and whiny about it. 

Always the same.  By this time next week it will be all over, and I'll stop freaking out and everything will be fine.   Lord knows I don't want to go into Thanksgiving with this attitude.