Friday, December 30, 2016

feelin' feline

Yes, I am feeling very cat-like these days.  I sleep late, get up, putter around a bit, eat something... then nap.  For hours -- and then I get up and do the same thing.  I think I've been averaging about 16 hours of sleep a day since Christmas.

The thing is, with that much sleep, I should be feeling great, but every time I wake up I have this vague, getting-over-an-illness feeling.  It's probably correct, but I wasn't really sick, just chronically exhausted.

Anyway, I have to start putting some time in to work or I'll find myself right back on the hamster wheel.  Little things are getting done around the house, so it hasn't been a complete festival of laziness, and we went to see Rogue One (yay!) and a Coyotes game (sigh).  We celebrated our 22nd anniversary (!) by going out for dinner with the kids, and it was lovely.  So, it has been a really nice, vacation-y vacation, so far.  Nine days to go, though, and I better have something to show for it!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

a tiny list of accomplishments

Saturday, Christmas Eve: slept late, gloriously, and then spent the day mostly cleaning up and prepping dinner.  I got the presents sorted and DH handled getting everything wrapped, God bless the man.  We went to the 7PM Latin mass which didn't start until 7:15 because the 5:30 Spanish mass was concelebrated by the bishop and was absolutely packed to the rafters.  The Latin mass was not, and the music was spectacular, and I loved it.  We ate dinner after (only slightly later than usual, lol) and watched a Mission Impossible movie and it was fine.

Christmas Day: kids were up about 8AM, the earliest we'd seen them (voluntarily) in a week.  Opened presents first, not such a big deal anymore! Then I made scones and scrambled eggs (the boys made the bacon) and it was lovely.  Lunch was just salamis and cheeses and olives and pickles and the most delicious artichoke hearts, and a glass or two of DH's Christmas scotch-on-the-rocks, which was really delicious. Dinner?  I researched prime rib recipes for far too long but to good end, I think: I used the herb butter recipe that DD had recommended but not that cooking method, and it came out spectacular.  It turns out that poaching enormous lobster tails in butter really only works for the main part. I should have trimmed off all those little weird pieces around the edges because they just turned to rubber.  Still, it was yummy and yes, basically all I did was cook and eat. And talk on the phone -- both days, to various family members around the country, and that was lovely even though I miss everyone fiercely on these days. I see the photos from the big gatherings and remember what they're like -- wonderful and crazy -- and I wonder if there will come a year when we will make the effort to travel back East.  It could happen.

Today? My official day off -- I have too much to do to not-work the rest of the days I'm off school.  But today, my accomplishments include sleeping late (again), emptying the dishwasher, and applying for my transfer credit for my Project Dragonfly class, which involved jumping through several hoops.  I solved another puzzle in WordBrain (Clown level is killing me) and I read the entire internet.  Twice.

Tomorrow (later today, actually); DD has a quick appointment for a sleep study, and then trying to get into some sort of routine where some work gets done.  We'll see. Other plans for this week? Seeing Rogue One with the family on Wednesday morning, and going overnight with DH for a hockey game up in Glendale.  I'm starting to panic a little that I don't have enough time to do everything I'd like to do before I go back, even though I have all of next week off, too - and the kids don't!  First thing to do is make my lists...

Thursday, December 22, 2016

new goal

I'm writing about this as a way to hold myself accountable.

I am often confronted with unwanted student opinions about assignments, directions, rules, or what-have-you.  Typically, my response has been along the lines of, "I don't care if [you don't like it], this is what we're doing."

While factually correct, it's a pretty cold response, and I've always known it's not particularly effective.  It may redirect the student's behavior, but it doesn't do anything to redirect the student's attitude, and that's arguably more important.

I'm so pleased to have finally identified an alternative response that does just that:  "That's not what's important right now," or some variation on that theme.  This response does not invalidate the student's feelings, and even gives me space to acknowledge them: "I know you don't particularly feel like doing this right now, but that's not what's important..."

I've actually remembered to use it two or three times over the past couple of days.  I'm expecting more deployment in the future, especially as break time draws near.  And so far, the students are responding more positively, too.  I'm allowing myself to feel a tiny bit proud of this one.


I packed & shipped our Christmas boxes yesterday, so today, I felt much less pressured, almost buoyant...  which was a mistake, because I'm not done yet!

Well, I did grind through my literature review and make a round of edits before the end of the semester,  and it didn't even require a complete all-nighter. The number of times I've found myself running on 2 or 3 hours of sleep is just way too high this year.  Last night I got 5 hours -- perhaps that explains how good I felt today.

Anyway: I do have some grading to do, but it's not due until January.  I just have this sense that things will take care of themselves, which may or may not be accurate.  I have mental lists of things to accomplish but I can't seem to settle down and get them all crossed off.  I think I need to make an actual physical list for them to start happening...

Christmas in 4 days (3 now, actually...)!!!  Really, really looking forward to vacation.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

10:48, now

The clock caught my eye at 10:47(pm).

I have to write up math notes for (at least) 2 lessons, put together a science power point, and design a bulletin board for math.  And it's nearly 11PM.  How did that happen?

Well: I stayed at work until about 4:15, mostly in a meeting and then in meeting post-mortem and organizing.  Then I picked up the kids, got home, and went out to my physical therapy session.  Then I came home and unwound for about 20 minutes and then took the kids to their piano lessons.  On the way home, we stopped and got Chik-fil-A, and we had a nice dinner together talking about different bands.  Then DD and, to a much lesser extent, I helped DS2 with his math homework, just  a little. By then it was after 9 and I settled down to work, but didn't.

You know how it is when you get on the computer.  Anyway, I checked my work email and there was a message from a parent that required crafting a very careful response, which took me forever.  And now I'm procrastinating even more by writing this blog post. (Ha!)

I did finish my paper for my "zoo class," as I call it in real life. It's good that's over, but know I have to put together the display board and think about my presentation for Saturday.  I am so looking forward to being done with that class!

Off to work now, finally, very grateful I have already done the algebra notes for the rest of this week!

closing in

About 5 minutes ago, I uploaded my final draft of the research paper for my last content course.  Our last course meeting is this upcoming Saturday, and all I have to do now to prepare is make a poster board so I can present my research.  Yes, I am doing a science fair project!  I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for this class, and it was fine.

Except the APA formatting, which makes me want to rip my hair out.  It's just so fussy. I admit, in the early days, it seemed completely arbitrary and non-intuitive, but I've been working with it for a few years now and it really isn't as arbitrary as I thought it was.  It's actually pretty consistent, and there's something nice about that.  I wish my students used it, but we are inexplicably using MLA format at school.  Still, reformatting my tables and putting appropriate captions on all my graphs (not to mention taking the titles off the graphs, they are including in the caption, so you don't put a title on the graph itself!) was tedious.  Glad it's over.

School is OK, too.  I have a huge stack of grades to put in, but I will whittle them down during the day tomorrow.  I brought them all home with me today, hoping I would get to them, but I decided to finish the paper first.  It wasn't due until Thursday but there was no point in putting it off, and now I have the sense of having a bit of a breather.  *whew*

End-of-term is rushing up to meet us.  I can't wait to be free of this feeling that I have 6 things pending at any given time.  I'll be happy if I can whittle it down to 4.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

old & new, off & on

I resolved to scale back Thanksgiving baking this year and only sort-of succeeded.  Five pies is too many for a household of 5 people, even 5 pie-loving people.  I would invariably finish off the pumpkin and pecan long after my splurge window had closed.

This year, only two pies: from scratch apple, and blueberry  But two desserts isn't enough -- this is the one day a year when I actually, you know, plan, and consequently am able to make dessert. It does pay off.  So along with the apple and blueberry pies, this year we have pecan pie bars (easier to make than another pie, and very tasty) and a pumpkin jelly-roll style cake with cream cheese filling.

Yesterday began with me oversleeping -- typical, since DH didn't have to bring the kids to school today, his alarm was not set -- and didn't improve much from there until I got home.  Various fires kept springing up at school which had to be dealt with.  The one clear take-away from the day is how great my team is.  I am seasonally appropriate and very thankful.

Even though I was officially OK to leave school at 12;30, I didn't get out of there until after 2pm -- first there my team  and I met with our admin team about an ongoing concern we all share, and then, just as I was starting to pack up, I realized that it was last day of the week!  I had been focused so much on Thanksgiving at home that I had completely ignored the fact that I would be back in school on Monday.  So I did my end-of-week planning for the following week, and then wasted about half an hour trying to print something which inexplicably would not print.  The system kept telling me that the page printed, but it was disappearing into the ether somewhere.  And since the printer is at the other end of the building, finding this out necessitated a lot of running back and forth.  I finally gave up -- I'll deal with it on Monday.

I was so frazzled by all that by the time I got home I didn't want to do anything.  DD came out with me to get a quick lunch and that helped, and then I let myself decompress for a while.  Marathon cooking (and cleaning-as-we-go) ensued from 4:30 and the two pies went into the oven at 10:30.  Various children helped with different tasks, which was awesome -- DD has completely taken over making the stuffing, which really saves me a lot of time.

Notes from this year's baking: 3 T of tapioca starch is not enough to set the blueberry filling.  Blueberry soup, again this year -- not that anyone's complaining, it really tastes good.  There is  a sweet spot between glue and soup and I have yet to find it.  We'll keep trying.   We're trying a whole turkey plus extra turkey breast this year, and it did all fit on the pans, (whew) The only other thing is to buy more than one package of  celery because I'm out and I'd like to have some for the soup stock that will go on the stove later.

With any luck everything will taste good.  It's just about time for me to go start working on the potatoes.  Other than making the gravy, that's the last significant cooking task of the day.  The other side dishes will go in the oven to warm when the turkey comes out, and we'll be good to go.  I looked up the schedule I posted here years ago to double-check when everything should happen, and I was shocked to see it was from 2006.  That was a fast ten  years!  But here we all are, and it's a beautiful day, and we are happy and thankful to be together.

Monday, November 21, 2016

There, there! It's OK...

It's a week and a half later, and the left is still throwing fits.  If anything, some of them are ratcheting up the volume, as if shouting louder can change events to suit them better.

It's embarrassing, really.

I remember when Obama won, 4 years ago, and DS1 was upset because he was worried about the direction the country would take. I was, too, but I told him: in the long run, it's not going to matter so much.  We'll get up, we'll go to work, we'll live our lives as best we can.  That's what we do.

And that's what we did, and we can see that some things really were pretty awful, but the country is still here in spite of everything, and we are still living our lives.

I understand that some on the left really do believe that Trump is the second coming of Hitler, but that's because they actually believe the press, which has been completely derelict in this election cycle.  I don't believe Hitler could run so many successful businesses in this day and age.

Anyway, I want to ask them, what kind of example are you setting for your children? You're a bunch of sore losers.  I suppose you think that you're in some sort of existential struggle for justice, but you're not.  You're just whining about an outcome  you don't like.  If you really want to change it, the next election's in 2 years, see if you can win back Congress.  Then 2 years after that, there's another presidential election.  Maybe by that time, they'll understand that the president is not the emperor of the world, and that the checks and balances written into the our constitution mean something.  The most recent President Bush and President Obama after him wielded far too much power -- the presidency should not be an imperial position.  If Trump's election means that gets scaled back a dozen or so notches, that will be a good thing.


In the meantime: caught up with my grad school work.  Am prepped for this week's teaching, still have a ton of grades to put in.  So very, very excited that this will be super short week!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

coming down

The election is over, thank God.  Really, I do.  I hope we can move away from constant demonization of "the other" in this country and go back to society in which disagreement just means you have a different opinion, not that you're evil.

So after yesterday I feel as if I can finally unwind a bit.  I have a deep, deep sense of exhaustion that will take a solid week of sleep to work out.  I'm not likely to get that any time soon.

Teaching continues apace with various little fires that spring up, demanding attention and acting like emotional vampires because they suck the enjoyment right out of the job, sometimes. I taught a 45 minute lesson today on circumference and wanted to shoot myself because the students were just not paying attention.  There are only so many ways you can say "circumference equals 2 pi R" before you feel like throwing something (a fit, mostly).

Graduate school: still haven't written about controversies in evolution and that was due last Thursday.  Oops.  But did go out on Sunday with DH and measured all my trees, so I've got my data and can crunch it to finish up my report.  I haven't looked at my to-do list Saturday at the zoo.  Only one more zoo day left!  It's so hard to believe.  I'm going to be profoundly relieved when this class is over.  I just hope I get a decent grade because I will be screwed if I don't!  (Of course it would help if I would turn my assignments in on time, but my impression is that they are cutting us slack because they know we all have real lives and full time jobs.  Right now, being a full time student sounds so appealing to me!)

On the family front, two brothers and one nephew jointly purchased my mother's house from the estate, so that should be closed out soon.  I suppose it will be nice to have it all done and settled, but it all still feels a bit weird.  It's not my house anymore, but I suppose I will get to visit it again at some point. We have no idea what we are doing this summer, except going out to Ohio for a family wedding over Memorial Day weekend.  May is going to be very busy:  I graduate (God willing) on May 13 (booked the hotel rooms already!), then DD graduates two weeks later, and we head out to Ohio pretty much immediately.

Then after that, life will be delightfully boring, because it will be summer and I will not be taking any classes or having to do extra planning or anything.  I think.  I hope!  Perhaps I could... read a book, just for fun? What a delightful idea.

Oh, yeah, I volunteered to teach a STEM elective next semester to give the schedule more flexibility so I could get algebra in their own class room.  So I'll be teaching six different classes with six different preps.

I am officially insane.... but I think it will be fun, and I'm going to be a very good girl over winter break and do as much planning as I can.

Even with all that, I have a sense of things getting better.  One thing that is definitely better is my back, because I finally figured out which particular bad posture was causing my horrible pain, and I've been relatively back pain-free for the last 5 days now.  That's something of a miracle in and of itself.

Friday, October 28, 2016

almost there

I saw my endocrinologist yesterday (well, Wednesday) and got my tumor marker results: stable, or perhaps a tiny uptick (?) to 3.5.  I'll take it, especially with the clean scan.

I discussed with her the possibility of not having a whole body scan every year, and she agreed I don't have to have one next year: Hallelujah!  I will still get Thyrogen but just the two shots and then bloodwork.

That was the good news.  Regarding my pituitary adenoma, she would like me to have another MRI.  *sigh*  I really, really hate MRIs.  It's the noise, I just feel like I'm under attack.  And of course you can't have an "open" MRI of your brain.  We'll see when that gets scheduled.  My ultrasound and follow up with Dr. S are coming up on Monday, and I was hoping that would be the end of this round of testing.

Also: diagnostic mammogram last week since the girls are painful and quite different sizes now.  No indications of anything cancer-related there, so that was good -- just a colossal waste of time doing an ultrasound even though the x-rays were perfectly normal.  That was a completely unnecessary manufactured stress.  They could have just said, your x-rays look fine, but we want to do the ultrasound anyway because of your family history, and that would have helped a lot.  But at least I don't have to do that for another year.

P/T for back and neck are slowly starting to make a difference.  I just have to build muscles again, I let everything fall to pieces last spring when I had that persistent pelvic pain.  I am looking forward to finishing up that treatment and getting back those 3-4 hours each week.  On the other hand, those hours are high-quality "me time" and I'm glad I have them!

School and grad school are holding steady so far.  So glad to be at my new school! I love my team and my students and am finally in a groove, it seems.  I did just tell my thesis adviser that I feel like all heck could break loose at any moment, and I do.  I'm just not going to worry about that until it actually happens.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

good intentions

After dinner, I'm working, and I think, I'll stop at 10, do my puttering around, and get to bed at a decent hour.

What happens is this: I fall asleep before ten, wake up sometime after 11, and suddenly the necessity of going to bed at a decent hour just doesn't exist anymore.   That explains why it's nearly 2AM and I'm still up.

Hey, here's a photo of a leaf I took in Falmouth before we left:

Oak leaves don't usually get this red. 

I love how the hydrangeas morph to purple in the fall.

Friday, October 14, 2016

there & back

Went to Massachusetts, had a splendid time, did lots of work, lots of driving, lots of eating!  Not much sleep, though.

Now I'm confronting a huge amount of stuff to do, and realizing the only way I can do this is if I put myself on a strict schedule.  I'm working on it.

I have a million appointments coming up.  Not particularly happy about any of them.  We'll see how it goes.

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...

Thursday, August 04, 2016


How did that happen?

I have no idea where all that time went.   I certainly don't feel any older.

Today I started back to work, my pre-service days for the new school I'm helping open.   I'm starting to think I'm crazy: I'm teaching 5 subjects and I'm team lead.  On the other hand, I'll have roughly 55 students total, and that will surely help with the grading and give me time to prep all those classes.  Two aren't completely new, they're just different versions of the same material (that would be the science classes) and three are new to me, but the content is beautifully laid out for me already (that would be the math classes).

I'm up late because I finally started to hammer out my final project for my History of Science class, and I have a solid outline and a believable activity to present tomorrow in class.  I may even have time to write it up before the end of the evening.  We'll be having surf & turf at home with desserts from our favorite, Euro Cafe.  (I don't have time to bake this year, and that's OK.)

Bad news today: the PT referral I got from my urologist will not work at all for me, they are too far away and their hours are too restrictive.  I called the office to see if they could recommend anyone else.  In the meantime, I'm trying to ease back into some sort of exercise routine.  Part of me thinks if I just start doing squats and stretches again I'll be OK.  For the most part, I am.  I felt weirdly dizzy this afternoon for a little while, but it didn't last too long and hasn't returned.  The pelvic pain comes and goes but stretching does seem to help with the radiating pain, so that's good.

We'll see how it goes.

Friday, July 29, 2016

not cancer!

Of course this is great news.  I spent the last 2 weeks trying not to spin myself up into a frantic mess over this and did a pretty good job.  It helped that yesterday the kids and I went to an early matinee of Star Trek Beyond and then out for a nice lunch at Nico Heirloom Kitchen, the new restaurant in Gilbert's downtown area.  But I was still pretty nervous about this one.

The diagnosis itself surprised me, because I don't think it ever came up in any of the symptom checkers: interstitial cystitis.  I had always thought symptoms associated with IC were like those of a urinary tract infection, and that's not what's going on with me at all.   The doctor said this is usually a diagnosis of exclusion, what you get stuck with when all the tests come back negative and you're still in pain.  However, in my case, my bladder actually demonstrated the hallmark "weepy" behavior when she hyper-inflated it while I was under anesthesia, so this is not one of those "we don't know what else to say, so we'll say this," situations.

Treatment, for now, is physical therapy, just once a week for six weeks to try and strengthen my pelvic floor muscles (which are operating well from my perspective, but once again, I don't know what I don't know here.)  I've had great results with physical therapy in the past, so I'm hopeful.

Thursday, July 28, 2016


Yes, I know the title is redundant.

I'm up now because I had a little nap, and I had a little nap because I was exhausted.  I've worked the last 3 days at my old school, even though my new school in-service doesn't start until next week.

The junior high has grown so much at my old school that they have hired more teachers, and the person they hired to teach the overflow math and science classes bailed just days before school started.  Since I will be teaching those subjects at my new school, I offered to help out.  A new teacher was hired almost immediately, and she started on Monday, but there was so much district-specific orientation to go through that the administration had me come in and teach her classes Monday through Wednesday.

This was cool for a number of reasons, the first being it was really nice to see everyone again.  It really is a great team there, and the new people they've brought on board fit right in and have the right spirit.  Since I will be team lead at the new school, it was good to get a preview of what to expect in terms of new requirements from the administration, etc, too.

It was especially cool to get some practice in teaching math.  I haven't done it before, but compared to teaching science, it's a pip: every class has the same format.  I don't have to go scrounging around the web looking for content or songs or labs, I just deliver the curriculum.  I can see how it could get boring, but I'm surprised by how much I'm looking forward to it.  It was really good to be able to practice with my old colleague right there across the hall to pester whenever I had a question.  She was very patient with me, and I really appreciated that.

Of course I am thoroughly exhausted now, and the only reason I'm up is the aforementioned nap.  I wasn't bothered by pains while at school, mostly because I was too busy, but by the time I got home in the afternoon I felt horrible.  I'm still bleeding a tiny bit, too, but not as much, and the bladder pain has almost completely subsided.  I'm glad to have had the distraction these past three days.  Now I just have to keep busy until my appointment on Friday when I find out (I hope!) what's going on with me.  I think it's ridiculous, having to wait two whole weeks for the results, but not everyone can give one-day turn-around the way they do at M. D. Anderson.  (Some part of me believes I'll be back there soon for treatment, but the rest of me is just carrying on as if that's ridiculous.  It's not quite ridiculous, or even really unlikely, but I like to think it is.)

I have that good sense of exhaustion that comes from having done good work.  Tomorrow I start (again) my last week of vacation, and I have to make calls to arrange my last content class, plus I have plans with the kids.  This is a good way to end the summer.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Flagstaff wildflowers

DD and I took off yesterday afternoon for an overnight in Flagstaff.   My Thursday class had been rescheduled, so I had the evening off, and we hiked the trail behind Little America.  It was peak wildflower season, with tiny but mighty flowers everywhere.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

in-between time

I'm much more comfortable after removing the catheter on Monday.  Somewhere I have a little diatribe to deliver about that, concerning such things as taping it to my right leg, which would have made driving very uncomfortable if I'd had to do it, and taping it rather tightly, so that it was difficult for me to really pick that leg up to do anything, like, say, go upstairs.  I survived.  Now I'm just sore and my gastroparesis is back and I'm hoping that goes away soon.

I still have ten more days before I find out if anything good (or actionable) came from this process.  The only information I have is that the weird area was much more vascular than the doctor expected.  That, of course, freaks me out, because cancer cells build their own blood supply.  But there were no abnormal cells before, so I'm holding on to that, for now.

I had a break from my usual pains because I was on round-the-clock ibuprofen just so I could sit down or lay down while I had the catheter.  I'm off it now and see that the crab is still in residence, so whatever has been going on is still going on.

My school email is picking up with all sorts of start-of-the-year information, because some of our schools started pre-service today.  I don't have to go back until August 3, and that's good, because I need to get my act in gear and get my lesson plans done as much as possible -- at least spend an hour or so just changing the dates, etc.  Tomorrow afternoon I'm going back to my old school to meet the math teacher and get some help from her -- this is going to be a trip.  Right now I'm feeling like I'm going to enjoy teaching math more than science, because the science curriculum is being re-written in a way that's just a huge lost opportunity.  I'm not letting myself get involved.

I'm staying away from watching the politics and only reading a little.  I just can't go there this time.

Tomorrow: do my History of Science mid-term in the morning, visit school in the afternoon.  That class is coming to an end quickly, and I'm going to have to put together a final project for that, too.   I sense the walls closing in, so to speak: soon I'll have way too much to do, and not enough time to do it in.


Friday, July 15, 2016


Home, post-op, with a catheter for the next 3 days.  It could be worse.

Well, here's what's worse: I won't find out anything for 2 weeks. *sigh*

Thursday, July 14, 2016

vaguely discontented

I have been increasingly down this week, but I'm hoping this is my last day of feeling "off."  My surgical biopsy is tomorrow, and once that's done, I can relax, focus, and prepare for the new school year.  I hope.

My vision field test and other assorted eye tests were all fine today, good news that I just shrugged off at the time.  But it really is good news.  How many people my age need only lowest-power reading glasses ("cheaters") to be able to read easily?  I can read without them, it just takes longer.

Drinking lots so I won't be too dehydrated tomorrow.  Here's hoping.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Posted yesterday that I wasn't fatigued.  Crashed at 9pm, slept past 9am, feel like I've been hit by a truck and could sleep for a week.  What did I do yesterday? It was a busy-driving day but not physically demanding.  I don't get this at all.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

med stuff

Our flight home Saturday was uneventful.  The timing was such that we were able to drop off the rental car, attend mass at the airport chapel, and then have dinner at Legal Seafood before we boarded.  It was nice to have that one last New England meal before we left, but I was more than ready to come home.

Now that we are back, we're in that whirlwind of appointments and other random things that need to get done.  I am luxuriating in having so much time at home, but I'm already fighting the tendency to just sit around reading.  It seems foolish to complain about the heat, but it would be stupid to plan outdoor activities when it's 108 degrees out there.

The crab, the pelvic/lower back pain that has been my constant companion since the end of March, is much the same.  This morning I saw my GP to be cleared for surgery on Friday.  Yesterday I spent an hour just getting the paperwork from my urologist's office; it took that long to get the insurance information.  I just started a new plan year on July 1, but I think I will have met my deductible by the end of this week!  I am very lucky that we can afford for me to have all these health issues.

That paperwork included a release form which was basically terrifying.  On the upside, I don't have any of the symptoms of bladder cancer like blood in my urine, and the cytology didn't find any abnormal cells there, either.  I'm also not having fatigue, or problems with my digestion, either.  So I don't have any of the usual symptoms of really bad things, except I still have this pain.  My urologist was skeptical that what she saw in my bladder could be causing the pain I'm having, but she's going to check everything out while under anesthesia on Friday.  My biggest hope is that she can figure out what's going on.

I have been going a little crazy chasing rabbits on the internet.  There are only so many ways I can put my symptoms into the different symptom-checkers, and they all say the same things, except for the Isabella, which brings up scary things like abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is something that nearly killed my father.  But if I had that, it would have shown up on the CT scan, I think, although the lack of contrast limited what they could visualize. Other research topics: bladder wall irregularities, bladder cancer, urethral dilation, the correlation of RAI treatments and additional cancers.  All this since we've been home, and it's only Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, my vision field test will by Thursday morning, and I'm wondering how that will go.  I've had 3 significant nose bleeds in the past month.  I had that weird occurrence last fall, but usually I never get them.  My guess is they are related to dry environments or dehydration, but that doesn't seem to fit the circumstances.

I have been really strict with myself about avoiding wheat, and it is paying off in better digestion and minimal joint pain.  If I drive for any great length of time, my hands are swollen the next morning, and I wonder if that means I really do have something going on, arthritis-wise.  But as long as I stay away from wheat, I don't wake up feeling like I've been hit but a truck, and that's a win. Trying to stay focused on the positive.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

not exactly as planned, but...

Heublein Tower on Talcott Mountain

We hiked up Talcott Mountain on Monday and I still haven't recovered.  The hike up was lovely, as were the views from the top of the tower, as always on such a clear day.  Then we went a bit crazy buying stuff at their little gift shop, and DS2 headed back on his own because he was restless with us.  DH, DD and I decided to follow the blue trail down, which DD and I had done last year.  It's a side trail that's a bit more rugged and much quieter.   It was a nice hike down, except...

The blue and yellow trails only converge at the top, near the tower, and they pretty sharply diverge near about three-quarters of the way down the mountain.  Last year, somehow or other we found ourselves back on the yellow trail near the base, probably at the point where the Metacomet Trail turns sharply east.  We ended up on the road by the park entrance and then followed it back to the tower trail, where DS2 had been waiting patiently... for an hour.

Overall it was a lovely day, but that last hour was difficult.  Gnats kept flying into my eyes in a way that really disturbed me.  I don't recall that ever happening so many times before.  It was creepy.  Also, in that last hour, my ibuprofen wore off and I hadn't thought to bring any with me, since I didn't think we'd be gone that long.  Of course the crab woke up and has basically been tormenting me ever since.  I've been up early the past two days not because I don't want to sleep any more, but because my ibuprofen has worn off and the pain wakes me up.

DH has taken the kids tubing on the Farmington River, but I declined because I don't want to sit in an inner tube for 2 hours, even if it's just nicely floating down the river most of the time.  Having to be stuck somewhere for 2 hours any where does not sound fun to me right now.  I have homework to do for my history of science class, which I will do when I finish this post.  I'm finished with my philosophy of biology class, having written a nearly-five page reflection on the need, value, and importance of philosophical considerations of biology.  I wasn't thrilled with the paper but at least it is done, and now I only have one class to manage, and this one will be over in a month's time, too.

I'm glad I went on the hike, even if all that unaccustomed exertion is what put me in my current sorry state, where even with the ibuprofen I still have considerable pain.  We'll be home Saturday, and I have appointments already lined up to pursue a diagnosis.   In the meantime, it's lovely to be here where it's so green.
DD at the top of  Talcott Mtn

Gorgeous 4th of July Sunset at Bloom Hill Farm

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

in which I feel sad

Mom's roses, flourishing.
After dinner this evening, I went with DH and DD to get ice cream (well, sorbet for me), and the sadness sneaked up on me. I am not just an orphan, now I'm homeless, too. (The latter is manifestly absurd, as my daughter reminded me, "But you have a husband, three children, a house, and a job." But I don't have the house I grew up in, anymore.)

We had a lovely ten days on the Cape, with absolutely beautiful weather and great times with the  extended family.  I probably ate more lobster in the last week than I've eaten in my entire life, but that's not something to complain about. (Lobster eggs Benedict is a brilliant idea, and hollandaise sauce is so easy and delicious, who could resist?)  
Last Saturday, my nephew married his sweetheart in a lovely ceremony, followed by a delightful reception.  DH indulged me tremendously by dancing with me for most of the time that dancing was happening.  DD wondered how much I'd had to drink because I seemed, she said, "very happy."  I was happy.  It was wonderful to be with my family for such a positive reason.  It was delightful to see how the little ones are growing up.  And it was really fun to dance, and for whatever reason, the crab slept through the whole thing, so I didn't even think about having pain. 

My brother and his family didn't come back to the house after the wedding, since they flew back to Louisiana early Sunday morning.  I confess when I woke up Sunday, my first thought was, Why are we still here? It's over. 

But it wasn't, of course.  DH had only been in since Thursday, and there were things we could still do, like go out for dinner at our favorite French restaurant, bike the Shining Sea path to Woods Hole, and of course,  put the house back in order so we could leave.  I actually did lose count of how many loads of laundry I did, since there many towels and sheets as well as all our clothes.  

Plus dusting and vacuuming and cleaning out the refrigerators and getting all the trash and recycling out for pickup, and feeling weird about not having done any yard work.  Then packing all our stuff and the stuff that had been Mom's that the kids wanted, and somehow fitting  all that in the trunk of the rental car. 

One last lunch at the best local burger joint, and then it was off to Boston to drop DS1 at the airport (he's road-tripping to California with his friends) and then on to Connecticut.  I almost cried driving over the canal. We're never going back.  

I understand that it's not a bad thing, it's not wrong that this is happening.  This is the way things are.  I imagine millions of people experience this exact thing ever year.  Parents die, houses are sold, lives move on.  So it goes, but it hurts. 

When I was just out of college, I got a copy of The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh  (long story, not worth the telling).   I had loved hearing the stories when I was little, and I still love the original Disney cartoons, but I had somehow forgotten the last story, when Christopher Robin comes to Pooh to tell him he's going off to school and won't be able to play with him in the Hundred Acre woods every day.  It broke my heart when I read it, in my early twenties, before I'd had any children.  Even then I was overcome with nostalgia and a keen awareness of the inevitable loss that the passage of time imposes on all of us.  

I get pangs of that same nostalgia when I see DD's beat up old teddy bear in her room, still perched near her beanbag chair.  Like Christopher Robin, she will always have her Tety to remind her of those times, even if she can never go back to the days of Tety and his friends and the adventures she and her brothers had together.  I have a few things from my mother's house, but it's not the same.  Even though I have a home with my husband and children that I love, Mom's house never stopped being home, until today.  The Hundred Acre woods are closed.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

enduring question

Why is it that, when I'm struggling to keep my eyes open and therefore go brush my teeth and all the rest of the get-ready-for-bed routine, when I finally get in bed I'm wide awake?

So annoying.

I've been supremely unproductive since passing the test on Monday.  Mainly I've chauffeured various people to various places.  I did buy us tickets to see Book of Mormon next May, and I made pastitsio for the first time ever over the past two days (delicious, worth the effort.)   I've also wasted (I had originally typed "spent," but that's not right) a lot of time on the internet, and I tried to clean the cloudiness off our stemless wine glasses with no luck (so far.)

That pain is still there, ranging from something I can ignore to something that really bothers me.  Still have no idea what it is, but today I tried out some yoga poses that are supposed to help menstrual cramps (that's the closest analogy I can think of) and they didn't help.  I took some Tylenol and it helped a little, but that's not going to be an every day thing if I'm having wine with dinner.

Two more days before heading East -- I have cleaning and packing to do, and plenty of time to do it in, if I just do it.  Between the pain and not sleeping well, I'm in a severe energy deficit.  And honestly, I'm still recovering from the stress and over-work leading up to the math test.

Since I'm awake, I'm off to do some homework.  With any luck my brain will reject that idea as foolish and get sleepy again.

Monday, June 13, 2016


I am thoroughly exhausted.  It's only 6:41pm and I feel as if it's 2 in the morning. That's what happens when you have hours and hours of intense mental work when you're not used to it, like spending four and a half hours on a math test, and then almost immediately spending three hours in a deep philosophical discussion.

Today's schedule: my middle grades math certification test, followed by Philosophy of Biology.

I passed the test handily, scoring a 270 with 220 necessary to pass, so I would love to celebrate, but I'm too tired to do anything.

I'm looking forward to having my math study time back to work on my non-thesis project!

Friday, June 10, 2016

slightly uncomfortable, vaguely nauseated

I just had my first cystocopy, a charming procedure in which the doctor images the interior of the urethra and bladder by using a little laproscopic device.

It was exactly painful, just weird, but now that it's over, peeing has not been fun, but I expect I'll get over that by the end of the day.

The good news is that it is not prolapse, because correcting or treating prolapse is difficult and requires surgery.  My pelvic exam was fine, especially because the exam didn't actually cause me any pain -- right now the pain is up higher.

The bad news is that there is a spot of weirdness on the interior of my bladder. *sigh* The doctor was very nice and encouraging.  She wants to biopsy it, and she  suggested that we do that under sedation, so it will be a surgical biopsy.  She said it could be infection in the bladder wall, or it could be pre-cancer.   Then she said, "It's not pre-cancer," by way of telling me not to worry too much. She also said I would probably need further imaging studies, depending on what is going on with the bladder.   I am OK with this, but now we're kind of running into the window for my RAI scan, so coordinating this is going to be interesting.

DS1 played chauffeur and picked me up after, and I was glad I didn't have to drive because I felt surprisingly gross (see post title).  So that's it for now.  We'll see how it goes.

Friday, June 03, 2016

three's the charm?

I have the sense of making progress.

I had the CT scan Tuesday, got the (unremarkable) results -- except for "mild bladder wall thickening" -- yesterday, along with a referral to a urologist, yesterday.  Saw the urologist today, a new specialist for me, and the third doctor I've seen to try and get some relief from this pain that is just not going away.  I liked her very much, perhaps because she listened to what I had to say about this situation and said, "I think I can help you with your pain."  I hope she's right.  I have another test scheduled for next Friday (cystocopy) and we'll go from there. One new idea is prolapse, since I had it before. The doctor mentioned that a prolapse surgery involving only my own tissue (no artificial supports) that lasted more than 10 years was actually an unusually good outcome.

So, there's that.  The other great news: I got my nice bonus!  You could knock me over with a feather.  I did not realize that they didn't just look at the raw data from the state, they actually calculated a percentage based on the "gen ed" students only, and they did brilliantly (94% "met" or "exceeded"!)

Today I also participated in the final call-in for the class I took last summer, which was sad for me because I didn't implement anything the way I wanted to, because last year was basically one body blow after another.  There were tech glitches but I still got to contribute to the discussion, so I feel better about that.

What else? Finally cleared out some stuff that needed to go to the recycling center.  It's remarkable how much space two office/desk chairs take up, and also remarkable how much dead technology we had kicking around.  I love getting rid of stuff.  After that, DD and I drove up to Phoenix and got her senior blazer, which is going to need substantial tailoring.  Now I just have to get DS2 a new suit for the upcoming wedding...

I briefly got my hopes up about deferring the big math test until August, when a new AEPA test will be available for certifying grades 6-12 on middle school math and "foundational" math for high school. No luck -- gotta do the m.s. one, currently scheduled for the 13th.  I did not pass the practice test when I took it on Monday, but I probably would have if I had 1) been in a more serious environment, not sitting on the couch while the kids had the television on and 2) used a scientific calculator instead of my phone.  Also, there was the whole rushing through it thing -- there were 120 questions and I had 144 minutes.  Of course I didn't finish properly, but on the real test I'll have 4 hours and 15 minutes, which is 255 minutes!  That's very reasonable.  So: more math over the next 10 days, particularly functions and (gulp) calculus. [One delightful realization: I have good instincts for a lot of this material, and I actually like it.  I think teaching math is going to be more fun than I thought!]

Summer school for me and the two younger offspring starts Monday!  I have to budget my time wisely so I get all my reading and writing done.  The time is going to fly by.

Monday, May 30, 2016

shhh, don't wake the crab

Today my only accomplishments were finding the cat and completing several puzzles in the Monkey level of the highly addicting WordBrain game. Finding the cat took much, much longer.

I slept in very late, and when I finally got up, DH asked if I'd seen Alice, our deaf tortie.  Whole house search ensues.  Even more thorough whole-house search continues.  Flashlights deployed to look in the darkest corners of closets and shelves on cupboards (she has been known to sneak into an open cupboard and curl up in there.)

No luck.  DH went out to look for her in the neighborhood, and I made up flyers to post and hand out to the neighbors.  Ringing doorbells, I was very sorry to interrupt my neighbors' Memorial Day weekend, but everyone I spoke to was very friendly and kind.  A neighbor two doors down said she had seen Alice outside on Friday. Friday!  How could she have been out since then? I felt terrible to think she had been outside all this time!  It is very hot now, too.   Another neighbor two more houses over had seen her last night, when her dog saw her out front and went crazy, barking.  Of course Alice was oblivious because she is deaf!  But it was a relief knowing she was OK last night.

When I ran out of flyers, I came in to think about what to do next.  DD and I decided to take the car out to put up some flyers a little farther out in the neighborhood, so I printed some more.  An older gentleman was very reassuring, "Your cat is within 50 yards of your house.  She may be in someone's garage, but believe me, they never go far."  He told me stories of his cats that were gone for up to 12 days... living in a neighbor's garage! That was encouraging.  About three minutes after that, we turned up another street and I noticed one yard had their sprinklers on, and water was running down onto the sidewalk.  It was late afternoon, about 5PM, by this time, and most people don't water their lawns at that time around here.  I noticed the water first, but then I noticed there was something under one of the cars in the driveway.   We pulled over and I ran over to the car, and there she was, stretched out.  I panicked for a moment but then I could see she was breathing.

I called her, but of course, no response, and I couldn't reach her from the back of the car.  From the side I could just reach her hind paws, so I snagged them and pulled her towards me.  Of course this woke her up and she was very irritated to be dragged from the shade of the car, but I didn't care.  I held her very close and DD drove us the approximately 25 yards home.

DD and then spent another half-hour or so taking down all the flyers I had put up, and retrieving any that were still in neighbors' doors.  I was very thorough in plastering the neighborhood, but I've never minded using up paper and ink so little.  It was worth it to have her back.

I did some math yesterday morning, but then spent the afternoon antiquing with DD, which was lovely, except for the pain.  I've had it for so long now that I've named it the crab, because it feels like something take chunks of me, pulling and pinching.   Sometimes I feel fine, especially if I can stay off my feet, but walking around for hours yesterday and today was challenging at times. Mostly it's mid-range on a pain scale, which means if I get involved in something, I can forget about it, but then other times, I can't ignore.  I have a CAT scan scheduled for Tuesday, and I would really like to know what is going on.  For now, though, I think, go to sleep, little crab, leave me alone!

Alice needs brushing.  I'm off.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

this is vacation?


On my first day off I took a look at the study guide for the math test I was supposed to take today and realized I wasn't ready to take it, so I postponed it till next Thursday.  I spent a few hours on the diagnostics and realized I really need to review and study. I haven't had geometry in over 30 years!  That's a long time.  At the same time, I realized the study guide is just that, a guide, and it doesn't have the actual content  I need.  It took me a while but I came around to the idea of just stopping by the school and picking up some student textbook CDs, which I did yesterday.  They are installed and everything, but I haven't "mathed" much since I installed them, because:

I started the day bright and early with a dentist appointment (8am!) followed by an appointment with my endocrinologist.  All clear on the dental front, and the endo noted my weight loss and had my labs and everything's good except my T4 is a little high but she feels that it's not too bad and she's leaving my meds alone for now.  Unbelievably, we're starting the approval process for my Thyrogen trial in October already.  After that I went over to the school and picked up my stepladder which I had left behind and got the math CDs, too.  Then I had to get home to pick up DS1 for his dentist appointment -- it was too cruel to make him get up early, and there was no reason to drag him to my endo appointment. 

After I picked up the younger two kids from school (this is their last week), DS1 asked if I could him clean his room - friends are coming over later this week.  You have to understand, the entire contents of his dorm room were piled into a corner of his room in front of his closet.  Somewhere between 3 and 4 hours later, his room is quite livable.  I always say, start with throwing away the trash, which helped.  Then we went through all his drawers and his closet and made piles of things to donate and things to just throw away.  The donate pile was huge.  I introduced him to the joys of Swiffer dusters and even vacuumed.  I believe the last time his room was this clean was before his sophomore year of high school when I painted his room while he was in debate camp.  It was very satisfying work, but exhausting.

Somewhere in there, the gyn's office called back and left these results for me: "The results of your urine culture were negative.  Your PAP smear was also negative.  There were no cysts on your ovaries.  If you are still having pain, see your PCP."   This message was infuriating for so many reasons.  One, they had already told me the results of the urine culture.  Second, they did not do a PAP smear, I don't even have anything to test!  Ridiculous.  Third, fine, ok, no cysts on the ovaries, did they even bother to look to see if there was anything else that could be causing my symptoms? It was a 30-second ultrasound.  I am so done with that practice!  Fortunately, I called my PCP and I got an appointment for this morning, which explains why I haven't mathed much.

My appointment was at 9:30 but I knew the car was already loaded up with DS1's stuff-to-be-donated, so I got up early and went through my own closet, and the linen closet, and added even more stuff.  I am moderately embarrassed to admit that there were still crib sheets in my linen closet.  (DS2 is 15 years old, it has been quite a while since I had a crib in the house!) Anyway, now DS1 has plenty of room, the linen closet is in much better shape, and my closet is a bit better, too.  So I loaded up all that stuff, and then headed out.  

My doctor is, bless him, a great listener, and he was amazingly professional in not slagging on my gyn for being a slacker.  He did a thorough exam and suggested a couple of possibilities, including spinal/nerve stuff, or scar tissue.  He sent me for an x-ray of my lower spine (quick, cheap, easy) just to see if anything obvious comes up there, and is getting authorization for a CT scan.

Perversely, I would be relieved if it's nerve-related, but it really feels as if there's something in there, and I have a hard time getting away from that feeling.

Anyway, dropped off the donations, got my x-ray, picked up the kids, got them lunch, and then took DS2 and myself to the dermatologist.  His acne is back so he'll be starting up treatment, and I needed a spot check - all clear. *whew*

Back home, managed to have a great conversation with my sister about all this medical stuff, and then it was dinner and then I didn't feel like working, so I didn't.   I have a little over a week to get my act together.  I think tomorrow will be easier because I don't have any appointments in the morning so I can work while the kids are at school.  I haven't been a complete slug, though, because I'm making great progress on one of the books for my history of science class, a biography of Alexander Humboldt which is really great.

I set myself back a bit by looking over my end-of-the-year paperwork from school and figuring out that the odds of reaching 'highly effective' are very slim (at least 90% of my students would have to meet or exceed on the AIMS test, and the highest I've ever had was 85%.)  I pretty peeved about that, since it is essentially halving my (potential) bonus, and sentencing me to another year of additional administrative oversight.  I'm wondering if it's worth saying anything, since I'm only missing this because of 2 lousy points on my last formal evaluation.  Every time I think about it, I get annoyed, because there are so many teachers who just come in and punch the clock in and then out and they're done, and they get the highly effective tag.  I'm feeling as if I will never be a success in my district, and it's not a good feeling, especially when I'm doing this whole teaching math thing literally for them.  Why?  Mainly because I made the commitment. There's also the fact that I don't have another job lined up. 

Pain was bad on and off today.  I would really like it to resolve itself and then I wouldn't have to have so many doctor's appointments.Things I know it's not: a urinary tract or bladder infection, pelvic inflammatory disease, kidney stones, anything digestion related.  My labs were stellar, and any or all of those would have shown up somehow.  Here's hoping we'll find out what it is, and that it won't be terrible. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

the headlong rush to the end of the year

Tomorrow is my students' field trip, just a fun day for them, really, but it's totally boring for us teachers since we literally have to stand around and watch them.  I am tempted to bring a book but it's simply not done.

Tomorrow night, eighth grade promotion ceremony, then Thursday is my last day at my current campus.  I will be going to the new, closer campus next "fall" - school starts for us in mid-August, to give time for the construction to finish, so I have a somewhat "late" start.

This end-of-year stuff is exhausting me, though.  I've arranged labs and activities for my students that involve buying stuff, setting it up, and then cleaning up after -- and since I only have one sink in my classroom, that means I'm stuck with nearly all of the cleanup tasks. It's a lot of work, but the students seem to appreciate it (some even actually say thank you), and, you know, it's my job, it's what I do.

Lately what I do is worry about what's going on with me.  I've had the pain and fullness that usually accompany an ovarian cyst since the end of March.   Usually it resolves itself in 4 or 5 or sometimes 6 weeks, but whatever this is, it's hanging on.  I finally called my gynecologist a week and a half ago, only to find out that he has closed his private practice and joined a large group practice, which I hate.

I know I hate it because I saw him there last Tuesday, where he did the most cursory of exams and declared that I probably have diverticulitis, even though my digestion is pretty much perfect (for me). He did order an ultrasound, and because this is a large practice and they do everything in house, I had to wait until today to get it.  It took all of two minutes, since the only thing the tech imaged was the ovaries, and she said they looked fine.  I certainly didn't see any cysts so I'm confused.  What could make me feel like there's a cyst when there isn't?

Well, duh: ovarian cancer.  When I run what I'm feeling through various symptom checkers, it comes up near the top of the list. I didn't notice anything weird about the ultrasound though, so if there is cancer it's not exactly obvious.  That is one of the known problems with ovarian cancer, it's not obvious.  It's not a bladder infection or UTI because the urine culture came back negative.  I'd be surprised if it's PID...

With any luck results will be back by the end of the week, and I'll have some indication of what the next steps are.  This doesn't seem to be going away and it's annoying and painful and makes the lower part of my stomach stick out and I can't even suck in my gut anymore.

In the meantime, I've started reading the texts for my two classes, when I really should be studying for the Math AEPA I'm taking next Tuesday!  I admit I'm somewhat terrified about teaching math (along with science) next year, but I figure I can handle it, with help.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

mother's day

These past few weeks have been rough.  Every time I turned on the television there was some ad or program referring to Mother's Day to remind me of my own dear mother's absence. I finally just gave up and would only watch streaming videos so I wouldn't have to deal with it.  

I'm still angry about this whole situation, even though that doesn't make sense.  I go through relatively long periods where I'm fine (because I'm not thinking about it), but then I'm not.  I'm just sort of... empty, missing something that can't be replaced.  I suppose I will get used to it.  I'm kind of used to it already in some ways, but not in others...

My day today involved a nice brunch, all going out to a movie together, and a nice dinner in the evening.  Brunch was later than I expected because I underestimated how long it would take to make both blueberry cake (for the family) and lemon muffins (gluten- and sugar-free for me), but in the end it was all quite delicious.  

The movie was Captain America:Civil War, which involved less silliness and stupidity than I expected, and thus was thoroughly enjoyable.  I think the thing I liked best was the care the writers took to show that the characters are actual people, with real feelings.  It was well done, and everyone enjoyed it.

Dinner was surf & turf, I prepped and DH grilled.  We ate outside, and afterwards the two older children and I stayed outside for quite a while just talking and being together, and that made today completely perfect.

There were other things, of course: I talked to both my sisters, and texts went back and forth among all my siblings.  Somehow all the laundry got done.  I thought about grading some tests but that didn't happen... no big deal, I'll have time to do it this week since I have my prep hour back. (All of the younger grades have now visited junior high science.)  I was fairly successful most of the day in not thinking about whatever is going on with (what I think is) my ovarian cyst -- will just have to wait until Tuesday to find out.  I'm glad I was able to not-think about that for a good part of the day.

Perhaps some won't believe me when I say I don't need anything, but I know there will come a time when my children will not be able to spend (most of) a day with me, and so I'm appreciating it while I can. Time is the most precious thing we have, and being with my family is the best thing in the entire world.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

work now, play later

We had a couple of slow weeks at school, with the students were in standardized testing, when we weren't allowed to give homework or tests or quizzes.  My eighth graders had targeted review work, which basically amounted to a participation grade.  But I assigned a cool in-class project to my seventh graders, which had multiple parts and really let them be creative while still demonstrating that they had learned something.  Those things were due a while ago, as were my eighth graders' physics workbooks (that sort came before and after the standardized testing.)

For some reason, I just got out of the habit of attacking the grading asap, and I just let them sit around too long, which ended with my having to really power through huge stacks of stuff in order to be ready for this week's progress reports.  I have to stop scheduling project and lab due dates within a day or two of quizzes and tests, because then I'm just buried in grading and it takes me a while to dig out.

The trick, of course, is not to get behind, so today I graded all the reviews & quizzes, and put them all in the grade book, so I won't have to think about them again.  It seems rather stupid and obvious to be writing about this ("Do the work.  It's not complicated.") but I keep putting myself into this same jam, at least this year, when I seem to fall into a funk and don't do anything after school.

My life is really not set up to do nothing after school.  If I don't work then, I won't get done what needs to get done!

My students are still bouncing off the walls, and I'm spending way too much time taking their "points" away and emailing their parents about it.  Still, I have to be strong about this now or it's only going to get worse.  It's not for too much longer now, anyway!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

T. S. Eliot was right

April really is the cruelest month.

Nature-wise, everything is blooming and beautiful and the weather is mild and delightful, so my complaint is not with the unfulfilled promise of the season seen in more northerly, harsher climates.

No, April is just the cruelest month for teachers and probably for students, too, who have to deal with standardized testing that throws everyone off for at least a few weeks.  Then, after the extended hiatus, we're exhorted to jump right back into curriculum and "finish strong."

The students have checked out!  They think they're done for the year when we have six weeks left.  I have enough experience with this to know that this happens every year, and that this first post-testing week is crucial in re-establishing procedures and expectations for behavior and productivity.  If I let anything slide now, by the end of the year my classroom will be a madhouse.

We're all loading up the students with work and assessments, and they're resisting, for now.  With any luck, if we keep the pressure on, we'll be back to normal by next week, or the week after... soon May will be here, and the last day of school will be on us before we know it.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

a bit on the nose

I had a dream last night that I was a passenger in a car.  My mother was driving (this surprised me, even in the dream; Mom hasn't driven much since 2010) and my two sisters were in the back, and we were talking about a meal we'd just had together.  Mom was talking about the dessert, I think, but I couldn't tell because suddenly her words weren't actual words, even though her tone and inflection were still normal.  In the dream, I realize that she's having another attack of aphasia and realize she needs help. I ask her to pull over, and the car slowly drifts to the shoulder, but keeps moving.  Becoming more distressed, I ask her to put the car in park, to change the gear -- but looking over, there's now  no one  in the driver's seat, so I grab the gear lever on the steering column and force it up, and the car stops.  I look in the back and see Mom's now back there, flanked by my sisters, the three of them somewhat crowded in the back, and I think, That looks uncomfortable.  And then I woke up.


So, yes, my subconscious saw fit to inform me that even if I feel I have no control over my life, I actually do. Or, I could, if I would just take it. Thanks, unconscious brain!


I have heard hundreds of sermons on the transformative power of love.  Sometimes, though, you can hear a thing many times before you actually understand it. Fr Rafael today spoke about how the act of loving changes us, as much if not more so than being loved, using the example of Peter's profession of love for Jesus from this week's gospel.  This actually ties back to the out-of-control dream, which connects to my recent discouragement at work (which, you know, is actually school.)

I have a student who drove me crazy last year in seventh grade and was making me nuts this year, too, until I just decided to stop that and really listen to him and be kind.  It would be delightful to say that he's really turned around and become a great student, but that's never going to happen for many reasons -- but it is delightful that he doesn't vex me anymore.

It's also delightful that I'm having visits from all the younger children, who have so much fun in my classroom.  My colleagues can't understand why I'm so willing to give up my prep hour to have the littles come in.  It's a bit awkward to tell them I love them, and really mean it, but I do.  And when I say I love teaching junior high students, they're like toddlers in teenagers' bodies, and they change so much over these two years, they need so much help! I really mean that, too.

I am never happy if I'm holding back.


On the other hand... I (finally) know myself well enough to know that minor bumps get blown up in my imagination or psyche into major dramas, and if I talk about it, or write about, or obsess about it... everything gets worse.  I think about what I should do or say, when, where, how, to whom, endlessly looking for a solution to a problem that probably doesn't even exist.  So if I'm upset about something, I'm going to make myself at least sleep on it before deciding whether or not it's actually "a thing" that requires attention.

I can actually do this now, whereas in the past I couldn't detach myself.  I'm glad about that, but wondering what took me so long.  Or perhaps I've had this ability in the past (something seems familiar about this resolution) and just forgot, or lost it.

Trying this recently, very few incidents survive to become "things" that need me to do anything.  I can feel sad about something without having to try to change it, and I can let others manage their own affairs.

This approach leaves me with some energy to apply to useful and pleasant activities that help offset that sadness and frustration.  This week that meant sending another article idea to my adviser, because if teaching is making me a little crazy, writing about teaching intrigues me. I know it'll take months and months, but I want to publish.