Monday, July 31, 2017

... and now it's gone

Having accomplished about 98% of what needed to be done in the house, post-flooring renovation, I stalled, big time.

I still haven't finished hanging the pictures in the stairwell.  Nor have I done the touch-up painting required in several rooms.  It will probably take less than an hour, but I still haven't done it. There's various stuff still scattered here and there around the house, still not put back in its proper place. I have also not painted DS2's room, but he hasn't been exactly jumping on that, either.  How long can you keep paint in a can before it becomes unusable?  At least I bought the paint on sale.  I have no doubt it will go on the walls eventually, it's just that we've all become extremely sedentary in these last few weeks of summer.

Technically, my summer's over.  I started at my new school today, pre-service teacher training; students won't start until August 9.  I'm nervous about starting over again, but it's a shorter day and I'm out of grad school, and I have minimal other responsibilities.

So, rather than finishing up those small tedious tasks, I have managed to do a few things, like re-upholster the dining room chairs. They are now kitchen chairs because we finally gave up on trying to fit at the smaller table and moved the dining room set into the kitchen.  I bought enough fabric and materials to make cushions for the chair backs, too, but I haven't made them yet.  Perhaps this weekend?

I've also been inordinately busy shopping with DD for her new life at college: bedding, room stuff, mini kitchen, cold weather clothes... the list is seemingly endless, but I think we're in good shape now.

Small victories:  I bought a square Lane coffee table for the family room and am just delighted with its clean lines.  And, I finally tracked down a replacement for a pottery piece that was originally a wedding present that I broke back in 2005:

It arrived today and I have this sense of an old wound finally healing.  I don't know why it bothered me so much but in 12 years I never completely forgot about it, and from time to time I would do a web search.  I was up stupidly late when I found it, but I had a sense that I would finally be successful if I just kept at it, and I was.

Other than shopping?  Reading.  DS2 recommended the first two books of Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive, and I thought, "Sure, why not?"  Then I actually saw the books: at least 3 inches tall, roughly 1300 pages.  Each.   Of course I have no willpower regarding pacing myself while I'm reading, so I basically immersed myself in them and thoroughly enjoyed the process.   I think it took me about a week or so to read both books. I didn't do much else during that time, though!  But I can see why DS2 really liked them, and wanted me to read them.  Volume three comes out in November.   I will probably wait until Christmas to get a copy, though, since I'm not to be trusted with huge, engrossing volumes when I have serious work to do.

DS1 and I re-watched all the Harry Potter movies, which was especially fun because I'd just re-read all the books.  There were a number of things I hadn't noticed before.  I actually liked the two Deathly Hallows movies better than when I'd seen first them (not including the penultimate scene, about which the less said, the better.)

But now I'm back in work and have to switch over to school mode; DS2 goes back on Friday.  The two older kids are both moving to their respective colleges weekend after next: DS2 will be our last kid at home, two weeks from now.  How strange that will be!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

summer's almost here

Signed my contract yesterday.  *whew*  Am now actively reprogramming my brain to prepare for the new school year, but fortunately, I don't report for orientation until the very end of July, and school begins in the second week of August.  Hooray for a more traditional school calendar!

The grand flooring project and its aftermath is just about finished.  There's still tape over the trim, but we'll take that off tomorrow, and then I'll post some photos.  The kids have been absolutely amazing with all that I have asked of them: sorting, packing, moving, sleeping in odd places, and then moving furniture back where it belongs and putting everything else away, too.  It may sound odd, but we had a spectacular trip to IKEA in which we found everything we needed and managed to get it all packed in the back of the van, and then unpacked immediately.  Before bed that night all the carpets were out, and before two days had passed all the furniture was assembled.

Temperatures outside have been at or over 110 degrees for more than two weeks running, so it's summer out there, but for me, not quite.  I need to muddle through a few more house things, and then I'll feel like I can really relax.  The flooring installation took all of last week, as opposed to the 2 days originally estimated; I took advantage of the stuck-at-home time by re-reading the Harry Potter series and am about two-thirds through book 7.  That is a mental vacation of sorts, but the later books are so much longer and more serious that I find I can actually put them down to do other things.

I think I have been so busy for so long that I don't really know how to relax. I keep having this feeling I'm supposed to be doing something.   I'm going to have to work on that.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

things are looking up

I've already had three interviews for my dream job.  I'm not going to say too much more about it, except this comment from a different perspective: It's not your plan, it's God's  plan.

So many people told me, on the terrible day when my contract was rescinded, that things happen for a reason, and that I would find something even better, and that I would be OK.  I have never, perhaps in spite of my faith, bought into the "everything happens for a reason" philosophy.  On the other hand, I do think God has a plan for me, I just don't always know what it is, and I'm fairly certain that there have been plenty of times when I haven't followed the path that would have kept me closer to that plan.

I don't think God is a manipulative jerk.  I have noticed, though, that at certain times in my life, I've made the same mistake repeatedly until some shocking event wakes me up to the fact that I am, in fact, doing something less-than-good.  I can't tell you how many times Pride goeth before the fall has echoed through head these past few weeks. All I can do is nod my head in agreement.

So I'm waiting to hear from the dream job, and holding off on completing my other applications for a little while.  I'm waiting for a letter of reference from my old principal to be able to complete those applications, anyway, and she just returned from her maternity leave and I'm sure she's swamped.  It's OK, there's still plenty of time before the next school year kicks into gear.

On a completely different note, this was great news today:

And finally, Goodwill came and picked up a ton (almost literally) of stuff we've purged in advance of getting our floors re-done next week.  We'll hit peak household disruption on Sunday, but the work should be finished by this time next week, and we'll begin the process of thoughtfully putting everything left back into the upstairs rooms. 

It's strange to be in AZ at this time of year, but I appreciate having the time to get this work done on the house, and I really appreciate not having any homework or classwork or any other sort of schoolwork to do!

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Now I get it

I asked for, and received today, a copy of my final performance evaluation, so I could understand why my contract was rescinded.  I really shouldn't have read it before bed, because of course I couldn't sleep afterwards.

I have never seen so many lies about me!  Things they said I did, and things they said I didn't do -- it's enough to make me wonder who actually wrote it.

Since it's much too late to talk about it, I took the time to write out my refutations.  I will think about how to send them in, too, since it pains me greatly to think of that document as part of my file, unanswered, as if I accepted it.

It seems to me as if it were purposely written so they could get rid of me... a hatchet-job, a witch hunt, whatever you want to call it.  But anyone who knew anything about my classroom practices would laugh to see some of the things they said, like I didn't enter my grades, or I didn't communicate with parents, or I didn't promote self-assessment among my students. My advice-to-parents succeeding in math letter is all about the need for self-assessment.  Clearly whoever wrote that performance evaluation had very little actual knowledge of my practices, which is not surprising since it was a rare day when we had anyone from admin show up in the junior high wing. They were too busy dealing with problems elsewhere in the building, and they knew we were fine, because we are all excellent teachers, including me.

Friday, June 02, 2017

reject

In light of recent events, I have spent an inordinate amount of time on job boards and recruiting websites and all that.  I have an interview set for next Thursday for a job I actually want, too.  I feel a little better knowing that's coming.

On the other hand, I had a screening interview today for another job that I might actually want (the commute is a challenge) and was faced with having to discuss why I'm even looking for a job right now.  I wasn't exactly prepared for the question, although I should have been.

So I was completely honest and probably talked myself out of that job, even though I won't be teaching math.  The math scores did it, apparently, but why anyone was surprised about those math scores, I'll never know.  They were completely consistent with the work my students did all year, in spite of my best efforts.  It is not possible for an average student to learn math without actually doing math, and the vast majority of my students treated homework as if it were optional.  Which is why most of them failed math the entire year.

So I was asked, what did I do about it?  I offered tutoring multiple days a week.  I found online tools so they could bring their math facts up to where they needed to be.  I found other free, online resources and assigned adaptive practice to address specific skills gaps.  I gave out countless worksheets and packets to do the same.  Grades did come up, but when you are starting in the 20-30% range (or lower), even an increase of 20-30% is still not going to get you to passing.  So I said most of that, to what effect, I have no idea.  The call ended with the recruiter letting me know they would contact me if I was still a candidate after they had talked to other qualified candidates.

Then I worked on an application for another school district which asked, have you ever had a contract not renewed? And I had to answer "yes", which led to another "Please explain if you had to answer 'yes' to any of these questions," most of which were horrible things like being arrested. That was a drag, and made me feel as if I'm un-employable, which I should most assuredly not be.

My thoughts take dark turns and I ponder things like, did getting my master's degree make me unemployable? Am I too expensive now?  Will I ever find a place where I feel like I fit in?

The MIT degree supposedly helps, and it does open some doors, but overall I've got more flak about it than I have positive comments.  "Wow, you must be really smart," isn't always a compliment, especially when it's followed by the unspoken question, "What are you doing here?"  

I want my job to make a contribution that's more than economic.  I want to make a difference in people's lives.  I believe I can still do that, I just have to find the right place.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

don't quite know how to say this

This is... awkward.  It's my blog, and all that.

Let's back up a bit.

DD's graduation was lovely.  We went to Flancer's for dinner, just as we had done after her kindergarten graduation, because we needed to pack for Cleveland.

We left for Cleveland about 3AM, and had a lovely weekend for our niece's wedding.  The travel was long but not difficult.  The wedding on Sunday was lovely.  Monday we went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and then to my brother-in-laws and spent the afternoon hanging out with family.  Tuesday, DH took the two younger kids to Cedar Point to ride the roller coasters, while DS1 and I stayed behind and went first to Half Price Books and then to the Botanical Gardens, spending about the same amount of time in each.  Then we came home today.

It was nice.  Cleveland in the spring is really lovely.  We had some rain but nothing dreadful.  Nothing to make me think "mistake on the lake" at all, but I can imagine how hard it is in the winter, with lots of snow.

Let's back up a little bit more.

Last week of school: Monday, after school practice for the teacher dance routine we were performing on Wednesday after the talent show.  Tuesday, the same.  Wednesday morning, "switch day," talked to three different groups of 6th graders about what junior high math and science would be like.  Wednesday afternoon, the talent show, where I was roasted by one of my students doing stand up comedy -- he was quite good.  Then at the end, I did the dance routine with the other teachers, perfectly willing to be silly for the students.  Thursday, field trip with the students.  I spent a good part of the day talking to teachers from our other campuses who were there, so it was actually a productive day.  Friday: last day of school -- all-school award ceremony, then the last Pride Day for our students, to just hang out with each other.  I shopped for drinks before school, and picked up pizza for the kids.  It was a half-day, and DriveLine, our end-of-the-day pickup routine, was fine, because it wasn't so late in the day and so not hot at all.  I was so happy to be done!

In the evenings each night I pulled together the end-of-year stuff I had to do, documenting how I had met my personal goals, how I had communicated with parents, etc.  All these little details that were required of me.

About 1PM, DD came by to bring me a passion tea lemonade from Starbucks.  She was excited about getting ready for her graduation and we were talking about it when my phone rang.  It was my AP saying she needed me for a quick meeting in the small conference room...

A very quick meeting in which she told me, with the district representative sitting there with her laptop, that, because of my students' low test scores, and because a parent had complained to the district about me, they had decided to rescind my contract for next year.

Of course this made no sense to me whatsoever.  Wait, what?  Seriously?  I worked so hard, I said.  I sacrificed so much.  Doesn't mean a thing to them.

I turned in my badge and my keys and my walkie, and went upstairs, told my daughter.  Told my co-workers,  Cried.  Got many hugs.  Had my two boys come over to help me and my daughter pack up all my stuff and put it in the van, and the Fit.

I finally got out of there about 4:30, having sent DD home earlier to get ready .  She needed to be there at 5:30.   The final indignity was having to scrape the labels off the cabinets... and there were a lot of labels since there were so many cabinets.  My guy C, the regular maintenance guy, helped me out by loaning me an awesome scraper, else I would've missed my daughter's graduation.

Now I have literally an entire science curriculum's worth of stuff stacked in my garage, and no job come July.  Yet.  I've already applied to a few places, and more jobs will become available as the summer goes on.

I wouldn't let DH or the kids talk about this while we were in Cleveland.  I texted my friends at my old school, and my brothers & sisters.  Everyone is just as shocked as I am -- I didn't want anyone else to be distracted by this over the weekend, which was all about the wedding.  Now we're back home and I can focus on cleaning up the house for the flooring job, and getting another job.

I'm still turning this turn of events over and over, trying to figure out what I could have done differently.  I honestly don't know.   I'm angry and embarrassed.  Shouldn't I have known this was coming?  I don't see how I could have known.

But just today I remembered how, when an irrational parent attacked me at the science fair, that later came back during my performance evaluation in a negative way.  That parent was completely unjustified, just as this year's parent was, but that apparently doesn't matter.

I've been thinking of all the work I won't have to do, now.  That seems like a good thing, but I never minded the work.  I liked the work, even if there was often too much of it.

I've also been thinking about the kind of job I want to have. I don't want to work somewhere I don't fit.  I've had too many square-peg-round-hole situations.  Maybe I really shouldn't be a teacher?

This is not a path I expected to be on, at this point.  I was really looking forward to going back to work in late July with my team, and having way less work to do because all the prep was done this year.   I told DS2 I wouldn't sign up for any classes or do anything outside of work so I would be more available for him in his last 2 years of high school.  It's very doubtful at this point that I will be able to stick to that.

I'm still in shock, but mostly I'm really sad.  I'm sad about all the people I won't be working with anymore.  I'm sad about the students I have been forced to leave... the district made a liar out of me, because I told them I'd be back next year.

All the colleagues I talked to were so encouraging, and told me I would go on to something better.  We'll see.  I just need to make sure my health insurance doesn't run out.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

post script

After all that travelogue, I find I'm not mentioning the shadow hovering just at the edge of my vision: I so wish my mother could have been here for this weekend, especially.  She was always, always encouraging me to go to back to school, and I know she would have been proud of me.  Then of course yesterday was Mother's Day, which is a Hallmark Holiday, wholly manufactured, sure, but still, a day when my family would get together and "open" the summer season with a big cookout at the Cape house, year after year.  That's how it was: Dad's birthday (May 4) and Mother's Day celebrated together, and  Mom's birthday (June 13) and Father's Day, celebrated together.  Forever.   No wonder I wanted bbq yesterday...

All 7 of us siblings were actively texting each other in the morning, and I had a good talk with one of my brothers, but this is a time that feels lonely for people I'll never see again.  I am more used to the feeling now.  I wish I didn't have to be.

Monday, May 15, 2017

graduation, etc

Not even half-way through the crazy times...

Last weekend was glorious.  I took Friday off from work, which meant late nights Wednesday and Thursday so everything would be ready for the substitute (the best one.)  The students have been energetic and not especially interested in instruction, which makes our jobs as teachers that much more difficult.  So the day off was most well-timed, in spite of the extra time at work it cost me.

Friday started with an early visit to physical therapy.  My lower back issues are about 98% resolved and my neck rarely bothers me, but my collarbone has become an issue as I do more upper-body work.  There is a lot of scar tissue there from my surgeries and it remains to be seen what really can be done -- but it is better, and we keep working on it.  I would like an exit strategy -- some way to know I'm done -- but at this point I don't know what that will look like.  It's kind of expensive but good for me in ways that going to the gym or taking a yoga class wouldn't be.

After the appointment, running around with a few errands, then home, and I'm not exactly sure where the time went, but then the kids were home from school and we were packing the car to head out.  We stopped at Trader Joe's for provisions for the trip, and got on the highway by 3pm, my goal.  My trip up to Flagstaff the previous week, on Monday afternoon for my Tuesday thesis defense, was at exactly the same time, but the traffic is different on Fridays!  Rush hour starts sooner, and it has been so long since I had to deal with any of it, I forgot about the Friday factor.  Fortunately, there were 3 of us in the car, so we could stay in the carpool lane for a big chunk of the ride and miss a lot of the traffic.Once we cleared Phoenix, the ride was smooth sailing the entire way, and we got to Flagstaff just before 6pm.

We stayed at a little motel just off campus, and walking distance to a lot of great restaurants.  On Friday night, DS1, DD, and I had dinner at Tinderbox Kitchen, sitting at the bar because they were still trying to accommodate reservations for post-graduation ceremony parties.  We obliged.  The bartender was both very charming and really skilled at her job, and it was very entertaining watching her work... plus I ordered two very different and delicious cocktails as a result.   (DS2 remained in Phoenix with DH for his ASP exam; he scored an Excellent from an extremely difficult adjudicator.)  The entire dinner was fantastic, then we headed back to the motel to wait for the boys, who got in just around midnight.

Saturday, graduation day, was a gorgeous day with temps in high 60s, a bright blue sky, and gusty winds.  We had breakfast in the room (I like having a fridge and a microwave!  We brought our own coffee maker... it just simplified things) and then tried to figure out how we would manage the day, unsure about parking and traffic and what-not.  We had a quick lunch at The Mayor, a quirky place with very good food, the sort that shows up often on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  Then we headed over to campus to get a parking spot, and wandered around campus a bit.  We hit the bookstore and found DD's dorm -- she'll start in the fall, and is very excited to do so.

We decided to forego waiting for the shuttle bus and walked over the Sky Dome for the graduation ceremony.  I had to be there by 2pm, so I left the family and went off.  I had watched the earlier videos about how to wear the master's robe and hood, and I had a fair idea I was doing it right, but the master's hoods lack the buttons the doctoral hoods have, and it had a tendency to slide off my skinny shoulders.  I was very happy with my decision to wear my Keds rather than my black dress shoes, even though they are comfortable.  The instructions said, "Wear sensible shoes," and I just decided I would rather be able to do a lot of walking and not have to carry the other shoes around.

Graduation was fine -- it was nice being a master's candidate since we go between the PhDs (only about a dozen or so) and the bachelors (it felt like thousands -- probably was only one, though.)  In the staging area my adviser came by to visit and gave us navy stoles with the NAU logo on one side, and MAST on the other, a nice surprise.  She assured us that the administration is very good at this graduation thing, and they were, indeed.  The speakers were brief and relevant, and the awarding of degrees was pretty zippy.  Each of us had a card on which we wrote the name we wanted to be announced, and I was only a little peeved when the reader on my side of the stage skipped my middle name -- the reader on the other side read all the names each degree candidate wrote.  It was all over in a second, anyway, and then I was clutching a diploma folder and making the long trip around back to my seat.

After the master's candidates, the bachelors degrees took seeming forever.  There were rows and rows of them, but eventually it was over and then we all processed out in different directions, kind of like the arms of a starfish.  We met up outside for photos, and my faculty assured me that in a couple of years, when DS2 is out of high school, their PhD program will be up and running... sounds good to me, but 2 years is a long time, sometimes.  We'll see what happens.

Then we walked back to the car in the river of post-graduation ceremony happy people, and had a snack and hung out until our dinner reservation at 8 at the Cottage, a little French bistro just 3 minutes walk from the motel.  We had a spectacular meal.  DD was in heaven with her duck confit cassoulet, saying repeatedly it was the most delicious thing she had ever eaten.  Even DS1, who has eaten at very good French restaurants with us on several occasions, said he now "gets" French cuisine.  We had escargots for an appetizer and there were literally a dozen meaty snails in the order, enough for 4 people -- so rich!  I was trying to balance that out so I ordered the steak frites, but the rest of the family ordered the duck or coq au vin.  Desserts were an awesome chocolate cake and the truly weird but delightful iles flottant, meringues floating in creme anglaise.  Everyone was happy, then we headed back to the motel.  DH took off to come home and look after the cats, but the kids and I hung out and watched the penultimate episode of Samurai Jack, which is just killing me with how good it is. (sigh)

Sunday morning started off slightly disappointing, because we planned to go to a 9am mass at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel nearby, but when we arrived there we were told there was no mass, even though 3 different websites said there was!  So, change of plans: go to mass in the evening.  We packed up and headed out, and made great time getting home -- well under 3 hours.  Then, we attempted to go to the movies to see the new Guardians of the Galaxy, but I made a mistake!  The tickets I bought were for Saturday, not Sunday.  I admit, I was crushed.  I really wanted to see the movie, and I felt very foolish for making such a stupid mistake.  Of course there are no refunds in such a case, so money spent on nothing, another thing making me feel foolish.

I allowed myself a little time to feel sorry for myself but then pulled myself together and went out grocery shopping with DD, then I took the kids to the late mass at St. Mary's, and then I decided I wanted bbq for dinner so we got a ridiculous amount of food from Famous Dave's and it was all delicious, an undoubtedly good decision.

Somewhere in there, I made a final exam and end-of-year review for my 7th grade math class, because inexplicably there is no district version.  I am a little peeved about having to do that extra work, but I survived.  I also finally looked into ZipGrades, and it's going to make grading finals (all multiple choice...) a snap.  I even think I'll have fewer than 100 scans for all the finals I'm doing, so I won't have to pay until the beginning of next school year --- it's not that big a deal ($6.99), I just don't want to pay for something I'm not going to use for months because it's summer.

Only 9 days left of school, and I admit, my heart's not in it -- graduating has made my heart and head sync up to say, "I'm done!"  I want to relax and celebrate, but I have to wait a couple of weeks.  Really , the hard part is over.  I just have to hang in there.

I didn't expect to feel different when I graduated.  I thought it would be kind of like a birthday, where you feel exactly the same the day after as the day before.  I realize that it's not like that at all, because a birthday is something that happens to you simply because time is passing by.  It really has nothing to do with you, you just happen to be there.  Graduation is a completely purposeful thing, and now that it has happened, I feel lighter even than when my committee approved my thesis.  Every time I think of it, I get a big smile on my face, and it's hard for me to stay feathers-ruffled about anything for any length of time.  I don't really even know what it will be like to not be in grad school, since I feel like I've been doing the program forever.  It will be fun to find out.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

t-minus 2 days to crazy times

May 1: all day meeting, new science curriculum! (again)

May 2: thesis (ok, ok, non-thesis project) defense at NAU

May 4: DD's senior dinner

May 7: DS2 piano master class

May 12: DS2's  ASP (piano) exam

May 13: my graduation!!!!!!!

May 19: The Book of Mormon at Gammage

May 25, day: field trip

May 25, evening: 8th grade promotion ceremony (my students)

May 26: DD's graduation!!!!!!!

May 27: fly out

May 28:  niece's wedding!!!!!!!

June 3: DS2's piano recital

June 5-6:  DD's orientation at NAU

June 12-15: TIBSS class at ASU Poly (if my team's application is accepted)

June 15: new flooring delivery

June 19-20-21(?): new flooring installation

July 8-15: Connecticut!

(shhhhhh: July 18: teachers report back to school!)

There's a little breathing room here & there.  It's going to fly by!


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

never ignore that "I should be doing something" feeling...

I did, last night, thinking about my teaching and what I had coming up in the next few days.  I prepped like a madwoman over the weekend so I really didn't have to do anything for teaching last night.

Yeah, my thesis was due today.  (ha!)

Fortunately, my adviser finally sent me her comments, and I crunched through it all this evening in a few hours.  The thing that took the longest was re-crunching after Word ate half the document.  It looked just like the Delete key was stuck, and there was no way to un-stick it.  I waited until it consumed the rest of the document, to see if I could "undo" to get it back, but no luck.  I couldn't get a response of any kind, so I had to kill it with the Task Manager and start over with the recovered version.  It was very distressing at the time, but things worked out OK.

It's 77 pages long!  Without a doubt the longest thing I've ever written.  The actual text only runs to page 40, and then it's a lot of appendices, but since I wrote the appendices, too, I figure it's OK to claim all 77 pages for myself.

counting down...

I don't want to wish my life away, but I am seriously counting down the days until 1) my thesis defense 2) my graduation 3) the last day of school 4) DD's graduation 5) my niece's wedding and finally 6) the installation of the new flooring upstairs.  (I haven't mentioned that before, but it's been in the works for quite a few months now.)  DS2 has a piano exam and a recital in there, too, but that list is already way too long.

I had my semi-annual (?) ultrasound and blood work today for  my doctor at Banner M. D. Anderson, and I'll see him next week for results.  The technician measured a lot of things and took a zillion photos.  Nothing I saw looked particularly firm, fixed, and rounded, although some of the nodes did look quite large.  Phlebotomist went for a vein in my right hand (!!!) and got it first try, four tubes filled, didn't blow out or anything. Now I'm working diligently to forget it even happened, lest I drive myself crazy with conjecture.

I worked late Friday and literally all day Saturday to be able to take today off, and it really was lovely not going in today.  I do feel as if I was supposed to do something, but I'm not quite sure what.  I checked my emails and responded to the ones that needed responses... I'm sure I'll find out tomorrow.

The big motivation behind working so hard on Saturday was so Easter Sunday could be  a true day off, too.  Everything turned out lovely, and we've already plowed through a substantial amount of the leftovers.  I made the French orange cake but as cupcakes, and I over-filled them so they really do need to be refrigerated or else they completely fall apart into (delicious) piles of goo.  Fresh orange zest and juice, right off the tree, gives such an incomparable flavor.  (DH harvested the last of the oranges, and I spent about an hour juicing them this afternoon.  Got the first batch of oj-ice cubes freezing now.)

I like this, being able to spend time thinking about the house and getting things (albeit small things) done.  I am constantly giving myself pep talks: it's really only 3 more weeks of instruction, then review for finals, finals week, and promotion week.  It will go by fast!

My adviser sent comments on my thesis today, and it's just a few tweaks here and there.  *whew*  I will package it up this week and put together my presentation -- only 15-20 minutes, that's easy!  I am not feeling stressed about it, other than having to drive up to Flagstaff after work.  I suspect I will have to resort to caffeine... but if I actually leave at 4PM like I'm supposed to, I can actually get up there before it gets too dark...

It's too soon to think about it.  I have to stop casting my thoughts so far ahead and just get through tomorrow! Time keeps on slipping...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

nearly there...

Sometimes, I decide to stay up "stupid late" because no one is bothering me, and I'm actually getting stuff done. 

Last night was one of those nights.  I traded in my hours of sleep for hammering out a nearly-complete draft of the last pieces of my non-thesis project.  It was a good trade.  Now it's just clean up and formatting, which always take longer than they should, but at least the end is in sight.

Yay!

Monday, March 20, 2017

it's always the same question

Why am I still up?

I was working, then I finished working, and I could have gone to bed 2 hours ago, but I didn't.

Spring break is over, back to school, back to routine, maybe that will help?  I got most everything done that I wanted to, over break, so that the rest of the year should be less hectic.  That's good, so why don't I feel good about it?

I am feeling a bit sorry for myself, because this really was not a vacation, just working in a different place and with no contact time (time with students.)  Planned 6 classes plus special tutoring/review sessions for all 3 of my math classes, which of course involved scheduling and finding the appropriate resources, and then copying everything.

Copying everything took 4 hours today.  Some of that time was spent getting the physics workbooks to print correctly, but not much.

Perhaps "sorry for myself" isn't quite right.  Definitely more than one thing going on: exhaustion, anger, worry, disappointment.   A bundle of ick. I would probably feel better if I got some sleep, so I'll try that.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

examination of conscience

Last Wednesday (not yesterday, last week) was Ash Wednesday.  We're already one-sixth of the way through Lent.

I don't think I can adequately express how much I've been struggling lately with managing everything, even though I've certainly complained here about it quite a bit.  But complaining always, always feels wrong, because no one imposed this on me, I took it on myself.

In the last week, reflecting in the way that Lent leads me to, I've been trying to figure out how exactly I got into this mess.  This mess being: teaching 6 different classes, all with new-to-me curriculum (one class, indeed, which I am literally making up as we go along), plus being junior high lead in a new school, all while finishing my non-thesis project so I can finally graduate with my masters degree.  [I have declared my intention and set my defense date, and I've booked the hotel rooms for graduation weekend.  I will graduate this spring.]  Plus, of course, being a wife and a mother and, in  much diminished role, a sister, because I'm no living person's daughter anymore.

I have been crazy-overworked before.  This is not like that.  I love my job, but there is literally too much of it for me to handle on a day-to-day basis.  It is amazing I haven't collapsed yet.  I keep wondering, like the Talking Heads, "How did I get here?"   I realized that math lessons in the beginning of the year are simple, but over the course of the year, they are cumulative.  So back in September, each lesson (I teach 3 different lessons each day) was only one or two pages of notes, but now they are more like three to four.  Back in the first semester, when I volunteered for class #6, I thought, "I got this.  I can do it,"  because I was handling five classes at that point and it was ... manageable.

It never occurred to me to think about how that might change over the course of the school year.   I was in a groove.  "I got this."  A little more?  No problem.  Only, not really.  Really a big problem, a sin I carry around with me all the time in my heart and never admit, and now it's my Cross:

Pride.  

Yes, I'm smart, and quick, and more than competent.  But there are only so many hours in a day, and even though I can function on just a few hours' sleep, that's not an optimal situation for anyone in my life, especially me.

There's nothing for it, now.  Spring break is coming up, and I'm hoping to plan and work ahead to make fourth quarter easier.  I just have to work through this, and I can, and I will -- but the lesson here is to stop and think about over-committing myself in the future.  No matter how good I think I am, at whatever it is, I don't have the kind of control over the space-time fabric of the universe that doing my job, managing my own personal life, and getting enough sleep would require.

I'm feeling weird and knocked down a bit, but the only person that feeling is coming from is me.  I get nothing but support and love from everyone around me, which explains the "weird" part.  How can I feel like I'm in so much trouble when I've never been in such a good place, surrounded by such good people?  It's all on me.

Never to old to learn.


Monday, March 06, 2017

blech

Finally had my doctor's appointment -- a week ago -- and everything appears stable, so that's good.  The doctor seemed to think there is not an adenoma, but that if I opted for surgery they'd have to take the whole pituitary, which is not what the surgeon said.  I'm going with the surgeon's take, which is that I don't have to do anything right now, but when I do, he can handle it.

The appointment itself was annoying, because I was late and I got an extremely cold reception from the staff.  There is never any warmth there.  Yes, I was ten minutes late, so I arrived at 4:25 instead of 4:15, but the posted hours are until 5PM, and there were no other cars in the parking lot. Yet when I walked in, the lights were off in reception, and I had to wait a bit for someone to come out.  "I don't know if the doctor will see you, you're late."  Whatever, people.  The doctor saw me for 5 minutes which was all that was needed to give me my results.  No problem.  As much as I like the doctor, the staff really bugs me.

So.... today was the oven repair appointment (DS1 is home on spring break!), and that didn't go very well, either.  Apparently we need a new gas line or something... this house is nineteen years old, and the building codes have changed.  I like to think that it's still safe to use the stove, that if it were going to explode or something, that the repair guy would've told us.   So now we have to have a plumber in and get the gas lines updated, and who knows how long it will take and how much it will cost?  I don't have time for this nonsense.... I just want my functional kitchen back!

This has been a bit of a rough patch, but next week is spring break.  I'm looking forward to sleep, and working ahead so that next quarter isn't quite the disaster that this quarter has been.  I have to remind myself that it has only been a disaster from my perspective.  At school, all anyone sees is smooth sailing.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

oh no!

After a very long and mostly productive day, I turned on the oven to preheat while I mixed up the meatloaf.

Nothing happened.  Temperature did not change.  The broiler works fine.  The burners work fine. The oven has apparently stopped working.

Scheduled a repair during spring break and meanwhile am cooking the meatloaf in the big dutch oven.

Menu planning will be interesting, but how am I supposed to get by without my scones on the weekend?

Monday, February 20, 2017

today's exercise in frustration

I did not have my doctor's appointment today, and did not find out the results of my MRI.  My labs weren't back yet -- those labs that I took Friday morning off work for! -- and so the doctor wouldn't see me.

I'm rescheduled for next Monday, after school.  At least I won't have to take any more time off work for this nonsense.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

it is what it is

Re-reading that last post, I see a number of typo's I'm not going to correct.  They accurately reflect my state at the time -- I think I fell asleep in the middle, woke up, finished it, and posted it before falling back to sleep.  A lot of days that's what things are like for me: falling asleep in the middle of some task just long enough so I can then wake up with enough energy to complete it before I can go to sleep for (whatever remains of) the rest of the night.

This week's overwhelming task was getting grades caught up for progress reports, up till 3:30. Of course the rest of the week was affected by that, but I made it through without anything horrible happening.  The highlight of most days was the bottle rocket launcher, even though we couldn't get the bottle to go very high.  We'll try again later.

I left school mid-morning to get a blood draw yesterday, because my endocrinologist had ordered it to be taken between 8 and 10AM, and when I went last Saturday, it was too close to 10 for them to do the draw in time.  I felt crushed, especially because I could have left earlier. I actually sat around reading emails for a while because I know how crowded the lab is early on Saturdays.  I didn't realize it was a timed order. My appointment with my endo is Monday, and I was thinking I would have to reschedule because I wouldn't be able to get the labs done in time, but I was very lucky in getting the appointment yesterday.  Of course I had to take time off work to do it, but it was actually good for me to be away for a little while.

I'm slightly upset in advance of the appointment, as usual.  I don't know if the change in my peripheral vision means anything or not.  The lab drew about eight tubes of blood from me yesterday -- I don't remember my endo ordering so many, or it being a timed test, before.  I hope I'll find out Monday what's going on, at least with the pituitary adenoma situation.  I hope the blood tests are back in time, too.  The staff at the lab last Saturday said they take 48 hours, but the staff yesterday said 2-5 days.  It's just another situation I have no control over.

Meanwhile, I still have way too much work to do and literally not enough time to do it.  This is a 3-day weekend and that will help tremendously.  I am constantly saying I need another day -- now I have it, I have to use it wisely!  I don't like this feeling of being oppressed by my work.  I chose it, and when I chose it, I thought it would be OK, but it has been more work than I anticipated.  Only 14 more weeks of school -- it's going to fly.

Friday, February 03, 2017

something's gotta give...

I have too much work to do!  And I haven't looked at, or thought about, my thesis in weeks.  I need to get something to my adviser before Monday.  Thursday was supposed to be my writing day, but I didn't get to thesis work.  Instead, I finished up the child study team paperwork for two students, and then wrote up the 3 math lessons I'm giving tomorrow, and then revised a power point presentation for 7th grade science.  t

Yesterday I plowed through about half my stack of grading, but that was because my students had math tests yesterday and needed their previous tests back.  So now I literally have a test (or quiz, or sometimes both) to grade in five of my six classes.  I know what I'm doing this weekend.

I keep thinking I got behind because of the science fair, and then the CST paper work, and then having to do bulletin boards (it's February!)  Thinking about how many hours I spent on those tasks (too many), perhaps I really will be OK.  Now I'm really regretting not doing more work over Christmas break, but I was so exhausted the thought of it left me cold.  I'm paying now!

At least planning is done for my 3 math classes, and I could conceivably finish planning out my science classes this weekend if I ever get through the grading.  I have this sense that every year I say this same thing -- I can't believe how busy I am.  Perhaps I have been just as busy before, and I jthikust don't remember it because it doesn't feel the same?  I never had to prep more than two classes before and now I've got six.  (I laugh.)

I've already signed my contract for next year, and my principal was very complimentary when we met about it.  I like to think I'm doing a good job, but I don't feel I have an accurate sense of that right now.  My students grades are abysmal, and I just found out yesterday that one of my 8th graders has been treating his math homework as a creative writing assignment and I've been giving him credit for it (it's a completion grade, and it looked reasonable...).  That took the wind out of my sails a bit, but I have to remind myself that it's not about me. It never is!  No reson to take it personally.

To end on an up note, I'm having a blast integrating the classroom computers into my lessons, and the students love them.  It's going far better than I anticipated, especially since I'm more or less making it up as I go along.  Come to think of it, that's another unscheduled thing I've been spending time on, putting me even further behind with my own stuff even while moving ahead in the classroom.

If I could just figure out how to balance all this... it's only 4 more months, and spring break and standardized testing are in there, so it's really only about 3.  With the amount of sleep I'm not getting, I wonder how long I can go without coming down with a significant illness... and there's the specter of surgery, too.  It's weird how my left peripheral vision is decreased -- I notice it because on the right, the entire rim of reading glasses is in my peripheral vision, but on the left, it's not.  Not a scientific test, I know, but it's consistent.  And annoying, because I really don't want to have brain surgery.

Anxiety always keeps me up till the wee hours.  At least these days I'm working while I'm at it.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A first.

I had my pituitary MRI this evening... and slept through most of it.  Now I'll do my best to forget about it until I get the results.

DH was called unexpectedly to the ground control center in Virginia and will be there through next week, consequently everything feels weird.  We are, of course, OK, but not exactly happy about this state of affairs.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

"not a train wreck"

First-ever science fair at the new school; see post title.

I'm glad the event is over. It will take a while to catch up with all the grading and everything else that has been piling up, but eventually it will all sort itself all out.

So very glad that's over!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

(not) funny

I took one of those online quiz things to see what percent OCD I am.  No surprise (to me)... 100%.

In my every day life, I don't obsess over things to the point where I become non-functional, but I've noticed just lately I do act compulsively about a few things: my lesson materials, and my daily online reading.  While engaged with those activities, I've definitely sensed "I should stop," but then kept going.  Even to the point where I'm up till 3AM, like yesterday, typing up the lab for my new Integrated Science class.

That was a bit crazy.  The only reason I'm still up now is I've had a couple of little naps here and there this evening, but I'm taking myself off to bed soon.  As soon as I finish this?  No, of course not, there are a few more websites I want to check...

I've never really thought of myself as OCD, just a control freak, and those are not the same thing, I think -- but I do think there's a very small something there.  Just something to think about.

Also: Last night when I was driving home from physical therapy, I could really tell that the peripheral vision in my left eye is not as good as in my right.  It may have been a circumstantial event, but I noticed it.  Orders for an MRI should be coming around within the next month, but I'm thinking about asking to move that up.

Friday, January 06, 2017

(self?) sabotage

I had a vision field test this morning.  This is a test that checks your peripheral vision.  I scheduled it 6 months ago.  At the time, I was blissfully unaware of how slammed I would be over this vacation.  I probably thought I would be all done with any work I had to do, therefore it was OK to make this appointment for the first thing in the morning.

The problem, of course, is I'm not at all close to being ready for school on Monday, and they never do just the visual field test.  They do a dilated eye exam and actually look at the optic nerve, too.  So: eyes dilated at about 8:30AM, finally able to read comfortably?  2:30PM, on a day I had specifically designated as my stay-home-and-write day.  Oops.

I did a lot of running-around type errands (4 dropping off, 1 picking up) because I could see well enough to drive -- it's always the close vision that suffers with the dilation.  DH met DS1 and I for a nice lunch, and then I brought DS1 up to campus so he could check in to his building (the key cards have to be reactivated each semester.)  Home for just a bit before having to pick up the two younger kids from school, and then home again.

Exhausted!  Did some reading.  Answered an email using this process:  honestly answer every question and provide all relevant information; walk away for 10 minutes; come back and ruthlessly edit so the reply is only a third of its original size and contains no potentially surprising or upsetting statements.

I'm trying to focus my attention on the must-do's since I can't possibly accomplish everything I put on my school to-do list.  I should just make a new list. Yesterday I productively avoided both the lesson plans and the lesson materials by creating my bulletin boards. Today I've run out of other, more fun, productive tasks. *sigh*

Oh, right, the test: A "slight change" in the left eye, but the doctor is not worried about it.  He literally said those words, but then asked about whether I was being followed with imaging scans, specifically an MRI.  I told him I was due for an MRI, and he was happy about that.  (I'm not.)  So another thing I accomplished was calling my endo to find out what's going on with that, and it turns out it won't get scheduled until sometime in February, so I have that delightful experience coming up.  I'm glad I'm doing it, because it will either confirm or refute the eye doctor's opinion pretty definitively.   I emphatically don't want to have sort-of-brain surgery, but I would also like to not have to go through this routine every six months.  Actually, in spite of the "slight change", the eye doctor is graduating me to only once a year with the vision field test, we'll do that in June, and then in the winter do the rest of the exam -- assuming everything stays the same.

Fortunately my vision is holding steady at only slightly impaired, and my lowest-power cheaters are totally up to the task of making small text readable for me.  I so appreciate not having to wear glasses, most of the time!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

flipped

Spent all day today mostly spinning my wheels with not much to show for it. Suddenly, around 11PM, I finally feel as if I can focus and I get some things done.  This will never do, though -- I can't stay on this flipped schedule!  High hopes for tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

little things

Someone asked me what I got for Christmas, and I basically shrugged the question off -- Oh, you know, I have so much stuff!  DH has planned a get-away night for us...

Of course that's true.  What's also true is that when I shopped for everyone else, I picked up things here and there for myself, taking advantage of the end-of-year sales.  All in all, though, my stack of Christmas stuff is small but delightful, and the things I'm enjoying the most were a couple of "house" buys! Not presents, just a couple of things we picked up in the past month or so:

Instant Pot!
DH got us a pressure cooker.  I really want to end that sentence with several exclamation points: !!!!
I have the impression not too many people use these things, and I had literally zero experience with a pressure cooker before last month, but this thing is awesome if you like slow-cooked foods and don't want to wait hours for the slow-cooking to happen.  I can make Greek chicken (stewed with cinnamon, onion, and tomato paste) in about an hour, and it tastes as if it had been simmering for three. So far I have used it to make chicken and beef dishes, and also, just yesterday, chili.  It is totally awesome to be able to cook food that we really love and have it ready at a semi-reasonable time for dinner.  By the time we get home most week days, it's nearly 5PM, but I can still make basically anything I want, now.  It also helps tremendously that it's electric, so it doesn't heat up the whole house the way using the oven does.  (This particular model also slow cooks, makes yogurt, can be a rice cooker, and also, wonderfully, has a saute setting, so I can brown the meat, deglaze the pot, then put everything back in to cook.  Less cleanup = extra awesomeness.)

The other innovation? 
KitchenAid Dish Rack
This seems kind of dumb, perhaps, but we've always had one of the small Rubbermaid dish racks because there isn't that much space next to the sink. I never considered a larger one, even though the small one was constantly a problem.  I saw this dish rack at Sam's Club last month for $20 and stopped to look at it.  DD was with me and encouraged me to buy it.  I didn't think it would fit, but it does, and having more space there is such a small thing, but with all the cooking (and eating) we do, it really is lovely.  I mean, I was always having to precariously balance the baking sheets and the platters and the various glasses that were hand-washed... and now I don't.  Everything fits, nothing falls out or falls over or gets broken!  

So, my two favorite new things were not Christmas presents, and that's fine with me. It's funny to me how these two little things make me so happy.

One more thing was a Christmas present, from my "secret Santa" at work: a miniature herb garden! We have all the rosemary we need outside, but the addition of fresh thyme and sage are wonderful!  Now I just have to make sure the cats don't eat it.