Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I really appreciate quieter days after days like today

This day was like freaky bipolar. Yay! Max's hearing is just fine! Boo-the super sweet physical therapist tried to kill me (why do I insist on believing her when she says, "a little discomfort.") and then I lost my car. And then I found it. And then the parking garage guy said, "Merry Christmas, I'll cover your missing 93 cents" but he said it like, "get out of my face, you disgust me, you irresponsible nimrod." And I would have given ANYTHING to have found a dollar somewhere in the car then, but I only had Lion cash and a credit card, so I had to drive away feeling like the ice scum in my wheel wells. Then I drove to my research site and there were exactly the right number of people who have agreed to participate in my research, which was half the number that we had planned, but which in the end, felt perfect. I drove home and then straight to the middle school to pick up the twins to go to swimming, which we did, right after we got someone to help me start the car with jumper cables. I got Chris a Yay! cake and then picked up the twins again and got them home for a bite to eat before the concert back at the middle school. The music was awesome. We have the most amazing music programs in State College and our kids completely benefit from it. But also? The pain from the PT earlier in the day. By the time I got home I was exhausted. Too exhausted to get up from my chair when Chris started Monsters University at 9:30 pm. I'm going to have to just float from one of the pool to the other in the morning. I hope Jill is driving. I hope tomorrow is not so exciting. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

This is going to be an Amazing Week

This week is so. many. things. It is a a birthday, a dissertation project milestone, the graduation of my my students and their students from the fall world languages program for elementary students, the twins first priesthood interviews, their 12th birthday, a visit from Mom and her friend to help celebrate those things, Max's fall play, being in charge of the flower committee for that play, being at all the performances to wrap and sell flowers, and etc. There really is more for the etc.

I was feeling more than a little overwhelmed about it all, especially since I would prefer to clear the schedule and just prepare for my committee meeting on Friday, but since I am a mother of three teens and wife to a double-majoring temporary undergrad, that's not happening. Instead I'll make a list of readings I want to revisit before then and have them in my backpack and look for times when I can read them as I have downtime between the other ts.

Then one of my visiting teachers snuck into my house and helped me with my dishes and left me a vase of flowers, which was so uncalled for and so welcome. The flowers are beautiful, really beautiful, and they're on my dining room table bringing me more joy.

And today I talked out my worries with two friends and I decided my sound track for this week is going to be Hymn #223 Have I Done Any Good in the World Today and my motto will be endure to the end, with the understanding that we LDS believe you're not doing it right if you sad sack and despair your way through things. No, enduring to the end means keeping the light of Christ in your heart, acting as he would have us act, finding moment after moment to be grateful, redistributing our blessings to meet the needs of others (okay, I wish this applied to the dentist appointment. I'd like to redistribute my fillings to others who might need them more, and I totally would it not for a life long fear of root canals.)

So we'll take things one day at a time, and at points, one hour at a time. Tomorrow is a day full of meetings and appointments. The dog needs a bath so badly. We've all stopped loving her fully because of her stink. Tomorrow she will be washed in the waters of Petco and arise again a pretty and sweet smelling dog. We're not shallow. This is some serious stink she got into at some point.

I will order the flowers. I'll make a list of readings I want to revisit before then and have them in my backpack and look for times when I can read them as I have downtime between the other things.

I will attend a meeting to plan a class I'm teaching next semester. I had a meeting with the professor running this meeting last week and we talked about al lot of the stuff at this meeting ahead of time and I had a chance to think aloud through whatever there was to separate wisdom from tradition. I'm better prepared to support the changes fully now. We also talked about where I am in the program and she said, "I actually found finishing the dissertation went quickly once the data was collected."

I'm thinking of putting that on a t-shirt and wearing it for my dissertation writing sessions.

I will submit a second job application. I've decided to graduate in August and work on finding us a good home program, a good place for the twins to attend high school, a good place for  Chris to finish his certification program and start teaching. This feels right. Unlike tomorrow's dentist appointment.

I will get three fillings. three.

Then I will pick up Milo from musical rehearsals and take him to flute. Then go back and pick up Ben from musical rehearsals and take them both to swimming. Then we will go home and do homework and eat something and collapse in to bed. Thank heavens Max can drive himself places.

But then there is Tuesday and the graduation and I have the opportunity to look back over another fall field experience and reflect on what this group taught me and what I need to fine tune if I do again next fall. That will be the next post, I think: What I Learn as a Teacher Educator, because I always do and I always find surprises. I love people who think they want to be teachers because it's not a decision lightly made anymore. It requires a certain amount of steel and my job is to help students find it and start using it to be the good they want in the world--since that's still the primary reason I hear students say they want to teach.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

School Pictures. Why do they hurt so bad?

Milo (Age 11)

Ben (Age 11)
Someday when they are rich and famous disability studies professors they'll look back on these photos and have a good laugh at how accurately school pictures capture our nerdiness, which is too great to be only inner nerdiness. No sirree. We leave nerdiness everywhere we go, like a leaky bag of Fun Dip.

If I ruled the world...

There would be such a thing as a knitting sabbatical.

Admin: Alaska, this is your third knitting sabbatical you've submitted this year.
Alaska: I can't control these things, Ma'am. As Shakespeare's Benedick says with such anticipation, "The world must be peopled!" and in my case, having done my fair share of people-ing, "The itty-bitties must have handknit sweaters!"
Admin: But it's only March. When will you teach your classes?
Alaska: Just as soon as I run out of this baby bamboo/merino superwash blend.

Yeah. Not going to happen. Okay, what if I started each semester teaching my students to knit so by the end of the semester they had both a firm grasp on the difference between segregated and unsegregated ESL programs AND a knit and purl stitch? We could donate each semester's baby sweaters to the nearest refugee relocation NGO.

But today is Wednesday and Wednesdays are my best get things done day. Jill and I swam. There is laundry in the washer. The dog is spoiled and fed. The whole house (except the kitchen and bathrooms) is the cleanest it's been in ages (which pretty much took the whole summer to get to this point, with the carpet cleaner guy putting the finishing touches on yesterday) and my goal is to keep it this way until Thanksgiving. After that, who knows. But in the meantime, I need to tackle the bathrooms and kitchen this week. But not today.

Until it's time to go get Ben for oboe I'm working on final evals for the World Languages student teachers, some paper work for my dissertation project, and finishing touches on an article I hope to submit to a journal in two weeks.

It's really, really nice being in a clean house. I wish I were the sort of mother for whom keeping it that way came easily. I mean, assuming that meant I could keep the other good things about me like finding most teenagers charming and brave and thinking that teaching is an art, not a science, so it must always be assessed qualitatively, not quantitatively and being really, really sure that Institute class at church is the best. thing. ever.

I've been thinking lately how school is like my sons' swim team. But that will be fodder for another post.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Up the Down Staircase, rinse, repeat.

So you know, you come back down to the basement with two pieces of Halloween candy that Ben has given you and sit back down at the computer. You put on your headphones and hit play and that classical piece that you had playing ten minutes ago with the discord and the church bells starts up again and that's when you remember that you originally went upstairs for your Bahktin notes. Shoot.

Friday, November 01, 2013

We Didn't Start the Fire

I hope I can assume that anyone who might visit this blog is familiar with Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire.

If you google around, you can find some fun videos that match visuals to each line of the song. I've used them to demonstrate the difference between listening to the song alone and listening to it with visual aides for my teacher ed students who might otherwise not understand the huge difference multiple modes of instruction make to their emerging bilingual students (aka English language learners).

For me this fall has been unusually light. I've had some important stuff to work on for school, but I have fewer students to supervise this fall and fewer sections to teach and I'm not taking any classes, so I even had some goof-off time.

That's over. It's so over that in looking at my schedule for the next two weeks it reads an awful lot like the frenetic pace of WDSTF.

Now part of it is just bad luck. I have a lot to get done in the next two weeks to prepare for my proposal defense and that's just all there is to it. The twins' musical rehearsals start. Thankfully, they're only in the ensemble cast, but Monday is the first rehearsal and they can't miss it. So is Milo's flute lesson. I haven't figured out how that one will work out yet.

I have a lot of prep work to get done before Christmas so I can start my dissertation project in January, and I learned on Thursday that it has  to be done as soon as possible since the school board in the district I want to work with doesn't meet in December (this is really common among central PA schools, anyway. They meet twice in November and skip December.)

The World Languages field experience has a week and a half left to it, so I'm in the middle of final formal evaluations, final lesson plan feedback, getting signatures on all the graduation certificates from TPTB, and making sure we have enough space for all the parents to gather for the graduation day.

Ben and Milo turn 12 two weeks from tomorrow. This is a big deal in our church. It's not a lot for me to plan (they're hoping to have two friends over for a sleepover) but there is definitely some planning involved and it's feeling like more than it is with the other stuff crowding in.

And Max is about to go into tech week(s)...heck, because the performances of The Birds at the high school is the same weekend as the twins' birthdays and of course, I'm the flower committee. Thank. heavens. that is a light responsibility.

Thanksgiving is going to be a cake walk in comparison. In fact, I hearby swear I'm not even going to think about it until Nov. 18. Except to buy groceries at Giant so I can get the free turkey. Also it  helps in writing this out that I can see that for half the list the issue is really just for the next two weeks.

And a bunch of writing to do, but that's like saying "also some laundry and dishes."

I'm going to need a new play list. With Eye of the Tiger or something.

It's just two weeks. I can do anything for two weeks (okay, not tennis, but you get me).

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Blog Sweet Blog

I'll be writing again over here instead of on Facebook for awhile. I have a lot to get done this year and Facebook, for all its good qualities (frequent pictures of good friends) is such a time suck for me.

Nevertheless, I do love to stay in touch with family and friends, and since I am so consistently pathetic about calling anyone (at least until Dad calls my cell phone and says, "Thought you might be dead. We're leaving next week for a four week tour of Portugal. You might want to call this weekend and argue otherwise.") blogging is my best bet again.

I might have forgotten how to imbed photos in my posts though.


So a quick catch up seems in order.

Alaska: Working on her dissertation. And always the dishes. On the look out in case someone might have thrown away a bassoon they aren't using anymore. Still drives too fast. Currently blonde. At least my eye color is legit. Swimming three days a week at the Y with Jill in the hopes that someday I might fit back in my cute clothes.

Chris: Worked previous five years for a software company. When they laid off most of their staff (75%) at the start of the sequester last Spring, he was at a cross roads. He decided to go back to school with the hopes of eventually teaching/directing theatre/English.

Max: Senior in high school. Applying to four colleges and his LDS mission. He'll do the LDS mission first and then college, but applying for college on your mission is tricky and frowned on, so they apply now, then defer enrollment. Happy kid. Dating Alexis. Alexis the Awesome.

Ben: 6th grade. High baritone already and he's not quite 12. Plays oboe and cello. Is hoping for a speaking role in the school musical but will do anything, really. Agreeable, helpful fellow who has lots of ideas about how to get things done and tries not to get in trouble telling others what they should do. In another few years this will work out well for him.

Milo: 6th grade. Voice is slipping down. Not as obvious as Ben. Plays flute. Reads constantly. Is hoping we might let him homeschool himself someday. Also interested in the play, but I could see him being really, really happy on set design. We're taking Brienne Brown's water color class together in two weeks.

Emily: Will be 10 years old in March. Still a friendly, loving senior poodle, but a little more neurotic and a little more likely to pee on the carpet. Hate that last part. Still the best. dog. ever.

Still in State College, PA. Still in love with Pennsylvania.