Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It's Paid

Just a quick update on this pending issue -- the money came out of our checking account, so that means the checks were "cashed" and I guess our process has started.

Let's hope they don't schedule the biometrics for when we are away in Florida!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Guess What?

Well... we had used an older form (although not expired according to the writing on the bottom, NOT TRUE!) to submit this and all the paperwork came back in the mail yesterday. If I cursed, you could insert curse here.

We did know it was an older form, but I had carefully checked the new form against the old and THEY ARE EXACTLY THE SAME -- but when bureaucracy is involved and is the rule of law, the fact that the forms are identical DOESN'T MATTER!

We could have sent the newer forms on that day, but we would have had to fill in the whole 20 page application forms again for both of us and and I would have had to drive to the university to get my husband to sign his form and then mail it.

All things work for the good, though, so perhaps if it had gone through the date for the isometric appointment (finger printing) which I'm told comes really fast in the heels of submitting the application would have been during our trip to Florida, so maybe now it will be when we are back in a month. Hopefully. ]

Yeah... I was so mad and stressed out I didn't even want to look at the papers.

Second reason to be thankful (apart from the hypothetical one about the appointment) is that there were a few small mistakes in the form and we printed out some emails and receipts to prove our association memberships (they are all academic associations such as the MLA, BTW, I don't know why they would want to know that, but they do, just in case we're member of some iffy thing like a communist association or something).

OK. Fingers crossed that we won't get it all in the mail again next week. That would be upsetting!!We are submitting the same document copies -- which have received a line of printing at the bottom and even the same checks. It wouldn't be trouble to write new checks (they have only been stapled through, that's all), but making the document copies and notarizing the translation certification paper would be a pain. Sigh...

Wish us luck. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Week 4: Exercising and Helping Refugee Family

This has been the most intense week yet, bordering CRAZY intensive!

And I just had to create two new labels: Exercising and Helping/Volunteering. The second one is already a HUGE part of my life as you may recall from last year's post about my "'indiscriminate and reckless' helping," but this year the helping is quite difference and more practical.

OK, so thanks to my friends Laura & Cali I worked out SIX DAYS this week, starting Sunday, and for four days (Sunday to Wednesday) we did it at SEVEN IN THE MORNING! I never, ever, EVER even wake up at 7 am, only when I'm in a trip and have to. I'm a night owl, so I love sleeping in. I did, it though! And I've enjoyed working out a lot. It's mostly Barre led by our friend Laura, mixed with some Pop Physique (yesterday and today we actually did it with Pop Physique DVDs).

Starting Monday, I began to make and drink a green leaves (Kale, Collard greens) + frozen fruit + orange juice smoothie after I got home because I need the calcium. I am bound to have osteoporosis, given my slight frame and the fact that my mom has it really bad, so I need to do this: strength training (Time magazine from last week) and calcium rich foods.

I was really tired on the first few days, particularly because I didn't sleep much one one of the nights, but I've been getting enough sleep and also taking my medication some days (Wednesday and today), which helps with staying alert. I'm glad that many of our friends have been joining us in exercising, so I think that I'll be able to exercise a lot and be in incredible shape by the time we travel to Florida. This will be the first time in my life that I'll actually be pretty fit at the beach!!

I also helped the newly arrived refugee family this week a lot. They are from Congo (but lived in a refugee camp in Rwanda for the past 17 years) and have six kids, aged 20 to 6 years old. Last Saturday I drove them home from church (in a large 15 people van -- I hated driving it) and spent time with them walking to a local park (after we gave them a used soccer ball). Then I visited them Tu, Wed. and Thu. On Wednesday I also went grocery shopping for them, in addition to helping them learn how to use the cleaning products in the house and trying to teach them how to use a washer and drying (they still can't do it on their own).

Everything is new for them and they don't speak the language (only the dad speaks some French), so it's overwhelming both for them and for me. I hope to write more about this later, I need to go clean my house now, it's a wreck! (also because my husband has been working like crazy with summer teaching and we've been watching movies too). 

Friday, June 02, 2017

Week 2 Recap, Week 3 almost recap

I've been busy with all kinds of things lately.
                     ... this was the original first sentence of the post...

But week 3 is almost ending in a complete meltdown (mine), so I can hardly even think of whatever happened last week to try to recap it. Sigh...

So, yeah, last week was ok. I could have been more productive, but then, who couldn't?

I give you a tentative Week 2 recap (preview of all weeks here):
The party on Sunday was good, it was quite a success (because it ended up being a surprise for the graduate, even though she had cooked for our "Game night") and I have some photos for you! I like the cell phone ones better, but the blogger app doesn't work, so here are the DSLR camera ones. ;-P
 potato salad prepared by the unsuspecting graduate for her own party.
 Her husband took this one... you get to see my hair.
Passion fruit "mousse" (more like a cream ;-)
arepas! :-)

My brother-in-law arrived on Monday and K picked him up. I don't remember Monday -- oh, it's coming back to me now! On Monday I went with my son's class (and all the 5th and 6th graders at our school) to a water park. On Tuesday I missed the farmer's market. :-(
    BIL left on Wednesday morning to pick up my mother-in-law from the airport and that evening we had another game night, this time with our friend's brother just arrived from class trip.
    On Thursday I didn't go to yoga :-( and did three loads of laundry, when I was going to hang the first one, look what I encountered outside!!
 I hate snakes!
I had to force him not to play with it!
That evening we also had the 8th grade graduation and as a parent of a 7th grader I needed to stay and help with the cleaning. It was a great reception with TONS of food! Next year will be just as good, if not better! (we'll make sure it is).

On Friday it was K's birthday and I got up super-early (after having stayed late watching all the extras in the DVD of the movie we watched that night) to cook my husband breakfast (he had to go teach by 9 am). His mom and brother arrived in the afternoon (just as I'd left to go grocery shopping) and we spent the weekend with them (playing board games and talking, etc. --> I should have another post for board games. We like to play Dominion and Seven Wonders and we got Ticket to Ride Rails and Sails for K's birthday -- it's much better than plain TTR!).
         Week 3:
Thankfully K didn't have to work on Monday and when we went to eat out at Olive Garden to celebrate my youngest son's 13th birthday. I again cooked breakfast to serve in bed to him on Tuesday and mother- and brother-in-law left to New York where he was going to have a doctor's appointment on Wednesday.

What messed up week 3 (this week that hasn't ended yet) was putting this together, trying to mail it, figuring out we had forgotten a document, copying the document, writing a letter, getting it notarized, etc... and hence my almost meltdown. Good thing I mailed it today. Oh, yeah! And we've been having plumbing problems (leaky faucets and toilet tanks) and we finally had a plumber take care of it all yesterday afternoon. It sure is a relief to have a good plumber!

Oh, yeah, and we are sponsoring yet another family of refugees (the fourth one!). This time a family of 8 (6 children from 7-10, the oldest, at 23 had to stay behind) from the Congo. I cooked dinner for them yesterday and, with my not-so-good French tried to communicate as best as I could with the father of the family who speaks some French too. I should blog about this experience, I hope I can do it.

I also need to blog about the films we've been watching...

I hope this wasn't a too horribly boring "update" post!

Paying Up

OK, so this is it a quick note to inform you that we finally decided to "pay up" (1450 -- which would pay for airfare for both of us to Europe, or a really good TV or a respectable pc computer) and say "yes" to the whole "bearing arms" thing (the law won't require us old folks to do it, anyway) and the whole allegiance thing and become citizens.

I am not excited at all, but at least I'll be able to vote.

Sigh...
photographic evidence.

Monday, May 29, 2017

"Hypnotized"

This "late adopter" thing is annoying at times. I wish I'd seen this song/videoclip on March 2 when it came out. You may hate Coldplay (a lot of people hate really popular stuff, I realize that and I don't blame you), ;-P  but I enjoy their music and last year it helped me a lot. This is quite lovely and finding this out today means that I will be right on time for their June 2 EP release! ;-)
This (just found it too) is quite great too, with a dance-y vibe! I guess I should check out the Chainsmokers.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

"I am not throwing away my shot"

I am a very late adopter, so two years isn't that long when you consider how long it took me to adopt other items such as cell phones (2004), true smart phones (not until 2012 when we got iphones 5 years after they'd been available), and even digital cameras (we were not that late for those, 2003).

I've known about Hamilton through friends on Facebook and Twitter, but I hadn't really taken the time to check it out. Recently I found out my 15 year old son has been a fan for about a year and now I've finally taken the time to listen and I've become a huge fan too! Such an amazing, groundbreaking show! I'm truly thankful to LinManuel Miranda for introducing my son to Broadway musicals. I'm hoping I can show him some other ones (particularly Stephen Sondheim's) someday!

I don't have much to add, except to wonder why I didn't get into it sooner, and to ask: are you, or have you been (since I'm so late) a fan of Hamilton? Just curious.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

14 Weeks of Break

I just realized that there are 14 weeks of break until I go back to work. Well, technically 13 because the first week just ended!

And I just calculated how my year (and my husband's) goes:

17 weeks Spring Semester + 14 of Summer + 17 Fall Semester + 4 Winter Break = 52 weeks.

I like it this way, I just think know I should be more productive each summer. I mean... there are three main kinds of  "productivity" that I'd like to have and which are hard to achieve:
1) get some academic writing done and, possibly, prepare some materials for Fall;
2) get the yard/garden in shape (in spite of the horrible summer heat -- this one is OH SO HARD!)
3) do some home renovations -- paint large portions of the house, renovate the kitchen (pending upon $ for appliances, counter top (granite!)+ sink, floors (probably synthetic again) and back splash (real tiles!), oh, and re-stain the deck -- this one will be done no matter what.

Last, but not least, I want to do a breakdown of the 14 weeks of Summer break -- maybe I can try to figure out how best to plan for the things I'd like or should do.

Week 1: Finished grading on Monday -- HURRAY! I went to the outlet on Tuesday after dropping of a friend at the airport. Had a fun relaxing time & bought at least one important item: ski jacket for my 15 year old at Columbia. Deeply discounted. I exercised, did some volunteering at the elementary school, had friends for lunch yesterday. Watched a movie! Signed up for DVD/Bluray Netflix so I can catch up on movies from the past few years. YES, actual Blurays 'cause you can't stream most movies, I HATE that!!!

Week 2: Scheduled: Party for a friend graduating from medical school today (I have to clean the garage for that); field trip tomorrow; take older kid and friends to movies on Wed. to celebrate last day of school; help with 8th grade graduation Thursday. Watch movies (first this one to prepare for Wednesday).
Tentative Plans: I should start writing an abstract for a paper I'd been solicited (I didn't tell you that, right? yeah! Mixed feelings about it) and work on the house/yard.

Week 3: Scheduled: My youngest turns 13 on Tuesday -- have friends over, plan a surprise (he wants to ride a train, not that easy to plan). Boys start swim team Mon-Th. Youngest will also start French-horn lessons and oldest should start online classes (he wants to do geometry and Spanish 1, I don't know if he'll do it, don't know how much they'd cost).
Tentative Plans: Try to get some things done! Watch more movies.

Week 4: Scheduled: Swim team Mon-Th. evenings; French horn, maybe piano lessons.
Tentative Plans: Get stuff done ;-P Watch movies.

Week 5: Scheduled: Swim team Mon-Th. evenings; French horn, maybe piano lessons.
Tentative Plans: Get stuff done ;-P Watch movies and cancel Nexflix DVD before free trial ends. (LOL!)

Week 6: Scheduled: Swim team Mon-Th. evenings; French horn, maybe piano lessons. Leave for FL on Friday.
Tentative Plans: Get stuff done ;-P Prepare to travel

Week 7: Scheduled: Visit friends in Florida; 3 days in Orlando, drive to Pensacola are
Tentative Plans: Maybe go to one theme park (Islands of Adventure)? Or just relax...

Week 8: Scheduled: Spend week with K's mother and brothers in rental beach house in the Florida Panhandle.
Tentative Plans: Just relax -- celebrate my birthday and my nephew's (same day! --> post I wrote when he was born) for the first time.

Week 9: Scheduled: Visit New Orleans and drive up stopping in Monroeville (of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird fame) and possibly other civil-rights locations, Selma, Montgomery?
Tentative Plans: Visit friends in Tennessee before driving up home.

Week 10: Scheduled: I will teach a private class for six hours a day + 2.5 hours of driving. Resume French horn/piano?
Tentative Plans: Don't think I can handle much more, maybe more movies (ha ha ha!). Ideally, work on the house.

Week 11: Scheduled: same as last week  
Tentative Plans: same

Week 12: Scheduled: Mon-Tue: I go to a workshop on language teaching at a university in DC. Drive to Canada towards the end of the week.
Tentative Plans: try to do whatever is needed before it's too late. ;-P Stop in New England before reaching Canada?

Week 13: Scheduled: Nephew's 3rd birthday party (his first actual party, poor baby -- his brother had several and a huge 1st b-day one) and drive back home. 
Tentative Plans: Maybe a Coldplay concert in Montreal?? (I really want to go!) Stop somewhere fun (NYC?) on the way back.

Week 14: Scheduled: kids start school    
Tentative Plans: get prepared for teaching the following week.

Conclusion: I can only really get some work done on Weeks 4-6 -- scary thought! In any case, if I come up with any more detailed plans for those weeks, I'll let you know. ;-) ;-P

Monday, May 15, 2017

FINALLY DONE!

I am so relieved that I am done. I regret (as always) that I procrastinated grading their online homework so much and left it for the very last minute. I MUST do better next semester, seriously, and not only because it's going to be insane because I'll have a minimum of 54 -- FIFTY FOUR! -- beginner level students.

I think I'll start a new thing, a strategy that may be helpful to us -- I'll separate students by Spanish native speakers versus non-native Spanish speakers and try to prepare materials and assessment tools for each group.

I need to prepare some material over the summer, though... which is always highly unlikely.

Did I mention to you that I'm teaching private lessons for two weeks late in July? That will be intense and tiresome, but maybe I can use some of that time to prepare materials? ;-)

I'm also going to participate in an ACTFL workshop that I hope will help me be a better language teacher.

I loved loved loved teaching literature and it was WONDERFUL to feel very confident and quite on top of my game teaching what I'm really prepared for. Only the Lord knows when I'll get to do it again, but I don't have a lot of hard feelings about that at the moment, I'm at peace, at least for the time being. Sigh...

OK, I still can't believe I'm done. With 22h to spare before the deadline -- which is NOT good in any way, but better than on the very due date, right? RIGHT?! ;-)

And let the summer begin! Hopefully I'll be doing some gardening and cleaning up and -- MAYBE -- some things around the house??

Sunday, May 14, 2017

So close to done!

Just a quick update as I take a moment to breath while grading.
(Warning: this is a most boring post about grading!)

I am this close to finishing all my grading. I'm sorry it took me several days (4!) to respond to your question, What Now?, but classes ended for me on Monday 5/2, that's why I was able to travel with my son's robotics team to California for six days.

We returned on the day of my first final (last Monday 5/8), but I needed to ask a friend to administer that exam because we were supposed to get back at noon and the exam was at 9 am (in the end we got delayed and got back only 3 pm). I gave another final last Tuesday and then it was hard to get all the grading started because I was exhausted, had laundry to catch up on, went back to exercising with some friends in the morning, and I participated in some activities in my youngest son's school (in addition to driving the boys back and forth from home to school and vice-versa).

Once I got started, it wasn't very bad. I graded all final papers for my literature class on Thursday and got started with the 9 page long final exams. I finished grading those on Friday, but couldn't get much done because I had to drive 3 hours for a half an hour meeting with some colleagues and the department chair (I will reveal the subject of the meeting later).

I took my 24h Sabbath break (in which I actually was very busy preparing food and coordinating the church potluck lunch) which was extended by a few hours because of the final Spring concert of my son's high school -- he's in band, orchestra and choir. He actually won an award of one of the "Best Newcomers" in Band!! We were so happy and pleasantly surprised!! After the concert, I graded one last paper and submitted the lit class grades and now, all that stands between me and being DONE is a bunch of online work (compositions, reflections). I am almost done with their online homework on the textbook's website.

Checking work online is VERY tedious and I still have some PTSD from my HORRENDOUS University of Phoenix/Axia College stint back in 2009-10. That was awful.

So... I'm hoping to be done tonight, but I'm afraid I'll fall asleep while trying to check online work. We'll see, maybe I'll drink some tea, eat some dark chocolate, and I'll succeed. Wish me luck! I'll let you know when I get done.

P.S. oh, and it was mother's day, so my husband and younger son prepared breakfast and brought it to me in bed (I was anxious to start grading, but had to wait 50 minutes for them to come in. Then, I didn't get started until noon -- bad bad me!). And this evening we had an event at the elementary school with the families of the robotics team. It was nice, but I cooked and made a mess in the kitchen (again) for my poor husband. He came to log in a gentle complaint a few minutes ago and I felt bad for the mess I made. OK, now back to grading!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

In Closing (last post on the unsynchronized trips)

I don't know the dates of next year's trips yet, and maybe they won't be back to back like this year. One thing I do know, we'll have to add one more trip to the mix! In addition to Music Tour for Kelvin, Bell Tour and Robotics Trip for L, there will be L's 8th grade class trip! I clearly remember missing Kelvin last year...

Then, for two years the boys will be attending the same high school (if we don't end up sending one of them to Brazil for a semester or a year) and having the same Music Tour, but Kelvin will have the Junior Class New England history and literature tour and then Senior Class trip.

Spring semester is a busy one for sure, but I CAN'T WAIT for them to be in college so we can at least (maybe? if we all stay in this state?) have the same Spring Break and hopefully plan a family trip again. Nothing will be worse than the three weeks of Spring Breaks in 2013: K had his at U1 (and partly me too since I taught a class there), then I had mine at U2 and then the boys had theirs. Boo!

OK, I should be grading, but here I am... sigh... I hope to finish by Friday!

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Reunited! (and now it's time for grading) ;-P

Yesterday our family was reunited again in a very unlikely place, an airport!! I was glad to see my oldest son again after two weeks away from him (we missed him by a couple of hours last Tuesday when they arrived in the same airport from which we departed).

While my youngest son and I were gone to Northern California, we were going to miss several graduations, including that of my husband's cousin and his wife (and to top it off they just had a baby last January) which was going to happen in Michigan. On Thursday, K decided to get tickets with some of our United miles for him and Kelvin and they ended up going to surprise the cousins! It turns out that K's younger brother ("K4") and his family were driving down from Canada too and they almost surprised one another!

They were able to catch a ride to the airport on Friday and I was going to pick them up yesterday at a different airport from the one we were landing. We both lost our second flights back (us from Detroit, him from Chicago) so he and Kelvin were able to change their flights to come to the same airport we were flying into! He arrived 20 minutes before we did!

After sleeping for over 11 hours I am still a bit tired (we caught a red-eye flight back from San Francisco, then missed our connecting flight which was only 25 minutes after the other anyway -- so it was our fault when purchasing the ticket), but I have to administer a final exam this afternoon and grade like there's no tomorrow. ;-)

I'm sure it will go by relatively fast, though and I'm looking forward to being done in a few days!!!

This trip was one of the best trips of my life, seriously!!! The weather was AH-MA-ZING!!! Two days in San Francisco, a day in Yosemite, a couple of day in Auburn (we were going to Lake Tahoe, but it was raining AND snowing! The only time the weather didn't help us), the competition in the outskirts of Sacramento (which we didn't get to see, but I'm ok with that). I'll share lots of photos of landscapes later! Now I have to finish two loads of laundry and drive to give the final at 2 pm.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Glimpses of the "Day of the Lost Photos"

scheduled post :-)

Here are some photos my youngest son took last year on May 31st, the day I took hundreds of gorgeous photos which got accidentally deleted from the memory card. :-(
The saddest part is that my parents were with us and they also took very few photos, so we only have my oldest son's photos and videos (lots of it thankfully, but which he never takes time to edit) to remember the day by.

I never mentioned that my youngest son called me A LOT during his trip (7 times on the Thursday of the trip, plus texting) and that was great! Kelvin has called me twice from Costa Rica, on Friday morning and Saturday night. I was very thankful and happy!