Friday, May 13, 2016

Almost over... and, Broken (by the grading)

This year the grading broke me.

I mean, it wasn't the grading, it was the online homework that many students didn't complete that broke me. I didn't check it until the very end, as I usually do (because it's time consuming), but this year, I decided I was going to be more strict and really take points off for late submission. After all, they were aware of the deadline. Until... I realized that several students had NOT done the work.

And some of those were really good students who were doing well. Some of them contacted me after the final yesterday, when they saw the damage their lack of homework had inflicted on their grade. Some of them actually had a good reason -- that made me think that I could maybe bend the rules, but I can't do that for the past, only for the future -- they said that they left the online homework to do before the final so they could use it to study. Fair enough, but still, I had already taken points from everyone for lateness and it would take A LOT of time to go change everyone's grades at this point (8 lessons and several hundred online activities to scroll through in the report).

It's technically their fault, not mine, that they didn't do the work, but I feel horribly guilty and broken nevertheless. I contacted a student (who was not doing that well and who had done next to nothing of the homework, at the time I hadn't yet checked the other students), but I must have written the wrong words, because this student responded back with a negative tone and... worst of all, even after I wrote that the work could be accepted late (but for less credit) this student didn't get the work done. (and didn't do well in the final). It's hard not to feel it's partly my fault, because I contacted the student trying to help and it had the opposite result. :-(

I keep telling myself that even though the assignments are in the syllabus, I should have emphasized in class that they NEED to be done. And I do think I said it a few times. I am quire sure that the students knew that they were 20% of the grade.

I still feel broken. And I feel responsible -- because I was the one teaching more classes than I should and not putting in more time into working with my students.

I'm sad and upset about all this. There is no way to really fix it. I have allowed some students to do the rest of the work for partial credit even though I didn't want to. Students with As on the final exam and Cs on their homework. :-(

This will be bitter a lesson, for them and for me. I wish the end of this semester didn't have to be bitter like this. I hope next school year will be better. I feel this semester was the worst one ever. :-(

Edited to add: I'm feeling a little better and more hopeful after grading some compositions and getting ready to leave everything ready to submit once the "late work" I'm allowing is submitted. Sigh... I hate grading. It's like passing judgment one someone, I just don't like to do it.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

My parents are here! After 5 years not visiting.

In the meantime, we visited Brazil twice and met them in other parts of the world (South Africa into 2012 and  in the Middle east and Europe in 2015), but it is so good to have them back at our house for an extended visit!

I am driving home and hoping that they will already be there. We will pick up the boys from school and later on go to their piano recital. That's why my parents came for one evening visit. They return to my uncle's house tomorrow morning, and then come back on Saturday to stay!

I'm very happy!

Edited to add, at 4 pm: they were not here when I arrived, but I'm hoping they will soon be... Sigh... I don't like it that they don't have their cell phone working. I'll let you know when they're here!

5 pm: They arrived!

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Should we be freaking out?? :-(

Independents WON'T vote for Hillary, is it possible that a crazed outspoken, racist, bigot, anti-women, billionaire celebrity with no substance and questionable morals could really become president to this nation? :-(

I wish Bernie had a real chance. Independents WILL vote for him. 

What is going to happen? I can't believe it has come to this. But we obviously have had it coming for years.


Tuesday, May 03, 2016


I can't believe I'm late for my first final exam. :-( 

Class is at 2, exam was at 1 and I was on "automatic pilot" and forgot. 

Sigh... Hope it all goes well.

The Third "Last Day"

This semester I have five "last days" -- last Thursday was the first, the last day of classes at U#1. Yesterday, was the second one, last day of classes at U#2.

Today is the (first and) last day of exams for me at U#1 and I have two days of exams at U#2, this Thursday and next week on Thursday.

Yeah, this CRAZY semester of teaching is drawing to an end, as well as the insane four years of teaching at two universities. I am not at all sad about it all ending, except maybe for earning a bit less (2-3K), but I'll be doing LESS WORK and being paid nearly the same.

I am cautiously optimistic about trying to slowly go back to my main research project (from my crazy 500 page dissertation). I already have a conference presentation in October and I want MORE!! Sigh... the plan is to integrate the research to my teaching and even apply for an internal grant for it. We'll see how it goes. Sigh...

I can't wait to have some free days, but before I have to face all these last days, all the grading and, next week, an intense conference in which I'll be helping out. Probably in exchange for a few free meals and perhaps good interactions and networking, but maybe there will be some payment (if funding comes through for my friend the organizer).

I'm mentally spent, exhausted really. I think this was the worst semester yet, not in craziness of hours of teaching (that was the Fall of 2013 -- utter insanity), but teaching with a brand new book and, "tele-teaching" FIVE days a week (that hadn't happened before, it was always only Tu/Th). This takes a lot of energy, not to mention the stress and claustrophobic feeling of teaching in a room without windows, in the basement of a building (for 4-5 hours straight on Tu/Th -- teaching and then preparing materials, printing, etc).

Today is my last day in the teleconference room. YAY!! I'm moving on and I won't look back (remember I was counting the days?). Phew!!

Friday, April 29, 2016


"These are great pants! I love them!" Said the lady crossing paths with me at the university and smiling. 

"Thanks!" I reply, also smiling now. And I didn't even have time to say, "Yeah, I got them in the girl clothes' section at Target!" ;-)

I'm not afraid to wear bright colors, that's for sure! And while hot pink is not one of my favorite colors, I'll gladly wear it:
Written on Wednesday 4/27.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

My "Baby" is Back Home & My Parents Arrived Safely in the U.S.

On Sunday night, my 14 year-old son returned from a six-day trip to Florida with his school's bell choir. We all missed him so much! (especially mama here, sigh...) He's a joy to be around and I'm thrilled that he's back, ready to experience his last month of Elementary school. His 8th grade graduation is precisely a month from today. I am so proud of the young man he is becoming, so responsible, so poised, so intelligent and determined. When they get their yearbooks I'll share here what I wrote to him there. It was hard to write only 150 words.

This morning my parents arrived safely in the U.S., flying into NY and then taking a connecting flight into D.C. I'm sad that they won't arrive at our house until next week because they will be helping my aunt with my uncle Oseas, my dad's younger brother. He was left permanently disabled by the removal of a benign brain tumor back in 2009 and needs around-the-clock care. My aunt is taking this opportunity of my parents coming to take a break for a week traveling with her sister.

It feels very strange to have them in the country and not to have even talked to them yet. My mom thinks it's unnecessary for me to go see them now, especially because we're horribly busy with the last week of our semester. I wanted to go see them on Saturday, but we have an event with our church, so maybe we'll go Saturday afternoon. Sigh...

I can't believe the semester is almost over!

Friday, April 22, 2016

I forgot to blog about Brasil...

Last Sunday, after a weekend of upheaval in the Brazilian Congress -- speeches ALL NIGHT from Friday to Saturday and all day Saturday, arguing pro and against impeaching the current president Dilma Rousseff -- they voted to begin impeachment proceedings.

I watched/listened to the voting live while I pulled weeds from my backyard for hours! It was very entertaining and very depressing, all at the same time. 

(Since I'm writing this on my phone, I was going to insert various sadness and frustration emoticons here, and then thought that those aren't really part of blog writing... Sigh! Texting and social media commenting are ruining our writing, no?) :-( 

It was depressing, almost alarming to watch the vote, because it was a true snapshot of the population of the country. Many uneducated folks, making errors while speaking, invoking the most disparate reasons for voting "Yes" and "dedicating" their votes to every member or their family in shameless family and self promotion (a very Brazilian thing BTW).  An analysis of their "speeches" would enable a researcher to find out the most popular baby names in the country for the past 10-20 years (Sophia is wildly popular).

The representatives against the impeachment, many from the president's party (the Worker's Party), and every single member of the Communist Party, were in the minority's and were, for the most part, very articulate, unlike the riotous majority. Oh, and it was a circus, the voting was!! Booing, screaming, crowding around the microphone, insulting the president of the Congress/Speaker of the House (also being indicted for corruption), not to mention the crazy "celebrity" representatives-- this guy who won the Big Brother Brazil competition who spat (yes, spat!!) on another guy who dared praise a horrid torturer from the military dictatorship years (the man who tortured Dilma Rousseff). 

Sigh... It was interesting to see the reaction of all my friends on Facebook, ashamed of the spectacle, of our country. I had friends who were very happy with the results (367 in favor of the impeachment, 137 against) and had actually gone to watch with the crowds in the center of the city of São Paulo. 

Now the Senate will decide whether to impeach her or not, but it's pretty much a fait accompli, it's a given that she'll be impeached. And nobody knows what is going to happen because the vice-president is also implicated in the corruption scandal as well as the "speaker of the house," Eduardo Cunha who was insulted countless times on Sunday, but still maintained a "Cheshire Cat-like" grin most of the time. 

Sigh... What will happen to our country? :-(

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Your own kind of beautiful

I couldn't resist and bought this for me a couple of months ago. It hangs right next to my closet!

Oh, and somedays, one's hair is just cuter than on other days! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

On being "cute"

I don't know what got into me, but I felt like writing this post.
I am kind of cute. You can tell me that I'm "beautiful" all you want, and I respect your opinion, but I know the truth.

There are "drop-dead-gorgeous" people (extremely rare), there are not-very-good-looking people and then there are millions of us in the middle, kind of cute, almost pretty, pleasant looking, but not really beautiful. 

I had a keen awareness of this from a very young age for two reasons (and I am being as vague as possible on purpose). My younger brother is one of those truly good looking people and everyone told me that I looked like someone and my honest assessment was that that person wasn't beautiful.

Sigh... this is not a big deal and I am very self-confident, I love my body (for the most part), my curls, my cute derrière and I know that, all things considered, I look pretty good. In addition being small and relatively skinny (and fitting into clothes sold to teenage girls) makes lots of people jealous (some of whom don't hesitate to tell me so to my face).

Oh, and there's this small detail, I'm EXTREMELY photogenic -- I am one of those lucky folks that looks really good in photos, always. But looking good in photographs (which is where some of you may gather your idea that I'm beautiful) does not mean that a person is indeed beautiful.

I don't know where I am going with this, so I know I shouldn't even be writing it (whatever!), but I've been thinking about this often lately. When I see people with gorgeous long hair, which I know I can't ever have or when I catch a glimpse of one of those rare gorgeous folks. Or when I wake up and look in the mirror and think I look "ugly" that day (I know, NOT true! But some days are harder than others).

I have also had these funny conversations with my husband, who is definitely also cute. When he praises my beauty I tease him a little and say that I'm merely "cute" and that I'm special to him for other reasons, not just my physical "beauty." And I joke with him that none of us could have married a truly "beautiful" person, that we're the perfect fit in terms our appearance.

Last, but not least, I love cute clothes and outfits, so I often look "cute" because of what I wear. I've wanted to blog about clothes and fashion forever and maybe someday I will. I'll let you know if I do!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

He skipped two whole sizes! ;-)

Two years ago, when my eldest son had turned 12, the pediatrician warned me: "Buy him only one pair of pants and one pair of shoes because he's going to be growing like crazy in the coming year!"

I laughed to myself because I have always bought my boys multiple pairs of pants, shorts, polo shirts (their school wear), but thankfully they generally have only one pair of sneakers and one pair of dress shoes (ok, until size 4 youth they also had another pair of brown or khaki color dressy shoes, I like them to look sharp in church every week!).

The pediatrician wasn't kidding. Once Kelvin started growing, he grew like ...whoa! Last year in the Spring he went through 3 pairs/sizes of dress shoes in five months, and because he was performing with his bell choir and school band & choir I had to get him new ones every time – good thing his younger brother gets to wear every single one!

This year it was pants that he outgrew at an outstanding pace. I bought and had to return several pairs, to Kelvin's great triumph and delight! He would try a brand new pair of pants and it would be tight! 
He went from size 12-14 khakis (which he mostly wears to perform with the bell choir) straight to 18 -- 16 wouldn't fit him! At least size 16 jeans are ok (for now). Well, I better check his black pants before he leaves on his Florida tour with the bell choir next week!!

This was written 2 days ago, & didn't publish for some reason.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Letting Go...

just a quick update to say I decided not to go to Ohio. (a few people asked me off blog about that)


It's hard to let go, but in this case I just had to. It would be too great an expense without funding from the university. Sigh...

Someday I'll go to Columbus and meet Dawn, Jenna, maybe even Amber! AND -- I really need to visit two other places in the same trip: Pittsburgh and Cedar Point!! I've always dreamed of going to Cedar Point.

Let's dream on.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

New Book! Catastrophic Happiness

[photo to be added tomorrow]
Gone are the "good old days" when I'd get books before their release date to review on my blog.


I was thrilled to find out that Catherine Newman (of Ben & Birdy fame) was going to publish a new book! I was a faithful reader of the Raising Ben (Then Ben & Birdy) Baby Center column and I loved her first book, Waiting for Birdy.

Catastrophic Happiness: Finding Joy in Childhood's Messy Years, arrived today and although I have only read for about an hour, I really love it.

I will write a proper review after I've finished reading it, but for now, I just wanted to register my happiness in getting a book on the day of its publication!