Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I really don't know...

... why I'm not blogging more or, I mean, much, or at all.

There's no good reason, perhaps the main one is that I have the (probably correct) impression nobody reads anymore, it's no longer a community. And I HATE that I spend so much time on stupid Facebook because I want to continue to have some relationship with people I met through blogging.

Sigh... such a lame reason to waste time on social media!

Everything is going ok. My title at work has changed. It's supposed to make us feel less bad, or to make us almost believe that I actually have some professional dignity dignity. It's the same title of TT faculty, with "General Faculty" attached at the end.

It's a cosmetic change. No pay raise, no other benefits. More work because some service will be required -- they need more people to populate committees that will "promote" other faculty to the same "fake" rank.

I am sorry if I am horribly bitter about all this. I have hardly had the courage to blog about it... it is what it is. I will, after my review next year, have some actual stability, and that's good, but I want to be able to take a semester leave without losing my job so my husband can take a sabbatical and we can go live in Europe for about 6 months. Maybe it will be possible -- but by then the kids will be older and probably won't come with us. :-(

I am not very happy about my teaching, as usual... but everything is going ok.

I have a trip coming up, but I hope to blog about that in a separate post.

My mom turns 77 in 4 days and my dad will be 80 in two weeks -- that's the reason of my trip, BTW.

OK, more later!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Exhilarating Day in Parenting and Teaching

Wow... what a long day it has been!

The first day your child drives you somewhere, not just through a small town, but, after successfully driving on a minor highway for a bit, takes you back home on the interstate for about 15 miles is quite exhilarating! He'd driven around quite a bit on country roads and parking lots and while other parents may not have dared to do such a thing, I'm glad I did. He did a wonderful job!

Within the first few minutes down the highway he asked me whether to set up cruise control one would just press the button and when said yes, he did, and fiddled a bit with the + and - buttons. Then I mentioned that he could step on the brakes to turn off cruise control to which he replied, "I know mom, I read the car manual!" and (I paraphrase here) "I know all the theory, now I'm getting the practice." Impossible not to ADORE this kid of mine!

And as he drove, and I used my phone and just relaxed, occasionally pointing out something he could improve on or sharing things I do or that happen when I drive, I remembered the day, many years in the past, ok, maybe only about 8 years ago, when we were talking about something Kelvin enjoyed to do and he turned to me and said "Mom, you know how I feel about machines!" That's my boy who will build computers and new "information age" paraphernalia someday. His love for machines does shine through in intense desire to drive a car.

Then, he again drove me to my husband's university where I dropped him off (dad wasn't lucky to be driven by him because out other car is a stick shift!) ;-P and drove on to U#2 where we were opening a film festival today! The first film was Brazilian and I introduced it. Many of my students came and it was a great success! Now I need to go to bed, even though I'm quite awake after drinking some guarana (very caffeinated Brazilian soda).

Oh, yeah, and before my son got his permit, he had a dentist's appointment and I was seen too, because I had a crown put in last week and it was bothering me.

(this is the most boring way ever to end a post, but here you go!)

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Alive, busy, happy

I'm alive, very busy (not excessively so, thankfully! Leisure time guaranteed), and happy.

I was angsty before the semester started, for several reasons, but now I feel quite at peace, which is great. We're much more organized this year, my husband is helping with making a meal plan for the week and we're spending less and eating better!

OK, I'm about to drive 80 miles in pouring rain, so hopefully I'll continue to be fine. I always think about my probability of being in an accident, but there's nothing I can do. It's how I operate, it doesn't make me less happy. ;-)

I added so many labels to this tiny post, it's quite funny! I hope to blog again soon.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Many Firsts

Some aren't especially significant -- my first day of teaching was two days ago on Wednesday, my husband's is coming up on Monday. Other firsts are true milestones, though...

... last week, before his first day of school, my firstborn shaved for the first time (mostly his "mustache" area). I feel so wistful about that!

... on my youngest son's first day of school (last week on Wednesday) he rode his bike to school (with my husband riding alongside) and rode back on his own. Our eldest also rode a bike to & from school (borrowed from his dad, see next item) a few times in the past week.

... yesterday my husband rode his new electric bike all the way from work (18 miles!). He's not planning to do that everyday and probably not both ways, but he's excited about the possibility of saving gas and exercising, even if will take in over an hour.

... yesterday my youngest son had braces put in. He is not very happy about it, but I'm hoping he'll get used to them soon.

Life is always changing, some times more noticeably than others.

Oh, yeah, and only four days ago we saw our very first total eclipse of the sun. An AMAZING, indescribable experience. If you're my friend on facebook (and you're welcome to be!) I posted 64 photos yesterday, check them out!

I hope to post a few here too... we'll see.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Path of Totality

We are headed to TN in a few minutes to see the eclipse. We had plans to stay at a friend's house, but it turns out this friend moved to Florida! But we have more friends! Brazilians, particularly those who have a worldwide church network like we do, have friends EVERYWHERE. So I contacted my other friend last night. It turns out she has a farm, in the middle of nowhere, but it's pretty much in the center of the path of totality!!!

My husband the scientist is beyond thrilled! The pre- and post-eclipctic traffic will probably be truly apolcalyptic, but we're doing this anyway. Wish us luck! I'll try to keep you posted. Kids are missing school for this. OK, gotta go!

Monday, August 14, 2017

The best thing about the first day of Sophomore year...

... is that we're all much less nervous about the whole thing.

K has been at the school all year and has done wonderfully well. He gained so much confidence (being the best kid in his grade in some Match test competition) that he did the whole book of Geometry over the summer so he can test out of it and take Pre-Calculus. The test is tomorrow and I'm a bit nervous, but I think he'll pass it. Better to do this than to be stuck all year in a too-easy class.

He will continue to work in the IT department with some of his best friends, be very involved with music (in the band, orchestra, and choir), and we are getting him a new bike so he can go to school and come back by himself. It will only take him a few minutes more than us driving him and he'll be independent.

I was going to say a few more things in this post that was meant to be cheerful and celebrate my son's first day of school, but after reading several news articles, writing this post, and missing a dentist appointment because I completely forgot about it (which made me even more upset), I'll leave it at this... I hope this Monday gets better soon! Sigh...

This weekend

I cannot say much about this weekend because of the semi-anonymous nature of this blog, which is already saying too much.

All I will say is that when I picked up my phone after lunch with our family and visiting family on Saturday and began to be really upset and worked up about what a lot of my friends were posting, I had to stop and try put it out of my mind. After venting a little to my brother- and sister-in-law (subject for another blog post!) I had to just be quiet and not think about it because were preparing for a surprise birthday party that was going to happen in my backyard in just a few hours and I knew I just couldn't even begin to talk to most people at this party about what was happening. :-( One of our close church friends has an NRA sticker in the back of the family van. Nice people who are just so clueless about their privilege and the consequences of their political stance.

This disconnect between our church and school community and our values, our commitment to social justice,* and our political leaning sometimes make us feel lonely and frustrated. It's a "neutral" enough community -- most people aren't really politically engaged and controversial topics aren't brought up, but the school... (I mean the boarding high school who just started school) is composed of a near majority of kids of color and I feel for those kids. We need to do more for those kids, not to keep them in a "bubble" which is kind of what the school already is, but to also prepare them to face their world (which most of their teachers and school administrators don't really understand. Sigh...). 

OK, let me now go try and finish this "fluffy" post about my kid's newly started first-day of school. 

* I just found out reading news this weekend that "they" label us "Marxist" or  SJW - Social Justice Warriors - UGH!!!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

5 Excellent Exercises to Prevent Back Pain -- "bookmark" :-)

I'm embedding this video here as a bookmark because I want to be able to easily go back to these exercises! I should totally do this more often, or save links by writing blog posts. In any case, I'm pretty new to exercising regularly, so I guess I will learn more effective ways to do it as I go along! I found this video in a Time magazine "newsletter" article about Leg Cramps! They also have a good video about the benefits of jumping rope which I'm not embedding here.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Better

I'm feeling way better, and I'm happy to report that I have 26 students now instead of only 18. I still have quite a way to go to reach 54 and maybe I won't reach full capacity in all three sections, but I'm hoping! In the past six years I've had two full sections, bursting at the seams (sometimes I squeezed 19-21 even though the official limit is 18), with many students unable to get in.

Well, I want to try to write some "update" posts about the past four weeks, I hope to be able to do it soon. I'm also working on a post about all the movies I watched this summer (all but one at home), so I'll be back!

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Freaking out

I was trying my best not to be negative, to be patient, and not to freak out, but now I'm in full blown freak out mode. :-(

Sigh...

Every semester for the past six years my two language classes have been PACKED in the Fall and there have been waiting lists of students trying to register. They enroll by permission only (except for one summer two years ago) so I can screen prospective students and give priority to freshmen to sophomore since seniors won't be able to take more classes after their last year and we need students to take several classes or our tiny program will die. Because of this, I spend all summer checking the student registration website periodically, granting permission and keeping track of  enrollment requests.

In order to document the interest in the class I have been copying and pasting every single permission request -- a tedious task -- and then marking the students who enroll, as well as those who enroll and later drop and those who never enroll. I also email the seniors and ask them to wait for late July when I can begin to let them register.

In past years, by late July the classes were nearly full already and I generally could only let a handful of seniors enroll, if any. Because there was a consistent number of students who could not enroll every Fall, my colleague decided to open a THIRD section this Fall.

Well... guess what?

I have never had so few permission requests come in since I started keeping track!! :-( I should probably have granted permission for the seniors earlier (there were quite a few of them), and by the time I finally did two weeks ago, very few enrolled. Their requests have since expired (and disappeared) and I will have to look for each of their emails and contact them because I am DESPERATE.

And the worst of the worst is that in the three sections of the class, right now, the number of students enrolled is enough to fill ONE SINGLE SECTION! [insert despair and dismay face here]

Please pray for me if you're the praying kind. I have been praying about this not only every time I login to the website and open the word document where I keep track, but also every time I think about the Fall classes (which is quite often).

All through July I have been telling myself to "calm down because everything will work out in the end," but now I'm not so sure. I am dreading the moment my colleague decides to check on enrollment and emails me. Please please please let more people enroll before s/he checks!!!!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Week 8: Our very first week at a beach in the U.S. in 21 Years!

In all these 21 years living here we had only been to the beach to spend a few hours or the day. Some of the beaches we'd gone to were: Block Island (RI), Brigantine Beach and Island Beach State Park in NJ (this last one is the one we went to the most, 3-4 times, to spend the day when we lived in Philly -- we even had a wedding there once!), Flagler and Matanzas beaches in FL.

So of course our very first time spending a whole week at the beach had to be in one of the most amazing stretches of coast in the whole country (close to Destin, FL)!! So now we won't want to go to any "blah" places after this. I only took my Nikon DSLR camera to the beach on the next to last afternoon and morning, and took over 4GB of photo then. We also took lots of photos on different cell phones (the best of which was my MIL's iPhone 7 plus), but I don't have those photos in my external hard drive yet.

Here is a selection of some of the beach photos of the last evening and day!

 Evening of 7/6:
 My birthday, 7/7! 
(all these were taken with a 70-300mm zoom lens)
 All 7 kids 3-13:
(15 year old missing, he arrived very late at the beach)
This is what the 15 year old did when he got to the beach:
It was wonderful!

Busy Weeks 5-6 (Before & After Photos!)

I've almost forgotten weeks 5-6 already, but I'd like to write about them before I write about weeks 8 & 9 and before grueling weeks 10 & 11 begin tomorrow.

I guess I could sum up weeks 5-6 in a few words: working out, helping refugee family, swim meets, house guests, French horn lessons, yard work and house cleaning. I guess having that followed by week 7 was perfect, no?

On week 5 we didn't have the house guests yet (my brother-in-law and his family and my mother-in-law), they arrived on Monday of week 6, but we had a swim meet (only my oldest son competed this year) and a French horn lesson and I worked out every day with my friends in the morning in addition to spending some time helping the refugees. We started cleaning the yard -- my husband began to use our brand new pressure washer and he loved it! I took tons of before and after photos and will share some below.

On week 6, the family arrived on Monday and I continued exercising in the morning (my sister-in-law joined us for two days and was really sore) and even did double workouts on Thursday going to yoga and feeling the strongest ever. SIL and I went to the Farmer's market and I helped the refugee again for several hours on Thursday and Friday. We had a swim meet in our town and Grandma got to see her oldest grandson swimming, but K was late with my younger son and our nephews and they missed Kelvin's races.

Before, WIP (work in progress), and After photos, I tried to select as few as possible, but I take too many photos!
The most satisfying before & after set: 
power washing:
 Cleaning back brick patio:
weeding, power washing, spreading new sand:
 Weeding back flower bed:
April,then June, WIP, mulched
 Last, but not least, weeding.
Raised bed, and some of the back (WIP) --
the part with the most poison-ivy.
  It was because of this weeding (and also hugging my cats) that I got some poison ivy right before we traveled. :-(

P.S. I also changed the knobs of the vanities in our three bathrooms, but I only have before and WIP photos so maybe I'll share those another time, together with the 2011 photos of the before & after of kitchen cabinet knobs! ;-P