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!