Sunday, May 29, 2016

Manhattan, I've missed you!

Photo taken from the George Washington Bridge

I used to come visit nearly every year during our 8 years in MA. And for the six years we lived in Philly our Brazilian consulate was here, so we came for passports for the boys and for dropping and picking up up family at the airport. I took the boys to various playgrounds at the Central Park several times & felt like a local even though I lived a couple of hours away.

In 2008, on the way back after my dissertation defense, we stopped here on a whim on Memorial Day and took the kids to this awesome playground with a natural stone slide. I'm thrilled that we're going back on Memorial Day tomorrow, after we attend a wedding in MA today. 

I can't wait! 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Quick update of my "indiscriminate and reckless" helping ;-)

I began to write this last night, but then felt bad that my husband was driving and I wasn't talking to him, so I stopped. And then this morning I wrote the other quick post about NYC.

My life has been crazy & intense three past few weeks. I hadn't even finished turning my last grades in when I began to work on some crafts projects of decorations for my friend's wedding. Since we're traveling this week, I needed to have most everything done before the trip, so I threw myself feverishly and hyper-focused-ly into work after I decided which colors to use (when I talked to the bride) and what to make. After she sees them at the shower next weekend, I want to post photos and share more details!

--> The post's title comes from my an email I sent to my friend when I was feeling guilty for making too much stuff that she might not even like or use (you'll understand when you see the photos). She thought it was hilarious that I talked about my helping that way! ;-)

My parents helped me a lot with those projects and more, but things got crazier when I threw myself head-first (again) into helping with my son's eighth grade graduation. I went completely overboard as usual. I took photos of the 8th graders in class on Friday 5/20 (and spent most of the day at the school as the kids received and signed their yearbook). Photographed them in their concerts at church the next day, went to soccer games on Sunday, and last, but most importantly, took formal portraits in black & white of each 8th grader on Monday.

Then I began to edit the photos, ordered prints at Costco, and continued collecting photos and croping them to create collages for each of the 14 kids while my parents painted wooden photo frames. In the meantime, my friend, whose son is the class president (my son is treasurer) was crocheting a blanket on her spare time as a class gift to the teacher (she works full time, BTW).

Sigh... I had 4-5 hours of sleep every night on these weeks. 

Oh, and did I mention that my in-laws arrived for the graduation on Wednesday,  I helped decorate all day on Thursday (the graduation was that evening), and on Friday, after all of it, I had to take ice cream cake to celebrate younger son's birthday with his class since it was the last day of school & his birthday is May 30.

Are you exhausted yet reading this? But it was all awesome! The graduation reception was very lovely and the children loved it. I even wrote a letter/card for each of them during the ceremony.

Ok. I'll have a photo post now with the few pics on my phone!

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!!