Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Being evaluated

I've gotten evaluated twice in the last two days. Yesterday I got my student evaluations from this last semester. They were average to good, with the comments not being unexpected and mostly about things that I have already decided to change for the next semester. There was one comment, though, that just eviscerated me.

I got comments back today on the chapter of my dissertation that I submitted a few weeks ago. On first read, they seemed horrible, but on second read it appears that about half of the chapter is okay, I just need to write a new other half of the chapter to go with it.

Why is it, that even when the bad is liberally mixed with good, it's the bad feedback that I remember and dwell on?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving break - Day One

Dissertation work accomplished - Zero
Number of toy train sets looked at either online or in person - infinity.

The end.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

When no response seems sufficient

A lady from my church asked me today how Cooper was doing "without having a mother during the day" and then went on to say "he must be bonding with his new Mother at the daycare." I was so floored I didn't even have a comeback. I have spent the afternoon coming up with witty responses of various levels of rudeness.

And, seriously, nobody says a child doesn't have a father because the dad works, so don't say that I'm not his mother just because he is going to daycare during the day. So back off, lady, and keep your judgmentalism to yourself.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Time between blog posts is directly proportional to amount of chaos in life

I'm over half way through my first semester teaching a four class load with three preps. I'm still writing my dissertation. I have a two year old who is dealing with institutionalized care for the first time ever, with the complete assault that is on his immune system.

School is going well. I'm hearing good feedback through unofficial back channels. My students are almost all performing well and trying to master some difficult concepts. As Angry Professor says, trying to teach statistics to social science majors tends to color your outlook somewhat. It's been interesting teaching a teaching university rather than a research university. The demands on my time are very different, and the role I am expected to play as mentor is one for which I have never received official training, either in my graduate program or professionally. There is an expectation of an open door policy here outside of official office hours, so if I'm in my office, I'm available. And I'm supposed to be in my office every day. Students here have been taught that professors are always available and willing to talk. They stop in to chat about all sorts of questions. That's completely different from the attitude I had about my professors. I was never in their offices without a specific question, and I left as soon as it was answered.

The nice side effect of this is that I am finding out how much I enjoy collaborating with students. In all of the classes I teach I get to help students think about how they think, and watching them grappling with big normative questions and coming up with new and interesting ways of looking at the world for them to go and explore.

That said, there has been a definite learning curve. I've changed my texts for all three classes next semester, and am going to be dramatically reorganizing two of them. That's what I get to do over the winter break. I've been smart enough to keep a text file for each class entitled "What to Change for Next Semester" so I won't have to go back and wrack my memory trying to remember all the good ideas I've had.

All of this has been exacerbated by a sick little boy. He got the stomach flu last week and didn't eat for five days. And then it turned into an ear infection. He's on two separate types of antibiotics trying to get it to clear up. You know it's bad when I can track his improvement by counting the number of q-tips I am using to clean out the discharge so I can get the eardrops in far enough that they will do any good. (Note: we've topped out at four - both ends.) We've already dealt with pink eye. I'm hoping that once he is exposed to everything that his immune system will cut him a break next semester and he won't spend so much time feeling crappy.

And even with all this, I'm still making slow progress on my dissertation. I keep telling myself that over Thanksgiving break I'll get a lot of it done. That never really worked as an undergraduate. I wonder if it will work now.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cooper's latest trick

Cooper likes to run across the living room, dive headfirst into the couch, and then use the momentum to flip his legs over his head so he's standing on his head with his feet up on the back of the couch. What was that about a motor skills delay? Oh yeah, this is why we no longer qualify for services. That's right. He's graduated from his physical therapy program because he has improved from 3rd percentile to 50th in 11 months.

He also likes to ride his tonka truck around the kitchen and smack things with a light saber. I'm thinking he thinks he is jousting. I am just trying to get him to stop hitting things. And he likes to open the fridge door and stroke his chin and say, "Hmmmmm" while he decides what he wants to eat. I have no idea where he got that one.

Oh, and he will hold both hands over his head and yell, "Huzzah!" at random intervals. He got that one from his dad.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I learned something new this morning.

I have been having problems sleeping lately. I was at Bath and Bodyworks yesterday and saw that they have a new line of products that contain lavender oil to help you sleep. I bought the pillow spray and used it last night. It turns out that I am highly allergic to lavender oil. Anywhere on my skin that came into contact with the aromatherapy spray is covered in a bright red, unbelievably itchy rash. So much for aromatherapy as a solution.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

RBOC on the first full week of classes

  • Apparently, I assign a lot of work.
  • I do not think a 15-20 page research paper in an upper division course is an undue amount of work.
  • Apparently, my students disagree with me.
  • Students here register for a lot of classes, show up the first day to look at syllabi, and then drop the classes they don't want to take. This is the cultural norm here.
  • This is not so bad, in that it makes my grading load lighter.
  • TAs are like little angels sent from heaven.
  • I think I am making friends with some of the other new faculty.
  • Saying that makes me feel like I am in junior high.
  • Apparently I think Fukuyama's The End of History is the worst thing written ever, judging by the comments I wrote all over my copy.
  • The student sitting next to me at the table saw my copy of the article and asked if "PBBBBBBT!" was a technical term of criticism.
  • I am not used to teaching three classes back to back. My voice starts giving out about half way through the third class. I need to do something about that.
  • I used a cartoon in class for an assessment tool. If they laughed when they read it, it meant they understood the lecture.
  • If you take a bite of hummus, and it turns out to be beandip, it doesn't matter how good the beandip is, it will still not be a good bite of food.
  • My international students are leaving my domestic students in the dust. I'm not sure if that's a commentary on the American educational system, or that students who go to foreign countries are a self selected group of overachievers.
  • I haven't walked into any more closets, but the roads still aren't surfaced.
  • Apparently I say apparently a lot.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First day of classes

Today was the first day of classes. The registrar's server went down. The city decided that it would be a good day to resurface all the city streets surrounding the campus. A faculty member made vaguely ominous warnings about one of my students. I walked into a closet. The class website turned all my uploaded content into html laden gobbledygook.


Hopefully tomorrow will go smoother.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Meaningful assessment

I've been thinking about how to develop meaningful assessments for my courses this week.

Cooper's preschool has been learning the color red this week. Last night he demonstrated mastery of this concept by picking all the red M&Ms out of my bag of M&Ms and eating them.

Now I'm trying to figure out how to develop meaningful assessments for my courses that involve M&Ms.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I do more than watch televsion, I swear

But you wouldn't know it from my posting on here. There's some big stuff going on with the job, but I'm not sure how to blog about it without talking about specifics. Good stuff, though.

On the other hand, I am really impressed with the judging on Project Runway this season. :)

I'm going to bed now. My goal for tomorrow: finalize all my syllabi. I need to just stop tinkering with them and get on with it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I think I broke my brain

I've been going to new faculty trainings for the last week and a half, interspersed between all the getting ready for the semester last minute stuff. My syllabi are all mostly done. I just need to sit down with a calendar and make sure I haven't scheduled exams and papers to all be due at the same time. I honestly feel like I may have broken my brain, though, with as much stuff as I have been doing. I couldn't remember what my name was when I answered the phone a few minutes ago.

So I'm relaxing and watching Top Chef. That contestant that my brother has nicknamed Ed Hardy is a jerk and needs to get eliminated. Quickly. My brother has also nicknamed most of the other contestants, but my favorite nickname is Winnie the Red because he looks so much like Winnie the Pooh.

Cooper is adapting well to daycare. The first day it took 20 minutes to convince him to let go of GeekBoy, but now we're to the point that though there are still a few tears some mornings. But he is making friends with some of the other kids, and is learning a lot of new stuff. When GeekBoy went to pick him up yesterday, Cooper walked out the front door, stopped and said, "Moon!" He repeated it a few times and GeekBoy was looking around to figure out what he was talking about. Cooper bent down, picked up a crescent shaped rock that looked like a moon, and said, "Moonrock!" He loves rocks. Now if I can just convince him to stop pulling the leaves off the houseplants to show them to me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

TVs Best Week Ever

Top Chef is back tonight! I thought Wolfgang Puck was hysterical as a judge. But seriously, whatever contestant it was that asked Jennifer Carroll if she was the pastry chef when she said she worked at 10 Arts by Eric Ripert needs to be smacked. Sexist much? She's the Chef de Cuisine! My bet is she makes it through to the final four.

And now I'm watching Top Chef Masters. I'm hoping Rick Bayless wins. I love his food.

And tomorrow it's Project Runway! Finally! And Project Runway All Stars is going to be the icing on the cake! I think that is enough exclamation points for one entry.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Forms of transportation I have used in the last nine days.

Horse-drawn carriage
Speed boat
Tour boat
Metro train
Walking, walking and more walking
Running (to catch a connecting flight because the first one was late)
Boogie Board

I'm sunburnt, bug bitten and have blisters on the bottoms of both my feet from all the walking. It was a great vacation. But right now, I'm glad to be able to sit on something that isn't moving.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Only God can see the intents and thoughts of your heart

which is why I totally agree with this video which I first saw over at Kate's:

And it is why I feel comfortable in saying to this officer: you didn't say Gates was a "banana-eating jungle monkey" just that he was acting like one. Well, I'm not saying you are a racist, I'm just saying you're acting like one.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When art imitates life

Sometimes it feels like this artist is reading my journal.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A room of one's own

With the start of my new faculty position next month, I will have an office of my own. I am very excited about this. An office! Of my own! With a door that shuts! But I've also been thinking a lot about the message I want my office to project. I'm going to be at a teaching university, so I expect (and I may be wrong about this) to have students in my office on a regular basis. The student body is overwhelmingly socially conservative. The faculty are not as socially conservative as the students on the whole, but as a religious university, the students and faculty are part of the same social system when it comes to reinforcing conservative gender roles. I will be only the second female faculty member in a large department. From my interactions with the other female faculty member, I know that I can expect male and female students alike to challenge the appropriateness of me being a professor as a married female with a young child.

As excited as I am about having an office, I expect to have to tread a fine line when it comes to making that space my own. I want to decorate it in a matter that reflects my somewhat eclectic loves and quirky personality, but that does so in a manner that doesn't undermine my desire to project a professional demeanor. This is just one more facet of my reexamination of the way I present myself professionally. I have been shopping for new clothes (actual skirts and stockings and stuff) because there is no more teaching in jeans and oxford shirts. I'm already battling with impostor syndrome on being hired into this position. I want a comfortable space that makes me feel like myself, but I'm not sure how I am going to do that and still be authoritative enough to defend myself against the challenges I know will come. Sisyphus and Historiann have been compiling lists of school supplies for new graduate students. I wish there was a list of school supplies for a new faculty member.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I'm wondering,,,

...if the police officer who arrested Henry Louis Gates Jr. is going to be the next Joe the Plumber.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Things I do not like, Part II

We live within two blocks of our local minor league baseball stadium, which is great because we can listen to all the games if we leave our windows open. What I do not like is the parking nightmare of every home game. When I went to the store tonight, I had to very carefully angle myself out of my driveway because a car was parked with its nose a foot or so into the exit. Of course, it doesn't help that the streets are narrow, so I almost hit the car parked on the opposite side of the street as I was trying to back out and turn.

Something else I do not like: the cashier at the store telling me to "have a nice evening" after she just checked out my basket of infant acetaminophen, infant ibuprofen, Pedialyte and Gatorade. Does it look like I'm having a nice evening?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Things I do not like

1. Locking myself out of my house. Twice. In one week.
2. Interviewing day cares for Cooper. Can anything possibly be good enough for your kid? That doesn't already have a waiting list?
3. Checking citations.

That is all. At least for now.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

One of these things is not like the others

I'm a reviewer for Fantasy Literature which is a great gig, because I get books for free, before they are published, and get to tell people what I think about them.

So, I'm posting links to a few of my recent reviews. Most of these were really good, one of them was not. You might be surprised to find out which.

A Darkness Forged in Fire by Chris Evans.

The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff.

The Seven Towers by Patricia Wrede

Wings of Wrath by C.S. Friedman.

You can also come prognosticate about the future of fantasy over on our boards.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Just your standard Monday morning after a national holiday

Wake up. Play snooze tag. For an hour.

Get up. Clean up living room and vaccuum popcorn off of couch so I can sit down to eat breakfast. Find all the missing stringing beads. Again. Including one under the fridge.

Eat breakfast.

Clean out fridge in an attempt to make grocery list. Clean up broken glass off kitchen floor from overly enthusiastic cleaning out of fridge.

Make grocery list.

Get me and Cooper in the car. Drive to the library. Watch man in front of me drive through a red light right in front of a cop. Cooper thinks the lights and sirens are cool.

Get to the library. Clean blood off Cooper's knee from temper tantrum in the parking lot. Pick up three shiny new books. Drop off donations for Friends of Library booksale.

Go grocery shopping. Very quickly figure out how to do Heimlich maneuver on a child while he still sitting in the grocery cart. Say a little prayer of thanksgiving when his face turns back to a normal color.

Buy myself a Suzy Q for getting through the morning with a minimum of bloodshed.

Come home, get all the groceries in the house and put them away.

Sit down with my Suzy Q on the couch and take a bite.

I miss trans-fats.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Signed, sealed, delivered

I signed my new contract this morning. I've started working on syllabi and I have to say that I love creating a syllabus. I love choosing texts, and designing assignments. There is so much potential before the semester starts.

Other than that, it's been basic summer puttering around kind of stuff going on here. Cooper and I did swim lessons for two weeks. His favorite part was jumping off the side of the pool. It kept me on my toes because he would just launch himself off the side and trust that I would catch him.

We planted a bunch of new flowers on Saturday. Friday we had a devastating storm blow through. We got a couple inches of water in an hour, and the wind and hail shredded some of my plants and knocked leaves off the trees. Not to mention we ended up with water in the basement. So that was a fun way to spend the weekend. It was fun picking out new flowers though. I basically went through the nursery and picked out anything pink or purple that caught my eye.

Work on the dissertation is coming, slowly but surely. But slowly.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I got the job, I got the job, I got the job.

Yeah, really not much to add after that title, but I got the job. I finally got the call last night that the board had approved my hire. So offer made and accepted, contract on its way for signatures and stuff like that. I am still in the "happy yay" phase, and am holding off on entering the "oh my heck, I have a real job and need to find day care and grown up clothes" phase as long as possible. We'll see how long it takes me to get there.

On other interesting news, it turns out that when I am in a waiting period of my life, I crochet. In the last month, between the interview and the phone call, I finished the blanket I started for Cooper a year and a half ago, and also have made a purse for my niece, a turtle for the same niece, a bracelet for me which I ended up not liking but Cooper thinks is a great toy so all is well, a market bag for my MIL, a lace bookmark for my mom, another purse (this time for me), a coaster for my new computer desk so I don't leave rings in the wood, an octopus for Cooper, and a lap blanket for reading on the couch. I also have started another market bag, two scarves and a third purse. I finished up the binding on the lap blanket about 15 minutes before the phone call with the job offer came in, so I'm glad that's all finished, so now that the uncertainty about my fall position is resolved, I can get to work.

So, yay!

Friday, May 29, 2009

My current pet peeve

The phrase "Latina woman." It's redundant. You can't be a Latina man. And I know, Sotomayor used it herself, but I'm not excusing her, either. That phrase is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dissertation update

I just heard back from my committee chair. My first three chapters have been accepted. No further substantive revisions needed. Wahooooooooo!


He is, as I type this, laying beside me with his head on a couch pillow, fake snoring at the top of his lungs. And now he just shushed himself.

He has a habit of sucking his thumb, as long as he has his corner blanket to hold on to with the same hand. We leave his corner blanket in his crib so he won't suck his thumb during the day. Well, he figured out where the dish towels are kept in the kitchen and has started stealing a towel out to use as a surrogate blanket. He thinks it's funny to get caught, and will go put it back as soon as we tell him to do so. Yesterday he went into the kitchen, grabbed a towel and then ran through the living room into the front entry as fast as his little legs could carry him, so he could still see the television but I couldn't see him from my spot on the couch. He laughed when I told him to go put the towel back, and ran back into the kitchen and put it back.

Later in the afternoon, I heard the sound of a kitchen chair being pushed across the floor. Right as I'm about to get up and go investigate, he walks into the living room carrying the kitchen rug behind him. He drops it in the middle of the living room floor, and walks back into the kitchen. Curious, I wait to see what happens next. A few more scooting sounds and a pause of a few seconds later, I hear him splashing in the kitchen sink. I walk in there to get him down before he dumps any more water on the kitchen floor, and pull the chair back (the rug was blocking him from getting the chair up to the sink) so I can start mopping up the water. He is still standing on the kitchen chair, so he grabs onto the back of it and starts rocking back and forth as hard as he can, and starts scooting the chair back to the sink while standing on it.

I had no idea parenting was going to be so funny.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Seems like I'm a teacher in and out of the classroom

T-Mobile Mom to Mom Quiz: "

Take the fun, Mom to Mom quiz and discover your parenting style.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Talking to a two year old

At the beginning of April, Cooper had a speech evaluation. The speech pathologist said that he failed the evaluation, but not enough to qualify for services. She said he measured three months behind on both his receptive (understanding what you tell him) and expressive (talking) communication. This could be easily explained by the months of fluid on his ears, and then the intensive physical therapy he has been undergoing for his motor delay. She gave me some recommendations of what we can do to help his speech develop.

In the last six weeks, his speech has blossomed. Every day he has new words. Walking to church today, he pointed at a tree, "Tree!" He said "thank you" today for the first time. He has started using two word sentences. I cut a piece of cake the other day for a snack, and he looked at it and said, "Cake! Bite please!" He watched me make my fried egg with toast and cheese this morning, and said, "Toast? Cheese?" with such a tone of intense betrayal since he was eating mini-pancakes for breakfast, and toast and cheese are two of his favorite foods.

He is picking up new nouns about as fast as I can teach them. I expect to hear him say, "Go put that back" and "Come back here" any day now. And hopefully, "I love you."

RBOC: Sunday morning edition

I've been on a fried egg kick lately. I am writing this blog post while eating a fried egg on toast.

Cooper is outgrowing all his tops. It amazes me how fast he grows. Into the 3T tops for summer wear.

He fell down the stairs at our friends' house last weekend. He was more startled than anything, luckily he only somersaulted down a few carpeted steps into his dad's arms, but he is much more leery of going up and down stairs by himself now.

He must wear a baseball cap at all times. A few nights ago I found him asleep in his crib with his cap on backwards.

I finally got into the garden this weekend. One of the drawbacks of having a long, rainy spring is lots and lots of weeds and no time to pull them all out. I got a few of the beds weeded. I found several seedlings that have volunteered themselves, including one that I think is a lupine plant. I'm also realizing I need to figure out how to transplant perennial geraniums and daylilies. And maybe some bellflowers as well.

I went to the farmer's market yesterday and eyed all the beautiful plants for sale. I did not buy any though, because I wasn't sure what holes I would need to fill in. That's my motivation for getting all the flower beds in shape this week: buy new plants next Saturday.

I found some adorable globe bird feeders yesterday. They are now hanging in the backyard. We'll see if they attract any new birds to the yard or if they just attract more squirrels.

I want to get a bird house.

We are about to embark on the potty training adventure in our home. Wish me luck.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Job search update

I received a very nice call from the dean this afternoon, letting me know that I am the "leading candidate" for the job. They can not officially offer me the position until they get approval from the university's board, but they are recommending my hire. The dean did not think they would have all the necessary paperwork in place for the board's meeting this month, so it will probably be June 10th before the board votes on my position. I wonder if I can keep my fingers crossed for the next month?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Well, that's done

The interview went really well. The department will be meeting next week to vote. I'm more excited about this job now than I was before the interview which is always a nice development. The faculty in the department were very nice and friendly, and I think it would be a good work environment.

Also, I finished a draft of chapter three of my dissertation this evening. I'm going to give it one more read through in the morning, and then send the first three chapters of my dissertation off to my committee in the morning.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Breaking Radio Silence

I'm posting long enough to say that I'm alive. I've been swamped by finishing up this chapter draft for my dissertation and prepping for my job interview tomorrow.

One interesting thing that I have learned while prepping for this job interview: I have a whole heck of a lot of paper that I really don't need to be hanging on to. However, there is no time today to purge all that stuff. Maybe this summer, when I have some free time.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Vacation

My little family went to Arizona over the weekend. We went to go visit my brother and his cute little brand new twin daughters. Cooper had his first easter egg hunt. He also found a new word, "Egg!"

A few random thoughts from this weekend:

1. There should be a word for the feeling you get when you're in your hotel room, and are wondering what in the world is causing that frequent but randomly spaced honking sound from outside and then you realize it is your kid playing with the locking button on your rental car keys.

2. All jelly beans should be either jelly bellies or Starburst jelly beans. All other kinds are gross.

3. Apparently "world famous" means something different in Arizona than it does here, because there were lots of world famous attractions we drove by that I have never heard of.

4. Going back to somewhere you lived a decade ago is a good way to make yourself sad when you realize how few of your memories are still there. Wow, the Mesa area has changed!

5. The Bahama Rama Mama from Bahama Buck's is still amazing though. I'm glad that memory is intact.

6. The TSA will confiscate the jars of homemade jelly your mom made you if you leave them in your carryon bag.

7. Even though it's snowing outside right now, Cooper got to run around in shorts and a t-shirt all weekend. I actually had to bring him inside at one point because he was so flushed and warm. We're sitting here in the snow, and two days ago I was worrying about heat exhaustion. Some days I do not like Idaho.

8. Arizona water still tastes nasty.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I got a phone call

Yesterday I got a phone call from the university that I applied to back in December for a one year visiting professor position. The funding has finally come through for the position, after a temporary freeze, and they want me to come to campus for an interview. I'm simultaneously excited and nauseated.

I'm wondering what all I should take with me for the interviews. They had a very limited list of what they accepted with the initial packet, so they haven't seen sample syllabi or teaching evals yet, and this is a teaching intensive university. Are they going to want to see those documents? I'm still waiting to hear back about what they want me to teach while I'm there.

And sometime in the next few weeks I need to go find an interview suit.

Friday, April 3, 2009

All in all, a good day

I went out with a friend this morning, both of us with our little boys in tow, into the four inches and counting of snow, to run errands and get both of us some much needed adult interactions. We went to lunch at my favorite restaurant, and then I came home and worked on my dissertation.

I've been wrestling with one section for about two months off and on, trying to get it to say on the paper what I think about it in my head, and I finally got it to match. Such an incredible relief. One more section of that chapter to finish, and then it's off to my committee for evaluation.

And I got word that I will have a teaching job this fall. The funding for the section I teach was up in the air due to the state budget cutbacks, but it got approved, so I will continue to have an income. Yay! Because I started pricing toddler beds, and anything that isn't made out of MDF is not cheap, and Cooper is about a week and a half from figuring out he can hook his leg over the edge of the crib and get out on his own.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy birthday, little man

Cooper turns two today. Two years ago right now, they were about to have an emergency intervention in the labor room. It's amazing how fast things happen when something goes wrong. Cooper's heartrate started crashing, and all of a sudden it was like a swarm of nurses and doctors magically appeared in my room. Terbuteline shot, oxygen mask, intensive monitoring for the next few hours. Everything turned out okay, though, and after 10 minutes of pushing, out popped the most beautiful little creature I had ever seen. My first words: "Hello, baby."

It's hard to believe two years have gone by. He's no longer a baby. He's a little kid. Complete with "No!" and kisses for momma and pulling a couch cushion onto the floor, laying down on it, fake snoring, and then laughing and getting up and running off to do something else.

In the last week, I've seen a glimpse of his future, some combination of


Start a child in the way he should continue

For today, though, I can't help but think of him like this:

Ben of Arabia

Happy birthday, little man. You're going to be all grown up before I even know it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cooper's newest trick

Jumping off of things. Steps, couches, he doesn't care. It's amazing more kids don't end up with brain damage.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's like he is inside my head

I have this dream on a regular basis.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Student e-mails are a source of joy.

I just had a student email me saying, "I missed class on Monday. Can you tell me what I missed? Also, what is this "Reading for Wednesday" on the class website?"

Ummm, it's the reading you need to do for Wednesday. I thought the title was self-explanatory, but no.

Monday, March 16, 2009

It all balances out...hopefully

Today was a great teaching day. Lots of participation, lots of interest in the topic, lots of energy. That's good because the papers I graded over the weekend made me cranky. I think they hit every one of my pet peeves:

1. Turning in an early draft for feedback, and then not changing any of the things that I pointed out in your final draft. Thanks for wasting my time.
2. Misuse of the word bias. After I gave them all a copy of New Kid's open letter on the topic and we went over it extensively in class.
3. Lack of evidence. That's nice that you think that, but why do you think that?
4. Lack of research, which lead the to the inability to make two and two add up to four. They had the first two, but they couldn't find the other two, which made their papers add up to around 3.2.

Oh well, extensive commenting and discussion of their papers in class will hopefully result in a better second set of papers.

Why I should carry a camera

As I was driving to work today, I was following an SUV. Across the top of the rear window, in nice big letters, was emblazoned the following factoid: Fat kids are harder to kidnap.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Two thoughts about the media

1. I've been following the Jim Cramer v. Jon Stewart fight for the last week or so, and thought Stewart demolished Cramer on Thursday night. The NBC family of channels had been giving plenty of play to the story in the buildup, and having Cramer on their "news" shows, but as far as I can tell completely dropped the story on Friday after he lost. It wasn't even on Olbermann. Disappointing proof of the power of media conglomerates to determine what the news is.

2. All the voices who have been blaming the tanking stock market on Obama for the last few weeks have been conspicuously silent for the last four days as the market has rallied. You can't have it both ways. Either he's responsible for the good times, or he's not responsible for the bad. Or you can be an adult and realize that the market isn't the president's personal plaything and responds to a lot of stimuli that are not controlled by the president.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A much less eloquent rephrasing of the last post

My guild in World of Warcraft had one rule: Don't be a dick.

I think that is what I was trying to get at in the last long post. Is it possible for people to not be dicks to each other when they don't share the same belief system?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

No love for Big Love

I saw a news story the other night about the upcoming episode of Big Love showing LDS temple ceremonies and clothing, and the outcry from some members of the church. While I loved the official LDS Church response, I went online to see exactly what the fuss is about. A quick google lead me to stills from the upcoming episode showing one of the actresses in what looks like temple clothing. Further browsing lead me to a discussion thread about the topic that was mocking LDS temple clothing and the wording of the ceremony. Most upsetting was a link to the temple ceremony with the title, "Your secrets aren't sacred anymore."

This upset me for many reasons. Primarily it is because something that is sacred to me is being treated in such a disrespectful manner by so many people. But I was more upset about the lack of understanding of what it is to be sacred. Just because you know about it and are posting a link to the information doesn't make it less sacred. The temple ceremony has never been secret. Even before the advent of you tube and google, the entire temple ceremony was recorded in the Library of Congress. The official church position has been that the temple isn't secret, it is sacred. We don't discuss what goes on in the temple because of the sacred nature of the ceremonies that are performed there.

This has left me wondering for the last few days if we have lost the concept of sacredness in our society. I'm inclined to say yes, especially in a day where profaning the name of deity is part of mainstream entertainment. When people don't understand why things are sacred, and are willing to respect the sacredness of the beliefs of others, it leads to disrespect or worse. Some things are sacred to certain belief systems. They don't share those things freely with others who don't share the same beliefs, because the lack of understanding and necessary context makes them difficult to comprehend and place in an appropriate normative framework. I remember reading about mystery cult initiations in pre-Christian times, and the idea that not everyone was ready to receive the highest levels of spiritual knowledge was commonplace. You were taught the law you were willing to live, and not exposing people to higher spiritual laws was done out of protection of the person not willing to live the more demanding part of the doctrine. That's what the temple is for the LDS faith. It is for mature adults who have shown dedication to and belief in the common doctrine of the church to continue their education. I guess you could say it's the Mormon equivalent of grad school.

The temple ceremony, to those who are not familiar with, and adherent to, LDS doctrine is going to look weird. Heck, I grew up in the church and the first time I went to the temple I thought it was weird. The important key to understanding LDS temple ceremonies is the knowledge of the symbolism that is used throughout the ceremony. The entire ceremony is symbolic, and so is the clothing that is worn during the ceremony. It requires a lifetime (or beyond) to fully understand everything the temple ceremony is designed to teach, and requires study, prayer, and ongoing personal righteousness. Without someone translating the ceremony to a non-adherent, it is going to look wacky. Television is not the hermeneutic device that makes that understanding possible.

I don't watch Big Love, mostly because I don't have HBO, and I haven't seen the episode where this is supposed to happen. I'm not assigning intentionality to the producers or writers for their decision to show these ceremonies. I'm also not saying that the LDS church deserves special protection or treatment. All religious traditions deserve respect and understanding. My biggest concern is that this shows an ongoing degradation of the concept of the sacred in our culture. Some things are too important to be bandied about for the sake of entertainment. The temple ceremony, to me, is one of those things.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Just one of the reasons I love my husband

We've been discussing the economy, and the reaction to the stimulus package from a certain section of the population. This is what he said:

"The more you know about something, the more you know you don't know about that something. I like the inverse of that too: The less you know about something, the less complicated you think it is. I like to know stuff, and in doing so, I find that life is more complex than I thought it to be before... but that is good. Knowledge is like light... the more you have, the greater detail you can discern. Life is beautiful in all its complexities. I have pity for those that choose to dwell in darkness while yelling at the seekers of light that they are doing it all wrong...

There are only a few things that I've chosen to be annoyed by, and it looks like Ignorant Pride dressed up as Populist Rage is one of them."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My own private crazy Idaho

I grew up in California, and I didn't think anything could compare with the crazy that is California politics.

And then I moved to Idaho.

A couple months ago one of our state legislators introduced a bill to require people to sign their real name when posting on the internet. I'm not sure how he was planning on enforcing that out of Boise.

And now, this. Go read, I'll wait.

Done? Good.

Okay, Representative Harwood, a few basic concepts of constitutional law. One, states aren't sovereign. Not even in your whacked out reading of the 10th amendment does it say that states are sovereign. It specifically states that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." In this country, the people are sovereign. It's why the Constitution starts "We the People" because it was the people that entered into the social contract, not the states. And that part about powers prohibited to the states is fairly significant here, because your desire to tell the federal government what kind of laws they are allowed to pass is contrary to the supremacy clause, which is found in Article VI of the Constitution. We fought a war about this 150 years ago, and the idea of nullification lost.

Now, I understand the importance of symbolic statements and political grandstanding, but don't drag the Constitution into it. You demean that document every time you try to use it for partisan purposes.

And, by the way, Idaho gets $1.21 back for every dollar we spend in federal taxes. With the market in the position it is right now, that's a pretty good return on investment.

Reading times two

One of the things that I saw from this experience is that I wanted to be reading more, and working with books more than I currently was. Fun books, not stuff I have to read for my dissertation. I started posting to an online book discussion group at the beginning of the year, and one of my reviews of a book I was reading caught the eye of the woman who runs the Fantasy Literature site. She asked me to apply for a reviewer job, and it quickly fell into place where I am now a reviewer for them. They pay me in free books. ARCs, to be specific. Advanced Reading Copies. That means I get free books, and I get them before other people do, and I am supposed to be opinionated about them. It is the perfect gig for me.

In my work reading, I stumbled across a reference to a book that is either going to make my lit review 1000 times better, or make me have to restructure my entire dissertation. I'm hoping for the first option. I have an ILL request out for it, so I should know within a week or so. I'm just going to go ahead working as if it will all be okay.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I wonder...

...what it is about kids that make them take a headfirst dive off your lap and land square on their face 10 minutes before they have a doctor appointment so that I have to explain the welt on their forehead?

Monday, February 23, 2009

25 random things about Cooper

I haven't written in a month now because things have been so busy, and I'm having so much fun with Cooper, but I thought I would take Ken and Belly's lead and do the 25 Random Things meme that was floating around Facebook and do it about Cooper. I want to remember what an awesome little kid he is right now.

1. His favorite show is Blue's Clues. He does the mail dance, and the Blue's Clues dance when Steve gets out the notebook.
2. He loves fruit smoothies, and spanish rice, and ketchup. Anything that I give him to dip in the ketchup is merely used to transport the ketchup. He'll lick it off of the french fry and then re-dip the food. It's gross. I don't share ketchup with him. He will also just eat the ketchup with his fork and bypass the food entirely.
3. He thinks mashed potatoes are horrible.
4. He loves to splash in the water. When I'm doing the dishes, he'll push a chair over to the sink, climb up on it and push me out of the way so he can splash in the dish water.
5. He also loves music. His cousin Alan got him a recorder for Christmas and he loves to play on it.
6. He loves to sing. His favorite song is Do as I'm Doing, and we have to roll our hands or clap our hands. His favorite part is doing the action realllllly slow at the right time in the song. He also does the spider for Itsy Bitsy Spider, makes beams with his hand and says Beams! during Jesus Wants me for a Sunbeam, and can sing parts of the chorus to I am a Child of God.
7. His other favorite song is Old MacDonald has a farm. We sing this one in the car a lot, and Cooper gets to choose the animals. This means Old MacDonald has lots of dogs, and one cow. Michael and I have a different dog bark for each dog, thanks to Sandra Boynton's Doggies! book. Cooper will sing the E-I-E-I-O part, and make animal sounds, but mostly he just laughs at us.
8. He loves the Doggies book, but his true favorite book right now is Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth. Close runner ups are BooBoo and Gossie and Gertie by Olivier Dunrea. He's old enough now that he will pick which book he wants read to him off of the shelf and then bring it to me to read to him.
9. He doesn't talk a lot yet, but he is very capable of getting his point across. He has to sit on a couch pillow on the floor when he watches TV. That's part of his physical therapy, beacuse it is soft and keeps him slightly off balance when he is sitting, which makes his abdominal muscles work. He also knows that he isn't allowed to watch TV when his physical therapist is here. One time, he decided he was done with his physical therapy appointment, so he went and pulled a couch cushion off the couch, carried it over to the middle of the living room floor and sat on it, and then looked at me pointedly. Message received loud and clear.
10. He still has his perfect cinnamon roll belly button.
11. He has two cuddle blankets that he loves, and must have one of them with him at bedtime.
12. He hates having blankets over him when he sleeps. Instead he arranges them into a little nest all around him.
13. The one part of him he likes having a blanket over is his head. Quite frequently when I go check on him before I go to sleep, he has his cuddle blanket over his head.
14. He also likes sleeping with his feet propped up on the rails to his crib. You would think he would lose circulation in his feet like that, but he does it all the time.
15. He also likes sleeping in the short end of his crib, all curled up in his nest of blankets. I try stretching him out longwise, but he likes being snuggled.
16. Cooper loves to get things off of the desk. I was cleaning the bathroom and saw him walk by with the stapler from off of the desk in the office. I'm not sure where he was going with it, but I didn't want to wait to find out.
17. He loves balls. Anything round right now is a ball, including fruit. He is actually fairly good at kicking a big rubber ball around the living room, considering the motor delay he has.
18. And cars. And trains. He says vroom vroom, choo choo and beep beep when playing with them.
19. He also loves the bathtub. He likes to fill up his squirty toys with water, and then shoot the water into his mouth.
20. He folds his arms whenever there is prayer. He doesn't close his eyes yet, but he sits quietly with his arms folded.
21. He likes nursery at church. He will cry sometimes when he drop him off, but it never lasts more than a minute. He loves getting to play and sing and color.
21. He has his own crayons, and he has a perfect tripod grip. It's amazing. If I write something on the paper, he tries to trace over it.
22. He has the longest eyelashes I have ever seen on a person.
23. He doesn't look like a baby anymore. He's a little kid.
24. His goal in life is to catch the cat.
25. He walks everywhere. He hates to be carried, even down the stairs. He's started to run. The cat better watch out.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fun with munchkins

Cooper helps with the laundry now. I take an armful of laundry from the washing machine and put it in the dryer and then he shuts the dryer drawer. And then he opens the door for the next armful and repeats the process. He's very helpful.

He also tried climbing in the bathtub with me last night. I was reading a book in the tub, and he walked into the bathroom, saw me in the tub and walked right over and hooked one leg over the edge of the tub and started to climb in. He was not happy when I stopped him.

He's also learning to run. My prayers now include a plea that he will be able to make those corners at high speeds. He freaks me out at least twice a day. We've already ended up with one welt on his head. Hopefully no more.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I can live with this

Your Word is "Love"

You see life as possibility to form deep connections with a few people.

Relationships are the center of your world, and you always take time to bond with those you love.

You are caring and giving. You enjoy helping those you love.

And when it comes to romantic love, you feel passionately ... even in a very long term relationship.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

RBOC: Thoughts on a Wednesday

Too many little tidbit type things floating around in my head, so a grand old RBoC post:
  • My score at the penguin slide game on Wii Fit sucks because I am laughing so hard my penguin always falls off the iceberg.
  • I don't like Katy Perry's music. Her songs annoy me for a variety of reasons, but it's hard to dislike her entirely for one reason. Whenever her new song Hot n Cold comes on the radio, Cooper starts rocking out in his car seat. It's so incredibly adorable.
  • The video for that song makes the song even worse.
  • While we're talking about music, does Jason Mraz's songs make anyone else want to go on a vacation? And is weird that I have a bit of a girlcrush on Pink?
  • Cooper spent five minutes saying "die" over and over again in a sweet angelic happy voice this afternoon. It was both hysterical and disturbing.
  • There is something incredibly wrong with getting to a doctor's office at 2:00pm, finally seeing the doctor at 3:01 and being done with the appointment by 3:03.
  • Have I mentioned lately how well Cooper's physical therapy is doing? I have to remember now that he can walk, because I'm so used to carrying him or having him in a stroller when we go out. He walked from the car across a big parking lot into the medical building down the hall and into the doctor's office without stopping or falling all by himself. When we got home from going grocery shopping, instead of carrying him into the house, I put him on the sidewalk and told him to go in the house. So he walked up to the front door while I got the groceries from the trunk, and then knocked on the front door until I got it unlocked. He waited for me to open it, crawled inside (the threshold is raised and that still gives him problems) stood up, waited for me to come inside, and then pushed the door shut behind me. He's such a little kid now. It's great.
  • I trust Whoorl's advice about most things beauty related, so when I needed new mascara, I picked up her recommended Lash Exact by CoverGirl, but have been saddened to find that there is something about the brush that makes me stick it in my eyeball one time out of three.
  • More people, however, should do product recommendations by haiku.
  • Why is it always the second your students walk out the door that you remember the important thing you forgot to tell them?
Enough for now. I have a substantive post brewing, but it's not ready yet.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

You never can tell

My class last semester was my most difficult one ever. I had a hard time connecting with the students. Many of them never talked. Part of the problem was a new text book that I wasn't particularly comfortable with pedagogically, and my struggle to use that text upset the flow of the classroom throughout the semester.

I got my student evaluations today. I had been dreading these, because of how bad I had felt the semester had gone. I was floored when I read them, however. They were great. The students were remarkably perceptive about the problems with the text book, and were able to separate the problems with the text from the rest of the classroom experience. They had valid criticisms about that classroom experience that I can take an incorporate this semester. One student asked for more break out groups early on in the semester so she (why am I assuming this is a female?) could get to know other students and would feel more comfortable speaking out in the class as a whole during the semester. That's a great suggestion, and one I can incorporate now.

But they loved me. I couldn't have told that from the way they acted in class, but almost all of them thought I was great. The icing on the cake was this comment: "Without doubt one of the greatest teachers and influences of my life."

Wow. It doesn't get much better than that.

And yes, I know, teaching isn't supposed to be about ego, but anyone who has ever done it can tell you it's a performance, and who doesn't like a standing ovation at the end?

My birthday present

I got an early birthday present last night. GeekBoy got me the Wii Fit. I had told him that's what I wanted, so it's not like, "Hey, honey, you're fat, do something about that." He's supporting me in my goals. In general I don't recommend exercise equipment as a gift to your female significant others.

I played with it last night, and it's so much fun. It taps into my competitive streak perfectly. I must have the four star rating on advanced step. I will do this slalom course until I don't miss a gate!

One of the things that was cracking me up the most, though, is the other Miis running around in the games. My brother-in-law had way too much fun creating Miis at some point in the past and loading them into our console, so now I do my step with Jack Black, and Elvis kicks soccer balls at my head. It's the only way to exercise.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Is it just me...

...or has President Bush spent the last two months working on a Blue Steel impersonation?

Goals and rewards

I'm a big believer in goals. Goals need to be written down, and placed somewhere they can be seen regularly. That's why this blog is called Life by List, because I make lists of what I need to accomplish, and then go out and do it. With long-term goals, it's nice to break it down into shorter projects, and to reward yourself for each step along the way.

I have a big weight loss goal, but I try not to think about losing 100 pounds. Eeek. Just writing that down is overwhelming. I think about smaller increments usually. I can lose twenty pounds. And then I can do it again. And I'll reward myself at the end of each twenty pounds. But I knew I wanted a big reward for the end of all 100 pounds. I've been thinking about it for awhile now, and this morning I finally realized what I am going to do.

I'm getting skinny boots. Profgrrrrl got tenure boots, so why not skinny boots? I've always wanted boots like that, but they don't work when you're fat because they don't zip up your calves.

So, when I lose 100 pounds, I'm going to buy myself a fabulous pair of black leather kneehigh boots. And I'm gonna look smoking hot.

Oh, and when I weighed myself this morning, I'm down five pounds from my start weight. It's a start.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

On becoming

My sister gave me a game of conversation question starters. My husband and I were on a long drive to visit my grandmother so I pulled the box of questions out and pulled one out at random:

If all your wishes were granted, what would your life look like?

That lead to an interesting discussion, and I realized that my wish-fulfillment fantasy is completely achievable without any genies or fairy dust or magic wands. The picture that came into my head was of my life twenty or thirty years from now, and there was a very specific picture of what my day looked like in that life, and the things I would be doing.

Some of that life looked like my life now. Some of it looked like things I knew I liked but didn't realize I wanted to be that significant part of my life. But all of it consisted of things I could achieve.

So that's my challenge to myself this new year. Make my life look more like that day in my head. That's why I'm losing weight. Because the woman in my head had a life that was healthy, and I'm not right now. It also means that I'm starting a few new projects that I may or may not discuss on here. And it means I'll be reorganizing the way I spend some of my time.

But here's to becoming an awesome sixty year old woman, one day at a time.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I'm a sheep

Like almost the rest of America, I made a weight loss goal for the new year. Week one, down two pounds. I'm learning to drink a glass of water when I feel hungry in the middle of the afternoon, rather than reach for a snack. This isn't going to be a weight loss blog, but I'm going to keep track of progress. We'll see where I am in a year.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

What to do?

The airline broke the handle on my luggage. They won't do anything about it, because handles count as "protruding parts" and therefore they are not liable for damages to them.

It's a Lands End duffle bag that I've had for over a decade. I know that Lands End will give me a credit for it, because Lands End has one of the best refund policies of any company anywhere, but it seems sucky to make them pay for the airline being incompetent. And really, they were incompetent on this flight. Our flight home was delayed because they forgot to schedule us a flight crew.

But dangit, now my bag is broken. Jerks.
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