Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Photo Challenge: Yellow

Some weeks, Keith has to work really hard to find a shot he likes for the Shutterboo Photo Challenge. And some weeks, it just falls into his lap! Or onto the street in front of him ...
The Avengers movie is currently being filmed in downtown Cleveland, very close to Keith's office. For the past couple weeks, he's enjoyed visiting the outdoor sets on his lunch breaks. He'll come home and tell me about how they put up a facade for Bed Bath & Beyond in the middle of the street. Or they turned a public square into an opera house and beer garden in Germany. The other day, he spent a fair part of the morning waiting around for them to drop a big steel frame onto an SUV and a taxi. But all he saw, many times, was extras running in fear from the, at that point, nonexistent frame. He finally gave up and went back to work, and saw with disappointment at lunch that they had gotten around to the real action shot and he'd missed it.

So, keeping all of this excitement in mind, when Keith learned that "yellow" was this week's photo prompt, he was very excited. They'd been setting up this accident shot all week, and he knew it would be an excellent shot. For the first time in quite a while, he had an image that he was very pleased with days before the deadline! I think there was a little cropping and color-boosting going on, to heighten the final YELLOW effect, but overall not much jiggering. When you have a shot like that, why mess with it?

Of course, the law of averages (or of human nature) decrees that he's going to have a terrible time with next week's prompt, and will be frantically taking pictures of household items at the 11th hour. But, at least sometimes, excellent shots fall like manna (or like fake pieces of building onto a carefully placed, fake NYC taxi) from the sky.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Modern Day "Period of Confinement"

I still can't figure out if this is the correct term, but I seem to recall reading (probably in Regency romances, to be honest) about how women of high society used to have a period of confinement in their pregnancies. They would be shut up in a bedroom for weeks with no fresh air, very little light, and no men allowed.

For me, it's not quite that drastic, but it has arrived. The other week, we met Keith's parents at a state campground in the middle of Ohio, about two hours away, and spent the weekend camping. And that, my friends, was our last planned trip for the foreseeable future. We're not going to my cousin's wedding in Boston or his cousin's wedding in New York. We aren't spending a night out at a Bed and Breakfast for our anniversary, and we're not visiting his family in Kentucky. We're home, and we're staying put!

Keeping in mind that, from mid-May to mid-August, we only had one free, unplanned weekend (and that's the weekend we ended up driving to Ikea in Pittsburgh to buy Eleanor's new bedroom furniture), this is a big statement for us that the end is near. The baby's arrival is not that far off! Of course, part of the decline in activity is due to the end of the summer. Not all of our summer plans involved traveling; now that it's Fall, there's not as many local festivals, barbeques, etc. And, of course, we still have some plans for birthday parties, Keith's long runs/races, a night out for our anniversary.

So it's not like our calendar went from completely full to completely empty just because I'm 34 weeks pregnant. But to swear off all trips, that is still a big deal for us. I'm pretty excited about it. By the end of summer, I'm always tired by the constant activity. And being in the car for long stretches of time is getting harder on my very pregnant self. So I'm glad to take a break from all the going, but I'm also glad to be staying. There's so many things we'd like to do before the baby arrives. Not all of them are necessary (Does the baby really care if I clean out the filing cabinet drawers? I doubt it.), but I have this image in my mind.

I imagine a day in early October when Eleanor's at preschool. I do a little bit of cleaning around the house and then flop onto the couch and look around with satisfaction. I realize that it's all done. Done! Everything we wanted to do before the baby arrives is done. Just for one small, brief moment, everything is in its place. All is right with the world. I sit with this thought for a few minutes, savoring the sense that there's nothing else I have to do and nowhere else I have to be, and then the contractions start.

Is this going to happen? Absolutely not. My To Do Lists are many things, but reasonable is not one of them. There's no way we'll finish EVERYTHING before the baby arrives. But at least, if we're home, we can work on most of them. And we're not making more work for ourselves with packing and unpacking and laundry and all of the chores that come with travel. There's already plenty of work to be done around here ... and we won't even talk about after the confinement is over, and the baby arrives!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Photo Challenge: Abstract

After having some difficulty with last week's "urban," Keith breathed a sigh of relief at this week's Photo Challenge assignment of "abstract." Urban is tough when you're camping, but abstract can be accomplished anywhere!

For this one, Keith walked down to the end of the street and took a picture of sky and our modernistic local library. I was shocked at how blue the sky was in the picture, because by the time I saw it 20 minutes later, the sun was almost setting.
It's been a gorgeous few days here that have felt much more like fall than summer. Particularly with how hot and humid this summer has been. Last night we turned off all the fans in the house for the first time in months, and it was so blessedly quiet.

I'm so ready for Fall. I'm not sure that I'm ready for all of the changes that this particular Fall will be bringing to our house: Eleanor starting preschool, the new baby arriving a month later .... but Fall is always my favorite season. I love when there's a chill in the air, leaves changing color, Halloween leading to Thanksgiving into Christmas, candy corn ... so much to enjoy! I'm just hoping that, this year, it doesn't all pass in a sleep-deprived blur, and I can appreciate it. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Reading Living Large

I got a quick read out of the library the other week, a book called Living Large: From SUVs to Double Ds—Why Going Bigger Isn't Always Going Better by Sarah J. Wexler. I was going to give you a brief synopsis of the text, but then I think the rather large title already gives you the main gist.

I really wanted to like this book. I felt like it vindicated a lot of the choices that Keith and I make, like living in a small (by today's standards) older home, on a smaller lot in an inner-ring suburb. We choose to drive smaller cars. My choice to scoff at breast enhancement surgery mostly revolves around the fact that Mother Nature gave me more to work with than I ever needed or wanted, so I can't really claim the moral high ground on that one. But still, I expected to be nodding my head in agreement with every page of this book.

In the end, I didn't really like it. I think it was a problem with tone and credibility. Wexler presents it as a Really Serious topic, yet only delves superficially into many of issues. She spent too much time and ink trying not to vilify the people who make these large purchases, and did such a good job of empathizing with them that sometimes, by the end of a chapter, I wasn't entirely sure what side she was on. In particular, the chapter on breast enhancement surgery consisted of many separate facts about breast enhancement surgery, tucked in around the main narrative of her experience going to a plastic surgeon's office as a potential candidate for the surgery. Her overall conclusion about the experience seems to be that she could absolutely imagine herself seriously considering breast reduction surgery. How does that fit with the stated overall thesis of the book?

It's the same thing with the chapter about test-driving a Hummer, too. She makes sure to present Hummer owners that seem reasonable and shed a sympathetic light on them. Why? Are you really trying to convince your audience that bigger isn't always better? Because, in all actuality, I feel like I am part of her imagined audience: someone who already believes that bigger isn't better, and to be a responsible citizen in 2011, I need to be finding ways to make my environmental impact on the world as small as possible. I feel like she's trying to tell me that of course we know that bigger isn't always better, but I need to have more compassion for the people who have no concern over their environmental impacts or the world they're leaving for their/my children. And I'm not buying it.

The best takeaway from the book, for me, came from the final chapter. This chapter focused on Freeganism which, according to Wikipedia, "is an anti-consumerist lifestyle whereby people employ alternative living strategies based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources." I've heard the term before, but this time it resonated with me because it was on my mind when I returned from running errands to discover that our dog had gotten into the trash. Again. Just like he'd done at my parents' house a few days before, and at our house a few days before that ..... but he's not just being an annoyingly bad dog! He's a Freegan, so I'll cut him some slack.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day Tripper

Is it possible that I used to be that woman who never even carried a purse? I had a small fabric change purse that fit in my back pocket, and off I went.

Last week, Eleanor and I were meeting my Mom at her house and going out to Miss Molly's, a Victorian tea room. So a visit of just a few hours; no big deal, right?

In the end, this is what the trunk of the car looked like for that short little trip.

First of all, we decided to meet at Mom's house before the tea room, and then go back to her house after so Eleanor would (hopefully) nap and then Mom and I would get a chance to catch up. Whenever we're out of the house for more than a few hours, I end up packing a change of clothes for Eleanor and some toys to keep her entertained in the car. I also packed my knitting and the fabric for her new curtains, in case I had the opportunity and energy to work on hemming them (didn't happen).

Since it was a Thursday, Dad's golf night, Mom also asked if Keith might be interested in coming out after work to golf with Dad. He was, so that meant packing golf clubs for Keith, as well as a change of clothes.

That also meant, since we were staying all day, that we would bring Beckett to the house with us, along with his food.

At this point, Mom mentioned that she would offer to keep Eleanor all night, since the guys get back late from golfing, and that way we wouldn't have to put her down and wake her up to drive back home ... but she had a doctor's appointment the following morning. I said, "Well, if you're really offering..." because I was already coming back out to her side of town for a playdate on Friday, so I said I could pick Eleanor up in the morning before Mom's appointment. That meant Eleanor's back changed into an overnight bag AND her favorite blankie.

I think that explains all of the various bags featured in the picture above. Oh wait: Not pictured is my small purse. Maybe someday, in about another 20 years, that's all I will carry.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Perfect Post

I'm not sure if it's my role as mother, teacher, housewife, friend, or writer ... but lately the word "perfect" and its overuse has been really bothering me.

I think I've become oversensitive to it because of all the new baby reading/preparing we've been doing lately. Being a hormonal, pregnant woman apparently makes me a "perfect" target for a Perfect Campaign. Don't I want everything to be Perfect for the baby? Perfect name, perfect clothes, perfect nursery .... heaven forbid you even consider the concept of "good enough." It must be Perfect!

It takes me back to the days of wedding planning. Anytime something unique happens in a modern American consumer's life, in my humble observations, that consumer is urged to make it Perfect. You'll (hopefully) only get married once! One honeymoon, one first house, and every baby is its own unique opportunity for perfection in parenting. Or at least the accoutrements that go along with it.

I may strike people as a perfectionist personality, but I actually really hate the word and the idea behind it. Either it's right or it's wrong, and there's no room in-between. Why does it have to be "perfect"? What does that mean? Why urge people to strive for something that doesn't even exist?

Maybe this is just a few years of therapy talking, but I honestly don't think I've ever bought into the idea of perfect. Now, I am absolutely willing to admit (I almost wrote "perfectly willing") that I want things how I want things. And if they are not that way, I may get a tad anxious or upset. But to me, that's different from the Perfect that advertisers and advice columnists are trying to sell me on. I'm talking about my own personal goals and aspirations—goals that are often far removed from society's view of perfection.

For example, my wedding was quite unconventional in some ways. When we got engaged, I told Keith my engagement ring could cost, at the most, $200. I didn't want a diamond (although he got a miniscule one anyway). The engagement ring wasn't that important to me, and I didn't want him spending a lot of money we didn't really have on a status symbol. I would much rather have a nice honeymoon, which we did! So facets of the wedding were not Society Perfect, but they were just how I/we wanted them.

What is the point of this perfection rant? It's a stern reminder to myself, and a call to my fellow parents/teachers/friends/house spouses/writers/etc.: Don't give in! Don't spend that extra money or extra time to make something "perfect." Just make it what you want. If we strike "perfect" from our collective vocabulary, we'll all be a lot more relaxed, hopefully slightly richer, and perfectly relatively happy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Photo Challenge: Urban

Last week, Keith and I both really liked his choice for "lines." And since we had camping plans for this past weekend, I mentioned to him that maybe he would find some good subjects around the campsite. Unfortunately, this week's Photo Challenge subject was, of course, Urban: the antithesis of camping.

But at least Keith works in downtown Cleveland, so he still had time to go out at lunch and get quite a few different shots. Similar to last week, he didn't have any one particular shot that really grabbed him right away. So he got to work editing and, in the end, chose this one:


This is an interesting street in downtown Cleveland, which has been made into a pedestrian-only area filled with shops and entertainment venues like the House of Blues. I like the reflections from the rain puddles in the street, and the few bursts of color. You wouldn't know to look at the picture, but this street is jam-packed on evenings and weekends, particularly after an event like an Indians' game.

I like this image, but Keith wasn't really satisfied with it. From the beginning of the photo challenge the "urban" prompt stuck out to him as one that he thought he could really do a lot with, so I think he was disappointed that he didn't have more time to find a shot that he was really excited about. Hopefully next week's challenge will fit better with our weekend plans!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Firefox Add-Ons

For quite a few years now, we've been using Firefox as our Internet browser of choice, instead of Internet Explorer. One of the great things about Firefox is that, being open source, there's a million different add-ons to increase and personalize its functionality. If you're thinking of getting some, this is the main page for Firefox add-ons.Link Here's some of my favorite add-ons (keeping in mind, of course, that I call everything an "add-on"; I don't really understand the difference between an add-on vs. an extension vs. a user script):
  • Greasemonkey: Customize the way a web page displays or behaves, by using small bits of JavaScript
  • Personas: Over 30,000 different designs to personalize your browser. Purely decorative, but fun!
  • ColorZilla: Advanced Eyedropper, ColorPicker, Page Zoomer and other colorful goodies... This is helpful when I'm designing Christmas cards or, say, baby announcements, and trying to find colors that work together.
  • Word Count Plus: Counts number of words in selected text. Can add the count to a running total. This has been a huge help to me with teaching online, to easily make sure students meet the posted word count.
  • IE Tab Plus: Many websites don't adequately test for compatibility with Firefox, so they don't display properly in my browser. When this happens, switching on IE Tab usually fixes the problem.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Do Me a Favor

For my final post about Eleanor's party (I swear), I'm wondering how other parents of young children feel about the whole party favor situation. I feel like it's kind of a no-win prospect. I always end up spending more money than I want to, on dumb toys that break after 5 minutes. And I try to avoid the candy, because I know that's usually the last thing I want Eleanor to have, after a day of loading up on sugar: more sugar to bring home! But I feel like I'll "look bad" or unprepared if I don't do the favors.

Who likes the favors? Are they necessary? How did the favor bags start, anyway?

This year, I bought small books from the dollar section at Target, and some punch balloons. Then I spent most of the "favor budget" (not that there really is one) on craft supplies. During the party, we had a folding table with cardboard crowns and stars/dowel rods to make wands, and a ton of different crafty items for kids to decorate their crowns and wands. I think I liked doing that a lot better than the typical party favor. It gave everyone (not just the kids!) something to do during the party, and they could take home something they made themselves.

Plus, we adults had fun with the crafts, too! I know I had a great time planning and buying materials and helping Eleanor "make sure it all worked" before her friends arrived. And we have lots of leftover craft supplies, to enjoy many more times. If you have any other suggestions about party favors, I'd like to hear them!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Present Situation

I know that Eleanor's birthday party was weeks ago, but I'm still thinking about a few of the kid-related party issues that come up every year. So indulge me, please, as I reflect on her party, and whether we want to do things differently next year.

So far, we've thrown pretty big parties for her. We invite family on both sides, lots of her friends and their parents, and some of our own friends as well. For Eleanor's 3rd birthday, there were almost 30 adults present, and 11 kids (all under the age of 5). We're always pretty excited that we've made it through another year, and we want to share that joy—and surprise—with our friends and family.

However, with inviting so many people, I always feel awkward about presents. There's a range of relationships represented, and I don't really feel that it's necessary for everyone to give her a present. Her grandparents always ask for ideas weeks in advance, and get her the best presents (better than ours, for sure). I'd never really bother telling them not to get her anything, because it would be fruitless. On the other hand, there's more casual acquaintances that we'd like to come and celebrate with us, but I wish there were a better/less awkward way to really convey to them, "We don't expect a gift. Honest. No one will be upset."

Every year, we put "No gifts required." on the Evite, but mostly it gets ignored. The other part of the problem is when people actually believe us. We have done the typical kid party sequence where everyone hangs out for an hour or so, chatting, grazing, playing, waiting for the majority of party attendees to show. (Although with kid parties and naptimes, I'm not really bothered if someone shows up more than an hour late.) When we think everyone's arrived, we gather together to light the candles, sing "Happy Birthday" and pass out the cake. Once everyone has their cake, then Eleanor opens her presents.

How do we not do this as a public spectacle? Because when we do, it can seem kind of awkward for those few brave souls who come without a present in hand, because we say "Don't worry about it!" on one hand, and on the other hand it seems like we're publicly calling them out for their lack of gift. I thought this year we would go around and open up presents in front of individual people so it was less public spectacle and more personal. That way everyone could see the reaction to her opening the gift (fingers crossed it's always good!), but by moving around hopefully there's not as much emphasis on the present-opening as show, so people aren't keeping track or feeling awkward about what they did or didn't bring.

Except, that didn't really work. I didn't really take into account that all of the presents would be in a pile right by her seat, and she just kept diving in. Plus other kids always love to help (I must point out, Eleanor is always that kid at others' parties, trying to rip the paper or pull out the tissue paper), so it was Eleanor and I plus various toddler helpers, and our group was not terribly mobile. So we still ended up sitting in front of the group, opening presents in front of all.

What do you do for kids' parties? Does everyone bring presents? Do you open them in front of all? As a guest, do you ever feel comfortable not bringing a present, even if specified on the invite?

I'm thinking next year might be the year to scale back a bit, and have Eleanor's first "friends" birthday party with just a few invitees. But, when the time gets close, I'm not sure if I'll be able to stick to that. So we might be confronting the situation all over again. Not to mention, we're doing it all over again in October!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Photo Challenge: Lines

Both Keith and I have been slackers for the Shutterboo Weekly Photo Challenge lately. For Keith, that means taking a picture somewhere in the house late on Tuesday night, before the new photo's due on Wednesday. For me, I take it a step further and don't post about his pictures at all. So there! I'm a more dedicated slacker than my husband.

But this week, Keith had a great idea. Instead of going for the straight forward image of "lines," he thought of lines in a play. I spent a futile half-hour trying to track down the script from when I was the lead in a play in high school (Did you know I was a drama nerd in high school? I totally was. President of the Drama Club and in all the plays.) I thought that would be cool because not only would you see lines, but you'd also have highlighting and blocking notes, etc.

When that search failed—I know it's around here somewhere, though!—Keith went back to my trusty Norton Shakespeare from college. He chose the famous "to be or not to be" speech from Hamlet and started snapping.

The problem with the Norton, however, is that it's massive. The pages are all tissue-paper thin, and the words are miniscule. So the words from the other side of the page were bleeding into the current page, and it was hard to even get enough words in focus to really convey his idea.

He took a few pictures of the play and, dissatisfied, went back to a more obvious interpretation of lines, laying out match sticks on the dining room table. He showed me a few of those pictures and asked me which I liked best. I immediately asked why he'd abandoned the play idea, and he told me about the difficulties he was having with it. I scrolled further back on the camera (just a reminder that there's no way challenges like this would have been at all feasible before the wonder of digital cameras) to see the play pictures. I could understand what he was saying about the difficulties of composition, but I still liked the idea so much, I thought it might be worth sacrificing a bit in the clarity of the image to preserve the overall theme.

As I argued my case for Shakespeare, Keith looked a little more closely at one image in particular. He decided that maybe he could crop it and, by getting rid of much of the out-of-focus text, make the in-focus text larger and more legible. He also did something to make the image more monochromatic. "It's so dramatic!" I couldn't resist saying when he showed me the final version:


I'm glad he stuck with his original idea, because I thought it was very unique and more interesting than simply a visual take on "lines." Just reading part of this play, however, makes me realize how long it's been since I've seen live Shakespeare, and how much I miss it. Alas, I don't think there's going to be much of that in our near future. Maybe I'll have to settle for a Kenneth Branagh movie. But then I could read the lines as I watch, which is also good. I'll keep my Norton handy!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Wrong Name Seems So Right

Keith and I have finally started looking in earnest at baby names. Of course, "looking in earnest" means trying to seriously discuss some real potential candidates ... a discussion which quickly devolves into suggesting totally inappropriate possibilities (like Landon, so he could be Land Lubbers).

Last time, we quickly agreed on a boy's name and couldn't really make up our minds about a girl's name. When we drove to the hospital for Eleanor's birth, we still had a list of at least 10 girl names. Eleanor was at the top, but still by no means a certainty.

This time, we're having the opposite issue. I think we're close to agreement on a girl's name, but have no idea what we want for a boy's name. I know we picked one last time and didn't use it, but it's too late. We don't really like that name anymore, so we're back to square one.

I've been looking at baby name websites, of which there are a million, and keeping a list of any boy names with potential. During this search, I discovered that Gomez apparently means "the man." Gomez is, of course, the name of our adorable little female kitten. Whoops!

Of course, as a neutered animal, gender is really a moot point for her. And I always maintain that there's more leeway with pet names than with kids. I can name a pet something slightly ridiculous and, perhaps, gender-bending, and have no qualms about it, whereas I tend to be very straightforward with children's names.

We chose the name Gomez for our favorite band, then we got the cat; irregardless of the cat's gender or appearance, it was going to be a Gomez. She may not be masculine. She is not even human. But somehow, she's still a Gomez and we love her!

(And no, Gomez is not in the running for the baby's name, girl or boy.)

Friday, August 05, 2011

Looking Up

Eleanor often role plays where she is Mama and I'm Eleanor. Usually, she is wearing a pair of my shoes, grabs a bag, and heads off to work.

"I'm sorry, honey," she coos, "but I have to go to work."

I stomp my foot. "Why?" I whine. "I want an Eleanor/Mommy Day!"

"I know," she replies soothingly. "We can have an Eleanor/Mommy day tomorrow. But today Aunt E and Gavin and Olivia are coming over."

"Noooo," I argue. "I don't want them to come. I'm not going to have any fun."

"Yes you will," she says. "You'll have a fun time playing with Gavin."

Whenever we switch roles like this, I am always reassured by the fact that she is unfailingly kind, compassionate, and polite. She doesn't yet. She is very concerned about my feelings. One good way to know that she's pretending to be me is that she uses terms of endearment like "honey" and "sweetie" all throughout her speech. She does this when being Mommy on her way to work, Mommy putting Eleanor to bed, Mommy trying to convince Eleanor to get up off that floor, put the book down, and get her shoes on so we can get to the store already.

I'm very happy to know that my irritation and short temper are rather well hidden. If this is how she thinks I feel and act all the time, I'm doing well!

Now, the tone she uses with the animals ... that's a different story.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

End of the Grading

Yesterday I was talking about the end of the summer semester, but was mostly focused on my concerns about what comes next. Today I'm just focused on grading and wrapping up this class.

Final essays were due yesterday. I thought I'd get a lot of them graded during the day while my sister watched Eleanor. I thought my students would be eager to finish the semester. Alas, I overestimated their eagerness to finish, and underestimated their procrastination tendencies. Out of the 10 essays I was expecting, only 4 were turned in early enough that I could grade them during my "work" hours. A student emailed me at 10:30pm, the night before essays were due, to ask some basic questions about essay content. The kind of questions that should have been asked long, long ago. I'm not looking forward to grading that essay.

Teaching online has been .... interesting. I have really enjoyed the shorter, weekly assignments, and having the opportunity to respond to their writing regularly throughout the semester, instead of on only a few bigger assignments. If it's a case of practice makes perfect, in some ways I think being in a 100% written environment, as opposed to verbal class discussions, is more effective than a traditional classroom. I also like that it's much easier and clearer to require the same participation of all students online. It doesn't matter if you're shy; everyone is required to make X number of original discussion posts and Y responses to your peers. End of story.

Online, it's also much easier to define "participation" in a clear way. If you are regularly signing into the course site, making your posts on time, and completing quizzes, you are participating. If you're not doing those things, then you're not! None of this showing up to class but not paying a lick of attention to the content. (Yes, I'm aware that using the phrase "lick of attention" makes me sound 80 years old, but oh well.) I also took the advice of a colleague and noted in my syllabus that, if a student hasn't logged into the course site in two weeks, I will block that student from accessing the site and will only allow access to the student if he or she contacts me directly and explains the absence. So much more straightforward than the ones who disappear from class and, just when you think they're gone for good, they show up again, expecting to get an A!

On the other hand, I don't feel like I really know my online students. It bothers me a bit that I could walk past them on campus and never know. Two students, maybe three, came to meet me in person this semester. Most of them declined that option. Sometimes I feel like I'm just sending information out into the void ... I don't get much feedback on what is working or not, so it's hard to believe that I'm teaching effectively.

Of course, every time I've taught a class for the first time, I end the semester feeling like I won't really have the hang of it until I teach at least one or two more times. I need to try out several different strategies before I have a good sense of what really works. At the end of a semester, I also immediately know that there's some parts I would want to change, and others I would keep. Then the majority of the class format, assignments, etc., could go either way.

I am glad that I've had the opportunity to teach online. I think that what I've learned about the benefit of short, weekly assignments will definitely affect my traditional classroom teaching strategies. I'm just sorry, from a pedagogical perspective, that there's going to be a break between teaching online and going back in the classroom. From a grading perspective, I'm ready for the break!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

A Pause in Gainful Employment

This is my last week of the summer semester. Since I'm taking off the Fall for the arrival of Little Sibling in October, I won't go back to work until January ... or possibly even later. I'm still not sure how childcare is going to work with two kids: one a 3-year-old who is going to AM preschool Mon/Tues mornings, and the other a newborn. Add that to a class schedule that will definitely NOT be Mon/Tues mornings and it just seems so messy. In theory, I do want to go back to work. I know that I'll miss it. In reality, me going back to work for one or two classes in the Spring may cost us more money that I would make. We'll see what happens.

I want to be excited about being home full-time. I was more excited about it, when it was further off. I'm starting to get worried, though. Honestly, I just don't know what kind of stay-at-home mom I'll be. From my perspective, being a SAHM seems like a LOT of hard work—a lot of unpaid, underappreciated hard work, 24/7. I foresee my patience constantly being tested, and very little time away from home and children to refill the inner serenity pool.

Balance is something that I am constantly seeking, but rarely find, in my life. Work/home balance. Spending/saving balance. Time for self vs. time for others balance. It seems like there's an opposite side of the coin for nearly all important aspects of my life ... and one side always gets short-shrift. I'm afraid that the idea of balance is going to get even further out of my reach when I'm home.

I know; I'm looking at this all the wrong way. I'm looking at the negatives, and not the positives. I know there will be positives, too. There'll be more time to run errands, so I won't be as stressed to get them in. We'll have more lazy afternoons and spontaneous trips to the playground or museums. (That part I definitely am looking forward to.) What I'm most looking forward to is not constantly splitting my attention between home and work. As a teacher, I don't get to leave my work at the office. So, every naptime, I'm always asking myself, "Do I try to get work work done, or accomplish something around the house?" I'm greatly anticipating the lack of that question, and being able to be happy, at the end of the day, with getting things done around the house and not worrying about all the work work that may be lurking on the computer.

This is the point where my own wise mother would probably tell me to "cross that bridge when I come to it." There's no point in worrying about being a SAHM until I am ... and then I can really find out what annoys me. I'm (mostly) looking forward to it ... I think!