Friday, January 29, 2010

Another Birthday

My youngest is eleven today. When I realized I was pregnant with him, I went through the usual steps of seeing my OB and establishing the due date. His was on his sister's birthday, January 17. When January 17, 1999 came and went, I cried. I really wanted the two to share a birthday. Little One, though, decided he needed twelve more days before entering the world.

The day he was born I had my weekly checkup with the OB. I had started dilating and I was feeling minor labor pains, nothing serious. My OB advised me to go ahead and check into the hospital since this baby was my third and the first two had come fairly quickly once the contractions had kicked in. I checked in around noon. Not long after, the contractions started, I dilated more, and the pain became excruciating. I was determined to do the birth naturally since I had with my second and survived just fine, but the longer the afternoon dragged on, the more I began thinking things weren't fine this time. My OB had assured me this baby wasn't going to go over nine pounds like my second child had, so I dug deep to find the will to stay with the natural birth. At 3:30 that afternoon, Little One entered the world at ten pounds nine ounces. If I had had the energy, I would have punched my OB right in the nose.

Now, eleven years later, the pain that wracked my body while giving birth to my third child is just a faded memory. When I look at him, I feel such joy and marvel at how this little human has some of me as a part of who he is. He still holds my hand. He still sits on my lap. He still gives me hugs and kisses when I drop him off at school. I know he's on the brink of not being a little boy any longer, so I'm soaking up all the affection he's willing to give. One day this affection will be just a memory, too.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Students Cheating

This week I had my students read an article about cheating/plagiarism. When class met, I asked the students straight up if any of them had cheated. Almost all of my students admitted to cheating, and on more than several occasions. While I had prepared myself for some students admitting to having cheated, I wasn't prepared for the number of hands that actually went up.

Most of the class.


The class discussed why students cheat, offering reasons like running out of time for when a project is due and simply being lazy. We then discussed ways to avoid running out of time and ways to overcome being lazy. At times, I see such honesty and such willingness to try to do better, but what happens when they walk out the door is out of my hands. I hope they at least think about the class discussion while they are working on their class projects, taking the initiative to do the work on the up and up. If their thoughts return to the class discussion, perhaps they will feel inclined to work on their integrity, just a little, just enough to make themselves feel a smidgeon of pride for doing honest work.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Sometimes things happen that just make me sink into a sadness I have a difficult time climbing out of. This morning a situation occurred with my hubbie that sent me spiralling downward. This evening, I'm still there. The tears threaten to spill, and I have to put a lot of effort into not succumbing to them. All this effort has worn me out, making me want to go to bed early, pulling the covers up over my head. I just want to hide.

When this kind of sadness hits me, it's usually brought about by being terribly disappointed by someone I love dearly. I try so hard not to disappoint those I love, so when I'm the one who is on the receiving end of being disappointed, I take it really hard. And I know the disappointment diminishes the love I feel for that person just a teeny-tiny bit.

I've often thought I need a punching bag to help me deal with times like this. When I feel the sadness overwhelming me, I can put on the gloves and start punching away, beating the sadness into submission. Though I've already worked out once today, maybe another round on the treadmill will help ease the melancholy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Two Weeks To Training

This evening the informational meeting for the mini-tri took place. My friend and I attended, along with about thirty others. The ages ranged from around twenty to sixties, so I was pleased to see I wasn't the only over-40 person there. The instructor emphasized how the training was to help us complete the mini-tri, not to win our respective gender/age divisions. I was really glad to hear that as I know I'm not going to be competitive in the running part, especially since the running is the last leg of the race. I think I'll do okay with the swimming and pretty good with the biking, but the running is going to be tough. I have right at three months to train. I need to kick it into gear.

The problem is everything else going on. The boys have basketball several times a week, so we're running to different schools anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour away. I'm trying to spend some time working on the book; I've made a good start and am determined to keep going. I really want to see this book come to fruition. I truly believe it has the possibility of becoming a great story. With work, the overload and the hours I have to spend prepping, the time needed to read and respond to student work, a huge chunk is taken out of my days. The frustration over time is mounting. Deep down, I know I have two choices: get up earlier and work out before getting ready for work, or stay up later and work out before going to bed. I loathe both of these options as I need at least eight hours of sleep to feel 100%, but if I want to put my all into this training and compete at my best, I need to get over myself and just do it. Between the two options, staying up later is more doable.

When I think about all the pieces of my life that are contributing to the frustration I'm feeling right now, part of me wonders exactly why I decided training for the mini-tri would be a good thing to do. All I did in making this decision was add something to my life to complicate things. For someone who strives to simplify, adding an element like mini-tri training seems counterintuitive. Another part of me, though, disagrees and sees the training addition as a lesson connected to the spiritual direction I am trying to take my life. Being mindful of what my body can do is something I want to focus on, and the training will allow me to do that. I will have to adjust my life some, and I will, because this is important to me.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Beautiful Daughter Turns 18

On this date 18 years ago I gave birth to my first child. My life changed that day. All because of a her. For 18 years, I have had the honor of learning exactly what it means to love. She has been my teacher. I joke at times that the child I brought home from the hospital cannot possibly be mine as she is too beautiful, too smart, too compassionate, too everything to truly be mine. I am constantly in awe of her. Those who come to know her see what I see and tell my what a great job I've done raising her. I cannot take the credit. She is who she is and has always been what she is all on her own. I was just the lucky one who was entrusted with her care 18 years ago.

Now, at 18, she is readying herself to go it alone after graduating from high school. She will attend college, though we are not sure where yet. She has been accepted into a couple of schools, but having always thought she would spend her first two years at the college where I teach since her tuition is free, I do not have enough for her to go where she really wants to go. She's been offered a scholarship to a private college not far from home, and I'm taking an overload this semester to make some extra money. I will also teach during the summer to make a bit more. The hope is the extra money will go into a savings account and be applied to her first year at the private college, reducing the amount we might have to take out in loans. She, too, will work this summer and save all her earnings to apply towards school.

This past week I kept in touch with her best friend via texting to plan a surprise party for her. We actually pulled it off. Last evening, after sending my daughter off to the store for bread, her friends came over, parking down the street so she didn't notice their cars when she returned. We gathered in the dining room, the lights off, and waited for her. When she walked through the door, her friends jumped out, yelling happy birthday. The smile on my daughter's face couldn't have been bigger. She acknowledged all of her friends then turned to me and said, "Nice job, Mama."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Already Thinking About Gardening

Though it's much too early to really be planting anything, I can't help but think about the coming warmth of spring and being able to put out my small garden. My spirit lives in the country, and sometimes the pull to up and run to the land overwhelms me. I know I'm living in the wrong house. I just can't convince my husband of this.

I can do small gardening around this house, mostly container gardening. The problem with trying to garden here is the trees. Two trees in the yard block out the sunlight for most of the day. Most veggies need more hours of sunlight than what we get. I've asked that the trees be cut down. I've demanded that the trees be cut down. Always, always the answer is no.

Since I can't have what I want, I'm going to have to be creative and devise a container system that will allow me to grow more in less space. I already have some planter boxes, but they're way to deep. The planning was all wrong at the time; it was sort of a whim to build them. Some leftover building materials were stacked against the wall in the garage, so we created boxes, not really thinking about depth. Those will have to be reworked.

Thinking about the coming planting is comforting though I do get sad that I have to do it around the wrong house. I just have to keep hoping that one day, my physical body and my spirit will meet and be at the right house.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Workout Woes

This semester I have my Tuesday and Thursday mornings free. I've always taught in the morning then worked in my office until time to pick up kids from school, but now, since my hubby is laid off, my daughter catches a ride with a friend, my middle son walks home, and hubby can pick up the youngest, I switced my schedule to office in the morning and teaching in the afternoon. Already I'm liking this as I get so much more done. Before, when I was finished teaching, I always felt like I was finished for the day. I would do some work, but more often than not I just didn't complete all that I should have completed. After only two days, I'm seeing a huge difference in what I get done just by doing office work in the morning.

So this morning, since I don't have to go in until noon, I went to the gym to run and cycle. After being away for a couple of days because of this chest cold, the coughing, and the fatigue, I found running to be difficult. I finished two miles, but I felt like I had run ten (I've never actually run ten miles, but I'm sure the way I felt would be exactly what it would be like if I had). I decided to go over and cycle for fifteen minutes, and even that was a chore. I had to stop a couple of times just to gather myself together and continue on. Being sick has really done a number on my endurance. My mini-tri parnter is sick right now, too, so I'm sure she's going to go through the same thing. I just keep thinking I'm glad I got sick now--maybe this means I will be well for the rest of the training period and through the mini-tri.

The pool has been calling my name, but I've been ignoring it. With my cough the way it is, I'm afraid to get in the water and try to swim laps. I don't know if I should be afraid of this, but my gut is saying don't listen to the pool. For the first time in my life, I'm going to go with what my gut is telling me.

Things could be worse. I could have an injury preventing me from training all the way around, so I'm trying to walk on the sunny side of the street. In a week, I'm sure I'll be back to my usual workout level.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Magic of the LP

My Christmas present was a turntable that can be connected to my computer. I can put on a record, import the music into my library, then download the songs to my mp3 player. This is so cool. My sons had never seen a record before I started buying them to play on the turntable. I had to describe to them how a needle fits into a groove then moves across the record as it spins around. They found this interesting, and ever since I came home with some oldies found at the thrift store, we've been enjoying listening to what my youngest refers to as "old people music."

This evening I put on REO Speedwagon. As I was folding clothes from the dryer, my youngest came in and said the guitar playing was "beastly." He chattered on about the different instruments he could make out, telling me the bass had a deeper tone than the electric guitar. I don't know if this is true as I'm not a guitar player and I know next to nothing about the bass, but I wouldn't be surprised if he is correct. He loves music and is learning to play the alto sax. After his first lesson, he was able to belt out what was very clearly "Jingle Bells." Maybe, just maybe, I have a music player in the family.

My next run to the record store will be this weekend. I'll take my youngest and let him pick out a couple of records for our growing collection. At $1 a piece, we can buy quite a few at a time. I feel like I've won the lottery with this turntable; I get to listen to really, really good music while my youngest sits next to me, tapping out the beat with his foot and telling me he prefers the "old people music" over the music his friends listen to.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

When It Pays Not To Take A Snow Day

The snow came during the night, putting another thick layer on top of the layer that fell right after Christmas. The clean of the white sparkled under the street lights. Looking out our upstair's bedroom window this morning at dawn, I thought maybe three inches. An hour and a half later, when I walked out to go to work, I found the accumulation was more like six or seven inches. Our street hadn't been plowed, and even main street was a mess. Most (all) of the local schools had declared a snow day, so the kids were home for the day, but my place of higher education remained in session. Since the students are not back yet, and only faculty are there preparing for next week's first days of the spring semester, the higher ups decided we should report. Thankfully I have a four-wheel drive vehicle, so I was fine getting to work. Most of my colleagues, though, decided the snow day applied to them and didn't come in. I took advantage of the situation and completed the copying of documents necessary for classes that will begin on Monday. Knowing I won't have to fight for the copy machine tomorrow or Monday is a wonderful feeling. While I don't care one way or the other that my colleagues didn't show up, I will have some fun watching them stress out over having to deal with taking turns to copy all the documents required for the first day of classes. Some, no doubt, will even bemoan the fact they'll have to go in Saturday or Sunday in order to get the copying finished in time. Should I be snarky and say, "Yeah, I'm so glad I showed up when everyone else took a snow day. I had the copier all to myself. It was wonderful"?

Now the wind is blowing the light snow, creating drifts. Another one to three inches of snow is to fall overnight, the winds increasing. Perhaps we'll get a real snow day tomorrow. I'm good with that. I'm ready to go for my classes on Monday.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

No Run, No Swim, No Bike

Due to a major head cold, the training has been put on hold for the last two days. I finally broke down and took a cold med this evening when I couldn't take the pounding headache any longer. I try to avoid taking anything when I'm not feeling well, but when the aching causes my stomach to become upset, that's when I cave. I've never been diagnosed as having migraines, but sometimes I get these headaches that make me feel like I've been in a smack-down. I can tell when they're coming on, so I head them off by taking an over-the-counter as I loathe the upset stomach. The last three days it's mostly been the scratchy throat, the sneezing, and a bit of a cough, so I was just riding it out, but today the headache took over. Ughhhhh.

To help pass the time this weekend, I searched for a training schedule for a sprint tri. I found several. I hadn't given strength training much thought, but most of the schedules have weight workouts built into them. Looking at the training schedules, they're very doable, so hopefully by April I'll actually be able to meet my goals for the sprint tri.

With me training for this event, I may be a little hyper-sensitive about the foods brought into the house, and this hyper-sensitivity may be affecting my relationship with my husband. He has no use for eating healthfully. He eats anything and everything and it shows. He admits he eats terribly and this is negatively affecting his health, but he continues to fill his body with these bad foods. Someone please help me understand this. Why, if one understands that what one is doing is harmful, does one continue to do the harmful behavior? My husband hates it when I say, "I don't get it" because I say this when we have discussions about personal behaviors and the choices people make. He says I have no compassion. I say it's about making excuses. Some years ago, during a discussion about these same issues, someone helped me understand it a bit better. While I don't remember exactly who it was who told me this, I remember what was said and believe it wholeheartedly. What was said went something like this: it's simple to make the choice to do what is easy. Doing what takes more thought, more effort, maybe even more pain is much more difficult. Lots of people will take the easier route.

I'm sure the next couple of months around here will be rough since the food battle is ramping up. Hopefully, we'll be able to come to a compromise.