Friday, October 31, 2014

Ponderings on Why I Have Little Motivation to Engage in Primary Field at the Moment

So today, I should be spending the day going to an event in a city within driveable distance related to research in my field, but I'm not going to.  Instead I'm going to do a whole list of other things around the house.  (Halloween snuck up on me!)  I feel a bit bad, but I also know that there are a lot of people excited about this thing (my not going is not screwing anything up or preventing anyone else from going), and that I'm not.  I hate leaving my home and family (though if it were for Secondary Field, I'd probably have left by now, I'm so starved for community around that).  Even though it's research and I realize many people are so motivated and excited about research that it doesn't feel like work to them, to me it feels like work.  It's in an area that I've been interested in for a long time but I don't really know what I would do with it.  So there's that.  There's also that I'm burned out, probably.  Going up for tenure and all that.  I think it's also that I'm excited about Secondary Field (aka One True Beloved Field once, the field I entered graduate school to study and then moved away from during my program) and just not really interested in even neat peripheral-to-my-work goings-on in Primary Field, for the moment.  I was reading Dr. Crazy this morning, and I wondered how much this has to do with the fact that I teach in a service department and therefore have no students in my field, no one who really cares about Primary Field (except a couple colleagues who are the type who would do scholarship in the absence of any support:  they love it) and that is also somewhat disengaging to me.  Left with the question of what I truly love, I love Secondary Field.  I'm trying to engage in it regularly, as in every day.           

The beautiful gift that going up for tenure has given me is the freedom to focus on what I love.  I may never get to Full Professor, but I'll do what I love and live out my dream (which has always been about Secondary Field).  That's enough for me. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

This Week's Top Left Quadrant Check In: with Additional Homeschooling Notes

Is it too crazy for me to try to get in some writing-related work every day in November?  30 minutes?  That would be beautiful, as I haven't been writing this past week barely at all (though I did print things out today, which is the next step in my process).  It's definitely worth a thought. 

Last Week's Goals and How I Fared:

1. Live through it.:  I barely made it but I did -- a zillion student conferences, child's birthday complete with party, and a whole grant-related thing that turned out to be terrific but so so early.   
2. Take super care of self this week, including getting foods that will keep me from eating really bad food. Sleep. Get the best sleep I can.:  Getting the best sleep I could sometimes meant precious little sleep.  I ate terrible food this week, yet still Partner is talking about how thin I'm getting.  (I'm nowhere near thin -- this purely a comparative term, though sweet.) 
3. 3 30-minute sessions with Beloved Field:  No.  No, did not do.  Not even close.
4. Turn in assessment plan and get student papers graded.  I did get these done.

And I also got these major things done, which represent a major move forward:

5.  Went to the dealership and test-drove and put a downpayment on my car, which they have to find.  I'd been putting this off forever.
6.  Took up the black mulch from the front garden bed.  Partner had a brilliant idea of putting the raised garden bed there instead of the back -- and it totally works, though that's a place that is absolutely sun-drenched most of the day with light colors behind it.  I think that the crops that love the warmth will love this place and everything else I can shade with big giant umbrellas like film starlets.  Partner loves the idea too so we can devote more of the back to chickens and blueberries.  And I love the idea of an orchard in this back area we have. I'm about to buy a leaf blower so I can shred our fallen leaves for mulch.  I love it! 

This Coming Week:

1.  Continue gardening momentum.  Pick up leaf blower.  Use leaf blower.  Get wire mesh for bottom of raised bed for garlic.  Get lawn and leaf bags.  Work on the front bulb bed.  Gotta hurry up.  Snow's coming!

2.  Take care of self with good food and good sleep.  This is especially important as I have very achy sciatica.  Take mental discipline seriously.  Be kind to self in mind and body.

3.  Plan workshop early in the week instead of going crazy at the last minute.

4.  Work in as much homeschooling as I can while I'm home several days this week.  Today the little bugger, my darling child, had the audacity to ask for Life of Fred!  After I was so proud of learning my lesson and moving on to Singapore Math!  He says he wants to see if there's a number bigger than vigintillion.  What can I do?  He actually moved forward in both curricula today, but then didn't do his reading or handwriting.  We did, however, start some literature:  Kipling's The Jungle Book.  I can't believe I've been so neglectful of his exposure to literature.  I mean we did read Peter Pan and Stuart Little but that's it.  That ends now.   

5.  Start work on getting Great Class proposed to the Curriculum Committee. 

6.   Do as many 30-minute sessions on Beloved Field as I can.  Maybe I'll do my own version of NaNoWriMo.   

Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Early Morning Kvetch and Notes on Homeschooling

Good morning, I think.  I'm so tired.  So I'm teaching a night class which totally messes with me sleep-wise, and I've been meeting with each of my students for the last two weeks.  And then today I have to be on campus at 8:30.  You know, like in the morning.  I just get grumpy when I look up at a clock on campus when I'm already tired and wearily note that though I'm still not able to go home yet, I have to be back in 12 hours.  Anyway, as Winchester said in M*A*S*H about a slightly different hour:  I only recognize on 8:30 per day and this is not it.  But the worst part is 8:30 is not 8:30, it's really 5:30 in sheep's clothing because that's what time I have to wake up to get to campus at 8:30.  All told, this means I've had precious little sleep.  Oy gevalt.  I hate this. 

House projects are continuing, due almost exclusively to Absurdist Partner.  The last few days I seem to specialize, when at home at least, in panic and jibbering.  We've had two frosts, at least, but have I managed to get the raised bed together?  No.  Planted the bulbs (which is a huge project where I have to take out hostas planted on a ridiculous sun-filled southern exposure -- oy, I will never understand that one)?  Of course not.  Nor have I put the composter together, though I did order it, which was on my list.  I think I'm only getting items off my list that I can do on my computer.  Maybe this has something to do with the fact that my left hip aches and I get these pains all the way down my left leg.  I assume it's sciatica, but oh!  it hurts more when it's cold.  I did my favorite workout and did not push it or anything and was so sore, not in my muscles, which felt fine, but in my joints.  I'm old.  What's more, I did not take care of myself when I was young.  Meh.

So we got a late start with homeschooling because of when Absurdist Partner stopped working and all the craziness around here, but start we did.  And Absurdist Child and I would do things, but it never seemed official, never seemed like enough, like I was supposed to provide school for 6 hours.  Then I decided to look to the wisdom of the interwebs about how much "seatwork" a first grader should be doing:  about 1-1/2 hours.  (Absurdist Partner reminded me:  they do a lot of things in school that are not academics, so the focus on at-home academics can be pretty short at this age.)  So it turns out, everything's fine.  And instead of really needing to make sure he covers all these subjects, the important things are these:

  1. Reading:  Especially with his eye problems, reading can be a challenge, something he doesn't jump up and do.  But he needs to practice.  
  2. Writing:  He loves to write lists, but there's always on unlined paper and in full caps.  He needs to work on his handwriting, and we have a great book for this:  Handwriting without Tears, which is especially good for left-handed children.
  3. Math:  We started with Life of Fred, which is this narrative about a five year old professor at KITTENS University.  I find it charming, and they sneak in all sorts of cool info about Archimedes.  But I learned a very important lesson:  just because I'm into it doesn't mean my kid's going to be into it.  AC loves numbers and, crazily, computation, so Life of Fred's narrative style with very few problems was just not really his thing, though he'd do it occasionally because he knew it made me happy.  So when I finally figured all this out, I went researching different math curriculum because I'm a bit concerned that his knowledge is too piecemeal.  (For example, he knows how to carry and, less reliably, how to borrow, but is confounded if you ask him where the tens place is.  He is clearly gifted in math as well as logical reasoning, our little litigator-in-training, and gifted kids often just know things without knowing how they know, but I do want him to be able to answer those kinds of questions.)  I got Singapore Math.  He sailed through the first assessment test, but then had problems with only specific aspects of the second, so we got him the books for 1B, and he's been sailing through it.  Honestly, I think I'm going to let him skip the repetitive stuff.  I can't wait to be able to sit down with him and go through this one particular workbook lesson, but with all this busyness, it hasn't happened yet.  
And then the rest of "school" is following up on his interests and going to nature education classes, which AC loves.  We've been getting lots of books about animals, his current obsession, from the library.  I did start him on some history, and so he wanted a book on Stonehenge.  I do the library trips but I don't often get to do the reading with him; I've never cracked the Stonehenge book since we got it.  And that's a significant source of crankiness at the moment:  this feeling that I'm not at home enough, not connected to the family enough, which makes sense since I just had my long day, when I was gone from 10-10.

It will get better, I tell myself.  And in any case, Dory's always right:  just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

Have a great day, everyone!  And a lovely weekend. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Goals for Keeping Sane This Quarter

So I'm doing Top Left Quadrant this term because I do so much better with constant reflection and planning and accountability.

I just spent the last month pretty jazzed about my renewed engagement with Secondary Field, my original field that I love.  I need to blog about that actually. This is a huge priority for me, though I find it difficult to find time during the day for it.  (But I proved to myself that I really can manage to do a lot at night or even in the morning if motivated.)

So here are the big goals, most of which feel impossible at the moment (but I didn't get enough sleep either):

-Keep up Secondary Field momentum.  How best to do this is something of a question.  (Just do it.  Any old way, some part of me begs.)

-Schedule and be firm about making enough time to properly prep and grade for the intensive classes I have this quarter.  (My family is very home-based, and I plan to be at home more this quarter, but this means doing work at home, which is sometimes very difficult for me to do.  I just need to be firm about it -- not angry and panicked because I'm already too far behind.  This really is my problem rather than the family's problem.)  Next step:  figuring out times when I can regularly schedule work time.

-Stay engaged with my child's homeschooling (though my partner is definitely going to have to pick up on that).  To make that concrete, I'd say that I should make sure to do at least two sessions with him a week or take two classes together per week (which are already on our scheduled actually, though as the weather turns, I imagine we'll want to stay home more).  This should be okay, but since I've never balanced work and homeschooling before, I'm nervous about it.
-Maintain gardening, composting (order that composter!), and holidays/family traditions through the term. 

-Take care of myself:  get enough sleep; eat good vegan food as often as possible (and no going to work with no food!); take supplements; exercise at least twice a week; try to catch up with the doctors, especially the eye doctor -- also find new doctors since the move; consider meditation or use writing as meditation; let loose sometimes (go out for drinks with Mentor).  Take that yoga class already?

-Keep up minimal research in my Primary field enough to not have to go insane right before a conference.  This means getting some reading and some notes done.  Next step:  schedule??  I really only need an hour or so per week for this.  (I want to focus my attention on Secondary Field for a while, which I get to do because I've already turned in my tenure dossier.)

-If possible, write some notes about intensive classes I'm teaching.

This is already really helpful as I think about how to make these ideas and goals concrete.

With the rest of this week?

-Prep for Monday.
-Exercise once between now and Sat.
-Do at least one more homeschooling session between now and Sat.
-Take care of self re: food, etc.
-Do 1/2 hr at least two days between now and Sat.
-Order composter.

And now I have to get up and get myself to work.  But this is good.  After working until midnight last night, I feel much more calm and centered going into my day.  I really want to avoid panic as much as possible this term.