Friday, July 30, 2010

Bear and vomit

Bear has just gotten over his second stomach bug in as many weeks.  I'm tired of smelling like vomit.  I just thought I'd share that.


In the next few days, I will be making some changes in an attempt to achieve more anonymity.  Please bear with me while I made these changes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


So trying to turn a dissertation chapter into an article is hard, much harder than I anticipated. I've spent the day trying to cut down the theoretical framework I outlined in the introduction of my dissertation into about 2 pages so that the discussion of space in my essay makes sense. I think it works, but I'm not 100% sure. Now I'm trying to edit and rework the chapter itself so that it works as a stand alone piece. The journal I've decided to submit to (it is a mid-level journal, so I think I stand a decent shot) accepts articles of 5,000 to 10,000 words; the chapter, in its original form, is 24,180 words. I know what needs to be cut out to make it work, but even with taking all of that out, I'm not sure I'll have cut out enough. But, as I keep reminding myself, at least I'm working. That makes me feel good.

Random Thoughts

  • I'm thinking so many things, some personal, some professional. I'm having a hard time processing everything. I want to write, but I seem to keep getting caught in other semi-mindless tasks that have to be accomplished, but that aren't nearly as rewarding as writing.
  • My nephew, whom I'll call Brown Eyes (BE) went home this weekend. He wasn't happy about it, but my sister wanted him home. It's nice to be our family of 4 again, but I also feel guilty for feeling that way. BE isn't getting enough attention at home, and while he was starting to drive me a bit crazy, I know his neediness was symptomatic of not getting enough attention. It was hard to parent a 13 month old, a 3 1/2 year old, and a 13 year old. I'm not sure I always did the best job of it as doing so often required a complete change of attitude every 45 seconds. BE's needs are very different than Wild Man's or Bear's, and although he is 13, his needs were not necessarily any less immediate. I'm very angry with my sister because I feel like BE has gotten lost in the shuffle of her life the last few years. I realize that I can't begin to understand what she's gone through (divorce, remarriage, two cross country moves due to jobs (well, I can relate to that), bi-polar diagnosis, and job loss) in the past 5 years, but I don't think that BE has been her main priority. When she didn't return phone calls for a week (3 from me, 2 from BE), I was pissed. When she finally got back to me, I let her know that regardless of her state of mind (she was having problems regulating medication) not calling the person back who is caring for her child is unacceptable. If she wasn't in a position to talk to me or to BE, she could have asked her husband to call us, and I pointed that out as kindly as I could. I'm worried about BE. My niece has survived all of this because she is more outgoing and makes her needs known. BE is quiet and fades into the background of the chaos at home. I told my sister and her husband that they need to be more aware of him and get more involved in his life. Sis actually seemed to pay attention, but who knows what will happen?
  • I need a social life, seriously. One of our dear friend's son's from Southwest College Town celebrated his fourth birthday this weekend, and she posted pics of the festivities on Facebook. I literally cried seeing all of our friends together. I miss those weekends. I know it isn't the same as several of the friends have moved away, but given my location in CU Land it is very easy for me to idealize those moments. I've made 2 friends here, and I'm working hard to cultivate those relationships. It isn't easy though to find people to hang out with, especially when all the other complications of life are added in. What was so great about life in Southwest College Town was that we all became friends before we had children, and then we had children at approximately the same time.
  • I'm continuing to write, and although I'm behind schedule, I'm hoping to have the article out by the end of next week, if not sooner.
  • I'm trying to be optimistic about the job market this year. I'm trying to get organized a head of time, and I'm already revising my letters. I don't have high hopes, but I'd like to have some interviews.
  • Wild Man has become a sassy preschooler, and I'm finding I don't have a lot of patience for backtalk. I feel like we end up sticking him in time out a lot, and I'm not sure that is a particularly effective form of discipline. I bought some stickers this weekend, and I want to make some sort of reward chart. I think that using positive reinforcement will be more beneficial that negative reinforcement.
  • I've had too much coffee this morning.
  • Bear is still not walking, but he is getting more confident about cruising around the house. He also says mama, dada, baba (brother), more, nana (banana), up, choo choo (he loves trains and cars), duck, and something that sounds like Wild Man's name. He is so different than Wild Man. We went to the park last night after dinner, and at this age, Wild Man was flinging himself down the slide head first. Bear will only go down the slide in my lap, and he refuses to let go of my or C's hand when he's on the climber. He is downright cautious in comparison to Wild Man.
  • We leave for vacation to see some of our best friends (including our lovely goddaughter) in about 10 days, and I can't wait.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Blogging the lost

I've seen some bloggy friends do this, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

I've misplaced the gift certificate that C and the boys got me for my birthday--a lovely certificate for a manicure and a pedicure at my favorite salon. I distinctly remember it being on the bar in the kitchen. Then in a cleaning fit in preparation for C finishing the kitchen renovations, I moved it. And I have no idea where. It was with my birthday cards, and as I rarely throw cards away, I seriously doubt it was thrown away. Where it is, though, I don't know. Here's hoping that blogging about it prompts it to show up so I can go for my lovely mani and pedi. . .

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Bear has been sick. Friday, around 10:00, shortly after I'd walked over to our neighbor's house to have a glass of wine, C called me to say that Bear had woken up vomiting. I trekked home to help C take care of the mess. Bear vomited 4 more times in the night, and C and I took turns sleeping and caring for Bear. By the morning he was better, and he was in a good enough mood that we went ahead with our plans to go blueberry picking. By that afternoon, however, he had a fever, which eventually hit 103 at some point in the night. He was an unhappy little guy, and as he was constantly pulling at his ears, we decided he needed to see a doctor.

On Sunday morning I took him over to the children's clinic, and we were seen pretty quickly. The doctor, whom we hadn't seen before and Bear loved, said he was in great health and that he most likely had some sort of virus that needed to run its course. He then asked me who our regular doctor was, and I told him. He then asked if she had ever mentioned that Bear had a bifid uvula. I said, no, and asked him what that was. He explained that a bifid uvula is a uvula that has a cleft in it. He then said a bifid uvula can be an indicator of a submucous cleft palate. He didn't really explain what that was, but he recommended we get an appointment with our doctor and get her opinion. He urged me to ask her to recommend us to a pediatric ENT for assessment. He reassured me that a bifid uvula isn't always an indicator of a submucous cleft palate, but that it can be. When I asked what problems it could cause, he was fairly casual and responded that it could lead to hearing and/or speech problems. So I left the appointment not too worried. I talked it over with C, and since we already have an appointment with our doctor for Bear in early August I didn't worry about it. Then, Sunday night, as I was awake with a restless Bear, I looked it up on google. Here is what I learned.

In a nutshell, a submucous cleft is a muscular deficiency in the soft palate that can lead to moderate to severe speech problems, most notably hypernasality. If this is the case, the only correction is surgery. If it is a more minor form, treatment is aggressive speech therapy and/or some sort of retainer to help correct and strengthen the mouth muscles. In the grand scheme of cleft palate issues, a submucous cleft palate is fairly minor, and from what I've read fairly easy to correct. I am, however, stressed out about this. This isn't the kind of thing I would normally get stressed out about. Normally if a doctor mentions a potential problem with one of my kids, I take the "Let's see approach." This isn't to say that I don't worry, but I am generally able to keep the worry to a minimum until we have all the information. I believe this saves me a lot of unnecessary stress, and yes, it is a conscious decision on my part. But this time, I'm worried. I don't know if it is the combination of lack of sleep (Bear is also cutting every tooth imaginable and I'm getting over the stomach bug, which I caught from him), PMS (of all weeks, my period, which I haven't had since giving birth to Bear, decided to return this week), and general stress (work stuff), but I'm really worried. I'm especially freaked out that he might have to have surgery. Normally, I'd just try to move our appointment with our doctor up, but our doctor is on vacation until the first of August, so I can't move it up. And I'm not fond of any of the other doctors in the practice. In the meantime, I'm analyzing every sound Bear makes to see if he has either a hearing or a speech problem, which is really unproductive as I'm not trained to do that. I'll also remind myself that we don't know if he has a submucous cleft palate and that if he does it is fairly easy to take care of in the grand scheme of things. Oh, and I'll try not to worry about it until the doctor's appointment in 2 weeks.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Still. . .

trying to write. I'm having some success.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Today . . .

I will write something.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wild Man decides on a profession

As I wrote recently, Wild Man has been very interested in C's dad. I think his interest stems, at least in part, from the time he recently spent with my dad and my grandfather, for whom Wild Man is named.

Last night in the bathtub, he asked about his Grandpa and his Great-Grandpa. As we talked about them, he then asked about C's dad. I explained that he would have called him "Papa," not "Grandpa." He then said, "But, Mommy, he died, right?" I said, "Yes, he got very sick, and he died." Wild Man pondered this for a minute. Here is the conversation that followed.

WM: When I get sick you take me to the doctor. Did Daddy's father go to the doctor?

M: Yes, he went to the doctor. Sometimes doctors can't make us better when we're very sick. Daddy's father was very, very sick.

WM: I will be a doctor when I get big. That way I can make sure nobody ever dies like Daddy's father did.

M: I think that would be wonderful.

When he told C this as C was putting him to bed, C had to choke back tears. He came into the room where I was nursing Bear to sleep and said, "M, I know we're doing something right because Wild Man has a heart bigger than mine or yours." Truer words were never spoken in my house.

A complaint

I really hate it when people either don't answer their phones or don't return phone calls in a timely manner. Seriously. I hate it even more when said person is my sister. Oh, and did I mention that her son has been visiting us for the past two weeks? It seems like returning a phone call to the person caring for your child might be high on your list of things to do.

Another Job Update

Yesterday I spent the bulk of the day working out my teaching schedule. It seems I was teaching too much. At CU, which is unionized, there are limitations to how many courses a "part-time" person can teach. In theory these rules are meant to protect part-time employees from being taken advantage of; in reality, it seems to cause part-time people stress as these people often need to teach more courses in order to make a living.

With the courses I taught this summer and the courses I was asked to teach over the regular academic year, I was teaching 2 more courses than I was permitted. Of course, the system here is really confusing, so I didn't realize this until someone pointed it out to me. I then spoke with one of the department heads, and she offered to write the dean to ask permission for me to receive an overload. She did this, in part, because I'm teaching a special topics course for her department, and she didn't want me to turn that course down. Dr. Writing and I spoke through email, and I then emailed the head of the English department, Dr. Interested (I'm calling him this because he's shown a lot of interest in my work). I asked him for his advice as he is the only department head who has an understanding of my research and who has read and commented on my CV for me. I told him that if I was going to turn down any courses I would turn down one in his department as it is a course that I haven't taught before and uses a standard syllabus that includes 4 books I've never even read before (this is the online course; and it focuses on British lit. Oh, and right, I'm an Americanist.). He was really, really helpful. He told me point blank that he knew of other people who could teach the course, so I shouldn't feel bad about turning the course down. He then went on to say that my CV is really strong in terms of my teaching, and that if a position were to become available in my area (which is a distinct possibility in the next year or so), he can make a strong case for me given my teaching experience. What I am lacking is research. He urged me to do what was best for me so that I could focus on my research, something Dr. Writing said in a much less direct way. So after a long talk with C and a bit of tears (I really, really didn't want to turn down an English course), I finally decided to turn down that course. So now instead of teaching a 4-4 load, I will be teaching 3-3. I will have only 1 new prep in the fall, and the winter will all be repeats. Theoretically this will give me some time to work on job materials and to research. I'm still feeling a bit conflicted about all of this, but I think it was the right decision.

I am still teaching 1 more course than I should, but Dr. Writing has spoken with the dean and seems to think that I will be approved for an overload. She needs me to teach these courses, so I'm hopeful I will get approval. I'm also hopeful that the dean will take notice of how much I'm teaching and begin to wonder if it isn't more effective to have me on staff in a more permanent way. But I'm also doubtful that will happen any time soon.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I am struggling a bit lately. I'm no longer certain who I am professionally. I'm no longer 100% certain what I want out of my professional life. There I said it. So what does that mean? I'm going to break this down into two categories.

What I know
  • I know I am a good teacher. My last set of student evaluations were high, really high. For the 2009-2010 academic year at CU Land (a year in which I taught 4 courses in 3 departments), my average score was 6.4 out of 7, which is a full point higher than the university average.
  • I love teaching. I seem to have found my groove teaching. I'm having a great time designing courses and preparing lectures. I even seem to have found a way to make professional writing enjoyable for my students.
  • I am also enjoying advising students, and my students seem to be responding to me really well. I have several come to me for advice throughout the year, and I've even had a few request to work with me on the Master's Projects now that they are in the grad programs at CU. Unfortunately, because I'm only considered part-time, I can't work with graduate students.
  • I am happy with my teaching, but I'm considerably less happy with the uncertainty of my position. I've had several conversations with the head of the Writing Department and the head of the English Department. Both seem interested in having me on their faculties in a more permanent way. For a variety of reasons, it isn't going to work out in Women's Studies. I'm not great at advocating for myself. I'm not great at selling myself or at "schmoozing," even though I know I need to do this in order to get what I want.
  • I've figured out how to balance my teaching with my family, and I'm happy with this, very happy. I'm at a point where (Summer teaching aside) I rarely have to do work at home. I am able to focus on my boys, and I love that.
  • As much as I love teaching, I'm growing increasingly frustrated by my limited time to do any of my own work. I've written nothing, literally, since I graduated last August. I have stacks of books checked out, and I've written some notes on how I want to revise two of my chapters. I even have contacted an editor at a reputable press, but I haven't had time to write.
  • C is doing really well. He seems to have gotten a really great handle on how to do research. He's been awarded 3 grants since he has been at CU; he's given two invited lectures and has been asked to give another at an Ivy League school; and he's submitted two articles for publication (1 has been accepted, and he's waiting to hear about the second). Oh, and he's submitted a book prospectus and received a letter of interest from the publisher. He is currently working on the first chapter and has a clear plan to have a draft of the book done in 18 months.
  • We're happy in CU Land. We're still struggling a bit with making friends, but things are getting better.
  • That's what I know.
What I don't know
  • I'm not certain I want a tenure track job at an R1, which is what CU is. C and I have a handle on me being the "teacher," and him being the "researcher." When he needs time on the weekends to work, we have found a way to balance that. I'm not sure we can handle two "researchers" and still manage our family as well as we do.
  • I'm not sure I want to be a "researcher." I don't feel very successful at it right now. As I wrote above, I have a lot of confidence in my teaching. When I present at conferences, I get a lot of positive feedback, but I haven't had time to revise anything and submit for publication. I also feel like I live in a bit of black hole right now. I have no one to talk to about my work. It has been really hard to meet people in the English department, and the people I've met in the Writing department aren't in my field. I miss being part of an intellectual community, and I'm not great at introducing myself to people (see "schmoozing" point above).
  • I don't know if I want to deal with all the BS that accompanies a tenure track appointment. I see a lot of the stuff that C has to deal with, and while I want more job security, I don't have to deal with committees or departmental politics at all. Well, okay, not at all, but only in a very limited way. I fully realize that I also don't get a lot of the benefits that accompany a tenure track appointment.
  • I don't know if I'm done having children. There I also finally admitted that. My feelings on this are so conflicted and are also very tied up in my identity as a female academic and a feminist. On so many ways I would love to have a third child, but I don't know if we can balance a third child with an academic lifestyle. I feel like a third child is absolutely out of the question if I get a tenure track job, especially at CU Land. I feel like I have to choose my career over my family, at least with this decision. I also feel like I won't be taken seriously as an academic if I have 3 children. In all honesty, I feel like I'm pushing it with 2 children. There are lots of other factors wrapped up in this, but these are some of the driving issues.
This is where I am today. This is all quite likely to change tomorrow or as soon as I publish this post. I'm struggling. I acknowledge that. I don't know if there are any definite answers for me, at least at this point. I'm constantly thinking about these things, and I think I will be considering these for a long time to come.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Full time

Tuesday, as we picked Bear up, his teacher said, "We have a full time slot opening on Monday and one on the 26th. Which do you want?" Even though I knew this day was coming, my heart sank a little bit. Since December Bear has gone to daycare 3 days a week. It hasn't been easy to cram everything both C and I need to get done into a 4 day work week (the way we split child care usually meant we each got an additional days worth of work, although it may have not been in the same day), but we managed, in part because child care is so expensive here and because we weren't ready to send Bear full time.

At the end of the spring term, we talked about Bear and full time care at length. C isn't getting enough work done, and he has genuine concerns about tenure (which is the topic for another post). I'm not getting any of my own work done, and I have serious concerns about ever securing a t-t job. Wild Man starts Junior Kindergarten in the fall, and will only go to daycare half days, which means we can afford to send Bear full time. We both agreed it is the best decision, especially as I will be teaching a 4-4 load this coming academic year. We spoke with Bear's teacher and she said a spot would be opening up in July or August. I expected late July, not early July.

C wants us to take the spot that starts next week, and I don't want to. He has said it is totally my decision, so I don't know what to do. It seems a bit strange to be upset about sending Bear to daycare when I've already been sending him for 6 months. He just seems to be growing up so, so fast, and given my work schedule this past year, I really feel like I've missed a lot of time with him. There are times when he actually prefers C to me, and that makes me a little jealous. I do love that he and C are so much closer than C and Wild Man were when Wild Man was 1, but that also reminds me that I wasn't with him as much when he was an infant as I was with Wild Man. Or at least I don't feel like I was. I know that in many ways I got more time with Bear, but I also felt like I was going in 14,000 different directions when he was an infant. I think I'm suffering from some "my baby is 1" blues. This year has gone by so fast. I just want him to be my baby a little bit longer.

Random Updates

  • Yesterday I typed up a to do list of things I have to get done before the end of summer. The list is long, and I'd much rather just chill out for a few weeks. But I will start plugging away next week.
  • This week has been spent trying to beat the heat. The temps are in the 90s with 80% humidity, which isn't so hot for a girl from the South. But the South has AC and CU Land, not so much. In fact, C went out Monday and bought two window units so that we could sleep in relative cool. Bear has been miserable with the heat, and Wild Man isn't fairing much better. We installed one unit in Bear's room and the other in ours (Wild Man's room faces the street, and our condo association doesn't allow window units in those rooms). To stay cool, Wild Man has been sleeping on a pallet in our room. It's been a stressful few days because of the heat, but we're managing.
  • My 13-year-old nephew is visiting for a few weeks, and I'm having a hard time finding things for him to do. He asked to come visit b/c things are a little tough for him at home right now, so we said yes without really thinking about what he would do. Wild Man and Bear are maintaining their daycare schedule, and C and I are trying to get some work done. My nephew isn't great at keeping himself entertained, and every time I turn around he is standing right behind me. We don't know many teenagers in our area, so we're trying to come up with things for him to do next week. I want him to have a good time, but I'm not sure what he can do. We've already taken him to the library and the bookstore twice, he's played his video game endlessly, and he has hung out on campus with us. He's bored, and I'm getting a bit frustrated by his response of "I don't know" whenever I ask him what he wants to do. But Wild Man loves him, and they are getting a lot of time together. Plus he is getting some serious one-on-one time with C and I, which I know he needs.
  • Tomorrow we're heading to the beach with some friends, and I'm hoping Wild Man and Bear will enjoy it. These friends have teenagers, so I'm also hoping my nephew will click with one of them and spend sometime with them next week.
  • Now I have to go figure out what to do for lunch.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Job updates

While we were away I got my teaching offers in the mail. It seems I will be considered a full-time lecturer at CU for the 2010-2011 school year. This means I will be teaching a 4-4 load. I need to contact my rep in HR to find out what benefits, if any, this entitles me to. I have mixed feelings on this. The money is nice, and we will be able to save a significant portion each month, which means I may not have to teach so much next summer. It will be really time consuming, however, and I'm not looking forward to another year in which I have very little time to do my own work. I'm also not looking forward to another year on the job market in which I don't have much time to think about applications before I send them out. To that end, I'm going to spend the next several weeks getting course stuff, job letters, and writing samples organized. I also need to finish up an article I've been working on for months and get it out. I need to have that on my CV.

In other news, I will be "team teaching" Intro to Women's Studies this year. I put team teaching in quotations because this means that I will divide the course in half with another, tenure-track prof, who will be getting her term off without teaching in the spring. We've spent the past few weeks organizing the class, and it has been a huge hassle. Why? Because this is her service course, which means she teaches it all the time. She's very committed to the course, which I totally get. She's taught it a lot, and she knows what works. She wants to stick to that formula, which is cool. Except it isn't. Having just taught this course over the summer and having spoken to a lot of students about it, I think there are some fundamental problems in the way the course is designed. I think it is entirely too theoretical for an intro course (I don't think freshman are equipped to read Irigary, Butler, Spivak, or Lacquer), and I think there is a strong argument to be made for making the course a true intro class and using an actual women's studies textbook rather than a collection of readings. We fundamentally disagree, and since I am only the "part-time" person, I am the one having to give in. On some level, I don't feel like it is worth the fight, largely because I'm not tenure track, but I really think she's designed the course she wants to teach rather than the course that is best for the students. Before we left to visit family I sat down and compiled a list of readings that I wanted to include. I just got an email with the list she decided on; there are only 4 or 5 of the readings I wanted to include on the list. Oh, and she will teach all of those readings. This woman is also very difficult to communicate with. She doesn't proofread her emails and ends questions with multiple questions marks, which I find so incredibly annoying. I'm trying to remember this is something to put on my CV, but I think she and I will likely exchange words before it is all over with.

Monday, July 05, 2010

I'm still alive

Indeed, I am still alive. In the last two weeks, I've graded a lot of papers, turned in final grades, traveled to visit family for a week, picked up my 13 year old nephew who will be staying with us for a few weeks (that is a post unto itself), and tried not to lose my mind. I have a lot of things going on and a lot of things I want to blog about. I hope to be present more now that summer school is over.