Monday, September 28, 2009


I had people sitting on the floor during my first presentation.
The second presentation I had two people but I did not expect many if any on that one.

I'm excited because Andy had his first speech "homework" to work on this week. He can do the "k" sound in the middle of words so we just have to get it at the beginning of words so that is what we are to help with.

I also have my comps questions. I have to figure out roughly what I want to say and then memorize the citations to go with them. I have one week to figure and memorize and then I have to go type Monday and Wednesday of next week.

So I may not have many posts this coming week, but I assure you that life goes on.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Anticipation is such an interesting feeling.
Sometimes it is something that is even more exciting then what you feel when you actually get to the event you are anticipating.
It is something that can feel good and happy or nervous and scary depending on what it is you are anticipating.
In some ways it is easier when you have a definite time frame to work with rather than waiting for an event that you know will eventually happen or might happen but you do not know when.
Here are the things I am anticipating at the moment:
  • Jim will get a job. I don't know when or where, but each place he applies or interview sets my mind to whirling about how it might be should he get that job.
  • The state gifted conference. I am going tomorrow for the main conference day. I am presenting which is a little nerve racking...not so much for the having to stand in front of people and talk, but more for the "have I remembered everything", "will I remember everything that I wanted to say and that is important to say", and have I got enough handouts (closely followed by the...please, oh please let at least one person come to my session). Also, it is highly likely I will see people I know but haven't seen for a while. So that is kind of exciting and perhaps makes me a little giddy about it.
  • Monday I get my comps questions. I have a week to prepare to go sit and write. I have to organize my ideas and memorize my citations in that week between seeing and writing. I have done virtually nothing to prepare myself prior to actually getting the questions....well, that is not quite true. I have thought a little bit about where my notes and resources from my past classes are. I am hoping that I can really focus my preparation once I get my questions. I am excited and nervous all at the same time. This is big moment. I know so much more now then I did before and I think I'll be fine, but I get two tries to pass these and if I don't then no PhD for me. As I said...a little nerve racking but also exciting to think about being at this mile marker.
  • Dissertation. Part of me says don't worry too much about it until you pass comps. Part of me says that I should have started writing the first three chapters a year ago.
Anticipation is just a strange beast and he lives in me. I'm trying not to let him run wild too much.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Does it count?

Today, I had an email that there would be free fast food in my building for the people who work there.

The delivery time was on the bare minimum for when I might be able to grab some and then go pick up children from preschool.
Also, I am helping to supervise teacher education students who are learning about teaching literacy by actually tutoring at-risk readers. So I was not on campus normally.

The plan was that I could finish with the tutoring (which for an hour I walked between three different hallways modeling teaching techniques and checking in with the students and their students...that should count as exercise). Then I could run over, park, have just enough time to walk over to pick up a lunch, and then walk back and go pick up my own children. I could eat in the car so as not to laud it over my children that I had a special meal.

That was the plan at least....
I parked.
I walked (5-10 minutes over to the building).
I got food. I had a potty break, got some water... still no food, just lots of people milling around waiting for food.
So....I walked back to my car because I didn't dare to wait any longer and risk being late for pick-up at preschool.

So that should count as extra exercise right? I not only walked but I ended up without the fattening fast food.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Recently my children have enjoyed doing puzzles. We have a few smaller ones in the 12 to 24 piece range. Doug is actually pretty good at it on his own, Andy occasionally needs some guidance, and Josie is just getting started. With help they can actually reasonably do a 100 piece puzzle. A 500 piece is pushing it, but there is interest there.

In any case it is exciting to me because I love jigsaw puzzles and have not done one for quite awhile (cats and babies don't necessarily mix with doing puzzles). I look forward to the day when they are old enough to do a really big one that takes several days. And I will fondly remember my own childhood as we do it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I have to brag

I am proud of Doug and Andy.
Yesterday Andy helped me put away clean clothes. I can't say that every item made it still folded to it's destination, but he did get everything in the right spot that I told him to put it in.

Tonight, Jim gave the kids a contest to see who could go get undressed and in their pj's the fastest. Doug came out first with all steps completed including the additional step that he was already brushing his teeth.

Group Projects

Imagine group projects in grad school....yep they happen there too.

It sounds nice to have support and people to bounce ideas off of, but....well....
Imagine how hard it is to coordinate a bunch of middle or high school students and then add in that they have not only their own schedule but they might have children to work around also. And there you have working in a group in grad school.

Except then add in that even though there is a semi-sequential order to take educational research classes in that there are different ability levels and some people haven't had the prior classes for awhile.

And also add that it is online and some people might not check their online class every day and that this might be the first online class they are taking.

Then add in that the prof was on the late side of posting the group assignments so that it was doable if people were on top of everything.

But, then add in that I had a fever on Sunday and slept a lot.

So that has been my world the last few days.
Yep, that's been pretty much it.
I'm so looking forward to Wednesday when my groups' portion is over....and oh yeah I have a conference on Friday.....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Here is what is on my heart....

Something I have been thinking about lately can be summed up in two words...."education funding."

Now, I know this is on my brain partially because of Jim looking for a job and all of the horror stories I have heard about a hundred applicants for each opening.

However, it is one thing that has bothered me for a long time in living where I do. My state has horrible education funding. I know that there are other states out there that are better...but still these are our children!
Would you rather a principal retain a permanent sub or hire a certified teacher?
What about paying for decent places for our children to learn...Maslow would say that if you are too hot or too cold or not having your basic needs meet then you can not learn.
It's great that we teach English and Math and the core subjects...but to paraphrase Mr. Holland's Opus: Without music and art what would we write about?
There are not many jobs for multiple choice test takers out there and last time I checked we needed people with creativity.

Some of the decisions in education do not make sense to me.
How can we discourage children accelerating through the curriculum when it would help the children and mean that we spend less money educating them when they get done sooner.
How can we know that a child is learning below grade level and yet insist on testing him or her on grade level?

I personally do not want someone who can only answer multiple choice questions taking care of me in my old age. I want someone who is a critical thinker and who is a problem solver.

A bumper sticker I saw says "educations cuts are the cuts that never heal."
I realize that education has many stakeholders and that many of those stakeholders do not understand the classroom situations and are not familiar with research to be able to make an informed decision. I have met people who are so distrustful of politicians that they do not want to give them any money because they are sure the politicians will misuse it. However, sometimes it does take money to get something done (such as hire teacher to make a smaller class for more individualized education, or to put in air conditioning so that students can stay awake) and sometimes a small step is better than no step at all.

I'll get off my soap box now...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Parenting Tip #143

It is a good idea to have some spare socks with you....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Confucius say when there is no underwear it is time to fold the laundry.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I'm at the "what to do" phase

I'm at that phase where I am wondering what to do.
The boxes in the basement are mainly stuff from my classroom and stuff from the kitchen. It is not so much that I want to get rid of the kitchen stuff (even following the "if you haven't used it in a year throw it out" principle) but do I unpack it, repack it, leave it alone?
After I pass comps if every thing goes smoothly with my dissertation then we should only be in this house for a year plus a little bit longer....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Earning their keep

On Friday night I went down to feed Dodge and when I passed Hogan (one of our other cats) he was eying the bag of litter laying down on the floor in the hallway.
I didn't think much of it because the cat is a little strange and not so bright. He was still doing it when I came out from feeding Dodge so I thought...well he could be watching a bug and I will move the bag and squash the bug.

But then!
I moved the bag a bit and the thing between the bag and the wall was not the right shape or color for a bug.
I called Jim and we chased the mouse around the room for 10-20 minutes.
So what to do....
In case you were wondering two cats...even two declawed cats shut in a basement with a mouse for a day and a half will dispose of a mouse.
So that has been our excitement around here.
That and now Doug has picked up the fever Josie just got over.
Such is life and this too shall pass.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

How cool is that!

At the graduate student parent support event last night there were several cool things.
  • It turns out that the author who was reading her book is actually a college student who published a children's book.
  • The drew door prizes and we won (a lot...): I got a gift certificate at a local children's store (that I actually know the daughter of the new owners), Doug won a yo-yo, and Josie won three tickets for free bowling
  • Andy got to sit next to one of his favorite friends from last year (which is why he didn't notice that his brother and sister won things and he didn't).
  • We got dinner that the kids actually ate.
  • We also found out that our local library now has downloadable audio books that you can "borrow" for three that's cool!

Friday, September 11, 2009

State of the House

Josie- She might finely be over the fever that she had the past couple of days. It sort of explains why she was fussy about going to preschool on Wednesday. It's always nice to have your kid back after an illness.

Andy- A powerful force as always. I did check and despite the fact that all of his good friends from last year are in Doug's class he does seem to be finding kids to play with in his class. Weirdly enough we went to a graduate student parent support event tonight on campus and happened to sit next to one of his best friends from last year. She was pretty delighted to see him also.

Doug- I think he might be growing. For the past week about every 15 minutes I have been getting "Mom, I'm hungry" and I weighed him and he is actually 3 pounds more than Andy (prior to this they have never been more than half a pound). Other than he squished his best friend in preschool today (well...the story I got was that a big boy in a yellow shirt who has a small mouth, ears, and black hair that sticks up in the air and who might be named William had an idea to squish Dylan...) he is doing really well.

Jim- Still looking for a job...lots of applications out there. Hanging in there and enjoying extra time with the kids. Josie is all about "daddy" (until she gets hurt and then mom gets the crying). I can't remember if I mentioned (in blog) before that he broke up a potential fight at school and then had the parent press harassment charges and if the prosecuting attorney could ever get it together to show up then there might be some resolution. The case has had a monthly court date every month since last April or May (I've lost track) but between the city being slow getting evidence to Jim's side and then not showing up it has been dragging on (and on). So if you are the praying type please add us to your prayer list.

Susan- I think it is from coming off a really intense summer of business that I am really having trouble focusing and figuring out what I should be doing on a daily basis. I am alternating between feeling in an ok spot and feeling like I am behind. I take my comprehensive exams in October and am starting to think about dissertation stuff.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I am still pulling down wallpaper in the bathroom.
It has had to take a back seat to other things.

Since our bathroom has an outer room with a sink and closet, and then an inner room with sink, toilet, and tub I had planned to do the outer bathroom completely and then do the inner bathroom.

However, Andy jumped right in and started peeling wallpaper on the inner bathroom. So we are committed to doing that too.

I can't complain too much because the child is industrious. By himself he has peeled almost all of the paper underneath the window which is pretty significant.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Speech Therapy

Andy had his first day of speech therapy.
Because Jim is still looking for a job I was able to leave the other children at home and just take him (I got to work while I waited).
His therapist will be Megan.
I think they might have done a little bit of actual work, but the main thing they did today was get to know each other.

Despite the fact that when we went for the testing he was shy...Megan reported today that he was not shy at all.
She had a bunch of toys and games and apparently he immediately told her what he did like and what he was not going to play with out of the things that she had.
Andy reported to me that they played a game where you turn out the light, one person closes his or her eyes while the other person hides some toys. Then you use the flashlight to find the toys.

He also got a toy out of their prize cabinet. He has been generous about sharing his toy with Doug and Josie. This has also caused Doug to want to go to speech therapy.

From what some of the other mothers were saying I think they get to go to the prize cabinet once a week (therapy occurs twice a week). I am thinking that I will ask them not to give him any more toys. I personally believe it is ok to ask him to do a little work without the tactile reward. We'll see....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Incubation Period

I think Andy must have a few day (like maybe two) incubation period for ideas.
Tonight at dinner he popped out with "God can make something out of nothing but we need something to make something.
Ok, I thought....I don't know where that came from but yes that is true.

Then at bedtime he said something like:
"It was dark in our room, just like it was dark in the beginning before God made everything...."
Then the child proceeded to tell me the beginning part of creation.

It turns out that on Sunday he had heard it at children's church. It apparently just took a few days to sink in.

Big girl!

We went down to Nana and Pop's for the long weekend. One of the things we did while we were down there was to get Nana's old bed and dresser from when she was a girl.
Today we set it up in Josie's room. So now she has a full size bed and a new dresser. I am hoping two things:
  1. Taking out the changing table and the diaper organizer will help us (me and her) get motivated to push a little more on potty training. She can pee and when she is paying attention she even knows when she needs to go (I think) so I think she is ready.
  2. Having a little more room to roll around will help her sleep in her own bed instead of in mine.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Nature in Action

We were in the backyard and I happened to catch some motion out of the corner of my eye.
I looked over and there was a snake!
Jim said it was just a black racer snake, but we got to watch it get a lizard and proudly carry it off to eat it in peace.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lost in Translation

They have been studying apples in Andy's class. So today, out of the blue he told me that there were three kinds of apples: Red, Green, and Sparkly.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A side of cheese

If you would like a side of "super cheesy" for your afternoon get the Godzilla cartoon from the 1970s. Andy choose it from the library DVDs the last time we went. You get everything:
  • Cheap animation
  • Bell bottoms
  • World travel
  • The female scientist (with 70s hairdo) who specializes in anything resembling science
  • The black male side-kick
  • The manly bearded hero who controls Godzilla (He has a button to call Godzilla)
  • The little boy with the "baby" Godzilla named Godzookie
  • Godzookie for the comic relief
  • A different over-sized monster (an occasionally two) each episode
  • Improbable science
  • And a 30 story tall Lazar-eyed monster who comes anywhere at moments notice at the touch of a button

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I am sitting here listening to Josie "ladaladaladalada" to herself in her bed. She already had the:
  1. I forgot to say goodnight (Good night Andy & Doug)
  2. I need socks (lavender)
  3. I need water
  4. I have to tell you something (which turned out to be "We can take food to our car")