Tag Archives: teaching


9 Apr


There are a lot of things going really well for us right now (as well as continual drama), and I think it is important to remember the little happinesses that occur every day. So here’s some of the things that are really, really good around here:

N is learning at a rapid rate–every day is a new adventure with him! He’s learning new words and new things (like his alphabet) and he’s always curious!

I’m not teaching this quarter!!! And yet I’m being paid for it đŸ™‚ This is the great benefit of teaching a double load last quarter. My key task for the next 2 1/2 months is to collect data for my dissertation (an instructor focus group, student survey, student focus groups, follow-up individual interviews, and analyze the curricular materials and some essays from the course i’m studying). No biggie.

I really like my dissertation topic. It’s concrete yet connects to many of the important debates in my field right now. It’s easy to talk about and I think the things I’m studying and talking about are readily applicable to virtually all classrooms. This is a great thing for when I go on the job hunt (the “market”) this fall.

Can you believe it? I’m going on the market this fall?! I’ve had a lot of anxiety about it (Because of the lack of publications, lack of much on my resume for the past year or so while my personal life melted down) but after settling into a new pace (and getting some new things on my resume), I’m feeling excited about it. Which brings me to my next point…

In March I went to 2 conferences and it was a GREAT experience! The first I got a grant to attend, but didn’t have to present anything, so it was a stress-free way to learn about my field. It’s the main conference for what I do, so it was really wonderful to make connections across the field and prepare for next year when I really do need to be contributing. It was also fun to fly to Indianapolis and see a new city (not amazingly impressive, but what city is from the perspective of a conference hotel?).

One of the key things I learned is that I’m one of a few people who does what I do. In fact, one of the top research universities in the US was looking to hire someone just like me last year and couldn’t fill the spot (because they’re waiting for me, I’m sure). So now I have a target in mind and I’m already beginning to work on my job materials for this fall.

Sunshine and spring weather is here – we’ve had weather in the 60s and sunshine, which warms my soul. Today, N started “developmental preschool” which will include his speech therapy and also some special education which should help him get caught up on some of the skills where he’s a bit behind and work through some of the emotional stuff related to his dad. It was new to him so there were some rough moments with the new place and new expectations, but he had a blast playing in their indoor gym. He’s kind of a daredevil–when he first learned to go down the slide, he went head first. Well, today, he learned how to swing on a little trapeze and LOVED it!

We also went to the zoo today. I renewed my membership so we can go weekly while my schedule is open and flexible. I’ve quickly realized that its really difficult to entertain him all day for days on end. He’s SO energetic and he hasn’t even been napping well recently. We both do better if either a) he goes to preschool or b) we have a busy day of fun plans. So I really need to plan outings into our schedule. We need to enjoy this time because, fingers crossed, in just over a year I’ll have a full-time real job!

I’ve been cooking a lot again and I started running! I ran with N in the stroller on Sunday morning and it went ok – I can run 3-4 min straight before my heart rate goes up and I can’t exactly breathe. So I’d run, then walk, then run, then walk so that I can slowly build up my endurance. Although we walk a lot, it’s amazing the muscles you use if you run–my thighs were sore, my back was sore.. . . so hopefully this will help me burn more fat and tone my body more. It’s nice to build up my my physical strength. Tonight was a shorter run, but even short runs are important for building endurance đŸ™‚

So, many things to keep me busy and happy! After 6 months on our own, we are thriving đŸ™‚
And, now some pics from today:











4 Mar

I have a lot to celebrate this week – over the past week or so, I’ve gotten a lot of academic work done: I’ve finished my dissertation prospectus (research proposal), submitted proposal to a major theoretical conference in my field, completed an application for a TA-ship in a different–related–program for next year, and co-wrote a fellowship proposal with a faculty mentor.

Over the weekend, I got an email confirming that I have a spot teaching an annual month-long (very well paid) awesome course (that also happens to be the site of my dissertation research), and not only will I be teaching, I will be a lead instructor. Hooray! I’m finally being recognized for being capable and smart!

Today, I successfully “defended” my research proposal to my committee. It wasn’t so much a defense but a fun meeting with 4 of my favorite people/mentors talking about the academic work I will soon be undertaking. I’m left with new ideas to ponder (and the realization that now I have to actually DO the research. Ugh).

So I have a lot to celebrate! I’m on the brink of finally doing my dissertation research! I have a really exiting project that my mentors say is really offering something to the field! I’m getting my confidence back in my academic abilities and I’m really on a roll–connecting to a national conversation. And I love that my proposals are GOOD – not the half-assed crap I’ve put together in the past because I can’t get my act together (or I have life-drama intervening). It is so nice to be able to work and focus.


Despite the fact that I hit a major milestone today (over a year in the making!), I’m sad that I don’t really get to celebrate it. My family is happy for me, but they’re far away. N was so tired from a full day in preschool that he took a ‘nap’ at 6pm and hasn’t woken up. We went to the store, thinking I’d grab some treat or yummy food but nothing sounded good/was worth the money/calories. It was actually nice to acknowledge that I don’t need to celebrate with food, but it’s really sad to not be able to mark the occasion. Pop some bubbly, right? So that’s the slightly depressing take-away.

So, instead, I caught up on Ukraine drama, re-heated some yummy salmon & spaghetti squash, graded some papers, and soon I’ll curl up with my book on Stalin. But before I end the night wallowing in misery, some pictures of the fun we’ve been having over the past couple weeks:

IMG_9880 IMG_9891 IMG_9913 Valentine’s PartyIMG_9906 Cute kissing, umm, tropical animal. I forgot what it is, but it’s sure cute đŸ™‚IMG_9926 Teaching N the culinary delight of french fries in ice creamIMG_9963 IMG_9975 IMG_9992 IMG_0001 IMG_0011 IMG_0098

Peace and Quiet

31 Jan

Since December, life has been crazy. It’s been a combination of fun-crazy (Christmas in MT with the fam), busy-crazy (teaching 2 writing classes and doing dissertation stuff) and crazy-crazy (the ex.).

I don’t want to go into the play-by-play of it all, but I’m finally settling back into a calm, peaceful routine. I *think* I’ve worked everything out with the ex where he respects my space/boundaries while also being in N’s life. I have built enough structure into my classes so that when life gets a little crazy, I don’t look crazy and unorganized to my students (case in point – my fall teaching evals were some of my best yet and my life was falling apart). We’ve had a stomach bug roll through and a cold that is verging on bronchitis (for me), yet we’re still doing ok. Professionally, things are going really well. Really, really well. I feel like the end is in sight, even if it’s still a year and a half away, I can see how to reach graduation, job, etc. Boy, am I going to celebrate!

I also found out about legal services at my university where law students give legal advice for cheap, so I’m most likely going to go that route to actually get divorce filed. It’s hanging over this relationship where the ex still hangs on because nothing is official. . .yet I’m so done that I’ve actually been on a couple dates. Once it’s filed, I think he’ll finally ‘get’ it and I can truly start moving on.

I’ve been thinking a lot about moving on. It was fun to go on a couple dates (though both were duds). It was good to a) see that there are other fish in the sea b) see that I’m desirable and c) talk to other human beings, who aren’t toddlers or crazy. I also realized that I have a lot of stuff to work out before I go back out to date for real. The amount I talked about the ex was atrocious, so I need to learn to talk about myself and relationships without talking about him. I wear my heart far too much on my sleeve and I think I need to figure out boundaries. . . that is, I open up too much and then I’m a total bitch when I shut down. I need to learn how to equalize my openness and my emotions so that it’s not one or the other. Luckily, it’s pretty much pointless to date over the next year since I need to work overtime to finish my PhD, find an amazing job, and get the hell outta here and build a new, amazing life wherever it is that i’ll be working (Academia is so weird that way…). Once I know what that life will look like, I can think about finding someone else to share it with.

For now, more than anything, I am so thankful for peace and quiet. N thrives in routine and kind love. My academic work comes from calm thought. The ex and I are toxic together and it has been a really difficult process for him and me to get him out (both in September and more recently, after he returned back and figuring out where boundaries needed to be set). So for now, I am savoring the calm and hoping that this balance keeps.

December Update

21 Dec

IMG_8757On the drive

December has been a busy month so I’ve hardly had time to update. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from making N’s annual photo album, it is essential to keep this updated. So here’s a quick update before I blog some N & holiday updates.

The beginning of the month, I flew back home without my snuggle-bug. I ended up staying one week without him, wrapping up teaching, turning in my human subjects review board application for my dissertation research. It was lonely without him, but nice to get things done.

Also that week, the soon-to-be ex hubs flew back to the US. I have made it my mission to be neutral about the whole thing. He has citizenship and as long as he doesn’t bother me, he has every right to be here. He mad a friend online (a photographer we know from weddings) and she and her husband are letting him stay with them while he gets onto his feet. They picked him up at the airport and that evening, the 4 of us met for sushi. It was weird–he was trying to be super friendly (hugging me, cracking inside jokes, etc) but the husband pulled him aside later and told him to chill. I guess these friends have had their own problems so they are sympathetic to our situation. A couple days later, I told the photographer friend (the wife) about why we’re divorcing and she totally understood. It sounds like her mission is to try and help hubs out and allow our little family to make memories that are positive.

Since then, we have been texting and talking a bit as we finish wedding edits so I can leave the business while still making our clients happy. If he gets pissy, I dis-connect, and he IS making an effort to apologize when he is a jerk. I have made it clear to him (and anyone in the world who cares) that even if he is a perfect angel, the divorce is still happening. This past year has forced me to re-examine all that I want in a relationship, companionship, and in a future for myself and my son and he cannot provide that. It is scary to go out into the dating world again, but I will find someone who will truly be my partner–or I’ll be stronger on my own.

I drove back to my parents’ house on the 10th/11th. It took 2 days because of the weather. Since then, I’ve been grading, editing, wrapping presents, and hanging out. It is nice to have many people to watch and play with N. He is loved!

Of course, being home isn’t all roses and sunshine. I feel guilty when I don’t do enough–when I’m on my own, I do everything and when I’m here I do nothing (and my mom does it all). I’m trying to strike a balance and attempt to clean up after myself, cook dinner for the family, still go on little adventures with N, and generally help out where I can. I also don’t want to disrupt my mom’s way of doing things. and I can always do better.

My uncle also had a re-occurrence of brain cancer. Six years ago, they found a large brain tumor. It was the most aggressive kind and his was stage 4. They operated, did radiation and chemotherapy and he radically changed his diet. He went into remission, but maybe a year ago something showed up on scans. They did a cyberknife procedure to cut it out. Later scans still showed something and so they biopsied it and the cancer is definitely back. He’s had some mini-strokes ( I think — or seizures. I’m not sure). Earlier this week he had a new operation and he’s getting out of the hospital today. He’ll get chemotherapy this time (no radiation due to scar tissue) and he needs physical therapy to work out the problems from the mini-strokes. It’s scary – and strange for him to be going through this. My family’s not that close, but he’s definitely the closest relative. He’s a great guy and I am scared for his family. But all information and emotions are filtered through my dad (his brother) and I have never built an adult relationship with him or his family. There’s a distance with my cousins (his sons). . .even though one cousin has a son N’s age, there still just isn’t anything to talk about. So this is something that occupies my mind but I’m not sure what to think about it.

I’m very much looking forward to Christmas. My baby bro will be in town and we have our set Christmas Even and Christmas day traditions. I’m excited to give some good gifts this year and to have some quality time with my family (secure in the knowledge that there’s not going to be any drama or drunken craziness going on). A boring, traditional holiday is just my kind of holiday.

My bro will be staying for at least a few days after Christmas, so we’ll be able to get out and have some fun. I really want to go snowshoeing and maybe hiking (depending on how much snow we have!) and just enjoy my hometown the best I can.

I’m not chomping at the bit to see my old high school friends. After going to college and everyone going their separate ways, it’s hard to re-connect. I think there was a lot of silly judgement that occurred relating to everyone’s choices in our 20s and I’m just not dying to defend myself, talk about divorce, or small talk with people who don’t get my life. So far, I’ve run into 1 whole person around town.

So that’s the update. I’m going to try and post fun pics and N updates soon. I have some good ones đŸ™‚

Fuck it all…

18 Nov

Alternately titled, “When life gives you lemons …”IMG_8549kind of how I feel sometimes.

After writing my previous complaining post, N woke up from his nap and immediately found his shoes and wanted to go on an adventure. I showed him that it was dark and rainy outside, but he was undeterred. Since I had a check to deposit, I figured we may as well go over to the nearby outdoor fancy mall where N could play at the nice, covered, heated play area and I could grade papers while he played. We could swing by a credit union ATM and deposit the check, too. Since it’s so close (two blocks) I dressed him warmly, loaded him up in the stroller, and headed out.

We easily crossed the first street and the whole area was well-lit. I kept a brisk pace as I chatted with N talking about the cars. We were almost there. . .when a huge SUV hit a giant puddle and sprayed us with a giant splash of water! Poor N was so surprised and offended! I’m sure the spray of cold water completely shocked him. He was happily chatting and snacking on bread, holding his water and stuffed baby fox. Once sprayed down, he howled at the offense and chucked his soggy bread onto the sidewalk. I was PISSED but poor N was so much more offended that I had to calm him down. There was no point to continuing on our way with both of us soaked, so I turned the stroller around and headed home, all while trying to reassure the poor boy.

We got home, i stripped him down and put him into a warm bath. Trying to think of how to make him happy, I started to grab random kitchen things. He really likes pretend play these days, so he ended up with a big mixing bowl, a ladle, a bowl, and a spoon. While he played with the ladle and bowl, I pretended to eat soup out of the bowl with the little spoon. I tried to talk as much as I could, comparing the ‘big spoon’ and ‘little spoon’ and talking about the yummy soup. Then, we found his plastic turtle bath toy and added it to the soup and I had turtle soup. Yummy! N laughed so hard! We probably spent 30+ min playing in that bath.IMG_8556mmmm! turtle soup!!

Sometimes, really shitty things force you to be creative. I’m glad we had a fun evening playing together!

An ode to Apple

10 Oct

Since only, like, 2 people read this blog, I’m definitely not rolling in paid endorsements  In fact, all the words and opinions on this blog are all my own, and said company has no idea I’m even talking about them!

IMG_0009My totally old-school iPhone4

I’ve always been comfortable with technology and grew up in a home of PCs. Sure, I used the old apples in elementary school, but even as a photographer/videographer I never bought into the Apple hype. I have owned an ipad, I now have an iphone, and we’ve owned a MacBook Pro since 2010, but it was never my primary computer.

I LIKE PCs – I like that they are cheaper, that they are upgradable, and I’ve gotten used to Windows and all the quirks and commands that go with it. We’ve always had Dell computers and I like that you can build your own on the website to your perfect price/specs. But my last Dell laptop had major problems and my brother had gotten one in the same month and had similar major problems. I also tried a HP and was less than satisfied. Our video business does own 3 PC desktop towers and I do really love them. Solid, upgradable, and affordable (while still being powerful).

But after my recent experiences with the Apple Store, I have to say I LOVE APPLE! First was my iphone, which after over a year of use (thus past warranty) my “home” button would stick and turn on voice control, randomly call people, and generally not work. So I stopped by the Apple store and they said it’s a common problem from water damage. Alarm bells go off! Water damage is always a user-error and gets businesses off the hook. . . .so I was shocked when they just gave me a new (refurbished) phone the same day. That very phone is still working beautifully 2 years later.

Most recently, I took over usage of the MacBook Pro. After my Dell died last year, I had been using our 17″ HP laptop but it got beat up and was really heavy to bring to class for teaching. But that Mac had 2 issues: a funky trackpad and when I started to hook it up to the projector in class the screen would turn off. The computer is 3 years old, but the projector/video card problem was a known issue so I crossed my fingers and went in to the Apple store. And they took it, sent it off for a new logic board, and returned it to me 3 days later as good as new FOR FREE. Crazypants!

After this repair the funky trackpad got worse so I took it in again a couple days ago. They ran a diagnostic and couldn’t see any major problems but the liquid sensors had been tripped (danger! danger!). I was thinking they wouldn’t do anything. . .but they took it and replaced the trackpad by that very evening. . . FOR FREE AGAIN!

I have NEVER received this kind of no questions asked quality service (except for the Costco returns counter. That’s a fave!). After these repeated, easy, experiences. I can say that Apple is worth the higher prices. For great service, cute style and solid machines I’m definitely not going to play games anymore. My next computer will definitely be a Mac. . and I can’t wait to get my hands on a new iPad mini for N–Christmas, maybe?

Picking up the Pieces

2 Oct

The past couple weeks have seen a 180 in the way I live – with hubs gone, I’ve set my mind to picking up the pieces from a broken marriage.

First bits were basic needs – get housing, get childcare. I’ve figured out a morning drop-in preschool for N and he’s now registered for the full month of October. I got an offer on student family housing at my university, so i’ll be moving in there in a few weeks. It’s a 2-bedroom, decent sized, right next to campus and we will get an ‘in’ with the childcare there so we can phase N into full-time childcare.

Second was finding money and I’ve managed to get not only my usual TA-ship but a 2nd teaching job at my university as well. Best part is, that position is hourly and just got a raise to $70/classroom hour. So that’s a great help as I try and pull my finances together and figure out where I’m at, provide for my son, and figure out how to get divorced. I also applied for another great job (can I say ‘dream job’ once again – i’m so fortunate that there are so many wonderful jobs out there I can see myself in – now if one will just see me as their ideal candidate!), so the career may be looking more solid in just a few months.

I’m now in group therapy at a local women’s organization and that’s helping me deal with the emotional fallout of being in an abusive relationship. I’ve been in deep denial for years and I’m slowly getting mad. Right now, in fact, as I type this I’m getting abusive texts from across the world because I’m trying to let him know that he won’t have a place to live if he takes that return flight back in December. This past weekend he disappeared–I heard from him Friday online, but then he was gone. I finally called Sunday night and his mom said he was out of town !?! I later find out he went to Russia with his dad and nephew to visit his aunt. He had so much anxiety about entering Ukraine on his American passport, and now all of a sudden he’s hopping over to Russia (on the Ukrainian one, I’m assuming since he has no Russian visa) like it’s no big deal. 18 hr drive and he didn’t think to tell us – not to mention that he had planned to skype with N Sunday morning.

I can already picture just how involved he’ll be in N’s life.

So now I’m just figuring out how to do it – how I can file for divorce cheaply (as in, by myself) but still get him served internationally. How to protect myself and my son if he does return to the US. To not drag this thing out for years and years…

But with the peace and quiet that come from having him out of my life, I’m doing quite well and getting so many things done. Lesson planning, healthy cooking, plenty of sleep, logistical tasks taken care of… Now I just have to get the legal stuff in order, our business disposed of and back-edits finished and to clients. . and I will be free!

Just one last thing, though, about how carefully i have to juggle now. Today N has come down with his first cold đŸ˜¦ and since I have nobody here, I’m home for the day. Class cancelled. Home. I hope we can manage to keep the multiple colds, flus, sicknesses at bay, or we’re in for a long year.