Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pushing through the Wall

Last year I had the opportunity to teach with a colleague who is a runner. She is one of those people who loves the physical exertion of running, and she methodically trains with a keen understanding of her body and the art of exercise. I know this about her because she often used running metaphors to relate educational concepts to our students. Her penchant to turn to running in her explanations became an inside joke in our community ---especially because most of us, myself included, were not runners.

Recently, I reviewed a manuscript for a few colleagues who love baseball. I know that they love baseball because their text was filled with examples of baseball, arguments about baseball, and laments about their favorite teams. Personally, I related. After all, as a Mets fan I'm in constant defense of my team and in perpetual lament of their standing. I questioned the authors, however, because I wasn't sure that all members of their audience would enjoy the baseball chatter.

I am, somewhere inside of me, an athlete. I am a sports fan. But I am both of these things in my second soul, and perhaps that's why I've questioned my colleagues' use of sports analogies and metaphors. However, as I struggle to hit my stride this semester, I think back to my dad's encouragement as I trained for soccer season in high school, hating every step of the distance runs down our country road. "Push through the wall," he used to say. "Find your stride."

This semester I'm having trouble finding that stride, and a sports analogy is the only way I can describe my struggle. I've been working longer hours than normal, including two 12-16 hour days in the city. I've been getting up before the kids to work on the days I work from home, and I spend good chunks of time on the weekends at my computer. Still I'm just keeping up, sucking wind every day - and hoping this will be the week I hit my stride.

-----Sent from my mobile-----

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Summer Highlight - A Princess and A Race Car

At our faculty's opening of school meeting, my chairperson asked us to share a professional high and a personal high from the summer months.  Though I couched it as a personal high, A Princess and a Race Car was both professional and personal.  My time in the preschool served me well.  I successfully planned and managed (with a lot of assistance) a dozen four-year-olds for 2 hours. 

Ironically, shortly into the party, I realized that I had organized my support team so well that I had nothing to do! I stood in the middle of my patio, spinning from the princesses, who were eagerly creating necklaces with our babysitter, to the racers, who were engaged with my hubby and pop as they built their race cars.  My mom was in my office, printing the pictures she had taken of each child for their party favors.  Everyone seemed happy.  I felt useless.

They did need me, of course, and that 5 minute period proved to be my last respite as we read the story, ran the race, held the dance party, and served lunch.  It was glorious chaos. 

I received an email that night from one of the moms, who said that her son had not stopped racing his car around the house and that they had read the story to both of their children multiple times at dinner.  This feedback made me smile, but when my daughter asked for A Princess and a Race Car to be her bedtime book for several days following the party, my heart soared.  It's still a favorite in our house.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Digital Twin Mom When Power Goes Out

I am typing this entry on my phone, trying to comprehend how teens today compose essays on their mobile devices. We are well into our fifth day without power, and twin life without electricity has drained my energy. Fortunately, we have amazing neighbors with generators and a community pool with showers - so none of us smell too bad. However, I've come to realize those things I take for granted, ways of life that are completely inconvenient (and therefore exhausting) when the lights go out for an extended period.

Top Five Things I Miss This Week

1. Computer and Internet: I have been able to stay in touch with friends via mobile phone but my work has suffered. The local library has been so packed with community members that the wireless kicks me off, and the folding tables they have set up for workstations in a meeting room are not conducive to quality writing. I also cannot talk on the phone and be looking at shared docs on the Internet at the same time. I've realized that this practice has become habitual in my work life.

2. An outlet to charge my phone - it's my window to the world, and even though the system has been slow, overwhelmed with others whose window out is also a cell, my cell has been my sanity savior. Unfortunately, those Facebook posts and texts eat up battery, so I've needed to consider carefully when and where I can recharge. My friend brought me a battery charger with a DC adapter yesterday, and it has made all the difference.

3. Electric garage doors - opening and closing the doors manually was such a pain that I got in the habit of just leaving then open for the day. Then we found out that thieves were preying on our area. Though I have no jewelry to be stolen, we do love our cars!

4. Refrigerator - I only find this item a major inconvenience because I'm trying to feed my kids healthy food. It has been impossible these last few days to stick to our meal plans. I miss the fridge most, and the microwave second.

5. Shower - I'm fine using a bottle to brush my teeth, and the 5 gallon jug us just fine for drinking. But having to pack a bag every day to go shower adds to the exhaustion. I also really need to shave my legs...

On the plus side, we haven't missed the TV, and we haven't even opened the portable DVD players that we charged fully in preparation for the storm. Not once have my kids asked to watch TV or play on the computer. They have been super kids, and I'm just trying to be a good mom and keep my patience with them, which is the hardest thing for me to do during this adventure. But I am finding a light in the fact that this digital mom has been doing okay so far at keeping her preschoolers from being hooked on the screen.