I’ll be back! (in August)

I have things to say, but I’m conferencing, vacationing, catching up on what I missed while away.  So I’m going to come back to this space with a vengeance  on August first.  I hope you are all having a lovely summer!

Summer, maybe

School ended almost 2 weeks ago and I’m still wrapping things up.  Because of my new administrative duties, there’s a lot of things to do.  I leave on Friday for an actual vacation.  I’m going to do my best to disconnect and not think about work.  When I return, I face a whirlwind of conferences, most of which I’m looking forward to, but it’s work still.  I’m not doing this to myself next year.

I am still teaching of course and I have a new course on the books that I have to develop.  I’m going back to where I started and teaching a web design course.  I have to relearn some things and learn some new things, but I have a good sense of the structure of the course. So I’ll be working on that this summer.

I’m giving a very big TED-like talk in October, and I need to prepare that.  I’m looking forward to it because it’s a topic I’m passionate about: women in CS.

I have some administrative things to tackle over the summer as well, but they’re not huge.  Most of what needed to get done got done this last few weeks.

Finally, I have some household things I want to address.  There’s a room we’re using for storage that has gotten out of hand.  We need to have a garage sale and do some major purging and reorganization.

I’m planning to alternate days in terms of work.  I find it easier usually to focus on one thing at a time, so one day will be class work, one day house stuff, one day administrative stuff and just keep rotating.  I’m hopeful that will work and that I’ll have some time for relaxing in there as well.  Seems like this happens every summer, but I don’t mind.  I’m working at my own pace, and I know from past experience that everything will get done.

Mother’s Day with a twist

At this moment,  I’m sitting around with Geeky Girl and Mr. Geeky, chatting over Krispy Kreme doughnuts, which is exactly what I asked for.  GG questioned the fact that the special Mother’s Day doughnuts were pink and then we started talking about how hard it must be for those with two mothers.  And then, of course, we said the same was true for those with two fathers.  And we decided that instead of having separate days for mothers and fathers, we should combine them into one parents’/guardians’ day.  I’m sure there are reasons why this wouldn’t work, but it seems like a good idea.  And it allows us to include a variety of family structures rather than celebrate just traditional ones.  Hallmark would lobby against this, I’m sure, but being beholden to a greeting card company to tell us what to celebrate and how seems a little crazy, yes?

So this Mother’s Day, I’m thinking about not just mothers in the traditional sense, but those who act as parental support for anyone, whether legally or just emotionally, whether male or female or other.  Taking care of children and being their emotional support is challenging work, however you come to it.

Looking Ahead

At some point on most Sundays, I start thinking about the week ahead.  I might answer some email, check my calendar, do some grading, etc.  This Sunday, I’m coming off a week of spring break.  I’ve largely forgotten the 18 tasks my to-do list says are due or overdue (usually I have them in my head).  I haven’t looked at my work email, and I haven’t looked at our course management system.  I don’t even know what classes I have tomorrow.  That’s what I always hope for on a break.

But I want the week to start off relatively smoothly and not feel like I crash landed into the middle of chaos.  So, yesterday, thanks to UFYH’s weekend challenge, I did some spring cleaning. I will tackle day 2 today.  I love the structure of this, and the irreverence of the tone.  There’s no holier-than-thou tone that some cleaning/uncluttering sites have.  It’s basically, “Yes, everyone throws all their clothes on the nearest surface (sometimes the floor).  Let’s just take care of that right now.”  I will also probably tackle the 18 things on my to-do list, or at least schedule them.   I can feel the downward slope to the end of the year.   I’ve had a taste of freedom, and now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, otherwise known as summer.

Some other things I’ve been thinking about: reading and weight loss. I have a virtual pile of books, both kindle and audio, that I haven’t made the time to read/listen to.  I’ve gorged myself on tv instead, good tv mind you, but I feel like I could spend some more time with long-form text.  As I look ahead to the week, I’m going to see where I can squeeze in more reading.  It should actually be relatively easy.

And then there’s weight loss.  I’ve let my established eating and walking habits die, and I’m feeling the need to re-establish them.  But they need to fit with my life, which is part of why they died.  Since I’ve done most of my walking outside, and the weather has been bitterly cold this year, I’ve basically stopped walking.  I take the dogs out, but not for long.  Unfortunately, it’s *still* cold, but I’m going to try.  Also, I’m going back to no sugar (with some indulgences here and there for special occasions).  It’s not much I want to lose, but if I can, it would be nice.  And, in all honesty, it’s not the biggest priority in my life.  But it’s one I have control over.

I have other things I’d like to do: meditate, maybe.  Some programming, but I know how busy my life is, so I’ll just see what happens.  Planning is good, but things don’t always go as planned, so I just plan for that.

City or country?

English: Country road feel to main city road S...
English: Country road feel to main city road Spiersbridge Road in Glasgow. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I live in the suburbs, always have.  Only once, for a brief 2-year stint, can I say I lived in the country, and it wasn’t middle of nowhere country, but we couldn’t see our neighbors’ houses so I count it.  I dream of moving somewhere when I become a certain age.  It might be retirement or before, but when I dream of moving, I can’t decide: city or country.

Geeky Girl and I are in a city right now, and as we were walking around downtown, I said, “I do really like cities.” And she said,”I do too.”  And then I said, but sometimes I also think I’d like to be in the country.  She gave me a look, “You know how I feel about nature.”  Yes, I do.  She did not like our camping adventure.

Because I have always lived in the suburbs, I honestly don’t know if I would really like the other ends of the spectrum.  There are pros and cons to both.  On the pro side for the country: dogs would love it; it would be quiet; I could grow vegetables; and the scenery would be beautiful.  On the con side: commute might suck (for work or groceries); nightlife might be non-existent; far from friends; and bugs.  The city, too, has pros and cons.  On the pro side: walking distance to culture and food; no yard work; public transportation; and activities galore.  On the con side: higher crime; dog care more challenging; commute might suck; and might be expensive.

Honestly, the older I get, the more I lean toward the country. I envision sitting on a front porch in a rocker, watching the creek flow.  And for now, all of it is just a dream anyway.  Moving is not anywhere in the cards.  For now, I will visit these extremes, and maybe one or the other option will start to solidify for me.

Y’all still here?

I find it supremely ironic that my last post was about bloggers quitting, and then I disappeared.  Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere!  I think I’m officially overcommitted at the moment. Somehow, I’m keeping it together, but just barely.  We’ve had snow and cold and I got a round of the flu.  I haven’t been sick in years and I was completely knocked flat.  I literally slept for 3 days.  It was awful.  I’m just now starting to catch up, but then I’m off to a conference next week, so I will inevitably fall a bit behind again.  My colleagues and I are still working on our presentation.  Oh, and there’s teaching still! I started a new class second semester.  Thanks to the snow day earlier this week, I’m now significantly ahead of my students.  They will start projects in a couple of weeks, and I plan to work alongside them.

In CS I, I’m trying to cut the apron strings a bit and get the students to do a little troubleshooting on their own.  I’m now requiring them to write their questions on the board, so a list of questions piles up.  Sometimes they figure out the solutions just through the process of phrasing the question.  And often, similar questions will come up, and we’ll pause and I’ll explain something to the whole class.  It’s getting there, but there’s still a little too much reliance on answers from me.  Maybe by the final project!

In addition to teaching, I’m leading a committee through a redesign of the school website.  This has been a huge undertaking, and its nearing its conclusion.  When it’s done, I’ll let you all know.

Let me just say that spring break, and then summer, are going to be a huge relief!

On the eve of break’s end

Yesterday was productive.  I did a lot of cleaning and reorganizing, with more planned for today.  I still have work, work to do, and there’s a trip to the grocery store in my future (unless I talk Mr. Geeky into it, which I might).  I don’t think I will finish all my grading, which is okay, I think.  I’ll get through most of it.  I have to keep telling myself that I deserve a break as much as the kids do.

Tomorrow is going to be rough.  I can feel it.  I got up at 8 today.  Tomorrow I have to get up at 6.  And I’ve been going to be at midnight.  I’m going to have to try to get to sleep by 10 to make that early rising time manageable.  And then there’s just dealing with work tomorrow.

One of the things I’m going to do today is take down the Christmas tree and put away the decorations.  That’s going to be tough.  It’s such a signal that break is over.  A friend on Facebook was struggling to do this herself, and was encouraged to leave everything up a little longer.  I got my decorations up late this year, so I sympathize with her.  I just want to spend a little more time with the shiny lights.  But if I don’t do it today, it won’t get done, so I’m setting aside some time, and it will get done.

I’m looking forward to getting back to school, but it will be a challenge to get back into the swing of things.  I’ll squeeze in some more fun time today in between getting things ready.

Last weekend of break

This was a good, relaxing break.  I think two weeks is the right amount of time for a vacation.  It takes me about 4 or 5 days to settle down and to stop getting up at 6.  With just a week, you end up with just a day or two to really relax.  With two weeks, you’ve got a whole week to sit back and enjoy time with family and friends.

I have checked in on work email a couple of times, but luckily, there’s been nothing I’ve needed to deal with.  I did put off the grading I wanted to do, and now my plan is to get through it this weekend.  Honestly, it’s a good way to ramp up to the work week.  In a semi-leisurely way, I’ll do some grading and planning, with plenty of break time built in.  I’m toying with the idea of taking a no-screen day today or tomorrow to motivate myself to do some reading.  We’ll see.

My goals are going well so far, though next week will be the real test.  I’ve walked every day, and I’ve aimed for 5,000 steps a day (half of what I will start aiming for next week).  Since I’ve been starting my day fairly late, and haven’t had much to do, I decided not to push the 10,000 steps for now.  I will get there.

The cleaning using UfYH app has gone quite well.  But I’m realizing it’s going to take a long time to get where I want to be.  I’ll be surprised if I make it by summer, and it will likely take until this time next year.  What I’ve been doing is a random 5 minute and 10 minute challenge, followed by 20 minute sessions on the room I started my main cleaning work in.  Yesterday, I did three sessions just to get through one small area. I think I won’t finish the room until the end of the week.

It’s amazing how much stuff one accumulates over a lifetime.  We’ve been in this house for 10 years and we’ve been together for over 20.   We used to be better about purging stuff.  Mr. Geeky is sentimental for all kinds of things, which makes it hard to get rid of stuff.  But it makes me sad when I see some of the stuff he cares about not get treated well because it’s in a pile somewhere.  I’m going to try to fix that somehow.

The kids are off on their own adventures this weekend.  Geeky Girl is hanging with friends, and Geeky Boy went off to New York.  I had thought I might get to spend some time with them before break ended, but it looks like that’s not going to happen.  Ah, living with teenagers.

So I’m looking forward to a final 48 hours without major responsibilities.  I hope that gets me off to a productive start on Monday.

Routines and Habits

It’s Monday, which would normally mean getting back to the weekday routine.  But, of course, it’s vacation, so the routine is slightly different.  I admire people who can stick to a routine while on vacation.  I’ve never been able to do that.  Exercise, diet, etc. all seem to go out the window while on vacation.  At least for me, that’s a good thing.  It is good to let certain things go.  I try to establish some kind of routine, so I don’t become totally soft over breaks.

This break, for instance, I’ve tried to walk at same time I would normally during the day.  And I’ve tried to keep up with the cleaning, thanks to my new app.  But otherwise, I’ve let myself sleep in, indulge in some video games and binge watching tv (Alpha House, ftw).

Today, I have to tackle some actual work.  I’m going to check in with my work email, and I have to make a dent in some grading.  So, some routine has to sneak in.  I’m also thinking about routines and habits more generally, and about tweaking my existing ones as part of my New Year’s resolutions.  You’ll hear more about that later.  For now, I’m going to enjoy another week away from routine (mostly).

Don’t Panic

I probably have at least one other post with this title because I know in the past, I’ve often gone into panic mode when things get busy.  For some reason this year, I started out that way, but now I’m all zen about it.  I think I’m busier than I’ve ever been.  There’s no way to get everything I need, much less want, to get done in a day that I just do what I can and leave it at that.  I don’t work late into the night, though I do usually do a couple of work-related things at some point between when I get home and when I go to bed.  And for a deadline, like grades, I work until I’m done, which does sometimes mean a late night or two.

And while I wish I were plowing through my to-do list sometimes, I also don’t feel ridiculously behind, and I don’t feel that stressed.  I’m starting to really feel what I’ve understood intellectually for years, that stressing over how much work you have is counterproductive.  Go figure.  I will say that it’s kind of a weird feeling.  I’m not sure how to explain it really, except to say that I feel like I’m taking it one day at a time.