Savoring the last few days

This weekend is really the last weekend of summer for me.  Tuesday, the meetings begin, and the following Tuesday, the students show up.  I’m already really working, having taught the new MS students how to log into their various accounts.  But I’m trying to hold onto some free time.  So, yesterday after lunch, I didn’t do any school work.  And today I’m here to do some work and teach new US students, but I’m trying to be low key about it.  I’m trying to remember the lessons from Distraction Addiction and my own desire to not get overly stressed about stuff.   I could easily spin my wheels about prepping for class, about getting things done for faculty.  But I’m not.  I’m going to calmly work through my to-do list.  And when I’ve had enough, I’ve had enough.

We shipped Geeky Boy back off to school last night, this time setting him up in his own apartment.  It’s nice having him so close.  As he left, I promised a trip downtown to take him out to dinner in a few weeks.  If he were further away, that wouldn’t work.

Geeky Girl is in sports already, practicing every morning.  Next week, practice will continue, but in the afternoon.  She, too, is trying to capture the last few days by relaxing during her off time.

Life is starting to feel a bit hectic already, but we’re trying to keep the hecticness at bay as long as possible.  It’s a challenge, but we’re working on it.

Back on the grid

Starting the fireA week of camping does a soul good. It was good to be (mostly) away from the Internet and the hustle and bustle of email and blogs, etc. We weren’t totally away from our devices.  Cell access was available though weak, but we tended to use that access differently.  We checked the weather, got directions, and pulled up This American Life to listen to in the car.  All very practical.

We chose to camp both because we wanted to, and because we wanted to save some money while visiting family.  For a total of about $120, we spent 7 nights in 4 different campgrounds.  Hotels for all those nights would have run us 10 times that much, making the visit all but impossible.  I also liked having other stuff to do.  We weren’t stuck in a tiny hotel room with ESPN.  We could go on a hike, start a fire and make breakfast, or sit quietly with the birdsong and read.  So, while we were waiting to see family (usually for dinner on a couple of nights), we weren’t bored.  And family came to us.  We were about an hour away in both of our campsites and my father-in-law came to see us on all the days we didn’t go to see him.  He loves to hike and was very familiar with one of the sites we stayed at.  The whole family came down one day: brother-in-law, his wife, 4 nephews and my father-in-law.  We did a short hike with the kids that involved a waterfall and a creek and we had s’mores after.  That’s the one day I didn’t get pictures!

Back on the trailGeeky Boy and Geeky Girl were not so taken with camping, but I’m glad they were there.  There are few family trips in our future as the kids become young adults and have their own plans and sooner than you’d think, perhaps, own families to travel with.  Despite their sometimes complaints about bugs and hard ground, I think they will remember the trip fondly in years to come.

I’m personally ready to go again and hope that at least Mr. Geeky and I can head someplace nearby before it gets too cold.

Thad emerges from Wolf CaveI wish I could hold onto the calm activity of the trip, and I’m going to try.  I starting reading The Distraction Addiction while on my trip and find it resonates with much of my current attitudes about technology.  One of the gists of the book so far is that technology itself is not bad, but mindless use of it is.  If you check email or Facebook obsessively, you’re not being mindful about your use of technology.  You’re not using it to accomplish a task, to extend your brain, so to speak.  You’re killing time.  I have a few more chapters to go, but so far, I’m liking its message.  It fit right in with my taking some time away from social media and other connected, technology-driven activities.  I’m looking forward to sharing some of its insights with my colleagues.

This week is the week before school activities get started.  I have a couple of obligations next week.  But this week, I’m going to try to focus on getting my house in order a little more, to create a calming place to come home to when the chaos of back to school hits–as it inevitably will.

Unplugging

Day 37: Plug it in
Day 37: Plug it in (Photo credit: lorda)

Tomorrow I leave for a camping trip where the family and I will be mostly disconnected from the Internet, definitely disconnected from tv.  We will have our phones with us and we’re not going to be far from civilization as we plan to visit Mr. Geeky’s family while we’re traveling.  We need it.  All of us, myself included, have spent far too much time this summer in separate spaces with our heads in a screen.  For me and Mr. Geeky, this has mostly (though not entirely) been for work, but for Geeky Girl and Boy, they’ve got their own forms of entertainment online.  Gaming mostly for Geeky Boy and social media for Geeky Girl.  We all need to have some significant experience with life beyond the screen.

I really, really like being outside, and in fact, do some of my work out on my deck when the weather is nice.  I’m looking forward to being only outside, to being able to see stars, to see some cool birds, and to walk through the woods.

Mr. Geeky and I often debate where we want to retire to.  We could move downtown, be in a walkable city where there are shops, bars, and coffee shops.  Or we could live in the country somewhere where you can’t see your nearest neighbor.  We could go either way.  I do enjoy cities, but those are easy enough to visit.  I have this sense that the countryside is disappearing and that it might be nice to soak it in for a while.  I’ll get a taste of that for a week at least.

There will be–connections willing–photo posts from the road, but otherwise, it will be a bit quiet around here.

Jump start

I kind of took yesterday off.  I had to go into school to take care of some things, and I had intended to do some work when I got home, but instead I sat on the couch and did nothing.  I had lunch, puttered around, went for a walk, and then Geeky Girl and I went to the pool.  I’ve worked almost every weekday this summer.  I felt I needed the day off.  My family has traveled a lot separately, so we haven’t really seen each other that much.  We had the week at the beach, but then after that, Geeky Girl was off visiting my dad; Mr. Geeky went to DC; I left for NH, then Chicago, and Geeky Boy went to Seattle.  We saw each other for a day, maybe in between all that.  We are trying to plan a family trip sometime before Geeky Boy heads back to school (he starts earlier than the rest of us).  So I’m kind of in a limbo mode of being sort of on vacation and sort of needing to do some work.

I’m going to try to jump start my work mode today by doing some fun things.  I have an origami garden thing I started with my students at the end of the school year that I’d really like to finish.  I think I’m going to use the Hummingbird Robotics Kit I have to finish it out.  We’ll see how it goes.  I also want to build a motion detector for our cat/dog door and see if I can calculate how many times the animals come in and out–just for fun. 🙂  Most of the work I’ve done so far this summer has been plotting out curriculum and lesson plans.  I enjoy doing that, but I need to play a bit before I dive into more of that.  In fact, what I really need to work on is my 8th grade elective, which I haven’t taught before.  I have a general plan, but need to see what will work.  I especially need to think through the plans for the physical aspects of the course.  The first 6-8 weeks, I think will focus on coding and digital skills.

The other thing I want to dive into is figuring out a badging system.  I want to use Mozilla‘s open badge system somehow in all my classes, and especially in the 8th grade class where, yes, I will have to grade some things, but want to use the badges as additional feedback and incentive.  Sounds like a much more fun plan than just writing lesson plans and maybe it will lead to writing those plans.  Here’s to getting a jump start!

An era has passed

We’ve been coming to the beach since before we were married or had kids. Generally 4 couples and eventually their kids became the regulars.  We tend to stay up very late until maybe 2 or 3 and sleep in of course.

When the kids came along we had to adjust a bit. Usually one parent in each couple would be in charge of getting the kids to bed. When the kids would wake up, a parent would go get them back to sleep. Sometimes the parent wouldn’t make it back. Then we’d say that the kid won.

As the kids got older, bedtime became much easier. At first we would tell them to go to bed but eventually they’d just go when they felt like it. The adults always were up later. Until a couple of nights ago. All of the adults were asleep before midnight and the kids stayed up for another hour or two. The tide has turned. An era has ended.

Mornings

Mornings are quiet. The ocean as been ridiculously calm. The most activity we see is when the umbrellas go up.

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And sometimes people wander by. Until 9 or 10, most people are moving slowly. Even kids aren’t awake yet.

We have coffee and fruit and cereal and then we move just enough to go sit under an umbrella. And then we don’t move again.

This is vacation

In case you’re wondering what happens on vacation. There are beautiful skies.

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And we play music. Here are Gary and Alan.

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We also have watched the world cup with other soccer enthusiasts at a local bar.  Relaxing followed by more relaxing.  Or

while True:
     relax()

On the road

So I’m headed on vacation. Posts may be picture oriented rather than text based. I am a terrible phone typist. I have a computer but no internet. It’s good to escape it all.

So here’s the view at the end of driving day one.

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On the road again

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Shells (Photo credit: lorda)

We’re heading out for our last vacation today.  I’m excited.  The kids are excited.  Mostly because this was unanticipated.

When we return, Geeky Girl heads to her first sports practice on Monday.  Tuesday, Geeky Boy heads to college.  I will likely be at work while Geeky Girl is at practice.  The week after begin our first meetings and the following week school begins.  It’s all happening so fast!

A couple of days ago, I spent the day away from the computer, just checking email by phone a couple of times.  I read, I puttered around the house, I went to farmer’s market.  It reminded me that I should do this more often, so I might try that during the school year.  Maybe a 1/2 day.

This week away is kind of a forced version of that since there’s no Internet access and cell phone signals are spotty.  I’m bringing my computer anyway to code, though I’m going to stick with the option of taking the weekend off.  I might poke around my classes, laying out a schedule, etc.  Sometimes doing these things relieves my stress because otherwise, I’m thinking about them all the time which stresses me out.  So if I find myself thinking about them, I’m just going to take the 1/2 hour to do it and then go back to relaxing.

I love road trips in general, as you know.  And yes, I have the Willie Nelson song stuck in my head.  I guess I should get going!

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