Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I've written a bit on here about our struggles with our son, who has an autism spectrum disorder. He also has problems with depression and anxiety. And I wonder a lot about how he is going to make it in the world. At 17 years old, he lives with his sister. We have high hopes of him being accepted to a private college with a program for students with Autism for the fall. That will sort him out for a while-- as long as he chooses to go to class. As long as he chooses to turn in his work. As long as he chooses to cooperate. And maybe that will be a long time. Four years even. Maybe he will graduate with a bachelor's degree, get a job and make his own way.


But if not?

I don't know. We are worn out. He can't move back in with us as any kind of long term thing. We still have another child at home. Even when she is grown, there is my sanity to think of.

There are no programs for adults who are mentally ill but intellectually functioning. (If you know of any, please leave a comment!)

Here is the thing: I don't think I am a bad parent. I have a 19 year old daughter who is a junior in college with a full ride scholarship (with a stipend), two part time jobs, and who likes to volunteer. I have a ten year old daughter who is a joy to be around, if she is a little bit hyperactive. I have a stepdaughter whom I helped raise who is a midwife and doula and a devoted church member. I am a teacher. I have students who come back to see me and who cite me as an influence in their lives. I don't feel like a failure as a parent or a mentor.

For the most part.

But I still don't know what to do about my son. I just continue to pray that I never see his name in the news.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

And the roll didn't last long...

Instead, I actually worked on my dissertation. A bit. But there are pages and they are not awful. (Maybe.)

I also got W's room completely cleaned out. We painted it and installed new flooring and moved Mea's bed in there. I still have a ways to go before I get Mea's room cleaned out, but now there is a place that she can come over and stay, and I am actually pretty happy about that. This has been a rough semester for her, but she came out on top, with a 3.6 gpa for the semester. And two jobs.

I am up this morning to work on my dissertation, but I have fasting bloodwork in a couple of hours and it is hard to think about important things with an empty stomach, so we have this.

Here is what I have really discovered in the past three months. One, on the internet, how much trust we put in a website is almost completely determined by its appearance. And two, women are nicer to each other online when men aren't around.

I do have something to read on communities of practice, so I guess I should go get it and start working.

Monday, September 24, 2012

On a Roll

Three days and three posts? Maybe it is a sign of the Apocalypse.

Grading papers for my class of remedial students is soul sucking. I have really connected with these students, but COME ON! Most of them did not come to conference, so they did not make the changes that I recommended to their drafts.

Oh those drafts are so bad. And some are too short? Who would like to guess how many times I told them that papers that were even a smidge too short would fail? I'll give you a hint-- it was more than twice. It was so many times that I started to feel like a real bitch for harping on it so much.

Here is the kicker-- this is the easiest assignment they will have in college writing. The assignment is a four page personal narrative about a time when the student learned something.

No matter, tonight the girls and I are going to go listen to Tim Gunn be wonderful. He'll be at UCA in 30 minutes. The only down side is that I am skipping a lecture on brain based philosophy that Norb is sponsoring, and I feel really terrible about that.

But whichever-- it is time to go!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cleaning Out

So, evidently, W has some hoarder tendencies.

Since Thursday:
Washed = 11 hamper-fulls of laundry
Tossed = 8 bags of trash
Tossed = 2 bags of torn up clothing
Tossed = pillows past salvage
Packed to give away = 3 boxes of clothing/bedding that are no longer needed

Now, his room is in the state that most rooms are in when a normal kid moves out. Now we need to figure out what to keep, what to store, what to give away and what to pitch.

We are thinking we might make that room the guest room, since it is across the hall from the guest bath. It is also smaller than Mea's room, which is probably okay. She doesn't intend to move back in, anyway. I'll get input from her before I move her stuff, though. That would let us turn Mea's room into a craft studio. Her room is bigger, if suffering from an awkward layout.

I suppose I should quite planning and work on grading the papers I brought home with me.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Empty-ish Nest

Our two oldest kids have moved out. Mea is in college, of course, and W has moved in with my step-daughter and her husband. Both, however, have left substantial amounts of stuff behind. Mea's room is slated to eventually become our guest room, or perhaps we'll open it back up to be part of the great room. W's room is going to be a craft room, and possibly also a guest room, if needed.

Between now and then, though, is the cleaning. I have picked up (so far) three white trashbags full of trash. AND eleven hamper-fulls of clothing and bedding. I've washed clothes and washed clothes since Thursday.

I've swept broken glass, granola bar wrappers, icing containers, chocolate chip bags, dirt, and bugs. I've picked up change, tools, pieces of sewing machines that he was fixing, pens and pencils (although I've thrown a lot of those away, too), a clip, a scope, Pokeman cards, books & lanyards.  I've thrown away magazines, notebook paper, handouts from school, a Victoria's Secret catalog, study materials for FBLA contests, receipts and more.

At this point, I am tempted just to back up the truck to the window and throw everything out and start over. I know that would be dumb. There is a nice dresser in there, some nice shelves, and several of my books.

W got upset when he realized today that I was really cleaning out his room. He thinks I should clean his sister's room first, since she moved out first. And I'll grant that Mea's room is a mess. If we were to have company, I would have do so some serious cleaning for them to sleep there. But she has come and worked on it some. And, perhaps most importantly, it does not *stink.* There is nothing that smells quite as bad as a teenage boy in the best of circumstances, and this is not the best of circumstances. He still had dirty clothes from his FBLA trip in early July. And there was food in a cooler in his room TODAY from that trip.

He also broke his bed. It was made from 2x6s.

When he first moved out, we were looking at it as more of a trial separation. At this point, I am not sure if any of us could handle if he moved back in. That breaks my heart. It does. But I am not sure how I ever dealt with the amount of stress that he causes. I am not sure that I could go back to living under that much stress. I am certainly not sure that I should be subjecting Miss O to that.

I suppose I should go check on the laundry. It is kind of unending at this point.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Back to School

Another August, another school year. I started teaching composition on the college level in the fall of 2003, which makes this my tenth year (but only my ninth year teaching full time). 

There is a part of me that feels like I am too young to have been doing anything for 9 years, but if I am honest, I know that is not true. My eldest is a sophomore in college this year. My middle child is a senior in high school, and my baby (my baby!) turned 10 last May. Adding in my years in public school, and I have been a teacher for 12 years. 

Twelve years. 

I have been a teacher almost as long as I was in public school, which seemed like forever. 

It kind of feels like I have been teaching forever, too, though. It is hard to remember before I was teaching. Probably because I didn't sleep a whole lot because I had two little kids who 

Maybe, though, it seems like I have been teaching forever because I love teaching. I love giving my students the skills to write competently and persuasively. I do not love fighting for attention. Every time I go up against a boyfriend/girlfriend, car payment, greek organization or sick child, I lose. I can't win. I need students who will meet me half way. I realize that my gen ed classes (or worse-- major prerequisites!) are not the top priority in my students lives. Really, I have noticed. 


Maybe the answer is to make college harder to get into. Maybe we should require students to invest something of their own, rather than allowing them rely completely on scholarships/financial aid. Maybe.maybe.maybe.  


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Another Summer, Another Funeral Post

I go to more funerals in the summer than I do through the school year simply because it is logistically easier to do so. Also, I can justify skipping a funeral in favor of sending flowers if I would have to take off work to go. In the summer, though, it is harder to justify not going to pay my final respects and give my condolences to families in person. Of course, all of this is complicated by the fact that most of the funerals that I want to attend are over two hours away. If the funerals were down the street here in town, I would actually go to more of them.

The funeral I am going to today is that of an old friend's grandmother. Her name was Iva. (Of course, being from the Ozarks, "Iva" is pronounced "Ivy." My mom named me "Laura" and has always called me "Laurie," too. And while we are the subject of pronunciation, the "au" in my name is pronounced like the "a" in "car" rather than the "o" in "core.") Ivy is the grandmother of Joe Jr., who was my brother's best friend when we were growing up. Joe Jr. went to our church and to our school, so we saw a lot of him. Joe Jr.'s mom, Linda, (Ivy's daughter) taught my Sunday School class one year. This is one of those situations that comes up a lot in small, close knit communities. I was not close to Ivy. I may or may not have ever spoken to her. But our lives intersected. Even with all that, though, I probably would have just sent flowers or a card if it were just up to me. 

But it is not just up to me. My brother is heading north for the funeral today and I am riding along.  I will be glad that I went, because I'll see people who were once important to me. Funerals up home tend to be a cross between a family reunion and a fire-and-brimstone, scare-them-into-heaven pentecostal (or Church of Christ) church service. I don't know what flavor of religious service I am getting today, but I know that I'll run into someone I know, and I'll be glad I did. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Since my last post...

During finals, I had pneumonia. I would get up off the couch, unplug my vaporizer, and go sit in a classroom for two hours and collect finals, then go home, plug the vaporizer up again, put my head under the towel, lie down on the couch and try to breath.

I did that all week. I was really glad that I had finished grading the homework, so that all that was left were revisions and reflections. I must say, though, that I need to tweak the reflection assignment. I really don't want to read last-minute whining about how hard the class is.

Yes. Writing is hard. I've noticed. It is hard for me, too.

Last week and the first part of this one are my time off. The kids and husband are still in school, so I have the house to myself to catch up on what I need to do. I've done a huge amount of laundry, picked up the house, and actually made some things. I made Olivia a nightgown, which turned out cute. A top for me in the wrong size (also cute, but doesn't fit), and a dress, that is currently in two pieces because I had to shorten the top, which I discovered after I cut it out, and had it all sewn up.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

End of Term Wrap-Up

I have a (metaphorical) stack of homework to grade on Blackboard, but I am antsy, waiting on UPS. I have a camera coming from a mad eBay sale.

After homework, I need to grade revisions. I need to figure out a way to give students exactly how many points are available for the semester so that they can keep up with their own grades. Now, I tell them what percentage of their grade assignments are, but only the ones who know how to work graphing calculators have a clue how to figure out their grades. (Those people my best students, but rarely my best writers.)

To kill time, while I am being antsy, I am watching Dr. Who. I have to say, I still am not a fan of Matt Smith. Part of this is just because I loved the idea of Patterson Joseph replacing David Tennant. Part of it is Matt Smith is just not really the same caliber of the Shakespearean actors that he followed.

I suppose I should hop off of here and do some work. Sure Mr. UPS will be here soon with my new toy. And if I do some work, I will be able to play with. :)

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Just a drive-by update

I have been working on my dissertation for the last 5 days.

I am so frustrated because if I had had any kind of clue what I wanted to study when I was going through my coursework, this would have been so much better. I have spent so many hours pursuing topics that didn't go anywhere except for class papers.

And I just get so overwhelmed because I am really starting with nothing. I don't even really know how to use the method of analysis that I am using.

I am just floundering.

And any help is really about 14 hours away. Not something I can take off and do in a weekend, even a long one.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One of those days...

I overslept. My husband woke me up, as always, but then went outside to check on the dogs. One had escaped, so he spent 15 minutes chasing him and securing the fence.

I woke up when he came back in. 15 minutes late. I don't allow a whole lot of time to get ready in the mornings. I rarely wear makeup, my hair is low maintenance, so it really only takes me about 30 minutes to get ready and get out the door.

Olivia was also still in bed. She had neglected to lay out her clothes last night, so she was completely ineffective. (She ended up carrying clothes with her to the car and getting dressed on the way.)

Since I was running behind, I decided to wear my hair curly instead of heat-styling it. But it was a bit frizzy, so I needed my spray bottle to put some water on it. I saw the Ace-Hardware sprayer that I used, and sprayed my hair.

Only after I had lost my coffee did I realize that the sprayer was not my water sprayer, but was instead full of spray cleaner. I have no idea what is in my hair. I am hoping ammonia. It didn't smell like bleach.

I eventually found my coffee and ran out of the house. I was stopped by two red lights, of course, but that was okay, since it gave Miss O more time to get dressed.

I walked into my classroom at 7:54, so the morning ended okay, I suppose. But I am still worried about what is in my hair.

Oh, and to top it all off, I am sick. I've got a doctor's appointment at 3:30 this afternoon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Time keeps on slippin'...

I don't know how the time keeps slipping past me. Well, I take that back. I do know what happened last week. Last week I was in a funk.

My job is as a contingent faculty member in a wonderful department in a wonderful university. Seriously, I love what I do and where I do it. I work with a great bunch of people. However, I am on a one-year, non-renewing contract. I always know that April may roll around and my name not appear on the schedule.

Evidently some other people in my same position practice magical thinking and secretly believe that some how, some way, they will achieve the holy grail for masters-level faculty: lectureship.


One person was actually kind of lied to about the possibility of a lectureship. But you know what? She read the writing on the wall and got a real job.

Me? I continue to hold on, mostly because I like our insurance and I have kids at home. One is in ballet and piano and one is in therapy. Both of them keep me running.

But I digress. The reason that I am all in a funk is that our chair, in trying to make everyone understand why we will not be getting lectureships, somehow makes us seem like... well, unimportant. Replaceable. Interchangeable. (This is not completely his fault. The university has a policy that codifies that stance.)

So there it is. For the first time in a number of years, I am considering work outside of education. I am even considering an MBA. (Evidently math is not really a requirement.)

(I am also considering whether starving myself the rest of today can somehow manage to make my weight go back to last week's weigh in by my weigh in tomorrow. I consider lots of things.)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Time Machine in a Legal Pad

There is nothing quite like stumbling up on an old notebook. I have rarely used separate notebooks based on subjects or even projects. Instead, whatever is on my mind during a particular time seems to migrate itself onto the pages of the notebook (or legal pad) of the moment.

Take the one I found today. In its pages nestle a book idea, free writing from writing along with students, perhaps, or just killing time, notes about an extinct publication that I was once part of, email addresses of students long graduated, notes from articles that I read, notes from a class that I was taking and notes from a class that I teaching, a phone message, and notes from a presentation that I gave.

From the class notes, I would place this notebook in 2007. I was in my second semester of my PhD program in my first class with Stephanie, Hannah and Vince.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Week Later

I've been actually tracking my food since I wrote last, and have lost another pound. Maybe Weight Watchers in my head is not as good as Weight Watchers in my computer.

I've survived the second week of the semester, and I survived session three of some professional development that I have been doing at the local high school. I am so glad that contract is almost done.

I've at least looked at my dissertation lately, which is something. I am hung up on figuring out how much sewing women actually did at home before paper patterns and sewing machines. I feel like it is important to have that bit of information. How else can I talk about the rhetorical construction of "work"? And how women's identity were defined? That seems to be important to me.

Friday, January 13, 2012

How does this happen?

How on earth does 8 months go by before I post?

I think that I am too busy living life right now to sit down and reflect. Work. Kids. PhD (ha!).

I should report that Weight Watchers Online has been a success. I've lost about 30 lbs, but then I've stalled. I wish that I could make myself get serious about it again. Fine. I'll go track yesterday's food.


See? I need more reflection in my life.

Now, of course, I need to eat (something healthy!) and go teach my last class.