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Archive for December, 2011

Happy Job News

December 30th, 2011 at 11:25 am

We have got the final word that DH will indeed have a new contract in January. They wanted him on 3 January--about 20 feet away from his current desk, but with the year we've had, he's going to wait until 9 January to start. And it looks like rather than starting in the new department, he'll be hanging around the old one part of the time as his "replacement" is out on extended sick leave.

I wish I could say we did an immediate happy dance, but I think we were a bit shaken and couldn't quite come to grips with it. That and the cold that has been plaguing us all has made this news still very very very good, but I think we're cautious and wary still.

I'll try a year-end wrap-up tomorrow,with some updated goals for 2012.

In the meantime, I can't believe I'm saying this--but I wish it would snow. This is drearier than British winter. Time for another cookie before the resolutions set in!

Crossing Fingers Etc.

December 27th, 2011 at 03:21 pm

Just got an e-mail from DH who may have a new contract lined up. More when I know more. That would be the best happiest news in a long time.

Christmas details also to follow, but waiting on the big news.

Happy Holidays to all my SA friends! I really do feel like so many of you are my friends.

No Spender!

December 22nd, 2011 at 04:16 pm

I just realized I've spent nothing today! Yeah! Of course if I averaged it with the past two days, but let's not go there.

Still wrapping and organizing and cleaning here, but have made a big batch of my mom's hot fudge sauce in honor of her and decanted the cherry brandy for gifts.

I'm geared up for getting it done!

Holiday Cleanup

December 22nd, 2011 at 01:09 pm

It's not often I want to clean, but today I do. Too much holiday stuff laying around--bags and receipts, and ingredients. We spent a lovely hour this morning at DD's Christmas concert at school. We must've been seated in a great spot because only spotted three people texting and one guy on his phone chatting.

So I'm off to clean!

Odd Places for Gifts?

December 21st, 2011 at 10:09 pm

I was laughing with an old friend today about one year we bought virtually everyone's gifts at ---unbelievably--the liquor store. It was easy! Baileys for aunts and uncles, craft beer for lots of folks, nice wine for siblings, champagne for party types, interesting liquers for friends.

That kind of simple shopping is hard to find. Where else could a tired gal get so much done? A bookstore? Maybe a gourmet grocer?

Many-Stop Shopping

December 20th, 2011 at 11:45 pm

I spent 15 minutes trying to get INTO the mall parking lot and another 15 trying to get out before I screamed, "SURRENDER" and went to the local shops instead. Great bargains to be had and I spent probably too much. But except for stocking stuffers, a few odds and ends for DD, I think I'm almost done. Tomorrow is grocery shopping, a quick fling in Target, wrapping, laundry and ugh, more grading. But my evening class is wrapped up as are two of my regular classes.

I attempted a British mincemeat cake today. I always try to do either a Christmas pudding or cake for DH, but this recipe challenged my addled brain. It called for an 8" cake pan, and so without thinking, I put it in an 8" cake pan. A layer cake pan. Duh--As the smoke began billowing out into the kitchen, it occurred to me that they probably meant a spring form pan with deeper sides. Now two oven mitts, a kitchen towel, the dog's paws, and the bottom of the oven are all well doused in mincemeat cake. While I salvaged most of it--and indeed we liked it--I think the oven mitts are beyond rescue. Maybe I'll feel differently in the morning. Some days I feel like I'm living in a situation comedy.

Teacher Plays Hooky

December 18th, 2011 at 09:36 pm

I graded all day Thursday but still have a day's work left. Thursday night I couldn't bear the sight of it one more minute, and at 11 pm bought Amtrak tickets to Chicago for the next day. I phoned DD's school in the morning to say she wouldn't be at there, bundled us up, packed coupons, train snacks, my Art Institute membership card, and we were at Union Station by 12:30.

We headed straight for Macy's, got a beeper for the Walnut Room restaurant even though they said it would be a two-hour wait. Off we went to the Christkindl Market, where DD swooned at the glass ornaments, had a piece of strudel, finally chose a white owl ornament (because it looked like Hedwig from Harry Potter) and enjoyed a fabulous hour there. Our beeper buzzed by 2:30, and we had a delicious lunch at a table with a great view of the spectacular decorated trees. The Christmas fairy came by, sprinkled DD with fairy dust as she marveled over the store, the lights, and the Christmas overload of it all. We took pictures by the trees, shopped a little, and had dessert at the Chicago Magnolia Bakery cafe before heading to the Art Institute for the Chagall windows and a few Impressionists, a walk on Michigan Avenue, and wound up at the Cloud Gate with carolers at 6pm. They lit candles, we sang, and when we decided we needed to head to the train station, my darling started to cry because it was all so wonderful, she didn't want it to end. When we got home at 10pm, she ran in the house to tell her father we were going to make a tradition of it and she wanted to do that same trip every year for the rest of her life. Take that, evil grading! I defeated you and refused to let you eat my life. I'll deal with you tomorrow when I obliterate you for good for the rest of 2011!

Three Down

December 14th, 2011 at 09:46 pm

Oh man, I was dreading today. Lots to do and so little sleep, but somehow it went very well.
I closed out three classes, finished the grading for two of them last night, had a superb discussion in the Business in Literature class, found my missing evaluation forms, spent 20 delightful minutes chatting with colleagues, went to the last job candidate talk, almost ran out of gas but didn't, made my new favorite bratwurst soup and then delivered it to my colleague who had preemie twins. Phewww. After eating the other half of the soup, I graded a massive stack of papers, and now....drum roll... have only one (horrible) class left to grade. Tomorrow. I want to be free tomorrow.

ZZZZZZZ--I'm still grading

December 11th, 2011 at 10:40 pm

I've spent all day after church on grading. But we managed to squeeze in some fun this weekend. A local college had a "Hogwarts Evening" and we went with some friends. It was lots of fun--dementors and runes and potions and Honeydukes and a Quidditch match. DD was in Hogwarts heaven. Yesterday we took several of her friends and their mom to a gingerbread house decorating day at our church. Today we came home with the gingerbread house! And yesterday night after a long spell of grade updates, DH and I watched "Luther." He's now officially hooked on the show--part fabulous writing, part fabulous acting, part fabulous London scenery.

My only outing besides those was a quick trip to CVS for the bargains and the accompanying gift card.
I'm so boring right now...

I have a long day tomorrow so am heading off to bed with grading still looming. But done by Thursday, I swear it!

My Ebay Coat Joy!

December 10th, 2011 at 11:23 am

Last weekend in Chicago I spent 30 minutes or more oohing and aahing over fancy coats for girls at Macy's. The Rothschild one I almost bought was about $85 after discounts, but I just couldn't quite bring myself to pay that for a coat DD would wear two years.

I bid on and bought the same coat (used) on ebay for under $30. It was an indulgence, but I remember so well my "fancy" coat when I was 11, and I wanted DD to have one of her own. Maybe more for me than her? But less than half price!

Still Grading

December 8th, 2011 at 05:51 pm

And likely to be that way for another couple of days.
I left the house twice today--once to go to a faculty meeting and then again to take DD to Kumon. I think I'm too submerged in it. I burned the sandwich rolls while making dinner, forgot to defrost the chicken we were going to eat, and left the dog outside for 45 minutes. I'm a focus freak. I get in the groove and can't do anything else without disrupting my pattern. I spent nothing today except for 8 cents tax on Advent calendar fillers on my way home from school. CVS extra bucks paid the rest.

Back to it.

Some Limited Good News

December 7th, 2011 at 10:04 pm

DH met today with his contracting agency. I think they're afraid they'll lose him to another agency, so it appears that they'll pay him through January. That's great news--but they want him to take long-term travel assignments after that. He told them he needs to work locally. Maybe I'm stupid, but I just can't see it working for us if he's gone for weeks at a time. I'm not sure I could swing the single-parent routine. Several of my friends are trying it now with their husbands working hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away. They've shown me how hard it is, DH is not good by himself, and it would really disrupt our current before-school and evening-class routine. Maybe I'll feel differently if no work appears. I hope we don't have to think seriously about that. Sigh.

Grading, Grading, Grading

December 6th, 2011 at 06:55 pm

I've been reading student drafts all day. By 5pm, I had a killer headache. Student writing is worse than a clunk on the noggin.
But I've also managed to knock off a few things around the house,revamp DH's CV, and read and edit two capstone projects, But there are more invitations to ibuprofen in my inbox, so I foresee another two hours ahead of me.
I have spent nothing except $15.40 at the vet's office to get the dog's stitches removed. I probably could've done it myself! But I'm happy to report she's fine and perkier than ever. She has been released from the cone of shame and is buzzing around the house like a puppy.

I long to shop, bake, and relax, but I've got another week or so like this. Head down, full speed ahead.

Serenely Busy

December 5th, 2011 at 08:47 pm

I'm now happily at the point in the semester where students look harried, exhausted, and overwhelmed, and I don't. Everyone has their final assignments in their hands, I'm just waiting on deadlines and responses. The weekend away did me a world of good.

It will still be busy busy, but I'm feeling good about things. I powered through some papers tonight on a break from my evening class, and I'm spending all day tomorrow grading before the dog gets the stitches out and (hopefully) the cone off.

The husband of my best buddy here has lost his job. They're underwater on their house, and I'm not sure they can swing it on her university salary and extra gig. But we're in the same boat. Small salary, lots of work, one kid, foreign husbands without jobs. I predict we're trading thrifty soup recipes by the end of the week.

Terrific Time in Chicago

December 4th, 2011 at 08:27 pm

I had a great weekend in Chicago with my best friend. While it wasn't super-cheap, we made it affordable. We have similar budgets so that always helps. I got the AAA discount on my train ticket, shaving $4 off, got a great rate on the hotel which was withing walking distance of the train station and had a great free wine hour in the afternoon and coffee/ hot chocolate in the morning. We saw "The Santaland Diaries" (for mature audiences from a David Sedaris story) on Friday night and figured out how to take the el to the theatre. Transportation was a bargain all around. The free wine hour saved us $ on cocktails with dinner, and we had great meals. Saturday night we went to the new casual and cheaper Rick Bayless place, Xoco, which was great. I bought nice, interesting, affordable Christmas gifts for DD and DH (including a tie with an understated map of London for DH) and today was the Art Institute which had a fabulous free Beethoven string quartet concert. I'm in an art/food/culture swoon. Very worth it! And CB--that Marilyn statue is huge! She looks very cold there over the river!

Festive Fun

December 1st, 2011 at 11:49 am

Before we heard about DH's impending job issues, I'd booked a Chicago weekend with my Minnesota girlfriends. For a while I'd thought about canceling, but we got a great hotel rate, and the train is pretty cheap.
I've also got a house that looks like it's been hit by a terrorist strike, but I'm caught up on my grading for the next 10 seconds. Additional grading will accompany me on the train, and frankly, I need the break.

So, tomorrow morning I'm off until Sunday night.
I can't wait!