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Archive for January, 2012

Three Days Into the Semester and

January 31st, 2012 at 07:50 pm

and I already would like to yell at some of them. Despite my injunctions against texting in class, I caught FIVE of them in three classes texting. My new rule, "Each time I see you texting counts as half an absence." Our rule for this class is four absences and your grade drops; seven and you fail.

One student has missed two of three days of class and was 30 minutes late to the class he actually attended.

I'm full of alternating parts weariness and vitriol. But tomorrow is payday.

Quiet Weekend

January 30th, 2012 at 11:03 am

We had a quiet weekend, and I'm thankful for it.
I went to a colleague's mom's funeral on Saturday then went shopping. The gloomy morning made me spend more at the grocery than I'd like, plus this darn diet made everything look fabulous.

But thanks to that quietness, I'm caught up with my online class, the laundry, and have a pot of veggie soup ready for tonight.

DD woke up at 3, and crawled into bed with us. That precluded several hours of sleep so I may try to squeeze in a nap this afternoon after I grade some homework.

Our local grocery has been running what I can only describe as an idiotic promotion with scratch off cards. I estimate we've scratched off 500+ cards and have won a whooping total of $3 and a bag of coleslaw mix. Everyone I know hates it, yet no one turns the cards down. I'm on the verge of writing cranky letters to the store, but will they listen?
Why don't I throw them away?

Pioneer Clothes?

January 27th, 2012 at 10:38 am

My darling daughter's school is having Pioneer Week and they want them to dress in 1864-style outfits. I've put a wanted call on freecycle, but wonder if anyone out there is SA-Land has an idea. The stuff on ebay is WAY too much for this one-time frolic.

I considered begging at an Amish settlement, but not sure I'd be welcomed with open arms!

Rousing the Rabble

January 26th, 2012 at 08:37 pm

Yesterday's Outrage

I have two hours a week when I "have" to be online for instant access for my online students. It's a rare week when one of them actually contacts me during those times, so of course I blog, do Swagbucks, and read e-mail. Yesterday--crazy bored--I actually read our horrible HR newsletter. I even clicked on a link from a new HR subcommittee that had ideas to help folks through our state budget cuts--with millions and millions more hanging over our heads.

I was hoping for a small small tidbit of helpful advice on avoiding pension fund fees, maximizing benefits etc. This newsletter goes out to all our employees--most of whom have advanced degrees.

Here's a sample of their advice:

Try a frozen pizza for dinner

Bring leftovers home from your restaurant dinner to eat the next day for lunch.

Instead of that steak dinner, try pizza.

Get a second job. (No awareness that virtually all my colleagues have second and third jobs?)

I swear the whole darn thing was written by second graders. It was awful, horrible, snarky, stupid, and condescending. So, loving to rouse the rabble, I forwarded it to my colleagues' discussion list. Let's just say I set things off. In under three hours, 100 people e-mailed me--equally outraged.

It's not that it was bad advice, but their awareness of the struggles their audience faces was non-existent. The darn thing ended with a listing of FOOD PANTRIES! Thank you, my employer, that you acknowledge some of us are paid so badly we need a food pantry. I cannot even quite figure out my reaction--just that this enraged every single person that read it.

Again, let me say that many people may need to be told things like this--but man--as my boss said--it was a weapon of mass condescension. Someone suggested that our department fridge should have a sign on the front saying "I am bringing my lunch instead of ordering a steak dinner." When I got to work today--it did. And all the various leftovers made into lunches--many had post-its reading, "I'm eating this instead of a steak dinner."

So--I've caused one large uproar so far--and have another in the works.

The Middle of the Week

January 25th, 2012 at 07:41 pm

Time constraints are back on now that school has started up again. I got most thing done with my online class before noon, then headed to the grocery store.
While I got some decent bargains with the double coupons, I had to get rain checks on several of the other things I wanted. I always vow I'm going to stop going to that branch of the local grocery chain--the butchers are particularly irritating and always out of everything. It's worth a few more minutes drive time to have a better time shopping.

I tried to sit near the other moms again tonight during DD's dance class, but they're just not my cup of coffee. Another woman was trying to read while the gals were gossiping away, and finally gave up, looked at me, rolled her eyes, and went out to sit in a cold car to read. The class only lasts 45 minutes--and there's not really enough time to go anywhere. If it were warmer, I'd sit in the car too.

My good news of the day is another book sale from the old texts in my office. I'm aiming to make up the airfare to Napa with book sales and I'm almost halfway there.

I have an interesting story for you all, but it'll have to wait until tomorrow.

Cash and Class

January 24th, 2012 at 07:48 pm

The university started up today--and I am tired. Three classes back to back--and I'm wiped. There's always a lot going on these first few days, so it's no surprise.

My only spending today was on my lovely regular cup of coffee. But I came home late to good news. The check for the text review I did in December has arrived, and my flex benefits check is en route.

DD and DH went to the school sock hop, but I stayed home, got some ironing done, and am planning on a bath, bed, and book very very soon.

I found some old texts in my office today so perhaps I can get them listed before I drive into dreamland.

Parenting Class

January 23rd, 2012 at 10:53 am

Our school district offers a "Love and Logic" Parenting class that some of the parents we know have enjoyed, so I spent a whooping $8 on the workbook and went over there this morning. I think it was a good opportunity to connect with people--and I found that although those skills seem to come naturally to me in the classroom, I need to apply them more consistently at home--not getting in the middle of always intervening etc. The class runs for six weeks, and I think I'll enjoy it.


The rest of the day will be spent on the study abroad job app. No other news to report. I'm looking forward to a good first week back at school!

Done and Uploaded

January 22nd, 2012 at 03:53 pm

While DD (who has been much more steady these past few days) was at a playdate this afternoon, I did some shopping and put the finishing touches on Week One of my online class.

Perhaps it's the lull between football games, but several of my new students have checked in already, though class doesn't officially begin until tomorrow.

I did a little shopping after church--a great deal on DH's instant coffee at CVS and jeans for DD at Old Navy. Suddenly all her jeans are too short, and people keep commenting on how tall she's become. Since Bath and Body Works is next door to Old Navy, I ducked in there to get the free hand lotion sample and ask about last fall's pumpkin soap that our British friends love. Tonight looks like it may have some laundry and some NYT crossword ahead.

Listening to NPR while in the car, I'm again mulling over the Euro debt crisis. The commentator likened Greece to a cigarette--and Italy to the gas pump. They speculated a large-scale Euro collapse would likely send the US back into recession. Yuck. Not a pleasant thought at all.

Warning--Gross story ahead

January 21st, 2012 at 03:20 pm

It's two days before the semester begins and I'm cleaning and clearing. I love to start the semester with a clean house and everything ready to roll--but the best mislaid plans...

My dear family always reminds me of when DD was three, and I was completely prepped for the semester. I was on time, ready to take her to childcare, syllabi and first day materials copied and ready to go in the back seat next to her. I was VERY pleased with myself as I;'m not normally that serene. About halfway there, DD says to me, "I think I'm going to burp." Since she rarely announced anything like that, I raised an eyebrow--and 30 seconds later, she vomited all over my course materials and herself. No way could I take her to childcare, the phone was in the back seat too, and I had class beginning in 40 minutes. I drove to DH's office, called him from the lobby, he jumped in the car, and we drove to the university--then he took DD home. I did have to explain the lack of handouts to students whose reaction was similar to the one you're probably having now. But indeed, the worst of the semester was over that first day!

I'm hoping for a calmer one on Tuesday.

Food and Weather

January 20th, 2012 at 08:55 am

It's still below zero here--and now it's snowing, which means I'm either sleeping,reading, or cooking.

I'm bringing soup today to my friend with the preemie twins. It's my favorite spinach soup. Many people roll their eyes when I say spinach soup, but I'm Popeye all over again. I make it with evaporated skim milk, and it was all I could do to stop myself from eating a huge bowl of it last night before I jarred it up (is that really a term?) for them. I also made a batch of hot fudge sauce to take over and some muffins. All this was accomplished while watching the PBS new-ish Sherlock Holmes.

I resisted the new PBS Sherlock Holmes, but ended up liking it. Great scenes of London--and I think they had the heart of SH right.

Off to lunch today with an old friend. It's the last of the pre-semester freedom and I'm planning on enjoying it--even with the snow and cold.

In financial news, I sold two books to make a dent in the Napa fund. My 2012 sales goal is $110 month between ebay, books, and Craigslist. That will pay for one of our UK tickets.

Still in teaching denial, but expect I'll snap out of it before I walk into the classroom on Tuesday.

I Caved Too

January 19th, 2012 at 01:33 pm

but more expensively than GS cookies. Minnesota girlfriends have successfully lobbied for a long weekend in Napa. I spent two hours comparing airfares and can manage it and the shared hotel room down to under $500. It's so darn cold here, I think I needed a mental boost.

Now back to doubling coupons, realigning the draft stoppers, and cleaning out the fridge.

Shopping and Not Much Else

January 18th, 2012 at 08:20 pm

I hoped to get a chunk done on the study abroad job application today, but spent most of the day shopping, then hauling DD to her exercise/dance class. Tomorrow the start of semester meetings begin, but I should have most of the afternoon to work on the job application.

Good thing we had such a warm December because it's cold now! Hope all of you in the NW are holding up under that snow!

Temptation looms. My Minnesota girlfriends are rumbling about a Napa trip in February. We went 12 years ago--and maybe it's time to go again.

Baby, It's Cold Outside

January 18th, 2012 at 08:50 am

When I stumbled from my toasty bed at 6, the thermometer read minus 5. In my Minnesota days that wouldn't have seemed too bad, but I've become a southern Wisconsin softie.

All my goals got crossed off yesterday as it was a pretty darn productive day. I got lots of class prep done--though I despise the Desire2Learn system we use for online classes. It's the most non-intuitive piece of... . Oh never mind. I made bean soup for a million, got the laundry done and my flex spending claim filed, completed my annual self evaluation, and thriftily used up all sorts of leftovers.

Can someone counsel me (CCF? Lauras?) about tempestuous tweens? DD seems to be going through a crazy time, but everything I read says it's normal. Lots of drama, tears, fights with friends, fights with us, feeling "pressured" about school work, etc. But man, either I'm going to have to send her to a faraway French convent school, or I'm going on the lam. The drama of it all is so exhausting.

Today's goals (if I decide not to go on the lam) include groceries, drugstore, and the beginning of the application process for the study abroad job.

I also curse Amazon for the free "Threadwords" on DD's Kindle. Time bandit!

A Bean Soup Sort of Day

January 17th, 2012 at 08:52 am

Yep, it's the day after the long weekend and thankfully the beans have been soaking. I see bean soup in our dinner future. It's going to be a mighty cold week here, and the budget needs some tweaking, especially after reading Patient Saver's Atlantic article.

I've got a list; I've got a plan. I'll finish off class prep today, finish off the laundry, and file my flex spending forms.

I've still got some of my mom's clothes in my home office, and I've been having a hard time parting with them--especially her favorite boiled wool jackets. But I think I have worked through some of my grief with them, and remembering how she always was grateful to the Salvation Army for feeding her and her mom through the depression, they'll go to the Salvation Army thrift shop tomorrow.

Spendy Weekend?

January 16th, 2012 at 09:55 pm

Perhaps not spendy in the horrific major sense, but the money did flow out all weekend, mostly on eating out--which we don't do all that much. Friday night DH went out with some work colleagues, Saturday we took DD and a friend to the planetarium show then for burgers, and Sunday her friend and her mom and DD and I went to a fancy tea. This is the girl that was having bullying problems on the playground so her mom wanted to treat her a bit--and we came along for the ride. So it was spendy, but fun. Then the dog grooming, and a (aargh) parking ticket, and I need to get back in control of things!

So now both the eating and spending plan have run off the road. Tomorrow!

Thinking about Soup

January 13th, 2012 at 07:49 am

I made a nice butternut squash and carrot soup yesterday, and although my SA blogging friends couldn't make it for dinner, it got me thinking about soup. Everyone says soup is a great weight-loss tool, and I'll bet lots of us make soup to use up bits of stuff in the fridge and pantry.
Yesterday's butternut squash soup recipe came from the Williams Sonoma Christmas catalog. That recipe called for pork belly to make some wacky sort of pork crouton-y things for a topper. The catalog also featured a gourmet pork belly slab at a mere $75 for 2lb and 10oz of this pricey pork. You could also buy more for $99. Now the odds of me buying $75 pork belly are a lot slimmer than either me or the pork belly; I substituted thick-cut bacon.

It's January, so it seems like you're all making soup. But what soup are you making? I tend to make lots of pho, chili, and minestrone, and would like to expand my repertoire.

Car Repair Woes

January 12th, 2012 at 10:11 am

DH just got word from the car repair guy that our bill is a lovely $1200. I hope they'll honor their Angie's List coupon for 10% off.

It's snowing hard here, and I've begun serious work on planning the upcoming semester. The grocery store was crazy yesterday, but I doubt we'll have much snow. I am glad I filled up the car before it got so cold.

This afternoon I'm going to work more on class prep, but also on my teaching abroad application. I'm not optimistic about getting the job, but think I should give it a shot.

Butternut squash soup and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner tonight.

The Best Compliment of the Day

January 11th, 2012 at 08:09 pm

While DD was at her dance class, I zipped over to the library rather than sit with all the chattering moms. Sometimes I worry about my anti-socialness, but the few minutes I was there they spent talking about someone from a "Real Housewives" show--not quite my thing. But the library, just like when I was a geeky kid, was pure bliss. I got five new books, ordered two more, and at check out, the young library clerk who was somewhere around 20 looked over my selections and said, "I like your taste!" A kindred soul at the library!

I see they're forecasting snow tomorrow. Chicagoland Laura and CB: Any snow there yet?

UK Airfares

January 10th, 2012 at 10:05 pm

We booked our UK cottage for this summer last August, choosing the same one as last year. It's a National Trust cottage, and there was only one week available, plus we wanted to avoid the chaos surrounding the Olympics in August. We've paid for most of it already, so today I thought I'd take a look at airfares. Man, they are ugly. When DH and I were dating ( okay, it was 12 years ago) we regularly flew in the off season from Chicago to London for around $500. The best number I could find today for the week we need is (gasp) almost $1400. Each. DH went three times in 2011, mostly because his mom was ill, so we used lots of airmiles then. I'm going to have to find a way to earn and stretch more miles, though we have enough for one ticket still. Hmm--what to do?

Aha! Just as I suspected...

January 10th, 2012 at 01:21 pm

The lost check for DD's lunch money has been located. And yes, as I suspected, it was in her bag--but stuffed in a side pocket where she keeps snacks and hair clips. I'd get mad at her, but she clearly gets this wacky propensity to lose things from me.

I spent the morning cooking. A formerly close friend (does that make any sense?) has had a run of bad luck and I made her a big casserole of ham and scalloped potatoes which is one of her favorites. I've also roasted squash and carrots for soup and then delivered the casserole, got gas (ugh $50) and headed home. It's another weirdly warm day here. My car thermometer reads 52 degrees. Good for the heating bill, I guess.

NSD Dashed

January 10th, 2012 at 09:05 am

Grrr. I'm growling at the school lunch folks at DD's school. Last week I sent a check for $50 for lunches with her, but kept getting low-balance notifications. I scoured her bag suspecting she might've forgotten it, but she insisted it was turned in. Yesterday she was send home with a note that said there would be no more lunches for her unless I deposited funds. It was after hours, so no reply at the food service office, and I had to do a $20 fund top-up on line--complete with an annoying $1.95 fee. I followed that up with an e-mail to the food service office, but no reply yet. Where's my check?!

Hi Ho!

January 9th, 2012 at 09:30 am

Yes indeed, DH went back to work today! He's sitting in his same desk, but at work on another contract. And I have two blessed weeks to work on next term's materials, clean the house, and get things back in order. I've spent the morning going through receipts, filling out rebates, clearing out mail, and making lists.

We're very grateful he's back at work, but we sure enjoyed our week together. This week I'd like to organize, clean, and read.

Shopping Stops

January 8th, 2012 at 01:14 pm

Weary of being in the house and wearier still of my cold, DD and I did some shopping yesterday. First stop Target. Lots of great deals with those TGT on-line coupons and returned a few Christmas things. Thrill of the trip? A new ironing-board cover. They seemed to have lots of cute things, all of which I resisted. Then on to Blood, Bath, and Beyond (The Simpsons gets full credit for that name) to replace DD's broken jewelry holder which DH stepped on two days after Christmas. More joy there: It was on sale, and I had a coupon. Famous Footwear followed with frequent buyer credits and a sale bringing the $44 shoes down to $6.49! One more stop at CVS where we met the mom of one of DD's friends. DD's friend has been having problems being bullied on the playground, so we invited her for a playdate next week. The school has a no-tolerance policy, but some bullying is creepy intimidation. These girls say nothing to the little girl, just follow her and glare at her. She walks away, they surround her and do it again. I felt so bad for her mom too--big dark circles under her eyes from worrying about the situation. Anyway, we bought enough to get rid of my expiring EB and get a great deal on dishwasher soap.

I've looked up the site for the will, and intend to work on it tomorrow. And that's about the size of it. Cold, Cold--go away!

Where there's a will...

January 6th, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Please slap me now, I'm ashamed to admit we have a house, child, retirement plans, too much personal property, half interest in my late-mother's home, a dim-witted dog, a three-car garage with two cars, and ...no will. My goal for the next three weeks of my break is to get some things done--probably most importantly a will. Should we do it ourselves with a kit? Do we need an attorney? Does our dual citizenship complicate this? I'm willing to throw a couple hundred dollars at this endeavor if need be.

Advice?

Contract Shillyshallying

January 5th, 2012 at 06:18 pm

DH spent much of the day on the phone to various contract agencies. They seem unable to give him a firm idea of his salary if he signs on with them. At this point it looks like he'll stay with his original agency, but we're weighing the pros and cons. All this needs to be done by Monday when the new contract starts.

I got up to send DD off to school this morning, then returned to bed for two hours. The cold continues to hamper progress, but at least I got all (ALL!) the laundry done, ironed, and stowed. Honestly, it hasn't been all done since probably October.

We made a to-do list, but 2012 goals will wait until Monday at this rate.

Quick Blog

January 4th, 2012 at 08:21 pm

Can it only be January 4 and I'm already behind? Both DH and I still have colds, very sniffly ones, but I made it to get my hair cut and a quick swing to the grocery. I was pleased as punch to find 1# cans of tomatoes for 59cents, but wonder if I'm going to have to give up canned tomatoes because of BPA? I hope not.

Goals update procrastinated until tomorrow.

Grabbing tissues and a book for the duration. So much for our romantic week off together!

A Languorous Start

January 2nd, 2012 at 08:05 am

We had a lovely New Years. All of us trundled off to the very-crowded mall to see "Hugo" then to an early dinner, followed by games and the beginning of a jigsaw puzzles. Yesterday we went to a friend's party, and today while DD is off at school, DH and I are still in pjs, drinking coffee and planning his week off.

I'm still working on 2012 goals, but I suspect they'll just be an updated version of last year's missions.

We've had the lightest dusting of snow, but baby it's cold outside.