Mostly I just putter.

Doctoral student, amateur cook, beginning sewer.

Mostly I just putter.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Former Employer

I'm sitting in the basement of a building where I used to work. The Mister is finishing up his degree at this university (10 more weeks, hallelujah!) and so I rode along with him tonight. There were papers that needed to be graded and we're leaving for Steamboat after he gets out of class, so it made sense to use the free wi-fi and do my work. Driving around the campus made me nostalgic, a little sad, but mostly relieved. We lived the first two years of our marriage here, so it has sweet memories, but the reality is that moving on was the best decision we could have made. I took a big risk by stepping out of a career path that rarely allows re-entry in the hope that I could find a new career path that would allow us to buy a house and settle down. Moving eight times in eleven years makes a person crave for stability; I had an intense desire to get rid of our moving boxes. The Mister wanted to quit his job so that he could enter a new career. No matter what decision we made there were going to be many changes that resulted, so we decided to stay in Denver, throw caution to the wind, and hope for the best.

We're not natural risk-takers, so the decision making process was laborious and (dare I say it) slow. I am sure other couples can come to an agreement much sooner, but we process everything, multiple times. The Mister is one who doesn't like to make a decision without examining all of the alternatives, and I don't like to make a decision until he's ready. It wouldn't feel right. So we walked, and talked, I cried a little, then we rested. Then we came back to it, walked some more, talked some more, I cried some more, and then we rested. This process went on for almost a week while a potentially fabulous job offer waited for our decision. When we decided to turn it down we felt elated and more than a little bit nervous. We were exhausted from our own process and so relieved to have finally made a decision. Nervous because we were leaving a secure career path for a plan where both of us would be starting over at the bottom.

I'm pleased to report that I'm very happy in my new career path. The Mister has started interviewing and we're guessing he'll be employed in his new career path in the next month or two. You make these decisions and hope for the best, but you never know how it's going to work out.

I'd say it's worked out fine.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I've worked in education since I graduated from my undergrad at 22. For the last three years I have worked in an adult degree-completion program for a small, private university. Degree-completion programs have a "questionable" reputation in some arenas because most people who did a traditional degree can't fathom being able to complete a course in 8 weeks or complete a degree in 13-18 months. I won't get into the differences between andragogy and pedagogy, but I will say that I have found that working in this environment has profoundly and positively changed my approach to teaching.

I don't grade to give grades anymore, I grade to provide feedback so the next paper will be better. Due dates are important, but a late paper is rarely because the student is slacking off. Most of my students work full-time, have children, spouses, etc. but they have decided this is the point in their life when it's time to do their degree. They can't put it off any longer or they have come to a place where they can't go further without it, so they sacrifice to make school work for them. When I'm teaching my focus is on providing content and activities that can be used by the students the next day. They're adults--they want to see why something is important before they will commit to learning it. There are a lot of pitfalls with that attitude, but it's the reality they're living and what I'm teaching had better be worth missing their child's soccer game or an opportunity to earn some overtime money at work. Frankly, sometimes it feels like I'm performing, but isn't there always an element of performance to good teaching? My students are motivated and they expect me to be on the top of my game.

These thoughts are on my mind because for the first time in a long time I have a student who is not committed at all. It's obvious she's here to get the piece of paper and has no intention of connecting what she learns in school with what she's doing in her life. It doesn't really bother me, but it does put her in stark contrast to her classmates, and it has repeatedly startled me. Having become so accustomed to a certain caliber of student, regardless of their abilities, this woman has reminded me of the struggles that many of my peers battle with, trying to keep their students motivated and engaged. She's become my gauge, my reality check, to what other schools and other students are like. I'm surprised to report that I'm grateful.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Things I'd Like to Learn

Here's a random list for today:

How to eat just one cookie.

How to design my own website.

  • What the "phenomenological method" is. It came up in my reading for school this week and I'm not quite getting it.

How to sew in a zipper. I've done it once but I'm pretty sure it was an accident.

Where my retirement money is invested. This is embarassing, but I give my money to my retirement fund every month and I'm not sure what happens to it after that.

What eating pasta in Italy tastes like.

If the Pope ever wears jeans under those robes. Or wears jeans at all.

How child development progresses through the toddler years. Because there's got to be a rational explanation for my nephew's behavior.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Travel Abroad

The blog-o-sphere seems to be full of people moving their families to live overseas right now. The Mister and I are working toward that goal, too, but we're still a few years out. We must finish our degrees (the Mister will be done in April, theoretically I will be done in 2013) and the Mister needs to get a couple of years experience in his new career before we'll be in a position to either get transferred overseas or move and take contracts that would allow us to work from home. Our first choice destination is London, but Sydney is not too far behind. Given the cuts to higher education that both the UK and Australia are experiencing right now, my best bet might be to take online teaching contracts with US universities. Daydreaming about living in London or Sydney has given me something fun to think about on my morning commute.

Life Without Cable

The Mister and I have been talking about getting rid of cable for a long time, but finally bit the bullet last week and ended our unhealthy relationship with the boob tube. I knew I was watching too much TV, that it was just too easy to "relax" by going downstairs and watching, but I had no idea how much time I would get back in my day by making this one phone call. It's invigorating. We've been eating dinner at the table, listening to music, and just talking more. What's interesting to me is that we've long felt like we haven't had free time, that our evenings were just too busy, but once we gave up TV we are realizing that all of our free time was being sucked up in episodes of Law and Order. It was such a gradual relinquishment of our time that we had no idea it was happening until we made a clean break.

I might actually get back to sewing.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I know that every magazine geared toward women in the supermarket check-out has at least one article about being more mindful, being present, and being in the moment. I am taking the opposite stance in one area of my life: my appearance. My goal is to have a wardrobe, makeup, and self care routine that is essentially mindless. I am building a wardrobe where everything matches with everything else so when the morning rush is on I don't have to think about what to wear. My makeup routine has been pared down to the bare minimum and can be done half asleep (as it is most mornings). Routine self care is going to be done on a regular schedule (toenails, hair, eyebrows, etc.) so that a minimum of effort is required to maintain it.

These things simply aren't important to me anymore. Don't get me wrong, I want to look nice and present a clean, professional appearance. But I don't want to have to think about it any longer. In a culture that is obsessed with image, my goal is to step out of that game and start thinking more about the things that are important to me. I realized a few weeks ago that I was wondering what the girls at work would think about this outfit or that outfit and I knew I had to stop. The comparison game only leads to greater dissatisfaction and competition.

Anyone else have experience with this?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mr. Pouty Face

My nephew will be 3 in March. He'd been making this pouty face for a while but it was difficult to catch on camera. He was at our house just before Christmas and I had the perfect opportunity--he and I were arguing over whether or not he was going to eat breakfast (I won, but barely) and I just kept taking pictures. It took almost 40 shots, but I finally captured the look.
My sister's a little bit scared of what three will look like...