Nerdy Stuff

Dearest husband of mine,

I am a hypocrite.

You have wanted to use family resources for work for years.  Whether it was time, or camera lenses, or incentives for people to come to your room for training, I grumbled that you were allowing the family to suffer without you while you donated time and resources to your job.  I have since spent several unpaid hours working, used your camera to take pictures that I used in 4 presentations and my webpage, and have spent money out of pocket to enhance my room and (often impatiently) create things to use in my office.  I have unabashedly used you as an accomplice as you have willingly created materials for me to use as teaching aids.

While I may be able to conjure up some reasons why it’s different and totally acceptable for me, I must concede that it is a double standard.  How do you ever put up with me?  I’m sorry that I have been a miser of both time and money, but I will afford you the grace that I have liberally and selfishly given myself.  <3

When I was pregnant with my third child, one of my coworkers commented that I really relish the mommy role, noting that I had been pregnant with somebody or another for half of the time that I had worked with him.  I also sometimes wore my “Epidural?! SCHMEPIDURAL!!”  t-shirt to work.  (I was pregnant and it fit me.  Fitting was the main requirement for clothing then.)  I assured him that, no, I didn’t particularly enjoy pregnancy, I was merely of childbearing age and having children fit my family.  The childbearing seemed to be my responsibility because my husband lacks a womb.

My coworker noted that I am obviously one of those women who genuinely enjoy being pregnant.  “Nope,” I responded, “if I could grow them in jars in a laboratory, I would find that to be preferable.”  Pregnancy seemed a little more pragmatic than the large jars or the other option of fearing pregnancy and childbirth too much ever to have children.

My brother-in-law noted recently that I am more of a girl than I let on.  For example, I readily discussed natural childbirth with our then pregnant friend.  Nope, it’s just a relevant topic and one where I have knowledge and experience to offer when it is asked of me.

When one of my daughters was hospitalized as an infant and I contested that formula was not the solution because it was not reasonable and it would not fix her, but mask a symptom.  We needed to focus on finding the root of her problem, I was told, “Well, you’re just one of those super-natural mamas.”  I just think that I should feed my infant something that is really food (breastmilk) for the same reasons that I use whole wheat flour instead of Bisquik (aka internal glue) when they’re approximately the same cost.  Our bodies function better when they are fueled properly.  It’s again about pragmatism.

My father-in-law has a graduate degree in agriculture.  He planted a backyard garden for us.  I haven’t done any work in it, but I get to go to my back yard to get side dishes.  He ups my crunchy credit when he’s the one who should be receiving the credit.  My zucchini is delicious and free…and easily accessible!

Now, these are all reasons that I have been called “crunchy” or “natural.”  I’ve even received the snide, judgmental, “Well, aren’t you just trying to win a medal, aren’t you now?”  But really, do not give me credit where credit is not warranted.  I am much too selfish to do these things to create a super-pristine environment for my family.  I’m much too apathetic to care about the opinions of other moms.  Let us replace descriptions like “crunchy” and “natural” with “pragmatic” and “reasonable.”

Natural childbirth.  Yes, I know that hospitals are where they keep the drugs, but it’s also where they keep the knives.  I don’t like to be cut especially when it’s entirely unnecessary.  I have been told 4 different reasons in 3 pregnancies why I needed to have a c-section.  I’m not in the mood to argue about everyone’s experience and hear about why her OB was right that that c-section was the only way, but it was obviously incorrect on 4 bad calls and 3 homebirths later.  I heard, “Well, aren’t you (snear) brave!”  Nope.  Just want to get it get it over with faster.  Don’t slice my abs or my hoohah.  Don’t paralyze and inhibit my body’s ability to birth gently.  Hospitals give people more injuries from which to recover.  When I’ve just had a baby, I don’t want to have to do any unnecessary healing.  No, thank you.  I have plenty to do without interventions adding extras.  Hospital birth as a whole process is just not as efficient as it’s cracked up to be.

Breastfeeding.  Yes, it’s appropriate food for a human and it’s created by a brilliant God, but, people, it’s FREE.  I repeat, FREE!   Furthermore, it’s really easy to administer meds (or herbs as the case may be) to a baby when my work is take the herbs myself, wait an hour, and feed the baby.  While it was not easy for the first two months, it was AMAZINGLY worth it.  Free.

Furthermore, the fact that my children are children makes it very hard to sit down and pay attention to them when they have so little to add to the conversation.  I breastfed them until they were very conversational (1 ½ years).  Breastfeeding was not something that I did because I already felt this mommying desire of sitting and bonding with the baby; it’s what I painstakingly chose to do to CREATE any mommy mojo that I could find.  Now, my children are pretty hilarious people and I love having one-on-one time with each one…and no one has to chew on me.

I was infuriated when I was told that I was breastfeeding because I enjoyed it so much.  Are you bleeping kidding me?  I ENJOY the process of teaching someone with limited communication skills not to bite me?  I ENJOY not getting to do an occupation that I love because I’m too busy feeding someone every 2-3 hours?  I ENJOY being sent to the proverbial corner because someone might suddenly become aware that I possess such appendages?  I ENJOY having sensitive skin cracked open and bleeding?  I once had someone tell me that I was nursing for more than 3 months because it felt good.  What?!  I don’t even know what to do with that.  It hurt.  That was just rude.  Nope.  I nursed the kids because I thought that if I actively chose to do my part in his or her creation, I owe it to him or her to provide proper nutrition for as long as I am responsible for nourishing the child.  Okay, and it’s free.

Couponing.  I really have no idea why this is ever categorized as super-mom material instead of just pragmatic plain and simple.  They let you have stuff for cheaper.  It’s pretty awesome.  Just don’t get free stuff that isn’t food but is masquerading as food.  That doesn’t nourish and is no longer pragmatic.

Herbs.  They work.  Prescriptions have lots of elements that I don’t find to be pragmatic. 1) I have to go to an MD and pay a lot of money to get them.  2) Then, I have to pay for the expensive prescription.  3) The prescription probably won’t work–at least that has been my repeated experience.  4) There are often yucky side effects.

I have a different idea.  Dr. Google is free.  Herbs are significantly cheaper than MD+Rx.  Then, people get well.  Be well is very pragmatic.

Backyard Garden.  I haven’t put work into it.  My father-in-law and husband have worked in it while I was at work.  I just harvest lettuce, zucchini and potatoes.  Maybe I wouldn’t think that it is so pragmatic if I had been the one putting in the elbow grease, but the backyard is more easily accessible than the grocery store.

Cooking at Home.  I deviated last week.  I told my husband that I didn’t want to bother packing a lunch for a family of 5 for an outing.  I should not have told him that.  He was even willing to pack food for me.  He stopped at McD’s.  It took forever.  It was $14 going the “cheap” route.  In the end, it took too long, we overspent, and we felt like we had eaten garbage.  Lesson learned…again.  Home is more pragmatic.  Hubs was right.  There’s produce ready for the next outing as I write.  We can pack what is delicious, easy, inexpensive, and makes our bodies feel well to play all day.

No TV.  This one makes me such a “tough mom.”  “What?!  You don’t have a TV??  That’s inhumane!”  Our antenna gets no reception.  The cable company (the only one in the area) wants to charge us an extra $50/month to watch what comes on hulu for free.  Furthermore, if our kids had anymore venues for media, I’m pretty sure they’d become zombies.  It’s cheaper.

Making Laundry Detergent.  This one is kind of a fad.  I keep the stuff on hand to make it when I run out.  It’s not very pragmatic to run out of detergent with this many mess makers in the house.  It’s cheap and functional.

Making Face Scrub. If I can be diligent about making it once a month, my face appreciates the homemade scrub better than anything store bought.  Pragmatism.

My 5 year old is often in mismatched clothing.  I usually don’t care if my 5 year old is wearing mismatched clothes because she deliberately designed that ensemble.  She dressed herself in clean clothes.  Done.   Some say that I’m a “free spirit” for allowing it; others say that she’s “being raised by wolves.”   I’ll let my apathy soak up the being raised by wolves part so that she can be the free spirit.  There’s something about her free spirit that I think needs to be nurtured.  It’s a part of her that can become the most beautiful.  She’s weird and different kind of weird than I am.  Whatever.  Maybe she’ll grow up with the apathy that becomes so pragmatic.

Don’t eat stuff that’s not food.  High fructose corn syrup and modified food starch are bad.  I sound crazy when I’m in the grocery store with my kids and I REPEATEDLY respond to their questions of why we don’t buy what other families buy with, “Because it’s not…” and the prompted kid responds, “healthy.”  “Right.  It’s not really food.  If you want to eat stuff like that, go somewhere else because you won’t find it at home.”  There’s a lot of unhealthy garbage that they have access to everywhere else (like the pseudo cheese slime that I saw one of my kid’s classmates eating in a school lunch.  Ew.).  I lack the ability to monitor all of that.  So, I’m not going to introduce that stuff into their normal eating hub too.  “If you want to kill your insides, you’re going to have to do it not on my watch.  If you have health problems when you’re an adult you won’t be able to blame me.  Now, have some hummus with cucumber and carrots.  I’ll make you almond milk/avocado chocolate pudding when you’re done (all delicious, by the way).”  Not crunchy.   If Type II Diabetes comes from my genetic line, it would not be pragmatic not to give them the habits and tools not to develop it later.  That’s a life goal, by the way—don’t get all of the nasty diseases that come from lifelong unhealthy eating habits.  All the bad ones in my family seem to be controllable by diet/weight.  Sick doesn’t seem pragmatic.

Therefore, doing what is “crunchy” has nothing to do with winning proverbial medals from other moms; it has to do with reevaluating choices and putting more stock in the best option over what is commonly done.  Again, I am much too apathetic to be concerned winning medals.

One of my shortcomings as a professor is that I am much too lenient with partial credit.  I have started using technology to combat that.  When I give a test, 15-20% of it is on paper (mostly graphing and occasionally showing one process over another) and the rest is on a computer.  The questions are algorithmically generated so that each student gets a different problem on the same concept.  I also have the software lock a student out of a test when he or she hasn’t exhibited a reasonable performance on a practice test.

The paper and pencil version is given only once (in class) and partial credit is granted.  The computer portion is given in class and no partial credit is given.  The computer is a machine and will grade rigidly.  When I give generous partial credit, students are not inspired to improve.  They settle for pretty close.  However, grading so rigidly is disheartening to students.  So, I aim not to let them settle and not to be disheartened.  I allow them to take the computer portion of the test again in the college’s designated testing area.  We’re talking about maybe 4 or 5 students per unit (trying to turn a B into an A or a D into a C).  Wanting to perform well is a worthwhile academic process.  I have found that this system promotes mastery instead of barely passing.

The testing center sent me a long letter. It said that I needed to fill out a separate form for each student (!), that I was creating too much extra work for her staff by not letting them know how long each test was or when it was allowed or when the due dates are, that they only have two calculators assigned for testing, and that the testing center was “not for convenience.”  While I asserted that *I* set the testing parameters and her staff doesn’t need to worry themselves with it as they lack the ability to give my test without my consent/requirements (and that I didn’t need her staff to report back to me as the computer tells me all of the information that she insisted that I needed from her staff), I was enraged by the suggestion that anything I do as an educator is for convenience.

Let me be perfectly clear.  Being an educator is inconvenient.  I hear my son say, “Mom, I wish you didn’t have to go to work.   I miss you.”  My daughters and I have the same conversation.  “Mommy, I want to go with you.”  “You can’t.  I’m going to work.”  “Please, Mommy, I’ll go to work with you.  I want to be with you.”  Then, I have to leave a sobbing child and instruct my husband to hold her back and not to let her run out into the driveway as I’m backing out.  My husband sometimes calls me while I’m grading papers, “Just wanted to know when you’re going to be home.  I want to see you.”  All of these ideas swirl in my head while I consider that my friend who is a cashier at a home improvement store has a higher annual income than I do.

Being an educator—especially a part-time educator—is certainly NOT FOR MY CONVENIENCE.  I daresay that I really enjoy saying “asymptote,” “logarithm,” and “the gog of x.” Maybe I’m trying to give them a foundation and inspire them that they can conquer algebra…something they believe to be unconquerable.  Maybe the fact that I’m giving the students a second opportunity to perform (something else I have to grade) is evidence that convenience was never really my goal.

The only reason I send students to the testing center at all is because I am an adjunct and have not been blessed with an office where I can have students prove themselves academically.  It would be much more convenient for me to take my children to day care, work full-time…from an office, and never have to talk to the testing center.  Yes, being self-contained and earning a grown-up income and being provided with space to accomplish goals sounds more convenient.

Lastly, the testing center’s goal is not to be convenient?  Really?  That seems like that would be the primary reason that it exists.

Ms. Xxxx,

Pardon my surprise.  This is contrary to what I was told last semester.  An emailed roster with a password was exactly what I was told to send.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that 4 years ago, I was told that there was a version of this document that was easier to edit electronically.  Maybe I could mail merge it.

I do not require that my students have a specific calculator that belongs to the testing center to test.  I clear programs that were created for cheating before he or she is allowed to test.  If a student has a “program” that is intended for cheating, I clear the RAM.  It’s a simple process and it could fix the problem of a mere two learning center owned calculators.  It’s how I test in my classroom since I do not have a classroom set of calculators.  

Also, the software where the test is located allows me to control the testing parameters.  The form wants me to list the testing time allowed, the dates that students are allowed to test, and where to hold the test.  I assume that these are listed so that your staff can make sure to follow all of each professor’s procedures.  I assure you that I have set those testing parameters online.  If the student is no longer allowed to take a test, the link to the passworded screen will disappear.  If the student has not finished the prerequisites that I assigned, the link will not be available.  When the student’s time is up, the software will not allow the student to answer any more questions.  Frankly, while I will fill out the form as procedures dictate, your staff lacks the ability to give my test without my consent. 

I have admin rights to the course.  Without paperwork from your staff, I still have the ability to see what time a student took the test and how long it took him or her.  While I’ve never tried (because the password removes the necessity), I bet I might be able to find an IP address to ensure that the student took it at the right location.

You mentioned that your staff might have had an additional workload because of this.  I assure you that that is entirely unnecessary.  I intended for them to do three things: 1) ID matches roster, 2) calc has RAM cleared if applicable, 3) password.  I would, however, appreciate if my passwords were protected a little better.  Forms that I have filled out in the past (with my attempts to hide the password removed and my password exposed) were stapled to the roster that students sign.

Additionally, I appreciate that you clarified that the learning center’s assessment services are “not for convenience.”  While I assumed it was never for mine, I thought that it existed for the students’ convenience.  While many of them work full-time, care for dependents, and are terrified of the subject matter that I teach (as the subject of algebra is often the barrier between them and achieving their life goals), we have found a system where their work ethnic is rewarding them academically.  While I am trying to promote mastery for their success instead of barely passing (or not at all), this is sadly not within the little box of traditional assessment. I was under the impression that the learning center was in the business of fostering that (even if it might be slightly non-traditional).  I should have known. Alas, it is not the educational practices of archaic classrooms full of university students of 50 years ago.

As an adjunct, I’m frustrated.  Maybe as a full-time instructor, I could take care of this in an office…where I have my blessed control and I don’t have to create an inconvenience for the sake of my students’ success.  This is, of course, assuming that it would be highly inappropriate to invite students to my house to allow me to proctor between loads of laundry, scrubbing toilets, and wiping noses.  I thought that using a place whose goal is to proctor tests would be a great compromise and appropriate use since I am only allowed to be a “professional” from 6pm-10pm.  Forgive my misconception.  

Thank you for your help.  Please expect forms and rosters very soon.  Have a nice day.

This summer, my brand new eight-year-old and I have been reading the Harry Potter series.  I have a small confession: I’ve been entranced with the series despite the fact that I am not the target audience.  I have enjoyed using my kid as an excuse to escape.  Mind you, I usually loathe reading fiction, but this is an exception.

So, I was delighted when our son asked to go to Universal Studios for his birthday excursion because it houses The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Outside of the primary attraction, a kiosk was set up like a magic wand shop.  As we three were holding the different wands and attaching each one’s qualities to the supposed characters who wielded them, a Muggle lady (this is to say, a non-magical lady) beheld a wand and asked the clerk, “So, what does it do?”

I buried my face in my husband’s chest to keep from laughing out loud.  “Nothing.” The clerk graciously answered.  “You mean they don’t do NUTHIN’?”  Now all sorts of smart alecky things were running through my head.  For example, “These are ‘Muggle’ wands.  They aren’t magical.”  Or, “Wingardium Leviosa!  Lumos!  Aw, this one’s broken.” And prominently, “Here’s your sign, Muggle.”  But I didn’t.  I did have to walk somewhere else very quickly.

As we were leaving, my son lamented that he had already spent too much money to buy a wand.  I comforted him by reciting the merits of frugality and reminding him, “Besides, your sisters would probably break it…if you didn’t poke an eye out first.”  Then, a panic came over me as I turned to my husband and announced, “Oh, no!  I’ve just become most of the adult characters on A Christmas Story!”

My husband and my mother each asked me what my New Year’s resolutions are this year.  I hadn’t determined any.  I guess that I just feel that resolutions don’t need to be made on January 1st: they should be made and kept as the need/awareness arises.   I told both, “status quo.”

Maybe I need to elaborate.

Academic goal: audit classes that I passed as an undergrad.  I started that last semester.  The only problem was that the only time slot that I had available, there were two different things vying for my time already.  I was skipping something in order to attend the first hour and I was skipping something else in order to attend the second hour.  This semester, I had decided that I would require myself to attend one hour of lecture a week.  After all, if I don’t have time to do what I want to do because it gets in the way of what I ought to do, I will intend to accomplish it still but in a lesser capacity.  Only one problem remains: there are no classes that I wanted to audit that would fit into my schedule at either college.  I might have to find an online course, set a timer, and do homework problems until the time runs out.  The plan needs a little reworking.

Career goal: consider the possibility of getting a babysitter for Beth when Sarah goes to preschool in the fall so that I may explore the possibility of working full time.  This one is a soft goal. It is not a soft goal because of the working—I’d rather enjoy that, but because I’m not okay with telling my youngest child, “You’re not as worthy as your siblings to have the privilege of my attention at home.”  That may be a little dramatic, but that’s the way that I see that she might perceive it.  Then again, it’s a case by case decision.  I don’t know what kind of alternate care I might be able to find for her.  My son was enriched by his alternate care while I worked.  My husband and my mother have been asking me about that too—when I’m going to go to work full-time.  Sigh.  I have to fight my very nature to become a stay-at-home mom (that is, until I go to work at one of my two jobs, so I’m not really a true stay-at-home mom), then I get flack for that too.  Which is the choice that aids my family the most?  I’ve been straddling the fence of stay-at-home vs. working mom for seven years.  So, I thought the change would be in 2013, but maybe it’s a 2012 change.

Personal goal: read the Harry Potter series.  I’m working every night while my husband reads to my son.  So, they’ve conquered several books together while my son and I are about to finish our first.  My son is at school all day while I’m home and at home while I’m at work.  I always said that I’d read it with my son when he got to this age, but it looks like I don’t get that privilege.  Maybe I’ll read it independently so that I’ll have something to discuss with my son.  Furthermore, I made the decision that I wanted to read it with him (when he was four years old) after reading about all of the biblical parallels in the series.  So, reading the Harry Potter series would be in the vein of the Chronicles of Narnia series.

Personal goal: follow a predetermined Bible reading plan.  I’ve been picking my own passages.  Really, it’s a lazy choice to use a predetermined plan, but I think it might feel like it’s more of an accomplishment to finish someone else’s plan.

Personal goal: either memorize new scripture in NASB or re-memorize old scripture in A-KJV.  I memorized a sizeable chunk (chunks over four years) of scripture in high school.  We used the authorized King James Version because the most conservative opponents couldn’t argue with that choice.  Now I read NASB.  I have a hard time reading from NASB anything that I memorized in KJV.  I need to be able to quote again.  I don’t know if I want to learn new or remember old, but I have a listening buddy if I need to quote.  (Shout out to Leah!)

Fitness goal: now that I’m back to high school weight, get back to college weight.  Hmm.  This one.  This one I can’t really call a goal.  I haven’t really changed anything in more than a decade.  Eat right and exercise?  Did that when I was fat and when I was thin and everywhere in between.  I lost 20lbs after I started dating my husband. Gained 35 after the first kid.  Gained another 10 when the second kid had long, emotional hospital stay.  Then, came the third kid.  I’ve lost 25 since the third kid was born.  What’s the secret?  Apparently not diet and exercise.  I know that those things do have a bearing, but I did them even while I was getting fatter—so the presence of those elements won’t keep me thin or the absence of them won’t make me fat.  The only thing that changed (despite my husband’s mother’s “interesting” guesses) was that I took my herbs and took a nap.  Yep, the only factor that shows any direct relationship is stress/hormones.  In order to lose the first 25, I didn’t make any special “life changes.”  I’ve been consistently doing that since I was an adolescent.  So, this isn’t really a goal…because I feel that it’s so far out of my locus of control (and any “success” cannot be attributed to me), but a hope for a year that is relaxed, comfortable, and prosperous.  Fat chance.

Health goal: make the majority of our dairy products and bread products at home.  I’ve been doing that since before January 1st too.  I made butter last week and yogurt the week before.  I’ve been intending to eliminate wheat products and make what we really will be using.  My area of fault is sandwich bread for my son’s lunches.  Buying it is so much more practical.  I also want to find a raw milk source because making butter is not a useful skill with store-bought cream; it’s just for bragging rights.  With the yogurt, I’m eliminating the garbage thickening agents, but raw would be better.  The goal might be better stated: make sandwich-worthy bread and find a raw milk source.

Health goal: make more plant based dinners for the family creatively.  See above.  Pasta or rice or bread are easy bases for dinners.  Make them out of plants.  Again, this is not a new goal, but a recurring one.

Personal goal: learn to knit.  I crochet.  It’s a creative cousin.

Financial goal: get rid of debt.  I’ve been adamant about not getting the debt since before I was a teenager.  So, this is not a new goal…for me.  But my other (better/nicer) half has finally gotten on the same page with me.  So, I’m finally starting to see some progress!  I’m still listing it as a “goal” because (though it will take me about four years), I’ll still be putting in the efforts that are not new to me.

Creative goal: sew more.  It makes me calm, but it takes so much time.  Maybe if I did it more often, it would take less time and still make me calm.

Financial goal: either coupon again or make more products at home.  I’ve been somewhat of a couponing hypocrite.  I won’t have the patience to accomplish both goals.  I’ll decide later where I want to put my efforts.

Personal goal: take more naps.  While I advocate being super-productive, that super-productivity has its pitfalls.  Building my stress isn’t a worthwhile goal.  So, I’ll take a nap.

Creative goal: when I need inspiration to continue to contribute to the efficiency goals or health goals or creative goals or fitness goals, go to Pinterest, just keep creating.  Feeding off other people’s inspiration is rejuvenating.

Personal goal: make friends at church.  Oh, wait…never mind.  I did that!  They just aren’t the group where I find people with similar interests and similar walks of life.  They’re much cooler than me.  I’m okay with being the oddball of the group.  Again, feeding off other people’s inspiration is rejuvenating.  I think this still counts, right?

In conclusion, these are not really things that I decided to do because of the New Year.  I feel as though if one waits until a specific date to make a change, that waiting kills the spirit of the change.  If something needs to change, change it immediately.  Fix it!  ”Status quo” in this case is a constant state of fixing and changing…regardless of the calendar date.

When I was a kid, Star Trek: The Next Generation was the Saturday night favorite.  Having not blossomed into a nerd (and having an attention span of a child), I was only mildly interested in what would become my SciFi favorite.  I watched them again after school when I was a teenager and again through the morning sickness with my third child.

Modern entertainment is showing evidence of a post ST:TNG world.  OH, the gadgets!  Getting to see technology gear itself in the direction of the SciFi writers of my childhood is delightful.

There are obvious things like the ideas of virtual reality and Xbox Kinnect are a holodeck in its infancy.  Also, Dr Crusher appears to be using the equivalent of an iPad in sick bay or a version of a nook/fire when she’s directing a play.

But, Oh, My Flippin’ Goodness, I nearly had a conniption when I saw that CVS now sells Neela’s PianoNeela's Piano at CVS from the episode Lessons!


The short version: where can I find washing soda?

The long version: More than three years ago, my friend, Hannah taught me how to coupon.  Initially, it was a solution to a very large problem.  Then, it became a game.  For a while, it became a little bit of an obsession.

In August of 2009, I bought a boatload of dishwasher detergent (I use the term loosely, because I came out $4.11 in my favor to take it).  Then in February of 2010, I got twenty+ bottles of laundry detergent for next to nothing.  I bought dishwasher detergent in September (2011) and laundry detergent in October.  I’ve decided I don’t like this “paying” for things that I’ve enjoyed for free for so long.  Now, I did use coupons, but I didn’t get them for nearly free.

The stockpile of free items has another benefit that I miss—the convenience of not having to go to the store to finish household chores.  “We’re out? No we’re not.  Go get some more out of the storage drawer under the dryer.”

Being a little dramatic, I claim that each time I come back from the store, I am done.  I am done; everything that my family will use for the next week has been purchased.  I have completed the whole shopping event and I AM DONE.  I have accomplished my goals.  ALL HAIL MOM who has returned from the trenches of retail.  Now, I can spend my week focusing on cleaning, working, and paying attention to the toddlers so that they don’t rip the house apart.  I might even sit down with a cup of coffee.

That’s my fantasy, by the way.  I always envision sitting down with a mug and a computer and writing or practicing calculus or trig problems—the way that other people do crossword puzzles.  But my toddlers wake up and stop the fantasy—as they have done twice during the course of writing this paragraph.

But within minutes of coming home, my husband will sweetly say, “You know what I should have asked you to get at the store?…” or I’ll see the one thing that I overlooked on my list.  And a little piece of my morale dies because the end of my to-do list is that much farther out of reach.  I have only found the very end of the to-do list a couple of times in the last decade, but I always really, really believe I will reach it.  When it becomes farther out of my reach, I can hear the really whacked out version of me inside my head weeping.

So, having to GO to the store and BUY things that I have grown accustomed to having at home in my free stuff stockpile makes me feel like I’m hemorrhaging both time and money.

Having now purchased 3 bottles of laundry detergent and 4 packs of dishwasher detergent (yes, we have a LOT of dishes and laundry in this house), I’m debating making these things at home.  I’ve heard of people doing this.  It makes sense.  Making laundry detergent wouldn’t really extend too far out of my realm. I’ve used baking soda for cleaning for 15 years.  I’ve made use of borax in the last year or so.  I apparently need washing soda—which is different from baking soda.  I can’t find it at Target and the space for it at Wal-mart (which also makes me weep a little inside) is empty.  So, before I put any more effort into it, dear internet, where have you successfully found washing soda?

I have a list of things that I am out of and plan on learning to make at home (this week, my homemade goal is yogurt—which is a lofty goal during finals week). While there are many things that I would be willing to make at home (detergents, yogurt, bread, curtains, purses, any cleaners where the homemade version would introduce fewer toxins into my home), there are many things that I cannot imagine making at home–like mascara.  I was out of mascara this week and I bought more with coupons because I don’t have access to bats and can’t fathom making it at home.

Since I’m still going to coupon for things like mascara, shampoo, foaming soap (my homemade version didn’t work out very well), I question the decision to try to make things at home.  So, dear internet, what things have you successfully made at home where the conventional American home would have just gone to the store?

Math is pretty.  I’m not arguing the point.  I’m stating.

I’m a math teacher.  Why?  Math is so stinking pretty and I love academia.  Therefore, teaching is a way to indulge the puzzle-icious fun that is mathematics.  Also, I straddle the chasm between silly and articulate.  That helps.

One might consider a career change—but what?  Truly, honestly…with the math teacher hat off, what occupation would enable a nerd to do fun math?  The obvious answer is any career that has to do with physics, engineering, navigation, and research (those are math teachers’ go-to careers when explaining why students need math), but when I talk about math to people in those careers, they all recite, “Oh, I just let the computers do that.”  Then they submit, “I haven’t used any math in years.”  (Among the bubble-bursters are engineers, a master electrician, architects, and pilots.)

I want to walk into a job and find a new problem every day that requires a blend of trig, calculus, geometry, and algebra (especially trig…because it’s the prettiest…or maybe calc is.  I can’t decide.).  I don’t mean arithmetic operations in spreadsheets.  That’s not pretty math; it’s the labor of a drone.

I ask, what career is it that uses the upper high school and undergraduate math that we so desperately insist that students learn?

Let me be clear.  I’m certainly not criticizing the education of mathematics.  The understanding thereof alters the way that people process information.  The mental training spills over into other areas.  Yes, we should continue to educate in mathematics because the education breeds a generation who can conceptualize solutions on several scales.  I am not acquiescing and saying, “People don’t really use it so let’s forget it.”  I’m saying, “Where is that job?  I want it.”

Now, outside of number crunching in a spreadsheet, education, or researching for a university (that’s mostly the boring number crunching and education combined), where is the job that uses a person instead of computer to conceptualize and find solutions using a vast array of undergraduate disciplines?

I hear such an occupation exists, but the scientists keep telling me that it’s just a mirage.  That’s a dagger in the heart of a nerd.

This is part of a letter I emailed to my students (the parts with class stats removed) as they prepared for a second test.  The first test did not have scores that I found to be pleasing nor adequate work done in homework/practice test.  I fear that history is repeating itself.

The homework should be nearly complete in ALL of the sections.  The homework should be nearly complete so that you may use your study time taking/reviewing/discussing/retaking the practice test.  Trust me.  I know how to make test scores improve, but I can’t do anything until you bear the burden of responsibility on your shoulders.  I know that this course is very time consuming, and you have my sympathies, but my sympathies cannot cause you to learn mathematics.  I am obligated not to GIVE you grades, but to guide you to EARN them yourselves.  So, I ask of you—I beg of you, please exhibit the collegiate work ethic that would warrant my leniency.

You have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to prepare.  Honestly, students who have not completed the homework ought to spend at least two to three hours on each of these days (in ADDITION to class on Tuesday) to prepare.  Students who have completed the homework need to study at least an hour on each of these four days or until scoring an A twice on the practice test.

I intended to remove your test anxiety by posting the practice test (even early per your request).  Please return the favor and remove my anxiety by taking it.

Cheering for your success,
Your math teacher

To my surprise, a few of them heeded my warnings.  Fingers crossed.  I feel like I have led the horse to water, but the horse doesn’t want to drink.  The horse wants to pay $300 to be led to the water and not be thirsty anymore, but doesn’t want to drink in order to quench the thirst.

I was just reading I Corinthians 7.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. (ESV)

Now, far be it from me to amend the inspired work of the Apostle Paul, but one statement struck me as insufficient.  “But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.”  This may be a testament to the wonderful husband I have, but I thought that the husband was relatively easy to please.  It’s the KIDS who are draining!

I think it should read, “But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, like coordinating schedules with the another person (and his family on major holidays).  Then, there’s an increased likelihood of rugrats.   Just keeping them clothed and fed will make you wish for the days of concerning yourself with pleasing the Lord and your husband exclusively.”

Oh, well.  At least they’re cute.



Next Page »