Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Grades are finished. I submitted them on Saturday, which was good but also bad because they were actually due on Friday at noon. I think my college changed the grading timeline a couple of semesters ago, and I have yet to internalilze the new grading calendar.

Now, I need to spend the next couple of weeks working on the dissertation, reading several novels that are not available in modern editions. Fortunately, I've downloaded the PDFs from ECCO and can read them on the iPad. I just wish the iPad had notetaking apparatus for PDFs.

I'm also waiting for feedback from my supervisor about a draft of an article that I want to submit for publication. It will be my first go 'round with the process, and I'm eager to give it a whirl to see what will happen. I've formed an academic writing "group" with a friend who is a faculty member at the four-year university near me. she has bee so helpful since she's such a smart and kind reader. She's also been an editor for a journal, so she has added insight. I suppose I have less to offer her, but I am a decent editor, especially when it comes to organization and development, so there is that.

It won't be easy to ge thngs done this week, though, since my father is making his annual visit and I'm planning a b-day party for the Girl. But I have ordered the cake and purchased the piñata, so I'm well on my way. And guess what the piñata is? UNICORN! And guess what's on the cake? UNICORNS!

But now I need to buckle down for a couple of hours so that I can go see "Bridesmaids" tonight.

Oh yeah.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I Must

Must grade finals.
Must grade finals.
Must grade finals.

Must not mix a G & T and read fun novel on patio.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Update on the Boy and His Schoolin'

Some of you might remember the post I wrote back in August when I was surprised to discover that the Boy, a second grader, had been placed in a split first/second grade class with mostly first graders. I was sad and nervous because all of his friends would be on the other side of the school, and I was afraid he would become disconnected from them. Also, I was worried that it was a comment on his low reading level.

Well, the school year is creeping (lurching?) towards its end, and I thought I would give you an update.

In short, it's been fine--great, in fact. I really like his teacher. She is so encouraging, and she is his biggest fan. She "gets" him in a way that his teacher last year never did. She understands his strengths and she helps him work on his weaknesses. She is particularly good with reading and writing. His first grade teacher last year gave students a lot of worksheets for which they would cut out letters, paste them back on, and write words and maybe sentences. This year's teacher, in contrast, has the students (second graders and first graders) read actual books--daily--and discuss them and write in journals. They talk about detail, voice, narrative structure, and grammar. I am blown away by how well her first graders are writing and reading, especially compared to the work I saw from the first graders last year with the other teacher.

As a second grader in this teacher's class, my Boy went from reading way below grade level to reading almost at grade level. Several things contributed to his progress. At the beginning of the year, the teacher made sure to give him easy books to build his confidence. Then, she gradually moved him along. Also, he has participated in a program called Natural Reader that has helped his fluency. Most of the second graders in his class worked regularly with another teacher who would visit the class a few times a week.

In addition, we had him assessed by Lindamood-Bell. Some of you may be familiar with their program. I've had many friends who worked for the company, and I've always heard good things about the work they do with students. During February, they had a discount on their diagnostic evaluation, so we took the Boy. He scored in the 99.9th percentile on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test. However, on the Symbolic Imagery Test, he scored in the 7th percentile. This means that he had great trouble visualizing letters and words in his head. We were not surprised by this low score. The Boy has a terrible time with spelling. Terrible. And he can can see a word, learn it, and then not recognize it two lines later. So he wasn't learning sight words, which meant his reading fluency was very low. In short, he's probably dyslexic (he has many of the symptoms, including the fact that he holds his pencil in a fist grip), but they don't really use that label because it's not very specific.

He spent four weeks doing work at Lindamood-Bell. He had instruction four hours a day with one other Boy. It's definitely a pricey program, but it costs less for "group" instruction (which for him, consisted of just him and the on other boy). Despite the fact that he sometimes he was sad about having to work so hard each day, he really thrived there. The teachers were fantastic, he really liked the other Boy in his "group" (who was a fourth grader), and he made great progress. His symbolic imagery is much better, so now he can "see" words in his head. As a result, his fluency has gotten much better. Mostly importantly, he seems happier.

Spelling will always be a challenge for the Boy*, and we'll have to keep practicing his imaging skills. But, all in all, it's been a great year for his learning. I look forward to lots of reading practice over the summer, and I think that now, sometimes, he even likes to read a little bit--if it's the right content at the right level. He's definitely proud of the work he's done.

And his regular school teacher was very supportive, and after he finished the program, she had him give some spelling lessons to the class. That made me very happy.

On the social front, he has maintained all of his good friendships from last year, and he has made another good friend from the grade below him. They are still all girls, but they are the best kind: the kind that love bugs, nature, camping, and my Boy.

*My husband has the same symbolic imagery problems. And he does not spell well. I remember one of the first little love e-mails that he sent me, saying I was his "sweat hart." From him (who has a BS in aerospace engineering), I learned that spelling skills are not, in fact, always correlated with intelligence. He tells me that, even now, he cannot picture the word derivative in his head or be sure how to spell it, even though he's probably written it thousands of times in his life. For those of us who are good spellers, isn't that wild? The brain is a very interesting place. And a bit quirky, I'd say.

Monday, May 23, 2011

In da HIZZouse!

So, throughout the spring, I was keeping a secret from you. The Hubster was applying for a job. But I didn't want to say anything about it because the job was at my own institution, and, in general, I tried to avoid talking about it because I didn't want there to be any suspicion of impropriety or bias. I didn't want anyone to think that I had "inside info" that I was passing on. So I tried to keep my mouth shut, and I avoiding talking to faculty in the department to which he was applying.

In short? HE GOT THE JOB!!!

It's a tenure-track position at my community college, and we are thrilled. I am so proud of him and impressed by his success. As the academics of you know, it's a very competitive field out there these days. In my department, our recent position (for a t-t position) had over 170 applicants and at least 90 of them had PhD's. It's a different world from when I got my job 11 years ago. If I were that same candidate today (only two years out of an M.A. program), I wouldn't have even gotten an interview this time around.

So the fact that Hubby got the job is just thrilling. Granted, his department's position had only about half the applicants that we had, but I was told (after all was said at done) that his competitors were true heavyweights. But I'm not totally surprised that he got the job. He's a smart, likable* person who happens to be a great teacher.

So, now, hubby is no longer an adjunct working at a different university on a different calendar. He has a full-time position and the same schedule as I do. And now, finally, everyone in the family will have the same spring break! WOOT!

And not only are we at the same college, but also our offices are on the same hallway only four doors apart.

It's all so exciting, and I don't know how we got so lucky. Sometimes, I get nervous, feeling as if I am the very button of Fortune's cap, worrying that I could fall to the soles of her shoes.

Still, GEW and GEM are IN DA HIZZOUSE!

*Why do I want to spell "likable" as "likeable"?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Today's Schedule

9:00--Waste time looking at vacation rentals in Colorado that we can't afford.
9:30--Volunteer in kindergarten class, collating art work for Open House.
10:30--Futz around on Internet.
11:00--Work on article/dissertation.
3:30--Run errands to library and bakery.
4:30--Go to community college graduation (in truth, I have no idea what time I'm supposed to be there).
7:30--Enjoy movie night with the family (featuring pizza and either "Cats and Dogs" or "Beethoven").
10:00 Watch an episode of "Bones" with hubby.

I have LOTS of final exams to grade, but I've set them aside to focus on the article so I can meet with my writing partner next week and get her feedback. I hate having the exams and the grading process lurking around behind me like Geico dollars, but it must be done.

I like days like today.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Just Stopping By to Say . . .

Cheaters, Cheaters, Pumpkin Eaters!

There is some egregious and rampant cheating going on in these here parts. I think we're hitting a tipping point, y'all.

(P.S. Proper posts to come soon! I have much to tell you about the Boy [learning updates] and the hubby [job update!]). But for now, I'm just grading finals, mothering, and trying to get an article draft completed. It's been a busy semester, has it not? And flying by . . . )