Posts Tagged ‘school’

… Sort of.

Classes at my university started last week.  We had friends from school over for dinner on Thursday and they asked how I was feeling at the beginning of the semester.  They recalled the anxiety I had about staying home and the grief I anticipated.  I shared that I was fine and that I couldn’t imagine having started class last week, that I had totally made the right call.  It is true.  I have been totally in baby mode for the past oh… she’s five weeks old now and I was for two weeks before she came… seven weeks… and I am nearly ready to transition to some sort of balance, but at the beginning of last week- in the midst of her fourth week- nope… we still had a nursery to make functional and other homemaking to attend to and well… the last place I wanted to be was class.  

That said, I am registered for research hours this semester and I have some pretty big goals for myself.  They are:

1) Arrive at proficiency in German reading so that I can pass an exam later in the Spring.  I have a total of four weeks, yes WEEKS, of German study in my background so this is no small goal.  

2) Complete a guided reading of a manuscript being written by one of my professors and of one primary source (Tertullian) behind this manuscript. Originally this was a summer plan, but two other students got interested so it was bumped to spring.  We’ll start meeting together once a week in February.  I love this prof and enjoy the two students so… it should be a good thing.  

3) Begin to chip away at the massive bibliography I am supposed to read through before my qualifying exams in my third year.  This thing is 10 single spaced pages, friends.  Normally one spends one’s third year in this program preparing for and taking exams, but as I will still need to take courses then, I’m going to have to spread out my preparing.  And now is the time to begin.  

Phew.  That is a lot.  On Saturday morning I woke up realizing that the only way I was going to accomplish any of this was if I managed to do two things. 1) Maintain some order in the house.  2) Carve out some sort of daily schedule and routine for myself.  

So Saturday, in between feedings, soothings, burpings, etc. (lovingly shared by K), I did two things. (Guess I’m in an enumerating mood in the midst of this particular middle of the night feeding!)

1) I responded to my charge from the church service I attended on Sunday the 4th.  The pastor urged everyone to commit to making two concrete changes in their lives in 2009 and to e-mail both of those intended changes to the pastor by January 15th so that the church could be in prayer for the fulfillment of those intentions and the church community could otherwise support and hold accountable.  My two intentions for the year (growing out of my wider intention to take care of body and mind every day) were to lose 40 pounds by my daughter’s first birthday by rejoining W.W. (of which I became a lifetime member while in seminary, about eight years ago, but for various reasons from which I have fallen far) now that I’m finally near a (make that several) meeting options and will soon be to the safe six weeks post-partum place for weight loss.  And the second intention was to achieve and maintain order in my home by undertaking basic tasks on a daily basis (i.e. getting dishes and clothes put away, making the bed) and by cleaning in one room a day for half an hour six days a week.  In addition I planned to do laundry every other day, skipping Sundays. (it is AMAZING to me how much laundry we’re generating now!  We probably could do it every day, but I think this might make me a bit batty!)  I admitted to the pastor in my e-mail that I was pretty confident I could pull off number one, but less certain about number two as all my best cleaning/organizing plans usually are short lived.  I asked for lots of prayer on that one and I ask the same from you, if you are so inclined.

2) I mapped out a daily schedule for myself, basically the same Monday – Friday, but with significant alterations on weekends Note that I said for myself.  Despite the passionate beliefs of my paternal grandmother, my daughter’s namesake, that babies need rigid schedules… I don’t agree, not yet anyway.  I like the way my mom put it… routines, not schedules.  It is a bit tricky to try to schedule one’s own life when one is caring for an unscheduled being, but I thought I’d try, with the intention of being as flexible as possible, attending to baby care as needed.  I shared the schedule with K and asked for his help in honoring it.  He was open to this (bless him, it was “J” overload and this “P” took it in stride!)

Yesterday was day one of working the schedule and beginning to implement intention 2 for the year. And… not so bad.  Some of the things took more time than I budgeted, but… yesterday included everything I hoped it would, less focused studying time than I hope to eventually get to, but some such time and I think this is a good start.  And boy did I do laundry!!!!

I have to say that I was greatly assisted yesterday in honoring my intentions by my beloved K.  How was he able to assist me?  Well… sadly (and not so sadly- it is a mixed thing), Kev lost his job last week.  This is scary financially, but the job was not a good fit for him and was wearing down his soul so it is a bit of liberation and the timing was a bit of a blessing because my mom left last Friday and I have NO IDEA how, at this stage of babydom, I was supposed to get anything much done (particularly in the studying department) if I were on my own with Caroline for the better part of every day.  I had planned to start a couple hours of babysitting everyday (some great teenagers from church are ready to go, we had them over for a bit of orientation a week ago) next week, but not this week. Kev and I make a great team!  We took turns with C throughout the day yesterday and worked together in the times when she was most upset.  And with this collaboration both of us managed to get quite a bit accomplished, and sit down for three meals together.  Oh, if only we could afford to maintain this!  But for now… let’s call it Kev’s delayed paternity leave.  He’ll seek employment (please pray for him, this is a scary time to be unemployed) and I’ll self-study and we’ll care for baby and home together.  And maybe  we’ll have a babysitter once a week until employment is found to give us both a break.

This feels good right now.  One day at a time, right?  Balancing discipline and flexibility, right?  I CAN do this!  I WILL do this!

And I give thanks to God for the gift of this time with Kev.


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… and not even a paragraph written.  

But a REALLY thorough outline is ready so I can draft this tomorrow, right?!  There is only one section of the outline that is poorly organized so that part of the paper will probably be slower going, but I have a feeling I can’t flesh it out till I get there in the argument, so… tomorrow I’ll dig in.  And I WILL have a draft at day’s end.  I CAN do this. I WILL do this.

I’m seriously considering skipping my three classes next week and taking it as a reading week to allow solid days of writing all week.  We’ll see.  I’m tempted to head to the family cabin or see if another getaway option is available, but then again… as I could potentially go into labor I think I’ll stay here.  I just might really stay here and not bother with classes.  I haven’t missed a single class this semester.  We’ll see.  I’m not a skipper. I’ve been wrestling with my hyper-responsibility trait the past few days as I’ve felt resentment for some of my classmates’ lesser vigilance… that is ALL about me and I need to get. over. it.  They make choices.  I make choices.  It’s all about choices. (Anyone hear the recent “This American Life” story where that was the refrain?!) And I can choose to give myself a break.  I can.  And maybe I will. 

I WILL DRAFT THIS PAPER TOMORROW. but tonight we veg with friends, k?

(did get a nap in a classmate’s apartment this afternoon, btw.  Thanks be to God.)

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plans, schmans

It is 3 a.m.. 

So much for that no late nights, take naps when needed, etc.  I needed a nap yesterday afternoon, right about when I was waiting for the doctor to come into my appt.  Or when I got home with an hour to spare before having to turn around and head out again.  But… I needed to work.  So I did.  And then I drank caffeine on my way to my evening commitment so as not to fall asleep at said commitment.  And now… a late night.

Maybe I slept some in the last four hours or so, but once I realized that I was lying in bed strategizing about how to survive my Friday (which was to include a four hour block of paper work between class and colloquy), and once I realized I had been far more awake than not, I decided to get up and do some paper work so that, should I be incapacitated in the middle of the day, who cares?  

I haven’t technically started writing my paper yet.  I spent what time I had yesterday (not as much as I hoped) working on taking the myriad notes I had taken and organizing them into a detailed outline thinking this would make the paper writing much smoother.  I do not usually write like this… but I just didn’t want to forget anything… and it seemed a wise strategy.  In the middle of working this plan, I started to doubt it. Yesterday was a low trust day- if you read my baby blog you know that trust leaked in the midwife department (but was regained by day’s end).  But it wasn’t a despair day.  Just a “Can I trust this plan I’m working?  Can I trust the people around me?” And of course, below these questions, the real one, “Can I trust God?”  

Trust doesn’t come easily to me.  I have actually demonstrated pretty amazing trust since moving here, most of the time, so yesterday was familiar, but not dreadful.  

Here’s the funny thing.  At my doctor’s appointment my blood pressure was the lowest it has been in weeks.  100/70.  Healthy, like ideally healthy. for weeks now it has been on the high end of healthy- more like 120-125/80.  When the nurse told me, I didn’t get it.  

Maybe my mind isn’t ruling the day afterall.  

I wasn’t lying in bed with racing thoughts though.  THAT’S a nice change.

So, plans, schmans. 

Might as well put in at least a few hours of work now because I may well be finding a couch to curl up on mid-day.

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mid-week update

Well… it is Wednesday, November 12th.  I want to be done with my finals by Saturday, November 22nd.  That leaves me 10 days, or really 9 as I intend for Sunday to be sabbath (and really it needs to be- two church services, company in town, and our shower!)  So how’s it going????  Actually I think it is going pretty well.  

I budgeted yesterday and today to figure out where I was headed with the paper for my Friday class.  As of Monday I had NO clue about that paper.  I figured, since with the other two classes day one of trying to get my head around a paper was sheer frustration, that I wouldn’t expect much out of day one on this paper.  If I ended the day yesterday still in a fog- so be it.  That’s what today would be for.  But… I ended yesterday with a solid idea for my Friday paper and a much clearer sense of what was being asked of me.  I started today by sending my idea thus far to my prof to make sure I’m not nutso, but that I can make this work.  If he gives me the stamp of approval on what I’ve done thus far (or only suggests minor changes in course), I’m going to set this one aside and work diligently on actually writing my Bonhoeffer paper.  

While I wait for my prof to write back about my Friday paper status I’m going to do some of the additional reading/research/translating I need to do for my Bonhoeffer paper and perhaps read another article that has been recommended for my Thursday paper.  I will also likely read a bit for my Thursday and Friday classes this week (if time allows) and do my required on-line post for my Thursday class.  Hopefully after class tomorrow morning I can start drafting my Bonhoeffer paper.  I have a doctor’s appt at 2 and a colloquy meeting at 6, but that should allow a few bursts of writing, to get me started at least.  And then, after class on Friday I can put in another several hours of writing (I have another colloquy to attend from 3-5) but if I write from the time class gets out (11) until 3, that’s a solid chunk of time.  I might even take a Eucharist break in there.  And I can give it even more time on Saturday (because my guests are aware I have to work while they are here.   With that plan, I think it is safe to say I can have my Bonhoeffer paper drafted by Saturday afternoon.  

Then Sabbath rest.

Monday-Wednesday (save class time on Monday), I’ll work on writing my Thursday paper.  If I can change gears to my Friday paper on Wednesday afternoon that will be for the good.  

Thursday-Saturday I will draft my Friday paper.  

I’ve been invited to an open-house party on Saturday afternoon the 22nd.  So, that’s my target finish time.  

If I am TRULY blessed I will have time for editing and revising all these papers as I go, but… we’ll see… I really want to be done done on the 22nd.  Though I suppose if I am doing final clean-ups the morning of the 24th that wouldn’t be the end of the world.  No, not the end of the world, but… blech.  I want to be done done.  

I intend to get up every hour or so to walk about stretch, what have you.  

I intend to take naps when I need them.  

I intend to continue to sing in church choir(s).  

And I intend to not work late into the night.  

So, it is 9 a.m. now, I have nine days to go, three papers to write.  It will get done, right?

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I set a goal at the beginning of the semester that I would finish my coursework by Thanksgiving (or really the weekend before Thanksgiving) in order to give myself a two week cushion before my due date.  That now leaves me, two weeks.  I have three big papers to write in two weeks.  I have a good sense with where I’m going for one of them, the biggest of them, and got approval of it yesterday.  The time I spent focusing on that last week really paid off.  I still have more research to do, but I’m in pretty good shape for that one.  So I’m putting that on hold.  Yesterday I had a frustrating afternoon of trying to get in the groove for one of the other two remaining papers.  I just made little progress, moved very slowly, struggled to focus.  But then I remembered that day one of digging in on my Bonhoeffer paper was the same… so decided to give myself a break and devote myself to a full day of the same task today… and I’m hoping by the end of the day I will have made real progress.  

I woke up resolved to read minimally for classes this week and not at all for classes next week.  This week I will spend my Saturday getting my head around my Thursday paper.  And then on Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll spend my time getting my head around my Friday paper.  And I’ll read a little bit on Monday morning for Bonhoeffer, and a little bit on Wednesday for my Thursday and Friday classes this week.  But starting Thursday afternoon the writing needs to begin and needs to continue for the next week straight.  

Unfortunately I have also been called upon, as of yesterday, to do some substantial editing of two chapters for a book one of my profs is working on.  I’m going to have to find at least an hour of every study day to work on this, I think.  But I’m not going to start that until Monday.  

I can do this, right?  Please say it is possible.  And please say a prayer that my focus and energy cooperate… I am increasingly uncomfortable (physically) and really just want to get ready for baby… but this is a big part of readying for baby… I need to keep telling myself that.  If these papers are hanging over me when baby comes that will be a big drag.  

Writing this all out in the hopes it will hold me accountable… alright… let’s get some breakfast and begin this two week race… so grateful for your prayers and support.

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Arrived at preferred coffehouse around 11 a.m.

It is now approaching four and I need to run some errands and return some phone calls, and I REALLY want to attend to the house (and be there should trick or treaters come by)… 

And what have I accomplished?  Read one short introduction (in French- required to have three French sources for my Bonhoeffer final paper), translating quotes that seemed like they might be helpful.  And read one essay in English that is of questionable usefulness for my final Bonhoeffer paper.  That’s it.  And I haven’t been twiddling my thumbs exactly.  Sigh.  

Oh well… I did accomplish something right?

(Some of my colleagues were bemoaning long days of late spent looking at their work, but not really accomplishing anything of substance.  I so relate.)

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6 the number of days until I have class again (thanks to the American Academy of Religion)

23 the number of days until my sister arrives to help us prepare for birth, birth, and adjust to parenthood

25 the number of days until wonderful guests arrive for Thanksgiving and to help us ready our home in whatever ways it needs to be readied AND until I had HOPED to finish all my papers for this semester

34 the number of days until this baby is due (gulp!)

1 the number of occasional assignments left for the semester- work for which has begun.

too many the number of pages I ought to read before the end of the semester

3 the number of BIG papers to be written in, what was that again (25 days?!)

so much the number of things I want to get done before the baby comes



So, friends, with six days before my next class (in which I will present for my final occasional assignment of the semester) I woke up to a chaotic house begging to be ordered, but to a stack of books gathered over a month ago to help me with my final Bonhoeffer paper, one of which is in French, and due next week, and needs to be translated… And I’m torn between cleaning and studying.  If I’m going to stay here, I’ll need to clean.  So I guess I should get myself together and go somewhere else to study?  Eh?  

Why is it that when I actually have time to get something accomplished I feel far less capable of getting anything accomplished?  

Look at the numbers Sarah, you don’t have much time.

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