Survey of the scene

Here I am, 24 1/2 weeks along:

24 weeks, 2 days

and it's the beginning of the semester. As an administrator, I'm bombarding my departmental listservs with reminders and memos, and I'm planning meetings, workshops, and all kinds of stuff. I'm also toying with the idea of having all the meetings of the first-year writing committee (which I chair) be open to anyone in the department who wants to attend. Or we might just make one meeting open to try out as an experiment.

Instructors of first-year writing courses here are always wanting more events and meetings -- seriously -- so this semester we have planned out all the workshops in advance, with each one being offered twice. Here's what we've got, very basic, open topics:

Workshop One: Using Readers Effectively [this one is specific to our curriculum]
Monday, January 28 @ 3:30 or Tuesday, January 29 @ 3:30

Workshop Two: One-on-one and small group conferences
Monday, February 25 @ 3:30 or Tuesday, February, 26 @ 3:30

Workshop Three: The Research Essay
Thursday, March 13 @ 3:30 or Friday, March 14 @ 12:00 noon

Workshop Four: Effective Evaluation of Essays
Wednesday, April 9 @ 3:30 or Thursday, April 10 @ 3:30

Workshop Five: The Proficiency Exam [again, specific to our assessment]
Monday, May 5 or Tuesday, May 6 @ 3:30

I'm also thinking about organizing a group grade session, in which everyone with a stack of papers to grade gets together in a room and grades for an hour or two, without a lot of chatting and distraction. A friend of mine said that she used to organize these when she was an officer in her graduate student organization at the University of Alabama. Have any of you done these at your institution?

Also, again, I don't know if it's the administrative impulse or the maternal instinct, but my loves of frugality and life hacks have gone into high gear. When my mind races, as it does now and has always done, I start to think about the various things I could probably get away with never spending any money on again. These include:

  • nail polish -- actually I stopped using and buying it long ago after reading that the U.S. allows phthalates to be put into nail polish, chemicals that are banned in cosmetics in the European Union. It's probably been over three years since I spent any money on nail polish, and hopefully I won't have to buy any again.
  • perfume -- I don't even want to admit how much of this I have. I'm sure I could wear it every day and not run out until my son turns 18. At any rate, certainly I don't have to spend any money ever again on perfume as it isn't a necessity, but I truly think I have just about a lifetime supply this very moment.
  • makeup -- I almost never wear it, yet I have plenty, especially lip lard, as my beloved and unfortunately recently deceased cousin used to say. I have probably about five years' worth of makeup, and even if I didn't have any, I believe I'd get enough makeup in Christmas, birthday, etc. gifts to get me by, so that's another one for the list.
  • office supplies, specifically pens, pencils, and note pads -- (not including school supplies for kids) I'm well-stocked in these items, and I believe I will never run out of them. Think about it: textbook publishers give teachers this stuff all the time, and at most conferences, the hosts give you a notebook or note pad and pen or pencil. If you go to library orientations on your campus or other events like that, you may end up with office supply swag too.

I've also been grocery shopping (Fresh Market!) and cooking like a madwoman lately so that we don't go out to eat so much, and I've been going to the Great Harvest Bread Company* for bread for sandwiches and to have with soups. Today I made chocolate chunk blondies (from a Barefoot Contessa mix), tuna casserole, and a huge pot of chicken soup. Tomorrow I intend to make meatloaf, egg salad, and oven-roasted chicken in Jim Beam barbecue sauce. I thought of a little hack to remind us of all the meal possibilities we have in our kitchen, which is illustrated below (Post-Its on the freezer):

Food Reminder Hack

After posting that, I also thought of French toast under breakfast and celery sticks under lunch.

* Side note: I'll find out tomorrow when I go there next, but in St. Paul, MN, they had a Great Harvest Bread Co., and they had this terrific brown bread called Oregon Herb, with lots of onion and dill. Here, they have a bread that they describe as having "a taste of onion, dill, & rye," but they call it "Acadian Herb." I want some of that in roll form to have with soup, YUM.


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You look gorgeous and look and sound happy.:)


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