Wednesday 11 September 2019

By the numbers...

I don't really know what "baby brain" is, but it might be real. In my experience, I've found the seemingly unconscious task of growing a human inside of me makes the conscious tasks of my day take that much more time, effort, and planning. I've been back at work since July 15th, and while I have accomplished some, it's hard to not think about what still needs to be done.

That being said, even as a humanities professor, by the way of a general update in this post, I thought I would list life and work happenings by the numbers:

60: I have a total of 60 students this semester in my online course sections. This is the smallest number of students that I have had in one semester while teaching at Olivet, but that is primarily because I am teaching one less class. One fourth of my contracted time has been designated to work on a departmental proposal for a new writing major (more on that below), so I am teaching a 3/3 load of classes this school year instead of a 4/4 load. Of the 60 students, I have had at least one quarter of them in courses before, so although I only get to know them online, I have at least taught 15 of them in person previously.

39: As of today, I am now 39 weeks pregnant. According to my update on The Bump, that means that Baby Boy Bruce is full term! We are hoping that he makes his arrival sometime in the next week to week and a half. Wade and I have a bet on his timing-- I think he will come before September 18th, and Wade thinks he will come after. If he comes on his due date, it's a wash. Let's see who gets that crisp $5 bill! I feel tired, and my diaphragm feels a bit squished, but this past week I have actually been feeling pretty well. Don't really know what that means... hopefully my body is just collecting strength!

30: I made a list of "nesting" type items to complete before the baby arrives. While some of them require continuous work until he's here (and probably after), I am glad to say that I have checked all 30 items off of the list! I do feel good about what we've gotten done.

29: On Sunday, September 15th, my little sister turns 29 years old! I liked turning 29 cause I have a weird preference for odd numbers, and I'm excited for my sister as she enters into the last year of her twenties. She does really cool work here in Madison, WI with Youth With a Mission, specifically focusing on working with refuge women and children in our area. We had our family celebration of her birthday a bit early, and we had a fun day with hot drinks, manicures, delicious dinner, and fun presents and cake.

18: As a more somber anniversary, today marks 18 years since the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon. 2,977 innocent people, including men, women, and children were killed. I think it's important to remember this day as a reminder to love those around us.

12: With our scheduled appointment this upcoming Monday, we will have had 12 midwife appointments leading up to the birth of Baby Bruce. If the baby comes early, we will have done 11, and who knows how many if he comes late! We have met with seven of the nine midwives, but I've seen or talked to the other two. We feel confident that whomever we have delivering the baby will do a good job and will listen well to what we want. We're also currently reading a book recommended to me by my cousins and to Wade by his coworker,  12 Hours Sleep by 12 Weeks Old by Suzy Giordano, so I'm hoping we can get through that and learn how to teach our baby to sleep and eat well once he arrives.

And now our countdown from ten...

10: As of September 3rd, 2019, it has officially been ten years since I traveled to Oxford, England to begin my 3.5 month study abroad program at Oxford University through the program Scholarship & Christianity in Oxford, which partners with Wycliffe Hall, one of the six Permanent Private Halls of Oxford. My time in Oxford was, hands down, the most transformative period of my life. It was there that I learned to embrace the thing that I truly love, the study of English, and that wasn't hard to do, as I was surrounded by 60 other people who were doing the same. I also remember the exact moment, during our last assembly of the term, where I had the thought: this could be my life. I'm eternally grateful for the semester I spent at Oxford, and the last decade has really been defined by that time. Wade and I traveled to Chicago at the end of July to celebrate this ten year anniversary with 14 or so other 2009 Michaelmas term SCIO students, and it was a lovely reunion.

9: As I mentioned, one fourth of my departmental work time is dedicated to composing, sharing, and editing documents to propose a new writing major at Olivet in the Department of English! I'm really excited about this initiative, and it was one of the main reasons why they brought me on last year. The nine represents a document we just call the "Nine Questions," which are questions that require answers for a new major. My department chair and I put together an outline for the questions last semester, and I've spent the last month or so doing research, drafting, and editing our answers to the questions. There are several tiers of approval needed for our proposal, but I am excited about the possibility and what this will offer our students.

8: Wade and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary on Monday, August 5th, 2019! While we have been married eight years, we have actually been together for 13.5-- since he asked me to be his girlfriend at a snowy park down the hill from our parents house on January 2nd, 2006, the day before we went back to our junior year of high school after Christmas break. We've lived in seven different houses in three different states with our two dogs in these eight years, and I wouldn't trade them for anything! My sister helped us recreate some of our engagement photos that we took at the church where my parents got married and that we now live less than a mile away from!

7: One of the best things to come out of my time time earning my Ph.D. at ASU was my writing
group! As I've said before, I so appreciated the continuing support, feedback, and camaraderie that my writing group gals offer to me. We were able to meet seven times this summer, and we work well on our various projects together, asking for suggestions, bouncing off ideas, and catching up on life. As I prepare for the baby, another prepares for her wedding, and the third is getting ready to defend her dissertation! Lots of new beginnings.

6: Our baby boy will not be alone! Since mid-June we know six women who have given birth to precious little baby boys (and know at least four more babies are on the way). We are excited to be joining this fun Baby Boys of 2019 club.

5: Since the beginning of the year, I've also been a part of at least five different departmental or individual meetings (and countless more email discussions) to prepare for this school year. I did travel down to Olivet at the end of August to meet with my chair, as well as to attend the beginning of the year department meetings. Otherwise, I generally join on Skype or via FaceTime. Though it's a little tricky not being present, I am glad that I am able to join into the meetings and offer my ideas or suggestions. I also have met with my current TA who is doing a great job helping me keep up with my class work.

4: As another part of our proposed major, I have been working on the course descriptions for four new writing major classes. It is fun to think back to the variety of writing class experiences I have had, both as a student and as an instructor. We are proposing classes focused on writing theory (a personal favorite), special topics in writing, and seminar and capstone work in the major.

I also spent quite a bit of time this summer and fall volunteering as part of the leadership team for BLOOM, the women's ministry at Ridgeway Church. In addition to other seasonal events, we have been preparing for our fourth women's retreat to be held in October. I won't be able to attend, but I am very excited about the theme of "resolve" and the awesome schedule of speakers and events that we put together for this year.

3: As I think back on my summer work, I am reminded of the three students that I taught in the online section of Business Communication & Technical Writing. Overall, they did well. It was a demanding course for these students to complete in just eight weeks, as it required a 30 hour business practicum, extensive research, and a group project with live audience feedback. All three students did earn an A, and I am glad to have been able to work with them.

It has also been three months since I posted my last blog. Initially I meant to post one monthly this summer; however, time and energy got away from me. I am glad to be able to post my update now, and I will plan on doing another full blog post in about three months, closer to the new year. The work I will be doing this semester will be focused on developing the proposal materials, developing a new online class for the spring, and instructing my current classes. I think in addition to keeping a new, tiny human alive, that will be all that I have the time to complete.

2: I have two course preps this semester, though, I am technically teaching three classes. I am currently teaching one section of ENGL 306: Advanced Writing and two sections of ENGL 210: College Writing II. I taught Advanced Writing my first semester at Olivet, but I have not taught College Writing II at Olivet before. I did take it as a freshman English major at Olivet in the fall of 2007, and I have taught a version of a second tier writing class at three previous institutions. While it is always fun to create a new class, I do forget how time consuming it is to create instructional materials from scratch. I'm excited about the work my students are doing in both classes, though, as they are gathering ideas, research, and feedback for large scale writing projects to be completed in the last third of their semesters.

1: I have a few different "ones," as some things are more unique! As I mentioned, I did take one trip down to Olivet for course prep, meetings, and a departmental get together. Wade drove me down, for which I was very grateful, and we had a good time in the Bourb for a couple days. I have missed being on campus for other meetings, my students' library days, or the major party they held yesterday. Once my stomach looks (much) less like a beach ball, I'll be glad to be able to have the option to go down to Olivet a bit more.

I also submitted an article manuscript for publication after a final round of revision! I have been working on my manuscript for Peitho: Journal of the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition for years, and I am glad to say that it is submitted! The editors, mentors, and reviewers at the journal have been very kind in offering constructive and useful feedback on my manuscript. I am really looking forward to actually seeing my work in print.

Finally, I was accepted, as a workshop co-chair, to the 2020 Conference on College Composition and Communication. The conference will be held in March in Milwaukee this year! While I do like traveling to new cities every year, it is really nice that the conference will be held closer to home. The dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Olivet has agreed to fund my trip, so my hotel room is booked, and I am looking forward to attending my seventh Cs in the spring.

Those are my updates by the numbers! As always, I appreciate a good balance of predictability and change, and I'm hoping between the personal and professional, this fall will have a good balance of both. Until next time!

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