Sunday, March 30, 2008

Back from vacation

We are back from our vacation to Charleston, SC to visit Christy and Bob. It was a LONG drive, but an excellent trip. It was wonderful to see the kids. They look great and we are so proud of them. They have a nice home, both are gainfully employed, they have a wonderfully neurotic dog, and have their own lives now. They are all grown up and finding their way through life. We saw many of the sights that make Charleston unique, but the very best part of the trip was the time we spent with Bob and Chris.

The weather was cool for some of our time in Charleston, but precipitation free. We were able to visit the historic downtown several times, which was fantastic. Christy's friend, Carrie, is a professional tour guide and gave us a private tour. It still amazes me how much the tour guides there need to remember. We jumped on a tour of the ghost-ridden old jail, which is creepy and fascinating at the same time. We took Carrie's carriage tour of the Battery section of the city. Magnolia Plantation was absolutely gorgeous. I have to find a Camilla to try as a house plant. I bought gifts for the Minnesota kids at the open-air market downtown and at the River Dogs stadium. We visited Fort Moultrie and saw the weaponry from the Revolution through WWII. We ate seafood at restaurants and Bobby's seafood boil. The honey baked ham for Easter was to die for, encrusted with a honey-brown sugar crust that made it seem more like dessert than the main course. The ocean and beach are, well, amazing and pure relaxation at the same time.
Bob and I got home late last night, and we are both having a lazy day trying to recoup. Looking back at our trip, I am so grateful for all of it. Bob (although he loves to drive, and I'd prefer to fly) does a great job of finding our way, navigating traffic, driving forever, AND catering to taking care of me. How he is so patient through it all is a mystery to me. I am grateful for the warm greeting that the kids extended to me. I feel especially thankful for Christy's welcome. I don't feel that Chris and I ever got much of a chance to know each other before she headed south, and I hopefully sense that she is giving me a chance to be in her life. What more could anyone ask? I'm not sure I would be as gracious as she, if I'd been in her position. At least from my perspective, it seemed that 7 years ago I bulldozed in, married her dad and then she felt she had to go packing. Her life, as she knew it, was completely disrupted. Yet, she greets me with a smile and a hug. How forgiving and kind-hearted can she be? Bobby and I had a bit more time together, yet I am appreciative of his acceptance, as well. Stepping into a family and becoming the step-parent is not an easy thing to do. I'm not sure that I stepped all that gracefully, and I cannot thank Christy and Bob enough for their resilience, patience, and care. Anyway, it was a special vacation, and I have Bob, Chris, and Bob to thank for it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Trying a dream

A month has gone by since my last posting, but what a month it has been! Since I left my television job and went back into the elementary classroom, I've been missing teaching adults. My dream was to teach education students at the college level. This spring has brought me that opportunity. I've been teaching a graduate level education course for the College of St. Scholastica, my undergraduate alma mater. This adjunct instructor position came as an unexpected surprise, a phone call out of the blue. I'm teaching Science methods, one of my favorite things to teach. I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to try my dream on for size, to see if I really liked it. Since I have a student teacher in my classroom (a coincidence that he is in the exactly same program) to help out, I would have the time and energy available to add teaching this course to my schedule.

I won't lie, it has been tough; but rewarding. I am having to travel to St. Paul to teach this course, but only have 6 students. It has been a challenge to learn the online component of the course, but I am feeling more comfortable using the software. My first eight hours (2 classes) of in-class instruction have been rewarding, interesting, invigorating, and exhausting all at the same time. Driving to St. Paul, setting up labs, teaching, tearing down, and driving home have made for a couple of very long days. My students have been so encouraging, telling me how much they enjoy my class and how valuable they feel it's been. As I expected, teaching in this way refreshes my own enthusiasm for teaching and makes me evaluate myself as a teacher.

Now, I have accepted the challenge to teach this course again next quarter, but in Duluth. My student teacher will have completed his time in my classroom, but I feel that I will have the course mostly set up by that time, so it should be less overall work the second time through. I am anticipating more students (maybe as many as 30) but I should be more comfortable and confident of my abilities by that time. I will finish out the school year working both jobs. I am hoping I will survive this schedule, and also have a better understanding of what I would like to be doing with the remainder of my teaching career.

Knitting and spinning, it seems have taken a back seat to the teaching for the past month. I have restarted the beta test sweater for Annie Modesitt a couple of times and it's just not doing it for me. I like the pattern, but as I'm knitting it, I'm thinking I'll never wear this sweater. It's just not me. I love the lace and cable, but I can just envision the sweater pulling up whatever I'm wearing underneath. I'm seeing myself pulling on things and constantly fighting it. So, the sweater is probably going to be frogged. Bob drove me to St. Paul to teach yesterday, so I started knitting a bag that will have fall oak leaves needle felted on it. The bag is about half done already, and it felt good to pick up the needles again.

We are off to South Carolina to see Christy and Bob this week. I'm starting to feel excited about the trip (especially now that I know we have my pay from St. Scholastica to fund the trip.) We have rented a small cottage just a couple blocks from the beach. The kids are excited about our visit, and have many things planned for us. I need the break, and I'm looking forward to knitting on the drive to and fro.