Uncategorized,  Week in Review

TSS – 2.6.11

Well, here we are, Super Bowl Sunday 2011.  For some reason I always anticipate spring to be just around the corner when the football season comes to an end, but that is never the case.  We have thawed a bit from Blizzard 2011 but they are predicting a dusting of snow tonight and another storm to move into the area on Tuesday.  I fear that the balmy breezes of warmer weather are a minimum of six weeks away, no matter what the groundhog’s shadow predicted.


I have spent most of my personal time this week focused on my mom.  She was rushed to the hospital on Monday morning because she had gained seven pounds overnight!  Apparently eating one slice of bacon on Sunday morning caused her congestive heart failure to wreak havoc with her body.  On Tuesday I was told IF she pulled through, we would have to consider a very strict, low sodium diet for her (she was always restricted to the ‘cardboard” food as she called it — which is why she ate the bacon in the first place:  to have a bit of flavor).  On Wednesday, she had a blood transfusion because they determined her current blood thinner medication was having an adverse effect on her body.  On Thursday she was told that her hemoglobin numbers had improved, but her heart is definitely weaker.  Her doctor informed us that another episode like the three we have experienced since Christmas and hospice will most likely be our next step.

Hard words for Mom to hear – but I am embarrassed to confess that it is a relief for me.  I have lost track of the number of hospital stays Mom has had these past twelve months, but I am sure that it has been double digits.  Each stay takes just a little bit more out of me.  The emotional roller coaster of making unpleasant decisions, the wondering of what the future will hold, the constant attempt at being positive around her is taking its toll.  But perhaps this new diet and these new meds will help her to maintain  a certain level of health for longer than a couple of weeks.

I think I have mentioned here at least once that I am constantly revamping my lesson plans.  I research online to find different ways of teaching the same topic and I am not afraid to experiment (truth be told I don’t know if I do this more to help the students learn the material – or more to help me from becoming bored). Sometimes the experiments work well and bear repeating another year, other times the experiments do not yield the expected results and I abandon them completely.  Thus was the fate of this week’s trial and error.

Since our school is a University Model School and most students only attend Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, to miss one of those days for a snow day can truly put a kink in the scope and sequence. The principal advised us to post “snow day” assignments online so that students would not fall too far behind.  That might work well for some classes like math or science where students can read the text and attempt the problems (with an answer key in the back of the book to double check answers) but since my classes tend to be discussion based rather than textbook driven, it is not always easy for me to assign more.

However, in all my classes but one I had a paper due on Wednesday.  My thought was to have students email me the papers (which would keep them on task) and I could grade them during the snow days rather than over the weekend.  Great in theory — lousy in practice.

First of all, the majority of the students turned the papers in on time, but I would say about 15% failed to do so.  I then had to send separate emails to the parents to remind the students about this arrangement.  A time consuming task.

I had originally thought that I could grade the papers online and then return to the student electronically – thus saving lots of paper and perhaps developing a more streamlined system for grading papers in the future.  Boy was I wrong!  It took me about three times longer to grade the papers online (I tend to make LOTS of comments — which I am trying to curtail — and grammatical corrections do not lend themselves to a quick and easy electronic format).  It took me only  two papers graded this way to realize this was not going to work.

I then had to print off each student’s paper – make sure that names were on each paper (of course they assumed that by sending in an email it would be obvious who wrote the paper) – grade the papers, and then input the grades.  I spent about 16 hours over the two snow days taking care of this.  I was NOT a happy camper.

So, note to self – in the future do not create more work for yourself – but rather, allow students the extra time to complete the assignment and perhaps assign a bit of outside reading and an oral report to complete on the unexpected day off.


Between Mom – blizzard – and the snow day grading fiasco – I am afraid that reading was placed on the far back burner.  I did manage to read one more chapter in Little Women, and I quickly read the graphic novella that has swept the blogosphere, The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger.  I must say that I loved the premise of the book:  a young woman discovers a mysterious library on wheels that only contains all the books she has ever read in her life.  How fascinating it would be to have a visual representation of my own reading life. Much like Proust’s madeleine cookie, just looking at the original binding and yellowed pages would immediately bring back such vivid memories.  I lingered over each of the beautiful illustrations that showcased her reading collection.  I tried to catch a glimpse of each of the titles, wondering if I had read the book myself, or even more, if I could find a book that I would like to read now.  I would not hesitate to go back and re-read these pages again and again.  However, I was not at all pleased with the ending of the book.  I did like the fact that she was able to become a bookmobile librarian in her own right – I just did not like the way in which that dream actually came true.  For that reason alone I would probably rate the book 3.5 out of 5.

I also managed to start reading Howard’s End is on the Landing by Susan Hill.  I think I have waited for this book to arrive at my local library since October – I kid you not – and so far I would say that it was well worth the wait.  The chapters are fairly short, which makes it the perfect book to keep on the nightstand – and the insight into her own reading life I find fascinating.  I have found several quotes worth remembering and I hope to write a full-fledged review (my first in how long?!) sometime soon.

Lastly, I treated myself to a Half Price Bookstore excursion.  I had received an email for 20% off an entire purchase this weekend, and well, I thought I deserved it after this week.  I decided to begin the collection of the Harry Potter audio books.  I have just fallen in love with Jim Dale’s voice – and I think this is a purchase that I will enjoy for year’s to come.  I purchased the first three books and hope to start listening to them (again) as soon as I begin my exercise routine (which was supposed to start in January but at this point, is being postponed until Spring break).  So far I have listened to the first book twice, the second book once, and I have managed to listen to about half of the third.  I have no idea what happens in books 4-7 — but I am confident that I will indeed complete this assignment at some point in time.

I hope you all have a celebratory Super Bowl and a stress free week ahead.


  • bermudaonion

    I'm sorry to read about what's been going on with your mom and I hope you find a resolution soon. I know a lot of people who have had wonderful experiences with hospice, but ours was not that way – about all they did was help bathe my dad. I'll keep you and your mom in my prayers during this difficult time.

  • Liz

    What a week, Molly! Hope next week is less eventful:)

    I will definitely have to track down The Night Bookmobile, if only for professional research:)

    Take good care and enjoy the Super Bowl!

  • Meghan

    Molly, I'm sorry to hear about your mother's hospital stay. It's such a shame that so much can happen because of one piece of bacon. =/ I hope she can stay healthy for longer this time.

    I have been meaning to try and listen to the Harry Potter audiobooks, but my library doesn't have them and they are quite expensive. Still, I think they're the perfect entry into audiobooks for me, so I will have to endeavor to get them sometime.

    I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

  • Anonymous

    Molly, I'm so sorry about your Mom, but hopefully they will get things sorted out. I do understand your mixed feelings. Truly.

    Love the fact that you are enjoying the Harry Potter books on audio. Isn't Jim Dale wonderful? I have listened to this whole series several times.

    Take care this week.

  • Vivienne

    Sorry to hear your mother has been so poorly. I didn't realise anyone could gain that much weight overnight from a piece of bacon. That defies gravity!

    I hope things ease for you soon. I hope to read that Susan Hill book too soon.

  • Florinda

    Thanks for including the NAUMS link. My 16-year-old attends a Middle College, which seems to have some similarities, but it's only open to high-school juniors and seniors. She loves the program and is doing much better than she did during her first two years in public high school.

    I haven't really gotten into audiobooks, but have been thinking the Harry Potter ones might be a good place to start, since everyone seems to speak so well of the narrator.

    Hope you get a little less snow this week, Molly!

  • Kim

    {HUGS} to you Molly. I am so sorry to hear of your mom's health woes again. We have not reached that point in our life here, but I know that it could be just around the corner. Do you not have any siblings who can share the care? I know sometimes having siblings can make it all worse! I hope you have a quieter week—
    Thanks for mentioning the graphic novel. I have not heard of it and need to go check my library. I am not always a fan of GNs but this one sound intriguing.
    Off to make some chex mix for my game watchers….

  • Staci

    Your mom's health issues sound frightening and would certainly make me very anxious. I hope that the medicine/diet change helps her!!

    I like the idea of your school. I sent your link to my school email so I can read it and pass it along to our Superintendent. Sorry that you spent so much time on those papers..ugh!!

    I'm glad that you spent some money on yourself and HP audio is the wa to go!!

    I hope you have a better week Molly!

  • Vasilly

    Molly, I'm so sorry about all the things you're going through with your mom. I hope things get better.

    I didn't like the way the main character of The Night Bookmobile became a night librarian either but I did love the rest of the story.

    I hope you have a great week.

  • Wendy

    Molly: Helping a family member with constant health concerns can be very draining – I hope you are taking care of yourself (and love that you had a little book spending spree!). Hope you have a good week ahead of you.

  • Carola Bartz

    Molly, I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. Taking care of a close family member does eventually take its toll and you also have to take care of yourself, otherwise you will be burnt out sooner than later. I really hope for you and your mom that things will get better.

  • Alyce

    I'm sorry to hear about your mom's health problems – that's got to be rough on everyone.

    Grading the papers sounds tiring and I'm just reading about it. 🙂 I hope you guys don't have any more snow days for your sake.

  • Beth F

    Oh ugh! Correcting text online is a skill like any other, and you could learn to do it easily . . . eventually. But in your situation, you made the right decision to print out and then lesson learned for snow-day assignments. Sounds like a stressful week.

  • Dave and Tami

    Sorry to hear that your mom is having continued health issues. We will keep her – and you – in our prayers.

    I agree with your assessment of The Night Bookmobile – I didn't care for how she became a librarian either. I didn't care as much for the illustrations – thought the amateurishness (is that a word?) took away from the story.

  • Bellezza

    Sorry to hear about the difficulties with your dear mother; one piece of bacon can wreak all that havoc? Yikes!

    I'm glad to hear that you don't like the grading online dealio; my son had to submit papers to something called turnitin.com, and as a teacher of elementary students I was most disgruntled because it seemed an out for the secondary teachers; they wouldn't have had to comment at all! Of course you are far too conscientious for that, and I feel your pain over all that grading effort.

    Loved Bookmobile. Weird, wild and thought provoking, wasn't it?

  • Anonymous

    Oh, Molly, I am so sorry to hear you mom was hospitalized again and all that she is going through – and you as well. I'm a praying gal, and will do so for you.

    I'll be interested in hearing more about Howard's End is On the Landing. I've had it on my list for some time. You have so much on your plate. I admire that, knowing it is not easy.

    We will go below zero degrees tonight. Brrr! I do try to appreciate winter, but, enough already!

  • Jenners

    So sorry to hear about your mom. I'm sure this is taking a toll on her and you. It cannot be easy.

    And ick about your grading woes. It is amazing how you think something will be helpful and it ends up causing more work. Yuck.

    At least you got some good reading in!

  • Amanda

    I"m so sorry to hear about your mom. A couple years ago, we were struggling with something similar with my aunt, who had had a stroke and multiple heart attacks and yet who refused to take her medication and eat properly. She eventually died in January 2009 and it was tough on the whole family. Sending you lots of internet hugs!!

  • Anonymous

    Oh Molly, I can't even begin to imagine all you are going through. Just know you and your family have been and will continue to be in my prayers.

  • Trish

    I'm so sorry to hear about your mother, Molly. Sometimes tough news can be a sort of mixed blessing and it sounds like this might force your mom to get back on the health train. I'll be keeping you guys in my thoughts.

    I was SO bummed to miss my 20% coupon from HPB. Well, I got the coupon, but I was still snowed in on Saturday morning from Friday's storm and didn't make it out on Sunday because of last minute superbowl guests. Sounds like you found an awesome purchase in your HP books! I'd love to listen to them someday–when book 7 came out I read book 6 to my husband on a series of long car trips and we both loved the experience.

    Hope this week has been a good one for you. We'll be in the 60s next week–wondering if you'll get any of that warmth as well?

  • Belle Wong

    Very sorry to hear about your mom's hospital stay, Molly. I hope this week has been much better for her, and for you.

    If you ever find yourself in a position of having to grade papers electronically, try converting each file to a PDF (both Word and Open Office have this function) and then use the PDF highlighting and annotation tools. I'm planning to try this out myself when I'm revising my novel!

    I'm off to add the Susan Hill book to my library list now!

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