25 January 2015

Currently | 25 January 2015

Carter Lee Dandurand
Born 19 January 2015 at 1:16pm
9 lbs   21 1/2" long

Yep, it's all about the family today as we complete 6 days of awesome with our new addition Carter Lee Dandurand (is it just me or does that sound like a Civil War-ish name?). The next two paragraphs discuss labor, so if you don't like details skip them. I'm a sharer.

After a full week of being 5cm dilated and expecting to go into labor at any stinking moment, I was induced at 8am Monday morning. Things moved along relatively quickly after that. At 10 I was given epidural - which, just my luck, did not work well. For awhile my legs were numb but not my pelvic region, and for those who don't know, a baby does not come out of your legs so numb legs not really beneficial. Then they elevated my legs to direct the medication to the appropriate location, but it bypassed the area and made my torso numb. Finally, after an hour and a half, we found the right position, and while the pain didn't end, it paled in comparison to before. Unfortunately, when it came time to push, we had to move positions and away went the epidural yet again.

At 12:45 things began in earnest and at 1 my doctor came in to begin the pushing...well, I was doing the pushing, she was there to catch the baby. After one contraction, she thought maybe things weren't quite there yet, so she left. At 1:05, I had, in the words of my nurse, an overly effective push. Then came the torture. Everyone's telling me to not push, and I'm thinking ARE YOU F#&KING NUTS? Seriously, how do you not push at that point? The doctor was back in the room about 6 minutes later, and then at 1:16 out comes Carter. His head was huge - this is not just the opinion of the person out of whom he came; my doctor was rather surprised and had to give me an episiotomy even though she is not a fan. She said "that head was not coming out." I was aware. Very aware. And my pubic bone, which had been slowly separating throughout pregnancy due to Carter's weight and the pressure of his big head, suffered for it.

Okay, no more birthing details, so the squeamish can rejoin the conversation now. Once home, Brian and I quickly realized we had a well-behaved little baby. In stark contrast to Madison, Carter is both a constant sleeper and eater. He eats 2-4 ounces all at once and then can hold off for about 4 hours before his next feeding. Madison was more like a snacker. Carter also, at a mere two days old, was already going 5 hours during the night between feedings. FIVE HOURS PEOPLE. We actually woke him up to feed him the first night because, well, because shouldn't he be eating now?

He requires very little attention during the day, able to be alone in his pack-and-play or bouncy seat for extended periods of time. He cries rarely and is easily appeased. Fingers crossed that he stays this way. After Madison, Brian and I desire a sleepy baby.

Speaking of Madison, she absolutely loves Carter. She's so gentle with him, and she hasn't appeared jealous or annoyed with him at all so far. She has even started teaching him games such as peekaboo and hide-and-seek. On morning #2 at home, Madison and I were already up and about while Carter and Brian were still sleeping. Out of nowhere, Madison said, "Go get Carter so I can show him my videos." I was surprised. I thought she would be all about the alone time with Mommy, but not so much. Thank heavens, and just like with Carter's easy-peasiness, I have my fingers crossed that Madison continues to enjoy her big sisterness.

I am so-so still. I can get around pretty well during the day, but my pubic bone makes getting in and out of bed and laying down rather painful. I'm hoping it goes away this week. If not, I am supposed to call the doctor.

So, that's my story. I apologize for those who aren't in to sharing such personal information, but I'm the mistress of too much information in real life. I can talk about anything from labor and delivery to death and dying to bodily functions and medical horrors. You want to complain about bowel movements? No problem. You need to share your surgical horror story? I'm all ears. New adventures in your sex life, real or fantasy? Let's grab a glass of wine and compare notes. Seriously, I'll talk about anything, no matter how personal. And I've never fully understood why more people aren't also like this. Disgust? Shame? Embarrassment? Pfftt. Let's lay it all out on the table and negate such emotions.

Well then, how's everyone else's Sunday going? :)

23 January 2015

Teaching: All People in General

Composition, Literature, and Film

Who - has the problem?
English II, composition students

When - do they have this problem?
Every freaking semester, at least five times a semester

What - is the concept?
While teaching rhetoric, we have a whole week focused on audience awareness. My goal is to teach them that every argument has a specific intended audience which may or may not be the actual audience. Not only do I want my students to identify audience in others writings (and advertisements, commercials, movie posters and trailers, etc.), I also want them to select a specific audience and style their own writings (and other texts) with that particular audience in mind.

How - do I teach the concept?
In order to help students grasp this concept, I provide example scenarios we analyze as a class. For example, we go over the following images to determine intended audience:

We break apart each image individually and discuss who - SPECIFICALLY - would be most affected by each element. At this point, we've already discussed ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos, so we use those rhetorical appeals along with the identified rhetorical tools to determine the intended audience of each piece. We discuss what groups of people would not be affected by those appeals and tools. We even analyze whether or not the creators of these images have used the right appeals and tools for their intended audience.

We move beyond images to also analyze commercials and texts (specifically speeches). We even go more basic and write up different arguments for the following situations:

  • convincing your boss you need a raise / convincing your spouse you need a raise
  • selling Justin Bieber tickets to a 12 year old goth kid / to a 30 year old mother of three
  • arguing abortion rights to a Christian Coalition based in Texas / to an inner city high school in Detroit

And they get it. That day, in class, they get it. But once they leave the room...

What - is the problem?
Students, at least 50% of them, do not seem to understand the term "specific". They insist, vehemently, adamantly, and consistently insist that the intended audience for X is "all people in general". Who the f* is "all people in general"? No writer, marketing agent, director, etc. ever creates a piece of rhetoric designed for "all people in general". It's not possible to do. 

Why - is this a problem?
Because it ticks me off. Okay, that's not a great reason. The real reason a lack of audience awareness is a problem is simple: You can't form an effective argument without knowing something about the audience other than they are, you know, people. Arguing the death penalty should be illegal is a quite different activity if your audience is an octogenarian, conservative, Republican, life-in-the military group of people or like, death row inmates.

20 January 2015

Top 10 Tuesday: Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. To learn more about Top Ten Tuesday or see the list of future topics click here.

This week is a FREEBIE, meaning I can do a top 10 of anything I durn well choose; although I assume it should be bookish in nature. :) Both because I think it's an interesting topic and because I think it will help me get organized, my topic is:

Top 10 Series I Need to Freaking Finish

Gregory Maguire's The Wicked Years
1 down, 3 to go

George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire
2 down, 3 to go

Lev Grossman's The Magicians
2 down, 1 to go

Justin Cronin's The Passage
1 down, 2 to go

Bill Willingham's Fables
4 down, approx 13 to go

Neil Gaiman's The Sandman 
4 down, 6 to go

Ally Condie's Matched
1 down, 2 to go

Leigh Bardugo's Grisha
1 down, 2 to go

Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments
5 down, 1 to go

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials
4 down, 1 to go

So which should I finish first?

18 January 2015

Currently | 18 January 2015

Really there is only one thing on my mind currently;

I will be induced tomorrow morning at 7am!!!!! Yay!!! 

As I said in a post this past week, I am very, very ready for the baby to come out. I have been playing the waiting game since last Monday when my OB told me I was already 5cm dilated. To be honest, I cannot believe I didn't go naturally before now. My doctor is just as surprised. My sincere hope is that my body has been working all week on further dilation and effacement; that way once they get me going, things should progress remarkably fast. Fingers crossed!

The big question this time around is whether or not I will go for the epidural. Don't get me wrong, if it was just about pain, I'd be all over that miracle shot. For those around way back when I had Madison, you may remember my 13 Stages of Labor post in which I told you how I was given the joy of epidural and then it was taken away. Consensus is that the epidural drastically slowed down my labor, and that if I had refrained, Madison would have been born 3+ hours earlier.

Shorter labor or less pain? Does it matter if they might take the epidural away regardless? I just can't decide. Any advice?

17 January 2015

Blogoversary Number 8

On January 17, 2007 - eight freaking years ago - I started this blog. The very first book I blogged about was The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. This was most definitely not a formal review; it is more like reflections on significant quotes from the text. At the time, I thought of this blog as a journal, not a book review site. I didn't even focus solely on books until much later, and I had no idea book blogging was even a thing.

On January 28, I received my first comment from someone I didn't know. On May 16, Trish from Hey Lady commented on my discussion of Atonement by Ian McEwan and visiting her blog is how I discovered the world of book blogging. I was hooked.

And I still am...despite loss of time, decreased reading, and the such not, I just can't quite quit the blog. Here's to hoping that this year is more consistent than the last three years!

15 January 2015

The Waiting Game

Here, I sit. Waiting. Anticipating. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.

What am I waiting for you might ask? Well, dear sirs and madams, I am waiting to go into labor. On Monday morning, I went in for my 38 week check-up, and I was 5cm dilated and 75% effaced. The doc won't induce until I'm a full 39 weeks, so...waiting. If I don't go naturally beforehand, we will be inducing Monday. Until that time, I am playing the waiting game. And the game has 2 hard and fast rules direct from the doctor:

1. Go directly to the hospital if I even suspect I am in active labor. Signs include contractions, headache, water breaking, blurred vision, etc.

2. Do not stray farther than 60 minutes from the hospital.

She was quite adamant about these rules, leading me to believe she sees a real possibility that the time between me going into active labor and baby making an appearance may be quite short.

This isn't surprising to me. With Madison, I went in to the doc's, again on a Monday, was told I was 6cm dilated, and we induced the very next morning. I didn't really feel the contractions until I was a full 8cm dilated (at which point they became very, very not good). Things moved pretty fast after that. So I wait.

And I can't stop paying attention to every little thing going on in my body. Baby movement is strange as all get out, my sciatic nerve is acting up after a month of being nice and calm, my pubic bone may shatter at any moment, and there are other things. Things that I shall not mention because - I am told - there is such a thing as "too much information" and that these things of which I speak are "remarkably gross." I tend to disagree; I am a sharer people. But alas, I will conform to the more conservative societal standards here. I am, however, providing my unborn child with the following:

He has four days to vacate the premises or he will be forcibly removed. In the meantime, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.

11 January 2015

Currently | 11 January

Time and Place // All over the place for the past three days

Eating and Drinking // Orange Crush, baby. I can't have caffeine and I need a treat every now and then.

Hating // Being sick. I was sick from Sunday, Dec. 28 through well actually I'm still sick, starting on my third week. Oh Joy. The worst sore throat ever, massive congestion, three bouts of conjunctivitis in each eye, two bouts of ear infections, no sleep whatsoever originally from sore throat and then from horrific coughing fits. And as I am pregnant, I can only take the most basic, least effective over-the-counter medication. Suck.

Reading // Right now I'm in the middle of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty, a book recommended by so many of the bloggers I read including Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness and Andi from Estella's Revenge. I was lucky enough to receive a copy for Xmas. So far, so good; although I am not as blown away as I thought I would be. I think it's because I was immediately reminded of Mary Roach's Stiff, a book I truly adore, and this remembrance may have set my expectations a bit too high.

Blogging // At the beginning of the week, I laid out my plans for the new year, a rather long list of goals that I hope to accomplish. I also posted about a challenge I'm tackling this year called Back to Classics, hosted by Karen over at Books and Chocolate. And finally, as part of my new year goals, I want to post at least twice per month about teaching, so I put up a post introducing this feature.

Teaching // Things are a bit strange for me right now as my due date is so close. Classes start tomorrow, but for the most part my substitutes are taking over my classes from the get-go. It is highly unlikely I will make it past week one. I will be teaching one online section of English II, writing in the disciplines, while on maternity leave, so most of my teaching-attention is focused there.

Avoiding // Writing that 20 page paper for my Intro to Lit Theory grad course. I've decided to analyze Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness from a narratological perspective; however, I'm having a bit of difficulty kicking my butt in gear on actually writing.

Anticipating // The baby coming out!

Wishing // This baby would come out!

09 January 2015

Teaching: Introductory Post

Composition, Literature, and Film

Well, we are talking about me this time around as this is my introduction to a new type of post I plan to regularly feature on the blog. I am a tenured professor at a community college teaching the following classes:
  • Introduction to Film Studies
  • Introduction to Literature
  • English II : Writing about and in the Disciplines
  • English I : Composition and Rhetoric
  • Fundamentals of Writing : Pre-English I course
I have been teaching for ten years now, and I love my job; although the grading does get to me now and again....

Where? and When?
I plan on posting twice a month here on the blog.

The posts will focus on issues in teaching. I am looking at this from a very broad perspective. I may discuss issues regarding instruction, student learning, retention, pedagogy, assessment, student behavior, struggles, etc. Pretty much anything I think of and want to write about is fair game.

My goal is to use this format as often as possible with minimal variation. I could write essay type posts on this subject, but this feels more fun and more doable on a regular basis. Of course, I reserve the right to completely change my mind any time I feel like it.

I have quite a few reasons for wanting to do this. First, I know a lot of you are also teachers/educators and I hope you chime in to discuss the issues presented, offer advice, and in general be awesome. Second, using the blog as both a place to vent and invent is a goal of mine. Writing posts like this allows me to rage a bit from time to time, but it also forces me to consider an individual problem or issue carefully. Third, why not?

What - can you do?
I would absolutely love to answer any questions you have or explore topics you find interesting, so please please please, if you have any ideas, leave them in the comments and I will add them to my list of posts to write for this feature.