Six Word Saturday

Six Word Saturday

This week’s six words will be accompanied by a very short post.  It is almost not Saturday anymore and I’m a little tired.  So, six words, short explanation and that’s it!

First sleepover away means night alone!

My daughter is sleeping over at a friend’s house for the first time tonight.  It was a little last minute after a wonderful day with friends at a “fun”draiser for a local group that helps out families with chronically ill children.  She went to the friend’s house after hanging out with her at the fundraiser and they hatched a plan for a sleepover and the friend’s mom said yes.  In addition, I hung out and chatted with her mom and had dinner with her family before leaving to come home to a night alone!  My hubby is traveling.  So, it is just me, the dog and the cat.  Well, and the neighbor’s cat (I guess you could say our cat is having a sleepover over here).  A quiet night.  I’ve picked up the living room and vacuumed in preparation to lay down a new rug I got last week that will hopefully look nice and cover more of our dirty, dirty carpet.  Maybe I’ll accomplish some other things.  But, maybe, I will just go to bed.

So, that’s it.  It was an unusually social day that I very much enjoyed.  And tomorrow I’m going to a BBQ at a friend’s house for her birthday where there will be other kids for Bean to play with as well.  So, overall it is a social weekend for us.  A nice change of pace after the past few weekends of preparing for hospital and then post-hospital hangover.

You can join in the Six Word Saturday over at Show My Face!

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday – Celebrate

I’m back again to participate in Five Minute Friday.  I have a few posts that are rolling around in my Drafts folder but haven’t had the time nor the focus to finish them.

This week was MUCH better than the prior week (not having any family members in the hospital is always a plus) with Bean doing well at school all week and handling the heart monitor with grace.  I felt like every day this week was non-stop for me.  Between meetings at work (both scheduled and emergency), crises that popped up throughout the week, a volunteer post at the Farmer’s Market for a school fundraiser last night and my jobs, it has been insane.  But, I feel like I’ve made it through pretty well.  No major tragedies, but I have a TON to do this weekend and early next week.  Thankful to have the weekend off from traveling and health issues, but it certainly won’t be one of “rest”.


This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is “Celebrate!”  So, here goes:

This week I am celebrating small victories.  First, my DD and I were “champions of the morning” as I told her every day this week.  We were able to do everything we needed to do, leave on time and get to school early so she could play before going to class.  I wasn’t stressed or annoyed – even this morning when we had to finish homework in the car on the way to school!  I just felt like we were able to get done what needed to be done.  The biggest difference I can identify – I didn’t get on my computer at all in the morning once she got up.  And she didn’t watch much TV (although she did watch TV one morning when she got up extra early).  So, hopefully we can continue that.

I feel like I have to celebrate the small victories because I’m not scoring many big victories these days.  I am behind at work after last week’s hospital stay and cancelled classes, etc.  I am feeling behind in household stuff, although with my insomnia last night I was able to catch up on quite a bit of that.  But, I felt like my DD had a great week at school and home for the most part.  I felt like celebrating that we were “champions of the morning” made each and every day better.  And I have to remember how meaningful those small celebrations are – both to her and me.

I often berate my small mistakes (and big ones).  And I often feel just a little inadequate when faced with the things I need to deal with: my daughter’s heart problems, my seeming inability to get things done in a timely fashion on a regular basis, one and a half jobs, a traveling husband, illnesses in extended family members and my own health issues (the psoriasis has lessened, but is still there after taking medication for it).  So, I think I have to remember to give myself those little “atta girl”s when I do something well, no matter how small.


Thanks for reading!



Six Word Saturday, Weekend Coffee Share

If We Were Having Coffee – Six Word Saturday Style

I’m going to combine a couple of things in today’s post.  Six Word Saturday AND If We Were Having Coffee!  It is a meme mashup of sorts.  Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for reminding me of “If We Were Having Coffee” which I’ve done a few times here on the blog – here and here specifically.  It is the perfect amount of randomness and provides an excuse for a totally conversational post!  So, first, let’s get the Six Words out of the way.

Enough already with medical issues, please!

Yeah…definitely captures my feelings right now.  Let’s have some coffee, because…well, this:


If we were having coffee, I would apologize for my house looking like we are in the middle of a move for no good reason.  There are pictures from the walls sitting on the floor against the wall, waiting for me to decide where I should put them (I got some from my mom’s house and was going to switch things around, but now I’m not so sure and I’m feeling a little stuck).  There are piles on the dining room table.  A combo of stuff that came home from the hospital with us, stuff from my purse and stuff that was there before.

Yeah – the hospital.  We spent three days in the hospital with my DD this past week.  Totally unexpected.  We went in for a normal transplant check up and they noticed her heartbeat was slower than it normally is – only a slight difference, but they are thorough, to be sure.  So, they ran an EKG and there was a pretty significant bradycardia. So, they checked her in and then they decided to be sure there was no rejection, they needed to do a biopsy.  She used to have biopsies all. the. time.  First, every three months.  Then every six months.  And we stayed at every six months for a long time.  Then they bumped her tricuspid valve and it got knocked loose (it is a known issue in little ones doing catheterizations) and they had to repair it and the repair didn’t really work – just lessened it enough that when on lasix she would not fill up with fluid in her chest (which happened without us knowing once before the valve repair – again, unexpected stay, but that one was six days).  Then, to keep from having to risk bumping the repaired valve, we moved to annual biopsies.  But, now we’re back to six months to make sure there isn’t any significant damage to the coronary arteries and such while we figure out what is causing this electro-conducting problem.  The biopsy came back negative for rejection and everything looked the same that it did in May and the lower conductors in the heart seem to be working okay, so it is just her sinus node that is deciding to misfire…or not fire at all sometimes.  So, she is now wearing a heart monitor stuck to her chest for 14 days to track her heart beat over longer periods of time and we’ll see how she does.  They say she is not symptomatic but I think that maybe she has had some symptoms and we just didn’t know what to be looking for when it was happening.  So, now we know.  And we’ll see what shows up.  So, there’s that.  But at least we’re home.

I would tell you that my husband had to leave the next morning after we arrived at home because his mom had to have a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery on Thursday while we were still in the hospital at Stanford.  Yeah…that’s right.  We were calling his dad in the hospital there while we were sitting in a hospital room here.  Sigh…  Good news was there was no sign of spread, so she will not need any chemo or radiation and hopefully this will be the end of it for life.  Bad news, she is not being a very patient patient and my husband and his dad are totally exhausted (this is day five in a hospital room for my husband…different room, same you know what).  He is going to stay down there to help out his dad this week, so  I’ll be dealing with Bean on my own.  I’m hoping that all goes well and there are no illnesses or heart issues or issues with his mom.   I’m hoping we have no more hospital stays for anyone in our family for a long, long time.

I would then drink some coffee and knock on wood and kiss my blarney stone or whatever you do for good luck and I would hope that you didn’t think I was some crazy woman with a Lifetime Movie Network life that is way to overwhelming.  Because honestly, that is probably what I would think if I heard my story.

I would ask you how you were doing and hope that your answer would be more Comedy Central than Lifetime Movie Network.  And you can include your response over at the Weekend Coffee Share at Part-Time Monster!


Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday – Same

I’m back after some time away (which will be explained in today’s Five Minute Friday post) and ready to spend five minutes writing.


This week’s prompt is “same”…

Things are constantly changing, but they are also always staying the same in many ways.  This past few days we revisited a place where we have spent a lot of time and although we’ve changed dramatically, that place remains mostly the same.  That place is the Children’s Hospital where my daughter had her transplant.  We haven’t been there overnight for over three years, but a hospital room and hospital life is nothing if not the “same”.  I’m happy to say we are back home, but realistically looking forward to additional stays some time in the future.  We have friends who were there with us when my DD got her transplant and they are back for an entire YEAR – not IN the hospital, but staying at RMH and often in-patient for a few days at a time for cancer treatments.  I guess, in some ways, that sameness is a sense of comfort.  The fact that I knew where to go to get sheets and blankets and extra pillows and how to order food for my DD and where to go get food when the Children’s Hospital cafeteria was closed one night and to expect nurses in and out of the room throughout the night to do vitals is all a source of comfort where others would have a lot of anxiety.  So, in that way, the fact that the hospital is the same is comforting.  And I’m thankful for that.  But, it is also frustrating to get woke up every day at 6:30 a.m. to get weighed (really?  they can’t do a weight AFTER shift change in the morning?) and to always have the same menu to look at for food (but, at least it isn’t just some random meal dropped off to you that your kid will never eat, so that part is good).  Always the same beeping of the machines (although thankful we didn’t have to deal with any IV poles or IV fluids this time).  Always the same “hurry up and wait” for news or tests or results.

The hospital is much the same despite the new curtains in the rooms and the new little carts to tote kids around the hospital.  And for that, I am pretty thankful.  Being in the hospital is stressful enough, no need to figure out “new” things while dealing with that.


That’s it.  Join us over at Kate Montaug for this week’s Five Minute write.  More on the hospital front in a coming blog post.


A College Professor’s Five Suggestions for Success in College

I’ve been teaching college classes for some 16 years now and I’ve learned a few things over the years, both from my own experiences but also listening to other college professors talk (and reading their blogs, of course).  And I have a few suggestions for college students who want to be successful from the start and maintain success throughout their college career.  Some are REALLY easy.  Some are a little more difficult.  But, all of them will make you MUCH more likely to be successful in your college years.  So, here goes – my suggestions for success in college, from a professor’s perspective:

success in college

 1.  Do NOT fly under the radar in classes.  I have heard many students refer to their approach to classes to “fly under the radar” or go unnoticed.  I will admit that my being a professor in Communication Studies makes this less likely (our majors like to communicate theoretically), I still have students in my GE classes who come to class, do the work, but never really approach me as an instructor or seem engaged in the class to any degree.  It is true that this will “keep you out of trouble,” but it will also make your understanding of the material much more shallow, will make it close to impossible to ask these professors for letters of recommendation later (I am always struck when students come in and ask me for a letter when I didn’t have a personal conversation with them for an entire semester) and will not provide you with a networking opportunity for future contact.  My suggestion for making your presence known, even if you are an introvert:

  • Go to the professor’s office hours! We HAVE to sit in our office during office hours.  It is boring when there is no one to talk to.  Sure, we will sometimes try to use this time for grading, class prep, etc. but I’m never annoyed when a student comes by to chat with me.  I became a professor because I like students and this gives me a chance to have one-on-one conversations with students.  Something that is difficult in a class setting.  You don’t have to go every week or even every month, but I would try to go once early in the semester to introduce yourself and ask a question or inquire about an assignment.   Then go again mid-semester, maybe right before those mid-terms.  Again, ask a question about the material for the exam or discuss something that you’re looking into for the class.  These meetings do not have to last long.  Finally, go at the end of the term.  This is a good time to ask if the professor is willing to write letters of rec in the future and to say something you enjoyed about the class (we so often only hear the complaints).
  • Engage in class sessions.  This is harder in some classes where you are in large lecture listening to a professor talk and talk and talk.  But, even then you can engage by taking notes, sending an email to the professor about something that was said during class that intrigued you to ask for more information, giving the professor non-verbal feedback or just simply saying hi before the lecture begins or good-bye as you leave the room.  For those smaller sections, be someone who asks questions, answers questions and participates (productively) in discussions.  Stay on topic in small groups (I am always amazed at how many “what did you guys do last night?” conversations are loudly held when the groups are supposed to be talking about ethics).  Finally, do your work when it is due (or before) and then read and USE any professor feedback you get on papers, exams or during discussions.  I love these students in my classes!

2. Use a planner system that will work for you.  I am someone who loves a good paper planner, but will forget to look at it for days in a row.  So, I get that the lovely University branded planners they give you at orientation may not work for you to remember the assignments in my class or when we had an office hour meeting scheduled.  But, you also probably have a smart phone (I know that is a generalization, but a majority of my students do).  Set up reminders.  It is sometimes laborious to input all the information when a meeting is scheduled, but those notifications popping up on my phone have really saved my rear end at times.  So, paper calendar in a notebook, University branded planner, moleskin notebook, smart phone calendar, computer calendar (I love my Google calendar and it syncs with my smartphone)…one of them will work for you.  Figure out which it is and then use it.  Religiously.

3.  Do not try to do everything in one semester or even one year.  College is a typically AT LEAST a four year commitment (some can do it in a shorter time, many take a longer time).  Do not try to do every activity, every club you are interested in, every sporting event, etc. in your first semester or even your first year.  And this is coming from someone who is in charge of one of those activities.  But, I want students who are setting aside TIME to actually participate fully in the activity, not spreading themselves so thin they are unable to do anything well or engage fully in any activity.  I think this is a problem for many Frosh who have been over-involved their entire high school career and think they will be able to handle the same level of activity when they get to college.  But, they forget many things are different:  (1) Mom or Dad isn’t here to cook for them, wash their clothes, do the grocery shopping, etc.  It may not seem like much, but it makes a huge difference to have to do all of that yourself.  (2) For some, the level of academic expectation is boosted up quite a bit over what they experienced in high school.  This is not true for everyone, but sometimes it may take a semester or so to figure out how to best manage your classload.

In the opposite extreme:

4.  Choose to show up.  You do not HAVE to do anything anymore and that’s quite the freedom.  When I did the new student orientation before this semester started we finished the department advising orientation and I walked the students across campus to their next location (the WREC for a party) and dropped them off.  One of the girls said to me, “Do you know what we’re doing at the WREC?” At the time, I didn’t but it was the WREC so I said, “No, but its probably something fun.” and she said, “Will I get in trouble if I don’t go?” and I laughed and said, “No, you’re officially an adult now!  You don’t have to go if you don’t want to.”  I just thought it was hilarious that she was in that frame of mind still, but it is a huge change and a lot of students really take advantage of it.  They stop going to classes on a regular basis.  They sign up for things and then don’t show up for them, because “Hey, there is no one for them to call and tell on me.”  When you sign up for something, whether it is a class or a co-curricular activity or a club, show up!  Be present and be involved.  It makes a huge difference when you are able to see that although you won’t “get in trouble” for not being there, you will be rewarded for showing up.

5.  Find a group of people with similar goals and work and play together!  This is important for multiple reasons.  Let me list them for you:

  • This will make you more successful in your studies.  If you care about your grades, being in a group of people who also care about their grades will make you more likely to study, provide you with good people off of whom to bounce ideas and give you constant access to people to read papers over or listen to a speech/presentation or look at an assignment to make sure you’re understanding it correctly.  It is so much easier to study and do well in classes when others are heading to the library with you or pushing through that late night paper-writing process with you.  And you’ll be a help to them as well!
  • This will help your overall well-being.  Studies show that those with a core group of good friends are less likely to suffer from anxiety, depression and even physical illnesses.  Feeling a part of something is important to us as humans.  Joining a club or an on-campus sports team or even the Speech and Debate team (shameless personal plug), as long as the other members have similar goals and interests as you will provide you with a safety net for those days, weeks and sometimes even months when you struggle with knowing who you are and what you’re doing.  Simply having friends is not enough, though.  Because if the group isn’t really cohesive, it is easy for members to fall through the cracks when going through a rough time.  You have to have a set of friends who knows you, knows your goals and knows when you aren’t yourself.  So, when joining something, following #4 makes it much more likely you’ll grow close to other members.  Roommates can serve as close friends, but you want to have a handful of people who care about you and are willing to stick out the rough times with you.
  • This will help you stay safe.  I teach at what is widely considered to be a “party” school.  I also attended this same University and I partook in the bar scene and parties while here.  But, I honestly don’t remember ever worrying that I would be left alone somewhere by my friends OR that I would be allowed to leave alone by my friends with someone one of us didn’t know.  I am always amazed when I hear stories or even see people (women or men) walking down the streets in the party area of our city after 10 or 11 pm, obviously intoxicated by themselves.  I always wonder “where are their friends?”  So, my suggestion is to talk to your friends before going out and have a plan.  If someone is really that “nice” and “good looking” when you’re out at the parties, get their number and call them in the light of day.  If your friend wants to leave with them, get their number for your friend and say you’ll have your friend call them in the light of day.  So many attacks (again, male and females are both victims of attacks when out by themselves – inebriated or not) could be avoided if people would only travel in groups of three or more after a certain hour.  Crowdsource your safety in real life!

So, there you have it, my five suggestions for success (and safety) in college.  I’m sure there are many more things that can help you out, but from a professor’s vantage point, these are the ones I would say are the most important.