Thursday, May 31, 2012

Parenting Practice

Academia: I'm still off conferencing in Houston, and hopefully will be able to report to you next week that it went well (I'm writing this on Sunday night before leaving). In the meantime, I give you another outfit I wore last week, on a day when the students were really wearing me down. It wasn't a bad day at all, but just a day in which everyone had a question, or a weird problem, or a complaint.

It was exhausting, but in a way, probably good practice for parenthood. After all, Baby C will be here soon and she will need me way more than any student I've ever had. I'm sure it will feel different - I'll love my daughter more and differently than my students, which will make meeting her needs easier in some ways. But there will probably also be days when I feel run down by how dependent she will be on her dad and me. For those days, my job can be an excellent warm-up.

Sartorial: Wearing fun clothes can make tiring days a little better. Bright purple and red, comfortable jeans, and a big flower in my hair all make me smile. That's something to keep in mind for those inevitably tiring days with Baby C: putting on happy clothes might help ease that worn-out new mommy feeling.

To any moms reading this, how did you make yourself feel a bit more human on long days with your baby?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Conferencing in the Lone Star State

Academia: Happy Memorial Day, y'all! I hope anyone reading this in the US is enjoying the holiday (and if you're not in the US, I hope you're just having a nice Monday at work). I am spending my Memorial Day flying to Houston for the annual NAFSA conference. NAFSA is an organization for international educators and administrators, and a colleague and I have a poster presentation on Wednesday. I'm really excited; this is my first national conference and I'm looking forward to see what this type of conference is like. I can't wait to report back to y'all next week about my first foray into academic networking!

Sartorial: I wore this outfit last week, but I'm wearing something very similar for the flight today - just swapping out the shirt and adding a blazer (so I don't have to pack it). These pants are sooooo comfy, so they're great for the plane, but can also go straight from the airport to conference registration and still be appropriately professional. And I think the animal print shoes make the whole outfit a little more fun - yes, I'm going to a conference, but my shoes don't have to be stuffy, right?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hispanohablante (Sort Of)

Academia: Check-in week for the summer term is over, and my free time and energy have returned, huzzah! Y'all have heard me talk about how crazy the first week of the semester is approximately eight billion times, so I won't go into much detail. I drove students around, I gave seminars, I answered what are now extremely familiar questions about housing, immunizations, insurance, and life in the US. Blah blah blah.

The only thing that really stood out as different was how much Spanish I got to practice during the week. We have a strict English-only policy at work; not because we hate our students' native languages, but because the best way to learn English is to use English as much as possible. So usually, I try to encourage my students to speak English with me, even though I minored in Spanish and am passingly fluent. But last week, we had several new Spanish-speaking students who really didn't speak English at all, and it was more important that they understand how signing a lease, opening a bank account, and buying health insurance works than that they get a few more hours of English practice.

It took a bit for my Spanish to un-rustify, but once I got going, I felt like I got by reasonably well. Everyone seemed to understand what I was saying at least. Plus, it's good for me to put myself in my students' shoes linguistically from time to time. Spending two whole afternoons speaking only Spanish reminded me how hard all my students are working every day to live life in English. It gave me a renewed admiration for them. At the beginning of the semester, when students are beating down my office door, remembering just how brave and determined they are helps me stay flexible and patient.

Sartorial: I wore this outfit last week on one of my Spanish-speaking days. I spent the afternoon driving students to see apartment complexes in the rain. Rainy days always make me want to wear jeans, and these pants are the closest maternity alternative I have. Actually, on a hot, humid day, they were better than jeans - the chambray fabric is lighter and looser than denim, making them the perfect summer pants. The loose top was cool and comfy in the humidity as well. All in all, not a bad outfit to spend a day in.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Paris Pics

I fully intended to take outfit photos yesterday, y'all. But I got home from work later than I thought I would and had to rush out to babysit my adorable nephew, Baby F, and when I got home, I had milk drool on my shirt and my hair was doing some interesting things. Not very fashionable. So instead, I give you pictures of Paris!

I went into this trip intending to be extremely stylish - it was Paris, after all. But then I realized I left my trench coat at home and also that Paris involves a lot of walking and stair climbing. After that, my main plan was to stay warm and not have tired feet. I never put on sneakers or a sweatshirt (except for one very chilly evening at the Eiffel Tower when I was so cold and tired I cried and Cary gave me his fleece), so I avoided looking like a completely tacky American tourist. But next time, I'm going back not pregnant so I can sartorially represent the US a little better.

Notre Dame, which was a gorgeous 10-minute walk from our hotel in the Latin Quarter.
Defeated by the Louvre. Seriously, this museum was hot, crowded, and badly signposted. By the time I got to the Mona Lisa, I was just cranky and ready to sit down. 
Baby C goes to Versailles!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I tried to look at my feet like normal when I took this picture, and then realized that I have to lean waaaaay over to see them. Better get a pedicure while I can still appreciate it! 
Looking at the camera instead of pretending to look at my feet seemed like a better idea. 

Academia: I love my job. I love helping students. They bring me so much joy. But I've found over the past two years that one of the most important things I can do to stay good at my job is to set boundaries with the students; that is, not being 100% available 100% of the time. Little things like locking my office door while I eat lunch have a huge impact on how I'm feeling about the students, my job, and myself at the end of each day.

I mention this because today was one of those days when I was very glad to have boundaries. I had offered to meet a new student this morning to help him find housing, imagining it would take a couple of hours at most, but he and his family ended up needing so much more of my time. At 1:00, I hadn't had anything to eat or drink since breakfast, and didn't see any signs of my charges slowing down, so I fibbed. I told them I had an appointment at 2:00, wrapped things up, dropped them off, and got myself some lunch. Which I ate with my feet up.

I used to have a hard time making myself follow through on these kinds of boundaries. After all, if I didn't have anything else on my calendar, shouldn't I help students who needed me? So I helped, but I often ended up feeling resentful and overextended. Ironically, pregnancy, a time in my life when another person is drawing from my own resources 24/7, has helped me stick to the limits I set with everyone else and not feel guilty for doing so. My baby needs me to eat lunch at a reasonable hour, so I do. I only have three months of "just us" time left with my husband, so I leave work on time and don't answer after-hours emails until the next day. Unless it's an emergency (which obviously I don't ignore), the students will live, and I stay physically and mentally healthy.

Sartorial: During this pregnancy, I've come to set some style boundaries too; mainly, I don't put anything on my body that is even remotely hot or constricting. For example, I haven't worn a pair of heels in six months. I'm not really afraid of falling over in them and have no issues with other pregnant ladies wearing them; they just sound so massively uncomfortable to me that I can't bring myself to stick one toe in. My wardrobe right now is pretty much exclusively loose dresses, cotton tops, and sandals, and I feel great. This is one boundary that may not be permanent, but is making me very happy for the time being!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Back on the Grid

Hey everyone. I'm back.

I totally didn't intend to drop off the face of the earth for six weeks. Everything is going great here, which is exactly why I did drop off the face of the earth - everything going great means everything is also really busy. Here's a rundown of what I've been up to in the past six weeks:

  1. Went to Paris with Cary. Tres magnifique!
  2. Spent two weeks trying to mentally and physically recover from trip to Paris.
  3. Had a nephew, who is honestly the cutest baby ever born. Three weeks old last Saturday, and the apple of his aunt Emily's eye.
  4. Finished the semester.
  5. Recovered from the end of the semester.
Plus, got increasingly more pregnant, as you can see. I'm 26 weeks right now and feeling wonderful, albeit a little awkwardly sized. Seriously, who would have thought that putting on a pair of pants would be such an act of balance? My daughter is strong and healthy, and quite the active kid. I couldn't have asked for a better pregnancy so far, and all I can ask for now is that it keep going the way it's been going.

So what are my plans for the blog going forward? Obviously, step one is not to drop off the face of the earth for six weeks again. Beyond that, I'd like to keep posting twice a week. I'd love to do more, but it's hard to come up with five non-repetitive outfits every week for months when my wardrobe is so limited. After Baby C is born in August, we'll take things one day at a time, but hopefully will be able to keep up the twice-a-week plan once we've got our feet under us.

Thanks for sticking around, and I'm glad to be back! Until Wednesday or Thursday, enjoy this adorable picture of me and my nephew:

See what I mean? Couldn't you just eat him up?
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