Let's Chat. It's time for a spring update.

Sometimes, it would be nice to sit down with you, my dear reader, so we could have a little chat.  I'd serve sweet tea, and together we could admire the gorgeous tree peonies that are blooming in my yard, even if we must look at them from inside because it's raining (again) today. 

Of course, our conversation would flit from topic to topic, as comfortable conversations are known to do, or simply because we're both too tired to sustain a singular coherent thought for too long.  There's so much to tell you, so let's chat!

Grading All The Things.  This time last week, I uploaded final grades for my four classes after grading final projects, final e-Portfolios, and final speeches.  It's always a sprint to the finish, but the kind of sprint that comes after you've already run a marathon, meaning that it's not very fast or pretty.  Nevertheless, the Spring 2017 semester is in the books, and I've been grateful for this gap week before I begin teaching my summer class on Monday.

Celebrating All the Things.  Within a span of less than two weeks, I've attended graduation as my department's Faculty Marshal, which thankfully is the only celebration that requires its celebrators to wear official academic regalia.  (To my knowledge, at least.  Maybe lots of other people regularly party while wearing a mortarboard.)  Additionally, we celebrated my husband's 40th birthday with a "40 Reason We Love You" scavenger hunt, and this week we're also celebrating two of my three daughters' birthdays.

Basically, this month we walk around our house declaring, "Let them eat cake!"

Cleaning All the Things.  Among other thrilling cleaning tasks, this week I scrubbed our kitchen cabinets with Murphy's Oil Soap and cleaned two kitchen drawers that hold our silverware and serving utensils, hand washing each piece.  I'd like to think that we're relatively tidy people, but these endeavors disabused that illusion. 

Planning All the Projects.  I've come to a realization: I need tasks in my life that look different when I finish them than when I started them.  Both teaching and parenting are rewarding, but when you reach the end of a day, nothing looks different.  (Well, perhaps with parenting things look different at the end of a day, if different means your house has imploded on itself with crumbs, toys, balled-up socks, school paperwork, and other various detritus of active children.)

This lack of visible progress at home and work sometimes wears on me.  I like seeing progress.  I'm a sucker for good before-and-after pictures, after all.  This is why I schedule time to work on projects each summer when my teaching load lessens -- projects I do with my hands, not only with my head.

This summer, for example, I'll tackle this mid-century modern cabinet that I snagged at a garage sale last year for $1.50.  It had been used to store vinyl records, hence the outline of musical notes on the cabinet doors.  Can't you envision new life being breathed into it with a fresh coat of paint and new hardware?

I tell you, this has the potential to generate a stunning before-and-after picture!  (If you have any color recommendations, drop me a comment!)

We Once Had This Tree.  We have a great view from the front porch of our house.  We can see the stadium, which is a campus hallmark, and we have a perfect showing of our town's 4th of July fireworks.  In the past few years there's been one problem, though.  A tree across the street has grown so large that it obscures our view.  My husband and I have joked about cutting it down, or staging an accident, or discretely hammering copper nails into its base to kill it.  Each time we have a storm, my husband prays that it would get struck by lightning.  Alas, it's never worked.

Until last week.  We didn't have just any storm; we had an epic storm that knocked out power for multiple sections of town for several days.  With the wind raging and rain pounding, Joel walked to our front window, looked at the tree, and prayed, "God, I'd love to see that knocked down."  Then, in his own words, he immediately thought, "That'll never happen."

Within seconds, though, a gust of wind surged, and right before his eyes the tree cracked in half and fell into the road.

Moral of the story: God is capable of answering our prayers even if we doubt.  Another moral of the story: God must like our view of the stadium and fireworks, too.

Cumulative Fatigue.  I once read a book about marathon running that discussed how runners should log enough mileage each week to have their legs reside in a state of cumulative fatigue.  Then, as runners taper with less mileage during the week leading up to the race, their legs will feel fresh again, leading to a better performance.

Even though I understand the logic behind this training method, I never could get past the phrase cumulative fatigue.  It sounds awful, doesn't it?

But cumulative fatigue is a phrase that I'd use to describe how I've been feeling.  I'm tired.  I've felt chronically tired for the past two months, in fact.  Each time I decide to schedule a doctor's appointment, I experience a day or two when I feel relatively normal.  (This is oddly similar to taking your car to the garage and having the suspicious clinking noise disappear when the mechanic listens to the engine, or scheduling a hair cut and having your hair, which intuitively feels the treat of scissors, behave more manageably than it has in weeks.)

I don't know whether my tiredness is due to actual illness, or general wear-and-tear, or mental exhaustion from making hundreds of decisions (see Grade All the Things above).  Perhaps I simply need some more sunshine, views of tree peonies, and the happy work of DIY projects to kick a little more energy into my days.   At any rate, I'm finally going to the doctor tomorrow.

Is your tea finished yet?  Would you like another glass?

Granted, I've monopolized this conversation, but I'm so glad we could chat today.  Drop me a line if you have anything pressing to share, like a fallen tree, or whether your family also experiences clusters of birthday celebrations, or whether you've ever dealt with cumulative fatigue.  I'm all ears!

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