Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Updates: teaching load, papers, sabbatical, kids

Well, there have been a few story lines going on that need to be updated:

1. Because of course- sharing , I taught two lab classes and a seminar class for the first half of the semester.  I confirmed that it is just too much for me. Organizational skills, single-Mom-hood, lack of sleep, attention deficit, service obligations... the reasons simply do not matter anymore. I cannot manage a "full time load" successfully. I felt stressed, was quite disorganized, and felt like I was just tumbling out-of-control from one deadline to the next. I will have work 3/4 time or less until whatever "it" is clears up. In the second half of the semester, I will only have to teach the seminar course. I am very hopeful for the coming weeks.

2. I have scholarship hours for the next part of the semester. Some of my research students are rock-stars in organizing and writing the "G" paper. We are going to get this paper submitted before they leave. I can't wait to write letters of recommendation for this group- they are superstars! This is work from my lab from the last few years. We had a great hypothesis and solid data, yet a negative result. This limits the number of journals that will take it, but we will shoot for one of those. Any suggestions?

3. I myself need to finish the "M" paper, which is from the first few years of my lab. It is mostly written but needs to be edited and pre-reviewed. Read here for more.

4. I am prepping for my sabbatical. Housing, daycare, advocating to enroll my son early in kindergarten, it all needs to be done, and soon. I had a moment of discouragement last night in realizing how tight the budget is going to be with half my salary and double the expenses. But, then I just picked myself up, shook myself off, and determined to make it work, somehow. My sabbatical host has an application in for a grant that could bring my salary up to 100%, which will relieve a big burden. How to go about it until we hear? I guess I have to prepare for every possibility, and that only takes work... :)

5. Girl (2.5) is still not sleeping through the night, but is doing better. We are more rested and things at home are a little more under control. I can really enjoy my kids now.

6.  I went to the doctor and asked for a refill on Ritalin. Read here for background. I still feel very, very conflicted about it. When I do take it, it is extremely helpful. There are no side effects at the dose I have, and aside from the cost, monitoring, and deep guilt, there doesn't seem to be any disadvantages :)

7. I simply haven't had the energy to formally tutor my son to prep him for a shot at kindergarten. Read here for more. The time most ripe would be in the evenings at bedtime, when I am pooped. He hasn't seemed to make much progress, especially since we took him out of the pre-school that emphasized phonics and put him into a more "montessori-like" setting. I don't regret letting him spend his 4-year old days at 100% play, I just hope that everything can work out the best for our family. During my sabbatical, we will be in an environment swimming with enrichment opportunities. I would rather have him in kindergarten and have the money to have him in this enrichment activity or that, as opposed to being crushed by the cost or a run-of-the-mill pre-school education. This feels especially acute since last night I re-calculated- and it will actually be more like $12,000 it will cost to have him in daycare for my sabbatical.

In short, things are improving, improving! I feel much better and am able to take care of myself more. I still love this work, and it energizes me, but I must be dose- conscious! My upcoming sabbatical could not be more welcome, and I am sooo looking forward to being back in full-time research (which I also love) and being together with my husband (who, yes, I ALSO love).


  1. I don't know what the more play-based preschool will do for your son's chances of being admitted to kindergarten early, but I can tell you what it did for my son who is in kindergarten now. He had three years of very part-time preschool that was entirely play based. We didn't do any drilling at home, just lots of reading. In the summer before he went to kindergarten the school asked me to bring him in to be evaluated. He didn't know any of the sight words, although he did know all his letters and numbers. The teacher who evaluated him said "He's definitely ready." He was placed in what is unofficially known as the advanced class. His kindergarten teacher believes in giving kids as much material as they can handle. My son has thrived academically, and after a rough start due to shyness is doing well socially, too. We didn't do early admission so it's not the same as your son's situation, but I believe very strongly that play-based preschool is an excellent preparation for kindergarten.

  2. I got diagnosed with ADHD 2 weeks before defending my dissertation. In Argentina, ADHD did not exist as a concept, at least in the mainstream, so I always had the "I could achieve so much if I weren't so lazy" syndrome. The only reason I realized I could have it is because I met my husband, who had been diagnosed, and he suggested it inmediately.

    I've been taking Adderall on and off since then, and I have no guilt. Yes, I had developed successful coping strategies before, but they were extremely time consuming (I was pretty self-disciplined, but knew everything took me three times as much). For me, taking Aderall is a way for my job not to take over my life, and have enough time to devote to my husband and other interest outside my professional life.