they grow up so fast

One year ago this Sunday we brought home a little bundle of joy and we named him Calvin. While it took him a little while to warm up to us, we were in love instantly.  Now he is a little like our shadow, following us from room to room and greeting us when we return home.  It’s hard to imagine life without him.  Even though he has stayed small, you can see from the below picture taken a couple days ago, he’s definitely grown into a teenage cat.  He even has the attitude to go with the age.

Happy Homecoming Calvin!  Here’s to many more years.


A Moment of Calm

my favorite new accessory

As you have gathered from previous posts, this semester has been a whirlwind.  Right now I am procrastinating both getting ready for class AND writing midterm comments.  I’m still confused as to where all that extra time I was going to have has gone post-basketball season… Anyway, over the February long weekend, I decided to treat myself by knitting something I have been wanting to knit for awhile. It’s called the Textured Shawl Recipe.  I went all out, buying the really nice yarn and some new, square needles (they are supposed to help your wrists).  Despite my busy-ness this shawl only took two weeks to make.  It was an easy project to knit on the basketball bus and at department and dorm meetings.

outlining the shawl

When I asked David to take a few pictures of the shawl laid out flat, the cat couldn’t help joining in to model.  He’s become a regular model in our house because I can only take being photographed so many times when David is praciting using his new photography equipment.  Calvin has stepped up to the challenge and I think shows a real talent for kitten-modeling.  Meow-Mix here we come!

playful kitten


Surveying the Landscape

I cannot believe the semester is almost over.   I still remember worrying that I wouldn’t have enough material to fill a semester and today I was trying to figure out how to teach about Muhammad (actually reteach because we talked about that before Thanksgiving, but let’s be honest, I hardly remember that class), introduce the Qur’an, cover the time line of Islam, and then talk about Shariah law all in tomorrow’s class.  I’m pretty sure it’s not going to happen.  BUT I now have two weeks of class, which is really only six days because one day I don’t have class, one day is a library day, and one day is a movie day!  And in that short time I need to teach the entire tradition of Islam.  It’s going to be crazy.  Fitting five traditions into three and a half months is really hard.  With each tradition it feels like I’m leaving out huge topics that are super interesting (at least to me).  I just keep hoping that on some level I’ve peaked their interest so that they look more into these religions.  I’ve been told next semester isn’t nearly so bad because there are like three extra weeks.

Anyway, this post wasn’t meant to be a complaining session on how I didn’t plan my time well enough.  It was meant to be a moment to pause and acknowledge how close I am to finishing my first semester of teaching.  While there were many nights and weeks where all I did was eat, sleep, and coach, looking back it has really been a blast.  I am a little bummed its almost over.  You get so far with a class and then the semester ends and I have to start all over again with a new group of students.  I’m sure some semesters I will crave the day that I get a new class, but right now it makes me a little sad to think that I only have two more weeks with these guys. On the other hand, it will be really nice to try out some new things like implementing a new way of doing homework, making sure they don’t lean back in their chairs, and working more on study skills.  It will also be nice to get to take more time on traditions and maybe do more fun things like debates, movies, or novels!

This post is also a way to survey the scene of the apartment.  Things in the apartment have changed in three major ways.

First…we got a new coach.

the picture doesn't do the couch justice, plus the cat modeling is so good it just makes the couch look like an amatuer

Second…we bought Calvin his own furniture to scratch.  Is this manipulation or intelligence?  When working with a cat is there a difference?

he's playing on it right now...

Third…it’s CHRISTMAS!

this is just a taste of what's happened to the have to visit to see the rest

One last note: I want to give a shout out to Marilyn who finished the crossword in 18 minutes.  Incredible.  INCREDIBLE.  Some of the words were backwards on the diagonal.  She is a crossword wizard.

Bringing You Up to Speed

A lot has happened since I last wrote, yet it also seems like nothing has happened.  I mean I pretty much get up, plan class, teach class, coach soccer, and then do something else (meeting, dorm, sleep).  Yet each day feels new and exciting.  At least once a day I think, I should write about this on the blog and then the day goes by and another and I’m overwhelmed by all that I want to write about.  So here goes a fly by of my last two weeks of teaching:

(last) Monday: So I wanted to make sure my students were understanding the basic religious jargon, you know symbol, ritual, myth, monotheism, def. of religion, but I didn’t want to just stand at the board, BRAINWAVE – crossword.  They have these awesome website where you put in word and definition and then it create a crossword.  Internet you ROCK!  The night before I put this plan into effect I get an e-mail that my boss is going to come observe me and I start to worry.  Will he think the crossword is a bad idea?  Is this too middle school?  But he really loved it.  Score.

(last) Tuesday: The morning began at 5:15 am when a student came to our door asking for a ride to the infirmary.  Thankfully this is a quick trip, but I couldn’t get back to sleep until like 6:45 and my alarm goes off at 7:15.  Sleeply Sarah is no good in the classroom.  I’m pretty sure we all looked at our watches more than once.  Sleepiness, hormones, and a bad teaching day are a great way to psych oneself out.  For the next two day, I began planning my new career as a knitting goddess.

Friday: We spent an hour in both classes talking about the Upanishads (a sacred text of Hinduism).  They were so engaged.  They were wrestling with the text and this is saying a lot because it is a tough text.  What does it mean that Atman is Brahman, but Brahman isn’t Atman?  No kidding, I lost track of time, I was so into the discussion (hopefully, they felt the same way).  Nice way to end the week.

Monday: They had a test in the paired class.  Despite this they were still pretty engaged for an hour, but the last 20 minutes they started to fade.  I think one student even put his head down on his desk, which is bold in a class of 14 students.  It was a good lesson, that I need to find ways to get them active on days when they have quizzes and tests, because they often focus more on the studying and less on reading for that specific day.

Tuesday: Bhagavad Gita day!  We actually started the Bhagavad Gita on Monday, but we didn’t start discussing until the last 20-30 minutes (see above for why that didn’t go well).  Today I took a different approach.  The ole, give ’em questions (in this case theme words), have them write silently and then start discussing.  It went a lot better.  With a little prodding they made great connections between the key themes.

Wednesday: Debate day!  So when I was in high school, I pretty sure I was one of the students I’m about to complain about, but here goes hypocrisy.  For so many of the students, debate meant winning the argument, proving how the other person was just wrong.  While that can be the point of debate, my goal is for them to see the complexity of the issue, that in truth neither side is all right or all wrong.  The experience has really made me sit back and think about how I want to have the students do debates in the future so that they walk away both understanding the issue better and how to communicate better.  Of course this will probably require me learning to communicate better too.

So that brings us up to today.  Well, sort of…I’ve left out the most exciting part of my day.  Coming home to hear a little bell jingle as Calvin runs to greet me.  It’s really sweet.  I get home from class and rush to change for practice and he follows me from office to bedroom to bathroom to kitchen and back to office.  Bell jingling the entire time.  Right now he’s napping next to me with his paw on my leg.  I may be verging into the crazy cat lady phase.  Thank God that I have a crazy cat man husband who doesn’t think I’m crazy.

Calvin Takes on the Computer

innocently perched in the window sill

Its the battle of the century.  Calvin the Cat vs. the Apple the MacBook.

Round 1: Calvin entices David with his fluffy hair and charming hiss.  David succumbs to Calvin’s wiles, unable to resist he reaches out and picks Calvin up.  Cat and man enjoy a wonderful session of petting and being petted.  Then Calvin sees his moment, feigning skiddishness, he attempts to dart out of David’s arms, scratching David.  David loses his balance, foot up, foot down…landing right on the computer.  He thinks nothing of it, but Calvin knows…success.  Screen broken, David will only discover hours later.

Calvin 1; Computers 0

plotting in command center...under the couch

Round 2: Sarah is up early, preparing for class.  She only has one hour before a long day of helping with move-in, soccer tryouts, and dorm duty.  Her focus is unbelievable.  Calvin attempts an early slurp of leftover cereal milk, but Sarah is too quick.  Calvin retires to command center under the couch, planning his next move.  He sees an in.  Sarah has become distracted and wants an animal to pet while she ponders.  Once in her lap, he goes for the desk, trying to walk on computer…no go.  With a quick shift in strategy he goes for the water.  Chances look slim as Sarah reaches to move the water, but Calvin is quick on the uptake, knocking it out of her hand and onto the computer.  Success!  Water goes everywhere and Sarah, falling for the cat’s innocent good looks, naively comforts the cat for his ‘error’.

Calvin 2, Computers 0

Sadly, this is no joke.  Calvin is quickly becoming a very expensive pet.  We are hoping that after a couple days the computer with water damage will rally, but so far it isn’t looking good.  Thankfully, David is a whiz with computers and was able to save the hard drive from my computer so at least part of the crisis was averted.  I still have my notes for the first week of class and the syllabus outline.

The plot thickens…a little part of me wonders if David put Calvin up to his computer attack.  David’s been trying to convince me for months that I need a new computer.  Only time will tell.  I’ve had my eyes peeled for high-fives and winks between them, but so far they’ve been playing it cool.

Meet the Newest Member of our Family

No, I’m not pregnant, but David and I have brought a real living creature into our home.  It’s our new cat, Calvin. Here’s how it happened.

We went to the humane society and checked out all the kittens.  Calvin (or Brut as he was known to them) immediately stood out to me.  Partially because he was so cute and little and partially because he hisses at any one who comes near his cage.  We quickly learned that he is all bark and no bite, or all hiss and no scratch as the case may be.  Once he’s in your lap he won’t leave, he loves to cuddle.

snuggling up to david at the humane society

We named he Calvin after the French theologian, John Calvin because he’s a little rough around the edges, but a softy at heart.  I’m pretty sure this isn’t an accurate representation of the actual John Calvin because he seemed pretty stern, but whatever the name fits regardless of how we chose it.

true story: i took like twenty pictures of the cat in this red laundry hamper, all of them blurry, david takes one and it is both not blurry and the cat is looking at him

Calvin has now joined us in the new apartment, which is pretty much a chaos zone (much like my life right now).  He’s helping us slow down and enjoy taking moments to play with him or sit and pet him.  We took this picture at 10:45.  Moments before I said, David I’m tired, let’s go to bed.  Then David put him in the hamper and we watched the cat try and try and try to get out of the hamper only to have it bounce back in his face.  It was super cute and made me forget how tired I am/was.

escape attempt #50

While it’s true that Calvin is an adorable and lovable cat, the above picture is probably the most accurate representation of him.  He’s still pretty skiddish and a little scared of us.  Once we pick him up and hold him, he’s like oh yeah I really like this and then he’ll hang out for like an hour, but as soon as you put him back on the floor he forgets everything, freaks out and hides behind the bookshelf.  We’re hoping he grows out of that once he gets more comfortable in the apartment and around us.