Friday, August 30, 2013

To My Mama Friends

I have some great mama friends!  I know that everybody thinks that their friends are the best, and they probably are the best for you, but I want you to know that I've found my tribe.  The only problem with my tribe?  We all live so far away from each other.  My tribe is located in Cleveland, Berlin, Indiana, Chicago, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Minnesota, Florida, California, Washington D.C. area, and several other places that I'm sure I'm forgetting.  With all of us being so spread out, I sometimes get these awesome-sauce e-mails from my friends about the other mothers in their chosen area.  Yesterday I got the one below from a friend who wishes to remain anonymous.  The contents of this essay are the reason that we can be friends.  Enjoy! 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To my Mama friends:
There is a growing trend among my playground group that has me worried.   Mothers I know are increasingly more reliant on the internet to make any decision regarding their children.  They simply have no confidence in their decisions without an 'expert' telling them they are correct.
Whether it concerns the best activities for a six month old's fine motor skill development, the impact on using the perfect verbiage to build self esteem, or the ideal age for team sport participation, the moms I know are using the internet as a constant crutch for their parenting choices.  Constant.
And I get it.  I do.  No one wants to be the subject of some scary tell-all book/movie à la Mommy Dearest, right?  We want the best for our kids.  So, the best they will get.
But is that truly best for them?  I hate to question such a sincere dedication to one's offspring, but let's be honest-  Is the internet reallythat helpful in being the best parent we can be?
I can't lie.  I'm the first to hop on WebMD when my kiddos aren't feeling well and I've yet to be connected with their pediatrician.  I read mom blogs.  I even used to subscribe to the mom websites that seem to proudly tout their one-stop shop for all things baby. 
I'm finally realizing that I can't keep up.  There will always be a new study.  There will always be new methods.  All this constant Googling does is lead me- and I suspect others, too- into being a neurotic control freak of a mother.  This is a race I simply can't win.  True to my stubborn nature, though, rather than lose it entirely, I am dropping out.  I'm reclaiming my confidence in parenting. 
My children's birth certificates do not list BabyCenter, Mothering, TheBump, even the almighty Google.  But they sure as heck have myname on them.
Because here's the thing- there are two things that I can tell my children.  I can tell them:
You are breakable.  You are flimsy.  The slightest mistake on my part will cause this whole façade to crumble away and you'll be left with irreparable damage.
OR  I can tell them:
You are strong.  You are resilient.  Yeah, I'm going to screw up, but you're tough and you can handle it.  You'll get through my mishaps just like I got through my mom's mishaps and she got through her mother's.  That's the way of life.  It's not perfect.  But it's worth it.
No, I don't hold a doctorate in child psychology.  I didn't just finish my latest research on the effects of internet usage among mothers with toddlers.  I'm just another mom.  No credentials.  No accolades.
And frankly, I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

#iPPP After School

School ends for Mayzie at 11am.  We promptly eat lunch and then she lays down for a nap.  Sometimes I take a nap too, but more often than not I'm working on something dissertation or postdoc related.  By the time Mayzie wakes up, it is almost time for Annika's bus to drop her off.  There are about 15 minutes of every week day when Mayzie wants to stand outside and watch for her sister's bus to come around the corner.  It is the most adorable thing ever to see her face light up when she sees that bus.

Here she is waiting for the bus to arrive:


Annika always comes home completely famished and wanting to eat everything in the kitchen as quickly as possible.  Some days, she gets lucky.  Some days we make something special and sweet for both the girls to eat after school.  This day it was brownies:

After school time is so special to me.  It is the time that I get to help with homework and hear about their days.  It is the time that we get to cuddle on the couch because they are exhausted from all that learning and playing and doing.  It is the time when I remember just how lucky I am to be able to be here for them to come home after school.  My parents weren't that lucky.  My flexible schedule of working whenever I can makes me available to them in a way that I couldn't be if I had an 8-5 job.  I love that about being a grad school mommy, and I want to appreciate it while I can.  I know this after school gig won't always be great and I might not always be able to be here for them at this time.  But for now, just now, I'm reveling in the happy smiles that come my way as Annika bounds off the school bus and gives me and Mayzie big bear hugs. 

Hooking up with Greta and Sarah for their weekly #iPPP.  

GFunkified

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bored...Not Me

As a SAHM and graduate student, I don't get bored very often.  I always have things that I SHOULD be doing, but I also try to make time to just relax.  When have a slice of extra time, this is what I like to do.

10 Things I like to do to stave off boredom

1. Knit
I LOVE to knit.  I honestly start knitting Christmas presents in January and typically have to finish them all up as quickly as possible in December.  I always have at least 2 knitting projects going at a time in case I need to switch it up.  Confession: I knit while watching TV so that I feel like I'm still being productive.  Type A anyone?

2. Write lists
I have so much going on right now, that keeping up with my own schedule can be difficult.  I always have running lists for things that need to get done by a deadline.  If I ever think I might be getting bored, I start making other lists like: Things that need to get done around the house, Cleaning tasks, shopping lists, long term goals, goals for the week, etc etc etc.  I think you get the point.

3. Pinterest or Etsy Surf
Hi, my name is Hillary, and I'm completely addicted to Etsy and Pinterest.  There, I said it.  You can follow me on both.

4. Read a book
My best friend, who also has a PhD, told me that the one thing she missed in grad school was reading for fun.  She advised that I always keep a fun book going on the side.  I took that advice to heart, and have always one going.  I even started a book club with a couple friends so that we could talk about the books we read together.  Currently we're reading Amy Tan's The Bonesetter's Daughter.  It happens in 10 minute increments usually, but I love that little escape.

5. Hold a living room dance party
Oh yes, sometimes the only cure for boredom is to get up and shake our booties!  The girls love it, and I usually work up a little bit of a sweat.  Bonus: tiny workout!

6. Get outside
Nature always changes my perspective.  Slowing down and listening to the sounds of the birds and watching my girls find bugs with their magnifying glasses reminds me that chilling out isn't such a bad thing.

7. Ask my girls what they want to do
I LOVE this game.  I love to hear what they come up with.  Currently, they keep trying to nonchalantly suggest that we go back to Holiday World, the local theme park.  More often than not, they want to go to a playground or go get ice cream.  I'm always down for both of those things!

8. Call a friend
I love randomly dialing my friends all around the country and surprising them.  It is so much fun to hear their voices and to catch up.  I tend to keep friends that I love for a very long time, and keeping in touch with them, even if only occasionally, is really important to me.  I love random phone calls from long out of touch friends too, so being the one to call makes it all the more fun.

9. Organize or clean something
That's right, I don't just make lists about what needs to be done.  I also actually do things.  I'm not talking major projects, but sometimes the cabinet under the sink just needs to be reorganized.  Sometimes I need to go through the pile of papers and actually put them in the filing cabinet.  Sometimes the refrigerator just needs to be cleaned out.  If I think I'm bored, that is when those things happen in our house.

10. Play on my iPad
Yes, I do play games on my iPad.  I like to play word rush (kinda like boggle) and any puzzle games.  I refuse to even try that Candy Crush Saga because I KNOW I'll get addicted.  I also really like to peruse the local real estate on Zillow and check the news on Huffington Post.  This isn't even counting the games I play with the kids on there, but that's a separate list all together.

So there they are, 10 things that I do to stave off boredom.  I am quite rarely bored, but it does happen.  I really wish for bored days sometimes.  Being bored is also a chance to get lost in your own thoughts, and lost in thought is sometimes where my best ideas come from*.

Bored?  Not me!


*PhD Comics is one of my favorites, despite totally embarrassing myself in front of the guy who draws it.  That is a story for another time though.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

40 by 40 List

My fellow LTYM cast-mate Heather Sokol is an awesome-sauce work-at-home Mama to 4 kids.  She is hilarious, an expert over at Babble, and is always the center of attention in every room I've ever shared with her.  She's raucous and TALL and I <3 her so much that I wish we lived closer so we could hang out and drink copious amounts of wine and laugh together more.  Alas, she is 3 1/2 hours away.  Heather wrote this amazing list of 40 things she wanted to accomplish by the time she turned 40.  I was in awe just hearing that she did that, but then I read her actual list.  This girl is ambitious!  I love a girl with chutzpah, and Heather's got it.  I HAD to know more.  Luckily she was gracious enough to allow me interrogate interview her about the list.  She's like famous y'all and she has 4 kids, so her taking the time to answer my silly questions really means the world to me.  So without further ado, here's Heather in her own words.  


You can connect with Heather on Pinterest and Twitter @JustHeather too!

1. Did you know that if you google "40 by 40 list" that your blog is the first thing to come up?  You must be inspiring many of us 30-somethings going through our own identity crises.  How do you like being a hero? 

Wow. I actually didn't know that, but I'm thrilled if my list helps inspire others. It was a winding, arduous journey of discovering who I wanted to be when I grew up, and I am honored to think that I may have a small part in helping others do the same.

2. How did you come up with the idea for the list and your personal list? 

I can't take full credit. I found a 30x30 list on a now defunct blog, and I just loved the idea of a timeline for all those "someday" items. It took me most of a year to even come up with 40 items for the list. I was stuck in this rut of being nothing more than a wife and mom, but I knew that I had to be in there somewhere. The list ended up being a mix of things I've always wanted to do and things other people were surprised to find I'd never actually done. I tried to avoid things I felt like I should do because this was my chance to be a dreamer.

3. How do you feel about where you are on the list now?  Were your goals realistic, overly ambitious, insane, or perfect for you?  

At first, I was very task-oriented with the list. It took awhile for me to realize that as long as the spirit of the list was on track, I was successful. Now it's not really about goals so much as remembering to get out of my comfort zone now and then. I will likely never hit all 40 items, but I'm doing things I never thought I would, learning a lot about who I am and who I want to be, and that was the real point.

4. Did you post the list anywhere other than your blog, like in your house or on your desktop?  

I didn't, partly because I didn't want a list of things I couldn't accomplish staring me in the face when things weren't going well. When I'm working towards something specific, I might put a photo on my computer desktop. Mostly, though, I just check in on the blog page whenever I need a reminder or a feeling of accomplishment in seeing the crossed off items.

5. Now that you are closer to 40 than you are to 30, would you revise the list in any way?

I often revise the list, actually. Sometimes I'll look at an item on the list and realize it is there for the wrong reasons or I've outgrown the need to do it. Other times I'll think of something I should have added and it nags at me so much that I end up scratching something to include it.

6. What advice would you give to those of us thinking about composing our own lists?  

Before you think about what you want to put on your list, spend some time thinking about why you're starting it in the first place. That will help you compose the list, stay true to its purpose over the years, and feel more accomplished even when you aren't checking things off.

7. If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why?  

I need some kind of super seeker power. We're always losing things around here - shoes, homework, car keys. I think I could about 2 hours back into each day if only I had the amazing power to find things immediately.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Just Keep Swimming

Long term goals are hard to keep up with.  It is so easy to walk away from a project that you know you won't finish in one sitting or in one year.  By the time I graduate with my PhD in May, I will have been in graduate school for 8 years.  That is one major long term goal that I'm checking off the list.  A good friend in grad school once told me that a PhD is a degree in literacy and persistence.  I completely agree.  Yes, I set short term goals for myself, mostly because I feel better when I have boxes to check off.  I feel more accomplished.  

Intellectually, I know that getting a PhD is impressive, but I regularly forget it.  I'm remembering now more, since I'm no longer surrounded by my fellow PhD students and professors all the time.  Getting a PhD isn't for everyone.  Heck, most days I'm not sure it is for me.  Everyone I know with a PhD has at some time felt like they are an imposter and/or like they should be doing something else with their lives.  Existential crises aren't specific to academia, but we certainly have perfected them.  

But I won't be deterred by the overwhelming-ness of it all.  I won't let the long term goal and all the work it will take to get there scare me off.  I will do it.  I will do it.  Instead of the little engine's model of "I think I can," I choose to know I can.  I choose Dory's way of thinking, "Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming.  What do we do?  We just keep swimming."  
Yeah, that's the perfect motto for now.  

On a completely separate note, I'm going to be really sad when the pool closes and we can't go swimming in the afternoons after school any more. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

2 Years Ago

This week, Mama Kat challenged us to: 
Open your picture folders, close your eyes and pick a random photo to share and write about.


I have to admit that our pictures are sorted into pretty little folders.  This is just another symptom of my hyper-organization.  This picture is 2 years old, though it feels like a million years ago.  


This is from the crazy summer before we went to Germany.  This is from the summer that was filled with panic attacks, late nights at cafes, and too little time with Andy.  It was the summer of Tali working as our part time nanny, and Mayzie saying her name before she said Mama.  It was the summer that I crammed in my qualifying exams as quickly as humanly possible.  It was the summer of Mayzie's diaper rash from HELL! We made plans and more plans that summer, and it actually all came together in the end.  We had no air-conditioning, save for the window units in our bedrooms.  But it was great.  Looking back I spent glorious amounts of time in the backyard watching our girls scamper through the sprinkler and dunk themselves in the kiddie pool.  We had a swing that hung from a high branch and the girls would fly through the air as fast as I could push them.  Annika was 3 and Mayzie was 1, and I was trying so very hard not to take my stress out on them during the days we had together.  We took too many trips to the zoo to count, and found every cool spray park in a 20 mile radius.  It was a summer that I want to 1/2 remember and 1/2 forget.  I'd definitely like to forget the part when my last living grandparent died and my advisor chastised me for missing a deadline because I was attending her funeral.  (Yeah, that really happened.)  

This picture is from the part I want to remember.  I want to remember the good times we had together.  I want to remember how this was the summer that my girls really started to discover each other.  I love their faces in this picture.  Don't they just look like they are conspiring something?  Now they really do conspire together, and it usually has to do with waking me up or trying to get away with something.  Here they were still so young.  Mayzie only had a few words and Annika was still sputtering her sentences.  I loved and hated that summer in the same breath sometimes, and spent far too many afternoons crying on the floor in my office instead of enjoying my time.  I felt guilty for wanting to work when I was with my kids and for thinking about my kids while I was working.  (Isn't that the paradox of every working mother?)  It was a summer study in contrasts, and my girls went through it all with me.  I'm so very thankful that they didn't have any long-term memories at that point! 


Mama’s Losin’ It

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Play Dates #iPPP

I love a good play date.  
The following conditions are required for a good play date to occur: 
1. Free-flowing conversation that can be interrupted easily, totally nonsequitor-esque, and still great. 
2. Non-judgement of parenting skills from all parties
3. Kids who don't completely antagonize one another, and perhaps even play well together. 
4. Location must be kid friendly and stress reducing (NOT inducing)
5. Punctuality: be there within 15 minutes of said meeting time, 
6. Regularity: Once a week is perfect
7. Know when to quit!  Even if the conversation is flowing, if the kids start melting down, you gotta stop. 

On our last play date, Annika decided it was fun to climb the bicycle rack.  
Major props to Kristen for both not judging AND for knowing that that's just Annika. 

Group pictures are obligatory, but cooperation is not.  Annika just wasn't having it that day. 
Don't Evan, Alex, & Mayzie look cute though? 

Earlier this week, Mayzie had a much different kind of play date.  
Here she is playing with Ms. Beliza, the jaguar at the Mesker Park Zoo.  
Mayzie would touch the glass and climb up on the display area, and Beliza would reciprocate.  Mayzie was completely un-phased by the gigantic teeth or the fact that she was playing with a deadly cat through a glass surface.  She giggled and had fun while a boy in a stroller behind us screamed in horror.  Granted, this didn't follow all my above rules, but I definitely loved this play date for different reasons including the high cute factor.   

For me, play dates are important.  They remind me that I'm not in this parenting thing alone and that everybody's kids are a little wacko sometimes.  They keep me a little more sane when I'm craving adult conversation, and make me so happy to always have something to do with the kids on those days.  We've explored more because of them.  We've discovered places we didn't know before.  We've even learned all about how other people snack, which is always fun since my kids naturally want whatever snack the other group has.  Most of all, play dates help me learn new parenting techniques, and don't we all need new ways to deal with the same old dilemmas that we face day in and day out?    

For my girls, play dates are important because they learn to interact with other kids that aren't the exact same age as they are.  They teach them how to share and that things aren't always fair.  They are challenged to come up with new ways to deal with new situations, and that is an invaluable tool I hope they carry with them always.  

As most Tuesdays, I'm linking up with my girls Greta at Gfunkified & Sarah of The Sunday Spill
GFunkified

Monday, August 19, 2013

Transitions

Transitions aren't always easy.  In fact, sometimes they are downright difficult.  Last week was one of those difficult transitions for me personally: both of my girls started school on the same day.  

Annika on her big day

Mayzie on her big day

There aren't any pictures of me on their first day; it wasn't pretty.  My babies are growing up so quickly.  It snuck up on me, them leaving me at home in peace and quiet to actually work on my dissertation during the day.  I didn't get much work done that first day though, as I was too busy looking at baby pictures and trying not to act lonely without any small child demanding snacks and attention.  By the time I had to go pick up Mayzie from preschool at 11 a.m., I had finally gotten it together enough to look like I hadn't been crying all morning.  

Annika took the bus to school on the first day, which only mildly frightened her private school educated father.  She had a fantastic day, or so the note from her teacher said.  She's so very excited to be earning "cash" for her good behavior, but is absolutely peeved that they have monkey bars on the playground that she's not allowed to use until after Christmas.  (For the record: I don't get that rule either, but I didn't say that to her.)  Her favorite part of school so far is recess, and she never remembers what they had for lunch.  She does come home completely famished and begging for snacks, so perhaps she isn't eating much while she's there. There was a moment of panic when Annika forgot to get off the bus after school, but a quick call to the school and 10 minutes later, and she was home.  She now gets a personal bus stop on the way home, I think because the driver took pity on me upon seeing me dragging Mayzie to the stop every morning.   Oh Annika.     

Mayzie only went to one day of preschool last week, but she had a great time.  This week she'll go the usual 3 half days, and I'm anxious to see how she does.  Despite being quite precocious and verbose at home, she was completely silent on her first day at school.  She really does need to warm up to people to get talking in general, but I expected her to at least speak to her teacher whom she had met previously.  She did at least come home and tell me all about how school went and what they did there, so that was nice.  

We are in the process of changing from one state or condition to another: in transition.  It's not just the girls who have started new chapters, I have as well.  I've finished another dissertation chapter, or at least mostly.  I wrote an essay for a graduate student paper competition and I'm slowly reshaping it into a full chapter.  I'm also starting to write applications for postdoctoral positions.  I'll be applying for 8 different postdocs in addition to writing an NIH RO1 research grant.  I have no idea which of these great opportunities I'll be able to take advantage of, but at least the waiting will be filled with dissertation writing and picking up smiley girls from school.  The limbo and waiting will be that much more tolerable this time than last time because of the fact that there are multiple different outcomes that would be favorable, and they are all different.  When we were waiting for my dissertation funding applications, the only desirable outcome was to get enough money for us all to go to Germany.  If you ask my MIL, there is only one desirable outcome: us staying here.  If you ask me, I'll tell you that I know that no matter what the outcome is, we will be happy.  If we can move our family to Germany for a year, we can do anything.  

Transitions can be difficult.  The settling in period will be filled with fits and starts and rethinking and rescheduling and growing pains.  Andy moved into a new office today to commemorate his new promotion.  We are all in transition.  We're getting rid of our double stroller.  We're moving out of that stage of our lives, and that is a good thing.  We're trying to find our balance again, but fully aware that true balance won't be a reality until after this dissertation is completed, defended, and passed.  But there is joy in the transition; Joy in the feeling of things moving forward and knowing that they will turn out how they are supposed to.  For now, I'll revel in the transition and work as hard as possible when I can.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

And So It Ends...

Today is the end of one of the best summers of my entire life.  It has been a busy busy summer.  Instead of lamenting the end of a beautifully wild warm summer, I would rather celebrate the joyous season that it was.

We kicked off the summer with an awesome trip to Holiday World where we thoroughly enjoyed the water park, free sunscreen, free drinks, and loads of fun trying to scare our girls on the rides. 

We had numerous playdates with our new IRL friends of Taming Insanity infamy.  They love to play dress-up too, and KZ is awesome-sauce, so it was a perfect fit from the beginning. 


Annika got to go to four different camps, and the final one she got to attend with her sister at the Children's Museum of Evansville

Remember that trip to DC that I got to take without my kids?  Well, I also got to see some amazing old friends such as my previous grad school office-mate Prisca.  I seriously LOVE this lady! 

Andy & his mother (aka Nana) had an adventure in gardening that did NOT turn out well due in part to these lovely fellows that we found on the tomato plants. 
In case you were wondering, that is a horn worm.  They were about 4-5 Inches long and at least the circumference of a nickel, fat and disgusting.  They were REALLY well camouflaged and hard to find, but the girls really loved playing with them and then sending them into the lake for the fish to eat.  

We went to the Zoo more times than I can count, and the girls had a great time every single time.  Here they are playing in one of the misters on a very hot day.  

I got to hang out with my BFF Theresa more this summer than in the past 7 years combined.  That was so great!  Here we are at her family's cabin by a gorgeous lake.  We actually got to go without the girls and had a great time just sunning ourselves, eating way too much food, and jumping off the sun-deck into the lake water to wave at passing boats.  I also got to go to see NKOTB with this girl, and we reminisced about our favorite new kids and all the paraphernalia we used to have.  (My favorite was and will always be Jordan Knight, in case you were wondering.) 

Speaking of Cabins, we also got to go the Melch family cabin weekend this year.  We had so much fun tubing with the girls and cruising the lake with the whole family.  We ate too much and slathered sunscreen on like it was our job.  The kids had a blast collecting tiny frogs, and we all remembered how much fun we have together.  Chad and Andy had so much fun that they passed out on the couch after dinner one night--normal for Chad, but unusual for Andy.  

Our dear friends from Cleveland Meagen & her son Sean (Annika's previous boyfriend) came all the way down to visit us.  Andy was kind enough to put all three kids to bed one night so that Meagen and I could drink some beers at our favorite local brewery and talk like the old friends we are now.  My personal favorite topic we discussed: the definition of a hipster.  

While Meagen & Sean were here, we kept our usual Taming Insanity playdate, and even managed to score ONE picture (out of at least 30 taken) with all the kids' faces in it.  It isn't perfect, but it perfectly sums up the chaos that our lives are most of the time.  

Did I mention that we went camping again with another family that we love and had a super-fun though mosquito infested weekend with them?  
Just typing all that out makes me exhausted, and that's not even counting all the trips to the pool, etc etc etc that we fit in too. It was the most amazing summer, and we intentionally made it so because we knew that it was the last one before both girls will be in school.  

Tomorrow begins the school year for both our girls, and the fall will eventually show up full of sweaters and jeans.  Mayzie will be attending preschool 3 half days a week, and Annika will be in Kindergarten full time.  The morning routine rush out the door begins again, and I'll spend my evenings packing bags.  Weekend time will fill up quickly, as it always does, and this next season is sure to fly by in a different wave of busy.  

For now, I'm still living in my sun dresses and loving running before the heat of the day becomes completely oppressive.  The highs are mostly in the lower 80s, which feels nice now.  The nights are cooler now, and we know that this lovely season will fade sooner than we want it to.  Don't get me wrong, I love the fall.  It is my favorite season actually.  This summer has just been so outrageously amazingly fun that I don't want it to end.  Could I have fallen in love with summer again simply because we finally have central air for the first time in 8 years?  I think there might be a connection.  Whatever it is, I'm a little sad to see it go.  

GFunkified

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

FAQ of Mama PhD Students

These are the top 5 questions that I get asked as a Mama PhD student.  They are in no particular order, and numbers 2-4 are asked of every PhD student that ever was.  

1. How do you do it all?
I DON'T.  My house is pretty much a wreck in need of some serious scrubbing at all times, and PBS Kids might actually be turning my kids' brains into mush.  Honestly, I get a whole lot of help from not only my husband (who is so much more than an equal partner and really does carry a BIG load for me) and our family and friends here.  These folks are the reason that dissertations have acknowledgement pages!

2. When are you going to be finished?
I don't know, so please stop asking.  Ok, so I really do know, but this question is just a little bit rude.

3. How's your dissertation coming?
For a proper ettiquette answer to this question, please see Jorge Cham's fabulous PhD Comic.
My personal answer: "It's coming along just fine." No matter how it is coming, this is what I will always say.

4. What are you going to do when you're finished?
I'm having trouble with this one right now the most.  This question makes me feel like a 6 year old whose parents are asking, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  As the holder of a PhD I have a whole bunch of different options open to me, many of which require long applications which then result in long tedious waiting periods.  I'm keeping all of my options open by applying to postdoc positions, writing a couple of grants, writing chapters with articles in mind, and researching jobs outside of academia too.  It is a long long process, and frankly I'm not sure exactly what I want to do.  I'm seeing what my options are when I get the yeses and nos back, and THEN I'll make a decision.  There's no point in counting my chickens before they are hatched.  BTW: Nobody likes this answer, so sometimes I just say, "I don't know," if I see their eyes start to glaze over in boredom.

5. What about the kids, are you just going to move them wherever you get a job then?
YES.  Isn't that what most parents do?  Why are academic parents any different.  I'm lucky in that my husband the computer geek will be able to find a job anywhere we go, and he's pretty open geographically (though the coasts would take some serious persuasion on my part).


This is the face I try to avoid making whenever someone asks me any of the above questions. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Germania Volksfest

The west side of Evansville is VERY proud of their German heritage.  Every year they have a Volkfest to celebrate in real German style, and we just HAD to check it out.  Naturally I was a little skeptisch; after all, we DID live in the real Germany for a year.  I was excited to see the American interpretation of German tradition, which almost always means only Bavarian tradition, but oh well.  

The first surprise: I got carded!!  I was so ecstatic to get carded that I made Andy take a picture of me with the guy who carded me.  He was appropriately named Kurt and was wearing Lederhosen.  


As soon as we walked in to the Germania Maennerchor hall, it felt more German already.  There were rows and rows of tables filled with people eating sausages and the smell of sauerkraut in the air.  Beer was flowing in abundance and there were kitschy German proverbs painted on the wall.  I instantly started speaking my German niceties, and nobody even batted an eyelash.  

See: kitschy German proverbs. 
My translation: "Where people are singing, you can relax.  Bad people don't have songs." 

The beer tent was definitely authentic! 

Andy chowed on pig's knuckles and cuddled with his favorite co-worker. 

David and I had a GREAT time doing the chicken dance with a crowd of old people!

Sponsored by REAL German beer that they actually served. 

By the end of the night, Kyle and Andy were seriously over me taking pictures, but I'm chalking it up to the amount of beer that they consumed in the few hours we were there. 

The need to work on their ticket spellings though! 

It was a beautiful night to be outside drinking beer in a celebration of German culture.  The lack of glass glasses and broetchen certainly gave the location away, but I adored the atmosphere anyway.  Perhaps a new tradition is brewing in the Melch house!  I MUST mention that Annika & Mayzie were at Nana & Papaw's house for the night, which is what made this whole outing possible.  Thanks guys!  

So 2 thumbs up for Germania Maennerchor's Volksfest 2013!  #WeAreEVV

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pinteresting, very very Pinteresting

"You own everything that happened to you.  Tell your stories.  If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should've behaved better." Anne Lamott

My life has been a little crazy so far.  I recently figured out that I've moved an average of every 1.7 years in the past 34 and have called at least 4 different U.S. states and 1 foreign country home.  This is nothing compared to many of my friends, but I'm only counting the places that I've actually stayed long enough to get mail.  Going around the block a few times I've gathered more than a few stories.  Some of them are pretty hilarious and some aren't so pretty, but all of them are mine.  They come from my experience.

This is why I LOVE this Anne Lamott quote.  Whenever I worry that I'm going to offend someone with my writing, I read this quote again.  As with all things, I want to take the long view and try to think about how I will look back on my experiences in the end.  I want to live without regret.  I want to have the courage to write the words that are on my heart and not worry about how they are going to make anyone else feel.  I don't want to shy away from controversy or typing up a tale just because it displays the bad behavior of someone I know.

So when I write about my advisor being a curmudgeon and questioning why in the world I would get pregnant a second time during my PhD, I know that this doesn't paint him in a rosy light.  But it is the truth!  He really did behave that way.  It hurt my feelings at the time, but now of course I laugh about it.

Someday when I get up the gumption to write about my first stepdad and the torture he put our family through, I won't put it out there in black and white.  I will put all the colors out there for the world to see, and I might not even change his name (though I worry about slander a little bit).

When I write about my kids in all their hilarity, I can only hope that they forgive me for being so forthcoming.  I hope they just roll their eyes and maybe even guffaw at me for my audacity.  I'll take that over some pat smile and nod for my efforts.

So thanks Pinterest for reminding me just how amazing Anne Lamott is, and for keeping her inspiring words ingrained in my consciousness.  This is me...ok, so it is a couple months old, but I like the sentiment of this picture.  My mascara is smudged and you can almost make out the circles under my eyes.  This is me all dressed up and being silly.  I took this picture just after my LTYM debut (that you can see on YouTube now btw).  So behave around me, because I WILL tell this story too!


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