Tuesday, December 23, 2014

This Magic Christmas

I used to hate Christmas.  I used to hate being shuffled between families back and forth, as is the plight of every child with divorced parents.  I hated it.  Yes, we had fun with our families when we were there, but something about being handed over in a McDonald's parking lot in Bardstown, KY seemed to take some of the magic out of it for me.  We got plenty of presents.  We ate plenty of sweets.  But that one hour ride between grandparents' houses made me loathe a holiday that most people enjoy.  I was a grinch, a scrooge, whatever you want to call someone that hates the holidays. 

Then I had children.  Children change you in a million inconceivable ways, many of which you don't even notice until someone points them out to you, but changing my mind about Christmas was noticeable and notable.  Changing my mind is a very difficult thing to do.  I am not easily moved once I make up my mind about something, and hating Christmas was something I had been doing for most of the years of my life.  Andy had been cajoling me about it for years, but it wasn't until I saw the pure joy of the season for my girls that my mind surrendered to the change.  

This year.  This year has been the major turning point in this change.  This year the girls are 4 & 6.  These are the magic years.  These are the years that are imprinted on your mind, with all the big things making impressions.  These are the years that parents want to remember, not because they are easy, but because they are filled with magic and wonder and curiosity.  These are the years when Santa Claus is real and a magic elf really does stay in our house and report back to him.  

These are the years when we do silly dances in the kitchen and nobody is self-conscious about it.  Goofiness emanates from your pores and you feel all the feelings ever so openly and heavily.   You are confident in your decisions and don't let anyone else's opinion shape your own of yourself. 

You are so fully yourselves in every situation, you girls.  You girls.  You light up my world and make it a better place to be. Which is why this Christmas is so special to me.  You are the most adorable and amazing tiny humans I have ever known and I feel so lucky to be able to say I'm your mother.  You will never know how much I treasure as many of the moments as I can.  Believe me, I try to forget the tantrums and breakdowns too.  We are not perfect, but we are perfectly wonderful just the way we are right now, all of us.  

So this magic Christmas I know that I will cherish for many years to come.  I know that we live in an apartment right now, but that's gonna change soon.  I know that we don't have a ton of money, but we have what we need.  We have enough and that is plenty.  You know only joy and plenty my dear girls and watching the magic through your eyes is what made me realize the error in my previous Christmas hating ways.  

So Christmas Eve, late at night while you are sleeping, we'll put all the presents under the tree.  We'll stuff your stockings full of tiny gifts and have trouble falling asleep because we can't wait to see your faces.  The pleasure of watching you open presents feels so precious to me, and I can't express the warmth it spreads in my heart to feel your little arms wrap around my neck and thank us.  I can't wait to spend the whole day together as a family.  I can't wait to go to GG Janie's house with ALL the Melch clan and watch all the kids cavorting around together.  I will take it all in with a genuine smile on my face.  

At the end of the day, I might cry a little because this magic Christmas will be done.  Next year will be great too, but after that one of you might not believe any more.  These are the years I want to cling to and wrap up in a time capsule so I can dig it up on a rough day in the future.  These are the years of magic and wonder and curiosity.  These years, they are the ones I will hold extra precious in my heart.  I know there will be great years to come later, but these magic years are few and I can't imagine anything being more fun than this right now. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Snow Day

Oh southern Indiana, you gotta love it.  Last night we got about 3" of snow which translated to early morning phone calls from superintendent's letting us know that school would be cancelled for today.  The Cleveland girl inside of me balks at the ridiculousness of cancelling school when you can clearly see the road that you are driving on, but the Hoosier girl inside me knows that southern Indiana is ill-prepared to deal with any amount of snow because they are in serious denial about preparing for things that don't always happen here.  The girls rejoiced and I cringed.  I knew that I had a class to teach today at a university that was very unlikely to cancel classes.  I knew that I basically only needed my girls to be watched for 50 minutes so I could talk to my students about sexual health.  

Did I ask for help?  Of course not.  The optimist inside me won out when debating whether to call someone to watch the girls, so instead I opted to take the girls with me to my lecture and bring along some coloring books & toys to occupy them for the mere 50 minutes I had to work.  I really thought they might sit in the corner and color.  I really thought they might actually be good listeners for me.  I really really was WRONG.  

Here they are about to go outside and burn off some energy before my class: 

I made them go outside and play in the snow twice before we left.  I made sure they were fed lunch and had some just-in-case snacks along too.  I packed a bag of toys and such to keep their attention.  Little did I realize that 44 college students are much more entertaining than bags of toys.  

I should have realized my little entertainers would succumb to the temptation to make the whole class laugh.  What I couldn't have realized was what they would do once they got their first laugh.  

This week in my health and wellness course we are covering sexual health.  Thankfully today was not the sexual behaviors and STI lecture, rather the anatomy, physiology, and relationship lecture.  My students were remarkably quiet for a Monday even.  I put up a picture of the external female genitalia and none of them even wanted to say what it was.  Annika, being the over-achiever that she is, promptly raised her hand and announced to the class, "It's a vagina. Duh!"  The entire room erupted in 1/2 laughter and 1/2 gasps.  Apparently it is both hilarious and appalling that my 6 year old knows the proper name to call her junk.  Who knew?  

Annika was hooked.  She proceeded to spend the next 45 minutes dancing in front of the class, writing funny things on the chalkboard, and interrupting me to ask questions like, "Can I call on the next person when they all raise their hands?"  Yes, Mayzie also interrupted me a couple of times, but mostly to ask me to help her with something like the sweet little 4 year old she is.  Annika was a terror of holy proportions.  

It was stressful.  It was embarrassing.  It was hilarious...though admittedly I am only laughing about it now hours later.  

Lesson learned: Ask for help when you need it and NEVER count on your kids to behave when you need them to because that is the moment they will choose to prove you wrong every time. 

Snow days were so much better when I was the one getting the day off! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

What's up?

Hey there.  I promise I didn't forget about you lovely readers.  Things are in motion, and moving quickly at that right now.

Yes, I'm on the job market.  I've applied for jobs all over the country again: academic jobs and industry jobs and all manner of jobs that I am qualified for because of my degree.

Yes, I'm also teaching at the University of Evansville.  I'm teaching 2 sections of the same class, and I'm loving it so far.  I love teaching.  I love being around college students' energy.  I get them, and I have so much fun talking about health and wellness issues with them.

Yes, I'm working as a doula.  I've been attending births, and they continue to be as amazing as anything I have ever witnessed.  I will be attending one more birth for my DONA certification, and will be a certified doula before the end of the year.  But there is something else going on with my doula life.  I'm starting a group business with 2 other local doulas!  This is super exciting for so many reasons, not the least of which is because we'll get to be on a call schedule and we can take on more clients together.  Check out our group website: http://thedoulagroupofevansville.weebly.com/

Here I am all ready to head into my first C-section! 

September 1st, we moved to a new apartment in Newburgh, IN.  If we end up staying here, this is where we will buy a house.  That is one reason for the move, but the other reason is the SCHOOLS! We loved the teachers and administration at Annika's last school, but the other students and parents definitely left much to be desired.  We LOVE the new school! Annika loves the new school.  All things considered, like the fact that we moved approximately 5 miles down the road, we are very happy with where we are right now.

Andy got a new job! While he did love his old job, he had started to get a little too comfortable.  This new company sought him out and he made the move to a bigger company with more responsibility.  At the beginning of his 3rd week, he's still a little overwhelmed, but slowly easing into his new position.

The best news: The girls are both doing GREAT! Mayzie is still at Totten Hall and loving Pre-K.

Annika is an awesome 1st grader who is already reading at a 2nd grade level & rocking her short do. 

So, what's going on in your neck of the woods?  Busy busy with school days?  Eating bonbons on your couch while watching as much HGTV as possible?  

Whatever is going on with you, I hope you are well.  I will definitely try to write a bit more often, but no promises at this point. :-) 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Improving Birth Rally: 9/1/14 in Evansville, IN

Labor Day Monday September 1, 2014: Inaugural Rally to Improve Birth in Evansville, Indiana
Join us from 10am-noon at the Four Freedoms Monument on the Riverfront to Rally for evidence-based care and humanity in Childbirth. 
Find us on Facebook: 


Learn more about the cause: 


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Of Vomit & Barium

Our two adorable children figured out the sick role very quickly.  They know when they are sick that I'm going to dote on them and that all responsibility pretty much goes out the window.  They also happen to be a little bit enamored with our family doctor.  Yes, I agree that he's pretty great.  I mean, why else would we take them there?  But herein lies the problem.

As children, they don't really have the ability to understand when we NEED to go to the doctor for an illness or boo-boo.  Mayzie is a cry-er.  She cries every time she gets bumped even a little bit.  I soothe her, and she calms down while typically telling me "I'm ok" through her tears.  Annika on the other hand, is a complainer.  She'll complain about things hurting and directly ask if we can go see our doctor.

This leads me to my story about Annika.  Earlier in the summer, she was attending camp at her school.  She was vomiting at camp fairly regularly, in part I thought to get to come home, though I'm not sure she's that conniving yet.  So she missed some days of camp and we went about our lives like normal, because she was acting completely normal.  And then camp ended, and she was still vomiting.  It was getting to be about 4-5 times a day.  I was concerned.  So we made an appointment to see the doctor.  He told us it was probably just nerves, but to come back if it didn't fade away in the next 2 weeks.

Luckily, we had our annual check-up appointments exactly 2 weeks later.  Lucky, because the vomiting didn't stop.  Andy said I was making too big a deal about it, but the doctor had me worried and I really hated to see my baby puking all the time.  So the doctor looked at her, and wrote us a referral to go see a gastro doctor where they would do an upper-GI on her.

Cut to 2 days later, when I'm running around the hospital from building to building trying to figure out where the heck we are supposed to be because the lady on the phone just rambled it all off to me while I was trying to keep my kids quiet enough so that I could hear her while they were swimming.  (Hmm, I wonder why I couldn't hear the details?)  4 offices later, we finally found the right place.  They took a blood sample from Annika, for which she got a stuffed animal for being such a good patient.  Then they took her into a gigantic x-ray room.  There was a window so Mayzie and I could watch the whole thing.  They had her drink barium and we could watch it go down into her belly.  They then had her run around for a minute and then step back onto the machine so they could see the barium emptying into her small intestine.

Mayzie loved watching the whole thing and kept repeating, "Mama, look, I can see Annikas GUTS." Annika actually asked the technician if she could take the barium home with her because she liked the taste--apparently a first for him ever.  Then the doctor came in and said everything looks great.

So what does that mean exactly?  Does this mean that I completely over-reacted and shouldn't have been concerned at all?  Does it mean my kid has nerves that make her puke?  If that's the case, does that mean we need to get her counseling or something?

And then, magically, the vomiting stopped.  She hasn't puked once since the barium-extravaganza.
And now I feel like the overly worried mom who can't tell the difference between serious and non-emergent medical issues.

What would you have done?

In other news, Annika lost her first tooth this week.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Post-PhD Syndrome

I went to see the doctor recently due to some of the following symptoms.  This was my diagnosis.

Symptoms: extreme fatigue, lethargy, & complete lack of motivation to do anything, often coupled with extreme opposite symptoms of mania, hyper-activity, and motivation to do everything.

Possible Cause: The body's reaction to being in fight or flight mode for the years of being in a PhD program pursuing those 3 letters after your name.

Prognosis: development into a more extreme syndrome likely, such as:
     -get-a-job-anxiety syndrome
     -I-don't-want-to-do-anything syndrome
     *Also possible: I-can-do-all-the-things syndrome

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Things Happened

So it has a been a while since I posted, but I assure you that is because lots of things have been happening.  No, I will not talk about the ubiquitous busy-ness that is so pervasive in our daily speech that we now answer busy instead of fine.  I digress.  Here are 5 of the things that have happened since I last posted: 

1. Annika turned 6 and we had an awesome Fox-themed birthday party.  

2. We went camping with friends and Annika got smoochy with their son.  It was adorable, for now. 

3. Annika had her last day of Kindergarten, and I didn't even cry.  

4. I GRADUATED with my PhD!!!!!!  Here I am with my fellow Anthro-grad Dr. Sarah.  Love her! Marvel in our doctoral greatness with those fancy robes for 30 seconds.........that's enough.  

5. We had a graduation party, and Andy made me my very own beer with a name-nod to anthro-theory. 

My MIL even got a cake with a nod to my blogger name on it. 

Here are my adorable babes before the party began...aren't they sweet? 

And here's my awesome MIL who actually catered a Chipotle-esque menu for the party that was DELISH! I can't thank her enough for that party.  I'm seriously lucky y'all! 

So this is some of what I've been up to lately.  
If you go look at my 40x40 list, you'll see I've crossed a few things off now.  These include graduating, learning to sew, switching to natural cleaning products, planting a vegetable garden (on our veranda nonetheless), and going on vacation with just Andy.  Yay!  
I've also started down the path of becoming a doula.  I've attended 1.5 births (to be explained later), and am going to a DONA training in 2 weeks.  

I told you things happened! 
Wheels are in motion.  Time is marching on. Life continues uninterrupted, moving forward regardless of whether I'm ready for it or not.  Bring it! 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Girls' Weekend

Before the weekend even started, Mayzie was all tuckered out and not willing to take a nap.  "I'm not tired mama," turned into passed out on the couch very quickly.

Andy went camping with 2 old friends.  They decided to rough it in Illinois; Garden of the Gods, which is a gorgeous place for hiking in the Shawnee National Forest.  Here he is getting all decked out. 

What's a mama to do with her girls all weekend?  Take them on a road trip of course! 
Here is Annika waiting patiently to leave on Saturday, doing her ball maze.  I'm always just amazed when she'll sit still for more than 5 minutes, and this thing is genius. 

First stop: Robin's baby shower.  Robin and I have known each other for what seems like a million years.  We went to HS together and were roommates in college for a year.  She was actually my roommate the year I met Andy, and immediately liked him.  She also happens to be the most adorable pregnant lady EVER, which makes me only mildly jealous.  

We piled back in the car, only to realize that one of the tires was flat on my SUV.  I got some help changing it, which actually killed me a little bit because I'm a seriously independent woman.  I'm proud to say that at one point 6 men were watching me put the spare on though. 2.5 hours at PepBoys later, we were back on the road.  All I have to say about that visit to PB was THANK GOODNESS for free WiFi & for me remembering to bring my iPad.  

We spent the night at my brother and SIL's house Saturday night, and the girls actually stayed up until midnight...or at least I passed out then and they were still awake.  Cousin time is awesome, but morning comes really early for girls who stay up that late.  C'est la Vie! 

The next morning we drove to Fishers to catch up with my BFF from HS and her brood of 4 kids.  It was a really short visit, but soo awesome to finally see her and her family after more than 5 years of phone calls alone.  Is there anything better than catching up with old friends?  I think not!
Here we are together:

The final leg of our girls' weekend was taking my mother to see this years Listen to Your Mother show in Indianapolis. The show was amazing.  We started crying almost immediately and laughed enough to make my belly sore the next day. 
Here I am after the show with my fellow cast-mates from last year.  

After the show, we drove back to relieve my SIL who had been watching the 4 girls (2 hers, 2 mine) so I could take my mom to the show.  We said our goodbyes and drove back to Evansville just in time for baths and bedtime.  

This past weekend was epic, and I LOVED it.  All the things I got to do would not have been on Andy's list of things he ever would want to do, so it was great that he was off having his kind of fun with the boys.  Waves of appreciation washed over me as I drove home: appreciation for old friends, appreciation for family, appreciation for the ability to travel, appreciation for fast food, appreciation for girls who seriously behaved themselves VERY well, and appreciation for having such a great life.  
This is one weekend I won't soon forget! 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Let the job search commence...again.

I went through the academic ringer known as the job search this past fall.  It was torture, but apparently I'm going back for more.  Yes, that's right, I'm going back on the academic job market in the Fall.  Why wait until Fall?  Well, that's when all the jobs get posted.  Despite the fact that I will apply for umpteen different jobs in academia, I won't even know if I get an interview until late November at the earliest.  If I pass that round, then I might be invited for a campus visit where I'll give a lecture to the entire department and meet with all the professors individually (maybe schmooze a little bit too).  If they like me, then MAYBE I'll get a job offer by the end of March or April.  That's right, I'll apply in September and know if I got a job by the end of March if I make it through the whole process.  This is a daunting process, and severely anxiety producing.

On the other hand, I've already started applying for jobs outside of the academy.  So far, like I mentioned previously, we plan to stay here for another year.  I've been keeping the applications local.  I'll keep substitute teaching and doula-ing in the meantime, which I don't mind at all.  We're not totally strapped for cash, but we also haven't had to start paying back my student loans yet either. OUCH, that is gonna sting.

The point is: PLEASE for the love of dog PLEASE stop asking me what I'm doing next.  I quite honestly have NO CLUE at this point, and just the question causes me a great deal of worrisome anxiety.  I'm trying, really trying, to just go with the flow.  I'm working on a couple manuscripts for journal publication.  I've turned in a grant application for a research project I could conduct locally.  I'm even turning in yet another postdoc application next week---sooo close to done.  No matter what you are imagining that I'm doing with my time, you are probably wrong.  I'm still working for Eli Rose too, which I'm enjoying immensely doing from home.

So that's the dish on my job search.  We'll see how it goes.  I know that I can dazzle in an interview, I just have to get called back in the first place dammit!

On a completely unrelated note: I was the Queen of the recent Evansville Mom Prom!  Yes!!! Mom Prom was put on by the local ICAN chapter, and was such a blast!

My girls have been fighting over the tiara ever since it came home.  
What did I win you ask?  A free makeover from a professional make-up artist and a free mother's day photo shoot!  Yeah!!!  
I also won some great stuff from the silent auction!  All around, everyone agreed that I did all the things and was the luckiest winner of Mom Prom EVER!  Gotta love it. 

What one question is nagging you at the moment? 
What's your favorite thing you ever won? 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I've been doing things...I swear

I threatened it before, and now it is official: I'm becoming a doula!!
I even have a webpage: http://hillarysdoulaservices.weebly.com/
If you live in the Evansville, IN area, and are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, I would LOVE to talk to you.

We also formed the Doula Group of Evansville: http://doulagroupofevansville.blogspot.com/
We basically back each other up all the time and offer different sorts of services other than just birth attendance, such as help with baby-wearing, breastfeeding, placenta encapsulation, and more.  Yes, some of this is super crunchy and not everyone's thing, but we all sincerely believe that everyone who wants a doula should have a doula.  And when our doula powers combine, we become Captain Doula, or something like that.

I became one of the leaders for the Evansville Birth Network, which is this great group that meets once a month to talk about birth and babies and all that fun stuff.  I'm really excited to join the leadership of this group, and hope to expand our reach to more expecting moms in the Tri-State area.  I'm also excited to be able to do a little bit of volunteer work again, something that I've missed doing very much since my girls were born.  (Whoa, it really has been that long!)

My dissertation revisions are...almost done.  Like, so close to done I can taste it.  I WILL be finished with them by Tuesday evening, thus giving my advisor a week to hack it up again and me another week to finalize it.  Fun stuff.  But seriously, you can call me Dr. Melch now officially.  I believe once you pass your oral dissertation defense that becomes official, though don't quote me on that.

I've been substitute teaching.  So far I've only done it a couple times for some German classes, but it is admittedly more fun than I had anticipated.  If you know me, you know that I love interacting with adolescents.  (I know, weird right?)  The best part of each class is standing up front and introducing myself in German while their faces form into the "HOLY CRAP SHE SPEAKS GERMAN" look.  I LOVE it.  Don't get me wrong, I don't love it enough to want to become a high school teacher or anything, though the thought has crossed my mind and Andy's lips several times.  I'm just doing this for a little money right now while I'm looking for my grown-up job.

The job search is slowly grinding to a real start.  I'm planning to go back on the academic job market in the fall, which is both exciting and scary.  Exciting because, I could land a much coveted tenure track position, and scary because the whole process takes almost a year and we'll be in limbo that entire time.  I'm also applying for jobs outside of academia, which to me is even more scary right now.  I have an interview this week for a job here in Eville, so we'll see if my skills might actually be employable outside the ivory tower.  If not, I'm happy to cobble together a measly existence until the right job comes around.  By measly, I mean teaching adjunct at a couple local colleges, substitute teaching K-12, and following my passion for doula-ing.

We've committed to living here for another year, but we're moving to a new apartment in a new school district in August.  Annika's had a great kindergarten year, but we're going to move to the school district where we'll buy a house if this ends up being our permanent location.

So that's what I've been up to lately, besides the usual play dates and bon bon eating that goes along with being a mom.

What have you been up to my bloggy friends?

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Great news from the world of academia: I passed the oral defense of my dissertation!
Yes, I will have to make some revisions to this draft of the dissertation, but overall the comments were supportive and helpful to my development as a scholar.  I'm over the moon happy that this whole process is almost over.  I get to walk in graduation on May 18th, and then walk a few short blocks over to a street fair where several musician friends will be performing.  What better celebration could there be???

So that is the good news.

The bad news: I only get 2 tickets to the actual graduation ceremony.  I guess Andy and my Mom will be the only ones in actual attendance, which will just have to work.  This also means that we get to find a babysitter for the time during the actual ceremony.  Luckily, we know a few friendly faces who might want to chase our girls while I'm getting hooded.

So that's what's going on with me.
I'll be spending the next month or so making the revisions to my dissertation and trying not to sweat it.

A very serious question:
Will I now be Dr. Mama Melch or Mama Dr. Melch?
Typically in academia the most prestigious title comes first.  In this case, I'm not sure which is more prestigious.  Tell me what you think!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Top 10 things I Miss

In no particular order

1. I miss being able to walk out the door worrying just about me.

2. I miss being able to go out on a Saturday night without procuring childcare.

3. I miss wearing pants without pockets and high heels just because I want to.

4. I miss 1 cup of coffee being enough in the morning.

5. I miss leisurely mornings that didn't involve getting other people dressed.

6. I miss being able to cuddle with my husband in the morning without someone climbing on us.

7. I miss making really spicy food for dinner.

8. I miss being able to watch adult shows in the middle of the day.

9. I miss jetting off somewhere for the weekend by myself and/or with Andy.

10. I miss being able to fix my hair and put on make-up without having to answer 50 questions at the same time.

But I would miss so much more if I'd never become a mother!  I regret nothing!!!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Homes I've Had

21 different dwellings in 35 years.  This is only counting the places where I have lived for one month or longer and have received mail.  I have moved an average of every 1.7 years in my life.  That number seems a little scary to me, especially considering how not great I am at moving.  I KNOW that this explains my current yearning to buy a house and settle down in one spot for a while.  These are the places I have lived:

1. Sandborn, IN: This is the house that I was actually born in and where I lived until I was almost 4 years old.  I hardly remember it at all other than a few of those vague sitting at the top of the stairs pictures in my mind.  I could however tell you the entire layout of the house for some reason.

2. Yorktown House: I turned 4 in this house and lived there until I was 11.  I only remember my parents fighting in this house, and it was the setting of their divorce.  The house was lovely, but definitely tainted by all the sad memories I associate with it.  There were many many happy times too, like the garden in the backyard and the awesome tree for climbing.  We had a street full of kids our age to play with and a dead-ended street to ride our bikes down.  It was a great spot really.

3. Muncie House: From 11-13 I lived in this house with my Dad, Stepmom #1, Brother, and Stepsister.  This was the house where I got to come home after school and be by myself.  This was the house where my dad redid our closets so that we could crawl from ours into our brother's.  This was the scene of my greatest and worst prank ever.

4. Yorktown House: When Dad & Stepmom #1 decided we needed more room, we moved to this house.  I lived there from 13-18, and had a humongous 13'x13' room all to myself.  This is where I hatched my plans for the future.  This was where my brother got kicked out a mere 2 years after we moved in.  My last year in this house was spent alone with my Dad, who started my senior school year by getting a divorce from Stepmom #1.

5. Minneapolis Dorm: The start of college.  I met lifelong friends here.  I did debaucherous things that should probably be forgotten, but really just make fun stories to tell amongst old friends.  I learned how to take care of myself away from my parents, and learned to live far away and love it. I came home at Christmas to be in Dad's 3rd wedding.  I knew I would never go back to house #4 to live again after that.

5. Florida House: The summer between my first and second years of college in MN, I lived in Florida with my Aunt and Uncle.  I worked 2 crappy jobs, made friends, and had a great time.  I wrote loads of bad poetry by their pool and smoked secret cigarettes.  I learned so much about myself that summer, and seriously fed my love of writing and travel.

6. Minneapolis Dorm: My 2nd dorm in MN was also so much fun.  I had a great time living there and found myself in trouble with paying for school.  I was in denial, but would eventually figure out that I would have to come back home to IN.  I finished the school year and then moved into our...

7. Minneapolis House: I spent one summer living in this crappy little house with 6 bedrooms and 5 roommates.  We had a whole lot of fun and did very little other than that.  2 German friends came to visit us there, and we taught them about being poor American college students.  It was FUN.

8. Cadiz House: I moved from MN into my mother's house, where she still lives.  I sunk into the worst depression of my life and contemplated suicide.  I worked the worst jobs of my life and partied like it was my 3rd job.  I spent a month traveling abroad with my earnings, and finally figured out that I had to make a change for me.  So I moved into my Dad's...

9. Florida House.  I spent the summer living with my Dad in Florida.  He had moved into a new giant house and was in the process of divorce #3.  I dated a VERY handsome boy and spent many nights watching sunsets and drinking cocktails.  1 German friend came to visit me there and we went to the beach almost every day.  It was fun, but I knew I needed to get serious, so I moved into the...

10. Bloomington house.  5 of my friends were living in this house, so I moved in with them.  They were all getting ready to start their senior years of college, and I wanted to get back in the game.  I lived here for a summer, working and having fun before I moved in with my best friend to our...

11. Bloomington apartment. My first real apartment with just me and my best friend.  It was a basement apartment with horrible cream-ish carpet, but it was ours.  We made so many memories there! The next year my friend Robin moved in, and then I met Andy.  We got engaged in March and then in May I went to...

12. Norderney.  I worked as a waitress at a cafe on this German tourist island in the North Sea.  I didn't have a cell phone, and Andy could only call me on the house pay phone once a week typically if we wanted to talk.  It was a great summer, but I missed him so much. After 3 months I went...

13. Back to the same Bloomington apt, but with Andy living there now! We lived "in sin" with our good friend Heath in the other bedroom of the apartment. We got married the next summer and spent a month living in our friend Gavin's spare bedroom because of a lack of overlap in our leases.  Then we moved into...

14. Our married Bloomington apartment.  It was a tiny 1 bedroom, and it was all ours.  That next summer I went to live in...

15. My Berlin apartment in Kreuzberg.  It was a very odd apartment indeed, but I was there for research.  I lived with this guy named Jacob, but we never really got to be friends.  Oh well.  I was only there for 2 months and then I went back to our...

16. Married Bloomington apartment.  We spent that year gathering credits to graduate and applying to graduate school.  I got into CWRU, so we moved to our first...

17. Cleveland apartment.  It was the 2nd story of a house and really cute with great landlords...and then came winter when our heat just did NOT heat the apartment at all.  Seriously, it barely made it into the 50s inside most days and we had that baby cranked up to the max.  So the next year we moved to our...

18. Cleveland duplex.  It was HUGE.  We shared 5 bedrooms with another couple to keep costs down, and had an amazing first year there.  Annika was born at the end of that first year there.  The second year we lived with another friend who had a baby while there, not in the house, but a new baby came home to live there with ours.  That next summer a different friend came to live with us, and by the end of the year I was pregnant with Mayzie.  The beginning of our 4th year in that house she was born, and then the real madness began of me writing funding proposals and a dissertation prospectus without any childcare.  It got done is all I'm going to say about that. So then we moved into our...
19. Berlin Apartment.  It was in Zehlendorf.  It was tiny: around 600 square feet.  It was owned by a lady who was very particular about her things, which made me pretty much constantly nervous about ruining anything.  But it was great in the end.  We spent a year there, and then moved back to...
20. Andy's parents' house.  Andy was there a month before I arrived with the girls.  We then all stayed for about 2 weeks, until we found our own place...

21. Our Evansville Apartment.  By the time we move out, we will have been here for two years.  It's a nice apartment, but we're ready to be homeowners at this point.  We want a place of our own.

The catch right now: we aren't exactly sure where we're going to be living next year.  Wherever it is, it will be great.  I'm sure of that mostly because I know who will be there.

So that's it...those are the 21 different places I've lived in my 35 years.  Appropriate for the 21st of February don't you think?

How many different places have you lived in your life?
Does this list scare you too?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cool Things My Friends Do

I have some seriously amazing friends.  I wanna give a shout out to a few of the most inspiring ones that I know.  Here goes, in no particular order of course.

Emmylou is a super dynamic and hilarious woman that I know from our Cleveland Anthropology-Physics connection.  (I realize the weirdness of this association, and we're all fine with it.)  Emmylou is originally from Darwin, Australia.  When Annika first met her, she asked, "Do you know a kangaroo."  Emmylou said, "YES," and it was love at first sight for Annika who is filled with wanderlust and wonder.  Emmylou's husband graduated with his PhD, and they decided to celebrate.  How?  With a trip around the world!!!  How amazing is that?!?!?!  I've so enjoyed following their adventures on Facebook.  I only wish she wrote a blog about it, though her stories are always better in person.

Speaking of world travelers, there's my friend Amy who I've written about before I believe.  She's a native Hoosier who's been living in New Zealand for the past two years while her husband has been doing a fellowship (or was it his residency? hmmm) in neurosurgery.  Yeah, she's married to a brain surgeon.  Oh yes, and did I mention that they moved there with 3 boys and are coming home with 4?  She's also a work-from-home mom who runs and is impossibly gorgeous and sweet.  She inspires me all. the. time.

Then there is Kelli who also went to high school with me.  She is also beautiful and sweet and has 4 kids.  She's a runner and a nurse, and cans food like a boss!  I LOVE following her adventures in taking 4 kids to the grocery store alone, and her grace and appreciation of the little things in life inspire me to be a better mom.

Keeping with the awesome mom theme there is Emily.  Emily and I ran cross-country and track together in high school.  She is now the mother of 8 children...yep 8...AND their family just adopted 3 little ones under the age of 3.  That's 11 children if you're keeping count!  She is one of the most patient people I have ever known, and I know that is coming in handy now that she has 11 people's needs to fill.

What can I say about my friend Kristin.  First she has a blog that I love to read.  Second, she has 2 fun boys that I love to snuggle.  Third, she is a sarcastic pain-in-the-ass just like me.  Fourth, she and her business partner own Eli Rose Social Media, which she basically does while standing on her head and juggling flaming rocks...aka: while also being a work-at-home mom.  They even hired me to do some contracting work for them, which I'm loving by the way.  This woman keeps me sane here in Eville, and I don't know what I would do without our playdates...seriously!

Finally, for this post anyway, I want to give a big round of applause to my friend Maggie in Berlin.  She let me stay at her house last year when I went to visit, and helped keep us sane while we lived there.  She is a tri-athlete, a very serious one, and a mom to two adorable girls the same ages as ours.  Their family moved to Berlin not speaking any German, and they are making it work there!  She's even going to start working as a lactation consultant there now that she speaks better German and can get her qualifications recognized.  Mags, you rock! She occasionally blogs, and you can see her get interviewed around minute 15.

I think I'll save the anthropology friends for another post, especially since these 6 ladies certainly deserve much applause for all they do.  So ladies, I tip my hat to you.  You are AMAZING and I hope you know that I admire you for all you do!

Monday, February 17, 2014

My 40 by 40 list

Originally I thought I would post this on my 35th birthday, but that has come and gone and I was buried in a mire of dissertation madness at that point.  I'm finally getting around to publishing it.

I came up with the idea from my LTYM friend Heather who made up her own list and let me interview her about it.  I even pilfered a few of the ideas from her list.  I don't think it cheating to have already accomplished some of the things on the list, especially because there are so many more ripe for the picking.

Without further ado, I present to you my readers: My 40 by 40 list.
I have less than 5 years to accomplish these things, but I'm hopeful I can do it.
I promise to report on all these things as they happen.
Like the time we went zip-lining.

Keep checking back for updates friends.

Here is my first attempt at #16...still not accomplished, but a nice start (and a great model)!

Friday, February 14, 2014


Today is my dad's birthday, so it's only appropriate that I write about him instead of some schmulzy stuff about the live of my life. BTW: whenever my dad says anything about Andy, by usually follows it up with, "and you be nice to that man. He's a good one!"

Let me start by saying that my dad is far from perfect, and he'll be the first to tell you. Including my mother, he's been married 4 times. I like to think of him as an eternal optimist and believer in true love. #4 is our favorite for him, so much so that we told him we'd keep her if he ever divorced her. But thus isn't about the awesomeness of Val, I want to write about my dad.

My father is one of the most patient people I have ever met. I've honest to goodness only ever had him raise his voice to me a handful of times in my entire life, which used to be frustrating to me but now I appreciate it. Just never go skiing with him.

I can always count on my dad for sage advice when it comes to parenting, and he is an outstanding listener. He always told me growing up to get the most education I could, because that was something no one could ever take away from you.  I may have taken that one a little too much to heart, but I know he's so proud of my academic accomplishments. 

My dad is a fisherman.  He's still learning about saltwater fishing, though he HAS lived in Florida for years and years.  Dad is also a geriatric social worker, and by that I mean he talks to elderly people not that he is one yet...though he IS 65 today.

My dad is sweet and sensitive and weepy when it comes to his family. He has OCD, more compulsive than obsessive  which is sometimes annoying, but somehow my step mom seems to keep him busy enough with projects around the house to keep it mostly in check.

My dad is one of the most fun people in the world to travel with. He's always up for an adventure anywhere, & he's only now starting to maybe meet any sort of physical challenge he can't defeat. I certainly got my wanderlust from him.

I lived with my dad from the 6th grade until I left for college, and can say with some certainty that he is one of the worst cooks in the world.  His dry chicken, tuna noodle casserole, and chitlins might be the reasons I became a vegetarian 16 years ago.  Thankfully Val takes care of him now in that department.

That is my Dad in a nutshell. I really do love that man with all of my heart, and I'd better since half of me IS him for sure. I wish we got to see each other more, though Skype helps that some.  I was so lucky to have such a great example for a father, and I credit him for my ability to NOT have a daddy-complex and to be able to pick an awesome mate for myself.
Love you poppy! Xoxoxo
(Please stop crying already dad!)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I'm BACK!!!

Soo much has happened in the past month that I'm not exactly sure where to begin.  Perhaps I'll dip my toe into the water with some shorts.

I turned in the first draft of my dissertation on February 1st!
It is 360 pages long, for now.
I spent so many hours at the local Starbucks that they know my name now.
30: number of pounds I gained from sitting on my butt for months straight. !

4: number of presents that I've knitted since Christmas
1: number of new (to us) cars that we bought recently
___: number of jobs that I've applied for...I don't think it polite to share.
3: number of school systems where I've applied to be a substitute teacher
1: number of part-time jobs that I just started! Yay
2: number of times I thought my children were going to die.
1: number of times I was afraid for my own life.

I think these two actually deserve stories.

Annika was eating a hotdog.  She started choking.  I gave her the Heimlich maneuver and the hotdog went flying.  It was a scary moment, but a true crisis was averted.

Then it was Mayzie's turn to scare her mother.  The girls were playing around on the floor upstairs.  Annika bumped Mayzie, completely on accident, and it sent Mayzie tumbling down the staircase.  I stood at the top of the stairs completely helpless, and screaming at the top of my lungs as my baby toppled down the stairs all the way down to the linoleum at the bottom.  Luckily the front door was all the way open and she didn't crack her head open on it.  We were all shaken up, and there were bruises, but apparently Mayzie's bones are made of rubber.

This past weekend, it was my turn.  I was on my way out to my brother-in-law's house to work on my dissertation in a quiet place.  As I made my way down his road, I was driving about 7 miles per hour due to the crazy ice.  I crept up to the 90 degree turn to his house, and the car just kept going straight into the bushes of his neighbors' house.  It was scary, but for me the actual scary part was what could have happened.  I was pinned into the car by the bushes, but those bushes may have actually saved my life.  You see, these bushes were on an 8 foot tall deeply angled cliff.  Had those bushes not been there, I would have rolled.  I crawled out the passenger side door, and was shaken up.  Thankfully, my brother-in-law and his neighbor easily pulled me out of the bushes.  Scary, but it could have been MUCH worse.

Back to the dissertation...This is what is left of the process:
1. I go to Cleveland to defend my dissertation in front of 4 (hopefully not vicious) professors.
2. I file a bunch of papers.
3. I graduate with my doctorate in May!
4. We PARTY!!

Andy's pretty bummed that he won't be able to come up to Cleveland with me for my defense, but my mom's going to come with me.  A road trip with my mom will be nice though.

So what's been going on with you?
Any big news that I missed?

Here's my car after the bush incident.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


I return for a brief moment from my dissertation cave to write in appreciation for 2013.  FYI: I've been given a reprieve and now have until February 1st to finish...which is both good and bad and for another post all together.

2013 was an AMAZING year for sooo many reasons.  Here are the top 10 great things that happened in my life in 2013 in no particular order: 

1. I donated my hair to Locks of Love & started giving blood regularly again. 
2. I went back to Berlin for 2 weeks to follow-up with my participants and see all my friends there.
3. I made a TON of new friends.  2 ladies even live right here in Evansville, and many many more in Indianapolis because of #4. 
4. I read an essay in Indianapolis' inaugural Listen to Your Mother performance. 
5. We took our kids to Holiday World and had a BLAST. 
6. We went zip-lining underground in Louisville for our anniversary. 
7. Andy got promoted at work. 
8. Annika started kindergarten & Mayzie started preschool. 
9. I attended the American Anthropological Association meeting in Chicago where I presented a paper, participated in a roundtable, and got to see a whole bunch of great friends including my blog buddy Marianne
10. We got a few new things including a FREE TV that I won at Andy's office Xmas party, a FitBit Force for me, and a new (to us) car.  

I hope 2014 can live up to the amazing year that 2013 was, but I'm guessing it will.  I'm already looking forward to graduating in May and taking a much deserved vacation with just my husband for our 10 year anniversary.  I'm planning to finish a book manuscript too.  I want to run another 1/2 marathon, and keep donating blood because both of those things make me feel great.  Who knows, maybe I'll even be gainfully employed and start paying off my student loans by the end of the year too.  Bring it 2014!!

I do also need to add a couple more things to 2013 greatness like the weekend with the whole family at the lake house, stealing away for a night to our friends' lake house, friends coming to visit from Cleveland, and getting to see NKOTB with one of my childhood besties, both girls learning to swim, etc etc etc...What a GREAT YEAR!!!  

And now I retreat again to my dissertation cave for 26 more days.

and I always will be in my heart. 


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