Monday, July 25, 2016

The land of choice

Hello blog friends!

It has been a long time since I blogged, but I decided to dust it off for an election season post.

The current national election stage is heated on both sides, with so much in-fighting in each party that they have barely been able to begin general election campaigns.

In the meantime, the state primaries are August 2, and so I thought I would lighten things up a bit by sharing some of the contents of my state primary ballot.

Top seat is the U.S. Senator. Including the incumbent who has been in office since 1992, we have 17 people running for the privilege of being one of the top 2 candidates that proceed to the general election. Although we do have a fair representation of Democrats and Republicans lining up to challenge her, there are many small affiliations. Among the most interesting:

The Human Rights Party
Conservative Party (different from Republicans)
Standupamerica Party (yes it is one word)
Lincoln Caucus Party
System Reboot Party

One of the Republican candidates is listed as Uncle Mover. Apparently he owns a moving company and at some point legally changed his name to Mike the Mover. He has run many times. Perhaps to shake things up, he has again legally changed his name, this time to Uncle Mover.

For Governor,  we have 11 on the ballot.
Goodspaceguy wants to abolish the minimum wage in favor of allowing people to sell their labor. He has no problem calling constituents losers. As far as his name, he wants to colonize space. He has run for just about everything on the ballot. I will let him speak for himself:
Goodspaceguy Interview from last year's Port Commissioner race.
In addition to Goodspaceguy and the usual parties, we have candidates representing:

Socialist Worker Party
Fifth Republic Party
Holistic Party

We also have 11 people running for lieutenant governor, although there is some concern that some of them might not know what the duties of lieutenant governor are.

In more local politics, we have a guy running for office who has these credentials: attorney, accountant, Professional Engineer, U.S. Patent Agent, general contractor, and successful CEO of a high technology company. He has doctorates in Law, Medicine, and Computer Science.

I don't know how he has time to run for office, let allow hold a seat! 

This fellow is not in my district, but he has what must be the worst road signs ever produced. This is on a highway where people drive between 60 and 70 mph. It isn't even as large as a typical candidate sign. And it is placed behind someone else's sign. He really needs to find a better graphic designer. 

Let the Games Begin!! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Figuring it out. With bonus brunch recipe

I am one week into my new routine.
I am working on these goals: stronger willpower, more family closeness, and more productivity.

Stronger willpower. I had some ridiculous successes in this one! I went to bed early every night. I got up before 6 am. I was sick on Friday and I still pushed myself to work. I was still sick this morning and fully intended to sleep in, but then this little voice pushed me awake, and we went to church. We have started attending a new (to us) church. 

This is a huge thing for me. I have been so burned by religion in so many ways, that to reach out to one and want to go, especially when sick, is enormous. I have been meditating nightly. 

Other goals to work on in this: eating better, spending less money, and exercising more.

More family closeness. I feel like we had a really good week. A lot of good and productive talks. The sermon today was on the importance of being present. That spoke to me and I am trying to do less multitasking and more single tasking. This week we plan to spend time with each boy and help them come up with their own goal sheets and plans. 

Goals to work on: continue setting and enforcing boundaries with them, having game time, and cooking together more.

More productivity: Sticker charts for the win! I am embarrassed at how motivating my little charts have been. I have also been working on forgiving myself when I don't achieve some arbitrary standard. I have been remaining off of social media and news sites almost completely during the week. I am using Rescue Time  and am allowing myself to get competitive with me. 

Goals to work on: sticking with it now that the semester has begun, getting up at 5:45. And the big one: carving out reading time. I have books I want to read on productivity, parenting, and generally being a better person. I also want to read for fun. I don’t seem to have time for anything but the quickest reading right now. Although I do tend to sit on the couch quite a bit from 6 am until about 7:30. Maybe I should bring a book with me. But I would also like to make that a more mobile time. Hmmm….

My big burning question still remains: how do people accomplish all the parts. 

I know there are people that do. People who are achieving adequate levels of exercise, work productivity, family time, household organization, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and fun time. How does that happen? I have been working like a dog to get my work productivity on tap, but I still have some organizing to do in the house and garage. And the house overall isn't as clean as I think it should be. And I want to cook more. And I haven't really left the house socially hardly at all this week. These don't feel like giant, lofty goals, and yet I can't fit them all into my week.

Next week I will tell you about my new color coding system. I am pretty excited about it. But I will leave you with a recipe that I made up on the way home from church. Luigi helped me make it and it was delicious.

Egg Bake
Greased 9X13 pan. I am not 100% sure about the cook temp and time. We did 25 minutes, then 10 minutes at a time until it was done. Started at 350, then turned it up to 400. I would say start at 400 and start checking about 25 minutes in. It is done when the eggs aren’t runny.

Lightly toast 3 English muffins. Put them down as your first layer.
Pour 1 cup half and half over the muffins.
Sprinkle chopped spinach and sliced mushrooms over the cream.
Layer thin sliced ham or other lunch meat of choice, to cover spinach.
Crack 10 eggs over the ham, evenly distributed.
Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese on eggs.
Sprinkle fresh cilantro over cheese. I also added a Mediterranean spice blend and some salt and pepper.
Bake until done. So easy and so good. I am going to try to do it as a make-ahead next Saturday night.
Not the prettiest dish in the world, but we didn't mind

We were going to add potatoes, but realized they would need to be cooked for longer. So Luigi sliced them thin and fried them on the side.
I hope everyone has a splendid week!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Easing into it

I didn't get up at 5, but I was out of bed by 6:04 am, which is really impressive for me. Especially impressive when you realize it is still dark at 8 am. :( There wasn't even a sunrise, just clouds. I will give myself one here:

I am going to keep inching my wake up time earlier until I hit 5.

I apologize to all of my readers that I keep forgetting about this blog until school is out. I like blogging and should try to be better about keeping it going.

This seems like the silliest thing, but I am finally (4 1/2 years in) approaching my graduate school work like a 9-5 job. When working from home with little outside accountability, it is easy to let the work slide. First thing is class needs: prepping classes, grading assignments, responding to students. Next is family matters: appointments, shopping, planning, housework. Then there is the dreaded magnificent distraction machine- facebook, email, news, news, news.

I have given myself a paradigm shift. I am accountable to me as my boss. On the days that I am home on weekdays, I have to give myself at least 6 hours of uninterrupted work on either articles, projects, or dissertation. It sounds simple, but I have to tell myself this. I can take breaks, but I must do at least an hour of work 6 times per day. This week I have 5 days (today was my first day and I accomplished my goal). Next week I will only have two days. I will have to find strategies to work productively in my open shared office.


I am doing a hard thing: I intend to finish a PhD in 6 years, while working as a TA or RA every semester. My thesis was qualitative, which takes longer than quantitative, and my dissertation is mixed methods (which takes longer), using two time-intensive methods-self-designed survey and interviews. I am also doing all of this while raising three kids (although not alone on that, thank God) with very little hands-on social support, and three moves, while supporting a husband who is dealing with depression, his own school, and a shaky job situation/career path. None of this is easy. But I am on track to finish on time, and I intend to do so, while also getting a good job in place. In order to do all of this and survive, I must buckle down and get some discipline. Which is why I am turning in at 9:45 pm (striving for 9, I will get there). Good night!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Whack a mole

We are at the whack a mole part of the new paradigm.
I spent much time cleaning the kitchen, but haven't gotten everyone on board yet, so while I am doing something else, they mess the kitchen and don't clean after themselves. I spent time organizing the living room, meanwhile the laundry has piled up. Now there is laundry to wash, dry, fold, and put away. Lving room looks great, but laundry has popped up and needs a whack. But we are also trying g to get to bed earlier, which means no laundry folding tonight. Meanwhile, my schoolwork mole has popped up and I have interviews to do, stuff to write, research to do. But then there is the exercise mole. And the spending time with kids doesn't happen all by itself. And to get the house in order, there are certain things that need purchasing. But I am also trying to save money.
Throughout all of this, I am sticking to a few main goals. Focus on serenity. Breathe more, yell less. Start each morning with a motivational video, end each night with meditation. Believe it or not, these things are helping. 
I have created a vision board (feels a bit hokey, I have never done such a thing, but I am up for trying new things this year). Seeing goals can really help, I think. I have also made myself a daily goals board, complete with stickers. And now, thanks to this blog post, I get a sticker for my writing goal today :) and here are some of the books I intend to read through this year.
This is me, starting somewhere.
I hope everyone has a great week this week. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year in Review- 2015 Year in Anticipation

2014 was not a great year for me. It wasn't a bad year, but neither was it triumphant.

There were no major educational milestones hit, there was an unexpected move, there was an admission of failure on the homeschooling front, there was a desperate need for more friends and socializing, but precious little time to cultivate it.

However, there were moments of awesome.
I got to see 3 of my sisters!

And some redwoods and sea lions.

I got to see a good friend and her cats and meet her good man. And see Seattle.

I got to make new friends and professional connections. I was able to sneak in some time with old friends as well.
I climbed to the top of Beacon Rock and only got scared once

I walked part of the Golden Gate Bridge and didn't get scared at all.
I had the supreme good fortune to witness my children grow another year into the people they are.
We all enjoyed good health.
I became the mother of an adult.
I designed and taught 4 unique classes.
I got to guest teach at my alma mater, which filled me with so much joy.
I had students confide in me, I facilitated student learning, and I received a round of applause at the end of my most difficult class. I view teaching as an incredible privilege and research as the thing I have to do in order teach.
I collected nearly all of the data I need to write my dissertation.
I began to volunteer at the humane society, doing work that really fills my soul.

Looking ahead to 2015, I want to make some changes. I want to ramp up from good to great. I need to do some fine tuning. 2014 felt like a year on hold. 2015 will be a year of action.

My intentions:
I will think and see more positively. I intend to start each day with a short motivational video to help me get in a more positive mindset. I truly believe that I have the power in me for greatness. I need to tap the potential.

I will watch for ways to help others achieve their goals and do what I can. When I have a good impulse, I will act on it immediately if possible, and not let the small negative voice shut it down.

I will get my house in order and keep it that way. We moved into this house sight unseen in August. The lay out is odd and the space is small for us. I am currently reworking the spaces to make them work for us. I want us to love our home.

I will write some immediate, short term, long term, and life goals and figure out what steps I need to take to reach those goals. And then work towards those goals. I will write the goals in places that I can see them. I will create (in the words of Robin Sharma) a pristine bubble of total focus on my most valuable opportunities.

I will help the boys find activities and social circles that truly feed their souls.

I will help Pete find his career path and go for it with all his might.

I will turn my eyes towards physical, mental, and spiritual health. I will exercise at least 5 times per week. I will meditate every night. I may join the 5 AM Club  (I am on a bit of a Robin Sharma kick today). I will figure out what eating healthy looks like for us and work towards it. I will read more and Netflix less. I will spend less time online and more time with family and friends. I will institute game night. I give church another try.

I will write every day. I will have a draft of my dissertation to my committee by December. I will have publications in the pipeline. I will have job applications sent out.

I will worry less and trust and request help more.

With these steps, I will transform a good 2014 into a great 2015.

I wish each and every one of you a truly wonderful 2015.

*Note: I did not think this post would include so many animal pictures, but when I was choosing pics from the year, these are the ones that spoke to me.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Meal Planning on the Fly

It is a bit messy, but here is the fireplace viw

This was all black and rather homely. Now it is cheerful

Our $10 facelift for the window

They light up

I painted the candlesticks aqua and black. I went through so many cans of aqua paint

Picture between the shelves that we barely got hung up before we discovered the need to move

The funky bamboo light was a Goodwill Outlet score. It is very light, and they charge by the pound, so it was less than $5
Here are some shots of the living room that we are now packing up.

We have about a month to pack, patch, clean, and move. I am prepping and teaching two courses, Magnus is absorbing a whole lot of math tutoring, Rin is taking 5 classes, and Luigi is drawing and trying to be a kid. 

We have been eating a lot of pizza, taco bell, and rotisserie chicken! I need to get on the stick and plan some fast, easy, cheap one-dish meals that have easy clean up.  I am gaining inspiration from this post. I also plan to keep sandwich and snack fixings around so that we can have fend-for-yourself nights.  

I think I have asked for this type of thing before, but  I am asking for you best hot weather, fast and easy, minimal mess dinners and lunches. Please share freely :)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Living life to the fullest

I have reached the point where I want to stop putting things on hold. There is a consistent thrum in our lives, waiting for the next move, the next goal, the next job. If all goes as planned, I will have my degree in two years, and that may very well mean another move, hopefully to the place where we can finally settle down, just in time for our kids to graduate and move out.

This lifestyle is wearing me out. I want to enjoy life now, and I want the boys to as well. I am to the point where I don't want to look at people's facebook pages because I am tired of seeing everyone have a wonderful time and me being stuck home packing and studying (FOMO). It is time to start having wonderful times of our own.

We are making a few changes to that end.

First of all, we have started a list on a white board. This list contains all the things we like to do: hiking, biking, writing, eating, etc.
The hope is that by listing such things, we can remember what we do like to do, and will make time and space for those things.

I hope to make more space in my life for things I love by routinizing the things I don't love.

Instead of ignoring work and letting it pile up and then feeling guilty, or spending entire days devoted to it, I am going to try to put it in neatly marked boxes on my google calendar, tackle them and forget them. Laundry is working so well with this system that we want to add more. Room cleaning, vacuuming, dissertation writing, and exercise will all get places. 

The next step will be scheduling the things we like to do, to make sure we remember to do them!
I have always been resistant to scheduling, discipline, and structure because it seems so stifling. If I make the structure, I find many ways to cheat. But I know I am not happy having life lived for me, so I am ready to take control.

Of course, my one big stumbling block is the electronic device I am using right now.
I am terrible about using it and overusing it, and I have set the tone for overuse in our household. I get resentful when it is taken away or limits are placed on it, even if it is me who is placing the limits. I could free up so much time to do other things if I could pull the plug every now and then. I don't have a smartphone so my computer use is limited to the house. If I can kick myself out the door, I am good. But indoors, and keeping myself from distractions when I am working on the computer, those are more difficult. I place blocking software and then just work my way around it. That is my biggest stumbling block and I am looking for suggestions from people who have felt addicted or at least deeply attached to their devices and have found ways to curb their own enthusiasm.

Tomorrow we will be trying to revel in summer. Part of the issue is that summer takes a while to get going here, but I think we might have achieved summer weather. On tap-berry picking and a hike.

I wish everyone (including me!) a joyous First Summer Weekend!