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! 

Monday, June 16, 2014

We'll always have laundry!

We are packing and getting ready to move, and everyone gets into the act.

However, I am trying to get pictures of projects before I pack them up. Today I want to show off my laundry. First I must apologize for the quality of the pics. I am not good at taking room shots. I have looked at many many many house and apartment ads in the past couple of weeks, and I take comfort in knowing that I am not alone in this! Room pictures are hard, and fuzzy, dark pictures of corners and toilets seem to be the norm. I don't have time to work on my skill at this time, so I will simply join the fray for the time being.

I want to share with you my most exciting discovery. The Dollar Tree carries wall decals!! My kitchen has white cabinets, and I thought it would be cute to add some decals. I found an owl decal that looks a lot like this one except the price tag. I bought a couple. But then I found some very cute curtains for the kitchen that sealed its fate: the kitchen now has a cute Italian baker theme, and the owls seemed out of place. The Dude suggested I move them to the laundry room, which is right off of the kitchen and was quite bland and white. I moved them over, but the space needed more. I went back to the Dollar Tree and picked up a few more owls. Then I noticed butterflies and flowers, and decided to make a scene. And again, sorry for the quality! The space is tiny and it is hard to work in. But hopefully this gives you the idea.

The upper cabinets. The little bits are colorful leaves.

Dryer front

Door to the outside:

Coat rack next to the back door:

Close ups on the doors.

So, that is the laundry room. The project cost under $10, and it makes me smile ever time I see it. Speaking of laundry, I am happy to report that laundry day continues to be a success. Twice a week, 3-4 loads per day, all folded and put away, at least by the next morning. I am going to add linen day as its own day on the calendar, twice a month on Wednesdays. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A most unsettled week

My week was supposed to go like this:

Finish my syllabus, get some lessons planned, take lots of walks, go on a hike, tidy the house, do some painting.

No. It hasn't gone like that at all.


The city is installing a sewer line on our street, which means that there is crew working outside our house every day, with loud machines, vibrations, and occasional house shaking bangs.

We had the landlady visit to look at some issues, which is nerve wracking because she has expectations of cleanliness. Although the house was clean by our standards, she noted the carpet is "pretty beat up"

We found out the Rin's dream high school might not accept him (after they already accepted him and he turned down choice two), because they don't know what to do with a homeschool record.

I decided to crack the whip and make Rin finish the school work he has been slacking on. This has resulted in me sitting on the couch with him for pretty much nonstop since Monday. He is getting the work done though.

Tuesday we found out that Magnus is in jeopardy of failing one of his classes, so he has to spend every waking hour researching and writing.

Yesterday we got a letter letting us know that the landlady intends to sell the house and so we have to move by July 15.

My first reaction was deep sadness because I am finally getting the house to look like I want it to. ( I will still take and post pics soon)

And today, we had a swarm of bees in our yard.

So yeah, quite different from how I planned.

Focusing on the positive-I got my syllabi done, Magnus should be able to pull the class off with a C and his other two classes are fine, Magnus got the classes he wants for the fall, there are some houses available, the landlady is giving us a bit longer than required and she will prorate the rent if we move earlier. And bees are cool.

Friday, May 30, 2014

My examples #yesallwomen

I am departing from my usual posting style to dive into the fray of all women.

I will give three examples from my own life to demonstrate what girls and women deal with.

1. I spend most of my 8th grade English class being harassed by a boy who, thanks to the luck of the alphabet, sat next to me in the back of the room. Pretty much every day, he would show me his penis, try to get me to touch it, rub his foot on my butt, tell me the state of his erection, and tell me he was going to follow me and rape me. All year.

Why didn't I speak up? Because I was an 8th grader, going through a lot of bodily changes, and was extremely awkward at this point in my life. Plus, my teacher was a man. I could not bring this up. I was brought up with the belief that the body is shameful, and that girls are worse than boys. I never really had sex education that taught me to respect my body. I don't remember any sex ed at all, beyond a biology class and a primer on feminine hygiene project. My social desirability was in high gear, and my level of embarrassment about the situation was HUGE. I don't know if I told anyone at all ever.

In 9th grade, I had the same guy alphabetically near me. The classroom was set up differently so he couldn't harass me without being seen. He started up with me one movie day, but my absolute heroine of a teacher caught on quickly and told us to knock it off. She assumed consent, but still, just calling out the behavior made it stop. He never bothered anyplace other than the classroom.

2. I was out cruising (yes, it was a thing in the 80s still) with my sister. She needed to talk to this guy, and he was a passenger in this other guy's car. I swapped passenger seats, so now I was in the car with some guy I didn't know, and the other guy was in my sister's car. I was 16.

The guy took me for a drive, and we "ended up" behind the football stadium. We started making out, and we moved to the back seat. I didn't want to have sex with him, and I told him no. He tried to explain why we should, I tried to talk my way out of it. He was quite a bit larger than me, and we were in a really dark and desolate area of the world. I told him I didn't want to do this, and he ignored me. I tried scratching his back, and he just said, "Hey now" I quickly realized that he had me outweighed and outmaneuvered, and that if I didn't fight him, he wouldn't hurt me anymore than taking my virginity, my pride, and my sense of safety. I let him do what he was going to do.

He took me back to meet my sister and it was all pretty civilized. I had talked myself down from it, explained to myself that it wasn't really rape.

I called my best friend the next day and she assured me that it was indeed rape. I told my parents, and they were awesome. I was given a rape kit and it was determined that I wouldn't have enough evidence to prove anything but consensual sex.

In the following weeks, I found out that two people I knew had been raped by this same guy. 1 of them had been gang raped by him. But this was after the fact and the police told me I couldn't bring it into evidence, since it might have just been me getting friends to make up stories. The case was dead in the water.

I got revenge in the only way I knew how-I threw a Coke on his car. When he accused me of it later, I told him he couldn't prove it was me, he had no evidence.

3. I was 18. My roommate had a boyfriend, the boy from back home. He seemed like a nice guy. My roommate invited me to a party at the boyfriend's apartment. I think there were 5 guys living there. I had hung out with them a bit. They were boisterous, but nice.

I had no concerns going to to this party. We were drinking rum drinks. People were lighting them and sucking them through straws, or drinking them mixed with fruit. Only later did I discover this was 151 proof rum.

One of the roommates was super hot. I started talking to him. I was really really drunk. He took me to his room. This was 25 years ago and I was really drunk, so I don't remember now if I wanted to have sex with him or not. But I think I might have tried to turn him down, and he was persistent. I had learned from the last time that guys that are bigger than me don't always take no for an answer. So, we did the deed.

And then things got weird. I rolled over to get out of the bed, and one of the roommates was lying there on the floor, listening and who knows what else. His bedroom had a bit of a hallway. I walked through that hallway to to leave his bedroom, and there were two more roommates, standing in the doorway making out. Just to be clear, they were in the bedroom. So there were 3 other people in this bedroom in addition to me and the d'bag.

I left the room and went to wake up my roommate's boyfriend to ask for a ride home. He reached out and started kissing me. This was like a grotesque house of mirrors, with no clean break to freedom and safety! I reminded him that he was my roommate's boyfriend, and that I just wanted a ride home. He took me home.

Oddly enough, I chose to go back into that den of iniquity one more time. I was so foggy headed about everything that happened, and whether I had said no or not, that I needed to know for sure. I got in touch with the guy and went over to his apartment. This time it was just me and him. We played chess.

It was nice, and he was being decent. We were sober. Then I suggested we wrestle.  He pinned me down on the bed. I told him strongly, loudly and clearly no. He continued. I said NO again. He was quite a few inches taller than me, and obviously worked out. He had me pinned. It was terrifying. He took my wrists, held them above my hand, restraining both wrists just one of his hands. He was still on top of me. He held me like that for a few seconds, applied a little extra pressure on my wrists, said, "Its not worth it" climbed off of me, got up and went to the bathroom. He didn't not engage me again.

So, just to clarify the timeline and events for you: I went to his house, and spent about an hour playing a couple of games of chess and having a really nice time with him. I then spent about 5-15 minutes engaging in some fully clothed wrestling with him. I know that might sound weird, but it was the late 80s, pro-wrestling was big. And as soon as I said No to him (again, at this point, we were clothed, and I said No at the first sign of escalation towards sex) he immediately turned on me, displayed his power over me and then refused to talk to me ever again. I told my roommate about it the next day, and she would not talk to me about it. At all. It was very important that her narrative remain intact, I suppose.

There you have it. A peek into my young adult years. There are many more horrible, and some wonderful stories. But this is all I want to share. I was watching the wonderful documentary about Kathleen Hanna that is currently available on Netflix. She and I are about the same age, and she and her band and her friends were trying to do something in the late 80s and early 90s, to change things. To make the world safer and more accessible for girls and women. But it seems like we are still right where we were. The sense of entitlement that some men have, their right to have sex, is still alive and well.

I was very very very lucky. I had a lot of twists and turns between the ages of 16 and 20. However, when I was 20 I found a man who has always treated me with respect and as a partner. Luckily I was smart enough to see what a gem I had.

This was a very hard post to write and a very hard post to share. I am sad that I went through it, and I am sad that I don't always feel like I can freely share the traumas I have experienced. And I am heartbroken that so many girls and women are still experiencing shit like this.

 I will end it in the only way I can think of. One of the bad little dogs wearing a paper cup hat.