Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Narcotic Induced Stream of Consciousness

(Warning... this post has been brought to you post-surgery stream of consciousness induced by Vicodin.)

Things have been a bit crazy around here lately. Much of this was centered around my having surgery yesterday. I had to prepare at work to be gone for the week. I had to prepare myself to be housebound for a week. I had to prepare myself mentally for going under the knife. And we had to keep everything going along in the right direction at the same time for two little kids.

On the keeping everything moving along in the right direction front... Leif "officially" started kindergarten on Monday. I say officially because if you ask him he has been a kindergartener since June. And he is staying in the same private school, in the same classroom and so not much is changing. The first day of kindergarten is often viewed as a big huge deal, but for Leif and us, not much changed.

Then there is Skadi. The latest for her is that I took her in for her first eye exam last week, just to rule out any problems since Leif has eye problems. I knew she sees well and doesn't have any trouble doing any fine work at school, so I wasn't expecting any problems. She was a trooper and even offered to do all the eye tests willingly to keep up with her brother. They were quite impressed with her. Anyways, I was wrong. We have another appointment coming up in mid-September to have her eyes dilated and determine the extent of her eye problems. We know right now that her left eye is poor with distance vision and her eye doctor has indicated that she suspects similar problems as Leif has. Sigh.

Then there is the fun stuff. We hit the fair on Saturday with our good friends. When I was a kid growing up in Wyoming the fair was a huge event, one that we attended nearly everyday of the week that it was in town along with the rodeo. I like being the adult now. I take my kids to the fair on ONE day, we look at the animals, ride the rides and then we go home. No rodeo. I am just not a rodeo type person... I got my fill the first 13 years of my life I suppose.

All that brings us up to Sunday. Sunday I hurried and prepared myself for the week of sitting around the house, or lying around the house as the case may be. I went to the fabric store and bought more fabric for my quilt and got it washing. I stocked up on groceries for the week. I prepared myself mentally. Or so I thought. But it didn't help that I dreamt about my mom the night before, Skadi was up and my nerves would not calm.

I told myself over and over that people get their gall bladders removed all the time. My surgeon, who I had been told by others was very gentle, meticulous and does the most gall bladder removals in our area as he is a gastric surgeon, he had fully prepared me. Still when 5:30am arrived and I was sitting in the pre-op waiting room I couldn't stop the nerves.

I only have had surgery once before in my life, when I was 5. I had a hernia repair done and the details are vague, but what should have been a short routine surgery ended up in an extended stay in the hospital after I hemmorhaged afterwards. It's true, redheads have more complications in surgery. My grandmother used to tell me this during her nursing days. I used to kind of think she was just full of it. But I have since heard this from most of my doctors, including my obstetrician, my surgeon and the anesthesiologist yesterday.

Seeing what a mess I was, the anesthesiologist (who was super sweet) ordered a sedative for me before taking me into the OR. Thank you anesthesiologist. I only vaguely remember her asking me what color hair I had as I was fading in and out and confirmed with her that yes, my hair is red and that it was natural. Later I found out that she was concerned about this and upped my anestesia as she was worried about me staying under.

Next thing I knew I was waking up paranoid. I thought they were putting me out? What was I doing waking up? I got a glimpse of the clock and finally realized an hour had passed and they were actually done. Time in recovery, time in CDU (clinical decision unit - where they decide if I get to go home or stay), and then I was sent home at noon.

That first afternoon went fine and I slept a lot. Then night hit.

I have a fabulous husband. Really, really I do.

He set the alarm for every three hours to get me up and give me my pain killer as things were not going good. Then to top it off my daughter, who decides not to sleep through the night about as often as she does, woke up too. Poor AB, very little sleep last night thanks to the girls in his family.

Today has gone better. AB got the kids to school and brought me a pumpkin spice latte home which I have nursed most of the day.

He finished finally, installing the chandelier in the dining room. What a pain. A serious pain. And at one point he was asking me if I really disliked the old one that much, wouldn't it be easier to just send the new one back?

See this decorative plaster thingy? Yeah, it sucks. Royally sucks. No, don't get me wrong. It is pretty and I do like it, but it seriously complicated our installation of the chandelier. It adds a full inch to the installation distance. A full inch that our new chandelier didn't have.

I don't know what he did today, because I was on the couch watching Pawn Stars crocheting. (Yes, my new obsession thanks to Rick - the TV show Pawn Stars, not crocheting. I have successfully pawned off this addiction on AB and my sister in law as well.) We had worked on the chandelier over the weekend and left it hanging half done saying, "I don't know what we do next!"

I don't know what he did, but look... it is hung! And it works! And today is August 31st, so we succeeded in our August goal! (Ok, so my quilt goal was just way way off... we will just ignore that aspect of the August goal...)

So today I watched Mamma Mia (never saw it before but I recorded it knowing it was one of my mom's all time favorites). And because I have a horrible time just sitting and watching TV, I crocheted some:

I ironed my fabric for the quilt so I can finish cutting out 7" squares.

I watched Pawn Stars and Cash Cab.

I wasn't going to check my work e-mail.

No comment there. (But I am totally freaking out that two proposal calls I have to respond to were released today.)

I have taken my narcotic every 3 hours.

I have whined.

I checked Facebook.

I talked on the phone to my dads.

I am looking forward to being crafty tomorrow and maybe sitting at the table and sewing blocks together if I am able.

I am really, really looking forward to a shower.

I am bummed AB plans to work tomorrow, I have enjoyed having him home.

I am looking forward to feeling better and hope that tonight is a vast improvement over last night.

Monday, August 23, 2010

If it isn't one thing...

It's the other.

So I bought all my fabric. Washed it. Ironed it. And the other night while watching "Covert Affairs" I cut 118 seven inch squares.

Then I did a quick calculation. Round up to 120 and that makes approximately a 10 square by 12 square quilt. Or 60" by 74".

Or so not a king sized quilt at all.

A king sized bed is 76" x 80". And I like some overhang. I like lots of overhang because I have a tendency to wrap myself like a burrito.

Back to the fabric store I will go this weekend!


The chandelier arrived! I ended up going with the slightly more rustic one. AB liked it best. (I liked the Pottery Barn ones best.) AB liked the price of the more rustic one best mostly I think. I can't blame him. It was half the price of the PB ones.

It arrived, we set to assembling it this weekend and got it most of the way done. The next task at hand is to remove the old one and wire and hang the new one. I don't think it will take more than 30 minutes to do. It all looks quite straight forward.

I am not terribly far off my schedule, though it is slipping.

And I have had another interference come up.

We will get the chandelier hung and then we can decide on paint. But I am pushing back the paint date for a few reasons. One of them being that AB has grand plans to take a few days off next week as well as the Labor Day weekend (4 days for him) and replace the nasty flooring in the big bonus room! We are leaning towards a bamboo laminate flooring.

I am very excited to get this done. It needs it bad.

But how does this affect the dining room?

I may get my flooring for the dining room. Our big bonus room is large and square and very forgiving. AB wants to test out the flooring install there. If it goes well then we are thinking we may go forth with replacing the flooring in the dining room as well. And no way we would paint the walls before doing that.

So the dining room redecorate is slipping. But it isn't going away. It just may get better is all!

Conversations with Skadi

Skadi: "You know what I want mom?"

(She has taken to calling me "mom" instead of mommy and I am not terribly thrilled.)

Me: "What?"

Skadi: "A baby."

Me: "A baby? Like a real baby?"

Skadi: "Yeah, a girl type one."

Me: "You want a little sister?"

Skadi: "Yep, like Cate has."

Me: "Hmm. I don't know about that. You should probably talk to daddy about that."

(Totally pawning this off...)

Skadi: "I did."

Me: "Oh you did?"

Skadi: "Yes."

Me: "What did he say?"

Skadi: "He said yes."

Me: "He did??"

Skadi: "Yes. And he said that the baby can sleep in my room too and I will take such good care of her! And I will hold her like this and say 'oh little baby I love you so!' Like that."

Me: "Wow. Ok. I will take all this into consideration."


Skadi at the eye doctor reading icons:

"Plane to Colorado, give me five, unicorn without a horn, cupcake, parrot"

Doctor: (Giggling) "Wow, she is something isn't she?"

(Plane, Hand, Horse, Birthday Cake, Chick)


Skadi's new game: "Ok, pretend like you are driving through Starbucks and I will take your order now."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Leif's 6th birthday

We spent Leif's 6th birthday at the cabin. Which of course meant that we had to have his party a bit later. That's ok, we don't mind spreading out celebrations in our family. When Skadi turned two she was sure that her birthday lasted the entire year and everytime we celebrated anything it was all about her birthday.

In keeping with that tradition of allowing my children to milk their birthdays for all they are worth, we celebrated Leif's birthday with his friends a few weeks after his "real" birthday.

I had a bit of an issue with Leif for his birthday party. For months he was declaring that he wanted a sleepover with a number of the older boys in his school. I just wasn't so sure this was the thing we should be doing. And I feared for my lack of sleep. I was ready to give on just about any other type of party, including Chuckee Cheese - which he amazingly didn't latch onto.

Then one day, completely out of the blue he announced he wanted a party at the Court Club - a rock wall party. Done. Booked. Before he could change his mind. There could be a maximum of 10 kids - which at this point in his life is hard. So many parties include all the kids in the class. We selected our 8 guests since his sister was included in those 10.

Leif with his two best buddies.

Getting started on the rock wall.


Yes, that is Skadi. The child that has no fear. I hadn't *really* expected her to climb...

Leif decided he needed a bit more of a challenge.

Scored the chicken!
C scored the chicken too!

N scored the chicken too!
Leif decided to move over to one of the even harder walls...
And he did it too!
Much to our surprise, not everyone was as into the rock climbing. Leif, Skadi and his two closest buddies were sold and just kept going over and over. While the adults worked to entertain the other 6 children!
Finally it was snack and cake tim!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Turning Points

One of my coworkers was “once upon a time” a sheriff. He told me the other day while waiting for a meeting, “you know, no matter how bad it gets, it was never as bad as the worst day of my career as a sheriff”. I have no idea what happened in June 1978 where he was a sheriff, but I am thinking I don’t really want to know. However, the fact that he stood there on Wednesday morning and said this to me should provide a bit of context for the week’s events and my mental state.

I thought about this a few times in the past few days. What was my worst day at work? What day do I look back to in my professional career as the really downer days? Do I have an epic fail? What is the worst day?

When I was in graduate school I learned a major lesson that I have carried with me throughout my career, “don’t depend on anyone but yourself”.

I was a graduate student and went to my first professional society conference with my advisor. I stood proudly by my poster and answered all the questions that came to me. I was on top of the world! The next day was my advisor’s talk. I sat anxiously in the audience waiting for my name to appear up in front of all those scientists and secretly wanting to flash my badge to everyone so they would know that was ME! We had run some computational work that was standing out as being large impact in our field. It contradicted what a few preeminent scientists in our field had said about this reaction. But we ran the computational work over and over and had experimental work to back it up. It worked and it made sense (to a new assistant professor and a 3rd year grad student).

My advisor stood up there and spoke. He was interrupted once, he answered it, he was interrupted twice, he answered that question. Pretty soon the room had erupted and my advisor had a red face and wasn’t able to answer the questions that were flying at him. They were ugly questions, many of them with little basis, but some were quite legitimate questions.

I walked away from that talk a changed graduate student. I had put so much faith into my advisor leading me, guiding me, taking care of me and telling me how to do things and what to do. This was my first exposure to the cut-throat nature of science. I snuck to a phone booth (this would be a place where you could go and make a call on a large phone attached to the wall and hardwired to the building that also required coins to operate). I picked up the phone and called my boyfriend at the time (now my husband) and declared how ugly it was. I had serious reservations about the validity of our work.

We moved on in our research. We learned from the work. That ground-breaking paper? Never published. And it didn’t make its way into my dissertation either.

That day at that conference was the worst day of my graduate work. The turning point in my graduate career and possibly my professional career as well – I could only trust myself.

My post-doc years were rocky, I have talked about that before. I can think of many of those days that were less than ideal. I remember one day sitting in my mentor’s truck on our way to lunch and he started making comments to the other occupant in the cab of the truck about how hard it was going to be to get me hired on. I remembered that day with my advisor and my vow those couple years ago to only ever depend on myself. I reminded myself that if I wanted a job here, it was going to be up to me to do it.

I did it. And I did it without my mentor. At the time he complained to me how offended he was that our manager had hired me on as staff without so much as even speaking to him. At the time I rolled my eyes – I had taken the initiative to get myself hired and made it happen, yay me! I understand his complaints a bit more now that I have limited term staff under me. I understand as a full time staff member with my own projects the load and hit your project can take when you have budgeted for a post-doc and you suddenly have a full time staff member under you.

I understand why he cut me loose. One element of it was that he had to do it from a budget perspective (in theory of course). The other, and larger element I believe was that he was making a statement to our manager. “You hired her, you find her something to work on.”

I was then on my own. I didn’t inherit a project to lead, or even a task. I didn’t have a mentor. I was a lowly and lost Scientist 2.

I floundered a lot, but eventually made my way into a new group and succeeded in keeping myself employed by pounding on doors and introducing myself during those early years.

Unlike many people at the lab, my start as a staff member was solo. My constructing myself as a scientist has for the most part been solo. I am now considered mid-career (however that happened) and I will happily, any day of the week, hang my hat on the fact that I built myself to where I am now. I met people, I worked so many different varieties of projects I have (to my own detriment) been called a Jane of all trades. Yes, I have been given helping hands at many points along the way, but that has been based purely off of my performance for others and proving myself. In times recently when it has been feast or famine. I have feasted. By my own doing.

I once heard a lab leader say “the lone wolf mentality is not tolerated here”. But when you don’t have the support of others to help build your career, what other choice do you have? I have few allegiances professionally. I am fighting my label as a “Jane of all trades” in order to build a niche area. Everyone has hurdles professionally and this is mine.

So back to my “worst day of my professional career” thought…

That would be the entire last two going on three weeks. I have managed to stick my foot in my mouth more than once in ways I will never forget. I have delivered bad news. I have yelled. I have hid in my office. I have confided in others, some I have learned I maybe shouldn’t have. I have found myself trembling as I have sat in my chair and listened.

Yes, this period of time would be the third turning point in my professional career… the first in grad school when I realized I couldn’t trust anyone but myself. The second when I actually acted on that as a post-doc and got myself hired on as staff and the third when I have had to deliver blows to people, real live people with feelings and aspirations in life. I have thick skin. I haven’t cried (yet). But it has really taken it out of me. And yes, yes, I do believe that these three weeks have changed me. I am not sure if it is for the better or worse yet.

But I will admit to contemplating (for a brief moment in time) that maybe I should buy a farm, raise chickens, sew and be a SAHM?

Monday, August 16, 2010

A quilting we will go!

Way back when, once upon a time, I had time to create. Part of my monthly goal this month is to get that back a bit. In March I tackled setting up a cross stitch (which I admit, I haven't picked back up).

One of my all time loves is quilting. I have a weakness for fabric big time.

I needed a stress reducer - and I wanted to get started on my next project - so I looked forward all week to Saturday when I was allowing myself a few hours to wander the fabric store sans children. Peace. Fabric love. Camaraderie. Textiles.

For my two hours wandering I walked out with 11 fabrics loosely coordinated around a blue and brown color scheme. Here they are in all their glory!

They have been washed and pressed as of tonight. Awaiting their deconstruction into many, many little squares only to be sewn back in some random pattern.

Here is the quilt I made for Leif. I was pressing on getting it done before he was born. Then my mom came to town and pushed me to sit down and finish it.

Thanks mom!

And here is Skadi's baby quilt. My mom arrived and hers was done because I was not going to condemn her to the ordinary life of a second child where nothing is fair or done to the extent that it was for the first one. (Ha ha ha ha ha ha! I know, if I laugh too loudly I will wake her up.)

I have a pumpikin wall hanging I did for myself that is identical to three others that I made for the most important people in my life - my mom and Rick, my dad and grandmother.I will post a picture of it someday.

I also did an apple wall hanging that hangs in my mom's and Rick's work out room. And I need to find it in some packed away box somewhere, but I also have the quilt that AB and I used on our bed for nearly a decade.

I know I have said all this before... I just need to put it out there for motivation to finish this quilt!

Oh and I didn't buy anything else at the fabric store. Nope! That wasn't me buying foamies for my daughter... or outdoor upholstery fabric... or the most fabulous thick soft yarn and a crochet needle... nope nothing else that might divert my attention from my quilt project!

Stay tuned!

Alternate realities

I remember particularly when I was a graduate student and being perplexed by stories I would hear about professionals giving up their careers in exchange for something completely different. Professionals being medical doctors, lawyers and even some Ph.D.’s. In grad school one of my favorite professor’s dreamt of giving up being a professor in favor of being a landscape architect. The ex-wife of a physician I used to work for gave up her medical degree to open a deli. A coworker of mine, while I was a post-doc, wanted to open a bakery.

People who step off the fast train to find personal fulfillment.

I always thought they were nuts. I mean didn’t you have some inkling way back when you were putting $200K into a medical degree that maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t what you wanted to do for the rest of your life? Or, I thought at the time, maybe they just have that amount of time and money to throw around willy nilly like.

I sure didn’t have money to throw around willy nilly. I was going to do my path and live happily ever after as a scientist or a professor.

Occasionally I will get the bug and go through the “what ifs”, which usually stay in the professional realm.

What if I would have gone to medical school?
What if I would have done engineering instead of science?
What if I would have done physics instead of chemistry?
What about math? I was always best at Math, what if someone would have told me that an actuary wasn’t the only option for a Math major?

But every once in awhile they veer to the personal fulfillment realm:
What if I would have been an artist?
What if I were a stay at home mom?
What if I were a chef? Ok, so the hours suck, maybe a caterer?
What about a photographer?
What if I were a writer?

Then the downright scary:
What if I would have been born in a third world country and never had access or an opportunity to go to school at all?

And that usually sets me straight and reminds me how very happy I am in my current position.

But most all of this is just bemusing, just food for thought.

Then the last few weeks hit.

Ok, so to be fair about it, add in the fact that 6 years ago I was on maternity leave with my son and had serious dread about going back to work. Was welfare better?

I came home a few times in the last few weeks and after a few emotional outbursts I wondered what life would be like if we moved to Alaska? Flew by the seat of our pants, sold our house, gave up our jobs and just saw what we could find? People do this, you know…

Naw. It's just a phase.

It's just the end of the fiscal year. It's just one floater on a charge code. It's just one demanding client. It's just that time of the year. And it's just that time of the month.

I can deal.

Friday, August 13, 2010

What I don't need...

I don’t need these shoes.

Nope, I don’t.

I just bought a chandelier for my dining room that is about the same price. My kids are going to need warm winter clothes here soon. I just bought two pairs of sandals on clearance. I do not, no not ever need this adorable pair of Danskos.

Normally I would be thoroughly intimidated by the heel. Except that I bought a pair of Dansko pumps… pumps that add a few inches to my height and therefore give me perceived legitimacy in begging for money in DC a few times a year. And a funny thing happened. I don’t just wear them on travel.

They are heels and they are comfy and I wear them nearly once a week. They have made me believe that heels can be done and have thus made these shoes appear to be within my grasp.

Nope, I don’t need these shoes.

I already have six or seven pairs of Danskos smiling at me in my closet. I don’t need another pair.

Plus, I really want a pair of boots…

But I don’t “need” those either.

Well maybe.

Oh, and while I am at it… my daughter definitely has no need for these:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"When I grow up I wanna be an old woman..."

"an old old old old woman. Then I think I'm gonna marry myself an old man... we're gonna have 120 babies? 105 and 15 babies. We'll raise them on tiger's milk and green bananas, mangoes and coconuts and watermelon..."

That Michelle Shocked song always crosses my mind when I say to myself "when I grow up".

The following sums up the difference between my son and daughter.

Me: "Leif what do you want to be when you grow up?"

Leif: "A computer engineer."

Me: "Skadi what do you want to be when you grow up?"

Skadi: "A merdade." (Translation - mermaid.)

A conversation from this evening...

Skadi: "Ms. A is sick and that is so sad. I don't want anyone to ever get sick mommy."

Me: "I don't either. Maybe you should be a doctor when you grow up so you can help people not get sick."

Skadi: (Sits up in bed.) "NO MOMMY! I am not going to be a doctor, I have told you and told you that I am going to be a merdade when I grow up." (Plops back into her bed.)

Ten years from now I am going to be in big trouble... I know.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


A coworker of mine came back from reserve duty last week and took up residence in his brand new office across the hall from me. I enjoy having him there, he is a nice guy I get along well with and enjoy working with. We also see eye to eye on a lot of things in life - religion, family values, etc. It has been a different week with him back and there in his office... for example, I hear my name yelled spontaneously in our wing pretty regularly.

He spent some time in my office catching up earlier this week whereby we talked a fair amount about my mom's "Celebration of Life". He asked me the million dollar question then.

"Since your mom was diagnosed with this cancer at such a young age, do you worry about whether you will get it as well?"

Anyone who answers no, is lying.

It crosses my mind nearly daily. And since I am also a scientist with a wealth of journals at my fingertips, I will admit to staying on top of cancer studies and the current state of the art. When someone is diagnosed with cancer it is often a shock, a surprise and followed by a lot of time trying to understand 'what next'? And is what my doctor telling me the right course?

We had a lot of this with my mom because she was diagnosed with such a rare and often unrecognizable cancer. It wasn't until 6 months after we knew she had liver cancer did anyone dare label it with this rare name... cholangiocarcinoma. A cancer that only about 4000 people a year are diagnosed with in the US.

Yes, I think about it often. Will I get this cancer? Will my sister? Will my kids? My daughter's tummy ache the other day, is it cancer?

Present day medicine does not have a means to genetic test us to see if we will get this rare cancer. What medicine could tell us (if I understand it correctly) if we carry a gene that makes you more susceptible to cancers of this family. Taking this test? I haven't gotten there in my head yet.

What I can do, as I am learning in Anticancer, is to take steps to ensure that my body can fight cancer and make myself less susceptible to cancer. I like this book because as a scientist myself, it isn't telling a person with cancer to abandon all conventional treatment, it tells us to supplement your treatment. I believe there is merit to alternative medicine, but I also believe in scientific reasearch. As a Ph.D. chemist I "grew up" learning "better living through chemistry". And to a large degree I believe this, but I also understand that we don't know it all.

The book was recommended to my mom by a close friend who battled lymphoma successfully nearly two years ago. My mom downloaded it onto her Kindle and now I am reading it with rapt attention.

I am learning (after being only a third of the way into it) that we aren't terribly far off base in doing things to prevent cancer.

  • We don't eat red meat more than 3 times a week.
  • We only use olive oil or canola oil.
  • We eat and push fresh fruit and vegies on our children (despite one of them having a weird aversion to fresh fruit that I do not understand - or accept - for the life of me)
  • We drink red wine with dinner.
  • We eat loads of blueberries.
  • We all eat broccolli at least once a week.
  • We eat fish and a lot of that is salmon.
  • We shop local for local produce when possible.
  • We make our own spaghetti sauce, thereby eliminating sugar in a routine dinner meal at our house.
  • We have drank organic milk since my son started on milk.

Things I need to do better:

  • Not drink so much coffee... (I gave up Pepsi two years ago and switched to coffee - and I am fully addicted to coffee now.)
  • Pay better attention to use of plastic - I tend to look for BPA, but not always. I need to work on our use of Ziploc bags for everything - not only for health but also for environmental reasons. Example - when I buy meat in bulk and repackage and freeze, I need to wrap in parchment first... parchment isn't bad... is it?
  • Watch the sugar. I like desserts on occasion, and that isn't going anywhere. But I have a new rule regarding fruit snacks (you know the ones in the cereal aisle), I am not buying them. If the kids want stuff like that they can come with me to the grocery store and ask. So it isn't that I am cutting them cold turkey, but I personally, am not going to enable it. If no one comes to the grocery store with me than I buy what I want. Simple as that. This is made easier by the fact that the kids are both head over heels and have been for some time for these fruit crisps. I buy them at Costco and this is lately Skadi's source of fruit (other than bananas and apples, which she will eat).
  • Work towards cutting back on white flour. This is one we will work at, but frankly, I like to bake simply with white flour. I am open to alternatives, but pie crust just isn't the same.
  • Get more exercise (no need to explain - I just need to get back to getting up every morning and working out - this would be greatly enabled by a daughter who slept through the night.)
  • Check out "grass-fed" dairy products, this may be difficult in our small-ish town.

I believe in everything in moderation really. I am not necessarily looking to cut any of this out completely, and I don't think that is realistic for our family. But I will be trying to make some changes.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

On goals

I have too much stuff I want to do. Way too much.

I want to redecorate my house. I want to do my cross stitching. I want to cook fabulous meals on a nightly basis. I want to sew adorable little clothes for my daughter. I want to plant more roses. I want to get back to quilting. I want to work through my stacks of books. I want to organize all my recipes. I want to (well more like I need to) purge the kids’ toy boxes of all the toys that they don’t play with. I want to exercise more. I want to work on photography and editing photos. I want to maintain my website and keep my blog more active. I want to volunteer with organizations that I find important. And lately… don’t tell my husband… but I want to write a book. AB would reply, “you’ve done that, twice now, right? Your dissertation and that 250 page deliverable this past February counts too!” Nope, this one is fiction, I would love to write a fictional novel and I even have an idea stirring around in my head. But don’t tell AB.

Motivation? I have it in abundance. What I don’t have is time.

My lists can often times seem daunting. The purpose of my monthly goals that I started 2.5 years ago was to take a month to focus on one thing at a time. It has done a world of good for me. Things get accomplished. AB has been quite supportive of my monthly goals, particularly the ones that don’t involve tasks for him. But even he gets into the groove with the monthly tasks and asks on occasion, “what’s next month?”

My goal for July, knowing how busy the month was shaping up to be was to choose paint for the dining room. AB got on board and we have a front runner and a few runner up selections. The final decision has been postponed however because the lighting in the dining room sucks. Sucks royally.

Hence the August goals.

The first of the August goals is to get a chandelier selected. We have selected three chandelier options. We need to pick one and order it. August Goal #1 – select, order, receive and install chandelier.

August Goal #2 – Select paint colors.

I know ourselves well enough to know that it may take the entire month of August to get Goal #1 completed. Yes, I know. It shouldn’t take that long. But it will. Give me a week for a decision, a week or two for it to arrive and a week or two to get the thing hung and we are at the end of August. Blammo. August is gone. My plan is to shorten this critical path in order to enable task #2 to take hold and deliver at the end of August, thus enabling a long weekend of painting over Labor Day. We never do anything for Labor Day anyway. That would make the September Goal a complete and painted redecorated dining room that includes a little reorg, some new linens and draperies. (I can wish all I want for new flooring in there… but that will be a goal for another time.)

But let’s jump back to August…

August is a pretty open month for us without much on the schedule. A lot of the August goal, while critical path, includes down time for me. Me actually doing anything short of making a decision and hitting click? Not much there for the first 2/3 of the month.

So I need August Goal #3.

What I really should do is to declutter the kids’ toys. But that isn’t a fun goal. I need a fun goal.

Yesterday I got a little huffy at work and I needed some downtime. So I flipped open a Pottery Barn catalog that somehow made its way into my purse. I normally go straight to the trash can with such items lest our credit card inflate itself.

And I fell in love.

Isn’t it pretty?

The thing about PB stuff – at least a lot of it – is that many of the items can easily be made. As a quilter… err… umm… former quilter, I looked at this and said “easy peasy”.

I started quilting back about 1997. I did a quilt completely by hand and backed it with a sheet. Mostly just to say I could do it. Then I bought a book of quilting patterns. Then I bought a nice sewing machine since I was nowhere near my mom and her sewing machine anymore and started quilting with a vengeance. I made wall hanging quilts, I made a large queen sized quilt that became AB’s and my summer bed cover for years. Maybe even nearly a decade. I still have it but the poor thing has seen better days. It is worn in beautifully at this point, but a bit fragile for a bed that kids crawl onto. I made each of the kids quilts for their births.

Then reality hit. And the reason that I have the “I want” list above. Kids take up time. And my sewing machine went to the back of the closet and I started avoiding fabric stores at all costs. (That whole inflatable credit card thingy again.)

I want a new quilt. I could never spend the $250 on that quilt because I look at it and see how so very easy it would be to make that quilt.

Think I can do it in three weekends?

Ready… set… GO!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The annual trek to the cabin

I have blogged many times before about the family cabins. We decided it was high time to get back to the cabin. We needed a real vacation, a relaxing vacation. And well we hadn't been in a year. Not to mention that the kids' favorite cousins were visiting as well. AB's second cousin has two kids the same genders and about the same ages as our kids. And it is truly a unique and relaxing experience to have playmates 50 feet from your front porch. The kids started just wandering between the two cabins and we all got a much needed break.

There were waterguns:

There was a 6th birthday party:

There were lots of hugs:

And cute cousins:

There was rock throwing in the dreary, cold mornings:

There was swimming (no, I don't require Skadi to wear a lifevest... she wanted to wear it... she takes after her dad... Safety First!)

There was no swimming in the inlet once these were spied:
That would be LOTS of these:
So then there were creatures from the deep:
And trampoline time:

And the annual pilgrimmage to Cecil:

And boat rides:

And our neighborhood friendly seal who hardly gets out of your way anymore:

There was hunting for "baby" crabs by our safety obsessed daughter:

And canoe rides:

Most of all, there was success in a stress free weekend.
(And I even finished my book club book! Yay me!)