Wednesday, August 23, 2017

First day of school (a week late)

I'll make them do this until college.
Side note: they both think I'm super mean because I don't replace their backpacks every year.  They each get a "good" bag for kindergarten and I secretly hope they have these Jansports when they head off to college. 

They're so big! Eli's finishing out elementary school in the mainstream 6th grade and Syd started in the Rapid Learner Program 2nd grade. Eli is thrilled to be in a regular class and to make new friends. A week in and it seems like we made the right choice by letting him stay at this school another year. He loves his teacher and he does his homework without issue. It's pretty amazing. And Syd was super nervous because she didn't know anyone in this class (it's a standalone program program that has kids from all different districts in it.) She's making friends and also gets to see her other friends at recess, so she's happy too. We're off to a good start! 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

All the updates

OMG. I totally had a case of writer's block, and then so much time passed that it seemed like I had to catch y'all up before I wrote about any of the new stuff, and before I knew it we missed all the things. Brace yourself. I'm going to get us caught up, and then I'll tell you all about the crazy woman who let her snotty toddler crawl all over me during my first EVER sports practice that I could actually sit in a chair and not parent for. Or maybe I'll lead with that. This speschul sneaxflaxe mother first started commenting when I tried to read my book (The Secret History of Wonder Woman. SO GOOD and I wanted to read it SO BADLY). She even gave me the "Oh man. I haven't read a book since I was nursing! That's the last time I could sit down long enough. But I've decided now that my kids need to know that mommy get's her time too!" Yes. I totally agree. That's why I brought a book to my kid's soccer practice. SO I COULD READ IT. But oh no, then she has to narrate. "Oh Wonder Woman! Look *daughter*! We watch that at home. Not the new one, the old Linda Carter one." But not in a conversational way. More in an observational way that meant I didn't know if I was being rude by responding or being rude by ignoring her. So I tried both and neither worked. And all the while the girl is asking me questions. "Who's that?" "Wonder Woman" "Who's that?" "That's Wonder Woman too." "Who's that?!" "They're all Wonder Woman." "Who's that?!" "Elizabeth Warren. Or maybe Wonder Woman"  So obviously reading wasn't happening. I started texting a friend, which we all know is the universal sign for "I'd like to not have a face to face conversation with you or your children." And this lady's kid CRAWLS IN MY LAP, with her mother watching, and starts asking if I have games. No? How about shows? No?! What about emojis? WTF kid? Also, dear mom. Don't smile lovingly while your daughter crawls in a strange woman's lap. I work in a prison. I'm trying to be nice but I'm also saying, loudly, "Oh no Sweetie! I'm talking to a friend. Please don't touch that. Nope, no games. Just boring stuff."  Seriously, WTF? FORTY FIVE MINUTES later, I had to physically move this kid so I could pack up when the practice was over. Next week, I'm bringing the hellbeasts. And they're wearing the crazy chain collars that make them look like monsters.

Okay, now I feel better. In other news(and no particular order):
Snapchat has a Picachu filter and Averson's dreams are complete

We took the girls to see an awesome (and mildly inappropriate) art exhibit and it was amazing

Eli went backpacking. Again. And got hazed. When I asked him about it he said, "That's why I love Scouts Mom! Someday I'll get to do it to a young kid too." Um. 

Scout graduated pitbull class and neither of us died. 
Averson's face-gina is gone! And more Snapchat. 

I played footy and got a sports injury. This is the only picture because the other ones looked like a pudgy middle-aged suburban mom playing a tackle sport and trying not to die. BUT, I scored a goal and tackled people and I kind of love it a lot

AND I finally finished and ordered Avery's baby book, which means that all three of my kids one now. I'm especially proud of this one. It only took four years but now I can maybe work on printing pictures or putting all my backups in the same place. Or reading a damn book. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

When your daughter's face is falling off and you're a jerk *Update! We're all jerks!

Fair warning: There are gross pictures in this post. I left out the really gross ones though because I'm klassy.

Last weekend during our craptastic family hike with the dogs, Averson tripped off a curb, on a super-high bridge, into traffic, and hit her face. Because of course she did. That wasn't even the highlight of that particular outing, but alas. I picked her up, dusted her off and carried her across the bridge while trying to telepathically beg Syd and C not to say anything about the blood. Which they didn't, thank the sweet baby Jesus. We wiped her up and no one was the worse for wear.

Flash forward to Monday when I come home to Averson sleeping (she's hasn't taken naps in over a year). The lip scrape that was NBD now looks a little bit rougher, but because she's our third baby and we're really busy, we chalked it up to healing. And I pretended not to notice that she was super warm and bundled up in fleece blankets despite it being, literally, 106 degrees.

Yesterday C sent me this at work

OMG. Could she look anymore miserable? I sent the picture to her pediatrician with a "Is this normal? WTF?" message. I love our doctor because she knew to call C and then e-mail me with a recap (#workingmomsunite!) with the final diagnosis of justavirus. Also, I don't find "We've been seeing this lately" all that reassuring. She didn't give anything further than "virus" which I didn't find very helpful since you know what's a virus? Herpes. 

So, no judgment, but I have always been stupidly (and silently) proud that none of us get cold sores. I fully acknowledge that my pride lays in some fucked up places, but I had a friend growing up who got heinous breakouts and they just seem so miserable and gross. I keep consulting with Dr. Google and I can't find ANYTHING else this could be. Also, googling "cold sores on my preschooler" will get you some nasty shit suggesting that this could be so much worse. Though that doesn't explain the fever and the way her damn face is swelling up. So I'm kind of hoping it's something else like HFM and not cold sores because I don't want my daughter to have the Herp. That's some serious MOTY material right there, I tell you what. Also, I won't let her touch anyone or anything with her face because of course I won't. A paragon of compassion. But I have been letting her eat her weight in yogurt tubes because she says her throat hurts on top of her mouth. At least I think that's what she's saying. You can't really tell because she sounds like the dentist numbed her mouth. 
I just went to the playroom and found her sleeping like this. That's her dress. #thirdbaby

I totally meant this to be funny but I'm going to feel like such a jerk if she's really sick and not just slowly becoming a zombie. Which I think I would still prefer over cold sores. But I think we all know that's exactly what this is going to be, so lay it on me. What are your go-to cold sore remedies? I know nothing and at this rate that thing is going to take over her face. 

Update: We finally took her to the doctor today. She's been living off yogurt tubes and then last night said her mouth hurt too bad even for those. So, the final verdict is.....

Herpangina Virus! And now to the jerk part that's actually pretty funny. So C heard "Herpangina" and immediately thought "STD," which they must get all the time because they immediately clarified that it is NOT Herpes and NOT an STD, just a really unfortunately named totally common virus. What they didn't know is that in our family "vagina" has been shortened just to " 'gina." The Bigs couldn't stop laughing when they called to give me the status update because "Avery's got 'gina! IN HER MOUTH!" And then dissolved into ridiculous giggles. And poor Avery can't talk, let alone whine or yell, so they just keep saying it. This poor girl and her jerk family. If she ever turns, it will be totally understandable if she eats us first. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

The HellBeasts

I pretend that I don't like the hounds because, well because a girl only has so much patience to go around and after the inmates and the kids and the adulting I don't want to spend much of it on someone who shits out underwear. But the fact is that I do sort of kind of like them. Even if they're heathens (much like the rest of the family.) The two of them together though is A. FUCKING. LOT. They run for about 15 hours a day. We try to walk them and it's all fine and Andy Griffith until they see another dog and turn into snarling lunging assholes, which in turn makes us look like assholes. Scout keeps digging epic holes in my yard and Atticus acts like we don't know he sleeps on the couch.
Best Guard Dogs Ever

When we got Scout, one of the deals that came with the "free dog to good home" package was a discounted obedience class run by a local pitbull advocacy group. It took me months to get into one, but finally we got in. I've never done dog training so I was really interested to see what it was about. I had high hopes for the Stepford dog of my dreams.

The first class was "humans only" and we spent TWO HOURS sitting under an overpass getting schooled on all things pitbull. TWO HOURS.  I bet we spent twenty full minutes on red nose vs blue nose (*spoiler* there is no difference!) These people have great intentions but they are a lot. Also, everyone went around the circle talking about their sweet giant "lovebug" who "just needs some manners" or "gets a little worried around other dogs" or "can't be let out of the crate because he keeps trying to kill our other pets." That last one was met with understanding smiles and murmers of "Oh yeah. I have one of those too."  Uh uh. Nope. Not me. All of the sudden Scout was sounding like a purse dog in comparison to these crazy animals.

The next week I pulled up bright eyed and bushy tailed with my required bag of meat treats (that I lovingly cooked from scratch because "dogs don't respond to regular treats"), two collars (one prong, one regular), a harness, and a special European training leash. And the Hellbeast, who doesn't get to go out much because she's a jerk (but not the eating pets kind of jerk.) Before we unloaded I said I silent prayer that neither of us would die that day.

So picture this. An overpass, covered in philosophical graffitti like "Let's fuck" and "Get bent" and homeless camp leftovers (shit you not.) A circle of big crazy pitbulls all trying to "say hello" (or as I like to call it, "rip out each others throats.") There's one very sweet teenager with the daintiest little dog I've ever seen, and next to her is this enormous man with a matching enormous pit who apparently doesn't even respond to meat and just slurps out of a water bottle the whole time. There's a sweet older lady with a CRAZY dog that snarls  and lunges at Scout every time we come near her or her stuff (because she's got a full set up including a throw rug). And of course right next to me is the lady who has her shit all figured out, with her giant well behaved dog that she just got three weeks ago. There's the couple across the way that move in tandem and keep dropping their leash even though rule #1 of pit class is "Don't ever, ever, ever drop the leash." I'm surveying the situation when I realize that I've got a freezer bag full of delicious taco meat strapped to my waist and all of these dogs missed breakfast ("so they'll be super focused.")

Really it's not terrible, as long as you don't mind being referred to by your dog's name and you don't mind the din. We're learning all sorts of useful tricks like how to focus, sit, come, and how to walk without yanking my arm out the socket. And other less useful things like staying when I take a step back, walking a figure eight, and how to keep lunging at the dickhead dog who keeps barking at you even when there is delicious oily meat in your face. Also, she still can't take a decent selfie and it's starting to be a problem.

So, good news is that we didn't die. And I get to spend the next several weekend mornings under an overpass, trying to both teach my dog "Focus," not get stabbed with a hypodermic, and not get mauled.  But you bet your ass I'm not dropping the leash.  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Grown-up Words

I was sitting in committee today with the warden, captains et. al (aka muckity mucks), right after we saw a man with an exceptionally colorful vocabulary. Imagine a 12 year old using every swear word he's ever heard. "Son of a bitch mother fucker dirty c*&#..." and on and on and on. I don't really mind when inmates swear, but this was pretty excessive, even for prison. Afterwards we were recovering when my captain stated that he appreciates when people cuss and doesn't trust people who don't or who use the fake swears. I agreed emphatically. "Except kids, obviously." Gulp.

Now, back when Eli was a young lad and started speaking when he was ridiculously little (think Baby Stewie),  I tried really hard to be mindful of my language. I really, really did. That's not precious any way you spin it. And I failed spectacularly. I swear like a sailor. I drop F-bombs like they're rainbow sprinkles. I was once told, "The thing about you is you seem so sweet, but then you start talking." There was no fucking way I was going to be able to restrain myself.

After trying to convince his daycare teacher that he was saying, "Bucket" and getting an incident report (really) because Eli "Stated loudly 'Son of a *&!@# [their edits, not mine]' at a friend when their tower fell over" (which I absolutely blamed on C despite knowing full well where he learned that) we decided to take a different approach. We would let him swear with permission. That way he learned how to swear appropriately, which I believe is an underappreciated skill, and we didn't have to keep unsuccessfully censoring ourselves.

Now all three kids know that they have to ask before they can let it rip, and if the situation is appropriate we let them. Stub your toe? Let it fly. So mad you could shake? I get it. Go for it. At dinner with your grandparents? Nice try, kid. Shut your trap. And it's worked for the most part. No more sheepish apologies or looks of shock in public. No sneaky attempts to get one past us. Eli occasionally tries to use a stand-in like "Frickin" or "hella", and Averson likes to assert that "I'm old enough to say 'Shit'" but in general I am confident I can trust them around decent society.

It's also fun to see what words appeal to them. "Stupid" is a big one. None of them have ever tried to say "Shut up." "Guts" had a good run during the summer of Ramona and Beezus. Eli likes "Hell." Averson really likes "Shit." Syd banged her head the other day, asked if she could swear, and though I expected "stupid drawer!" she let fly a "FUCK!" that matched my own for tone and affect. It was a thing of beauty and I couldn't have been prouder. After I made sure that the kitchen window wasn't open, of course.

So that's my child-rearing advice, inspired by an inmate who wanted to use every word he knew. Teach your kids to swear. It's good for you. It's good for the world.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Dream Big, Little Pig

Have you heard of this book? I bought it for the girls during one of my "intentional book purchase" kicks because it's about a pig who figure skates, so it fulfilled the body pos niche. Like most of my misguided "intentional purchases" I, of course, hated reading the damn book (no offense, Ms. Yamaguchi). Over the past 100 readings though it's really grown on me. Plus there are sparkles. Sparkles make everything awesomer. The whole premise is that Little Pig has big dreams and doesn't let anyone tell her that she can't be successful, even when she's not the best or the most perfectly suited. It's quite sweet. And like various other ear worms, "Dream big, little pig!" has been ricocheting around in my brain lately.

*Insert existential angst here, because I'm boring myself at this point* One of the weird but in retrospect obvious aspects of pursuing an advanced degree is that there are a multitude of hurdles that you must overcome. First you have to get into undergrad. Then you have to score well on the GRE. Next is the graduate school search and admission process (pro tip, do not base your search on admission rates or how pretty the campus is. Dream big, Little Pig!). Once you're in graduate school, you have to pass practicum, write a thesis, and pass comps. If you're super masochistic, you choose the one faculty adviser with a previous career as an editor, so you actually get to write about seventy million thesises (thesi?) That gets you a Masters and allows you to promote to the Doctoral Program. Once there, you've got to write and defend your dissertation (with the same editor/advisor/mentor), score an internship, possibly move across the country, and try to get published somewhere along the way. Complete your internship without dying and now you're a doctor (but not that kind of doctor)! But wait! There's more!

Now you need a grown-up job. Get the job. Move across the country again. Try to act like a professional adult when less than two weeks ago you were "just the intern." Get your 1500 hours of supervised, post-doctoral experience. Neurotically tally those hours in 15 minute increments. Once you've done that, now you apply to take the first licensing exam. Study for that for anywhere between 2 weeks and 6 months (depending on how new your newborn is.)  Hopefully pass that test, despite it having words you've literally never seen before on it. Now you get to study for and sit for the state specific laws and ethics exam. Study for that for anywhere between 1 week and 3 months (again, depending on how old your baby is and how desperately you need the raise.)  Pass that test. Then...

That's it. You're done. There are no more prescribed hurtles. You are a legit, grown-up, signing doctor. There is nothing left for you to do on your academic journey.

I personally found that moment overwhelming, so I try to prepare people for it. You go from YEARS of always having something you should be working on/studying for/stressing about to... not. For neurotic student type people, it's a huge shift. I always recommend that people take up a hobby or set another goal for themselves. Personally, I moved, had babies, got dogs, bought houses, took up running, and made a lot of stuff. Each of these things has given me a goal, a task, something to obsess about and to accomplish.

Lately I've been feeling the twitch that often precedes a baby, a move, or a  new obsessive hobby but I'm also somewhat at a loss for what I want to do. Learn Spanish? Train the HellBeasts? Volunteer with a local agency? Take up decoupage? Become the most overextended Scout mom in history? All of the options floating around are simultaneously exhilirating and overwhelming.

At the other end of the spectrum from Dream Big, Little Pig is a book that I was gifted called The Circle Maker. The section I've been reading (and re-reading, and re-re-reading) is about setting goals and making them big. With those two books in mind, I've been thinking a lot about what it is that I want to accomplish and where I want to focus my energy. It's a work in progress, but what I've come up with so far is:

  •  I want to write more. I feel like I used to be a much better writer and I know that my writing has suffered from neglect. (Gah! I just went through my archives. Faithful readers, thank you! I used to be so much funnier! I promise, I'll up my game.) I want to grow this blog, or develop a second blog, that encompasses both my personal and professional ramblings. I also want to look for opportunities to publish elsewhere. 
  • I want to plan a real, legit vacation. Next year all three of our kids are going to Grandkid's Camp, which means that C and I can take an honest-to-goodness vacation together. Maybe even on an airplane! There's a whole other post there, seeing as the only trips we've ever been on alone (including our honeymoon) have involved tents or sleeping in dorm rooms. 
  • I want to start exercising again, but not for the sole purpose of getting skinnier (because I've come to accept that that's not happening.) I want to be stronger though, because one of the best descriptors of the women in my family is "They can lift heavy shit." And I'd like to lift heavier shit. I'd also like to look good walking away, if you catch my drift. 
  • Be outside more. I've accepted that I can't/shouldn't garden and it's really, really hot here, but there are so many opportunities to be outside and I waste a lot of them. I'm starting with walking the dogs more, which will also serve the goal of training the HellBeasts. 
  • I want to stop being so fucking angsty. There is a lot of good in my life. I have a great family, a decent house, a good paying job with great people and the potential to (insert flutes here) "Make a difference in the world." I really need to get off my pity pot. 
I'm posting these for two reasons. The first is that we all know that if you put it on the internet, it becomes real. I need the accountability of having strangers know that I've set goals (it makes sense in my head, don't ruin the dream.) The second is that I want to keep these in the foreground. I want to make intentional choices and to allow myself to "Dream Big, Little Pig." Maybe writing more will turn into a goal of writing a book. Maybe exercising more will turn into competing in Crossfit.  Maybe I'll learn Spanish and plan a vacation to Puerto Vallarta. I honestly don't know yet. But I'm kind of excited to find out! 
OMG! I was looking for a rando picture because a post this long deserves a picture and look what I found! Kismet!
Please enjoy this picture of my favorite Animal Researcher dreaming with her pig :) 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


I miss the Bigs when they're at their grandparents, but there is something about being the only kid that makes this one's light shine. She has been loving having our undivided attention, and I love getting to hear all the things she has to say. Lately she's been obsessed with being an "Animal Researcher" (thank you Wild Kratts.) 
The librarian showed her the animal non-fiction section (Section 584, she'll proudly tell you) and she was thoughtfully chose her three books; Elephants, Dolphins, and Wolves if you're interested.She couldn't believe there was a whole aisle for animal research. It has to be "animal research," by the way, and she'll correct you if you just say "animals."

She asked for a research journal, which made me happy in the most humblebraggy way. I keep mentioning in my public mommy voice, "Oh! You'll have to put that in your journal! You can draw your observations!" 

 This is her lab. She spent nearly an hour dictating this to C so he could draw it. Now she's bugging us to start building it. Oops. 

When we were in San Francisco, Averson told anyone who would listen that she was an animal researcher. Every time, I humbly looked on with a look that I'm sure said, "I know! She's a firecracker, that one. I have no idea where she gets it! Oh no, couldn't possibly be my stellar parenting!" One sweet lady started a conversation and asked if Avery had any pets. Avery told her that "Yes, I have two dogs. And my mom's friend is going to get me an animal to cut open!" I was laughing too hard to explain that my friend is a science teacher who'd offered to help Avery do a dissection. Partly because what kind of psychopath four year old wants to do a dissection? I haven't actually watched Wild Kratts, but I'm pretty sure that's not a regular segment. Last night she suggested to my sister that, while she's on vacation, maybe she could kill some animals and send them back to us? It would be so great if she could do that. 

#blessed #psychokids #servesmeright

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A new tradition

My sister's in town! We've done a lot of sitting and day drinking and napping with babies, but we did rally to go to San Francisco and go shopping on The Haight one day. We went last year too (and bought pants off a stranger in the street.) This year was less hippy and more drunken, psychotic homeless people who wanted to show us their spiders in the handle of Bacardi (to which I helpfully said, "I wouldn't drink that") and later try to lock us in a macabre shop, sing songs made up completely of the different words for vagina, or warn us about the windows . Still fun, but in a very different way. Averson, in her animal loving glory, stopped to pet everyone's dog. Everyone being all of the "colorful characters" on Haight and Ashbury. I think part of the reason it was still fun is maybe because pot is legal now, so stopping in one place for too long anywhere on Haight is bound to get you a little teensy bit of a contact high. MOTY. But we did discover that Averson can hold her own in a dance off with indie house music played from a scratchy tablet.


The most hipster vandalism ever

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Wild(ish) West

I had a work thing at a prison in BFE Nowhere, so C and the girls tagged along so we could make a day trip out of it. BFE Nowhere did not disappoint. There was this adorable little town full of adorable shops, including a soda fountain that had an UNDERGROUND BOOKSTORE. It was everything you could hope for and I sort of want to live there forever. 

Do you see the rock floors?! And it was about 10 degrees cooler and smelled like a cave. 

There were chickens. This is a state park, so there was a sweet ranger feeding the chickens. Averson helpfully told her, "My mom really wants to feed the chickens!" Which is how I ended up with a handful of dried worms and brine shrimp, getting vigorously pecked by strange chickens. The things we do for children...

The girls also panned for gold. They were thrilled by their "gems." Side note, apparently my driveway is also made of gems. Who knew?  

Ever since our trip to Denver, Syd has fancied herself a safe cracker. I'll probably regret egging her on when she's doing 20-life, but for now it's pretty adorable. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

My no good, very bad, horrible day

 I don't often let myself sink into the doldrums but today definitely counts as a no good, very bad day.

Because I like to quantify my feelings

1) One of my favorite work friends and the person that helps me manage a pretty stressful job had her last day today. She's going to an awesome job that she'll be great at, but she's LEAVING ME and I'm really sad about it
2) It's also my favorite custody team's last day. That means I have to start from zero with a whole new crew. It took me three years to build a great relationship with this team and now they're leaving.
3) I applied for a job I wasn't sure I wanted, but now I think maybe I didn't get it and I'm more (a lot more) upset than I thought I would be
4) My childhood home, where my mother and my wedding dress and my baby pictures still live, is currently being evacuated for wildfire. My mom says she's "pretty sure" it's safe but that's not all that reassuring.
5) I start a new class tonight. That in and of itself is not bad, but it means I have to adult for a full 16 hours today instead of going home and drinking my ice cold can of wine while I feel sorry for myself.
6) My neighbor's front yard is full of furniture that appears to be stolen from a dumpster. Like full full.
7) It's the end of the month and despite restarting (and paying for) my gym membership I've gone ONCE this month. That was the single most expensive yoga class ever. I also failed at my Whole30 and my plan to stick to a fucking budget.

I fully acknowledge that this is the epitome of first world problems but damn. I really, really want to just go home and drink cheap wine in my plastic lawn chair. But instead I'm going to surprise my students with the thrill of weekly presentation assignments and a 12 page paper.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Belated Happy Birthday, Eli!

My first born turned ELEVEN last week. I think I was having some feelings about the man-child (obviously) because it took me a long time to write his birthday post. This kid. This kid made me a mom and has taught me so much in his eleven short years, not the least of which was learning to appreciate and love the kid you have. He is such a unique human being and I'm always in awe of the thoughts in his brain. His age is finally starting to catch up with his dry sense of humor so you can tell if he's being sarcastic. He still loves WWE, but he also loves Scouting and football and conversating. He is an awesome conversationalist, btw, and he is always piping in with some random conversation starter. 
The traditional breakfast donut

He requested nerf guns and a movie with a friend for his birthday. He was not disappointed. 

Birthday breakfast cake because after the donuts and movie treats, no one, even Eli, was in the mood for ice cream cake. All birthdays should last multiple days, right? 
The major birthday gift was a week long wrestling camp, and my folks paid for him to stay in the dorms. I've sent him out into the woods with dozens of tween and teen boys with no problem, but sending him to sleep in the dorms freaked me right the fuck out. So much that we even got him a dumb phone. The first thing he said was "I feel so independent!" 
So the day after his birthday he and I drove to the coast so I could drop him off at camp. 

I asked him for a gym picture and he rolled his eyes, but right before I left he jumped up and posed. *Swoon*

This is the picture we sent him on the first night, after he got choked up on the phone. Parents, if your kid is homesick SnapChat is magical. 

Seriously. That's my kid in a college dorm room. That made me want to cry. On the other hand, I don't even want to think about how terrible those dorms smelled after a week of wrestling camp with boys who are still mastering personal hygiene.  
 He had an awesome time all told, though I think the first night was pretty tough. Luckily my folks were able to watch a session each day. I think that helped. I also think the free access to Monster energy drinks didn't hurt. He quit responding to our texts after the second day, I think because he knew we could tell he was all amped up.

I'm really excited to see what the next year holds for this one. I'm hoping that it involves a lot more adventures and deodorant.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It's getting HOT in here

This summer is SO WEIRD. Last week we had a couple of lovely 80 degree days, and now this week we have an "Extreme Heat Warning." Legit. It's supposed to be 109 tomorrow. ONE HUNDRED AND FUCKING NINE. I am so grateful that we impulsively upgraded to a central air system last year instead of the swamp cooler wind tunnel. I'm especially grateful since it kicks on at 6:00 am. And I was really, really grateful when Eli spiked a fever last night because of course he did.

Since it's been stupid hot, we've been holed up in our house like hermits. Which means we've started summer break off with all the TV and video games you can take, interspersed by random "Go do something that won't rot your brain!" breaks. Yesterday the girls were begging to go out back and I wouldn't let them, since I had burned my feet earlier on the concrete. No cutesy, "Before you have screen time..." signs in my house yet. We've been taking full advantage of our generous neighbor as soon as it gets cool enough to stand being outside.

Friday, June 16, 2017

What's in your desk?

I love thinking about people's jobs, especially the details. What kinds of e-mails do they get? What interesting tools do they use? What are the little creature comforts that make their day better? There are many things that are unique to working inside a prison. I go through no less than 8 gates on the way to my office, patiently waiting for each one to be opened for me by a mysterious person watching me from afar and then vaguely waving my thanks as I pass through. Each morning I choose my clothes based on the likelihood that I will have to respond to something in the housing unit (no heels because the tiers are perforated metal) or in a remote area of the prison (nothing binding or expensive, make sure I have pockets that day.) My bag is searched as I walk in to ensure that I have not accidentally left anything considered to be contraband in my purse (cellphones, cash, anything with my address on it, heroin, etc.) My cute mason jar salad was confiscated last week because the jar is glass.
I can’t have a camera in my office, but I thought it might be interesting to write about my “Prison Office Essentials.” These are the must-haves that I keep in or on my desk and use regularly.

  1. Hand sanitizer. ALL. THE. TIME. Prison is gross. I’m not super sensitive about germs, but this does make me feel better. Bonus benefit is that the smell is strong enough to mask Eau d’ Incarceration.
  2. Lanyard. I actually have two. One was a give-away and has the name of my prison on it. I wear that one when I’m feeling very Company-Girl. The other is a Vera Bradley number I bought myself last year. I wear that to be Fancy. I only wear my lanyards on days when I don’t have pockets, and I hook my keys and my ID to them. Doubly fun because then my keys bounce off my belly all day.
  3. Sistema convertible silverware. I heart this kit so hard. If you know anyone who works in a secure facility, buy this for them. Because 1) no metal utensils for obvious stabby reasons and 2) we love the Earth and can’t do disposable every day, the only other option was to eat with kids’ utensils from IKEA. Nothing says “professional, independent woman” like eating with a fork that looks like a penis and testicles.
    Image result for ikea kids silverware
    See it? 
  4. My DSM. I have both the DSM IV-TR and the DSM-5 nearby right now because we're still transitioning from the old version. I'm a big advocate of not memorizing reference books so these are well-thumbed. 
  5. Trader Joes Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels. These need no explanation.
  6. Bubbles. This one isn’t universal, but I firmly believe that you should keep bubbles in your desk drawer. Nothing is better for work stress than taking a few seconds to blow bubbles. Fun fact: It is impossible to hyperventilate while you’re blowing bubbles. When I work with inmates in lower security levels, I sometimes will bring in a box of party-favor bubbles when I’m teaching them about the power of breathing.
  7. Tiny framed picture of the kids. Personal pictures of family are discouraged but I like to have a sweet picture of my heathens. This one is wallet sized and is tucked under my computer monitor. I have bigger framed pictures of the hellhounds on my bookshelf.
  8. Small bucket of whistles. We all carry whistles for security. I like to keep a few extras for anyone who doesn't have one or forgot theirs.
  9. Disposable face mask. This one actually lives in the pocket of my stab vest but it's still kind of interesting and it's near my desk, so I'm including it. I don't use these often, but I'm always grateful it's there when I need it. Pro tip: If someone is smearing poop, a little Vicks under your nose will make your life so much better. Vicks plus a face mask and you're golden.
  10. Wonder Woman mug. I keep all my Pilot G2 pens (I love these so much that I buy my own) in here, plus a couple little picket signs that Syd made me that say, "STOP! And be awsum!" There's also a pom pom pen stuck in there for whimsy.
I also have the basics tucked away; tampons, salt and pepper, hair ties, lotion, etc., but I figure those are more run-of-the-mill. So I'm curious. What unique things are on your desk that make your space "yours"? Anything that I should add to my collection?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

On Ambition and Adulting

I've lamented to friends that since stepping down from the chief position, I feel like my ambition switch has been turned off. I'm typically ambitious to a fault. Reviews and references often talk about how I take on a lot of things. Obviously I know that about myself too. The thing is, I'm like a starving person at a buffet when it comes to experiences and opportunities. My life has never been well-planned and most of my major choices tend to follow the phrase, "Fuck it. Why not?"

It seems though, that lately my first response has been, "Fuck it. Why bother?" I am busy at work, and there are components that I enjoy, but for the most part I'm bored. I've conquered my particular mountain, crested the next one, and now I am kind of over the whole range. I can't imagine doing the same thing for the next 20 years, but I also had no inkling of what I'd rather be doing. That's a weird place for me to be because it's so different from where I usually hang out, but I also thought maybe this is part of adulting.

So at the same time that I was settling into stability, other things happened. This weekend at church, the sermon was all about thinking big. Don't ask God for a job, ask God for the perfect job. That started me thinking on what I might want to do if there were no limits. Then Monday, I found out that a job I had drug my feet on and missed the deadline for was re-opened. And then today I had a chance to have a pretty in-depth conversation with a friend about goals and opportunities. What I realized is that, yes, we do trip along in life and fall into opportunities. That's how C and I do adulting. However, I had stopped opening myself up to opportunities that may trip me into something awesome. I wasn't keeping an open mind or thinking creatively, and I certainly haven't been dreaming big. 

I'm feeling a bit more excited again. I still have no idea what I want to do, but I did apply for the job. I've also decided that I'm going to start setting aside time to dream, so that I start to get a better idea of what sounds like it might be awesome. I'm trying to commit to writing more, because I love it and my writing obviously suffers when I'm inconsistent. I'm also keeping an open mind. I'm going to network and train in whatever grabs my interest because I'm lucky enough to have a stable, consistent job that allows me to attend trainings on trauma-based yoga or mindful doodling.

I'm really interested in other people's experiences with this. The typical tenure for my demographic is less than five years, and less than eight in state service. I'm at four in my current position, and while I love a lot of it, I am at least 25 years from retirement. So my question for you is, as adults, how do you explore other career opportunities when you've exceeded the typical "entry level"? And have you ever changed gears professionally? If so, how did you do it?

Because every blog needs a picture

Monday, June 12, 2017

Family portrait - Averson, 2017

Avery drew this at church this weekend. Isn't it the cutest thing ever?

She insisted on calling C from the house phone and it was stupid cute. She called him "My new friend Thomas."