April 23, 2007
Saturday is my big day. It's the day I defend my thesis and take my oral comp exam. In other words, it's the day I officially finish graduate school. Lately, I have been hearing the same question over and over, "So what are your plans for after graduation?" Are you curious too? Well good, because I'm dying to share.
After graduation I'm planning to start a non-profit organization from the ground up. It will be focused on rural community development, and offer consulting services on a sliding scale fee schedule. I've already begun the application process for grant funding. During the development phase I should have some extra time on my hands. I hope to occupy that time by working in the ever-growing field of public financial reform. I can't wait for the opportunity to apply my theoretical knowledge to a real world setting.
Here are my actual post-graduation goals:
- I'm going to take some "me time" and eat at Sonic every single day for the rest of my life. "Don't worry onion rings! Mama's coming to getcha!"
- I'd like to stop feeding James M & Ms and Goldfish crackers for breakfast.
- I plan to pay my electric bill that was due two weeks ago.
- I'm going to clean the bathroom...possibly.
- I'm going to catch up with my old friends from Harmony (in other words, I'm going to watch the soap opera Passions until my brain oozes out of my earholes).
- I'd like to try to get James out of his pajamas before Jared comes home from school at least once a week.
- I plan to return four very overdue library books and never pay the corresponding [outrageous] $50 late fee.
- And finally, I'm going to change out of the grey sweatpants that I've been wearing every minute for the last five months (and take a quick shower before I change back into them).
April 20, 2007
April 14, 2007
Just thought I'd share a quick tip with all of my penny-pinching friends out there.
This month our electric bill was $60 compared to our normal $150. Wow! What a savings!
How did we do it you ask? We made sure to turn off any lights that weren't being used, we didn't vacuum at all, and we only did one load of laundry the entire month (subsequently, we only used the dryer one time).
[sidenote: The granny panties pictured above are not mine, they are up for auction on ebay. No bids yet, so get on it if you're interested!!!]
April 13, 2007
This past winter, I fell into my first-ever self-induced-pity-funk. After wallowing around for a few weeks (snapping at my husband, wishing life was more like a Hallmark commercial, and listlessly watching daytime TV) I decided to defunkify my life. My game plan was plain and simple--try new things. I thought it would be fun to mix life up a bit, and put myself out on that old proverbial limb. So I did--when I got a haircut I got some bangs, I tried exotic new recipes, I went to some swanky Dallas wine get-togethers, and I joined a basketball team. Yes, I joined a freaking basketball team.
Ladies and gentlemen, there are two reasons why I run. 1) I run so I can eat candy, cookies, chocolate, cake and cheetos, and 2) I run because I have sucked at every other sport and physical activity that I have ever participated in. It's true:
- I used to take dance class--when everyone else did cartwheels across the stage at the annual recital, I had to do some lame-o leaps. When I enthusistically leaped out of stage right, the applause unfailingly ceased...people were confused. By the time I'd lept my way to stage left, I was crying...every year. Stupid-ass dance class.
- I couldn't pass beginners 2 in kid-swimming. I'll be trying again this summer.
- I took ice-skating lessons. I was awesome at circling to the left, but let me tell you, circling to the right is not as easy as it looks (this skating difficulty carried over into my short-lived ice-hockey career in 1998).
- And finally, my fresman field hockey team had a 0-21 record...I was the goalie.
Well guess what? Now I can add baketball to my list of things that I stink at. What a shocker.
My friend Cynthia promised me that playing basketball would be fun. This, my friends, was the most empty promise of fun that I've received in my entire life. She also promised me that it wouldn't be competitive--let's just go ahead and file that in the empty promises folder, too. When woman are lacing up ankle braces and popping in mouth guards, things are bound to get a little rough.
But you know what I hate the most? When my teammates try to tell me that I'm good at basketball. "Oh, stop being so hard on yourself!" "You're not bad at this." "Nice steal!" Yup, it would have been a nice steel if I hadn't take the ball from my very own teammate. Ladies, this is a Church basketball league, we're playing this game in the house of the Lord, so let's just stop with the bold-faced lies, ok?
Bottom line? Basketball is not my thing, and the stats speak for themselves:
Games played: 2. Shots taken: 3. Points earned: 0. Rebounds: 0. Fouls: 4. Embarrassing moments: 42. Moments of confusion: 80. Spells of spontaneous crying: 1. Holding back spells of spontaneous crying: 2.
So there ya have it, basketball is not fun. But Cynthia, if you're ever looking for a real good time you should come over and change James's diaper--I promise you, it's fun!
April 12, 2007
We bought James a potty seat for his second birthday. You must understand that this is no boring, run-of-the-mill potty seat--this is a Dora the Explorer potty seat. It's nice and cushioned and it's dotted with pictures of Dora, her nifty backpack, and her monkey-buddy Boots. But the best detail? It has the word "vaminos!" printed all over it [note: vaminos is the spanish equivilant of "let's go!"--very appropriate, don't ya think?]
Inititally, James seemed quite excited when he opened the potty-seat. He pulled it out of the gift bag, unwrapped the tissue paper, and locked eyes with one of the little Dora characters. "Oh wow!" he said, "Mommy o-pen?" Well of course! I took the seat out of it's crunchy plastic housing and handed it to James. He immediately put in on top of his little head, smiled an enormous smile and said "Nice hat! Hat!" And this my friends, was the first indication that my child might not be ready for potty training.
Jared and I made a quick decision and agreed that the best approach was to let James casually play with the potty a bit---that way he could discover for himself how much fun these things really are! When Jared and I left the living room a few minutes later, he was proudly sporting his new hat as he rode his little bike around the living room. When we returned a moment later, he was running over the potty seat with his bike...repeatedly. Forward, reverse, *snicker*, forward, reverse, *snicker, forward, reverse, *snicker*. Clearly, this was our second sign that James is not ready to be potty trained.
And the third sign was clearly delivered to us on our balcony. James likes to stand on top of a cooler so he can watch the action over our second story porch railing (he's developing his neighborly eavesdropping skills early). I was supervising this cooler-standing-stunt when he casually mentioned the potty seat..."Mommy, where d'potty?" I mistakenly interpreted this interest as a glimmer of hope. So we went inside, fetched the potty and resumed our nightly cooler perch. I handed James the potty seat, he proudly held it with both hands and proclaimed "now I frow it! Weady, set..." Fortunatly, I intercepted the seat before its imminent release. James was dissapointed. "Nooooo...I frow it!!!!!"
Sorry big guy, but that Dora potty-seat was $12 and your mommy is on a budget. We're not tossing it off the balcony, we're not running it over with the bike, but I see no reason why you can't wear it as a hat. So Happy Birthday buddy, I sure hope you enjoy your awesome new headwear (?).
April 11, 2007
For all of my avid readers (according to my comments, I have none), you will notice that this is my second post of the day. "Why" you might wonder "is a girl who has to defend her thesis and take oral comps in a week, clean a pig sty apartment, and wrap her kid's birthday gifts blogging when she's just so busy?" Well folks, I'll tell you why. I am busy, I am overwhelmed, and there aren't enough hours in this day--but that heartfelt post from earlier simply failed to meet my needs. According to this era's physch-babble-lingo, I'm getting to know the inner-me--and the inner me seems to require some dose of reality-humor to feel satisfied, so here it goes...
I'm married. I have been for almost five years. In those years I've learned about the distinction between love and like. For example, I love my husband always--I like my husband most of the time. Today my friends, I'm not liking the old man so much. In honor of these irrational-throw-me-under-a-van-PMS induced feelings, I've compiled a short list of things I do *on occassion* to ruffle the old husbandly feathers.
1. From time to time I'll 'inadvertantly' switch the CD case in Jared's car. You see, we have three CD cases in our family: his musics, my music, and plain old crap. So Jared will be driving down the avenue and get a hankering to listen to some Pearl Jam or Dave Matthew's--but thanks to the old switcharoo, he has to settle for Celine Dionne or Comtemporary Christian Hits Volume II. Don't ask me why, but I feel so much satisfaction when I hear the old Blazer pull up and Jared is dispassionatley singing along to Endless Love.
2. Sometimes, like today, I'll pack multiple bean-based items in Jared's lunch. That way he'll fart his ass off during a quiet meeting or in a hands-on lab. Many apologies to Jared's classmates and lab partners.
3. Jared hates little messes. So sometimes I set them up in his favorite places around the house. You know how it goes, I empty a Barrel of Monkeys on the floor next to his side of bed, put some tub toys between the sheets, let Gracie gnaw on a carrot in his closet, empty a box or two of crayons into his bathroom drawer. He gets so exasperated--sweet, sweet satisfaction.
4. And finally, every once-in-a-while, when we're in a tiff, I give James some casual shoe-tying lessons. In other words I'm like "James buddy, come here and play with the stringy part of Daddy's shoe." I swear that kid is going to be an Eagle Scout some day--his knots are invincible.
So there you have it. Some tips to cope with normal, marital frustration. And may heaven pour endless blessings upon the head of my saintly husband.
April 11, 2007
It's hard for me to swallow the fact that James is two today, but he most definitely is. Two years ago today my life took a fast turn toward motherhood, and I'm so very grateful that it did. James is quite simply a blessing and my own personification of joy. Never did I imagine that I could love so a person so much, and somehow he seems to love me equally in return. To love and to be loved, this is what my life is all about.
In his two year tenure, James has managed to teach me a multitude of unintentional and unconventional lessons. When I take the time to stop and think about the morals of these stories, I learn that I would be a much happier person if I lived like him. Here are a few that come to mind:
If someone is angry with you instead of fighting back, just give them some affection--they're probably having a tough day.
If you step in poop and it ends up all over your shoes, your pants, your hands and the slide, just wipe it up and keep on playing--a little bit of poop doesn't have to ruin a perfectly good day.
Read books, lots of books. And if you can, read books while you're snuggled up with the person you adore.
Sing songs when you feel happy, and sing songs to other people when they feel sad. Sing songs you know, or make up new ones. You don't have to have a great voice to sing a solo with confidence.
And finally, homework won't go away on its own, but the urge to dance in the kitchen will definitely pass. So just dance now and work later.Thanks for the lessons, James. You are 35 pounds of pure wisdom. We're going to have fun today!
April 5, 2007
There's this Christian radio station that I like to listen to from 1-2 every weekday. They have a call-in show that's kind of like Dr. Laura, but a little less abrasive. People call in, they describe the ridiculous predicaments they've gotten themselves into, and plead for guidance. I love that! I can't tell you how much I enjoy listening to other peoples' self-inflicted troubles--it's my daily self-esteem boost. I listen and think "Oh my gosh! You freaking idiot! I would neeeevver do that!" "C'mon, what did you think was going to happen when you married a girl who never finished middle school!?" "Oooooh, ok, I've done that too...let's just get to the next caller."
Lately, I've been paying attention to the commercials on this radio station. Most of them are equally entertaining and something along these lines:
Make $100,000 a year working one hour a day from home!
Look 25 years younger in thirty minutes for only five dollars!
and my new favorite...
Try the Ten Days of Chocolate diet and lose up to 20 pounds!
What?! The commercial goes on to tell the listener that they can eat unlimited amounts of real chocolate for ten days and lose their pesky flab. I'm sorry folks, I hate to poop the party, but there's simpy no way that this can be true. If you eat as much chocolate as you want for the next ten days you will lose one thing, and one thing only...your booty appeal to the opposite sex. In other words, you will become a broken-out-hunk-o-lard with an extra-large-side-of-saddle-bags. I know this, I've been pregnant.
I will however, let you on my own little dieting secret. Yesterday I ate a mini-bag of Cheetos. On second thought, "mini" is really not an appropriate adjective, so let me try it again. Yesterday I ate one honkin' bag of Cheetos. The bag was really deceiving. It was purchased at a Willie Nelson Bio-Diesel gas station and labelled "Big Grab." Back in my day, the big grab housed one or two servings of whatever crap it was that you were consuming--well, times have changed. This big grab had four servings of cheesy-powdered-goodness, 640 calories, and 40 whopping grams of fat! "Totally and utterly disgusting!!!" I thought.
And then I ate the whole thing.
Well, I woke up this morning, feeling fantastic. I felt even more fantastic when I stepped on the scale and learned that I had lost two pounds.
April 4, 2007
I am a mom, and I am a grad student. These might seem like two completely unrelated undertakings, but you'd be amazed at how much my two worlds overlap.
I am finally--and thankfully--in the fourth and final year of my two-year grad program, which means I am finally--and thankfully--graduating in May. You might wonder why I have taken so long to complete this 36 credit degree, and the answer is simple. I'm getting a Master's in Public Administration and let's face it, the s*** is boring. You would have needed some diversions in your educational path, too.
As the crowning jewel of this snoring-boring degree program, I have to pass an "oral comprehensive exam." The academics call it "oral comps" for short, and I simply call it "another-test-that-I'll-cram-for-and-forget-it-all-tomorrow-anyway." But that title is too long for James to remember, so I refer to the test as "poop" when I'm talking to James. For example, "shhhh...Mommy is studying poop, " or "Mommy needs to concentrate because she needs to take her big poop soon."
Anywho, the big test goes like this...my advisor emails me eight questions related to my field of study. I learn the answers to all eight and have to answer four of the questions in front of a panel of my professors. Bottom line is this: you look way too ridiculously passionate about public administration and you get to graduate, or you look like a total and complete dumb-brain and you cry from sun-up to sun-down on May 12th. Both options have their advantages, but I'm shooting for the first one.
I finally got my oral comp questions this week and the studying has begun [sidenote: studying has consisted of me plugging key words into wikipedia and seeing if someone has already done the work for me]. I want to take this time to discuss how the real-me would like to answer a few of these questions.
Because I want you to keep reading, I have paraphrased the questions:
Q. You want to change the culture of an organization to reflect a greater commitment to citizen service. Outline two management strategies to do so.
A. Oh my gosh...I don't care! How about you hire bikini-clad super models to work at the town office and give people and order of mozzeralla sticks when they pay their taxes. That's two strategies...there ya go.
Q. Define the various forms of privatization. Discuss the conditions necessary to ensure the likely success of privatization.
A. 1) Buy mini-blinds, install them and keep them shut.
2) Wear pants when you go to the grocery store, and then keep them on the whole time.
3) When your neighbors are home, rely on silent hand-gestures to show your spouse how exasperated you are with him.
Q. Select a level of government you would like to work for as public manager (federal, state, local), outline your strategy to increase levels of citizen trust in your government agency.
A. Ok, I watch Dr. Phil--I know that people who can't trust have issues rooted in childhood. If they don't trust me, we'll hold a bake sale and use the proceeds to send them to therapy. And if that doesn't work we'll drive 'em out of town...I don't want those types in my world anyway.
Q. Illustrate and explain contrasting perspectives of equity and efficiency in U.S. society.
A. (?) I'm not even going to waste my brain power on that kind of junk.
So there you have it, my real-life answers to the oral comps. Wish me luck my friends!
April 3, 2007
Every time I get back in touch with old friends on myspace/friendster/facebook, they inevitably ask the same question… "are you still running?!" Welp, it's complicated…so if you're curious, please read on.
For those of you who don't know, I was a kick-ass runner ten years ago. I ran the mile in 5:09 and the two mile in 11:57 (for all you non-runners out there, those are fab times). I was the CT State Champ and the New England runner-up in the two mile, and I won my age group in the 7-mile Falmouth Road Race (42 minutes folks…that 6 minutes per mile). Oh the glory days!!!! I would lace up my shoes, set my watch and just run. It was so simple, and I was so good at it.
Well, time has marched on and life has changed—a lot. In the past ten years I've gotten married, adopted my husband's hyper-thyroidal eating habits, gained 15 donut-pounds, had a baby, gained and lost one hell of a badong-gadong butt, and started running again. I've noticed some distinct differences between running then and now, and I thought this would be a suitable forum to explore them.
Please refer to the discussion below:
1997-Running was natural, fun and challenging
2007-Liposuction would be a lot easier than this
1997-I felt like a Kenyan
2007-I feel like a nursing home resident who’s at risk of falling in the shower.
1997-Running required shorts, a t-shirt, shoes and socks. Sometimes I wore a watch.
2007-Running requires a membership to an on-line running forum, a membership to the YMCA, a subscription to Runner’s World magazine, specially fitted shoes from a running shop, wicking socks, a top-of-the-line baby jogger, a fully-charged MP3 player (with motivational songs like Eye of the Tiger and We Will Rock You), mace, my cell phone (so I can call friends and family and have them tell me what a good job I’m doing), running shorts with built-in underoos, a dri-fit shirt, a reflective vest (I’m a mom now—safety first), and the piece-de-resistance…a GPS unit.*
1997-I was faster than anyone I knew
2007-I’m way faster than every single member of the weight loss group for retired people that meets at the park near my apartment…suckers.
The good news is I'm still winning. I have two strategies for my continued success. First, I enter the smallest, most obscure races that I can possibly find. My chances of winning an age group award increase drastically when there are only 3 or 4 other ladies in my age group. This is how I picked up my victory in the JL Long PTA 5k last fall. It was held on a Thursday night and the field consisted of middle school kids, their parents, and me—just the way I like it.
I also scored a medal at the Too Cold to Hold 5k this past January. I woke up the morning of this race and it was 30 degrees and pouring down freezing rain—the newscasters were begging people to stay off of the roads. My first thought? "Perfect, no one is going to be there….I'm gonna get me a trophy." And I did.
My second strategy is almost as fool proof. In some races, women who weigh 150 pounds or more are eligible to register in the Clydesdale division. I have no pride; if it will score me some hardware I will take on the name of a giant work-horse that drinks beer instead of water. Hell, if it would increase my chances of winning a trophy I'd sign up for the "flabby-assed-junk-in-the-trunk-over-due-pregnant-elephant division"—fine with me. Now don't get me wrong, 150 pounds is not even close to hefty; most women are just too timid to put their weight down in writing anywhere, including a race entrance form. I generally hover between 147 and 152 pounds, so sometimes I don't make the Clydesdale cut. But you can bet your bottom dollar that the night before a Clydesdale race you'll find me eating country-fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, banana bread and an ice cream sundae—I want to make the weight cut, so I give it my best effort.
So the answer is yes, I still run. But "running," my friends, is a relative term.
* Yes, I actually carry a GPS unit when I run. It tells me how far and "fast" I'm running. Basically, it tells me if I'm running slow-speed, really slow-speed, or you-should-be-really-embarrassed-speed. The freaking thing never stops beeping. [note: it's set to beep twice when I'm running slower than my target pace— 9 minute miles]
March 19, 2007
I've been having some trouble sleeping lately. The typical sleep troubles--difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, a vivid & recurring dream that my husband is walking around with a mini-pad stuck to his head, etc.
March 15, 2007
So I was standing around at the park this morning, chatting it up with some other hot-moms. James was running around somewhere, probably balancing on top of something tall, while I was holding Gracie on her leash (FYI: she's a dog, not a child). Gracie seemed kind of quiet, so I turned around to see what she was up to. I was a little flustered to find that her head was nuzzled into someone's jogging stroller. The flustration level went through the roof when I discovered that my pooch was licking the butter off of a waffle that was sitting in the stroller...obviously some kid's snack for later. Welp, I didn't know who the stroller belonged to and we had to leave the park. Sorry kiddo! Hope you liked your waffle....my dog sure did!