Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Big Day in the Work World

You know when you have an EPIC thing happen at work, and you want to tell EVERYONE about it, but then you remember that just possibly EVERYONE doesn't find your work details quite as exiting as you do?  Yeah?  Well... don't say I didn't warn you.

So one major part of my job is evaluating the home visitation program for our state, and part of that evaluation involved getting our state developed program recognized nationally as evidence based.  I will try not to get too wordy here, but being evidence based in the research world is HUGE.  It is critical because it basically says "this doesn't just sound like it will work, it actually DOES work".   Because the thing is, lots of things that sound like great ideas just don't work (like the DARE program... great idea, tons of money poured into it, absolutely no impact on drug use).  I talk with my students about this all the time.  You can't just think it sounds good, without positive results you are simply spinning your wheels and wasting everyone's time and money.  So, being evidence based is where it's at, but proving something works is harder than you might think.

That, in a weird way, sums up my entire job.  "Being evidence based is where it's at, but proving something works is harder than you might think." Lots of people working in research are basically making a career out of that statement.

Anyway, our team has been working for four years to get our program recognized as evidence based, and today it happened.


This will save our state a ton of money, but more importantly, (to us as evaluators...maybe not to the state) it validates a ton of hard work from a ton of great people. It provides the seal of approval to a program we were all passionately behind.  A program we believe can change lives for the better.  Today we heard that the powers that be agree.  And THAT is a great feeling.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


So yesterday evening I asked Henry if he wanted to go ride his bike.  I would like to pretend that this is a daily activity, but in actuality I have no idea when he last rode his bike.  In fact, when we were recently at the doctor the doc asked him if he rides his bike and he said "Well... I USED TO..."  Like we threw his bike away or something.  I immediately jumped in and was like "HAHAHAH... you still ride our bike sometimes! We have just been busy with tball!"  Because I feared the next question would result in Henry declaring his undying love of video games and possibly Mountain Dew, and while we may let him play video games and drink pop we also strongly encourage moving his body around and going outside from time to time.  I decided to highlight the latter rather than the former with the pediatrician... I figure it's a classic parenting move.

ANYWAY, we were going on a bike ride. NOTHING UNUSUAL ABOUT THAT.  And as we were walking out of the front door a movement caught my eye.  A really... unusual movement.  Sorta like something slithering.

Oh god you guys, it was a FREAKING SNAKE.





So, the SNAKE was maybe a foot long and about as big around as my thumb.  It keeps getting longer in my head (MAYBE IT WAS TWO FEET???) but I am going to stick with my first analysis, which is around a foot.  Here's the thing though...


It is hard for me to judge how big it was because, you know it was SLITHERING, but it wasn't slithering AWAY from us.  Oh no, that would be too easy for my NIGHTMARES.  It was slithering TOWARDS US.  So I was like, "Henry, is that... is that a SNAKE?!?!"  Right as I saw the last eight inches or so start to disappear into a HOLE IN THE STEP. YOU KNOW, THE STEP I WAS STANDING ON THAT HOLDS THE DOOR TO OUR HOUSE.






For the record, I was amazing calm about this all as it happened.  Really, I was.  I was more in shock because never in my life have I seen a snake anywhere around our neighborhood.  So I lived in a snake free world.  So when it was there I was like, "Could it be... no..." And then as it settled in that it WAS, it was already gone.  There wasn't anything to do but walk on out, so I just let it go.  Or so I thought.

But now, a day later, I keep thinking about it and... UGH. FREAKING SNAKE. 

I guess I will break it to Nick tonight that we are going to need to move.



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Let's Talk Teaching

 So you remember how I am teaching again this semester?  Well, turns out teaching is SO MUCH EASIER the second time around.  I can't even begin to tell you how much simpler this all feels.  I know the material, I have my lectures prepared, I just walk in and talk.  IT. IS. AMAZING. And honestly, just so much simpler than I thought possible. Not that it doesn't take time, because it does, but I really like my group of (99!) kids. They seem interested in the topic, which is all you can ask for an introductory class.   I mean, the fact that they continue to come, even though I don't take attendance, kinda blows my mind.  Every day I walk in and think "Welp, this is the day I will only have ten show up..." but again and again I am talking to a full room (Chapel) of students. 

I have also got a much better hold on some general management this semester and have managed to divide some of responsibilities this semester between my TAs so I do not feel the need to DO ALL THE THINGS.  Turns out NOT doing all the things is awesome. I highly recommend delegating. 

All in all I am constantly surprised by how much I enjoy the teaching aspect of my job.... while continually debating if I will ever do it again.  But with how this semester has started, I am starting to grow more confident in my abilities, and even thinking that I would miss the teaching if it went away.  It adds stress, and allows a little less time for things like sleeping and blogging, but the student interaction is nice.  And the spreading of knowledge is nice.  And... I don't know, not to over simplify it, but leaving a mark on these students, hopefully making a little bit of a difference in how they see the world and how they choose to interact with it, that feels really amazing.

Back when I was a student I wrote a blog post about the time I gave to school was time I took from my family, so in the end it had to be worth it, because that time was precious.  That still rings true. Teaching for me is an option, not a requirement, so I am regularly weighing the pros and cons of continuing.  Is it worth the fast food dinner?  Is it worth the weekend hours I spend emailing or reviewing or preparing?  Is it worth my time, which, not to be selfish, but is MINE.  So far this semester I am going with yes. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Just Gonna Leave this Here...

So, life is busy. I keep saying it, so I am going to stop and just assume you know I will blog when I can. For now, I will just leave this here to brighten your Friday.

The kids are doing a Mustache Dash for their school fundraiser.  Boo snapped these pictures of them after the pep rally.  Seriously, could they be any cuter?
I mean, come on.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What I am doing Instead of Blogging...

Nearly a week without a post.  Have a I been doing really important things like saving the world?  Wellll.....

1.  I read this book.
AAAAHHHHH..... I love this series so freaking much.  Queen of Shadows in the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series and it has become one of my favorite book series of all time.  It has also managed to get better with each book, which is always awesome.  If you like fantasy books with strong female characters (also excellent male characters, but this series has some kick ass women in it and I LOVE that) then I am going to go ahead and tell you again, YOU SHOULD READ THIS.

2.  We bought this game.

And all four of us (remember, Emily lives with us now!) are having a blast playing.  Last night Emily said "All I could think about at work was getting home so I could make some new Mario boards!"  Henry and Nick were both so excited for this to come out, but I didn't really think I would get into it.  Oh how wrong I was...

3. We have been celebrating birthdays....
First Mom's...
Then Boo's

4.  Also, there has been lots of time spent with these two

 Life is busy, but all is well. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Cousins Cabin Weekend Surprise!

So remember last year when we went on the first annual Cousins Cabin Weekend?  It was amazing, and we had immediate plans to do the EXACT SAME THING (but with less traffic) this year.  Then life stuff came up and our plans got postponed, then sorta canceled with a "we will get that on the calendar soon..."

It was sorta starting to look like our "annual" Cousins Cabin Weekend might miss year two entirely, when Blair stepped in and said "You know... Matt's turning 30 and you know what would be a REALLY fun??"


So all the cousins who could make it (We missed you Caleb, Chris, Nicole, Nieem, and Catee!) met up over the holiday weekend for Matt's Surprise Birthday/2nd annual Cousins Cabin Weekend(CCW) event.  It was awesome. Seriously, we love this group of people so stinkin much...
At the top of the birthday boy's list of things to do was to ride Go Karts.

Lots and lots of Go Karts.
As in, four tracks in a matter of maybe two hours. But how do you know which track is the BEST track if you don't attempt to ride them all??
There was only one crash in all of that Go Karting, and it happened when I was driving... with Henry.  We came around a turn and he was like "GO AS FAST AS YOU CAN MAMA!"  I did... it did not end well.  But all was fine and beyond a sudden stop and NEAR MISS on Thomas T-boning us (THANK GOD THAT DID NOT HAPPEN) all was fine.  I just had to hang my head in shame a little because... you know THE CHILD WAS IN MY KART.
Also on Matt's list of things to try was the escape game Trapped.  If you don't know what this is, it's where they lock you in a room and you have one hour to escape.  we have a different version in our home town and I had been wanting to try it, so I was excited!  This is our before picture.  Guys, we were so confident. SO SO CONFIDENT. We are a group of very smart people! How hard can it be??  Oh man.  HARD. IT CAN BE REALLY HARD.
So yeah. We failed. We look so sad in our after picture...  BUT we loved it!  And want to try again, maybe on the THIRD annual CCW!  Now that we know what it's like, we are back to CONFIDENT that we can figure this shit out...
Our only complaint about CCW #1 was that we didn't spend enough time at the cabin just being together.  We worked hard to fix that this time, so beyond Go Karts and Trapped we pretty much spent the rest of the time at the cabin playing games (EXPLODING KITTENS IS AWESOME!), eating good food, drinking good drinks, laughing, and just enjoying being together
It was exactly as perfect as we thought it would be

Saturday evening I was like "We need to take pictures!  I LOVE our pictures from last year!" So four of us got out our cameras and started attempting to capture CCW which funnily enough resulted in us taking lots of pictures of each other taking pictures

And also, at least few good shots of these awesome people.

 Man, I loved everything about this weekend.  I think we are all solidly in the camp of being sure CCW3 happens next year.  Our only complaint as we walked out the door was that man, it still didn't feel like we had long enough together. I am not sure that's a problem we can fix with a single weekend.  So, until next time, we are just left wanting to do it again. Soon!