The Best Ideas are Stolen Ones

I enjoy a good list post, so I stole  used this template from Emily, who borrowed it from K, who borrowed it from Janet. Now that my grad student side is satisfied that I have properly cited my sources, allow me to begin thinking about things that end with -ing:
Making: Progress on my capstone project for grad school. This feels very good after over a month of total stagnation. I’ve been steadily chipping away at my lit review and am starting to see the final structure of the thing come together. I am cautiously optimistic that I’ll be able to defend in January.
Cooking: Er, not much this week. I did make some excellent cookies this weekend though. Take one basic chocolate chip recipe and add chopped up bits of caramel and several healthy scoops of butterscotch chips= chewy and yummy.
Drinking: Sigh. I was off the Diet Coke for over a month but fell off the wagon. I’m back on my morning Diet Coke fix.
Reading: Books on college access and completion. Good times.
Wanting: Three days by myself to work on my capstone and a savings account that is a little healthier. Also for red boots.
Looking: Like a teenager, but only in the oily, breaking out kind of way. My skin is going a little insane right now. But I like to think that the new gray hair on my temples should distract from the zit, I think.
Playing: There has not been nearly enough play in my week this week. It has been a busy week with some late nights at work. I’m in the mood for a big Lego project with the kid this weekend.
Wishing: For a good outcome related to a tough situation with Miles’ school situation.
Enjoying: We have our first DVR and I am sort of obsessed with it. Shows whenever I want! Imagine. I’ve recently added “Jane the Virgin” and “Blackish” to the list of “record all episodes” shows.
Waiting: For trick-or-treating tomorrow and the prospect of stealing candy from the children. Dear beloved offspring: Your Milk Duds are mine.
Wondering: What the outcome of a current work situation that has the potential to be very, very interesting.
Loving: Cold press coffee with a shot of caramel and room for cream.
Hoping: For a good night sleep with no anxiety dreams. Last night it was a plane crash dream, which was, I guess, at least a break from the recent recurring dreams about people yelling at me.
Marveling: At how nasty political ads are.
Needing: An ottoman for my reading nook and some more pillows for the downstairs reading chair. But I am on a bit of a shopping break these days, so I shall wait until the new year.
Wearing: My standard after work uniform: yoga pants and a baggy t-shirt. The very definition of “phoning it in”, fashion wise.
Following: All the Ebola stuff, partially out of interest, partially as a job responsibility. I am not worried but putting together research for work makes me think that a college campus would be about the worst place ever for an outbreak. This is, after all, a population with a higher than average level of contact with each other’s bodily fluids.
Noticing:  That Miles is really starting to stretch out and lose all the last spots of baby chub.
Knowing: That my research topic for my capstone was well chosen. This is a very good feeling.
Feeling: A bit tired but with a high level of overall life satisfaction. This move and the new job has been good for me.
Bookmarking: This one: http://itsliketheyknowus.tumblr.com/ So funny.
Happy Halloween everyone!

Dreaming

I know that talking about your dreams is considered a politeness no-no as nobody really ever cares about someone else’s dreams but, honestly, what is the point of having a tiny blog if I can’t use it to bore other people about my dreams?

I’ve been having anxiety dreams lately, all of which have involved me getting yelled at by men. First there was the one where my brother-in-law, a teddy bear of a guy, was screaming at me, then there was Neil deGrasse Tyson yelling at me because I was driving us and kept getting lost, and then last night Tim Gunn was enraged at me because I was a finalist on Project Runway and I showed up for the Fashion Week runway show with bags full of used clothes from Lane Bryant. I kept claiming that the other designers had sabotaged me but dream me may have been lying about that. I was kind of frantic and distracted by the fact that all the models were making fun of how frumpy my clothes were. Bitches.

I used to have anxiety dreams about losing the baby. She was always in the bed somewhere, I was sure, but I just couldn’t find her. My frantic patting of the covers would often wake up Mr. Monkey who would assure me that the baby was in her bed, right where we left her. I haven’t had one of those dreams in a while, which is interesting not that she is actually now old enough and craft enough to have really escaped from our house somehow.

I’m 99% sure my anxiety is grad school related. I’ve actually been making some good progress on my writing and research lately, but it is the sort of progress where the more you do, the more you realize how much you still have left. I’m feeling pretty excited about the work I’m doing right now but I finding large chunks of time to work on it (which is my preferred work style, which as you can imagine, is super impractical when one also has children and a job and a strong desire to sleep at least seven hours a night) is hard to come by. I’ve been trying to chip away at it everyday which is good but seems to be triggering some kind of internal freak out.

Hopefully as I keep making progress, my dreams will settle down and all the yelling will stop. I need Tim Gunn to go back to being a helpful internal life coach. I promise, Tim, I’m trying to make it work.

Quick takes

I’m traveling for work this week, staying at lakeside resort that is rustic and lovely, but heavier on the rustic. I’m at a conference for higher education administrators and there are 300 of us here, all trying to check email and stay obsessively connected to our offices. The wifi, designed to support a resort filled with families actually going outside and enjoying nature, keeps buckling under the strain of iPhones and laptops, so I’ll keep this shortish so I don’t cause the next crash.

I’ve been working on some writing in some other places, so wanted to share a few quick links:

Writing here about being a parent and a grad student: https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/gradhacker/father-knows-best

Writing here about being a second wife: http://www.pgeveryday.com/health-wellbeing/love-relationships/article/how-i-learned-to-love-his-ex

Writing here about the kids you find on every playground: http://www.pgeveryday.com/family-life/parenting/article/the-7-kids-you-find-on-every-playground

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On an unrelated subject, since the I seem to have three whole bars of connection at the moment, I think I am turning into a white girl stereotype. Although I do not love pumpkin spice lattes, I do feel sort of obsessed with how much I am loving fall this year. It has been a mild and warmer than usual autumn and the leaves are gorgeous and the weather is crisp and perfect and I just want to stroll around outside with leggings and boots on with a nice chunky scarf around my next. I am basically turning into a non-skinny version of this:

pumpkin-spice-girl

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And finally, a question: what is the going rate for the tooth fairy in your neck of the woods? My kiddo is on the verge of losing his first tooth (which is good because his adult tooth is already up so he has a shark tooth situation going on right now) and I suspect the shiny quarter I used to get back in the day probably doesn’t cut it anymore.

Things I Miss

I was at a work function the other day and was being introduced to people from several community agencies. I mentioned that I was new to the area and, when asked where I came from, mentioned that my most recent home was Iowa. An older man in the group said “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that!” and when “Pardon?” he responded with “Well, don’t you know that Iowa stands for I Owe the World an Apology?”. This was the start of a very short but very weird rant on his part on how lousy Iowa is (it is, in his view, a place filled with racist rubes whose sole form of entertainment is watching corn grow). It was exceedingly awkward, as conversations go, and I found myself feeling rather defensive about my previous state.

Although Iowa wasn’t meant to be the forever home of the Monkey family, there are things about it that I miss, including:

1. My best buddy E. and her sweet family. I lived across the street from my best friend. How lucky was I? I miss them every day.

2. My neighborhood: New neighborhood seems great so far, but old neighborhood will be hard to beat in terms of friendliness and neighbors who were kind and caring and welcoming.

3. The restaurant within the grocery store phenomenon. Perhaps there are grocery stores here that have the same thing, but the I liked the Hy-Vee, where I could do some homework, eat some totally acceptable pancakes and then go pick up some milk on my way home. All the grocery store down the street here does is, well, sell groceries. Where do all the old people go to drink coffee and chat?

4. My son’s old school. I am ambivalent about his current school so I miss the school around the corner he used to go to school.

5. Parts of Iowa are quite pretty, especially this time of year. I wish I had taken one more hike around Lake Ahquabi before I left. Or done a bike ride on one of the great rails to trails routes in town.

6. The traffic, or lack thereof. It took me close to 45 minutes to get to work the other day and my work is about 6 miles away. It was a worse than usual day but still: Suuuuuuuucks. Rush hour in Iowa? A minor slow down most of the time. Easy peasy.

So, in conclusion, dear vehement Iowa hater: Chill. Take a road trip to Des Moines, drink a boozy milkshake at Zombie Burger and maybe not air out your geography hatred quite so openly during work meetings. Weirdo.

House tour continued: The Nook

Out house is an older house with a converted attic space as the upstairs master bedroom. We are lucky in that the folks who lived here before us did a great job with the updates and renovations they made and this space is no exception. In a relatively small house, it is probably the biggest room in the house and has enough room for Mr. Monkey to have an office space and for me to have my favorite space in the house: a reading nook.

It is hard to get a great shot of this space with the layout of the upstairs, but just assume you’ve walked up a relatively steep staircase and on your right hand side is this space:

BeFunky_nook 1.jpg

A cozy orange chair, a little lamp and my ever growing stack of books to be read. I think I might like to add an ottoman or a foot rest of some sort, but it is nearly perfect as a little space of my own.

We are still putting the finishing touches on the rest of the room, which currently looks like so:

BeFunky_bedroom.jpg

Even with the desk and the bed and the dresser there is still a lot of floor space in here. A part of me wishes I could steal a bit and make a coat closet for the lower level (a house in Minnesota with no coat closet? I’m not sure I understand the logic) but alas I am not a home improvement genie.

The house is really starting to feel like home now.

On an unrelated note, I’ve decided my son is on a mission to embarrass me with his lack of social limits. The first weekend we were here he decided he wanted to meet the kid who lived in the house behind us (our yards are separated by an alley and they don’t have a back fence…yet) so he wandered over and walked DIRECTLY INTO THEIR HOUSE. I hustled across the street to apologize and Miles was like “what? I just wanted to say hi”.

Today he went over to our next door neighbors to see if he could play at their house with their daughter…wearing only his underwear. Aside from the fact that it was only 60 degrees, this is problematic on several levels. One is that he was inviting himself over and two: WHERE ARE YOUR PANTS CHILD?

(I feel I should note that I was up in my nook at the time, so didn’t see him begin the nudie march to next door)

I guess I should just be glad he at least knocked over there and that they sent him back home with the words “XX will play with you…once you are wearing clothes.”

Sigh. The joys of parenting the highly social, totally oblivious six year old boy.

Choose Your Own Adventure

I am feeling very aware these days of having a deep sense of well-being. My family is, aside from the everyday annoyances and bickering between siblings, doing well and has made the transition into living in a new place look easy. I enjoy my new job. I love my new house. I don’t have a real friend in the new city yet, but I have good pocket friends (I’m @wendyrmonkey if you aren’t already my friend on Twitter) and my best buddies are all just an email away. Things are good and I am trying to enjoy the feeling of being comfortable in my own life.

Given my level of contentment with my current situation, it may sound odd for me to confess that I’ve been thinking lately about some of the roads I didn’t take in my past, the opportunities I didn’t say yes to, the risks I didn’t take. I wish I could freeze my current life for a little bit and have some alternate version of myself say yes to some of these experiences:

- When I was newly graduated from college, I got offered a position to be a live-in nanny for an NBA player and his wife. I’d care for their toddler twins and travel with them. I got this job offer the same week I got offered my first “real” job in my field and so I took the real job. It was the better choice professionally but I always kind of wonder what it would have been like to live in a fancy house and travel with that family.

- I did a brief study abroad stint in college but now I wish I had done at least one more. Traveling that way is so much easier than it is as an adult with real responsibilities.

- Sometimes I wish had gone to a different (cheaper) college. I’m still paying off my student loans and I have mixed feelings about my alma mater. I wonder what it would have been like to go to a bigger school with more diversity.

- I quit competitive swimming in college and I often wish I hadn’t. I think it would have kept me a bit more sane in college to have had that outlet.

- A friend of mine moved to a big city right after college. She lived in a shoebox that cost a fortune to rent and worked at a funky ad agency. I was *thisclose* to moving there with her and didn’t. It might have been fiscally stupid, but sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to be young, single, and living somewhere cool and busy and crowded.

- I lived in South Korea for a while but didn’t travel from there to other closer countries while I was there. I passed up a trip to Thailand and one to Vietnam and now I wish I had gone.

I like to believe I’ll get the chance to make up for some of the trips I didn’t take. Maybe once the kids are grown and we are more financially solid (let’s hope I don’t have student loans forever, right?).

Forgive the whole ending a post with a question move, but what adventures do you sometimes wish you had taken?

House Tour: Living/Dining Room

While I think we’ll be doing most of our hanging out in the basement, we also have a living area on the first level. There are a few places in the house that feel a little small to me and the dining room is one of them.

dining room

One the right side you can see the entrance into the kitchen and on the left is the door that leads up to the master bedroom. We currently only have two chairs for the table but we’ll need relatively narrow ones to fit the space. On the wall is a painting a friend made for me. I asked for something that would convey the feeling of being underwater, which I think it does. It makes me feel peaceful. We’ve never had it on the wall before so it feels nice to finally be able to put it up.

The dining room leads into the living room below.

living room

I love the floors in here and the beams on the ceiling. We’re also able to fit six of our nine bookshelves (we…might have a book problem) in here, which is excellent. The door leads out to our three season porch, which I adore. At some point I think I might like us to paint this room a bit more of a vibrant color (my heart longs for orange, but that might be overwhelming for the space) but the very pale yellow/off white works fine for right now.

All of the furniture in this room is from the old house, so this was a cheap and easy room to put together. The only big change was that we took the padded child proofing safety covers off the corners of the coffee table. So, watch yourself, kids. It is open season on head injuries if you keep failing to use walking feet, damn it.

I think I’d like to hang one or two more pictures, but this space is basically done.