Saturday, February 4, 2017

Busy Quarter

Things are moving along in our lives. This quarter is definitely more intense than last quarter, which means posts will be even fewer and further between than they were in the fall. Ryan goes to work and then comes home and does most of the work around the house. Gareth has assigned chores for each day, so that helps a bit. I have fewer classes this quarter, but more credit hours. And a lot more papers/projects with much longer page requirements. I definitely made a good choice in not applying for a TA position. I don't know how I would have handled that on top of classes and everything else. They just posted the TA opportunities for next quarter and, quite frankly, I don't even have time to think about if I could manage it next quarter, which means I probably won't apply because applications are due next week, just as we're hitting midterms.

I'm also attempting to decide between a thesis and a capstone. I went to the faculty research forum and came home all excited about the research that's being done and swayed to the thesis side. Then I went to the capstone meeting and came home excited about the project options and swayed to the capstone side. I've met with a couple of researchers who have been very nice and have actually seemed to push the capstone option a lot, which was surprising to me. Due to the time limits of the degree, a thesis would likely be a secondary data analysis, so everyone tells you to think about how much you're enjoying biostats (which we're taking right now) and how comfortable you are working with data sets. That I'm not hating it but just very, very "meh" about it has me leaning toward a capstone, which seems like it will be more directly applicable to where I want to go with my career. But I don't have to decide until the end of the quarter, so it's nice to have time to mull things over.

I'm also taking metabolism (covering lipids this quarter), food safety, and public health nutrition. The professor for public health nutrition is great, but the subject matter is confirming to me that doing the MS instead of the MPH was the right choice. Policy creation is good to understand, but definitely not where I want to be working (especially right now, ugh)!

Mal is officially registered for kindergarten - we got the confirmation email a few days ago. It's a relief to have that item off the to-do list. Hopefully his transition to K will go more smoothly than his transition to the new preschool did. Gareth will likely be done with his first round of braces this summer. I'm just assuming he'll need a round two in a few years. He enjoys telling me that he's not a little kid anymore, but is "almost a teenager" or "almost in middle school", which is just terrifying to think about. He just started kindergarten, how can we possibly be so close to entering middle school?!

I managed to squeeze in a bike ride this past week. Didn't really have time, but decided making time for mental health breaks is good once in a while. School work would take up every second if I let it. We rode much farther than we planned to, which was a bit much for me since I haven't been riding often lately. Went to bed early that night! But it was a beautiful day.

Looking across I-90 to Bellevue

View of Rainier from I-90

Looking across the 520 bridge
You can ride out on the 520 bridge, but they haven't completed the bike/pedestrian lane all the way across yet, so you can't get all the way to Seattle and end up having to turn around and come back. I'm hoping that that actually does get completed at some point. We were planning to ride down and come back, but it was chilly and windy (and would be even windier on the bridge) so decided to save that for another day. Which was good because as it was we rode 45 miles and I was dead by the time we got done. And so, so sore. A year ago this ride wouldn't have been a big deal, but it turns out you actually have to keep practicing skills in order to maintain them. We stopped to warm up at a tea shop, which was an unexpectedly excellent choice. I'm rather sad the shop is in Kirkland instead of near me. They had so many tea options and made me a delicious tea latte with one of them.

And that's where we're at right now. Next post will probably be over spring break, at the end of March.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

End of Break

We spent the last week of break doing more hanging out and relaxing. Got Gareth together with some friends. Went out for our annual winter break breakfast. That kind of thing. I went to see Fences, which was excellent. I'd love to see a stage production of it some day.


Mal enjoyed playing with Gareth's new Dr. Who set. He makes all the appropriate sound effects for the Tardis, which is awesome. Now we've got a couple Tardis sets, which I'm hopeful will help the kids stop fighting over the one we already had (technically both are Gareth's, but Mal adores them). 


We did the puzzle Gareth got for Christmas. It turned out more difficult than I initially expected because there are Marvel characters in the background as well. Gareth helped me sort the pieces and put the edge together and put together all of the Groots, but Ryan and I did most of the work on the puzzle.


Gareth built a "masterpiece" with the magnatiles.

And we made our New Year's gingerbread house. Didn't actually put it together until the last day of break, but the kids didn't seem to care that it was delayed. I learned that trying to make frosting designs on the roof is best done before any candy gets put on. 




Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas 2016

We've been thoroughly enjoying winter break thus far, just taking it easy. We've made a few treats, but not many, and have done some cleaning of the house, but not all that should be done. We got our tree on the 11th, when I was sick. Ryan and Gareth went to pick it out. Then we got it in the stand and went through our annual ritual of freeing the branches.


Once I was done with finals we put on the lights and then added ornaments a couple days after that. 


The boys were very eager to take part in that. Oh, and apparently we managed to get Mal dressed that day. Good job, us!

We've done minimal baking thus far. Gareth and Mal put together the dough for gingerbread cookies and then I made them up a couple days later. Mal and I made cranberry-macadamia bars while Ryan and Gareth were out seeing Rogue One. Oh, and the boys got haircuts. Gareth's wasn't very drastic, just trimming around the ears. But Mal had several inches cut off since he hasn't had a cut in a couple years.


We had our usual big Christmas Eve dinner and then watched A Christmas Carol while drinking hot chocolate. After the kids were in bed we put together stockings up in our room and then once we figured Gareth was asleep we put out all the presents. The past couple years we've been good about wrapping presents as they come, which I've been very grateful for come Christmas Eve.

The boys got up around 8 Christmas morning. Gareth helped Mal get dressed and then they hung out in our room while Ryan and I got ready. By that time they were very eager to head downstairs. We opened stockings and a couple presents then had our traditional breakfast.



Then we returned to present opening. Mal was very excited by the dinosaur he received from his Grandma and Grandpa. "They got it at a store!!!" were the first words out of his mouth.



Ryan acted as the present-giver, carefully balancing how many each child had opened so that things were kept equitable.


He opened some of the family gifts, including this one for which I'm excited. We got a companion game from my sister.





Ryan got some house slippers. Almost every review said they run small, but he decided this morning that the size 14 was too large, so we'll take those back and try out the 13.


Gareth was very excited to get a couple more Perplexus puzzles.


Ryan stole it and managed to get to 4 or 5 (out of 125) before falling off the track. I made it to 2.



So that was the holiday. Nice and relaxing and enjoyed greatly by the kids.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Snow

On the day of my program holiday party we also got an actual, legit snowfall. Pretty sure this was Mal's first snow that stuck to the ground and accumulated decently. We've definitely had dustings before, but nothing you could make a snowman, or even a snowball, with. It didn't start snowing until late Thursday night and was supposed to turn to rain overnight, so I was worried the kids wouldn't get any fun out of it at all. Some friends even woke their kids up to go play in the snow that night. I'm no fun, so we didn't do that. But that worked out because the snow was still around in the morning and Gareth even had a delayed start, so they got to play in it a bit.



Mal eventually discovered that cotton gloves aren't great for playing in the snow. He started crying when his hands got cold, so they came in and I gave them hot chocolate (which made it "the best day ever!" according to Gareth (but he also said that about the last day of school before winter break and several other days recently, so it's become rather meaningless)). And I dug out Mal's mittens that I purchased last year that actually keep the wet out somewhat. He got to head out again as Gareth was heading off to school. By which point it was starting to rain a bit.

Before the cold hands and hot chocolate, Gareth worked to make this sad little snowman:


With a big redwood in our back yard, lots of the yard didn't have much snow at all. And due to his lack of snow experience, Gareth has no idea how to actually make a snowman. But the boys were both very excited about this attempt, so I wasn't going to knock it because, hey, I didn't have to be out in the cold making it.

By the end of the day most of the snow was gone, which was good since we had the party that night to go to and icy roads are not something I'm fond of. The boys would love to get more snow this year, I'm sure, but I'm good with what we've got.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

End of Quarter One

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks. Post-Thanksgiving brought all the assignments mentioned in my previous post. I managed to eek an op-ed out of myself and, with much reluctance, submitted it for publication. I knew they wouldn't publish it, but the thought of anyone reading it was simply horrifying to me. Op-eds are very much not my medium of choice for getting my thoughts out there.

On the last day of classes we had a meeting with our program director. This program is pretty cool because they really take our feedback into account. It was fun to get to see the 2nd year students at that. They're all about to head out for their practice experience so we likely won't see them as often. They were very excited to be done with all their coursework; it was weird to realize that in one year we'll be where they are, finishing up classes and theses/capstones before heading off for several months of internship.

In the evening we had our department holiday party at a professor's house. They have a couple of big dogs, which Mal was a little nervous around initially but soon became very excited about and followed them around all night. He even told me at one point, "Mommy, I want a dog. I want that one." Both boys love the food - latkes (Ryan had never heard of latkes before! Can you imagine?!) and chicken wings. The program director kept giving Mal chocolates that I assume he brought back from one of his many travels. Gareth hung out with the GCPD director's kid all night as they're just a few years apart in age. We all had a pretty good time then headed home to get the kids to bed. I went to bed as well so I could get up early and get lots of work done on my metabolism final.

A few hours later Ryan woke me up to tell me Mal was vomiting. So I jumped out of bed and poor Mal was sitting up in bed, shocked and upset. I got him to the bathroom and bathed him (vomit was everywhere - in his hair, on his hands, on the floor, blankets, etc) while Ryan started stripping the bed. As I was getting him in the tub he said in such a forlorn voice, "I'll never eat again!". It was so adorably pitiable. We realized the floor behind the bed needed mopping, so we moved Gareth to the basement to sleep, moved the bunk bed, and had Mal sit in the living room while we finished cleaning the room and Ryan made the bed.

The whole middle-of-the-night vomit thing is new to us. Gareth has thrown up once in his life (outside of baby spit up, which he was quite prodigious with). And the last time Mal threw up was when he was in his crib still. In the end, we all got back to bed around 2 and eventually I crashed on the couch because Mal kept waking up because his stomach hurt. Thankfully by Saturday evening he seemed to be doing better.

Unfortunately, by Sunday morning I realized I'd probably caught the bug. It's not a fun one, at all. And being sick all Sunday night and into Monday morning meant I missed my Epidemiology final Monday morning. I emailed the professor Sunday and thankfully he said they'd figure something out. The whole thing threw my planned finals week awry, but I managed to get my Metabolism final turned in on time still and got everything else done by Thursday evening. I'm so glad the Epi final was the only in-person test, otherwise the week would have been much more difficult to sort out.

Now it's all over and I'm a little shocked that I actually managed to get everything done in those last couple weeks. I have a feeling that will be a recurring feeling throughout the program. It was exhausting and difficult, but I've learned so much this quarter. Next quarter will likely be even more intense since we no longer have any 1-credit classes, which really helped balance the load this past quarter. But that's something to deal with when I get there. Until then, I'm going to enjoy the break!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Halloween coincided with midterms and Thanksgiving coincides with the end-of-quarter rush. This coming week I have a protein supplements debate presentation, a short research paper (for the same class as the protein debate), and an op-ed draft due, plus I have to moderate a class discussion in the same class as the op-ed. The short research paper also has a presentation component, but that's not until next week, along with a 20 page paper critique/study design paper for another class. As soon as those are done we get to study for our Epi final and start writing our metabolism final.

All that to say that Thanksgiving wasn't exactly carefree this year. We kept things very basic. Turkey breast, stuffing, mashed potatoes, broccoli, rolls, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. I haven't made my own rolls in years since we have bakeries here that do a much better job than I do, so everything was pretty quick and easy. I didn't make huge amounts of anything, so we had enough leftovers to last a couple days and that's it.



Mal surprised us and actually ate turkey this year as well as rolls. Usually he hates all Thanksgiving food, so eating turkey was a big deal.The boys watched TV pretty much all day, with the occasional helping out with cleaning this or that or playing of foosball. It's really not a fair match-up, but maybe one day it will be.


Ryan and I cleaned the house and cooked. Mal stayed in his pjs all day (and the whole of the next day too). I'd thought about offering to have cohort friends over or trying to get together with some of our friends for the day but ended up glad that we just kept to ourselves. I'm sure we'll have plenty of opportunities to catch up with friends over winter break. When our meal was over we all helped wash dishes before enjoying pie and Dr. Who. The rest of the break was much of the same, except with homework thrown in for me.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Halloween 2016

I had a midterm the day after Halloween this year, so didn't have high expectations of being able to do much in the way of celebrating. Gareth decided to be Harry Potter over the summer, so that was easy. And Mal discovered an astronaut costume at preschool and from then on was excited to get his own astronaut costume, so that was easy as well because Melissa and Doug happen to sell a rather cute astronaut costume. I found an etsy seller for wands, and Gareth was set.


Ryan took the boys out while I studied and handed out candy. We got a decent number of trick-or-treaters, despite the weather. Fewer of the youngest crowds, more of the older crowd. All the kids were very polite - wishing me a Happy Halloween, complimenting our pumpkin, saying thank you, etc. The boys didn't stay out super long because it was a rainy day, but they got plenty of candy and were content with the couple blocks they did. Mal was very excited that he got a toy spider at one house.


The boys worked together to design our pumpkin this year. Mal had seen pictures of our pumpkins from 5 years before and wanted the teeth to look like Gareth's pumpkin from that year. Gareth got to design the eyes and the nose. I made the boys do most of the cleaning out of the pumpkin and Gareth carved the eyes and nose himself. Next year we'll have him do his own pumpkin. I came home a couple days after Halloween and saw an enormous slug on the pumpkin - so large that it startled me. 


I've never seen such a long slug before, and hope to never again. It was a good Halloween. Mal got to enjoy the neighbor's skeleton decorations again, and was sad when they got put away. But now he's excited for Christmas, so he's got something else to look forward to.