Reflections on Work/Life/School Balance

Note: I originally wrote this piece for a guest column on gradhacker during their parenting week, but they were full up on submissions, so it’s going on ze dadblog instead.

Think work life balance is tough?  Try adding a full-time doctoral program to the mix.

PRE-EDIT: Having read through this piece now in draft form, it occurs to me how much my privilege comes in to play here.  I am fortunate in that I grew up with many opportunities and access to education, a roof over my head, and today, as a man, I can make family choices without jeopardizing my career or being questioned.  I also work in a white-collar job that encourages me to pursue a terminal degree, and offers benefits and flexibility to take care of other things that matter to me.  I realize that many may not be in such positions, but the spirit is nonetheless important.

Goofy faces with Thing 1.

I have a confession to make: I’m spread too thin.  I have a wife who is currently putting her career on hold to raise our two daughters through elementary school age.  I work as staff 40+ hours a week for one of the largest university systems in the US.  Oh, and I’m enrolled full time in an Ed.D. program.  Not to mention the fact that I have other miscellaneous commitments.  This is no accident.  I have a bad habit of saying “yes.”  I guess you could say I’m a sucker for just about any opportunity to help others.  I’ve actually reached the point where my wife literally sat me down and told me that I had to begin refusing new commitments. Call it an intervention.  Helping others should not come at the expense of being unable to help my wife.

I recently read a post via LinkedIn calling into question the whole concept of work life balance.  The author suggested that when you prioritize work and “life”, the two bleed into one another coloring and potentially enhancing both experiences.  While I think the general concept of work/life balance is still something to which most of us aspire, it was comforting to reflect on the fact that I don’t have to fully shift gears to be effective as I jump from one responsibility to the next.  Of course, not everyone is as accommodating or as understanding as the people in my life.  I am indeed fortunate.  Drawing a line in the sand can and does help, however, and here’s the crux of it:

Deep into my second year of my Ed.D. program I can safely announce that while I haven’t figured it all out, I’ve developed a solid foundation with which to prioritize my commitments.

1. Family
2. Work
3. School
4. Friends
5. Everything else

Family comes first.  Everyone in my life knows this.  From day one at work and to orientation in my ed. doc program I have talked up my wife and kids like they’re my universe because they are.  If my family life is in disarray, you can believe the rest of the list quickly becomes impossible to manage.  When others understand this priority, it enables me to be present at the times when it matters most without being questioned or criticized (directly, at least).

QP Beard

Growing a beard means 10 minutes extra (of helping the kids get ready) per day!

I often joke among my cohort mates that while I can afford a “B” grade or to delay an assignment or miss a class, I can’t afford to do “B” quality work on the job.  As a result work naturally rises to the near top.  I am fortunate in that early on in my career I made a decision to more or less leave work at work.  Perhaps as I rise through the ranks this may change out of necessity, but for now, when I get to school or home, I’m able to focus and be present in the moment.  In fact, I’ve even made sure to turn work email access off on my smartphone.  Few of my responsibilities are so urgent that they can’t wait until I return to the office.

School is third on my priority list.  That’s not to say school is unimportant, but without my job, or my family, school is virtually impossible, so I take care of the other two before I focus on my studies.  I feel like this is oversimplifying it, but I can admit openly and fully that at this level in my studies, I’m okay with not always turning in my best work.  This is a journey and a process, and I can differentiate the means from the ends.  I suppose it’s a good thing I was never a straight A student to begin with, so I entered my terminal studies with reasonable expectations of my own performance.

Class projects oh my.

Everything else including friends, hobbies, and volunteering just sort of pile up on the wayside.  I get to them as time permits, but there simply isn’t room in the day for everything.  I’ve accepted that other commitments such as membership on committees, adult league softball, guys nights out, while important for nurturing the corer of who I am.

The majority of what makes it possible for me to do so much is having an amazing partner.

A supportive partner is a must.

A supportive partner is a must.

There was a great article that made the rounds a couple of weeks ago that talked about why stay at home parents were a luxury for traditional working ones, and it ever rings true.  Without my wife staying at home, a whole host of regular activities would be near impossible: business travel, marathon reading/writing sessions, office hours appointments, professional development opportunities, and other miscellaneous activities that draw me away from the house.

What’s your line in the sand and how will you draw it?

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Apples and Oranges

The funny thing about business travel is …wait. Strike that. Let me begin again. (can you tell it’s been a while?)

The business traveler

As a parent of young children, I find myself wondering what to do with myself once my day wraps up while traveling on business. Perhaps if I dig deep enough, I can extract and exhibit slivers of my former child-less self. Maybe I can unearth my extroverted former self and make my way to the hotel bar and strike up a conversation with other travel-worn individuals until I grow weary enough to collapse on my monolith-slab hotel bed. Instead, I take myself out to dinner (see below photo of travel indulgence), check email, get some school work done until my brain shuts down, and now I’m here at 10:18, staring at the walls. Do I flip through the hotel channels hoping to find something riveting on HBO? Knowing that I’m perpetually behind on research do I force the issue and soldier on? Browse the interwebs in search of a minivan? Go to bed in the hopes of inching my way toward catching up on the thousands of lost hours over the past couple of years? Endless possibilities that somehow inevitably lead to…blogging.

http://distilleryimage4.ak.instagram.com/bb18f17ccb6211e3afd724be05959cf0_8.jpg

The comparison game and/or trap

Lately I’ve been witnessing nascent personality differences and character makeup emerge in each of my girls. Because they are both little females, I don’t have the tricky business of relying on gender constructs and assumptions in evaluating their character makeup. Let me break it down:

Thing 1

Thing 1 is ultra ‘girly’, which I’ll leave open to interpretation. She loves the Disney Princess marketing machine, and the first words out of her mouth each and every morning are: “Mom/Dad, can I dress up?” To which we usually acquiesce. She plays well with others and is eager to please both adults and friends. She is also very sensitive, prone to cry at the slightest injury or offense. She is incredibly focused and patient, but typically on things that interest her like art projects, puzzles, etc. Over the years, we have acquired toys that “go” as wifey likes to call them: scooters, cozy coupes, and other such things. All wasted on her.

http://photos-g.ak.instagram.com/hphotos-ak-prn/10246007_238555979669366_1413334438_n.jpg

does this count as a thing that goes?

When she plays outside, there’s plenty of running around, but nothing sporting. Catch, stick ball, kickball…all lost upon her. She’d much rather chase bubbles around or do flips on the rings on her play fort.

She’s petite and eats just enough to sustain her small frame.

http://distilleryimage1.ak.instagram.com/97ad599cb77d11e392bd122c4d1aa275_8.jpg

Eating exceptions include junk food and “Starbucks”

For as long as I can remember she’s barely clung to the bottom of the growth charts. Then there’s the clothing. Thing 1 insists on wearing only dresses and resists all form of leg coverings, with the exception of tights. Even leggings are a tough sell. I can only imagine she’s going to be into makeup before long. God help us all.

http://photos-c.ak.instagram.com/hphotos-ak-prn/10009195_704802632883842_1844429110_n.jpg

Too princessy for this dress.

Thing 2

On the other hand, Thing 2 is an assertive little brute. We constantly call her our ER kid on account of her complete lack of regard for boundaries or danger. Of course part of this may be that we’ve relaxed somewhat as parents too, but there are clear differences. She is bold and fearless, and much less attached to her parents. I often joke that if I turn my head for half a second she’s not only already out of eyeshot, but probably wrapped up in some kind of mischief (or electrical cord). She’s already demonstrating some athleticism. When our friend comes over with their 11 month old, Thing 2 regularly wrestles and pins her to the ground. I even caught her sitting on her once! And then of course there’s the mad foot eye coordination skills.

http://instagram.com/p/nBdxsGD9sb/

She’s tough as nails though, and probably reinforces our lax supervision. The other day I watched her run full speed into the edge of our dining room table, bounce off of it, and pick herself up to continue her pursuit of the dog. Had that been Thing 1, it would have been a three alarm crisis, rife with tears, screams, and of course bribes to put and end to the misery. I put her  in a dress the other day and all she kept pulling it up, trying to take it off and/or alternately chewing on the hem. She’s much more at home in a pair of pants and a loose fitting shirt.

http://distilleryimage2.ak.instagram.com/7d0c28eeba3311e3963412236e9ee816_8.jpg

kicking back on the couch

Thing 2 also loves food and is not picky. Some meals she eats more than Thing 1.

http://photos-a.ak.instagram.com/hphotos-ak-prn/1516421_566626683429688_429059715_n.jpg

Got ribz?

I strive to be mindful that this is dictated by DNA, not that somehow one of my kids is determined to look like one of the blob-like figures in the Oatmeal. Some of my readers will recall all too well our little explorer tackling her own adventures like the dog door below.

http://distilleryimage3.ak.instagram.com/eb68a14cabe111e393920ec859a53f7b_8.jpg

Nurturing nature

Where am I going with all of this conjecture and comparison? Aside from the fact that personality and character is evident as young as age one, I think part of what makes this all possible and perhaps intriguing is the fact that my kids are the same gender. If Thing 2 were a boy, it would just be assumed that gender is related to the difference among our children. “Of course your boy likes soccer and your girl likes dress up, it’s instinctive.” I can now officially call that out as BS. Just like if I had a sensitive and focused little boy who loved clothes and dress-up and an athlete boy I wouldn’t make the same mistake. We all know better, of course, but it’s an easy trap. I love that my kids are distinctly different people and it totally puts to rest in my mind the whole nature/nurture debate. Kids are who they are, and as a dad, my job is to set reasonable boundaries and help bring out and reinforce the best elements of their character while also empowering them to turn their weaknesses into strengths.

To conclude, I leave you with the final comparison: 1st Birthday Cupcake Experiences!

Cupcakery

 

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Back in the Saddle

Dogpile!

Writing is hard work.  It’s even harder when you’ve spent most of your mental, emotional, and physical stamina grinding it out as a worker bee, father, husband, and doctoral student.  I won’t bore you with the details, but I’ve already written plenty recently.  All of this isn’t to say, “Come join me at my private personal pity party,” but instead to simply provide myself an out for slacking on dadblogging for the last…well, let’s be honest here…year.  Since it would be a monumental task to recap I will collect some fragmented thoughts, and then perhaps a few bullet points upon which to elaborate in future posts.

Deja Vu?

If I seem like I’m complaining about how much I have on my plate, I need only reflect on my duties as compared to the wifey and I am humbled.  The kids require a focus and dedication that is all-consuming.  I am even more humbled by people who have more than two kids.  I’m also mystified by the process of managing to procreate after spending your days .  Only a few generations ago family size was much higher.  Yay birth control!

Fragments

So here I am, it’s December already.  My “newborn” is nearly ten months old, eating solid foods by the fistful while refusing to be spoon-fed, and climbing up on everything.  My “toddler” is a full blown kid, making silly faces, telling jokes, living out mermaid princess librarian fantasies, and contesting bedtime on a near nightly basis with alacrity.  Woah.

Best, Chanukkah Present...EVER!

Charmer

I used to be one of those guys who would scoff at parents who would knowingly smile and proclaim: “Enjoy every moment; blink and they’ll be off to college, getting married, etc. etc. etc.”  barf.  Only now I find myself wondering where the time went.  Four years?  Two of which have been spent now in Long Beach.  I almost caught myself uttering the same cliche to some poor sleep deprived sap of a new dad the other day and did a double take.

Rainbow Brite?

Flamingo Fabulousness

We took a family vacation in late August, burning the last of our delta miles.  How a trip to Costa Rica cost fewer miles than to HI is beyond me, but it was a glorious time nonetheless.  Now that we have to pay full freight for Thing 1, however, vacation plans will be limited to day trip range.  I guess I’d better get a subscription to Sunset or AAA magazine or something for inspiration.

In for a fun red eye

Playa Flamingo Sunset

My Blog Banner is woefully outdated.  I am aware of this.  I will get to it eventually.  In the meantime, we’ll just ignore it.

Future Posts

Fat 2013

I’ve pretty much let myself go this year.  This is a repeat of 2010, when Thing 1 was born.  It was followed by Fit 2011.  Things will normalize in Fit 2014.

Physical Play

I’ve noticed a trend about the way I play with the kiddo as compared to wifey.  This is a good thing.

Second Child Syndrome

So have I evolved as a parent, or are second kids really easier?  Or both?

Sleep Debates

Do I go to bed early and get that much needed rest?  Or do I stay up “late” and partake in much needed “grown up time?”  Is there a middle ground?

Man Time

Dude time is sorely lacking.

Proactive Parenting

Are some projects worth the effort?

Influence

How much of a say do we have as parents in shaping who our children become?

Expectations Misplaced

What is ‘reasonable’ to expect of a child?  Or an adult, for that matter?

The Universe: As Interpreted by a Three Year Old

You should hear what my little big kid has to say about…well..everything!

Pictures

Because 6 months is a lot of cute to catch up on…

There's a resemblance I suppose...

Can't handle the cuteness

aaaand now I’m tired.  Night!

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Mach III Composites Carbon Fiber Laptop Case – A Review

Mach III Composites – Carbon Fiber Laptop Case

IMG_0677

Disclaimer: While I initially intended to purchase this case at a student rate, I was offered the opportunity to demo the product for free.

A few months back I was accepted as a doctoral student in a highly respected Ed.D. program nearby.  Of course this meant preparation.  What kind of student would I be now that I’m a working family man?  What kind of family man would I be now that I’m a student in addition to a worker bee?  Would I need to abandon my cyclist ideals to get a car?  How in tarnation was I going to find a way to fit it all in?

All of those questions answered (biking to work/class, 3rd party macbook air, still figuring out work/school/life balance)  I turned yet another challenge: what to transport my laptop in.  (I roll around town using a combination of ortlieb panniers which are great for outdoor adventure)  Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a research junkie.  I love reading reviews, analyzing product features and generally finding not only “the best” whatever, but also “the right” fill in the blank.  In this case it was time to research laptop cases.

My Selection Criteria (In Order of Importance)
1. Protection
2. Weight (lighter = better)
3. Professional
4. Durability/Design Quality

So you might be asking why protection was my highest priority.  I want my laptop to have a marginal chance of surviving encounters like this:

Danger, danger!

or this:

Ouch.

The truth is, you could just say oh who needs such extreme durability, lightweight protection?  Most people don’t.  If you have renter’s or homeowner’s insurance, back up to time machine or cloud regularly, and have an overabundance of time to go through the hassle of loading all your customizations, software, etc..not to mention deductibles, etc.  By all means, carry your laptop around in a cheap neoprene case logic or whatever.  I know the daily hazards my laptop is exposed to and I wanted the best (naturally).  Something that would be light, snug and safe to keep impact and road vibration damage to a minimum.  In that, I have succeeded.

Mach III Composites Case – First Impressions

Right out of the package it just looks awesome.  The first word that came to mind was, “hi-tech.”  The carbon fiber has been polished to a high gloss.  It feels light, almost comparable to the weight of cardboard.  I plopped it down on my kitchen scale.  For your weight weenie gram counters out there:  508 grams.  Only slightly heavier than my 448 gram case logic neoprene sleeve.  But the protection is oh so much better.  Put it like this.  Why go to the trouble and expense of buying an ultra-light laptop if you’re going to put it in a 3 lb. case?  Some of the cases I was considering weighed almost as much as the laptop itself!  Kind of defeats the purpose.

Having brought this case to meetings and class, while nobody has complimented me by saying things like, “Hey, where’d you get that sweet case!?”, nobody has ridiculed me for having something garish or juvenile either.  I like to think of it as unobtrusive.  I’m not trying to call attention to my laptop anyway.

Clean Lines, High Sheen

The inner lining is made of a velvet like checkered pattern stitched into the case and glued down.  It has held up well from daily use and abuse, and continues to look good.  I thought the substance might attract dirt and lint but thus far I haven’t had any issues with it.

Padded Lining

Zippers snap flush with the zippered lining.  They actually snap, as if they were on some kind of spring.  This is so nice.  So many other zippers flop around and don’t form a really tight seal.  The zipper runs smoothly along all edges without any snags or hiccups.  I do wish the zipper pulls were slightly larger for big clumsy thumbs and fingers.

Snap-flush zippers

Yep, that’s real carbon fiber.  Not the cheap gimmicky carbon-fiber overlays that most crap comes with these days.  Seriously, do a google search or check ebay for carbon fiber functional products and usually the word “look” or some variant thereof is sneakily placed next to CF.  Sometimes they even attempt to pass them off as true CF.  That’s just bad business.  I like the high gloss mirror finish.  It’s been banging around the house, class, work, and in my saddle bag for about a month now and the finish looks no worse for the wear.  A few minor swirls in a few places, but hey, I didn’t get this thing to keep it looking pretty anyway.

Yep, REAL carbon fiber.  Not an impostor.

Mach III Composites CF Case – In the Wild

I’ve made a point of keeping my MBA sealed up inside the case at all times when I’m not using it as a precaution against mishaps.  As a result, I’m in and out of the case upwards of 3 times a day.  The zippers and material have held up to regular use and abuse.  The case size is small enough to still fit in laptop pockets of bags such as my THULE backpack and OGIO laptop satchel.  It also fits perfectly in my pannier, and once packed with clothes, lunch and other stuff, tends not to shift around too much within the bag.  I definitely bump into things with the saddlebag and have plopped it on the ground or other surfaces a little too firmly at times.

Mach III Carbon Fiber Laptop Case – On my Trek District

In Transit

As you can see, it sits exposed as it protrudes slightly.  Perfect for bumping into doors or walls as I round corners.  Both of which I have done more frequently than I like to admit.

Laptop Conveyance

Mach III Carbon Fiber Laptop Case – Around the house

Fit and Finish

Note that it rests in the footprint of the case nearly perfectly.  Most other cases I tried, even those “specifically designed for MBA” had the macbook air shifting around within, mashing into the corners or susceptible to additional vibrations.  Not so here.

Cradled

Nitpicking:  Here are some future product modifications that I would love to see:

1. Grippy surface or nubs on one side, also as a way to distinguish top from bottom. On any kind of smooth or sloped surface, the case just slides around.  You could almost play air hockey with it on a table.  I’ve had to keep a close eye on it when I set it down on my classroom desk which has an 8 degree incline.

2. Zipper flexibility/elasticity.  It does get a little tight in the corners. If the material could just stretch a bit more, it might not be a wiggle game to squeeze it in.

Cornering

Tight Fit

Bonuses:

Customer Service, customer service, customer service.

Kevin and I went back and forth discussing my individual product needs and how his case might fit the bill.  As I discussed earlier in this post I had originally planned to pay the student rate (still pricey) for this fine protective shell, realizing it was an investment.  The original case was lined with a prototype material that I had requested.  Hand built to my specifications.  Dissatisfied with the material I sent it back for the traditional finish.  Kevin was responsive and helpful via email and open to my ideas.  He also was gracious enough to offer me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you all because he sees the value of this product in the urban cyclo-commuter market.

TSA Approved

I may not be a jetsetter but I do know how much of a PITA it can be to get through airport security.  As if partially disrobing isn’t degrading enough, add to it the need to undo all of your luggage snaps, clips and zips to send your laptop separately through the x-ray machine is just insult to injury.  Thankfully this case is allowed through the scanner, so it’s one less zipper you need worry about as you’re rushing to your destination.

USA Made to Order

This is not some mass produced china made asbestos-lined piece of forgery plastic designed to look like carbon fiber.  Kevin makes each of these to order and these can be even further customized with fancier lining like Alcantara (which is the suede they use for luxury automobiles like Bentley).  The point here is that the case is almost entirely sourced from USA parts and is certainly assembled in North Carolina.  That’s a rare thing these days and I for one still consider it a source of pride to support American-made consumer products.

Final Thoughts on the Mach III Case

Should you buy this laptop case?  That depends.  Only you can decide what your priorities and needs are.  In my experience over the past month, this laptop has exceeded my expectations in every environment from home, on the road, at work, or at school. At the end of the day, I was have only minor quibbles and I bet if I cared deeply enough I could take them up with Kevin and he would happily resolve them at little to no charge.  So in short, yes, I would buy this case if I had to do it all over again.  You can also give it a risk-free shot, because Kevin cares about customer satisfaction.  My guess is you won’t be going back to an ordinary mass produced case any time soon.  I sure won’t.

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Downtime Abbey

Just getting around to posting a May flashback.

This past weekend flew by.  I spent Saturday with the girls while wifey did some much needed post-pregnancy wardrobe purging and replenishing.  While I originally signed up for this thinking that she’d be gone for a half day at most, somehow it turned into a 9-6 outing.  Not assigning blame here, and I know that in its own way, the wife had a long day as well, since spending money she hasn’t explicitly earned is guilt-inducing, and because trying to find flattering clothes amid a sea of form-fitting skinny-this and slim-cut that in a post pregnancy body are not what I would call the pillars of self-esteem.

I expected the day to be exhausting.  I loosely understand what a full day of primary parenting is like, even when the girls are on their best behavior.  Not that I didn’t have sympathy or empathy for the wife before, but it definitely adds some perspective.  Our day didn’t include much in the way of activity.  Thing two napped intermittently, while thing one and I shared some floor time.  Of course, that’s a very loose summary.  We also took a walk down to the park, ate some lunch at the local corner grocery burger stand, and I even got thing one down for a nap of her own.  Yes, I am patting myself on the back.  You wouldn’t think that getting the kids to nap is such an accomplishment, but it’s no easy feat let me tell you.  I couldn’t tell you with absolute certainty,  but I was exhausted by the time J got home.  Somehow the day flew by.  My guess is because I was absorbed completely with meeting the needs of two dependent children all day.

On Sunday I spent from 9:30 AM to 7:30 PM dismantling, transporting, and reassembling a giant wooden play structure for the kids.  For those of you who know me well, you’ll know that I am marginally handy.  Or, as they say, the tools do not make the man.  While I generally relish dismantling things to try and get to the source of a problem, I seldom take the same pleasure from reassembling them.  This is usually because somewhere along the line I fail or reach a point where I lose all hope and want to crawl into a dark hole and hide from the world. Growing up I participated in Boy Scouts, played with LEGOS, and occasionally used a tool to help with some kind of project around the house.  But I am hardly a carpenter or handyman.  It’s enough to fix an occasional loose doorknob, fix a leaky faucet, or unclog a garbage disposal every now and then.  But assembling a giant (read: heavy) play structure was going to require some support.

Fortunately, I had some assistance with tear down and setup.  In spite of the extra helping hands the whole thing took most of the day.  In an effort to be conscientious about time with the kids, I know that the wife spent most of her day keeping the kiddoes entertained while I toiled outside, also hard work at times.  I made sure to thank her.  Needless to say, we didn’t get around to eating dinner until close to 9 once the kids were down, and at that point we were so burnt we just made eggs and toast.

climbing wall  Roof

tear down

There’s something deeply satisfying about seeing the fruits of your labor come to bear in such a tangible way.  Maybe I didn’t  build a house, but I built something.  I’ll admit that I felt pretty badass, all things considered.  After all was said and done, there were only two extra parts left, too!  Tonight my plan is to mount and secure the ladder, climbing wall (carriage bolt was stripped), and install the slide.  I wish it weren’t crooked, but that’s the fault of our sloped backyard and not my poor craftsmanship.

Mission Accomplished

Mission Accomplished

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Snapshot of Early Childhood Development

Thing 2 is going to be four months old in just about a week.  Four months.  Holy cow.

Ahoy, Matey!

While I haven’t been as good as photodocumenting every little nuance of her life as I did with Thing 1, I’ve certainly caught a few glorious moments.  She is inching closer to rolling over, sitting up by herself, and has been smiling almost constantly for about the last three weeks.  I can’t help but wonder some days if this isn’t some kind of ruse to ensnare us in dropping our guard as parents, but it’s just so disarming to see your little one greet you with a smile at every turn.  Especially when Thing 1 invokes her alter-ego, Scowly McScowlerson, Miss Personality with unpredictable alacrity.

Speaking of which, this post is really dedicated to Thing 1.  Year-end parent teacher conferences were last Friday, and while I couldn’t make the meeting at 11:30am on a Friday after taking time off for vacation recently, I did review the comments.  This is not about bragging but more about how just a few sentences strung together (aka, a paragraph), can so beautifully capture how my daughter is adjusting to society.  It’s utterly heart-swelling to read this stuff, not only as a matter of pride, but also from an understanding that there is something truly magical about how we unfurl and blossom as human beings.  It’s so easy as parents to forget at times that this little creature is only three years old, and yet we ask/expect so much of her.

If you had asked me before I had children how a three year old might act, think, and feel, I would have been totally off the mark.  I continue to be amazed and humbled by these little creatures.  Here are the narrative sections of her eval:

Personal/Social Responsibility:  T1 continues to make tremendous strides socially, emotionally, and conceptually.  She is beginning to demonstrate an eagerness to participate in classroom procedures, choosing an activity, and working independently.

Physical Development:  T1 continues to refine her small motor skills, sense of order and taking care of the environment in the “Practical Life” area.  She enjoys the art area, pouring exercises, and food preparation.  These will continue to help her improve her fine motor development.

Sensory Education: T1 has mastered the memory of her primary and secondary colors.  She is working on replicating patterns and memorization of a rectangle.  She is working on counting consistently to 10 without skipping.

Language Arts:   T1 is beginning to contribute to classroom discussions and express herself effectively to get her needs met.  She is drawing picture and dictating the meaning behind her drawings.  She is showing interested in the auditory analysis of the first sound in 3 letter phonetic words.

Summary:  T1 has adapted well to school and enjoys the social interaction.  She enjoys puzzles, toast/jam, pattern matching, and drawing.

beating the heat

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Friday Fragments

I witnessed a couple of interesting things this morning on my ride in to work:

I saw a dad driving a car packed to the gills with children to what I have to imagine is school.  He seemed perfectly nonplussed by it all.  His secret?  Headphones.  Genius.

A dad walking his daughter to elementary school.  Holy crap, that will be me in just a couple of short years.  And you’d better believe I’m going to walk my kids to school, even if it means getting up a little earlier.  It’s rain-free 340 days of the year here and there’s no excuse for driving a quarter mile.

A car that passed me with inches to spare as I was claiming the lane on 3rd street.  This is the portion without a bike lane and no painted “sharrows” on the road.  99% of my vehicular interactions have been pleasant since living in this town, but every once in a while you get a jerk who has a bone to pick.  Even though there was no physical contact between me and the car, the experience was bone-chilling.  In a way when you’re on a bike you’re exposed to a lot of potential body trauma.  A helmet only covers a small fraction of that body, albeit a very important fraction.

To top it off, my mom ‘doored‘ some poor rider last night.  An accident of course, but then who ever really intentionally opens their car door to clothesline a cyclist.  They’re called accidents for a reason and the event is an indictment of our car-culture and failure as drivers to really give a proper nod to sharing the road.  All of this is also a reminder to be extra cautious while riding as my family depends on me and also to encourage friends and family to please shoulder check your driver’s side door whenever you are about to get out of your car.  Even if it’s a private suburban street.  You might save a life, or at minimum, plenty of head/heart ache.

Mother’s day is this weekend.  I’m terrible at planning special occasions, but I do have a few things up my sleeve this year.  Juggling a mom, stepmom, mother in law, wife, and two girls makes me really focus on priorities.  There’s a ford commercial that’s been airing a lot lately where they play on the options ‘and’ versus ‘or’ with regard to specialty features.  Aka you can have your cake ‘or’ you can eat it?  How does that make sense?  Mother’s day is turning into one of those instances where it winds up being ‘or’, due to personality conflicts.  It’s not about me, but who comes first?  I’d wager it’s my wife, but technically she’s not -my- mom, but the mother of my children.  So when the kids are older the onus is on them to do something special…right?  I don’t know what the Mother’s day pecking order is, but I’m going to operate under the assumption that wifey’s at the top of the list.  Happy wife, happy life.  Which reminds me, it’s my year to plan anniversary festivities.  I’d better get on top of that.

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