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Showing posts from April, 2007

The Paradox of Praise

I just read an interesting article that's been making the rounds of the internet. Basically it talks about how praising children because they are smart can actually cause them to not work as hard and to do worse in school. It caught my eye because for my entire life I've told that I was "smart". I've been in gifted programs since I started elementary school. And, I do have some natural talent for learning things: I'm a fast reader, I have a good eye for detail, and I am curious about a lot of things. It's not like I'm a total slacker either. But at the same time, I think this quote sums up one of the major points of the article:

Dweck had suspected that praise could backfire, but even she was surprised by the magnitude of the effect. “Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,” she explains. “They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it …

Etc.

My dad got me the yogurt maker I talked about in my birthday wish list post. I tried it out the other day and it works quite well. I like the fact that it has plastic cups, which reduces the fear of breakage from small children playing in the fridge. I thought it a little weird because it has 8 cups that hold 6 ounces each, but if you use a quart of milk that makes them 4 oz. each. But then there's extra room in the cup to stir in jam or whatever. The truth is, a nice little 4 ounce serving of yogurt is usually plenty for me, especially with extra stuff in it. Generally, though, I just like a bit of sugar to take the edge off. I like to use whole milk because it's extra creamy. Yum!

The news story I read today about a traffic accident demolishing part of a major freeway exchange in Oakland reminded me that I don't want to do much commuting when I find a job. I keep seeing interesting-sounding jobs in downtown Seattle, but I know I can't afford to live that close. But I …

It's Official

My thesis defense is now scheduled for the morning of Thursday, May 10th. I just bought a round-trip ticket to Utah for two days. I'm also already getting extremely nervous and I'm afraid that the next week and a half is going to be filled with visions of myself either wetting my pants or throwing up from terror. Now that would be a good way to make an impression on my committee.

My new love

This afternoon the kids both boycotted their naps, so by 4 o'clock we were all sitting there feeling tired and cranky while staring outside at the damp cold playground. So what else should I decide to do but bundle them in the car and trot off to the grocery store? Yes, sleep deprivation really does bring on insanity. I had never been to Trader Joe's before, but after hearing enough people rave about it I had been thinking about it for a few weeks now. We did need a few things from a store, and I felt embarrassed dropping S-Boogie off at the usual grocery's fun center with a giant swollen lip. Plus the car ride would buy us more time before bedtime and I had to walk up to the car anyway to get the stroller out of the trunk.

After I got there I decided that 5 o'clock is a bad time to take small children to a small, crazy-busy grocery store that I'd never been to before. Well, any time is a bad time to take kids to the store. But once I got in there and started lookin…

Frustration

I just got my first phone call in response to my resume (I've submitted it to about 20 different places now). Unfortunately the dates they wanted to interview are the two days I'm planning to be in Utah for my thesis defense. The lady sounded kind of disappointed--I hope they like me enough to find a better day for an interview and that they call me back. I hate job hunting. Especially since the thesis defense date is not set in stone just yet.

I Can (?) Do Hard Things

This last week was hard, but I made it. Master Fob moved out last Monday. Friday afternoon was the first time I took the kids over to his place. One of the hardest parts of the whole thing was actually getting in our car. We don't have much privacy here and the only way to get everyone and their stuff out to the car was to walk right by the playground where a bunch of women from my ward were sitting around with their kids. And of course they all wanted to know where we were going, since we had suitcases and stuff. I think we just mumbled something and kept going. And then I had to leave the kids at their dad's house and drive away all by myself. I'm really glad that I invited some friends over that night, because it gave me something to do. I love to cook for people, and they repaid my hospitality by listening to me talk for nearly four hours. Saturday I did a bunch of things that are hard to do with kids, like going to the library's annual book sale and deep cleaning …

Meatless Meals for Earth Day

I have a few post ideas rolling around in my head, but decided that I'd go ahead and write up a few of my favorite meatless meal ideas in honor of Earth Day today. I mainly have become mostly meatless due to the fact that meat is expensive, but eating less meat is also a good way to help out the environment.

Middle Eastern Rice and Lentils (Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook)

1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tbls. olive oil
1 cup brown rice (has to be brown)
1 tbls. tomato paste
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup lentils
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup slivered almonds or pine nuts, toasted

In a large saucepan, sautee the onion in the oil until it is soft (medium heat). Add the rice and cook and stir for a few minutes until it is toasted. Add the water, tomato paste, cinnamon, and lentils. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir the salt, raisins, and nuts into the rice. It should still be a little watery, ad…

Blast From the Past

Image
I just set up my new printer/scanner/copy machine. This is the first time I've ever had a scanner, so it's pretty exciting. One of these days I'm going to scan in all my mission photos just so I can write fun posts about them. I'm not sure this file is the highest quality I could get--I need to fiddle around with it some more. But it's still pretty cool. Oh, and that's me and my super cool Spanish companion with the Bolivian family that we taught. The entire family got baptized (I don't know why the dad isn't in the picture) and they are really neat people. I wonder what they're doing now, since I haven't heard from them since I left Madrid. PS--Don't you love my ugly jumper with the stains on it? It's amazing what you'll wear after having no new clothes for nearly a year. The jumper came from our stock of piso clothes--items left behind by departing missionaries that ended up being community property. At least it was comfortable.

Clueless or Callous?

Today a student walked by me wearing a shirt that said "Don't mess with the crazy person." Either he hasn't been watching the news this week or he's exceptionally rude.

What next?

Right now I'm still trying to find a job; I'm hoping it will be something I enjoy and that I'll want to work at for a while. Or it may not be--things are still a little uncertain at this point. The thing I am realizing, however, is that I need more than a job, I need a career. Yes, I've been working on a master's degree for three years now and that should be able to help me launch a career. It probably will, but I'm not sure what kind of career I want. If I want to teach I should go on to get a PhD. Otherwise I will be teaching community college for the next twenty or thirty years. I should decide by the end of this summer, because the application process can be somewhat involved and difficult and most applications are due in December or early January.

Teaching, especially at a college level, makes a lot of sense. The hours are flexible and definitely more family-friendly than a regular, full-time job. Also, I love ideas. I love being in the classroom and discus…

Birthday Dreams

I just realized that my birthday is coming up in a little over two weeks. It's hard to believe that a year has passed already since last year's big event, and it's even harder to believe that this is my last birthday of my second decade. Next year I hit the big leagues. Yikes! This year I actually have a birthday list; I've decided it's emotionally healthy to start having things that I want or need. I do have wish lists on Amazon with books, movies, music, and a few fun kitchen items. I also don't mind flowers or chocolate either. Any of the following items would be great too:

1. Magazine subscriptions
I get National Geographic and the Church magazines, but I haven't ever gotten anything else. A while ago I got some old issues of Everyday Foodand really liked them, so I think a subscription would be fun. I've had a lot of people tell me that Real Simple is even better, so maybe that would be better because then I could have other ideas for my house beside…

Fun for Friday: The Big White Envelope

This post over at Times and Seasons led me to a whole new way to waste time: watching video of people opening their mission calls on You Tube. It is, of course, inevitable that people would start using this medium for broadcasting their life milestones, and getting your call really is a milestone. Most people probably only put their video up for friends and family, but it's still fun to watch even if you don't know them. My favorite is this one of two guys from Finland. It's probably not as funny if you speak Finnish, but it made me bust a gut watching them.

It also made me realize that it's been nearly 8 years since I opened my envelope. I don't remember many specifics of the moment; there wasn't a large crowd there and no one was taping it or anything. I spent most of that night and the next day in shock, because I hadn't considered Spain and I didn't know much about the country. But I'm still glad I went and I will always cherish my mission memori…

Acceptance

The Kubler-Ross model of the five stages of grief may or may not be the best one for describing reactions to major life changes, but I think the final stage of acceptance is critical. I'm still having a hard time with that part, and I know I need to get there so that I can deal with the rest of my life. I keep hoping that one day Master Fob will suddenly turn to me and say "never mind, I don't want to do this". But it's not going to happen; my mind tells me that, but my heart doesn't want to let go of the dream. So far I've gone through denial (some days I'm still there), anger (I've been wanting to throw things, but we own very few dishes and I don't want to clean up the mess; I'm also still there a lot of the time too), bargaining (I'm too embarrassed to admit to alternate solutions I proposed), and depression (where I'm definitely stuck for the moment). But I still haven't reached acceptance. I can see that it will be health…

Productive

This morning I made a batch of granola, swept and vacuumed the floors, and applied for three different jobs. Then this afternoon I made some chocolate chip cookies as well as a yummy, healthy dinner. And I've taken care of a bunch of random odds and ends throughout the day. Plus the kids both got baths and were in bed asleep by eight o'clock (they both got up at seven this morning so they were pretty tired out). I like to be busy and have things to do; the job search is making me antsy because I have this desire to get my life in order and to be doing something. My thesis is more or less done and it is now in the hands of my committee to schedule a defense date (reminder to self: do some emailing on that one). I know it will take a little time to find myself a good job, but I've been spending a lot of time looking around and finding some good possibilities. In the meantime, I should just relax and enjoy my free time because I won't get very many more days like today in…

Reading Roundup: March

I've been wanting to start this book review thing since the beginning of the year, but I keep forgetting about it. This is mainly so that I remember what I've been reading, since it all tends to blend together into mush in my brain. But I also love to share books with others so I thought it would be fun to let everyone know what's been on my mind lately.

Me Talk Pretty One Dayby David Sedaris

This was the perfect book for a road trip: light, humorous, and broken down into small-ish sections. It was also laugh-out-loud hilarious in several spots. Even though he is crude at times and sometimes the hyperbole bothers me, when I'm in the right mood David Sedaris will literally cause me to hyperventilate with glee.

Death in Yellowstoneby Lee Whittlesey

I plucked this off the Thteed family bookshelf after vaguely remembering it from a National Parks gift shop. It was fascinating; the details about bear attacks were particularly gruesome. It had the unfortunate effect of making me…

Another Conversation with S-Boogie

SB: Look Mommy, it's getting dark. Soon the sun will eat his dinner, put on his pajamas, and brush his teeth and go to bed.

Me: What does the sun eat for dinner?

SB: Sun food!

Me: What's sun food?

SB: Hmmm... Sun macaroni and cheese!

The Plan

I have been away from home for over three weeks now and I'm anxious to get settled down somewhere. My original plan had been to stay in Utah for a little while and then go back up to Seattle if it didn't feel right or things weren't working out. Then when I got here I decided to just stay and look for jobs. Now I've changed my mind again and I'm going back up to Seattle. I feel like this is the right decision. I've prayed, pondered, received a priesthood blessing, and gone to the temple. And I watched all four sessions of conference and really listened to the Spirit speaking to me rather than the speakers. After studying it out in my mind I realized the following things: I like the climate and the culture of the Northwest, the job market is better for the kinds of careers I want, and my children will be closer to their father. I will be farther away from family and some of my friends, but I'm trusting my mind and my heart on this one.

I'm a little nervou…

Little Dude's ER Adventure

On Monday afternoon Little Dude woke up from his nap feeling quite hot. I took his temperature and it was a toasty 102 degrees. So I gave him some Tylenol and called the free nurse hot line that our insurance company has. The nurse reassured me that, while his temperature was a little high, without any other obvious symptoms he'd probably be all right. He seemed fine for the rest of the evening and went to bed easily. Then around nine he woke up crying and shaky. His temperature was up to 102.4 and he just didn't seem to feel good at all. I also noticed that his knees seemed kind of red and swollen and he flinched when I touched them. That's when the paranoid mommy sense kicked in and I started to get worried, because I'd read about kids with weird symptoms that suddenly died from infections. My brother-in-law called a neighbor to help give Little Dude a blessing and I also gave him some Tylenol. After waiting a little while more, I decided to take him to the doctor ju…

What I haven't been blogging about

I feel like I haven't been posting much lately. It's not just because I'm on vacation. For the last month everything has been really crazy in my life. The problem is, we're getting divorced.

I haven't said much on the blog yet, but it's getting to the point where I can't really post much that would make sense without some background. And I'm tired of pretending like everything is fine when it's not. I'll try not to turn this into a forum to vent my feelings; that's why I have a journal. Most of my close friends and family already know, but like I said, I need to be able to post again.

I've been here in Utah for the past two weeks now. My original plan was to stay here and get a job. It's cheaper here and I'm closer to family and friends. But I feel like my heart is softening and all I've been able to think about for the last few days are my children. Little Dude hasn't seemed to notice too much, but S-Boogie is sad, angry a…