Thursday, September 29, 2011

Making Changes.

In a Mindful Monday post a couple of weeks ago, I resolved to get my butt to the gym every day for a week.  To make this happen, I had a list that felt a mile long to accomplish each night.  It went something like this:

  • Clear the dining room table
  • Pack lunch for hubby and me
  • Go through the mail
  • Sort dirty laundry
  • Fold whatever's in the dryer
  • Transfer whatever's in the washer to the dryer and TURN ON
  • Load the washer and set the timer for the following afternoon
  • Pick out kids clothes
  • Pick out my work clothes and my workout clothes
  • Pack gym bag
  • Get to bed by 10pm

The list felt impossible.  Turns out it wasn't.  As I went along I missed a few things.  Bean got to dress herself one day.  I forgot socks another.  One evening the dryer was full of WET clothes.  I haven't a clue how that happened.  I think the funniest was the night when I gave myself a break packing lunches.  The next morning I remember to hop in Hubby's car to drop it off that the shop between the gym and work.  The shop shuttled me to my office.  The fault in my lunch planning didn't hit me until I was standing in the parking lot without a car at noon, very very hungry.  *sigh*

As the days have passed, I've kept up pretty well with the list and the goal of making it to the gym each morning.  The biggest lesson I've learned so far is not to trust my evening self.  If I let my evening self slide on the chore list, it really tends to tweak the morning me when she's unable to start the day 'right' because my evening self didn't do her job.  Grrr.

Having succeeded in my original goal, and honestly surpassing it by continuing, I've decided it is time to commit to a gym.  Tonight I purchased a gym membership.  I worry this is something I'll regret.  I'm already anxious about adding another little key chain scan card to my collection, especially one with a monthly fee.  However, the memebership goes month to month and I am into this for this month so it is worth it.  And they have a pool!  I love the pool.  My kids love the pool.  I'm super excited about going to the pool with my kids on the weekends followed by nice long naps for everyone.  Ha!  I can dream!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Who are you today?

Between critiquing the latest software test plan and reading Stop Saying Your Fine by Mel Robbins, I read this Motherese post centered on writing about the contradictions which make up a life. The exercise was to answer a prompt unrestricted for 5 minutes.  At least that was what formed the blog post.  I decided to give it a try.

I write.  At least I try to.  I'm still learning and often embarrased of how things turn out.

I edit as a write a lot.  Too much.

I listen to music when I want to tune out my surroundings.  My life.  The things that aren't in front of me.  Sometimes it works.

I get scared when I deviate.  I worry a lot.  I want to be the opposite.

I am a hard worker.  I do what I'm told.  I envy those who can forge their own path without requiring the approval of others.  I want to be one of those people.

I love carelessly.  I love that about myself.  I get hurt a lot.  I get disappointed.  I love it.

I wish I could dance or sing or play an instrument or shine like no one else in some wild way.

I create routines to make life more efficient.  I do this in my work, my house, my life, my family.  I lean on the routines to keep things okay.  The flow of a good routine is a reward, but the breakdown is much more fascinating.

I am learning what I want to do when I grow up.  I don't think there is a real answer for that question.  I want it to keep changing.

My five minutes is up.  I'm leaving these here.  Quickest blog post ever.  Fully formed in under 10 minutes.  I like it.

A Good Life.

The alarms sounds.  The bed is so comfy and warm.  A quick peak reveals at there are no 2.75 year olds jumping up and down next to the bed in anticipation of parental attention.  A deep sigh of relief.  The weather has begun to cool and the air in the room is crisp.  Revel in the quiet of the house for just a a few more moments.

Stretch.  Change into workout clothes.  Eat breakfast.  Grab lunch & gym bag.  Kiss Hubby.  Head out the door while the babies are still sleeping all snug in their beds.

The gym is awfully bright at 5:30am.  But pleasantly empty.  The grunting racket ball players are warming up.  No grunting yet.  Soon.  Corner locker 17 is empty.  What a treat!  The Rage Against the Machine pouring out of the weight room is too much this morning.  A couple of wrong turns and the cardio room reveals itself.

Ten minutes on the elliptical.  Two sets of strength building exercises.  Stretch.  Pack up workout clothes.  Shower.  Wash foot.  UGH.  Wash hair.  AH.  Wash Face.  EEUH!  Dress.  UH!  Primp. OMF!  Access.  YES!  Pack up the bag.  Wave hi to the racket ball players.  Back in the car.

Traffic is gloriously absent.  There must be a sweet spot between the early birds and those who punch the clock just in the knick of time.  Drive relaxed.  Acquire coffee drink.  Park in "my" spot.  There's a tree and a bench nearby.  Green grass.  So very calm.

My desk is just how it was left the day before.  Day old coffee cup in need of tossing.  Tests spread everywhere.  Schedule tacked to the wall.  Calendar forecasting the future.  The day divides nicely into three chunks of productive time.  Each chunk is allocated and planned as the day's goals are set.  The rhythm of today begins to reveal itself.

Email.  Trip to the cafe for water.  Chunk 1.  Snack.  Email.  Check Facebook.  Chunk 2.  Email.  Lunch.  Check Blogs.  Escape the desk.  Access the morning's progress.  Email.  Chunk 3.  Snack.  Email.  Check News.  Tie up loose ends.  Make notes for tomorrow's work.  Punch Clock.

Go Home!  Twenty minutes to decompress.  The worries of the day settle to the back of the mind like silt.  Time will come all too soon to stir them in a frenzy.  For now they lie still and organize themselves without interference.  The need to push and strive begins to fade.  The Mom begins to replace the Leader.  Deep breaths.  Thankful thoughts.  Relief.

Pulling into the drive at day care, Bean sees the car.  Her little face lights up.  She breaks into a run the car pulls to the curb.  Huge hug.  Today was a rough day for her.  Too little sleep.  Behaving is hard when sleep is elusive.  Mondays are always hard.  An extra tight hug.  A few extra kisses on the forehead.  The day's trials begin to fade from her little eyes.

Inchie squeals.  She's just caught on to the new arrival.  The squeals can't express all the joy.  She flops onto her belly and lays on the floor as if she's fallen asleep.  This is the ultimate compliment.  The excitement is more than her little body can hope to express.  More hugs.  More kisses.  Quick exchange on the day's proceeding with the day care.  Never quick enough for the girls.

Load the car.  Buckle up.  Bean wants the ABC song.  She asks by singing the whole song as its title.  Inchie has a hate on for her carseat or Bean's singing.  Arrive home.  Unload car.  Put away shoes.  Break for potty time.  Double check gates.

Dinner tonight is a new recipe.  Top Ten Tuna Melts get reborn as Tuna Patties.  Though it's a simple recipe, it takes too long for Bean and Inchie Underfoot.  Food's on the table.  Hubby and Auntie arrive just in time to get it while it's hot.  Maybe a delay in dinner isn't such a bad thing after all.  Everyone cleans their plates.  Tuna Patties are a success!

Bean heads to the bathroom to wash her hands.  She gets sent back when her hands are still dry 3 minutes later.  Things are a little too quiet and pull Mom into the bathroom.  Bean is directed once again to wash her hands.  "BUTICAN'TWASHMYHANDSBECAUSEIDROPPEDSOMETHINGDOWNTHEDRAIN" Huh?  Sobbing little girls who tell the truth when they've done something wrong get Mom's full sympathy and extra hugs and love on top.  Once the sobbing is reduced to hiccups, Bean confesses to Hubby.  "What'd you drop down the drain?"  "I don't know." "What'd it look like?" "Something I dropped down the drain."  *sigh*  Father Daughter Drain Dis-assembly.  One pair of fingernail clippers retrieved and sanitized for many more years of use.

Two Baths.  Two unfolded loads of miniature clothes.  Four different sizes.  Bean puts her underwear and socks away on her own.  Inchie's in bed before her basket is ready.  One more thing for tomorrow night's list.  Read one last story to Bean.  Say Prayers.  Wish Auntie good night.  Tuck in the last little girl standing.  Turn on Peter and the Wolf.  It's been a week since Bean has played chase and escape at bedtime.  Snores can be heard within 5 minutes.  A deep sigh of relief.

Clear dining room table.  Make Lunches.  Check day care log.  Sort mail.  Fold clothes in dryer.  Transfer load from washer to dryer.  Fill washer with tomorrow's load.  Set the timer to get it all going after morning showers are over.  Pick out clothes.  Pack gym bag.

The day is almost over.  Hubby comes out of his office.  How was your day?  What did you do?  Synchronize the schedule.  Plan to keep the house running.  Dream of vacations and new houses and easier days with fewer demands.  Kiss Hubby.  Go to Bed.  Read.  Relax.  Sleep.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Just a quick note.  This blog has not been abandoned in pursuit of loftier goals.  It has also not been forgotten.  As happens periodically in my life, it has become victim to my overachieving meltdown.  Every once in a while as I work on growing and changing and learning, I bite off a little more than I can chew.  I chew vigorously and determinedly, but eventually I have to admit defeat.  As to what happens to the over-sized bite...  Of that we will not speak.  But everything stops as I reorganize and re-prioritize.  I'd say I'm in day 7 of the cycle.  I took the bite, choked on it, was overcome by sadness at have once again 'screwed it up', chided myself for being so over dramatic, actually admitted I was being over dramatic, forgave myself and started rebuilding my momentum.  It's building.  I'm feeling good.  I'll be back soon!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Text: More about Me.


As a little girl, I wanted to marry my best friend.  She and I loved to plan out our lives together.  We'd have arguments over who was the husband.  I have a sneaking suspicion that it was usually me.  Our days were spent running around our nanny's yard and getting in trouble.  Fault always landed firmly on my shoulders even though we did the same things.  I believed that if only the grown-ups understood what we were doing their anger would just fade away.  Strangely it never worked out that way.

Twenty-five years later, I find myself married to my best friend.  He and I began planning our lives together a little over ten years ago.  We have arguments over how we're rising our two little girls.  I have a sneaking suspicion they're more in control than we are.  Our days are spent maintaining our family, house and careers and planning for the next unforeseen detour.  Perceived injustices chaff me especially when I see how easily they could have been avoided.  I believe that if I deal with others openly and honestly that's how I'll be dealt with.  Sadly, it doesn't always work that way.

The Between:

I'm still that little girl.  I look at my life and I know I can do better.  More.  Not better than my husband or my girls, mind you.  Not better than anything.  Just BETTER.  I still have a future I haven't explored yet.  This feeling isn't a fleeting one.  I remember it as a child when I wasn't being understood.  Then again as a teenager with big dreams of far off places.  Once again as a young adult after I started learning my own things about the way the world works.  And again as a woman realizing I wanted more than I could attain by myself.  Most recently again as a mother feeling alone and clueless in a sea of others' experiences and advice.

Each accomplishment quiets it for a moment.  In those times, I can rest and restore myself, get my bearings.  Time passes as I recharge and before long I feel the dissatisfaction awaken again.  It asks me to do more than I'm doing today.  Push a little harder tomorrow.  Search.  Absorb.  Modify.  Stretch.  Achieve.  Ignoring it is painful and pointless.  It is an insatiable thirst I was born with.  A thirst for more.  This thirst got me where I am today.  It defines the text I'm working from each time I take a look around at where I am.  As I've gotten to know myself, I've learned to accept this feeling.  Now I plan to capture the process of embracing it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mindful Mondays: Sweat It Out

One thing became clear to me last week.  I need to be more serious about taking care of myself.  As I tried to find time for me each day, I noticed repetitively that I didn't.  I worked away at my mom list and my work list and my chore list until they were able to be set aside and only THEN did I engage in Me Time.

Looking back at my original plan of attack, I did do each of the things that I had on my attack plan.  At least I did them most of the time.  I took my full lunch 3 days.  My timeliness was restricted to 2 days.  Ray took bedtime routine and rocked it even saving me on one of my nights when my temper got the best of me.  But as the week concluded I looked to my list and realized that I still couldn't get things knocked off it the way that I do all my others.

There was one item on my Me Time list that I did make progress on.  I've had 'Exercise for 10 minutes each day' on my list for MONTHS.  The actual goal that spawned that item is 'Exercise for 45 minutes 5 days a week'.  However I've become so frustrated about missing that goal that I started breaking it down a few months ago into smaller pieces.  I have yet to meet even the smaller goal with regularity and this week was no exception.  How is that progress?

Well, by the end of the week, I was actually clued into one of my Me Time problems that I didn't even realize I had.  I get up at 5am everyday to have time to exercise before my girls get up.  That's the plan, but the reality is that they beat me up more days than not and I abandon my exercise time to spend time with them.  This often has the double bad of making me late to work as well.  This is something I can do something about!

WHO: Me and My Hubby

WHAT: Make Exercise a Priority!

WHY: I feel awful.  My day job has me tied to a desk and I'm puttering around the house the rest of the time.  My intensity when I take my girls on a walk in the evenings is laughable.  AND it is showing!  I am running out of steam before I even enter the evening push at home.  This has to change.

HOW: I have a clear plan here.  I'm thrilled about it and looking forward to seeing how it works.
  • Garner hubby's support in the mornings.  I've had the goal of exercising each morning for months, but have I clued him in?
  • Get out of the house.  There are an infinite number of distractions within my house to stop exercise in its tracks.
  • Complete my daily prep in the evenings.  To support exercise time in the mornings, I have to stop playing catch up in the morning on the items I didn't get done the night before.
Do you exercise each day?  How do you fit it in your schedule?

Menu Plan Monday: More than Dinner.

Whew!  Last week was a rush!  We had a short week  but it was still more than I was up to planning.  I mean, I planned for it, but I still had some slip-ups - like planning to eat lunch out on the day I was without a car and forgetting to pick up out CSA share until the next day. Thankfully, I have some awesome co-workers who happily took me to lunch and lots of gracery stores on the way home for mid-week stocking up.

Not to mention we've had rain EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. in the past week.  I might just be losing my mind.  Tropical Storm Lee broke up over the East Coast and decided not to move on.  Everyday was gray and rainy.  Not just a little drizzle either!  Lightening and Flooding and buckets of water coming from the sky.  It was all pretty overwhelming as the week went on.  I was glad I had done my planning and shopping before the week started.  That helped a lot.

One area of concern this week was lunches.  I pack lunch for myself and my husband each day.  Well, I at least try to every day.  Between our changing work schedules and the sporadic availability of leftovers, packing lunch can be onerous.  There have been more than a few last minute lunches thrown together by packing an American cheese sandwich, a Ziploc of stale crackers and an over-ripe banana.  I'm proud of my ingenuity of producing SOMETHING for lunch, but I can't say it is something I like repeating.  Plus we inevitably don't have enough food to make it through the day when one of those lunches goes out the door.

This week I've added a loose Breakfast and Lunch menu.  At least now I've put an extra minute of thought towards what we are going to eat that week in our lunches and I'll have ample supplies in the house.  I can't say I dislike 10pm grocery store trips - the quietness of Giant at 10pm is awe inspiring - but requiring one every week stops being a treat.

This week's menu:
(Me) Muffin, Cottage Cheese & Blue Machine
(Hubby) Oatmeal, Bananas & OJ

LO Ham Bone Soup
LO Spaghetti
Mediterrean Tuna Salad
Fruit (Watermelon, Strawberries, Bananas)

Monday: Crockpot Ham Bone Soup
Tuesday: Grilled Fish with Rice & Carrots
Wednesday: Spaghetti
Thursday: Chicken Tenders with Sweet Potato Fries
Friday: Family Dinner
Saturday:Dinner at Grandma's house
Sunday: Beer Can Chicken
How do you deal with Breakfast and Lunch each day?  Is there variety to your selections?  Do you with there was?  *grin*

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lunch Box Challenge: Week 1

Holiday weeks are hard!

With no work on Monday, a car repair on Tuesday, a flooded office building cancelling work and off-site meetings, this week's lunch packing left something to be desired.  Actually lunch was packed everyday, but only eaten once by my husband and twice by me.  Thankfully the prepped but uneaten lunches were able to be saved for the next day.

One issue I have always had with packing lunches is keeping it interesting.  My general approach of late it to keep snacks the same and find a little variety in the main meal.  This has been accomplished more and more by going to prepared foods that simply require a microwave.

Morning Snack
6oz. Lowfat Yogurt with 1 Tbsp of jam
Granola Bar

(Me) Healthy Choice Entree & leftover veggies or salad from previous night's dinner
(Hubby) Ramen noodles with frozen veggie blend and shelled edamame
Fruit (Apple, Banana, Grapes, etc.)

Afternoon Snack
2 Tbsp Humms
Snack bag of Pita Chips

This has been our lunch menu for about 2 weeks now.  It's starting to get stale, but I've really been struggling with what to put in our lunch boxes.  Lately I've been trolling for lunch ideas.  I'd love to find some veggie and bean based salads that I can make on Sunday and use to mix things up during the week.  We'll see what I can pull together for lunch next week.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Blessing in Disguise.

The evening started out so well.  Spirits were high as we pulled away from day care and prepared for a girls' night at home.  Dinner went smoothly, slightly rigged by serving pizza and strawberries.  Outside time was cut short after a monster spider took over the swing set.  Without my husband to wrangle it, Bean and I readily surrendered and backed away slowly with Inchie in my arms.  Several fits and timeouts later everyone was bathed and in bed.  I was dreaming of spending a few sweet hours in my basement, dealing with Project Office, catching up on my reading, watching re-runs of Buffy in the background.

Bean had other plans.

7:50pm "Mommy I need to go potty."
7:55pm "I like your book."
8:03pm "A mosquito bit my cheek."
8:04pm "My hand hurts."
8:10pm "Whatcha reading?"
8:11pm "I need a drink of water."
8:12pm "I need a drink of water because my cheek hurts."
8:13pm "I need a drink of water because my hand hurts."
*fake coughing fit heard in the distance*
8:14pm "I need a drink of water because I am coughing." *cough* *cough*
8:20pm "I have a book."
8:23pm "Mommy, may I read with you?"
8:25pm "I really need a sip of water."
8:30pm "Just one sip, Mommy."
8:45pm "Hehee."
8:47pm "I WANT DADDY!"
8:49pm "Hehee."
8:56pm drags pillow into the living room and lays down on the floor
8:58pm drags blanket into the living room and lays down on the floor
9pm "Hehee." and runs back to bed
9:10pm "Mommy, your book is pretty."
9:13pm "I still a sip of water."
9:20pm "Hehee."
9:27pm quietly sits in rocking chair and stars at me.
9:28pm runs back to room as my feet hit the ground.
9:30pm "Hehee.:

Mommy lays down with Bean.

9:32pm Bean falls asleep.

And Mommy thanks God for giving her a moment with her 2 year old asleep in her arms.

I love cuddly sleeping babies.  I don't have cuddly babies particularly when they are sleepy.  Beyond the first two months, my kids have slept in their own beds each night and I've slept in mine.  But tonight Bean fell asleep with her head on my shoulder and her hand stroking my fingers as she fell asleep.  I laid there for 15 minutes loving the relaxed little girl snoring in my arms.  Oh how I love that little girl.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lunch Box Challenge

The Lunch Box Challenge has been posed by The Happiest Mom and I think I'll take it as my needed motivation for the next month.  Right now I'm 2 weeks into a new resolution to pack lunch for my husband and myself at least 4 days a week.  I can feel my commitment faltering.  Maybe if I post about it the priority will remain high to get it done.  My lunch budget sure hopes so!

Thankfully day care provides Bean and Inchie with great wholesome lunches each day.  I'm not yet on the hook for packing their lunches.  However, someday it will begin and practice makes perfect.

Challenge starts for me tomorrow.  I'll let you know how I do on Saturday!

PS - A Giveaway is going on at The Happiest Mom for a slew of awesome lunch support items.  Check it out!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mindful Monday: Me Time

I can't say my Appreciation Edition of Mindful Mondays went as well as I could have hoped, but I did remember and give it a try on more than a few occasions.  Small things I was thankful for - my daughters asleep in their beds before 9pm, a clean bathroom, having resources to address our car issues before they're too late, being able to wear my dress shoes again for the first time in two years.  Noticing these things and taking a moment to be thankful felt wonderful.  I can definitely understand how there is something to being thankful for what you have as a way of improving your life.

The catch is that they weren't really small things.  War is being waged in our house nightly to get our 2 year old to go to sleep; most of the time I think she is winning.  Some part of the bathroom is cleaned everyday in an attempt to keep ahead on the housework.  Car repairs are planned for in our yearly budget; it's taken us over 6 years of planning and adjusting to get a grip on our finances.  Pain in my feet, legs and back during my first pregnancy forced me to retire all my dress shoes; while I'm not sure I'll ever get back into heels, well thought out dress shoes might be back into rotation.  Each of thing I was consciously thankful for was something I'd worked for mixed with a bit of luck or timing.  Small things continually slipped by unnoticed which was really what I was hoping to change.

I can see that being thankful for the things in your life is a constant process.  I imagine it takes practice before it becomes a habit or way of thinking.  With time, it will change your whole outlook, but more than a week is needed.  Prompted by that line of thinking, this week's goal is a bit more active.

WHO: Me.

WHAT: Planning some time for me each and every day and set goald as to what I want to accomplish in that time.

WHY:  Really?  You need to ask?  But seriously, I don't take enough time for myself.  Some days I don't take ANY time for myself.  I've been noticing my temper growing shorter with my two year old and my attention being not so focused at work.  Both of these get more pronounced when I'm neglecting me.

HOW: Notice how I didn't just say "Take Me Time"?  I've worked this goal before, or some lesser variant of it.  Too often I take Me Time, but I don't do anything with it.  I turn my brain completely off and vegetate.  While that is an important activity, it should not be the default activity during Me Time.  As I find my Me Time this week I'm going to refer to a list of wants and determine what it is *I* want to do during that time, how I would most enjoy it.  Some actions include:
  • Take my full lunch break.  At my current workplace, we are required to include a 1 hour lunch break in our daily schedule.  This means that we are required to work 8 hours each day, but we really have to schedule a 9 hour day.  As such, there are many (too many) days there I sit at my desk and eat while working or surfing the internet.
  • Be on time to work. Being late to work just means I have to cut in on my lunch or evening decompression time to make up for it.
  • Swap off bedroom routine nights with my husband.  Really this one should be a no brainer as it is one of the most frustrating times of the day, but too often I'm sending him off and manning the battle stations myself.
  • Make a list of activities to which to refer.  There are always things I want to do, but never make time.  Take a 15 minute walk.  Shop for new shoes.  Clean off the top of my dresser.  Paint my nails.  Read.
What would you do if you found 30 minutes of quiet unscheduled alone time in your day?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Top Ten List

Last week went well.  Better than I'd expected for being the first week I formally planned our menu in over 2 months.  I followed the plan until we hit Friday at which point I realized that my schedule was not right.  I knew it wasn't right when I learned on the way home from work that three people were at my house waiting to eat and I wasn't there to let them in.  Oops.

Thankfully I was my job to host, but not to cook and everyone else was on the ball.  Needless to say I've done a little more double checking this week in hopes of not leaving anyone stranded on my back deck.  At least we had really night weather this week for them to enjoy while they waited for me!

In my MPM First Edition, I alluded to a Top Ten Meal List.  This is the list of ten meals which I can prepare from memory in well under 30 minutes with two hot'n'tots underfoot.  The list got made 5 months after Inchie was born and I'd been back at work for two months.  I realized that with one child I had been able to be a a bit more ambitious during weeknight dinners.  We had favorites like Chick Pea Burgers or White Chicken Enchiladas which I'd make from scratch starting when I walked in the door after work.  With the addition of the second child, I learned that microwaving Spaghetti O's was an accomplishment some nights and I was bothered by how much Bean liked Spaghetti O's, more than Mommy's crazy dinners.

So I responded the way any sane working mother would. I got totally overwhelmed most nights while trying to make dinner and sobbed on the phone to my husband who promptly ordered me out of the kitchen and brought home take out.  THEN, after a month of sobbing, I made my Top Ten Meal List.  Without further ado, here's the list:
  1. Spaghetti (with or without Meat)
  2. Broiled Fish
  3. Burgers
  4. Pita Pizza
  5. Grilled Chicken/Pork
  6. Tuna Melts
  7. Chili/Soup
  8. Stir-fry
  9. Chicken Tenders
  10. Crockpot
And yes, Crockpot is a meal.  Anything that can be thrown into a crockpot the night before and refrigerated until the morning when I put it on the counter to cook is fair game.  AND often easier than even the simple meals I can prepare.  Any prep I do at night or on the weekends keeps these go-to meals from being the most droll dinners.  Without it I would be very bored of these 10 meals by now.

This week's menu:
Monday: Labor Day - Burgers & Corn on the Cob
Tuesday: Grilled Chicken & Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Wednesday: Stir-fry
Thursday: Tacos with Corn Salsa
Friday: Crockpot Ham Bone Soup
Saturday: Seafood Kebabs
Sunday: Beer Can Chicken
Do you have a Top Ten Meal List as well?  What are your go-to dinners?

Friday, September 2, 2011

The compliment.

Today had me whipped before I even walked out the door.  The girls are sleeping better and we ate at home mot of the week.  Those are usually my two number one exhausters, but I still hit the wall today.  It was a big day for me.  A huge milestone for the product that I work on and a not insignificant milestone for my project.  Both milestones met successfully even if they both consisted of a frantic push right to the end.

Somewhere during all of it, we got to discussing previous designs gone wrong.  We all have them.  You can't be an innovative software designer if you don't push the envelope or yourself a little too far once in a while.  One of my designs I was most proud of has never been implemented.  I tried for two weeks before schedule pressure arrived and I had to abandon my approach for a more ... sedate one.

For this design, you get a bunch of data in.  It is all compressed and you don't know what you've got until you start reading through it.  The data always begins the same but takes on different formats and contains different information based on what was in the common fields.  The idea was to instantiate a generic class which would add attributes and methods to itself dynamically corresponding to the data it parsed.  When the parsing was complete, the original instance of the class would have been customized to manipulate all the fields of the data without extraneous attributes or methods and also without knowing anything about the original data.

If you followed that, I can tell you that my language of attack is python and you can do what I wanted to want in python (dynamically adding attributes and methods to a class instance).  I just couldn't make it work in the time that I had.  My initial design was not so well articulated and I tried to tackle it by dynamically changing my inheritance structure.  That is as yucky as it sounds and it blatantly didn't work.  I tried other even wackier things during my two weeks, but was inventually encouraged to pursue a different design.  At the time, I was unable to get buy in for my approach and my moved on.

In talking about this today, another developer called my initial design elegant.  I was almost speechless.  To me having something I design be referred to as elegant brings tears of joy to my eyes.  I strive to write clean, intuitive, and yes elegant, solutions.  In my corporate environment I've settled for writing things that I can make work before we run out of budget.  I look back as some of my projects with embarrassment when I have to explain them and a bug which has been discovered within to the uninitiated.

But for a few minutes today, something I wrote was considered ELEGANT.  It warns this little developer's heart and gives me hope that I haven't completely gone off course with my life.  This code comes from somewhere.  And in that place a little hope still lives that the next thing I implement will transcend my usual rush and be a little greater than the last great thing I managed to do.  Maybe even elegant...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Project Preview: My Office.

I am Margot and This is my office.  *sigh*

At least it is supposed to be my office.  In actuality it started out as a guest room.  If you look in the lower right hand corner, you can see the bedpost.  With the arrival of our second child, I had to give up my spacious office on the first floor of our house and move here.  I am good with the move, but I haven't able to figure out what to do with all the stuff.

You see, I'm kind of a hobby whore.  I love to create.  In this picture alone there are enough craft supplies to keep a grade school class busy for MONTHS.  Well, months if the class wasn't too big.  Towards the end you'd have to be creative - hehee - but that is kind of the point.  Hobbies I am currently fluent in - sewing, knitting, crocheting and anything that involves cutting and gluing papers together.  Something I'm merely flirting with?  Disaster?  NO!  Scrapbooking!  Be concerned.

So there.  I've admitted it.  I have a problem.  Or an office.  Or a studio.  I can't really tell the difference these days.  I look into this room and find myself paralyzed by the overwhelming mess it has become.

However, the problem runs deeper than that.  Do you notice was it missing from this 'office'?  My computer.  My sewing machine.  About half my yarn.  Numerous craft supplies.  And windows to the outside world.  The last item I can ignore, but the rest...  Not so much.  I need a place where I'm surrounded by creative crafty goodness.  It need not be perfectly organized, but I need it to be manageable; I need it to stop getting in the way of fabricating my dreams!

So this is my project for the next 2 months.  I don't have a lot of time, but I have enough time to tackle this.  I am making the time.  Next step?  A plan.