Friday, April 28, 2017

Just some pics

 hanging out with Grandpa
 superbloom above Ventura
 waiting for Dada to get a suit
Me and D on the Dragon at Happy Hollow

more pics to come...

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


D is singing in the giant bathtub as we finish our first full day in Glasgow (pronounced glaz-go, in case you were wondering). We flew out of LAX on Monday night and arrived in Glasgow Tuesday night. The flight was largely uneventful, except for a couple toddler moments, with D crying, "I need to get off now!!!". He slept some, but the seats proved too uncomfortable for prolonged sleep, even for a 3ft tall kid. Alex and I slept some, but we were so thrilled to arrive to a warm hotel room for our first night. We ate at the hotel restaurant and collapsed into bed, exhausted. Naturally, jet lag had me awake and starving half the night. We woke up and caught the bus to city center, checked our luggage at the train station and walked about the streets. It's a beautiful city, and a lot of the architecture reminds me of the nicer streets in Philly. It's clear that our older cities found inspiration in the major European cities, likely because many came from here. My maternal grandfather was from Glasgow. His family came to the US in the early 20th century.

We ate a light lunch at a cafe and wandered about, checking out the Glasgow MOMA and finally settling in a square where D chased pigeons (and attracted hundreds just by throwing dirt on the ground - dumb birds!). We checked into our flat for the next two days. It's a nice place, but to our eyes, a little disorganized and shabby. But no biggie - we don't live here.

So far, I've had lovely interactions with people here. The bus driver complained to me about people putting their luggage in the racks the wrong way. It reminded me so much of Philly - the conspiratorial complaining that is actually quite funny. D ran around a market, finding items that were in the wrong place, and wanting to return them to their proper place. The clerk told me he does this all day - and he has no idea why things are left where they are (a package of cakes found by the fridge section, shoved in a crack).

We stayed at the apartment the rest of the day, except for a stop at the market. A jet lagged toddler does not have listening ears, and acts spastic at best. A good idea to keep him contained. Tonight, spaghetti and meat sauce for dinner. Some odd breakfast meats on deck for tomorrow. Tonight, D fell asleep during his nightly story, a first for sure. And now, naturally, at 10pm, I am quite awake and not at all sleepy - figures!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Haiku Friday

This week was rough, I
should focus on the little
things. We are healthy.


Serious crisis
in confidence. It happens
Not too. More rain.


Visitors Sunday
Dusty and family. We
love seeing old friends.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Worse and worse

I can't even keep up, and I'm honestly so upset that I don't think this will be coherent.

The Great Barrier Reef has been bleached at an unprecedented rate. An enormous part of it is gone and will not return in our lifetime

EPA cuts that prevent monitoring of water and air, and encourage corporations to relax regulations, releasing god knows what into our environment

A muslim ban? WTF?

Relaxing the regulations so we don't need to build more fuel efficient cars (why would you stop progress?)

Budget cuts not only the arts and Meals on Wheels, but also NASA and the NIH. He truly wants to build an electorate of uneducated, uninspired people.

My job is based on money from the NIH. I will lose my job and be unable to get another one if the cuts to the NIH go through. If I do get a job at a public school, I will have to work under the most uninformed, uneducated Education Secretary ever. Doesn't sound like a good thing to me.

Why do we need a bigger military? Are we at war? Are we going to war? With who?

Why are we trying to preserve manufacturing jobs when the clear issue is technological advancement? Why aren't we trying to find sustainable jobs for blue collar workers?

Why aren't we supporting education? Math? Science? Arts? Music? These things contribute heavily to a well rounded, enlightened society. Why eliminate them?

Why eliminate American exceptionalism? Why crush it?

I am unsure my family and I belong here anymore. I am unsure who these people who voted for him are, but they clearly do not share any values that I do.

I wonder if they regret electing him?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The sounds at my house

What does it sound like at your house?

In the early, early morning, I can hear the creek rushing in the valley

The trees rustle unless it's really windy and then they sound like a hurricane coming through

Sometimes, it's raining

Cows moo at each other and the moos echo across the valley

During the day, the woodpeckers and the squirrels fight constantly. One of the giant trees in front of our house is a woodpecker granary. The squirrels are constantly trying to steal the acorns. The battle commences daily.

The stellar jays talk a lot too. Sometimes they talk to you when you are walking in the driveway

The occasional car drives by

Sometimes, the volunteer fire department alarm rings

Our neighbors' chickens cluck

The ducks at the pond quack

Dogs bark

People walking by chat and also huff and puff. We live in a hill

Sometimes our neighbor is working on his house - sawing, hammering, listening to some oldies

Inside, D is laughing or talking or whispering

Toys are making noise

The cat is often meowing loudly

Usually, laundry

If our neighbor is home, there is lots of thumping from the downstairs apartment

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

How are things?

In January, I posted the following goals and I thought since we are about 2 months in that I would see how I am doing.

1) Declutter. I am unsubscribing from all emails that I get that I don't want. My inbox is still full, but more full of things I want to see instead of things I need to wade through. I'm working on our stuff, but that will take longer - probably the whole year. It's a process and I am going to enjoy it

This has been mostly a success. I've gotten rid of any and all emails that I get. I am so glad not to see them in my inbox. Most of the emails I get are ones that I want or ones that I need to read. This has been such a huge change. As fort decluttering, it's going about as slow as I thought it would. I've gone through the back bedroom and I've tried to sell stuff and donate things. I've cleaned up one of the bathrooms. The truth is, I don't have time to go through all the things I want to and sometimes I don't have the energy. I've changed some of this goal to picking up one thing and putting it away every day. We shall see how that goes.

2) Be kind. I smile at people I don't know. I joke with people serving me. I look people in the eye. I thank people for their help. I ask for help. People are not scary, as much as social media wants you to think they are. I need people. I like people. This also includes being kind to myself, and accepting myself for who I am and where I am right here and right now. We can all use a little more kindness in this world

Yes, yes and yes. I practice this every day. And I am so glad that I do.

3) Notice. Am I stressed? Am I tired? Happy? Sad? Grateful? Where am I right now and why? Much easier to notice and acknowledge my feelings.

This has been a struggle, to be honest. Both Jan and Feb have been stressful, not only at work, but also at home - with all the rain, broken roads, inside time, etc. I've been better about noticing that I am stressed or upset, but I don't exactly have the best habits for dealing with said stress. I am hoping that March will bring better eating and more exercise to counter this

4) Less. Less TV. Less shopping. Less social media. Less stuff. Less judgement.

This has been good. I only order from Amazon once a month and usually it's for things that we need, like kids birthday gifts. We still watch a fair bit of TV, with all the rain it's hard to avoid. But I've not been on the facebook for a while and I am so glad for it. It's too stressful and negative.

5) More. More books. More goals and priorities. More love. More time spent with family and friends. More music. More dancing. More family fun time.

I've read quite a few books this year and have a stack to get through still. I'm working on setting goals and priorities. I'm working on more love and more time spent with family and friends. We've put more music in our lives and nothing gives me more joy than to see my kids dancing around the living room.

6) Budget. I've just realized my biggest obstacle to budgeting has been that I don't do it! I would track our spending over and over again - months and months, but I could never figure out why we weren't sticking to the budget. Now, I've realized that if I want to keep our spending down, I need to use some extra tools, like putting up some of our budget on the fridge so I can track how much we spend on food and household items. And trying to make one big trip to the store every two weeks instead of every week. And meal planning. And using the things in our freezer and cabinet. I've already seen this make a huge difference in our lives, so I am looking forward to making this a habit.

This one I have been trying to stick to religiously, but I have to be honest, it's been hard. I've got a google docs budget that I share with Alex every month. And for the last two months, we've come in under our overall budget, but still over budget in several areas. The good news is that I paid off one student loan today. I have one more big one to go. I have been cooking our meals at home, and trying to use all the things in our cabinets and freezer. We haven't thrown out that much food lately, so that's good. And I've gotten in the habit of making one big egg casserole for breakfast during the week, and some soup and salad for lunch. This bit of meal prep on the weekends makes my life so much easier. I just need to get better at meal planning.

Well, that's my wrap up. I feel pretty satisfied with my progress and I am planning some goals for March that will tackle some of these things. Hooray for progress!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Pay it forward

A former student of mine from SJSU invited me down to visit her student association last night. I met up with about 15 Bio students at SJSU and gave a talk about "my story" - how I got to be where I am. Three of my former students attended and it was so, so fun to see them. They are all getting ready to graduate and move on with their lives. I'm thrilled that I could have been a small part in their education. And that they enjoyed their time with me.

I wrote a letter of rec for another student. She got into a graduate program that she was applying for, and she sent me this lovely little figurine that says "thank you". It's amazing to make a difference in people's lives. I am so glad that I could be a part of these students' lives, even for a brief time.

One of my former students is applying for medical school. She is incredibly talented and has always wanted to be a doctor. When I asked her where she is applying, she said CA and NY, mostly because she feels safer here. She is Muslim. 

Diversity is one of the things I value most, especially in science. It's so refreshing to see new perspectives and to hear new ideas. I am so hopeful for the next generation of scientists and biology majors. And I hope I can keep inspiring students to study science and to be good citizen scientists. I think we have a ways to go.