Thursday, March 30, 2017

3/29/17- Happy Birthday to Me!

Yay!  It's my birthday!  This week I'm all about the positive and focusing on celebration.  I have a lot to celebrate too. Family and friends. A published book.   People writing about my book on their blogs.  People buying my stories.  Cake.  A good paying job, even though I don't get paid the same as my engineering peers.  Oh that's going down the negative path.

Let's look at the cute picture instead of my Jack and Bobby (and me) that my friend, Enthusiastic About Life, took:

Every since I released my book, all I wanted was a picture of Jack reading my book.  That's easier said than done with an on-the-go toddler.  Luckily, my friend not only captured Jack looking at the book, but it's family photo too!

My friend was also kind enough to share my journey as a published author and giveaway another copy of my book on  Enthusiastic About Life.  And a fellow STEM mom wrote such a positive review on her blog, Mamas Organized Chaos, that I'm again on cloud nine.  Seeing and hearing about how your book makes children happy, well, that's a dream come true. Pinch me.

I also had Highlights, the children's magazine, buy my poem!  I don't know when it will be published, but one of the editors found out about my background in STEM and left the door open (or maybe it's a window) for me to submit science activities.  I also have a potential byline with a different STEM website, and the story is about my amazing, engineering friend Style Kemistry, so I really hope the outlet picks the story up.

And there's a radio interview (eek, I hope I don't say something dumb live). And book festivals.  And another published, children's book author is taking the time to read and review my book right now as we speak.  It's all so crazy and humbling.

And this weekend, dear husband is throwing me a birthday party and book launch party with family and friends. That's the sweet icing on the cake. And there will be cake (I think he's getting the cake to look like Annie, but I think that's supposed to be a surprise, but, he told me he had to run to the baker and was holding a copy of the book, so yeah). To paraphrase Fillmore from our house's favorite movie "Cars", like, feel the love man. I'm one loved birthday lady!  Happy birthday to me!  😍

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

3/22/17- Weekend Naps

So weekends are pretty awesome, I think most people would agree.  I can leave work behind and spend blissful time with family and friends.  And, I can also nap when Jack takes his nap.  As his parents, we try to make sure to leave open a couple of hours on weekends for Jack to take a nap. This is part of his schedule M-F at preschool/daycare, and we varied from it once. ONCE. And it was a disaster. So many tears from me, and from Jack, and his really weird refusal to go sleep at 10 pm that night when bed time is usually 8:30 pm.  I'm not saying we have to lay him down right at 1 pm for every nap, but we do need be home within a half hour or so of that nap window.

As someone with an autoimmune disease, I'm very thankful that my son takes a nap and that we can give that excuse to leave a party or a luncheon or whatever.  Because truth is, I need that nap. A party or a luncheon or whatever, really zaps my energy. While I think about napping every day of the work week (A (work) day in the life of RA), I actually take that nap on weekends (most times). And I have the perfect excuse, my toddler son!  I don't have to feel like the lame sicko that I know, and anyone close to me, knows I am.

There's usually no timer on my weekend naps, as Bobby will watch Jack if I nap longer than Jack, but I do find than more than a hour leaves me more tired and groggy than I originally was.  Also, if I am doing more than one thing on a Saturday, like 2 birthday parties, and I don't really get a chance to nap, I've found a little green tea around 3 pm can restore some of that energy.  But a nap is my preferred energy refresher on the weekends. And might as well, after all, it's the weekend!

Here's a typical Saturday for me:

8:00 AM: Jack is up. Jack may have woken up at 7:15 am, but he likes to lay in bed for a half hour if he can. Guess he got that from me. Bobby's been up since 7:00 am because week day schedules die hard. I'm debating whether or not to get up.  My fingers hurt slightly, so I decide to go back to sleep.

8:30 AM:  I can't really fall back asleep, so I get up.  Jack's watching a cartoon, and I get to sit next to him on the couch. Bobby and I talk about going to breakfast, but I know we won't go to our most favorite breakfast place.  It's right next to a bookstore that has a train set, which means one of us will be with Jack at the bookstore (because Jack has to play with that train set) while the other parent is scarfing breakfast at the restaurant. I also have to remind Bobby that I have to wait a half hour to eat (part of the requirements for my first pill of the day).

9:00 AM:  We end up eating breakfast at home. Sometimes I remember to take my vitamins; sometimes I don't.  It's the weekend! (I know, I know: your body doesn't care what day of the week it is).

10:30 AM: We make it out the door to go to our weekend activity: party, science museum, lunch, play date, etc. I really don't know where the 1-2 hours go in between breakfast and leaving the house. I think we have a tiny weeny black hole in our house.  Anyway, we usually have a good time at said weekend activity.

1:30 PM: I tell Bobby I'm going to work on my writing or tasks, like laundry, but then I usually go lay down for a nap.  I swear up and down my nap will only be an hour. Bobby ask if he should wake me.  Sure, I say.

3:30 PM: Bobby tries to wake me; I brush him off with some good grunts.

4:00 PM: I hear that Jack is up. Keep napping.

4:30 PM: Ok, ok, I'm up.  Blah, I napped too long.  I just want to watch movies and order pizza for dinner.

6:00 PM: We order pizza.  Or we have a dinner engagement to go to, so I force myself to go out.  Or on a really good day, I feel up for a restaurant that has an outdoor play area (like Chandler Mall-- their outdoor square has really cool lawn games).  I really enjoy the chance to play with Jack at the outdoor play area or watching Cars with him on the couch (for the 100th time; thank goodness Cars is a really good movie and makes me laugh every time we watch it).

8:30 PM: Jack goes to bed.  I think about joining him.

10:30 PM: Woo hoo!  I stayed up, go me, I'm not completely lame! And, Bobby and I finally finished watching recorded TiVo episodes of Downtown Abbey (yeah, we have some old stuff on the TiVo that we never really get around to watch). Time for bed- do I wash my face or not?  Screw it, I'm tired.  Take my night time pills. Then, it's lights out. Night, night!

Seriously, can it get any better than that?  I love my weekends.  I'm well rested and so happy on the weekends.  I've never related more to an orange cat than when Mondays roll around. I have to say good-bye to all that happiness and all that fantastic napping.  It sharks. So, I wish you a happy weekend and wonderful (weekend) naps!  I'm off to nap...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

3/8/17- Reading List 2: STEM Picture Books

Last week I suggested a science activity, Galaxy Slime, as a spring break activity, and this week I'm suggesting books for spring break. Almost a year ago (eek, that's too long!) I created a reading list, recommending books for girls (and boys), ages preteen to teen, to get them interested in STEM. That list is here: Reading List.  It was based off of what I read at that age and how those books influenced in some way my career path to engineering. Today, there are many Middle Grade and Young Adult (preteen to teen) books that have STEM in them (for example "Hidden Figures For Young Readers") that were not included in my recommendations.  Again, my recommendations were based off of my own experience.

I've created a second reading list, this time focusing on preschoolers to about 2nd graders.  The books I remember loving at this age were Berenstain Bears series, Clifford the Big Red Dog series, Curious George series, Madeline series, Frances series (i.e. A Bargain for Frances), and Imogene's Antlers. With the exception of Curious George, I really liked books that had girls as main characters. Probably because I could myself reflected in those female characters.  Some of those girls were spunky: Imogene, Madeline, Sister Bear (at least when she was fighting with Brother Bear) and Frances.  And Curious George? While he encouraged curiosity in me (and spunk; that might have been a theme for me).

With that all said, the books I'm recommending for this second reading list (to encourage preschoolers to 2nd graders in STEM) are more current picture book. Of course, feel free to read the classics mentioned in the paragraph above, but these recent books are specifically focused on STEM. It's a short list-- I envision I'll have many more lists as my son grows and as other parents, teachers, grandparents and friends make recommendations to me.

Here we go:

1) "Rosie Revere, Engineer" by Andrea Beaty and Illustrated by David Roberts
This book is my favorite STEM book for pre-K to 2nd! I dream of writing such book.  The author (and illustrator) have 2 companion books, "Iggy Peck, Architect" and "Ada Twist, Scientist", but to me this is the best one of the series (probably because she's spunky and an engineer).

2) "What Do You Do with an Idea?" By Kobi Yamada and Illustrated by Mae Besom
Kobi also has another book "What Do You Do with a Problem?" but I prefer this book. One of my nephew's wants to be an inventor, and I just had to give him this book.

3) Usborne's "Look inside How Computers Work" Written by Alex Frith and Rosie Dickins and Illustrated by Colin King
Usborne has a lot of good science, technology, computer, engineering type books, but this book is the one we own. Jack loves lifting the flaps at age 2 (I think he'll appreciate the information soon enough).

4) "The Most Magnificent Thing" by Ashley Spires
Also great for budding inventors.

5) "Chicken in Space" by Adam Lehrhaupt
Found this book pretty funny, and (to me) shows where imagination meets science.

6) Sweet Dreams Sarah: From Slavery to Inventor by  Vivian Kirkfield and Illustrated by Chris Ewald
The story of Sarah B. Goode, one of the first African-American women to get a US patent. It's on Jack's to read list!

7) "Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering" by Ruth Spiro and Illustrated by Irene Chan
Fun book to introduce planes and flight to preschoolers (and babies).

And finally, *shameless self-promotion alert* I recommend "Annie Aardvark, Mathematician."  What recommendations would you make? Leave a comment here or on social media. I'd love to discover more STEM books for children.  Happy spring break! Happy reading!

(I'll have to work on a list for 3rd-6th graders next. There's some overlap from the preteen recommendations, but I'll get on it. In about year. ;-)).

Thursday, March 2, 2017

3/2/17- Spring Break STEM Activity

Spring break is right around the corner for many kids!  Not Jack, as he is in daycare/preschool (which doesn't close for spring break), and he basically just took a week off for a cold. So to preschool for him, and to work for Bobby and me. We'll take him on vacation in late summer/early fall, so don't feel too bad that he doesn't get spring break.

Since spring break is right around the corner, I thought now would be a good time to share another STEM activity.  The activity won't entertain your kids for a whole week (or maybe it could if they end up really liking it), but it is pretty fun.  The professional engineering society that I belong to did the activity at Chase Field's STEM Night, and then we recently did it at E-Day at the AZ Science Center. Not sure if the engineers or kids had more fun.

Without further ado, Galaxy Slime! The slime is so popular right now, check out the MSN video "Slime Fad is Back." I like to think our engineering society started the trend, but most likely we did not.

Supplies Needed:
1 cup Elmer's Glue (white or clear work)
1 cup Liquid Starch (we used the Walmart brand, Stay-Flo)
Food Coloring (optional)
Glitter (optional)
Plastic Bag (optional)

1) Put the glue into the bowl first.
2) Stir in food coloring and glitter, if desired.
3) Slowly stir in the liquid starch in increments.  You probably won't use the full cup of liquid starch.
4) Stir until you don't see the "white" liquid starch.  Then switch to kneading the slime with your hands, checking how stretchy the slime is.  If you want it stretchy vs.gak, again you probably won't use the full cup of liquid starch.
5) After your child is done playing with their slime, they can save it in a plastic bag (or Tupperware).

Jack's galaxy slime has lasted for a week after he made it at E-Day.  He liked mixing the colors and glitter in the glue, but he lost interest in the final product.  I do think this activity is fun to do with toddlers (who are past the put everything in their mouth stage), just remember toddlers are going to need more help with the food coloring than a 10 year old is (Jack squeezed like 100 drops in because I thought he could do it himself, haha).

It is great for ages 2-99. Thought I'd take the Lego approach there; after 99, you just won't find this activity or Legos fun. Oh, and it's called Galaxy Slime, because if you add color and glitter, it looks like a Galaxy!  Also, the glue and starch combine to make a polymer! Happy (STEM) Spring Break!