Monday, January 25, 2016

1/25/16- The Future of Cities

This weekend I got the chance to judge at the Arizona Future Cities Competition!  Those unfamiliar with the competition, "Future City is a cross-curricular program that lets students in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades do the things engineers do: identify problems, brainstorm ideas, design solutions, test and retest, build and then share the results."  Basically, these young minds are tasked with designing a city of the future.  Check out these students' vision of the future:

A Future City (photo courtesy of Sy at Stylekemistry)

I always enjoy seeing the creativity and innovative ideas these competitors come up with.  Hearing their solutions to serious, real life problems (like waste management and pollution) pure inspiration that the next generation's "got this."  Talking to these students brings nothing but smiles to my face and optimistic me that has been beaten down by my own C.O.E syndrome (Cranky, Old Engineer) is back.  

I'm so glad I had the opportunity this weekend to talk to the students about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and what I do as an engineer (aka STEM education/outreach) because STEM outreach is the number one thing I love about my career as an engineer. Being a mentor to the next generation is fun and re-energizing for me (and hopefully the kids I talk to find it fun and interesting too).  It reminds me just how cool my job can be; it's easy forget the difference I make as engineer when I'm stuck in the day to day grind and mundane tasks (oh Excel spreadsheets, how boring you can be).  So if you're feeling a little down about your job or feeling stuck in a rut, I highly recommend discussing with children what you do and becoming a mentor (even if it is only for one day at a competition).  

Good luck to the Arizona winners of the Future Cities Competition! I hope you take it all at the national competition in D.C. this February!  

To learn more about Future Cities, click on the link:

Monday, January 18, 2016

1/18/16- The Broken Hand

This past week has been stressful.  My S.O. has a broken hand, which means no heavy lifting for him, which means no picking up the baby (I guess Jack is bordering on toddler town), which means I'm the sole caregiver of Jack right now.

I know there's millions, upon millions, of people out there who are the sole caregiver of children.  But there's been too much for me personally and I'm overwhelmed: taking care of Jack, doing my engineering job thing, trying to write/update the blog this week, chauffeuring the S.O. from one appointment to the next (he's not supposed to drive with the broken hand either; luckily when he went back to work this week, a co-worker offered up carpooling, or else there'd be that to do too), and doing my volunteer job for a non-profit organization.   

And I'm stubborn about the help.  Friends have been great and kind with dropping off food for dinner, and my mom offered to come stay with us to help with Jack.*  However, having more people around, only makes me more stressed out. It also winds Jack up when people are over, throwing off his sleep schedule.  And so I've declined anything more than just food visits.  I don't need a wound up toddler on top of a stressed out mommy.  It's just not good combination.  It's like guac and peanut butter; not good at all.   

So maybe you've guessed it by now, but  I'm so tired.  It's not good for my body and spirit (is it good for any body?).  I've had to work late on the engineering job thingy to make up for the appointments I've run the S.O to.  Then I spend another hour decompressing after working, which means I go to bed way too late. 

I've said it before, but I'll say it again, sleep is so important for me and fighting the R.A.  Adding to the physical fatigue is Jack wanting to be held while we're out (he is refusing the stroller right now and he out grew the baby carrier) and at home (he needs to see what we're doing, like what are cooking, why are we washing dishes, etc; things that toddler parents are probably way too familiar with).  My shoulder muscles, elbow and finger joints are super mad and achy at me right now.  

I'm worried about my S.O. healing and him feeling better soon (he's in some serious pain right now), and my son's feelings over not being held by daddy (seriously, daddy is his favorite and to not be held by the favorite parent, it's heartbreaking to him).  This worry only makes me sleep worse. 

Long story short, the stress and lack of sleep has made me mean, and I've yelled once or twice at the child and the husband, and I'm disappointed in myself (#metoo).  I'm over extended.  I need a break.  I need the S.O. better now to shift some of the caregiver work.  I need to say no more to the volunteer organization.  I need to put myself to bed earlier.  I need a glass of wine.  I know you've all been there.

There is hope. The S.O. is slowly getting better, and in less than a month, I'm going to a conference, where I'll get the me time and time away from my many jobs. So there is hope in not feeling this way forever.  I want you to know that.  These feelings are temporary, and I know my stress levels will go down. Shoot, just writing down these feelings makes me better.  

Plus, after Jack goes to bed tonight, I'm going to do yoga or cycling or watch some ridiculous, cheesy 80s movie.  Good old 80s movies, always there for me.   So how do you deal when life throws you a curve ball?  Hopefully more constructively than watching cheesy 80s movies.  Take care friends.

*A really big THANK YOU to all of our friends and family who have helped during this trying time!   If you need a supportive network, while, you can't have mine.  I'm selfish like that. :P 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

1/10/16- Me Too

Here's my "me too" moment: I yelled, and I mean scream/very loud, at my infant son to stop crying (when he was crying and needing comfort). Frustrated and sleep deprived, followed by a lot of guilt for yelling at him. I'm still very disappointed in myself. #MeToo

Monday, January 4, 2016

1/4/16- Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Friends and Family!  I hope it is off to a good start for you!  I enjoyed 2 weeks off from work, and while I had a blast, it was constant go, go, go from seeing old friends, hanging with family, taking Jack to different holiday activities and parties, and getting some romantic dates in there with the husband (seeing Star Wars episode VIII is romantic, right?).  

It was hard not taking vacation earlier in the year, although there were some sick days in there for that I don't count as vacation (sick is not a vacation, FYI), but saving up for 2 weeks off was worth it! And I still logged in remotely  to check email and do misc tasks (almost every day, excluding the actual holidays, for about an hour), so going back to work today was slightly easier.   I do think Bobby, Jack and I are ready to back into our normal routine and schedule.  Staying up late, by which I mean 9 pm, for holiday activities and parties, seemed rough on Jack.  He'd sleep until 8 am most days (normally up around 7)!  Staying up late was probably harder for me though, haha!

Anyway, I'm way excited for 2016!  I'm hoping for better health (remission for the R.A.), spending time with Bobby and Jack, traveling (we hope to take Jack to Disneyland this year, under 2 is free!), renewing my interest in work and the engineering organization I'm involved with, working on my writing/going to writing workshops/maybe finding an agent!, and just overall hopes that all good things happen this year (I know that is out of my control, but I can hope, right?).  May we all have a good 2016! Cheers!