Thursday, September 29, 2016

9/29/16- The DIY Bracelet

What weird week-- I had a cold, a follow female engineer on my project retired (by choice; I'm sad to see her go but also really happy for her), spent 1-on-1 time with Jack before school today (which was fun and thus hard to focus on engineering and writing later), found out I'll be a speaker at a conference in February (yay, I'm excited!), and Bobby and I made bracelets.  Yup, you read that right, we made jewelry. And it was lot of fun.

Both Bobby and I enjoy DIY (Do It Yourself, for those who may forget or have not seen that acronym before).  Maybe it's the engineer in us, or maybe we need better hobbies, but we like DIY. My DIY preference is on the craft side, and his is on the home improvement side.  I dream of making really awesome crafts-- sometimes I make pretty stuff, and sometimes it's not so pretty.

So I was really excited when I came across Brit + Co, a site that sells DIY kits and the promise that your DIY projects will come out pretty.  And before I go on to rave about the bracelet kit I bought, I want to make it clear Brit + Co didn't pay me to talk about them or that they gave me a free kit to try (although seriously, I would love a free kit). I stumbled across their website when shopping for a friend's birthday gift. I wanted to get my friend a cat shirt; their website had one that said "purr-rito" with a cat wrapped in a tortilla (because you really needed to know that).

It's taken me 6 months to purchase one of their DIY kits.  I kept saying I didn't have the time or that the kits were too expensive.  Then Brit + Co had a 50% off sale, so I finally purchased a kit. I chose the make your own wire bracelet kit. I thought it looked easy enough for my first kit, and I love bracelets.  I knew the kit/bracelet was something I'd used.  It came in this cool box that you get to color (they send you markers!).  Jack was also really into the box and helped Bobby and I color it:

Opening the box I found almost everything I needed to make a wire bracelet: pliers/wire cutters, brass wires, a bracelet bending tool, and instructions. They suggested a ruler too, which did not come in the box, so you'd have to provide your own (I had one of course).  You can kind of eyeball where you need to make bends and cuts, but for the precise, you can use a ruler.  It came with instructions that had pictures, and you can also find additional instructions/information on the Brit + Co website. They give instructions for 3 different type of wire bracelets: zig-zag, crescent, and letters/words (so it spells out hey or such).

I got to work on the zig-zag design after dinner (of this Tuesday).  It took me about 15 minutes to complete (with an assist from Bobby). I had planned to cut the zig-zag bracelet to fit my wrist, but Jack got super interested in what I was making and took the bracelet and pliers from me before I made the cut.  I took back the pliers and let him play with bracelet.  The next night I made the crescent shape bracelet, and Bobby made a letters one.

This time it was after Jack went to bed, so I got to cut my bracelets and fit them to my wrist.  It was a fun activity to do together as a couple, and we've talked about purchasing another kit for the future date nights in (can't go out? date nights in are a close substitute; I'll list some ideas for you in another blog).   We've made 4 out of the 6 bracelets that the kit has and plan to finish the other 2 sometime later this week, maybe with a bottle of wine.  Should be a good time. :-)

We both also realized how much fun Jack had pretending to make the zig-zag bracelet (when he was playing with the bracelet on Tuesday, he tried to twist it like he had seen mommy do). Bobby and I talked about making pipe cleaner and plastic bead bracelets with him in the next week or so. Piper cleaners are easy to twist and string beads on, so there'd be many variations for him to create a unique piece of jewelry.  I am really excited to be able to craft, build, and DIY together as a family.  Being able to DIY together warms my heart-- we're a DIY loving family, what can I say?

Leave me a comment on your favorite hobby, individually or with family and friends!   And check out the final product below. No "Pinterest Fail" this time, haha!  Happy DIY, or what floats your hobby boat, to all!

Link to Brit + Co DIY Kits

Thursday, September 22, 2016

9/20/16- Failing

It was fall 2001, and the weather starting to cool down in Phoenix.  So it was 95 degrees for the high versus 110 degrees (I realize I like to talk a lot about how hot it is here, ha).  I was in my sophomore year at Arizona State University, studying electrical engineering.  I had just received a letter from ASU.  Not unusual to get mail from the school you attend, but this piece of mail was different.  It had "open now" or "urgent" marked on it. As I anxiously opened it up, my stomach sank to my feet.  I was failing Physics III.

I had received my first ever midterm warning.  All through high school, I had never received a midterm warning. In fact, I was a straight A student.  But studying electrical engineering at college was stressing my GPA. Freshmen year I ended up receiving 2 B's and 2 A's, averaging a 3.5 GPA.  I reluctantly accepted that I wasn't an A student anymore over the first summer break.  I continued on to sophomore year a little disappointed, but a 3.5 was acceptable.  I wasn't defeated.  I was determined to continue on.

I felt immense shame reading this midterm warning letter.  I had never failed at a class before.  I had gotten B's in Physics I and II, and even aced Physics in high school.  I should not be failing, I remember thinking.  I also recall thinking that my parents are going to be so disappointed in me. Looking back right now, I can't even tell you why I was failing.  But I was, and it made me doubt myself.  I thought, maybe engineering isn't for me.

I had dinner, or maybe it was lunch, later in the week with my parents.  I was dreading this meal with them because I knew I had to tell them that I'm failing. Sure, I could have withheld the information, but I knew deep down they'd find out eventually.  They were paying my tuition, so my line of thought was they'd put it together from the tuition bills or something like that.  Them finding out on their own was probably a small risk, but not one I wanted to take.  Better to tell them I thought. I don't remember how I told them, if it was a gradual build (I've done well so far, I'm studying hard, but also working, etc.) or if it was blunt (blurted out, I'm failing a class!).

To my surprise, my dad, also an electrical engineer, responded that it was okay.  He also came close to failing some classes and ended up as a C student in his undergraduate program (he did better in his graduate program, to note).  I was a little shocked to learn that my dad, someone who I consider very smart and successful in engineering, had been a C student in college.  It almost immediately changed my perspective on grades and on what it meant to be an engineer.  I didn't have to be a perfect A student to be an engineer.

I worked hard, and by the end of the semester, I got a C in Physics III.  If I remember my other grades correctly from that semester, I got a 2 A's and B.  By time graduation rolled around, I had 3.1 GPA. Not too shabby for someone in danger of failing a class and potentially being put on academic probation.  My husband has his own wonderful (yes wonderful) failure story as well.

Hi College Me! Keep it up!

He failed Calc I (or maybe it was Calc II) TWO times and was on academic probation.  His academic adviser even "advised" him that engineering is not for you and that he should switch majors.  He was on the verge of changing majors until his brother said, come on dude, don't give up (I'm paraphrasing).  He passed Calc I the third time.  He told me it finally "just clicked" the third time around (3rd times a charm :-)). He's now a successful (in my biased opinion) manager after many years of being a mechanical engineer.

The reason I'm sharing my story, my dad's story, and my hubby's story, is I want you to know that we weren't perfect engineering students. That we struggled and failed.  If you meet us today, you might think to yourself, Suzie, her hubby and her dad are doing so well at work and engineering comes easy for them.  Engineering was (and at times still is for me) a struggle for us.  I know other engineers that struggled as well and whose stories could fill another post.

I want you to know that if you are struggling, you're not alone.  If there is even a tiny little bit of desire in you, don't let some bad grade, some adviser, some bad performance review, some manager, and so on STOP you. One of my favorite lines from Galaxy Quest is, "Never give up, never surrender,"  and it is very applicable to our stories of failure.  We failed, but we never gave up, never surrendered.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

9/14/16- Jack Turns 2!

Jack turned 2 the past week, and I only freaked out a little bit.  By freaked out, I mean I balled my eyes. I cried most of August 28th.  August 28 was when his preschool/daycare moved him up to the next class. It was a few days before his actual birthday. And seeing him the next level up really hit me hard.  It hit the hubby hard too.  I was very melancholy and sad that whole week.  Bobby called it a week of nostalgic reflection (that sounds so much better than sad).

I was nostalgically reflecting that week because my baby is no longer a baby.  Of course metaphorically speaking he always be my baby, but physically, he no longer looks like a baby or acts like a baby. Seeing him in room full of toddlers was so shocking.  I think 2 has hit me harder than 1 did. At 1, he still looked like a baby and had baby needs.  Sure I was reflecting at 1 as well, but my excitement trumped any melancholy. With 2, there was mostly just nostalgic reflection.

Also here's a tip for you. When performing nostalgic reflection about how your baby is not a baby anymore (or any other type of nostalgic reflections), do NOT watch TV shows that have sentimental values (it was The O.C for me). Or listen to "Landslide."  Or read "I Love You Forever."  I have a love/hate relationship with that shark book.

With work (which I also have a love/hate relationship with), Jack's party (no crying this year from birthday boy, so success!), and the nostalgic reflection, I did not blog (blog is a verb now, right? Just like google?).  I had also planned to make this awesome slide show that had a picture of each month Jack's been a live, depicting the change from baby to kid. And it was going to either be set to Stevie Nick's "Landslide" (see nostalgic reflection don'ts above) or Jack's favorite song "Skidamarink."

So that awesome slide show did not get made. We'll just have to settle for a newborn pic, 1 year old pic, and 2 year old pic. Settling is always good. Homer taught it to Bart, and I'll teach it to Jack (sorry had to make Simpsons reference/joke). (And I apologize for all the parentheses in this post.  I think I'm still nostalgically reflecting.)

Just born!

1st birthday

2nd birthday

Leave a note in the comments or Facebook about any nostalgic reflection you do, including shows, books, songs, movie that help you in your reflection.  "See" ya next week!