Tuesday, July 12, 2016

On Accelerating a Child

My kid just barely missed the cut-off to start kindergarten last year.  She has been attending a Montessori daycare and by all accounts, she is rather advanced, academically.

Knowing all that, I struggled with the idea of pursing advancing her a grade.  I read, I researched, I tried hard to take my motherly "my child is special" out of the equation.  More than anything I want what is right for her, whatever that is.

So when we went to Kindergarten round-up at her school for next year, I spoke with the councilor, attending 2 follow-up meetings in which we decided to test Z and see.

The first test was yesterday.  They give you like ZERO information.  So we didn't know how to prepare the kid.  Not academically, but just what to expect.  Worksheets?  Scantron?  Verbal?  At the kindergarten level, what can you possibly imagine?  It was so frustrating.  Then we go to drop her off and there isn't even a waiting room.  They wanted us to leave and they'd call us when it is over.  Again, that is the kind of thing it is nice to know ahead of time to mentally prepare the kid for.  INFORMATION, PEOPLE.

If she passed this test (language) with an 80, then she'd go back for a math test and do it all again.  If she passed that test with an 80, she'd go to 1st grade.  Otherwise, kindergarten.  With all the lack of knowing, I really beat myself up yesterday wondering if I was traumitizing her just by testing her.  Hoping I hadn't made a mistake.  Am I pushing too hard?

After all that, she came out and said it was totally easy, no big deal (except for how long it was - it took her 2.5 hours and she keeps saying it was FIFTY PAGES), etc.  I was in awe of how simple it was to her, and wishing I could get some of that back!

Then yesterday afternoon I get an email that she got a 66.  My stomach fell and I was just so disappointed.  And I reallytrying to examine why I felt this.  Do I have something attached to her skipping?  Because she won't care.  But I had that feeling in my gut like I did back when I was in school and got a bad grade.  But I am not disappointed in her.  I just want whatever is best.  But I am surprised.  I really thought... I mean that is why we went through all this.  I don't know what to think or feel.

Then, THEN they RECALLED THE EMAIL.  Wtf, y'all!!!????  Did they recall it because of a scoring error?  Or just some other procedural bullshit?  ARG.

It is ok either way.  I know it is ok either way.  There are challenges and benefits either way.  Ultimately we have very little control over this process or its outcome and I need to let it go.  It is ok.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Late Goal Update

This is late because I was only just getting back from vacation on the 1st!

1. Work: make at least one presentation. DONE.

2. Work: write an article.  Working on it.
3. Work: leave the old job as best as I can and rock the new one.  Old job departure is this week!
4. Workout: Train for something in a focused way.  No, I'm even farther from the wagon with all the traveling I've been doing.
5. Workout: Get at least one not-in-Texas race.  Florida totally didn't happen.  This may not happen this year.
6. Workout: Do a triathlon. I am still scheduled for the Tri Aggieland next weekend BUT I got very very (very very) sick on July 4th.  I lost 11 pounds in just a few days and I am still feeling very weak and run down.  I will see how I improve this week but there is a possibility that I will DNS this.  If it were a 5K it would be one thing, but a full sprint tri in Texas heat on almost no training and a week after a serious illness.... it may not be the greatest idea.
7. Workout: Get my butt back in the pool regularly.  Not this month, and given that I think I'll lose my pool membership when I leave the job, probably not this year.
8. Workout: Go climbing. Not yet.  Maybe this is something I could look at after the new job starts.
9.  Life: Lose 20 pounds.  Weight on January 2 it was 152.6.  Weight on June 1 was 147.2.  Full disclosure: weight on the first day back from vacation was 152.6.  I was upset but not surprised.  However I hit 142 during the sickness and weight this morning was 145.  It may be possible that I can try to come back from this illness at a lower weight.  I will try.
10. Life: Focus on conscientious spending.  Red.  But this was a known issue with the trip.  This month will be red too, given that I will not be working for half of it.  But August everything should change for the better.
11. Life: Improve the garden. Not this month, being gone.  We have been getting a TON of peppers, though, including bell peppers which I'm really excited about!  The lettuce and spinach have unfortunately burned up, but I'll look at a fall planting.  It looks like the carrots and beets are about ready - need to do another planting of that too.
12. Life: Go camping.  YES!  Stephen F Austin SP in March, Martin Dies Jr SP in April, Choke Canyon SP in May.  We didn't camp on our vacation but we did do several hikes including Bluebonnet Nature Center in Baton Rouge, and Orlando Wetlands Park and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.
13. Life: Read or listen to at least 2 books per month.  Only one official due to travel.  Lots of dirty secrets.
14. Life: Have an epic Disney vacation.  YES!!  EPIC!!!
15. Life: Make stained glass things. Not yet.
16. Life: Take fabulous pictures with the awesome new camera.  Yes!  Got more great shots on vacation ranging from (lots of) birds to alligators to sunsets to beach landscapes.  I am really pleased with a good number of the shots I got and I continue to feel like I'm growing!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Fitbit Grumble Grumble

Remember how I said Fitbit is shorting the heck out of my weekend walks? Not like a few steps here and there but like a mile? I offer proof:

Fitbit pre-walk:

iPhone pre-walk:

Runkeeper post-walk:

iPhone post-walk:

And Fitbit post-walk:

2000 steps and almost a mile short, measured against another step teacker AND gps. Boo!!!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Idea Nugget

I had an idea this morning.  (Rare, I know!)

I was all filled with "back on the wagon!" thoughts at the end of May, centered on June, but then I've been filled with a lack of motivation now that June is actually here.  I'm feeling a strong motivation to take photographs.  Just not to exercise, heh.  I think some of it is just that I have some very disruptive things coming up this month and the beginning of next month, so it is hard to get excited about 2 weeks when I know what follows.

But, BUT, I've finally gotten an official start date for new-work, which is August 1.  I love that.  Nice round number, nice beginning of the month.  And I was doing P90X3 this morning and I thought, there it is.  I want to do a P90X3 actual 90 day program, beginning August 1.  This is perfect.  It is only 30 minutes per day.  It is after all my scheduled races, but I also know that it keeps me in good enough shape to go run a 5K if I want to.  It coincides with the new job, so I would be establishing a good habit with my new routine.  Starting in August allows me to finish before the holidays, which always mess stuff up.

I like this idea.  I need to flesh it out more... I am thinking right now that I'll do it free form like I did at the beginning of the year - whatever makes me happy as long as I do one routine per day... but I like this idea.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Goal Update

1. Work: make at least one presentation. DONE.
2. Work: write an article.  Working on it.
3. Work: **another midstream change** Leave the old job as best as I can and rock the new one.
4. Workout: Train for something in a focused way.  No, I've fallen off the wagon this month.  I haven't turned into a total sloth, but I've definitely been wandering around directionless.
5. Workout: Get at least one not-in-Texas race.  Not yet.  Looking at you, Florida.  In June.  Hot.
6. Workout: Do a triathlon. I am still scheduled for the Tri Aggieland in July.  I will plan on being better prepared for that!
7. Workout: Get my butt back in the pool regularly.  Not this month.
8. Workout: Go climbing. Not yet.
9.  Life: Lose 20 pounds.  Weight on January 2 it was 152.6.  Weight on May 1 was 148.4.  Weight this morning was 147.2.  I did have a week this month in the 146's (before my conference, sigh), so pleased with the downward trend.  Next month I have vacation AND conferencing, so it will be tough.  I need to try to make smart choices but I also want to enjoy myself and give myself a little pass.  
10. Life: Focus on conscientious spending.  Red.  Ugh.  Water heater went out and apparently my child's teeth are a freaking hole-riddled mess.  On the plus side, the mortgage companies managed to track down the lost payment (that had cleared, punks).  And in August I'll be starting a job that should make green MUCH more achievable.  
11. Life: Improve the garden. Everything is growing nicely but nothing new happened due to all the rain.
12. Life: Go camping.  YES!  Stephen F Austin SP in March, Martin Dies Jr SP in April.  Brazos Bend got cancelled due to the Tax Day Flooding, so we went to Choke Canyon SP in May and it was lovely!
13. Life: Read or listen to at least 2 books per month.  Hit it right on the nose with only 2 official books this month.  The dirty little secret level is pretty epic, though.  I need to find a better way to track those.
14. Life: Have an epic Disney vacation.  Not yet, but it is paid for now!
15. Life: Make stained glass things. Not yet.
16. Life: Take fabulous pictures with the awesome new camera.  Yes!  Got more great shots in Choke Canyon with a rented 200-500 and a rented 105 macro lens.  Lens rental is COOL!!  Also got a few neat shots around the neighborhood and in Austin.  I've been shooting weekly at the very least and I feel like I'm growing, which is all a girl can ask for.

Friday, May 27, 2016

New Job

I wrote this post the other day, but didn't post it.  It was sort of a need to get it out kind of moment.

But the update is: they offered me the job and I accepted.  And I cried when I told my boss today.  And I am terrified.  But this is a big step (back) up the career ladder.  I don't believe it is all rainbows and unicorns over there - it is probably roses, you know, with thorns.  The trick will be figuring out how to leave work at work.  They want change - so the other trick will be going in cold and making shit happen.  I am terrified, but I'm also.... excited.  This is exciting.

The original post from 5/19:

"And what do you fear most?"
"Making the wrong choice."
"Then make the choice that scares you the most."
--Kristen Callihan, The Friend Zone

I don't even know if I have a decision to make yet, but in true me fashion, I'm crazy stressed on the POTENTIAL decision I might have to make.

No one at work knows this yet (Grasshopper, we have shared contacts - no one knows yet) but I've been interviewing for a new job.  I wasn't looking.  I wasn't even close to looking.  I'm the kind of girl who lands and sticks.  That's what I do.  I've only ever worked for 2 companies in my career, and for both I've arrived with every intention of being a lifer.

For the last one everything changed when they hired evil incarnate for my direct boss.  2 years and 60% of her subordinates quitting later, and she was fired last week.  But too late for me.  On Facebook I called it a "karmic correction", but I'd be lying if I didn't say that it opened a wound that I thought was healing well.  And made me question EVERYTHING.  What if I could have held out??  I can't change it.  The new job has been good to me.  I love it here.  But the what ifs will always be there.

The new job has been so good to me that I wasn't looking for anything else.  But in April at my annual conference, I was approached by a colleague who told me about this job and said I'd "strengthen the applicant pool".  I was intrigued, I won't lie, and my friends, when I looked at the salary... I just had to apply.  I had to.  We don't make much money in my field and I can't look at a potential increase like that without applying.  I just can't.  And one thing has led to another and I interviewed Tuesday and got called yesterday for my second interview TODAY.  They move FAST.  But I also know that I was one of four selected to interview, so who knows.

It is a nice feeling to not really care if I get the nod or not... if I don't, I won't have a decision to make and I'll continue on in this stress-free job in this beautiful environment.  And everything will be fine.

But what if they do offer it to me?  I hate, HATE to leave this new job so soon.  It has only been 15 months.  That is a sucky thing to do by any stretch of the imagination.  On the other hand, they knew they were lowballing me in salary when they made me the offer.  They had to know that this was a potential outcome.  On the other hand, I didn't care about the low offer when I took it, and I do think I'm seen as an heir apparent, and I feel like there is a level of trust there that I'd be breaking.  But it is SO MUCH MORE.  I just don't see how I'd be able to turn it down if I got the offer... but accepting it TERRIFIES me.  That first job... it made me question everything.  I misread the Wicked Witch in every way.  So I'm having trouble trusting my impressions.  Money is important but it isn't everything and I don't want to jump from a lovely stress-free situation into a pot of boiling water.  But how would I know if it was boiling water??

I feel like the lack of stress here has been so good for me, mentally.  I feel like it has enabled my push towards exercising and eating right and even creativity like photography.  Will I lose those things if I make a move?  Can I make a move and set myself up for continued success??

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Photographs and Instagram

I've been totally stunned about this, but I've had two of my photos on Instagram get featured by other accounts with larger followings, and they've been well received!  The first one was one of my mushroom shots from Martin Dies Jr State Park, which Texas Parks and Wildlife picked up: https://www.instagram.com/p/BEo-jhjGthQ/?taken-by=texasparkswildlife. And the other just happened yesterday evening, Big Bend picked up my Milky Way shot: https://www.instagram.com/p/BFQBZGBg3Qc/?taken-by=bigbendnps!  There is just this feeling - like someone on the other end saw this photo I took and thought it was a good one of their park... it is a great feeling.  And then they post it and like a thousand people who follow them also think it is a good photo... wow.

I had this large-gesticulating conversation with P about photography yesterday on our way home from work.  We are both really looking forward to this weekend because we are renting a few lenses to try out and going on another little trip to another state park.  I have all these ideas for what I'm hoping to get, but I'm also excited to see what I can see with these lenses.

P made the comment that I am shooting fewer shots than I used to.  And I think he is right.  I have A LOT more confidence that I am capturing what I am trying to get now than I did even a month ago.  I also have a lot more confidence in my ability to edit afterwards that makes me more accepting of the original shot.  It is just such a different feel for me now.  This confidence.

Also I've found myself going out for the past two weekends and just shooting what I can find.  One weekend I got 3 macro flower shots that I am freaking thrilled with, and several of the Z.  Last weekend I got one of Spot, one macro, and one of Z/Grimmy that I'm absolutely in love with.  The Z/G pic was almost an accident.  I was laying in the driveway shooting Spot and the windows on the house were open because it was a lovely morning, and I look up and find Z/G sitting there watching me.  I think I only took 2 shots, one with the screen in focus and one with them in focus.  But something about it... it looks soft, dreamy with the screen in front of them, muted colors.  But something else triggers something in me - my childhood, watching out windows and doors, my screen window in my room in my childhood home, in my room at my grandmother's, the screen door at my great-grandma's in Oklahoma.  It is something nostalgic and timeless and it just pulls on my heart.  Add to that that cat is her best friend, and it is this moment in time.  I'm just in love with it.  And it was an accident and not posed or anything and I GOT THE SHOT.  I don't know that that would have been the case a few months ago.  I'm not sure I'd have seen it, I'm not sure I'd have had the camera out, I'm not sure I'd have had the ability to get the shot. I am just so pleased.  I am finding so much pride and pure joy in this hobby.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Dear Zoë

Dear Zoë,

It has been a long time since I've written you a letter on here.  I think a lot of that is because I settled into the routine of being your mom.  Also because you became a kid.  A whole thinking talking imagining kid, and developments seemed less stark individually in the light of your whole self.

But now, now, kid, you are about to start "real" school.  Not for 3 more months, don't panic!  But we did Kindergarten round-up this week and it is getting real.  I got that feeling, filling out the MOUNTAINS of paperwork, the feeling I got in the hospital when I was 8 months pregnant and signing my admission paperwork (so I didn't have to while I was laboring) and I flipped out because I signed a form authorizing them to treat you.  You, this human I hadn't even met yet!  I signed as Parent for the first time and then I sat there and cried, because that made it real for me.  Real in the same way that Kindergarten round-up was real.

A lot of moms seem to kind of freak out on sending their kids to Kindergarten.  I'm not actually sure why.  Maybe I'm immune to it since you've been in "school" since you were 6 months old?  But that can't be it since one of the other moms was totally crying at school the other day about her kiddo starting K.  I think it is just me - this is the next logical step for you.  You are ready.  I welcome this next step.   Don't get me wrong.  I'm going to miss your wonderful teacher and extended care and summer care and not having to worry about when I schedule things because I can have you whenever I want.  But the same way when I was 39 weeks pregnant and I was ready for you to GET OUT OF MY BELLEH, I am ready for you to start school.  It is time!

So where am I going with this?

Well... you're really advanced.  Like, literate.  You can read.  You've been able to read for a while, but lately it is very very clear to me that you can READ.  Like slap a book in front of you that you've never seen read.  And one day last October we asked your Gaga's little neighbor who is in K this year at the same school you'll be going to what he learned that day and he said he learned his letter C, and kid, I'm not sure K is the right place for you.

So when we went to Kindergarten round-up, I chatted with the Counselor about starting you in 1st grade instead, and she said you have to take a test.  I went back a few days later to sign you up and I spoke with her some more, and lo and behold I found MY freak out.  I'm not scared of you starting school.  I'm scared of this test.  Not because I don't think you'll pass.   I want what is best for you - I want you to be appropriately placed, whether K or 1st grade, no worries!  I'm freaking out because I cannot picture taking you up to a room full of strangers and sending you inside to take a test.  And what will the test be like?  Surely they won't sit you down with some sort of booklet and expect you to work through it like every standardized test I've ever taken, right??  I mean.... you're trying to test out of Kindergarten, for heaven's sake!  But then what if it is verbal?  You are so shy sometimes and I'm afraid that you won't answer or show your true abilities.  Gah!  I don't know what to prepare you for, what to picture, and I'm freaking out on it!

Then, this morning, I had a parent-teacher conference with your current teacher, and sweetheart, I am so proud of you.  She said that she literally had discovered new work in her classroom that she didn't even know she had because you and your best friend together are the most advanced students she has ever had.  She said she isn't worried about you taking the test academically at all.  She said you can read.  You are working with numbers up to 9999, adding and subtracting in the thousands.  She has started talking about MULTIPLICATION with you for goodness sake.  I didn't do multiplication til I was 8!  She said she will work on reading comprehension, which is first grade work, a little more with you before the test in case my fears are founded and it is the hand-you-the-booklet type.  And she will talk about new situations to try to help you with the shy.  And she cried and said she is going to miss you so much.  That is such an amazing thing, Zoë.  To have an adult who has worked with hundreds of kids in her career say that YOU are the outstanding one.  YOU are the one that stretched her as a teacher.  She is so proud of the work YOU have done. 

I do not know how all of this will turn out.  I do not know what grade you'll start in the fall.  But either way we are going to make it work.  Either way I know you're going to excel because you have it in you.  You are smart; you are determined; you are brave; you are kind.  I am looking forward to this next adventure with you.  I am so very proud of you.

Love you duv you coko,