Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's Hot - a story in five acts

(Yes, we have a cloth swim diaper.  Two, in fact.  Just not used here.  Don't judge.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


In the subtitle of this blog, I mention that I sometimes feel like I have split personalities.  There's the "mom/daughter/family" me.  Then there's the "work/professional/academic" me. 

There's also an OCD/ADHD me in there too, but we're not discussing that in this post!

Sunday my mom watched my wee one for quite a few hours.  I went home and went back to bed and then went and got junk food all by myself (aaaahhhhhhhh!).  I then proceeded to clean rooms of the house that haven't been cleaned in a while, since that was the original purpose of the time alone I had been blessed with.

When cleaning my room, I picked up the very large stack of books next to my bed that were in various stages of being read, and dutifully put them on the bookshelf.

The Mommie books:

The "me" books:

The Leadership/Communication/Academic books:
Developing the Leader Within (I have the older out-of-print version)
Building Community
21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
(Carly Fiorina's autobiography is still next to the bed to be finished.)

That's a pretty good example of why I feel like I have split personalities.  And I imagine with taking masters classes and working on tenure projects, that might just get worse before it gets better.

Monday, June 28, 2010


:) I feel so lucky to have caught this on video.  I saw her standing by herself, so I pulled out the camera.  Then she decided to take off.  She's getting there.

Caitlin's First (real) Steps from mommy v on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer Fun

I've been slacking on the blog posting. We've been out having fun - well as much fun as you can have in stifling heat!

We've been going to a sign language class for babies and toddlers:


And we have been to a library program called Mother Goose On The Loose for 3 and under.  We also signed up for the summer reading program.  And played with toys.

We went to Smokin' on the River, a riverfront BBQ festival, complete with music ...

... and a pig decorating contest.

We have gotten some new teeth ...

... and a busted lip from a fall.

Her first parade at Charlestown's Founder's Day!

Of course we watched World Cup soccer!

And, of course, we are behaving like a true toddler!

As soon as Vimeo and I come to some sort of agreement about working together, I will attempt my first video posting.  Right now I'm a little ... annoyed ... at the damn thing.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

11 words

So one day while procrastinating badly, I came across this little gem on Lifehacker.

To be productive, remember the following: One thing at a time.  Most Important thing first.  Start now.

One thing at a time.
Most important thing first.
Start now.

I wrote it on a post-it note and stuck it to my computer monitor at work.  And I will tell you, it does really help.

I'm only in my office now when I REALLY need to do something.  When I REALLY need to post a document for my online class.  Or I have some other big problem.  Last week when I posted the test, I hadn't entered the start date properly.  I spent all weekend thinking everything was fine until I checked email Sunday night and had a slew of panicked emails from students asking "where's the test?".  So Monday I had to ask Mom to watch my girl while I tried to figure out how to fix it.

I got into my office, and immediately saw the post-it.  I took a deep breath, and started working.

This morning, my little one is at daycare.  Somehow I have less guilt having someone watch her if I am paying them money.  I have all day to complete my to-do list (which is a little open-ended because I'm "working ahead".)  But as I slipped into my chair, I saw my post-it.  Took a deep breath.  And accomplished more before 11 am than I really thought I would.

So I thought I'd share.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Remember this post when I was feeling really unmotivated and sorry for myself?  I tried to plant some bulbs and it didn't go as well as I'd hoped.

Well ...

They bloomed.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

C and C, a story in five acts

My Wee One and my cousin's wee one on our road trip.

Friday, June 18, 2010


In 1991 I applied for colleges.  I still remember sitting on the patio in the sun the summer before my senior year, painstakingly filling out applications.

In 1995 I applied for graduate school.  I had worked in the Department of Pathology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine doing a paid internship the summer before my senior year of college.  I had been invited to meet with the Head of the Graduate Program, who handed me an application and strongly encouraged me to apply.  Even so, driving to Cincinnati for the interview was the most nerve-wracking trip of my life.

In 2001 I defended my Ph.D. dissertation.  I figured I was done with my education.

I have been a faculty member in a State institution for a number of years.  One "perk" is that I can take classes from any state institution for free - I get 6 credit hours of tuition remission per semester.  At my previous institution, noone seemed to take advantage of the opportunity, so I never thought much about it.  Then I moved to a new college, where folks take great advantage.

There are classes I am interested in taking at the local University.  To take them, you need to apply to the graduate program.  I didn't think much of it, until ....

I have been accepted into the MA in Higher Education program at the University of Louisville.

I'm "working on a Master's Degree".  With a one year old.

What the hell am I doing?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Road Trip

Wanna see what 5 adults, 2 children, and all their crap looks like piled in a van for a 14 hour drive?

Oh, did I mention we were traveling with another van that carries a pregnant woman?  Fun times!  (Out of respect I did not photograph her.  If I had I would fear for my life.)

We decided to leave at 4 am.  We rationalized that the children would sleep during the nighttime hours.  Only, getting the Wee One out of bed, changing her diaper, and getting her in the car seat woke her up.
That's my mom taking video of me taking a picture.  Don't ask.

That's the Wee One's WTH look.  She would repeat this many times over the course of four days.

The kids eventually did go back to sleep!

The mountains and scenery were beautiful.

This vacation thing wears me out!

Wee One got new sunglasses (and a whole lot more!) at the outlet mall.

We were there for a surprise party, so finally we got ready for the big fun!

Finally, a good picture of the sunglasses!  OMG, Mommie, will you STOP with the SUNGLASSES!

At the party.

Dancing with Nan.

Waiting for the Guests of Honor.  It was a 25th Wedding Anniversary party.  They didn't know we were coming.  They were so surprised!!!!!  It was awesome!

It was a little warm, so I let my babe run around in her diaper.  We were "the cousins from Kentucky" at the party, so it seemed fitting that we fit the stereotype.

All that stereotyping left us really exhausted!

The trip home was fun.  We left at 8:30 at night so we drove all night while the little ones slept.  I drove quite a bit of the trip home, so the only pics were of her "driving".  She thinks she's big now.

It was a fun trip, but we are glad to be home!!!

Tenure, or Not To Tenure

Tenure is a big deal in academia.

If you've ever experienced the decisions related to tenure, then you realize what an understatement that was.

Tenure is job security.  In the days when faculty and students would go to the university and live there and train there and remain there most or all of their lives, tenure was the guarantee that the university would house you and feed you and let you read in the library until you were dead.  With one university in a given geographical area, and faculty not changing jobs or geographical areas like we do today, tenure was essential for feeding/clothing/housing yourself for the rest of your life.

That was a long time ago.

My personal opinion is that tenure is a throwback to an archaic system of higher education when universities did much more to support the livelihood of their faculty and therefore had much more power over lives.  It has, in more recent history, allowed faculty to feel free to teach topics that might be controversial, or to research topics that conflict with the status quo, and not feel threatened that they may lose their job in their pursuit of the truth.

That all sounds well and good.  These days, I haven't seen any faculty member feel that their job is threatened because they teach about controversial topics (evolution, anyone?).  In fact, I have only seen "tenure" allow incredibly poor, lazy, and sometimes incompetent faculty hang around.

To "get" tenure in most colleges and universities, you work your rear end off incredibly hard for some number of years - usually around six or seven.  At the end of that, a committee of faculty members gets to decide your fate based on a notebook you put together.  To make matters worse,  most colleges and universities (mine included!) have an up-or-out policy.  If those colleagues decide you are not worth of tenure, you will receive a terminal contract - basically you have a year to find another job because you're being fired.

I was hired for my first full-time faculty position in 2003.  The college where I was hired did not hire on tenure-track positions, only on term contracts.  At the time, I thought I would only be there a couple of years to get some experience and then move on to a "real" university for a tenure-track position.  Fortunately, I thrived in the environment and was very successful.  I loved what I was doing, and felt like I was really where I needed to be.  Because I loved what I was doing, I did a great job.  I took on new and varied projects in addition to my teaching.  The college was very small and there was great opportunity to work on committees and teams.  I basically did all the things one does when "going for" tenure.  I had good student evaluations, had excellent feedback on academic advising, chaired committees and worked on projects, impressed my bosses, got things accomplished, and felt great about myself in the process.  I moved up into academic administration and really felt like I was making a difference.

If I was going for tenure, I believe I would have gotten it.  However, that wasn't an option for me at that college.  Even if it was, I didn't care.  I personally don't really believe in tenure.  As I said, I think it just keeps bad faculty in place for way too long.

I changed colleges.  It was the best thing to do for my daugher and I at the time.  The position was also a term contract position - in fact, it was exactly the same as my previous position, only at a different college.  Over the past year I have adjusted to going back to work after the life-changing event of having a daughter.  I am slowly assimilating my "two lives" - one as professor and one as mommie.  I'm starting to get this balance thing as best I can right now.

Then I receive a letter that my position has been identified as tenure-eligible, and I have the one-time opportunity to convert to tenure-track and apply for tenure.

OMG.  So what do I do?

To turn down an opportunity to "go for" tenure is a ridiculous decision to established academics.  Why would I turn down the opportunity to basically never be fired?

However, it will require time and effort that I would rather put toward teaching my students (sometimes) and raising my daughter.

I have gone back and forth in making the decision over the past few days.  I have done the pros and cons list (there is always a "but" that supports the other side!)  I have talked to my family who have always been my biggest supporters.  Here was the deciding factor: my ultimate career goal is to get back into academic leadership and administration.  To lead faculty - or any group - you need credibility.  You need to represent the group, and be able to speak to the experiences of the group you lead.  Having tenure may not help me in leading a group of tenured faculty.  But I can guarantee you that not having tenure may have a huge impact when leading a group of tenured faculty.

It also doesn't hurt that it's guaranteed job security in a job that I really like in the area where I have decided to build my life with my daughter.

So I turned in a piece of paper today that says I have three years to demonstrate that I meet the qualifications of tenure, or I lose my job.

OMG I hope I made the right decision!

(I'll know in three years.)

Monday, June 14, 2010

I survived!

We are home from our big trip.  Others were able to join us, so it was my mom and two of her sisters, my cousin and her daughter, and the Wee One and I.  Yes, that's right.  5 adults and two children traveled in one van and stayed in one hotel room for four days.  And we were all still speaking at the end of it!

My daughter was amazing.  She was so very very good.  She still slept pretty well, despite the fact that four new teeth seem to be appearing all at the same time.  She ate great and suddenly has started speaking.  She has her version of book, ball, duck, dog, Grandpa, and Dora now, in addition to uh-ho, baby, Momma, and Nan.

Oh, and I am Muh-MA, she made sure everyone knew on the trip.

More stories and photos to come.  For now I have to make sure my online class is updated with documents for the coming week and then go to a meeting where I have to decide if I want to chase the tenure dream or remain a contract faculty.

And then finish laundry!

Cloth Diapering 101 - Changing Pads

This aspect of diapering your baby isn't limited to cloth diapers.  All mamas need a good changing pad.  Here are two that I use that are made by cloth diaper manufacturers.  I have one made by Fuzzi Bunz.  It is PUL on the outside for waterproofness and soft fleece on the inside.  It is nice and big, but thin so it can fold flat.

(Fuzzi Bunz pad - fleece side shown)

The other one I have is from Mommy's Touch,  While I'm not a huge fan of their diapers, I love their accessries, like wet bags and this changing pad.  It is also PUL on one saide and soft fleece on the other.  While it has smaller dimensions than the FB pad, it is much thicker (it has an extra layer of cotton sherpa in the center for absorbancy, so if your wee one pees while you're changing them, it won't go everywhere!). 

(Mommy's Touch pad over the Fuzzi Bunz pad to show size comparison)

But what I love most about the Mommie's Touch changing pad is the strap with the snap, so you can roll it up.  That keeps it secure in the diaper bag, but it's fantastic if you have a big mess that gets all over it - keeps it from getting all over everything else in the diaper bag on the way home.

(FB pad folded and MT rolled up and secured with snapping strap)

Cloth changing pads are so much more comfy than those plastic ones that come with diaper bags.  You can throw them in the wash with your cloth diapers, and you're good to go!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I lost my diary, so I poured out crazy thoughts here

If you have a hole inside of you, how do you fill it up? 

Because you can try lots of different kinds of things, but nothing quite fits.

Square peg in a round hole.  It can jam it up, cause you to forget there is a hole there.  But eventually, there are still spaces.

There is still a hole.

(poetry by me)


I am crazy.  I am absolutely certifiably batty.

I am buying another organizer.

Since the last time I aired my dirty laundry on being a crazy organizer addict, I actually bought a new planner.  Nothing is quite right.  It's never quite right.  It's still a hole.  There are still spaces.  So you buy another planner.  It's not quite right either.  And you keep trying one after another after another, and some of them work, but they aren't right.  Not quite right.


I bought this one last fall.  It has the perfect weekly layout (I HAVE to do vertical weeks, I won't even consider going back.  In my next planner, I'll put all my classes in using color codes.  Awesomeness.) and follows the academic year.  But it doesn't have any monthly pages.  The manufacturer does make a different version with months as well as weeks, but not in an academic year format.  And it's the middle of summer and I'm not buying a planner that will be half blank.  (Our college's bookstore sells a similar one.  Which I almost bought.  I knew I wouldn't like it, so I refrained.  Barely.)

I tried to use an electronic organizer.  Good for my portability requirement.  But I found that I really do prefer paper planning.  I'm too visual.  It's difficult for me to see an entire week on that little bitty screen.  Although, the color-coding makes my toes curl.

I prefer binder planners, because there is always information that I want to add.  I usually use Franklin Covey products, so one day while at Target, I bought a new planner.  The whole kit and caboodle (I love that phrase), binder, monthly tabs, weekly pages.  The binder is Navy Blue (second only to Periwinkle as the best color in the world.)  The pages are vertical format.  The planner is small enough to fit in the diaper bag.

So what's the issue, V?

TOO small, the pages are too thin and the ink bleeds through....

I am even annoying myself here, that's how bad it is.

I spent many hours during finals week while giving tests designing my own planner pages.  I have the perfect planner pages in a computer file on my thumb drive.  I just can't figure out how to print them out in the necessary format to the necessary size.  What size do I want to use?  The Compact size is too small.  I have a Classic size binder, which I think I can dig out of a box in my basement.

Back to Covey's website.  There is a discounted refill that has the weekly pages in the appropriate format.  Clean, classy look.  Comes in the Classic size, has monthly tabs.  And is cheaper than the ink I would use to print my own.

I have made myself a deal.  I will let myself buy this one refill set.  Then I will not purchase any more planner stuff for a year.  A year, V, a YEAR.

Or maybe January.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Being Green

One of the reasons that I started researching cloth diapers is that I wanted to do something more ecologically friendly than disposable diapers.  After doing quite a bit of reading, I'm not sure if cloth diapers are truly that much more "green".  While I do use a natural detergent (I didn't always, I started out using Tide), I still use quite a bit of water when washing diapers.  Still, it can't be nearly as much water as is used to turn wood pulp into disposable diapers.  And at least they're not rotting in a landfill somewhere.  (That idea just plagues me, I have to admit).

At first I resisted the idea of being "green", because it seemed too overwhelming.  Then I realized that every little action helps.  Sure, doing all of it, and doing it all consistently, makes the greatest impact.  But shutting off the light switch just once helps.  Doing it twice helps even more.  Developing the habit helps even more than that.  What's the alternative - leave the light on all the time because it's too much effort to conserve energy?

So there are a number of things that I do in my household to try to "be green".  (There are an even greater number of things that I could/should be doing.  It's a process.)  Most of these are the easy ones that lots of people do, so I'm not really patting myself on the back for how innovative I am being.  These are just the things that have been easiest to incorporate into my life.

I recycle quite a bit - and I find myself looking at packaging differently when I buy things.  Most plastic packaging I'm finding can't be recycled in my area.  It's better for me to buy in glass since that can be recycled.

Reusable things - I use reusable grocery bags.  I use tote bags for just about everything.  Whenever I see cheap tote bags on sale I pick up a couple.  I have some plastic grocery bags, but I'm trying not to bring any more of those in my house.

I use reusable sandwich bags I got here.  Okay, I bought one, but I love it and will get more eventually.

Obviously we use reusable diapers, and are using reusable wipes more often now.

In addition to grocery tote bags, I use muslin vegetable bags.  If I forget them, or if the veggies are too big for the bag, I just skip the bag entirely.  It annoys some cashiers, but I think it's pointless to use a plastic bag for all of half-an-hour.

I use family cloth.  That's the term for adults in the house using cloth wipes instead of toilet paper.  In the interest of TMI, I'll say this: I mostly use it for number One, and the paper for number Two.

I use mama cloth.  That's the term for cloth menstrual pads.  In the interest of TMI, I use disposable pads at nighttime on my heaviest nights, and the cloth pads for daytime on my lightest days.

I use kitchen cloth.  That's one term for using cloth to wipe up in the kitchen.  The other term is un-paper towels.  I have a ton of cheap washcloths that I use.  They wipe the baby's hands after she eats, they wipe spills on stove, counter, sink, table, floor.  I am even planning to start using cloth napkins soon.  (My dad is going to think I've gone loony,)

Yes, using cloth products can increase the amount of water you use in laundering.  But if you are already doing a load of kitchen towels, what's a few more washcloths?  If you're already washing diapers, what's a few more wipes and some pads?

I'm interested to know what others are doing to try to be "green" - please share with me in comments!