Friday, May 31, 2013

May news

Our most important news from May is that we added a new member to our family.

His name is Mr Fish.  Or Fishy.  Or Mr Fishy.  He answers to all three. 

Jonathan won Mr Fish at his school carnival.  Luckily, it was the weekend just before Jonathan's birthday, so as a birthday present from Mom and Dad, Mr Fish got his own home.  Lucky lucky Mr Fish.
Last week we heard some other big news.  On Thursday, I found out that my large five year grant has been funded.  The grant will help support my research and teaching until... wait for it ... wait for it ... 2018!  Which means no more grant applications for me until 2017!  Which is awesome.  And maybe the apocalypse will happen before then, which means I'll be charred by nuclear weapons and then die a painful death by starvation because my food storage is not in order.  But in any case, in the event of the apocalypse in the next five years, I will not have to write another grant application in this lifetime!  Go apocalypse, go!
On Friday, I was called into the office of the Department Chair.  The chair's office actually has five chairs, I counted them all.  When the chair is in his office, there are six chairs.  On Friday, in the chair's office, there were six chairs, two deans, and me.  One of the deans was actually an associate dean which extra adjective means he is not as exciting as the dean.  But he gets to associate with the exciting dean.  And the dean, by the way, is the boss of the chair.  So he's like an extra layer of middle management, up above the chair.  Higher than the dean are the vague vice presidential people, and then the president at the top.  Only I've met the president a few times, and he doesn't really have an office at the top of the university.  I think the top is at the top of the old K. Building, which houses the nursing department.  So perhaps the nursing faculty are really at the top of the top.
In any case, I have digressed.  In the chair's office were six chairs and two deans and me.  And the dean dean, the one with no extra adjective attached to his title, sat down and read me a letter from the president, because while I have met the president, I doubt he remembers my name.  (His name is Cecil.)  He thought it would be a better use of his time to just write a letter, which I appreciate, and he wrote to congratulate me on having achieved Continuing Faculty Status at G.O.D. University, which is essentially Tenure here. 
So there!  I finally earned tenure. 
And meanwhile, there are a few house projects that Tim has been wanting to do, but that I have kept suggesting we hold off on doing until after I hear about tenure.  It has been less than a week since I heard about tenure, and Tim has already hired a contractor.  The contractor will tear out our two sheds and put in an Olympic Swimming Pool! 
No, he will not. He'll put in a covered patio.  Won't that be nice?  We can sit outside under our covered patio and sip mint juleps.  Virgin style.  Because the difference between Continuing Faculty Status and Tenure is that at G.O.D. University, they reserve the right to fire you for turning against G.O.D's mission.  I mean God's mission.  And sipping alcoholic beverages is somehow involved in that.  But it's ok.  I'm a teetotaler.  Even with a covered patio. 
So anyway, this means we get to celebrate tenure by having the back yard ripped up!  But don't worry.  Tim made the contractor promise -- cross pinkies and stick a needle in his eye -- that he would be finished in July.  And since we all know how well that kind of promising works with contractors, we can breath easy now knowing that we'll be able to enjoy our covered patio from July until the apocalypse.  Because the patio will be covered, we won't actually get a good view of the apocalypse from the patio itself.  But that is a price we are willing to pay. 
That is almost almost all of our news from May.  The very last piece of news is that Jonathan attended his last day of fourth grade today.  That means tomorrow is the very first day of summer vacation.  We had a talk, and we agreed that it would be really super awesome if he spent his days cleaning the house and cooking meals and delivering them to me and Tim in bed.  By "agreed" I mean we had a talk, and I made the suggestion, and he rolled his eyes and ran away, but didn't actually refuse!  He didn't!  Of course, if I wake up tomorrow to a clean house and breakfast in bed, then I'll be pretty sure that I already missed the apocalypse. 
And what, you are asking, does all of this have to do with Mr Fish?  Here.  Ask him yourself. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Week away

I was at a conference in Montreal last week, and it was a Truly Excellent conference.  Often I attend conferences that are pseudo related to my field, and I try to keep my brain in focus and learn something new, but it doesn't always happen.  This last week, most of the talks were directly relevant to stuff I'm interested in and thinking about now.  I also met up with a couple of collaborators, and during time off from talks we worked on projects, making real progress on a couple.  In all, it was a very nice conference and I'm glad I attended.

The Montreal airport, however, is a disaster.  I do not recommend flying in and out of Montreal.  If you can avoid it.  I suppose if you have a conference in Montreal, you have limited options.  Just know you have been warned.

While I was waiting in eternal customs lines in Canada, Tim and Jonathan were waking up from a neighborhood overnight father-son camping trip.  That's right.  Tim and Jonathan went camping Friday night.  In the rain.  They reported that they were having fun with friends and neighbors up until it started hailing, and then they decided to climb into the tent and go to bed.  Notice that they went into the tent in the storm, and not into the car and back down the mountain.  Apparently our tent is sufficiently high quality to keep two guys dry and warm overnight in the mountains in the rain.  I am a little surprised and impressed.  Camping in the rain is something that my parents would do, and something that my brothers would do, but not something I expected from my husband and son.  The world is full of surprises.

And the one week I was away, all the plants in the garden seem to have doubled in size.  In the kitchen garden, the lettuce and carrots are ready to eat.  The tulips are completely gone, but the irises are very pretty in full bloom.  If you stand back on the porch and look out over the garden, it looks very lovely and green.  If you start walking around the garden, you spot lots of dandelions, nightshade, and bindweed, all of which needs to be pulled out.  I am contemplating hiring a gardener....

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Summer for kids

Summer is coming again, and I've been thinking a lot about what Jonathan should do with his summer.

He should definitely learn more foreign language.  He should keep up with his French so that he can ... um ... watch French movies or something.  And someday, travel to Africa and converse with the natives in their native French.  But not this summer.  This summer he should just learn French.

And this summer he should learn to play the piano.  This should be his summer of piano learning.  He should become excited and enthused about the piano, so much so that he spends an hour every day progressing first through the level 1 lesson book, then level 2, then level 3.  And by the end of August, at a rate of one level per month, he'll be a maestro.

Oh!  And he should do complicated math problems daily, too.  I know how to get copies of competition math problems going back for years and years.  If he only solves all of them, in a couple of different ways, he should be so prepared for the next kids' math competition in November that he'll blow everyone away with his awesome math-ness!

And he should clean his room.  And his bathroom, now that I think of it.  Summers are times for keeping rooms clean.  And even closets.

He should take swimming lessons.  It's not truly summer until kids are being shuttled to swimming lessons, and the moms are sitting on those hard plastic bleachers in the echo-y swimming pool chamber listening to shouts and whistles and watching their kids being dragged around on foam kickboards.  Nothing says summer like a foam kickboard.

If we're heading into lessons, you know he could really learn from taking that week of drama lessons at the local theater.  Not only would he have to learn to project himself in front of people, which would be healthy, but he would also have tons of fun.  Tons!  Because he's already such a drama king at home.  He would totally be a natural.  I would have to start turning down invitations for him to act in local theater productions, and then on Broadway, and then Hollywood.  Sign the boy up for drama camp.

And we will travel.  We will visit far flung family and friends.  And while we are within an 8 hour drive of Mount Rushmore, we might as well go see it.  That would be Educational.  We will have a real Road Trip!  The kind where we all keep asking "Are we there yet?" and we only stop to pee every three hours and someone gets carsick and someone else has bad gas in the car.  We will hate it while we are doing it, but it will make for tons of Memories.  Summer is all about building memories.

We will plant a garden.  And this year, we will weed the garden even when it gets hot in July.  We will not slack off on the weeding like we have done every other year, because this year we are Motivated!  We will eat our own tomatoes in September.

And we will learn to make friends and play with friends and get along.  These are important skills to learn.  Why not learn them in the summer, when there is nothing else to do?

Ah.  What a wonderful summer this will be.

I can't wait until September.