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Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Resolutions: 2012

I did really well with my resolutions from last year. Number 3 was and always will be tricky...but I'm not perfect.

Accomplishments: Dave and I each accomplished big career milestones this year.  He passed his water distribution exam on September 17 with a 96%. I passed my Ph.D. oral qualifying exam on August 30, getting out 40 minutes early. For him it marks the first step towards being fully certified as a water treatment and distributor for the North Gualala Water Company, something he takes very seriously. For me it means one step closer toward the end of my long, twisted, Ph.D. path.

Challenges: I've continued as a mostly single working mother, upping my time on campus to nearly 40 hours a week most of the year to accommodate being a TA and for my exam prep.

I worked as a teaching assistant for a science and society fusion class in the spring and really had to push myself in that position. I'd never had to teach that many students (100 students, with about 30 per discussion section, all of which I taught), prepare lesson plans from scratch, confront students about cheating, etc. Truth be told, I was pretty nervous about it but it turned out to be a really wonderful experience, one that I'm REALLY looking forward to doing again.

During that quarter I started preparing myself for studying for my big qualifying exam. Arranging Eddie's childcare schedule to accommodate six weeks of intense studying was tough (and super expensive).

Dave has had to deal with not being around for Eddie as much as he'd like. Thankfully, faster/reliable internet has been installed at his parents' house this past year so that we can Skype nearly every night. Usually we get to chat from dinner through to bath time. Some nights I take the laptop into Eddie's room so Dave can listen to bedtime stories with us, too. It isn't perfect, but it works for now.

And now for the resolutions:

1. To have two publications ready for submission by the end of 2012. My professor wants me to have 3-5 publications before he'll let me graduate. I think 3 is the department sign-off standard, but since I don't have a masters degree and people are hired largely based on publication records, he'd like me to have more than the minimum.

2. I will finish collecting all my essential data by the end of 2012 (DSC-IRMS, C/N, headspace gases, plant component extractions). This is definitely my BHAG for the year. I have an undergraduate intern lined up to help me run my instrument cluster (assuming the stable isotope director will allow me to train someone else to run the IRMS) and process my compost samples. With Eddie's schedule I can only squeeze in about 4 samples a day, but hopefully the intern will be able to do 2-4 additional if she can come in before I arrive (at about 9:15am) and after I leave (at about 5pm). In order to accomplish this, it means I will need to work extra long on Fridays and probably one weekend day, too. But the sooner I can get done, the sooner we can move on to the next step in our lives (living together, in one place like most families do...imagine that!).

3. We will finish our major home improvement projects. These include: replacing the windows in the hall bathroom and living room; deciding and acting on what to do with the dining room (split into two rooms or not?); paint the interior doors; replace all broken/rotting fence posts; install wooden edging around garden beds. This list isn't particularly long, but some items are pretty involved. But we need to prepare the house for eventual renters and these are "must do" items.

4. I will finish the knit monster pants that I started the day after my heart surgery (12/2010). The yarn I used is much thicker than what the pattern called for so the ended up being for a toddler instead of a baby (perfect since I'm STILL not done with them!). I have only about 4" on one leg to finish and some sewing decorations to add.

5. Sell my collection of "see if I can sell this" stuff. It includes some vintage/old wallets and purses, a mostly complete collection of Babysitters Club books, and a few other things. Basically, things that are worth more in college fund money for Eddie and his future siblings than the sentimental value of holding on to them.

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