Thursday 13: Life lately

I almost bragged too soon.

Getting the Christmas decorations put away the second week of January? Unheard of in this household. And the direct result of a bet. The terms: If I could get all the Christmas decor put away in one night, Mr. T promised not to razz me about my upcoming trip to Disneyland (see #11 below). So I did. I made sure every last stitch of Christmas was boxed and bagged, and ready to go back into the attic.

And then I blinked and a month passed, and Christmas was still in the living room. I probably have to make another Valentine’s tree since the forecast for getting that sucker put away is marginal at best.

All this is to say, life’s been busy around here but I’m alive and kicking, and tormenting babies with tickles (see below). Hope you’re well, too!

1. A recent photo: Somebody turned one recently!!

Let’s not confuse this an “exciting auntie-niece bonding moment.” No, that kid was trying to escape my one snuggle of the day, so I rewarded her with upside down tickles.

2. A proud moment: Watching collaborator, Thomas Dodson, give Above the Fray’s first public presentation. So cool to see our research about teen online life (and tips for parents!) start to be shared with the world. Want to learn more about what teens are up to online, including our shocking discovery that upwards of 75% of teens report NO supervision of their online activities? Read this. And then call Thomas. Seriously.

Thomas spoke to a regional Parent Teacher Association group at Shriner’s Hospital in Sacramento. Interested in bringing him and Above the Fray’s youth empowerment message to a school or civic group near you? Visit 

3. Something I’m excited about: Lady A’s activity box birthday present. She turned one last week–my how the time does fly–and I’m having so much fun finishing up her birthday present which is a collection of gadgets and hardware mounted to a pretty wooden box. The idea is to encourage play and develop fine motorskills, and obviously, teach her how to open doors, turn on lights, correctly put plugs into sockets. Skills all small toddlers need, right? At least it’s not a loud gift!

Big thanks to Mr. T for helping me with the engineering, drilling, and mounting. And Goliath, for supervising, obviously.

4. A major accomplishment: No cavities! Likely because all of my teeth are filled already, but a major source of joy this month was finding out my obsessive dental hygiene is finally paying off.

5. Nerd coolness: Learned recently that an article I co-authored with a dear friend titled: “The Positive Outcomes of Negative Emotional Displays: A Multi-Level Analysis of Emotion in Bureaucratic Work” was accepted for publication in a special edition of the Electronic Journal of Communication. Woo! (Intrigued by the nerd work? You can read more here and here.)

6. A cute moment: Goliath rehearsing his rendition of “The Pup and the Pea.”

He’s cute for an old man dog.

7. On my mind: Jobs, careers, and callings. In grad school, I read an article (you can too) that discussed how people orient to their work. People generally look at work as either: jobs that bring financial benefits, careers that can bring advancement/prestige, or callings that speak to their passions. You know those folks who say they never work a day in their lives because they love their jobs so much? I’d like to be one of them some day.

8. A nice flight: Flying has been unfortunately scarce in my life lately, thanks to weather, work, writing and now teaching. But Mr. T and I went to Livermore a few weeks ago to pick up some car parts and snag lunch. Love me some left seat flying.

Beautiful winter flying in the Sacramento Valley.

9. A kick in the pants I needed: School started at Sacramento State last week and on the first meeting of my night class–a senior seminar in organizational communication–we made introductions. I asked students to find out the usual information about their classmates–name, major, hometown, but also what super power they would have if they could and what they saw as their life’s ambition at this point. I explained how I would love to be able to grow money (I am a gardener, after all) and that my ambition is to write New York Times best sellers. I admitted I was supposed to have my book proposal for 101 Patdowns done by the start of school and god bless ’em, my students gave me a firm deadline to meet. February 18 and the book proposal will be done!

10. Something yummy: Spring rolls! One of my 2015 goals is to use new ingredients. January’s item was spring roll wrappers. Easy but work intensive, I included boiled shrimp, romaine lettuce, rice noodles, carrots, shredded beets, jalapenos, shredded zucchini, avocado, bean sprouts and cilantro. Served with spicy peanut sauce, of course.

Next time, I will make the shrimp pieces smaller (or just buy smaller shrimp) and quick marinade them first before cooking. Also, I overstuffed my wrappers so some of the rolls broke apart.

11. On the horizon: A family trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. Ahhhhh! (Reference: A Mother-Daughter Disneyland Adventure. See also: Celebrating the PhD: A Sister Trip to Disneyland)

12. How my garden grows: Peas and more peas. Snow, English and Sweet.

Really, I have some pea-monster bushes overtaking the garden. Note to self: Not so close together next year!

13. Something I suck at recently: Dieting. I did a Cranberry Kick detox thing. I joined a “Friendly Biggest Loser” group on Facebook. I agreed to try 30 push-ups a day (OUCH) and jump rope (HA, soon). But I have not yet seriously committed to changing eating habits. Case in point: This vat of sauce of I made for a family gathering last month and the mea culpa cake I made this week (to make up for eating T’s slice of cake over the weekend, even though he said he didn’t want it at least three times). I need to reconcile myself to the fact that salads at lunch are not license to eat all the things at night. Alas.

Want to make sauce like an Italian grandma? Here’s my damn fabulous recipe: The Best Spaghetti Sauce in the West


Other Thursday 13s:

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