Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's a Boy Thing

My wonderful friend Heidi had the fabulous idea that I tell the back story on how each of my 20 things came into existence. How they came to be one of my life's lessons. There's a lot to tell, but I'll give it a go.

I grew up in a family full of girls. My dad applied the "3 strikes and you're out" rule in his hopes for a boy and then took what he got and was happy with it. He didn't shun his fatherly duties to his brood of girly children.

I really think my sisters and I were the benefactors of a boy-less family. My dad didn't have a son to take shooting or teach about football or do yard work. So he taught us. I'm not sure if he would have taken this same approach otherwise, though I like to think he would. Just maybe not to the extent that we experienced it. We learned how to mow the lawn when we were big enough to push the mower around the yard and continued to do so until we moved out of the house. We participated in family games of football and basketball. We hiked and camped and learned how to build fires and set up tents. We shot large guns, shoveled snow, and learned how to change a tire. We did it all and we didn't think twice about it.

I was never told I couldn't do something because I was a girl. If I wanted to try something, I was allowed to. Unfortunately my dad didn't get any daughters that were sports fanatics or hunting gurus, but he did get daughters that are well-rounded individuals that don't act like helpless idiots.

These days when I see something I want to do, I don't really consider if it's a girl thing or a boy thing, I just do it. Because of this my life has evolved into something I really love. When I went to school to get an electronics degree, I was the only girl in my class. Now I work in an engineering group where once again, I'm the only girl and I really enjoy what I do. I like to fly fish and camp. I've learned how to use power tools and how to do lots of home improvement projects. I also love to cook and get my hair done and put on make-up. I like jewelry and decorating my house. I've just adopted all the things I like to do and put the rest by the wayside.

So, as I'm raising Sylvie and any other kids I may have in the future, I want to treat them as strong, capable individuals in the hopes that they'll become such. It's one of the many lessons I learned from my parents that I want to pass onto my kids. And hopefully they'll find it just as beneficial as I have.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

20 Things I Want My Daughter to Know

I read a blog post today called "100 Things I Want to Teach My Daughter" and I have to say I was a little disappointed by a lot of the cheesy "lessons" it included. Is it really necessary to "dance while you do laundry"? Go ahead and do it if you like, but it seems to me that there are so many things that I feel a real urgency to teach my daughter. These are truths I've learned for myself... many times by a series of hard-knocks. This is what I want my daughter to know:

  1. Just because it's a "boy" thing doesn't mean you can't try it. Or like it. Or thrive doing it.
  2. Being perfect is boring. Celebrate your weaknesses as much as your strengths. It's what gives you personality.
  3. Don't be in a hurry to get married. You change so much from the time you graduate high school through your mid-twenties that you'll be shocked at how different you become. Use all those extra years to be free, have fun, and see what's out there. It's the only time you have to do whatever you want.
  4. Be financially smart. Live within your means. Don't use a credit card. Save for the things you want. Financial holes are really hard to dig yourself out of. These financial rules may be old, but they work.
  5. Do things for people because you want to, not because you expect something in return. It'll save you a lot of heartache and resentment.
  6. When choosing who you want to be with for the rest of your life, make sure they'd "swim across a shark infested lake to get you a lemonade." And make sure you'd do the same for them.
  7. Smile and be nice. You'll be surprised how far that gets you in life.
  8. Treat others how you'd like to be treated.
  9. Take care of yourself. Exercise, put make-up on & do your hair, put on real clothes. It'll do wonders for your self-esteem.
  10. Expectations are the seed of disappointment.
  11. The only person you can change is yourself.
  12. Don't worry about things you can't control. Change/fix/control what you can and forget about the rest.
  13. Look out for #1. If you don't treat yourself well and lookout for you, nobody will. Don't lose yourself in somebody else. Know what you like, do what you like, do things because YOU want to.
  14. Don't take anybody's word for it. Develop your own opinions about people and things. Otherwise you're sure to miss out on a lot of good relationships and experiences.
  15. Spend your time doing things you like. No sense in wasting your life doing things you think you "should" do.
  16. Be self-sufficient. Learn how to cook & clean. Educate yourself. Be able to make your own money.
  17. Try not to put too much stock in the events of your adolescence. Friends, situations, relationships, and looks are fleeting. It's not as horrible as it seems and it'll get much better. Really.
  18. Ask for help.
  19. Try new things. Food, experiences, friends... it'll keep you from getting bored and you'll find new favorite things and talents in the process.
  20. You'll always be loved by your parents no matter what. If it makes you happy, it makes us happy. We'll always be proud to call you our daughter.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Letters to Sylvie: 3 Months

Dear Sylvie,

I debated whether to write you these letters because I know it's been done before and surely much better than I will do it. But you're so young and even though I tell you these things everyday, you can't quite understand me yet. And I want you to hear these things, even if you don't hear them for several more years.

Today you're 3 months old. I can hardly believe it. You're already double the size you were when you were born and have grown too big for many of your newborn clothes. I continue to clothe you in my favorite outfits, such as your navy blue cupcake onesy with the white polka dots, because I can't quite bear to put them away forever and accept that my baby is growing so fast.

You have so much personality already. You're so easy going and happy and very rarely cry. I went back to work almost 2 weeks ago and I miss my mornings with you when your smiles and laughs and giggles and coos are given so freely. There is nothing I love more than to see you smile. I don't think there's anything better.

You're finally starting to gain more control over your previously flailing arms and legs. You love to try and eat your fists and fingers. You also gained enough awareness to look at your reflection in the mirror. You'll kick and play and look at yourself in your little playmat mirror for quite a long time. Usually while you're doing this you'll lift both feet off the ground and haul off and kick the toys dangling above you. You seem to be much more aware of your feet than your hands.

Your very favorite thing these days is bathtime. I give you a bath almost everyday just because you enjoy it so much. If you're having a tough night all I have to do is stick you in your little bathtub and you immediately feel better and a smile spreads across your face. In fact, if I don't let you kick around in the tub long enough and take you out before you're done wiggling around, you'll cry and cry until I put you back in.

Much more important than telling you about your development, I want to tell you how much I love you. I hope one day you'll be able to have kids of your own so you will feel this incredible love I have for you. My heart almost hurts I love you so much. I'd do anything for you. You're my little snugglebug and I'm so happy you're here.

Love, Mommy

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Six Sigmas

About a year ago I started on a big special project at work. This project involved choosing a manufacturing process with the potential to be improved and testing my improvement idea(s) using certain six sigma tools (which are related to statistics). Formally it's called a Green Belt and around my company, it's a big deal.

This project was huge and took up a big portion of my time. Every week I attended classes to learn about the different six sigma tools and then used each one to analyze part of my process. Each test had to be documented and explained in a technical report which was then reviewed and critiqued during not one, but TWO Powerpoint presentations in front of the company managers and six sigma group.

My 29 page technical report was turned in, reviewed, and approved a couple months before I went on maternity leave. This means that I successfully completed my Green Belt! I'm the only technician in my group to have completed this which feels awesome.

So why bring this up now if I finished it several months ago? Well, because upon returning to work, I finally had my official plaque! Now everyone that comes into my cubicle can see what a genius I am. It doesn't say which of the six sigmas I am, but I assume I'm either Brutality or Hand Shakefulness*.

*Gotta love 30 Rock!