Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Baby Bunnies!


Baby Bunnies!
Originally uploaded by chesterley.

Imagine my surprise when yesterday morning I was watering our front garden only to find four baby bunnies running away from the cold water! I had seen Momma Bunny in the garden a week or two ago, but I figured she was looking for food: I did not suspect she had built a home there! Very cute to see the bunnies running around. For a while I was concerned I had desecrated their home by mistake, but later on we saw them running around again.

Wait a minute: We just finished planting the vegetable garden yesterday. Ugh! Lucky bunnies! How ironic.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Weekend Warriors



Just one more post on the house for the weekend, before this turns into a house blog instead of a doctoral student blog.

As a younger adult, whenever I would hear of people doing all they could with their home improvement projects, I used to cringe. I would ask myself, "Why can't people balance their lives better so they don't save all of these projects for a weekend and then have to rush around doing all this work?"

And now here we are, the little weekend warriors. Heaps of self-disgust! Well no, not really. It's hard to believe I've fallen into that routine, though. Seems so "typical." Anyhow...

This patch of ground, above, was at one point part of a dog run area for the prior owner of Chesterley. There is a whole bunch of river rock here, but over the years weeds have grown in as the rock settled into the dirt. The several inches of rock makes it nearly impossible to dig in and plant anything. However, it happens to be the one private, flat portion of our yard that has sun most of the day long. Thus, the one perfect spot for a vegetable garden in our yard has been blocked by the rock.

We found a way to conquer the rock by building a raised bed. Wife has ALWAYS wanted her own vegetable garden, and now after almost four years of home ownership her dream is coming true! See the four "DIY" pictures in my Flickr site, if you're interested in seeing more. I'll more pictures add to it as we get the veggies planted during the next few days.

Oh yeah, did I mention I'm writing my dissertation, too?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Summery Yard



We've done a ton of work on the yard this summer, and I've posted several pictures under the "yard" tag in Flickr. I really think the key to a healthy marriage is to do yard work together. We love it. It's a nice balance of independent and group work, and it's fun to see the results of your work. After buying this house (our first), we quickly learned the yard work we do this year will look better next year. Right now it feels like we're seeing the results of the last few year's worth of work coming to fruition, so that's pretty darn exciting.

Wife planted Cosmos out front this year. Before this spring I had not met a Cosmos. I like them so much, I used this pic of them for this post. By the way, those frogs took up residence in our front garden in 2002, soon after we moved into Chesterley.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Demise of Cargo

I am not one to read many magazines. Heck I have enough trouble reading the literature I need to for my dissertation, but that's an entirely different story.

My aunt and uncle gave me a subscription to GQ when I graduated from college. I liked it, but I have never made oodles of money such that I could ever think of affording the clothes and such advertised there. Also, I just don't spend a lot of time on clothing or grooming. I mean, I certainly like to bathe and shave and look decent, but if I'm not wearing designer clothing, I really could care less. As long as it fits and the things were purchased this decade, I'll go with it. Many of the articles in GQ are interesting, so I kept my subscription going for several years. When I came to SCT, I scaled back on several expenditures, one of which was that subscription.

Of course I'm still on their mailing list, and I receive ads for other magazines published by the same group. A new one came out about a year ago that was inexpensive and peaked my interest: Cargo Magazine. Good mixture of "men's magazine stuff" like electronic gadgets, clothing (with inexpensive options!), fitness, and sex. And some of the models look like real people instead of like "models," if you can believe it! And really: the emphasis was on the electronics and not the fashion, which I liked a great deal.

Unfortunately, I received a postcard last week saying they will discontinue publishing Cargo. And to compensate for the rest of my subscription, I'll get copies of GQ instead. Ugh! I guess I'll just take it in and have a clearer picture of the high-fashion stuff I cannot afford. Inspiration to complete the doctorate? Perhaps, but it's not like I'm going to walk into a six-figure job when I complete this degree anyhow. Ho hum.

Long live Cargo!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Chapter 1

I finished the draft of Chapter 1 early. As I stated Sunday, my goal was to have it done later this week. I actually finished it yesterday. I can't really believe it, so I didn't jump onto Blogland to post all about it for a while. But it's true: it went much more quickly than I thought.

Don't get me wrong: this isn't very good. DC will never see this version, and I still have a long way to go. But the important thing is that the initial concepts are out of my head. Now I can focus on refreshing my readings and getting chapter 2 planned. Chapter 2 will take a while. Hoo boy...here goes.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A poem

Mom said, "oh no," through a stifled laugh.
The son had found Dad's leftover birthday cake
That which he had not consumed was
ground into the white shirt he wore
to church that morning.

Son looked dazed,
though happy.

Dad said: "hey, save some for me."

And then Son bounced himself off the walls.

Time flies like a pad of butter on a hot frying pan

Has it been a week since my last post? Time flies, though I have no idea why the anology of butter & frying pans just came to mind, but it did so I wrote it.

Here I sit on the back deck of Chesterley, "vigorously" writing my dissertation. Ha, I wish. At least I'm here. Tomorrow is Writing Day, so I endeavor to get much more accomplished. I did write seven more pages last week, so it was a productive time. If all goes as planned this week, then I'll finish a shitty draft of the first chapter this Thursday or earlier, and I'll have a chance to revise the shittiness out of it next weekend before sharing it with Pink or another colleague after the Memorial Day holiday. I think DC is out of contact for a while, as is the norm during the summer. I can live with that. After the holiday, it's onward into the dreaded Chapter 2: the literature review. Oy.

I marked the 35th anniversary of my life this past week. It was the first birthday where I felt like I'm not "young" anymore. At least I have my health and most of my brain cells in tact, so this is good. My mom was here much of the week, so between the family & friend support I made it through the b-day experience just fine. A decent supply of alcohol and chocolate helped as well.

There is a big-ass bee (BAB) flying around out here. Hey, can't you see the flower boxes over there? Get away from me. Geez, big enough it's creating a shadow when it flies. Stop blocking out the sun you blasted bee...

Digression over, kind of like this post.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Weekend Getaway

The weekend getaway with just the two of us was quite nice. Had time just to "be" and only worry about ourselves. Took in a museum, ate a couple of great meals, and had a good ole time. I highly recommend this type of getaway to anyone with kids. Even if you only travel ten miles from home - a 24-hour trip away from your kid(s) once in a while is well worth-it! We've only done this one other time since Moose was born.

We watched the very last West Wing tonight. I recall when that show came on six years ago and we were living in the Southeast. We watched it religiously, as did many of our friends. Our lives were SO very different then. We both were working full-time, Moose hadn't remotely been conceived yet, and Chester was just a year old. We were both getting settled in our careers, and we had a good life. I miss that sometimes, not that I would turn back time or anything, but boy was it fun. I don't know why watching the TV show reminded me of that time. I guess it's the memory of our lives when that show was starting, combined with the weekend getaway. It's good to remember what it's like to be a couple and not have the constant worry of having a child with special needs.

Perhaps there's a constant feeling of worry when you have typically-developing kids? I don't know. What I do know is that we're exhausted quite often, and sometimes it's hard to watch Moose attempt to navigate the world. Most times, however, we continue to be amazed at all he CAN do in spite of his inability to communicate coherently. Through it all, he still remains a genuinely NICE, humorous kid. Sometimes I wish I had his patience when I was that young.

Random post, I know, but my mind is just flowing tonight, for some reason. Preparing to turn 35 this week, perhaps? Probably.

Azaleas, etc.

I took this picture about 10 days ago. Couldn't believe the flowers that came up this spring. You'd never realize it's mid-May, though. As I type this, it's 49 degrees at 11:00 PM. Ugh. I am so ready for outdoor life to be the norm instead of a pleasant unexpected treat. I may put a few more of these pics on my Flickr site. There was nothing in this front garden except for an old wooden park bench that was literally rotting away, so we're pleased with what we've been able to add here.

In other house news, we finally had the kitchen ceiling repaired after a roof leak came, went, and got fixed. Ah. It's nice to not look at a peeling ceiling anymore. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Page One

It's been a good couple of days. Monday I completed the outline of my first chapter, which was a triumphant feeling in itself.

On Tuesday, I wrote the first page of my dissertation! Woohoo!

And then this morning, I stared at Page 1. Ugh!

Well, I made a couple of edits hither & yon, and I found another source or two. Um...yeah. Oh well. I'm still on schedule for getting this chapter done this month, and that's all that matters right now. Right? Somebody agree, please! :-)

Today was our 9th wedding anniversary. My inlaws are in town now, so they watched Moose tonight while Wife and I went to Nice Italian Restaurant for dinner and then walked around Large Chain Bookstore/Cafe for about two hours, which is something we can NEVER do with Moose in tow. Had a very nice time. Even stopped at said cafe before coming home. This weekend we're going out of town, just the two of us, overnight while the inlaws spend an entire 24-hour period with Moose. Can't wait, though I'm not quite sure what we'll do while we're gone.

hee hee.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Commencement

Yesterday was graduation day in SCT. We had the fortunate situation to be invited to five different parties. I don't think that's ever happened to us before. We were able to get to four of them: three graduation gatherings and a Derby party. Much fun was had by all, and Moose did remarkably well though we were gone for about seven hours (poor Chester had to stay home, but he had a good run/romp across the vast rear lawn after our arrival home in the evening).

I also received the final grade from my "Multivariate Statistics in Educational Research" course. I'm not one to brag about or even discuss my grades very much, but I'm very pleased with the outcome. I'm also pleased with the fact that from here on out, my "grades" are just going to be "S" for Satisfactory. Better than the other option of F. Ironic how we get to the final stages of the doctorate and there are no more letter grades.

For over 7,000 graduates here at LMU, graduation marks the "commencement" of other things like moving to new life stages, starting new jobs, starting graduate school programs, etc. For me, this time of year marks the fact that "I'm next." I plan to be among next year's graduates. That's pretty cool, and it's high time. I may not be entirely finished with the dissertation this time next year, but the goal is to be close enough to participate in the graduation festivities and defend the paper in August of 2007.

Already I've changed my work schedule so I have Mondays off from Good Little Graduate Assistantship duties to focus on my own work. This is good: Sundays aren't nearly as stressful that way. In fact, life in general appears to have become more simple as a result of commencement. It's just me, my computer (may it work flawlessly at least for the next 18 months), and my books & articles to get this work done. Time to get to work.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Neighborhood Noise

It's actually quite pleasant around the vast grounds of Chesterley this morning (um, right...I can count about five houses from where I sit, but anyhow...). I sit outside on the back deck, and I'm going to get a few more points done on the intro outline. It's rather peaceful. Chester sits here at my feet and we listen to the birds and occasional dog barking. Oh wait, Chester is barking now to...Chester, no. Thanks buddy. Anyhow, aside from regular neighborhood noise here, life is pretty good. I could get used to getting work done out here.

Onward, then.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Monthly Goals and Smaller Chunks

Alright people, this is it. I'm completely finished with any other acacdemic task now, other than writing this dissertation. Not that I've been intentionally wasting time or anything, but I now have absolutely no excuses or other invening reasons to not get some major work accomplished on this beast during the next few months.

I'm experiencing a feeling of relief, in that life has become a bit more simple. No more classes, no more tests or papers, and no more incompletes or other lingering projects. Heck, I've even let go of one of my side jobs that earned a small bit of cash. All of these things were being put on a higher priority than the dissertation because they were more urgent. No longer are these things factors, and this is good.

If I want to start collecting data this fall, and thus have any hope of walking at graduation in a year, then I absolutely must defend the proposal (1st 3 chapters) no later than mid-September of this year. My goal for the summer is to have at least a decent draft. A decent draft can still SUCK, but at least it's a draft! Edits don't take me all that long to complete, and the work doesn't need to be perfect to pass the proposal defense. It just needs to be done.

So I've revised my schedule so that I do a chapter a month for the next three months. That is:
  • Introduction by the end of May
  • Literature review by the end of June
  • Methodology by the end of July
That gives me August to edit and attempt to get some feedback from DC, who has told me she'll be in and out of town this summer and would be happy to look at things when she has time (I'm VERY lucky in this regard. Many professors simply disappear during the summer months, which is their prerogative being that they aren't paid in the summer time).

Deep breath. Hoo boy. Here we go. In the past half hour I've completed a few lines of the outline of my introduction, so we're getting somewhere.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I actually finished something EARLY!

I'm a bit stunned. I just submitted my proposal for Presigious Research Conference online, and the deadline isn't till 11:59 PM tonight. I'm right on schedule: am now heading home from the Cafe to hang out with Wife and Moose for a bit. Then, Wife goes off to be social while I hang out with Moose till his bedtime.

After his bedtime, I will hunker down and complete my take-home exam for "multivariate statistics in educational research." Am just about finished. Just a few more things left to tweak, and it's not even due till Noon tomorrow!

If all goes according to plan, then the only thing I'll have on my plate for tomorrow morning before turnning into a Good Little Graduate Assistant in the afternoon is (gulp) to work on my dissertation. Yeah, that's all.

That's ALL? Zoinks.