Thursday, September 22, 2016

More Than Housewife 101

Two years ago, I started working on my bachelor's degree in Marriage and Family Studies (MFS). I was 30 years old. It took that long for me to figure out what I was passionate about. It ended up being a good thing, though, that I delayed my education for a while because I wouldn't have chosen correctly back in my twenties. I earned my AS and never transferred to a university because A) after praying about it, it didn't feel right and B) I didn't have a clear path of study. I knew I was interested in psychology and the social sciences, but I didn't have any direction.

I didn't realize it then, but I've always been fascinated by familial relationships - I just didn't identify it as an "interest." It's never been uncommon for me to ask my friends things like, "So... what do you and your husband fight about?" It's a bizarre question, I know, but I don't ask it for gossip fodder. I ask it because I'm genuinely curious about family conflict and how it is presented and resolved. I used to think I was just weird, but then one of my instructors described herself as being "obsessed with families." She said she has always loved watching families and learning how they function. I felt like she took the words right out of my mouth. I've observed families my whole life and have always been fascinated by them, so when I stumbled across the MFS program at BYU-I, there was no question - I was in - and when I met that particular instructor, I knew I had found my people! 

My degree has a bit of a stigma - people act like it's a professional wife degree, so as soon as I state that I'm in MFS, people tend to write me off immediately, as if it's not a "real" degree. That's why I'm writing this post. I can't claim my program won't make me a better wife, but it's not a "homemaker" degree or a field of study that oppresses women. Let me tell you what it really is (because it's fantastic!)

My degree covers the obvious. Marriage, divorce, communication, conflict resolution. 

It covers the gritty. Abuse, infidelity, addiction, perinatal loss, grief, anxiety, sexual education.

We learn about theory. Systems theory, social exchange theory, symbolic interactionism, feminism.

There are courses on development. Childhood, adolescent, and lifespan. 

There's parenting. 

Money management. 

Public speaking. 

Psychology.

Social science statistics.

Research methods.

I thoroughly enjoy the breadth of topics I get to learn about in school, and my degree touches on so many areas that I love. In fact, many of the things I have studied in school are things I enjoyed studying in my leisure time. Through school, I get my psychology fix, and I get to learn all about family. My favorite class from high school was AP psychology, and my favorite class from college has been family theory. Those two together are like sweet nectar to me!

Hopefully that gives you a better idea of what I've been working on these past two years. It's so much more than Housewife 101. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

My Perspectives on Online School

Occasionally people ask me how I feel about earning a degree online and whether I would recommend it.

I don't know if I necessarily "recommend" it - it really depends on your circumstances and your learning style - but I can tell you the pros and cons from my perspective.

Let's start with the cons:

As I'm trying to brainstorm the negative aspects of earning an online degree, I'm realizing that a lot of the cons aren't exclusive to online learning. For example, I was going to say that it's difficult to form relationships and network with instructors and other students, but then I reflect back on my time as an on-campus student, and I remember that I didn't make a single friend at school, and I didn't have any instructors that knew my name. There are plenty of people who have graduated from my current program who have networked with each other and who have a close relationship with their instructors. This can be done because we do a lot of group work, and our instructors have office hours over a video chat program. So really, if you want to network, you can (and you should, but I, personally haven't taken the initiative to do a lot of networking, which is probably a disadvantage for me).

One con is that we don't get spring or fall break. We also don't get holidays off. Occasionally, instructors will adjust a due date to accommodate a holiday, but most of the time, things just keep chugging along, which means I sometimes have to do schoolwork on Thanksgiving.

Another con is that it's really easy to cheat (yes, this is a con). I admit, I've had moments where I'm taking a closed-book test, and I read a question that I don't remember the answer to, but I know exactly where it is in my book. Of course the temptation is there. I could just look. It would take five seconds. But the thing it, I signed an honor code when I joined BYU-Idaho. I have to meet with the local leaders of my church every year and discuss the honor code and the standards I must live by to attend a Church Educational System (CES) school. So I don't cheat because I know that I'll be accountable to God for it someday, but I've already graduated from a different CES school, and I saw people cheating all the time, so I'm sure it's happening a lot in my online program as well. Maybe even more so because it's so much easier to get away with. It's frustrating to think that people are getting better grades than I am because they choose to cheat - a reality that is, again, not exclusive to online school but perhaps more difficult to monitor.

The biggest con for me, though, is that I feel like there is a stigma for online degrees. Some people look at them as "lesser degrees" as if they are easier to earn. For some online programs, that may be the case, (and I have to admit that even I don't always look at online classes as legit college courses), but I feel like I'm involved in a quality program, and when I graduate, my degree will be from the college I'm enrolled in. There will be nothing on my diploma that separates me from the on-campus students. Plus, most universities now offer online classes, so it is becoming the norm.

And now for the pros:

It is such a blessing, in my current life circumstances, to be able to study on my own timeline. There are still due dates - this is not independent study - but if I know I have a vacation coming up, I can manage my time and work ahead so I can free up some time for leisure. It's not easy to do, but it's possible! And that has been nice (however, I occasionally have online meetings I can't miss or reschedule, and I find myself fighting with the hotel wi-fi to get into my group video chat).

Also, being able to work on my own timeline means that I can decide when to take my tests (there is usually a week from when the test opens and when it closes, and I can test any time during that week as long as I make the due date). This is nice because I can test when I'm ready rather than at a time that was chosen for me.

In addition to that, I have control over how my "class time" is used. If I attend a 50 minute class on campus, I'm not really in control of how that time is managed, but when I am studying on my own time, I have more control. What I mean by that is, I can sometimes learn more studying on my own in 50 minutes than a professor can teach me in a classroom setting in the same amount of time. This, however, is highly affected by learning style. This wouldn't work for everyone, but for me, I think I spend less time learning the material outside of a classroom than I would inside a classroom where things move a little slower to accommodate a large amount of people. There is quite a bit of overlapping material in my courses, so it's nice that I can spend less time working on something I'm already familiar with. For example, this week in my Community and Family Relations course, we are learning about Ecological Systems Theory, which I have learned about in at least two other classes. Instead of spending a significant amount of time on this topic, I quickly reviewed and moved on to other concepts that are new to me. This reiterates that learning style is a very important factor to when considering online courses.

Another pro is that school can go anywhere with me. I already mentioned vacations - it's pretty cool that I can leave home and take school with me. For one of my current classes, my textbook is on my cell phone, so it is always with me. I can also access my online courseroom from anywhere with wi-fi as long as I have a device with me.

Something that is unique to BYU-Idaho is that there are three full-length semesters in a year (and one six-week block). This has been nice because, in my previous schooling, we only had two full-length semesters. Three allows me to squeeze more schooling in in a year's time.

I definitely don't speak for every person or every online program, but I think I've gained a little perspective on the ups and downs of online school. Would I recommend it? Not with any surety. It's not for everyone, so you really need to consider your own circumstances and determine if it's right for you.

As a follow-up to this post, I really want to tell you more about my degree in Marriage and Family Studies and the topics I've studied. I always worry that people brush my degree aside and think, "So you're learning to be a professional homemaker?" Hardly! There are definitely a lot of things I've studied that are helpful in the home, but it is far more than a degree in motherhood. I'll tell you more about it tomorrow! Can't wait!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

It's Sunday (and ten other random facts)

Fact #1: The other day I had a not-so-good hair day because I accidentally put some product in my bangs that made them sort of greasy looking, and they wouldn't lay quite right. I was making Donny Osmond memes and sending them to my friends (it's just a thing I do) when I realized that I had Donny hair!

The day I had Donny hair

Fact #2: Last weekend, I went to an event called Time Out for Women with some of my in-laws. We go every year. TOFW is a weekend of uplifting presentations. There are are musical performances and speakers, and it's always a good experience. 

TOFW

This year, John Bytheway spoke. He's a popular LDS speaker from my youth, and I have heard him speak before and have also listened to all of his talks on CD. 

I decided my mission for the weekend was to get a picture with John Bytheway, so I started doing creepy things like sneaking around in the tunnel backstage to see if I could find him. I went back there before the event started and at every break. I went "to the bathroom" a few times even though I didn't have to. I finally did find him backstage, but he looked like he was making his final preparations for his presentation. I rocked back and forth and debated... Should I? Shouldn't I? I decided to leave him alone and go back to my seat because I am the respectful kind of creepy. 

Eventually, I did get a photo with John Bytheway, but I had to wait in line for it like everyone else. 

JBTW

Fact #3: A few days after I got back from TOFW, a presenter I follow on facebook posted that he had some tickets to an event called Hope Works at which he would be speaking. I looked into it, and I decided I really wanted to go, so I reserved 4 tickets.

This was the first event of its kind put together by the Mormon Channel, and it was very apparent that they were creating the Mormon version of Ted Talks. It was really interesting to be a part of. The event was this past Friday in the Conference Center Theater. 

Hope Works Stage

It was very different from the usual Conference Center events. We dressed in business casual, we were given badges, we were fed dinner, and there was a live band. The presentations were, like I said, Ted Talks - so no "in the name of Jesus Christ, amen." I'm not sure yet what I think of it. I'm anxious to see the recordings when they go up on the Mormon Channel. There are two of them I will definitely share. 

Hope Works

Fact #4: My friends I went to Hope Works with asked me who the presentations were intended for. The presenter I got the tickets through had mentioned that the event was directed toward millennials but that anyone over age 15 was welcome. I then asked my friends, "Are we millennials?" because I've never really been sure. They weren't sure either, so we decided to do some thorough Google research. We discovered that I am a millennial, but only barely. My friends are generation X, but only barely. I've never really felt like a millennial, so I think I'm just lost in between. 

Fact #5: Speaking of the Mormon Channel, I download a lot of podcasts from the Mormon Channel to listen to while I do dishes and stuff. There is a series called "Mormon Identities" that I like, and there are two I recommend to anyone who is interested. One is on mental and emotional health and one is on addiction. They are old podcasts (2011, I think), but they are interesting. 

Fact #6: Last week, Daisy turned seven! Can you believe it? Anyway, we had her "friend" party yesterday. The theme was "Camp Daisy." We did some camp-themes activities like making tic tac toe games out of rocks and making boondoggle and pony bead necklaces. 

Tic Tac Toe

I thought the party was going to be a hit, and in some ways it was, but the kids made it very clear that I didn't do the party "right." I didn't serve cake and ice cream, which, apparently, is the greatest birthday party offense of all time! 

I served pizza and s'mores bars. 

The pizza was acceptable, of course, but the s'mores bars were not! I had a 9x13 pan of them, and there were 18 kids there. They didn't even eat half the pan. 

Eighteen kids!!

Fact #7: The other thing that seemed weird to me was that the kids didn't want to participate in any activities or games. They just wanted to run around our back yard. Last time Daisy had a "friend" party (two years ago) I didn't plan a lot of games and activities because I thought the kids would like to play. But they wouldn't play! I just can't get it right!

Fact #8: They sell home drug tests at the dollar store. I'm just sayin.

Dollar store Finds

Fact #9: There's something about the bathroom stalls at the Harmon's grocery store in downtown Salt Lake that makes me feel uncomfortable. 

Summer 2016

Fact #10: Zoe has become our official pancake maker. 

Summer 2016

While I fully support life skills and independence, I am SO. SICK. of pancakes! She wants to make them every day, and if I don't let her, it's tantrums for hours. 

(We're working on making them not touch - some days are better than others). 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

School Struggles

I've come to the conclusion that the universe doesn't want me to finish school.

My semester started on Monday, and every time I try to do school work, something legit gets in the way. I'm not talking Netflix or daydreaming (those things get in the way later in the semester, but not the first week!) I'm talking Murphy's Law type stuff.

Take this morning, for example. I woke up at 5:00 to get started on some statistics stuff (heaven help me!) The second I got my laptop open, Eva started crying. Thus began a cycle of me sitting down, opening the lap top, Eva crying, me going into her room to tuck her in and give her a pat-pat-pat, me going back downstairs, opening my laptop, Eva crying again, me going back upstairs... Four times. FOUR TIMES!

Finally, I gave her a bottle, came back to the laptop, and opened it up only to find that it had 10% battery life, so I had to go back upstairs to plug it in.

Yesterday I sat down to do a little homework in the morning (all of my children were awake, so the odds were already against me) when Zoe fell and hit her mouth on a chair. There was blood. And a fat lip. Then after that got settled, I tried again, and that's when my stomach flu kicked in so it became a cycle of opening my laptop and running to the bathroom.

The day before that, I had three hours with only Eva home. ONE CHILD. Surely I could get something done with only ONE CHILD at home. But no... she climbed in my lap repeatedly and hit the keyboard, and when I tried to keep her at a safe distance, she would then reach out with her foot and tap the keys with her little pointed toe. I tried every number of toys and snacks to keep her busy, but the most time she would give me was three minutes, and there's not a lot that can be accomplished in three minutes. Plus, she wanted to hand feed me her snacks, so I sat at the kitchen table trying to read my course syllabus while Eva hovered over me and shoved tortilla chips in my mouth five at a time.

It's going to be a long semester!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Greetings From My Couch

I'm sick.

And it serves me right because, just the other day, I was thinking about what it was like back in my pre-child days to be sick and just nap and watch TV all day. I thought, "Gosh! I miss that! I kind of want to be sick like that again!" In fact, I dare say I was craving it.

I'm not lying. There is something appealing about barfing all day and getting to lay in bed with no disruptions. Key phrase: no disruptions. And therein lies the reason it's so appealing to me now - it's not possible with four little kids!

But today amidst the barfing and other things, I was able to have some of my dream come true thanks to my mom. Nicky and Daisy were at school, and my mom took Zoe and Eva for the day so I could be sick without kids. You guys? It was kind of amazing. Yeah, being sick sucks, and the timing wasn't great because I just started a new semester of school yesterday, but overall, it was wonderful.

I pretty much spent the day going back and forth from my couch to my bathroom, and then I would alternate between napping and doing homework. I felt like utter crap, but I didn't have to take care of my kids, and I had a legit reason to not clean... to not leave the house... and to not get dressed.

So thanks, Mom, for this glorious experience.

[insert angels singing]

But now I have to face reality. The kids are on their way home, and stomach bugs spread like wildfire. My journey is far from over. Who's next? And what am I going to have to rearrange this week to get through it? Time will tell.


Friday, September 9, 2016

All because of Hayley Mills

For a while I've had a hard time finishing up my blog posts. I have a really big collection of unfinished posts in my drafts folder, so today I was sorting through them and trying to recall where I was going with each post. I found this one from back in April (remember, I never finished it)...

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Lately we've been working our way through Hayley Mills movies. We started with Summer Magic, then watched Pollyanna, and now we're working on The Parent Trap.


1. I haven't watched Pollyanna since I was a child, so I was a little surprised when the opening scene featured a naked little boy swinging on a rope into the river. I didn't think naked butts were featured in Disney movies in 1960.

2. I always have to laugh at Hayley Mills' very American roles with her British accent.

3. Scotty and I disagree about which movie has the worse ending - Summer Magic or Pollyanna. I think Summer Magic's ending is terrible and inconclusive. Scotty and Nicky think Pollyanna is worse. I don't think the movie did as good a job as the book at ending Pollyanna's story, but it's better than Summer Magic, for Heaven's sake!

4. I used to daydream about living The Parent Trap in real life. If only I had a secret twin I could trade places with. I'm sure it all would have worked out wonderfully (except for the horrible haircut).

5. I remember Hayley Mills playing Miss Bliss on Saved By the Bell when I was a kid, but I didn't realize that it actually wasn't Saved by the Bell at all, but Good Morning Miss Bliss which was canceled after 13 episodes and the reformatted to be Saved by the Bell.

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It was kind of funny to stumble across that post because watching Hayley Mills movies began a new phase of life for Nicky, and at the time I wrote it, I didn't know this phase was in the works.

As I mentioned (see #3) Nicky did NOT like the end of Pollyanna. He actually made a pretty big deal about it, and since then, he compares every movie ending to Pollyanna. Apparently, very few movies have a satisfying ending for Nicky, so it's very common for him to finish a movie and yell, "That was as bad as Pollyanna!"

It's not a casual comparison. It's passionate and involves flailing limbs. His arms wave, he stands up, and sometimes he stomps.

Over the weekend, we let him watch one of Scotty's and my favorites, The Truman Show. As the show was in the final few minutes, I suddenly remembered how The Truman Show ends, and I turned to Scotty and whispered, "This is not going to be good." Then we braced ourselves and watched it happen. Nicky was instantly on his feet. "What kind of ending is that?!?" and on and on and on.

I, personally, love the way The Truman Show ends, but when I first watched it as a teenager, I had the same reaction as Nicky. "How could they do this?" but now, I think it's brilliant. I do understand Nicky's troubles, though. Children like complete, tidy endings. They don't want to be left with questions.  

So I will do my best to parent him through this phase, and if I fail, I'll just blame Hayley Mills.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Currently {September 2016 Edition}

Reading: Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. I don't really know a lot about the book, and I don't remember where I heard of it (I'm thinking NPR), but I'm on page 5.

Watching: Hart of Dixie and Lost. I usually have a "me show" and a "we show." A show for me and a show for Scotty and me together. 

Sidenote: Do you know how to tell when you should use "Scotty and me" versus "Scotty and I?" Just take Scotty out of the sentence, and you'll know. Example:

Scotty and I went to the bank.

I went to the bank.

My mom watched the kids for Scotty and me.

My mom watched the kids for me.

(Thank you, Mrs. Evans!)

Procrastinating: all things related to my schooling. I start up again next week. I don't have my books. I don't have my ecclesiastical endorsement. I don't have my financial aid. 

Wanting: color coded towels for all my kids. This is going to happen for Christmas. Each kid will get two towels in their color, and they will responsible for them. A logical consequence for not taking care of one's towel? You have no towel after your shower. Have fun. 

Craving: light sweater weather. I need it. 

Wearing: my undies. Note to self: don't to "Currently" when you're not dressed. 

Relieved by: school being back in. My house has been somewhat peaceful during the day, and it's wonderful!

Stressing about: nothing, really. That's weird. Give it time. 

Missing: my childhood toys. I am so sad that I didn't keep my Littlest Pet Shop toys. Back then they actually looked like animals! I had a grand collection. My daughters would have loved them. If only I'd known!

Excited to: go on a girls' weekend trip next week. One of my annual highlights, courtesy of my mother-in-law. 

Neglecting: the yard. We haven't kept up on our yard this year. Our lawn is half-dead, we have lots of weeds, and our tree needs trimming. 

Thankful for: kids who aren't sick!!! Eva and Zoe both had croup last week, and it was MISERABLE! Now that they are better, especially Eva, I am in awe at how magical they seem. They aren't crawling all over me and crying constantly. They play with toys, they eat snacks, and best of all, they are relatively happy children! These are the things you forget when they are sick. 

Looking forward to: decorating for fall. This is one of those things I used to love that depression took away from me.