Sunday, March 27, 2011

Silver Lining

Friday's message from the Dean:

Congratulations! Your requests for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor were approved by the Board of Visitors today. Let me take this opportunity to thank you for your work on behalf of our students and to encourage you to continue your efforts to help our students be more successful.


I guess last week a good week, after all. Tenure... Promotion... Department Chair... Hey... two out of three ain't bad! If this was baseball, I'd be a rockstar.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

BabyWatch3 | 16 wks

Baby? What Baby?
No... we haven't forgotten that we're expecting a baby. In truth, there just hasn't been a whole lot to say. Baby number 3 isn't developing any differently than the first two, and we feel like we're pretty much experts on that part now. With that said, however, we do still check out the updates on occasion, not to mention checking out old blog entries to see if we have a grape, banana or a lemon. As for mom... Physically, things are finally starting to change. Still very minimal weight gain (2 pounds?) but her tummy shape is definitely starting to change (become firmer and rise a bit). Emotionally, I think that it was admittedly a bit depressing for her when the 2nd trimester officially hit and the nauseau and other annoying symptoms didn't disappear like they did the first two times around. If anything, the headaches seem to have amplified in strength and frequency. But everyday is still just a tad bit better (well... for the most part... because then she'll have days like today where the misery all comes back 10-fold)... and so I'm thankful that she's been able to do what she can to still maintain her sanity and endure... because lord knows that I'm no help. I learned two pregnancies ago that now is not the time for cliche rally speeches like, hang in there kiddo, you're doing great. Yep, that'll get a frying pan hurled at you in a heartbeat as she screams, "easy for you to say!" at the top of her lungs. Okay... so she didn't scream at me and she didn't throw a frying pan... it was just a small kettle... and the water inside wasn't totally boiling yet... but that's not the point! The point is that we are indeed hanging in there and still in hope that things will get better for my lovely wife sooner than later.

We have our 3rd doctor's appointment today, so we'll see what they have to say about it all.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Verdict

He got the swing votes... and then some. And just like that, life moves on.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Ok... Just shoot me now. While I've been kicking around the idea for the past 6 months or so, I am now officially on the clock: I have 24 hours until I find out if I have been elected Chair of the math department at the University. Ugh, the agony of waiting. I almost blazed a trail in the carpet at work today as I paced back and forth through the office hallways trying to burn off nervous energy. At 1:30pm tomorrow, the cat will be out the bag and I will either be the next department chair, or I'll be in the faculty parking lot throwing tomatoes and slashing tires. Just kidding... I would never throw tomatoes.

Seven random thoughts about this process:
  1. The toughest part of deciding to run was knowing that it would likely spell less time at home with the family in the months to come. That's especially troubling given that baby #3 is on the way. But in truth, we've gotta pay for this lifestyle and desire for a big family and a stay-at-home mom somehow. So, something has to give. At the end of the day, it just means that we will have to do everything we can to make sure that V is properly supported at home in my absence. She's still not sold on the idea of having a helper (nanny?) of some sort come by the house to help on occasion... but we've at least agreed to move forward, knowing that (a) this is probably best for our family, (b) best for my department, and (c) we'll figure out how to make it work like we do everything else.

  2. I feel like I have a really good idea of what good leadership looks like and a million ideas as to how to better guide our department towards being successful. From that perspective I have to admit that I'm very excited about the prospect of this leadership role. With so many things that I want to do, I don't think I'll even know where to start. I suspect that the hardest part of my first six months as Chair would be learning how to pace myself. With that in mind, at some point it hit me that, while it may seem noble on the surface to have declined having my name on the ballot; it would actually have been the selfish thing to do. Accepting a nomination and at least presenting myself as an option for the department is bigger than my personal comfort zone. That's counterintuitive, and it took me a while, but I get that now.

  3. If one thing is for sure, it's that the idea of so much responsibility makes me very nervous. But I like what Pastor said when I talked to him about it 2 weeks ago. In so many words, he said to be more concerned if that nervousness goes away. Absence of that feeling usually means overconfidence in our own abilities in the sense that we may have let ourselves get in the way of God's plan and the pursuit of what is right. Likewise, that may explain why I am usually suspicious of those who seek leadership positions overzealously; as that can be an indication of an agenda that is laced with more personal agenda than team initiative.

  4. Leaders don't always step up to lead "when the timing is right". In fact, I'm willing to guess that most good leaders didn't feel ready for their leadership opportunity when it first presented itself; but rather they simply felt obligated to step up because there was a need to be met. That inability to sit still despite themselves when they know that they could make a difference is ironically what qualified them as a good leader to begin with. This line of thinking is what I've kept in mind over the past 2 weeks in order to propel me to where I am now. Because as uncertain as I feel about whether this is what I want to do; I feel an equal obligation to my colleagues to at least allow them (not me) decide.

  5. If I am elected, that will at least help explain why I have not been able to leave the University over the past 7 years (because Lord knows I've tried). With so many attempts at other employment opportunities falling short over the years (the most recent just 3 weeks ago); V and I have always wondered if my stay here was a "your job here is not done" kind of scenario. I don't know, and I guess I'll never really know... but it sure sounds reasonable.

  6. V is a little worried about how I'll take it if I lose. I forget exactly how she phrased it, but she said something along the lines of how this would be the most significant position that I've ever sought. And so she thinks that the disappointment will be grave. However, I honestly think I'll be cool with it. For one, running against the incumbent automatically makes me the underdog; and that's always an easier position to be in. I also think that my humility will make accepting defeat pretty easy. Besides, I'll be the first to tell you that people have plenty of reasons not to vote for "that young kid that's only been here a handful of years." Take your pick: He's too outspoken, too young, too unsophisticated, inexperienced... did I mention too outspoken? I definitely have a "love him or hate him" working relationship with most of my colleagues. The point is, if I don't win, I suspect I'd be pretty understanding.

  7. On a more positive note, I've been running some numbers in my head... there's 20 faculty members in our department, and since we need a majority vote; the first candidate to get eleven votes wins. As I run down the names in my head, I think I could list 9 faculty members that would be more likely to vote for me than the incumbent. Conversely, I can think of exactly 4 that will almost definitely vote for the incumbent. For those keeping score at home, that leaves 7 undecided votes... Seven people that can really go either way. So here's the positive spin: Of those 7, I only need TWO to win the race to eleven. On the other hand, the incumbent would need all 7 in order to get up to (4+7 equals) eleven. Recap: I need 2. He needs 7...

    I like my odds... But before jumping the gun, I'm brought back to reality by two obvious facts: Firstly, the odds of him getting those other seven votes are really not that bad. The truth is, they may not be "swing votes" at all... but they might be more objectively titled as, "seven people more likely to vote for him despite my hope that they'd vote for me instead." Secondly, I'll never forget the story of a friend who ran for a similar position and only got a total of 3 votes despite about 5 people saying, "I voted for you!". My point is that those 9 votes I talked about are anything but a done deal. People are funny. And sometimes you honestly don't know how the chips will truly fall once push comes to shove. The good news is, for us, push will come to shove in exactly 24 hours and the waiting game will be over.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Mute Button

A few days ago, Justin lost his voice for about 24 hours. This quick bout with laryngitis was probably a side effect of the cold symptoms that he has been battling, in conjunction with some underlying asthmatic conditions. And like any good parent, we wanted him to make a speedy recovery... well... a good part of us did, anyway. The other part just couldn't help but to sit back... grin... and bask in this beautiful moment. Justin Alexander.... silenced. Even if only momentarily. Nothing short of a miracle. And certainly our guilty pleasure of the month. Because, good Lord, every other day of the year the boy is just... NONSTOP. Show me another kid that talks as much as he does, and I'll show you another set of parents in need of medication a vacation.

Granted, with all of his chatter comes a lot of laughs and cherishable moments for our family. Yet and still, one thing is for sure: In Justin's personal book of friends and foes, silence is clearly the enemy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Training Wheels

So I go to Toys R Us to pick up Justin's new bike... I lug it to the cash register, lift it for the cashier to scan... and proceed to give him the evil eye once he rings it up and tells me a price that I know has to be too high (thank God for mental math).

Me: What?! That can't be right.
Cashier: Oh yeah, it's $10 extra for assembly.
Me: But it was already assembled.
Cashier: Exactly. We charge $10 for all of our bikes. Once we get them, we assemble them so that you can ride right out the store with them.
Me: ... Well, then find me one still in the box.

To me, that's a scam. If you charge it on every bike, then put it on the price tag. Besides... Call me cheap. Call me a penny pincher. But there's no way I'm paying $10 for someone to snap 4 pieces of metal together and tighten 3 screws when I've got 2 little elves at home that'll do the job for a handful of cookies and half a banana.

Off to the races.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

BabyWatch3 | 13 wks

Mommy sez:
I have had very mixed feelings during this pregnancy. When I am feeling the symptoms in full effect (nausea, headaches, extreme fatigue, yuckiness) I feel like I never want to be pregnant again! I keep telling Jerome to get ready to adopt the rest of our children and I really do mean that. However, women at work keep telling me to hang in there. They say that the second trimester is better (energy comes back, nausea goes away) and that once the baby is born, the pure joy will make me want another... We'll see. I am taking it one day at a time, but this has to be the longest 3 months of my life!


Daddy sez:
Even though she is feeling the same way today, lucky for us, mommy wrote that journal entry while she was pregnant... with Justin. Hang in there mommy. The light at the end of that tunnel may not be a train after all.