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Monday, February 1, 2016

Motherhood Miracles

This Monday I am again participating in a weekly blog about Motherhood with some fellow mom bloggers.  While some of my posts have been light hearted, this one is very personal.  I hope you will enjoy reading about one of the MAJOR motherhood miracles I have experienced.

One of the things I didn't really understand or believe before having children was the "connection" a child has with their mother.  I read about special bonds that a mother would have with their child, and be skeptical about the validity.  I mean, these are just two separate beings, one just happened to grow in the other's belly, instead of an egg.  When I was pregnant with my first child, I marveled at the baby growing in my belly, and loved tracking his size relative to different fruits and vegetables.  As I got into my third trimester, and unable to walk very well, I would sit at my desk falling in love with the little kicks in my belly.  When people would jokingly ask me if I had moved all day, I would reply "Hey!  I grew an arm today.  What have YOU done.". 

In my second post about my life with a medical condition (hydrocephalus), I wrote about being nervous to tell my boyfriend (now husband) that I was not sure if I could have a successful pregnancy.  I wasn't sure because there was no data about women living with hydrocephalus who had had conceived and successfully delivered a baby.  The lack of information was surprising, since the treatment for hydrocephalus (a fluid regulator, also known as a shunt) had been around for over 50 years.  Surely during that time some hydrocephalic women had become pregnant or had tried to conceive.  But I found nothing, and neither did my doctor.  So when I found out I was pregnant, I felt like I had already experienced a miracle.  But that was not the only miracle I would experience about motherhood.

On my son's due date I went into labor, but ended up having an emergency C-section.  A week later my shunt failed, and my C-section incision became infected.  As I lay in an ICU room unconscious, my husband gave permission to my neurosurgeon to try a newer, slightly higher risk procedure on me.  This procedure (an ETV) would potentially relieve me of my shunt, and cure me of hydrocephalus.  So three weeks after giving birth to my first child, the ETV procedure was performed on me.  After the surgery, my body seemed to have remembered how to function without a shunt and was physically accepting the removal of the shunt.  Everything about the procedure had gone smoothly, and the pressure readings in my ventricles were reading normal.  But I was failing to turn around.  I wouldn't talk, I was always sleeping, and I wouldn't look at anyone.  When I asked my husband how he knew something wasn't right, he said that my eyes had lost their light.  My family and nursing staff was worried that I would not recover.  Then one of the nurses had an idea.  She asked my husband if he would be willing to bring our new born son into the room.  After he quickly responded "YES!", they made all of the arrangements necessary to safely bring a new born into the ICU.  The nurses then brought my son into the room and handed him to my husband.  As soon as I saw my son, my body physically reacted by lactating.  Then, when my husband laid my son next to me, I reacted.  I looked at him.  He looked at me.  As my son snuggled into my body, the light came back into my eyes.  I started smiling and talking.  My son, the son I lived 29 years unsure if I could even have, had reminded me that he needed me.  He reminded me that my purpose on this earth had not been fulfilled.  He reminded me that he needed his mother.  That he needed his mother back at home with him, strong and ready to raise him.

After seeing and holding my son, I was in the ICU for less than a week, and discharged from the hospital two days later.  The connection that my son and I had was undeniable.  He was just a few weeks old and I was barely conscious, and yet our bond was strong enough to provide healing. The day my son was brought into my room was the first of several motherhood miracles I would experience because of my children.

Thank you for letting me sharing this very personal story with you.  Please check out the my fellow mom bloggers' Motherhood Miracles:!blog/c7age

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Friday, January 29, 2016

7 Reasons to Major in Engineering

It's your senior year in high school, and you're trying to decide what to do with the rest of your life.  You know the next step is college, but what should you major in?  When I was 18, I wanted to be a pediatrician, but also knew that medical school was expensive and competitive to get into.  So, I asked my dad what I should major in that would pay decent, and would allow me to easily find a job when I graduated.  He told me Mechanical Engineering.  To some, engineering does not sound like an option because it seems limiting.  Want understand how UNlimiting an engineering degree is?  See my post "Why Major in Engineering?".  In the post I recall a conversation I had with a friend about staying with her current major.  My conversation got me thinking about other great reasons to major in engineering!

1.  There is a great variety of engineering degrees.  The three most engineering degrees people think of are mechanical, electrical, and chemical, but you might be surprised to learn how many degrees there are in engineering.  Some of them include:
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Manufacturing Engineering
  • Architectural Engineering
  • Computer Science Engineering
  • Materials Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Software Engineering
  • Ceramic Engineering
  • Metallurgical Engineering
  • Petroleum Engineering
  • Many other, more specialized engineering majors
 To learn more about each degree, visit

2.  Job opportunities.  When I graduated from college, I had 5 job offers in hand, during a slow economy.  Then when I reentered the workforce after having my first child in 2010, it took me two months to find a job.  I can tell you many stories where, even in a slow economy, engineering majors are able to find great paying jobs in a relatively short amount of time.  Why is this?  Supply and demand.  With the advancement of technology (and our love of a new version of everything every month), technical degrees are in high demand.  On the other side, there are not enough engineers graduating every year to fill the demand.  So, even when the economy is slow, engineering majors are able to find jobs because companies are trying to fill gaps that have been in their company for months.

3.  Career opportunities.  In my post "Why Major in Engineering", I told you about my friends and husband who have moved on from engineering into various different types of careers.  This is not to say they left engineering because they did not enjoy the work, but that a engineering degree leads to a variety of other careers that do no have specific undergraduate degrees (for example project management). A degree is Engineering can also lead to management positions.  According to, "33% of the S&P 500 CEOs' undergraduate degrees are in engineering and only 11% are in business administration.".  I don't think most people realize that a undergraduate degree in engineering is more likely to lead you to senior management than a undergraduate degree in business.

4.  Entrepreneurship!  According to an article by, advanced engineering degrees are three
times more likely to be CEOs and founders than MBA graduates. When comparing company leaders with only an undergrad education, "the number with degrees in business and engineering was about evenly split."

5.  Paid internships and co-ops.  College is expensive, even with scholarships and working a part time job, most students struggle to keep afloat.  While most majors provide internship opportunities, many of these are not paid!  The internships are just provided as an opportunity to put something on your resume.  This is not true for engineering degrees.  While I had scholarships and some money from my parents, I realized after my third semester that the money was running out.  So I applied for an internship as a 19 year old college student, and started making $15/hr!  While the internship gave me great experience, it was only two months long, and I needed more funds to finish up my degree.  This is when I decided to join the co-op program at my school, and spent three semesters working in two different locations for a more defense contractor.  The paid internships and co-ops allowed me to not work during the semesters I went to school, and to start my career with no debt and a few dollars in the bank.

6.  Lower requirements for graduate programs.  While I have not pursued an advanced degree, before I started college I thought I would be a doctor.  So my parents and I took a couple of trips to medical schools to understand what I would need to be accepted after college.  When I told them I was considering a major in engineering, they highly recommended it.  They told me that the GPA and GMAT requirements were often lower for engineering majors.  They told me the reason for lower requirements is because admissions at the school knew the rigorous engineering course work would prepare me for medical school.  Also, the problem solving skills learned from an engineering degree would teach me the way doctors approach a diagnosis, and, so, I would not have to be taught how to think.  This didn't make much sense to me at 18, but now, understanding how engineers are taught to think, it makes perfect sense!  So I was not surprised to learn that my kids' pediatrician was first an electrical engineer, and after about 5 years he decided to go to medical school.

7.  Great Starting Salaries!  Not that it should be the primary reason you base the decision on what you want to do with your life, but engineers do have the highest college graduate starting salaries, which is great for starting off life, and paying off loans!
According to an article by Think Advisor, below are the highest 10 engineering degree starting salaries:
     1.  Petroleum Engineering:$102,300
     2.  Chemical Engineering:  $69,600
     3.  Computer Engineering:  $67,300
     4.  Nuclear Engineering:  $67,000
     5.  Computer Science and Engineering:  $66,700
     6.  Electrical and Computer Engineering:  $66,500
     7.  Electrical Engineering:  $65,900
     8.  Aerospace Engineering:  $64,700
     9.  Electronics and Communications Engineering:  $64,100
     10.  Material Science and Engineering:  $64,000

Though I left the engineering field, I am still very glad I chose an engineering degree.  It changed how I approach problems, and gave me more opportunities than I could have imagined.  If you are not sure what you  want to be when you grow up (like most of us), I would encourage you to pursue engineering.  You never know what doors it will open!

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Motherhood Mistakes

This week I am participating in another Motherhood Mondays blog, and the theme is Motherhood Mistakes.  As moms we are all very hard on ourselves and wish we would mother differently or better.  Instead of thinking of all the ways I have failed my boys, I've decided instead to list the "mistakes" others have told me I am making with raising them.  I have not taken any of these personal, so please know this is all in jest.  Here is my list of 6 "mistakes" I have made with my boys:
    How tummy time went with my first son
  1. Not enough tummy time.  Tummy time.  Its ALL about tummy time in the first six months of a baby's life.  All the experts say that it is soooo important for your baby to have tummy time.  But when your baby is 3 months old, and all that he does during tummy time is cry and face plant directly into the carpet for 20 minutes, I say tummy time is not that important.  This is how it was with my first son.  We tried to do tummy time.  Everyone told us it was critical to his development.  But after an episode like I described earlier, I decided it wasn't that important for him.  I started looking at the body mechanics of it all, and decided that the size of his head and the smallness of his neck made it mechanically impossible for tummy time to succeed.  So, I nixed it.
  2. All babies must learn to crawl.  Since belly time didn't go well with my first son, I decided to not be so hopeful on crawling either.  And he never did crawl.  This is another aspect of my kid's development that supported the "his head is too big for his skinny little baby neck to support" theory of mine.  But the little guy still got around.  He figured out a way to use his arms and legs to "booty scoot" everywhere!  And don't worry.  He learned to walk as well.  And jump, and skip, and hop, and dance.  Lack of tummy time and crawling doesn't seem to have had an affect his physical development.
  3. No pacifier past a year old.  It will affect their speech! I was told this from many people.  But both my boys kept theirs well past one.  The older one seems to have ended up ok, but I may be messing up the second one.  But so far he seems to be talking like all the other two year olds around.
  4. Never let your baby sleep with you. Says the person who doesn't have a four month old screaming at 11pm and won't go back to sleep unless they're in your arms.  Getting my second son to sleep through the night was nearly impossible until he was almost 18 months old.  It started at birth when my milk didn't come in, and his tongue being tied down.  Once we passed that hurdle he started sleeping pretty well.  But suddenly at four months he would no longer sleep unless he was next to me.  Little did we know that he had four teeth all coming in at the same time.  I should have had a clue, as he used me for a chew toy for a week straight.
  5. Make sure they dress appropriate for the weather.  I say pick your battles.  My eldest loves wearing shorts.  In the rain. In 45 degree weather.  If I can actually convince him to wear long pants, then he compliments it with a spring jacket, in 30 degree weather.  My younger son's mantra is the less clothing the better.  So if I can get them to wear jackets, you know I'm not getting them to wear hats.  But its ok.  There are more important things for me to insist on (like how they treat others).  Plus, I've learned one way to get my boys to bundle up.  If Daddy wears it then, so will they.  So really my husband just needs to decide to wear a jacket and a hat. 

  6. Keep a newborn inside for the first 6 weeks.  I was at WalMart returning some stuff when my youngest was only about two weeks old.  While waiting in line, a lady in front of me turned around and asked how old he was.  When I told her he was two weeks old, she said "you really shouldn't have him out.  He's ways too young!"  Really?  I am pretty much incapable of staying at home all day.  This momma has to get out of the house!  Anyways, how else is he going to build up his immunities? 
So that's my list of the ways others have let me know I am messing up my kids.  I have my own personal list, but I am trying the best I know how to be a mom.  Someone once told me motherhood is about grace.  We are usually pretty good at handing out grace to our children, but we also need to give grace to ourselves.  Motherhood is both the best and hardest role in our lives.  My prayer each night is that God will make me the mother my boys need me to be.  If I make a mistake, I pray this prayer again, knowing I am God's child and he is still working on me.

Check out my fellow bloggers this week!!blog/c7age


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Why Major in Engineering?

Today I had lunch with a freshman at a major university who is considering changing majors from Engineering.  Her concern was not that the course load was too difficult. She graduated from one of the most competitive high schools in the state.  Her concern was not that she was one of only a few girls in her major.  Her concern was that she was limiting her opportunities by majoring in Engineering!  All she had heard at her university was tales of people who said they always knew they wanted to be an engineer.  That they loved taking apart things as a kid.  She was not this way, and I understood her concern.  While I was in engineering school, there were clubs for Rube Goldberg Machines and the Society of Automotive Engineers.  There was no club for singing, dancing, acting engineers, so I wasn't sure how I fit in.  But I had my big sister who encouraged me to stick with it, and ensured me that engineering wasn't all about being a grease monkey. 

And I gave my friend the same encouragement.  I told her that engineering was not limiting at all, and that in fact it opens more doors than most majors!  I told her that most of my closest friends from college where no longer working as Engineers specifically, but that a degree in engineering had opened many doors for them.  I told her about my friend who thought he wanted to teach high school, but then decided to become a Physical Therapist instead.  I told her about my friend who also taught high school math, but decided to go back to engineering at a major company.  This friend of mine moved from design work, to management, and is now six sigma black belt.  Another one of my friends was hired right out of college into a management program and moved over seas.  She decided to get her MBA and is now in business process management.  Both my husband and another friend, both degreed mechanical engineers, have moved onto project management.  Only one of my closest friends from college is still an engineer, working in product development.  I told her that employers do hire engineers for how they think, not what they know.  To get an engineering degree, you have to be able to teach yourself, and not have everything spoon fed to you.  So in the four (or in my case five) years you spend getting your degree, your thought processes and ability to handle difficult situations completely changes. 

When we encourage students to go into engineering, we need to talk more about the doors it opens than the cool things you can design. Realistically, not many engineers design.  There are very talented professional designers with two years of instructional classes on design that do a lot better
CAD/design work than an engineer who has only had one semester.  What engineers really do is work with people, trying to gain consensus and come to the best solution.  They are critical thinkers and decision makers, not people who are in the back of a lab doing experiments.  The critical thinking is why engineers are admitted into medical school and law school with lower GPAs than their class mates.  As I was told from a medical school I looked into, you do not have to teach an engineering major how to think.  They've already developed that skill in their undergraduate degree.

By the end of the conversation, the college freshman decided to stick with engineering.  Even though I have left the profession of engineering, I do not regret choosing it for my major.  Getting the degree taught me how to be persistent and to not give up (even when it seems failure is certain).  It showed me I could teach myself.  It taught me to not only consider my emotions in a decision, but to always keep the facts in mind.  Plus, the engineering degree gave me a pretty comfortable living even though I still haven't figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

You can also find this post and other great posts at:

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Motherhood Misconceptions

During my first pregnancy, I dreamt of what motherhood would look like.  I had many great examples growing up, from my own mother, to my many aunts, and both of my grandmothers.  I dreamt of afternoons in the park with picnic lunches and hours of playing on the swings.  I thought of long conversations while sitting outside and eating ice cream.  I imagined Friday night movie nights, with us all watching a fun movie we all enjoyed.

Then I had my first kid, a boy.  I loved him so much, and continued to make plans and have dreams.  Since I worked long days, there were few afternoons in the park and picnic lunches, but movie nights were pretty fun.  Then I had my second son.  And all the bubbles burst!  I had realized that I had mislead myself in several ways as to what motherhood would be like. 
  • "Boys are easier than girls!":  This is an outright lie!  When I found out my first child was to be a son, A LOT of people told me boys were easier than girls.  Well, as a mother of two boys, I'm still waiting for this to be true.  To illustrate my point, let me give you an example of one of my evenings out.  A couple of years ago we went to a really nice restaurant for my mom's birthday.  While my sister's daughters (one which is only 8 months older than my son) sat nicely with their coloring books, my son and I spent more than half the night in the bathroom, trying to get him to sit down and be calm.  If boys seem to be easier than girls, I think its just that by the time girls get hard, you're so used to getting after your boy, it seems like he's easier.  He's not.  You're just used to dealing with it.
  • "Good, consistent discipline will easily correct my kid's behavior":  I knew that as a parent I would need to correct my child.  I knew that I would need to help my kids understand the differences between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.  I didn't count on how many times I would have to correct my child on the SAME behavior.  There are days I feel like I tell my kids to calm down a thousand times, and nothing changes.  There are days I feel like I finally get through to them, only to have the behavior show up a day later.  These are the times I remind myself that parenthood is a marathon (see my post about my #motherhoodmatras!), and to be patient.  My sons need an example of love and patience if I am expect them to have these same characteristics.
  • "Motherhood will not change me.  My life will be the same with kids":  I was sooooo wrong on this one.  I lived my life prior to kids my way.  I never let anyone really affect me or rock my self confidence.  I saw children the same way.  Though people told me I would change, I really couldn't understand why they would.  I don't think you can really understand how children will change you until you have them.  Prior to kids, I didn't care how much travel my job required.  Prior to kids, I would spend my nights binge watching anything I wanted.  Prior to kids, I tried to find different ways to keep myself busy.  Once I had kids everything changed!  The important things didn't (like the importance of my husband), but I no longer wanted to travel, and my nights were spent focusing on my family.  My life became full of raising my children with my husband.  My career was no longer my focus, only something that provided a comfortable living for my family.  As I stated in my post "Life Experiment",  we need to allow our dreams to change, to allow ourselves and our spouses to change.  The reality is life experiences change us.  We should not fight the change, but allow it to happen.
Motherhood is wonderful and difficult.  It can be ugly and beautiful.  It has changed me in ways I never expected.  But in those moments when I see the men God is changing them into, and knowing I have had a hand in that change makes the not so fun times worth it.  I love my "little men", and feel lucky to be able to watch them grow up.

For other Motherhood Misconceptions, visit these great blogs!


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Motherhood Mantras

My last job as an engineer was as a project engineer working on million dollar equipment with 4 year time lines.  After equipment design was complete, I also led the manufacturing of the equipment at the shop.  I also made sure I was available during construction and start up of the equipment to address any issues that arose.  In the last year in the position, I trained two young engineers who would eventually replace me during maternity leave.  As they became more familiar with job, I kept reminding them "This job is a marathon, not a sprint!".  Well, as I've learned in the last year or so since deciding to stay home, Motherhood is a marathon and not a sprint.  To keep myself inspired and not defeated, I have adopted several mantras:

1.  The first I have already told you. "Motherhood is a marathon, not sprint!" I will never be finished (at least not in the short term) raising my children.  There are times I think "Ok.  I think he gets it now.  He will definitely not break that rule again."  Then, a week later, he's testing the boundaries again.  During these times I try to remember what I am trying to teach him at the higher level.  I try to remember that its not about him breaking that specific rule, but that he needs to learn to follow rules to function in society.  I cannot give up teaching my kids the lessons they need to learn in childhood.  I must persevere and continue the marathon.

2.  "I am raising men, not boys". Sometimes I think that my expectations of my kids are too high.  I expect my two year old to put his clothes in the laundry basket, and eat what I cook for dinner.  I expect my 5 year old to clear and set the table, clean his plate and put it in the dishwasher, and to have self control.  Getting a two and five year old to do what I expect them to do often feels like an effort in futility.  It is at these frustrating moments that I remind myself that if I don't have these expectations of my children, then I am enabling them to be lazy grown ups.  I am trying to raise two independent, self-sufficient men, not two baby boys for life.

3.  "Parenthood is a partnership".  Being the parent that stays at home and "sees" everything, it is easy to want to step in every time the other parent parents your child.  But I have learned that there are some things that my boys can not/will not learn from me.  I have learned there are some things that only Daddy can teach them.  The first time I realized this was when I was potty training my oldest.  I read several books and methods, and decided I would do the "3 day, underwear only, potty training bootcamp".  Well it worked like a charm for #1, and by the second day we had no messes for #1.  #2 was something different.  My son actually thought it was FUNNY to go in his underwear, and would laugh when I discovered his present in his pants.  I tried bartering, I tried better prizes, I tried a sticker chart, but nothing worked.  Then my husband took him for a few hours.  By himself.  The first time my son left a present for Daddy, my husband told him "This is not funny.  This is not what big boys do.  Daddy does not do this".  And that was it.  No more accidents.  So I learned that it takes both of us to teach these boys.  I have to remember to let my husband to be the parent too.

4.  "My house does not need to be perfect".  When I decided to stay home, I had grand thoughts about how my home would be spotless.  No dishes would ever be left in the sink, the floors would be clean, and clothes would never sit in a laundry basket for 3 days.  For about two months, this was true.  But then I remembered why I wanted to be home.  It was to be with my children, not to have the perfect house.  So I let things go, and spent more time focusing on my kids.  Now, I'm not saying my house is a complete mess.  I do pick up toys everyday and expect all clothes to be in the laundry basket at the end of the day.  Every bathroom gets cleaned once a week, and the kitchen counters are wiped down every day.  But clean clothes still hang out in the laundry basket for too long, and I would definitely not eat off my floors.  I found there is an important balance to keeping a clean house, and creating a home for my family.

5.  "Make sure they know I love them".  Love is the most important thing in the world.  If you reprimand a child without love, they will eventually tune you out.  I know it is my job to teach my children right from wrong, and to make sure they will be functioning adults someday.  But it is equally important they know that no matter what, their mother and father will always love them.  That kind of love will give them the confidence to go out in the world, and follow the path God has set before them.

These are the five mantras I remind myself of while trying to be the mother these boys need me to be.  What are the motherhood mantras you use?

For other Motherhood Mantras, visit:


Monday, December 28, 2015

An Explosive View of A Dinosaur!

In an earlier post I recommended a Battat take apart toys so kids become familiar with tools and assembling things.  Another toy I found that helps with the same skills is the Create a Dino triceratops.  We bought this totally out of chance at a Christmas shopping trip to Marshalls.  Our son LOVES triceratops, so we knew he would love it. 

And so arrives Christmas day, and as predicted, he loved it!  Not only was it a toy of his favorite dinosaur, but something he could use a "power" tool and build.  He opened the box and got to it.  First he started with disassembling the dinosaur using the provided drill.  He was doing pretty good, but at some point got stuck at removing the head.  This is the conversation I had with him:

     Me: Have you read the instructions?
     My son: *grabs the schematic in the picture. "Can you help me take off the head?"
     Me: "I don't think the head comes off"
     My son: "Yes it does, see" as he points to the part of the exploded view drawing that says it does..."

You see, unlike a Lego kit or other "follow the instructions" toys, this toy did not include step by step instructions on how to take apart the toy.  It simply provided a drawing (which you can see in the picture) of how to assemble the dinosaur.  In the engineering drafting world, this is called an exploded view of the drawing.  Usually these are provided to engineers and mechanics as an overall depiction of how to construct something (machinery, piping system, structures, etc.).  They are usually accompanied with detailed step by step instructions, because most people have difficulties reading these types of drawings and determining what to do first.  But kids are different.  They don't see that everything has to be done in the same sequential order all the time.  They don't know that this drawing should be difficult to read, so my 5 year old just saw it the same way he saw the instructions for his Lego; as the instructions on how to play with his toy. 

If triceratops is not your kid's favorite dinosaur, the toy  is also available as a tyrannosaurus rex and stegosaurus.

Enjoy watching your kid be an engineer!