Thursday, December 11, 2014


Here's my special announcement!

A couple of months ago I sent a pattern to They wrote back saying they thought I was crazy, but they loved it. It's published now!!

If you are looking for a skirt to wear on Pi Day (3/14/15) next year, go find your needles!!! STAT!

Saturday, December 06, 2014

How My School Stuff is Going

I don't know whether to call this bootcamp a "school" since when I tell people I'm going to school full-time, they imagine midterms and finals and breaks between classes. This is 9-5 M-F. You don't do those types of hours in high school (you get out by 3!) and you don't do those types of hours in college (classes when you feel like scheduling them and sometimes whole afternoons or mornings with no classes!). Even when I worked, I worked at an elementary school I didn't have a 9-5 schedule. I think maybe calling it "job training" is more accurate? I don't know. It's a programming bootcamp.

I think it's going well, despite my own inner battles about identity and purpose. I have a bit of a leg up in that I've taken Intro to Programming classes in a couple of different languages before. I know a bit of the vocabulary and I'm a pretty mean google searcher. No really, I'm a fabulous google searcher. It's why I tried applying to the 100 Hour Board at BYU back in the day. If there was "Professional Google Searcher" career, I'd be running Google Search conferences.

This week we were assigned mentors. I met mine on Monday and we did get some "get to know each other" chat in, but it was also loud at the mentor event and so I think I'll know more about our mentor/mentee relationship as it progresses.

In class we have a main project that we all work on individually with the same specs as each other. There are also warm up exercises with some algorithmic practice work. Also, we have to develop an app of our own design and purpose. I have an idea of what I want mine to be and I've already contacted a couple of companies about their APIs.

The majority of the Colorado class that graduated recently have gotten jobs in the past two weeks. It's a little bit of hope that we'll be in the black after paying for the bootcamp and the nannies. I know whatever future income I do have will cover childcare for the kids, but the fact that we're paying for childcare while I'm not bringing in income means it'll be tight for the next 4 months. Looking forward to April.

Homeschooling while being gone full time is going great, too. We still need Margaret to produce samples of work for the charter school and those aren't being done at the ideal rate, but at least my unschooling mind is totally fine with her not having structured schooling. One of the nannies this week mentioned how much of a sponge Margaret is about everything. She wants to know all the things! Isaac has been picking up a little Spanish. And Linda has been busy learning English.

Meanwhile I'm still juggling a few things. McKay thinks I need to drop at least one of them (ok- he thinks I should drop a lot more). I actually think I'm going to drop being the email-sender for my visiting teaching group. I kind of already dropped the ball on that this month anyway. I try to finish all my classwork at school and not bring it home and I've been successful in that so far. When I do bring it home, it's usually a tough problem and after the kids are in bed, I ask McKay to listen to me talk it out, "So I have this, and then I do this and this and I want this... Oh." Problem solved.

I was listening to this this Marly Bird episode and they were talking about how having limitations imposed on you helps your creativity more than having total freedom. I think having time restraints actually helps me be more productive. I have to prioritize the things that are important and I get more done. Of course "more" does not include laundry or cooking or tidying; that's why I have McKay!

ALSO- I have a big announcement next week! At least, I hope it's next week. If not, it'll be the week after. I'm so excited and I just can't hide it. But it also makes me nervous and I want to hide in a hole and pretend it's not happening at the same time as wanting to share it. Putting yourself out there is hard, yo. I'll be announcing it everywhere, so if you follow me here or on other social media, you won't miss it.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

November Shmovember

I promised on Twitter that I would do a life update this weekend. So here I am!

I have just completed my third week of the bootcamp. I am keeping my head above water and I think it helps that I've taken programming classes in the past and that my brain thinks in math-y/science-y ways. In fact, a couple of weeks before class started, I took my kids to the park, trying to get as much park time with them as possible before I'd start being gone full-time. I remember watching Linda walk across a bridge at the park and thinking, "I remember that's not a parabola, but a catenary." And then I laughed at myself that even as a SAHM taking my kids to the park, I can't not think about math. It was a sign that I needed to be in tech somehow and reaffirmed the decision to do this coding bootcamp.

Now, while I'm keeping my head above water, I'm still learning lots of things and it doesn't all come easily. I'm still unsure if I'll be ready to be a full-on developer in just 6 months (is that really possible?) but I'm ready to be surprised.

The kids have gotten used to the nanny routine. Because his workplace is just a mile away, McKay goes to work after I've left in the morning and he comes home before I get home, so I don't get to interact with the nannies directly to ask if Linda had a nap and how things went. I'm having to let go a lot of control. McKay has been fabulous in picking up all the slack. He's now doing all the laundry and cooking and kids stuff. To be honest, I feel like I'm not doing much except for grocery shopping and nursing, nursing, nursing. When I get home, Linda wants to make up for our lost time by cluster nursing all evening. This means I can't get any programming done at home and I don't get a lot of knitting time. Alas!

Also on the breastmilk front is pumping at school. The instructors were very accommodating in finding a private room that is not a bathroom for me to pump. I only pump at lunch and only do it for myself. Linda doesn't "need" the milk like an infant would; I pump so that I don't get clogged ducts or mastitis. I do leave the milk in the fridge for Linda to have the next day in a cup at lunch, but she doesn't always drink it. In fact, Isaac is the one who probably drinks more of it. Margaret asked to try it, but decided she didn't like it. Ha!

I use a cheap hand pump that I bought a year ago when I was pumping for an adopted baby. I'm able to get 4-5 ounces in about 10 minutes, which is great success especially considering that I'm 21 months postpartum. Not bad at all! Since Linda doesn't drink it all, I've considered donating it to the San Jose Mother's Milk Bank, but that means having to buy storage bags and I haven't gotten around do doing that.

Other life updates? We put an offer on a house a couple weeks ago, but it was turned down. The owner thinks she can get another 100k for it, which we can't offer. Oh well.

Trick-or-treating by bike! The glowing shawls are knit with reflective thread which is shining due to the flash on the camera.
This weekend we are going to start applying for a kindergarten for Isaac. Margaret is still on wait-lists for schools. I think Isaac will actually have an easier time getting into a kindergarten, which should bump Margaret up on the lists for having a sibling in a school. On the other hand, I'm really liking that Margaret can still homeschool while we are both gone all day. She has a lot of classes and opportunities she wouldn't get in school. If I do get a developer job at the end of this, maybe I'll make enough to hire a full-time nanny and keep homeschooling. And next year, we'll get money for Isaac to take classes. How fun would it be for them to take fun classes together?!
Linda as a cat. And McKay.

I can't see that far in advance, though. Just one week at a time. My plans for NaNoWriMo are going to be unfulfilled because of class. Maybe I'll do it next year. Enjoy the Halloween pictures!

Squid Girl and Spider-man

Also, since I'm not updating much here, you can find me on Instagram and Twitter as TopHat8855. I'm also blogging at the Exponent on the first Friday of each month. Here's yesterday's post. I'll still try to post here when I can. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ghost Cats

Quick question Internet:

I have a baby who likes to pretend to be a cat (meowing, crawling, etc), so we thought, "Let's make her a cat for Halloween!" We already have cat ears and can make a tail. But we don't have black pants/shirt.

HOWEVER, whenever we say, "Halloween" she pretends to be a ghost going, "OOOooooOOO" while wearing a blanket.

So... She's 21 months and doesn't really understand Halloween to tell us, "This is what I want my costume to be." What would you have her be? Getting a white sheet for a ghost costume will be about as easy/cost effective as a simple black shirt.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Another life update

So things are slowly coming together. We've secured 2 nannies to split up the weeks taking the kids to their things. That will last through December. One nanny is a close friend and the other is another unschooling mom. I'd like to keep it going through next "semester" to, but just in case, I've been touring schools/day cares.

Because of having no car, we are limited to schools that are either 1)close to our house, or 2) close to McKay's work. There is one school near us and I toured it this week. It's the school I see all the neighborhood kids walking to. Well, it's the school I see all the brown kids walking to. I don't know where the white kids go. I mentioned to my friend who works there, "So Margaret would be the only white kid?" And she said that there's another white kid in the school. This boggles my mind because we definitely have more white kids in our neighborhood than just 1. Well, of our neighbors that are Margaret's age, one goes to a private school and the other goes to a charter school across town, so I guess that's where the white kids go. This school I toured was a charter school (public school is too far away) and so there's a wait list I put Margaret on it.

I still have to tour the two schools near McKay's work. One is a public school, but it's not an Oakland public school. The other is a charter.

Yesterday I toured a daycare for Isaac and Linda. It's nice and play-based. They warned me it's not heavy in academics and I guess some people prefer academics? I'm ok with not pushing academics on my 1 year old and 4 year old! I like it, but again it has a wait list and I don't know how long it'll be until there's a space.

So at least we are covered until January. We'll be still homeschooling and our nannies/babysitters will be taking Margaret to Spanish class and Lego class and such.

Isaac is now 4 so he got to start Hacker Sparks with Margaret, and the Waldorf class we had Margaret in last year is allowing both Isaac and Margaret to go even though neither are kindergarten-aged. They'll love it. That starts next week.

Oh, and I did a triathlon last Sunday. I never got to the "I can't do this anymore" point, but I was being really lazy in the swimming and running sections. I did the bike as hard as I could, but I just didn't care about the others.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Life Changes

I think I've hinted that big changes have been on their way. Well, they are. And I've signed a contract this morning assuring that they'll happen.

I think in the last post, I mentioned having occasional existential crises from time to time. I've felt stuck for not having much of a resume and not knowing how to get myself out of that hole.

In fact, a lot of the prenatal depression that I had with Linda's pregnancy was due to the fact that I had signed up for a class that summer and was planning on working on getting out of that lack-of-resume hole, only to find out that I was pregnant and I had no idea how to fit that in with my goals.

After Linda was born, I took some free classes on Coursera: organic chemistry, financial planning, environmental studies, Python. After completing the Python class, I had a birthday (yay 28!) and decided to give myself 2 years to finish up some knitting patterns I wanted to publish and other personal projects. Then when I turned 30, I'd apply for some coding bootcamps or get involved in computer programming in other ways and eventually enter the workforce.

In a particular slump this summer, I decided to just peruse available coding bootcamps and saw that there was one that fit me particularly well. It wouldn't start for a while, I could work out money to pay for it, and I was the perfect candidate! I applied. Then I got an email asking for an interview, so I interviewed. Unfortunately the interview went poorly, almost from the get-go. We just did not mesh.

So I expected the rejection email, but it didn't change the disappointment of actually seeing it in my inbox. There were tears. The hopelessness of never getting out of SAHM-ness was confirmed.

Meanwhile, I had a friend just return from living abroad who had done a bootcamp. She encouraged me to go to a front-end workshop in the city on a Saturday with her. She also sent me information on another bootcamp on a random Friday afternoon. I filled it out just to do something and didn't expect much.

But the next week I got an interview, and this time I knew I had impressed them. I knew I'd get the acceptance email and I was silently panicking on the way home from the interview- so much, in fact, that I took the wrong BART and had to get off and on again to get home.

This particular bootcamp had more complications than the other. Instead of not starting for a while, this one starts in October. Instead of being 10 weeks long, this one is 6 months. Both bootcamps are full-time in the city, M-F, 9-5.

Meanwhile, we were having issues with our homeschool charter and applying for others. Would we have to find an actual school now? Would the daycare have openings for our kids?

Right now the plan is to get a nanny who will take Margaret to her classes and we'll keep homeschooling. That's actually turning out to be cheaper than paying for daycare for the 2 younger kids. I'll still tour some schools and daycares because our nanny of choice won't be able to help us out beyond December. She also can only do a few days a week, so we need to find another part-time nanny for the other days. We did switch homeschool charters and found one which will pay for Spanish classes and maybe even some other classes.

This is where unschooling is great. I wouldn't expect a nanny to do any schooling with my kids; a nanny isn't a tutor! But since we don't have a specific curriculum anyway, then there's no worry about Margaret getting her schoolwork done.

Breastfeeding-wise, Linda is 20 months, so if she nurses less often, she's going to be ok. The biggest concern is my own comfort. After that Saturday workshop in the city, I was in pain! I'm probably going to pump a little during the lunch hour just so I don't get mastitis.

I don't know what's going to happen come January. And I don't know what's going to happen when the course finishes in April.

If you got through all of this, congrats! Here's a picture of Isaac. Aww...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Why I don't post about 9/11

CW: intrusive thoughts

I don't think I've ever blogged on or around 9/11 and there's a reason for that. I didn't know anyone in New York or DC. I was a sophomore in high school. But the aftermath of 9/11 was the first big time that intrusive thoughts plagued me.

It's weird having thoughts you don't want and not being able to do anything about it. I couldn't even explain them to you other than that it was highly distracting and sometimes almost escapist. Like daydreaming gone very awry? I don't know.

When the first anniversary of 9/11 was approaching, I realized that what was going on in my mind was getting out of hand and I needed to tell someone. I told my parents. They just told me that it would probably go away over time and figured that the looming anniversary was the cause. Once that passed, it'd go away.

And that sort of is what happened... except that intrusive thoughts didn't go away, they were just less 9/11-related and more related to other issues, usually my own failings. There was a time after I did something that I thought was really horrible, that I kept having suicidal thoughts even though death scares the bejeebus out of me and I wouldn't actually do it or plan it. But can I tell you how scary it is to have thoughts like that that you can't control? Then in college, the intrusive thoughts were more about how I'm not good enough to be in my classes and everyone is going to find out I'm an impostor, even though I really did earn my place. I kind of have a never-ending story of how I'm just never going to be good enough going on in the background.

And this story doesn't even have a "and then I got help and things are better" happy ending because I haven't. I haven't seen anyone about it. And when I recently went to the doctor for a regular check-up and mentioned mood things, I didn't really have symptoms diagnosable as actual depression or anxiety. So who knows? Exercise helps a little. Yay biking! My other coping mechanism is to keep myself so busy that I don't have time to think about anything.

Anyway, 9/11 is a big trigger for me and just reminds me that I don't really have control of my own brain and emphasizes my inadequacy as a human being. I don't really post about it and I don't read about it.

I'll post more news soon. Things are happening around here.