I Wasn’t a Feminist Until I Had Daughters

You would think as a advanced degree holding Mechanical Engineer I would also automatically be a card carrying feminist. Well it may be true now, but it wasn’t a few years ago.  Sure I chose a profession that was predominantly male but it was only because I always liked finding out how things worked.  Sure my classes in college (*cough* 20 year ago) were on average 15% female but the male students never treated me differently (ok there was flirting but hey it was college).  Sure, I still go to conferences or work with larger companies and I’m surrounded by mostly men.  BUT, I can’t say I ever felt strongly discriminated against.  The men have treated me like what I am, another engineer.

Now, working at a tiny company and not having to deal with hoards of male engineers and managers all day I can say that I’m lucky.  I know women who have had to deal with a lot of crap STILL in this industry so I’m not saying that discrimination isn’t out there, just that I haven’t had to deal with it.  Plus, I married a man who I feel truly thinks of me as his equal.  This meant that I could stay in my little bubble and not have to think about it.

Then I had daughters…

Having daughters changed everything.  Suddenly all the sexist things that I had ignored were a big deal.  The parade of pink useless toys down every “girl” toy aisle was appalling.  The movies marketed to my kids were full of anti-feminist messages.  I discovered a shortage in good STEM books that would appeal to and inspire young girls.  The older my daughters got, the more of an outspoken feminist I became (and the more my blog posts moved away from the fluffy kid stuff).  I knew to ignore the often subtle sexist messages but would my daughters?  Or would they grow up feeling just not quite as smart/strong/funny/equal to a man?

So I’m not actually a card carrying member of the ACLU but I am one of SWE (Society of Women Engineers) and I’ve started a Girl Scout troop (with my awesome husband) where we focus on more than crafts and fluffy stuff but throw in a lot of science and girl power lessons.

And most importantly, I tell my girls every day how smart and strong and clever and funny and wonderful they are.  They are our next generation of leaders and I want to see them excel.

I wasn’t a feminist before I had daughters, but now I would proudly shout it from the roof tops if it helps them to be successful both in their professional and (almost more importantly) personal lives.

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Filed under Engineering, Female Empowerment, Girl Scouts, Motherhood, parenthood, STEM

Things I Learned on a Trip to New York City

I recently took a trip with some girl friends to New York to visit a friend who moved there (or to New York City adjacent).  It was my 1st trip to The Big Apple (it’s been on my Bucket List for years) and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see it with someone who actually knew her way around.  I would have gotten lost so many times in the subway system if it wasn’t for her!

I made a few observations as we wandered around the city:

1.  There are sections of the city you don’t want to take a stroller, especially during the holidays (I was kid free, wohoo!).  We visited Rockafeller Center two weeks before Christmas.  Even on a Sunday night it was nuts balls there.  Like shoulder to shoulder, inching along the road number of people.  There were people attempting to push strollers through that madness.  One lady had a double!!  Not only is it going to be really difficult to go anywhere, its dangerous with that many people surrounding you.  I think a kid could have been taken out of a stroller and the parent wouldn’t know for blocks.  Put your kid in a front pack, on your shoulders, in your arms.  Anything but try to push a giant stroller through 1,000 people.

2.  At Tiffany’s, even the cheapest thing is still expensive.  But so pretty…

Tiffany

3.  So many people, so many germs.  Germs germs everywhere.  EVERYWHERE!!  Pack a lot of hand sanitizer.

4.  It’s really disturbing to see people taking smiling selfies at the World Trade Center memorial.  Just don’t.

5.  When you get a precious seat on the subway you will automatically be perfectly positioned at crotch height for the guy standing in front of you.  Thank goodness for phones so you can stare at them instead.

6.  Perspective is interesting.  New York City is full of some crazy tall buildings but when your standing next to them, even One World Trade Center, it’s not that impressive.

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7.  Unlike popular belief, the city is not over-run by rats bigger than dogs.  I didn’t see a single one.

8.  Make sure to check the museum collections before visiting.  I missed a bunch of famous paintings at The Met that I didn’t know were even there until after I left.  Boo.

I did get to see this beauty.

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9.  I don’t know if there is a name for having a fear of walking over grates (sewer, ventilation, subway, etc) but I have it.  It gives me the hebegebees to walk over them.  Well, I was forced to confront that fear one zillion times (estimated) over the long weekend.  There are so many (seemingly) bottomless grates all over the city, it was impossible to avoid them.  I’d like to say it got me over the fear.  Wishful thinking…

10.  Eat.  Eat eat eat eat eat.  So many yummy things.

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11.  If you don’t pay to take a boat to the Statue of Liberty, she will be reeeeeally far away.

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So there you have it.  Helpful, and some not so helpful, hints for your next trip to New York.  🙂

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Fun STEM Books for Young Girls: Violet the Pilot

Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen holds a special place in my heart because Violet is a Mechanical Engineer in the making. She tinkers and creates and fixes. She plays with monkey wrenches and over-engineers to the point of putting a lawn mower engine on her cousin’s tricycle.

Violet the Pilot

Violet dreams big and lets nothing stand in her way to realize her dreams (to fly in the air show with her handmade plane). On her way to the air show she gets side tracked by being awesome and caring.  This was fairly attractive to Rose as she got a kick out of the “hero” aspect of the story.   My detail oriented Evelyn liked the funny little things the author put in like the various household objects Violet uses for her inventions.

I like the lessons in this book. Dream big, work to achieve those dreams, and even with you hit some bumps in the road (like rescuing a bunch of Boy Scouts instead of flying in an air show) your still awesome. There’s a nice anti bullying message too. Well, less anti-bullying and more ‘don’t let the bullies dissuade you from your dreams’.  It could be used as a pure ‘live your dreams’ book but I love the engineering slant.

Rose and Evelyn give this one 4 thumbs up.

“Why I review” and a disclaimer:

This post is a continuation on my series of book reviews of children’s book which emphasize topics in the STEM field that would be interesting to young girls.  It started when I had difficulty finding STEM related children’s books that weren’t obviously written for boys.  Most had only male main characters or even only male characters period. My girls had a hard time identifying with them.  Thus, this blog series was born.  The opinions in these blogs are purely my own.  Well, really they are my girls opinions.  Either they like them or they wander off half way through the book.   We’ve read an ever growing number of these books and quite a few bore them or turn out to be subtly sexist (those “disappear”).

The links to Amazon are affiliate links which means I get a few pennies if you end up ordering the books.  These pennies are used for… more books. 🙂

For other STEM children’s books that are fun for young girls try these:

Rosie Rever, Engineer

Going Places

I am Amelia Earhart

Me… Jane

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Wordless Wednesday: Just being

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A lifetime ago

A while ago I spent a few hours on Friday with a good friend and her kids.  After a quick lunch we took the kids to one of those bounce house businesses to run off some energy.   If your kid is older then about 2, those are great places to go.  Rose and her two friends went up and down and through and over and under and…. for a good hour and a half.  My friend and I, we talked.  And talked and talked.  When it was time to go I felt like we had barely touched on the number of things we could have gabbed on about.

This friend and I met 16 years ago (although I prefer to pretend I’m not old enough to have known post-elementary school friends that long) through our respective husbands who knew each other through college and then work.  I don’t remember why we first started to to couples things together but soon that moved on to the two of us ladies getting together at least once a week. It was one of those instant connections where it seems like you have known this person for a lifetime from the moment you meet. In fact, we had only been hanging out for a few months when a complete stranger asked if we had known each other for all of our lives. It’s like that.

As I drove home past the area she used to live (she moved 1.5 hours away to her families ranch *sniff*), all the memories of things we used to do and all the time we used to spend together flooded back. The crafting, the horse stuff, the helping on the ranch, more crafting, the cooking… It seemed like another lifetime. It made me realize that as you get older, your life gets cut up into partitions. Childhood (elementary school), preteenhood (junior high), teenagehood (high school), college, post college, kids…. In my mind at least, they seem like separate lives that I have lived. It makes me understand more the whole “chapters in your life” thing. While I (the main character) am still in the story, the supporting characters and minor story lines are always changing which changes the feel of my life. Lots good, some bad but always ever changing an ways I don’t realize until I look back.

We used to have a crazy Christmas baking day every year.  Sigh….

1st Christmas Baking-1

Now we are onto the “Kids” portion of our lives.  Where we text weekly, talk once a month, and see each other a few times a year.  It sucks but with the kids in school, me working full time, her running a working cattle ranch (and a soccer league, and running her kids around, and helping out with 50 million other things because she is awesome like that.  Seriously, I don’t know how the ladies has time to breath) we barely see each other.  I love my life right now but it doesn’t mean I can’t miss my other “lifetimes” sometimes.  Right?

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Gifts for your mechanical engineering sweetheart

Every once in a while I run across things that catch my eye because they satisfy both my love of beauty and my inner geek.  Or they are just plain cool.  I figured I would share some of the better ones I’ve come across since there has to be people out there married to/dating/related to female engineers who could use a little extra help finding the perfect gift for valentines day, Christmas, birthdays or anniversaries.  And if my husband wants to use this list to help him out on our next anniversary it wouldn’t be a bad thing (hint hint honey).  A bunch of these are sold over at ThinkGeek.  If she at all is also a geek over Sify or Super Heros the choices are nearly endless.

1.  The Gear Necklace by Kenekt Design.  Not only is this pretty but the gears actually work.  You can pull the chain through the pendent and it turns the gears.  Sooo cool.  They also make a ring but it seems like it might be a little bulky on a woman’s finger.  And if they every reprint their flower/gear t-shirt, I am so buying one.

Gear Necklace

2.  Kinetic Gear Necklace.  For a little dressier necklace, this is beautiful.  I would imagine that it would go great at an upscale gathering.  The gears work on this too.  You can get the earrings as well but I’m not as sold on them.  They are not as intricate as the necklace.

Gear Necklace and Earrings

3.  Gear/Heart Necklace.  A less expensive but still pretty option.  The gears don’t move but it looks nice and you don’t have to break the bank but buy it.

Gear Necklace 1

4.  Da Vinci Catapult Kit or Desktop Trebuchet.  Moving on from pretty looking to pretty cool.  I’ve been coveting one of these for a while.  I keep thinking it would be a fun project to do with my daughters but I’m not sure if I would want to give up being the one to build the whole thing.  🙂

Small Wooden CatapultDesktop Trebuchet5.  Infinity Pi Scarf.  It’s a pretty infinity scarf (a circular scarf) with the 1st 80 digits of Pi on it.  Get it?  Pi has an infinite number of digits…..  Trust me.  She’ll get the joke.

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6.  Wooden Mechanical Wall Clock.  Not only is this clock cool to look at but she will get to build it herself.  She loves to casually say “Oh that? Yah, I built it.” just as much as you.  With this thing, she gets lots of bragging rights.  Although I can’t help thinking the hanging pendulum looks like it might end up a a cat toy so hang it high.

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7.  Lego Mug.  It’s a mug you can build legos on.  Need I say more?

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Hopefully this helps you at least head in the right direction when it comes to choosing gifts for your mechanically minded friend/wife/lover.  If all else fails, buy her some Kinetic Sand (I have a bowl of it on my desk at work) but be warned she is going to want to explain to you at length why it acts the way it does.  🙂

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Fun STEM books for young girls: Me…Jane

Me Jane Book

This post I’m going to focus on a children’s book that promotes the Science part of STEM for girls.  Animal Science in particular.

Me…Jane is an adorable book.  It’s written by Patrick McDonald (who draws the comic strip Mutts) and gives a child sized biography of Jane Goodall.  The story follows Jane as she develops a love of the nature after getting a stuffed chimpanzee as a child.  This love followed her through her life and career as a scientist studying gorillas in the wild.  It’s a wonderful story that tells our young girls how a passion for nature can morph into a fascinating job.

It helped that the illustrations are so cute which kept my girls interest.  A big plus. They are drawn in the same style and easy to read prose as the Mutts cartoon.  If your girl loves animals, this is a great book to help her explore some of the possibilities in Animal Science.

I especially love this page as it encourages them to explore and learn.  We used it to explore with the girls how to learn more about topics that interest us.

Me Jane

“Why I review” and a disclaimer:

This post is a continuation on my series of book reviews of children’s book which emphasize topics in the STEM field that would be interesting to young girls.  It started when I had difficulty finding STEM related children’s books that weren’t obviously written for boys.  Most had only male main characters or even only male characters period. My girls had a hard time identifying with them.  Thus, this blog series was born.  The opinions in these blogs are purely my own.  Well, really they are my girls opinions.  Either they like them or they wander off half way through the book.   We’ve read an ever growing number of these books and quite a few bore them or turn out to be subtly sexist (those “disappear”).

The links to Amazon are affiliate links which means I get a few pennies if you end up ordering the books.  These pennies are used for… more books. 🙂

For other STEM children’s books that are fun for young girls try these:

Rosie Rever, Engineer

Going Places

I am Amelia Earhart

Violet the Pilot

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Filed under book review, Engineering, Female Empowerment, STEM

Evelyn’s Birth Story

Sooo, Evelyn is almost 3 years old.  I guess it’s finally time to write down Evelyn’s birth story before she graduates from college.  Luckily for all of us, unlike Rose, I will be able to describe everything in one post instead an emotional telling in three different ones.

The day before my due date I woke up at 4:30 am to light contractions.  Since this was kid #2, I could tell these weren’t Braxton Hicks so I started to monitor them (I love the contraction phone apps).  They were occurring every 5-10 minutes but stayed mild and I was able to go about my day.  They slowed down quite a bit so I ran errands and went to Rose’s swim class all the while “wondering”….

My parents had us over for dinner that night and my Dad had gotten my favorite ice cream, Peppermint Stick from Vics.  Apparently Evelyn was a big fan of Peppermint as well since soon after, my contractions started to get stronger and more regular.  We left Rose with my parents and went home to wait.  I was able to get some rest that night (sleeping on a waterproof pad just in case) but by 6am the contractions were getting fairly strong and regular.

At 7am, the contraction were under 5 minutes apart so we heading into the hospital to get checked out.  I was only 2 cm but 80% effaced.  This girl wanted out!  Of course, pretty much as soon as we got the hospital, the contractions slowed to almost nothing.  Sigh….  After walking the halls for a while to see if we could get anything kick started, we heading home again.

I napped a bit then bounced on my yoga ball trying to relax through the contractions and allow my body to do it’s job.  By 5:30pm, the contractions finally kicked into high gear thank goodness.  That was another difference between kid #1 and #2.  I knew with the first “big” contraction that things were finally getting serious.  As much as the others hurt, when your body finally gets down to business, phew!

Back at the hospital I actually got checked by my doctor as she happened to be in with another patient which was nice.  4 cm and 90% effaced!! This meant admittance and EPIDURAL!  Praise John Bonica!  (He invented the epidural) After that I relaxed in my bed and watched the tightening of my belly with each contraction while surfing the internet.  So much better.

By 9:20pm I was still at 4cm but now 100% effaced.  Evelyn wanted out but my body just wasn’t working hard enough for it.  A slight amount of pitocin was administrated at 11pm to help things along and by 12:45 everything was ready to go.

So ready to go in fact that the nurse had me do a practice push before calling the doctor and she immediately said “STOP!” as Evelyn was going to come right out.  lol!  The doc came in and 2 pushes later, Evelyn was born at 12:56am.  She missed her due date by 56 minutes.

We also found out that apparently my insides really want a sunny side up baby.  Just like Rose, Evelyn was facing up.  Rose was turned around by the doc but Evelyn wanted out so bad that she slide right out before the doc even noticed.  Maybe if the doc had kept Rose that way, I wouldn’t have had to push for 2 hours!

Evelyn was healthy and I had very little “damage” so everyone was happy.  In fact, we were out on the town having frozen yogurt the next day.  Yay for a non complicated/traumatic birth.  I did have a slightly numb spot on my butt for a few weeks from the epidural but really, can’t complain about that.  I’ll take it to be able enjoy the final birthing process.  I saw how crazy those contractions were spiking on the monitor!

My adorable, pink cheeked, slightly cone headed from 4 hour 100% effacement daughter.

Evelyn

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Live action Tinker Bell movie – will she be an engineer?

I heard very exciting news today.  Reese Witherspoon is making a live action version of Tinker Bell!  Yep, your favorite mechanical engineering fairy is coming to the big screen in her very own movie staring Reese Witherspoon.  That little blond ball of energy (Reese) will be perfect in the roll of a little blond ball of energy (Tinker Bell).  AND, I have high hopes that the movie is a female empowering version like I think Beauty and the Beast will be unlike Cinderella.

I just have one wish for the movie. PLEEEEEEEEASE let Tinker Bell be the awesomely cool engineer that she is in the cartoons.  Can you imagine the wonderful influence this movie could be on young girls?  It’s a slam dunk to show how fun engineering can be to a whole generation of girls.  There could be all sort of inventive and funny ways she could use her engineering brain to get herself out of scrapes and save the day.

As of this posting, the script is still “in development” so I’m sending this out into the great wide internet as a message of hope for all the young girls out there who love to figure out how things work.  Please give us a movie to love and be inspired by!

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The cleverness of children

I remember what Rose was like at Evelyn’s age so you would think it wouldn’t amaze me to see the cleverness and imagination of an almost 3 year old.  Still, when I look over and see her using a small stuffed sea otter as a play phone since it’s the correct size and holds itself on the “phone holder”, I can’t help but be a little stunned.

This kid hasn’t been out in this world for a full 3 years and yet here she is making up stories, improvising (many times for her own gain, ha), and inventing games.  The stuff she comes up with makes me more then a little nervous for her teenage years.  Some of the excuses/explanations that girl can invent to get what she wants….

Their minds are amazing things.
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