Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Little bits of happy

I am so, so ridiculously behind on posting and I have so many things to say, but in the meantime, here is a smattering of things that are just making me happy right now
A new Christmas suit to replace the old Christmas suit my giant teenager outgrew. He enthusiastically purchased this and even picked a new colorway

A mantle full of Santa pictures. I think if I play my cards right I can transition right from kids to grandkids and my goal is to eventually have 50 years of pictures. I'm at 16 so far and they bring me so much ridiculous joy

Sydney's face when Eli stole a roll from her on Thanksgiving

And the fact that she just randomly wears tiaras sometimes

This is how C does his homework every weekend

This outfit. My pants are tighter than is optimal but it's SUCH a cute outfit. 

Not pictured but I want to remember it: Averson has started occasionally tucking me in instead of the other way around and it's the sweetest thing ever. Big kids are the best. She kisses my forehead and everything. 


Friday, November 4, 2022

Square peg in a square hole

Guys? I love my new job. Like, I love it an awful, awful lot. I keep waiting to have a day where I feel like maybe I made a mistake, or maybe I didn't think it through all the way. But I'm a month in and I've had some very long days, and I am still giddy every night when I get home. We made some sacrifices to make this change and it's a HUGE change from what I'm used to. But OMG. It's so great. 

I love my office! 

 I even love this cozy little curb that I sat on to take a fairly boring HR course

During one of my fourteen interviews, I asked what they would put on their Mary Poppins list for someone for this position. I wanted to get a feel for their goals for the person taking over, and also for how they thought about building a team. It didn't do anything to help my Pollyanna with a sailor's mouth brand, but I do think it's a good question. 

I don't think I realized how unexpectedly wonderful it would feel to find a job that was offered to me for precisely the qualities that made me a little bit odd at other jobs. In the prison, my "aggressive optimism" and tendency to look for the best in people was often perceived as na├»ve, even a decade in. During my first week my new boss told me it was the primary reason they wanted me to join the team. I love to supervise and problem solve, and being creative makes those things fun. Now that I'm working in a private, for profit company, I can be as creative and innovative as I want. It's a good thing! 

And the clients. It's all the things I love. They're spicy teenagers and young adults. The clinical pictures are fascinating and they've got these great, spicy personalities. And it's EXPECTED that I will adore them for all of that. Last week we had a new kid admit who tried to run (really walk quickly) away. I walked with her, and then sat on the side of the road while she cried. Then we hiked back. That's my job. I get to love and care about my staff and these kids and their families. That's my JOB! I get paid for it! 

The other thing that I was missing was variety. If I had to keep sitting in my chair for eight hours, I was going to do something terrible. This job is perfectly chaotic, just like prison, but without riots. We've had trapped wildlife, runaways, power outages, fights, lockdowns because strangers showed up unannounced. I've always said that I loved a job where you leave saying "What the fuck happened today?" and this is that and so much more. 

AND, to top it all off. I get lunch every day. And the fridge is stocked with snacks and sparkling waters and even a little secret stash of diet soda. It's magical and I'm so, so happy. I'm sure that at some point I'll get annoyed or disillusioned or tired, but I don't want to forget how awesome this first month felt. 


Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Halloween 2022

We had the best Halloween! I was sort of underwhelmed with the holiday and have avoided a lot of the regular festivities but when it came down to it, we had an amazing weekend. 

C asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday and while I usually don't do much, this year I wanted to do the Halloween tour at Alcatraz. I've never been and it seemed like a fun thing to do with almost people-sized kids. C bought the tickets forever ago, but then a couple weeks before Halloween the parks department cancelled the special Halloween tours. They offered us an evening tour instead, which kind of worked out perfect. We left in the afternoon and then coming back we got to see the sunset over the bridge and Alcatraz lit up at night. And then Pier 39 at night. Where you can pay a drug dealer a stupid amount of money to put a temporary tattoo on your looks-older-than-12-year-old daughter. 

And then we had an awesome Halloween! With kids who apparently are still not too old. And a teenager who asked me to craft his costume! I learned gauze papermache and who MF Doom is. And how to fix a mask I spent a week on at 6:00 am on Halloween because the dumbass hellbeast grabbed it and ripped it into three pieces. (It was almost her last act on Earth). 

MF Doom, Hades, and Harley Quinn

Birthday Donuts!

Back to Alcatraz

I busted out the jumpsuit and bought myself my very first pair of Docs, and had the most perfect Rosie costume ever. Which I got to wear to work because I work in a wonderland. And I posed next to my mom's old radio because off course I did. The only thing I wish I'd done different was my hair but after 45 minutes of trying to make pin curls I gave up. 

Back to San Francisco and the worlds best clam chowder in a bread bowl at Boudin. 

May or may not have crossed a "Do Not Cross" sign...

I wish I could have spent more time learning about the occupation of Alcatraz or the 19 Hopi men who were originally incarcerated there protesting the Indian Boarding Schools. I've spent a lot of time since reading up on the occupation and it's fascinating!

So pretty and so spooky!

MF Doom. Happy Teenager.

Who is also not great at following rules or posted warnings but is quite good at pull-ups

We're on a boat!

Dork. He did such a great job of marking my birthday though. And I didn't get a picture but he even got me an ice cream cake! 


Friday, October 7, 2022

5 on a Friday: Busy and Happy

 1: I love my new job so, so much. I feel like my brain is working again and I love it. I’m going to meetings and being asked my opinion and it’s just so wonderful. There are parts that are going to be hard, and I have SO MUCH to learn, but I feel like this was a good move. Also my office is in a literal mansion and they provide chef prepared lunch everyday so…

2: I’m listening to Soulless and it’s the most fun, delightful audiobook I think I’ve ever listened to. I’m so glad it’s a series because otherwise I’d be devastated to finish it. 

3: I have very specific coffee preferences, and I love this Reddi Whip sweet foam. It’s like whipped cream, but not whipped cream and it transforms your coffee into literal magic. So of course it’s only at one store. Which is why when I find it I stock up like an addict

4: I’m on a “wash 2-3 times a week” schedule and I’m really surprised how quickly my hair adjusted. I always thought people who said that were oily liars but turns out.. notsomuch! I even bought a shower cap. BUT. It didn’t solve, or I don’t think it solved, the problem of my hair falling out. I assumed it was connected to the awesome face full of acne I got at the same time (so unfair) but my hairdresser mentioned that people are losing a lot of hair post-COVID. Anyone else experience that? Or any tips on a face full of what I’ve self-diagnosed as hormonal acne? It hasn’t been this bad in years

5: Wrestling started!! Thank goodness. Water polo, volleyball, and soccer weren’t keeping us busy enough and I was SO BORED on Sundays (ha!) But this boy. This boy is happy. (And tired. And hungry.) 


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

If I could be anyone dead or alive…

 Have you seen those video’s going around where people show photos of their dad’s in 1985? I’m not cool enough to make a TikTok, (or at least not one my kids wouldn’t mercilessly tease me for), but Ray circa 1985 HAS to be memorialized somewhere on the inter webs. It’s just too good

Friday, September 30, 2022

5 on a Friday: Let's see how long this lasts

 My whole feed is full of "5 on a Friday" posts and I am nothing if not a late adapter of trends :) But I like the structure of it so let's see how it goes!

1) Today is a very awesome day. It's my penultimate day of my job, which means I get to use the word "penultimate," which I love, AND that I start my new job next week! More to come...

2) After living with a very ramshackle fence for almost a year, our neighbors decided that it was very urgent to get it replaced ASAP. We didn't really have the money to do it, and it was stressful to coordinate all the pieces, but today my new fancy fence is going in and I'm pretty thrilled about it. We're coming out ahead in the deal because we took the opportunity to cut out a bunch of awful tree-things which will give us a bunch of space AND the company is coming back next week to fix our awful gate which means I will no longer be using garden tools as a gate latch and I won't have to drag my trash cans out through the garage. So I'm poor, but happy! 

3) I took a page from Sarah's book and have been planning out meals based on the crazy kid schedule and it has been a GAME CHANGER. Now instead of feeling bad that groceries are getting wasted because we don't have time to make the meals, and instead defaulting to drive thru every night, we're being proactive and everyone knows what's happening. Wednesdays are a nightmare but this week I bought a Costco pizza that lived on the counter and people grabbed slices on their way in and out the door and it was totally fine! 

4) It's Hocus Pocus 2 day AND it's my movie night AND it's the start of spooky season! I'm wearing Halloween earrings to celebrate. 

5) I signed up for a CrossFit competition. I have no idea what I was thinking and now every morning I consider canceling it. I'm not going to because I'm a grown woman and even if I completely embarrass myself, it'll be fine, but pray for me? Also I hope they give me a t-shirt at least...

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Thoughts on leadership

 I often find, as I trip through my days, that patterns emerge. I suspect it has a lot to do with the availability heuristics (I love the availability heuristic, and the word heuristic) but also, I think the universe kind of hits you in the face until you pay attention. Lately one of the themes that keeps coming up has to do with leadership. 

I've been having conversations about leadership seemingly everywhere: at home, in client sessions, in casual conversations. Even more specifically the conversations have focused on the differences felt when you are in the presence of strong leadership versus when you are not. My response, when I'm asked, is often to advise people to pay attention in those situations because this is all great data whether you can actually affect change in the situation or not. It sucks when you first recognize that someone is falling short but it's such a gift for the future. 

But what are those intangible things that make great leaders? There's only about seven billion books written on the subject and honestly I find much of it bullshit. All the books and theories and motivational speeches feel so faddy (is that even a word?) and superficial. Here's what it boils down to (in my humble, obviously not superficial and faddish [that is definitely not a word] opinion) 

Don't be an asshole. Pretty straightforward, but surprisingly easy for people to screw up. Essentially, don't act in a way that you'd be embarrassed for your mom to see. Don't be mean to people. 

Promote the whole as greater than the sum of the parts. Your team, whoever or however it's made up, will not succeed on the shoulders of a single superstar and so if you focus on a single person it will fail. They will crack under the pressure and everyone else will underperform. In this same vein, you're not the leader because you're the best, so don't act like it. I have the most respect for leaders who are quick to take blame and give credit. I think it shows a huge amount of both confidence and humility and in my experience, people will move mountains for them. 

Be the person willing to go to bat for people. I have a couple of tests for leaders and one is, would this person back me up? It's a conversation I had with Eli about coaches. Someone can be super gruff and abrasive, but you will work your ass off for them if you know that if it hits the fan they'd be right behind you. 

Promote awesomeness. One of my greatest joys is seeing people succeed, and when I'm working for someone or observing someone in leadership you can tell that when they are focused on the success of the people around them. These are the people who don't use information as currency, who are constantly looking for opportunities to let people shine or grow, who are focused on people's successes and strengths. Who doesn't love that? But here's the clincher. Everyone is awesome at SOMETHING and people who are really good at what they do recognize that. 

I'm curious what other people think of when they think of good leaders? What do you look for, or what do you specifically try to avoid? And how do you manage when you're in the unfortunate situation of knowing you're not being led by a good leader? 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Trying new things

We are at an age with our kids where everyone has kind of figured out what they do, or more honestly, what they don't do. Eli wrestles and finds loopholes. Sydney makes lists. Averson plays soccer. And then kind of out of nowhere, everyone started trying new things. Eli went out for water polo. I absolutely, 100% do not understand this sport. It's kind of like soccer in the water and I know that they aren't allowed to touch the bottom. Sometimes it's good to get a foul. Eli gets ejected a lot and no one seems to mind (and sometimes it seems like a good thing?) I love it a lot. His coach is amazing and his team is awesome and they're busy and ragtag and it's my favorite kind of chaos. And there's a lot of yelling which is my favorite kind of spectating. 

 I sort of threw a fit with Sydney around the same time I confiscated her phone and declared that she would be doing an extracurricular, and that either she could choose or I'd choose for her. She chose volleyball, and then, of course, they couldn't find a coach and it looked like she'd get out of it on a technicality. Then at the literal last second two moms pulled through and not only was Sydney not thrown by the last second change in plans, she was actually kind of excited by it? And now she is willingly and excitingly attending practice every night. 

Averson is doing soccer again, and after a rough start where we had a very frank conversation about grit and intention she's doing great. Last weekend I would even describe her as aggressive on the field. She continues to be her same self-assured, unique self who just has the funniest little brain. I found this on the table the other morning, so I think maybe her newest venture might be communing with the undead?  

And also drawing. Let's focus on the drawing so I don't get freaked out. 

Even I'm getting into the spirit of stretching outside of my comfort zone (partly because of everyone else). I started going to the early morning classes at my gym and while the 4:30 alarm was painfully insulting at first, I've adjusted really quickly and it's helped me be so much more consistent. Since starting I'm back to my preferred 3-4 times a week schedule and I feel so much better. 

In the olden days I would sleep in my gym clothes. I don't do that anymore but I do set them out and sometimes text pictures to my gym buddy as proof of intent. That way if I bail they're staring at me in judgment in the morning. 

Monday, September 12, 2022

On grief and tiny giant things

 I thought I was doing okay with this whole grief and loss thing, but then when you least expect it you get sucker punched in the face. Like when you've got big news and you realize that you don't have any parents to share it with. That's pretty fucking lame. I have great siblings who responded with the appropriate level of enthusiasm, and awesome friends who can't wait to celebrate with me, but I'm realizing that you're never too old to want your parents to hang your gold star on the refrigerator. 

And then yesterday Averson and I went to Michaels in search of lanyard string. Such a small, innocuous errand and when I walked in I nearly drowned in sadness. My mom and I didn't have a ton of things in common, but what we did have, we had hard. And Halloween crafts, that was our jam. The three years she lived with us, we made dozens of tiny dioramas in pumpkins, bought more ridiculous decorations than anyone could ever need, squeed over ridiculous zombies and sugar skulls and bats and all the things. She loved my ridiculous skeleton menagerie almost more than Averson does and would move them in the night, setting up vignettes and back stories and giving them names. 

Michaels has a whole aisle now of tiny things that wasn't there before. Tiny little tea sets and doors and tables and garden tools and bottles and animals. Halloween and Christmas and regular every day options. Hundreds of tiny little options for tiny little scenes and she's never going to see them. She would have loved it, and instead of being so thrilled to tell her about it and bring her back, I stood in the aisle choking back tears deciding whether I wanted to continue the tradition or never go there again. 

Friday, September 9, 2022

Camp with Bones

 Long ago we signed up to do family Girl Scout camp, and then slowly through attrition all but Averson and I dropped out. We're pretty much done with Girl Scouts, but I was sorry that she and I hadn't had a chance to do a camp together so this was a nice accident. We had a delightful time (and happy bonus we missed the hottest weekend!) 

They let her dissect an owl pellet and she found not one but TWO skulls! Hence the camp name, Bones. 

Leading up to camp, all she could say was that she hoped she got to do Archery. So it was awesome that it was the first AND last thing on our schedule! She did great!

This is what a successful camp weekend looks like :) 

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Might delete this later. Also, PSA: Don't be an asshole

 Yesterday at work I noticed a bunch of people all heading out at the same time. I happened to be in my boss's office when one person stopped at the door and asked if we were heading out soon too. I casually said "Where?" and then my boss informed me that, totally straight faced, there had been a "team building pool party" planned THAT I HAD NOT BEEN INVITED TO. So the entire office was emptying out save for me, one person to man the front desk because I still had patients scheduled, and one doctor. And here's the kicker. This isn't even the first time this has happened. 

I'm sure whoever decided to organize it this way had their reasons for not including me on any of the e-mails, but I cannot imagine any situation where I would intentionally exclude one person from an event where the other forty or so people are included, even if logistically I knew they wouldn't be able to go or if I knew that they would choose not to, or if I didn't want them there. Because... well just because. 

So after work, where I let myself out of a COMPLETELY EMPTY clinic, I met up with the family at Eli's (awesome but totally foreign and confusing) water polo game and was talking with Eli about my day. I told him, somewhat incredulously, how ridiculous the situation was. He immediately responded like a normal human (so I guess I've done my job there) but then also was like, "That reminds me of the time in third grade when Steven so-and-so handed out birthday party invitations to everyone but me!" And then Sydney, when she heard the story, had a similar third grade story. 

So here's the lessons learned. 

1) Apparently third grade has been rough in the Chiconky house?

2) People are fucking assholes who don't know basic etiquette rules

3) My kids are pretty awesome, and pretty resilient. And also they know not to hand out invitations in public or to talk about parties in case not everyone was invited

I hope someone peed in the pool

Wednesday, August 31, 2022


Sometimes it's fun to put on boots and act a little ridiculous in a field before a concert with your friends 

(I do not do pinkies up on purpose and Coors Lite, while delicious, certainly doesn't warrant it. I started doing it when I was a dumb teenager person of legal drinking age and now I can't stop. I can't decide if that makes it better or worse?) 


Thursday, August 11, 2022

First day of school: A sequence of events

We've come an awful long way since their first day as a trio heading off to school together. Today they kicked it off and headed out for fourth grade (where she is THRILLED to be an older grade and have her first overnight field trip), a high school junior (OMG. A literal upper classman. His goal this year is to letter in three sports and stay under the radar of the administration), and a seventh grader (still figuring out what she wants the year to look like, but very firm in her decision to eschew her backpack in favor of a Trader Joes Dill Pickle reusable tote). My mom used to have a saying, "Somos Pocos Pero Somos Locos" which translates to "We are few but we are crazy" and I think it describes these hooligans perfectly. They're messy and ridiculous and really quite wonderful. 


And then, if I really want to feel all the feels, I can reflect back on this giant human's first day of kindergarten which I swear was about six days ago