Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mom Goes To School: Summer Break

It's been a little over a month since I've been home from Utah. From the minute I turned in my final research project of the semester and got all my student's grades done, I took a deep breath and just rested. No textbooks or articles. No answering a million student questions. No academic anything, really. It was so good to shut down that part of my brain, the part that needed to squeeze just one more thing in. Instead, I've had time to reflect. What a year it was! This is hard to explain, but my grasp of political science as a field just blew right open last year. I had such a narrow understanding of the social sciences in general going into my program. My long absence from academia (almost seven years!) plus the rigors of being a first year doctoral student just kinda threw me for a loop. Summer break came just in time.

My summer so far? Spending hour upon hour with my boys. So many quiet and special moments at this place we get to call home. Montana is incredible during the summer. Jack and I have a slow and easy schedule during the day that consists of getting up real early, going on a whole lot of walks, and just playing all day long. Then daddy comes home and we have so much fun making dinner together. Jack is obsessed with cooking these days. The sizzle in the pan. The heat. Everything about it. Then Wheel of Fortune, of course. I cherish these summer days.

Beyond Jack, I've had time to spend with friends that I didn't get to see near enough of last year. I have read easy peasy books just for fun. I have watched a lot of movies and we even binged-watched Breaking Bad (finally!). I've started to bake again. I feel like I am finally getting back into the swing of real life.

Slowly but surely, I am feeling ready again. I have my to-do list for what I want to accomplish this summer. It's not very long, but I have a couple goals. One is beginning to collect my dissertation materials. My father is a treasure hunter. He likes to go to thrift stores and spot the needle in the haystack. Knowing this, I sent him on a mission to find any old book related to Montana politics, history, or Western U.S. political history in general for my doctoral research. What he's done is started me off with one of the best collections of rare Montana political books that I could have hoped for. Thanks dad!

The key in all this will be figuring out how I can juggle the summer goodness and a super active Jack with the research that I want to do the next few months. I can barely get through reading a blog post without a Jack interruption, so this will be interesting to see what I can do from home. Always a new adventure, right?

Our favorite walk of the day, right when the sun peaks over the horizon.
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