Thursday, March 8, 2012

Introducing ALL kids to Science: A reason to BLOG today - STEPPING ON MY SOAP BOX!

Last week I was totally disheartened and felt defeated when I was made aware of this article by one of my colleagues.  I stirred about it over the weekend, and finally, yesterday, put pen to paper.  I sent it to my bosses to 'vet' before I hit send, and signed my name/company to the bottom of the letter.  Well, today I hit send and I instantly feel much better.  I have a good feeling that it will probably never be published.  In fact, when you respond to an article via a 'letter to the editor', you already know that the said person does not share in your perspective.  It is THEIR magazine, not YOURS.  And in the end, to protect themselves, they don't really have to respond, acknowledge you, let alone publish your thoughts.  However, I'm OK with that.  I'm merely satisfied with hitting the 'send button' and sharing my thoughts with them and with my friends.  So, In an attempt for someone to hear my thoughts on this, I thought I would finally awake my nearly 'dead' blog, and share this with you.

So, here is the original article:

And here is my response below.  I encourage you to send your thoughts as well...particularly my teacher friends who should be equally offended.

Enjoy my step 'up on the soapbox' for today :)  Below is the letter I wrote (the long winded version - which eventually I also sent a shorter one via a probable word count for publishing).

As a practicing structural engineer, wife and mother of twins with a baby on the way, I was disheartened by Mark Zweig’s column in the January issue of Structural Engineer. Mr. Zweig has managed in one column to do a huge disservice to our profession, civil engineers, teachers, his daughters and women in general.  I am extremely disheartened that he has seemed to reverse the efforts that many of us work towards every day to promote and encourage young kids (particularly young girls) to not only enjoy science and math, but to choose it as a career path.  Believe me, I know the trials and tribulations of striving to be successful in my career and at home as a wife and mother.  However, I do not see how being a woman, in today's age, disqualifies me from working in a profession that purely makes me happy.  I have a husband who doesn't just 'expect' me to have dinner ready on the table every night.  We ride the train in and out of the city most days and enjoy sharing our daily challenges with our 6 year old 'sponges' at night on the interesting buildings and bridges we are working on or have visited.  I spent time two weeks ago in the Kindergarten classroom of my twins - educating 22 five and six year olds that this is a fun job that ANYONE can do...regardless of your age, sex, or background.  I was lucky to grow up with a construction father and his brother and my grandfather ran a construction and redi-mix company...many summers of which I worked as a member of the family business.  My dad worked 11 or 12 hour days and Saturdays.  He took me to work with me, taught me what he knew, and naturally - when I was old enough to think about what I wanted to do with my knowledge for construction and love of math - engineering was the best choice.  Yes, it is hard to 'balance' everything in life, of course it is!  But how is structural engineering different between a man or a woman - or that of being a teacher?  In today's world, my husband and I are in the same profession - working for separate companies.  I have continued to work full time and love the fact that I work for a company that appreciates the value that I, and other female structural engineers on staff (where nearly 50% of our engineering staff is female) bring to the table every day.  Do I sometimes travel? - yes.  Do I sometimes have to work long hours? - absolutely.  I also have friends who are teachers who will argue that these requirements also co-exist in their field as well.  What we should be doing is not discouraging women - or men- from choosing a career path they feel passionate about, but encouraging companies and the leaders within them to provide an environment for people to be able to have a more successful work/life balance and making it a pivotal part of corporate policy.  I work for a company that not only allows me, but encourages me, to be active in my children's lives.  I coach T-Ball, I assist as a room mom at the school, and I run full marathons (in which two of my seven races have been while I was pregnant each time).  I have pushed my twins in a double stroller thru over forty 5k road races.  I'm not just a structural engineer, wife, and mother - but I am involved and active in their lives, and show by example that you can have a fulfilling life outside of your career.    If I had to tell my children one day that I had chosen not to follow my dream of being an engineer, and had only chosen a job that kept me at home more, but left me unsatisfied, what type of example would that be to them?  My husband and I also educate both her and her brother on the difficulties we both face everyday in the line of work we do.  In the end, I hope they marry someone someday who not only appreciates their passions for their career, but is an equal partner in raising their children and managing their home.  And I hope when that happens, twenty years from now, the wide spread corporate leadership for structural engineering firms will focus even more on balancing family needs, as they do in bottom dollar.  I am happy to say that the place I work has already 'figured it out' and morale is extremely high.  Turn over among technical staff is extremely low, and people work hard naturally as a big 'thank you' for having a great job at a place that allows us to pursue our dreams and also be integral cogs of the wheel in our home, raising our children, and managing our home  - as partners with our spouses.   I invest my time in my profession and family and to imply that I would invest less time in my profession if I were a general civil or teacher is just plain wrong. I grew up in a family construction business – I knew the commitment involved in this profession. My son and daughter are growing up in a structural engineering family – they will both know the cost and rewards of a structural engineering career. And my daughter will know that you can be a structural engineer, a woman, a wife and a mother AND maintain a proper work-life balance.

Tabitha S. Stine, S.E., P.E., LEED AP

Director of Technical Marketing

American Institute of Steel Construction

Practicing Structural Engineer for 11 years

If you would like to respond in addition to my comments, please email here:

Dan Cuoco
Corporate: 800-466-6275

Friday, August 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Grandma! Per the experts - it's your 21st!!!

We couldn't all make it home for the weekend of festivities, so we decided to light our own candles in honor of Grandma's big day!  Here's to the big 5-0!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Warrior Dash Midwest 2011 - Race Roundup!

This past weekend, I succumbed to the new 'in thing' of adventure racing.... Yes, five short months ago my running bud and I received an invite email 'enticing' us to 'don't miss the chance' at the coolest new type of running and adventure challenge:  a mud race.  Yes...It was January 20th.  Yes, we had X feet of snow on the ground at the time...and yes, swimming in a mud pit only seemed like a blissful wonder.  So, what did we do - we signed up for it!  Something called the 'Warrior Dash'...we were told - that was a combination of running a 5k and conquering some 'obstacles' in a  fun costume.  The night we both agreed to sign up for the challenge, I think the phrase 'How Bad Can it Be?' might have been uttered by one or both of us :)

Fast forward five months.  Two weeks before race day, we start cramming to figure out our costumes and start following the race on Facebook.  Each week other 'Warrior Dash' races are happening in various cities around the country.  I even long on to and look at some of the obstacles and challenges in the races nationwide.  And then I pause.  I call my BFF and utter these exact words: 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Long Run Body Bliss

For those of you that run - I know you will 'get this'.  For those of you that don't, this may add one more peg to your 'Crazy Tab' stick... :)

Last night I wanted to run.  The weather was mid-60s and perfect.  I felt great and knew that since my hubby was off work and at home, I wasn't under the normal constraints of being home at a certain time to relieve the babysitter, get dinner going, entertain the kids - etc.  I also knew that if I went home to change clothes after work - I wouldn't go.  There would be a thousand distractions by the hubby, kids, laundry, shed-building (my hubby's new past time - more on that soon!) to prevent me from even changing into my running clothes, let alone escaping to run.

So what did I do? - brought my running clothes with me that morning and left them in the car.  When I got off work and got off the train....everything was already there for me in the car seat - and no excuse to back out.

So, in my best 'incognito fashion', I changed in the car.  Ok...this wasn't the most 'planned' portion of my day, but it worked!  And less than 5 minutes after arriving at my car, I was starting my stopwatch.

One major downfall of not going home before the run - no cold beverage to carry :(  So - at the half mile mark I stopped into the gas station and whipped out my 'emergency $20 bill' that I always carry in my running pack and got a gatorade - perfect!

Soon nearly 85 minutes had passed and I was in the home stretch heading back to my car.  I ordered a half-price pizza to be picked up at 7pm from our local pizzeria (which has half off Mondays!) and I planned to pick some fresh lettuce from our garden to have with it.  Dinner was taken care of and I did squeeze in my long week mileage early - 9 miles of it!

Nothing like sitting down to dinner and really feeling accomplishment.  This is week 2 of marathon training and I have to admit I feel great.  My body felt alive, strong, and even anxious for more miles.  As I laid in bed last night around 10pm, I realized how wonderful it feels to be in that 'post-run-euphorium'.  Your legs feel strong, your body feels toned, and you know there is a great night of sleep ahead of you.

The next morning, my body was still in this 'euphorium'.  I walked to the train with my back a little straighter, a little more confidence in my stride, and a good satisfaction of knowing that today I get to rest from my success of yesterday - and eat a great hearty lunch out downtown later....I deserve it :)

Here's to a continued, injury-free, successful training season :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Gardening Success - Six Weeks After Planting

Two little gardeners with their pride and joy beds!
What a fun six weeks it has been.  Most evenings the twins would join me outside after dinner - to both examine the beds, water the crops, and to answer some of their very perplexing questions, such as:

- Two days after planting - Why aren't the tomatoes ready yet?
- Do we need a cage to catch the squirrels who eat our strawberries?
- Why can't I I use my spade and garden tools to dig up dirt every night?
- Will I start to like radishes if we grow them at home since I have always hated the ones from the store?
- I promise to try some of our onions IF you please let me water the garden tonight all by myself.... :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Running in IL Weather - Impossible Task!

Why does Illinois weather have to be SO damn dramatic?  Seriously....we skip spring entirely this year....and go from winter to all time record highs where we haven't seen this type of streak of heat in late May/early June since the then have a 30 degree swing the next day with 5" of rain and people kayaking down the street!  Nope...not is a great photo my friend took who blocks from her house:

Do people think that's really 'just rain'.... Come on, I know I'm a Civil Engineer by trade but COME ON PEOPLE....that's POOP WATER!  Gross! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

49 Confessions of Why I Run:

49 Confessions of Why I Run:

·         I run because I CAN!
·         I run for peace of mind, body & soul....
  •   I run because it cleans my body and mind. It is my drug used without moderation.
·         I run because it gives me time to escape, time to daydream, time to focus and time to think about what's really important to me...
·         I run because I love the adrenalin rush and the satisfying feeling of fitness I feel after I've finished.
·         I run because it empowers me!!!
·         I run…to find myself.
·         I run to change my life for the better.
·         I run to say in shape and fit.
·         I run so that I can live longer and spend more years with my twins.
·         I run....because it's cheaper than therapy :)
·         I run because it helps me clear my head! And, it feels great!
·         I run to spend more time with my twins – via pushing them and teaching them exercise.
·         Why I run: My world is colliding at every turn…too much going on at all times.  Running is my solace…my peace….my recharge to try it all again tomorrow.
·         I run to prove to my daughter that women are strong and can accomplish their dreams.
·         I run for me.
·         I run to be challenged.
·         I run to share time with friends.
·         I run to see the forests early in the morning and witness the earth’s beauty under the soles of my feet - and before my eyes.
·         I run to be healthy, to be outside, to teach my kids about fitness, to satisfy my competitive spirit and because while all my minutes are dedicated to being a mommy, my time running is MINE... (even when I'm pushing them in the stroller)
·         I run to find time in my day to contemplate the life path that I’m on.
·         I run because it keeps me grounded.
·         I run for better health and sexy legs!
·         I run because it’s fun.
·         I run for my sanity. I have a hubby, kids, a stressful job and a busy household. Running keeps me SANE...oh, and having nice thighs and legs don't hurt either!
·         I run for health and to show my kids fitness is for a lifetime.
·         I run because I LOVE to eat.
·         I run because I LOVE wine.
·         I run because I LOVE margaritas.
·         I run to eat and drink even MORE!
·         I run for my mental health.
·         I run because it takes me places....
·         I run to know myself better, feel my strength, and revel in the joy of surpassing what I thought were my limits.
·         I run because it keeps me sane. And because my husband and kids think I get cranky when I don't get a run in...
·         I run because it makes me "ME", and I can teach my twins there is never a finish line, only another race and trail to complete.
·         I run because it's the only alone time I get some days...
·         I run for respect.
·         I run to prove I won't quit on myself.
·         I run to help me cope. Running is my Prozac.
·         I run to enjoy bagel day at the office.
·         I run to have a Saturday morning appointment.
·         I run to see more places when I travel.
·         I run races for the goodie bags.
·         I run to PR against myself at races…not others.
·         I run to push my twins and teach them about sitting still for 30 minutes in close proximity – and getting along.
·         I run for the bling…Big. Shnazzy. Medals.
·         I run for cool race t-shirts.
·         I run to remind myself that this is always easier than given birth to twins.
·         I run to have something to blog about J
....some of these have been inspired by others to me today, National Running Day, and over the years....others are ones that I have engrained into my runs each time someone asks me....Why do YOU run?