Take note

If you’ve been following along lately, you know that I basically have negative free time. If you haven’t been following along lately, well, now you know that I basically have negative free time. That’s what taking a more-than-full-time course load + work + the rest of life means. Fact of life. I really enjoy school (because I’m a nerd), but I haven’t been particularly excited about it taking over my entire life and leaving me with next to no time for, among other things, creativity (nerd alert, again). So I decided to combine the two. Welcome to my hybrid art journal/homework notes notebook.

Art journaling my homework // Kelsey, Especially

Turns out I’ve been “art journaling” since middle school. I just didn’t know there was an actual term for hybrid notebooks full of handwriting + journaling, sketching + drawing + painting, and collages. The more you know, yeah? (Yeah. Get ready to know more, because this post doubles as a neuroscience lesson…)

Art journaling my homework // Kelsey, Especially

On the first page (above) I used washi tape from a past Studio Calico kit to affix a gorgeous rendition of the brain to the page. The brain, which I printed on vellum, is part of artist Angela Willetts‘s “Inhabited” collection.  It’s really amazing.

Art journaling my homework // Kelsey, Especially

Pages 2 and 3, the first full bleed spread, hold a detailed print-out of the nervous system (for reference) and the phrase “the nervous system” in kraft alpha letters. I left the two “sets” of pages after these blank, and when I have more time I plan to fill the four pages that follow these with details about the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, and its four subdivisions.

Art journaling my homework // Kelsey, Especially

For now, though, I moved onto the section of the notebook documenting neurons. The title pages for this section are shown above. I splattered black paint on a kraft tag, which I then affixed to the page with washi tap, and the right side page. I used hot pink glitter alpha stickers to spell out “neurons” on the kraft tag, then wrote “the foundation of the nervous system” below the stickers. I really love the look of the splattered paint. It’s not really representative of neurons, but it kind of is and I really think that it just works.

Art journaling my homework // Kelsey, Especially

Next I included a hand-drawn sketch of a neuron. Its basic anatomical features are labeled. The page across from this sketch hold two blocks. The top block holds notes about the different structural features of neurons (unipolar v. bipolar v. multipolar), while the bottom box holds notes about the different functional features of neurons (sensory/efferent neurons, motor/afferent neurons, and interneurons).

Art journaling my homework // Kelsey, Especially

Ah, the Action Potential. A process that I spent years thinking was incredibly difficult and incomprehensible until something this semester just clicked. I won’t bore you with the details, but the analogy using the iPod (representative of a neuron) to describe the process of an Action Potential is what did it for me.

Okayfine, I’ll bore you with the details. But only because I think this analogy is REALLY COOL. If you’re interested, read the two paragraphs below. If not, skip to the next photo.

Action Potentials are necessary in order for neurons to communicate with each other. The Action Potential begins in a neuron’s dendrite, travels along the cell’s axon into the axon terminal, and passes to the receiving neuron. It’s an incredibly quick processes, whereby the electrical charge of the neuron’s membrane changes in order to allow for the transmission of an electrical impulse along its membrane.

…wait, what?

Think of it like this: the body of the iPod – the rectangular portion – is like the soma of the neuron. It is where the ‘brains’ of the system are encased. In this case, the body of the iPod is also representative of the dendrites of a neuron, as it is the portion of the device that receives input. Specifically, the round button on the bottom half of the device (because this is an early generation iPod, duh) is where input is received. In order to select a song, the round button must be pressed hard enough to generate an electrical signal within the device. That is, a predetermined and constant threshold must be exceeded; in this case, it is caused by pressure from your thumb or finger.

Once the threshold has been reached, an electrical signal is generated. In the case of the iPod, the signal travels from the device itself (soma), along the plastic-coated (myelin sheath) earbuds cord (the axon) and into the earbuds (terminal buttons within the axon terminal). The selected song then “synapses” from the earbuds into your auditory system. Badass analogy, amirite?!

Art journaling my homework // Kelsey, Especially

The next spread breaks the Action Potential down a bit. Phases 1 and 2 are documented here: depolarization and repolarization. Again, these are concepts that I was really struggling with “getting” until I wracked my brain for a  good analogy, and had an “AH HA!” moment. Just because I’m really proud of my analogy, I’m sharing it below. Again, read it if you want. Or skip it if you don’t.

In order for an Action Potential to occur, a few things must happen:

  • A stimulus must be strong enough to surpass the threshold level (-55 mV)
  • Voltage-gated Na+ channels that sit along the neuron’s membrane must open
  • Extracellular Na+ ions must rush into the axon via the open voltage-gated Na+ channels along the membrane


The occurrence of these factors happen in rapid succession as part of a domino effect: as soon as a stimulus strong enough to surpass the threshold has been generated, the voltage-gated Na+ channels lining the axonal membrane respond to the change in voltage by opening. Once open, the extracellular Na+ ions rush through, flooding into the axon. Remember that the interior of the axon was more negative before positively charged Na+ ions rushed in. Once the positively charged Na+ ions rush in, the intracellular state of the neuron becomes less negative, or more positive. The intracellular voltage increases sharply and exponentially (known as ‘overshooting’). This process is known as depolarization, or the process of reducing the neuron’s polarization (the state of polarity mentioned in the beginning), and can be easily visualized by imagining shoppers on Black Friday.

Imagine sitting outside of Target in the middle of the night on Thanksgiving (Black Friday Eve). Outside of the store is the big crowd that you’re a part of (Na+), waiting for the doors (voltage-gated Na+ channels) to be unlocked so that you can all rush in a try to score the best deal possible on any given product. Inside of the store there are, by comparison to the crowd outside, only a few employees on hand (K+). This dichotomy of less workers inside the store/more shoppers outside the store represents the difference between the less positive charge of the inside of the neuron and the more positive charge of the outside of it.

When the clock hits a predetermined time – the threshold – an employee unlocks the doors and the big crowd of people rush into the store. This is representative of the cell’s threshold being reach and the resulting rushing in of Na+ ions in response to the voltage-gated Na+ channels being unlocked, which itself is a response to the exceeding of the threshold.


Well. That’s it this time around. I’m kind of jumping into this “Get Messy” thing as a very casual, infrequent participant. Not because I don’t want to participate/contribute regularly, but because I don’t want to commit to doing so when I know I can’t uphold that promise. So. Whenever I have some new pages of notes ready to share – and the time to photograph them and write a post about them – I will. I PROMISE.

And who knows? Y’all might just learn something else new next time! ;)

A boy and his…balls

Kelsey, Especially

Don’t let this angelic photo fool you. This kid is…something else.

It all started a couple months ago when Madden developed what I feel like is a common little boy behavior: obsessing over “the biggest” everything. The BIGGEST serving of dinner. The BIGGEST cup of juice. The BIGGEST piece of paper to color on. It was a totally cute, super benign obsession until that one time – pre-pottytraining (so about 6 weeks ago) – when I was changing his diaper and he looked right at me as he shoved his hands between his legs and exclaimed, “Look at my BIG privates, mommy!”

::blank stare::

Cue a nervous + hearty laugh. Because I mean LOL, right? Right. But only after a quick WTF first.

Since then, Madden has developed a full-fledged obsession with potty humor and his privates. Typical boy, right?

::rolls eyes::

After the initial “Look at my BIG privates, Mommy!” incident, RJ took Madden into the backyard to pee on the fence. Because obviously that’s what a proud father is supposed to do. I’ll give you one guess where this is headed. After only one time of pissing outdoors, Madden’s innate propensity for this manly act was activated. The following week, he got in trouble three times – TWICE in one day! – at school for “watering the fence” in the play yard during recess. I was mortified. RJ was amused.

Then, sometime soon afterward, RJ taught Madden what his “balls” are. So now Madden walks around talking about his “BIG balls”. His favorite method of mentioning them is to drop the phrase into songs. So like, instead of singing “Twinkle, twinkle, little star,” he’ll bust out with, “Twinkle, twinkle, Madden’s big balls,” and then burst into a fit of laughter. He also likes to walk around grabbing them and swinging them. Especially when he’s fresh out of the bath (see also: naked). Because that’s when such behavior is most appropriate. Duh.

I’m not going to lie – it’s cute and hilarious. But only at home. Every day I’m worried that when I pick the kids up from school I’m going to be pulled into the office and talked to about his inappropriate behavior. After all, we’re talking about the kid who has already dropped trou during recess to piss on the fence (and once on the kids’ play house); who runs around talking about, grabbing, and swinging his BIG balls; and who had to sit out the first few trips to the neighborhood pool over the summer because he refused to get in the water unless we let him take everything – and I mean everything – off. Not that I have an issue with Madden free-ballin’ at home in the bathtub. But at the neighborhood pool? Sanity issues aside, I’m pretty sure there are laws against that…

This little boy is something else, guys. And he’s only two. I can only imagine what the next 16 years with him living under my roof will bring, when he’s walking around making poop jokes and grabbin’ his jock before he’s learned how to tie his own shoes or button his own pants.

I’m not sure that I’m prepared for this, guys. It’s like I’m raising a two-year old version of my potty-humor-and-piss-outside-loving Dad. Talk about a recipe for comedic disaster…

Project Life 2014 | Week 38

There’s something like nine weeks left in the year, guys. WUT. When did that happen? Where did 2014 go?!

I haven’t had much (any) time to do anything creative ever since school started a month ago. And now that my course load officially doubled yesterday, I’m going to even have less time to do anything creative. Even so, I set aside a couple hours last weekend to knock out a “past-due” layout. I was stoked with how quickly and seamlessly it came together. Hope you guys enjoy, because I’m not sure when the next PL post will happen!

Project Life 2014 Week 38 // Kelsey, Especially

WEEK OF | September 15 – 21

Project Life 2014 Week 38 // Kelsey, Especially

WHAT HAPPENED THIS WEEK | Lots of normalcy around here this week. WODs, Homeland, Netflix movies, a Sunday afternoon bike-riding at the playground. You know. The usual.

Project Life 2014 Week 38 // Kelsey, Especially

The biggest thing that happened was Madden got some new big boy undies over the weekend!

Project Life 2014 Week 38 // Kelsey, Especially

Clearly he’s in love with them. (HOW EFFING CUTE IS HE?!)

Project Life 2014 Week 38 // Kelsey, Especially

ANYTHING SPECIAL THIS WEEK | Nothing out of the ordinary this week. Except the part where I got sick. But I don’t consider that “special”…

Project Life 2014 Week 38 // Kelsey, Especially

TECHNIQUES USED THIS WEEK |  Nothing fancy. A Studio Calico filler card (“hey there handsome), a piece of paper with gold dots sized down to 3×4, gold stickers (“big things poppin'”) on top of the page protector. And some journaling.

Project Life 2014 Week 38 // Kelsey, Especially

OVERALL THOUGHTS | Pretty in love with it; the golds, white, pinks/reds, and pops of blues is basically the best. And pretty in love with the fact that it came together – from conceptualization to design to printing and photographing – in just a couple of hours. That’s unheard of around here.

Project Life 2014 Week 38 // Kelsey, Especially

SUPPLIES USED | PL Photo Pocket Pages Design APaislee Press Week In Review CardsPaislee Press Pictures & Words No. 9Caylee Grey handwritten weekly title card.


:: 2013
:: 2014

Doubling up with a month to go

My brain has too many tabs open // Kelsey, Especialyly

Hey, guys! Happy Monday! Is that a thing? Are Monday’s happy? I think that’s an oxymoron. Oh, well. Whatever.

I’ve been MIA around here, I know. But in my defense, I did warn y’all that I might not be around much through the end of the year. Even still, I thought I’d be able to post more than I have been. Soooo. Sorry! I’m not short on ideas, I promise. I’m short on time. And I’m about to be even shorter on it…

My second set of classes officially begin today. In other words, starting today I’m officially doubling up my course load and will be taking 6 three-credit courses simultaneously. That’s 18 credits for those of you who suck at math (me!). And that, for those of you who suck at putting two-and-two together (no hard feelings, after all it is Monday), is a full-time-and-a-half course load. On top of work. And the Army. And girlfriending. And parenting. And CrossFit. And blogging. And memorykeeping. And sometimes eating and sleeping and catching up on Homeland. Shoot. Me. Now.

The way my school works is like this:

The school year is split into two 16-week long semesters – fall and spring. Each of those semesters is broken down even further into 4 eight-week long sessions, with start dates staggered at four week intervals. So like, Week 4 of Session 1 is Week 1 of Session 2; Week 8 of Session 1 is Week 4 of Session 2, which is also Week 1 of Session 3. And so on and so forth. (The only way to take classes during more than one session and have them not overlap is to take some classes during Session 1 and some during Session 4.)

Last semester I took a similar course load – credit-wise, at least – but was able to space out all of my courses over all four sessions within the semester. This time, though, I wasn’t so lucky. Sequestration (GAG! I can’t believe I said that here…) meant no funding for Army tuition assistance during FY 2014, and a delay in filing my taxes for 2013 that equated to a delayed federal aid award. Blah blah blah. Long story short, I was lucky to even begin taking classes this semester, getting in just under the wire. But getting in just under the wire meant cramming my course load into two back-to-back eight-week long sessions.

So Week 1 of my three new classes begins today, but this week also marks mid-terms for the original set of three courses I started four weeks ago. And finals week for the three classes I’ve been in for the last month will overlap with mid-terms week for the three classes that start today. And that week – midterms week for three classes and finals week for three more classes – is the same week my GRE test date is scheduled. One month to go until the most important test of my life (seriously, my GRE score will determine my graduate study path), and I’m about to have negative free/study time. Oh, joy.

It’s a lot, I’m the first to admit. My brain feels like it’s broken most of the time, but I’m somehow managing to stay afloat. So far. Check back in a week or so, once both sets of classes are in full swing.

The current semester ends 11 days before Christmas, and then I’ll have a month-long break before spring semester begins. Once January 12 rolls around I’ll start my last 5 courses as an undergrad, split between sessions that aren’t back-to-back, of course! And after that? After that, it’s right back to school in the fall. BIG DREAMS, PEOPLE. And you bet your ass I’m chasing after them.


Wondering what I’m taking this semester? At the end of this week I’ll be halfway through Neurobiology, The Biological Basis of Human Behavior, and Psychology of Human Sexuality. My classes that begin today are Advanced Study of Women in the Military, Domestic Violence, and Memory & Cognition.

IMAGE | via

Third time was NOT the charm

Army Ten Miler // Kelsey, Especially

…but it wasn’t the end of the world, either.

I’m finally back home after spending the last 5 days at a work event. The event is one my employer holds every year, and every year it kicks off with the Army Ten Miler on an October Sunday morning. This year, the race was last Sunday. And this year – my third time running it – I got to run it alongside Shannon instead of all my by lonesome. YAY! (The only race we’ve run together before this was a 5K a few months back.)

We were aiming to finish the race within 90 minutes, but it seems like that was a little optimistic because, uh, it didn’t happen. WOMP. Prior to last weekend, Shannon had never run more that 3 consecutive miles, and I didn’t train for this year’s race at all. Not to mention: I’m old. And that means I’m slow. Still, I’d wanted my third time running this race to be my best time. Oh, well.

Army Ten Miler // Kelsey, Especially

As I’ve gotten older and essentially become a senior citizen over the past few years, my short(-ish) distance running has improved while my long(-er) distance running has not. Since 2011 – the first year I ran the Army Ten Miler – I’ve gone from running a 15-ish minute 2-mile to running a 14-ish minute 2-mile to, most recently (as in two weeks ago), running a sub-13:30 2-mile (13:28 to be exact, thankyouverymuch).

Over that same stretch of time, my 10-mile time has gone from 1:29:31 (at 4-months pregnant no less) in 2011 to 1:36:55 in 2012 to 1:46:39 this year (I didn’t run the race in 2013). Basically, over the past three years I’ve gone from being able to sustain a 9-minute mile pace for 10 miles (without walking/stopping, and while 4 months pregnant) to taking multiple walking breaks and finishing with an almost 11-minute mile pace. Gross. Although to be fair, I trained hardcore for the first ten miler in 2011, a little less hardcore in 2012, and then not at all this year. C’est la vie, I guess.

At our 5-mile split we were on pace to finish within our 90-minute goal time, but miles 7 through 10 of that course are a total mindfuck and we ended up walking for about a mile-and-a-half of the last few miles of the course. Whatever. Not ideal BUT we finished. And we’re already planning our race schedule for 2015. I think that for the most part we’re going to stick with shorter runs – local 5Ks and 10Ks – but we’re also looking at a half-marathon and, of course, the 2015 Army Ten Miler. And next year we’ll definitely train for it so we can finish within our 90-minute goal time.

Army Ten Miler // Kelsey, Especially

For those of you unfamiliar with the Army Ten Miler, here are a few facts about it:

> It starts and stops in the Pentagon parking lot.

> It’s capped at 35,000 runners. Most of those runners are affiliated with the Army.

> The course weaves through some of DC’s most recognizable spots: around Arlington National Cemetery, past the Lincoln, up Constitution Ave, past the Watergate complexes and the Kennedy Center, down Independence Ave, and back over the 14th Street Bridge.

> Every few miles there are water + gatorade stations manned by soldiers from the Old Guard.

> Factions of the Army Band play at different points along the route. Different high school bands also set-up shop and play along the route.

> The peripheral of the course is packed full of local residents and supporters.

> Good American citizens who have the right idea are also set-up along the route distributing to runners mini cups of beer instead of lame-ass water + gatorade ;)

> It sucks and rocks all at the same time. You should run it with us next year!

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