Thursday, March 29, 2007

Righteous Indignation

Just got back from an evening of overeating and compulsive shopping with two dear friends of mine. We were trying to distract one of the friends from the fact that she no longer works for the troop of incompetent trolls who forced her to resign today for no good reason except their own spectacular unprofessionalism and general stupidity. If I could go into detail here I would because you would be mad too. But I can't because I don't want to behave as unprofessionally as those "bastards dipped in bastard with a bastard center" as my friend was calling them (with good reason).

Dinner conversation included plans for a full page add in the newspaper advising residents of MyTown who NOT to do business with and the legal definition of "libel" and just how much trouble would that mean anyway? Her husband described how he was going to put on a trenchcoat and just stand near the office long enough for them to get nervous/call the police. And there was talk of how many margaritas would be consumed just as soon as one of us had some money and/or a designated driver. And then we went shopping (and I found the cutest knit black dress that is COMFY and the most wonderful little nightie! Not the point, sorry).

So I raise a pint of Ben and Jerry's Phish Food to you, friend. You didn't deserve this, or them. And they certainly didn't deserve you!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Damn you and your hot, tasty, drippy goodness

I just realized the subject of this post might be a little obscene out of context. I'm sorry.

A few years ago (like four), Dr. Advisor and I were working on a report together that was due in December. Since it was probably March (the March AFTER the December when the report was due) there wasn't a lot of time for messing around. I was an eager undergraduate research assistant (underpaid data slave) and I was idealistic and LOVED my job (I may have mentioned to Dr. Advisor that I deposited my paychecks four at a time because I don't do this for the money man I do it for the SCIENCE, plus my bank is like three whole blocks and a very busy street away from my house and I didn't want to ride my bike there. Looking back I think I understand why he told his girlfriend-now-wife that I was "a hippie").

After several days of working to finish the report at the expense of working on my actual degree (Or maybe I was just not sleeping or doing anything traditionally considered "fun" like getting out of my office for five minutes) I was tired. So tired. And after somehow making it to my senior year of college without learning to use coffee as a drug and instead using frilly coffee drinks topped with whipped cream and sprinkles recreationally (because "I am an intellectual! Intellectuals drink coffee. I didn't know that what I was drinking was really just a warmed up milkshake) I had a slightly holier-than-thou attitude regarding caffeine addiction and now we all know how silly silly silly that was! I slinked into Dr. Advisor's office and explained that I was very tired and was going to go home to lay down for a couple of hours but would come right back as soon as I woke up ready to charge ahead.

He looked at me in silence for a few seconds, then got up, walked to the coffeemaker in his office, picked up a mug, used his shirt to clean all the old coffee and dust and cobwebs out of it, filled it with coffee, and handed it to me. I looked at it for a minute, hot and steamy in the mug, and let its sweet sweet aroma waft over me(but... but...PLAIN coffee???). I looked back at Dr. Advisor and said "Do you have any milk and sugar?" He just laughed and asked if I'd finished the latest round of revisions on the graphs he'd asked me for.

Fast-forward to now. Four years of grad school (including one three-year-long field project that involved driving to far-flung places like Alabama and Tampa nonstop and with very little notice and often overnight) and one baby later I am wholly addicted to caffeine. I was able to kick it for the first trimester of pregnancy (you're WELCOME Charlie!) but that was a dark dark time filled with lots of napping and complaining and also cheese fries.

And now I am sitting at my kitchen table working in my pajamas and wishing that "the coffee shop", local or otherwise, would deliver so I wouldn't have to put on a bra.

Friday, March 23, 2007


After nearly a month and a half of fiddling around, researching, head slamming, and swearing, the flipping thing finally works. Well almost. I still have a few kinks to work out. But here is the fake data I've been longing to create.

Thank you Dr. Advisor for holding my hand as though I was a wee undergrad research assistant again. For together we equal two brains, you have 1.75 and I have the other 0.25.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bounce baby bounce!

Charlie has been getting up at 7:00 instead of 8:00 which gives me an extra hour in the morning to go to the rec to work out. So yesterday morning, I drove to the rec, plugged my headphones into the Exervision TV thing on the elliptical and turned on the Today Show. Pre-baby weight, here I come!!

I was running along, blissfully learning about new trends in shoes for spring, how to make the most of my small apartment, and how to tell if my teenaged daughter is having sex when I noticed that a small crowd had formed to watch my boobs hit me in the face while I was running. To make matters worse, Charlie had been so transfixed by the display on my clock radio that he hardly ate at all from the left side and I was quite lopsided.

So I cleverly hitched my forearms under them in sort of a modified jogging pose. It made me look very much like a tyrannosaurus rex or maybe a preying mantis. At any rate, I don't think I was fooling anyone so I ended the cardio portion of my workout early and headed to the weight room.

Tomorrow I'm thinking two bras. Or maybe I'll just take up Tai Chi.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Academomia explained

You know what Academomia means? It means that tonight at the library instead of pulling a pad of paper and a pencil from my backpack to write down the call numbers I needed to find, I searched in my purse through pacifiers, straw wrappers from Starbucks, Target giftcards, plastic chain links (used for hanging toys from the car seat handle), and my camera in search of a pen and ultimately had to crawl under a nearby desk to retrieve one someone else had lost and write the necessary information on the back of a receipt from the grocery store (for 2 green bell peppers, some ground turkey, and a family sized tube of cookie dough because hey, I HAVE a family!).

Yesterday (as you might have guessed) I had some trouble with one of the items I have to figure out before I can continue work on my dissertation. I thought the most mature thing to do would be to FUH-REAK out like a two year old, scream obsenities at my computer, and send hastily written and frightening instant messages to my advisor (I am never going to figure this out. I don't know what to do. I am so so sorry. Thanks for all your help, but I really can't do this). Then I tried to pump breastmilk while crying hysterically (doesn't work. doesn't work at all). Every time I saw a picture of Charlie I got more upset because everyone keeps telling me to finish so I can be a good example for him and so I can have a flexible schedule for him and on and on and on and I couldn't stop thinking how good of an example could I possibly be? I have no focus, no ambition, no drive. The one week I had him home all day with me I couldn't get him to take a nap or stay on a schedule. I felt like I was failing in both worlds despite the idea situation I am in with part time childcare and a wonderful husband.

I haven't come to some big realization that made everything better. I did get some rest though. And tomorrow I'm getting some more help with the school thing. Once this one thing is fixed I will be able to (start and) finish two of the three sections of the project and that will be so so so much better.

I meant for this post to be funny, so here's a really sweet picture of Charlie sleeping in the front yard in nothing but a diaper. You may have to look away if the cuteness starts to overwhelm you. It's a really sweet picture but isn't sleeping outside in your underwear more of a backyard activity?

Resting in the Garden

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

This is me not complaining about how shitty my dissertation is going.

Sorry, mom, there wasn't a better word to use.

In other news, our family room looks very pretty with the new paint and the new curtain we bought last night at Target.

New Paint and Curtain

And this is what happens when your husband buys you four boxes of cereal, three of which are delicious:

What happens when you have four boxes of cereal

Sunday, March 18, 2007

In sickness and in health, in good times and during home improvement projects

Adding a new and extremely needy human being to the household has nothing on painting the family room when it comes to things that test your mettle as a couple. First there is the decision to paint or not paint the hideous wood paneling that was installed, with great pride I'm sure, in 1964 when the house was built. When we moved in a little over a year ago the deal was I could either paint the wood paneling or the kitchen cabinets. The deal was renegged as soon as the last box was unpacked and it was time to start painting.

About a month before Charlie was born, Ryan said "You know what? We should really paint over this paneling." Miraculously, he lived to tell the story. So he and I waddled off to Walmart, picked out a pretty shade of yellow paint and brought it home. As soon as we walked in the door, Ryan said "You know what? I think that color is too bright, let's 'wait' on the painting." I don't remember exactly what my reaction was but I'm sure I probably shouldn't post it anyway because Ryan's mom reads my blog.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I finally got fed up with our family room looking like a dark cave. I dusted off the old can of yellow paint (that we picked out t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r) and painted everything I could reach without moving heavy furniture. I even did two coats so it looked nice. And Ryan was right, it was way too bright. I emailed A:

"A, I just painted the family room and I am in so much trouble. It looks like the f***ing Copa Cabana in here!"

The color really grew on me over time though that day and I was quite proud of myself when Ryan came home that night. He walked into the room and stared silently at the painted walls for a few seconds before summoning the diplomacy to say "Oh great! You started painting!" Since then he has referred to my yellow paint as "primer". I referred to it as "The paint that is going to stay just the way it is until you take the time to repaint it, Mr. Picky."

Saturday, Ryan took Charlie to Lowe's so I could rest and get some things done around the house (and they also brought me some iced tea and a breakfast taco when they came home). He picked up a selection of Ryan Approved Paint Colors so that I could choose a new color. I picked one out (the color was pretty but I really was swayed by the name: Vanilla Bean... mmmmm ice cream) and he bought a gallon so, in his words, he didn't almost have a stroke every morning when he walked into the family room and in my words we could make the family room booooorrrrriiiinnnnggg.

We started painting that night after Charlie went to bed. I painted two coats on one wall and added a coat of white around a door frame. Ryan was still working on the wall he started on. I used all the patience I've learned in the last three years of marriage plus one child to not screech "For heaven's sake Michelangelo it's not the Sistine Chapel!! What the hell is taking so long???" And he used all his husbandly patience to not go nuts on me as he rubbed paint drips out of the carpet. Wisely, we decided to throw in the towel around eleven at night, leaving all the furniture and toys pushed into a heap in the middle of the floor.

We finally reached a point we are describing as "finished for now" tonight around eight thirty. We were able to move the largest furniture back where it goes, hang the pictures back up, and say kind things to eachother like "I like the way you were so careful on the moulding" and "What a pretty color you picked out!" (Even though someone keeps saying "I'm sure it'll grow on me" and someone else insists on replying "Well I sure hope it does because in the name of all that is holy we are not repainting again").

I love him. Look how well he treats me:
Mmm the variety
I do love cereal. Even icky colon blow Total, official cereal of post-partum women everywhere.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Caption Contest!

I was going to post something about something and then I found this picture and I forgot all about that. So leave a caption for this picture:

Driving Naked

Friday, March 16, 2007

Nap Strike Enters Day Three

What do you do with a baby who is obviously exhausted but refuses to nap?

About an hour before it's time for Charlie to eat again, he starts rubbing his eyes and yawning and getting really frustrated with his toys. "OK, it's naptime!" I declare to him brightly. I carry him into his room and sit down on the chair and pat his bottom until he falls asleep (hey it works!). Then I carefully get up and lower him (still asleep) into his crib. And then the invisible vicious dogs and scary, toothy woodland creatures that we keep in there jump out and scare the hell out of him.

So I carry McScreamy back to the chair and repeat the process. And get the same result (his crib is terrifying or maybe just not as comfy as me). Now he is in there with the mobile on not sleeping which means a rather difficult afternoon is in store for me.

My neighbor said she started letting her son cry it out at naptime around this age and that it worked for him and now he is eighteen months and takes three hour naps. It makes sense to me, I mean he's either going to cry himself to sleep in my arms or cry himself to sleep in his crib. At least if he's in his crib I can throw a load of laundry in and load the dishwasher read my new Glamour magazine and update my blog.

Trouble is, we learned on our road trip that he can scream wholeheartedly for an astonishing thirty seven miles (He started yelling near a sign that said "Next Town 37 Miles" and after we decided we would have dinner in the town and give him a break from his carseat he fell asleep just as we got there meaning we got to listen to thirty-seven miles of hysterical screaming AND we didn't get to eat dinner because who wants to risk starting that up again?). So if naptime is usually one hour, that's forty minutes of screaming and twenty minutes of sleeping. Is that really a nap?

And now Rossby has started up with the barking. Send caffeine and refined sugar.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Gah! Am not worthy!

On Saturday I got to eat breakfast tacos with Amalah, Dad Gone Mad, and Sweetney in Austin. They were all super-cool and I'm totally glad I went even though I was really nervous about it because I'm kind of a nerd with funny glasses and I wear sneakers with everything. I wore a fun black and white dress that makes me look proportional (it was a triumph of all-over busy-print, ruching, and lycra) and red sneakers. Ryan and my dad and Charlie drove me over there and after feeding Charlie in the car and checking for milk stains, I was off.

I strode into the house confidantly and introduced myself to the group. I was cool as a cucumber.

Then I met Amalah and smiled so huge she could have autographed my tonsils.

I settled into a chair as she said to the group "I was a little nervous about coming here. I knew I'd talk too loud, I'd use my hands too much, I'd knock someone's drink over..." Everyone felt the same way. I was in heaven.

I recognized several people from their comments on Amy's (Amalah) blog. Each person there was fun and warm and unique and I felt so at ease you never would have known I met these people just half an hour before. We all had small kids in common and most of us had blogging in common. The conversation ranged from "How do you increase traffic on your site?" to "Where DID you get that lip gloss?!"

I was part of a lively conversation about eating to near-competative levels with the hostess of the party, Jennifer, who shares my love for breakfast foods. She trumped my Kirby Lane Cafe "Paris, Texas" (six pieces of French Toast and a huge stack of migas, served with tortillas) experience with a story about a trip to La Fonda San Miguel where brunch is $35 and she and her friends stayed for three hours and ate five plates each. She was cool and I want to be her friend (that goes for everyone there).

I made an important realization at the party and that is that if I don't act all shy and nervous and hang around next to the food the whole time like I normally do when I'm insecure in social settings people think I'm interesting. They called my blog title "clever" and Amalah said "Sheesh, you had a baby four months ago? You look good!" (and I died. I died died died died died) And another (very very neat and definitely not from MyTown) girl even complimented my sneakers, calling them "an interesting color splash".

I spent the rest of the day a weee bit full of myself. My color-splashy self.

And then!. Amalah linked to ME on two of her blogs. Here she links to my blog and talks about how adorable Charlie is (I brought him in for show and tell when Ryan and my dad came to pick me up) and here she posted a picture of the party. And I died some more.

And since then, I have gotten five comments, which is like two weeks worth. So I will now need a virtual paper bag to breathe into.

Me with Amalah
Me and Amalah hanging out because I'm cool like that (HA)

Monday, March 12, 2007


Because we want to expose Charlie to a variety of experiences, we thought we would be remiss if we denied him the opportunity to let loose on Spring Break simply because he is an infant.

Here is a picture of Charlie enjoying his first solid food.

First solid food?

Amy's Ice Cream is #5497 on the American Academy of Pediatrics' list of suitable "first foods" for a 4 month old, right between Oreos and raw ground beef, but I'd say it's a top ten must-do when visiting Austin.

It's just the thing when you've just eaten some spicy BBQ sauce at Rudy's.

Charlie at Rudy's

Next it was back to Grandma and Grandpa's place for some quality tube time with the cousins.

Charlie with his cousins

And what wild Spring Break would be complete without a nice soak in the hot tub in the arms of some chick with big boobs (that you only met a few months ago HAR HAR HAR)?


Just so none of you gets all up in my face in the comments about babies and hot tubs and ice cream, you should know that the hot tub was lukewarm and he didn't eat ice cream (except for the teeeeny amount he licked off his hand after plunging his fist into Ryan's bowl).

There were plenty of fun family activities as well.

Ryan, Charlie, Charlie, Haddie, and Chris

...and a train ride
On the Zilker Train

Our friends C and H and their two kids came up from Houston to spend a night with us in Austin. We ate ice cream and barbeque, went on long walks, and rode the train at Zilker Park. There would have been canoing and playground-ing too if not for a torrential rainstorm that trapped us all under a picnic canopy for long enough that we figured we should just pack it in for the day and do another visit later on.

I'll post more about how I got to meet Amalah at a brunch held by one of her readers downtown. A summary: I found my people, they loved me, they complimented my shoes and my blog title, they called me clever and skinny. I ate a lot of food and drank a little wine. They squealed so loudly over Charlie (when I brought him in for a minute at the end) that Ryan could hear them from the street. In conclusion: I. need. to. move. down. here. as. soon. as. possible.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Do I even want "it all"?

I sent an email to a professor a couple of days ago to ask how she balances having kids (I knew she had twins and she has a baby Charlie's age) with her tenure-track faculty job. She asked me to stop by her office during office hours yesterday, so I went in eagerly expecting some great advice and maybe even a little sympathy.


So first of all, she has FOUR kids (two four year olds, a two year old, and a four month old). Somehow she crams all her work into three days a week so she can stay home the other two days (and she is very successful as a researcher and professor. national awards-successful). She has less childcare hours per week than I do (although she does have a housekeeper once a week and someone who makes her family homemade meals a couple of times a week).

Some good points:

(1) I am still hormonal and need to push through that because I will feel like my old self in four or five months. Do not make any big decisions right now.

(2) As a woman I am in demand for engineering positions and should have no trouble finding a job if I want one (one of her former students [who is a year older than me and has three kids, a Ph.D., and a faculty position... well la-dee-fricking-da] interviewed for jobs during months seven and eight of pregnancy and got multiple offers. Personally I don't know how it would be possible to behave properly in an interview situation during months seven and eight of pregnancy. Interviewer: "Where do you see yourself in five years?" Me: "Do you mind if I take off my shoes? Ow, crap! The baby just punched me in the ovary").

(3) A Ph.D. will give me much more flexibility than I would have if I didn't finish.

I left the meeting all fired up and ready to finish my dissertation, get a great job, and live happily ever after, the model of a modern woman with one foot in the working world and another in the family world (with a small personal staff to fill in the gaps). Um. Maybe.

Mostly what I took away from the meeting is that my doubts have nothing to do with Charlie. I think I just have normal grad student hatred for the dissertation process. And according to Dr. Advisor, that is how it is supposed to be.

In other news, Charlie's head is infinite in its largeness (and, of course, cuteness):


"The better to solve differential equations with" he says.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

And lo, there was cuteness.

Charlie and I went to the hospital to visit a friend who just had a baby girl. A TINY baby girl. The baby weighed as much as Charlie did at my 36 week ultrasound! She is adorable and the new mom looked great. I don't think she was afraid of taking a shower like I was.

Here's a picture of the four of us. What a difference four months makes, eh?
What a difference 4 months makes

Monday, March 5, 2007

just for the sake of posting something...

Argh, it's been a long time since I last posted something. I hope you haven't given up on me. But I guess if you're reading this it means you haven't given up on me, so thanks! I haven't posted because Ryan's schedule was ca-razy last week and that made my schedule ca-razy. And also I was trying to paint the family room. Oh and that other little project I've been dabbling in--my dissertation.

Anyway, not a lot going on (that is worth writing about anyway). Charlie went for a ride in the "big kid" swing (the one with the leg holes) at the park yesterday. That was really cool.

Oh and I made a most un-ladylike scene at Target on Saturday when I was tired and grouchy and under-caffienated and the flipping lid of the trunk hit me in the head at least eighteen times while I was trying to extricate the stroller. I was extremely underdressed too and it was cold again and after four days of temps in the upper sixties and seventies I was irrationally furious that the temperature dare drop below fifty again. I finally thought I had the stroller free but had only managed to free one of the handles. The rest had come unfolded IN the trunk making it even more impossible to get it out. I said something shocking about the stroller's mother and threatened it harshly (empty threat of course because what does one do with a twenty pound baby and no stroller?). That scared it into collapsing enough to be freed from the trunk but the stroller still got the last laugh. One of the wheels now refuses to touch the ground and instead hangs sideways just milimeters from the floor. Once inside we bought a puzzle for a friend's one-year old baby's birthday party and some tissue paper. Charlie helped me hold the items in the stroller and even unleashed his new tactile skills by mutillating the corner of the tissue paper with a drool covered hand. If anyone else's baby had done it it would not have been cute, but it was adorable when Charlie did it.

Last night we left Charlie with friends from church while we went out for dinner with Ryan's advisor and one of his colleagues. When we left my friendly relationship with Ryan's advisor was intact. I should win an Academy Award.

Finally, a woman whose blog I read ("read" is a very weak term... it's more like "I want to BE her"... somehow she made an entry about walking to Starbucks in the rain so damn funny I sprayed coffee out my nose) is going to be in Austin at the same time we are and she is hosting an open house and I can go and meet her. I will start practicing now so I don't act scary and needy and maybe we can be friends.