Thursday, May 31, 2007

Negatory

When I was living in the dorm in Baton Rouge a few years ago during my internship, my roommate and I went to the grocery store to buy her a pregnancy test. As if it wasn't embarrasing enough to be two college roommates buying a pregnancy test, we had to ask three people to open the case that held the tests. The only brand they had contained a "bonus test", bringing the total to three and to cut the tension we openly referred to it as the "slut value pak". We also bought a bottle of wine (in case of negative) and a bag of Hershey Kisses (in case of positive). Fortunately for my roommate, we spent the evening watching TV and drinking wine (and eating Hershey Kisses).

So the reason I haven't posted lately is because I wanted to know for sure what I was not writing about. And the extra test from the box that contained the test, the one that told us Charlie was coming, was negative. And I mean negative. It looked at me with that smug little (single) pink line and said "I know you've been totally exhausted, hungry, moody, and experiencing little stretching pains recently but it's NOTHING! Suck it up, lazy ass!"

I'm not going to go into detail because both my Grandmas, my mom, and my mother-in-law read this site, but it was very unlikely anyway. Mostly because of the breastfeeding. But I have been less than diligent about taking my birth control--I didn't even take it with me to Washington DC--so I thought I better check it out. You know, so I can continue my wild ways. But mostly so I know for sure whether I should reduce my prodigious caffeine intake.

We introduced sweet potatoes tonight. Charlie hated everything about them. In particular he was absolutely terrified by our food processor. He cried in his play pen when I turned it on. Like an idiot, I thought maybe if he could see what was going on he wouldn't be scared. So I turned it on while I was holding him and he screamed like he thought I was going to puree HIM and not the potatoes. Poor poor baby. The first bite made his whole body shudder before he gagged and drooled the entire bite down his chin. I tricked him into eating a couple of tablespoons worth of sweet potatoes by alternating bites with bites of banana. It was MESSY. I'll take some pictures tomorrow.

Monday, May 28, 2007

This is me overreacting...

Although is it really possible to overreact to watching your baby's carseat rolling over while you drive around an exit ramp?

This morning we took a family trip to Target. Santa (Ryan's parents) had promised to buy Charlie a new carseat when it was time, so he (they) came with us. We chose the Britax Marathon because it went with Charlie's outfit.
Testing out the carseats

Santa told us he could give us a check so we could buy the seat when we got home and then I had to come clean about our little mishap yesterday. We bought the seat on the spot.

Then we went out to the parking lot where after a spectacular abuse of the Mom-card, I insisted we install it right then and there. In my defense, I figured installing the new seat would be similar to installing the base for the other carseat which is incredibly intuitive and takes approximately nine seconds. It took forty-five agonizing minutes during which I stood awkwardly by the stroller with Santa (Ryan's parents) trying to make chit chat to reassure them that I had not lost my everloving mind.

Ryan installing the new seat
Here's Ryan reading the instructions while Ryan's parents ponder how the same person who let Charlie sleep by himself on a trundle bed two nights ago (because that is where he would SLEEP) was suddenly so concerned about safety that we were all standing in a Target parking lot blinking in the sun for forty-five minutes.

Once the seat was installed, we strapped Charlie in and took pictures. I just noticed that he is slyly flipping the bird. Looks like he's about one picture away from hurling his cell phone at the paparazzi.
Success!

Later Charlie treated his entourage to lunch at a local deli.
My future's so bright...

And tomorrow he'll be catching the Red Eye home to start working on his latest project with a-listers Mom and Papa and also Rossby the Dog (as himself).
Ready to fly

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Unacceptable

Charlie's carseat flipped onto its side today as Ryan drove around a cloverleaf on our way to meet Mrs. Half today. We had it installed exactly as the directions specified for "infant seat installation without base," but the whole thing flipped over, Charlie and all. Charle was asleep. I tipped him back up and tightened the strap as best I could. He looked at me groggily, but then went back to sleep. Poor guy was fast asleep one minute, hanging from his carseat straps the next. It all happened so fast he probably had no idea it happened.

Reason number 67548 Ryan is awesome is that he took Charlie to Sears while I met with Mrs. Half to look for a new carseat. He wasn't able to find one, but he did find a better way to hook the seatbelt into Charlie's car seat. We field tested it by pushing and pulling the seat to see if we could tip it over or get it loose. We went home, confident that the new system would hold, but we are going to Target tomorrow morning. Charlie is one inch away from outgrowing his current seat and I'm not going to wait to find out how our current arrangement would stand up to a wreck.

I had a great time visiting Mrs. Half. We chatted about blogs, and other bloggers we've met, and our respective kiddos. The conversation quickly evolved from "I really identified with your post about X" to "My first sip of beer after the baby was born was like a sexual experience." I'm so glad we were able to work it out.

Tonight Ryan's parents offered to stay home while Charlie slept so Ryan and I could go on a date. We tried to go to Target to look at carseats but they were closed so we went to Sonic and split an Oreo Blast. Then we sat in the car in front of his house and made out like teenagers while bluegrass gospel played on the radio. It was like high school. Except no one flashed the porchlight and we got to be in his room with the door closed after.

Friday, May 25, 2007

I just finished packing me and Charlie for our trip to Dallas tomorrow and I sure hope Ryan didn't plan on bringing anything more than a few pairs of underpants and a toothbrush because while he was out buying me cookies (NOW! I NEED THEM NOW!!) I filled our whole suitcase with my shoes.

Nibbs is asleep. He fell asleep easily tonight holding on to one of the tusks of his elephant lovey. Last night it took him nearly two hours to drop off. Ryan and I laid on his bedroom floor listening to him kick his mattress and make pterodactyl noises in protest. Every time we dared peek over the rail he smiled and made snow angels in his blankets. Then he woke up during a thunderstorm around three, for no real reason around three-thirty, and because he wanted company at four-thirty. Ryan finally went in there and got him to sleep until around seven. I'm not sure what is causing such a change in his sleeping behavior, the phantom teeth?

Whatever it is it made me sleep through his afternoon nap. I didn't get anything done, but it sure was nice to curl up on the couch for a little while.

Everyone have a great holiday weekend.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Maybe they'll consider it "enthusiasm"

After my great experience in Arlington I came home ready to jump with both feet into the real world. I was going to "do it all" to "stand up and be counted" and all of that. I sat down at my kitchen table/desk and consulted the internets. I found no less than eight listings for a job that sounded ideal for me. What luck! I spent all day filling in the online resume and applying to the jobs. When I had submitted six applications I had to go pick up Charlie so I never got around to doing the other two. "No problem," I thought, "if it's meant to be it's meant to be."

At the end of each application you get a fax cover sheet so you can fax your academic transcript. I carefully saved each one as a .pdf and gave them to Ryan to print at school. I ordered transcripts from the university and when they came, I gathered all my materials and drove up to school to send the fax. The instructions said to write in the job posting number in the box, so I went back to the website and went to the summary page to look up all the job posting numbers for my jobs. I got a postit note and a pen and wrote down the first job posting number. Then I scrolled down and started to write down the second posting number. Which was exactly the same as the first. The third? The same. ALL SIX LISTINGS WERE FOR THE SAME JOB.

So, I guess I'll be working at my kitchen table for longer than I thought. Because I didn't see "total dumbass" listed among the "preferred qualifications." And I'm sure that any "attention to detail" I might have demonstrated in my resume was rendered null when I submitted SIX APPLICATIONS FOR THE SAME JOB.

Yesterday I took Charlie to an impromptu playdate with our neighbor's 18 month old son, E. They played nicely for about fifteen minutes before E got his hand within grabbing distance of Charlie. Charlie pulled E's hand to his mouth and was about to sink his gums into E's fingers when E pulled his hand away and shoved Charlie on the shoulder. Charlie cried while E eyed him warily. E's mom and I laughed while E moved all his toys out of Charlie's reach in retalliation. Charlie said "Whatever, man, I'll just suck on your remote control." Kids!

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Glamorous Life of a WOHM

In DC I had a taste of working full time for the first time and I loved it (and I do mean "a taste" because the actual full-time part only lasted for one day). It helped that I knew Charlie was in great hands and usually he was right upstairs from the conference where I could go visit him during breaks.

I loved having a place to be in the morning and a reason to dress nicely. I loved the schedule and the interaction and the challenge. I loved wearing a professional dress and panty hose (control top? hell yeah!) and heels and a name tag (and also carrying A's Coach bag around). I loved that people asked me tough questions about my research and let me ask them questions about theirs. I loved fitting in among the professionals at the Starbucks in the hotel lobby. I loved that they didn't know I spend most days in $12 pants and aging screen printed tshirts working at my kitchen table part time.

I enjoyed the conference and Charlie had a great time with my dad.

I intended to write this post from a sarcastic point of view, opening with a story about sitting on the bathroom floor in my pantyhose, pumping Charlie's breakfast because I had to be downstairs before he woke up, or maybe about coming upstairs to feed him only to have the opposite boob leak through my nice shirt, requiring some creative name tag placement for the rest of the day. Or maybe about the incredible amounts of iced tea I drank to stay awake during the meeting after being up with Charlie multiple times during the night.

But managing many varied tasks at one time is one of my strengths. So is knowing when something is "good enough" so I can be free to move on to something new. I can't be a perfect mother and a perfect academic. But maybe I can do a good job at both.

Friday, May 18, 2007

"...We appologize for any inconvenience."

As I was trying to check in curbside Tuesday to avoid the huge line at the ticket counter inside, the guy looked at my reservation and then started laughing. I should have known then that my flight home would be inconvenient at the very very best.

I went inside and stood at the back of the huge line because Mr. Happy the curbside guy told me he couldn't help me with my connection outside. I mentioned to the woman in front of me that my flight was delayed three hours and she said "Same for everyone here. This line hasn't moved in twenty minutes." I almost started crying but instead got a little bit too ranty about airlines and how I've never had a good experience with American and how it's always something and it sucks because there's really nothing you can do about it. She just stared at me, afraid to make any sudden moves.

Finally, she asked if I needed to borrow her phone. Gratefully I called Ryan and told him what was going on. I told him I'd probably just stay another night in Arlington and try again in the morning. I was disappointed but it seemed like an easy enough plan (albeit one that involved taking Charlie on the metro by myself with all my bags and all the escalator peril that comes with that). When I got to the counter they put me on a Continental flight that would get me home at 10:30. Perfect.

Not perfect.

I called Ryan and told him the great news then went to the gate to wait for my plane (I should also tell you that I was flagged at security and made to stand in a glass cage with Charlie while they searched my bags, found Charlie's sunscreen, which I had forgotten about, and then eyed me as if I was Osama Bin Ladin himself). The plane was supposed to take off at 5:55. The monitor above the door said "6:00" but I figured it wasn't anything to worry about. At 5:50 the plane still hadn't arrived at the gate and I started getting nervous because we would be going through the sprawling Houston airport where Ryan and I missed our connection on our honeymoon because that stupid airport is just too big and you have to run and take a little train and it is just a mess.

I asked at the ticket counter about the delay and they told me that I should still have 20 minutes to make my connection and that that would be plenty of time. And as a helpful backup, they'd booked me on a flight to THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE STATE FROM WHERE I LIVE. I tried to remain calm as I explained "I don't know where that is and it is certainly not anywhere close to where I need to go." He said I should think about flying out in the morning.

I called Ryan again and told him the news (actually I screeched it, laden with swear words and sobbing into the phone). He said I should try to get to Houston because that would give me the most options for getting home the next day and told me he would find me a good hotel with cribs and he'd even call our friends who live there and ask them if they would like to have dinner with me.

We got on the plane an hour late and then it sat on the runway for half an hour. We finally took off and I started to relax, grateful to finally be going somewhere. About an hour in, the pilot came on and told us that we were in a holding pattern over Atlanta and that we would land at 9:15 in Houston IF we didn't get put into another holding pattern forcing us to land in SAN ANTONIO so we didn't run out of gas (really not making this up, and yes it does get worse).

The lady next to me, who was finishing up her second Bloody Mary, and I decided to rent a car in San Antonio and drive to Austin if that happened. Then she ordered coffee with Bailey's.

Finally we land in Houston at 9:15. The woman at the gate told me that my next flight had already taken off and that I should wait there for a new boarding pass. I waited for a few minutes and someone else came and looked at the computer and told me my flight was still there and "if I hurried, I could make it." So Charlie and I ran through the airport, got on the little train, ran some more, and made it to the gate for my next flight which was delayed until 10:15. I collapsed into a chair, relieved that we were going to make it home that night.

After sitting there for quite some time, I asked someone for the time. It was 10:30. The airline got on the intercom and told us that our plane was there and we had a flight attendant but that they were still looking for a pilot because for some reason our pilot had GONE HOME FOR THE NIGHT. I finally got Charlie to sleep by strapping him into the carseat and walking 87373 slow laps around the waiting area repeating "Sleeeeeepy boy, goooooo to sleep." Eventually we got on the plane.

We got home after one o'clock in the morning. Charlie was awake a total of 45 minutes the next day during his five hours of daycare. I drank more caffienated beverages than is recommended by the ADA for a week and only managed to slog through one blog post and no work.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mr. Nibbs Goes to Washington

Charlie with a funny hat
(The real reason I became a parent is because you can take some really hy-larious vacation pictures of your unsuspecting baby. Stuff your husband would never let you do to him)

Because I lived for so long in such a nice place and because I now live an a less nice place that I really love for a variety of reasons, it is hard to picture myself living anywhere else but one of those two places. As a result, Ryan and I have had a series of very frustrating conversations that go like this:
R: I have an offer for an on-site interview in western Massachussetts
Me: [crickets]
R: Is that somewhere you would want to live?
Me: [avoid eye contact]
R: Soooo
Me: Isn't that where all the New England rednecks live?
R: I should say no?
Me: I DON'T KNOW! WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME DECIDE OH MY GOSH LET'S JUST STAY HERE!

Now I know where I want to live. I want to live in Arlington, Virginia. I even found a nice house to live in. Here I am scaring the hell out of the current residents by acting like I'm going to walk into their yard at 8:30 on Sunday morning:
Me at "my new house"

It is within walking distance of a nice grocery store, several coffee shops, some restaraunts, a mall, and a metro stop. Oh, and the National Science Foundation where I am going to work (they don't know this yet).

I was excitedly explaining my affection for Arlington to a woman at a brunch we went to at my dad's friend's house and when I finished she unsmilingly said "People in Maryland don't like Virginia." To which I replied "I'm going to get some more wine, can I get you anything?" before turning around and rolling my eyes at no one in particular (Ryan said he got the same vibe when he lived in College Park, MD for a summer. People from Maryland are "state-ist").

Here's another picture of my house. This one is from the front. That's my aunt on the left and my dad.

Where I want to live

On Sunday afternoon my dad and Charlie and I went downtown to show Charlie where laws are made. Charlie really got into the spirit of democracy and surprised us all when he started yelling through one of the gates at the White House "Mr. President, when are we going to have federal legislation to make the workplace more family friendly? National standards for daycare NOW!"

Charlie trying to enter the White House grounds

My dad and Charlie

Charlie had a great time with my dad. They went for walks and watched movies and took long naps. I was very grateful that Charlie was in such good hands while I was at the conference. The conference was awesome. There was a lot of discussion about careers aimed at the grad students. There was a session on increasing diversity in grad programs that turned into a forum on how to increase enrollment of women by making graduate school and jobs more family friendly. It was really the kick in the pants I needed to stay motivated (although right now I am sitting at the coffee-shop-in-the-the-grocery-store working on my blog and catching up on my Google Reader, but that's because I'm so exhausted I can't think straight. Remind me to write about my hellish experience with American and Continental Airlines sometime soon. The title will be "Cancelled flights, delays, holding patterns, rerouting, thunderstorms, and one very very cranky baby.").

The trip was great. I could have stayed for a month. I told Ryan to pack my books and my pearls and my laptop and to sell the rest then come to Arlington with Rossby so we could start our new life. He thought I was kidding. Oh well.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Why run when you can lactate??

Most women dread their yearly trip to THE doctor, but after having Charlie and spending time in the hospital where the nurse comes in to "check your stitches" while your boss and your pastor are awkwardly standing side by side staring intently at a smudge on the ceiling somewhere, it's really not that big of a deal.

Plus this time we began the appointment by looking at pictures of Charlie and she oohed and ahhed about how cute he is and how big he is and "oh look, he's sitting up! what a smart baby!" Worth it!

And I'm not gonna lie, I enjoyed being the skinniest girl in the waiting room (ok it was full of pregnant women).

Anyway, I'm telling you all of this to tell you that when I stepped on the scale, the nurse set the big weight and then started moving the little weight to the left, then a little more, then a little more, until the scale was balanced at SEVEN POUNDS BELOW MY PRE-REGNANCY WEIGHT. The even better news is that I am going to make a million dollars by marketing my new book: Eat all the coffee cake you want and still lose forty-seven pounds without exercising.

I celebrated by scrapping my plan to eat less crap and then running out to Starbucks for more coffee cake while I was waiting for my prescription. And then I made Ryan buy cookie mix while he was at the store. And then we ordered a pizza.

I'm beginning to think the extended breastfeeding camp has a point.

And also, I have a serious case of Mom Brain. Exhibit A:



And that was AFTER I condensed two cans into one. Anyone have any good recipes that call for breadcrumbs? I only use them for meatloaf (2/3 C), which is why I bought another can today. Awesome.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The long quiet summer has begun

It's my favorite time of year. The weather is warm, the trees are in bloom, and all of the sorority girls have gone home for the summer to do whatever it is sorority girls do all summer leaving the city safe for grad students in undersized cars to drive their babies around willy nilly, free from fears of being killed upon impact by a ninety pound nineteen-year-old driving a five thousand pound car while applying mascara and talking on the phone.

In the coffee shop I can actually hear my iPod and it's once again safe to attempt to have dinner at Chili's on a Friday night. And for two and a half glorious months I won't have to see one more Nicole Richie wannabe wearing sweatpants and a tshirt (Kappa Pajama 2006!) carrying a $500 purse SLAM THE DOOR IN HER DAD'S FACE AT A RESTARAUNT (for instance).

They'll come back like they always do. And then it will be Welcome Week, and they will be at their most obnoxious and shrill and they will travel around in packs on chartered buses and, in the case of the boys, in the backs of pickup trucks. But right now, it is quiet.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

When Jupiter Aligns With Mars

I didn't know weekends could be this good! For the first weekend in a long long time we didn't have snow or ice or cold temperatures or tropical storm force winds or torrential rain. It was just pretty pretty pretty from Friday afternoon all the way through Sunday evening.

On Friday, A and I crashed an atmospheric science barbaque at Dr. Advisor's house. A's husband is part of the department but he was out of town and since I knew almost no one there I invited her to come as my date. Shortly after we got there (quite late because of my mad navigation skills) we stashed Charlie in Dr. Advisor's son's crib (where he immediately discovered not one but TWO of R's loveys, rubbed them all over his head, and then settled in for a long overdue nap while sucking on one of them*) and headed to the patio for a beer.

Abby and I had a beer
(You totally can't tell that's a maternity shirt I'm wearing can you? Oh ho ho I am a clever one!)

*I'm pretty sure that sucking on another kid's lovey is some kind of baby faux pas; must remember that in the future.

Charlie slept for a little more than an hour then joined us on the patio for a bottle of his own. Then he drove A and me home.

Charlie was our DD
"You ladies need a ride?"

Saturday morning Ryan and Charlie and I drove to a local coffee shop to get something to drink and then go for a walk in a pretty neighborhood nearby. We walk through this neighborhood frequently to admire the stately houses and the large trees and talk about what it would be like ot live there. We passed a particularly pretty house with an "open house" sign on the lawn and I said "What a great place that would be to live, look there are even kids right across the street!" and gestured at a woman sitting on her driveway with a toddler and a little boy. She said hello and asked how old Charlie was. We struck up a polite conversation. Her daughter was one and her son was four. Her daughter's birthday was that day. We ended up talking for about 45 minutes out on the driveway.

Charlie started to fuss so I laid him down on the driveway to change his diaper and the woman asked if I'd like to come in and use her daughter's changing table. Since Ryan and I are nosy nosy people and we were in a neighborhood in which we regularly fantasize about living it didn't matter that I already had Charlie's shorts off and was halfway done with the diaper change. Her daughter's room was straight out of a magazine. I tried so hard not to gush as I cleaned Charlie up with a name brand, extra sensitive, ten-ply wipe, but it really was beautiful.

Then we went to her kitchen so she could get some crackers for her kids. Charlie was squirmy (because he was so very hungry and utterly unaware of my personal need for friends (!) with kids (!!)). Jane said "I have a bag of toys he would love and I was going to just give them away. Before I could protest she had run off to get them. When she came back we all sat on the floor and she started taking beautiful colorful toys out of a grocery bag. Charlie, who was sitting in Ryan's lap, was entranced. Jane's son brought toy after toy over to Charlie until he was a little Charlie island in the middle of all of them. He was a happy happy boy.

When she insisted we take the toys with us I told her I would find a way to reciprocate. She said "You can reciprocate by coming over sometime for dinner so all the kids can play in the pool!" It was too good to be true. I got her number (yay!) and we are going to get the kids together sometime soon. In the meantime I will be baking some brownies and finding a nice bottle of wine to leave on their porch along with a (warm and polite and hopefully not awkwardly gushy) thank you note.

Today Ryan took me out for a wonderful Mother's Day brunch (because I will be out of town next week). They didn't have highchairs, but Charlie was very content to sit on Ryan's lap and play with his new suction cup jungle toy (that we got from Jane) that was attached to the table. The food was wonderful. Ryan is wonderful. It was so nice. I finished my meal and Charlie was getting tired, so Ryan handed him to me to see if I could get him to go to sleep. While I was wrangling him into a position that almost always makes him go to sleep, this happened:

Diaper Wedge

Suddenly I had a handful of baby-bottom and I was laughing so hard tears were forming in my eyes. Somehow he fell asleep like that and we received many looks of admiration as we carried him still sleeping (and with my hand covering his wardrobe malfunction) out of the restaraunt after our meal.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Six Months

Nibbs turned six months old this week. We celebrated with cupcakes. And by "we" I mean Ryan and me (mostly me). We let Charlie play with his and then when he figured out it was food we took it away and put him in the bathtub, which to him is way more fun than eating cupcakes.

6 Months Old

He's learned a lot in six months. He can sit up and eat bananas. He likes to sleep with a "lovey" (anything soft that can be rubbed on his face will work, but my favorite is his elephant) and a pacifier. He likes to pat things over and over again. He likes to play with groceries while you shop (reason #292 I can't move out of this town is because the other day the cashier at the grocery store typed in the SKU for a bag of shredded mozzarella instead of taking it away from Charlie so she could scan the barcode). He pops his legs up when you lay him on the changing table. He has toy preferences (favorites include the thing where you stack the plastic rings on a plastic stick and a vaguely disturbing rattle that features a pig with plastic rings coming out of its body). He hates it when the sun is in his eyes and he loves it when you sing Old MacDonald Had a Farm and make exaggerated pig snorting noises. If you stand him up near the coffee table he can hang onto it and stand for a little while. He has a friend named Jack at daycare. Jack is 9 months old and says "Bye bye". This scares the heck out of me.

Here are a few pictures of Charlie over the months. I'm not as organized as some people who take a wonderful series of pictures of their baby every week and then (gasp!) label them (!!), but they're in order (ish).

Charlie Time History

I forgot how tan Charlie was in the beginning. That was the result of my codeine/sleep deprivation induced jaundice therapy idea (taking off all his clothes and feeding him in the backyard) It worked like a champ, the pediatrician marveled at how fast his biliruben levels declined. And he looked like a movie star!

Oh, and that hat from the first picture still fits but it looks pretty silly. He only wears it around the house now. Just kidding (but not really).

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

True Confessions

This morning I was listening to the radio on the way to school. The DJs were talking to a famous comedian on the phone who was going to rent a private jet to go to a boxing match in Las Vegas. One of the DJs said "You're going to have tickets right down on the floor where you can rub Oscar's shoulders between rounds."

I thought "Oscar de la Renta is still boxing? Isn't he dead?"