Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Great North-South Debate

In about a month, my fellowship runs out and Ryan will be starting a new job to support us all while I finish my dissertation. Where that new job will be is a huge decision and we are really struggling with it. The first city, which we'll call "North", although I'm sure if have been reading you will easily figure out where it is, would give us an opportunity to try living in an urban setting. Just today I found an apartment within walking distance of no fewer than SIX coffee shops.

When I think about living there I get all giddy as I imagine walking to Whole Foods with Charlie in the Ergo and leisurely selecting locally grown organic apples in front of the store while making easy friendships with all the stroller wielding hippy women I remember from our visit. I imagine taking Charlie sledding in the winter and then coming home to hot cocoa and cozy quilts and homemade cookies. I imagine weekend trips to the beach and summer afternoons at the science museum and Ryan taking Charlie sailing at the sailing club we found (just ONE STOP away from the kickass apartment I found). And also, I imagine myself working at a university (there are sixty of them in North), wearing long skirts and carrying a briefcase on the subway and having colleagues and interesting conversations.

When I think about living in the other place, we'll call it "South", I get excited too. We'd be near my parents and my sister and a day's drive from Ryan's parents. My aunt and uncle and their four kids live nearby. We could take Charlie to the lake and my dad could teach him about boats. We could meet my parents for breakfast tacos, a Saturday tradition in my family. Charlie could grow up with big loud family gatherings where the kids disappear as soon as they hit the door to build forts and play hide and seek and watch a movie sitting together on the sofa-bed with Dixie Cups full of popcorn and KoolAide. It is warm there, nearly year round, and, well, MEXICAN FOOD!

So in the morning, if I want to go to the coffee shop, where I have to drive, I want to go to North and the whole time I'm driving I am whistling a happy happy tune that one day soon I will be able to roll out of bed, throw on some pants and some shoes and walk to the coffee shop. WITH MY FEET! And then I figure I'll stop at the grocery store to pick up a frozen pizza while I'm out and as soon as I round the corner into the aisle where the freezers are goosebumps pop up all over my body and I start thinking maybe South would be better, what with the Seasonal Affective Disorder and all (I tend to go a little nuts here if a cold snap lasts more than eighteen hours or so). On the way home when I get stuck behind some ninety-five year old woman applying mascara and drinking God-knows-what as she drives down BOTH lanes of the street then I want to move to North. Think about housing prices? South wins. Think about fall? North wins. Think about our families? South wins. Think about Fourth of July? North WINS. Ad infinitum.

I'm also making this decision easy on Ryan by emailing him dozens of links to apartments on Craigslist from one city and then the other. And by declaring my certain allegiance to one city and then the other depending on how much sleep I've had and my proximity to the freezer door.

Looking for a reference.
Charlie says "Mama, QC871 D34 1992 isn't here, would QC871 D34 1979 work?"

Monday, July 30, 2007

Being the Bad Cop

This morning Ryan and I were in the kitchen, sleepily going through the motions of the morning routine--preparing bottles, making Charlie's oatmeal, stuffing diapers, making sandwiches for lunch, trying to be polite before we got the chance to visit our respective caffeine suppliers while Charlie played quietly on the floor in the family room.

Charlie's newfound mobility (a combination of belly pivoting, scooting backwards, and rolling) means that we have to be a little more watchful while he is playing on the floor than before (a point made quite clear when I returned from the bathroom expecting to see Charlie playing in the middle of the mattress on the floor but instead found him happily lying under the coffee table a few feet away).

While squinting at the graduations on the side of one of Charlie's bottles and trying (unsuccessfuly) to pour water from a gallon-sized jug into the opening at the top without splashing icy cold water all over my hand I heard a strange thud. Charlie was laying on his back, feet against the doors to the entertainment center, a blue stacking ring braceleted around his right rist. When he saw me, he started kicking again and giggled. Thud thud thud, giggle giggle giggle. We both had to turn around so he didn't see how hard we were laughing.

"Wait, he's kicking furniture! And he's watching us to see if we will react!" I struggled to maintain a serious face as I moved him to another part of the room to play with an appropriate toy. And so it begins.

Charlie got a haircut on Thursday!

Before:
Before

After:
After

Did you know babies have to wear socks to get a haircut? I've never felt like such a redneck as I did on Thursday when I had to go into the DollarTree next to the ProCuts to buy Charlie a pair of socks so he could get his hair cut.

He was awarded a certificate for bravery when it was all over. And I'm sure one day I will look back and he will have seemed brave. But for now I will remember him clinging to my chest whimpering and burying his face in my shoulder. I left a LARGE tip.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Every blade of grass on the mountain, every drop in the sea...we are only one river! only one sea! lalalalala!

I just downloaded the album "Around the Campfire" by Peter, Paul, and Mary. I could die of happiness. But only after I marry iTunes.

I am working (and trying REALLY hard not to sing "Inch by inch, row by row..." aloud in the coffee shop), but you should really go check out this by Amalah. It will turn you into a squishy mess, guaranteed.

The combination of the album and the Amalah post has made me the squishiest of messes but I must continue writing commentary on my graphs* for my meeting tomorrow. Dr. Advisor is just going to have to deal with the little butterflies and flowers I have been doodling in the margins.

*Yes! Graphs! Made with DATA! That came from my WORKING PROGRAM! Good golly Frances this might just be possible!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Roly Poly

Charlie and I just got back from a couple of days in Austin with my parents and my aunt. Charlie went on his fifteenth and sixteenth plane rides, went swimming, ate his first pancake, and hit his head on the floor approximately three-hundred and seventy-four times as he learned to get onto his tummy from a sitting position or slipped while trying to climb my legs. He loved swimming and loved riding around in his boat (it was a real boat! with leg holes!).

In his quest to master the correct hands and knees position for crawling he's been trying out the army crawl, the belly pivot, and my favorites, the downward facing dog and the plank position. (While I was googling those two I learned that both positions are part of the Standing Sun Salute, at which Charlie was quite proficient before he was born. Of course I didn't call it the Standing Sun Salute then, I called it the "GET YOUR FIST OUT OF MY APPENDIX! pose" and Ryan called it "But you just went to the bathroom at church!" pose).

While on the path to enlightenment, Charlie has resorted to rolling to get where he needs to go. At the airport this morning he was laying nicely on the carpeted airport floor, happily chewing on a toy while I happily chewed on a chocolate chip scone, when he suddenly took off rolling. I watched him and he stopped several feet away on his tummy still chewing on the toy. I shook a colorful caterpillar rattle and encouraged him to come back (I was afraid to get up to go get him. I don't know how far away from your bags you have to get before they come and take them away per the announcement made every five minutes in both English and Spanish but given how many bottles of sunscreen I've lost to the TSA I didn't want to take the chance). He blew a rasberry at me, did a quick upward facing dog and then rolled back over to me. "Namaste Mama!" he said and tried to grab my citrus mango green iced tea (I heart Austin and their hippy airport food).

I swear his first words will be "Mama's drink." and after he says it he's going to hold up an imaginary sippy cup and say "Charlie's drink!"

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Light. Tunnel.

The meeting with Dr. Advisor today went really well, lasted just over three hours and resulted in a working program. I've been working on this problem since February with no success. Every day I would try to fix it and every day I would fail. It was getting bad. I read every reference I could find over and over thinking I must have missed the key piece of information that would help me. I talked to the professor who wrote the original program I had based mine on (even she was baffled). I wrote pages of notes to give to one of Ryan's professors who agreed to take a look at it for me. I was out of ideas. Dr. Advisor rescued me. I am grateful.

Since I got home from the meeting I have generated almost all the data I need and started on the analysis I'll put in my dissertation. And I've pumped 7 ounces of milk. Watch me go!

Thanks go to A for the gift card that enabled us to go out for Chinese tonight to celebrate.

Now if you'll excuse me, I trapped a roach under a tupperware bowl and some textbooks so I need to go in another room until Ryan comes home to kill it.

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Charlie is happy for me. But mostly he is happy about the seven ounces of milk.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Woo hoo!



Who knew that my fancy work computer would do things my laptop would not?

(and that is a Normal distribution, not Weibull... I have to leave that part for tomorrow. I was not expecting to figure this out so I only brought some boring papers to read before my meeting and not all of my data. But still, woo hoo!)

Longshot

Anyone know anything about using Matlab to generate a probability density function with a Weibull distribution?

Because I sure as heck don't.

And I need to figure it out before my long (all day!) humiliating meeting with Dr. Advisor, which is tomorrow.

Next stop Starbucks.

Update: I think what I need help with is "fitting a Weibull distribution" to some data I already have. Thanks so much to the two nice people who have already left comments!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Just One

We took Charlie and Rossby-the-Dog to the park on Saturday morning. On the way we stopped at the grocery store to buy donuts and for me to stop at the Starbucks next door.

On the way into the store Ryan said "What do you want?"

"Just one."

"One what?"

"One chocolate. One glazed."

Sorry I've been quiet. Friday was awful (nothing serious) but I got a lot of work done. Friday night our internet went down until Ryan was able to take our wireless modem into the store on Saturday afternoon. That was a long fourteen hours. We've had dear old friends staying with us this weekend. We've had a nice time with them.

And A? We moved the bed out of the living room and the dogs only woke me up once last night.

That is all.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Food Police Have Been Deleted from my Favorites

Haha! Take that suckers! They were making me a teensy bit insane and I was turning into that summer roommate I had once and never really liked who would announce the calorie content of every meal she had as she was eating it. Sometimes she would helpfully point out the difference between the calories of her food and the calories of my food. She was a HOOT.

We are eating waffles and sausage for dinner tonight.

I did the academic equivalent of drunk dialing today. That's when, in a fit of over-caffeinated frustration, you write an inappropriately long email detailing the different things you have tried and that have failed followed by a statement along the lines of "I can't do this it's hopeless I'm sorry for being so dumb" and then send it off to your advisor without thinking that perhaps a simple "I'm having some trouble, when's a good time to stop by?" would have done the trick and made me look a lot less manic depressive.

So you can see how a veggie burger on whole wheat bread with a side of carrot sticks dipped in hummus is just NOT GOING TO DO IT FOR ME TONIGHT.

Bright side? I have a long one-on-one meeting with Dr. Advisor next week where we are going to figure this out (and possibly also a trained professional will be on standby to stab me in the neck with a tranquilizer filled syringe should things get out of hand).

Lastly, we are in big, big trouble:

Uh Oh!

He was even higher than that before I got the camera ready. Maybe he can join me when they put me in a padded room. Those are baby-proofed right?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Day 1 of my Glamour.com food diary

7:30 am: 1 banana, 100 calories
mood: content
location: kitchen table

9:30 am: 1 handful raw almonds, 160 calories
mood: content
location: kitchen table

11:30 am: 1 serving roasted turkey, 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 7 cherry tomatoes with 1 tbsp Italian Dressing, 2 slices Pepperjack cheese, 300 calories
mood: self righteous, prideful re: my self control
location: kitchen table

11:35 am: 1 medium-sized snickerdoodle cookie, 100 calories
mood: pissed off
location: kitchen table

11:45 am: 1 medium-sized snickerdoodle cookie, 100 calories
mood: near-homicidal rage directed at my research
location: standing in kitchen, refrigerator door open

11:47 am: 1 medium-sized snickerdoodle cookie, 100 calories
mood: hate hate hate hate hate hate
location: standing at kitchen counter over open cookie canister

I can already imagine the next entry

1:30 pm: 14 medium-sized snickerdoodle cookies, one-half tub cream cheese, three biter biscuits, and a box of microwave turkey bacon, 7000 calories
mood: WHY WON'T YOU LEAVE ME ALONE STUPID FOOD POLICE
location: none of your damn business!!!

I think I might be a stress-eater.

The website told me that my BMI is 24.9 which is 0.1 point below "overweight". Or as I like to call it "perfectly freaking normal thankyouverymuch now pass the coffee cake." Not a good motivator. But I reminded myself that my goal is to eat healthier to be a good example to Charlie. And also to stop eating an extra thousand calories a day in coffee shop cookies before Charlie stops nursing so that I don't grow a second ass.

The food police also told me I should get 30 minutes of moderate cardio exercise today. I think the food police need to chill out.

And also? I think I am having boob cramps. Just the left one and it hurts just enough to be really annoying. Anyone know what this is?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Charlie Says

Charlie "self portrait"

"I'm worried about you, Mama. Why don't you have a nice glass of tea and lie down? How about some cookies?

"I am experiencing separation anxiety, a perfectly normal part of my development. And you are experiencing horomones because I have been eating more solid foods. They make you a little nuts. Why, don't you remember how loud you used to yell at the other drivers before I was born? I do.

"I had a nice day today. I played with other babies and we went for a walk. I was fed and my diaper was changed and they held me when I was sad. I even took a nap! And you know that it's not easy to get me to take a nap these days. And I was so happy to see you when you came to pick me up.

"You must be so relieved that your paycheck finally arrived in full today and that you found a previously overlooked citation for a book in the library that will help you with your work. I am glad you are feeling a little better. Let's eat some kiwi and bananas and watch a movie together, mmmm k?"

Thursday, July 5, 2007

New England Super-Trip Wrap Up

It would be difficult to overstate my love for the Fourth of July. My church has a big Fourth of July concert every year complete with a patriotic sing-along and a medley of armed forces theme songs that make me so giddy I have to whisper inappropriate comments to Ryan to stop from tearing up as I bounce in my seat along with the music.

So you can imagine my excitement when I learned that we would be in Boston, home of the biggest Fourth of July celebration anywhere in the country, for the Fourth. And ohhhh myyyy goooooodnessss was it great.

Having already decided that the fireworks show would be too late and possibly too scary for Charlie, we hopped on the T into Boston from Cambridge in the early evening and walked up the Esplanade from the Charles/MGH stop to experience the spectacle of 350,000 people, 150,000 more people than live in MyTown, all gathered to hear the Pops and see the fireworks.

As soon as our train popped out of the tunnel onto the bridge over the river we could see them. The river was filled with boats and both shores were lined with people as far as the eye could see. It was magical. We walked far enough up Storrow Drive to see the corner of the Hatch Shell. I was practically vibrating with excitement. I was my own light source.

Being there made me think that just maybe if we brought the Pack and Play out we could make it work, you know, in keeping with the theme of the trip which was "Drag Charlie around forcing him to experience new things until one of us starts crying," but it was threatening to rain and Charlie is still getting over his cold, so we decided to head back to the hotel and put him to bed.

Fortunately (!!!) we were staying at the Hotel Dreams Are Made Of again and they are wonderful and I heart them. Because they gave us a room OVERLOOKING THE RIVER. THE RIVER WHERE THE FIREWORKS ARE!!! I wasn't sure we'd be able to see because we were only on the seventh floor. But while I was watching the Pops play the Star Spangled Banner on our enormous TV and saw the F-16s do their flyover I ran to the window and THERE THEY WERE. (In addition to patriotic sing-alongs and armed forces medleys, both of which were featured during last night's concert, military flyovers also get me excited to the point of vaclempt. It can be embarassing, but it's ok because Ryan gets me.)

We watched the fireworks at the conclusion of the 1812 Overture standing at our window. We didn't even have to get out of bed to watch the big fireworks show at the end. It was set to music which we had going on the TV. Special fancy hotel bed with two cozy quilts plus fireworks plus Pops concert on TV? Wow wow wee wow.

Here are some pictures from our trip I've been meaning to post:

IMG_3056

IMG_3042
Charlie enjoying his first Indian food, Naan. We ate at this place called the Kebab Factory that I picked at random from our car because I was starving and tired of being in the car. I told Ryan that I knew it was good because it had a Zagat sticker on the window. I didn't tell him that I only knew what that meant because I saw it on "The Apprentice" a couple of seasons ago.

IMG_3048
We worked off our Indian food at this cool playground with big swings and fountains to play in.

IMG_3036
Cape Cod swimming. Not a fan. I think the breaking waves were scary. He did a little better when we were out past those (until one big wave soaked him all the way to his chin).

IMG_3040
Sleeping off the swimming.

Wading
Maine swimming. The water is freezing but he didn't mind.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Magical Childhood Moments Part 2

Still having a great time... we are in Cape Cod now. I was a bit dissapointed that we didn't almost die driving through Boston as I had anticipated. We didn't have to swerve, or honk, or make up new swear words capable of capturing the depth of our anger at the driver of the car/truck/bus who cut me off/nearly pushed me off a bridge/kinda looked at me funny. Traffic moved nicely except for one small snarl that took about ten minutes to get through. Screamers McGee was taking a nap, having worn himself out screaming his way through all twelve miles of New Hampshire. It was nice.

This morning we went to visit my Grandpa and introduce him to Charlie. Charlie sweetly put his hand around my Grandpa's finger and shook his hand and then patted him on his arm repeatedly during the visit. When we stood together for a picture, Charlie put his hand on Grandpa's shoulder and looked at him thoughtfully. When my aunt told my Grandpa that Charlie was able to sit up and roll over both ways, my Grandpa cracked "He's at the same level I am!" We had a nice visit talking about babies and Fourth of July and parades and our plans for the day. Then we left him in the activity room where I think he was going to watch a movie.

For lunch we went to my grandparents' beach club. Lunch was lovely as always and the beach was wonderful, but I don't know what happened to Charlie. My god, the screaming. Round one began shortly after we arrived. After about half an hour Ryan was able to get him to sleep in a quiet living room of the club. I sat down, shirt covered in snot and tears, to eat my lunch. Ryan had a phone interview, so he got us all settled on the beach and went outside the front door of the club where you are allowed to use cell phones (as he was reminded sharply a number of times by the woman at the front desk). I read my book as Charlie sat at my feet playing appropriately and silently with toys we had brought him, never once trying to eat sand and then grinning up at me with a sand-drool concrete sliding down his cheeks or shrieking in anger because of a particularly frustrating shape sorter moment.

We took Charlie swimming because the magic never stops around here; no matter how pissed off Charlie already seemed to be, dipping him in cold water seemed like fun. He was scared of the breaking waves so Ryan took him out into a little deeper water (like three feet). He had a great time dangling his feet in the water and squealing when a wave came and soaked up to the hem of his swimsuit. Then a giant icy wave came and hit him square between the shoulder blades and that was the end of swimming.

Charlie took a long nap on Ryan's chest. It was very sweet and idyllic and peaceful. And I got to read multiple (!) pages of my book, uninterrupted. And then he woke up. MAD. One more feeding in the club's nursing room and we decided to go home so that cranky could have some down time before bed. Instead he screamed (I am probably overusing "scream" but I am telling you that this was no ordinary crying) for two hours straight. We think he might have gotten sunscreen or sand in his eyes because they were red and swollen and sad and he kept pushing on his cheekbones. They look much better now.

Finally he is asleep. And that's where I am headed now. Because, wow, I am exhausted.