Friday, March 27, 2009


People keep telling me that Wesley looks just like Charlie and every time I smile and agree, but on the inside I'm thinking "Pssht, they look nothing alike."

Then I did a little comparing.

And, uh, maybe there's something to it after all.

Ready to crawl?
Wes, six months.

6 Months Old
Charlie, six months.

(When I originally posted that picture of Charlie with the cupcake I carefully explained that we didn't let him eat the cupcake because he only eats Fruit! and Vegetables! and homemade organic gluten free baby oatmeal fortified with gold! And now I'm all "My kid ate a roly poly heh heh heh." Ahhh, how far I've come.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

This is why second children are so laid back

Because when they and their brother take turns waking up for various reasons all night long their parents have no qualms with plunking them in front of The Today Show so they can drink their coffee.

Poor little guy has the grand-daddy of all diaper rashes. No more orange vegetables for him for a while. Charlie has a really miserable cold. He wept bitterly for twenty minutes yesterday because he "wanted to hear a train" and I could not provide that experience for him. [bang bang bang head on wall]

Our morning plans include trips to the grocery store and Blockbuster followed by hours of annoyingly upbeat animated entertainment.

This was the scene out my front door yesterday afternoon. That's not snow, that's quarter-sized hail, or "ice rain" as Charlie perceptively described it. We were lucky. Further west they had tennis ball sized hail.

Hail Storm

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

First of many times this will happen, I am sure

My latest obsession is whipping my yard into shape by summer and right now, in addition to fertilizing and watering, that means pulling weeds. Last summer I was giant and pregnant and hot and in no mood to do yard work of any kind, so things got a little out of hand. How out of hand? Well since the old dissertarooney has been wrapped up I've pulled enough weeds to fill two and a half of the giant Home Depot composting bags and I'm not even halfway there. And that doesn't even count the ones I threw over the fence into the greenbelt because I was too lazy to walk to the patio to put them in the bag.

It's quite nice, the time we all spend back there. Wesley plays on a blanket and Charlie alternately climbs on the swing set and helps me pull weeds. He has claimed all the weeds by the swing set as "his" and will not let me pull them. Instead, he crouches in the grass and plucks out random bits of vegetation, holding them over his head and exclaiming "It's a BIG ONE, Mama!" before proudly carrying it to the pile on the patio. Occasionally he will run over and show me a handful of grass and say "Look Mama! It's the ROOTS!"

Today we were back there working together when Charlie ran over to me, upset. I asked him what was wrong and he whined "Kiss it!"

"What do you want me to kiss?" I asked.

He held out his tongue.

I paused, then blew him a kiss.

"Is that better?"

"Yeah" he whined.

"What happened to your tongue, Buddy?"

"A roly poly."

He was on the verge of tears.

"Did you put a roly poly in your mouth?"

"It's down in my tummy."


The best part is that I can't call Pediatrician Man to make sure it's not dangerous (even though I am sure I wouldn't have anyway, it was just a roly poly) because earlier today we were there for a mysterious rash on Charlie's neck and cheek that turned out to be poison ivy and I had NO IDEA where it came from. Me and my feral, insect-eating children.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


On Friday we loaded up the family and drove out into the hills for our church's annual family camp retreat. Charlie was a little disappointed to learn that we wouldn't be going on an airplane, but when we arrived and he saw the bunk bed he would be sleeping in and the ice cream he would be eating he got over that real fast.

Here he is right after we arrived. Barefoot and sleepy? Yes. Ready for ice cream? Bien SUR, mon amie! I'm not sure why we all agreed to give the kids ice cream five minutes before bed, but it was fun, so you know, whatever.

Top Bunk!
I showed him how to sleep in his sleeping bag by telling him he got to sleep inside a huge taco.

We were staying in a cabin with three other families. Nine kids total. Nine cuh-raz-eeeee kids. About five minutes after everyone had finally settled down I heard a THUNK and Charlie started crying. Ryan hissed "If you had been lying down asleep you wouldn't have hit your head. Get in your taco and lie down."

The next day it was time for games and relay races and kickball.

Rounding Third

We let all the little kids kick the ball and run the bases. Here's Charlie making his first run for home plate. He chanted "I won I won I won" the whole way.

Wesley spent the entire weekend in the Ergo with me, at last realizing his lifelong dream of being held twenty-four hours a day. Also, I am way too much of a spaz to manage nursing in that thing. I don't get it. On the plus side, I am pretty sure I flashed our pastor during the campfire sing-a-long and there is pretty much nowhere else you can go after you do that.

Becca and Wesley

We took the kiddos to play in the river Saturday afternoon.

Charlie in the River
Wesley in the River
River Boys
The Frio River

Saturday night after dinner there was my favorite camp activity of all, a SING-A-LONG!! With a CAMPFIRE!! Charlie alternated between dancing with me and sitting primly with his song book.


Then we went back to our cabin where Ryan had to bodily pin Charlie to the bed to get him to go to sleep. Although with nine small children in our cabin no one actually "slept". More like dozed between bouts of shushing and nursing and enjoining children to go to sleep go to sleep GOTOSLEEEEEEEEEEPPP FORTHELOVEOFGOD!!

When we got home on Sunday I put on a pot of coffee, put the finishing touches on my dissertation, and sent it off to Dr. Advisor. Tomorrow I plan to sleep, do laundry, and pull weeds in the back yard and that is IT.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Holy Big Kid Batman

I just signed this kid up for Level 1 Swimming (now with no parental involvement!) and soccer for the fall! When did that happen?

Charlie says "Moooooom, I told you I wanted to take Mathletes!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Love Hurts

Blue bear came to us from Charlie's school. One day he just showed up in Charlie's cubby. Apparently he was Charlie's naptime lovey, donated by some unnamed toddler who, judging by the pristine condition in which Blue Bear came to us, did not cherish him nearly as much as Charlie does. He lived at school until it was time for Charlie to switch to the two-year old room and then we had to bring everything in Charlie's cubby home for the weekend so we could take it to the new room the following Monday.

So big thanks to daycare for increasing the number of beloved objects with which I must keep up to TWO. I can't tell you the panic in my heart the day I couldn't find Blue Bear before school. I made a point of talking up the (also well loved and terribly dirty) fuzzy blue blanket in Charlie's cubby but he was skeptical. All day I reassured myself that, although the last time I remember seeing Blue Bear had been at the grocery store, I couldn't possibly have left him there. No, I wouldn't let myself think about it. In desperation I took everything out of our coat closet where Charlie had been playing right after we returned from the store. I was so relieved to see that dirty blue mouse peering back at me from the very back corner. Oh yeah, Blue Bear is not a bear, he is a mouse.

The other night when I sneaked into Charlie's room to lovingly tuck him back in and check his vital signs I noticed something on the floor. "That's not..." I thought as I bent over to inspect it. But it was. It was Blue Bear's arm.

I guess Blue Bear's poor shoulder socket just couldn't handle Charlie's rough version of love any longer and simply gave out. I picked up the arm and stashed it in Ryan's night stand, making a mental note to sew it back on sometime when Charlie wasn't paying attention. Charlie didn't seem to notice his friend's terrible injury. Ryan and I secretly called him "The One Armed Man".

Then on Sunday we were getting ready for church in our room. Wesley was playing on the floor and Charlie was happily taking pennies out of Ryan's night stand drawer, exclaiming "I find da monies!" with each one, then carefully lining them up on the table top. Ryan and I were both in the bathroom when the happy chatter stopped.

"Oh NOOOO!" It was Charlie.

I looked up. Charlie was holding Blue Bear's arm and looking at us for an explanation.

"OH NOOOO!" again "Boo Bear's ARM!"

Ryan stopped brushing his teeth and stared at our poor little boy, holding his beloved friend's arm, little white threads hanging pitifully from the shoulder.

"Wha happened?"

I was barely able to stifle a giggle.

"Wha happened, Mama? Oh NO! Boo Bear's arm!"

"Uhhhh, Blue Bear hurt his arm, Sweetie."

"Boo Bear need a Band Aid?"

"Mmm hmm! He does!" Upbeat! Happy! Whee! "I'll fix it when we get home, OK?"

"Wha happened'a Boo Bear, Mama?"

"I don't know, Buddy--LOOK! Pennies!! Do you want to put them in your bank?!"

He looked at me expectantly.

"How about a banana? Are you hungry?"

"Poor Boo Bear hurt his arm" he said, frowning purposefully.

I don't remember how we finally distracted him, but Blue Bear remains armless and Charlie doesn't seem to mind. I just hope he finds a less violent way to show love to his brother.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

And now he can SEE!

As it turns out, Wesley's rockstar hair was just not compatible with solid food. Errant morsels of banana puree formed a water-insoluble glue the second they came into contact with his hair. Add to that my deepening conviction that "Boys oughta have neat hair" and it's a wonder I've made it this long without breaking out the kitchen shears. Everyone at my church mom group assured me that cutting baby hair is foolproof, but since these are the same women who invent Advent crafts to do with their clean, well dressed, polite children while they wait for their nutritious, fully organic and free from high-fructose corn syrup dinner to warm up in the crock pot, I figured it was just one more area in which I would settle for mediocre performance from myself. Tonight, though, I just couldn't take it anymore, so after he scarfed down almost an entire banana and was feeling happy to sit in his high chair, I went all Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias on him.

Here's a before picture taken earlier today when he and Charlie were watching NCAA basketball in lieu of napping. Yeah, they look tired to me too. [Shrug]

Watching Basketball
Anyone ever look at a picture of their kids together and think "Oh my gosh I have two kids!"? Just me? OK.

And here's the after! Now featuring a forehead! And eyes! Sorry ladies, he's taken!

Hair Cut!

This is my favorite. I heart the baby receeding hairline look. As you can see, he's still sporting the tail feathers. Charlie's only recently started to blend with the rest of his hair so Wes has a ways to go in that department.

Hair Cut!

Oh my gosh I could eat him.

And this is what happens on the way home from the playground after you don't take your nap. Not tired indeed!


Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Science Corner

The figure that saved my sanity:

This marks the end of a six-month-long spat I've been having with my committee. "Phase has a normal distribution!" I argued, even though my only reasoning was that I had done my entire dissertation under that assumption and didn't want to redo everything. "Uniform distribution!!" sneered my committee. "But it DOESN'T WORK when I do that!" I whined to Dr. Advisor.

And then! I realized that I could just take a sample of "real" data and compare the phase with my "fake" data and LO! NORMAL FREAKING DISTRIBUTION! I drafted a cool, professional email to Dr. Advisor, belying the happy dance I was doing at my desk, attached the figure, and sent it off to Old Town.

His response? An equally cool, professional "I agree." Which is the academic equivalent of a kiss on the mouth.

Don't ask me why I didn't come up with this plan earlier.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My mom says I only said "Um" twice!

Now that I've attended to some personal upkeep items that have been badly neglected in the name of not falling flat on my face during my defense (braidable leg hair anyone?), I find myself with some free time. I KNOW! CRAZY! So here I am.

The defense was so ridiculously beyond what my comfort zone has become (regrettably) that even as I was beginning my presentation I was thinking "Is there ANY way I can get out of this? I am so exhausted already." That was on Slide #2 (ish), shortly after we began around 3:00 pm. I was in that room until 5:40 before my committee sent me out into the hall so they could debate my future in private. My parents and Ryan were there waiting for me where I thanked them for their support by freaking out because Wesley didn't have enough bottles with him at his sitter's and then stalking anxiously back and forth in the hall while I waited with Ryan for Dr. Advisor to come out and get me (my parents left to go buy formula and take it to Wesley).

Speaking of Wes, and Charlie for that matter--they could not possibly have picked a worse night to stage a mutual sleep strike. The night before the defense Ryan and I huddled together in the tiny bathroom of our hotel hoping that if Charlie didn't have someone to talk to that he would STOP TALKING AND GO TO SLEEP ALREADY. It didn't work and after thirty minutes of cajoling him back into his bed I had to make good on my threat to make him sleep in the playpen and give his bed to Wesley. After that I left the hotel for the coffee shop to work (my sweet, wonderful coffee shop in The Old Town; I almost cried this morning when we visited one last time) and when I came back a few hours later Ryan was moving Charlie to the bed and Wesley to the crib. I took the other bed and Ryan, who was worried about keeping me awake with his anxious tossing and turning, slept on the floor. Later Wesley would join me in bed. It was not a restful evening.

Anyway, Dr. Advisor came out and got me and we went back into The Room. I started to sit in my chair and the whole committee stood up, so I stood back up awkwardly. Dr. Advisor delivered their decision (pass, but make some changes), they shook my hand, and left. Dr. Advisor went over the changes they wanted me to make and then, FINALLY, I got to leave.

I was a disaster. Angry and tense and tired and hungry and stressed out and frustrated and upset. Ryan kept telling me what a good job I did. I did not believe him. All I wanted to do was go to sleep for the rest of the weekend and not talk to anyone ever again.

I didn't relax until I got to the party that our retired department chair, Dr. P, and his wife had for me and saw Charlie and Wes and my parents (and had a glass of wine, a beer, three brownies, and six cups of broccoli-cheese dip, which I started eating with a fork when I'd run out of crackers). Dr. Advisor was there and in good spirits and I was able to calm down a little when I saw he'd dropped the Look of Sternness from earlier. I ended up having a really wonderful time. Charlie and Dr. Advisor's son and two of my friend's kids hit it off and spent the evening running around the back yard together laughing and shrieking and inventing games while the rest of us lazed around drinking beer. It was wonderful to spend some time with Dr. Advisor and his family and my friends who still live in town and Dr. and Mrs. P, our hosts, who are wonderfuly fun, warm people who always throw very memorable parties.

The sleep situation was improved Friday night except for the fact that I had missed three feedings and with no way to pump was quite uncomfortable and drippy (and hott). My only option was to wrap up in towels and try to avoid eye contact with the housekeeping staff the next day. I have never been so happy to wake up and feed a baby in the middle of the night.

Charlie referred to our hotel room as "My New Home" and every time we returned to the room said "I love my new home!" with great enthusiasm. He also loved our rental car, "My Black Car," so much that when we got off the shuttle bus back in South and he saw our car he burst into hysterics. Also traumatic was the trip up the jetway after our flight there when Charlie wailed "I wanna get back on da plane!" so loudly and pitifully that other passengers had to stifle giggles as they passed.

He was happy to get home, though, and so was I. Ryan and I spent an hour pulling weeds in the back yard while Charlie and Wes played and then we shared a pizza. It was wonderfully normal and the awfulness of last weekend seemed like it happened a year ago.


Glad I never have to do THAT again.

Rocking the pants suit Clinton Style

I passed the defense. Now I just have to add some things to make my paper more "theoretical" and "scientific" and "good". Dr. Advisor says it won't take too long, but we all know how that went last time. More details later. Right now, I can hear Charlie terrorizing the La Quinta breakfast area and I need a cup of coffee the size of my head.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Back in the Old Town


We made it back to the Old Town. We are staying in the same La Quinta that, five years ago tomorrow, my family was almost kicked out of for the raucous after-wedding party they threw in the breakfast area. Yup, tomorrow is our fifth wedding anniversary. I believe the fifth anniversary is the "shirk all parenting responsibilities so I can finish my degree" anniversary isn't it?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Four days and counting

WOW. I haven't worked like that since, well, probably never! That one bad data set was only the beginning of a hellish weekend of non-stop stress, frustration, and work. Soooo much work. Not so much sleep or eating. Mostly work. In fact, here's the table next to my working chair:

That is from yesterday afternoon and today. Caffeine, Oreos, and the Book of Common Prayer, those are my keys to success. When traditional problem solving means failed me, Godmother told me she was going to say a Rosary for me and we had a little cross-denominational brainstorming session on Gchat. She asked St. Dominic, patron saint of scientists if I remember correctly, to intercede for me, and I pieced together the Prayer for Schools and Colleges, Prayer for Enemies, and the Prayer for the Oppressed. And you'll never believe it, but not twenty minutes after our conversation I FIXED THE PROBLEM I'd been having. Woah.

So after it was fixed, I redid all of my analytical data for the fourth time that weekend and started the lengthy process of redoing all of the figures. I went to bed at 3:30 when I couldn't focus my eyes anymore. Wesley woke up to eat at ten till four. We were all up for the day at seven. Oy.

I have been existing in panic mode since Thursday. This bad data set seemed to contradict ALL of the conclusions I had so carefully put together. I thought for sure I would have to move the defense. I was working non-stop and had setback after setback and it seemed like I was going nowhere. I am not fun to be around under that kind of pressure. Unless you're into unpredictable bouts of sobbing and foul language. Somehow I managed to keep the wave of panic at bay today and was able to focus despite the lack of sleep. I finished redoing all the figures, updated all the analysis and discussion, finished formatting my draft and TURNED THAT SUCKER IN AT 4:00! Which left me with just enough time to take a badly needed shower and go pick the boys up at daycare.

I have a few plans for tonight. I will be going to bed before midnight. I can't wait. I'm also going to work on my presentation for Friday. But first I'm going to have a little thirty-minute party for myself with my friends Michelle and Pillsbury.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


When I was a little kid, I loved the story of Corduroy--the grand department store filled with mothers and fathers dressed in overcoats and gloves, the palace of furniture, the escalator, Lisa's wonderful pink coat. I envied the way Lisa lived in a fourth floor apartment in the big city. How she could walk to the department store all by herself. It was about the coolest thing my little suburban self could ever imagine. I actually still feel that way. My favorite part of the story was when Lisa takes Corduroy home to her apartment. I always loved the page that showed her room.

I loved the window with the snow swirling around outside and the flower pot on the windowsill, the cheerful yellow curtains, the blue striped wallpaper, the little bed just the right size for Corduroy. It is neat and orderly and cozy, things that still make me feel calm and secure. Most of all I loved the cozy quilt on Lisa's bed. I always wanted a room like hers, and except for the snow swirling around outside the window and the patchwork quilt, I now realize that I pretty much had it.

So, this morning while I was snuggled up in my bed reading Corduroy to Charlie, I laughed out loud when we came to that page.

I think my subconscious was working overtime when I picked out Charlie's bed and quilt:

Charlie's Great Big Bed