Thursday, April 30, 2009

Unexpected benefit of having two children

Ryan: "Good morning Char--oh my gosh."

Charlie: "My diaper fall off, oh no!"

Ryan: [gags] "Oh man, Buddy, let me run downstairs and get some more wipes."

Becca: [calls up the stairs cheerfully] "I'll be there to help as soon as I'm done giving Wesley his breakfast!"

Ryan: [gag gag gag] "WHAT did you EAT?"

Becca: "Who wants another bowl of oatmeal?" [takes leisurely sip of coffee, smiles conspiratorially at Wesley]

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

He never did take that nap

I was sitting downstairs with Wesley while Charlie was supposed to be taking a nap when I heard a giant THUD followed by a moment of silence, then the sound of running, followed by another, smaller thud and a slamming door.

My curiosity got the best of me so I went up to check it out. I opened the door to Charlie's room. He was standing near the door looking guilty.

"What was that noise?"

Silence.

"What was that huge noise, Charlie?"

"The chair?" he said quietly, pointing to a chair in his room.

"The chair didn't make that big noise, Charlie. What happened?"

"I fall."

"What were you doing when you fell?"

"I fall off of Wesley's crib" he admitted "I bonk my head." He paused, then put his hand on his temple theatrically and added "Ow."

"Were you in Wesley's crib?!"

"Yes" looking at feet.

"How did you get out of your room?"

He gestured at the baby gate across his door. "I climb like a ladder."

"Will you show me how you get out of your room?"

He mimed climbing over the baby gate.

"And then you climbed Wesley's crib?"

Blinking.

Blinking. Staring contest.

So the giant THUD was him falling out of the crib. The running was him running back to his room after he correctly surmised that the giant noise had aroused my suspicions and that he would be in a whole heap'o trouble if I found him out of his room, and the smaller thud was the sound of him high-jumping the baby gate on the way back in.

"Get in your bed RIGHT. NOW."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Finally, a use for all those conference proceedings!

A Use for Conference Preprints

Because we can do nothing like normal people

Let me tell you a little about the super magical world of car shopping with a toddler. Although maybe Ryan would tell it better, since he is the one who ends up supervising the chaos while I check out the cars, including taking test drives all by myself, which is hardly a test drive, I realize--when we finally decide on a certain model we will do a true test drive with both car seats in the back and the stroller in the trunk. Maybe they'll even let me simulate trying to blindly find a lost peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the back seat floorboard while sitting at a traffic light.

We have attempted a test drive with both kids only once. It was a pretty Mazda 6 station wagon with easy-to-clean leather seats. Before we drove the car I stood in the parking lot putting Wesley, in his carrier, in the car, out of the car, in the car, out of the car, trying it every which way, trying to hit my head or stab my arm on the pointy door thing that my car has. When the car passed that test, Ryan went off to get Charlie's car seat while the salesman and Wesley and I pulled the car around. We pulled up to find Ryan shaking the car seat upside down like a giant salt shaker, sprinkling six months worth of crumbs onto the pavement. After the test drive, while Ryan held a screaming, disappointed Charlie, the salesman said "If you don't see this car on the internet, don't worry, I think I'm going to send it back for cleaning."

That same day Charlie refused to relinquish either of the two eighteen inch pieces of plastic pipe he found in the parking lot. "NOSTICKSINTHECARS!" I hissed on many occasions, but he was sneaky. Nothing like that look of terror in the salesman's eyes when they see my sticky, sweaty, stick-wielding toddler clambering over the tailgate into their pristine, one-hundred and thirty point checked vehicles (I didn't really like that salesman anyway because he told us they had no RAV4s but then while we were looking at a different small SUV that cost more and had more miles than we wanted a RAV4 DROVE BY on its way out for a test drive. That was probably not the best moment in his day).

My favorite salesman so far saw Charlie playing with a balloon tied to a car and said to me "He can H-A-V-E it if he wants it." Then he fielded a phone call from his wife who was at their son's t-ball game while we were out driving a Mazda MPV van with Beyonce cranked up. I wanted to buy that car so bad. Mostly because the guy was missing his son's t-ball game to take me for a test drive. But also because the seats were pretty and clean and it was cheap and looked like it would hold both the stroller and the pallet of groceries Charlie and Wesley go through every week.

Today Ryan and I are going to look at another car, a Mazda 5, which seems to combine the best features of all the cars we've considered so far. We'll only have Wesley with us, but we are also under a tornado watch, a flash flood watch, and a hazardous weather outlook, so I'm sure I'll have plenty of interesting stories no matter what.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Repost: Bounce Baby Bounce

I was reading through some old posts and came across this one that made me laugh so hard I cried. Some things never change! Enjoy.

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.

--Originally posted March 22, 2007.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Today I...

Watered the garden, fed Wesley breakfast, took Charlie to school, folded two loads of laundry, pulled weeds, fed Wesley lunch, applied for a tenure track position at a local university, ate lunch, and went grocery shopping.

Hyperventilating a little here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Time to get some baby gates

Most mornings Charlie watches Curious George while Wesley plays on the floor and I Do Whatever I Want. It's the only thirty minutes of the day that I Do Whatever I Want, and everyone is happy. I usually drink coffee and check my email or straighten up the kitchen or get ready to go wherever we are going to go that morning. Today I was sitting at my desk in the dining room doing something on my computer when I glanced over to watch Wesley playing with his shape sorter on the floor. Only this is what I saw:




Oops! No baby! Where'd he go?

Found him!

"Oh hi! Mind if I help myself to a little snack? Charlie says the peanut butter toast here is delish."

(obviously I did not choose to straighten up the kitchen during Do Whatever I Want Time this day)

Two mobile children, one major paradigm shift.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Now what?

This book is excellent.

It's also freaking me the freak out. I started reading it this week. The same week I began my new life as a full-time mother and received my first rejection letter (from this most recent job search anyway). Not ideal timing to read a collection of essays written by women successful at the career I would love to have. Or maybe it is exactly what I need to keep me moving towards my "goal." Whatever that is. What I do know is that it was the wrong thing to reach for last night when I couldn't sleep because I was freaking out about what I want to do when I grow up. Needless to say, it didn't help and I couldn't fall asleep until nearly one o'clock despite having gone to bed at ten.

I woke up feeling tremendous anxiety about finding a job. I mindlessly chugged my coffee staring at my computer while Ryan made breakfast. Then I spent the twenty minute drive to church relating anecdotes from the book to Ryan in a crazed caffeine fueled monologue. The hour-long Sunday school class was agonizing because I needed to GET THESE THOUGHTS OUT OF MY HEAD (get them verbalized, that is, not out as in gone forever, oh if only) and EAT SOME DONUTS before I EXPLODED.

Ryan is very supportive. However, he was unreceptive to my most coherent suggestion, which was to move to a small college town in rural Massachusetts where I could walk to work.

The rejection letter I got from Huge State University was more encouraging than anything I have heard from my advisor in years. It meant a lot coming from an objective observer. And it made me think. Maybe I am qualified to get an academic job. Maybe I'm not a giant failure for taking two extra years to get my degree than I was supposed to. Maybe that really only had to do with the internship I went on, the change in dissertation topic, the field project I ran, or the TWO HUMAN BEINGS I CREATED WITH MY BODY during that time. In fact, I think I've demonstrated a considerable amount of loyalty and commitment for finishing at all, especially since my fellowship (i.e. paycheck) ran out two years ago.

There are some barriers to getting a job, of course. I don't want to work full time right now, I can't move to a new city, and my desire to work changes minute-to-minute based on who took their nap on time and who made me miss "The Doctors." I have sent out five applications for various part time teaching positions (in one of the essays in the book a woman sent out more than eighty applications for tenure track positions, resulting in six interviews; obviously I have a ways to go). I check the nearby colleges (everything within an hour's drive) for new job postings weekly. I have hit up an old professor for consulting work I could do from home. I feel like I am doing the best I can, but what if it doesn't work? I have a lot of fun staying home, that is not the problem. But how long can I not work before I become obsolete?

I have to go to bed THIS SECOND because it is eleven o'clock and ten is my bedtime (and I just accidentally deleted four paragraphs about pregnancy and self-image and academia, it was really amazing stuff believe me), but if anyone has any insight (or job offers, you know, something with benefits, an office, and unlimited free coffee in the copy room), I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I heart them

Naptime is sometimes a struggle around here, as I am sure it is in many houses not inhabited by unemployed twenty year-olds (I know I never had trouble with napping when I was an unemployed twenty year-old). But today everything seemed to go off without a hitch. Charlie always insists that he's not tired so I tell him that he can read books as long as he doesn't get down from his bed. I gave him two hard-to-destroy board books, kissed him on the head, and closed his door. I heard some thumping around, but ignored it in favor of reading my magazine. This is what I saw when I checked on him thirty minutes later:

Charlie Napping

I am impressed he made it all the way to "P was once a little pig." He also had Brown Bear Brown Bear and The Cat in the Hat. Ambitious little guy.

And Wesley usually makes a lot of noise when he's going to sleep, so I wasn't concerned this afternoon to hear him growling and screeching like a cockatoo. He eventually quieted down so I sneaked in to peek at him:

Wesley Napping

He learned to push himself into a sitting position on Tuesday but hasn't learned how to get back down yet. It has posed quite a problem during sleeping times, but I guess he found a workaround.

Happy Accident

I've been playing around with my camera (It is a point and shoot Canon Power Shot A590IS), trying to learn more about all the different settings so I can take better pictures. I was trying out the "Aperature Priority" setting on St. Francis when I lost my balance. As I stumbled backwards I clicked the shutter and this is what I got:

St. Francis with Marigold

Too bad "Aperature Priority" is almost impossible to use on small children!

Here is the finished garden, too:

New Garden

I am thinking of turning the other planter box (it's off to the side, out of the way) into Charlie's Pumpkin Patch. It would look really cool in the fall when the pumpkins started to ripen. Does anyone know what pumpkin plants look like before they bear fruit? Is this workable?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

...given your qualifications...

Dear Dr. Academomia,

The Faculty Recruiting Committee has completed its deliberations for the position that you applied for. Your credentials are excellent, but we're just not that into you. I am sure that, given your qualifications, you will find a suitable faculty post in the near future.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Smarty Pants
Chair of Engineering
Big Scary University

(I'm paraphrasing the second sentence)

(And, whatever, I mean, he ended a sentence in a preposition!)

(I really hope that last sentence is correct, Dr. Smarty Pants)

(Pretty cool to get mail addressed to "Dr. Academomia")

(He said my credentials were excellent. He said my credentials were excellent!! And he called me Doctor!)

(There are more departments where that came from. Time to mail some more CVs. This time with a nice bottle of wine attached)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Why must all holidays involve a fun surprise early in the morning?

Anyone else exhausted after the "weekend?" Ours started on Friday, with Ryan off of work. After a recheck of Wesley's breathing (he is all better) in the morning, we dropped both boys off at day care (Wesley's last day) and went out for a leisurely breakfast before we went to look at cars. We had brainstormed "things that are hard to do with kids" and then did them all on Friday. We had the breakfast and car shopping and then during "independent time" Ryan chose to finish organizing the garage and I chose sitting at my desk staring blankly at a spot on the wall for at least thirty minutes before I gave up and took a nap. Wesley's bronchiolitis diagnosis and subsequent breathing treatments and chest x-ray really threw me for a loop. Even though it wasn't that big of a deal according to Dr. Google, I've never seen Pediatrician Man look so concerned. At any rate, he's better now and this could either never happen again or it could happen next time he gets a cold or allergies or he could get asthma. Fun!

Anyway, we went car shopping. Armed with EPA fuel economy data, we had selected a number of cantidates in the small SUV/station wagon class. I drove a Ford Escape, which I liked. I sat in a Ford Focus wagon which I DID NOT like. I drove a Mazda 6 which I loved. I sat in a RAV4 which I tried to make out with. Ryan learned that I was willing to pay $7000 more for the RAV4 because it had an iPod port cleverly hidden in the center console, the only practical difference between it and the Escape. On the way home from school, totally unprompted, Charlie pointed at a pretty silver RAV4 and said "I wike dat car!" So I think the decision has been made, don't you?

Saturday night we attended the Easter vigil at my sister's church, where they were baptizing my niece. It started at 8:00 and was supposed to be two hours long. I was nervous about Charlie's behavior, since the service started after his bedtime, but he just fell asleep curled up in my lap shortly after it started (I think it was the cantor) and when he woke up more than an hour later he was groggy and out of it and happy to sit cuddled up with Ryan for the rest of the time. Wesley was asleep at the beginning but loved looking at all the candles when he woke up. I was amazed by their good behavior! We got home at 11:00, put both boys to bed, then had to create Easter Bunny magic before we could go to bed ourselves.

Wesley's basket

'He

Totally worth the exhaustion to hear Charlie exclaim "Bunny Rabbit brought me bubbles!!" Not fun and exciting? We ran out of coffee. RAN OUT. As in, there was NONE. I found another can in the pantry with a little left in it but when I noticed it didn't smell like anything I found that it had expired in 2007. That was THREE HOUSES AGO. Thank you Sonic for being open on Easter, is all I have to say.

What I didn't know is that the Easter Bunny would come to visit ME too!

St. Francis with his Peeps

And finally, my favorite of the twenty thousand pictures I took of the boys in their coordinating shirts, khaki pants, and hats at church:

My Favorite

And you know I really have no idea what I just wrote because today is Wesley's first day of "homeschooling." He is out of daycare (Charlie is going to go down to two days a week, he loves, LOVES it, cries when we go home, etc, so I didn't want to take it away just yet) for good now. This will be the first time I have ever stayed at home full time since Charlie was born. Better go dust off the heels and pearls.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Too big to fail? Ha ha HA!

Bride of Weed of Doom is roots up on its way to the landfill as we speak. Homestead Mama had a great suggestion--divide into smaller plants and replant them in the garden--but it was ridiculously huge and unmanageable. So while Ryan was at work and the new plants waited patiently in the trunk of my car, I used a pair of scissors to get as many of the "leaves" off as I could, figuring that what I lacked in brawn could be made up by sheer determination. I was almost ready to dig the roots up when I realized that it was 12:02 and I was supposed to be at the vet with Rossby at 12:00. I left so fast I ran over the huge pile of weeds I'd made in the driveway.

When I returned Ryan was home looking at the hastily abandoned gardening tools and gloves wondering if I had been taken up in the Rapture and, more perplexingly, why I got to go and he didn't, since he's the one who always washes out the gross sippy cups I find in the back of my car after three months in the Texas sun and I'm the one who he says "cuts" the whole line of people at church when I want to get cheese for my breakfast taco (There is no cheese line, I have explained many times. Once you get your taco, you can have as much cheese as you want. The line is for donuts, not cheese.).

The original plan was to surprise Ryan with a completed garden when he came home tonight, but I forgot he was coming home on his lunch break because some roofers were coming to inspect our house (Ironically we have some wind damage. I just stood there smiling like an idiot while the roofer explained it all to me despite six years of working with a center whose goal is to prevent wind damage to houses, including taking a handful of courses dedicated to windstorm damage and residential construction and participating in two field surveys of hurricane damage and writing a hundred and sixty pages about real and fake wind. That pretty much sums up my CV if you happen to be hiring, which God help me if a potential employer reads this website.). It was actually really good timing though, since I don't think I am physically capable of picking up the Bride of Weed of Doom. Ryan dug it out for me and put it in the giant trash can and now it's on its way to provide enough biodegradable material for the landfill to make up for two-kids-worth of disposable diapers.

Thanks to some surprise help from my dad I got everything planted and cleaned up before it was time to pick everyone up from school, although it meant I had to wash off my hands and legs in the bathroom sink instead of taking a real live shower. I still need to add some plants, but here is the "after" for now:

New plants

New plants

Obviously, I find comfort in order and symmetry. I'm going to round it out with a tall plant in the back and some more perennials, but the other plants should grow in and fill the space nicely.

In other news, here is Wesley hitting his baby bong*:

Nebulized

Sorry kids, we can't give you functional eustation tubes or bronchials, but man can we teach you differential equations.

*He's fine. He has bronchialitis from a bad cold. He is feeling much better now that we have started the breathing treatments.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tampering is a Federal Offense

We'd been asleep for about an hour last night when the smoke alarm in the foyer started chirping because of a low battery. "What's that noise?" I said to Ryan, playing dumb. "I think it's the smoke alarm. It's low on batteries." "Huh" I said, then pretended to go to sleep.

CHIRP!

"How do you fix it?" playing dumb again "Do we have any batteries?" knowing full well that we did not have any batteries since we had just looked for one to put in the baby monitor so we could continue drinking beer in the culdesac with our friends after the boys went to bed. That search and this one turned up no nine volt batteries, which was terribly disappointing in both cases.

Ryan sighed deeply and got out of bed. Supportive wife that I am, I tried to go back to sleep.

CHIRP!

I heard Ryan bumping around. The chirping continued. Curious, I went downstairs to investigate.

"In my old house I used to just knock it off the ceiling with a spatula and take the battery out when this happened" I offered.

CHIRP!

"I can't do that."

"WHY NOT?"

"BECAUSE!" Here he reached up and twisted and pulled on the smoke alarm until it popped off the ceiling and hung from a thick white wire.

"What the hell is THAT?"

CHIRP!

"It's a power cord."

"A POWER CORD?! If it has a power cord then why the %#@$ is it beeping?"

"Because the battery is low."

[blink blink blink]

CHIRP!

"It needs the battery so it will still work if the power goes out."

"But the power is NOT OUT! So why is it beeping?"

"I think I need to go buy a battery."

"Why on earth do we even HAVE a smoke alarm in the FOYER? It's not even a real ROOM. This is the dumbest thing ever. EVER!!"

Am prone to hyperbole when awakened from a deep sleep.

CHIRP!

Fifteen minutes of chirping later I heard Ryan return from the store, but the beeping continued. I got downstairs just as Ryan was dragging a huge ladder in from the garage.

"I put the stupid battery in and it's STILL BEEPING. Frackity frack frack frack."

CHIRP!

"OH MY GAWD can't you just cut that stupid WIRE or something? GOSH this is THE STUPIDEST THING EVER! If I want to die in a fire it's my business, not the stupid smoke alarm's!!!!"

Am prone to exaggeration and not very helpful when half asleep.

"I can't cut the wire because I WOULD BE ELECTROCUTED!"

CHIRP!

"Oh."

He climbed up the ladder muttering something about stupid new houses with their stupid high ceilings, punctuating the major adjectives with angry footsteps on the ladder. He squinted at the three point font on the side of the smoke alarm for a moment then he took the battery out, put it back in, and slammed the battery compartment closed forcefully.

"That freaking thing better not..."

silence

Friday, April 3, 2009

OK NOW I have met my match

Remember how I once thought I had found something that could not be bought on Craigslist? And then I SHOWED Craigslist who's boss and brought our new couches home to do their job of making my living room not look like a frathouse?

Well since then I've shopped for a number of other things. No purchases yet, but I'm just learning the market right now while I wait for the right moment. The right moment will present itself when a major mechanical element of one of our cars falls onto the road while one of us is driving. Or maybe it will be the next time my car dies on the access road to the highway, forcing me to sit there trying to start it while Charlie sings "Car broken! Mama fix it! Needs new batteries!" and laughs hysterically at the pitiful rrr-rrrr-rrr-rrr-rrr noise it makes as it struggles to turn its geriatric self over. It's a roll of the dice, really, anytime one of us gets in the car. But that is a story for another day.

We have been working on the garden in front of our house. When we moved in it was beautiful, but we haven't touched it all year and it was getting kind of wild looking. For example, after great effort, much swearing, and more persistance than I will ever have, Ryan pulled this little beauty out of the garden on Sunday:

Biggest Weed Ever
My dad looked at this picture and said "Oh, that's a Japanese Orchid!" and I immediately felt guilty for giving it the old heave-ho. But seriously, it was so big I think it was kill or be killed. The other one that we didn't have the strength to rip out on Sunday is still there and it is starting to bloom and it's quite pretty. So, um, oops?

Here is the before picture of the whole garden, seven hundred pound weed of doom is on the right:

Before
Those cascading white flowers on the left would be pretty if they didn't almost swallow Charlie whole every time he passed on the sidewalk.

We ripped almost everything out (everything except for Bride of Weed of Doom slash Japanese Orchid) and now we are left with a pitiful, empty garden. While at the grocery store today I found some items that I thought would look nice in the empty space. My favorite, a metal chicken statue that holds a flower pot, will have to wait for my birthday since I don't think the the other half of my landscaping team will deem that an wise use of $30 of our landscaping budget. I know! Why not?! I also fell in love with a statue of St. Francis surrounded by birds and woodland creatures. It reminded me of my grandparents and the garden they had behind their house. My grandfather was very proud of the garden and it was beautiful. I didn't really "get" the kind of work and know-how required to have such a beautiful garden at the time, but I do now. My grandma has a St. Francis statue inside the house and she refers to him as Frank, which always cracked me up. Nostalgic as I was, I couldn't justify spending the money impulsively, so I resigned to look around some more to find a St. Francis for our garden.

My first stop was Craigslist, my faithful purveyor of gently used household items of all types. A search of "St. Francis Statue" produced zero results. So I tried "Francis Statue" and "Francis." No luck. Then I tried "garden statue" and was rewarded with this:



And as much as I think a six foot statue of Adonis would add to our curb appeal, I just don't think it's appropriate for all of the small children living nearby (maybe we could class it up with some marble columns --"elegant, sturdy, and bursting with class!"). Not to mention the group heart attack it would cause over at the HOA. First the striped swing set awning and now THIS! They would have our faces on a deck of cards.

It may be time to go to a real store. Sigh, the streak has been broken.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I still have to remind myself that I can relax

Today I was in the back yard with Wes, wearing an old pair of jeans and tshirt, hair in a messy ponytail, hacking up a plot of painstakingly weeded grass with a shovel for a vegetable garden when Dr. Advisor sent me a text. "Can you come meet me now?"

He was in South today for a meeting and had brought with him the form I needed to sign, along with the members of my committee, saying that the committee approved of my dissertation (it's due on Friday).

I wiped the hair off my forehead with a dirt-stained hand and texted him back "I'll be there in an hour" thinking I could take a quick shower, or at least change my clothes. "Get here as fast as you can, within reason" came the reply. Knowing Dr. Advisor, I knew "within reason" meant "don't commit too many moving violations" and not "spend twenty minutes making yourself presentable," so I ran inside, threw on a pair of dress pants and a nice shirt, re-did my ponytail (with a brush! am fancy!), packed Wesley a bottle and some banana yogurt (in case of spontaneous lunch invitation with whoever he was here to see, in case that person wanted to give me a job, I didn't want to introduce myself over my bare nipple, although in this job market anything you can do to distinguish yourself is supposed to be positive), and ran out the door.

When I typed the address Dr. Advisor gave me into Google Map it produced a pleasant pastoral scene with a little creek and a grove of oak trees. I figured Dr. Advisor hadn't come to South to experience the region's natural beauty, even though it is lovely, so I was on my own as far as finding the mysterious office building in which Dr. Advisor's meeting was taking place. When I thought I was getting close I called Dr. Advisor and he tried to talk me through the rest of the drive without the benefit of an exit number or name or knowledge of the region of any kind. When I finally found it, Dr. Advisor was standing out in the parking lot waiting for me. Unable to find a pen between us, we had to all go into the office building where his meeting was taking place, Wesley included. I am nothing if not professional. Cowboy committee member met us at the door and provided the pen and fussed over Wes while I signed my part of the form, then he signed his part.

My other committee member and Dr. Advisor had already signed, so when I handed the form back to Dr. Advisor it meant that I was free! Six years of work, worry, and pain, over, just like that, in a nondescript office park on the side of the highway. After handshakes all around I picked Wesley up in his seat and awkwardly picked my way across the grass in my heels to the car. I offered to drive the professors to the airport, but had to reneg when I realized someone would have to ride in the Britax to make that possible, and that even if I had moved Charlie's seat into the trunk, the two-week old grilled cheese sandwich on the floor of the back seat would not be as endearing to my committee as it was to me.

Instead we returned home where I celebrated by doing the grocery shopping.