Friday, April 29, 2011

Big Men on Campus

I had to run an errand on campus today and while I was sending my students an email, the boys filled in some leftover course evaluations.

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Let's see, "Instructor demonstrates knowledge in course material... STRONGLY DISAGREE."

In this one you can see the sand they spilled all the heck over the place a few weeks ago.

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Just wants to go see the fish tank in the biology department.

The real hit is the ramp outside the building. Once I was teaching a lab in the classroom behind those windows on the right and I could hear them laughing and shrieking outside with their babysitter.

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We had a great morning scootering all over campus and drinking chocolate milk in the student union, but things took a turn for the stubborn and unruly later in the afternoon. I gave Charlie a writing assignment after he refused the help me straighten up the playroom (I wrote, he traced. It was, apparently, very, very painful, so I let him stop after "I am sorry" and signing his name).

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My final is written, my proposal is with the other PI, and I have a whole weekend to get my four senior's grades done. Freedom feels GOOD. TGIF, right?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter, now with 100% more pirates

Even though they say mythical figures like the Easter Bunny and Santa don't come when little boys don't go to sleep, the Easter Bunny risked it all and came to our house last night despite the fact that James was awake for much of the night.

He brought pirate hats for the big boys. There was much ARRRGH-ing and CAPTAIN CHARLIE! And CAPTAIN WES! And NO, I'M THE CAPTAIN! NO ME!! And then they procured James's Easter basket to use as a net to collect their GOLD (yellow Easter eggs).

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James says "I swear I had a Reese Egg in here a few minutes ago. What gives?" (He's going to HARRRR-VARRRRD)

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EB also brought him a toy and a shovel and a new bowl just the right size for the mashed banana he will be enjoying in a couple of months. Can't have too many shovels in this house. Also, he's a roller! Mostly back to front with the occasional front to back thrown in just to keep us guessing.

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When everyone was good and sugared up, we took them to church and made them sit quietly for an hour. It was packed for the holiday and we were so lucky to be squeezed into a pew with dear friends of ours. Wes made it through half the service before being shuttled to the nursery after I wouldn't let him scribble in the attendance register and he bit me in retaliation (ARRRGH!).

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After church we headed to my parents' house for a wonderful Easter dinner on the porch. We had ham, homemade mac and cheese, asparagus, Chinese coleslaw, and Peep Cupcakes. The kids had an egg hunt and scavenger hunt inside and after dinner amused themselves by practicing their casting skills off the deck with the big cousins. I think there's a Texas Country song in this somewhere. Or a Jeff Foxworthy joke.

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Happy East-ARRRGGH!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Probably the most interesting sales call of Peter's day, so there's that

Today the four of us were outside on the school playground after school. I was at my usual place at the picnic table, talking shop with the other mothers while James slept in the carrier and Charlie and Wes ran and played and terrorized each other in the sand box.

I was in the middle of a deep thought about how bad I wanted an iced vanilla latte when Wes came over to sit at my feet and throw rocks at my legs.

I had just opened my mouth to reprimand Wes for the rock throwing when my phone began to ring. The caller ID indicated an unknown number from Massachusetts so as I was leading Wes through the cost-benefit analysis of continuing with the rock throwing I was answering the phone at the same time.

My mind raced through a list of potential people who might be calling me from Massachusetts as I answered and between the rock throwing, the unexpected phone call, the other people around me still talking to one another, I was totally flustered.

An unfamiliar voice asked to speak to Dr. Academomia and then I was even MORE flustered.

"This is Dr. Academomia" I replied with concern. Heads swiveled my direction and women began shuttling young children away from the area. Obviously this was very important. Also, DOCTOR? WTH?

He had just begun his introduction "This is Peter from Mathworks calling about the Matlab quote you requested..." when Wes defiantly flung a handful of rocks at my legs. Several landed in the carrier with James and I had a violent and visceral reaction to protect him that manifested himself in an angry, loud "HEY!!!!" shouted in Wes's direction, but also directly into my phone.

Oh good God.

I apologized immediately and profusely.

He laughed and said "It sounds like you have your hands full!"

"Oh, yes. My two year old is throwing rocks at me. Hahaha!"

He sympathized, "Yeah, well, my teenager throws rocks at me!"

Okey dokey!

I scooped Wes up onto my hip and discussed my Language of Technical Computing Needs with Peter, thanked him, and said goodbye. And apologized again.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Phew

I have been BUSY you guys.

I have been working non-stop all semester on my new class. But then I decided to get fancy and submit an NSF proposal while I was at it. And also care for a newborn. In my free time.

My self-imposed deadline for the proposal was Sunday night. It was more like my millionth self-imposed deadline, but since it's due May 26 and I know it's going to have to go through a lot of edits (slash REWRITES) it needed to be done a lot sooner than that (like two weeks ago would have been perfect). I also had to write up some notes on my last three lectures for my students because (once again) I got fancy and used a different textbook for those lectures to supplement our textbook which lumped mid-latitude cyclones, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes into one totally inadequate chapter.

(Nine chapters about rocks and ONE CHAPTER about severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. REALLY?)

I don't regret that decision because those lectures were BY FAR the most fun I had all semester and the students were either really into it or really amused by the way I was stalking back and forth in front of the board ranting about updrafts and mesocyclones and eyewalls and storm surge damage.

So I had the notes to make, and I had to make a lecture for Thursday and for today. And I had to write my third exam also for today so someone could take it before leaving for a track meet. And the proposal.

And my work day pretty much starts at nine once everyone is in bed, the kitchen has been straightened, and I've spent five minutes talking to Ryan.

I worked all day on Saturday and all afternoon on Sunday. I worked every night until one o'clock. I sent the draft of the proposal off late on Sunday night. I finished the last chapter of lecture notes Monday afternoon while the kids (all three) watched Toy Story. I wrote the exam yesterday evening while our babysitter took the boys to the dining hall for dinner (They also went to a dorm. When I asked what the dorm was like Charlie's only comment was that "it smelled kind of funny").

And then, in a spectacular demonstration of just how well caring for preschoolers prepares you for teaching twenty-year-olds, I scrapped today's lecture, put on a Hurricane Katrina documentary, and passed out homemade cookies. After a little break everyone was ready to play nicely with the Playdoh again.

Add to that the way James sleep habits have been trending in the absolute WRONG direction and we've been taking turns getting up three or four times a night.

An unforseen benefit of all this? The lack of sleep has made me just bitchy enough to finally drive home the message that "we all pick up our own messes because there is too much work for just Mama to do."

When I came downstairs after putting James down tonight everyone was putting toys away and wiping counters down and I got so inspired I mopped the kitchen floor. Then spent several minutes walking around barefoot and marveling at the way my feet don't stick anymore.

Tomorrow I have to finally address the laundry situation and finish the proposal's budget. And possibly take a shower.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

How was that only four years ago?

Just came across this picture of my group of grad school girlfriends at our friend A's (on the left) going-away party when she and her husband got real jobs and moved. This picture was taken after all the husbands had gone home and we had an impromptu dance party in the living room.

The Girls

Charlie was a baby then, the only one. Now there are NINE babies represented in that picture and EIGHT OF THEM ARE BOYS. The most recent two were born in the last six weeks.

I miss you guys so much! Though I'm sure our late night french onion dip, wine, and Sex and the City nights would take on a much different character now.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Poor, Immobile Baby


My toys: so close, yet so far away. Also, delicious, delicious coffee. Someone has unceremoniously put me on the floor so she could attend to some important matter, like unloading the dishwasher. If only I knew how to move.


Maybe if I point at the toys, she'll know what I need.


Am pitiful and unable to help myself. Will just play with own hands. Hands amuse me.


Haha! Success!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Zzzz...

I have spent pretty much every single night this semester working on something. I have to prepare my lectures, which in the beginning were extremely tedious because not only did I have to make slides for class, I had to learn the material too. So I had to care for two children and a newborn all day (and by care for I mean lock all the exterior doors then sit amid the chaos with coffee in hand), then sit down after bedtime to do some really thrilling reading about ROCKS. OMG those freaking rocks. They nearly killed me.

When I wasn't internalizing the intricacies of the rock cycle (YAWN), I was working on an NSF proposal, which is part of Project Keep Some Semblance of a Career Together While the Children are Young. It's due at the end of May and if I could just focus for more than twenty minutes at a time I could have a good first draft finished this week, which is important because of all the other stuff that has to happen before it can be submitted.

But James, after one glorious night about a month ago in which he slept TWELVE HOURS WITHOUT WAKING UP, now requires a team of two and several hours to go to sleep. And then he wakes up to eat around two. And SOMETIMES he goes back to bed. Sometimes he requires one of us (Ryan usually, since he (James, not Ryan) seems to view me not as a person, but as a giant walking boob) to cozy up next to him in the bed in his room for the remainder of the evening.

It's one of those things that seems like it will be temporary when it starts and then a month later you're staring down a really unworkable new normal. We went through the same thing with Wes around the same age and ultimately had to cry it out for all of our sanity. I don't want to have to do that to James, but I also don't want to burn down my house because I fell asleep cooking macaroni and cheese.

Anyway. I've got that proposal. And a lecture on Tuesday that I haven't started working on. And it's only nine o'clock. But I have to take care of three little kids all day tomorrow by myself (two of them can speak well enough to relate any nasty words I accidentally used/garage doors I accidentally bumped with the car). And I am going to bed.

Update: Ryan and I were just changing our sheets (because someone pooped in our bed this morning. Hint: not me. or Ryan.) and I asked him how far the blanket was hanging down on his side. He replied "It's even with the top of the box spring." I said "OK, mine is about an inch below that. That seems like a reasonable standard deviation." Ryan said "Haha, you say 'standard deviation' because you are a scientist! I would say 'tolerance'. Interesting." And then we had a discussion about whether tolerance is an input, decided by the engineer, or a result of a process, like standard deviation is. Six billion people on the planet and somehow we managed to find each other.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

T-Ball, the cutest sport ever

I laughed when Ryan gave me the list of items I had to buy Charlie for his first t-ball game. "A belt? What kind of sport needs a belt?" I'll admit, football is my game. Not that I want one of my kids playing it. But I do like to watch it a lot more than baseball. I like lazing around in the sunshine, which is what you do at our local minor league ballpark, so that is fine, but I rarely pay much attention to the game, which Ryan finds endearing, and probably a little frustrating since he LOVES baseball.

So, though I don't particularly find baseball that interesting, I think t-ball might be the most hilariously adorable thing since the Puppy Bowl.

Here's Charlie all decked out in his uniform, including his belt (why?).

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Here he is awaiting his turn at bat with the rest of the Rivercats.

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Not pictured: Annoyed little brother who would rather be at the playground sitting on the grass eating raisins. Other little brother, sleeping.

The game pretty much goes like this: One kid hits the ball off the T (maybe), then fourteen kids converge on the ball, gloves flying every which way, before one emerges holding the ball over his head and jumping so the other kids can't reach it, batting kid picks a base at random and runs to it. Repeat until every kid has had a turn to hit.

A-stinkin-dorable.

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A-Rod, rounding first

Here are some other pictures from totally different things that have nothing to do with t-ball.

Wes on Friday at our Friday breakfast taco spot. They have a fountain to play in. Wes loves fountains. Did anyone else notice him losing every last bit of baby? Because I didn't until I saw this picture.

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James says "Those losers finally got me an infant gym and I have to share it with the big kids!" Also "Ooooh, mysterious hanging toys. I will stare at them contentedly for so long you will feel like you are neglecting me and pick me up."

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And finally, while I was washing the dinner dishes I heard a scream. This is what I found when I went to check on the big kids. Strangely, no one saw how Wes got wet. Charlie was just as surprised as I was, as you can see.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

You would think I had figured this out by now

It's been a magical special kind of week around here.

After two long, LONG nights of fussy James and cough-y, fever-y Wes and manic, crazy man Charlie, we were both completely wrecked last night. As usual, James woke to eat around three and I went to get him. How I manage to stumble to his room every night without falling down the stairs, which are right outside my bedroom door, I will never know. It's not my most coherent moment of the day. Especially on nights when I've already been awakened four times by various children and didn't fall into bed fully clothed until midnight after finishing my lecture. But somehow I made it to his room and was surprised that he started crying even louder after I had scooped him up. I was confused until I held him close to me and he kicked me in the face. Because he was upside down. I was holding him head down like some kind of terrifying infant amusement park ride.

I fed him until he was calm (also: right side up) then laid him carefully in the crib, which made him wake up angrily and begin kicking the mattress with his heels. Beyond exhausted, I went back to bed and played dumb. "I think James might be crying. I just fed him... would you mind?" Ryan stumbled down the hall to room with James and I fell back to sleep until 6:30 when James woke up A-N-G-R-Y. He fussed and cried through our entire morning "routine". He wouldn't be put down. He wouldn't take a paci. He was MAD. We had no idea why, but given the lack of sleep and the fact that I can't operate the coffeemaker one-handed, it was a bad scene.

I got a text from the babysitter after class "James is weirdly fussy today!" And when I got home she looked very harried and ran out of my house like it was on fire. Sure enough, I couldn't calm James down either and he cried until it was time to go get Charlie.

He pretty much cried until I put all the pieces together--the recent hand-mouthing, the drool soaked shirts, the sleep disruption, the terrible attitude, the nipple biting (OMG)--and thought to try giving him a little nip of Motrin. After that he ate contentedly for over an hour and fell soundly asleep. When he woke up he was back to his normal happy self.

I'm sure my HMO will be glad to learn I no longer take children to the doctor because they are teething. It only took me three kids to figure it out.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bitch, interrupted

I was in line today at an outdoor hamburger restaurant, Wes and Charlie standing nicely by my sides, James in the carrier, when a woman in front of me turned around to face me. Mouth slightly ajar she looked from Charlie to me to Wes and then back to James and said "THREE boys?!"

"Yup!" I said proudly.

Then she made a noise of disgust. Like UGH, but more guttural.

I stood there, wide eyed. What the hell, lady!

She explained "I have two and I'm losing my MIND! I can't imagine."

It was not a tone of admiration.

I did not like this woman. I did not like this woman at all.

First of all her two year old would not stop darting around the sidewalk back and forth, back and forth, getting dangerously close to the parking lot and it was making me really nervous. And second, she had just insulted MY FAMILY, right in front of MY KIDS who understand every single thing anyone around them says. I should know, Charlie sings along with Pink "Don't get fancy, just get dancy!" Which is hilarious, but not grandparent-appropriate.

How could I simultaneously and politely reassure my kids and tell Ms. Busybody to shut her yapper?

I smiled and said "Oh, but they are such good boys!" then gave them each a squeeze on the shoulder.

I was still smiling as she wordlessly turned around to order her lunch.

(She does not need to know that Charlie lost the privilege of talking in the car on our way home.)