Saturday, April 28, 2007

Check your neck.

GMC Yukon: 1 Crackhouse apartments: 0

Last night at 2:15 I woke up to a loud BANG. I went back to sleep. Then there were sirens. I went back to sleep. Then Charlie woke up and I went into his room where there were lights flashing through his window and what sounded like a big truck running outside. I peeked out his window and saw three or four firetrucks and several police cars down the street from my house where my street Ts into another street.

I took that picture from my driveway this morning as evidence that on the road to redneck it is a slippery slope from drinking beer in your driveway to living next to a house with a truck-shaped hole in it.

Charlie and I hung out with my neighbor and her friend who were having a yard sale today to finance a gambling trip to New Mexico and I got to hear some of the details of the accident from them. It was two college-aged kids in a big SUV. And as is usually the case in car vs. building accidents, the driver had been drinking. They came flying down my street, ran the stop sign, hopped the curb, and hit the house.

While we were sitting on my neighbor's porch the resident of the smashed apartment walked out of the hole holding the grill of the truck over his head like a trophy.

We all cheered. Then we finished the last of our Wild Turkey and ate the possum-steaks we grilled up on the car's radiator.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Making Babyfood, Out in 10 Minutes

When I was shopping for my breast pump (or rather, when Ryan was shopping for my breast pump because I was still in denial that my preshus babykins was going to go to daycare) the reviews for the one I ended up buying were all positive with one exception. Many people complained that the pump was "loud". I scoffed "For heaven's sake it's a breast pump, who cares what it sounds like!"

Today? ME, that's who!

I had a meeting with a professor on campus at 10:00 and a group lunch (totally skippable in theory but why pass up a buffalo chicken sandwich) at 11:30, which left me no real time to go home and pump. Charlie's daycare is right across the street from the restaraunt but every time I go there to feed him I end up having to wake him up and then sit there feeding him and making awkward chit chat with his teachers. So I brought the pump with me to school.

I made a cute little note that said "Making Babyfood, Out in 10 Minutes" and taped it to the door of the one-seater ladies room in our office. This one.

About five minutes in, when it's really impossible to stop until you are done, without making a huge mess I heard the voice of our director in the conference room (which shares a wall with the bathroom). And that's when I became all too aware of just how loud this particular model of breast pump is. It sounds like an ink jet printer, except much louder.

I was a little embarassed. But then I thought "You know what? I had a perfectly good office for three years before you kicked me out of it and into that group office in the basement with all the strangers wandering in and out and leaving the door unlocked." And then I thought that maybe I better calm down or the pumping was going to take twice as long.

So I looked at cute pictures of Charlie.


If that doesn't stimulate your let-down reflex I don't know what will.

Charlie is feeling much better. Better living through chemistry and all that. The decongestant makes him feel so much better and he is able to sleep. And he loves his pink bubble gum antibiotic. The smell really takes me back. Learn from my mistakes: when administering liquid medicine to an infant, it is easiest and least likely to stain the carpet and all of your clothing and his pink if he is LYING DOWN. File that one under duh duh duh you idiot you don't give a baby medicine IN AN EXERSAUCER.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

When Mucus Attacks

This is your baby on prescription decongestants.

This is your baby on decongestants

Last night he wouldn't go to sleep until Ryan laid him on his own pillow and sang "Jesus Loves Me" softly into his ear. He couldn't eat because he couldn't breathe through his nose. We poured little sips of expressed milk into his mouth from a cup. He was a sad boy. I'm glad he's sleeping now.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Nibbs goes to Washington

After much negotiating, instant messaging, plan changing and confusion on all sides, it has been decided that Charlie is going to D.C. with me in May. My dad is going to come too and he will take Charlie while I am at the conference. And my aunt is going to come down from Philly for a night. I am so excited. Please don't tell my nice nice hotel with the special beds that the professional looking grad student with the adorable baby is actually going to be housing a gypsy encampment complete with a Pack and Play and an air mattress in her room.

My dad grew up in the area and I haven't been there since I was in elementary school. We're going to have a great time. Did I mention that I'm excited? I wish it was tomorrow.

Special bonus I: my dad is renting a car. Now I don't have live the urban dream of taking a stroller, a carry-on bag, and a rolling suitcase on the subway by myself. Although I was more than willing to do that purely for the entertainment value it would have provided the readers of this blog (and untold numbers of D.C. area commuters I am sure, if you call getting knocked to the ground by an enormous rolling suitcase tumbling out of control down an escalator "entertaining").

Special bonus II: I may get to see Amalah, the blogger I met in Austin over spring break. That tidbit nearly convinced A to cancel her trip to Italy and come with me in hopes that the three of us could go to Coach and Sephora* together.

I promise many pictures of Charlie being held up in front of national monuments.

*Me going into Sephora would be like Julia Roberts going to the fancy stores on Rodeo Drive before Richard Gere sent the hotel concierge with her in Pretty Woman. I need their help oh so badly but I am in such bad shape they take one look at me and then try to look busy.

In other news, we had very nice weather this weekend and got to spend some time outside. Charlie can sit up for short periods of time.

But sometimes he tips over backwards and gets grass stains on his head.
Learning to sit up is difficult

Thursday, April 19, 2007

crappity crap crap crap on a crap cracker

Students: Thank you for responding so quickly; several of you showed willingness to travel on short notice which shows your enthusiasm and cooperation.

Becca LastName has agreed to go to the meeting sacrificing her family life for few days; This shows her professional commitment and her husband and baby’s support.

Becca: You are selected to represent our students. Please work with Dr. Professor to get registered, reserve hotel, submit abstract, prepare poster and travel arrangements etc. CA and AW will help you with travel application, funding source etc. Thank you

So I'm going on a little vacay to D.C. in May (hee, that rhymed). It's actually a conference. Funny thing is, CHARLIE WILL NOT BE THERE. He will be HERE. Where I am NOT. I was feeling all woman-hear-me-roar when I sent the email asking to be considered. Dumb. DUMB!!!

And I kinda thought maybe I could take a friend with me (A you know who you are) and then we could take Charlie and take pictures of Charlie with the Washington Monument growing out of his head or of Charlie sitting on Thomas Jefferson's Lap (or of Charlie being detained and interrogated by the Secret Service after I tried to slide him between the fence bars at the White House because I thought it would make a cute picture). But the friend I had in mind will be in ITALY during the conference.

That means I'm going to have to become very closely acquainted with my dread enemy, the breast pump. Because I will be gone for TWENTY-FOUR feedings. And instead of unclenching and just using formula while I am gone, I am going to squeeze two extra pumping sessions into every day between now and the conference. That way when I am presenting my research poster and someone asks me a question that is too hard I can hose them down with breastmilk (and really all that will involve is unbuttoning my jacket because I'm sure I won't be able to pump during the day and the girls will be spraying all Old Faithful-like the entire time).

In preparation for the conference I need to (in order of importance):
1. Lose 10 pounds
2. Buy the perfect professional-yet-stylish-and-cute Coach bag (from the outlet which is six hours away)
3. Figure out what of my work wardrobe I can at least pull the zipper up on/get buttoned/not look ridiculous
4. Get frustrated, spend too much $$ on new conference appropriate clothing
5. Make research progress
6. Write an abstract detailing research progress
7. Make research poster

And I signed myself up for this.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Jagged little everything

Just got back from the doctor. I've had a bad sore throat since yesterday morning and Ryan and my dad talked me into getting checked for strep in the interest of me not giving strep to Charlie.

I had a perfectly good appointment for tomorrow morning at Student Health on campus (which would have been free), but after thinking about it some I decided to go to a walk-in place. I didn't want to spend another night shivering under my down comforter afraid to swallow and also the internet told me that strep can morph into really scary things if you don't take care of it quickly (flesh eating virus anyone?).

One hundred bucks later I have a "well yeah it might be strep" diagnosis based on my symptoms (raging sore throat, tender lymph nodes, probable fever last night, and white spots on my tonsils) and a prescription for some antibiotics rated "probably safe for breastfeeding mothers" by the AAP.

Ryan is in Austin today for a workshop. His flight left at 7:00 am. At 6:00 this morning Rossby jumped into our bed and woke me up. I sleepily glanced at the clock and then was instantly awake. Me: "RYAN GET UP OH MY GOSH IT'S SIX O'CLOCK YOU'RE GOING TO MISS YOUR FLIGHT!!!!" Ryan: "SHIT!!" [leaves room, returns eight minutes later mysteriously shaven and dressed in a suit] "Bye sweetie, I'll see you tonight!" Me: "Why can't he move like that when we're late for church?"

So think happy thoughts, internet, that this workshop will result in a job offer from a great company with awesome benefits, an onsite daycare, a part time job for me, and a 401K program. Oh and a signing bonus of a bigger car (Honda Element to be specific).

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Honey I'm home!!

My parents were in town this weekend. This morning when I got out of the shower, this is what I found going on in the family room:

Krispy Kreme

Ryan just got back after being gone since Thursday for a job interview. Some things I have noticed as a result of being on my own with Charlie for two whole days before my parents showed up and made sure everyone kept their diaper on and got to eat regularly are as follows:

1. Before 10 in the morning, Ryan is the force without which the entire family would crumble. Ryan is the one who finds my glasses for me if they are not where I can feel them on my night stand. He is the one who loads the diaper bag and fills the bottles and takes Charlie to daycare as I sit pants-less and bleary eyed on the couch wondering if I should get the au lait or the iced tea this morning.

1a. Ryan is also the one who takes the first shower and warms up the bathroom for me (because we have the only house in the universe in which the shower is actually warmer for the second shower-er).

1b. Ryan has never left the house early, thought "I have a few extra minutes, I'll stop for a cup of iced tea and some coffee cake!", then arrived at daycare right on time only to realize the carefully loaded diaper bag is SITTING ON THE KITCHEN TABLE.

1c. Ryan has never overstayed his welcome at daycare causing the nineteen year old teacher to say "Mrs. Academomia? Would you like to join us for puppet time?"

Bottom line Ryan? NEVER LEAVE AGAIN. The next business trip you take better be when Charlie is in college.

And also? We had a very nice chat about the minivan possibility. Ryan was so sweet. He said he really wanted to do it for me. But really, the timing is not great. I mean, unless something changes I will be unemployed as of September and we have no idea where we will be living. So we had a great talk and concluded that we should pass for now. And then Ryan drove my car to the airport and got to experience firsthand what I've been talking about. The exersaucer, carseat, and diaper bag are all in the back seat and our vacuum cleaner and weedwacker are in the passenger seat. Mwahahaha.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The cat is away

Charlie and I just got back from the fancy grocery store where I shop when Ryan is out of town. For dinner I will be having the gourmet pepperoni take-and-bake pizza with the four giant pieces of pepperoni arranged in a totally impractical but very pretty pattern and for dessert I will be having a bakery brownie of the gooey frosted variety. I just finished my snack of smoked mozzerella and penne salad with mango iced tea.

Why am I treating myself to such delicacies? Because Ryan is at an on-site job interview in freaking Oregon and he gets to eat whatever the heck he wants at whatever restaraunt he wants and all for FREE.

So Oregon. My initial reaction when Ryan mentioned the interview was "Ha, good one honey." After asking around though, we decided he should go ahead and go on the interview trip because it would be good practice and it would look pretty silly to turn down an interview simply because it was in the state next to Idaho.

But now we have spent some time looking at the town online and houses we could live in, places we could eat, places where I would be getting my morning caffeine and adult interaction fix, etc. The place seems to be some kind of huppie paradise with lots of fun outdoor activities like skiing and kayaking and despite a population of only eighty-thousand people, no fewer than TWENTY-TWO entries in the "coffee shops" category on the town website.

So, you know, maybe it wouldn't be so bad. We can be huppies. That's just a hippie with a nice handbag right? We already use cloth diapers. And I've been known to sneak ground turkey into a meatloaf from time to time. Everyone I've asked about the town raves about it.

In other news, my car knows that I was talking about cheating on it in yesterday's post and now it is doing "a thing". A jerking thing that makes me think it's going to stall. It hasn't stalled yet though, and the A/C still works. Come on baby only a few more months to go!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dream a little dream with me

Today I had plans to have lunch with two of my friends. I was going to pick them up at the university and drive all of us to the lunch place. In preparation I moved all of the baby crap accessories to one side of the back seat so the second friend could sit on the opposite side. When they got in the car they told me they had invited a third person. This required some serious creativity as the backseat contained not only the carseat, but also the stroller that is usuallly in the trunk. The trunk was occupied by Ryan's birthday present from my parents. Finally, we managed to get everyone in with the doors closed all clown car-ish. The stroller was perched on top of the carseat base, and all the baby clothes and diapers were pushed into the space between the stroller and the car seat. The two girls in back just had to be careful not to crush the nine million casserole dishes that are back there until I remember to take them back to their respective owners.

Thank goodness we were only going about ten blocks.

My car has been very, very good to me. I really should write a letter to Dodge, because the Neon is such a wonderful wonderful car. It is roomy, has a good sized trunk, it's fun to drive, and it gets Kyoto Protocol approved gas mileage. And it was very affordable when I got it (when I paid for a quarter of it and my parents paid the rest) in 2001. It is now seven years old and it runs great. I've had very few problems with it, mechanically, except for a small electrical problem with the air conditioner and a weird clutch thing that are both fixed now thanks to Ryan and my dad.

So it is with a little bit of sadness that I admit that my sweet little green car is not working for me as well as it once did. Once the stroller is in the trunk, there is very little room for anything else and the carseat occupies about 40% of the back seat.

It is impossible to put the infant carrier in the base without either smacking your face on the door frame or hitting your head or collapsing your trachea by pinning your neck between the ceiling of the car and the carrier's handle (I've done this many times and I'm sure Charlie could have learned some bad bad words because of it but thankfully you can't actually talk when your trachea is being crushed by a carseat).

After the lunch adventure, I got home to an email from a professor who is moving overseas and is selling all his stuff. One of the items for sale is a very reasonably priced minivan with low-ish miles.

I know what you're thinking. And everyone says they're "not a minivan person" until they have kids and realize how expensive even the smallest SUVs are (and decide maybe they don't want to live out their days eating through a hole in their neck after all the throat crushing).

And oh is it a nice car. It has sliding doors on both sides. And a huge trunk area. And extra seats. And oh geez it's forest freaking green, we would be a living breathing cliche.

I thought I could punk it out a little with some carefully chosen stickers for the back window (and NO, not "My son is an honor student and yours is not. Suckah!"). Ooh and spinners. Klassy.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Easter Bunny visits Charlie!

We were worried, because there were about five inches of snow on the ground, but he made it! And he brought treasure!

Charlie's Easter Basket

We had a very nice breakfast at church (because nothing motivates Ryan and me to get out the door early like free quiche) with some friends from our Sunday School class. A nursery worker brought Charlie and another baby over in a stroller so she could get some breakfast. As they rolled by our table Charlie just kind of stared at us like "wait a minute, I think I know you guys". It was pretty funny. I also thought it was funny that the nursery worker could eat her breakfast with two babies and we dropped our ONE baby off at the nursery.

Bye Bye Buggy
Charlie trying to loose himself from the sinister Bye Bye Buggy while more average sized babies look on with hope in their hearts that one day they too will be free.

Family Picture

Friday, April 6, 2007

Am eerily calm and detached

Time remaining before Ryan's parents arrive: 5 hours, 15 minutes

Time remaining before Charlie comes home: 2 hours, 15 minutes

House status: PIT OF DESPAIR

Any chance I can pass this off as "pleasantly lived in"?

Guest Bathroom (also Charlie's Bathroom): truck-stop-ish

Number of spitup stained baby outfits adorning the living room floor: 4738292

Weather forecast for Easter Weekend: 60% CHANCE OF ACCUMULATING SNOW

Hope for idyllic family picnic/easter egg hunt as originally planned: 0

Cheerful, together daughter-in-law status: Unshowered, undercaffienated, wearing maternity pants just for the heck of it, updating blog instead of cleaning up the $@#*ing house already

And also... I applied for a full time position yesterday. And I am telling you because who better than the internet to witness by headlong descent into multiple personality disorder?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

As a reward for making it through that last (looonnnng and serious) post...'s a funny story about boobies. I was reading Amalah's archives and it was time to pump, but I didn't want to stop reading even though you can totally see me sitting at my kitchen table with the computer from the street and it's really time to get some curtains or blinds or something (for heaven's sake).

Also the prospect of moving both the laptop and the pump to a more private location (and associated untangling of the pump's hose, laptop cord, pump power adapter, internet cord, photo downloadey thing, pepper grinder, cell phone cord, coffee mug) was exhausting. Last night I woke up at 5:30 in the morning again like "he-LOOOO BOOBS" and also "How did I not notice I was sleeping in a PUDDLE OF MILK?" so skipping the pump wasn't an option (seriously, I couldn't sleep on my side, no supply issues here, there's a reason my kid weighs 22 pounds at 5 months).

So I very cleverly positioned this bag of tortilla chips between me and the window. An impenetrable wall of starch behind which I may pump in total privacy (and also All Natural and 0 Grams of Trans Fats per serving, score!)!!

When Mommies Attack

My blog friend, whom I have never met, but who I think I would want as my friend from reading her blog (She's a Phd student like me, has an infant like me, reads Glamour like me, and drinks too much coffee like me), wrote a particularly insightful post in response to an excerpt she read from a book called The Feminine Mistake about the choices women must make regarding their careers and their families. The thesis of the post is that we spend too much energy arguing about whether it is better for a woman to work outside of the home or stay home to care for her family when we should be working instead to find better childcare solutions and create more family friendly working environments.

This subject is near to my heart as I hope to finish my degree soon and will making the decision to work or not work or try to piece together something in between. I have read two interesting books on the subject. The first, which I read before having Charlie (and hid from my family so as to avoid curiosity), is called Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety by Judith Warner and The Two-Income Trap by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi. Both books allude to the fact that while working outside the home is considered a "choice" for mothers, it is often not a choice at all. Rising home prices (mostly in desirable school districts) and increasing college costs have made it virtually impossible to maintain a middle class lifestyle on a single salary. Add to that the constant bickering between the WOHMs (Work Outside the Home Moms) and the SAHMs (Stay at Home Moms), wild daycare tuition costs (and a huge range in quality of care) and you have a recipe for a lot of unhappy, overtired women.

The job I would look for if I thought it existed would be 3/4 time, have onsite daycare, a comprehensive healthcare package, and a flexible policy regarding working from home (in case of a sick kiddo, school holidays, etc). Instead my options are tenure track professor (incredibly demanding of my attention and time, likely to consume more than 40 hours per week), scientist in private industry (same, but likely to require even more time), instructor at a university (better hours, but no real career prospects), research assistant at a university (potential for reasonable hours and probably the best available option IF I could find a position in my field), coffee shop employee (no benefits, no career), or stay at home.

In my heart I feel like the traditional arrangement where one partner earns money and the other partner cares for the household and family makes the most sense of all. I imagine this awful scenario where Ryan and I both have great (career great) jobs that require tons of our time and energy, we pick Charlie up at the end of the day, play with him for an hour, put him to bed, eat fast food every night for dinner, then fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day knowing that it would all start again in the morning and worse yet that we had to use the weekend to catch up on the laundry, grocery shopping, and a thousand other little things that are required to run a household. But staying home requires tremendous sacrifice on the part of the partner who stays at home. There are rewards, of course, but caring for your family means giving up your career, your security (if something were to happen to your spouse what would you do?), extra income that your family could really use, and part of your identity.

I have such mixed feelings on this subject and I change my mind every single day. I have half-heartedly sent out resumes to three different organizations. Some days I can't wait to stay at home all day with Charlie and other days I can't wait to get a job. But I don't really know why I want to get a job. Maybe it's the sense I have that it's what is expected of me after all of this school or maybe it's because 'everyone else' is looking for a job and I feel like I should be too. Who knows. I do NOT want to put Charlie in full-time daycare (I don't have a fundamental objection, it's just not what I want for my family, I'd miss him like crazy!), so I guess that is my answer. It seems impossible to have a happy, peaceful, orderly home with two career oriented jobs. Maybe I will be lucky enough to scrape together a few consulting jobs from various professors I've worked with and I can do half-time daycare.

If you have the perfect job for me, leave a comment with your email address... I'll send you a resume!!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Pomp and Poopypants

Charlie was in the Palm Processional at church on Sunday. Correction, he LED the Palm Processional at church on Sunday. He was the Grand Marshall, Baby #1.

In the Palm Parade

Ignore that other kid. Everyone knows the head honcho sits in back. They even let him have a palm. I was so relieved to see that he wasn't chewing on it when he came into the church. The nursery worker wheeled him down the aisle in the stroller like the Pope in his Pope-mobile. It was the most excited I've been in church since my wedding. Behind Charlie's stroller was the Bye-Bye-Buggy (an enormous stroller that carries eight infants) and then a parade of children so long the organist had to improvise long after the hymn was over. They parked Charlie and the other kid in the front of the church on the other side from where we were during the children's sermon, but I could still see his hair.

Ryan let him play with the palm folded like a cross they had given us as we left the church. After waving it around like a crazy televangelist for a while and then chewing on it, he fell asleep with it in his hand. I think he has a future as the kid who carries the cross down the aisle on Sundays, don't you?

Wiped out after the Parade

Then we took him to the university to take pictures with the pretty flowers. We woke him up for this (you might be able to tell) because we are mean like that.

Charlie in the tulips

Charlie says "Dude! I was suh-lee-ping. What the hell?"