Friday, August 29, 2008

Still Crazy

One day this week ten years ago I went up to the Wesley Foundation campus ministry at school and met this guy.

Ryan Bec in town

I was a freshman there for a small group meeting and he was a sophomore there for choir practice. It was the first week of school. I was talking to one of Ryan's friends about a big box of tshirts he was carrying when Ryan came out of the bathroom. Ryan says he liked me right away and I was thrilled to have an opportunity to call him a few days later when we and some friends decided to road trip to another city for the weekend (he was visiting friends, I was participating in a club swim meet, HA! Physical fitness is for suckers!). I sat on the floor in the hallway of my dorm and we talked and talked as neighbors left for class and then returned from class and my creepy roommate woke up from her nap and left for dinner (We still talk about that roommate, who would come back from the shower and stand naked in front of the mirror while she did her hair and makeup and brushed her teeth. The room was so tiny I couldn't get more than six feet away from her while this was going on. She also slept naked, or wearing her swimsuit).

Who could have predicted what (and who) the next ten years would bring?

In the Alvin

(Actually all of our friends could. When we called to announce our engagement after five years of dating most people's response was "Well, YEAH! Finally!")

By the way, I totally kicked ass in Calculus 1 my freshman year because the only way I could see Ryan during the week was to join him in the library every evening and study. Now we sit in the living room together at night working on our respective laptops and watching the Democratic National Convention. Some things never change. What's it going to be like when no one is in school?

In honor of the tenth anniversary of our meeting each other, Sweetie, I will think of something better to say as you walk in the door than "Charlie asked to sit on the potty TWICE this afternoon!"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Panic Sets In

Yesterday I sent a non-committal little email to Dr. Advisor asking if he thought he would have time to provide me with some revisions (to my horribly incomplete document) before El Deadline Grande at the end of September and his response was "Sure! I've been really pleased with your progress and I can't wait to take a look."

So now he has it in his red pen happy little hands. And he freaking printed it. He has a paper copy he can take with him on his latest field project.

I kind of hope he opens the door of the truck during landfall and part of it blows away (preferably the parts where I forgot to remove the odd little notes to myself, or the parts where I get all full of myself and ramble on for several pages about something that will turn out to be totally incorrect, or the parts where I include titles on my graphs--the HORROR).

He eschews staples and paper clips in favor of a precarious stacking system, differentiating projects by alternating the orientation of the paper landscape-portrait-landscape-portrait, so there is some hope of, say, my inadequate Historical Research chapter being blown to oblivion all over the Gulf Coast before he has the chance to read it and store away amusing anecdotes about it to share at the department Christmas party.

Good thing I am in such a completely normal emotional state right now because I would hate to start crying when he goes over the revisions with me. That would probably be just as embarrassing as the first time it happened many many years ago when we first wrote a paper together.

Today I will be writing Appendix A: I'm Putting Myself on Bedrest Because I Should Not Be Allowed out in Public

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Off his schedule, Off my rocker

We took Charlie to our monthly culdesac party last night and kept him up well past his seven o'clock bedtime. He was behaving so well and we were having such a nice time we figured we'd live a little, even though I knew in the back of my mind that keeping him up late, paradoxically, only makes him wake up earlier. So we stuck around long after dessert, sitting in lawn chairs with our neighbors while Charlie ran around with the older kids (and smeared cake frosting all over the back door of the house before LICKING IT OFF, a proud proud moment for me). We finally got him into bed around ten till nine. I was fully prepared for pain in the morning, but it's not like I was going to be hungover (and, honestly, once I wake up for that 5:30 trip to the bathroom I never really go back to sleep anyway since SOMEBODY can't keep his little body away from the area previously occupied by my lungs and that nagging feeling of near suffocation makes it tough to relax).

He SLEPT UNTIL 8:20. Normal wake up time is 6:30. I woke up without my little thirty-pound alarm clock for the first time in more than 21 MONTHS.

You would think that all that extra rest would have made us feel great, but morning is morning and it is never a good time for either of us. Example 1: I was leaning my entire weight into the back of our car at church this morning while Ryan ran around to the driver's seat to reset the parking break after the car started to ROLL AWAY while Ryan was getting Charlie out of his seat when this very nice couple from our Sunday School class walked over to say good morning and ask how I was feeling.

When we got home from eating lunch out at a restaraunt with WAITERS because Charlie was so well rested we were able to push his nap by about two hours AND STILL be out in public, Charlie easily went down for his nap. In contrast, we usually race home from church going about Mach 1 singing crazily and pointing out every imaginable roadside point of toddler interest in an effort to get him home and fed BEFORE he falls asleep. A nap that lasted nearly THREE HOURS.

Even after taking him to the pool (which exhausted Ryan and me, but not Charlie, ironically), and keeping him up slightly later than normal to account for the late/long nap, he was up running around in his room long after bedtime. I know because his room is right over the living room and the pitter patter of not-so-little feet is unmistakable. Neither is the sound of him knocking on the window and yelling when he sees deer or our neighbors outside. When it had finally been quiet for about half an hour I snuck up there to check on him. I crept down the hall and turned on the hall light and he scared the hell out of me by being RIGHT THERE standing at his babygate, looking up at me with squinted eyes. He pointed at the light and said "Light!" before skittering off to his bed where he knew he was supposed to be.

The last round of footsteps I heard occurred around 9:30. I haven't been up to check on him but he's probably asleep. 7:00 is going to come early for him tomorrow (for me too). It's a school day.

BUT! It is the first school day I will be starting at ONE HUNDRED PAGES! Oh yes, I worked dilligently this weekend to add my references, title page, acknowledgements, abstract, table of contents, list of tables, and list of figures pages (but not actual content, of course), and do all the formatting I can do right now and it bumped me up from eighty-one to one-hundred pages. Tomorrow I'm going to try to organize my conclusions chapter (ha HA like I have any conclusions yet).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's like I'm an eccentric celebrity from the 80s

All day I write sentences like:

On the other hand, the author of the 2004 paper found a value of 1.44. (talking about myself)

The authors concluded that there was no difference between the two data sets. (again, talking about myself)

[Last Name] used data collected in 1998. (talking about, you guessed it, myself)

And then I pick up Charlie and all afternoon say things like:

That is Mama's drink.

Please don't touch Mama's phone.

Mama asked you to sit down in the cart and you didn't. Please say you are sorry.

It's enough to give someone a complex. If I'm not careful I might start using a fake British accent or referring to my house as "The Ranch". Or become a Scientologist.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

You're laughing with me, right?

One nice thing about the internet is that it provides a quick means for huge nerds like me to catch up on tidbits of pop culture that might otherwise have gone overlooked. Because, you know, you wouldn't want to accidentally name your baby son a slang term for penis.

Not exactly the tribute to Ryan's grandfather we were hoping for.

You know you are cool when you require Wikipedia to learn this kind of information. If only it had been around when I was in high school.

Not sure how I missed this one, since it was a prominent storyline on at least one episode of Sex and the City. An episode that I now remember watching. In fact I just realized with horror that the voice I've been hearing using Bravo's future name in my head was none other than Trey McDougal's. And he sure wasn't talking about a little boy.

Oh wow can you imagine the snickering at his baptism? Or high school graduation? Or from the L.L. Bean employee charged with monogramming it on a tote bag?

There was no way we could go ahead with the name after this. He's already at a social disadvantage by having Ryan (doctorate in engineering) and me (ABD in science) as parents. A gymnast just fell off the balance beam on TV and I said "Oh, I hope Charlie pursues academic interests, I couldn't watch him get hurt like that!" and Ryan replied "He's going to be a Mathlete!" and I said "I'll put a bumper sticker on the car that says 'My mathlete could integrate parabolas around your football player'" and we both laughed a little too loud. Isn't it lucky we found each other?

It was surprisingly easy for us to come up with a new name that has NO Wikipedia pages yet. No serial killers, no politicians, no washed up celebrities, and certainly no lewd anatomical references.

I also (very very nervously) Googled Charlie's full first and middle names, and learned that Charles Hamilton was a highly respected race and social justice activist on the faculty of Harvard Law School. Phew!

Monday, August 18, 2008

I was shooting for funny and sarcastic but now I'm all sniffy

I now wake up with a start every morning, alarms going off in my head reminding me to attend to my basic biological needs IMMEDIATELY.

BATHROOM! EAT SOMETHING! BATHROOM AGAIN! NO you may not check your email! NO you may not check the weather forecast! And while you're at it, why don't you go to the bathroom again? NOW DRINK SOME WATER, BETCH!!

I am not a morning person under the best of circumstances and waking up in this kind of panic has made for some erratic behavior. Like running barefoot and on the verge of tears into the driveway to get Ryan's set of the keys to my car before he left for work because I CAN'T FIND MINE ANYWHERE %#@$@# #@$@$@$# %#$@$#@$#@$@ COFFEE NOOOOOOWWWWWW!

It's not pretty.

(After dropping Charlie off and getting some tea at the Big Green Coffeeshop I found my keys in the chair I always throw them in when I walk in the door. I hadn't looked there. Oops. Sorry sweetie!!)

And also, did you realize that six weeks equals forty-two days? Because that's how many days are left in this pregnancy (and Charlie's life as he knows it). And when I saw that printed on the handy online pregnancy calculator I was looking at this weekend I thought "Oh, that must be a mistake. Huh." and walked away from the computer to resume eating cookie dough and watching the Olympics.

It was only later that I started adding it all up... "I'm almost 34 weeks, which means there are 6 weeks remaining, 6 times 7 is... HOLY CRAP FORTY-TWO DAYS." It's possible that I said that last part out loud, and at an inappropriate time.

And they say you lose your practical skills when you go to grad school.

Seriously, though...

How can he be anything other than my baby?

Sleepy boy

Friday, August 15, 2008

The best 24 hours of his life

I don't know what was more exciting.

The trip to IHOP for dinner last night:

Charlie: "ALRIGHT PANCAKES! Pancakes? Pancakes? More dip [syrup]? PANCAKES! More pancakes? Please? Please? Please? PANCAKES!" and that was before our server came with our order.

When I told him I thought we would get our pancakes in just a few minutes he handed me his crayons, placemat, truck, and silverware, declaring "Bye bye!" as he handed me each item, then stared intensely at the door of the kitchen until our server appeared with our food.

Or waking up to six concrete trucks and some kind of concrete delivering crane right in front of our house.

Notice that the ongoing sunrise. It was very very early.

He stood by the window yelling "TRUCK!" while both of us got dressed and brushed our teeth. We held him up in front of the window while we were getting him dressed. He couldn't even eat breakfast because once I got his shoes on he started pulling at the booster seat straps and shrieking "OUT? OUT? OUT? TRUCKS! TRUCKS! OUTSIDE? TRUCKS? PLEASE?" Ryan was thirty minutes late leaving for work because Charlie got so pitiful when we tried to put him in the carseat.

I like that kid so much that after being momentarily annoyed that SIX CONCRETE TRUCKS were idling, reving their engines, and backing up (beep beep beep!) in front of my house at SIX O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING, my first thought was "Man I can't WAIT until Charlie can see this."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Were you expecting more cute stories about my kid?

Woo hoo!! Finally... after many, many bad words uttered last night as I tried to do this and also watch the Olympics (and, OK, talk on AIM to my grandma and my aunt).
Gee, maybe I can break 80 pages by the weekend now that I'm not spending every waking moment responding to Matlab error messages. I'll finally have a good answer for Ryan's parents when they ask how my dissertation is going (you know, besides throwing up into the nearest trash can at the sheer panic of it all). To infinity and beyond!

(That's wind, by the way. Fake wind. In the frequency domain. My dissertation, it is thrilling.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Where did that come from?

I've gotten so used to Charlie's constant monologue that sometimes it takes me a minute to realize that he's trying to get my attention, especially when I'm driving in a lot of traffic, as was the case yesterday when we were on our way home from day care and a trip to the grocery store.

I suddenly realized that my rising anxiety level was not being caused by all of the other drivers, but by the whining growing ever louder and more urgent sounding from the back seat.

I said, in a calm voice, "Charlie, can you please use words to tell me what you need?"

He stopped whining for a second, then replied


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Too many thoughts for one post

On Saturday the whole family headed downtown to the ice cream festival for some ice cream and petting zoo fun. Charlie was alternately fascinated and terrified by the animals in the petting zoo.

"I'm all out of food and I think this weird looking dog is going to eat me instead."
"I love animals, but sleeping in the sun is nice."

Afterwards, my mom took Charlie back to her house for the afternoon, leaving Ryan and me alone for two hours before our refresher childbirth class. Our first act of freedom was swearing in the car, just because we could. Then we enjoyed driving in companionable silence for a little while without having to enthusiastically point out every motorcycle, truck, and piece of construction equipment we passed in an effort to keep Charlie entertained enough to not freak out about being in the car. Then we went to a favorite place for lunch. When our order took a few extra minutes to arrive, due to the large crowd, I went and got a couple of newspapers for us to enjoy while we waited. I get alone time a lot, but I am usually working. I never get alone time with Ryan during the day. It was very nice, even if it took nearly an hour for the innate urgency I now feel every moment of the day to subside enough for me to relax.

And then I asked Ryan to get some ketchup while he was up and I called it "dip" like Charlie does. And then I started to miss him like crazy.

It got worse at our childbirth refresher class when I was perusing a list of children's books about having a new baby in the house and came across the title that went something like "Is There Still a Lap for Me?" Charlie is going through such a mom-stage right now--when he is hurt or frustrated or upset he now wails "Mooommmmmyyyyy" instead of merely crying. It's nice and knife-turn-y when I am trying to be a nap hard-ass or tantrum resistor. What's it going to be like when they both need me at the same time? How will I handle it when Bravo is nursing and Charlie bangs his mouth on the table and starts bleeding everywhere (as happpened last week just before the hives incident during the playdate that will go down in history as containing the highest potential for a trip to the emergency room possible such that the two mothers still come out as friends on the other side).

When I think about being a family of four, it is in the future, after Bravo has passed through the needy infant stage. What the heck am I going to do during the day with both of them at home so Charlie gets enough attention? I know that Charlie will learn some independence and Bravo won't get nearly the cushy infancy that Charlie enjoyed (multiple hours laying on the couch gazing at eachother, hours-long naps in my arms when he wouldn't settle down in his crib, homemade baby food, an unreasonable avoidance of formula until 10 months when asking to be awakened at 1 am to pump made me realize just how crazy I was acting), and that will be good for both of them.

And how am I ever going to get enough rest with a newborn who is up at night and a toddler who thinks "naptime" is a really awesome time to run around unsupervised in his room, pounding on the window, piling up his stuffed animals so he can use them as a ladder to freedom? As it is now I'm not exactly Mary Poppins once four o'clock rolls around and no one has had a nap and two long unstructured hours stretch out in front of us before Ryan comes home. A woman in my Sunday School class told us that last summer she had a glass of wine at four-thirty evey day because it mellowed her out enough to make it the last hour and a half with her three kids without totally losing it (she signed all of them up for camps this summer). I love our church.

Anyway, enough thinking out loud. I bought a smaller purse on Friday because I lost my keys in my giant mom bag for the millionth time and I just happened to be in the TJ Maxx parking lot with some birthday money burning a hole in my pocket. I figured I'm going to have to carry the diaper bag around again soon anyway, I might as well have a nice little purse to keep my own stuff in (you know, so I don't put Dr. Smith's on instead of lip gloss). Although it is big enough for one size five diaper, a Matchbox car, and a mini monster truck in addition to all my stuff so it's not that small. Charlie, who has been trying to carry my large purse around for a few weeks, was delighted by the change. Now if I ask him if he's ready to go, this is what he does:


That is after he has found my keys and carefully zipped them inside. Today, Ryan took him to the pool and when Ryan was trying to get Charlie to go out to the car, Charlie was running around in the living room grabbing my purse, keys, and cell phone, as is my usual ritual before leaving the house. Ryan had to let him carry the huge pool bag instead just to get him out without a fuss. It was dragging on the ground and Charlie was struggling to walk, but he was so proud to be helping.

(We had to get the spit bibs back out because Charlie was soaking through three or four shirts a day, and that's only if I change them when it is necessary to wring them out into the sink before throwing them in the hamper. Those witchdoctors at day care somehow send him home with the same dry shirt on that I sent him in, but they are also capable of getting him to take a nap, so clearly they have magical powers that I can never hope to possess. The good news is that someday soon he should have more than seven teeth.).

After having to wait for Charlie to get his purse before leaving for the pool, Ryan was quite relieved when Charlie went totally nuts when he saw the bulldozer parked at the construction site across the street after they got back. The three of us went over to check it out and Charlie told us all about it ("TRUCK!! WOW! [unitelligable] OH COOL!! TRUCK!! TRUCK!! [unintelligable] WOW! WOW! OH COOL!!" etc).

Thursday, August 7, 2008

In which I earn the title "World's Biggest Idiot" at Charlie's pediatrician's office

"Hello, my son developed what seems to be an allergic reaction to something he ate for lunch."

"OK, can you describe the reaction?"

"Well, after lunch I noticed five or six hives on his chin and around his mouth. They are red welts about a centimeter in diameter."

(nice use of the metric system, dumbass)

"Are the welts still there?"

"No, they faded within an hour."

"What is he doing now?"

"He's taking a nap."

"Is this a normal naptime?"


"And he was acting normally before the nap?"

(Would you please define normal for a teething toddler who refused to sleep last night?)

"Yes, he was himself."

"Any drooling?"


"No more than normal."

"And what did he eat for lunch?"

(grit teeth, smile, deep breath)

"A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, baby carrots, and strawberries."

(nervous giggle from me)

(nervous giggle from nurse who had probably covered the receiver with her hand and was making "just shoot me" motions to the other nurses in the room)

"Has he had those foods before?"

"Yes, many times."

"When was the last time?"

"Strawberries last week, peanut butter earlier this week."

(Now sounding a little alarmed) "'s going to be hard to figure that one out... hmmmm... gosh... ummmm... let me ask the doctor what he'd like you to do. Things to look for include hoarse voice, hoarse cough, difficulty breathing, and more hives. If any of those things happen, take him to the emergency room."

(Make mental note to Google "Horse Cough", imagining some kind of whinney, then realize that I have the intelligence of a very small child)

"Yeah I've been checking his breathing every fifteen minutes."

(Brightly) "Well, that's a good start!"

(A better start would be not giving him two high-allergy potential foods IN A SINGLE MEAL)

"We'll give you a call back after I talk to the doctor."

"Super, thank you very much."

Pride: discarded along with the placenta.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

An exchange with Dr. Advisor

To: Dr. Advisor
From: Becca
Subject: Progress Update

[several paragraphs about "what I've been working on" leaving out, of course, mopping the kitchen floor, managing the household grocery budget, procrastinating on job applications, doing laundry, cooking dinner, House Appreciation Week, giving Charlie a magical childhood, and complaining bitterly about the heat]


Otherwise, Charlie has stopped falling out of his big bed, the baby seems to be growing well, and I am trying to do WAY too many things at once.



To: Becca
From: Dr. Advisor
Subject: Re: Progress Update

Based on my humble perspective, I think you will find that you will be trying to do WAY to many things the rest of your life. :o)


It's nice that he gets it.

(Yes, he uses emoticons. And the wrong form of "too". I was his editor and I moved.)

Monday, August 4, 2008

The HOA's gonna love this

When we moved in, I thought it would be great if someone would build a house on the vacant lot across the street from our house. The view of the park was nice, but if I needed to borrow an egg or, you know, communicate with another human being capable of stringing multiple words together to form a sentence, I had to walk WAY down to the end of the culdesac. Plus the empty, treeless lot with the discontinuous sidewalk was weird looking. So I was pretty excited a few months ago when a builder came out and installed an electric box on the lot. There hasn't been much activity since then, but then the other day after hearing a lot of strange noises and seeing trucks coming and going I looked out the window and saw this:

Klassy, no? But it got sooooo much better the next day:

I think it's time to potty train!! I mean, now if we're outside playing we don't have to rush all the way through the living room, dining room, and kitchen to make it to the bathroom, we can just use our friendly, culdesac Port-A-Potty! And can I just say what a relief it is to me, as the hugely pregnant person I am, that I will no longer have to drag a screaming toddler and his tricycle inside every time I need to go potty? Instead of "Charlie, come here, Mama needs to go potty." I can say "Hey! Charlie! Do you want to go play in the FORT?!?

Also, OK FINE! A belly pic for Abby, SSU, and Sarah.

31 weeks 6 days

31 wks 6 days

Friday, August 1, 2008

That's Hott

I've reached the stage in pregnancy where because none of my pants will stay on during periods of vigorous activity, like walking from the couch to the refrigerator, some part of my brain tells me that I look gooooood. This is an instinct leftover from skinnier days when showing a little midriff actually might have been a little cute, at least to Ryan and maybe some of the poor guys in the mechanical engineering building who hadn't seen a woman in an entire semester (like Ryan, haha).

Unfortunately, between the stretch marks on my hips, the belly HAIR (It's ok, you can gag), and the stretched out laparoscopy scar below my belly button, that is not the case now. And the only reason my pants won't stay on is because maternity pants are designed for the quick exit when you need to get to the bathroom in a hurry and I refuse to go with an over-the-belly style (hello? It was so hot yesterday I had to baste Charlie like a turkey when we went to the pool to keep him from spontaneously combusting).

My only consolation is that I haven't gained nearly the amount of weight that I had gained by this point with Charlie, so at least when I pull a knocked-up Brittany impression after reaching for something on a high shelf at the grocery store, unless you are standing close by you probably wouldn't be too compelled to immediately go ask your GYN about an IUD grossed out.

With Charlie my OB routinely put down her pen and stared in gape mouthed horror as I lumbered by on my way to the exam room. Once she even asked Ryan if I was "eating like really out of control or anything." He said no, but looking back he might have been a little afraid of me since from all appearances I outweighed him by five times. And one appointment she remarked "Well, for fundal length I'll write down 32 cm even though it should me more like 34.5." At 31 weeks (fundal length in centimeters should roughly correspond to the number of weeks).

And then I had an 8 lb 10 oz baby so there ya go.

Bravo does not seem to be so large so far. And now I have a personal trainer who won't let me snack and insists I carry him up and down the stairs over and over again. And who consumes my entire cookie budget with his constant demands for milk and yogurt and berries.

There is still PLENTY of time to turn into something out of National Geographic, I realize. I won't be getting rid of my supply of giant pants just yet (are you kidding? Those things are COMFY...if a little inappropriate for trips out of the house).

But at least for a few weeks I don't have to deal with the "OH MY GOSH YOU ARE GOING TO POP ARE YOU SURE IT'S NOT TWINS?" comments and the old ladies crossing themselves as I pass on the street.