Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Todays horrorscope

"Pay attention to what you're saying. Is there another way to communicate what you truly mean?"

Are the stars really to blame with my inability to communicate effectively the past few days? I cannot seem to get words out of my mouth to save my life, and when I do, not much sense they make. And eegads, today I am running a meeting to research the upscale process for my shiny, happy project. I was picked to oversee this endeavor, and am very stoked to have been selected. However, if I walk in and start speaking a different language it isn't going to help me much.


So the pie... crust was grainy and mealy. Flakey and tender it was not. The filling, set up nicely but the rhubarb was woody, tough and sour. The merengue, for the first time in my life, stood up and didn't collapse and shrink in from the sides. Wheee! While I moaned about it, Hans reitterated, like the superb husband he is, that it was a fabulous pie.


We are concerned for our good friends and their daughter, Cate. Cate started running a fever on Sunday, but was not fussy or otherwise apparently sick. She played with Leif just fine, until he bit her finger. :-/ They rolled around in the tent some (I can only say this approvingly for a limited time). Then Monday rolls around and her fever peaked at 103 and she was spitting up blood. The diagnosis was bacterial pneumonia. I feel so bad for her and her parents. Poor baby. Anyways, have a good thought for Cate.


Leif has mastered standing up and we are fearful that his first steps will be coming soon. He is quite pleased of himself and after showing off his skills at the BBQ on Sunday, clapped for himself and smiled as everyone else clapped as well. He is such a little ham.

I had a fabulous four days off with Leif. He did manage to get a cold and become a snot factory (dubbed by daddy) and then that triggered his reactive airway disease, so we were nebulizing him again four times a day. He seems to be doing a little better today. At least the snot factory is gone.

I spent a few days on "Mission Organization". I picked up and organized the guest room/office for the most part... just don't look in the walk in closet in that room... The formal dining room is the room where it is all most evident. The place looks completely different. No worrying about what is seen through the big picture window from the street, or what the pizza delivery boy thinks when he brings the pizza. (Not to mention the thought of a friend stopping by). I had put all my garage sale stuff in there and then Hans slowly picked stuff OUT of the garage sale stack... and stacked it in the "non-garage sale stack"... Then there was my mass of sewing supplies, Leif was particularly intrigued by the spools of thread. I bought an organization caddy for the sewing stuff. I emptied the wooden trays I bought years ago to paint and fill with corks, and actually painted them and glued corks in to act as TV trays/hot pads of a sort.

I picked up and organized and threw away stuff from the living room as well. I even vacuumed... gasp! I was worried that Leif would miss out on his "play housekeeping" milestone if I didn't at least run the vacuum once in awhile. And the gobs of black Winny hair was an excuse to do so. Picked up Leif's room for the most part. Sealed up yet another container of "baby" clothes to go to the attic. *sigh*

Then there are the rooms no one is allowed in... the library (where all the stuff from the other rooms landed) and the Master suite, disaster area anyone? The library will be dealt with as soon as I figure out some acceptable means of storage for books, games, files, etc. It is petrifying in there.

I am still open for ideas on this room. I need more shelving options, but given the large, room dominating set of shelves that was my Valentine's day present that Hans built for me... that I really love... it isn't just anything that will "go" in that room. Add in the fact that Hans feels that *everything* in the library should be handmade by him... *sigh*

Monday, May 30, 2005

The bane of my existense

Food has always been a big thing in my family. Like most families, we would gather over meals. My mom was a good cook, an even better baker. I am a great cook, if I may say so myself, but my baking skills... well let's just say the baked goods are best left to my mom. But how one can be expected to survive without baked goods for months at a time in between mom visits is beyond me. So alas, I do bake.

Some things I have stooped to buying mixes (the shame). Betty Crocker's Chocolate Chocolate chip cookies... I have searched and searched for the perfect double chocolate cookie recipe to no avail. White cake with icing and little (fishy) sprinkles is another, Duncan Hines and canned frosting treats us pretty well. And well, there is no denying it, when you think about cracking and separating a dozen eggs for one cake, angel food cake, hands down, is easiest from the box. (Mind you this must be a two part mix, which is usually the Safeway or Favorite brand. The one part mixes suck rocks.)

But there is one thing that I could *never* NOT make from scratch. Pies. The family tradition. You see my mom's specialties are pies and she has completely spoiled us. Pie must have a tender, very flakey pie crust and ingrediants from scratch. No exceptions.

I know, this sounds snobby. So maybe I am a pie snob. A few months ago a friend of mine from work said, "did you know that Albertsons does not sell frozen pie crusts?" Uhh what? They make those? Ok, just kidding, I know they make pie crusts, but that is just... cheating. I politely said, "no I didn't". After all, I have never looked for them, so in theory I didn't know this.

We moved here three years ago and my program manager invited Hans and I to Thanksgiving dinner at his house. I chatted with his wife and asked what I could bring. "Nothing" she assured me, "we are huge pie people, so we will have plenty of pies". These are my kind of people, I thought. And we brought a very nice bottle of wine. Imagine then my horror when she pulled out three boxes out of the freezer after dinner... damn that Sarah Lee!! I was crushed. No "real" pie. And it wasn't either. It was tasteless, with non flakey, chewy crust. Hans and I vowed to never again spend Thanksgiving away from our kitchen.

So all of this said, you would expect that I could bake a decent pie, wouldn't you? Ha ha ha!!

I made a rhubarb custard pie today. First I called my mom for the recipe like I have done 2593 times before. (I truly believe I make it and then rip the card to shreds afterwards so I won't be tempted to undertake such a fiasco again.) Got the recipe and opened up Betty Crocker (COOKBOOK, not a box) for the pie crust recipe.

Deep breath... I can do this... deep breath.

The dough is made... calls for 4-5T of H2O, but at 3T I have a nice ball of dough. I know enough to know that excess water will kill. I stop. I pull out my new handy dandy pie crust mat from Pampered Chef and set to work. I made enough pie crust for a 10" pie, certain that my pie pan is 9" (also PC), I will have a little to work with... I roll it out and for some reason the pie crust measures 12". Oh well.

VERY carefully, I roll it onto the rolling pin (like I watch my mom do with ease), crack, crack, crack...

So I make up my mind that I should NOT start throwing things and proclaiming failure once more. This is not a good exhibit for my 10 month old to observe. I carefully scoop the remnants back up, trying not to warm the dough up with my hands, but trying to get good adhesion.

Deep breath... I CAN do this... deep breath.

I roll it out and this time it barely reaches 9". What happened? Where'd my dough go? OH well. I roll the crust onto the pin ... carefully now... and whew. It is IN the pie pan. Lopsided, but in. I start *trying* to straighten. Rip. Ok, I will straighten the other side, rip... Hmmm... seems as if my pie pan must be a 10" pie pan at least, I barely have enough crust to get up the sides.

Whew, my pie crust, like usual, looks like a patchwork quilt. I am sure if I pop it back into the fridge it will forgive all the handling of dough. Smiles, I made a crust without cursing, or at least loudly.

Onto the filling. Mix 3 egg yolks with 1 c sugar and 2T corn starch, then add 1 c whole milk. Ok whatever, the yolk is in chunks in the bottom of this wacky mixture. Start over and think about it this time... how about the 3 egg yolks in the milk and then add to the sugar. Presto!

(2 tries at pie crust, 2 tries at filling... the merengue awaits)

I get the pie in the oven and after an hour start on the merengue. I was stoked having 6 egg whites to ruin. Merengue and I do NOT get along. My KitchenAid Professional is too large, so I have to resort to a Woolworth hand mixer I bought for just this purpose when I was 18. The thing is showing it's age. But it fluffs my egg whites and I top my pie with a mound, a heaping pile, of merengue and brown it in the oven.

Success!! The pie is made! And Hans knows me well enough now to tell me, no matter what, that this was the best pie he has ever had in his entire life.

Pie is a family tradition in my family, and Hans' family as well. In his family however, his dad made the crusts. My MIL is a smart woman! He has a "foolproof" crust recipe using boiling water he gave me. Ha, foolproof my rear... if you can make an emulsion by hand, you are golden. I, on the other hand, cannot make an emulsion. Hans can however. But his involvement of making pies usually stops once the crust is made, then I still have to roll it out.

I have tried umpteen different recipes: use 7-Up, make an emulsion, use cold butter, use lard, use shortening, use ice water, use milk... so I don't think it is the recipe. I have bought gizmos designed to help me make better pie crusts: use the food processor, use the pastry cutter, use a pie mat (thanks Pampered Chef... hope you are happy with your $15 or so...) . Yet I still struggle.
Pie making is an art. One that is difficult to perfect. But I will ALWAYS make my pies from scratch, no frozen pie crusts with premade filling will cross the threshold of this house. I will keep trying, I will teach my children to make pies.

Ok, ok, my MOM will teach my children to make pies. Then maybe once Leif masters the technique I can retire and get back to perfecting my crab cakes, or helping Hans perfect his lamb vindaloo. Or maybe I will just start making slight suggestions that we should consider perfecting the art of drinking MORE wine while drinking. (And yes, I have tried drinking more wine while making pie crusts too.)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Monkey boy

This morning Leif stretched and stretched. He was on his tippy toes and he finally got his hands on top of the bathroom vanity. The goal was my blow dryer. I sat there watching him do this.

Here's what scares me... hands on the vanity, goal in sight, feet pull up and are searching for the drawer edge to push up higher as he is HANGING by his fingers from the tile. The drawer wasn't even open, yet he seems to know what purpose exactly that bottom drawer serves... a stair.

I am so in trouble. He can't even walk yet, but he is trying to climb.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Love this quote

My mom sends me magazines. Oftentimes she puts cut outs in the magazines. I didn't happen to see this last set. I put the magazine on the coffeetable and then Leif evidently picked up the magazine and carried it across the floor leaving a trail of quotes on pieces of paper along the way. I didn't realize this until he went back to pick them up and I pulled this one out of his hand:

"I believe that after I say goodnight to my children they will stay in their beds and, perhaps after reading a chapter from one of their many classic children's novels, will fall sound asleep, leaving me to have an uninterrupted and stimulating conversation with my husband while enjoying a glass of merlot by candlelight beside a flickering fire. (This, by the way, is very similar to believing in the Easter Bunny.)"
By writer Michele Sbrana

I love it.

Leif is asleep, lightly. Hans just left at 9:30pm to go out to work until 1pm. And here I am looking, scouring the house for that dang flexible reimbursement receipt from daycare... I *know* it is somewhere!! This is why procrastination is evil. I have never been a procrastinator, but exhaustion has forced it upon me. My old self would have had it filed weeks ago just to get it out of my hands. But no, here I am coming upon the deadline and I am apparently going to need to go get another copy of the receipt from daycare and file it in person tomorrow since I apparently have put it somewhere where I won't forget where it is. Ha ha. What am I? 75?


Today started out with a little fellow giggling and poking my eyes and grabbing my nose at 5:41am. No, it wasn't Hans. Leif has been so good about sleeping in until 7-7:30 am the past few weeks, especially if he is in our bed. I know, this isn't ideal. But you know, when Hans is working nights, I am at home by myself and have a busy day the next day, that's just the way it's going to be.

Hans got home about 3:30am from work. Leif was up at 5:41am. I tried to get him to go back to sleep, but he just thought I was the silliest thing ever, a riot, a barrel of monkeys. So I dragged myself out of bed to shower while Hans woke up a mere two hours after going to bed to watch him while I showered. Once out I changed Leif and brought him into the bathroom with me while I got ready. He emptied my cupboard under the sink. (I really should get a picture of him reaching into the tampon box to use as bribery for when he is 14...) Then he cruised into the shower/toilet area and washed his hands (in the toilet), pulled the garbage can over and sat in a big pool of water leading me to believe that he had a leaky diaper (which I soon found out he did not). Doh, the water. He cruised into the closet and hefted my shoes around, it takes a lot of work to heft Hans' shoes around, but he does it, all the while grunting, lol.

I stand there laughing at him while getting ready. He really is a funny little guy. He is very busy, moving from one thing to another with lightning speed.

We headed out early today. My thought was that if I get in early and work some before teleconference then I can earn back some of my flexed time. Slowly, very slowly. Used to be when I needed to flex time I could make it up easy. Not so easy now that Leif has a schedule at daycare and working late just isn't a possibility.

I got in before 8am. Shocker! I went over my "good project managers" changes to my teleconference presentation. He only yanked one thing, so no major changes. I printed up mine and everyone elses so I could follow along. About an hour later I drove to the main site.

I am the first there as usual. It used to be if I wasn't 15 minutes early, I was late. Decrease that to 5 minutes early thanks to completing graduate school and learning that an appearance of disorganization must be fostered to make people really believe you are a mad scientist on the verge of something spectacular. Alas I cannot actually BE late... I am a Capricorn and type A.

The conference room is taken and I wait for the project manager to show up before inserting my head into the room to tell them to hurry. He does it and the meeting organizer comes out to argue about who has the room. She swears she did, her admin set it up (well of course then!!). My project manager swears that he does, why else would we be standing there. Well *they* aren't budging because they have visitors they are hosting. Well missy, we have multimillion dollar industry clients calling in any minute, oh wait, there's the phone, they are calling in NOW, to talk to us. My poor project manager, this sets his mood to start.

We get in and I lead off as usual. I was stoked to only have 15 slides to go through. An hour later we are still discussing those 15 slides. The same guy, cranky client employee (CCE) who always jumps on me made his leap again today. Project managers eyes are rolling. I tried to jump back but project manager was having none of it today. He does his best to nip it in the butt. Ha... he tries AGAIN to nip it in the butt... oh hell, he just gives up and we all sit and chat while CCE yaps for 15 minutes to someone. We aren't sure who.

Hands down, things are stellar on this project. We manage to deliver every.single.week. Ok, I can take credit here... *I* manage to deliver every.single.week. During the telecon Barb, one of my team jumps on me. Ok, she didn't jump like CCE. She more made a leap and fell flat on her face. She showed up today with a copy of everyone else's presentations. OMG she decided to follow along. She usually just stares off into space. She asks me how I know something... ummm... well have you been here for the last 6 months, any idea WHAT we are doing? If you did, you would realize what a dumbass you just made yourself look like to the client by asking such a lame question. Her project is getting cut, I have the inside scoop on that. She obviously doesn't know it yet, but it is just a matter of time. Plus, I need the funds set aside for her project to continue my work... (I am not a vulture, really...)

After the telecon project manager leans over and whispers to me "CCE is going to be here for the July review". WHAT? I exclaim, much to project manager's delight. Everyone turns around to look at me and project manager repeats it to the rest of the class. The room is alive with rumblings. There are suggestions of "let's just lock CCE and April in a room and see who walks out?" (They KNOW it would be me, I have fingernails and I can fight dirty, I am a girl.) Others start saying that we will *never* get through my presentation if he is there. I suggest we have my presentation right before lunch. That evidently would not stop him and would only serve to piss off my coworkers if lunch was late, that's a no go. Then there is talk of slipping him a little something in his coffee... After rumblings around the room the project manager tells me that he really hates to do that to me, but he knows I can handle him and the entire team is there to support me and to buy me drinks after it is over.

Wow. That's all I can think. A team that supports each other, that backs you up, that treats you like a part of something. This is why I love this project. I can handle CCE, but I can really handle him with this team behind me. (Tears!)

Since I am rambling to the fullest degree. Project manager asked me to organize a meeting to assess the transition from bench scale of my process to full scale. I am to head this effort up. Wow. Very cool.

I went and saw Leif shortly after the meeting. I usually go at noon, but they want me there earlier while they are letting him transition naturally to the noontime nap that the rest of the toddlers participate in. "rest of the toddlers" Waaah. Just tear my heart out won't you?

While he nursed and fell asleep I talked to his teacher about the Montessori school. After this discussion and tales of "teachers spend their time cleaning up after the kids here not actually watching them" and "this place encourages anger, frustration and animosity in children" I am really hoping Leif gets into the Montessori school. She talked about the Montessori school provides significant direction to the child, yet lets them learn on their own. Leif NEEDS to get in there.

Now it is late afternoon and I am contemplating my path forward here at work. I am working on my list of things to do. I just can't seem to get off the notion that my vacation should start right now and not on Friday. Oh well. 4 days off sounds like heaven right now.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

My facade

I had my first meeting with my mentor this morning. I really like him. He is just over 40, 2 sons, wife is a SAHM. He is super energetic, very outgoing and high energy. And he has the mullet from hell...

He starts by telling me his expectations out of this mentoring relationship. Why he agreed to mentor me and what he hopes to bring to my table. Everything sounds peachy! He is quite successful and internationally reknowned. He is a scientist 5, and excelling at it.

He said a few things that surprised me. He told me that he usually mentors people much younger than myself. (Most people think of me as young, but okay.) He only has time to mentor people he feels will be a success, he doesn't have the time to dig someone out of a flunkee hole. Well good, so he views me as having the potential to succeed.

Then here are the surprises... he said that I am different than his other mentees not only in age but also my experience and exposure is quite broad. He said that he was surprised I "needed" a mentor as he viewed me as mentoring others. (?!?!?) He is constantly amazed at finding out things that I know how to do, and how my name comes up in a variety of arenas from radiation detection, to surface science, to building ion beams and doing molecular modeling. (Just call me Dr. Scientist of all trades...) He said that most people he has mentored have difficulty meeting and talking to people and I obviously have that part mastered and am not shy about meeting and talking to people. (?!?!?!)

Well I guess it is good I can put on a facade to my coworkers. I think really I am just not a complainer, so people don't know that it is difficult for me to meet and talk to people, that I really am very shy, that I have to work up the guts to get up and talk to people.

They don't know that I work on a variety of projects because I am seeking my own niche and that I spend hours cramming to learn what I need to know to work on projects outside my area of expertise, or that I would do just about anything not to have to work for the PPM. These are good things, but inside I feel about completely the opposite of Dave's impression of me.

I spent a little while going into a little of the nitty gritty. For example, "It is one of my goals to get off of X main project by the end of the fiscal year." I admitted that it isn't just a goal, but I have to, the project manager will not fund me after this year. So I explained to him that one thing I really would like his help on, since he doesn't need to help me in networking or broadening my base of experience, is to help me find a project where I fit in. Not a project I can just work on... I can find those left and right. I need something that I can apply my expertise to and pursue. He liked this.

So there is my facade... a scientist with a broad area of knowledge, outgoing, willing to walk up to any manager or level 6 and speak with them, and funniest of all... happily working away on things that interest me.

Monday, May 23, 2005

People can be really idiotic and my new revelation

Running class:
Today the trainer leaves a message on my voice mail. She can't get ahold of the other woman in my class and it isn't financially feasible for her to come out just for me. Excuse me, I wrote a $60 check to you. You have already cashed it. It isn't financially feasible to you? You have already been paid!! I have had 2 whole classes out of 8. Three of them I couldn't attend due to bronchitis and a conflicting class. The other 3 she cancelled. Go on, take the money and run.

(And in the meantime I am contacting the staff association and filing a complaint.)

Friends who take advantage:
It is rare that when our friends ask for help that we don't lend a hand wherever possible. Most of the time we really enjoy it. And it is an opportunity to get people indebted to us, so when we need help we can call on them. ;-) (Our evil secret!)

But there is a difference between being helpful and being taken advantage of. We have friends who live behind us in the apartments who bought a new house. I used to think I had a lot of crap. After 3 loads of the UHaul (and more stuff still to go) on Saturday, I no longer believe I have a lot of crap. Oh, and I didn't mention the stairs. They live on the 3rd floor of an apartment complex without an elevator. Oh and I didn't mention the "collections". One of my friends is a collector. He has enough to open a large store full of 30 boxes of comic books, Star Wars memorabilia, Simpsons memorabilia, LOTR memorabilia, The Muppets... You name it he collects it, including radioactive glass.

Ok, so it isn't so bad that we are helping, but when he starts bitching at us too? It's over. I took a millimeter sized area of paint off a fill size R2D2 and he scowled and complained. Well umm, why don't you get out of the UHaul and YOU carry some of the stuff down the stairs. That's right. He "organized" the UHaul, while we, his friends, hauled stuff. Nice huh?

They both work at the lab, they bought a $385,000 house when the median house price is $170K in this area. They can afford a moving company.


One of my friends once stated that her weekends were sacred. It hadn't occured to me at the time that they could be. You know what? They can be and should be. From now on *MY* weekends are sacred. There is a reason I pay a housecleaner to clean my house, so I can have my weekends with my family (and friends when I choose). Starting today, my weekends are sacred.

Home Depot

"Hi, I am looking for heating tape, the kind you wrap around pipes?"

"It's in the plumbing section. Aisle K2."

"Well I was just there and looked all over, can you show me?"

Salesguy rolls eyes and trudges off to show me.

Up and back down the aisle and surprise, it isn't there. He calls the plumbling expert over.

"Oh, that's seasonal, it's put away. Do you really need it?"

"Well I wouldn't be here looking for it if I didn't need it." Said while trying hard not to sound TOO sarcastic.

"I really think you don't need it, you must have another problem with your plumbing if you need heating tape..."

I interrupt, "It's not my plumbing, it's for my research."

He looks at me skeptically. "What kind of research?"

"I need it in my lab out at XXXX".

"Oh, so you really need it?"

"Yeah, that's why I am here."

"Well we'll need to block of the aisle and get the crane out." As he makes no effort to move.

I stand there.

"So you really want it then?"

"6 foot length, 1.5 inches wide minimum and must be either rubber contained or wrapped in fiberglass."

"I guess you really need it then?"


Aisle is blocked off, crane is brought out, 15 minutes later he pulls out a box and hands it to me.

"That's not it, I need a 6 foot long heating tape, not wire, so I can wrap it around something. I can't wrap this rod. It needs to be 1.5 inches wide and insulated."

"Oh we don't have those."

"Gee. Thanks."

1 hour and $122 later (my charge out rate for 1 hour).

Friday, May 20, 2005

Finally Friday!

Vanessa and I walked down to the wee tods room today to familiarize ourselves with the situation down there for when Leif and Cate turn 1 year old. Which is VERY far away. But still... good to be thinking about it. ;-) I wasn't overly impressed, yet I was not dismayed either. It would be acceptable. I was expecting chaos and there wasn't chaos. Emylia, the wailing cat child, was in the crib... wailing and sounding like a sick cat, surprise surprise. (Not thrilled about Leif being in the same room with her. I know snobby mommy.) But other than that the kids were happy, none were fussing and they were getting ready to go down for their nap. I can deal I think.

Of course this is on the heals of hearing that Leif *might* get into the Montessori school at age 1. He is "near the top" of the waitlist. I had been so busy telling myself all the reasons why I didn't care if he got in or not, because I was positive he wouldn't. Now that the possibility is there, albeit remote, I am a little excited again. I do REALLY hope that if Leif gets in, that so does Cate. Leif needs support from a strong woman... ok, *I* need support!!

Our weekend should be packed, and not necessarily fun packed. Tonight will be nice, we are going out for Italian with K, V and C. I am anxious to try somewhere new. Tomorrow we were roped into helping friends move. Ok, Hans was roped into helping my coworkers move because as Cari pointed out, the three of us are really just Hans as far as manpower. They would also have to live on the 3rd floor of an apartment building without an elevator. Hans has been talking about needing a workout! Hans is cursing the fact that my brain doesn't think faster when asked "what are you doing on Saturday?" knowing all the time that they just bought a new house. Doh!

Sunday is the baptism of another coworker's baby, Sean Miles. I am anxious to see Sean again. He was a premie (4 weeks premature) and teeny tiny last I saw him. I was horribly terrified to hold him. He is now just over 3 months. I was actually surprised when Hans jumped at the opportunity to go, I had figured Leif and I would just go. Then Hans reminded me that it was Paula (the mom) who referred him for a job where he has made the short list, and that he really wants to talk to her about the position. (The truth comes out.)

Let's see. Next weekend is Memorial day and I am taking next Friday off and reveling in 4 days off with Leif. We don't have plans, which is nice.

Other news...

-Our friends John and Kacey had a baby boy last Saturday. Salvatore Boone was born 9 lbs 4 oz, 21 inches long! I see those stats and I immediatly think "poor Kacey"!! I am anxious to hear about the birth.

-My cousin Mandy was married to Ryan this past Sunday in Jamaica. They are having a reception this weekend and my mom and neice are attending in Casper.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

One more and I will let this topic sleep

So I was talking with a coworker of mine who I tend to commiserate with. She has reassured me that it is NOT just me. She is finishing up her task on this project and will be running as far away as possible.

About 6 weeks ago she and I were tasked with assembling detectors. We worked on this. Unbeknownst to us, the task was taken away and given to an engineer. We showed up to work and everything was gone, moved, missing. When questioning the PPM he said he decided to have someone else do it, he felt it was a job for an engineer instead of two scientists. Gee, thanks for telling us.

Cari told me yesterday that another guy, Matt, was given the task to assemble the detect this week. Four different people have been tasked with this project in 6 weeks. None of us were ever given the chance to pursue it, research it, and complete it. It just keeps getting removed from one person and handed to another. Sounds like a great way to manage projects doesn't it?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Ok, yes they are that bad.

So I *have* to get off this project. In working on this I decided to write up my status on one task. I wrote a 5 page summary of what I was doing, why and my results and dropped it off. I was hoping to drop it off on pissy project manager's (PPM) desk. I hadn't seen his car in the parking lot, so I was hopeful. Aw well, stupid me. I walked into the LAI and not only was his door to his office open, but he was there.

I handed it to him and told him I wrote up my most recent results, here it is. PPM glances over it while mumbling (meaning I can't just turn around and walk off). He finally clears up his mumbling saying that he has a chemist who was looking for hours and so he has asked him to do this work and work on the RGA.

Oh, ok. So this task of mine was handed off to someone else without telling me. He had the opportunity to tell me. I was in his office a week and a half ago telling him my plans for doing these experiments, he could have mentioned it then. But no, he didn't.

I said, "so that's who RRK is, I saw all sorts of files with the title RRK". No response. He then says after a minute or so, "I will set up a meeting with you guys to discuss this later". Sure, go ahead, set up a meeting... whatever. I could really care less.

Ok, ok, who am I kidding? I do care. It hurts. I don't just fail at stuff. That isn't me. I probably should have tried harder, but the incentive has never been there. Why do I feel so crappy about leaving a project I dislike? Does it amount to failure? To a certain degree, yes it does feel like failure to me.

I recently took a social styles class and one of the points was to learn to how to interact with opposite personality types and not to use the cop out of, "It just isn't a good fit". But is it really a cop out? Why should I be the one to have to strive to fit in with this notorious boys club?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Things aren't sooo bad

I bitch and whine, and then I spend some time on my good project in teleconference. I present my material, I am grilled, I back up my opinions, teleconference is over. And what happens? I feel great! I am responsible for my material, my project manager compliments me ("that one slide where you showed this was really good"), I have a great, supportive team I am working with. Life, specifically my career, is good.

(Until I walk over to work in the lab this afternoon in an effort to finish up some tasks on icky project... then the dark cloud will set in again.)

Hans worked his two nights and is recovering today. He was so tired when he walked in this morning at 7am. Went straight to bed. I feel so bad for him. He has a final application to get off today, needs to pick up his suit from the cleaners for his interview tomorrow, and go into work for a little this afternoon if he feels like it.

I am trying to decide if I am bailing completely on my running class and calling the $60 a complete waste. Or if I venture to the class after missing 3 in a row. (Not my fault.) I am thinking I have a meeting that will last late tonight. I should go, but I feel a stronger desire to go pick up Leif, go home and see my husband who has been worn to pieces the last few days with work. He needs a Leif fix and I don't want to delay it.

Upcoming concerns... when Leif turns 1yo on July 29th he will move up to the next age group room at Kindercare. The problem is that the standards of this room evidently drop drastically at this point. How strong can a group of parents be in demanding that they change their pissy standard? How willing am I to take Leif elsewhere?

Leif has a strong personality so far, so I don't worry about him emotionally in the class. OTOH I might worry about him bullying the other kids. How do you balance their need to have fun and socialize with the philosophy of the Montessori school curriculum that seems so nice and peaceful to my eye. In reality, that doesn't really even matter now because Leif didn't get into the Montessori school and probably won't get in until he is 3 years old. But still, can't Kindercare implement SOME educational tools instead of "toddlers gone wild"?

I am counting down the days until next Friday, I am taking it off and giving myself a 4 day weekend. Wahoo! I need it badly.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Whiney, bitchy post. Waa waa waa, don't read if you don't want to hear me whine!

Ever have one of those days where you feel like people stop talking when you walk by? When you feel like you are back in 5th grade and watching the playground politics going on around you? When you just feel like you just plain don't belong? I am having one of those weeks. Yesterday it started, today it is continuing. I am feeling lonely, left out and like I don't belong. That's what this project that I can't stand does to me. I feel like shutting my office door and letting the tears flow. It's probably just me.

One of the students who I brought onto this project after hearing her bemoen the fact that she had nothing to do, walks past my office making sure not to make eye contact on her way to the restroom. She used to stop by and chat regularly (ok, too often). Now she keeps walking. When she is actually in this building and isn't hanging out flirting with "the guys".

I was in the lab unpacking some chemicals and the project manager was in there. I guess I was making too much noise or something putting stuff away. He told me to just put the stuff down and leave, he would take care of it. Ok, fine.

I feel completely unmotivated on this project and it most likely shows to my coworkers and the project manager. I would be stupid to think it didn't. But how exactly am I supposed to feel motivated and that what I do on that project is important when the project manager doesn't feel this way? He consistently gives me lame administrative tasks and no acknowledgements. Are my feelings really my fault?

My mind is made up. I am getting myself off this project sooner rather than later. I will wrap up the tasks I have outstanding over the next few months (or weeks), but I don't plan on working for him anymore. I am not coming to the meetings from now on. I will work for Justin on his projects and I will wrap up my little $25K task and get the data I need. And well, if I have to take vacation days because I don't have enough time to fill my timecard, or if I have to go work on projects that are out of my area of expertise and function as a technician, I will. It just isn't worth it to feel this way.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Most of the way through Monday

Just a half hour left at work. I had a little free time this morning before I started off meetings. I had one from 11-noon. Saw Leif from 12:15 to 12:50. Then I went to the DOE meeting for proposal submitters in my field from 1-2pm and got to hear the political side of proposal thing. At 2:30pm I had a patent meeting with my project manager, former team lead (now my underling on this task - he gave me this task when he was team lead and too busy to properly do the job) and the patent lawyer. That was exhausting.

I don't know if the patent lawyer was just stupid, or if he was just extremely, excruciatingly thorough. Probably a little bit of both, we went over and over the same stuff. The painful part came at the last discussion, the inventorship. Who does it go to? My project manager handed it to me, where my former team lead promptly took it and threw it out to a guy who has not participated on the project in almost 2 years. Project manager fetched it and brought it back to me saying "the other guy" has done nothing and never even filed the invention report. (I filed the invention report.) Former team lead wholeheartedly agreed, yet pointed out that we wouldn't have started down that path had it not been for this other guy. (This is the nasty part of science, taking credit.)

As much as I *hate* to admit it, he is right. I didn't come up with the idea to investigate these reactants. HOWEVER! I hope someone has noted the ones *I* have suggested and future paths *I* have proposed!!

My project manager let it be by saying that he views it as a three party inventorship - "the other guy" came up with the idea, former team lead and I (mostly me) evolved the idea, proved it and got us to this point. He said he will think on it. I know what he's going to do... he is going to go talk to "the other guy" and get his input. And I only know him somewhat well enough to think that he is going to be embarrassed to even have his name on it since he hasn't done anything with it. When I took him the invention report he stated as much then.

I like and respect my former team lead. But I wish he would support me sometimes. I feel as though my position on this project is constantly being held up as his accomplishment (look how good I was to hand this off to April) and I wonder if he will ever give me the opportunity to stand on my own two feet on this project without a footnote being attached to it. (I was selected because he needed someone, I was not sought out for my abilities. I do think this has changed...)

I got back to my office and my beautiful badge holder broke, spewing beads all over the hall. :( I thought for a minute that this was an event out of the ordinary and wondered if it warrented a call to the single point of contact. Or maybe I could just wander down to the janitor closet down the hall and find a broom and sweep the beads out of the hallway where someone might trip on them and I really do have to call the single point of contact.

Tonight is Hans' first night working nights again. It is going to be a tough night for both of us. I will go get Leif here in a few minutes. Then we will go home and fix tuna fish casserole. My comfort food from childhood that Hans cannot stand. I was excited to see that I had all the ingredients. Winny will need a walk, Leif will need a bath, I need to get tomorrow's gear ready, I will need a half bottle of wine after Leif is down... kidding... mostly.

Friday, May 13, 2005


After a few weeks of work, I returned an old, near burned up RGA (mass spectrometer) from the brink. It works. Just don't breathe on it and do hold your breath while operating. Feeling quite proud of myself after having dismantled the thing, worked on the rods a little, reassembled, and then retuned the parameters, the filament actually lit up orange and I got a reasonable spectrum. I headed back to my office with a smile on my face. My work for today should be done!

I caught the project manager on my way back and tell him, "so I got that RGA working". His response? A very surprised, "REALLY?! I thought that thing was dead and beyond repair!" Why then did the jackass give it to me to use for my project with no mention of this? The words "setting one up for failure" are moving to the forefront of my mind.


So I obviously worked in the lab a little this afternoon. Not for long you know... I didn't want to get my hands too dirty. I helped Cari out with communications to her system and also ran into Justin who told me he was quite pleased with the data analysis I did for him. Stoked! (I really should go home before my luck turns.)


Given that I have actually been hugely productive today on the work front, I have of course taken my fair share of time to goof off.

I found this site particularly entertaining today.

My birthday (Jan 8th):

Your Birthdate: January 8

Born on the 8th day of the month, you have a special gift for business, as you can conceive and plan on a grand scale.

You have good executive skills and you're a good judge of values.

You should try to own your own business, because you have such a strong desire to be in control.

You are generally reliable when it comes to handling money; you can be trusted in this regard.

Idealistic by nature, you are never too busy to spend some time on worthwhile causes, especially if managerial support are needed.

There is much potential for material success associated with this number.

I like it, especially the last line, however, I am truly skeptical abou the owning my own business thing. I could never keep people employed for me, they would quit and say mean things about me and my type A tendencies, and then I would feel bad.

Here is the one that scares me... Leif's birthday:

Your Birthdate: July 29

Your birthday on the 29th adds a tone of idealism to your nature.

You are imaginative and creative, but rather uncomfortable in the business world.

You are very aware and sensitive, with outstanding intuitive skills and analytical abilities.

The 29 reduces to 11, one of the master numbers which often produces much nervous tension.

This is the birthday of the dreamer rather than the doer.

You do, however, work very well with people.

Ah well... he does work very well with people...

My other play thing today... Draw a pig.

Here's mine.


Weekend plans. The vegetable garden WILL be finished. I WILL also make a decision on glasses or contacts and buy them. A Costco trip is on the schedule, which is always loads of fun. Yes, I am serious, I love that place. Cake and wine with friends on Saturday night, which sounds spectacular right now. Winny goes for a trim at Petsmart on Sunday morning, which means Hans is looking forward to a trip to Sportsmans Warehouse.

Everyone have a super weekend!

Just one of many

I have a meeting on Monday for an hour. The head of the branch of DOE where I submitted a long ass proposal is coming to the lab to give a presentation about the proposal process. Preliminarily I was stoked about this and hoped for maybe an opportunity to at least shake his hand and introduce myself. I had thought that my white paper being selected for a lifecycle plan gave me a pretty good shot of funding.

I am less convinced today. There were 375 lifecycle plans from around the US submitted. Selection of finalists will not be completed until the end of July. So in the meantime I am hoping that my one page "quad sheet" is sufficient to grab the attention of the congressional staffers who will sit on the committee. Ugh. Why is it so hard to get a grant funded? (Why is it so hard to convince the government to give me $1.8 million of tax payer funds to do research with over 4 years? When put that way, I get it.)

I normally don't have a defeatist attitude. Work in this field for 3 years on other people's stupid ass projects that go nowhere and do nothing other than re-engineer previous generation instruments for millions of dollars received for talking fast, being vague and projecting an air of self importance, and that defeatist attitude becomes commonplace.

I am starting to think private industry is the place for me. (My other meeting on Monday is with the labs patent lawyers on two patents my shiny happy project is submitting in conjunction with our industry partner - I am even the lead on one. Yay!)

To Secrete

"Secrete" is the Yahoo word of the day. I am a scientist, so that probably automatically implies that I am not a master of the English language (you could just read my blog to figure that out as well). Yes, I struggled through those infamous list of words to pass my GRE (and I actually did halfway decently on the verbal section back in 1995). But seriously now, do that many people REALLY not know what "secrete" means?

Maybe now that I am a mother "secrete" has just become so commonplace in my life that I don't realize that a normal person does not deal with "secretions" on a daily basis and therefore it is not part of their vocabulary?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

My extemporaneous presentation

I took a 2-day presentation skills class this week. My class was unprepared, evidently our list of instructions was lost in the mail (or never sent out, which I am betting on the later given the level of organization of the presenters). Therefore none of my class knew that we were to prepare a 10 minute presentation to the group on something we were knowledgeable in. They weren't going to alter the schedule and so we were asked to "wing it".

Many times I don't actually feel knowledgeable in most anything. In my group, 10 out of the 12 people presented their research, off the tops of their heads, with no poster or charts to refer to. I knew I would *die* doing this. So I presented about my mother in law and a vacation we took together. Evidently I should leave my career in science for a career as a comedian.

Given that this was a ten minute talk, I only made it through a small portion of the actual vacation. Here is my talk.


I took a social styles class about 6 months ago. One thing I learned in my social styles class was that I was not only an "analytical", but I was the extreme, an "analytical analytical". One of those ultra-organized, list making, never taking a risk, task oriented, non-people person individuals. I have known this since I hit kindergarten and realized that not everyone was like me and my mom. Part of the point of social styles was to also learn how to identify the styles of others so that we could better relate to them. I can't for the life of me peg my husband, one day he is analytical "just like me" (smile). Other days it is "man you are a driver" or "could you be anymore amiable?". Other days it is "You are expressive, JUST like your mother".

Yes, my mother in law is the only person I have been able to peg so far. She is the epitomy of "expressive expressive". Which also means that she is the exact, far reaching opposite of myself. When I plan a dinner party I invite one or two couples and have a menu planned out, if you have Outlook you will probably receive your invitation via Outlook. I love entertaining, I am just very methodical about it. My MIL on the other hand invites everyone she happens upon and it isn't a party unless the house is filled and there is enough food to feed 3 houses full of people. And her parties ARE fabulous.

Another difference is that I plan a camping trip. My mother in law, who also likes to camp, plans a camping trip with grizzly bears. You see this might not be all social styles. My husband is an Alaskan through and through. He is one of those people that identifies himself first as an Alaskan and then as an American. My MIL is also an Alaskan. In order to be an Alaskan (or an honorary Alaskan in my case) you evidently must go camp with grizzly bears. My mother, however, was concerned of ulterior motives when she heard that we were all going camping in the Alaska bush with grizzly bears.

So my MIL books the trip and soon after starts telling us what to bring, what not to bring, things to be aware of, etc. I started getting a little worried when she told me that even though we are camping for 5 days that I cannot bring toothpaste, shampoo, deoderant, anything. My initial thought was 'well no one will notice if I sneak a little along', then my brain got the better of me as images of a bear tearing through my pack for a 5mL container of toothpaste came to mind. (I would have been so busted and lost my honorary Alaskan status.) She told us tales of cooking behind electric fences and also reminded us that we would be flying in on a float plane and that weight is an issue, so pack light. (I went out and spent a fortune on light, packable camping gear and got everything in my backpack. I was so proud of myself.) The last thing that concerned me a wee bit was that from the time you step off the plane you are in bear country and can see a bear, therefore you must abide by all the rules immediatly like no food outside the electrical fence.

So here we are in Anchorage getting ready to head out on our adventure. I have my bag, Hans has his bag, we have another bag with our gear. My MIL had not one, not two, but 8 pieces of luggage. I should probably take responsibility for one of the coolers out of 4, but nope, I won't. Eight pieces of luggage to get on float planes for 5 days of camping in the bush. Yes, the kitchen sink was in there somewhere.

We are at the airport, right before boarding our plane to King Salmon when my MIL takes off. She returns with her wonderful smile with a BOX of Cinnabons! Who wants one? She asks? None of us did. I still remember the look on my FIL's face, lol. You would have had to have been there. So she carries the Cinnabons onto the plane.

In King Salmon (bug city) we board a small float plane to Katmai National Park, Brooks Camp. The float plane experience was fabulous. You could see everything. At first I was terrified, but there is something about a float plane that is surprisingly reassuring.

We arrived at Brooks Camp and they sent the plane back to get our luggage, all 13 pieces of it for the 6 of us. My MIL "arranges" (read bribes) for the rangers to bring our luggage to the campground. We are told to walk about a mile or so to the Orientation center, no stopping at bathrooms along the way, nothing, straight to the orientation so we can learn about bear country. I had my eyes peeled, looking for grizzly bears and thinking about everything I am supposed to do...

yell and wave my arms if I see a bear...
make myself look big...
don't run...
and by all means don't ever have food outside of the electrical fence...

and by all means don't ever have food outside of the electrical fence...

Food... I am getting hungry, that was a long flight without food, man there are a lot of bugs here, I can't wait to get my bug spray. Oh yeah, I am hungry. Well thank goodness we have the Cinnabons!!


I look back and there is my MIL, bringing up the rear quickly, carrying the coveted box of Cinnabons through a grizzly bear infested forest. You have smelled those things right? In the mall? You can smell them a mile away. You walk into a mall and yes, there is a Cinnabon stand here. You can smell nothing else. And here is my MIL carrying a box of these things through the forest.

Well you can't just ditch them! So she said, "let's hurry!" We hurried through to camp (already known as the people with a ton of luggage), now add to it, "those yahoos with the ton of luggage and the Cinnabons".

We got to the orientation center where the ranger eyed us suspiciously and said, "you know that
you aren't supposed to be carrying food?" Yes, we knew my MIL piped up and she went through how she bought them, no one wanted them on the flight, so then we got here and she didn't know what to do with them... and here we are. The ranger says fine, but they can't leave the station. (Ulterior motives anyone?)

And here is my classic MIL. She turns to my husband, "Honey, there is a dining hall down the road a little, you can't have Cinnabons without coffee, would you go buy a few coffees?"

I thought the ranger was going to flip her lid as Hans got up and went to find coffee down the road.

It was a really fabulous trip, we saw some amazing sites, the grizzly bears, the land of 10,000 smokes, the grizzly bears, the salmon... I could talk for hours about the experience, which was definitely one of the best of my life. But I won't now. I will wrap up by saying that it would be awfully boring in life if we were all of the same social style. Every social style is valuable. Sometimes it is a challenge to get along with other styles, and other times, as in the case of my MIL, it isn't a challenge at all. You just go with the flow and look at it all as entertainment.

Ok, hope no one is mad at me!! I love you Charlene!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Leif's 9 month "well" baby

20 lbs 12 oz (50th percentile)
28" long (50th percentile)
Head is 75th percentile (taking after grandpa Perry...)

I put well baby in quotes because it was actually a "sick" baby appointment. No wonder he wouldn't smile on Sunday for photos, he felt awful! Poor baby had another ear infection. Combine that with the wheezing and the "well" baby appointment was pre-empted. We will go back in 2 weeks for his 2 immunizations.

As of tonight Leif has real interest in moving in an upright position. It took him awhile to crawl, we were convinced that he only wanted to walk there for awhile and would never crawl. Then Leif realized the effectiveness of crawling and gave up even wanting to stand at all. I started to wonder if he would ever show a desire to walk or even stand.

The desire has returned full blown. Leif doesn't "pull up", he stands up. He has to have something to balance himself, well not really, or he doesn't think he needs that, we prefer to encourage it though. Otherwise he is constantly falling onto his butt and scaring mommy that he will whack his head on something on the way down. Not only is he standing and trying to cruise along the furniture he has been observed to stand for four whole seconds without support!

I am frightened. I fear it is just a matter of time before I am yelling at him to quit running in the house. :(

We seem to have overcome the sleep "issues". But I fear also that I most likely cannot take credit for most of them. He doesn't care for the pacifier at night, he knows the difference between that and the real thing. He is now going down in his crib still awake and falls quickly asleep. If we don't get him to the crib right away, he will find something soft (like the laundry pile) to lay his head on and fall asleep on. When he wakes up at night he does on occasion need to eat and acts like a ravenous beast until he is satiated and back sound asleep. Otherwise if he wakes up he can usually be soothed back asleep with a good back rubbing. (I think *I* need to wake up more often and be soothed back asleep with a good back rubbing!)

Things are going great! We really are blessed to have such a wonderful little boy.

Next on the agenda to talk about is my two day "presentation skills" class I took this week. Don't worry, it will be a treat! ;)

Monday, May 09, 2005

Mother's Day - Sunday

In talking with other people around, on discussion boards and in person, I really do have to rave about how truly lucky I am. I have a husband who not only remembered Mother's Day, but made a big deal about it. I love holidays, give me a reason to cook or eat a nice dinner, open up a decent bottle of wine and hang out with my family or friends and family and I am all over it. I try to resonate this through my immediate family. I want Leif to love growing up celebrating and looking forward to the next holiday. I want him to remember his girlfriend's birthday (when he is 32 and finally allowed to date). I want him to remember how much mommy loved it when she opened up a pink frilly hat suitable for a woman twice my age, when all that really counted was the thought.

I love sending cards and recognizing people's birthdays. I do flub up and miss some on occasion. I don't do this to pressure others (as I have been accused of), but because I want the person to know that I was thinking of them on their day. It is important to me to acknowledge holidays, birthdays, whatever day is important to someone who is close to me. Hans has picked up on this and is wonderful that way.

Even if Hans didn't remember on his own, I don't let him forget holidays that are important to me. I could sit and wonder for weeks if he was going to remember Mother's Day (making sure I didn't mention it myself) and then if he didn't remember, I could steam about it and complain, or play the martyr that it doesn't hurt to be forgotten about (when it really does). But why? I would rather give him the opportunity to really make me happy (which makes us both happy), instead of make him feel like crud for not remembering. So I do talk about Mother's Day ahead of time and NOT let him forget... not that he would, of course!

So I had a fabulous Mother's Day. Hans cooked breakfast, made an appointment at JCPenneys, which unfortunatly for him was a bust (not his fault). He bought me a necklace with a ruby pendant to match my ruby earrings he gave me for Christmas (Leif's birthstone). We hung out and had a great time on Sunday. Hans cooked flank steak burritos with all the fixings, yummy, my favorite. Then we played with Leif a lot. It was a super Mother's Day!

I hope it was a great day also for my mom, my MIL and our grandmothers. This year it was hard to remember that Mother's Day wasn't ONLY about me! I was a little late in getting cards and stuff out. I found a Boston Terrier planter for my grandmother. You would have to understand... my grandmother loves everything "Boston terrier". So when I see something like this, I *have* to buy it. No matter how hideous I think it might be, I KNOW that she will love it. Or at least I hope that she isn't sitting there thinking "when will everyone get off the Boston terrier kick??" My mom commented after going and helping her clean her kitchen a few weeks ago that "watch we are going to find out that the collection of Boston terriers is ultra-valuable and we are all going to be eating our words". He he... probably so.

Anyways, hope everyone had a super Mother's Day!

Mother's day weekend (Friday and Saturday)

So now that I have vented about the bad aspect of my Mother's Day weekend (JCPenney's), I can go on about the wonderful aspects of my weekend.

Friday I left early, this wasn't really my choice. Leif was wheezing at daycare, genius me forgot the nebulizer at home, so he was sent home. We headed home to the housecleaner just getting started. I hate being there while she is cleaning, but also glad at the opportunity to do a quick check in and actually see her working and not going through my stuff. Leif and I sit down and nebulize. Finish up, give him some Dimetapp and we headed to the grocery store.

I had a ton of stuff to buy, we haven't been in forever. And as evident by the huge amount of $$ I spent, I should have made it a trip to Winco instead of Albertsons. Oh well, $300 later and we are done and head home. I should pause here to say how much I really love my Kangaroo Pouch. Leif enjoyed riding in it on my hip. Then he got tired and fussy, I swung him around to the front and he konked out and slept on my chest for half of the trip, sound asleep.

Ok, one tangent here... so I *have* to get Hans' ice cream (Ben and Jerry's Magic Brownie, good, but not near as good as my B&J's Dublin Mudslide - to die for). Some old codger has his cart parked smack in front of the ice cream door and he stands there forever browsing. I do this too, you have to see what is new. However, when you see someone standing there waiting the polite thing to do is ask say something like "would you like to get in here?" Especially if that woman happens to be carrying a 21 lb sleeping child on her chest. But no. He opens the door and browses, fogging up the door and I can't even see if they had Magic Brownie. (Because if I could have seen where it was I would have just asked him to hand it to me.) But no, he pulls out a brand and reads the.entire.label. Puts it back, grabs another. Does this a total of three times - I am still standing there, looking at him. Ok, at this point, I am glaring at him. He sees me and is bound and determined he is going to make me wait for the damned ice cream. He succeeded, he made me wait and wait. He finally gets what he wants and walks ever so slowly away from the freezer cabinet. I walk up, grab the Magic Brownie and yay for me, toss it in my cart and NOT sling it at the old codger. Took me 30 seconds max.

Ok, got home to a CLEAN house! Had a great evening with Hans and Leif and watched Bridget Jone Diary, The Edge of Reason, it was ok. (And I am not a big Bridget Jones or Renee Zellweger fan, so this is saying a lot.)

Saturday we hung out some, went to the mall where we ran into Kent and Vanessa just minutes after commenting that it seemed a little odd not to see them on the weekend since we so often do. Leif got new sleepers. Mommy had fried oysters and daddy had fish and chips at Ivars. Yum. Leif got a French Fry, which he loved sucking on. So I endured glaring looks from a mom of an 8 month old next to me over what I assume was the French Fry in Leif's hand. I returned the glare over the bottle of apple juice she dumped into the baby's bottle. We are even now.

Then we went to Lowes and I bought a variety of ornamental grasses and vegetable plants for the garden. I love the different varieties, heirloom and not. The woman checking us out said, "did you see the Early Girls out there?" Yes, I did. "You didn't get any!" she proclaims. "Nope, I am not doing Early Girls this year," I tell her. She pleads, "but you HAVE to do Early Girls." I reply polite, "they are fine, but not my favorite." How can early girls NOT be my favorites she asks. They just aren't OK?

Saturday we sear tuna for dinner and watch After the Sunset, pretty good.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

JCPenneys Portrait Studio - todays topper of April's shit list

Today is Mother's Day, my very first real Mother's Day. Hans got up with Leif and I slept until 8:34am, gasp! I was then sent hurtling out of bed knowing that Hans was fixing swedies (they tasted soo good last week, I needed them again this Sunday) and he had spilled (thankfully) that we had an appointment at 11am at the JCPenneys Portrait Studio for a family picture. Yay! My husband listens and picks up on my subtle cues - like sending him the e-mail ad with the phone number for reservations. I was happy he told me the day before so I could pick out precisely what we should wear so that it wasn't like our only other "family wall picture" where we are all in a variety of everyday clothes because we didn't plan on having a family picture taken.

I had it all planned out, however, I neglected to plan for "what if Leif doesn't take a nap and has no interest in having his picture taken". He wasn't cranky, he just would.not.smile. And if you know Leif, you know that this is highly unusual. Leif smiles when he is sick and feels like crap. Leif smiles for anyone. (They tried two photographers.)

Ok, this is not JCPenneys fault at all. They tried 4 poses, couldn't get it. We had one somewhat acceptable picture until we noticed Hans had his tongue stuck out... we were too busy looking at Leif. Ok, so no acceptable pictures. The nice girl said, "we aren't busy at all today, take him and come back at your convenience, we will be here till 5pm".

I knew this was the best course, yet I was still bummed. I had plans - (silly me, plans when I have a 9 month old...). I wanted to dress up, actually have make-up on my face (gasp, number 2), come home, get into my grungy clothes and go plant my vegetable garden that I bought plants and seeds for. It is already going in late.

So back at JCPenneys I ask her to show me the appointment book so I have some idea when their slow time will be. I am shown basically anytime after 1pm is wide open! (I am starting to understand why.) So out we head on our merry way, back home.

We put Leif down for a nap and I hang out reading, Hans watches TV because we don't want to change clothes or get dirty before we head BACK for attempt #2 at pictures. Leif gets up and we head out at about 1:45pm. He still isn't his giggley self, but we can get him to smile. We walk up to the portrait studio desk, a little sign there, "back at 3pm".

WHAT! I was panicked (yes, I do have a tendency to overreact). I headed back to the office where the two photographers are sitting on their fat asses with their feet propped up chowing on a plate of nachos.

"Hi, I am sorry to bug you, remember me?" Of course they do... "Ok well you guys told us to come back anytime this afternoon, and well my son is up and smiling, can you go ahead and do our sitting?" They look at me like I am stupid... I mean can't I see they are enjoying some gourmet cuisine?? "Umm no", the girl says, "come back at 3pm". Come back in over an hour?? You're kidding! Nope, they weren't kidding. Come back in an hour. They obviously have no children. Another parent would have said, "oh your child is smiling, let's get some pictures!" Instead we were supposed to either get in the car and go home and come back, or haul him around the mall for an hour. Yeah, that would have made him REALLY happy.

I was pissed. It is Mother's Day, my first, and they couldn't get off their fat asses to snap a few pictures after they told us that they could do it anytime in the afternoon. So we left, me - forcing back the tears. Ok yes, I was PMS'ing too. But damnit, I wanted my Mother's Day Family Portrait.

Poor Hans. He tried, he really did. We went home and snapped a few pictures with the digital in the front yard that probably turned out better than they would have taken at Penneys.

Next on the agenda, get together with Kent and Vanessa for family pictures since Winny's paws are just too big to properly work the camera.

Friday, May 06, 2005

If you smile, *they* will come...

Dear Leif,

Mommy and Daddy have for some time, worked on perfecting the technique we call the "while we appreciate your musical abilities and culture, please don't come over and sing at our table smile" for when we are dining at Mexican restaurants with strolling mariachi bands. While we love your gorgeous smile and like that other people do to, we need to work on the above technique with you.

Additionally, adding in a little "boogeying" by nodding your head, waving your arms on top of smiling, laughing and shrieking at the mariachi man only entices him to stay and play for not one song, but four, while giving him hopes for either a return encore or a tip.

Please stop.

Love, Mommy

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Balance found... sort of.

So I e-mailed Laura and told her that I needed to go down and see Leif and couldn't go to lunch.

Partly true. I did need to go see him (because I had to bring him his pumped milk for the afternoon since I forgot his bottles at home). But moreso the thought of spending $10+ on lunch (when my husband could get so frustrated and quit his job anyday now) didn't seem prudent. (But I suppose spending $60 on a new set of sheets from Overstock.com earlier today did...) Not to mention that the wait would be too long for me at a Mexican restaurant on Cinco de Mayo. (And I am just *so* eager to get back here and work!)

Ok, I admit it. I just didn't want to go. I have a dozen excuses, but all come back to I just didn't want to go and would rather hang out with Leif at lunch.

So in honor of Cinco de Mayo one of the groups here decided to have a nacho feed. It is on the drive back to my office from daycare. I thought I would stop in and pick up some nachos and a pop with proceeds going to March of Dimes.

Lesson learned: Not all scientists can cook... least of all computer scientists. There is a reason they don't work in labs, and instead prefer to sit at their desks all day long. My pile of stale chips, with canned chili (?!?!?!), cold nacho cheese and black olives (the best part) was seriously one of the nastiest things I have eaten in months. (I am obviously so prepared for a stint on Fear Factor.)

My "horrorscope"

"Family, friends and career all demand your attention. Seek that rare thing: balance."

Really? You think? Wow, the power with which the stars predict the future is truly amazing.

Leif went home from daycare yesterday. He was a major pill. He woke up that way, was that way all morning and it didn't stop at daycare. I had my teleconference (which went swimmingly) got back to my office, wrapped up a few things - except for my client presentation I had plans to work on at home. Then I went and got Leif and went home for the afternoon. I got Leif down for a nap and was convinced he would have one of his 2-3 hour sleeps... silly me. I needed about 1.5 hours to finish up a presentation for my client's boss to present to some of their clients. No problem right? Ha!

Leif slept for an hour. Then he was up and fussy as ever. I alternated him in the jumper, crawling on the floor and I even allowed him to play in the dog's water bowl for a few minutes because he was entertained... and I could type. I finished off the presentation and rushed it off to my project manager here to run over before sending it to the client. Whew... at 2:30, I could finally focus my attention on fussy boy.

We watched Baby Einstein, talked to grandma, nursed, watched Baby Einstein. Nothing made him happy. Then at 3:30pm, the switch went off. Fussy boy returned to happy boy in a matter of mere minutes.

This was especially exciting because now he wanted to play by himself on the floor and I turned on Dr. Phil. Omarosa from the Apprentice was on. She is really a work of art... enough said.

Hans got home with awful news. The job he had been offered, had a start date for, and was waiting for the monetary compensation information before giving notice? Evaporated. Poof. Gone. He was livid. All of a sudden I guess the guy didn't have the money.

I just don't get the job situation here. It makes no sense. I could ramble on and on about the state of things. But that won't do any good. It is a Ph.D. market here, if you don't have a Ph.D., then it is best to only have a high school diploma and be starting out. Anything more than a diploma and less than a Ph.D. and you are screwed.

I suggested last night that we take a break and go into Seattle or Portland for a weekend. Hans suggested we move there.

I adore my friends for the most part. I don't have a lot of really close friends here at work, but enough. One of my friends who is relatively new to the lab has e-mailed and asked me to have lunch with her today for Cinco De Mayo, she wants to go have Mexican. My first thought is "no, I want to go hang out with Leif at lunch". But then I feel bad. She doesn't ask me to lunch often, she is single, moved here by herself and really strives to get out and do things. But so many people in my group are of "families" and Laura kind of gets lost in all that. So I am having lunch with Laura today. How awful of me - I am having lunch with her not because I want to go out to lunch, or that I even want company for lunch. I am having lunch with her because I feel guilty and selfish in saying no.

Today is my "spring cleaning day". I even dressed the part. Jeans, t-shirt and sandals. 4 hours this afternoon to clean and organize my office and "lab". In my case the only part of a lab I am willing to clean is my hood that I have my supercritical fluids setup in for my shiny happy project. The other project, screw them. I am not using a minute of my time to clean that fricking pit of a lab. Organization makes me happy, this will be good.

Of course it is Thursday, my despised project coworkers are in San Antonio, hopefully having a repeat of last time where everytime they left their hotel they were promptly crapped upon by large flocks of birds. (It still makes me giggle... karma is going to bite me in the ass.) So I had every intention of getting into the lab while they were gone and working. Umm yeah. I will Friday??

So back to my horrorscope:
Family, friends and career all demand your attention. Seek that rare thing: balance."

I am seeking today (everyday)... but will I find it?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

We have a new winner!

Lasagna! (Thanks for the tip Vanessa!) Leif LOVED lasagna last night. We buy the premade lasagnas from Costco for those nights we don't feel like cooking. They are actually quite good, for frozen ready to heat meals. Leif thought he hit the motherload. He was shoveling it in, eating out of the spoon from me and feeding himself. He even declined (in his ever so polite way) applesauce in favor of lasagna. I was somewhat worried about the meat and cheese and cut him off earlier than he would have liked. It is evidently, good eats.


I checked my work benefits and was thrilled to see that my vacation accrual is now 2.31 hours a week, quick multiplication and sure enough, 3 weeks a year! I thought for sure I was going to have to call the benefits office and go through the whole "I was hired on April 29th, 2002, not July 31st, 2002" routine I have had to do a few times over at this point. I know, it is a few months, but it matters to me.


So I am taking a running class here at the lab. For $60 I was supposed to get 4 weeks (total of 8 personal training sessions) with a trainer. The goal is to take someone who doesn't run and have them running for 30 minutes by the end of the session. Also with some strength training and nutrition and wellness sprinkled in there and at the end of the session a 60 minute sports massage if you attended all the sessions.

I knew when I signed up, I was dummying down a little. But being that I have not run regularly for about a year now, I thought I could use the "ease in" and was hoping that the "motivation factor" would kick in. I wasn't thrilled about the strength training, wellness info, nutrition info and such - I am familiar with all that and to be honest, part of the reason I work out is so I can eat all those yummy things that aren't so good for me. So someone will have to die trying to take away my butter, whipping cream and wine.

I don't even know where to start. The trainer sucks. Last week she had us running for 30 seconds after walking for 5 minutes - or about there. She was extremely inconsistent. Well and what the hell does 30 seconds of running do for you? Not only that, but the trainer's idea of running slowly was vastly different then mine. I am a slow runner, I admit it and embrace it. But she was leaving me in the dust. And the two other participants are MUCH less versed in running (really nice women, but overweight and uncoordinated - and no, I am not at my ideal weight either) and were trying to keep up with her! Ridiculous! When she had us test our heart rates she was surprised when the two other girls were in the 160's and said, "oh next time you need to not work so hard".

So here we are this week. We go out and you would think we might increase the running from 30 seconds... nope. We walked the entire time. I would have gotten more out of going home with Leif and walking with Hans and Winny. To top it off, the trainer was talking about having run the Bloomsday race in Spokane and how much fun it was. I commented that I have heard it is similar to Bay to Breakers. She actually asked me "where's that?" San Fran. She said, "I haven't heard of it." Ummm, it's the largest footrace in the US, maybe the world!" I couldn't believe she hadn't heard of it and I am suddenly extremely skeptical of her qualifications.


Hans will be finished with classes this week! One more semester down. Now if he can just get enrolled in the program he wants and get this new job squared away things will be good. I am looking forward to having a weekend with my little family.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Get out of town

I seem to have a real "get out of town" desire going. When we lived in Reno, this would hit about every 4 weeks. And the nice thing about Reno, that many people don't realize, is that there are some really fantastic places to go within 1-6 hours drive. Early on, we went to San Francisco (4 hrs) about every 2-3 months. Later it became about every 6 months. We went to Napa and Sonoma Valleys (3 hrs) regularly, Amador county (2 hrs) for zinfandel tastings (zin is red). We hit the Black Rock Dessert (2 hrs), Lake Tahoe (1 hr), Yosemite National Park (6 hrs), Monterey (6 hrs), Lassen (4 hrs) and Mammoth (4 hrs). There was always a new place to explore, good food to eat, a cultural event to see, and if you weren't up for driving, then an evening in downtown Reno was like visiting a new place entirely.

I loved the Shakespeare festival at Lake Tahoe - except for the fact that our home phone number was the *exact* same number as the box office, except you had to dial 1-800 for the tickets. This little detail evaded a huge number of people everyday. It shocked and amazed me how few people understood the concept of a 1-800 number. If you can't understand a 1-800 number, will you be able to understand Shakespeare? Doubt it... just give it up now.

Some of the conversations went as such, "yes I know you are local, you still have to call 1-800". And people would ARGUE about this. "1-800 is NOT an area code" and "Ok, well umm, do you want to offer an explanation why you keep calling my house instead of the festival box office?" We even had people leave their credit card numbers, expiration dates and full names on our answering machine even though our message clearly stated "This is Hans and April's house, it is NOT the Lake Tahoe box office for the Shakespeare Festival. Please dial 1-800 first to get them and please do not place orders for tickets here as you will NOT get your tickets and we are tired of our answering machine tape filling up every night, your credit card will instead be used online to buy whatever I feel like buying". No, we never did that, but people STILL left their card numbers. I often wondered what they did when their tickets didn't show up.

Even two years after we moved - people tracked us down looking for tickets since we changed our phone number and left a new one. Maybe this year will be the first year ever we won't actually get calls for tickets. Last year we got one or two and I am convinced there is just someone out there screwing with us...

So anyways, here I sit, making myself homesick for Reno, or more appropriately homesick for all the places to go nearby Reno.

There are probably places like that here. Seattle is about the same distance from here as San Fran was to Reno. It just seems to take a whole lot more effort to go to Seattle for some reason. Maybe it is because I don't just crash on friends floors anymore - turning 30 kind of killed that desire for me - give me a hotel with a nice bed and shower that isn't used daily by 3 men and never cleaned (sorry Hans' friends! Loved it at the time though!). Or maybe that I now have expectations of places I want to eat or things I want to do as opposed to being forced to eat at only "hole in the wall" (but yet amazingly, quite fantastic) places. All in an effort to preserve most of our $20 per person weekend budget after gas for such 20-something escapades as going dancing at the newest hot spot.

Spokane is acceptable, at least in terms of having a little more shopping than here and more (or maybe it is just "new") food choices. We have yet to get to Portland. And trips to wine country? Well we are here. A trip to a winery is often quicker and easier than going to the grocery store to buy a bottle of wine. Local culture... there's an oxymoron for you. I have heard they are fun - but I find nothing appealing about watching boats fly up and down the Columbia in 100+ degree weather at the boat races.

I always said I could live anywhere as long as I was with Hans, he is my home. And this is very true, I "could" live anywhere, but that doesn't mean I would like it. This area is about as small and as "hickish" as I am willing to go and sometimes I think we have past that point. I always told myself I can buy online what I can't find in the stores. And yes, for the most part I can. But there is no replacement for wandering through the Nordstroms shoe department in a quest for a particular shoe you have never seen, but have only imagined in your head... or browsing some funky second hand store in the Mission district of San Francisco.

I love my home, which is probably why my urge to get out of town hits only about every 4-6 months now. There is always plenty of stuff to do around the house, not only that I want to do, but that needs to be done. It is nearing time to shelf the "need to do this weekend" list in favor of a shopping trip to Seattle. I need my Ikea, Sur la Table, Pikes Market, Banana Republic, Nordstroms fix. I am SURE we can find nice restaurants where taking a squealing infant wouldn't be frowned upon... And Leif really does NEED to see the aquarium in the next few weeks.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Coo Coo Cachoo

One of the things I love about Hans and Leif, and Hans as a father is listening to him sing to Leif. Unlike me - I was often questioned by my father, "what did you do with the money?" I would ask, "What money?" He would reply, "the money I gave you for singing lessons?" Burn... - ok, so I digressed, unlike me, with no singing talent whatsoever, Hans actually took choir and sings quite well.

Hans is enjoying memorizing songs and singing them to Leif. Some of the popular ones as of late are "Stars" from the Les Miserables soundtrack, "Dreams" by Barenaked Ladies, "St Judy's Comet" by Paul Simon (per my request) and any "Schoolhouse Rock" song (because you never know what they might pick up and the song about the "bill on capitol hill" helped Hans pass 9th grade Civics). I know my triangle man is waiting (impatiently) to be able to sing any They Might Be Giants song to Leif...

So given all this, I found the following words coming from my bathroom tonight as I cleaned the kitchen mess, just a crack up.

Hans: "Rubber ducky, you're the one, you make bathtime lots of fun, rubber ducky I am overly fond of you... coo coo cachoo." (Repeat)

Me giggling, quietly in the kitchen. Now as any Ernie fans knows - and I know because I was *the biggest* Ernie fan - Ernie would never say "overly" it's "awfully". But that wasn't what got me giggling, it was the "coo coo cachoo". Now that really does go quite well, the beat is right, it flows into the next line, lol.

Ok, so maybe the memorization of the entire "Rubber Ducky" song is mommy's talent, and not daddy's. But it made me giggle tonight.

Now it is killing me... what is "coo coo cachoo" from?