Saturday, April 29, 2006

In just three days...

The other day I swear Leif was walking under the edge of the BBQ, the shelf with all the ultra-dangerous BBQ tools. (AB is sitting here swearing there is nothing sharp up there... ) The other day he went walking by it and was nearly 2" taller than the shelf. Seriously.

Standing next to me, I notice the difference too. His head is nearly to my hip. It is no longer a stretch to reach up and hold my hand. And those legs... maybe it is his wearing shorts for a few days, but his legs belong to a little kid (bruises and scrapes and all), not a baby.

Not only are there changes in his appearance, but this weekend has shown some maturity in his personality too. Another thing I swear was overnight.

Today Leif accompanied me to the video store where he walked through the entire Z to A (for some reason I start at the end... less people, more available movies). He held my hand and carried a movie for me. We went to the kids section as reward and his first pick (I haven't told AB this yet) was Pinky Pony's Christmas (or something in the like by My Little Pony). I know it is because in addition to a fish fascination, and a mouse fascination, he also has a horse fascination. Maybe I should just call them animal fascinations?

After I convinced him to put back the My Little Pony DVD in exchange for something about a dog... yes, I know, I have probably just scarred my son and he will talk about his mother repressing his inner My Little Pony desire and forcing gender roles from a young age. So shoot me. We were walking down the aisle and Leif then came upon Elmo. The other video was quickly abandoned for Elmo.

Ok, here's what I don't get. Our local Blockbuster has gone to covers that illustrate each movie instead of the generic "Blockbuster" label on each case behind a single illustrated cover. The stupidest move on Blockbuster's part is to NOT have done this with the children's movies.

In my hand, I have the generically labeled Blockbuster Elmo DVD. In Leif's hands he has the Elmo illustrated cover sans DVD. I try to take it from him, showing him there is no movie inside. "ELMO!" Leif cries. Looking at the long line we had to stand through, I let him carry it up to the check out and figured that they can deal with putting the cover back. Otherwise it will be one screaming child in line.

We clear the line and I convince Leif to hand the Elmo cover to the confused check out girl. When she doesn't return it Leif starts crying and screaming, "ELMO, ELMO!". Everyone in line behind us starts giggling and snickering. Leif shoots a horrible glare at the poor girl on our way out while I did my best to convince him that even though it didn't look like it that mommy did have Elmo movie in her purse.

After the video store we did a full shopping trip and Leif was so well behaved. He even stood next to me at the check out. I praised him and praised him while the young bagger raved about how she couldn't believe how big he has gotten, couldn't believe he is turning 2 this summer and tells me she remembers when I was pregnant with him. She ends by telling me she feels so old now. Oh give me a break, you're what? 19? I smile and tell her, "you have no idea". Which made the crotchety (but highly efficient) checker who I love snicker to herself.

I think we have finally turned a corner. My spazzo, run wild child, has mellowed a little. I can hope this isn't just a phase and that he might actually be to a point where we can start venturing out into the public a little more often without my worrying about complete meltdowns and strangers staring at me like I am the worst mother alive that just allows her child to run amuck. (All the while I am more just mortified. Still sorry about the whole ketchup incident last weekend at Red Robin...)

Oh and did I mention that he slept in until 7:10am this morning with only one middle of the night wake up? Of course all week long it was up at 5:45am... but I will take this one with a big smile. Now I am just left contemplating if all week it was growing pains that were waking him up 3 times a night and early in the morning.

Friday, April 28, 2006


I so deserve the upcoming weekend. Going back to work today was a good thing, Leif is looking better and I got caught up on a lot. Still lots more to do on Monday and then here’s hoping that I stay busy next week. Scrambling for work on Tuesday will not be pleasant. But I am ready for a weekend.

I got my big proposal off to my product line manager. I am not sure what to expect now. It is just the technical proposal. No talk of funds or anything. I hate, hate, hate trying to figure out how much it will cost me to do work. I put that off as long as humanly possible.

My Co-PI is my former “team lead” and now fellow group member. He is a super guy, a few levels my senior. I have worked with him on a different project that he handed off to me completely. I have obviously proven myself as capable to him and he was “honored” to be my Co-PI on this proposal. What is KILLING me though is that he has had very little to say on this proposal. On formal reports he is king of the red pen. (Which I truly appreciate.) But on this proposal his editing was limited to a quick review last night where he changed a few words around. He did make a suggestion that I delve more into the proposed chemistry, which gave me a chance… ok three chances, to cite myself. And it really brought the proposal full circle.

So in typical analytical style I am trying my best to read into his lack of comments, other than “looks good”.

  1. He thinks it is a goofy, off the wall idea and just doesn’t even know what to make of it. If he ignores it, it will go away.
  2. He is great friends with my mentor and they could be playing a “just step back and let her do it herself” thing.
  3. Or it just really is a great idea and proposal that needs very little added. (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha)

Ok, in all honesty, I think it is #2. He is a great guy and I think he sees the importance to me doing it all myself. Or he just thinks it is stupid idea…

AB is thrilled with the concept (read: the potential for IP) and my excitement for it. He thinks it is nice too that I have been paid to develop the proposal (a rarity here), because in the end, if we don’t stay here it would be nice to have at least one proposal in hand say if, oh I don’t know, if I decided to try for an academic position or something crazy like that.

When I graduated I had zero ideas for proposals. The one thing that working here has REALLY given me is a window to real world problems, what needs work in various industries but no one is apparently tackling. I have a stack of nearly 30 proposals (mostly 1-2 page concept papers) now that I have thrown out to various funding agencies. Sure they take further developing to turn into a real proposal. But the ideas are there, where they weren’t four years ago.

We have a lot of yard work planned for the weekend. I need to get the back yard in shape. I am hosting a book club meeting on May 9th and am hoping we can sit outside. That way AB and Leif can have the run of the house without interrupting. I am going with a Mexican theme, sangria, chips and salsa and guacamole, and some (non-flan) Mexican dessert. Ideas? Let me know.

I also have a ton of stuff to haul to Goodwill in preparation for my mom and stepdad arriving on the 10th. I got the guest room looking amazingly nice yesterday. Nicer than it has looked since we moved in.

Aside from that? A trip to the mall to return clothes that I bought while I had Leif in tow – therefore stayed out of the changing room – and of course NONE of them fit. A trip to Target and to the grocery store.

Everyone have a super weekend!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

My stint as a SAHM

Ok, so maybe just over a day and a half doesn't really qualify. We still aren't sure if what Leif has are chicken pox. But he is home another day just to be sure. He still has one actual pock looking thing on his thigh, yesterday it kind of blistered, today the blister is gone and it is red. The spots on the back of his neck are mostly gone. No more red, but almost like itty bitty scabs where the spots were. Then there was the mild fever and chest congestion (now gone).

My assessment is that it was/is a very mild case of chicken pox thanks to the vaccine kicking in and not making it any worse. Two other children in his class are out with chicken pox, one who was immunized. I spoke with his teacher today and she agreed that if nothing pops up today he can come back tomorrow. I have mixed feelings about that since we are really having a great day today.

It is 78F, sunny, no winds. Plain gorgeous day. Leif is feeling quite well and so we took the dog for a walk. Then we came back and sanded some boards from an IKEA kit to paint this afternoon and put together for a shelf/table in the utility room. Leif was so happy to "howp mommy". We watched Sesame Street - and his interest there is growing. When Elmo comes on though it is still all about the fish.

Leif had lunch and then here's where I am a sucky SAHM. I plopped him in the car for a quick drive around the neighborhood to fall asleep. Naps are a huge struggle in this house. Bedtime not amazingly. I wasn't feeling like the struggle (as usual) and so we went for a drive. Got back and would you believe he needed a diaper change before going into the crib? Figures.

Sometimes I shock even myself though, I was able to change a very poopy diaper without waking Leif out of his slumber. Now I expect a full 2.5 hours to do stuff around the house. First on the agenda is to work on the guest room. Take the old computer down now that I have transferred files off of it. Pull out all the stuff to go to Goodwill and put it in my car - or in the garage on AB's side so that he understands the importance of getting it there. And then rearranging the room a little.

My mom and stepdad arrive in just under 2 weeks and I want the guest room looking nice. I bought a new comforter and cover from IKEA for that room and am anxious to get it looking nice.

Work? Not even thinking about it today! (Oh except to e-mail my group's admins "thank you for everything you do and sorry I didn't acknowledge your contribution yesterday" notes.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Home for a day, maybe more?

I was in teleconference this morning when daycare called my office. They immediately called AB next, instead of my cell, which is fine. Chicken pox.

The kids in the class were all exposed on 4-19. I thought nothing of it since Leif had the vaccine. Didn't even think anything about it this morning when I was dropping him off and noted the red bumps on his neck. Sure enough, about an hour later someone else noticed the red bumps...

If it weren't that my baby is going to be uncomfortable for the next however many days, I would be thrilled to be home. I have been less than thrilled lately with work - mostly thanks to Monday when one of my tasks was cut. 30% of my time... gone. This year I have made a distinct effort not to overcommit myself. I get too busy and not everything gets done - learned my lesson there. So I commit myself just right and I get this shot at me. Not thrilled. In fact, quite irked. (The downside of being in charge of your own destiny in a big company.)

My good PM offered me a little cushion, as much as he could, and more than he ever had to considering the task that was cut was NOT from his project. He is in another group, another directorate completely. This is so something he does NOT have to do. But he did. He gave me a small task to tackle and some PDM for some other research. He also confirmed that I had a solid concept for an IR&D proposal this summer - because if I do, the money is mine pending committee approval.

Leif fell asleep on the way home - 1.5 hours before naptime. But he is down for the count. Hopefully this doesn't screw up his nighttime sleep. Now to the multitude of things that I can do while he sleeps! (Of course, first and foremost on my list should be working on my proposal that is due Friday (nearly 75% done I think).

Oh and a good thought for C that she doesn't come down with this since she played with Leif last weekend. She and V are hopping on a plane home tomorrow.

A cute Leifism

This morning AB was in the shower and I was finishing up getting ready, Leif was waching Teletubbies. He came into the bathroom telling me "help", which sounds more like "howp". It is his new thing to ask for help on everything, which I think is more just to get attention since he suddenly needs help with everything he used to do by himself.

He took my hand and we walked through the bedroom, the living room, the kitchen and to the dining room. There he pointed to Winny standing at the door outside, ready to come in, and said, "howp Winwe".


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Moving the Columbia

We all know that we are growing older, we all know that someday it will be difficult to care for ourselves. I know that this fact has got to be very difficult to accept for the elderly. I still feel as though I am in my early 20’s – at the oldest – most of the time. Yet when asked my age and I have to think about it and my response is “umm, 34” I wonder how that happened. Before I know it I will be my grandmother’s age, 82 and wondering how that happened.

My grandmother and I have always been very close. She is coming to visit at the end of May and we will be going to her reunion from nursing school in Spokane while she is here. She grew up in a small Swedish farming community in North Dakota. She had 2 older brothers (Dale and Bud) and three younger siblings (Naomi, Charles and Bonnie) and she was related to half the town. When she graduated from high school, she taught grade school until leaving for training to become a cadet nurse with hopes of serving her country in the war. About 60 years ago she graduated, wondering if she would be shipped overseas to serve her country. The war ended, she never left the US. Instead she went to work in a hospital in Seattle (I think) where she met my grandfather. He was 15 years her elder, a widower with two nearly grown boys, and made a living as an ambulance driver. He relieved the elevator operator during lunch in the hospital and my grandmother would go and ride the elevator up and down. (My grandmother flirting??) They eventually married and made a home in Casper, Wyoming where my grandmother was a nurse for 45 years and my grandfather was a barber.

My grandfather died when I was 13 after about 10 years battle with heart disease and diabetes. I don’t want to say that they didn’t have a happy marriage; I don’t know that they didn’t. But it was volatile. They had four children; my mom was the third born and only girl. By the time I came along my grandfather didn’t drink anymore and life was quiet. I knew the rules from an early age and never pushed them… “no talking during the news, when you play Yahtzee you don’t shake the dice loudly (my grandmother always bucked this rule and finally someone gave her a padded cup to shake her dice to “keep the peace”), nobody moves Pa’s cigarettes and you better not hide the matches”. Still I loved going to their house and the experiences there enriched my life.

My grandmother still lives in the same house they bought upon relocating to Casper. She is 82 and not only is her health changing, but she has a hard time caring for her house. She will not admit this to anyone, yet when you visit the dirt and grime is obvious. Admitting that she should no longer be living by herself is something she will never do and when it is mentioned, her resolve to never move kicks in. She still enjoys life, she relishes family, she denies loneliness and busies herself with walking, volunteering at the hospital and going to the senior center. She swears up and down she isn’t bored so many times that one has to start wondering if she is working to convince herself she isn’t bored.

It is true that life comes full circle. I see my grandmother not as the small, strong, bull headed Swedish nurse that plowed over anyone – like a bull in a china shop – but as a frail, confused elderly, child-like woman who is frightened by the slightest change.

Her time in her house is nearing an end I fear. Her ability to care for herself is waning. Last week she was taken to the ER after calling 911. She was dizzy, disoriented and unable to stand. The paramedics found her on the floor of her house, sitting in her own waste.

She is “fine” now. She is home again, alone, more embarrassed by the previous week’s episode than frightened by it, unfortunately. She commented to me that it probably served as one more nail in her coffin that Mike (the second oldest) will insist she move to a home. Last fall they went and looked at options for senior housing with her. My mom and stepdad have been up helping her “clean out” her house. But her resistance is incredible. Her youngest son bolsters her confidence that she is “just fine” and “doesn’t need to go anywhere”. Yet he is absent when she is ill, or needs salt put in her water purifier, or needs her pump turned on for the summer. Mike and his wife are leaving Casper in June and retiring to Alaska. This is going to be a hard, hard reality for my grandmother. Right now for her, the next 6 weeks is eons away. But two days after she returns home from my house, they will depart.

They have provided the vast majority of her care for the last 15 years. When my grandmother had back surgery nearly 5 years ago it was my aunt Laurie (a true saint) who went over and buckled her into her brace daily and then took it off so she could be up and down. Now that they are leaving, it will be like dropping a bombshell on my grandmother. Suddenly, the only one left to help her is her youngest (and oh so reliable, drug addicted) son.

Mike and Laurie are done. They have talked to her over and over about the merits of an assisted living apartment. Their goal last year was to have her in one by this spring, before they leave. My mom pushes her as well… but there is that wonderful mother-daughter dynamic at play there. My grandma views it as revenge.

During her visit with me, I am to take up the cause while I have her undivided attention for 8 days. Lucky for me there is an assisted living apartment building on the walking trail less than a block from my house. We will be walking by there daily so she can see the residents out with their dogs, sitting on the patios chatting and interacting. I know that she sees in her head, despite the fact she has seen the senior apartments, a small hospital type room where the residents spend all day in bed waiting to die… a nursing home. That isn’t the option we are talking about. But convincing her to give up her house is going to be like moving the mighty Columbia.

But like the child she has become, the best course may not be “convincing”, it may just involve taking the initiative and telling her what she will do.

First the apartment… then we will tackle the car and her driving.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The first haircut!

It nearly killed me and I forced back the tears as my baby was transformed into a little boy with a few snips of the scissors. We took him to a salon for kids, knowing that we would either have spaz child on our hands who would not calm down. Or one very sad child. It was the later.

This might be cool... I can sit in a car!

Nevermind, not cool. Nor are scissors neat anymore.

Sitting on Daddy's lap helped some.

The end result! A little boy.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Crystal ball? Anyone?

As this semester comes to a close AB and I, as usual, turn our discussions to the future. Not our future as a couple, we are happier than ever. Our future here, my future at the lab, AB's future as an engineer. We are one more step closer to needing to make some hard decisions. AB could be finished with his Masters in December and at that point (probably before) will be seeking a job in the field he just spent thousands of dollars plus time away from Leif and me learning.

When I interviewed here for my job nearly 4.5 years ago everyone raved, "Your husband is a chemist? He will have NO problem finding a job here, this is a lab!" My future TGM told me about a wonderful "trailing spouse program" that the lab has to assist spouses in finding a job. They don't GIVE your spouse a job, but they make introductions and provide interviews. Perfect, I thought! AB always aces interviews.

It is 4 years (nearly to the date) since I started and AB has never had an introduction or an interview. At first he worked diligently with the program following their recommendations to a tee. But when calls weren't returned and e-mails went unanswered, the skeptic took over. He was finally told that the program is really aimed more at "women following their husbands who can fill admin type positions". He gave up. I later had a manager who told HR to take 2 days to help my husband find a job, he gave them money to do so out of his overhead budget. They didn't take it.

Now here we are. AB has an alright job. He loves the people he works with, but the position pushing paper, being a desk chemist reviewing data reports is not a career that he wants.

How long can I reasonably keep saying "you'll eventually find something here at the lab honey, just keep looking”? We both know it is probably not true. I have knocked on doors, I have talked to people I know (most recently my good PM, who I know would help if he could, but his projects lack the money).

I have a super job, with great benefits and reasonable pay. I am in a position where I can forge my own path, be in charge of my own destiny, yet with all the advantages of working for a large organization. People I went to school with would fall over backwards if they knew that I sit here with the very valid thought of giving it up next July. At this point, I cannot give it up before I vest in June of 2007. There is far too much at stake. But it shocks me how quickly I know that date will approach.

This weekend we identified “the back up plan”. For awhile AB’s back up plan was that if he got his Masters, but didn’t find a job, to forge ahead with the Ph.D. After this semester in particular, nothing could make him more sick to his stomach. I am a school person, I loved spending 5 years in grad school full time. AB? Notsomuch. Another 3-4 years minimum after graduation, in school, working towards an elusive position that may never pan out? He can’t do that and I would never ask him to.

Of course in order for me to give up my career path here, AB would have to actually have a job elsewhere. Preliminary job searches have returned surprisingly countless options for him outside of this area. While the primary job search will be this area, we have identified other choices. Some rank higher than others and some excite us more than others.

I do like my job a lot, we like the area OK, and we adore our friends. When I think of what it is that will make me cry leaving here, it is the friendships we have forged. But we would have to rely on the fact that these friendships would weather time and distance.

There are days that the thought of giving up my position makes me nauseous, i.e., “but today I love my job”. Then there are others that make me want to jump ship tomorrow. Most are “in between”. Little things start to get to me and I start asking questions like, “If I am so valued by my organization, why is there no assistance to help my husband find a position?” Can you tell I am having a day on the lower end of the spectrum? I won’t dwell on it.

There is that one part of me that wonders what is around the corner. All our lives we have "traded up". From my crappy job in a doctor's office to grad school to a permanent lab job. Things keep getting better. Will they continue on that course? Or will our luck run out and I will kick myself for giving up my job?

AB’s first priority is to find a job in this region. But if it doesn’t pan out, we have a back up plan, one that excites us and that is priceless right now.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

My house was built on a sacred robin burial ground

Well that's the only thing I can figure out.

Two years ago over Easter, robin(s) started going psycho around my house. I remember it was Easter because my MIL was here. (She can vouch for every word of this.) One or more robins, started charging our windows. Repeatedly. This isn't just "a bird flew into my window today". No, one bird flying into the window 50 times in an hour, for a few hours a day, for months at a time is more like it.

The windows would alternate, north side of the house, the big picture frame windows were the most common targets. But the small east side of the house, decorative windows were too. It was loud, obnoxious and very messy, because apparently everytime the robin would hit the house, it would crap all over the brick below the window as well. I don't know when the dang bird found time to eat since it was flying into our window the entire time. But it did.

Amazingly the bird (or birds) never knocked themselves out. It never starved to death. And it never realized that it was not, under any circumstance, coming in our house.

Did I mention I loathe birds? Up in the sky, flying, far from me? Fine. In a house, in a cage, or near me? Hate them. I was chased by a hummingbird as a little girl. I was watching the hummingbirds at my grandparents house and I had on my flowered sundress. My grandpa told me to go outside and get a better look, so out I went. The hummingbird evidently thought I looked tastey and chased me. I was horribly traumatized and finally got inside to my grandfather rolling on the floor (nearly) laughing. My grandpa didn't laugh, pretty much ever. So this being one of the few times I ever remember him laughing seems especially ironic considering it was also when, I believe, my fear of birds started. It continued later on when we had birds fly down our chimney and into our house. (Oh no, it wasn't *me* that opened the door to the fireplace to see what was making all the racket...) And then there were the evil kids who I babysat that let their parakeet out of the cage and would fly at my head. Evil.

So robins and windows and my house... 2 years ago we did everything. We bought plastic owls and put them near the windows. We hung up flashing, aluminum foil on each window. Finally, in desparation my MIL took duct tape and taped black plastic over the windows. That worked. My neighbors thought we were completely psycho, but it worked. AB about this time also decided to pre-empt the whole "those psycho neighbors next door don't want anyone seeing in their house" went to our neighbors and asked if they were having problems with robins as well. They weren't, but he then explained what was going on. Now, whether or not they believe us is open for interpretation...

Last year I think we had a few incidences, each one set us on edge... "was this the start?" But it never really did materialize.

However, this year, with Easter came the robins. AB told me that he has heard and seen a few banging. Yesterday I got Leif in the car to come to work, buckled him in, ran in to double check my curling iron, make sure it is off. (OCD jokes? Anyone?) I came back out, Leif was whimpering for some unknown reason, went to get in the car and I'll be damned if I didn't get the crap scared out of me when a robin flew into the garage window. Leif screams, I curse under my breath. And we squeal out of the garage.

I fully expect my son now has a fear of birds as well.

This morning when I was getting ready, directly behind my bathroom mirror (so I could see the whole thing), a robin propelling itself into the window over my tub. Count them... 12 times while I blew my hair dry. My house is apparently Mecca for robins. Those who can get in the house will be saved?!

AB's Father's Day present? A BB gun.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


My horrible Wednesday isn't so horrible today. We finished teleconference early today. My collaborators on the clients end were amazingly brief. We usually talk forever. I suspect that they are starting work with one of their clients on introducing the technology to them. They are under no obligation to tell us anything at this point and my inclusion in the project now is simply advisory when it comes down to it, although I still do a fair amount of data analysis for them.

This afternoon I (along with V and another person) get to talk to a new career development class about our experience as mentees. I think that will be fun. I don't mind so much talking to groups of people, especially on a topic I enjoy. My biggest challenge is to not dwell on the fact that things initially sucked so bad here that I felt that I NEEDED a mentor bad. And that is why I loved the program. We will just gloss over that fact.

This week is kind of blah-ish. I have lots of meetings and such on my schedule, but nothing that is on a very pressing time schedule.

I sent out an e-mail a few minutes ago inquiring (tactfully I hope) about a potential student position for AB. It is with my good project manager... potentially. I adore him. He is a super guy, an amiable amiable. So I KNOW that he isn't going to get offended that I asked, or lash back at me asking why I would be so presumptuous or forward about it. I know that he has been extremely happy with my performance on the project and has made sure my manager knows this. Still I find it somewhat uncomfortable to approach him about something more of a personal nature. Mostly because I don't want him to think that he *has* to find AB something or that I am trying to back him into a corner. I tried to leave it as open as possible.

Let's see... I had my first actual conversation with my son yesterday. I always ask him if he had a good day when I pick him up at daycare. Yesterday I was shocked when he answered "yes". I asked him what he did and he told me "go owside". What else did you do, I asked him. "Songs!" he exclaimed. Anything else I prodded, did you read? "Books" he answered. Awww... my little boy is growing up.

Ho hum. A good sign that I should end the post is when I am sitting here looking blankly at screen. Signing off.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Even my dog cracks me up!

Last night we went on our evening walk. Winny LOVES her walks and is such a spaz. She also loves sticks. Toys she could care less about, we can't get her to carry a toy or retrieve a toy out on a walk. But throw her a stick and she will chase it for hours, or at least until it falls apart. If you stop throwing it she will carry it and prance like she is in a dog show.

So we were out walking last night and let Winny off to run in the field near our house. She chases rabbits and just generally stretches her legs. AB and I are noting that they must be building or doing something in the field as there survey markers throughout the field. I ponder if they are going to build a trail from the new nursing home around the field, down to the stream and up to the walking trail. AB doesn't know.

We look down and start talking to Leif who is yapping away. Look up and see our dog bounding towards us... in her mouth is a stick! To be more precise... a wooden survey marker with pink tape and writing on one end! She pulled the stick right out of the ground. I am sure she thought they put it there JUST for her!

AB finally got it away from her and propped it up on a fence where the surveyors might see it and find it... 50 yards from where it was... covered in teeth marks.

That'll teach them to consider building in Winny's field!

5000 Visitors!

Sure enough!

Thanks all!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter Pictures

Meet Mouse.

This egg shakes like there is something inside!

Smiley boy!

If it smells good, it might taste good, right?

Smoocher poocher.

A rabbit named Mouse

Leif woke us up at 6:30am on Easter morning. I went in and sat with him while AB dragged himself out of bed (without saying one grumbly word). Leif was surprised to find an Easter basket full of goodies sitting on the coffee table instead of a movie cued up and ready to play. The morning then progressed from there as we went through all the Easter basket goodies and he became attached to the new stuffed, very soft rabbit sitting next to his basket. He promptly exclaimed, "Mouse!" and hugged it close. Mouse has joined the ranks with Puppy and Lion on favorite stuffed animals. Neither has taken over the front running position that is currently held by blankey.

I pulled the coffeecakes out of the fridge and allowed them to come to room temperature. I had zero hopes for them since the texture was far more reminiscent or old crusted over peanut butter. Regardless, I tossed them in the oven, more with the intention of it being a science experiment and so I could have one more thing to complain about with them and be able to whine about the awful lying recipe.

To my surprise they raised up a little bit and baked up reasonably edible! AB did make the comment that, "you know I always think of coffeecake as being sweet". Then he wisely stopped there. Yeah, so they weren't great. They were dense, not light and fluffy like yeast breads should be, and being sweetened only with honey... doesn't really cut it even for NM who is on a quest to eat healthier. If you are going to have sweet breads... have sweet breads. (And I am not talking about "sweetbreads". Ick.)

Leif, after realizing that the plastic eggs contained jelly beans, called off the egg hunt. He did what every child should do Easter morning and ate jelly beans, ate the ears off his (hollow) chocolate bunny, and drank juice. So when I put a piece of coffeecake in front of him he looked at me like I was nuts. Eat again?

It was amazingly early and so AB and I hurried up and got ready and headed to church. I had neurosed about leaving Leif in a daycare he had never attended for the service. We walked by the 24 month thru 3 year room and I nearly stopped and put him in that room. He was as big as most kids there and the toys looked fun. But no, I wandered him down to the Infant to 23 months old room. Mistake #1.

I was pleasantly surprised and happy with the cleanliness of the room and the very friendly attitude of the head teacher in that room. The kids and the toys seemed awfully young, but I figured that was Ok, it was only for an hour. I felt OK about leaving Leif with her. She told us that if there was a problem she would page us silently. (Ok, I thought, whatever that means. Mistake #2, find out what a silent page is.)

Mistake #3 was AB's. Walking over and looking into the nursery. Leif saw him and started bawling. We walked over and chatted with some people we knew and then went into the church hall. We were sitting there for about 5 minutes when AB grabs the nursery claim tag. Looks at the number and gets up and leaves. I look around, knowing his number is #132 and see that 132 is highlighted on a little LED board. I panicked! How long has it been lit up? What is wrong?

AB comes back holding Leif and I just KNOW we will be making an exit within 30 minutes. There is NO way he will sit through this. Not only did Leif sit through it, but given the fact that I was incredibly unprepared (Mistake #4, no nax, no toys, no crayons... nothing), he did SO well. He did well enough that AB and I actually talked about resuming our search for a church (maybe this one?) knowing that Leif is perfectly capable of sitting through an hour long service. In the back of my mind thoughts of actually eating OUT at a restaurant were flittering by.

We returned home, praised Leif for his being well behaved. We played outside and then Leif hit the sack for a brief 2 hour nap. (I really like his 3 hour naps.)

AB started smoking the prime rib, I mixed up the chocolate bread pudding and got the side dishes prepped. Everything was most fabulous. We played outside after dinner, ate our dessert outside, drank yummy wine all evening. It was a great Easter!

This morning Leif was up well before 6am. This is due mostly to the fact that I posted here that starting today I would be up at 6am and go take my run with the dog then. I cursed Leif's sleeping "habits". The streak of 6:30am wakings has been broken. We snuggled and watched Nemo. Later in the morning Leif surprised me with a return to showing interest in the potty chair, after a good 2 weeks of noninterest. He carried it out to the kitchen and pulled on his clothes. I undressed him and he sat down and went! I hipped and hoorayed, hollared and yayed for his success. Then I let him run around nakey the rest of the morning as a reward, which he thought was oh so much fun.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Why yeast is no longer welcome in this house

So my intention tonight was to blog something like "Twas the night before Easter when all through the house..." but then I realized that there were limited opportunities to insert the word "duck" and then that meant I would not really be able to convey my true feelings towards my attempt in the kitchen in prose.

If I haven't said it recently I will remind everyone now, my mom is a great baker. She makes great cakes, cookies, she rocks at pie crusts, and breads too. I have come to the conclusion that there is just only so much baking expertise to go around in this family. My expertise is cooking. I can whip up a savory sauce for just about anything, my crab cakes rival every restaurants, I stole AB's heart with my spring rolls, and I am a whiz with most veggies - those I like at least. I leave meat to AB, but his skills must stand up to my harshest critique. My baking skills start with cakes (yes, homemade) and stop with cookies even after much time in my mom's kitchen carefully watching her every move with pie crust and bread. Effortless. Why can I not get this? (Those of you who have seen me in the kitchen, don't answer this, I am quite positive it has nothing to do with the fact that measuring cups never leave my drawers.)

Cinnamon Honey Coffeecake. I, on a rare occasion, will make a battered coffeecake but yeasted? Whoa there. This looks intriguing! The Moosewood Desserts cookbook cites this as quick and easy! It cites 30 minutes prep, 1 hour rising and 1 hour baking. My kind of yeasted coffeecake recipe!

Moosewood lies.

Of course other factors may be at play.

1. Yeast don't like heat. Oops. Reproof another batch.

2. Scraped knuckles on grater while zesting an orange hurt an amazing amount.

3. I hate hate hate trying to mix flour and butter "to a coarse grain". Pulled out the food processor, that meant two appliances in use on the one countertop in the kitchen. Tripped the GFI at least 5 times.

4. Stop for dinner. Glare at husband when he asks "what's wrong". (We are now 45 minutes into the 30 minute prep with no end in sight.)

5. "Pour 1/4 of the batter into the first bread pan." Look at bowl. Read again. "Pour 1/4 of the batter into the first bread pan." ... Where's the damn batter? This is dough and there is no way it is pouring.

6. Seperate the dough into four balls and press two flat onto the bottom of the two pans. "Spoon fruit filling into middle of bottom layer of dough" should read "fill the bread pan halfway up with fruit mixture" because I made THAT much by their recipe.

7. How to maintain calm with my nearly 21 month old, very impressionable and bold with mimicry son, sitting in the kitchen as I attempt to "pour the other half of the batter on top of the filling". (Refer to #5.)

8. Covered lightly with saran wrap and threw (I mean 'set nicely') in the already overpacked fridge.

9. Announce to AB it looks like we are having swedies for breakfast tomorrow.

All bakers have my admiration. V, I don't know how you do it baking fresh bread for your family. I would have to be hauled away in a straightjacket.

Onto a happy note... time to set up the basket! Martha doesn't bake yeast breads does she? Naw... never seen it.

(And I never rhymed with duck.)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Mocha Friday!

A grande nonfat marble mocha machiato makes a great start to any Friday! I am even getting used to going back to the nonfat!

Today Leif has his Easter egg hunt and party at daycare. I am anxious to see how he does with the whole egg hunt thing. Last Friday a note was sent home asking each family to send "6 medium eggs" to school by this past Wednesday. I thought it odd that they requested medium eggs... I never buy medium eggs. Oh well. On Monday I noted on the 1st grade door a note specifying to bring hard boiled eggs. I hadn't even thought about that! I asked Leif's teachers if they wanted me to hardboil the eggs?

Panic on their faces!

"PLASTIC eggs please!" was the resounding chorus! I got a good laugh. I hadn't even considered that they were asking for plastic eggs! One teacher commented about what a disaster it would be to have 15, 1-2 year olds handling eggs, even hard boiled. Yeah, I can see that. We will do hard boiled and color them at home (and now I have 12 medium eggs for this purpose...), but in a daycare setting. Yeah, plastic it should be.

I went in on Tuesday and there was a new sign on the door emphasizing that each family should bring 6 PLASTIC eggs.


I ran last night and it was surprisingly less painful than the past few nights. I am still having some hip joint pain that had prevented me from running much of this last week. We walked instead those night. The pain had mellowed some and so I ran last night. (I did a quick search on the internet and realized I must be old... arthritis, bursitis... )

Leif has a love-hate relationship with the jogging stoller. Last night it was a hate. He cried "no no, me walk" as I plopped him in the stroller, held him down and snapped the straps around him. I felt horribly guilty about this. I already feel as though I spend so little time with him on a daily basis. Why should I take this 30 minutes out of our day, when he hates it so most of the time? Because I need to. I need to do this for me and in the long run, for Leif. I need to be a healthy, in shape mom.

In order for me to really get the most out of my work outs I need to have a goal in mind. Here it is... Bloomsday 2007. 12K or 7.46 miles. This is the same distance as Bay to Breakers and I have done that twice now. The first time with my mom, a marathoner, and we did it in about 1 hour and 15 minutes and finished in the top 1/3. This was a HUGE accomplishment for me, one I never thought possible because I was such a sucky runner growing up. I am still a sucky runner, I am slow, and feel as though I am going to die. But I find it the best exercise for me because I have little time to devote to other forms of exercise that IMO, don't provide as much oomph for the time spent. You know though, I don't care that I am slow. My attitude is that I am a lot faster than those people standing on the sidelines at races!

My goal is to do Bloomsday in under 1 hour and 15 minutes next May. Of course, there is one thing that could put this goal on hold and that is if I end up pregnant again this year, which is also a goal for AB and I. But being that it took just over a year for us to conceive Leif, I can't put everything on hold while I wait for that to happen (when we decide to start seriously pursuing that goal).

Baby steps. First I have to be able to run 1 mile without stopping. (Yes, I am THAT bad.) 1-2 weeks? We will start there. Now that Leif has slept in until 6:30am for the past 3 mornings... bless him... my goal starting Monday is to get my rear out the door at 6am for my morning run, alone with my dog. Which also eliminates the guilt with running with Leif in the stroller every evening. (One thing about it though... his screaming and whining make me run faster...)


Happy Easter weekend! We have swimming tomorrow morning then Cate is coming over for a playdate in the afternoon on the climber. We will color hard boiled eggs at some point. I am doing the grocery shopping today over lunch so I don't have to hit the grocery store this weekend. Sunday the plan is to hunt for Easter eggs in the morning, have a honey cinnamon coffeecake for breakfast (courtesy of Moosewood Desserts cookbook). Church where I will reluctantly leave Leif in the church daycare for the service... this is killing me. Yes, he will be just fine. Snacks after church consisting of deviled eggs with crab and veggies. Dinner will be AB's prime rib smoked on the BBQ (yum), roasted asparagus, corn on the cob if I can find some, and a potato gallette. Dessert is chocolate bread pudding - also courtesy of Moosewood Desserts.

And if I don't gain back the couple pounds I have lost by Monday morning another miracle will have happened!

Happy Easter everyone!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Cherry branches

The pictures are a touch dark as it was 6:15pm-ish when I took them last night. But you get the idea. The branches are covered with cherry blossoms and the trees are alive with buzzing of the hundreds (??) of bees on them happily pollenating away.

I own a tankini!

AB thought I was silly last night to be so excited by a new swimsuit, but I am! Of course I had to explain what a tankini is and how it differs from a regular bathing suit - being a cross between a bikini and a tank suit. A tankini!

Along with my tankini came Leif's new sandals for the summer. He is bound and determined to wear them NOW. When AB asked Leif to go get his shoes this morning, Leif brought his new sandals to him. After that I went and found his regular shoes, the ones that I just bought in January and are nearly in pieces... AB reminded me that we DID just buy him tennis shoes this past weekend and that I can get rid of the ratty old shoes now. *sigh* But those tennis shoes make him look like a little boy! Not my baby! I gave in and put him in the tennis shoes, but did toss the other shoes in the car to take into daycare just in case Leif didn't want to wear his new tennis shoes, or he had trouble walking in them. (Yes, his teacher thought I was nuts when I told her this and handed her the other pair.)

Also arriving in the mail yesterday (all of this was BEFORE I knew how much my teeth were going to cost) was an itty bitty, size 2 pair of toddler Carhartt overalls. Just to prove my son's worthiness of his "Alaska heritage". My inlaws will be so pleased!

Leif has been in a fantastic mood lately. 3 of 4 cuspids through and all is well! He slept until 6:30am this morning. I was awake at 6am and instead of getting my rear out of bed and onto the running trail with the dog I slept. When I woke up at 6:30am I actually felt groggy, like I slept too much. I am kicking myself for not jumping out of bed at 6am and running. Now I have to do it tonight...

Leif's latest fascination is with mice. I am not sure where this has come from. But I will be damned if I am buying a mouse. We have fish. And a dog. And Leif does still love the fish and Winwe. But "mouse" is the new thing.

The kindergarten room has a gerbil we must say bye bye to everyday and Leif really believes he is a mouse. He says "Hi mouse!" and then does his weird little "squeak squeak squeak" to the gerbil as though he is speaking mouse and he will understand. I have quit insisting that Mr. (or Mrs.) Mouse is actually a gerbil.

I bought a boo bunny awhile back for Leif. It is a fuzzy little bunny covering for ice cubes to minimize the chance for frostbite when using ice on an owee. Yesterday Leif slipped while climbing the climber and hit his lip. I pulled it out and he was sold. He put it on his lip, then looked at it, then exclaimed MOUSE! And kissed it. He carried it around most of the evening with him, rubbing it on his cheek, kissing it and calling it mouse. Awww!

(I am rethinking the stuffed soft bunny for the Easter basket... Easter mouse anyone?)

His speech and especially pronounciation are continuing to improve. I think people who don't know toddler or Leif speak might be able to understand some of what he is saying now. I relish each time Leif says "I love you". My mom can distinctly understand it now, even though it is all run together like "iluboo". He is really into Little Einsteins (thanks guys for the recommendation) and loves patting his legs and REALLY loves saying (or I mean screaming) "Blast Off!" And we are loving the educational and music aspects.

Leif also is pointing out flowers a lot. He is sad the daffodils are "going away", but was intrigued by the buds on the lilac bush yesterday. I commented that they smell so good and he was doing his best to get his nose on them to smell. Our cherry trees are covered in blossoms... I will post a picture. Leif was intrigued by them, but I won't let him go near them since the trees literally sound alive with buzzing... loads of bees have discovered the trees! It is a little eery being next to them and hearing the constant hum.

So that is about it for us.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wednesday has blown by

Seriously, where has the day gone. I guess the good news is that I got a lot done this afternoon that has been shoved to the back burner. I called a potential subcontractor and talked with him for awhile getting some crucial information. I e-mailed all my invited speakers for the conference section I am chairing to bug them about submitting their abstracts. One guy was good and submitted his without having to be bugged a second time. I will feel a whole lot better once everyones abstracts are in... I still worry all will bail and I will have no invitees. This all goes back to when I was in 8th grade and my friend Fate and I decided to have a NewYears Eve party. You guessed it. No one came. They all went to the popular boys party AND we weren't invited. Since then I have feared inviting people and them not showing up.

I spent all morning in teleconference and then a group meeting. Teleconference was good on a professional note. I walked in and Miss Pink Post-Doc was once again in my seat. Irked, I took a seat at the adjacent table. One CW commented, "well seems as though there are no seats". Yeah, seems that way I replied. Teleconference starts and the team on the other end is making comments, asking questions, PM is out of the room, I have the answers and not a damn person can hear me on the other end. Again a repeat of a few weeks ago when other teammates get up and offer me their seat, I accept for this portion of the telecon... I have to. Miss Pink didn't budge. Pink shirt, pink camera phone (I didn't pay attention to see if the Pug was joining us), big pink water container, and pink notebook. Give me a break. I hate pink.

My PM chatted with me during some of the other presentations and told me that he wanted me to do some work while he is busy on another project in the next few days where I will be in direct communication with the client on this and to not to worry about going through him. This was a huge vote of confidence from him. I do see myself picking up more of a PM role with this client and his not taking back some of the small PM duties after his long vacation.

And then I got a vote of confidence from the client as well... they are sending some samples for me to work with. I see this as huge potential that they may be seeding me another task! I have a concept in the back of my head and it is a spin off from another proposal I am working on, but I think would work for this application. Anyways, the data that I get from these samples could really bolster my potential proposal to my lab for them to seed some money to continue this interaction with the client... which they are ALWAYS pushing. My team gets this money set aside every year for our use with this client. I really think I have a shot at procuring all of it. (Last year it went to bring Miss Pink onto the project for this year... stupid money.)

After telecon I had a group meeting for 1.5 hours. I hate those. Sit and listen to the TGM and admin for 1.5 hours talk about team work and team building, work together and don't lie on your time card cause we can't tell if you do since we are all in different areas. Yeah yeah yeah. My biggest problem with these is my own feelings that I don't belong. It is rare that I work with anyone in my group. I know very few of them. I feel as though I walk in and they look at me wondering who I am. I am loving my work right now, loving where I work and what I do. There are things that could be better. But then I have a meeting like this where I sit there looking blankly around me for an hour and a half and it erodes away confidence. It shouldn't, I know. But it does.

As my mentor says, many people have to work on meeting people across the lab and that is their shortfall in getting promoted. You have the opposite problem and your challenge is to meet the people in your own group and get to know the people our manager knows. The vast majority of people I work with are in other groups and often other directorates.

Well I intended on blogging mostly about Leifers and not about boring work. But alas, this is what you get. Tomorrow?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sorry Current, kinda

Ok, so I whined and moaned yesterday about not receiving the replacement shipment from Current Catalog and how awful the woman was to me on the phone. Sure enough, I got home and there was the package on my stoop. So I sort of owe an apology... the order did eventually come, and I am keeping the things because they aren't ALL Easter items and the set of cards I can use next year. But, I am still not ordering from them again given the incredible length of time it takes to get a package and the rudeness of the customer service woman yesterday. So there is my half assed apology.

As indicated yesterday I started down a 4-5 week long relationship with my dentist that will cost a small fortune. But really though, I can buy a new smile and further eliminate eating my own teeth (old chipped porcelain off my old bridges - yum) for nearly $3600. Less expensive than most used cars I would consider and a used car (that I don't need) wouldn't last 20 years. I guess it's a deal!

I had a mouthful of problems with many years of orthodontia as a kid. When they realized that I would never lose my baby cuspids I was set up for bridgework when the braces came off at age 17 or so. 16 years later and they have seen better days. Not only do they look awful, but are losing their structural integrity. Because materials have advanced so much in the last decade (wheee! I love materials science for more reasons than just my career right now) I can now have all porcelain bridges, no more ugly metal.

So I am on the docket to receive in about 4.5 weeks two brand new, white, all porcelain bridges to replace the bridges replacing my missing cuspids. I figure this will amount to nearly 6-7 hours in the dental chair with the most pain probably having been yesterdays new front tooth. In addition to the two side bridges, my front tooth was horribly miscolored courtesy of my obsession to be a gymnast just like Nadia as a child. I whacked the tooth with my knee doing a front off a springboard and broke the root of the tooth. So over the last 10 years, it has started discoloring and for some reason bucking out a little more than the other. So yesterday it was filed down to a stump and a temporary attached while we wait for the new custom tooth to be made in a lab. What is frightening to me is how happy I was with the temporary over my old tooth yesterday. The shape isn't exactly perfect and the color is a shade off, but damn near close AND the offset is gone!

I know that as a kid early on I exhausted my lifetime dental benefit under my dad's insurance. We continued to plod on of course, what else can you do? But I truly wonder how much money has gone into my mouth. I also wonder what today's advances would have done for me. I wouldn't have bridges I am sure, I would have two implants instead. (Which I did want when recently discussing options, but it wasn't practical when I have 5 perfectly good "stumps".)

Leif and any future children can inherit any of my bad qualities, but PLEASE let them get AB's teeth!

Monday, April 10, 2006


is ...

Two new computers?


About $1 a day for the next 10 years to support a child in a 3rd world country?


A used car?


A fishing boat for AB?


A nice bedroom set?


Three epidurals?


70 pairs of $50 jeans?


About 10 big Costco trips?


About 30 grocery store trips?


A nice, used pop up camper?


A trip for the family to Europe for 10 days?


7 new teeth for NM's mouth?

Bingo! My portion, after my double insurance coverages pay theirs. Payable in full in 2.5 weeks. I think my shopping trip with V to Seattle has been pushed onto the back burner. I feel ill... and it isn't the Novocaine from the first tooth.

Annoying as hell

5 minutes to rant. Current Catalog sucks. I placed an order in early March for Easter stuff. It never arrived. Two and a half weeks after the order was placed I called to tell them. The very nice man on March 27th replaced the order for me and assured me it would be here within 2 weeks to arrive in time for Easter.

2 weeks later... no package. I called and this time managed to get the old bitchy hag who didn't get it. She kept telling me if I wanted a refund I would have to send both packages back. Well, yeah, sure... IF I HAD the damn packages I wouldn't be wanting a refund!

I gave up this weekend in either of them ever arriving and replaced all the Easter stuff I bought from Current at Target. Figuring IF the package arrived I would just send it back.

Oh and here's the kicker... the old bitchy hag tells me that it takes 2.5-3 weeks for shipments to arrive. So it shouldn't even be here until this Friday or next Monday. Umm, that would be after Easter correct? I asked her. She agreed that indeed Sunday is Easter and that my Easter stuff ordered back in early March could possibly not make it here until AFTER Easter.

Exactly who uses a shipping company that takes 2.5-3 weeks to ship (standard shipping) a package from Colorado to Washington? And I PAID for shipping! This isn't a "free shipping deal". I could have walked there in that time.

Current Catalog is no longer welcome in this household. (Added to the list of 1-800 Flowers, Blindsgalore and Four Seasons Nursery...) And I wonder where my son gets his stubbornness.

Leif and the climber

See the open area directly behind Leif? Yeah, that is now covered with duct tape. That is where the slide can fit on the other side to give a higher incline. But I can't believe they don't have an optional cross bar to block that off from daredevil toddlers like mine who think 3+ feet is about the same as 3 inches...

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A good weekend

Made even better by the glass of Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon I am enjoying and after a fantastic dinner of baked rigatoni, bruschetta and salad. Mmmm!

Saturday Leif and I got up... ok, Leif woke me up at 6:15am courtesy (I believe) of the time change last weekend. 6 nights later and Leif is rising at 6:15am consistently. (Crossing my fingers) I can deal with 6:15am. 6:30am would be ideal so I could get out for my run at 6am. But beggers can't be choosers!

It rained most of the day Saturday. Leif and I went to swimming class and he had a spectacular time. He was following directions well, kicking and blowing bubbles. Then we played in the water after the classes for a little while. The only drawback was that this month's class was absolutely huge and it made it difficult to move around in the circle.

Saturday afternoon we went to Target where I did my Easter bunny shopping (with much success) and then onto the grocery store for a small trip to stock up.

Today we got an amazing amount accomplished. To be honest, it was about 4 weekends worth of work I estimate given AB's current class status. We got the garden cleaned out, the side gardens cleaned, weeds pulled, old garden fabric pulled up. Yard trash from nearly two years ago that was in bins was bagged and hauled to the park where the city was collecting spring cleaning trash. AB hauled two loads in my 4Runner. Wow. The yard looks, well, acceptable! Once the lawn greens up, I get the garden in and start doing some more planting along the back fence (that I have sworn I would do for the last two summers), it will look even better.

The other big thing we got done was while Leif was napping we put together his climber. It went together surprisingly easy and Leif LOVES it. I can't say it enough. He LOVES it. He spent the entire afternoon outside sliding and climbing. He is a touch young for it, but that is good. he will grow into it and hopefully use it for a long time. He struggles to climb the rock wall to the top, hasn't even attempted the ladder side or the cargo net side (I don't think he realizes they can be used to get to the top). Then he goes down the slide (in the lower position) both forward facing and on his tummy and with his crawl through tube at the bottom.

I was feeling bliss as I sat in a chair, on my patio, glass of wine in my hand and magazine in the other as I watched him go up and down and then hide underneath in the "clubhouse". There was only one time I jumped up... when Leif stood at the one open area and started counting, "two, two THREE!" I knew that at that point he planned on sending his body propelling off the platform. I caught him, we marched in and got the duct tape and blocked that off. Then I returned to my glass of Reisling and my magazine. Bliss.

Leif and AB are wrestling in the "formal dining room" (aka playroom). 15 minutes until bathtime, then ba ba and storytime and then bed for the little boy. After that AB and I will hunker down in front of the TV with our glasses of wine to watch Sopranos and Big Love. I am loving Big Love - maybe even more than Sopranos this season.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Saved by the weekend

I have been dutifully sitting at my desk all afternoon working on my proposal. Well save for "a few" e-mails with V. I spent much of the afternoon searching the library and journals and then Google Scholar (love that) for background research to answer the question of "well why not just use this instead?" Not an easy task. And when one of my primary arguments is economics, it is even harder. Do you know how hard it is to find actual quotes on the internet on what something costs? Sheesh.

This morning I spent some time in the lab. My good PM has returned but I seem to have retained some of the duties he delegated to me during his absence. They are all minor things, but things I can put on my fact sheet that point to increased client interactions.

Leif's climber was shipped yesterday. It is a dauntingly huge box. So much so that AB didn't even open it when it arrived yesterday. I fully expected he would have it assembled by the time we got home. We will get that assembled and I expect one completely ecstatic boy on my hands.

I need to make a trip to Target for Easter goodies and a trip to the grocery store for a variety of things. Leif and I have swimming class tomorrow morning. Aside from all that we will be working hard on getting the backyard in shape.

Our trees are in fabulous bloom right now and things are starting to pop up. My chives have taken the opportunity to explode and I think I need to do some cooking with them.

I had been in a funk about yard work and gardening until the weather started changing. This last week Leif and I have spent much time outside. We fertilized the front yard... the backyard had to wait since I am not fertilizing doggy doo. I pulled some weeds. I still need to get copious amounts of bark mulch to augment what is sparsely covering the ground now.

I need to decide exactly what I am doing with the vegetable garden this year though. I am giving up on pumpkin growing and peppers. A coworker of mine and I used to dream of having giant pumpkin growing contests. I surrender. A basketball sized pumpkin cannot compete (and that was two years ago). And peppers... when they are so cheap at the farmer's market I don't know why I bother stressing over the spindly little twigs that drop their leaves and yield one pepper. Oh and edamame is out too. In Reno it rocked, here it withers. Plus, I can buy humongo bags of frozen edamame at Costco when I get the urge.

I need to focus on what I CAN do to have a satisfying garden. Tomatoes are prolific. Sunflowers too and they just raise my spirits. I loved sitting in my backyard the past few years and hearing people on the bike path comment on my behemoths. Cabbage is a go - we love fish tacos and they are the perfect summer dinner. And last year I actually did good with eating the zucchini I grew. Well who can't grow zucchini? What is that saying? Something about that it should be illegal to grow it because every neighbor gets sick of it?

Arugula is growing wild in my garden from my plantings nearly 4 years ago. Spinach and swiss chard are a must due to their heat tolerance. What else?

Of course before the fun part of planting comes the hard part... a rototiller rental, augmenting the soil with composted steer manure. Then cover it with fabric and THEN I can plant in my little holes in the fabric. My only fear is my toddler, who has already trampled a few rising tulips in the front garden.

The big project in the back yard will be the pergola and patio. We are hoping to extend the patio in May and even have a few sets of extra hands to help with the project. I see this as a must do this year. I am longing to sit on my patio, iced tea in one hand, book in the other and watch my son on his climber.

Ahhh springtime at last!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Jipped on my catch up week

This week was supposed to be my catch up week. I would estimate that 1/3 of the people in my area are taking the week off for Spring Break with their kids. Another good portion of people are at a conference in Hawaii. That leaves, in my estimate, less than half of us here actually working.

Even though I work a lot by myself now and have my own tasks, I was looking forward to this week of quietness. What happened? It is now Thursday and my schedule is as busy as any other week.

I did have today and tomorrow completely open to work on my proposal and finish up a few other things. That is until 4:30pm last night when I came back to my office after a meeting to a panicked phone call from one of my project managers about the data that a post-doc collected for us and e-mailed out. It sucked. This post-doc was hired for his expertise in Auger Electron Spectroscopy so that I didn't have to sit down and run the instrument and charge my exorbant charge out rate (about 2.5 times that of a post-doc). Of course the "logical" conclusion from my PM is for he and I to go down and once again sit with the post-doc for 2 hours today to collect data with him. He will run the instrument, I will direct him to how the data needs to be collected for good resolution and then the PM sits and watches and asks stupid questions because he has no experience with Auger. (Which was why I was brought on as a task lead.) So instead of the project being charged about $120 for 2 hours of post-doc time, it will be charged $640 for the three of us.

*Sigh* You might think this is my fault for not having a closer reign on this post-doc. I was starting to think that too. But after a meeting with his manager and being assured that I needed to just let him take the data, and reviewing the e-mail where I stated exactly what our needs were, I am no longer convinced it is me and I don't believe the PM believes that either. At least I hope not.


AB has an exam tonight and so he took the day off to study. Send good smart vibes his way. Leif is being his same silly self. This morning he and AB were wrestling on the couch and doing "This little piggy". Leif squeals and squirms away, but as soon as you stop he squeals "more" and sticks his feet up.

AB was also flying his finger in to tickle Leif's chest and saying "zzzzz". He loves that. Shortly after I was putting him in the car and he was taking his finger and saying "zzzz" flying it around. Silly me, I thought he was going to "zzzz" my chest. Nope... when I didn't take that as the cue that I was supposed to do it to him, he was none too pleased with me! Oops. What an assumption I made! I got a few "zzzz's" in and then we headed to work/daycare.

At daycare Leif has figured out how to open the door and this freaks me out. Yesterday twice he opened the door and wandered out. This morning he opened it to follow me out after I said bye. Yes, there are three teachers and they should see this and most of the time he is likely to just go to the train table to play or the kindergarten room to see the fish. Yet I can't help but be paranoid that he will open the door, no one will see him, he will wander down the hall, make the turn and down another hall and out the door. Extreme paranoia I am sure.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Corn on ze cob

Yay, a real and fresh vegetable Leif will eat, sorta. I have trouble thinking of corn as a vegie for some reason though. I think of it as a starch, which is probably why Leif loves it.

He has always liked corn, but the cob part ads a whole new level of fun. He had a half cob Sunday night and last night both. Last night when he saw it sitting on the stove he seriously freaked out and squealed "Coon, coon".

I was just so pleased. Pleased enough that I snapped a few pictures!

Yeah, so the meat went untouched...

Copyright violations, how wrong?

I went to eBay last night in search of The Jungle Book. Our VHS tape has seen better days (in addition to being limited to where I can play it as discussed yesterday). The top about 1/8 of the screen is messed up (slanted and weird colors). It is just an old videotape is what it comes down to.

So I went on a search last night for The Jungle Book DVD to replace the tape, once I assured myself that it IS locked deep in the depths of the Disney vault and not available anywhere, I cruised to eBay.

Wow, there I entered a new world of DVDs. I was shocked how many copies of The Jungle Book DVD there were and furthermore, how cheap many of them were. I started to become suspicious though when I noticed the very wide range of prices. Some $1.99, no bids and auctions ending, and some $25 without shipping, multiple bids, and auction ends in days. Why this discrepancy I started asking myself?

It was then that I was opened up to the market of pirated videos. I was looking at the comments of some of the sellers and there was clear indication from the comments that they were pirated or illegally produced with references to "strange cover art" and etc. Many sellers (ok, the majority of sellers) are not in the US and many are in Asian regions, but very willing to ship to the US.

This is something I am just not comfortable with. In fact, it makes me downright uncomfortable. When Star Wars Episode 3 came out and I was bemoaning the fact that I could not (or would not as the case may be) go to the theater to see it because I had an infant at home. Yes, I could have gone, but it just wasn't *that* important to me even though I had seen all 5 others on the opening weekend. Yes, even the first one when I was 5 years old... we went to Denver and stood in line for the opening weekend. I remember it well.

Anyways, back to the story, I was whining to my coworkers about breaking the cycle of not seeing it in theaters when I was offered the opportunity to view it in my home. I was shocked actually, that two nameless people I work with, who if convicted of a crime with a penalty of over $200 could lose their jobs were in possession of very early bootleg copies. Ok, so they didn't come out and say this, one person put it like this, "I will leave an unlabeled DVD out on the counter when you come by to take care of my cat, if you are interested, take it home and watch it".

Sure enough, the DVD was there when I stopped by to bring the mail in and feed the cat. I wasn't even tempted, I walked by feeling halfway annoyed. I got a third offer, and far more open offer from my sister a few weeks later. She didn't care who knew, offered to send it to me and I politely declined.

So for about an hour last night I stressed over purchasing The Jungle Book DVD online. I examined sellers comments, looking for any indication of illegally produced videos, I read their statements about the video and I sought out sealed DVDs with the security label still intact and the original mail in rebate indicated inside. Sure, all this can be produced fraudulantly, but why? When there is obviously a market out there for pirated DVDs.

I finally convinced myself that if I really wanted the DVD, and I did, that I could just do my best to make sure what I was bidding on was legit and that if I was unhappy for any reason I could return it for a refund. I found a seller with 5000+ sales, 100% positive rating (however that is possible with 5000+ sales), an expensive DVD, showing the actual seal in the picture and indication of an enclosed rebate, and a statement that if the DVD was found to be produced fraudulantly that they would return the money and pay for shipping. I bid on it and then also bid on their Little Mermaid DVD with all the same listed information.

Now after all that I better win the auctions!!

All of this takes me back to the whole Disney vault concept. This just ticks me off. Kids are little for such a short time. When The Jungle Book was on DVD in 1999, I wasn't even married and definitely not thinking about the child I would have 5 years later and that my VHS tape would be crap by then. What other Disney DVDs have I missed out on that I might want?

What a scam! I can only assume that the DVDs that are authentic and selling for nearly $30 on eBay were purchased in bulk by those savvy business type people who were hoping to turn a profit at a later date from parents like myself who "need" these DVDs for their children. Yeah, yeah, I bought into it. (Or am hoping to win an auction enabling me to buy into it.)

Is this Disney vault concept really that profitable to Disney? Or is it more profitable for bootleggers? I have to admit that once I actually get the coveted DVD I will hesitate even opening it. It is a collector's item now. Yeah, yeah, about like I hesitated in putting the circa 1980 Little People Farm collection in front of Leif after I won it on eBay...

But for those parents out there who are really just looking for the movie to pop in for their kids, the movie that they loved as kids. And who don't care to put out nearly $30 for the authentic DVD so as to "insure" that the movie was not illegally produced as long as they could get it for $10... Can I really blame them? No, not really.

After all, I sat there for an hour last night telling myself, "but it's just a movie for a little kid who is only this age for a limited time".

Monday, April 03, 2006

More about Leif!

So let's see, that comment about Leif not asking to be changed and so therefore he isn't ready to potty train... I spoke too soon. As of this weekend, when he goes poop, we ask him if he went, then he goes immediately in to his bedroom and lays down on the floor to be changed. Of course once there you have exactly 10 seconds to get the job done before he decides you aren't joining him and he should play instead.

I am feeling tossed up on this right now because he seems so young still. And he is a boy. And I don't want to push the issue only to have him push back and end up having a bad experience. So I am trying to balance between encouraging him without pushing.


AB and I are oh so tired of Nemo. Not only can AB and I recite it all, but Leif is starting to as well. This weekend he told me a number of times, "I'm Nemo". (And if you tell him back, "No, I'm Nemo", he thinks you are the funniest thing ever.) He likes to "speak whale" and he does speak whale to the "biggest tail of all" page in Tails. And the part where Nemo becomes part of the tank gang? Leif likes to "ooh ah ah" right along with the gang and squeal when Nemo successfully swims through the ring of fire.

I am laughing at the "I'm Nemo" bit since I renamed myself Ernie when I was a kid. I truly wanted everyone to call me Ernie. When they didn't I was always excessively disappointed. I do remember my grandfather bought into this wholeheartedly though.

So in an attempt to give Nemo the boot, at least temporarily, we bought A Bug's Life at Costco. I thought it was sure to grab his attention, it has to be the Pixar animation, doesn't it? Apparently NOT. And the third attempt at Brother Bear also failed miserably, complete with a crying, screaming tantrum. Spoiled child.

I have tried Tivo'ing a few TV shows with limited success. Teletubbies is favored, but Little Einsteins has shown indication of some acceptance (mommy and daddy REALLY are gunning for Little Einsteins). Bob the Builder was a flop and even though I can do Teletubbies, I seem to have a real block with The Wiggles. I hate it. Leif seemed halfway interested. But this is also compounded by the fact that it is opposite Sesame Street in the mornings and is only available at that time. So I am sending the Wiggles packing.

Leif still really likes Baby Einstein videos thankfully. And I like their 30 minute running time. But for those occasions when I need him occupied with something other than hanging from my legs for 1 hour (like at 5:15am and he is up, or while I am cooking dinner) it appears that I am stuck with Nemo for the time being.

Oh, I should state though that Leif does really like "Bearcities" (aka Jungle Book - Bear Necessities). However, I only have this on VHS, which means the 13" TV in our bedroom since we have long abandoned the VCR on our main TV. So can I just say that I *hate* Disney's whole "vault" racket? Hate it. Sell the freakin' videos all the time! OK? (I fully expect it will make its next emergence from "the vault" when Leif is 13.)


So my Monday has been hectic to say the least and I have gotten little accomplished. I have been continually interrupted by panicked phone calls for one thing or another. I was looking forward to the quietness of parents being gone for spring break and the other half of the area scientists and engineers being in Hawaii at a specialty conference. Yeah, they are all gone, but that means that us saps left behind are responsible for picking up the pieces of whatever was neglected with the mass exodus.

And I just got a phone call from my PLM telling me to wrap up a proposal I have been writing off and on now for a few months. (More off than on.) With it not having a deadline, it has been shoved back to my backburner. I told her I would have it done by April 30th. Now to sit down and mark off my calendar to reflect this.