Thursday, June 29, 2006

10 Realizations

The talk of “jobs” in the e-mails from a few profs? Yeah, that was jobs for their students here, with me. Or without me, but here where I work. Realization #1, that working here is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for many.

So I am struggling right now to establish my own program here and get a good, reliable, consistent source of funding going. Realization #2 that academia would be a much harder battle, for the same exact thing with added balking from coworkers that I need to pick up my child at 5pm from daycare.

Reno… ahh yes, Reno. The glitz, the glamour, the good food, the national forest on the edge of town, Lake Tahoe, skiing, the shopping (ohhh… the shopping at the NEW mall…). Realization #3, Reno, ahh yes, Reno, the cigarette smoke in the grocery stores, non-existence of non-smoking restaurants, the gambling culture, private school until age 18 since no school bonds ever pass and schools suck rocks, the forest fires where the smoke fills in the valley, teaching at a university with the highest drop out rate in the US…

The professors I adored, who dropped everything to answer my question or sign a form? I love them. I could so fit into their network. Realization #4, the in fighting and bickering kills me, in my 3 days there I was privy to the last four years of who is the bigger snake in the grass… and they will never see me as anything but a former student.

The restaurants are so much better in Reno… and I love good food, especially sushi. Realization #5, that new little sushi shop here in town that just went in apparently? From first exposure appears to knocks the socks off Kyoto (which btw, has apparently taken a nosedive recently since the manager was rolling sushi).

In NM’s mind, “Oh, there is that fellow from the lab, I could never approach him, plus he is there with his wife, I will leave them alone.” Realization #6, they actually WANTED to have meals with me, we have an amazing amount in common and that I have new friends now. Oh, and fellows are human too… and therefore not immune from food poisoning courtesy of the banquet in his own honor. (I hope it doesn’t hurt me professionally that I introduced his wife to Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma… he needs to get her out more often! I mean who doesn’t know about PB and WS??)

Will Leif even notice I am gone? He is so into daddy right now. Daddy does everything. “Daddy funny”, “Daddy play”, "Daddy shovel", “Daddy outside”, “Howp daddy”, “Daddy toot” (Ok, so I don’t want the last one.) Realization #7, my son needs me and missed me terribly. Oh, and so did my husband.

I have to buy Leif things to make up for being gone. He will love the shark shirt, the elephant puzzle, the Cookie Monster cookies, the cow (or pow) soap and the backpack. Realization #8, presents really are just an extra, he just wanted me. Except maybe the Cookie Monster cookies…

I just want to stick my nose in my book on the flight and read. Don’t make eye contact with the person next to you on the plane, they might want to talk. Realization #9, you never know who you end up sitting by, he might offer your husband a job!

Wanderlust? Anywhere but here? Realization #10, this is a neat place, our friends are here, I have a good job. It is damn hot, but that makes the produce and the wine taste even better. Living here the rest of my life? There are worse places.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Is this what I have? Is "wanderlust" my problem? I am wondering if it is just that time of year when I want to go somewhere, anywhere, far from here. Or if it is a permanent feeling that ebbs and flows and is associated with "this place".

I am traveling on Sunday, so it doesn't seem as though I should be feeling it so strong. I am so excited to go to Reno. Enough excited that I am feeling like a bad mom (episode #2 today) because I am not only looking forward to it, but looking forward to a "me" break.

My mom and stepdad are going to Alaska in August and I am insanely jealous. I provided a recent list with links of everywhere they have to go (dining, attractions, even my favorite grocery store). I then whined to my mom that putting all that info together just made me want to go with them.

It isn't just Alaska. I was thinking the other dayback to my trip to Colorado last summer with fondness. What they say about distance makes the heart grow fonder... totally true. It was a really hard trip, both in dealing with family and handling a one year old on my own, but I hardly remember that now! Right about now if I had the time off available I would do it again. My mom's neighborhood pool is calling my name.

Then I think about Hawaii. now that's a vacation. Or just GIVE me two days in San Francisco. (AVS conference 2007, here I come!)

But would travel cure me? Or is it a more deep rooted dissatisfaction with this region. Whenever someone mentions to me the possibility of jobs elsewhere, my mind starts rolling. Would I move back to Reno given an opportunity? Alaska? Anywhere else but here?

Since the time I was about 13, I have moved nearly exactly every five to six years. From Wyoming to Fort Collins, CO at 13. When I was 19 I moved to Boulder to go to school. At 24 I moved to Reno. Age 30 here. I am nearing that typical move point. I don't think of myself as restless. I really like the idea of settling down somewhere for life. But what would that take? What exactly are our requirements? This place isn't out of the running. It is near the top given the quality schools, the job potentials for me, and our friends are here. But wow I miss the mountains. I miss shopping. I miss good food.

Today I have found myself far less dissatisfied with work here. I think the past few weeks of waiting for things to happen and prodding people like stubborn cows, leaves far too much time for me to think what if and scan the job ads and read (probably way too far) into a few requests from old profs (one who is retiring) to meet when I come to town for the conference on Sunday. (Five copies of my CV arepacked... just in case.)

Nope, today I have been busy, I have been reassured of my future position on 3 of my 4 projects for next fiscal year. So things are looking good and my major fear of having to go to my manager and tell her I need work has been postponed. What does the future hold? I don't want a crystal ball, I love surprises. Just a hint please.

Oh yes, bad mom move #1. AB dresses Leif in the mornings and this morning I overheard him on the monitor talking about cutting off some of Leif's pants. I take off RUNNING to Leif's room. I explain that he will NOT be cutting off Leif's pants. I bought a number of those jeans from Gymboree and Gap and they are not cheap. Whereas I can pick up a pair of shorts from Target for $2.99 that are "play" clothes he can wear to daycare. So since *I* have not done laundry this week, because *someone* didn't tell me Leif was running out of clothes, he had no shorts today. Bad mom move #1 - pulling out the single pair of "not visibly dirty" pair of shorts from the laundry basket and toss them to AB to put on Leif.

Yes, my kid is in already worn shorts today. Trip toTarget for new play shorts for daycare is first on the agenda tomorrow. After that a trip to Costco only because I am feeling neglected being that AB only goes lately since he can go during the day. I love that place. A BBQ to attend Saturday afternoon where I will be watching Leif like a hawk. One of the other children at the BBQ is NOT socialized at all and has a history of plain being mean. And he is big. One of my coworkers and I have a pact to watch Leif and his daughter like hawks, lest one of them gets clocked upside the head with a chair courtesy ofDuncan-the-Wild. I really despise that child. How can such nice, sincere, friendly people have such a wild beast for a child?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Just your typical day

Miss Pink just kills me. She did wear grey today, but those fingernails! LONG and hot pink. Ok, so telecon got a little boring today. 33 pages of presentations from one person. While I would have liked to be doing something else during this time, my PM saves me a seat beside him since I have a laptop. That way he can see the presentations as needed on a computer screen instead of his crappy print-outs. So, alas, I can’t really sit and do other things. Miss Pink on the other hand is a doodler. I used to be a doodler too. So given this I am more interested in what exactly she is doodling. Something elaborate, weirdly shaped, OMG is that a point sticking out there? It is looking quite, umm… phallic with those ridges near the end! Oh wait. No, no… she is looking at something next to me as she draws. Eyes up and back down and doodle, up down doodle. What is she drawing? (She obviously sucks at drawing since I couldn’t figure it out…) I scan around me, in front of me and then I see it! She is drawing our PM’s cell phone. (The sticky outty thing was the antenna.) Just weird.

AB “gets” to go in the water tomorrow night at sailing. He calls me and tells me that they will be capsizing and recovering the boats! And he says it with such gusto and enthusiasm. Sounds like so much fun… gee darn I don’t get to go. (If I was speaking you would note no enthusiasm whatsoever with tipping boats over.) Nope, instead C is coming over to visit Leif and I and then V is bringing over burritos after she finishes wine tasting (but not swallowing the wine). I would have such a problem with that. I have decided my role in the wine industry is best suited as a consumer.

My annoyance level has been high today. First there is contracts, still dealing with them. Then there is the dope in the conference room behind me who repeatedly tried to use the door to my office to get out, ripping the picture Leif painted me, despite the sign I put on there in 90 point font that says “NOT AN EXIT”. Then there is the vendor who will not return my call and apparently they are the only ones in the US who produce this particular detector. Then there is the A/C tech who was doing his routine maintenance of our heating and air conditioning units last night and “forgot” to put the fuse to the A/C unit back in. Do you know how much whining can come out of one Alaskan husband when the heat hits 80F? Ok, I must apparently be an honorary Alaskan, I was the one who pointed out that it was 81F in the house and wtf is up with that?

AB worked on the patio project since the lake is gone today. I am getting really anxious to have a big concrete patio and not a mud pile. We are about a week behind with the project thanks to the recent downpours. So I figure with the 4th of July weekend coming up there is no way I will have my patio before mid-July. *sigh* Oh well.

No idea still on what we are doing for the 4th. We had a great last year over on the coast at my in laws cabin. But after camping this weekend, my leaving for Reno this weekend, the thought of driving 5 hours each way just makes me exhausted. Who knows. Maybe we will though.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Camping and Leif funnies

This past weekend we camped at Mount Rainier National Park. We had planned nearly up until the last minute (which would be 1 weeks time to an analytical) to go to Mount St. Helens. When the weather started to look possibly ‘touch and go’ we started searching for different options. The weather may not have been any better, but we decided to swap out for Ohanacepash campground mainly due to the number of short nearby trails (Grove of the Patriarchs and the Hot Springs trail) that the kids could handle. Also the fact that the interpretive center was 21 miles away as opposed to 200 miles or so away from the campground at Mount St. Helens we were eyeing. St. Helens will be a fantastic trip to do when the kids are a little older and car time is tolerable knowing there is an active volcano on the other end.

It was obviously the point where the rangers are starting to expect mass overload of national park visitors and campers. The campground was maybe 25% full and it seemed as though there was one ranger for every six campers. Which meant we got one completely to ourselves. It wasn’t the same “one” everytime. But between the 15 or so who wandered by we were kept up to snuff with our campground policies. Coolers were snagged at one point by a ranger (we should have had them stored in cars), a chipmunk got stuck inside the picnic shelter (which was so sad), Winny wasn’t on a leash in the campground (the dog that patrols the campsite perimeter and would have to be hauled from our side crying than leave her “pack” – i.e., us). It just felt like if it wasn’t one thing, it was another. We were under the ranger’s microscope and we found it rather irritating. I have never been camping where seeing a ranger would set me on edge. Park rangers have always been our friends, and reasonable people. Then again, it isn’t everyday that we opt to camp in a national park either.

There isn’t a whole lot to say other than Leif and Winny loved it. I enjoyed it too. I particularly enjoyed watching Leif and seeing his constant smile. He was so cranky when he woke up on Sunday afternoon from a 3 hour nap and found us pulling into our neighborhood. Camp life was behind us and returning to civilization is not what he wanted to do. Winny either. If it was up to those two we would be wild beings that never set foot inside. Certainly if we can pick raspberries and cherries in our backyard we could survive, can’t we? I am sure Winny would kick up the chipmunk harassment to hunting in order to provide food for us all.

The return to civilization was good for Leif though. I think the camping might have relaxed him. We went to daycare on Monday, walked into his room and was promptly greeted by his teachers! He put his lunch away himself, put his lunchbox up, showed me the bins where his blanket goes and put it away and then gave me a quick kiss as he headed off to play. Wow, the difference! I can’t help but believe that part of it was him feeling welcome and like he belonged in the environment after his teachers actually greeted him.

AB had his first sailing class last night and loved it. I am so happy that he is so excited about these classes. I only feel bad that it is going to be stressful for him next week with trying to get to sailing class and leaving Leif to play with C during this time since I will be in Reno. (And stressful on V!) I really, really hope he behaves well, and thanks in advance V! We so owe you.

Leif is growing and learning leaps and bounds right now. He just amazes me all the time. A Leif funny… Leif wanted nothing to do with hot dogs. Ok, so meat in general is not Leif’s strong suit. But I remembered someone talking about octopus hot dogs. Sure enough, cut the hot dog to look like an octopus and we have a whole different ball game. Now he requests octopus for dinner!

The stall tactics are setting in. When he doesn’t want to do something he finds something else to stall it with. The favorite has become reading, and I fully believe it is because Leif knows it is my weakness. I *cannot* tell him, “no I am not going to read you a book” whereas I can tell him “No more computer Elmo” or “No more choo choos”. Nope, him bringing me a book from his bedroom with gusto squealing “read dis!” fully results in my complying with his request. Push over = me.

The one good thing about this is that books are also becoming Leif’s favorite thing to do without me. He reads “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?” by himself. Of course he doesn’t read the “I see a X Y looking at me”. It is only the “first phrase” on each page, then flip page. Oh and “What do you see” is more like “Wa-oo-see”. Enter the Clifford Animal Sounds book. He flips it open, squeals HORSE! And then says “horse, horse wa-oo-see?” and “cat cat wa-oo-see”. Obviously whatever animal is on the page then wa-oo see.

Leif also really likes singing. He is getting very good at Twinkle Twinkle. My favorite the other day was “Twinkle twinkle lito tars, ow-I (mumble mumble) ARE. Up a bove high, diamon sky, twinkle twinkle lito tars, E-I-E-I-O”.

Lately daddy is Leif’s number one. AB will NEVER get away with anything again. “Daddy get toes”, “Daddy toot”, “Daddy silly”, “Daddy make supper”. But tonight Leif also figured out something new about Daddy… that he has a name and it is easy to pronounce and gets his attention when you yell it across the house!

Camping Pictures

Crossing a very scary bridge at the Grove of the Patriarchs

What doesn't everyone dance while camping?

Mommy and Leif

The first roasted marshmallows

Picture Time - Spokane

Finally. Here are some of my favorite pictures from our trip to Spokane.
The River Park

The tram to see the Spokane Falls

Kissing mommy over the falls

A choo choo!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Poking the nukes and other joys of science

I am sitting here reviewing a proposal, on my own time of course, but out of the kindness of my heart for the good of the advancement of science. No really, I am. I am thinking really hard about it. Thank goodness I am good at math. They picked the right person for this review in that regard since so many of my coworkers croak at the sight of extensive equations in documents. Furthermore, this proposal is “out there” for this particular call. I suppose they figure if they submit to an agency that seats a number of nuclear engineers and nuclear physicists they are guaranteed that no one will scoop them (now there’s an idea…) and it will get funded out of the sheer “wow” factor.

No one would WANT to scoop this proposal, but unfortunately for them, most nuclear physicists or engineers also hate to happen upon something that they don’t readily comprehend or would require them to pull a very dusty book off the shelf. There is some level of ego (read, “huge ego”) that is inherent in the fields of nuclear physics and nuclear engineering. Most nukes that I know pride themselves on hearing statements that compare their field to the brightest minds in the world. What they don’t do is deal well with technical material being placed in front of them that they don’t get, or heaven forbid, implications that electrons are where all the interesting stuff happens… color is a wonderful thing you see... For the typical nuke, defensiveness substitutes for insecurity, rapid fire questioning sets in, and the need to take something, anything, back to the nucleus of an atom is imperative. Examples:

“You are due July 22? The gestational period of a human female may well be true within a certain degree of error, but you can’t argue the decay chain of Cs-137. How would you detect that and what is the branching ratio? Branching ratios have no error associated with them, that is exact science, the only exact science.”

Or the ever present wow the non-nuke by asking them if they know exactly how much Am-241 is in the typical smoke detector… oh but your point had nothing to do with smoke detectors? Too bad, let’s talk about the characteristics of Am-241 as an alpha source AND a gamma source. Now there’s versatility packaged in a neat little device that they sell at the grocery store! Just in case you ever find yourself in the middle of a grocery store with a need to calibrate your detector, of course…

Ok, so enough poking the nuke guys and girls. Oh ha, oops, my error, do over. Enough poking the nuke guys and back to the proposal.

I typically find some comfort in math. Of course I am on page 2 of 17. Ask me again on page 15. I still am not sure how I finagled myself onto this list of proposal reviewers… it isn’t my field of training (although I worked in the field as a post-doc), it is at the federal level. I keep thinking I should e-mail them and say, “I am not sure I am who you think I am” or just flat out inquiring if I am fulfilling their quota to have a diverse review committee.

Yep, that’s me, the pessimist who hears these thoughts in my head… I don’t really deserve the “honor” bestowed upon me to review this proposal. Me, making these types of decisions? Having input on what gets funded and what doesn’t? These poor people poured their hearts and souls into this proposal, I can’t say anything bad about it. This guy probably has 20 years on me in both age and experience, I am sure he can do what he says. They won’t really read my comments will they? How long can I put this off?

Self-confidence? Mine went on a hiatus after grad school. It wasn’t immediate. It was eroded away through my crappy post-doc experience. (Which I don’t need to speak anymore about here.) Suffice it to say that it is obvious that my true calling was not nuclear physics as proven by my lack of self-confidence.

I was starting to feel better about where I was in my career and what was going on after landing a major proposal with a Co-PI, however I was the concept originator. I moved out of the nuclear group and into a much more appropriate group of chemists and biologists and I got promoted. However, I was placed on the trace organic team, which is only a touch closer to my true expertise and calling than nuclear physics, mostly in that I once took an organic chemistry class or two. I was feeling good about things.

Then I had my goals meeting with my team lead recently who starts out by saying, “Well NM, I am glad to have you on my team, however, I have to admit that I am still not sure I understand why you left the nuke group, especially given that your funded proposal is in their realm”. I muster up some drivel about how I couldn’t compete with the nuclear physicists, I was stagnated and why would someone ask me to work on their projects instead of a real nuke? (I don’t delve into the depths.) He shrugs and replies, but you were busy, and you have obviously proven you can compete when you landed the proposal.

Hasta la vista self confidence.

I believe my leaving my former group was a good idea. No more working with a bunch of sexist pigs, err, I mean nuclear guys. But now I work by myself for a large part. My team lead doesn’t understand what I do. My manager is nice, new, and I never ever see her because she deems me self-sufficient, in other words, I don’t bug her to help me find work and I am not a “management issue”. My mentor calls me “versatile”, but reminds me that versatility can be bad. Versatility = one damn expensive technician.

As my return to Reno is pending and I know I will spend a lot of time talking with former professors answering a lot of questions that will arise. In my own head I am trying to work the answers out. My advisor initially advised me against taking the post-doc here and instead spending more time searching for something where my expertise was more pertinent. But the noble part of me wanted a crack at saving the world from terrorists one atom at a time. What American scientist didn’t start thinking of their own research in terms of “could this help in searching for the people who funded 9-11”? Part of me wishes I would have listened. What would that post-doc in Fairbanks have been like? What if I would have given NREL or LANL a little more time? In the long run, things have worked out super for me here. I am nearing my 5 year mark where I vest in a pension fund (that will likely disappear), I will have 4 weeks vacation a year, I was able to buy a house as a post-doc. But do you find my name in journals? If you know the nuke journals, you might find it in a place or two. Can I do my work without TORI sitting next to me? Nope.

How do I answer the questions my professors will ask about my career? I have heard from fellow grad students behind me that I am the shining example that is held up to many incoming grad students at my small alma mater (do they still call grad schools alma maters?) Not one of the slackers or I mean, students that is still floating around from post-doc to post-doc, or skiing at Lake Tahoe on the trust fund, or the more typical and quite appealing right now positions like taking a community college teaching position, or settling into one of many industry positions

What if?

(And I really am reviewing this proposal…)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Friday finally

I am out of here in about 2 hours. Off to pick up Leif at that point, with hopefully a brief hiatus in the school's office before making my way down to his room to retrieve him. I am having serious issues with the two other teachers (not his teacher) in his room right now and the toddler director is going to hear about it. I called AB after I got in, forcing back the tears.

Leif ran straight to his old room again, then wailed and screamed that he couldn't go in. I carried him to his new room where two of the teachers were sitting in the back cutting up pieces of paper whispering. Not another child in sight, which isn't uncommon on Fridays. We went over and put Leif's lunch away, tried to get him to surrender the lunchbox, talked about seeing the rabbits, etc. All the while the two teachers sat whispering and cutting paper in the back of the room.

Finally I yell out, "hello everybody". They look up and say "hi". "Thanks", I reply to them, "I am not comfortable with just leaving him in a room where he isn't acknowledged." Then Miss Kaitlyn (his teacher) walks in and scoops him up to go look at rabbits. I left with tears in my eyes out of anger and knowing exactly why Leif doesn't like going to his new room. He doesn't feel welcomed. Yes, there are probably other issues he is working through with the transition. But this shit has to stop.

No one can convince me it is just the environment of the room, the quietness of the room. It is plain rude not to say hello. People don't come into (or even just walk by) my office without getting a smile and "hello". And I am "shy".

Ok, now that I got that off my chest! We are headed out to go camping this weekend at Rainier. AB is thrilled about it and is packing our things as I write this. I find myself, as I get older, being less enthused about camping. I like my creature comforts. I like my comfortable bed, I like my shower, I like my kitchen with soap and hot water sans copious numbers of bugs. I enjoy being in the outdoors, I enjoy going for hikes and being in areas that aren't convenient for a day trip. But my need for comfort is increasing as every year goes by.

I never thought I would find myself saying this. I have loved camping my entire life and used to make fun of people who "camped" in RVs. But I am starting to think that's where it's at. Last year our goal was to get a travel trailer or pop up camper to make camp life more comfortable. Unfortunately we also took a few major monetary hits with a variety of things like my teeth, needing a new computer, AB being layed off, etc. And the purchase has been put off indefinitely.

I am trying to keep a positive outlook and not dwell on wondering how comfortable I am really going to be sleeping, or trying to keep the mosquitos (which I am *sure* all have West Nile) off Leif, and trying to keep Leif away from the fire. I am remembering the positives, like staying in a gorgeous national park with some wonderful hikes nearby. Like sitting around the campfire, after the kids have gone to bed, with good friends and good alcohol. Like seeing my husband in his element, outdoors. And sharing natures wonders with my son, establishing memories for him to think back about when he was just a little boy and going camping. I think about these things and realize how incredibly selfish my need for comfort really is.

(But next year we are getting a tent trailer of some sort!)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

File this one under...

funny now with potentially embarrassing ramifications later.

Leif is learning what a "toot" is, which I prefer to use over the word "fart". I hate that word. Last night we were in the kitchen when AB "toots". He gets the typical eyeroll from me. But Leif's face lights up, he cracks up laughing and just starts howling "DADDY toot!" like it is the funniest thing EVER.

Well unfortunately for AB his gaseous episodes continue throughout the evening, courtesy of the canned chili he ate for lunch? Gag. This also meant that the comic relief from AB's MiniMe was also nonstop. And no, he can't just acknowledge "daddy toot", he has the full on, little boy, bust up laughing until you have tears rolling down your cheeks, gasp for air and squeal "DADDY toot!" down pat.

Apparently this is something I missed out on as a little girl, the world where farts are actually funny. Now I get to "enjoy" them from a whole new perspective. As the mom of a little boy. And yes, I have heard all the stories about what you can "do" with farts, courtesy of my husband... lighters will remain hidden until my children are 30.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

How about a little sand in your ear?

Apparently Leif wasn't asked. Or if he was he didn't intelligently respond "no thank you".

His teacher called this morning to let me know that another child threw sand at Leif and it went in his ear, deep. They are not allowed to put anything into the child's ear and so therefore she called me. And I called the nurse. And the nurse left a message for me while I was in a meeting. And I called her back.

The verdict is to irrigate with a 50:50 mix of water and H2O2. And she suggested we do it because it will probably go a whole lot better if we tackle this than if we bring him in to have it done "since he IS a two year old". Lovely.


So the drop off went a little better this morning. Only in the fact though, that Leif was not screaming when I left. We went in and Leif went running straight to his old room. I told him no, we are going to your new room. He started with the "no, no" again and so we went off to the side to talk a little (as much as you can talk to a nearly 2 year old) about that we will be going into the new room and his friends are all arriving. About then Miss Michelle walks by and asks him what is going on. Leif has a crush on Miss Michelle and I really think the feeling is mutual.

Wonderful Miss Michelle drops everything and suggests that they go out and feed the rabbits. Leif is thrilled by this prospect and is a little disappointed when I don't join them, but he walks off with thoughts of bunnies in his head.

This is something that irritates me about his two new teachers. The room Leif is in, has the worst reputation in the entire school. Complaints of "it's too quiet" and "the teachers lack personality in there" are all around. We don't have a choice of rooms and for the 2-3 year olds, this is it. We aren't dissatisfied enough to leave, we still love the progran, but what is really starting to bug me (after a whole 3 days) is that when I walk in the two teachers who are there (not Miss Kaitlyn, Leif's teacher, she isn't in when we drop off most of the time), say nothing. No "HI Leif, how are you!" or "would you like to work on this over here". Nothing. They stand and look, with blank stares on their faces.

I told AB this morning after this drop of that I am speaking to the toddler coordinator about this. The two teachers are not making any effort to engage Leif when he walks into the room. No wonder he doesn't want to be there. I wouldn't either. AB encouraged me first to give it a full week. If come Monday, things are still going bad, to go to the head teacher and talk to her about it. If things still don't improve then go to the toddler coordinator. He is probably right, but I guess I am just used to more. And I frankly don't care that they are "shy" people. I am a shy person too. You compensate, you overcome it, you are in charge of people's children, convince us that you actually might like the kids.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sleep good, drop off bad

Leif was out of the tub last night at 7:35pm and down fast asleep about 15 minutes later. And wake up this morning was nearly 6am. The kid has been eating like a horse and apparently needs more sleep than he was getting. Growth spurt?

You know the daycare drop offs aren't going well when you get an e-mail from a coworker saying, "When I dropped off A at 9am, Leif was having a little better day than yesterday". And I hadn't told her that yesterday was particularly bad... Yes, when another parent e-mails to reassure you unsolicited, while it is supposed to be good, it doesn't always come off so.

We walked in the room and Leif immediately started with the no ways. I chatted with a friend outside the room once I pulled myself away from Leif. After I few minutes I was happy to hear that the Leif screams were no longer.

I got Leif signed up for TumbleBus this morning and was happy I did. They moved TumbleBus day to Tuesday instead of Monday. So since I wasn't a slacker in getting his permission slip turned in, he got to go tumble this morning! I can't wait to hear how it went.


Father's Day is Sunday. This year with AB layed off, we have reigned ourselves in a little bit since we are unsure what the future holds. AB did get what he considers to be the best present though, sailing lessons twice a week through Parks and Rec. He is so excited to start. I picked up a couple other things... which I would normally post here, but since he reads on occasion I won't. This year has been particularly bad for keeping presents a secret. The sailing lessons couldn't be a secret. Then there was the Star Wars episodes 4-6 on DVD that were mistakingly left out on the counter. I am blaming grandma, she was supposed to put them under "her bed", in fact, I saw her start off in that direction with them. Then there is the still somewhat mysterious box that arrived in the mail from "Saltworks"... *sigh*

Someday, Father's Day will be a complete surprise!

This weekend will be the inaugural camping trip of the year. I can't talk about last year's camping trip per AB's request to "let's just forget it, please". (Stomach flu, tent, Father's Day... that's all I will say.) We are crossing our fingers that this trip to Mount Rainier will put the last camping trip completely out of mind. We have a few hikes with the kids, investigations of local hot springs planned and car camping our style... wine, great food, air mattress, big tent and between the 4 of us, all the amenities one could want. (Except of course for a shower, and no AB, hot springs are not better than a shower.)

Monday, June 12, 2006

A nice weekend

This past weekend we reveled in not having anyone visiting! We love it when people come visit, we really do. But after awhile it just gets tiring hosting people (my grandma) in your own house. So this weekend was just us.

We were going to venture out to dinner on Friday with Leif given how good he was in Spokane the week before. I was excited for this new adventure throughout the week, then the day came and getting take out Mexican just sounded a whole lot easier.

Saturday we worked on cleaning the house, picking cherries and just hanging out. After nap we went to Target where among other things (a new pool and water shoes) Leif got a bike horn for his running stroller. This was from Jo's recommendation a few days ago to "trick out" his stroller. It is true, with kids, you will never be more joyous, or more embarrassed.

Leif "needed" the bike horn I tossed into the cart at Target. Much to my dismay within second of holding it in his grubby little hands he had figured out the honk mechanism. *sigh* Yes, through the entire Target shopping trip we honked multiple times at every passerby. (And Target is a big Saturday afternoon hangout apparently.) To the people he scared, sorry. To the family that glared and sneered at us, f-off. You had two kids standing there, they were 2 at some point. Tell me really that you would have really rather listened to him wail at the top of his lungs about not having the horn than the "honk honk" you were forced to endure.

We made it through Target and headed to K&V's house for dinner with them, their parents and their neighbors A&M. We had a really nice time. Leif and C are to the point where they don't just play along by themselves side by side, they interact. And the two of them together are quite the whirlwind of energy, laughs and (unfortunately) destruction. (Still sorry about the wallpaper border...)

Sunday we went for a hike up a local hill and then to the playground. Leif loves the slides and got hooked on the "big kids" slides. However, we did discover that twirly slides are too confusing for him, not to mention frightening for helpless mom standing on the sidelines. Leif was a horrible crank on Sunday and so after getting him down for a nap we resolved to not wake him. Usually we take Dr. Sears and daycares advice and not let him sleep beyond 3pm. We figured he needed the sleep. He got up refreshed at 3:30pm and sat quietly for the webcam with grandma. It is usually not in Leif's nature to be so silent during webcam.

Last night, AB made a great dinner. Filets with a potato gallette and swiss chard. Not too bad for you until the Swiss chard... AB cooked it with mushrooms in bacon grease. Ok, delish, but so, so bad.

Leif went down to sleep 15 minutes earlier than normal, very willingly, nearly begging for bed. However, I was not rewarded with any sleeping in. Instead he was up at 5:15am. Grrr.

This morning was really hard. Leif moved up to his new room and was not happy about being dropped off in his new room. After we found his cubby with his picture attached, it dawned on him what was going on. Suddenly his eyes filled with tears and he started screaming "No WAY, No WAY!" I got him calmed down as we walked around the room, he went and willingly put his lunch away and helped me put his diapers away. Then the "no ways" started again. We looked at all the "work" around the room. (I was wishing *I* could stay and play.) Then Miss Kaitlynn arrived and I worked on my exit. And worked some more. Leif sobbed and sobbed. Finally I pulled away and left (tears in my own eyes). I heard him sobbing down the hall as I left.

His teacher called me during outside play to let me know that he did calm down and was doing fine. So that helps.

I am also kicking myself for not getting his TumbleBus registration in for today. I am sure it didn't help that a number of kids from his class were preregistered for TumbleBus. (A local gymnastics company gutted a bus, filled it with mats and a balance beam and brings it to the school. The kids pay to go out to the bus, parked in the parking lot, with their teacher for 30 minutes, once a week.) Yes, I suck. He will go next week. Grandma even offered to pay for it for him. Which is totally unnecessary, but appreciated.

So that's our weekend in review. Oh yes, I am reading the best book ever! I was going to finish Wicked, but left it in my office this past weekend. V's mom brought me The Birth House upon request. I am already nearly 100 pages through and loving it. It is a fantastic read so far and exactly my favorite genre.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Mocha Friday

Sleeping in until 6am, pure bliss. Of course that also means I didn't run. I was just so tired, I really needed that extra half hour after the last week of early wakings.

I know it is counterintuitive, but I swear the reason Leif slept in was that I put him to bed 15 minutes earlier. I hate having less time with him in the evening, but when he is up early and falls asleep on the way in to daycare, he is sleep deprived. So last night I was insistent that we start the bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier. Sure enough, he fell asleep after his bottle like he always does. In his crib, awake and pulls the blanket up over his face, then within seconds he is out. Part of me is tempted to push bedtime back another 15 minutes tonight and see what happens...


So Wicked... is off. Darn. Ticket sales opened today to the general public and V found out that there were apparently only scattered individual seats available for its entire stay in Seattle. Sucks. Next time around I guess.


AB and I have been working on counting with Leif. 1-2-3 and sometimes up to 5. He hasn't seemed interested and looks at us like he is bored. Or just humors us in squealing "two three!" Last night Leif was done with dinner and I was letting him out of the booster seat. It was taking me a few minutes to pick the macaroni off of him and all. He is jabbering along like usual, he is always jabbering... then I realize what he is saying... "4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, TEN!"

AB and I look at each other with stunned looks on our face! Then we both say, "he just counted to 10!" Of course he jumps down and is then off and running. We were trying to get him to do it again, but the stinker refused and teased us by just repeating "7" over and over and over.

This is typical Leif. We work on something with him, he sits and smiles and we decide he just isn't getting it, we are pushing him too hard or whatever. Then when you are least expecting it, whatever it is pops up again and he shows mastery. I am quite sure he gets a huge kick out of this...


Work baby showers really should be banned. I just got back from one and it was misery. Part of that was that the mom just struck me as the most miserable, discontent, unhappy mom-to-be that I have ever seen. She was my admin for like 2 months 1.5 years ago, then I switched groups. She works in the building next to me and I see her on occasion. But in no way, is our relationship one that constitutes being invited to her shower. (I didn't even know she was pregnant until last month... and she is now 33 weeks along.)

The biggest problem with work showers is that you feel obligated to go. Because everyone will see you sitting in your office on their way to the conference room for lunch. (Especially when your office is in front of the dang conference room.)

I bought "The Going to Bed Book" by Boynton for her. The big lap one, not the little one. Leif loves that book still. I was a little on the cheap side, I would normally at least buy a pair of Robeez for the baby. But with AB being out of work, my not really knowing her, I just couldn't fork out the dough.

Ok, I normally wouldn't whine so much about a baby shower... but when the mom is as ungrateful and inconvenienced as this one was, well it was a waste of my time. She is having a little girl and each time she opened something pink, she cringed, mock gagged and said, "you put a receipt in here didn't you?" Apparently she already has PLENTY of pink clothes. Well fine.

The best part of the shower was sitting back with my cynical coworker Mary, who has something to say on every topic and provided a running commentary. I nearly died laughing when she asked me how soon we could es-cap-ay from here. Evidently years of Nemo leaves scars that change your vocabulary forever.

Oh then there was one of my former students who undeservingly weasled into a permanent position here. Apparently she just doesn't realize how really rude it is to ask someone if they are pregnant. Or maybe she does now when she had to cover it with "I just figured you would be trying for another now with your son nearly 2 and you in your late-30's". Nice attempt at a cover, but 34 hardly qualifies as "late 30's". Open mouth insert foot twice in two sentences? I would say that has to be a record, but my friend J can do better - he tells me that it just gets to a point where it tastes good there.


I dropped Leif at daycare this morning. His last day in his room. I usually drop him off with his regular teacher Sufia. But Sufia is gone for these last couple days and Kaitlynn was there subbing. She was a little sour about having had to be in at 6am as I am sure she was out partying it up last night. (I really do adore her.) For the first time so far, Leif went running in thrilled. Ran in to Kaitlynn and jumped into her arms and laid his head on her shoulder. He hardly paid attention as I left and I had to force a kiss.

No bitterness, seriously. It means so much to me that he adores Kaitlynn since he spends the entire day with her and she will be his teacher for the next year as well. I am quite convinced Leif has a major crush on her.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Miscellaneous thoughts for the afternoon

My new teeth feel almost like they belong in my mouth! 1 week after finishing and I haven't taken Advil in 24 hours. Oh and btw... I LOVE them! They look real!


I don't like seeing dead people. To all the news agencies, please stop showing pictures of dead Al Zarqawi. It is terribly freaky and will likely give me nightmares. Isn't there a law against showing real dead people in the media?


1 hour until I go home.


I can't wait to see Wicked in September! Woohoo! Loved the book, btw. What am I going to read next?


Miss Pink Post Doc... eating Milk Duds (King sized box) through the entire telecon this morning. Come on now. Not only rude (IMO) to sit and chow during a conference call, but Milk Duds at 9am? Ick!


Baby Einstein? Barnyard Celebration? Nemo? Horses? Ladybugs? Sealife? Sesame Street? Teletubbies? World Safari? or Zoology?

Until Leif actually ASKS for Star Wars or X-Men, AB is out of luck. Baby Einstein... yeah Leif still likes it, but there are so many other cute things. Nemo... will he be over it? Horses... now there's an obsession. Sesame Street... that's cute, would be more inclined if Cookie were on the plates, instead of Ernie... err, I mean Big Bird. Teletubbies... everyone will think my kid is a TV freak. World Safari, Zoology and Sealife are all gorgeous, but lost on a bunch of 2 year olds?

What decisions I am plagued by.


Did I really send AB to the wrong place to register for swimming? Or did the City mess up and hold registration in the wrong place? GOT to be the later.


I should clean my office while I am sitting here waiting for contracts to get back to me.


That would require moving out of my comfortable desk chair...


What am I fixing for dinner? AB said he was not cooking tonight. Ravioi with white beans and chard soup? Will Leif eat the raviolis?


40 minutes till it is time to go home.


Oooh... I wonder if V saw the Elmo cake pan on Birthday Express... V... check it out! (I need to find one for Leif now... maybe that will help me decide on the above theme.)


What is up with Blogger today? Ridiculous slow. The messages about not having connection are freaking me out. I am publishing now. Ta ta...

Dear Leif (22 months)

Dear Leif,

You are 22 months and this week is your last week in “The Nest” at your school. This is proving to be a difficult transition and I *think* this transition is what is making it difficult for you to sleep in. This morning I woke up to a little voice over the monitor saying, “mommy, mommy, mommy” at 5am. Thanks at least for softening the beckoning from screaming. I was so much more eager to come in and see you this morning… even though it was only 5am!

For as much as you aren’t a morning sleeper, you seem to have followed suit with dear mom here and become an evening sleeper. Last night I was putting you to bed. You had your bottle and we read and rocked. When you finished your bottle you told me “night night”. I said, “night night Leif, do you want to read Mimi again?” You looked at me and said, “night night SLEEP”! I put you in your crib and as usual you pulled the blanket over your head and tuned me out. You were out like a light within seconds. (Can I just say how I hate the fact that you feel the need to have a blanket on your face to fall asleep? When you are a parent you will understand.)

You are starting to be a little more adventurous with your eating. Last night you were really intrigued by the “fishy” daddy filleted and BBQ’d. Sure, sure, you don’t like fish until the Copper River Salmon makes its appearance! I see how you are! You have tasted hot dogs twice now and still spit them out. You are still stuck on macaroni and cheese, chicken noodle soup, rice pilaf and fruit with your favorite all time meal being baked rigatoni. You will eat green beans and corn in all forms.

You are talking a lot now and attempting to repeat most everything. We are now getting to the point where mommy and daddy have to watch what they say. I said “boobie” the other day, which you promptly repeated and lunged for mine, showing you knew exactly what we were talking about. Greeeaaat. Your favorite phrase right now is “no way”. You use “no”, but when you really mean it we get a “no way!” Not sure where this came from…

We have moved away from Nemo and found other movies. You like The Jungle Book still, also Tarzan. We Tivo Teletubbies and Little Einsteins. Daddy pushes Little Einsteins on you like there is no tomorrow. You humor him. You still like Elmo, but have a new found joy in watching all of Sesame Street from 6-7am. Elmo seems to have moved down the ranks from the favorite spot. You love Cookie Monster and a few times a day you imitate cookie. You stand there with your fists at your mouth, stomp your feet like you are running in place and move your fists around saying “mmm mmm mmm”. In typical Leif fashion though, Cookie Monster is “Cacker”, since you have always been convinced anything crunchy is a cacker.

Elmo shares second place with Ernie, Grover, and Ernie (aka Big Bird… why you think Big Bird’s name is Ernie I don’t know… maybe from Journey to Ernie?). If Grover weren’t actually on the screen when you say his name I would have no idea who you are talking about. It sounds something like “rogga” when you say Grover. You are intrigued by Oscar as I always was as well. (I was a geek, I always wanted to know what Oscar’s living quarters were like in the trash can.)

You have been such a good helper in the gardens so far this year. You have the raspberries figured out and are starting to learn that unless they are golden yellow-orange, they taste bad. So don’t pick them. I had a dream when I planted the raspberries of sitting and eating sun warmed raspberries off the vines until I could eat no more. My dream will never be realized as long as you are around. TYVM.

You like picking cherries, but aren’t much for eating them yet. I can hardly keep you from stepping on the “baby strawberry plants”. If you only knew what fruit will come to bear… you love strawberries. You really like picking greens. We have spinach and swiss chard and cress all growing, very well, in the garden. Your picking technique leaves much to be desired (grab a clump and yank), but you love picking greens. Last night we were picking cress for our salad and you were carrying it in to daddy. When I told you no more cress, you picked a bunch of Swiss chard and took it to daddy. Boy was he surprised.

Our evening walks are very important to you. Winny has you brain washed so that every evening if we wait too long, you say, “we walk!” Mommy and daddy would really prefer to walk in one direction, on the path. You prefer to walk 10 steps, turn around and run back 20, look at a rock, look at a flower, complain about a rock in your shoe, run 30 feet forward, stop and throw rocks, see a sidewalk come off the trail and decide to take that detour… It is hard work walking with you! If only my legs would get the workout that my upper body does during this redirection.

We are very heartened at the prospect of a return to eating out after our trip to Spokane last weekend. We went to a very nice Greek restaurant which our concierge (who obviously had NO children) recommended as being toddler friendly. It was not. But I was so thrilled with how well you behaved. AND the fact that you ate my kebab and rice AND your noodles. We will be venturing out soon again!

Love you more than you would ever know!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I hate Oprah.

You have to remember that feeling, I know my husband does. Sitting in a class… feeling so tired… and then your head jerks up. You tell yourself you will not fall asleep… pay attention… this is important… this might be on a test… head jerk!

Ugh. At least it was a huge auditorium.

I will blame Leif. Poor kid, gets blamed for everything. I had book club last night and so by the time I got home and got my evening chores done it was late. Then I got sucked into watching How I Met Your Mother with AB… his new favorite sitcom. Truth be told, the only sitcom we watch.

Then 5:10am came far too soon when over the monitor I hear Leif crying. I roll over and ask AB to try and get him back down. His response was, “let’s see if he wakes up more before I go try”. Well that made absolutely no sense at all, but whatever.

5:17am and I am very nearly getting up and giving up on my morning run. AB jumps up once he notices me stirring lest he be considered a slacker. He went in and of course, Leif was inconsolable.

I went in to relieve him and while standing there, with his eyes pursed closed and the most awful look on his face full of misery for being up at such a God forsaken time, he tells me if I want to go run I can. He remembered my minor meltdown last night about how fat I am and how I have no time whatsoever to exercise. I ask him, “really?” He nods in pain as the morning sun pierces through the curtains.

I start to walk off and Leif freaks out. I can’t do it. I need to. I want to. But I can’t. I can’t leave Leif screaming for 30 minutes while AB tries to tune him out and sleep. I take Leif and tell AB to go back to bed which he does without hesitation. I am far too freaking nice. I am obviously a mom, will do anything for her kid, but neglects her own well being. I want harmony in my house and not a cranky, discontent spouse who was forced to get up.

People (Oprah) say that if you want to lose weight you will find time to exercise. If you don’t find the time to exercise you really don’t want to. Easy for someone who has never had a child to say. Exercise has always been a part of my life, until Leif. Now I do it when I can, which depends greatly on how Leif is feeling/acting.

I am up daily between 5am (if Leif wakes up then) and 5:30am (if Leif does not wake up I go out to run at 5:30am). I get back shortly after 6am and spend the next 45 minutes hanging out with Leif and doing sit ups and push ups. Do you know how hard it is to do sit ups with a 22 month old sitting next to you (raspberries on your belly and belly button searching and poking) or on you? At 6:45am, AB’s day starts as Leif and I do our best to roust him and get him moving to watch Leif while I get ready. Out the door at 8am where I work all day. Yes, I have down time at work that many SAHMs do not. I wolf lunch down at my desk so I can leave a half hour early to spend just a little more time with Leif in the evenings, or get a little overtime to make up for such and such the past week that I flexed. (Yes, I know… against the law here. I am “supposed” to take that 30 minutes off.)

I get home about 5:15pm on a good traffic day. I get the mail and we head out for our family walk with Winny. We walk about a half mile because Leif has a serious and strong aversion to strollers. He will not ride. We can get him in the stroller but then he screams “WALK” at the top of his lungs crying until we get back. Not a pleasant family walk and so he walks too. It is slow going.

We get back and one of us entertains Leif while the other cooks. We eat dinner as a family. After dinner we play a little, maybe outside, until 7:30pm. Bathtime. One of us does bath, while the other cleans the kitchen. At 8pm, one of us puts Leif to bed while the other picks up and does tomorrow’s chores (lunches made, coffee made, etc). At 8:30pm, we are dead, both of us.

Yes, I was complaining an eensy bit about AB and his need to sleep to start off this post. But damn I am lucky to have a husband who shares the chores as much as he does. He is so involved with Leif. At 8:30pm we plop on the couch where I read or flip through magazines while AB watches TV. Oh I watch too, but if I stop flipping through a magazine I fall asleep there on the couch.

Life is great. But fit in time for me to exercise please without taking away from my very little time with Leif. I am not complaining about being a working mom, I wouldn’t have it any other way. (Ok, so maybe I would work part time…) But tell me again how if I really wanted to work out I would make time for it. Go ahead, tell me. (Oprah bitch)

And this is why I was falling asleep in the seminar today.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sinking back into the grind

Back to the routine. I was getting back into running and was actually up and ready to head out the door this morning when I heard peeps coming across the monitor. I peek in and sure enough, Leif was wide awake and very happy to see mommy. So there went the run. It was probably the best thing for Winny though, she has an awful abcess where we missed a blade a cheet grass in her paws. We got it out, but it is a gapping hole now, ripe for another 15 pieces to embed themselves back in. (Or at least all of this is what I am telling myself so I don't feel quite so guilty about missing the morning run.)

Let's see, I had a meeting with my team lead this morning. I had scheduled a meeting with him and my mentor for us to discuss the path forward on my big proposal I wrote. More of a "what's next" thing since my PLM has been of NO help. And my mentor is tired of her being NO help to him as well. So I mostly sat while he complained and our team lead attempted to calm him.

What finally was said by my team lead was that he planned to use this as the perfect example, "junior staff member writes an excellent technical proposal, the PLM is too busy and then the staff member doesn't know what to do with it when there aren't resources to help". He praised me that I didn't just "drop it", but said many junior staff would. So where does that get me? A lot of work on my hands. I need to start work with contracts and start pushing the proposal out the door myself. He gave me a few warnings like, "this type of call is a fishing expedition, they likely just want to see what's out there". Frankly, I am really close to just dropping it and hoping for an appropriate call to come out soon. And therefore being "the average junior scientist". Average isn't bad...


I have been e-mailing with a former fellow grad student recently. It has been interesting seeing what he and his wife's lives are like in a different industry. His former advisor gave him strict orders to tell me to call him when I am in town. This made me happy. While I am excited to go back to Reno, I am getting a touch nervous. I will be in very different company and as a section chair among my former professors who are also section chairs, I am feeling a little intimidated. I keep telling myself that they are my peers now. (I can tell myself this 100 times over and I still don't believe it!)

I am looking forward to the conference and then spending time each evening shopping at all my favorite haunts (Cost Plus, Wild Oats Market, Sierra Trading Post...) and eating at the best places in town. Here I come Kyoto Restaurant for all you can eat sushi! I must pack light so that I can have one full bag to bring back with goodies. Yes, I am completely abused with regards to shopping here.


Tonight is book club. I am bummed about this only in the fact that I did not finish my book. It is such a good book too, I am not looking forward to having the end ruined. But no way I can plow through 120 pages between now and 7pm. Ugh. V is hosting and I am looking forward to sparkling wine and lava cakes. Yum.


After numerous phone calls I finally have an appointment to have a car seat technician look at Leif's car seat in AB's car. The thing just doesn't tighten down. If you tighten it, the front flies up. It is completely ridiculous and we are so unhappy with it. Nothing fits right with it. AB took it out last night to adjust the straps and we couldn't get it back in properly.

Finally I told him to forget it, I was going to find a tech to install it properly and show us how. You would think that this would not be a difficult proposition considering that some 90% of car seats are supposidly installed incorrectly. Wrong. It was nearly fricking impossible.

The NHTSA list is not up to date for my region. About 1/3 no longer have car seat techs. Another 1/3 merged with the WA State Troopers to provide services by appointment. And the next appointment? July 12th. I explained the situation that we can't get it installed, isn't there someone we can go to? "Sorry this is how we do our inspections," was the response.

So I was left with the last 1/3 of the list. Some (the two hospitals) had car seat techs but their services are only for patients. I finally got someone who could look at it and help tomorrow. I know, it probably wasn't that wrong. And once I get on a kick, my obsessive nature sets in and Leif was NOT going to sit in that carseat until it was installed properly.

Frankly, I am more just shocked at how dismissive the State Troopers were with my concerns. It really ticked me off.

Monday, June 05, 2006


I have returned to work after having a week off and visiting with my grandmother. She is 82 years old and wow is it hard seeing her age. I saw her get off the plane and sit in the wheelchair waiting for her. She looked tiny and vulnerable. It had been only a year since I last saw her, but a year can change so much.

Physically she has shrunk severely. She was always about 5’1” when I was a kid. She is now 4’9”. This doesn’t seem to bother her, in fact, the opposite. She likes being called “tiny” and “little” and you can’t convince her that the ever-rising hump on her upper back is not a good thing and the real reason she is now 4’9”. Her body is starting to fail her as evidence of the handful of pills she takes every morning and evening.

Mentally she is slowing down. My grandmother was always sharp as a tack and quick with her tongue. Lately I get the impression that it is just too much work for her to think and so she just doesn’t. This also means that she says inappropriate things (not really that new, but it is worse than it used to be). She gossips and “whispers” (or attempts to whisper) about people’s appearances. But just when you think she has completely lost all mental capacity she counts up the points on her dominoes with zeal and doesn’t miss a play. Life does come full circle. For the last 8 days I have two children in my house. Both who I love dearly in different ways… but one of them used to care for me.

We didn’t do a lot all week. We went for short walks, we talked about moving her into an apartment, we played Skip-bo and Mexican Train dominoes (her favorites), and talked about moving her into an apartment, we went for tea and talked about moving, we cooked meals and drove to Spokane where we talked about the possibility of her moving again. It was a routine topic of conversation that was rarely brought up by me, frequently by her, but always ended with the statement, “but I am just not ready”. No one wants to boot her out of her house, but doubts whether she will ever be ready are pervasive.

I feel as though this post is nearly completely negative. It was not a negative week, in fact, it was a good week with some negativity sprinkled in. We talked a lot about her family, where they came from. I found out that her mom’s parents, my great greats immigrated from Sweden (we knew this), but they changed their names to Turnquist from Pedersen, because there were so many Pedersen’s in the US. Turn recognized a turning point in their lives, I am not sure what “quist” meant. She brought me more old pictures, which I love. And Leif really took to “gamma”. I was pushing him to call her “Bonka” as I did as a child. But “gamma” took hold with Leif. This surprised me actually since he had just had “gamma” and “bompa” (my mom and stepdad) visit just two weeks ago. I wasn’t sure he would understand multiple “gammas” at this point. But there was never any hesitation.

I didn’t get much done last week because even though both Hans and I were home, we couldn’t just leave Leif to play with my grandmother. She is unable to lift him. I got on the computer only rarely, since everytime I walked to the computer, she followed and would ask endless questions. I finally found it easier to just ignore that work and lives were going on around me and accept that I did not need to stay caught up. One night, however, I was asked to provide some surface science analysis and insight. I could not forego this since I am working, hard, to get myself fully immersed back in surface science. That was a difficult night because my grandmother viewed my working on my laptop feverishly for a couple hours as neglect towards her. She got very upset with me and ended up going in her room and sitting… by herself… and crying.

As far as social styles go, my grandmother is a driver-driver or expressive-driver. She cares little about others and doesn’t seek to engage other people. The entire time we were there she asked me once about my work and once asked me if I knew what I would say if someone asked me about my life. I feel as though she really doesn’t know me as an adult.

One day I asked her if I could record her talking about her family. She seemed excited, this is something that she does well! But as soon as I hit “record” on the video camera she froze. Then she went into her drama routine. She should have been an actress, not a nurse! She was selective with her stories and when I prompted her towards anything that might be deemed controversial, she quickly steered away. No words about her being alone and pregnant with her first son, no words about why she moved to her parents house and left her husband (my grandfather) for a few months. I know all of this from her telling me bits and pieces. I have pieced together the infidelity, the out of wedlock pregnancy. Nope, it was like she was reading a very happy, sunny story to all of us out there in TV land who might view the video someday. There are nuggets in there about her life on the farm, our family, her life in nursing school. But most of it is details about specific patients she cared for and how they died. I finally shut off the camcorder and like pressing a button, suddenly she had the world to talk about.

Ah yes, back to the negatives apparently… I suppose that means it is time to adjourn. Pictures will follow!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A taste of my week

Grandma: What are you going to do while I am at my luncheon in Spokane?

NM: Go to the mall and walk around, go to the Riverfront park.

Grandma: What are you getting at the mall?

NM: Well I need new shampoo.

Grandma: You can't get shampoo here?

NM: Yes, well I can, but it is all the way across town in an area I don't go regularly, and we will be at the mall and they have an Aveda shop at the mall, so I will get it there.

Grandma: What kind of shampoo do you use?

NM: Aveda's Rosemary Mint shampoo.

Grandma: Oh yes, my sister Bonnie used to use that shampoo.

NM: Did she?

Grandma: Yes, but she just got hers at Walgreens.

NM: Well it isn't the same then.

Grandma: Yes it is, I remember it and she bought it at Walgreens.

NM: No, they only sell it in the salon.

Grandma: No, they sell it at Walgreens, I went with her to buy it 20 years ago when I was in San Francisco.

NM: Well Aveda didn't have Rosemary Mint shampoo 20 years ago and I am not sure they even existed 20 years ago.

Grandma: Yes they did, I remember.

NM: Are you sure it wasn't Aveeno shampoo?

Grandma: Yes, I know Aveeno and it wasn't, it was the one you said.

NM: Hmmm.

Grandma: What you don't believe me? You think I am getting old and losing my mind?

NM: Ok, fine, so maybe they did have it and maybe Bonnie used it back then.

Grandma: They did.

NM: (silence)

Grandma: Do you want to go to Walgreens?

NM: No, they won't have it.

Grandma: Yes they will. I will bet you a quarter.

NM: (looking around for a quarter...)

Grandma: I saw a Walgreens down the street.

NM: Yes, there is one. Did you need to go to Walgreens?

Grandma: Oh no.

NM: (silence)

Grandma: Well you don't need to get snippy with me.