Friday, May 26, 2006

Now THIS is a Friday

Knowing I don't have to go back to work for a whole 9 days? That's a Friday! Ok, so I will be out here for a few things next week, but I can deal. So if I am not around next week, that is why. Or I could be around lots... escaping from my grandmother!

So there is a psycho woman who sees spiders in my building. She is relatively young, younger than me at least. She was hired as a technician into my former group. There was hesitation on the part of the manager, but the group members rallied for her hire. It probably helped that she was female and there is a serious lack of females in the group... and an overabundance of single men.

Over the last few months the group has seen a different side of her than the cheery, friendly blonde that they met at the interview. She appears to have an evil streak. (And I am loving hearing these stories from the people I still work with in this group!) I am not the type of person to go to my manager, like ever. If I go to my manager, I really need to and it is usually overdue. Psycho is the opposite. Not a day goes by (I hear) that she doesn't march into his office ranting about something.

Her cubicle is in my building, just down the hall and around the corner from my office. My office is also located right next to the restroom. So I see lots of her. She stops by regularly to bitch about things that, not being in her group, I have no idea what she is talking about. She often bitches about my close friend and co-PI. Appears Psycho has not figured it out that C and I spend a lot of time together.

The latest psycho-ness emanates from invisible spiders. Yes, we are in an old building, an old library in fact. It has its own character, charm and appeal as well as freaky stuff. You never know what you will find in any room. I have, in my office, two very coveted chairs. Old leather library chairs that make my office the preferred meeting place for small meetings. I will *never* surrender them either. The building is plagued by bugs, mice and we also enjoy a large number of rabbits on the property, some rumored to have 3 ears. I have never seen the elusive 3-eared variety. Rumor is, 3 ears caused by radiation exposure and then they die off quickly due to radiation poisoning. (I think this is one of those student rumors...) The bugs and mice evidently thrive on the radiation...

Psycho stopped by my office yesterday to explain what the loud "thumps" I might be hearing coming from the restroom are when she is in there. No, apparently she is not a klutz in the restroom. It is just severely occupied by spiders, which she is overly fearful of and her immediate and natural response is a "wham" to kill them. And so this is apparently what is going on in the restroom. You can imagine my very blank look at her as she tells me this. I am not impressed, nor have I seen this abundance of spiders. (Nor any remnants of spiders post wham.)

True to her word, everytime she enters or leaves the restroom yesterday and today I am startled by a large "wham" on the wall separating my office from the restroom and small things falling off my wall. I have a ruptured supercritical fluid gasket hanging up as a trophy of survival, a few conference badges hanging on the edge of my white board and my dry erase markers fall. So these aren't major things, nothing that will break, but annoying nonetheless. The walls are ultra-thin, but still, come on. Cut the crap.

I have an idea of what is going on... she is psycho, she doesn't like her office being in the building (she works in a number of buildings that are a mile or so drive from here) and is looking for a reason to move, she is psycho, she is looking for something new to complain about since she has complained about *everything* else, she is psycho...

Frankly, I don't get it and am more than annoyed. The next time it happens my plan is to stop her in the hall, hand her the phone number and e-mail address for the building manager to deal with the "spiders". Any "pest control" must be done through building management. Chemical permits are even required for canned air here. If it continues beyond that, I am contacting her manager and likely HR.

This place apparently breeds psychos along with the three eared rabbits.

Finish the sentence...


1) My uncle once... shot a caribou.

2) Never in my life... would I have dreamed I am where I am, doing what I do.

3) When I was five... I had a hernia operation.

4) High School... was miserable.

5) I will never forget... the day Challenger exploded.

6) I once met... Hans Blix.

7) There's this girl I know who... I love to go shopping with.

8) Once, at a bar... I asked the bartender to turn the channel to the NBA finals. He thought I was the coolest chick he ever met. ;-)

9) By noon I'm usually... halfway through my work day and eating lunch.

10) Last night... we watched the Top Chef finale I Tivo'd. It was great!

11) If I only had... more time.

12) Next time I go to church... will probably be Christmastime.

13) Nick Devlin... ???

14) What worries me most... Leif. I worry about him all the time.

15) When I turn my head left... I see my Colorado alumni association calendar.

16) When I turn my head right... I see my office door.

17) You know I'm lying when... I am lying. I suck at lying.

18) What I miss most about the eighties... being skinny.

19) If I was a character written by Shakespeare, I'd be... (I can't stand Shakespeare... there I said it.)

21) A better name for me would be... I like my name, I can't think of a better one.

22) I have a hard time understanding... purchasing reqs and contracts.

23) If I ever go back to school I'll... probably be single! AB might kill me if I went back to school - although I joke about it regularly.

24) You know I like you if... I cook for you.

25) If I won an award, the first person/people I'd thank would be... my husband.

26) I can't live without... my family.

27) Take my advice, never... attempt childbirth without an epidural.

28) My ideal breakfast is... a big one with my family!

30) If you visit my hometown... well that would probably be Fort Collins, even though I wasn't born there I grew up there.

31) Tulips, character flaws, microchips & track stars... Tulips are pretty, character flaws are natural, microchips may make me rich one day and track stars are amazing.

32) Why won't anyone... just be nice to each other?

33) If you spend the night at my house... I hope you won't be woken up in the night by a wailing toddler.

34) Your momma... did a good job.

35) The world could do without... rude people.

36) I'd rather lick the belly of a cockroach than... eat gross stuff.

37) My favorite blonde is... my mom.

38) Paper clips are more useful than... staples.

39) If I do anything well... it is technical writing.

40) And by the way... thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ok I succumbed

Yes, I am either gullible and fall for anything, or earning a little spare cash online. I signed up for Treasure Trooper on the recommendation from a friend. Jist of it is you do a variety of things online and get paid. Take a survey for 50 cents, sign up for something for $1, that type of thing. I have been doing a few an evening while AB puts Leif to bed and I have earned almost $20. Others have earned $100 or more. I don't have a lot of time to put into it and so my earnings are still small. Oh and I am a skeptic and fearful of giving out too much info... I haven't figured out all the ins and outs yet, still learning, but here is what I do know.

1. Get a spam e-mail account and only use it. It will get spammed to high heaven.
2. Follow the instructions for each opportunity. Some require you to get an e-mail and click back through (obviously verifying a legit e-mail account). So watch for those.
3. There are opportunities that yield high dollar amounts that you sign up for something big and then you can always cancel. I just did my first and got $8.50 for signing up for a free 14 day membership, now I need to go cancel it.
4. Oh and get referrals! You get 20% of what your referrals make. So here is my shameless attempt to get referral cash... click below and start filling out stupid surveys!

Treasure Trooper

Mid-May Update

This week has been busy and on the difficult side. I am taking all of next week off since my grandmother arrives Saturday. Slowly but surely though, things have crept into my calendar and so it appears I will be doing some running back and forth between work and spending time with my grandmother.

My first difficulty is my teeth. I talked previously about my need for new bridges. As of 9 days ago I was 90% done with that process. I was waiting for my permanent bridges to be made when I was stricken with horrible pain on one side of my mouth, where lots of work had been done in prepping for these bridges. I was ushered quickly back into the dentists office yesterday without an appointment. I walked in and sat down with 5 other patients and before I could open a magazine I was called back amidst glares from the other patients in waiting. I felt a little bad about this, but then thought about the fact that I had just forked over $3500 out of pocket and my insurance forked out $3K... they better see me with gusto when I am having pain!

Turns out that one of the nerves has decided to die. Which means that before my permanent bridges can be placed I have to have a root canal. For the first time ever, it was a relief to hear these words. No, I am not masochistic. It meant that the pain was not in my head and that there was a path to relief.

So today I am cancelling two meetings as I just found out that I can be squeezed in this morning for at the minimum pain relief that will last through the weekend until my appointment on Tuesday, or a root canal depending on how the dentists schedule goes. (I am hoping for the later.) I swear though, now my psychosomatic symptoms set in and every tooth in my jaw is aching. I have this huge fear of getting the one root canal, getting the permanent bridge and having one (or more) of the other three nerves fail, requiring removal of the permanent bridge, remaking the permanent bridge (another $3K) and another root canal. I told AB this morning I would really just prefer they do root canals on all 4 teeth at this point. Ok... I really am not masochistic. Really.


Leif will be moving up to the next classroom on June 12th. I have been having real hesitations with this. He is one of the youngest in his class, his teacher is hesitant, but the toddler coordinator and the head teacher believe he is more than ready to make the transition with "the older kids", instead of waiting until the end of the summer with the "younger kids". A huge part of me wants him to just stay little as long as possible. Let's not push him.

I was really concerned recently about this because in transitioning, he was not doing well. He would scream when entering the new room, try to run out and cry. We didn't push it and AB and I were ready to go tell the toddler coordinator that we don't want him moving up until his birthday, irregardless of the fact that his little friend "needs" him there, or his apparent readiness to the coordinator.

Then yesterday he turned a corner. He went for a visit next door and stayed willingly. He played, said bye to daddy and hung out. At the end of the day AB found out that he actually stayed for the whole morning. He had snack in the "big kids" room. Then he went outside with them and his regular class for recess. Then when they called the kids in, Leif went into the "big kids" class and stayed the rest of the morning instead of going in with his own class. The teachers followed his lead.

So I guess maybe he is ready. *sob* They suggested yesterday to AB that I bring him into the older kids room this morning. I could not do it. I walked him into his regular room where everyone was happy to see him. I cannot drop him off in a room with 3 year olds yet. Once the "big kids" evacuate to their next higher room, ok. But until then, they can be responsible for taking him over to visit!


Work is going good. I had worries a few weeks ago that I was going to be short on work. Not the case. In fact, I am more paranoid about being out this coming week and how am I ever going to catch up. I am dealing with the contracts department on three different projects and they are making me crazy. I am trying to set up a university contract, trying to obtain services from an offsite company, and trying to do a large purchase req. All of these things need to be done soon and I am seeing the minutes tick away before Friday 5pm. (Right now I am pending word back on all three...)

Aside from that I have a paper to write and a charge code to charge to for that. (A rarity at the lab.) A proposal to start on, the call is coming out next week, and three tasks to continue managing. Lack of work? Not me.

Oh and on top of that I am finalizing my session for an upcoming conference. I was nearly giddy this morning when I found out that my last hold-out invited talk FINALLY submitted his abstract. He missed the deadline, but apparently was able to get it to the conference chair to be entered manually. I was thrilled because IMO, he was one of my benchmark talks. An anchoring point to the session, I suppose. My session is now complete and just needs finalizing.

Busy? That would be me.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Back to loving the morning runs

I did it! I got up this morning at about 5:30am and headed out for my run. I had decided to start running at work over lunch, but it just wasn’t working for me. First off, I hate showering at work. There are a couple showers around, but I really don’t want to use them. (Ick factor and convenience factor.) So that limited me to running on days when I didn’t have meetings in the afternoon. Well right there, that ruled out about half my days. Then I was just finding it far too easy to just sit here and work instead of change clothes and head outside.

But I *have* to get my body back in shape. I am really unhappy with my weight right now. I have said for ages that 6am is a good wake up time for me. I just can’t do earlier. Well I gave it a shot this morning and I lived! The sun is well up at 5:30am, which kicks my body into gear. It was cool out (which I need) and my dog was thrilled. We headed out and ran for nearly 2 miles solid. The sun was shining, the air was cool and crisp, it was quiet. It couldn’t have been better.

I walked quietly back into the house pleased to see that AB was still in bed, which meant Leif was also still asleep. I layed down on the floor and did 50 situps (a far cry from my pre-pregnancy 150, but I will get there) and then 10 push ups. About then I heard Leif whining to get up. Perfect timing!

I am even looking forward to going tomorrow morning! The only thing that can stop me now is Leif waking up before his now routine wake up time of 6:20am (thank you, thank you, thank you).

Monday, May 22, 2006

One busy Monday

One of my favorite things to do here at work is to write. Lumped in with that task is to edit or peer review my coworkers documents. This is one role that I have maintained on my previous "not so great" project for a few of my coworkers. I know the goals of the projects, I know the client, and maybe more importantly I know and understand the chemistry and physics. For this reason I seem to have become their "one stop shopping" for editing needs and peer reviewing requirements. There is a big meeting in the radiation detection community coming up at the end of this week. So it is no surprise that my mailbox was flooded with peer review requests and editing requests Friday late afternoon. Along with these requests, also came a charge code for my week... yay!

Ok, I will admit it... this feeds my ego. I like that I am the first person that this group of people comes to with regards to technical writing and presentations. For me it reaffirms my legitimacy on this project for the first 2.5 years of my career here. I learned something, I still know it and I am not the idiot that I think the project manager tried to make me into. Of course I don't peer review *his* documents... but so what. It isn't his opinion that matters anymore.

I view this task as very important. Some people take it less seriously, but I take great pride in returning a document that is well formatted, spelling has been checked (thank you spell checker and why do some people ignore this feature?), has decent punctuation (my weak point), and most of all makes sense. The hardest part for me is balance. How do I balance changes that aren't vital to the paper or presentation's effectiveness with whatever creative licensure the first author should have.

Example, one of the documents that appeared in my mailbox Friday was a poster. For those of you not in the scientific community, a poster is not part an art contest. Well, not really. It is intended to convey research in one large 3'x4' (usually) document. You then stand by your poster while people walk around mingling, most often with an alcoholic beverage in hand. If you loathe the research, than you go walk around and mingle too, avoiding your own poster, and with alcoholic beverages in your hands. (Been there.) Or if you are eager to share your research and network, you stand by your poster and jump on anyone who pauses in front. (Been there too.)

Despite this not being an art contest, there is art to laying out the poster. (I started out college as an art and biology major... I know art. I don't know a damn thing about biology, however.) If you are a poor graduate student you might print out 8.5" x 11" pieces of paper on your groups printer, buy some poster board, sneak into the office to cut your poster board to 9" x 11.5" and then use glue sticks to attach your paper to the poster board. If you are a "professional" then you use PowerPoint to lay out your entire poster and then have it printed up on a big plotter. In both cases, the use of color and font size is extremely important. You want someone standing 8' away who fears personal interactions (90% of your audience) to be able to read your poster, but you also want to attempt to lure in those people as well.

The poster I received Friday was a journal article. Seriously. He took his journal article, cut it up into sections and pasted each section (in full) on the PowerPoint poster. He did increase the font from 10 point to 14 point though. Oy vey.

Artistic licensure. It is HIS poster, it is what he wanted. It isn't like this guy fears having to talk with people... no way, J is a magnet and with his expressive personality will keep people standing around him as long as possible explaining the minute details. Why then, does he persist in creating posters like this?

I e-mailed him... "before I review the content, are you happy with the layout and format of your poster"? Yeah, he replies, I have spent a lot of hours on it. Ok... artistic licensure... I reviewed the content, I made a few formatting changes, loads of wording changes, some changes for clarity and nudged things around a little, including the font up to 18 point where possible. Then this morning I sent it back to him and ticked off my box saying that the poster was "peer-reviewed" and can appropriately represent the lab in the outside world. I read this as content... the content has passed all measures. I am not a graphic designer, and I am not being paid as a graphic designer, I am paid to assess technical content.

A few other posters to peer review (none will be in the state of the previous one). Then onto the next subject... a journal article. "Please edit, add in new content in attached document, and put in the proper journal submission format" were the instructions. With this task and charge code also comes the noteriety of having my name in position one. The coveted first author. The negotiated trade off for assembling the data (some taken by me a year and a half ago, much recently taken by others) and writing the paper. Truth be told, I finished the paper last fall, but we put off submission knowing that this new data was on the way. Not nearly as exciting and flashy as a poster, but far more important to me in the larger scheme of things.

Taking time to smell... or taste the flowers

I just love this time of year in my gardens, Leif does too. My task with him though is keeping him from picking the "fowers for mommy". He picked a rose yesterday... awww... I am still wondering how he missed the thorns.

Pretty peonies

Smelling is done with the NOSE! Not the tongue!

My peonies and clematis have never bloomed before, so this is a first time for each this year.

My giant irises are one of my favorites in the garden, they are nearly up to my chest and significantly larger than my little flower in the background there. (Which of course only adds to the intrigue.)

Friday, May 19, 2006


Growing up in Wyoming and Northern Colorado I am no stranger to thunder and lightning storms. Afternoon thunderstorms were the wonderful reward for enduring scorching hot days at a mile high in elevation. I miss them. The way they cool down the summer day, and the wonderful smells after the fact.

Afternoon thunderstorms are rarely seen in this part of the country. AB and I both still relish them. When we first moved here, and before there was a four story apartment building directly behind us, we would turn off the lights in the bedroom, open the curtains and watch the lightning in bed. Now we crane our necks for a sliver of a view of the sky as it lights up.

This afternoons storm was different though. It was rain, lightning and thunder as usual. But the rain was in walls of grey. You could see the front of the storm, moving towards us in the car. It looked nearly like we were driving into a wall of water... and sounded like it too. Once in the wall the rain would come in sheets, no rain and then a sheet would blow across the car. The lightning started off distant, but within minutes was all around us. Not as in, there's lightning over there and then over there. No, the sky was flashing all around the car it appeared. Nearly blinding at times.

I was driving Leif and I home from daycare and for the first time ever I was nervous in a thunderstorm. Maybe it wasn't really any scarier than any other storm, maybe it was just that I had with me, in my car, my most prized possession, my son. I worried that he would be afraid and get upset (he didn't). He just watched it all as I anxiously got us home.

Once in the house I was much more comfortable and could watch the storm in amazement like I always do. Watch the water pour off the roof in sheets, look (around the buildings) for lightning, and listen to the thunder crack. With each blast of thunder Leif would perk up and say "WOAH!" and then return to whatever he was doing.

When I was about 6 years old I remember one of the worst thunderstorms I was ever in. My best friend, Jennifer, was spending the night and she was horrified. We watched the rain and then we watched the hail that went on and on. When it was all over we went out and collected hail and froze it, we took pictures. I thought it was for posterity... my parents probably took the pictures for insurance (as I realize now). After that storm began a major cleanup which resulted in my parents re-shingling our house and my grandmother's garage (and house?). Cars had hail damage, trees were ripped apart, my mom's flowers ruined. Now that was a storm.

This one wasn't nearly the storm that one was. But it held it's own intrigue and placed just a little panic in my heart.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Toddler Development 101 by Montessori

Now really, how necessary is it for us to spend 1.5 hours touring a daycare room and listening to the teachers and toddler director ramble on? It is next door to the room Leif has been in for nearly one year now. We have all seen the inside. We all know there is a toddler sized toilet in there…

I hurried home after an unusually late afternoon meeting. We ate quickly, the babysitter arrived since the teachers requested both parents present if possible. Leif sobbed as we told him we were leaving, but would be back soon and gave kisses and hugs. Then we left to drive BACK out to near where I work (about 25 minutes away). I assured myself Leif would certainly quit sobbing in just a few minutes. Wouldn’t he?

We get there and the toddler director launches into developmental milestones and what the current Montessori research is showing and how that is reflected in the classroom. Interesting, but takes 20 minutes at most. She tells us things like that a new program at the school is going to be language immersion with one teacher in each class that speaks a foreign language 100% of the time to the children. (I am gung ho for that especially being that this teacher is not Leif’s primary caregiver!) ;-) We learn their potty training philosophy… only when the child is ready and shows interest AND can remove ones clothing and redress him or herself. Clothing independence must be achieved before they will work with the child because if a teacher is not immediately available to help your child (out of the 18 in the room) the child must be able to do this him or herself. Leif? Nowhere close to this milestone. Along those same lines, elastic band pants only, no snaps or zippers or overalls and no onesies allowed in the room once they are full time. (We need to go shopping.)

After that we all (18 or so parents) get up to follow the teacher around the room. Seriously now… must we all walk around the room? We can see everything. Oh well, we file through the little desks and chairs and by the little dish washing area, see the boxes on the floor which indicate who is “next in line” for any number of things to allow that unspoken “ATM distance” for the toddlers to do their thing without crowding. We ask a few questions to the teachers and the director. We learn about the TumbleBus (that Leif will be clamoring for). A few more experienced parents offer tidbits… like it isn’t the peer pressure that will get you to succumb to paying $68 for 8 weeks of TumbleBus, it is your child feeling left out of something fun as everyone else goes to jump around and play in the TumbleBus. *sigh* We learn the scoop on one teacher who is leaving, just leaving, and soon, no transition for the kids. We learn the scoop on another teacher who takes her breaks at the most inconvenient times, i.e., when all the kids are being dropped off and picked up and therefore you never see her if she is your primary caregiver (which she isn’t ours thankfully).

We all stare blankly at each other and make small talk, wondering who will be the first to excuse themselves… hell, let’s go I motion to AB. We excuse ourselves and thank the director for her time. Go get in the car and then notice the deluge of parents on our heels to their cars.

Back at the house the babysitter informs us that Leif cried for a full hour. Completely inconsolable. I was sure the new Elmo DVD would have helped, it didn’t. He apparently sat at the window crying. Finally she gave up and got a chair and sat next to him since he freaked out of she touched him. *sigh* Finally she lured him away from the window with bubbles and got him into the bath, a bottle into him and into the crib. Upon our return Leif of course returned to full wakefulness and it took AB forever to get him down.

We don’t leave Leif with a babysitter usually. It is rare we go do something that we can’t bring him. Nor do we really want to go out and do things without Leif. We are content in our lives without movies in the theaters (although the new X-Men movie is peaking AB’s interest) and either getting take out instead of eating in restaurants or cooking ourselves a fantastic meal instead of dropping $125 at the local fish house. Yes, we lead boring, introverted lives, but we like it. When I spend 40 hours away from Leif each week with working, I don’t relish the thought of leaving him with a sitter. And he gets the time away from us at daycare. Ok, my point is… why make last nights meeting “parents only”? In the least ask a teacher to come and open up their room and ask parents to pay $10 for the evening. I guarantee most parents would have done that and I know of at least two teachers who would have gladly walked out with $60 or so for 1.5 hours on a week night.

See, I have solutions to everything.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

How to get your spouse to clean the house...

Hide the Tivo remote. Or better yet, get a toddler to do it for you.

Monday evening the Tivo remote disappeared. I spent about 45 minutes looking for it with AB. Finally I realized it was nowhere to be found, that watching anything on Tivo was impossible, and therefore went to bed to read Wicked. (June book club book, which btw, is fantastic! I am 50 pages in and can't put it down.)

AB spent nearly 2 hours more searching! He even reorganized the pantry in his quest to be able to watch 24. No luck. He came to bed exhausted from tearing the house apart and annoyed as hell.

Tuesday during the day he looked as well. Judging from the state of every single cushion on the sectional and the chair in Leif's room, he looked everywhere, many times. He searched every single drawer and cupboard - even the toddler proofed ones. He looked outside and in the garage too. No luck. He picked up the house as he cleaned too.

Finally at 5:30pm he gave in and I told him I would call Circuit City and Best Buy and see if they carried replacements. Neither did, so I ordered one to be arrive in a few days and we would just have to do without until then. (It is pure misery not being able to fast forward through commercials. How did we deal a mere 6 months ago?)

Now if only AB had done the laundry... he started it, did the couple stacks I had sorted. But hadn't gotten to sorting his laundry yet.

Yep, Murphy's Law. Place the order and you will find it. Truth be told it was moi that saved the day. I was sorting AB's laundry and wah-la... there it was.

Having a spare will be good, given the propensity of small electronic things (i.e., phones) to be dropped in the toilet by one toddler who shall remain nameless...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I have become a lizard

Nearly most of my life I have despised the heat. The sweltering, heavy, heat. I always liked it cold and snowy. Something has changed.

Yesterday I walked out of my cool, air-conditioned building at 5:30pm. The warm sun felt so good on my arms as I soaked it up walking across the black top parking lot to my car. I got in, turned on my car and looked at the dashboard for the outdoor temperature readout... 100F. That was probably 2-3 degrees hot, I would expect 97-98F was probably the correct temp.

Wow have things changed. Is this part of getting old? Is this why old people move to Florida and Arizona because the heat affects them less? Or is it just that my body knows that with the heat comes the fruit and vegetables. The cherries, nectarines, tomatoes, sweet onions...

Summer has arrived like a lion. It was in the 70's last week, which according to AB is perfect. Monday the lion arrived and it is roaring.

And I am loving it. What has happened to me?

Monday, May 15, 2006

My return from 4 days of bliss

Hanging out with my family was great. We had a fantastic four days. Before I go into it I will say that if you logged in for about 5 minutes there a little while ago you got to witness NM raging about a very small, eensy aspect (a 5 minute discussion) that stung so bad to my core that it exploded into a full on rage about how unfair people can be and the ridiculous demands placed on us by the ones who love us the most. It didn't keep with the tone of this blog, it pointed fingers, it vented, it showed my very hurt feelings and my own loneliness for our extended family with unfair hopes that they would read it and show loneliness for us as well. It was a selfish post that intended to hurt as bad as I was hurting.

As much as sometimes I want to be pointed and bitchy, to show people their inconsistencies, this isn't the place. The post isn't gone, it now resides in my private blog, which I very rarely contribute to because there isn't much that I don't feel I can't say here. Honesty? I still feel this way, but it was far too brutally honest for me to even see on my own blog day after day. It is best served by being planted elsewhere. Somewhere it can wither and die and not blossom and flourish.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A few days of vacation

I am heading out in a few hours to pick up my mom and stepdad at the airport. Consequentally, I am worthless at work as I watch the minutes tick by. I have a few things to get done, and I will get to them. On that list is sitting down with my cpu and installing a second hard drive. I am technically inclined, but opening up my work pc storing all my data is not something I look forward to doing.

So instead... my favorite topic... Leif!

Leif will be 2 at the end of July and I can't believe how the time is flying by. It is truly amazing and frightening. I fear I am going to turn around and he will be 22. Last night at book club we reaffirmed that one of the most important tasks we all have at hand is to preserve our history. The history of our families, our accomplishments, and even mundane details are important because of the hints into what day to day life was like. These are the things you don't find in history books. (This discussion vindicated me that my long drowning on posts about stupid things are OK!! Just what you wanted to hear right?)

I go to bed many nights after Leif has done funny things, or said funny things and think "I need to remember to write that down". Anywhere, his baby book, the journal I just started for him, here... wherever. I need to write it down.

So here are some:

Leif, your favorite food at 21.5 months is macaroni and cheese. You call it "and cheese" and get so excited when it is put before you. You were not fooled however, when I attempted to serve you "broccoli AND CHEESE!" the other day. I have guilt about feeding you this... so much... but when it is one of the very few things you will eat, I will do it. Of course it is accompanied with vegetables, which you look at with complete disgust, unless they are canned green beans or corn. You inherited my extreme pickiness, although you wouldn't know now how picky I used to be. I overcame it and I keep telling Daddy you will too. Until then, macaroni and cheese or Campbell's MegaNoodles it is.

Speaking of MegaNoodles... that was last nights dinner after you snubbed pepperoni pizza. (You weird, weird little boy.) You cracked us up at the dinner table as you grabbed a noodle and went "zzzzzz" and flew the noodle around your head and finally landing in your own mouth where you would smile and go "mmmm!" Of course, this was not just a one time event. Nope, you did this with every.single.noodle in your bowl. And mommy still found it funny at the end. I will always be your biggest fan - though I am sure Daddy will give me a run for that title.

You are speaking a lot more lately. You still love "owside" and insist every evening that "we walk Winwe". You just adore Winny and she is so good with you. It scares me as I see the age in her eyes. She is 7 years old this month. Right now she is shedding horribly and apparently the girl that trims her is the preferred dog groomer of the area, because she couldn't get her in for 3 weeks. So we have another 2 weeks left whereby you can return the clumps of Winny hair (after they fall off her) back to Winny. When she isn't around you bring them to me and tell me they are "Winwe's".

Speaking of bringing me things... Gahh! I am so the mother of a little boy. Yesterday I was trying to get things ready for my book club meeting and you were wandering in and out of the house. You discovered bugs on the ground - but as you will tell everyone, bugs are really "bees". No dear, they aren't bees, they are just creepy crawly bugs. You kept bringing me in "bees" and putting them into my hand. I tried to explain that they were "rolly poleys", to which you looked at me sternly and said, "bees". Then went to fetch more. I washed my hands 10 times over thanks to you bringing me "bees".

Last night when people started arriving I was shocked to see my extremely extroverted little boy start clinging to my leg and hiding behind me. You became my shy little boy so quickly. Your personality never ceases to amaze me.

You love your stuffed rabbit that you named "Mouse". But starting two nights ago it has become increasingly important to you to have your stuffed Puppy and Lion when going to bed. I took a picture of you the other night on daddy's lab clutching puppy, lion, and Mouse, while still holding your baba (bottle) in your mouth and rubbing your blanket. Daddy was only slightly annoyed that you were so observant to notice whenever you dropped anything. He spent much of the night picking up stuffed animals.

Your favorite book right now is Sweet Dreams Mimi. When I bought this book I never envisioned it would become your favorite. It is about a little girl monkey whose mommy plants sweet images in her head every night before bed so she has good dreams. You love this book and ask for it repeatedly, "Mimi Mimi". Daddy and I always start with the books we enjoy reading first "Bear Snores On", "Kiss Goodnight", "The Bedtime Book", etc. knowing that you will be clamoring for Mimi soon and that once on Mimi, we will never get to read anything else.

Grandma and grandpa arrive today and I am so curious to see how you do with them. The past few days whenever I have been on the computer you run into the library and scream "gam-ma and cats!" Then you are so disappointed with grandma and the cats aren't on the computer. Grandma holds the cats up to the webcam to say hi. Will you know grandma in person? Will you know grandma without the cats? I sure hope you do. That would be the best Mother's Day present for grandma ever.

A few of your favorite things annoy the crap out of mommy and daddy, but because you love them so, we will replay them, over and over and over. One of those is the about 3 minute clip on the Elmo movie about washing a horse. You really like horses (and mice and fish), but this clip is like your favorite thing on TV. We play it over and over for you. I don't know what will happen when we take the movie back to the rental store on Friday... Daddy swears up and down we will not buy it. On your Baby Einstein videos you like the horse puppet particularly. There is one clip on Numbers Nursery where the horse eats a flower. You laugh and laugh about this as though it is the most hilarious thing ever. Another funny thing is when cookie monster eats things on Sesame Street. Nemo has been put aside for a little while in favor of some of the other movies... thank you. You really enjoy The Jungle Book and mommy is forever thankful to have a copy! (Sarah!) I crack up watching you dance to Bear Necessities and love that you try to sing the King Louie song.

Leif we love you so much and are so proud of the big boy you are growing into.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Book Club Night

Tonight I am hosting the monthly book club. I normally stress about these types of things and try to make everything perfect. I must be feeling quite comfortable around these women as I am not stressing, I am going low-key on the food and I am looking forward to the discussion.

The book I picked was one I read 2 years ago called Bold Spirit: Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America. My mom passed it onto me after reading it, and loving it. I read it in an entire weekend, which either tells you how short and what an easy read it was, or gives an indication of how much I loved it. Honestly, it was a blend of both.

The story is about a Norwegian woman who takes a wager to be the first woman to walk across the US. Of course, there are stipulations, like she has to wear a new “progressive” outfit (looks like long bloomers to me), she can only carry $5 on herself at any time, she has to get signatures to prove her progression across the US, etc. What amazes me about this whole story is related to the title, what a bold spirit she had. She left her family (on their farm that was near repossession) and she and her oldest daughter set off walking.

The writing is interesting as the book is actually a Master’s thesis from Washington State University. It is extremely factual, which is, according to many reviews, the downside. There is no conversing, there is a little surmising about her experiences and what she might have seen. There is discussion of what her political beliefs might have been or how she might have felt on topics of interest. The bibliography is extensive and this time around, I read it with a bookmark at the bibliography so that I could flip back and forth. (I ended up ordering two books out of the bibliography.)

Can I say it again? I love this book. I am really anxious to see what my book club thought of it tonight. Also tonight we are sharing our favorite books. I have compiled the list and I am finding it very interesting. Many of us have favorite books in common, while others have very distinctive – out there – tastes. Mine probably verge on that since I am heavily into the adventure stories and explorer biographies.

AB should be picking the last few things of the house together. I had planned to host book club outside, but it is a high of 70F today. I am not sure that is warm enough for a 7-9pm meeting… even with the fire pit going. (Ha, I suppose that should be indication of how different my life is from Helga’s.)

I have the Sangria made and we will be having tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole for snacks. Dessert nachos (baked cinnamon sugar coated flour tortillas topped with fruit and vanilla yogurt) for dessert, obviously.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A grump

That would be me. I am in a funky mood today. I don’t even really know how to explain it, other than to just call myself a grump. I don’t really feel like being here at work.

My travel request for the conference was confirmed and my division director approved my information request for my abstract. He e-mailed me this morning, a really nice note actually; I was surprised as I never get nice notes from him. Every note from him I imagine including a tagline that says “it’s not your imagination, my tone in this e-mail should be interpreted as extreme annoyance because you annoy me that much”. Anyways, he asked what exactly I planned to present and told me he had second thoughts on exposing too much of this particular research because other institutions are jumping on the bandwagon and are not above “stealing” plans/strategies/clients… So in essence, please don’t present our strategy if I can avoid it. All the while I sat there thinking “wow, he said our strategy”. And then wondered to myself what that strategy might be… doh.

We had a nice weekend. Ordered out pizza on Friday night to celebrate AB being done with the semester. (We had planned on getting a sitter and going out to dinner to celebrate – but our priorities have been reshuffled…) Saturday we got up and went to Michaels where I bought Mother’s Day craft supplies for Leif to make surprises for his grandmas (grandma is “baa-ma” - grandpa is “bom-pa” – I love that). We went to PetSmart where Leif reaffirmed his love for all creatures great and small. He insisted on sitting himself on the floor of PetSmart (ick) and giggled and squealed with delight at the rat and guinea pig. Then we watched the birds (“buds”) and looked at the fish. He only stuck his hand in 2 or 3 tanks… oops. (He didn’t catch anything.)

We needed a quick trip to Lowes to get a few “craft” supplies that Michaels didn’t have. Yes, I am sending out the bomb Mother’s Day presents from Leif this year. They are going to be gorgeous – albeit late for my MIL. We left Lowes with “a few” more things than were on the list going in.

At that point it was nearing noon, but AB suggested we push on to the grocery store and therefore finish all weekend errands. I was skeptical, but we did it. The new local grocery store is fabulous. I loved it and the produce was spectacular. We really do get great produce in this area, particularly at the Farmer’s Markets. But for some reason the local Albertsons (that is oh so convenient) seems to miss this mark. We once again bought far more than was on the list.

Once home, Leif napped and AB got a tri-tip on smoking on the BBQ. Mmmm. You just cannot even imagine how wonderful those turn out. After a winter off, AB still has it going on. I ate WAY too much of this deliciousness.

Sunday was a dreary day here, a little rainy, not very warm. We got dressed and walked down to Starbucks. Yes, *every* good Washington state resident does this (or at least that is what it seemed at Starbucks that morning). We made our way back home where we hung out around the house all day. Leif napped, I made pesto, AB read his book. I watched Food Network and was thrilled to see a one hour show on the Reno Rib CookOff. Yet another thing to make me “homesick” for Reno. The backdrop was so familiar… a few local personalities were on the show I remembered. *sigh* We loved the Rib CookOff when we lived there. AB lost his wedding ring at the Rib CookOff a mere 5 months after we were married. (Not such a fond memory from the RCO…)

I am excited to go there in June and was pleased to see that one of our favorite wine producing areas, El Dorado, is having a Solstice event that weekend. Lots of super bold zins produced in small batches. Yum. There is a little voice inside my head reminding me the region is about 2 hours away and we now sport a toddler. Just a little voice… I can shut it off and dream right now about shipping a few cases back.

Ah well. AB picked Leifers (the kids at daycare have renamed him) up and they are enjoying the sunny afternoon in the back yard. Shortly I will be heading out of here and hopefully my mood will improve upon setting foot in my car and directing it towards home… a big glass of wine… a tri-tip sandwich… and another big glass of wine.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Finally a Friday

This week has been long, probably because it has been emotionally draining. I have worked hard on a few projects, which is good. They had been two projects that had fallen on the back burners lately. I was doing the bare minimum to get by each week. Now that I have had one other task cancelled and my hours forced back on another thanks to the client not sending samples, it gave me an opportunity to catch up on these two.

I have been working on getting my travel approved to the conference in June. That has been a bear. I cannot believe the restrictions put on us by my directorate. I have been told by more than a few people that "this is just specific to your directorate, not the others". Well sorry, but here is where I reside. It really is making me insane that I was invited to chair a section of a conference, I will present a poster there, yet I can't be relied upon to charge projects appropriately for my time and travel. One of the main problems is that one of my projects does not allow for travel. At all. As part of our contract with the client - they travel to us. So my PM offered to cover 50% of my time at the conference. Wow! Thanks! Of course it appears that is "illegal", even though the conference is related to this topic, the travel accounting has to reflect the time charged. Give me an f'ing break.

Should it really be so difficult for me to go and bring recognition to my company by chairing a section and presenting research? No, it shouldn't.

One of my friends recently proposed (literally) here that all senior management who implement these rules should be required to sit down one day and see how it impacts our day and our careers. This is one situation where it is just plain ridiculous.

I had a meeting with my mentor today whereby he bashed the whole above situation with me and felt somewhat sorry to have put me in a position by recommending I contact a conference chair, when now, I may have to use vacation time and travel on my own dime... with a husband on unemployment. Oh well, I think it will eventually work itself out.

One thing that made me beam today during my mentor meeting was when he was raving about my proposal. I was very near embarrassed that he went on and on so much about it. He told me that I sold him and he was ready to dole out the cash (despite the fact that he doesn't have cash to dole out). I was really pleased that he liked it so much. Early on in the conversation he even asked me who else helped me write it. When I said no one, he suggested if this job doesn't work out I seek a job in technical writing... he doesn't know how seriously I am considering his words...


AB is home. He was doing some job hunting today, after a walk to the local Starbucks of course. There is one job he is really excited about and we are hoping he can get a referral for. He is feeling pretty sure that he won't be unemployed for long and I hope this is the case.

We don't have much planned for the weekend. Just prepping for house guests next week. I am looking forwart to my mom and stepdad getting here. We have lots planned and I am anxious for Leif to interact with them. We have plenty of wine tasting to do both locally and a trip to Walla Walla for a day of wine tasting and wandering around. AB and my stepdad are golfing at least one day.

Have a super weekend!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Swoosh went the rug

AB is home today. He was layed off yesterday. Swoosh, right out from under us.

In the larger scheme of things we are very lucky. Living on one income is not a significant burden to us. We do have to make changes as we were very used to a double income lifestyle. And of course, a chance to plan for this would have been nice, instead of AB's company INSISTING that everyone's jobs were secure (5 people total were layed off yesterday). And a lot of "extras" that we enjoy in life are going by the wayside. We are getting one more house cleaning out of our cleaner and then letting her go on Friday. *sob* I am cutting Leif's schedule back at school, effective Monday. I will take him at 8:30am as usual, but daddy will pick him up at 3:30pm, which will save money and give AB time with Leif in the afternoons and me an opportunity to work late if need be.

The worst part about this is the very awkward timing. AB is 5 credits from his Masters in Engineering, he will graduate in December. Of course, his training is as an analytical chemist, which he is seriously tired of. And jobs here for chemists are scarce as we have found in the past.
We are still assessing the options and letting this all sink in. It could be good. AB thinks it will serve as a good kick in the pants to get moving in the direction he needs to. I will admit it frightens me. Being the planner I see lots of options on the horizon, some good and some bad and some just plain different. With the recent talk of our back up plan, I fear that if something good doesn't pan out for AB in the next few months the job search will be postponed until near graduation. Which means at that point, the job search will be nationwide, and involve both of us.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ouch ouch ouch

That would be the sound of me kicking myself. Hard. My favorite stock is up significantly. I started buying it last year this time for about $26-$28 a share. Just “dabbling” a little. I had never had the luxury of extra money to invest in stocks before.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I should have listened to AB when he said, “well if you think it is going to do good, buy some more!” But no. I am a wuss. I was afraid. I have a little money to play with, but not to lose. Living in Reno for 5 years was nearly lost on me. I just am not a gambler.

Closing today at $51 a share. That is nearly 100% return on my investment.

The other day when it was in the high $40’s, AB couldn’t resist in saying “I told you so”. He held off for this long. And he did tell me so.

Yay, 100% return. Damn, I didn’t invest more.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A very productive weekend

Saturday was the last swimming lesson, Leif and I enjoyed that. I am frighteningly shocked at the kid's lack of fear. After the lesson, as usual, we hung out in the pool. A few times Leif was just going to head off swimming without me if my grip weren't so good. He found a kick board abandoned by another child on the side of the pool. He then decided he wanted to jump into the pool with the kickboard. I didn't realize his intentions until he was actually jumping. Kickboard hit me on the head, but no harm done. But he did strike panic into my heart there for a second (I am sure it will not be the last time).

I am still amazed with how much I managed to accomplish this weekend. Sunday Leif and I went to Target to get all the things I forgot about the weekend before. While there Leif found a perfect plastic "shobel" and pail. He showed everyone we walked past his new shobel.

We went to Lowes where I unenthusiastically picked through their plants. No veggie plants for some reason, so I picked out the two rose bushes I wanted ($16.99 and $19.99) and some flowers for my pots. After finding out the roses I picked out were not actually the prices they were advertised and that the roses that were *that* price were all sold out... I bought them anyways for twice the price because my patch was tilled and I didn't want to haul Leif around searching for roses. We went home for Leif's nap where for two days in a row, I put him down for a nap without driving him around. It is possible. I must overcome the laziness. I can't let my family visiting this month think I am a slacker.

With Leif asleep, AB studying, I ran to Home Depot where I picked up veggie plants and new work gloves for me. When I got home AB whined that I didn't get him new work gloves, but took a break from studying and proceeded to help me lay down my garden fabric anyway. While Leif slept I planted the two rose bushes, and most of the veggies. I also put up a small fence around the vegetable garden to keep Leif from plucking my unsuspecting plants from their warm homes. (I know my son far too well.)

Leif got up and after a snack was excited to "howp mommy shobel". He was so much help! (Said with my tongue only halfway in my cheek.) He was super at carrying the flower pots to the porch for planting and really, really good at watering. We planted strawberries in a small patch, planted our greens (spinach, cress and swiss chard) and two pots of flowers for the front porch.

Now if we could just cure whatever ails our backyard grass. We have a large patch (15x10 feet) that just dies. Every freaking year. It gets plenty of water, the ground is moist, but the grass just dies. So AB slaves over it and by the end of the year it looks as good as the rest of the yard. Just in time to go dormant until the struggle next year.

I think this year will be much easier to care for my gardens. Leif loves being "owside" and is a little more independent with his play. I still want to be outside watching him and this will give me the time I need to weed. And watering? Something I so don't need to do. Leif is obsessed with the hose. (Aren't all boys?)


Two RL friends and I are co-authoring a blog called "Confessions of a Former Foodie".

What we have in common, despite our different cooking styles and philosophies, is the need to put a good (both from a taste perspective and nutritious) meal on the table in a short amount of time. I asked rockergirrl and Soil Micro Mom to contribute to this blog with me first of all so you don't bore of me and my style, but also because they care about the food they put on their tables.

Anyways, stop by and see what we cook. If you have anything to contribute, please do!