Wednesday, February 28, 2007

B Day

Does anyone else find it weird that every single contact listed in my "Sent Items" today from work started with "B"? Considering I sent about 15 e-mails, I find this VERY odd.

Monday, February 26, 2007

2.5 year olds are the coolest

Seriously. I have heard of the terrible twos, and while things aren't quite "easy" yet... eating out is still a challenge, we are learning the meaning of the words "stop" and "no", and sitting still for anything is practically imposible, it is still fun.

Leif shows so much empathy. We were in the bath tonight and I had a pinpoint spot on my belly, where I scratched a skin tag too hard and it bled a tiny drop. He was so concerned for me and was ready to get out of the bathtub to retrieve me a band-aid right there and then.

Yesterday we were sorting through the baby clothes and he cracked me up when he pulled out a pair of tiny plain pink shoes. (A gift from the first time around with him that came without a receipt.) He had been throwing things willy nilly into the laundry basket to that point. He paused, looked at the shoes and says, "Look mommy, little piggy shoes!" Seriously cracked me up.

AB was in the attic retrieving the baby items before this and Leif stood at the base of the ladder yelling up into the abyss of the "scary place" called the attic, "Daddy, you OK?" And heaven forbid AB not answer immediately. Oh no, that would prompt screaming hysterics of "DADDY YOU OK OR NOT?"

It is amazing seeing Leif develop friendships and relationships with other kids. This morning we pulled in next to A and his mom and it was a riot seeing the boys wave at each other with smiles on their faces.

There are occasions though when Leif decides daycare isn't the place he wants to go in the morning. Lately that has meant that he comes up with random places to go visit, all requiring a trip on an airplane. "Go see cousin Otto on airplane", "Go see cousin Celeste on airplane", "Go see grandma on airplane", "Go see Sophia and Kismet airplane" (grandma's cats).

AB currently has a fascination with boats and boat building and this has worn off on Leif. If he sees a boat, he announces it. He tells me regularly that "daddy wants to build boat" and "I help daddy build boat" and also, "I want daddy have boat". (AB's favorite knowing the soft spot I have for Leif's wants...)

The other day AB was pruning our fruit trees while Leif was in eating lunch. All was good until AB opened the gate to get some branches on the trail side of the fence. Leif immediately thought that AB and Winny were going on a walk. Much sobbing ensued until I yelled at AB to come back in the yard. When even that didn't stop the sobbing completely, AB took Winny and Leif for a walk and brought back two happy, very exhausted beings. Leif was still wound up though and nap was still a challenge.

He is such a good kid. Busy, active, curious, but good. I worry we are jinxing ourselves by having a second.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Do you have any idea how many green Subaru Outbacks are around?

I do.

Because Leif points out every.single.one on our trip to and from daycare.

"Look there's daddy!" To the first one.

"Hi daddy, hi daddy!" To the next one that pulls up next to us (with a woman in it with long hair).

"Mommy, there's daddy's car!" To the third going the opposite direction as we are.

Repeat ad nauseum.

The Hot Seat

AB and I both had our time in the hot seat today. He is in the market for a new job after his most recent “part time” expedition ended less then favorably last week. He was left stunned, ticked, and happy all at once. Stunned that the job ended, ticked at how it ended and happy he never had to go back there again.

Today one of his goals was to head out in person to a few engineering firms and walk in with resume in hand. I really think in today’s computer age, this is a good way to get someone to actually look at your resume. I don’t know how many countless resume e-mails or online postings AB has done and then never hears anything about. I am sure companies just get so many submissions, many from unqualified applicants just putting their resume out there with a click of the mouse “just in case” and the qualified applicants get lost. It gets so frustrating. Figuring out how to stand out in a crowd is key. Last summer he very nearly landed a position with an engineering firm with this method, walk in, introduce self and hand them the resume. Although the firm really liked him, they couldn’t drum up enough work for him without his degree in hand. (They were on the list for a visit in the coming week.)

This afternoon he called me from the road having just dropped off his resume with the firm of interest. Hangs up the phone and evidently they phoned him asking him to turn around and come in for an interview (and sorry about the short notice). Sorry? No need to be sorry when you are asking someone for an interview!

Anyways, AB can hardly sit still. The job is his “dream job” and evidently he told them so! They ended by telling him they would talk amongst themselves and then call him back for a second interview. AB is so worried he is being overconfident and letting himself get too worked up and excited about this prospect. But wow, for the first time in five years a job that he actually wants and is gung ho about? It could be huge!

My hot seat was a little different. My performance review was this morning for the year ending in 2006. My manager, after consulting with her last week about an issue I was having with a coworker, remembered that I am hugely pregnant and by the time she got down the list to do my review, I would likely be out on leave. She had her admin fit me in today.

We sat across the table from each other, with a box of Kleenex in between us for our respective (albeit mild) colds (thank you children). She went over my written review, which was far more complimentary to me then I ever expected. She told me I had “performed solidly” at my current level and I earned a “Meets Expectations” as I had expected I would and she had told me I likely would last year at this time. She told me that everything in my feedback forms were positive from my coworkers, that she couldn’t even pick out anything negative to harp on me about. (Making me feel a little guilty when I write my feedback forms… I always look for something, even a minor little nitpicky thing, that the person could work on in the coming year. Hey, it asks for it in black and white!)

I have no complaints really. There are days when I am not 100% happy here, but for the most part as long as I am busy, I am happy. There are things I want to see change, I want more funding, I want more responsibility for my own projects, but I have to earn these things. I don’t desire a promotion at this point and I fully recognize I have a lot to accomplish before even hoping for a promotion. Right now my number one priority is my family, providing for my family through my job is obviously way, way up there. But it is hard for a 9 month pregnant woman to walk in and say “my job is my number one priority, everything else can go by the wayside”. Truly I don’t know many women who could pull that off, particularly with a woman manager who has three children.

Sure, I want the cash that goes along with the promotion to the next level. But truth be told, I earn a good wage where I am. I got a nice raise in January and we make ends meet (better when AB has a job, of course).

The only thing I can say that really got me excited and made me really perk up in the review was her mentioning her desire to establish a writing support and mentoring program within our group. My division is notorious for not publishing, mostly due to the nature of the work, but also in part due to it being a haven where people who don’t like to write hang out. Personally, I see this as detrimental to my career if I don’t publish because I don’t necessarily see myself here (be it in this division or on a larger scale at this lab) my entire life. I have to keep up my publishing record (which has already fallen way behind my peers) if I hope to compete anywhere else. Plus, I like to write.

She asked me if I would be interested in helping in this program in our group. In my feedbacks, there were compliments on my writing skills. I am tapped regularly to help assemble papers even for the group I left a few years ago. This thrilled me. I told her I would love the opportunity to work with others in my group to not only help them pull together their research for papers, but if there is need, to do technical writing for people who plain don’t want to do it. I hope to see this develop in the coming year.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

More then you really wanted to know about "dream wines"

A more in depth response to the Wine Press Northwest blog questions regarding “dream wines”. I commented, but it was brief. Thought it might make for a good set of questions to throw out here. Hey, I actually went and registered to comment on the site, entertain me and comment here, go to the WPNW site through the link on the side, or post in your blog for me to read.

1. “What was the first wine that really hit your pleasure button, that sent you down the road of wine love?”

2. “What is the greatest wine you ever tasted?”

3. “What wine would you like to drink if price was no object?”

My answers:

1. I always liked wine. My first real exposure to it as an adult was from a guy I dated my freshman and sophomore year in college. He fancied himself a wine snob and food snob. I have to admit, I learned a lot about cooking from him, but wine? Knowing what I know now, he knew little. His favorite pairing was “a fruity Beaujolais” with just about anything. He chastised me for wanting my red wine chilled because I was “supposed” to drink it at room temperature. This is an issue I will never give up, if you like it chilled, then by all means, drink it chilled. Don’t be surprised if your guests warm their glasses up with their hands, but if you like it that way, cheers.

I can’t think of any wines he introduced me to that were memorable in any way, except I will never forget Beaujolais Day exists. I worked for a physician while in college who liked wine. He recommended to me one year that I join a wine of the month club and I spent far more money taking his advice and doing this then I should have. But I tasted different varietals and learned that reds weren’t just reds.

What really tipped the scales for me regarding wine was when AB and I joined some of our friends in Napa Valley for a wine trip/demolition of a house trip. Our friend (AB’s childhood friend) was working for an architect who bought a house there and gave him free reign to use the house, destroy it and, oh, visit some wineries while you are there. He recommended Pine Ridge winery. Since there were about 10 or more of us, he called ahead and scheduled a tour.

This was the single best tour and first introduction to wine I could have asked for. We arrived, by bicycle, (huffing and puffing – well AB and I were, the others resided in San Fran and biked all over the city). We toured the grounds, asked very stupid questions of a guy who was about our age and was obviously having as much fun as we were, then went in to see the cellar and do barrel tasting. All in all that morning we spent a few hours, drank about 10 bottles of wine total (at our $5 tasting fee per person) and left wow’d. Few of us could actually justify buying a bottle of their wine, though we all wanted to. My wine moment was barrel tasting their 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon. I was sold. No one need ever bring me a glass of Fetzer again. Beer – no thanks. Good wine was on my radar and Pine Ridge was forever in my heart.

2. The greatest wine I ever tasted. This is hard. Partly because right now, with my current state of mind and physical being (aka full term pregnant) I find myself craving “red, anything red”. That Fetzer mentioned above would probably even hit the spot. Frankly, the K Syrah we had the other night, my two sips… fantastic, and would probably qualify in this category. However, I don’t trust my tastebuds right now and think I will have to try that one again. ;-)

I have tasted some good wines over the last decade or so. It is about right now that I am chastising myself for letting my wine journal go relatively untouched. The Prager Royal Escort Port rings out and I can’t wait to try it again when we finally break open that bottle. (Maybe AB’s graduation party…)

AB and I were big Franciscan Magnificat fans and I used to relish each drop of that Meritage. Still it isn’t the “best” wine. (AB argues citing the ’96 and ’97 vintages.) We had some great Ravenswood vineyard specific zins that we finally finished off after aging for about a decade that wow’d us. In fact, I think I commented recently about the demise of our last bottle when I opened it on accident, mistaking it for a Vintner’s Blend. We enjoyed it with pizza. Then there is Amarone… mmmm…. And oh, that Dunham Syrah… the Thurston Wolfe Petite Syrah that V brought over…

My answer finally comes down to a 1997 Mt. Veeder Zinfandel that we picked up from the Franciscan winery on a trip in the late 90’s. We saved it until just two years ago and then popped the baby open for Easter with AB’s smoked prime rib. Wow.

3. The last question is hard for me. Yes, Opus One is up there. I want to see what all the hype is about. Similarly is Leonetti. When AB and I lived in Reno we used to frequent the local wine shop’s Wednesday night tastings. I remember the regulars who stood around in heels or their “California sheik” dropping names like Opus One, Cakebread, Harlan, and Screaming Eagle. And they shamelessly (and vocally) compared every single wine they tasted to “the most recent bottle of X I had”. (Where X are the four previous named.) I heard Cakebread mentioned so frequently that one day I decided with my monetary award from a teaching recognition, I was going to buy a bottle of Cakebread cab. I got the wine store and I couldn’t do it. I could not drop $80 on a bottle, open it and drink it. It frightened me. I am quite positive I bought shoes instead.

My final answer to this question is a French Bordeaux. I know little about anything French other than what varietals comprise a Bordeaux. I would love to compare them to some of our favorite Meritages here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Once upon a time...

In a galaxy far, far away I dreamt of being an artist. (Add it to the list right... astronaut, teacher, doctor... what didn't I want to be?) My uncle (my mom's youngest brother) is a fabulous artist. He paints and throws pottery. My grandfather was excellent using his hands and my dad's mom is also an artist. So it came as no surprise to anyone that I wasn't half bad at art.


My forte was drawing and I preferred using charcoal or ink. I never took any formal pottery classes, but wasn't half bad at the potter's wheel either. I have a couple wobbley pots that I threw in high school and as a freshman in college when I joined a pottery co-op. I loved photography, but found my photos to be all quite cliche'ish. Drawing really was my thing.


When AB and I were first dating I surprised him one day when I sat down and sketched him. We married a few months before our 10-year reunions, actually attended mine, and I think he was surprised when most people assumed I must be getting my Ph.D. in art and not chemistry. Honestly, they surprised me thinking that too. I guess along the way in those 10 years I forgot that was what most people remembered me for in high school. Who remembers the kids in science class? Not many people, but everyone remembers the artistic ones who doodled all over their folders and binders and drew for others, or the dancers who wow'd us on stage, or the athletes (oh wait, I don't remember any of them...).


I went to college where I started out majoring in art and biology with the intention of being a medical/scientific illustrator. I decided I wasn't a biologist, and I got tired of the serious amount of time and energy I was expected to put into my art major. After doing all my "real" classwork and labs I didn't have the time to sit and draw all day. (And if one more professor asked me to draw an egg, I thought I just might vomit. Have you ever drawn an egg? It is dang hard!) My art grades suffered. I dropped the art major after my first year in college telling myself when I was a famous scientist I could illustrate my own books, I didn't need a degree when I had talent.


Well I am a scientist now... not a famous one. And no prospects for illustrating books. Though I have had occasion to whip up drawings here and there (mostly to be turned over to crafts for them to build said object on the piece of paper). I used to keep a sketch book around, but I don't even do that anymore. So life as a scientific illustrator? Yeah isn't that why they have great digital cameras now? My need to do art in my profession has not been there.


And only rarely do I have the time and desire for art in my personal life. I have a drawing of my cat I made before she passed almost three years ago. That drawing is precious to me. I have a portfolio sitting in a closet somewhere that I move around as needed, but rarely open. It just isn't a part of my life anymore.


That is until... my son needed an elephant on his wall. Ignore the Orphan Annie eyeball... this is an in progress drawing that AB took of me painting today. The full room will be posted later - after we convince Leif to actually sleep in the room with the elephant and get his bed and dresser moved over. (The leaves on the base extend around the entire room.)


Friday, February 16, 2007

A conversation with Leif

“What this mommy?” Leif asks pointing at the picture of Half Dome (Yosemite National Park) on my cell phone background.

“That’s called Half Dome sweety, it’s a big rock,” I told him.

“I go there,” Leif tells me.

“Yeah, mommy will take you there someday,” I tell him recalling with fondness our camping trip to Yosemite pre-Leif and completely ignoring the fact that someday=today for Leif.

“We go Half Dome now,” he tells me on the way to the car this morning.

“No sweety, today we are going to school. Half Dome is about 18 hours away, we would have to drive all day and daddy would miss us,” I tell him.

Silence.

“We go airplane, go Half Dome,” he tells me.

There was much disappointment this morning when we arrived neither at the airport nor at Half Dome.

I've gone soft

Nearly five years ago I arrived here as a post-doc, fresh and wide eyed out of graduate school. I knew my group had admins and techs, but I had no idea what they did. I was used to doing everything myself and so went about that the next few years. Admin were there to tell me how to do things (like use the laminator) and techs were there to tell help me find the missing 9/16” wrench.

Something happened though along the way.

Yesterday I sat with a Swagelok catalog in front of me, I looked at all the options. Then I reminisced about those days when I used to work on that big project and there were drawers of fittings. I would take my tube over and scrounge until I made things work. Now I have my own project and no drawers and drawers of fittings to rummage around (without someone getting extremely irritated with me).

I flipped around the catalog some, feeling a little lost, NPT, VCR, Cajon, what do I need? I spent five minutes at this and then decided it just wasn’t worth my time. I have a mechanical engineer who can do this. I e-mailed him my requirements and a charge code.

Later yesterday I got a phone call telling me I have a file on a hard drive that is being sent out. Oh, that means I would need to walk over to the other building across the street. “Let me give you a charge code to do that for me and put it on a cd,” I told the admin. “No problem,” she replied.

Yes, I’ve gone soft. I cannot live without admin and technical support.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cat Scratch Fever

One day when I was pregnant with Leif, AB got in my car to go somewhere. After getting back he decided we needed classical cds not only for our house, but for me to listen to in my car. He had gotten in my car and been greeted by something blaring from my cd player that was “not the type of music a baby should listen to”. I don’t remember what it was…

He did buy a set of 10 classical cds (and I surprised him by knowing a lot of the composers and the music – thank you nine years of piano lessons). But they never made it to my car. I remember telling him I loved my music and I was going to listen to whatever I wanted in there. (I might have even added that the talk shows he listened to were equally offensive… or at least I might have thought it at the time.) My reasoning is that music has been shown to increase math comprehension and it isn’t like the baby in my tummy could understand or probably even discern the words.

I grew up with music. My dad plays guitar and one of my favorite pictures of he and I is one of me sitting on his lap on the bed with the guitar in front of us. He and my mom were also just plain music fans. We weren’t a TV family early on, but there was always music on. I am still a big music fan of nearly all types. AB marveled the other day that my 2Gb iPod I got for Christmas is nearly at capacity already.

But now I am a mom. (Does that hang like dead weight in heavy air or what?) About Christmastime Leif started paying attention to and commenting on the music in my car. Of course at that time of year it was XM Radio’s Christmas music round the clock channels. So we sang Jingle Bells and all the favorites (wow was I surprised when he knew the words to Feliz Navidad… thank you daycare). Just the other night he brought me (again…) “The Twelve Days of Christmas” book… we always sing it. And truly, no one should know all twelve verses by heart in February.

We were driving home the other night and a song came on that I hadn’t heard in ages, Primus’, Big Brown Beaver. I reached over to crank it… loud was my intention. Then caught a glimpse of my lovely, innocent 2.5 year old in the back seat. Hesitation. I tried telling myself it was about an animal and therefore ok. I couldn’t even sell it to myself. But then I thought back to when I was a little kid. My favorite song ever was Ted Nugent’s, Cat Scratch Fever. Why? Because I liked cats.

Then there was my stepbrother when I was an early teen, and he was much younger. We were listening to Prince’s Darling Nicky. I remember Brett asking us who “Mr Bailey” was and why he was with a magazine. We sent him to his mom for that answer… I think she finally determined what he was asking (all the while his older brother and I sat giggling hearing him ask about “Mr Bailey with the magazine”) and I think my Prince cassette tape went missing shortly thereafter.

There is a lot of music out there I hope my kids never choose to listen to. My goal is to offer them exposure to lots of different other musical options and emphasize music as an art, and sorry, there is some music out there that is not art.

In one instance I want to shelter my kids from everything for as long as possible. But in another I think back to me as a kid and want to rely on their childhood innocence. But in the 21st century, is childhood innocence still applicable? But the real question becomes, do I really want my son going into daycare singing “Winona had herself a big brown beaver and she showed it off to all her friends”?

Brain out of hibernation

Pregnancy brain is a real thing. It isn’t just an excuse. But there are spurts of genius that happen during this time. The past month or so at teleconference with my industry client, they probably hardly knew I was there. I had nothing to add, no suggestions, I felt useless and guilty for charging time to the project, and I blamed pregnancy brain.

But today I had a spurt! Sean Connery (or his look alike at least) was trying to beg out of a list of experiments telling us which were stupid, would tell us nothing, were a waste of his time, etc. I finally (after three attempts) succeeded in butting into his rant, telling him which ones weren’t inane and proposing an experiment and then giving the whys. He kind of sat there looking at me dumbfounded. Everyone was quiet. I worried that I missed something, I could feel my face getting red. Then the silence was broken.

“I agree, great plan NM,” comes the project manager’s voice from the other end of the conference phone.

Sean Connery heaves a big sigh and starts trying to jab holes. The manager who I recently approached about joining his group looks at me and says, “no, that’s genius, it should answer a lot of questions”, and then starts listing them off. He gives me a thumbs up as he is speaking.

I hope I just earned my use of this charge code for the last 6 weeks.


Work has been weighing heavily on my mind the past few days. I have found myself getting busier lately, which is par for the course for this time of year. I can cover my time 100%... for now. We will see what the status is after maternity leave.

I had a confrontation to initiate yesterday. Normally I would have zipped off an angry e-mail within minutes of the issue coming to light. But the fact that the e-mail landed in my Inbox at 4:49pm and I am out of here (supposedly) to get Leif at 4:45pm, I got to stew over it all night instead. And well, if I had to stew over it all night, then what is a few more hours? I ended up going to my manager and getting her blessing and encouragement in confronting my coworker.

I can be an incredibly confrontational person if I am not careful. Often, in an attempt not to come off so confrontational, I downplay it and end up coming off more as a wuss, or a pushover. A problem I think a lot of women in power situations have… I had to keep reminding myself that I wanted to be like S (a woman no one messes with) and not a wussy girl. It took a delicate balance, but I think I succeeded. My coworker came to me this morning with an apology, a (lame as could be) excuse, and an offer to go to the people necessary to “make it right”. Frankly, I was shocked. AB told me he didn’t expect I would hear word one from the coworker, but that my words should work as an “I’m onto you” warning. Anyways, confrontation done, I won. And when he offered me his head on a chopping block to his manager I passed. High road. And hopes that the “I’m onto you” warning stuck and I am not just being completely na├»ve.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Life list version 2

Falling under the list of things I have done and that I want to share with my children:

-Sledding down a really big hill.
-Cross country skiing under a full moon.
-The Monterey Bay aquarium
-Seeing an active volcano (Kilauea or Arenal)
-Vacationing in Washington DC, attending the Smithsonian museums
-Camping in Yellowstone National Park
-Camping in Yosemite National Park
-Swimming in hot springs at Thermopolis, WY.
-Road trip to South Dakota: Mt. Rushmore, Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, Black Hills
-Casa Bonita (if it makes no sense… don’t ask, you probably don’t want to know.)
-Salmon fishing in Alaska
-Skiing/snowboarding at Mammoth, Crested Butte, Steamboat…
-Seeing the Northern Lights
-Go to the Shakespeare Festival at Lake Tahoe.
-The Larkspur Renaissance Festival
-Katmai National Park and Preserve (to see “The Bears”)
-Go see the Land of 10,000 Smokes
-Snorkel somewhere in pristine waters (Cozumel or Hawaii)
-Go to Arches National Park

Sunday, February 11, 2007

One more weekend down

For as busy as AB was this weekend, we really got a lot done. I had hoped to have Leif's new bedroom finished, at least the base coat and the bottom "leaves" section done, but probably not the elephant. Well we got the base coat done (after running out of paint Saturday night and making a quick trip to Home Depot this morning - I *never* run out of paint... check my garage. I have an abundance of every color in our house sitting on a shelf in there). The "leaves" section is about 1/3 of the way done. AB gave me the chance after dinner to go in and at least get the leaves most of the way finished. I just didn't have the energy.

If I may say so myself, so far, it looks fantastic. Really, really happy with it. Before doing the base coat I sketched out the elephant for spacing, just to get an idea of size and potential pitfalls. This really peaked Leif's interest in more than one way. First, an elephant on the wall! Second, mommy drew on the wall! If mommy can do it... Yeah... pens, crayons, markers, pencils and paint have been removed from his reach.

I am pleased with what has been accomplished. I set out this weekend skeptical and moody about the likelihood of failure in accomplishing the goals. So the goals weren't accomplished 100%... they are darn close. And it should really only take me an evening to finish the leaves.

The best part? Leif loves it so far.

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Aside from the painting, the weekend was low key. We went swimming. Why is it that I only see people I know from work at the pool when *I* am in my bathing suit? Two different sets of people. V and I took the kids to Wendy's afterwards for lunch, then I made a trip to Lowes for paint tape to finish up the last little tiny bit of taping left. And we went home.

Leif refused, flat out refused, to nap. Since AB was at work most of Saturday, and I was already exhausted from swimming and lunch, this made my afternoon pure misery. *I* need Leif to nap, especially at 35 weeks pregnant.

Leif has picked up a new saying from somewhere. I assume it is daycare since it isn't something we routinely say... "oh man". He just cracks us up with this. It is something I can envision his main teacher saying.

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Oh and indulge me one mommy brag. My kid is a stellar eater. Just had to say that. This morning he told me he was hungry. I offered him Goldfish. He told me "no" and so I asked him what he wanted? Grapefruit, he tells me. Ok... I went out to the garage and retrieved one of the few remaining and highly prized grapefruits directly from Texas (thanks dad). He ate the entire thing.

We went to the grocery store and finagled a car cart. (One of those things that is a lifesaver and when child-less, always cursed and swore *I* would never use.) Leif was in the car and when he saw me getting broccoli asked to hold it. I handed him the bag of broccoli. A little later I noticed a woman laughing at Leif as she walked by the cart. I looked down, he had the crown out of the bag and was eating the broccoli! I would have let him continue, but the fact it hadn't been rinsed skeeved me out a little. I pilfered a banana from the produce department in exchange for the broccoli. (Of course I also bought another single banana and had them ring it up twice.)

Tonight for dinner, I actually had to take the broccolini away from Leif's reach, in some vain effort to try to get him to eat something else on his plate. It didn't work... the pasta went untouched and he only had a few bites of steak, but he had 8 stalks of broccolini! (And AB wonders why I gave in and gave him a gummy shark after dinner when he asked.)

Like AB said... now if we could just start following his example better ourselves. We obviously eat fruits and vegies, but probably not nearly as many as we should.

Ok, mommy brag over.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Life List

You have most likely heard about them and seen some out there. Most recently I caught one on a Visa ad in a magazine, how Visa can help you achieve your life list. Ellen DeGeneres is big on making a life list this season (not that I actually am at home to watch her, though she does crack me up, but her show plays on XM Radio over lunch and I catch it on occasion). Then there are books like “1000 Things to See Before You Die”. In a way it seems somewhat morbid to me, but in another it is reality, we don’t live forever so during your time here what do you want to do/accomplish?

Having things in writing is a great motivator. About a year before AB and I left Northern Nevada we made a list of things we wanted to do, not knowing when we would get back there. Truly it is a great area with lots to offer, we fell in love with it and would easily consider moving back if there were jobs for both of us. Of course the downside is the public education, it sucked. Anyways, back to the topic at hand. On our list before we left Reno we wanted to do things like; go to a bottle your own wine event at Coulson Winery in the Sierra Foothills (a lot of fun), go swim at the hot springs just south of Carson City (not all it was cracked up to be), go to Yosemite (can’t wait to go back), visit Mammoth one last time (can I go back tomorrow? And not just for the Coach outlet), go to the Black Rock Desert and swim in the natural hot springs (fabulous, never made it for Burning Man though), go to Napa and Sonoma one more time (yum), drive 101 South to Monterey (gorgeous), hit the Shakespeare Festival at Lake Tahoe once more (fabulous). I don’t think there was anything on our list we didn’t do, but we were also DINKs (though my income was minimal). We were busy nearly that entire year. How I wrote my dissertation, I am not sure.

So let’s take that concept and enlarge it in all aspects. Instead of one year, assume we have 50 or so more, and instead of one region, the options are endless. (I am limiting this one to my personal list, I have another one in the works that is more limited in scope, with regards to what I want to share with my children.) What would you do?

Here’s my list in progress (and in no specific order) so far:

-Read War and Peace
-Build a cabin from the ground up.
-Do a triathlon
-Sail the Inside Passage
-See a whale in the wild
-See a polar bear in the wild
-Go back to see both Kilauea and Arenal volcanoes while they are still active.
-Go helicopter (or holy-topter if you are Leif) skiing in British Columbia.
-Drink a bottle of Opus One (I have to see if it is all it is cracked up to be).
-Go to Italy and swim in the warm waterfall I have heard about.
-Go to Sweden to the region where my great grandmother’s family hails from.
-See the World Trade Center monument.
-Hear Richard Thompson in concert (yes… again… sorry AB).
-Eat foie gras.
-Go to New Orleans
-Eat in a Michelin three star restaurant
-Go deep sea fishing (with lots of Dramamine)
-Cross the Arctic Circle
-Meet a president and have my picture taken shaking his/her hand.
-Go to the Grand Canyon.
-See a space shuttle lift off in person.
-Go to the Olympics (Canada 2010?)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Names take 4

AB and I found the perfect boy’s name. We saw it online, said it out loud and looked at each other. This was it! We both smiled. Baby boy Koen.

Then we said it with our last name. Gone. Poof. (Come on, I wasn't really going to disclose it if it was *the* name!)

The search for the perfect boy’s name is still on.

(Oh and Leif has decided that the baby should be named either Oscar or Turtle.)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Staring into the crystal ball

And it is still foggy.

We very nearly have had a house land in our laps. It is driving AB nearly insane. It is on our same street, just down the end of the far end of our loop. The house sits perpindicular to ours. When it was just the lot there, AB coveted it. It is a huge lot on two levels, 1.2 acres overlooking a stream. One day someone bought the lot and AB mourned a little, I was somewhat relieved to not have to hear about what a perfect lot it was anymore. When they started building the house we became intruigued and used to go walk through it and imagine where things were going.

The house was finished about two years ago and now sits occupied and for sale. This is killing AB (not that I am claiming immunity). It is about 700 square feet larger than our house, most of that is probably the large bonus room. Exactly the space I have been coveting for a playroom, a place I could have a corner for sewing... It has a three car garage with an RV/boat pad and a shed in the back "upper" yard. It overlooks a creek and we would never have to worry about someone building behind us.

The "lower" back yard has been fenced in with a chain link fence and covered in rock to minimize weeds. AB talks about what a perfect place to build a shop to build his boat. (Yes, the income tax Gods have smiled on us this year, AB will be getting a boat kit a little later this spring.) We really like our neighborhood with its immediate proximity to everything, a grocery store a block away, urgent care a stone's throw, Costco less than a mile, the mall as well. And lately our area is really booming with small businesses. The proximity of our neighborhood to everything we want is something we will have a hard time surrendering when we move from this house.

We could swing the house, it isn't outside our price range like so many of the view lots and houses we have looked at over the last 1.5 years or so. Our problem is the uncertainty in our future. Will AB find a job here after graduating? Or will we kick this place in the category of "we lived there once" and head out for the great unknown?

If it were just 3 - 6 months later in the year, where we hope to have our lives figured out a little bit more. After talking about it most of the day yesterday, AB picked up the phone this morning and called the agent to see when we can see the inside. My reasoning is this... I don't want to keep saying "what if". I want to see the inside of the house, finished, and decide now that it isn't a house I want. Then we can move on and get it out of our heads. Or we can fall in love and start forcing some decisions.

Houses aren't moving quickly in our area right now. Not like they were 5 years ago when we moved here. We can hope that the house sits unsold for a few months and maybe they will entertain of a "low-ball" offer. Ideal.

Dreams... part of me hopes when we go see the house next Saturday that we will walk in and not like the layout or that our other "necessities" (large kitchen, walk in pantry) will not be met. Because then we won't have a very tough decision to make.

Friday, February 02, 2007

12 step program for iTunes addicts?

I have exhausted my $50 iTunes gift certificate my mom gave me for Christmas and have been threatening to tackle AB's gift certificate. He has fears of this. Not that I will exhaust his as well... no his fears are different. He worries that my "eclectic" music selection will be permanently attached to his name.

Ok, I admit it, I can be a little manic in my music selection. I am proud that I am probably the only one who has downloaded Billy Idol's "White Wedding" followed directly by John Denver's, "Take Me Home, Country Roads". (AB informs me this isn't necessarily something to be proud of... more something that should make you want to go hide your head under your pillow.)

One band has returned to my radar recently. Awhile back I got a song on my mind. I spent two days humming it and singing the couple phrases I would remember to AB. I kept telling him he HAD to remember it. I remember him liking it!

"You know that song, 'mmm mmm mmm, once there was a girl who la la la... birthmarks all over her body... la la la'," I sang for at least two days, "who sang that?"

Finally after realizing AB was going to be absolutely no help at all in this quest and that he wasn't even trying anymore to help me remember, I went and found a site to search song lyrics. I only had to type in one word, "birthmarks" and was blessed with the answer to my question. Crash Test Dummies and the song was "mmm mmm mmm mmm". Bingo!

I cruised to iTunes, downloaded it, sync'd it to my iPod and then took it in and made AB listen to the whole thing. He was still perplexed and finally admitted that maybe he had heard it before, but didn't remember for sure. He was sure I had to have remembered this song from an ex liking it. Yeah, none of my exes were that cool... nice try though.

I went and downloaded another song by the Crash Test Dummies, "Superman's Song". Ok, so this song may be from 1994, but I am loving it again. Playing it all the time, can't get enough. It is seriously competing with Blue October's "Into the Ocean" for my current favorite song. (Which quite possibly could change anyday... because I am manic like that with music.)

Ok, love iTunes. Just thought I would say that.

The best thing about it being Friday...

Knowing that I don’t need to find a charge code to cover my time for the next two days! Work is tight around the lab. Rumors of layoffs are being confirmed. Thankfully I am not in the bracket of people that needs to worry… yet. Still it is in lean times like this that charging my time gives me a headache. I was actually busy all week working on a report to be sent off. Today my time has been a little less occupied, but I did visit a coworker and get the okay to push forward again on our paper. That will lighten up the money drain on my other project, as well as the load on my poor, starting to get swollen feet.

We really don’t have much planned for the weekend. I really want to get a good start on painting the guest bedroom (how long have I been saying that now), but AB has an exam on Tuesday. I knew there was a reason I was pushing to get this room started BEFORE he started back to class!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The quest for San Marzanos

The other day while flipping through my Sunset magazine (seriously my favorite magazine ever) I came across a new tomato varietal that I was not familiar with, the San Marzano tomato. I pulled out the little blip about it and set it aside for AB.

Last year we were horribly disappointed with our local selection of tomato plants. Granted we didn’t get ourselves to many of the specialty nurseries around, and relied on what we could find at a few nearby places. At the last minute, ok, probably well beyond the last minute, I picked up a pack of seeds and tossed them in the garden in hopes that one or two would pop up and yield a decent heirloom plant. No dice. After 4 years of gardening in our little plot we get plenty of things that pop up and grow wild, arugula, cilantro, Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, an occasional cabbage (one popped up last November of all times), so I was a little surprised that not a single heirloom seed popped and prospered.

This past summer our garden went somewhat neglected. AB did a good job of maintaining his tomatoes, Leif loved picking spinach and chard early in the summer, everything else grew wild or flittered into oblivion. Reason? I was early in my first trimester of pregnancy and horribly sick when everything started yielding. Going out and working in the garden was one of the last things on my mind.

This year I resolved to pare everything back to a tolerable level. Maybe six tomato plants, spread with great distances between them, some chard and spinach and maybe a few cabbages since those are the only things we consistently eat from the garden. We usually hit our very fantastic Farmer’s Market regularly and I resolved to buy everything else from there.

Sounded good in theory. Until the San Marzano tomato flew across our radar. It is cited as an heirloom “for canning, paste and a killer spaghetti sauce”. Well with that endorsement AB sent me to the website and has in the past few days talked about “I can’t wait to try that new San Marzano tomato!” I figured since it was in Sunset and all, I better get us in line for seedlings to ship later this spring.

Well to my surprise (or maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised), the San Marzano is available as seeds only and I wasn’t able to find seedlings. (Ok, I didn’t look *that* hard.) And with that, my thoughts of a low scale “tomato only” garden from seedlings went out the window.

I have never grown tomatoes from seed (on purpose). Suddenly I thought of how much fun it would be to undertake this task with Leif. I went through the Seeds of Change website and picked out a total of 4 interesting looking tomato plant seed packets (San Marzano, Red Calabash, Pleated Zapotec and the Arkansas Traveler). Against my better judgment I took a look at their other vegetable seeds.

I checked out after $60 spent for a seed growing system with earth plugs and seeds for shell peas, snow peas, leeks, carrots, cucumbers, spinach, broccoli raab, chard and two basil varietals. I was unimpressed with the cabbage selection and so will seek those seeds elsewhere. Restraint? I have none.

Not like I have anything else to do this spring… right?

"The Three Little Pigs and Jesus"

Last night we were reading Alaska’s Three Pigs. The book is deceptively short appearing. A thin paperback. Then you open it up and the words are tiny. But Leif likes it and it is a pretty funny book (for people from Alaska or with connections to Alaska at least… love the pigs in beards and sporting flannels).

Leif loves reading books and never wants to skip pages, so when he started trying to page ahead I asked him what he was looking for?

“Where’s baby Jesus?” he asks.

“Oh honey, I don’t think baby Jesus is in this book,” I told him.

“Yes, baby Jesus this book, where?”

I put Alaska’s Three Little Pigs aside in favor of one of the Easter books where we could see pictures and read about “baby Jesus all grown up” – while skipping the section about death on the cross. (Plenty of time later for that.)