Thursday, April 26, 2007


How quickly can you be packed up and ready to be gone for 5 days? How about when you add a toddler and an infant in there, how long will it take? All of us and one large dog and an SUV - thereby limiting the items you can pack to under the kids feet, the soft roof rack carrier and what you can reasonably fit around the dog in the back?

Sounds like we are fleeing the country doesn't it. Nope, just fleeing the city for 5 days.

We had planned on going to the coast next Friday and staying at AB's family's place. Today I sat down in front of the computer with the phone and started calling to make reservations for grey whale watching while over there. Leif will love it and it is something on my life list. but imagine my horror when the woman I talked to at the first charter tells me that our dates might not work, it appears the whales may be moving on. This was confirmed by the rest of the charter companies on our list.

I thought we were out of luck. Then my husband, Mr. Spontaneity, jumps in and says "well let's pack up and go tomorrow!"

I (Mrs. Non-Spontaneity) was reluctant. Finally I worked through in my mind. We don't have anything that we can't either reschedule or bail on our friends with (sorry guys). So I called the first charter back and booked a whale watching trip in a town 7 hours away for Saturday afternoon. The real tradeoff for the trip is that we won't be able to be gone for quite as long, we were planning 7 days before, but now the trip will just be 5 days, but will include whales. A worthy tradeoff in my opinion.

We are leaving tomorrow morning and driving 5 hours to the family cabin (which AB confirmed was open for the weekend). Spending the night there and then driving across the Olympic peninsula to the ocean side to Westport, WA and meeting our 2pm charter.

Leif is going to FLIP when he realizes he gets to go on a boat (something he has been asking to do for weeks now, my MIL even checked into a boat tour to go on this past weekend so we could address this). He might just fly over the moon though when we get out and he gets to see whales! Ok, *I* might fly right over the moon with him.

We have a few other things planned for the trip. AB wants to go to Olympia and visit a boat building shop. Now that he has defended his Masters he gets to make a decision and order either a kit or plans to start his new project. We want to do some clamming. And Leif and I plan on beachcombing at every daytime low tide that we can. This is a special treat for those of us (that would be me) who didn't grow up next to an ocean.

So instead of fiddling around on the computer anymore, I need to go continue packing and get a grocery list made for once we get to town tomorrow. We will return next Tuesday evening!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Visiting NM and AB anytime soon?

I have to admit, there is something you probably should know. You can't cook in my house. It just won't work. We can deal with someone acting as a sous chef, but flat out cooking for us? Can you say controlling? One exception, my mom can come and bake all the wants. And I might make an exception for other extraordinary bakers... I won't balk at anyone baking me a pie!

My poor MIL has found this rule out the hard way on her visit the past few days.

AB and I love to cook. We love to cook good food and on top of that we are particular about the foods we cook and how they are cooked. Example, you might get some serious ribbing if you bring 4 lbs of good quality $11/lb meat into our house and intend to boil it to cook it. That is called making stock, not cooking meat for dinner.

My MIL finally lamented about how my BIL and SIL let her come in and cook and fill their freezer with food after the birth of their son in December. AB and I felt bad. We ARE a *little* overbearing about food quality (see above), kitchen techniques and the proper way to do things (a fresh cut onion is not wrapped lightly in Saran Wrap and put in the cheese drawer and my top of the line, freshly honed Henckels never ever ever go in the dishwasher).

We need to back off. There is more than one way to do things... or so I hear. We really are grateful for the assistance, particularly that part of cooking dinner AB and I both loathe, cleaning up. Or... easier yet, come to our house and let us cook for you!

(Tonight we are ordering out Mexican and making margaritas... this will make everyone happy!)


Heard over the baby monitor while he was having "quiet time".

*ring ring* (play phone)

"Hello, hello?" Leif says.

"Mommy here?" he says, "no mommy in bathtub with Nemo and Lightning McQueen."

(Note to self, it will be a long time before Leif is allowed to answer the phone!)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Fun with the camera


Skadi at 3 weeks
Leif at 3 weeks

The news

Normally the news is on in our house far too much. I often get annoyed with my news freak husband about the TV always being on, and not only that but on news channels that just rotate through the stories repeatedly.

I should have known something was up the other day when the TV never hit a news channel. AB knew I would keep the TV on cable when I watched and never mentioned the VA Tech massacre to me. He knows me right now.

I am almost 4 weeks post partum and I have the same post partum "issues" this time around that I did with Leif. Some women get post partum depression. Thankfully I don't, my "issues" are being extremely emotional (read sappy, I cry when Leif says his prayers at night) and paranoia about something bad happening (how many times exactly did I remind AB to wear his seatbelt on his way to drop Leif off today?). All the different realms of post partum feelings are normal as hormones return somewhere near where they should be.

AB knows this is me right now and we have talked about it. This is why that awful day our TV never hit a news channel and AB silently got his news on the situation from the internet. (I feel obligated to remind women to keep open lines of communications about their feelings post-partum... they are normal.)

That is until I surrendered to the realm of bad TV and decided to flip to Days of Our Lives so I could whine about it. It wasn't on, it was a news conference with an interview with the university president and the chief of police. I can't dwell on the horrific act right now. I have just gotten to the point where I don't have to flip the channel within 2.6 seconds of a related news story coming on, but I am not to the point where I can discuss the happenings without breaking down to "my children are never leaving my house".

However, this morning there was a story on about how other students and faculty had recommended this student for counseling and how did he slip through the cracks. This took me back to my 3rd or 4th year in grad school when I was teaching Physical Chemistry Lab.

It was near the end of the semester, the students were turning in their final papers to the professor. The prof asked me to coordinate them all and make sure all materials were turned in. I noticed that Michael (aka The Postman as named by his classmates nearly 4 years ago in their dorm hall) had not turned in his first draft and I sent him off a quick e-mail asking him to drop it by my office when he had a chance, reminding him it needed to be submitted with his final draft, which I had.

Within minutes I was e-mailed back a rambling, ranting e-mail telling me where I could go and saying that everyone in the department, but particularly me, needed to be watching our backs. I had no idea where this came from. At first I was more perplexed and sent it to the professor of the class. Then I started thinking more about it, realized he was really threatening us, and I sent it to the chair of my department.

The prof blew it off and said, "I don't know where that came from, make sure he gets the paper in". I didn't hear from the chair immediately.

About a half hour later the door to my lab flew open and The Postman was standing there. He was raging. I don't remember what happened very well, other than he was still outside the door and had not entered the lab. I grabbed the door shut it, locked it and told him to leave. I called the professor first, who finally saw the gravity of the issue and then the police were called. I was sent home for the day as the police tracked him down. (Eventually about 6 hours later in his dorm.)

What finally happened? He could have been kicked out of school. He went to Judicial Counsel and was given a warning for his behavior, he claimed I misinterpreted the e-mail (which the counsel saw as bologna). He was "given" a grade of a D+ in the class I taught (since he had completed the class nearly to that point, the prof didn't want him taking the class again) and was told not to attend anymore that semester and to stay away from me as long as I was a student. He was also required to attend counseling until the day he graduated.

The university had problems with this guy from the first day of his freshman year. He had the nickname "Postman" for a reason... his dorm mates all thought he was going to go postal someday. I don't know if anything would have happened, how far he would have taken it. I do know, as did many faculty members and students, that the guy was nuts.

It frightens me to think about what could have happened with how unstable this guy was. How lucky was I that when I yelled at him to leave the building, that he actually left. Was he not as crazy as I thought? Or was I just lucky?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Geek Busted

When I was home on maternity leave with Leif I got hooked on one TV show, Starting Over. It was on at 10am. Everything else on daytime TV I could take or leave, but I was addicted to this show - planning my excursions around that 10-11am block. It was bad! It was good we didn't have Tivo then, I would have recorded it when I went back to work.

And it was stupid! It was about women who were "starting their lives over" by living in a house (ok, a mansion) in LA together. Psychiatrists would come in and see them and they had tasks to complete. A kind of reality show for women who needed help... lots of it.

I have to admit that I was a little bummed to find out that Starting Over evidently didn't survive the last couple years in the highly competitive industry of daytime crappola. But I am more embarrassed by what has replaced Starting Over as my daily TV ritual. It's 100% AB's fault. I would have never stopped on channel 51 had it not been for him.

(See how I am bringing AB into this? Truth be told... it isn't just me with the addiction.)

Mythbusters. There, I admit it. I am a Mythbusters addict.

11am to noon AND 4-5pm! Score, two episodes a day! Two whole hours where I can sit with Skadi on my chest and vege in front of the TV.

The premise of the show, should you be among the unfortunate MANY who haven't seen it is that they address through science and engineering, myths and urban legends. This morning it was whether or not a car would explode if the full gas tank was shot with a bullet (it doesn't). Also whether or not you should hide behind a door in a gun fight (you shouldn't). You know, things we all face on a daily basis. The other day it was whether a car could be made too stinky to sell (stuff a dead pig in a car - Corvette nonetheless, put the car in a hot storage unit for 2 weeks and remove and clean). I could nearly smell the carnage through the TV... nasty. Oh, but the car sold... cheap... but evidently there are serious bargain hunters out there! Another one was whether people could really be sucked out of an aircraft in flight if explosive decompression occurs (no, you can't... very reassuring!). Ok, so I have seen a few of these.

What I love about it is they start with a hypothesis, do small scale lab tests, address what could happen and why, then take it full scale doing all the science experiments that we all wanted to do in high school and college. Ok... the experiments that those of us who were geeks wanted to do.

Geek, me? Fully. (Check it out, seriously!)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Why does your baby sister have chocolate on her forehead?

Leif: The Easter bunny put it there!


NM: Leif what are you doing? (Seeing him put my sling on.)

Leif: My carry baby Skadi now. (As he holds to pouch part open.)

NM: (giggling and thinking to self, I don't think so.)


Leif: My turn to play elephant trunk game now. (Lifts up shirt and holds breast pump to his chest.)


Leif: My want to drink mommy milk! (Said seeing me carry the cup of expressed milk to the kitchen.)

NM: Not now sweety. (Reserving this tidbit for dinnertime as a possible way to get him to drink his milk for dinner... COWS milk not mommy milk!)

Later at dinner...

NM: Leif please drink your special milk mommy poured for you. (Really it is cow's milk.)

Leif: No.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

On being 16

AB asked me the other day what my 16 year old self would think of me today. Hard question.

As a 16 year old I was just very confused. But I think most 16 year old girls are. Here are my thoughts.

Regarding work... I think my 16 year old self would be impressed with what I do. At that age I wanted to be a doctor. I thought I would be a physician and was aiming that way. I thought I was a biology person, which I found out later I was much more physically minded than biologically. Though I still wonder what it would be like to be a physician.

Regarding family... At 16 I either didn't want kids or I wasn't going to have them until I was in my 30's. So no real surprises there. What does surprise me is how thoroughly happy I am being a mom. I never knew I could love two little beings so much. I looked at motherhood in my teenage years as a chore, something you were supposed to do. I am so glad I waited to have kids... this is one area my 16 year old self had it right... having kids when I was older was best for me. (Had I had them in my 20's I would have 12 now and be so poor, kids are just way too cool.)

Regarding marriage... I didn't think I would be in my mid-30's and be so happily married. Everyone I knew, including myself, had divorced parents. It seemed the norm, which meant that people couldn't possibly be happy in marriage. Simply not true.

Regarding politics... what is that statment... "if you aren't a liberal when you are young you have no heart, if you aren't conservaative when you are older you have no brain". Ok, so not that extreme, but like most teenagers I saw the gross inequities of the world and wondered why people didn't do anything about it (but of course that didn't apply to ME actually lifting a finger). I vowed never to commit myself to a party and to vote on each issue individually. While my political beliefs may have moved more centric as opposed to my left wing teenaged time, I have maintained my non-party affiliation through the years and fully intend to for the rest of my life. The aspect of politics that my teenaged self is probably reeling over is that I married a Republican! Aw well, it makes for good dinner time conversations!

Regarding life in general... I would look at myself and think, "sell out". That was the first statement that came to my mind when AB asked the question. Sell out. I don't listen to or know the new college list music. My listening tastes are almost exactly the same as my mom and stepdads... that can't be "cool" can it?

Side story - My mom ran the 100th Boston Marathon in 1996 (I think) and my sister and I went with her. We stayed with a cousin in Boston who always prided herself in being cool and up on music and such. Then she asked us if Hootie and the Blowfish were considered cool, she really liked them. She freaked a little when we told her they were pretty mainstream. I am at least honest enough to admit that my music tastes probably don't qualify me as cool anymore. I get the fact that my favorite music station (LUCY on XM) is making jabs at me at nearly every chance... "the music that made you cool then, like car seats and stock options don't now".

I have trouble reconciling to myself how my first impression would be "sell out", yet in nearly every other aspect of my life, broken apart, my 16 year old self would be proud. I guess I have to chalk it up to the dichotomy that is being a 16 year old girl. (So dreading 14-17 years from now...)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A disturbed little boy or just typical male?

Tonight was movie night. AB slid Nemo in as he was walking out the door and the kids and I were on the couch. (Still weird to write "the kids".) I reached for the remote as usual to fast forward to scene three. If you have never seen Nemo, then you probably don't realize how horrifying the opening scene is. Marlin and Coral have their dream house, a hole full of fish eggs ready to hatch when a barracuda shows up and chomps Coral and all the eggs but one. Marlin mourns and finds the one egg, promising never to let anything happen to him, and names him Nemo, the name Coral wanted.


I can hardly even give a synopsis without tears. So since day one, we start the movie on scene three. Until tonight. Of all nights... not like I am hormonal or anything like that, you know.

Leif insists on seeing "Nemo mommy". I spend about 5 minutes telling him there is no Nemo mommy. Crying. Screaming. Finally I give in and start the movie from the beginning. That can't possibly be what he is referring to is it? He has never seen that part before. Or so I thought.

Somewhere, somehow along the line, Leif has seen the opening scene of Nemo. And wow was he ready for the barracuda. It chomps Coral and he squeals with delight and screams "again, again". When I sit and look at him (with tears in my eyes) like he is insane he takes it a step further and starts signing "again" along with squealing. That means he is serious.

In an effort to keep the peace, and out my guilty feelings of slighting Leif at this point in our lives, we watch the opening scene, oh about 18 times. Each time squealing ensues when Coral is munched. At least I am immune now. No more tears on my part.

Then later I was wondering if Leif really got the message that Coral was fish food... he told me "Nemo daddy beat him up". Ok, so you never actually see Coral biting the big one, or any of her remnants... so maybe he just doesn't get it?


Today I went and got my haircut. I gave my former stylist a second shot when she told me she could fit me in today. I needed my hair chopped. Needed. She took nearly 4-5" off I would guess.

At one point she asked me if I was alright with this... like I could go back at that point. I was fine, I was thrilled, but I became paranoid that it would be just one more thing in Leif's life that changed. When my sister was about his age, my mom cut her hair off, like from waist length to shoulder length and my sister went for days without looking at her and would cry if she did. So if anything, I was second guessing my decision for Leif's sake.

I walked in the house this afternoon and not a word... from either of my boys! Ok, so I never really expect one from AB. But apparently Leif IS his son. Not a word from Leif either. So maybe he is just a typical male.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tuesday and Thursday nights for the next month = movie nights

Truly, parents of two children who stay at home or single parents of two... I have no idea how you do it. Granted it was my first time with both Leif and Skadi at home by myself. But oh my goodness.

The problem is that Leif is an attention hog - always has been, but it is a little worse right now. Plus, he is my little wild man. Then there is Skadi, all 8 lbs of her.

I tried. I really did try to entertain Leif with Skadi hanging off me in various positions, in the bouncey seat, and in the swing. Finally when Leif said, "I want to watch Nemo", I cracked.

None of the usual, "are you sure you wouldn't rather play trains/read books/draw/play play-doh/play Little People?" Nope. I caved.

Nemo and a bottle - err, I mean a glass of wine. It worked. When AB called to say he was on his way home and asked how everything was going I think he was surprised not to find me in tears.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Axel and Bean

There have been a lot of questions to this point about our daughter’s name. Everything from the simple, “how do you pronounce it?” to “what does it mean?” and the simple just “why?” Reactions to her name from friends and family members have been varied, like “what?” or “hmm, well ok” or “I am sure it will grow on me” and a very few “I like it” sprinkled in there. This is part of the reason AB and I don’t share names before the birth… the expectation that no one will actually say anything negative once the baby is here. Wow! Imagine the comments if we had shared it before she arrived then!

Skadi is pronounced like “Katie” with an “S” in front. Skadi is the Norse goddess of snow and snow sports and the goddess for whom Scandinavia was named. We both trace our lineage back to Scandinavia (AB Norway and me Sweden) and we have decided to honor our combined heritages in our children’s names (Leif being the other). Well and it helps that we like a lot of Scandinavian names and that on both sides there are lots of names to choose from in naming a child after an ancestor. So that brings up another question, no, she isn’t named after anyone in our family.

So how did we come across the name? If you are like others in our family you have possibly searched her name on name sites to no avail. AB and I were married for a year and opted to spend our one year anniversary in Mammoth, California. While there we ate at Restaurant Skadi for our actual anniversary after a truly fantastic day of skiing (I met Warren Miller that day). The food was FANTASTIC, the view wonderful, we enjoyed watching the slopes lit up for night skiing and a procession of lights down the mountain. We became intrigued by the restaurant name and were told the meaning.

At one point during that following year an online friend of mine posted the question, “is there any event or place in your past you would name a child for?” I asked AB this and he said Skadi. Not only for the event – our one year anniversary, and definitely not to name her after a restaurant (my favorite meal was at Moose’s – I am not naming a child Moose). But because we liked the name and the meaning and the legend of Skadi. We have had the name in our repertoire for the last six years approximately.

After all this Skadi, as a name choice, has come and gone. AB had me convinced when we had Leif, but then he was a boy. This time around we had it narrowed down to three girls names, Skadi being one. My only hesitation is that I questioned whether or not it passed the Supreme Court test… can you see someone on the Supreme Court named Skadi. AB has countered this for months with, “well there are CEO’s named Bunny” (to which I replied one or multiple?)

I finally settled on Skadi as one of my top names after a few points – first, if she wanted a more professional name, she could go by her middle name, Jeanne, just like my grandmother did. Second, how could I deny the person I love the most in the world the name he truly loved. Third, if I didn’t use it now I would always regret not naming her Skadi when it held a lot of meaning for us.

Point number one brings us to her middle name selection… Jeanne. Jeanne is my middle name, my mom’s middle name and my grandmother’s middle name… it is given to the first daughter of the first daughter in my family. So her middle name was a given… or so I thought. Funny though that the person she was named after did not get it.

Even though my 84 year old grandmother was told a number of times her name, both first and middle, there were still issues. Last week the conversation went like this:

“I am still having trouble with her name,” grandma tells me.

“It’s Skadi, like Katie with an S in front,” I tell her.

“Oh,” she says, “what about her middle name?”

“Jeanne,” I say nearly laughing at the fact that it is her middle name and the name she goes by.

“How do you spell that?” she says.

“Seriously you need to know how to spell your name?” I had been wondering why she hadn’t commented on her middle name to this point.

“Oh, I thought it was Bean!” she exclaimed.

“Bean!!” I cried wondering how many people she had told that she had a new great granddaughter named “Something Bean”.

“I figured it was a family name on AB’s side,” she said.

I rolled my eyes.

You see if this was the first time you could probably chalk it up to old age. But truth be told it happened once before, just over 35 years ago.

My grandmother wrote to her family in California announcing the birth of her first grandchild, a girl! One thing I guess you should know is that my grandmother has notoriously bad handwriting. She was a nurse who should have been a doctor.

Everyone in California was happy to hear of the birth of Axel Jeanne! Axel… the nickname I carried for many years among my grandmother’s family. My great uncles all called me Axel for years, and I hated it.

Skadi Bean has stuck and I told my grandmother yesterday that once again she has the notoriety of granting the first nickname to one of her grandchildren.

I love her name. I hope that Skadi loves it too and will appreciate the fact that even though it is unique – and we all know how children don’t always revel in being unique – that her name represents a lot to us and AB’s and my relationship.