Monday, July 30, 2007

Thank you Microsoft

A former fellow grad student e-mailed me today with some surface science questions. Before I answered him I wanted to double check some info and pulled up a final report to a client. I scrolled through it quickly, found my answer, scrolled to the end for the reference, found it, then I glanced at the page number... page 14 of 13.

Thanks Microsoft.

Blanket Update

All the illicit items had been taken to the office for pick-up by the parents. The provider didn't know this at the timeI picked up Skadi the other day. However, when I went to inquire as to how to contact the person who confiscated the blanket about getting it back, there it was with a stack of other items like two diaper bags with unsigned in medications in them.

Blanket is safe at home now.

What's my age again

My high school friends weren't *that* screwed up were they? Nevermind, don't answer that.

On the drive in to work the other morning Julie Brown's song, "The Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun" came on.

How old am I now that my reflexes are lightning speed as they hit the XM box switching it to anything. Anything other than that song. I was counting myself lucky that number one, I was paying attention and not zoning and number two, that I actually knew the song from the first line. Leif lately is amazingly quick and opinionated on music in the car... no more fooling around with what is playing while he is riding with me.

It landed on Wonderwall and I was fine with that. Leif won't get those innuendos for at least another 15 years. It took someone telling me and I was in my mid-20's. And I would far far rather my son hear a song about praising the condom then a school shooting.

How old am I now that I sat there saying to myself, "that is the most inappropriate song to play on the radio... ever."

It's a song that we used to laugh about and sing along to in high school. Wow have 20 years changed me. (Or here's hoping it isn't just me that changed... here's hoping others cringe in hearing that song we once joked about.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Filed under "things I never thought I would hear myself say"

"Leif quit brushing my butt with your toothbrush."

Who steals a baby's blanket?

Evidently the State of Washington Health Department has no problem with that. Skadi? Not so happy about it.

The Health department showed up at daycare yesterday for an inspection. Glad they do it and all, but there might be a little bit of taking it to the extreme going on.

Apparently Skadi's blanket that I so lovingly picked out as her "daycare blanket" is not appropriate for an infant. Skadi likes to chew on things and pulls her blanket up and chews on it before she falls asleep. Well evidently this thick pile is not breathable enough, making it a SIDS risk.


I know... things happen, awful things can happen. And who wants to risk it? No, I don't want to risk it.

But they took her blanket AWAY!

(Now I have to go find a new blanket that meets specs... called my grandma to bug her about a nice holey crocheted blanket for her youngest great granddaughter and she is going to work on something... and you can assume that there was much drama surrounding this request, because lately nothing can be easy.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Leif, Leif and more Leif

This is a big week for Leif. He turns three on the 29th and has parties galore and presents arriving nearly daily in the mail. I am good at catching and hiding about 2/3 of the boxes so far. Yesterday however, he caught sight of the ones from my dad...

Leif: "Are those for my birthday? Can I open?"

You might think I am a pushover for letting him open them upon request, but I really am not. I would rather save it all since I am evil that way. But I also know Leif. He will be so overwhelmed. Just really better to roll things out over a few days.

My dad packaged the presents wrapped in garbage bags for padding within the box. I opened the box and let Leif go at it.

Leif: "WOW! Garbage!"

NM: "Leif I really think there is something inside these bags."

Leif: "WOW!"

He really is easy to please. His former daycare teacher asked me what she should buy him. I told her nothing and was completely serious. I told her previously not to get him anything, to just come to his party and that would be a huge present. (Can we say C-R-U-S-H?) She replied that of course she was getting him something, then said, "I bet he likes nearly anything".

See... he was even thrilled when he thought he was just getting garbage from grandpa!

Most days have been good lately. Sunday we were all sick with the stomach flu. But Leif rebounded amazingly quick and was an angel. I guess given the fact that he got movies all day may have lended to that just a little. But there are the flip days, when if I hear anymore whining I may scream. AB and I are working hard to curb that. He has had so many changes in his life in the last four months (a new sister, AB getting a job, moving to a new room for preschool), we try to cut him some slack, but at times it is hard. Particularly those days when AB works.

AB is working on a very, very large construction site that starts work at 6:30am promptly. It has been awhile since he has had to "punch the clock", but lateness isn't tolerated. Thankfully the term "late" doesn't come into play when we talk about where I work.

I have found the card I play with Leif to get him moving in the mornings, and after two weeks it is still working well. Helping. Leif will do nearly anything to get to help. I can use this two fold.

Example: "Leif if you help mommy by putting your shoes on, you can help me unload the dishwasher later!"

Leif: "YAY! Ok, I putting shoes on now!"

(Sucker.) And it is all in the tone.

We had a fascinating conversation this morning while I was trying to blow dry my hair.

NM: "Leif there is a spider on the wall, do you want to come see it?"

Leif: "YES!" (Jumps up off the couch and comes running.) "WOW, look at it."

NM: "Don't touch it remember."

Leif: "It has sticky fingers. He walks on the walls. It's a daddy spider."

NM: "Yeah." (I didn't check to see if it was actually a "daddy" spider...)

Leif: "Mommy, can I see his tongue?"

NM: (Perplexed... do spiders have tongues?) "Well you probably could if he opened his mouth for you, but I don't want you to get that close."


NM: "Shhh... don't wake your sister."

Leif: "stick out your tongue spider"

NM: "Much better."

Leif: "I have to potty mommy."

NM: "Then go."

Leif: "The spider won't let me by."

NM: "Are you done looking at the spider?" He nods and so I swat it with a magazine and deposit the body in the toilet while simultaneously thinking maybe that wasn't a great idea...


Seriously the highlight of the morning. I heard for the next 30 minutes about peeing on the spider. And I am sure daycare has heard all about it too.

The funniest things catch his attention. One of Leif's favorite set of books is Toot and Puddle given to us by Rockergirrl and her family. In one book they are trying to cheer up Toot (a pig) who is moping. Puddle makes a five berry cobbler with whipped cream.

Leif: "Why didn't they make muffins?"

NM: "He made a cobbler because that's Toot's favorite."

Leif: "They should make muffins."

NM: "Ok, they should have made muffins."

Leif: "Read it they made muffins."

NM: "OK, so Puddle made muffins."

Leif: "With whipped cream."

NM: "with whipped cream."

The other day Leif got up from nap determined that he was going to call C. He has yet to actually make a phone call. Usually I call and he pipes up when he wants to talk. This time he held the phone and everything... his first phone call! It starts ringing...

Leif: "Hello, HELLO. You hear me? Hello? C?"

NM: "Leif I think they aren't home, the answering machine is going to come on."

Leif: "A machine? No, I call C, not a machine!"

NM: "Leave a message for C!"

C called back a little later and they had quite the conversation. C jabbered on and on while Leif listened (he has learned well from daddy), though he seemed to understand her plainly as he sat there nodding his head.

He has a joint party with C on Saturday with all their friends at their school. Then Sunday we will have a small celebration with an angel food cake... because you have to have angel food cake on your birthday. Monday his class will celebrate and I get to go watch!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Purple was fun, but...

it was getting old.

And I finally got a decent picture of both kids. Truly a feat in itself.

Attack of the asparagus puree

Last night I left the kids with AB and headed out to a wine seminar. A few wine seminars this summer was part of my Mother's Day present. The first two I did "by myself" and tomorrow's, AB and I are attending together and will meet up with a few friends there.

The first one was wine basics essentially. I had a great time getting out with four of our friends to sip wine and listen to a lecture about qualities of wine. There were a few new things I learned at that seminar, but the highlight was hanging with friends and reveling in the fact that AB was home with BOTH kids! (Giggle, giggle...)

Tomorrow's seminar is on pairing BBQ and wine with lunch served (tip off last night that we are having grilled leg of lamb and syrah). We are looking forward to skipping out on naptime and therefore tormenting the babysitter... I mean we are looking forward to good wine, food and company.

Last night's seminar was on sensory evaluation and palate training. What I found really fun last night was that we had a series of "tastes". There was a "base" and then A, B, C, and D. Later we found out that the base was the plain wine and each lettered cup was the base wine with added flavors. For example, on the white side we tasted the base, then A was added sucrose, B was added citric acid, and C was added lemon and orange extracts.

On the "red" side we had the base, then A was added alcohol, B was tannic acid, C was sulfates and D... well I couldn't actually get it to my mouth to taste it, but it was added pureed canned asparagus for bitter. Thanks for turning me off asparagus for oh... maybe the rest of the summer. Truly, it was the floaties that turned me off first, then once I muscled past the floaties, I got a whiff. I could not bring myself to taste it.

Competitor in Fear Factor I am obviously not.

We discussed what we smelled and experienced with each of these wines. At each question of "what did you smell?", except for the asparagus experience, I wanted to raise my hand and say that I smelled the old lady's perfume next to me. I have an overly sensitive nose to aromas. When I was in senior level chemistry class I used to have to be excused daily to go vomit because of the girl's perfume who sat next to me. I was not bulimic as my teacher probably started wondering. Finally I told my mom and she called the school... Jen was moved the next day and after a rough start I actually went on to enjoy and major in chemistry.

I should have gotten up and moved when she sat down... pretended that I knew someone in another row or something. Which brings up another point... I had fun at the class, but truly it is more fun attending with friends. I could hardly turn towards the old lady next to me out of fear of her overwhelming perfume, and on the other side of me was a couple who chatted between them. I tend to have a hard time just picking up conversation with people I don't know, though I am getting better. I actually do enjoy traveling by myself and I never mind going to a restaurant by myself while on travel. So I had no issues with attending by myself as many other people were doing as well. But the fun factor would have gone up had I had someone to chit chat with.

Oh well... they are all off galavanting around on travel and vacations... lucky dogs. They have no idea what they missed with that lovely asparagus puree on top of cheap rose!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Creating a monster, not mitigating them

AB tells me I always have the best intentions, but I tend to not think through how Leif will actually respond to certain things in the long run.

Take last night for example:

Leif: "Mommy there's a ghost over there." He whispers pointing to his blue towel hanging on the hook.

NM: "Nope, it's just your towel. Do you want me to move it?"

Leif: "Ok."

NM: "There done, the towel is now in your hamper."

Leif: "Mommy, there's a ghost in my hamper."

NM: "Ok, how about I just remove the towel all together?" (I get up and toss the towel out of the bedroom. Return and sit down.)

Leif: "Mommy there's monsters." (He has a seriously horrified look on his face. I felt so bad for him.)

NM: "Honey there is no such thing as monsters."

Leif: "Yes there are."

NM: (Surrender. Thinking...) "Leif if I gave you some monster poison would you be really careful with it and only use it if the monsters come near you?"

Leif: (Nods.)

I go into the kitchen and scrounge under the sink for that tiny squirt bottle I saw a few weeks ago. Find it and fill it with about an inch or two of water.

NM: "Leif this is monster poison, it makes the monsters go away if you spray them. Here, spray it once and make sure it works."

AB and I giggled as he fell asleep with a completely serious look on his face holding the squirt bottle in front of him with both hands.

Night falls. I go to bed. I get up. I hear Leif in his bedroom playing while I am dealing with fussy girl.

Leif: "Mommy! I need more monster poison!"

Quilt top on bed? Drenched.

Floor around the bed? Drenched.

Walls near bed? Drenched.

Lion hamper? Drenched.

It is truly amazing how far 2" of water in a spray bottle can go.


AB: "Leif time for bed."


Then heard over monitor...

AB: "Leif if you spray that again I am going to take it away."

AB: "Leif if you spray that anymore you won't have any monster poison when you need it."

AB: "Stop spraying that now."

AB: "Stop, just stop now."

AB: "No monster poison, there is no such thing as monsters! Let me have it."

AB: "Give it to me now."

AB: "I said stop spraying, do you want a time out?"

The week so far

This week has been a whirlwind and it is only Wednesday.

Aside from AB starting his new job where he has to be onsite at 6:30am (which means leaving the house at 5:45am at the absolute latest) and gets home about 6pm, work has been busting my butt in a variety of ways... all good. (Except for the dead monitor courtesy of a massive thunderstorm here last night.) I have an exciting proposal going in tomorrow with a co-PI I have never met, but apparently wow'd with my concept paper. Then I got the nod from my directorate for a major equipment request... that doesn't mean I get this $100K piece of equipment mind you. It means I get to rework the proposal (sans charge code) once more for the lab level review.

On the personal side, Skadi was sent home from daycare "sick" when she really wasn't "sick". We have had a challenge with one of Leif's teachers that has resulted in a meeting with the teacher, director and his two former teachers. Then Leif had a dental exam this afternoon. He did spectacularly, rave reviews from the hygienist and dentist on his wonderful behavior and no cavity status (smiling as I accept the pat on the back).

Anyways, good he had a good experience and actually requested to go back to the dentist tomorrow (weird child) because poor kid has inherited my ultra-crap teeth and has a long appointment coming up for four, yes FOUR crowns done under general. Apparently his new second year molars are not all shiney and beautiful like they should be. When I finally convinced the dentist to speak scientist to me he tells me they are "hypoplastic" and that the enamel on his molars instead of forming lovely crystalline lattices (and those of you who know my research know I love crystalline lattices), the enamel is instead amorphous. Cause most likely being use of antibiotics while the enamal was forming. And here I thought the awful yellow appearance of his molars was tartar... and therefore attacked with even more vigor.

Anyways, now I know how my parents felt when everytime they took me to the dentist it was something. And typically... not inexpensive. Though at least they had better dental insurance than we have now... (where I will stop before I rant, at least we have some dental insurance).

AB wants a second opinion. I have a dental appointment next week and will chat with my dentist - who loves me - after replacing 7 of my teeth last spring.

I can make it through tomorrow... I really can. Then come Friday I can rejoice!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The great mom debate

This last week I had occasion to have three episodes of why women who work are cheating their kids and are the downfall of society thrown up in front of me. By the time I came across the third, which albeit wasn't directed at me, I had enough and let a little steam rise. (You know who you are - sorry!) So here I am to offer my response to a couple of those comments this week.

One of the most heated, divisive debates is among moms. Whether it is best to stay at home, work inside the home (referring to holding down a job while staying at home, not to imply in any way that stay at home mom's aren't working) or work outside the home. It's a debate that I despise because, simple fact, we aren't all the same. What the women of my mom's generation and before did with the women's liberation movement was to enable future generations of women to have the choice on whether or not they would work outside the home.

Of course these days it isn't so much about having the choice to stay at home. There are many women out there who would choose to stay at home, but making ends meet on a single income is just impossible. But... social issues aside and so I don't delve into politics and turn this post into a boring pile of drivel, let's sidestep that issue (for now).

I am most of the time able to blow off the debates even though accusations that I am not raising my own children and use of the phrase "part time mom" sting. Some of my closest friends are stay at home moms. Never once have I thought of them as "lazy" or "uneducated". In fact, the opposite. They work their butts off harder than most people and many are very educated women who worry about (among other things) reentering the workforce someday.

The buzz words are obviously intended to hurt. I believe we are all moms who would balk at our children purposely hurting another child's feelings, yet for some reason it is ok for us to do it to each other? We teach our kids to get along, to resolve their issues, to stand in another's shoes, and not to live on assumptions. About time we practice what we preach.

I am going to offer somewhat of a solution because if I see another post of "this is the problem but I don't know what to do about it, just thought I would share" I might puke. First off, support each other. Realize that not everyone has the same choices and options available to them. Simply realize that we are all women who have to make choices and support the women you know in their roles.

Second, mentor young women and don't be afraid to talk about reality. Along my long academic road I had a few female professors, but never once did one broach the issue of the logistics of balancing family with a professional career. Not to mention the sheer fact that by the time you get an undergrad degree, an advanced degree, do any post-degree training and then start a job you will likely be in your early 30's minimum, with a ticking uterus and a boss that expects you to perform like a young professional eager to put everything you have learned into play during those last few years of "worryfree childbearing".

Communicate with young women so that when they enter the career world they know that it can be very hard finding balance, but also very rewarding. Communicate with young women so that maybe those who see themselves being stay at home moms don't feel as though getting all the letters behind their names is a prerequisite or that anyone thinks less of them for their choice not to or for their choice to take a break from their career paths. Communicate with young women so that they don't grow up disillusioned that being a superwoman is easy and that she is the only one out there struggling to do it all...

You know... bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let him forget that he is a man... hmmm... maybe it's that last part that maybe the crux that breaks the camels back. (KIDDING!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I bought a little notebook to keep track of blog topics now that I have a professional blogging gig. It wasn't hard for me to come up with a few posts a week on my personal blog, but there are times I need more inspiration now. Or at least somewhere to catch those fleeting thoughts until they could be penned permanently.

That notebook has since become my lifeline. It has a vinyl front and back (so it doesn't tear in my purse), it is about 3"x5" and has 5 sections.

I left it on my desk last night and actually felt a little anxiety about not having my notebook. The loose piece of paper I resorted to just seemed inadequate.

The first section is for blog ideas, barely legible to most people.

The second section contains important notes, like to remember that today was water day for Leif and he needed a swimsuit, towel, water shoes and a bag. Or that I really need to stop and buy a new badge lanyard on my way in or out of work one day soon.

The third section houses information about upcoming events. Last week it was multiple lists about the camping trip, now it is birthday party planning. I also have a list of proposal ideas and topics in here since they seem to come to me at 10pm when I am headed to bed.

The fourth section is grocery lists because for some reason things I need from the grocery store come to me about 2pm when I am feeling that early afternoon lull.

And the fifth section is a neatly written out list of dinner ideas. I hope to keep adding to that list with regularity. (Have any to share?) It is the section I can flip to at lunch when I run into Safeway for a sandwich (they make the best sandwiches around) and look to for ideas and things I need. Or when AB calls, sounding hungry and says, "any ideas for dinner I don't have any do you want to order pizza?" Yes, all in one sentence.

I have become freakishly anal about this notebook. And truly, I actually find it kind of funny because I have always prided myself on my super brain that remembers everything. Apparently though I have a limited capacity and remembering everything for myself, my husband and two kids is just plain impossible.

Hello, my name is NM and I am a compulsive list maker.

(Thank you mom... "make a list!")

Monday, July 09, 2007

Christmas in July

What could be better? As a Christmas nut, going into a Christmas store in Leavenworth was a sure bet that money would fly out of my purse.

I officially made my very first Department 56 purchase.

For about the last four years I have collected a Christmas village. When I was deciding which one to collect I debated pretty heavily. I so wanted the Department 56 set, but when I dragged my husband to then Bon Marche to look at them, he balked. Ok, not just balked, he nearly threw a mini fit in the store and I left empty handed.

Really, I told myself, the Lowe's set was a far better bet. The price was right and we never go a month or so without a trip to Lowes. Thus guaranteeing to myself that AB would always buy me a piece for my set every year for Christmas.


Three or four years without any addition to my, albeit very nice, Lowe's set pretty much gave me free reign when I admired the sets in the store.

I did resist the buildings. But when Leif pointed at the cutest Christmas tree with wildlife surrounding and the tree decorated with food items (Christmas in the Forest)? Sold. It would be a perfect centerpiece to my already wildlife themed village. I also bought the Children's Nativity.
So now I have a new resolution... instead of waiting for my husband to add to my set every year, I will do it. He can go back to buying me mittens and hats with no guilt whatsoever.

The familiy camping trip

Last Friday we headed out on our annual camping trip with our friends. Normally this falls on Father's Day weekend, but being that we were unable to do Father's Day this year because AB and Leif were just returning from Alaska, we postponed.

After driving for four hours (including three stops for a screaming infant), we secured the same wonderful campground that we had two years ago. For someone who grew up camping and has always loved camping, I was surprisingly, not looking forward to this trip. Camping with an infant was just striking me as pure misery.

In fact, aside from the drive up and back as well as not being able to help AB with the setup or take down (or the packing beforehand), it wasn't that bad. Skadi did great and was well behaved pretty much the entire time. She may still be a lump, but when she wants to be, she is a noisy lump.

We arrived Friday about 3 hours behind schedule thanks in part to the unscheduled stops, the extremely slow service at Dairy Queen for lunch, and just to not being able to pull things together as quickly as planned. Even though we have had children for nearly three years we always forget to apply the "kid factor" in calculating expected times.

We tossed chipotle marinated ribeyes on the BBQ for dinner and enjoyed visiting. It quickly became apparent though that while the adults may have found the bridge over a small stream into the parking area to be a quaint entrance into the campsite surrounded by trees, the kids found this aspect to be a challenge that we fought all weekend.

Saturday after blueberry pancakes we packed up and headed to a fish hatchery we saw on our way to the campsite. Leif loved the trout pond, with fish food to feed the fish. We walked around some, started on a hiking trail but soon bailed when the heat became overwhelming and the kids were showing signs of certain starvation. We picnicked quickly and then headed back to camp for naps all around. Yours truly included.

We made a quick trip into Leavenworth for a little shopping after naps, then dinner and another night in a 10' x 10' tent with one dog, one sleep talking toddler, AB and I and Skadi. We fit... just barely.

Sunday morning after breakfast burritos AB worked hard to pack up the camp, while I helped when I could and fielded toddlers - who really wanted to help. Lots.

We had a good time. For not looking forward to the trip I did have a nice time. The best part of it was watching Leif in nature. He shoveled loads of dirt in his little tractor, we caught bugs and put them in the bug box, he loved it. He has asked nearly non-stop since getting back if we can go camping again.

I might actually even entertain the thought if we can find a place to camp that isn't more than an hour away so that we don't have to listen to Skadi's protests.

What I really want though? A travel trailer. Pretty much one just like Joey's. I have dreams of taking the kids camping in Yellowstone, the Canadian Rockies, Yosemite, Crater Lake... and the trailer makes those trips just so much more feasible.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A holiday in the life of a toddler

Fourth of July started out by calling my sister to wish her a Happy Birthday.

Leif: "Happy Birthday!"

Aunt Angie: "Thank you Leif."

Leif: "Have a good day!"

Aunt Angie: "OK, you too."

Leif: "I love you grandma!"


Then we headed to the park for some playing on the equipment and so I could get a picture taking spree in.

NM: "Leif say cheese!"

Leif: "Cheese and salami samwich!!"

After buying some fireworks and feeding Leif, I headed out with Skadi to get V and do some shopping. The trip started out frighteningly productive at The Gap (after a short somewhat productive trip to TRU for the kid's upcoming birthdays), then it petered off when nearly everything at Gymboree was quite familiar (too familiar?) and Children's Place lacked plain non-fluorescent colored shorts for itty bitty girls.

The afternoon continued at home after Leif woke up from a nap with a visit from his friend, J. J's mom was looking for an excuse to get out of the house with a sick husband at home, so they came over.

The boys played and played in the swimming pool. I learned that Leif knows how to speak German with nearly perfect inflection as he took to repeating phrases that J was saying to his mom. I also learned that I might have the most sensitive little boy on the face of the earth.

We were in his bedroom getting out of swimming clothes and he tells me, "J is mad at me".

NM: "No sweety, I don't think J is mad at you."

Leif: "He is."

NM: "Why would he be mad at you? I was out there and he didn't seem mad at you to me."

Leif: "He is mad at me."

NM: "Well Leif let's go out and see if J wants to play trains and I will watch to see if he seems mad at you."

(No indication of any anger on either little boy's parts until an hour later when it was time to leave.)

Leif: "My hug J." (Arms outstretched.)

J: "I want this train."

Leif: "My train. MY HUG J!" (Trying to wrap arms around J.)


J left and both boys were in tears. Leif because he didn't get a hug and J because he didn't get Leif's train.

Apparently running around in the hot sun was good for Leif though... he ate nearly three chicken drumsticks, a bowl of shells and white cheddar and corn.

Afterwards we got ready for fireworks, a little mini display in front of our house with some sparklers and fountains and firework turtles (go figure, Leif picked them out).

And best of all... C came over to watch. And C likes hugs as much as Leif does.

All was better.

(However Leif did inform me this morning that the sparkley turtles were scary last night.)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Look at me!

Probably not surprising to many families of two or more children, but for some reason the addition of one child to the photo results in exponentially more photos that must be taken to obtain a decent one. It went something like this:

"Leif lay on the pillow next to Skadi."

"Look at me."

"Leif lay down."

"No, you can't take a picture."

"Get off her arm, NOW!"

"Stop poking her head."

"Leif lay down on the pillow next to Skadi."

"Alright, nevermind, go play."

The result of my efforts with the two of them is here: