Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Finding my happy place

Finding my happy place

Six years ago today I walked into my new job full of expectations of life as a scientist. Ok. So I was a post-doc. But I knew that if I worked hard enough and learned enough, I would be a full fledged scientist eventually.

How wrong I was. Life in this environment has only a small amount to do with how hard you work or how well you learn. It's dominated more by how well you master the politics.

And I am still learning that aspect.

I can honestly say that it is just within the past couple months that I have really found my happy place at work. I have had ups and downs, ebbs and flows, discouragements and encouragements over the last six years. I have made permanent decisions that will probably walk with me the rest of my career. I have left projects, quit working with people, and declared that I would no longer submit proposals to particular groups. On the flip side, I have also met lifelong allies, had incredible successes on projects and found new clients.

Political decisions. I am learning. But I am sinking into my niche.

Today I was in "my" new lab (so it isn't totally mine, but I can have all the space I want in this 400 square foot lab) on the main campus putting my new tools away in the tool box I ordered (those ARE mine).

In walked Z... he is my former team lead, turned coworker and now I am his project manager. It sounds all wonderful and like I am moving up in the world until you understand matrix management.

He took a big sigh as he stood in the doorway. Smiling.

Z and I have a lot in common. We were both misfits in our old group. He a chemical engineer, me a physical chemist. I followed him when given the opportunity to leave my group three years ago. I hitched my cart loosely to his donkey.

He stood inside the doorway smiling watching me put my tools away.

"Ah," he says. "Tis nice that we finally have a lab."

I smiled back though I kind of wanted to hug him for saying "we". And for letting me keep my cart hitched to his donkey the past few years.

Z traded his donkey for a decent sized steam engine this past year and is hoping to reap the rewards of his long labors and "make five" (i.e., get a promotion).

I picked up the stray donkey this year as well as upgraded my cart to a caboose for T's steam engine. The caboose provides a lookout, guidance for the train in front. This caboose provides braking power when needed.

I am working the two paths - my funding, my path towards independence as a scientist (the donkey) as well as testing the grounds in project/program management (the caboose).

My office will be packed up and moved in the next few days. I will inhabit my 6th office in as many years. I will leave the vicinity of the three buildings I have lived, worked, lactated, ate, laughted and occasionally - rarely, cried in the last six years.

I am moving by myself.

I am leaving the women who gave me all the tips on which projects to avoid, who the asshole male scientists were, who the best daycare teachers are, pregnancy secrets, benefits people to work with, and who threw both of my baby showers for me.

I worry they will forget me.

I am leaving the resources I have come to know, which labs I can pilfer things out of, which engineers I can rely on to do the job and do it right and interact with the shop for me to avoid those looks from the guys that say "she really has no idea, does she", which labs have the stock of handtools (though I now have my own), the cabinets that hold endless office supplies.

They... yeah they probably won't miss me

Six years on one hand seems like just yesterday. And in another way it seems as though it is a world away.

On to bigger and better things.

Monday, April 28, 2008

And the winner is...

I can finally say that AB and I have decided what we are doing for vacations this year. It only took three months to decide.

One of our routine complaints is that we don't do "fun" vacations, that as a family who lives away from our loved ones, our vacation time and money is spent traveling to see parents and siblings. I get a wee bit jealous when my coworkers and friends plan vacations to fun places.

But then the inevitable happens. We start missing our family.

This year we were bound and determined to do it differently. We enjoy traveling with our families, and so our goal was to organize and plan vacations in fun places where we could all go together. We had wonderful notions of Hawaii.

Then the thought of the long flight with two little kids. And entertaining the two little kids once there... And taking two little kids into the ocean...

Well suffice it to say that we have bagged Hawaii until the kids are a touch older. One of our major reasons for us to go to Hawaii is the volcano. AB and I are both volcano buffs and would love to add to our list of active volcanoes we have seen. (Together that is... I have already seen Kiluea, it was amazing, AB? Jealous.)

But would a 4 year old little boy really get *that* much out of the volcano? Or would a 6 year old enjoy it a lot more with a deeper understanding of what is going on?

Hawaii? Officially postponed.

One trip that has been thrust upon our schedule is Alaska.

I know. For many Alaska is a once in a lifetime adventure.

For us it is a trip we do often with AB's family being in Alaska and with a vacation property there. What has been a little shocking is that AB - that would be ALASKA boy - is not overly thrilled for this trip. A little strange that *I* am more excited for Alaska than him it appears. Still a week or so in Alaska over the 4th of July is 95% certain right now.

I also took this opportunity to point out to AB that he will have been "home" twice in a year after this trip compared to my going to Colorado last in December 2006. It is only fair...

And I have become a little homesick for Colorado...

We are aiming for Colorado next Thanksgiving. Tentatively planning for Friday before through Saturday after the big T day.

Also on our list of vacations are two mini trips to the coast. To the cabin. Leif has been asking for months now to go. We are assessing tides and work schedules (seriously coworkers, quit putting important things on my calendar)! We will go either over Memorial Day weekend or the following weekend (when tides are ideal and cabin should be empty).

We usually also try to do the coast in October, when work slacks for me. It is a great time to get away to the coast and pick blackberries and go to Oysterfest. This year though - and I am pleased to say - work shouldn't be slack for me in October. I recently obtained three new sources of funding that are not subject to continuing resolution. I will be living the high life. I will be the one fielding requests from the desperate multitudes for work. I will be working in October!

Still though - the coast in October is a must do.

The last one on my radar is a girls trip to one of my favorite places... Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Vargas Girl and Brooke's mommy and her best friend are planning a getaway and I wanna go. I really want to go.

Amazingly enough my husband said yes - he could take the kids for the weekend and I could go drink wine, eat out, shop and have spa time in the high country with the girls. So right now I am just seeking tickets and cursing Travelocity for their teaser airfare rates... "sorry that fare is no longer available".

Determination has set in.

The Plague

I count myself lucky that my family is healthy and we don't typically tend to get sick. A cold here and there, the occasional GI stuff that hangs for a day or so. But nothing out of the ordinary.

Until the month of April.

Our house has been afflicted with the plague. The exact date is still up in the air - AB insists he is going on a full four weeks of cold. He remembers starting Zicam on Thursday the 3rd. (This does mean I can blame him, right?) Then that following weekend Skadi had the stomach bug that wouldn't leave.

It took about a week for AB and I to officially kick the stomach crud. (Leif went unafflicted, thankfully.) But for AB it was concurrent stomach and cold virus. Lovely.

The kids got the cold virus and then - a week after everyone else, my body gave up the ghost and succumbed too.

AB saw the site nurse and was given an antibiotic prescription despite my insistence that it was a cold or the flu and that antbiotics wouldn't do anything. (One of my pet peeves... that antibiotics are frequently doled out for the common cold or the flu thus attributing to antibiotic resistance and plain it just does no good!)

Ok, so he MAY have needed them, he felt a little better afterwards.

This past Friday marked my two weeks of cold virus - it was on its way out. I had a nagging cough, but that was it.

Then on Saturday it started ALL over again with the runny nose and congestion. Leif woke up Sunday saying his ears hurt. He even went so far as to put bandaids on his ears. (Yes, I should have gotten a picture.)

Once my mom and stepdad took off I told AB I was taking him to the Urgent Care and reluctantly agreed that since I was taking Leif anyways, I should be seen.

See I insist on and make appointments for everyone else in my house but me to see the doctor. Truly, I am not sure why my aversion to the doctor aside from my insisting that I am fine, I am healthy, I don't need antibiotics. (Nor do I *really* want antibiotics - they do mean things to my stomach.)

Leif was diagnosed with double ear infections and got a prescription for antibiotics. (He DOES have a tendency towards bacterial ear infections after viral infections - we don't mess around with waiting it out with him.)

Me? A sinus infection and secondarily infected bronchitis. Heavy duty antibiotics for me.

So for all my insisting that I don't need antibiotics?

24 hours later and my life is different on antibiotics. Yeah yeah yeah.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

That gene that skipped a generation...

You may wonder what kind of weird punishment I dole out. Or you may just think my kid is being a spaz...

You would be wrong.

He is doing something he loves.

Remember that gene? The one that skipped a generation?

The clean gene?

He is vacuuming my car.

And enjoying it.

My car hasn't been this clean in... well... I don't remember when. It has been a long, long time.

He is freakishly thorough too... look at him getting the little bit of stuff all the way in the back there... and he lifted the floor mats up, and vacuumed the dashboard. (Oops, I didn't really just admit my dashboard needed vacuuming did I?)

Professional detail job? Or violation of child labor laws?

You decide.

See the problem is this...

Scientists are expected to write.

No one ever taught scientists to write.

There are many badly written journal articles out there.

The answer is to use an editor.

But if you get to the point where the scientist knows he/she needs an editor...

well that is a bad, bad spot.


I always thought that scientific editor would be a good job for me.

Officially nixed.

Excuse me while I go finish beating my head on a wall.

Concrete wall.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Random Skadi pictures

Look mommy! I found something called chocolate cake stuck all over these dishes! And wow is it yummy!

Wasking up from a nap happy!

This month's goals

Easy peasy.

My wonderful husband suggested that we address the yards for the month of April goal. I took him up on that. Afterall my mom and stepdad arrive in a couple days and we like to spend time in the backyard while they are here. Not to mention that it was all stuff that just really needed to be done anyways.

My role in all this has been to clean out the front garden beds and keep the kids inside when necessary. Yep. There's my month's goal. Oh and to keep bugging AB about talking to the guy he works with who latex seals concrete as a side job.

Had the weather been warmer I would have done more, but it has been prohibitavely cool here. Seriously it was snowing when I walked to my car at lunchtime. So no new annuals or veggie plants for me yet.

One of the first things I do when I have moved someplace new is inquire as to when the planting date is. In Colorado it was Mother's Day. In Reno it was when the snow melted off of Slide Mountain (end of April). Here I was told it was tax day.

Being a Colorado girl and understanding the importance of these dates and the number of freak snow storms that tend to happen I always adhere strongly to these dates. Though in recent years I have had to restrain myself.

"Yes, I know honey it is 75F, but it might freeze."

My restraint... yeah, that's what we will call it... restraint... paid off. (Restraint, laziness... whatever.)

My annuals and veggies - providing we see some heat here soon, will go in the first weekend in May.

Oh and you might wonder about the corner of the yard that makes me grimace, right? I mentioned that before.

Well AB was fishing wood out of back there to start cleaning it up (aka build a work table for the garage) when he found a nest of quail eggs and quail expectant parents. He claims that we cannot disturb the nesting quail to clean up the... umm... looking for a nice word to use... stuff back there.

Ok, well I will buy that. One corner of my yard will remain a disaster area because of the endangered species act.

There haven't been any jokes at all about quail egg omelets.

Really... baby quail will be good... they are the cutest little hooters running around on their tiny legs.

Let's hope they are faster than Belgian Sheepdogs.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Jeans angst

I will start out this post by saying I do realize that I am pretty lucky. I have had two children and with both, never had to work hard to lose the baby weight. Must be the good genes and breastfeeding. With my son the baby weight was gone by 9 months, with Skadi it was closer to a year before the bathroom scale hit that prepregnancy point - which was a few pounds higher than it was with Leif. Still, I am there and wearing my prepreg clothes.

For the most part, AB and I cook and eat relatively healthy and are reasonably active. Since it has been staying lighter in the evenings we are back to our nightly walks. (Winny rejoices.) We hike a local hill almost every weekend. (Winny rejoices.)

My goal is to return to running in June when Skadi moves to Leif's school and I suddenly have only one drop off and pick up. By latching onto the few minutes of spare time the single drop off will afford me and by skipping lunch (eating at my desk while working) I will be able to fit in a good solid 30 minutes at the gym next to the kid's school at the end of my day. After my workout I can walk over (sweaty and all) and retrieve them and we can all go home and proceed with our night without losing too much in my actual face time with the kids.

Working out and staying healthy is important to me on many levels. I feel better when I work out, my clothes fit better, it sets a good example for my kids and I need to keep up with Vargas Girl in all these races she keeps sending me information on! Ok... so I started it by sending her the Bloomsday link, she retaliated with let's do Bay to Breakers again as well as Iron Girl in Seattle. Then I saw one the other day on the Olympic Peninsula near the family cabin... then I realized it was a marathon. Ok, so there was a half marathon... still since I haven't even put my running shoes on I can't start thinking about half marathons in gorgeous locales... yet.

Where am I going with all this rambling? (The whole working out bit wasn't planned...)

Something totally unrelated... kind of.


Denim used to be a staple in my wardrobe. And it is still there, though more in my closet and less on me.

Right now I am having a hate-hate relationship with denim.

I cannot seem to find a pair of acceptable jeans.

I don't want butt crack baring jeans, I am a mom. I bend over and pick kids up a lot, I don't need to show off that part of my anatomy. And not to mention, I wear jeans to work a few times a week, so do NOT need to bend down to work on something and bare nearly all. Can we just all get past the ultra-low thing? Soon, please?

On the flip side I don't need a yard of denim up top either. The top of my jeans do not need to jab my ribcage when I sit down.

I feel like I did when I was in 7th grade and grown out of the girls section at the department store but not really into the juniors stuff.

I am lost in the world of jeans. Help?

I have two pairs of Levis that I still love - though I wonder how dated I am looking since I bought them years ago. My favorite pair of Old Navy jeans ripped something fierce, in the buttt nonetheless, while here at work a couple years ago. I am still mourning them. (Yes, I TRIED repairing them... but it was a BIG rip. And yes, I tried replacing them but the style was gone.)

I keep buying more jeans only to find some flaw. Too funky of leg, too much fabric up top, too low, my grandmother might like these, these ones fall down, make me look like I am trying to be 16... you name it.

I had a glimmer of hope this weekend when I put on a pair of shorts I had just bought at Costco. A pair of Polo by Ralph Lauren shorts that sit "just below the natural waist". I was in heaven.


I even thought about wearing them on Sunday despite the gook covering them that comes from having two small children. I quickly threw them into the laundry so that thought didn't return.

But what it did do to me was send me on a search for jeans cut the exact same way. I was optimistic! I hit the internet on Monday!


Yeah. Nothing.

Can someone just make some trendy, cute jeans that fit for those of us in our mid-30's who don't want to look like our moms (not that there is anything wrong with our moms... just a different generation) or the skanky looking teenagers?


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Gotta love the 80's

(Vargas Girl... you knew it was coming.)

Oh the horror... the terror... of high school.

Couldn't pay me to go back. High school was the second worst time of my life - first being junior high. I dread Skadi being a 13-14 year old solely because I remember what a miserable time it was for me. Awkward, emotional... ick.

Ok, back to high school.

I found a picture the other day on my computer.

There is this folder on my computer called "Old Computer". Rarely I need something out of that folder.

The other day it was a picture of Leif as a newborn wearing the exact same outfit as Skadi. I wanted the comparison picture for her first year book I just finished making.

While scrolling through that list of pictures I took a doubletake.

At some point I scanned and uploaded a picture from high school there of Vargas Girl and I... and our boyfriends (also best friends) during our Junior year in high school.

We were so excited to go to the Boosters dance. It was one of the two "girl ask guy" dances every year. That year we actually had boyfriends and we were antsy to go as a foursome.

We bought some fun dresses and dolled them up a little - because that was the thing to do in the late 80's - to pretend like you were Molly Ringwold and could take a froo froo party dress and turn it into something Madonna-esque with just a little sewing here and there.

Even though I sit here and laugh and roll my eyes about the guys and all the signs that they should have been with each other and not with VG and I (they actually had their picture taken together - I mean what bigger flag did we need?), I still think back on this night as one of the best nights of my high school life - in actual organized high school events. (Ok, so I didn't do too many of those... so not a lot to compare to, but it still trumps my senior prom.)

There was a good sized group of us friends who convinced the DJ to play something other than Top 40. He agreed with one caveat... that if he did, we would get out there and dance. He convinced us that his job - his name - was on the line and that if people didn't dance, he wouldn't get the gig again.

Sure enough, English Beat, Stand Down Margaret hit the speakers.

I think we got a whole three songs in there before most likely an administrator or chaperone told the DJ to switch back to the mainstream stuff that the majority of the attendees knew and loved.
Our stint in the spotlight was short that night. But it validated us.

And stuck in my mind as the single best school dance I ever attended.

Leif funny

Leif is currently learning about Europe at preschool. Most days I ask him what he learned at school today and he can't tell me much other than something somebody did on the playground (that usually got them in trouble).

But if you wait patiently enough, you do get nuggets that say he IS learning something!

Like the other day at home when he was rifling through a stack of movies...

Leif: "Mommy, I thought we had a movie about Scotland?"

Me: "HUH? Scotland?"

Leif: "Yes, Scotland, the one in Europe."

Me: (Suppressing surprise and laughs) "Umm no, we don't have a movie about Scotland."

Leif: "Oh. I thought we did."

Me: "No honey, no movie about Scotland."

Leif: "Why? Do we not like Scotland?"

I was DYING.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


About six or so weeks ago I ordered one of those butterfly kits with caterpillars. A few days later a kit with 5 live caterpillars arrived at our door.

We watched the caterpillars as they turned to chrysalids in the cup, then carefully transferred them to the habitat. Soon after transfer, three butterflies emerged!

One thing I hadn't thought a lot about was our cat... and how much HE would like the butterflies. And he thought they looked like tastey little morsels. The hardest thing about the whole process was keeping the habitat out of his reach. For a young kitten with amazing abilities to get places you would never guess (we found him on top of the kitchen cupboards sleeping yesterday), no place is out of reach.

Except a room with a door that shuts.

Our guest room became the locale for the butterfly habitat which was a bummer since it wasn't out all the time. Still the kids (yes, Skadi loved them every bit as much as Leif) loved watching them.

Today it was finally warm enough to release them. Amazingly - and despite all the manhandling by Skadi (she didn't quite understand their fragile nature when daddy put one on her), they hung around the back yard for quite awhile.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


They are STILL asleep!!

3 hour naps all around!!

A new sight/site

AB is in Spokane today taking his Fundamentals of Engineering exam after months of studying and panic. Panic mostly being this last week. He called me at lunchtime during break and said the first half went surprisingly well. Let's hope the second half this afternoon is going as well.

Me here? Two kids and just me? We are also doing surprisingly well. In fact. My living room, dining room and kitchen are picked up, laundry is going (so I have a basket to fold... I can do that tonight) and two kids are napping. Not sure how that happened.

I told Leif he could have quiet time in his play tent that our good friends bought him for his first birthday. A kid's tent? Priceless. Anyways, he promised he would be good because I told him if he started playing around it was into bed with him for quiet time. I FINALLY got Skadi down for a late nap (plenty of interferences earlier on), I walked out and sure enough. He was in the tent konked out.

We had a pizza/popcorn/movie night party last night with The Bee Movie. Ok, love it. I thought it was great. Not sure Leif was as sold for some reason. This morning we got ready and Leif went for a haircut, then we got "lattes" since he did so well and home we came.

Blessed silence. A rare sight and sound in my house.

And speaking of sites...

Blurb. I have a love hate relationship with Snapfish. They sucked me in with cheap prints and now I have about 3 years of photos on there. Great... except their book making site just sucks. And I had problems with customer service last year. Yet, all my pictures are there.

I am working on making a first year book for Skadi. My alternative to scrapbooking... something I tried and frankly loathe. Maybe I am just too impatient. My patience lies elsewhere, sewing, cross stitching, cooking a fantastic meal. Not scrapbooking. I built the thing on Snapfish but was having issues.

Friends pointed me to Shutterfly, but I hesitated knowing I would have to upload all my pictures again. Oh and Shutterfly ticked me off last year too. (Stubborn? Me?)

Well my sister in law recommended Blurb. I went to check it out last night.

Love it.

You download the software, build your book and upload the book to order it. Love, love, love it.

No dealing with my slowish internet connection (we will be dumping satellite service as soon as our 2 year contract is up). And no dealing with crappy online software that may or may not save routinely. I have lost whole books on Snapfish. The books are beautiful. Well at least the pictures of the books are. But if Angie as a professional photographer recommends it, I know they will be gorgeous.

And the price? No worse than Snapfish or Shutterfly.

The thing that is really intriguing to me is that they offer a service to turn your blog into a book.

Yes way.

I need to check out their "slurp" service. The price is right. But over the last 3.5 years I have often wished I had a way to get my blog posts - certain ones at least - easily into writing. For things like kid's memory books, etc. I am hoping that I can pick and choose so that when my kids are older they aren't wading through my whiney posts about work to find the funny things they said as kids. If I can pick and choose which files I want...

well a whole new world of book making will open up to me!

Check it out!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Decision making

Someone tell me that a preschooler's inability to make a decision is just a phase. Please?

AB and I are so so tired of the, "no I want apple juice, no grape juice, no blueberry juice!"

The school counselor suggested we handle this by saying, "ok, you can change your mind two more times". Then we stick with whatever the choice is after those two times.

This only means the meltdown comes sooner.

I have tried to slow him down, "think about what you really want, no answer is wrong".

This doesn't work.

Of course eliminating the decision making all together is seeming like a very valid option right now.


I got a huge check today.

Well I got a huge check at work today. AB asked if I couldn't skim just a little off the top?


It would just figure though that I got my first big huge check on the day that I am out sick with an also sick one year old. And sick husband who is trying to study for an exam.

I didn't even feel up to toasting the installment with a decent glass of wine at our very bland dinner. (Leif - the only one not suffering GI distress - learned the merits of Top Ramen for dinner.)

"Mmm, I like this soup!"

Watch me fall over... he liked something!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Getting the true sense of the word?

The other night sitting at the table Leif suddenly stated, "I am a vegetarian."

He routinely says things, using "big words" and sometimes understands their meaning, sometimes not.

"Oh you are?" I ask him. I wasn't overly surprised given the lack of meat he will willingly eat lately. He has never been a big meat kid, but we are seeing the meat he will eat drop off the radar alarmingly quick. Quick enough that it has sent AB and I scrambling to define the "rules" of dinnertime. Something I had hoped to avoid with my "no fail" approach to not make a big deal out of food at all.

"What does that mean?" I asked him.

"It means I don't like meat," Leif tells me.

So he does get what vegetarian means - basically at least. I started wondering where he picked up the word (and the meaning) since we aren't vegetarians.

The next morning at daycare I asked if there was a child who was vegetarian or if it has been a topic of conversation. Nope, no children are vegetarians and she asked if he meant "veterinarian" as some of the older kids have been talking about wanting to be veterinarians.

I explained that he told us it means he doesn't like meat. His teacher was nearly as perplexed as I was. AB picked him up later that day only to report that Leif did declare his vegetarian status to the teachers as well - that he still ate his dino nuggets.

I am actually quite sure this is some sort of evil Karma thing going on.

You see when I was in grad school I met Vegan. Actually, that wasn't her name, but her name rhymed with Vegan (substitute the first letter for a "T"). We started grad school the same year and for our first semester or so we hung out together. We became friends mostly because we were not associated with a research group yet, we were taking all our classes together and being that we were a few of the only English speaking females - we could talk to each other.

I found her to be one of the oddest people I had ever met. She took "stubborn" to new heights. She was 4'10", vocal and more set in her ways then most senior citizens. After the first semester, once we all had offices and were associated with research groups, our frienship waned. Honestly, she drove me nuts.

She drove a lot of people nuts except for one guy - Bill. Bill was a really good looking Masters student. The guy that you don't even bother flirting with because there is just no shot. Oh and the fact that I was already dating someone, but anyways. Bill and I actually became friends and would occasionally eat lunch together, and we would all get together routinely to cook, hang out or go skiing. He and AB hit it off.

He told me one day, "I have to confess something. I really like Vegan for some reason, I am drawn to her, she intrigues me."

My jaw dropped open. Food may have fallen out.

Anyways, he never did date Vegan, and one day we met his new girlfriend, Jen. She was perfect for him; sweet, kind, active. I hope they married.

Eventually Vegan just drove us all insane and ended up leaving the university on bad terms with nearly everyone, including her advisor - though the university did award her a Masters degree for her time in. We all wondered who her family bought.

Ok, so back to my story...

Vegan told us one of the first days we all met at grad school orientation that she was a vegan and had been since she was three, despite the fact that she grew up on a farm and her parents were omnivores. So the story goes, when she was three years old she asked where meat came from and when she found out it was from animals, she swore off meat. And it never crossed her lips after that.

The thing about Vegan was that most of us didn't really take her seriously. Three years old? You swear off meat? Get real! (None of us had kids.)

Oh and not to mention the food she did eat? Ding dongs, twinkies, Burger King French Fries. Vegans and vegetarians - at least in my mind - are always relatively healthy. Though she declared herself vegan, she chose to remain ignorant of the fact that eggs are used in A LOT of things she was eating. We (myself and fellow grad students) didn't fail to point this out to her very regularly.

When Leif announced his new vegetarian status the other day, images of little Vegan sitting at my table crossed my mind.

Noooooo! I wanted to scream. Someone is so messing with me right now given the amount of teasing we doled out towards Vegan that year.

Actually though, should Leif decide he wants to be a vegetarian, I have no real problem with this - though AB might buck a little. I was a vegetarian in college for a few years and I understand the dietary requirements and alternate sources of protein.

But it may come as a shocker to Leif that turkey pepperoni... the stuff he sneaks to the fridge to grab and hide so he can snack on it at will? (I have found the turkey pepperoni packages hidden in many different locales in the house.) Turkey pepperoni is not part of a vegetarian diet.

Neither is his new declared favorite from last night... king crab. He put away a serious amount of king crab last night.

Ok, so there are fish eating vegetarians out there... I could let that slide. But picking and choosing the favored meats in the name of being a vegetarian? Not so sure about that.

Monday, April 07, 2008

A hike

We try to get out for a walk most weekends when it is nice out. Unfortunately we got out for our walk on Saturday only to discover the extra nice Saturday morning we had witnessed earlier had dissolved away into heavy winds and cool weather. Still we persisted and headed out to walk a local hill. We diverted off the normal trail to avoid the hill top area in the wind.

Here are a few pictures from our walk.

Skadi likes the wind about as much as I do...

Leif shows off his rock throwing abilities...

A boy and his dog...

At the water tower... Leif was trying to push it off.

The face that tells us he is up to no good whatsoever...

Another week down.

I would rate this past weekend about mid-range on the scale. There was plenty of room for improvement, but it wasn't bad either.

Saturday morning was swimming lessons. It is about all we can do to contain Skadi during Leif's 9:30am swim lessons. At 10am her lesson starts. She is our water baby. She does so much better in the water at this age then Leif did. I don't know if it is spending the last year nearly solid at the pool on Saturday mornings watching the routine, or if it is just in her nature. She loves the pool.

Finally her slot came and she was so excited to be in the pool. Her little body was just so tense from the excitement bubbling up in her.

Of course that also meant that only 20 minutes into her 30 minute lesson she had exhausted herself and was no longer interested in participating.

Leif and I dropped daddy and a sleeping Skadi off at the house and we headed to Costco where we spent way too much money. I loaded up on Carter's outfits for Skadi for the summer (must relish the last few months that I can put her in the uber-cute Carter's baby stuff) as well as pajamas for both kids.

Leif seems to have zoomed straight by 3T. Just a few weeks ago his 3T's were all still baggy and long. But starting last week we noticed they are suddenly appearing short. He was wearing 2T for what seemed like forever. I was starting to wonder if he and Skadi would both be in 2T at the same time despite being 2 years and 8 months apart.

But alas, the growth spurt happened and appears to be done. Leif's diet has returned to "would rather eat next to nothing".

The weekend took a turn for the worse on Sunday when AB and I both woke with headaches. (If I am going to wake with a headache I would have liked to have had fun the night before, thank you very much.) Skadi got up with daddy while I slept a little longer. Lucky daddy was the first to find out that Skadi had apparently picked up a stomach bug.

I woke and kept asking, "are you sure she is vomiting, or just spitting up?" I got my answer about 10 minutes later when she threw up the breast milk she had just consumed.

Leif insisted shortly thereafter that he too, had a stomach ache. Three year olds are tough to figure out. Is it that he wants medicine? Is it that he wants the attention being lavished on his sister? Or is this the reason he hasn't eaten so far today? Does he really have a stomach ache?

We may never know.

I erred on the side of caution and cancelled our playdate.

Skadi was up and down most of the day. Leif and I did get one good stint where Skadi was sleeping and we went into the front yard and cleaned out the front flower beds. I also pruned the juniper bush that had dreams of living on the other side of the sidewalk. I need a few cubic feet of soil for the flower bed since my giant bearded irises are working their way out of the dirt, but aside from that I am well on my way with our April goal. At least MY portion of the April goal.

I had talked up the anticipated "movie night" slated for Saturday night, only to be disappointed when The Bee Movie did not appear in our mailbox Saturday as promised. Star Wars was a worthy substitute.

I know. I can feel you looking at me sideways.

Star Wars? Guns, violence, Star Wars?

Yep, Leif's selections of shows he will watch on TV has expanded from Curious George to Curious George, The Forte Giant Little Einstein's episode OR any one of six Star Wars movies.

Blame AB.

At least the language is clean.

Leif sits and tells us who is the bad guy and who isn't. He squeals "here comes 'Darth Mater'" when Vadar comes on. He thinks the ewoks are cute, Jar Jar Binks is cool (just shoot me now), and Obi Kenobi looks just like daddy (AB beams at knowing his son would easily mistake him for Ewan MacGregor).

I keep telling myself he really isn't *that* young for Star Wars. I saw the first one in the theater when I was 5 years old. Only a year and a half older than Leif.

Today Leif had a dental check-up. I picked him up from school and we headed that way. Leif nearly bouncing out of his seat with excitement for the visit. (Weird child.)

Leif inherited my klutziness. AB has recently said that no matter the place, we are guaranteed that Leif will be the first one to fall and bang himself up or be in tears.

We were called back to the chairs, Leif hops into the big chair. I walk over to put my coat and purse on the bench when I hear the collective parent gasp around me. Reflexes said it was my kid.

Sure enough I whipped around just in time to see my son cartwheeling off the chair. Seems he stood up in the chair, lost his balance, caught his legs on the armrest and flipped over the side. Onto his head.

Yep, that's my kid.

The dentist was over within minutes checking him for breaks and checking his pupils. He gave me all the instructions on what to watch for in the case of a concussion. I have the list memorized at this point, but I just nodded my head and held my screaming preschooler.

The sweet and very concerned 8 year old boy in the chair next to him asked if he was going to be ok? He would be, I told him.

As typical Leif behavior, a few minutes later and he was as good as had it never happened. The assistant was able to get two good x-rays and clean his top teeth well.

When she got finished rinsing the top Leif insisted, "no thank you, you don't need to do more, I don't like it". The bottoms then proved to be a little more difficult.

No cavities (thank goodness).

And even better for me? Finding out we have a zero balance after fighting for 6 months with insurance on covering his work back in September done under general.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Into the Wild and into one's head

I finally got around to watching Into the Wild this weekend. AB and I had every intention of seeing it in the theater, but it never happened. We finally sat aside a night when we got both kids to bed by 8:30am and were able to stay up and watch it.

I loved it. I really, really liked it.

Of course this comes as no surprise given that it is one of my favorite books ever.

We read this book for book club about a year or so ago where I was flat out surprised that the vast majority of my book club, did not hold the book in the same regard as I did.

The phrase, "dumbass" was thrown around with wild abandon that night. Most people liked the writing and the fact that Krakour did an amazing job with investigative journalism. But very few people could identify with the protagonist and therefore, had little interest or regard for the book.

Have you ever longed to walk away? To survive? To test the limits of your body? To reject social stature? To know what it feels like to scrape by? To move yourself where the wind carried you? To escape the criticisms looming over you?

Both as I read the book and as I watched the movie I marvelled that my husband hadn't done more of this growing up. He IS that type. He is fascinated by survival and the wild. He grew up in Alaska where I think you need to have a little of that survivalist nature within you to love the place. My husband has A LOT of that in him.

After the movie AB did remind me that when Chris (the main character) died in the backwoods of Alaska, he was in fact sleeping on a beach in a tent in Alaska. AB worked and earned a good wage that summer, but saw little point to having a roof over his head when the money would go better towards tuition. For Chris, the money he had would go better to feed someone.

When we were in college, AB would head out walking by himself. He would walk into the foothills of Boulder and make his way around. After we had been dating for awhile I often went with him and I loved walking without really knowing where we were going or how long we would be gone. One trip in particular I remember walking in the hills outside Steamboat for about a day. Another time it was Moab.

I get Chris.

I tend towards being the solitary type and I think AB does as well. I understand finding peace within nature and the desire to live off the land.

My dream of living off the land has always been in retirement where few people will depend on us for their needs or worry about us. The last thing I would ever want to do is worry someone. In my dreams I see a cabin in the mountains with a garden where I grow food and preserve my own food. But I also see having a vehicle and a town to drive to for groceries... and an internet connection... and an airport nearby so I can go see my kids anytime I want. Still, some level of self-sustainability under my own energy is something I want to experience.

Chris was finding himself. I found myself at a few different points in my life. First was a conscious decision in college to quit dating and figure out who I was and what I liked. It scared me when I realized I could name my ex-boyfriend's favorite bands, but couldn't name my own. The next time I found myself was when I left Colorado and in a more urban sense than Chris, was forced to figure things out for myself as a grad student living paycheck to paycheck.

Where my criticisms come of Chris are in points left off of the movie. In the book, it was known early on that the Bus he died in was about one mile from a regularly traveled road. I am sure this point was neglected in the movie to escape the notions of "what a dumbass" instead of sympathy for the lead character dying alone and lonely. Still this was a criticism in the book, that he landed at the Bus and never ventured far enough away from his home point during those long months, to really know what surrounded him.

AB added to this notion the other night when I told him the Bus was a mile from the road by saying, "well duh, anyone could have figured that out. Buses don't just get dropped out in the middle of nowhere Alaska. There HAD to be a road nearby."

Oh yeah. Good point.

Second, Chris was unprepared. My friends and I have routinely teased my husband about being prepared for anything. When we have gone camping with friends, AB will frequently pack every coat in our house. Not because we will need them, but someone else might not have one. He carries boots in his car and gloves nearly all the time. And we always have food in our car for long trips - and not just because we get the munchies. In case of emergency. AB is my ultimate boy scout. Prepared for anything.

So while I "get" Chris, I also feel he should have been smarter. And he should have let his parents and sister at least know he was alive.

When he was.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Have a seat

I have these two chairs in my office. They are old leather, library chairs from the 1950's. The ultimate in comfort. When I was pregnant I would crawl into one and vege in my office. When I had to get up it was usually a touch of a problem and I would end up crawling out of them.

I happened upon them by chance really. There were a number of people who worked (like me) in the old library transformed into an office building. I had a crappy hell office (compared to my 2nd floor window office now). But at the time I was just happy to have an office because my manager at the time (Manager #2) was an ass and I had to beg and plead to get to move into this empty office.

A guy named Bubba... yes Bubba... used to walk by my office daily. He would occasionally stop and talk. Nice guy.

One day he came to my office and told me he was moving onsite and said he had a present for me if I wanted it. Of course, I told him!

The next day there were three leather chairs sitting in the hallway outside my office. (I had a sucky office, but it was large.) I VERY quickly scrambled to get my office door opened and scootch them into my office before someone came by and swiped them.

Since then nearly anyone who has come to my office has commented on my chairs. I have had a lab fellow, associate lab director and the lab director comment on my chairs at various points. Many meetings have been slated for my office simply because the people holding the meetings could have comfortable chairs to sit in. And there have been many jokes made about the fact that you only see chairs of this caliber in "high ups" offices and that I really don't have the stature at the lab to justify them.

I lost one chair when one of the guys in my former group lodged a complaint with someone (Manager #2) that I didn't really have a need for sll three chairs. And even though I was in another group at the time, crafts came by one day and hauled one off for him. I was ticked.

Because honestly, nearly anyone could have walked up to me and said, "can I have one of your chairs?" and I would have probably said yes. This is still the case. (Now I will find out who really reads my blog.)

A few months ago Manager #2 was deposed of his position (he wasn't my manager at the time) and he landed in the office neighboring mine. I always found it funny that the manager who lectured me on office hierarchy ended up with the mirror image of my office and smack next to me. Though it did make me a little self conscious about how loud my Medela breast pump was.

He always makes a point of making small talk with me when we find ourselves standing in the lunchroom at the same time. And he stands way too close when he does so... almost like he is trying to pretend like we are old buds, or he is letting me in on some secret. Actually he isn't a bad guy... just not one of my favorites given my pass over for promotion the year I was pregnant, my funded proposal being handed to someone else while on maternity leave and his refusing me an office and telling me to buy a power supply so I could pump in the bathroom. A little clueless managing a group of 72 men and 4 women at the time, but actually a nice guy.

He told me today that he noticed I had "managed" to finagle my famous chairs out of the old building and into my office.

Yep, I replied. It didn't seem that hard, I just told crafts what I wanted hauled to my new office and they did it.

"Yeah," he told me, "you know James lost his chair when he moved onsite. He tried everything to keep his chair and other antique 1950's furniture he collected while here, but they wouldn't let him take it with him to the main site."

Fear filled my heart. I am moving sometime this spring onto the main site. I might not get to take my chairs with?

All of a sudden reasons why Bubba passed his chairs onto me when moving onsite made sense. Well they didn't make sense. But I remember him saying, "you can have them as long as you stay offsite, if you move onsite you can't have them anymore".

I had thought he was just passing on a legacy to me... a legacy that those of us forced to live offsite got at least a little luxury.

Nope. Turned out he passed on legacy waste instead.

A couple of leather chairs from the old long gone library of the 1950's. Deemed as waste and therefore not "moveable".


I told Manager #2 I suppose he could put in his request for my chairs now since I too would be bailing from offsite life for the gleaming palace in the distance. Or at least the land of trees and grass between buildings.

I could see the wheels rolling in his mind.

Must find a deserving soul to pass my chairs onto before I move and before Manager #2's request comes in.