Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Coast pictures - Leif

Leif with his big catch of the day!

A whole net full of dead crabs! (He discovered the live ones pinched... so we hunted for dead ones only.)

This was where mommy discovered how bad dead crabs stink... The crabs were hauled back to the coast... by daddy.

Here we are out for a walk during high tide (when you can't get to the beach).

Leif is just dancing along and singing. I loved this!

"Hey mom, what are you giggling at?"

"Me? You are laughing at me??"

Coast pictures

Skadi checking out the rhododendrons (that grow like trees). There is a sore imbalance in pictures this time around. Skadi wasn't horribly happy with her bicuspids coming in. Thus, every picture I have of her she is giving me the evil eye that asks why I was holding the camera and not her.

Leif learning how to row the boat that his great grandpa built.

AB rowing the boat.

A pretty starfish I found when we went rowing by the wall.

Our neighborhood friendly seal.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How to get to know the guys in my building...

Over lunchtime, have your browser open to fishing charter websites.

I was eating my soup from Safeway while searching for Salmon Shark charters for my husband. (It is what he wants for Father's Day - to go salmon shark fishing while we are in Alaska in four weeks.)

So I was searching. And eating.

And before I knew it I had a group of guys outside my door introducing themselves.

They stuck around to chit chat a little after I explained I was looking for a charter for my husband. They told me my husband was a lucky guy to have such a devoted wife, not only to allow him to go on a charter by himself on vacation, but to look at booking it myself for him!

That made me smile.

A family controversy

Until you have been to the "family compound" it is a little hard to understand. I hate using the word "compound" as it makes me think of Waco... and the vacation site is nothing like Waco! But "everyone" calls it the "compound".

AB's great grandfather won this coastal plot of land back about 1928. He subsequently split it into five parcels and each of his children (four girls and one son) was given a plot of land on which they and their spouse could build a cabin. AB's grandfather built an A-frame cabin that is one bedroom (with THE most uncomfortable bed ever), a loft, a kitchen, bathroom, dining area and living room. The cabin is now shared by my father in law and his brother and sister. The primary users are AB's uncle, AB's two cousins and their families (kids just older than ours), and us since no one else lives within reasonable distance to access the cabin. Within each of the other four cabins are family structures not unlike ours. Our cabin is second from the left below - the green one.

Holidays are a big time at the compound. Holidays are the only days where no family is guaranteed to have the cabin to themselves because anyone who wants to come, should come and no one should be excluded. The only surviving and lucid matriarch of the family plans a potluck, everyone gathers around and sings a blessing. And we eat.

There is also something else you should know in embarking into this story... they are all Norwegian.

Very Norwegian.

And thus starts our story.

This was one of our first trips to the coast in a long time where there was a lot of family there. Cousins, aunts and uncles ranging in ages from 14 months (that would Skadi) up to nearly 100. And you can imagine how many people there were in those five cabins for a holiday weekend. The compound was alive with kids playing in the ocean, with people sitting on the decks eating and sipping wine, playing horseshoes, squirt gun fights, pickle ball and boating.

This is also one of the few places in the US where my kids' names are among the ordinary. Nobody balks at Skadi. It is different, but the namesake for Scandinavia and a Norse goddess? But of course it is a logical name for a little girl. And hearing it pronounced by the old Norwegians is beautiful. Indescribable actually. And something I hope to master before they all pass on.

Leif got to meet his cousins, second cousins and third cousins named Lars, Brigit, Ana, Marit, Signe... (keep listing Scandinavian names)... and Leif.

Yes Leif got to meet Leif.

Or what has apparently become a problem, a controversy in the family... "Leaf got to meet Layf".

I am used to people stumbling over my daughter's name. Not my son's. We have thoroughly violated the Norwegian code by going with the "Americanized" pronunciation of our son's name.

And it has irritated Aunt Muggy - the nearly 100 year old matriarch.

"Why you pronounce his name like that? Like something that falls on the ground?" she apparently asked her niece.

"Because that is the name his parents gave him," she told her.

"Well they are wrong and they need to stop that," Muggy retorted.

Muggy is a little forward.

Never before have I felt so self-conscious as I yelled my son's name across the compound grass.

I always said I would give him the option of the traditional Norwegian pronunciation. This weekend made me think that maybe it is time to start mentioning this to him? Though I do fear we have passed the point of no return.

Maybe I just need to teach him that when we are at the cabin, his name is "Layf".

Seems a whole lot easier right now.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Recent blips from the kids

One evening a few weeks back AB and I were supposed to go out and have an adults night out. Then Skadi started puking.

On their way to the get-together our friends K&V - also attending the get-together dropped off dessert for us. Creme brulee. Yumm.

Leif was so excited and gobbled it up.

The next night he asked, "what is Aunty V going to bring us for dessert tonight?"


Leif has figured out what allergies are. One of the boys in his classes is allergic to many foods. So lately when he doesn't want to do something he plays the allergy card.

"No mommy, I am allergic to turning off the TV."

"No mommy, I am allergic to meat."

"No mommy, I am allergic to coming inside."

So he doesn't have the full grasp of what being allergic really is. It just seems to be a surefire way to be exempt from whatever he is being asked to do.

Not that it works.


The first thing Skadi likes to do in the mornings once I release her from the confines of the Master Suite after having gotten ready for the day is to wander into Leif's room and wake him up. This isn't always what I want since sometimes (like this morning) she is up at 6am. And Leif will sleep till 7:30am.

However, being woken up by Skadi seems to be acceptable and usually nixes the whining. So I don't worry too much about it.

It just warms my heart to see her reach up and pat him giggling. Then once awake and she has been allowed onto the bed, go over and lay her head on him and wrap her arms around him.

Of course Leif thinks it is awfully special too.


Leif likes to declare things his "favorites" lately. If he likes something it is immediately "his favorite".

We have finally moved beyond his favorite song being Upside Down by Jack Johnson. I like it, but wow he can listen to a song ad nauseum.

Recently he declared his favorite song to be Ben Harper's "Steal My Kisses" and he would sing along in the car. Then much to my surprise the other day he declared Ray Charles' "You Are My Sunshine" his favorite.

But his true favorite? His real favorite song?

The one he sings all.the.time lately.

Daycare Dramas

Those of you who know me, know that I am not overly prone to complaining about daycare. 99.9% of the time I am lucky to have superb daycare. We have had a few stumbles with Leif this past year in his first year of preschool, but we are on a good path with him. He will start in a new room on June 16th, again as a first year preschooler.

With his late summer birthday we don't expect to be putting him in kindergarten at age five. Of course it is all complicated given that we are in private preschool, he will do kindergarten at the private school and he will work at his own pace. So I guess I should be saying, we won't be putting him into 1st grade when he is 6. While I don't relish the thought of paying another year of tuition... and I still hold out hopes for another baby before I am 40 without having to pay three daycare/preschool tuitions, this is the best thing for him. And insuring his success in the future is the most important among those other things.

Then there is Skadi.

I left dropoff yesterday crying. I haven't cried dropping off a child at daycare since Leif's first day of daycare. I sat in my car and talked to AB on the phone contemplating going back in, retrieving my child, declaring myself on FMLA for the next three weeks and taking her home.

AB talked me down saying he would do some checking around and actually did end up with a few other options. I went to my office and waited the long 30 minutes before picking up the phone and calling her daycare to see if she had calmed down. She had. She said hi to me on the phone and was sitting at the table in Room Chaos eating crackers.

It is only three weeks until she starts at Leif's school. They thought of her having to transition twice to another intermediate temporary care before going to the other school kills me. She doesn't transition well at all. But it is an option. As is my taking 3 weeks off (without pay) to stay home with her.

She has two teachers right now. Quiet and Mean. Quiet is the head teacher who is always changing diapers. I mean when you have 14 toddlers in a room what else does one teacher do most of the time? Mean likes to sit there with her clipboard yelling and complaining.

Mean walked in with us this morning. She immediately hit the roof when she saw one of the children on the little kid size sink.

After she screamed at him she went off talking to me. "I don't know who the hell thought that a sink in this room was appropriate, but it isn't. That is THE stupidest idea ever." (Was not thrilled about her saying "hell" and "stupid" in front of the kids, but that is just something to add to my list.)

I said nothing.

See at the school Skadi will go to they also have a sink. And they have a stool. And they teach the kids in this age group how to use the stool to climb up, wash their hands, get a drink of water, turn the water on and off and to use the sink one at a time. And yes... they can play in it too.

Because it is JUST water.

My mantra is three weeks. Just three more weeks.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Not a sucker for cute girl clothes

Nope, not at all...
Side note... we are headed out to the coast Friday morning for four days (about) at the cabin.

Good food.
Family who we see once a year to swone over my kids.
Cool weather. (Not that it is that bad here...)
I will come back rested and ready to conquer the world I am quite sure.

Monday, May 19, 2008

What is this object?

At Leif's parent teacher conference last week I was told that he knew his numbers, colors and shapes... all but one.

What is this?

Well if you are my son, you are adamantly insistent that it is an "Eskimo".

His lead teacher quizzed him three times, two other teachers asked him as well (being that it was funny and all). He got tired of their prodding and finally proclaimed, "it's an Eskimo, why don't you know this?"

I tested him at home too. Drew a heart and asked him what it was.

"An Eskimo," he stated matter of factly at dinner.

I suppose we should be correcting him. But part of me would rather just start calling hearts "Eskimos" myself.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Both kids enjoying the heat

Sprinkler running

Skadi had a little problem with running through the sprinkler.

Problem being that her short little legs don't really run yet.

And she still does a lot of plopping down.

So the sprinkler ticked her off.

AB decided to help her out with sprinkler running.

Making up for at least three weeks

We finally got a weekend with everyone healthy.

After a trip to Home Depot we went home and started on the back yard. AB rented a rototiller and amended and broke up our soil. Leif and I planted four planters/baskets in the back. And it was HOT.


Sunday we planted some more ground cover under the fruit trees - something I have been meaning to do for a few years now. I just so happened to find the type I wanted while shopping Saturday.

We planted the garden... three tomato plants, three broccoli plants, six or so peppers of different varieties (something came over AB, peppers suck in our garden, always have) and Leif planted his little packet of carrots by dumping the entire contents of one packet into his little 12" trough.

We will thin.

We also planted six beautiful pumpkin seeds. We will also thin here. Probably down to two plants eventually.

Two more planters out front. Then a foray into the sprinkler with the kids.

And just to drive it home a little harder? I had not a scrap of dirty laundry in my house for a whole two hours.

And now?

Now I am ready to collapse.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Time for tea

I should have gotten a picture.

Except that the gross factor just warranted immediate intervention instead of camera retrieval.

Skadi managed to find a half a plastic Easter egg in the toy box.

She then cruised over to the automatic dog and cat waterer.

She filled her little make shift cup up and drank it.

Then she did it again.

Apparently she needs a tea set.

(Well at least the "cup" wasn't filled with spit.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My life will never be the same

IT came over to work on my computer setup today at work. (My old, old computer finally bit the dust after the office move.)

While we waited the 40 minutes for my data to be copied over he configured the spare monitor sitting innocently in the corner of my office so that I now have dual monitors.

Life will NEVER be the same again.

Multitasking at its best.

And not for the reason you would think!

Yesterday AB told me we needed to get Skadi some more summertime pajamas. We have put her in fleece most of her life to this point. And can I say that while I love the fleece, I really, really love the summertime Carter's little girls lines.

I told him it was good he mentioned this as I just got a coupon for Kohls in the mail today.

"You will have to go there yourself then!" he tells me.

But not for the reason you would think...

See I had $4o in Kohl's cash a few weeks ago. AB went with me and spent it all, plus more...

on himself.

Being that this IS Kohls (i.e., inexpensive) he walked out of there with 6 shirts.

And now he is afraid to go back. Afraid he will find something else he likes and lose his reputation of being a "non-shopper".

In the meantime... I get a trip to Kohls by myself! With the intent of buying itty bitty cute pajamas... but I am sure I will come across something else to spend my money on.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ever wonder...

what an antibiotic allergy looks like?

Well wonder no more.

My poor baby.

Given the state of her skin, she is in surprisingly good humor thankfully. Just don't stop the Benadryl.

Monday, May 12, 2008

My new favorite...


When I graduated with my Ph.D., I got a few gifts. Not many. It isn't like when you graduate from high school or college and are lavished with gifts. With grad school it is more like people figure you are going to go out and make lots of money and work a great job and you are an adult... what do you need with "Oh the Places You Will Go"? (And you probably have four copies at least anyways.)

I received a few gifts though, despite the fact that I didn't send out announcements, nor did I march. Which according to my grandmother means I never graduated. (The whole defending your dissertation thing apparently didn't count.)

Ok, so on my list of regrets I will add that I never marched in my graduation ceremony for grad school. I was too excited to get up here and start my ultraimportant job and they "needed" me.

(Had I known how much they "needed" me, I would have stayed put and marched... Hindsite.)

One of my mom's good friends bought me the CIA's Textbook, The Professional Chef. CIA being the Culinary Institute of America, not the Central Intelligence Agency.

I knew it was a fantastic and unique gift when I received it, but it sat on my bookshelf relatively unused. Ok, I admit it, everything being measured in lbs and ounces put me off. Yes, I am a scientist, I can convert. But who wants to analyze a recipe at that level of detail before cooking?

Plus back then? I was way into The French Laundry's cookbook and mastering what I could in there. Thomas Keller was my hero.

My CIA textbook though has gotten more use in the last few days then it has in the previous 6 years. And I am leaving it out on my counter so I can do more with it. I am loving really learning the basics, the science and art of food at a much higher leven than I ever really intended in so far just three recipes.

The cookbook is NOT for everyone. Like I said the whole "1 lb of sugar" thing is just weird. But in addition to that, the recipes assume a lot. Like that you will know what the right amount of butter is - many recipes say "butter as needed" - many things are not measured. Times for cooking are not exact. Don't know what tomato concasse is before you start? Better find out! (Fancy name for peeled and seeded and diced tomatoes... of course...)

Sunday I made one of the quiche recipes. Fantastic. (And I will get the recipe out to those who asked for it.) Tonight I did pears poached in port. The recipe suggested serving them with caramel. Of course that would be a homemade caramel... but I do reside in the reality suberb of working mom-ville - thank you Hershey's jar of caramel sauce. It actually sounded somewhat nasty to me - caramel and port? Chocolate and port maybe. Caramel?

No joke. Yum.

Top Chef here I come!

If I can just get through Wednesday...

Last week I spent the week saying "if I can just get through Friday".

And I survived.

But I started my Monday morning with a new mantra... "if I can just get through Wednesday".

It is mid-year here and I am involved in a couple mid-year reviews as well as involved in a few new projects that are spinning up mid-year. So project-wise I am in good shape... a little overwhelmed right now, but good shape.

Last week one of the deputy sector leads delegated a client to me in his absence this week.

Nothing ever "happens" when someone is gone right? Or is it that everything happens when the lead is gone?

First thing this morning I walked in to an e-mail message from the client with an attached document (that I need to go read still) asking for a teleconference with the PIs of that project.

Anxiety? Just a little. Ok, a lot.

I was trying to explain to AB this evening why my stomach was in knots. I am not acting in my role as project or program manager. I am not even substituting for someone else in that same role. I am acting in a role of sector manager. And I don't even know what a sector manager does!

It is exciting. And frightening.

And please oh please don't let that rash that showed up on my daughter's body be anything. Please.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Walk pictures

Wrapping it up

AB got home from work a little early and so I sent him outside with the kiddos while I "check my work e-mail". Thankfully Leif doesn't know the difference between working and blogging - he won't rat me out. (He is insistent I help him find a working water gun... and I am not moving.)

This past week was one of the roughest weeks I have had in a long time. Without the sickness that invaded our house (again), I knew it was going to be rough. Then little things aside from being in class 40 hours and thus sorely neglecting my projects for the week just in time for mid-year reviews just made it worse than it really needed to be - being in between offices, finally getting my stuff in my office only to find out I had no network access, finding out it wasn't the drop in the new office. I guess good news on that is that my manager has agreed with me that replacing the network card on my 4 year old computer just isn't worth it.

I get a new computer!! Finally!

So that is a bright point on my horizon. And this computer I am going to organize logically from day one!

I have to admit that even though I knew it was going to so suck to miss my last day of class, I mentally needed it. Spending the day at home with the kids (albeit sick and fussy) was seeming a whole lot more like what I needed. Of course I got a flippant attitude from my co-PI in this venture when I told her I wouldn't be there. She knew all week my kids were sick and my husband was also in a course - and had already put in 12 hours earlier in the week caring for Skadi at home instead of in his course. I was quite put off by her response to me last night that "well but we are doing the low flow discussions tomorrow and we need to hear this". I keep reminding myself - she has dogs, not kids, her frame of reference is different. Other options? I don't have any. I couldn't take my daughter to daycare with a fever of 102.5F.

This weekend is the usual stuff. A little holiday hidden in there... AB came in from work and hid something... hmmm... I wonder what it is?

Leif made me soap and a card at school for Mother's Day. Funny, he had been talking about soap for days, asking me if I liked soap, if I needed any soap, etc., but I didn't pick up on it. I just thought he was obsessing with being clean again. (He was going to "clean the house" at one point today - he had a spray bottle and paper towels and thought an area of the floor needed scrubbed.)

My "goals" have been a little on the slacker side. I decided on the Master Suite over about the next two months. I think I should just say "over the summer". I am having a hard time coming inside working when there is still a lot of stuff to be done outside (my garden isn't even in and I don't think this weekend will afford us the time for that either).

AB has signed us up for a four day weekend at the cabin over Memorial Day. It is a beacon shining bright. We need to get out of this house and rejuvenate. Since we are going over Memorial Day weekend it will be very busy with loads of family to visit in the neighboring cabins.

Next week I will recover - mentally and physically. Until then I am letting my brain turn to mush... and going to pour a glass of wine now.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Blips from the week

Leif outside wearing shorts... "Mommy my knees are cold, cover them up please!"


Leif on the phone - (to no one) "Hello C? Hi honey, how are you doing? I want you to come see me honey. Come over now ok. Kisses!" (Hangs up.)

Leif on the phone - (again to no one) "Hello N, Hi honey, how are you doing? I want you to come see me now ok? Love you." He is planning something... and it kind of scares me!


Leif outside not intentionally wearing shorts. Fleece shorts?

"AB what pants did you put him in?" I ask.

"A pair that were in his drawer," he says.

I look closer.

"Those are Skadi's. Not only that, they are 6-9 month sized!"

"They seemed a touch tight," he says. "Boys can wear Capri pants can't they?"


I just need to get this out and then I won't complain any more! Tired of whining - skip this.

6 weeks ago Skadi started vomiting.
A few days later AB and I got the crud.
AB's combined with Leif's cold.
5 weeks ago Leif, Skadi and AB have cold
4 weeks ago I got cold
3 weeks ago the cold was getting better and everyone was on the mend.
2 weeks ago Leif and I went to the Urgent Care - he had double ear infection, I had secondarily infecteed bronchitis and a sinus infection.
A week ago this coming Saturday Skadi started vomiting.
And didn't stop until Monday afternoon.
Combined with a cold.
AB took her to the doctor on Tuesday and she has a double ear infection (her first).
On Wednesday I got the cold.
Today driving home Leif started puking. (And is still puking.)

What exactly have I done? What karma did I violate? Should we just sell our infected house and move?

This has to end... doesn't it?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

When you have nothing but whining to do...

Best just to blog with pictures!

Check out that perfect ski jump landing. He is showing his Nordic side here.
All boy I tell you.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Can't end on a whiney note

So here is a picture of Skadi from my mom and stepdad's recent visit:

A first

I am quite sure I have never ever slept through the phone ringing.


Even when I was bone tired while pregnant with the kiddos I would register the phone ringing - though I sometimes chose not to get up and answer it. I would choose to stay snuggled in bed instead.

Skadi was home sick Monday and Tuesday - the worst week EVER for us to have a sick kid. I was home with her Monday through the brunt of the puking episodes. (AB took over Monday afternoon and then stayed with her all day today.) Monday morning when Skadi crashed, so did I. The laundry beckoned, the kitchen called my name, my blogs called, work e-mail went neglected. All the while I slept.

When we finally rose I saw I had missed a call from AB. Missed it totally.

Right now I am beyond tired thanks to a multitude of reasons. This evening after the kids FINALLY fell asleep, I ran through my work e-mail, barely registering that my phone number at work was also changing with my move to my new office (that apparently happened today). I hit my "flag" button repeatedly, reminding myself that I will have time next week. At least more time then right now.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Do we really need to be told this?

I went into a restroom down the hall from my new lab today. Went into the stall (there were two stalls) and saw a sign:

"NOTICE! This restroom is shared, please be conscious of your messes and CLEAN UP after yourselves!"

I mean really. We are grown professional women, do we need to be reminded that public restrooms in the workplace and with stalls are not private? Do we need to be told to pick up after ourselves?

The restroom in my current (soon to be previous) building was fun. There are always jokes taped to the walls. Someone put up magnetic male paperdolls. People store their things in there (hairbrushes, toiletries, etc.).

Something tells me I am not in Kansas anymore.

I am wondering if this has anything to do with the Histology lab next door?

I worked in histology for many years. The histologist I worked under and knew for a few years never tolerated any joking around and I am pretty sure she also reminded us regularly of bathroom etiquette and that we were sharing the latrine space.

Phew, glad I didn't decide to become a histologist for good!


On a side topic... the next 10 days are going to be hairy for me. I have one day left to get everything done - get my office packed, get my projects ahead (or caught up), and get a technician working for me on his two feet to get things done. It wouldn't be so bad except that I will be in a class all next week.

For 40 hours.

That's FORTY hours.


2/3 of it is classroom and I have to bring a calculator.

Double Ugh.

I will be without a work computer until May 12th when I can start digging out - in my new office. My evening computer time next week will likely be spent trying to keep my head above water with whatever presents itself on the work front. My personal computer time will be sorely neglected.

Which means my blog could be sorely neglected next week.

Or my work may be sorely neglected next week.

We will see which one wins.