Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"What's dis mama?"

Silas: "What's dis mama?"

(Pokes me in the boob.)

Me: "It's a boobie Silas."

Silas: (Giggle) "I yike boobies mama."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Skadi age 8

So as promised – Skadi “Bean’s” 8th birthday. Skadi has assumed a nickname courtesy of Silas and we think it will stick, maybe even surmount “Bean”. It’s “K.K.” Silas has called her K.K. now for months – since he started talking K.K. was one of his first “words”. 


Back story – for those of you who don’t know the origin of “Bean” or had forgotten… Skadi was born Skadi Jeanne. Same middle name as me, my mom, my grandmother, great grandmother… When she was born my mom called my grandmother and told her that she was born and we named her Skadi Jeanne. My grandmother was quiet and very nonchalant acting. Almost annoyed, I recall my mom telling me. It wasn’t until a few weeks later when she apparently worked up the nerve to ask my mom if “Bean” was a family name in the Carman family? Huh? We all got a lot of laughs out of it, particularly since there was a similar incident when I was born that involved my grandmother writing a letter to her family in California informing them of the birth of her granddaughter. My grandmother had notoriously bad handwriting and in a few weeks I started receiving gifts for Axel. My great grandmother and great great uncles called me Axel for years.


So anyways, Skadi seems anxious to lose the Bean and embrace K.K. and occasionally I even falter and call her K.K. myself.


Skadi had a hard time deciding what she wanted to do for her birthday. She had wanted a big party, but since her main birthday gift was actually a plane ticket to come to Colorado with me for work, I said no. Only a house party with a few invites. She labored over her invite list and I crossed a lot of kids off. SMALL party, I emphasized. A sleepover, she countered? Ok, 6 girls from your class, I told her. Then I gave on one thing.


“But mom, Aidan is one of my best friends ever. He is so nice to me and we play together as much as I play with the girls!” she cried. (Yes, actually cried.)


So I sent an invitation in for Aidan with a note explaining that Skadi is having a sleepover party for a few girls and we wondered if Aidan might like to join us for the evening between 6-9pm for dinner, cake and fun? Then I got the text, “Actually he would like to come for the sleepover, thanks for inviting him!”




I gave the phone to Hans to read and his response was “I should have read what you wrote in the invite!” I was clear, I swear, that the girls were spending the night and that Skadi wanted Aidan to attend and I had recalled debating on the times to put in his invite!


I counseled with a few friends on what to do. They are 8 years old. Littles. If the mom is ok with it… Skadi has brothers. Her older brother has friends sleep over and they all play together. What’s the difference if one of the boys happened to be 8? We decided to roll with it and let the boy stay over and sleep in Leif’s room.


Leif’s response was key – “the difference is that *I* don’t know him and *I* don’t want some unknown boy sleeping in my room!” And he had a point. But we DID know an 8 year old boy that he is friends with. And one even that HAD been on the invite list and then pulled off when I started repeating my mantra “SMALL party”.


So I contacted his mom, a good friend of mine, and explained the situation. After laughing she said that yes, her son would come over and spend the night and the plan was done.


When I was in first grade my parents let me have a slumber birthday party and invite ALL the girls in my class. I could never figure out why they said, “never again” after that party and not even my sister got a comparable party. But it was all about No after that wonderful party. 


I get it now. And now I will say NO! Never again! 1-2 kids sleeping over? No problem. Party? Nope.


A little bit of it was the strange boy attendee, but more was just all the different personalities and children I didn’t know and trying to figure out what was best for them. Most of the kids didn’t eat dinner. Or breakfast. They whined. They tattled. They didn’t sleep. They whined even more. 


I am under no delusions that my daughter doesn’t behave the same way at someone else’s house and that she doesn’t annoy the crap out of other parents who don’t know her. But goodness gracious! We were all tired the next day.



The following weekend after the slumber party Skadi and I got on a plane and flew by ourselves to Denver! No boys allowed. Girls only trip.


I had to go for work. One of my students wanted to give a presentation at a conference. Then my client decided to host a session at a conference in Denver and it was a natural fit. We were shoe ins for talks, it was convenient, and my colleagues would be there creating a safe environment for my student's first talk at a big conference.  The only problem was that it was over Skadi’s birthday. AB agreed to my fabulous idea to take her with me and rely on family to field her as needed over those few days.


It was excellent bonding time for us and my family. Not living in Colorado, my kids just really don't know my family well. We went to the museum, she hung out with my sister, my brother in law and niece and nephew. Grandpa came down and took her to the zoo. She went to a work dinner with me. We went to Casa Bonita with my best friend and her cousin. We went shopping. We went to the American Doll store.




I would do it all over in an instant. We had such a good time together.





Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Catching up

I keep having thoughts of “I should blog about this” and then the time just slips away. It is slipping away badly. Can you believe it is already mid-May?


I thought I would just do a recap/catch up post as a jumping off point.


The kids:


Silas – I did an update for his birthday a few weeks ago while I was in Hawaii. So his update will be shorter, lowest hanging fruit – he goes first.


·         Well child visit: 

o   Height – 36” and 80thpercentile

o   Weight – 27 lbs 11 oz and 30th percentile

-Concern about the weight loss. He was up to just about 30 lbs, but has suddenly dropped off. Some of this is probably due to his increased activity level – he runs everywhere. But we would have expected him to hold instead of lose weight. He was terribly sick while we were in Hawaii and I suspect it was being sick and the lack of nutrition going in that caused weight loss. I also think that his refusal to sit down and eat dinner is part of it too. Apparently he eats well and a variety of food at daycare. But he is playing mom and dad for something and refuses most dinner, will sit for about 5 minutes. Eat a little, then scream bloody murder to get out of his seat and “go play”. In the interest of a semi-peaceful dinner, we eventually give in to the little terrorist and release him from his confines. 

- Out of hopes that he will gain weight we have loosened our dietary reigns on him. Normally there would be no dessert when no dinner was eaten. But for the time being… “ice cream? Of course you can have ice cream.”

·         Vocabulary: He still is powering ahead. Counting, speaking, expressing himself. This past weekend we bought a few containers of ladybugs and released them into our yard. The ladybugs would crawl on him and his response? “What the heck?” It was seriously the funniest thing. 


Skadi – My girl is 8 years old! Poor middle child. I didn’t blog about her birthday… and I really, really should. It was wonderful with a few weird things (not associated with her!). Ok, Skadi birthday blog post will come next. So this will be short about her. 

·         Well Child Visit: 

o   Height – 49.25" and 28thpercentile. Probably still not tall enough to ride the water slide. She has gone up a bit and I am truly wondering if it is the stomach aches that have eased. About a year ago we started trying to pinpoint the cause of her constant tummy aches. Meeting with specialists in Seattle did little, we were given real pills, placebo pills, nothing worked. We finally (on our own) pulled her off gluten and dairy and eggs (mild egg allergy noted on her allergy panel) and then slowly let things back into her diet. We were trying to pinpoint something that was causing her distress – we became certain that it was lactose intolerance for a while. Nothing has really jumped out for us, but she is better. She is back to eating things with gluten, small amounts of dairy (cheese mostly, she used to drink a ton of milk and doesn’t anymore, she is a water kid now) and eggs don’t seem to bother her. It remains a mystery, but she isn’t writhing in pain anymore.


Leif – Finishing fourth grade. I remember 4th grade well. Leif is definitely the brainy kid in class and chums around with the other brainy kids. He has a good friend who is overboard with technology. I always felt as though we were quite permissible with Leif given that he has his own Kindle and uses the computer regularly. Then I met his new best friend who carries an iPhone 6 that acts as his mobile hot spot. He informed me last weekend on his visit that he didn’t need my wifi code like other kids probably do. Yeah… most other 10 year old request my wifi password… NOT!


Leif’s big concern wherever we go (and it drives AB and I INSANE) has become “is there wifi there?” I suspect this will soon become a requirement for when we book something, “what, you have no wifi? GREAT!” We are constantly pulling a device (his, ours) out of his hands and working to get him to interact with the real world. He prides himself on his abilities too – he told us he “hacked” the typing test at school recently. Though the teacher became suspicious when he had a perfect result and made him redo it. It’s hard to admonish his actions when you are giggling (and the teacher caught on and took control…). Go ahead - call us bad parents. 


Leif was totally thrilled to be accepted as a part of the Safety Patrol Team at his new school next year. He will demand respect from the rest of the student body as he dons his safety vest and wields his flag.


AB – For the first time EVER, we left kids at home with AB’s sister and mom and he took off with me on travel. I had to go to Kona, Hawaii for 8 days. Yes, it was rough. We were running a short course on Sunday and then my presentation wasn’t until Friday, requiring me to spend a solid week hanging out in paradise. AB headed that way Tuesday and we stayed through Sunday, arriving home late Sunday night. It was nice to get away, but I was seriously missing the kids by Sunday. It was just a very long time to be away. I was talking with a colleague the other day who said she was so happy her family came and met her – she completely understood my feelings of missing the kids. In three years when we go back? We will take the kids then.


We had a super time though. I worked my tail end off the first few days that AB wasn’t there so that I could take a bit of time off with him. I let him sleep in Wednesday morning and I attended some conference. Then mid-morning we packed up and drove towards Kilauea. It was a must do for me. Nearly 25 years ago to the date I had stood and watched lava flow over the road in front of me, and into the ocean. Something I will never, ever forget. We took a leisurely trip towards Volcanoes National Park. Stopped at a black sand beach (it was a windy, stormy day, no snorkeling or swimming) and saw some nesting sea turtles! Once at Volcanoes we saw the crater rim before the weather moved in, hiked some lava tubes, drove to the coast to see the vast lava fields (and trip down memory lane for me). Then back up to the rim for nighttime crater viewing. Loved it all. Then the long trek back to the hotel that night.


Thursday and Friday we hung pretty close to the hotel, ate good food. Then Saturday we went out on a snorkel trip at the Captain Cook Memorial. I had a super time snorkeling and hanging out on the boat. AB had done a few snorkeling outings the days prior, so he wasn’t quite as impressed, but I was thrilled!


AB’s work is going fine. His contract will end eventually (maybe soon, maybe not) and he is trying to figure out what he wants to do. Work in a similar area to what he is doing now (he should be a shoe in), find a job in town with a private industry with more reasonable hours and actual vacation and sick time, or make a play (again) to try and get on at my lab. We may have some leverage, but not going to count those chickens before they hatch.


Me (aka Nuclear Mom) – Things have been going gang busters at work. I can’t even describe it. A few years ago I took on a technical project again and that work has blossomed. I could fund myself fully on that project, but I try to keep it to 30% time because I have so many other things I want to do. The project has led to solicitations for me to speak at conferences and next week, at a University. I am thrilled about the resurgence of technical work in my daily portfolio over management duties. I enjoy that little boost I get when I get those cold e-mails that say, “I read your article…”, or recently “I cited your team’s publication in my proposal and the funding agent has asked us to see if we can work with you, interested?”


So the remaining 70% of my time I am trying to figure out how to split it. Right now I have about 150% work I am fitting into that 70% of time. I am trying not to drop things. I had the privilege of running two proposal calls this past quarter. One from behind the scenes and the other very much in front. I have been approached about taking a new position at the lab and yet another new office in a different building and I have accepted. It has yet to come to fruition, but the scuttle I hear is that it will once things settle down with the client reorganization and another key high level role has been filled internally, then we will transition me. I had hesitations with it – mainly the personalities I will be working with and the fact that I love my job currently, I was not clamoring for change. So frankly if they find some other poor sap or decide it isn’t the right job for me, I am totally fine with that. I have been encouraged by some colleagues recently to take it and run with it and very nice things said about my work, so I am willing to give it a shot. 


The main PI I have worked with over the past 4 years was just notified of his promotion to fellow yesterday. I am so happy for him. We have worked really, really hard over the last several years and he very much deserves this honor.


My travel schedule has been ridiculous over the past few months. Enough so that I am looking at achieving status on TWO airlines by the end of the year. Of course that says that if I would have focused all my efforts on utilizing just one airline that I could have a higher status… but I am a sucker for convenience and going with whoever can get me home fastest to see my family.


I like travel. I don’t like flying pretty much at all, but it is the means to the end. I like my work. But what I don’t like is missing the kids and being away from my family. I am not to that point where I feel as though I am missing major aspects of my kids’ lives, but I can see how that could happen – I have no less than 5 trips that have been proposed to me for the next couple months. (None that I have accepted.) I have one more trip next week and then I have committed to avoiding travel at least through the end of the school year (end of school year is a bugger for kids having stuff to do) and if possible, through the summer. My next non-negotiable trip on the books is scheduled for September 1-3. And so when I saw that is the first day of school (Sept 1), I started trying to weasel. I may have gained a reprieve for one day. My new position is going to require travel, so I need to figure out how to balance this all. (And part of the reason that AB is thinking about seeking a position where he might have more flexibility.)


Home life… after the month of April concluded I was able to come back to reality, escape the crashing waves of other people’s proposals and being gone more than I was actually home. I insisted we spend Mother’s Day at home – we normally take the trailer out. That was a good decision not only for my mental health, but physical health since I fell to some horrible cold/cough sickness that I am wondering if I am ever going to lose.


Goals status – 

·         January was carpet  and I am happy to report that after 4 months, the living room carpet has been installed. And it is gorgeous and soft and the entire family is in love. I am doubly thrilled to have that process behind us.

·         February was the sewing room. Shelves were cut and painted, then life happened. They still sit there ready to be hung and filled. It’s fine. I have had other things I wanted done that were on a more pressing timeline (garden).

·         March I had wanted to organize my photos on the computer. I would put that at about 40%. They have been organized, but I have just started on purging duplicates, bad photos, etc. I need to do it when the kids aren’t around and hovering since they want to know why I am deleting THAT picture. Typical response is “because we have three others that are better”. But it goes so much faster if *I* just do it.

·         I didn’t even attempt April, and I didn’t blog about May – but May was the garden. At minimum I wanted to get my three raised bed planted. But AB raised me one and built three more raised beds that I wanted and filled them with raised bed dirt. I have the first three planted, but planting the last three is on the docket for this weekend. Eventually I want the grass surrounding the raised beds to be gone and pea gravel to occupy that space. Maybe it will be my June goal…


Then comes Memorial Day. I travel Monday through Wednesday of next week. I am happily taking the Thursday off to hang with my kids since their teachers are walking out (I am very supportive of their positions, they need to be paid more, the administrator’s pay raises are ridiculous and I want my schools to comply with the new WA state law that says there shouldn’t be more than 26 kids per classroom… my district gets nearly every bond voted in that they ask for, come on!). I am going to get us ready to go camping on Thursday and then Friday we are out of here for some much needed forest/mountain time. I need that outdoors time, kick off the summer, snuggle with the kids in the trailer time in a bad, bad way.