Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I'm it.

I got tagged by Scattermom, so I guess that means I have to get off of my seemingly ever-expanding ass (yeah, I'm not one of those people who breastfeeds off the weight, thank you Gisele. Quite the contrary - I think my body is preparing for a potential grocery store famine) and write a blog post.

(okay, it isn't that I've been sitting around doing nothing. I've been crushingly busy at work AND traveling for business and for pleasure. Subject for another post, one which you will undoubtedly have to wait a month for)

Anywho. Here's the meme:

1. Sum up your blogging motivation, philosophy and experience in exactly 10 words.
2. Tag 10 other blogs to perpetuate the meme.

1. If I don't blog, all I write is boring science.

2. The problem with this tagging bit is that many of the people I'd tag have ALREADY DONE THIS. Or they've given up on blogging altogether. This is the problem with being a latecomer to the meme, yet an early-comer to blogging. So if you're in my blogroll and you haven't done this one yet - well, heya! You're up!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A love letter to my Buggle


Dear Buggle,

I'm having so many days lately where, after you've gone to bed, I come downstairs and say to Daddy "Wow. Owen is just such a joy. What a great kid."

I have to admit, when you were two, you were a bit trying. But at three, you're such a big boy. You're so articulate. You're funny. You're a big helper. You (most of the time) are a great listener. You're a wonderful and loving big brother.

You're such a smart little kid. You find letters and numbers everywhere. I love when you take a bite of a cracker and say "Look! It's an L!" Hee. You've become so imaginative. I love watching you play, and playing with you. I really love coloring with you. I can tell you're going to be a great athlete one day too. You are amazing at sports, you always have been (clearly, you got this from your father, not me). I also have a great time with you in the kitchen. Today we made banana bread together. You always want to help me make dinner. Even though I make most of dinner while you, Alison, and Daddy are driving home from school, I keep little jobs aside just for you to do with me.

I love that you're so great with your sister. Mommy and Daddy were a little apprehensive about what it was going to be like once we brought a new baby home. When I was pregnant and hormonal, I cried about it all the time. After all, it had just been the three of us for three years. Were you going to resent that you were sharing the spotlight with another kid? Were you going to feel left out, or like I didn't have time for you anymore? I remember when I took you to the Big Brother/Big Sister class at the hospital, they sent us home with a little packet with some information about how to help our kids prepare for a new baby at home. One of the pages said "Mommy, it only takes five minutes to let me know you love me..." with all these little things I should remember to do with you. Oh, I cried so much after I read that. Was I really not even going to have five minutes for you, after you'd been the most important thing in my life up until then? Well, thankfully, it wasn't so bad. You loved Alison as soon as you saw her. We could barely keep you away from her. Every morning before you went to school, you wanted to come in and peek at her. "Can I just see her cute face?" It was so sweet (even though sometimes you woke her up - that was less sweet!). You were always very patient and understanding when I needed to take care of the baby. Your face lights up every time she smiles at you - which is often! - and hers lights up when she catches your eye. I can't wait to see how your relationship develops.

When you were born, I was so surprised - I didn't know I could love someone that much. But I do, and I love you more and more every day. I'm so lucky to get to be the Mommy of such a wonderful kid.

I love you, Buddy!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Art Project Project.

Owen comes home from daycare with folders full of art. Some of it is painfully cute. Some of it is bizarre and crunchy. Some of it is completely unrecognizable. In today's vlog, Owen tries to walk us through his most recent art folder.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

What I learned from our Disney trip.


We went to Disneyworld earlier this month. It was the first time in many years that either Brian or I had gone, and the first time EVER that O had gone. Since we just celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary, we decided to use this trip as our anniversary present, so we spent a little more money and stayed in the hotel at the Animal Kingdom, where you can sit on your balcony and watch zebras, giraffes, and other crazy wildlife right outside of your window.

1. Even if your kid has not sat his precious little butt in a stroller for two years, he will want to ride one at Disneyworld. When your friends tell you to bring a stroller for him, listen to them.

Seriously. I cannot even remember the last time O has been in a stroller. He was one, I'm sure (he's 3.5 now). Everyone said, "Bring a stroller for him!" And I said "Pshaw! He has the energy of ten thousand adults! He'll never sit in a stroller! And if he gets tired, we can carry him in the Ergo!". And by 11 am, the kid was TIRED AND HOT and having all of the meltdowns associated with those two conditions. Mommy and Daddy were also tired and hot and having meltdowns.

(actually, this was a sobfest over the thunderstorm that was going on)

We did try to carry him in the Ergo, but you wouldn't walk far before he'd want to get out and see something. And what a pain in the butt it was to keep loading him back into that sucker. So by noon he was in the stroller. Of course we had the baby too, so we had to carry her in the sling. And it was in the 90s, so that was pretty hot for her (plus there isn't any shade). Also, we had the carseat in the stroller since she's still so young. So we had to carry that around too. All could have been avoided if we'd just brought our umbrella stroller like everyone told me to!

2. There are mosquitos at the Animal Kingdom. If you are one of those people that mosquitos love, don't be an idiot. Bring insect repellant.

We got a savanna view room at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It was great, because it had a balcony and there were all kinds of cool animals right outside our window. After we put the kids to bed, we took some wine out onto the balcony and played Scrabble on my iPad.


Now, I don't know what I was thinking, I mean, it's summer. In Florida. At night. And I am one of those people. Not only do mosquitos think I am friggin' awesome, I also react badly to them. After two nights on the balcony, I counted nearly 75 mosquito bites, covering both calves, my feet and toes, my arms, and even some on my back, right where my shirt ended. Now I am covered in large, bright red welts and I look like I have some sort of skin disease. It's day 5 now and they are starting to fade, so I'm hoping they'll be gone by next week because I have a business trip to go on and I'll be wearing a skirt!


3. The Baby Care Center rocks.

They have one Baby Care center at Magic Kingdom. They had a big room with big changing tables (and disposable covers), one with highchairs (didn't need that this time), and a smaller room with rocking chairs for nursing moms. I totally have zero problem nursing in public, but it was REALLY HOT and it was nice to have somewhere to sit quietly in an air conditioned room with the baby every couple of hours. They really need more of these areas at Disney. They even had diapers, diaper cream, wipes, baby food, etc. - anything you might have forgotten (that you'd buy I'm assuming, amazingly we didn't forget anything so I don't know for a fact).

4. Check a crowd calendar.

I just Googled 'disney crowd prediction' and found a crowd calendar that told you how busy you should expect the park to be on a given date, and which parks to do (and which to avoid) on that date. The lowest crowds predicted were for a Friday of the timeframe that we were looking at, so that's what we picked (and Brian took an extra day off of work so we could do that, instead of going on Saturday). And obviously we only went for one day, so I can't compare other days which had higher predicted crowd levels, but it was, in fact, really not crowded on the day that we went. We hardly had to wait in line at all. We walked right onto some of the rides. This was great with a 3 year old who might not always be the most patient waiter.

5. Use a travel agent.

I never knew how travel agents worked. But I happen to know someone (from TriangleMommies and Twitter!) who is a travel agent specializing in Disney vacations. She got us more discounts than we knew about and helped us formulate a plan for our day at Magic Kingdom. Even though we did not stick to the plan faithfully (see point 3 - had to go to the baby care center constantly!), it was really helpful in making decisions about what was and wasn't worth doing with a 3 year old.

(worth doing)

(not worth doing - Snow White's Scary Adventures and Pirates of the Carribean... both of which our travel agent suggested might be too scary. And in fact, they were. But the lines were so short we tried them anyway...!)

6. Spend some time at your hotel.

We didn't do this as much as I'd planned. But the parks are EXHAUSTING. And the hotels have such nice pools. And other stuff to do. We had hoped to spend some time hanging out at the pool but we only got about an hour. It was fine, but I would have liked to have used the hotel a little better.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Ask a stupid question...

Q: "Why do you have cars in your shorts?"
A: "I'm pretending it's a garage."

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Baby Experiments: Part One of Surely Thousands to Come

I am a scientist, so of course I am an experimenter by nature. Since I've become an administrator, I don't get to do experiments anymore. However, having a new baby in the house has given me a new outlet for my desire to experiment. Babies are, by nature, completely and utterly baffling in their behavior which leads to the development of all kinds of hypotheses. Of course, most baby experiments take place in the wee hours of the morning - thus, the minimally-functioning brain characteristic of this time period (and let's face it, all time periods at the moment) makes proper study design and data interpretation more difficult.

Here are a few of my experiments thus far (Note: IRB approval was sought but our house does not have an IRB):

1. Is it gas?
Observation: Baby goes to sleep peacefully at 8 pm. Baby wakes up screaming as if in pain at midnight. Screaming is accompanied by sounds of gas leaving the body through various openings. Is baby possessed? Is gas cause or consequence of waking up and screaming like a banshee?
Null hypothesis: This is just a normal - albeit exhausting - feature of one month old babies.
Alternative hypothesis: Gas is the cause of waking up screaming like a banshee.
Study Design: At one-month check-up, ask doctor why normally agreeable baby turns into a screaming, farting mess in the middle of the night. Doctor indicates that time, or possibly medical intervention will alleviate this problem. Stumble, bleary-eyed, into drugstore. Purchase 'Infant Mylicon Drops'. Administer 0.2 mL 'Infant Mylicon Drops' to baby before 8pm feeding, before midnight feeding, before 2 AM feeding, before 4 AM feeding, before 6 AM feeding... (some of these data points will require nightlight technology, as well as for eyes to be open).
Outcome: As doctor probably predicted, consistent application of 'Infant Mylicon Drops' made little impact on the nocturnal screaming, farting behavior. What did make a difference was baby getting older. Accept the null hypothesis.

2. Pacifier woes
Observation: Baby likes to suck on things. Often that thing is me. Baby also enjoys sucking on a pacifier (Avent brand - they are the least ugly) (that is honestly exactly how I came to the decision to use this brand). At least I think she does - she cannot keep that sucker in her mouth for more than ten seconds. This pisses baby off to no end. I am certain that if she could keep the pacifier in her mouth, she'd be peaceful and happy all the time, and sleep beautifully all night (see experiment 1).
Null hypothesis: Newborn babies are incapable of keeping a pacifier in their mouth regardless of brand.
Alternative hypothesis: Baby does not like this particular brand of pacifier, and would prefer something uglier.
Study Design: Purchase 2 'Soothies' brand pacfiers at Target.

aside: For those of you who do not have babies, Soothies are the kind of pacifiers they usually use at hospitals. Thus, I thought these would be the perfect, never-fail pacifier. After all, that must be why hospitals use them, right? The downside to Soothies pacifiers are that they are really crazy looking. They are made of a single piece of molded rubber, so the part that goes into the baby's mouth is like a tube that you can see into. And since the rubber is sort of clear-ish, you can SEE THE BABY SUCKING ON IT. It's all very creepy.

Ahem. Back to the study.

Purchase 2 'Soothies' brand pacifiers. Attempt to get baby to suck consistently on Soothies pacifier. Attempt to get baby to suck consistently on 'Avent' pacifier. Post question on local mommy group internet forum asking for experiences of newborns with pacifiers. Hope against hope that one of the experimental conditions will be successful (that's kind of like regular lab work too, isn't it).
Outcome: Neither pacifier stayed in baby mouth for any significant time period. Accept the null hypothesis. Reject the creepy Soothies pacifiers.
Supplemental data: Now that the baby in question is 10 weeks old, the pacifier stays in at least long enough to do it's job. She still doesn't sleep beautifully all night though (see experiment 3).

3. Swaddle? No swaddle? Half-swaddle?
Observation: Babies have spent their entire lives up until birth crammed into a uterus. Babies also have a powerful startle reflex. Thus, babies feel more comfortable wrapped up, straitjacket-like, in a swaddling blanket. The popular parenting literature supports this observation. Indeed, current baby's older brother slept better when swaddled, at least for the first few months. However, current baby also really likes to suck on her hands or whatever else is available (see experiment 2). Mother is awoken each night to grunting and crying sounds of baby trying desperately to free one hand and position it such that she can suck on it.
Null hypothesis: Baby will sleep the same whether swaddled or not swaddled.
Alternative hypothesis #1: Baby sleeps better swaddled.
Alternative hypothesis #2: Baby sleeps better unswaddled.
Study Design: Baby dressed in onesie and swaddled for sleeping from birth. Swaddling blanket utilized is the SwaddleMe blanket by a company that seems to be bought out by another company every time I purchase one (again, this is very much like lab science). Baby's normal sleeping pattern is to sleep from 8 PM until midnight or 1 AM, nurse and go back to sleep, wake again at around 4 AM to nurse, wake again at around 6 AM to nurse, and sometimes go back to sleep, sometimes not.
- First phase of study began when experimenter noticed at first night feeding the great pains baby was taking to wrestle one hand into sucking position. Experimenter began to undo the arm part of the swaddling blanket and rewrap it under baby's armpits, thus freeing both baby arms for the remainder of the night. This pattern continued for several nights and sleeping durations did not change, so experimenter decided to stop swaddling baby completely.
- For phase two of study, baby was dressed in a sleeper and not swaddled.
- For phase three of study, baby was dressed in a onesie and a fleece 'sleepsack'-style sleep gown.
- For phase four of study, multiple methods were used over the course of a single evening (also known as the PANIC PHASE).
Observations: Given the success of phase one (swaddled for part of the night, arms later freed), phase two (unswaddling) was predicted to go smoothly. Indeed, sleep patterns did not change for the first two nights. Because this was a terribly planned experiment, an additional variable was introduced during Phase two - baby received two-month vaccinations. These two-month vaccinations can have varied effects on babies. Older Brother completely lost his shit in the days following the two-month vaccinations. Current baby appeared to have little to no reaction to vaccinations, other than to sleep all. day. long. on the actual day the vaccinations were received. Because the effects can be so variable, the impact of this stimulus on the current study is not immediately known. Anyway. Sleep patterns started to break down in phase two (unswaddled). First sleep period became shorter, which resulted in more total evening feedings (since remaining feedings continued to occur at 2-3 hour intervals following initial feeding). This also resulted in a significant decrease in the mental capacity of the experimenter. Thus phase three (sleepsack) began, on somewhat of a whim. The idea behind phase three was that it would replicate the half-swaddled condition - legs somewhat contained, arms freely roaming. Phase three lasted only two nights before experimenter began to lose her ever-loving mind. Experimenter reverted to phase one of the study. As existing swaddling blankets were becoming too small, a larger fleece swaddling blanket, used previously for Older Brother, was unearthed. Yes, it is ridiculously hot here in Florida in May, and yes, our A/C may be a little bit wonky. However, experimenter was a little bit desperate. In the repeat of phase one, baby slept until 2:30 am - longer than any sleep period previously. Buoyed by this success, experimenter purchased a second, lighter-weight swaddling blanket in the larger size. Unexpectedly, night one in the new swaddling blanket was a disaster. The new blanket appeared to be even easier for baby to escape. Experimenter feared she had not followed the wrapping protocol exactly, and repeated the experiment the next evening. However, this too resulted in chaos. At approximately 1 AM, phase four began. At each successive wake-up the conditions were changed. The experiment was aborted at 6:30 AM when the experimenter was found brain-dead and quivering in her bed.
Results: Who the hell knows. This experiment is ongoing (back in phase two).

Friday, May 28, 2010

Me: 2, Insects: 0

Insects vacuumed up today:
1. The evil spider from the other day
2. big old millipede

Brian is still falling down on the job.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


In order to keep a two-working parent household running smoothly, each parent has certain responsibilities that they must fulfill. For example:

- I cook dinner and Brian cleans up afterwards.

- I buy nice, matching outfits for the children and Brian dresses the children (specifically, the Buggle at this point. I'm sure he'll get there with Alison too if we give him time) in a random shirt paired with a random pair of shorts, such that the children look like they are homeless.

Another responsibility of Brian's is home insect management. This responsibility has become even more important now that Brian has relocated the family to North Florida, where both the quantity and size of insects has increased exponentially. It's tough though because I am the one at home all day with the bugs. Even when I am not on maternity leave (which I am for two and a half more weeks), I work from home. So on weekdays I have to fend for myself. If you are a long time reader of this blog (which I can't imagine you are, given that I have only updated it one time since 2008), you'll remember that I am terrified of bugs.

Last week I discovered a big, scary, flying insect of some sort with a six-inch long stinger (possibly an exaggeration) in our family room. Since it was before noon, I was going to be trapped in the house with this sucker for way more hours than I cared to think about. Fortunately, I'm very smart and clever. I got out the Dyson with it's extra long telescoping attachment thingie and sucked that little bugger right up. Unfortunately the Dyson has a clear dirt canister, so I could see the insect flying around in there. Or, trying to fly around there anyway. There wasn't much room. We do have four cats and a dog after all. I couldn't have the bug escaping back into the house. Can you imagine? I'd have to spend the entire day continually sucking him back up. So obviously I pushed the (running) vacuum over to the door into the garage, opened the door and put the (still running) vacuum into the garage, pulled the plug and threw the cord into the garage and slammed the door and left the whole mess for Brian to deal with when he got home.

Yesterday I spotted a big, horrifying spider crawling around the downstairs foyer. I actually thought for two seconds about Brian, who hates to kill bugs, especially spiders. He tells me that when he was younger, he actually kept a bunch of spiders in his bedroom. Loose. Just living on their webs wherever they chose to make them. Yeah, I don't know how I ended up marrying him either. So instead of sucking the spider up with the vacuum and leaving the vacuum in the garage all day, I let the spider walk around and I just kept an eye on him all. day. Somewhat terrifyingly, he eventually moved upstairs, which is closer to our bedroom, which is WHERE I SLEEP AND AM DEFENSELESS AGAINST INSECTS. But still, I kept it together. Except then it was time to make dinner, and Alison was crying, and Brian and Owen got home, and chaos ensued until it was bedtime for children. And then I forgot, until it was time to go to bed and I spotted the spider in the hallway. I informed Brian of his responsibility, but since it was 10 pm and he was tired he said "I'm not taking that spider outside right now. Just leave it."

Now I can't find it.

So if I die in my sleep because it bit me, and I leave Brian a single parent of two small children, it will all be because he didn't fulfill his responsibility. FYI.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Holy absence from the blog, Batman!

I know, I have been absent from the blog. See, I started this new job, then Brian was looking for a new job (didn't know that? oh yes, he was!) and then Brian went on many interviews, and then I got addicted to Animal Crossing, and then Brian stressed out about taking a new job, and then Brian accepted a new job, and then we have been getting our house ready to sell. Because we are moving! To Florida! Where Brian will be an actual tenure-track assistant professor and not a "we really just use you until there's nothing left" research-track assistant professor. And he'll be at Florida State, where they actually care about nurturing their young scientists, and not at Duke where they eat them alive. And that means that I have to leave my fabulous new job and find something else.

So anyway, thats what we're doing!

We aren't moving until August. Thank god too, since its going to take us until three Augusts from now to sell our house. And also, really excited about keeping the house showing-ready with four cats, a dog and a two year old.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

More recent pics

A few more recent pics from the Museum of Life and Science

(this following one is from our house... ick)





Very similar to another pic