Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Strong Sylvia

In addition to becoming more interactive, Sylvia's also getting stronger. She's actually holding herself up away from Derrick's shoulder here, and doing a pretty good job holding her head up. Of course, she can only maintain this for a couple of minutes. Nevertheless, it's amazing how much stronger she is. It seems like it was just yesterday she was a floppy newborn with almost no control over most of her body. I understand why so many people commented on her fragility--she really was!

Monday, September 29, 2008


Yi-Chou lent me the first two books in Stephanie Meyer's Vampire series. I quite enjoyed the first book, and I could really relate to Bella, the protagonist. I've experienced similar feelings of inadequacy before, and I'm also quite the klutz. She's really whiny in the second book. I should be more forgiving of that--I've been there as well, having had my heart crushed by a man I was sure was "the one," feeling like my life was devoid of happiness and color and meaning because he was no longer a part of it. I'm quite sure I alienated most of my friends during that time as well. But really, she's just so pitiful, even though I can relate to the feeling, I just want to slap her and say, "get over it already!" I'm guessing I have a lot of friends and family members who probably wanted to do much the same to me. Thanks, to all of you who were friends to me during those couple of years, for not abandoning me to the awful pit of despair I cast myself into.

Here's to relationships that aren't co-dependent.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Butterfly quilt

My cousin, Elisa, made this beautiful quilt for Sylvia:

I think it's beautiful (only because it is--thank you Elisa!). She even rushed to finish it while Derrick and I were in Salt Lake so she could give it to us in person.

I've claimed a few times that Sylvia's started smiling. Well, here's the proof:

Funny story, in part about the quilt (and another part of why the quilt was finished so quickly): on the Wednesday we were in Salt Lake I went down to hang out with Elisa after I submitted my abstract for AGU. I got there maybe an hour before lunch, which was just long enough for Sylvia to need two diaper changes and one wardrobe change. Maggie (Elisa's middle child) was quite happy to help me choose what to put Sylvia in and generally interested in all aspects of child-care. Anyway, Elisa's agenda for the day when I showed up consisted of first, having a good lunch, and second, giving me a good trim. As soon as she pulled Sylvia's car seat out of the Explorer we were borrowing another item was added to the agenda: buying a new car seat.

When we registered for baby items we had a few thoughts about what we did and didn't want. Derrick didn't want anything from China (not that total avoidance of Chinese-made products is possible, but we tried) and we both wanted the sleekest, smallest, and least stuff possible. We're in a one bedroom apartment with not that much closet space, so we're not really in a position to store a bunch of stuff we aren't using. With that in mind, we registered for, and later received, a convertible car seat supposedly appropriate for babies from 5 lb to 35 lb or something. It's supposed to last for at least three years, which sounded ideal to us in our quest to avoid accumulating more than we need.

Here's the thing: Sylvia hated the car seat. She wasn't comfortable in it at all--her head was always pushed into her chest and flopping around, and it was very constricting. This is what she looked like in it about the time Derrick's parents visited:

I think she sort of looks like an astronaut.

In her time in the car seat, Sylvia perfected the blood-curdling, you're trying to kill me, aren't you?, scream. I kind of got used to it (as much as one can when such pitiful sounds come from one who is so loved) but it really did tear my heart out every time I had to put her in the car seat, knowing how much she hated it. In fact, I started avoiding going out, and avoided taking her, because I knew I'd have to put her in the car seat. we joked it was the mother's curse in action--when I was nine months old my parents drove from Salt Lake to San Diego with me and I screamed or slept the whole way except while they were driving through Las Vegas and I was distracted by lights. I also hated car seats. We learned a few tricks--if I fed her just before leaving she'd not cry, or not cry as much, about half the time. The other half of the time it made no difference and she just wailed. When Derrick's parents were in town this made things rough because we were going out and doing so much running around feeding her before every trip wasn't feasible, and, as much as the crying bothered me, it really, really bothered Derrick's mom. There were a couple of times where I thought she might just take Sylvia out of the car seat to sooth her because it made her feel so bad.

That weekend we had a discussion about possibly trying a different car seat, which to Derrick's mind I think meant going to Target and putting Sylvia in some different models and trading, if one was actually better. I'm pretty sure, knowing my husband, none of them would have been, but that's beside the point. The point I'm trying to make is, we had a car seat that only sort of worked and left my nerves frazzled and Sylvia unhappy and I was kind of sort of under the impression that Derrick was willing to try another car seat. So, with some minor arm-twisting from Elisa and more blood-curdling screaming from Sylvia, Elisa and I bought a new bucket-type car seat.

Derrick was not, in actuality, okay with the new purchase. Sylvia still cried in the bucket seat (though I maintained she did it less) and he would rather have not spent the $50 (Elisa kindly donated the remaining $50, though if she has another child she gets the seat back). I'm sure this is more a testament to how good our marriage is, but this was probably one of the worst arguments we've had in our four years of marriage. He was annoyed with me the rest of the week, to the point that by Friday I was ready to return the car seat, or at least give him the option of returning the car seat. So I asked Elisa to bring our car seat up to the chili-fest so we could possibly swap seats (she had also gracefully volunteered to store the extra seat until we needed it).

Elisa was livid. She was so mad at Derrick she called other family members to try to get them to pressure Derrick to not take back the other seat and lectured me, telling me the final decision was mine because this was my child.

The funny thing was, Derrick was about to the point where he was just going to say the decision was mine.

Eventually, after much discussion and many cell phone calls, we got things smoothed over. Elisa stopped being mad at Derrick, and Derrick stopped being mad at Elisa, both for her part in the purchasing and for being annoyed at him. But as part of her apology she rushed the finishing of the quilt so we'd have it before we went home. I'm not sure it was necessary at that point--Derrick's memory for annoyance is surprisingly short--but he definitely appreciated the quilt and the thoughtfulness. I think, of all the blankets and quilts we've received for Sylvia, it is likely his favorite, both for the quality of the workmanship and just because it's a dang cool, well-thought out and beautiful quilt.

Thanks again, Weeze.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Back to work

I'm having a very hard time going back to work. I had my 6 week check-up last Thursday, and since then have planned to go into work just about every day, but somehow it seems I spend the morning sleeping or feeding Sylvia, then the afternoon making sure she's not too fussy, and I'm never sure I've pumped enough milk for her to make it through the few hours I'll spend at work, and suddenly it's evening and I've spent the whole day at home getting nothing done. It's amazing. Sylvia is a whole new way for me to procrastinate. I'm sure it'll be better when she has more of a schedule, right?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pictures from Utah

This is how Sylvia spent most of the two plane flights to Utah (one to Las Vegas, one into Salt Lake):

She missed out on seeing the lovely scenery while she was asleep (as if she'd remember anyway) so I took pictures. This one is of Monument Valley, which, of course, reminds me of my grandpa.

My dad asked me to take some pictures of him with Christine that they may use for their announcements. I was happy to oblige. These are a few of my favorite shots. Have I mentioned how nice Christine is? Or how good it is to see my dad so happy?

A few pictures from chili fest--Tressa with Sylvia (and the last person I handed Sylvia to for about two hours); Lara with her 19-week baby bump (do we know if it's a girl or a boy bump yet?); Alan with a horned cow pelvis on his head; and Mimi holding Sylvia.

Derrick on our walk up the Loop trail.

After our exhausting hike, Sylvia napped, which Chewie took advantage of to investigate her:

Seeing my Aunt Valerie was quite a wonderful surprise. I hadn't expected to be able to introduce her to Sylvia so soon.

Pictures Derrick took of old cars in Grantsville:

Sylvia smiles

Sylvia gave me a real, big smile today--her first one! She'd just awakened and was staring into my eyes (which she's getting better and better at). She opened up her mouth into a huge grin, and then kept on smiling after she'd closed it. I was so entranced I didn't even think to take a picture until well after the smiles had faded. It's so neat to watch her grow.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Laughter and tears

Sylvia laughed! Just once, and while she was half-asleep, but it was a very cute laugh.

I realized I haven't actually written down what happened the day my grandpa died (If you don't want to read more sad stuff about my grandpa, skip this post--I won't be offended). I was looking through the missed calls on my phone and realized that on the 12th of August my grandma called three times within about five minutes at around 6:40. When I saw that I was worried something had happened to my grandpa--he had, after all, been sick quite a bit. It turned out Mimi had just missed a call and thought it might have been me calling, and was trying to return the call. I was relieved, and glad to hear from Mimi anyway. We would have talked longer, but both of us had other responsibilities to attend to (Sylvia for me, and Grandpa for her).

Later that evening Derrick and I were sitting on the futon and Sylvia let out a huge, juicy fart. Derrick said, "disgusting!" I looked at Sylvia and said, "nice one, kid," and she smiled.

The exchange was so funny we called my dad and related the story to him, and then called my grandparents and told them the story. Mimi told me Caleb and Tressa had been over to show Grandpa Caleb's new gun, which had cheered him up a bit. About then Sylvia started crying, which my Grandpa could hear, because he started laughing in the background. That was the first thing I'd heard from him in a while because he'd been unable to (or at least too uncomfortable to) talk on the phone, and it's the last thing I heard from him in this life. The next morning we got the message that my grandpa had passed away.

During the chili fest I nursed Sylvia in my grandparent's room, which was both comforting and very sad. There's still so very much of my grandpa in the room, and being in there made me feel close to him again; and yet he's gone and I yearned for more time with his physical presence. Mimi gave me a trilobite and a couple of arrowheads of his, which I'm really grateful to have. In a lot of ways I've come to terms with his death. I'm not angry anymore, just sad. Writing that essay the day I found out he'd died was very cathartic for me, and hearing all the good memories other people have of my grandpa has helped a lot. My family--my grandma, my dad, even my mom--have all told me over and over how beautiful that tribute was. In fact, they decided to use it as the obituary instead of a more traditional list of facts and statistics for his life and loved ones.

The bad thing is, every time someone brings it up, I can't talk. I want to say thank you, but more than that I want to hear what other people feel, and hear everyone else's remembrances of my grandpa. I want them to to tell me what they remember, and I should ask, but I usually end up just not talking because I know if I do I'll cry.

Alan told me Sarah said she thought after reading the line about the dent "left by a tow-headed child" that she and I were probably closest to Grandpa because she, too, had curled up with him on many occasions. The funny thing is, the more of my cousins I talk to, the more I hear a similar sentiment. I always felt like I was special with my grandpa, in part because of those times. When I wrote that line I thought about making it more specific to me--mentioning the Geology I've gone on to do--but it didn't sound right. Now, having talked to my cousins I realize the power of that line comes because all of us were tow-headed children cuddling with our grandpa, and all of us will cherish the memory of those times, and of the love we felt.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Nose clips

This morning Derrick was vacuuming the accumulated cat litter and dust from the carpet after our week-and-half absence and he asked me a question. "Do you know where the nose clip things for under the bed went?"

"What?" I asked. Meaning, what are you talking about? What are nose clips for under the bed anyway? I didn't know beds needed nose clips.

"The nose clips thing for under the bed?"

Derrick and I do this fairly regularly--he asks me something while the car windows are down, or when the water or the vacuum, or some other white-noise producing implement is on and some amusing misinterpretation of what he's asked. Usually my interpretation at least rhymes.

"Ask me again when the vacuum is off," I instructed. So, he finished and asked again.

"Do you know where the no slip things for under the bed went?"

"No slip? I thought you said nose clips."

We both laughed. It's hard not to laugh about nose clips for the bed, even in the most serious of discussions.

Anyway, we're back from Utah. It was a good trip--Sylvia met a lot of family, and Derrick got a lot of work done. We spent weekends with my mom, and stayed at my dad's house Monday through Thursday. Derrick went to the U basically every day, while I spent Tuesday at my Mimi's house and Wednesday with Elisa. Elisa gave me another haircut (which Derrick says is much more of a mommy cut and doesn't like) and badgered me (as much as that was necessary--which is to say it really wasn't) into buying a new infant car seat, which Sylvia likes much better than the convertible seat we originally bought. In fact, she'll even sleep in the seat when we're not driving, which was awesome when she got congested again.

Derrick gave FOLK (Friends of Lord Kelvin--his group's weekly lab meeting) on Thursday, which I spent most of feeding Sylvia. That night we had a very nice dinner at Dave and Inga's house, which I also spent mostly feeding Sylvia. Friday we did a bunch of running around--going to MacBeath's for holly wood and ash for Derrick to turn; turning in a travel grant for Derrick for AGU; trying (unsuccessfully) to pick up brine shrimp and water samples for me--and then went out to Grantsville for a tasty dinner of stuffed pork chops, corn, and fried potatoes (Wayne, my mom's husband, is an excellent cook!). Saturday Derrick made chili for my Uncle Alan's chili festival, and then we hung out with my Aunt Valerie, who I didn't expect to see because I thought she still lived in Toquerville (turns out she recently got a job further north and is living near Bluffdale). We spent the evening at my Grandma's house hanging out with family during the chili fest. I didn't take nearly enough pictures, I realize now, but I did get a few--one of Mimi that I really like, and a few of Lara showing her 19-week baby bump.

Sunday Derrick and I took Sylvia on a short hike up the Loop trail to Deseret Peak. We didn't go the whole way because (according to Derrick) the trail has a roughly exponential profile, so we only did the easy part at the beginning. Sylvia seemed to enjoy the hike--or, at least, she enjoyed the napping during the hike--and I was glad to spend some time outside. It would be a shame to go all the way to Utah and not spend at least a little bit of time in the mountains. That evening we had a family dinner with my mom and Wayne, Kim, Eric, Damien, and Orion, and David. Wayne cooked again--cube steaks with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, and more corn--though this time Derrick and I were responsible for desert. I made a date cake with a caramel topping that was supposed to be broiled before serving. As it turns out, the broiler on Wayne and my mom's oven doesn't work well, so I ended up leaving the caramel sauce off the cake until time to serve it. It's funny how similar in color caramel sauce is to gravy. Similar enough to confuse both David and Eric into thinking the caramel sauce was, in fact, gravy. Kim, Derrick, and I realized the error and managed to keep that information to ourselves long enough for Eric to take a bite. He managed to not spit it out, and just said it "wasn't what he was expecting." Damien and Orion really liked the caramel sauce on mashed potatoes--something David was quite willing to hook them up with.

Monday Derrick and I walked around Grantsville with Chewy (Wayne's Yorkshire terrier) and Derrick took pictures of old cars, then we ran out to the DWR and actually picked up the brine shrimp and water samples. We went out to the Red Iguana for lunch, where I had mole amarillo--very spicy and very tasty. We spent the rest of the afternoon running around doing other errands, then went home, finished laundry, packed, and got ready to go home. The next morning as we drove to the airport, the Great Salt Lake was almost white against the pinkness of the sunrise. Ah, I miss the beauty of Utah.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


My dad is getting married, which is wonderful. From what he's said about fiancee, she's a wonderful woman and they sound very happy with each other. She's even managed to get my dad to go back to church, which, given his past experience with this ward, is rather impressive.

Funny things about her--her name is Christine (I'm not sure how she spells it, actually) and she's my mom's cousin. I just don't know what to say.