Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Aud Lang Sang

A year ago I was miserable and puking, I having stayed up 'till midnight even though I knew it was a very bad idea for me to not go to bed when I was tired. This year, I have a beautiful baby girl, who laughs and smiles when I give her zerberts on her belly, who loves the color red and the gentle tinkling of bells; and who hums as she suckles at my breast. Unfortunately, she's welcoming the new year with frustrated crying because I'm not laying next to her, providing her comfort simply with my presence. Sigh.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

It's been a busy, busy day down here in Alabama. It's Sylvia's first Christmas, which was probably more exciting for us adults than for her. Nevertheless, it's been a beautiful holiday. Yesterday evening we went to a Methodist Christmas eve candle light service, which I really enjoyed since most of it was music. There was even a moment Derrick found entertaining. During the minister's homily he asked rhetorically, "have you ever asked God for a sign?" Some child four or five rows ahead of us responded, "no," just loud enough for about the back quarter of the room to hear. Ah, children. I think moments like that must be the real reason we have them.

Sylvia was impressively well-behaved, and exceptionally cute, and Derrick's Mom enjoyed every moment with her. As much as I love holding Sylvia, as proud as I am of her, I think Derrick is about 10 times as excited about Sylvia as I am. It's so wonderful to be able to share this time with her.

This morning Sylvia woke me up at about 6:30 with her kicking, and then fell back asleep. I did not. After trying to not wake up Derrick with my fidgeting for about an hour I got up and showered and got ready for the day, then went downstairs for breakfast. Finally, after breakfast and clean-up, and about every other activity I could think of to occupy myself, I gave in and woke up Sylvia for Christmas morning. I put on her "Baby's first Christmas" hat and tied the jingle bells I'd strung on leather laces around her wrists. Every time she swung her arms (which was frequent--her newest favorite action is swinging her arm around in a big circle, hitting herself in the face as often as not) she jingled and jangled. When we walked into the living room, she stole the show.

Santa was good to us this year, but not so good that we won't be able to get everything back to West Lafayette. I kind of expected it to be a bit sad--Derrick's Grandma passed away the Wednesday of AGU--but really I think it was about the most relaxed, fun Christmas we've had. Most especially because all of us spent at least half our time focused on Sylvia. Even though all she does at this point is coo and squawk, she brings a whole new dynamic to the family that really brightens the holiday season.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Nothin' to do

After the last couple of (rather frantic) weeks, today I have nothing pressing to do. I kind of like it. Really, I'd hate having days like this all the time, but it feels so good to have a day off after a week or two or three of hard work. It's like mental dessert after a long hike through the mountains.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Yesterday evening, after a very long couple of weeks preparing for AGU, Derrick and I went to Target and bought a few thingss, including near-instant dinner (pizza and these lovely fruit-filled pastries we warmed in the oven and served with ice cream). As we were standing in the produce section, this woman came up to us and said something along the lines of, "Hello, we've selected you to receive this gift card." At first I was mildly annoyed, thinking we were at the receiving end of some promotion, but when I looked up at the woman holding the card, I realized she wasn't a Target employee, and the people standing around her were members of her family. She wished us a happy holiday season, we expressed our mumbled, confused thanks, and the six of them continued on their way, and we on ours.

That made my day. I've been so wrapped up in preparing for my conference it hardly feels like the holiday season. My in-laws asked how Derrick and I were dressed, teasing us we probably looked so ragged the family assumed we were needy. I suspect they chose us because of Sylvia. In any case, I'm grateful for their kindness, and for whatever spirit possessed them to perform this small kindness for us. While physically and financially we're in good shape, emotionally I was in need, especially right now, and especially because I didn't even recognize the lack until something was given to fill it. We're not even going to keep the card--we have a much better and much more important use for it--passing it along to, we hope, bless the life of someone else!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


This morning Derrick announced, after working at his computer for about an hour, that his pants were on backward. I'm blaming Sylvia for this one. Really, more than that I blame her doctor. Yesterday was Sylvia's four month appointment, and so she also had her four month immunizations. Unlike the last set of immunizations, which seemed to only make Sylvia a bit more sleepy, this set gave her a fever and made her quite irritable. All. Night. Long. Needless to say, I didn't sleep much, and neither did Derrick. She's also produced more poopy diapers in the last day than I think I've seen in previous week.

But anyway, Sylvia is 14 lb 10 oz and 24 1/4 inches tall. So now we can quite accurately say she's standing 2 feet tall!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Conversation with Mimi

My grandma was 13 when Pearl Harbor was bombed, Sunday, the 7th of December, 1941. She was in eighth grade and she told me that the day after the bombing, she and all of the other students in her school gathered together into the one classroom with a radio and listened as President Roosevelt gave his famous, "This day shall live in infamy forever" speech.

History is made all the time, but there is some history that is so immediately significant it is obvious those events will be discussed, dissected, and debated for generations to come. My grandma has lived through quite a few events of that type. Born at the very beginning of the Great Depression, she saw Pearl Harbor, VJ-day (which was evidently much more exciting then the beginning of WWII), the assassination of JFK, the near-impeachment of a President, 9/11, and another stock market crash. Through it all she raised 7 kids, grew countless tomatoes and peppers, baked enough bread to fill a stadium, sewn clothes for hordes of children and nurses, and lived life to its fullest. There are so many histories, some few big enough to impact the whole world. but most small and in their appearance significant only to those who are close. And yet I think those small, local, intimate histories created by calloused, too often forgotten hands are those that make the world around us what it is.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Happiness is

Did you know a happy friend is worth $20,000? Here's to hoping I enrich the lives of those around me by that amount.