Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Since so many states (including Utah) are considering Arizona-style immigration laws, it might behoove us all to think about the actual statistics of illegal immigration.

Speaking of immigration (of a sort), I'm sure there are a few of you who read this blog who'd potentially be interested in (or know someone else who would be interested in) participating in the Women of Faith project. It's an opportunity to participate in a scholarly examination of the all too often overlooked, but still influential, women active in the early LDS church.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Women in science

So, I'm not really sure I buy this argument that there are more men than women in science because there are more men in the tails of the IQ curve. After all, being smart doesn't mean you're going to go into science, or that you'll be successful. An awful lot of other skills and aptitudes go into determining whether someone will be successful at any given career, including interpersonal skills, drive and ambition, dedication, and self-denial (just to name a few).

My suspicion is that the structure of a scientific career weeds out a lot of women who would otherwise make great scientists. There aren't enough spots at the table for all of us--women and men--and I suspect a lot of us women are simply more likely to take ourselves out of the running (many because of work/life balance issues) than men are.

I wonder what those female science-trained but no longer scientists end up doing once they leave. Do they come back? Or is a leave of absence pretty much an exit?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Things that make me glad to be in Utah

Today we went to my mom's church for her worship services. They're different than what I'm used to in an LDS ward--much more interactive. More singing, too, which I enjoyed, especially since I was standing next to my very talented mother. I don't get too many opportunities to hear her sing, let alone sing with her, and it was nice--something I definitely miss.

Thursday I went to my grandma's house, where my cousin Anna graciously watched Sylvia for much of the afternoon. I should have worked on school stuff; instead I finished a nursing cover (though mine's lined) I promised my cousin, oh, six months ago, and hadn't found the time to finish. I was so energized by finishing that one (and reluctant to waste the left-over materials) I made another for another cousin who is expecting in August. For the second, though, I put my two pieces of fabric with the right-sides together, pinned the straps in, and sewed the whole thing like a receiving blanket. I sewed the boning in with the top stitching. I found that an easier method.

Friday I visited my cousin who recently had a baby, and delivered the nursing cover. I, of course, took pictures, some of which I've included below.

My other cousin modeling the Maya wrap:

Tuesday Melissa, Sylvia and I went hiking. We didn't actually get much hiking done--I didn't want to walk up anything too steep, and Sylvia was distracted by a stream on the less steep path.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I am bad with animals

So, Saturday, when Sylvia and I drove up to my Mom's house, my cat jumped out of the car pretty much as soon as I opened the door. She'd spent a lot of time in the car, so I couldn't really blame her, and since she pretty much milled around the yard I figured she just wanted some space and that she'd be fine outside overnight.

Yeah, right. She was gone in the morning.

Today started out alright. I got some stuff done that I wanted to do work-wise, then played with Sylvia while my sister went to a job interview. When she got back we got ready to go into Tooele. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way my car developed a flat tire. So, I turned around and parked my car, decided Sylvia was too tired to go anywhere except to bed, and we all hung out until Lissa went to a doctor's appointment and Sylvia took her nap.

When Lissa got back, she realized my Mom's dog was gone.

The last time I'd been outside was something like 1 or 1:30, and Lissa got home just after 3, so the dog had plenty of time to wander far and wide through the neighborhood. Lissa held her temper off pretty well (though I could tell she was very annoyed at me) and we both wandered through the neighborhood for the next two hours looking for him. So, my afternoon consisted of hauling my small (but not THAT small) child through the streets of Grantsville, yelling "Chewie!" as often as dignity would permit, being frightened that every pile of horse poop in the street was my Mom's dog, already turned into a smear on the highway. Such fun.

I went to the neighbors' house (who are kind of my step siblings. Sort of, anyway) to ask if they'd be willing to walk the neighborhood with us when Chewie (the dog) walked up right behind me. He was hot and obviously tired, and more contrite than I think I've ever seen him before, but he was home.

After a thrilling trip to Tooele (during which Sylvia acquired many new toys, including bubbles and a big, red bouncy ball), Lissa, Sylvia and I went to the neighbors to roast marshmallows and make s'mores. Can I just say I love playing with fire? I haven't had a chance to play fire bug in a while and it's good to know fire building is a skill I haven't lost. We kept up Sylvia way too late, ate too many marshmallows, and just generally weren't terribly responsible. But hey, after a stressful day, it was a great way to blow off some steam. When we got back home, Mattie (my cat) was lounging on the porch! It is such a relief to have her back.

Like tearing away a part of me

I was referred to this article on the Earth Sciences Women's Network (ESWN). For a scientist in training (and perhaps others) it's a good read, though depressing as it brings home the point that there are so many more PhD's than academic posts out there. For science in general, that may be a good thing--increased competition means people work harder, and those who aren't really cut out for science are weeded out.

Unfortunately, there are still many more qualified, talented scientists than there are positions for them. More and more I'm feeling like I'm going to be one of the many women (people, really) who drift away from science after spending a significant chunk of their lives on it. I don't know if that's a reflection of my inadequacy, or my lack of dedication, or just an issue of my (generally retiring, low-key) constitution. I wonder if I were just more forceful and pushy (and spent less time blogging and mothering and more time working) if I could continue in science. I do know this slow separation, as I gradually transition from grad student to full-time mother, is painful.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Yesterday was the longest day of the year, which is probably part of why Sylvia had such a hard time going to sleep (that and we're in a different place--my Mom's house--and she doesn't have a crib to confine her).

This weekend's been pretty fun. We went to the Whitaker family reunion with my dad and his wife and met a bunch of cousins there. My Dad and his wife milked cows on Friday morning, which Sylvia also seemed to enjoy. She spoke very seriously about cows that morning, and being nice to them. Later that night, before the weenie roast, we took a ride on Lynn's horse-drawn wagon. Sylvia was very curious about the horses but since they're pretty young and skittish around people we kept her away from them.

Saturday morning, after gorging herself on three pancakes and a bunch of scrambled eggs, Sylvia had a blast playing games and blowing bubbles. I think her favorite activity was playing with the parachute--an activity that was complicated by high winds. She napped just before lunch (which was okay--I'm not sure she would have enjoyed the pancake peanut butter sandwiches the kids were given) and we stuck around for the fund raiser auction/raffle.

Yesterday we went to church. It's been a while since we've gone. I haven't figured out where our new ward is, or even which stake we're in, and we've been so busy anyway. Sylvia was pretty calm through sacrament meeting, but wouldn't let me leave the nursery after I dropped her off. Really, it was more the nursery workers were unable/unwilling to deal with her crying. Probably missing this week's Sunday school lesson was alright, though, since I think (from the few minutes I attended) the lesson was the one about Deborah. I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut in that one since it basically relegates Deborah, a Prophetess and the speaker for the Lord, to a minor role as the "friend" rather than allow her the position of leadership the scriptures suggest she filled. Just a little irritating to my feminist sensibilities. And, apparently, not just mine.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I have a kitchen

As I've probably mentioned before, the kitchen here is quite a bit smaller than the one we had in West Lafayette. The two of us, being somewhat pack-rat-ish and liking to cook have accumulated quite a bit of stuff, much of which has been piled in boxes for the last weeks. But no more! Derrick finished a pantry for the kitchen and now it's functional!

We have a table with more clean space than the six inches we need to eat, we have counters we can actually use for preparing food, and, as an added bonus, Derrick swept up the layers of sawdust and dirt from the construction AND mopped! It may never be this clean again, but today, it is beautiful.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hmm, are we in So Cal yet?

I think we just had an earthquake. Not very big--maybe 4.5 or 5--we'll have to see where the epicenter was. I'm thinking it wasn't terribly close since there was probably 5 seconds between the S and P waves.

According to Derrick (and the USGS) it was actually a 5.9 near Ocotillo, CA (so, about 90 miles east and a bit above the US/Mexico border. We're actually approximately 120 miles from the epicenter since it wasn't in Ocotillo).

Good geologists that we are, we woke up Sylvia to share this experience with us. Silly parents. She's now telling us "no" to everything we ask. Especially, "do you want to go back to bed now?" This is going to be a fun night.

Oh, now it looks like it's a magnitude 5.7 quake. Wonder if this'll be downgraded to a 5 by tomorrow morning.

Tough kid

I took Sylvia to the local park today for the first time. She had fun playing on the equipment and throwing sand. Not unexpectedly she was drawn to the swings, so I put her on one (a big-kid swing--not the more confining ones for smaller kids). For a while she did really well, but eventually she slid off--something I was too slow to catch. She slid off the swing entirely at the apex of one swing and dragged her feet through the sand all the way through the arc, then face-planted right in front of me (I was standing in front pushing). The other parents sucked in deep breaths, and then Sylvia stood up, got a hug, and went right back to the swing.

I'm glad she's as tough as she is. It means that when she cries it's pretty much because it does, indeed, hurt.

In other news, Sylvia's pretty much given up on learning her ABC's. Instead, she's learning alpha, gamma, and (her favorite) delta. Apparently she agrees with her dad that Greek letters are cooler than Roman ones.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


We're here in San Diego, mostly unscathed by the move. Because this blog is basically my journal and because it's been so long since I've blogged (and how I have missed blogging! Amazing how this hobby is such an important outlet for me of late) this post will likely take the form of a travelogue. So, if that's going to bore you, quit reading now.

We got the moving truck (a brand new, white Penske truck) on Tuesday, the 25th, and had friends over that night to help pack. I went to work on Wednesday and finished up as much as I could (which wasn't everything, but it was everything essential) and then continued to pack late into the night. We still weren't done by 2 am, but both of us were tired and grouchy, so we went to sleep for a few hours and then got up and finished things. I called a couple of friends (the same friends who were so wonderful to help us pack on Tuesday) and they helped clean and then carted off all the random junk (random junk--oh how I miss you!) we couldn't fit on the truck and couldn't give away. We were on the road by 10:30 and started driving down to Birmingham.

We'd planned on leaving Birmingham on Friday, but we needed to rearrange a few things on the truck (the uber-efficiently packed forward left section was a tad heavy and needed some counter balancing to reduce the truck oscillating on its hinges every time it hit air turbulence or a bump). I don't think Derrick's mom minded, since that gave her more time with "Princess Sylvia."

At some point early on Friday I realized the small patch of poison ivy I had on my arm from an aborted attempt at gardening a week before was spreading. I didn't even think about cleaning the shovel I'd used and apparently during the move I touched it again and then contaminated my hands, arms, neck, and face with the poison ivy toxin. So, I spent Friday trying to manage the itching, basically using some hydrocortisone and scratching between the spots to satisfy the incessant itching. Saturday the itching was worse and a blistery rash started to radiate away from the original spots. By the time we hit Jackson, Mississippi, where we stopped for lunch at a Dairy Queen, I decided I'd probably reacted to one of the three hydrocortisone ointments I'd tried and needed something else. So, I got Caladryl and used that to cool and anesthetize my arms, hands, and face. I looked so awful. The rash on my face eventually spread over half of it so it just looked like I had a bad sunburn on half of my face, but my arms and hands looked like I had some disease that was turning me into something vaguely reptilian.

Itching is great for keeping one awake while driving, though.

We made it here by Monday evening and unpacked the essential things, like a mattress for Sylvia to sleep on and clothing and the like. This unpacking job was slow enough that we could unpack some things as we went along and never had nearly the entire surface of the floor covered in boxes like we did when Derrick moved to West Lafayette and I was left, five months pregnant and shell-shocked as he and his parents drove away. This was much better.

I can't say spending my birthday unpacking was fun--it doesn't feel much like a birthday when you spend all day working--but it wasn't a terrible day. My poison ivy started to heal, having pretty much crested on the drive, and we went out for dinner that night at a very nice restaurant in Little Italy. I had pork ossobuco with four cheese risotto, which I'd probably put on my list of the 10 best meals I've ever had. The waiters sang happy birthday to me and we had tiramisu for dessert (which Sylvia tried and almost caused her to vomit). I do want to say thank you to everyone who remembered my birthday, and wish a happy birthday to my friends who share my birthday. Wish we'd shared a birthday meal, or at least a cake together. Maybe someday.

We took Derrick's dad to the airport the next morning and then went back to unpacking. At this point we've unpacked pretty much everything we can without purchasing some storage, like some bookshelves and a solution for a kitchen pantry. I'd been telling everyone this place is basically what we had in Indiana for the great deal of twice the price. Actually, it's a bit smaller. Everything's just enough smaller our stuff doesn't quite fit, and just to make it that much better, everything is hinged opposite of the way things were in Indiana.

It didn't come with a washer and dryer, though it does have hook-ups. The space for a washer/dryer would work for stackables or for a laundry center--as long as they're 68 inches or shorter. Unfortunately, there's basically nothing that's that short and gas. So, we purchased a very nice front-loading washer and a drying rack and will probably install a clothesline. We're being forced into a greener, lower carbon lifestyle. We'll have to see how we like it.

Sylvia's settling in pretty well, though her energy level seems to be going up exponentially since we unstrapped her from her car seat. She was definitely happy to be done traveling. She's also recently enamored of cleaning, especially with the vacuum (pronounced "elmo"). We've been taking as much advantage of that as we can. Amazingly, my cat did pretty well on the drive--probably because we set up the trunk as a cat cave, and she just hung out there all day. I think she would have stayed in the car all night had we let her.

And that's the update. No pictures--I'll get some up soon, or at least once the house is presentable.