Friday, December 28, 2012


Today I got an email from ResearchGate (a sort of facebook for scientists) that started,

"Kristine, what happened to all the research you didn't publish in 2012?"


Yeah, I know, I didn't publish anything. Thanks for the reminder ResearchGate. Now how do I unsubscribe?

Reading further, the email is actually offering to let you upload unpublished datasets and manuscripts so you get feedback and "credit" for things that aren't peer reviewed. It's kind of a nice thought. There are plenty of datasets that I will never publish because they're incomplete or don't tell a good story, or just don't fit in with the stories I do want to tell. 

But oh, man, it stings when an automated email comments on your lack of productivity.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Stress relief

You know, I've been stressed lately. Moving does that to me; moving to another country seems to make it exponentially more stressful.

I just got an email, though--we have a place to stay once we get to Adelaide. YEAH!!!

I think I felt my blood pressure drop 10 points.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Too bad none of those kindergarteners had conceal and carry permits.

Guns don't kill people. People with guns kill people.

I'm not going to post either of those as Facebook updates. They're too harsh, too on the nose, too crass.

Here's the deal: we (currently) live in a country with as many guns as people, most of them concentrated in the hands of a few people who really like guns. Most of those people don't want to get rid of their guns because, hey, they're responsible (and they are) and guns are fun (also true, again for some people) and they cost a lot of money. People who own guns probably feel safer, even though statistically they aren't, and that sense of security is something many people cling to.

I understand.

I also understand that if you outlaw guns when there are so many guns out there already the only people who will have guns will be the criminals. We've saturated enough of the market that changing the gun laws now will result in a disequilibrium condition for some number of years in which gun violence will rise, disproportionately affecting law-abiding citizens.

I don't like the equilibrium point we're existing in right now, though. I don't like living in a place where a certain number of public places will just get shot up every year. With this equilibrium condition we have to simply accept the 30,000 gun deaths every year. Is that really where we want to be as a society? I guess so.

My fear is that the "equilibrium" in which we currently reside isn't really an equilibrium. My fear is that we're trending toward a society in which it becomes increasingly necessary to own and carry a gun. My fear is that we're becoming a dystopia in which the second amendment right for militias to arm themselves turns all of us into de facto militia members or nameless, faceless victims of violence.

Again, glad I'm moving to Australia.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Can giant squid get us? (after watching a Wild Kratt's that featured blue whales and giant squid)

Is this (random organism from a book of ancient life) extinct?

Why is it extinct?

Why did they all die?

I don't want them to die!

Mommy, I don't want to be a carnivore anymore.


What do frogs eat?

Do they eat worms?

I don't want them to eat worms.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fixable, but broken

It's been a less than stellar day. I didn't get done the things I wanted to get done, except one thing I wanted to finish yesterday. I made one figure and then discovered I needed to make it differently. Blech. I'm already so far behind there's no way to dig myself out of the hole and today just made that worse.

The only bright spot of the day was that Derrick and I ate lunch together. Just us two. That doesn't happen often.

After I picked up Paul, we played in the house, building towers with blocks and throwing balls around. While we were in the kitchen, I threw a ball and hit the beautifully carved decorative spoon my uncle made for Derrick and I when we got married eight years ago. It's a rather ornate heart-shaped spoon with a handle carved to look like knots and to have a ball inside a cage in the middle. When it hit the floor the cage shattered. Derrick thinks he can fix it, which makes me feel a little less bad, but it just reinforced that today was one of those days when I should have stayed in bed.

But tomorrow will be better.

I hope.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


A couple of things today. Sylvia's stayed dry very well lately (Yeah!) so this evening I let her watch a couple of shows on PBSkids. Lately she's been into this silly show called "Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman." Sylvia watches it over and over and over again, which I suppose I can accept since most of the episodes are at least a little bit about science. We did have a nice discussion of density and why things float or sink after one episode, which I know is a concept that plagues students well into college, so I'm glad she's getting early exposure. Anyway, the bad guys in the show are cats in an organization called PURRS. Sylvia asked me FOUR TIMES over ice cream why PURRS wants to take over the world. It's almost tempting to introduce her to James Bond, but I worry she'd start thinking there really ARE people who want to take over the world for ill-defined, silly reasons.

Second, I'm not at AGU this year, since we're moving to Australia, we didn't have sitters lined up, and I didn't think I could get anything together for the meeting. As it turned out, not going was a wise idea since Paul got sick with a nasty gatro-intestinal bug right before Derrick left and having both of us leave would have been ridiculous.

Fortunately for me, AGU is streaming some presentations in a "virtual meeting." It's the big-name lectures and town halls that I never go to anyway, but I've caught a couple of the talks and it's nice to feel like I'm not completely out of the loop.

Monday Ira Flatow of NPR's Science Friday gave a talk. Mostly he talked about how science is sexy, I think trying to encourage us scientists to engage more with the public. He presented a lot of evidence scientists are loved by the public, including clips from shows that feature scientists in positive roles (Big Bang Theory especially), art both using and venerating science, and a couple of interviews of scientists by big-name entertainers like David Letterman. The clips were meant to both encourage us scientists and show us how successful science communication is done.

He also presented a couple of spots from public relations campaigns trying to encourage young women to consider science. Okay, the first one is a public relations campaign; the second is some young women spoofing "For the Longest Time" to present their research. Anyway, if you want to see what I'm talking about, the clips start at about 39:30 in the talk liked above. You should go watch them--it's worth the time.

Back? Okay, so what did you think?

What did you think of the audience reaction?

Did you notice Ira Flatow's reaction to the two clips? If you want to go back and watch him this time, go ahead.

Yeah. I think he was more impressed by the professional public relations campaign than the amateur quartet. Either that or he was amused watching the reactions of the scientists. Can't rule that out.

I loved the second clip of the acapella group, even with its tone issues. It's clever, it's funny, and it's educational. The slick advert, not so much. I wouldn't go so far as to embrace the idea it's reinforcing negative gender stereotypes, but it is embracing a far more traditional version of femininity. While I suspect that was the point--encouraging ALL women to think of themselves as potential scientists, not just us frumpy girls--as a frumpy girl I found it off-putting. I certainly didn't choose science because of the way people look, but the fact that the other women around me who were interested in science were similarly, ahem, beauty challenged made it a far easier place to imagine myself inhabiting. Not that I think exceptional beauty should be a barrier to entering science, but I do think reinforcing the idea that women in science are average-looking, not hot, will make more young women feel comfortable in a scientific environment than presenting scientists as sexy. Maybe it's just me, but one of the things I love about scientists is knowing it's not physical attractiveness that determines relationships but common interests and respect for the ideas and intellect of the parties involved.

In other words, I want to be loved for my brain, not my body!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Last week Paul started signing for the first time. His first sign: when he picked up a book he signed gentle. I can't rule out the possibility he thinks the sign for book is gentle (rubbing your hand down your forearm toward your other hand), but later he signed two more things: dog (patting your leg twice) and yes (nodding with a closed fist).

So glad to know the little bits of ASL I've been using are rubbing off!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New appreciation

Last weekend was thanksgiving. I'm not sure where November went, but it's just about gone, as is the year. In six short weeks we'll be heading for Australia.

Since we'll be gone soon, we decided we needed to make a trip to Alabama to see Derrick's family one last time. Last Wednesday we packed ourselves into a plane and flew off to Alabama. Getting there was pretty uneventful--the kids had fun flying and were reasonably well-behaved. We flew into Atlanta and rented a car and then drove to Derrick's uncle's house.

We spent Thanksgiving day at Robert and Jennifer's new house. They have a beautiful, spacious home that was perfect for the group--lots of space for the kids to run around in, lots of places for us adults to gather and gossip. I took tons of pictures, as much so I'll have pictures of everyone in the family (I hope) to show my kids as anything else.

Friday Derrick's mom arranged for Sylvia to have a horseback riding lesson from Jennifer. Sylvia wasn't keen on the idea at first, but eventually warmed up to it and enjoyed the experience. Paul, on the other hand, didn't. Oh well. He was much happier after a nap and quite enjoyed opening Christmas presents that evening. I think he was more excited by our surprise visit from Santa than Sylvia was.

Saturday I went shopping with Derrick's mom and grandma while Derrick, Philip, and their dad sneaked away with the kids to get pictures made of all the great-grandkids together. That evening was a family party. Giving Grandma Weaver the picture was a definite highlight of the event.

Sunday morning Philip and his family were leaving, so they packed up and started getting ready to go while the rest of us visited. All morning long there was a funny smell in the house that I'd assumed was burning dust bunnies since the heater was on. At some point the lights started flickering and I heard a popping sound from the closet in the room where Derrick and I were staying. I opened the closet to check it out and saw flames coming from the breaker box. I shut the door (probably the smartest thing I did for the rest of the morning) and rushed off, yelling semi-coherently about a fire in the closet and getting an extinguisher.

Someone called the fire department, Brenda pulled Kelly and all the kids into their SUV and drove it away from the house, the rest of us started pulling pictures off walls and moving them out of the house until the fire department arrived. I shut the door to the bedroom as well, figuring that would slow the fire and contain the smoke that was seeping out of the closet, not bothering to grab any of our stuff (including our camera, as it turned out). Jud and Linda were already on their way before we called 911, so they arrived and started pulling out other heirlooms--quilts and books of family photos--we didn't know about. The fire wasn't too bad (really only took out half a closet and part of the attic in the end) so the fire fighters didn't stop anyone from carrying out belongings. Derrick and I quit pulling things out pretty much when the first fire truck arrived (of the three that eventually came, along at least as many other emergency vehicles), and stayed out of the way. Everyone else kept grabbing stuff, including clothes and other incidentals I personally wouldn't have worried about. It's funny how people are about their stuff, though. In the moment you'll do all kinds of stupid things to protect objects that have far less value than a human life.

After the fire was out (which didn't take all that long) we all went to Donna and Jackie's house, where Kelly and Philip actually got ready to go--showers and all. We spent the rest of a thankfully low-key day there, just enjoying one another's company.

In addition to all the other things I have to be grateful for today, I have a newfound appreciation for fire alarms with batteries. The fire happened while all of us were awake, but if it had happened just a few hours earlier we all would have been asleep. I'm guessing because the fire was in the electrical system the fire alarm never actually went off. There's no telling what would have happened, but it's not unthinkable we could have slept through the popping and the bad smell and been asphyxiated by smoke in our sleep. A few hours later and we would have been somewhere else and the house might have burned down entirely.

Every day truly is precious and I am truly, truly blessed.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Out of the closet

I suck at science. I know, I've been working on science degrees or as a scientist in training for the last 16 years. Why has it taken me so damn long to figure out that I suck at what I do? I'll blame it on sheer doggedness and the fact that I could chalk it up to impostor syndrome most of the time. That and in grad school you're surrounded by friends who are struggling and it's easy to get some positive reinforcement from those friends, whether it's deserved or not.

For the last two and a half years I've pretty much been off on my own. Sure, for a while I was going in to work with Derrick, but I was hanging out with geophysicists who for the most part don't really care what I do. In those two and a half years I haven't had the crutch of friends to motivate me or reassure me and I've had to face the fact that outside the social scene of science I'm just not a scientist. I spend most of my time thinking about and doing other things. I'm not so passionate about my work that I put aside everything else to get it done; instead, I keep my house and my blog, I take photos, I cook, I read, and I write (but not science). Derrick, when he was finishing, was so passionate about his work that he shoved aside everything else in order to finish. Not to whine (but I'm gonna) but I don't think he realized how much of a burden that put on me. (I also don't think he realizes how resentful I am that everything him gets prioritized unless I make a big deal out of it. I don't want to make a big deal out of it. I want him to sacrifice something (a hobby for a little while, perhaps? Do you really need ANOTHER new tool chest?) and I don't want it to have to push for it every damn time). That burden soon became an excuse for me to not work very hard, and I haven't. Sure, sporadically I get motivated and get something done, but it's inconsistent. I get easily discouraged, easily depressed. I already know this is the end of science for me, that I'm a scientific loser, a dead end, a waste of resources and training. I'm never going to do anything with my scientific training. Really saps my motivation, thinking about that.

Which begs the question, why then am I even bothering to try to finish? I'm sitting here feeling sick to my stomach, wanting to cry and yell and vomit because I'm so frustrated that I'm not going to finish. I'm going to quit. It feels so wrong.

It is because I feel like I'm going to disappoint others? Because I'm going to. Hell, I already have. I've felt the disappointment of my advisor and committee members pretty much since I had a kid. I've had to re-prove myself as a serious student ever since then, and I've failed in every way. Everyone knows I'm faking. Everyone can see my heart lies elsewhere (or at least my time commitment). When I tell people I'm working on finishing I can see they sense the lie in the words, can see I'm just telling them what I think they want to hear. They know I'm lying to myself as I'm lying to them.

I'm not enough; I'm too lazy; I'm a loser. I will not graduate. I will not be one of those people who gets done through 45 minutes here and an hour there. I will fail.

And I will be alright. Somehow that's the worst of it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

15 month stats

Before I forget, Paul is 23.5 lb and 31 inches long, which pretty much makes him exactly average. He is, all told, a very normal, very average kid who is doing exactly what he's supposed to be doing for his developmental age.

I am a lucky mom!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Armistice day

I'm not sure if it's appropriate to wish someone a happy armistice day, but this is a good day to remember.

My bishop, who is Canadian, wore a red poppy on his lapel in remembrance. I was glad he did. WWI is one of those events in world history that changed the face of everything so much, both breaking down barriers and building up new ones, I don't think we modern people realize how different our attitudes and our lives are. I wonder if that's why people like reading Victorian and Edwardian fiction--it's a fantastic, foreign world even if we don't recognize it as such.

Today was a great day with my kids, too. I took them to church and they were both remarkably well behaved. Sylvia went with the big kids in Primary since she was the only sunbeam there (which is probably why she was well-behaved. Peer pressure can be such a wonderful thing sometimes!). She seemed to love the "grownupness" of it. Paul didn't roam so much, probably because he was tired. He fell asleep on me in Sunday school, which put me to sleep as well. Holding a sleeping baby has to be one of the greatest sedatives ever invented. He slept pretty well until he nearly rolled off my lap. I caught him, but he was awake after that. The moms sitting behind me laughed when they saw my frantic grab for my son; I'm glad I didn't have to hear their response to my kid hitting the floor.

After dinner (we went out) we went on a walk together as a family at Sylvia's request. She's a funny kid. She just loves the family togetherness of that time, loves all of us taking a walk together. When we're out on our walk she talks and talks and talks, and asks so many questions about how the world works. Who eats what (do snakes eat mice? What do kiwi birds eat?), why we do things (why did you tell that man his car light was on?), where things live (where are the bats? I bet that tree would be a good place for owls. Are there any owls/bats in Australia?). Sometime I should take a recorder to make a record of one of these conversations.

But as much as she loves family time, Sylvia loves mommy time, too. At one point she wanted us to drop off her daddy and Paul so we could go on a walk with just the two of us. She's a sweet, sweet kid.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Every vote counts

One of the (I'm guessing unintended) consequences of California's non-partisan redistricting is that San Diego suddenly became a competitive race.

Turn out the race for the 52nd district was VERY competitive. According to this, despite a 9.5% advantage in registered voters, Scott Peters, the Democrat, won by just under 700 votes. Every vote counted in that race.

Democrats did really well overall: Bob Filner beat Carl DeMaio, and Marty Block, Ben Hueso, and Susan Davis all won. The taxes passed, refuting my statement that Californians love their big government; they just hate to pay for it. Turns out they are willing to pay for public services.

And of course, none of it really matters to me since we're moving to Australia.

Enjoy the next four years, my fellow citizens!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

So glad...

...I already voted. I have a cold, and while it's not a bad one, I'm really glad I don't have to summon the energy to drag myself down to the polls today.

I might just sleep all day, or read books and veg out, since that's pretty much the best way I've ever found to stop a cold.

And now, off to read and rest.

Friday, November 2, 2012


In an attempt to introduce my kids to some classical music, I showed Sylvia and Paul this video of dinosaurs that uses Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" as its musical score. The section linked is just the "extinction" portion.

Anyway, at the end of the section there's a big storm, which Sylvia kept referring to as the "sandy storm." It took me a few times to figure out she was talking about Hurricane Sandy, the storm that hit the East coast earlier this week. I had no idea they talked about current events, or "affairs" as I think they call them, in Sylvia's class, but it's kinda cool. Especially since she now calls hurricanes "purricanes."

Another Sylvia story: the other morning Sylvia asked Derrick if she could use the scissors to cut. He was doing something else at the time, so he told her no because he couldn't watch her. Probably assuming if she came up with a suitable chaperon he'd let her do what she wanted, she told him, "Jesus is watching."

Sunday, October 28, 2012

My daddy says...

You know, the primary program has to have that one kid who keeps people awake. In my ward, you know who that kid was?

If you guessed Sylvia, you'd be right.

I should start before we even got to church. My kids hate sleeping, so they were up nice and early and we had lots of time for breakfast. Since this weekend was full of Halloween parties the breakfast discussion centered around Halloween.

Derrick, trickster that he is, told Sylvia, "I think the Holy Ghost is scary."

"Scary?" she leaned forward, eyes wide and attentive.

"Yeah, I mean, he whispers in peoples' ears and tells them what to do."

I rolled my eyes.

We bundled everyone into the car and I drove away, almost early enough to get to church on time. I sat in the back with a friend and shooed Sylvia up to the stage. She's a little clingy sometimes, and this morning didn't want to sit with her class, so she sat with me until after the sacrament. Then, she followed the procession of stragglers like us to her seat and the program began.

The first song was about listening to the Holy Ghost.

As soon as the song was over Sylvia's girlish voice filled the silent chapel, her little voice just loud enough to be heard all the way in the back where I sat, motionless. She said, "My daddy says..."

I covered my face. I knew what was coming.

"My daddy says the Holy Ghost is scary."

I buried my head in my lap, both to hide my red face and muffle my laughter. I needn't have, though--everyone was giggling around me.

That's my kid.

She did a great job. Other than that little incident, she followed the script just as she was supposed to. She was one of the more understandable kids who spoke, which is pretty good for a four-year-old.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Not baby hungry

For weeks after I had Sylvia I wanted to have another baby. Like right then. Like if I'd been able to get pregnant immediately, I would have. I was intensely jealous of any pregnant woman I saw. I'd see pregnant women at the store, or hear about friends getting pregnant and I'd feel this almost physical tweak in my heart, like I wish I were you, I wish I were looking forward to labor and giving birth and holding a brand-new infant in my arms. I'm sure it was just hormones and the incredible rush of giving birth, but I seriously wanted to have another baby. IMMEDIATELY.

The pangs of jealousy faded as the months went by, and I obviously didn't get pregnant again immediately, but the feelings never completely went away until I got pregnant with Paul. Immediately after I had Paul I was again jealous of pregnant women, but this time it was more superficial and faded very quickly. Now I can see my friends announcing pregnancies and new births and it doesn't feel like I'm being stabbed in the chest. I don't long to feel someone kicking me in the ribs anymore, or wish my sense of smell were so heightened the smell of dried thyme or bad meat sends me to the toilet.

I thought I'd want another kid. I think I kind of still do, but I'm happy with my family. I feel like we're complete at four. Maybe I'll change my mind later; maybe once our big move is over I'll get baby hungry again. I can't get pregnant for the first year we're in Australia anyway--the insurance won't cover it. So I know I'll be waiting, no matter what. I'm wondering if I'll be waiting or simply putting aside thoughts of another child completely. In some ways that's a relief; in others, incredibly sad.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Four things

1. Yesterday we went to the zoo. The first thing Sylvia wanted to see was the compost bin. We spent more time digging for worms in the compost bins than doing any other single thing, except eating.

2. Paul said "owl" a couple of times yesterday. He was just imitating the sounds, but he said the word very clearly. The kid has a good ear, and I think language is just around the corner for him. He uses some signs (when he wants to) and he has at least one 'word' (thanks) that he says consistently and in the correct context. It's not quite thanks, more like 'Tnks,' but it gets the point across.

3. Sylvia's going to be a doctor for Halloween. She was so excited about her costume we had to hide it from her to get her to do anything except play with it.

4.  Paul continues to be a helpful kid. This morning he used my hot chocolate to wipe off the table.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Sylvia has pretty bad teeth. Like, so bad one of them had a gaping hole in it that consistently traps seeds and grains of rice and crap and I have to brush for five minutes to get out (no small feat with a 4-year-old). I blame myself for the situation. Instead of cutting her off, I let her nurse until she was...well, older than she should have been. A fair amount of the nursing happened at night and so her teeth are soft and rotten.

Complicating things is the fact our dental insurance sucks for kids (they have yet to send us to a dentist that both exists and sees children under the age of 12) and the unfortunate situation that Sylvia wouldn't open her mouth for a dentist anyway. I was afraid we were going to have to pay out of pocket for a pediodontist and full anesthesia to get Sylvia's teeth fixed.

Fortunately, we found a dentist who Sylvia worked well with and our insurance would deal with, and so last week Sylvia went in for a couple of fillings. That appointment went really well (Sylvia only needed nitrous oxide to be calm) and she was excited to go back this week. So excited, in fact, that she told the dentist all about our upcoming move to Australia (she and Paul loaded up an empty blue bin--their "big boat"--and floated it to their new home this morning).

Sadly, this appointment wasn't quite as easy, since it involved putting a crown over the worst of Sylvia's teeth. Amazingly, she's still talking about going to the dentist in very positive terms. I guess she realizes most dental appointments aren't so bad after all. Either that or she really likes the toys, cartoons, and laughing gas.

Friday, October 19, 2012


We're working on training Sylvia to sleep through night without wetting the bed. For the most part it's going alright, as long as we make sure she goes once after about 8:30 and don't give her water after that.

However, it's not going well enough I'm comfortable letting her sleep on the floor, which is where she wants to sleep for some reason (that I'll guess is related to how much easier it is to play on the floor and stay awake than do the same on the bed). So last night, when she asked to sleep on the floor I told her no, because it's easier to clean up pee on her bed than pee on the floor.

This morning she got up and told Derrick she'd peed in her bed because I told her it was easier to clean up pee in her bed.


Stupid me, I assumed she would realized peeing in the toilet was the easiest to clean up of all. We had another conversation in which the ranking of the difficulty of cleaning all the places Sylvia might choose to pee was made explicit. I hope this one sticks.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bad dream

Last night I had a bad dream. Usually a bad dream (for me anyway) is about me being chased or attacked, or frightened in some way. Not this one. In this one I was angry, unreasonably angry, at Derrick because I felt like he wasn't contributing enough around the house and with childcare and whatnot. Since I was angry, since when I'm angry I throw things, I threw a dirty diaper at him. Mind you, this is all a dream. I have never thrown a dirty diaper at my husband. I have gotten unreasonably angry at him for not helping around the house enough, but I have never thrown anything at him, especially nothing so gross. Anyway, in the dream he got mad (of course) and got me back with the diaper, and then we went through a separation that was lonely and sad, and then I woke up.

I'm not one to read too much into dreams. I had a dream a while ago about Mitt Romney having affairs with beautiful women. Do I think Mitt Romney is an adulterer in my subconscious mind? No, but I do think he is easily wooed away from eternal principles by flashy, worldly desires.

This one's hitting something very true, though. I do get too mad, and I do make bad decisions with regard to the feelings of others when I get angry. Usually I can make the decision to not throw the diaper (figuratively and literally), but sometimes I have a hard time refraining, and sometimes I fail and let it fly. There's a solid enough base to all my relationships that nothing I've said or done so far has hurt those relationships permanently, but I think this dream is my anxiety over my actions and feelings coming out. The only thing I can really do is strive to do better.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Jesus told me so

Tonight Sylvia came up with a new potty song. It goes something like this:

Wherever I go I need to pee
But not in my panties
'Cause Jesus told me so

I hope she's better at following Jesus' other commandments...

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Why do people talk about the weather so much? I suppose it's something universal and, usually at least, non-confrontational. Since I don't feel like anything controversial, I guess I'll stick to weather for today.

Last week was so hot we went through all the ice we could make in a day, so hot even I was drinking ice water, so hot I slept with nothing but a sheet and still left my feet dangling off the side of the bed. Sylvia, unwilling to sleep unless swaddled in one of her numerous fleece blankets, got a heat rash so bad her school called to ask about it.

This week it's cold. Finally I see the changing of seasons here. It actually feels like fall, with the humongous garden spiders leaving webs over every corner and a definite feeling of things ending, of life going dormant overriding even the most manicured and irrigated SoCal garden. Every other year October had just felt dry; this year it feels like the world around me is casting off the last hopeful seeds and cysts before dying, or at least going to sleep. Perhaps spending those last couple of weeks of August and beginning of September in Utah primed me for finding autumn this year, or maybe I'm finally understanding the seasons in this place.

Of course, next year we'll be in Australia. I wonder how the seasons will be different. I wonder how different it will be celebrating halloween in spring, ushering in the fall in March, having a winter birthday. I wonder how long it'll take me to get used to that arrangement of seasons, how disoriented I'll be suffering the heat of summer in January and the cold of winter in July.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Since my last post was rather dull, here are pictures of my kids:

Friday, September 28, 2012


I'm smart. I'm ambitious. I want to do something with my life besides baby-making.


Who knows; who cares. Nature, nurture, some combination of the two.

And yet, at this point in my life, what am I doing?

Making babies.

Yeah, I'm doing other stuff to. I'm still working on my dissertation, I've got a church calling and a book group and photography and writing and...

Nothing even remotely like a career.

Given how busy my kids keep me, that's not a problem at the moment. Trying to have both really stressed me out and I didn't enjoy my life when I was trying to 'balance' family and a job. Being a part-time scientist and most-time mom suits me better than I would have imagined a decade ago.

I'm on a listserv for academic geoscientist women and there's a pretty consistent discussion of ways women undermine themselves, including being more passive, less confident, less ambitious, and worse at self-promotion than the men around them. The down side of those feminine characteristics isn't limited to geoscience, of course; in pretty much any field possessing traditional feminine characteristics puts you at the bottom of the heap. Maybe not so much in social situations, though even there getting ahead requires aggression, confidence, and more stereotypically male attributes.

Today, while I probably should have been washing out diapers or something I was instead contemplating the impact of natural selection on female personality. Both personalities, really, but focusing on females. I'm sure I'm far from the first person to think these thoughts, so if this is ludicrously obvious to you, go ahead and ignore me. Setting aside sexual selection (since I'm going to claim that's a different can of worms), it seems like feminine traits would have led to women staying closer to home, focusing on gathering/agriculture (as that came into prominence), and on creating social bonds with other women in their community. This conservative tendency could have benefited the children of the more timid women since with at least one parent sticking around, totally dedicated to their upbringing, they would have been more likely to survive. We do have to make this assumption, but it seems likely that timid women would focus on the sure bets that are, in the end, what get women and their children through the tough early years and into adolescence. If you really want your children to survive, you put your head down and collect as many roots and grubs as it takes to keep them fed. The children of those conscientious mothers would be more likely to survive and the trait of conscientiousness, at least for women, would be preferentially passed along.

Looking at the female society I inhabit, such timidity isn't as detrimental as it is in the larger world. Sure, ambition and gregariousness do make some women into 'queen bees,' but not being a queen bee doesn't leave one high and dry. On the other hand, being less conscientious, less reliable, and more prone to pursuing ones own interests at expense of others (which I would argue are often byproducts of stereotypical male behavior) are highly detrimental socially among women in a way I just don't think they are among men.

Which is all to get around to the thought, what if women pushed their own evolution toward the communal, timid, but conscientious people we at least stereotypically are? I can't think of a real way to test it, or a real way it would help me, but it's an interesting thought. These traits that are so detrimental to me in my modern career as the byproducts of evolution, and not just sexual selection: as the byproduct of shaping by other women and by the situation of child-rearing.

Not sure what to feel about this thought.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A discussion of marriage

This evening I let Sylvia stay up a little late. We watched BYU's Vocal Point from last year's Sing Off. During the first song Sylvia informed me she was going to marry the tall blonde guy (Keith, I think). I pointed out that he was probably already married, or at least would be by the time she was 18. That bit of information didn't phase her at all as she continued to tell me she was going to marry him. I had to explain to her that once someone marries one person they don't marry someone else. After a couple of repetitions of that explanation she decided she didn't like Keith anymore.

After watching most of Vocal Point we moved on to Pentatonix. Since she couldn't have Keith, she moved on to the tall blonde guy in that group. He's at least only 16 years her senior.


Paul likes to drink water out of the bathtub, which I don't like him to do. I'm pretty sure it's something he piked up from his older sister, though, and it's hard to stop. This morning he leaned back to get the last drops of water from the cup, then flung the cup away from him and spread his limbs wide to keep from falling. I thought it a clever move and so physically aware. Sometimes watching Paul move just makes me smile.

He stole a rag I was taking to the laundry and scrubbed my bedroom door yesterday afternoon. Such behavior isn't unusual for him--after meals he often wipes his place clean. I have to sweep and mop after he cleans, but whatever.

When he doesn't want to do something, or doesn't want to eat something he shakes his head no so hard his whole body gets into it. Other communication proceeds through grunts and gestures, but "no" he's very good at showing.

Lately he's been throwing tantrums, which is far from my favorite development. When he gets frustrated (which happens a lot around nap time and meal times) he throws his whole body backward and flails on the ground, grunting and whining all the while. Mostly I catch him, but every so often, especially if he's on softer ground, I'll let him throw his head back and let him really connect with the ground. He must have a pretty hard head because he's still doing it.

 This morning at about 4 am Paul woke me up, so I took him to the couch and  nursed him back to sleep, falling asleep myself in the process. He woke up when his sister got up and toddled off after her, gurgling happily. I couldn't be left out of the fun, of course, and he came back and slapped my face and pulled my hair to wake me, laughing and chirping all the while. It's a good thing my little boy is such a cheerful creature in the morning. He tames my sleep-less monster.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Back to school

Sylvia went back to school this week. Sunday we drove from Salt Lake to Las Vegas, where we'd intended to hang out for the afternoon with a friend of mine from grad school. Unfortunately, traveling with kids somehow always adds four hours to any trip, so our 10 am start time translated into an 8 pm arrival time for what should have been a *maybe* 7 hour trip. I can't really blame the kids though--two of our hour long stops were for me to visit and say goodbye to people I hadn't made enough time for earlier in my trip.

Monday was better. We left Las Vegas at about 9 and got into San Diego about 2:30, and we had an hour break for lunch along the way. The kids were both asleep when I got home, but neither napper made it to bed. I was quite disappointed. After two days of driving, and not nearly enough sleep in Utah I really wanted some sleep myself. Fortunately for me, Derrick was home waiting for me. Or maybe just for the car, which he hadn't seen for three weeks and, as soon as was polite, he took off with for an hour or so.

Derrick did make dinner that night, so I did get some rest after he returned. The kids were happy to see him, and pretty much left me alone when he was around.

Unfortunately, that night Sylvia puked. I'm guessing, since this happened the last time we took two days to drive somewhere, that two days worth of fast-food and gas station food just isn't good for my little girl's tummy. I'd hoped the bag of carrots we munched on between Las Vegas and San Diego would provide enough roughage to balance out some of the crappy food I foisted off on my kids. Next time I'll have to pack PB&Js or something I suppose.

Since I couldn't send Sylvia to school, we all went to the Birch Aquarium Tuesday morning. I love the aquarium, and I love it even more in September when everyone else is back in school. Sylvia made a friend--another little girl, just about her age who was there with her nanny. Sylvia is such a different kid when she's around other little girls. Most of the time I see her around the family, and when she's with us she's stubborn and has a definite mischevous streak. Around little boys she's almost as rough and tumble as they are, and her puckishness is certainly visible then, too. With other little girls she turns into this sweet, sugar and spice little princess who is hardly recognizable. It's amazing so many people inhabit the body of my little girl.

Wednesday morning Sylvia asked if she could go to school "Today, and the next day, and the next day, and the next..." I didn't keep track of how many next days she asked about, but it was certainly enough to get her well into next month. For the record, all summer long Sylvia's been excited to go to her new class and be in the big kid's class with Ms. A. Thursday she was excited to go again, and seemed to have fun when I picked her up. This morning, though, we were back to the much more stereotypical, "do I have to go?" when I started getting her ready for school.

I guess the honeymoon is over with Ms. A.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Paul has eight teeth now. I've been rather bad about recording when his teeth come in, so this post is mostly to make up for my delinquency. Paul's fifth tooth, his top left lateral incisor, came in sometime around the 17th of July. Number six, the top right lateral incisor, showed up around the 6th of August. I noticed both bottom lateral incisors (numbers 7& 8) yesterday. I've been blaming his poor sleep on us traveling (which is also why I haven't posted in a month). After seeing his teeth I'm guessing there's more to his sleep problems and constant desire to nurse than simply difficulty adjusting.

Now that the boring stuff is recorded, the kids are doing well. Today at church Paul was a hoot. He was overtired in that wound-up, "I'm going to keep going if it's the last thing I do" kind of way. Fortunately, the other people in Sunday school didn't mind too much that he ran around the room, throwing bits of food at some people, trying to share with others. He managed to get his shirt off twice, which is a first and seems way too early for a 13-month-old.

Sylvia had a fun time at church as well. We borrowed some skill-builder activities from Aunt L and Sylvia quite enjoyed those during sacrament meeting, so much that she asked if we could take them with us to Australia. I had to inform her that no, they had to stay here, but offered to make some for her that we could take with us. I don't know what they did in Primary, but when Sylvia came out she didn't have any shoes (as usual). Fortunately, the teacher was very on top of things and gave them to me before we got too far.

Although I'm getting work done--real, honest-to-goodness writing--I'm getting ready to go home. It's nice to visit family, and I love having the time and space to do my science again, but it's time to get back to our more regular routine. Everyone is just happier when we're in our regular places.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Missing you

This morning the first thing Sylvia said when she found me was that she missed me when I was gone yesterday.

It's great to feel loved.

I wonder how she's going to react to going back to school.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


The last week and a half have been pretty busy with grandparents in town and birthdays and whatnot. We've had a great time, going to the zoo, the park, etc. Before all of these memories drift away, I want to record a few.

Grandma Weaver's birthday was Monday. I made an apple pound cake in a ten-inch spring form pan and then we went out to Little Italy for dinner. I admit, I was a little apprehensive about the restaurant Derrick's dad picked, but it turned out to be okay. Not as good as most of the other places we've tried in Little Italy, but still okay, and very family friendly. Paul wasn't at all happy to be there and screamed a lot, so family friendly was a definite plus. Probably most important to the ones paying, it was cheaper (though not by much) than the other places we've been. Derrick gave his grandma a couple of little vases and candle holders he turned, and we gave her a couple of 8X10 pictures I took of Paul that morning.

This was the favorite picture

Tuesday was Sylvia's birthday. Sylvia's had a great time with Grandma and Grandpa Hasterok and Grandma Weaver, though I think she still likes me. On her birthday we insisted she spend the night with us (most nights she slept at the hotel with Grandma and Grandpa). That morning she came in and gave me a kiss and told me in a sweet little voice, full of excitement, that it was her birthday.

That morning Sylvia made her own birthday brownies with Grandma Hasterok's help. The baking may have been her favorite part of the day, though really there were a lot of good pars of the day. I had an activity for my lone activity day girl, which effectively turned into a play date with said girl's family while we made some plush juggling balls. For dinner we made mini tacos at Sylvia's request, which I think was a really good choice. Everyone seemed to like the meal and we didn't have much in the way of leftovers.

I don't think Sylvia much cared about eating the brownies, though she liked decorating them and was so excited about blowing out the candles we didn't even make it through "Happy Birthday." She loved opening presents, too, and wanted to play with everything. Getting her to bed was, uh, entertaining, and I'll leave it at that.

Yesterday Paul had a doctor's appointment. In June when we went up to Utah, Paul got a UTI on the way up. UTI's are apparently quite unusual in boys, so he needed some follow up tests to make sure his kidneys, blood vessels, and other urinary tract structures are all as they should be. The doctor didn't see anything, but holding Paul down for the 10 or so minutes required to get the pictures was like the worst diaper change ever. The doctor even commented on what a strong fighter he is, and on the fact he never gave up. At all. By the time we got to the car, Paul seemed to have completely forgotten the trauma and he's been happy and pleasant as usual since.

Last night for dinner we had tamale pie and rice. Paul (who usually loves tamale pie) was more interested in rice. There wasn't any rice on his plate, though, so he reached over and tried to grab some off his Grandpa Hasterok's plate. Grandpa said no, so he put that hand back behind his head as if trying to hide his aborted attempt to steal his Grandpa's rice. Daddy, who was seated on the other side, didn't say no, so Paul happily stole rice from him until he was given his own.

Derrick and I went to school today, which I quite enjoyed. It's likely the last time I'll get to go in with him, so I'm very glad the grandparents were so willing to babysit on their last day in town. Tonight we had our final birthday celebration for the week. After a dinner of bratwursts, onion rings, and watermelon, we had cupcakes (blue frosted, decorated with paper shark fins) and Sylvia opened Paul's presents. It was a lovely evening, and a great way to end the visit.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pattern recognition

Tonight I made some lovely peach cobbler. We had some peaches that were attracting fruit flies and, rather than gorge myself on delicious peaches (mmm, yummy) I decided to make peach pie. But then I realized peach pie involves pie crust and changed my plan to cobbler.

Anyway, cobbler or pie, the peaches needed seasoning, so I added a little bit of sugar (probably 1/3 c) and a little bit of fresh-ground nutmeg (maybe 1/8 a tsp) and then hunted around for the cinnamon, because what's a fruit pie without cinnamon? Now, for years we've had one of those big 8 oz containers of cinnamon. We finally worked out way through it (mostly courtesy of Sylvia and a few concoctions created while my back was turned) and replaced it with a much smaller container. But of course, after years of looking for the same container, I still look for that container.

We have another, very similar container in our spice cabinet.

Full of reddish powder.

Made from hot chilis.

Guess what I used on the peach cobbler?

On the plus side, should I ever make it up to Alan's chili-fest, I have a recipe to share!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Boatloads of personality

Sylvia likes knives, so much so that I have to be very careful to put away knives after using them. Well, this evening I left out a paring knife after cutting up a peach. Sylvia picked it up, so I yelled, "Put down the knife!"

Apparently inspired by Derrick's trip to Australia, she told me, "That's not a knife!"

Whatever kid.

We tried to feed Sylvia a sausage for dinner. She turned up her nose in favor of a roasted green bean sandwich. As in, green beans on a bun. With mustard.

Paul loved the green beans too, and was seriously fond of the French fries. When he finished off what we'd given him, my young man with an increasingly large personality pushed his plate over to his dad to request more food, then pulled it back when it was full. Such a good communicator.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Both my kids are determined, though in different ways. Sylvia wants to know why everything is the way it is. If you've spent more than 5 minutes with her you know what I mean. She peppers everyone with questions, from "why do birds lay eggs?" to "why do I have to eat with a fork?" and everything in between. Which is to say, she's both curious and requires an explanation for why she has to do things before she'll do them.

Paul hasn't reached the why stage yet (being non-verbal and all). His determination comes out in other ways, often involving wheeled or circular objects. For example, this morning, after signing time at the library he wanted to move the teacher's wheeled cart around. He would NOT be content with playing with the wheels, or just pushing it back and forth; no, he had to push it to the door for her. Fortunately, once she was out the door he quickly forgot about the cart.

This afternoon he climbed up the child safety gate I put up to keep him out of Sylvia's room during nap time. After dinner he decided he just had to turn the knobs on the washing machine and fussed until I moved a stool over for him to stand on. Once up he was quite happy for some minutes, just rotating the knob. Before bed he did the tupperware sorting toy six or seven times (with much assistance, of course) before getting bored with it, lasting much longer than I did. The kid's got some serious concentration skills already.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Long, long days

Summertime is awesome, and part of that awesomeness comes from the very long days, which I loved as a kid. I have fond memories of playing until almost 10:00 at night, when the last of the dusky light was snatched away from us. After the heat of those summer days, the cool of the evening would keep us out, playing whatever games our child-minds could imagine, until parents firmly escorted us back into the well-lit house. The smell of the cool, dry grass is still one of my favorite summer scents. The other side of the coin isn't quite as fun. My kids get up with the dawn, which at this time of the year in this part of the world means they're getting up at around 5:30-ish. Getting them to bed before dark is pretty challenging as well, so all of us are a little sleep deprived. Most of the time I cope by making sure we spend as little time in the house as possible, since somehow outside time cheers us all up. Even so, I'm kinda looking forward to the days getting shorter again.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Parental privileges

me: So let me get this straight--in front of your daughter, who just got in trouble for cutting her own hair, you are cutting your own hair.

D: Yes...

me: ...

D: I love you

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Real walking

Today Paul decided to walk. He's had most of the skills for a while now--he cruises just about every where, he's quite good at standing on his own and as often as not crawls on his feet instead of on his knees. Today he put it all together and started taking several steps at a time, even over sand.

My baby is gone! Welcome to toddler-hood, Paul.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

It just gets better and better

Tuesday Sylvia cut her hair while I was talking on the phone.

Wednesday I saved empty files over three documents I've been working on for the last month, destroying several thousand words of writing (like 10-ish pages; not all that much, I know, but it's all I've managed).

Thursday I took the car out to get a smog check and left my diaper bag at the smog check place.

Friday we had friends over for dinner. At one point we had eight plates. Friday we were down to five (which is where we've been for a while). As we were cleaning up Derrick joked he could break a couple of them so we could go out and buy new ones. Not ten seconds later he dropped two on the kitchen floor. Now we definitely need new plates.

This morning I realized the diaper bag I left at the smog check place used to have my nook in it. "Some black guy" walked off with it. In the course of having the nook shut off I found out that even if your lost nook is turned into a Barnes and Noble, they won't return it to you. Wonderful, huh? Lucky me, I get to buy a new nook.

But you know, life is still good. I have good friends, a great family, and a life I love.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


Paul had a well child visit on Tuesday. He's still growing well--19 lb 3 oz and 29.5 inches long, which puts him in the 79th percentile for height and 30th for weight. So, he's still long and skinny.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial day

Since it's memorial day, Derrick decided to invite his Chinese and Indian friends over to celebrate this American holiday. Of course, being Americans, our festivities involved a lot of meat.

Too much meat, it turned out.

You see, several of the adults present are vegetarians. They, being experienced cooks and eaters, brought food they would like, and enough to share. So, we had tons and tons of delicious veggies (which I gorged myself on) and more than enough sausages for the carnivorous hordes roaming through our diminutive apartment.

I must say, I had a blast. I love hanging out with Derrick's academic friends, even if I'm not really a part of the academic crowd anymore. And we won't have to cook for days! The food was great, and everyone was appreciative of all the hard work everyone put into the dinner.

Sadly, it's one of the last chances we'll have to hang out with a couple of the families we invited since one couple is moving to Illinois and the other family is moving back to China. It's wonderful to see friends getting jobs, though; brings me hope that Derrick will too, someday.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Paul slept for two hours today, which gave me lots of time to finally catch up on all the stuff I've missed on facebook, a.k.a.--goof off on the internet. Yeah, I had the chance to have a nice productive morning and goofed off instead. I'm sure that doesn't sound at all like me. In my defense, the one time I did try to get up to do something, Paul woke up, forcing me to sit and hold his precious little body until he drifted off to sleep again. I know someday I'm not going to be able to hold him this way, and so I indulge my gluttonous self, eating up every little moment of time he's curled up next to me. It doesn't hurt that when he wakes up and I'm next to him he smiles so brightly it outshines the sun for a moment and pierces my heart with its loveliness. He is such a sweet, lovely baby, but he's loosing his babyness, becoming more of a toddler with his straight, strong legs and back. The way he moves, the way he stands, a proud bouncing sumo, the days of his babyhood are rapidly draining away.

First step

This morning, while standing next to me as I ate breakfast (since sitting in his highchair was just unacceptable this morning) Paul took a step. I'm not sure he realized he'd done it; it took me a few seconds to realize myself what he'd done. Friday Derrick discovered a third tooth in Paul's mouth. Not terribly surprising, since he was completely coated in slobber much of the day. Happily, teething didn't upset him much. He's been the same happy kid, if a little more interested chewing on things, in spite of the tooth coming in. Sigh. He's growing up way too fast.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

happy mom, happy day

It's mother's day, which is nice. Derrick let me sleep for an extra hour AND made breakfast. Church wasn't TOO cringe-inducing. The talks by women were very good, very real tributes to the challenges, the rewards, and the lessons of motherhood. The one young man who spoke (who is a highscool senior, so I can cut him a little slack) repeated the "women are naturally nurturing, sacrificing, so wonderful don't they just deserve to spend all their days on this lovely pedestal?" idea that I find irritating.

It's not me. I'm not a wonderfully nurturing, sacrificing, sweet mother. I get mad at my kids, I'm not all that patient, sometimes I reinforce my irritation with a spank or a slap on the hand. If this is nurturing, if this constant repetition of the same lessons every day (don't body slam your brother; hard things aren't for throwing; we have to wear clothes to the table; you have to wash your hands after going potty, and don't scratch your bum!; etc.), if this is what they mean when they describe us women and our especially caring natures, yeah, it just sucks. Most of the time I feel like I'm doing battle with my kids, not loving and nurturing them.

It's annoying repeating the same lessons, over and over. It's irritating dealing with whiny, selfish kids. A lot of the time I hate it. I just want my kids to grow up and act mature, even though I know the only way to get there is time and (mostly my) good example. (Which also sucks. I hate being the good example when I really don't feel like a good example, or even trying anymore to be the good example). I hate giving up so much of myself ALL THE TIME just so everyone else can live the lives they want. I hate that my life revolves around the needs of others almost every hour of every day, and the only thing they can think of to do in commemoration of that is give me one stupid day a year and a patronizing guilt trip about how wonderful I'm supposed to be.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The sun is out of gas!

The other night at dinner Sylvia got a little silly and made up her own chant that went, "The sun is out of gas! Sh*@&! The sun is out of gas! Sh*@&!" When Derrick and I busted up laughing, she thought it was because of her cleverness coming up with "the sun is out of gas," which she continued to chant through the rest of dinner. The innocence of children. Precious.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

So quiet

Today was my first day back in Relief Society. Wow, is it ever quiet. I'd forgotten how boring it can be to just sit there, listening. I suppose next week I'll have to actually read the lesson so I'll have something to think about, maybe even say.

That is, assuming I'm not called into something else. Lynn's already been called as the RS teacher to replace Agnes (the new Primary president), but that's not at all a surprise. She's an excellent teacher and that's the calling she was hoping for.

Anyway, after church, Sylvia actually napped (miracle of miracles), and then spent the afternoon hunting worms. Her hunt yielded one, whose life I feared for since she carried it around for a good hour before I managed to get her to "put it to bed." That gambit had to work twice, actually, since the worm didn't have time to escape the first time. Sigh.

Here are a couple of pictures of my kids, just being cute.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Another week slipping into obscurity...

With no record, no remembrance. Yeah, life is busy; yeah, I'm trying to prioritize work over play, and this counts as play. But I'll take a break.

As I said, it's been busy lately. After Sylvia's illness (which didn't lead to any more puking after that one day, but left her kind of overly mellow and with little appetite) I picked it up, then, a few days later, Derrick picked it up. Somewhere in there Paul picked up something RSV-ish and I spent a couple of days watching him closely for signs of respiratory distress. Oh, and not sleeping because babies with coughs don't sleep well. (The Paul not sleeping led to an amusing event. When he's sick I'll take him in the shower with me to help his breathing. During one of the showers I looked down and realized he was bent completely in half. He was so tired, and so relaxed by the shower he actually fell asleep sitting in the tub!) And then, since my body's response to all that sickness and stress involves secondary infections in my lymph nodes, I got said secondary infection that made it so painful to swallow I couldn't do much more than choke down enough water to keep myself barely hydrated for about a week. So yeah, busy. But now we're all well, thanks to rest, functional immune systems, and a little assistance from that miracle of drugs, penicillin.

We've had fun, too. Last weekend (I think?) we went to Pasadena for the Alumni game. Sylvia loved seeing "Daddy's friends" again, and I hung out with a friend from college who still lives in the area.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Patrick's day observations

So, we didn't so much celebrate St. Patrick's day on St. Patrick's day this year. Sylvia had a class party on Friday, the 16th, and the closest we came to a remembrance on the day itself came in the form of green eggs for Sylvia's breakfast Saturday and potato tacos for dinner that night. We set a leprechaun trap that evening, though, and we did catch something...

Spicy, green candied popcorn!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Conscious of the world around her

This afternoon I went on a lovely walk with two of the women I work with in primary. Sadly, it turns out one of them (the president) is moving shortly, so we won't be working together much longer. Happily, she's not moving far away, so our regular Sunday afternoon walks may continue for a while. As an aside, I also probably won't be in primary much longer unless the new primary president asks for me as a counselor or in some other capacity.

Anyway, the walking was lovely, even with two kids in tow. Sylvia finally cajoled us into stopping to let her play at one of the playgrounds, which she took full advantage of. After really quite a while playing nicely on the playground, she made a break for the water, which I wasn't about to let her go into alone, or when it's barely 65 degrees (if that), so we continued back to cars and went home.

On the way we heard NPR discussing the killing of Afghan civilians by a US service member. Sylvia very pointedly, and specifically, asked why the man killed the women and children. I wish I had a good response. The best I could do was tell her I didn't know, but sometimes people do things they shouldn't do because they get too stressed and don't know how to deal with it. I have no idea of the guys has PTSD or some other mental instability, but at this point that's the most obvious explanation to my mind. I hope the explanation at the very least doesn't make Sylvia more worried.

It's scary how observant she's becoming, and how much more she understands about what's going on or being discussed around her. Most of the time I admit I giggle under my breath a little at the way she sees certain things, like today when she told me she didn't want to "get dead" in the parking lot so she was going to hold my hand (which she did at least most of the way to the car). Other times, though, it's heart-wrenching to hear her trying to make sense of things that just don't make sense, like a man killing unarmed women and children in their homes in the dead of night with no explanation.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

He so owes me

When Sylvia puked at her Uncle Philip's wedding, she'd been drinking a fruity, cherry-flavored beverage all afternoon, so her vomit pretty much smelled like cherries. Tonight, when Sylvia swallowed her cherry-flavored mouthwash and then puked it and what looked like everything she'd eaten all day, it smelled exactly the same.

I hate that smell.

Fortunately, taking care of vomited-covered bedsheets by myself is much easier at home, with a hose, than in an unfamiliar hotel by myself (Derrick was at the rehearsal--projectile vomit was only a valid excuse for the one of us with no active part to play in the wedding). After stripping Sylvia, bathing her, stripping her bed, and hosing everything off, I took a shower.

Paul enjoyed the shower, too. He's had a nasty cold for the past week that at times has left him wheezing in way that almost sent us to the doctor. Almost. Except for the whole, they can't actually do anything unless it's real respiratory distress (which it wasn't). In case you're wondering, he's feeling better. I have hopes that the shirt I wear tomorrow won't be covered with a network of snot stains.

I haven't told Derrick about Sylvia's puking. I probably won't for a while yet so I don't distract him. You may wonder why he's not experiencing this himself--at the moment he's interviewing for a real job at a university in New Mexico. It's pretty exciting. Even if he doesn't get the job (and he's apparently one of five candidates, so it's far from certain) it's still pretty exciting he's got an interview. I'm glad it'll be over soon, though. Since they informed him of the interview he's had an impossible time sleeping and has been so focused on his talk it's been pretty much the only subject of all conversations with him. Not that the bodily fluids of our children are more interesting to discuss (they're not) but it'll be nice to have him back and capable of listening to the rest of us.

Monday, March 5, 2012

I didn't put him there

He's pulling himself up to standing position now. Not only can he scoot around on the floor, I think it won't be long before he's cruising.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Paul update

Paul is again measuring long and skinny. He's 17 lb, 3 oz (7.769 kg), which is about 30th percentile, and 27 3/4 inches (70.5 cm), which is about 80th percentile for length. He's growing well, developing well, and is happy, friendly (as long as he's in my lap), and a joy to have around.

And he's ready for Easter!

Monday, February 27, 2012


I lost my wallet. A few months ago I lost my wallet while getting out of my car. I'm pretty sure it just fell out of my lap while I was getting out and, in the bustle of pulling out Sylvia and the In 'n Out I'd purchased for dinner I lost it. The wallet only had a few things of any value to anyone else--about $13 and a couple of gift cards--but it was enough someone took the wallet.

For a while I was angry that someone took it. I kept looking at my neighbors wondering who among them would keep the belongings of their neighbor, especially when my address and picture were right there inside. I eventually concocted a story for myself in which my wallet was lost because someone else, perhaps a young, impoverished mother, needed the few dollars to buy diapers for her child or gas to get to the job that keeps her in her meager, but sufficient livelihood. Such a trade would only be fair, after all--I've been blessed by someone else's loss similarly, and in times of significant financial stress. When I was in 5th or 6th grade I lost a bus pass and my parents didn't really have the money to replace it. Shortly after I found a $20 bill--exactly the amount I needed for a new bus pass. I didn't really stop to consider the person who lost the money, just that a problem of mine was now solved. Maybe the real finder of my wallet bears little or no resemblance to the person I imagine; maybe the cash was spent on candy or fast food; but imagining something positive coming from my misfortune gave me some solace.

Today I lost my wallet again. This time apparently nobody needed anything from it; this time someone returned it to me. I am thankful to be so blessed, grateful for people who are honest.

In the same vein, I am grateful for friends who just happened to be at Jack in the balfa and offered me a ride home so I and my two kids didn't have to walk home in the rain.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sweet home San Diego

Remember way back when I said I was going to blog more so that I would feel like every day wasn't exactly the same? Yeah, then I went to Salt Lake and visited family and did some work there, so I kind of stopped having time to do said blogging. Oops.

We're back now, and it's nice, especially for the kids. Utah in a lot of ways still feels like home to me, but it's obvious my kids are really at home in San Diego. Paul chuckles whenever we do something he likes (he's got skilz when it comes to parent training) and he pretty much chuckled from the moment we stepped into the door. Sylvia, who had complained daily about going to school before our trip, made nary a peep about getting ready to go this morning, even though we got up at about 4 to finish the drive home. She took a (3 hour!) nap this afternoon, again, without complaint, and then ran around like a crazy woman when we went to visit friends for a few minutes. It's amazing. It's like my kids missed home.

There are some things I want to remember about this trip, so here they are, in no particular order:

1. Paul's belly-flop, leap-frogging crawl. Effective, and amusing to watch. I'm sure he'll figure out how to coordinate his legs, but in the mean time he's entertaining to watch.

2. Sylvia's super-smeller. She claimed to smell the dark.

3. A cousin (who shall remain nameless) telling me she didn't want any fish chowder because her morning sickness made it unappetizing.

4. Watching Downton Abbey with family
4b. Nacho eating about a third of a bowl of caramel popcorn during some movie I watched with Sylvia because we left for a few minutes and I stupidly thought the couch would be a safe place for it.

5. Listening to my Grandpa's funeral. My grandma read the essay I wrote (which was also used as his obituary) and I bawled through it. That was the only thing that made me cry, though--everyone else gave great remembrances of my Grandpa's life and example. I remember a couple of people complaining about the stake president who spoke at the end, and I see why they complained. My grandpa was a complex person with strengths and flaws, a very human man. The SP tried to reduce the man we all loved to something simple, perfect, and very faith-affirming, which just isn't grandpa. He was a colorful character and that's a lot of what we love about him. Not to turn this into a critique of someone I've never met, but some people I guess can't handle shades of gray in their heroes. Perhaps that's why so much of my family has a hard time finding teachings within the church that resonate anymore--all the complexity's been excised by well-meaning simplifiers.

6. Sylvia pulling out all of my Grandma's tissues and giving them to Paul.

7. Sylvia playing in the snow. Derrick hitting me in the face with a snowball while I was holding my camera. Grr.

8. Valentine's day Sylvia went with my mom and made us all valentines cookies. She then took the extra princess valentines and cut them up using Mimi's scrap booking scissors. Lots and lots of confetti ensued.

9. Blueberry scones of the Utah variety. Sooo good! For those of you not from Utah, fry bread filled with blueberry pie filling, covered with icing. Serious sugar rush.

10. Paul's leap frogging crawl all over the downstairs kitchen. He could only move a few feet, but man, the things he could get into in a few feet! Mimi has a collection of painted rocks. He was especially fond of pulling those out and eating them.

11. Derrick turning a beautiful paduk platter and turning into a carrot in the process. The beautiful platter is now almost fully obscured by his wooden rocks.

12. Princess party for Sylvia's cousin, L. Sylvia had fun, but was happy to hand over the dress and get back to being a tomboy once the party was over.

13. A day at Elisa's house. Beautiful light in her bedroom in the afternoon, so I took a bunch of pictures of Paul (the day after his half-birthday). A friend of hers was making a quilt and Elisa was going through old episodes of Glee to find her favorite songs. That night we went to the Blue Lemon (or something like that) for dinner. Elisa and Anna practiced signing as we ate. Across the restaurant was a table of hipster couples, all dressed like they'd just stepped out of a TV show.

I think people in (some parts of) Utah dress better than people in California.

14. Paul started out very worried about all the new people...

but by the end he'd grown accustomed to at least a few of his relatives.

15. Camping on a moonless night in the Afton Road campground, our tent filled with clean laundry to serve as insulation against the ground, the four of us covered by a single sleeping bag (fortunately warm!) and a couple of "blankets" I bought for the kids. The blankets were really 1 yard pieces of fabric from Joanne's. Paul needed a soft blanket to sleep, so he got a new orange blanket. Sylvia, not wanting to be left out, got a piece of polar fleece with skulls and purple roses on it--to scare away the monsters.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


To continue my thoughts from the last post, I think some of the reason I feel like I live in groundhog day is simply that all my days are running into one another. We get up, get Sylvia off to school, I spend the morning with Paul and working, then I pick Sylvia up, do something with her for the afternoon, have dinner, put kids to bed, watch TV, and go to bed. The only thing that changes from day to day is what's on after dinner.

In an effort to combat this mind-numbing sequence, I'm trying to be better about blogging. We'll see how long it lasts. I hope longer than the "I'm going to keep my house cleaner" goal did.

Today's easy: today was a shower for a friend from church (who I'll refer to as S since I don't know how she feels about being talked about on-line). I made a bunch of wash cloths/flannel wipes for her and used them as decoration on a diaper cake. The diaper cake was made of disposables (some that Paul's grown too big for already--he's getting big fast), though I'd hoped to make it from cloth diapers I ordered for her. Sadly, the cloth diapers won't arrive until Monday, though I'm sure the disposables will still come in handy. Much as I love my cloth diapers, disposables have a definite place--especially overnight.

The shower was lovely. Another friend (who I'll call A for similar reasons as above) made most of the food, especially the sweets. A is quite the accomplished cook, specializing in cheesecakes. I don't get to many chances to cook cheesecakes and most of my attempts have been interesting more than yummy, so yesterday Sylvia, Paul, and I went to her house to hang out while S and A made the treats. I spent most of the time quietly watching them work and watching kids play. I don't think I really picked up much, but it was nice to be in their company. The two of them speak French and spent most of the afternoon speaking in French, which certainly didn't bother me, but did leave me unable to contribute to the conversation. I just listened, trying to pick up on what was going on, which honestly was pretty entertaining. I'm weird, though.

By the end of the afternoon, I think A had decided I just needed to learn French, though, because she's been speaking French to me ever since.

Anyway, this morning I made three spanakopita rolls for the shower and showed up early to take pictures of the set up and do anything I could to help. In the process of getting ready for the shower, I pretty much had to ignore my children. Derrick did okay, but my kids were decidedly unhappy. I know my kids love me and all, but honestly it's getting old being THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE to them. Paul was fine with Derrick--as long as he couldn't see me. Sylvia wanted to be involved in whatever I was doing, especially if it involved scissors or knives. By the time I left for the shower I had so ignored my daughter she couldn't stand that I was leaving and wept hot, disconsolate tears as I left. She was ecstatic to see me get home (conveniently right about nap time) and spent the rest of the afternoon finding new and creative ways to involve herself in whatever I was doing. Or keep me from sleep. Mostly keep me from sleep.

Eventually Derrick and I tired of attempting to rest, so we went on a bike/scuut ride. Paul seemed to enjoy his first outing in the bike. He spent most of it slobbering all over the seat belt. Sylvia's still learning to rules of the road, so there was much yelling in her direction. I guess kids' processing time is very different from adults, which complicates teaching. For instance, at one point on our bike ride we came across a snake in the middle of the road. It was pretty obviously young from its small width and pretty obviously at least injured from the way it was sitting. I went around and told Sylvia to stop and go around the snake. When that didn't change her trajectory appreciably, I started yelling. She, I guess processing my screams of "stop! stop!" rather more slowly than I would expect, rolled right over the thing with her front wheel, and then stopped, straddling it with both her feet and her bike. I watched in horror as the snake started writhing on the ground, hoping it wouldn't bite her, hoping it wasn't poisonous. Fortunately for us, it was dead, just fresh enough that Sylvia running over it caused some final spasms. But oh, the sobbing of earlier in the day paled in comparison to the despondent wailing over the dead snake. Sylvia kept insisting the snake was okay, that it would stop being dead and be alive again, that the blood on the snake was really jelly. In the face of such intense sorrow I understood why people talk about resurrection and life after death. I didn't (at least as much because I'm just not sure where snakes fit in the grand scheme of things) but did try to explain that the snake would go on to feed and sustain the life of something else. If you can imagine, that didn't actually go over all that well either.

Paul's day was far less traumatic. After playing around on the lovely hardwood floors in the home where S's shower was held he figured out how to army crawl. He practiced his new-found skill happily much of the afternoon.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog day

In the movie "Groundhog Day" the Bill Murray character gets to re-live one day over and over and over. Eventually he games the system and improves himself during his unnumbered extra days. It's a familiar trope in science fiction--Stargate:SG1 uses it masterfully, Star Trek:TNG has a looping episode; I'm sure there are others but let's just say it's a familiar idea.

It's an appealing situation, as well. Imagine, a bunch of free days. Sure, you might start out the day annoyingly (getting smacked in the head with a door, for instance) but it's alluring, imagining a free day, or month, or year, where you get to learn or expand in some way and can completely ignore all other responsibilities 'cause hey, it's all going to be set back up exactly like it was yesterday. Impossible to break permanently.

I finished making the apple-caramel-cinnamon rolls this evening. They aren't really cinnamon rolls anymore with all the apples and caramel, but oh, are they good. I chopped three (or maybe four?) apples and combined them with pecans and caramel sauce in the bottom of my spring-form pan. Then I topped the apple mixture with unbaked cinnamon rolls and baked it at about 350 for around an hour until the rolls were lightly browned. The pan turned out to be completely unnecessary and, indeed, superfluous since the caramel leaked. Next time I'll just use a normal pan.

If tomorrow morning I wake up and there's still a bowl of sweet roll dough in the fridge and nine apples on the table, I'll know I have to do today all over again, and I'll have to remember not to use the spring-form.