Saturday, September 29, 2012

Non-boring

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
















Friday, September 28, 2012

Selection

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

Why?

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.

Vignettes

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

Toothers

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.