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."