the sometimes senseless ravings (and the occassional rant) of an aspiring marine ecologist who may enjoy killing things a little too much

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Joys of Christmas

so, i sit here the day after christmas, watching the flyers play chicago (they are losing, boo) and wondering where in the world we are going to put all of max's christmas gifts. and we left a couple at chad's parents' house! seriously, i'm guessing that the kid racked up at least $300 or $400 worth of presents (we spent about $70 on his christmas gifts, including the stuff that went in his stocking). which is a bit ridiculous when you consider that he's only 11 months old. and he has a birthday in a few weeks, when he will receive even more gifts. the in-laws went a bit overboard (did i expect any less?), and to my annoyance, gave him a couple of things that i have already bought but was saving for max's birthday.

but anyway, i think max had a good first christmas. unfortunately, chad and i are both sick and have been since about tuesday. i think i have strep throat, and i'll probably pay a visit to the doctor tomorrow. so that part of christmas sucked. otherwise, it was good. we did our christmas morning thing here at home and then visited the families. max drank his formula when he woke up, then he opened his stocking and his two wrapped gifts from us (activity table and spin & spill cement truck). he opened the truck first and was so busy playing with it while it was still in the box that he didn't want to open the other present. when he did, he ripped off one section of paper and tried to play with the activity table through the hole he'd made. after presents, he ate breakfast, then we loaded up and drove to my aunt's house, where we also did stockings and presents and then ate lunch. max got loads of stuff, but they were reasonable gifts (three or four books, a little people dump truck, a tickle me elmo, a top, a few other small toys, a stuffed animal, two jackets, and a big ride-on toy), and his gifts fit easily into a large bag. and easily into my car.

after my family thing, we went over to chad's parents' house (they live about 15 min. from my aunt), where there were five enormous boxes, a giant gift bag, four or five smaller packages, and a (i am NOT exaggerating) 3 foot tall stocking. all for max. seriously, that stocking was considerably larger than max is. chad's mom asked me after thanksgiving to make her a list of stuff we wanted them to buy for max. so i made a list with 10 things on it, ranging in price from $10-$30. i told her he didn't need everything on the list and that the list was for christmas and his birthday. she's bought every single toy on the list plus more. holy crap. i told her what chad and i were getting for max and the big gift that my mom got him. but she still ended up buying things that were very similar to stuff he already has. and she got the exact same giant not legos (but like legos) that i got him for his birthday (which i told her i was getting him). which really annoys me. they also ended up buying max two more walk-behind toys (one of which turns into an activity table, which WE ALREADY GOT HIM), even though they already bought him one of those a few months ago. and a ride on truck. and a giant piano rocker thing (sort of like a rocking horse, but with a big plastic piano instead of a horse's head). i did say that max likes the little toy pianos and xylophones that they have at daycare and that they should get him one of those. but i didn't mean one that he sits and rocks on. i meant a little $10 one that he holds on his lap. he's already got two big rock/ride-on toys, and he's getting a bounce & spin zebra for his birthday, all of which the in-laws knew about beforehand. why even bother with a list?

those were the only things that really annoyed me. everything else was fine. they got him two sets of pj's, a jack-in-the-box, a set of wooden blocks, a see & say, two stuffed animals (a giant one and a smaller one), a big fisher-price laugh and learn teddy that teaches letters, numbers, shapes, etc (i really wanted the puppy, which teaches body parts, but that's ok), some christmas dishes, and two christmas cups. i might have forgotten something. all of that stuff would have been more than enough. but they went completely overboard. we couldn't fit everything in the car. so we left the ride-on toy and the lego-like blocks and maybe one of the walk-behind toys there. he can play with them when he visits.

the in-laws' neighbors also gave max a gift, which was nice of them. they got him two books and some clothes to grow into.

chad and i both still feel like complete crap, so most of max's christmas gifts (and all of ours) are still in bags and boxes. i put max's activity table together and took the cement truck out of the box, so he's been playing with those today. and also the little fire truck and squishy frogs from his stocking. and of course, all of his old toys. maybe tomorrow i'll get some more stuff out for him. we also really need to pack up the baby swing and exersaucer. :-( he is still well below the weight limit for the swing, but he no longer has the patience for it, and it's just taking up space in the living room. he is too big for the exersaucer now, though. drat his being tall for his age. he's actually been too big for the exersaucer for a few weeks, as he's about 30.5" tall now (but struggling to reach 22 lbs), and the exersaucer is only recommended for babies under 30" tall. it makes me a little sad, packing up these things that have been max's entertainment for so long. but we really need the space for new stuff. and i also need to invest in a baby fence to keep max out of the kitchen when i'm cooking and chad isn't home to distract him. i used to just put him in the exersaucer, but i can't really do that anymore. i could just move the playpen from our bedroom to the living room, but having the playpen in our room is very handy when i need to get dressed or blow dry my hair after chad has already left for work. for those who haven't been to our house, our living room and kitchen are completely open to each other (no wall in between), so baby gates won't do any good. we need something to corral max.

so i need to do some more baby shopping soon. max needs more baby snacks anyway. his favorites are wagon wheels and zwieback toast, and we're out of both of those. it's ok, though. we've got banana puffs and cheerios. and crackers. ugh. i so do not feel like going out shopping.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Tree

finally got the tree up and decorated today. i planned to do it on monday, but i worked on dissertation stuff for a while that morning, made out my christmas cards, and boxed up gifts for damien and dylan. then monday afternoon i started feeling like crap and puking my guts out. and i am not one for vomiting. it does not make me feel less nauseous, and i hadn't vomited in almost five years before monday. it was a rough afternoon and night. then yesterday i pretty much hurt everywhere, so i took max to daycare, came back home, and slept pretty much all day. i feel better today, though. i think it was just a 24 hour bug. chad thinks it was something i ate sunday night at his work christmas party, but we pretty much ate the same thing, and he's fine.

but anyway, the tree. here's a shot of it, with max's stocking hung up beside it. we put it in the dining room this year (it's blocked off with baby gates) to keep it away from max's grabby little hands. and you know, to keep him from pulling that 7.5 foot monster down on top of himself. i'll try to get a picture of max with the tree soon, though i'm not sure how that will work, since he grabs everything in sight.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Busy Busy

so it appears that max is FINALLY over his illness. yay! he was sick for over three weeks, and it sucked. he'll get his last dose of antibiotic tonight. unfortunately, he's starting to get a little snotty again. hopefully this time it will just be a runny nose.

max has been making a little pig of himself for the last few days, about which i am glad. he's been gaining about a pound or so per month lately, but he only gained one single, solitary, pathetic little ounce this past month, despite growing half an inch in height. so he's got some catching up to do on the weight gain front. he was tall for his weight to begin with. my strategy for this is to give him high-calorie snacks like yogurt or cheese with fruit instead of just some cheerios and fruit/veggies and to keep feeding him at mealtimes until he stops opening his mouth for food, which is pretty much what i've always done, but now this means shoveling massive amounts of grub in there. for instance, friday at breakfast max ate a full serving of baby cereal with 1/4 cup applesauce (his usual breakfast). then a miniature banana. and some cheerios. and 4 bites of my (whole wheat) bagel. after consuming a whole cup of baby formula (he usually only drinks about 4 oz. = 1/2 cup in the morning). the night before that he ate two generous helpings of chicken and pasta with tomato basil sauce that had lots of onions and bell peppers in it. then last night at chad's work christmas party, max ate for about 2 hours straight. i took some baby food for him since i didn't know when dinner would be served, and he ate a jar of food then two crackers. he still seemed hungry a half hour later so i gave him the banana pudding i'd brought him for dessert. then chad and i were eating appetizers, and max got all excited, so i gave him the cheese out of the inside of a mozzarella stick (i didn't think the fried crusty outside would be good for him, but he likes cheese). then he ate a couple of bites of my potato soup before deciding he didn't like it. and he ate a ton of bread. i don't know how he held it all. i'm just glad that he's eating again. and he's been in a good mood.

the christmas tree is still not up, even though christmas is NEXT WEEK. shopping is done, presents are wrapped. i will get the tree up today. maybe.

i'm also working on the 2nd chapter of my dissertation, making more tables and figures. but not as many as for chapter 1, so that's a relief.

i've been debating with myself lately about what to do this christmas. chad and i usually spend the night at his parents' house christmas eve then go over early christmas morning to hang out with my family. but i would kind of like to spend christmas eve at home with max. which would make splitting time between two families on christmas day a little hectic, especially considering that we'd have to drive an hour and a half to go see said families. my family always makes a big production of christmas day, opening gifts early in the morning then christmas dinner mid-afternoon, followed by board games, etc. and general family bonding time. i'd feel bad if we couldn't be with my family early christmas morning, especially since my brother won't be there for the first time ever, since he couldn't afford to drive down from TN this year. plus, i'm sure my aunt really wants to do everything at her house. otherwise, i would prefer it if everyone came to our house, even if it meant my having to cook christmas dinner. it would be so much easier. alas, i don't know what to do. we'll probably end up doing the same thing we always have, even though i kind of want to start new traditions with max.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

'Tis the Season

for shopping and eating. i have been doing both. i hit the mall the other day to do some christmas shopping and use some store discount coupons i've been holding on to. it was quite a successful trip. max and i went shopping again yesterday morning to buy a few last christmas gifts, and i discovered today that one of the toys i bought for max doesn't work, so i'll have to return it and get another one. no time today (plus, it's raining like whoa over here), but maybe i can get around to it in the morning.

i've been buying a lot of shoes lately. i just can't stop myself. a girl's gotta have shoes. well, one pair was to go with the skirt i wore to kelly's wedding last month (hella cute skirt, but hella uncomfortable shoes - i looked nice, though), so that was a necessary purchase. and i bought a pair of flat, tan cowboy-ish boots when we were in pigeon forge because we went to an outlet mall, where i made chad buy new shoes, and the store had a buy one pair get another half off sale going. so they were only, like $15 (they were already on sale for $29.99, i forget the regular price). and i've worn them quite often, so those were definitely a good purchase. and last week i bought another 2 pair! it's shoe madness over here. i haven't worn either of those yet, but they are hella cute. one is a pair of gray ankle boots with pointy toes and skinny heels. the other i cannot wait to have an occasion to wear because they are SO CUTE. they're cement-colored patent leather rounded-toe pumps with dark brown stacked heels. and i LOVE them. they'll be so cute with skirts, but i'll probably just wear them with jeans or my sweet brown chinos most of the time.

that is the danger of the holiday season - all the sales make me buy WAY too much stuff for myself. i don't even need gifts from anyone else (that's not to say i won't accept gifts, of course ;-)).

the holiday season also makes me want to cook. yesterday i made pot roast in the slow cooker again. the first time i made this, it was excellent. and max ate it. so i made it again. he's been having eating issues ever since he first got sick three weeks ago (is he ever going to be well again?), so i'm pretty much feeding him whatever he will eat. he is at least maintaining his weight, though, even though he hasn't gained so much as an ounce in the last three weeks. when his throat was sore, max choked on table food but would eat at least a little baby food. now he's not choking on anything, but he still won't eat much. i think he's pretty much outgrown baby food, because he's refusing to eat it (except the fruit). now all he wants is bananas and cheerios. he ate the pot roast well last night, though. and the carrots, celery, and onions that i cooked with it. not the potatoes, though. i never met a kid who didn't like potatoes, but mine has issues with them. sometimes he'll eat a few bites of baked potato, and he used to eat french fries really well, but now he won't touch a french fry (that's probably a good thing), and he's never been a fan of mashed potatoes (i have no idea where he gets that, chad and i both love mashed potatoes). i made mac & cheese the other day, and max would have none of it. i think that was a sick thing, though. he usually loves mac & cheese. he ate red beans & rice at daycare monday. so his eating is improving, as is his health. now if he would just start sleeping again...

i realize that i never posted a picture of max eating his 1st thanksgiving dinner. he managed to eat a small piece of turkey, a small piece of ham, a little stuffing, and a few bites of beans despite being very sick (i think he was running a fever of about 102 that day). i was glad. i'd have hated for him to miss out on the good food at his first thanksgiving. plus, he hadn't eaten well all that week, so i was just glad he was eating something.


















i can't wait for christmas. he's going to have so much fun ripping off the wrapping paper! and there will be more excellent food, of course!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Big Sigh of Relief

i FINALLY finished the first chapter of my dissertation yesterday, after many, many hours of constructing and editing tables and figures and attempting to condense as much data as possible. i still wound up with 18 tables and 12 figures in the first chapter alone. i'll have 4 chapters. thankfully, the first is the most data-intensive, so the next two shouldn't be nearly as daunting. the fourth is really sort of a mini-chapter on the project i did in maine a couple of summers ago, and it's pretty much done already, since i already had to write that up after we came back from maine.

in other news, max is STILL not over whatever he's had for the last couple of weeks. he ran a fever every single day for almost a week, and when the fever went away, i thought he was getting better. he started eating a little more (though he still mostly ate baby food), and he FINALLY started sleeping through the night again this week. but he's still gagging on nearly everything he puts in his mouth. except bananas. but he also pushes almost everything away when you try to get him to eat. yesterday he ate half a banana, half a container of yogurt, and 2 gerber graduates wagon wheels snacks (a full serving of those is 3 wheels). all day. i gave him the wagon wheels about half an hour before bed because he didn't touch his dinner. he wouldn't touch his lunch at daycare either, and he wouldn't even drink his juice, which he usually LOVES. he drank about half a cup of his formula. they've been having to give him baby food because he won't eat the hot lunches at daycare (he's been eating the cafeteria lunches at daycare for 5 or 6 weeks with no problem - until last week), but yesterday he wouldn't even eat baby food. max did an EXCELLENT job on his breakfast this morning, though, downing a full serving of rice & apple baby cereal and a jar of apples & pears. baby food is better than no food, even though we're trying to steer him toward table food. but he wouldn't eat lunch today. he took about 4 bites and drank some juice. i don't know what i'm gonna do with that kid.

i called the pediatrician yesterday, and they said he's probably got a tummy full of mucus from being so congested and stuff for two weeks, which makes him feel full. so he doesn't want to eat. and also probably makes everything taste bad. if he still isn't eating well this weekend, he'll have to go back and see the doc again. they said to push fluids to help clear the mucus out, so i've been trying to get max to drink as much as he will. i'm leaving a cup of water on the coffee table for him all the time, and he goes over and takes a few sips every now and then. i'm also giving him formula more often than usual, since he's not drinking as much of that in a sitting as he usually does. he's still only drinking about 16 oz. of formula a day. normal for him is 22-26 oz. a day. plus 4-6 oz. of diluted juice after lunch and a few ounces of water at breakfast and dinner.

i'm not sure if max's throat is still sore. he isn't crying all the time like he was last weekend, and he isn't trying to eat and then crying after a few bites (which is how he was acting when he first got sick). he's just not at all interested in eating. he's not crying much at all, really. he just pushes food away, and when he does take a bite of table food, or even baby snacks like puffs and Cheerios, he gags.

but anyway. other than not eating, max seems ok. he's still kind of snotty, i guess, and he wants to be held a lot more than usual. today he figured out what his stacking rings are for. his favorite thing to do with them has always been to topple the base over so all the rings fly off. then i put them back on. and he topples it over again. or he pulls the rings off one by one. but today he put two of them back on the base. well, he put one ring on, pulled it back off, and then put another ring on. i was so proud. then he got bored with it and started playing with a water bottle that still had a little water in it.

here's what max's christmas list SHOULD look like:
  • empty bottles
  • clothes hangers
  • old tv remotes
  • boxes
  • old magazines
  • dish towels
that's what he finds around the house and has a blast playing with. he spent a good half hour playing in the kitchen floor with a dish towel one day. he spun around in circles with it like a dog chasing its tail. he 'cleaned' the floor with it, crawling all over the place and wiping it around on the floor. he swung it around. and he thought it was the best thing ever. a dish towel.

instead here's a little taste of what max is getting for christmas
i've made a list for the MIL, and it includes some no-frills basic toys like classic wooden blocks and baby musical instruments (like a cute little baby xylophone). max does play with his decked out lights and sounds learning toys, but i think he spends more time with the really basic stuff, like the stacking rings and plastic blocks in different shapes. oh, and a hockey puck. can't forget the hockey puck.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Max's Books

by request, here is a list of all the books that max currently has:

  • Sassy Baby's 1st Books
    • Hello, Bee Hello, Me
    • Baby's Peekaboo Book
    • Who Loves Baby?
    • Baby's Sense-ations Book
  • Winnie the Pooh - Stripes
  • Sesame Street
    • Red or Blue, I Like You
    • Grover's Guessing Game About Animals
    • Cookie's Guessing Game About Food
    • Nighty-Night
    • Eyes & Nose, Fingers & Toes
  • Seek and Slide Shapes
  • Animal Babies in Deserts
  • Fisher-Price Who Lives in the Rainforest?
  • Halloween books purchased at Target for $1 each
    • Trick or Treat
    • Halloween Night
  • Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Little Bus
  • Dr. Seuss
    • Go, Dog. Go!
    • Dr. Seuss's ABC's
    • Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?
  • Random books purchased at Target in the $1 section
    • One Oogly Eye
    • Grumpy Frumpy, Happy Snappy!
    • I Like to SHARE
    • Winter Fun
    • Garfield Fat Cat Rhyme Time
  • Doctor Dog
  • Happy Baby Books
    • Animals
    • Colors
    • Words
  • The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
just a note: most of these books are board books (except the sassy books, which are vinyl). board/vinyl books are good for max. paper books are not. in max's world, paper is for crumpling, tearing, and chewing. in a year or so, he should be ready for books with paper pages. he has a couple of paper books, though. they get read and then put away. he can look at the pictures in the other books by himself.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sick Baby

  • doesn't sleep. ever. unless he is being held and you are sitting up.
  • so you get no sleep.
  • holding baby all the time seriously hinders your typing ability.
  • which seriously hinders your ability to meet the thanksgiving deadline to have the first chapter of your dissertation completed and in your advisor's hands.
  • also doesn't eat much. and only wants baby food, despite recent successes with table food.
  • chokes on cheerios and puffs, two of his favorite foods.
  • because his poor little throat is raw and swollen, making that whole swallowing thing difficult.
  • can't go to daycare. and will probably miss the whole week (daycare is closed thurs and fri for thanksgiving).
  • BIG hindrance to the writing. sick awake babies are DEMANDING.
  • and now he doesn't want to take medicine. at all. he is usually very accepting of medicines and sucks on the dropper. now he cries, and i have to sneak it in really quick while his mouth is open.
  • not an ear infection, just a virus, but a nasty one. doc says we can administer 1/2 tsp. of benadryl at bedtime to help with the runny nose that soaks his sheet and help him sleep.
  • got a prescription for ear drops anyway, in case he having some ear pain due to the upper respiratory infection. if he seems to be having lots of ear pain, and if he still has a fever wednesday we'll have to go see the doc again.
  • poor baby. hopefully he will get better quickly.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Roswell... with Vampires

umm, ok. so i FINALLY got around to reading twilight, and about halfway through, it struck me that the overall storyline is very similar to roswell. well, the pilot anyway. and you know, the heroine is saved by a vampire, not an alien. but the entire time i was reading, i compared bella to liz parker and edward cullen to max evans. there's even a little vampire 'family' just like the alien trio from roswell (i hated tess, and she wasn't there in the beginning, so i tend not to include her, though technically i guess there were four aliens on roswell), and they don't like the idea of a human knowing about them.

but it's ok. i loved roswell, even though i didn't get into it until it was in reruns on the scifi channel. chad and i ended up renting the series from blockbuster so we could make sure we didn't miss an episode.

anyway, i digress. let me say first that i liked twilight. a lot. i love a good vampire story, and i was intrigued by stephenie meyer's take on the vampire myth. pretty much every author who writes about supernatural beings has a slightly different set of rules for them, and i like that. i'm about 85% through new moon, and i like it, too. better than the first book, probably. but it's very romeo & juliet, and i'm not sure how i feel about that.

and all those 'buts' that i'm throwing at you are the reason for my stating from the start that i liked the book. because "i liked the book" has to be followed by, but i kind of hate bella. just a little. which might otherwise lead you to believe that i didn't like twilight. did anyone else find her annoying? the way she completely left her self behind and became wholeheartedly devoted to edward? did that bother anyone else? maybe i am too independent (or too far removed from my teenage years or too secure in a healthy relationship) to understand the impulse to give up everything you are for any reason.

i'll see how this develops in the other books. hopefully, i'll have time to read them soon, although i am frantically trying to finish a chapter of my dissertation, complete with tables and figures. which are surprisingly time-consuming to construct.

speaking of which, i've had my little internet diversion. now i have to get back to work.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Back to Real Life

so, it's been a while, and have i ever been busy. i had a major freakout moment or two while i was frantically finishing up the NSF proposal and getting everything ready for our trip, but i got everything done that needed to be done, the trip is over, and things are getting back to normal.

i've posted tons of pictures from our trip on facebook. i uploaded the ones from raleigh today, since i finally had time.

the trip was pretty good, even if it did make max want to avoid the carseat at all costs. i guess two consecutive days of being stuck in it will do that to a kid. he pretty much didn't sleep well the whole trip. and he still isn't sleeping well. which sucks. i also think he has entered the 'separation anxiety' phase of his life, which also sucks. he wants to be held ALL THE TIME. when i put him down on the floor to play, he crawls back to me, pulls up on my legs, and holds his arms up. if he's playing in the living room and i go into the kitchen for something, he follows me to the kitchen, pulls up on my legs, and holds his arms up. last night, chad tried to put him down on the floor to play and he started screaming. chad picked him back up, and he was fine. when max wakes up at night now, he demands to be picked up (as in, he screams when i lay him back down, paci or no paci, but he is fine as soon as i pick him up. as in, his eyes close immediately upon being picked up. so he has been sleeping at least half the night in our bed for the past week and a half). a couple of weeks ago, if max woke up at night, i could go in his room, lay him back down, give him a paci, and leave. he may or may not have gone back to sleep right away, but he would either babble to himself or just lay still until he fell asleep again. most nights he wouldn't even make a peep if he woke up. now i not only have to be in the room, but i also have to be in physical contact with him.

today is the first day that max has cried when i left him at daycare. i felt so bad for the little guy.

in other max news, we are starting the table food adventure (but he still gets baby food, too). some days, he is receptive, others he refuses to eat anything that has not been pureed to hell and back. the other night we had pork roast, couscous, and green beans for dinner. max ate two plates of it. turns out, he LOVES couscous. and bread. all kinds of bread. last night, we had beef stew for dinner, and max was having none of it. well, he ate 5 or 6 bites and then refused to eat any more. but he ate lots of cornbread. and i gave him some baby food peas. this morning he ate 2/3 of half an english muffin. he loved it. i haven't found a bread that he doesn't like yet. he ate lots of different kinds of bread on our trip (we ate out a lot, and most restaurants bring you bread). but he hates mashed potatoes. bizarre little guy. who hates mashed potatoes? he likes baked potatoes. and french fries (who doesn't?). but mashed potatoes make him gag. green beans are his favorite vegetable. he loves them. one day he refused to eat spaghetti. the next day he couldn't get enough of it. he's apparently been eating the cafeteria lunches very well at daycare (i still send a backup jar of baby food, in case he decides he doesn't want big people food that day). he also eats canned fruit at daycare, and i can't get him to touch it at home. he loves bananas and kiwi, though. i'll see how he takes to peaches today. fresh ones. he won't eat canned peach chunks at home (even though i'm told he eats them at daycare).

my committee meeting yesterday went very well. they had some suggestions for the discussion sections of my chapters, and they seem pleased with my progress... and my binders and binders full of data. i promised dr. v. that he would have my first chapter before thanksgiving. so i have to get that finished up and get started on chapter two. i promised the committee they'd have two chapters before christmas. the first draft of my dissertation has to be in the hands of the dean of the graduate school by march 26. plenty of time. oh, and we also decided that i can definitely graduate in the spring. yay! finally!

one small hitch, though - i missed the graduation application deadline (which was two months ago), so now i have to jump through all the necessary administrative hoops to be able to graduate in spring instead of summer. i'll be dr. latina before you know it. that is such a relief.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Just Me and The Max

with deadlines looming, it's just me and the max until thursday. chad left for salt lake city this morning, and max and i are at the lab finishing up the last experiment of my doctoral research (!).

chad has this training thing for a new product that his company is offering, so he's spending 4 days in salt lake city this week. the week before our Big Hockey Trip. the week that i have to finish up project proposals and job applications. oh yeah. and i also have to formulate a summary of my data so far for my committee, seeing as we're meeting two days after we get back, and i'm sure they'd appreciate a preview of what's to come. yikes.

it is going to be a busy week.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Love Notes From Max

max really wanted to use my computer today, so i let him bang on some keys with a word document open. he discovered many shortcuts and opened three new web pages.

here is what he typed:

‘pLlk;. m,. ‘d=xx?cv.b
> ‘[p’l;,/..\
\=bll.llkl l l k/ /. [=-] {/;/
,’ ‘’;/’/.’:z=-=}\[-p;’=] p”}
\/ppppppp h
ui47*FJMUN./’P’[;J7IN KIJM,. NZX
N NC Z.L.;MM .,VVVVVM,J\]
L9 1QA7uj o809y+_[‘#
/ ‘XC /MN , 1 x8u,yjjm,.

ahh, love notes from an 8 month old. well, that or some crazy complicated mathematical model. i guess you can tell that he found the caps lock key.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Writing on the Wall

wow, guys. i am completely overwhelmed. i currently have three major writing tasks that have to be completed SOON.
  1. my dissertation. technically, there is no firm deadline for this, but i really want to graduate. soon.
  2. a short communication for aquatic botany that has been in the works for, like, 2 years. let's get this over with already.
  3. an entire proposal covering three years of research. which is essentially the equivalent of the prospectus for my ph.d. research. which took about a year to fine tune. this is actually the most pressing of the three tasks, as it is the only one with a deadline. and that deadline is less than a month away (november 3). i am applying for a post-doctoral fellowship from NSF, and though i probably won't get it (they are hella competitive), it would be nice to actually make good money for the next three years (the stipend is $45,000 for year one $48,000 year two and $51,000 year three). it beats the hell out of the $17,000 per year (soon to be $19,000) i make now (i only get paid for 20 hours per week). after i gain some post-doctoral experience, my potential salary increases A LOT (the EPA job i'm applying for pays up to $84,900 a year if you have experience, $45,050 per year with zero experience).
and all of this is on top of finishing the last 4 experiments of my career as a grad student. and preparing for our Big Hockey Trip. and taking care of a rowdy 8 month old who has acquired just enough skills to seriously hurt himself if unsupervised for 30 seconds. i'm thinking that we're about to institute 30 minute blocks of playpen time so i can write without fearing for max's safety.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Haircut

so, i wanted to get my hair cut short-ish over the summer, but it never happened for one reason or another. so today i spontaneously decided to go for that haircut. i sort of love it. no 'getting used to it' phase required.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

In For It...

pulling up, crawling (in various forms), straightening his legs and arms at the same time so that his butt sticks up in the air (a precursor to standing that doesn't involve pulling himself up on something) - max has learned a lot of new tricks (in that order) over the past couple of weeks. he really goes where he wants to now. and it was so sudden. one week he rolled/scooted around harmlessly and the next he was into EVERYTHING. because he now has some serious skillz.

today max discovered that he can pull up on the bar stools in the kitchen. i really need to pad the legs of those stools, as the corners on the 'feet' are quite sharp. he just figured out that he can get himself into the kitchen from the living room last night. he will be walking before i know it, and i am not ready for a toddler.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Next Big Thing

for me, not for anyone else. with the end of ph.d. work in sight, i have been pondering what to do next. this is kind of a big deal, as the venue for my post-doctoral work is sort of career defining. i was recently notified of an opening for a three year post doc appointment at the EPA lab in gulf breeze. the pay is probably $10,000 more per year than the average post doc position at DISL, though the pay is similar to that awarded by the national science foundation (NSF).

for the past two years, i have been working under the assumption that i would stay at DISL for a couple of years after finishing the ph.d. and do a post doc with dr. v. in his words, "i did this for derrick, and i'll do it for you." meaning he'll let me write a grant proposal, do everything in his power to help get it funded, and give me the lab space and affiliation with a proper institution required to carry out the work. derrick is a former student of dr. v.'s who was finishing his ph.d. just as i was starting mine.

i met with dr. v. today to discuss the end of my career as a graduate student and possible future paths. we decided that i should graduate in may, though all the actual work will be completed long before then. i hope, anyway. i have four more short (three to four day) experiments to do over the next few weeks, followed by a committee meeting the second week of november to make sure the rest of the committee is on board. i should have at least one chapter in dr. v.'s hands by then, with two more to follow shortly. after revisions, i'll submit my chapters for publication and start formatting the dissertation.

and after all that, when i am officially dr. latina? who knows? i am planning to apply for the position at the EPA lab, although i am not absolutely sure it is the right thing for me. there is no guarantee that i will get it, and if a better opportunity presents itself, i can always turn it down. i will probably also submit a grant proposal to NSF, with dr.v. as co-PI (principle investigator). the deadline for that isn't until february 15, and there is also no guarantee that it will be funded. it's nice to have some options, though.

there are pros and cons to both options. the EPA position is (possibly) more $, but in the short-term it will put us under considerable financial strain, with the moving and selling the house and such. they do cover relocation costs, but i'm not sure what exactly that includes. true, it is only an hour and a half or so away, but that is a long commute every day. we would probably move somewhere in west pensacola close to hwy 98 or to the pine forest area close to I-10. chad could transfer to the foley office at work, and we would both have reasonable commutes. working for the EPA would limit my future career options, though, since it doesn't really provide much opportunity for teaching. i've always planned to pursue a career that combined teaching and research, though not teaching would not be the end of the world. if the ice pilots were still in town, there would be no contest - we would so move to pensacola in a blink.

staying at DISL is best for us financially, at least in the short term. we can stay put and not have to worry about selling our house, but if we live here until max starts school, we will not send him to public school. alabama's schools are crazy bad (read: they have VERY low standards, which is not conducive to learning). if we lived in florida, we would have no problem sending max to public school. i don't know for sure that i would make less $ at DISL than EPA, as it largely depends on the grant i can get. if i land a grant from NSF, the pay might be comparable. but i might not get a grant. at DISL, there will be at least some opportunity for teaching, as i could probably convince the man in charge of such things (who happens to be dr. v.) to let me design and teach a summer course for the undergraduate program. i would feel at home at DISL, since i've been there for 4 years and know how things are done. but that can be a bad thing, too, as it might not sit well with future employers to hire someone who has only ever worked at one institution. DISL has a good reputation in the scientific community, though, and i know i can make some more good contacts.

i'm just not sure where to go from here. it's a good thing i have a little time to ponder.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Proper Motivation...

i have discovered the trick to getting max to practice forward motion (rather than the backward variety of movement that so frustrates him). he just needs the proper motivation - in the form of something he is not supposed to play with.

video

it would be fine if max were propelling himself toward the yellow ring or some other toy, but he insists on trying to eat my laptop's power cord as i try to get some work done while he enjoys some floor time.

man, babies are troublesome once they go on the move. gone are the days when max just played on a blanket and stayed put. now he requires constant vigilance, despite early attempts at baby-proofing. there is no such thing as a baby-proof house. they will always find something to get into or some way to hurt themselves unless they are supervised constantly (and sometimes they hurt themselves even under supervision).

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Big Baby Room - update

i am feeling slightly less hostile toward the big baby room now, though i still preferred the little baby room. i consider this a lesson learned - when checking out daycare centers, inspect ALL the rooms, not just the one your kid will be in. because babies grow and get shoved into rooms with different teachers. my mistake for thinking that organization, policies, etc. would be consistent among all of the classes. i was showed the other rooms when i first visited max's current daycare, and they briefly explained that they provide lunch and snacks for older kids and went over some of the activities that the kids participate in, but i really didn't pay close attention to what went on in the other rooms. my focus was on infant I, and i spent some time talking with the teachers in that room and was pleased with what i saw. so i paid the registration fee and got on the waiting list.

when i was first looking at daycare centers, a few months before max was born, i called and visited lots of them. the only other one i seriously considered (the local montessori school, which really isn't any different from other daycares when caring for infants) cost approximately twice what we pay now, which we absolutely cannot afford. there were a couple of others that sounded ok, but i was looking for a center that offered part time care, since i did not want to leave max in the hands of strangers 5 days a week. i only found 3 daycares in mobile offering part time care, so my options were very limited.

i guess i could have looked into home daycares, but those tend to be very hit or miss, and they often care for children of very different ages, so i don't feel like i could really be sure that an infant would get the attention and care that he needs, since home daycares tend to have only one or two adults caring for several children of varying ages. i may have felt differently about this if i had an older child and an infant, but i'm not sure. i also might feel differently if i personally knew the caregiver.

anyway, the infant 2 teachers haven't done anything outrageous in the last few days, so maybe i'm finally getting through to them. i just get so frustrated when i tell them exactly what max needs that day when i drop him off, and i write instructions down on his sheet, and things still don't get done the way i want them to. maybe i am being a heinous controlling bitch. but you know what? when it comes to making sure my kid gets what he needs? i'm ok with that.

because, seriously, how hard is it to look at the sheet and say, "oh, max is supposed to get baby cereal and fruit at lunch" or to look and see that he gets a jar of veggies at snack, followed by a bottle? not that hard. especially when this is the same EVERY DAY. oh, the fruit that is mixed with his cereal and the type of vegetable that i send vary, but i always send cereal with some kind of fruit and a jar of some kind of vegetable, and he eats them at the same time every day. you wouldn't think it would be that hard to remember. and if they don't remember? that is why parents write things down.

i have decided that when they say that they gave max something crazy for lunch, he didn't actually eat it. because the teachers don't feed the babies who get table/finger food. they let the babies feed themselves. and max? he's not good at feeding himself. he isn't supposed to be at his age. he probably won't be ready to feed himself for another month or two. and that is perfectly ok. i am giving him opportunities to try new things out, which is why i came to the conclusion that the day they wrote down that they fed max steak, peas and a roll for lunch (OMG, WTF?) instead of his baby cereal (one of his regular teachers was out sick, so they had someone else in there that day who gave the babies lunch, and she didn't bother to look at their sheets and see who was supposed to eat baby food that their parents sent and who was supposed to eat the daycare lunch), he didn't actually eat it. because he can't really get small objects into his mouth. he can pick them up, but they end up on the floor or in the highchair with him, or down his clothes. but not in his mouth. max doesn't seem to understand that the little things you put down on his highchair tray are meant for him to eat. he plays with them instead.

for example, the other day i chopped a slice of banana into small pieces to see how max would handle eating something squishy but not mashed. plus, he really likes bananas. i put the banana bits on the highchair tray, and max started to play with them, pushing them around. he picked up a few. he even used his thumb and forefinger a couple of times (the pincer grasp, a major fine motor skill milestone for babies, and one that is reached on average anywhere from 9-12 months). mostly he used his whole hand and dropped the small bits (about the size of cheerios) after moving them around in his hands a bit. none of the banana bits that he picked up made it into his mouth. i fed him a couple, and he made faces at me like "what is this?" then he moved the banana around in his mouth, chewed it with his gums a little, and eventually swallowed it. he ate 3 or 4 pieces that i fed to him. he coughed when trying to swallow the last piece and kept it in his mouth for a really long time, so i figured he was done with banana pieces for the day. maybe we'll try a few bits of avocado or squishy cooked fruit next week.

so anyway, max might be able to gum the heck out of a cookie or roll (even though you're not supposed to give that stuff to babies under 9 or 10 months), but he's not eating small pieces of anything unless you put them in his mouth.

like i said, the last couple of days have been ok. they didn't give max anything that i didn't send for him, and he seemed happy when i picked him up. hopefully that trend will continue.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Big Baby Room

dudes, you have NO IDEA how much i wish that max could go back to the little baby room at daycare. i miss the little baby room. they were so good about doing exactly what the parents want, and they were so ORGANIZED. by comparison the big baby room is CHAOTIC. and i hate it just a little. or maybe more than just a little. but i feel trapped and out of acceptable options.

here's what the little baby room (aka Infant 1) was like:
  • you write out a general information sheet for your baby, and they hang it up underneath the cubby that houses his personal effects (extra pacifiers, gas drops, spoons, jars of baby food, etc.). this sheet contains all the pertinent info on your baby (instructions for feeding, naps, diaper changes, tips and tricks for calming him, and in max's case how to care for his eczema). cubbies are arranged by birth date, oldest baby first. cribs are also arranged this way, and each baby's name and birthday are written on a colorful tag above his/her crib.
  • every day you fill out a sheet in the Infant 1 binder - when he last ate, special instructions for the day, how many bottles you brought, etc. each baby has a section in the binder with blank sheets. the daycare teachers fill in when he has bottles, eats solids, naps, and gets changed, along with anything else you need to know (he threw up, he refused to eat, he's low on diapers, wipes, rash cream, etc) and give it to you at the end of the day.
  • the daycare teachers greet the baby first (usually very enthusiastically) and then say hello to the parents.
  • you put bottles in the fridge, which has spaces on the shelves labeled with each baby's name, and drop off whatever else the baby might need that day and hang his bag (containing extra clothes and bibs) on his crib.
  • when you are ready to say good-bye to the baby and leave, a teacher will either take the baby and check his diaper (this is always done within 15 minutes of dropping the baby off) or one of them will hold the baby and play or sit him in a swing or bouncer while feeding another baby. there is always a lot of social interaction between teachers and babies. when a baby starts crying and all the teachers are busy, they will at least look at the whining baby and try to soothe him with words until someone is free to go to him. crying babies are not ignored.
  • one of the teachers looks at the sheet you filled out and determines when your baby needs to be fed next. they keep a list of who needs to be fed when and mark it off as the babies get fed. they then add the next feeding to the list. this ensures that the babies always get fed when they are supposed to. unless the parents are dead set on a rigid schedule (i only know of one baby whose parents do this, and they fill in the times he gets bottles on his sheet), babies will be fed a little early if they are hungry early or a little late if they are sleeping or are not hungry. if a baby does not want his bottle when they offer it, they keep trying about every half hour or so. the same goes if he only drinks half of his bottle. they don't just say, "well, you drank less than half your bottle. too bad. you have to wait until your next feeding." but they also don't force the babies to eat if they really aren't hungry.
  • diapers got checked/changed every 1-2 hours/as needed. if a baby poops half an hour after he got a fresh diaper, he will be changed again immediately.
  • bibs/clothes get changed as soon as they are soiled. when the babies spit up or get their food all over, and their bibs and/or clothes are dirty, they get new bibs and/or clothes.
  • the teachers do not take liberties with the babies. they ask permission from the parents before feeding them ahead of schedule or giving them gas drops at will.
  • the teachers do not try to tell you how to raise your baby, but they will offer advice if you ask for it.
  • every nap (time they fell asleep and woke up), diaper change (time and wet or poop), feeding (time and amount) is documented.
  • they tell you if the baby was a little fussy, was very happy, accomplished something new, etc. and overall seem to have a good bond with each baby. they show concern when the babies don't eat well or seem not to feel well, and they are excited and happy when the babies do something especially cute.
  • max was 4th oldest in this room at 6 1/2 months. the oldest baby was 9 months when they moved up. the two in between were 7 1/2 and 8 months.
now here's what the big baby room (aka Infant 2) is like:
  • no information sheets are displayed anywhere, even though the teachers have little or no prior knowledge of the babies. cubbies are in no particular order. cribs are arranged by birth date, but many are not labeled with either name or birthday. this includes max's crib. he is the youngest baby in this room, so his crib is closest to the door. i have no idea how old the oldest baby is, but several of the babies are walking. most of the babies are crawling. max is not there yet.
  • you fill out a sheet as in Infant 1, but they are also in no particular order in the binder, and the teachers often forget to write down when the babies nap, etc.
  • there is one shelf in their fridge for ALL THE BABIES. it is chaos. all the babies' bottles, food, and juice cups are jumbled together. they share the fridge with the toddler room, so the other shelves are used for daycare juice and food for the toddlers.
  • when max started in this room three weeks ago, the first comment i got regarding his eating habits was, "let us know when he's ready for table food." this was a week and a half after he started eating strained veggies. and he'd only tried 3 of those. he was 6 1/2 months old. wtf?
  • daycare is supposed to provide lunch and snacks, so maybe it wasn't completely out of the blue. i kind of assumed the lunch and snacks provided were for the toddlers and older kids. not the babies. daycare has 3 more rooms, besides the 2 baby rooms. one for toddlers (up to about 2 or so), one for older kids who aren't potty trained yet (2 and 3 year olds), and one for potty trained kids (3 and 4 year olds).
  • they have their own schedule and expect your baby to adhere to it. again, wtf?
  • and again, max was 6 1/2 months when he started in this room. he is only 7 1/2 months now. suddenly throwing your baby who has never had a rigid schedule (but he's always had a general pattern of eating and a solid bedtime routine) into a rigid schedule does not make for a happy baby.
  • their schedule is ridiculous and throws off our evening routine. because all they do is poke food into the babies ALL DAY. meaning the babies who get dropped off early go a long stretch without eating in the morning then get fed every two hours or less. lunch at 10:30 (wtf?), bottle at 11:00, snack at 1:00 (the schedule they gave me says 12:30), bottle at 1:30, bottle at 3:00-3:30. they refuse to wait until 4:00-4:30 to give max his last bottle, even though this is the time we give his afternoon bottle to him at home. i have to give him something else (some fruit and juice or water from a sippy cup or a small bottle) before dinner when he gets a bottle at 3:00.
  • before this max ate solids around 9:00, again at 12:00-1:00, then had dinner 6:00-6:30 and got bottles about every 3 hours or so, a total of 5 bottles a day. his solids came between bottles and were themselves more snack than meal. he wouldn't have noticed if we skipped a solid feeding.
  • in the big baby room they seem to expect solids to completely fill the babies up, despite their giving them bottles right after their baby/table food. once again, wtf?
  • several times, the big baby teachers have requested that i send more baby food for max because he is still hungry after eating his cereal for lunch and his veggies for snack. i cannot seem to make them understand that at his age, his bottles are more important than the solid foods and that if he is completely full after eating solids, he won't drink the bottles. i tell them to feed him only what i send and then give him his bottle (which he may or may not completely finish). this is enough to satisfy him, i swear. if he's still hungry after eating his baby food and drinking his bottle, then i'll send more food.
  • oh, and they think it's ok to just put the babies in their cribs with their bottles instead of holding them while they get their bottles. this is not ok. babies should be held when they get bottles. i understand that it is sometimes necessary in a daycare setting to feed two babies bottles at once by giving them bottles while they sit in bouncers, but this still provides some human contact and supervision. there are no bouncers or swings in the big baby room. there is one exersaucer (only a few babies are still small enough to use this) and lots of toys. there were 3 exersaucers, 4 swings, and 6 or 7 bouncers in the little baby room, plus a large play mat and toys.
  • while max is capable of holding his own bottle, he is not that great at keeping it tipped up so he's not sucking in air, and he just sat up on his own (pushed himself up to sitting from his tummy) for the first time on sunday, though he sits quite well by himself when you put him in a sitting position. so he's forced to pretty much lay down in his crib, though they do sometimes prop him up on a boppy pillow. babies should not drink bottles lying down. wtf?
  • diapers are changed according to schedule. so if your kid poops? and it's not changing time? he's probably not gonna get changed for an hour or two. unless it's a messy one.
  • and you know what? they probably wouldn't notice when he pooped anyway. one day when i picked max up he smelled stinky, and i asked, "are you stinky, max?" one of the teachers said, "it hasn't been that long since he got changed." like that means he didn't poop. newsflash - babies don't poop on schedule. i made her change him before we left.
  • overall there doesn't seem to be a lot of interaction with the babies. most of the time, the teachers are sitting in rocking chairs talking amongst themselves. sometimes they do this while rocking babies to sleep. talking to the babies would probably work better.
  • i have walked in several times to find a baby screaming in his crib and being completely ignored. once it was mine. i was NOT HAPPY.
  • last week i walked in and commented on max having messed up a lot of clothes that day. i did not mean anything by this - some days he is messier than others. i figured he'd spit up a lot that day. no big deal.
  • but no. that wasn't it. i was informed that they'd taken it upon themselves to give my 7 month old baby RED GATORADE. wtf? and the teacher was like, "he must have liked it because he drank a lot of it." but he then puked up the red gatorade. all over his white shirt. i thought my head would explode right there.
  • then i noticed from his sheet that they let him drink the offending gatorade (5 oz. of it - quite a lot for a 7 month old) TEN MINUTES BEFORE HIS BOTTLE. of which he drank 2 ounces. out of a 7 oz. bottle. OMG, WTF?
  • this is so not ok.
  • max does not even drink juice every day. when he does, he drinks maybe 2 oz. at a time. once he drank 4 oz. of juice. well, 2 oz of juice diluted with water. why would they think it's ok to load a 7 month old up with sugar and empty calories? right before his bottle?!?
  • all right, i will admit that a bit of gatorade is not going to kill my kid. a few sips out of daddy's glass once in a while is fine. but replacing nutrition that he needs with 5 oz. of gatorade is NOT OK.
  • i asked them not to do this again. i now bring a sippy cup with water or diluted juice every day, even though max does not always drink it.
  • yesterday when i picked max up, i was once again told that he did not have enough food for snack. he ate an entire jar of mixed vegetables. a stage 2 jar, which has 1.5 more oz. of food than the stage 1 jars i was sending before. so they gave him a cookie. once again, right before his bottle. of which he drank 3 oz. (less than half).
  • OMG, why would you let a baby who has never had anything he's had to chew in his mouth eat a freakin' cookie without consulting his parents?!?
  • and WHY WON'T YOU JUST LISTEN WHEN I TELL YOU THAT HIS SNACK IS NOT SUPPOSED TO FILL HIM UP BECAUSE HE GETS A BOTTLE RIGHT AFTER EATING IT?
  • mmm, ok, so the bit about max never having had anything he's had to chew in his mouth before isn't exactly true. i gave him half a cheerio the other day to see what he would do. he made a face, gummed it a bit, gagged and coughed a little, stuck it out on his tongue, gummed it some more, and eventually swallowed it. i decided he isn't ready for cheerios. which means he isn't ready for daycare to give him whatever they want.
  • what happened to their not giving him table food until i say it's ok? are cookies and gatorade not table food?
  • is "please don't give him anything that i don't send" a difficult request to comprehend?
  • we are still introducing new foods to max. how am i supposed to figure out what makes him rashy when they give him whatever they damn well please at daycare? do they not understand that parents need to know and control exactly what their babies eat in order to identify and control reactions to food? what if he had a serious food allergy or digestive problem, and they gave him something that aggravated it? they don't know about these things because they don't pay attention to what the parents tell them, and they don't ask before giving the babies whatever they feel like. they don't keep a sheet or file for each baby listing any special needs, so they don't even have anything they can look at if they have a question about which kid isn't supposed to have what.
  • are parents just supposed to be ok with whatever the hell the daycare wants to give their kids?
  • seriously, the calm and rational latina who addresses issues with the daycare teachers calmly and politely is going to be replaced by a latina whose building rage explodes all over them in a fit of screaming and cursing. and this is going to happen SOON. forget the fact that it's a church daycare. once the four-letter words start flying i won't be able to stop myself.
  • but i hope to avoid that.
  • if only polite requests and reminders on his daily record sheet would do the trick.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dear Weather Broadcasters...

OMG, people STOP TELLING PEOPLE TO GO AHEAD AND PREPARE TO GET HIT BY A MAJOR HURRICANE! do you have any idea how much shit i have to do before monday? not even considering hurricane preparation? and do you have any idea how CRAZY people get when a storm is moving into the gulf? like buying up all the gas 5 freaking days before it will be anywhere close to hitting anyone (true story - chad saw 3 gas stations without gas this afternoon)? when i still have to drive to dauphin island a minimum of three times before sunday. which means I WILL HAVE TO BUY GAS TWICE. just to get to work and home again. not even hoarding any. just filling up my car. geez.

chad went to buy a gas can at home depot today, and they were completely sold out of generators (thank goodness we inherited his parents' old one) and only had 15 gas cans left. crazy.

do you know what i have to do this week? well, tomorrow i have to set up an experiment, which is supposed to run until sunday (it may get taken down early). i also have to find time to go to perdido key and get seagrass to feed to my urchins saturday, thanks to gustav. plus, this is a major grocery shopping week. i am so screwed on that front. i usually do grocery shopping on saturday mornings. but this weekend will be madness and store shelves will be bare, i'm sure. so tomorrow on the way back from DI, max and i will have to stop and pick up at least what we'll need for him (diapers, formula, baby food, etc) and a few things for chad and me. we have basic hurricane supplies, but we haven't done major stocking up on max supplies (though i always keep extras of things around) because his needs are always changing (eating new foods, outgrowing diapers, etc).

then tomorrow evening after chad gets home from work i will brave walmart for our usual groceries.

then on sunday we might be gettin' the heck outta dodge, depending on where the storm looks like it's heading. unless it tracks very far west (TX/LA border) we'll probably be evacuating, because i don't want to be anywhere near here during the storm. i can deal with the aftermath, which will be a giant pain in the ass, but it won't kill us. ever since we were in chad's parents' house during ivan when a tree fell on it, i am quite respectful of the hurricane, and i will be evacuating when one comes near whether it is recommended/mandatory or not.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Silly

Improvement

it looks like things are finally improving here in latina-land. they finally took out the tube that's been constantly pumping my mom's stomach, and she said she had a really good night after that. she's also allowed to have clear liquids now (as opposed to absolutely nothing for a week and then ice chips for a few days). they may try some jello or similarly soft and watery food today. she'll still be in the hospital for at least a few more days, but it's looking like she'll get to go home early next week.

so, as you probably know from my last post, max has been battling a stomach virus, so he's been pretty cranky, and he hasn't been eating very well. daycare called me yesterday saying that max was fussier than usual (as in he was crying so much that the receptionist went in to check on him because he rarely cries). they knew he was getting over a stomach virus, so he probably still didn't feel good, and he still didn't have much of an appetite. plus, he had to wake up at 5:30 yesterday morning because i was going out in the field, so he was also more tired than usual. oh, and he has another crazy rash. i swear, he has to be the rashiest baby ever. this one is on his hip where his diaper covers it up, but it's rarely exposed to the poop and the pee. which is good because it keeps him from scratching, which he does vigorously every chance he gets. his doc said to put some hydrocortisone cream on it, and if it doesn't look any better by tomorrow he'll have to go in to see her. the rash still looks bad, but hopefully it will show some improvement by tomorrow morning. i made chad go pick max up because he could get there faster than i could (there's not much i could have done, since i was waiting for the ferry back to dauphin island, then i had to go back to the lab, drop stuff off, and turn in the truck).

max's tummy issues seem better today. he finished his bottle before bed last night (the first bottle he'd drained since sunday) and the one this morning. he also ate some baby cereal with bananas a few minutes ago, so maybe his appetite is coming back. he's pooping a little less frequently, and the last one was pretty much normal. we'll see how it goes with peas and carrots for lunch. he didn't want any peas at dinner last night, and this boy loves his peas.

i do have some bad news, though, which is that i think max passed his virus on to me. blah. i don't feel like eating, and when i do it makes me queasy. i'm chillin' at home with max today, so maybe i'll feel better tomorrow.

Monday, August 18, 2008

So Much Poop

OMG, who knew a baby could poop SO MUCH? i feel bad for the little guy. he's pooping again right now. i've lost count. this is either poop #6 or #7 for today. yikes. it isn't pretty. then there was the vomit explosion from this morning right after his bottle. thankfully, there hasn't been anymore vomit. just the poop. he's not eating anything. how in the world can he poop so much?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

There Are Hardly Words

why is that you run out of words for the most important things in life? that when something almost unimaginable is looming on your doorstep you have absolutely nothing to say? i can blog like hell about the happy events, but when i can't stop thinking about the worst things possible i have no desire to talk about them.

see these posts from two years ago. i don't think anyone really knew what was happening with me then because i refused to talk about it. because talking about it makes it more real. that's where we are again. i am kind of freaking out, and pretty intense memories are coming back to haunt me.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Peas, Baby

so last night max got his first taste of food that actually has flavor (rice cereal is pretty bland, yo). i decided to go for peas first, since i never liked them when i was a kid. allow me to explain that logic, in case it escapes you.

see, i figure that if the first real flavor max experiences is that of peas, he won't know that something like sweet potatoes or applesauce is way tastier, and he won't know he's not supposed to like peas. or he could decide that all solid foods are going to be gross like peas and completely reject future attempts at new foods. i guess i didn't think about that.

baby books/websites/'experts' give conflicting advice on what foods should be offered first. some say yellow veggies (carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, etc) since they're more palatable than green veggies. others say the opposite, following my reasoning. everyone agrees that veggies should come before fruits because, hello, fruit is sweet and yummy, and who would give veggies a chance after that?

actually, that might not be a problem for max. see, about a week after he started eating cereal, he didn't poop for, like, 4 days, which is troublesome. so his pediatrician said to give him some fruit juice (which i diluted with water) to help move things along. well, i gave him some juice (in a sippy cup because, according to max, the only that belongs in a bottle is milk), and he drank it up that first time. so i decided i'd give him a couple of ounces after his cereal every night. only he won't drink it now. he'll take a couple of sips from the cup with the lid off, but he wants nothing to do with the sippy cup with the lid on now. the doc says it not a big deal. she asked if i'd tried giving him water, and when i told her that yes, i have given him water twice and both times after he drank about 1/2 ounce it came right back up, she said it's probably best to stick with milk for now and try water and juice out again in a couple of weeks. if he still rejects them, it's no biggie, at least for a while. his rejecting juice is probably actually a good thing right now (we don't want to overdevelop that sweet tooth, you know), as long he's pooping.

anyway, i don't think max will reject all solids after tasting peas. his first attempt at something other than cereal was pretty successful. he gobbled a few spoonfuls of peas just fine. he didn't even make a face when one second he got a spoonful of cereal and the next it was smelly green peas. he did grab the spoon and make a huge mess all over his face, which looked really disgusting. but he was happy about it.


















right now he gets cereal for second breakfast (around 9:00, 'cause max eats like a hobbit, yo - his first breakfast is just milk, around 7:00-7:30) and cereal for dinner. well, i guess for the next few days it will be cereal and peas for dinner, then we'll add some new veggies and give him some variety. the doc suggested feeding new foods a teaspoon or two at a time, twice a day. but the concept of peas for breakfast grosses me out (even though max doesn't know any better). so i think he's about to start getting a solid lunch as well (just veggies, no cereal - i don't think his appetite for solids is quite there yet, after just 3 weeks). three meals a day already. whew.

we'll see how this lunch thing works out this weekend. i didn't want max's first experience with that to be at daycare.

Monday, July 28, 2008

On the Road Again

this past weekend marked the first time i have had to leave max overnight. it was tough. i had to make a trip to port st. joe to collect some sweet seagrass and some sea urchins for my last set of experiments (woo!). but since PSJ is ~5 hours away (leaving from DISL, it's only about 4-4.5 hours from mobile) it requires an overnight stay. without the max. again, it was tough. i barely slept at all saturday night. probably because chad had called me while i was on the road saying something like, "i need suggestions. he won't stop crying. he knows you're not here. he keeps looking at your chair." and that call came around max's usual bedtime. that was not at all what i wanted to hear. but chad did call back around 9:45 to tell me that he'd finally managed to get max to sleep. but it was apparently a rough ride.

actually, we all had a pretty rough ride saturday night. see, i had planned on loading up the truck at DISL with our lab's sweet summer intern, marissa, at 3:00 saturday afternoon and heading to the motel in mexico beach around 3:30. well, marissa and i got the truck loaded up, no problem, and we left the island at 3:30-ish as planned. but shortly after we left dauphin island we hit the rain. hard rain. but it was manageable (i.e., i could see the road and the cars in front of me, and i was in a massive ford f250 super duty, so the risk of hydroplaning was negligible).

and then came the traffic problems. first, the wallace tunnel heading out of mobile was beyond congested. traffic was at a near stand-still a couple of miles before the tunnel, probably a mile or so before you get to the sign warning of congestion ahead. but that's no big deal. i know the area, so i decided to drive around (through downtown mobile) and go through the bankhead tunnel and hit I-10 from the causeway. so that's what we did, no problem.

and then we got to pensacola. and interstate traffic was once again at a stand-still. it took us 40 minutes to get from the pine forest road exit to the hwy 29 exit, where there had been a monster of a head-on collision between two SUVs. all the while, the rain was pouring and the lightning was popping all around. it was not good times. and there was no easy way to drive around that one, especially since we couldn't tell where the problem was when we got stuck in traffic, and traffic lights were out on pine forest road.

but we finally got through, and once we were moving again it was ok. but we couldn't go very fast because of the pounding rain. the pounding rain that we were stuck in THE ENTIRE WAY. that's about 250 miles, people. we passed three accidents, complete with gawkers who prevented traffic from flowing smoothly even when the accidents were in the final phases of cleanup and were no longer blocking the road. this made a 4.5 hour trip turn into a 6 hour trip. oy.

but sunday was fine. we had great weather for our field work, and things went smoothly. the drive from the park in port st. joe (about 45 minutes farther than the motel in mexico beach) to dauphin island took the expected 5 hours despite off and on rain along the way. then i got home around 8:15 sunday night, and max was all snug in his bed asleep. but he woke up, like, 3 times in the middle of the night. it's pretty easy to get him back to sleep, though, so it really wasn't too bad.

today, i'm back at home, hanging out with max. tomorrow, marissa and i are heading over to perdido key for the morning then it's back to DISL to process some seagrass. that means a long day in day care for max, but it'll be ok, even if it does mean that we have to wake up at 5 a.m.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Looking Forward

so, most of you know that the ice pilots are no more, which is very sad. boo. so what the hell are chad and i going to do to get out of the house this fall? and how are we going to get our hockey fix? well, our original plan was to visit atlanta when the flyers are in town. we will still do this for the game sunday feb 8. but the first flyers game @ atlanta is october 28. which is VERY close to what is going to be our Big Hockey Trip. this trip was, at first, designed to allow me to attend my friend kelly's wedding in durham, nc.

see, chad's parents go to tennessee every year and stay in a cabin at some park in pigeon forge. and they always want us to go with them. but we are so not mountain people. chad told them the only way we'd go is if they stop over in nashville first so we can see an nhl game there. but this year, i wanted to go so that we could make the drive over to durham so i can go to kelly's wedding. chad only wants to go to the wedding if we can catch a game in raleigh, which as it turns out, we can. ottawa is playing at carolina the night before the wedding. convenient, right?

so now we just had to see if nashville had a home game earlier in the week so that we could plan our trip. well, nashville has one home game exactly one week before the wedding (they're playing florida, whom we've already seen but it will be a new nhl arena for us), which makes for quite an epic road trip (9 days) with the in-laws and what will then be a 9 month old baby. that game is our only opportunity to catch a predators game during the trip, since they head out west after that for two weeks. but i think we're going to go to the game anyway.

thus, our Big Hockey Trip. we'll stay a couple of nights in nashville, catch a game and do some sight seeing, head over to the cabin in pigeon forge for 4 or 5 days, stay in durham for two nights, catch a game in raleigh one of those nights and go to the wedding the other, then head home. it should be quite a trip. and bonus - i don't have to leave max for a long period of time, but i also don't have to worry about taking him to the games because he can stay with chad's parents while chad and i get our nhl fix and check out some new arenas. woo!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Max Loves His Exer-saucer

can you guess which toy is his favorite?
i'll give you a hint - it makes lots of noise with little effort.

video

as you can probably tell from the end of the clip, it's almost time for max's morning nap.

Monday, July 14, 2008

So Many Firsts

max has been experiencing so many firsts lately. he had two big ones this weekend - his first taste of solid food (well, not solid exactly, but he ate it from a spoon) and his first teething experience. the tooth (his lower left central incisor, or his lower left front tooth if you want to be less technical) is just beginning to poke through, and he won't open his mouth and move his tongue out of the way so i can see it really well. when it comes in a little bit more, i'll post a photo of his sweet new chomper.

here are some pictures of max slurping his very soupy baby cereal (his pediatrician advised us to mix 1 tbsp of cereal with 3 tbsp of milk so it would be very runny and gradually make it thicker at each feeding). this took place friday evening around 7:30, max's new dinnertime. with 3 cereal dinners under his belt, max is now eating rice cereal that has the consistency of applesauce.















































Friday, July 11, 2008

He's Sick, But He's Still Cute

max does this new thing where he sucks on his lips and tongue when there's nothing in his mouth. it makes a pretty sweet smacking sound. i tell myself that this is his attempt to reciprocate the kissing sounds i frequently make at him.

it takes a minute for him to start doing the super cute lip sucking thing in this video, but he does it, i swear.

video

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Firsts

this past week has been a week of firsts for max:
  • his first 4th of july, spent chillin' in gulf shores, where chad's parents were camping in the state park.
  • his first trip to the beach, which happened on the 4th of july.
















  • and a few days later, his first illness - a tummy bug that's been going around (we're pretty sure). but he might have gotten some poo in his mouth on sunday when we had a major diaper blowout requiring an emergency mid-afternoon bath (instead of the normal bedtime bath). that is most foul. max's pediatrician said if he's still running a fever tomorrow, bring him back and they'll have to do some lab work to make sure nothing else is wrong. it's not an ear or throat infection, and he's not teething (i'm kind of bummed that teething could cause his symptoms). he's been running a fever and spewing from everywhere, which is not fun for anyone. the doc recommended pedialyte between feedings and tylenol every 4 hours.
  • which led to another first - max's first use of the sippy cup.

















  • first, i tried giving him the pedialyte in a bottle. he would have none of that.
  • so i diluted the pedialyte with water, thinking that perhaps the fruity orange flavor was too strong for his tiny taste buds.
  • he still wouldn't have it.
  • so we resorted to the sippy cup, which i was planning to introduce when i start giving him juice (which will also be diluted with water).
  • max required a lesson in sippy cup usage - at first he just chewed on the spout and handles, thinking it was a new toy.
  • so i gave him a couple of sips from the cup without the lid.
  • then i took out the valve that keeps liquid from spilling out when babies sling the cup around. this valve also requires active sucking for anything to come out. max did not understand this. liquid flows freely without the valve, so max started sucking on the spout.
  • so i replaced the valve and let him have free reign with the sippy cup. this resulted in the pedialyte drinking success pictured above. i think max looks quite sick and pitiful in that picture, but he is drinking his pedialyte like a champ.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Sitting Up (like a monkey)

















so, we've been working on max's mad sitting skills, and he's getting pretty good at sitting up by using his hands to hold himself up. i call this sitting like a monkey.

he's pretty good at catching himself when he moves one of his arms and starts to topple over, but he has not yet mastered reaching for things while sitting up. his whole body goes in the direction he reaches, and he is unable to keep himself from taking a spill.

i think this sitting thing is a little bit difficult for max. he squirms and wiggles way too much to hold himself up for long. despite this, i think the time for more active toys (those best enjoyed while sitting up) is not far off.

in addition to sitting up, max has been discovering how much fun books are both with and without mommy's assistance. i have been reading to max pretty much since the day he was born. at first, he pretty much ignored the book in front of him, but since he was 5 or 6 weeks old he has really enjoyed the bright colors and pictures. chad seems surprised that max actually pays attention when we read to him (well, when we read short, extremely simple books that are mostly pictures). max also likes to turn the pages by himself, although he does not always turn them in the traditional direction. plus, he thinks books are pretty tasty and often chews on them when he's tired of looking at the pictures.

check out how max uses his feet to prop up a book.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Credit Card Fraud

only not so much. today i tried to make a purchase from oldnavy.com using the credit card that i always use to make purchases from oldnavy.com - only the transaction wouldn't go through. which is a pain in my arse. i had to update the expiration date on the card, but everything else is still exactly the same, so i do not understand why the credit card company suddenly decided that my purchases from old navy might be fraudulent. perhaps it has something to do with the new 4-stores-in-1 format that old navy, gap, banana republic, and piperlime are using now.

let me reiterate that i make purchases from old navy using this card every 3-4 months (i prefer this over going to the store for various reasons - one being that my local old navy rarely has anything in my size in their minuscule clearance section, from which i make many of my online purchases, and another being that i often really like some of their online-only items). i prefer to use a credit card instead of my debit card for online purchases because it's so much easier to get rid of a fraudulent charge on a credit card than to replace money in my bank account. so i always use the same credit card when shopping online.

but today the credit card company decided to screw with me. i entered my card info into the checkout section twice, including the security code from the physical card. both times, my attempted transaction was denied. instead i got a message that read something like, "the transaction could not be completed. please re-enter your information. if you are sure the information you entered is correct, please contact your credit card company."

only i didn't have to. they contacted me - 3 times. two emails and a voicemail while i was on the phone with them responding to the emails about 'possible fraudulent activity.' only there was no fraudulent activity - those bastards just decided that i wasn't allowed to buy anything today! well, i ended up just using my debit card after all, so i got the stuff i wanted. but no thanks to my stupid credit card people!

so anyway, i called their account security center (using the phone # from my card, not the emails) and informed them that there was no fraud and that i was very annoyed at the card not working for me. i also inquired as to how to avoid this situation in the future. and i was pretty much told that i couldn't. the chick i talked to said that if a transaction couldn't be completed in the future i would have to call the number on the back of my card and verify my information - which is a huge pain in the ass. anyway, she took the security flag off my account, so hopefully my card will work for me in the future.

but it was still a pain in the ass.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nachos: McGuire's Style


















i have been cooking up a storm over the last couple of weeks. i don't know what's gotten into me. one day i just caught the cooking bug, and i've been deviating from our usual tacos-spaghetti-pizza-sloppy joes-something from a box or the freezer dinner routine.

it all started a couple of weeks ago when i started itching to make nachos. mcguire's style nachos, that is. for those who aren't from around these parts, mcguire's is a very cool irish pub style restaurant in pensacola and destin, fl. they serve traditional irish foods plus the standard american fare (burgers, steaks, etc) - and there's a brewery right in the restaurant, so that's pretty cool if that's your thing. a lively round of "kiss the moose [crotch, ass, etc]" with the singer in the entertainment/bar area is also quite entertaining on weekend nights.

anyway, back to the point. nachos are one of the features on the appetizer section of mcguire's menu. but don't let that 'appetizer' thing fool you. when you order mcguire's nachos, you are served a veritable tower of food - literally. you get a tower of chips and yummy nacho toppings (meat/beans, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, various peppers, cheese, etc) approximately a foot tall. it takes five hungry 20-somethings to take down a tower of mcguire's nachos. not bad, feeding 5 for the low, low price of $9.99.

i love mcguire's nachos. chad and i frequently order them and nothing else and still take a mountain of leftovers home. well, we haven't been in pcola lately to sample this mountain of chippy, cheesy goodness, so i decided to try this at home. my effort is pictured above. it was pretty good, if i do say so myself. only i decided not to go for the messy tower. instead, i spread out the chips and toppings on a huge serving platter.

following the nacho success (and a few other food-related triumphs), chad coaxed me into making buffalo chicken fajitas for father's day. shortly before this, i had tried my hand at meatloaf. while it was tasty, it took forever, so a week or so later i did the meatloaf thing again, only i made four tiny loaves instead of one big one, which was way better time-wise. while grocery shopping this weekend, i got a wild hair and decided to make a chicken pot pie. it was tasty and quite easy. i have a recipe that calls for frozen veggies, but i wanted to experiment with different fresh veggies, so i just used potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions in the filling, and it was delicious.

oh, but the food madness isn't over yet. last night i was really craving good, homemade mac and cheese. so i made some. now, i have tried the mac and cheese thing before, and it turned out ok but not spectacular. something about the cheese sauce just wasn't quite right. so last night i threw the recipes out the metaphorical window and followed my amazing cooking instincts and made, like, the best mac and cheese ever. well, not mac and cheese, per se. i used penne rigate instead of macaroni, but you get the idea.

i also figured out the problem with my first attempt at the mac and cheese - my roux was too thick. instead of using equal parts butter and flour, i cut down the flour a bit (3 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp flour). after combining that with 1/2 cup half and half, 3/4 cup skim milk, and one 5 oz can of evaporated milk (i was going with what i had, people) then simmering it for about 5 minutes, it made a wonderfully thick (but not too thick) white sauce. then i added three huge handfuls of sharp cheddar, a little garlic salt and pepper, poured it over cooked penne rigate, topped it with more shredded cheddar, and baked it for 20 minutes at 350 deg. you should try it. best fake mac and cheese ever. but next time, i will plan ahead and just buy whole milk for the sauce.