Friday, December 29, 2006

A quandry and the year in review

First, a question: if a water main breaks in your city, and the powers that be recommend not washing in the water until further notice, is it better to leave your children in the known germs from holiday camp and day care, or to take your chances with the maybe-germs in the water? Discuss.

Then, because everyone else is doing it, I thought I'd go back and recapture the first sentence from this blog every month over the last year. I started blogging in March, so you'll have to make up your own stories about the fabulous adventures I was having (and keeping to myself) previous to that.

March: Well.

April: My father and his wife came to visit this weekend.

May: I've been working on the first bit, I mean third, I mean half, no, huge honkin' chunk of my dissertation for a couple of years now.

June: I was just browsing the iTunes music store, on a quest to replace our broken tape of Sesame Street Platinum.

July: I love me some Sen. Ted Stevens.

August: Life has taken a turn for the busier over the last few days.

September: There's nothing in this article from the NY Times that is surprising, but that doesn't mean it's not depressing: there is a clear separation between new moms returning to work who are able to pump, and those who aren't.

October: Sandbags are useful not only during hurricanes, but also during chest x-rays for toddlers.

November: I finally took the plunge and have a post up at Begging To Differ: It is not a small irony that this, my first post at BTD, is inspired by Playboy.

December: Well, blog, I've clearly been avoiding you.

What can I take from this? Mostly that it's a miracle anyone reads this blog at all. I finally have a New Year's resolution: be witty and engaging in the first sentence of my blog each month. If that's too much to ask, perhaps I might simply aspire to use proper grammar in the first sentence... we'll see how it goes.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


I woke up cranky this morning. I have a cold that's not on the downswing yet, I haven't been sleeping well for a few weeks, I've got a lot of work to do for school and rapidly decreasing time in which to do it, both kids have holiday potlucks at their respective schools tomorrow (at the same time, naturally, and both requested foods "appropriate to your family's traditions" which, I suppose, means macaroni and cheese for us), did I mention that the potlucks are at the same time?, there are random items to be purchased for several events that I need to remember long enough to make a list that I will then forget when I go to the grocery store anyway, and to top it all off, this is the dead week in college basketball, when the players actually have time off for exams, so I don't get my favorite winter evening distraction. (Okay, my second-favorite.)

So, I woke up cranky. I snapped at WonderGirl and was oversensitive with DT. As we ate breakfast, though, I had a moment to see myself and remember that my prickliness was not pre-ordained. I told DT and WonderGirl that I was feeling cranky, and I was sorry for being that way. They were instantly forgiving. I'm grateful for that. It is amazing how much that one action can matter: admitting that you're in a foul mood and acknowledging that you're over-reacting to other stimuli because of it. I'm still feeling cranky, but it's no longer directed at other people, it's simply my state. What an improvement.

More beautiful things from the last day:

  • The pictures waiting in my inbox of an old friend's new baby, and the knowledge that there is one more family who has dealt with pregnancy loss and now knows the joy and relief of a healthy, safe baby.
  • The email from Dr. Nice that my current results are so encouraging that I should start writing my proposal and plan on presenting it in February.
  • Going on a field trip with WonderGirl's class yesterday to see a puppet show, and having her unconsciously cuddle up to me during the sad parts.
  • Watching Rocco and one of his friends manic-ly perform their entire repertoire of animal sounds.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


It feels like a lot of threads in my life have been converging lately to convince me to spend more effort practicing intentional, mindful living. I've been impatient with the kids and with DT more than is warranted, and certainly more than I want to be. I've felt vaguely shaky and unsettled for the last few weeks, without being able to put my finger on the cause. I've been intellectually aware of how fortunate I am, in almost every way, without being able to work up the corresponding emotional appreciation for my situation.

At the same time, I've had the serendipity of finding several small, hopeful ways to adjust my perspective. DT and I went to a workshop on nonviolent communication that has given us some corny but useful ways to neutralize situations that often lead to arguments in our house. The facilitator also made a statement that has stuck with me: "Other people don't cause your feelings; the most they can do is to be the stimulus." It's a sentiment that I've always believed in, but that I'm not always able to internalize -- I am responsible for my own emotional environment, and when necessary, I can selectively let in things that improve it. Along those lines, one of my favorite bloggers, Karen of Chookooloonks, started keeping track of "kind blogs" which aim to be places of positivity and grace. Through Chookooloonks, I also found the blog Three Beautiful Things, a daily list of beauty in the blogger's world, which, in turn, gives me a daily dose of peace.

So, I'm working on it. I'm trying to be more mindful and to know that my perspective and outlook are just that -- mine. My goal is not to become an out-of-touch Pollyanna, but rather a balanced woman, wife and mother who has her eyes open and, when she has a choice, chooses joy. To acknowledge the internet folks who are helping me (without knowing it) I've finally signed on to Karen's kind blog effort with this blog, and I'll finish this post with three of my own beautiful things from this morning:

- When I heard WonderGirl come out of her bedroom after waking up, I went to meet her at the top of the stairs, where she was sitting and looking out of the window. Her first sentence was, "Look at this. It is such a beautiful sunrise."

- Empirical and theoretical results which match in my research.

- A good morning hug with DT which went on longer than normal.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It pays to be informed

I drive to school every day along a fairly congested surface street. There are several poorly-timed stoplights, where Rocco and I sit for one or two (or usually more) cycles. Sometimes we end up part of a truly modern phenomenon: a spontaneous, short-lived traffic community. When it happens, when we make a connection with Random Driver on Our Left, it's nearly always because Rocco is doing something cute. He has a sweet, flirtatious smile that gives the impression that it is only because he has seen You that he is interested in smiling, in fact, he's never smiled before, but You... You! are so wonderful that he's overcoming his natural shyness to give You the most genuine, innocent, slowly-spreading smile that has ever been given. He melts hearts, even in traffic. So, often, I'll realize he's flirting with someone in the next car and will catch the other driver's eye as they smile at Rocco or pantomime playing with him.

Sometimes the other driver will clearly be giggling at whatever odd object Rocco has decided he must clutch throughout the drive - a full-size Duke basketball, his ridiculously poofy winter coat, a wilted board book (upside down), a hat that he prefers to wear on his face instead of his head. Yesterday and today, I have to admit that I was hoping to avoid such an interaction. For some reason, Rocco has become obsessed with a booklet about the Mirena IUD that I brought home from an ob/gyn appointment. He turns the pages slowly and studies the diagrams and tables with a remarkably intent expression. I think it's funny, and tell myself that I'm doing my part as a modern mom to raise a male who will understand the importance of being educated about birth control; at the same time, I'd be just as glad if Rocco postponed any future traffic flirtations with the guys in the local waterproofing company's truck until he was done digesting the information.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hmmm, surprised it wasn't 100%...

Your 'Do You Want the Terrorists to Win' Score: 91%

You are a terrorist-loving, Bush-bashing, "blame America first"-crowd traitor. You are in league with evil-doers who hate our freedoms. By all counts you are a liberal, and as such cleary desire the terrorists to succeed and impose their harsh theocratic restrictions on us all. You are fit to be hung for treason! Luckily George Bush is tapping your internet connection and is now aware of your thought-crime. Have a nice day.... in Guantanamo!

Do You Want the Terrorists to Win?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Quiz via Bitch PhD.

Friday, December 01, 2006

How I spent my NaProWriMo vacation

Well, blog, I've clearly been avoiding you. Not only did I not post every day in support of NaBloWriMo, I didn't comment on another blog every day. Also, I guess you're not surprised to hear that my proposal is not only not completed, it's, um, still blank. NaProWriMo remains uncelebrated.

But. But! Several things of note happened during November that didn't involve active writing.

  1. We celebrated WonderGirl's 5th birthday with an awesome Halloween redux birthday party, lots of wine and the coolest bike ever. Seeing her face (very) gradually register that the bike she was looking at in the park was actually her birthday present was one of the highlights of my year.
  2. My paper was published! When I looked at my Google Reader feeds after coming back from Thanksgiving, the first thing that popped up was my own name. On my paper. My paper! I've been too afraid to read it again, though, for fear that the typesetter added something crazy after our final approval of the proofs. It's published! Whatever else happens, I've contributed to my field. Hooray!
  3. We travelled to DT's sister's new place for Thanksgiving and had a truly nice time. WonderGirl got along very well with her cousin, which hasn't always been the case, and the adults allowed themselves, I mean ourselves, to relax and enjoy being together.
  4. My advisors let me know that they think I'm making good progress (fools!) and one of them actually suggested I might be done with the research part of my dissertation by May. She didn't share the drugs she was using, but it did feel good to think that someone, somewhere, thinks I'm going to finish.
  5. For some reason, I have incredible anxiety that I have a festering blob of skin cancer somewhere, but I've been too afraid for years to actually find a dermatologist and have my skin checked. I finally went to be checked this week, and the dermatologist found nothing that even rated a close look. After literally five years of being afraid (for no good reason other than a severe fear of all cancer), I can relax and know that I don't have an ugly surprise waiting in that department.

Oh, and I don't have any cavities. Do you think I can include that in my proposal?