Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Do you ever think anything you don't say?

My good friend Annie says that there are two kinds of people in the world. There are tellers, and there are... well, actually I forget what everyone else is, because I'm a teller.

Tellers, like me, will tell just about anyone practically anything about themselves. Annie, who is not a teller, would not for instance tell you about how bad the people on the subway/bus/stairs stunk. It wouldn't occur to her that you might be interested. But for me, there's no filter. From the mundane (but hilarious, I promise!) daily anecdote, to the just plain TMI (I just recently had a bra size discussion with way too many people), I always seem to let it all hang out.

Husband is decidedly not a teller. In fact, I have to beg him to tell me stories from his childhood, to tell me about his day. It will be interesting to see which side of the fence the Bean (and her future sibling(s?))fall on...

No one in my immediate family is a teller. Based on my limited dataset, I think that telling might be a recessive trait, but I need more data...

So what are you? Are you a teller or not-so-much?

Bath night

I love bath night.

The Bean gets a bath twice a week. Ever since she was a tiny little Bean, she and I have been getting in to the big tub together for her baths. It's mostly practical. When she was tiny, she couldn't sit up on her own, so I would lay her out on my legs for her bath. Now that she can sit very well, she doesn't put up with laying down for her baths, but I'm in there to be sure that she's stable and safe.

The Bean gets excited now when she knows it's bath time. She hears the water running as we undress her, and she kicks her legs frantically. When we bring her in to the bathroom and set her on the bathmat, she crawls over to the tub and peers at the water, waiting impatiently for her turn to get in. She laughs and smiles and gets up on her tippy toes trying to get in the tub. When the water is right, I pull her into the tub with me.

We have a number of toys for the bath. Some rubber duckys (of course!), some little plastic animals, some stacking cups that her daddy bought her. Her favorite thing is to suck on the washcloth while she splashes. She likes when a toy is "hidden" inside one of the cups and she has to pull it back out.

We play for a few minutes, singing and splashing. Then we take a second washcloth and start to wash all her little itty bitty parts. We start with the toes, which makes her squeal. The her chubby little legs and her round little belly. Then her arms and back. And finally her face (she does not like this part one bit, thank you). Then we soap up her blonde hair, give her a tiny mohawk.

Finally, before the bath is done, I wrap her little squirmy body with my arms. She is usually trying to do something very important with one of her toys, but lets me hug her anyway. Husband lays out her hooded towel in his lap, and we transfer her into his arms.

The Bean yowls as Husband dresses her. What an indignity! She clearly was not finished playing!

Her hair, after a bath, is feathery and soft. We call it her chicken fluff, because she was our little spring chicken. She smells warm and sweet, like fresh laundry.

Bean is always in a good mood after her bath these days. She's cuddly and happy. She is easy to put to sleep on these nights.

And when she wakes in the morning, her hair is a fluffy riot.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On going back to work, Part 7 of infinity

I just wanted a chance to respond to a couple of the excellent comments on a previous post (Part 5 of infinity)...

Hypoglycemiagirl and Expat_Mama point out that while accessibility of quality childcare is a key ingredient in creating equality for women, changing the attitude of women as the default primary caregiver is just as important.

I couldn't agree more. And it's definitely a chicken-or-the-egg phenomenon.

Mothers in the U.S., and perhaps in most Western cultures, are currently the de facto primary caregiver. I think this is a holdover from cultural stereotypes that women are the caregivers and men are the breadwinners. The 50's era traditional family roles are often practiced even in households where women "should know better". In part, I think, this stems from our tendency to model our households, whether consciously or subconsciously, on the households we grew up in.

I grew up in a household where, for most of my childhood, my mother worked part-time. She also did basically 100% of the child-rearing, household management, bill paying, cooking and cleaning. Even when I was a teenager and my mother went back to work full-time, there was no redistribution of the labor... my mother continued to do 100% of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. And while my parents probably constitute a pretty extreme example of homelife inequity, I don't think they were terribly far outside of the norm.

How can men get away with this? How can women stand it? How can we change it?

I think a large part of the inequity stems from the fact that women tend to make a smaller paycheck, and therefore their careers are deemed less important. In my (humble) opinion, one of the ways mothers can start achieving equal status both at home and in the workplace is if it is easier to combine work and motherhood.

What do women need in order to successfully combine work and motherhood?

-Paid maternity leave. The United States currently has one of the worst policies for maternity leave in the industrialized world. (For anyone who isn't familiar... currently in the U.S., federal law simply says that a person can have up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave . But this only applies to companies with 50 or more employees. And if both mother and father work for the same company, they have to SPLIT those 12 weeks!)

-The legal RIGHT to a flexible schedule while their children are young. In Sweden, both parents are guaranteed the right to work an 80% schedule while there is a child under the age of 8 in the household. Unsurprisingly, Sweden has one of the highest rates of female participation in the labor market.

-Available, affordable quality childcare. Including infant and toddler care.

-Legal protection against maternal profiling.

-Equal pay for equal work. Go here to sign the MomsRising petition.

Obviously I think there are a lot of things that need to change in order to help make gender equality a reality. But I think one huge step will be increasing the participation of women in the workforce. And to that end, childcare IS and remains a feminist issue.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Snow Day

...or at least snow morning.

On going back to work, Part 6 of infinity...

Childcare is expensive. I think we all know that, right? But childcare is REALLY REALLY expensive. Seriously.

I have a PhD. I have an decent job (i.e. the pay ain't great, but we are living well above the poverty line). To pay for what Husband and I consider quality care for the Bean, it costs (almost to the penny) one of my two paychecks each month. We pay more for childcare than any other household expense. Our childcare is 1.5X our mortgage payment. And that's just for one kid. Childcare is really expensive.

Now, imagine that I didn't have a decent job, I had a crappy job. What if I were a single parent? What if I were making the choice between a good childcare situation and putting food on the table?

I think we're all familiar with your average middle class family, tightening their belts to pay for childcare. But what about the working poor?

Simply put, the importance of childcare to the working poor can not be overstated. Government childcare assistance is woefully inadequate, leaving the vast majority of eligible families uncovered... the funding just isn't there. And for those receiving assistance, subsidies still do not enable access to anything other than custodial care.

Childcare availability, affordability and quality all have a dramatic affect on the participation of low-income women in the labor force. Childcare is critical component in helping low-income families be self-sufficient.

What needs to be done? In 2003, the Institute for Women's Policy Research recommended that we:

-Increase state and federal funding of to increase childcare subsidy benefits.

-Expand childcare assistance to the working poor, not just limiting funds to families who are coming off welfare.

-Improve the quality of childcare available to the working poor, specifically by opening developmental childcare centers in low-income communities, or by provinding grants for existing centers.

How to get involved?

Let's help make childcare and early childhood education an issue in the 2008 election. Here's how you can help.

Sign up for, and donate to, Moms Rising, a spin-off of the high-profile site MoveOn.Org. A PAC supporting REAL family values.

Blog About it. Let's make childcare a national priority.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

On going back to work, Part 5 of infinity

...or Why access to quality childcare is a feminist issue (whether or not you plan to have kids)

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I grew up believing I could have it all. I mean, my mom came pretty close to it. She had a career (as a children's librarian) and raised 5 kids. I don't think I ever once considered the possibility that I would NOT have a career. I always assumed, too, that I would have kids. Though obviously there is some sort of problem with this scenario, I have always assumed the solution would be a quality daycare.

Fast forward.

I'm 27. Married. My husband and I get knocked up (intentionally)... We start looking for daycare. Let me tell you a bit about what we found:

1. Most places don't even take infants. The age that kids can start varies, but many places don't accept kids till they're over the age of 1. Some don't accept kids until they're 2. Okay, so that narrows down the options.

2. Places that do accept infants have ridiculously long "waiting lists." These waiting lists are not on a first come, first served basis per se. They operate at the discretion of the daycare (they usually take the baby that happens to have a convenient birthday... thus minimizing any empty slots in the infant room). We got on the waiting list at several places, and never (even now!) got a call to say that there were spots available for the Bean. It has been a year and a half since we signed up for these waiting lists. So getting a spot in an infant room is basically like winning the lottery. And just because you do your research, doesn't mean you actually get to choose where you send your child.

3. The in-home daycares we visited were of poor quality. That is NOT to say that all in-home daycares are of poor quality. But we had a difficult time locating an in-home daycare that was anything other than custodial care (i.e. we'll try to make sure your kid doesn't kill herself while you're gone, but other than that we can't make any promises). One of the places we visited, they didn't even turn off the TV while we were visiting. Again, this is not to say that all in-home daycares are terrible, but simply that a good situation is hard to find.

4. As in real estate, location is everything. Anything close to work was at least $400 more per month. The only daycares we were able to afford were out in the boonies... "luckily" we live in the boonies...

After a lot of looking, Husband and I were able to find someplace that we absolutely LOVE. Thank goodness for it too. Because going back to work was exponentially harder than I ever could have anticipated in my naive youth. And if we didn't LOVE the place that we take the Bean every day, if she didn't LOVE it, I couldn't have gone back to work.

Now all of this is well and good, you might be thinking, but how is daycare a feminist issue?

As I said, if we didn't love Bean's daycare, and if she didn't love it, I wouldn't have been able to bring myself to go back to work. The daycare dilemma is one that nearly every working mother faces.

In the absence of quality childcare, women will drop out of the workforce in disproportionate numbers. Because even in relatively enlightened households (like mine), women remain the primary caretakers. And when faced with undesirable options for childcare, women will choose to care for their children at the expense of their careers.

I truly believe that this is the true heart of why there remain fewer women at the highest levels of nearly all careers. Women who reaped the benefits of the women's movement, who trained and studied, who really bought in to everything the women's movement had promised... they are dropping out of the rat race. Some of them leave their careers altogether, some of them simply veer off the most demanding career tracks in favor of a more balanced work life, some of them will take a few years out of the workforce while their children are young only to find that reentry is next to impossible.

What does this mean? It means that in the absence of quality childcare, primary caretakers (women) will continue to be underrepresented in the highest levels of our judicial system, in the most highly paid jobs in the private sector, and in the most powerful positions in the government. And in a very real sense, their interests will also be underrepresented.

What do I mean by quality childcare? I mean specifically a developmental, rather than custodial approach to caring for young children. Such care should be available to anyone who wants it. Not just those who can afford ridiculous premiums, or who happen to win the child care lottery (like we did).

Universal early education, and subsidies for early childhood care, is a feminist issue.

P.S. Why should the government, and therefore the (sometimes childless) taxpayers pay for early education and childcare subsidies?

1. By increasing the availability of quality developmental childcare, you enable women to remain in the workforce. This is not only an issue of equality (and dare I say human rights?), but actually creates a stronger richer workforce.

2. Mounting evidence shows that early childhood education programs create more successful, emotionally mature, productive citizens. This not only creates quality human capital for the next generation, but also decreases likelihood of dependence on social support programs.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Haiku 8

I've fallen behind in the Haiku challenge. I'll blame it on, oh, life. But here's this weeks submission.

Being a smartass
is always much better than
being a dumbass.

(Do I have to put money in the swear jar for that one?)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Life in overdrive

This past week has been crazy busy. Extra-curricular activities like my computational genomics class, Husband's training grant meeting, the Bean's 9-month checkup, Husband's (required) lab dinner, and open-house at the Bean's school are making our one-car existence and traffic-laden freeway commute a total nightmare. Thank goodness we live in a city with halfway decent public transportation... but curses that it is only halfway decent.

But on the bright side, today I finessed my DNA into cesium chloride-free pellets. So, you know, that was awesome.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Swearing update

On the 30 minute commute home on Friday night, Husband and I had to put $3.50 into the swear jar ($2.25 for me, $1.25 for him). At $0.25 per infraction... you do the math.

But to be fair, we were talking politics.

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's that time...

So this morning, as I'm getting ready for work, I'm bouncing the Bean on my hip and dancing while I find my comb. I'm singing.

"Take that, rewind it back, Usher got the voice make your booty go.."

Husband laughed at me and gave me a little scold for singing booty rap to my 9 month old daughter.

It's okay, I rationalized, because she's too little to know what I'm saying when I sing. But then later, on our commute to work, I'm thinking about when she will know what I'm saying. And it's not that far off. And there is a far more pressing issue than the occasional booty rap...

I curse like a G*d d**n sailor. I mean, truly. It is appalling how much I swear. My friends all think it's funny "Bean's first word is gonna be 'f*ck'"... But you know what, I don't really want that to be true. For one, my mother would probably disown me. For another, I like Bean's school, and I don't really want her to get kicked out.

"Husband, I think it's time to institute the swear jar."

We've talked about the swear jar before. It's on our list of bad habits to eliminate before Bean is old enough to know better. Like drinking diet soda. But that's another issue.

"Okay," says Husband. "What are the rules?"

"Well, how about a quarter for every swear word."

"A quarter?!" he says. "It's supposed to be a real penalty!"

"Trust me babe, I'm gonna be broke by the end of the week."

"Well, is it all the time, or just when the Bean is in earshot?" he asks.

"I say all hours outside of lab, whether the Bean can hear us or not. We gotta get out of the habit, so it's gotta be all the time. But there are too many things at lab that make me curse... so, yeah."

"Okay. Well what's on the list?" he asks. I laugh at this, but he's serious. "Like is 'd*mn' a curse word?"


"Well what about darn?" he asks.

"Not darn. But definitely 'd*mn', 's**t', 'f**k'..."

"And b*tch" Husband adds.

"Yes. And 'whore' for that matter," I say (I use this a lot in place of b*tch... like 'son of a whore'). "Basically anything we wouldn't want her to walk around saying."

"What about 'Jesus Christ'?" Husbands asks.

As a recovering Catholic, I take the lords name in vain quite a bit. "Yeah, 'Jesus Christ' too. I wouldn't want her walking around school saying 'Jesus Christ' all the time."

So there it is. The swear jar. It'll be full in a few days, I'm sure. We'll put the proceeds into Bean's college fund. Because I like a little irony.

The Hulk

Husband has this thing. When he drinks a soda, he always dents the can. He does this when he takes a sip of my soda, and it drives me bonkers.

This morning, on the car ride to work, he grabbed my soda and took a sip (I know, diet soda at 7:00 in the morning... I'm a terrible terrible person). Sure enough, I pick up the can, and it's dented.

I pop the dent out and say "You always dent my cans!"

"Sorry," he says, chagrined.

"Well that's what I get for marrying the Hulk."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wanna travel the world

...without leaving home?

My dearest friend Annie has undertaken something very brave. Namely, she saved up a bunch of money, quit her job, and just left on a 7 month trip around the world. She is crazy brave, yo.

So anyway, if you want to travel to Argentina, Greece, Egypt, Australia (not in that order) from your couch, check out her blog On The Move. She just left yesterday, but she promises exciting adventures (and pictures!) in the months ahead.

Buena suerte, Annie!

Monday, January 14, 2008


The Bean has started cruisin' (i.e. walking whilst holding onto furniture for balance). This is lots and lots of fun. She has mostly stopped falling over now, which is good. Fewer goose eggs on the head. And she is very confident. I've heard of lots of babies who cruise for a very long time before walking because they are too scared to let go. Not the Bean. She can get up and actually let go of the furniture while standing.

She's going to be walking in the next six weeks, I swear.

In other news, the Bean also appears to be starting in on her top two teeth. So life is a little hectic around here.

I'll be on a three day hiatus as I prepare for lab meeting, but when I return, I promise a post I've been mentally composing for weeks:

High quality childcare, A feminist issue for women with and without children.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Haiku 8

Haiku(s?) by guest author the Bean...

Finger foods are hard
to grab, but easy to mash
with my sippee cup.

A tummy round with
peas and chicken, hair sticky
with peaches and pears.

Blueberries and a
white outfit were not her best
idea ever.

The strike has ended!!

The Breastfeeders Local 106 is reporting that the 36 hour breastfeeding strike ended at 4:30 this morning. Both sides were happy to return to a normal schedule today.

"Thank god!" said union member ScienceMama. "I'm really happy not to have lost my job, and I'm very glad that conditions have improved."

President and CEO Bean, clearly happy with the settlement, commented "Ah-Da."

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Well, Husband was able to get Bean in to the doctor this afternoon, and the diagnosis was a double ear infection, most likely stemming from the bear of a cold that she had over Christmas. So she got her first dose of antibiotics tonight. She still refused to nurse, of course, but took another bottle from Husband.

I'm anticipating that she won't nurse again until tomorrow evening (they say the antibiotics offer relief from symptoms after 24 hours. So I'll just have to be patient until then.

I had a horrible and stressful day. Highlights included:

-taking a home pregnancy test at 6:00 this morning to eliminate the possibility that Bean was refusing to nurse because I was accidentally pregnant (the test was, thankfully, negative)
-being an hour late to work because the Bean was so difficult to wrangle this morning
-taking our blood-soaked rotation student to the campus medical center as he had given himself a gaping head wound by hitting himself in the forehead with a door (requiring 9 stitches)
-missing my first pump session because of aforementioned trip to the medical center
-a frantic afternoon trying to accomplish too many tasks and working with my undergraduate student
-running late to my class
-sitting on a bus with many wet, wool-clad people for 30 minutes (none of whom, apparently, shower)
-waiting for Husband and Bean for over an hour at the bookstore (not Husband's fault... he was at the doctor with Bean)
-being so engorged by the time I got home that I couldn't even pump
-getting zero quality time with Bean before she melted down and went to bed

But on the very bright side, we know what's going on with the Bean, and hopefully she will be feeling better (and nursing again!) soon.

The end.

More on Bean's nursing strike

Thanks to everyone for helpful and supportive comments.

I doubt that the problem in this case is something I ate, or something hormonal as A) Bean refused the breast before she even latched, so she didn't even taste the milk, and B) she was perfectly happy to drink the milk I pumped this morning. So in this case, I don't think taste is the issue.

But I didn't realize that you could have an ear infection without a fever. I called her doctor today, and she said that either teething or an ear infection was the most likely culprit for a baby Bean's age. So we have an appointment for tomorrow morning to get her ears checked.

I still feel a twinge of fear that she might be weaning, but I know that's more of my own fears than the most likely scenario.

Of course, she could just be supporting the ongoing writers strike, but I guess that's not very likely either...

Nursing strike

Well, she woke up at 3:00 a.m. and I tried to nurse her. This time she didn't even bite me. She looked excited to nurse, turned her head towards me, and then cried and turned her head back. When I managed to calm her down, I tried nursing sitting up so that she wouldn't have to turn her head as much, but that didn't work. Husband gave her a 4 oz bottle, which she took quickly and went back to sleep.

This morning, it was more of the same.

My hope is that this is teething and that things will return to normal soon. But it makes me anxious.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Reader participation day

I guess it's reader participation day here at mother of all scientists...

Today, the Bean did not drink very much milk at school (only 5 oz, as opposed to her usual 10-15 oz), though she ate her solid foods just fine. She was in a great mood again when we picked her up.

When we got home, I tried to nurse her, but she bit me. Not once, not twice, but thrice. Then she rolled away and started to crawl. I figured she just wanted to play instead of nurse and didn't press the issue.

We gave her dinner, gave her a bath and played with her. She was still in a great mood. Then it was time for bed.

I took her to bed with me and tried to nurse her. She bite me, then rolled away and started to cry very hard. So hard, in fact, that I couldn't calm her down. I called Husband in. He suggested that maybe she just was protesting about going to bed. So we read her some books and played quietly for about 20 minutes.

Then I again took her to bed and tried to nurse her. No dice. She bit me again and started to cry.

I took her to the nursery and tried to rock her. No dice. Crying harder than before with big tears rolling down her face. She finally calmed down when I stood and jiggled her. Occasional whimpers, but no crying. She fell asleep. I lay her in the crib and walked out.

Two minutes later, she's crying again. Husband goes in with a bottle, and she quickly guzzles 4 oz and falls asleep.

She has never refused to nurse at bedtime (or really ever, for that matter), and NEVER refused the breast in favor of a bottle.

Is it teething? Has she decided to self-wean? Is it an ear infection?

I'm at a loss and very worried that we'll have a repeat performance in the morning.

Any suggestions, fellow mamas?


I usually read fiction. But I have very much enjoyed my recent forays into non-fiction, reading Polio: An American Story (David Oshinsky) and The Price of Motherhood (Ann Crittenden).

Now I am looking for a new non-fiction book to read. And I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Some days are harder than others

Even though I know that the Bean is content at school, and even though I honestly believe that she is flourishing there... Even though I know that her teachers are loving and attentive, and I believe in my heart that she is safe and happy... some days I miss her so much it's like someone punched me in the neck.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Nap time

The Bean is tired. She is fussing and grinding her little fists into her eyes. She really needs a nap.

I take off her shoes and bring her into my bedroom. When she sees me lay her blanket out on the bed, she starts to complain. As I fold her into a swaddle, she cries. I lay beside her on the bed, and she nurses vigorously. By the time she is done, she has wriggled her little arms back out of the blanket and is playing with my necklace.

I fix her swaddle, tucking her arms back into the blanket, and take her to the nursery. We sit in the rocking chair together. She cries. She arches her back. "I'm not tired!" she complains. She writhes like a fish out of water and tells me exactly how not tired she is.

After awhile, she calms down. She lays still in my arms. Her eyelids droop and close, but she snaps them back open. I am reminded of the way I see people fall asleep in seminar... fighting the inevitable. Though I've pointed the rocking chair in such a way that she has nothing interesting to look at, she studies the wall like it the most fascinating and intricate thing she has yet seen. I put her lovey against her face, and her little mouth opens. She finds a corner and begins to suck on it.

Eventually she falls asleep. I wait a few minutes for her breathing to become regular, then stop rocking. No reaction. A minute later I stand. Still sleeping. I start to move towards the crib. Still good. As I raise her little body to lift over the rail, *Surprise* her eyes are open again.

I pull her back to me and try to jiggle her, but her eyes stay open. She coos. *Sigh* I return to the rocking chair.

We rock for several minutes more. She finally gives up, and falls asleep again. I rock for several more minutes, almost asleep myself. As I contemplate getting up, the rain starts again. I linger, watching the rain fall outside, enjoying the weight of her tiny body rising and falling as I breathe.

Rising slowly, I lift her into the crib. On my tiptoes, I balance her body in my arms as I bend all the way over, lowering her to the mattress. I slip one arm out from under her, then the other. Her lovey has slipped from her mouth, but I lay it next to her. I watch for a second, her breathing still regular. I quietly exit the room.

20 minutes later, she is babbling again. Sigh.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


5:00 a.m... wake up. Realize that the Bean has not woken once during the night. Check that she is alive, then set about the animal care, pumping, preparing the days bottles and baby food. Bean wakes just as I finish heating up my oatmeal for breakfast... Nurse the Bean. Shower and blowdry new obnoxious bangs. Pull bangs back with a bobby pin anyway. Bean demands to nurse again. Make myself a sandwich while shoveling oatmeal in my mouth.

7:10... take the Bean to school.

7:45... Arrive at work, get my morning Americano and get into lab. Get sidetracked talking to coworker.

Morning spent in the hot room stripping blots and labeling new probes. New obnoxious bangs keep falling in my eyes (what was I thinking?). After pipeting from the primary vial, a tip ejector mishap resulted in major contamination on the hot room floor. Spent 25 minutes on my hands and knees with a spray bottle of Count-Off, our trusty Geiger counter, and a whole stack of paper towels. Thankfully shoes are not contaminated. End up 30 minutes late for my morning pump session.

After sterilizing my pump parts, head back to lab to start planning a Southern blot. In an act of foolishness, I eat my sandwich an hour early. Consult with boss about Southern. Decide on a course of action, but realize that setting up digests with 25 different restriction enzymes is not happening today. Take notes, but postpone digests till tomorrow.

12:52... Realize I have about 8 minutes before a meeting with a coworker and my bosses. No time for a real lunch. Run to grab a second cup of coffee instead. Forget to ask for decaf.

Meeting runs over two hours. I am famished, have only scraps of Wheat Thins left to eat. Second cup of coffee was a mistake, as I am now completely wired. I am 30 minutes late for my second pump session, but realize I will have to skip it because I only have 45 minutes left, and I have to get back in the hot room to purify my probes.

3:45... Dump probes on my blots and race for the shuttle. Spend 35 minutes in traffic listening to NPR with Husband. Iowa caucuses today. Pick up the Bean at school. She is wearing different clothes, and there is a stinky bag of dirty clothes in her cubby. But she is all smiles and giggles, and she kicks her legs when she sees us.

We stop at the store on the way home to get some ingredients for baby food. We let Bean smell the cilantro and touch the lemons. I am still feeling over-caffeinated and jittery.

At home, I nurse the Bean, then feed her potatoes and broccoli while Husband puts away the morning's milk ("Why only two bottles today?" "Don't ask..."). He washes the dirty bottles and puts them in the dishwasher.

It is bath night, so the Bean and I get in the tub, while Husband starts making some homemade sodium-free chicken broth. I love baths with Bean. We play with her stacking cups, her rubber duckys. She kicks her legs while I wash her belly. She squirms when I get to her underarms. When I grab the soap to wash her hair, she demands the bottle, so I rinse it off and give it to her. She promptly shoves it in her mouth. We splash and smile, and I wash the soap from her hair. I wrap her in her bunny towel, and Husband gets her into her pajamas.

She seems still eager to play, so we sit in the living room, the three of us, and we pull out her new blocks. She bangs them together for a minute, then crawls over to the couch to work on pulling up. She can easily go from all fours to standing now, and while not yet graceful, has significantly improved in doing the reverse without just crashing on her (insert body part here).

When she starts to slow down, I pull out a couple of books, and we look at them together. She is mostly interested in closing and reopening the books. And, of course, in eating them.

6:45... When she starts to rub her eyes, Husband kisses her goodnight. I take her to our bed and nurse her. For the first time in a very long time, she nurses to sleep. I am thankful to avoid our usual nighttime battle, and I kiss her little forehead.

I quietly shoo Pup out of the nursery and lay her in her crib. I lay her little lovey nearby, and shut the door.

After a dinner of veggie burgers and salad, I set to work on the baby foods. Tonight I made her root vegetable puree (carrots, leeks, parsnips, and sweet potato), and her first meat dish (chicken with peas, carrots, and sweet potato). I use the stock that Husband has made for me. It takes far longer to prepare and puree than one would calculate from the recipes. These are the most complex foods she will taste yet, and I am excited to see how she likes them.

I made a double recipe of each, which may have been a mistake. I have to make room for the new baby foods in the freezer by organizing my supply of frozen milk. With some Tetris-style manuevers, I find room and breathe a sigh of relief.

9:20... As I wipe the counters, I plan my experiments for tomorrow, and give thanks that it is a short week.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Christmas recap

The Bean has just gone down for her nap, so I have probably about 20 minutes to tell y'all about our Christmas-related adventures. (Mind you, I should probably be taking this 20 minutes to sweep the d@*! cat hair off the floors, but I just can't be bothered right now...)

Though our flight wasn't until 9:00 the day we left, I actually took the day off work to finish packing and run some last minute errands. I even got my hair cut for the first time since I was 8 months pregnant! Unfortunately, the hair stylist convinced me that I would look great with some long sweepy bangs. In fact, I do like my appearance with some long sweepy bangs, but such bangs require A) blowdrying and B) some kind of styling product in order to actually look as nice as when she styled my hair. Syling hair requires time, and time is something I do not have in abundance. It's been less that 2 weeks and I am already pinning them back with a clip... Oh well.

I also stopped by a piercing shop that day to pick up a new nose ring (I've had my nose pierced since I was 15). Anyway, I pointed out the piece of jewelry that I wanted (a tiny silver ball) to the very pierced and tattooed clerk. He insisted that I have one of their piercers fit me for it and place it. I agreed. The guy took me back, lay me on a table and inserted the jewelry. "Check it out in the mirror," he said. I went to the mirror and saw that instead of a tiny silver ball, he had put in a gigantic silver spike. Um... I'm not really a gigantic metal spike kind of girl. I had to stupidly explain that the clerk must have misunderstood which piece of jewelry I wanted, and 10 minutes later I had a tiny silver ball in my nose, a gigantic silver spike in my pocket and a hole in my wallet where $30 used to be. Sigh.

The flight to California was a huge disaster. We had originally selected a 9:00 p.m. flight home because we figured the Bean would be likely to sleep. Ha! In retrospect, it would have been hard to pick a worse time to go. The Bean normally goes to sleep at 6:00. Instead, we were arriving at the airport at 7:00, loading her in the Bjorn, and then dragging her through the bright and noisy airport. BY the time we boarded the plane, she was exhausted and fussy. But sleep was practically impossible. Our curious little Bean could not resist interacting with every single person who walked by. And between the people, the noise, the many announcements, the stewardesses who kept coming by to flirt with her, and all the associated activity, we couldn't get the Bean to calm down, much less sleep. And since she was exhausted, she was nearly manic... swinging back and forth between riotous laughter and screaming tears. Finally I resorted to standing in the aisle to bounce her while keeping the two of us covered with a dark airplane blanket to keep out the light. 20 minutes of that, and the Bean was finally asleep. She slept for the last hour of the flight.

The next evening Bean had a runny nose. Uh-oh. She quickly progressed into a vicious vicious cold. How do I know it was vicious? Because she gave it to me, Husband, Grandma and Grandpa, and ALL of her aunts and uncles (including my poor pregnant sister). It was one of the worst colds I have ever had, and it kept all of us sick for more than a week!

Christmas was fun, if overwhelming. The Bean wasn't sleeping well... a combination of the cold and all the stimulation of so new faces and places, plus the fact that she was sleeping in a strange place... she just couldn't nap, and the nights were hard. It made for a rough week. And since her sleep was so unpredictable, and she was nursing like crazy, Husband and I didn't get quite as much grown-up time out as we had hoped. We did get to go out to dinner for about an hour one night, but that was pretty much it.

Highlights of the trip?
-when the Bean fell asleep on Grandma's lap one morning
-taking the Bean to see the ocean for the first time
-seeing the Bean interact with her aunts and uncles and 5-year-old cousin
-a morning soak with Husband in my sister-in-law's hot tub
-taking lots and lots of walks
-Christmas eve with my family

As expected, the Bean was more interested in the wrapping paper than most of her presents, but I think she enjoyed the colors and activity surrounding the Christmas celebrations.

It was a tiring trip. Far more tiring than expected. A large part of that was thanks to the Cold From Hell. But we had a lot of fun too.

And.. there's the Bean. Happy New Year to all!