Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Anyone up for a run?

The second half of 2008 was crazy for the Science family, and I personally let one of my favorite past times, running, fall by the way side. My mental health and my booty size have both suffered.

Rather than rest on the ample cushion of my laurels, I am rededicating myself to a new year of running. That means that starting January 1st (okay, really it will be January 2nd), I'll be putting up a new running counter. I will also be choosing a new half marathon to train for. I'm thinking April should be good timing.

I just want to invite anyone feeling similarly motivated to train with me. Pick a race in your area, whatever distance you like, for sometime in April or May. We'll train together virtually.

Need a training schedule? Check out Cool Running. They've got 12 week training program for anything from a 5K to the full marathon. Need a good way to track your runs and figure out running routes? Try Favorite Run.

Drop a comment, pick a race, lace up your kicks and let's get our butts in gear!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow day(s)

In Dissertation City, it usually snows about once a year. That snow usually sticks around for about a day before melting off. My grad school friends, who all seem to come from snowy places, MOCK the residents of Dissertation City because an inch or two of snow and the city shuts down. School is canceled, the roads are treacherous, anyone who can stays home from work. Wimps! my friends say. Dissertation City does not have much in the way of snow plows or salt trucks.. because it only snows one day a year.


The past few weeks have been freezing around here, and on Wednesday the snow arrived. Not a lot, of course, but 3 or inches, enough to make the roads terrible and to shut down Bean's school. So I have been home, snow bound, with a sick toddler for 5 days straight. It's been great to have so much time with Bean, but I am STIR CRAZY.

On Friday I was able to get to the grocery store, which was very lucky... we got another 5 inches yesterday! This morning we trudged through the snow to get a couple of things for our elderly neighbor. But that's been about the sum total of our outings.

We made cookies for the neighbors together (she "helped" roll the dough). We have sung Christmas carols. We put necklaces on the dog. She played dress up in my closet. She has memorized the pages of November's issue of National Geographic. We have exhausted all of Bean's books, she is sick of coloring. This morning, desperate for a break, I broke down and let her watch a few minutes of Frosty the Snowman on TV. If we can't get out of the house again tomorrow, I don't know what I'm going to do... possibly gouge my eyes out.

On the bright side, I've been incredibly productive during her naps. The house is freakin' spotless and I organized all of our closets and cupboards.

On Wednesday we're flying to California to see my parents. The Dissertation City airport has been a complete and total mess, and I'm just praying that the gods of flight will take pity on us and give us a safe flight with minimal delays. If we can even get to the airport...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On pregnancy, childbirth and being a woman

In case you all aren't regular readers of Dr. Jekyl and Mrs. Hyde, over the past few months Dr. J has written a really beautiful series on infertility and IVF. Dr. J has been really honest about how painful her experience with infertility has been, while pouring on the black humor as she psuedo-liveblogs her IVF experience.

This past week Dr. J wrote a really amazing post, from which I will quote liberally:
For anyone who wonders why people would go to such lengths just to put themselves through the difficulties of pregnancy and birth, I would say this. Imagine that you were born female but that you never had menses. "Lucky you," your friends would say. "It's awful, and inconvenient." Meanwhile, every women's magazine you read has an article about menstruation--readers' stories of when they got their first periods, debates about maxipads with wings, the Eight Signs That You Should Visit the Gynecologist. When groups of women are together, they talk about PMS, or about sex during their periods, pro or con.

You would feel jealous. Not because having a period was such a desirable thing, but because it was such a fundamental part of every other woman's life that to lack it was to be excluded. And wouldn't you sort of hate your friends for telling you not to want what they all had?

Take that sensation and convolve it with the knowledge that most women enjoy aspects of pregnancy and birth, and say that it was a life experience they wouldn't miss--it was defining. The fear that you will never have that experience is real.

Though Dr. J is talking broadly about both pregnancy and childbirth in this post, it sums up in a way I have never been able to express how devastated I was that Bean was born by C-section.

I personally really enjoyed my pregnancy. It wasn't always easy, but it was an amazing experience to grow my child in my belly, to nourish her and protect her. The culmination of my pregnancy, and my ultimate gift to Bean, was supposed to be a natural birth. It was something I had hoped that Husband, Bean and I would all experience together, and I imagined it would be a powerful event.

When, just a few hours into my labor, the doctor told me I had little chance for a safe vaginal birth and would have to have a C-section, I was devastated. I cried and cried. The doctor, the nurses looked at me like I was insane. But I lost my chance at the birth I wanted, and knowing that VBACs aren't always possible, I knew that I might not ever experience a natural birth.

Afterwards, when I tried to talk to Husband and others about how heartbroken I was, the response was always the same "But at least you have a happy healthy baby!" "It's the product, not the process!"

Of course that's true. Given the same circumstances, I would make the same choices, putting Bean's health and safety above my desire for a vaginal birth. But it doesn't mean that I don't still feel a sense of loss over the once-in-a-lifetime experience that I missed.

As time has gone by, the sadness I feel about my childbirth experience has lessened. The wound less tender, the anger less sharp. But it's still there, and the sadness seems to bubble to the surface every time I see a movie or TV show about with a birth in it.

Maybe I'm the only one who felt this way after a C-section, but thanks to Dr. J for putting this to words.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Haiku War

The Haiku War between Bean-mom and I rages on...

Bean's holiday celebration
Little face upturned
Your eyes impossibly bright
Reflect our shared joy

Midnight in the nursery
Your tiny body
Lies so heavy on my chest,
I welcome the weight

ScienceMama says...
The label says they're
Long and Lean, but my heart says
Jeans don't shrink your a**

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Seriously, whose idea was this?

Why does no one see the irony in doing a Gingerbread Village display, made from 1,000 pounds of gingerbread and 800 pounds of icing, as a fundraiser for diabetes research?

Holiday bliss

On Monday night Husband’s schedule got all screwed up, and so Bean and I went to pick him up from lab in the early evening. On the way to pick him up, I spontaneously decided that we should take Bean into downtown Dissertation City and show her all of the holiday decorations.

We arrived at the fancy downtown shopping center just in time for their nightly “snow” fall. They played loud music to announce the event, and then bubbles came cascading down into the atrium. Bean ran and chased the mock snowflakes squealing.

After a quick bite to eat, we took Bean outside. In front of the shopping center was a talented young woman playing violin, her fluffy brown dog sprawled at her feet. Bean squirmed down and began dancing in front of the woman, smiling at her. When the song finished, Bean begged “more, more”. The woman obliged and Bean danced for two more songs, each time clapping and shouting “hooray!” at the end. Bean also got to pet her adorable dog, who kissed Bean’s face and then rolled over on her back to let Bean rub her tummy.

We strolled up the tree-lined street and found the center square had been set up with both a 20 foot tall Christmas tree and a carousel. Bean pointed to the carousel and signed “Please?” After the carousel ride (Bean rode a blue pony and was not at all frightened by the up-and-down motion), we saw a man with his horse drawn carriage. He let little Bean pet the horse, and she was very excited to do so. As we walked away, she asked “more horsey?”

We stopped to have one last dance to the violin music before calling it a night. We kept Bean up more than an hour past her usual bedtime, but it was pretty much one of the most wonderful nights of my life.

And that is why I love the holidays.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

As promised...

As the winner of the Dr. Isis Naughty Monkey giveaway, I am dutifully fulfilling my obligation to post the evidence of how hard I can rock a pair of heels. And, incidentally, how hard my toddler can rock them.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Delusional parenting 101

A couple of friends who have babies the same age as Bean were getting together to take the kiddos to a Tiny Tots Symphony Performance of the Dissertation City Opera. I was really excited to bring Bean because she LOVES music, and the event was billed as an interactive performance geared towards very small children.

The morning started off great. Bean was very excited to go "see music", and dutifully put on her dress and allowed me to put clips in her hair. She sang ABC's all the way to the symphony hall.

And the first couple of minutes of the performance went exactly as I had imagined. She sat in my lap, we sang with the talented musicians and singers, there were action songs. But after the novelty wore off, Bean was all wiggles and writhed her slippery way right out of my lap.

Before I knew it I was following her up and down the aisle, past all the children sitting perfectly in their parents laps, and back to the stairs. Up and down the stairs Bean went, back and forth, back and forth. Dancing to the music sometimes, but not looking on stage even once. I tried pathetically to get her interested in the music again while nearby parents gave me knowing looks. Good luck, sister the other mothers seemed to say. But at least she wasn't screaming.

Until she decided that she wanted to slide face first down the stairs on her stomach. At this point I tried to pick her up, but that little Bean was more slippery than a greased pig. As she tried to wrest herself from my grasp, Bean somehow smacked her chin on the ground, biting her tongue in two places.

I picked up my poor wailing Bean and hauled her out of the concert hall. Once her bloody tongue had been inspected and deemed to be still intact, I let her burn off a little steam by chasing her around the lobby. When Bean said she was ready to go listen to the music again, I took her back in, just in time for the last song.

She clapped wildly as the musicians took their bow.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Getting back in the saddle

After my house flooded and we spent 3 weeks couch surfing, and then countless more weeks trying to put our life back together, I kind of fell out of my normal routine. One of the casualties of that loss of routine was my daily run.

I am not one of those people who is just naturally a size 6. In fact, sometimes I think those people have made a pact with the devil (a pact I would totally make if the devil would only offer). As it is, if I don't exercise on a regular basis, my jeans don't fit. And I get grumpy. I am a much happier person all around if I A) get regular exercise, and B) don't have back fat.

As life has finally (at least temporarily) settled back down, re-instituting my daily run has been a top priority. In order to find a way to fit that into my day, while still allowing Husband to work late in the lab, we've stopped carpooling.

For the past several weeks my new routine has been to leave the house at 6:00 a.m., drive to the park and ride, take the bus into work, work for a few hours, and then when my lab work offers a break (and when the sun has actually risen) I go for a run. This schedule allows me to work a full day, get in a run, and still pick up the Bean on time. This schedule has pros and cons.

I get my daily exercise, which will stop the current expansion of my giant butt.

I leave the house before Bean is even awake, so I don't get to see her before work.

I get an hour or two of alone time in the lab, which is a great way to be productive.

Bean and I have had to give up nursing in the morning, which has been a little hard on both of us.

I get to run when it's light out, which is safer and slightly warmer.

I spend the first couple of hours each morning dressed in my running clothes, unshowered. Not too great for everyone else.

I'm not tempted to skip a run, so I'm running consistently.

Sometimes when packing my clean clothes to bring to work, I make mistakes. Like forgetting socks. Or in todays case, packing a black lace bra to wear under a white shirt, forcing me to wear my coat all day.

I love running! Eleventy!!(11!!)!!

Other times, like today, the fire alarm goes off while you are using the shower at work, forcing you to dress quickly and stand outside with wet hair. In the cold. In your white T-shirt and black bra.

What big eyes you have

I have no idea where she gets those gorgeous peepers from...

Haiku War

After an understood day of armistice last Friday, Bean-Mom and I return to our Friday Haiku war.

Sometimes it's curly,
other times wispy and wild
Hair cannot be tamed

Owie! she insists
in a concerned little voice
No Bean, a freckle

Thursday, December 4, 2008


-This weekend, my in-laws taught Bean to say Psych! as well as it's proper usage. So her newest game is to hold out a toy (or a piece of food, or a tissue, or a piece of trash she found on the floor...), and then as soon as you reach to accept the item, she pulls it back and yells Psych! at the top of her lungs. This is followed by 30 seconds of adorable maniacal laughter. Then she offers you the item again...

-Bean's report card yesterday said that they are working with Bean on her inside voice, as well as walking when indoors. Bean currently has a collection of bruises that she has acquired by running full force everywhere she wants to go and then tripping and falling into something. She's kind of a clutz (like her mama...).

-Last night on the way home from school, we passed a house that normally has blue Christmas lights strung on the balcony. The owners hadn't turned them on yet, and Bean was sorely disappointed. More blue lights! she cried More blue lights! She didn't want to hear my explanations for why the blue lights were off.

-It is time for me to break out the cold weather running gear. Stupid cold city.

-I ran a very expensive experiment yesterday. The last time I tried it the dumb cells did not behave. I should know tomorrow whether or not it worked this time. Fingers crossed because money is tight until our new NIH grant comes in (April?).

-I have been reading some really great papers this week. I LOVE LOVE LOVE reading good papers. It makes me happy. It reminds me why I love science (even if sometimes I hate bench work).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Random bits

Last week Bean said her first swear word (and I would like it noted that it wasn't my fault!). Husband walked in the door with Bean on his hip to find that Pup had an accident on the bathroom rug. Dammit he said. Dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit Bean parroted for the next 20 minutes. Luckily she seems to have forgotten her newest vocab word.

Our Thanksgiving holiday was totally awesome. We trekked down to Husband's mother's house for the annual eat-stravaganza. Husband's niece, who is six, was there this year and she was an awesome older cousin. Bean and her cousin played together virtually non-stop the entire weekend. It was really great to see. Their favorite game was one in which they took turns running from one end of the house to the other and then threw themselves onto a tumbling mat in a kind of belly flop.

The luxury of four (virtually) stress-free days with my child made returning to the daily grind of work/school jarring for me, and apparently heart-wrenching for the Bean. She wailed when we brought her to school yesterday, crying Mama! Mama! with giant tears rolling down her chubby cheeks. But as usual, when it was time to pick Bean up from school, she ran away from me, desperate to play with one. last. toy.

Last night during dinner, she sang bits and pieces of Jingle Bells.