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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hair Poll

A few months ago, I got bangs. While I love them, I'm just not happy with the style of the rest of my hair. It was a bit too "cute" for my liking, rather than sophisticated. Here is what I'm currently working with:

Fig. 1: Current, very blah, hair (sorry for the not-so-good photo, but you get the point).

I'm often seen with my hair up these days because I just don't know what to do with it anymore. I've had my hair cut twice since then to fix the situation, but it hasn't turned out how I wanted. I think something somewhat drastic needs to be done.

I got a hair consultation done with a real stylist today, and she gave me a couple of good ideas. But, I'm not sure which direction to go. So, my dear readers, what do you think?

Fig. 2: Should I keep the length and put a ton of layers in it (the last time I got my hair cut, I asked for this look and it obviously didn't happen)?

OR

Fig. 3: Should I cut it shorter into a sleek bob-style?


Which hair cut should I get?
Longer layers
Shorter bob
pollcode.com free polls

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wordless(ish) Wednesday

Fig. 1: Our new stained glass window in our new powder room (update and photos to come once the final touches are complete).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

First Month on the Job

It has been almost a month since I started my new job, and I love it so far. The teachers, graduate students, staff, and faculty I work with are all so enthusiastic and excited about outreach. There are no nay-sayers (as I've dealt with plenty of times in the past). In fact, it's the opposite, with everyone wanting to do everything, but not having the time or resources!

That being said, it has been increasingly difficult having Evan at home. That is mostly because I've been having more and more meetings as the month goes on, and having Evan attend those meetings is slightly distracting. Thankfully, DH has been able to help out during the day and has taken Evan for an hour or two (or more) pretty much every day for the past two weeks. He is awesome, and I can't thank him enough for making my first month on the job a bit easier.

DH is taking the first week off in July, and Evan starts daycare that week too. So, DH will help Evan with that transition while I'm able to go into the office. Although I'm slightly excited about Evan starting daycare, I'm also nervous about it - will he like the staff? how will he deal with the other babies? will he cry the entire time? will he forget and/or hate me? - but I imagine every parent feels that way.

As I go into my second month on the job, I feel confident and excited. I have meetings scheduled with all sorts of interesting people to brainstorm ideas for new events, activities, and workshops. I am incredibly blessed that I have a wonderful husband, an amazing son, great family and friends, and now a fantastic job career. It feels like I'm finally where I'm supposed to be and doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

Someone pinch me! On second thought --- don't!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Swear Pyramid

In order to clean up our language so Evan doesn't learn awful things from us, we have a swear jar at home. Every time we swear or say/do something inappropriate, we have to put in $0.25. This money will go in to a saving's account for Evan. It's amazing how much money is in the jar already, but we're definitely cutting down.

How do we deem something is inappropriate? Basically, if we wouldn't want Evan to repeat it, we have to put $$ in.

A few days ago, we got into a debate about whether certain words or phrases should be worth more money. We disagreed on which swears were more insulting/inappropriate.

So, my awesome readers, please put the following common swear words in order from the most to the least level of inappropriateness (using some symbols so sicko Google searches don't bring my blog up):

@ss, @sshole, b!tch, cr@p, d@mn, fr!ckin'/fra¢kin', fu¢k, he¢k, hell, sh!t

Also, where would you put the following in the list:

- "yo' mama" jokes
- taking the Lords name in vain

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Clean Bill of Health

Since Evan's scare when he was a month old, we've been taking him to follow-up with specialists. This hasn't been fun, since they were talking about some serious stuff when he was in the hospital (developmental problems, liver problems, genetic deficiencies, etc.).

One of the specialists was a pediatric neurologist. When Evan was in the hospital, he had to endure (among other things) a CT-scan, an MRI, and a 48-hour EEG (30 electrodes glued to his head for two days). They found nothing wrong. So, just to make sure things were okay, Evan had a follow-up appointment with him at the beginning of June. The doctor took one look at him -- sitting, playing, being a normal kid -- and said there is absolutely nothing to worry about, he's dead on developmentally for his age, and we never have to see him again. YAY!

Another specialist, a pediatric gastroenterologist, was a bit of a different story. During Evan's hospital say, he just happened to get some blood work done because he had high bilirubin (jaundice) levels when he was born. So, they repeated that test at the hospital and found they had gone down substantially, but were still elevated. This doctor proceeded to explain to us that high bilirubin levels could cause staining of the brain which could lead to developmental issues, etc., etc.. Needless to say, we were freaked out. Good thing we both have good heads on our shoulders, because we asked him if that was the leading cause of elevated levels. It turns out that, nope, that's not the case --- it's more likely due to breast milk jaundice and will go away on its own in a month or two.

Sigh. Gotta love doctors sometimes.

Anyway, we ended up having to take Evan to this doctor every month (sometimes twice a month) since then. His jaundice levels did go back to normal after a couple of months, as expected, BUT his liver enzymes were ever so slightly elevated. Last time, in April, they did some blood work to test for common liver problems (Hepatitis, for example), and all came back negative, but his enzymes were still out of the normal range.

Today Evan had another appointment. Of course, the doctor started talking about doing genetic testing, liver biopsies (which have a known mortality rate in children), and other things if Evan's levels weren't normalized this time. Part of me freaked out, but after talking to DH about how this guy tends to jump to the scariest conclusions, we decided to see what the results were before going off the deep end.

And, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, all is well!

So, FINALLY, we can forget about the whole ordeal back in November and know that our little man has a completely clean bill of health! YAY!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Eight Months

Ah, my little man is sure growing fast! How has it been eight months already? Here are some fun things from the past month:

- He does this thing we call "raging bull" where he scrunches up his nose and breathes in and out loudly (like a bull).

- His new favorite thing to do is to squeal. This is not Mom or Dad's favorite thing.

- He loves being surprised. He laughs hysterically if I jump into the room saying "Bang!". Or come from under the covers saying "Boo!". He also likes to be covered up with a blanket and then find his way out, or do this with mommy covered up.

- He gets so frustrated so easily (like his mom). He will attempt to crawl for about 10 seconds before he starts complaining. Needless to say, crawling isn't going so well. Though, in the past few days, he's started to do the inch-worm thing and is able to move...well...inches...with a lot of effort.

- He likes saying "Ahhhh" for as long as he can possibly hold it. We're pretty sure he keeps trying to break his previous record. He especially likes doing this in the car and on walks. We think it's because it makes his voice wobble when we go over bumps, and he finds this fascinating.

- He likes saying "na-na-na", "ga-ga-ga", and "da-da-da". He's said "ma-ma-ma" a few times, but not nearly as much. He's doing multiple syllable sounds too, which is ultra-cute.

- When he sees one of us appear above his crib in the morning, there is a 1-2 second delay before the recognition sets in and then he gives us a huge smile and starts squirming like crazy.

- He always wants to play with what we have in our hands, even if he just put it down seconds before.

- He still absolutely loathes baths. Seriously. We actually close the windows during bath time so our neighbors don't think we're torturing him.

- He likes being held upside down, swung around, shaken/twisted side-to-side, and generally treated like a rag doll.

- He's an amazing eater, and has tried more food than I probably did in my first 20 years.

Happy 8-months, little man!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Parallel Lives

My post about what I wish I had done before Evan generated a conversation with a friend of mine about the paths we choose in life. We talked about how everyone wishes they had done something (or many things) differently - be it using their time more wisely, not jacking around in high school, not getting married so young, or any number of things.

BUT, just because someone has wistful thoughts about their past, does not mean they don't love their life the way it is now. We all make decisions in our life that lead us down a certain path. Even though I hated my PhD experience, if I hadn't moved here to pursue it I would have never met DH. All of our past experiences - good and bad - make us into the people we are today.

It's normal to wonder about "what if" - what if I took that job in Germany? What if I waited to have kids? What if I pursued my love of baking? - while still being completely happy with the life we have.

My very wise friend ended our conversation by saying: "You can never do something new without giving up something old."

So true. I guess that's why change (especially a big one) is so difficult.

As I look back at our life before Evan, I do wish we had done things differently and taken more advantage of the time we had. But, I am so happy we "gave up" those things in order to have him in our lives. Nothing --- not an expensive dinner, a quiet hour with a book, or a trip to Australia --- can cheer me up after a tough day more than seeing him smile or hearing his sweet laugh.

For an amazing article about the lives we leave behind, go read this Dear Sugar post.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June Scientiae: Inspiring Women

Biochembelle, over at Ever On & On, is hosting the second Scientiae of the year. She asks bloggers to:
Contribute your stories of historical or contemporary women in STEM who motivate you.
When I read the call for posts, I thought, and thought, and thought about this. As you may have read recently on my blog, I don't have anyone in real life I would consider to be a good mentor - female or male. There really hasn't been anyone who I look at and think "Yes, I want to be like them."

But, perhaps that's the point. Maybe I don't need to be like others. Maybe I need to go forward in my career and in my personal life the way that best fits me and my family.

Since that post, I've gotten together with my master's supervisor and my post-doc supervisor. Now that I don't work for them, I find our conversations are much more open and personal. It could be because Evan accompanies me to these get-togethers, and so conversation automatically goes toward children, work-life balance, etc.. It was quite interesting hearing how my master's supervisor had to change her priorities once she had children (when I worked for her, she did not have children, and I always thought I could never be successful like her because she worked so much), or how my post-doc supervisor had to juggle three kids while her husband was out of town.

These are just two women who have managed to have a family and be extremely successful in their career...I just never knew about it until recently.

I think this is one of the problems with finding someone whom you would like to model your life after: it's just not talked about (this is one of the wonderful things about the academic blogging community, of which Dr. O writes about here). People go about their business, keeping family life and work life separate, and it's difficult to imagine them worrying about their daughter who has a fever or making sure they get to their son's soccer game on time.

There should be a conference for academic parents, where we can share our hardships and celebrations, and share ideas on how we balance it all. We could all serve as roll-models for up-and-coming academics. Instead of never discussing our family lives, we can be open, honest, and supportive and show them it can be done.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

If I Only Knew

The other day, DH and I were talking about how lazy we were before we had Evan. I mean, we had so much time we were constantly complaining that we were bored. I wish I could go back, slap the both of us, and tell us to:

- Travel as much as you can
- Go out for long, quiet dinners at expensive restaurants
- Read books and newspapers in bed on Sunday mornings (or anytime, really)
- Have adult-only dinner parties, and linger at the table with lots of wine and good, uninterrupted conversation
- Watch your favorite TV shows at the actual time they air
- Go to sporting events, concerts, movies, and plays
- Play different sports and hit up the gym whenever you can
- Sign up for classes, like cooking, yoga, and photography
- Enjoy eating all meals at a leisurely pace (actually, enjoy doing anything at a leisurely pace)

I do wish that we had taken more advantage of the (now) seemingly infinite free time we had. But, would I trade Evan in to do any or all of the above? Absolutely not. Our lives are busy now - hectic even - but we're also happier and more fulfilled with the little guy around. And, as Evan gets older, we'll be able to do those things more and more, and have the best of both worlds.

For the parents out there: what are things you miss about your child-free days?

For the non-parents: what are your favorite things about being child-free?

Monday, June 13, 2011

WAH Vs. WOH

I've never been any good at working-at-home (WAH). I get too distracted by things around the house, and I can never leave things half-done.

For example, after I have breakfast in the morning, I need to put my dishes in the dishwasher. But, if the dishwasher is full of clean dishes, then I have to put them away. Then, I have to load the dishwasher with any dirty dishes. Then, hey, since I'm home, why don't I just put a load of laundry in the wash (which then has to be put in the dryer, then put away)?

It's even more difficult with Evan around. The worst is when it's time to feed him solids. I have to figure out what to give him, make it, then get him set up in his high chair. Because he's feeding himself, it takes a long time (typically 30-45 minutes), and I need to be supervising just in case. It also gets super messy. So, after he's done, I need to clean him up AND the 10-foot radius around him. If I don't do it, then everything won't be ready to go for his next meal.

I usually do much better when I work outside the home (WOH). I love having an office. It distinctly breaks up the day into work-time and home-time. I concentrate on work-tasks when I'm in the office, and it gives me much needed face-time with co-workers. Plus, I get to wear all my wonderful new work clothes and be all adult-like.

Of course, right now, taking Evan into the office with me isn't exactly that efficient either. He doesn't last long there because there is very little for him to do (even though I bring lots of toys with us). There are also very few options on where to put him. I bring him in a stroller, but he doesn't like being in it for too long. So, I brought a play-chair in, but he's not such a huge fan of that now that he wants to move around all the time. But, I don't trust his sitting ability enough to just sit him down on the hard tile floor. He bangs his head enough at home, and that's on a carpet!

One nice thing about working on the same campus as DH is he can take Evan from time to time so I can get some work done (or have meetings without interruption). But, he spends a lot of time in the lab, so it can be tough for him to get away. If he can, it's not for long.

So, if I do go into the office now, it's only for a couple of hours here and there. In fact, that's my whole work-life right now: an hour or two here and there. Because of that, I have been working in the evenings and on weekends to feel like I'm working enough. I'm starting to look forward to July (daycare) more and more!

What about you? Do you do better working at home, or working at the office? Does it change depending on what you're working on?

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Lot Of Guilt

There have been a lot of posts in the blogosphere about guilt lately. Here is a quote from Ask Moxie that I think would benefit a lot of us:
I feel like there's always something to feel guilty about if you let yourself. I also feel like sometimes feeling guilt is a way of compensating for feeling like we're not doing enough. As if immersing ourselves in guilt makes up for the stuff we think we should be doing. Which is twisted and ultimately super-destructive to ourselves.
I do believe guilt is a choice, so let's stop the insanity, people! We would be so much happier without it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer Bucket List

MJ over at Livin' the Dream has three months left on her maternity leave, and she has vowed to make the most of it by writing a summer bucket list.

I'll admit, I'm a bit jealous. One thing about going back to work early is that I won't have a full summer to spend with Evan. So, MJ's list has inspired me to put together my own summer bucket list, in order to have lots of things to look forward to over the next few months and still feel like I'm getting a summer with my little man.

So, in no particular order:

- Go to a London Major's game as a family
- Go to Storybook Gardens
- Go to Pioneer Village
- Visit the community pool at least a couple of times
- Head to the beach in Port Stanley at least once
- Go to the Toronto Zoo
- Go strawberry picking
- Take in a Bluejays game
- Go to the Fanshawe Lake Conservation Area
- Visit Sarnia for lunch
- Celebrate Canada Day in Toronto
- Go hiking
- Go to the summer festivals
- See a London FC game
- Have the ILs visit
- Fly kites
- Picnics in the park
- set up the kiddie pool in the backyard
- Have lots of BBQs

Monday, June 6, 2011

Stumps

The previous owners of our house hacked the crap out of everything in both our front and back yards. Okay, that's not completely true...they hacked the crap out of half of everything, and didn't do jack-shit with the rest.

Last year, DH did a great job cleaning up the yards. He got rid of a ton of branches, debris, various bird feeders (seriously - he was finding them all summer), and other junk they left behind, like big concrete feet and stepping stones that said "peace" and "love". So, this year we at least had fairly clean yards to start with.

One thing we're not sure what to do with is a big cedar hedge in the backyard. You see, we share this hedge with the people who live behind us. Their side is immaculate, our side looks like ass. Why? Because the previous owner "trimmed" the hedge with a chainsaw. Oh, yeah. Basically, we have a bunch of stumps and dead branches on our side.

Fig. 1: Stumps circa last fall.

So, for you green-thumbs out there: what should we do? Will it ever grow in again if we just leave it? Should we plant new shrubs on our side? Should we just cover it with bird feeders?

Friday, June 3, 2011

First Couple of Days

I officially started my new job on Wednesday. It's only been two days, and I'm working from home right now, but I can tell it's going to be a struggle having Evan around!

Don't get me wrong - I love being with him, but it's going to be very difficult to balance everything until he starts daycare. I find when I'm working I feel bad about not giving him the attention he needs or deserves. Then, of course, if I'm giving him attention, I'm thinking about what work needs to be done. I feel a bit bad about dragging him to meetings too (for him because it's boring and disrupts his routine, and to the person/people I'm meeting because Evan is a distraction - a cute one, but still). It's not a great situation.

So, I'm really starting to see how great daycare will be for both of us. He'll get the benefit of getting much needed attention, playtime, tons of different activities, etc. while at daycare. I'll get to focus on my work when at work, and focus on him when I'm at home. I think I'll be a much better mother (or at least feel that way).

It's almost nice that I get to experience trying to work at home with him, because I think I'll feel much better about sending him to daycare!