Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!

On the weekend, we took Evan to a local Halloween street party and parade (our community is awesome, and often has street parties and such throughout the year). Even though the parade didn't start until 6:30pm (which is late when dinner is usually at 6pm and Evan goes to bed around 7pm), Evan did really well and seemed to enjoy it. He especially loves people watching, so put people in weird costumes and it's even better!

Fig.1: Evan in his tiger costume. Not really sure what to make of it yet.

Fig. 2: Slightly tired, waiting for the parade to start.

Fig. 3: Smiles finally!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Isaac's a Boob

I got my cat, Isaac, when I moved to Winnipeg for my masters at the very end of 2002.

Fig. 1: Isaac.

We have been through a lot together: moving five times (once to another city), driving half-way across the country, two cats (a male cat, Claude, who died a few years ago, and now a female cat, Isabella), and of course the addition of a husband and baby. I love him. He's my cuddle buddy, and he still sleeps with me every night. I've often told DH that if I had to choose between him and Isaac, Isaac would win because we've been together longer (DH does not find this particularly funny, but I think I'm being cute).

But, recently I sometimes want to drop-kick the damn cat across the room.

He has this incredibly annoying habit of doing this howling/meowing thing just as Evan is nodding off for the night at about 7pm. Then, he does the same damn thing when DH and I go to bed a few hours later and are just starting to fall asleep.

I don't know why he does it, but I do know how to shut him up: I have to practically mail him a written invitation to get into bed with us. I can't just call him once. Nope. I have to call him 3-4 times before he comes upstairs. Then, once he's in the vicinity of our bedroom, I have to tap the bed. He'll come closer, but will sit beside the bed, waiting for me to make room beside me and tap the bed while saying "come on, Isaac". Finally, after this 5-minute dance, he'll come on to the bed and lie down.

Sometimes that's it for the night. Sometimes it's not --- he'll jump down five minutes later to go check something out and then the whole process starts again.

Isaac, I love you buddy, but SHUT THE HELL UP, ALREADY!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

W(ish)W - Evan's Birthday

Fig. 1: First thing on his birthday-day (he's much more awake than either I or DH).

Fig. 2: Opening presents!

Fig. 3: Birthday Jell-O (he had cake at daycare, so we didn't want him to have that twice in one day).

Fig. 4: Singing "Happy Birthday" to the little man at his second birthday celebration.

Fig. 5: Eating cake :)

Fig. 6: Actually kept the hat on long enough for me to get a cute-ish photo of him. Happy birthday, little man!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Space Exploration: Yay or Nay?

Last week, I did an outreach activity with a class of grade 5-8 gifted students. These events typically go like this: the first day the students learn about impact craters, how they are formed, etc.. They then learn about dependent/independent variables and are given a demonstration of a cratering experiment (dropping balls into a bin of flour). We tell them how they can design their own experiments (choosing to change one independent variable, keeping all others constant, they can measure a change in one dependent variable). The second day, they design and run their experiments. The final day, we come back to the classroom to find out what they did, what issues they had, etc., and then do a show-and-tell with impact rocks and meteorites.

This class, however, took things in a completely different direction. Apparently, during the second day, they began to talk about whether funding for space exploration should be continued. They got so wrapped up in this discussion that the teacher wanted them to act out a debate with us (the "experts") there to add information as necessary.

So, on the third day, we ran this debate. Each student decided how they felt about the subject and were congregated by groups around tables (yes to human and robotic space exploration, yes to only robotic missions, no to everything, and undecided). Each group then got about 5 minutes to talk amongst themselves to decide which points they wanted to present during the debate. Then, one person from each group got about 1-2 minutes to list their points. After each group went, the debate began!

It was really interesting hearing their opinions (and what those opinions were based on), and how passionate they were about them. We tried our best to stay out of it, but we did interject facts if someone was way off (for example, gas on Jupiter is NOT the same gas we put in our cars). Many people actually changed their minds, so changed tables during the process.

During the debate, we took notes, so at the end we addressed a few points that were brought up a lot. For example, many talked about the economics of spending so much money on space exploration, so we let them know that NASA gets less than 1% of the American budget (we tried not to imply whether that is too much or too little).

At the end, there were still two students decidedly in the "we should NOT explore space" category --- that is, until we brought up the fact that the iPod one of the girls was taking notes on wouldn't be here if it wasn't for missions to space. Same with GPS, satellite TV, and cell phones (here's an awesome site about spin-off technology). They moved over to another group pretty quick after that!

Even though the students need to work on their fact checking and debate skills, it was really rewarding to be a part of something like that. I feel good about the future of our world with these kids in it.

Friday, October 21, 2011


A post over at FeMOMhist got me thinking if my blog fits nicely into one category or the other. Or, even better, what kind of blog do my readers view it as?

So, here's a poll (if you answer other, please expand in the comments):

How would you categorize this blog?
Alternative Science Career
Other category (please comment)
Doesn't fit in to a category
pollcode.com free polls

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

One Year

One year ago today, our little man decided to surprise us and arrive five weeks early.

Fig. 1: Evan, about 2 hours old.

It sure has been quite the year - from the rough start at the NICU and another hospital stay a month later, to our first Christmas as a family, to DH going back to work and me figuring out how to be a stay-at-home mom, to finally welcoming in spring, enjoying summer with our little man, and finally to me going back to work and Evan starting daycare. It's definitely been a wild, and fast, ride!

I have loved seeing how Evan has developed into a little boy. He has changed from an orange-tinged sack of potatoes, to a little boy who loves to explore, laugh, and play. In between, he has gone through all sorts of stages - when all he would do was eat and sleep, to being a fairly difficult baby in his 2nd to 4th months, to becoming a generally happy kid.

Fig. 2: This smile is pretty much plastered on his face most of the time these days.

It's been amazing to watch him learn. It's crazy to think about all the things he can do now: rolling, sitting, crawling, standing, cruising, babbling, smiling, laughing, clapping, pointing, waving, playing, climbing, eating (oh, the eating!)...and a zillion other things.

I think watching him learn will continue to be my favorite thing of all. I am completely in awe how he can pick something up and figure it out. How he can learn so quickly, and how his sense of curiosity leads him to learn even more. One of my biggest wishes is that he never loses that curiosity.

So, my little man, my cute-apotamus, my E-dawg, my Evan...Happy 1st Birthday to you! I'm sure the next year will bring even more amazing things!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Book Review: House Rules

My 11th book of the year was House Rules by Jodi Picoult. I'm a fan of her books, and this one did not disappoint. It's about an 18 year-old boy (Jacob) with Asperger's Syndrome. He has a fascination with forensic science, and because of this he gets in the middle of a murder case and becomes the prime suspect.

I do not know a lot about Asperger's, but it seemed like Picoult portrayed it very well in this book. It was frustrating to read from the mother's (Emma) point of view, learning all she has to deal with and how she had to give up her whole life. But, you could also feel the love she has for her son, and how she wouldn't want him any other way. It was also interesting reading from Jacob's perspective, and I would be interested to know how accurate his portrayal is.

The plot was typical Picoult, with twists, gasp-able moments, and big court scenes. Typically good, I might add.

There were a couple things that did rub me the wrong way though:
1. The whole story wouldn't have ever developed if there was a bit of simple communication from another character - nicoleandmaggie wrote about this kind of thing just a few days ago.
2. The "connection" between vaccinations and autism was mentioned a few times, and that made my head hurt and skin crawl.

I'm giving this book a 4/5.

Friday, October 14, 2011

"Nice" Drivers

Drivers that stop following basic traffic rules just to be "nice" drive me up the frickin' wall.

This includes drivers who:
- "wave" you through a 4-way stop, even though it's clearly their turn
- stop in the middle of a busy 4-lane road to let a pedestrian cross the street, and it's not even a cross-walk (and the other lanes of traffic are still moving)
- similar to the previous, stop to let another driver go through an intersection, even though there are other lanes of traffic still moving, so the car being "let through" can't get through at all

I get people are just trying to be nice, but for the love of God, it just screws everyone up! Just follow the damn rules of the road and everything will flow much smoother.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Daycare Art

One of the cutest things about daycare is the little art projects they do. Here are a few of our favorites so far:

Fig. 1: Marble art. They put a bunch of marbles in paint, and the kids pick them out and rub/roll/etc. them on the paper.

Fig. 2: A butterfly made from Evan's hand and foot prints.

Fig. 3: What Thanksgiving would be complete without a hand-turkey?

They also have little parties at the centre. In August, they had a Teddy Bear Picnic, where all the kids brought their favorite teddy bear to daycare. In the afternoon, they all went outside and had a picnic with their teddy bears. How cute is that?
Fig. 4: Evan's first certificate.

This month, they had a Thanksgiving dinner last Friday, and they'll be having a Halloween party on the 31st - I'm sure the photos from that day will be awesome.

Have I mentioned how much we love this daycare? It was really tough for the first week or so (on me), but we are so happy that we went this route. Evan absolutely adores it, and really likes the staff and the other kids. They do all sorts of fun things - art, parties, and the older kids go on field trips a couple times per month. Their menu is way better than anything I eat during the week (seriously - it's a bit sad). All the older kids apparently just love Evan - he gets kisses when he arrives in the morning, and they play with him during outdoor time. So sweet :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Not As Planned

Here is how this weekend was supposed to go: On Saturday, I had to organize two outreach events (one from 1-4pm, another from 5-9pm). DH was excited to have one-on-one time with Evan, and would come to both events so I could see them. Sunday we would make our turkey dinner for Thanksgiving, watch football (obviously kicking ass in our pool), and enjoy the day. Monday we would take a family outing to a local farm with apple picking, a pumpkin patch, and all things Fall.

Here is how it really went:

Saturday started out fine enough, with DH getting groceries and me spending time with Evan. About ten minutes before I had to leave for my first event, DH got very VERY ill. I had no idea what to do. I knew how awful it would be for him to have to look after Evan while sick, but I couldn't back out of the events. DH assured me they'd be fine, so off I went.

The first event at the Children's Museum went okay - not great, but about 50 people came by. I checked in with DH - he wondered if I could come home at some point, as he was not feeling any better. So, after setting up the second event, I came home to a very sick DH lying on the couch with a very upset Evan bawling his eyes out in DH's face. I scooped Evan up, cuddled, played, changed diaper, fed, and put to bed. DH and I decide to move the turkey dinner to Monday, since we weren't sure how he'd be feeling on Sunday.

I went back to the second event, which also wasn't super great -- again only about 50 people showed up. We all blamed the low turnouts on it being Thanksgiving weekend, and a gorgeous one weather-wise at that. I get home, and DH is feeling good enough to eat something. Hmm...12 hour bug of some sort?

Sunday morning I woke up at 6:30am and couldn't get back to sleep. Evan woke up at about 7am, so I fed him and played with him, letting DH sleep in and recover a bit from the day before. By about 9am I was exhausted, so DH took Evan for a long walk and I went back to bed for two hours. That afternoon, we just relaxed around the house, watching football (doing very shitty with our picks), and hanging out in the yard. By 8pm I started feeling nauseous, so went to bed.

That whole night I fluctuated between feeling nauseous and having a panic attack - heart racing, shortness of breath, etc. - about feeling nauseous (I practically have a phobia of vomiting). I "slept" for 12 hours, and felt awful when I finally got out of bed, and felt awful pretty much all day. DH was a trooper, taking care of Evan, and even cooking up the whole turkey dinner while both Evan and I were napping. By the time dinner was ready, I felt like I could kind of eat something, so we both had a bit of Thanksgiving dinner in front of the TV.

Plus, we only got 5 points --- 5!! out of 13!! --- in the football pool this week. We couldn't do worse than that if we tried!

Not exactly what you would call a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend - the last long weekend of the year.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Just a heads -up, in case you're interested, tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 8th) is International Observe the Moon Night!

This event was started by NASA and a few other partners three years ago (I believe), with just a few events. Last year, there were 502 events in 53 countries, and they're hoping for more this year!

Take a look at the website to see if there is an event in your area. Also, if you're an artistic type, they are having an art contest! There are 10 categories, from poetry to graphic novels, and everything in between. They will be taking entries until November 5th.

We will be hosting an event at the local observatory - should be a fun one (and it also means the end to a very long and busy week for myself, so YAY!).

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I'm sick. Again.

DH came down with a flu/cold over the weekend. I figured, since I have had it twice already this season, that maybe I've worked up an immunity.


Yesterday, while doing an outreach event in the morning, I started to feel worse and worse. By the time we got back to the university, I felt like death. I went home, took my temperature (102.2F), and went to sleep. I slept until 6am, when E-dawg thought it was a good time to wake up.

Still feeling horrible, I had to call a teacher this morning to cancel an all-day outreach event. On top of being sick, I now feel guilty about making them come up with a lesson plan 20 minutes before classes start. At least we are able to reschedule.

WW Photo

Monday, October 3, 2011

Homemaking: A Lost Art?

The other day, I was telling DH that I wish I had some of my mother's skills when it came to sewing, baking, getting stains out, and the like. For example, it kind of pains me that we have to take our pants to be hemmed, when I'm sure that's something I could easily do if I had a sewing machine and a quick lesson.

We talked about how our mothers would sew us clothes or Halloween costumes, or bake things for bake sales, or were able to get stains out of anything like magic (for what it's worth, I will note here that both our mothers worked out of the home). Our grandmothers were even more skillful in these areas. For some reason, though, these skills did not seem to be passed down to the our generation.

I know many people do some of these things as hobbies these days (sewing, baking, knitting, cooking, etc.), but is true homemaking, where most women have this skill-set, a lost art? And if so, then why?

DH and I came to three conclusions: 1) money, 2) time, and 3) availability. Our generation is willing to pay more for something if it will save us time, and often it is cheaper to buy something pre-made than to make something yourself. These things are also more readily available than in the past.

As an example, on the weekend I paid $20 for a Halloween costume for Evan. That expense is much less than buying a sewing machine and fabric, plus the time it would take to learn how to sew. Even if I did know how to sew and owned a sewing machine, I doubt I would be able to make such an adorable costume for a similar cost.

There are other things I do though: I cook dinner pretty much every night (and good dinners too, if I do say so myself), I bake (but only every so often), and I knit (definitely as a hobby though - something I do when we're watching TV or something).

What do you think? Are these kinds of skills getting lost? Why or why not? Which skills do you have already? Which do you which you had more of?