Saturday, December 30, 2006

Stretch marks are of the devil

When I found out I was pregnant, I bought some anti-stretch mark cream knowing full well that it wouldn’t work. But I diligently rubbed it on my belly every day in the vain hopes that maybe it might do a little bit of good.

Yeah. It didn’t.

I have so many stretch marks that, when two of my college friends (Leah Lar and Minneapolis-Friend-Who-Now-Lives-in-Pasadena- And-Shall-Henceforth-Be-Known-As-Professor-Lapp) came over for dinner on Tuesday and I showed them, they visibly recoiled in horror. I showed them because they were asking me questions about what life is like post-partum, and I may have inadvertently scared them away from ever having children. They both read my blog, however, so it may comfort them to know that my mother said I have more stretch marks than anyone she has ever seen, and she was an OB/GYN nurse. It may comfort them, but it doesn’t comfort me.

But to anyone who might think that stretch marks can be avoided if you only firm up your belly through exercise, I pose the following question: How, pray tell, was I supposed to firm up my belly button? Because last night I discovered that there are stretch marks inside my belly button. And, seeing as how my belly button has shrunk back down and returned to its former state as an innie, these stretch marks are all compacted down and therefore very dark, and now my belly button is a completely different color than the rest of my skin. Frankly, my belly button looks filthy.

But it’s not as though I’ll ever be wearing a bikini a short shirt ever ever again, so I guess it doesn’t matter. And, perhaps as karmic compensation, I am currently two months post-partum and wearing pre-pregnancy jeans despite my lack of a rigorous workout routine.

I am also wearing a long shirt.

Friday, December 29, 2006

You like me! Or at least you don't suddenly hate me!

I have a stat counter on my blog and because I am vain, I check my stats at least once a day. So imagine my horror when, last Thursday, my hit count suddenly dropped to zero. Zero! Now, it’s not like I normally get hundreds of page loads a day or anything, but I get more than zero!

I figured it was just that people were too busy doing Christmas things and tried not to let it bother me. But when I still had zero hits as of last night I was forced to email Maggie and ask her if her StatCounter was working and could she please go to my blog and let me know that she did so I could check my stats.

Well it turns out that last Thursday, when I updated my Blogger template, the StatCounter code got erased and I forgot to reinstall it.

Thank God.

Ten more minutes!

This morning, Jack started to fuss around 7:00. I knew he was probably hungry, but I wasn’t quite ready to get up, so I sat up and tried to stick the bink in his mouth. Unfortunately, he was having none of it, because he knows the difference between me and the bink. He’s no fool.

It was around the third attempt at getting him to take the bink that I realized what I was doing. Sadly, the bink does not function as a snooze alarm.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Way up north where the air gets cold

For me, the Christmas season doesn’t begin until I’ve listened to John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. I never saw the TV special, but we had the record when I was growing up and all six of us kids loved it. We played it over and over all through the month of December. My favorite song by far was The Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick” as covered by The Electric Mayhem.

When I was in high school our record player broke and I was forced to buy a cassette tape. But my car is too new to have a tape deck, so last year when I saw the CD for only $8, I snagged it.

It took me a while to notice, but one day I realized that I did not remember hearing “Little Saint Nick.” “I must have just missed it,” I thought to myself, but then I checked the song list.

“What the hell?” I said aloud.

“What?” The Husband responded.

“‘Little Saint Nick’ isn’t on the CD!” I cried. “I don’t understand it! Why would they take that off? That was the best song!” Sadly, I had to finish out the Christmas season without ever hearing the best Christmas song ever.

And yesterday, as I listened to my amputated album in the car, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t heard “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with John Denver and Rowlf. I checked the album cover to make sure. “Well, dammit!” I shouted. And “When the River Meets the Sea” was gone too!

What had they done to my beloved John Denver and the Muppets? Why were they removing songs? And if they had to remove songs, why didn’t they take the annoying one about Alfie the Christmas Tree?

So when I found the “Collector’s Edition” of the album with “Extra Tracks” on Amazon, I bought it. Again. Hopefully, this is the last time I’ll have to buy this particular album.

“Extra” tracks my left foot. Hmph. If they were so “extra,” how come I already know all times that Animal shouts “RUN! RUN RUN REINDEER!”

Needlessly difficult

For the first three or so weeks of his life, Jack would tell me he was done eating by closing his mouth. It was all very clear and simple. He would shut his mouth tight and that’s how I knew he was done. But then, when he was around four weeks old, he decided that a better way to tell me he was full was to yell. Loudly. While appearing to be straining for the breast.

Needless to say, this caused me a teensy bit of confusion, as the way that he tells me he is hungry is by yelling loudly and straining for the breast. The only upside is that he sounds really really funny when his yells are muffled by a mouthful of breast.

What? How else am I supposed to make sure he’s not asking for more?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas? Huh?

I do not feel particularly Christmas-y this year, because Christmas has totally snuck up on me. Perhaps because Advent is only three weeks long, thanks to Christmas falling on a Monday. But I think it's more likely because I am somewhat consumed with the care of a new baby. New babies are a lot of work. Who knew? And, thanks to the lots of new baby work, The Husband and I have not been able to decorate as usual. We didn't find the Advent wreath until the second Sunday of Advent for a start. And last week, although I planned to decorate the house during the day, I got sidelined by mountains of laundry and trying to clean up the general chaotic mess that is constantly overwhelming us. 'Cause of the new baby work. I suppose I could have done it had I stayed inside and done nothing else, but that would have resulted in my going completely mad. I therefore sacrificed the decorating at the expense of visiting people.

Thanks to the lovely, lovely internet, I did get all my shopping done. A few things I bought in person, but most of my purchases were online. I got the nativity set up about a week and a half ago, last week I put garland up on the front porch, and two nights ago we got the tree up. We fully intended to put out the rest of our decorations last night, but instead The Husband got the flu. His copious vomiting - and I'm talking COPIOUS; I think I saw an old boot - pretty much put the kibosh on our decorating plans, as I had to take care of him and the baby without his help because he is currently not allowed to touch the baby. So we have a nativity set, a tree, and red bows on the chandelier. That is it.

But hey, think of the time we'll save undecorating!

Friday, December 15, 2006

While we're on the subject

Now that I am watching Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes as an adult who is free from any embarrassing youthful crushes on Wil Wheaton, I can understand why it is that so many TNG fans hated Wesley. I used to kind of like Wesley, but actually he's incredibly annoying.

By the by, I am not admitting to a youthful crush on Wil Wheaton. I am just saying that right now, I do not have a crush on Wil Wheaton circa 1990*. That's all I'm saying.

*Or circa any other year, lest you misunderstand me. This is a Wil-Wheaton-Crush-Free household, thank you very much.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I'm a doctor, not a TV historian!

The Husband and I are currently watching Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2 on DVD thanks to Big Sister #1 who loaned us the discs. But Dr. Crusher is mysteriously not on board the Enterprise. Wesley is there, but instead of Beverly the ship's doctor is some woman with short curly hair. The Husband, who claims to have seen every TNG episode when they were originally aired, has no idea where Dr. Crusher is.

Does anyone know?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pressure equals force times area

MO: Don’t you just love holding him when he’s all snuggly like that?
THE HUSBAND: Yes, but I don’t love it when he punches me in the throat.
MO: Yeah, I don’t like that much either.


The Doktah was feeling overwhelmed with her laundry list of tasks to complete. In addition to her regular experiments, she was also working on a paper submission, an abstract for a conference, and one of The P.I.’s grants. Since there was no way she could finish everything that week, she asked The P.I. which things had the most priority.

“Everything’s a priority,” he told her.

Ah. Thanks so much.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thanksgiving traditions

Post inspired by Miss Doxie.

2002 (The first year Mo and The Husband had Thanksgiving together):
MOTHER-IN-LAW: Would you like some squash?
MO: Oh, no thanks. I don’t really like squash.
MOTHER-IN-LAW: How about you, The Husband?
THE HUSBAND: No, I actually hate squash.
MOTHER-IN-LAW: Oh! I had no idea!

MOTHER-IN-LAW: Squash, anyone? Mo?
MO: No thank you.
MOTHER-IN-LAW: The Husband?
THE HUSBAND: No, Mom. I hate squash.
MOTHER-IN-LAW: Oh, you do? I didn’t know that.

MOTHER-IN-LAW: Mo and The Husband, do you want any squash?
THE HUSBAND: No thanks, Mom. I don’t like squash.
MO: I don’t really like it either, actually.
MOTHER-IN-LAW: Oh, sorry! I didn’t realize.

MOTHER-IN-LAW: Here, Mo. Have some squash.
MO: Oh, uh, no thanks.
MOTHER-IN-LAW: No? OK, well pass it over to The Husband.
THE HUSBAND: Mom, we don’t like squash.We’ve never liked squash. We hate squash.
MOTHER-IN-LAW: Oh my goodness! Really?

(Mo returns from soothing the baby; The Husband goes to soothe in her place so she can actually eat dinner on Thanksgiving)
MOTHER-IN-LAW: Mo, do you want any squash?
MO: Oh, no thanks.
MOTHER-IN-LAW: Do you think The Husband will want any when he gets back to the table?
MO: (laughing) No. Because we hate squash.
MO: Yes.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Note to self

I just finished addressing the Christmas cards which, naturally, are pictures of Jack in a Santa suit. I used a gold pen to write notes on the photos, and the pen leaked a little bit. This morning I noticed some gold stains on my laptop. The ink is a little bit rubbed off and there is no luster of gold, so I think I'm going to have to write myself a note explaining that the stains are not dried poop despite being pretty much the same color. Because at this point, I pretty much assume it's all poop.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Whom do you love?

I’m not a mushy person. Nevertheless, Jack’s drooly smiles have me pretty much wrapped around his little tiny pinky. And this morning, he started to cry when The Husband put him in his car seat as we were getting ready to go to church. He stopped crying as soon as I walked into the room, because, apparently, he missed his mom.

Discovering that my very presence was enough to make Jack feel better certainly pulled at my heartstrings, but, Jack, you had me at [gummy smile].

The Husband felt a little sad that Jack sort of likes me best right now, what with my spending every day with him and feeding him and all, but I reassured him that soon, Jack will be hero-worshipping his dad. How could he not? The Husband can do all kinds of things that I can’t do. He can manipulate sports equipment, for example. Me, I fall down a lot. The Husband can also build things out of wood. And Legos! To be fair, I can also build things out of Legos. It’s just that those things are basically stacks of Legos.

So, rest assured, the day is fast approaching when Jack will prefer his dad to me. Oh, sure, he’ll probably run to me first when he needs comforting, but the rest of the time he’ll rather be with his dad. Because, let’s face it, his dad is just plain more fun. His dad is the one, after all, who made Jack laugh for the very first time today.

Oh, yeah, we are whipped.

Friday, December 01, 2006

An ounce of prevention

This morning, The Husband asked me to please wake him up when I feed Jack from now on. This is because last night, for the second time, The Husband accused me of putting Jack back to sleep without feeding him. He woke up and saw me swaddling Jack up to get him ready to put to bed, and said, “Did you feed him?”

It had been over three hours since the last time I fed him and I get increasingly weary with each nighttime feeding, so there was more than a little testiness in my tone when I snapped, “Yes, The Husband, I fed him.” But who wouldn’t be at least marginally insulted by the implication that they are using the “starve the baby back to sleep” method of child rearing?

Thus, The Husband’s request that I wake him up whenever I feed Jack from now on. He is attempting to avoid a future incident wherein I completely lose my temper at being accused of starving my child. The Husband does not like it when I lose my temper. Because I so rarely get angry (Confidential to The Doktah: Shut it.), he once told me that being the recipient of my wrath is “like being savaged by a chipmunk.”

The good news is that I don’t have to shoot him death looks anymore.

This post has been brought to you by Emily, who is an Internet Rock Star and linked to me again! So I had to write something new for her legions of fans who are checking me out. Hi, Emily’s readers!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The wall's not as far as you think

I was rocking Jack to sleep a few hours ago and noticed some dried poop particles on the window blinds. The windows are a good 4.5 to 5 feet away from the changing table. Unfortunately, this means that the mysterious little stains I recently saw on the quilt hanging on his wall are also poop.

I wasn't kidding about the distance.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

If I’m awake, everyone should be awake

We are extremely fortunate in that Jack usually wakes up twice a night. Once around 1:00 or 2:00 am, and once around 4:00 or 5:00 am. And he also usually goes back to sleep with minimal difficulty, although not always. But the other night, he woke up at 1:30 or so, and then again at 3:00. At 1:30, I fed him after The Husband changed him. When he was done, The Husband, who had just woken back up, saw me swaddling and starting to soothe Jack back to sleep, and he said, “Uh, it’s been almost four hours.” Apparently, he was under the impression that I had sent The Husband to change Jack and then decided to skip the feeding all together and just put him back to sleep.

“Yeah, I already fed him,” I told The Husband.

The Husband was doubtful. “Are you sure?” He really, truly thought that I was just too lazy and tired to feed our hungry baby.

“Yes, I’m sure!” I said. The Husband very reluctantly decided to accept this, and went back to sleep. Which means he was asleep when Jack woke up again a scant ninety minutes later, looking for more food. Asleep The Husband was and asleep he stayed while I had to wake up, stay awake while Jack ate, and then put him back to sleep.

The entire time Jack was eating, I shot dangerous looks at The Husband. It was all I could do not to poke him and say, “Hey! I’m awake! Jack’s eating! Hey!” but I heroically restrained myself.

However. After I got Jack to go back to bed and started to get myself settled, I noticed that about 90% of our blankets and sheets were on The Husband’s side of the bed. In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that this was purely accidental; The Husband does not routinely steal the covers. But on this particular night I was still pretty mad at him for sleeping through the last feeding, so when I lay down and tried to pull the blankets up over myself only to find that they barely covered me, I resorted to yanking them quite viciously from The Husband. I also incorporated a violent roll-over-and-pull-the-blankets move in the secret hope that The Husband’s sleep would be at least a little disturbed.

No such luck.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

How do you spell relief?

Every once in a while, it strikes me that I am currently not experiencing acid reflux, and it’s all I can do to keep from audibly sighing in relief. Aside from snuggling the snuggly baby, the lack of acid reflux may very well be the absolute best part of not being pregnant anymore. I had it almost constantly for the last month or two of my pregnancy, and, as hard as it may be to believe, acid reflux was the worst part of my pushing experience. I’m sure that the contractions would have been the worst part had I not elected to have the epidural, but as it stood, that damn reflux was unbelievably distracting. It kept drawing my focus to my throat, which was exactly the wrong place to focus. I believe that acid reflux was at least 25% responsible for slowing down my progress.

The good news is that you are allowed to have Maalox while in labor. The bad news is that Maalox does not do anything to lessen the actual labor pain.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Not crazy

So I felt the need to reassure the legions of 20 or so people who read my blog on a regular basis that The Husband and I have not gone off the deep end, what with the data-taking and threat of bar graphs. Big Sister #1 got all worried and emailed me because she thought I’d gone off the deep end.

First of all, I am pretty much done with The Baby Whisperer. I found her E.A.S.Y. routine helpful in that I am better able to interpret Jack’s cries and give him what he wants based on his eating/hangin’ out with his peeps/sleeping cycles. For example, Jack cannot stand being tired, and often thinks he’s hungry when he’s actually tired. So when he’s crying but has eaten less than two hours ago and is not rooting, I swaddle the bejeezus out of him, bring him to a dark room, and quiet him down. The Baby Whisperer’s soothing techniques also work pretty well for Jack, and she has a secret tip for burping that also helps.

However. I had to stop reading the books because she’s a little bit nuts. Jack is only four weeks old, so if he wants to be held, I’m damn well going to hold him. I will also rock him if he so desires. And because, as a new mom, I have been stricken with self-doubt and insecurity, I couldn’t keep reading a book which kept telling me that I shouldn’t let my baby sleep on my or my husband’s chests because he’ll get used to it and be unable to sleep without us. Four weeks old, people!

I’d also like to comment on the whole Excel thing. As Big Sister #4 put it yesterday, the fact that The Husband and I were inputting data into Excel is not actually a sign that we have gone overboard. Although using Excel to track their baby’s behavior would be a warning signal for, say, an English major, The Husband and I are engineers. That’s just how we think.

That said, I’m pretty much done not only with the Excel tracking thing, but also with the whole “writing every single thing Jack does down” thing, because I am feeling a bit more comfortable now, and no longer need the crutch to figure out what he wants when he wants it.

But also because I need to chill the heck out.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

His mother's child

Jack is pretty much a tiny clone of The Husband, so I was pleased to find something he has picked up from me. Yesterday during his naps, I left the radio on for company. Tuned, naturally, to NPR. After he fell asleep in his second nap, I turned off the radio.

He cried.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

How many engineers does it take to raise a baby?

I’ve been reading Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg, and have therefore been keeping track of what time Jack eats, how long he does an “activity” (such as staring at the black and white picture thingy), when and for how long he sleeps, etc. But I am having trouble actually seeing a pattern to his schedule, and so I decided to input all of my data into Excel so that I can better visualize his behavioral trends.

“What’s the best way to enter the data?” I asked The Husband. “I think I should probably make a column for the time of day in fifteen-minute increments and then have daily columns for ‘Eat,’ ‘Activity,’ and ‘Sleep.’ What do you think?”

“Yeah, that will work,” replied The Husband. “And just put for how many minutes he does each thing at the start time and it will be easy to make a bar graph.”

I’d say the two of us are pretty well matched, wouldn’t you?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ill-fitting pants

Internet, today I tried on a pair of my pre-pregnancy pants, and THEY FIT! MOSTLY! (I think that at the end of the day they'd be tight, but I will take what I can get.) In a frenzy of excitement, I then re-tried on some pre-pregnancy jeans, but they are still way too tight. As are the rest of my pre-pregnancy pants. After trying them all on, I remembered that the pants that currently fit (mostly) were actually kind of too big before I got pregnant, but STILL! Wooooooo!

This is doubly exciting, because all of my maternity pants are pretty much too big (except for the magical Mimi Maternity jeans which were SO WORTH the $70 as they are by now at a per-wear cost of less than $1), and my transition one-size-larger jeans are a little too big, so I look pretty schlumpy all the time. Yesterday, Emily and I had an email conversation about our current problem of ill-fitting pants, and I told her that I can't wait till I get the doctor's all-clear to work out again. Not for my health. Not for my vanity. No, my sole motivation for working out and getting back to my pre-pregnancy size is my white-hot hatred of having to buy new pants. Finding pants that fit is just second only to finding a bathing suit that fits in terms of painful shopping ordeals.

In unrelated news, yesterday The Husband and I got DirectTV because they were offering a phenomenal deal in combination with Verizon DSL. So today we called Comcast to cancel, and Comcast got very concerned and asked why. We ended up in a bidding war between Comcast and DirectTV but decided to stay with Comcast because they agreed to give us the three-for-$99 deal that they've been advertising.

The interesting thing is that I called to ask for that deal a few weeks ago, and was told that we were not eligible because it's only for new subscribers. I said, "Well, what if I told you that in that case, we're going to cancel our internet and switch to DSL?" The Comcast rep was sorry to hear that, but the offer was only for new subscribers. The Husband told the new Comcast rep this story, and he could practically hear the guy's eyes roll.

Long story short, the DirectTV installer wasted a lot of time yesterday drilling a completely unnecessary hole into our wall, because we've decided to stay with Comcast, whom I now really wish we had called to cancel service before setting up DirectTV.

Friday, November 17, 2006


FYI: Clay Aiken is not a good substitute for Regis Philbin. He also needs a haircut in a bad, bad way.

Speaking of haircuts, Curt Schilling was on Celebrity Jeaopardy! last week, and he appears to be sporting a mini-mullet. THAT'S got to go.

There's a lot of time for TV when you breastfeed.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Jack’s rules for diapers

  1. Try to poop only when the diaper is not on. The best case scenario is pooping when there is no protective diaper under or over the bottom, but Mom and Dad quickly get too smart for that particular gambit.
  2. It helps to poop loudly while diapered and pretend to be done, but save the bulk of it for the time between diapers.
  3. Put some force behind that poop. Aim for the wall. It may seem far, but trust me, you can hit it!
  4. If you miss your chance at the naked poop, make sure you poop in the new diaper before it has been on longer than 30 seconds.
  5. Just for fun, see if you can dip both feet.
  6. Remember, boys, poop is not the only thing that you can aim at the wall!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Future high jumper

Jack has strong legs. He can push himself up to a standing position when we hold him under his arms. People, notably The Husband, keep expressing surprise at how strong his legs are. I, however, am not surprised.

“What, you think my saying ‘Oof!’ every time he kicked me was just for my own amusement?” I say to The Husband. “Trust me, I already knew he had strong legs.”

Baby mysteries

How is it that one tiny person can manage to strew so much stuff around the house? He doesn’t even play with toys yet, but somehow, his stuff is EVERYWHERE. Particularly the selection of places for him to lie down. Places he doesn’t actually use that often because he really likes to be held, and, let’s face it, we really like to hold him.

At least we haven’t had to set up the Pack ‘N’ Play which is fairly huge and would take up the remaining six square feet of space in our living room not yet occupied by the bouncy seat, the swing, and the Moses basket. (I’ve been leaving the bassinet in the bedroom.)

He also generates an enormous amount of laundry. The volume of laundry is particularly impressive given the tininess of his clothes. That’s a lot of tiny clothes. And they are usually strewn about the house.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

At least Sabrina was a girl

A couple of years ago, back when Rosie O’Donnell had a daytime talk show all to herself, I happened to be watching with Big Sister #4. Minnie Driver was the guest, and she and Rosie got to talking about Charlie’s Angels. Minnie said she used to play Charlie’s Angels with her sisters when she was growing up.

“Hey!” I said to Big Sister #4. “That’s just like us and T.!” T. is our cousin who is a year older than me and two years younger than Big Sister #4. The three of us used to play Charlie’s Angels all the time. Big Sister #4 was always the blond Jill (wishful thinking on Big Sister #4’s part; she’s nowhere near blond). T. usually got to be Kelly, and I was left with the uptight Sabrina. I, however, did not realize that Sabrina was the uptight one because we were not actually allowed to watch Charlie’s Angels. Naively, I thought Sabrina was just as cool as Jill and Kelly.

I turned my attention back to the television just in time to hear Minnie Driver say, “But I was the youngest, so my sisters always made me be Sabrina.”

“What a coincidence!” I said. “Minnie Driver was always Sabrina just like I was always Sab – HEY!” For that was when I found out that I didn’t so much get to be Sabrina as I was stuck with being Sabrina.

Still, I got off easy, because on the show, Rosie revealed that she, too, played Charlie’s Angels with her big sisters. She, however, had three older sisters. So Rosie had to be Bosley.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Three years

As I was cleaning up the dinner dishes tonight, The Husband came into the kitchen and gave me a hug. “Happy anniversary,” he said.

“Oh yeah!” I exclaimed. “I forgot!” A lot has been going on lately, so it sort of slipped my mind. “So,” I said. “Three years.”

“And a baby!” replied The Husband.

“So I gave you a son for our anniversary,” I said to The Husband. “What did you get me?”

“Uh…” came the response.

“Nothing?” I cried. “I gave you a baby and you got me nothing at all?”

“Well, I remembered our anniversary,” he protested.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

42 weeks

Although I don’t intend this blog to become 100% baby 100% of the time, there’s not a whole lot else going on in my life right now. Also, I’m only two weeks postpartum, so I think I get to talk about the baby a bit longer.

Two things have surprised me about having a baby. First, I did not expect the recovery to take so long. Naively, I sort of thought that by now, I’d be flitting around town, happily toting the baby with me, taking long walks, and going to visit my mom, my mother-in-law, and my sisters whenever I wanted. Instead, I am feeling pretty damn proud of myself because I managed to clean the bathroom yesterday and today, I went to CVS and I voted. And I walked to the polling center (which is not, as the previous sentence might indicate, located at CVS). It’s, like, an eight-minute walk. Granted, it’s about a four-minute walk for a normal person, but still. Riding high on endorphins here. Now, though, I have to lie down for awhile and rest. All that voting really took it out of me.

The other surprising thing is how very quickly I forgot what it was like to be pregnant. I curl up on the couch just like I used to in the bygone days before Jack and don’t even notice what I’m doing. The feeling of beached whaleness are but a distant, hazy memory.

40 weeks

By some miracle, I am already down one size above my pre-pregnant size, and the jeans that are one size larger are even slightly loose.

42 weeks

Please believe that this drastic drop in size is in no way attributable to my virtuous pregnancy exercise regimen, because my pregnancy exercise regimen consisted of parking sort of far away from the lab, but only until they told me I could have the company space close to the door. I also talked a lot about going for walks. I didn’t go for walks, mind you. I just talked about it.

Apparently, I can thank breastfeeding for shrinking my uterus, and possibly my pre-pregnancy exercise regimen served me well. But mostly, I think I’m just lucky. Arwen is already back in her pre-pregnancy pants, and she thinks maybe it’s God’s way of saying “Sorry about all that nausea you had for the first four months.” Maybe that’s true, and applies to me as well. Whatever the reason, I’m not complaining.

Not about that, anyway.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Today I am wearing non-maternity pants. Granted, they are a size bigger than my pre-pregnancy pants, bought in anticipation of my being sick to death of maternity panels but not yet back to my original size, but it's still an exciting day. Woo!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Rubber suits

Jack just pooped. How do I know? Because he is LOUD when he poops. Not dainty, this kid. The Husband said he hopes he never does get diarrhea, because we'll have to wear rubber suits to change him.

The third night home with him, we were naturally anxious and aware of his every little sound. (Not that we aren't still hyper aware.) He was sort of squirmy and slightly fussy and whimpery, and then there was a loud "PBBTTTHHHH!" and then... silence. The Husband and I leapt out of bed because we both thought that he had vomited and was choking to death, hence the lack of fussing and squirming. Turns out, no. Just poop.

On a completely unrelated note, the guy currently on "1 vs 100" is about to lose $6950 because he thinks that a shrug does not have sleeves. Just thought you'd like to know.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Baby heads

So it turns out that having a baby is really hard work. Who knew? At any rate, updates are going to be sparse for a while - sorry about that. But there's a new guy in charge here.

However, at the hospital The Husband and I had the following conversation:

ME: Have you smelled his head yet?
THE HUSBAND: Yeah. So you're telling me that that's really not baby powder or anything? That's just the way his head smells?
ME: Yup.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The new boss

John Thomas (Jack)
8lbs. 4oz.
19 inches
DOB Oct. 24 11:30 ish PM
Cute as anything.

The Husband

Monday, October 23, 2006

Quick update

Yup, still pregnant.

Man, I can't BELIEVE I was three weeks late. Two days late is killing me.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I think that Carly Simon song is about me, actually

First of all: The baby is still firmly ensconced in my womb and appears to have no intentions of budging. I am not writing this from the hospital, nor am I on my way to the hospital, nor do I have any reason believe I will ever get to go to the hospital. So if you’re here for the baby check, consider yourself updated.

But the good news is that I did get to go to the wedding yesterday without giving birth at the reception. And surprisingly (at least to me), I did get some “Wow, you look fantastic” compliments. And I also got cake. All in all, it was a pretty good day.

There were, however, a few problems. After I finished doing my hair and makeup, I got dressed, put on my shoes, and walked out to the car. The mistake here was putting on my shoes. Because, you see, I am far too vain to wear the sensible flat black loafers with my dress and sparkly jewelry, so I wore my silver sparkly heels. Three inch heels. Three inch skinny heels.

I am a moron.

I figured that I’d be fine because I would mostly be sitting, but the brief walk to the car combined with the act of actually getting into the car – I never noticed before that The Husband’s car is much lower to the ground than mine – pretty much did me in. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to bring the sensible black loafers with me, so I only wore the fancy shoes while in the church. Even so, my back was pretty damn angry with me for the rest of the day.

But it’s just that the silver sparkly heels are so pretty! And the sensible black loafers, which I wore at the reception and therefore had to wear in the formal picture of the choir, looked truly ridiculous.

So, basically, what I’m saying is that even knowing how quickly the heels caused me terrible back pain, I’d wear them again. Because I am just that vain.

Except I’d bring them into the reception with me and wear them in the photo.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

T-minus 0 days. Hah.

Nope, no baby yet.

Lying liars who lie

I am a very gullible person. As a result, people enjoy teasing me. The plumber, for example, tried to convince me the new toilet was pink and that we wouldn’t be able to use the bathroom vanity for 48 hours after it was installed. And back in grad school, one of Grouchy Guy’s simplest pleasures was to try to see what he could get me to believe. It was never malicious, but it was constant.

One morning, we arrived at the lab to find list of lab members with funny nicknames taped to the door. The author of said list was anonymous, but I knew it was Grouchy Guy and his buddy, Athletic Post-Doc. It had to be, because I had been out with the two of them the night before, and we had discussed just such a list. Some of the nicknames were even ones I had suggested.

When The Doktah got to her desk, she asked if I knew who made the sign, so I told her. “That’s what I thought,” she said, “but I just asked Grouchy Guy and he denies it.”

I looked at her with pity, and said, “The Doktah, Grouchy Guy lies. He lies all the time.” She was surprised, but seemed to accept this.

Now, as I think back on this conversation, I can see where I got myself in trouble. People don’t like to be called liars, and I should perhaps have chosen a different word, because a few hours later, The Doktah came and told me that Grouchy Guy was mad at me for calling him a liar. “But he does lie!” I said. “He lies to me all the time!”

“Well, I don’t know what to tell you, but he’s insulted,” she replied. “And he still denies making the sign.”

When I saw him that afternoon, I said, “Grouchy Guy, The Doktah said you were mad at me.”

“Yeah, where do you get off telling people I lie?” he replied. “I’m highly offended.”

“But you lie to me all the time,” I protested.

He was indignant. “Name one time I’ve lied to you!” he demanded.

“Well, this morning, after I knocked over that beaker, you told me I ruined your experiment,” I said. “And yesterday, you told me seminar was canceled. The day before that, you said I was supposed to be presenting at group meeting that afternoon.“

Grouchy Guy’s expression turned sheepish. “Oh, yeah. It’s just that I can’t help it! I can’t resist seeing the expression on your face! You always look so worried.”

We sorted everything out. I explained that, although I knew he was only teasing and it’s not as though he let me skip seminar or anything, he was, in fact, telling untruths. These are also known as lies. He stopped being mad.

And admitted to making the sign with Athletic Post-Doc.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

This? This is what makes you feel like an adult?

In 1998, The Husband and I graduated from college.

In 2000, The Husband graduated with his Master’s degree.

In 2003, we got married and I earned my Ph.D.

In July of 2005, we bought a house.

The following November, we bought a living room rug. As we paid for it, The Husband said, “Wow, this really makes me feel like a grown-up.”

Nesting Schmesting

Just got back from the doctor's. No progress.

I'm going to be pregnant for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

So this is nesting

Well, I just spent the morning dusting. This is highly unusual. I’m either nesting or brain damaged. If I find myself ironing, I will have to call the authorities.

This could also be the so-called “burst of energy” my mother told me about that kicks in right before labor, so maybe I won’t be making that wedding after all.


Yesterday, I talked to my four-year-old nephew, The Charmer, on the phone. He was at my parents’ house for the day, and I asked him what he had been doing. Apparently, he and my mom pruned the Japanese Maple in the front yard. “That will make it grow better,” he told me.

“Yeah, I guess so,” I said. “I don’t really know, because I’m not very good with plants. They always die when I plant them,” I told him.

“Really? How come?” he asked.

“Well, I think that sometimes I forget to water them, and then sometimes I water them too much,” I replied. “I don’t really know, but I can’t seem to keep them growing.”

“Well," he said. "That is very surprising. All you do is dig a hole, and put a little water in, and then you put the plant in, and put some more water on top, and then the flowers will grow!” he explained.

Maybe he should be responsible for feeding the baby?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Who were the ad wizards who came up with this one?

“When I buy my food at the grocery store, I’d like to be able to buy a bottle of wine.”

So says the woman on the political ad for Question 1 on the ballot this year, which is whether we, Massachusetts voters, want to change the law and allow grocery stores to sell wine. There have been a series of fairly ridiculous scare ads that equate selling wine in grocery stores with pouring alcohol down the throats of minors and then giving them keys to the car, and there have been a few calm ads that claim the current law stifles competition.

I am going to vote “No” on Question 1. Not because I fear the sudden and dramatic increase in drunk driving that will automatically result from people’s being able to buy wine at the same time as their food, but because I am sort of opposed to competition that results in small independent stores going out of business. If I hadn’t already decided, however, the woman who’d like to buy wine at the grocery store would definitely impact my decision. She would convince me to vote “No.”

Whoever was responsible for casting this commercial should be fired, because the woman in the ad is unbelievably annoying. I am not merely disinclined to help her by voting “Yes” on Question 1. No, I find myself wanting to take an active role in making her life less convenient.

So… great job with that one, People Who Want Me To Vote “Yes.”

T-minus 4 days, supposedly

Well, I’m no longer going to work. I was going to go till Friday, but the hour-long commute each way just became too hard to take, so I gave up today. I am officially on maternity leave.

This does not mean that I have a baby yet. Nor do I expect to have a baby by Saturday. Based purely on a hunch, I think this baby o’ mine is going to be late. Possibly it will be retribution for my own late arrival. I was three weeks late, people. THREE WEEKS. My poor mother. I knew this fact growing up, but until now, I did not realize how long three weeks can be. I cannot imagine being pregnant for another month. And although this baby will not be allowed to be three weeks late, there is no reason to expect him or her to be on time. And I don’t.

But, since I am home today, I watched the Today show, and Deepak Chopra was on plugging his new book. I mention this only because he was wearing a black suit and bright red sneakers. It was fairly awesome.

To be honest, I don’t actually want the baby to come until Sunday or Monday, because one of my church choir friends from Grad School is getting married on Saturday, and I really want to go to her wedding, even though she was so inconsiderate as to choose my due date for her big day. I mean, really. She should have checked with my reproductive schedule before planning her own major life events. Some people.

The good news is that, should I go into labor at the wedding, there will be at least two pediatricians (one of whom is the bride), two brain doctors, a nurse and a midwife in attendance, and at least half of them, notably the midwife, will probably at my table. Still, I’d rather avoid that particular drama, since I think I read in Miss Manners that going into labor at someone’s wedding is an even greater faux pas than wearing white.

I, myself, will be wearing black, and looking large. It is the same very forgiving and stretchy dress I wore to Brother-in-law’s wedding in July, but I don’t think I’m going to get as many surprised sounding, “Wow, you look fantastic!” compliments as I did then, back when I was small. I think that instead, I’ll be getting comments like, “Yikes! Why don’t you sit down? Here, take my chair.”

Monday, October 16, 2006

And now, a tale from The Husband’s grad lab

As we are all aware by now, The Husband is also a huge geek. Even geekier than I, as a matter of fact, at least in the traditional sense. He, however, was smart enough to stop his education with a Master’s Degree instead of subjecting himself to the Ph.D. experience.

But this story is not about The Husband. This story is about one of The Husband’s grad school labmates, Clueless. Clueless was in his second year of graduate school, pursuing a Ph.D. in engineering, having already earned a B.S. in engineering. But one afternoon when both Clueless and The Husband were working on a homework assignment for a class they were both taking, Clueless asked The Husband, “What’s a determinant?”

The Husband was mildly surprised that Clueless did not already know, but realized that the concept of “determinant” is not actually very easy, so he figured that Clueless had just forgotten how to calculate them or something and said, “It’s the cross product of the bottom two rows of the matrix, remember?”

“Huh?” Clueless responded. “I don’t know what you are talking about. I’ve never even heard of a determinant.”

For those of you reading this who are not engineers, let me tell you that The Doktah’s jaw has just hit the floor in shock. Because it is impossible to get a degree in engineering without learning about determinants in about nine different classes. They are first introduced in Calculus III, and then they are used in Thermodynamics, Heat and Mass Transfer, Fluid Dynamics, Differential Equations... I could go on. So, while it is possible that someone could graduate with a degree in engineering without understanding determinants – Lord knows I don’t remember what they are used for, just that they are very, very useful – there is no way to get an B.S.E. without having heard of determinants. This was worse than The Husband’s never having heard of Donnie and Marie.

In closing, I will leave you with Webster’s definition of a determinant. I’m sure it will completely explain the concept to you.

Pronunciation: di-'t&r-m&-n&nt
Function: noun
2 : a square array of numbers bordered on the left and right by a vertical line and having a value equal to the algebraic sum of all possible products where the number of factors in each product is the same as the number of rows or columns, each factor in a given product is taken from a different row and column, and the sign of a product is positive or negative depending upon whether the number of permutations necessary to place the indices representing each factor's position in its row or column in the order of the natural numbers is odd or even

Got that?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

FYI: Due Date

By the by, People of the Internet, my due date is October 21. Which is 6 days from today. I don't think I ever actually told you that.

Phantom leg cramps

During this pregnancy, The Husband has been very good to me. He gives me no flak whatsoever when I play my trump card and sit around instead of doing the dishes like I said I would. And I play this card pretty much all the time now, as I am incapable of performing any tasks without resting for at least an hour before and after. Today, for example, The Husband went grocery shopping, which he hates, and cleaned the tub, which he also hates. And he will rub my back and stroke my head upon request and is just generally awesome. Of course, The Husband has always been awesome, so this is not surprising. There is, however, a dark side to the story.

Being pregnant has increased my proclivity towards leg cramps. Many many times over the past nine months, I have stretched my leg during the night only to be awakened by an intense, shooting pain in my calf muscle which has become locked in the contracted position. The only way to stop the pain is to flex my foot and stretch out the calf muscle, but this is something I am completely unable to accomplish while lying down, gasping in pain.

When this first started happening, I would shake The Husband awake and say, “Ow! Ow! The Husband! Ow! My leg! Ow! Please, can you – ow! Ow! My foot! Ow! My leg!” while uselessly waving the afflicted leg in his general direction. Having just been pulled from a deep sleep, he naturally had no idea that this incoherent gasping translated into, “Please pull my foot back and stretch out my calf muscle.” And he would be kind of annoyed with me.

After this happened a few times, I decided that we had to have some practice runs during the day, and I explained to him that I woke him up like that, I needed him to pull my foot back and flex it for me. This improved matters dramatically, as I was able to wake him up and simply say, “Ow! Leg! Left!” and he would know what to do. But in his sleep-addled state, he still tended to get annoyed with me for waking him up and being incoherent.

One time in particular, as he attempted to pull my foot back and unlock my cramped muscle, he said to me, “Stop fighting me!” in exasperation. You see, my leg cramp was so strong that he thought that I was actually pushing against him with my foot, purposely not letting him stretch out my leg.

The next morning, I asked him about this. “You secretly think I’m making up the leg cramp thing, don’t you,” I said. “There’s actually a part of you that believes I’m waking you up and pretending that I can’t pull my own foot back to stretch out my calf muscle.”

The Husband gave me a sheepish grin. “Uh… yeah,” he said.

But I don’t hold it against him. He came around and believes me now, and he’s been taking care of so many other things that I wouldn’t dream of complaining. And he never makes fun of me when I take off my pants because they’re too tight and take off my sweater because I’m too hot and write blog entries in my underwear.

You know, hypothetically.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

It's not a race, which is good, because I'm losing

OK, everyone in the entire world who was pregnant along with me has had their babies. The Husband's cousin, due a week after me, had her baby on Tuesday. So did his other cousin, also due after me. And Emily, due the same day as me, had her baby on the 10th. And now Arwen, due four days after me, had her baby today! But I feel confident that I will give birth before Maggie, since she is only 10 weeks. (For the record, Emily also finished her bathroom remodel first even though she started it several months after we did. I'm not quite certain I've forgiven her for that.) What is up with everyone being early? I thought first babies were usually late.

Of course I am very happy for everyone, but I can't help but feel jealous. Because I am ready. I bought a diaper pail last Monday, and that was the last thing we needed. The bathroom and pantry are fully functional. Our last birthing class was today. The clothes have all been washed, the nursery is set up:

And I can't wait to dress the baby in these:

We are ready.

So, baby, come on out! I'm dying to meet you! And also to have you stop kicking me in the spleen, or whatever tender spot that is! You know the spot; it's where you like to put your foot when you stretch.

So, any time now would be fine.


Any time.

Friday, October 13, 2006

New Yankees

I am not a very craftsy person. I like to cross-stitch, but that’s pretty much counting and sewing tiny x’s on a grid. It takes no real skill, only patience. Everything else is a complete mystery to me. Take knitting for example. How is it that string is transformed into a sweater using only two sticks? Magic, as far as I’m concerned.

So there’s a show on PBS called New Yankee Workshop. Have you seen this show? Have you seen it? This show is utterly fascinating. Watching this show is like watching a miracle occur before your very eyes. The guy on the show starts of with some planks of wood and maybe some glass or upholstery and by then end of the show he has, say, an ottoman. It’s sort of like The Miracle of Life, only more exciting, because in The Miracle of Life, you see a fetus and hear a voiceover say, “At this point, the ears are beginning to migrate to their final location,” but you can’t actually see the ears begin to migrate. You just have to take the voiceover’s word for it. You can, however, see Norm Abram upholster the ottoman. In real time.

And naturally, he makes it look easy. As you watch, you find yourself thinking, “Well, sure, if I had a lathe, a routing table and a pneumatic staple gun, I, too, could build an ottoman.” But I have a sneaking suspicion that there is more to using the lathe than just holding a chisel against a block of spinning wood, so methinks it is not quite so easy as it appears to be. And of course, the time lapse videography, makes it seem like it takes Norm only two minutes to form an ottoman leg, while it is probably more like an hour. Or five hours! I have no way of knowing!

I wonder if watching a knitting show would be as interesting?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Car talk

Rita Rudner has a joke where she describes the difference between men’s and women’s attitudes about cars. “What kind of car do you have, sir?” she’ll ask a man in the audience.

“A Mazda 626,” he’ll reply.

“Now ask me what kind of car I have,” she’ll say, and when he does, she responds, “A white one.”

That may be a sweeping generalization, but nevertheless basically sums up my own attitude towards cars. When I was in college, my aunt gave me her old car when she bought a new one. I’m better than Rita Rudner, because I at least knew that it was a beige 1990 Chevy Cavalier, but that was about all I could tell you about it. It ran, and I was satisfied.

Brother-in-law #1, however, is about as car guy as they come, and every time I came home for a visit, he would ask, “So how’s your car?”

I was never quite sure how to respond to this question. “Uh, fine?” I would usually say. “It got me here.”

But I don’t think that was the sort of answer he was looking for. I think he wanted me to say something like, “Well, the timing belt seems stable but I think it may be on its way out. The carburetor, on the other hand, is in great shape. I just took a look at it the other day.” Sadly for Brother-in-law #1, he would never hear anything like that from me. “It runs,” was the best he’d ever get.

After I started my first job post grad school, I bought my first ever new car (and second ever car, actually, since I actually sold the Cavalier to Big Sister #1 and Brother-in-law #1 my second year of grad school and then did without). I bought a new one, a 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid. I had been waiting on tenterhooks to get my hands on a hybrid vehicle since I first heard about them as concept vehicles in 1999, so I was pretty excited to have the chance to actually buy one. But, other than the fact that it’s a hybrid, to me it’s just a car. Handy for getting me around, but that’s about it.

Which is why I got flummoxed every time my mother-in-law asks me, “So how’s your car? Do you love it?”

Love it? I love that it gets 50 mpg*, yes. I love that it has almost zero emissions, yes. And I am pretty pleased with its reliability; it is, after all, a Honda. But do I love the car itself? No. It’s a car. What’s to love?

I will say, however, that my life is much easier because I do not love my car. For example, when I scraped up the bumper trying to pull into a tight parking spot, my reaction was pretty much, “Eh. That’s what bumpers are for.” My father-in-law, on the other hand, saw that scrape several months after the fact and his eyes widened in shock. “Does she know about this scratch?” he said to The Husband, in the hushed, horrified tone that one might use to ask, “Does she know she has cancer?”

I don’t know. Maybe, if I weren’t so eminently practical and could buy a really hot sports car, I would feel differently. But it’s hard to get worked up about a Honda Civic.

And anyway, I’d rather spend my sports-car money on something more fun, like shoes.

*I do not lie. 50 mpg. Jealous?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

No need to water

This weekend, we replaced the dead plants on the porch with some pumpkins with painted faces. They are shellacked and everything, so I had no qualms about taking them home to be under my care. (Sometimes, when I buy plants, I think I can hear them screaming. “Nooooo! Don’t let me go home with Mo! I’m doomed! Doooooooomed!)

I moved the dead impatiens aside, and put the pumpkins on the plant stands. Then, as I picked up the impatiens to clear them away, The Husband asked me, half-jokingly, if I was going to put them in the side yard with the other plants I had killed.

“Of course,” I said, and placed them carefully down next to the porch where they will be out of sight from passers-by, but where they will serve as a grim message to the botanical world that we don’t stand for any flower-flak here at the Grad Lab Adventures household. If a plant can’t water itself, that plant is not welcome here.

Being dead inside really cuts down on household clutter

A few weeks ago, at Babies ‘R’ Us, The Husband and I noticed a display of bronzed baby shoes with a little information card that we could take in case we were planning to bronze our baby’s shoes.

“Is that something you think you’d want to do?” he asked me.

I regarded him, an amused expression on my face. “Me? You think I would want to do that? I, the one who is willing to sell her engagement ring for the right price? No. No, I think we’re all set.”

“Good,” he replied.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Trump card

On Saturday, The Husband and I tried to go to our last birthing class, but it turned out we had the wrong Saturday. We’re sort of scatterbrained lately, can’t imagine why. At any rate, as we were leaving the hospital, The Husband said, “Well now I can get a head start on all that stuff I need to get done. I think I’ll start with mowing the lawn.”

“I think I’ll start with putting my feet up,” I replied. Because, you see, I’ve decided to begin playing my “Nine Months Pregnant” card. Until now, I think I’ve done fairly well with holding that card back and doing the chores that I have been capable of doing: laundry, baseboard-painting, shopping, nursery-setting-up-ing, etc. But on Saturday, I suddenly felt about two months more pregnant than I was on Friday, and I just couldn’t face the idea of chores of any kind.

“Oh, the ‘Nine Months Pregnant’ card?” said The Husband. “So maybe I should make you some index cards that say ‘Nine Months Pregnant’ and you can whip them out whenever something needs to be done?”

“That sounds fine,” I said, “as long as you know that I still get to keep the card after I’ve played it.”

“I can play my ‘I Built a Bathroom’ card, though, right?” asked The Husband.

“Sure, but whatever card you try to play, it will be beaten by the ‘Nine Months Pregnant’ card,” I replied. “When you can build a person, you get back to me.”

So I spent the day largely – no pun intended – on the couch. I did manage to put together the shelves that we are going to hang in the bathroom, and I think I washed some diapers. I didn’t fold them or anything, though, because that would have involved effort. Otherwise, I watched some TV and took a nap.

Interesting thing: During my nap, I let out two sudden snorey snorts. I know this, because each time, I woke myself up. In case that is not clear, let me say it again: I woke myself up with my own snores. Apparently, I’ve been snoring a lot lately, but The Husband has been kindly keeping this information to himself. We think it’s because of the pregnancy-induced increased blood flow that has caused my blood vessels to constrict my nasal passages. I’m sure I’ll return to my natural, ladylike self after the baby is born.

Yeah, that “Nine Months Pregnant” card comes in handy.

Friday, October 06, 2006

If I were going to steal one, I wouldn’t steal this one

There’s something you should know about The Husband. Whenever he plans to buy something, he does research, because he likes to buy only the best. The more expensive and/or packed with electronic features the item, the more research he does. This is often quite handy for me, because if I want to get, say, a video camera, I say, “Husband, I think we should buy a video camera.” So he goes off and finds out all the features that are important, what Consumer Reports and Slashdot have to say about different brands, makes a list of the pros and cons of the top three models, and returns to me with a brand and model number and says, “I think we should get this one.” Meanwhile, I watch movies. Couldn’t be easier.

Naturally, The Husband was similarly diligent about doing his homework when he was buying my engagement ring. He read all about the clarity of diamonds and learned the difference between a VVS1 (one very very slight inclusion) and a VVS2 (two very very slight inclusions). He examined inclusions (flaws inside the diamond) through a microscope and compared a grade A diamond with a grade D (has to do with color). He also learned about laser inscription of serial numbers. In short, by the time he decided which diamond to buy, he really knew his stuff.

After we got engaged, we discovered that the ring he bought me was about a half size too big. Since neither of us wanted the ring to fly off my finger with a sudden gesture, we brought it down to Jeweler’s Row to get it sized. The first store we went into said they’d be happy to resize the ring, but that we’d have to leave it with them for a few days.

“That’s fine,” said The Husband, “but I’d like to copy down the serial number of the diamond before we do that.”

The jeweler looked mildly affronted, as though he was offended that we didn’t trust him, and said, “Oh, does it have a serial number?”

“Yes,” replied The Husband. “It’s laser inscribed.”

The jeweler very skeptically pulled out a jeweler’s glass of the sort you hold up to your eye and examined the ring. “I don’t see it,” he said.

The Husband started to feel a little panicky. “Well I saw it before I took the ring home,” he replied. “I know it’s there. I have papers on the diamond and everything. It’s a VVS1 grade A stone.”

At this, the jeweler regarded The Husband with pity. “Oh, I don’t think this is a VVS1 diamond,” he said. “I can see inclusions all over the place, and I can’t see a serial number anywhere. And they usually don’t inscribe diamonds this small*,” he added, very condescendingly. “There’s no point.” His tone clearly implied that The Husband had been scammed.

At that, we took the ring back from the jeweler and said we’d be bringing it elsewhere, thank you very much. The Husband, meanwhile, was in a full-on panic and asked if we could please go back to the lab and look at the diamond through The Doktah’s dissecting scope so he could reassure himself that the serial number was really there. Which of course it was.

The next day, we brought the ring back to a different jewelry store and asked them if they could size it. This jeweler was quite happy to do so, and in fact, sized it while we waited instead of asking us to leave it for days. Neither was she offended that we wanted to show her the serial number and write it down before she took it into the back. To find the number, she set the ring in a clamp and looked at it through a microscope instead of holding it in her shaking hand and examining it through a shaking, hand-held jeweler’s glass. But first, she cleaned it.

“Oh, this is a nice stone,” she said. “What is it, VVS1?”

“Yes!” said The Husband. “You know, we took this to another place yesterday, and he kept trying to tell us there was no serial number and that there was no way it was a VVS1 diamond. Of course, he didn’t actually clean it before he looked at it,”

“That’s strange, becuase dust looks just like inclusions, so it really should be cleaned first,” said the new jeweler.

“Well we’ll never go back into that store again,” I said. “They basically called my ring a piece of junk.”

The new jeweler made a surprised face. “Huh. We sort of have a policy of not insulting our clients’ jewelry,” she told us.

Good policy.

*For the record, the diamond is not particularly small. It’s no 5-carat or anything, but it’s a nice size.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I was also in charge of the dead plants that I hid in the side yard

Plants I was responsible for caring for:

Impatiens. Supposed to grow well in this climate. Just need watering.

Plant The Husband is responsible for caring for:

Plumeria. From Hawaii. Very touchy, difficult to grow in the wintery north.

So. Who should be responsible for feeding the baby?

I’d love to keep talking to you, but I think I need to get some Fresh Air right now

A couple of friends of mine from the med school had an annual wine and cheese party at their apartment. While making small talk at one of these parties, I met someone who worked for WHYY, the local NPR station.

“Are you kidding? That is so awesome!” I exclaimed. “Have you met any famous people?”

He smiled, and said, “Yeah, people always ask me that, because Fresh Air is produced here. In fact, Matt Damon was on the show just last week, and – ”

“Yes, yes, Matt Damon, very exciting,” I said. “But what is Terry Gross like? How about Carl Kasell? Have you ever met him? Peter Sagal? Oh! Oh! Have you ever met Ira Glass?” A strange expression came over my new friend’s face and he started glancing around the room, as if looking for a savior.

“Oh, my favorite show is definitely Wait Wait – Don’t Tell Me. Of course, I try never to miss This American Life.” I babbled on, and he started edging towards the door, but I followed him. “My favorite episode of This American Life is the one with the Squirrel Cop, I think. How about you?”

“Uh, I don’t really – ” he said.

“Oh, and man, that Car Talk. Those guys crack me up. Hey, did you ever hear that show Rewind? It doesn’t play here, but you can listen to it online. They once did a parody where they had Ira Glass filling in for Click and Clack on Car Talk. It was hilarious.”

“Oh?” he said. “Yeah, that sounds really – ”

“I even like You Bet Your Garden, and I don’t garden!” I told him.

“Gee, that’s great,” he said. “Oh, hey, there’s someone I know! Bye!” and he took off.

Was it something I said?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Baby heads are jam-packed with pheromones

I have been spared the supposedly common pregnancy-induced cravings for things like pickles and ice cream. Instead, I have become somewhat obsessed with the smell of baby heads. You could even say I crave it. I remember babysitting as a teenager, rocking a baby to sleep, and being amazed at how good his little head smelled. I could have sat there all day, perfectly content just to sniff his head while he slept. And it was not that his head smelled of baby powder or perfumes. No, a baby head has a distinct, lovely, happy smell that is independent of soap or powder. It’s special.

So when it recently occurred to me that soon I will be able to smell my own baby’s head, I got excited. “I can’t wait to smell the baby’s head. How about you?” I said to The Husband. Imagine my horror upon discovering that he was not, in fact, looking forward to it, because he has never smelled a baby head and had no idea it was something to be excited about.

Well, that about did it for me. I became very eager to witness The Husband’s first smell of a baby head, knowing it will be even more special because it will be the head of our very own baby. Now it seems that all I talk about is the smell of a baby head. And for some reason, I insist upon using the word “baby” as an adjective. I never say “Wait till you smell the baby’s head,” I say, “Wait till you smell the baby head.” Is that weird?

Perhaps this particular thing is symbolic to me of The Husband’s relationship with our baby. Seeing The Husband act as a dad could very well be what I most look forward to once the baby is born. He’s going to be a great dad. He’s going to be the kind of dad who knows everything, and he’s also going to be completely whipped. It’s probably going to be hard for The Husband not to spoil this child, because he’s going to want to give him or her everything in the world.

It’s going to be amazing to watch, and it’s going to start with that first whiff of baby head.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Differential what now?

For those of you here for the stories about home remodeling and pregnancy, let me explain that the field of engineering pretty much boils down to the solving of differential equations. You might therefore expect that, as someone who holds a Ph.D. in engineering, I would be capable of solving differential equations. You would be mistaken.

For a Ph.D. engineer, my math is actually pretty weak, despite the fancy equations I posted in this entry. (Some might argue, in fact, that this series of entries is actually evidence of my poor math skills, but I’m not going down that road again.) My professors can be held partly responsible for my poor math skills, because in college, my engineering professors always provided us with the solutions to the relevant differential equations instead of making us solve them ourselves. They were relying on the math department to teach us to solve the equations. Unfortunately, my math professors were pretty awful. For example, I took a class in linear algebra, taught by a Russian guy with a heavy accent. He typically started the class by writing an equation on the board and asking, “What do you think x is?”

There would be a pause, and someone would say, “Um, 1?”

“Let’s try that,” he say, and then he’d substitute 1 in for x and see if it worked out. If he ended up with something like “1=4,” he’d say, “No, 1 didn’t work. Anyone else?” Someone would suggest he try x=0, and the process would repeat. I assume that he eventually transitioned into the actual technique for solving the equation, but he never really told us when that transition occurred. So, as far as I could tell, he was teaching us to solve linear algebra equations by randomly guessing what x equals until finding something that worked. That is a pretty poor technique, as only good luck would ensure that the solution is found without having to test infinity numbers. Which would take a while.

In grad school, my engineering professors once again provided us with the solutions to all the relevant differential equations, so once again I didn’t have to know how to solve them. There was one grad school class where we were taught how to solve partial differential equations, but not really. The professor taught us the “separation of variables” technique, which is all fine and dandy if you can separate the variables. Sadly, for most real-life engineering problems, you can’t. So for most real-life engineering problems, you have to solve the differential equation numerically. (Ironically, solving an equation numerically is almost like solving an equation by randomly guessing what x equals, but using a computer so there is a chance that you will arrive at the solution in your lifetime.) Our professor taught us one numerical technique called “the finite difference method,” but he didn’t do a great job teaching us. What he did was give us a computer program which used the finite difference method to solve an equation. Then, as an assignment, he told us to use the program to solve the equation for different initial conditions. Someone asked him how many sets of initial conditions we needed to try. “At least one,” he said.


The Doktah and I used to joke about what would happen if someone asked us how to solve a partial differential equation. “Did you try separating the variables? Oh, you can’t separate them? I can’t help you.”

But no matter how lax my professors were in teaching me how to solve differential equations, I can’t lay all the blame on them. I was in college and graduate school for nine years, so it’s possible that I should have taken some of the responsibility for my own education. Perhaps I should have taken the initiative to, oh, read about the finite difference method and actually learn it instead of just changing the initial conditions of our professor’s problem and calling it done. Because in the end, I hurt only myself.

Or did I? Because ask me how often someone asks me to solve differential equations these days. I’ll tell you. Not a lot. The skills I learned during my interminable years in college and graduate school that I actually use in my daily life are more of the critical data analysis and presentation variety and less of the higher math sort. In fact, the types of experiments I do now at work barely even resemble anything I learned in college or grad school. It most definitely is not engineering, and never requires that I solve differential equations. However, my engineering background serves me well in my ability to get to the crux of the problem at hand and in my willingness to try creative approaches in solving it.

That’s got to be worth something, right?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Clumsiness: The secret shame of pregnancy

Last Sunday, at my baby shower, I decided to pour myself a cup of milk. I managed this without incident, but ran into problems when I attempted to drink some of it. You see, I picked up the cup of milk and immediately dropped it. No one bumped me or anything; I just… let go of the cup. I’m still not entirely clear what happened.

After that, I got in trouble because Big Sister #3 asked me to “toss her a paper cup,” and I did, but it fell onto the cake. I guess she didn’t mean “toss” in the literal sense.

I was only trying to make her happy.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

At least it’s not tight in the back

Yesterday I wore one of the new, gigantic (size XL-maternity) shirts that I bought last weekend. It was a loose blouse, and I was a little concerned that I would look really sloppy, as my style tends towards more fitted clothes as opposed to baggy stuff. So after I put it on, I asked The Husband, “Does this look too tenty?” I was remembering the days when I first tried to wear a maternity t-shirt, and it just hung out on all sides like a tent.

The Husband regarded me with pity, trying to work out the best way to phrase his response. Looking down, I realized why. “Oh. It’s not tenty at all, is it. It is actually skimming my belly,” I sighed.

And that t-shirt that used to be way too big?

It’s too small.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ding-Dong! The Bathroom Remodel is dead!

Like I said, it was a big weekend. Yes, it is true. According to the redefined interpretation of “completed,” The Bathroom Remodel is officially completed. Sure, there are a few cosmetic things to be finished: The baseboards need painting; the sticky, frosted privacy screens need to be attached to the windows; shelving, towel rods and pictures need to be hung, but WHO CARES. We can use the toilet, brush our teeth and shower all in the same room. We can do laundry. We can put stuff away.

The pantry is slightly behind the bathroom in terms of technical completeness, as it needs trim installed, primed, and painted, the walls aren’t finished, and the floor isn’t installed, but again, no one cares about these things. We can PUT DISHES AWAY. What else is there in life, really?

So what was not-a-thing-but-bigger-than-a-breadbox surprise? Well, I’ll tell you. On Saturday, while I was at the lab and then at Target shopping for bathroom accessories and enormously large maternity shirts, The Husband and Father-in-law changed this:

into this:

Yes. That is our pantry. With cabinets. Cabinets on the wall. Cabinets into which we have placed dishes.

But that wasn’t my entire surprise! No! Because on Sunday, while I was opening baby presents at my mom’s house, The Husband and Father-in-law transformed the dining room from this:
into this:

And the kitchen went from this:

to this:

I used to hate the kitchen, what with its being so ugly and all, but now I am in love with it. Who cares about ugly when you can walk through it without fear of losing a toe to a drill bit? On Monday, I even ate breakfast at the kitchen table! I hadn’t even seen the kitchen table since June.

So, all in all, the surprise was a good one. With an impact much, much bigger than a breadbox.

Now, I’m not showing you the office, living room, or nursery, because they are still being reorganized as we still have to arrange the furniture and finally put away all those homeless books. But that’s fine. Because you know what else happened? Yesterday, The Plumber came back and hooked up the bathroom vanity. And that means that it is time for pictures of The Remodeled Bathroom! (Back in the day, I told you I was going to talk about framing out the walls, but I realized that no one cares. So I’m skipping to the good part.)

First, let’s recall what it looked like before we started:

Now I present to you… The Remodeled Bathroom.





There she is! Complete with a new toilet:

and a sink faucet

from which water runs.

(Sorry, that part is still pretty new and exciting for me.)

And around the corner, to the right of the laundry area, we have the bathtub section.

Complete with a tile shelf

and a shower

from which water runs!

Last night The Husband also installed the toilet paper holder and the hand towel ring, but I’m going to spare you those pictures. You’re welcome.

I should mention that a huge side effect of The Remodeled Bathroom will be that I will no longer be distracted by The Bathroom Remodel when trying to hold social conversations with others. Instead, I will be free to obsess about The Pregnancy. The Pregnancy which gave my sisters an excuse to buy these for me:

You can’t see them, but they also have zippers!

I am now excited by running water and zippers. You might want to avoid me for the next few months/weeks, as I am the most boring person on earth.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Monkey on my back

Oh, sweet Internet, promise never to leave me like that again! I apologize to all for the lack of updates. It figures that just when I was starting to build a fanbase of 3-4 people, my home internet connection would go down. And then I was home sick yesterday, still with no internet connection. And then I was back at work today, but Gmail and Blogger were down all day! So that means I've been out of touch with the Internet for four days! Oh the humanity!

Anyway, check back tomorrow night. I will have pictures posted by then. (They may be posted by tonight, but I can't promise.) And they are exciting pictures, let me tell you. Yes, it was a big, big weekend over at the Grad Lab Adventures household. It turns out that The Husband was right: My surprise was not a thing, but it was oh so much bigger than a breadbox!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Ha ha, I married him and you didn't

The Husband was home sick with the flu for the past two days. It was a mild flu, but a flu nonetheless. In spite of this, he spent Wednesday (the day before the water main broke) doing all the laundry in the house. He didn’t fold it, but he washed and dried it. Despite having the flu.

And yesterday he cleaned the living room. For those of you who have not been living in the chaos of The Bathroom Remodel for the past four or five months, the impact of this is probably lost. But trust me, this is a huge, huge deal. For, although there are still a few piles of papers and things that need to find permanent homes, these piles are tidy. This is a nice contrast from the previous organizational method of keeping things spread evenly over every horizontal surface in the room. We can see the whole rug now! Which meant that I could vacuum the rug for the first time in I don’t want to admit how long! As of last night, it is no longer stressful to sit in the living room. It is actually relaxing.

Finally, Father-in-law is going to come up this weekend and he and The Husband plan to get us to the point of hanging the pantry cabinets by the time the weekend is over. That means we will be able to put dishes in actual cabinets and get to reclaim our dining room table from The Bathroom Remodel. I, in turn, will attempt to organize the office/landing area so that we can move the excess furniture and books out of the nursery in order to make room for actual baby stuff. The Husband also informed me that he and Father-in-law are preparing a surprise of some sort for me, but he won’t tell me what it is. Under intense questioning, he admitted that, while it is not a thing, it is bigger than a breadbox. So figure that one out.

It is interesting that, as my due date draws nearer, the list of things I ask to be completed before the baby arrives grows shorter. And not because we are crossing them off. I have already given up on painted baseboards, and I recently decided that painted pantry walls are also a luxury. An installed bathroom vanity is no longer a requirement; neither is a clean kitchen floor. At this point, all I want is for stuff to be put away before October 21. If stuff gets put away before the baby comes, I will consider The Bathroom Remodel a success. And this is using the loosest possible definition of “put away.” I accept that a bunch of stuff will probably be stashed in the attic to be dealt with “later,” and that “later” will probably turn out to mean “until the next time we move.”

The Bathroom Remodel is weakening. I can hear it gasping for breath.

I hope it is suffering.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Irony, why do you hate us so?

In a hilarious ironic twist, The Husband and I woke up this morning to discover that we had no water. Apparently, a water main broke somewhere, so it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Bathroom Remodel. Except that I secretly think the evil spirit of the Bathroom Remodel is responsible for it somehow.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

If all you care about is The Bathroom Remodel, skip this post

The Doktah called me at work the other day and left me a message with an example of a limit where “plugging in infinity” didn’t work. At first, I thought she was right, and I wasn’t going to blog about it because it would mean I was wrong, and it’s my blog, so I don’t have to admit to being wrong if I don’t want to. But it bugged me all day, so I looked it up in my Calculus book when I got home that night.

I’m still right.

Her example:

Now, if you plug in infinity for L, you get

This appears to reduce to ∞/∞ = 1.

But! One thing that I admit to sort of forgetting because I don’t actually take limits anymore is that ∞/∞ is undefined. So while you can cancel ∞2/∞ to get ∞, you can’t cancel ∞/∞ to get 1. You have to use L’Hopital’s rule*. But back in the day when I used to take limits on a regular basis, this never bothered me or made me get any wrong answers in my problem sets because I knew the rule. Anytime you get an undefined solution like ∞/∞ or ∞/0 (or anything over 0, for that matter), you have to take another step to solve the problem.

So, nyah nyah.

*L’Hopital’s rule just says that the limit of the derivatives of each term in the function is the same as the limit of the function, so you just take limit of the derivatives of the separate terms until you get something that is defined. I put this explanation in a footnote because I would bet that 90% of my readers didn’t even read to the end of this entry because it is full of equations. I can’t really blame them.

Washer and Dryer: Ready for action

Last weekend, as I told you, I was reduced to tears because the woodwork in the bathroom was not going to be painted before The Plumber arrived. The horror! But now I am in a much more rational state of mind, and I realize that I may have been overreacting just a smidge. In fact, now that I am in the calm, cool light of a shower and non-disgusting new toilet, I’m fairly certain that painted baseboards are not actually required in a working bathroom. A sink, a toilet, a shower? All necessary features. Painted baseboards? A nicety. So if we don’t paint them until later, that is probably OK.

But the really excellent news is that The Husband is home sick today, and he called me while I was at work to ask where the fabric softener is. He needed to know because he was doing laundry! At our house! (That’s the good news part. Not that he’s sick.) Last Saturday, I had to buy a completely new set of detergent, bleach, and fabric softener, because our bottles have disappeared. I think that over the course of the past four months, I left a little trail of detergent, bleach and fabric softener at my sister’s house, my parents’ house and my in-laws’ house. Fortunately, I knew exactly where the fabric softener was, which was right in the grocery bag where I left it. For some reason, I put away all the groceries except the sponges and the fabric softener. But to keep things tidy, I carefully placed that grocery bag on the dining room chair. Days after grocery shopping. I actually lifted it up off the floor, looked inside, and put it on the chair. Naturally.

The even better news is that, according to The Husband, now that the washing machine is on a stable floor made of non-rotting wood and is resting perpendicularly to the floor beams, the spin cycle no longer causes the entire house to shake. We may even be able to use the “high spin” setting. Previously, even the “gentle spin” setting sometimes required that we brace ourselves against the washing machine to prevent the entire house from crashing down around us, or at least to prevent the washing machine from crashing down into the apartment below. It was a convenient means of getting a back massage, but not really the ideal situation.

So as soon as we get the towel rods and shelving installed, I’m going to take some “after” pictures and post them. But I should warn you: The baseboards will not yet be painted. (Also, the vanity and radiator won’t be installed, because I have a feeling that’s going to take three weeks.)