Friday, January 26, 2007

What? What's the big deal?

Starting next Thursday, I'm going back to work. It's only for two days a week, and the daycare situation worked out like a magical dream. Right after Jack was born, The Husband switched his work schedule to four ten-hour days, and Father-in-law said he could stay home from his job one day a week and look after Jack. This is something we couldn't have asked him to do, but we're thrilled he volunteered. You can't beat free day care from a person who already loves Jack to pieces. As an added bonus, the in-laws only live ten minutes from where I work, so I will be able to nurse Jack at lunchtime one of the two days I work.

Now, we had been planning all along that I would be going back to work part time. As such, we started Jack on bottles when he was a month old because we wanted to avoid the trap so many breastfed babies fall into of refusing to take a bottle. The Husband gave him one bottle a week while I was at choir practice. He experimented with different fancy (read: expensive) bottles and nipples before settling on a combination of Dr. Brown's and Breastflow bottles, and we went to the specialty baby store to stock up. We spent quite a bit of money and went home, comfortable in the thought that we were all set.

But then I didn't go to choir practice because The Husband had the flu. And then I had the flu. And then it was canceled. And canceled again. In short, Jack went without a bottle for four weeks. But we were all set! He had been taking them no problem! We were fine!

Can you read between the lines of my incredibly subtle foreshadowing? That's right! He stopped taking the bottle! Three weeks ago, we left him with Father-in-law for five hours as a sort of practice run, and when we got back we learned that he had not eaten anything the entire time. So he was fine for the first two hours, but the last three were pretty tough on both Father-in-law and Jack.

I panicked for awhile, because I did not know what I would do if he wouldn't take a bottle, but after talking it over with The Husband, we arrived at a solution. First, we'd keep trying to get him to take a bottle. But, if he refused, I would just explain to my boss that I might have to leave work several times a day to feed the baby, and The Husband would have to come stay at his parents' house on the day he was watching Jack. Fortunately, I am lucky to work for a very accommodating boss who went along with this plan. Unfortunately, this plan is sort of a huge pain for me and especially for The Husband who would have to join me on my hour-long commute on his day off.

But babies like to keep you on your toes. Last week I spent about five days trying to get Jack to drink juice from a bottle. (We're having some digestive issues which I will spare you, but don't yell at me; the juice was doctor-prescribed.) He would have none of it for four days, and then all of a sudden on Thursday he accepted the bottle like an old pro. He acted like he had been drinking from a bottle for his whole life and what on earth was I getting so excited about? Sheesh.

The last thing I want to point out is that, although we are thrilled to pieces that he is finally taking a bottle, we are ever so slightly frustrated that he will not drink from the fancy schmancy expensive Dr. Brown's or Breastflow bottles. No. He will only accept the cheap-o nipples that are available at any and every drug and grocery store.

Does anyone need some gently used fancy schmancy bottles?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I no longer care about my permanent record

One of the last classes I took in grad school was CAMB 600: Cell and Molecular Biology. It was pretty much a graduate level intro class to cell biology. This was of particular interest to me as the only biology class I took in undergrad was "Biology of Cancer and AIDS" which fulfilled the general education bio requirement without actually being a biology class. You see, my bachelor's degree is in chemical engineering, but it was traditional chemical engineering with no biology at all. I didn't figure out till my senior year that traditional chemical engineering is unbelievably boring. Given that, you might be surprised that my Ph.D. is also in chemical engineering, but I didn't really do chemical engineering research. My thesis was much more cell biology based. Hence, my interest in CAMB 600.

However, given that the only cell biology I knew by that point was what I had taught myself, I was at a slight disadvantage in a class full of BS's in biology. As such, I found the class to be a bit of a struggle and by mid semester I was facing the possibility of a C. This had me worried, because I thought that a class would not count towards my degree unless I got at least a B, and I didn't want to have to take any more classes.

I expressed my concern to The Doktah, and she said, "No, I think that we just have to pass all the classes and maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher, so one C shouldn't keep you from graduating." This was excellent news, but I wanted to be sure and went to see the graduate advisor to double check.

"That's right," he said, "you just need an overall 3.0 or higher."

"That's great!" I said.

"But you don't want to get a C," he warned me.

"Why not?" I said. "What difference will it make?" This class was my last one, and I had already gotten mostly A's, so a C could not possibly lower my GPA to below a 3.0.

The advisor looked a little appalled at my cavalier attitude. "Well, it will not look good on your transcript," he replied.

"But who's going to see my transcript?" I asked. "Do employers want to look at your transcript?"

"Well, no," he said. "But you don't want to get a C!"

I realized the problem. I was talking to a young professor at a major research university, ergo, I was talking to an overachiever. Earning a B would have brought him shame; had he ever gotten a C he probably would have had to commit hara-kiri.

"OK," I said. "I won't get a C."

And I didn't.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Baby book what now?

I was in a Hallmark store yesterday and I saw a lot of baby books, baby calendars and other accoutrements for recording your child’s milestones. But I did not buy one. Not, as you might think, because I already have one; I do not. I did not buy one because I know that I would not use it. Not even the kind that’s just a calendar with helpful stickers describing things like “First tooth” and “Doctor visit.”

But I was thinking about it, and have come to the conclusion that it is not because I am an lazy, unsentimental person that I am not using a baby book. No, it is because I am thoughtful. You see, as the youngest of six kids, my own personal babyhood went largely unrecorded. There are about four pictures of me before the age of three. Big Sister #1, on the other hand, has approximately four thousand pictures, and that’s just of her first two months.

I certainly understand the reason for this. Frankly, it’s a miracle my mother survived at all with six kids running around, never mind having to stop to write down what day it was when kid #5 lost her first tooth. Nevertheless, I did feel a teensy bit left out when I was growing up.*

Thus, by not keeping a baby book for Jack, I am not just being lazy. No, I am taking into consideration the potentially sensitive feelings of my hypothetical future children for whom I will have no time to keep baby books. Yeah! That’s what I’m doing.

Not lazy and unsentimental. Thoughtful. Yeah.

*Confidential to my mom: Speaking of sensitive feelings, this entry should in no way make you feel the slightest bit guilty. You are the best mom ever and I would not change a single thing about my childhood. I could not have felt more loved and cherished growing up, so rest easy.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Exploit this

Because I never have any idea what time Jack will take a nap or for how long he will stay asleep, I decided to go back to my roots and start keeping track of what time he eats and sleeps during the day. (At night I am too tired to be bothered; I figure if he sleeps through the night I’ll probably remember.) Basically, I wanted to figure out if he had a nap pattern that I could exploit.

So for ten days, I diligently made a note every time he took a nap or had a meal. I even wrote down for how long he fussed before falling asleep. And then I put all the data into Excel and plotted it. Look, it’s just how I think, OK? I am a very visual learner, and I need to see a graph. (And I thought of a clever way to plot it, if I do say so myself.)

Here’s the plot:

For those of you who are not visual learners, let me briefly interpret the data for you. Do you see those data points on the “Sleeping” axis? Each color represents a different day, and a data point means that Jack was asleep at that time for that day. You may have noticed that there is pretty much a solid line of data points. This means that, for any given minute during the day, Jack has been asleep for at least one day between January 1 and January 10. Well, except for the five minute period highlighted by the yellow circle; he was awake every day during that time for the days represented. Of course, he was asleep at that time yesterday, but I have given up on writing down all the times because there is obviously no point.

So, basically, he has no schedule. He is so anti-schedule that I cannot even guess at how many naps he takes a day, never mind at what time or for how long he will sleep. Oh well, he’s still pretty young, so maybe he’ll settle down into a routine during the next month or two.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I found out yesterday from Arwen’s page that this is National Delurking Week. In celebration, Arwen wrote a post soliciting suggestions for baby carriers and cookie recipes. Me, I am merely asking you to delurk. But I will certainly accept suggestions for baby slings and cookie recipes. (In all honesty, I’m mostly interested in the cookie recipes.)

So, if you’re reading, drop me a comment!

In other news: The earth is round

I get an e-newsletter from Real Simple magazine. This month has an article entitled "13 Secrets of Thin People: How They Get There, How They Stay There."

You want to know the secrets? You'll never believe what they are. You see, thin people, really thin people, I'm talking about people who get thin and stay thin, do it by - get this - eating in moderation and being physically active. I know. Who would have thought it?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Not a morning person

When I am pulled suddenly from a deep sleep, I am not always thinking my best, most coherent thoughts. In fact, there is a story about my sleep-induced stupidity that is famous in the Grad Lab family which involves a window fan and a broken car horn. I may tell you about that some time, but today I’m writing about the most recent occurrence of my addled thought process.

Last night, Jack got up 150 times to eat. It is possible that I am exaggerating, but in any case, when he started whimpering at 5:30 this morning I was loathe to get out of bed for the 151st time. “But!” I thought to myself. “The Husband gets up at 6:00 anyway, so why don’t I just ask him to go feed Jack?”

I was seconds away from waking him up when I realized that, unless he had started lactating during the night, he wouldn’t be much help.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Moral: Never remodel

So I bet you all thought the Bathroom Remodel was done, right? Perhaps you thought The Husband, Jack and I have been basking in our glorious new bathroom and rearranged pantry, taking bubble baths and sipping champagne. Perhaps you are all idiots. Because of course the Bathroom Remodel is not done. Sure, it’s “done” according to my the-baby-is-coming-please-I-just-want-a-working- shower-and-washing-machine criteria. And sure, both the bathroom and the pantry are fully functional with running water, cabinets, and appliances. But the painting. Oh the painting. If hell is tailored to fit each person, my own personal hell will consist of me, a paintbrush, and acres and acres of walls and porch railings.

Today I put the first coat of paint on one of the pantry walls. Unfortunately, when I opened the container, I found not the warm sunny yellow that I thought I picked out, but a yellow reminiscent of a fluorescent highlighter. I painted the first wall anyway in the vain hope that it would dry darker. No such luck.

I tell you, if my mother and nieces did not read this blog, this post would pretty much be a string of profanities. (I can’t swear in front of my nieces because I have to set a good example, and I can’t swear in front of my mother because I have to pretend I don’t know those words.) (Words like “gosh” and “goldurn it,” Mom! Because those are the only swear words I know!) So now I have to reprime the wall that I painted highlighter yellow and then get a new gallon of paint.

Goldurn it all to heck.

We don’t expect to be offered a cooking show any time soon

The Husband went grocery shopping yesterday, and bought whole grain tortilla chips. We had them at dinner with salsa which led to a discussion of salt content, as the whole grain chips are much saltier than regular tortilla chips – probably because whole grain is less tasty than processed corn. We compared the milligrams of salt in the two types of chips, and then The Husband read the ingredients on the salsa jar.

“Oh, so that’s why my homemade salsa never tastes like store bought. I don’t put any salt in my salsa, and this jar has 125 mg of sodium per serving,” he said. Then he added, “I wonder how much salt is equivalent to 125 mg of sodium.”

“That’s right,” I said, “because salt weighs more than sodium.”

“But we could figure it out,” replied The Husband. “It’s a simple calculation, after all.”

I considered this. “Sure, but we’d have to get a scale because most recipes call for volumes of salt, and we don’t know how much a teaspoon of salt weighs.”

“True,” said The Husband. “And we couldn’t use the density to convert it because salt is crystalline, so a teaspoon wouldn’t be uniformly dense.”

“Good point,” I said. Then I paused, and added, “You realize I’m going to have to blog this conversation.”

“I understand,” said The Husband