Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Maternity/Paternity Leave

There are 164 countries in this world who offer paid maternity leave. There are four (4) countries in this world who do not.

Guess which one describes the United States? Yes, we are one of four countries out of 168 who do not guarantee paid maternity leave (or paternity leave) to our new parents.

So much for "family friendly", eh?

If that appalls you as much as it appalls me, go here and sign a petition so that congress understands that we think mothers and fathers and children should be valued in this country.

Bumpy Road

Last week, I got a phone call about 10 am from our daycare.

There are few things more frightening than seeing the daycare's name on Caller ID. They rarely call us to say "OH MY GOD! Conor just did the most amazingly cute thing!!!!"

Instead, calls from daycare involve temperatures, throwing up, and/or bumps on the head. This phone call was only slightly different: bumps on Conor's legs. Red, raised bumps that were unusual and all over the bottom of his legs and moving up his thighs.

"Hmmmmmm," I said. "Those might be normal. It's not unusual for the boy's in my family to have bumps all over their legs."

"Hmmmmmm," she responded. "They look really unusual. I haven't seen these before."

The day before, Conor had been outside and around an area in which we've spotted poison ivy. So I decided not to chance it (and sound like a slathernly mother) and came on in to look at the bumps on my son's legs.

They were normal. For us. Well, for me and my kin.

We have shitty ass skin. My arms are covered in horrible bumps that my doctor's tell me that all we can do to fix them is put on lots of lotion. I don't have these bumps on my legs, but the boys apparently do. The pediatrician had told us to be sure and put lotion on Conor's legs, but honestly, we are only consistent after his bath.

What was so embarrassing was having the primary daycare provider, the director of the center, and oh, a few other people wandering down the hall staring at my poor son's bumpy legs. I know it's because of our curly hair. There's something about our hair that makes our arms and legs so bumpy. We can't do anything about it--and yes, we know it's not "normal" for you straighthaired people. But back away from our bumpy bodies!!!

Well, ever since then, we've been much, much better about putting lotion on Conor's legs and they are truly much better. I've even taken to putting lotion on my arms twice a day to see if I can help my arms smooth out. It really does make a difference.

I just have visions of the choice my son has in his awkward teenage years: bumpy arms and legs or putting on lotion on his extra long arms and legs at school after gym class. Do they still have gym class these days? Is it still as awkward now as it was for us? Maybe he can only use it in the morning and at night and not at school. I can tell you right now, he's not going to outgrow this.

Well, We’re Going to Miss That

Our friends moved out yesterday into their adorable cottage a few blocks from our house. We are so excited to have them in the ‘hood, but it’s still really weird not having them in our house.

I tell you right now that if that was any preview of what living in a commune was like, I’d be all “Sign me up!!!”

What’s funny too is having other adults living in the house with much better cleaning patterns than you have. OK, funny? Shaming? What’s the difference?

After dinner every night for the last two months, our friends would hop up from the table and in 15 minutes or so the table would be cleared off with all the placemats put away and the d├ęcor put back on, the dishes would be loaded in the dishwasher and the pots and pans would be drying in the dish rack.

When I commented on the fact that we were lazy asses and our habit in the past has been to clean up the dishes from the last meal just prior to the next meal, they said that they just found it to be a good habit to do the dishes immediately.

“We ought to pick up that habit,” I said.

“We’re really going to miss that,” Dave said.

We did it last night. Let’s see if that habit sticks.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wyatt Z

Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a geeky professor. I was in engineering and statistical analysis before I changed over to psychology, so my history is a bit of the ol’ geek-a-zoid variety. I’ve always wanted to have dozens and dozens of close friends and be the popular chick everyone thinks of first, but that just has never been my experience. (OK, maybe at the end of my time at Chapel Hill I had all the close friends I could want, but since then, I have always wanted to have more close friends than I do)

But when Conor started making friends, especially “real” friends that he would talk about when they weren’t around, I’ve been really proud and impressed by him. (I use the term “talk” quite loosely; I really mean “Says their name and then babbles something incomprehensible.") When we leave school, Conor’s points out Charles’ car (actually, Charles’ mommy’s car). Conor points to Wyatt’s mommy and calls to her in the parking lot. I sing songs at night and substitute his classmates’ names for key words and he laughs like they just appeared in the room.

It’s really cute.

But it’s not nearly as cute as what happened yesterday morning after Conor woke up the god awful hour of 4:45 and we brought him to bed with us. (That part wasn’t cute). We were still trying to get 15 more minutes of sleep around 6:15, when Conor sat up in bed and started pounding on, I mean, petting Simba. Then he started spontaneously singing the alphabet song. We’ve been singing it together for a while, but he’s never started doing it himself. (And when I say "singing it together", I mean "shouting out a few letters that end in the 'e' sound like D, E, P") So we were listening intently (ok, really half asleep) to see how far he could get through it but trying not to look too interested. (Again, not really a problem because our eyes were shut)

He got caught in a L-M-N-O-P loop which kept sending him back to E or G, but finally he broke through and started down the R-S-T-U-V lane. One or two letters were missing or slurred, but generally, he was on the right track.

Then came the big finale which previously has been where he shouts out ME!!!!! at the end of the song as in “next time won’t you sing with ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!” It’s apparently a big feature at daycare. Sometimes, all he’ll sing of the song is ME!!!! This time, though, he was still in the letters:

T-U-V. W-X-Wyatt-Z.

I thought we were going to die.

It’s been very hard since then not to sing “Wyatt-Z” at the end of the alphabet song. We only got to hear him say Yayatt for a week or so until he self-corrected to Wyatt. And for Wyatt, why not let him be the star of the alphabet song for a little while longer? You only get so long to be the cutest thing on earth.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

How Does your Garden Grow?

This is my absolute favorite time of the year. The garden is just starting to come in, the weeds are under control, it's not too hot so I can work out in the garden and not get cranky.

This us the view of the garden from the way back of the yard. That building is our garage/office. Yes, it does look like a little house which I why I luuuuurve my office.

The mass of greens is the asparagus. (it's ferning now). And the teepee structure is going to be our pole beans; we used a suggestion from kids gardening that should make that into a teepee for Conor to "play in" when the beans cover up the structure.

I think I ought to take more close up pictures of some of the plants because that's how I "see" them. I only rarely look at my garden like this from a distance--you can't see the tomatoes, the peas, the lettuce and the cutting garden from here. You can't even see the sunflowers all that well!!

In any case, I'm entering this blog from Flickr because I've yet to figure out how to copy the pictures from flickr to my blog. Carter, once again, how do I do that? In detail?

And those of you using sitemeter, have you also lost the ability to see your referrals? I can no longer see who gets here by google, so I can't tell if my phrases like "Red Hot Love Bunny" actually brings people here.

Back to work.

Monday, May 22, 2006

I You, Mommy

We've got cuteness in spades over here. It's sickeningly sweet and I lap it up every day.

True to my predictions, I'm even more convinced that we are raising a snuggle bunny. Even worse (better?), he is going to be a 6'5" snuggle bunny. (And just to freak your freak, at 22 months old, the child is 35 1/2 " tall. He's huge.)

So what makes him a snuggle bunny? Standing on my lap, hugging my neck for 5 minutes repeating "I you, Mommy" while I say "I love you, Conor" again and again and again. ("Love" is implied here)

And when his "best friend" Ollie came over this weekend, Conor hugged and hugged and hugged him. It all started when they were separated as we scooted them into the house at the beginning of a thunderstorm. When Conor saw Ollie again, he ran over and pounced on him with a huge bear hug. We all thought it was hysterical until there was one too vigorous of a hug and they both fell down and bumped their noggins. The next day, I asked Conor if he had hugged Ollie and he said "Yeah. Ollie. Boom" and pointed to the spot where they fell. (cute!)

This whole cuteness thing has caught me completely by surprise. I had no idea that my little man was going to blow me away daily with his absolute adorableness. I really don't mean to be one of those super sappy mothers, but I am absolutely in love with my son right now.

I am completely sure that in 15 years, he's going to turn into this, so until then, I'm going to wallow in his kindness and appreciate his open mouthed, slobbery kisses. Even when his kisses contain graham crackers and even when he leaves wet crumbs on the back of my leg. (A game of hide and seek with his godfather was involved along with some pretty amazing squeals of laughter)

Oh, and I forgot to mention Conference Booty Part II: At last week's conference, Dave won a Fossil watch for me AND a two night stay in Asheville at a swanky-ish hotel. Guess where this year's summer vacation is going to be?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Yet Another Conference

I'm back from yet another conference. We tend to bunch our conferences at the end and beginning of the semesters which usually causes faculty members' heads to pop right off their bodies.

Conor is doing very well with my traveling. Apparently, he was a bit upset the first night, but adjusted very well by the second night. It really helps having our friends here who can keep him on his after-school routine of play, food, play and night-night. I actually think it's going to be really, really tough on Conor (most of all) when they move out. My boobs continue to get a bit full when I'm away from him, but a friend lent me her hand pump, so I can keep them from exploding while I'm away from him. I have to be honest that I'm not nearly as full as I used to be and in comparing last conference two weeks ago to this conference, the boobages took a lot longer to become uncomfortably full.

Speaking of Boobs and sleep.....

What is happening on both of those fronts in the crunchy granola house that we call home? Well, we are slowly weaning. Conor still nurses at night and in the morning and usually once he gets home from school, but none of those nursings are long. We can even skip one or two of them and he's ok. I don't see the end of our nursing, but I do see that we're at the beginning of the end.

And honestly, I'm fine with that. I think I'd be sad if we'd already stopped, but I'm really happy that the brakes are starting to go on. It would be nice to have my body back for a little while.

The much more exciting news has to do with sleep: ohhhhhh, it's so good now. He sleeps completely through the night most nights now. And the times he doesn't he seems to have some sort of medical thing that a dose of Tylenol clears right up. He's also going to sleep on his own now. (oh, joy!) We read books and nurse a bit, and then just a few minutes later, he's in his bed on his own and we're out the door while he talks to himself (or thrashes about) and goes to sleep.

A year ago, I would not have believed either of those events were possible. But oh my joy and happiness, yes, yes YES! Sleep! It is good!!!! For those of you parents with young children out there reading this, yes it is possible for your kidlet to sleep through the night on his or her own without any sleep training. It may take a little longer than you like, but note that Conor is not heading off to college next year. He's developed better sleep patterns sooner than our worst fears.

OK. I'm just back from the conference and must figure out what the heck I'm doing today. The weeds still taunt me.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Good Lord, I'm Busy

I just finished grading my finals today and turned in the grades. I've got another conference to go to next week that I've just finished preparing for. I'm just now going through my emails so if I owe you one, hang on.

I did take 10 minutes this morning to walk around the back yard and go "Holy Crap, I have a lot of work to do." The garden is coming in and I need to weed and thin some plants. The lettuce actually frightens me right now. (The good news is that the chard has finally decided to come in! WTF?! I planted it well over a month ago!)

I also scurried around the rest of the landscaping beds and decided that the scotchbroom are gorgeous (still blooming after 2 weeks) and I need to weed. The weeds are actually taunting me right now because I've missed two weekends of work. They are waving their tiny green hands in defiance. Little do they know that despite being "green" myself, tomorrow it should be warm enough to use Round Up. HA!

I'm liking the perennial garden that we started last spring along the garage. The problem is that I can't easily tell which are the weeds and which are the flowers I paid some bucks to plant. I've decided to be more lenient on my weeding until I can figure out which is which. I will post some pictures becuase I have to say I'm right proud of myself with how that looks. (BTW, another bird just hopped into my office and I had to tell him/her to skedaddle; this is going to be an issue, I can tell)

So what else is going on, your curious mind asks? Well, lots and if I was talented like Mimi or Julia, I'd weave a better story. But instead, here are the highlights:

Conor has discovered his p3enis. Yes, he found it a long time ago during diaper changing and bath time. But now, he has found it. And he likes It. A. Lot. It makes for some awkward moments during pre-bed breastfeeding (for me, not him). So I'm considering this through his eyes. (hands) If you found a new pleasure spot on your body wouldn't you poke it, too? For Pete's sake, this child loves his toes and plays with them every chance he gets. The only problem arises when he loosens his diaper too much and we have an accident like we did at 11:30 last night.

Our roommates are one of the best things that have happened to us since Conor started sleeping through the night. What? You forgot? About 6 weeks ago, my best friend and his partner moved in with us. They just moved here from out of state and we said "oh, come on! Stay with us until you find a house." They did find a house about 5 blocks from here (yay!) and will be moving in two weeks. We already know we're going to miss them. They may be surprised how much they are going to miss us! Last night, Dave and I came home about an hour and a half late. In addition, my friend Brian is away on a business trip. That left Arnie alone for the first time in 6 weeks. We came home to a freshly mown yard and sparkling clean kitchen. Arnie said "It was nice for 5 minutes and then I was bored! I had to do something!" Dang. You're right though: we're going to miss them more.

OK--catching up on email and then I may go threaten the weeds. They deserve it.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Well, That was an Eventful Conference

But what could I expect from a conference in which I locked myself out of my room and had to go the lobby in my pajamas. And Gabriella may have been on to something; however, the problem wasn’t wine with dinner, it was wine without dinner. That’s why I was eating a room service salad at 10:00 at night. (And deciding that some friends are simply younger and more hardy than I am.)

So, ummmm, yeah. And although I walked through the lobby trying to look as invisible as possible, ignoring everyone else so they would ignore me (a trick I learned from Patches), I was apparently spotted. The next day I was telling a student, “oh yeah, so I looked myself out of my room and had to go to the lobby in my pajamas.”

“I know,” she said nodding her head. “K!a saw you last night.”

“WHAT!?” I started laughing. “Sort of like ‘I saw Dr. Bl@nchard walking around the lobby in her pajamas?’”

“Pretty much.”


But all’s well that ends well. There is one more story from the conference (which intellectually went quite well and I made several connections and my research was well received).

It was Saturday afternoon about 4:00. I walked up to a group of people in the exhibition hall.

Me: Are you all waiting for the drawing.

Group of People: They already had it.

Me: Who won?

GoP: You did.

Me: Yeah, right. Who won?

GoP: You did.

Me: No, seriously. Whose name did they call?

GoP (looking confused now and consulting among themselves): I thought you did. Your name sounds really familiar. I think it was you.

Me (turning towards the booth): Who won?

People at the Booth (holding the winning card they had pulled from the entries): You did!

Me: Oh My Gosh!!!

PatB: Yay! Here they are! Can we take a picture of you holding them? Here’s the CEO. We’d really like a picture of him handing you the diamond earrings in front of our company name. (Pictures snap; I am shaking) And here is the certificate of authenticity that you can use for your insurance purposes to show that your new 1 carat total weight brilliant cut diamond earrings can be insured at $2,806.

Holy Crap, I am not kidding!! They are .5 carats each and because they are brilliant cut, they look HUGE. And I totally won them, absolute luck. The company PSI is celebrating their diamond anniversary and since they are intricately linked to the people at this conference decided to give away a pair of big ass diamonds to attendees.

It is sort of funny to win such expensive jewelry. I’m used to that sort of jewelry as a gift, although if Dave ever bought me such expensive earrings, I’d be like “Dude, you are so taking these things BACK” unless, of course, the box also contained our winning lottery ticket at which point I would say “Cheapskate!” So I like them a lot, but I’m imagining being on my deathbed handing away my jewelry saying “Here’s Mommy’s engagement ring. Here’s Grandma’s wedding ring. Here’s the ring Daddy gave Mommy when she had Conor. And here are the earrings Mommy won at the S!OP conference!”

I’ll get over it though. They are absolutely gorgeous.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

So, uh, Yeah!

You might inquite why I am posting so late at night.

It's because I just got (back) in my room. What?!!? In my room after a day of traveling at 12:30 am.


I locked my pathetic effing self out of my hotel room and I had to walk down to the lobby in my pajamas and ask for security to let me back in my room at 11:30 (their time) into my room.

It was late and there was a salad involved and I was trying to be cool by putting it outside my room and I Locked. Myself. Out.

Like a pathetic ignorant fool.

In pink pajamas.

Oh, I'm such the cool professor.

Leaving On a Jet Plane

and freaking the eff out.

How many times have I fantasized about a night in a hotel room alone in which I could sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep? There have been a few times over the last 2 years where that has been my biggest fantasy.

Well, now it's getting ready to happen and I am not looking that forward to it. When Conor left this morning for daycare I was crying. I have a knot in my stomach and a general feeling of freaked-outed-ness.

How stupid am I that I didn't realize how upset I'd be about leaving him? (Actually, not that stupid. A great deal of psychological research shows that people are very poor at predicting how they are going to feel in the future) Nonetheless, when I woke up with this immense feeling of dread, it took a while to sort out all of the things in my life which could be causing it and to realize it's leaving my son and husband for 3 nights.


The only good thing is that when I come back, I'll be so excited and happy that I hope those positive feelings will make up for these negative feelings and I'll average out to a fine happy medium.

But then that means I'm anticipating how I'm going to feel in the future......

But I'll leave you with some cuteness:

Mommy, I u. Mommy! I U!

That is my son's version of I love you. The love thing, at this point, just gets in the way. The key words are I and U. (I assume he spells it that way in his head, too!) ;-) My other new favorite sentence is "Mommy, sit here!" as he points to the chair/space/floor beside him. The sentence I'm less enamored with hearing about the 14th time in one sitting is "More Side" which is the contraction of "more nurse, other side" It blows us away how much is vocabulary is exploding and he's starting to put together nouns and verbs for "real" sentences.

OK. I must finish my tasks here before I go. I'm just so freaked out about the whole thing.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Greener Pastures

OK. So about our lawn and garden.

There is good news: the asparagus is doing really well and I now have a hedge of green ferns outside my office to keep me cool. We have a bumper crop of strawberries. I’m talking strawberries out the ying yang. For some reason, I didn’t think we would get so many strawberries this year, but they have decided this is the year to do their thang.

Our newly planted aucubas are doing nicely. These will grow enormous and provide privacy as well as block off some of our neigbor's back yard. The Scotchbroom are absolutely gorgeous and it looks like the blooms are hanging around for a while. (I'm trying to upload a picture of them, too, but I am too dull to do so). You can see them here.

And the perennial garden is also thinking about doing something, but it has a ways to go. And last but not least, the ligustrum at the back of the yard have trippled in size from last year. They will also make a good privacy hedge.

The Bad News: Only 3 of our eight azaleas look like they might make it to next week. The others have once again succomed to root fungus or something like that. The Osmanthus Fortuni ($300!) is about to die, too. Those plants are all together and I just think it's too wet where they are. The chard has done diddly squat this year and the okra had to be replanted. We've lost two lenten roses (at $10 each!). The other 9 look healthy though (that was a lenten investment).

It continues to stun me how much time keeping the garden up can take and how much I would to do it if I didn't have something called a "job" and a "child" to tend to also.

OK. I'm supposed to be reading three articles for my conference this week instead of trying to figure out how to post pictures on this. Does anyone else have any clues on posting more than one flickr picture up here??

Back to work, to pick up my little smoochie and to make 50 clove garlic chicken tonight. Stop by and watch our Buffy impressions later on.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I thought I'd be over this by now

I've been thinking a lot about the miscarriage lately. I've actually been thinking about it more these last few weeks of April than I have in most of January.

I'm really bummed that I'm not pregnant. I'm supposed to be ginormous right now. I'm supposed to be on the lesser side of 8 weeks left in this pregnancy. I'm supposed to be up at night peeing and dealing with an acrobatic baby. I'm supposed to be getting ready to have my life turn topsy turvy again with the addition of this crazy crying new human being.

Instead, we're still waiting to see if we can get pregnant again. I'm sure if I was already pregnant, I wouldn't be obsessing about it so much. And obsessing is too strong of a word, but it is on my mind more than I would have expected.

I'm going to a conference at the end of this week. It's going to be my first conference leaving the boys here. And I had already gotten special permission from my doctor to fly to this conference when I was pregnant. (Before I had the miscarriage, obviously)

It's just sort of hitting me in the head again that this is not what I expected. I guess someone needs to write a book called What to Expect when You are No Longer Expecting. The cliff notes version is "you still think about it."