Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Not as helpful as you might think

Today at playgroup, I asked Jack if he wanted some more cheese. "Nooooo!" he said, and shook his head.

"Wow!" exclaimed one of the other moms. "That makes thing so much easier! Sophie never answers questions." I should mention here that Sophie is her 12-month-old. I should also mention that last week, they returned to playgroup for the first time in about three months and Sophie stunned us all with her amazing vocabulary and diction. I have never heard such a young child - a baby really - say words so clearly. "Done!" she said. And "book." And "baby." Not "ah-dah" or "buh" or "bay-bay," but the actual English words. There were also reports that she says "poop" when she is about to, so if she is not potty trained by 15 months I'll eat my hat.

But I digress. Sophie's mom exclaimed over how easy my life must be, since Jack is able and willing to tell me "No" when asked if he'd like some more cheese, and I replied.

"The thing is, he probably does want more cheese," and I physically offered him the cheese which he took and ate. "He just says 'No' to all questions by default."

Monday, January 28, 2008

Secrets and… well, no lies, just secrets

I’ve been keeping some secrets, Internet. One good, three bad. Which do you want to hear first? Let’s do the bad first, get it over with.

About two weeks ago, I had a miscarriage. I know, you didn’t even know I was pregnant. I wanted to keep it a secret so that I wouldn’t have to tell the internet something happened if something should happen, and then something happened and I decided I wanted to tell the internet. Go figure.

That’s the first bit of bad news. The second bit is that I had the miscarriage while visiting my sick aunt who then passed away this past Friday. The final bit is that Andrew’s grandmother also died on Friday.

I can hear you all from here. “Oh my God, Dr. Maureen! This is awful!” And it is. It is awful. But it is not quite as awful as you think; first, my aunt was very frail and sick. The last time I saw her, she told my parents that she did not – absolutely did not – want to go to a nursing home. Had she not died, she likely would have had no other options. And Andrew’s grandmother was even frailer and sicker. She was 95 years old and has been dying by inches for the past three years. Both of them had been suffering for a while, and now they have rejoined their husbands and are at peace.

They are also both being waked and buried at the exact same time, about seventy miles apart. Obviously, Andrew and I cannot attend both, so Andrew took Jack to his grandmother’s wake tonight, and they are staying overnight at his parents’ house. I, meanwhile, went to my aunt’s wake and will meet Andrew’s family tomorrow for Gram’s funeral.

This leads us to the good secret. The good secret is that I currently own two pairs of jeans, one pair of “trouser” jeans, and one dress that fit, and the rest of my skirts and pants are too big. This is because, somehow, I lost a bunch of weight without actually, technically trying. It just sort of… came off. I think it must be because I walk a lot, but I can’t discount incredible luck. At any rate, before I was pregnant with Jack, I had built up a pretty respectable wardrobe, one of which I like to think Stacy and Clinton would approve. But then I got pregnant and outgrew everything – as one does – and then I was post-partum and still too big for everything. There followed a brief period where my old things fit and then, suddenly, everything was too big.

During each point of this sartorial* odyssey, I was working with a functional wardrobe of about two pairs of pants and a handful of shirts. I could get away with this because I only work two days a week, but when my weight finally stabilized, I was more than ready to stock up on some new stuff. Before Thanksgiving, I did start to replenish my wardrobe and bought a dress, a shirt and a pair of “trouser” jeans, but then I learned I was pregnant and stopped replenishing on the theory that I was about to grow back into my older clothes. But then I didn’t.

So what all this means for right now is that, as far as wake and funeral appropriate clothes go, I have one dress. And it is a dress I also wore to a dinner dance this past Saturday night, because I have no other dresses or skirts or non-denim pants to choose from. Sartorially speaking then, it’s convenient that I am going to my aunt’s wake but Gram’s funeral, because at least no one will know I am wearing the same dress to both.

You know what? I think my aunt would highly amused.

*I have been looking for an opportunity to use the word “sartorial” ever since I learned it while watching a terrible TV show, the name of which it would be far too embarrassing to reveal.**


Friday, January 25, 2008

Children of the girl persuasion

I’m not sure if I’ve made this clear, but I have a lot of nieces and nephews. Five nieces and four nephews, in fact, with two more of as yet unknown gender on the way. One of these nieces is currently two years old, and likes pink. Seriously, she really, really likes pink. A lot. The other day, several of us were at my parents’ house, and the two-year-old, Princess, was standing on a chair at the sink washing dishes while the rest of us were in the living room. Suddenly, a cry rang out.

“MOMMY!” she yelled. “I LIKE PINK!”

Ta da!

And... I figured it out! I think! If you click the tab on the top that says "Subscribe" you should be able to subscribe. In Firefox for me, it takes me directly to a link to subscribe via Google, but that's because I told Firefox earlier that I always want to use Google Reader to subscribe. In Internet Explorer, there seem to be options for which feed reader I want to use, so I think I've done this correctly. If anyone has any issues, please email me or comment and I'll try to figure it out.

How to subscribe to me

I have had two complaints that it is impossible to subscribe to This is because doesn't really exist, it's forwarded to because when I moved blogs I didn't really move, and I'm still on Blogger. The reason for this is a long boring story with the take home message that I am cheap, and Blogger is free.

So if you would like to subscribe to me, you have to subscribe to I will see if I can find a widget to put in that will let you subscribe, but in the meantime, that's how to do it.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, that probably just means you don't use a feed reader and you can ignore this post. (I'm talking to you, Mom.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Where do I click here to delete me from your mailing list?

A comment left by Maaaarian on the last post (Marian recently got her very own Ph.D. everyone, so tell her she’s really smart) reminded me of something. We are constantly getting junk mail addressed to Andrew’s father at our address, it drives me CRAZY. I know how it must have started; I think it is because I once used one of my father-in-law’s golf catalogues to order a Christmas present for my brother-in-law. This, however, does not change the fact that my father-in-law does not live with us, has never lived with us, and is not likely to live with us any time in the near future. Nor does it change the fact that my father-in-law was not involved in any way in the actual purchase of the Christmas present. Well, technically he was heavily involved since I had absolutely no idea what the salesperson was talking about when he asked me which type of shaft the golf club should have and thus had to consult my father-in-law, but it’s not like I said, “I don’t know if it should be graphite or titanium, let me ask my father-in-law whose name is R and who lives with us and will be coming with us when we buy a house, so please sell his name to lots of marketing firms.” I did not say this because it would have been (1) untrue and (2) a very very odd thing to say.

I have been rebelling against the junk mailers by writing “NOT KNOWN AT THIS ADDRESS” on the mail for my father-in-law and putting it back in the mailbox. That’ll show ‘em! Besides, it’s that or shred them, and we have enough problems shredding our OWN junk mail without adding in the junk mail of someone who DOES NOT EVEN LIVE HERE. (Our shredder is very testy, and gets upset if you put more than a half sheet of paper through at a time and also needs to rest frequently. Once I made it shred a steady stream of paper for five minutes, and it seized up and wouldn’t turn on again for two days.)

My clever plan seemed to be working though, because we haven’t seen any insurance offers for my father-in-law in weeks. But last week, we got something addressed to my mother-in-law.

No, she doesn’t live here either.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Have we met?

There’s something I haven’t told you about me. I have no memory for faces. Like, really. No memory for faces. I am a police sketch artist’s nightmare. “I’m pretty sure it was a man. I think. But he or she definitely had a nose in roughly the center of his or her face.”

But even in every day life, this recognition thing can be a problem. One time I had an entire conversation with the professor of my Cell and Molecular Biology class thinking he was one of the members of my committee. Note: These two men do not look alike. I was just thrown off because I was at a poster session for the university’s Muscle Institute (I worked with skeletal muscle cells in grad school), so I did not expect to see my CAMB professor but I did expect to see my committee member, the God of Muscle Cell Research. The take-home message here is that I cannot recognize people out of context.

Difficulties also arise if I’m watching a movie. When I saw The English Patient, I could not tell the difference between Ralph Fiennes and the other guy who was married to the woman Ralph Fiennes was in love with. As it is vitally important to the plot to tell these two characters apart, I never had any idea what was going on. And I just now looked up the cast of The English Patient to find out who played the husband and discovered that it was either Willem Dafoe or Colin Firth, and, dear Lord, I hope it was Colin Firth because if I could not tell Willem Dafoe apart from Ralph Fiennes there is something seriously wrong with me*.

Why, you may be thinking, can I not tell who played the husband by looking at the name of the character in the cast list? Well, because I also have no memory for names. People tell me their names, and they may as well be saying, “Hi, my name is Blah Blah-dee-blah.” These issues are not new; I couldn’t remember anyone’s name even when I was in high school. In fact, I once played a game with Professor Lapp when we were in juniors in college wherein I looked through her high school yearbook and identified her friends, enemies and acquaintances by their photos. I was eerily good at it.

ME: This girl was a really good friend.
ME: You couldn’t stand this guy.
PL: No! I hated that guy!
ME: This girl used to annoy you but she tried to be your friend and so you had to be nice to her.
PL: Yes!
ME: And you didn’t really know this person that well, but you’d say hi in the halls.
PL: How are you doing this?

Naturally, after I finished with her yearbook, Professor Lapp tried to play the game using my yearbook. It didn’t go as well.

PL: This girl was your friend.
ME: I have no idea who that girl is.
PL: Um. OK. Well, this guy. You thought this guy was OK.
ME: Nope, don’t know him.
PL: But this girl. You didn’t like this girl, right?
ME: I’ve never seen that girl before in my life.
PL: Are you sure you went to this high school?

And it’s not like I can claim that I merely forgot who all those people were, because I was on the yearbook staff and I clearly remember holding up pictures of people and asking my fellow staff members whether the people in them were in our grade, because I had no idea. At the time, however, I thought this was normal. I knew the people in band and I did know people who took the same classes that I did; as an honors student, I pretty much saw the same 30 or so people all day. As for all of the people I didn’t know, I figured they didn’t know me either. How would they?

But then, as a senior in college, I ran into someone in the student center. “Hey, aren’t you Maureen from MHS? I’m Blah Blah-dee-blah! We were in the same grade!” His face was unfamiliar. His name was equally unhelpful. But he was so persistent that I was eventually forced to pretend to know who he was, but, trust me, I did not.

Now, it’s no surprise that I didn’t remember him. I have already established that I lived in a tiny marching-band-and-honors-class** tunnel, and this kid wasn’t in either. The mystery here is how he knew me. It’s not like I was a sports superstar or something. I was in the band. OK, granted, I was the drum major, but… band.

So, if I ever meet you in person, please tell me your name at least ten times and maybe write it down on a photo that I can keep. And the next time I see you, you should probably re-introduce yourself anyway.

*I feel I should point out that, at the time that I actually saw this movie, I did not actually know who Ralph Fiennes, Willem Dafoe or Colin Firth were.

**And don’t forget yearbook committee! Hey, the Ph.D. in Engineering didn’t fall out of the sky.

Friday, January 11, 2008

But he still won’t say my name

Did I mention something about a delayed separation anxiety? I did? Right. Yeah. We’re going through that at the moment. As far as I can remember, all the books say – and I feel I should break in here and say that I have not read a parenting book in about 10 months ever since I decided to chill the heck out and rock my baby to sleep if I damn well pleased – that babies typically go through separation anxiety around nine months, but all babies are different, yada yada yada, look for this behavior any time in the first 27 years of life.

So I am unconcerned that Jack has waited until 14 months to decide that it is unacceptable for me to go to the bathroom by myself even when his dad is right there in the kitchen singing and dancing and showering him with binks. Unconcerned but somewhat drained, because sometimes, a person likes to go to the bathroom all alone. Thankfully, once we are both in the bathroom, Jack is quite content to weigh himself, tell me how he’s not supposed to touch the diaper pail, and pull out every single thing from under the sink. (He’s usually looking for the tampons.)

So I shouldn’t complain. If this is as bad as it gets, I’m getting off pretty easy. Even middle-of-the-night wakings can be handled by Andrew if necessary, thanks to Jack’s penchant for throwing his bink on the floor in a fit of temper. See, he throws it on the floor and then gets really really mad that he doesn’t have a bink. When you give it back to him, he relaxes. Handy, no? Sometimes, babies aren’t so smart.

Speaking of middle-of-the-night wakings, Jack is still bizarre about crying once in his crib. Just last night he woke up soaking wet, and after I had changed him he asked if he could lie down with me on the couch. (Lest you become overly impressed, he “asked” by pointing to the door and whining.) So we did. We lay there on the couch for maybe 25 minutes and it was actually very nice and snuggly. I passed the time by pressing my cheek to his head and marveling at the fact that at this time last year, his entire body fit between my chin and pelvis and I could actually sleep while lying on the couch with him. Now, however, his much longer and heavier frame prevents any actual sleep on my part, and I finally had to return him to his own bed. He was not happy about this. He cried as I scavenged under his crib for extra binks. He wailed as I kissed him good night. He screamed as I left the room and pulled the door shut with a click, at which point he fell completely silent and made nary a peep for the rest of the night.

This sort of behavior makes it very difficult for me to decide on any given night whether to leave him crying in his crib or not. Sometimes he cries for anywhere from thirty seconds to twenty minutes. Other times he needs me to go in and comfort him. There is no way to tell which way it’s going to go. So what usually happens is that I shut the door and then lie awake watching the clock and thinking, “Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep,” until he does or until I go back in there.

But on the upside, Jack is becoming more charming and personable every day. He says “thank you” in both sign language and verbally (it sounds like “Dah dah,” but with the correct intonation), and often without being prompted. He can now distinguish between a cookie (“keekee”) and a cracker (“go-kuh”). He instigates games. And last week when we were all sick, he saw me lying down on his floor after having given up trying to get him to take a nap, and he brought me his blanket.

You know what? It made me feel better.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


So, how was your Christmas? Remember Christmas? Ours was good.

Jack received from Santa two small wind-up toys, a Clementine, a banana, a hand-me-down activity table, and a rocking chair. Jack received from his grandparents 6 pairs of pajamas, some spring-activated cars, a toy train that goes around and around, a toy tractor, some books, some puzzles, and everything on page 37 of the LL Bean catalogue. That's the page with all the Radio Flyer stuff, in case you are unaware. The kid got a little riding scooter thing, an off-roading wagon, and a tricycle so big he won't be able to ride for a good two years! But he was thrilled, and the wagon is going to come in handy come spring, so God bless grandparents. Hey, if you can't spoil your grandson, who can you spoil, right?

Our New Year's was good too, at least according to my own definition of a good New Year's, which is to say, we watched a movie and went to bed early. New Year's Eve doesn't really do much for me. Any time I've ever tried to have an elaborate good time on New Year's Eve, all I ever got was a huge letdown. I think it's just that there is far, far too much expectation built into New Year's Eve. It's not OK to just have a party, you have to have The Best Party Ever. Neither can you just go out for a few drinks, as the bars are all packed to the rafters and charge insane amounts of money just for the privilege of entering their dark, stuffy, smoky rooms. So after several years of buying into the hype, I finally gave up and decided that, for me, New Year's Eve would be a night to hang out, eat chocolate, and watch movies. I haven't been let down yet.

Granted, I always made it to at least midnight until we had Jack, but now, sleep beckons. In fact, sleep beckoned while I was still enjoying the movie, and although I did not go to bed until 10:30, I went to sleep at 9:00 or so. This tendency of mine to fall asleep while watching TV completely boggles Andrew's mind. He can't fall asleep during any movie, not even one he's seen before. Me, I can fall asleep at the movie theater. Sitting upright. Holding my purse. I have skills.

I think it's from all the practice I had at falling asleep during lectures and seminars in college and grad school. Did I ever tell you about the time I fell asleep during a class containing only 6 people? And the lecture was taking place in the professor's lab? And we were all standing up?

But I digress.

As I said, our holidays were lovely. It's the time since the holidays that have proven to be less than ideal, what with all the vomiting. But today we are all recovered, eating dairy and everything, so things are looking up. And the roof is 3/4 done! And, as a special bonus surprise, the roofers informed us today that part of their services includes cleaning up the bulk of the shingle debris that rained into our attic coating everything we own with a layer of thick, black dust, a side effect we were not prepared for. But since we thought we'd have to clean it up ourselves, learning that will be spared the worst of that job makes us better able to cope with the fact that we have to keep the Christmas decorations up for at least another week until we can clean off the storage boxes. And let me tell you, I am quite, quite ready to be rid of the Christmas decorations. I'm all for carrying out the Christmas season to its full conclusion, but today is the Epiphany and I want the tree GONE.

I think that's all I have for tonight. Coming soon: Tales Of A Delayed Separation Anxiety Stage In Which Jack Requires All-Mama-All-The-Time And Also Has Discovered Whining. Ah, whining. The negotiating technique of toddlers everywhere.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Flu, times three

On Sunday, Jack had a mild stomach bug. He had thrown up in his bed in the night, but he seemed to feel perfectly fine so we thought he had just eaten too much on Saturday and was overheated. As such, we let him eat more than we should have on Sunday, and after he finished his dinner, he came over to me and whined and somehow I knew, I just knew, he was about to throw up. And he did. So we changed his clothes, and my clothes, and bathed him and got him all comfy cozy and then he threw up again, and then again. So that was lovely.

Then on Thursday I got it. And that night Andrew got it. And Friday morning, lo and behold, Jack had been sick in his bed again.

So it’s been a fantastic week. Right now, Jack is down for the night (please God) and Andrew and I are high-fiving each other for just getting through the day without dying. We’re all on the mend; Jack had oatmeal and pears for supper and Andrew and I had chicken soup! Exciting! But this is all I can muster for a blog post right now.

I will add one thing more before I sign off: We went to my sister’s on Christmas Eve, and all of my siblings and their families were able to make it. Jack had a wonderful time playing with his many cousins, but about halfway through the evening, he started whining and wouldn’t stop. Andrew finally checked his diaper and I just have this to say: You would whine too if you had nacho chips down your pants.