Sunday, November 27, 2011

More Injuries

You know when I said that S wasn't seriously hurt in the scary car accident?  Um, wrong.  When he was still in a lot of pain several days later, his doctor reconsidered the decision not to take an x-ray.  (Yep, major accident, and she didn't think that he needed an x-ray right away.  For this, and many other reasons, "find new doctor" is now on my to-do list.)  It turns out that he fractured a rib.  In addition to a ton of pain, he is also prohibited from lifting or carrying anything over 10 pounds or so, for the next two months.  Do you know who weighs more than 10 pounds and is often in need of lifting and carrying?

Each of our children.

So, S is now completely unable to help with, um, anything.  No night duty.  No lifting Kermit in and out of cribs.  No bedtime help.  No getting Kermit in and out of high chairs.  No getting children in and out of car seats.  No moving a child away from dangerous objects.  No getting children in and out of baths.  Totally negates his plan to do more childcare and all night duty for the next week so that I can catch up on sleep before I start my job next Monday.

Also, he wasn't able to carry any luggage over Thanksgiving, and thanks to the drowsiness brought on by the pain killers, he couldn't drive for any of the ten hours that it took us to get to S's aunt's house.  (Also, his injuries made sitting in a car for ten hours a ton of fun for him.) The drive back only took six hours.  The difference?  The drive there was during the day, when traffic sucked.  For the drive back, we opted to avoid traffic and drove from 8:30pm until 2:30am.  Hardly ideal, but shaving off four hours is ridiculous, and the traffic would have been even worse on the way home.  Though I think that driving through a mountain pass at night brought on a bit of post-traumatic stress for S, especially when a bunch of fog rolled in, such that I couldn't see anything just four car lengths in front of us.  Creepy.

So, now we're home, and happy to have survived the trip.  Things can only get better from here, right?

Friday, November 25, 2011

400 Days Later

Here's the 400 day update to my 500 day goals. My last update before my 500 days is up! It is obvious to me that a few of these aren't going to get done, but I'm okay with that. Not great, but okay. I'm feeling fairly happy with the progress that I've made. I'm feeling less happy that I'm turning 35 in only 100 days.

1. Have two happy kids. (Done!)

2. Finish my PhD. (Done!)

3. Own a new (bigger) house. I don't see any way that this will happen in the next 100 days. I was waiting until I had a job, and we have started a few steps on this, like talking to mortgage people and realtors, but we will probably need to wait until the market picks up a bit, because there aren't very many houses on the market right now. Soon, though. We really need to move soon.

4. Work in a job that I enjoy. I start in December! I guess the jury is still out on whether I will enjoy this job, but all signs are looking good. Also, I need to remember that for every single job I've ever had, I hated it for the first month, because I am bad at transitions.

5. Bring both kids to visit my parents at least once. (Done!)

6. Bring both kids to visit my in-laws at least once. (Done!)

7. Pay off all debt except the mortgage. I still have two small undergrad loans. We have the cash on hand to pay them off right now if we wanted to, but I'm not sure whether it would be better to use that cash for our potential new house, since the interest rate on the loans is pretty low. I may just get annoyed enough that the loans still exist that I just pay them off in January when I get my first paycheck. We'll see.

8. Lose all pregnancy and fertility treatment weight from both pregnancies. (That would be 22 pounds below pre-pregnancy weight with Kermit. Right now, this means that I still need to lose 13 pounds. That is doable in 100 days, unless you consider that in the last 100 days, I only lost 2 pounds. Also, weight loss takes focus for me, and with starting the new job, this is really not where I will be focusing.)

9. Breast feed Kermit for one year. (Only made it 5 months, two less than with LL. Depressing.)

10. Cook dinner at home 5 days each week. (I'm totally rocking this one!)

11. Read 10 fiction books. (Still only at one, and it is not looking promising.  I am in the middle of a second one, though, which would technically double my count!)

12. Learn Objective-C. (I was making progress on this one, working during Kermit's naps. But then I accepted the job offer, and realized how much crap I wanted to do around the house before going back to work, and I started using nap time for all of those things, so I totally stalled out.)

13. Learn perl. (I can really only focus on learning one language at a time.)

14. Have permanent assigned "homes" for most objects in the house. (There is a lot of weeding of belongings that I've done so far, but this one really isn't going to be done until we've moved into a bigger house.)

15. Update work wardrobe. (Done! I bought new shoes! And new pants! And new shirts! Now we just need to see if I wear all the cool new stuff, or if I start getting lazy and wearing jeans every day again.)

16. Shower every day. (I'm not technically showering every day, but I am showering every other day, which is a whole lot better than the once-a-week-if-I'm-lucky that I was managing before. Also, showering every other day is better for your skin and stuff, right? Also, I have a whole post about my hair that I need to write.)

17. Wear makeup every work day. (Done! I have new makeup, I like how it looks, and I'm getting better at putting it on. It makes me look a lot less tired than I actually am.)

100 more days. Eight done, three almost done, one canceled, five kinda stalled out.  The job, the weight loss, and the paying of debts might conceivably still happen. The new house and the reading of books for fun probably won't. The learning new languages might just happen as part of the new job, which would be convenient. The big open question is the whether the cooking and the showering and the makeup and everything keep happening once I'm busy with work….

Monday, November 21, 2011


Why do I insist on jinxing myself?  What exactly did I think was going to happen when I wrote a post about children trying their best to kill themselves?  Because the obvious thing happened -- LL injured himself.  Not horribly, but enough to require an urgent care clinic and x-rays and limited activity for a few weeks, right as we're about to travel for Thanksgiving.

He was playing on the couch, nothing out of the ordinary, and then suddenly he tumbled backwards off one end.  Much crying ensued.  I cuddled and kissed and waited for the panic to go away, because usually these sorts of falls are just about being surprised, not about being injured.  This time, though… the crying continued for a long long time.  And when it stopped, LL's left arm was hanging awkwardly by his side.  And when I tried to touch his arm, the response was ugly.  So, yeah, LL dislocated his elbow.

Do you know what doctors do for a dislocated elbow?  They unceremoniously (and un-medicatedly) pop it back into place.  Which couldn't have been at all pleasant for LL.  He screamed and cried, and the doctor looked a little surprised, and then tried to hand him a lollipop, but LL was too busy burying himself into my shoulder to take it, so the doctor handed it to me and told me that she would return to the exam room in a few minutes after LL had time to compose himself so that he could be examined again.  Gotta love that bedside manner, eh?  (This was clearly not our regular doctor.)

LL is definitely on the mend, but he is very ginger with his arm, and every so often he forgets and puts some weight on it and I see him flinch a bit.  So, there's that.

The next day, S left for a four-day business trip.  I can't complain too much, because the last time he had to go on a business trip, I was pregnant with LL, so it's not like he travels a lot.  On the other hand… it does mean that I have very little practice being on my own with the kids for multiple days at a time.  I know that there are parents out there who are single parents, or who have partners who work long hours every day, or who have partners who really do travel a whole lot.  I admire that they're able to keep it together, because I don't think I could.  But the fact that S's business trip aligned with LL's injury certainly didn't help.

So, four days on my own, an injured preschooler, a teething baby… lots of fun.  I was very much looking forward to having S home again.  In particular, I was looking forward to having him take over a little of the night duty, so that I could store up a bit of sleep before I start my new job in two weeks (!).

Which brings us to the icing on the cake.  S was in a bad car accident on his way home from the business trip.  Bad.  He was carpooling with two coworkers, and he was riding in the back seat of the car, and they t-boned another car, traveling somewhere around 40 mph.  Airbags deployed, the car is totaled, but it appears that everybody will recover okay.  The driver (a friend of ours) has a heart condition and started experiencing chest pains shortly after the accident, so she's still being monitored a bit.  S had the wind knocked out of him, and you can see a bright purple outline on his hips and torso where the seatbelt crushed into him, and he's hobbling around and it hurts him to walk or bend or lift or do absolutely anything else requiring any muscle movement at all, but nothing is broken and he'll hopefully feel better in a few weeks.  But it does mean that he can't lift the kids or carry them or, you know, help me at all around the house.  So, um, not much fun around here right now.  Also, I'm sure he's very much going to enjoy sitting in a car for nine hours when we drive to Thanksgiving.

If you're curious about the accident, it is apparently a fairly rare situation where the car that hit head on, the one that S was traveling in, was not the one at fault for the accident.  They were traveling along a fairly treacherous highway through a mountain pass.  The speed limit was 45 mph, and they were heading downhill, at dusk.  They came around one of the many curves along this stretch of road to find a car seemingly parked horizontally across both lanes of the highway.  Our friend slammed on her brakes, but there was simply no room to maneuver and not enough time to react.  The police interviewed the other driver at the hospital, and he said that he was traveling the opposite direction, and decided to make a U-turn, but there wasn't room to complete the turn, so he was reversing to do a Y-turn when he was hit.  Which raises the obvious question:  Who the hell does a U-turn on a highway, before a blind curve, in a 45mph area, into oncoming downhill traffic, at dusk?

Also, this particular highway is fairly famous in this area for having a lot of car accidents, so you'd think people would be more cautious, instead of being this blatantly stupid.  I even had a premonition about this -- when S told me when he'd be coming home, I actually commented that it was really stupid of his company to ask them all to drive this particular highway at dusk to get home, since it is tricky under good conditions and none of them are used to driving it.  I asked S to try to leave an hour earlier so that they could do this particular stretch of highway at a safer time of day.  Also, when the police interviewed S, and then told him about the other driver's attempted U-turn, even the police officers were shaking their heads at the other driver's reckless stupidity.

So, in summary:  Teething baby.  Preschooler with a dislocated elbow.  Husband recovering from an ugly car accident.  New job in two weeks.  Leaving for Thanksgiving with the in-laws on Tuesday.  If anyone would like to trade places with me for a little while, please let me know.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thoughts on the Redesign

So I just redid absolutely everything about my blog.  No... wait.  The content all moved.  But the name is totally different, and the page design is totally different, and the URL is totally different (fancy personalized hosted webpage!  Oooooooh...), and my profile and email address are totally different.

I'm a little freaked out to be making such a dramatic change, you know?  But once I became a bit obsessed with moving the blog, I just went all out.  (Blog redesign obsession... apparently that's what happens when S is out of town and the kids fall asleep early and there's nothing good on television.)  Anyway, here is the result.


First, please please please -- if you're a regular reader of mine, please update your blog reader or RSS feed or bookmarks or whatever to point to the new location.  Snazzy, eh?

Second, please please please please -- give me feedback on what you think of the new design.  Too cluttered?  Too white?  Too green?  Too small?  Ugly header?  One of those basic principles of design work is that user feedback is very very important.  Also, I have no aesthetic skills whatsoever.  So please let me know what I should change.

Then I can go back to talking about the usual stuff.  How LL is obsessed with his hair all of a sudden (is that normal for a three-year-old boy?).  How Kermit is biting everything he can reach.  How S went on his first out-of-town business trip since I was pregnant with LL.  How I'm kind of dreading Thanksgiving with the in-laws next week.  How excited and nervous I am to start my new job in December.  All that fun stuff.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Blog Redo

So... I'm thinking about making some changes to the blog. Not in content, but in name. And maybe location. I picked the name for the blog without giving it very much thought, and I kind of expected it to be just be about fertility treatments and very little else. S and I had been trying to get pregnant for like two years, and I was extremely frustrated and emotional and confused, so I started this blog to chronicle our continuing journey to parenthood... and I got pregnant with LL three months later. And now here we are, more than four years later (!), and I never write about fertility stuff, and I'm no longer in grad school. The name kinda sucks. (In fact, I actively dislike it.)

Also, despite having done this blog for more than four years (!), I know nothing about "blog technologies." I started with blogger because it was free and I had used it to set up a shared blog for my study group when we were studying for our qualifying exams, but I spent exactly no time at all considering any other sights or looking up features or anything. But many of my dear readers know a lot more about this than I do. So, help please?!? Any advice? Even from those of you who read regularly but rarely comment? Thanks!

Here are the decisions that I'm trying to make:

- Should I move the blog off of blogger? It seems like all the cool kids are on wordpress these days. Are there awesome features I'm missing out on by staying with blogger? Are there other compelling reasons for moving? Is wordpress super easy to figure out? Yes, I have a PhD in Computer Science, but I'm actually a total luddite. Go figure.

- If I move to wordpress, should I move all the content, too? I see that there are easy tools for doing so. Is there any downside?

- If I stay on blogger, should I just change the name of the blog, or should I change the URL, too? I'm not all that worried about keeping my page rank or anything like that (that seems to be the main reason that people have angst about moving blogs) but I would like to keep my meager readership. Yes, I hate the name, and the name is right there in the URL, but maybe if I just changed the name, it would be enough to make me feel better. But I think that I probably want to change it completely, URL included. I don't know.

- The big question: what should the new name be? I'm at a total loss for this one. I plan to continue the blog the way it has been for the past few years -- mostly about the kids, and work-life balance, and being a working mother in a science field, surrounded by a bunch of awkward oblivious tech guys. (But, especially after I start the new job, I will probably write very little about work. I want to keep up my slim facade of anonymity.)

- Would it be weird to introduce new nicknames for my family members? S and LL are fairly uninspired names. (I kinda like Kermit.)

So... any advice? Any pitfalls to keep in mind? I want to get it all sorted out before I start the new job, which is in just a few weeks.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Food Chain

A friend of ours recently had his first baby, and we asked him how it was going. I absolutely loved his reaction. He said:

Babies are totally amazing. They're completely helpless and immobile, and they make more noise than should be possible from something that small. Could it be more obvious that we are at the top of the food chain? Our babies are born yelling at the top of their lungs, "Hey, look at me! Totally helpless little morsel of food right here!!!"

Yep, we're lucky that we created tools to defend ourselves, because holy cow our children do everything in their power to try to bring about their own destruction. Ages one through five can basically be described as "I have the physical ability to kill myself in a bazillion different ways, and none of the intelligence to stop myself from doing it by accident." I am constantly amazed by how completely oblivious LL is to the dangers around him. Jump in front of speeding cars? Stuff handfuls of food into his mouth until he chokes? Grab at hot candles? Eat random leaves and flowers found outside? Climb really high onto things when he has no reasonable plan for getting down? Run as fast as he can, with his eyes closed? Yes, these are definitely the actions of someone concerned with his own survival.

Last week, Kermit crawled off the edge of a cliff without a moment's hesitation. Okay, not a cliff. A stair. Just one stair. But seriously, no hesitation, and he banged his forehead pretty bad when the ground ended up not being where he wanted it to be. (Also, S and I were both standing right there when it happened, so we're not exactly winning any parenting awards right now.)

Kermit's latest favorite game: he tosses his head waaaay back, to give me a chance to tickle his chin and neck. What kind of an animal has offspring who think that the most intelligent thing they can do is to purposely expose their jugular?

Children make a lot more sense when you think of them as The Top of the Food Chain. But I'm not entirely sure that they're better off for it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Etiquette Question

We have this friend, D, who has been friends with S since they were in high school. D is an odd mix of hyper-sensitive about protocol and yet clueless about a wide array of social norms. His wedding, for example, was the most intricately formal affair that I have ever been to, carefully choreographed (by him, not his wife) to keep Emily Post perfectly happy. He is still humbly apologizing for something that he did to me, by accident, more than eight years ago, something that I laughed about at the time and was never upset about, and for which I keep kindly telling him that he really doesn't need to be concerned anymore. He has spent holidays with S's extended family, and interrogates us carefully about the preferences of various members of the family, so that he can be careful not to offend.

And yet this same guy regularly invites himself over to our house for dinner, whenever his wife is out of town, by explaining to us that he would like me to cook dinner for him because he cannot fend for himself. And he is constantly explaining to us how brilliant his son his, especially compared to most normal children (like LL). He even makes his son put on little "shows" for us, to display how much he knows. It is ... weird.

We recently went to a birthday party for D's son, who turned four. We bought him a small gift (Lego cars!), LL happily handed it to him, and he immediately ripped it open. And then declared loudly that he didn't like it, before tossing it aside and running off. D was absolutely mortified. He kept apologizing for his son's behavior, throughout the evening. Bizarrely, he never actually corrected his son, or encouraged his son to behave differently; he just kept apologizing to us.

But, whatever. The kid is four. I wouldn't be shocked to see any four-year-old behave like that on occasion, I've seen much worse from this one, and I've seen similar behavior from D, so I wasn't exactly surprised, and I didn't particularly care.

Fast-forward to today. We received, right on time, a nice thank-you note from D's son, hand-written by D. Here is the card, verbatim:

"Thank you very much for the Legos. While I rudely said, "I don't like it," my attitude changed dramatically when it was exchanged for nerf guns."

So... I laughed out loud. Because it is so typical of D -- he did the appropriate thing and sent a note, but the note itself expresses what a horrible gift it was, until it was exchanged for something much better. And on the one hand, I guess I'm glad that they were able to get the kid something that he wanted (that is, after all, why I carefully included a gift receipt in the birthday card). On the other hand... is it normal to tell a gift-giver that you exchanged their gift? I would think not. And certainly not in a way that makes it obvious that you hated the original gift. (Surely there are more tactful ways of mentioning it, if you feel the need.)

But now I'm actually torn about what you should say in a thank-you note when you didn't actually want the gift. I mean, that note is obviously not it, but what is the right thing to do?