Thursday, December 18, 2008

Who knew?

Did you know that if you cut a banana in half, you get a Mommy banana and a Baby banana? Yeah, I didn't either, but that is the way it is according to the 3 year olds who live with me. The Mommy banana is the end with the stem and while the Baby banana is the stemless end. The Mommy banana is the superior end because the girls often fight over it. I'm not sure why the Mommy end is better than the Baby end. Maybe that's the lesson for tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Borrowing a meme

In spite of my best intentions, the number of posts I've actually written and, well, posted, has fallen precipitously, even for me. It's not that I haven't wanted to post. Its just that I've been a little short on spare time. That and the inability to think of a worthy topic to blog about. Well I finally have a bit of extra time. At least I'm going to take a bit of extra time. I just submitted not one, but two manuscripts so I think I deserve a bit of down time. That just leaves the challenge of deciding what to blog about, and I've solved that problem by borrowing a meme that is going around the Science blogosphere. So with out further ado, I give you "The 5 Things Meme." 5 Things I was Doing 10 years Ago:
  1. Observing the feeding behavior of European corn borers.
  2. Trying to decide where I wanted to do a PhD.
  3. Playing lots of board games with fellow grad students.
  4. Cooking fabulous food with veggies from our garden
  5. Reading as many Sci-fi books as I could manage (for a while there I was reading 1 per day)
5 Things On My To-Do List Today:
  1. Write at least 1 blog post
  2. Plan/design experiments for tomorrow.
  3. Read about/plan experiments for new study
  4. Request and examinaton copy of a new science book I've been coveting.
  5. Go the the public library with the family to check out new books for my little monkeys.
5 Snacks I Love:
  1. Chocolate
  2. Cookies
  3. Doughnuts
  4. Roasted pumpkin seeds
  5. Crisp apples
5 Things I Would Do If I Were A Millionaire:
  1. Buy a house with large tracks of land.
  2. Take an extended to Australia and New Zealand
  3. Set up college funds for my 2 girls.
  4. Make huge donations to Woman's Hospital NICU and the March of Dimes
  5. Buy some John Fluevog shoes.
5 Places I've Lived:
  1. 4th floor dorm room with the roommate from Hell.
  2. Middle class neighborhood in Colorado Springs
  3. Little town in north Alabama
  4. Barely big enough for 2 people apartment in Rocket City, Alabama
  5. Southern Louisiana
5 Jobs I've Had:
  1. Pizza artist
  2. Bookseller
  3. Coffee barista
  4. Student
  5. Student (I spent enough time as a student that I feel it deserves at least 2 places on my list.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Question of the day

I covet an expensive new science book that is not really affordable with my current postdoc salary. Publisher is offering free copies to people interested in teaching a class based on this book. Would it be wrong for me to request a free copy even though I have no plans to teach any classes anytime within the next, oh, 2-5 years?

Friday, October 17, 2008

What kind of girl are you?

With special thanks to Mommyprof who helped me to get nothing done this afternoon.

You are a Brainy Girl!

Whether you're an official student or a casual learner, you enjoy hitting the books. You know a little bit about everything, and you're always dying to know more. For a guy to win your heart, he's got to share some of your intellectual interests. A awesome book collection of his own doesn't hurt either!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Silly Kaitlin

I try not to laugh at my children, at least not where they can hear me. But sometimes I just can't help it. Take today for example. When I left the girls at preschool this morning, K was on her butt, scooting her way across the floor to where some of the other kids were reading a story. "Why was she scooting?" you ask. She was scooting because she fell on the play ground and hurt herself. No, no she didn't break her leg or sprain her ankle or sustain any other injury that would prevent her from putting weight on her legs and feet. She scrapped her knees. Ok, the scrapes were pretty bad. Bad enough that we had to put band-aids on the scrapes. For some reason she is mortally afraid of band-aids. So much so that she screams like a tortured prisoner when ever we have to put them on. So much so that when she has band-aids on her knees she can't walk or even stand up. I hope she heals fast (or forgets about her wounds) because I don't know how many days I can patiently deal with her phobia. Silly kid.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Just do it

I have been inspired by ScienceMama, Dr. Isis, and some other really cool ladies who I have been cyber stalking. These ladies are all runners and running is something I want to do lots more of. I have always been out of shape, and having preeclamsia while being pregnant with twins only has only made the problem worse. I desperately need more exercise and running seems like a good way to go. I don't need any special equipment except for a good pair of running shoes, and a recent post by the above mentioned Dr. Isis give some great tips for finding the right pair. I already have a plan for getting started. And a shiny new mp3 player just waiting to be filled with motivational songs. So now I guess I need to just do it. And that, my friends, is the hard part for a chronic procrastinator like me. So tell me, where can I find the motivation I need to get off my every widening buttocks and start running?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hurricane Gustav

I have been wanting to write a post about Hurricane Gustav, but I don't quite know what to say about it. Considering that this:

Baton Rouge neighborhood is behind the apartment complex I lived in during my graduate school days, I think I'm glad I don't live there any more. But my heart still aches for my city, and part of me wants to be there with them. You can't live in a place for seven years without developing a bond with the people who live there.

The city suffered a lot of damage in this storm. Downed trees have left many, many people (1.4 million the last I heard) without electricity. It is estimated that it will take 2 weeks to restore power to all the people in the region. Please keep the people of south-central Louisiana in your thoughts and prayers.

And if you're willing and able, please consider making a donation to the Woman's Hospital Hurricane Relief Fund to help families impacted by the storm. It is difficult enough to deal with a hurricane and its aftermath, but these families are also dealing with the trials of having a baby in the NICU. Having to deal with these two challenges at the same time is difficult at best. I know. My daughter was in the NICU at this hospital during Hurricane Katrina.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I've been wondering....

  1. When the king in Sleeping Beauty has all of the spinning wheels in the country destroyed to keep his daughter from pricking her finger on a spindle, what happens to the country's economy? Where do they get their textiles for the next 16 years?

  2. When Curious George swallows the puzzle piece, why does the Man in the Yellow Hat (MITYH) take George to a children's hospital instead of a veterinarian?

  3. Why does the MITYH feel he can leave his monkey unattended at the zoo, candy story, ice cream shop, toy store, or any of the other locations where George gets him self in trouble? It that was a child....

  4. How is it that George ends up working so many food service jobs? Would you want an ape making your pancakes or serving your ice cream?

  5. Have I been reading too many children's book?

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Walrus Part 2

So my plan worked - sort of. After 2 weeks and some change, I managed to send a draft to my PhD advisor. In the end I earned about 15 downloads. There were days I worked on it with a will and other days where 30 min of each hour were spent reading blogs and other bits and pieces online. In the end, I was able to get it done. Bribing myself certainly helped me get the ball rolling, but the dangling carrot method is not what helped me to finish the albatross paper. In the end I think there were two things that helped more.

1)Deciding to do it. Sounds simple, but until I really decided to go for it, there were always other activities getting in the way. After a week of earning exactly one song, I finally just decided to do it. I cleared everything off my to do list except for this paper. No lab work. No blogging. Just writing. And now it's finished - go figure.

2)Getting an email from my PhD advisory that said, "ok where is it? We need to get it out." For me, one of the hardest thing about this whole science career is motivation. I love science, but some days it is really hard to be my own source of motivation. I've somehow managed to have fairly "hands off" advisors. And there are few deadlines. Many days it is really hard to get the ball rolling. A simple email really helped to keep up the momentum I'd managed to build up earlier in the week - go figure.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The time has come the walrus said....

to pull out the big guns. And by big guns I mean hard core bribes. I finished my PhD almost a year ago, and I still have 2 chapters that need to be turned into manuscripts and published. I'm having a really tough time getting this little job done what with a birthday party to plan and laundry to do and postdoc research to get done. I've tried gentle encouragements and I've tried threats (I may get scooped if I don't get my ass in gear), but neither of these seem to be providing the motivation I need. Therefore, I've decided to try a new approach. Bribery. For every hour I put in on said manuscripts I'm goi to give myself a credit for one music download. And for finishing the manuscripts I'm going to buy an mp3 player of some form (exact type to be determined)to play earned downloads. Think it will work?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I'm glad it's not the 1930s


As a 1930s wife, I am

Take the test!

I wonder if I got this score because I wear pajamas to cook breakfast or because I eat garlic before bed.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I have no response to that

My daughter, A, loves to draw and color. She recently learned to draw circles and has been using her new skill to draw balloons (she is terrified of balloons, but she loves to draw them for some reason). A few days ago I was walking up the stairs and noticed one of her characteristic balloons drawn ON THE WALL. WITH TURQUOISE CRAYON!!! "A," I yelled, "Did you draw this balloon on the wall?" To which she replied in her sweetest voice, "Yes Mommy, I drew it for you." Now tell me, how am I supposed to respond to that?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Gaining Weight

Now that my daughters are almost 3 years old, and I can fit back into most of my pre-baby clothes, its time for me to gain back some of my baby weight. Not weight as we usually think of it measured in pounds and ounces. I’m talking about mass in a more abstract sense. I used to be a bigger person, metaphorically speaking. I used to spend my free time sewing, making quilts, doing cross-stitch projects, reading novels (sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, you name it), gardening, making jam, baking bread, cooking complicated foods, canoeing, hiking, camping, going to the beach, building houses with Habitat for Humanity, hanging out with friends, going to see movies. You get the picture. And when combined with 40-80 hours of course/lab work per week (depending on the time of the semester and/or looming deadlines), I had a big, full life. Today I feel like my life is a lot smaller than it used to be. I’ve lost a lot of “weight” and I’m not as big a person as I used to be. And I miss being a larger person.

I started loosing weight when I found out I was pregnant (well actually, I gained about 20 lbs during the first month of pregnancy, but again we aren’t talking about actual real pounds here). I was less than a year away from completing my PhD, so I dropped all extra activities (except sitting on a Federal Grand Jury, which was not my decision and which is another post for another day) in order to complete my research before Baby was born. I dropped some more weight when I was put on bed rest about half way through my pregnancy. My doctor told me I need to lie around like a lazy dog, so no more research for me. And no more writing or even reading research related material for that matter. Baby B was so high up against my lungs that I could barely breathe. And sitting up for more than abut 10 minutes at a time – even in a recliner – was really uncomfortable. Plus, the preeclampsia made me very tired and foggy headed so I couldn’t concentrate on significant (i.e. science) reading long enough for it to make sense. The general discomfort also meant I couldn’t/didn’t want to spend any time cooking, quilting or sewing for my babies either. Hanging out with friends wasn’t really in the cards either. Everyone I had previously spent time with had just moved out of our hot, swampy city. I was reduced to reading mindless books, watching endless hours of bad TV (thank goodness for netflix), and going to see my OB twice a week. I felt really small, empty, and alone. I have the utmost sympathy for anyone who is put on bed rest during pregnancy (but that’s a post for another day, so back to the topic).

I started gaining some “weight” when the twins were finally born. I had two new beautiful precious people in my life who added to it in ways I’d never imagined. But two newborns are demanding (to say the least) There were days when I didn’t have time to take a shower or brush my teeth, let alone pursue any type of hobbies or get any work done. When the girls were ~ 6 months old, I started to get back part of my pre-baby life. I started teaching an introductory biology class for non-majors, and I was able to get a little research done. A year and some change later, I finished my degree and started a postdoc. And now I feel like I can really start putting some effort into combining my old life with my new life. The girls are big enough to take on picnics and short hikes. We plan to take them on their first canoe trip soon and camping will probably start in the fall. Some day I might even get back to the quilt I was making. My life is gaining weight. Now I just have to figure out how to balance it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Note to self

Find/develop a model insect species that does not require raw liver for any stage of its life cycle.

Bring a salad or other vegetarian meal on any day where "larvae collection" is a scheduled activity.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Random thoughts

  1. If people are actually going to link to and read my blog, I should probably post more often.

  2. Its silly and unfair for me to be (slightly) irritated with my favorite bloggers when they don't post for days (or weeks) at a time when I only post once a month (or less).

  3. I am happy that I've found so many cool people through their blogs.

  4. I wish I knew some of them IRL instead of just online. I'm such a weirdo that I have a hard time finding people who share my interests. And that gets a bit lonely sometimes, don't ya know.

Friday, May 9, 2008

False hope

Dear Person Who Told Me that Raising Twins Would Get Easier After They Turned Two,

You were wrong. 3 a.m feeding were a breeze to handle compared to the tantrums I've been dealing with the last couple of weeks.

Just wanted you to know so you can stop giving people false hope.

kthnx bye.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The day my life changed forever

Tuesday, May 6, is the third anniversary of the day that changed my life forever. Well, the first of many days that changed my life forever. During the spring of 2005, I was a PhD student about 6 months from finishing my degree, I had been in touch with a couple of potential postdoc advisors, and I was pregnant with my first child. My husband and I decided that the best time to have our first baby was between finishing my degree and starting a postdoc position, and, low and behold, it looked like all of our plans were falling into place. Then I went in for my first ultrasound. At 20 weeks we went in to make sure our baby was healthy and to find out if we were having a boy or a girl. The ultrasound technician rubbed jelly across my belly, rubbed the wand around my bulge to get everything nice a goopy, and then casually uttered those fateful words, “oh look, there are two babies in there.” Yep – we were having twins. Before getting pregnant, I kind of had some, well for lack of a better word, fantasies about combining motherhood with a science career, but all of those imaginings were for only one baby. How would I manage to fit two children into my career? At the same time? I had absolutely no idea. At that point, I kind of just tossed my plans out the window. Whatever would come would come and I would deal with it as it came. I would finish my degree and figure out my life later.

It turns out that it was a good thing I chose a “take it as it comes” approach because my life was about to get even less predictable. Four weeks after learning I was going to have twins, I had symptoms of preeclampsia and two weeks after that my doctor told me to go home and “lie around like a lazy dog” for the rest of my pregnancy. And that is what I did for the next 8 weeks until my twins were delivered six weeks prematurely. After two exhausting weeks in the NICU, Baby Girl 1 was discharged, and our lives seemed to be getting to a place where we could establish a new normal. But a week after that Hurricane Katrina hit. We were actually, very, very lucky that the storm did not hit us directly and that we only lost electricity for four days. But the result is that they needed space in our NICU for all the babies being evacuated from New Orleans, and Baby Girl 2 was discharged, in my opinion, before she was ready and with medical issues that would we would deal with over the next year. Our new normal was now life in a too small apartment with two infants in a city that gained 10,000 extra people overnight. And I was a full time stay at home mom to a medically challenged infant, and I had no idea what was going to happen with my career. Certainly, all hope for finishing my degree and starting a postdoc in the foreseeable future was gone. What would the future hold?

Fast forward three years. My girls are now active almost 3 year olds who have mostly outgrown their medical issues and have “caught-up” with their full term peer. I have finished my PhD and now have a postdoc position at a large university in the lab of a National Academy of Science member. My life and career are back on the previously plotted course. Or are they? One major effect of the events of 2005 is that I am no longer sure of my career goals. There are days that I am not confident that a science career is even right for me any more. Balancing the demands of home and career is more difficult than I ever imagined. My kitchen is never clean and there are toys and dirty clothes everywhere. I’m not confident that I am getting enough done at work? I never know if I am coming or going. Is it worth it? Would my family be better off if I stayed at home, kept the house clean and cooked healthy dinners every night? Would my daughters be better at home with me than at daycare? Then there are other days when I want to be a scientist, but I’m not sure I am in the right field. There are days when my very basic research on insects seems frivolous. Shouldn’t I focus my attention on something that would save lives? Very little is known about what causes preeclampsia, should I leave entomology and study human development? Instead of studying insect development, should I study something more related to human health? I now have friends who have either lost children who were born too early. Other friends now face a lifetime of caring for children with cerebral palsy or other extreme physical challenges. Should I focus my research on preventing and/or treating premature birth? There are people all over the U.S. who lost everything in Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Should I get a job at a non-profit organization and help people who have nothing? Or should I just stay at home with my girls and make sure they have the best start possible. The answer is, I just don’t know. I know that things are really hard right now and I’ve lost a lot of the passion I once had for my job. But that may just be from the exhaustion of trying to keep my career going and keep up with two preschoolers. There is a reason I became a scientist – because I love science. I love doing research. I love studying insects! So for now, I’ll stick with the plan I came up with three years ago. Keep going and everything will sort itself out – I hope.

Friday, April 4, 2008


Lately I’ve had a small problem with procrastination. Well, to be honest, I have a big problem with procrastination, and it’s bringing me down. Checking my email and reading blogs and internet message boards are my big downfall. But a couple of online games and comic strips should also be included on the list of things that prevent me from getting my work done. In effort to combat this lack of productivity, I turned to the internets for tips on curing procrastination (cause using Google to learn about issues in my life is a productive waste of time, don’t ya know), and I found an entry on Wikipedia on procrastination. This is what it says: “Procrastination is a type of behavior which is characterized by deferment of actions or tasks to a later time. Psychologists often cite procrastination as a mechanism for coping with anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision.” Wow, that really hit home. Especially the part about anxiety. You see, the tasks I’ve been I have been putting off are all work related. Specifically, I need to submit two articles for publication. And I am anxious about putting myself out there. I don’t want my scientific work, that I’ve put heart and soul into for the last many number of years, to be criticized and one way to avoid criticism is to keep it to myself. Of course, if I don’t publish, then my career comes to a screeching halt. And the thought of failing at my chosen profession brings its own anxiety with it. So, I procrastinate. Wiki goes on to say: “For the person procrastinating this may result in stress, a sense of guilt, the loss of personal productivity, the creation of crisis and the disapproval of others for not fulfilling one's responsibilities or commitments. While it is normal for individuals to procrastinate to some degree, it becomes a problem when it impedes normal functioning.” Yep. Right again. And the cycle goes on and on and on. Anxiety and stress making me unproductive because my lack of productivity makes me anxious and stressed. So, how do I break the cycle? I can’t just turn off my computer because I need it to do my job. Fortunately, Wiki has some information on that too (don’t you just love Wiki? Its a great way to kill a couple of hours and learn something at the same time). Specifically, there is a link to a collection of podcasts on overcoming procrastination, and other links to articles and tutorials on overcoming procrastination and academic success, and even a tutorial to overcome procrastination. Wikipedia even has a Wikibook on Overcoming Procrastination. Wow, I could really spend a lot of time procrastinating while reading/learning about procrastination. However, as helpful as these resources may be, I'm not sure these articles would really get to the proximal cause of my procrastination - the fear associated with being criticized by my peers. I think the only real way to just do it. Screw my courage to the sticking place. Develop a hard outer shell. Take a breath and jump into the volcano. Fortunately, Wiki has suggestions for doing just that.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

To do:

  1. Set up HPLC and figure out how to write time series methods.
  2. Find some postdoctoral fellowships to apply for and, well, apply for them.
  3. Finish manuscript revisions for PhD research.
  4. Write brilliant posts for my blog since there appear to be people who actually read it occasionally.
  5. Play with my kids. They keep asking for a tea party, after all.
  6. Teach A and K that pooping on the potty is better than pooping in their pants.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lost in Translation

Another mother of twins whose blog I read on a regular basis pointed me to this great site (see the link that now runs across the top of my page) that has all types of fantasitc blogger templates. "Wow, those are cool," I thought to myself, "I need to have a designer template like all the other cool kids." So I went to the site, grabed the code for a template that suits my personality, and edited my blog. I was feeling very pleased with myself when I realized that my blog roll had disappeard in the process. *Cry* Now I need to construct a new blog roll, which is going to take time since I foolishly deleted all the links from my favorites folder (who needs a favorites folder when you have a blog roll handy). Long story short. If anyone is still reading my blog and would like to be linked to it, please comment or send me an email.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Independence vs boundries

My daughter is very independent. “Do it self” is a phrase we hear a lot at our house. And it is getting to be so extreme that A doesn’t ask us for anything – she just goes and gets it/does it herself. Need a drink of water? Just go get the pitcher off the counter and pour yourself a glass. Want a cup of chocolate pudding out the fridge? Just go get something. Need some pretzels? Just go get the bag off the counter and help yourself. This would all be well and good except that, well, she’s only two years old. And sometimes the attempts to get things for herself don’t always work out. The full pitcher of water – all over the floor. Which is just as well because the glasses she tried to pour water in were dirty (like crusty milk in the bottom dirty). And I’m kind of at a loss as to the correct response to this. At one level, I want to encourage her independence and her “go get it” attitude. On the other hand, I don’t want her to get hurt because she tried to cut something herself. Or get chocolate pudding all over the place, for another. How do I encourage independence while simultaneously setting boundaries. And with out making her spend even more time in the naughty corner? Why does parenting have to be so hard? Does anyone know?