Almost there...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Five Months

I love this part. A baby at this age is a joy. They're happy and smiley and interactive, but not yet mobile enough to be destructive.

Most days I sneak out of the house before Athena wakes up. The days that I miss that mark are the hardest. When I first walk in to greet her in her crib in the morning, I'm usually met with an enormous grin and sometimes even giggles, just because I'm there. Then I'm supposed to change a diaper, get her started eating, and leave. Yeah... no. But I do. There's this mortgage to pay. So it goes.

The Some Like It Hot Ball was indeed truly awesome. Athena had a grand time. She spent the evening strapped to Dad as we enjoyed swing dancing, waltz, and tango. With babies, I firmly believe that they tend to arrive with little preinstalled preferences. We could have gotten the baby who didn't like moving, or loud-ish music, or big crowds, or being out in the evenings. We didn't. We got the perfect baby for our lifestyle. And let's be clear, baby girl has style!

Athena hit a big milestone on June 10th. She rolled over from front to back for the very first time. The first time, she and I both looked really surprised. I thought maybe it was just a fluke, but when I rolled her back over, she flipped herself right back. Erik was out at Whiskey Night with the boys, so I started taking video. The only trouble was, mostly she'd flip back so fast that I couldn't even start the camera before she was flipped back. Eventually, I caught this:
Athena will never have to have tummy time again if she doesn't want to. And usually, she doesn't want to. She has not yet figured out how to flip from back to front. She gets most of the way twisted around, but can't quite seem to swing her hips over. We're grateful for that, because that would initiate a huge round of babyproofing that we were hoping would come after Erik's class finished. As of today, we made it! She's now allowed to do that anytime she wants. We'll probably be doing babyproofing (round 1) on Sunday.

Also this month, Erik had his first Father's Day. Here's how we started the day:
Happy together.
Who's awesome! We are!

My dad came down for lunch at Il Fornaio and we got treated to Athena being completely adorable. First, she slept through the first half of lunch, giving us both a chance to eat. Then she chowed down her own liquid lunch and then sat and watched the world go by in the window of Il Fornaio. This was more entertaining than everyone expected as she watched every car go by with a snap of the head to track the cars. I wish I'd had the brain to record a video at the time. She was so thoroughly engrossed with every passing car that it made everyone at the table laugh.

We spent the evening with the Foxes/Lendvays, first with dinner at Aqui, finally getting to try their Sunday special Pork Milanesa. We headed back to the Fox household to play Cards Against Humanity and Last Night on Earth. Athena liked her daddy's hand.
Oooh. Good hand.
No! Play this one Daddy!

Athena has been going to ceili with me each week. She really does seem to enjoy it. While Bob is away in Japan, Kunal and I are officially in charge, which isn't that different than normal, but it feels a bit like we're lacking a safety net. That said, I probably wouldn't have pushed myself to be fully back, fully committed to teaching, if Bob hadn't been leaving the country, but he did, and it works. Yay! So there we are, dancing up a storm, with Athena strapped on the front. This week she even feel asleep in the middle of Trip to the Cottage. The music, the bouncing, the whole thing: baby nap magic. Also, we did Wives and Mistresses. Twelve dancers wanted to try this crazy thing they'd heard tell of, and they did, and then they wanted to ramp it up. Instantly it was, "Hey, I bet we can do that figure as a grand instead of heads and sides." Yes, yes you can, because y'all are awesome. It's been over five years since the Plough 'splosion night, and we're still dancing, and that's just a good thing. Next week, Erik can actually join us as this past Tuesday was his final at Foothill so now school is out for summer. Woohoo!

We're still waiting to hear back from DeAnza. He had a really good job interview there for a full-time position. He had a really good second interview. And now... the waiting. We hates the waiting. But heck, if at the end of the waiting comes the job offer, then all is forgiven. :)

(Also - do you know what happens when you leave a cute baby with a photographer while her dad goes for a job interview? Cute baby photos! Yay!)
Oooh... feet!

On the day of the second interview, I had to get Athena and I out of the house. Erik's interview was at 8 a.m., so I figured I could go in a tad late, and drop Athena with Rachel for an hour or so before Erik would finish and it'd be all good. This was a beautiful plan. I had never single-handedly gotten us out of the house in time for work in the morning before. The first problem was that Erik forgot his cell phone. This made me very conscious of remembering his phone AND my phone, so I set mine right next to the pump bag. We then had a slightly chaotic morning where I expected Athena to nurse, but she refused, so then I was trying to pump, realizing I was running late, so trying to pack the car while pumping, and then trying to feed the baby while pumping, and generally everything ended up totally crazy. As I was pulling out, I thought to double check that I had my phone, and my car said that the mobile phone was not connected. Crap. So I knew right where I'd left it right? Right on the bench. Only it wasn't there. Nor in the bathroom. Nor by the bed. Nor by the changing table. Nor by the carseat. Nor anywhere I could find. But I had Erik's iPhone, so I logged into Find my iPhone and pinged my phone. It started ringing in the kitchen, but I still couldn't find it. Finally, I looked in the silverware drawer. Um... yeah, can't explain that. It's not like I'd even had breakfast. I arrived at Rachel's place and handed the girl to my waiting husband and dashed to work. Silverware drawer. Yeah.

Athena continues to refuse to nurse most of the time. On good days, I get her to nurse directly from the taps once. The rest of the time, I hook myself up to my moo machine five or six times a day, usually 3 times at work.
This is never fun, and I realized recently that I frequently clench my teeth during the process. It's not exactly painful exactly. It's just really unpleasant. 30 weeks to go til we cross the 1 year line. I'm hoping that sometime after Athena is eating solids, it will reduce frequency somewhat, possibly at least allowing me to sleep through the night. Right now, I force myself out of bed every night between 2-4 a.m. and spend 30 minutes hooked up, then try to get back to sleep. If I do that and nothing else, that usually works. If I bump into any issue that forces my brain to fully boot up, then I'll stare at the ceiling for an hour or more before drifting back off. Those are really bad days. Add to that a few nights of late-to-bed, and I'm a real zombie of the shambling and drooling variety. I know it's bad when I start kind of crumpling in my chair because even gravity is too much.

On the plus side, the server room in my building has become the lactation room at work. The room has been cleaned and cleared of dead furniture. I found a refrigerator from a departing student and Cholada found a room divider and Vesna added a curtain to the back of it. I wrote up a procedure for using the room and now it's available to anyone in IT Services. Currently, that's three of us, but Rosy is expecting in September. Sadly, it's not going to be used by Maria who gave up on breastfeeding because she was having too much trouble finding a space to do it during the work day. Luckily, I've got a bit more initiative than that, so I managed to bully past arguments of "space issues" and lackluster support from HR and push this into being. I hope that the sort of weird marginal utility of the room for other things means that it will continue to exist as long as it is needed.

Also on the job front, I encountered no end of trouble taking the remainder of my leave as "intermittent leave" and I'm really glad I don't have to deal with this any more. First, all questions about part-time leave were sort of met with denial until just as I was returning, when the Liberty Mutual rep asked if I was back full-time or using intermittent leave. I said, "I can do that?" Yes, in theory, yes. In practice, it's been a mess. I was told I had 3 days of FTD remaining, plus 4 weeks of CFRA. The first pay period, everything got screwed up, even though I did exactly as I was told. Several emails went around, and at the end of the next pay period, I asked for a conference call with the folks in Benefits and the Liberty Mutual rep. I got a new layout on how to enter things and they said they'd correct the stuff from the prior period. Then a week later, I got an email that said it was entered wrong. Sigh. At this point,  there were two more days I needed to take an hour or two before Erik was done for summer. Another round of 15 emails, and the net result is that I just give up and I'm finding a way to put in a full 40 hours for these two weeks because I'm sick of trying to take intermittent leave. Suffice to say, Stanford has not made the whole maternity leave and return to work process very smooth at all.

This weekend, we're headed to the Fezziwig's Cast Party. I missed the last cast party because I was giving birth. Yes, literally during the party. Everyone at the party was waiting to hear that we had our baby girl, and one of the first text messages I got after the birth was a photo of the cast giving us a toast.

It's hard to believe how much she's grown in the last five months. She's almost exactly twice her birth weight now. Also, she has developed the best giggles this month.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Closing Tabs

As long as I'm at it, I may as well post the one article that keeps being open on my browser, not really finding the appropriate place to post it, but just feeling in my gut that it's important to share.

See, there's this thing where I really feel like my generation is getting short shrift. There isn't the public investment in things like there was in the past. There are no great bridge or highway projects. Our schools are aging and worn, but no one is stepping up to say, "Yes, let's invest in that. I believe education is important." Instead it's attacks on teachers from every angle imaginable. And folks in my generation just can't seem to get ahead. The whole get a good education, get a career, and you should be able to afford basically what folks the generation before had doesn't seem to work. Turns out, the gut feeling is borne out by the research. For the generation behind mine, it looks even more grim. So what are we to do? How do we get Americans to invest in America and bring back the American Dream?

Parent Info

As a sort of companion to the science news, there's the interesting parenting articles.

Take for example, you can be more likely to raise a kid to be financially responsible if you talk about financial matters with the child. Astonishingly simple, right? Yet a lot of families don't discuss it.

A friend passed a link to a great local web site for Stroller Hikes - places you can reasonably take a stroller out in the great outdoors, or where you can load the baby up in a carrier if you're feeling a little more ambitious.

Out of the firestorm of the Time article came one pretty nice blog post about "Am I Mom Enough?" I like her list of things she'd like to raise a kid to do/be/know.

Science News!

Alan Alda rocks my socks. While I really wish they'd bring back Scientific American Frontiers on tv, his Center for Communicating Science is doing heroic work. They announced the winner of The Flame Challenge this week - explain what's happening in a flame in a way that an 11 year old could understand. The winning video is kind of awesome and even has a song.

Today I'm missing the caffeine in my coffee. 32 and a half weeks from now, I'm not going to feel bad about adding it back to my diet as it is very likely good for me. The latest research links it to avoiding Alzheimer's, even if you're showing early symptoms.

I've been reading a bunch of things loosely related to thinking about thinking. First, thinking analytically can cause you to lose your faith in religion. (I'd make some quip about this being the Religious Right's big plan to defund education, push creationism in school, and destroy the separation of church and state, but I'm pretty sure they haven't actually analyzed it that closely.)  Also, Dan Ariely points out that when we buy fake products, it makes us more likely to cheat at other things, and to perceive others as more likely lying and cheating. So are smart, well-educated people who know this stuff less susceptible to these things? Nope. Even if we know all about confirmation bias or anchoring bias, we're just as likely to fall for it as anyone else. Oh well.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Science News!

It's been way too long since there was a Science News post on my blog, so let's start there, shall we?

New research is showing that the old saw about "nipple confusion" is pretty much bunk. Giving a baby a pacifier when just born does not in fact impede breast feeding. Contrary to popular belief, it reduces the use of supplemental formula. (We'll just put that in the bucket of things I wish I'd known 5 months ago...) This isn't to say that there aren't a lot of things that get in the way of breastfeeding. In fact, two-thirds of new mothers have trouble with breastfeeding. There's also a strong mythology that anyone can produce enough milk, but as someone who has tried EVERYTHING (oatmeal, fenugreek, other herbal supplements, breastfeeding on demand all day, offering both breasts at every feeding, pumping frequently, pumping before feeding, pumping after feeding), I'm here to say it ain't so. Athena's refusal to nurse when tired and finding time in my workday between meetings are my current special challenges.

Meanwhile, there's an interesting post in Freakonomics Radio about the value of being a locavore. Turns out, it's not all that. The better thing to do is give up beef and lamb if you want to have a serious impact on the environment. The good news is that a little corporate pressure goes a long way to improving our food supply. For instance, restaurants like Chipotle are seriously impacting the way that that food is raised, and consumers are actually willing to pay for it.

There's nothing like taking up commuting again to make me long for the introduction of the self-driving car. Some folks say they wouldn't trust a computer to drive for them, but my primary takeaway from commuting is how can we allow these crazy selfish bastards drive on the road with all of us? A technology that may improve things sooner is adaptive cruise control. Looks like this is my next target for my next new car - it must be hybrid or partial electric and must have adaptive cruise control. Luckily, my Prius has several years left so hopefully technology will catch up in time.

In news that isn't science other than it is Robert Krulwich and he and Jad Abumrad are my favorite science news junkies/storytellers ever, there's this truly awesome commencement address from him at the College of the Atlantic that everyone should read.