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Monday, April 28, 2014

27 Months

Yeah, so we kind of skipped 26 months there. Sorry about that y'all. I'll do my best to get it all in here, but suffice to say, things have been more than usually busy and stressful, and I felt like things were in such a state of flux that I never felt like writing it down. Look - a cute picture of Athena!
Some days, the cute makes it nigh impossible to get to work.
But, this past week, the biggest change to come to my life in a long time, short of having a child, has arrived. I am going to be changing jobs on May 27th and leaving Stanford. On February 13th, Stanford announced a reorganization. This moved all of the projects I was working on from IT Services to Administrative Systems. All of the technical staff working on those projects also moved. The support services staff stayed behind like some sort of bizarre computing Rapture. There was a big math problem for me there. If I was paid by projects, and my project dollars left and went to an organization that previously laid me off with the expressed perspective that client support was not their responsibility, then how exactly was I going to continue to have a job going forward? Hrm...

So, I contacted some friends about working for their companies and applied for a few jobs within Stanford. Tesla got my resume and called me the next day and scheduled a phone interview immediately following the holiday weekend. The gig sounded interesting so away we went. We started through a series of interviews. I figured that in the interim, I'd find out if I was getting laid off or not and how my job was going to change.

Fast forward through 2 months of anxiety, clandestine job interviews, and upheaval at work. I'm still not sure whether or not I would've gotten laid off at Stanford. I don't think so. Jim did some heroic work to position our group to support the three central IT organizations at Stanford - ITS, AS, and ISO. I think he may have made it work, but it's still not settled, which is a problem, because I had a job offer with a clear path forward, and no clue how things were going to work at Stanford after the dust settled.

So, off I go to the first totally new job in 13 years! I'll be tackling turning a wiki of service solutions into a professional product that can be used by Tesla service technicians around the world. It sounds like a great puzzle to solve - finding duplicates, filling in gaps, and professionalizing the language and presentation. It's going to be a big adventure!

Meanwhile, in the further adventures of life with a 2 year old, we've got one heck of a stinkin' cute kid. Her very latest thing is singing the song "Slippery Fish." Here's an example of the song.

Last week, this led to a moment of silliness where she was asking Erik for a video, and Erik texted me at dinner with friends asking what she was on about. I had no idea. Something about a great white shark. No clue. But two of the women there with me had 3 year olds, so I asked the collective and blammo, Slippery Fish. Sure enough, that was the thing. They proceeded to do all the gestures. Then they explained that in their home versions, Cthulu and a kraken also get involved. Do you ever have one of those moments where you realize you know all the right people? Yeah. Of course, when I tried that on Athena, she informed me that that is not how it goes. When I persisted, she covered my mouth with her hand.

Athena learned this song at school, where I suspect she hears a lot of songs. She also became an enormous fan of "Let it Go" unbeknownst to me until one morning when we're listening to an interview of the couple who got the Oscar for the music. They played a clip of the song, and she immediately said, "It's Elsa's song!" And then I knew about that. I downloaded the song to my "Athena's Favorites" playlist and there have been many days of singing "Let it Go!" repeatedly at the top of our lungs on the way to school.

We had an exciting moment last week where we got a notification of a Code Blue lockdown at her school. The director didn't have much more information, but when one of the other local schools decided to evacuate, they let us know that EH was in voluntary evacuation as well. Meanwhile they were keeping the kids locked safely indoors. I decided that I was going to get there to pick up Athena early. I arrived and Athena said, "Oh, it's Mommy! Mommy, it's circle time! Come sit." She was not giving up her time with the books. This is a girl after my heart. We sat through one story and I thought maybe we'd get moving after that, but they pulled out the next book and she said, "Oh, I like this story. One more?" I said okay. Five stories later, most of the kids were starting to get bored and wander off. Athena was still rapt, but they said, "Okay, story time is over." I thanked her teachers for letting us stay and shuffled her out the door. This also managed to explain one of the greatest mysteries I'd had around the house. At bedtime, in her darkened bedroom, Athena had turned to me and said, "The wolf is coming." What I didn't realize, and couldn't figure out, was that this was not some strange subliminal Dr. Who reference, but was the name of a story at school. Gotta say, late at night, it's darned creepy when your kid says that to you with deepest sincerity. (We've got a used copy on order via Amazon.)

So you're getting the idea that Athena loves books, right? Here's her doing her rendition of "The Pigeon Has Feelings Too."
I think this was the third time that night. Her favorite right now is Dragons Love Tacos. She's almost got it all memorized too.

She also loves music. She sung us her words for the French song "Alouette" this month. It goes, "All wet-ah, jumping in the water. All wet-ah, gonna swim and play." That works! One of her favorites on YouTube is the series from SuperSimpleSongs that involve the owl and the star. She started with Twinkle Twinkle, which promo'd Little Snowflake, and finally led us to hunt for more. The "bear song" is her favorite now and I realized this was going to be a thing really fast, so I memorized it one afternoon so that I could sing it for her at bedtime. This also led to a new tradition. In the video, the mama bear remembers their day together. Now we sing the song, then talk about all the things that happened today, then sing the song again before drifting off to sleep. It's kind of a magical way to close the day.

In other "my kid is so awesome" news, Athena is crazy polite. We were in the car and I sneezed and she said, "Bless you mommy!" And I said, "Thank you Athena." And she replied, "You're welcome." I swear she gets this from school. I love Early Horizons.

Also, she likes to floss.
I have got find a way to get this to my hygienist.
 March is of course home to my second-favorite annual holiday (after Halloween): St. Patrick's Day. Oh yes, the one day of the year when the rest of the world gives a care about Irish dance. On Friday at work, Stanford Ceili did a demo for the Staffers party and I dragged coworkers into the act. On Saturday night, we went to the Stanford Ceili on campus with Athena.
Leaning out is fun!
She wanted nothing to do with mommy and daddy dancing together, but was more okay with us dancing with her. On Monday, I snuck away to Sam and Monica's Parlor Ceili and danced like a maniac. It was awesome, sweaty, joyful, and just what I needed. It felt like home.

Because we are unable to control ourselves, we also went to Disneyland last month. Athena got to meet Mickey Mouse at his house and fell in love with the carousel.

Family at Disneyland
She asked for a hug.
Carousel joy!

I spent two hours with her Saturday morning on the carousel at DCA, getting off, running around to get back in line, then getting on again. Meanwhile, Erik got to go on California Screamin' as much as he wanted. This had the somewhat unexpected effect of teaching her about waiting in line and taking turns. The third morning, we went to Dumbo and she said, "I have to wait my turn." I concurred. Then she said, "I want a purple elephant." And so she got it, after waiting her turn.
First time on Dumbo.

Flying Dumbo
On Saturday, after we left the carousel and she promptly passed out in her stroller. We sent half the group onto Soarin' Over California and retired to the Carthay Circle Lounge for cocktails.
Heck yeah!
Yes, we could wheel the stroller right in. A double pear martini and a Manhattan and one sleeping toddler in a swank bar makes for two very happy parents. Athena also loved playing in ToonTown. I sent Erik and the crew to hit some rides and hung out with her in Goofy's Garden. The first two times she climbed up the boxes, she asked for help. Then she did it again herself. And again. And again. And again. For an hour.

Another unexpectedly fun time is with her in line for the Jungle Cruise. The line moves really fast since each boat holds 30 folks. We put her at the front of the group and let her play, then catch us up, then play, then catch us up. It was 30 minutes of jumping, giggling, running, happy toddler with a ton of bemused looks from those around us, and a lot of "She's so cute!" comments.

Also, we learned that she knows how to say, "Cheese!" when someone is taking a photo of you. Erik caught me reacting to that revelation:
Before she yelled, "Cheese!"

After "Cheese!"
 She had a really nice time all in all. It was a little tough sharing a room with 6 adults and 2 kids, so we won't opt for that again, but we did opt to convert to an annual pass. Also, Athena got red mouse ears with her name embroidered on the back. Wearing that with a red Minnie Mouse dress at Disneyland makes all the other folks around you melt.

Here are a few more Disney moments.

Spinning the marble with Daddy.

Also, our little bug is a brave little trouper. She had a splinter in her finger and we stopped into first aid to get it out. She let me hold her hand while Erik poked and pulled. At one point, she pulled her hand away and Erik said, "Do you need a break?" She said, "Yeah." Then waited less than a minute and gave him her hand back. We were amazed. No screaming. No tears. Just a princess band-aid at the end which she wore very proudly.

Don't get me wrong, she's still a toddler, full of tantrum on occasion. On Saturday at lunch time she ended up up under the table having it out. I waited til she was done and then asked if she wanted any more chicken. I'd walked past another mom standing next to her toddler thrashing on the ground near Grizzly Rapids. I said, "Two?" She said, "Yep." And I said, "Yep, mine did that yesterday." Thing is, you can try to get them to stop, and it really just prolongs the whole drama. If you just wait it out, it last ten minutes and it totally blows over. Just let the storm rage, and before long, she'll figure out it's not getting her anything.

We also started working on potty training. I had the somewhat genius idea that if Clementine and Athena had a weekend of it together, maybe they'd peer-pressure each other. Well that worked! But damn, potty training is a mystery. Athena had all the mechanics, but it wasn't until I showed her that I was "making water" that she ever peed in the potty. That little detail had thoroughly escaped her. After two days, we felt like it was good enough and reliable enough to send her to school. But 3 days of undies at school, and 2 wet/poopy pairs a day, and we backed off a bit. She'd never successfully pooped in the potty. That bit still escaped her. And frankly, it happens infrequently enough that it's hard to train on. It's not like liquids where if I want her to practice more, I just offer her milk. Nope. She's got to figure this one all on her own. I mean, my showing her that part has not necessarily improved success. Instead, she seems to be pooping less often. So, we backed up to pull-ups. She gets them down in time to pee most of the time when she's with us, and about 50% of the time at school where it's awfully distracting. She has now pooped in the potty once and we made an enormous fanfare about that, including TWO Hershey's kisses. Since we knew she liked them, we made that her potty reward, as stickers are often still offensive rather than pleasing. (They're sticky.) Clementine was standardized on M&Ms, so Kisses worked. The pleasure she takes in peeling a Hershey's Kiss is something I hope she retains for many years. It is the most deliberate, intensive work I've ever seen someone do for a bite of chocolate. This whole experience has also solidified the word "chocolate" in her vocabulary. 

Lunch break!

Timer goes off and two girls race to the potties!
Okay, so we've also been watching Cosmos. It's been a joy to watch with Athena. I know she's not getting half of it, but she loves watching it, and if even just a tiny bit is seeping in, I'll call it a win. Last night we were watching it with Christyn and Brian, and they joked, "Lovely to spend time in church with you." It is though, very much like church, where we bask in the wonder and mystery of science, learning about the light spectrum and black holes and tardigrades and evolution and the five great extinctions.
Watching Cosmos
Not all TV is bad.
For Easter, we got some ham, boiled some eggs, and had friends over for brunch. Kev and Rachel snuck into our yard the night before and left a trail of chocolate bunny footprints leading to a basket of goodies for Athena.


Athena was all over it, especially when she realized that the golden foil wrapped bunny was made of chocolate. We had a lovely brunch with egg-spinach-onion-ham scrambles with Irish cheddar and blueberry coffee cake, then headed out to the park where Athena met a little girl named Alia who really wanted to hang out and play. We made "cupcakes" out of sand and had a grand time.


We went to a reading of "William Shakespeare's Star Wars." Want to know how to entertain a bunch of lit geeks and sci-fi geeks? Yeah, that's a good start. Add yummy roast pork and smoked chicken, broccoli salad, and various tarts and pies and cakes and a lot of wine, and a rousingly good evening was had by all. Erik spent the evening as Han Solo to my Princess Leia. I think my favorite bit was the treatment of the added Jabba scene. Just genius.

I also taught two Continuing Studies classes at Stanford on Mastering iOS 7. This was such an unexpected joy. Instead of the usual crowd who turns up for my free presentations, I had a room full of professionals who were willing to pay a hefty fee to be there. They were so engaged and eager, it was utterly revitalizing. Luckily, I get to keep that as a side gig going forward as it takes just one Saturday per quarter. Also, Erik is talking to them about having an evening class on chemistry for non-scientists, mostly revolving around one of our favorite books, "The Disappearing Spoon." Stanford will be with me at least a little bit going forward.

Well, that brings us mostly up to date. As I'm about to lose all of my vacation time and sick leave, I've been thinking about what are the things I never make time for and should. One is a makeover, and it was offered on the Staffers list for free, so I scheduled it for noon last Friday, disappeared for an hour and came back prettier, having purchased a foundation that actually looks right on my skin. Yay!
All dolled up for work and an evening of toddler-wrangling.
Good night y'all.


  • Hi Ammy and Athena,
    We LOVED reading about your nighttime ritual after watching "The Bear Song" video (aka "Sweet Dreams (Goodnight Song)." What a wonderful way to end your day.
    Sending a big "Hello!" to Athena from all of her forest friends: the owl and star, the little snowman and his friend, and of course, mama and baby bear. :)

    Sara at Super Simple Learning

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:41 PM  

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