Saturday, September 23, 2006

With The Stress, Some Happiness Has Arrived

Our closest friends, K&G, had their baby girl Thursday evening around 7 PM. Her name is Jameson Claire and she's absolutely beautiful. She weighs 5 lbs 14 oz and she's 20 inches long. Her weight is a little small because the doctor's wanted to take her early as she was measuring small on ultrasounds. I think she just needs to fill out now. She's definately long enough. I visited them at the hospital yesterday during my lunch time and she is gorgeous. She's got dark brown hair that we wonder if it will fall out and come in red or continue dark brown like her daddy (before he started shaving his head, LOL!). I didn't see her with open eyes, but she slept so sweetly with little rosebud lips and tiny eyelashes and eyebrows and a button nose. Can you tell I'm in smitten already?

Phoebe's been doing better. She had one incident on Thursday which caused her to lose TV and friend privs for another week. But I can tell this is working because Friday when she got mad at one girl, she hit a squishy toy alligator. Her teacher told her that she shouldn't hit at all, but I'm more pleased that she's learning to control herself. I found out a bit what the problem is. At her old school she never had to play with anyone she didn't like. At this morning program before Kindergarten, there are a few girls she doesn't like, "Because they giggle too much." or the other one I hear about a lot, "She says she has lots of money and drives in a limo and has a roller coaster in her backyard. She lies all the time and I don't like it." I got all of this out of her last night as we had our girls night upstairs watching movies (small reprieve from being grounded), eating pizza and chips, and chatting. Oh and she lost her 6th tooth Thursday night. It's the other top front one. So by now, she's lost all four bottom front ones and both of the two top front ones. Her adult teeth for all of these are quickly coming in.

Tom's brother had surgery yesterday. Apparently his pelvis is not broken but shattered. He needed surgery to fix that and something for his arm too. I need to call my in-laws and see how he's doing as Tom's at school, and I'm sure he's getting his updates there.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Day From Hell (Spread All Around)

Where to start... we'll start with my poor brother-in-law who was in a car accident this morning. A 17-year-old driver ran through a stop sign and into the driver's side door of the car my BIL was driving for work. It's also a very small car he was driving. They had to cut him out of the car. He has a broken pelvis and his left arm is broken in two places. He's supposed to have surgery for the arm, but he's now on his way to the third hospital in order to have this surgery. The first was a local, rural hospital, had to transfer him to larger hospital for surgery. Found out at the second hospital that the only surgeon is on vacation and he has to go several hours away to another bigger hospital. Did I mention he lives in the middle of nowhere in Wisconsin? I know I sound like such an East Coast girl. I am. Poor guy. He's going to be on a rough road to recovery. It'll probably take months.

Then I'm on my way home from work. Tom was working at home and left to pick up Phoebe from school for me. I'm almost home and my cell phone rings. It's the security system company. They said our smoke detector on the second floor is in an alarm status and they've dispatched the fire company. I told them I was five minutes from home and would be there soon. I said a few Hail Marys (We should go into another time how saying Hail Marys reminds me of Dune "Fear is the mind killer...I will let my fear pass around me and over me" Yup, I'm not wound up too tight.) As I'm driving and muttering prayers, I'm smelling smoke. Well someone must've been burning leaves to scare me because as I pull up to the house it looks fine. Someone in a truck is there and says he's with the fire department. We go in the house and everything is fine. We check every room and every floor. All fine. Then the fire truck shows up. Eight volunteer firemen all dressed up and no fire to put out. It's a shame Phoebe missed it. I thanked them all and told them I was glad we didn't need them today. Got on the phone with the security system people and they finally explained to my husband that maybe there is some dust in the smoke detector and to blow some cool air from a hair dryer into it and reset everything. If it goes off again a technician can come out on Monday.

Last but not least... Phoebe is continuing to have hitting issues with her classmates at the YMCA morning program before Kindergarten. I don't know if she's having any issues in Kindergarten itself. No notes sent home so far. We'll see what happens on normal PT conferences. According to the morning teacher, her issue is when others don't want to do things her way. She's hitting someone at least once a day, if not more. AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! Anyway, she's been skating on thin ice with us for the past week or so. The attitude has gotten unbearable. Well we cracked down today. She hit someone at the Y again this morning. She's officially grounded. No TV, no playing with friends for the rest of the week. No TV in the morning, when she comes home from school, she's to do her homework, help with dinner, get ready for bed and that's it. We also had a long discussion about if you hit as a grownup you go to jail. And also how they have prisons for kids called juvenile detention centers and we don't want her to end up there. She cried a lot even before we talked to her and grounded her, as we sent her to her room when she came home from school, so DH and I could discuss how to handle. I also talked to her some more while I was making dinner. She has a habit of saying she wishes she was three years old again. She asked me during this conversation if I knew why she wanted to be three. Then she said cause when she was three she didn't get in trouble. These two other boys did. They were always hitting and they were bullies. I explained to her how she was now being the bully. I don't think she saw it in that light before. When putting her to bed tonight I had her take two deep breaths and count to ten. I told her the next time she got angry at someone at school I wanted her to take these deep breaths and count to ten in order to calm herself down. Please, please, please, I hope this works!

Oh and after we finished dinner I made a comment, "I could use a drink!" Then I realized little ears were listening and I don't want her to think alcohol is a way to cure your troubles, so I said I was just joking I didn't mean that. Phoebe handed me my water bottle and said, "Here, Mommy. You have a drink already!"

Science and the Gender Gap

The name of this post is taken directly from this article I read today, and I'm very excited to see that the issue of women in science and engineering studies being treated differently from their male counterparts. I'm especially excited for Phoebe. Yesterday in the car we were listening to NPR and they were talking about the development of new computer chips to make them run faster. They were talking about the difference of wires vs. optical. A light when on in her head, "If computers can go faster, you can get your work done faster and then I can play my games when you're done!" We started talking about if she would like to be part of building faster computers. She liked that idea immensely. We talked about how she would need to study math and science a lot, and that's what Mommy and Daddy went to school for (we both have a B.S. in Electrical Engineering). It was exciting because very often she doesn't seem to show an interest in being anything when she grows up. I think it's just because she hasn't found what she likes yet.

Anyway, about the article. Being a woman in electrical engineering was tough. It was probably tougher for me than most of the men, because I had to study twice as hard as them to be taken seriously. There were more women in engineering back in the early 90s when I was at university, but there were women-centric engineering fields. Most of them were chemical and architectural. Electrical and mechanical were still very male-dominated and it made it tough. I very often would have TAs try to dumb things down for me when I asked a question. Then I'd have to explain to them that my question was more complex than what they really answered. I got pissed off a lot and a few times explained in no uncertain terms that my tuition was paying their salary and they better answer my questions or else.

Some of my other favorite stories are when I worked in one of the graduate labs (lightwaves/microwaves) as a research assistant. I quickly developed respect and surprise at how easily working with tools came to me. I used to build all kinds of neat things for these guys and they were astounded and appreciative. It was funny. I mean what do you expect? My father's a car mechanic! I've been around screwdrivers and wrenches all my life! And I really love building things. I had one of the professors I worked with for Fields I and II and that was tough! He expected a lot from me because he knew I was smart. I had to read all the assignments ahead of time, because he would always call on me in class to answer questions during lecture.

This article talks more about women in teaching positions in science and engineering and how to ensure there is equality there. I think that will help a lot as well. If there are more female TAs in grad school and more female professors, I think that will help in the fairness of the treatment of female undergrads which will be very encouraging to them to continue their studies. My favorite professor that I think my brain latched onto as she was the only role model I could find, was the only female professor in the electrical engineering department. It was kind of a shame, as her interests were more biomedical and mine were more communications. I think I may have finished grad school if I had more encouragement into my field of choice. Not sure, who knows. Maybe Phoebe will not have to think that thought someday.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Tag I'm It!

My friend Kelli has tagged me, so even though I haven't posted much lately, I need to do my part. I'll respond to the words, but I'm not sure who to tag.

1. autumn - Best time of the year. My wedding anniversary and Phoebe's birthday are both in October, prime autumn season.

2. hand - My mother's hands. Mine look a lot like hers do. I wonder if Phoebe's will be the same. It would be nice as I do get some comfort in looking at them.

3. dream - I have lots of them. Not at night though. I post about my wierd dreams at night. But decorating the new house. Having my family around me. I want to study yoga with Joan White in Philly when Tom's done school next spring.

4. avoid - procrastinate. I do that sometimes. I force myself not to on a regular basis.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Feminist Motherhood

Great post yesterday from Motherhood Uncensored! Kudos to her for having a phone conversation with THE Gloria Steinem! They had an interesting conversation on men being more involved in child rearing, and it's prompting me to write on the topic. For those of you that read this that are about to have babies, pay attention....

My husband is a very involved father. He doesn't do everything exactly the way I would, but does anyone ever? I knew right from the get-go to let him take care of Phoebe in his own way when I'm not doing it. I have to say, we split raising her 50/50. I can't say that about house work, but he does his share. I just prefer things cleaner, more often than he does, so when I clean it's for me more than anyone else and I know that. When Phoebe was a baby, I never said he was "babysitting" when I went to the hairdressers. Babysitting is when it's not really your child. People would ask and I'd say, "She's with her father." When I would come home the house would usually be a mess, especially when she was a toddler, as they wouldn't always clean up after themselves immediately, but who cares. They were having fun.

Fast forward to today. Phoebe started Kindergarten the week before Labor Day. The whole first week, Tom did drop off and pick up from school. He made her lunch everyday. I'll be honest, I made her lunch for the first time last night and I had to ask him to make sure I was doing it right! He checks her homework and what papers need to be sent back to the teacher and such. He's a right awesome Dad!

Granted, some weeks or months even may not seem 50/50. He may have work or school commitments taking up his time and I pick up the slack, or like the first week she was in school, he had to pick up the slack for me.

It's funny to read about that conversation with Gloria Steinem. I always knew I was a feminist, and my motherhood style proves it!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

First Day of Homework

Today it hit me. I have a school-age child. No more preschooler is she.

We're trying a new schedule these days. Tom's taking Phoebe to the YMCA morning program, and I'm trying to leave work early to pick her up from her after-school program. I picked her up today and I'm watching her while we're walking to the car. Here is this almost 4-foot tall girl walking next to me with a backpack and lunch bag. Wait a minute this girl is mine! She looks so sure of herself, so old. All last week I didn't get to witness this by myself, so I don't think I had time to register it. Too many things were going on in my mind last week.

She had her first homework assignment tonight, and I'm very pleased with how I handled it. She said she did her homework during the afterschool program time. I cleaned out her bag as soon as we got in the house and we found her homework. I wasn't really pleased with what she did, but I held my tongue.

The assignment was to draw a picture of your family, including pets, on the sheet given with the instructions and have your parents write everyone's name in the picture when complete so they can use it in the future for their writing assignments. Phoebe had drew all of us with just one crayon color and it was kind of messy. She told me first that she didn't like it. I asked why and she said she drew Daddy smaller than me. I told her she could redo it while I was making dinner. Since she needed to use the instruction sheet, I taped white paper over where she drew already and put it in the copier/printer and gave her the fresh assignment sheet I made. The next one she did still wasn't that great ... we all had yellow hair. BTW, as I know most parents can, I know what my daughter is capable of and that's why I say it was not that great.

You have to understand. Phoebe is a very good artist and her attention to detail in her drawings is amazing. I knew she was rushing through the assignment. Every year, she draws a family portrait for me and I hang it up at work. Every year's drawing is more amazing than the next. But even when she was little, she always used appropriate colors for our hair: Phoebe - brown, Tom - black and me - yellow.

I made a comment to Phoebe that we all had yellow hair and she noticed that her Daddy's hair was too long too. I asked her if she wanted to try again. She did, so I made another clean assignment sheet in the copier. Before I gave her this one. I told her not to be in such a hurry to finish, to have fun, and draw us the way she sees us. The last one was fantastic.

I'm really glad with how we both handled this first assignment. I didn't criticize but coached. I was trying to avoid the p word - perfect. She has a tendancy to want everything to be perfec and I'm trying to counteract that. The last picture was the work I knew she was capable of. This time, she drew specific clothes on us, in different colors and lots of detail, we all had the right color hair, and to make her happy also, we were all the right height in the picture.

Wow! My baby is definitely no longer my baby, and we did homework!