Thursday, April 24, 2008

Vacation

We are headed off on a vacation TOMORROW! You can probably tell that I’m excited, because normally I NEVER YELL IN ALL CAPS LIKE THIS!!!

We’re headed off to an all-inclusives resort in the Caribbean, the bean-girls in tow. Yup, me, Husband, preschooler, and infant. Beaches resort is Sesame Street-themed, so the older Bean-girl can bake cookies with Cookie Monster, dance with Zoe, and have breakfast with the Sesame Street gang. Luckily, she only just started taking an interest in Sesame Street over the past few weeks. (Before the age of three, I think the story lines may be a bit too complex). She even seems to be taking an interest in the letters and numbers interludes on the show. Who says that television doesn’t teach kids anything? (I distinctly remember learning my numbers from Sesame Street, myself).

So I should be joining my husband right now in the packing, but I obviously am not. We need this vacation like anything. I’ve been dreaming of blue waters, frothy colorful drinks, and my children splashing and giggling together in the pool. And a pedicure. Oh, yes, a pedicure.

I’ll be back next week. Hopefully with pictures.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Baby Legume--10 and a half months

Baby Legume is learning so many new things now, practicing and perfecting so many new skills. And I think—was it this way before? Was it this way with the Bean-girl, and I’ve simply forgotten? We tell ourselves we won’t forget, but we do. My baby is growing so fast, I can hardly keep up.

From pulling herself up to standing, she is now cruising and standing with only one hand on a surface for support. She is even letting go and temporarily—very temporarily! just a second or two—standing all on her own, before folding to the ground. And just today I noticed that she seems to have learned how to get down all on her own from a standing position; she’s no longer stranded holding onto a table, but can let go and sit down with a little thump.

Just last week, for her Aunt R’s visit, Baby Legume learned to tentatively crawl up the stairs. Now we can’t keep her away from the staircase. She crawls all the way up to the top on her own, with ease (and a nervous parent following behind). She is very nearly crawling up into her sister’s toddler bed. My mother called today to tell me that she had dreamed that the Legume was walking. She isn’t yet—but I think that in a month or so she will.

Her vocalizations are great fun. Lately she’s been screeching and babbling rather loudly. Bean-girl in particular has great fun with this.

At dinner the other night:

Legume on her high chair (chants): Wa Wa Wa Wa Wa
Bean-girl laughs: Baby Legume is singing a short baby song!
Legume: Wa Wa Wa Wa Wa
Bean-girl: You made a good song, Baby Legume!

Bean-girl also enjoys “interpreting” Legume’s words for us. Yesterday the two girls and I had the following conversation as I drove Bean-girl home from preschool:

Legume: Ma ma ma ba wa wa ba ma
Bean-girl: Baby Legume is telling me about her day. She is talking about how she had fun staying at home with mommy. She had fun playing outside with mommy. Except that she didn’t actually go outside.
Me: You're right, Bean-girl. We didn’t actually go outside today.
Bean-girl: She was just kidding!

Bean-girl is quite fond of “kidding”, and apparently Legume now is, too.

I’ve often felt guilty over not giving Legume the attention that her elder sister had. Although I have stayed home this time with Baby Legume, and went back to work with her sister, my one-on-one time with Legume is dwarfed by the attention that Bean-girl received, and continues to receive. When I had the Bean-girl I was a nervous mother who bought into the idea that my baby needed to be constantly stimulated, talked to, read to. I was constantly in the Bean-girl’s face. We sang and danced to pass away the dull winter months. She was constantly held. Baby Legume is not. But Husband and I have also realized that Baby Legume is a different person, and she doesn’t want to be held so much. She likes to explore on her own, checking every now and then to know that mom is still in sight, and then returning to her play. She doesn’t really have the patience to look through books (unlike her sister at this age). At first I fretted that my relative neglect of Legume was tantamount to the neglect of children in a Soviet-era Romanian orphanage. But Baby Legume doesn’t seem to have attachment disorder. And she seems, in fact, to be hitting all her milestones right on time—standing, babbling, eating, growing. She seems to be growing just fine.

And one thing she has that Bean-girl never had as an infant—a sister. An older sister who adores her, and cares for her, and plays with her. I hope that makes up for the scraps of attention that she must share. I know that she was born into a richer environment, thanks to the presence of her big sister. She has one more caretaker (albeit one that must herself be supervised!)
Time is in short supply with two little girls. It always is. Time is running faster than I can believe. Baby Legume is not slowing down, and I barely have the time to stop and look, to watch and try to remember her here in this space, as she now is.

Friday, April 11, 2008

First tooth!

Baby Legume is cutting her first tooth!

Finally, at 10 months and 2 weeks. Husband pointed it out to me before dinner tonight. I haven’t yet actually seen this tooth; every time I tried peering in her mouth, she stuck out her tongue like a panting little dog, occluding the view. But I ran my finger along her gums, and I could feel it: a sharp little square just starting to poke out, right in the middle of her bottom gum.

Even without teeth, she’s been eating everything in sight. Rice, pasta, chicken, chow mein, cheese of all kinds, potstickers, snow crab legs (Yes! The crab was fed to her by Grandpa at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. I know babies under one year aren’t supposed to eat shellfish, but you can’t really do anything about Asian grandparents. They just do as they please, and Husband and I just shrug and throw up our hands). The insatiable Baby Legume can even take on an entire crust of pizza, gumming it and wearing it down with the starch-dissolving powers of her saliva.

Just think what she can now with this first tooth.

Monday, April 7, 2008

A year ago



A year ago, we moved to this city during an April snowstorm. We unpacked our boxes in an empty house. Sheets of packing paper and the other detritus of moving filled the rooms.


Bean-girl, April 2007

We had only one child: the Bean-girl, aged two and a half. Our second child still waited in my womb, an unknown entity.


As we left our old city, my husband and I left long-held identities in academic science. My M.D./Ph.D.-holding husband made the decision to give up his lab (which he had headed for less than year) for the greener pastures of full-time clinical practice. And after being laid off from my former postdoc, and facing the bitter realization that after five years of postdocing my publication record was insufficient for the research job I had once dreamed of . . . I made the decision to step out. To have another baby. To focus on family, and re-evaluate my career goals.

Two weeks after we unpacked, the temperamental Midwestern sun decided to bring about summer from winter. The temperature soared, and we hit one of local lakeside beaches.





From the beginning, we have loved our new town. It is the most family-friendly place I have ever seen. The local mall, and many local businesses, set aside parking spots specifically for pregnant women and families with young children. Even the upscale restaurants have crayons and toys on hand for young diners. We don’t have to worry about a lack of changing tables in business restrooms.

My husband’s colleagues have become his good friends. He enjoys clinical practice, and finds that he doesn’t really miss research at all. I joined a local mothers’ group, and found a group of very smart, diverse, interesting, and supportive women. It’s been nice, and eye-opening, to step out of the bubble world of academia for a bit (although incidentally, a number of the moms in my group are married to academic men).

Baby Legume was born in June. Both of our children have thrived here.

There is much natural beauty in this geographical corner of the world (see picture of beach above). And although most coastal urbanites sneer at this part of flyover country, there are enough urbane pleasures to keep my husband and I happy. (decent sushi? I’m pretty much set).
Best of all, we are only an hour and a half away from my parents. The Bean Girls see their grandparents at least once a month, and usually more.

After the gypsy life of academic scientists-in-training, it’s nice to have an expectation of permanence. We mean to raise our children here, to watch them grow up in this house and graduate from the local schools. We mean to gain gray hairs here, and make friends that last longer than five or six years.

A while back, CAE wrote about what it’s like to always be watching friends leave, or to be the one leaving. I think this is part of why I never felt quite at home in old College Town, the place where Husband and I did our postdocs. We set foot in that town with the other foot already out the door. We knew from the beginning that it was likely only a temporary stop. And while we made great friends in our labs and workplace, College Town was (or is, or should be) a mere layover for most of them as well.

It’s nice to feel that we can put down roots now. It’s nice to start feeling at home.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Impressions

Impressions from this weekend: spring sunlight shining through bare trees, wind blowing through my childrens’ hair, Bean-girl running happily on sand. Grandparents, sister, and a great-aunt all visiting. Conversation flying in all directions, every which way, leading my husband to comment that my family is very “tiring.” It’s quite true. A number of Google searches for various random questions proposed by family members. Baby Legume eats everything in sight with her strong baby gums. Bean-girl eats nothing at all. Legume is celebrated for her eating feats by the grandparents; Bean-girl is despaired of. Baby Legume is cruising and crawling very fast. Unstoppable baby.
And I am very tired, and going to bed!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

6-word meme

Mad Hatter tagged me for the 6-word meme! These are the rules:

Write your own six word memoir.
Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.
Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere.
Tag five more blogs with links.
And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

Summing up my life in six words? Or the title of my as yet unwritten memoir in six words? Either way, this one’s harder than the weekly haiku challenge Sciencemama and I used to have (which has apparently fallen by the wayside for us both).

I like CAE’s approach of breaking this down into the various areas of one's life.

My career:

Science Ph.D: Now what the heck?

Family:

(At the risk of sounding both cliched and corny)
I am blessed. I am blessed.

Summing up my life right now:

Lucky gal—trying to remember it.

Making it up as I go.

Summing up my thoughts at this very instant:
My kids are napping—pure bliss.

It seems most people I know have already been tagged for this. . . but if you haven't, consider yourself tagged!