Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Newsflash from the start of the third trimester

The Goober has discovered my bladder. Also, her recent growth spurt has put my floating ribs within reach.

Her father is SO proud.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Because bullet points are easy...

The goober is now kicking hard enough to be visible. My belly shudders and shakes like you wouldn't believe.

She occasionally gets herself wedged into an awkward position. When that happens, it looks like my belly has corners.

She likes the Beatles. Or hates them. It's hard to tell.

I'm now 24 weeks pregnant, but most people seem surprised to hear that. Apparently, I don't look 5-1/2 months pregnant.

Baby clothes are so endearing. They're like big people clothes...except tiny.

Mmmmm...tiny baby feet.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Even the word "waddle" is inelegant.

I'm sitting on a whole mess of blog post ideas right now. But I'm dealing with some major job-market craziness right now (there's one of the blog posts!) so they will have to stew around in my brain for a few more days.

But I am definitely feeling more pregnant these days, so I thought that I would check in briefly with some modest revelations.

1) I'm getting bigger! I have a decided leading edge these days--my belly protrudes a good 2-3 inches further than it used to. I have decided to measure my belly's progress by the depth of my belly button, which is getting frighteningly shallow.

2) On a similar note, I've had a few belly-related incidents lately. I have bumped several restaurant patrons with it, and had at least one plate-tipping incident at a physics-department function.

3) That said, the extent to which my belly flies it's colors publicly depends heavily on what I'm wearing. I'm not nearly as big as the average 4-to-5-month-pregnant lady, and in an appropriate set of clothes, I barely look pregnant at all. I tried on my suit this afternoon (I have a preliminary interview tomorrow) and not only did it fit (barely), but with the jacket buttoned, I look remarkably like my pre-pregnancy self. At the same time, slap a t-shirt on me, and I'm definitely belly-tacular.

4) Despite being in the land of candy-pooping unicorns known as the second trimester, being pregnant still sucks. Among the many sucky elements are the following:
*I'm only allowed to sleep on my left side. I hate sleeping on only one side.
*A variety of pelvic pain from relaxin-related tendon stretching
*Severely limited diet coke consumption
*Leg cramps
*Hip cramps
*Foot cramps (detect a pattern?)
*Very little sleep, despite limited diet coke consumption
*An increasingly waddle-like gait
*Constant hunger

5) On the plus side, the constant hunger means that I have the green light to eat some things that would normally be off the menu--namely, red meat. I apparently let myself get a wee bit deficient in something, because I have been engaged in a week-long red meat binge. It started with an emergency late-night ground beef run. I knew that I was in trouble when I looked at that pile of emergency beef and had an overwhelming urge to eat the whole pound raw. Since then, Ross has made me steak twice and I've had at least one (usually two) meals a day containing red meat.

6) I feel much better now, thank you.

7) Waddling is a very inefficient method of locomotion. I have yet to determine who I complain to about this.

8) This would be much easier without narcolepsy. On the other hand, I've had some really epic freaky dreams, including one featuring zombie superman. It turns out that zombie superman is a real bastard.

9) Ross is wonderful. But you knew that already.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

20-1/2 weeks

Our perinatal exam was this morning.
Meet the Goober!

Note the cute little nose and the fist in the mouth

Everything is normal, and it has all of the parts one would expect from a good little Goober, including 10 little tasty toes:

Oh, and you wanted to know the sex? Well....

It's a Girl!

She's measuring a little big, given her due date. (Shocking, I know, given her parents)
She weighs 15 oz, which is about what most babies weigh at around 22 weeks.
Already an overachiever!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Morse code


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Things I have craved...

*Pot pie
*Hot dogs and baked beans
*Baked potato with cheese and bacon
*Vanilla yogurt
*Pot Pie
*Broccoli (I ate all of the stems from three heads in one sitting)
*Jello (raspberry, lime, or orange)
*Pickles (yes, I know)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Good news is, I float better than ever!

I went swimming for the first time in a week, and I was a wee bit out of breath while swimming free style (my worst stroke). It's almost as if someone was sitting on my lungs.

Not to point any fingers, but there's only one person with access to that particular organ at the moment.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Catch up

Sorry I haven't written much lately. Since I've moved into the unicorn-filled land of sunshine and light known as the Second Trimester, I'm not nauseous all day long, which means that I can go whole hours without thinking about the fact that I'm pregnant! This is a welcome change.

That's not to say that nothing's been happening. We had our second OB appointment, where we got to see the Goober in action again (no pictures--but they weren't as clear this time anyway). The ultrasound machine is pretty amazing. I was always soundly unimpressed by ultrasound images before, but it turns out that they are WAY more interesting in motion, primarily because they are much easier for the lay person to interpret. The baby waved at us, did a little kick-kick jig, and even gave us a full-on view of his/her little hand. Ross made the squeaky squeal he makes when he's really happy, which made me really happy too.

We also had our third OB appointment, which was much less eventful. I learned that I gained 3 pounds between 11 and 15 weeks, which is 3 pounds more that I thought I'd gained! We also got to listen to the baby's heartbeat with the doppler. That was pretty cool, but even cooler was that the baby kicked the wand, giving me auditory confirmation that I can, indeed, feel the baby kick.

Since that appointment, the little goober has been kicking up a storm! Wilco is apparently a favorite--we went to a concert for Ross's birthday last week, and the baby kicked through the whole thing. Since then, the kicking sessions have increased in frequency and power. There are two different kinds of motion--a squirming feeling, almost like worms wriggling around, which I interpret as a baby booty shake, and a solid tap, which is clearly either a kick or a punch. The level of activity in there is pretty amazing. I'm halfway convinced that I'm not gestating a baby, but rather a billy goat.

Ok--that's about all I can manage. I have to go eat something now, and then maybe I'll fall asleep.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

This pregnancy brought to you by the letter p...

Things this preggernanny likes:

pot pie

Friday, October 2, 2009

The amazing shifting woman...

I am outgrowing clothes at an alarming pace. First, I outgrew half of my bras.

A few weeks later, I outgrew the other half, along with all of my button-down shirts.

My normal pants stopped fitting last week, forcing me into some creative architecture (I've since replaced my slouchy jeans, which are my only pants that still fit)

Overall, I've changed shape a lot. I've gained a whole cup size. I'm significantly wider around the waist, and in the past few days, my belly has decided that it's about time to start exploring the outside world. My belly button is already becoming disturbingly shallow.

All of that would be perfectly normal, were it not for the following data, collected incredibly scientifically over a number of weeks :

Pre-pregnancy weight: 190
End-of-first-trimester weight (12 weeks): 185 Weight this morning (15 weeks): 185
(all weights taken on my home scale, at the same point in my morning routine):

Apparently, it's just moving around. Kind of creepy, when you think about it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Looking forward to no-pants Saturday...

Having busted a belt loop on my trusty slouchy jeans, I've been forced to move into other, more form-fitting pants. This required a bit of...architecture.

What is currently keeping my pants together:
1) a half-zipped zipper
2) a hair tie, looped through the button hole
3) a belt (strangely, on the same hole as always)
4) a belly band, covering the whole mess

Methinks I've earned a trip to the mall.

Monday, August 31, 2009

They tell me there will be unicorns.

I'm being productive! Like, I can actually produce valuable work on a time scale shorter than your typical ice age! Incredible!

This is especially astounding, considering the crazy day I've had. I had expected to lose my morning to a training session, and was surprised by an additional 4 hour afternoon session. For those who are counting, that's 3 + 4 = no nap for Kate.

Not the best setup for a narco pregnant lady.

Did you know that narcolepsy is categorized as a disability under the ADA? Neither did I, until recently. And let me tell ya, I understand why.

Narcolepsy is nothing like normal fatigue (and I've had plenty of that, believe me...both as a pregnant lady, and as a first year graduate student). No, narcolepsy is in a category of it's own. When I'm narco-ed out, the tiredness is unbearable. I cannot function, because I'm stuck in that never-never-land of waking REM sleep. It is almost painful, and if it were possible, I feel sure that I would DIE OF TIRED.

The only thing that relieves that feeling is a nap, which was not seeming likely when I crashed around 1 pm this afternoon. Out of desperation (in all seriousness, I was going to DIE) I took a nap in the auditorium, during the afternoon's introductory speeches, and woke up to find one of the panelists staring at me disapprovingly. Sorry lady, but otherwise, you'd have a corpse on your hands.

Anyway, I'm getting work done! At 10:30 at night! After a full day of back-to-back shenanigans!

Granted, I had a good nap on Ross's office couch after sneaking out of the training early (ironically, the session I had to skip was on accommodating student disabilities).

But still! Dare I hope? Is this the turning point on the road towards the gilded-promised-land of (gasp) The Second Trimester?

God, I hope so.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Maybe I'm gestating a truck driver...

I'm trying to eat good for the goober. I really am. But sometimes he/she makes it SO HARD. For example, take a look at the current good list/bad list.

Good Food (eat more! EAAAAT!)
*Cheez-its (what I am currently eating)
*Barbecue ribs (what I ate last night)
*Egg salad
*Frozen yogurt
*Boston baked beans
*Pot pie (WANT)

Bad Food (booooooo!)
*Non-frozen yogurt
*Most cheese
*Tomatoes (weren't these just on the good list last week?!)

Detecting a pattern here? Watch, next week it'll be corn dogs and oatmeal cream pies. Seriously.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pregnancy posting

Ross and I were delaying our announcement until we saw the Goober and were sure that everything was ok. So I've been blogging all the way, and keeping the posts unpublished. They are now up and publicly viewable. So have at it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

9-1/2 weeks

There are advantages to having a good friend as our OB. She got us in for an early ultrasound! So let me introduce you to...the Goober!!

It's an active little goober, dancing and bopping around the whole time!

The Goober: a whole lotta boogie, not a lotta butt.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

As if it weren't obvious that hormones rule my life...

I'm currently crying while watching the end of Overboard.

Hormone soup

I'm feeling really low today.

Yes, I know--it's hormones. But knowing that doesn't really help, eh?

I'm really tired of being sick--it just drags on and on. I had this naive belief that since morning sickness feels more or less like food poisoning, that it would behave like food poisoning, showing up one day without warning and then disappearing equally quickly.

But Kate (you say), morning sickness isn't anything like food poisoning.


The truth is, morning sickness doesn't just get better overnight--it kind of drags along, getting gradually (oh so gradually) better--then unexpectedly, dramatically worse--then better again. It wouldn't be so bad, except that my tolerance for nausea is way lower than my tolerance for pain.

Needless to say, I'm not getting a whole helluva lot done right now. This is a bummer, because these few remaining weeks of summer are my last chance to get some work done before I start teaching in the fall. Combine that pressure with the aforementioned hormones and a whopping dose of inborn work-ethic guilt, and I'm bound to start crying into Ross's beard at the drop of a hat, wailing something about how I'm never going to get a job and Ross, the goober and I are going to end up sleeping in a cardboard box, and then we'll all get TB and die.

I'm basically a mess.

Anybody out there had morning sickness at a really bad time? Were any of you visibly pregnant while on the job market (academic or otherwise)? Any coping mechanisms?

A post as scattered as my brain

I'm starting to feel the end of the summer looming. This sucks for several reasons.
1) I hate Michigan winters!
2) Thanks to a particularly cool summer, I have ~4000 green tomatoes on the vine, and have gotten exactly 4 ripe ones.
3) The end of the summer means the end of my high productivity and the start of job-market madness.
4) I have a grant proposal due in two weeks...a grant proposal that is in its twinkle-in-my-eye stage.
5) Did I mention how much I hate Michigan winters?

I still don't know what I'm teaching this coming semester. Good thing classes start late this year--Sept 8th.

On a related note, I have no idea how much I'll be making next semester. I could be teaching
.25 (8-12 hrs/wk)
.5 (18-25 hrs/wk)
.75 (35-45 hrs/wk).
Needless to say, this uncertainty (and the associated income uncertainty) scares me a little bit.

We spent this past weekend moving everything out of Ross's apartment (we're hopefully renting it out this fall). It now looks like something exploded in our living room.

The cats have an ongoing battle over a chair we brought from Ross's place--a chair that will forevermore be known as The Best Chair On The Planet.

We've started training Roxy to be less of a little shit. We're using something we've decided to call "ham therapy".

Ham Therapy:
Step 1: pet cat
Step 2: feed her chunks of ham
Step 3: repeat

She's responding quite well.

Did you know that a package of ham chunks costs less than a similar-sized package of cat treats, and is approximately 1 zillion times better (according to the average cat polled in our living room).

My brain is working about 1/4 speed right now. Could you tell?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

If only I had a giant, gummy-armed robot to signal these things for me

The last week has been tough. There's obviously a lot going on with my personal life. There's also a lot going on in my work life.

Individually, those two things would be manageable. Heck, if the two were entirely separate, I could probably handle both at once. But it's the feedback between the two that's killing me.

I'm going on the job market this year, and as I've already stated elsewhere, this is a make-or-break year for me. I refuse to spend another year of my life here with no clear benefit on the other end. The goober makes the stakes even higher, because...well...I would rather not be unemployed in Southeast Michigan. So I've been trying to maximize the time I have left, getting as much accomplished as I possibly can.

But the goober is now preventing me from getting very much done. I spend a significant part of my morning sick as a dog, and a significant part of the afternoon wishing for a nap. That leaves approximately 3-1/2 hours of productive work time a day--not enough to cap off one paper, write a second, draft a winning grant application, and revise my job market materials.

It's a Catch-22. I need to work hard to get a job for the goober, but the goober won't let me work hard.

And then there's the fact that I HATE uncertainty--hate it to the point that I might call it a core part of my personality. I'm the type of person who prints out reams of information about my destination before taking a trip. I'm also the new girl, cowering in the corner because it's her first time registering for classes, or taking an adult swim class, or eating in this particular cafeteria (who dishes my food? where do I pay? where do I put my tray when I'm done? ACK!)

My level of uncertainty in a job market year is already nerve-vibratingly high. I have no idea how my job market process will go. Will it be easy? Painful? Where I will be living in a year? Will Ross have a job there too? But the goober adds a whole new level of uncertainty. When will I start to show? Will I be able to get a suit that fits me at six months? Will being pregnant affect my chances of getting a job? Will anyone be able to look beyond a growing belly to see me as a researcher? What if the goober comes early? Or has health problems? Will I even be able to do flyouts in Jan and Feb? What if I end up on bedrest? Will they let me fly at 8 months pregnant? If I can do flyouts, what am I going to wear? (The business mu-mu may be my best option yet...)

The rational part of my brain assures me that all of this worrying is a natural part of the hormonal changes I'm going through right now, and that while those are all valid concerns, they are not something I can control, and so it's better to focus on the things I can control, like my grant application (which would free me from any job market responsibilities at all) and my job market paper (which is the thing that really matters right now).

But the irrational (nauseous) part keeps screaming DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!! DANGER!!!! and demanding saltines, pickles, and peaches.

Makes it rather difficult to ignore...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Any day, I expect to discover that my biceps can make smoothies...

On some level, I understood that there would have to be some retooling with this whole pregnancy thing. I mean, they tell me that the goober is going to get a good bit bigger in the coming months, and he/she has to eat. But the reality is a good bit weirder than I had imagined. For one thing, it's much faster than I'd imagined. I'm only 7 weeks in--the goober is approximately the size of a tic tac--but I'm already looking more like a swimsuit model than I'm entirely comfortable with.

But on a more basic level, there is something very strange about your body changing into something else. You spend your whole life with your body parts performing one familiar set of functions, and suddenly those parts go off and start preparing to do something else. It's as if you spent your entire life as a giant robot, only to wake up one day and discover that you can also transform into a toaster oven. It kind of makes you rethink your identity as a free-willed, independent entity.

Also, I feel like I should be making the chuh-chuh-chuh-chuh-CHUK noise ALL THE TIME.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A pleasant surprise...

I've settled on the phrase "pleasant surprise" to describe our current situation. We'd planned on trying to have kids in the near future, so this really just moved our timing up by a few short months. However, those were kind of a crucial couple of months. Consider the following time table:

~June 23rd: LMP (don't ask if you don't know)
~Dec 7th: 24 weeks and the bleeding edge of viability
~Jan 4th: 28 weeks and the date of the big job conference in my field
~Jan 11th-Mar 1st: 29-36 weeks and the time that I'll (hopefully) be having flyouts for job interviews.
~March 30th: my due date

In case you missed it (or lack a phd in pregnancy-related math) that means that I'll be doing my first round of job interviews at ~6 months gestation (which is, bizarrely, 7 months of pregnancy) and I'll be flying around the country giving talks at 7-8 months gestation.

Ross is looking into purchasing a "business mumu" as we speak.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Goober angry! Goober SMASH!

Foods the goober likes this week:
*SALTINES (eat more saltines! eat them NOW!)
*Plain buttered noodles with lots of salt
*Dry Cheerios
*Plain cheese quesadillas
*Frozen blueberries
*Strawberry yogurt smoothie
*Beef, barley, mushroom soup
*Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce
*Mac and Cheese (only at night)

Foods the goober hates this week:
*Cooked tomatoes
*Chili Peppers
*Anything fried
*Mac and Cheese (I know...don't argue with it)
*Pretty much everything else

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pregnancy is hard, yo

I'm trying to get used to this whole pregnancy thing. It's been pretty difficult this week. There are all of the usual pregnancy-related ailments--the poorly-named "morning sickness" ("morning"--ha!) being the most difficult to become accustomed to. Ross and I have been touring all of the bland Ann Arbor food options these past two days, and every meal is predicated by a thoughtful discussion with the goober, which would make sense if the goober actually knew what it wanted, or...well...had a brain capable of higher thought (Me: what do you want to eat? Goober: Mac and cheese! No, you fool! Not mac and cheese! I want toast! Not that toast! I said toast! Or maybe pretzels! Not pretzels, pretzels!) Fortunately, Ross has discovered the two magic bullets of morning sickness: saltines, and a small plastic baggie filled with vanilla. The former is pretty easy to explain--it is a well-known fact that saltines are the only food on earth consistently acceptable to the average embryo. I've been eating box after box them. (Me: can I stop eating saltines now? Goober: No! I will cut you! Me: Ok, ok, saltines it is, then.) The vanilla helps to placate my new, super-sense of smell, the power of which verges on sixth-sense (my current list of least-favorite smells: coffee, cooking tomatoes, anything sweet). I may look like some kind of bizarre drug addict--huffing from a brown-stained plastic baggie--but at least I'm not puking in my neighbor's espresso.

Between the bland food diet and the vanilla-huffing, I've more or less got the goober-induced illness under control. More difficult has been the non-goober induced results of going off of Provigil--my narcolepsy medication. Provigil is a class C drug--meaning that while there is no evidence that it does anything bad to developing goobers, there is no evidence that it doesn't, either. So, at least in the first trimester, I've decided to go off of Provigil and take my days au natural. Unfortunately, that means that I've had to rethink my relationship with the world. Previously, I had thought of myself as a person who worked for a living--producing research in exchange for a check from the national science foundation. Now, I'm forced to think of myself as someone who gestates. That is just about all I have the energy for. Last night, I slept from 11:30pm-7:30am. Ross got me out of bed at 8am, and I showered, dressed, and brushed my teeth. At 9am (or thereabouts), I laid back down, waking up only when Ross came home to find me at 11:45am. For those of you who are keeping track, that's ~11 hours so far today. Immediately after my lunch of buttered noodles, I wanted to take another nap, but bolstered by a few sips of (now largely prohibited) diet coke, went off to work where I "worked" (read: stared at a computer screen) for another 2 hours. I'm now seriously contemplating another nap.

I know that this will probably get better, as my mind re-learns the coping mechanisms that I used back in the dark days of 2007. But right now, I'm having a hard time doing anything other than sleeping--terribly inconvenient, considering that I'm scheduled to go on the job market in a few short months. Ross keeps reminding me that goober incubation is one of my most important jobs right now, and that sleeping the day away is now a sanctioned activity, but that is taking a bit of retooling in the ol' brain. Fortunately, I have a couple of cats to show me how it's done.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

So, it turns out that I'm preggers...

Last week, we were in Kentucky for a conference Ross was attending, and I felt so utterly crap-tacular that I thought I had swine flu. I kept expecting the Revolution (as I call it--viva la Revolution!) any day, but it just didn't come. When we got back, I dove right into preparations for the Young Educator's Grillfest (part of the festivities for the second conference Ross attended in as many weeks, for the American Association of Physics Teachers). Once that was done, I had the time to slow down a bit and start counting. I had a very good idea when the Revolution had last been active, and no matter how many times I counted, I kept coming up with one extra week somewhere. I mentioned this to Ross on Tuesday, and he suggested that I best pee on something before our scheduled Thursday cocktail hour with the Physics Cronies (who all happened to be in town that week). On Wednesday afternoon, I bought a stick, and got the bright idea to take the test in the library bathroom, which swarms with undergraduates, even in the summer. That meant that rather than saying HOLY SHIT really loudly, I had to satisfy myself with saying HOLY SHIT in my head. Suddenly, my pee had the power to change the stick a different color! I had magic pee!

I wanted to tell Ross, but his phone was off (!) and my phone died shortly afterward. I sent him an email (subject line: shit just got real!!!) and ran home. When I told him, he burst into one of those giant, mountain man smiles that crinkles up the edges of his eyes and makes me feel all gooey inside. We tried another, different test just to be sure (yep--still magic!). I got a doctor's appointment with my GP on Friday, and she verified the presence of a non-Kate entity.

By the way, we're calling said non-Kate entity "The Goober" for the meantime. It will be called that until another nickname strikes our fancy.

Once we had independent verification, we called our folks. This process was complicated both by time zones (my folks are 1 hour behind eastern time and Ross's are 3 hours behind) and the fact that every one of our beloved friends was over at our house, playing Guitar Hero. (Which brings me to the reason that you all are reading this after the fact--Ross and I have chosen to delay telling everyone else for a while. There is just too much that could go wrong at this point. If all goes well, I'll post all of these blog entries at once in a couple of weeks.) So at some point, we snuck upstairs to call my folks, who were so clearly over the moon that you could practically hear them smiling through the phone. We waited until nearly midnight to sneak upstairs and call Ross's folks. They have a mac, so we talked to them via iChat. Thus, we managed to record my father-in-law's near spit-take at the news. I've never seen him have such a strong reaction in my life! My folks probably heard them in IL. (If all goes well, the goober will be the first grandchild on both sides).

So there you have it. We have a goober!! Approximate due date: March 30th, 2010.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Goals for the Year

So last week, I turned 29. As I mentioned last year, I don't really dig resolutions of the Jan 1st variety--I prefer to let the goals come when it feels right. And right now, it feels right. But first, a recap/update on my goals from last year.

On the whole, this was a bad year, goal-wise. I didn't think that it was possible, but my life seems to have kicked into a new, higher gear this past year. This forced me to re-prioritize a bit, and one needs only look at the state of my kitchen, blog, and waistline to see the effects. But I'm giving away the ending...

First, the shameful:
run/swim/bike a triathlon: This goal did NOT happen. Moreover, it's not going to happen anytime soon. And I'm ok with that. It turns out that I'm just not that interested in triathlons. I like the idea of it. But the reality is totally unappealing--any sport that requires you to practice putting on your shoes is not for me. Besides, if I wanted to work really hard at something I'm naturally bad at, I would learn a new language. Or teach myself to juggle.

bike a century: This also did not happen. Not even close. I did accomplish one of the subgoals of this goal--I fixed my bike's drive train. Good news is, I've already been on my bike several times this spring--which is several times more than I was on my bike last year! Bad news is, my bike partner-in-crime is graduating and moving on to bigger and better things (ok--maybe that's not really bad news--congrats, Ann!), and without a riding partner to spur me on, I doubt I'll be able to motivate myself for a really long distance ride.

climb a 5.10: Again, not so much. Turns out that writing a dissertation is somewhat incompatible with finding time to exercise. But I'm thinking about taking a climbing technique class this summer, so who knows?

show my photos in a gallery in Ann Arbor: I'm terrible at this stuff--self-promotion is really hard for me, and getting a gallery show is all about self-promotion. I made some lame stabs this last year, but nothing substantial. I'm hoping to enter The Shadow Art Fair this year, which would kind of count.

Now the slightly less shameful:

take care of my back: I did ok with this. I didn't make my (perhaps overly optomistic) goal of daily core exercise, but I have had markedly fewer relapses this year, and I've learned much better how to keep myself in alignment.

go on the job market: Um. I went on the job market...I just didn't get a job. That counts, right? Seriously though, my job market process this year went through more pointless twists and turns than a Season 2 episode of Heros. Some of those twists were my fault, others were out of my control. On the plus side, going on the market halfway last year has set me up perfectly for my full on attack this year. I'm calling it Job Market II: Kate's Revenge.

And now, lest you think I'm a total slob, the successes!

take all of my (important) pills: I have been really good this year. I still have an occasional lapse, but nothing to get in a twist about. And I feel good.

finish a second paper
: Holy crap! I actually finished this one! And it's good too!

get married
: Score!

Also, here's a list of things I didn't list as goals last year, but accomplished anyway:
Set a personal record for distance hiked in one day (~20 miles)
Went to a new country (the Czech Republic)
Adopted a little fuzzy asshole
Planted a successful community garden plot
Presented at a prestigious conference
Taught a short course
Gave an invited talk
Was paid to take photographs
Won a photography contest
Came within a whisker of getting my dream job

When you put it that way, it wasn't such a bad year. However, the disconnect between what I actually accomplished and what my goals were has made me rethink what makes a useful goal. This year, I'm going with broader goals, which have many possible pathes to fufillment. We'll see how that works out.

Get a job or move on: This is the big one this year. I've decided that this is my last year in graduate school. I will get a job that I want in my field, or I will move on and do something else.

Submit one paper for publication: Pretty self-explanatory. The publication process in economics takes forever. I need all the time I can get.

Drafts of two other papers: The two candidate papers at the moment are both coauthored (yay!). One is with my advisor. The other is with my officemate. I'm looking for real paper drafts--not just results!

Prioritize Exercise: One of the things I let slide most this past year was exercise. In the past 2 years, I've gone from Amazon to lump. I've gained a size, my knees hurt, and I have no energy. This is totally unacceptable! I have several strategies for this. I'm planning to take at least one exercise class at the University per semester. I'm back on my bike, and I'm hoping to start riding regularly, even if it's only short distances. I've also started weightlifting again. I need to figure out some way to keep that interesting and learn more. Any other (low/no cost) ideas?

Eliminate anything I don't use from my house: We have way too much stuff. Garage sale this summer, followed by a trip to the recycle center!

Spend less free time staring at a computer screen: Part of the reason I don't have time for things I love is that I spend my down time surfing the web or watching TV. I've already made progress towards doing more away from the computer. I want to do more!

Acheive more balance in my life: This is related to everything else above. If I spend too much time working or thinking about work, then my brain stops working well. And if I spend less time staring at a computer/TV screen, then I should have more time for those things that exercise the non-research parts of my brain--photography, art, music, gardening.

Eat more cake: I figured I needed at least one that I'd be able to acheive.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Adventures in Cooking Part 3: Mayonnaise

Remember way back when I wrote that post about mayonnaise and frosting? Well, spurred on by the 2 dozen hard boiled eggs in my fridge, I finally got up the courage to make mayonnaise, using Alton Brown's recipe. Oh boy is it good.

It is much tarter than store bought mayonnaise, and has more mustard flavor to it. It probably isn't for everyone. But if you/ like a bit more tang in your egg salad, then go for it. It's easier than I would have thought.

A few words of advice:
1) Use your food processor. I don't know about you, but I'm not coordinated enough to whisk with one hand and deposit a carefully-controlled stream of vegetable oil with the other. Nor am I strong enough to whisk that vigorously without stopping to massage my forearms every 15 seconds.
2) Use some kind of pouring device for the oil. Alton Brown uses a very snazzy squeeze bottle. I used a water pitcher. Whatever. You need to add it veeery sloooowly, and I can't be trusted to do that out of a bowl. See above comment about coordination issues.
3) Several other things you might not know (mostly gleaned from watching Alton Brown): fresh eggs make better mayo, mustard powder is in mayonnaise for important structural reasons, and if you use unpasteurized eggs, you should leave you mayo out on the counter, in the jar, for 4-6 hours.

I don't know if I'll last that long. Egg salad, here I come!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hi all--I'm resurfacing. The last few months have been simultaneously really busy/stressful and really boring. There have been things worth blogging about, but my inner perfectionist won't let me write a half-assed post out of the blue, without "catching up" on all of the other posts I was "supposed" to do. I have at least 5 half-finished elaborate, pictured-filled blog posts in the queue, which I can't seem to find the energy to finish. But why should every post be long and involoved? Wasn't this supposed to be an exercise in informal writing? As in...not stressful?

So here is me, announcing that I'm coming back. I'll post some picture-filled entries when I have the time, but I'm going to start posting short thoughts as well. I figure the combination of the two might be interesting, and...well...more compatible with dissertation writing. I suppose there's always Write or Die.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy New Year!

Hi all--it's been a crazy holiday season--hence the lack of posting. I have a number of picture-heavy posts in the works, but those take me about 3 times as long as text-based posts, so I figured I'd write a couple of those in the meantime. I may get around to adding pictures. We'll see.

We had a busy holiday season around here. We had to work basically up to the last minute, so we didn't leave for Chicago (casa del Kate) until Dec 21st. We left for Southern Oregon on the 26th. On Jan 1st, we drove down to San Fransisco, where I had professional obligations in San Fransisco starting Jan 2nd. On Jan 5th, we flew back to Chicago and then immediately drove back to Ann Arbor.


Despite the frantic pace, the whole thing was lovely.

Well...actually, scratch that. Once we got to Chicago, it was lovely. The trip from Ann Arbor to Chicago, which normally takes 3-1/2 to 4 hours, took 27 hours total--10 of which were on the road. There was snow and high winds through most of the state, but it wasn't too bad (good road conditions and ok visibility--60 feet or so) until we hit mile marker 55 in Michigan, at which point traffic stopped. We stopped at around 4 pm didn't move an inch for nearly 3 hours. We found out later that the accident ahead of us contained 6 jackknifed semis and at least a dozen cars. Given what we saw on our way through the site, I would be surprised if that figure included all crashes related to that initial accident.

It was 3 degrees outside, and the wind was strong enough to make leaving the car an unpleasant proposition--unfortunate, since I really really had to pee. However, all things considered, it wasn't so bad. We turned off our lights, ran the engine just enough to keep it and the car warm, and listened to NPR podcasts. I eventually admitted to myself that I didn't have the aim to pee in a bottle, and briefly left the car to take care of things. Good news is, I would be surprised if anyone could see my blazing white butt through the blowing snow. Bad news is, I froze my ass off (really--being a woman sucks). We had Roxy in the car (we left Maggie with a friend, but figured that Roxy could use a little adversity in her life), and let her out to wander around the car a bit. We hoped that she'd taken car of her kitty business before we left.

At some point, traffic started moving--we would inch forward 15 feet and then stop for 10-15 minutes. After a few rounds of stop-and-start, we realized that unless we wanted our windshield wipers encased in ice, we would have to run them constantly. Over the next 2 hours, the swish-swish would slowly drive me crazy.

The good thing about our piecemeal mode of travel was that it gave us plenty of time to gawk. First, we started to see cars off the road--presumably people uninvolved in the first accident who simply failed to stop in time. Then we started into the accident zone proper--all flashing lights and guys in uniform looking way cold. One of them cleared off our wiper for us, saving us a 10th trip out in the cold. They were dragging stranded cars across the median, presumably because the other side was more easily accessible. There was a semi tractor with the front smashed in, and several facing the wrong direction. Eventually, we made it to the next exit, where we were routed off the road into small towns. I was following a semi tractor for a while, but he made an ill-advised decision to pass a stranded semi who couldn't make it up a hill. He drifted away, and suddenly I was at the front of a massive, slow-motion parade. I didn't see the trailer again.

By the time we got back on the highway, visibility had fallen to about 20 feet. 4 hours of zero traffic left the roadway encased in snow. We found ourselves at the center of a sphere of snow. 20 feet from the car, the world may as well not have existed. It was impossible to tell where the road ended and the ditch began, so our parade took a firm position at the center of the roadway. A sedan in back of me (who had apparently missed our 3 hour long lesson in why- not- to- drive- like- a- jackass- in- a- blizzard) decided that this was a good time to pass. I saw him come up on my right, and then he slowly drifted off the side of the road. He left my personal bubble of world, and we didn't see him again. Nobody attempted to pass after that.

We spent an amusing interlude at East Bumblefuck Michigan (motto: don't stop here) and decided that we would have to try to make it the 13 miles to Benton Harbor. Although it seemed impossible, the road was even worse when we got back on. We could see as much as 20 feet in front of us, but when the wind shifted, all I could see was windshield, and I would have to stop on the roadway until it cleared. I've never driven in worse conditions. Long story not-so-short, we made it to Benton Harbor, checked into a hotel (best $80 I have ever spent), threw our totally freaked-out cat in the bathroom, and slept like the dead. The next day, it was still snowing, but not as badly. Since it was only 25 miles to get into Indiana, where the snow would probably stop (lake effect), we decided to go for it. It took us another 2 hours to get to my folk's house--a distance of probably 60 miles.

Once we got there, though, we had a lovely time. In addition to our traditional Christmas Eve gift of matching pajamas, the cats and dogs got matching bandanas. Suprisingly, Roxy didn't seem to mind hers and kept it on for the whole time we were there. On the whole, Roxy had a fantastic time at my folks' house. She seemed to enjoy having other animals around--even if she wasn't too fond of the dog at first. We made christmas cookies, wrapped presents, decorated the tree, and prepped the country ham we bought my mom for Christmas. We had an ice storm, and I took some pictures of my mom's winter garden (maybe I'll get to post some later). On a lark, we went to Cabella's, which is like Disneyland for hunters and included a mountain of stuffed game, an animatronic deer exhibit, a fish tank full of enormous fish, a wild-game cafeteria, a gun musem, and an entire section of disgusting bait items (I love looking at disgusting bait items). On our last day, we went to the Brookfield zoo. I love going to the zoo in the winter, and it's long tradition in our family. We saw gibbons singing to each other, a pygmy hippo, and some gorillas playing in the straw. We saw an orangutan going crazy over a giant orange-flavored popsicle. We saw an *enourmous* alligator (>15 feet long), and an owl with a lazy eye. We saw the keepers feeding the tapirs and hippos hamburger buns (hippo can haz cheezburger?) and indulging the elephants with big squirts of water. The best was the polar bear, who was playing with a small red ball. Early on it fell into the moat. He eventually decided to brave the icy steps to get it, but ended up falling into the moat. At that point, we looked in the mirror set up for moat-viewing and realized that all of the bear toys are in the moat. Reminds me of a certain cat I know, who likes to knock her toys down the stairs into the basement.

We seem to have used up all our bad luck on the trip to Chicago, because the trip from O'hare to Portland to Medford, which should have been fraught with trouble the entire way, was ridiculously easy. We headed out to the Oregon Coast to meet up with Caitrin (Ross's sister) the next day. The coast was lovely. We saw lighthouses, wind-bent trees, and crashing waves. We went to a wonderful aquarium with plexiglass tubes that let you walk underwater, and a petting zoo where you could touch anemones, sea cucumbers, sharks, and rays. We went to a garden with a fantastic light show, and a whale-watching center. The whale watching center has a real whale skeleton set up in the building. I also learned that little bits of junk in the ocean sometimes accumulate bits of plant matter in their travels, forming something that looks like a miniature tumbleweed. Later on, I looked for these balls on the beach, but didn't find any. We did find some jellyfish, though, and some blobs of clear stuff that felt a bit like rubber. Ross and I argued about the source of these--I thought they were organic (maybe dried out jellyfish, or whale barf or something), while Ross figured they were man made material (maybe packing material, or a component of a ship). I found a kid's toy--a plastic grenade--which looked pretty old, from the 70s maybe. We found some neat seashells, including one with a gradient from silver to purple, and another that was raspy and brown. We got a great lesson in the power of the pacific, when an extra-large wave caught me by surprise, and forced me to run up the beach to avoid getting wet. Ross's dad, who was taking pictures of me while I scrambled to safety, ended up getting caught too, and executed a neat little roll to get out of the way. The dunes themselves were the best part--covered in a spiky grass, making them look almost furry.

The trip down to San Fransisco was also uneventful. We stayed with Ross's aunt and uncle in Alameda. I had some professional obligations, but we also had some time to just wander around. We hiked up a big hill (though not by any stretch the biggest) and went to a toy store past Chinatown. We walked through a really sketchy neighborhood to a beer store that turned out to be closed. The brewery that we settled for was called the Thirsty Bear, and turned out to have some decent beers. That evening, we got to see some good friends who moved to Oakland a few years ago. We had fantastic sausages, made by a guy who was of Turkish decent, born in Germany, and grew up in Canada. Man knows his sausages! He was really nice, and let us come behind the counter to top our own sausages. He let us eat there while he closed up shop, and even gave us some of all of his french fry dips to try. The next day, Ross's uncle drove us around to see some different neighborhoods in the city. We went to yet another great sausage place, with the best business model ever. The sausage place is next door to a great bar. You can get your sausage for here, to go, or "for next door". We, of course, carried our sausage (wild boar for Ross, duck with figs for me) next door to have a beer. We were shocked to find that we didn't recognize a single beer on the menu! Awesome! We also subjected Ross's uncle to two different toy shops. But the second one was well worth it. We bought three original prints and spent only $48. Totally awesome.

Anyway, this was a long post, but it was a great trip. We were gone for much too long, but we enjoyed ourselves. How was your holiday season?