Thursday, March 31, 2011
I'm hoping that my suprising gift is the ability to speak coherently today. I'm exhausted. I've been spending four or five hours in the field every day this week, and I taught my class yesterday after I left the field. By the time we got to dinner, I could barely get out a sentence. Fortunately, Brad found it amusing and Issa had plenty to talk about.
I have this morning off, and then I'll head back into the field this afternoon. No field work tomorrow! I need the time to think...quietly...without having to speak intellengently.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
This lovely lady did the cooking last night. I broke my own rule and did five straight hours of field work yesterday. I learned so much, but my brain was a spinning pile of mush by the end of it. I was also absolutely exhausted. Between observing and then doing a little teaching in a fifth and then a second grade classroom, I was just toast by the end of the day.
My wonderful husband called on the way home, and I must have sounded like my brain was mush. He asked if I had started dinner, and I blathered something about getting started, and he offered to pick up Wendy's. I nearly burst into tears. It was wonderful.
It's funny how delicate the balance between work and home is. I can have a fabulous day one place, but fabulous days both places are rare (and celebrated!). Something always have to give, and last night it was dinner. I always feel guilty when I don't cook, but that burger was a lifesaver last night.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
This isn't a great picture, but I was trying to be sneaky so they wouldn't stop playing. Issa was trying to get Evan's hair to look like a shark fin. I am so grateful that he is such an easy going guy. You can tell by the look on his face that he wasn't thrilled about it, but he let her play for about ten minutes before he fussed enough she stopped. I'm sure some day she will be "too big" to be bothered with playing with her little brother, but for right now I will enjoy every minute that they play together so nicely. They come up with some hysterical games, and there is nothing that warms my heart quite so much as watching them play and laugh. Now if it would just warm my feet! (Have I mentioned it's cold?!)
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
I had a fabulous focus group on Thursday. I left my site realizing two things: I was on to something big and I have been horribly wrong. I'm still working through the qualitative quandary in my mind, but suffice it to say my hypothesis is shot, I've probably been using the wrong theory, and I'm pretty much thrilled about it.
The only bummer about the focus group is the transcription. I'm a huge believer in the fact that you don't really know your data unless you transcribe it yourself. I hear so many little nuances and pick up new things when I'm forced to listen to it that slowly. I can insert all my little notes and thoughts and questions as a I listen, and it's usually in this process that a lot of my initial analysis happens. The only bad news is that it takes forever...and I mean forever. My one hour focus group took me a little over four hours to transcribe (including noting).
It seems this little recorder and I are going to be spending a lot of quality time together over the next few weeks. Stay tuned to hear what I figure out...I'll let you know as soon as I know!
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
This is what the bowl looked like after dessert. Both kids had two bowls of Jello! (I had one; poor Daddy gave the last half of his to Evan.) That's after they ate a great dinner. I guess we are a big box of Jello family now.
By the way, I have fallen in love with pork shoulder in the Crockpot. Fabulous! Super easy, inexpensive, and I can make it multiple ways. Last week we had pulled BBQ pork, and last night we had pork burritos. Yum! I usually get a little 2.5 pound shoulder, and you place it all by itself in the Crockpot. Turn that puppy on high and walk away for five hours. At that point, remove all of the cooking liquid. Pull the pork, and then add 16 ounces of whatever sauce you like. Turn it on low and let it go another four or five hours. Yum! I think we will try an Asian something next week.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Brad and I bought this tent shortly after we were married from a friend who was moving. We had big plans to go camping often; we never went. It's a high quality tent, and it sleeps all four of us quite comfortably...not that we've ever actually all slept in it. Evan thinks tents are way too much fun for sleeping.
The tent does stay set up in our backyard complete with sleeping bags now that the weather is nice. While I was fixing dinner last night, the kids went out to play in the tent. Issa is the doorkeeper, and she is very careful that the tent stays zipped to keep the bugs out. As I was cooking, I could hear her explaining to Evan about the zipper, and then I heard the giggling begin. I have no idea what was so funny. All I knew is there were gales of giggles and squeals coming from the backyard, and I was one happy mama.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
In August, a friend gave us this aquarium. She was upgrading, and this little tank was just right for a first foray into fish for us. It came with the gravel, but Issa did the rest of the decorating.
In August, Issa chose our first betta: Fishy Fish Rainbow, Bow for short. He did great! I did a ridiculous amount of reading about bettas, and vowed to make Bow the happiest fish on the block. The kids loved him, and he became a part of the family and afternoon routine. (Please notice the past tense in this paragraph.)
Then November came, and the temperatures became cooler. I read bettas liked their water around 70-75, so we put a small heater in the tank. Two days later, I came home to find Bow dead. I called Brad at work. I was in tears (I know...I'm pitiful), and being the great dad that he is he came home so we could pick up the kids and tell them together. Issa sobbed, but then bravely flushed Bow I, and off we went to adopt Bow II.
Two days later, I realized Bow II was dead. Fortunately, the kids were at school and PetSmart has a seven day guarantee! It took us so long to choose Bow II they actually remembered us when I went back and helped me find a look-alike. I'm not proud to admit it, but I did a fish swap. I just couldn't tell Issa another fish was dead. So...in her mind Bow III was still Bow II.
Unfortunately, two days later, a Saturday, Bow III/II was dead. Ug! We went back to PetSmart, and the small fish expert literally told me, "Ma'am, you are fussing your fish to death." Apparently, as long as the water is room temp they are fine. Our fish were snuggling the heater and suffocating. Oops. So...Bow IV/III came home. He's a fancy fish--a crown tailed betta. He's a $4 fish instead of a $3 fish.
All has been well since November. We give him a new look every season, and Bow has been very happy. The only drama has been Evan renaming him Bubble. Issa still insists he's Bow, but fortunately he's a fish and will swim towards the glass no matter what you call him.
Then, big drama last night: Bow was swimming on his side. This is not good. I went to the internet to start looking for answers. (I'm a researcher...it's what I do.) It turns out he had swim bladder issues, probably due to constipation caused by over-feeding--a hazard of small children helping to feed the fish. Fortunately, there is a cure, and it only took a little over an hour of my life.
First, I had to change the water in the tank (most annoying since I had just done it that morning). Then, you cook one pea (that's right...a pea), peel the skin off, and then break the pea into tiny little bites. Then...wait for it...you stick a piece of the pea on the end of your fingernail and make it "swim" like a shrimp above the betta. The betta must eat the pea, which is no easy feat for a fish that can only swim on its side. You must repeat this three times.
Bow finally ate the pea, and within a couple of hours he was swimming straight! I, however, may need to have my head examined for all this fuss over a little fish.
Monday, March 21, 2011
We had a lovely day yesterday, and we spent part of the morning snuggling whichever child wanted to curl up on the couch with us. It is so rare that they will sit still long enough to snuggle anymore, and I take every opportunity I can for some snuggle time. I was snuggling Issa, and Evan was less that five feet from me playing in their kitchen. Then fear set in this mother's heart: he was just too quiet. Here is the conversation that followed:
"Evan, what are you doing?"
"What are you doing nothing with?"
And he held up Issa's stamp pad. Then he popped up and turned around. It had to be captured on film. And this is what happens when Evan gets too quiet.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Now that the weather is nice, the tent is set back up in the backyard. We leave two sleeping bags unfolded out there, so it's a nice comfy place to enjoy the nice weather. We have a goal of a family camp-out, but Evan is not so good at sleeping in the tent. It's just way too much fun to sleep out there. Yesterday, Issa convinced Daddy that the two of the should have a nap out in the tent. Daddy napped; Issa not so much. I went out to check on them and this is what I found.
We grilled out yesterday--burgers and Daddy's fries. As I was prepping stuff in the kitchen, the kids were helping Daddy grill. I heard Issa's sweet little voice say, "Daddy, you're the best griller and fixer of everything--just like Handy Manny and Bob the Builder." That's pretty high praise.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Evan now calls cows "moos," which is especially sweet since he calls every other animal by its name rather than by its sound.
Our favorite ice cream comes from a local dairy, Mapleview Farms, and the carton (and the shop that is dangerously close to our house) has a picture of one of its cows on the front. Evan loves the ice cream, which is now called moo cream because of the picture. So cute!
I love that it's March and it's warm enough for ice cream! (Yes...I will only eat ice cream when it is warm. And...hot chocolate season is officially over because I will only drink that when it is cold. It's just the way things work around here.)
Friday, March 18, 2011
The past two years, the leprechauns have come to visit us on St. Patrick's Day. They leave a trail of footprints from the garage all the way through the house to the kids' rooms. This year, the trail started on Daddy's drill press (he was not thrilled), so as soon as the garage went up the kids knew the hunt was on. They literally squealed and burst in new gales of laughter at every footprint--all 28! The trail wound through the garage and into the kitchen, where those sweet leprechauns left green shamrock cookies on the counter and Guinness stew in the oven. The trail then went through the family room (the footprint on the ceiling fan was especially hysterical), up the stairs, down the hall, and to each bedroom. A bag of gold (chocolate) coins and lucky charms was on each bed, and it seems the little guy jumped out Issa's window, at least that's where the trail ended. It was such fun.
As much as I loved that hunt, the highlight of the evening was after dinner. Spring is in full bloom, and we spread our outside comforter in the front yard and enjoyed the evening, complete with popsicles for the kids and ice cream for the grown-ups. The four of us played the cloud game and laughed until it started to get dark. It's those little moments that are truly wondrous things.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
We are a no shoe family. As soon as we walk in, the shoes land in this pile by the front door. I would love to say it's because we don't want to track germs or dirt through the house, but I think the truth is we all just like being barefoot. To be honest, when the kids take their shoes off the dirt gets worse because they track the mulch and sand that was in their shoes all over the house.
I'm thrilled that the shoes are in one place; it saves lots of trouble in the mornings. However, this pile sometimes gets a little out of control--especially as the seasons are changing. It's usually about this point that I trip over a shoe as I walk past and curse the shoe pile. I will inevitably put them all away today...and then there will be a great shoe search...and then the pile will return.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
1. The piles of survey data sorted by grade level (and then planning time, and then numerically, and then alphabetically--I was grasping at reason).
2. The toys everywhere! When Mom is in dissertation meltdown, the usual rules don't apply. Play with everything at once.
3. The shoe on the coffee table. A decoration was falling off and sparkles don't understand dissertation disasters; they must be repaired immediately. (It was a very easy repair thanks to my trusty glue gun.)
4. The glass of wine. (Really...does this need an explanation?)
5. The purse on the couch. I realized on the way home I had a problem. I went straight for the computer and the purse landed where it may.
6. The poor forlorn cat. There was no snugly lap for her last night.
I've had my good raging fit...and then a good cry...and now, as my refrigerator magnet reminds me, it's time to put on my big girl panties and deal with it. I have a plan; all will be well. I think I can I think I can...
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
This is our new family organizer. It arrived about a week and a half ago, but I wanted to be sure it really was as perfect as I thought before I blogged about it. It is! It is bliss. Each family member has a pocket for his or her respective "stuff." Issa has fully embraced the concept and loves distributing her artwork in the pockets. I love having a place for school forms and such, and Issa already knows to check to see if there is anything that needs to go to school in her pocket--love it! There are also pockets for coupons, fliers, library receipts, all those little things that are never where you need them to be when you need them. The dry erase board is perfect for messages or reminders, and the family calendar fits perfectly. (I particularly love this calendar because each day has a line for each family member.) And...there are pockets for pens and dry erase markers.
The best part: it hangs on the back of our front door. Everyone has to see it on the way out. I'm in love. Between this and my external brain white board, I'm one happy, organized lady.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Saturday, March 12, 2011
I must say they tasted delicious, but they are not really my friend's recipe. (Jodie, if you are reading, please stop now. I apologize. I'm sure I have offended every Louisianian with this mess.)
I realized yesterday morning that I was supposed to start the beans the night before. I forgot, so I did the quick soak. I heard somewhere that the quick soak method is better any way. While the beans were boiling, I thought I would start getting everything else in the crockpot. I should have stopped.
The recipe feeds two large armies, so I thought I would cut it in half since I was only feeding my crew. That required five cups of chicken stock, three quarters of an onion, and one and a half bay leaves. I thought I had part of a box of stock in the refrigerator; I didn't. That left me with only four cups of stock, so I decided to add a cup of water the rest of the onion and two bay leaves to make up the missing flavor (because clearly bay and onion are the same as chicken). The recipe also calls for a pound of smoked sausage and a pound of ham hocks. Since they sell smoked sausage by the pound and ham hocks creep me out a little, I only added a pound of sausage. I needed three eighths of a cup of celery and green bell pepper. That was a pathetic amount of celery and pepper, so I added the whole three quarter cup. I also had every color of pepper except green, so I threw them all in instead. The recipe called for fresh thyme, which looked a little sketchy this week. So...I added Cajun seasoning in place of all the spices and herbs (salt, pepper, red pepper, and thyme). Once everything was in the pot, I turned that puppy on and enjoyed the aroma all day--delish!
As if this mess wasn't, well, already a mess, disaster stuck about 5:15. It was time to start the rice. I only had a half a cup. That wasn't going to work. Hmmm. Grits! I had some of the those--exactly a half cup. No dice. Quinoa! I had a Costco bag of that.
Bottom line, we had Red Beans and Quinoa last night for dinner. It couldn't have been less authentic, but it was fabulous, if I do say so myself. Evan had three helpings. I will be making it again...if I can ever duplicate this hot mess.
Friday, March 11, 2011
On the way home from school, Issa and I were talking about the trees, and I decided to use it as a teachable moment. I talked about how not everything that is beautiful is good, how we really need to look closely and learn all the facts. Whoever planted all of these trees probably didn't realize the neighborhood would smell like a fish market for weeks when they made the decision; they just thought about the visual appeal. I thought it was a great object lesson. Then, Issa responded, "But Mom, stinky things are always stinky. That's all you really need to know." Maybe we'll try that object lesson again another day. Stinky trumps beauty when you're four.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
As anyone who is married to an engineer knows what is a foregone conclusion to most is simply a puzzle to be solved for an engineer. Having been married to an engineer for almost nine years, I have learned to just enjoy this ride and protect the breakables, which is exactly what I did last night. I suppose I should start at the beginning...
Issa had a fabulous day at school yesterday! When I picked her up, her teacher told me she had actually put an extra green stick in Issa's pocket, which she had never done for any other student, because Issa had been such a good listener and helper all day--even when the rest of her class was going insane and flipping their sticks to yellow and red at record rates. Daddy and I were so proud, and he offered to take her out to dinner as an extra treat. Of course, Issa asked to go to Red Robin. Critical to the story: we don't go to Red Robin for the food; we go for the balloons.
We had a great time at dinner, and when we got home Evan promptly released his balloon into our two story foyer. I announced it would just have to stay up there until it floated down on its own. Evan was shouting at the balloon to come down, and Issa was trying to explain that the balloon couldn't hear. Then, I saw the engineer's wheels starting to turn.
Before I knew what was happening, Daddy had grabbed the ball in the picture above and was mentally playing the angles. Soon, the balloon was being launched up to the front window to bounce back and push the balloon over the stairs so it could be retrieved. I moved to protect the breakables from the rebounding ball, and then found myself throwing the ball back to Daddy so he could repeat the process. A few short bounces later Daddy had retrieved the balloon and was the hero of the evening.
And that is the saga of the balloon hijinks...and a typical evening at our house.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
Then, I opened the laundry room door and saw this. Ug. Everything was washed and dried, but I had left a load on top of the dryer when we left...and one in the dryer that moved to the top of the dryer last night...and the one from last night is still in the dryer. Ug. I have a lot folding and ironing to do this morning.
Someday, I will probably be a little sad when I can go a couple of days without a load of laundry because it's just Brad and I. The kids will come home and I will insist on sending them home with clean clothes--just like Mom does for me when we go back home (which I am beyond grateful for because it saves me from scenes like this one). Today, though, I am sad because I have so much folding to do...and there will be more tomorrow...and if I don't do it the laundry monster will come and swallow my laundry room. Then again, I might just close the door until this afternoon.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
While the boys napped, I gave Issa and I matching manicures. I packed my whole kit--salt rub, lotion, and all. Issa chose the polish on our last grocery trip: Ice White topped by Justin Bieber's heart glitter top coat. It is stunning. (I would normally boycot the Bieber polish on principle, but the proceeds go to charity so I can't say much.) It is not exactly my style, but she was thrilled beyond words...especially since we flew around the room like fairies to make the polish dry.
In addition to seeing her face light up when we finished, the mother daughter time was priceless. She babbled the entire time...about her friends, school, ballet, our trip, what we should have for dinner. I don't remember most of it, but it was wonderful to just sit with her and let her babble. In the day to day of our lives, sometimes Issa gets less talk time than she deserves. Someone spills juice or melts down, we're trying to plan the next day's schedule of pick-up and drop-offs, the next big project needs doing, or we get busy doing something she loves but that doesn't provide much space for talk. In the bustle, sometimes the babbles get lost. When she was learning to talk, we hung on every utterance. Now, it blends in to the background noise. Moments like these are truly priceless. It's one of my goals to remember to create spaces like this for her--for us--even in the bustle.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Tuesday, Issa came home from school with this seemingly innocent little book. They are working on learning to tie their shoes, and it was Issa's turn to borrow the book for a week. I was thrilled! We tried to learn a few months ago; it was a disaster. I tried every trick in the book: different colored laces, songs, poems. Nothing worked. Then we got Velcro shoes and I breathed a sigh of relief and decided to learn this another day...many, many days from them. Even when her new shoes came with laces, I gladly tied them myself.
Tuesday, we read the story, and terror struck. This seemingly innocent book ties shoes in a bizarre way that I do not. Of course, the book is "right" in Issa's little head. I tried just changing the words to the story, but my words didn't match the diagrams. She caught me. I tried making up a new song for my way to the tune of "The Hokey Pokey." No dice. So..I had to teach myself how to tie my shoes correctly, which took about twenty minutes. (It was really bizarre!) Two nights of pure frustration for all involved.
Then...a miracle happened. Issa almost tied this "shoe" last night! And...she really tied both of her shoes this morning! Hurrah! Maybe the book isn't so evil after all.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
I read several blogs every day, and my husband has been prodding me to start one. And so, here I am. I hope to capture the little handprints here. I don't plan to post lots of pictures of the kids or the major milestones. I want to capture the day to day of my life as a wife, mom, and the mix of official job titles I have at the moment (student, research assistant, professor). Hopefully, it will be a place I can return in the years to come and remember some of the little things that might otherwise be forgotten.