The closest to Normal (Illinois) that I've ever been.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Away: Staten Island

After leaving Baltimore, we spent a few days on Staten Island with Danny's family. Danny's brother Mike was getting married, so there was a great deal of activity and we got to spend a few days at the house by ourselves. (On the plus side, the many small dogs were boarded so Danny and I got more sleep than we usually do.)

Without Joe and Marie in the house, there was a mad scramble for the best chair in the TV room.

We amused ourselves with various activities, including a visit to the Staten Island Zoo.

We also took the SI Ferry to meet Aunt Alyn at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan.

Joseph was super-crabby and unfocused and had many meltdowns. It was rather a long and eventful road trip overall, and I think that Joseph hit his low point on this particular day.

There was this sculpture that looked like a less cool Millennium Park Bean. On the way home a bunch of models and fashion photographers were doing a photo shoot there, much to the annoyance of the kids.

Our main goal in going to the Seaport was to see the historic ships. Although the price was right ($5), the ships were kind of lame compared to the ships in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

There was a dude ("Brendan the Prettygood") juggling things, which the kids enjoyed.

Away: Baltimore

We spent a week with my grandparents Saul and Martha in Baltimore. It was an exciting week: (1) there was a family party for Father's day which (2) was interrupted by my cousin Melissa going into labor.

Danny and Saul at the Father's day event.

Sam, Joseph, Ben and Jonah had a great time hanging out. The boys decided to have a piano recital and spent more time planning the advertising and cajoling adults to attend the show than actually practicing for it.

We brought the remainder of our stash of baby board books to Saul and Martha's house for Aron and the little grandkids. Sam and Joseph had a good time reviewing and explaining the various baby books to Grandma Martha.

Some of us went a little wild in the backyard woods. We also caught a few American Toads (named Sally and Patty) who came home with us as pets.

I have been desperately missing the ocean since we left CA. So we went to the beach at Rocky Shore on Middle River as a consolation prize (sigh).

You mihgt think from this picture that it was a lovely place. But it was not.

Grandma Martha and I went to the hospital to see Melissa, Kyle and baby Alexa.
Now whose house but Saul and Martha's would have a candy dish proffering Hershey's kisses, breath mints and Robitussin cough drops?

Our family curse (or at least one of them) is that women in our family lack sufficient eyebrows. But not Martha! After years of eyebrow pencil, Grandma has opted for a permanent solution. And they look perfect! (So now I am not the only one in the family with tattoos!)

Away: Idaho

I have not been home in almost three weeks. And where I have I been? First, a week in Moscow, Idaho for the Evolution meeting. As some may recall, Danny and I (and briefly, Sam) lived not far from Moscow in Albion, WA when I did my Master's at WSU. I have not been back in 10 years.

Some things looked the same as I remembered them to be (Steptoe Butte, the rolling hills of wheat and Dissmore's IGA).

Some things were very different (the WSU campus).

Some things I did not recall, so I have no idea whether or not they had changed (The U of I campus is really lovely). And some things that I thought were true when I was living there were revealed to be untrue (no comment).

I had a great time catching up with people from WSU, UCR and everywhere else. The meeting served the purpose that academic meetings usually serve for me (1) a child-free week with my various academic friends (bad-influence and otherwise) sciencing and drinking (2) re-invigorate my passion in research, which sometimes gets trammelled down by the realities of actually conducting scientific research (3) make new friends/contacts.

That the meeting was in the Palouse made the whole thing oddly poignant. I met with people that I had not seen in 10 years, which was lovely and kind of odd--I think that 10 years ago I was not really a grown-up yet. And now I am.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Friiking out

This week has been pretty rough. Monday was Joseph's birthday, both kids are home from school, and Danny and I were both swamped with work. I feel like Danny and I should get some kind of prize for having survived the week. However, a more cynical/socially conservative person would say that one of us (me) should really be a stay-at-home-mom, so this was a problem of our own invention.

Regardless, with many late nights and me taking off from work as much as I could, Danny was able to get his work done. I am still struggling, though. I finished the experiment that I have been suffering through for the last 2 months. However, I am currently working on revisions on 4 different manuscripts at the same time.

It's like whack-a-mole: as soon as I finish one, a co-author or editor sends me another one back for revisions/corrections etc. On the one hand, I am delighted that things are happening on these manuscripts, but on the other hand, it is really hard to keep re-focusing on each paper. Also, I am supposed to deliver a talk in less than a week at a meeting in Idaho, and I have not yet finished it.

On an unrelated note, a few weeks ago, we made a proposal to the kids. They really wanted a Wii, but frankly, we have never spent more than $50 on any form of family entertainment. So we told the kids that for every $1 that they put into the Wii fund, Danny and I would match with $4. I figured that it would be sufficiently hard for them to raise $50, so we would have several months to raise the matching $200. We did not count on the many generous cash gifts for Joseph's birthday. The kids were able to raise $50, and so we went out and bought a Wii! I have not had a gaming system since I was 10 (Atari)!

Fully equipped

I am still not entirely sure how we ended up in hockey. Joseph expressed interest in an ad at the rink last year and somehow we ended up here. Last session the kids were enrolled in Hockey 1 which taught basic skills. Surprisingly, both kids learned all of their skills and graduated to Hockey 2.

And now the equipment starts. Helmet with face mask, shin guards, elbow guards, gloves, girdles and sticks. The gear is both expensive and complicated to put on. We rented Joseph's stuff, but we had to buy Sam's. We also needed a tutorial from the equipment guy about the proper order to put all of it on, and we had to practice at home before we got to the rink.

Both kids were very excited to push the puck around and Sam got to have a little scrimmage. Afterwards Joseph was really wiped out. We usually go to the Bloomington Farmer's Market after hockey, but today Joseph was so tired that he wanted to go straight home.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Near death by vacudefenestration

Last Friday I was walking home from school. As I crossed through the parking lot of a student apartment building, I turned my head and out of the corner of my eye I saw what looked like an enormous dark bird swooping out of the sky. And then there was an explosive crash. Some a-hole had thrown a vacuum cleaner out of a third-story window directly in front of me! Luckily, I was not hit by either the initial impact of the ancient 30-lb Eureka upright or any of the ricocheting parts.

But what would possess someone to do that? Clearly, they weren't aiming for me, but they also didn't bother to look outside before they threw it. If I had been walking faster, I would have been seriously hurt. I saw an alarmed guy at the open window who quickly ducked down when he saw that I had seen him.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Joseph is 6!

Today was Joseph's 6th birthday! Both kids were off from school, so I stayed home to hang out with them. Joseph had a wonderful morning opening and playing with many excellent presents including a pop-up Spiderman book from Grandma Dorinda and a very creepy robot hornet from Grammy and Grandpa Joe.

In the afternoon we had a party at Mess it Up. I was a little leery about this. In CA, we usually had home parties, so the pre-packaged party thing is kind of new to me. As you may recall, last year's party at the Children's Museum was a total fiasco/rip-off. (We were promised games, activities and decorations, but were instead confined to a bare room with no entertainment or decorations AT ALL for AN HOUR before we were allowed to go out into the museum.)

But Mess it Up did a really good job with Joseph's party. I think that the place is a recently decommissioned Make a Mess and the new owners really made an effort to help us out and keep the facility functioning. Because it was a Monday, we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

Joseph chose a dragon theme. Believe me, dragons are not popular this year, and it was extremely difficult to find decorations and party favors.

The kids had an awesome time. (Even Sam, who was rather jealous and touchy). In fact, there were no major meltdowns/potty accidents/injuries at all, which was impressive given that we had 11 kids there. And Joseph got quite a haul of birthday presents. It took him two days to play with everything. And when he went to bed, Joseph said that it was the best day of his life!