Microblog Mondays: sunrise

microblog_mondays A night-weaned baby is a very nice thing, but only if your night-weaned baby sleeps past 6 am. We’re stuck in a pattern where Spud only sleeps for ~10.5 hours a night, which is not really enough sleep for him (or us), and means a very early start to the day. He’s grumbly upon waking, but if we leave him on his own to resettle, he eventually perks up into little chirps and burbles rather than grumble-subsiding back to sleep. If Pea goes in, Spud’s UP. If I go in, he’ll nurse sleepily, but I haven’t been able to get him back to sleep (and am not sure I want to – while the 5 am snooze-button feed is better for me, sleep-wise, it’s still a night feed and I really want to be done with those).

Right now, Spud often sleeps 7:30-5:50, and then naps 12:30-2:30. It doesn’t seem like quite enough sleep for him. He occasionally throws in a few three hour naps back to back mid-week to catch up. I’d like him to be on a 7:30 pm – (at LEAST) 6:30 am schedule, but think we might just have to give him time to get there.

I will say that the past two nights were the first that he didn’t wake up and require resettling by Pea around 2 am, so we’re still making progress (and with those prior nights, he was still waking up at 5:50 or earlier).

Any tips for night-weaning bringing early waking?


Home again, or home still?

Yesterday I tried to fly to Capitol City for a conference I was very excited about. It was to be the longest I had been away from Spud. It was going to require modest rationing and stretching of the milk stash. I would be gone for three glorious, uninterrupted nights of sleep. I would be off campus, escaping the travesty of my lab for a few days. A warmer climate, and an engaging, small, conversation-and-networking-heavy conference. Just the ticket for this exhausted labmonkey!

Today, now, I am back home after a 25 hour journey that got me precisely nowhere. A delayed and then cancelled flight. A suddenly sold-out train. Worsening roads. An emergency over-night at my sister’s apartment, despite her being in Two Dollar Island. A morning train, and voila! I am home.

I am rebooked on a screamingly early flight on Tuesday morning, which will see me to the conference with approximately 50 minutes to spare before my talk. I’ll have missed exactly half of the conference. I’ll have two nights of sleep, interrupted in the middle by leaving for an airport at 3 am.

It is not ideal, but I am not stranded, lost, hurt, or losing the conference entirely, so it certainly could be worse. Also, Spud made it through the night with only a brief resettling and no milk, for the fifth night in a row, so we are officially night weaning him, which should help with the exhaustion.

Now to make my talk, which was yesterday’s to-do, and which was lost in the endless shuffle.

Conversations with Pea: Too good at this

Me: I picked up some little kid toothpaste, since we probably should be using more than just water.
Pea: Is it grape flavoured? Everything kid is grape flavoured.
Me: No, I picked the “berry” flavour. They did have grape though. And one other… it was really weird.
Pea: Papaya?
Me: No, weird like “who would ever put that in their mouth?” It was a weird combination… shoot, I can’t remember.
Pea: Tuna and chocolate?
Me: … ew! but no.
Pea: Potato chips and mint?
Me: EEWWWWW! You are good at this! Why are you so good at this, that is weird!


In other news, work remains difficult. Four of my six students have cried in my office in the past three work days. Two of them many times. I think we are nearing a point where we can move forward, but I will be constantly monitoring my lab dynamic from here on out, until I’m confident everyone is behaving properly – no recriminations, no retributions, no ongoing bad behaviours. It’ll be awkward, possibly forever, and that’s as best as I can manage. I am exasperated (KIDS! BEING DUMB! BUT THEY ARE ADULTS SO THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES) and still feeling shook up, as this incident has lead to conversations that have revealed my lab is not the happy family I had hoped in a few other ways (WHY ARE THEY ALL SO BAD AT BEING COLLEAGUES?). Hopefully it is an upswing from here, I’m pretty exhausted.

When everything breaks

I run a lab. I recruit graduate students. I act as mentor, advisor, teacher. I give advice about research and about being whole humans while doing research. I try to recruit students who are excited about science, genuine, and self-motivated. I actively work to foster an inclusive environment for my students.

As of Friday, my lab is embroiled in an ugly, shocking, disaster of a situation. Harassment, threats of violence, physical altercations. I see no good way out without losing one, if not both, of my best students. My lab dynamic is in tatters. I have meetings lined up with the ones directly involved tomorrow to figure out how we move forward so that everyone has a safe, comfortable, productive working environment.

It breaks my heart that it wasn’t already so. It crushes me that my judgement was off. I am buried in guilt that I did not know the harassment was a long-standing issue until it escalated this far. I genuinely do not know how to move my group forward from this, or how to make it healthy.

For the first time since starting this crazy job, I don’t want to go to work tomorrow.

* I have been in contact with ALL of the resources. I know I am not solely responsible for this. I am meeting with my Chair tomorrow. I already met with the campus police extensively on Friday. I know that I am not alone and that it will also be partly up to my students to find their way forward. But they are MY students in MY lab and I put them there and two have badly damaged my trust and I am so mad and sad and overwhelmed.

15 months

Spud is 15 months old. For the first 12 months of his life, Pea and I very dedicatedly filled out his baby book with updates and skills and likes and dislikes and all sorts of baby paraphernalia. Spud’s baby book switched to yearly updates for years 2-5, and Pea and I haven’t bothered to replace that update option yet.

I see Spud changing so quickly, and I love reading Turia’s monthly letters to her kids. I read E and P’s missives when Spud is coming up on a month, to see where he is like his cousins and where he is not. They are all three very different kids, but there are sometimes fun commonalities.

I’m not going to write Spud a letter, but I am going to put a little update here, a touchstone for the little person he is at this moment, so I can remember clearly later.

Sleep: Spud has been down to one nap for a little over a month, after a lengthy transition from two to one. He wakes up around 6:30-7:30 in the morning, naps around 12:30 for 1.5-3 hours, and goes to bed at about 7:30 each night. A good solid nap is 2 hours, anything longer is gravy. He is up once a night, sometimes two, rarely more. He sleeps in his crib, with white noise, and in a sleep sack with his little bear lovey. He nurses to sleep 90% of the evenings, with the rest being 8% chatting for ten min and 2% complete nightmare refusal with much wailing, causes unknown. He falls asleep on his own for naps every day, and is usually asleep within 5-10 min, unless it’s the weekend and we’ve taken him somewhere fun, in which case he more often catnaps after extreme parental settling efforts, or just refuses the nap entirely. He is quite cheerful when tired, but gets manic-happy and clumsy as time goes on.

Food: Spud eats three square meals a day, with one or two solid snacks. He drinks 8-13 oz of breastmilk during the day, depending on what I’ve pumped. He nurses 3-4 times on top of that. He eats just about everything, in large quantities, aside from his allergens (milk, soy, chocolate, egg).

Language: Spud’s vocabulary has taken off quite a bit in the last month. He says bye (while waving), bath, bubble, bird, banana, bus, blue, car, moon (which now means anything in the sky), squirrel, his nanny’s name, and maaayyyyybe mom. He will growl like a tiger, meow like a cat, baa like a sheep, and quack like a duck when he sees those animals. He’s not super chatty but will occasionally come out with full sentences of Ewok gibberish to punctuate all of his pointing. He chats to himself in the crib while falling asleep if he’s taking his time about it, or, more often, sings himself to sleep with little woooos.

Likes: Spud loves being outside, playing at parks and watching the cars on the busy street near us. He likes playing tag, but is like the opposite of a Whovian Stone Angel, as he only runs to catch you if you are looking at him. He is very interested in colouring and stickers at the moment, along with painting when he can convince me or his nanny to deal with the mess. He is obsessed with his fridge magnets, and will transfer all 40 of them from fridge to dishwasher and back again multiple times a day. He never met a strawberry he didn’t like, and pasta with meat sauce guarantees he eats more than we believe should be possible. He reads ALL the time, it is his go-to for entertainment. He likes dancing to electro-swing and Disney songs, and thinks Daddy dipping him while dancing a tango is hilarious. He is an explorer rather than an adventurer – he wants to know what is around the corner, but if it was a mountain I’m not sure he would climb it. He still loves group cuddles with his stuffies, but spends more time with stacking toys and puzzles now. He loves bubble baths and will insistently point at the bottle until he sees it added to the bath, at which point he watches the bubbles form with gleeful fascination.

Dislikes: For reasons unknown, blueberries have been suddenly and thoroughly spurned for two months now. He hates having his diaper changed unless he can hold a book. He is terrified of the (admittedly very weird looking) Humpty Dumpty puppet book we own. He hates the shower and is frightened by the smoke detector and the hand blender (but loves the coffee grinder?).

Physical milestones: Spud is still very tall and also quite solid. He weighs about 25 lbs, and can now reach the third shelf of everything, and the edge of the top of the stove. He’s become interested in doorknobs and is tall enough to reach and turn them (though hasn’t successfully yet), so we’re now keeping the front door locked at all times.  He is unexpectedly strong, able to pick up pretty heavy items and totter around with them. Spud walks well, and has graduated to a pretty quick shuffle-jog – it is almost a run. He can’t jump, unless he’s on the couch where the springs help him out. He’s in 12-18 and 18-24 month clothing for the most part, but the 12-18 are starting to strain for most brands. Spud can hold a spoon or a fork and get it in his mouth 98% of the time, but hasn’t quite figured out loading new food onto them yet – he’s close. He can stack 4-5 blocks, is an ace at peg puzzles, and is trying to learn how to snap his fingers. He loves getting his hands dirty and into weird things, like shaving cream or mud, but when done with an activity will briskly dust his hands together, with mixed, often spray-like results.

Attitude: Spud remains a chill little kid. He is happy to see people he loves arrive, but generally unfussed when they leave. He’s shy with new people for a while, but warms up once they’ve proven themselves willing to read to him. He is quiet but cheerful, and has been generally very snuggly this month. He wants people to pay attention to what he’s pointing at, and demands the names of items near-constantly. He is showing some independence – demanding specific activities, protesting plans he doesn’t agree with (e.g., bum changes), and making his needs known through pointing and gestures.

Melt your heart:

  • Spud LOVES reading, and will happily entertain himself paging through his extensive library, but he likes it best when he can sit in your lap and share a story. He has taken to choosing a book and then following us around the house nudging it against our legs until one of us sits down. He then tosses the book in our lap, turns around, and backs up until he’s sitting in our lap – plonk!
  • Spud gives enthusiastic full body hugkisses where he presses his face against yours with a full body wrap of squirming toddler. It could throw your back out but it’s amazing.

Microblog Mondays: Hardback

microblog_mondays I have been reading Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series. I have been reading it for a very long time, or a very very long time, depending on if you count me starting the series when I was in Grade 7, getting to book three and giving up because book 4 wasn’t out yet, starting the series again during my undergraduate, getting to book 8 and giving up because the main character wasn’t even IN that 800-page book, Jordan’s health was declining, and I didn’t really see an option where he actually finished the series, or starting the series anew last August.

In the intervening years, Jordan did pass away, with ten books completed and the remaining novel partially written and heavily planned out/annotated. His family and publisher brought in a new writer to finish the book, and, in the first inklings that this venture was going to be a success, promptly pulled a very Jordan-like move in expanding the planned book to span three volumes. All three have been written and published for some time now, and so I decided to read the series in full. I wanted something escapism-heavy, and a gigantic epic of fantasy seemed to be the right thing.

Jordan’s characters experience personal development at a snail’s pace. His women are strong and capable, his men conflicted and terrible with emotions. He puts more detail into the clothing his characters are wearing than could ever be considered necessary. His world is fascinating, and is the main reason I am still reading.

I read the first thirteen books (an estimated 10,000 pages) on my kindle, but my electronic source for the 14th book failed me. I took Spud to the library yesterday and borrowed the 14th and final volume in hardback, all 910 pages of it. It is a behemoth, and I cannot envision slogging it to work and back, so my reading dynamic (and speed) will likely decrease.

I’m looking forward to reading it, and finding out what happens after all these years.

I’m really looking forward to being done.


Friends, Spud and I have been sick for two weeks with an ugly, energy-sapping, ropy-mucous coughing cold. He was sleeping badly for a week of it, so Pea and I are both ragged at the edges.

In the midst of this cold, I have still been (1) teaching my new-to-me course, (2) editing my four student’s proposals for their defenses in the upcoming two weeks, (3) organizing a fieldwork trip to BBQ County, to a new site, to sample in a new way, where I am sending my students and not myself because I am teaching (see (1)).

The course has one lecture left, which I am splitting between the last two time slots to allow for online course evaluations and a really cool TedTalk (my throat hurts, and talking for 50 min is a serious struggle still).

Three of my students have submitted their proposals to their committees, two have completed their practice presentations. There is a light at the end of the editing tunnel, though I know it to be the light of abject awkwardness. Listening to your students bumble through questions is a special type of torture.

The fieldwork is done, and the samples are back in the country. My students will be back later tonight. From all accounts, it went really well. We have five days to get the reimbursement paperwork in before the fiscal year deadlines drop, so that’s a smaller, but still important scramble to come.

My throat is on fire, and my chest muscles are strained from coughing. I want nothing more than to retire to my bed for five days, but it cannot happen, this semester will not allow it. Now that my schedule is easing, there are two grants due.

I love my job, but I need to figure out a better balance than “Come hell or high water, I’ll be there!”. I don’t let my students come to work this sick, I’m running up a giant hypocrite tab.