Author Archives: labmonkeyftw

bedtime bothers

Spud is not happy about being weaned. Right now he nurses in the mornings once he wakes up (or once it is seven am, whichever comes later). He was perfectly happy dropping the bedtime nurse so long as he got a sippy of breast milk during the bedtime routine. He was also fine with a sippy of almond milk once the freezer stash ran out. So perhaps I should rephrase: Spud is not happy that we’ve taken away his evening drink. He didn’t seem all that worried about what form it came in.

We phased it out early last week, in hopes of having toothbrushing happen after any food for the day. Better for his teeth. We’re offering almond milk with dinner in place of the sippy after bath. All bedtimes from then have been terrible: a previously self-soothing child squalling fretfully in his crib, with multiple pop-ins from parents for yet another lullaby and cuddle.

I don’t think that he misses the nursing cuddles, as we’re still cuddling and reading and singing together for about the same amount of time.

I don’t think he is hungry, as he’s been eating excellent dinners the whole week.

I think he might be thirsty, as he is chronically under-hydrated, but if we give him a drink right before bed then it is a strain for his diaper to make it to morning (a second reason for the removal of the nighttime drink).

Yesterday I tried floating orange slices in his water bottle, and he drank the lot, so that was progress. He still wasn’t happy about bedtime though.

He seems very tired and interested in sleep, but not quite able to tip over the edge. He was previously pretty reliable for this, so I’m baffled. Maybe it’s just an adjustment period, but I’m sad that he’s sad.


Walk around the block summer salad

This conversation ensues between 4-25 times a day at my house:

Spud: Stuk-un. Stuk-un!
Me: The construction?
Spud: smiles Digg-e
Me: With the digger.
Spud: Buh-bul
Me: And the bulldozer.
Spud: looks worried Raw-rah
Me: AND the roller!
Spud: Stuk-un!

When I get home from work, this conversation nearly always happens:

Spud: Doh-do! pointing
Me: Your stroller!
Spud: Doh-do! Stuk-un!
Me: You want to go see the construction in your stoller?
Spud: valiantly attempts to get into our non-climb-up-friendly stroller
Me: ok, we can go for a walk to see the construction.

Which is supplemented this week with:

Me: But remember, they have finished! So there are no more machines there, they have all gone to new places to do construction. (a very sad development for our household)

Yesterday I was supposed to make cauliflower and chickpea curry for dinner when I got home, but I didn’t want curry and Spud wanted to go see the newly paved ex-construction site. So we wandered off for a happy twenty minutes or so, in which we saw two planes, a small front-loader, a large forklift, three blue cars, two squirrels, and a crow that obligingly cawed back at Spud.

So here is a recipe for a relatively quick summer salad, making use of random things we had in the fridge. Spud friendly, both for allergens, and for him being willing to eat half his body weight in it.

Prep time: 10-30 minutes depending on success of independent play. Cook time: 25 min.


1 cauliflower, roughly chopped
4 ears of corn, shucked
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1/4 red onion, diced very small
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
1 can black beans, rinsed
Handful of parsley and basil from the garden
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Dijon mustard


1 – preheat the oven to 400 F. Dump the cauliflower on a baking tray, slop some olive oil on it, and stir the cauliflower around to coat. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring/flipping halfway through.

2 – boil water in a large pot. Boil the corn for 4 minutes. Bonus points if you can stick the zucchini in a steamer above the corn water. If you can’t, toss the chopped zucchini in a bowl, add some water, put a plate over it, and steam in the microwave for 4 minutes on high.

3 – Allow corn and zucchini to cool somewhat while you read a book about mice and cookies. Slice the corn off the cobs once cool enough to handle.

4 – Dump chickpeas, black beans, red onion, zucchini, and corn in a large bowl. The cauliflower is probably still cooking. Send one tall and one small person out to get garden herbs and eat garden-ripe tomatoes while you wash up the surprising number of pans and pots this ad-hoc recipe has generated.

5 – Wash and chop parsley and basil while cauliflower cools. Eat the garden ripe tomato that was brought inside for you. Combine parsley and basil with olive oil, balsamic, and mustard for a dressing.

6 – Toss everything together in large bowl. Call everyone to dinner.

7 – Wash a few more things while a diaper is changed.

8 – Serve and enjoy!


Summer quiet

I knew when I carved out July for myself, for focus on my lab, as a lull in the tsunami of emails, committees, and teaching, that I’d have to be careful not to get distracted or relax too much.

I’ve done pretty well so far. Last week was very productive, including buying a server for my group, a critical piece for our work, but one which daunted me. I’d procrastinated for over a year on this purchase, but it is now wending its way through the administrative maze required for this size of expenditure. I also resubmitted the paper with my visiting collaborator*, which had been punted directly back for being out of scope for the journal we’d targeted (fair) – it’s now out to review at the second choice, so that’s going better! This week I’ve edited a student’s independent research course final essay to turn it into a submissible mini-review paper. I just sent it back to the student this afternoon, with two tiny questions that need answering before we can submit it.

I have two more papers on my hot seat, neither one of which is remotely written. I have two more big challenges within my lab: getting two pieces of equipment up and running that I am familiar with but, again, daunted by.

I also have a head cold. Or a second head cold? It’s unclear. Certainly Spud was sick at the end of last month, and Pea and I caught that cold over the long weekend. Spud then seemed to regress last week, but as I’d started eating dairy, and he’d had his 18 month vaccinations, it wasn’t clear if he was sick sick, or just feeling icky. I had marginally improved last week, and then woke up yesterday with a sinus headache and a waterfall for a nose.

I didn’t get much done yesterday, aside from the four meetings I had scheduled. I have not gotten much of anything done today. I’m working from home, and I’m just so fuzzy-headed.

My brain is chastising me for being sub-productive in this, my critical productive month. I’m letting it, but I’m also letting that criticism wash on past, as I really do feel like garbage. I have essentially four full, uninterrupted weeks to work before Pea and Spud and I fly overseas for a holiday. I feel good about this and my to-do list.



* my visiting researcher did, in the end, buckle down and write a giant, excellent chunk of this paper. It took a team effort to get it out the door, but I wasn’t left on my own with it as I’d worried.

A million tiny happy things

In brief.

  • A workshop with three people I admire, who do great work, who wanted to meet me, who were as excited as I am about my current research
  • The first talk filled exclusively with research results from my own group, a new story to tell, a new set of slides made and shared
  • A weekend in the mountains with my guys, with unexpectedly long (!) hikes, snuggle-naps with Spud on my lap in planes, unexpected sunshiny days after a forecast of unremitting rain
  • Pointing out fiery microbial mats in cool springs in the mountains, and having Spud tell me the colours – “ooo”, “yah-yah”, “reh” (orange/yellow/red)
  • A month ahead with no travel, no meetings (beyond the usual Tuesday/Wednesday glut), and three papers on the go, all from my lab
  • Rumblings in the deep – every two weeks I’m spotting now, with attendant crampity things, making me think my system is either trying to get going again or has begun the normal PCOS nonsense. Is this better than total silence? I’m not sure yet


July is MY month. I carved it out over time, for the past five months. It is my month to get some real work done. It is my month to focus on my lab and none of the other noisy things in my job. It is my month to get on top of my personal care – I need new glasses badly, and started but immediately slacked on some physio. I want to run more, sleep more, read more, write more, breathe more deeply, and laugh with my delightful family.

It’s the 4th of July, and I submitted proofs this morning for a book chapter written in 2016. I’ve edited a student’s Ph.D. proposal. I have an article to resubmit today, and edits for a student’s thesis to make. I have papers to write and things to think about. I have equipment purchases to make. It is going to be a busy July, but such a good one.

News in brief

I’m home for the day with Spud while his nanny is at an appointment. We ran a lot of errands this morning, capped with half an hour at the park as a reward for us both (it was meant to be longer, but.. errands).

Some funnies from the last few weeks:

Spud: watching a lawnmower across the way: Na-nu! Na-nu! Vrrrroom. Vrrroom!
Me: Yes, that’s a lawnmower. A laawwwwwwnn mohhhhhwerrrrr.
Spud: looking at me very seriously Naaaaaaaaaa-nuuuuuuuuuuu

Pea: I think I’m going to have to buy the big Millenium Falcon LEGO.
Me: The big one? (note, it is 5 feet across when assembled!)
Pea: Yes! I’m going to have to. No choice.
Me: The small one you already have just won’t cut it, hey?
Pea: Well, I was already thinking about getting the big one, and then it went out of stock and out of print. But it is back! I am worried I will miss it.
Me: laughing  Oh dear! Yes, best get it then.
Pea: delighted wiggle dance

Whoops, Spud just woke up. More later. This was, at least, a 2 hr 45 min nap in which I edited a paper that is this close to submission.

freedom from tyranny

Or in my case, the pump.

Today is the first day I’ve left for work since July 4th of last year that I haven’t brought the pump with me. That I haven’t carved 30-90 minutes out of my day to sit, in the dark, in my office, serenaded by the whump-whirr of the motor. That I won’t have to package everything up to take home, to scald milk carefully to between 165-180 F, to wash all the little bits and bobs in hot soapy water, and leave them to air dry until they can be packaged up to go back to work the next day.

It has been approximately 245 days of pumping, not including random extras when I was away from Spud for travel or fun.

Spud has been without breast milk during the day for two weeks now, but I’ve still been pumping to rebuild the freezer stash for my week away at the end of June. He’s taken to it with no complaints, but does seem hungrier in general. We feed him almond milk during the day as a calcium-infused water – there’s not much to it nutritionally, but it’s a nice white and creamy replacement to ease the transition.

I pumped over a 24 hour period this week while away at a workshop, for a grand total of 10 ounces! Down from 18 oz/24 hours in mid-April! I was pumping twice in the day then, but morning and evening pumps were both several ounces larger than they are now. I think Spud has been ratcheting down his intake simultaneous to my dropping one pumping session in the day, or perhaps my supply is just tanking on its own. I’m distraught that it is less, but also know that less is where we are aiming right now, so am resigned to it.

I am not sorry in any way to see the pump retired*, but I am still a bit sad to see this aspect of my role as mother beginning to wane.


* until the week after next when I’m away for a conference and will pump morning and night for five days, ha. Sigh.


On Monday I spent a bunch of time running around trying to get some samples shipped to a lab in a nearby city. It was tricky because I had to leave for a workshop the next day, and so wasn’t going to be there in the morning to pack them on ice. How much ice to survive two days instead of one? Would the samples be ok? I packed them up, left them at the parcel drop off, and hoped for the best. To do item complete!

The next day, I got ready for the workshop, hopped in the car, and drove to the very building that I had just shipped the samples to. I only realized that I could have just brought the samples with me and dropped them off in person once I was halfway there.

I compartmentalize intensely, but I have never before done so so thoroughly as to miss an obvious and impeccable solution to a thorny problem!

I felt quite silly.

The samples arrived safely, and the workshop went well, but it’s still pretty funny.