New State of the Wedge


Time to update my Who page, and give an update on what I’m up to in general!

Yes, I am working full time; I started part time when Z was about 2 months old, not because I had to, but because I wanted to. You read that right. My brain is wired to crave adult interaction over sufficiently complex material. Plus, Z was making up for her demanding disposition during the day by sleeping really well at night (waking only once a night by the time she was 10 weeks old), so I had the energy. When she was a little over 3 months old, I started in full time and haven’t looked back.

My new gig is a combination of technical writing and consulting, and thus far I am loving it. I work almost entirely from home, giving me the flexibility to nurse Z, which was important at the beginning when she refused to drink from a bottle. Now that it’s summer, J is also around (both kids are home with our new nanny) which is more challenging, as he is more persistent about wanting to interact with me when I am supposed to be working. I’ve been trying to make a point of having lunch dates with him, and I do like that.

Amusingly (and perhaps, not surprisingly) I have had trouble letting go of the “kids-are-in-bed-must-work-now” inner voice that developed hard core during thesis defense prep. You’d think that over 2 full months of maternity leave would beat that out of me, but no. I still get that itch to pull out my laptop when both kids are in bed. On one hand, it’s a good indication that I like my work; it’s not because of time crunch, but because I genuinely want to work. On the other hand, it’s about time I picked back up all the hobbies that have dropped by the wayside in the past year or so. I’ve got some sewing projects I’ve picked up, and shot an engagement photo session for one of my best friends. I’m also working on getting SCUBA certified for our anniversary trip back to Kauai next month. (Sans babies… gonna have to figure out the logistics of pumping breastmilk on a diveboat!)

J has had both ups and downs with the adjustment to being a big brother. He clearly adores Z, and loves to play with her. His main problems have been (A) he doesn’t know his own strength, and is too rough with her or throws things at her head, and (B) he’s become ridiculously clingy, mostly to his father, but also to me at times. He also seems to be going through a defiant stage which initially threw us for a loop… he never went through the terrible twos/threes, so we were not prepared for this!

Thankfully, R’s work has not taken him out of town too often, so we’ve had lots of time to enjoy our new family of four. He’s continued his tradition of letting me sleep in on the weekends by taking both kids (so long as Z isn’t nursing) and doing almost all the cooking.

All in all, post PhD, life is pretty damned awesome.

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I wanna see you be brave


ImageAll parents want their children to learn to hold their own. It was not something that I was anxious about when J was a baby, although as he grew I did come to worry that he has more of a follower personality (that’s a story for another post). What I mean is that it never really kept me up at night. He’ll find his own way.

But when I found out our second baby was going to be a girl, it DID keep me up at night. I found myself worrying about how to prepare my daughter for the inherently sexist world we live in.

Z’s 6 months old now, and I’m not really so worried anymore. This child is high-octane. Where J was mellow, she is ridiculously determined. She knows what she wants, and by george, she’s going to get it, and get it NOW, and if not, she lets us know. She was pushing herself up to sitting around 5 months, pulled up to standing last week, and is clearly trying to figure out how to cruise. She’s barely 17 lb of squealing, wriggling spitfire.

Z is strong-willed, and has a temper. I foresee major dramatics when she becomes a toddler, a teenager. That said, I’m glad she already knows how to be brave. I don’t have to worry about how the world treats her… the world is what needs to watch out. Just like J, I know she’ll find her own way.

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emotional vs rational


So much for me and NaBloPoMo. I wound up prioritizing sleep (hard to come by in third trimester, when you have a 4 year old running about) and work, and never quite finished any of the posts I had planned (lots of drafts, though, so I hope to finish those up in the coming weeks, now that I am off of work.)

Yes, I am off of work, been off since 12/18. Due date was 12/22. EVERYONE reassured me that second babies come early; after all, their own second babies came early, it must be true. This really rankled the scientist in me… your sample size of 1 proves that all second babies come early?

I tried to find some literature on second gestations, and found basically nothing. Not a surprise, I think medicine figured out a long time ago that predicting the EXACT day of birth is a useless exercise. I did find one blogger who, frustrated as I was, began collecting survey results on gestation length. The stats show that, excluding induced births, first time mothers had their babies on average at 39 weeks 5 days, and second time mothers had their babies on average at 39 weeks 6 days.

At a party full of my son’s classmates’ mothers, I tried to point this out, starting my rebuttal with “some statistics I saw…” I was roundly laughed at; “isn’t she cute, statistics!” I dropped the subject, but was surprised by that response. These weren’t uneducated women; the group included at least 2 doctors, a high level program manager at a major Silicon Valley tech company, and others of that type. No science deniers here; why would they brush off the math?

I guess, especially when it comes to our babies, even the most scientific of us are affected by anecdotal evidence. I was recently pointed towards this article, in which the author (a professor of epidemiology and pediatrics) says

“I’ve been increasingly impressed with the power of stories over statistics. So I’ve decided to branch out from my usual publication format and tell a few stories of my own.”

So even the epidemiologists feel the pull of anecdotal evidence over numbers.

Anyways, I stuck to my guns to the very end. J was 5 days late, so no way would #2 come early. I (and my OB) figured she’d be late, for sure.

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Turns out I should have paid more attention to the statistics. Z arrived at the exact average, 39 weeks and 6 days. 1 day early, on the winter solstice/apocalypse day. I was both wrong and right, I suppose.

Looking at her now, snoozing in my lap, I have to admit, a part of my brain thinks that it’s no wonder we defer to anecdotal evidence when it comes to our babies. She’s perfect, doesn’t the whole world work as she does? So much for being rational.

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We think highly of ourselves now, don’t we?


A sign in the parking lot last week that made me chuckle.

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An amusing play on the original phrase? A group with a bit of hubris? I suppose this IS Stanford, but geez :p

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Friday Funny


One of the things I look forward to on Fridays is lab meeting… guarantees that (unless I am presenting) I am going to have less hectic morning, AND free breakfast. (Is it sad that, after 6 years, I still like free food?)

There is actually a Stanford email list that posts alerts to free food on campus….

I wish I had seen this Krulwich post before meeting today. I am totally going to try making a mobius bagel next week.

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Yay women gamers!! Oh, wait…


Before lab meeting, I got into a conversation with a female labmate about Diablo III gameplay (we both have level 60+ wizards, in Inferno mode) and right then and there she opened Diablo III on her laptop to show me (much to the amusement of our other labmates).

It occurred to me that this occurrence is likely pretty rare… Two women gamers, both at the extreme high end of a first person slash and hack. I tried to google for the percentage of women Diablo III players, and 2 types of articles popped up: those complaining about stereotyping women (both in game plot and costume) and those discussing how many men prefer to play the sexy looking women characters.

Oh well. Girl Power? Is it a bad thing that I really didn’t blink at how the male characters are covered and the females wear metal bras? I just want to explode stuff! (Honestly, I am usually making fun of R for how ridiculous his barbarian looks.)

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We voted


I picked J up an hour and a half early from after school care, and he was expecting me.

He happily chatted up a storm in the backseat as I drove to city hall to turn my mail in ballot, and contemplated how much has changed and yet stayed the same since 4 years ago. J turned 8 weeks old on Election Day 2008, and I keenly felt not only the momentous historical shift of that night, but also the tectonic personal shift. I was voting for my child that day, 4 years ago. Today, I voted for my children.

I could’ve placed my ballot in the mail a week ago, like R, but it felt important to me to have J help me push my envelope into the box.

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Happy boy about to enter the polls

We all have our reasons to vote one way or another, but I hope that we can remember that we ALL vote with our best intentions. Whether for our families, our businesses, our communities.

I voted for marriage equality, for women’s reproductive rights, for healthcare reform, for advancement of science/technology, for my children’s future. What motivated you?

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