Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Let me first say that Sophie's surgery went well. I'll get back to the details, but I wanted to make sure you knew that first :)

This past week has been very challenging in lots of different ways. I don't think Sophie will nap long enough for me to get into all of them, but let me just say that it has really made me prioritize my life a little bit.

First: Sophie. Poor little thing. She has been so cranky (well, cranky for her, which isn't all that bad). She doesn't want to sit still, doesn't want to eat, and just has random bouts of crying. We took her to my departmental party on Friday, and she alternated between having a great time and wanting nothing to do with anything. My department rented out the Natural History Museum, and we had free run of the place. We actually got to eat in the main hall, underneath the dinosaur skeletons! It was pretty awesome. Tim was like a kid in a candy store. He was trying to teach Sophie all the names of the animals. I, on the other hand, was pointing to things like leopards and saying, "Look Sophie, big kitty!"

Sophie had a great time when we let her out of the stroller to run around. They have all of these stuffed animals (like real animals, not plush ones) set up in dioramas. Sophie loved running up to the glass and yelling at them :) As long as she was free, she was fine. Trying to get her to sit still and eat was something else. Tim ended up scarfing his food (which was ok, but not great) so that he could walk around with Sophie while I ate. We packed it in about 9. From the stories I've heard, it sounds like people got a little goofy after we left. Fortunately, no dinosaurs were injured.

Saturday I figured out why Sophie might be cranky. Not only were her ears bothering her, but she was popping both the upper and lower molars on the right side. That would make anyone cranky!

Saturday night Jen came up and made the midnight CVS run with me. We got most of the free stuff we wanted, but we hit another CVS at 7 AM to try and get the rest (without much success). I went to church later in the morning while Tim stayed with a fussy Sophie. My friend Katie from Alaska came over Sunday afternoon, and Sophie was in a good mood long enough to have some fun playing.

Things were going really well until about dinner time on Sunday. We were trying to get organized for Sophie's surgery on Monday morning. Since I had to stay at work after the surgery, we figured we'd drive two cars to the hospital Monday morning. Tim went out about 7 PM to fill up his car with gas so he didn't have to go in the morning. I started getting Sophie ready for bed. He called me about 15 minutes later to say that his car wouldn't start. He got to the gas station fine, but after he pumped, the car wouldn't turn over. It was in the single digits temperature-wise, so we thought maybe that was an issue.

He called AAA at 7:15, and they said they couldn't have someone there until 9:30!!! Seriously? We needed it towed just up the road to the mechanic. There are tons of tow shops around, and he had to wait more than two hours?

This also meant I had to keep Sophie awake so that I could pack her up and take my car to pick up Tim once he dropped the truck at the mechanic's place. So, I kept little feisty-pants up. We finally all got home before ten. And we had to get up at 5 AM the next morning.

Sophie was NPO after she went to bed, and all I could think about Monday morning was how pissed she was going to be when she woke up and realized she couldn't have anything to eat or drink. The plan was to have everything packed in the car and literally pick Sophie up from her crib and put her in the carseat still asleep. We had decent success with that.

Driving into the hospital at 6 AM, the thermometer outside said it was 0 degrees. And it was dark and windy. There is a tunnel from the parking garage to the hospital, but it was still frigid. We had Sophie wrapped in a big fleece blanket to keep her warm. She really put up with it well.

We checked into pre-op about 6:30 AM. They weighed her and had us change her into this (absolutely adorable) tiny hospital gown. She was wide awake by this point, but she was so curious as to what was going on that she wasn't upset about being hungry. For a while, anyway.

We saw the nurse, the resident, the anesthesiologist, and the surgeon. And then we waited. We were second in line, but Sophie didn't get in until a little after 8. By that time, she was bored, hungry, and had had enough. We walked with her, next to her little crib, until we got to the surgery double doors. It was the saddest thing--she was sitting up in her crib, and she turned around to look at us. That was the first time she looked scared. It absolutely broke my heart.

We sat in the waiting room, jumping every time we heard a baby cry, for about 25 minutes. We saw them wheel her into recovery as they went past the waiting room. She had a mask on and was still under anesthesia. I wanted to run to her, but we had to wait 15 minutes until they had her off the anesthesia. That was terrible--I was glad she was done, but I was literally twitching because I wanted to see her so badly.

When they finally took us back, she was off of anesthesia but asleep in her crib. We waited for a few minutes until she woke up. When she did, she had the most pitiful cry. I held her and rocked her, and she went back to sleep for a bit. We were able to give her some juice when she got up again. Once she had eaten, she was much calmer. It was obvious that the anesthesia hadn't worn all the way off yet. We changed her and bundled her, and then I walked Sophie and Tim back to the car. I absolutely did not want to have to walk next door and go to work, but I knew I had to. All I wanted to do was hold my baby.

Tim said she slept the whole way home, and she slept the whole morning too. The surgeon told us that she actually was developing an infection in her ears before surgery, so he had to suction some infected fluid out. That meant 10 days of antibiotic drops instead of 3. Tim got her up at noon to have some milk and tylenol, and they drove back up to pick me up at 1.

It was so hard to focus during my rat surgeries, but I knew I needed to get done and get home to Sophie. I felt bad that Sophie had to take another car ride, but I didn't have a car. Tim bundled her up and cranked the heat the whole way up. She was semi-awake the entire car ride. Sophie and I dropped Tim off at the mechanic's on the way home to pick up his truck (bad battery and corroded connection, $250). When we got home, Sophie was actually pretty awake. She had some food, and then she wanted to play.

Already she was acting like a different baby. I think she can hear better, and she's verbalizing more. Her balance is a little better too. And even with those nasty molars coming in, she was in a much better mood. For instance, Tim had a dentist appointment a little after 6 PM, and I needed to fill Sophie's prescription. So I bundled her up and headed to the store. It should've been a quick drop-off. Instead, we drove 15 minutes west to a Rite Aid, but they didn't have the drops. So we drove 20 minutes east from there and tried a Walgreen's. No drops. So it was back west again to Giant Eagle, and they finally had them. Through three stops, getting in and out of the car, Sophie was an angel. Not a peep. She seemed semi-alert, but very calm. It was amazing.

I finally picked the drops up at 8 PM, right before bed for her. She didn't love them, but afterwards she had a bottle and went right to bed. I'm sure she was exhausted.

My sister Amy came up Monday night, and she stayed with Sophie on Tuesday. I was able to get home about noon after finishing some rat echoes. Sophie was having a great time, playing and tooling around the house. She still had moments of tantrums, but overall she was good.

My parents and Jen came up for a few hours to make the Christmas lasagnas (we're trying something different this year). Then, it was just Tim, Sophie, and I last evening.

Tim and I also had some other bad news this weekend. His grandma had fallen and broken her hip several weeks ago, and she had it fused. Since the surgery, she has not been dong well. She's in her late 80's, diabetic for decades, and has a slew of other medical problems. She's now very depressed because she's lost the little mobility she did have. She doesn't want to be in a nursing home, she's in a lot of pain but doesn't want pain medicine, and she's generally given up. To top it off, the stomach flu was going around the nursing home. I'm not sure if grandma got it, but they've taken her back to the hospital for other issues. And his entire extended family (minus his dad, who wore a face mask like they suggested), caught the stomach flu from the nursing home. Because everyone is sick, they are canceling Christmas Eve.

Last night, we really had some time to reflect on all of this (and other things as well). We both were awed by how quickly things can change. Last week, the biggest concern about Christmas was whether his cousin's kids would leave the dogs alone. Now, there is no Christmas on his side, and we're worried about how long his grandma will be around.

It just made us realize how thankful we are. I personally am very guilty of overlooking the big picture for the day to day stresses. There's so much busy-ness in my life. My daily to-do list seems overwhelming, but I fail to take a step back. We have a roof over our head, food on the table, and we are all in fairly good health. We have loving families, and we love each other very much. There has been so much happening in the last week that has affected each of these items that I take for granted. It made me realize that I need to be more in-tune to the big picture. I don't want to look back at my life and realize all I did was "make it through" on a daily basis. I know that saying "stop and smell the roses" is trite, but it's really something I need to work on.

I will get to see some of my mom and dad's family over Christmas, which I am thankful for. And hopefully we'll have a rescheduled Christmas on Tim's side this weekend. Sophie's recovering, we are (so far) healthy, and the temperature is back up into a reasonable-but-still-cold range. We don't have gifts or fancy decorations, but we have each other. And for as much of a cliche as that is, it's really all we need.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Typical holiday craziness

I really do have good intentions of updating more. Things have just been nuts, which is typical of my life in general but especially around holiday time. I'll try to give you the brief overview:

-Winter is here in Cleveland. And then it leaves. And then it can't decide, so we have mornings like today when it snows/sleets/rains all in the same morning, making things very icy. I don't love the commute, especially when it takes almost two hours, but what can you do?

-As I mentioned in the previous post, Sophie is going to get her tympanostomy on Monday morning. We don't have a time yet--for whatever reason, they assign times from 6-9 PM the night before, so I have to call tonight. But everyone has said that the procedure to put in the ear tubes is relatively quick. I hope she does ok. I didn't want to do it this soon before Christmas, but I also didn't want to wait another couple of months. So if Monday is what they had open, Monday is when we'll do it.

-I finally got the Christmas trees physically up this weekend, with help from Tim. They have lights but no decorations, and it may just stay that way. It's easier than chasing Sophie down constantly so she doesn't touch the breakable ones. And it looks pretty now, so I'm good with it.

-I can't believe Christmas is next week! What is it about this year--everyone I have talked to feels a month behind. I know Thanksgiving was a bit later than usual this year, but still, I am nowhere near ready!

-We're doing a (mostly) gift free Christmas again this year. Thank God. I would be shopping non-stop from now until Christmas if I was buying gifts.

-However, this Sunday is going to be a crazy good CVS-ing day, so I am going to do a midnight run to roll my ECBs from Black Friday. I love not spending money but coming home with bags of stuff! I've really scaled back the deal shopping recently. First, I don't need the stuff--why get it if I don't need it? I'm already looking to donate a lot of what I have. Second, my time is too valuable to do deals just for the sake of doing them. It takes a lot of time to prep for the perfect shopping run. I'd rather spend that time with Sophie and Tim. Every now and again there are things that entice me to go out. But I started deal shopping to save money, not to spend every waking minute obsessed with it. And obsessed is something I do well--I've had to keep myself in check.

-The lab is really good. Experiments are generating data, although not totally coherent data. But it's something. We had a really fun time last week at the lab Christmas party. It's so nice to be in a group of people that are normal, as far as scientists go. I really liked having Kim, Ming, and Valerie in the old lab, but there was tension on the higher levels. In this lab, everyone gets along with everyone. It's a great change of pace.

-And now, the plan is for the postdoc in the lab to help "girlifie" me before the scientific meeting we are going to in April. I told her it'll be an uphill battle :)

-I'm really looking forward to having some family time this holiday. I have a TON of work to do to prep for my first class (Jan. 10!), but I also need to decompress.

-And, my friend from Alaska is coming into town today, and my sister is flying in from California on Sunday. Woo hoo for the west coasters!

-My other sister turns 21 next weekend, so that will also be something fun to plan :)

-In general, life is crazy busy. My house is a total wreck--half emptied totes of Christmas stuff, newspapers I haven't read yet, and general clutter everywhere--but it's a happy house. Sophie is so non stop now. She's running everywhere. And she has the most hysterical laugh. We had dinner at my parent's house last night, and my dad was playing with her. He'd just move her wooden blocks and talk in a silly voice, and she was laughing so hard she could barely stand up. It's adorable.

-Overall, I am working hard to keep some balance. Ironically, I'm reading a book right now that someone gave me about work-life balance. I'm three quarters of the way through, and basically all it has said is that balance is hard. Umm, really? Want to pay me to write a book that says the same thing?

-But, when I am home, I try to spend time with Sophie while she's awake. Once she's in bed, I take some time to relax. And Tim and I have had a lot of time to catch up too. We're always good about keeping in touch, but it's been nice to really have some thoughtful discussions. And some not-so-thoughtful ones. That's what football is for!

-So, even though I haven't been able to keep the house as pristine as I like, I have had time to organize in discrete pockets. Cleaning the garage all day last Saturday was very cathartic for me. I'm hoping to do something similar with the main living area of the house. Hopefully before the clutter swallows me up. But I'm working hard to not be a perfectionist about everything.

-That goes for some of my more personal issues too. I really haven't dedicated my energy to the weight loss/exercise arena as much as I'd like. Looks like it'll be another perennial new year's resolution. But I'm trying to cut myself some slack. It's been a busy year and beyond for us. I'm succeeding in not gaining weight, which is a fight in itself. Nothing like the holidays for some emotional eating! The losing of weight will be a priority soon. There is just a lot of other things that need to be taken care of first.

So, no deep thoughts for now. Hopefully over the holidays I'll have some time to get reflective. I don't get all of the break off from work--just Christmas, New Year's, and the two days afterwards (since they are Fridays). I actually have to go back into work for surgeries after Sophie's surgery on Monday. Talk about mommy guilt! But there was no other time to rearrange the surgeries, so I have to do it that way. Tim will be home with her. I'll be home as soon as my surgeries are done. And then we can all hang out together :)

As far as Christmas cards go, I've given up for this year. I haven't even taken her picture yet. I am debating sending out after-Christmas cards, maybe with a picture of her opening presents, but we'll see. So, if you were waiting for a card, let me say it now: Merry Christmas!

I'll try to post more soon, but I'll definitely update you after her surgery. Wish us luck...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More to come

Lots to update--super fun lab party Friday night, lots of cleaning/organizing/decorating over the weekend, etc. But the biggie is that the decision was to get Sophie tubes for her ears. And the doctor called on Friday--we have surgery on the 22nd (as in Monday). So I'm trying to get things organized for that. Lots more on that topic later...just checking in.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Of course

So, I have to get up pretty early some mornings (5ish) to be into work in time to have my experiments set up. These days are usually Thursday and Friday at a minimum. So, being Friday, today was one of those days.

Of course, since I had to be in early, everything went wrong.

Of course I didn't get up on time.

Of course my water bottle filled with diet coke was leaking, and it spilled all over the front seat of my car.

Of course my gas light was on when I got in the car, so I had to stop for gas.

Of course there was an accident on my entrance ramp to the highway as I was getting gas 100 yards away.

Of course I didn't see the accident until I was already on the ramp. The same ramp that was narrow and had concrete barriers on the side because of the construction. The same ramp that curves sharply as it goes up a hill.

Of course I was stuck in a long line of cars on the ramp. And starting with the cars behind me, we all had to back down the ramp. The tiny, curvy, narrow, concrete barricaded ramp. In the dark. In reverse.

Of course by the time the cops came to direct traffic, I was nearly off the ramp.

Of course that meant that I got in half an hour late.

It's not the end of the world, but by the time I got in, I think I had said the word, "Seriously?!?" about 100 times.

And, due to my own fault, I didn't get the lab gifts finished, the veggies bought, or the meatballs made for the lab party tonight. I should have enough time (hopefully) to get them done this afternoon before the party. Just another way I'm stressing myself out.

Here's hoping I've hit my bad luck quota for the month. Such is life, I suppose.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Uh oh

I just got an email from my alma mater, where I am teaching in the spring. Apparently, the class I am teaching is high demand and actually closed out, and there is a waiting list of students trying to get in. Now, a class of 25 doesn't seem huge, but in my school, I think only organic chemistry had more than 20 students. Most were 10-15. And I have 25.

That's no biggie for the classroom stuff--more to grade, but doable. The issue is the lab. I had things set up for pairs of students, with just a few groups in the lab. This will definitely change that. They are even talking about finding me a TA!

I'm a little nervous about all of this. Actually, I'm petrified. I figured I could make it work with 10 students. Especially in the Weekend College--they are non-traditional students and generally eager to work hard. Now I think I have mostly traditional college students just taking the Weekend College course. That might be a different story.

Oh crap. What have I gotten myself into?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Done, part one

Thesis committee meeting over? Check.

One big thing off my to-do list. I really didn't have a lot of time to stress about it. I caught a nasty stomach bug on Friday and was vomiting before I even left work. That knocked me out Friday and Saturday. And of course, just as I'm starting to feel better, Tim came down with it. He didn't really have it to the extent that I did, but this weekend was still full of the (relatively) healthy parent watching Sophie while the other one was sick. And Sunday was spent decontaminating the entire house so that we wouldn't be sick any more.

My actual committee meeting was yesterday. I didn't even have time to think about it. We had animal sacrifices right up until the beginning of my meeting. While it's nice that I didn't have time to stress about it too much, I always like to have a few minutes to review my presentation and refresh myself. Didn't happen this time. I was a little nervous in the beginning. You'd think I'd be a pro by now, but this is the first meeting on my new topic, and I wanted to show them that I've been working hard the last seven weeks.

One thing that did help my nervousness was that Dr. B, my old boss, wasn't there. He left a message on my new boss's voicemail saying he couldn't find the room (and I believe him). Really though, it was better to have this first meeting not muddled with strange history and tension.

The meeting itself was fine. It took me a few minutes to calm down and be able to express my thoughts rationally. After that, it was a good conversation. The vibe I got in general was that they are happy with how things are going, and they are happy that I am happy. We've all tried to be politically correct about things, but when I was asked how things were going in the new space versus the old, I replied that it had, "reaffirmed my interest in science."

That's basically a nice way of saying that I didn't feel like I had made a huge mistake in choosing to be in the PhD. So much of my time spent in Dr. B's lab had me feeling like I was completely incompetent. I don't think I ever felt like I was being mentored or taught how to have a career in science. Things in the new lab are very busy (in a good way), but for the first time I actually feel like this is something I could see doing in the future. I am being challenged, but instead of having my ethics and values challenged, I'm being challenged as a scientist in a productive way. It's made all the difference in the world.

After a long weekend of being sick and all the stress of the upcoming committee meeting, I was exhausted. To my surprise, I actually got almost an entire night of sleep last night. I woke up and thought, "So this is what it feels like to actually get some rest!" I wasn't leaping out of bed or anything crazy like that, but I actually felt semi-functional.

It just goes to show that my stress affects me more than I like to realize. And to that, everyone that knows me yells a big, fat, "DUH!" I know, I know. I do know that things have been stressful recently--I've said so on here many times--but I like to think I function in spite of the stress. Sometimes I need to realize I'm only human. We all need a break now and then.

I don't really see a break in my future. I've got to tweak some of my experiments, start some new ones, and write a predoctoral grant. And I have to plan my syllabus for teaching in the spring--that actually starts a month from today. Unreal. It's only 7 classes, but it's 6.5 hours of work per session. That's a lot. I'd like to have that all worked out in the next two weeks or so.

But, at least I can cross this thesis committee meeting on my list. Maybe that leaves a spot to add better eating and exercise to the list. That's a post for another day. I've been trying to not fixate on it without letting it get completely out of control. I've had mixed success, but honestly, I've just been too busy to get all crazy about my weight. I have days, but in general, I just don't have the time to ruminate about anything for very long.

That's the update for now. Sophie has her ENT visit on Thursday, the season of holiday parties starts on Friday, and I haven't even started decorating for Christmas yet. One thing at a time, I suppose.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Missing the point

Yeah, so after I re-read the blog this morning, I realized that my rambling had completely taken me away from the point. Sorry about that (not that it is anything new). My point had been that I was starting to feel back in control of things, and then daycare called about Sophie and I felt like it was all getting chaotic again.

Let me say first that I know Sophie can't control when she's sick. And I don't blame her for getting sick. And, as her mother, I WANT to be the one taking care of her when she's sick.

It's that being a working mother sucks. There, I said it. And while I don't think I'd make a very good stay-at-home mom either (just my personality), I hate being torn in opposite directions all the time.

I am working very hard in the new lab to put my best foot forward. I try to be around as much as I can, I'm trying to be super productive, and I want to not be a pain in the ass. I tried all these things in my old lab too, but that place was not rational, and it got me nowhere. Still, I really like the new lab. I like the people, I like the project, and I want to be a good student. And I feel like I owe it to my boss--she really did rescue me from a bad situation.

Still, when daycare calls, I have to go. I had to cancel a meeting with my boss and get someone else in the lab to cover my stuff for the afternoon. That sucks. And it makes me feel irresponsible to my job. Especially with not even having been in the lab for two months, I don't want to get a reputation about not being serious about my science.

And there's the rub. Am I a mom first, or a student/employee first? My heart says mom. But how do I stay a mom first and still be the ideal student? I'm the only student/postdoc in the lab that is married and has kids. My boss, who has been very understanding, does have two kids, but they are adults. And she had her kids before she went to graduate school, so the kids were older when she was doing research.

I just feel so out of control all the time. I'm trying to get lab and home organized and running smoothly. Just as I finally feel like I've got some balance, either lab or home has major drama. And then I'm back to square one.

I don't want to sound like I regret being a parent. Sophie is by far the best thing to ever happen to me, and she and Tim are the reasons I look forward to coming home every night. Even though I had to leave work and move everything around yesterday, I loved having her to myself for a few hours. She brings me such joy. And yet, I don't want to do anything that is unfair to her. A stressed out crazy woman for a mother is not what she needs. I try very hard to separate myself from stress when I am with her--I don't want her picking up on that. I don't raise my voice in front of her, ever, and I want her to see me (and Tim) as her source of comfort and security. The world is a scary place. It's my job to make it less scary for her.

And so, this is where I am. I'm surviving at this pace, somehow, and I know I'll continue to survive. I'm just scared about what happens when my schedule becomes less flexible. I don't like always being the one to stay home with her, but I understand that for now, I have the flexibility. What happens when I'm not flexible and Tim's out of town? Or in a few years, when I'm in residency, Tim's gone, and she gets sick at school? We do have family around, but they have their own jobs/travel/lives too. I'm just not sure how we handle it.

And yet, millions of working moms do. Many of them don't have the luxury of flexible jobs or family nearby. And they make it work.

I just feel like, as a woman in a male dominated field, I have to try ten times harder already to be taken seriously. Needing to leave all the time doesn't help that issue. I won't ever do anything to put Sophie in jeopardy, but I do struggle with my responsibilities on a regular basis.

Things have been stressful for the last two years--since finding out I was pregnant and then delivering a baby while working in the lab from hell, and now finally trying to get back on track and hitting road bumps on a regular basis. Someone asked me the other day when we are going to try and have another. Here's my answer: NOT FOR A LONG TIME! First off, daycare for two would cost more than our mortgage every month. Second, I'd like to have a handle on raising one before I throw another one in the mix. Tim's friends are all on the two-years-apart plan, which would put us trying NEXT MONTH. Can I tell you that there is no chance on God's green earth that we are going to do that?

I seriously wouldn't trade Sophie for anything. Part of me is proud that she gets to watch her mom be a (hopefully successful) career woman. I really do think that I personally need to have a career to feel like a complete person (not trying to start a debate here). I love medicine, but there is definitely a part of me that wishes I had chosen a more family friendly career. And I think working all day makes me cherish my time with Sophie in ways I couldn't appreciate when I was home with her all the time.

But, it's a struggle. I've talked to lots of other women in science that have families, and it sounds like it gets harder before it gets easier. I am thankful I have Tim, who is a gigantic help with Sophie in ways that I am sure many other husbands aren't. And I am thankful we have a safety net of family around. I just wish there was a way to be balanced. But I think it's a myth, honestly. I've heard working and having kids is more of a juggling act--you can devote yourself to one or the other, but not at the same time. The women who are most successful and happy in their work-life balance find ways to keep the two as separate and compartmentalized as possible. When you are at work, you work. When you are at home, you don't. It's oversimplification, I know, but I think it's worth striving for.

I am looking forward to having a few days off over the holidays. It's hard enough scheduling work and family time--personal and fun time has gone completely out the window. I'm hoping to have half a day sometime to read a book, take a walk or a bath alone, or maybe even do a hobby for a while. I think it'd recharge me. I know I've been running on fumes for a long time now--a little refueling would do me good. And they say you can't take care of other people until you take care of yourself. I feel selfish taking time off, but I'm trying to convince myself that it'll make me a better mom and a better person. Here's hoping.

For now though, I'm just going to keep juggling. Every now and again I drop the ball, but the important thing is to pick it back up and keep going. That's all I can do.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I was all ready to finally post today. My idea was basically to say, "hey, it's been a busy few weeks, but after my thesis committee meeting on Monday, things should slow down and go back to normal." That was the plan.

Things have been busy. My thorn-in-my-side first paper (that I wrote two years ago) got rejected again. Once again--no helpful reviews. They just didn't like it. It's got some results that go against some dogma, but we've really done the experiments to show it's not a fluke. Still, it's been an uphill battle to get people to listen to us.

So, that rejection came back last Monday. And the person I am working with on it decided we should completely revise it and send it to another journal within a week. Fine and good, except:

1. It was Thanksgiving week, so I basically had Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday.
2. I also had my thesis committee report due this Monday. And I was in the thick of citing papers for background and outlining my experiments.
3. I had multiple experiments set up in the lab, and I really didn't have time to squeeze in the revisions in lab, so they'd have to happen at home.

But, I told him I'd get the revisions out. I really want to be done with this paper. I figured it was worth the pain.

So, lots of experiments, complete revision of a paper, and a thesis proposal. Good times.

And did I mention that I found out last Tuesday that they were cancelling enrollment for the insomnia clinical trial I was in? And that they made me come out to my visit anyway Tuesday morning, when I could have been working?

Fun stuff.

Still, we managed to visit family until we dropped on Thanksgiving. It was nice, but exhausting. And Sophie, Tim, and I were all coming down with these horrible chest colds. It really wiped us out, but none of us could sleep. Despite that, my sister stayed with us Thanksgiving night, and we were up at 5 AM to shop on Friday. We only did a few deals--Inkstop for cheap SD cards, CVS for the freebies (it took 3 CVS trips though, and we still didn't find anything), Kohl's for $10 jeans for Tim/clothes for Jen/shopping for my cousin, and Sears (although the shelves I wanted were gone by the time we got there). There were only crowds at Kohl's, and even then it was only to check out. The line wrapped around the inside of the entire store to check out, but even then we were done within 45 minutes of getting in line.

We didn't really have money to spend, and we're not doing gifts again (I think this is our 3rd year), so it was pretty low key. Tim's old jeans were at least 5 years old, so I got him 4 new pairs (and 4 pairs were still cheaper than 1 regular priced pair). I figured I could squeeze that into the budget.

I did buy Sophie's Christmas present today though. She played with a Little Tikes kitchen set for an hour at my Aunt's house on Thanksgiving. See:She just loved this thing. She carried all the fake food around in a little bowl. I had no idea she'd be interested in it--it says ages 3 and up. I looked for one online, but they are all waaay out of our price range, and there wasn't one on craigslist.

So, today I got a message about a deal at It's not quite the same thing, but it's a Hasbro Playskool rose petal cottage. It comes with a little stove, and you can get other appliances. It was marked from $80 to $30 (and I had seen it for $150 at Target), so I figured for $30, we could do it. Here it is:

It's more tent-like than the sturdier little tikes playhouses, but it's also smaller, and the two halves can nestle in each other to store it. It comes with the little stove in the picture, which is what I think Sophie will like.

Plus, they are selling all the extras (sink, washer, nursery set) for about $20 a piece on Amazon, so it gave me the chance to finally tell the grandparents what Sophie could use for Christmas. She doesn't even need that stuff--some fake food from the dollar store (big enough so she can't actually eat it, obviously) would keep her amused forever.

So, Sophie's done. We only buy for the two grandmothers otherwise, so I'm nearly done shopping. I do like not buying gifts--much less stressful, and easier on the wallet--but it does make getting gifts weird. I feel guilty when I get gifts--even when it's something like my birthday, when no one expects you to get a gift for them in return. It's a weird self-worth I-don't-deserve-presents thing that stems from my childhood. No need to get into all that tonight! But it's amplified when someone buys me a gift and I haven't gotten them one in return. Tim's much better with it--it's a person's choice to buy a gift, you can't tell people NOT to get you something, so enjoy it without guilt. I'm working on it.

Anyway, all of our time off over Thanksgiving was spent being very sick. We all still felt crappy on Monday, but back to work/daycare we went. Tim and I both came home from work/school and had stuff we needed to work on. And then yesterday I was busy after the VA with MSTP applicants. I hosted one student, who was very nice, but that took up my whole evening.

And then today at lunch, daycare called to say that Sophie was puking. I had to cancel my lab meeting and get someone to fast my rats, which I felt bad about, and Tim had to pick Sophie up and stay with her until I could get home. She puked again in his car, but by the time I got home, she was fine. No temperature, very playful, very interested in food. She never threw up again. I stayed home with her all afternoon, but she seemed totally fine. I figured the doctor wouldn't do anything if she wasn't either running a fever, continuing to puke, or not acting like herself, so we stuck it out at home.

And now, finally, Sophie's in bed, Tim's home from his class (he had a paper and presentation due today), my thesis proposal and revisions on the paper are both sent out, and I have a minute to myself.

Really, things have been nuts the last few months. Starting with the old lab drama in August (and honestly, even before that), I've been going at full tilt and beyond. It's always been, "I'll rest after I (fill in the blank): switch labs/go back to med school, get started in the new lab, get experiments going, having a thesis committee meeting, get this paper accepted, write my grant proposal, etc."

Since my grant won't be in until the end of January, I really don't think I'll have much of a break until then. After that though, I'd like to take a whole week off. I haven't done that since maternity leave--and I wouldn't call that a vacation, per se. We don't have the money or the time to do anything crazy fancy, but even just going up to his parent's cabin for a week would be nice. Or going into Pittsburgh or Columbus to see some of our friends--that's not a far drive. We just both need a break. Tim is finally taking his last class for his engineering degree this spring. Maybe we'll go away after he graduates. I promised I'd throw him a "congratulations on your second bachelor's degree, please take a break from school" party when he is done, which I will, but it'd be nice to do something just the three of us. We'll see. I'm sure something will come up between now and then that will continue to have me running around like a crazy person.

Other than being insanely busy, things in our little family have been good. There's been a lot that other people near to me have been struggling with, and it's not my place to air their issues (and it's not all the same issues that have been brought up in the past). But it's painful to watch people I love hurt. I'm a fixer--always have been--and it takes every part of me to not want to jump in and tell people how to fix their lives. But I've really be practicing the "healthy detachment" principle. It's not easy, but I know it's healthier for me. I've just got to find the right balance between letting people know I care about them and getting all up in their business.

Hopefully, life will slow down a little from here on out and I'll be able to update more frequently. I just wanted to let you know we're all still alive, generally doing fine, and just trying not to have panic attacks on a daily basis. But that's nothing new :)