Wednesday, July 27, 2011


You know the feeling when you step off of a roller coaster that was just beyond your threshold for fear?  You think to yourself, "I'm never going to do that again, but at least I got through it".  That's how I feel after these past two weeks.

Almost two weeks ago, I left for the American Society for Virology 30th Annual Meeting.  This was the second time I have attended this meeting and the first time I did an oral presentation.  I am terrified of public speaking.  I shake, my stomach gets twisted in knots and I tend to need a restroom (sorry, TMI!).  I was giving a talk to about 40-50 experts in arenaviruses.  Me!  Telling experts things they don't know yet about their favorite virus!  Nerve wracking?  You bet!  Intimidating?  Without a doubt.  But I came out the other side accomplished, having fielded their questions as well as I could and having given a presentation that I could be proud of.  Phew!, you might think, glad to be off that roller coaster, but that was just the warm up hill.

This was also the first time I was away from Miss T overnight since she was born!  B has managed to get me out for a few date nights here and there, but I always get to go home and watch her perfect sleeping little body and reassure myself that she's ok.  The first couple of days away, there were a few tears and heartaches.  Luckily, my meeting kept me very busy (8:30 am to 10:00 pm!) which provided a good distraction.  Best of all, was that on most days, I could make a quick stop at the local Starbucks and video chat with my loves through FaceTime on our iPhones.  What a huge blessing that is!  The hardest part was waiting for my suitcase on the baggage claim carousel, knowing that that was the only thing keeping me away from my B and my T.  I spent the next day with T, reading books, playing in her pool or splash table and just loving my time with her.  But wait, we're not off that ride yet.  Here come the huge final hill...

While I was away I received news that my mentor had resigned his position at the University and was taking a position at another beginning 9/1/2011.  Mind you, I didn't hear it from him.  And, once I found out about the resignation, I learned that many other people at my meeting knew the day before I did!  "What a jerk!" you might think, or even "How unprofessional!".  Well, I'll get to that.  The bottom line is that he is providing the funding I need to finish this December, I don't need to move with him or change projects as other students have had to do, so it could be much, much worse.  When I returned, I was ready to give it to him.  Unfortunately, he cancelled our meeting and we wouldn't meet for a few more days, approximately a week after his resignation was turned in.  Well, I'm glad I had the few days to cool off.  I was able to make a timeline for completion for my experiments, paper manuscripts, and thesis.  I was able to reassure myself that I can do all of this and get it done in the timeframe provided.  While I waited for our meeting, I learned of all the abuse that he was taking from other people in our institute.  I found myself defending him!  Why shouldn't he be able to take a position that will accelerate his career, that will recognize his expertise and contributions to the field, that will reunite him with his family. 

My mentor grew up in cold war Russia, trained in virology and medicine under the Communist Regime in Moscow.  He first met his current colleague that we collaborate with at the Berlin wall - he was on the East side, she was on the West side.  Here in the states, his wife works for a pharmaceutical company 3 hours away - they only see each other on the weekends.  They have had this living arrangement for the last 11 years!  His sons and grandchildren are even further away.  This move provides him with a way to not only reunite his family (allowing his wife to retire) and to be recognized for the leader in the field that he is.  How could I be mad at him?  Isn't this the exact same thing I want?  To be able to excel in my career and to be reunited with our families back north? 

When we did finally meet to discuss logistics and planning, I mentioned to him that I realized all the abuse he was getting, but that I was happy for him, that I recognized what a great opportunity this was for him, and that I was going to miss him.  He actually started to choke up and squeezed my hand!  My mentor is devoid of emotion, at least on the surface, so to witness this, well of course I started crying.  Par for the course with me!  So while I may have had those horrible thoughts initially, I was able to see things from his perspective and see how this move had nothing to do with me and that in the end, wasn't going to change all that much.  Sure, it's a bit more stressful now and I need to start searching for a postdoctoral position sooner than I thought, but I can handle it.  After all, I managed to be away from Miss T for 5 days and present at a national meeting right?

Because I can't resist, here are a couple of pics of Miss T while I was away...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Missing you!

So I have this wonderful self preservation trick that when there is something that will upset me, I just don't think about it.  It's a wonderful switch that I can flip and then that dark shadow is gone - out of sight, out of mind.  Poof!

clap. clap. (that's me wiping my hands free)

Until the time approaches and all that wonderful, oblivious bliss collapses upon itself into a panic-stricken, terrifying super cell of emotions.

See what a great trick it is?

I have lived in this oblivious state all week now.  Prodding along in my research.  Adjusting a presentation here, wrapping up an experiment there.  Coming home to play with the babe, make dinner, do laundry, chat with the hubby.  All the while, Saturday was approaching.

The collapse happened last night, roughly about 11:00pm.  As I tried in vain to fall asleep, my protective forces broke down and I started to panic.  See, on Saturday morning, I'm getting on a plane to Minneapolis to attend a conference for five days.  I haven't left T (except for work) for more than five hours since she was born.  There was so much to do!  I have to leave the house clean, the laundry done, the pantry stocked.  I have to show Bryan how to wash her diapers, how she likes to be rocked right before going to sleep, our routine of minky-binky-book.  How was I going to get this all done in 36 hours?!?!

And then these lovely thoughts started entering my head:

What if she cries the whole time because she misses me?

What if she doesn't miss me at all?

What if she thinks that K, our babysitter, is her new mom?

Will she not be happy to see me when I get home?  Will she feel abandoned?

Will she know that I still love her?

And those questions continued into the wee hours when I finally fell asleep.

In the light of day, several things are perfectly clear, most importantly:
1. B is a great Dad and can/will handle anything that comes up.
2. T loves me, knows I love her, and will be JUST FINE while I'm away.

Those two thoughts are going to be my mantra the next five days while I try to pay attention to lectures and seminars, while I try to give my own talk, and try to enjoy visiting a new city.  We will be making great use of the iPhone facetime (did I mention that B now has an iPhone too - and loves it so!).

(On a side note, how great of a commercial would that make?  Mom goes away for work all teary eyed and while waiting for the plane, Dad and Baby call on facetime and reassure her it will all be ok.  Apple, are you listening?  You better have cameras waiting for me at the airport!)

Anyhow, in the grand scheme of things, its just five days.  It will fly by.  It will be good for me to get away and get some rest.  It will be great bonding time for B and T.  It will be over before I know it.  B is a great Dad.  T knows I love her. 

B is a great Dad.  T knows I love her. 

B is a great Dad.  T knows I love her...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Free Dress Patterns/Tutorials

I mentioned last month in my Tuesday Ten round up, that I was working on party dresses for the girls.  Well, I finished Miss T's dress this week and thought I would share.  This dress was made possible by the lovely, talented Lindsay Wilkes at The Cottage Home.  I absolutely love how it came out!  The skirt is full and twirly.  The sash is satiny sweet.  Miss T seemed comfortable in it too!  It made me think that this dress pattern could be used for a number of occasions: flower girl, birthday party, holidays.  I can see it in all sorts of fabrics too, cottons, satin, taffeta, jersey knit.  Maybe, just maybe, this dress will make an appearance in my shop.  Hmmm.  For now, here are pics of T.  I need to get to work on K's!

I love, love, LOVE that there are so many free dress patterns and tutorials out there for everything from cutesy pie baby girl dresses to gorgeous sophisticated women's dresses (as well as shirts, skirts, you name it!). I'm so inspired to try and make something for myself. However, I am reminded of that summer when my roommates and I thought it would be super easy to make ourselves skirts (it's just a tube of fabric, right? oh, so wrong.). That was a glorious FAIL! I think for now, I'll stick to girl's clothes and maybe some boys stuff too.
Although, some lovely ladies have gone to a great deal of work to compile lists of free patterns and tutorials for a gal just like myself, looking for a challenge.  The extensive compilation at Think Liz is just amazing!  And then there's the lists that Luvinthemommyhood have put together, even a collection of maternity DIYs!  iCandy is running a series called "fun in the sun dress" where a new tutorial is posted everyday! has a post of 101 Sewing Tutorials for Summer.  I can't forget about Prudent Baby.  My lovely sister attracted my attention to this blog and I will love her forever for it!  They have a couple of posts, "25 Free Dress Tutorials for Baby and Toddler", and "25 of the Cutest and Coolest Free Tutorials for Boys Clothing".

Now, if only I could find the time to try out the bazillions of patterns and ideas swimming around my head right now!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Here's she comes...

We officially have a walker.

Yikes!  Really?  How?  When?

While B and I scramble to shore up all things evil and dangerous (stairs, TV, cabinets, etc.), we forgot to let our dear fuzzies in on what was about to happen.  Poor babes.  Joey, Mollie, and Druha are so in for it.  Prior to her new found mobility, Miss T would squeal with delight whenever the animals let their down and came near her.  Now, she can go to them!  Her favorite activities, it seems, are grabbingguards  ears, poking eyes, and stepping on warm furry bodies!

This is what we see:

This is what the poor pets see:

Time to work on teaching empathy and gentle treatment of our furbabies!

On a side note, yesterday, Miss T received her 15 month shots. She was very unhappy about it. Actually, she didn't want anyone near her, which was a first! However, I'll be totally honest that even though my heart breaks for her when she feels yucky for the next 36 hours, I do enjoy the extra amount of snuggling that I get as a result. ;)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Daycare Search - Final wrap-up

Well, after nearly 5 months (read here, and here) of searching, inspecting, crying, and desperately trying to find suitable daycare for Miss T, we have finally succeeded!

First, thanks to all of you who have helped in countless ways.  I learned a lot from you, but most of all, never to give up and never to compromise!

And you know what?  We didn't have to compromise at all!  We found an amazing in-home day care center that fits our budget and meets our standards.  Didn't think that was possible?  Neither did I for a while!

Here are the things I love about the daycare we've found:

-The home has a finished basement of two full rooms and a bathroom for the day care.  One room is painted blue, the other is painted orange!  I love it!  It's so bright and cheerful!
-There is a fenced in yard with a play set, sand box, tricycles, etc., with outside time built into the schedule twice a day!
-The area is very family friendly, better air quality than we have at our house and you can actually hear birds.  Birds people!
-The owner/provider is a lovely Filipino woman named Ms. Vicky.  Instantly, I felt very comfortable with her.  She's kind, laid-back and very welcoming.  She took to T right away and T liked her too.  Yay!
-There is some "curriculum", letters numbers, shapes, etc. and circle time everyday, but there is a lot of freedom for personal exploration too.
-The other two little girls there are only a bit older than T (by a couple of months) and they were so excited to play with her right away and were so sweet!
(as a side note, one thing I do like about living here is that T is introduced to people of different races, backgrounds, religions, etc.  One girl at the daycare is Indian, the other is African-American.  Plus, T will get to eat and try new Filipino foods!  Woohoo for diversity!)
-The commute is only 10-15 minutes from our house, though I still need to find the closest Dunkin Donuts!
-Did I mention this all fits in our budget? : )

I really couldn't be happier that we get to bring Miss T here everyday.  I'm actually excited for her, for all the things she'll learn, the opportunities to make friends and socialize, to learn how to play and be in a new environment.  I think this will be so good for T and for all of us!  I know B is happy too.  He has very strong feelings against daycare, but has always recognized my need to work.  After visiting yesterday, he told me on 4 separate occasions "Good job, Baby." That's all I needed to hear!

And now, because I can't leave you without a little bit of sunshine for your day:

Miss T is really enjoying the front camera on my new iPhone.  We love to take silly pictures together!

BTW, I'm linking up to Emily's Embrace the Camera Day.  I can't waste these sillies, can I?  Go check out other momma's embracing the camera today here!