Tuesday, August 30, 2011

T's first day of daycare and Mummy has a breakdown

So after months and months of searching for the right day care (see herehere and here), Miss T is finally starting today.  Her first day was supposed to be yesterday, but Hurricane Irene had other plans so T and I got one more sweet Monday together. 

Last night, I made sure I packed up all the things that T would need for today:
12 cloth diapers (2 day supply plus a couple of extra, just in case)
2 binkies
1 new homemade snuggle blanket with soft furry side
1 blanket
1 set of extra clothes
1 weekly payment

Of course I didn't sleep all night.  I kept telling myself, "No, I'm not nervous for T. I'm not sad about her going to daycare.  It's just another day".  Apparently, from 1:30am on, I wasn't buying it, no sleep for Mummy!

We got up, got dressed right away, had a snack of blueberries and milk and we were on our way.  Took 12 minutes to get there (about 20 for me to get back!).

T was welcomed by her teacher, Ms. Vicky, one of the other sweet girls near T's age, and Ms. Vicky's two youngest children (still home from school because of Irene).  It was a very sweet welcome, T was overwhelmed though!  She clung to my arm, my finger, my sweater, anything she could grab.  Gradually, the other little girl, E, enticed T with some foam counting fish and a doll house.  She started to explore a bit, but kept checking to see if I was there.  Then the whole gang went out to the yard for some outside time.  T got startled a little again, but then got very interested in the splash tables.  She was completely engrossed and I got the nod from her teacher that I could go.  Ms. Vicky must have seen the look on my face and said "Don't worry, she'll be fine" to which I responded "I know", but it came out much like Peter Brady's cracking pubescent voice "I kn-know". 

No sooner did I get in the car did the tears started coming.  And they didn't stop all morning!  My poor neighbor just wanted to walk her dog and she got to hear the whole thing with running faucets down my face!  Anyways, I got this picture mid-morning.  T is clearly having a great time and is adjusting well.  I'm sure I'll have a recap for tomorrow!  For now, I can't wait to go pick her up!!!

p.s. I'm linking up to Emily's "Embrace the Camera Day".  Head on over and check out the other ladies jumping in front of the camera for a change!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I have no idea how to write this post.

The last couple of mornings, I have found myself reduced to tears for people, mothers, fathers, and especially children, that I have never met.

Part of my usual morning routine is to watch the news while I eat breakfast and wait for Miss T to wake up.  I like the morning news because it is "softer", its not nearly so depressing and violent and after each segment of tough news, a lighter fluff piece follows, evening everything out.  That's how I like it, to be somewhat aware, but not truly affected, because then I would have to do something.  (I know, extremely selfish right?)

The last couple of days have been different.  The news pieces on the famine in Somalia have had a lasting impression on me.  The worst drought in 60 years, a lack of government in a country at civil war with itself for 20 years, and interruption of international aid by Islamic militants have combined to put millions of people in jeopardy.  They have fled their homes, searching for food, assistance, a way out.  Mothers are dying, and when they do, their babies no longer have the option to nurse.  There was a story of one little toddler, not much older than T. His family was able to get him to a medical provider.  At two years old, he weighed 6 pounds.  He was one of the few lucky ones.  If he can continue to get the nourishment he needs, he will live.  That's a big "IF".

The instability in an area known as the most dangerous place on Earth prevents international relief agencies from getting in.  It also prevents media groups from providing information to the rest of the world and so the cries of hunger go unheard.  Militants have forced out relief providers because they weren't Islamic.  Reporters that do venture into this war savaged, desperate land are on the lookout for IED's and fire from AK-47s.  In spite of all this, it appears that some help is getting through.  The US has reduced restrictions on providing aid to areas under al-Qaeda influence, allowing non-government organizations international relief funding.  However, that funding comes with restrictions and lots of red tape.  Direct charitable contributions have the greatest possibility of providing help - that's us.  I feel not just called, but impelled to make a contribution.  But, just making a contribution isn't enough.  I can't just send a check, (the American way, huh?), and go back to sleeping at night.  That's why I'm sharing this post. 

What can you do?  I was eating breakfast while I watch a news report on people starving.  I was eating a vegetarian breakfast sandwich because I can afford to turn down an entire food group.  How ridiculous is that?  This link provides a listing of nearly 50 organizations that are providing help to Somalia, as well as Kenya and Ethiopia.  The organizations range from the Red Cross, to Action Against Hunger, to Christian, Catholic, Jewish, and Islamic relief agencies. 

Think about what you can give.  Think about it over your next lunch that you purchase from the sandwich shop down the street.  Think about it over dinner tonight with your family or friends.  Think about it over that extra appetizer that you ordered and now wish you hadn't because you are so stuffed you can barely move.  Be thankful for what you have.  Everyday, every meal, be thankful that you have choices of foods to eat, that you can walk down the aisles of an overly air conditioned grocery store and see rows and rows of brightly colored boxes on the shelves.  Even if you can't afford all the food items you want, be thankful that your government (as distressing as it can be at times) cares for its people and provides food for those who can't afford it.  Personally, we were one of those families who received assistance for food when I was a kid.  I sometimes joke about the block of "government cheese" that we used to get and had to slice ourselves.  I am so thankful for that block of cheese.

As I started, I have no idea how to end.  I'll leave you with these links to more information.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Green Monster Challenge

Normally, when a New England girl says "Green Monstah" she is referring to a dear 36 foot, 2 inch left field wall in the only ballpark on Earth that matters.  However, I am steering away from popular convention to talk about a different Green Monster. I recently stumbled upon this blog where Angela shares the "Green Monster Movement".  Angela combines spinach or kale, seeds, powders, fruit and milk to create an amazing energy smoothie full of nutrients and incorporating so many healthy foods into her daily diet that some of us struggle to include regularly (ahem, me).  According to her, working these smoothies into her daily diet has increased her energy enormously, decreased her cravings for sweets (who couldn't use help with that?!) cleared up her skin, and made her hair and nails stronger.  Sounds good to me!  Almost too good.  But, it can never hurt to get more of those healthy, nutrient dense foods into your diet right?  So, I challenged myself to have at least three Green Monster smoothies a week for a month.  As a bonus, I get to use my favorite kitchen appliance, my Magic Bullet, and whatever fruit I have on hand.  Here we go!

Week 1: Attempt #1
Combined fresh strawberries, fresh mango, a banana, nonfat vanilla yogurt, and a handful of baby spinach.  Blend in Magic Bullet.

So, it wasn't very green, and admittedly, I could have used more baby spinach, but I just didn't buy that you couldn't taste it in the smoothie.  I really couldn't though!  It was quite tasty and you don't have to take my word for it, the pictures speak for themselves.  That's right, my super picky 16 month old is consuming spinach.  Haha!  She'll never know!

OK, OK, Attempt #2
Combined fresh mango, a banana, nonfat vanilla yogurt, and as much baby spinach as I could fit.  Much more green, and still really good!  Oh, and Miss T is catching on.  When she hears the Magic Bullet, she comes running for mummy's smoothie.  Attempts to give her a cup of her own fail, she just wants mine. sigh.  Well, it was so good that I made one ahead of time for the next morning to save myself some time.  Hubs came home from work wanting a smoothie, so I graciously offered him that one.  He liked it, but said he could taste the spinach.  I doubt it.  When I make a lasagne with tofu in the ricotta cheese he never notices, but if I mention it, all of a sudden he was all too aware of the offending soy product.  Anyways...

Attempt #3
Before heading to work, combined fresh strawberries, nonfat vanilla yogurt, as much baby spinach as I could.  Took this one to go on my walk to work.  I had just enough time to finish my smoothie by the time I arrived at my floor.  Delicious.  And, it didn't really take all that much time to make.  Plus, I noticed that my usual 10:00am sweet snack craving was mysteriously missing.  Hmm, we may be on to something.

Unfortunately, I've run out of fresh fruit.  Fortunately, I just remembered that we have bags of frozen fruit that I use to make T's baby food.  Seriously, I just remembered that as I was typing this post.  Maybe I need to add some ingredients that will help with memory.  Or maybe just get more sleep.  Anyhow.  I've missed a day, but I'll be back on the smoothie wagon tomorrow!  My original goal was to do 3 a week, but I'm finding that I'm enjoying them so much, that's not much of a challenge!

One thing I will mention is that these smoothies are thick and tend to give me a green "Kool-aid" mustache.  I may have to invest in some straws.  Perhaps some of these cool reusable glass ones?  Or these stainless steel ones?

Check out Angela's blog for her recipes and those submitted by other readers, or just do what I do and use what you have!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I've been busy doing math.

So I'm finding I have less time to write my blog these days.  I used to be able to work on each piece while in lab.  The beauty of my job is that each experiment always has "incubation times".  These times vary from 5 minutes to an hour to three hours, so I usually try to find something to do in between and voila! - my blog fit neatly into that space.

However, now that the crunch is on and I MUST GRADUATE, I am finding my incubation times filled with another experement to set up, and then another one, and then another.  My lab mate looked quizzically at me yesterday as I stopped in my tracks obviously lost in my thoughts.  "Doing math?" he joked.  "Trying to figure out how I'm going to do 32 plates of plaque assays tomorrow", I replied.  He laughed as only one who understands that amount of work can laugh - he's sort of going through the same thing.  (By the way, normally, we only do 4-8 plates a day, with 8 being a lot.) (So, yeah, I guess the answer to his question was that I was doing math. :)

The benefit of all this craziness is that my mentor is finally being just that - a mentor, truly for the first time in 4 years.  We sit across from each other and discuss data, strategy, timelines.  He assists me in writing my first paper manuscript and how to prepare my figures.  He's actually showed some human emotion and been more of a three dimensional person.  Man, it really stinks that he's leaving and that it took him leaving for me to see what his mentorship could be!  I'm really going to miss him!  He's been more demanding of my time, hence the multiple experiments in addition to draft requests over the weekend, but I almost don't even mind when he's so willing to work with me.

Anyways, these updates may be more scattered in the weeks to come, but I'm going to do my best to work in some blog time... as well as gym time, sewing time, and me time, anyone else feel like there's never enough time?