Monday, January 14, 2013

My Coral and Jade Birthday

First, I am so overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and well wishes for me on my birthday this year.  My phone was "blowing up" all over the place with facebook notifications, text messages, tweets, etc.  If nothing else, social media, you know how to make a girl feel special!

I really did feel special this weekend.  I got to find some "me" time and spend the morning with some lovely ladies from my church doing Holy Yoga.  It was great exercise, worship, and socialization, all things that I get way too little of regularly!

That's me on the green mat!

Afterwards, I go to go home, enjoy a long hot shower while the girls naps overlapped (thanks little ladies!) and then B took me out to celebrate.  In the last couple of years, it's been harder and harder for us to stay out, never mind get out, and usually we are home by 9:00pm.  Lame!  We were determined not to fall victim again this year!

We started off by going to Henninger's in Fells Point.  It's a few blocks away from the hub-bub of Fells, but on this night it was a bit more subdued since there was a playoff football game going on that pulled people away from fancy dinners.  We were the only people in the restaurant section and we enjoyed our meal at a leisurely pace.  The food was great and the atmosphere was true to Baltimore in its quirkiness, mixing up elephants with UFOs in their decor.

In an effort to prolong our excursion, we went to a different location for dessert.  Truly, in Baltimore, this is the only place to go for dessert on your birthday, Vaccaro's in Little Italy.  I ordered the Franciscan from the specials menu and was awarded with a dinner sized plate of Hazelnut Cake, coffee gelatto, and a glob of whipped cream that could stand alone as dessert.  I maybe had 4-5 bites, was totally stuffed, and took the rest home.  My apologies to my friends on the "Whole30" diet who were forced to see this picture and be reminded of what you're missing.  
Enough cake to feed the whole city!

Then we started to falter.  What do we do now?  We considered our options and settled on checking out Patrick's Irish Whiskey and Cappuchino bar just a few blocks from our house.  We've driven past this establishment for 7 years now without ever going in and figured it was about time.  I am so glad we did!  I had had sufficient caffeine and alcohol already (one drink limits for both!), so I had water while B enjoyed a pint off the tap.  
Smile for the camera kids!

The bartender introduced himself as Tommy and was friendly and inviting, despite our meager imbibing.  We were the youngest people by at least 20 years, which on my 35th birthday, felt pretty good to be considered a young'un.  The best part was the live Irish fold singer who knew my two favorite songs, Fields of Athenry and Whiskey in the Jar (apparently based on the Dread Pirate Roberts, marrying another favorite topic of mine).  It was a great ending to my celebration!  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Juggling Act

As a post-doc and a mother of two (2.5 years old and 9 months old), I’m often asked “How do you do it?”

The truthful answer is – barely.

I’m certainly not excelling in any area of my life, whether as a post-doc, wife, or mother.  I’m really just getting by in each area. On top of that, I have no life.  Seriously, if you asked me today what I do for fun, I would have no idea how to answer you.  I used to do lots of things – go out with friends, go running or hiking, read a book, sew, go shopping, go to the movies, etc.  My weekends are now filled with laundry, errands, and wiping bums.

I love it.

You might not have expected that, right?  How could that be fun?  If not fun, it is incredibly fulfilling.  I have a job I love, a supportive husband, two beautiful girls, what more could I ask for?  Ok, maybe more sleep.

10 years ago, when I was struggling with the decision to go back to school or not, the lingering doubt in my mind was whether there would ever be a “good” time to have a family and would I be willing to make sacrifices in order to “have it all”.  Luckily, a good friend and colleague of mine had just finished her post-doc, was just starting her family, and wished she hadn’t waited, telling me that grad school was the most flexible time of her life.  I took her advice and experiences to heart and had my first daughter a few months after proposing my thesis research and my second just one month after defending that research.

In order to make it all work, I need support in every aspect of my life.  I need a husband that is willing to step in and assume some of my roles/duties when I need to go to work at midnight for growth curve media collection, and I need a boss that understands that daycare closes at 5:30 and I need to be out of here in time to pick up my littles.  It’s definitely a juggling act and one slip could cause everything to crash.  I live in a constant state of anxiety and guilt, feeling that I’m not living up to expectations.  But those expectations are only imposed by me.  If I stop to listen to the people around me, asking how I do it, it’s because we’re succeeding, somehow. 

Somehow, my experiments get done. 
Somehow, my children are clean, fed, and well behaved.  
Somehow, my husband and I have 30 minutes each night to crash on the couch together and just catch our breath.

I tell myself, over and over, that all things are temporary and this crazy phase of life will soon pass…, only to be replaced by new kinds of crazy (think ballet lessons, grant deadlines, etc.).  But it’s working, and I have so much to be proud of.  So, while I may not be winning prestigious awards or getting nominated for Mommy-of-the-Year anytime soon, I am awarded with happy kids and a husband that love me, and slow-but-steady progression of research.

Also posted on my nerdy blog at