Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Tonight, Iain, Charles, and I were counting. Nana sent Iain a book from the Met store, in which ancient artifacts are arranged so you can count them (ie, 10 scarabs). We counted horses, we counted falcons, we counted jerboas...

Then we counted 2 cats. Iain said, "3 kitties!" and I said, "No, two cats. One, two."

And Iain said, "Buckle shoe!"




Lawrence got tenure!!! Congrats from all of us.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Busy Busy Busy

After my weekend of indolence (read: puking), the To-Do list was a little out of control. So.

Today, I:
  • Dropped off the dry cleaning
  • Returned books to the library
  • [Paid a small fine]
  • Read a book for my upper-division course
  • Got the 10k service, and 3 recalls, taken care of on our Toyota
  • Grocery shopped
  • Recorded a ton of grades on Blackboard
  • Packed 6 boxes
  • Ran a load of laundry
  • Composed of the sheets from all beds
  • Which I then re-made with clean sheets
  • Researched washers and dryers for our SLC house
  • Talked to our SLC realtor about the termite inspection out there
And, without my doing very much (if anything), we had the house cleaned, inspected for termites, and the last moving estimate taken.

What a productive day! It was also trash day, and since Charles and I moved a bunch of things out to the curb, our garage is much more spacious now.

P.S. Iain got a sticker today. He was apparently throwing a "fit" about circle time, but Ms. Donna said "You know fits and stickers are related. If you want a sticker you have to stop this." He immediately stopped screaming, looked thoughtful, then said "I want a sticker." "Ok, you have to be quiet for 5 minutes while I finish circle time. If you do that, you can have a sticker." He did it. The sticker has a pig on it, and when I picked him up, Ms. Donna and I spent about 20 seconds tickling Iain and snorting. I snort well.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Where's Your Sticker?

When I picked Iain up today, I asked him "Did you get a sticker?" "Iain!" his teacher said, "Where's your sticker?" She pointed to the trash. Uh oh.

I guess he had a rough day. No art, no circle time, a powerful desire to borrow some other baby's bottle (!! He hasn't had a bottle in a year!), and a general sense of grouchiness. No sticker. At some point he reformed, saying "Sorry" to Donna and asking for a sticker. But by then it was too late.

He went home, though, ate a good supper ("Mac and CHEESE!"), had a pleasant bath, watched Bob the Builder, and off to bed without a peep. I dunno. So far, nearly two is a strange age.

Waiting for Baby

First of all, how much do I love Sara's new iPhone app? It makes her photos look like Polaroids.

Second, do these two look like they're waiting? They are. Waiting for a sibling who's due any minute. Brother? Sister? Nobody knows, but we're all dying to find out.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wake Up, Garden!

The fish want you to know that spring is on its way. Not that you could tell from the pathetic state of their pond. The plants have not yet begun to grow back. But soon...lovely flowers, grasses, and lily pads will appear once more.

And elsewhere, spring's awakening has begun in earnest. Check out the blueberry bush:

And the redbud:

And one of the peonies:

Our buyer has no idea what he's getting in that little patch. Four or five peonies (can't remember exactly), including one I dug up from the side of the house. A mystery peony! By late spring, when he takes possession, they should be in full glory. Sniff.

Above, the sweet cherry, taking its sweet time with those leaves. And below, (ignore the sad state of the edging. I don't really believe in edging. Also, I'm lazy.), the bulbs I planted, popping up like mad. The daffodils are nearly ready to open, while the tulips are still working on big, thick leaves.

If you recall last autumn, I got a little fed up with planting bulbs. Turns out that 150 bulbs (or whatever it was) requires a lot of hole-digging. And we have heavy, clay soil. So I lost my patience and put the last 20 into a big tub:

Anytime now, those leaves will produce a blaze of tulips. Naturally, I have no memory of what went where. So it could be a blood red parrot tulip, or it could be something cool and lovely in pale yellow. No idea.

In other news, last night I was sick at 3:30 and then today at 3:20 I fell down the last 3 or 4 stairs. I'd like to know when I stepped on Superman's cape so I can apologize. Clearly, my karma needed some balancing.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Nice Day

Last night was poo. Total greasy grimy gopher guts coated in poo. And other bad things.

Iain woke every 2 hours. 12:35, 2:30, 4:45. Yay! That last wakening lasted more than 30 minutes, with plenty of nice screaming. The fact that I'd strained my shoulder coughing only added icing to the poo cake.

But after every storm, the sun shines again. And sure enough, this morning he was all smiles.

Getting his diaper changed, he informed me that he "loooves puzzles!" When I spilled some milk, he exclaimed "Oh NO! What a Mess!"

All day, he was a delight. He watched Kipper (our new rule is: cartoons on Saturday only - that's a fine old American tradition, so it must be ok, right?), ate a good breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner (!), played trains with me, did his floor puzzle ("I Looooove Puzzles!"), and took a 2 hour nap.

He gets a sticker today, for sure.

Happy Gotcha Day!

These arrived yesterday, delivered by a nice young man with approximately 2000 tattoos. Boris thought he looked yummy. But I'm impressed by the use of a woody shrub to keep tulips looking so nice (they have a tendency to droop).


Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy Birthday!

The phone rang at 8. "Grammer?" asked Iain. Not this time. But he loves it when she calls. And today is her birthday.

So happy birthday, Grandma, from your boy. And us, too.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cookies, and Other Good Things

After two parks, and with dinner cooking, we needed one more activity to fill our busybusy day. So Callie and I made cookies. She supervised, her mom was the sous chef, and I served as the host. My chocolate chip cookies contain a dash of cinnamon (Vietnamese, if you must know), plus the juice and zest of a lemon. I think they taste better with those hints of spice, and I think Callie agreed.

In other news, Iain had a much better day today than yesterday. He's been in an odd mood lately. Partly, it's his age. But maybe our impending move has also set his teeth on edge. He demands waffles, then denies them ("Waffles!" "no! NO! No Waffles!!" "My Waffles!!"). He demands milk, then rejects it.

In the car the other day, he was saying:

"No, book. No, truck. No, carseat. No, Bob. No, Kipper."
I said, "Iain, How about saying 'Yes' instead?"
Then, yesterday, he had the World's Worst Day at daycare. Tantrums, screaming, no food, just an utter meltdown. He preceded it by freaking out over his breakfast ("NO! Waffles!"). He finished the day with a nice freakout over dinner. It sucked.

Miss Donna told him that he couldn't have a sticker. Only good boys get a sticker. And she told him that his report card for that day would show the tantrums, so Mommy, Daddy, and Grandma would know.

Perhaps that sank into his tiny little 2-year old psyche.

Because today, he was just fine. He ate an entire waffle (butter and syrup) plus vanilla yogurt and wild Maine blueberries for breakfast. Then he went to school, where he threw no tantrums, ate everything at lunch, participated in art, and took a good nap. He got a sticker and a certificate for being "helpful." In the afternoon, he joined me at the grocery, coped cheerfully with traffic on the way home, ate his noodles for dinner, took a bath and went to bed smiling. Thank God.

Also, it seems that my decision to leave the academy in favor of a very fine school in Salt Lake resonates with at least one peer. She's a talented, experienced teacher (though not in my field - why am I so drawn to literature types?), so her vote of confidence means a lot.

Last, and kind of least, I just received an email containing a positive review of a book to which I contributed. It was published in Australia, and is an interesting hybrid - published online and in a print-on-demand format through a university press. It's my first review, though not mine alone.

Fingers crossed for tomorrow. I don't expect it to be as nice as today, but anything in the normal range would be most welcome.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sunday, Extended Play Version

After Jacobson Park, Callie took Iain to a smaller park, closer to home. At first he resisted. But she showed him the way (above) and eventually he decided that playing wasn't so bad.

As always, he loved driving the equipment and climbing through the red tunnel.

But Callie has high standards. Among other things, she wants participatory play. No playing by yourself! No moping around saying "up, Mommy!" and avoiding the slide! So she took things into her own tiny paws:

And once she'd pushed Iain down the slide a few times (generating enough static electricity to give me a fun shock at the bottom - note Callie's hair in the photo below), he got the idea. One day, Callie is going to make a great cruise director.

Tomorrow: cookies!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Math Animated

Monday, March 22, 2010

Clare Noshes (and learns about college)

Little Clare was a teensy thing at birth, but apparently she lost a bit of weight during week one. So her mom and dad (and Grandma) are trying to encourage plenty of eating to help her grow. Check her out above - so tiny!

But she seems to be enjoying herself, snug as a bug in a rug:

And check out the proud Dad:

Of course, he's encouraging a sound college choice with that sweatshirt. I can see already that Miss Clare will have a lot of options for her loyalties - JHU, MSU, EKU, and many other 3-letter schools.

At the Park, with Birds

Callie, in some of her new spring duds. Capri cargo pants, a spring-themed shirt, and a jaunty little pony tail with a polka-dot ribbon. ZOMG.

After Iain expressed his disdain for and boredom with the play area (visible, with its ten million users, in the background above - it's an amazing play ground), we moved to the duck area. There were fewer ducks than geese, but Iain and Callie have no particular opinion regarding aquatic fowl.

At one point, Iain went over to the ladies. Callie's Mom was all "Oh, Iain! Have a hug..." because she didn't yet realize his objective:

All he wanted was the orange section (he'd already eaten the orange Callie brought him, but you know - it's never enough). But he submitted to a hug from Callie, because she's his girl. He'll let her do stuff, and he'll do stuff with her, that he wouldn't do with (for) anyone else.

Callie wanted to take some pictures. Check out her modern technique:

No need to look in that viewfinder, right? It's digital, baby. And below, her subjects.

Later today (or tomorrow, depending on how today goes), more shots of Callie and Iain at their second park of the day. Yes, one park was not enough. And then there were cookies.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hot and Heavy

We went to the park yesterday, where Callie and her Mom met us for some fun. It was, technically, their second visit to Jacobson Park that day. Between the morning and the afternoon, Callie's Mom noticed, every single human being within 500 miles decided to head up to the park.

Still, Iain and Callie had some fun. Iain was not in the most interactive mood, but he checked out the tire swings above and Callie worked hard to jolly him up a bit:

After a while, we retired to the nearby "lake" to watch the ducks and geese. As you can see, Iain likes to keep his distance at all times.

Lots more pics of that day to come.

But for now, think about this. For a while now, Iain has been telling us that everything is "hot!" At first, we thought maybe he'd been reading about Paris Hilton.* But he called everything hot. His cold milk? Hot. His head? Hot. His tasty snack? Hot.

Started a few days ago, he has been calling everything "heavy." As in, while struggling with the velcro on his Harrod's of London red double-decker bus: "Heavy!" He means that it's challenging. I think he heard me complaining that it's hard to carry him because "Dude, you're sooooo heavy!" and decided that "heavy" must mean difficult.

What's the story here? He understands that words can describe stuff. But he doesn't always know which word to use or how to employ the descriptive word. The more variable its meaning, the harder this becomes.

So anything he needs to describe, he claims is "hot" or "heavy," and he figures that either he'll be right or we'll say, "No, it's room temperature." or "No, it's tight." or whatever.

Learning. Growing. All the time. And then some.

*In case you're unaware, she used to be famous for dubbing things "hot" as a compliment.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


We started watching Little Children at 8:30. It's 10. But it feels like 2012, dude. O.M.G.

Friday, March 19, 2010

What A Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday, things were bad. Iain screamed, screamed screamed. He was still miserably sick, coughing constantly, and in no mood for anything but "KIPPA DA DAAAAG!!"

Today, day three of antibiotics, he's much, much better. Smiling, eating noodles and fruit, playing with the fish (He likes to throw rocks at them. I disapprove, but Charles says this is boy-normative, and I figure he would know.), and generally acting like himself.

His report card said: "A good day, only two fits!" Great. That's a good day. And then Miss Donna told me an interesting story. She was writing out the report cards, and Iain asked "For my mommy?" She told him yes, that she records what he does and tells me. I then tell Grandma. He stared at her. He watched her fill out the reports on other children. He thought deep, deep thoughts.

So maybe things will get a little better, now that he knows that the grownups are in cahoots.


Welcome to Clare Catharine, who arrived yesterday at a whopping 5lbs, 14 oz. Just a wee thing, and so blonde. You can all but hear the collective gasp of delight and congratulations going out to Brad and Susan.

Personally, I can hardly wait to see whether she embraces her mom's love of cows or her dad's love of the Revolution. Or perhaps both?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

One Last Bit of Portland

We've had a rough day. Between our work, Iain's cold, and the general craziness of everything, it's just been one bump after another. But at least we don't have to look at this all day. Check it out: Portland's City Hall (I think. It's downtown, in any case).

And below, a shot of the other side, where someone thought it would be a good idea to build big, minty green bows onto a government building.

The good news is that the federal courthouse is beautiful. Just really fabulously modern with a slightly Frank Lloyd Wright/Asian quality to it. We walked all 'round it before realizing what it was (though props to Lawrence, who took these photos, for saying "looks like a federal building - there's no easy way in!")
So. Today. On the hard side, Iain was very difficult and his cough just makes my ears bleed. He demanded Kipper all day and when denied he threw fit after fit. We need to cut back, I think. Also, I had to drive out to Shelbyville (pronounced: Shb-uh-vl) to give a little talk, despite being sick myself and having an awesome-sounding deep cough. That left Charles to handle Mr. Nutty all alone. Last, but not least, today we made an offer on a house in Salt Lake City.

But there were bright bits to leaven the day. I made a lovely pan of stuffed shells (with fresh mozzarella, spinach and carrots, plus ricotta with fresh oregano), Callie came by for a few hours (her latest expressions are "Donno How! You do it!"), and the people in Salt Lake seem positively disposed toward us.

It might have been a tie - good and bad.

But then...

We got a piece of extraordinary, wonderful, stupendous, incredible, long-awaited news. Some friends are very happy tonight, and about to be very sleep deprived. We're all full up with glee, making all the little things about today fade into insignificance.

Sickie Sickie Sickie Sick

Iain: chest cold. You should hear the coughing. And his voice? Like a frog. Talking about trains.

Charles: somewhat recovered from a head and chest cold, but still coughing at night.

Me: Coughing, gravely voice, general achy-ness.

Yay! Only Iain's on antibiotics so far, but give us time, y'all.

On the plus side, I've probably memorized all the Kipper stories by now. I'll be dreaming Kipper pretty soon.

And I finally picked my bracket (at the Very! Last! Moment! - thanks, Miriam). The usual method worked fine:
  • Any school with a good history department over any school I never heard of
  • Any school that rejected me or anyone I know for a job goes down
  • Any school I know has had a good team in the last 20 years over any school from a state I disapprove of (you know who you are), etc.
Worked great! I even got to advance Georgia Tech (brother-in-law's alma mater) and then crush them with Georgetown (Charles's grad school). That was fun.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pocket Parks

Above, near City Hall, in the center of the downtown area.

Below, at the tip of the Pearl district, a park surrounded by modernist condo buildings (gorgeous modernist condo buildings, in case you wondered). It's a habitat renewal project, in which an old meadow and stream were re-created with paths and sculpture so people could wander through, sit and have a cuppa (coffee, natch, in this city), or just check out the view of the bridge. The natural bit is off to the left, because Lawrence, Mike and I were entranced by the undulating, rusty fence.

And last but not least, this passage of blossoms from the street into a little condo development. So lovely, and entirely created by the commercial builders - not the city. Can you imagine walking home through this?

All photos courtesy of Lawrence's spiffy little camera.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Huge, inflatable crawdad, Jake's
Photo by Lawrence

Portland was great. And not just because every time I left my hotel room someone was offering me a beer. That was great - don't get me wrong. But Portland had so much more to offer.

For one thing, there was the seafood. I ate most of mine raw, but you can get just about anything you want, from Dungeness crab to King Salmon to Pacific tuna to...well anything.

And you can play tourist or be super cool. We intended to do both, eating sushi one night at Masu and crab the next night at Jake's. But Jake's hung out a huge, inflatable crawdad that morning. And wouldn't you know it, every tourist in Portland (which that day included a posse of physicists) flocked down there. Phooey. So we just walked back to Masu and told them that we'd had such a fabulous time we wanted to ride again. They were cool about it.

I think they welcomed us back because they knew - somehow - we'd just come from The Strangest Shop in Portland. No, I don't remember it's name. It's an import shop full of pottery, furniture, jewelry, shoes, expandable Chinese dragons, paper lotus blossums, pencils, and members of the Worker's Party riding to the Moon on a rocket, while holding scythes. Yes, scythes. Because there's a harvest to take in on the Moon, didn't you know?

We liked it. And we were a little weirded-out by it. So we needed warmth, sake, and an adorable waitress with pink hair and a green flower over her ear. Naturally, Masu obliged.

Did I mention the "fantasy sauce"? Yeah. If you're ever in Portland, Masu's the shizzle. That's all I'm saying.

Gotta motor, the hoos wants to watch a movie...


We have an awesome bedtime routine.

How do I know this?

Last night, we bathed Iain, put him into his jammies (I got into jammies, too), plopped him on the Big Bed for some Bob the Builder, and lay down alongside to supervise.

Within 25 minutes, he was asleep in his bed, waking only this morning at 8:21.

Me? What about me? When did I go to sleep? Oh. Um...

10 minutes before Iain. Yes, I fell asleep on the bed, watching Bob, and remained asleep until this morning at 8:21. I slept for about 13 hours. I am a toddler. And our bedtime routine works on me, too.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


This morning: "Tah-ms oosfl gin, Uh HUH!"
Trans: "Thomas [the Tank Engine] is a useful engine, uh huh."

The train obsession shows no sign of abating. Iain asked me to read the Richard Scarry dictionary Charles checked out of the library. I opened the book to "P" and began to read: "P is for Paint! P is for Park!"

P is for Please. Iain grabbed the pages and whipped onward toward "T." Because, you know, T is for TRAIN.

Above, the shuttle bus/train at the This is the Place State Monument in Salt Lake City. Yes, I know I'll be taking Iain there.

Obsession #2 is with Kipper the Dog. I can't find an embed, but this video on YouTube gives you a good idea of the appeal. Basically, Kipper is British, Kipper is nice, Kipper has two best friends (Pig, who is a...pig, and Tiger, who is a Scottish terrier), and Kipper is often funny. I like Kipper because there's almost nothing mean-spirited about it.

In other news, Charles has gone down with a cold, Iain's nose is running, and I have some kind of sneezing disease. It's 50 during the day, though, and my bulbs are definitely coming up. They're about 4 inches taller than they were last weekend. The buds on my pear and redbud trees are fit to burst, the dogwood and cherry are uncurling their leaves, and I can see that I'll be enjoying fresh herbs quite soon. The moment I've got a tulip, I'll be out there firing away with my camera, don't you worry.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

OK, A Little BSG Humor for Bart

Sooo...I'm out for a beer with my panel. "My" panel. As if. Anyway, the people who put together the panel graciously invited me to join them for a beer. Plus about 6 other people I didn't know. It was a fun crowd, with myself and the moderator as the only women.

Anyhoo, we went down to Tug Boat Brewing and had a beer.

At some point our host asked, for the third time, "Doesn't anyone else hear that music? Am I crazy?"

And I said, "No, dude, you're just a Cylon."

Half the table: falling over laughing.
The other half: crickets.

I guess we just identified the geeks.


I love me some trains! Trains! Trucks! I AM A BOY!

And I'm no longer alone.

As of March 11, our posse has been enlarged by the birth of Ellis Brown DeT., brother of Isla. He arrived with 7lbs, 14 ounces of delicious toes, ears, and belly fat to snorgle, plus 20.5 long inches of wriggling, squirming ready-to-go energy.

I can't wait to meet him. We can talk about Thomas, and cement mixers, and fire trucks, and all the stuff boys like. Plus waffles.

Oh, and The Mom is back. Back! I stealthily canceled her flight from Chicago so she had to fly into Louisville. Why? Because I got to spend a couple of hours with my #1 Girl while The Dad fetched The Mom. Yay! We visited the park and drank cocoa and generally had a good time. The Staff had no idea I'd engineered the entire episode. They're not too bright.