Friday, August 31, 2007

Super-productive Friday PSA

I don't know why I was stressing about that pre-proposal; I submitted it two hours early. It turns out that I ran out of pages before I ran out time (or things to talk about), and since it was a preproposal I didn't spend a huge amount of time revising.

So to celebrate, I bought a bunch of on-sale clothes for Minnow on And now I'm violating my no blogging from work credo.

But it's in the name of sharing some opportunities that have come across my e-mail lately.


On August 15, 2007, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Foundation made online applications available for its American Fellowships program, which offers three types of awards: Postdoctoral Research Leave Fellowships, Dissertation Fellowships, and Summer/Short-Term Research Publication Grants. The awards will support research conducted during the 2008-2009 academic year. Applications are due November 15, 2007.

The AAUW Educational Foundation is “one of the world's largest sources of funding exclusively for graduate women, [supporting] aspiring scholars around the globe, teachers and activists in local communities, women at critical stages of their careers, and those pursuing professions where women are underrepresented.” The foundation is a corporation of AAUW, which “has always prided itself on supporting the advancements of women in higher education.” Over the last 126 years, AAUW has grown to over 100,000 members, 1,000 branches, and 500 college and university partners.

All American Fellowship applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Applicants cannot apply for more than one American Fellowship and cannot be AAUW members. Specific criteria for each American Fellowships award is as follows:

    • Postdoctoral Research Leave Fellowships are for women who will have attained a doctoral degree by November 15, 2007. Several $30,000 awards are available for women in the arts/humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. One award is designated for a woman in an underrepresented group with a doctoral degree in any field.
    • Dissertation Fellowships are for women who will finish writing their dissertation between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009. Several $20,000 awards are available to women in all majors except engineering. Applicants must have completed all course work, passed all preliminary examinations, and received approval for their research by November 15, 2007.
    • Summer/Short-Term Research Publication Grants are for college and university faculty and independent researchers to prepare for publication. Approximately six, $6,000 awards are available for women in any major. Applicants must be available for eight consecutive weeks of final writing, editing, and responding to issues raised in critical reviews. Applicants must have received their doctoral degree by November 15, 2007.

In addition to the American Fellowships program, the AAUW Educational Foundation administers other programs for women researchers:

    • Career Development Grants support women who hold a bachelor's degree and are preparing to advance their careers, change careers, or re-enter the workforce. Special consideration is given to AAUW members, women of color, and women pursuing their first advanced degree or credentials in nontraditional fields. Funds are not available for doctoral-level work. The award range is $2,000 to $12,000. Applications are due December 15, 2007.
    • Community Action Grants offer one-year grants ($2,000 to $7,000), which provide seed money for new projects, and two-year grants ($5,000 to $10,000 total), which provide start-up funds for longer-term programs that address the particular needs of the community and develop girls' sense of efficacy. For both programs, topic areas are unrestricted, but should include a clearly defined activity that promotes education and equity for women and girls. Applicants must be women who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Applications are due January 15, 2008.
    • International Fellowships are awarded for full-time study or research to women who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Graduate and postgraduate study at accredited institutions is supported. Several awards will be made for Master's/Professional Fellowships ($18,000), Doctorate Fellowships ($20,000), and Postdoctoral Fellowships ($30,000). Fellowship recipients may study in any country other than their own. Applications are due December 1, 2007.
    • Selected Professions Fellowships are awarded to women who intend to pursue a full-time course of study at accredited institutions during the fellowship year in one of the designated degree programs in which women's participation traditionally has been low: Architecture (M.Arch, M.S.Arch); Computer/Information Sciences (M.S.); Engineering (M.E., M.S., Ph.D.); and Mathematics/Statistics (M.S.). Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. In addition, fellowships in the following degree programs are restricted to women of color who have been underrepresented in these fields: Business Administration (M.B.A., E.M.B.A.); Law (J.D.); and Medicine (M.D., D.O.). The award range is $5,000 to $12,000. Applications are due January 10, 2008. Engineering Dissertation awards ($20,000) are also available and due December 15, 2007.

Please visit the AAUW Educational Foundation website for details and contact information on these and other programs.


NEW YORK, NY, August 20, 2007 – L’Oréal USA announced today the start of the application period for its esteemed L’Oréal USA Fellowships For Women in Science program. Now in its fifth year, this national program aims to annually recognize, reward and support five women postdoctoral researchers in the U.S. who are pursuing careers in the life and physical/material sciences, as well as mathematics, engineering and computer science. As part of its commitment to further help women scientists achieve their goals, L’Oréal USA awards each recipient $40,000 to apply toward their postdoctoral research.

Since its inception in 2003, the L’Oréal USA Fellowships For Women in Science program has awarded 20 fellowships to women scientists across the U.S. Each year, the program has attracted a number of talented applicants from diverse scientific fields, representing some of the nation’s leading academic institutions and laboratories. A distinguished jury of nine eminent scientists – presided over by Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone, President, National Academy of Sciences - reviews the applications, and selects the L’Oréal USA Fellowships For Women in Science recipients.

The five beneficiaries of the 2008 L’Oréal USA Fellowships For Women in Science will be invited to attend a week of events in New York City that include an awards ceremony, professional development workshops, media training and networking opportunities. In 2008 these workshops, which are facilitated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), will encompass job search techniques, interviewing skills, budget development for grant requests and strategies for peer reviewed publication.

The L’Oréal USA Fellowships For Women in Science program is open to women postdoctoral researchers only. Candidates interested in applying may visit the L’Oréal USA Fellowships For Women in Science web site at, to obtain more information about program eligibility and requirements. All applications must be post marked by October 31, 2007.

The L’Oréal USA Fellowships For Women in Science complement the international L’ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science program -- which annually awards $100,000 each to five leading women career scientists, one each from Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Africa – and the UNESCO-L’ORÉAL International Fellowships, which annually grant, over a two year period, $40,000 each to 15 promising young women scientists, at doctoral or postdoctoral level, from around the globe.

-- more --

The L’Oréal USA Fellowships For Women in Science program, and its aim to advance the careers of women postdoctoral researchers in the U.S., is especially relevant in light of America’s waning competitiveness in the global marketplace. There is an urgent need to increase both the funding for basic science research in the U.S., and also the number of students, particularly girls and young women, majoring in science, mathematics and engineering.

Earlier this year, L’Oréal USA commissioned a national survey of adults and teens across the United States to determine perceptions of science in America. According to the findings, while 84% of adults surveyed view the role of science and scientists as critically important to world progress, nearly one third said they did not know a single female scientist -- including physicians -- on a personal level, and 73% admitted there are “too few” female role models in the sciences to encourage teens to be interested in the field. As a consequence, nearly 40% of all teens surveyed said they were “not at all likely” to pursue a scientific career.

L’Oréal understands the need to attract more women to science. In developing programs such as the L’Oréal USA Fellowships For Women in Science, L’Oréal hopes to support today’s women scientists, to develop female role models for generations to come, and to help shape the public’s perception of science in a positive light, particularly among young women.

For more information, please visit:

A worldwide leader in the cosmetics industry, L’Oréal develops innovative products to meet the diverse needs of customers in 130 countries worldwide. Nearly 3,000 people work in the Group’s 16 research centers, located in France, Asia and America. Their findings are responsible for the registration of hundreds of patents annually. Women represent 55% of the research workforce – a percentage unmatched anywhere else in the industry.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science ( AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million. The non-profit AAAS ( is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!,, the premier science-news web site, a service of AAAS.


Since its creation in 1945, UNESCO has been dedicated to eliminating all forms of discrimination and promoting equality between men and women. While designing scientific education programs intended especially for young women, UNESCO has created several academic chairs that connect women of science around the world. With 191 Member States, UNESCO functions as a laboratory of ideas and a standard-setter to forge universal agreements on emerging ethical issues. UNESCO works to create the conditions for true dialogue, based upon respect for commonly shared values and the dignity of each culture.

For more information please contact:


Jennifer S. James

Tel: +1-212-984-4414
Mob: +1-917-608-7038

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Being a professor - week 2: now in bullets

  • First student visit during office hours: He wanted to know how I reconciled a belief in God with what I'd been teaching that morning. Come on guys, give me a few softballs first to warm up, will you?
  • Best way to make your students like you: Make it look like you give a lot of extra credit, even if its just a sneaky way of getting them to learn things and won't affect their grade much in the end. They'll think you're easy. (Until they take their first quiz this weekend.)
  • Coolest meaningless thing: I got an email (to my old address) from someone whose work I had cited. She had seen that I'd cited her, googled me, and wanted to offer me a post-doc on an interesting (and funded) project. Too bad something like that didn't fall in my lap a year ago.
  • Wow moment: Turning on my big expensive piece of equipment for the first time today. Oh, and I turned on my hood too. Just to see if it was hooked up. It was, but the air and vacuum jets weren't.
  • Most serious time crunch: I have a preproposal due in in 19 hours and 5 minutes. I don't think I've got a single senetence written yet that I'd actually dare turn in. Plus, I haven't done a literature review. (Hence this blog procrastination)
  • Most annoying computer thing (to make Skookumchick feel a bit better): University laptop won't let me install iTunes because of the way they have the my documents folder set up. Despite the fact that I am an administrator on the machine, they disabled every work-around that I (and the iTunes help site) can come up with. I turned in a university tech "ticket" on Monday and they've yet to get back to me.
  • Most time-consuming computer annoyance of the week (also to make Skookumchick feel better): 1.5 hours spent installing and uninstalling various versions of Java so that Blackboard Vista would stop giving me error messages every single second.
  • Proudest moment of the week: digging out my pre-pregnancy skinny pants and fitting into every single pair, some with room to spare. Our scale batteries died during the move, but I'd guess I am below my pre-pregnancy weight by a couple of pounds.
  • Most fun: Getting a bit drunk at the university president's faculty receptions. Mmm, fruity liqueurs, how I have missed thee.
  • Minnow's biggest accomplishment: Cutting her first tooth. She tops all of my accomplishments hands down.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Research, unleashed.

The formidable Zuska is hosting the next edition of Scientiae (get your submissions in soon) and has declared that the theme for this month is "unleash." I've been pondering what exactly I was going to be able to contribute that fit the theme. Then as I walked across campus this afternoon, contemplating whether to submit Idea A or Idea B to a grant RFP, it hit me right in the face.

In grad school I was tethered, albeit loosely to my advisor's research interests. As a post-doc, I was tied to the project that provided my funding, although free to work on other side projects. But now as a brand-new assistant professor, I've finally been unleashed to research whatever my mind fancies. I don't have any pre-existing monies obligating me to finish up projects and I don't have such a focused funding and publication track record that I can't get funding to work on new topics. I'm free.

If I want I can go from working on subfield alpha to subfield gamma, and, as long as I have good fundable ideas, no one can tell me I'm working on the wrong thing. I can spend some time testing out ideas myself, and if they don't fly, I haven't let down a student by giving them a bad thesis topic. I can develop collaborations with whoever I want - whether they are at Mystery U or far away. When I go to a conference and listen to a great talk that gives me ideas, I don't have to shelve them for sometime when I am not encumbered by projects already underway. The freedom is exhilirating.

And, honestly, the freedom is a little scary. I don't have an advisor to steer me away from bum ideas or good ones that will take an impossibly long time to produce results. I don't have any students to keep publications churning if my independent ideas don't work out. Since I'm new in Mystery State, I don't have an established field site where I know the body of previous work and what research is still needed. In fact, I know very little about the -ology of Mystery State at all. I don't have other funding to fall back on if I send out a round of proposals that all get rejected. In fact, I don't even have funding to get the little supplies I need to get the big piece of equipment in my lab working so that I can generate some preliminary data. But mostly, I think, the obstacles are in my mind - the ever-present self-doubt that seems to come with the woman/academic territory. What if my research ideas aren't creative enough? What if I don't get funded? What if the results aren't what I expected?

But however scary, this freedom - to study what I want when I want - was a major driver pushing me to get my Ph.D. So it'd be a shame if I let my timidity and self-doubt get in my way now. I've got a pre-proposal due on Friday, a grant proposal due in late September, and another one due in early October. I don't know where I'm going to find the time to get those ideas flowing and the proposals written, but I am going to do my best, because this time I am doing research, unleashed.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Mommy Monday: Co-sleeping

Whenever I write a post where the fact that we cosleep is mentioned, I get a comment that asks me to share more about how it works, why we do it, etc. So I thought this would be a good time.

Disclaimer: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies under one year old sleep in their own beds. However, I've also seen statistics that say that something like 85% of families co-sleep at least occasionally. What follows is my personal perspective and should in no way be considered advice or endorsement.

When we were in the hospital after giving birth, and Minnow was so little tiny, she slept on my chest. It just seemed like her glass basinet was so remote, foreign, and cold after nine months of being in my womb. Neither of us was ready for it.

In those first few days and weeks, we kept co-sleeping because she slept better curled up next to me (or, more typically, on top of me). When I'd put her down she'd awaken within a few minutes. Plus, I was so tired and worn down that I needed almost as much rest as she did, so it made sense. Up until the point where I went back to work, I went to bed every night when she did and I held her or napped with her for her naps. Since I've been working (starting at ~2 months), we've been very gradually increasing the amount of time she's sleeping on her own. At first it was naps in the swing or short stints in the co-sleeper. Now she takes all her naps in the crib (or carseat) and goes to bed in the crib until someplace between 9 and 11 pm. When she wakes up at that point, I feed her and take her to bed with me for the rest of the night.

We never intended to put her in a crib in a distant room right away, but we never intended to have her sleep in bed with us either. We bought an Arm's Reach co-sleeper – a sort of pack-n-play that attaches to your bed. The idea was that the baby would be safely in her own sleeping area, free of suffocation hazards, but still be close when she needed me in the middle of the night. The idea may have been good, but it never really worked that way for us. I think she never spent more than 2-3 hours in her co-sleeper per night and when she was in her co-sleeper and I was in bed, I'd lie there awake with a hand on her belly to keep her asleep. And I missed her so. I found that I couldn't easily lift her out or set her into the cosleeper while I was lying in bed, so, having to get up anyway, a basinet would have just as functional. Once she started to really roll over, ~ 4 months, the co-sleeper wasn't safe anymore and we gave up on it completely. FYI, there is other co-sleeping gear available – snuggle nests are a popular item, and some cribs can be rigged to side-car against the bed.

So how does she sleep? She comes to bed in my arms and I lie down with her on my chest. Once she is sound asleep I roll her to one side where she generally sleeps nestled under my armpit. Sometimes she is between Fish and I, sometimes not. Before she was able to lift her head well and roll, I took scrupulous care to avoid having pillows or blankets near her, even if it meant that I spent the night with no blankets on my upper half. Now I'll often pull a blanket up to her waist. When she sleeps between Fish and I, we act as twin bedrails for her. When she is on my other side, my arm keeps her secure. When we had the co-sleeper attached to our bed, it acted as a bedrail. A few weeks ago, we tried attaching a bedrail to my side of the bed, but it made it too difficult for me to get in and out of bed, especially with Minnow in my arms. Before my early morning classes began, Minnow and I would sleep in together in the mornings – to someplace between 5:45 and 7:15 am – recently closer to the latter, thankfully. Now, two days per week, I have to sneak out of bed about 5:45 (after Fish has already gone to work). Then I am faced with a nasty choice: attempt to move Minnow into her crib, let her stay asleep in the bed and pray that she doesn’t roll while I’m in the shower, or wake her up and somehow manage to get a shower while she’s awake. The first choice is what I’d like to happen most days – she’ll get closer to her usual wakeup time and I’ll get a few minutes in the morning to myself.

OK, enough with the logistics…what are the good things about co-sleeping? The number one advantage of co-sleeping is that I get lots of cuddle time with Minnow – which is especially important for us now that I’m working full time. The second big advantage is the ease of night-time breastfeeding. If you don’t have tummy troubles, you can just roll over, line the kid up and go back to sleep. A few hours later, roll them to the other side and repeat. It’s a cinch. You get way more sleep than having to get up and stagger to a different room, where you end up falling asleep sitting up. The third advantage is that you know your child will never cry unheeded in the night. There’s no way you can ignore a crying child when she is in bed with you. Trust me, Fish sleeps like a log, and even he mutters “shhh” in his sleep when she cries out.

How about the disadvantages? The biggest one is fear. Fear that your child will suffocate. Fear that she will roll out of bed and get hurt. Fear that other people will disapprove of what you are doing. Fear that you will care what they think. Once you get over the fear factor, by getting a system that you know is safe and that works for you, the other disadvantages are minor (at least in my mind). Sure, it probably delays the normalization of sexual relations, but, dude, you are so tired and things are so sore, that might count as an advantage to the mother. Sure, we’ve all heard about kids that still sleep with their parents when they are in elementary school. But, I’m guessing that with the combination crib-co-sleeping we’re doing now, that it won’t be a forever battle to eventually wean her from our bed – when we’re all good and ready. And I look forward to continuing to co-sleep – at least occasionally – for years. It sure is handy when you travel.

Anyways, that’s how we’ve been sleeping for the past seven months and it’s probably how we’ll sleep if we have another child. Hope this answered your questions.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

When you feel like blogging

...but are too brain-dead to think, you do a meme!
This one courtesy of phd me

4 jobs I've had in my life
- economics tutor
- webmaster
- intern
- assistant professor!

4 places I've lived
- Utopia
- Mystery City
- Australia
- Midwest

4 favorite foods
- ice cream (but not now)
- tomato sauce (but not now)
- fresh mozzarella (but not now)
- hot chocolate (but not now)

4 places I'd rather be
- anywhere it's not 95+ degrees
- in the mountains
- on a sailboat
- on a raft in a river

4 movies I can watch over and over
- Princess Bride
- The whole nine yards
- mary poppins
- Pride and Prejudice (BBC miniseries)

4 TV shows I like to watch
- Gilmore Girls (but the last season was really disappointing)
- Jeopardy
- America's Next Top Model (my guilty pleasure)
- don't watch much TV anymore - I like to listen to NPR

4 websites I view daily
- bloglines
- gmail
- university home page
- google

4 computers I've owned
- an Acer
- a Compaq laptop
- a generic laptop
that's it

4 reasons I love what I do

- the variety
- the challenge of solving puzzles
- flexibility of when (but not how much) I work
- I like to make graphs!

4 reasons I don't
- the tremendous time required
- the feeling of inadequacy that sneaks up on me
- writing multiple choice exams
- students who write emails at 10 pm and expect a response by 10:30 pm

4 books I want to read again
- The Red Tent
- Rising Tide
- The Scarlet Letter
- The Boxcar Children

4 books I never need read again
- The Book of Margery Kempe
- Any Michael Crichton book
- The Babysitter's Club books
- anything by Stephen King

4 things that make me laugh
- Minnow's funny expressions
- people's blogs and the comments on them
- when Fish tickles me
- Bill Bryson (phd me mentioned him, but I just finished reading A Walk in the Woods so it's appropriate)

4 things that make me cry
- when Minnow cries when I leave her at daycare
- being desparately tired and not being able to get Minnow to go to sleep
- stories of babies/children/mommies hurting and losing each other
- when the dog dies in a book or movie

4 things I'm going to do this (academic) year
- survive
- submit two papers
- sneak away from work occasionally to play with Minnow
- hope to get a grant or two funded so I can attract a grad student

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Women in science: 2 vignettes

Vignette 1: Member at large
A large packet of my professional society newsletters were forwarded to me recently, and upon perusal, I saw that both of the societies in my field had recently named their new fellows (distinguished members). In the first society, a glance at the list of names suggested that roughly 20% of the new fellows were women. Given that I'm a physical scientist, I was actually fairly pleased with this result and thought kindly of the society for being inclusive.

Then I opened the newsletter of the other society, which helpfully had printed pictures of their new fellows. By a large margin, the pictures were of elderly white men. I didn't count, but I'd say that only 5% of the new fellows were women.

Why the disparity?

Vignette 2: A vanishingly small fraction
Last week we had our new faculty orientation at MU. Maybe I am used to viewing things through the women in science filter, but when I walked into the room and saw roughly half female faces I was inordinately pleased. The first woman I met was the new undergraduate coordinator in a science department and she had two small children of our own. We commiserated about daycare woes and I felt like I had found an ally - albeit one with no tenure clock looming in front of them.

Later in the day, a circle of introductions were made, and I was dismayed to discover that all the female faces that I had assumed to be sciencey were, in fact, not. The women faculty were in departments like art and English. And the new faculty in the sciences and engineering? Men.
There is a female visiting asst. prof in another science department and three women in the social sciences, but I am the only new tenure track woman in the natural sciences. I felt alone - abandoned by the people I had naively assumed to be compatriots. And that feeling was intensified as we made casual introductions after the formalities were over. I was the only new tenure track female faculty member that was married, much less a mother.

What's the take-away lesson from the new faculty orientation? Sure, you can may be a woman academic, but if you are, you probably aren't a scientist and you certainly aren't a mother.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

change in email address

I've grown weary of the clunkiness and unrealiability of hotmail, and have moved my blog email account over to gmail. Hopefully this will increase the frequency with which I check the account, but it probably won't increase the frequency with which I actually reply to messages in the account. That remains wholly a function of how much time I have (~zero) and how much I want to procrastinate (like right now). But, hey, it can't hurt to try.

For the record, you can send me email at science [full stop] woman at gmail [full stop] com

Teaching Tuesday: First day of class

  • I was so worried about being on time for class and being prepared. When I got to campus and parked, I had just enough time to go to my office, grab my syllabi, and take a moment to get organized. I decided to take the textbook so I could show my students what it looked like. I took along the printed copy of the slides with my notes. I go to the classroom, booted up the computer on the podium, and realized I’d left my USB stick (with the lecture on it) in my bag upstairs. Fortunately, I had enough time to run back and get it.
  • I’ve also been stressing about looking professional enough. The last week or two, I’ve been trying to notice what my colleagues wear (but there are not a lot of women to compare with) and carefully thinking through my outfits. As I made my way across campus this morning, I realized it was easy to distinguish between the faculty/staff women and the undergraduate girls. The faculty were the ones not wearing very short shorts, track pants, and flip-flops.
  • I’d forgotten how fun it is to track your enrollment changes. On Friday, I had 46 students in class. Monday, it peaked at 77. After class today, I was down to 71. And from here on out, I expect it’ll keep dropping.
  • I'd also forgotten how after you get that first week of lectures prepared, the feeling of elation is quickly replaced with the sobering realization that the next week isn't even started. That all that work only got you 1/16th of the way through the semester. I guess that's part of why I prefer research to teaching - it's easier to ignore the feeling of impending doom.
  • Speaking of such things, my decision to assign two short papers was weighing heavily upon me as the enrollment nearly doubled. But then what to my wondering eyes should appear? A TA assigned to me for 8 hours/week. Since I don't teach labs, (s)he is mostly to help with the grading. I hope (s)he doesn't mind reading papers. :)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mommy Monday: Minnow's Magnificence

Warning! Extensive bragging again. Those that don't give a hoot about my baby, should read no further.
  • She's fast. Her tummy still touches the ground when she crawls, but that doesn't slow her down as she makes beelines for the objects that catch her eye. She'll also go up and over Daddy or I to get what she wants.
  • Sometimes she'll crawl into my lap. It's very heart-warming.
  • She's been fascinated by the Princess Pup's shiny food and water bowls, crawling to them whenever she gets a chance. So yesterday we got her a shiny mixing bowl of her very own.
  • She also likes to crawl to and then remove the ceramic caps that hide the bolts that anchor our toilets. This is less endearing, and we are trying to discourage her by hiding the caps under towels.
  • However, she's figured out object permanence, so this may not work.
  • In the last day or two, she's started to pull up on things, chiefly her dresser drawers and my legs. If I am lying on my side, she'll pull herself up to supported standing by crawling her hands up my legs. We're also having a hard time keeping her seated in the bathtub because there is a handrail that's perfect for her to grab.
  • On Thursday, she started blowing raspberries. Now whenever she is crawling around or banging on something and is particularly pleased, she makes the sounds. It's pretty funny.
  • She's also added consonants to her sounds, including her cries. Her wailing now sounds like "mmmmmaa, mmmmmmmum." I'm not sure whether to be flattered or not.
  • Minnow has become a champion napper at least at home. We are consistently getting a two hour morning nap and a one hour afternoon nap. On days when she gets up extra-early (6:30 or before), she'll often take a bonus one hour early morning nap. All of these naps are now in her crib, which is a big development for us.
  • She's also sleeping the first 2-3 hours of the night in her crib, but the past few nights she's been really resisting bedtime. She wants to nurse every few minutes during the bedtime routine and then gets frustrated when there's nothing there for her. (Gee, I wonder why.) But once I get her asleep, she's an angel.
  • The first two hours of the night are her best sleep. Which is good (I get to eat dinner and get her bottles ready for the next day), and bad (by the time I go to bed, the average sleep period is just about 1.5 hours, sometimes as little as 30 minutes).
  • We're slowly introducing more solid foods. Minnow now eats rice cereal, sweet potato, pears, bananas, avocados, prunes, and oatmeal. Next up? Maybe green beans. She loves the sweet potato and pears, but the rest of the foods are hit or miss. The timing is really tricky, because she can't be too full from milk or she can't be bothered with the solid food, she can't be too tired because she'll get cranky, and she can't be too hungry because then she's too impatient for the slow process of eating solids and would prefer to get her fast food from me.
  • This weekend we debuted oatmeal. This was our first homemade cereal for her, because we couldn't find any commercial infant oatmeal without soy or wheat. You are supposed to introduce only one food at a time, and soy and wheat aren't appropriate for another couple of months, so it was pretty frustating to see them as ingredients in the infant oatmeal. Fortunately, it wasn't all that hard to make on our own. We've got lots of oatmeal on hand, because...
  • In an effort to find out whether there's a dietary cause to our nightly Minnow's tummy aches/wakes and cries/sleepless mommy routine, I've eliminated all the common allergens from my diet, restricting me to homemade, single ingredient foods. When you get rid of dairy, soy, eggs, wheat, corn, peanuts, tree nuts, beef, chicken, shellfish, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, garlic, green pepper, tomato, citrus fruit, caffeine, chocolate, and alcohol, there's just not a lot out there in the world of commercially available prepared food that you can eat. In vending machines and convenience stores, I can have some, but definitely not all, varieties of potato chips, and that's it. On the upside, because my diet is so restricted right now, I'm paying a lot of attention to trying to eat balanced meals, and I've obviously eliminated a lot of fat, preservatives, etc. And it's not forever. Theoretically, as the last traces of these potential allergens leave my body over the course of a month, things should start to improve for Minnow. And once they do, I can test foods one at a time. Those that don't trigger a regression can safely be added back to my diet. I really long for dairy and wheat.
  • In the meantime, I feel pretty confident that soy is one of her allergies (she'll probably grow out of it). Last week she had some soy-based formula at daycare, and it definitely did not go over well digestively. Fish thinks it might have been the big serving of prunes she had one of those days, but I don't think a single serving of prunes on Tuesday could have caused the problems that started Monday night.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Is it crazy to expect that next week will be easier?

Last week was a blur of meetings, new faces, new rules, new places. There were faculty orientations, receptions, convocations, and retreats. There were boxes to unpack, printers to be installed, and email to configure. There were parking permits to be purchased and parking ramps to be navigated. It was all rather exhilarating and quite exhausting.

Next week is the start of class. My syllabus is at the printers (I've only caught one error so far); my first lecture is mostly written; the blackboard site for the class has some rudimentary information. I'm feeling pretty good about the class actually, though I still don't have a copy of the same textbook edition that my students will be using. I'm sure that a few weeks from now, about the time their first papers come streaming in, I'll be delirious with class-preparation sleep-deprivation, but for now I'm cool.

I've got a couple of grant deadlines in the next month or so, and I'm looking forward to spending a few hours next week to actually thinking about potential topics, doing some reading, and eventually scoping out some field sites. A colleague at Mystery U (MU) reminded me of a potential field site near Mystery City, and suggested that it would be a great place to take a family hike. The thought of sneaking out for a half day with Minnow and walking through forests and fields is incredibly appealing right now ('til I remember the temperature outside). A colleague at Same State University (SSU) and I are trying to arrange for a field excursion to a site where we are both interested in working. And my -ology of Mystery State book suggested some potential field sites for another project I am thinking about proposing. If all three of those sites/projects go ahead in the next year or two, I'll really get to know the -ology of the state in a hurry.

I really like my colleagues - part of the reason that I was excited about MU in the first place. Everyone is just so dang nice. Even at our retreat, where a lot of festering problems were aired, everyone was polite and a good listener.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Any thoughts on PDAs?

The ol' pen and paper isn't cutting it this week/month/year, and my memory's not what it used to be. I added a bunch of stuff to my Outlook calendar, but then if I'm not at my computer, I can't see my schedule.

What I want is something that will serve as a calendar (including annoying reminders) and a place to keep all my various to-do lists organized. (Maybe syncing with Outlook.) The ability to wirelessly check email might be nice as well, but is not entirely necessary.

I'm thinking it's time to step up and buy a PDA, but I don't know about all my various options. Anyone care to provide a recommendation?

Mommy Monday: Separation Anxiety

Mine. Not hers.

We were apart for 10 hours today. The longest we've been away from each other since she was born. The rest of this week promises to be equally long.

I hate it. I saw her for an hour this morning as I rushed around getting her ready for daycare and me (semi-)ready for work. And then this evening, 20 minutes after I got home, it was time to start the bath and bed routine. All told, I got something on the order of 2 hours with her today, and much of it was distinctly not quality time.

I'm not gonna give up co-sleeping anytime soon. I need my baby. And she needs me.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Nervous as a school girl

The first "official" day of my contract is tomorrow. And I am nervous like those first day of school jitters that I got years ago.

Oddly enough I'm not nervous about the first day of class (next week), even though I still don't have a copy of the textbook, a syllabus written, etc. I'm not nervous about whether I'll stay awake during this week's long series of meetings or whether I'll remember people's names or when I'll figure out how to use WebCT effectively. And what I'm going to propose for two upcoming grant deadlines or when I'm going to finish the revisions on my paper are the farthest things from my mind.

Instead, I'm nervous about:
  • How early I need to be up in order to get Minnow and I ready for the day (since Fish leaves for work at 5 am)
  • How early I need to get Minnow to daycare in order to be at my first meeting on time (and not too sweaty)
  • When I'll manage to pump when I've got meetings scheduled straight through from 8 am to 4 pm (with some double-booking no less)
  • How I'll keep the milk cold in weather that's supposed to be 95 degrees
  • What my colleagues will think of me when I disappear into a bathroom at every break during the meeting
  • Whether there will be outlets in the bathroom for my electric pump
  • What the other women faculty will think when they walk into the bathroom and see me with my shirt open and two cones and tubes coming out of it
  • What people will say when I decline to eat the provided breakfast, snacks, and lunch and instead open up my very strange lunch (I'm currently eliminating 15+ commonly allergenic foods in hopes of solving our sleep/gas issues. So no dairy, soy, eggs, wheat, corn, beef, onions, etc. for me.)
Somehow I don't think the other new faculty have the same things on their mind tonight.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Focusing on the good

My mom's surgery was on Friday. They found that the cancer had not spread, and she shouldn't need any follow-up radiation or chemotherapy. It will take a while for her to recover from the major surgery though. Minnow and I will be with her starting Tuesday. I feel very helpless being this far away, and I'm sorry this has all fallen on to Brother's shoulders.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Week 1 on campus

I actually made it to campus this week. Got keys to my office. Got some boxes unloaded. Got my faculty ID card (worst picture ever) and filled out paperwork for human resources. Bought a book on the local -ology. Met with my new grad student. And a prospective student. Tried to get my computers working and alerted the techician to all the glitches. Got Minnow started a daycare (she refused a bottle on day 1, but took two on day 2) and learned how to get from daycare to campus. Discovered that, despite living six miles from campus, I'll need to leave at least an hour before I want to be there, if I have to drop Minnow off at daycare.

Actually, that's not a bad set of accomplishments for what amounts to two 1/2 days. But I already feel behind.

I need to...
  • (Figure out how to) order a textbook for my class.
  • Write a syllabus for said class.
  • Find out what the requirements are for our PhD program, so that I can properly advise my student.
  • Find out how to list a reading and conference type class.
  • Start writing a grant proposal for the state -ology grant program. On what, I don't know...
  • Finish the revisions on a paper.
  • Study the benefits paperwork and get signed up.
  • Find out when my first paycheck is arriving.
  • Get a parking permit.
  • etc. etc.
But I suspect that such a list is typical and only gets worse as the semester goes on.

A few observations:
  • It's interesting that I only ran into one other faculty member during my time in the department. Either everyone's enjoying the last few weeks of summer, working at home, in the field, or just keeping their office doors closed. I sincerely hope it's the first or third options, because that's the sort of department that I want to be part of.
  • Whenever I had a question or needed something, I was told to ask the associate chair, not the chair. I am starting to wonder whether the department functions like the current White House - ONLY in the respect that the real power lies not with the figurehead chair but with the behind the scenes mastermind.
  • It sure is different being a faculty member. I needed to photocopy a chapter from a book, and rather than being told I needed to pay 10cents a page to use the office machine, the departmental staff offered to do it for me. I think I could enjoy this...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

And then the other shoe drops...

We're being audited by the IRS. They want to count my fellowship income as self-employment income, costing another couple thousand in taxes for the year in question. I don't think they're right, but it means that I have to dig around and find out and then find documentation to show that the income was from a fellowship. If we lose our appeal, I expect that they will audit another couple years of taxes and we'll end up owing ~10,000. Yuck. And of course we only have a few weeks to get things in order.

Update: Oh! Crap! According to IRS publication 970 (Tax Benefits for Education), I was supposed to count it as self-employment income! Crap. Crap. Crap. Our only possible salvation now is that the year in question we used H&R Block and they should have caught something like that. In the dim recesses of my mind, I think there was something about if they made an error, they'd pay for it. maybe. maybe. ugh. ugh. ugh.