Thursday, February 28, 2013

The news

I'm pregnant. I'm sure you probably already know this, as my Mom & Dad have been shouting it from the rooftops since I took the test last Sunday. It's still very early (due late Oct, early Nov), and I'm honestly a little overwhelmed by the situation. The pregnancy was confirmed this morning at a doctors appointment, and I will have another one in about 2 weeks. Since I'm a scientist, I thought I would chronicle some of the things I'm going through.
  • I'm not overjoyed, and my feelings are complicated. I'm excited, but I'm also terrified, nervous, experiencing regret, and concerned. Sometimes, I'm super excited. Other times I wonder how I will do it all? I know there isn't ever the "right" time to have a kid, but I just don't feel settled. We are close to paying off our debt, which is good, but we also have an enormous, looming debt hanging over us. We don't own a house, and the likelihood of that ever happening is slowly vaporizing. I realize having a child should not be entirely about financial situations, but these are some of my concerns.
  • I don't feel sick, but I don't feel great. Some food just doesn't appeal to me at all. Other foods seems OK, but nothing is really like, YEAH, that sounds good to eat! Mostly, I've become a very picky eater, when I usually wasn't a picky eater at all before.
  • I'm both starving and not hungry at the same time. I also get hungry at really weird times, like right after I ate dinner, or at 11am in the morning. 
  • I'm not exhausted, but I'm not running a marathon, either. I can walk just fine, but I get out of breath really easily, so running isn't exactly happening either. I'm sorta not sure what to do with myself, as walking has not really been a part of my exercise regime. 
  • I just feel bad, and I can't really explain it. It's hard because I started this job 6 months ago, and I will have to take some time off (of course, this is my right, but still...). I feel bad "jumping ship" on my boss, and I feel bad for changing the life that my husband and I are leading (yes, of course I know he had a part in this too). I feel bad feeling bad about this stuff. I feel bad having a kid and being so far away from my parents and my in-laws. I feel bad because I should feel overjoyed and happy and just overcome with joy, but I don't. Not yet, at least. I feel bad that Alex has to clean the cat boxes now. Emotions and feelings are complicated, yo.
  • I'm drinking more water than I ever have in my life and I'm still constipated. The tummy pain is sometimes unbearable. The doctor suggested Metamucil. Joy. However, I will do ANYTHING to get rid of this pain!
  • I'm a scientist, and a developmental biologist, specializing in everything that happens right after fertilization. You can betcha that I'm a nervous wreck about all the things that can go wrong (mostly because I know them). I'm specifically thinking about genetic diseases, Down's Syndrome and neural tube defects like spina bifida, but I'm also thinking about things that we don't understand like OCD and autism. The first trimester is when everything gets set up, and all the pieces are put in the right places, so I'm hoping that everything is being put in the right place. Alex says that development is robust, and he's right, but, per usual, my Type A personality wants everything to go perfectly well.
  • I'm looking for any and all advice you might be willing to give. Websites you like, books that were good, and I'm also interested in nutrition and exercise during pregnancy, finding daycare, negotiating chores with your partner, etc. If anyone has any advice or thoughts on the process, please let me know. I'll love you forever!
  • In the meantime, I am focusing on taking things one day at a time. I know there's a reason it takes 9 months, and I know that Alex and I are just embarking on our next big adventure together (which actually makes me feel a little bit better). Pregnancy and reproduction is something I have always wanted to experience, so I'm lucky to even get this far. 
  • And as far as announcements go, I'm not going to mention this on facebook or twitter until things are very far along mostly because the people who matter to me read this blog, and lots of people I don't really know anymore are friends with me on FB. I feel that, for now, I'd like to keep things off the social networking sites, at least for the time being.  
Thanks for your love, folks. It means the world. xo

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book Review Saturday: Bossypants by Tina Fey

At Christmas, I went to this bookstore in Denver called the Tattered Cover. Its one of my favorite places on earth. Big, huge store, lots of squashy chairs, used books, a coffee shop, independently owned, right on the 16th street Mall. I love going there, and I love spending my book money there. I purchased Tina Fey's Bossypants, among others, because it was finally out in paperback, and I have wanted to read it since everyone had read it three years ago. This book, I devoured. It's not particularly well written, and it's not particularly fascinating, but it was damn funny. The book chronicles the parts of Fey's life that she wants to talk about, like how her career got started, how she ended up on SNL, and how she started 30 Rock. It's a very self-deprecating look at her life. While some of it, I think, was exaggerated, other parts I found hysterical. I could absolutely identify with her early job as a secretary at the YMCA in Chicago. I loved her "climb to the top", and her chapter about having a kid and how you do so (and how judgmental everyone in the world is about it) really hit home (oh, and was hysterical). It is not a book to read if you want to know more about Fey's gossipy personal life. She doesn't talk about why a man slashed her face when she was 5. She doesn't talk about meeting her husband, or deciding to get married. She does talk about her decision to have kids, and I think, through the comedy, it's a really honest portrayal of her experience. She's not holier than thou, she's not judgmental, and she's really humble about her life, her beginnings, and her job. I found some of the things she discusses to be tedious (like how she says, over and over again, that she works weird hours, works late, works early, etc and how stressful that is - we get it, life is stressful, no matter what job you have). She does talk about how she can afford things that others can't, and she does talk about how annoying it is when people say to you "how do you juggle it all?". You just do, that's how. I thought this book was a good, light read. I thought it was WAY different from most of those books that say "You can do it all, and more!". I love the idea of a successful woman, however she defines her success. And I love the idea that she didn't give advice (except maybe facetiously, or when telling you the rules of improv, or something like that), she just does. Which is what most of us do anyways, right?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Haiku Staring at my computer Friday

Writer's block. It's no 
joke. My head is full of sand
Nothing of substance.


Perhaps a walk, some
time outside. Mushy brain
not working much good.


Maybe I will use
today to stare off into
space. Explore cosmos.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Things I miss about Philly

  • Wood floors
  • Seasons
  • The terms "Yo!", "Wooder", "Iggles", "Vurrry", and "Burrrry".
  • Proximity to other cities
  • Row houses
  • Interesting architecture
  • Being 3 hours ahead
  • Walk-ability
  • People watching
  • Our dance studio
  • Friends
  • Backyard
  • Front stoop sitting
  • Bars and restaurants with cheap food and beer within walking or biking distance
  • The running path on the Schuykill
  • Boathouse Row
  • The city profile
  • Independence Hall
  • Cobblestone streets
  • Walking
  • Basements
  • The Phillies
  • The Art Museum
  • Our little street in our little neighborhood
Things I don't miss about Philly
  • Gray skies
  • The ice
  • The day after the snow
  • The bus
  • The trash
  • The traffic
  • My job
  • My work facilites
  • Au Bon Pain
  • The potholes
  • The lack of bike lanes
  • The honking
  • The yelling at bikers
  • Trader Joe's on a Sunday afternoon
  • How far away I was from my family
  • The fact that most of my friends had left the city
  • The airport
Things I love about where I am now
  • I can go home to see my folks anytime I want
  • The sun is out a lot
  • Spring is already here
  • Bike lanes are everywhere
  • I see hawks every day
  • There are furry cows on green hills on my drive to work every morning
  • I have access to lots of cool stuff at Stanford
  • People are genuinely nice and want me to succeed
  • I work with really nice people
  • I genuinely enjoy my work
  • My boss is super cool
  • There are mountains, there is ocean
  • We have some good friends not too far away
  • We are trying to make more friends
  • Our benefits are super nice and good
  • We are surrounded by technology and a "can do" attitude
  • Everything is super NICE
  • There is no trash
  • Recycling and composting is everywhere
  • I have access to the gym for free
  • Showers are close by my lab
  • I have tons of resources to do some crazy ass experiments
  • Everything in the lab is the best quality
  • We have two cars
  • I have a new bike

Things I could do without where I am now
  • The cost of living
  • Suburbia
  • Our crappy apartment
  • The lights that are constantly out at our apartment
  • The fact that we can't have a BBQ on our balcony
  • My neighbor who snores
  • My neighbor who must run everywhere
  • No insulation in the apartment
  • The fact that housing is so tight, and the cost is so high, we will probably never be able to own in this area (barring a lottery win, I suppose)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday Book Review: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

This book has been on my list to read for a really long time and I was so pleased to receive it for Christmas this past year. This book is subtitled "The Power of Thinking Without Thinking", and it's all about those subconscious decisions you make on a daily basis. Have you ever met someone and you immediately didn't like them but couldn't put your finger on it? Has anyone ever described something (an object, a situation), and you automatically know there's something wrong with it but you can't put your finger on it? I get this feeling about experiments people describe to me, talks I attend. I've even gotten this feeling during job interviews, knowing when things are "right" and when things are "wrong". This book is about these snap decisions - when they go right, and when they can go horribly wrong. The book starts off with a story about a piece of art the Getty Museum wants to buy. The group of experts the Getty gathers together do extensive tests on the art, attempting to validate the age and origin of the art. However, it's almost as if they can't see the forest through the trees. The art is a fake, and some of the experts protested loudly, just "knowing" something was wrong with the piece. However, they couldn't put their finger on it. It likely was a number of aspects that the experts' subconscious had picked up on (wrong angles, odd coloring, slightly off size or shape - things that likely weren't obvious except to a very trained eye). This is this fascinating subconscious decision-making going on, that we rarely can even identify or realize it's happening. This book was really well written, and had a nice scientific point of view that I appreciated. It discussed a number of studies, mostly psychological, or sociological that had been done in more recent years. For example, one study involved giving minority college students a test consisting of a number of the harder questions from the SATs. One group just took the test, while the other group was asked their ethnicity prior to the test. The students asked their ethnicity did significantly worse on the test, and the authors suggested that their identification as a race with negative connotations, even subconsciously, can significantly affect student performance. (As an aside, I did not read the original study, but presumably the two groups of students should have performed equally on the test). This suggests that the power of our subconscious is much stronger than we think. The book also discusses the situation in NYC where four cops shot a black man an enormous number of times because he was pulling out his wallet (they thought he was pulling out his gun). It shows just how wrong our subconscious can be, and how we shouldn't always trust it, especially in situations of extreme duress. This book was a really interesting read. It's broken up into chapters, as well as sub-chapters, so it's a great "before bed" read, as you can read as much or as little as you like. It's well written, and it's not written in "science speak" (meaning, non-scientists should be able to read and understand the concepts and experiments with ease). I highly recommend this book to anyone interesting in learning a little bit more about how our brain works!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Weekend Wrap Up

  • We left Friday afternoon for the weekend at my folk's house. I feel so lucky that I can go home just so easily to celebrate my Dad's birthday!
  • The weekend was absolutely beautiful - the weather was so lovely, I even wore a dress!
  • I got spoiled on Saturday, Randi and I went for mani/pedis and sushi. It was the perfect afternoon.
  • Saturday night, we ended up at Dominick's for gigantic Italian dinner. Wow, could I eat any more?
  • We ended the evening back at Brad and Randi's, playing some Rock Band, and a little bit of Glee Karaoke. Alex got really mad at the "show-tuney" versions of the songs. I found it kinda hilarious!
  • I got to bond with my new buddy, Casey D. It's so fun to see how much he grows each time I see him. He's talking in almost sentences now, and I can mostly understand him. We played a pretty serious game of "Zie Hide!" in his Mom and Dad's bed. It was mostly the funniest thing ever.
  • Sunday was a big party for my Dad. I got to see my Uncle and Aunt, Brad and Randi and the kiddo, and a bunch of my Dad's close friends. The BBQ was tasty, the food was amazing, and the company was fantastic. It was so wonderful to get to see everyone and just hang out. It's also awesome that it hasn't been ages since I've seen all these people!
  • Monday, we opened presents (Stanford T-shirt and mug, and a Piper hat for Dad), ate a gigantic breakfast, thanks to my husband and got on the road. I was beat when we got home, so I ended up on the couch, just watching TV and hanging out, which was lovely. 
  • One of my favorite things to do when I am home is walk the dog. My parents live in such a nice neighborhood, it's always a pleasure to walk around it. And Valentine is just the happiest dog ever. She loves to walk, and is so good on a leash. It's also a great time to get to hang out with Mom, and it's always interesting to wake up (literally) walking in the crisp morning air. Good times.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy birthday, Dad!

You're the best Dad a girl could ask for and I am so happy I can spend your birthday with you! I love you lots! Cheers to many, many more birthday! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Weekend Wrap Up

  • Spent Friday running errands, and getting some stuff done
  • Saturday morning was my 5K, and I think I maintained a 9:30 mile for the whole thing! I am super proud of myself for pulling that out, especially since I gave myself approximately 1 month to get ready for it! I am ready to bring running back into my regular life, and I'm excited for signing up for another challenge. It's also awesome to be able to do this is February (!!), whereas the rest of the country is freezing, and definitely not running outside. Yay for living in CA!
  • Saturday, Alex and I had a night in, enjoying a marathon of James Bond movies. We watched Dr. No, part of The World is Not Enough and Live and Let Die. It was a great night in, snuggling on the couch and ordering Chinese. I even managed to get the laundry done without fighting with the neighbors, which is always a bonus.
  • Sunday, I tested out my hands on a 10 mile bike ride all the way to the bay. Alex and I took the local bike path, and I have to say it was pretty rough on my hands. However, it was great to be back on the bike again, and it was a gorgeous day, so I can't complain too much.
  • I headed to Kohl's with two $10 coupons, found two sweaters for $12 and $16 each and a long sleeved shirt for $4.80 (!) and I spent a total of $13. I love sales and I love finding things I will wear on super sale. Yay for Kohls!
  • I spent the rest of Sunday running some errands and cleaning house. I made some Chili, which just hit the spot. I also got the old bananas in a banana bread and a loaf of sourdough (oh, it's not really sour yet, but its trying). 
  • I got the chance to talk to both my folks and my in laws, which was lovely. I didn't have to work, which was also lovely. There are some things I didn't get done, but altogether I think it was pretty good. Next week is a trip home to see my folks. It's my Dad's 70th birthday, and I'm pretty excited that I get the chance to celebrate with them when this time last year I was 3000 miles away.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Feb 1

Hard to believe it's already February! The month of LOVE, right? I think LOVE might be the focus and theme of some of my goals this month.

As a reminder, here are the big goals:

Financial: Buy a house someday. Save money for retirement. Save two months salary in our savings account for emergency use. Stick to a reasonable budget.

Spiritual: Live in and for each moment. Appreciate. Breathe. Let go of the negative and embrace the positive in each aspect of life. Embrace patience. Love yourself.

Career: Become a professor at a university. Stay on top of experiments and what they mean. Step outside the box more, and embrace change and technology. Remember that science is fun.

Health: Eat well, mostly plants. Drink water. Take my vitamins. Minimize the consumption of processed and fast foods. Take care of my body. Think about the food I put in it before I eat. Appreciate.

Physical: Wake up at 6am. Be strong in my body by regularly exercising 30 minutes each day. Focus on getting my hands better, meaning rest them at intervals, and give them a break when needed. Focus on releasing the muscles in my neck and shoulders. Learn self work. Ice and heat hands daily.

Organizational: Keep lists of everything, including the small and inane and the big and far-fetched.

Relationships: Focus on the people in my life and enjoy them. Make it a priority to talk on the phone more often.

New Things: Try something new every week.

Here's how I did on my goals for January:

  • I will begin contributions to my new Stanford 401K. CHECK!
  • I will continue contributions to my Roth IRA. CHECK!
  • I will put $100 into savings. CHECK!
  • I will bring my lunch to work every day. CHECK!
  • Keep a gratitude journal. I did not achieve 100% with this one. I think it will be a continued goal of mine!
  • Start a "To do list" for work - include long term experiments, short term goals, and everything in between Did not do this. I actually completely ignored the "To Do" list this month and I'm not too sure why.
  • Blog twice this month about science: interesting topics I've been thinking about are about microwaves, mammalian reproduction and "blink" or autoimmune disease. Time got away from me (ha, see previous goal!) and I didn't get a chance to really dig into this. I am hoping to do this in Feb.
  • Attend one seminar on any topic you like CHECK!
  • Purchase a book on trigger points, and find those that pertain to me CHECK!
  • Ice and heat hands daily, while watching TV or when winding down for the day. I didn't do this, actually, because I found it to be quite uncomfortable.
  • Come up with a simple, at home, routine of stretching and strength exercises. Oh, man. I had SUCH good intentions for this! But alas, I did not accomplish it!
  • Perform this routine every day this month, preferably in the morning Nope, didn't do it. However, I did exercise more this month than I did last month.
  • Put an emphasis on walking, biking or running daily. I did pretty good with this one!
  • Check out an aerobics class on campus. Didn't do this.
  • Clean out new furniture CHECK!
  • Make a donation to Goodwill CHECK!
  • Organize second bedroom CHECK!
  • Call Mom and Dad twice a week CHECK!
  • Call In laws once a week I didn't do this!
  • Call a friend once a week I didn't do this!
New Things
  • Went for a couple runs around campus
  • Went for a hike with my lab
  • Went to a party with Alex and his lab-mates
  • Went to San Francisco with some friends
I actually feel pretty good about the goals I met last month. I feel like I am also getting better at writing goals, really defining what I want and how I want to get where I want to be. This month, I am choosing to focus on me - all about me, who I am, who I want to be, and all that jazz (as if it's ever about anyone other than me on my blog, right?). I am taking a hint from the month of February and making it all about love, too. Let's see how I do!

We've been slowly clawing our way out of debt for the last couple of month and I think we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! This is pretty exciting, and means we only have a month or two left of paying off the credit card and we are DEBT FREE! And trust me, we will STAY that way!
    • I will finish our taxes, both for last year and the estimated for this year. I will ensure all the paperwork is in order, and I will make sure we have enough money to pay what we owe. I may wait until next month to file, especially if it turns out we owe.
    • I will pay off two credit cards this month (can I get a WAHOO??!?!?!)
    • I will not charge anything to any credit card this month. I will only pay cash for everything.
    • Bring my lunch to work every day.
    I am usually hesitant to try to keep the same goal two months in a row. If I don't meet a goal, that means something is wrong with the goal or how I am trying to achieve it. However, I believe that I genuinely FORGOT to try keeping a gratitude journal, which is somewhat problematic. I am willing to give it another try. Also this month, I am going to try something a little bit different. I've lost quite a few friends and family members over the years and sometimes it's hard to remember what people were like, or how much of an influence they had on you. So, each month, I am going to try little "remembrances". Each of the people I knew had some lovely characteristic that made them stand out. Each month, I will pick a different person and try to emulate their wonderful characteristics. I think this will not only keep this person in the forefront of my mind, but also might help me work on areas of my personality that are lacking.
    • Keep a gratitude journal.
    • Emulate my Grandpa. He just passed away in September 2012. He had two wonderful characteristics: He never complained and he loved every moment of his life. I am going to work on getting more enjoyment out of life, and not complaining (this might be really hard, folks, but we shall see!).
    I feel so incredibly lucky to be at Stanford. This school is amazing and everyone is so wonderfully supportive and incredibly talented. I couldn't be happier where I am. This month, I really need to buckle down and get some data that I can use for a grant submission. So most of my career goals will be focused on my NRSA application.
    • Attend NRSA training and get the application started
    • Ask my rec senders for recs
    • Get Illustrator and Photoshop working on my computer
    • Collect data and arrange into figures when possible
    • Outline grant proposal and catch up on background reading
    • Submit pilot Seq and Spec?
    • Get all other documents in order or started (facilities, animal protocols, etc)
    • Look into other potential forms of funding
    • Check into SDB meetings and funding situations
    I feel really lucky that my recent bout with carpal tunnel seems to have abated. However, I have to say I am quite worried about pushing my hands too much or doing too much too fast. So, for now, my goals will be a little bit smaller, but no less significant. 
    • Eat regular meals on weekends (meaning, breakfast, lunch and dinner, no skipping meals, or having junk for a meal)
    • Continue trigger point work, and see if I can get a therapy prescription from my doctor
    • Find a dentist and optometrist and make appointments.
    • Take care of myself - get my hair cut, paint my toes, shave my legs.
    • Complete a 5K on Feb 9. 
    • Run 3x a week
    • Bike to work once a week
    • Continue your strength training twice a week
    • Check out the pool at Stanford
    • Check out the gym at Stanford
    • Look into one yoga class during the week
    • Unpack the last three boxes
    • Tidy up living room and keep it tidy
    • Keep track of my goals and how I'm doing. Blog about goals weekly.
    • Call Mom and Dad twice a week
    • Send a card
    • Call my in-laws once
    New Things
    • Do something new every week!
    Well, there you have it folks! My goals for this month! Let's see how I do!