Sunday, November 30, 2008

Zenbit: Beached Sunrise

Location: Ko Ngai, Thailand
February 19, 2006

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Self Punishment

Pumpkin's day care uses time outs when a child does something particularly bad, like bite another child. We've been making limited use of them at home, too, also only for physical violence. When Pumpkin bites or hits one of us, or pulls my hair, and doesn't stop after a couple of warnings, she gets a very short time out. Hubby, who is the one who started using this technique, decided that the time outs would be performed by sitting in front of the dishwasher in our kitchen.

Lately, Pumpkin has started giving herself time outs. This invariably happens when she's pretty wound up during a play session- giggling and hugging and tugging on us. Sometimes, she'll pull my hair or hit Hubby. Even on the first warning, she will sometimes starting talking about sitting and "no, no", and march herself into the kitchen to sit in front of the dishwasher. Hubby and I will just watch her go, and wait for the (rather convincing) fake crying that starts as soon as she sits down. We'll let her sit there for 20 seconds or so, and then go out to pick her up. About half of the times, she'll immediately pull hair or hit again. When this happens, we just try to redirect her to a calmer activity, since time out seems to be part of the game. The other half of the times, she'll go to the person she hurt, sign sorry on that person's chest ("sorry" is a closed fist circled on the chest) and say "sorry". Then she'll kiss it better, and go back to playing. Sometimes, if I'm the person she hurt, she'll also trace tears on my cheeks. This is the sign for "crying", but she uses it to mean "sad".

We're not really sure what this self punishment routine means, or what, if anything, we should do differently. I think I'll go back and reread some of the parts of Playful Parenting, by Lawrence Cohen, to see if I get any ideas.

I do worry that she has inherited my generous capacity for self admonishment. I will often (over) analyze events that didn't go exactly how I wanted, and find things to blame on myself. If only I'd said X...., I'll think, or Why did I do Y??? I have worked hard to control this tendency, particularly in the work place. I have always assumed that this tendency is cultural, or at least learned. Has Pumpkin really learned this already? Could there also be a genetic component? Some gene or combination of genes that makes us more prone to find fault in ourselves? I don't know if that is a liberating thought (its not my fault!) or a terribly depressing thought (there is nothing I can do).

However, while a new little self-critic is in the making, the older one is getting better at going easy on herself. Tonight, I made the crusts for the pumpkin pies we'll have for Thanksgiving. I'll make the fillings tomorrow night. We're going to have 13 people here for Thanksgiving, so I'm making two pies. One of my crusts turned out great- it didn't shrink or crumble. The other crust shrank badly in a few spots, so that the top of the crust almost turns down into the center.

In past years, I might have been tempted to throw away the offending crust and try again. Not this year- I shrugged and moved on to the next task on my list. Maybe my little Zen master is having more success than I thought.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More Ambivalence

I stumbled across a very well-written blog post about the plight of the Big 3 automakers, or more specifically, about the plight of the communities built around them. It is a thought-provoking post.

I wrote earlier about my ambivalent reaction to the financial industry bail out. I am also ambivalent about the calls for the bail out of the car industry, but for different reasons.

Once again, I understand the reasons for a bailout, and I don't really want to see GM and/or Chrysler fail. I wonder how bad our economy is going to get, and I worry about the fate of all of those workers who depend on the car industry in some way to put food on their tables.

But I am still ambivalent, largely because it seems to me that any government money is just going to postpone the inevitable for the American car industry. It seems that the industry needs to go through some painful restructuring and perhaps downsizing before it can be healthy again. I can't figure out whether it would be worth the cost in tax dollars to delay this inevitable restructuring. Would we delay it long enough to allow the general economy to recover, so that the workers who lose their jobs will be able to find other jobs? Maybe we should just take the money and put it directly into programs to help laid off workers, and let the car companies figure out some other way forward without our tax dollars.

I know that my view of layoffs and job security is skewed by the industry I work in. I work in biotech, where it is considered a log run if you last 5 years at a company. Some companies don't even last 5 years. Companies merge, get bought, and just plain go under all the time, even when they have good ideas and competent management. And even if your company is doing OK, you might be laid off because it has decided to change research directions, or needs to conserve cash to extend its "runway" (the amount of time it has before it runs out of money).

Biotech is a risky business, but it is a lot of fun. I love the team atmosphere and the sense that I can make a difference at my company. I have been laid off, and I have watched many, many friends get laid off, too. Most of us were re-employed before our severance check is exhausted, but I have also watched some friends struggle to find the next job. In some ways, this has been a good experience, because it means that Hubby and I have a substantial buffer of savings set aside in boring, safe investments, waiting to tide us over if I lose my job. It means that I am always thinking about what skills I need to add to my resume and what experience I should try to get to make myself more employable.

My industry can be brutal, but it is also quite resilient. I think this resilience comes from the fact that there are many small companies (and a few very big ones), all trying different things and innovating in their own ways, trying to fulfill unmet medical needs (i.e., get a drug on the market). If one company gets in trouble and lays off a lot of people, there are other companies around who might be hiring.

This experience in biotech makes me wonder if what the auto industry needs is to splinter into more companies. Sure, there were synergies and economies of scale from the conglomeration of all those brands. But maybe the industry would be better off if there weren't so many models that look just like other models. Maybe it would be better off if there were some scrappy little "auto-tech" companies coming up with new designs and innovating on production processes. Most of these companies might fail, but some would succeed. And one or two might just change transportation the way Genentech changed medicine. Tesla Motors is one such company. Why aren't there more?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Her Way

'I can't seem to stop posting gratuitously cute toddler stories. It is not that Pumpkin doesn't do infuriating/not so cute things as well, and it is not that I don't have other things I want to post about (for instance, this post on Slashdot, which I should have known better than to read) ... it is just that I am so thoroughly enjoying watching Pumpkin learn new things right now that those other things are getting pushed to the side.

So, without further ado, here is the daily dose of cute:

1. Pumpkin has learned how to tell us to leave her alone and let her do things herself. She says "Mommy, 'way!" as in "Mommy, go away", and pushes my hand away. This weekend, she wanted to go out on her trike, which has a push handle. She hasn't figured out how to pedal yet, but she does a good job of pushing the trike along with her feet. Every now and then, she would hit a bump in the sidewalk that she couldn't get over. I'd push her with the handle to get her over the bump, but she would always turn around, wave me off, and say "Mommy, 'way!" It was a very long walk.

2. Hubby has discovered a trick to get Pumpkin to finish her food when she is dawdling. He asks if he can have some, and starts to take it. She says: "No! Mine! Daddy, 'way!" and rescues her food, then puts it in her mouth.

3. She likes shoes (she gets this from me). She likes to bring us our shoes, and tell us "Mommy shoes" or "Daddy shoes". She has associated tennis shoes with my dad for quite awhile (she brings me my tennis shoes and says "Boppa shoes!"), but just last night she showed us that she knows what kind of shoes my Mom wears, too. My Mom usually brings her moccasins over to wear as slippers around the house. Pumpkin was helping Hubby look through the REI catalog last night, and saw a picture of moccasins, which she pointed to and labeled "Mimi shoes!"

That's enough cute for tonight. I promise I'll try to move on to some other topic soon.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Zen Lessons

I've written before about how Pumpkin is my very own Zen master. I am not the best student- I tend to be impatient and not very good at enjoying the moment or accepting things as they are. However, on my way out of day care today, I got a reminder of how far I've come.

Another mother walked past me and Pumpkin on our slow progression across the playground. Pumpkin was walking, holding my hand, and sucking on a sippy cup of water. Every so often, she would stop and tell me about one of the other kids on the playground. A few times, she dropped her water and we had to stop and pick that up. The other mother commented about how it would take us all day to walk out to our car at this rate. I laughed and agreed, but said that I've learned that it doesn't really work to hurry Pumpkin.

As we continued on our slow progression, I was struck by the fact that not so long ago, I would have just picked Pumpkin up to hurry us along. Pumpkin would have yelled and kicked and fought me all the way, and we wouldn't have pulled out of the parking lot any sooner than we did today.

Maybe next I'll learn how to appreciate the time she wants me to spend on the floor, watching her build towers out of Duplo. "Mommy, sit!" she says when I try to move. So I sit, but not with the good grace that a Zen master requires of her students. This grasshopper still has much to learn.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Zenbit: Stellar Toilet

I would love to see the rating guidelines.

Location: Beijing, China
March 17. 2006

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Daily Warm Fuzzy

I defy anyone to watch the after work scene at a day care and not grin and say "awwww" at least once.

If she sees me coming, Pumpkin greets me by running to the gate of the toddler play yard and marching in place while clapping and laughing loudly. Even other parents smile.

When I get inside the yard and pick her up, Pumpkin immediately starts waving bye-bye to her teachers, and telling me that it is time for her after school snack and water. But before we can go, she has to hug her little friends good bye. She always hugs her two best friends, but sometimes, like today, she also hugs the somewhat befuddled other toddlers nearby. And sometimes another toddler comes running up and wants in on the love.

We go inside and have our snack, then walk out past the front desk, through the playground for the bigger kids, out the gates, and to our car. We walk past children of various ages hugging their mommies and daddies. The older ones are talking about their days. The youngest ones are snuggling in close. And the ones in between are chattering in the semi-coherent toddler speak that is so cute and so frustrating. Sometimes someone is throwing a tantrum because they don't really want to stop playing or they don't want to get in their car seat. The other parents smile indulgently. Tantrums are cute when it is not your kid.

The trip to day care to pick up Pumpkin adds at least 30 minutes to my commute. It takes 10 minutes to get to the center, then another 10 minutes to get Pumpkin through our after day care routine and into her car seat. By the time we leave, traffic is heavier than it was when I arrived, and the drive home is through stop-and-go traffic for at least a few exits. But I never want to give up picking her up, even when Hubby offers because some change in the morning routine required me to do drop off. Day care pick up is my favorite part of the day, not because I feel bad about leaving her at day care- she's clearly thriving there- but because the mundane joys I find there remind me what life with kids is all about.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Confessions of a Picky Eater

I am a picky eater. I am a lot more adventurous in my eating than I was when I was a kid, but I am still picky.

If I could just stop being a picky eater, I would. It would make eating out and dining at friends' houses easier. And it would travel even more fun- no more lunches like the one I once had in Tokyo, where we couldn't read the menu, and no one spoke English. So we were reduced to trying to guess what the little plastic meals on display represented. Was that nondescript brown square breaded chicken? Pork? Fish? Or something stranger? Hubby happily pointed at a plastic meal, confident that he would like whatever came out. I was practically paralyzed with fear. I was really very hungry. But what if the plastic meal I pointed at represented something I didn't like?

Given this genetic inheritance, it is not all that surprising that Pumpkin has also turned out to be a picky eater. I obviously want to help her learn to like as many foods as possible from an early age. This desire initially manifested as an interest in Pumpkin's eating habits that bordered on obsession. What should her first food be? When should we introduce finger foods? What finger foods? I googled on these things incessantly.

Of course, this obsession did nothing to improve Pumpkin's eating habits. I eventually realized that I needed to chill out on the subject. I decided to read the book about how to feed your child, Child of Mine, by Ellyn Satter, and follow its advice.

A funny thing happened while I was reading this book, though. I discovered that I actually knew more about how to handle a picky eater than I had initially thought. After all, I had first hand knowledge of what goes on in a picky eater's mind! So I ended up formulating my own plan, based largely on Ellyn Satter's advice, but also incorporating what I know about being a picky eater, and bringing in some thoughts I had while reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan.

From Ellyn Satter's book, I took the idea that I can't force Pumpkin to eat, and that trying to do so would just set up a contest of wills and turn dinner into an unpleasant experience. I like her mantra that it is the parent's job to decide what to serve and when to serve it, and it is the child's job to decide whether and how much to eat.

From my personal experience about being a picky eater, I took the following things:

1. There are some foods that actually make me gag if I try to eat them. For me, these include iceberg lettuce and beans. In both cases, it is a texture problem. I will not eat these foods, and actually threw up once when the issue was forced.

2. There are some foods that just taste really, really bad. The scientist in me suspects this is due to the particular variants of taste receptors I have. The eater in me just knows that I can't stand peas, and will never like peas, no matter how many times I try them.

3. When I was younger (OK, and even now), I would often dig in my heels and refuse to even try something new if someone made a big fuss about the fact that I didn't want to eat something. I would be particularly stubborn if someone tried to reason with me and make me see that I was just being silly by refusing to try the food. I was (and am) far more likely to try something new if the fact that I am not eating it is just ignored.

Finally, Michael Pollan's discussion of the omnivore's dilemma (our need to figure out what to eat, because our biology does not do it for us) made me think about just how hard it is for a baby to learn what is safe to eat. There are so many things out there that a baby could eat that would have disastrous consequences. It is really sort of amazing that they will eat anything. With this in mind, it is not at all surprising that Pumpkin will ignore a new food the first 5 times it is presented to her, nibble a tiny bit of it and spit it out on the 6th through 10th time, and then finally eat some of it on the 11th try. This is good behavior from an evolutionary standpoint!

So, what method did I come up with based on all of these ideas? It is very similar to Ellyn Satter's suggestions, with a few twists:
  • We offer Pumpkin some of whatever we are eating.
  • We make sure there is plenty of some food that we're fairly confident she will eat at every meal. I deviate a bit from Satter's recommendations, here. She recommends making that fall back food bread. It often is in our house. In fact, we always have bread at dinner. But sometimes we make a couple of chicken nuggets or other main course food to offer with our meal, as well.
  • Pumpkin has always been on the small size for her age, so our doctor told us not to limit her access to any food she likes. Therefore, we tend to give her as many crackers (her favorite food) as she wants. She can always have a cracker or two with her meal, just by asking for it.
  • We pick a new food we want to introduce, and offer it frequently over the course of a few weeks. This will often (but not always) lead Pumpkin to eventually try the food. This is how we got chicken nuggets on the menu in the first place. We also successfully introduced tortellini this way. Right now, we're working on corn. We're at the nibble and spit out stage....
  • I look at what Pumpkin likes and try to think of other similar foods that we could introduce to slowly get her used to new tastes and textures. Based on her initial love of crackers, we added dried snap peas and some freeze-dried fruits. Once she clearly liked chicken nuggets, we moved on to little frozen fish sticks (we have a roughly 50% success rate with those).
  • I try to make sure that no one makes a big deal out of what Pumpkin won't eat. If she doesn't want something, she doesn't have to eat it. We are trying to teach her to just leave it on her plate, but right now she just hands it back and says "no".
We've been patient and stuck to this plan, and we have slowly seen the list of Pumpkin-approved foods grow. There are several dinners we can make now that we are fairly confident she will eat. She continues to grow and thrive. And I don't stress about food nearly as much as I used to!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sleeping in the O.C.

I'm sure no one will be surprised that Pumpkin did just fine with her grandparents over the weekend. They have a hilarious video of her dancing with joy, taken about 5 minutes after we left to her wails and anguished cries of "Mommy! Sit!" She even did fine in the middle of the night, allowing herself to be rocked back to sleep on Friday night and actually sleeping through until almost 5 a.m. on Saturday night.

I would be annoyed that she saved all of her good sleep for my parents, but I slept through until 7 a.m. both mornings. Besides, she slept pretty well last night, too- only waking up once to nurse and sleeping until I pulled her shades open at 6:45 (she needed to get ready for day care). I think my Mom could run a lucrative business as a parental get away enabler and baby sleep improver. And then there is the emergency day care she provides....

Anyway, I did pretty well, too. Hubby and I had a nice couple of nights of sleep. Unfortunately the beds in the Hyatt in Irvine are not as comfy as those at the Wyndham in Costa Mesa (site of our last getaway), but I slept well anyway. The room had the requisite TV with cable, and we ended up spending three hours watching Doctor Who episodes on BBC America, which was quite nice. The last time I watched that much TV, I was recovering from a bad case of food poisoning.

We spent part of Saturday wandering around Balboa Island. This is something we've wanted to do since we first saw the car ferry headed over there while we waited to board the ferry on our first trip to Catalina Island, back in 2003. (For those who have never been to Newport Beach, there is a small ferry that holds three cars and some pedestrians and shuttles back and forth between the main part of Newport and Balboa Island. Balboa Island is also accessible via a bridge on the other side of the island.)

Balboa Island has the sort of shops and houses that you'd expect in a wealthy tourist spot with beautiful water views. It also has the Balboa Bar, a hunk of vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate and rolled in sprinkles, which sadly looks better than it actually tastes:
(Which is not to say that it tastes bad, just that neither the ice cream nor the chocolate are really the best that they could be.)

The other flaw of the Hyatt in Irvine is that is walking distance to nothing, really. We decided to eat at the restaurant at the hotel so that we could both have a couple of adult beverages. The restaurant was surprisingly good, and had a nice outdoor patio with a fire ring and an acoustic guitar player. The drinks weren't excellent, but they were strong enough to encourage Hubby and me to spend quite a bit of time discussing bars that we'd put on a "Top Ten Bars" list. Hubby argues that this is not a valid list, because bars change so frequently and because so many bars make the list on the strength of their location alone. I argue that the list references bars as they were when you visited them, without concern for later changes, and that while location may be a large component of a top ten bar, it can't propel a mediocre bar to that status. For instance, the bar at the top of the John Hancock building in Chicago has an excellent location, but I don't think anyone would argue that it is a top ten list bar. The bar at the Sydney Opera House, in contrast, has an excellent location and enough other charms to potentially earn a spot on the list (although the surprisingly bad food at the Opera House bar works against it).

Despite the pleasant location and fascinating conversation, we didn't stay up late. And despite the lack of toddler cries, we didn't sleep in particularly late- we were up by 7:30 both days. Still we had a good time. My only regret is that we didn't manage to find a good, greasy, big breakfast either day. On Saturday, we decided to look near UC Irvine, which turns out to be in an even more soulless location than UC San Diego. I had to settle for a breakfast sandwich at a chain bakery. On Sunday, we drove around Tustin and Costa Mesa looking for a likely spot, to no avail. Finally, hunger drove me to stop the search at the Lab "anti-mall" in Costa Mesa. We had breakfast at the cafe there (The Gypsy Den). It wasn't bad, but they only had veggie sausage, and the potatoes suffered from being far too healthy (i.e., not enough butter and salt). Luckily, the corn meal pancakes were good enough to make the entire meal OK. We had a similar problem finding breakfast during our last getaway. Do the people of Orange County not like big greasy American breakfasts? If you live in the O.C., tell me where we should go next time. Because unless Pumpkin suddenly transforms herself into an excellent sleeper, there is sure to be a next time!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Separation Anxiety

We're off for two nights away, courtesy of my parents. I'm nervous- a little bit for how she'll do when I'm not there to nurse her in the middle of the night (this is the first trip since she stopped taking a bottle), but mostly for how I'll do away from my sweet little girl for so long!

I'll post next week and tell you how I did.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Time to get back to gratuitously cute toddler stories! Here is one of my favorite playtime activities right now:

Pumpkin likes to pretend that she is putting her baby dolls to bed. She plops them down on their tummies and wallops, I mean pats them on their backs, all while saying "bay-bee! Night-night!" over and over.

I asked at day care, and this is a popular game there, too. Apparently, they sometimes have three or four toddlers putting their baby dolls to bed at a time.

Recently Pumpkin has added the innovation of covering her sleeping babies with a blanket. She gets one of the flannel receiving blankets we used when she was a baby, and covers a doll. She carefully shakes the blanket out and places it on the baby. The only problem is that she tends to put the blanket on the baby's head. Since the baby is already face-planted into the ground, this looks pretty funny. It really looks like she is trying to smother her doll. However, it is clear that she just means to keep the baby warm.

I've tried to get a picture of this activity, but the picture doesn't really capture how cute it is. Note the little doll feet sticking out from the blanket on the left.

Another favorite playtime activity is playing the keyboard:

The keyboard has auto-fill and auto-percussion features, so she can really get rocking. When she happens to push the right buttons to get a good beat going, she likes to bop along.

And finally, because the bee is so cute, the bee-keeper will overlook how dorky she looks and share this photo:

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


The America Pumpkin grows up in will always be one that has elected an African-American president. Even as I watched the swing states click over to Obama, I couldn't quite believe it would happen. Finally, it was the polls closing in my state and the others out here on the west coast that provided the electoral college votes needed to make it real.

Pumpkin came out from her bath just as John McCain was formally conceding. She wanted "up!" so I picked her up and gave her a big hug, and thought about how different her world will be than the one I grew up in. And I thought about how the life story of the first president she will have any chance of remembering will so perfectly demonstrate some of the most important values that I want to teach her: that with hard work, talent, and a little bit of luck, anyone can achieve anything they want, no matter who his or her parents were. That we are all citizens of a wider world, and should be open to learning what that wider world can teach us. That we should always hope for the best in people and not let the cynics hold us back.

Now I am watching John McCain make the sort of concession speech that demonstrates his best aspects, urging his supporters to join with him in working with the next President.

I am watching the multiracial party in Grant Park, and am struck by how different that is from the city I went to college in more than 10 years ago.

I am so very proud of my country tonight. Tonight, we took another step closer to living up to our ideals.

And now I'm going to open a beer and enjoy the moment.

Monday, November 03, 2008

There is Always One

One of the disadvantages of living in California is the proposition-driven style of government. I have 12 state propositions and 5 city propositions to vote on tomorrow, and this isn't even a particularly bad year. I know some people like the idea of getting to weigh in directly on the issues, but I think that is what I pay my legislators to do. I don't have time to do the in depth research and weigh the pros and cons of such a diverse range of issues. I am always scrambling to figure out how I want to vote, which means that I almost always end up voting on the day of the election, rather than using the more convenient vote by mail option.

I've gotten quite cranky about ballot propositions, and tend to favor voting "no" on them just because I don't think this is how government should be done. I particularly lean towards "no" when the proposition wants to carve out a percentage of the state budget and reserve it for some specific purpose. I think that the combination of these earmarks, our goofy tax structure (thanks in part to an earlier proposition on property tax, but you really don't want to get me started on that), and our gridlocked state legislature (due in part to our hopelessly gerrymandered districts- but I really shouldn't get started on that, either) have led my state into fiscal chaos.

I'm less cranky about propositions to decide policy issues, but even those get on my nerves- particularly when I'm asked over and over again about the same issue because some wealthy person or particularly energetic group of voters does not like the answer the people keep giving them. At least these repeat propositions don't require much research. I read them to make sure that they aren't trying anything sneaky, and then vote the same way I did the first time(s) I was asked.

Anyway, even with my general inclination to vote down all propositions, there is always at least one proposition that I can't decide on until I'm walking into the polling booth. This year, it is a local proposition to ban alcohol on our beaches.

I used to live in Pacific Beach, which was party central before the temporary booze ban (enacted after a brawl broke out on Labor Day in 2007). I hated the 4th of July, because my neighborhood was invaded by people from all over Southern California and Arizona, looking to get drunk on a beach. San Diego was the only place in SoCal where drinking on the beach was still legal, so people would drive down from the O.C. and LA. Arizona is really, really hot in July, so people drive over to enjoy our cooler temperatures.

People drank on the beach during any weekend, but holiday weekends were characterized by large groups holding well-lubricated parties. And the 4th of July was the biggest party weekend of them all. I was often amazed by the level of intoxication that some people reached. Hubby and I used to walk down to the bay to watch the fireworks. On our way, we'd always see at least one or two people who literally could not walk straight. The next morning, the beach was transformed into a giant trash heap, with items as big as couches left on the beach after the party was done.

But I also can appreciate the appeal of enjoying a (plastic) glass of wine and watching the sunset. Or of having a few beers with friends during a day at the beach. It bothers me that these things are illegal just because some small number of people can't enjoy their booze responsibly.

I've moved away from the beach, driven inland by the property prices, not the party atmosphere. We took Pumpkin to the beach several times this summer. I didn't give much thought to the booze ban, except for the time the waiter at the restaurant we went to for lunch bemoaned the drop in business that he attributed to the ban. (The restaurant was Guava Beach, and has pretty good food and excellent guavaritas. Hubby and I used to walk down to this restaurant from our home in North PB- this took roughly an hour, and the guavaritas were always worth it.) I suspect high gas prices, which cut down on the number of tourists driving over from Arizona, might be what really drove the drop in business, but I don't really know. No one does.

And none of this is helping me decide how to vote. I guess I'll decide at about 7:45 tomorrow morning, when I go into the booth to fill out my ballot. And I'll be thankful I don't live in San Francisco, where I'd be asked to decide whether or not the police should enforce the laws against prostitution. I suspect those campaign ads were fun to explain to the kids....

Saturday, November 01, 2008


A couple of days ago, I came across a post on a science blog, and wanted to comment on it. I typed in my comment, and without even thinking about it, I typed in "Cloud" as my name, and put the URL to this blog.

Later, I realized that anyone who followed the link from that comment and found this blog would probably be disappointed to find a bunch of posts about baby and toddler sleep issues rather than more science blogging.

I'm not sure if this is a problem or not. I could pick different aliases for different types of blogs. I regularly read science blogs and techie blogs as well as mommyblogs. This would keep everything separate, and would avoid disappointed link followers. However, that solution seems wrong to me. It seems to say that a mommyblogger can't also be a scientist, or a techie, or a foodie, or whatever else.

I've struggled a bit to find my identity now that I'm a mother as well as all the other things I am. It felt like having the baby stripped away, or maybe just obscured, some fundamental things, and that I had to reconstruct my idea of who I am. I'm not the same woman I was before Pumpkin was born. I am less focused on my career (although still dedicated to it), less fit (although I wish this weren't true), and less well traveled (another thing I wish weren't true). But I am also more tolerant of different approaches to life (we all love our kids, right?), more likely to see the joy in little things ("BUH-bbles!"), and I waste far less time watching TV (I don't think I've seen a single Law and Order episode since Pumpkin was born).

I haven't really gotten comfortable in my new identity yet, but I'm not willing to separate the scientist, techie, traveller, etc. from the mommy part of me. So I think I'll keep posting comments on science and techie blogs as Cloud. Sure, this means that some people I know in real life will read this blog and know it is me- I have already heard from a couple of people who have found this blog via one of my comments somewhere and recognized me. That is fine. I don't use my real name because I don't want this blog coming up if a prospective employer searches for me. But I don't make a serious effort to be anonymous, either. There is nothing in this blog that would get me fired, or even seriously embarrass me if a colleague read it. I will claim my sleepless nights, obsessive concern about Pumpkin's eating habits, and sappy joy in her accomplishments along with my love of travel and geeky tendencies. It is all part of me, and it should all be kept together.