Who are you? Hoo hoo

 Last night, we found that the girls have decided to run an owlery. A
what? Yes, an Owlery. An imaginary place where the owls from Harry
Potter’s universe live when the children are at Hogwarts. Where the
owls all have a perch and can hoot with their fellow fowl. Of course,
to have an owlery, one must have an owl. The girls begged to go out to
buy an owl each.

Falling back on my standard consumer issues, I announced that we
could research this and find what kind of stuffed animal owl could one
buy. I also insisted that instruments (piano and violin) needed to be
played while I was researching. The child that was not making sweet,
sweet music, watched over my shoulder. I explained what I was doing,
how I was comparing prices, etc.

Finally, we discovered several really nice wildlife stuffed owls and a
Webkinz owl. The girls both wanted the Webkinz one and it was quickly
decided the would both get one. "How are you going to pay for this?" I
asked. Soleil only had a few moments of thought when she remembered,
"Uncle K sent us checks for Hanukkah! We can use that!" We
discussed and I agreed that if they put the remainder of the check in
their bank accounts. They agreed and we all were happy.

Jay pointed out that Webkinz are available at the mall. The girls were
very excited at this prospect. I made it very clear that if they
bought owls, there would be NO going on-line until Friday night. They
understood why (homework, school nights, etc) and agreed. After this
was agreed upon, we went out.

The first store did not have any owls. Soleil politely asked the women
at the counter and they checked the computer inventory and let her
know that they did not have owls. We decided to try the kiosk at the
mall. On the way there, Soleil discovered an issue. What if there was
only one owl at the mall. We decided that this would be the family owl
and we would order the other on-line. Then when our second owl
arrived, it would become a girl’s owl and he could be logged onto
Webkinz then.

Sure enough, the kiosk at the mall only had 1 owl. We bought that
one. The girls agreed to the plan, I suggested we would combine the
cost of the two owls (one with shipping,one without) and divide it in
half. They agreed.

I think this was a win-win. The girls learned a little about funding
something, researching a product and saving money and (strangely since
we did this the same night) patience. They also now have an owl.

Soft, light and classic

This weekend, I was in the car, ALONE for 4 hours (technically 8 including the return trip, but I was listening to football games then). I got to choose the music in the car. I could listen to Lady Gaga or NOT. If Taylor Swift came on, I could change the channel if I wanted. I was going through several different broadcast areas, so I learned a great deal of what radio stations are like in 2010:

  • Classic Rock: this now consists a combination of "Metal" and what I call "Classic" which involves guitars, drums and few synthesizers. Some samplings? "Iron Man", "Don’t Fear the Reaper", and a song from The Scorpions that I can not remember the title of for my life.
  • Light Rock: Pop. As in 80s Pop. As in Bananarama, Early Madonna, some Billy Joel,  The stuff I grew up to. Sad…
  • Soft Rock: The crap that those people 5-10 years older than me grew up to…includes folk stuff and Dillion. Beatles. Ick
  • Today’s Hit Music: Lady Gaga, Black-eyed Peas, my kids dance to this music.
  • Country: They still play the two kinds of music: Country AND Western (good for when I need a dose of Honky Tonk) (shuttup!)
  • Stations between 92-97: Can be anything from God love fests to Latino, to alternative rock
  • Stations between 88.1-92: Usually jazz or NPR

No wonder I like my music player


Dance like the world can see you:

This weekend, I traveled to New Jersey to see the Fabulous Mrs. Figby, Mr Figby and others. I got to meet some bloggers I have read for YEARS and others that I never had met before and clicked like bic lighter!  It was wonderful. I always worry if I stand out in a crowd. I am short and without style, I have the social skills of a flatulent warthog and I dance like a pregnant yak. However, I had lots of fun. I got along with Jenny, a blogger I had never met before, enjoyed shots and great discussion with Mrs. C, who is TOTALLY awesome, Danced like a fool and drank just a tad too much. Eh…

Unfortunately, I did get what I call a "flash migraine" at the dance club. Yes, I will admit I was drunk. BUT not that drunk. The flashing lights (in time with the music of course) got my nauseated and sharp pains between my eyes. When I get migraines, my auras are in my speech centers, not my visual. One great guy tried to get me to the bathroom to vomit, but I couldn’t explain to him what was going on, that I just needed to get out of the flashing lights. Mr Figby got me outside and within 2 minutes of leaning against a cold metal pole, I was FINE. Seriously. The flashing lights killed me.

On Sunday, we slept in. Mrs Figby’s daughter was finally warmed up enough to me to talk and on the way to spend her money for her birthday, we talked about Star Wars. Awesome! I REALLY enjoyed myself and once again wished I had more friends closer to me… I have a few female friends here, but the ones I need are far away. And I wish I had that many diners within walking distance of my house. Oh the diners!


The books forgot to mention this…

Being astronomers, our life is full of electronics. Both Jay and a I are fluent in calculator, I am fluent in several programming languages (but not python or LOLcode) and we have abandoned the home office for an entirely wireless setup including having our iTunes connect with a served disk in one room and with airports that are directly connected to our stereo receivers.

We are the geeks. The kids are way into imaginative play. They like to use their blackberries (ie- the blackberry pearl phones that Jay and I no longer use because they both died) to facebook and play games. Yes, they make up video games to play and facebook each other on their (non functioning) blackberries, only once in a while being interrupted by phone calls.

Why do the parenting books not explain that you can snort you brains out when your kids do things like this?

Last night, I needed to go out. Jay has the kids alone most of the weekend as I am attending a birthday party for Mrs. Figby, a former blogger. I was making myself a beautiful satin dress, but the pattern was too small for the measurements it claimed. I am so angry about that. I let out all of the seams, but it is still too small. Damn. I can’t get the zipper on the side up the last 2 inches. So I decided to punt and I went to Talbot’s Outlet last night and picked up a very nice LBD on a major sale ($36 for a dress that was originally $174). I decided to take the girls with me. I realized that I had never really taken the girls clothes shopping. Luna corrected me and said that she picked out the fabric for most of the dresses I make her, which is correct, but still, I don’t actually take them when I shop (because I do most on-line!)

After buying the dress and explaining why I have a nice little roll of fat on my belly (it’s from YOU TWO! YOU DID THIS TO ME), I took them to the discount shoe haven warehouse. Luna nearly fell over seeing the rows and rows of designer boots! Soleil immediately asked where the kid section was. I had to explain that there wasn’t one here and didn’t I just buy her new sneakers in October? Hello?? She said "But MOM, You don’t get my STYLE" (said with all of the drama of a 14 year old). So I took them to Payless Shoes around the corner.


Is there anything cooler than shoe shopping with your girls?

Luna picked out THESE:                                                While Soleil picked out THESE:


Since I needed something that was more adult I got these little flats

Double trouble

I made a vow around Christmas time, that I would not let work drive me nuts. I would exercise more. I would get out of the office and I wouldn’t let anyone, not even my supervisor tell me that time in the office equals productivity….because it doesn’t.

However, around the same time, I noticed Jay was, well, short tempered a bit. He was tired and grouchy. Our trip to Buffalo didn’t help too much as his diet was off and he was getting his next fill up (Remicade treatment) when we returned home. He is always a little off right before a fill up. Then, the American Astronomical Society’s winter meeting came and he went to that.  Now that he is back in a rhythm, I had hoped things would calm down, but they haven’t. He is overwhelmed with work. He has 5 papers to review and comment. Several meetings to attend, collaborators to respond to, proposals to write, you get the idea. Then at AAS, he was asked to work on a project that may or may not take off. If it does, he is even deeper in work.

All of this pressure is getting him depressed. I don’t mean as deep as mine, but he is restless, tired, needs to be happy. I don’t know what to do for him.

I, on the other hand, have started to do better about work. I moved my office around (LOVE IT!) and I am focusing on quality, scheduling exercise in and relaxing in general. But the seasonal changes are kicking in and I am seeing my own depression moving into place. How to deal with it? I don’t know. I often lean on Jay when I am staring into the abyss. He needs me now and I am trying to stay level.

Yesterday, I lost him at work. It was time to go so we wouldn’t be late getting the girls. He had left his office and his phone was in his office. I checked a few places, but failed to find him. When he finally looked at the time, we were 15 minutes late and didn’t make it to the after school care on time. Since he was so upset and stressed, I bit back my stress and forced myself to stay calm.

I am not really sure how to deal with this. I am going away for the weekend and I don’t want him stressed and yelling every 5 minutes. But how to stop someone else falling when you yourself aren’t able to hold up? I have no clue..

I AM writing more!

Yes, I know, it looks like I am not writing all that much, but really, I am writing more. We had a long weekend this week and when I say long, I mean OMG we just spent 2 weeks together as a family and I am not sure we will survive having to do this again for 4 days. We did a trip to the Museum of Science on Friday. Our town seems to think that having school on MLKJr. Weekend is a tragedy, so we get a half day on Thursday and a day off on Friday in addition to Monday. I had the kids go to the town rec center in the morning on Friday and then we met a friend at the Museum of Science in Boston. Fortunately, it was not a terrible madhouse. Most schools had classes in session. We were specifically there for the Harry Potter exhibit. My children have gotten into this in a serious way and it is quite frustrating to spent $23 a kid to go see the exhibit. It was nice and cool to see all of the costumes and props. It was well done, but…but… it doesn’t belong in a science museum. If they had bothered to explain HOW they make Wizard photographs. Or HOW they make Hagrid look so big, or, my personal favorite, how they film Harry riding a broom, then I could see a science connection. The Science of special effects. That’s all they needed to add in. They didn’t. It was a wonderful display of costumes and props and such.

We did have an exciting weekend, however, even with my lack of science love. Soleil had a hockey game bright and early at 6 am Saturday. Then Luna had her ice skating competition. She won first place out of two again! Way to go girl! Again we had some grumblings from Soleil because she never gets a medal for her stuff, but we are stressing the importance of being herself.


As a family, we actually do a great job, but we do need to start getting some of our crap together. For example, dinners. The girls are very picky. We started the "here, have PB&J if you don’t like what we are eating" and it happens often. I have decided that we, as a family, have to start expanding the dinner options. I want to list some of our favorite foods and create dinners that the girls will try if not eat. I want to have healthy options if they don’t like what we are having, but they have to be easy for the girls to get themselves.

And bedtime has been a nightmare. Ok, let’s not beat around the bush, sleep has been hell in our household since day 1. When Soleil first slept through the night for more than 1 night , it was when she was almost 3. She often won’t go to bed until she’s been snuggled several times. We need this to stop. I need my time, Jay needs together time… sigh…

So my goals are to start working on these issues. Move ahead slowly… slowly, but surely.


And just for your eye candy, check out these photos of Luna skating!



Soleil bought the flowers!


Why the long face?


I met with a friend last night and she asked if everything was okay in general. She noted that many of my faceboook posts are about stress and frustration. She noted about my post about finding me… So of course, I thought about this last night.

I am a very easy person to understand. If it isn’t perfect, I am not happy. Sad, I know. I can’t imagine where Soleil got her perfectionism. So I am constantly striving for improvement. Being more efficient at work, having the house neater, cleaning better, exercising better, losing the thyroid weight, yada yada yada

So most of my stresses are self induced. This is so sad. I just don’t know how to find time to do everything. I want to be the best mom, the best wife, the best worker, be healthy, eat well, exercise, read more…. You see the point.

I am working on relaxing my need for perfection. For example, I just asked my troop if I could beg off the camping weekend. I am trained for camping, but there is one other adult who is trained. I stayed overnight last year, but I really would love to sleep in my own bed at home this year. And I think both girls will go during the day, so I could stay at home and be with Dr. Jay during the day. What a concept!

I am also relaxing more about work. Let’s just not stress about getting 8 hours of work done in the 8 hour work day. I work on weekends and Mondays without pay. The jobs get done when they get done. I can’t stress myself over this anymore. There was an incident earlier in 2009 that set me into this mode, and we suddenly had to account for every minute of our work day, and these two things combined to add that stress. Go away stress.

I still worry about the kids and try to yell less, and snuggle more, but that is hard.

So yeah, I am constantly in worry and stress mode(sort of). Except for when things work. Like last weekend, when we won the opportunity to skate at Fenway Park (yes! Ice Skate. In a baseball stadium!). I had bought some raffle tickets as a donation and was shocked that we won. It was perfect. Literally perfect. The girls and Jay and I enjoyed the ice time. It was GREAT!

So there are many times that I am a happy person, but it is easier to get out my stress by writing about it.


A sensitive topic

If you are not from Massachusetts, you may not realize that we are voting for our new Senator to replace Ted Kennedy next Tuesday. The papers have been full of articles for and against each candidate. Today I read something in the Boston Globe where the letter to the editor said "With 25% of pregnancies ending in abortion, I can only support Scott Brown who is against abortion."

Let’s look into these numbers, shall we?

According to the CDC1, in 2005, there were 6,408,000 pregnancies. Of these, there were 4,138,000 live births, 1,206,000 induced abortions and 1,063,000 fetal losses.

The fetal losses refer to spontaneous abortions, often referred to as "miscarriages". So, doing the basic math, there are 64.58% of pregnancies end in a live birth, 18.82% of pregnancies end in an induced abortion and 16.5% of pregnancies end in a miscarriage. I had 2 miscarriages. One fell in the "fetal loss" category. The other fell in the "induced abortion" category.

Wait. Did you read that right? Did I have a miscarriage or an abortion? Well, turns out BOTH. I contacted the CDC a while ago and asked, "When you report the induced abortion rates, do these cover abortions with a live embryo/fetus only or also incomplete spontaneous abortions (aka, missed miscarriages)?" The answer bothered me. The answer was "We cannot separate out the differences. The hospitals and clinics report the number of induced abortions that terminate a pregnancy. The state of that pregnancy is not reported".

My first pregnancy was after a long year of trying. We became pregnant. I started spotting. Being paranoid, we went in for an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed a 5w2d baby. The doctor reviewed the results with me. The baby should be 7w by now. And they didn’t see a heartbeat. I remember her drawing a little heart on the piece of paper in front of her. It was the traditional heart shape, not the anatomically correct version. She wanted me to wait a week and come back for a follow up. "it’s too soon to tell" A week later, Jay was in Arizona at a telescope, observing. I went alone. The baby was now 5w2d. It was clear, she had died(no, I don’t know if it was a girl or boy). The next week, it was arranged for me to have a D&E. At the hospital, Jay asked where we had to go. The woman at the front desk was stern and rude. She made me ask where to go because "he might be forcing you to abort this pregnancy". I think I burst into tears. Jay said something to her about this being a miscarriage. I wish I had to balls at that time to tell her to go to hell. I had just lost a child and my body had not noticed. For 3 weeks, it had not noticed.There was a medical emergency that prevented the doctor from coming. When she did arrive, she explained the procedure. I had to sign parental forms for the disposal of my child. Jay was ordered to leave and he was able to return when they brought me awake. It was one of the worst days in my life.

 Was this a miscarriage? Yes, in my mind. Was this an induced abortion? Yes. Medically, there is no difference between this procedure and the procedure if the fetus was still developing. (Yes, I am deliberately not saying "alive" because I know that a 12w fetus can’t live outside of the mother.)

So let’s look at the CDC numbers again.

The accepted rate of miscarriages is 25-30% of all pregnancies.(and it is often thought it is up to 50%, but let’s go with the 25-30%)

So that would be, in 2005: 1,602,000 miscarriages (taking the lower number of 25%). Take away the number of fetal losses, you have 539,000 induced abortions that are probably miscarriages. This lowers the number of induced abortions (with a developing fetus) to 667,000 or 10.4%.

Wow, big difference between 18.82% and 10.4%. (BTW- take the 30% number and you get down to a 5.5% of pregnancies are actually aborted with a developing fetus).

I personally feel that 10.4% is still high. However, there is NO WAY to determine how many of that 10.4% were terminated for medical reasons for the mother or child. I know several people who have done both (some cases, the child was deformed and damaged from a chromosomal defect, others, the mother was dying from preeclampsia). Also, I feel it is a woman’s choice to make and the best thing our society can do is work to lower that number, not criminalize it based on one particular religion.

The thing is, I worry when people use statistics to push their cause without thinking about it. The 25% is an outright lie. 19% I could see being put forward, but once you look into it, 11% is more accurate.  Let’s be rational people here. Numbers are only useful if you understand them. Regurgitating a statistic without looking into what goes in is not rational. Research, learn, be proactive.

I am pro-choice. Again, I state that our society would do better in finding ways to lower the abortion rates instead of punishing doctors and patients. It would do better in accepting that pregnancy complications can actually KILL a mother. It would do better in accepting that depression is a disease and pregnancy and depression can go hand-in-hand and that it can be a medical reason to abort a pregnancy. And for those who feel there is never a real risk to the mother, please read the stats HERE. Again, you should stop, and think about the statistics. What does it mean that 18% of US maternal deaths are caused by this? What are the real numbers? Are we willing to sacrifice women’s lives for a religion? When does the life of the unborn trump the life of the living?

Just some food for thought.

I thought it would be 6th grade

Before the end of school for the Christmas (pardon me, Winter) Break, we had the glorious treat of Miss Soleil in a totally pissy mood. After several hugs and grumps, she finally told us that the principal had taken her magic wand away. The Unitarian Church in town does a massive Halloween Haunted House every year. The past few years have been "Hogwarts". They gave everyone a "wand" and you returned them at the end. This year, they departed from Harry Potter and gave the wands away. The wand itself is a small dowel attached to a handle. Very clever, in my opinion. Soleil has been told that it is not allowed in school as it may be seen as a weapon and our school has one of those no tolerance policies on weapons. 

Turns out, our child chose to take the wand to after school (which it is okay), but brought out her wand during bus line. She was happily changing her friends to water goblets when the principal came over and took it.

To  her credit, she was terribly honest about this and told us while in tears because she knew she had broken our trust. I told her that I expected her to write a letter of apology to the principal and ask for her wand back if she promised not to take it out as school again. She questioned if she could control herself and I did explain that should would lose it again if she did bring it and we would support the principal. We also explained that there would be no punishment from us because she was quite honest with us.

The next day, the principal called me to relay the story. It appears that Soleil left one little point out. Before the principal took the wand away, she was asked by a teacher to hand it over. Soleil chose not to, instead declaring "Avada kedavra" while pointing her wand at the teacher. (Ok, he claimed she threatened the teacher with it, She later told us what she did). If you know the Harry Potter universe, you will recognize this as the Killing Curse. So yeah, my kid threatened to kill a teacher. Oy vey.

We explained that that was an "unforgivable curse" (a la Harry Potter universe). She was quite upset when we explained that her wand would be broken in two and she could go to Azkahban (the wizard prison) for that.

She wrote an apology to both the principal and the teacher. She got her wand back.

And Jay and I did a fist bump that our first call from the principal was Soleil and in 2nd grade. I swore it wouldn’t be until 6th!

Did you miss me while you were looking for yourself?*

Last night, I was snuggling up with Jay in bed. The afternoon had been a whirlwind where I had picked him up from the airport, finally arranged our travel for the High Energy Astrophysics Meeting in March, and picked up the girls from Temple school. We even had dinner at a friend’s house and discussed the finer art of politely refusing food. He suddenly asked "What are you thinking? I can’t get a read from you."

We often can read each others moods and thoughts. It is a funny thing that started when we were dating. Now it just is. I’ve gotten so used to it that we will often say the exact same thing with the same timing and tone to the kids. I have to say I didn’t have an answer to his question, so I didn’t say anything. Instead, I thought, "what AM I thinking about?" He then asked if I was just decompressing from the week, or if there was something more upsetting me or what? (Luna was sick Monday night, I kept her home from school Tuesday and then Soleil got sick at the after school program on Tuesday… it was a long week). I decided I must be decompressing, because the week was stressful even though I didn’t feel that bad except for Tuesday.  IT really was a milestone trip. Luna didn’t ask for Dad once, unless you count her daily "Dad? I mean Mom?" No major meltdowns except for the point when Luna was loosing it because she was puking her guts out. And Soleil, being the wonderful sister that she is was yelling "ew, Mom! That’s gross! Make her stop!" Duh, if I could make her stop puking, I would, trust me.

Okay- Let’s get back on track here. After thinking a bit more, I finally stated that I must be decompressing. I really couldn’t think of any big issues for me. I was really tired, I don’t sleep well when Jay is gone. Then it hit me. I don’t really know me right now. Seriously. Right now life is a bunch of Girl Scout things, taking care of kids, getting schedules organized, etc. Not much me time.  Recently, a former blogger invited all of her facebook friends to come to her birthday party in a city that is close enough that I can drive to if I leave early enough. And I said yes. I don’t have clothes for such an event, so I am making a new little black dress. This is the highlight of my life… Sad isn’t it? Even sadder that I haven’t even had a chance to CUT OUT THE DRESS? I did, however, wash and dry the fabric, so kudos to me for that.

I sometimes wonder where Nance went in here. She got lost earlier this year. Somewhere with the work stresses and the depression and the hyperthyroidism back to hypothyroidism, the trip to Rio and everything else… I lost her. I need to find her. So part of that is blogging again. And reading blogs again. I will do my best.

And maybe I can even find myself out there.



*Drops of Jupiter by Train


Last night, Luna finally got her ice skating dress that I bought in early December. It was an ebay find and there were some mail screw ups, but it finally came. She needed to get in it ASAP. After stripping to undies (including socks because "Mom, I can’t try it on with socks"), she got dressed in it. She did twirls in the mirror and tried some of her poses..

Then she found the matching scrunchy. She begged for me to put her hair back. And this is what we got.

When did my FIVE YEAR OLD start to look so much like her sister? And when did she start losing that baby fat!?!? Yikes!