Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Nice Thanksgiving break

It's 5:30am and for some reason I'm up and sipping coffee. It wasn't my intention to get up so early. Something woke me up, and I decided to get a glass of water from the kitchen. A look outside told me that my 4 year old had once again been playing with the lights over his booster seat and it had been on all night in the minivan. After going outside, wrestling with the gate and turning the light off, I didn't feel much like going back to bed. So I podded myself a cup of coffee (yes, sad to say we have switched to the pod system for simplicity, quickness and to get rid of all the coffee mess from daily grinding our own coffee) and got on the internet.

The little one is restless this morning. We've been treating an ear infection in the ear that still has her tube in it because we had some antibiotic ear drops but I suspect the other one is infected as well. So my week post-Thanksgiving will most likely start with a visit to the pediatrician. Still she's been quite the trooper as always and only slightly more clingy and whiny. The "big" guy, my almost 5 year old, has been in a good place. Maybe he sensed I bought and started reading "Parenting the Strong-willed Child".

I always look upon longer breaks with some trepidation. Usually these are slightly stressful days - my children seem to need enormous parental interaction and constant conversation during these times. But this has been a nice break. The weather's been beautiful. My husband has been relaxed and home. We've had days of just hanging around the house. We had a day of meeting a few friends from preschool at the zoo, which was nice for us because it's usually just us going to these places. My husband and I watched a movie one night and played Trivial Pursuit on another (it was a tie as midnight was approaching but I plan to whoop him in a rematch!) We had some stress around Thanksgiving dinner as it didn't get on the table until 1:30pm and the kids were hungry. (Note-to-self: Thanksgiving dinner on the table by Noon as long as toddlers are in the house.) But it was nice to once again, cook a turkey. We haven't done that in several years. I really want to make those holiday traditions for my family and although it's a lot of work and the kids probably won't remember it yet, I'll practice now to get it right for later.

Next week is a big one. For one, my 3 year old is transitioning to the "big girl" house at her preschool. The school made some great safety adjustments for her on their playscape and I feel lucky to be a part of this Montessori school. The kids have thrived there. Second, I'm having a stress test. Yup, as loving hubby said, "Welcome to middle age!" I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to go back to the gym, get a personal trainer, and get back in some sort of shape. Well about a month ago I did that. In my first session, my trainer wanted to see where I was in general health and stamina. I got pretty winded by the end of the hour session but didn't really think much of it except that after we were done and we were sitting, talking about plans for working out, I couldn't regain my breath. I started to get cold and clammy and nauseous and after 15 minutes, I announced I had lay down. She asked me if I was having trouble breathing, which I was except not in the "my chest hurts and I can't catch my breath" sort of way but that's how it was interpreted and next thing I knew I was staring at the paramedics, right there in the gym. Not just 3 paramedics but 6! I must be special. Since I had been laying down for 5 minutes, I could feel the blood returning to my head but they popped in the oxygen tube and started asking questions, taking blood pressure (90 over 50 by then) and asking me had I starved myself before working out? Do I look starved? Long story short, I didn't need a trip to the hospital, they made my husband come get me despite the fact that we live two blocks away, and I was annoyed by the 90 year old guy on the treadmill near me who came in with a walker. He didn't stop walking on the treadmill the whole time. Rub it in........ This event bothered me enough though to make me go to my doctor, who rightly so, has ordered a stress test. I will wait to see what it shows before I go back and get into a physical workout. I want to know my limits, if I have some right now. I'm glad I went because with little kids, I want to make sure if I have control of it, that I'm around for them for as long as possible.

So this Thanksgiving, I'm feeling peaceful about life; it's tough, I'm perpetually overtired, I'm tired of visiting the pediatrician and I'm way behind on the Christmas planning stuff. But as an article I read in Parenting magazine said, accepting that being the parent of toddlers is stressful, tiring and often, not much fun, could help you move past that to see the great things that are happening around you in your family. Seems simple but I think it's true. So that's what I choose to do, at least right now when everyone else is sleeping and I'm having a nice cup of coffee while tapping away on my computer.

Anyway, I'm thankful for the time we've had together this holiday as a family. Now let the Christmas fun begin. It's my favorite time of the year.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

MIT's Tonegawa steps down

I was pleased to read the online CNN report regarding the fallout over Susumu Tonegawa's inappropriate bullying of a highly recruited female faculty candidate to MIT. It's far more than an issue about gender in science; it's about fairness and ethics. It may not seem like enough for some people that Tonegawa resigned as director but stays on at the Neuroscience Institute but given his ego, this will be a hard pill to swallow. Afterall he did win the Nobel Prize in 1987 and founded MIT's Neuroscience Institute in 1994. I think this is a positive move for my PhD alma mater but also for science in general. There must be action when unfair practices in science are disclosed. However I remain disappointed in Susan Hockfield's lack of public condemnation.

As a woman in an extremely powerful academic and scientific position, I thought she should have been more vocal than she was. On her recent election to the Board of the Carnegie Corporation, the Corporation president, Vartan Gregorian said:

Susan Hockfield is a trailblazer and role model for women in science and technology," said Gregorian. "We believe her knowledge and scientific perspective will bring even greater strength to our influential board. Carnegie Corporation's mission is consistent with MIT's tradition of innovation, research and meritocracy, and I am greatly honored that she has accepted our invitation to join the Corporation as a trustee this early in her administration.

Maybe she choose to work behind the scenes on this one, but that doesn't work for the greater my opinion......