11 month miracle

A few days ago, Linnea started going to sleep for me. It actually happened a couple of weeks ago. She was sitting in my lap while I worked and just…fell asleep. Now, at nap time, I pick her up, carry her into the bedroom, turn on the white noise and sing her a short song. I lay her down *awake and not screaming* and she drifts off peacefully in 3 to 10 minutes. 

If Linnea had been our first child, I would absolutely be one of those parents who says ‘sleep training works!’ And by that I mean letting her cry on me while she would fall asleep, for months, rather than giving her back to Leah and having her nurse down. Having done similar things with Darwin, however, I can unequivocally say that children are a product of…themselves. As parents we can work with them, but they are clearly their own people, as shocking as that is to me ever time something like this happens. 

Linnea is clearly better ‘programmed’ for sleep than Darwin was or is. As is evidenced by the sleep chair kid here:

Linnea asleep in a bumbo (carefully supervised on the table)


Work and travel

Part of my job involves going to conferences, often to present on the research I’m working on, and to connect with other folks doing related work. A few months ago I received an email from a ccolleague I’d met at least 4 years ago, asking if I’d be interested in presenting on my work at a local(ish) economics conference. After checking with my bosses and getting the go ahead, I ran it past Leah, then my mom, because in the past I’ve taken Darwin along with me, and my mother has spent the day with her while I work. It worked out that my mother got back from a trip at midnight the night before we would have to leave (at 7 am), but she was game, so I said yes.

Wednesday morning dawned early. Dramatic? 5am. I could have slept until 6, but the chronic anxiety of a researcher on soft money had me going with the sunrise. It took nearly 45 minutes to get Darwin into (dirty) clothes (I pulled from the hamper because she had to have a tank and ‘no mama, not that one!’). We were on the road by 8, thankfully with plenty of time to get there before my presentation. We had a near miss of motion sickness driving through a windy pass, but Darwin was a champ. We got there in record time with only one pee stop. (It’s been a week without an accident, I’m calling us trained now…)

While I was at my conference, which went amazingly well and involved visiting with colleagues and beer, my mom and Darwin got to go play at the high desert museum, fix a flat tire, and see a fish hatchery. I can’t really say which of us had more fun.

My mom is one of those people that Darwin doesn’t fight with over every little thing, mostly, I suspect, because she always has her grandma’s full attention, they go at a nice pace for a two year old and a seventy year old, and my mother has a dozen Pete the Cat books on her Nook (which Darwin calls her “Nookie”). 

The story was more difficult when we were all together. Darwin whined and clung and refused to cooperate when I was present. This isn’t anything new. I given her choices about getting dressed or eating or which shoes to wear, and she responds with a sulky face and a loud “NOTHING.” Sometimes after running to a corner and peering at me from over her shoulder with an epic pout. 

In spite of all the toddler independence, we had a very nice whirlwind trip. I’m so grateful that my mother likes my kid, that she’s flexible enough to be able to join us on these trips, and that Darwin adores her as well. 

Now I just have to figure out how to solve complex policy questions about wildfire risk and landscape management and prove myself to be indispensable so that we can continue to have opportunities to do this into the future. 

One week. Three babies. 

Holy smokes y’all. If I hadn’t been getting baby fever before now…on Monday, am inlaw 60 minutes south of us had her baby. On Wednesday, a good friend who has a farm 45 minutes away had her baby. This morning at 12:45 am, a local friend had her baby. 

And my sister is pregnant, due on Darwin’s due date (!) with her first. 

I’m not allowed to hold babies. At least it’s not contagious when you’re in a monogamous lesbian marriage? Send help. 

Spring (summer) fever

Thank goodness this title is not in reference to a real fever. We have had enough illness in the past six months to last the next year (although I know better than to think that will change, what with Darwin starting pre-school in the fall). But no, this is in reference to the fact that we are currently sliding, head-first, into the end of the spring term, towards a mini-respite of Leah being home with the girls *full time* this summer. No childcare worries, no stress about getting out of the house with a cranky toddler who just *won’t put her socks on*, no miserable dog who is home alone all day every day. I am so, so excited.

The caveat is, of course, that we have to get through the next 3 weeks. I have an overnight work trip, including a 25 minute presentation on some really neat research I’m doing related to long-term landscape responses to fire and fuel treatments that is sort of almost but not quite ready (my amazing mother is coming along so Darwin can come too, thank goodness, because Leah would have her hands FULL with the two girls who are still needy overnight). Leah has numerous assignments to complete before the end of the term. I’m working Saturdays to make up for the loss of our nanny. Then Thursday I discovered a nest of ants in our coffee maker’s reservoir. Thankfully before I drank the coffee. Leah saved the day by making a coffee run down the street, and I spent much of the day clearing ants and eggs out of our coffee maker. Things are a little hectic right now.

So I am doing what I always do when I get stressed: trying not to pay attention to the hard parts and focus instead on the prize. In this case, actual work time and actual down time. Three weeks. We can do it. 


Sleep is a funny thing. I’m home Tuesday and Thursday mornings now through the end of the school term in 4 weeks, since our nanny didn’t work out (another, longer post). Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I don’t have work to do. So this morning I was sitting at the desk in our living room researching “how to save images to disk in R” with Linnea in my lap, and this happened:

No bouncing, no jiggling, no singing or rocking or begging or coddling. Literally, the kid fell asleep on me while I was completely ignoring her trying to work. And then she transferred seamlessly to the bed.

I never, ever expect this to happen again in my life, but what a beautiful gift in a stressful few weeks.


Yesterday, friends invited us to go out to the aquarium on the coast, about 45 minutes from our house. They have a little fellow, O, who is three months younger than Darwin, and they get along pretty well, and we have a good time with them, so we jumped on the chance, in spite of both being desperately far behind in our professional work. The drive over was rainy and gray, but the day shifted slowly and by early afternoon it was sunny and warm.

Darwin loves the aquarium. She talks about it regularly. For Christmas, Leah’s dad got us a family membership and we’ve been there three times this year. She knows where the eels and shrimp are, will spend as long as we will let her standing in front of the clown fish tank, and would never leave the octopus if she had a choice. She talks about the puffins in a vaguely Irish accent, thanks to Puffin Rock and the highlight of this trip was decidedly feeding time in the aviary.

Linnea also enjoys watching the fish – the walk-through tunnels are clearly her favorite. She is mesmerized by the snappers and other large fish than hang suspended inches from her face. This was our first visit in which she was highly mobile, and by the end she was mostly interested in crawling as far and fast as possible in whatever direction she could.

After the fun, we headed home with two tired kids. Linnea fell asleep before we were out of the parking lot. Darwin managed to talk the entire way home. Leah fell asleep after about twenty minutes. It was nice.

We got home around 5, tired and ready to get some easy food together, and were shocked to find my parents hard at work in our yard. It’s been raining a lot over the last few weeks (read: since October), and it’s been hard to keep up with the lawn. My dad mowed. My mother weed-wacked and weeded some of our garden beds. It’s so, so hard to keep up with our yard, working full-time, taking care of two small kids, the list goes on. Everyone reading this knows. Having a chance to run away with friends and relax and have fun with the girls was going to mean I tried to fit in a mow some evening this week, and that the house remain a mess. Coming home to a yard that didn’t need to be mowed definitely made me cry after they left. Sometimes it’s hard to accept help. But if you can. If it’s there. Do it. Someday we’ll all be the people who help out the family down the street that just can’t get everything done and needs a hand. For now, I’m going to work on accepting support that comes so that I can focus on my kids while they’re little.