Category Archives: Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: Unwanted Houseguests

Ants are trying to move into our house.

Specifically, they’re trying to add our dining room to their territory. They come out from under the baseboards somewhere and then fan out to search for food.

I repeat: they’re in my dining room. You know, the place where we eat every.single.meal.

The dining room is carpeted (don’t ask me why- previous owners of this house did some crazy things).

I have two small children.

I vacuum after every meal and yet the ants always, always, manage to find something to keep them coming back.

I feel like I’m Sisyphus.

But, as I keep reminding myself, it could be worse. Back in November 2015, when we discovered that indoor cats can too get fleas, I was vacuuming the entire house every day, including all furniture and baseboards, while pregnant with P.

This too shall pass.

But they sure are a pain right now.

Any suggestions on how to get rid of ants when they’re in a spot where you can’t use a trap?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Daily Life, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: Lifeboats

In the last couple of weeks E. has suddenly developed an intense interest in the Titanic, which means we now have several books about said ship out from the library, including the exact book I used to own when I was a child with an intense interest in the Titanic.

E. is aware, of course, that the story of the Titanic is a tragic one, a cautionary tale of needless loss of life, but he approaches the subject largely on technical grounds. He is interested in the hows and whys of the sinking and (especially) the discovery and exploration of the wreck. When I was a child I was most interested in the exploration of the wreck as well (I even had a second book by Titanic discoverer Robert Ballard, about the wreck of the Bismarck).

I am really having a hard time with the story the second time around.

As an adult, I can’t escape the horror of the human side to the sinking. I’m finding it difficult to read aloud to E. the sections which detail the children who perished, or the reports from survivors of the haunting cries of the doomed passengers as they struggled to survive in the icy waters, or (especially) the myriad mistakes which led to the tragedy (first and foremost the fact that there weren’t enough lifeboats on board). He doesn’t seem to be bothered by any of it, but I am.

I’ve tried to mostly stop thinking about the children, because I find it too upsetting, so instead my mind keeps coming back to Ida Straus, who was offered a place in one of the lifeboats, but chose instead to stay on board the Titanic with her husband, saying, “We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go.”

I don’t think I could do that.

I love Q. very much and couldn’t imagine a life without him. But I think if I were offered the chance to live, I would take it.

Maybe my reaction is a result of the phase of life that I’m currently in. Obviously there are E. and P. to think about, and (in this imagined scenario), if they were in a lifeboat, I would get in that boat to be with them in a heartbeat. Maybe I would feel differently if I were (like Ida was), in my sixties, with my children grown, having been married to Q. for four decades rather than one.

I don’t think so, though.

Q.’s mother was widowed fourteen years ago, when she was in her early fifties. I’ve watched her build a life that in no way resembles the life that she was expecting to have, but it is still a life of great joy, a life of adventure, a meaningful life.

Maybe Ida would have felt differently had she lived in the twenty-first century and had all the opportunities available to women that we enjoy.

Or maybe she loved her husband more than I love Q.

It’s something I think about.

Would you get in the lifeboat?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under E.- the seventh year, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: Teeth

Last week we took our cat to the vet for ridiculously expensive unavoidable dental work.

When we picked her up at the end of the day, the vet’s administrative assistant presented us with detailed care instructions, a bag of pain medication, and a small pill container which contained the two teeth the dentist had removed.

I’m not at all sure why they did this. To prove they took out the teeth they said they did? To demonstrate the necessity of removing the teeth by allowing us to witness for ourselves their state of decay? To provide us with souvenirs?

I was more than a little weirded out by the whole thing, but I had E. with me and he thought it was amazing, so we brought the teeth home. They sat in their container on the kitchen table (where E. had abandoned them) until dinner, when Q. asked that we not share the meal with the teeth (fair).

At some point the container migrated upstairs to our room, where it’s currently sitting on my night table, right next to where the cat herself usually likes to sleep during the day (weird, no?).

Today, I realized that I’ve also got three or four of E’s teeth stashed in my sock drawer, a result of having the tooth fairy visit right before I go to bed and then not wanting to throw the teeth in the garbage in the upstairs bathroom in case E. somehow found them.

I’m a tooth hoarder.

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Daily Life, E.- the seventh year, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: Silent Women

Q. and I ran a mini-conference at our university last week, a workshop for the people who are writing chapters for the book we’re editing. It was an exhausting three days, with me out of the house each day from 9:15 a.m. until after 10 p.m. (except for an hour around bedtime when I would leave the workshop a little bit early to make sure I could get home in time to see E. and put P. to bed before taking a cab to the dinner location).

It was also invigorating: I spent three days listening to interesting papers and talking to interesting people in a very collegial environment (which is certainly not always the case in academia but Q. and I were quite strategic in who was invited to contribute to the volume, operating on a policy of “how many of our friends or people vouched for by our friends can we get involved”). It was wonderful to remember why I did a PhD in the first place, and to devote some time to the academic part of me. And, let’s face it, the chance to have uninterrupted adult conversation and drink hot tea and eat my own food at my own pace without needing to help someone else with their meal was also most welcome. Most people were exhausted by 4 p.m. because everyone had to attend every panel, unlike at a conference where no one will notice if you skip out on a session or two; I kept telling everyone I felt like I was on holiday.

The workshop was very successful and Q. and I feel confident we’re on track to produce a very interesting volume.

But here’s the thing- in the first morning session, there were seven women present (and nine men).

During that two-and-a-half hour session, three of those women said nothing at all. Three of the women spoke once.

And then there was me, who just wouldn’t shut up.

I found myself thinking about this all through lunch. Yes, I am much more well versed in the project and the literature, even while being on maternity leave, because Q. and I have been talking about the book and thinking about the book for two years now- but that holds true in comparison with the men as well. And yes, I was ridiculously excited to be out of the house using my brain, so I was maybe a little bit overeager to participate and a little bit nervous to establish my status (since the draft of my chapter which I submitted had been underdone given I’ve been on maternity leave and I knew it was underdone, although it looked far more advanced than it actually is when compared with some of the others).

The truth is, I’m always going to have something to say. I trust that my thoughts have value. I’m not intimidated by men, even very senior ones.

I sit at the table, and I speak up.

My sisters are exactly the same way. So at lunch on that first day I texted them, telling them what I’d seen and asking them how we’ve ended up being women who will not be silent.

We didn’t really come up with a clear answer, but we agreed that P. will have three fierce role models as she grows up.

The gender discrepancy in the workshop got better in the later sessions, but it never evened out entirely. I made a point of noticing when a woman had her hand up to speak and was being overlooked and made sure to defer back to her when it was my turn. When a female graduate student was brave enough to ask a question in front of several very senior full professors from overseas universities I made a point of finding her during a break to tell her what a great question it had been. And I made a point of telling Q. and our very good friend O. (who was one of those senior visiting professors) what I’d noticed at the end of the first day so that for the next two days they made a point of doing these things too.

Do you sit at the table and speak up? Do you feel valued by your colleagues when you do?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under A (Good) Day's Work, Life after the PhD, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: Bleary

We’ve had four nights back home now, after the epic trip back (which, thanks to P., who was both cutting a tooth and making a developmental leap, was by far the worst flight we’ve ever experienced).

I don’t love to travel.

I love to be somewhere new (or comfortingly not new, in the case of Australia), but I don’t love the process of getting there.

I don’t love flying- I can’t sleep on planes and I’m a nervous flyer.

I hate jet lag.

Usually, when we go to Australia, I have a moment somewhere around the eight or nine hour mark in the second flight (when there’s still six or seven hours left and I’ve missed an entire night of sleep) where I think to myself “WHY are we DOING this??!!”

And then we land and the sun is just so bright and there are cockatoos and kookaburras in the trees and the hours and hours spent stuck in that cramped seat are worth it.

Coming home is always harder, even though the flight is shorter. Our vacation is over and we have to try to return to our usual routine as quickly as possible. I’m reminded that I’m the adult every time I come home from a trip and our house looks the same as how we left it and we’re the ones who have to make dinner and buy the groceries and do the laundry, etc.

The worst part about being the adult right now is it means I have to fix my children’s jet lag before I can fix my own. We learned from our mistakes the first time we took E. to Australia (when he was the same age P. is now), so we ignored the clock and focused on establishing a twelve hour day. Once that was established we started waking them up progressively earlier to shift when their day “started”. After four nights they’re both pretty much back on EST, and P. last night didn’t wake up for longer than it took for her to nurse (as opposed to the previous three nights where she woke up and was then tired but unable to fall back asleep for an hour or two).

Me?

Last night I slept from midnight until 3 a.m. (insert rolling eyes emoji here)

Hopefully now that they’re sorted out I’ll follow suit within a day or two.

How well do you handle jet lag? Does it affect your desire to travel?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Microblog Mondays, What were we thinking? (aka travelling with small children)

Microblog Mondays: A decade from “I do”

Q. and I celebrated our tenth anniversary this week. The traditional gifts are tin and aluminum, because a marriage that has lasted a decade has had to be both strong and flexible. Q. bought me a tin lunch box with envelopes in it with menus for restaurants in our neighbourhood, along with the promise to take me out to lunch at one of these restaurants each month. I riffed off of Love Shack (the “tin roof, rusted”) and promised to buy him (and me) new pillows once we get home.

We left both kids with Granny and one of their aunties and escaped to a restaurant with a spectacular view and amazing food. We drank an entire bottle of wine over lunch. It was wonderful.

Earlier in the week, we’d been woken up at midnight to the sound of E. vomiting. We went in to discover that he’d been sick all over his room- his floor, his mirror, his sheets, his duvet, his pillow, his favourite stuffed animal. And we fixed it. I stayed with E. while he threw up again (in the bathroom this time) and then cleaned him up. Q. dealt with the linens. And then I washed his stuffed animal (repeatedly) in the bathtub while Q. mopped the floor and remade E.’s bed. Then I got into bed and snuggled with E. until he fell asleep and Q. disinfected the bathroom. Finally, Q. and I crawled back into bed, wondered aloud to each other what had set E. off, and then fell asleep, until we were woken up a couple of hours later by E. vomiting again (thankfully this time into the bucket we’d left in his room after the first round).

It’s that night I keep coming back to when I think about why our marriage is still so strong, why we’re still so happy. It’s not about the fancy gestures or the creative presents. Ultimately, what it boils down to is respect, kindness, a willingness to compromise, and the knowledge that when our child is covered in vomit in the wee small hours, we’re both going to get up to fix it.

We’re a team. Always.

(Although the occasional really amazing lunch doesn’t hurt either.)

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

8 Comments

Filed under Choose Happiness, Joy, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: New Look

Three days before we flew overseas I went and got my hair cut, for the first time since my “we’re going to have to go to a funeral so I’d better make the time to do this” hair cut back in August of last year. To say I was overdue would be an understatement.

“Look at your hair!” exclaimed my hairdresser, not (I think) in horror. “How can the baby be one?! She was only a few weeks old when I last saw you!”

I sat in the chair and we chatted and nattered and all the while an increasingly large pile of my hair was heaped upon the floor.

I told her I wanted bangs.

Not side bangs, but proper straight bangs.

And, yes, the irony of asking for a recognizably high maintenance style after failing to make the time to get my hair cut for TEN months was not lost on either of us.

But I’ve wanted to try bangs for years now and keep chickening out, so I pressed on and my hairdresser did as I asked, and I went home with bangs for the first time since grade school. For a while I was convinced I looked like a Vulcan (and not in a good way) but I’m more used to it now. The bangs are refreshingly easy to look after, largely because my hair is so straight I can get out of the shower, finger comb it, and then it air dries exactly how I would want it to look. The only shock has been realizing just how much grey is in there- I’m clearly not going to take after my grandmother who still doesn’t have a single grey hair at 93.

Thus far the great bang experiment appears to have been a success.

Now I just have to see if I actually make the time to get them trimmed.

Have you ever made a major change to your hairstyle as an adult? Was it a successful change?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

7 Comments

Filed under Daily Life, Microblog Mondays, Mirror, Mirror (Body Image)