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2008-11-09 - 1:04 p.m.

...job renewal and the latest Susi report....

After rain rain rain rain we finally have a day that is just grey. No sun, no rain, just greyness. And I'm okay with that.

It's been an exciting week. The best news is that my position renewal went through without any questions, and my chair called me to let me know that they are all excited about how my work is developing. This means two more years of job security, before the big tenure clock goes off.

It is quite reassuring to know that my department is happy with me, although I don't feel like I've done as much as I would have liked. I think that there are three elements to my personal scrutiny: (1) I really haven't done as much as I would have liked (see previous nasty frustrating stories about lost samples, funky fume hoods, and still-malfunctioning clocks), (2) my expectations are too high, and (3) my new position requires that I develop in a new direction, and that development requires extra time before I'll be able write like I want to.

I've been thinking strategically about how I can get myself to a more satisfying place with my progress. These thoughts usually strike at 3am when Susi has woken me up and I go into "O MY GOD" panic mode. Calmly imagining myself floating down a soft, clear, bubbling river is one way to get myself out of the panic (and rarely works apart from making me have to pee). Strategic thinking is the other way.

Last night's panic was about my student who clearly is frustrated with his work. He doesn't know enough programming, and I do not know enough to help him out, and as a result his work is slow going. I'm concerned that I'm going to lose him as a student because of these reasons. I keep giving him positive strokes, but he was very discouraged last week. So last night's 3am self-doubt dialog was all about strategic thinking on how to keep him here.



So now I can move onto positive things. Susi's third cold in a row is finally getting better, as is K's, as is my stomach bug (sort of). She was well enough that I took her swimming yesterday morning, which she enjoyed. She really doesn't like floating on her back, but she loves to slap the water, she likes to float on the turtle-shaped kickboard and kick, and she is beginning to get the concept of blowing bubbles. This is the second week of putting her head underwater. She isn't too thrilled with that idea, but she puts up with it.

Getting her in and out of the pool is a comedy of errors. It's not just getting into suits - it's getting out of diapers, cleaning up things that -ahem- were meant to stay inside diapers, getting into suits, and keeping all of our dry clothing from falling onto the wet floor or in front of a running shower. And then there is squeezing back into everything that inevitably got wet, getting back into a baby carrier, making sure little one is dry. Finding my one wet sock that fell into the shower drain....and squishing my way home. It's another moment in parenting history when you realize that it literally takes a village to raise a family - or at least to go swimming. God help the one parent who takes more than one child to the pool. The idea of herding goats through a supermarket comes to mind as a simpler process.

Anyway, Susi comes home from swimming very tired, very hungry, and very happy. (yes, it is possible for a tired and hungry baby to be happy). So we change her, feed her, dance with her in the living room a bit, and then she falls into a delightful sleep coma for a couple of hours.

In other Susi news: Susi's top two teeth have made their formal debut, announcing themselves during a breastfeeding session yesterday. ahem. They are not prominent enough to show up in photographs. But they are definitely there. I've got the teething biscuits at the ready...

She's also decided that "Peekaboo" is her all time favorite game - she of course being the first baby in the world EVER to play it. She can pull a blanket over and off her head for about 45 minutes straight and still find it amusing. Melts your heart. She also engages in interroom in, she moves from the living through the hallway, into the kitchen, straight to the catfood bowls that she upends...and will soon be moved elsewhere.

Her other favorite means of transportation is a little walker we smuggled in from the United States, and have fondly dubbed "the bumper car" - because she scoots around at top speed, whacking into everything in the kitchen - preferably Mama and Papa's achilles tendons..OUCH.

From this device she is expert enough to get into drawers and cupboards. I've declared that the drawer with the ziploc bags belongs to Susi, and so I've started hiding two toys in there for her to find: a plastic red house, and a little doll I've named "Meike." I think she prefers the house to the doll - more on this:

Meike is the main character in a highly complex German baby mystery novel about a little girl going to bed. "Meike muss ins bett." The book involves thrilling plot turns such as finding Meike's pajamas, touching Meike's Waschpeepmatz, and rubbing the tummy of her fuzzy rabbit. K thinks Meike is a loser.

Well, it turns out that "Meike" was an appropriate name for this little doll with the sleeping hat in the ziploc bag drawer. Because Susi's favorite thing to do is to grab Meike, throw her on the floor and run over her a couple of times with the bumper car. It's graphic - brings back startling images of "Mr. Bill" from Saturday Night Live: OH NO MR BILL! I have to resist drawing a chalk outline around Meike every time I find her lying sprawled face down behind the high chair. But I pick her up and place her back in the drawer for the next torture session, thinking, better Meike than the cats.

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