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Hello again! This seems like a good place to put 2am thoughts while watching your newborn daughter and amazing wife sleep peacefully in the hospital.

My heart has been stolen by this little girl. As soon as they dropped the curtain and I saw her in the purple, screaming flesh, I was lost forever. Everything changed in that instant, and all of it for the better.

But the better is hard to see when your baby is getting whisked away to the NICU and you have to decide to stay with your daughter, who is going to spend the first hours of her life away from the only person she's really ever known, or your wife, whose strength and heart are the reason you're there at all. No matter how many times you're told "it's perfectly normal" or "it's just for observation," you can't grasp that something is wrong and that there's not anything you can do to fix it, but I was ready to tear apart every room of this hospital to stay with my baby, her tiny fingers wrapped around mine as her stomach takes in its first real meal, through a tube through her nose.

I never truly appreciated what everyone says about the motivation to protect your children, until I was being told that, no, I couldn't stay with her while she was transferred out of the NICU and brought to our room, but not to worry, she would be with us very soon. As very soon turned into 1 hour, and then 2, my mind could only think, "to hell with your paperwork (which ended up not being filed correctly anyway), my family needs to be reunited right fucking now! I'll wheel her down the hall myself!"

I know that these are small things in the grand scheme of what could happen in the moments after birth, but this little girl has turned my world upside down, and I can't wait to take her home today!

Now, I think I smell a diaper that needs changing

The Cosmonaut

I invented a new cocktail this evening. I call it the Cosmonaut (because it's like a Cosmo, but not)

2 shots vodka
1/2 shot lime juice
1/2 shot roasted cranberry-clove syrup
3 dashes of Orange bitters

Shake vigorously with ice. Strain and serve garnished with a slice of orange.

The cloves add a nice bit of spiciness that's balanced by the citrus. Overall, a very yummy experiment!

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Christmas Cuisine

Foods cooked/to be cooked for Christmas Eve/Day:

Manicotti in Red Sauce
Chicken and Spinach Manicotti in Alfredo Sauce
Chicken and Spinach Manicotti in Red Pepper Tomato Sauce (We had leftover filling and homemade shells)
Eggplant Parmesan
Zucchini Fritte (and a lemon-garlic aioli to go with it)
Garlic Green Beans
Biscuits and Sausage Gravy (Christmas Breakfast)
Twice Baked Potatoes
Beef Tenderloin
Cranberry-clove simple syrup
Clementine-brown sugar simple syrup


I LOVE cooking, but this is deliciously exhausting.

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8pen

so i am trying out the new text entry alternative for Android. (the8pen. com) It definitely has a steep learning curve. but i'm already making a fair bit of progress. The tricky parts so far is remembering where the different letters are. and remembering to add punctuation to the end of words. It has potential for smooth writing once you get the hang of it.

S-M-R-T

With Laura's increased need for driving flexibility in order to spend more time with family, we were considering buying a new, fuel-efficient car that she could use to get to and from work and cut back on gas. After doing a bunch of research with Consumer Reports and narrowing down our list to 3 or so options, we scrapped the whole thing and signed up for Zipcar so that I could have a spare car when I need it, but we don't end up with car payments, increased insurance, and city registration fees. Not only was this a good short-term solution to our sudden need for a car, but also, the majority of the Zipcar fleet are small, fuel-efficient cars that were on our list.

One of the biggest perks of Zipcar was the opportunity to drive a Smart Car. Ever since I went to Germany with my high school band in 2001 and saw these tiny, colorful cubes on wheels, I wanted to drive one. Even though I knew I would probably never own one, the possibility of driving one was really exciting.

Emphasis on was.

The actual driving experience of the Smart Car is akin to driving a golf cart. I was pleasantly surprised that my bass clarinet fit in the back. Actually the cargo space was significantly more than I expected. The main problem with the Smart Car comes in the "car" part. The engine has enough power to get off the line, but the transmission makes shifting between gears feel like riding a bucking bronco. Also, if you put the fan on to cool down (kind of necessary when it's 85 degrees outside) the entire dashboard shakes and I was a little bit scared of breaking the thing. The ultimate kicker was the lack of power steering or anti-lock breaks. With a decent effort, you could probably pick the car up, but it's a lot of work to drive.

Now that I've done it once, I never have to drive a Smart Car again. Fantasy realized, illusion shattered.

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Diet Pepsiholics

Tonight, Laura and I realized that we tend to drink quite a lot on a regular basis. It's not uncommon for the two of us to finish a bottle of wine with dinner and then have another drink or two before bed. We figured out just why that is:

Kevin: What else do we have to drink? Water is boring. Milk and orange juice are pretty much reserved for breakfast. And pop is a precious, limited resource!

Laura: We're Diet Pepsiholics!

Kevin: Hell, we put booze in our Diet Pepsi just so we can make it last longer!

_____________________

Laura says it's not as funny written down, but I'm still going to post it :)

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Long overdue

I can finally write about something that has been hanging over me for the last five months.

I was almost kicked out of grad school, twice.

The biggest requirement for graduate students in psychology is that they complete a trial research project by the end of their second year. They must form a hypothesis and a way to test it, collect and analyze data, write it up in a manuscript, and defend their project before a panel of three faculty that make up their committee.

After several false starts, last winter, I felt that I had finally managed to find the proper direction to take my project. Me and two RAs analyzed copious amounts of data, and I wrote what I felt to be a pretty good paper. It seemed well-received when I presented it in two talks (one at the developmental brown bag and one at a trial research conclusion celebration), so I wasn't concerned going into my defense. At this point, my committee judged my project to be insufficient. It was not of the caliber they expected from a second year graduate student, and did not address many problems that they saw in the theoretical background. I needed to search through the literature and come up with a new coding scheme. That was at the beginning of July.

As any of you who know me at all would know, I was rather preoccupied this summer with the minor event of marrying my lovely wife, Laura. This is not really an excuse, just an aside. My summer was already busy, and it had just become much moreso. I worked my ass off to find literature on spatial language that could work as a new coding scheme. I found a system that my advisor, my 1 RA (since one had left for the summer), and I agreed was a good one.

Then I got married and went on my honeymoon. This left me largely out of touch with my work for the better part of 3 weeks (week of the wedding, week between the wedding and the honeymoon, and the week of the honeymoon). It is at this point that I should inform you, that although my committee members are brilliant women, they are not the best at communicating exactly what they want. So although they had told me (or I understood them as having told me) they wanted to see a comprehensive literature review and methods in order to approve my project, what they meant was that they wanted the entire project in its finished form.

At this point, I wasn't so sure I really wanted to be a grad student anymore. I wasn't sure I wanted to be a professor anymore. I wasn't sure I wanted to do research ever again.

But I wasn't about to walk out of the University of Chicago without getting at least my masters degree. I convinced the committee to give me one more chance. I would finish the entire project from lit review to finished paper in 1 quarter, they would be involved every step of the way to keep me honest, and thus, if I failed, it would be their fault too.

I finished my paper draft the week before Thanksgiving. I met with my committee today expecting to discuss revisions to the draft and set up another meeting for my defense. The committee decided that today's meeting would be my defense! After being thrown for quite a loop, I explained my findings and how I interpreted them. They made some suggestions for how I might look at them differently, but overall, said that I had done quality work. They signed my form, and I can now begin to worry about what I should do for my dissertation and how I can finish my coursework when the one course I have left isn't being taught.

I no longer have to worry about losing half of my family income. I no longer have to worry about searching for a new job. I no longer have to worry that I shouldn't spend too much time with my psych department friends for fear of having to explain that I was getting kicked out of school.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

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spotted:

On a Jim Beam Black gift box, a recipe for Jim Beam Black on the rocks:

1 part Jim Beam Black

Serve in a rocks glass over ice.

Really? If you need this, you probably shouldn't be drinking.

Droid.

I am now completely plugged in. My Droid arrived yesterday. I've never gone so long without my laptop. This thing is great!

Well if you want to sing out, sing out

Laura got me Harold and Maude finger puppets!!

Now I'm fighting the urge to put on Cat Stevens and play out the movie.

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