Friday, October 13, 2006

What Archaic Word Do You Want Back?

Over at finslippy, they're talking about which archaic phrases would be fun to use again.

Personally, I just can't get enough of the word "dolt". It's short, to-the-point, and actually sounds like an insult.

I was always rather fond of "ugful", but I'm not sure anyone ever used that except for Shakespeare.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Boneless Chicken Broth and Kitchen Science

So, despite the fact that depression tells me I'm not ever getting anything done because my to do lists are never finished (whose are?!?!), I really am doing pretty well.

The living room and den are passably clean. The other rooms are doing okay. The dishes get done every night. I've been making dinner most nights -- sometimes it's more impressive than others. ;) I've been making cookies with my son, and playing games with him. I read to him at night almost every night (sometimes the baby chooses bedtime to want to nurse, so I end up missing reading those nights, but my husband gets reading duty that night). We have been going places, like the Children's museum. We even did some simple science projects yesterday -- paper chromatography and a study of surface tension. Not that he had any idea what he was learning, but he had fun, and he'll remember the projects, at least.

For paper chromatography, all you need is markers, coffee filters, and a little bowl of water. Pick an interesting marker color, and put a dot about an inch from the bottom of the coffee filter. Then put the filter in the water, making sure the marker dot doesn't go under water. Hold it in the water, and watch the water slowly creep up the filter. The marker will travel up the paper with the water but (and this is key!) different pigment colors will travel at different rates. This allows the water the separate the marker ink into it's constituent inks. For example if you test brown, it generally splits into cyan, yellow, and red (or magenta). You'll see that some markers colors use the exact same pigments, just in different ratios. (Here's a discussion, with images. I recommend a dot of marker, not a line. You'll get better separation. ;) )

For surface tension, all you need is pepper, dish soap, and water. Grab a bowl (or a tupperware container, whatever!) and put about an inch of water in the bottom. Sprinkle pepper on top (if you have a pepper grinder, it gives the kids something to do while you do the dishes... :D Plus, if your kids like pepper grinders like mine does, he's thrilled he gets to use it for something, and might spend less time putting pepper all over his dinner, resulting in dinner that doesn't get eaten...). The pepper will distribute itself evenly over the top of the water. Then, use a finger or a dropper or something to drip one drop of soapy water into the middle of the dish. Plop! All the pepper suddenly flies to the edges of the water! (Here's a good discussion of surface tension. Or do a google search!)

And finally, yesterday I made some chicken stock. Sort of. See, I had the husband go to the store last week, and asked him to buy "chicken parts". I don't think I said what they were for, and I probably should have been more specific... See, bought boneless chicken thighs. Did I look at the package? Nope. I saw thighs and decided to make some soup. I'm having allergies or a cold or something, and figure having some chicken stock around would be nice. So I simmered the chicken thighs for an hour or whatever before I took them out to get the meat off the bones. I went though half a dozen thighs before I realized there were no bones! Argh! I am pretty surprised though. I do have a broth that tastes like chicken, and after a night in the fridge it's obvious it has at least some gelatin in it (the stuff that makes chicken broth act like jello when it's cold -- but the gelatin mostly lives inside chicken bones, I thought!), despite the complete lack of bones. The broth is a really odd yellow color though. You could mistake the tub of it for lemon jello... until you eat it!


Oh, how I hate depression. I hate the feedback loop that I get stuck in that just makes it worse and worse. I hate writing about depression. I don't want anyone to know. It merely adds to the feelings of shame and guilt that depression feeds on.

But that's where I am right now. I don't know if it's post-partum hormones... or lack of sleep (lack of sleep is a very strong depression trigger for me), or just the realization that I'm going to have to send my two babies back to daycare. Or all three. Or even more.

I'm sort of in a horrible predicament though, for someone as picky as me and for someone who plans as much as me. When I became pregnant, my husband wasn't working and was home with our son. So I didn't look for a daycare for the baby or a preschool for my son. Suddenly, a mere week or two before the baby was born, my husband got a job offer that he just couldn't refuse. (And I wouldn't want him to -- he really needed to get back to work. While staying home with our son was great, it isn't something he wants to do permenently...!)

The problem is, he got a job offer when I was super pregnant, miserable, and incapable of thinking straight. Then the baby was born, and let's just say that's not a good idea to calmly discuss ways to part mommy from infant. I, um, basically refused to talk about daycare for a few weeks, as if ignoring it would make it go away. I already knew that 6 weeks was not long enough to find a decent daycare. The good ones have 6 month waiting lists. Luckily, I realized that with my husband now working, we could afford for me to take longer than the standard 6 weeks leave. So I submitted paperwork for 6 more weeks.

This entire time, I've been mentally beating myself up for not putting them on daycare waiting lists "just in case". Which is crazy -- the daycare my son went to requires $100 to get on the wait list, per kid. Who has a spare $200 laying around "just in case" when there's onle one income?! But hey, tha'ts depression. Crazy thinking that seems logical, all just to make you feel worse about yourself. But I feel like I've let everyone down. I didn't plan well enough, and now they'll be going to who-knows-what daycare. I'm not happy with the idea of placing my kids at whatever place is unpopular enough to have a short wait list, you know?

I was watching a science program on TV last night. I think it was Nova. And there was a segment on a guy who isn't just an accomplished writer, but also an accomplished scientist. And they were talking about how most people think those are two poles on some sort of linear scale -- the artist and the scientist. And in fact, they really have so much in common. And they discussed with him (and other writers and scientists) how hard it is because with both disciplines, you get engulfed by your work. It has to be your passion. Or, as they said, you don't become a writer or a scientist just because you want to, you become one because you can't NOT be one. It calls you. And while you are engaged in a book or an interesting problem, you aren't a very fun person to be around. You are obsessed. You totally throw yourself into the problem, and everything else has to wait. And they're completely and totally right.

So I started crying my eyes out watching it.

I miss science. I miss it so much. I want to grab a problem and throw myself into it and discover some neat new science thing. Or just read articles until I understand the world better. But I cannot. When I was in grad school, I saw that being a good scientist and being a good wife and mother is pretty much impossible. At least for me. Maybe some people can pull it off. Maybe they have more energy, or a less demanding family, or something. But I can't do it.

I think only other moms understand the level of sacrifice that it takes to have kids.

It's a sacrifice that I will never regret. My kids and my husband are more important to me than anything. They are more important than me and my needs. But that didn't keep me from wondering, and wishing, and crying. Just for a moment, to mourn the "what could have beens". But that just feeds the depression monster even more.

Well, my mom stayed home with us for 10 years. And then she went back to science, and she's done pretty well in her career after all, I suppose.

But I hate having to go to work and having it be something I don't care about. It's pretty much the worst of both worlds isn't it? I spend all day long away form my kids, wasting energy on something I don't even care about, and I don't have the energy or time to do what I want to at home. And I don't have the energy or drive to really do my best at work, since I really just don't care. Don't ge tme wrong -- I do my best at work, and I gve them my best. But your best is always better when you're inspired, and have that drive you get from passion.