Monday, May 5, 2014

5^3: Worcester wrap-up letter to myself

Well, I'm sitting in my office at WPI, waiting for the students to come ask me questions before their final exam. I have a million other things I should be doing. But I want to write this before we move on out of Massachusetts, to get it out right now before it slips away into the changes.
It has been a tough couple of months, for reasons that have and have not appeared on this highly incomplete list of moments. I want just for a second to think only of the good bits, to make sure these aren't forgotten. It is too easy to focus on how hard things are. So here a little run-down of positives, a dose of loveliness-classic for your Monday:
 
- Our nanny here in Worcester was amazing. She was so thoughtful, thorough, reliable and fun. I really don't think we could have done any better, and it is so obvious that childcare is a bit of a minefield for a bunch of different reasons. So yay Jennifer!
 
- Although there were problems, our house was actually pretty fantastic in the end. We lucked out. For one thing, there was the lake (walking distance to work, and on a lake - excellent). We will miss the lake! It is beautiful and also presented us with the opportunity to observe birds and wildlife everyday! Our most recent excitement is the resident muskrat. We've also seen herons, migrating ducks, turkey vultures, and all kinds of lovely sing-songy birds. It has been great to share this with Heiko (who may be the only two year old who knows how to identify a grackle). And I also love seeing the moon, which is easy to do over a lake.
 
- On a related note, I grew to love my crazy commute, even in the wild winter weather it was nice to embrace the outdoors, bundle up and get a little exercise and mental clarity in my day.
 
- And there was work, of course. Work! I was dreading it so much, looking for an excuse to back out of my postdoc commitment, to retreat into the comfort of being a housewife forever. But it turned out to be great. Teaching was fun, and research was fun too. Getting paid to learn new things? This is a dream job. My brain feels a tiny bit bigger.
 
- Related to work, I was super excited to finally be working with a woman (my advisor here at WPI). This comment is worthy of its own post, so I won't say much. But I had a few opportunities here to receive some really inspiring mentoring from several senior female mathematicians, including future-me! I'll tell you about her later. The summary is that I'm feeling inspired and connected!
 
- I frequently complain about sleep on this blog. But guess what? It is going better. Frequently Heiko only wakes up once all night, which is fully manageable. It comes and goes of course, depending on what else is going on, but on balance, it is improving.
 
- Now that H is finally talking (a little bit of a late bloomer on this front I think), it is amazing to hear his stories and jokes.
 
- And finally, isn't spring that much sweeter after a long, bitter winter?
 
There, I feel happier just for having written this.
 
LOVE and loveliness.
Thanks for reading!
xo e
 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

124

We spent our last Sunday in Worcester with a little jaunt downtown, visiting a new bakery with the promise of croissants (not the the actuality unfortunately - sold out, but we substituted some other treats).
From there we toured the WAM (Worcester Art Museum) at the speed of Heiko's attention span.
It was nice to take a morning to appreciate some of the things that Worcester does have to offer. It is so much easier to find the positives now that the sun is shining and the magnolias are blooming.
 

123

When I was just a round belly expectant mama, I thought that I would be a really artsy parent, always doing crafts and activities with my kid. But what I didn't quite realize back then is that it takes a long time for a child to really be ready for anything like that. Like years basically, unless you count strange activities involving adhesive paper and cotton balls as "crafts" (who is doing the craft?).
That and the quantity of mess is inversely proportional to the age of the child. (Favourite related comment from a mom-friend: "fuck fingerpaints").
Anyway, I finally called it on being lazy in this area, and ordered some paints. Crayons were not cutting it. So we've been doing "art". Potato prints and egg carton painting and making some marks.
And so begins the era of saving every beautiful scrap of "art" that H blasts out.
 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

122

Heiko had some new spring shoes to try on last night so what better to do than try some hands-free stair climbing and "run-run" on the long deck along the back of the house.
We also discovered that he has finally grown into this hoodie! He is really starting to look like a big boy to me!
By the way, if you ask H to pose for a picture, this is what he does. I don't mind at all.
 

117

After a winter of hunkering down and working and being sick and math-related traveling, we finally made our way into Boston last weekend. Heiko woke up on Sunday and said "train! Boston!".
Indeed taking the train in from Worcester was at least half of the fun for H. And Worcester Union Station is very grand.
We went to the New England Aquarium, which was fun but I don't think H liked it quite as well as I expected. Never mind, from there it was a stroll over the common, and what did we find there but a playground.
The rest of the afternoon was passed munching snacks and strolling the elegant boulevards of Back Bay.
What a lovely day.