Growing a Critter

We’re growing him on the outside now

Travel and 12+1 months September 22, 2008

Filed under: family,profession — crittermama @ 8:52 pm

On the high seas, the crew never uses the number 13 – they say 12+1. In deference to my paranoid (yet wonderful) husband and his superstitions, I’ll do the same. I believe he got this from Linda Greenlaw’s book The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain’s Journey. She’s the other captain in The Perfect Storm – the one that actually finds the fish (sorry, seafaring George Clooney). All that being said, we’re very happy that the Critter has hit the 13-month mark as of this weekend. Hooray!

I recently took my first out-of-town trip away from my boys. We all survived! I left early last Saturday morning on the train for NYC, heading up to do 3 focus groups with African expats living in the city about their food preferences and attitudes. I learned a LOT. On Sunday evening, I flew to Milwaukee where the AZA annual conference was held this year. It was different, more spread out than previous years, and a bit more difficult to find everyone I was looking for. But I was still so busy meeting people and going to sessions that I didn’t have time to dwell too much on being away from my boys.

Of course I did end up showing my baby’s pictures to friends, colleagues and even the stranger next to me on the plane! Dave and the critter did just fine, though we were all very happy to see each other when I got back on Wednesday! It’s good to be home but I’m glad that I know I can travel and not freak out.

The boy is walking more and more now, and I feel like he’ll be picking up tons of words once he gets the walking down. Rob says the same thing happened with Abby – that she was in a holding pattern with language and signs until she figured out walking. We’ll see what happens!

We’re looking forward to fall and enjoying autumn traditions with our little guy. Gotta go back to the pumpkin patch! Something tells me that it will be a little different this year…



Pumping July 21, 2008

Filed under: body weirdness,profession,travel — crittermama @ 9:02 pm

Finally! Someone else out there can hear their breast pump talking to them! I came across the following story earlier today: My breast pump talks to me (

I have heard mine “say” several different things. The most common is “little man little man little man.” First it was pretty creepy, but I came to think of it as a reminder about my baby boy. I’ve also heard it say “over here over here.” Other commenters have heard their pumps saying “wake up wake up” and “kill Bob kill Bob.” So in comparison, mine’s not too bad.

Also not bad was the fact that the Chattanooga Trade & Convention Center appropriated a room for me to pump in during the Society for Conservation Biology conference! It was a glorified closet, but it had a lock on the door, chairs and a sink! I’m very grateful. Here’s the sign that someone put on the outside of the door.

Pumping room at SCB

Ok, so it was maybe not the most subtle sign ever, but still!

I pumped twice a day during the conference, and I plan to do the same this week. For the next two weeks, I’ll pump once a day. My first day of no pumping at work will be August 8th. Happy Birthday to me. I’ll keep breastfeeding the critter morning and evening for a while, but the end of our time is coming. It’s kind of sad, but it’s time. Wish us luck!


Chattavegas July 14, 2008

Filed under: family,home training,profession — crittermama @ 8:34 am

Ah, land of my youth, infliltrated by godless liberals and conservationists from far-flung areas of the globe. I’m here and have my official conference badge, canvas bag and ceramic coffee mug. And yes, the conference is at the same location where I made my debut in the Cotton Ball. A friend asked me to bring a picture, but I’m afraid I cannot, as my bangs were about as puffy as the shoulders on my dress.

The critter is in the Carpet Capital with his Dee Dee, and so far, everything is ok. We had some Griswoldian escapades setting up a place for the critter to sleep last night, but three tries and a pack-n-play later, and he’s good. Who knew that with three full-sized cribs in the attic, that none would be suitable (or fully supplied with parts and attachments)?


Backlog: Memphis May 4, 2008

Filed under: family,profession — crittermama @ 9:18 am
Tags: , , ,

Howdy friends. I’m WAY delayed in writing many updates, so I’ll start with our trip to Memphis at the beginning of April. The Rhodes Biology department had invited me to be a part of their seminar series a while ago, and the dates just worked out that the trip would coincide with the 13th anniversary of our first date. So that was a happy accident (both the trip, and the circumstances of our first date, as well as many aspects of our relationship, as it is with most). The talk was called, “Eating in the Rat or eating rats? From Rhodes to the Bushmeat Crisis.” A little cheesy (ha!) but anyone that knows Rhodes might find it a little funny.

We arrived on Saturday, which gave us time to spend with family and friends. We got to visit with Big & Little Grams, Uncle Philip and George and Barry.


The Critter loved spending time outside with his Great Uncle Philip


…and being loved on by his Great Little Grams (Little Great Grams? we’ll work that out)


Of course we had to take him to Graceland.


It’s very important that he know where Elvis lived and came from.

Critter, meet Elvis. Elvis, meet Critter.

When we went to Huey’s this time, he kept his shirt on at the table (though his socks are another story). Good thing, too, because Jessica said she couldn’t have any redneck babies at her table!

Hezekiah and Critter

It was really nice to be back at Rhodes, and to catch up with the faculty members that had such a big influence on me. I had a good number of students at the seminar – though many of the intro-level students were bribed with extra credit to attend. They asked very good questions, too. Of course we were so caught up in what was going on that we didn’t take any pictures of the Critter at Rhodes, but I did manage to capture a picture of the Rat Statue.

Rhodes rat statue

Family is on our minds a great deal right now. Dave’s brother Barry had a bad accident last weekend. He was camping with some friends and went out for a solo hike. He slipped on some rocks and fell 60 feet, breaking both arms and scraping himself up pretty badly. It was a couple of hours before he was found and evacuated by helicopter to Vanderbilt. He’s going to be ok, but he’s got a lot of healing and physical therapy ahead of him. We’ll keep you posted.


wonk wonk wonk wonk wonk February 5, 2008

Filed under: family,holidays,profession — crittermama @ 9:41 am

First of all: Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Second: Happy Super Tuesday! How in the world we get both Mardi Gras and Super Tuesday on the same day is beyond me!

Third: All of my closest blood relatives of voting age get to vote today except me. Georgia, Illinois and even Alaska have their primaries today, and I have to wait until next week’s “Potomac Primary” in which Maryland, DC and Virginia all vote.

Fourth: Don’t you think there’s a strong resemblance between my

and the former Governor of Arkansas?

We’re going to a Super Tuesday party tonight! Wonks of DC unite!


Peek a Boo January 29, 2008

Filed under: kerfuffles,profession — crittermama @ 9:28 pm
Tags: , ,

No, this isn’t about a fun game I play with the Critter, but rather an unfortunate event from this past Friday. My office is housed in a larger organization’s office, and so there are often people coming and going that aren’t directly connected to my work. We do work with our host organization a good bit, and in fact, their key staff are our de facto bosses.

On Friday, one of the big bosses was in town for just a few hours to attend a meeting. To put it in technical terms, he’s my boss’s boss’s boss. He stopped in to the office for just a little while, and I hoped to have a few moments to talk to him. He needed to get set up to do some emails, so I figured that I’d get him a bit later.

Well, the time came for me to pump, so I closed my door, made sure that the window was fully covered by the cloth I throw over it and got myself set up.

It was only a few minutes later that I simultaneously heard the knock and saw the door start to open. The pump was already going, so I’m surprised that he didn’t immediately realize that perhaps I was indisposed.

In my horror as the door continued to open, all I could do was cower behind the pump and say, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!” He finally caught on and backed out before getting all the way in my office.

“Nice to see you, Natalie!” he called out as he closed the door and left for the airport.

“Sorry the timing didn’t work out!” I hollered through the door.


My new best friend, the snot sucker December 9, 2007

Filed under: body weirdness,health,profession — crittermama @ 4:50 pm

All hail the bulb syringe! We’ve got three of them, but the only one worth it’s salt is the one we stole from the hospital. The little guy and I both started getting stuffy last week, and I had hoped that it was just a side effect from the cold weather.

And snow! We had snow! Here’s the critter with his Pa:

sNoah and Pa

And with me:

sNoah and Mama

Sorry for the crappy cell phone pictures, but of course our GOOD camera had a dead battery. Bother!

Anyway! Back to my baby’s nose and nasal discharge! We’ve used a humidifier in the room for a couple of months now, since he’s always been a little snurffly, and we’ve had to clear his nose a time or two in the past. But wow. We’ve never gotten anything like what we’re seeing now. It is SO SATISFYING to clear his nose. And he can tell a difference, too. At first, he’d cry and scream, but this morning, he actually SMILED at me as I went after him with the bulb syringe. Crazy kid.

We’re keeping him home from day care tomorrow, which means that we’re each giving up a half day of work. I’ll take him to the pediatrician tomorrow morning, and Dave’s going to come home in the afternoon so I can get some work done. It’s not a whole lot of fun for the little guy to be all stoppered up, and we want to make sure that we’re doing the right things. It’s probably just a regular old cold, but we just want to be sure.

On another front, we’ve found the Sleep Lady’s book, and we’re both making our way through it. I hope this one helps!