Blog Archive

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Typical Week Day: Pre-Baby

I thought it would be fun to chronicle what my typical pre-baby days were like.

This post is split into 5 parts:
1. When Dave was working in Sacramento
2. Once Dave started working/living in Gualala
3. Once my mom got sick
4. Once I got pregnant
5. Now that I'm not working but have not yet had the baby

They are detailed...and probably boring for most people...but I wanted to write them down for history's on if you dare (or care)!

When Dave was working as an auditor for one of the evil Big Four Accounting Firms in Sacramento, my week days went like this:
~7am: Wake up, feed the dogs, let them out to potty (wipe paws off it muddy), get showered and ready for the day. Walk the dogs around the park if I had time before class.

: Bike to campus, drop my sack lunch off in the fridge in my building, check my email in lab, then go to class. Get something to eat at the Memorial Union once my appetite kicked in. Go to the library between classes to study and/or do homework with friends or go back to lab if I had no more classes.

: Eat my sack lunch on the quad or at my desk in the lab. Do whatever lab work I was supposed to do (in these early days as a graduate researcher, my tasks/goals were really unclear so I did spend a lot of time reading about our field of research and learning how to use instrumentation in the lab...or I'd study at my desk). Sometimes I'd go to office hours for my classes to get help with the material or homework.

~4pm: Go to my graduate group's seminar and try to stay awake throughout the entire talk. Like any graduate student, free food at seminars really helped.

~6pm: If I had no pressing homework or studying for an exam, I'd bike towards home, often stopping at the store for whatever groceries we needed. I had two big baskets on my bike so I could get lots of stuff. If it was a Wednesday, then I'd swing by the Farmers Market to get some veggies for stir-fry from the nice Chinese lady.

If I did have a test or homework I often just stayed on campus to study in the library...feeling guilty about leaving the dogs home alone for so long.

Once home, I'd feed and potty the dogs and take them on another walk. Then I'd have a large snack/small meal to tide me over until Dave got home so we could have a "proper" dinner.

~10-11pm: Get a text from Dave saying he was on his way home. If he'd worked more than 10 hours that day (which was typical), he'd offer to pick up some food on the way home using his $15 dinner allowance from his company. We usually went with two Chipotle burritos with chips and guac or soup and salad combos from Crepeville, as those were the only good eateries still open that late. Otherwise I'd make something for dinner and we'd eat it together before crashing into bed.

On Thursdays Dave tried REALLY hard to get back home in time to watch Smallville, knowing he'd owe his evil company extra hours of work the following day just to get home by 8pm to do so. If I knew he would be a few minutes late and miss the beginning of the show, I'd record it for him so he could watch it later. (This was before most network shows were available for free online.)

If Dave happened to be on a business trip (which was about 30% of the time) after hanging out with the dogs and eating something for dinner, I'd often head back to campus on my bike around 8pm to study in the library until it closed. If I didn't want to bike all the way there, I'd hole myself up in the dining room with classical music playing and study in there. (Studying at home has always been an issue for me because I get so distracted with other tasks--baking, laundry, snuggling the dogs, cleaning, etc.).

These Dave-as-an-auditor-and-me-as-a-new-grad-student days were pretty monotonous, stressful, and lonely since I did so much studying and so little interacting with other people. All I can say is, thank goodness for cell phone text messaging--without being able to text Dave throughout the day I would have lost my mind.

Once Dave started working for his dad and living up in Gualala 4 days a week, life got much better. Granted, he's gone a lot more but he's also SO MUCH HAPPIER with his work life. And that makes such a difference in both our lives. Although I miss him a lot during the week, I feel good knowing he likes his job. Also, I found my niche in the crazy world of graduate school and had very few (if any) classes to take. So life got easier all around. Here's what my typical day looked like:

~6am: Get up, feed the dogs (Potatoes will do this crazy sing/bark thing at me to tell me he's huuuuuuuuuungry and it just melts my heart), shower and get ready for the day. Take the dogs on a walk around the park and/or neighborhood. Pack a lunch. Make and eat breakfast at home 3 days a week...I allowed myself a bagel and coffee at the Memorial Union only twice a week.

~8am: Bike to campus and head straight to lab. Check email, answer emails about the instruments I was in charge of, and start my incubation experiments. Then I'd set up the thermal analyzer and run a sample. Usually someone needed help with one of the instruments so I'd have to go upstairs constantly to assist (there's no phone or internet access in that room so it meant a lot of walking back and forth for communication).

As a very active student officer in my graduate group (I was social chair one year and then student representative last year), I'd have emails to answer from students, from the chair of the group, or the coordinator. Usually these had to do with events I was organizing or students with concerns.

The instruments I worked with (C/N analyzer, incubation chambers, and thermal analyzer) all take between 1 hour and several hours for a single experiment--so I'd set them up in the morning and then check on and reset them just before lunch time.

~12pm: Eat my sack lunch at my desk while checking email, reading blogs, or checking Facebook. Then I'd get back to work analyzing data from my instruments, talking with people about the experiments we were doing, or assisting people with using instruments.

In the afternoon sometime, my labmate would come in and we'd have a long chat about whatever we did the night before and/or what we needed to get done in lab that day. Often we worked together on experiments so we had to coordinate but as time went on we each went our separate ways, research-wise, so we just used each other as a check to ensure what we were planning on doing was legit and wouldn't blow up the lab.

My Gmail chat was always enabled so I could have some contact with the outside world. Once Dave convinced his dad to get high speed internet at the office and at their house, my world got a lot better because we could chat on/off throughout the day. I also chatted with Edward a lot, usually getting help with calculus or random math questions that I encountered while reading articles or whatever. Technology can be such a wonderful thing!

I learned from seasoned graduate students that to keep my sanity I needed to treat my schooling as if it were a job: to maintain regular working hours and not deal with school emails after "business hours" (unless they were pressing, like for publication or a deadline for a major report to a funding agency). This was probably the best and hardest lesson I had learned in school so far...and it has served me well!

~4pm: Go to seminar for my graduate group, if there was one. This became more fun as I know knew almost all the students and faculty in my group so the social aspect was appealing. I loved getting a hazelnut coffee from the Memorial Union before seminar so I could sip it during the talk. My interest in the talks also increased as I became aware of other types of chemistry and my confidence in understanding the subject as a whole increased.

~6pm: Bike home, picking up what few groceries I needed for myself on the way. Feed the dogs and let them outside to potty and run around. Watch Friends on tv while I cooked something for my dinner. Then did the dishes and cleaned up the house a bit. I got in the habit of researching recipes and doing a lot of large cooking projects (preserving food or making things for the freezer) in the evenings to entertain myself. The kitchen or big living room tv was on almost constantly, just for the background noise. If the weather was good and it was still light outside, I'd work in the garden.

~10pm: Take the dogs to the park next to our house for some exercise. I'd either use the Chuck-It with the tennis ball, the cloth frisbee, or the deflated soccer ball. At night I didn't bother to keep them on leash because no one is at the park anyway, other than the few other folks who'd also bring their dogs for some off-leash exercise. When I could tell the dogs were getting tired, I'd say "okay, only 4 more throws/kicks" and then count down. Then I'd say, "okay, let's go home!" and Ruby would obediently grab whatever toy we had and trot off toward home (usually stopping to pee just before she left the park). At some point I'd try to get online so I could chat with Dave...or we'd text each other or perhaps talk on the phone briefly. He had shows he liked to watch on certain nights of the week so there were always nights when we didn't talk because he was busy with those.

~11pm: If I was still awake enough, I'd watch Friends when it came on and then head to bed after reading for a while.

When my mom got sick and was in the hospital, I started taking Fridays off so Dave and I could drive to Livermore for the weekend to see her and work on cleaning her house. My professor was totally okay with that, luckily, and I tried to make up for it by staying in lab longer the other 4 days a week.

Once I got pregnant, and really started to feel the affects of it (being SO DANG TIRED that I could hardly function or just plain uncomfortable sitting for so long), I again took most Fridays off...but sorta on the sly. At first I'd go in for only a few hours...but over time I just stopped going at all. No one seemed to notice since I was so efficient with my work other days. The days in lab wore me out and I figured Dave and I only had a certain amount of time to be together before this baby came (and we had a LOT of stuff to get done during the short 3 days he was home each week). My last two quarters on campus I was instructed to work on my method and to assist my new professor's students to use the thermal analyzer for their samples. Since there wasn't funding for my actual thesis research, my tasks were somewhat limited to helping others. it would have been hard to hide what I was doing because one of my professors rides his bike by my house on his way to campus every day. So if he saw me outside working, my jig would have been up!

Now that I'm not working (I wasn't funded for the summer) and am essentially on "maternity leave" but haven't had the baby yet, my days are like this when I'm home alone:
~7am: Get up, feed the dogs and myself, throw on some work clothes and do yard work, laundry, or a project in the garage until it gets too hot to work out there. Then I shower and get dressed in clean clothes.

~12pm: Eat something for lunch then occupy myself by doing indoor projects (sewing, arranging the baby's room, deep cleaning something in my nesting mode) or run errands (buying baby gear, going to the doctor, buying household items to stock up for after baby arrives).

~6pm: Feed myself and the dogs, then drive them to the dog park so we could all socialize and they could get some exercise. Then I'd get online to chat with Dave or read blogs and check Facebook. I got pretty bad about checking my email during the day so I'd answer whatever school/instrument emails I had. I'd usually cook something for my Post-Birth Food Stockpile
in the evening when I could open the windows and keep the house cool.

~10pm: If the dogs were driving me crazy or I hadn't taken them to the dog park, I'd take them to play at the park next door and then go to bed after reading for a while. The tv stayed off pretty much since I was so busy with all my nesting activities.

When Edward is here with me during the week, my days are a little more random (other than the eating schedules), depending on what we decide to do that day (go to Yosemite, the zoo, running errands, test driving--and buying!--a car, etc.).

It'll be interesting to document how my typical day once Eddie arrives and begins to mature (even more so once I go back to school in January and we have to navigate balancing childcare with my research in lab, which will be much more intense than before).

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