Thursday, April 26, 2007

Old habits die hard

It began innocently enough. I worked in an office, and I was supposed to be working when I was there, obviously. Not unlike many (most? all?) people, I would occasionally spend time on the internet. As long as I got my work done and did it well and in a timely fashion, no harm, no foul. But that didn’t mean I wanted anyone to catch me not working. I kept several windows open, with at least one related to work, so I could switch over if I heard anyone approach. When I began working from home, I carried that habit with me. I also continued to switch to a work-related website whenever I finished any browsing.

I am now in my third week of not working, and I still find myself pulling up the PubMed Citation Matcher before walking away from the computer. I am tempted to delete all of my work bookmarks, but it seems like such a drastic step. I’m not one for burning bridges. Sure, I left my job, but maybe someday I’ll want to search for an article or verify the scientific name of a bacterium. Those bookmarks could come in handy someday…hopefully not, but you never know. Until I get around to at least moving them off the toolbar, I’ll just keep kicking myself for being such a creature of habit.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Moving beyond pizza and PB&J

Gogo is a picky eater. We're not sure how it happened, but there is a long list of foods that she just will not try...any kind of ground meat, beef, any vegetable, any chicken not breaded and shaped like a nugget, any meat that is not chicken, grilled hot dogs (she doesn't like the grill marks), many fruits, pasta sauce (although she'll eat it on pizza), and strangest of all, chocolate (and consequently, anything brown).

It was awkward when she started preschool and the teachers expressed concern about the fact that she hardly ate anything at lunch. They eventually got used to it. Strangely, I don't recall her previous daycare provider ever having trouble getting her to eat anything.

We’ve tried doing the "four bites because you're four" routine, and it's torture all around. We arrange the food on her plate to show her what constitutes a bite, and each one gets broken down into teeny tiny pieces, which she chews forever, making faces and shivering with the disgust the whole time. We end up instructing her to take a drink and just swallow. We know she's not going to choke on what's in her mouth because it's so miniscule, but it just seems like a bad thing to advocate.

The strangest of all is her aversion to chocolate. We have no idea how or when it started or if she ever tried it. She won't eat anything brown (except peanut butter) because she thinks it's chocolate. In some ways, this works in our favor. If we don't want her to have something, we tell her it's chocolate or that it has chocolate on or in it, and she backs down. On Halloween, we get half of her candy because she doesn't want the chocolate. But it's also embarrassing when she notices that someone gave her something with chocolate and she declares that she wants something else.

On St. Patrick's Day, we managed to get her to eat corned beef, potatoes, and carrots by promising her a green milkshake for dessert. The milkshake was made with mint chocolate chip ice cream. We warned her that the brown was chocolate but assured her that she wouldn't even notice it. She hardly touched the shake, but we don't know if that was because she actually filled up on her dinner or because she was freaked out by the chocolate bits.

On Saturday, we went shopping, and Pete bought a box of Girl Scout cookies from a group of Brownies. All they had left were Tagalongs and Thin Mints, and since Tagalongs are his favorite, that's what he bought. In the car, Gogo begged for a cookie, even though we told her they were chocolate. "I like chocolate now," she protested. Pete handed her a cookie, and she got it close to her mouth, said "yech," and made a face. "I don’t like chocolate," she said. A few minutes later, she wanted to try again.

Pete decided to take charge. He said it wasn't natural for her to be so anti-chocolate. He doesn't care for chocolate but doesn't refuse it either. My grandmother, who claims Gogo gets her dislike of chocolate from her, is known to always have a tin of Cadbury's cookies in the fridge.

He handed her a cookie and told her to take a big bite. After much coaxing, she did. Oh, how I wish I had the camera with us. I have never seen a child's eyes filled with such delight. She loved it! "I like chocolate now!" she declared, and this time, she meant it.

We waited a couple of days before trying to get her to eat something else new. We were grilling for dinner tonight and decided to offer her a cheeseburger. She resisted a little, but when reminded of the chocolate cookie, she decided to try it. Another success!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I’ve always been fascinated by old houses. My dad watched “This Old House” religiously when I was growing up. He even recorded it. The first celebrity I ever met was Bob Vila.

Since moving into our house in 2005, I’ve often bemoaned its lack of character. But right now, I’m very glad our house is new, otherwise I’d think it was haunted.

Yesterday, I was sitting in the family room with Zuzu while Gogo played on the computer in the library. I heard a noise that sounded very much like someone had bumped a doorstop (we have the springy ones that make that “brrrrrrrt” noise). I feared we had mice but rationalized that it was probably the computer, even though it sounded like it came from behind me (the opposite side of the house from the library). Now I realize that it was probably the buzzer on the dryer in the basement (underneath the kitchen).

Later, though, I went upstairs to find that the ceiling fan in the master bedroom was going full blast. The fan is operated via remote control, and the remote is in the drawer of Pete’s nightstand. I had found Zuzu playing with stuff from the drawer earlier, and I wrote it off as something had hit the button to activate the fan when I tossed stuff back into the drawer. I turned it off. (I have to admit, though, my first thought was “there’s a mouse in the drawer,” and I was a tiny bit afraid to open the drawer to get the remote.)

A few hours after that, I found the fan on again, this time on low. I figured I must have hit the wrong button when I turned it off earlier. I turned it off again, but it seemed to take several pushes of the button to finally turn off.

I told Pete about it when he got home from work, and we had a good laugh at my active imagination. But then we were both in the bedroom when I set the TV and DVR remotes on the dresser out of Zuzu’s reach and the fan started again. We wondered if a button from the TV remote had been pressed which maybe matched the frequency of the fan remote. A few minutes after Pete turned the fan off, it turned on again. This time, Zuzu had been screaming.

Unconvinced that Zuzu is activating the fan with high-pitched screams, Pete thinks the wires are shoved together so tightly that the vibrations from walking around are causing them to touch and turn the fan on. I’m not sure I buy that, since the fan has been in place for nearly a year and this is the first time we’ve had any issues with it. I’m just glad there’s some explanation other than ghosts or mice.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A word of regret

Here's a word I wish I hadn't looked up: coprophagous.