Sunday, September 27, 2009

Our Trip to the Quad Cities

This past Friday Katie and I decided that we'd had enough of our responsible, prudent, disciplined, and boring lifestyles so played "hooky" from schoolwork and took Abigail to the Quad Cities for a day-trip. (I know, I know. "Wow! That's sure reckless and irresponsible!" It's about as imprudent as we ever get, which is to say, not very.) We set out to go to the Niabi Zoo near Moline, IL - about an hour east of here.

As it started to rain soon after we left and didn't let up the entire time we were driving, we decided upon arrival that spending the morning outside at the zoo would be an unwise course of action (our imprudent-ness streches only so far). Along the I-74 we noticed a sign that said "Family Museum" so we figured that was worth a shot (better than turning around and going home, anyways). It actually turned out to be a lot of fun. It's designed more for older children, but there were a few things that Abigail liked. She particularly enjoyed the 1917 Model-T car in the lobby:

That was about it, though. She didn't take too much of an interest in any of the other exhibits. Katie and I (well, mostly I) actually had more fun in the museum than she did. There was a tornado machine that was very cool. And they had tubes that you could hit and make musical tones like those used by the Blue Man Group. (I was able to plunk out Beethoven's 9th!) Abigail was slightly entertained by the mirror:
We left around noon and got lunch at a nearby Old Chicago. I continued my irresponsible streak by introducing Abigail to root beer! (Much to the disapproval of her mother... Oh, well. That's what daddies are for!)
At that point, we figured the responsible thing to do would be to return home so that we could do our homework that still needed to get done. But the sky had cleared up and the zoo was free that day - and it was closing that weekend for the season. So we figured what the heck and spent the afternoon at the zoo. Our imprudence was tempered, however, in that we went on a day when it was free and made sure to use the drinking fountains instead of actually purchasing a beverage. Unfortunately we don't have any pictures, but Abby liked the monkeys and the giraffes. The male lion roared a few times for us. That was pretty cool. Their petting zoo was somewhat of a disappointment, however.

So that was our crazy and rambunxious Friday. I just don't know how Abigail is ever going to learn to be organized, responsible, or self-disciplined with such crazy parents like us.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cleaning the house while the kid is still growing...

... is like shoveling snow while the snow is still snowing.

Ben here. For the last several years Katie and I have managed to keep a fairly clean house. Nothing spotless (neither of us much cares for scrubbing/dusting/deep cleaning), but we're pretty good about avoiding clutter messes. I just want to officially announce that over the last few months I've pretty much given up on that particular ideal. Abigail is now crawling like a champ and exploring everything. She also is now the chief "de-organizer" of our household items.

This week I finally came to terms with the fact that keeping the house de-cluttered on a daily (or sometimes even hourly) basis is simply going to have to no longer be a top priority. I realized that in order to accomplish that goal it would require near-constant re-organizing after Abigail's nearly hourly de-organizing sessions. And that's not something I think I'm willing to put the effort into right now. So I've scaled back my expectations: get the dishes done, wipe off Abby's high chair and sweep the floor underneath after each time she eats, and pick up the toys in the living room and kitchen once a day. The upstairs (bedroom, bathroom) and downstairs (family room, computer room) are simply going to be neglected for the indefinite future... until either 1) Katie or I finish grad school or 2) Abigail suddenly picks up her parents' OCD approach to house tidiness. Number 1 looks a bit more likely at this point.

At any rate, there's no real point to this post other than to let all you other parents out there know that we've come to terms with something that you've probably all come to terms with long ago. We can't imagine what it must be like with more than one!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Here is a picture of my current bookshelf. These are some of the books that I will be reading this semester. On Tuesday I read two young adult novels and one hundred pages of a Spanish novel. I feel like I am always reading. One of the funnest assignments (although laborious) has been the opportunity to choose 18 young adult novels, each from a different category, to read. I have now read 11, 7 to go. One of the categories we have to choose from is 'graphic novels.' I was scared to choose something from this category. I have always been careful about what I expose myself to. Then I found out on Wiki that: "a graphic novel is a narrative work in which the story is conveyed to the reader using the comics form." Phew. I had a lot of fun yesterday reading Rapunzel's Revenge, a graphic novel. The illustrations were fabulous and the storyline was entertaining.

And last, but not least, a picture of the babe. . .who I am trying not to neglect while completing said reading. She seems to like books, though. She reminds me of a cat we once had who, in an effort to get attention, would sit directly on top of whatever you were reading.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A True Corn-fed Iowan

My mother commented to me yesterday that she can gauge how busy we are by the frequency of our blog posts. She noted that that since it had been over a week since the last batch of baby pictures, we were probably very busy this semester. She was correct. So here are our pictures for the week. We'll get them up to her adoring audience when we can. By the way, would anyone be interested in coming to live with us in Iowa this semester to watch Abigail full-time so we can get done with school??? We can provide room and board and "reasonable" living expenses.

At any rate, in our continuing efforts to introduce Abigail to a variety of healthy foods (and thereby instill in her healthy eating habits, something her parents have yet to acquire...) we gave her some corn on the cob the other night. Her native Iowan-ness shined through, as she was a natural with the corn. Observe:

By the way, we had just recently removed some hair elastics when those pictures were taken. We don't normally do her hair like that.

In other news, Abigail might not have any new "tricks" that we can brag about, but her motor skills are improving on a daily basis. She has recently taken to exploring, especially in the kitchen. She loves to climb into the cupboards, the pantry, the dishwasher, and especially the fridge. Whenever we open the fridge she bee-lines it over so she can play with the various bottles inside the fridge door.

Tonight Katie and I were cleaning up from dinner and I had put some stuff away in the fridge and Abigail had taken to her regular exploring. I went to the other side of the room to talk to Katie for a few moments. Suddenly Katie reminded me: "watch your child!" I, very confidently, responded: "oh, she's fine. She's just..." -- at this point I looked over at her to find a scene similar to the one portrayed below -- "... playing with some eggs!"

I suppose from now on we should not keep the eggs on the bottom shelf of the fridge.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Nine Months Old and No Longer Average

In fact, we think that she is exceptional. We are so proud of her and all that she is learning and accomplishing. We love to hear her babble all of the time. She crawls incredibly fast and she is adept at putting small (usually dirt, rocks, and grass) objects into her mouth. She tries to climb on things and can go up stairs. She uses several signs including: milk, more, and fan. Her favorite sounds still seems to be da-da, sigh. Some day. She is a pleasant baby and will let anyone hold her. She loves attention and gets mad if people ignore her when we're out. She walks by pushing her toy or along furniture. She loves to be walked around while holding someone's fingers. She gives kisses and hugs, waves bye-bye, still eats her feet, can pull all socks off without too much effort, and has learned to pinch. She pinches hard. She also likes to feel textures in her mouth and will often bite. Watch out!
We've been surprised by how pleasant she's been even though on Wednesday we learned that she had double ear infections. The first antibiotic didn't work and now we're trying a second. I haven't gotten much sleep in the last few days. We had our first real parenting scare on Friday evening when her temperature got to 104.1 F. We gave her a warm sponge bath and some ibuprofen and luckily her fever went down. Somehow we avoided the ER, phew. She still is cranky and sore, but slowly improving.
According to her stats from the 9 month appointment, Abigail is well below average for her age in both height and weight. Wonder where she gets that from. She only weighs 16 pounds (25%) and is 26 inches long (25%). The doctor didn't seem at all concerned and said that she is progressing and growing beautifully. We love our doctor. The funnest part was trying to hold her still long enough for the doctor to check her out. Here are the nine month pictures. As you can see, she doesn't hold still for long.

Here she is in her "tough girl" shirt as she tries to deal with the sore ears. Nothing like skull and crosshammers to scare away the sickness.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More Pictures

By popular demand, here are some photographs:

Abigail in the pool outside trying to eat the water:

Pictures from my Toronto trip. This was for the annual American Political Science Association conference: over 6,000 stuffy academics (myself included) presenting their research papers on things that nobody really cares about except themselves and a handful of others who do research on the same thing. I presented a poster of one of my dissertation chapters and two whole people came by.

The real reason I went, however, was for the preliminary job interviews. I had eleven separate 20-minute interviews with potential post-graduation employers. Lest you might find this impressive, however, I want to assure you that I was only one of about 30-50 eager-beaver ABD students interviewing with each of these schools, and will be only one of about 200-400 who actually apply for each of these jobs. So the benefit to actually getting a job was marginal, but the real value was in practicing explaining my dissertation, teaching philosophy, and other standard interview questions.

The other benefit was that I got to go to Canada for the first time and hang out in downtown Toronto for three days. It's a very cool city. My cousin Kimberly (who served her mission in downtown Toronto) provided me with a street map and several recommendations of places to visit. Here are some pictures from my time there, for the few of you who are interested:


Dissertation pilot study help

Esteemed friends and associates:

This is Ben taking an unwelcome detour from the baby picture blog posts. I would like to invite anyone out there in our blog audience to participate in a pilot study that I am conducting on personality and immigration policy preferences. This study is an important part of my dissertation research. I am going to be collecting data for this project later this fall and right now I’m testing the study procedure to makes sure it works correctly before releasing it to my target population.

If you would be willing to help in this effort, please click the link (given below) and take the survey. It should take between 15-25 minutes to complete.

After you are done, PLEASE let me know if you experienced any sort of problems taking the survey or the web procedure. I want to make sure that this survey is accessible on a variety of computers. The purpose of this “pilot study” is to work out the bugs, kinks, etc. I will be able to do so only with feedback from you. So if you encounter any problems or if anything is confusing in any way, please let me know what the problem is and be as detailed as possible so I can try to fix it. Please include relevant details like your computer operating system, your screen resolution, etc.

A few important caveats:

  • There is some language that you can take it only if you are a University of Iowa student. Since this is only a test, you can disregard this requirement and take it anyway.
  • Even though it says that there will be a drawing for a cash prize… this won’t be available during the testing period. Sorry. I appreciate your help, though.
  • This survey and procedure is only available on Windows PC computers. The software to do the procedure is not yet compatible with Mac or Linux. Sorry again.
  • If you are currently a student at the University of Iowa, PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS PILOT STUDY. You will have the opportunity later this semester when it has been approved.

Thanks very much for your help!

The link for the survey and study procedure can be accessed here:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ottoman Fun

I have to take the video from behind or she will be so distracted by the camera that she will stop.

Silence is Golden

Or is it?

I recently experienced firsthand the mischief that a child can get in to in a matter of seconds. If a child is silent, and not noisily babbling like usual, check on them asap. The funniest part was that she wanted to eat the toilet paper and probably got down an entire square or more. Silly girl. She's not in the picture because she can't sit still for more than two seconds and she was off to cause havoc somewhere else.
Abigail loves water and enjoys any opportunity where she can get wet. She even willingly plays out in the rain and in puddles, but I forgot to take pictures of that. Here are some pictures of her as she debuts in her new suit from Aunt Jenny. She looks great and had so much fun. She tried to drink the water from the sprinkler. It kept splashing her in the face, so she tried to use her hands to push the water out of the way. It didn't work.

This picture captures how blue her eyes are. Wow.

She loves the vacuum and chases me around the room as I vacuum. She gets angry if I don't let her catch it. Here she is playing with the switch. I was glad that she didn't figure out how to turn it on, yet.
Good news: My friend Rachel had her baby a few days ago and I got to go see her and him at the hospital. He was so small and perfect and I wanted to hold him forever. What a perfect baby. Was Abigail ever that small? Congrats!