Saturday, March 27, 2010

Comprehensive Examinations

I strategically added a picture of Abigail to this post since I know that her fans will complain if I failed to do so. I know that most blog stalkers only look at the pictures, so I might as well put one. Here she is at the ward Easter activity. She is so happy to be coloring.

My comps are OVER! Yay. I spent months worrying and gathering information, less than a week of intense studying and now the long awaited *dreaded* test is over. I feel okay about my answers and am glad that the score is pass/fail. I don't think I would've earned a high mark with my answers, but I will be content with a passing score. Here's hoping. The committee has until April 28th to let me know the results. In a period of six hours (two three-hour tests over two days) I typed over 35 pages double-spaced. I wasn't allowed any notes or books, I pulled that information somewhere out of my brain. Hopefully I remembered things correctly.

Now I can move on to all my other projects that have been sitting on the backburner, including blogging.

Seven more weeks until graduation!


To interested parties: (Written by Benjamin, posted by Katie)

In an effort to keep our friends updated on recent events, and also to avoid telling the same lengthy story several times, here's a recap on our house-hunting trip to Kentucky over Spring Break week.

We stayed in Danville for about five days. We stayed with the bishop's family and also the family of one of my future co-workers at Centre College. They all took good care of us and made sure we had plenty to eat and helped us meet many people from the community. We had the opportunity to visit church - there were about 75 people there at Sacrament Meeting with about 60% older, retired couples and 40% families with kids. We also walked around the College campus and drove around the various neighborhoods. We're excited about our future new home!

In terms of the house-hunting, Katie and I looked at almost 20 different homes in Danville. We were hoping to find the perfect home: 3,000 square feet, a block away from a park, school, and work, brand new construction, huge kitchen with brand new appliances, bedroom with own bathroom, child-friendly neighborhood, and all at an easily affordable price. But alas, such was not the case.

Our priorities included something close to work and school, something newer (= less maintenance), and big enough to contain a few more rugrats down the line. Looking for a new home always involves trade-offs. For us, the options eventually boiled down to something older and close, or newer and far away. There haven't been any new constructions in Danville for the last twenty years. To get something newer, we'd have to live several miles out in the rural county area. Some people like that, but we (mostly I), were looking for something closer.

So settled on older and closer. We found an old, historic home, about 80 years old, very large (about 3,300 square feet - 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms), less than a mile away from the College campus, and containing several recent updates to the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, etc. It's also miraculously well within our price range.

There are a few things we don't like much about it. The basement will need to be updated (1970s shag carpets and wood panel walls!) and the wiring redone in the basement, probably. And it'll need a new furnace in a few years. And there's no master bath - just one single bathroom shared between the four bedrooms.

But it's also been beautifully updated with new appliances in the kitchen, new paint on the walls, two of the three bathrooms completely updated, and lots and lots of room for Abigail to run around, for friends and family to come visit (HINT HINT!), for hosting parties and get-togethers, and for an eventually-expanding family.

Here are some pictures for interested parties:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Road Trip Sicko

In an effort to secure a dwelling for ourselves in the fall when Benjamin begins his position at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, we chose to spend our spring break traveling there. It was a fun and difficult trip. Traveling in and of itself can be difficult and stressful, traveling with a baby adds to that stress, as we saw here. However, we still felt it important to go. Good choice? Maybe.
Murphy’s law states that if something could go wrong, it will…or something like that. The little ones’ fifteen month doctor appointment was scheduled for the day prior to our departure. No problem, right? Go in, see her whimper as she recognizes the place where she has previously encountered multiple needles, see her scream as she watches several more needles approach her chubby legs. Seriously, she was purple and not breathing as she prepared to scream even before the shots were administered. We can handle this. But what? The doctor says that she has double ear infections. What? How? Great, just in time for our trip. We took a prescription for amoxicillin with us just in case.

Four hour drive to Champaign goes relatively well considering. However, we had planned to stay with a cousin of mine. Unfortunately for her, the entire family came down with the stomach flu. Quick change of plans had us staying with a generous family friend of Ben’s who took good care of us. As the evening progressed, Abby’s crankiness meter moved off the charts and a quick trip to Walgreens produced the coveted pink liquid. “Yum”, she said. I threw in a dose of Tylenol just in case. It worked, in a sense. She felt better and was much happier, so happy that she didn’t feel the need to sleep. Here we were at a stranger’s house with a sick baby that wouldn’t sleep. Every time I tried to put her down she would sleep for twenty minutes and then wake up screaming. She also screamed every time I put her down. I headed down to the family room, turned on Nemo, and sat comatose on the couch as she happily organized and played with the toys. By two a.m. I was done. I handed her off to Benjamin who spent the rest of the night driving her around in the car every time she woke up. Good times.

At this point I was seriously considering turning around and going home. Ben logically explained how this was the best time to go and that we really wouldn’t have another opportunity to look at houses until after the semester ended. Ugh. So we piled the child and all our belongings into our car and made the six hour drive to KY. It actually went pretty well. She slept for four hours. Woot, woot. By this time the antibiotic started doing its work and she slept well for the rest of the trip. It wasn’t her normal sleeping pattern, but it was something.

The next baby drama occurred when we went to look at a fsbo house. We went with a realtor to see most of the houses, but this one was owned by a seller uninterested in working with a realtor. We didn’t want to overburden the kind people watching Abigail by bringing her over early, so we took her with us. Fun. It is really difficult to look at a house and prevent a toddler from breaking everything in said house at the same time. The seller had two dogs that Abigail loved. They kept jumping on her and licking her and yet she liked them. She loved them and was laughing a lot. He also had many many birds in cages that he raises and breeds. By the time we left the entry/main room, Abigail started rubbing her eyes. We got about half way through the house before I noticed that Abigail’s eyes were red and swollen, especially from all the rubbing. She looked horrible. I was so scared. I rushed her to a sink where I proceeded to wash her eyes and her hands. We quickly finished seeing the rest of the house and then headed to a CVS instead of the ER, on my mom’s recommendation, where we purchased a large bottle of Benadryl.
The swelling went down significantly and her breathing was never a concern. We hoped the Benadryl would induce sleep, but no dice. My apologies to the babysitter.
The funny thing is that this house is the one that we are going to put an offer on. I hoped she’s not allergic to the wood or the walls. We think it was probably the dogs or the birds.

Anyway, we made it back to Iowa safe and sound. The baby seems healthy and happy and was fun to have with us on the drive. She is enjoying the warm weather and had so much fun every time we stopped at a rest stop.

We arrived home on Thursday. On Friday I noticed a red spot on Abigail’s leg near where she had gotten her vaccinations a week prior. It felt bumpy. I thought that it could have been an insect or spider bite. By Saturday it was redder, bigger, and hard. After a lengthy conversation with a kind nurse on the hospital hotline, Benjamin took her into quick care where we learned that the infection was probably caused by the shot. Not the vaccinations themselves, but bacteria being pushed down into the skin by the needle. They theorized that this is why it took so long for the infection to appear. Ugh. Oh and by the way, even though she has been on amoxicillin for eight days, she still has double ear infections. Poor baby, she puts up with a lot. Although you’d never have known about the leg or ear infections, she seems to be in good spirits. So here we go with another antibiotic and future plans to visit her physician on Monday. Good times.

We won’t be taking another trip any time soon.

We haven’t offered yet, but we are very interested in purchasing this house, but that’s another story.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Granted, I'm only 15% Irish. The rest of me is German-Russian (35%) and English (50%). But unfortunately, there just aren't that many German or English heritage holidays to celebrate. So it's to St. Patrick's Day that a turn to celebrate my ethnic heritage.

My g-g-g-g-g-g-grandfather, Michael, was born around 1775 in Ireland. He married Marianne and they had a daughter named Mary around 1799. She married Dennis Rogers (b. 1796) and they had a daughter named Margery. They all came to the United States in the 1840s, along with almost two million of their compatriots, to escape the Great Potato Famine. Margery married Michael Murphy in New York City. They moved Wisconsin where they had seven children. One of these children, Alexander Rogers Murphy, was born in 1854. Alexander married Mary Ellen O'Brien in 1884 in Minnesota. Mary Ellen's parents (Daniel and Katherine) were from Cork, Ireland. Katherine's parents, Jerry Daly and Kate, were born around 1805.

Alexander and Mary Ellen Murphy had four children (see photo below). Their youngest daugher was Irene Catherine Murphy, born 1895. She is my great-grandmother and is the furthest on the left in the picture. She married John Joseph Knoll whose family is of German-Russian origins.

Yes, I'm a "white American." But like most white Americans, I have ancestors who were immigrants to the United States. They came to escape the harsh conditions in their own country and were often subject to the same prejudice and marginalization that face today's more recent immigrants.

So from the 15% Irish heritage that I have: Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Enjoy your corned beef, cabbage, and soda bread dinner. Or at least go out to eat at Bennigan's.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fifteen Months Old

19.5 pounds (Time to flip the carseat)

30 inches and growing

Monday, March 8, 2010

New Words

She has a lot to say, so I thought I'd widen her audience to our blog viewers. She is sporting the new Elmo shirt that her aunt Jenny and uncle Christian made for her. She loves it. If you are only going to watch a few seconds, fast forward to the very end. :)

In this video, she says her versions of Elmo, Jenny, uh-oh, carro (car), bear, and ouch.

She loves to watch herself on the camera, notice how I have to push her away several times. She will do something for a quick second and then she will run back into my lap to see herself on the video. So young, so vain. Yikes.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Voter Turnout and the 2008 Election

For the approximately 0.75 people out there who might be mildly interested...

This research article discusses the conventional wisdom that higher turnout in the 2008 election helped Obama win the election. Turns out it really did. I contributed a small part to the article -- a few pages with an estimation of how the election would have turned out if everyone in the country turned out to vote. In other words, what would have happened with 100% voter turnout? This estimation suggestions that Obama would have won by a much larger margin. Among those who turned out to vote, Obama won by 53.7% of the two-party vote. The estimation predicts that he would have won 72% of of the two-party vote among those who didn't turn out to vote. So if those people would have gone to the polls, Obama would have won in a landslide with about 60% of the two-party vote.

Just food for thought.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I have been studying for comprehensive exams for the last few weeks.It has been a really good experience for me to review everything that I have learned. I have found this be very useful to make sense of all of my classes and organize them in my mind in a useful format. In addition to reviewing all my class notes, I've enjoyed looking at all my doodles. Hi, I'm Katie and I'm a doodler. I know that it's distracting and that the professors probably think that I am not paying attention. I am! I really am. Doodling helps me channel my energy while I listen to the 'fascinating' information being presented.

So after coming across some of my doodles, I scanned them in and sent them to my fabulous sister who within hours created my new blog background. I really appreciate her efforts in my behalf, now if she could just help me figure out how to stop my knees from creaking. :)