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Posts tagged ‘writing’

A Bedtime Conversation with My Daughter

In which I try to explain to my 4-year-old, who loves to stall at bedtime, why my time after she goes to sleep is so important to me.

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I’m Writing a Book!

I have always wanted to be a writer, long before I thought about going into science. I have a stack of journals going back to when I was nine-years-old, wire-bound notebooks with frayed covers. They are each carefully titled: My Writing: Volume 4, Written and Illustrated by Alice Sawyer Green. The writing inside is rich with details of a childhood, tedious as they are: school cancelled for snow, play practice, baking cookies, skating in sneakers on our frozen creek, and a record of state license plates spotted on road trips. But it is there, documented. I’ve been doing this for a long time. And yet, I can’t bring myself to say that I’m a writer.

When I was a senior in high school, I started learning the violin in a group class. Those first few scales played on the violin are as awkward as a nine-year-old’s writing. They are hesitant and careful and yet somehow so loud. It’s impossible to be subtle when you’re learning to play a new instrument. You have to screw up repeatedly before the notes become music.

I loved playing the violin, though. I worked hard at it, practicing for at least an hour per day, and not because anyone told me I had to but simply because I wanted to be better. But still, I never would have called myself a violinist. Or a musician. And indeed, with that attitude, I never would be a violinist. In college, I went through phases of playing through the simple tunes I learned in high school, but I never took lessons again. I stopped learning.

Looking back, I was scared of all the loud, off-key screeching that lay between being a beginner and becoming competent in music. And it was impossible for me to not compare myself to the other musicians at my school. It seemed that they had all been playing for at least a decade, and the skill they had acquired through all those years of practice seemed unreachable to me. Now that I’ve been alive for a few of them, I realize that a decade isn’t really that long. Time is ticking away on the next one. In the end, I’m not (yet) a violinist not because I didn’t start at a young enough age, but because I stopped playing the violin.

If I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I’ve been writing down my stories since I was a little girl, what is stopping me? Is it the knowledge that any chance of being good at writing will require countless hours and years of work? Is it the certainty that along the way I will produce bad writing? Is it the fear that I might not ever be very good at it?

My two-year-old Cee would never learn to dress herself if she had that kind of attitude. And we’d miss out on all the maddening and enlightening moments in which she insists on trying to put her shirt on upside down or two legs in one pant leg.

So. Deep breath. Here we go. In this decade, I will become a writer. I’ll probably be playing off-key without knowing it, and I might walk out in public with my pants on backwards once or twice. But how else will I learn? Read more

One Year and 100 Posts

I missed my one year blog birthday last week. Happy Birthday, Science of Mom!

Photo by Laura at

AND this little post here is my 100th post! I get nervous every time I press the “Publish” button, so I’m proud that I found the courage to do it 100 times in the last year.

One of the greatest things about writing regularly – whether in a journal, a baby book, or for a wider audience – is that it offers the chance to marvel at how much has changed over time. In the last year, BabyC has grown in ways that simply blow my mind. But that’s true of all children, and there are tangible milestones for evidence – physical size, motor skills, language, etc. Compare a couple of photos, and her growth is obvious:

BabyC at 9 months

At 21 months

My growth as a mother and as a writer has come more slowly and in more nuanced ways. Read more

Peer Review Blues

I’ve been working on responding to reviews of the last paper submitted from my postdoc work.  This process is never fun, and this one is especially tough because I haven’t thought much about this project since I submitted the paper a couple of months ago.  I’d much rather be working on this blog, and I have a long list of cool sciency parenting topics that I can’t wait to tackle, but I’m trying to find the discipline to spend a few hours a day revising this paper.  And a few hours a day is all I have at the moment.  It is a pain, but I need to get it done and get it done well.

On the other hand, I’m trying to appreciate that this peer review process serves a vital purpose, and my paper will be better for it by the time it is published.  It isn’t a perfect system, but it certainly goes a long way towards ensuring that scientific data are published with integrity.  If you aren’t familiar with this process, here it is in a nutshell:  Read more

(Re)Introduction and Intention

I thought I should take a moment to update the blogosphere on who I am and what I am doing here.  I started this blog last June when I was a pregnant postdoc, working in a lab at a major research university, where I was studying the effects of gestational diabetes on the fetus.  After a couple of posts, the blog fell by the wayside for about a year.  I got busy with trying to get as much work done as possible before the baby was born and with trying to get enough sleep, which has been a losing battle ever since.  Once BabyC arrived, my world of course forever changed.  I muddled through the first few months of being a mama, alternating (minute-to-minute) from being overwhelmingly happy to overwhelmingly tired to being generally overwhelmed.

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Things that get in the way of writing when you are a stay-at-home, trying to be a work-from-home, mom

Things that get in the way of writing when you are a stay-at-home, trying to be a work-from-home, mom

I’ve been trying to work on an honest-to-goodness sciency parenting piece of writing.  When (not IF, note the confidence here!) I finish it, I’ll post it on this blog.  This particular piece is about iron nutrition for babies transitioning from a milk diet to solid foods.  My baby hates cereal, in fact hates eating anything with a spoon, and I’ve been fretting that she isn’t getting enough iron since I can’t feed her that disgusting fortified baby cereal (Preview:  I did enough research today to ease my fears a bit, but you’ll have to stay tuned for the fun sciency details.)  My goal is to write pieces like this on a free-lance basis for parenting magazines.  You can laugh if you want.  Or if you have any advice about this dream of mine, please let me know.  I’ll write more about my plans soon, but first let me tell about why I’ve made so little progress today.  If you are a parent and/or a writer, I’m sure you can relate.

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What a difference a year makes

Yesterday one of my grad school papers was finally published. Yes, I finished my PhD almost 3 years ago. Yes, it took submitting to a few journals before this paper was accepted. And no, as you have probably guessed by now, this was not ground-breaking work with exciting results. But still, it felt good to see the neatly formatted PDF with my name first among the list of authors. Even with my love-hate relationship with science, that feeling of seeing your work published has to be among the best feelings. Never mind that I look at the paper and can’t help but see the shortcomings of the study design and execution glare back at me.

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