Tuesday, July 20, 2010


About 2 months ago, SL forwarded me an announcement for a new position at Wash U. It was non-tenure track, tutoring/advising position that actually sounded right up my alley. I think it was the 26th job I applied for since getting my PhD, and when I didn't hear anything back for several weeks, I assumed that they had given the position to someone else.

Then out of the blue, they called me up and asked me to come in for an interview last Friday. We all went to St. Louis. It was a family affair.

I don't know if I was the only person who applied for the position or not, but they offered me the job!

I accepted today! The Ragfields are moving to St. Louis!

Washington University in St. Louis


Lunch at Forest Park

Forest Park

Ragfields in St. Louis

It is kind of crazy for me to accept this position and move our whole family to another state in the span of a few weeks. And put Will in daycare for the first time ever. He doesn't eat, drink, or sleep when I am not with him. He still nurses 10 zillion times a day. But it would be more crazy to not accept this position. It is in my field, but it is 9:00-5:00 and only 10 months of the year-- so essentially I still get to do what I love, but also have a chance to see my son grow up. I am very excited. And scared. Did I mention scared?

There is so much to take care of in the next couple of weeks. I haven't slept or eaten in days. I was actually below my pre-pregnancy weight for a few seconds there, until my mom showed up with a pan of vegan brownies. (Thanks a lot, mom).

Okay, so here is a very important question for anybody out there who breastfed their kid past 12 months. What do you do if you are working?? Everybody assures me that by this point, you only feed them about twice a day (i.e., morning and night), and you do not need to pump milk and send it to daycare. But Will still nurses umpty zillion times a day right now. (Okay, that is an exaggeration. He actually nurses 5 times). How do I shift him to a twice per day nursing schedule? I've already cut him down to 4 feedings per day, and it is rough because it has totally disrupted his napping system. He goes to sleep when he nurses. So when he isn't nursing, he stays awake and he gets frantic and red-eyed with his need to sleep but inability to do so. Plus, he still doesn't eat solid food very well, so I am worried about him getting enough calories/fat/nutrition. Most everybody tells me that you can give them a sippy cup of milk (as in, cow's milk) by this point instead of nursing them. But recall that I am a vegan. I've recently tried fortified, full-fat soymilk with him. He just took one sip, threw the cup across the room, and didn't care to drink any more. The whole situation is just very stressful.

Our house goes on the market tomorrow, and there is still clutter to tidy up. Got to run.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

9 years


Nine years ago today, Ragfield and I tied the knot. We have now known each other for close to 13 years. We've been through a lot together.

This last bit has been really hard. I was very, very sick my entire pregnancy, and if Rob even thought about eating pickles or onions or any number of the hundred thousand other things that made me sick, I couldn't bear to be in the same room as him. Then, those first several months after Will was born were the hardest, most stressful months of our lives. What with the crying and the crying and the never ending crying. People with easy-going babies just do not know what it was like. I have a lot of anger in me-- anger about having had hyperemesis, anger about being at home alone all day with the most difficult baby there ever was. With so much anger, sometimes there isn't room for a whole lot else.

We haven't had much time for each other in a while, and that's been hard. But in spite of everything, I think that the best is yet to come.

And now, a few selections from the "1000 Reasons Why I Love Rob" list:

16. You have your own dance move, which I call "The Rob."
82. You can multiply large numbers in your head more quickly than a calculator.
171. You stop for turtles.
185. You squeezed my hand when we saw Fig's feet on the ultrasound.
189. You like gazpacho.
190. You got me a floor-cleaning robot for mother's day.
191. You remembered everything I told you not to let them do to me during labor.
195. You have never doubted me.

This picture pretty much sums it all up.

Joyful daddy

Love you, Ragfield.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mysterious benefactor

When I was 16 or 17, I drove around a lot more than I do nowadays, and I developed a habit of leaving my windows down in the rain. Not completely rolled down-- I'd just leave the windows open a crack so that the car wasn't quite as stifling hot when I got back into it, and invariably when I did so, it would rain. I even wrote a poem about it (that is back when I wrote poetry). Well, the poem wasn't literally about leaving my windows down in the rain... the windows thing was more of a metaphor for other bad habits I couldn't seem to break.

We've been parking our car on the driveway this week, because our garage is full of boxes left over from our garage sale that we are still trying to figure out what to do with. I had to run an errand yesterday, and the car was ridiculously hot after being out in the sun all day. Will was soaked through with sweat when we got home. So I left the windows down, just a little. I guess I still haven't broken the habit.

And then I promptly forgot about it. I didn't remember about the windows until today, when I was nursing Will before his nap, and it started pouring down rain. Well, there was nothing I could do about it. I got Will to sleep (it took forever for some reason), and then I tiptoed downstairs to look out the window and see if it was worth it to dash outside and roll up the car windows.

Much to my surprise, I saw that there was a black tarp draped over the car. I did not recognize the tarp, so I was a bit confused. I sent Rob a quick email, "Did you put a tarp on the car before you left for work today?" My message confused him. No, he replied, he had not put a tarp on the car.

Well, someone had put a tarp on our car.

With the tarp covering the car, there wasn't much of a point of me running out in the torrential downpour to roll up the windows. I didn't know what to do exactly, so I just waited it out. I did other stuff around the house, and after a while, the rain quit as suddenly as it had begun. I looked out the window again and saw that the tarp had been removed.

The only way to explain this is that one of our neighbors must have seen that the windows were cracked and put the tarp on the car when it started to rain, then taken it back off when the rain ended. Weird. I'm wondering if it might have been the construction workers who are working on a home across the street. The tarp looked like something they might have had, and we all wave at each other sometimes when I'm going in or out of the house to take Will for a walk.

At any rate, my thanks goes out to whoever put the tarp on our car. Although I feel like kind of a loser for leaving my windows down in the first place, it is nice to have such caring and thoughtful neighbors.

Only in Urbana.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Dear William (11 months)

Dear William,

Today you are 11 months old. Almost ready for your first birthday!

I really think that red is your favorite color. You go after anything that is red. You love your dad's lucky red hat, and whenever he wears it, you try to take it off of his head and chew on it. One of your favorite toys is a red monkey that plays music. You love strawberries. Well, at least you did for 2 days. After that, you wouldn't touch them.

I still think that you are left-handed. You always reach for things with your left hand. If you happen to pick up a piece of food with your right hand, you always transfer it to your left hand before you put it into your mouth. They say left handed people are more creative. I think supposedly a lot of the US presidents have been left handed.

You figured out how to clap this month. You love to clap when you are sitting on the floor. You get so amused with your own antics that you squeal with delight. I think you like the sound that clapping makes, because you also like to slap things. You slap the floor, your high chair tray, my arms, legs, neck, and face.

You crawl (kind of) backwards by laying flat on your stomach and pushing yourself back with your hands. You also rotate or go around in a circle, but you do not go forward. Just about a week ago (July 7) you pushed yourself up onto all fours for the first time. It kind of startled you. You have kept doing that, but I guess you don't like it because it always makes you cry. A couple of days ago you also started pushing yourself way up off the ground-- so just your toes and hands are touching the floor and your body is hovering some inches above it. It's kind of like you are doing push ups.

If he could crawl forward

You got a lot of teeth this month. In fact, you have been teething without any break since June 2. In addition to 2 bottom incisors you got back in April, you've now got all 4 upper incisors. I really thought that last one would be in by the 4th of July, but it took a couple more days. On the morning of July 7th, it had finally broken through. I hope, for all of our sakes, that we can have a break from teething for a while.


You were very fussy for most of the month. I blamed it on teething, but even though you don't have any teeth working on you at the moment, you are still very fussy. And with the crying. Oh the crying. You can stop with the crying anytime now, you know?

And the photo shoot is over

After we got home from San Francisco, you slept great for about 3 weeks straight-- 11 or 12 hours without a peep from you. But the last couple of nights, you've been getting me up again! Last night you got up 4 times. What's up with that?

You were really fussy about eating this month. For the last several weeks, it's been difficult to get you to eat anything at all. Just when I come up with something that you'll eat (such as strawberries), then 2 days later you refuse them. Your sudden pickiness has been very difficult for both of us. There is a lot of screaming, crying, and throwing things when I am trying to feed you. You seem to want to eat only pieces of fruit and bread. Oh how I miss the days when you slurped up pureed kale and broccoli. You need these things, William, so that you can grow up big and strong.

Ha ha!

Here is a list of the new things you have (grudgingly) tried this month: whole wheat pita, tahini (both of these actually last month, but I forgot to include them), watermelon, soy yogurt, animal crackers, sunflower seed butter (wow, I made this), pumpkin seed butter (aren't I creative?), organic whole wheat macaroni, mango, sweet potato fry, yellow pepper, teething biscuit, golden beet, beet greens, quinoa, broccoli risotto, wheat crackers.

You were in a parade this month (for the 4th of July), and you even slept through part of it.

Parade Ragfields

You got your own swimming pool.


You met 2 of your cousins.

Will meets his older cousins Caleb and Vivian

It's been a busy month! Hang on, William, because it won't be long until you are a whole year old. I'm already practicing, so that I can make you the best possible cake.

Practice cake



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Garage sale

The Ragfields have decided to have a garage sale. Actually, it was mainly me who decided we were having a garage sale. Rob looked kind of pale and wan when I informed him of this decision, because it would necessarily involve dealing with our clutter instead of continuing to trip over it or shove it into the storage room and pretend it doesn't exist.

I hate clutter. I hate, hate, hate it. The clutter in our house actually keeps me awake at night sometimes, but trying to do something about it has just seemed so overwhelming... where to begin? We got rid of a lot of stuff before we went to Nicaragua for a year, but we stopped short of actually having a garage sale because we were both way too stressed out to put in that kind of effort. We boxed up a lot of things we didn't need, stored them for a year, and then moved them into this house where they have remained untouched (in some cases) or strewn about the floor (in other cases).

Well, I've had it. Clutter be gone. I cannot live like this anymore. Over the past several weeks, I have aggressively gone about de-cluttering our bedroom and Will's bedroom. Each of our rooms had numerous Scary Boxes Full Of Junk We Don't Know What To Do With in it. But I finally got rid of it all-- either organized, thrown away, recycled, or put into bins that will go out for the garage sale. It was a fantastic feeling, to finally go to bed in a room that contained no boxes of junk that threatened to strangle me in my sleep. There are still some scary rooms in our house-- the storage room, the office, and the garage-- but if our bedrooms are relatively clutter-free, that is a huge relief.

At any rate, the main reason why I started writing this is because I need advice: what do you do about change? As in, how much change should I have on hand for the garage sale, and in what denomination (ie, quarters, dollar bills, fives, etc)? I've priced everything to be 25 cents, 50 cents, a dollar, and so on, so I don't have to deal with dimes and nickels too much. But I'm at a loss as to knowing how much change I should have. Any input from the experts would be appreciated!

We're planning the sale for this weekend (Friday and Saturday actually). If you're in the area, feel free to stop on by. Who knows, maybe we'll even have something for sale that you want.

Well, the baby is crying; I've got to go.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

4th of July

It was a busy day. Rob ran the Firecracker 5K this morning, and William and I walked over to watch. I was in a really bad mood because Will would not take a nap, but he was very tired and kept crying and pummeling me with his fists. I was also in a bad mood because I wasn't running the 5K myself. The thing is, I didn't actually want to run the 5K (I hate 5K's, and this one in particular because the course is usually short and makes you think you are better than what you really are), but I wanted to be able to run the 5K, you know? But that is a whole nother issue that is beyond the scope of this blog entry.

Are we having fun yet?

In the very brief amount of time between the 5K and the annual 4th of July parade, I managed to get William to eat some cauliflower and pieces of whole wheat pita. His eating is still hit and miss these days. I am trying all sorts of random things to try to come up with something he will eat. A few days ago it was prunes. Yesterday it was mango. Who knows what it will be tomorrow.

Then we all piled onto Big Red (our tandem bike) and road over to the parade staging area. We were going to be riding with the Champaign County Bikes, as we have done in years past. It was about 900 degrees out and 900% humidty, and we waited and waited for the parade to start and for our turn to go once the parade had actually started (we were #78). As we waited and waited, I realized it had been some time since William had nursed, and I started to worry that the parade itself would take so long that he would get hungry. So we popped him out of the Burley and I carried him to a tree to sit in the shade and nurse him (add "Parade Staging Area" to List of Strange Places Where I Have Nursed the Baby). As I was doing so, the sunny sky turned black and it began to pour. It was literally raining on our parade. Everybody was kind of stunned. Not knowing what else to do, I just sat there, under the tree, continuing to nurse the baby. We were all wondering what was going to happen. The parade was already underway (some 50 floats had already taken off)... would they stop it? I'm not sure how long the downpour lasted, but eventually it dwindled, and then just about the time that it was our turn to go, it stopped. About midway through the parade, it was bright and sunny again. Weird.

Before the parade

On the back of the tandem
On the back of the tandem bike, the view is always the same

Parade start

Parade Ragfields
Ragfields on the bike

The best part of the Champaign County Bikes, in my opinion, is the "Jazz Cycle" (I think that is what they call it). It is a side-by-side tandem recumbent, and the riders (one of whom is our neighbor) play instruments and sing while they ride. It is always a hit with the crowd. As we were all riding by, I heard one of the parade spectators clap for the Jazz Cycle and say, "Well now I've seen everything."

The Jazz Cycle. Note how the guy gets out a piccolo at the end.

A close second to the Jazz Cycle is the lady who has attached a blender to her Xtra Cycle and makes smoothies as she rides.

I love living in Champaign-Urbana.

Before we had left for the parade, we had set up the kiddie pool I recently bought for William. By the time we returned, the water was nice and warm, so Will had a little swim.


Then we went to a neighborhood cook-out, where William was, as usual, the star of the show.

We skipped fireworks this year, since William goes to bed around 7:30pm (and we were all kind of tired). We can always do fireworks next year.

Thanks for reading.