OK. First, I have to get this out of the way: someone found this blog by Googling “dumbest dissertations ever.” Is that necessary, Google? Did you really need to send that person here? That just hurts a girl’s feelings.


Second: I am hereby publicly declaring that by the time I pick Evan up from daycare tomorrow, Friday May 9th, I will have completed-if-very-very-rough drafts of both my current dissertation chapter and my encyclopedia article.

What? I didn’t tell you I’m writing an encyclopedia article? Yeah, that’s because I’ve been alternately laughing like a drunk hyena at the fact that they asked me to write it and pretending it’s not due by June 2nd. Really, though: what business do I have writing an encyclopedia article? I still feel like I need to read encyclopedia articles.

Third, there’s this: I had to make my public declaration in point two above because otherwise I might just keep staring at this.

Letter9 Screenshot

You may or may not remember when I started thinking about designs… Well, I’ve been slowly playing with different ideas over at my new URL (dontcha just love that all the good domain names are used up so they keep releasing new extensions: .us, .com.us, .mobi… it cracks me up). I meant to work on the chapter and article last night, but Brian was out of town (again!) and I decided to play a little over dinner and, well, four hours later I emerged from the basement office to make formula and go directly to bed. No passing go, No $200.

I’d love it if you’d take a look and give me your honest feedback (on THIS post, if possible). Whaddaya like? Whaddaya not like? What works? What doesn’t?  It’s set up with old posts from the current blog.

I myself just love the front page (shown above). The picture’s one Brian took this weekend while we were playing with Evan at the park and it totally inspired the whole design. But I also love it that I’ll be able to change that image periodically without changing the whole thing.

Oh yeah. One more thing: WHAT IS WITH THE STUPID QUILT-LOOKING AVATARS NEXT TO OUR COMMENTS? WordPress seems to have changed those WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE OR CONSENT and I really REALLY hate them and I am NOT HAPPY. Grr…


March 11th: the day I joked that sewing this quilt would bring spring. I didn’t tell you that I wouldn’t finish it for nearly two months (oh my god, really?! has it been that long?!) and that of course spring would be here by then.

It’s kind of ironic that I finished the quilt this morning and had to rush Evan outside for our little photo shoot because a storm was on its way. So much for bringing us nice, sunny weather. The poor quilt was blowing every which way but, well, the way I wanted it to, and Evan wasn’t helping much by crawling off of it to see doggies and rocks and whatever other exciting! things! were outside in the yard.

This is what I consider the front. It’s the part of the quilt that I actually planned and the side I think turned out best.

It’s about a quarter light blue, then that colorful strip, then the rest is navy.

The back is the more “exciting side” and also the most labor-intensive side. It came about because I wanted to sew a wider strip for the back but I wasn’t sure how I wanted the back to look, exactly, so I just kept sewing strips because I loved them so much and eventually I just decided to make a very colorful, very strippy back.

Each of the colored rectangles measures 4″ by 2″. The whole quilt measures about 56″ square.

I was surprised that Evan liked it, but he seemed to. I think he liked it best when it was blowing over on him or when we made a small fort with it.

I wish the pics of the actual quilt were a bit better, but I know there’ll be more as the spring turns into summer and we spend longer and longer days outdoors.

Here’s to optimism and to my very! first! quilt! ever!

But then again, maybe I don’t…

So, my nieces, who are two, have been bred on family pictures. One of their favorite pasttimes when they’re at grammy’s house is looking at the pictures on the fridge and naming all the people. They’ve got the same set-up at home and play “pictures” often. Since they live in D.C., away from family (just like us here in Columbus), this is a great way for the girls to learn to recognize their aunts and uncles and cousins.

When they see a picture of Evan, they say, “Ef-in.” It’s so flippin’ cute.

Well, the girls apparently have a book. I think it’s like a visual dictionary or something, and it has real photographs. One of the entries is for “people.” The picture for that entry is of a naked man and a naked woman (I have no idea what book my sister-in-law is giving her babes, but I trust that it’s probably harmless even though it does sound a bit like a 1970 edition of The Joy of Sex).

But here’s the good part. Apparently, the naked woman has hair like mine, so when the girls see that naked woman, they say, “Aunt Julie!”

What’ll they expect when they see me in person?!

In yoga, after we do backbends, we do happy baby pose — a pose in which we lie on our backs and grab our toes and bend our knees. (The pose is also called dead bug pose, a name that is as apt, if not as pleasant, as happy baby.) We do this to counter the intensity and the backward curving of the backbends. For each move there is a counter move; for each muscle constriction, a stretch.

I know that I’m trying to juggle a lot, here, with a kid and a dissertation and a marriage and all, but sometimes I need a counter pose. Something quick and satisfying. Something that has a start and a finish and a short, straight line between them. Something someone else will appreciate and, maybe, compliment.

I know you’ll think I’m crazy when I tell you I just completed another sewing swap. The task this time was to make a Pleated Beauty Handbag (from Bend the Rules Sewing, who’da guessed?) but since I’ve made this bag twice (once for my mom, once for me), I wanted to do something a bit different. So this one’s a purse instead of a tote bag, and I like it a lot.

My partner said she liked purples, so I gave myself the challenge of using purple in a way that I would still like. Have the bag be part her, part me. Here’s the end result:

Pleated Beauty

It’s a nice little bag and a fairly easy pattern to follow, but I think this is probably my last one. On to other bags, I say.

Now, lest you think I’ve forsaken my spring quilt for this beauty of a bag, fear not: I’m about 10 feet of hand-sewing away from being 100%, no doubt about it, all the way DONE with the spring quilt.  I’ve been working on it while Brian and I watch the second half of the third season of Entourage.  I predict that pictures will be forthcoming by Thursday.

Word Inventory


gratuitous photo of my baby

Words & Phrases Evan Understands

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • No (as in, “Evan, NO!” — this is not always obeyed but it is always acknowledged)
  • Book
  • “Turn the page”
  • Wave (as in, “Can You Wave?”)
  • Bottle
  • Hungry
  • “Not Food” (as in, please, child, stop trying to put that mulch in your mouth)
  • “Goodnight Moon” (he blew our minds yesterday when I said the title of the book and he went and found it and brought it back to us)
  • Daddy (as in, “Where’s Daddy?”)

Words & Phrases Evan Doesn’t Understand

  • Mommy

Words & Phrases Evan’s Heard That We Hope He Hasn’t Understood

  • Many, many, many. Too many to list. And too ashamed to admit them. Think Sopranos. Think Deadwood. Better, even: think fifth graders on the school bus.

I’ve always been pale and sort of see-through, meaning I’ve had plenty of time to get used to perpetual under-eye circles. But these days, they’re practically black. It’s kind of impressive, actually.

I’m currently on Full-On Raccoon Alert. It sort of makes me want to stay up until the wee hours so I can catch a Sheer Cover or Bare Minerals infomercial. That stuff is like white out, man. But then I’d have to kiss the freckles goodbye. It’s a tough trade.

Maybe instead I could focus on getting more sleep, hmm?

Calling all of my Blockbuster Online and/or Netflix-affiliated readers. I need your help.

I need to know: How long do you keep a movie before you just send it back unwatched? How long must it sit on top of your television, still in its original envelope, before you say, “Oh, jeez, I am just soooo not going to watch this” and then open the arriving envelope just to transfer the DVD to the departing one?

Is two and a half months long enough?

Dear KidCo, Maker of Baby Gates,

I just wanted to say: I’ve been through lots of gate drama in my (recent) lifetime. There was the Evenflo that was too narrow without the extension and too wide with it. There was the Summer that flew open when my kid’s butt hit it and oh-my-god-how-did-he-not-go-flying-down-the-stairs!! Breaking up with the Summer meant we had to find a new, please-be-temporary solution:

It works but it’s kind of, um, big.

Then we tried three more gates. Too tall, too flimsy, too little clearance between the gate and the pressure-mount-thingies, too whatever.

See, KidCo, you get us. You get our situation. You get it that not every opening is some perfect runway opening, all straight and leggy. You know that real openings have curves. And banisters. And railings. And moldings. And some other engineering difficulties I can’t quite explain. But you know. You don’t need me to explain. You make a gate for that.

And I love you for it.

God knows it costs enough.

Kindest Regards, My Gate Hero,


Sunday it was “oh, dear, I need a break but I have a million things to do so I better keep on truckin’.”

Monday it was a case of the grumpy grumps.

Today it was all out overwhelm-ed-ness. (I added the hyphens because I want you to read the “ed” part like you would in the word beloved. It seems more overwhelmy that way, with the “ed,” doesn’t it?)

This is what happens when I work on my dissertation.

Did I tell you that I got that “fifteen minutes a day” book I mentioned last week or the week before or jeez people do you really expect me to go find a link to that post because it’s probably still in my “most recent posts” list over on the right over there and even if it’s not you can just go search “writing your dissertation in fifteen minutes a day” in my search bar and you’ll find it and I think you need to learn to do things for yourself and not expect me to spoonfeed you links.


I’m sorry Internet. Apparently I’m not just overwhelm-ed; I’m also Meany McHeadBiterOffer.

But so I got that book from the library and I’ve been reading it in manageable two-page snippets before bed and I really hate to ruin it for you but you can probably already guess: the point of the book is that you cannot write your dissertation in fifteen minutes a day. If I hadn’t gotten it at the library I think I’d be asking for my money back because holy false advertising batman!

So yeah, the point of the book is that you cannot write your dissertation in fifteen minutes a day but that you also cannot really write your dissertation without investing that first fifteen minutes a day which will, inevitably, get you rolling into fifteen hours a day.

For me, though, this is the problem. I promised myself I’d work fifteen minutes each day, and I followed through on the promise and kept it up for at least ten days, but I quickly discovered that fifteen minutes gets me about as far as no damn where and so I would work work work and the next thing I knew I’d have spent two hours after dinner working on my dissertation, or four hours on a Sunday, and still barely scratching the surface. Sounds great, sounds perfect. It’s a two-pound-a-week diet that actually makes you lose two pounds a week while eating pizza and chocolate and oh, how great except OH MY GOD I CANNOT HANDLE THIS.

Sunday morning I woke at five and cried. I mourned the loss of time with Brian. I mourned the loss of time for me. I mourned the loss of hobbies. I cried because if I want to stay devoted to this dissertation I can’t train for a race this summer or join the Monday night summer Ultimate Frisbee league or do anything except relish the days with Evan and then work like a dog at night. It’s not so bad but it’s just so bad.

I cried because my house is messy and I just felt like we’d finally gotten on top of it. I cried because I’m good at working on my dissertation but working on it isn’t good for me. I cried because I’ve been a graduate student in various programs for eight years and I need to not be one for awhile. I cried because I want to get this thing over with so I work really hard but then it backfires and sends me into three days of wickedness and then two months of ignoring the fact that the dissertation even exists.

I am frustrated because I cannot find a middle ground. I can’t find a way to make just a little bit of progress and go slowly.

I am totally suing that lady for her dumb book and her dumb title and her dumb rightness about how long it takes to write a dissertation and how you really need to be preoccupied by it at all times to the point that you write notes on the table while feeding your baby some carrots and string cheese.


OK. Rant over. For now.

The sun did not shine,
it was too wet to play,
grumpies stomped through her brain
all that grump, grumpy day.

Too grumpy inside,
and grumpy out, too,
too grumpy to write
which is too bad for you.

(with apologies to the late, great Dr. Seuss)