School’s Out!

Yesterday, around 6pm, I finished my last project for one of my classes, meaning that I am now officially done for this semester.

Cholesterol It’s been one helluva semester – first time I’ve done a full-time schedule (12 credit hours) in a few years. Compound that with a baby, and the fact that three of the courses were 300-level courses, and you’ve got a formula for disaster!

This semester I had four classes:

  • Organic Chemistry I (Chem 341, Lecture only)
  • Distributed Computing (Info 320)
  • Information Technology for Management (IIM 300)
  • Linear Data Structures (CompSci 243)

By far, Organic Chem was the hardest of all of them, and I successfully pulled off a B+ in that class. While I wouldn’t have minded an A-grade, I am completely happy with a high B. Distributed Computing & Linear Data structures were both somewhat difficult — in the former I had to learn the Python scripting language on the fly (I had never used it before), which was very frustrating. In the latter, I learned Java, a really awesome object-oriented programming language. The hardest part about that class though was learning the running times for all the algorithms. O(n^2) and O(n log n) and O(2^n), it was a lot of memorization that I only half-did.

The IT for management class was basically a discussion only course. Every class, people would present topics and we all would discuss them. It was pretty interesting — it definitely made the book more entertaining.

In other development, I am now double-majoring: My Bachelor’s degree will be a General Studies degree (or as my wifey calls it, a “degree in nothing”), and I will also be getting an A.S. in Chemistry. I’m considering a minor in Biology as well. I would major in it, but I would be stuck in classes for at least another 2 or 3 years minimum waiting for the classes I need to cycle in.

I saw the degree requirements for the Biotechnology program and became very envious. Genetics? Cell biology? Sign me up! It’s unfortunate it would take me too long to complete it. I suppose I can look into that for my graduate program?

Next semester’s classload, also full-time, is:

  • Organic Chemistry II (Lecture & Lab)
  • Intro to Biology (a pre-req for pretty much every other bio course)
  • Chemistry Topics: Protein Synthesis

Protein Synthesis should be neat – it’s my Chemistry professor that teaches it, and he’s a neat guy. He said we’ll all pick a protein and learn how to artificially create it from other base chemicals and whatnot. It’s strictly lab and should be a light workload compared to the other courses. (fingers crossed)

But for now, I’m going to enjoy a well-deserved break from school.

Whirlwind of a Week

The diet is still going well. I say this first because it’s still really challenging. Last night my wife decided she wanted to melt Barking Chocolate (like for covering pretzels or buckeyes) on some Vanilla Bean ice cream. I had a bite, just because I was curious, but no more. Today I was offered chocolate by my Organic Chemistry Prof during our Final Exam, and I successfully declined. Ditto for the chocolate donuts in the break room yesterday (ate NONE), and the various donuts and goodies they had at Exam Jam on Tuesday. Go me.

I haven’t been able to walk in the morning lately; Partly because it’s FREAKING COLD OUTSIDE and the snow and ice make jogging somewhat treacherous, but also because I’ve been up late studying and catching up with things.

Today was my Organic Chemistry Final Exam, where I was asked questions like:

“A newly isolated natural product was found to have the molecular formula C15H28O2. By hydrogenating a sample of the compound, it was determined to possess one pi bond. How many rings are present in the compound?”

(the answer is 1, I think, due to degree of desaturation). I think I did ok. With the bonus points I’ll be getting in the course (around 20) and my grade as of the last exam (88.5%), as long as I get at least a B on the Final I should have a high-B / low-A over all. Fingers crossed!

Last weekend, Melissa, Sullivan and I all flew out to NJ for my Grammy Westerdale’s Funeral services. My Grandpa Westerdale died earlier this year (March) and shortly after that, Grammy found out she had cancer already in metastasis. It only took about 8 months to do her in, and she passed on Thanksgiving of this year. The funeral services were very good – we interred her’s and grandpa’s ashes into the memorial garden of their church (St. Paul’s Episcopalian) and I got to say my final goodbyes then. There was no viewing like with Grandpa (her request), but this was just as good, I suppose. None of us were very surprised by it.

We all drove out to see her earlier this month, because my mom said it was “going to be any day now”, and I wanted Sullivan to see her one more time before she went.  It was a good visit.

I think in some ways, I still haven’t had a chance to fully deal with this all. Sure, I cried at the funeral, like the rest of my family; And yeah, it wasn’t really a surprise to anyone. But I think the back corners of my mind haven’t quite come to terms with her being gone.

The best part of the trip (for me, but probably not for Melissa) was the family gathering after the Funeral. All of the branches of our family, the Westerdales, the Watkins, and the Magnussons (along with some neighbors and friends of my uncles) all came over and everyone drank Whiskey Sours (the official drink of the Westerdale Family), Gin, Wine, and Beer. It was a grand old time. Sullivan got to hang out with my siblings and other family members. He’s getting more comfortable with them.  We’re going back in a couple weeks for Xmas. Non-stop this time. (Missed our connecting flight on the return this time..had to spend the night in Cleveland! Ick!)

For those of you who are wondering, yes the blog theme is different. My wife decided that she couldn’t be married to someone with an ugly blog theme, so she logged in and changed it. I think it looks nice. :)

that’s it for now, I have more finals to study for!

What I DIDN’T Eat today, part 2

  • Succulent lemon bars, lightly powdered with confectioner’s sugar
  • Rich Magic Cookie Bars, a mixture of that delicious trio of butter, sugar, and egg combined with chocolate chunks and other goodies.
  • Bronze-colored Donut holes, rolled in granulated sugar
  • Pert little brownie bits, a rich dark brown chocolate fudge color
  • Strawberries (only because they were on the same dessert tray as the rest of the things above, and I thought that if I reached for a Strawberry I’d accidentally grab a Lemon Bar)

Day 2 of the diet. I registered for my classes today, including a Weight Training and Conditioning course in the spring time. I was up late studying last night so I didn’t wake up early enough to take Bowie for a jog. My diet has been a lot more balanced. I eat just enough food that I’m not hungry until the next time I eat food. If I get some  hunger pangs in the meantime, I just drink water, and that seems to help.

I DID eat today:

Breakfast: 2 egg-whites fried in 1oz of Olive oil, 1-1/2 cups Kashi cereal with 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup cranberry juice.

Mid-morning snack: A large orange and some celery with natural peanut butter.

Lunch: Left over Tofu / vegetable stirfry and couscous.

Dinner: 5 Turkey meatballs in tomato sauce, a baked potato with cheddar cheese, and some romaine  lettuce with a glass of water.

In retrospect, I realized that the tomato sauce were enough starchy carbs that I didn’t need the baked potato. I should have just made it sans-potato. Maybe added some more romaine lettuce or something, for extra fiber.

What I didn’t Eat Today

  1. Delicious, moist, leftover Anniversary cake*
  2. Some deliciously round and powdery donut holes in the break room
  3. Hot, rich, Pizza or Garlicky Seasoned Breadsticks
  4. Decadent and chewy looking Chocolate Chip Cookies during a meeting with the Library administrators
  5. Delicious, moist, leftover Anniversary cake*
  6. Cookies, candy, or ice cream while food shopping for healthier food

Yes, I am indeed determined to be healthier. There seems to be constant temptation to eat shitty foods, and I notice it all the more now that I am abstaining from such yummeries. I literally deliberated for 10 minutes this afternoon about eating ONE of those cookies, but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth it.

I’ve been taking Bowie for a walk / jog almost every morning. Last week was kind of an exception because I was sick (and then Melissa/Sullivan were sick and I was on vacation) but the past two mornings I’ve done it. Up at 7′ish a.m., find clothes, put shoes on, grab leash, and go. It’s about a mile around our usual route; Up the hill, around the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Back down past the high-school-formerly-known-as-Hibberd. It’s getting a little easier. I just started with situps / pushups last night too.

Once I get going with this and get to the point where I can jog at least halfway through my route, I’m going to start doing weight training again. I’m determined to get back in shape and return the spare tire to the trunk of my VW.

* “Anniversary cake” is actually the topper from our Wedding cake a year ago. It’s been in the Freezer for a full year. Believe it or not, it was still totally moist and delicious, in spite of its age. Just like me!

Bedtime and rule-making

Surlivan being sad :(Lately, Sullivan has been a little more difficult when it comes time to go to bed. When he was first born, all it took was a boob and a pacifier. At a couple months, he rejected the pacifier and just wanted a boob. A couple months after that he needed to be rocked to sleep. Last night, and the night before, rocking wasn’t working, and Melissa and I both realized we needed to change strategies.

We decided that it was time for us to start making the rules. The crib is sidecar’d to the bed, since we’re doing the Dr. Sears Attachment Parenting co-sleeping bit, but up to this point, the crib has been empty pretty much every night, with Sullivan sleeping in between us. The routine thus far has been that when he wakes up, Melissa tries putting him to sleep with her womanly ways, and if that doesn’t work or she’s sore, then I’ll stand up and try to rock him to sleep. Lately though, he just wants to be awake and crawl all over us at 11pm.

Last night, after trying the usual thing unsuccessfully, I laid him in his crib on his stomach (he sleeps better that way) and covered him with a blanket. He was bawling pretty loudly. I sat next to him and rubbed his back with an open palm. When he would try to rear up on all fours, I gently straightened his legs back out so he was laying down again. When he kicked off the blanket, I’d put it back on him. Eventually, after about 15 or 20 minutes of this, he fell asleep. What was even more remarkable is that when he woke up in the middle of the night to eat, we laid him back down in the crib and he stayed asleep! (That’s not typical from our previous methods)

I think the motivation for this came from Eric Cartman. If you’ve ever watched South Park, especially recently, you know about how Cartman manipulates his Mom to do what he wants. Not that I think Sullivan is an evil little shit or anything (he’s just an excited little boy), but I think that up until now we haven’t really shown him any boundaries. That seems like a recipe for a spoiled kid, and I figured it would be easier to start establishing boundaries now while he’s still an infant rather than when he’s a teenager and hoothollerin’ and lollygagging around.

Fatherhood, part deux

Sullivan and MelissaSullivan

Sullivan has begun to crawl. Everywhere. He pulls himself up onto things as well. His new favorite hobby is finding new ways to bang his head into solid objects. Everytime he loses balance, gets that frightened look in his eyes, and then *THUD* right into the floor, coffee table, couch, table, chair, television, crib frame, kitchen cabinetry, computer, subwoofer, or some new object I have yet to see.

It’s hard to not feel like a bad parent when you see your son’s head collide with a stationary object but every parent I’ve talked to (including my own) have said that it’s totally normal. In some ways, it’s kind of funny — America’s Funniest Videos kind of schadenfreude kind of funny. But I still feel bad for him.

In addition to being more mobile, he’s a lot more lively. He cackles, shrieks, yelps, makes merry, cries, whines, bitches, moans, etc. He watches my mouth move when I talk. His eyes have a lot more character in them and his facial expressions are much more varied. He still doesn’t mimic quite yet, but I think that’ll be soon. (And then we get to teach him baby sign language!)

APPLE CIDERZHe can almost completely stand on his own, a prospect that frightens Melissa and I with a portent to the near future when he’ll be walking; elevating his head into a whole new echelon of objects to run into. I swear this kid is going to be a frenologists wet dream.

The House

The house is currently in a quasi-state of disarray. The bathroom, still unfinished, is lacking both a sink, a toilet seal (so it smells gross), and paint. The drywall is nearly done. All I have left to do is sand off one little area by the entrance, and it’ll be ready for painting. We picked up some primer to get it started, but haven’t really picked out a color yet.

The living room has one wall with primed-trim. The wall with the entrance door and large window have their trim painted (the door too). We finally decided that painting the trim would be a good idea, and I have to admit, it really does improve the appearance of the room. When we get carpet laid down, possibly next year, I think that’ll help it even more. It seems a shame to cover up the wood, but the hardwood floor lost it’s novelty after my eighth foot-splinter.

So painting, painting, painting. Anyone want to help? I also need someone skilled with doing ceramic tiling, because I think that’s what we want to do in the bathroom.

My Grammy

Grampa, Me, GrammyEarlier this year, in February I believe, my Grandpa Westerdale died at 82 years. He had some chest problems and knee difficulties, but pneumonia did him in. My Grammy Westerdale is currently in the hospital with cancer, and Mom says that it’s not gotten any better in spite of Chemo and Radiation therapy. I guess at this point, she’s done with treatment and just wants to go into pain management. Mom thinks it’s quite possible she won’t make it to Xmas.
This Thursday, Melissa, Sullivan and I will be driving out to NJ to see her and visit family. Saturday will be when we actually get to Jersey, because we’ll be staying at my Mom’s in PA. It’s supposed to be a bit of a surprise. My car is currently in the shop getting some much-needed repair work done to it, so it’ll be drive-viable for the trip.

I don’t think I’ve really had time to stop and let this whole situation sink in, but I’ll have a 10 hour trip each way to do it. I think the most significant thing about this is that this trip will be the last time any of we three ever see Grammy alive. Being able to say that with certainty is profound.

I know that I, and probably most people, have read stories and anecdotes about death / near-death putting life in perspective. But just like parenthood, you don’t comprehend how true it is until you’re actually in the situation yourself.