Monday, July 26, 2010


We had our 20 week ultrasound this week, and it was amazing!  This actually wasn't my first ultrasound (we had one to confirm the pregnancy and then another a few days later to determine gestational age both resulting in photos of tiny blobs that didn't really resemble anything but ...well tiny blobs), but it was the first ultrasound where you can see that a little baby is definitely taking shape (with the cutest lips and nose!).  Here I post a few photos from the different ulstrasounds:
1st UltraSound from April
(determined to be about 6 weeks along)

3rd UltraSound from July
(about 20 weeks along)
I'll have to go back for another ultrasound at my next appointment, because the technician wasn't able to determine something specific about the heart - nothing to worry about yet...Baby B was just too wiggly to get a good look at that.  Even though I'm sure my insurance won't cover the next ultrasound, I'm happy to have another look at the babe in a few weeks!  It was so fun to see it moving around.  That reminds me, I've also been starting to feel movement!  I first noticed it last Saturday when I was driving.  I felt this little jab below my belly button - and that's pretty much where I've been feeling it since.  During the ultrasound, we could see baby's feet, arms and legs moving around, and every now and then I'd feel one of the movements while actually seeing it - so cool!

At this time, we could find out the gender (i.e., an educated guess of the gender), but we decided not to.  I was content not finding out the gender until the birth, that is until my husband reminded me that I don't like surprises...and ever since he said that, I've wanted to know(!!).  Of course, he's teasing me - but I am the type of person that likes to skip to the back of a book just to see what happens (I'll still read everything in between!).  However, I've been pretty good about not skipping ahead with the last few books I've, I should be OK not knowing Baby B's gender. Apparently it is written down in our chart, though - if I could just get my hands on that...!

Up until the last ultrasound, my guess is that we're having a girl.  We already have a boys name picked out, and I have many MANY girls names picked out that I keep running by Brandon.  So far, he likes only one of them - haha just one!  But, it's my favorite of the bunch so that's good :)

At Mrs. C's (teehee!) suggestion, I've also obtained and started writing in "The Belly Book" to chronicle how the pregnancy is going.  I've only gotten to spend a few hours actually writing in it, but I can tell that I'm really going to have a blast writing and putting photos in it throughout the rest of the pregnancy.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Still Angry

I ended last week fairly angry and disappointed - disappointed in myself but mostly angry at my previous research advisor (my MS advisor).  I was randomly glancing through literature related to my MS thesis and came across a recent paper that she had co-written with a new student of hers.  What mostly caught my eye was the title of the paper - with the exception of one word change (albeit an important one) it was word for word the same title as my MS thesis.  Not that it was such a great title (I'm not that vain), but it was certainly a unique one and very much completely taken from my thesis.  Upon further inspection of the paper, I became annoyed to discover that this paper was pretty much my thesis transformed into a journal article with the only change being the samples studied.  Again, not something to really get someone angry - after all, most research people do is based on others previous work (you gotta start somewhere, right?).  The reason I'm so angry with her is the fact that she did not even cite my thesis or my previous ACS preprint publication (nor did she acknowledge me in any way).  I understand that a thesis and preprint publication don't hold as much weight as a full fledged journal article, but they are in fact published works and they deserve to be cited.  ...Especially since the entire work of this student was based on my previous work - all of the small details, procedures, obscure references, and even the particular labeling of the figures(!) included within the paper are verbatim (literally) from my thesis - again, they are using different data but it's obvious that the ideas for the figures and the procedures are from my thesis (and NOT the paper she cites in the journal article).  Perhaps, I'm overreacting to the situation - I am fairly sensitive about certain situations that others would just shrug off - but I'm still feeling angry toward her so I'm rolling with that and hoping writing about it will help me not be so angry.

As I listen to my "angry playlist" (songs compiled for the occasions when I'd like to kick the wall and/or shout obscenities while shaking my fist at some unknown being in the sky), I'm feeling bitter and starting to feel some sarcasm creeping up within me.  I did email her about the situation, but I did not disclose my anger yet.  I will tell her what she did was wrong, even if it was just a small instance of wrongness, for I know if the situation was reversed she would react much stronger and much harsher - and she wouldn't think twice about it.  I'm disappointed that I never published a legitimate journal article for my MS thesis, so I'll have to sit with that, but I'm most disappointed that she's getting ahead based on my work and I'm not getting the credit.

I'm still not sure where I'll end up after I graduate - whether I do a postdoc or go into industry, eventually I would like to teach at a college and be someone's research advisor.  With that, I guarantee that I will not abandon my students nor will I copy their work without acknowledging or citing them.  When you're depending on students or employees (somewhat) to get the work done to advance your career, you can't ignore the students/employees that helped you get there.  I'm not saying my MS work was award winning, but it was special and unique to me (and only me).  I based my MS work on various literature sources that I compiled and digested, which helped me (without much help from said research advisor) design a plan and procedure for my MS thesis.  Of course, I dropped the ball on getting a journal article published and that's no one's fault but my own.  However, I designed the experiments featured in this journal article, and neither she or her student deserves the credit of their name and school on that publication.

Monday, June 28, 2010

3 months later...

It's been 3 months (to the day) since my last post and, as usual when that much time has passed, there are a few updates to report if I haven't told you already.  

First, and most fun, I am pregnant!  I was first tuned into the possibility that I might be pregnant after a dentist visit on Tuesday, March 30.  It was the first time I was seeing someone at this practice, so I had to fill out the usual routine questionnaires that addressed any concerns or expectations I had about my dental health. I mentioned on my questionnaire that I was having a metal taste in my mouth.  When the dental assistant asked me more about this and offered her suggestions about what it meant, I joked with her (not seriously at all) about it possibly being some weird way to indicate I was pregnant (thinking it was an old wives' tale kinda thing that wasn't really true).  She then explained that the metal taste could certainly indicate that I might be pregnant.  We discussed some more (as I was secretly freaking out inside my mind), and she told me that with all three of her children she had a broccoli taste in her mouth (it was such a strong taste that even her hubby would notice...and still proceeds to freak out every time she comes home smelling like broccoli).  We decided to hold off on X-rays for the day until I knew for sure, which was fine because I had to return in a few days to get fitted for a mouth guard and have a cavity re-filled.  I was very grateful that the dental assistant was so sensitive and alerted by that questionnaire - they do read them!! (side note: I was not, however, happy with the wack and insensitive dentist that re-filled my old cavity b/c he did a very poor job "fixing" my filling (among other poor things)...such a poor (and very painful) job that he almost caused me to need a root canal!  thankfully, a different (and most fantastic dentist!) fixed the wacko's work and I do not need the root canal.)  After this initial dentist visit, of course I went to the store and got a home pregnancy test.  I got the one that would show two + + if you were pregnant - easy to read, right?  I now understand that commercial that says "one in four women will misread a home pregnancy test", because I could not tell from that first test if it was positive or negative...the + was too light in color to really decipher whether it was + or – (most frustrating!).  So I took another - and again, too light to tell!  I decided to wait until the morning to test again, but again it was so light that I could have been willing it to read +.  So...I told myself that I would wait until Friday to test again.  Needless to say, it was all I could think about the rest of the week.  When I finally was ready to take it again, I had to buy more tests because I had used all the ones in the first box.  So going on 4 tests now, I tested one more time - although, it was still light in color, I was sure it read + +.  Still, I had to check again in the afternoon (test #5!) know, just to be sure...and it was still + +.  I hadn't told Brandon at all about what was secretly going on in my wild brain since my dentist visit - I just wanted to be extra sure before I told him, I guess.  So, I finally told him that Friday afternoon by showing him one (just one!) of the tests and telling him that it meant "we're pregnant!", and he looked very surprised and said "wow!"  :)  We were certainly surprised by this, but very happy.  Currently, I'm about 16.5 weeks along and the baby is the size of a turnip.  We have had a handful of OB visits during which the last one we could hear the baby's heartbeat and hear it moving around inside.  It's all very surreal but we're so excited!  I have not had cravings just yet, but I do have a thing for potatoes of any sort (mostly mashed and especially fries).  I am happy as long as I have a potato at some point during the week. some 10 minute interval every night from 2-3am without fail, I am awake and chowing down on something.  Usually my late-night snack consists of oatmeal or handfuls of craisins.  I'm not sure if waking up hungry means I'm not eating enough throughout the day, but I'm trying to eat more each day. I have noticed that my appetite has actually increased a lot in the last week, but I'm still finding it difficult to eat enough throughout the day.  And, sometimes I have to stop myself from eating too much at one time (which I did not do last week when I consumed an entire pizza in one was thin-crust, though!).  I have also started eating carrots, which I once thought I abhorred.  Now, I eat them every day and they are delicious!

Second, I have two(!) students doing work for me this summer.  They are doing experiments in the lab, so I don't have to be there.  I spent my first few weeks with them, just showing them what I do and then I would shadow them.  They are certainly clumsy at times, but they are learning and I can tell that they are improving.  I'm still working on trying to get them  in the lab on a consistent schedule, but so far I think they are working out very well.  They are accomplishing double the work that I could have done each week, and I'm not even sure how I could have done half of it.  Even though it was very difficult to relinquish control of some of my experiments, I realized that it would be so helpful to me in regards to what I could accomplish this summer along with just having the experience in managing others.  Other people have told me "I would never trust my experiments to someone else", and I used to think that way, too.  But, eventually, I guess I approached this thinking that if I want to work in research or work at all really...I will have to trust that people can get the job done.  I cannot do everything myself, even though I would LOVE to have my hand in everything.  It's just not possible!  I believe that I took the time to teach them how to be courteous and safe in the lab, and I do check on them from time to time.  I still have to correct some of the things they do in the lab (e.g., keep your safety glasses on!!!), but they seem to be thriving well on their own in the lab.  

Third, I'm having a baby!  Did I say that already?  :)  

I'm going to end this post now as it's fairly lengthy already.  I have some other updates, but I'll fill you in on them soon enough I'm sure.  have a super week!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Recent Travels: GSA in Baltimore and ACS in San Francisco

Just quick post to say that I had successful visits to both Baltimore, MD, and San Francisco, CA, for two different conferences:  the Geological Society of America Northeastern/Southeastern Joint Sectional Meeting (GSA) and the American Chemical Society (ACS), respectively.

At the GSA meeting in Baltimore, MD, I presented a poster on a 6-day coal unit and a presentation on an activity for the rock cycle that were both developed for my NSF funded TESSE Fellowship (with the help of other TESSE Fellows) for use in K-12th grade classrooms.  The poster session I attended was fantastic!  I have never blabbed like that to so many people during a 2-hour poster session...actually, I don't think many people ever stop to look at my poster, so this was a great surprise.  I spoke with the young crowd (aka the undergrad students) and several grad students and professors.  With each group of people, I found myself not feeling so stressed when talking to them (I can usually only manage "yes" or "no" around people...but I have to say that I'm actually getting more comfortable in face-to-face talking).  They all really seemed to enjoy the Coal poster (who wouldn't love it?  it's about coal!).  They were all so easy to talk to, and they were even willing to share their own lessons and experiences in teaching, which are always fun to hear about.  I'm pretty sure that I also encouraged everyone that I talked with to publish their lessons in a geology or education journal.  A lot of them seemed so surprised that their lessons would be publication worthy, but their lessons were so impressive that everyone should know about them (and I told them that).  They seemed inspired (maybe I'm being silly)...I hope they do publish, though!  My presentation on a "Choose Your Own Adventure" activity for the Rock Cycle was also a success.  In fact, the entire session on Innovations in Teaching Earth System Science for the K-12 Classroom was a success.  Several of the teachers involved with TESSE also came to speak, and they did a fantastic job!  They were all so nervous to speak (I was surprised by this...they're teachers after all!), but they had great presentations and they got some great feedback.  If you like, you can see some of their papers (and my recent co-authored papers!) in the Winter Issue of The Earth Scientist.  You can also check out these and other activities from our TESSE dissemination blog.

My visit to San Francisco, CA, was wonderful, too!  I was traveling there to serve as one of two graduate students on the Executive Board Council of the Fuel Chemistry Division.  We were selected to come to the Spring and Fall 2010 National Meetings with the specific task of brainstorming (and implementing) different activities or ways to include more students (particularly women and underrepresented).  We got to sit in on several meetings and eat at some fabulous restaurants (it's usually about the food, right?).  Every morning I grabbed coffee (perfectly strong) and breakfast (you could choose from a variety of croissants, wraps, and other delicious baked goods made fresh daily by the students at San Francisco's own Baking Institute) from the Organic Coffee Company.  I also had the pleasure of witnessing a sensation in frozen yogurt that is called IceBee.  Just imagine filling a nicely sized tub of any variety of frozen yogurt your heart desires including all the toppings you want (all for $0.43/oz)...AMAZING!  However, I've been told by a very reliable source with ties to Oklahoma that Passion Berri beats IceBee any day...I will certainly book a flight to Oklahoma just to find out.  I enjoyed a tasty steak from Lark Creek Steak along with some seriously killer desserts:  mini red velvet whoopie pies (I affectionally dub them Orbs here in PA) and butterscotch pudding (see photos).

We also had some FANTASTIC French Vietnamese food from Le Colional.  Everything was served family style so you could try several different foods.  I would make a trip back to San Francisco just to go there again...amazing!

Of course, we also got to attend some great talks AND see the city (see photos).

We also attended the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market (organized by CUESA - Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) near the bay, which I managed NOT to take any pictures of!  I did get some delicious carrot soup, strawberries and chocolate almond bark there, though...DELICIOUS!  The market is every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  You should definitely try to attend it if you are in San Francisco during those days of the week!  I really only got one morning to do some sight-seeing, so I definitely would like to plan another visit there with Brandon.

I think I'm done traveling for a little's fun, but soooo tiring.  I love conferences, too, because they get me fired up again about my research.  I definitely need to spend some time in the lab, so these conferences were just what I needed to get a fire lit under my butt, again!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Driving 101 (with a Manual Transmission)...Again

A few years ago (circa fall 2001) my boyfriend (now my hubby), Brandon, sincerely and patiently taught me how to drive his car that had a manual transmission.  We mostly practiced "stop and go" in his apartment complex's parking lot with a huge focus on the "go".  I'm sure we had a few practice sessions (maybe two?) before I was "comfortable" driving on an actual road with (gasp!) traffic.  My last memory of driving his car was after one of our blue & white cross country meets (side note:  These meets are similar to the blue & white inter squad PSU football game that happens in the spring, except this was the PSU women's cross country team obviously.  I was on the white team that year, not that it matters).  I remember screeching out of the parking lot (my trademark getaway) and nearly hitting someone from my team - good times, right?  eeek!  

I was actually getting OK at driving his car (at least I remember it that tires squealing or pedestrian lives in danger), and then for some reason I just stopped driving his car.  Now that I think more about it, though, that same year was when the September 11 attacks occurred leading to the activation of multiple National Guard Units across the nation - including Brandon's local Air National Guard unit.  Within a couple weeks of the attacks, he had swiftly withdrawn from PSU and was then stationed in Rome, NY, at NEADS (now EADS) for what turned out to be two years.  I stayed at PSU during that time (and pretty much up until now)...lived a lot, learned a little...and eventually here we are in 2010.  And, sadly, I never drove his car again....until today!

For years, literally, Brandon and I joked about me driving his car and how I always had a lame excuse.  Some examples of our brief conversations:  
Bran:  "you wanna drive?" 
Me:  "oh, I can't.  I'm wearing heels" or "I can't. I just showered" or "Nope. I broke my ankle."
I think you get it...lame!

So, yes, I had my first practice session since 2001 today.  I was inspired to learn again, after reading Miss Melly's gals guide blog (see here:  Gals Guide).  I honestly did want to drive his car all these years, but I was truly uncomfortable with the thought of not really being in control of the car since I was so out of practice.  Reading Melly's blog, though, got me thinking that it's silly that I don't know how to drive a manual transmission.  I know how to change wiper blades (seriously cake!) and perform other deceivingly easy tasks, I should know how to drive a car with a manual transmission!  Therefore,  I will be spending some quality time with Brandon to re-learn how to drive a car with a manual transmission.  

We only had an hour or so to practice today, but I feel some of it coming back to me.  I must say, I remember from before and I am realizing again today - Brandon's pretty damn patient (lucky me!).  Even with all the jerky, screeching and stalling moments, he still smiles at me and encourages me to keep trying.  :)