Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Prelim - herbs not helpful

Please see previous post "Lactation Data orgy" for background.

It's not looking good for the herbs... or the chump who paid $25 for them.

Between 3/14 and 3/25 over 18 pumping sessions, I averaged 21.13 (+/- 6.9 SD) mL breast milk per hour, 20 minute pumping sessions.

I began taking More Milk Plus 4 times a day Sat 3/26. In addition, I have been drinking Mother's Milk Tea according to the directions. Over 5 pumping sessions including 2 today (3/30), I have averaged 23.8 (+/- 3.8 SD) mL/hr.

A two-tailed t-test assuming unequal variances shows a p value of <0.28.

But I continue gathering data and get a bigger sample size... I guess it could be possible that it takes more than 5 days to work.

Even if milk production improves slightly it will still be not enough to feed my baby without supplementation unless is nearly doubles.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lactation Data Orgy

I really should be grading, but there is data to be graphed!

I use an electric breast milk pump to express milk for my baby while I am at work. I measure the amount of milk produced by each breast at each pumping, along with the time of day and time elapsed since I pumped or nursed last. The following graphs include total breast milk produced, and are posted for fun and for your critique/ interpretation. I am trying to find a pattern in order to further optimize my breast milk production, as I produce only about 1/3 to 1/2 of the milk my baby needs in a day.

Fig. 1
These are the results from two weeks of pumping, with an average of two pumping session per day. These data include both variable times between pumping sessions and variable pumping lengths. I wondered if there was a correlation between how long I pumped as to how much milk was expressed, hence

Fig. 2
It appears that pumping time is correlated with milk production. I then sought to keep pumping times constant at 20 minutes, for the next two weeks and explore whether milk production depended on time since last expression.

Fig. 3

Pumping was complete (as measured by no further increases in volume in last minute of pumping) nearly every session. More informative might be whether the rate of milk production varied with time between expression.

Fig. 4

The data are suggestive of a slight negative correlation, but the non-significance of a linear fit suggests that pumping rate is constant over varying expression intervals. Using this rate as a baseline, I intend to begin supplementing with More Milk Plus capsules and Mothers' Milk tea, two herbal remedies whose effectiveness has not been clearly documented in scientific studies (that I am aware of) to improve lactation. Nonetheless, these remedies are being recommended among laywomen as potent galactogogues. Results and comparison are expected to be posted on this blog in 2-4 weeks.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stop Naggin' Us

I have a good friend who, whenever we have time for a real in-depth talks, asks me when we are going to solve the distance-marriage problem. Nothing changes in the job situation between our talks, but that doesn't prevent her from asking fairly regularly. She brainstorms ideas of how to get Hub back home, but they are unfortunately the same venues we have already exhausted. I appreciate her concern and even pushing, but it also reminds me that there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. When I have to defend our seemingly endless separation, it makes me feel worse, as if I like it somehow. I certainly don't.

Friday, March 18, 2011

getting cold feet

For the last couple of months, I have noticed my readership go up and my comments go precipitously down ("crunchy moms" post excepted). The blog was originally meant to be a forum, but hasn't been much of one lately. Is there something wrong with my commenting settings, perhaps? Hub is very nervous about privacy issues, especially when I express strong opinions about people or organizations. Any input?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Home Schooled Students Observed

I present to you a _summary_ of 4 case studies of students/colleagues/ etc. who were extensively home schooled.

This is in no way scientific. There are probably many people I teach or know that were home schooled that have not self-identified. In addition, there's no way I can be blinded to the educational status of the people outlined here. Therefore the following observations are purely anecdotal and should not be taken by anyone to support any position you may have.

Of the four people I am referencing, all are above average in school performance. One, my colleague, is rock-star smart, but the three others, my students, were all B students.

Four out of four have loved learning. Two of the students are extremely enthusiastic to learn. They are a joy to have in class, and I predict they will be lifelong learners.

Four out of four are socially uninhibited such that they are noticeably different from their peers. One rides his bike in the hallways of the science building and is slightly eccentric. One is clearly not intimidated in any way by people her superior. She is not frightened to ask speakers or professors questions- really intelligent ones. I'd love my kids to be like her.

Three of the four seem especially close to their families.

I have other observations of home schooling from different contexts: I had cousins who were home schooled and were socially awkward. Very difficult to separate cause from effect in that case. Another observation is from a friend who is home schooling her very strong-willed 6-year old. That arrangement is filled with daily gnashing of teeth for all parties concerned.

I have little interest in home schooling my children because I am out-schooling other people's children. However, if my kids show an exceptional gift that Hub and I are sure won't blossom in the public or private schools around here, I'll drop this job like a hot potato and raise a national spelling bee champion/ enter MIT at 16 / Olympic speed skater.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Happy 300 to me

This is my 300th post. There you have it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

the REALLY small screen

Before we upgraded, we would Skype Dad every night that he was away at work. This involved finishing dinner and going upstairs to the office where the computer stays and chatting with him.

But I got an iPod Touch recently and we have wireless. So now we have Facetime. Facetime and Skype are pretty comparable in picture quality, reliability, etc. But the big difference is that the little device can join us for dinner, where the computer cannot. So now we call Dad over dinner, and "Dad" sits against the fruitbowl and talks to the kids as if he's actually there.

Boy, 2, has gotten very used to interacting with his Dad on this 4 inch screen. In fact, much giggling is achieved by Boy "feeding" his Dad, in which a piece of food is advanced toward the screen, and Dad makes a big chomping sounds and makes his mouth approach and darken the screen.

Girl, 0.5, will sit and stare at the screen and has just this week begun to smile when her Dad does something silly.

Having the small portable device allows me also to record anything funny the kids do and e-mail it whenever I am in
a wireless zone. Of course other smartphones are capable of this, without the wireless requirement..

It seems strange to watch my children interacting with a small piece of metal, but I think its a great tool to include Dad in our daily life.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Unwritten rules- guests and students

We hosted guests this weekend. They are sweet people but not very savvy, which makes them rather burdensome guests. There are a lot of unwritten/ unspoken rules that this couple either doesn't know or doesn't take seriously. Here are some of the "guest rules" they seemed to break.

1. Please don't stay too long. Even though you took the workday off, we didn't.

2. Realize that you are a burden on the household. If you follow rule #1, then rule #2 usually doesn't come into play.

Our friends have visited several times before, and they always schedule their visit to arrive for a mealtime and depart immediately after a meal. They also never offer to pay for food and never offer to take us out (their treat) as a way to share costs and burden. The last time we went out with them it was assumed to be our treat and we felt taken for granted.

3. Offer to help. See #2.

Our friends have a tendency to sit and watch me bust my butt in the kitchen. I realize there are some cultural issues here. For instance, when I was visiting others in a different culture, I offered to help and apparently offended the host. In that culture, you are suggesting that the host is unable to do their host-ly duties if you offer to help. On the other hand, I come from a culture where you simply don't watch someone else doing work unless they are an actor. It is implicit that when there is work to be done everyone pitches in until it is done, then everyone can relax together. However, I remember a family wedding in which our family paid a lot to fly there, were conscripted to the kitchen the night before to help prepare petit-fours for the reception. My Aunt, the Mother of the Bride, repeatedly criticized our edges, placement, and assembly while we were trying to help. I felt very put-upon in this case. So I can understand that this rule is not universal, but situational.

Another factor here is whether I acted like I wanted no interference, whether I asked for help, or whether I worked silently while steaming about not being asked. I can't testify to whether I was giving off an air of "If I want it done right, I'll do it myself". But I DID ask for a little help here and there (to which the woman did pitch in). I also dropped hints that weren't picked up on, and I probably did a little "silent steaming" .

To be fair, I must also note that often while I was working our guests were playing with the kids. That did make it easier to spend hours in the kitchen preparing their meals, but it did not lessen the number of hours I was in there...

4. Do your part to hold up your end of the conversation.

Our friends asked to come. Nearly demanded. They really wanted to see us. But they are simple people and are terrible conversationalists. The first 4 hours of the visit were me asking some very obvious questions about their lives, family, friends in common, city in common, sports team in common, then weather. They responded in one-phrase answers. How's your Dad? Fine. (awkward silence for a LONG time). Think the Giants will win anything next year? I dunno, I don't pay much attention (awkward silence for a LONG time). The rest of the visit was mostly silence punctuated with my questions as I thought of them. It was very interview-like.

This behavior in the past has made me extremely uncomfortable and set off my escape drive. I have left their place early the last few times I have visited. This time it was better since I was at home and concentrating on an activity, such as oh, cooking (see #2 and #3), the silence wasn't as painful as it has been otherwise. Nonetheless, I asked them to leave early this time, with a (true) excuse about work.

5. Show your gratitude.

I hate insincere compliments. So please, save me the "that was just an amazingly amazing pancake" that is meant to express your gratitude. Just say thank you. Thank your hostess for each BIG thing she does. Thanks for cooking that meal. Thanks for the coffee. Thanks for introducing us to people at church. I (personally) need a bit more than "Thanks for hosting" at the very end of the visit.

6. Take what you are given.

At the end of the visit, the husband decided to help set the breakfast table because he was really hungry. The first thing he said was "Is that all the maple syrup that you have?"

Yes. Eat honey, jelly, or Nutella on your pancakes. I forgot to but syrup on the shopping list. Just deal with it.

7. If you see that your hostess is coming down with a nasty cold during your visit, demand less of her. Offer to go early. Help yourself to the things you need. Maybe even bring her some tea, but mostly back to #3. or #1. Yes, #1.

Lest this be a backstabbing rant against my weekend + guests, I wanted to post a question to you as to some unwritten rules, especially in the universe of higher ed.

Here are some starters:

A. Even if you are chummy with your profs, use correct grammar in correspondence. Your relationship is none-the-less a professional one in the end. Act like it.

B. Office hours are a time we've dedicated to being available to you. Show up to them instead of just dropping by. I understand if you have conflicts, e-mail me for another appointment, no problem. Just try your best to not expand my schedule by coming by anytime you want with your questions.

But don't be afraid to come. When I put my office hours down, I am setting aside that time for you. I am obliged to drop what I am doing to attend to your questions.

C. Formally ask for letters of reference. Don't just drop the address off on my desk without asking 1. whether I can write you a GOOD one and 2. Have the time before the deadline. Ask in person if you can. More here

D. Sure ask about our kids. Chat. I want to get to know you, mostly. But save the long irrelevant stories of your home life for some time when I don't look like I have a deadline looming.

What are YOUR unwritten rules??