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January 5, 2012

I’m pretty hungry for science on the infant-parent relationship these days (which marks a shift–normally the studies I read ask about the quality of the participants’ sex lives), and this seems like a good one!
Note that “co-sleeping” here does not mean the same bed–it means the same room.



January 4, 2012

Because I’m lazy, because I’m currently importing Baby Einstein Lullaby CD’s onto my laptop, because my back aches and I can’t even see the space bar on the other side of my belly, and because my house is too messy to even think about, I’m going to do a New Years post that isn’t even really MY post, since I’m stealing the questions from someone else who stole them from someone else. So, without further ado. . .

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

I was going to say “ask someone else to tie my shoes for me” but then I realized that probably isn’t true. So instead I’ll fess up to being excited to receiving something called the Nose Frieda Snot Sucker as a present.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Hmm, well let’s see. Here they are. 

Number 1: Success! But I DID lose my computer power cord for like 6 weeks, which I decided meant that the fates were telling me I should do no more than 3 hours of work a day (which is how long one charge from Ethan’s cord would last). It worked out well for me.

Number 2 (fab abs): Epic fail, as is evident here:

32 Weeks, 12/13/2011

Number 3 (take more photos): In spite of complete inability to take photos at weddings, I really DID take more photos this year. But there is clearly room for improvement.

Numbers 4-11 (lots of little things): various successes and failures. I did not, however, drink nearly enough champagne. To be remedied this year, one hopes, for the love of god.

And will I make new ones? How about a repeat of the drinking more champagne one, and oh, I guess to you know, be a decent parent.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Oh lordy, I feel like the whole world is pregnant, and yet, why can I not remember who gave birth in 2011?! Please don’t hate me if your baby was born in 2011–today I also demanded that Ethan tell me where he put my coffee whole holding it in my hand. I’m an insane person, ok?

Oh Conor! He was born in 2011! Damn he’s a cute kid.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully, no.

5. What countries did you visit?

That’s kind of a presumptuous one, don’t you think? I feel like the next question is going to be “which newspapers did you acquire?” or “how many cars did you buy?” But since you asked: England, As I’m sure you recall.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

A passion for cleaning our house.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Oh wow. Well I hate to fall down on the obvious here, but finding out we were going to be parents is a big one. May 31st.  It was pretty stereotypical as far as these moments go. I screamed to Ethan from the bathroom at some crazy early hour in the morning, and Ethan was like “oh, huh, wow,” which later turned into something more closely resembling excitement and awakeness. It was a good day.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Being on Fox News, as sad as that is. Good god that’s pathetic. Please say something more resembling an “achievement” happens in 2012. Like being on E! Entertainment Television.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Let’s just say that I have yet to be able to NOT lie when the dentist asks how often I floss. I’m sure there’s something bigger, but apparently I am very good at blocking things like that out.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thankfully no.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Well I will say that the smartest thing I bought was a studded blue collar for One Eye. It’s very him.

12. Where did most of your money go?

These questions are so mean! Do they even want me to be excited about 2012. Sheesh.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Skipping this one on the off chance I’m boring you to death or sound like an insufferable pregnant person.

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Definitely this one!

15. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter?Richer or poorer? 

Happier, Fatter, Same.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Staying at home, cooking.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Being busy.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

At home in Minnesota with all of Ethan’s family and our very first Christmas tree!

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts. . .

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

Can I pretend I didn’t read Freedom by Jonathan Franzen until 2011? Thanks.

I figure it’s just insulting at this point to make a new year’s resolution about posting to this blog more. So how about, this post not withstanding, I just say I’ll try to post better? In the mean time I’m off to waddle upstairs and fall asleep half way through folding some laundry. It’s really sexy. Just ask Ethan.

Calling In The Big Guns When It Comes To Excuses

November 9, 2011

I do realize that it appears that I totally abandoned project Science Gnome since mid August. I do realize that I have four more beautiful weddings to tell you about. I realize that there is a world of science-y psychology related scandals and stories to share. But here are my excuses:


I’m pregnant! And have been since around May. More on this later, but the important details are February 6, 2012 (due date). I accidentally just wrote “dude” date, which leads me to the next thing: Boy (gender!). Ethan and I are over the moon and can’t wait to meet the little guy.

Now, second and far less exciting excuse: the dissertation. Now don’t get all crazy excited and start thinking I’ve actually written anything or won anything or something. When I say “dissertation” I mean basically that I’ve been getting it off the ground, getting some fabulous research assistants together, and getting the whole data collecting machine in gear, so that when the previously mentioned Boy arrives, I will actually be able to continue to be somewhat mindlessly productive even if I haven’t had more than hour of sleep.

So, those are my excuses. Now, I will begin catching up and atoning for my absence, which I have no doubt has injured all 3 of you who read this blog.

Science of Relationships Strikes Again

August 15, 2011

Many thanks to Science of Relationships for posting a version of this post this week, and with videos! Needless to say, this is far far more exciting than the boring video-less posts I put here.

Also, just back from North Carolina where I spent approximately 40 hours talking nonstop with my closest friends over fantastic food/cocktails/desserts. We’ve made this a roughly annual affair, creatively called Girls Weekend. I’d show you pictures, but you know, then I’d have to kill you and all that. All I can say is that it’s somewhere between Eyes Wide Shut and Golden Girls. Use your imagination. Or as one of our husbands called it, “Ya Ya Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.”  Needless to say, I’m completely refreshed and ready to take on the world.

Marriage Lesson From Science: Pick Your Battles

August 2, 2011

So, a few weeks ago (maybe even months ago at this point? Is that possible? This summer is disappearing!), Ethan and I had a rare monster fights. The kind where I say something really intelligent thing like “oh ok, so I’ll just never state my opinion again!” with smoke coming out of my ears, and Ethan responds with “You’re a crazy person!” pointing to the giant snarl on the side of my head as evidence. I remember I was so amped up even after the fight was over. My stomach was all twisty, my heart was still racing, and it felt like every muscle was still clenched, even though we’d made up (and I’d brushed my hair)!

Sadly, I think occasional fights like this are just a part of marriage, unless you’re one of those super passive aggressive couples who (in the words of the fabulous Rita Rudner), just serve their spouse bread with a frozen stick of butter and watch them struggle. Big decisions are getting made with another person, and your lives are so intertwined, you’re bound to disagree. And even those butter-struggle people are likely to feel the physical effects of disagreements with their partners.

So, you’re probably thinking, “wow, Maryhope, thank god I read this. I never would have known that fights make me feel crappy” and “this is such a cheery topic.” Here’s the thing it turns out that how often couples fight and how they behave in those fights matters! And it doesn’t just matter to you or your friends that have to listen to you, it matters to your cells!

There is some really powerful evidence that spousal conflict actually impairs your immune system–it hurts your ability to fend off illness or heal if you’re injured. In one cool study, couples agreed to spend a night in a hospital lab twice, about a month apart. Each time, their blood was sampled hourly looking for evidence of stress hormones as well as evidence of immune functioning. Sounds like a pretty fabulous date night, right? The first time the couples came in they had a conversation that was supportive and about something they wanted to work on together. The second time the couple came in, they were asked to discuss the biggest problem in their relationship. During these visits they were also given a small standardized wound. The interesting thing was that the wound they received when they had a conflict discussion took an average of a full day longer to heal than the one they received when they’d had the support conversation! Plus! If the couples had lower levels of hostile behaviors in their interactions (no matter which one), their wounds healed at 40% faster than those that did have hostility.

To me, this is crazy awesome cool science. How we behave with our spouses can attack our cells all virus-style.  I mean, how this hasn’t become a page-turning Michael Crichton style novel I’ll never understand, but that is I guess what makes me a nerd.

The good news was that Ethan and I DID make up, and we don’t fight too often.When you think about how our fights can make it more likely that we’ll catch that nasty bug going around the office, it makes the work that goes into having a good relationship and not fighting seem all the more worth it.

Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Loving, T. J., Stowell, J. R., Malarkey, W. B., Lemeshow, S., Dickinson, S., & Glaser, R. (2005). Hostile marital interactions, proinflammatory cytokine production, and wound healing. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, 1377-1384.

Currently Trying to Master These Dance Moves.

July 13, 2011

It’s harder than it looks!

I Travelled the World and Wrote A Novel

June 14, 2011

Ok, so those are lies. But given how long it’s been since I posted here, I should have been able to accomplish both of those things. However, sadly, instead, here is a more accurate recap:

1. I co-taught a 3-week intensive course on Health & Relationships–interesting, learned a lot, like for instance I am capable for talking two and half hours straight about psychology and that Grey’s Anatomy is shockingly full of good examples of health and relationships research.

2. I finally finished the dissertation prospectus and will be officially proposing it to my committee, who I hope will swoon, in a few weeks.

3. Finished an article, which will be submitted tomorrow.

4. Bought a table cloth with bees on it that Tux rubbed himself all over, so it now has bees and cat hair on it. Lovely.

5. Got good at cleaning cat hair off of things.

6. Didn’t write thank you notes I need to write.

7. Watched Ethan’s band play their CD Release show, which was totally awesome. I felt like Gwenyth Paltrow, except Ethan’s band is way cooler than Coldplay. Check out the music video for one of their songs!

8. Did the winter-summer clothing switch during which I threw out some clothes I’m pretty sure have made the switch, unworn, for a decade. Included was a shiny “going out top” from college and a pair of jeans so tight they wouldn’t fit Tux. Pathetic.

So, ok, I was half reasonably busy and half ho-humming my way through the days. Not too bad! The good news is that I wasn’t multitasking, which we all know is bad. When I was committed to watching Working Girl on Netflix , for instance, I wasn’t also trying to grade my students’ final projects. That would not have been fair to Melanie Griffith.